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Sunday, June 24, 2018

Baby Margaret - Eight Month Update

Margaret at eight months, taken on November 22, 2017
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We started the month by celebrating Halloween with our sweet little girl, her first outside the womb, and since she is too small for trick-or-treating we had fun dolling her up in this sweet Halloween outfit:

Her outfit was from Toys R Us, RIP, but below is a similar outfit from Carter's!

Fall was an incredibly busy time for our family! M, MCVA and I headed down to Charlotte for a long weekend with family - my Aunt - and it was our longest drive with our baby girl. Even though we live in central Virginia, driving to South Park/CLT took longer than driving to the Outer Banks! So it was an okay drive but Margaret was not enjoying it very much and cried a good bit. We decided on the way back that Michael would sit with her in the back instead of sitting up front with me to see if that would help her feel less alone. Outside of Denton and Lexington, NC we saw the most incredible sunset. It was a bright red-orange sky as we drove around the lakes and it was incredible. We arrived in CLT at around 7:30 so MCVA basically went right to bed after that! The next day we took her around South Park Mall which was perfect for her stroller. It was ideal to get some window-shopping done for the holidays that were barely over a month away, and visited Melissa at Neiman Marcus to get some home decor and gift ideas set aside. We made my Aunt a family favorite recipe (Chicken in the Chips) as she worked that day, and then had really nice family visiting time the remainder of the day. The next day I took M and MCVA to see old family sites - from our Jones Construction Co. days - as well as the family plot at Elmwood Cemetery (My Grandpapa's Father's family).

She had a baby tooth - we think at this point - it did not break through but her drool and chewing at this month was on another level. My Aunt has two children, so she along with my parents helped us see that the new tooth coming in was a great thing and explained so many of her symptoms (attitude change, change in diaper output, feeding patterns, etc.). On this visit she also crawled successfully for the first time across a carpet which was such a thrill!

MCVA and our Aunt M, my Dad's only sibling, in CLT
My Aunt took me to see the Carolina Panthers play the Miami Dolphins - a newer tradition we enjoy together in Charlotte! After a couple more days in CLT we ended up heading back home with a detour to the Hubbard family plot at Greenview Cemetery in Reidsville, NC (my Grandpapa's Mother's Family). We then started that organizing-at-home preparing for the pending holiday whirlwind heading towards Thanksgiving!

Margaret is looking at me thinking, 'oh jeez, we have to hit the road AGAIN??' But sitting up so well!
Outside of one of my oldest friends (MVCL & DL) wedding and this road trip to CLT, it was a pretty quiet month developments-wise. We experimented more with solids - cantaloupe and blueberry compotes from the freezer, fresh zucchini, squash and pumpkin purees with some spices to add to her flavor introductions. We joined the Publix Baby Club at this point, as a series of Publix stores had started to open in the Richmond area at this time. If you haven't joined it - join if they have opened it up to more members! It's wonderful to get some great advice and tips from Publix - plus super applicable and helpful coupons and information (such as this one from their March 2017 mailing).
Margaret was still breastfeeding really well at this point, as well as taking a bottle before bed regularly. I still tried to pump 1-2 times a day, and we had a pretty OK backup supply in the freezer, but not enough where I could donate to friends or strangers (which I HATED, bc that made me feel really good about myself to share milk with others). So my supply had learned to self-regulate a bit, and that was making more of a normal supply mom instead of an oversupply Mom. There weren't any pediatrician visits or anything like that during this month, so I'll end this post here!

See you in the next post! (Parents got this onesie in Quebec but here's likely the same thing on Amazon).
What have you learned or what did you experience when your baby turned eight months old? Cannot believe she was 8 months old here... 4 months until she is a year old, eek!

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Baby Margaret - Seven Month Update

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I feel like she is just so joyful and ready to leap off the page here! All legs still, sweet girl. Laying on a Aden + Anais muslin swaddle blanket (similar here and here).
With Fall in full swing, we had a busy agenda for several weeks as we approached our fifth wedding anniversary on October 13, 2017. One of the first weekends in about a month we headed to my hometown of Lexington to visit family. We needed to have Miss MCVA try on the family christening gown. We call it a christening gown as it comes from our French Creole & Acadian leg of the family so it was used for both christenings and baptisms in its lifetime.

My Grandmama and MCVA. Similar gown pattern here.

My Grandmama had it ready for us to try on MCVA. It fit loosely which is wonderful as it has typically been sized to a 3-4 month old and she wouldn't wear it in church until she was nine months old! It has a pretty simple slip and then a gown that is more like a jacket over it. I wonder if it had a hat that went with it 5+ generations ago?
We approximate the gown as being from 1900 when my great-great Grandmother Agnes Diard Styles was born, but possibly as early as pre-Civil War when my 3x great-grandmother Cecilia Victoria Diard was born in 1846.

Anyway, as you can see, the lace is something else. The family story is that some group from Acadia such as women in a convent made the lace as Ursuline nuns, who brought it or sent it down to New Orleans where so much of my family was from (where there was/is an Ursuline presence as well). That is why it had maple leaves on it. They are known for their needlework and embroidery. It was a delight that my daughter fit in it!

Can you see the relief in my face?? Margaret didn't seem to mind being in such a special dress at all!

MCVA's cactus dress was by The Childrens Place. Here it is on ebaY.
Margaret also got to meet one of her great Aunt and great Uncle who were visiting from Sarasota, so that was an added bonus to our visit to my hometown for the weekend. She really loved Auntie G's jewelry (surprise, surprise).
Margaret similar Carter's onesie here and here. They wash so beautifully and are perfect not only for sleep but also for cool mornings and evenings inside! Maurice the sock monkey is from a shop no longer in business in Lex and the closest I could find that was similar was only 20" tall. Isn't he handsome? Perfect little friend!
My Mom purchased this MASSIVE monkey "Maurice" to share with Margaret on her visits to Bubba and Susu's house. They got along fabulously from the first introductions!
The quilt here was handmade by one of my boarding school professors, so it's one of a kind, sorry y'all!
When we returned home we were able to also enjoy several local, but annually-held outings in the Charlottesville and Richmond areas. It's one of our favorite features for living in a rural area between both metropolitan cities. We can enjoy all of them if they suit our schedule without it being a huge driving haul with the baby. One event is the Fall Fiber Festival, which is held on the property adjacent to Montpelier, the former residence of President James Madison and his wife Dolley Payne Madison (she and I are cousins!). It was later a private home owned by the DuPont family and then was turned over (appropriately) as a museum.
Margaret's green bow here and pumpkin smocked bishop dress similar here. Lamb squeeze toy I cannot locate anything similar (so sorry as she loves it!!).

The Festival shows sheep shearing demonstrations, people working with wool "fall fiber" on looms and selling their wares, and dog herding competitions. Margaret loved seeing the sheep and dogs!

Better shot of that sweet green hair bow.
We had a great time celebrating our little cousin M's birthday in early October as well! She had lots of friends over but little Margaret was the smallest of the bunch. She was shared with everyone who wanted to hold and touch the baby 😍

Bubble is by Rosalina Baby and sold here. It has elephants smocked on it (Roll Tide!). Bow by The Bow Fairy of RVA.
We also were able to enjoy the Goochland Oktoberfest at the Benedictine Abbey just off the James River. It's a beautiful spot with open spaces for people to have community events and it was a gorgeous day outside. M and I don't drink beer and we still had a wonderful time! Little M charmed the pants off of everyone.
Similar plaid piece (on sale!). Bunny sold here.
There was amazing music and good company. There were local merchants selling stuff and they weren't annoying chain brands being generic, it was actual local vendors which was a delight. They were so friendly.

Introducing more frequent solids to her during this seventh month meant we finally had some of those gross and awe-inspiring poops people talk about. Everything about that got more interesting for us, including some messy experiences on these day trips. Thank goodness for wipes and alternative changes of clothing. A cute diaper cover had to be double bagged until we got home on the Dog Trials day as she really knocked our socks off with something gross that day! Amazing what can come out of a little person. Sorry for the 💩rant.

Milestones reached in the seventh month:
  • Can self-feed some finger foods (soft carrots, "puffs", cheese, peas are some favorites!)
  • Sits unsupported
  • Picks up tiny objects (the single dog hair, a small piece of lint, a single crumb, etc).
  • Stands holding on to someone/something
  • Scooting
  • Still hates oatmeal and baby cereal by itself
  • Finally said Dada! So Mama and Dada both feel special. 
  • Waves bye
  • Lets objects go
So, really great moments happened for us in the seventh month! Next up, 8 month update.

Thanks for reading! (Similar swaddle blanket here

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Baby Margaret - Six Month Update

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By the time our sweet baby girl turned six months old, we had the travel-and-outings-with-baby routine down.

During that sixth month we did our first long vacation with my family...

Similar swimsuit here and here. the Outer Banks which you all know is almost a second home for us...

Sunglasses here and here, sunsuit similar here.

...especially in the early Fall when most people are back at school!

My swimsuit by La Blanca is still sold here and here (it is not a maternity suit). Margaret's swimsuit (it has full sleeves and SPF protection rash guard-style with zipper at back and snaps at bottom) still sold here.
Of course that sweet bonnet from The Tipsy Bunny came in handy once again as we spent a lot of time poolside! We wanted to familiarize Margaret with the feel of pool water as we had enrolled her in a swim class to start not long after we returned from the beach (this was mid-September). My family are water people - I was called "Water Baby" by my parents and we wanted to do all we could to diminish any fear and anxiety for her around water! 

How can you not love that sweet face?! Cardigan (similar) and dress with bloomers set (similar). Changing pad cover: aden + anais muslin.
Not long after we returned from the beach I got to take Margaret into town to meet my cousin B and his longtime GF A. It was gradually becoming Fall so she needed that sweet cardigan with her outfit. That said, it was warm enough to diaper change her on the tailgate before we went in to lunch. They loved meeting Margaret and it was a nice lunch even if Margaret was going through a growth spurt and went through all of her food I had brought with us... I ended up giving her bites of my sweet potato tots to keep her full!

The next weekend was a beautiful day. The humidity of summer had left central Virginia, so our family of 3 (puppy dog safely at home) went out to enjoy some trails in our county and do some light "hiking" with Margaret in her stroller! We were going on a trail that had some high grasses (natural rain garden on the flood plain along the James River) so we wanted to avoid mosquito bites on our cutie. Thankfully she didn't mind the filtered view of this stroller mosquito netting we had bought prior to the beach trip at all as you can see here. I highly recommend any parent or friend of parents to get this kind of item as its an inexpensive add on gift for a baby:

Our little ham loves to put her feet up whenever she can - she has been all legs since she was born!
MCVA's growth and development stages were big here at HALF a year old already. We had a big Pediatrician appointment on this month visit which were as follows:
  • 13 pounds, 4 oz; 5.5%ile
  • 27" long; 89%tile
  • 16.5" head circumference; 40%ile
  • More foods can be introduced:
    • 2 handle cups of unlimited H2O
    • low sugar anything possible
    • 5.5 - 6 oz breastmilk per feeding goals
    • 2 solid meals a day
    • Stage 2 foods good to start
    • Whole milk yogurt, cottage cheese (we love YoBaby yogurt by Stonyfield Organics)
    • Meats - introduce a variety at 7 months with a tablespoon or so
    • Flouride supplement MWF (we live in rural area with well water so this is to protect her enamel as M and I did not get this growing up and had sensitive teeth issues!)
    • Start babyproofing with cabinets/cords/hearths/stairs/etc.
So as you can see, that was a LOT to take in on that day with the Pediatrician. Now for her personal development that I tracked on Ovia Parenting were as follows:
  • Experiments with cause and effect and tests gravity by dropping objects (she loves to take something, put it back; take something, put it back. Or drop something and try to retrieve it).
  • Use hands in raking fashion for toys. This works out well on our carpet and hardwood although it is at this point that we realize our dog hair really is a problem around the house!
  • She finally doubled her birth weight at 6 months, which is a huge stage for a baby. It took much longer than we had hoped but so pleased and her output had continued to be really healthy.
  • Made her first friend when we did more socializing with family. She adores her older toddler cousin M, who is the daughter of my first cousin L!
  • She was able to drink from a cup with help pretty much right away. She picked it up within one evening which was great as it was one less thing we had to guide her with (and meant we could eat dinner at the same time in an easier fashion!). She loves using her cup. She loves these cups in particular. To be able to move from bottle nipple to sippy we got the Philips Avent cups and she loves to talk to her friends on these cups - esp the penguin - during her entire meal. Sometimes she would be upset when they would get put away for the night, haha! 
  • Can tell emotions of person or thing by tone of voice. I think this came about when we started reading to her more and more frequently throughout the day, as well as visiting all kinds of different family members. Sometimes we let her watch a clip of Sesame Street or Daniel Tiger which may also have helped her figure this out.
  • Has different reactions for different family members. She would sometimes see my Mom but not see my Dad one or two times in a month and that would make a big difference for her on how she would react when she saw them.
  • Shows anxiety when removed from parent. This really has only happened one or two times when at home. It's more when we are out in town or at a social event that it even pops up.
  • Reaches for toys - including her mobile which we had to raise up higher so she wouldn't try to grab it!
  • Transfers objects from hand to hand - whether a toy or book, food item or washcloth - fun to see her trying to figure this action out.
  • Her first word was something we had thought we had heard but waited until the rest of family heard it while we were at the Banks to confirm it - her first word was Mama! And Mike was such a sweet husband by saying it to her all the time. We would try to call each other Mama and Dada when around her to build up the association. That seemed to do the trick. Her first word came in mid-September but while at the beach she said it all the time. Then came the fun of working on Dada and trying other words and also THINKING we heard other words (my Mom is bad about that, haha!!).

She really is so photogenic - but knowing where to find lighting and a great lens also helps document her at these stages. Try to take some time each month to take quality photos of your baby. It'll be so special to have later on!

We celebrated her turning 6 months on September 22, 2017. My goal is to use this holiday long weekend to catch up and have her all caught up before June 1 (so a week from today). Then I can print them all out to put in a book for her (always nice to have a backup). On Monday we may go to the Virginia Historical Society's Virginia Museum of History and Culture who will be appropriately commemorating World War I here in RVA. What events do you have planned for the holiday long weekend?

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Baby Margaret - Five Month Update

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Margaret at 5 months. She's at a stage where she doesn't want to stay put - she wants to lunge forward when I do these posed yet candid photos with her for her monthly update pics - I love those stickers - hers are iron-on but here is a sweet set of reusable stickers for clothes. Her eyes are just so gorgeous in these photos in our living room!
Last summer when she turned 5 months old, we ran into the realization that our girl was growing up so quickly! Due to her continued slow weight gain, we started some solids with her on the recommendation of her Pediatrician. We started on baby oatmeal which she didn't like at all at that point in August 2017 (and still doesn't as of May 2018). She took to apple compote and peach compote immediately though! Gradually increased solids in small portions while I continued to give her mostly breast milk directly from me or expressed and in a bottle. She does both very well without much fidgeting or fighting me or her Daddy about "eating."

Worthy Style Baby MCVA 5 months Pippin Hill Farm Scout bags Bumbleride Indie stroller
Margaret at age 5 months, Pippin Hill Farm & Winery, Albemarle County, Virginia.
August 22, 2017. Beautiful evening with Scout Bags and the hydrangea bushes were absolutely resplendent!
In the photo above she is in her Bumbleride Indie in the Camp edition color (we purchased it from Baby Blossom in Fairfax, Virginia). She loves this stroller. With baby number two we will likely get the bassinet insert as well just to make it easier, since I may be prone to smaller babies... maybe. haha. Maybe future number 2 will be massive in comparison! Anyway, the Bumbleride Indie is made from 100% recycled PET - and folds up beautifully to fit easily in our car trunk. We recommend it to everyone we know as it can go on trails, gravel, sand and sidewalks. Easily maneuverable!
Margaret at five months on August 22, 2017.
Pippin Hill Farm & Winery in Albemarle County, Virginia.
Five months in, we got to a point with Margaret that we were more comfortable taking her out and about with us, so we enjoyed lots of outings and events such as: a family reunion, meals out on patios in and around Cville and RVA, my birthday long weekend in my hometown with family, a blogger event at Pippin Hill Farm & Vineyards with Scout bags, and other outings. She was our little social butterfly and she loves people!

Like I said, our little social butterfly just loves being a little ham for the camera, and for our friends (and strangers)!
So if my calculations are correct, the window of 5 months old is from 121 days to 150 days old, or 12 weeks, 1 day and 15 weeks, 6 days (approx.). I have to write these out before I do these posts so when I go through the Photos and iPhoto app on my laptop I can skim through and find the most applicable photos. I also have to go through the Ovia Parenting app, which helped me track the different developmental moments for our sweet girl. I used the Ovia Pregnancy app when I was TTC and during fertility treatments (have I talked about this on the blog?). Both are pretty convenient resources and you can save profiles for multiple kids, which will come in handy down the road.

Baby MCVA on my 32nd birthday wearing a sweet smocked bear bubble that was mine as a baby, and a new bonnet from The Tipsy Bunny which we got for her in gorgeous white eyelet lace. 
Developments for Month Five:

  • Holding head straight up while lying on back
  • Blows raspberry/making wet "razzing" sounds
  • Reaches for utensils while being fed (tip: give baby a second spoon to play with and hold while you feed. She'll fight you less!)
  • Gets in crawling position
  • Babbles enthusiastically
  • Tries to lift head while on back
  • Expanded sounds: gurgling, growling, giggling.
  • Recognizes bottle and breast.
  • Can have conversations of mimicry - we especially noticed this pattern when we would go to events or when we would be in church and she would mimic us saying "Amen"
  • Holding objects with both hands.
  • Repeating one-syllable sounds.
(Some of these may possibly have been duplicates of previous months, haha)!

I hope you have enjoyed my continued (UBER DELAYED) monthly updates for this kid. She really is amazing, and I love sharing her with you all. If she wasn't such a ham and social person, I probably would never share these posts, but she definitely loves being around people so much more than you all may realize unless you knew her yourself. We are so lucky to have a happy, loving, kid (esp now that she knows how to hug and kiss back #HeartEyes).

By the end of five months, someone was such a pro at tummy time! She loves this play mat from Infantino so very much. And it folds up nicely for storage if you need to (the top part even detaches quickly if you just want the mat out and the dangling toys loose).

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Baby Margaret - Four Month Update

Baby MCVA - July 22, 2017
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Our sweet girl has reached four months of age at the time of this photo - so July 22, 2017. She loved being propped up on my Boppy nursing pillow at this point, sitting up with some support behind her and playing with toys, putting them in her mouth. She loves this frog, which is part of an Infantino play mat we were given as a shower gift. The play mat is great because you can take down or put up the toys - she still loves the toys (some have crinkle paper, others have rings that clink together, another has a teething-friendly surface) now that the mat is put away! Here it is:

The Boppy pillow cover is not one of the standard ones, the one pictured is a Classic Plus cover. A cousin gave me a Classic Plus one in pink polka dot with stripes on the other side. The material is softer, more like a microfiber material than the basic cotton of the original. They also seem to not shrink or stiffen up when machine-washed, and fit onto the pillow much more easily between washes. I definitely have found that the Boppy Classic Plus covers are better long-term purchases, especially if you are exclusively or frequently breast-feeding!

Between her third and fifth months, things were a blur due to busy summer activities and comings and goings. So as I share things for her fourth month of life and things that have happened, please don't blame me if I post some duplicates of events that I may have mentioned last month, haha!

  • 11 pounds, 6 ounces
  • 25.5" long (officially over 2 feet tall/60 cm!)
  • No more swaddling due to Margaret's mobility
  • Started her on oatmeal due to her continued low weight gain (but still showing general growth and good diaper output)
  • Reaching for dangling objects (like on tummy time or on the mat)
  • Brings both hands together
  • Her first laugh! Finally!
  • Can see across the room
  • Vowel-consonant sounds
  • Sits by self with minimal support
  • Opens mouth for spoon - she hates/hated oatmeal. We diluted it with pureed apples and it still was a struggle bus for our girl. She knew right away we were tricking her. It made getting her to gain weight hard. Having to have her go on some solids so soon was my first moment of "Mom guilt" - you question yourself - is my breastmilk not enough? Did I do something wrong? It was one of those moments where I had to tell myself that guilting is silly and does not solve anything. Don't let yourself drown in anxiety of things you cannot control. I tried my best to help her gain by EBF but it didn't pan out, at least she still was able to enjoy breast milk! This point was just another stop on our journey of mommy-daughter time. Plus, adding some solids this early was great for M as he could spend more time bonding with our girl!
  • Rolls over and back
  • Makes two-syllable sounds - MAMA was her first word!!
  • First babysitter happened at this point in time - our cousin Emma - she is one of Margaret's favorite people now! We are so lucky she is in college nearby and hope she can have fun with Margaret some this summer.
  • She started trying to hold her bottle herself.
  • Peek-a-boo fascinates her
  • Loves to chew on objects
  • Sleeps on average 12 hours a night and two quasi-naps a day (more like 1 and only occasionally)
  • Rolls all the way around!

So many developments happened during those four weeks of time! Babies are amazing little humans learning so much so quickly. As I said above, the summer was busy. Our good friends The Lins finished his medical fellowship at UVA, so they returned home to Mississippi which was super sad. We were happy that their life would follow a more normal schedule, but we knew we would miss them and having them around Margaret! MCVA's first July 4th happened which meant typically we would go to my hometown for fireworks and fun, but M had to work so I made us country style ribs, bought him some Pearl's cupcakes for his birthday (the 5th) and dressed MCVA in a cute outfit. Lemons - lemonade! I got a weird summerlike flu bug and it happened to hit when M's childhood friends were passing through town. Since the wife has Stage IV metastatic breast cancer I didn't want to give her what I might have which was heartbreaking but they had a lovely time meeting our sweet baby girl and having a nice lunch visit. Another group of friends got to see us when I was feeling better - the husband was a childhood buddy of M's and the wife (might as well be a professional runner!) came over with their daughter to meet MCVA on her 4 month bday. Lastly we enjoyed a weekend at my parents house to have a quasi-belated birthday for M and to visit my Grandmothers. We felt like at this point in the summer she was in the clear and ready to socialize! It was wonderful to hear from everyone that she appeared to be social and didn't dislike being passed around the room which made me so happy. Apparently not all kids are like that and that's fine, but since I am social it definitely made me feel good to know she wasn't having a hard time around strangers.

Cute as a button in a bow made by my cousin LCJP and an outfit that was both my brother and mine growing up!

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Vacation 2018 - Day 2 at The Sea Pines Resort

Well the RBC Heritage weekend has come and gone for about a week, but during our recent family vacation last month we enjoyed a few days on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, and more specifically at The Sea Pines Resort! We arrived right after they had put up the bleachers for the tournament. Baby Margaret was a champion (albeit a tired one) from the long first leg of our family vacation, but we had wonderful weather and time outside to make up for it. From RVA metro it takes about 7-8 hours to get to Sea Pines (including going through the gates to actually arrive at your residence, and depending on if you pay the toll/have a pass to take the Cross Island Parkway).

While I have spent lots of time here over the years, it was M and Margaret's first visit and they both would definitely like to return. I'm assuming that for our baby girl as Margaret was smiling and loved being pushed in her stroller under the canopy of the Legacy Oaks! My gluten free picks while you are on the island? Mellow Mushroom is of course a hit if you want a reliable chain restaurant (but very popular as usual). For local eats you cannot go wrong with The Salty Dog Cafe, yummy smoothie spot Delisheeyo, Truffles Cafe, and Coast at the beautifully situated Sea Pines Beach Club. These are all restaurants "behind the gates" of The Sea Pines Resort. We were there during an unusual cool snap, so be sure to bring a cardigan and some warmer pieces to keep your "Spring Break" or family trip outfits more flexible. I was so glad I had my Lilly P long pants to grab when we headed out in the morning before it warmed up!

We know of many places to stay as well as know people who live full time or part time on the Island, but there is a big difference between Sea Pines Resort and Hilton Head Island as a whole. There is a high end resort, rentals of homes and villas and even a few AirBnbs to choose from when at Sea Pines Resort. There are many more options at all price points on Hilton Head Island as a whole. We just liked the idea of a lower traffic, more quiet private community environment on this leg of our vacation. If you are a homeowner or house hunting for a place at The Sea Pines Resort or on Hilton Head Island and are needing a property management company to keep an eye on your home when you are out of town, please contact my college classmates and business owners, The Smiths of Caretakers HHI! Their team manages homeowners residences to ensure maintenance, inspections, and care for your home is continually monitored and keep you up to date on any changes!

While we love golf, that is not a Hilton Head Island or Sea Pines Resort requirement! You can enjoy a lazy beach visit, boating, live music, historical landmarks, bike rides, horseback riding, great food and drinks, or just curling up with a good book while you get that needed Vitamin D. The entire scene is beautiful and full of activities for people of all ages. You can really enjoy yourself and set your own schedule. Seeing all the wildlife and having your camera on you helps when you go for sunset walks.
What's your favorite spot on Hilton Head Island, or in the more private paradise of The Sea Pines Resort? We cannot wait to return sometime soon so Margaret and M can make more memories with me at Sea Pines!

Friday, April 20, 2018

Baby Margaret - Three Month Update

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Ahhh there's our sweet girl. Three whole months at this point, last June 2017. Less than a year ago. It was a beautiful time of day when I took these photos. She was in a playfully mellow mood, learning to wave. The sun was filtering in so nicely through the nursery window (room has since been rearranged). So I could place her safely in her changing table for photos from time-to-time. I documented on this day how she still had this funny bald spot across the back of her head where she had been moving her head from side-to-side when looking around in her crib. Her muscular arms and back developing from tummy time, like a miniature swimmer. Her wrinkly tushy in the newborn diapers - still seeming a bit too small for the cloth diapers we had bought (now I know how to fold them down for next baby!) - and still too small for typical sized diapers of her peers... long and lean. How her onesie with her month on it was just SO big in the middle for her... incredibly baggy (made for her by one of my friend's as a shower gift - all from Carters bodysuits!). She loved looking at the shapes, animal friends, and colors on those soft muslin Aden and Anais changing pad covers (her latest fave is one with foxes on it).

I was still struggling with swaddling at this point, while Michael was a pro. I was successfully breastfeeding still, but as I noted in my previous post, had started to pump before bedtime so I could get a full night's sleep without feeling too full due to my PCOS medication. Margaret's three month 'birthday' came at an extremely hard time for me, as it was when my Grandfather, JAJ III, was finally laid to rest one year after his passing. It was just impossible to consider flying with a barely 8 week old, in Florida, in mid/late June. Just too much for me post-partum. So we didn't go, and so that month is kind-of a blur for me. I know I went to the store and bought a bunch of his favorite flowers and filled our house with them (tropical ones you'd see in FL gardens). My brother JAJ V met Margaret on his way home after the services and his subsequent road trip afterwards. I discovered the fun of Snapchat filters when used with your infant. She really enjoyed chewing on things at this point - her hand, various toys esp. this frog that came with the Infantino play mat she was given. She was a sweet doll baby one day when M and I took her with us to the Lilly Pulitzer store so I could get a couple outfits for summer.

Baby MCVA laying on a blanket someone made her, wearing a bow from my cousin's bow business, wearing my vintage Feltman Brothers gown [updated version here].

I really felt like the days were starting to melt together, especially since Michael had returned to work and Margaret and I were starting to learn what being together ALL DAY LONG was like. I got swept into Bravo and E! shows like never before - and that wasn't necessarily a bad thing. I tried to get back into cooking again. But breastfeeding was a lot more time consuming than I had ever anticipated - part of that was PCOS medication but also anatomically complicated. But I need to revisit that in another post later. Anyway, I wasn't necessarily depressed (at least not yet) but I was overwhelmed but how days could run into another and I really needed to find an outlet. I think that's why blogging fell to the wayside. I didn't want to do the work at that point in time to blog, I wanted to do something quick and easy like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat. Texting with friends. They were great outlets. Margaret was changing everyday and it was wild to witness the transformation. Here are some of the things that happened that month for our sweet girl:

  • She started holding her head straight up while lying on her back
  • Finally over 2 feet "tall" aka 60+ cm long
  • Napping 1-2 times a day. But not really. Little cat naps throughout the day on and off. Not a reliable set napper unless she is in her Rock N Play.
  • Can hold her bottle up some when she has it if she isn't too sleepy!
  • Enjoys peek-a-boo!
  • Chewing on all kinds of things!
  • Sleeping 10+ hours a night, sometimes 12 hrs with maybe a brief milk top off moment that makes her go right back to sleep. Surprisingly not leaking a lot, rarely ever spitting up.
  • Rolls all the way around.
  • Grabbed my phone and made her first accidental selfie - put my phone away more often after that - terrified me how easy it was for her to figure out!
  • Opens and closes her fists.
  • Grasps and shakes her toys.
  • Loves spotting things from a distance (like Dada coming in the door after work) and imitating expressions/sounds/movements/arm gestures.
  • One of my favorite things is hearing her amuse herself in her crib with new sounds and noises first thing in the morning or when she wakes up from a nap.
  • Spots and fixates on small objects.
  • She had her first laugh! Which for her is more of a high sweeping sound and a giggle than other kids who have a haha or hee hee laugh. Very cute.
  • Pushed herself up onto her elbows while lying on her stomach.
  • Rolled from front to back.
  • Reached to grab her toy from Dada, Mama, and her grandparents.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Baby Margaret - Two Month update

I cannot get over how absolutely darling she looks in this two month old photo! It's funny that I'm publishing this post now, which I plan to do with all of her other month updates - just to have them preserved here and I can also print them to put in her baby book. I know it's weird since this was drafted LAST YEAR and I am just getting to it... but, that's why it's my blog and not yours! Everyday she seems to develop more of her personality and here are just a few highlights from the past month - the Ovia Parenting app and looking through my Photos definitely helped jog my memory here:

  • Learned to recognize M and my face
  • Repeated us saying 'Oooh' and 'Ahhh' and other vowel sounds
  • She could lift her head up 45 degrees
  • Responded to her rattles, bell, crinkle paper
  • Open and closed her fists
  • Pushed down with legs when placed against a hard surface, later on the same month she would bear weight on legs when we held her arms.
  • Reached for her mobile and dangling toys if we held them above her.
  • Grasped and shook hand toys
  • Followed with her eyes and her head of objects moving closer and then further away. Later on she would look and focus at things in the distance (like people coming in the front door or entering a room).
  • Brought both hands together
  • Imitated facial expressions, sounds, movements.
  • Sleeping through the night - well, over 6 hours straight
  • Lifted head up 90 degrees from tummy
  • Following objects (esp a favorite toy) 180 degrees
  • Loves putting things in her mouth to explore them!
  • We started to give her pumped breast milk by bottle around 4/17 as she kept wanting to feed for like an hour+ on each side (I had an oversupply due to my prescription medicine).
  • Around May 1 we assumed she was hopefully around 8.5 pounds at that point (such a tiny girl weight-wise!)
  • 9+ diapers a day of both wet and dirty ones - hadn't started cloth diapers yet.
  • On 5/23 we had her 2 months old appointment with the Pediatrician. She had MCVA's HC at 15"/50%ile, L at 22.5" of 56%ile, weight at 9 lbs 3.5 ounces in the 8%ile. When we had bottle feedings Ped. said 4-4.5 oz at each was fine. She gave 4 shots.
  • I started pumping before going to bed at night, storing 1-2 bottles in the fridge for M to give her if she woke up overnight, so I could sleep fully and try to stay as healthy as I could mentally and emotionally - a HUGE supportive gesture from my husband!
  • Her favorite toy is probably her Teddy Kompaniet rabbit rattle that was in her first Easter basket! Also sold in the USA at Baby's First Gifts in Lexington, VA. Her Steiff bear is a close second - she talks to him a lot in her babble which is so sweet.
  • She is still trying to figure out who Lily is (our dog) and she adores the ceiling fans and thinks they are people.

What fun advances did you baby's show at this age?

This is Us inspired post on home fire safety

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Fire safety in the home is incredibly important. And when you become parents, it's no longer about just you, there are innocent parties you need to make plans for, your children. The NBC hit show This is Us made my husband and I as first time parents of our little family come to the realization that while we have some idea and plans in the event of a fire in our household, we needed to do more to really prepare ourselves in the event of an emergency. As if Motherhood and Fatherhood weren't more overwhelming, the potential for any disaster can either cause great anxiety and procrastination (due to fear and denial) or you can embrace this potential disaster as a chance to really embrace what you can control - preparedness - for the better.

Besides crying over the emotions in the song tied to this scene, it also made me think about different home appliances I had maybe "inherited" from family members since we purchased our home in 2009. The bread machine that had sat dormant in a basement for 10 years, the plug in electric insect lantern ("zapper") with the slightly sketchy cords, the nice stand up vacuum that had been my great-grandmother's with a lifetime warranty (brand I will not name) that ran great but did have a weird belt issue that had us retire it to the attic, even some inherited older surge protectors. I realized these are all risks. Maybe small ones, maybe not ones I will lose sleep over... but maybe things that if we went to Lowes or an outdoors/home goods shop I should consider replacing for good.

This scene gave me goosebumps. I grew up in a historic, old Folk Victorian-style farmhouse. From post-Civil War but it had 3 chimneys and 5 fireplaces/heat stoves (a couple had been walled in). The fireplaces could be finicky. We had 2 chimney fires that I can recall as a child in that farmhouse - keep your chimneys clean and have them inspected regularly! We lived 4.6 miles or 11 minutes from our main fire station - I think we were mostly lucky with both fires due to the fact that we had a standing seam metal roof. Anyway, it always made me aware of fires and fire risks. So when we purchased our house, the first thing we did was replace all of the batteries in our smoke/carbon monoxide detectors, and we also bought backup plug in monoxide detectors (pictured below). Also buy a huge package of batteries and either set an alarm on your cell phone or calendar alert OR have Alexa/etc remind you to replace the batteries every SIX months.

In our home each bedroom has a fire escape ladder, fire extinguisher and a fire blanket. We have a fireproof waterproof safe with our documents inside in a fireproof document bag. We have 2 fire extinguishers in our lower level (one by our fireplace as we enjoy using candles - responsibly!) and one in the kitchen. Another fire blanket is in the kitchen if something comes up. Unplug counter appliances before going to bed for the night. Another kitchen tip is to have some oversized pot lids you can use to smother fires if needed. Ironically, though we live in a more rural location (Goochland) than where I grew up (Rockbridge), we have a brand-new state-of-the-art fire department only 2 miles or 4 minutes away (they existed previously for a long time but didn't have the facilities they deserved until now)! That said, we never want to be unprepared. The ladder goes over the window sill and helps people safely escape from that room. The fire blankets can put out a fire quickly if it isn't too big, otherwise the fire extinguisher can help if used properly. Other tips you can see that they used in This Is Us - while it can make the air in your room stuffy (which is why a floor stand fan or ceiling fan in a bedroom is highly recommended) sleeping with your bedroom door closed can literally save your life and prevent excessive smoke inhalation. Having doors to bedrooms closed overnight can give you precious minutes of safety.

Safe fire extinguisher use - learn the phrase PASS:
  • Pull the pin. Hold the extinguisher with the nozzle pointing away from you, and release the locking mechanism.
  • Aim low. Point the extinguisher at the base of the fire.
  • Squeeze the lever slowly and evenly.
  • Sweep the nozzle from side-to-side.

Do you have a wood burning fireplace or a gas propane fireplace? A wood burning fireplace means you should keep yourself awake late enough when burning a wood fire to properly put out the fire. Keeping a METAL bucket full of sand and a small spray bottle of water by your fireplace can save your entire family's life to properly put out the embers and COOL THE ASHES. Yes, I am saying that you should dirty up your in-home wood burning fireplace by treating it like a campfire. Smokey the Bear knows his stuff. That's why you have a shovel in your fireplace set right? To dispose of your ashes! Wouldn't it be better to have a messy COOLED fireplace that you clean up the next day or so instead of waking up to the lower level of your home, or worse, the main door to the outside of your house on fire because you dumped embers in a plastic bucket next to your front door before heading up to bed? Get a metal bucket.

Another tip: CLEAN your clothes dryer vent/filter between each laundry load. It adds a couple minutes but prevents build-up in the vent/pipe (the outside end you should clean as well, and keep it from being blocked by landscaping... our holly bush is a little bit one-sided but its on the house side so no one knows!). Maybe if you buy a home you could even be more fire aware and replace the metal duct when you move in so you know it isn't full of sneaky pockets of fire-friendly lint!

'If a Fire Starts' by the Red Cross:
  • Know how to safely operate a fire extinguisher
  • Remember to GET OUT, STAY OUT and CALL 9-1-1 or your local emergency phone number.
  • Yell "Fire!" several times and go outside right away. If you live in a building with elevators, use the stairs. Leave all your things where they are and save yourself.
  • If closed doors or handles are warm or smoke blocks your primary escape route, use your second way out. Never open doors that are warm to the touch.
  • If you must escape through smoke, get low and go under the smoke to your exit. Close doors behind you.
  • If smoke, heat or flames block your exit routes, stay in the room with doors closed. Place a wet towel under the door and call the fire department or 9-1-1. Open a window and wave a brightly colored cloth or flashlight to signal for help.
  • Once you are outside, go to your meeting place and then send one person to call the fire department. If you cannot get to your meeting place, follow your family emergency communication plan.

Learn more fire safety from the Red Cross here. Learn more fire safety from the National Fire Protection Association ("NFPA") here. I know this post wasn't typical for me, but I hope you appreciated it! Here's a link with all of the items featured shoppable from Do you have any safety tips - whether for fires or in general, to share?

This is Us inspired post on home fire safety