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September 2016

    Parenting

    Holding On To That Baby Stage…

    pacifiersThere is almost three and a half years between my first and second baby. Not on purpose, but that is the way life works sometimes. In hindsight, that age gap taught me a few (or a lot) of things about when I wanted to do or not do certain things, or meet certain milestones. And it’s so funny what really gets me concerned now and what has me thinking “well, he’ll do it eventually”.

    At 15 months old, our pediatrician suggested thinking about speech therapy in the next few months because my son was not saying words. So naturally, I really upped my conversation with him and began speaking to him all day every day, pointing things out and naming them. Even with all that, he still didn’t really start talking until about two and now he carries on a conversation like it’s nobody’s business.

    But then with a few other things, I am just holding on to those for as long as I can. With my first, we got rid of the pacifier and had her in a twin bed by about eighteen months. I tried potty training her at two. Tried. She definitely did not want to be ready, so we waited six months and then she potty trained completely in three days. Eighteen months, two years old, those ages seemed so old with my first.

    With my second, I find myself thinking, “But that’s so young! He’s still a baby!”.

    He is two and a half years old. He still has his pacifier, still wears diapers and still sleeps in a crib. The only thing I am slightly considering changing in the near future is slowly getting rid of the pacifier. I am almost certain I will not potty train him or put him in a bed until he is at least three years old.

    For one thing, I quite enjoy my freedom during the day knowing that I won’t have to drop everything in the middle of the store and race to find a bathroom. I also enjoy the fact that when it is nap time, I know that all children are contained to their cribs. Why stop a good thing? And there are actually very few things that compare to the feeling of going to get your baby (however big he may be) out of his crib and having him put his head on your shoulder with his blanket and his pacifier to snuggle for a few more minutes.

    I know that he won’t go to kindergarten in diapers, with a pacifier and come home to go to sleep in his crib. If there is one thing I learned from my first and the lightning speed at which time passed, it’s that they are only babies for a short time. Why rush it?

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    Parenting

    How to exit a sleeping toddler’s room…

    Baby lookingIt’s 7:30. All the children are in bed. You settle onto the couch for some work and/or Netflix-watching.

    8:30. Loud, sad, unrelenting crying comes from behind a closed door. This time, the one in the middle.

    You hurry into to calm the them, so as not to wake the other two.

    8:35. Leave the room and close the door. Silent fist pump. But just as you turn the corner, the cries begin again. This time you know you will have to spend some time in the room.

    8:40. You are now laying on the floor next to the crib, with your hand squeezed through the slats to hold the hand of your saddened toddler.

    8:45. You peek over the side to find eyes closed. Just as you go to lay back down, the eyes pop open. At least another five minutes.

    8:50. You slip your hand out of your toddler’s but stay on the floor. Slow and steady movements are the key.

    8:52. No movement so far, so you slowly sit up and start to inch your way to the door. This could be either sliding in sitting position, or the ever popular army crawl.

    8:53. You reach the door and stand up successfully with no movement from the nearby crib. But then you realize, the door is closed. Rookie mistake. Ever so slowly, you pull the door open. So far so good. Not so fast, just as you are about to sneak out the door, the door creaks very slightly. Eyes pop open. Restart.

    9:05. The entire process has been repeated. This time you leave the door open so you can stealthily make your exit. This time you make it all the way to the couch.

    9:15. Crying again. You sense the pattern and know this will probably go on for a few more hours. So you change up the game and move the crying toddler into your bed.

    9:30. Toddler is fast asleep, in your bed. Snoring even.

    10:30. You finally head to bed. You also decide that relocating said sleeping toddler to their own bed is probably not worth it and both of you will probably get more sleep with this arrangement. So you settle in for a night that includes your very own back massage by way of tiny little feet.

    10:35. Laying in bed, you realize that you don’t really hate this situation. At all.

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    Health & Fitness

    How Fitness Has Changed Me

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    Hint: It has nothing to do with the scale!

    I haven’t ever been truly consistent with exercise. I have run three half marathons, so I did the training for those, but outside of that it has usually been hit or miss.

    After I had my third baby last year, I knew I wanted to be more dedicated to my physical health. I was tired (third baby!), my mind was foggy, and I knew I could do better. I kept a few things in mind as I set out to make my plan.

    First, be consistent. For me this meant I needed to find a gym A few years ago I bought four or five workout DVDs (hi, Jillian Michaels!). I actually love them and still do them when my kids are sick (no germs at the gym), but to be consistent, I needed a place I could physically go to that would keep me motivated.

    Second, make a plan. Once I found a gym (an inexpensive one, with free childcare), I made a plan. For the first few months I just ran on the treadmill, lifted some weights, or wandered around pretending I knew how to work all the other machines. Then one Saturday, I got up the courage to go to a class. Life changed. Now, I have 2-3 classes I go to each week. We drop off my oldest at school and head to the gym. I am motivated to go, because someone else is running the workout, I just have to keep up!

    Third, don’t set yourself up for failure. From the nutrition side of things, I knew I wanted to make healthier choices, but didn’t want to commit to a way of eating that would leave me stressed and overwhelmed. Instead, I just made better choices for me. If we had tacos for dinner, I had taco salad. If we had a meal with rice, I ate it without rice (or I had cauliflower rice, which is surprisingly enjoyable!). I still enjoy treats and all the aforementioned things occasionally, but I was making a conscious effort to make different choices.

    Those three steps were simple and easy for me to follow and over the last few months I have been fairly consistent and the changes I have noticed are significant and have changed how I feel in so many ways:

    • I have a clearer mind and more energy: Now, this is not to say I never want to take a nap around 2 pm. But it has changed from, “I have to take a nap now” to “Well, I’ll just lay here with my eyes closed for a few minutes”.
    • I feel stronger and am generally more confident in how I look and feel: While I have only lost a pound or two over the last several months, I feel so much stronger and feel much more confident. I think it is part the internal knowledge that I am taking care of my body that helps, and the fact that my body is getting stronger and healthier.
    • More patience and generally lifted spirits: Last week as I was buckling up my kids after our gym time, I said, “Okay, do you want to go the library?!” and my two-year-old said, “No, I want to go home”. More energy then my two year old? This is for real.
    • Increased motivation in other areas of my life: As I have made physical health more of a priority in my life, I have been more motivated to focus on other areas of my life. Overall, I feel like all areas of my life have improved since I have implemented this more consistent routine.

    The best part about this for me is that it has been simple. These few changes have been simple, relatively easy changes and additions to my life, but they have made a world of difference for me. Can’t wait to share my future fitness and nutrition goals and plans–another half marathon is in my future, for sure!

    What can you do this week to improve your physical health?

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    Home & DIY

    The Baby’s Room

    There is one room in our house now that I feel is “done”.

    This is our third baby and it is the first time I have gotten to decorate a room solely to be used as a nursery. With our first baby, almost six years ago, we were poor college students, me having just graduated and Brian finishing his last year. We lived in a two bedroom apartment and the “nursery” consisted of a crib being set up in the corner of our “office”. Yet, it was special because it was our first baby. We were making it work and we were making it.

    With our second baby, we lived in a different two bedroom apartment. For the first few months, he slept in our room and then moved in with our oldest. I loved their room because it was sweet to see them share it. I think it provided the foundation for the bond they have now. I also loved the simple decor I was able to set up, now both Brian and I in graduate school (were we gluttons for punishment or what?).

    With our third baby, we live in a house with enough space for her to have her own room. It’s hard to explain, but I felt like I knew her personality before she was born. I knew she would be gentle and delicate, content and simple. I don’t know if she will stay that way throughout her life, but as a baby she is. I wanted her room to reflect that. Here are a few of my favorite aspects of the room:

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    This small gallery is my favorite. It literally took me months to fill the frames. One part, “now I have three kids” and one part, I wanted to find the perfect things to put in the frames. The two pictures of Emma herself are special because they are from her blessing day. I love the one of her little hand and the tiny bracelet, also worn by her older sister on her blessing day. The prints are free printables and I was selective in the words and images because I wanted them to be important words that would lift her up and strengthen her and images that remind her of who she is (a Texan, obviously). Print from here.

    A closer look at some of the details. This set of books is unique and special because it was my mom’s, then I read them, and now I can read them with my girls.
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    Books always make a simple and meaningful decor.

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    This storage unit has made it’s way around our house in different rooms. Right now, it’s place is here.dscn2983

    Simplicity is what I was going for, so on this wall is just the crib and this simple garland from Target that cost a few dollars.
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    That’s it. It’s simple and gentle. There is no clutter and it feels peaceful. I’m slowly working through the other rooms in the house. And let’s not look in the closet in this room yet, shall we? It’s still a storage area.

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    Learning

    Making the Most of that One Library Book

    As is a common theme right now, kindergarten has opened up a whole new world of experiences for us this year. Waking up early, making new friends, begging to buy lunch, and checking out your very own book from the library!

    My daughter was very excited to check out her very own book, choose a bookmark and take care of it all week. She told us all about how they had a lesson about how to care for library books (we’ve had a few mishaps with library books in the past, so this was probably very good information). Now, when children have free reign over their choices at the library, the selections can be…interesting. We are only two weeks into this whole library book excitement, but I am hoping to find a way to use these books for extra learning and growth. Because, it’s a fact that you will read that library book every day for the seven days it is in your possession!dscn2979

    I actually loved this book that my daughter chose last week at the library. So many important life lessons can be taken from this book!

    Here are a few suggestions on how to use your weekly library choices. These work for more than just kindergarten, parents should be reading with their children as they grow!-

    • READ the book! Every night we are supposed to “study” a book for ten minutes, according to my daughter. Pretty sure it is just “read” for ten minutes, but she likes the word study. First and foremost, read, read, read!
    • Ask questions. Simple questions like: Who are the characters? What happened in the story? What was the problem in the story? How was the problem fixed? Include some critical thinking questions like, How would you solve the problem? What would you do in that situation? How do you feel about what happened? Any question you can think of to help your child think about what they are reading will be beneficial for them.
    • Apply it to their life. This may not work perfectly for every book you read. Last week, my daughter chose a book about a polar bear who ate ice cream, so that one was just…interesting. But, this current book is perfect for this! Kindness, bravery, courage, love, are all topics we could discuss from this book! Children are likely to remember lessons they learn even better when they are linked to a story they read or experience they had, so try as much as you can to connect what they are reading to their own life.
    • Encourage retelling and imaginary play. “Playing kindergarten” has been a big deal around our house the past month. And now that library books are being checked out, they are for sure making an appearance. Not only is this a fun activity, it is also great for little developing minds and readers! In this instance, my daughter (who isn’t reading whole books yet) was able to retell the story in her own words while pretending to teach her class of kindergartners. This is wonderful for comprehension and creativity.
    • READ again– You can never read too much. Even as your children grow older, read aloud to them. It will make a difference for them as readers and provide ways for you to connect with your child. It’s the best!

    It’s always a surprise to see what library book comes home each week. What will this week’s treasure be?

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    Parenting

    Back to School and the Fear of Missing Out

    A few weeks ago, our family entered a new phase of life. Our oldest started kindergarten! This day was met with much anticipation, excitement with a little apprehension mixed in. Of course, I was sad to see one of my best little friends, sidekick, and helper go for a whole day, but I knew it would be good for her! She loves being social, loves learning, and is fiercely independent.

    On the first day of school, after a fun report of all the exciting things that happen that day, her first question to me was, “So, what did you guys do today?” After I told her, with a look of disappointment, she said, “Without me?” That tugged on my heartstrings just a bit because it was true. A lot things would now be done “without her”. Grocery shopping, trips to the park, storytime at the library, regular playdates with friends, going to the gym childcare (because to my children, that is one of the most fun places to go), and the list goes on. That was a hard pill for me, and now her, to swallow.

    After I reassured her that we missed her and we would still be doing things with her, I started thinking of ways I could help cure, or at least lessen, her kindergarten FOMO, because, it’s a real thing.

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    Here are five things I am trying, or am planning to try!

    1- Include them in the errands, even if they aren’t there! Last week, my younger two and I headed to Michael’s for a few things. I let my two year old choose a sticker book. One, because it was fun and two, because it gave me five more minutes of shopping time! On my way to check out, I passed some Halloween princess stickers for $1 each. I picked out two (Frozen and an all-inclusive princess pack, lest any be left out) for my oldest, and that was that. When I gave them to her that afternoon, she was so thrilled!

    2- Finish most of your work before they come home Whatever your setup is, try to accomplish most of your own tasks before they come home or before you are all back together. Now that my oldest is in school, I usually have a 1-2 hour block of time where my youngest two are napping. I try to finish as much of my work, my home responsibilities, and other odds and ends, before she gets home. That way, I can give her as much of the attention as I can without my mind wandering to the other things I wanted to get done.  Easier said than done, I know, but so helpful.

    3- Save some of the errands for when you are with them– Even though I still have two little ones, it is considerably easier to run errands with two, than it is with three, no matter the ages. However, when you have a child who loves to go places (ahem, my oldest), one way I try to help her feel included in our day-to-day life now that she is gone for a majority of the time, is save some of the errands for when we are all back together. Costco (free samples!), Target (toy section!), and the car wash (colored soap!) are all go to places for us.

    4-Keep going on adventures!– One of my favorite things to do as a mom is take my kids on adventures to cool places- a new park, the museum, the zoo, you name it. School gets out at 2:45 here. That leaves plenty of time for adventures! Instead of heading home, hit the pool or try out a new park, or head to a museum or the zoo if it’s close.

    5-Be there for them– When all is said and done, the best thing I have found is to just be there for them. Since this is my first experience with having a child gone all day at school, sometimes they just need an extra snuggle, to read a story, or to just sit by them while they play for them to know you are there, you care and haven’t forgotten about them while they are gone at school. It’s a big change for them and your love and support is what they really need!

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    Motherhood

    Signs

    Motherhood is hard. Parenting is hard. Life is hard. There are ups and downs in any area of life, right? Recently, I went through a patch of motherhood that I felt was so much teaching, learning, stretching and growing that it was sometimes exhausting. I’m sure just as much for my children as it was for me. I have to remind myself that we are all in this together. I genuinely believe that kids want to be good, choose good, and do good. But they have to have direction, support, and love, even if it’s hard.

    One particular day, I was just trying to keep my patience, correct with love and teach with kindness, and inside I felt like I was doing a terrible job. I set up my oldest with some markers and paper to color for a few minutes of quiet time. Instead of going to start the laundry, or fix dinner, I sat down for a few minutes to color with her. Sometimes it’s just the proximity that builds the connection.

    I started doodling on a paper, writing her name and then decorating with words that reminded me of her. Reminiscent of my middle school and high school days where this was the fun thing to do for your friends. After awhile, she asked me what I was doing. I showed her and read her all the words I was writing. Loving. Kind. Brave. Beautiful. The more I read, the brighter her eyes got. I wrote “Love, Mom” at the top and told her it was for her. She gave me a big hug and said, “I’m going to hang this over my bed so I can always remember these things!”

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    After that, I started dinner and she went on coloring. A little while later, she grabbed the tape and ran into my room. I walked in later and found this:

    Mom Sign

    A sign that meant the world to me. Sometimes something small is all you need.

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