Saturday, February 28, 2015

Snow Ice Cream

Denver managed to topple the February snowfall record this year, from the previous record in 1912.  All this snow calls for something yummy.... snow ice cream!

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You definitely want to use fresh white snow.  Also, this makes probably 4 servings of ice cream, so you can adjust the recipe if there are just two of you (it doesn't keep well and should be eaten immediately!).

Ingredients:

1 cup milk (chilled)
1/4 cup sugar
2 tsp vanilla
1 pinch salt
8 cups snow

Mix first 4 ingredients together.  Scoop up snow and mix with milk mixture.  Immediately serve.  It's delicious topped with sprinkles.  Nora and I both thoroughly enjoyed this snowy treat!

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Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Meal and Grocery Delivery in Denver

With both of us working (and Kevin's schedule being all over the map), I rely heavily on services to make grocery shopping and food preparation easier.  If Kevin's home he will start dinner and that works out great, but if it's just me, by the time I complete my hour commute and pick up both the kids, it's often 6pm or later by the time we are walking in the door.  That means the kids are hungry, I'm exhausted, and I have about 15-30 minutes to get food on the table before it's breakdown city.

So, here are some services I've tried.  Some of these only apply to the Denver area, some are national.  While I haven't tried grocery delivery from Walmart.com or King Soopers directly, my friend Sarah wrote all about her experiences here!

1) Instacart.com 
Instacart is a grocery delivery service, only available in a few major cities right now but working on expanding.

Awesome:
  • You can get food from King Soopers, Safeway, Whole Foods, or Costco.  
  • You don't even need a Costco membership to get food from there.  
  • We live in kind of grocery store desert and don't have Whole Foods or Costco near us so it's great to have someone deliver it to us.
  • Delivery fees are pretty cheap, like $5 as long as your order is at least $35. (If you want multiple stores the fee is charged for each store).
  • Site is easy to use.
  • You get your own personal shopper who will text you to ask about replacement items if they are out of something you ordered.
  • Texts are sent when the shopper is on their way. Good communication.
  •  You can order as late as an hour ahead of when you want delivery, and they deliver as late as 10pm at night, every day of the week.  Super convenient!
Not so Awesome:
  •  Food is slightly more expensive than you will find in the store.  Not for every item, but for most items (hey, they have to be making money somewhere, so I understand).
  • Both times I ordered, several items couldn't be found by the shopper.  Which usually doesn't matter but once I had based my whole meal plan on one of the items so it was a bit annoying that it wasn't available.
 2)  Hellofresh.com 
Hello, Fresh delivers food ready for preparation, but you still have to cook the meal.  You can get either 3 2-serving meals per week or 3 4-serving meals per week (vegetarian or with meat/fish).  This is available nation-wide.

Awesome:
  • This basically eliminates the need for meal-planning, which I love because I absolutely dread trying to figure out what to cook each week.
  • Meals have been yummy and relatively quick to prepare (usually 30-45 min).  They offer 5 recipes each week and you pick 3.  It's nice to get such a variety of food during the week.
  • The recipes are very easy to follow, with pictures.
  • Can shorten grocery shopping time (no dinner food needed).
  • Delivered with lots of ice packs and stays cold; food has always seemed very fresh on arrival.
Not so Awesome:
  •  Still need to go grocery shopping for breakfast/lunch items so doesn't completely eliminate the trip.
  • Kevin thinks it's pretty expensive considering you still have to make the whole meal yourself (I think it's about $70 for the weekly 2-person meals and $120 for the 3-person meals).  I would argue it's not too bad considering how many ingredients are in each recipe, but yeah, it's not exactly budget dining.
  • We actually end up cooking more using this service because we've been getting the 2-person meals (since Jack doesn't eat much yet and Nora doesn't eat a ton), so there aren't leftovers like there are if we make our own recipes.  Yes, I suppose we could bump up to the 4-serving meals to solve that problem, but I wish there were more meal choice options, like 2 4-serving meals per week instead of 3.  Usually we go out Friday and Saturday nights and have pizza night Sundays so we don't really need that much food.
  • At least for our area, their available delivery times are annoying... like Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays only, anytime between 8am-8pm on your delivery day.  I mean, when I'm trying to figure out the next week, I want the food to arrive at the beginning of the week, right?  If I get the food on Friday, we're unlikely to eat any of it until Sunday at the earliest, so then it's been sitting around for two days already.  I picked Wednesday so we can eat the first meal Wednesday night, but then I'm always stressed that the box won't actually show up until 8pm that night (so far it's been showing up around 5pm so it's already getting close to dinner time).
 3)  Spicy Radish
Spicy Radish is in the Denver area only, but they deliver fully prepared meals.  You can order 2 ($24), 3 ($32), or 4 ($40)-person meals.

Awesome:
  • This is by far the most time-saving option, as the meals take only 5-10 minutes to reheat and throw together.  A life-saver some nights.
  • Food is usually pretty tasty.  There are usually 4 options of meals to choose from each week.
  • Only a couple dollars more than Hello Meals and the preparation is already done.
  • Delivery on Sundays which is the best timing in my opinion.
 Not so Awesome:
  • Servings could be slightly larger for the price.  I usually get the 4-person meal size and try to have it last two nights but we usually have to supplement the meal with something extra, like bread or salad (or dessert).
  • Reheating meat in particular can sometimes dry it out, so I tend to think it doesn't taste quite as good as a freshly prepared meal.
  • Again, still need to do some grocery shopping for other meals.
  • Have to order by the previous Thursday at noon, so it does require some advanced planning.
Anybody else tried any good meal/grocery delivery services??

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Jack: Month Nine

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Dear Jack:

You are adorable as ever, but this was not my favorite month.  It was the month of sickness for you (and me, and your sister).  Plus, you started off the month teething- now you have your two bottom teeth!  So that meant pretty poor sleep, and then you got a cold which turned into a double ear infection, then croup, then the ear infection came back, then the antibiotics for the ear infection upset your digestive track, and you still have a persistent cough (as do I.  It is the worst!).  You have not been as smiley this month (understandably) and you've had some rough days, and sleep training has been on hold for quite a while.

In good news, you are more interactive than ever, and so snuggly.  You love your mama!  You are always giving me the sweetest hugs and snuggles.

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Sleeping:  Given all of the above, it could have been worse I suppose, but yeah, it was not a great month for sleep.  I think the worst part is that every night has become an unknown- you might sleep the whole night through; you might wake up 4 times; you might sleep but wake up at 5am.  Also when you wake up the go-to resolution has been to move you from your crib to your rock n'play.  I know.  Not good.  But especially with your cold I feel like the tilt of the rock n'play allowed you to sleep so much better.  Still, now that you are feeling better, I really need to stop using that and get back on the sleep training train.  It's just hard.

Naps have been okay.  You tend to either take 3 short naps (30 min each) or 2 naps (one longer and one short).  I generally do not have a hard time putting you down for a nap, you are usually pretty ready for naptime and usually fall asleep pretty easily, something I'm grateful for and hope it continues!

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Eating: You have three meals a day and have started to eat more and more table food, though usually we give you a puree as the base of the meal.  You've also shown signs of pickiness already this month which has me a little worried.  If there is something you don't like you will purse your little lips and turn away and absolutely refuse to even try it.  Mostly you love purees that are sweet (big surprise), bananas, puffs, bread, pancakes, pickles, and quartered grapes.  I tried to get you to eat some berries and while you had several the first time I offered, you've since refused every time.  Argh.  I also tried a little cheese to test your dairy allergy- I thought it went okay but about 36 hours later you had one of your worst nights of sleep ever.  I can't say for sure it was the dairy because it was awhile later and also that was right when you were getting your ear infection, but it kind of freaked me out.  I think we will wait until you are a year old to try dairy again. I know you get some dairy in the bread products you love so much so at least dairy that is baked into things doesn't seem to bother you too much.  We also tried peanut butter a couple of times and so far (knock on wood) there doesn't seem to be a reaction to it.

You still drink 5 bottles of formula per day, about 30oz total.

Weight:  At your recent doctor visit you weight 20lbs 2 oz.  You've more than quadrupled your birth weight!  Just astounding to me how much you've grown.

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Diaper Size: Size 3... but I'm thinking of switching to 4s.

Clothes Size: I've put most of your 9M shirts and onesies away.  You can still fit in some of your 9M sleepers and pants, though some of the sleepers are starting to look a little uncomfortable.  You can fit in some of your 12M things now pretty well!  I was planning on that size lasting through spring so I hope that's the case.

Teeth:  Bottom two.  They are so cute!  I haven't checked in awhile to see if you're getting any others.

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Nicknames: Buddy, Bubs, Bubba, Jackster, Jumpin Jack, Jack Attack, Baby Jack, Mr. Jack

Milestones: Your adjusted age is 7.5 months. You've made some forward progress in movement.  Well, one step back- you suddenly hate rolling again.  Or just being on your back/belly in general.  I think since you've gotten so good at sitting you just want to be in that position and nothing else will do.  BUT, I also think you are getting really close to crawling.  You can get on your hands and knees from the sitting position now.  However, if you try to move forward you just end up on your belly (and mad).  So maybe a few more weeks?  I'm not sure.  You definitely seem highly motivated in the last week or two- so many things you want to explore and we can see how frustrated you are getting at being unable to reach everything you want to touch (eek!  must get baby gates soon).  You have become a pro at turning in circles on your butt so you can reach everything within your sitting radius.

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You are still loving standing up and you can stand by yourself holding onto or leaning against the activity table (carefully monitored, you are still lacking in balance). You can't pull yourself up yet.

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I also think you are getting pretty close to clapping/waving.  We've gotten you to clap a couple of times after we do it and same with waving, but it's not consistent so I'm not sure you really get it yet.  You are finally saying the "m" consonant, though I only get a "mah" sound when you are getting mad or upset- no "mama" quite yet.  It is so cute when you are babbling away to yourself. :)

Likes/Dislikes:  You like sleeping in the car.  You tend to fall asleep like 3 minutes after I strap you in, which can be annoying if we're just taking a quick drive somewhere.  You like taking "big boy baths" with Nora.  You love puffs (those baby snacks).  You like interactive games like patty cake and peekaboo.  You love when people talk to you or play with you.  You love bottle time (unless there's a lot going on, then you get very distracted).  You like playing with board books (though admittedly we have not been very good about reading to you every night- something I want to get better about!  I guess it's second child syndrome.  Though you don't actually seem that interested in listening to the books right now, just chewing them and turning the pages). You like stroller walks.

You are losing interest in the exersaucer and jumperoo.  I had already retired the jumparoo at this point with Nora, I think, because once she started army crawling she had no interest either.  You don't like having a dirty diaper (wet diapers don't bother you though).  You don't like loud "scary" sounds like yelling or dogs barking (that's actually been true for a few months- sometimes you cry when Dante the dog gets excited and starts barking).  You don't like being left with the same toys for longer than 5 minutes or so- you get bored and want to play with something else.

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We are hoping next month is much healthier and happier for all of us!  We hate seeing you sick, buddy. 

Monday, February 16, 2015

15 years ago today....

... I went on my first date with Kevin.  We were so young!  Only 19 years old.  We met through one of my best friends in my sorority, and then we happened to have the same differential equations class that semester so we used that as an excuse to get together and study (nerd alert).  Though mostly I remember we talked... and talked and talked.  For hours.

We've been through a lot together in 15 years... college, graduate school, first careers, medical school, residency, cross-country moves, pets, weddings, travel, losses, achievements, and two beautiful babies.... through it all I can't imagine sharing this journey with anyone else.  I remember when I met Kevin, I just knew from the moment we first met that there was something special between us.  Sometimes you find people who just understand you with no effort at all, and that's how it was with us- instant understanding, instant friendship, instant passion.

Marriage and making a life with someone is not as automatic as those first blissful months of dating and falling in love- it takes effort, patience, and choosing to love someone every day (and sometimes, failing).  There's ebb and flow and you are not always on the same page or in sync, especially with small children and multiple responsibilities and days of not seeing each other.  But through all of this, I think the foundation of our relationship has remained firm.  We are partners. I love this man and what my life is now because of him.  We have built this life, a home, a family, where first there was just us two. 

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Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Nora: 3 years going on 13

Sometimes I think this three year old business is getting easy, and then suddenly- bam, Miss Nora comes out with *attitude*.

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I think the emotion she has learned is "indignant". Like say we ask her to repeat something. She'll put her hands on her hips and say, in teenager style, "MOM. I already TOLD you that."

 She also has super delay tactics. If I want to go anywhere, even somewhere fun for her, I should plan on at least 20 minutes of cajoling, bargaining, and choices before her shoes and coat are on (and then usually an additional trip back inside is made to get a toy for the car ride). And going to school, which lately she has taken every day to saying "I *hate* going to school, I just want to stay here!"? It's like pulling teeth every morning (I don't know why she says she hates school. I think it's just another delay tactic. Because she also often doesn't want to leave school when we come to get her at the end of the day).

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Her favorite phrase?  "Mommy/Daddy, can you play with me?" She craves our participation in her very imaginative play (I've realized that in adulthood this kind of play is not my favorite- I much prefer doing activities together.  But Nora loves when I agree to be a mermaid, dinosaur, mother polar bear, etcetera, particularly if she gets to lead me around and tell me what to do next).

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While the attitude can be a lot to handle, she can be SO cute.  And funny.  Here are a few funny things she's said recently:

Nora: I should marry someone who's nice to me, right?
Me:  Yes, of course.
Nora:  Then, I'm not going to marry Brady when I grow up.  He hits me and the other kids sometimes.

(poor Brady.  Already off the potential marriage list at three years old).

Kevin (having already made Nora a pancake, but wanting to offer a choice):  Nora, would you rather have a delicious, freshly-made, warm pancake with syrup which was made with love? Or would you rather have a cold frozen muffin?
Nora:  Cold frozen muffin please.

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Nora is really into puzzles right now and has gotten pretty good at figuring them out herself.  As always, she's a book lover, and in particular loves to "pretend read" books.  You can tell she's working on figuring out tone, as sometimes the story or sentences don't make that much sense, but she'll say something with the correct cadence.  Lots of focus on the "she said"'s and starting and ending the story in the right way.  She will point out letters while reading, but no real interest in sounding out words yet on her own.  Just the other day I saw her write her name all by herself for maybe the first time (she's been doing N and O for awhile but having trouble with the R and the A- both are still tricky but she's making progress).

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Nora started getting interested in putting her face underwater and holding her breath, so I took it as a sign and signed her up for swim class, but I think it backfired.  I don't know whether it was the other kids in the class who acted terrified of the water or if it was just Nora realizing the pool is deeper than the bathtub but she seriously went from doing a nice backfloat on her first day of class to refusing to leave the side of the pool at all after 6 classes... so yeah.  I think we will take a break for a little while.  But, she is also taking gymnastics class and those are going great- she's getting better at somersaults, hanging from the bar and getting her toes up to the bar, and jumping with her knees pulled up on the trampoline.

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Nora loves to help me cook and do pretty much anything that makes her feel like a big kid.  She tells us she wants to be a farmer when she grows up. Though she has her meals she won't touch, she is generally an amazing eater, and will eat relatively spicy food, salad and brussel sprouts, mussels, sushi, indian, thai.  Strangely, one of her least favorite foods is pizza or anything with tomato sauce (she hates tomatoes)- though I've found I can get her to eat pizza with some honey for dipping.  She hates having her picture taken so I either have to catch her unaware or bribe her to sit still and smile. She loves singing and has an amazing memory- sometimes memorizing entire lyrics after the second or third listen to a song. She thinks potty humor is extremely funny.  She is wearing mostly 4T clothes now and size 10-11 toddler shoes.

She is also such a good big sister.  I think we're at kind of a sweet spot because Jack isn't mobile yet and can't go out of his way to get into her stuff.  So right now she can choose which of her things he can play with and she is good about sharing when it's on her terms.

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While we have our share of disagreements, Nora is such a fun, joyful, goofy, bright, caring little girl. It's totally crazy that she's nearly 3/4 of the way to 4 years old.  When she folds herself up into a ball on my lap, bony limbs and all, I try to remember her when she was an infant and it seems both like yesterday and an eternity ago. When did that little baby turn into this child?

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Saturday, January 31, 2015

Sleep training, take two

Remember in Jack's 8 month post I mentioned we were doing sleep training and it was working pretty well?

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Should have kept my mouth shut.  It has been a couple of weeks of little sleep, my friends.  Which I know, is not that bad considering that some people have years of terrible sleep.  But it's hard functioning on little sleep while trying to work full-time too.

What I remember from sleep training Nora is that is was hard; hard to listen to the crying, very emotional.  But, I also remember it being pretty effective, working after only about 4 nights.  She went from waking up 4-5 times per night to sleeping through the night.

This time around?  Well, the crying doesn't bother me nearly as much.  Maybe because I've learned that crying doesn't hurt a baby or cause any long term trauma (well I guess we'll see if someday Nora needs a therapist to work through her 4 nights of sleep training as an infant).

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But, I am having a much harder time being consistent this time around.  You really can't give in when sleep training, you just have to stick with it; no picking the baby up when you go in the check up on him, no hovering and letting him fall asleep while you are in there.  But, I'm so tired.  And there's also the element of his room being right next to Nora's room, and I'm always a little worried he's going to wake her up too. Sometimes at 2 in the morning it just feels so.much.easier to pick him up, and then usually, put him in the Rock n'Play.  Which he is like way WAY too big for.  I can't even get the strap all the way around him, just one leg because of his chubby belly.  But he still sleeps like a dream in there.

So if anyone is getting trained around here it's me.  He always starts off in the crib- goes to sleep pretty well on his own I will say- but then around 2-3am starts wailing until I inevitably give in and move him to the RnP.  Just too tired.  I had been getting 6 hours of sleep which was passable but lately I've been getting sometimes only 4-5 hours per sleep. Part of this is my fault- I go to bed too late; part of it is Nora's fault- she's been waking up too for any number of reasons, like her blanket isn't positioned at a 90 degree angle, you know, three year old problems; and part of it is Jack and his frequent wake-ups, usually at least 3 times in a night (until I move him, see above).  It doesn't help that I think a lot of these wake-ups are due to his two new teeth... so then I don't want to push sleep training if he's in pain.

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I guess I will sleep someday, right?  When oh when do kids start thinking sleeping is enjoyable? The other good news is that the teeth have officially cut through, and I don't see any others looking imminent, so hopefully at least that will help him sleep longer.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Jack: Month Eight

Dear Jack-

What a month!  You are sitting, rolling, babbling, and eating like a champ nowadays.  You have a become such a super happy sweet baby.  Everyone comments on your adorable cheeks and your big smiles.  I love this baby stage.  I love the sweet coos and happy noises.  I love the leg rolls and the dimpled thighs.  You are such a delight.

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Sleeping:Well it happened.  My wonderful sleeper finally had a sleep regression.  We had been holding your hand while you fell you asleep or sometimes holding your arms to your side which had been working for awhile, but it got to be too bad a habit and you started waking up frequently during the night unless we returned and did the same thing.

So, we've been doing some Ferberizing and it's gone pretty well for the most part. I'm finding it easier to do this time because I know that we will all be happier getting better sleep.  We also decided to drop the Magic sleep suit at the same time, and you have voluntarily given up the pacifier, which means you are really putting yourself to sleep all by yourself now!  You like sleeping on your side- a couple times you've even fallen asleep on your tummy and you seem to sleep even longer then.  We still have a few wake-ups here and there (especially the last few days which might be related to your new tooth) but overall you've been falling asleep much faster and staying asleep longer so I'm pleased.  You generally sleep from 8pm - 6am.

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Naps have gotten somewhat worse, on the other hand.  I remember when you were 3 months old and you were still sleeping like 20 hours per day and I was somewhat concerned with how much you were sleeping, haha.  You have definitely become much more like your sister as a baby in terms of naps; usually only taking 2 or 3 30-45 minute naps per day.  Occasionally we'll get one longer nap.  But, you are taking naps in your crib rather than the swing now (we actually sold the swing!  It was bittersweet for me.  That thing rocked you for so many hours when you were itty bitty.  I think it was starting to seriously strain trying to rock a 7 month old though).

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Eating:  I've stopped keeping careful track of what you've tried because you've had pretty much all the basics and a ton of new things, including pineapple, strawberry, plums, beets, chicken, and turkey.  You love your food.  Seriously if you see us eating dinner and you are not also eating you start crying.  You are eating three solid meals a day.  Usually a 4oz container of puree, a handful of puff cereal or rice crackers, and some sliced up fruit or avocado.  We've been giving you more "real" food this month and you are already really pretty good at chewing and not gagging.  You even had a whole pancake the other day and ate it all up.  We've also given you toast, orange slices, pear slices, banana slivers, and frozen avocado slices.  Your pincer grasp has greatly improved this month with all this practice.  You've also gotten pretty good at drinking water from the straw cup.

For bottles, you have a 7oz bottle when you first wake up, then usually 4 other bottles throughout the day that have ~5oz each, so usually about 27oz of formula per day.

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Weight: Heavy enough that I gave up on the infant carseat about a week ago.  You are now in the convertible seat!  I can't tell how I feel about it.  It's kind of a pain to not be able to set you down just anywhere.  On the other hand you are a lot lighter alone than with the seat.  My estimate using the at-home scale is 19.5 lbs.

Diaper Size:  Size 3. 

Clothes Size:  6-9M and 9M, and outgrowing some of the smallest of these.  You've started wearing a few 9-12M things.

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Teeth:  Just a few days ago you cut your first tooth, on the bottom right (with the one next to it looking like it will pop through any day now as well).  Nora didn't get hers until 11.5 months so I was actually a little surprised!

Milestones/Firsts: First Christmas and New Years.  First major sickness (the RSV I mentioned last week turned into a several week ordeal with at-home nebulizer treatments.  Trying to get a 7 month old to sit still with a mask on his face for 20 minutes was no fun at all.  But you are sounding better now).

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I mentioned in last month's post that we were going to get you evaluated by Early Intervention services.  Well, good news- you passed, and do not qualify for services.  They said you look perfectly normal for your adjusted age and even ahead in some areas like fine motor.  Gross motor does seem to be your slowest area but they were not concerned and thought your muscle tone and flexibility were fine.  I was happy for some reassurance and I know you will get to moving when you are ready.

You have been doing a lot more rolling this month, both ways, and you are now sitting steadily by yourself, and reaching and playing.  You also love grabbing onto fingers and being pulled into a standing position (can't quite do it by yourself yet but I have a feeling you will be pulling up sooner than you will be crawling).  You also have really found your feet and it's fun to see you finally playing with and grabbing them.

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You have been babbling more and more (way ahead of your sister here, I might add, who didn't babble until 9 months, though she had a pretty mean army crawl at this age).  Lots of "dadada" and "gaga"s.  Still no mamas, I've been practicing a lot with you and hope you say it soon!

Likes/Dislikes: You love food.  You like taking baths and we've started letting you take baths with Nora, which you usually think is pretty fun though you often look like you're a little worried about your crazy sister and all her rowdy bath antics.  You love games like peekaboo and "so big".

You've started getting increasingly mad when I set you down and then walk away to go do something.  You definitely like having people pay attention to you- mom and dad most of all.  You also light up when your sister brings you a toy or talks to you.  Still hating tummy time and you don't do a lot of it; however, you roll a lot more so you end up getting some tummy time in that way.

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Thank you for being such a sweet little baby, Jack.  You make each day so delightful.  We love you!