I knew this next month would catch up with me so quickly! I was taking a walk with Eleanor yesterday to the swings, and as I was walking, I said to her, “Wow – you’re closer now to 1 year old than to when you were born…how is this all happening so fast.” One of the best quotes I think I have ever heard about parenting is (and there’s a good chance I’ve said this before because Mum Brain…it’s real!):
“The days are long but the years are short.”
I’m not sure who said that, and I know technically I should say, “The days are long but the months are short” at this point. I feel like she’s going to be one before I know it, though, and I have such mixed emotions about this!
Anyway! We’ve been back for a little over two weeks now, which honestly doesn’t feel right. I had to look it up, thinking surely we’ve been back for at least a month. So Eleanor has spent this seventh month of her life partly in the States and partly in Australia. She’s grown and changed SO much this month. It’s crazy to me! Without further ado, here we go!
Highlights and Milestones
I am trying to remember the things she did before we came back, but it honestly feels like an entirely different month. A highlight would definitely be those last couple weeks in the States. They were slow and relaxed – a great mixture when you’re on holidays! The holiday season had come and gone, and as opposed to last year when we headed straight back to Australia after the New Year, we still had a couple weeks. I really enjoyed that this time around. Eleanor became a pro jumper in the little activity centre. I’ve been trying to find a used one here for her because I feel like she is getting incredibly bored now that she has about 1/20 of the toys she had in the States. I don’t want to buy one, though, because they are big and bulky, and we have pretty much maxed out any “storage” we had. (Storage, as in behind our couch, under our bed, haha – where are all the walk in closets in Australia?!?! ;)) All that to say, after we got back to Australia, my friend Emily told me about the Toy Library. It’s a part of the city library system, and it’s located at a library about 5-6 minutes away. They have toys for all ages, and you can check them out for up to 4 weeks at a time. You pay $20 for the whole year, and your child can take 3 items at a time. She said she thought she saw one of the activity centre/exersaucer things, but I think someone must have nabbed it by the time I got there last Saturday. I did find a few other things, though. Eleanor’s favourite is the alligator xylophone. She “plays” music all day long with the biggest grin!
A HUGE milestone this month is that Eleanor can now sit completely unassisted. I think a combination of the activity centre, high chair and heaps of practice on the floor have strengthened her muscles enough to do it. It’s so helpful. Like, seriously…so helpful! I think as a first time mum, I am realising that there are some milestones that are going to be a bit like, “I didn’t even know how good this could be!” I am sure there will be many that aren’t so helpful or easier necessarily, but the sitting thing – I am a fan!
She’s also sitting in high chairs really well. The girl LOVES food. She gets so excited, particularly when I give her the Baby Mum Mums crackers. Her eyes get so big, her hands raise in the air and flap like a bird, and she starts yelling. It’s hilarious. I am glad she loves them so much, but I wish they weren’t so sticky because she hates getting her hands and face wiped. In my observation, though, I am pretty sure this is every kid. She’s tried many foods now, mostly in puree form. I am trying to give her more finger foods, but I don’t think she realises they are all food. Some, like avocado, are simply a fun, mushy thing to spread around the high chair tray.
She isn’t crawling yet, but I don’t think it is too far off. On our bed or in her crib, she will often get into crawling position and rock. She doesn’t like doing that as much on the ground, though. Maybe her knees haven’t adapted yet. Instead, Eleanor has learned how to do planks, and I am pretty sure with all her practice, she can hold a plank longer than I can! She’s working on her abs apparently.
Another fun milestone this last month was that she started saying “Dadadada”. At first I didn’t think she realised what she was saying, but there have been a few times when as I’ve said it, she’s looked at Robbie. Maybe she does know? I think my heart will explode when she figures out how to say “Mumumum”! At this point, though, I say “Mumumum” and Eleanor smiles and says “Dadadada”.
Finally, my personal favourite milestone, Eleanor is sleeping a million times better! We tried sleep training a couple weeks before she turned 4 months, and she caught on very quickly. I wrote about the challenge with it here and what I learned through it. When she had her scare, though, we all got out of the habit, and unfortunately, we resorted to our old habit of rocking. She quickly started to need to nurse every time she slept as well. The older she got, the worse this habit got and the more demanding of her “props” she became. It got e-x-h-a-u-s-t-i-n-g! I went from getting maybe 4 hours of sleep at a time on a good night to hoping for 2 hours at a time. She’d wake so much! Robbie and I read another book together – my favourite of all the sleep books I’ve read – and we decided to implement it once we got back and settled a bit. I won’t write of the entire thing because I may do a completely separate post about it. All I will say is that Eleanor is now falling asleep all by herself, taking longer naps(!), and on a good night giving me from 10pm-6am without needing to eat! My body and brain still haven’t caught up to this new luxury of extended sleep after months of short blips at a time, but I am pretty darn excited about it. AND, I am really happy that Eleanor now has learned (re-learned?) this skill of self-soothing!
It’s funny how some of her previous “dislikes” have turned into “likes”. Eleanor now likes (loves?) the bath! She’s still relaxing on her baby lounger. She can sit up, but I am worried that the bottom is too slippery for her. She hasn’t quite figured out her limits with sitting and sometimes reaches a little too far and falls over. I tried getting a thing for the bottom, but it is a bit too big and wouldn’t stick since the bottom of our tub has small ridges. We’ll figure it out eventually, though.
Another dislike that’s turned into a like is the car! PRAISE THE LORD!!!! Before this, I would sometimes avoid taking her places because I knew if I didn’t get the timing down perfectly that she would hate it and scream, possibly going into meltdown mode. Well now there are no problems at all. Two things I did that possibly made a difference were taking the extra padding around her legs out and switching the seat to the side rather than middle. It seems to be much more stable on the side as well, possibly because the seat is a bit wider. There are a couple toys I leave in the car, and she’s always excited to see them. We still have the mirror there as well, and she’s enjoying talking to herself or looking for us. I am so thankful that the car is no longer her meltdown spot!
Eleanor likes any toy that makes noise. She particularly like crinkly toys that sound like you’re swishing paper around and the alligator xylophone from the toy library. She smiles if you sing or dance to her, but watch out if too many people do it at once…then she’s a bit confused/concerned. Robbie put music on the other day while I was cooking and she was playing with cheerios in her high chair. We both started dancing, and I feel like the voice in her head was saying, “Oh no…my parents are completely nuts!” Haha. One person dances, though, and she’s all for it.
She really likes being thrown in the air and caught. She likes walks in the stroller/pram, especially now that I’ve faced her out to see the world. She likes the swings, and I cannot wait to buy the swing she got money for from Christmas and put it up in our backyard. She likes spoons, and she likes dropping spoons and anything else she can. At this point, she isn’t doing out of rebellion so much as the excitement of watching something fall. She LOVES FaceTime. She still likes fans, which cracks me up. She likes Winnie the Pooh and Veggie Tales when we watch TV – which has been a bit more this week with all this teething business. She also is very into Peek-a-boo at the moment. She surprised us all when she started playing Peek-a-boo with the person behind us on the airplane. She also really likes the pool and the beach.
She dislikes prune juice, which we tried giving her a bit of when she was not used to poo-ing big ppl poo. (That’s the least descriptive way I can put that…) And on a related note, she dislikes pooping sometimes now. She dislikes getting put to bed, even though she falls asleep with relative ease now. She has figured out the bedtime routine, and almost every night, she puts on a performance of “fake crying” halfway through the book. It’s pretty funny actually. She dislikes playing for very long by herself – all things point to this girl being an extravert! She dislikes getting clothes put on at times. I’m racking my brain, but I think that’s all I can think of at the moment.
How Am I Doing?
I am doing pretty great. Obviously there are days or moments that are harder than others, but I really feel like hitting the 6-month mark was a really big milestone for Eleanor and for us. I am a bit more confident in my mothering, even though I still have SO much to learn. It’s not “overwhelming” or “exhausting” the way I found the beginning to be. The fact that Eleanor is sleeping better has made a significant difference in my life. I feel like I am obviously getting more sleep, but I am also having more time to get things done around the house, work on projects or relax a little. Before when she would do her 40 minute sprint naps, I would rush to do dishes and MAYBE get an email or two done. Now, I find that I usually have time to do a lot, which is really helpful in the grand scheme of a day.
Overall, I feel like we’ve really turned a corner. We’ve gotten back into a bit of routine (as much as you can with a baby), and I am working out again. We’re eating better. I am just noticing a big difference with a lot of these little changes. And, even though it sounds cliche and every parent says this, I fall more and more in love with this little one every single day. I cannot remember life without her!