Thursday, September 29, 2011

I Never Thought I'd LOVE My Laundry Room

 A couple of years ago, I decided to read TLC's, Michelle and Jim-Bob Duggar's first book "The Duggars, 20 and Counting". 

I have never been much of a reader but, oh my gosh, I read it in a day!  At the time, I was pregnant with #2 and realizing that in order to have two kids so close together, I was going to have to get organized.  Let me tell you, Michelle Duggar is the QUEEEN of organizing!  I was in heaven reading about her practical recommendations for things around the house.

My favorite piece of advice was her clothes closet.  When they built their new home, they intentionally built an additional room next to the laundry room.  This room holds everybody's clothes.  Putting away those clean clothes is no longer an issue and it simplifies things because its all in one place.

So, once we moved into our new home, I decided I was going to make my own version of this closet.  Unfortunately, I do not have an entire room to dedicate to clothes, but as of now, I only have three kids so I could get creative with the space I did have. 

This is what I did.  Under the wire racks that lined the walls of my laundry room, I took a hanging pocket shoe organizer and turned it sideways.  I then attached it to the wire racks with zip-ties (yes, we are a zip-tie husband is obssessed).  Once I had it up, I designated 4 slots to each child, giving the two big slots to my son. 

Now, when laundry comes out of the dryer, I just fold it and put it into the proper cubby and I'm done.  I keep their pajamas upstairs in their dresser, along with any clothing I have bought for the next size or season, that way after bathtime, their pj's are easily accessible.  In the laundry room, I have a panty/underwear basket for Little P and Little C and then each child also has a container for their socks.

I cannot even begin to tell you how much this system has simplified my life.  I don't climb stairs constantly when getting the kids dressed in the morning, I don't have clothes all over the house from getting dressed and undressed, and MOST importantly, I can keep up easily.  Between this and my clothes buying system, I never get overwhelmed with large amounts of clothes being scattered about the house.  I know exactly what everybody has and it's all in one simple is that!

Mama Resource: SuperNanny

I wanted to take a moment to tell you about one of my favorite parenting tools.

If you have seen her show, you know that the supernanny takes discipline from a very head on perspective.  She does not advocate spanking, screaming, or hostility towards your children, rather she teaches parents how to calmly, yet firmly, follow through.  This site has suggestions on anything from de-cluttering  to aggressive behavior to open communication.  She's got something for everybody!

We have used her techniques for 'house rules', 'naughty step' (we call it a penalty box), and laying out expectations.  All of her suggestions have worked wonders for us.  More than anything, what we have learned is that it all depends on our approach. 

Additionally, we have learned that they, even at 2 and 3, understand cause and effect.  From the day we posted our house rules and explained them and their consequences, things have been different.  They know exactly what happens when they do A, B, or C.  It has helped us to learn how to RESPOND to their behavior with the agreed upon consequence rather than react with whatever emotion is running through our bodies.

I can say for sure that our house is a lot more peaceful and that, as a mother, I feel a lot less overwhelmed.  There is something to be said for boundaries providing security.  In this situation, that security is for all of us.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Well Fed, Well Rested Baby - Dr. Denmark Mush

Little P with his mush on his 1st birthday.  We
avoid white sugar until 2 so we used his mush
for the candle.  It worked!
So, I have told you about Dr. Denmarks recommendations for newborn sleep and eating, now I tell you about her AMAZING baby food routine.

So, using the Dr. Denmarks feeding and sleeping routine, by 12 weeks your baby should not only be sleeping through the night (10pm-5/6am without crying it out) and nursing/getting a bottle every 3/4 hours (6am, 10am, 2pm, 6pm, and 10pm).  So, that is where we are when she starts talking about baby food.

So, at around 12 weeks your baby will start to drool...LIKE CRAZY!  I'm talking, changing their clothes a few times a day, drool!  While most doctors will tell you that it is the beginning of teething, Dr. Denmark explains that thats not the case.  Rather, at around 12 weeks, a baby begins making an enzyme that is produced in order to break down carbohydrates.  With that, it is the sign that the baby is ready to begin baby food.

***Disclaimer: Dr. Denmark recommends starting baby food (cereal) at 3 months.  I have always waited until 4 months, more out of convenience than anything.  I just wanted you to know that that waiting a little longer won't hurt anything.***

Okay, so now it is time to begin Dr. Denmark Mush.
(Wait to form any opinons until the end of the post...I promise, it's not crazy)

On the first day, you begin with 1/4 teaspoon of baby oatmeal or rice mixed with breastmilk or formula (I've always done oatmeal because it's less binding) after the 10am, 2pm, and 6pm feedings. 
Keep in mind that it will take a bit for the baby to learn how to eat from a spoon. 

Over the course of the next week or so, not only will your baby get the hang of eating from a spoon but you will also build up to about 2 Tablespoons of cereal a feeding. 

Once you have built up to 2 tablespoons of cereal, you add banana's to the mix.  Starting with 1/4 teaspoon on the first day and slowly building up to a 2 tablespoons. 

You follow the same plan with a veggie, applesauce (I always use normal no sugar added applesauce), and then a protien (baby meat, beans, etc.)  Starting all of these off at 1/4 a teaspoon and gradually building up to 2 Tablespoons. 

So, by the time you have the full mixture, your baby is eating 10 tablespoons of food, 3 times a day.

I wanted to tell you about my personal experience with Dr. Denmark Mush.  I know that it is completely different than what most people have ever heard of but I can tell you that not only will your baby get a perfectly well balanced diet at EVERY meal, but it will also make your life so much easier as a parent.  Between birth and two years, your baby's brain almost TRIPLES in size.  There is something to be said for KNOWING that they are getting everything that they are supposed to be getting.
Using the Dr. Denmark Mush also helps tremendously when it comes to picky eating.  When using individual food, a baby has the ability to wrinkle his nose when something doesn't taste 'right'.  What that baby doesn't know is that it takes many more times than just that one to know if you actually like something.  But, most parents, will take that queue from the baby and not try that food again.  With the mush, you don't have that problem.  Everything is mixed together and there is never a concern for a well balanced diet.  Now, does it cause picky eating when the baby begins eating table food?  No.  When a toddler begins eating more and more table foods, the curiosity of feeding themselves far outweighs what they are putting in their mouth.  Everything is new and exciting. 
All three of my children, and any children who I know who ate the mush as babies, will eat just about anything!

So there you have it.  The Dr. Denmark Mush.  We used to make our babyfood and for a full weeks worth of mush, it costed about $10.  Can't beat that!

I would love to hear your comments, questions, concerns, stories, etc. on this and any other post.    

Make sure you 'follow' me and keep updated on the things to come.  Big changes are in the making!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

CLEARLY Common Sense

Ice Cream + 100 Calories = Clearly Common Sense

The Pre-School Dilemma

With kiddos at the pre-school age, we have been presented with the dilemma of when to send them.  Do we start them in 2 day 2's?  Or should we wait for 3 day 3's?  Or just hold off all together until Kindergarten?

There are a few schools of thought on this topic that range from "children need to stay at home with mom as long as possible" to "Oh my gosh, I need a break!  2 day 2's, here we come!" 

Although I have received various perspectives on the topic, I think it's important for parents to realize that no matter what anybody says on the issue, you know your children best.  Nobody can judge the situation better than you can.  Trust your own judgement.  Again, there is no right or wrong's not a moral issue!

For us, we decided to let our oldest go to preschool at 2 for a few reasons.  First of all, he was not talking.  He had maybe 30 words but had no interest in further communication.  Secondly, he is not the best when it comes to change and we were not only moving to a new city but we were also moving from a rental to a new home, having a new baby, AND his dad was going to be leaving for deployment.  For these reasons, we felt that it was the best plan for him to have a constant amongst all of the change.

Now, our middle daughter, Little C, is 2 now.  She could have gone this fall but we chose to keep her home.  While I know she would have a ball, I do feel like its important for her to have some time at home without her brother.  They are two peas in a pod and I want to make sure she knows her place with or without him.  We have been reassured in our decision because, honestly, she has a really hard time not having her brother around for 3 hours every other day.  She asks to go get him almost every 10 minutes.  It breaks my heart but I know that she'll benefit greatly from getting some quality time with her baby sister and mama.  We have considered letting her go in January but at this point, we're just going to play it by ear and trust our gut.

So, when trying to decide on the best age to start pre-school, don't be pressured by anybody around you.  Rather, have confidence in your mothering and knowledge of your pre-schooler.

Kindness Between Sibilings

One of my favorite parts of being married is evaluating our upbringings and deciding what we want to bring to our own family.  Once our older two children got to the age where tempers could flare, my husband, P, spoke up very quickly about something he wanted to bring from his childhood.  He told me that one of the only times you could count on seeing his dad get upset was when the he and his sibilings were unkind to one another. 

Now, my brother and I used to bicker, but he was talking about something different.  He was talking about kindness.  As soon as my husband explained this to me, I started seeing exactly what he was talking about.  It's not when they arguing over the toy, but rather when their words become sharp or their intentions become hurtful.  I had noticed it before but could never put my finger on the difference.  He hit the nail on the head...they were being unkind.

When I asked P why it bothered his dad so much, he told me that his dad used to explain to them that they should love and be kind to each other because when it comes down to it, they are all each of them had.  When all of your friends have left, you will always have your brothers and sisters.

This has been a big lesson for me.  Being that my older two are 15 months apart, they have the opportunity to be the best of friends.  I definitely think that my being aware of their kindness towards one another has contributed to the bond that holds these two together.  Now, they are most commonly described as 'an old married couple'...its hysterical! 

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Yeah, Huh, and What

There are three words that have been made illegal in our house.
They are:
Yeah, Huh, and What
If you would like to see my skin quiver, ask one of my kids to answer me with one of these words.  When I was growing up, if I would have ever answered my parents like that, I was quickly corrected!  Nothing crazy, but it never slid by them. 

Now, as a mother, I understand why.  In my opinion, it is disrespectful for a child to answer an adult with words that would be used between friends...I am not their friend.  There is a respect that is gained with age, this is one of those respects.  Real words.  And I will demand these respects for myself and all other adults my kids come in contact with. 

The day that my son came home from school saying 'yeah' I hopped on him like white-on-rice.  I told him that I was his mommy.  I, and any adult he talks to, should NEVER hear that word.  Instead, he should say, 'yes'.  It is not that difficult.  I am not asking him to saying anything too crazy, just a real word. 

Huh = Excuse me
What = yes, excuse me, whatever is appropriate

These are those little skills that we can give our children that will help them become successful.  I want my kids to be suited with as many skills as I can give them so that they can be whatever they are called to be.  But my goodness, could you imagine if one of them answered 'yeah' or 'huh?' in a job interview?  Holy macaroni, it would bring them down three notches before they even GOT to their qualifications.  I would be horrified!

I know this seems silly but it is so important that we teach our kids to approach every situation with the utmost respect.  Respect does not just mean not yelling at someone, its in our word choices, our clothing choices, our body language, and beyond.  Teaching this starts now, when they are learning to speak.

So, if you ever hear my children say 'yeah', 'huh', or 'what', please don't let it slide!  You deserve better...and so do they!

Let Them Go!

Today, one of my best friends learned one of the BIGGEST lessons there is for a mom to learn.
She had been anticipating weaning her son of his last bottle.  We had talked about it multiple times and I gave her my best advice.  Well, this morning, I got this message in my inbox saying,

"So [he] couldn't care less that he didn't have a bottle this morning. Lol! I handed him his sippy with warm milk and he took a sip, handed it back to me, and then went to the fridge to ask for his morning smoothie. We ate a bowl of oatmeal/raisins and he's a happy guy. Beautiful."

I called her immediately and congratulated her on learning one of the biggest lessons of motherhood: letting them go!

Now, mind you, her son is still a babe and we're not talking letting them go physically, all I am saying is that, as mothers, we want to protect our children.  With the best of intentions, we can end up standing in their way as they grow and explore.  Instead of letting them fall, we are protecting their every move and they end up missing half of the life lessons they were intended to learn. 

Obviously, it is our job to protect our sweet little ones.  But, as mothers, it is so important for us to constatly re-evalute ourselves so we know if we are enabling their fears/attachments/bad habits or allowing them to branch out and learn new things.  When we let them do this, it can often be uncomfortable but in the long run, we can teach them to trust their gut, not be afraid, and try ANYTHING!

Afterall, we want them to know that they can do anything they set their mind to, right?

Friday, September 23, 2011

The Well Fed, Well Rested Baby - Eating/Milk

So, I've already told you about Dr. Denmarks tips for sleeping.  I also wanted to share her tips for eating because, similar to her sleeping plan, her feeding plan has made our lives SO EASY!

First of all, Dr. Denmark teaches a routine that is based around the 6, 10, 2, 6, 10 schedule.  Meaning, you are AIMING (meaning, your goal) to feed the baby at these times during the day.  Now, when you first have a baby, the baby will probably eat much more frequently than every four hours.  Especially right after birth, the baby is trying to gain back the calories that he/she just burned during delivery. 
The biggest key to remember in the first few weeks is that you are teaching the baby to eat a full meal!  (Full meal = nursing both sides/finishing a bottle)
One of the best quotes that I have heard about parenting comes from the 'On Becoming Babywise' book.  They basically say that you are parent from day one.  The baby doesn't come out knowing how to eat and sleep, it's YOUR job to teach him/her. 

So, once the baby is eating full meals, you are most likely on a 3-4 hr feeding routine.  Obviously there are growth spurts and other things that will throw this off but it should always get back to the every 3-4 hour routine within a few days.

This feeding GOAL has always helped me have something to aim for after having a baby.  Instead of just being a constant milk machine, I know that I do have a goal that I would like to reach.  It definitely helps on those days when you feel completely depleted. 

In another post, I will tell you about Dr. Denmark's take on babyfood.  Trust me, if you have a little one who is on or will be starting baby food soon, you want to read the next one.  It will make your life SO MUCH EASIER with a guaranteed balanced diet for the babe. 

Man oh man, I sure do love my Dr. Denmark! 

Making Sense of Teething

Watching your baby get his/her first teeth is often a very painful experience...for everybody.  The poor baby's gums hurt, she won't stop screaming, and there is NOTHING you can do about it.  It's a terrible position to be in!

Back in the day, parents used to take alcohol and rub it on their childs gums (we may or may not have tried this and it may or may not have worked).  From what I hear, it helps numb their gums until the tylenol starts working.  

While tylenol has always been our first plan of action, it wasn't until tylenol didn't help that we learned about combining tylenol and motrin.  How it was explained to me was that tylenol helps with the PAIN of cutting the teeth and the motrin helps with the THROBBING of the swollen tissue surrounding the tooth.  Makes sense to me! 

The only other piece of brilliant advice I have ever been given about teething is that if the baby is not bothered by teething during the day, its not teething at night.  That was very helpful to me when I was trying to figure out a recent 'sleep disturbance' with my youngest daughter.  My immediate reaction to her waking up during the night was 'oh, she must be teething'.  But, she didn't say word one about it during the day. So, I was able to cross that off my list of possibilities to get her back to normal sleep.

I hope this information proves to be as valuable for you as it has been for me!

Solving the Clothing Conundrum

My shopping trip in the States before having little C. 
I was able to buy six months worth of clothing because
I knew exactly what I was looking for.
At one point or another, every mother finds herself drowning in clothes.  We've got my clothes, husbands clothes, kids clothes, too small clothes, too big clothes, clothes for last season, clothes for next season...SO MANY CLOTHES!!! 

Being that I get overwhelmed easily, I had to figure out a way to keep the clothes under control.  Seriously, how many pieces do each of us actually NEED??? 

So, this is what I did.  At the beginning of fall and spring I buy each child:

8 Play Outfits
6 PJs
1 Extra Pair of Jeans
2 Church Outfits
1 light weight jacket/fleece
1 winter jacket/hat/gloves

While the play outfits CAN be mix and matched, there are always 8 shirts and 8 bottoms.  Obviously, in the summer you have to add bathing suits, etc. 

By doing this, not only have I made my shopping (sorting through hand-me downs) easier but it also helped with having SO MANY CLOTHES!  When we just pick things up here and there, we end up with hundreds of pieces of clothing that they might wear ones or twice and then we have to find a place to store them when they've outgrown them.  With this plan, at the end of the season, all you have to do is take all of the last seasons wardrobe, put them on a box, label it, and put it away.  As easy as that!

I have used this system for the last 2 years and it has been AMAZING!  I no longer get overwhelmed figuring out what fits who when.  I just know whos clothes belong to who and they fit NOW. 

Do you have any clothes organizing secrets?

Thursday, September 22, 2011

A Mama Shopping Alert!

One of my all time favorite stores is Ann Taylor Loft.  I have LOVED this store since I was in high school and now that I am a mom, I love it even more! 

One of my best friends, Lauren, of It's Becker Style, is helping me find my new style after having three children, losing weight, and dealing with a completely new body shape.  I think this is something that most of us deal with.  More on that topic later.

Anyways, in my quest to find some new STYLISH threads, I stumbled upon the LOFTS awesome sale!  They are doing 50% off of ALL SALE ITEMS!  And let me tell you, their sale tab is not small.  They have regular sizes, petites sizes, AAAANNNDDD MATERNITY! 

So, hop on over there and see if there is anything that peaks your interest!

If you are struggling with the same thing I am, contact Lauren for some styling advice!   No matter where you live, she can provide you with a style board.  I speak from experience, it is SO nice to have some guidance in this department!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Teaching Enthusiasm

I think most people, especially my husband, are generally shocked by the emphasis that I put on making sure incoming guests recieve an enthusiastic welcoming, birthday's always have balloons and signs, and general tone of voice in conversation. For some reason, these are things that I have always been very adamant about.

While I know my children will gain some of these qualities by my example, I also know the responsibility I have to teach them about enthusiasm. I am currently reading TLC's The Duggars 2nd book. In both of their books, they have had some incredible insights. One of my favorites was this one:  
"We teach them [our children] to overcome shyness by constantly reminding them of another foundation of our faith: Jesus' instruction to treat others the way you would want to be treated (Matthew 7:12). To us, it's not cute when our little ones turn away when someone speaks to them, or hide their faces in Mama's skirt, or stare back, wide-eyed and worldess; we believe that behavior is disrespectful of the other person. In contrast, eye contact shows repect; it tells the other person, You're important; You're special. 
Turning away means the child fails to acknowledge the other person, and it also nurtures in the child a self-centered focus, something we want each one to learn to overcome as he or she matures."

This exerpt explains my thoughts pefectly! It's about respect. It's about showing other people that they are worth your time and energy to put forth a little bit of effort on their behalf.

So, just know, that if you spend a birthday with us, you will probably have balloons, a sign, and cake. If you come to visit we will either be waiting in the airport, in the driveway, and possibly even holding signs. If you call, we will answer with "umph" so you know that we are excited to hear from you. And if you speak to us, we will be sure to look you in the eye and answer you. We want you to know that you are important to us and that we appreciate the relationship that we have.

My 'Go To' Kids Gifts

Over the last few years, I have taken note of my favorite toys to give for future presents.  With 3 kids and 6 nieces and nephews (and thats just for now), I'm constantly taking mental notes.  So, here is my current list:

Baby Shower:
 This is an automatic no brainer for me.  I can't tell you how nice it is to be able to communicate, effectively, with a 9 month old.  Not only that, but these DVD's are the only DVD's I could ever get my kids to watch.  AMAZING!

1 Year Old Boy:
Melissa and Doug My First Vehicles

1 Year Old Girl:
Fisher-Price Laugh & Learn Say Please Tea Set
I can't tell you how much use we have gotten out of this!  Definitely a 'go to' gift!

2 Year Old Boy or Girl
Strider Bike
Definitely one of the best purchases we've made!  Balance bikes are pretty awesome and my son, at 3, can ride it with perfect balance.  We gave it to him at his second birthday and within a few months he was riding it with ease.

Do-A-Dot Art

A lot of fun and a lot cleaner than finger paints!

Corduroy & Company

This book was just given to us and we have LOVED it.  It has 11 different stories and has provided a lot of good reading time!

Thats all for now.  I'll add more as I think of them!  I'll be adding some Christmas ideas in November so keep an eye out. 

Do you have any 'Go To' gifts?

A Mama Pet Peeve...Keeping a Center

In general, I am a pretty laid back mom.  I don't usually freak out about too much. 
'What?  Little C is eating dirt?  Great!  She's educating her taste buds!'
And as crazy as it seems, I ENCOURAGE my kids to go play outside without shoes (in appropriate weather, that is).  I grew up only wearing shoes when I had to and I think there is something to be said for not ALWAYS following the 'rules'.  There's a simplicity about being barefoot that I want my kids to learn.
So, given my general laid back, and what I'd like to think common sense, approach to raising children, it takes me off guard when there is something that REALLY bugs me. 
Any mom who has had a newborn KNOWS that when these babies are still tiny, laying on their back, unswaddled, with arms and legs flying is a startling experience.  The teenie tiny babies hate it! 
So, given that information, why, right after you have delivered the baby, do they take the baby over to that table and just leave them flailing and, usually, screaming while they take vitals, etc?  It KILLS ME!!! 
After I had my son, my mom came into the delivery room as they were putting Little P on that table.  As a new mom, I was just watching as he screamed and flailed.  Very simply, my mom walked over and just placed her hand on his belly, bringing him back to the center that he had kept for the previous 10 months in my belly.  He immediately quieted down and the corpsmen were able to continue doing their job.
I know it seems silly, but to me that seems so simple.  These sweet babies have just been balled up in their mommy's tummy and now they are just thrown out there without any security. 
Before having my youngest, we took the tour of the new hospital.  As we walked past the nursery, I saw it again!  Three babies, laying, SCREAMING, in their bassinets as they flailed for dear life because their swaddle had come undone.  For someone who isn't overly sensitive, I got so upset I cried!  Seriously, could one of the nursery nurses stop their conversation and walk over to at least place their hand on the babies bellies or re-swaddle them?  (See, I told you it was a pet peeve!)

Anyways, now, whenever we have a baby, my amazing husband knows that it is his job to give the baby that center while the nurses are doing their job.  It has since become one of my favorite 'hospital' moments because within seconds, you see the power of a daddy. 

Do you have any, not so obvious, pet peeves?

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Adventures of having 2 Under 2

Just weeks after getting home from a 6 month deployment, my husband suggested that I may be pregnant, given my recent complaints.  What?  You're crazy.  No way!  'Our plan' was to wait for a year or so and then try for a baby.  Yea, well, SURPRISE!!!

BAM!: Due Date April 9, 2008

I have to be honest, that was a tough one to swallow.  Nothing that a little bit of time couldn't handle but still tough. 

Fast forward to April 2008, my sweet little boy was born.

He was great, life was great, all was GOOD.  

One evening in October 2008, my husband I start talking about trying for another come February 2009.  I remember telling him that I wanted to get my last 13 lbs off before having another. 

BAM!: Due Date July 15, 2009

WHAT?  Two under two...even more, two under 18 months!?!?!?  Little P and Little C are 15 months apart.  I said I was excited but was actually freaking out just a little bit inside.  We were living VERY far from home with no family within any reasonable distance and my friendships were...developing.  My husband worked 14 hour days and I was going to be on my own.  During my pregnancy, I recieved so much commentary from complete strangers.  Things like:

"Oh wow!  You'll be a busy mom!"
"Wow, thats insane!"

Great!  Awesome!  Thank you so much for calming my fears.  What I found funny was the mom's who had two under two said things like:

"You are going to LOVE it!"
"I love having mine close together.  They are the best of friends!"

By the time I went into labor, I wasn't nervous anymore, just ready to get this started and get into a new routine.  What I didn't know that my little girl would be born ANGRY!  I'm talking M.A.D.  She didn't have colic, she wasn't sick, she did have an irritating diaper rash but nothing that would have explained the RIDICULOUS amount of screaming that came from that little girl!  Holy Cow, what have I gotten myself into!?!?!
SEE, she even LOOKS mad!

Anyways, after about 11 weeks of pure hell trying to keep a handle on this little girl, I was finally able to sit down and look of the logistics of the first few months.  What was it ACTUALLY like to have two under two?  Because I had been so overwhelmed by Little C's ridiculous attitude, I hadn't even realized that handling two under two was no issue at all.  In fact, I realized that it had made my life a lot simpler because I had to be more organized in order for my days to run smoothly.  Even more, because I had such a crazy daughter to handle, I didn't have time to worry and fixate over stuff that wasn't ACTUALLY important.  When it came to the practical day to day stuff, I just put them on the same routine.  They napped at the same time, went to bed at the same time, and ate at the same time.  It probably took about 8 weeks to get Little C onto his schedule but once it was done, it was great!

Now, 2.5 years later (and one more baby added...that story later) I can't say enough about having two under two.  I. LOVE. IT!  They are the absolute best of friends and they teach each other so much.  Not joking, my son potty trained my daughter!  I couldn't have asked for better spacing.  It is awesome!

So, if you are thinking about it or are pregnant with #2 and are freaking out like I did, don't.  There is nothing to worry about!  You will be amazed at the ability of your toddler to love this new sweet baby and then they could grow into the absolute best of friends...INVALUABLE!

The Well Fed, Well Rested Baby-Sleeping

***The post will only cover the sleeping portion of The Well Fed, Well Rested Baby***

One of my absolute, all time favorite gifts I was given when I had my first baby was Dr. Denmarks, 'The Well Fed, Well Rested Baby' DVD.
Now, before I tell you about it, I should preface this by saying that Dr. Denmark is currently the 4th oldest person in the U.S.  She is a pediatrician from Georgia who practiced (loosely towards the end) until she was 103 years old.  She is known for being extremely practical and taking time with each individual child and parent in order to really learn about them before handing out treatment plans or recommendations.  Seriously, wouldn't that be a dream???

Anyways, her DVD is awesome.  First of all, it is hosted by 2 southern ladies who epitomize what it means to be a southern woman.  My husband and I had to watch it the first time just to get the giggles out and then the second time to actually take notes. 

Once we watched it for real we were struck by the basic, common sense way these ladies, instructed by Dr. Denmark, approached newborn sleep.  There was no anxiety around the issue, it was very straight forward. 

1) Babies should sleep on their belly.  While I know this is controversial, the explanation is spot on!  It explains that all mammals are downward facing beings.  Our bodies, especially the digestive tract, are designed to operate best in that manner.  They went on to explain that humans are the ONLY mammal that have even tried to put their young to sleep on their is just not natural.  The also explained that whether it is back sleeping or side sleeping, the change in 'recommended sleep position' is constantly changing.

Watching this part inspired me to do a lot of research on the topic of SIDS and what I found did not exactly line up with everything I had been scared with.  The studies that are practically forced down your throat are not as clear and concise and they want you to believe.  It's important to remember though, that with everything there will always be two schools of thought.  As parents, all we are asked to do is do the necessary research to make sure we are doing whats right for our children, not just be TOLD what to do.

2)  Baby need to be taught how to eat a complete meal.  This was big for me because I was about embark on breastfeeding and, just like any new mom, had no idea what was in store.  This portion gave me an idea of what my goals were for meal time.  They explained that teaching the baby to eat a full meal (i.e. full bottle, nurse both sides, etc) would not only help with digestion and avoiding colic, gas, and acid reflux, but it would also give them the calories they needed to make it through the night.

3) Baby should be kept awake from 6-10pm.  This is the biggest point that has saved us from sleepless nights!  In the DVD, they give you a general nap schedule (depending on age) and when they are super little, keeping them awake from 6-10 is key.  I can tell you, it's hard...REALLY HARD!  The baby will cry, but once you

 put him or her down at 10, he or she will sleep soundly.  When doing this, the shortest stint I have ever gotten was 5 hours...shortest!  If nothing else, this is the one thing we always do from day 1.  I will say, though, that with my youngest, I decided that I didn't want to do it.  So, for two weeks, I was up every 2-3 hours and I was miserable!  So, back to the Dr. Denmark way we went.  I'm telling, MIRACLES! 

Anways, those are three biggest sleeping tips I got from this DVD.  They do have more to say on the topic but these were the three that worked well with our family.  I really do recommend this DVD, if for no other reason than for an outside perspective from the 4th oldest woman in the country.  She must be doing something right!

Mommying when Daddy Isn't Home

Many mom's find themselves home overnight with the kids while dad is gone for work.  Whether its an overnight trip, a weeklong trip, or a year-long deployment, the struggles are all the same! 

Before my husband left for his deployment, I found myself psyching myself up so I wouldn't worry.  And then, when I thought it was all good, I'd wake up in the middle of the night in a dead panic.  What in the world have we gotten ourselves into???  How am I going to care for 3 kids under 3 for six and half myself? 

As we got closer to his 'deploy date', we did more things to prepare myself and my children.  We made a countdown calendar for the wall, a 'kisses from dad' jar, build-a-bear stuffed animals with a voice recording, and my husband recorded a book on video for every week that he would be gone. 

Aside from the obvious fact that you are now playing BOTH roles and have no back-ups, I had to come face to face with the things that I do, as a mother, that have ADVERSE results.  Let me tell you, thats humbling.  My shortcomings became obvious almost immediately and I needed to figure it out if I wanted things to run smoothly.  This was my first lesson.

Secondly, I realized that my son needed 'boy time'.  That meant, finding things that he could do, away from his sisters, that really played into being a boy!  He needed to get dirty, be competitive, and show his 'manly' side.  Yes, believe it or not, a three year old boy DOES have a manly side.  So, I started asking any guy friends that I had to come over and play...ANYTHING.  Throw the baseball, wrestle, go fishing.  Whatever made his little boy heart content.  Once I started acknowledging that boys and girls have different needs and that, innately, I couldn't satisfy all of my sons needs, his general attitude got better. 

And lastly, I learned how important it is to take a break.  Depending on the length of dad's trip, breaks equate to different things.  Whether its going to dinner alone or taking a full 24 hours away from the kids, it is necessary.  What we don't realize at the time is that stress has a tendancy to build up and we don't know we are losing it until we are just about to or already have lost it!  It's important to address this on an ongoing basis instead of a 'rescue me, I'm sinking' basis. 

So, when it comes down to it, my concerns about my kids during my husbands time away had nothing to do with them but, rather, EVERYTHING to do with me as a mom!  The power, more or less, is in my hands and I could make or break this whole experience.  And no matter HOW long your husband is gone, don't shortchange yourself, doing this alone is HARD, and it's okay to admit it!

The Tickle Monster

I'm pretty sure that most people have heard of the tickle monster.  Lately. it has become my most valuable parenting resource...and I'm being completely serious.  With my husband being gone, my oldest child, Little P, can have quite the attitude.  Now, I know that whining and attitudes just come with the age but they are only tolerated to a minimal extent in our home.  Now, little P is a sensetive little soul.  He can really get his feelings hurt and sad pretty quickly so I've had to find new ways of reaching him...enter the tickle monster.

Everytime he goes into one of his 'attitude tackovers' where he is just going to be mad for the sake of being mad,  I just tell him that if he doesn't lose it the tickle monster will attack.  I then count to three and if he hasn't lost the attitude I just start tickling.  More than anything, I just like to break that 'attitudenal shell'. When he is protected by that, I won't get anywhere with him and the cycle will continue but if I can get him giggling and laughing, I can at least get him to a place where he will talk normally. 

Its funny, as I figure these different tactics out with my kiddos, I start seeing them in myself.  When I'm irritated, I do the same thing.  I cloak myself in a 'shell' of irritation and EVERYBODY is going to know about it.  I guess I should start telling my kids to bring out the tickel monster if they see me doing the same thing.  Oh, the power of silliness!

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Stay-at-Home Moms Need Help

Wednesday, August 17, 2011 6:06 AM Comments (134)
I recently went to a playgroup with some other stay-at-home moms, and the subject of having household help came up. One mom admitted that she had a housekeeper come do a deep clean once a month. Two other moms said they had babysitters come a few hours per week. All of them seemed kind of sheepish about their confessions, admitting to having help the way one might admit to smoking a little crack to get through a long day.
There’s this idea out there that it’s self-indulgent for a woman who stays home to have help. After all, the thinking goes, isn’t one of the big benefits of staying home that you don’t have to spend money on childcare? It’s also seen as yet another luxury of the modern era: Moms have been raising kids for thousands of years without babysitters and maids. Why can’t modern women buck up and do the same?
I don’t think it’s self-indulgent at all for stay-at-home moms to have help, especially those who have children who don’t go to school (e.g. homeschoolers or moms of babies and toddlers). In fact, I would say it’s closer to a necessity than a luxury.
When I studied anthropology in college, one of the things that stood out to me the most was the element of community: In pretty much every time and place outside of modern Western culture, people lived around family all their lives. The average person was surrounded by brothers, sisters, cousins, aunts, uncles, nieces and nephews. For women, the work of raising children was not done alone: Younger nieces and cousins would help with the little kids, the women would socialize as they gathered water or washed clothes, all the children playing together around them. This is the kind of life we were designed for.
In contrast, the average modern woman who is out of the workforce lives her life on a suburban desert island. The nearest family member lives miles (if not thousands of miles) away. She doesn’t know all the people on her street, and not many of them have kids anyway. If she’s like many Americans, she’s moved within the past few years, losing any sense of community she’d built in the last place she lived. Any opportunities for socializing with other women involve the herculean effort of packing up all the kids in the car to drive somewhere. She doesn’t even have the age-old mother’s release valve of banishing the kids outside and telling them to come back at mealtime, since safety concerns mean she has to keep them within sight at all times.
This is an incredibly unnatural way to live.
There are, of course, lots of advantages to modern life: We have washing machines and dishwashers to help us with household tasks, and medicine to keep our children healthy. Those things are great blessings that make life easier. But we shouldn’t discount the real challenges that come with living in isolation. For a woman who stays home to hire someone to act as an extra pair of hands around the house isn’t a selfish move that indicates that she’s not fully bought in to raising her kids, as it’s sometimes perceived; in fact, getting a little down time to recharge her own batteries is a necessary condition for being able to serve as well as possible. It’s worth noting that even the religious orders most dedicated to serving others have built-in daily time for breaks and refreshment (such as the Missionaries of Charity, whose daily schedule I once posted here). The Church has always understood that you need regular off-duty time in order to serve to the best of your ability.
I realize that it’s not possible for every woman to afford a babysitter or a maid, and I’m not suggesting that there’s absolutely no way to have a good life without them. But I am suggesting that stay-at-home moms and their husbands re-think where household help falls on the priority list, and bump it up toward the top. If there’s any room in your lifestyle to downgrade in order to free up some of the budget for housecleaning or babysitting, do so. Because while women may have been meant to raise kids, we weren’t meant to do so alone.

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Monday, September 19, 2011

I Believe in Parents Intuition

The other day, my friend asked me what my dream job would be  Not a full-time, kids in daycare kind of job, but something that you could do while still at home with the kiddos.
I told her that I would love to be some sort of a common sense doula to new moms.  Not the kind that help you during labor but, rather, once you get home.  I remember walking in the front door, puttting down the carseat, looking around and saying, "now what?"  Was I supposed to do something right then?  What do mom's DO?  Should I go take a shower?  Wake the baby?  Maybe I should unpack.  I had no clue and quite frankly, it scared me.  I was a new mom with this tiny baby and I had no idea what I was supposed to do with him! 

Thankfully, I had my mom there to help.  My husband was back to work before we got out of the hospital so it was just me and the baby.  My mom was awesome about staying in the background, answering questions when I had them, and showing me her 'been there done there' tricks.  I appreciated it so much. 

I would love to do that for other people.  Having babies these days is more challenging than it was 30 years ago.  Now, you have a study to tell you what you should and shouldn't do for just about anything and a pediatrician following up asking question after question MAKING SURE that you don't break the 'rules'.  There is a lot of pressure to do everything 'right'. 

What I would love to bring to the table with other moms is that there isn't a right or a wrong way.  There is more to the story than statistics.  Use your brain, use your common sense.  Just because you are new to motherhood does NOT mean that you are clueless.  In fact, if more moms would just follow their gut, they'd be shocked at how well they actually do. 

That conversation was the reason I started this site.  I hope to reach out to mom's who are searching for something more than what they are being told is 'right'.  I hope to restore power to the intuition of parents.

What Happens When Mom Gets Sick???

Have you ever noticed that when your kids or husband are sick, their worlds stop and everything is focused on making sure they are comfortable and getting better?  I can't decide whether or not I envy that kind of treatment.  There is something to be said for getting to lay down, watch movies, and have someone cater to your every need.  At the same time, can any mom REALLY ever take off her pack? 

Tonight, I sped off to CVS to beg the pharmacist for some miracle drug for my fever, incredible sore throat, and body aches.  I anxiously told him, "You don't understand, I have three kids at home and my husband is in Afghanistan, I can't get sick!"  Well, guess what, I can get sick. 

Although mom's are pretty amazing and can do, well, MOST things, we still have to take care of ourselves, even it means feeding the kids cereal for dinner so there aren't any dinnertime dishes.  It can be in the little things that give our bodies a break therefore giving attention to other things, such as our immune systems. 

So, we'll see how things go tomorrow morning.  I'm praying that I wake up feeling refreshed, renewed, and fever free but if not, well, I guess I'll just figure it out then.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

When All Else Fails, PLAY!

Every mom has those days where no matter how hard you try, everybody is going to be grumpy and nothing is going to go well.  In my case, those are usually the days when I am trying to complete a list of things to do and it seems like my kids are doing everything in their power to make that NOT happen.  So frustrating!

One day, while venting to my mom about my frustration, she stopped me in my tracks with two words, "well, PLAY!"  And boy was she right!

Usually when our kids are the most rambunctious, needy, or whiny they are feeling somewhat neglected.  In these moments, there is not amount of discipline, hiding, or bribing that can cure your problem.  The only solution is to stop what you are doing and play! 

As moms, we have to balance a lot.  We have the kids, the house, cooking, a husband, friends, the family schedule, and any other project we may have taken on.  While we have a running list of things to do in our head, our kids just want one thing, our attention.  They want to see their mom laugh, be silly, and be interested in their crazy world of imagination. 

While its hard for us remember, when it comes down to it, spending quality time with our children is the most important thing on our list of things to do.  Our toilets aren't going anywhere and eating cereal for dinner won't hurt anybody but you will never get this moment back with your kiddos. 

So, next time you are overcome with frustration because your kids are keeping you from your list of things to do, remember...

Just Spit on It!

When my son, little P, started walking/running, we had to deal with the inevitable drama that surrounded his frequent falls.  I was bound and determined to ignore my maternal instinct to run for him EVERYTIME he found himself on the ground.  Rather, I wanted to give him room to stand back up, dust himself off, and keep going, reassuring him the whole time that he could do it!

I quickly noticed how my reaction directly effected his reaction.  If I looked worried when he fell, he'd cry.  If I looked at him, smiled, and said, "uh oh!  Its okay, get back up!" he'd smile, get back up, and keep moving.  Mommy lesson learned, have control over your facial expressions! 

So, when that first big fall came, the one with blood, I was amazed at how my husband handled it.  He took the same approach that we had taken on the little falls.  He scooped my son up, put him on the picnic table, and told him to spit on it.  GROSS!  Well, it worked.  Little P spit on his boo-boo to 'clean it' and magically felt all better.  Despite the fact that it did actually hurt and needed a bandaid, my husband was able to dedramatize the situation.

As simple as falling down is, especially when your toddler is learning to walk, there is definitely something to be said for learning how your own reactions can either dramatize or deflate a situation.  Our kids watch us with great intensity.  They see everything that we do.  It is in these lessons, that we realize that we have the opportunity to teach self control and confidence even in the simplest of moments.
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