Thursday, September 4, 2014

What Parents of High-Needs Babies Wish Other People Understood

I wrote this blog post months and months ago, but never actually posted it. This comes deep from my heart. Since having Camden, Jacob and I have received a lot of negative input and judgment from others over our son. Camden is unique: he isn't the typical easy-going baby. Contrarily, he has high needs and a very persistent personality. This was obvious to us from our very first night home with him. Most people do not understand what it is like to have a baby like Camden. Truthfully, I don't think you can fully understand what it's like to raise a high-needs baby unless you've done so yourself. So take this as an open letter to anyone who does not have personal experience raising a high-needs baby. Please read it and please, please stop judging and condemning those of us who are doing the best we can to raise our high-needs children.

(Keep in mind- I refer to high-needs babies throughout this post but high-needs babies grow into high-needs children, so this rings true for children as well as babies with this personality)

What Parents of High-Needs Babies Wish Other People Understood:

1. We're not lying. There is such a thing as a high-needs baby. More than once I have had someone scoff at me when I mention that my son is high-needs. I've had people tell me there's no such thing as high-needs babies. Take it from those of us who know first hand, there certainly is! High-needs (or "spirited" as they're also called) babies are more intense, sensitive, perceptive, and expressive than easy-going babies/children. They require a little bit more from their parents- more patience, more attention, more time, more explaining, more touch, more interaction, more gentleness, more understanding. High-needs babies have a very distinct personality. They typically do not settle well, they're very sensitive to day-to-day routines and are therefore upset by changes, they enjoy being held/carried/worn a lot, they are more easily bothered and frustrated by things, they have very keen senses, and they do not hesitate to express themselves whether out of happiness or displeasure. A wonderful resource for understanding the unique characteristics of high-needs children is this article by renowned pediatrician Dr. Sears. Believe us, high-needs babies do indeed exist! All adults do not have the same personality and disposition, do they? The same is true for babies; each is unique and some more intense than others.

2. We're not bad parents. A high-needs child is not a reflection of poor parenting. This fact goes hand-in-hand with point #1. Just as I've had people tell me that there's no such thing as a high-needs baby, I've also had people tell me that my baby isn't high-needs, I'm just a bad parent and can't handle my child. Not only is this comment rude and hurtful, it is extremely ignorant. While it is true that children reflect their parenting as they grow older, a high-needs baby is born with this disposition. I knew that Camden was of this nature within his first week of life outside my womb. He was very sensitive to lights, cold wipes, being swaddled, and nursing. He has needed so much more from me since he was born. My parenting did not make him this way. Rather, my parenting has adapted to the needs of my child. That is to say, it is not my parenting that has dictated my child's personality but my child's personality that has dictated my parenting. I know my child well enough to know that if I take him out on errands and we are not home at nap time, he will not simply settle down and fall asleep wherever he is but rather will grow agitated and fussy over the fact that he is not in his usual sleep environment for nap time. While parents of easy-going babies can, and often do, force their children to adapt to their own lifestyle, parents of high-needs babies must learn to build their days around the needs of their child. Which leads me to my third point.

3. Our babies aren't spoiled. High-needs babies are not spoiled. A parent of an easy-going child may look at my previous point and say that I'm simply spoiling my child by adapting to him rather than making him adapt to me. Part of this is due to my commitment to attachment parenting but it is also largely due to the nature of my child. I know that if Camden is out at the grocery store with me and nap time rolls around he is going to get tired, cranky, and quite fussy. He will protest the fact that I have disrupted our usual daily routine. He will not simply lean over and fall asleep in the carriage, as an easy-going baby will do. His high-needs personality means he is more sensitive to his environment and will have a very difficult time settling down outside of the norm that he expects. This does not mean he is spoiled. It means that he is perceptive and sensitive and thrives within the boundaries of an expected routine. Rather than force my child to be frustrated and uncomfortable, I have decided that it is best for both of us to work around his needs. Similarly, I know that Camden enjoys being held, worn and carried. He thrives in that closeness. Some would say that I am spoiling my child by holding him so much. However, I believe that I am meeting my child's need for closeness while building a trusting bond between us. I don't think it's possible to spoil a baby by holding him too much! Especially not my high-needs baby.

4. We aren't being antisocial. Any outing, especially far from home, is more tricky with a high-needs baby. As you may have gathered from above, outings must be planned around the needs and expectations of a high-needs baby. Just because your baby or your friend's baby can make a 12-hour car ride just fine does not mean every baby is the same way. For instance, Camden hates being in his carseat and stopped sleeping in the car at 10 months old (now at nearly 18 months old he will occasionally fall asleep in the car if he is tired enough). It doesn't matter if we're in the car for 10 minutes or 2 hours, Camden does not like it and is not afraid to express his displeasure. This makes any trip tricky to plan. Everyone knows that going somewhere with a baby or child requires more planning to begin with, right? Imagine that plus a little bit more and you have an outing with a high-needs child. I'm not saying it's impossible to go anywhere or do anything with a high-needs baby. What I'm saying is that it requires much more planning and flexibility, especially during the early years. Quite frankly, any long trip with Camden is much more frustration and work than it is worth. I would rather postpone long trips until Camden is older than subject him to the inevitable displeasure such a trip will mean for him. Traveling and high-needs babies simply do not mix well. I can say that outings have become a little easier as Camden has aged. However, he still hates long car rides and doesn't do well having his daily routine disrupted.

5. Our babies aren't negative. High-needs babies are not "difficult" or "bad". Please, do not call our high-needs children difficult or bad. Sure, they can be challenging as they require so much more. But "difficult" and "bad" are very negative words to attach to such a wonderfully rare personality. In my opinion, calling my high-needs baby difficult is just as rude as if I were to call your easy-going baby boring. I do not view Camden's needs as something negative. Rather, I see them as a part of what makes him the amazing boy he is. As such, I wouldn't change his high-needs personality for the world! Which leads me to my final point.

6. We wouldn't change our babies. Being high-needs is not a bad thing. It really isn't. You might be reading this, whether you have children or not, and thinking "gosh, this high-needs stuff sounds like a real pain!" There are days that are more challenging than others, but that's a fact of life when you're a parent. Truth is, for every bit of "more" that you pour into a high-needs child, you get just as much in return. Camden has been ahead of the curve in every major milestone (minus cutting teeth, but that has nothing to do with his own abilities). He started rolling over at two months old, was starting to army crawl by five months, standing and cruising by 9 months, and walking by 10 months. This is not unusual for high-needs babies! They often develop and master skills faster. Their personalities make them more in-tune to their surroundings. Their natural perception leads to many questions which in turn leads to more learning. High-needs children also empathize better with others, due to their sensitive nature. (I think this world could use more empathy, don't you?). So while it is true that a high-needs baby or child is more challenging, they are exponentially worth every ounce of "more" we can give them.

Hopefully this post has given you some insight into life with a high-needs baby or child!

(Please note that this isn't meant to be an attack on parents with easy-going babies. We're all doing the best we can raising our children! This post is simply meant to help those without high-needs babies to understand what life with a high-needs baby is like.)

This is an excellent resource for more information about high-needs babies:
Dr. Sears | High Needs Baby

Friday, February 7, 2014

9 & 10 month favorites

9 & 10 month favorites

1. Leapfrog My Discovery House. This has been one of Camden's favorite toys to play with for some time now! His favorite part is the refrigerator door that opens and closes (in fact, this is the toy that I referred to in this post). When it's on the "opposites" setting it says "open" and "closed" accordingly when he moves the fridge door. It's helped him recognize those words when we repeat them as he opens and closes other things. This is a really fun toy for curious minds and busy hands! 

2. The First Years Take & Toss Cup. Camden has always been great at taking a bottle but it took a little more effort to find a sippy cup that he liked. One of my best friends sent us a pack of these for Christmas and Camden loved them! So much so that they've become our go-to sippy cup. They do leak and the cover pops off on occasion when Cam inevitably throws it on the floor when he's done sipping off it, haha. But overall they're great cups at a great price. They ended being "gateway" cups for us (for lack of a better way to describe them)- they were the first sippy he'd really take but since then he has taken to a few others as well.

3. Fisher Price Laugh and Learn Crawl Around Car. This toy was a Christmas gift from one of Camden's Uncles/Aunts, and boy does he love it! There's so much to do with this car! There are different settings, shapes, lights, music, and so much more. Camden loves changing the "radio" and opening and closing the door (over and over again!). He also enjoys standing inside the car, walking forward, and ramming into other toys with it, hahaha! He's such a boy. This is definitely one of his favorite toys right now.

4. Playskool Poppin Park Elefun Popper. Another favorite toy, for sure! This was a Christmas gift from Grammy and Grampy. Camden wasn't too sure about it at first but he's taken to it lately. He loves pressing the button to turn it on then standing up and pushing it around while he walks. I feel like I spend most of our playtime chasing down the balls around the living room at least Camden enjoys the entertainment! 

5. V-Tech Musical Bubbles Octopus. Camden is a total water baby. He looooves bath time (or as we call it, splish splash time!). He has tons of rubber duckies and other various bath toys but this is the favorite. He loves trying to catch the bubbles while they float through the air! We like that it's completely waterproof because it has been pulled right off the side of the tub more than once. I wish the music was a little louder but overall we love this toy. 

6. Jake and the Neverland Pirates Play-a-Sound Book. We've been reading Camden books since he was in my belly so it's no surprise that he still loves listening to them. These days he's completely captivated by this book! Every time he grabs it we have to read it at least 2-3 times through. He likes turning the pages and helping me press the buttons to play the sound. I don't know if it's just because he loves Jake and the Neverland Pirates, or because he likes the sounds, or his love for being read to, but this book always puts a smile on his cute little face! 

7. Mickey Mouse Floor Puzzle (I couldn't find a link to the exact one Camden has but that one is similar). This was a Christmas gift from another Uncle and it was a favorite from the minute he opened it! It's made out of a thick foam so obviously Camden loves to chew on it. He doesn't know how to put puzzles together yet but he has a lot of fun tearing it apart after someone puts it together for him. He'll crawl around holding onto a piece, which is exactly what he did all of Christmas morning. 

8. Munchkin Snack Catchers. Best snack cups ever! They keep his little finger foods contained but still allow him to get some without our help. These were another item that Camden didn't like at first but now that he has the hang of it they're a favorite. We mostly use them when we're out running errands so that he has a snack to occupy him without spilling it everywhere. Although he has learned that if he sticks a few fingers inside the lid and flips it upside down he can spill the snacks out. Yeah, he's a clever one. Stinker. But these cups are great nonetheless! 

9. Jake and the Neverland Pirates "Yo Ho Matey" CD & 10. Mickey Mouse Clubhouse CD. Camden loves.loves.loves music!! Basically any music. He'll sing along and dance whenever music comes on. Whether it's a TV show theme song or the country radio station, he loves listening to music. These two CDs in particular are favorites, though! We bought the Mickey Mouse CD before we took our road trip to PA back in October; the Jake CD was another Christmas gift from an Uncle. We keep these in the car and play them pretty much all the time (yes, I know all the songs by heart and frequently catch myself singing or humming them. Mom life, haha). They're a lifesaver when Camden has a I-do-not-want-to-be-in-my-carseat-anymore meltdown, which happens all too often these days now that he's mobile. 

As always, this list could go on and on and on... But these are a few items that get used all the time around here! Camden is at such a fun, playful age now. He's learning and discovering new things everyday! It's incredibly neat to watch him develop. We spend a lot of time crawling around the floor playing together these days. I love it! He has such a great attention span for a baby. He'll play with one toy for awhile before going after something else. He also enjoys getting his sticky fingers on anything that isn't one of his toys, so I could really include cell phones, glasses, Ada's DS case, Unkie Fwog's lunchbox, empty water bottles, hand towels, and basically anything else within his reach on this list ;] He's into everything these days! Typical kid, right? It's fun though! He keeps me on my toes. And I wouldn't have it any other way! 

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Perspective

Yesterday morning I was eating my usual protein waffle for breakfast while Camden ate played with his scrambled egg and cheese. He usually loves eggs and cheese but he was disinterested in eating even a single bite of it. After a few minutes he began to fuss so I scooped up the egg, put it back in his bowl, put the cover on it, and took Camden out of his highchair. I told him that he could play for a few minutes while I finished my food, placing him on the floor beside me and setting his bowl down on the table next to my plate. No sooner did his little body touch the floor than he stood up and reached for his bowl. I thought to myself, "of course, now that I put it away he wants it" as he managed to pull it off the tabletop. The bowl fell to the ground and Camden anxiously picked it up. He tried to remove the cover, unsuccessfully, so I pulled it off for him, certain that the egg was heading straight for the floor. Much to my surprise, Camden grabbed a piece of his food and quickly stuck it in his mouth. He then proceeded to snatch the cover out of my hand and place it back atop the bowl. I gave him a smile and said "closed". He then smiled in return, pulled the cover off, looked at me as I said "open", and grabbed another bite of his egg. At this point I caught on to what he was doing. Instead of putting him back in his highchair and attempting to feed him that way again, I joined him on the floor and continued holding his bowl. The sequence continued- take cover off bowl, "open", grab bite of food, eat, put cover on bowl, "closed". We sat on the floor together repeating this pattern until his bowl was nearly empty.

As I watched my precious boy cover and uncover his bowl I recalled a bit of parenting advice that I heard long before I was even pregnant with Camden. The advice was simple- "get behind the eyes of your child". I couldn't tell you exactly when or where I heard it, only that it resonated with me and was brought to my remembrance during this seemingly unrelated event yesterday morning. You see, my initial reaction to Camden wanting his food only after it was cleaned up and placed (supposedly) out of his reach was aggravation. "Yeah yeah, I had you sitting in your highchair with the food right in front of you and you wanted nothing to do with it. Now that I've cleaned it up and gone back to eating my own breakfast you're suddenly interested in eating your food. That figures." I'm not proud to admit that, but it is what it is- I'm far from perfect and my patience runs low at times. It wasn't until I got down on Camden's level (literally in this situation) and tried to see the situation from his perspective that I understood what was going on. My boy is high-needs. He needs a lot of attention, touch, play, nurturing, basically a little bit more of everything. In this situation, he was trying to tell me that he needed my full attention and that he wanted me to help him work on a fine motor skill he's been perfecting recently. (He's taken to opening and closing a door on one specific toy he loves. The toy says "open" and "closed" accordingly, hence my choice of words instead of "cover" and "uncover". He doesn't tend to spend very long playing with one toy at a time but this one is a different story. Whenever he plays with this toy I can see him concentrate on opening and closing the little door, grasping it gently with his pincers, and moving it slowly back and forth. I know it probably doesn't sound like much but I'm certain it's a big deal to him. He'll play with it for awhile, opening and closing the door repeatedly.) That morning with his bowl and cover I could tell (or should I say, my mommy-intuition could sense) that something greater than a battle of wills over eating breakfast was going on. Camden watched me cover his bowl and must've thought it looked like a good way to practice his new skill. Had I not paused and decided to get behind the eyes of my child, I would have missed this excellent opportunity to foster his learning.

I've been replaying this event in my head since it happened. If I simply told someone else this story it probably wouldn't sound like anything special. "Okay, cool, you sat on the floor while your kid played with his bowl, cover, and food. Great story." Right? But to me it was so much more. As I've pondered this event and thought of the importance of seeing the world through Camden's eyes, the Lord brought a Scripture verse to my heart:

"The LORD is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love." Psalm 145:8

Isn't that a beautiful picture of our Heavenly Father? Gracious, compassionate, patient and loving. Essentially, God is parenthood perfected; He is the perfect Father. As a parent, I strive to demonstrate these qualities towards my son. I want to be gracious, compassionate, patient, and loving towards Camden. I want to be conformed into the image of my perfect Heavenly Father in order to demonstrate Him to Camden. I want to reflect my God in such a way that Camden will get just a small glimpse of how perfect his Heavenly Father is. Does that make sense? If I am not gracious, compassionate, patient, and loving, how will Camden understand that God is all of these things perfected? I do not want to cloud his perception of God because I, as his mother, do not demonstrate these qualities towards my son. I believe that it is my duty to try to be the best mother I can be, by the grace of God. And I think a vital element in doing so is taking the time to change my perspective by getting behind Camden's eyes. Our perception shapes our reaction. That is to say, how we view any given situation determines how we respond to it. If I view a situation as threatening I am going to respond in a way that will protect me (and Camden, if he is with me).

Apply this to parenting: if I had viewed our breakfast situation as a mere annoyance and refused to let Camden have his bowl back, that learning opportunity would have been squelched and Camden most likely would have ended up very frustrated. Instead, by changing my perspective I was able to recognize the potential in the situation and use it in such a way as to help Camden hone his skill, all while bonding with him and giving him another chance to eat his food. Wouldn't you agree that a change in perspective brought a much better outcome in that situation? Only after I checked my frustration (slow to anger) was I able to happily engage in a learning event in Camden's life.

How often must God do that for us? We see the world very differently than God does, obviously. We are fallen, sinful, vastly imperfect human beings. However, because God is so gracious, compassionate, patient, and loving, He takes the time to look into our hearts and minds. Instead of striking us down whenever our perspective does not match His (which, lets face it, would be most of the time), He lovingly guides us. God, in His perfection, understands exactly what we are going through. He knows how we think, feel and act. He knows what it's like to be human, as He created humanity and allowed His Son to live among us as a human. God knows our struggles. He knows our weaknesses. He knows that our perspective is not perfect, as His is. Yet, He does not hold that against us. Rather, as our perfect Father, He gets behind our eyes and opens them to His truth. He fathers us. And He does so perfectly.

As earthly parents our perspective is more complete than that of our children. We see and understand things that they do not or cannot. Oftentimes we see the entire picture when they see only one frame. We can see the outcome of a situation that they do not grasp. We know that touching a hot burner will lead to a painful burn whereas our children might be overcome with curiosity and the desire to explore the unknown without knowledge of the potential harm. That's where our job of changing perspective comes in. We need to recognize how our kids see something and guide their perception while teaching and protecting them. Seeing the world through the eyes of a child is not only challenging but also enlightening. They have a lot to teach us, as we attempt to teach them. Seeing the world through their eyes will bring about a whole new facet of understanding our children as individuals. When we see things as they see them we are better equipped to understand and respond to their needs. It's a win-win situation, really. But in order to do so successfully we need to follow God's example. Don't berate the inevitable childhood mistakes inappropriately (show grace). Attempt to understand how your child thinks/feels about a situation (be compassionate). Take the time to change your perspective without losing your temper (be patient). And most importantly, do all things out of love (be a loving parent). If we take the time to model God's example to our children not only will they grow and thrive but so will we!

I so desperately want to mirror God's perfect example of grace, compassion, patience, and love to Camden! As a sinful human my imitation will be flawed at best. Yet, by the grace of God, I am given the privilege to try, everyday, to be the best mother that I can be. I know this is a heavy topic and much easier said (or blogged about) than done. I know that it's extremely challenging to pause and get behind the eyes of your child before reacting. I know. Thank God that He continues to be gracious, compassionate, patient, and loving towards us as we strive to be these things towards our children! With His help, may we change our perspective and be the very best parents possible!

Friday, January 3, 2014

Hello, 2014!

I'm not into New Year's resolutions. I find that it's so easy to get all sorts of excited about a new year and end up being super ambitious by setting unrealistic expectations. And lets be honest, most of these "resolutions" never last past January or maybe February. Usually I pass on the "new year new me" idealized list making altogether. This year I decided to prayerfully chose a word that I want to live up to in 2014. I know quite a few people do this and I believe it will be a more realistic way to challenge myself throughout the year. Rather than choosing a few short-term goals, labeling them "resolutions" and forgetting them by the time the first month of year has elapsed, I've resolved to live up to my word. I'm going to shape my year around this word. I'll come back to it throughout the year and remind myself what I want out of 2014. The word I've chosen for my 2014 is "flourish". According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary the definition of flourish is as follows...

Flourish
: to grow well : to be healthy
: to be very successful : to do very well
: to hold up and show (something) in an excited or proud way

I want to flourish in 2014!! I want to grow- as a wife, mother, and woman of God. I want to be healthy- continue eating right and exercising. I want to be successful/do well in every aspect of my life. I want to excel as a wife and mother. I want to love and show that love more than ever to my husband and son! I want to make sure that they know, through my words and actions, how very much I care about them. I want to be proud of my life- no comparisons, no negativity, no being my own biggest critic. I want to flourish in every way possible. For me, this includes slowing down, lowering some of my expectations, and forcing myself to always look for the good. I'm typically an optimist to begin with but in some areas (especially when it comes to myself) I can set my standards way too high. In those cases, I need to give myself (and others) a break and let some things slide. I want to seek out to good in every situation rather than focus on the bad. I know that 2014 is going to bring a lot of changes for my little family. And along with those changes with come new challenges and stressors. I want to be the type of woman who takes those things in stride and trusts God through it all.

I want to flourish. To grow. To be good, better than I was in 2013. I want to shape my life in such a way that I can confidently proclaim that I am proud of who I am and what I've done, and reflect that praise back to my ever-faithful God. 2014 will be my year, my family's year, to flourish.

2013 in pictures

As I sit here sipping a cup of coffee while Jacob rocks Camden for a nap I'm overwhelmed with thankfulness for everything that 2013 brought us. I know I haven't even blogged about Christmas day yet, or shared my plethora of Camden-attempting-to-open-gifts-while-chewing-on-wrapping-paper pictures (or even downloaded them from my camera to my computer yet, oops). However, I want to take a few minutes to write a post recapping 2013. I want to seize this reminiscent, oh so happy, quiet moment to share from my heart.

To say that 2013 was the best year of my life would not be an overstatement. Although I've had so many wonderful experiences leading up to last year (college, engagement, my wedding, even our positive pregnancy test and gender reveal), I can wholeheartedly say that 2013 was the most incredible year. Sure, it was very challenging and life-altering. More than anything, it was miraculous, joyful, indescribably full of love. I think this can only truly be understood by other mommas. There is just something about becoming a mother. Something so deeply... special. It's hard to explain. If you're a mom, you know what I'm talking about. Falling in love with your own little one is an experience that is so incredibly beautiful. It's exhausting, difficult, sometimes tearful. Yet, it is a powerful life change. It is... motherhood. This new phase in my life that I have joyfully anticipated since I was a little girl is even better than I imagined. It has changed me. I'm not just Alayna anymore; I'm Camden's momma. And I am extremely thankful for this new role and how it has changed my life! With that being said, I want to share a few of my favorite pictures from this year. A little photo recap, if you will.

(I'm going to start with February since nothing all that exciting happened in January. Camden continued to grow in my belly while I anxiously counted down to his due date!)

February
I received the most miraculous answer to my prayers in February. Jacob was released early from his deployment and came home to be on February 28th. He wasn't scheduled to come home until sometime late-March, which would have meant him missing Camden's birth and the first few weeks of his life. I continuously prayed that God would work a miracle and allow Jake to come home before Camden was born. So many people told me it was impossible and wouldn't happen. But, at the risk of sounding cheesy, all things are possible with God! He granted us the desire of our hearts and sent Jacob home 17 days before Camden was born! 



March 
I went into labor on Friday, March 15th (the day I felt all along would be the day I had Camden! And my parent's 28th anniversary) and had Camden at 1:18am on Saturday, March 16th. My birthing experience was amazing. Having Jacob there gave me so much peace and strength. He was an incredible birthing partner through it all. I also had the support of my parents who spent their entire anniversary in the hospital with me, and my wonderful, smart, supportive and sweet doula, Stefanie. I was able to have the natural birth that I so intensely desired. And above it all, Camden was born perfectly healthy! I can't say enough what an amazing experience his natural birth was for me. 
We also celebrated our first holiday as a family in March- Easter! We enjoyed Sunday morning service at my Dad's church, had a quiet afternoon, and took a walk with my Mom. It was a great day.



April
We continued to adjust to life as a family of three in April while watching Camden grow by leaps and bounds! We soaked up every minute of baby snuggles and saw Camden's newborn face disappear right before our eyes.


May
I celebrated my first Mother's Day with my little guy! I was showered with love and some special gifts and completely enjoyed every minute of it! We also took Camden down to our alma mater, Valley Forge Christian College, for the first time! We visited with friends and took him to graduation, where he attracted plenty of attention and compliments! ;]






June
We kicked off a busy summer in June! We took a trip to New York for a wedding and stopped at the Baseball Hall of Fame on our way home. We celebrated Jacob's first Father's Day! I didn't get many pictures of him and Camden together that day (fail!) but we had a lot of funny spoiling Jake and making him feel special. Then, just a couple weeks later, we celebrated Jacob's 26th birthday and spoiled him some more! We also spent lots of time outside soaking up the warmer weather. It was a very fun, eventful month! 




July
We had another fun-filled month in July, including celebrating Independence Day (with Camden in the cutest overall EVER!), and taking Camden to the beach and the aquarium for the first time! We had lots of little adventures as a family and discovered Camden's love for being outdoors!





August
We took a few more trips to the beach in August. Camden loved the sound of the waves and the wet squishy sand. We also went apple picking with him for the first time! Mostly, August was full of days outside splashing in his baby pool, swinging on the front porch, and going for lots of walks! Another great month!





September 
We went on a few fall adventures and introduced Camden to the pumpkin patch! We also celebrated his half birthday by watching the Bruins and giving him baby oat cereal for the first time (he hated it, haha). September was a pretty low-key month. Lots more family time and chilly fall night snuggles!



October
We took Camden on his second trip to VFCC in October to attend Homecoming! He did awful with the car ride but he was great with all the Homecoming events. We had a lot of fun showing him off to faculty and friends. October was also marked by a few late nights watching the Red Sox and finally seeing them win the World Series! Camden wasn't all that interested but at lest we can tell him they won it all the year he was born ;] We also started to see Camden's personality begin to emerge much more this month. From his various sounds to his funny faces, Camden became a total ham!





November
We kicked off November with a belated Halloween party where Camden totally rocked his Batman baby costume ;] He had tons of fun showing off and being friendly. Then, of course, we had a wonderful time celebrating Camden's first Thanksgiving!!




December
Our December was full of Christmas cheer and festive fun! We had a great time buying gifts for family and friends, picking out a Christmas tree, decorating, baking tons of cookies, and having plenty of special family time. It was idyllic. Camden loved watching the blinking lights of the Christmas tree. He was adorable trying to open gifts and taste-testing all the wrapping paper. We had a perfect Christmas as a family! New Years was uneventful, seeing as Camden went to sleep well before midnight and we missed the ball drop, haha. But overall our December was excellent!


It's so hard to pick just a few favorite pictures from each month! There were SO MANY picture-perfect moments this year. Watching Camden grow and develop has been amazing. It's bittersweet to see how big he is now compared to his newborn pictures. I still can't believe that he'll be one in a couple months! Time is flying by. I'm incredibly thankful that 2013 brought us such indescribable joy and love! Camden is the biggest blessing I have ever received! I'm excited for all that 2014 has in store for us, including a super fun first birthday party for my little guy! Happy New Year, friends! :D

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Christmas pictures

Christmas this year was truly magical! Like I said in my Thanksgiving post, it's so very fun to share the holidays with Camden! Even though he doesn't know what the big deal is, I know he can sense the excitement and he soaks up all the attention. It makes me so excited to see how much he loves the holidays as he gets older and can understand what's going on! It's just going to be the best.

This year, we had the privilege of getting family pictures taken as a Christmas gift from one of my best friends! We also had a professional photo shoot of just Camden with a different photographer. Anyone who knows me knows that I loooove pictures!! I take a lot of them. Pictures are the perfect way to capture moments to cherish forever. As you can imagine, I was thrilled to get all these pictures taken! They came out so beautiful, I just have to share some of them here.






(Family pictures by Chris of Duffro Photography)




















(Camden pictures by Jenn of Jenn's Photo)

I love.love.love how all of these pictures turned out!! Camden was surprisingly well-behaved for all the photos. He did great. I'm beyond happy to have these beautiful pictures to commemorate Camden's first Christmas! :D  I'll try to write up a blog soon about Christmas day with the little guy! I have lots of pictures of him trying to eat all the wrapping paper, haha. I hope you all had an absolutely wonderful Christmas!