10 Months

Dear Riley,

My cute little monster, we are no longer in single digits!

You are as determined and independent as ever – without any encouragement from mommy or daddy, you started walking! Silly girl – you don’t even have any teeth yet!  How can you be walking already?!?

You took your first step on September 16th, and before the end of the month, you were able to take 7 or 8 steps all on your own without falling down. And of course, just like every other new skill you have acquired, you must practice and practice and practice. So all you want to do now is walk. And with something in your hand? Even better.

You especially love walking around your room with your Pooh bear in your hand. No matter that the bear is almost as big as you are! Oh my goodness, how you just love teddy bears… Your Auntie Elisa gave you a book about a teddy bear celebrating Hanukkah, and that is now your favorite book. I’ll say “where’s your teddy bear?” and sometimes you grab your Pooh bear, and sometimes you grab your book.

Riley Roo, you are so much fun these days.  You dance when you hear music – it’s just the cutest thing ever.  You LOVE playing peek-a-boo, and you love when mommy makes funny faces.  You just giggle like crazy when we tickle you, or when daddy puts you on his shoulders and pretends to ‘fall’ a little.

My favorite time of the day is still first thing in the morning when I go in your room to get you.  Now your smiles greet me right at the door – you’ll stand in your crib and just grin from ear to ear when you see me.  I can’t think of a better way to start the day.  No matter how early it is, or how tired I feel, as soon as I see your smiling little face, I’m ready for anything!

And then of course you have to try to grab as many pacifiers you possibly can before I take you out of your crib…

You are such a ham…

My sweet baby girl, you are growing up too fast!  You are so much less like a baby, and more and more like a toddler as each day goes by.  As much as I might miss that tiny baby stage where you would fall asleep on my chest, I really admire your independence and determination to learn new things and barrel forward in life.  I’m totally in awe of you sweet pea.

Love, Mommy

9 Months

Dear Riley,

You are nine months old! Before I can even catch my breath, we will be planning your first birthday party…

Almost as soon as you learned to stand up, you started cruising. You want nothing more than to stand up and practice walking while holding on to anything possible. This is your favorite thing to do – other than to be carried around by daddy, of course. You have been working nonstop on your balance skills, and you can stand still without holding onto anything for long periods of time now. You also love holding on to my fingers and walking around your room – you do most of the work, while using my fingers just as security. I can tell you are going to walk very soon, and I’m so excited but also a little apprehensive about just how drastically everything will change once you start walking. But I can tell that nothing is going to stop you, little one. You are incredibly determined!

This month has been full of change actually – right after you turned 8 months old, mommy broke her elbow. From one minute to the next, our family’s world was turned upside down. But you continue to amaze me sweetheart – you adapted to everything new without missing a beat. Some babies might be upset by having to drink from a bottle instead of breastfeeding, or having daddy put you to bed instead of mommy. Not you. You never fussed once. You are just such a sweetie, and your never ending smiles and giggles have kept me going throughout my slow recovery.

We’ve spent a lot more time in your room this month, and that may be why you are so close to walking already. When you and I play in your room, you love to pull all your books down onto the floor and try to find pages with kitty cats on them. You get so excited when you find a cat in one of your books – you squeal with delight and bounce up and down on your butt – and then you close the book and try to find the cat again. And again and again and again!

You really enjoy playing with your stuffed animals as well, and sometimes you even talk to them! You will babble away and then start laughing, and I wonder what is going on in your little imagination already.

You have moved on from playing in your jumper that you loved so much – you are no longer content to sit still in one spot, so these days you zip around the house in your walker.  We call it your ‘car’ and you absolutely love it!  You love having the ability to go where you want, investigate what you want, grab what you want (like bags of croutons from the pantry) and of course – you love chasing after the cats!  Sometimes we play ‘catch mommy’ – I hide behind a wall, and you come find me.  I jump out in front of you and say “Boo!” and you just shriek with laughter!

Sweet pea, you make me smile a hundred times a day. Thank you for being my own little ray of sunshine.

Love, Mommy

8 Months

Dear Riley,

Your eighth month of life was another huge game changer!

This month you started standing!  You are truly amazing to me – you seem to change in the blink of an eye.  You just started crawling, and two short weeks later, here you were – able to pull yourself into a standing position.  I didn’t even have a chance to start encouraging you to do this, you just did it all on your own.  You are a very independent little baby, and you just want to go, go, go!

This month you also had your first vacation and first plane ride – you were so good!  We went to New York to visit your daddy’s Aunt Bonnie and Uncle Robbie, and we went to Cape Cod to visit daddy’s old friends, the Hardwickes.  You met so many new people and you had such a great time.  You also got to play a lot with your cousins Natalie, Megan, Vivian and James.  I can’t tell you enough what a great baby you were on this trip – everyone you met fell in love with you instantly.

My sweet little girl, your personality is blooming more and more every day.  Our relationship is just so incredibly special, and my life is just getting sweeter and sweeter because of you.  I could never have imagined how full you would make my life, my heart, my soul.  Thank you Sweet Pea for being you, for being my little girl.

Love, Mommy

Dear Mom

It’s been 10 years since you left us, and I still think of you every day.  I miss you even more now that Riley is here.  She has your eyes Mom – and sometimes when I look in her eyes as she smiles, I swear I see you looking back at me.  Nothing could be more bittersweet – I am filled with peace knowing you live on through her, but at the same time I’m heartbroken that you’re not here to share our journey.

I’m a mother now, and I wish I could talk to you about it.  I wish I could tell you that I always knew you loved me, but now that I have Riley, I know you loved me a hundred times more than I ever imagined – because that’s how much I love her.

I know you are in a much better place, and I’ll see you again someday – you’ll have a cup of hot tea with milk and a deck of cards waiting for me.  Until then, I’ll still miss you and love you always.

Love, Tammy

7 Months

Dear Riley,

I know I say it every month, but you are 7 months old and I just can’t believe how quickly you are growing up!  It wasn’t that long ago that 7 months seemed so far away, and now here we are.

This month was another huge game changer – you started crawling!  You spent about three weeks getting up on all fours and rocking back and forth.  You started moving your legs, but you wouldn’t move your arms, so you did a lot of falling forward onto your face.  One day you actually fell face first onto one of your toys and gave yourself your first little shiner.  It was tough watching you struggle – Daddy and I tried coaching you as much as possible, but you just would not move those arms no matter what we tried.  Then suddenly one morning, you put one hand in front of the other, and just like that you were crawling!

Now that you can crawl, you just won’t sit still.  There’s always something you want to look at, inspect, and put in your mouth if possible.  You are constantly on the lookout for something new to touch or taste.  And if you spot something you really shouldn’t put in your mouth – like mommy’s shoe – you are off to the races.  Always on the move, now I’ve started to miss the days when as a newborn, you would fall asleep on my chest.  Sometimes I wish that – just for a few hours – I could have you as a newborn again so I could hold you close and savor that brief period of time just a little bit more.

You also started to really babble a few days ago.  You went from simply squealing in delight all the time to stringing long syllables together.  When you see something that excites you: “ga ga ga ba bah…  Da da ba ba da…  Guh… guh… duh duh da da da Da Da DA DA!”  And when you are concentrating on inspecting some new object you say “boof…  boooffff…  boof…”  Our home is suddenly filled with the beautiful sound of your constant babbling.

You and I have more and more fun every day.  One of your favorite things to do is try to grab my feet.  Now that you are crawling that game has become so much more exciting!  You love playing with me and will often crawl to me for some personal interaction – and I just love that so much!  I will sweep you up and lift you in the air and you’ll squeal and grin from ear to ear.  And then we’ll play tickles or peek-a-boo as you bathe me in your giggles.

Sweet Pea, I’m just so in love with the little person you are growing into.  I can’t imagine my life without you.

Love, Mommy

 

Music I Need To Share – Vance Joy

This song just makes me happy.  Every time it comes on in the car, I find myself smiling and singing along.  And yeah, I’m pretty sure I’m singing the words wrong…

“I love you when you’re singing that song
And I got a lump in my throat
‘Cause you’re gonna sing the words wrong…”

Baby Products 0-6 Months

Now that Riley is 6 months old (holy cow time flies!) I decided to put together a list of the products that I absolutely love and made my life as a new mom a little easier.  I can also name a few that I probably could have lived without…

 

1.  The Boppy – Or as Kenny calls it “the oversize neck pillow” – a classic must have.  I have two – one for the couch in the living room, and one for Riley’s nursery.  Whether you are breastfeeding or bottle feeding, it really doesn’t matter – they are great for propping baby while feeding.  I have also used it for tummy time, and as a sitting prop.  I still use it to nurse, and I also place it behind Riley when she’s sitting on the floor in the nursery just in case she falls backwards so she won’t hit her head on the floor.

2.  Fisher Price Rainforest Gym – Riley has used this gym every day since she was about a month old.  It’s perfect for tummy time!  Her play gym has seen her through learning to kick with her feet, swat with her hands, and roll from her tummy to her back and vice versa.  We have also taken the detachable toys with us on outings – the toucan rattle is her favorite.

3.  Summer Infant Swaddles – My absolute favorite thing ever.  Priceless – can’t stress this enough!  I’ve heard people say “my baby didn’t like being swaddled, he/she would just bust out of the swaddle…”  Well, Riley did the same thing in the beginning.  No matter how tight I wrapped her with a blanket, she would wiggle free.  The velcro on these swaddles are fool proof, and Riley would sleep so well swaddled all night long – in fact, she STILL gets swaddled for naps, and swaddled with one arm out at night.  Being swaddled is part of her nighttime routine, and she seems instantly ready to sleep once she’s snugly wrapped.  I am going to give these as gifts to anyone having a baby from now on.  Yes Ady, that means you!  ;-)

4.  Fisher Price Rock-n-Play – I read mixed reviews about the rock-n-play before giving birth,  so I wasn’t sure if I wanted to spend the money on one.  However, my wonderful cousin Dena gifted this to me, and now I can say it’s worth every penny.  Riley has napped in her Rock-n-Play every day since she was born.  The vibration, the slight incline, the snug fit at the sides – all wonderful things for helping her to sleep.  I kept it next to the couch, and for the first three months she practically lived in it.  I wish there was an adult size – I’d sleep in it too!

5.  Fisher Price Cradle-n-Swing – Another item Riley has used every day since she was born.  I put her in it every morning and it gives me time to make and eat breakfast.  I really don’t know what I’m going to do when she outgrows this swing – and that day is coming soon.

6.  BabyBjorn Carrier – I used this carrier to take Riley with me when I did my grocery shopping once I finally gathered the courage to venture out of the house with her as a newborn.  I preferred this carrier because it’s just so simple to use.

7.  Fisher Price Jumperoo – Riley LOVES this thing.  As a matter of fact, she’s in it right now as I type.  I have it right by my desk (my office is quickly turning into her play area).  Putting Riley in her jumper gives me at least a half hour of hands free time to get some work done, which is wonderful.  Not to mention the exercise benefits for her.

8.  4Moms Infant Tub – I never even knew I wanted this tub until it was given to me.  I love it because it’s designed to let dirty water flow out through the side drain while clean water flows in.  I also love that the temperature display tells you if the water is too cold or too hot.  This might seem sort of unnecessary – obviously anyone can easily check the temp of the water by hand – but I was one of those new moms that panicked about pretty much everything, so this gave me one less thing to worry about.

1.  Medela Breast Pump – I recommend this pump for anyone planning to breastfeed.  I never used any other pump, so I really can’t compare or guarantee this is the best pump out there, but it works great for me.  It’s extremely easy to use, and I love the bag – it looks so much like a purse that I’m able to leave it right in plain view in the living room where I normally pump, and no one even notices it’s there.

2.  Zip Up Footie Pajamas – Love these vs. button up footies.  Who wants to unsnap and re-snap a zillion snaps in the middle of the night for a diaper change?  Not me.

3.  Baby Bullet – I’m using this now to make Riley’s food.  I’m sure a regular food processor would do the same job, but I love the storage system – and the ‘cookbook’ provided with the system makes things just that much easier.  I love anything that I don’t have to think too hard about.

1.  Tommee Tippee Diaper Disposal System – I’m on the fence about this one.  This diaper system actually seals each diaper in plastic during disposal.  I like the idea of sealing the diapers to lock in the odors, but the system gets stuck – a lot – especially when the bin starts to get full.  It’s a real pain when you are trying to hold the baby with one hand and turn the dial with the other, and it suddenly gets stuck.  Another drawback is that the refills are expensive.  The only reason I’m still using it is because it really does do a good job of keeping the nursery odor free, and I don’t really want to spend the money on a replacement diaper bin.

2.  The Moby Wrap – I was in love with the idea of “baby-wearing” and was really excited to use the Moby.  It’s a little complicated to use – I had to read and re-read the directions, and giving ANYTHING a ton of thought during the newborn period was just way too difficult for me.  I ended up using it only 3 times.  I live in Miami, and even in December, it was way too hot.  I’d start dripping sweat after just a few minutes of wearing Riley – and this was indoors.  This is probably a great wrap up anywhere else, but here in South Florida I found it impractical.

3.  The Bumbo – I will admit, I probably bought this too late – I didn’t get it until Riley was over three months old.  And I also can’t say for certain that it wasn’t beneficial to her.  She did start sitting up a little early (just before turning five months old) and maybe the Bumbo had something to do with that, or maybe it didn’t.  But honestly, Riley only used the Bumbo about a dozen times.

I instinctively feel like it’s a waste to spend money on any product that your baby will only use temporarily.  But that’s what babies do – they keep growing and changing, and they grow out of stuff so fast.  So I guess I value products much more based on how long and how often Riley gets to use them, and how much they help her development – as well as how much easier it makes my life by either giving me some hands-free time, or by taking the guesswork away.

That’s just my two-cents!

6 Months

Dear Riley,

You are half of a whole entire year old, and I really Can’t. Even. Believe It.  You are growing and changing so fast, mommy and daddy can barely keep up with you!  My tiny, sleepy newborn is long gone, replaced by the most scrumptious, vivacious baby, so full of glee and wonder.

You can roll over from your back to your tummy, so now you can roll pretty much any WAY and any WHERE you want – which you do ALL THE TIME – even in your crib when it’s time for you to go to sleep, you little stinker…

You have started to shake and bang things while holding them, which has made every toy seem new to you all over again.  You have been exercising your vocal chords every chance you get, squealing, grunting, and saying ‘ga’ and ‘ba.’ I love when you spot something that excites you, like a certain toy – or mommy’s hand -  you lunge for it and make this excited ‘kah’ sound.  You also love making razzing sounds – you tend to do it non-stop some days.  It’s funny, as if your opinion on everything is that it’s just a bunch of hooey.  “Riley, what do you think about the San Antonio Spurs?”  “pfpfpfpfpfpfpffffffff…”  You got it, baby.

Go Heat

Born a Miami Heat fan!

You went to the beach for the first time with me and your Auntie Debbie. You really weren’t sure how to feel about it.  The ocean is just so big, and there was all that weird sand stuff at your feet – I think you were a little overwhelmed.  Mommy and Daddy also took you in the pool.  You enjoyed that a lot, and only got upset when water was accidentally splashed in your face.

beach

Beach 2

You started eating real food this month too. You are a really good eater so far – you pretty much finish anything I offer you, and you make the cutest ‘yummy’ sounds the whole time. So far you have eaten peas, squash, sweet potato, banana, avocado, apples and pears.

I’ve tried reading books with you, but all you want to do is eat the books!  Luckily, mommy finally figured out the secret – I let you have a pacifier while we read.  Now we can actually finish a book without you trying to grab the book and shove it in your mouth.

We read this book now mommy?

Speaking of pacifiers, we are in trouble because you LOVE them. You insist on having one in your mouth in order to sleep, which has ultimately resulted in many mid-night trips to your room to fish the pacifier off the floor behind the crib and put it back in your mouth. Not fun for mommy. Your Auntie Sarah suggested we litter your crib with pacifiers and since implementing this plan, you and mommy have both slept a little bit better. It’s kind of funny seeing you laying in a forest of pacifiers, but you really love it.

I don’t know why, but you LOVE my singing…  even though I can’t sing worth a dime.  But any time you are cranky or upset, all I have to do is sing ‘Twinkle Twinkle’ (your favorite song) or any other tune, and you calm right down and smile at me.  I sing to you every day, especially when it’s nap time or bed time.

My sweet baby girl, you have brought so much joy into my life. You are just the best little baby I could ever hope for, and I can’t ever give you enough hugs or kisses every day. I love you so much!

Love, Mommy

5 Months

Dear Riley,

You are 5 months old! This past month was so busy for you, I almost don’t even know where to begin!

You started sitting up without support! You started by sitting for only a few seconds at a time before falling over, and now – only a few short weeks later – you can sit for minutes at a time without falling. You are amazing!

When you turned 4 months old, you started waking up at all times of the night – mommy had read about the “4 month wakefuls” and you definitely went through that phase. So, since the doctor had already given us the green light to start rice cereal, we decided to try it. Kiddo, I never thought you would be this excited about plain old rice cereal, but I’ll be damned if you don’t act like it’s filet mignon. And you absolutely love sitting in your high chair and eating from a spoon. It’s so much fun for the both of us – and what a mess you can make!! Sometimes I have to take you out of the high chair and plop you right into the bath.

Mmmm… delicious!

Soon after we started rice cereal, you SLEPT THROUGH THE NIGHT for the very first time! And I mean all the way through the night – for 10 hours straight. Crazy! You haven’t done that every night of course, but you are back to sleeping through most of the night again, and that makes mommy very happy.

We started a mommy and me fitness class this month too. You go with mommy to the park and sit in your stroller and watch me exercise with all the other mommies. Then at the end of class, you get to play with the other babies. You love this of course, because you love doing anything that involves being outside.

Making new baby friends

And for the days we spend inside, mommy bought you an activity center that you stand in and play with the toys all around you – and jump jump jump jump jump – you LOVE jumping!

This month your Pops got sick and had to go to the hospital, which was a huge bummer. But in the world of Riley, this meant that you got visits from your Uncle Jay, Uncle Robbie, Uncle Charlie and Aunt Sarah. Luckily your Pops is feeling better and will be home soon, cause I know you really miss him.

You’ve also finally started to notice the animals in our house, and the cats are definitely your favorite. I will sit you on my bed, and if one of the cats jumps up on the bed too, you get so excited and fall over trying to touch it. You also laugh at them when you spot them walking by.

Riley-bug, you are just so adorable, and you just keep getting cuter by the day. It just doesn’t seem possible for you to get any cuter – and then you do!

With your Uncle Robbie

and your Uncle Charley

and your Aunt Sarah

Cutie Pie!!

Four Months

Dear Riley,

You are four months old, and my goodness how you have grown and changed in the last month! You weigh 14.5 pounds, and you are 25.5 inches long.

4 months

Others may still see you as a little baby, but I already see you as a little person – you have such a personality! You started to laugh out loud this month, and it is such a wonderful sound, I wish I could make you laugh every day. I try, but I’m not always successful. Then other times, I can be doing something completely routine, and you will just crack up. One day I was pulling out a piece of tin foil to heat up leftovers, and that foil had you in stitches as though it was the funniest thing you had ever seen. Tin foil…? Really…? Whatever floats your boat, kiddo!

photo shoot

Model baby!

You also started rolling over from your tummy to your back. I always clap and tell you “good job” when you roll over. At first, you would look at me like ‘what did I do… why are you clapping?’ – but now you’ve started to look at me right when you roll over like ‘ok, go ahead, you can cheer for me now’ – so cute!

Mommy and daddy took you to a few festivals this month. We met up with your Aunt Debbie and Uncle Hal at the Renaissance festival, and then another day we took you to your first seafood festival. You did great, although you weren’t too enthused about the crowds. Anytime the crowds cheered, you would cry – you just didn’t understand why so many people were all yelling at the same time.

With your Aunt Debbie

You also started teething. You love chewing on mommy or daddy’s fingers, and pretty much just about anything else you can put in your mouth – including your feet. Chewing on a foot is seriously one of your favorite pastimes.

chewing feet

feet, feet, yummy yummy feet!

You do this thing that is SO ADORABLE – when I’m changing your diaper, you will grab my hand and try to bring it to your mouth with this little impish grin on your face as if you are doing something sneaky. You crack me up!

Mommy and Riley

My sweet little baby, you are growing up so fast! I wish I could slow you down, but you are just so independent and eager to learn. Next month is sure to bring even more changes – you are almost sleeping through the night, from about 9pm to 5 or 6 in the morning. And you are going to start sitting up soon too!

This has been such an exciting month, mommy decided to put together a little video…

It’s such a thrill to watch you grow, but slow down just a little… please?