Monday, March 31, 2014

Homeowner Lessons

While we are extremely excited to be homeowners, we have found our little projects seem to reveal big messes.  When redoing the bathroom, Jared found a soft spot in the wall.  He, of course, investigated and found that there had been a leak at some point which had not been disclosed to us.  Further investigation showed us a huge mess that we will now spend days fixing, which will put us a little behind on the nursery.  

I am sure you expect me to be freaking out, but surprisingly, I am feeling ok.  I feel terrible for Jared as he now has even more on his plate, but lately I have found the joy in not stressing about those things I have no control over and I hope that feeling sticks around!

If you are buying a house or have recently bought a home, my biggest piece of advice is to look out for water and take it seriously.  Water is a wonderful thing, but when it is going into something it shouldn't it can cause big problems.  Search for the problems and fix them immediately!  I am so thankful for a husband who knows how to fix things and will not settle for a temporary fix. 

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Thankful Thursday

Some days it's hard to be thankful.  Life can be confusing, overwhelming and unfair.  On those days friends, family and faith provide strength to keep going and that is something to be thankful for.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

6 and 7 months

Hopefully I do better with the baby book than I am doing tracking my pregnancy!  Things have been crazy busy and before I knew it the third trimester had arrived.  I am feeling good and, other than a heavy belly, I have no complaints.  As my brother says, "it's a strange process" growing a baby and I am still not sure how I feel about it.  But one thing is for sure, it is cool to feel her move around...even kicking so hard that I can see it from the outside {an even stranger experience}.  

There are a few things that I couldn't live without at this point in my pregnancy including:  my body pillow, coconut oil, my lifefactory water bottle from whole foods, snacks in my purse and last but not least, a husband who {for whatever reason} thinks this belly is beautiful and looks forward to talking to it in hopes of a response from the little inside.

To my mama friends:  What items made the third trimester a little easier for you?

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

What's your love language?

Gary Chapman is known for one of his great works where he teaches about the 5 different love languages in which individuals experience and express love.  I highly recommend his book The 5 Love Languages:  The Secret to Love that Lasts for couples.

This book discusses each love language in detail and provides readers with the opportunity to take a quiz to determine his or her own love language.  It can make a huge difference in a marriage.  For example if I show love through spending time with my husband, but he feels most loved by me making him dinner there would be a breakdown in communication and I may leave him feeling unloved without even knowing it. The 5 options include:

1. Words of Affirmation
2. Acts of Service
3. Receiving Gifts
4. Quality Time
5. Physical Touch

My top two are physical touch and words of affirmation, which is no surprise to my friends and family {I tend to have very little personal space}.  You can find your own love language here and there is also an option to learn about your child's love language.  

Children need to feel loved so they can feel valuable and learn to love others, but when their love language is not being spoken a child may feel neglected and alone.  If, on the other hand, a parent or caregiver speaks the child's love language, she is more likely to feel confident, successful and valued.

Do you know your primary love language?  What about your child's love language?

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Thankful Thursday

Today I am thankful for road trips with my mama, the hope of warmer weather and the promise of lots of yummy food and laughter when I am finally reunited with dear friends!

What are you thankful for this week?

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Ring Sling

As my friends and family know, choosing products for my baby has not been an easy or fun task for me.  I do not enjoy clutter and I become overwhelmed when things fill up a space, so the idea of looking through a million strollers, toys, clothes, etc. in search of the perfect items has left me feeling exhausted {pregnant lady problems}.  I try to live by the following quote:

That being said, I know there will be things my baby will NEED and things that make life a lot easier if I have them.  I am so thankful to have experts {especially my mom and sister} surrounding me, to give me helpful advice and to lead me through the entire process.

One of the products I have recently learned that I will NEED in my new adventure of motherhood is a ring sling.  My sister taught me how to use her ring sling and she even allowed me to practice with my niece before my own little arrives.  I was a little nervous at first but found it to be extremely comfortable and efficient.  I am excited to wear my baby and enjoy the benefits of that chest-to-chest contact. 

The ring sling has a long tail that some find annoying, but I think it was great to have something to protect the baby's head from the metal rings and it was also long enough that it could conceal when breast feeding if needed.  

This product can be bought on etsy {again, to many choices}, but there are also several tutorials on pinterest to make your own.  My sister says that if she could only have one carrier, she would choose the ring sling for its simplicity, efficiency and versatility.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Thankful Thursday

Today I am thankful for spring break that brings everyone together under one roof, littles who don't mind being passed around and tough guys who can't help but fall in love at first sight.

What are you thankful for today?

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Helping your school age child at the doctors

Today I was talking to my cousin about a pending doctor appointment for her school aged daughter.  She mentioned that because her daughter doesn't want to be sick she will leave out important details or down-play symptoms to make the illness seem less concerning.  This is a typical reaction for children, but one that can be detrimental in the healing process.  It's not easy, but as a parent, support person or child life specialist there are things that can be done to alleviate some of the stress and stereotypes surrounding illness.  My top five recommendations that I have personally used or have seen to be effective include:

1.  Prepare
Before the appointment, remind your child that a check-up is scheduled and go over the plan for that day.  If your child is in kindergarten through second grade it is wise to remind them the morning of the appointment where an older child may benefit from a day or two advanced notice.  Regardless of the age, it is important for the child to know the plan for the day (i.e. will he be getting out of school early, who will accompany him to the appointment and what should he expect from the medical staff while he is there).  This preparation will give your child the opportunity to work out stressors in their mind, express concerns or fears that can then be addressed and ask questions to clarify any misconceptions.  Without this time to prepare, children can be overcome by fear and stress, but be unable to have the time needed to work through it in their own way.

2.  Empower
Children need to know they have some control and can be responsible for their own body.  When a child is impacted by their own illness, it can be a great opportunity for that child to learn about their own body.  If a child understands that no one knows what's going on in his body better than he does, he can be responsible for sharing symptoms and being a part of the medical team in a new way.  This creates feelings of people doing things for him instead of to him.  Another way to empower a child is to consider whether or not painful stimuli will be used during the appointment.  If a child must experience a painful procedure, he can be empowered by receiving "break cards".  Three cards for a 30 second, 1 minute and 3 minute break can be given to the child to provide him with control and attempt to alleviate some of the stress surrounding the painful procedure.  Please speak with the medical care provider before discussing these cards with your child.  Most providers will be happy to provide this type of control to the child, however, some procedures do not allow for a break.

3.  Support
Anytime a child is experiencing a stressful situation, having the support of a trusted adult will make all the difference.  A child will feel more able to complete the task at hand when he feels supported and believed in.  This support can come through holding hands, encouraging words or even allowing a safe space for tears.

4.  Partner
In a typical medical experience where the patient is an adult, providers will speak directly to the patient.  However, when that patient is a child, the providers may bypass the patient and speak directly to the adult in the room, regardless of whether or not that adult is the parent.  If this occurs, the child may feel more like a specimen than a part of the team.  To change these feelings, it is essential that the adults in the room include the child in conversation, allow him to answer questions about his body and make direct eye contact to keep the child engaged and included.  When a question is asked that the child could answer, it is extremely important to allow the child to have the space and time to answer the question.  Often, adults will allow only 3-5 seconds of silence before answering the question.  This tells the child he does not need to pay attention and his words have little value. 

5.  Communicate
And last, but definitely not least, it is essential that communication be thorough and remain at the child's level.  When adults talk over the child or use big words that the child does not understand, he is left to create meaning and imagine the worst case scenario.  Even when a poor prognosis is being discussed, children should feel included and given the opportunity to communicate in a developmentally appropriate way.  This shows love and respect while clarifying misconceptions and alleviating fear.  A poor prognosis is often not as bad as the ideas a powerful imagination can create in the mind of a child.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Oh Baby

Thank you my wonderful mom who got this book for our little girl

During the beginning of my pregnancy, I had a hard time connecting with this baby.  I was moody and overwhelmed.  Even though I knew things I could do to help my mood and my connection with this pregnancy, I just didn't have the energy to do them.  These feelings have subsided in my second trimester and, over the past couple weeks, I have finally started feeling truly excited to meet her!

Baby girl moves all the time, especially at night when I am trying to sleep.  But recently I have noticed a lot of movement when I am talking or singing in the car.  Of course we know babies are supposed to recognize familiar voices in utero, but it is one of the craziest things to experience when it actually happens.  This book couldn't have come at a better time.  My mood was ready for it and it is long enough to get this baby girl moving.  Sure it could be all coincidence, but for now I am going to take this little joy and run with it.

I love reading and I am most looking forward to story time when our baby arrives, but now I don't have to wait and I have the perfect book for exactly this time in life.  I would definitely recommend it to all mamas-to-be!

What are your favorite children's books?

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Thankful Thursday

Today I am especially thankful for a best friend who survived college with me and made life an exciting adventure.  Even though we are to far a part now, it's nice to know she is always there and what better time to celebrate this friendship than on her birthday!

I am also thankful for a husband who works long days and then comes home to continue on the house renovation.  And for the opportunity to be creative on sunny days that promise spring is just around the corner.

What are you thankful for on this beautiful March day?

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Happy Child Life Month!

March is Child Life Month...a perfect excuse to walk down memory lane!  

I am so proud to be a child life specialist and I am so thankful for each experience that has taught me how to support children and their families during the stressful time of hospitalization.  It's not always easy, but it's always worth it.  

If you are a child life specialist or assistant, thank you for your love for play, your dedication to families and your ability to be flexible in the most difficult {and sometimes awkward} situations.  You make a difference!  

If you know a child life specialist or assistant, make sure you show them some love in the month of March.  It's usually the best job in the world, but those of you who know us know that the rough days require all the love and support you can send our way.

Here's to a month of celebrating the joys of being a child life professional!  And yes, we celebrate all month long.

Children and Boundaries

A missionary who has taught me so much about God and life over the years, Brad Thurston from Globe International posted this quote:  

                        "There is a need for rules, policies, order, governance and laws 
                          in our families, communities, and nations. But the goal of (such 
                          commands ought to be) love, which comes from a pure heart 
                          and a good conscience and a sincere faith."

Today there is a book, article or expert for every perfect parenting style known {and unknown} to man. Each one promises a successful, well-behaved child sure to change the world by their mere existence.  This can become overwhelming to anyone, but for the new, well-meaning parent the stress and pressure of following all these rules can actually take away from the true needs of a child.  If the focus is only on following a manuscript for perfect parenting, the actual needs and desires of the child may be overlooked.

Children are clear in their needs.  While there are many specific needs, I believe their are four general areas to consider:  nourishment, love, boundaries and play.  When these needs are met, children are able to develop, learn and safely explore their world to grow into contributing, successful adults.  It is easy to consider three of the four areas as essential and even obvious; however, when boundary setting comes up, people are often torn.  There is a wide spectrum of beliefs and opinions surrounding boundaries, but what we know from children in their play is that boundaries allow them to feel safe and that, even if none are given to them, children will attempt to create their own boundaries in an effort to gain some control in their world.

Boundaries, created in love, are healthy for adults and children alike.  When healthy boundaries are set, individuals know limits and what to expect out of each relationship.  It is important for parents to determine the rules and boundaries for their family and be consistent in order for children to learn family and societal norms and to experience reliable, healthy relationships with adults.  

As an expectant mom, my husband and I have taken a lot of time to discuss our family of origin.  We want to recreate certain dynamics and other areas we want to steer away from in hopes of creating a family we believe in.  I do not plan on being perfect or having a set plan from day one, but I do plan on loving my children enough to give them rules and boundaries in hopes of creating a relationship of trust, safety and consistency.