Friday, July 22, 2011

Ayla Look-Alikes Revealed

Today has been so hot, it's time for something cool! (hardy-har-har)

Did you see Monday's post about the Ayla look-alikes? If not, go check it out and make your guess before coming back here to see who is who.

I asked people to comment on which match-up was the most similar and also to guess which three were NOT blood relatives. Only a few people took on the second part of the challenge, and none of them got it right.

However, 100% of the people who selected a match picked the same one!

Here's the big reveal:

My awesome friend, Jen.
(I don't have any pictures of her holding Ayla, but she does--
all the time!)

Her Daddy, of course
My long-time friend, Kari, was the hands-down winner.
We have been told several times we look like sisters.
I take that as the highest compliment.
Yours truly! (Christina, you were right!)
Her Aunt Kim (John's sister)

Her little gal-pal, Charissa, who is two weeks younger

So, what have we learned from this? 

That when people say "She looks just like you," they really mean, "She looks just like your friend, Kari!"

(And I'm ok with that!) 

Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

My Parenting Philosoph-ease

When Ayla was two months old, I told John I was going to blog about what I was doing as a mother to get such an awesome baby. I had many friends expecting their first babies as well, and I thought I would do them a service by offering my wisdom gained from my vast parenting experience.

He suggested I maybe wait until she was six months old, just to make sure she was still an awesome baby (and still alive) and then it would probably be okay to offer my wisdom.

(Yeah, so he's really the wise one in this parenting partnership, but this is my blog, so there!)

Henceforth, she is six months old and still alive and still an awesome baby, thusly shall I share my wisdom.  Do you have a pen and paper to take copious notes?

But for real, I am so glad I didn't try to write about this back then because almost everything I would've said then wouldn't be what I would say now. So, I'm not really going to try to offer advice, but I think it's safe to share some of my philosophies because those haven't changed so much.

(I don't know if I even need this disclaimer, but just in case: I don't think this is the best or only "correct" way to think about these things, they are just the way I think about them, so take them for whatever that is worth to you! Thanks!)

Two questions or scenarios I try to think about when researching, then choosing a method for anything baby-related are:
1) What do mothers or families in other parts of the world do about ____, especially those without the same access to the resources and information I have?
2) What have mothers or families in generations past done about _____, ditto?

(And really, I think about these two aspects of just about everything in life, not just when it comes to parenting.)

I have found these questions help to broaden my perspective from what this or that blog or website or currently much recommended or much loathed book says to do or not to do. I don't get so wrapped around a certain method or style, because in the back of my mind I'm thinking, "There are about a billion people in India and I doubt many of them have read or heard this _____, so it must not be as complicated or absolute as this _______ is making it seem."

Now, of course, I am SO grateful for the knowledge of those gone before and that of my peers, the access to the amazing resources I am blessed to be able to use and so on. And obviously, we (our society/generation) are doing a better job in general at keeping our babies alive, so I'm not kicking it all to the curb. It's just that the American Medical Association recommends different things than the Australian or British version of the same. So, since they/we didn't invent childbirth or child-rearing, and mothers and families have been doing it pretty successfully for as many centuries as you believe this earth is old, I just keep those two "filters" on and go from there.

That wasn't too bad, now, was it? I have a few other thoughts I'll pepper in amongst the Ayla pictures and single-ish-mom stories, too, and I hope to have you along for the ride.

What are your thoughts on these or other philosophies? Are they even really philosophies? Is there a better word for them? Were you hoping I'd put at least one Ayla picture in this blog?

Ok, here.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Who does she look like?

One of the fun (or "fun") things about having a baby is other people's comments about who he or she looks like. We try to see if they look like their mom or dad. There's the inevitable comparisons to grandmas or grandpas or other blood relatives.

What I did not expect is that people who are not related to me think Ayla looks like they did, even to the point of sending me baby pictures to prove it. So, I have a little poll or guessing game for you.

Here are a selection of these comparisons, in no particular order, "Ayla-look-alike?" on the left and Ayla on the right.

Leave me a comment with which letter you think looks the most like her, and then, try to guess which three are NOT related to her by blood. But, here's the deal. My mom and mother-in-law, and brothers and sisters, and the "look-alikes" themselves will know more about who's who than most, so if that's you, please don't give it away for everyone! Maybe just wait until I reveal who's who on Friday.

Until then, happy voting!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Extreme Makeover-Anna edition

You need to understand something about me.

I am not afraid of changing my hair color. My mom let me start coloring my hair before she let me get my ears pierced. She changed hair color like you're supposed to change your oil (and still does), so my siblings and I did the same.

That said, one color I had never tried was blonde. I'd done blonde streaks, blonde highlights, but never all-out blonde. For the past several years, I've stayed with pretty much the same brown color because of military regulations. Then I was pregnant and couldn't do much. Since then, I guess I've been waiting until the right moment.

That moment came a few weeks ago when I was visiting family in Tulsa and had the chance to get my hair done by Gail. Gail has been doing my mom's hair since before I was born. She did my hair for all my formals in high school and college and was the first person ever to show me how to straighten it.

When she asked me what I wanted done, I said "I want it short and blonde."

I showed her this picture as inspiration for the cut:

My brother, Tim, says I look like Natalie Portman, so in my dreams, I do.
I started out like this:

Four hours later, I went home looking like this:

Now, obviously, she wasn't done. But my previous color was being very stubborn to come out, and my scalp had so many burns on it from the bleach so we had to take a break. Never fear, I went back the next day and finished:

This was the longest I have ever or will ever spend getting my hair done. It took eight hours total and my hair and scalp were shot. But, I like it. I love the cut and I'm getting used to the color. I don't know how long I'll keep it blonde, but I'm glad I could try it out. I think Gail did a fantastic job with it!

Here's what it looks like curly (in its natural state):
(bonus image of cute husband and baby are free this week)
I also got a new tattoo, courtesy of same brother:

Check out Tim's tattoo shop, Southtown Tats
In case you're new to my blog, my daughter's name, Ayla, means oak tree in Hebrew. So this little oak tree has an Aleph (Hebrew letter A) for branches and a little red Yud (there's no J in Hebrew, so this is the letter most often translated into J for English). It's red because Ayla's birth stone is garnet and it symbolizes a little Jewel (her middle name), though people can think it's a bird, an apple, a butterfly or whatever, because what's a jewel doing in a tree? It's on the inside of my right ankle. 

I love it and think it was worth every bit of the pain. Actually compared to pre-epidural, pitocin-induced labor and having my scalp on fire for 8 hours, I barely could consider it pain at all!

(PS. John loves both changes. He pretty much just loves me and is happy when I'm happy!)

(PPS. Coincidentally, Natalie Portman just named her baby boy Aleph. Hmmm...)

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Six-Month Update

I maybe should've written this post yesterday morning when the world was new and we were all happy and smiles and excited about being six months old. Today, this photo from our "fun" little session yesterday afternoon expresses my feelings, too:

Some days are just hard, you know? (This one was hard because of teething-induced fussiness and neither of us being used to that.)

Regardless, I will plant my flag in the ground of gratitude and press on. 

Two words that could sum up Ayla's development this month are Noise and Motion. 

She's been babbling for a few months now, but this past month she has been exploring the range of her vocal chords, and seems to have an affinity for the very high part of that range. She makes some very cute noises, especially when she has something in her mouth that she uses to make all sorts of word sounds her tongue doesn't know how to do yet. Even as I write this, I'm loving the happy song sounds coming through the monitor as she plays in her crib. There are also some very not cute noises, my least favorite being this new grunting/squeal she just started when she's frustrated or unhappy.

The girl loves, no, LOVES to jump. When we were visiting her cousins in Oklahoma, they showed her that she could bounce in the jumper, not just stand there and chew on things, and now she does it like it's what she was put on this earth to do. 

She's also scooting around on her belly, mostly backwards but she can angle to the side, too. She gets up on her hands and then her feet, but hasn't put it together yet. I think all the jumping has really strengthened her back and now she can do this:

(she can do it for a few seconds, but she can do it!)

Last month, I blogged about how I had started swaddling her again because of the constant rolling over when I put her to bed. She has since learned how to roll back to her belly, but hasn't shown too much of an interest in doing that yet. She also started breaking out of every swaddle strategy I tried, and she took being put down swaddled as a challenge. Last week, I quit swaddling and now just let her fidget and fuss for a few minutes before conking out, which seems to be working well. 

My wise friend, Elizabeth, advised me that every new skill would impact her sleeping habits for a while, so I'm aiming to be flexible with my approach while giving her every opportunity to develop healthy sleep habits.

Finally, we closed out her first half-birthday with a first taste (I would say "bite" but I don't know if she got that far) of solid food. 

mmm...sweet potatoes

I'm trying the "baby-led weaning" approach, which is mostly a misnomer because it is neither baby-led nor weaning (yet), but the idea is that you start with soft solids right off the bat instead of spoon-fed cereal--->purees--->mush--->solids, and you let the child eat as much or little as he or she chooses. That's where the baby-led part comes in. The theory, as I understand it, is that this prevents food from becoming a control struggle between feeder and fed. 

So, it's something we'll try and if it works for us, great, and if not, we'll try something else! I'll let you know how it goes.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Every Day Ayla - Month Six (!!)

Reading up on what it means to be 6 months old

Here's a little video I made of her progress over the last 6 months. If you've got about 3 minutes, I think you'll really enjoy it!

Since it's so late, I'll post the regular "here's how she's doing" info tomorrow. (Hey, she was born almost at the end of the day, so I just follow her lead!)
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