Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Goodbye 2014

2014 can best be described as a beautiful mess.  I look back on the past year and honestly just feel thankful that we are all still in one piece.  My memories are full of exhaustion and hard work, but our pictures tell a much different story.  I am so thankful for the gift of photography that reminds us of the good, the beautiful and the adventure when my mind is too busy to see it all clearly.

We bought a new house

Welcomed a new niece

Became parents

This guy graduated and got a really cool job

We went fishing and kayaking

This chick graduated with the highest honors and we were able to watch!

We had a lot of fun in 2014 and grew in ways we never imagined.  We are excited for 2015 and can't wait to see the adventures that await!  I hope 2014 was good to you and 2015 is even better!  Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Baby's First Christmas

This year Cheistmas was a wild card.  We had no expectations except to just enjoy the festivities with family.  

I am so glad that I didn't have high hopes and dreams for baby's first Christmas, because she did not love it.  All the people, noise and movement made for one very overstimulated baby who wanted to eat and nap a lot!  Since we didn't have big plans, it was a wonderful celebration of Christ's birth with our family...without having to run all over creation or cutting visits short and I was not disappointed one bit.  By the end of the day she figured out how to tear the paper {and put it in her mouth} and we were reminded of the importance of taking breaks and stepping away from the chaos for moments of silence {which we all benefitted from}.

2014 was a crazy year for us.  Much of the year is a blur between the craziness of buying a house, remodeling, losing some very important people, welcoming some new ones into the family, having a baby, sleepless nights and learning to become parents.  Even through the crazy, we have been blessed beyond belief and will look back on this past year with warm hearts, knowing each moment went just as it was intended.  I can't say it was a year I would do over, but it was a year of great learning and great change.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Merry Christmas

It's Christmas week!!! It's finally here!!!  

We wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Tis The Season To Resist Perfection

Resisting the urge for perfection is especially difficult this time of year.  It could be easy to take over with all the decorating, wrapping, cookie baking, ginger bread house making and fancy clothes, but a beautiful, sugary mess can come from having a 3 year old do the work instead.

Here's to a crazy, beautiful holiday mess full of good memories with the ones we love!

How To Have A Happy Baby

At the beginning I told myself and everyone else that my baby required a very strict schedule to be happy.  This was a schedule I had found to be effective and clung to for a sense of control in an otherwise chaotic situation.  I researched sleep studies and feeding schedules.  I read blogs from other mom's about their own schedules and means for creating a happy baby.  I was determined to take back some control.

But then my mom gave me life-changing advice that has stuck with me...

"why make it any harder on yourself"

My ah-ha moment!  Being a mom is hard enough, I don't need to add anything else on top of this already stressful job.  So I stopped worrying about the sleep blogs, schedules and extra work.  I assume my child will not go to college still nursing so I feed her whenever she wants.  I trust that {at some point} she will sleep in her own bed so I welcome her in mine when she needs it.  And I have enough clothes and blankets for the week so that laundry can be done fewer times.  

By focusing less on my need for a schedule, I can better understand her cues and work to meet her needs to grow and thrive.  After all, she already knows what she needs to be happy, which makes her the perfect teacher.  

Plus less time researching what makes a happy baby leaves more time to enjoy the happy baby right in front of me...I mean just look at those cheeks!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Why Breastfeeding Is The Lazy Choice

*this post is not a judgemental suggestion that one method of feeding is better than another! I support all parents who choose to feed their babies...this is ONLY a sarcastic reaction to a personal experience*

An acquaintance recently asked how my 6 month old was eating.  When I explained I was {still} breastfeeding {and it is going well} she was obviously surprised, but attempted to show her support by saying, "well that really is the easiest choice", as if I am choosing to breastfeed only out of ease or convenience.  I considered this statement objectively {of course} and realized that breastfeeding is, in fact, not only the easy and convenient choice, but also it is actually the completely lazy choice.

So here are my lazy reasons for choosing to breastfeed...

I don't pay for my child's food with money.  Sure I spend half my life either nursing or working around her eating schedule and spend more in groceries because of my {huge} increase in appetite, but I don't actually buy my child's food so I never have to go to the store to get more - lazy and cheap.

My child's food supply does not run out and does not require extra space so it is easy to pack food for a trip or outing. Of course, she cannot go far without me and since no one else can feed her, I have sole responsibility for her nourishment...what a relief for my husband who knows he can easily get away and can easily sleep through the night.

A Natural Sleep Agent
I know {without much doubt} that my child will fall asleep if she needs a nap, it's bedtime or she wakes up in the middle of the night if I nurse, even just for a few minutes to comfort her to sleep.  And, at night, I am even so lazy as to not get out of bed or even sit up at times when I feed her.

An Effortless Exercise Routine
I do not go to the gym, but I know I will burn 1,000 calories a day just by feeding my baby.

A Standing Excuse
I can use breastfeeding as an excuse to leave any event, step away from any situation and reject any invitation by claiming a need for privacy...especially now that she is nosey and requires a semi-quiet atmosphere without many distractions.

The Perfect Reason to Sit on my rear
Even on the craziest of days, I am not only encouraged, but actually required to take a break to sit with my baby...just the two of us for as long as she needs...lazy, lazy, lazy.

What are your lazy reasons for feeding your baby???

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

6 months!

Half a year has flown by and you are getting so big!  You have quite the personality and we love getting to know you better and better.  This month you played in your first snow, celebrated your first turkey day and started to sit up on your own!  You have a mohawk and you are finally getting some rolls to squeeze.  You are a busy little bee and extremely inquisitive {GiGi says that's better than nosey}.  We love you to the moon and can't wait to see what the next six months have in store!  Happy 6 months sweet girl!

Thursday, December 4, 2014

A Letter About Sleep From My 5 Month Old

Dear Mommy,

Between 8 and 8:30 p.m. you need to get me ready for bed.  I can be flexible here if I am distracted but if you wait till 8:30 I will start to scream....push it till 9 and you might as well forget about the next two hours, I will scream and play and refuse to eat so I can teach you the importance of a schedule.  At 9:00 sharp I would like to nurse for approximately 30 minutes and then suck just for comfort for another 10-15 minutes.  During the day Dad or GiGi can give me a bottle of milk you pumped, but don't even think about pulling that $#!& with me before bed.  After sucking for 10-15 minutes you may think it's ok to close up shop and give me my pacifier....this may or may not work, good luck.  If it doesn't work you should open the breastaurants back up to start my nightly routine over again.  If it does work I would like to be held for exactly 37 minutes and 23 seconds before you try to lay me down.  If you try too soon I will wake up, if you are too late I will wake up.  

Once I am sleeping in the crib I will stay asleep for approximately 3 minutes to 4 hours.  It will be an exciting mystery, but know I will most certainly wake up the moment you pass out and not a minute sooner.  I will play with my toes and coo for a few minutes, but please know that won't last.  It may seem like I don't need anything and that I am happy, but in 3, 2, 1....I will start to scream at the top of my lungs because I am learning to make all kinds of noises and I want to share it with the entire neighborhood.  I know you will come get me because you have taught me that I can trust you so the minute you pick me up I will fall right back to sleep.  Don't be fooled - it may seem like I am sound asleep, but wait a few extra minutes before laying me back down because I am secretly waiting for that moment, I thought we were playing peek-a-boo.  Of course you could just put me in bed with you and I will cuddle up next to you and we can both sleep for the next 6 hours, your choice.  You could also just feed me for a few minutes to ensure I slide back into that milk coma and we will all be happy.

Isn't it funny how you were the perfect parent before you had me?  All those things you said you would never do go out the window at 3:00 in the morning.  It's ok though, I think you are great - that's why I want to spend so much time with you.  You might think we spend a lot of time together during the day, but it's just not enough...I am so glad we have nighttime too!

Love, A

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

5 Tips for Helping Your Child at the Dentist

I recently went to the dentist for a cleaning and while I was checking out, I witnessed a mom whisper to the secretary and the hygienist that her daughter {who was innocently playing with the toys} thought she was only there for a cleaning and no one was to tell her otherwise.  Every ounce of my being was in complete shock and it took everything in me not to yell out in horror.  This poor little girl, who might have been 8 years old, was about to walk in to an experience she knew nothing about and was never prepared for.  I wished so badly that I could sit with her, explain what was about to happen and reassure her that these were helpers, not bad guys, who were about to make things better.  I would tell her it might hurt, but there are things we can do together to ease the pain.  I would ask her if she had any questions because her imagination could be much scarier than reality.

The dentist does not have to be a scary place, but so many children and adults are scared because of bad experiences, feeling lied to about the process and, of course, the unknown.  Honesty is the best policy although many parents don't know how to explain dental procedures and very few practices have child life specialists or other developmental specialists to ease the experience. Without these resources or the knowledge to support a child, it can be difficult, but it does not have to be impossible.  Here are 5 tips to ease the anxiety of a school-aged child going to the dentist....

1. Take some sort of music player and headphones
Listening to music can be a great distraction and can eliminate some of the other sounds during the appointment.  This is also a great way to discourage the practioner from talking to a person who does not find it easy or pleasant to talk while having a mouth full of hands, a little mirror, spit sucker, teeth picker and floss.

2.  Teach nose breathing
Deep breathing can reduce stress and calm nerves, however it is extremely difficult to use deep breathing while at the dentist.  A great alternative is to focus on breathing through the nose, slowly.  This can also be a great distraction as the attention shifts from mouth to nose.  Practicing in the car or waiting room before the appointment will make a huge difference.

3.  Ask to hear the sounds before each tool is used
Dental equipment makes weird noises.  It is vital that each tool is explained before being put into the patients mouth.  Parents can be great advocates by asking and reminding the practitioner to explain each piece of equipment and allow the child to hear how it sounds.

4.  Choose a safety sign
By choosing a safety sign before the appointment the child can have some control in the experience and have a plan if the appointment becomes too stressful, scary or overwhelming.  This sign could be lifting the left hand, pointing at a parent, or raising a leg.  This sign signifies the need for a break and should be used to prevent biting, hitting or kicking the practitioner.  In order for this to work, everyone in the room must know what the safety sign is.

5.  Make time-out cards
For the extremely anxious child, creating time-out cards can give a sense of control and a more productive visit.  The child must know that the entire exam must be completed, but have the opportunity to take 3-5 breaks if needed.  Make cards that say 15, 30, and 60 seconds.  These cards are held by the child and can be turned in when a break is needed.  When the cards are used up, there may be no more breaks.

Regardless of the amount of anxiety or success of distraction, remember to always be honest.  It's not easy, but it will build a relationship of trust between you and your child AND leave less to the imagination which can often be worse than reality.

For anxious preschoolers, parents can hold them in the chair to encourage a sense of safety and security.  It can also be extremely helpful to show the equipment and hear the sounds before using each tool.  There should be no surprises!

Monday, December 1, 2014

Rainy Day Fun

Sometimes all you need are your pajamas, a box and some crayons.

This is the perfect time of year to find boxes the size of rocket ships, trains or secret fortresses.  Don't forget to save those large boxes from presents or appliances to bring out on a rainy day - they take up a little space if you break them down, but they can promise hours of creativity and imagination.  

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

A Thankful Heart

The past year I have worked to adopt a mindset of gratitude.  Everyday I took a minute to find something to be thankful for....some days it was easier than others, but as the year went on it became a habit that has brought so much joy, reduced my stress and left me wanting for so much less.  There were a few mountains to climb over the year {some took longer to climb than others}, but I truly believe I made it to the top each time because of this new choice to acknowledge my very many blessings each day.

This Thanksgiving I am especially thankful for the love of my Heavenly Father, the little girl who made me a mom, a husband who is excited to live this life with me, a supportive and present family, a house that has become a home, joy unspeakable, friends who have climbed to the mountain top with me and the excitement of what tomorrow may bring.

Happy Thanksgiving dear friends!

Monday, November 24, 2014

The Other Woman

I recently found out about the other woman in my husband's life...he has been with her for about five months now and it seems like he is falling hard.  I don't understand because she is not his type at all, at least not what I know his type to be after eight years together.  She is moody, emotional and rarely seems available to him.  She is consumed and completely obsessed with her new job and can't seem to find anything else to talk about.  This new job takes so much of her time that she doesn't have much time to devote to herself {let alone to him} and she has gotten terribly comfortable in yoga pants and hoodies.  I mean come on lady, would it kill ya to put on a real outfit?  Or at least slap on some lip gloss? 

She seems like a hot mess and I really don't know what he sees in her.  Plus I don't know what's worse, seeing him so dedicated to this crazy or feeling like she is the complete opposite of me.  After eight years together, four of which we have been married, we have been through so much.  We have had our fair share of hard times, but so many more good times from college memories, football games, traveling, moving, buying our first house, and so many adventures.  To go from a spontaneous, fun woman who was ready for anything to this structured, {a little bit} neurotic woman must not have been easy and seems like a real bummer.  I don't know why he would want to do that but, the truth is, I am so glad he did! 

I am not the same woman I was the day we got married and I am definitely not the same woman I was before I became a mom, but my husband has been amazing through all the changes.  He is dedicated to me and our family and he says he loves this new woman even more!  We are both different people since we became parents and, while I may miss the old me once in awhile, the truth is this new woman is pretty amazing and I am actually starting to really like her.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Making a Christmas Wish List

Remember when you were little and that magical piece of mail came to your house?  If your mom was smart she waited to show you till Saturday morning because it was guaranteed to give an hour or two of peace and quiet.  And once it was in your hands there was no going back.  With that magazine and a pen you would run off to circle "just a few things" you might like to open on Christmas morning.  After carefully looking over your options, maybe reviewing first and then going back a second time, you knew at least half the book should be yours this Christmas and you prepared your list.  

It's that time of the year.  Children and adults are making their wish lists in preparation for whoever puts those gifts under the tree.  Now imagine you made that list but had no one to give it to...  Or you got the most wonderful gift, but had no one to share it with...  It's not quite as magical, huh?  Actually preparing, making the list, looking through the magazine - it would all be a waste.  

What if you had to choose between only receiving one gift, but you had someone who loved you so much that she couldn't wait to share in your happiness and use that one gift to make lasting memories OR you could have a room full of gifts, but not one single person to love you or share in your joy...  

Most adults would choose love and memories over gifts.  Children are the same way.  Sure our society has brainwashed us into thinking material items = love, but when it comes down to it, human beings need and desire human connection more than anything else.

This year choose memories over money and experiences over excess.  Make new traditions, keep old traditions and take time to enjoy the people around you - most importantly, don't let this holiday slip by without taking time to PLAY!

What is your favorite holiday memory?

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Activity :: Changing Seasons Tree

One of my favorite activities to do with patients is this tree showing the different seasons.

It works best with school age kiddos and sometimes adolescents, especially artistic adolescents.  We first talk about the changes that come with each new season and the pros and cons of those changes.  This is a good way to see how individuals have unique feelings, opinions and interests.  It is also a good way to discuss change as it occurs naturally on earth and in life.

I used this project in a grief group for siblings who had lost a brother or sister in the PICU.  It was a group of six siblings between the ages of 6 and 11.  For the privacy of each child I will not show their trees although I will say there was some powerful work done as each carefully considered the changes that have come since their loss.  

Some therapeutic activities do not elicit much conversation this one, however, ended up with over 20 minutes of discussion.  Each child chose to share (although not required to) and each carefully explained the changes that have occurred in their life, as well as, changes they wish to see in the future.

These changes included an empty chair at the dinner table, a mom who went back to work, loss of a playmate and an empty bunk bed in a shared room.  One brave child even communicated her wish that her brother's room would be cleaned out so the family could stop pretending he was coming back.

I love using art in therapeutic activities because so much work is done in the process of creating and children benefit greatly from the freedom to be creative in a safe space without the need to use words as a means of communicating.

This activity could be used to work through many different changes including:  moving to a new city, changing schools, adding to the family, divorce and so many more.  What ways have you used trees for therapeutic activities?

Sunday, November 16, 2014

5 Things Every New Mom Should Stock Up On Before Cold Season

You know the commercial where a dad asks for a sick day, but of course he doesn't get it...instead he gets a huge dose of cold medicine and a smile.  It's funny until it's you.  Not so funny anymore.  And you know what else isn't funny?  Breast feeding moms can't take that particular medicine so what do they get? A sticker? A popsicle?  Because we all know they aren't getting an uninterrupted night sleep to fight off that nasty cold.

I am just getting over one of the worst colds of my life.  It knocked me down for a week and, trust me, it was not pretty.  Not only am I the world's ugliest sick person, but add in exhaustion from not sleeping in five months, a selfish sense of entitlement and overall grumpiness toward the world in general - you can imagine the hot mess my husband came home to everyday.  

Now all you veteran moms can laugh or stop reading because you have been there, done that.  But try to remember the first time you were sick as a new mom and don't send too much judgement my way.  But to all the new moms who haven't gotten sick yet, prepare now

Here are the top 5 things you should have on hand before sickness strikes....

1.  Tissues - don't mess around, splurge for the ones with lotion but if they invent tissues plus a local anesthetic forget all other means of blowing your nose and jump head first into those bad boys

2.  Cough drops - these serve three purposes which include a cough suppressant, relief from a sore throat and a bad breath cover-up from cold breath OR forgetting to brush your teeth {maybe have these handy for everyday use}

3.  A comfy pillow - if by some great miracle you are able to lay down, you should have the most magical pile of fluff to rest your head on, but we all know that is not likely so you might as well have a nice pillow on that unmade bed in case anyone is bold enough to come nosing around while you are sick

4.  A bottle of wine - if you already have a stuffy nose, watery eyes and congested lungs why not add a dizzy head

5.  A clone of yourself - with this clone you will have all the time you need to rest and will not actually need items 1 through 4 at all.  Of course if you are able to clone yourself, you probably are also able to fight off infection like a super hero and shouldn't have even read this post to begin with.

Best of luck this cold season my fellow warriors!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

{Thankful} Thoughts

Lately I have been especially thankful for my little family that doesn't seem quite so intimidating

for friends who love those little cheeks at first sight

and for words that inspire me to seize the day
A thankful heart make the world a prettier place!  What are you thankful for?

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

November is National Adoption Month

I will never forget the day that the desire to was imprinted on my heart.  I have always hoped to adopt and support those in the process of adopting, but one little guy showed me that having a plan or a hope isn't near enough - there has to be action behind that hope that makes a difference.

This little guy, let's call him John, changed my life when I was very new in the field of child life.  At 12 years old, John was a member of one of the roughest gangs, had been in six foster homes, one group home and three schools.  He had met two of his biological siblings briefly, but they were never placed together so he grew up alone.  His mom had tried to keep them together, but her addiction got her into trouble and left her unable to even visit John.  He never knew his dad.  

John came to the hospital after being involved in a high speed car accident in which he was one of the drivers.  His injuries included a long list of extremely painful problems that required multiple surgeries to correct leaving him in the hospital for many months.  The only visitors allowed to see him were his current foster parents who came only one time during his admission and his social worker.

At first, John was to cool for me and seemed annoyed by my daily visits.  I would bring activities and often end up doing them alone as he sat silently, seeming to count down each minute till I would leave. One day his physical therapist told me he was able to get out of bed and actually needed to ambulated but was refusing.  I taped two huge pieces of butcher paper {one for him and one for me} on the wall of his room and provided him with every art supply I could find to fill it up.....pencils, markers, crayons, paint, glue, etc.  That day I sat with my back to him and quietly colored on my paper.  Everyday for the next week I came in and did the same thing until one day I was paged by his nurse and came to find him sitting at his blank paper.  He had walked over to it which was a huge accomplishment and had asked for me to come early.  We sat there in silence for two hours filling that paper with color.  This continued until he no longer had room on his paper from a sitting position and requested physical therapy come to assist him in standing.  I tried not to show my excitement, but I couldn't keep the smile off my face!

We continued to build rapport and John continued to build his strength despite a few set backs that landed him in the ICU for a short period of time.  Eventually, he was ready for discharge, but his placement was uncertain.  When those details seemed to be worked out, the day finally came.  We talked extensively about leaving the hospital, starting fresh at a new school and identified reliable support people outside of the relationships he built in the hospital.  We planned a discharge party for the big day, staff came by to say goodbye and John prepared to leave, but no one came.  We waited most of the day until we finally reached his social worker and learned his housing plans fell through and he would not be leaving.  On the outside John appeared to be thrilled because he would be staying a few more days, but I wondered what feelings were tearing through him and my heart shattered.  I didn't have to wonder for long because John said, "I wish I could just come live with you, you wouldn't forget me".  He knew this wasn't possible, but the idea that he felt forgotten and otherwise alone outside the hospital was heartbreaking.  

John was discharged to a foster family where he stayed for about three months before running away.  He was homeless for a few months and tragically killed in a gang related fight at 14 years old.  I often wonder if his life would have been different if he had felt remembered, if someone had taken the time to invest sooner.....

Adoption isn't an option for everyone, but providing support is.  Supporting a family who is in the process of adoption or volunteering for an organization that reaches out to at-risk kids can allow one more child to feel remembered.  November is National Adoption Month, but it's so much more than that to the hundreds of thousands of children waiting for a home in the U.S. alone.

*all identifying information has been changed for the privacy of the patient*

Monday, November 10, 2014

5 Months

How are you 5 months already?  Happy Birthday my dear!  We love making you laugh and listening to you talk!  You have so much to say these days and you love to share it with anyone who wants to listen.  This month you learned how to roll, went on your first trip to the beach and finally grew out of your 0-3 month clothes!  You are such a little peanut.  You chew on anything you can find {especially daddy's hand and your toes} and now prefer to sit up so you can be involved in everything that's going on.  Thank you for your kisses, your patience and your morning smiles.  You bring so much joy to our lives!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Family Vacation to Virginia Beach

Two weeks ago we went on our first little family vacation.  Despite all the anxiety leading up to the trip, it actually went remarkably well.  We have survived on a strict schedule for 4 months which has worked well in creating a lovely, peaceful relationship between mommy and baby.  We do not have the spontaneous baby that is up for anything and will sleep anywhere so taking her on this road trip was a little unnerving.  She also does not have the best record in the car so a 7 hour drive seemed a little scary.

After being reminded by a dear friend to take a deep breath, we over packed the car and arrived without even a hiccup.  She did great and was semi-flexible throughout the entire trip!  We learned the importance of attempting to maintain our schedule regardless of our plans and we all decided we miss the beach and our friends {maybe a trip right before winter wasn't the best idea}. 

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

5 Questions to Finding the Perfect Pediatrician

Searching for a pediatrician that you trust and feel comfortable with can be a daunting task.  To ask another person to join your team to care for your child is not a job many take lightly.  But there are excellent practitioners out there whose goal is to partner with you to ensure your child continues to grow and develop on track.  When you have a pediatrician who can play through an assessment, you know you have hit the jackpot!

After working in a children's hospital and then going through four pediatricians with my own child, I have learned so much about what not to allow in the exam room.  It is important to find a pediatrician that fits with your family and one that you trust to care for your child.  Moms and dads want to fix every problem, but the truth is that at some point you will need some help so finding a doctor you trust is essential in providing for your child.

1.  Does the pediatrician engage your child?
This should be obvious, but unfortunately it does not always happen.  The child is the patient and whether they are 12 months or 12 years, they should be the focus of the appointment.

2.  Do you feel comfortable answering questions honestly?
Regardless of whether or not your answer will be popular, you are the parent and you are the expert on what works and what doesn't work in your home.  The relationship between a pediatrician and parent/child should be a partnership of open, honest communication. If you are only answering based on what you think your doctor will want to hear, neither of you is fully benefitting from the relationship.

3.  Does the pediatrician make eye contact, actively listen to you and not jump to conclusions?
Again, this may sound obvious, but these are things that should be expected.  Just because a person has the letters M.D., D.O., P.A., N.P, or any other title does not mean that they are above showing common curtesy and respect.  An excellent pediatrician will be able to actively listen while completing the assessment even in a time crunch.

4.  Are the questions asked related to your concerns or only read off a list?
All practitioners have a number of questions they must ask in order to fully assess your child.  Often these questions are standardized and give a clear picture of the patient.  It is, however, important that the pediatrician is able to deviate from their mental check-list to address your concerns.  

5.  Do you feel known by your pediatrician or just like one of the masses even after years of visits?
In some practices, it can feel overwhelming to walk in and feel just like another number.  This does not have to be the case as some practitioners are better at personalizing the experience than others.

These things are important to me and I understand they may not be a make or break for others.  The most important thing is finding someone who will provide excellent care for your child.  Write down what areas are important to you and don't be afraid to keep searching until you find the best fit.

Monday, October 27, 2014

A Letter to Mommies Whose Babies are in Heaven

My dear mommy friend whose baby is waiting for you in Heaven,
You are on my heart this month and always.  I don't know what to say when I see you - not that there are any words - but I want you to know that your baby's life counted to me.  I am here to grieve with you, celebrate with you and just be with you if you'll let me.  I want you to know that I want to see pictures if you have them, hear your stories if you will share them and talk about how mommyhood has changed us {the good, the bad and the ugly}.  I know that regardless of whether or not you have babies here on earth to hold, there will always be part of your heart longing for the one(s) missing from your arms.  I may not understand that longing, but, if you'll let me, I will be with you through it.  Know that you are loved, your baby is remembered and your family is not forgotten. 

October is a month all about raising awareness.  Many know it is Breast Cancer awareness month, but did you know it is Pregnancy and Infant Loss awareness month as well?  This has been an area heavy on my heart as many of my family and friends have walked this dark path with little support or recognition of the loss they have experienced.  It is hard to find words to say when a parent loses a child, but that doesn't mean it should be ignored or that we shouldn't keep trying to love on these grieving parents {and siblings}.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Prayer of a Tired Mama

Dear Lord,
Thank you for this day and for helping us to make it through, I was so tired but you gave me the energy I needed.........{I wonder if she will sleep through the night, I really need to fall asleep fast}...Please be with this sweet baby.  Keep her healthy and help her to have peaceful sleep......{I wonder what I should do about nap time, surely she should be napping more than 30 minutes at a stretch but honestly if I look at one more sleep blog}.....please help me to know how to be a good parent to her....{Did I get the laundry out of the drier.  Shoot I think there is some in the washer AND the drier.  I should go get it....nah I will try again tomorrow}.....Thank you for my amazing husband who works so hard to provide for us.  Help him to get good sleep......{but if she wakes up it would be nice for him to wake up with me.  Why would he do that?  We both shouldn't be awake}. Please keep us all healthy........{if Ebola comes here we should move to the mountains, I should tell Jared that}.  And please help my mind to slow down enough to get some peaceful sleep.  Thank you for your love and provision.  Amen.

One of the best, most surprising miracles I have experienced since becoming a mom is God's grace. Even when my mind wanders and I feel completely empty, He gives me just enough to carry on.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

4 Months

You are getting so big and we are in awe of how you are growing and learning new things everyday.  You have recently discovered your toes taste good, sleep is for the birds and how to blow spit bubbles. We love your stories, your laughs and your morning stretches.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

This Beautiful Moment

I choose to treasure this day, this moment and this stage of life with my family because I will never get this time back.  Yes, it's hard and sure, some days I might wish away, but when so many people are telling me to hold tight to these moments, how can I do anything but trust their advice?  This is a lesson I don't want to learn for myself.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Must-haves from some of my favorite moms

I am not lying when I say that recommendations from other moms made a huge difference in my search for baby necessities.  I was constantly searching online and asking my friends and family for their advice to have a better guess as to what might be helpful as I prepare for baby.  So as a follow-up to my post yesterday, here are some must-haves from moms who have influenced my parenting journey.

1. Lansinoh Manual Breast Pump
2. Sakura Bloom Ring Sling
3. Earth Mama Angel Baby Nipple Butter
4. Organic Breast Pads
5. Co-sleeper Bassinet

1. Madela Electric Breast Pump
2. Fisher Price Swing
3. Aden & Anais Swaddle Blankets
4. Ergo Baby Carrier

1. Madela Elecrtic Breast Pump
2. A good camera for capturing all those wonderful moments
3. Skype to keep in touch with family and friends around the world
4. Fisher Price Swing

1. Aden and Anais Swaddle Blankets
2. Angelcare Monitor
3. Soothie Pacifier
4. Ergo Baby Carrier
5. 4moms Mamaroo

Monday, October 6, 2014

5 Things I Could Not Live Without As A New Mom

When I was pregnant, I was positive that I could survive without all the stuff that often comes with babies.  I wanted to adopt a minimalist approach to parenthood and attempt to have a happy, healthy baby without all the extras.  Now, after three months, I think I have achieved that goal {I do not assume this lifestyle will continue, but for now it's lovely}.  

There are, however, five things that I use every day and cannot imagine life without.  And since recommendations from other moms were so helpful to me, I wanted to share my own.  

1. Aden and Anais Swaddle Plus
I knew a few people who swore by these blankets, but I did not think they were a necessity mostly due to price.  I was, however, gifted two packs at my baby shower and I can honestly say they are worth every penny!  They were the perfect swaddle blanket and now we use them as security blankets, stroller covers, nursing covers, a clean place to lay out in public and so much more.  When we wear them out (because I know we will), I will definitely buy more.

2. Sakura Bloom Ring Sling
Again, I never would have guessed how this baby carrier would change my life.  I was gifted one by my sister and use it daily for walks, nap time and just to get things done around the house.  This magical carrier promises a good nap and, in the first two months, instantly calmed an otherwise fussy baby.  This particular brand of ring sling is rather expensive but I know there are other brands out there, I just don't know how they compare in price.

3. Bumbo Seat
Recently we are started to use this seat all day.  My little one loves to sit up and see everything so it is perfect since she doesn't have the best head control yet and cannot sit up by herself.  Even though we will only use it for a short period of time, I am so thankful we have it now as she builds up those muscles.

4. Play Mat
My girl would rather lay on her play mat then ever be held.  She would play all day if we let her so this mat has saved a lot of tears.  I have also found it is perfect for company because people can easily interact with her even though she doesn't love to be held.

5. Sound Machine
The sound machine has created a peaceful place for sleep.  We all sleep better and longer with background noise.  This particular sound machine came from Bed Bath and Beyond and has five different sounds.  We typically use the ocean because it's calming to me and the variation helps baby to sleep through other noise, but the other sounds include white noise, a thunder storm and a stream.  It does not have a heartbeat option as many sound machines do, which is the only thing I would change about it.

What items have you come to love as a parent?

*i was not compensated for this review in any way and all ideas are based on my own opinion and experience

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Headband Winners

With so many wonderful entries, it was impossible to choose just one.  So we decided to split the prize between two winners!  Congratulations to Jess W. And Danae S. who won two headbands each from Cunningham's Custom Creations!  They will be in the mail and we can't wait to see how they look!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Guest Post || International Babywearing Week

If you were to ask me what has been the biggest game changer in my journey through motherhood I would answer in a heartbeat without any hesitation: babywearing.  Actually it would probably be more like BABYWEARING! because I am so psyched about the ability to keep my little one close while still being able to get stuff done.
But I digress.
This post is dedicated to all of the reasons you should try babywearing and some safety tips for starting out.  This is neither a scholarly article nor a research paper so my sources are pretty broad and, if you are interested, you can email me for more information.  The majority of this evidence can be found on the Babywearing International website and I would encourage you to check it out if you have any questions or concerns that I don’t cover. Also I think it is important to point out that this is not a conclusive study on babywearing safety and you are responsible for the safety of your child as well as that of yourself.  It is very important to learn how to use the type of carrier that you choose properly and to always keep safety in mind.
Babywearing is, by definition, the practice of wearing your little one in a sling or carrier (thanks for that Wikipedia). In all truth, babywearing is about so much more than just putting your baby in a carrier. Babywearing is also about convenience, bonding, and improving the overall health and happiness of your child (and you too!).
Putting your little one in a baby carrier can be immensely freeing.  It gives you the opportunity to take care of older children, do chores, run errands, or a number of other tasks without lugging around a bulky car seat or taking frequent breaks to help a distraught baby. Baby carriers can go places that strollers can’t go and some of feelings of isolation and confinement can be overcome by simply taking a walk and meeting other parent friends.  Sometimes having the freedom to get out of the house without having to navigate a stroller through the aisles of store can make a new mom or dad feel like they can “do” this whole parenting thing.
Babywearing is a great way to bond with a new baby. By holding the baby close, dads, grandparents, and other adults in the baby’s life are able to form strong attachments. This bonding can be extremely useful for babies that are breastfed because it helps them to trust important people in their lives beside their mothers, giving mom a break from being the sole provider for a new baby. New moms can be incredibly overwhelmed with having another person literally attached to them at all hours and having another adult, such as the dad or a grandparent, hold the baby for a time can be extremely beneficial. But don’t be fooled, the benefits of babywearing are for all parents and babies, no matter what choices you make in your parenting journey!
For babies born early or those with special needs, babywearing can be beneficial health-wise. Research has shown that premature babies who are touched or held gain weight faster and are overall healthier than those babies who are not.  Babies who are held close and ideally skin-to-skin experience a regulation in breathing and heart rate as they sync up to the adult who is holding them. Just check out some of the great information from one of my favorite products for preemies, the NuRoo (
One of the most important topics to discuss surrounding babywearing is safety. It is easy to talk about all the benefits and really sell a parent on the idea but the safety behind babywearing is really the most important part of keeping your little one close.  It is important to point out that, just because a product is made and sold in baby stores, does not mean that it is safe to use. And, while babywearing is extremely convenient and comfortable, it should not keep you from frequently checking on your child. The following rules are taken right from the BWI chapter of Southeastern Pa website. (

A Few Absolute Rules:

1. Make sure your baby can breathe. Baby carriers allow parents to be hands-free to do other things … but you must always remain active in caring for your child. No baby carrier can ensure that your baby always has an open airway; that’s your job.
       a. Never allow a baby to be carried, held, or placed in such a way that his chin is curled against his chest. This rule applies to babies being held in arms, in baby carriers, in infant car seats, or in any other kind of seat or situation. This position can restrict the baby’s ability to breathe. Newborns lack the muscle control to open their airways. They need good back support in carriers so that they don’t slump into the chin-to-chest position.
        b. Never allow a baby’s head and face to be covered with fabric. Covering a baby’s head and face can cause her to “rebreathe” the same air, which is a dangerous situation. Also, covering her head and face keeps you from being able to check on her. Always make sure your baby has plenty of airflow. Check on her frequently.
2. Never jog, run, jump on a trampoline, or do any other activity that subjects your baby to similar shaking or bouncing motion. “This motion can do damage to the baby’s neck, spine and/or brain,” explains the American Chiropractic Association.

3. Never use a baby carrier when riding in a car. Soft baby carriers provide none of the protection that car seats provide.

4. Use only carriers that are appropriate for your baby’s age and weight. For example, frame backpacks can be useful for hiking with older babies and toddlers but aren’t appropriate for babies who can’t sit unassisted for extended periods. Front packs usually have a weight range of 8 to 20 pounds; smaller babies may slip out of the carrier, and larger babies will almost certainly cause back discomfort for the person using the carrier.
5. Choose carriers that mimic carrying in arms
 A carrier should never place your baby in a position that you wouldn't carry them naturally.  Babies would be carried in arms upright on the chest, upright on your hip, cradled while nursing, or even in a piggy back.  You would never carry your baby horizontally at your hips, or smushed under your breasts, therefore you should avoid any carrier which forces you to place your baby in this position.
(Text courtesy of Babywearing International)
Always Remember the T.I.C.K.S. Rule
-In View at all Times
-Close Enough to Kiss
-Keep Chin off the Chest
-Supported Back
Babywearing has literally changed my life. I don’t feel burdened by schedules because both of my babies have slept really well in the carriers and I have even been mastering the art of nursing in a ring sling (and lets be serious, that’s a real art). Having the ability to go places without planning around sleep and eating schedules has changed the way I parent and it has led me to a zen-like place of minimal stress parenting. Maybe that’s overdoing it a bit but in all honesty, I feel like I am a more “laid-back” parent as a result of the convenience of babywearing - I feel like I can do this whole parenting thing!
Now talk to me when I’m parenting these kiddos through the teenage years...
Emily is a SAHM of two who has utilized babywearing for over 3 years.  She has many different baby carriers and has learned the benefits and safety measures of babywearing through classes, workshops and groups available throughout the Philadelphia area.  Feel free to email her at