5 Years

>> 8.31.2012

Tomorrow is our five year wedding anniversary. What's funny is that up until yesterday, Stephen was absolutely convinced it was our sixth. He apparently told my parents that, too, but they didn't have the heart to correct him.

They do say time flies when you're having fun.

We're on a budget this year always, so our plans to celebrate are anything but lavish. And we're totally cool with that. My parents will babysit Ada while we cash in on one of the Restaurant.com gift certificates we bought for several of our favorite local eateries. Either Thai or Indian.

Handmade gifts are to-be posted because I don't want to give away the surprise.

If you're interested, here's where we got engaged, our third anniversary, our fourth anniversary, as well as when I tried on my wedding dress again (plus an alcohol-infused fudge recipe).

We've also decided that since Ada is now part our union, we'll spring for our family membership to the local zoo and kid's museum early. (Initially we were going to get one for her birthday in November -- but with Stephen going back to work, we could really use an extra place to go during the days.) Ada and I have been there a couple times, but we're excited to check it out with daddy!

So, that's what we're doing with our holiday weekend. What are your plans?

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Tippy Toes

>> 8.29.2012

Up, up, and up. It's the only direction this little girl wants to travel. And speaking of up, she's going up in size. Though many of her 9-month clothes still fit (and even some 3-6 month skirts), I've broken out some of her 12-18 and even 18-24 month clothing.

No, I'm not crazy. When I saw this post on YHL, I discovered that Sherry and I share the same clothing philosophy. Ignore sizes. Use larger tunics as dresses. Use too-small dresses as tunics. Layer with snug-fitting jeggings and leggings.

We're maximizing our clothing dollars for sure. Trying to find other ways to save, too.

And just in time. Yesterday we learned we need to buy a new furnace. Like within the next month. Add this to a long list of other big hits we've taken this year -- including replacing the engine in Stephen's car -- and we're on an even tighter budget than we originally imagined.

I'll have another Stay-At-Home Mom update coming in the next couple days, so if you have any questions you'd like me to address, just leave a comment or email us at writingchapterthree [at] gmail [dot] com.

Oh, and if you love Target deals, be sure check out this Clearance Schedule we found on Pinterest.

Like what you just read? Stay connected! You can subscribe to the feed of these posts, chat with us on Twitter or Facebook. And you can always email us with your questions and comments.


Baby Must-Haves (6-9 Months)

>> 8.28.2012

It's that time again. Ada's already on her way to being in the double-digits as we approach her first birthday. I'd say this last 3-month span may have been the most remarkable yet in terms of her development.

For those of you new to the site, we've been covering the items we've used the most, the ones we've not, and focusing on frugality with this series. We hope our suggestions have been helpful to you!

Pssst: You can also check out the 0-3 Month Edition and the 3-6 Month Edition


a.) Chicco Lightweight Stroller
b.) Planet Wise Wet/Dry Bag
c.) Melissa + Doug Music Set

a.) I resisted buying another stroller. But the BOB Revolution SE (our jogging stroller) is somewhat heavy. Baby-wearing is my preferred method, but sometimes in the summer -- way too hot for mom AND baby. This umbrella stroller does a great job if we're out and only weighs like 10 pounds total. b.) We hadn't used our wet/dry bag in a while, but with all the vacations and outings this summer, it sure came in handy. Now I just keep it in our diaper bag at all times. c.) After checking out a local baby music class, I decided it was too much money. So, we got the Band in a Box set from M + D. Ada loves music time! They make a more deluxe version, but ours was only $20.  


a.) Tambourine
b.) Clothes

a.) Somehow, we have a tambourine. Like a real, adult one. I have no idea where it came from. But Ada loves it. LOVES it.
b.) I guess this is more for the future, because most of the clothes we've recently received are in the 12-18 month size. But we're always thinking ahead of the game. We're all set fashion-wise for the next year, it seems!


a.) Shoes
b.) Rocking Chair
c.) Freezer Trays

a.) Have I written this one before? Ada does not like shoes, and as a non-walker in the summer months, I've seen no reason to push the issue. However, we did recently buy this cute pair of Monster Robeez for the fall months upon us. We figure they'll be lightly used and worn by a future sibling. b.) We haven't sat in the rocking chair once this entire 3-month stretch. We always nurse side-laying on our bed. We always read books downstairs on the bean bag. Hm. c.) I bought all sorts of freezer trays, like these ones, thinking I'd be making huge batches of baby food to fill them with. In the last three months, we've mostly pureed fresh or given Ada table food. We're using them to freeze herbs currently.


a.) Any sort of playground equipment
b.) BOB Handlebar Console

a.) I know. She's a baby -- a little too young for swing-sets, etc. But with a great park down the street, I doubt we'll ever spring for anything for the yard. b.) I think in our last post, we did say we wish we had bought a handlebar console for the jogger. It's three months later, and it's definitely something we have lived life just fine without.


a.) iPlay Swim Diaper
b.) More hats
c.) Crib Teething Guard (Cloth)

a.) You gals suggested we get a swim diaper, but we dragged our feet and ended up using disposable swimmers all summer. Will definitely change this for next year (or even sooner if we sign up for a swim class.) b.) I mentioned how Ada's head is big. Well, all sunny summer long, those wide-brimmed hats we had got too small. I wish we had purchased one in a larger size versus squeezing her into the ones we have. c.) I saw a teething guard like this one on Emily's blog -- and definitely think it's something we might need to get. Ada love gnawing on, well, everything.


a.) Snack Trap
b.) Tails Book by Matthew Van Fleet
c.) Time

a.) Now that we regularly give Ada puffs and Cheerios to snack on, it's nice to let her have them wherever she is versus always having to sit in the high chair. Stephen's mom gave her this cute snack trap -- she figured it out in just a few minutes! b.) Ada's favorite book was given to her for some holiday, which I now can't recall. Anyway, the Tails book is all about, uh, tails. And they MOVE! So much fun. c.) Of course, the greatest gift we're regularly given is babysitting time. We're not always the best at taking it, but we appreciate the generous offers and plan to redeem them soon.


a.) Rice Box
b.) Anything and everything

a.) Though we specifically bought the plastic storage container for this Rice Box project, I am sure if we looked hard enough, we could have dug one up from the basement or attic. b.) Reality? Everything that isn't a toy . . . is a toy to Ada. I see that this is a common theme among other bloggers and moms I follow. She'll sit amuzed for some time looking at the vacuum cleaner, door stop, or packaging. Of course, this is instead of playing with all her colorful toys.


a.) Doorway Jumper
b.) Burp cloths
c.) Graco Swing/Bouncer 2-in-1

a.) Sniff. We're going to have to pack away the doorway jumper soon. We've reached the max height capacity somehow. It should be good for another month or so. But she's getting too big! b.) I can't remember the last time I used a burp cloth. I may just pack them away -- but I hope I'm not jinxing us! c.) Once and for all, we have retired the swing. We thought we were done with it during our last posting, but then she liked it again for a couple weeks. Now? She wants absolutely nothing to do with it. Dear swing: It was a good run, but we're done.

Paying it forward: As I've mentioned several times, we have some awesome friends who have let us borrow/given us tons of things for baby. Now we're in the position of doing the same, and it feels great to share. We recently gifted some clothes to a friend expecting her first girl any day now.

I'm sure there will be many more opportunities to give as the months roll on! And if you liked this post, be sure to check out the 0-3 Month Edition and the 3-6 Month Edition.

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My Parenting. My Personality. My Frustration.

>> 8.27.2012

I called my parents to vent this morning about Ada's ever-continuing struggles with napping. See, she was deliriously tired and falling asleep in my arms an hour after waking this morning. It's usual for her to take a nap this early. Sort of routine, so I wasn't forcing sleep on her too soon.

However, the minute her tired little head hit the crib mattress: AWAKE. CRYING. SCREAMING. Usually, I could deal. But with my gig, I have a deadline each day. Today that meant listening to these cries while finishing up my work. Now that Stephen's returning to work for the school year, I need to find a better way to cope.

My mom assures me it's teething. Regardless, I knew she needed some rest, so I walked in frantic circles around the neighborhood hoping she'd settle for at least half an hour. No naps mean super-crank afternoons and -- far worse -- trouble sleeping at night.

We know this from (lots of) experience.

Anyway, during that conversation, my mom explained to me that when I was Ada's age, I had set nap times -- morning and afternoon. If I slept, I slept. If I didn't, too bad. But I was on a relatively strict schedule with eating, sleeping, playing, etc. It was for her own sanity. And for the most part, it worked.

(On a side note, my mom tells me that, as a baby, I was a lot like Ada. High needs. I've said a few times that I don't know how I'll be able to handle another child -- and she tell me she felt similarly. But then my brother was born and was completely relaxed and chill. Weird.)

I share certain characteristics with my mom. One of them is my desire to have control over situations. Or at least feel like I do on some fundamental level. I've mellowed out of necessity over the years, but as we chatted on the phone, I finally realized my biggest source of frustration over Ada's 9 months.

My desired parenting style is at odds with my personality. I'm trying desperately to let Ada call the shots because I've read that's what's best for her. Baby-led parenting, if you will. Trying is the key word, but I don't always do so well. Think about it: Nursing on-demand. Keenly attuning myself to sleep cues for nap times. Generally going with the flow -- each day's new and different -- because her needs change and shift like river currents.

But, let's be selfish for a moment, what's best for me?

Of course, I know I signed up for this whole mom-thing. I never expected it to be easy. But the number of times I've broken down because I've felt out of control are innumerable at this point. There have been many times, too, when I've questioned if I'm just doing it all wrong. Feelings of failure, sadness, and confusion nearly meet in number those of elation, joy, and confidence.

The first year is awesome, but rough.

During that 1-hour walk this morning, I think Ada may have slept a grand total of 15 minutes. I, on the other hand, was nearly falling asleep from a mixture of physical exertion (I walk like 13-minute miles with the BOB -- no joke, and no idea how!) and what almost felt like rage. Not directed at Ada. More at myself.

I keep asking myself: What can I do gain some control over my situation? You're probably expecting me to write "nothing" because, ultimately, Ada's needs aren't up to me to decide. But there's good news! I do feel there are some opportunities for me to shift my mind into a happier place. At least I am trying to stay positive and believe there are.

I started to write about the mental shift, but I have decided I am going to break this post down into a couple parts. (It was getting epic in length.) In short: I am trying my best to let go and follow Ada's lead. But I am also going to find points in our day where I can gain some confidence and, here's that word again, control.

It could be as simple as leaving the house more often. It could be as easy as trying my mom's napping strategy. But I'll write more another time. As you can see, my thoughts are in-progress. And also, as you can see, Ada is napping because I had enough time to type out a lengthy post.

Win! Party with the cats!

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Sunday Morning

>> 8.26.2012

I love having a daughter. A girl. I don't write this to sound obnoxious. I wouldn't have been disappointed in the least with a boy. You see, though, I grew up with a brother. Only male cousins until I got into my later teen years. I grew up playing catch, shooting hoops, hiking, and hunting for toads.

I enjoy these activities. Immensely. And Ada will, too, no doubt.

I just had to share these two photos. They might be my new favorites. Having a girl means I get to explore the softer, sweeter side of myself. Ada tolerates her hat now for 10 minutes at a time. Can't wait till she's old enough to play dress-up, paint nails, etc. It's going to be so much fun!

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Some thoughts . . . (from last night)

>> 8.25.2012

There's a lot of fun stuff that goes along with being a mom to Ada Mae.

I wake (most days) to a smiling, cooing baby. She's fresh and ready for the day. So many possibilities for fun and adventure, even if that means crawling on the floor in the spare bedroom for a change of scenery. So many opportunities to learn and grow. I watch her discover new things by the minute and it blows my mind.

We take backyard strolls and pick flowers together. Well, Ada mostly tries to eat grass and leaves. Still, I love watching her develop her understanding of the outside world. The seasons change. She listens to birds chirp, watches two squirrels chase one another up a tree, and giggles at that bunny who has decided to live in our lawn.

I introduce her to new foods and watch her little face make sense of all the flavors and textures. I see her develop preferences even at this early age. Loves blueberry yogurt . . . hates peach. Shovels sweet potato chunks into her mouth. Spits out cottage cheese. Cannot get enough tofu. Seriously.

There's a quiet nursing session each night before bed -- when she's not distracted and eats heartily. She stares at the painted peacock on this simple thrift-store necklace I bought years ago. Fingers the cheap, fake-gold chain. Someday I will give it to her as an heirloom of sorts. Best dollar I've ever spent.

And then there's that moment when I slip into her nursery late at night to peek at her one last time. Her face is completely relaxed. Like she's an entirely different baby when she's asleep. I'm sure you know what I mean. Ever since she was a newborn, she's had two very distinct personalities, the waking and the sleeping.

There are a lot of difficult moments, too.

With a constantly developing mind, we're bound to have struggles napping at least once a day. We're always reevaluating our "schedule" to best meet Ada's needs. I feel like I'm never getting it quite right. And even when I do, it changes again.

With a constantly growing body, we're bound to have struggles with nursing at least once a day. Or teething. Or any other number of other things. As much as I feel fortunate and happy to have nursed this long, it hasn't been easy by any means. The highs and lows with the process continue to amaze me even nine months later.

With a constantly developing immune system, we're bound to have sickness every now and again. Though, I certainly thought sickness would allude us more than it has. You know. With the breastfeeding. And staying home. Truth is: Some babies get sick more often than other babies. Despite what anyone will tell you, there's no rhyme or reason.

When sickness strikes, I often need to use a bulb syringe or other uncomfortable method to help cure it. These moments are perhaps the most heartbreaking moments of all. Ada screams and cries, seeing them only as pure torture -- betrayal, even. But what needs to be done needs to be done and is ultimately for the greater good. I must remind myself that when she's so upset.

Then there are those times when I catch a glimpse of Ada in just the right angle and see her somehow as she might look at five years old. My heart sinks a bit. So much of this first year is spent in survival-mode that I feel like I have missed out on such precious time. I keep telling myself that I need to cherish it more when "the next one comes."

I'm always left with mommy-guilt because that makes me feel like I'm giving up on Ada's special time. But I've learned by now that I can't win the mommy-guilt war. It's ongoing.

Right now is that time of night where Ada has decided she's done with her bath. She loves it for about 10 minutes and then it's like hot lava. She. Wants NEEDS. OUT. And then it's a quick change, another try with the bulb syringe (poor girl), and that last feed of the night.

And we're off!

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Rice Bins and Gymnastics Mats

>> 8.23.2012

We're having an interesting week over here. Monday night, Ada came down with a cold. Or she's congested from teething (tooth #7 is totally on the way). Or both. Anyway, she slept -- no exaggerating -- in 15-minute spurts until 5AM, when she finally succumbed to a three-hour stretch.

Longest night of our lives. Puts the newborn phase to shame. We took her to the doctor to rule out infection. She's still stuffy, but in good spirits.

But that's not what I'm writing about today.

I initially saw this whole rice box (sensory play) idea on some Netflix educational on demand show. It was one of the programs I watched in the early weeks. Ada was so tiny, I didn't give it any serious thought. I put it in my memory bank for another time.

Then last week, I remembered. I came across this awesome rice table over on Apartment Therapy. I love the idea of putting legs on the container, but think I'll hold off for a while until she's a bit bigger.

Really, it does seem like the whole thing might be a little too old for her. Wrong! For babies Ada's age, the idea is more that the caregiver show things like filling up cups, emptying cups, using funnels, etc.

And under close supervision, it's fun to dunk their hands and feet inside. A sandbox with far less mess. I write "close supervision" because those little hands move rice to mouth in less than a second.

Yes. The rice does tend to get everywhere. Just use one of these.

As we move into the colder months, I've been trying to think of things to do with a baby while indoors. This rice box should be a fun change of pace when we get cabin fever.

We also bought a gymnastics mat.

No. I'm not looking for my own personal Gabby Douglas. It all started when I Googled "playmats." I found lots of fun, colorful mats made for baby and toddler play that also serve as a soft place for heads to land when they attempt walking, which is what we're dealing with.

But those mats were like $200! Yikes.

This one was only $138. We figure it's a good investment because we can also use it as a gym mat someday. Right?

I'll write more soon, but I'm in hyper-organization mode for when Stephen goes back to work. These two things have now been crossed off the list. I'm hoping the mat will allow me to turn my back for maybe 30 seconds without a horrible injury happening. It may be wishful thinking! Or at least I could get back into doing back handsprings again.

What sorts of projects do you have going on for your little ones? Any advice on fun indoor things to do when the weather gets frightful?

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Baby & Toddler Trends. For Less.

>> 8.22.2012

Hunter Rain Boots [vs.] iPlay Rubber Boots
Mini Boden Hotchpotch Cardi [vs.] Old Navy Dot Card
Pendleton Baby Blanket [vs.] Southwest Fleece Throw
Freshly Picked Moccasins [vs.] Minnetonka Booties
Tea Collection Leggings [vs.] Gap Striped Leggings

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Evenings Outdoors

>> 8.20.2012

Thanks for all your kind and informative comments on the Worry post. Sometimes I really don't know what I would do without such a wonderful, supportive community of moms. I'm feeling a bit better now and trying to let go of everything until our next appointment.


Anyway, these days, we've been letting Ada eat dinner for like an hour -- picking at beans, quinoa, sweet potato hunks, etc. -- and waiting to eat ourselves until she's asleep. There's usually a half hour in between when she's down eating and bath-time/sleep.

So, we head outdoors, while we still can, and let her crawl around. I think it's her favorite time of the day.

And I just had to share this face she makes. We thought she might have stuffiness or allergies because she also breathes in/out of her nose rapidly, but the doctor said it's actually quite normal for babies to do this.


I hope you all had great weekends. I will be back later today on (never)homemaker with a delicious cider (mini) muffin recipe. Yeah. I'm pushing for fall in August. Go away, heat!

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The Worry Continues

>> 8.18.2012

During my pregnancy, I tried my best to not let every twinge worry me. I had little success with it. Enduring strong Braxton Hicks contractions more than 6x/hour most days from week 17 till birth will do that to a girl. I wouldn't call myself a hypochondriac, but I would say I'm acutely aware of how I'm feeling at any given time.

Being a mom has added another level of worry, of course. Now for Ada's health. I expected it. I've tried, again, to stay calm.

At yesterday's 9-month appointment, we had all the standard measurements done. Weight (16 pounds, 12 ounces -- on the low end, but I guess breastfed babies tend to lean out after the first 6 months). Height (27.5 inches, in the 50th percentile as always). Head circumference (18.25 inches).

Wait, what?

I saw the nurse the dot on the growth curve . . . and it jumped WAY to the top of the percentiles. Then again, I wasn't terribly surprised. At her 6-month appointment, the doctor noted an increase in head growth, but assured us that everything else seems fine. No reason to worry . . . yet.

She's now in the 95th percentile. The doctor said something like: "It may just be familial macrocephaly (SAY WHAT? Big head -- OK). If we do need to see what's going on, thankfully the soft spot in the head doesn't usually close up until 18 months or so. We wouldn't need to use radiation or sedation . . . we could do a simple ultrasound."

My mind wandered after hearing the word "testing." Then I felt punched in the face with the radiation -- BAM! -- and sedation -- POW!. I wanted to cry. Something wrong with Ada? I know her head is a little a lot big, but she might need, gulp, testing?

We asked to have her head measured once more to check for error, but it was still very close to the original measurement. I guess the size itself wouldn't be a big deal if it had always measured large, but she left her "normal" growth curve between her 4 and 6 month appointments, jumping from 50th percentile at birth to its near off-the-charts position currently.

We left the appointment with the doctor encouraging us that she's hitting all her milestones -- early, in fact. She doesn't show other signs of something being wrong. So, we'll check it again at her 1-year appointment. No worries until then, she said. I was so numb, I nodded and didn't say much more. Ada even waved and said "ba ba!"

When we got home, I started Googling. (We ALL have a medical degree with the help of Google.)  That was my first mistake. I got a pit in my stomach with the range of things I found, from hydrocephalus to early indication of autism, etc. 

I know I'm being unreasonable with how I'm letting it all get to me. I know I should just give it a rest. But I feel like I can't wait that long. That's three l.o.n.g. months to wonder if it's just a big head or something more. Three months for more potential damage.

Three excruciating months of worry.

Both sets of grandparents assure us it may just be the big head thing. My dad has always had trouble finding hats that fit. Though Stephen's mom couldn't find his baby measurements, she tells us that his brother's head was 19-inches at 10 months (again, 95th percentile).

Anyway, I don't really know why I decided to write about this here. It feels too private to share, but I needed to. Maybe I'm looking for some wisdom from you seasoned moms. If you have anything to offer, I could sure use it today.

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5 Mommy Must-Reads

>> 8.17.2012

In between working, blogging, taking care of Ada, taking care of the house, taking care of myself, and the millions of other things that come up daily, I read lots of blogs. Now that I have a child, the whole mommy-blogging world has opened up to me -- big time.

Here are some of my favorite series of posts from 5 awesome bloggers:

Biking with Kids (Simply Bike Blog)

S. covers a variety of topics related to biking and leading a healthy, active lifestyle with baby in tow. She recently earned her Ph.D., and took baby on international travels this summer. Always a fun, thought-provoking read.

Munchkin Meals (A Healthy Slice of Life)

I look forward to reading these posts on Brittany's site because solid foods + me = clueless. Check out this series for notes on what other moms and dads are feeding their babes, complete with adorable photos of little fingers pinching foods.

Baby + Kid DIY (Prudent Baby)

I haven't sewn anything in a while, but I stay glued to the Baby + Kid tutorials -- and, really, all of the content -- over on Prudent Baby. I bookmark or pin things I want to make in the future, too. Which reminds me, my mom is coming over today to teach me once and for all how to thread my sewing machine!

The Mama Natural Show (Mama Natural)

This one's more of a must-watch pick. I came across Mama Natural during my pregnancy while looking up med-free births on YouTube. Then I discovered Genevieve's show, where she covers all things natural parenting, from babywearing to breastfeeding to cloth diapering and beyond.

Suri's Burn Book (by Allie Hagan)

Whenever I need a good laugh, I click over to see what Suri's saying about other celebrity children. I can't get enough of her hilarious remarks . . . but also just seeing how famous kids live. It's interesting -- and definitely has replaced my need to read People Magazine or watch E! News.

Speaking of famous babies . . . doesn't Ada look a lot like Mia Farrow from Rosemary's Baby in this photo? I posted it on Instagram (@neverhomemaker) and it gave me a good laugh. Would have fun a funny Halloween costume, I think. Too bad we already have that covered.

What are your favorite mommy-reads of the moment? I'd love some more to pour over!

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Stop it! Just stop it!

>> 8.16.2012

New low: A Dreft commercial made me cry yesterday afternoon. "You have a child forever, but a baby only for one year." Now that we're officially at 9 months, I realize that we've got only 3 short months, roughly 90 days, of baby Ada Mae left.

The tears are welling again.
Can't blame pregnancy hormones anymore.
Please pass me a tissue.

Truth is: I used to get annoyed. Well, maybe that's not the right word. Puzzled? When I'd read blogs or talk to friends who were already mourning the whole baby phase. Come on, I thought. Toddlers are so much more fun!

But experiencing the rapid growth myself has left me shell-shocked.

It's been so exciting to watch her cross milestone after milestone off her list. But she's reached so many of them early (teeth and cruising/standing, specifically). She's even now going through this independent phase where she doesn't want to be held much.

I think I need another tissue. We're hoping that it will pass, but it's been months since she's slept on my chest, even in her carriers. She screams to get down and explore.

SCREAMS! (Which isn't a great habit -- anyone else experiencing this or know how to curb it?)

Too, I feel incredibly fortunate to have breastfed Ada this long. We're planning to continue as long as it makes sense. But part of me has secretly been waiting forward to weaning to get myself back to just ME for a while. I've told Stephen that the day I stop nursing, I want to sit in bed alone for 24 hours, wearing a high turtleneck, watching movies, and drinking champagne.

The other night, though, Ada stopped eating as much during her dreamfeed. I think she's phasing out yet another one of our sessions -- my favorite, mind you -- dropping it to 5 for the day. It's brought about all these new emotions about our breastfeeding relationship.

This is crazy.

So, I guess this sappy post is just to share that even I, who used to roll my eyes at this sort of thing, am finding the growing up process almost too much to handle. Sunrise, sunset. I am trying my best to enjoy each and every last day with our baby A, but it's hard.

This all doesn't mean any new babies soon. Though, I have been calculating due dates for either 2014 or 2015! In a way, I'm pregnant now. WITH EMOTION. Sigh . . . what I wouldn't give for just one more day. My butt glued to the couch with my tiny, cuddly baby sleeping on me.

But smiles and giggles, attempted steps and words are pretty great, too.

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