Category Archives: baby

Dakota: Eleven Months Old

I went 10 months straight without forgetting to take a picture on the actual day of Dakota’s monthly birthday, but alas my streak has ended. So yes, sadly this picture was taken a day late. (and the actual blog post is two days late! Horror!) The world didn’t come to an end and I’m not being booed in the streets, so I guess it’s not really a big deal. 😉

eleven months

Previous odd numbered months:

nine months

seven months

five months

three months

one month

It’s hard to get a picture of her grinning while holding still, as evidenced by this foot-flailing shot. I wanted to include it to show off her lovely teeth though:

big smile

Here’s last month’s photo.

I’ve loved doing this so I definitely plan to continue the monthly photos beyond one year. I’m tossing around a few ideas to hopefully simplify the process and maximize my chance of actually succeeding… I’m definitely not getting any more leg warmers though. 12 is plenty, even for me!


Busy Board for Dakota

I think I once made an off-handed mention of the idea of a “latch board” for little kids to Dave. I’m pretty sure it was many months ago, but the idea obviously took root because after we got back from the holidays he was suddenly very gung-ho to make one. Maybe because we do so much rough carpentry work that he hardly ever gets to use the router? Whatever the reason, he came home one day from a hardware store trip with a bag full of random latches and hinges and a nice looking scrap of hardwood. Here it is with the handle/hanging hole already cut out:

busy board before

Then Dave routed the rest of the edges:

Dave routing

And then he slapped on some primer, but was obviously unenthusiastic about painting, so I took over that part, using one of the rejected test paint pots from our kitchen paint decision-making process. I also applied two coats of a non-toxic sealant.

Then it was time to add the latches!

busy board ready for action

I looove the ropes. When I first saw the bag full of goodies to be attached I wasn’t sure how the ropes figured in to the master plan, but they’re fun and colorful.

busy board in action

So far the biggest hit is probably the springy door stop. The door stops in our house are all wall shields, which is a good thing for my clumsy feet… but clearly we are depriving our baby of much fun by not having spring door stops all over the house for her to play with.

busy board door stop

When I first described the project to my dad, his comment was something along the lines of, “so you can teach her how to open kid-proof gates and locks, right?” Yup, that’s right. 😉

Anyway, I’m not sure how long this will actually keep her entertained, but it was really nice to switch gears and work on a smaller, more polished (for us) project. I think we’ll pick a low spot on the wall to hang it so it’ll be pretty secure and stable, but this isn’t really a toy that she’ll be playing with unsupervised… at least for a while.

Now back to storage benches and chicken coops and such!

Dakota: Ten Months Old

Even though Dakota is technically a 49ers fan, she gets to wear the colors for Dave’s favorite team (Denver Broncos) in honor of them making it to the Super Bowl.
10 months
Dakota was feeling extra energetic today, so getting a good picture was a bit of a challenge. I’ve included some outtakes at the bottom, but first here are the past even-numbered months:
eight months
six months
four months
two months
Dakota was fascinated with the tummy sticker this month, and no amount of distraction or redirection would deter her. Really I know I’ve been lucky to have made it this long with her being so cooperative. I’m just glad that the next two month’s photos will fall on Saturdays so I will have help.
sticker crumple
I almost just used one of these as the “official” monthly photo. So cute:
sticker play
But then we came to the part where she tore the sticker in half and started to eat it:
sticker eat
And so the photo shoot ended. 🙂

Dakota: Nine Months Old

This month Dakota figured out how to pull up on things, though she hasn’t quite figured out how to move her feet once she’s standing. Her first two teeth finally popped through, and her babbling has gotten a bit more varied and word-like. Oh, and we had a blast visiting family for the holidays.

With regards to the photo shoot, I got a bigger onesie, (who knows how long it will fit) but I’ve given up on pulling the leg warmers all the way up her thighs. The legwarmers are pretty stretchy, but it was beginning to just look silly. 🙂

nine months

Previous odd-numbered months:

seven months

five months

three months

one month

Here’s last month’s photo.

Dakota: Eight Months Old

She’s getting really good at crawling (still no teeth though!) but she is still content to stare bemusedly up at the camera when we whip it out for these monthly updates.

I really need to buy a bigger onesie before next month’s photo though…

eight months

Previous even numbered months:

six months

four months

two months

Here’s last month’s photo, in case you’re interested…

Baby-Friendlifying the House

It’s hard to blog about projects that aren’t already exactly how I want them to end up, but then I think that baby-friendlifying (I’m calling it that rather than “baby proofing”, because I doubt I’ll be able to make anything completely baby proof) the house is going to be a continually evolving project anyway. So, keeping in mind that I’m watching baby closely and improving/altering things as needed, here’s how things stand currently.

The TV console (aka Expedit unit from Ikea) needed the most immediate work since the floor in front of the TV is the primary play zone. Here is a picture from an old post that shows pretty much how it’s looked for the past year or so:

New rug and chair

Across the top we had board games, the PS3, and the media computer taking up two cubbies, so we left out the vertical divider on that side when we assembled the unit. Across the bottom there are two storage cubes holding various extra controllers and blankets, and then a whole bunch of DVDs. So far Dakota has been ignoring the upper cubbies and mostly just playing with the DVDs, but in preparation for more vertical interest, here is how the unit looks now:

baby friendly TV console

The bins along the bottom all hold baby stuff now, some of it is baby blankets and jackets, but I imagine that we’ll continue to accumulate more toys and these will be overflowing soon enough. The DVDs and board games have all been moved to the bookshelves between the living room and dining room. The new doors on the top left two cubbies are an add-on accessory for the Expedit that we picked up on our last Ikea trip. They come with an insert (I believe made of pressboard) that covers the left, back and right sides of the cubby and gets screwed into the sides of the main unit. you need the added pressboard on the sides so the door fits evenly and opens/closes correctly, but since I’m hoping we can stuff most of our electronics behind these doors I cut off the back of the inserts so there will be a lot more ventilation. Also, since I wanted the doors to close towards each other, I didn’t finish screwing in the sides of the pressboard insert on the right. I’m pretty sure the screws from the two inserts would run into each other, so I’m going to need to offset the screws on the right-hand insert. sigh. I’m not sure any of that made sense, but I’ve already spent too much time describing what I hope will be a small and quickly fixed setback, so I’m not going to try and clarify any more. 🙂

The media computer is still there taking up two cubbies on the right, but it will be going away soon. We’re just waiting the arrival of a newly ordered single-board computer that can hopefully handle our non-PS3 video streaming needs. The PS3 itself still fits behind the door even with the inserts, I just had to stand it up on its side. I also have the power strip that’s full of exciting electrical plugs tucked behind the doors. Once we have everything finalized I plan to tie up the cables that are currently hanging loose but clearly visible behind the console, and that double-cubby space can hold stuffed animals or something.

To complicate things, we finally have our sound system most of the way set up. The receiver is for now sitting on top of a shelf in the right-hand corner, over the subwoofer. (Partially visible behind the cat scratching post in the picture above) So far baby has ignored it, but I haven’t decided exactly what my plan is if she starts trying to fiddle with it. Sigh.

Moving along… not super exciting visually, but here’s the dog bed:

dog bed

I need to secure the antenna cable behind it to the wall, but more importantly this is the dog-priority zone. Loki is getting a bit uncomfortable with Dakota becoming more mobile and grabby, so we’re focusing on rewarding him when he responds to a stressful situation by moving away from her. I could probably write a whole separate blog post on this, but basically if he growls or barks at her we call him to his dog bed and give him treats. If Dakota approaches him in his dog bed, we pick her up and move her away, so it’s a space where he can feel comfortable. I wish we could put it in a more out of the way spot, but he still wants to be in on the social scene even when he doesn’t necessarily want a baby up in his face. So tucking it behind the chair means Dakota doesn’t notice it too much, but Loki still has a pretty good view of everything.

The fireplace was a bit of a problem, the side facing the living room had this freestanding screen:

Painted fireplace 1

Pretty heavy so there’s no way to knock it over accidentally, but I imagine a determined and fairly heavy baby might manage to pull it over on herself. I debated just screwing it into the facade directly, but honestly I’m not very fond of the thing, and the big metal curlicues aren’t particularly baby-friendly in there own right. I shopped around a bit for a replacement, but everything was either ugly or really expensive, so I have this temporary solution for now:

baby friendly fireplace

Yeah we just had an extra plastic baby gate that made a pretty good tight fit in the opening. The fireplace is non functional right now anyway, so it’s not like I need something fire-safe. Dakota finds the weird wooden owl thing pretty entertaining, and I got it on clearance, with a coupon stacked on top of the clearance price, so I don’t mind if she scuffs it up a bit.

The other side of the fireplace has a frame with glass doors that’s permanently installed, with the doors glued shut even. Not very elegant looking, but not something we need to rush to change at the moment. Here’s the problem, as Dakota decided to demonstrate while I was typing this post up:

baby in the water bowl

This is where we keep the dog’s water dish. The food dish isn’t a problem because we feed him after Dakota goes to bed and pick the dish up first thing in the morning. For now I’m picking the dish up when I notice her going for it and trying to remember to put it back down if we’re going out. I think I’m mostly just going to resign myself to a certain amount of water mess here though.

Another problem area is the dining table, where I work on the laptops:

baby friendly cables

I found that outlet cover in the baby-proofing section, and the little clear cable clip attached right under the window sill seems relatively sturdy. So I figure if baby starts tugging on the electrical cords at least they won’t come out of the socket, and the clip will break first before she can pull the adapters on her head. With any luck this will be enough of a delay for me to realize what she’s up to and swoop in to save the day. Long-term we hope to build a banquette along this wall, so maybe we can figure out some way to keep the outlet accessible for adults but less obvious for little ones? Hopefully we will also someday have a somewhat functional work space for computers and such in the cat room (which already has a baby gate in the doorway) but the dining room has the best table space AND the best view in the house, so I imagine there will frequently be a laptop there no matter what…

Moving to the kitchen, most of our lower cabinets have pots and tupperware, so we just added these catches to the cabinet under the sink.

baby friendly kitchen

Right in the front of that cabinet there’s the compost pail, the dishwasher detergent, the all-purpose cleaning spray, and the bucket that holds dirty rags/cloths, so it definitely needed locks/catches. These are working great, I can still open them one-handed and they close and lock without any extra effort. Dakota hasn’t tried opening any doors yet (we’ll have to decide how we want to secure the doors of the TV console and the bookshelves when she does) but it’s good to know that these catches work well.

There’s also this set of drawers:

baby friendly drawers

The top one holds the silverware, the middle holds all the random kitchen tools (some of which aren’t baby-friendly, like the vegetable peeler) and the bottom drawer holds random rarely used stuff like a roasting pan and some salad serving utensils. I’m thinking I’ll reorganize so the bottom drawer holds baby-friendly tools like measuring cups and such. The upper two drawers will need to stay off-limits, but they aren’t super easy to open, and I can always transfer everything to a bin on top of the counter for a few days if Dakota takes an interest and we don’t instantly have a baby-proofing solution.

To finish up, we keep our shoes in these thingies:

baby friendly shoe storage

They tip out like so:

baby friendly shoes

Dakota loves chewing on shoes. Mmmm delicious shoes. I try to get them put away, and I can only hope that she outgrows her shoe-chewing ways by the time she figures out how to open these guys.


Baby in the Pool!

Dave managed to sit and observe one of our baby swimming water learning classes, and he brought the camera along. Taking pictures from a distance of an indoor pool is not the easiest, but he did his best. I combined most of the photos into little action sequences, so it’s hopefully not too big of a deal that they’re a bit fuzzy. Anyway, here we are, ready to go:

In the poolI got her a washable swim diaper, bit I’m way too lazy to stuff her into an actual swim suit. She doesn’t look too scarred for life yet…

One of the main things we work on is supported back floats. I think the blue foam thing is to give the babies something to look at as they’re floating around:

back float

Another thing that we worked up to and now do every week is quick, but complete, submersions. We taught them a cue (“Ready, down!”) so they knew they are about to get water in their faces. It’s pretty cute and also amazing to see how quickly she learned to prep when she heard the cue.


Going into this class I knew I wouldn’t push anything if Dakota looked unhappy, but thus far she’s seemed pretty unperturbed by the dunkings. She sputters a little when she comes back up, but then she goes right back to looking around and/or chewing on whatever toy is in her hand.

Something new and exciting for this class was a little foam slide! I’m glad Dave was there to document the experience. The babies in the class range in age from Dakota (7 months) up to I believe an almost 2 year old. It’s pretty neat to see how much the older and more experienced kids love the slide. Dakota gets a lot of teacher assistance until she’s old enough to control herself:

water slide

I’m really enjoying the classes. Based on what I’ve heard from other moms, the experience is vastly improved by having a very knowledgeable and engaged instructor and a nice facility like the one we’re at. I think Dakota has the right disposition for it too, and I think since she was sitting up unassisted so early it worked out really well to have her start as early as she did. We’ve already signed up for the next session!

in the pool again

Pikachu Costume Complete

I blogged earlier this month about how I was in the midst of sewing a Halloween costume for Dakota. To recap: I decided on making a pikachu costume by modifying a Simplicity costume sewing pattern. I was able to sew the body of the costume out of yellow fleece by just following the pattern instructions, so what was left was to modify the ears and add a face, tail, and back stripes. Modifying the ears was pretty straightforward:

ear pattern piece

I just drew right on the tissue paper to extend the original ears a bit. The red lines are for where I wanted to switch from yellow fabric to black.

I needed to move the ears farther back on the hood to make room for Pikachu’s face, so I pinned them on and then spent a while shifting little tissue paper circles around on the hood until I had everthing more or less where I wanted. George the stuffed animal served as my costume model:

face placement

I used the exact same fleece fabric in different colors for the eyes and cheeks, and just left the edges raw since fleece doesn’t fray. I hand sewed them (and the brown stripes for the back of the costume) in place using a running stitch in a matching color thread. This actually worked amazingly well and went pretty fast, even with my sloppy hand-sewing. You have to get your nose up close to even really see the individual stitches, and even then the unevenness doesn’t really detract in any way. And as advertised, no fraying! I may just use fleece instead of felt for future craft projects, since I’ve had bad experiences with felt coming apart when I try to sew with it. And actually I probably could have machine sewed the pieces directly on, but the pieces were so small it probably would have taken me longer to wind the bobbins and thread the machine than just sewing it by hand.

Finished pictures in a moment, but first I want to talk about the tail. After much waffling I decided to add a pipe cleaner inside for support and make it detachable from the costume. Here’s my free handed sketch that I used as a pattern:

tail pattern

And here’s the finished tail:finished tail

I machine sewed the two sides together inside out along the top, turned it right-side out and inserted the pipe cleaner and bent it in the right spots, and then hand sewed the bottom closed. In hindsight I probably should have machine sewn the whole thing right-side out and left the raw edges visible, because trying to get all those sharp corners to turn right-side out cleanly was a pain in the butt. I attached two yellow buttons to the tail, one at the top corner and one at the base, and attached two loops of yellow cord to the body of the costume.

Unfortunately, but not unexpectedly, the tail was a bit of a flop, literally it just flopped over to one side while attached. Ah well, I did get a few cute pictures with it on, after detaching the top button:

pikachu tail front

Oh, for the mouth I just hand-sewed using a back stitch, and then I sewed another line of back stitches right next to it to make it thicker. Anyway, here you can see the back of the costume:

tail back

And then I took the tail off and we went to various Halloween parties. 🙂

Here’s a close-up of Dakota sitting. The costume is a little large on her, especially since it was warm enough that she didn’t need to wear much underneath it:

pikachu sitting

And here she is still not quite crawling, but at least demonstrating that she has decent mobility in this thing:

pikachu crawling

In that picture you can see the little yellow cord loop where the tail was attached to her butt.

The fleece was a little warm during the day since the temperatures got up into the 70s, but she was able to wear the costume pretty comfortably for pretty long periods without complaint. I liked the way the elastic along the top of the hood worked out, it kept the hood mostly in place without really getting in her way. And in case it wasn’t already obvious, I really loved working with fleece, and I definitely plan to use it again in future projects. The tail was a little bit of a bummer, but this isn’t my first time dealing with floppy costume appendages, so I wasn’t at all surprised by the failure and I don’t think the missing tail really detracted from the overall costume much at all. Now I can’t wait for next year!

Dakota: Seven Months Old

Still no crawling! Instead this month Dakota decided to focus on figuring out how to get from her belly to sitting up. She’s gotten pretty good at it, but she needs a little room to move backwards to accomplish it, which sometimes leads to her backing up under a chair or something and getting herself stuck.

Photography-wise, the living room is getting noticeably less ambient light during the day, so I’m going to contemplate how I want to bring in more light to keep these pictures consistent. Anyway…

seven months

And the rest of the odd numbered months:

five months

three months

one month

I wasn’t exactly intentionally alternating which side she was facing each month, but I guess it worked out that way. Might as well keep it going!

Road Trip with Baby

Last weekend we drove from our home in the San Francisco area to visit some friends in the Los Angeles area with almost-seven-month old Dakota in tow. For the trip down we stopped twice for gas, once for lunch, and once for me to nurse Dakota and switch from the passenger seat to the back seat because she was Not Happy. Once I was in the back seat it was actually pretty easy to keep her entertained and happy until she finally fell asleep. Well, probably most of the credit goes to a Starbucks cup with ice in the bottom. This is her favorite chew toy/rattle, but not one I’m willing to let her play with unsupervised.

starbucks cup

While she was awake we pretty much had to stick to her preferred music CDs (Putumayo and Kindermusik) but once she was asleep Dave and I were able to listen to podcasts and have normal conversations, only slightly weird with me in the back seat.

On the ride back I spent the whole trip in the back seat and we had much less fussing. We also took a longer lunch break, with Dakota trying out the booster seat at the diner:

booster seat

It didn’t have a seat belt though, so once we got our food we switched her to a high chair, though she got to keep the spoon:

high chair

She had a nice long nap after that, though she would occasionally open her eyes, give me a good once-over, and go right back to sleep, so it was probably a good thing that I stuck to the back seat.

Both the ride there and the ride back took about 6 hours, which worked out conveniently for us because we were able to leave right after morning traffic died down and arrive before afternoon traffic got too heavy.

In what I’m sure is going to become a common occurrence during future trips, we got to visit a few playgrounds during our stay. Dakota would still rather eat dirt and leaves (and try to lick the concrete!) rather than explore a play structure, but she did get to test drive some swings for the first time:

toddler swin g

She hasn’t exactly fallen in love with swings yet, but I’m sure it will happen. 🙂