Archives For On a Personal Note…

After Jack turned one I decided that photographing him every month might be a little bit of overkill–even I think he looks pretty much the same from one month to the next these days–but I still wanted to take some not-on-my-phone photos at least a couple times a year. I think every three months is a nice middle ground.

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This kid is not as easy to photograph as he used to be! He has no interest in sitting still and when I do catch him looking up I’ve got mere seconds before he makes a grab for this interesting contraption I’m holding up to my face. No time to elicit a smile!

222 (380x570)He’s trying to learn how to get up into the child-size chairs on his own. I’ve got my old laptop set up on the play table and he likes to sit there and pretend that he’s typing–just like mama. On numerous occasions I’ve turned around to catch him standing on the chair and looking out the window. I’m not sure whether to applaud or scold him. I’m leaning toward applause.

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His interests these days include: toilets, anything that can be reimagined as a phone, being carried around, cuddling, sleeping, and, as always, eating. He still takes two naps (knock on wood that that lasts FOREVER because mama likes to write in the mornings), breastfeeds twice a day (first thing in the morning and right before bed, though I think he may give it up completely soon), and says four words: mama, daddy, dog, and hey. As I mentioned recently, he still doesn’t walk, and I’m completely okay with that. We’re going in for his checkup this afternoon and hopefully the pediatrician doesn’t make a big deal out of it either. His legs and hips seem to be working just fine, he just needs to work on his balance I guess.

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I hope this week is treating you well! Thanks, as always, for reading and have a fabulous Wednesday!

Happy Friday, party people! My brain is absolutely fried after a week full of math and science and very little creativity. I can’t wait until the first of the month when I have some money and can just go freaking shopping again. I’ve had my eye on this from Target for over a month but since it’s only available online I decided to get a Target debit card so I could get free shipping, which required a trip to the store to apply in person and then a week long wait for the card to come in and by then I was of money (note: I have money to spend on other things, like food and necessities, but my home decor budget is usually blown early in the month). Well, now I just found the same exact ottoman on Amazon where I could’ve gotten free two-day shipping without all the hassle.

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Seville Classics Rush Cube Storage Ottoman, Mocha
In case you missed it, I finally got around to making a facebook page for my blog! You can “like” it to keep up with blog posts and photos I post to Instagram. What else do bloggers do with their facebook pages? I’m sort of at a loss here, which is why I didn’t create one sooner. But I wanted a way to connect with readers on facebook while keeping my personal account to people I know personally so here ya go. Still working on the perfect cover photo, obvs.

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Living Well on the Cheap on Facebook

Are you familiar with TED? It’s a nonprofit that puts on conferences where speakers from various fields are asked to give “the talk of their lives” in 18 minutes or less. Videos of the talks are put online for the whole world to watch at their leisure. I’ve been hitting the gym every day and watching TED talks using the iPhone app while I work the elliptical. This one was especially inspiring to me.

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TED

That’s all I’ve got for today. I hope you each have a wonderful weekend! I’m hoping to put my coding woes behind me (the navigation bar at the top of my blog is black and I want it to be white, total first world problem) and knock out some projects that have been on my to-do list for weeks. Wish me luck!

Disclaimer: this is not meant as a criticism of anyone else’s parenting, past or present, including and especially the folks who raised us. My background in both education and social work have informed my opinions on certain aspects of child-rearing, but it’s just what I believe in and what works for our family. This is meant to explain my choices, no more, no less.

Jack is almost fifteen months and still has yet to take his first unassisted steps. He can pull up and walk while holding onto the furniture, but when he really wants to get somewhere he drops to his hands and knees and crawls.

He’s been slow to hit all of his milestones–rolling over, sitting up, and crawling. He did all of them in his own time and I refused to rush him. When he was ten months and still not crawling well meaning folks insisted that I try to teach him how to get around. I didn’t know how to explain my opposition eloquently so I joked about not wanting him to be mobile because it would be more work for me. But it was more than just laziness–it was a parenting decision that I wasn’t able to articulate clearly in the middle of a party or the grocery store checkout or whatever. And now that the months are passing by and everyone wants to know whether he’s walking the topic has been reawakened.

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image from here

I believe it’s important for Jack to be allowed to figure things out on his own. It’s a chance to let him learn to take on challenges and self-direct his own learning. These are part of a broader group of skills called executive functioning, something researchers now know is critical to success from elementary school well into adulthood. I won’t be spending a lot of time teaching him shapes, colors, letters, and numbers, either. That’s what kindergarten is for. The preschool years are for learning to focus, use your imagination, think critically, engage in learning, and develop empathy and self-control. None of these skills are anywhere near fully developed by school age, but executive functioning skills at school entry are more predictive of academic (and life!) success than any other measure–including IQ (see links below for more info on this).

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image from here

I’m under no illusions that this one decision to let my kid learn to walk on his own will make or break his ability to self-regulate come kindergarten, but it’s part of a broader approach to parenting that I feel strongly about. Honestly, I’m ready for him to walk. I can’t imagine it’ll be much harder to keep up with him than it already is and it’s getting awfully tiring having to carry him around everywhere. But it’s not about me. Learning to walk may very well be the most monumental accomplishment of these early years and I want him to do it on his own. We’ve got three months left before his crawling is cause for concern and I feel confident that he’ll take his first steps before then. And if he doesn’t we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.

Again, please don’t take offense if you’ve chosen differently with your own kids. This is not at all intended to tell other people what they should or should not do. I do a much better job of expressing myself through writing than when speaking and this is the best way I know how to explain to the world at large that I’m not dooming my son to crawl forever because I’m lazy. Thank you for reading and for always being so supportive and wonderful in general. I love y’all!

Here are some excellent articles about executive functioning if you’re interested in learning more:

Executive Function Skills Predict Children’s Success in Life and in School

Can the Right Kinds of Play Teach Self-Control?

Relations between Preschool Attention Span-Persistence and Age 25 Educational Outcomes

From External Regulation to Self-Regulation: Early Parenting Precursors of Young Children’s Executive Functioning

Executive Functioning as a Predictor of Children’s Mathematics Ability: Inhibition, Switching, and Working Memory

From Neurons to Neighborhoods: The Science of Early Childhood Development

Can y’all believe that yesterday was officially the first day of autumn? I always think of summer as ending distinctly with the month of August despite the sweltering temps that tend to stick around here in south Louisiana. But just like that, the mercury is expected to stay below 90 today and the light seems to have shifted ever so slightly to that softer, dimmer glow reminiscent of the cooler months. Summer is my favorite time of year and I can’t help but take a moment to reminisce about all the good times we had these past few months.

May

May is the height of crawfish season in Louisiana and we were lucky to attend a couple of boils. The photo taken below was at the crawfish boil we had at my sister’s house to celebrate her birthday.

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Also at my sister’s house–goats! Shannon and her husband Josh got Jeffrey and Oliver as babies this summer and they are so cute I could just eat them up. I’m trying to talk them into getting chickens next.

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June

In June we took our first ever formal family photos. My friend Brandi shot them as a favor to us and I love the way they came out–I feel like this period of early parenthood is such a special time in our lives and it was so sweet to document it.

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I have two best friends–I’ve known Lauren since seventh grade and even though she lives in Atlanta now we still talk and visit frequently. Cassie and I met volunteering at a crisis hotline together in college and have been thick as thieves ever since. In June Cassie and her husband Nic welcomed their first child, Olive, five weeks early. It was traumatic and stressful at the time but my goodness is that a beautiful baby. We’re lucky to get to see them often and Olive is doing just great–she even learned how to breastfeed! Sounds like no big deal but if you’ve ever known anyone who tried to breastfeed a preemie you’ll understand why it’s cause for celebration. Cassie is a PhD student and was planning on going right back to school but because of all the complications she took the fall semester off, so she and I are getting to spend lots of time together watching our sweet babies grow!

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Kelly Covington Photography

Only a week after Olive was born we celebrated Jack’s birthday! We had a simple party at our house with friends and family and afterwards everyone contracted a stomach virus–good times! Violent vomiting aside, it was a good time and a perfect way to celebrate a year of parenting under our belts.

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July

In July we drove to Atlanta to visit my aforementioned friend Lauren and her husband Ryan. We had so much fun that I didn’t take a single photo. Lauren and I both prefer to spend our vacations sitting around the house so not much was photoworthy, but it was a great trip and in addition we got to visit our other BFF from high school, Laura, who calls Atlanta home nowadays as well.

Also in July my Pawpaw Gulley said goodbye to Amarillo, Texas after eight years to move back home to Louisiana. His new apartment wasn’t ready until August and my parents’ house has all the bedrooms upstairs so the best solution was for him to stay with us for a few weeks. My sister and I grew up spending entire weekends with him and my late Nanny so to only see him every few years when he lived in the Texas panhandle was hard. It was wonderful to get to spend this time with him and to see him and Jack (his namesake!) really get to know each other.

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Unfortunately, my Pawpaw Hamrick passed away that same month. At 78 he was on the young side for a great-grandfather and we were all so sad to see him go. After a lifetime of overcoming the odds it seemed like he was invincible, but I guess it just wasn’t in the cards for him. His memorial service is something I will remember forever.

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August

In August we made a brief trip Gulf Shores, AL so Nick could play pretend football with his friends (I’m told the proper term for the event is live fantasy football draft). It rained most of the time we were there, but on the evening before we left the sun came out and we brought Jack to the beach to experience the ocean for the first time. We didn’t even have time to change him into proper swimwear–bedtime was fast approaching and it was a now or never decision we made on the way home from dinner. I’m so glad we did! The joy on his face is priceless.

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Also in August I reached a professional milestone I’ve been putting off for an entire year–I finally took the exam to be a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and, happily, I passed! This opens up lots more opportunities for me to work part-time or on a contract basis so that I can still spend most of my time caring for Jack (and maintaining this blog and my etsy shop, two activities which are critical to my mental health!).

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September

In September we took a family vacation to Austin, Texas (for–guess what–FOOTBALL! Are you noticing a theme here? My husband is obsessed). Besides the UT-Ole Miss game that Nick was so excited to attend we spent several days exploring the city, visiting the surprising number of friends we have there, and eating some seriously delicious food. I even got to hit up some area thrift stores. If I’d had more time/money to shop I could have brought home a serious haul.

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And on the second-to-last day of summer we celebrated Nick’s 30th birthday. On a last minute whim I ran out and bought some candy that I hot glued to various tupperware/dishes to form a cake-looking tower–I finished it literally right as he walked in the door! And yesterday we had family over for brunch to officially celebrate. I was asking Nick last night what it’ll be like for us when Jack turns 30 and the idea just blew our minds. I always think of parents on birthdays now that I have a child of my own.

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I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t pretty bummed that summer is officially over. I love the warm weather, long days, swimming, and spending time with friends and family. I’ll be counting down the days until springtime!