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Honestly, I don’t love the fair.

I don’t think I went to state fairs much growing up – we lived in the “city” and they’re usually in the “country”. I grew up going to the summer festival in my downtown. Really fun, but really different. In college I went to a county fair. Yep, I did.

Since living in Minnesota I’ve been to the state fair three times. Why do I suddenly attend the fair? It’s a little different here because the fair is located right in St. Paul – in the “city”. So it doesn’t take much planning or extra work to attend. This also makes it really really really busy.

Busy. That is one of the reasons I don’t really like the fair. It is SO unbelievably FULL of PEOPLE. Oh my gosh. My first two times I attended on the weekend – obviously more people

Expensive. You have to pay to get into the fair and then pay to do just about anything once you’re inside. One of the big draws is food. Specifically food on a stick. Weird, right? I’m cheap frugal.. so expensive fair food is not really my thing.

There are many vendors selling all kinds of things. From trinkets to wine to soap to trucks and snow plows. Nothing I really need. Especially when it cost 25x more than it would not at the fair.

There is music at the fair. But I don’t really care. There are big buildings full of animals… I guess that’s pretty ok.

This year I thought Olive might enjoy going to the fair. We didn’t take her last year – I wasn’t interested in lugging baby and baby gear through seas of people. This year I thought she would probably be a bit more interested, we probably carry around fewer baby care items, and I thought going during the week would be a little less… stressful and overwhelming. For both of us.

Our friends Amber and Ethan came along. We met at a park and ride lot in Roseville and took a bus. For free. Instead of paying something like $15 closer to the fair. The bus ride was maybe 10 minutes long. I’m not really sure why would park closer and pay that much.

We wandered around. Ate some food. Had a malt (sugar – oh no!). Found some dogs – looked at them, pet them, got licked by them. Went potty a million times. Drank some water. And took the bus back to our cars when Ethan and Olive started acting a little too sleepy. We’re deathly afraid of car naps.

Here are some highlights of our morning:

Riding a big bus:

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Being cool (actually it was very hot):

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Olive and some plastic bottles. I guess only 25% of plastic bottles get recycled in Minnesota.  Come on folks…

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Sampling some kohlrabi soup, after having had some local popcorn, and some local drinkable yogurt:

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Checking out the dogs.  Specifically this one putting a child.

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After our third stop for potty we stumbled upon the “Lactation Station” and stopped inside for some “me me”:

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We waited in this line in the dairy building.  Fresh dairy.  From Minnesota farmers.  With pride!  You pay first – so I ordered a chocolate malt (sugar – oops!) and a blueberry yogurt.  Then you go up to the next counter where you get your things.  They handed me a low fat Land o Lakes blueberry yogurt.  Full of weird things included High Fructose Corn Syrup.  Local?  Fresh?  With pride?  I was bothered.

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Some butter ladies:

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Oh hi butter girl.

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Today marks the start of World Breastfeeding Week. I didn’t know much about breastfeeding until after I had Olive. I knew right away that I wanted to breastfeed her but even up until her birth I knew very little about why it’s so much better. To be honest I still probably have only scratched the surface. But in celebration of this wonderful week I wanted to share some reasons why I breastfeed Olive and why we’re still going strong.

I know some people can’t. I know some people think they can’t. Others lack support. Others are terribly miseducated. And others don’t just because they don’t want to. I’m not judging you or your choices but I do, wholeheartedly, believe that breastfeeding is, in fact, the best choice for mother and baby.

1. Breastfeeding is natural, the way it’s meant to be. Did you know that breast milk contains many many things that formula does not? Formula continues to try to match the benefits of breastmilk and their advertising makes it seem like its exactly the same but the truth is.. it’s not. Did you know that breastmilk grows along with baby to deliver exactly what baby needs at any given time? It’s amazing.

2. Breastfeeding is free. Maybe this seems silly to you but it’s true. As a work from home mom I don’t work that often. We live on a relatively strict budget. Canisters of formula are certainly not doable for us. It’s mind boggling to me how much is spent on formula. It’s also mind boggling to me that due to so much miseducation and completely absurd and overpowering advertising and coercion from formula companies many low income women formula feed. But just so I leave little to be argued there can be costs associated with breastfeeding – breast pads for the leaky mom, nursing bras, tanks, and/or shirts, a pump if you’re working or need one (I was luckily to be gifted a hand me down), bottles, breast milk storage bags, etc. But the cost of those things pails in comparison to formula. And formula needs bottles anyway.. many more than breastfeeding.

3. Breastfeeding allows for so much closeness between mom and baby. know some people can’t. I know some people think they can’t. Others lack support. Others are terribly miseducated. And others don’t just because they don’t want to. I’m not judging you or your choices. Do you have a wiggly baby? A little one who refuses to cuddle or lay down with you? Chances are if that’s the case and you breastfeed you can still enjoy relaxing cose time with your little one. It’s truly an amazing feeling.

4. Breastfeeding protects a baby from harmful things such as viruses and bacteria. Of course breastfed babies still get sick but they certainly get sick less often than formula fed babies. Olive has actually not really been sick yet. She’s had a night or two with a runny nose or minor fever but not a single full blow cold. I pass on my immunity to various things to her through my breast milk. It is recommended that babies who do not receive vaccinations be breastfed until at least the age of two. Why? Because breast milk protects them from so many things. Another reason that it so deeply saddens me to see low income mothers not breastfeeding as well as so many mothers in third world countries where diseases run rampant. Unfortunately things like witchcraft and absurd advertising strategies from companies like Nestle have screwed up the perception of breastfeeding in many places.

5. Breastfeeding is recommended until AT LEAST the age of two. The World Health Organization recommends exclusive breastfeeding until at least 6 months of age and breastfeeding along with eating healthy foods until at least the age of two. The American Academy of Pediatrics also recommends “extended” breastfeeding. So why do people think its so strange to breastfeed an “older” child. Why do we even call it “extended” breastfeeding?

6. Breast milk is all natural. You can probably call it local, too. Maybe even stretch it and call it organic? I suppose it depends on what mom consumes, but still, my point is that it is natural. Have you peeked at formula ingredients lately? You know what’s in there? Corn syrup, for one. I avoid that. I don’t let Olive eat that. Why would I have possibly let her consume that as a baby? In my opinion there is not a single positive thing to be said about corn syrup. Except that, I suppose, it’s an avenue for our country to use the extreme surplus of corn that we seem to have. It’s true, there are organic and more natural formulas out there, but that further complicates #2 from above.

7. Long term health benefits for baby. Breastfeeding has been proven to contribue to a lifetime of good health. Having been breastfed as a baby correlates directly to a lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol, lower rates of obesity, and lower rates of type-2 diabetes in adulthood. It also seems that people who were breastfed have a higher IQ than those who were not.

8. Convenience. Save for the initial difficultly some women may face or simply getting use to it when starting to breastfeed your first baby, breastfeeding is pretty darn easy. No need to heat a bottle in the middle of the night, no need to pack bottles, and water, and formula for trips away from home or long vacations. Simply bring yourself and you’re set.

9. Peace of mind. Like most little ones Olive goes through ups and downs when it comes to food consumption. She is currently going through a phase of wanting to be fed by me (which is odd because we’ve never really spoon fed her… ever). That isn’t always easy or quite possible with what I’ve prepared for a meal. Or sometimes she doesn’t seem to like or be interested in anything I offer. Or I forgot to pack snacks for our day away from home. None of that matters because I know she is getting exactly what she needs via breast milk. I don’t need to be concerned about how much protein is on her plate, if she ate her vegetables, etc. Of course I like to see her eat a well rounded meal but I don’t have to be stressed about it. And I don’t have to be pushy or anxious about her food.. which contribues to a much better food relationship for her.

10. Breastfeeding is comforting. A fussy baby, a sick baby, a tired baby, a teething baby, an overstimulated baby… can all find comfort in breastfeeding. The close contact with mom, smelling her, touching her skin, feeling her warmth, is often exactly what a baby needs. Baby may fight it, it may not always be the answer, but often it is. In the very first hours of life baby’s body learns so much from mom’s during their first breastfeeding experiences. Baby’s body learns to regulated it’s temperature and breathing and begins building a close and trusting relationship with mom. It truly is beautiful.

I think I’ll stop there.. that’s 10 things. 10 reasons that I breastfeed Olive and plan to continue until she is done.

Again, I don’t mean to offend… I simply want to celebrate World Breastfeeding Week and possibly share some information with you that maybe you didn’t already know. I think it’s perfectly capable for people to turn out just fine without breastfeeding – in fact I wasn’t breastfed.

If you’re a new mom or a mom to be do your research and find some support. Breastfeeding came easily to me but that isn’t the case for everyone. Seek out help if you need it and don’t be afraid. Find the right sources. Some doctors will push formula. It’s amazing and so discouraging but true. Others will make you feel like you’re failing because your baby is gaining weight slowly or your baby is taking a long time to learn to latch. Push through it – your body was meant to breastfeed.

If you’re already a mom and you feel like you failed in the past or didn’t have the right information or didn’t care to breastfeed.. don’t look back on the past and get discouraged. Breastfeed your next child. Done having children? Think about what you can do for your children today that will help them excel as amazing people today and tomorrow. And support other women in their choice to breastfeed.

Still don’t want to breastfeed? That’s okay, too.

I’ll leave you with a photo of Olive appearing to latch on to my leg.

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Why don’t you link up your story?  And go read some more!  :)

world breastfeeding week blog round-up

Olive enjoyed her first garden experience a couple of days ago. Last year she was with me in our ring sling and in her rocker while I packed CSA shares for our local urban CSA and witnessed our own backyard garden grow and erupt in a volcano of tomatoes – but she wasn’t really actively involved in either of those things. Save for sucking on a carrot or a fresh green at the CSA.

We’ve been blessed with unseasonably amazing weather in Minnesota lately (I think it’s a ploy by the state to try to keep us here. Not working, but it’s nice.) so it’s been time to get to work on the yard and garden. I can’t commit too much time to either of these things as we have a lot of work to do inside our house before the county does some lead abatement and when they’re done we have to get to work on the outside of the house. It’s a deal… they do some stuff if we do some stuff. So I’m trying to be speedy with the garden and multitask as usual (which probably makes me mess up more or do things slower in the long run.. but I have some serious multitasking tendencies that I just can’t shake).

Last year I spread some compost as well as a billion unused tomatoes over the garden plot and covered it with the leaves and grass clippings from the last time I mowed the lawn after tilling. This year I’m working a little at a time to till the leaves and break up the soil. My dad brought his rototiller up for us to use but I’ve heard numerous times that they kill the worms and good stuff. So I’m doing it by hand which really isn’t all too terrible (though a little more challenging with a baby strapped to my back).

I got about a row into tilling when Olive decided to jump in to help. :)

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As always she just jumped right in. Olive doesn’t seem to show much hesitation for things that I would expect her to. She’s usually pretty interested in new people and new food. She was all about a mechanical noise making Elmo doll at the store the other day – her first experience with a toy of that kind. And in the garden she was like “hey dirt!!!” when I would have anticipated a little reservation. And seriously.. the Elmo toy? LOVED it – no hesitation, no fear.

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At about this time I said “ummmm maybe you should take a bath.”

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And another vintage dress with legwarmers followed that. :)

Olive is one.

What can I say about the past year and who she is now? Wow… what a big topic. Where do I start?

More recently Olive has begun walking completely independently and rarely crawls.
She is constantly signing “please”, which is pretty cool.
Her current signs are: milk, please, all done, more, water, eat, fan, book. I need to keep working on mom mom, dad dad, and a few foods. And some emotions like happy, mad, and tired.
Olive combines signs to make two word sentences such as “book please”.
Olive can blow kisses.
Every day there seems to be less and less food on the floor during meals. And I think she’s getting better at trying to hand us her dishes when she’s done.
When she wants to be Olive is pretty good at using a utensil at meals. Sometimes she gives up and picks up her plate to eat directly off of it.
Olive really likes to give kisses. :)
She has not had any more teeth come in during the last couple of months but nearly every day that we go somewhere someone comments on how she has SO many teeth. So I guess since about 10 months she’s had SO many teeth. Who knew?! Is 8 a lot?!
Speaking of comments while we’re out – just yesterday we got stopped by a few people at the co-op who wanted to tell us how cute Olive is. Olive managed to get a piece of string cheese out of the girl at the deli counter and she told us that Olive seems so smart and polite. And the guy at the checkout kept going on about how we must have great genes, she’s so smart, we must actually pay attention to and play with her. So I think we’re doing pretty well. :)
Olive has shown some signs of imaginary play! The other day she started picking imaginary things off of Tyler’s head and feeding them to me. Not sure what she was going for with that but it was cute and she was excited. We don’t watch gorillas cleaning each other.. ever.. if that’s what you’re thinking.
Olive is really interested in sharing. She likes to bring me a toy, especially music toys, so that I have one while she’s playing. A few days ago I walked into the living room and saw that she had brought a big pile of music toys over to Tyler while he was sitting on the sofa.
We finally have a baby gate for the stairs. Tyler built it since our stairs are rather unique. I’m going to paint it to match our trim color. Olive loves to climb the stairs.
She continues to point to to her diaper when she has to go potty or if she wants her diaper changed. Diaper free time is successful if I remind her to come over to the potty (every five minutes or so). If I don’t remind her enough she’ll go potty while she’s doing something. I think she’s too excited to sit still for long or to go back to the potty when she’s interested in what she’s playing with.
We’re working on the concept of putting things back after playing with them. It works pretty well most of the time. I caught her putting something away independently without prompting the other day. That was very exciting. :)
Olive occasionally tries to put her socks or her leg warmers on but opening up the end up then giving up, or just setting them on top of her foot. :)
Olive really likes Honey. And I think she calls her “neeee”.
She is still sometimes saying all done. It sounds like “ahl duh”.
Olive is overwhelmingly friendly and social. Last night at the co-op she was wiggling around trying to catch people’s eyes and waving at pretty much every single person. A very fancy looking wave too. We ate dinner at the co-op and she was trying to strike a conversation with the people at the next table.

The months really start to run together at this point so I can’t really think of what else is new since last month. Overall Olive is doing so well! :)

I’ll be positing something else later as a “year in review” kind of thing. How will I possibly summarize Olive’s first year?! Oh dear.

Here are Olive’s photos:

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I thought wearing her party dress from the day before and the birthday crown that I made her sitting in the old chair of mine that I reupholstered with her sleep tiger would be fun.

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She wasn’t quite sure.

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So she got up.

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And ate her tiger.

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And realized she was wearing a crown.

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Olive doesn’t really like things on her head. We have the best luck with hats that tie on or have a button. Headbands don’t really work. Luckily I accidentally made her crown way too big but I think it helped… it wasn’t tight! :)

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And then she tried to put it back. :)

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Ta Da!

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And then she left so I spent some time with sleep tiger.

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I enticed her back with her sleep tiger but she was content facing the wrong direction.

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And eating her tiger.

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And trying to get me.

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Again I enticed her with sleep tiger.

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And she tried to.. hang him up?

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And then walk around in circles.

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And decide that I suddenly need my slippers.

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One more try for the chair?  Ummm… Nope.

Earlier that day we met our friend Amanda at IKEA for free breakfast – it’s always free on Mondays. Unfortunately this was a Seize the Day weekend event in addition to President’s Day so it was soooooo packed because they advertise that breakfast is free.

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Having a great time with her new owl bib. :)

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Olive seemed to enjoy herself. :) We got a few things in the as is section after eating.

I wanted to do something else like go to Como Zoo but Ikea took a lot longer than expected and Olive seemed to have had enough action for the day. We can go to the zoo on my birthday I guess… no biggie. :)

Happy birthday little Ollie bug! :)

We celebrated Olive’s first birthday on Sunday, February 19th 2012, which happened to be my dad’s birthday.

I made invitations last month and sent them out early because I was excited. :)

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I made quite a few treats and snacks, all of which were gluten and sugar free (save for the fruit punch). I was afraid it would be too difficult to make things like my “famous” chocolate chip cookies without being able to enjoy them. And sugar free meant all of the snacks were baby guest friendly. :)

I made:
Olive’s cake
Sweet potato “cookies”
Pumpkin “cookies” (a spin of the recipe above)
Grain free coconut raisin cookies
Grain free chocolate chip cookies
Sugar free kheer
Bionico (fruit salad)

Our friends Brooke and Scott brought over some coconut macaroons and guacamole to compliment our chips (they also took some of the photos below – thanks! Because I totally was not on top of that). We had coffee, water, and punch to drink.

A local grocery store chain gives out free birthday cakes for first birthdays if you bring in the child’s birth certificate so there was also a sugar-full cake for whoever was interested. I picked up a special cupcake for my dad as well.

It was my goal, for the weeks leading up to Olive’s party, to finish painting the trim in our living room and dining room. I came up a little short but I got most of it done. :) About a week before the party I spent time decorating with little Instagram photos of Olive and cardboard flowers.

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Her party was filled with friends and family that was able to make the trip up to visit. My mom was present on our laptop via Skype. :)

Pre-party giggles:

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Olive woke up just minutes before her party started at 2:00. That was not my intention to wake her and suddenly throw her into such a stimulating situation but of course things don’t always go as planned on party day.

Olive was a little shy at first.. hiding behind my leg (adorable). But quickly warmed up and waved to and smiled at all of our guests.

I made her a birthday crown / pirate hat (ha ha):

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We gave our guests a few more minutes to arrive and then we played “The Olive Game”. We gave everyone a piece of paper and I asked ten questions about Olive. Whoever had the most correct won! I think that Joe and Joy (Tyler’s brother and his wife) were the winners. In case you’re curious to see if you know Olive well here are the ten questions: (the answers can be found at the bottom of this post)

1. How much does Olive weigh? (I weighed her after waking her before the party)
2. How tall is Olive? (I measured her just before the party also)
3. What day of the week was Olive born?
4. What was Olive’s first word/phrase? (Only said it once)
5. What was Olive’s first functional, used multiple times, word?
6. What is Olive’s favorite thing to point at?
7. What type of animal (stuffed) does Olive sleep with?
8. What is Olive’s current favorite food?
9. What was Olive’s first food?
10. What was the home team at Olive’s first baseball game?

After the game we moved onto opening Olive’s gifts. I was impressed at her stamina.. she was pretty tunned into the opening of each gift but near the end became more interested in some of the toys and her friend Claire. :)

After gifts everyone was free to snack and mingle while Olive enjoyed her cake while we listened to some of Olive’s favorite songs.

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Her party lasted two hours. I wasn’t planning on it being so long because I assumed she’d be done with all of the excitement by then but she was a trooper. :)

A big thanks to everyone who was able to come! We’re working on thank you cards this week. :)

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Last night as a baby…

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Quiz answers:
1. 17.3 pounds
2. 29.5 inches
3. Sunday
4. I love you
5. All done
6. Lights
7. Tiger
8. Caramelized onions
9. Avocado
10. Chicago Cubs

Last Friday Olive turned eleven months old marking the last month anniversary of her birth worth “celebrating”. Her next milestone will be turning one, of course. After that I think I may continue taking photos on the 20th of each month – since I can. Of course documenting every month isn’t entirely necessary but with the weather improving in a couple of months it’d be a good opportunity for us both to leave the house and explore some new photo spots!

It’s seriously rough taking photos of a babe this age. She’s so mobile and so interested in going places. I couldn’t get her to sit still. I realize that is why one doesn’t typically do sit down and smile style photos with a kiddo this age but when it’s only me at home with Olive and we’re in our not very photo friendly house.. I have to try. I tried silly sounds. I tried the sticker trick (which only caused her to eat the sticker). So eventually I gave in to walking around our bedroom. Great scenery. Ideally a portrait session with a babe like Olive would involve the photographer and a parent or two to help direct and hold attention, to play along… whatever. Not a mama with a giant camera trying to get her babe to pay attention to something other than falling off the bed.

Anywho – Olive is 11 months old!

A few days after turning 11 months old she started taking a few steps at a time. Now she’s done about 9 at most, I think.
She’s still a wonderful eater. She eats nearly anything put in front of her but preferences are beginning to show – which is neat!
Olive signs “more” and “all done” very consistently. Every day she’s using “eat” and “water” more often. We’re sometimes see “potty” and “please” but not very consistently at all.
Since her last month update we went out of town for Christmas and she did very well with all of the driving and sleeping at different people’s homes for six nights I believe. It didn’t seem to throw off her “schedule” when we returned home.
Olive recently began putting shapes into her shape sorter.
She has, on occasion, imitated words and phrases such as “all done” and “I love you” but that is few and far between. And just because it happened once doesn’t seem to mean it’ll ever happy again!
Olive loves to explore. She won’t sit still with a toy for too long. Currently she enjoys climbing the stairs, especially when I’m in the other room. Yikes!
Olive is getting better at not dropping all of her food on the ground when she is finished eating. She will sometimes put all of her unwanted leftovers in my hand, on the end of her tray, or in her cup.
Elimination Communication is pretty slow going these days, unfortunately. We still catch a lot but we’ve really dropped the ball on the communication part. I assume it’s more of a shortcoming on our part than on Olive’s part. But the past few days she’s been pointing to her diaper when it’s wet.. so that’s cool!
I was very impressed over our Christmas trip to see Olive immediately exploring the different homes that we were in, even places she had never been before. She is incredibly independent and has a big desire to discover. She would quickly and easily venture away from me, around corners, and into rooms she had never been before.
Olive totally understands how to open a present. :)
Her nighttime routine has become much more adorable lately. I usually end up nursing her to sleep in our bed and then transfer her to hers after she falls asleep. She understands the routine and tries so hard to fall asleep sometimes even when she isn’t sleepy enough. She’ll have some milk, crawl around, come back for more milk, crawl around and rock a little, come back.. it’s cute.
Olive has been known to be nursing and unlatch to give me a kiss if I say “I love you” while she’s nursing. Cute.
Speaking of kissing.. she gives Tyler and I kisses a lot now. It’s refreshing since she seemed to avoid kisses for so long. On occasion she’ll go between us giving us kisses. :)
Olive really likes the kitchen cabinets, of course.
Just before Christmas she got a new carseat and it seems to make car travel much easier for her now. She’s much more upright and must feel much more like a big kid than a tiny baby.
We listen to music a lot during dinner and she really loves that. To request music she’ll point to the speakers and sway side to side (that’s how she dances).
I could be wrong, but I’m pretty sure she has a great sense of rhythym.
Gosh, I’m not sure what else to say. She’s pretty awesome. :)

Here is Olive on her 11 month day (I included just a few of the blurry Olive-in-motion shots. I had to delete sooooooo many.)

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