Belle is ONE

Our sweet girl is a year old today!
It's hard to believe that just a year ago I was giving birth to our beautiful baby. It seems like just moments ago. This year has had it's hard moments and some phases have seemed to last ages, but looking back at the year as a whole, it's gone by so quick it's almost a blur. I'm so incredibly thankful to have been given the opportunity to be a stay at home mama and get to watch nearly every moment of her life thus far. Getting to know her and be her mama has changed me for the better.

But before I get too emotional.... 
This month she is showing us that toddlerhood is fast approaching.

Just this past week we have started making the transition to regular milk. She is down to nursing only at bedtime, so my milk has started waning quite a bit. So far her body has been handling the cow's milk just fine - something I'm super grateful for, since I was hoping to stop breastfeeding sooner than later. She has 4-5oz of milk in the morning with her breakfast when she first wakes up. An 8oz bottle of mixed breastmilk (until my freezer stash runs out) and regular milk warmed up pre-naptime in the afternoon and then nurses before bed. It's freeing to say the least. I'll probably let her nurse before bed for a little while longer because of the cuddling.

She's my little nibbler. She likes to eat small meals and snack throughout the day. I've been trying to get better about not letting her snack all throughout the day... but man, she likes her cup of cheerios close by. She is starting to develop likes and dislikes when it comes to food. We've noticed she generally likes her food to have some "crunch" to it - what I mean by that, is she likes to feel she actually biting and chewing instead of just mashing something soft in her mouth. So we've been giving her bigger pieces of things and letting her eat our "grownup food" more. We've always kind of done baby led weaning anyway, so it's a natural progression for us even if some think it's strange that our one year old eats chips & salsa.

Daylight savings started this month and it didn't really affect her sleeping patterns much at all. She still sleeps about 11 hours straight through the night - from about 8:30/9pm - 8/8:30am. Although not a 100% of the time without crying, she is continuing to go to sleep on her own after we put her in the crib. Her naptime has been a little off - she won't go down right at 3pm, sometimes she can't make it until then and I put her down early or sometimes she plays in her bed for an hour until she conks out around 4pm. I think it has more to do with her growing pains when it comes to teething.

Speaking of which - she has SIX teeth now! She has her two front teeth on the bottom and her four front teeth on top. Whenever she flashes a cheesy smile it's A-DOR-ABLE. I usually end up swooning! She started standing on her own this month and can do so for as long as she chooses, though she usually tries to start walking shortly after she's on her feet. She can take 2-3 steps before falling. Whenever she does take steps on her own, she immediately expects a hug and a "good job Belle" - she'll usually get up and crawl over to one of our arms and snuggle in. It's really cute! We're so excited for the possibility of having a walker on our hands! She's ready to move, she just thinks crawling is faster right now. She walks all over the house while pushing her walker and we take daily walks to the mailbox with her holding my hands.

She loves playtime - she is currently perfecting her stacking skills - she loves stacking objects on bookshelves, on each other, or in piles. She likes snuggling her baby doll, stuffed animals, and occasionally my flip flop (silly girl). She is still OBSESSED with peek-a-boo and will play it by pushing doors open and almost shut, behind furniture or just by turning her head around and back again. She loves sitting windowside on our bed and we do it everyday for looooong periods of time. We have playdates every week (sometimes twice a week if we can) and she gets to hang out with her baby friends and learn new tricks. We've discovered she's a bit spoiled in some ways - she doesn't like when she has to crawl on the kitchen floor in her shorts - she will actually bear crawl over to the floor mat so she doesn't have to touch the cold floor. She doesn't like getting dirty - she fusses if she gets mud on her hands and just yesterday refused to sit in the grass. She is starting to have a longer attention span when it comes to reading books, we've managed to get her to sit through an entire book a couple times recently - which is progress. Normally I just sit and read while she crawls on and off of my lap. She's still pouring on the snuggles this month which we're both loving. Sometimes she'll even give hugs or cuddles when you ask for them. She's also finally learned what it means to dance - which makes this mama SO happy! She likes to rock back and forth and wave her arms when she hears music she likes or if she sees me dancing.

This month we've seen some less desirable toddlerhood traits coming out - such as tantrums and even shaking her head no at us. We're still learning how to deal with these things best as we go, but holy smokes I hate her tantrums. She'll arch her back and swing herself back on the floor or something out of my arms as hard as she can. I don't even know where she learned to do that - is that just part of human nature when you throw a fit? Sheesh. It's like watching an exorcism! I guess toddler discipline will be something we'll be growing in here shortly.

All that being said, she is still a sweetheart. Something I've prayed for all year is that she keep her sweet disposition and she has. A giggle is never far away when you're with her. She's almost always happy and smiling. She tries to be gentle with her younger baby friends - usually holding their hand or patting their head. She loves to give hugs and babble back and forth with people. Grocery trips always take longer because she makes friends all throughout the store by catching their attention with a salute and a giggle (she particularly likes older men and women). One of the places she is most calm is in the elementary school we go have lunch at a couple times a month, where she is smothered with hugs and caresses by all her "brothers & sisters". She is fantastic at sharing her toys when friends come over and will actually bring her toys to her friends most of the time. She loves rolling around and curling up next to me on our bed while she watches the birds outside our window. She is a joy. God's grace to us in a little tiny life that we get to care for and watch grow every day. I can't even express how much her sweetness is a constant source of joy.

Happy Birthday Pumpkin!

P.S. Belle updates are going to be transitioning from weekly posts to monthly posts for the next year or so (or most likely until toddlerhood gets the best of me). 


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