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.