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Dear Caroline,

This was your 2nd Christmas, but kind of your first real Christmas. In 2014 you were just a month old and not even interested in the lights on the Christmas tree. This year, however, you loved them! We bought a real tree from the fire department down the road. We only hung the indestructible ornaments on the tree this year- and lots of lights (of course). 

Every morning, we'd come downstairs and you'd point to the tree. I'd set you down and turn the lights on. You'd walk up to the tree and look, occasionally touching an ornament. You never really pulled at anything and listened so well when we asked you to be gentle. 

This morning the tree was gone (12/28/15). We had to take it down because Nana Bella and Grrrrrandpa are visiting for New Years and we need the space. You pointed at where the tree used to be and looked confused. I told you we'd celebrate again next year and we played with some of your new things.

On Christmas Eve, it is a tradition in my family to have taco salad for dinner. We have carried on that tradition in our family as well. You are usually not a fan of taco salad, but on this night you tried it (yet again), and this time you asked for more. That's my girl! You got to open a couple of presents on Christmas Eve as well. We told you to go pick out a present, and you did. You knew exactly what we meant!

Christmas morning rolled around, and it was no different of a day for you. You don't know the concept of Christmas yet, and there is no extra excitement this year. Next year will be a different story. This year, however, you are just over a year old and every day is like Christmas for you!
We started the day by eating breakfast with Daddy. It is very rare that we get to wake up with Daddy at home! When we do, you are always excited! We then took the dogs and went to the golf course and let them run around. This is our 2nd annual golf course visit, and we plan to continue for a long time. The golf course is quiet on Christmas morning, and we can have the place to ourselves (for the most part). This Christmas was a beautiful day. So nice, that we could wear short sleeves! Last year you were all bundled up in a carrier against Mama. This year, you were walking down the path on your own. You were splashing in puddles, looking at the tee markers, and simply having a blast!

When we came home, it was time for your nap. You slept, and then woke to have Christmas snacks! We didn't make much, since it is just the 3 of us, but we had some good things for you to try. You loved the cheese spread on Ritz crackers, and, of course, liked the pizza rolls.

Then it was time! Time to open presents! You helped rip the paper off, and then you were extremely excited to play with the paper and boxes! You really didn't care much about what was in those boxes. :)

Now, a few days after Christmas, you have shown us that you love your presents. You flip through your new books, and you love your new flashcards! Your great auntie gave you some wooden animal toys that click together. You are enjoying figuring out how to pull them apart and click them back together. You are trying on your new clothes, and cuddling with your new lion that we named Lisa. You immediately gave her kisses when you opened the package!

One of your favorite things this year was going to see the Christmas lights at Seneca Park. When we got there, we got you out of the car seat and you sat up front on Mama's lap. You were thrilled! You pointed at all of the lights, pointed at the moon, and touched all of the buttons in the front of the car. You had a blast.

We had such an amazing Christmas- just the 3 of us. I love you so much. I can't wait to see you next Christmas! You are going to be so excited for Santa to come!

Kisses for a lifetime.


This sensory activity was amazing! In our discussion group for Mamas Organized Chaos we set up a weekly play activity event. Each week, a new member of our mamas group is choosing a new idea. This week, the activity was to create a jello sensory play.

All you have to do is use gelatin and make a jello mold. I used 2 gelatin packets and added 1/2 cup of ice cold water and stirred. I then added 1 1/2 cups hot water, and again stirred. I poured this mixture into a pie pan and added magnetic letters (you can use any easily washable toys). I then put it in the refrigerator for several hours.

I popped out the jello mold, gave Caroline a spoon and let her have at it! She was unsure at first, but then dove right in. The gelatin doesn't have much flavor, so she wasn't inclined to eat it. She did thoroughly enjoy throwing the jello, however!

She got a couple of the letters out, made a HUGE mess, and then decided she was all done. She motioned the sign with her hands and informed me of this! Such a big girl!

We are definitely planning to do this activity again! As Caroline gets older she is going to love figuring out ways to get the letters (or other items out) of the jello.

Well, year one is over, and to celebrate, Caroline thought she'd get her FIRST tooth! She's been teething since the day she turned 1 year old. It is now about 3 weeks later and we can finally (kind of) see the tooth! LOL

I started to feel the tooth ever so slightly the day of her first birthday. We went in for her 1 year well check the next day, and the pediatrician confirmed my thoughts! Her bottom right central incisor was making its appearance! She also agreed that her entire top gums were swollen and getting ready to do something as well!

My hope is that Caroline just blasts through and catches up on teeth! Rip the band-aid off and just do it all at once! This might limit her misery and mine as well haha.

I knew it was real this time, and all I can say is things were just a little bit different than the many other times I thought she might be teething (and never was).

Her teething symptoms:

- Slightly elevated temperature around 100.8
- Runny/loose stool
- Decreased appetite

Now, mind you, not only is she teething, she is now walking, she is in her year 1 wonder week (leap 8), and she is learning a ton! So, the tiredness and crankiness is most likely a combination of all these things happening at once. As mentioned recently, not only are we solidly on a 2 nap schedule at the moment, her naps have been moved earlier and bedtime as well to accommodate her extra cranky/tired mood. She is now napping at 9:30 instead of 10, and 1:30/2 instead of 2:30/3. Bedtime is 6:30 instead of 7:30.

The tooth is taking FOREVER! We can just start to see it when she opens her mouth, 3 weeks after I felt it for the first time! Amazing how long this is taking. I am really hoping the others go faster for her sake.

What we are doing to help her:

We noticed that she was taking a very long time to get to sleep at night. She seemed to have trouble getting comfortable, which is unlike her. So, before bed, we started giving her ibuprofen and putting Orajel on. During the day, I only gave tylenol on an as needed basis (if she seemed extra cranky and nothing else was working). We give her frozen teethers, and she is eating a lot of pouches to supplement for the decreased appetite- which very well may be because her gums are hurting and she isn't interested in chewing.

Excited to see when the next teeth come in! I am so very happy that she waited until we were done nursing to get her first tooth! Hooray for my nipples being safe! LOL
In early November (about 3 weeks before Caroline turned 1 year old), Caroline took her very first unassisted steps. We were outside doing some exploring. She loved holding onto my hands and walking, so I decided to bring out her walker. She pushed it along the sidewalk and was having a blast. Suddenly, she stopped and walked around her walker. She took a couple of steps without holding on, and we were both so excited that she fell into my arms!

That day she repeated taking a few steps at a time. She was thrilled and so was I! Daddy was on a trip, unfortunately, but we got on Skype that evening and showed off her new abilities to Daddy, her grandparents and auntie.

By her 1st birthday she was taking about 15-20 steps at once.

About 2 weeks later she was wanting to walk instead of crawl and was doing a fantastic job!

She taught herself how to stand up in the middle of the floor. Once that happened, she was off and running!

We are now 3 weeks out from her 1st birthday. She walks everywhere. She falls on occasion, but simply stands back up and gets back to walking. She is a pro!

As soon as she started walking, a switch seemed to flip. She was a toddler, and acting like one! Of course, multiple things were and are still happening in these weeks. She learned how to walk, how to stand, she is getting her very first tooth, and she is in the year 1 wonder week (leap 8), and learning lots of language skills. She is tired due to all of the extra energy she is exerting while walking. She is tired due to her body dealing with teething, and she has been in pain on some days from teething as well. She is learning so much during this leap.

As a result of all of the above, she is not only on 2 naps every single day, those nap times have been pushed up to accommodate her new tiredness and crankiness :) She naps now at 9:30 instead of 10, and at 1:30 instead of 2:30/3. She is also going to bed at 6:30 instead of 7/7:30! Once we adjusted her schedule, she was a much happier toddler!

It has been amazing to see Caroline learning so much in the last few weeks. I love that she can walk and go explore on her own. One of our favorite things to do is simply to go outside and walk down the sidewalk together. She finds squirrels, trees, leaves, etc. She points at cars and watches people. We walk down to the swings and swing. She is  growing up so fast!

In all of this growing up, she is actually giving me more snuggles than ever. She is so tired and exhausted all of the time, that she loves being held and loves giving hugs and kisses right now. I was even able to take her in to mama and daddy's bed for a 10 minute cuddle session! YAY! Best part of my day!

Our discipline philosophy includes the word "no". It also includes explaining to our child why we expect a certain behavior, or why she is not allowed to do something. Continuing with our "start as you mean to go on" post and philosophy, we started this early. Really from day 1 we have been taking the time to explain things to Caroline and also expose her to the word "no". 

There are times that I felt silly doing all of the above, when clearly she didn't understand me yet. I viewed it as her and I both getting practice, however. So, even when I knew she didn't understand, I went ahead and explained things to her. 

Now that she is 1 year old, I can clearly see that she does understand much more. I believe she is starting to understand what "no" means at this point, and she has little toddler tantrums when she isn't allowed to do something. There are times that she simply ignores me, and I wonder if she really does understand. Below I have a list of some things that she clearly understands, however. Knowing that she understands these phrases makes it easier for me to realize that she probably understands "no" as well at this point.

She understands simple tasks. Caroline understands when we...

Ask her to come over to us.
Ask her to put something in a specific location.
Ask her to put away her toys in a specific location.
Tell her we are going out and to please go get her shoes. (she goes over to where we put them on)
Tell her it is naptime/bedtime.
Ask her if she is ready for her nap.
Ask her if she is "all done" at the table.
Ask her if she wants "up". 
Ask her to share.
Ask her to give kisses.
Ask her to be gentle.
Ask her if she wants a bath. (she goes to the bathtub)
and much more...

She also understands simple "commands" as I'll call them. She understands when we say...

"Touchdown" that she is supposed to put her hands in the air.
"High five", she gives a high five.
"How old are you?", she puts up 1 finger.
"Clap", she claps.
"Dance", she dances.

As a result, I have to assume that when I ask her to be gentle with something or when I tell her "no" we can't do something, that she is to the point that she understands me- even if she doesn't stop what she's doing or start being gentle instead of rough, etc. 

Yesterday, Caroline had her toolbox and threw it. I explained to her that we don't throw (she's heard it many times before). I asked her to be gentle with the toolbox (since I know she knows that term), and I used the word "no". She did this about 5 times. I repeated my explanation, and told her no each time. Each time I was a little more stern with my voice. She chose to ignore me. So, on the fifth time, I took the toolbox away and put it up on the table. She was extremely upset and threw a little tantrum. I also took the opportunity to tell her that I know how frustrating it can be to not get something you want. I made sure she knew that I understood how she felt. I explained to her how this could have been avoided as well. I then redirected her attention to something new and explained that, while she couldn't have the toolbox back, she could play with any of her other toys. She calmed down and after several minutes of calm playtime, I put the toolbox back on the floor. She obviously is not to the point that she understands everything I am saying yet. She doesn't understand when I explain to her that I understand she is frustrated and that it is ok to feel that way. I say it anyway. I want to be in the practice of saying these things, and for her to be used to hearing me. 

This was my first time having to take a toy away. While she didn't listen when I asked her to be gentle, I do think this was a good experience for her and for me. We will focus on being consistent and clear with her. She is now old enough and understands so much, that my expectations are growing with her. She is going to be allowed to cry and work it out. I will help her through it, of course, but since she understands so much, she will not simply get what she wants simply because she is crying. It is hard to not give in, but it is worth it to get the desired outcome and positive behavior. Again, consistency is going to be key. We'll update more as we have more and more experiences to share!

I am now an Usborne Books Consultant and I am so excited to share these books with other mamas. They are amazing!

Picture of Peek Inside the Garden
When Caroline was 6 months old, we were gifted our first Usborne book. The book is called Peek Inside the Garden and is one of the Peek Inside series. I was immediately impressed with how sturdy the book is. It has flaps with hidden treasures on each page, holes to look through and so many details. Caroline is fascinated with the colors, the details, and, of course, the flaps! She is now 1 year old, and none of the flaps have ripped (this book has been through 6 months of baby handling), and it is still one of her favorites. As she gets older, she finds more details on each page. She is learning and exploring the book in new ways each month! I was planning on getting more of these books because of how impressed I was, so I decided to become an Usborne consultant. I want to share these wonderful books with as many mamas as I can! The books are high quality, and there are so many options and different types of books with Usborne. The website even allows you to shop by age, which is incredibly helpful! I definitely put my mama approved stamp on these, and Caroline has put a baby and now toddler approved stamp as well!

 If you want to keep up with all the latest discounts and deals, friend me on Facebook at 

My wish list is so long, now that I've had a chance to really learn more about these books.

Here are a few of my favorites:

Picture of Look Inside Your Body
Look Inside Your Body
The Look Inside Your Body book looks amazing. Lots of flaps within flaps to discover more information!

Picture of Very First Reading Set
Very First Reading Set
The Very First Reading Set is a great first set for kids to learn to read. There are parts for the adult to read followed by simple reading for the child.

Picture of Secrets of the Seashore
Secrets of the Seashore

The Secrets of the Seashore book is part of the Shine A Light series. You literally shine a light through the pages to discover hidden pictures! So much fun!
I'm going to miss this view...
Weaning from breastfeeding/formula is actually a gradual process from birth! As you take away feedings and graduate to the next phase, you might not be thinking about weaning yet, but you are well on your way. I'll talk about the specifics of the later months below, but to start off, here is a look at how our transition took place month by month:

Newborn (1-2 weeks): 8 scheduled feedings during the day + ~3 MOTN feedings
Newborn (3-4 weeks): 6 scheduled feedings during the day + 1 MOTN feeding
Month 2: 7 scheduled feedings during the day + 2 MOTN feedings
Month 3: 5 scheduled feedings during the day + 1 MOTN feeding
Months 4-8: 4 scheduled feedings during the day & no MOTN feeding
*Started solids in month 4 
Month 9: 3 scheduled feedings during the day & no MOTN feeding
Month 10: 2 scheduled feedings during the day & no MOTN feeding

The 2 nursing sessions that we had left during month 10 were first thing in the morning, and about 30 minutes to an hour before bedtime. Going down to 2 feedings was when I really started to focus on weaning. Our goal was to wean from nursing at 12 months of age.

My plan from here was to remove the morning feeding at 11.5 months and replace it with whole milk.

At 12 months, we would remove the last feeding before bed and replace it with whole milk as well.

Caroline's doctor preferred that we wait until closer to 12 months before introducing whole milk. Two weeks didn't seem to matter in my mind, but we went with the flow.
My new plan was to then remove the morning feeding at 12 months, and 1-2 weeks later remove the bedtime feeding.

What actually happened was an accelerated version. I needed to be on medication that was not nursing friendly 1 week prior to Caroline turning 1 year old. As a result, with doctor approval, we weaned her off of nursing in pretty much 3 days.

Our actual weaning process:

- 1 week prior to turning 1 year old: Removed morning feed & replaced with whole milk.

- The next day: Removed bedtime feeding as well & replaced with whole milk.
Caroline was NOT happy with this, so I nursed her before bed.

- Day 3: Only whole milk offered.

It took Caroline and I a few days to adjust. She was not used to the taste of cow's milk, and we had to figure out the timing and temperature for her to drink the milk successfully.

Our goal was/is to get 12-20 oz of milk in her per day, and this was not happening in the first few days.

Here's what ended up working for us:

- Offering milk first thing in the morning and as a snack after her 2nd nap. These have become the 2 big offerings. We offer about 6 oz each time.

- Offering a little bit before bed. She typically doesn't want this, and she also doesn't ask to nurse. We offer about 4 oz and she drinks probably 1-3 oz depending on the day.

- With meals we still only offer water. We want her eating solid foods, not getting full on milk.

- Warming up the milk helped a ton! She likes it as hot as I can make it without it burning her! (She's become less sensitive to this after a couple of weeks).

- Having Daddy offer milk. At first I made the mistake of offering her milk when I normally nurse her, and even where I usually nurse her. That was a no go before bed anyway. We had Daddy offer it, and, while she didn't really drink it at first, she also didn't cry to be nursed.

- Offering in the same style sippy cup that she's been using for water. We give her a heads up that it is milk, but since she's accustomed to drinking out of these sippy cups, we wanted to keep it the same.

All in all, the process went extremely smoothly for us. Caroline never seemed to bat an eye or really complain about not being nursed. It was a bittersweet process, and I struggled emotionally with not nursing anymore over the course of 3 days- it was just more sudden than I had envisioned. In an ideal world I would have been able to stick to the plan, but we all know- that doesn't usually get to happen!

Here is my letter to Caroline as we stopped nursing. I might have cried while writing it, and every time I've read it since...

I would like to announce an exciting opportunity! I connected with another blogger recently, and it turns out she is a food blogger that has a toddler/baby recipe book coming out. She is partnering with us for an exclusive look at a handful of the recipes! All we have to do in return is try the recipes (um, YAY!) and rate them! I am so excited about this because I am constantly looking for new recipes to try with Caroline, and I am always hearing other mamas ask for recipe ideas as well. This is a perfect way to get some motivation and be introduced to some fabulous new ideas!

For starters, I'd like to introduce this wonderful food blogger! Her name is Sonali and she is a board certified Emergency Medicine physician, mom, culinary school graduate, recipe developer and cookbook author.  Such an impressive resume! Check out her blog (The Foodie Physician) for tons of great recipes!

Her new book, entitled Natural Baby Food, will be published in early 2016 by Hatherleigh Press. You can pre-order this book on Amazon! The book has over 125 recipes and includes food for toddlers and even purees for babies.

The exiting news for us is that we get to preview several of these recipes, try them, and rate them! We are going to take on 1 recipe per month, so it won't be too time consuming and you will all be able to participate :)

If you are interested, please go to my facebook page and join our discussion group. Don't forget to read the group details and pm me the info needed!  The event is open to any mamas in our group. Happy eating!

Dear Caroline,

Today was such a special day. November 26, 2015. Today was your 2nd Thanksgiving (the first one you got to experience outside of the hospital), and it was your 1st birthday. You are ONE!

Last night, as I was putting you to bed, you reached up and put your hand on my cheek. You only ever do this when I nurse you, and since you are no longer nursing, I miss it so much. It was so sweet. It was as if you knew I needed to feel that again. It brought tears to my eyes. It was
one of the best moments that we've shared. Thank you.

Today you woke up at 7 am as you always do. I came in with your warm milk. I sang happy birthday to you as I turned off your sound machine and opened up the curtains. You rolled around in your crib and snuggled with your blanket. I came to get you and you pointed for your milk. I held you in the glider as you drank. We then got you dressed and came downstairs.

You ate breakfast and, as I was cleaning up,
Daddy came home. He got to come home nice and early today since it was Thanksgiving. We got to spend the whole day with him! The first thing we did was let you open your birthday presents. You loved everything and had fun pulling the paper off. You stood right by my side the whole time, not holding onto anything. You are getting so strong and so good at balancing.

We played for awhile, and then it was time for your nap. While you slept, we got the Thanksgiving snacks ready (and had a few ourselves). When you woke up, we had lunch. You had deviled eggs, pumpkin roll, cheese and crackers.

After lunch we went outside. Daddy and I played catch with the football as you explored in the grass and crawled up the sidewalk. You had a blast in the swing. It was in the 60's today- absolutely beautiful.

You took another long nap after Skyping with Nana Bella, Grandpa, Auntie Green, Sienna, Oliver, and your great Grandma. Daddy and I got dinner ready. When you woke up your plate was
ready to go. You devoured everything! You ate turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, cranberries, and rolls. As I am typing this I am realizing that we never ate the yams- they are still in the oven! OOPS! I guess we'll have to make those again.

Once dinner was done, you got to FaceTime with Grandma V, Papa Rey and Auntie Maria. We talked on the phone with your Uncle Christian as well. Such a busy girl! You showed off your awesome walking skills and even did some direction changes mid walking.

You were so happy today. You were also so tired and so cranky at times. LOL You don't have any teeth yet, and we've said this before- but we really do think you are teething right now. We'll find out soon.

Tomorrow, Daddy is taking another half day, so we will get to have another family day. Your birthday party with your friends is on Saturday! You are a busy girl right now.

I love you so much. This day was nothing short of special.

We put you to bed early tonight because you seemed to be asking to sleep. Again, you held my face in your hands tonight as we said goodnight. You then looked at me and put your lips against mine. My heart melted right there. I love you more than words can say. I am so excited to see what this next year will hold.

Dream big my sweet Caroline. You can do anything your little heart desires. You are determined, focused, resilient, and so intelligent. You are sweet, kind and thoughtful. You have so many amazing qualities shining through already. I am so happy that I get the pleasure of being your mama.

Caroline is just about to have her first birthday in a couple of days. She's gotten much better at not throwing her food and her cup at the table. I wanted to take a minute to share what we are doing to be successful with this. The reality is that kids throw food and cups for entertainment, to learn, to test their boundaries, etc. So, we are far from done with this battle, but I think we've started in the right direction.

Here are the steps we take to help prevent and stop her from throwing food:


1. We say no
I think it is important for her to hear the word no. She may not understand it yet, but she'll catch on eventually.
2. We explain the desired behavior
Children need to know that we don't want them to do something, but they also need to know what we'd like them to be doing instead. It is also great to offer a choice if you can. In this case we explain that she can either:
                - Leave her food on the plate  or...
                - Eat the food

3. Remove the problem
We go through the above process of saying no and explaining about 3 times at this age (since we know she doesn't quite understand what we mean yet). If she doesn't stop, we take her plate away.

4. Wait for the child to ask for it again
If she asks for her plate again (at this age she points to it), I instead give her one bite of food and ask her to eat it if she is hungry. If she eats it and doesn't throw it, I give her a second bite, then a third. We tell her that she is doing a good job eating her food and PRAISE PRAISE PRAISE as usual! Giving good feedback is so important as well. If she eats them all successfully without throwing anything, she gets her plate back. 

5. Repeat and be consistent
This won't work fast to solve the problem. Babies are still learning. You have to do this over and over and over again. It feels like I've done it 1000 times. Just when I think I've gotten nowhere, she turns a corner and starts doing really well with it! I won't lie, it is frustrating at times and I have not always been perfectly patient. It sounds easier on paper than it is in reality. Just hang in there and it WILL pay off.

6. Reevaluate the situation
Let's say that none of the above works. She has asked for her plate back and continued to throw food. If she hasn't eaten much, I try giving her something else to eat. It is possible that she is throwing the food because she isn't enjoying it, or maybe her gums hurt and the food is too hard, etc. I try giving her one of her favorites: yogurt, banana, pancakes, string cheese, etc. If she still doesn't want to eat those items, I tell her she is all done and we get down from the table. 

7. Challenge your baby
I've seen with Caroline that she simply gets bored and likes to be challenged at times. So, now that she is approaching the 1 year mark, we started giving her a fork at mealtime. At the beginning of the meal I place food on the fork and set it down. She then picks up the fork and feeds herself. We repeat this until she tells me she wants to try herself. I let her. She makes a mess, but she is making a mess while trying to learn a valuable new skill. This is much different than throwing food. Giving her a fork has helped cut back on the food throwing considerably.

To prevent cup throwing:

Since there are distinct times that your little one is drinking during a meal, we try to be proactive with this one.

While Caroline is drinking, we tell her "on the table when you are done, please". We tap the table while we say this. Sometimes we say it several times as she drinks. If she puts it on the table, we PRAISE PRAISE PRAISE. If she throws the cup on the floor, we say no and explain what she needs to do. We either leave the cup on the floor until she asks for it later in the meal, or we pick it up and keep it out of reach on the table. At this age we give it back to her when she asks for it (as long as she continues to drink).

As with anything, you can expect your child to understand more as they get older. Therefore, the steps can evolve and the consequences can and should change. When Caroline is old enough to understand, she will not be getting her cup back if she throws it. She'll have to wait until after the meal is finished. Don't be afraid to alter things to work for your situation and your family. Make sure you reevaluate what is expected and what the consequences will be as they learn and understand more. Keep in mind what your baby currently understands, and, while you should set high expectations, keep things realistic and don't actually let it frustrate you. It truly is a phase, and it really will pass. 

Dear Caroline,

As we get closer to your first birthday, you are mastering SO. MANY. SKILLS. I am just in awe as I watch you this week.  You are growing up before my eyes.

Here are just a few of things you are doing so well just in the last couple of weeks, many just this past week:

- Taking up to 10-12 steps on your own
- Changing direction while you walk (pivot!)
- Moving your walker in different directions when you use it (even picking it up and re-positioning it)
- Using a fork and a spoon (this morning you successfully used your fork to pick up 6 bites in a row, and used the fork to "spoon" yogurt to your mouth with very little spillage)
- Can point out specific objects or pictures in a book (you can learn the name of a new picture or object in 1 day!)
- Can point to our eyebrows, chin, nose, ears, belly button, etc. when asked
- Climbed DOWN 1 stair on your own
- Ate artichoke leaves like a big girl and put the leaf in the scrap bowl
- Can motion that you are "all done" at the table
- Pooping on the potty (have even asked me by going into the bathroom on your own once)
- Drinking milk like a big girl in the mornings and afternoons, with a few sips in the evening (you like it as hot as we can make it for you)

I'm sure I am forgetting something! You are learning at light speed lately!

Oh, I did!

You also recently learned to...

- High five
- Put both hands in the air for "touchdown"
- Put up 1 finger when we ask "How old is Caroline?"

You are just amazing. When we ask you something, you sit and think. It is so obvious that you are trying so hard. And 9 times out of 10, you come up with the correct answer. I love that you take your time when answering a question. I love that you are so eager to learn, because I am so eager to teach you. Every day is fascinating around here because of you.

I can't even begin to describe the emotion that I feel leading up to your first birthday. This year has been the best year of our lives. You have brought so many smiles to my face, and so many smiles to your father's face. You've made me a better person already. Your laughter, your love, your smile, your sweetness- they are so infectious. I am the luckiest person in the world to have you as my daughter, and your daddy as my husband.

I am so excited to watch you grow. I am so excited to see what the future will hold for you; for us; for our family. What an amazing year this has been. Here's to many many many more!

I love you with all my heart. Thank you for making our world what it is. Thank you for reminding us what unconditional love looks like.

On this Thanksgiving, and on every single day, I am thankful for you. I am thankful for our amazing family.

I love you more than words can say.


Dear Caroline,

Yesterday was the first day in your life that I have not breastfed you. You are 1 week away from being 1 year old. 1 week away from being a toddler instead of an infant! Time is flying by and it is bittersweet. With each new milestone I am so excited to see what life brings to us in your new phase, but I am also saddened to let go of some things. This is one of those moments.

I knew it was coming. I knew that I was planning on breastfeeding you for 1 year. We timed it perfectly and you were weaned down to just 2 nursing sessions per day. You always nursed well, but I also knew that you wouldn't ask to be nursed if I didn't offer it one day. It was just one of those things that you enjoyed, but I knew you'd move past quickly as well.

My plan was to take the morning feeding away and let you adjust for a week or so. Then I would lessen the amount you were taking at the evening feeding, and after about a week of that, remove the final feeding. Unfortunately, these steps had to be accelerated. I needed to be on medication this week that I can't take while nursing. So, it was time. On Tuesday I removed the AM feeding. You didn't even notice as you gulped down your warmed whole milk. On Wednesday, I tried removing the evening feeding as well. I made the mistake of offering you cow's milk in the glider that I nurse you in. You were upset and didn't understand. I nursed you. Yesterday I didn't sit in the glider, and I had Daddy give you the warmed milk. While you didn't take to the milk, you also didn't ask to be nursed. You were ok. You are such a big girl.

We are now two days in, and you are handling this like a champ! You don't always drink your milk (you are still getting used to it), and I am still trying to figure out the best temperature for it and best time to give it to you, but you also aren't asking to be nursed. You are amazing.

I don't feel like I got a chance to mentally prepare for this, since we had to accelerate the timing. I think I had a sweet goodbye planned in my head or something. I'm not sure why, but I am so emotional about this change. I miss getting extra snuggles during feeding time. I miss your hand on my face, and even your tiny little fingers up my nose. We were both ready to be done nursing, but I wasn't ready to let go of you. I wasn't ready to let go of my extra time with you, or those sweet moments that only you and I share. I just wasn't quite ready.

I've shed the tears for both of us. I am not surprised at how well you are handling the change, though. You are so tough, and so strong, and have always been independent. I know we'll have new moments, and more cuddles and kisses for a lifetime. I will always remember how it felt to hold you and nurse you, though. I will always remember how, no matter what was wrong, it always comforted you, which comforted me. I'll remember it always and forever. I love you so much.

Transitioning into a booster seat was not even something that was on my radar- until my daughter started putting her feet up on the table. I realized that if she were to be in a booster seat instead of the high chair, there were going to be several benefits:

1. I could push her legs under the table and she would no longer be able to put her feet ON TOP of the table.

2. She would be able to have a proper seat at the table and be closer in with the family.

3. We would suddenly have so much more floor space!

So, I looked at our options. I wanted something very compact. I also loved the idea of getting something that was travel friendly and portable. Since all of our family is fairly far away, it would be fabulous to have a booster seat we could actually take with us when we visit. 

I found a booster seat that is soooooo amazing.

It's called the Munchkin Travel Booster Seat.

We started using this when Caroline turned 10 months old. It has 2 height settings, and on the tallest setting, Caroline is able to reach the table perfectly. She can lean over to each side, and it holds her in place very well. I have no concerns with this booster seat at all. It wipes off easily, and it even has a storage space underneath.

Caroline loves being seated at the table now. She really gets to enjoy family meals from a whole different perspective, and my husband and I love having her at the table as well.  Her Evenflo Convertible high chair (being the awesome chair that it is) is now in the basement and will be used as an arts and craft table for her! I am also so proud of our high chair find. I love that it breaks down into a table and chair for her.

My oh my! My plan of doing sensory activities, taking pictures, and blogging about them got so far behind on my list of topics to blog about, that I am just now writing up these sensory activities that I did with Caroline back in August and September! As a result, I figured I would put them all together in one fabulous post! ;) Sensory activities 1 and 2 (on instant mashed potatoes and outdoor exploring) can be found here. Be sure to check them out!

All 5 of these sensory activities that I have highlighted here were done around 9 and 10 months of age. I found this age to be perfect because I could hold her attention for awhile without her crawling or walking off. Now that she is almost 1 year old, she is a little turbo crawler and is wanting to practice walking all the time. We have been focusing on nature exploration as a result, but I am definitely needing to spice up our activities a bit and will be sharing what I come up with soon!

Sensory Activity #3- NOODLE PLAY

Caroline was a bit hesitant with this activity. All I did was cook some noodles and place them in a bin. I then gave her the bin and let her feel them, taste them, throw, etc. Initially, she touched the noodles and scrunched her face. She was not amused by the texture. I picked up a handful and handed it to her. She squished the noodles and smiled this time. Once I got her going, she had a great time. She fed them to the dogs, ate some herself, and made a huge mess! She really enjoyed it.

Sensory Activity #4- MESS FREE PAINTING

This activity turned into a dud in our house. I spent a decent amount of time cutting out "Caroline" in a piece of cardstock. I then placed it into a ziploc bag and squirted some paint inside. I zipped it up and let Caroline play with the paint through the bag. She really didn't seem to care about this activity. She was very interested in chewing on the bag, but other than that, she was not very excited about the colors or moving the paint around. I thought she was going to love it. There was also way too much paint to ever dry, so the cardstock with her name on it was simply thrown in the trash. LOL
This is definitely an activity that I am going to try again now that she is older. I think she will be more focused on the paint in the next couple of months.

Sensory Activity #5- MAKING WAVES

Caroline loved this activity! I took her outside and filled a plastic bin with water and toys. I just used what we had in the house. I gave her a few toys that would squirt water, some that would float, others that would sink, and a couple that she could fill with water and dump the water out. She ended up ignoring most of the toys, and just splashing in the water. She loved watching the water move. For the official play plan (although we deviated some), check out this great post on the Absorb Play blog!
Knowing when to make a schedule change can be tricky. It is all about following your baby's lead, and looking for signs that they might be ready. The Babywise book is a great guideline to follow, however, your baby might be ahead of the transitions that are recommended, or she might take her time and need longer with a particular schedule. The schedules that I have provided on our baby schedules page are broken down by month. All schedules shown are what worked the best for us. We seemed to always be one step ahead of the book. Remember that each baby is different, and it is so very important that you let them tell you when they are ready for a change.

Here are some things that we always look for when gearing up for a change:

  1. Naps becoming shorter
    When your baby's naps suddenly start getting shorter and shorter, this can be an indication that they are ready for more wake time, or even ready to drop a nap.
  2. Refusal to go down for a nap
    If your baby starts to refuse a nap all together, this can be a very clear indication that they need a schedule change, and need a nap removed.
  3. Refusal to drink a bottle/nurse
    Refusal to drink a bottle or nurse can be an indication that they are ready to drop a feeding. This often coincides with adding in more wake time and rearranging nap times for a complete schedule change. Remember that you want to keep the eat, play, sleep routines that you have worked so hard to set up!
  4. Formula/breast milk intake lessening
    If you notice that your baby is drinking less and less, this can also be an indication that it is time to drop a feeding and make a schedule change.
Often times, multiple signs and indications happen at the same time. Your baby might be refusing a nap and drinking less. It is also possible, however, that you only notice one "issue" arising. Your baby might be taking shorter naps, but is still drinking the same amount. It is completely ok to change the schedule and simply incorporate more ounces with fewer bottles offered. Babies that are nursing, will naturally intake more during the existing feedings (if and when you drop a feeding).

Mama, do I look like I need a nap??
Some things to keep in mind before changing the schedule:

- New skills being learned/mastered
- Teething/sickness/ear infections, etc.

If your baby is in a wonder week, or if you suspect they are in the middle of learning a big milestone (rolling, sitting, standing, walking, etc.), these can all cause sleep disruptions and cause your baby to be distracted while eating. Your baby may also need a schedule change, but it is important to not jump the gun! When I started noticing any of the above changes with my baby, I simply began by giving it time. I waited anywhere from 1-2 weeks (depending on the severity and urgency of the noticed "issue"), to see if the change was going to resolve itself. If it was simply due to new skills being learned, it was often resolved in about a week on it's own, and Caroline always went back to doing just fine on her current schedule. It was when I noticed that it didn't seem to be resolving itself, that I went ahead and made changes to her schedule. 

Teething, sickness, ear infections, and other things that might be bothering your baby can also cause sleep disruptions and changes in eating habits. Make sure to explore these options as well before making any drastic changes. 

Helpful links regarding schedules:

You won't hear me talk much about sleep regressions. I talk about sleep disruptions or disturbances. Technically, it's the same thing, but I prefer to think about these "regressions" a little bit differently. The term regression seems to imply that your baby has simply forgotten how to sleep well, which is not the case. They haven't entered a "less developed state" as the term suggests. I see moms, blogs, books, etc. all talking about sleep regressions as these dreaded moments that happen at specific times- the 6 month regression; the 12 month regression.

It is true that sleep disturbances happen at those approximate time frames, however, it is not simply due to the age of the child. These "regressions" are not age related, they are directly related to learning- and even more specific to learning the big skills- the milestones. Rolling, sitting, standing, walking, etc. These milestones tend to happen around the same relative age, and therefore, the sleep regression months came about.

We have been incredibly lucky in this house, in that when we enter one of these phases, it only impacts Caroline's naps and never her nighttime sleep. For some, it is the opposite, and for many it will disrupt both day and night sleep.

The good news is that these disturbances are typically short lived (although in the moment a week may not seem short at all), and you can help your little one to get through them.

The way to identify that you are in a "regression" is by taking note of any new skills that are being learned. If you can tell that your baby has been focusing on learning something big, that is most likely the cause, and yes, you are in a "regression" or sleep disruption phase. If you do not see that your little one is focusing on learning new skills, you might be needing a schedule change instead.
Here are some resources that focus on identifying if you may need a schedule change.

If you have identified a skill that your little one is trying to master, however, and sleep of any sort has been disrupted, you can help your baby to move through this period by doing one simple thing: give them LOTS and LOTS of practice with that skill before naps and before bed.

For us, sleep disturbances have happened when learning the following skills : sitting, standing, and currently- walking. I woke up this morning and realized that every other time this has happened, I took my own advice and gave her lots of practice. This time, for some odd reason, I had forgotten to focus ALL of our attention on her new skill. We had been practicing, but not enough.

Caroline is 11.5 months old, and she is no longer napping. She has had an awesome schedule for mooooonths! So, this is odd for her. It has been a full week of this. She takes maybe 2 catnaps, sometimes only 1, and has been going to bed super early as a result. This, of course, causes her to wake early, and the viscous cycle repeats. She isn't walking on her own yet, but is incredibly excited to get there. It is all she wants to do (once I get her going). So, today... I took her outside (her favorite place to be), and we walked. Forever. And ever. We explored. We walked again. She took her 1st tiny little step on her own today! At times, she insisted on only holding only one of my hands and walking. She used her walker and started walking ahead of it. This was when the one tiny step happened...she went around her walker, let go, and took a step. AMAZING! Guess who's now sleeping for the first time at her usual nap time in over a week!?!?! That's right, Mama! I should have remembered my own advice several days ago. She will most likely still wake a bit early since she is so focused on practicing this skill, but this is definitely going to help us move forward. Update: she's taken both of her naps today and taken steps on her own multiple times!! She took 4 steps at once! So glad I took my own advice and did a crash course training day in walking haha! Trust your instincts, mamas!

So, whether you call it a regression or a disturbance/disruption, one thing is for sure- sleep will be lacking and new skills will be learned. Help your baby master that skill, and you will be on the other side of this phase in no time.
MAMAS! I am THRILLED to announce that prAna and Stonyfield have teamed up to offer us an amazing giveaway! Before I tell you all about the giveaway, let me just tell you about why these two companies are so fabulous. PrAna and Stonyfield are two very environmentally friendly companies. Did you know that Stonyfield actually makes their multi cup yogurt packs from plants!? And prAna uses materials like organic cotton and recycled products in their sustainability efforts to make their clothing.

So the giveaway... one lucky reader is going to get your very-own choice of any organic cotton piece of clothing valued up to $99! I was also given the opportunity to choose a piece for myself, and I have to say, the clothing is so soft, such high quality, and simply fabulous! My favorite item is the Bridget Lined Shirt. It is thick, warm, and it may be the most comfortable piece of clothing I now own!


I plan on wearing this shirt to keep me warm on my walks and outdoor adventures with Caroline. It is a great shirt to help me stay warm, look nice, and still be comfortable running around with my almost toddler! I might just grab my favorite flavor of Stonyfield Oh My Yog! (Quebec Blueberry) and have an quick snack after that morning walk of ours!

In addition to providing us with an amazing giveaway opportunity, prAna is also letting my readers get 15% off at Not valid for prAna Influencers, on Gift Certificates or with any other offers. Valid Nov 1 – Dec 15, 2015 Use the following code to earn your discount: JBYF15MOC


What the winner gets

-Your very own choice of ANY organic cotton piece of clothing from prAna valued up to $99

The deadline

-November 16th

How to enter (each worth 1 entry, and you can enter as many times as you like!)

1. Comment on my giveaway Facebook post with a topic you'd like to see discussed on our blog (example: how to switch baby to 1 nap) Please post on the FB PAGE not the discussion group, thanks!

2. Copy and share the following message on Facebook (you can add to it if you like):

@MamasOrganizedChaos is doing a #giveaway for a free piece of organic clothing up to $99 #mamasorganizedcgiveaway

3. Copy and Tweet the following message: 

@MamasOrganizedC is doing a #giveaway for a free piece of organic clothing up to $99 #mamasorganizedcgiveaway

4. Share ANY link to ANY of my blog posts via facebook or twitter and make sure to use #mamasorganizedchaosgiveaway so I can find it!

Enter as many times as you'd like by November 16th!

Make sure you use the hashtag #mamasorganizedcgiveaway  when you share or tweet so I can find your entry!

I will then randomly select one winner and announce the winner on November 16th!


Disclaimer: I am a Stonyfield YoGetter blogger, and this sponsored post is written by me in partnership with Stonyfield and prAna.All opinions are always my own.
Once you have determined that your baby needs a schedule change, it is time to figure out how you are going to go about it. You can slowly change your schedule and ease your baby into it. This takes awhile, and honestly (if baby truly needed a schedule change) this method was not needed for us. We always just dove in head first. We changed the schedule and just gave it a shot. If it didn't work out perfectly (which it never does), I simply tweaked it along the way and made adjustments until we figured out the perfect schedule.

Here is our step by step guide to making a schedule change:

1. Have a solid plan
As you are noticing that your baby is going to need a schedule change, look at the resources available to you (Babywise book, our baby schedules page, and any other example schedules you've found), watch your baby's cues and try to figure out the scheduling changes that need to be made. Since you are making a schedule change, you are most likely dropping a nap. Drop the last nap of the day, and rearrange the schedule to accommodate with longer wake times, one less nap, and one less feeding. I always referenced these average sleep charts as well to make sure we were headed in the right direction.

2. Implement the plan 
Challenge your baby to try the new schedule. Help her by keeping her distracted during longer wake times. Do the best you can to truly try the new schedule. If you are off slightly on the times, don't worry- just attempt it the best that you can.

3. Watch for cues
Is your baby handling the change well? Are her naps getting longer? Are they still short? Are they even shorter? Is she overtired? Too stimulated? Does she seem like she still needs more wake time?
Take note. This is the most important step. Look for the cues, interpret them using our frequently asked Q&A page, and trust your instincts.

4. Tweak
Make minor changes to your schedule as you see fit while you are implementing your plan. Give your plan some credit though, and just make minor tweaks.

5. Be consistent
You know what you are doing, so trust yourself and give your schedule a good 2-3 days of implementation before making any major changes. It may take a few days for your baby to get the swing of things.

6. Make adjustments
If you are noticing after 2-3 days, that things just aren't going as planned, make changes to your schedule accordingly. The schedules in the books all look so perfect... don't forget that each cycle doesn't have to be the same length. Do what works for your baby. Make the adjustments that you see fit.

7. Repeat
Repeat the above process until you feel that you have achieved a good schedule.

8. Take a break if you need to
If at any time you feel that your baby has gotten overtired and needs a break from the process, simply revert back to your old schedule and see if it can work for a day or so. This could give your baby the rest she needs to make the schedule change a bit easier. It may also not work- after all you are making a schedule change for a reason- that old schedule wasn't quite working anymore. So don't worry if this doesn't work out. If it does work out, don't be afraid to have a schedule A and a schedule B.

There were plenty of times that we rotated schedules as we were transitioning from point A to point B. In fact, we are currently in the middle of transitioning from 2 naps to 1, and for the last month we have been alternating schedules to help Caroline make the transition more easily. Often times, the old schedule starts to work if it is alternated every few days with the new schedule. 

Helpful links for making schedule changes:

I think my heart skipped a few beats when I realized what had happened.
I was transferring Caroline's cloth diapers and clothes from the washer to the dryer when I realized something was wrong. There was something all over her diapers and clothes...
Was it detergent? It could be but it didn't look quite right...
It definitely didn't feel right.
I keep transferring to find the source. It was gel beads. From a disposable diaper. Oh SH*T!
We use disposable diapers at night, and if we are going out and know that Caroline needs to poop. 

I took all of the items out of the washer. It was everywhere. My washing machine looked like it was ruined. It was also in the dryer. The worst case scenario ran through my mind... Beads that don't dissolve, that form a gel like mess all over my washing machine, dryer, Caroline's clothes and diapers. It all must be ruined. If I run the dryer, would the gel melt onto everything? Would the dryer be ok? How am I supposed to rinse gel beads out of the washer when they feel like glue?

I figured the diapers and clothes might be ok if I hand washed them, so I lugged the wet items upstairs to the bathroom. I began the process of rinsing them by hand in the tub. I knew other people must have made this mistake as well.... so I stopped and googled. I googled and I found comfort! I googled and found answers that were so simple. My heart resumed beating and I crossed my fingers and tried what seemed to be the answer:

1. Run the sanitary/cleaning cycle on the washer
I started by scooping out the big chunks of gel by hand. I also added a little bleach and then ran the sanitary/clean cycle. When it was done running, the washing machine was sparkling clean just like usual! Whew!

2. Shake the clothes off and put them in the dryer
Again, I took the big chunks off of the clothes. Then put them directly into the dryer and ran a normal cotton cycle. When they were done, the gel had disappeared and turned into a white paper like substance in the lint trap. AMAZING!

3. Rewash the clothes
Just to be safe, I then put the clothes into the washer and rewashed and dried them. They came out looking perfect.

4. Vacuum the heck out of the floor to remove any remnants of gel beads
I vacuumed up the beads off of the floor, cleaned out the lint trap, etc. All evidence is gone.

The washer and dryer, and the diapers and clothes look perfect. What looked like a disaster, turned into an easy fix. So, you can calm your nerves if you ever make the same mistake! Running a disposable diaper through the washing machine is not the end of the world.
Hey Mamas!!

I want YOUR stories ...

So one of my favorite things about blogging, is sharing real stories with other mamas. I hated when I read other blogs and was doing research and only found "ideal" scenarios (ex: everyone's baby seemed to be sleeping through the night at 6 wo). I wanted to read about real stories.

I've decided to put together a series called "Real Moms, Real Stories" and each time I do it, it will have a different focus. The first two topics produced some absolutely amazing stories and were such a pleasure to share!

The stories can be as short as a paragraph or as long as a book (ok within reason haha). They don't need to be anything fancy, though.

Topic: Breastfeeding on a Schedule

Things you might want to include for this topic:
- Why breastfeeding is important to you
- Why using schedules is important for you and baby
- How you were successful breastfeeding and using schedules together
- Did you start on a schedule or make a switch to using one?
- Did your supply benefit due to implementing a schedule?
- Benefits you see of using schedules
- Was your baby able to sleep through the night while breastfeeding and on a schedule?
- Your experience in general
- Anything else you see fit!

I'd like to get these by Sunday, January 31st.
Please email me the stories:
In the subject line, please include "breastfeeding on a schedule"

Please include:  (can also let me know if you'd like to keep it anonymous)
Baby's Name(s):
Baby's Age(s):
Blog (if you have one):
Picture - just send it as an attachment or in the email itself (readers looooove pictures)

Feel free to get other mom friends involved as well. Just have them email me! Thank you in advance! I am so excited to put this together!

Also if you have any ideas on what the next "Real Moms, Real Stories" topic should be feel free to post those in the comments on this page.