Parenting

What about the onesies?

Friends, I need your help!  I just realized that I don't have a plan for BP3-0's first year onesie photos and I'm at a total loss! For those of you who are new to my blog and have no idea what I'm talking about, let me fill you in.

When I was pregnant with K, I decided I wanted to do something fun to document her first year earthside. Lucky for me, the fabulous Petersik family over at Young House Love had a new baby of their own and were in the middle of conducting an awesome first year photo project. I was inspired by their brilliant idea (read: completely stole their idea) and started stocking up on 52 yards of colorful fabric. Well, technically 49 because I ended up using a blanket, a bedspread, and a beach towel (oh my) for three of the photos... but I digress. The plan was to dress K up in a white onesie and take her picture on a different fabric each week. Then I'd doctor the photo by adding the current week to her onesie. Yes, it was a big project that took a lot more discipline that I thought (remembering to take a photo every week with a clean white onesie, clean baby, and ironed fabric) but it was so worth it and I love that I have a weekly snapshot of our little bean to celebrate her first year. And because being pregnant makes me nostalgic, here are all 52 photos! 

Adorable, right?

You may also remember that I later took all the fabrics from K's weekly photos and turned them into a big sister quilt. Something I still have to do for HG before BP3-0 arrives! 

So when we found out we were expecting #2 I knew I wanted to do something similar, just maybe not with a weekly photoshoot commitment. I knew trying to remember weekly photos with a toddler in tow would be near impossible (for me) so I decided to do monthly instead. But I also wanted his photos to be slightly different than K's in other ways. So I grabbed some simple gray chevron fabric and made a different colored bowtie for each month. I'd still keep up with the white onesies, sans month 3 when we were at the beach and I forgot to bring one, but watch him grow each month with a fun bowtie instead of varying backdrops! And of course, here's the end result...

So, this is where you come in my friends. I need ideas for BP3-0's first year photos! 

I still want to utilize the white onesies, but am not sure where the different fabrics should come into play. Should I revert back to the changing fabric backdrops? Should I switch accessories? Bows? Mushies? A fabric-covered sign to display the month rather than putting it on the onesie? What do you think? Throw out as many ideas as you can think of! 

Did you do a photo project for your baby's first year? If so, what?

Until next time...

Tips for visiting a friend with a new baby

So your friend/sister/college roommate/next door neighbor/cousin twice removed just had a baby. Hooray! It's such an exciting time for their family and for you, as a caring and loving part of their lives. I'm sure you can hardly wait to scoop up the tiny new addition and give your congrats to the new parents but before you do, I'd like to offer a few tips... from someone who has been on both sides of the newborn visiting game.

  • Slow your roll. You may have been waiting with baited breath for that first text or Facebook post announcing the new arrival (trust me, I know the feeling) but please don't hop immediately into your car and speed to the hospital before the mother's even had a chance to take her first postpartum pee.  And while you're at it, avoid bombarding the new parents with "WHEN CAN WE COME SEE THE BABY" texts too. Bringing a baby into the world is an emotional, tiring, and life changing event. Give them a chance to enjoy those first moments, hours, or days with their newest family member without interruption. When they are ready to receive visitors they will let you know! A "Congratulations! He/She is beautiful. So happy for you" text is more than to start things off. 
  • Schedule your visit, and stick to your schedule. Or as Hagrid would say, "Stick to your ticket Harry!" Chances are there are a dozen other friends and family members who are also chomping at the bit to meet baby. Once you've gotten the green light that visitors are welcome, check in with the parents to see if a particular day and time works for them. No offense, but this visit has zero to do with you and everything to do with the new baby so let them make the call. If mom and dad tell you to come by at 2:00pm, you'd better be there at 2:00pm. Do not show up at 2:15pm. Do not show up at 1:30pm. Show up on time, at the time they tell you. Number one, it's just polite to be on time. Number two, there could be a very specific reason they gave you that time. Maybe they just picked a random time out of the hat. Maybe they know that nurses will be coming in to run some tests an hour before and they want some time to settle the baby before you arrive. Maybe they know that any visit in the evening will interfere with dinner and putting the older siblings to bed. Whatever their reason, respect it and be punctual. 
  • Offer to bring something. You can do this if your first visit is at the hospital or at home. Offer to bring non hospital food or the mother's favorite treat. Ask if there is anything they forgot in the hustle and bustle of getting to the hospital that you can bring them. If they are already home, ask if you can bring them dinner. *One thing that is huge for families fresh home from the hospital is not having to cook. If someone hasn't already set up a meal train, offer to do it for them so they can focus on snuggling and adjusting to life with baby instead of hovering over a stovetop. (Take Them A Meal is my favorite) 
  • Bring something for the siblings. If this isn't their first child, it's always a nice gesture to bring something special for big brothers and sisters. It doesn't have to be huge, just something to make them feel special while the majority of the attention is on the new baby. And while it might be tempting to give something "Big Bro/Big Sis" themed, keep the focus of the gift entirely on them. Big brother's favorite candy or a book featuring big sister's favorite character. Ask ahead of time, or when scheduling your visit, what would be appropriate. 
  • Wash your hands and keep your lips to yourself. You might be the epitome of cleanliness. You might have a superb bill of health. You might even have your own OCD habit of lathering up with hand sanitizer every 15 minutes. It won't hurt to wash your hands one more time before touching a newborn. Better safe than sorry when it comes to a fresh-out-of-the-womb immune system that is still adjusting to things earthside. On the same note, while the urge to smooch and slobber (ew) all over a newborn is pretty irresistible... you must resist! Keep your kisses to yourself, at least for a month or two.

 

  • Follow mom and dad's rules. If you have differing opinions on certain parenting choices, keep them to yourself. A new mom doesn't need to hear your thoughts on why offering pacifiers will ruin a baby's ability to breastfeed or which diapers they should be using instead of their chosen brand. No, no, no. If you're not asked, hush. There are millions of opinions out there, and she's probably heard a few thousand of them in the form of unsolicited advice while she was pregnant, so just be present as a friend and not a baby expert or counselor. Wait until you get home to tell your husband all about how differently you would do things as a mom because voicing your opinions to an exhausted (and probably overwhelmed) fresh-from-birth mama might earn you a one way ticket to unfriend-ville. 
  • Don't wear out your welcome.  You might want to sit and enjoy that sweet baby snuggles and intoxicating newborn smell for hours on end, but don't. Take cues from the family on when to leave. If baby starts to get fussy and the mother needs to nurse, it maybe a good time to slip out. If other visitors come and you've had your turn, sweetly congratulate them again and excuse yourself. It won't be the last time you visit so make sure that you aren't overwhelming the family. 
  • DO NOT, under any circumstances, visit a newborn if you or one of your family members has been/is sick.  This should be a no-brainer, but you'd be surprised how many people expose vulnerable newborns to sickness. You might think, "I know I was feeling a little sick yesterday but I've felt pretty good today" but it's always better to err on the side of caution. If you have to question whether or not you should visit, the answer is no. Stay away for a little while longer until you are 100% sure you are in tip-top health. Newborn immune systems are very susceptible to bacteria and viruses and what can be a simple cough for you could be life threatening to them. Please don't put a baby at risk just because you're excited to see them. 

Celebrating the arrival of a new baby is an exciting, emotional, and joyful event for more than just the new parents. Be sure you are doing everything you can to make that time as peaceful and worry-free as possible. 

What are some other tips you would offer for folks visiting a newborn? 

Until next time...

 

The tales of Sneaky Pete and Picky Patty

Hey there! Long time no see. Things look a little different around here don't they? I'm so excited to finally have my own website and can't wait to watch it grow! It's a little surreal writing here considering I've been blogging on the same site for so many years! Finally owning my own site feels pretty awesome! But enough about the switch, on to the blog.

I thought I'd kick off my new blog with a little update on the kiddos. Let's start with Mush Man...
I'm sad to say that I made the huge mistake of blinking. I blinked and he transformed from a baby into a little boy. Twenty months have flown by and I am mystified at how much my little mush has grown. He surprises me every day with how much he is learning, keeps me on my toes with his playful and mischievous spirit, gives the best snuggles, and has earned the nickname "Sneaky Pete" thanks to his new favorite past-time of stealing your chair as soon as you stand up from it. It doesn't matter if he's already sitting somewhere, the moment someone stands up he makes a mad dash to claim their chair. When the poor chair-less victim returns the normal response is "SNEAKY PETE STOLE MY SEAT!" HG just giggles with delight. Because I don't want to have my first blog post of 2016 to be novel-length I may as well shift to a bulleted list of HG's quirks and accomplishments thus far:

  • Can't say "Gammie" yet but sweetly calls my mom "Gum". She loves it.
  • Loves his big sister "Kee" (and is very good at annoying her), Elmo, brushing his teeth, Super Why, Mr. Roger's Neighborhood, and ALL THINGS TRUCKS, TRACTORS AND CARS.
  • Climbs EVERYTHING, even out of the crib. Luckily he only does it when we're in the room with him... so far. 
  • Climbs up behind me when I'm sitting at the computer or my sewing machine, leans around my shoulder, and says "Hi" with a cheesy grin. I melt. 
  • 85% height, 48% weight (at his 18 month check up) - this actually surprised me because compared to his sister I feel like he's a shorty. 
  • Learning animal names and sounds
  • Very repetitive and impresses me daily with his quickly expanding vocabulary.  
  • One of his favorite times of day is when he gets to watch us prepare and then enjoy his nightly bottle ('baba') of milk. He snags it from our hands and runs to whoever is laying on the couch to lounge and chug. 
  • Finally established a pretty steady sleep schedule. Gone (thankfully) are the nights when he'd wake up 4-5 times. We are all MUCH happier! He's also down to one long nap a day, which is greatly relies on!
  • Total book worm. I often find him sitting quietly in a room surrounded by a growing pile of books he's flipped through. 
  • Can count to three! All of a sudden one day he was standing in the corner and I heard him whispering it to himself. 
  • Has quite a bit of skill in kicking a ball. Maybe we'll get both of these kids playing soccer!
  • Unfortunately has started swatting/hitting when he's mad. Mostly at K but he's also given me a good whack after being told 'no'. Working on nipping that in the bud!
  • Has started playing with his ears and sucking on his bottom lip. I thought it was a sign of an ear infection at first but after getting him checked out and cleared, it seems to be more of a comfort measure. Seems like a slight flashback since he used to play with his ears when he nursed as a baby. I kind of love it. 
  • He is a huge flirt. But don't be surprised if he buries his face and grins when you acknowledge his big cow-eyed gaze. 

But what about big sister? K turned 4 at the end of 2015 and I am still in disbelief. She is so incredibly smart it scares me. With her intelligence comes an intense desire to do things HER way! People talk about trying times of the terrible twos but they are a breeze compared to three and four. This has been the most challenging time for me as a parent as K constantly tests the boundaries. While HG is very good at annoying K all on his own, she most certainly does her part to stir up sibling drama. She's knows she's bigger and older than him so we definitely have to keep her bossiness in check. She's learning exactly what she wants and figuring out how she can sneak around the rules to get it all. Don't get me wrong, she's incredibly sweet and does have a big heart, but these days she's more worried about K, all day every day. She's also become extremely picky at meal times (who am I kidding... at all times!), hence the nickname Picky Patty. We've bounced around a few different techniques to making meal times as peaceful as possible and thanks to my mom-idol Kendra, I think we've finally found something that works. 

As I look back on that last paragraph and realize how negative it all sounds I want to emphasize how much K inspires and impresses me, even through the challenging times. She is constantly mistaken for an older child, not just for her height but her maturity and intelligence as well. She loves her family and brother and I often find her sneaking hugs to him when she doesn't think we're paying attention. She loves watching us in our daily tasks, from making breakfast and mailing letters to sewing and video editing. She always wants to learn and help and I see how much she's absorbing in how she handles her daily tasks. She's great at playing by herself and will often use her room as an escape when her little brother is particularly in her face. I love that she enjoys being in her room and sees it as a positive place filled with imagination. Speaking of, she's constantly telling stories whether it's randomly to herself while looking through her books or during our nightly prayers. She is loving, sweet, trying, and has the biggest personality. I am thankful for her spirit and how much she is challenging and teaching me every day. Even if it does make me count down the minutes until her quiet time every other day. 

 

Well, there's an update on the littles. I'm sure I left out plenty of important details but since I'm eager to post more frequently on the blog in 2016 I will be sure to share more as it happens!

While the name and look of my blog may have changed I plan on sighing off with my usual tag line, 
Until next time...

 

 

Yes, sweet child. Pray for me.

I lost it. I lost my cool. I lost my cool with my daughter. I lost my cool and I yelled, LOUDLY. And it scared us both.

I'm an imperfect mother and I lost my cool with our three-year old little girl. I yelled at her, sent her to her room, and immediately felt a rush of guilt wash over me. I promptly went to her, scooped her up in my arms, and told her I loved her. I told her I was sorry for yelling for scaring her. I told her how her disobedience and back talk were unacceptable and made me sad and angry. I told her that my actions were also unacceptable and I shouldn't have yelled. We shared a long hug, a small prayer for patience and love for us both, a sloppy tear-soaked smooch, and carried on with the morning.

A little while later while I was continuing to de-stress in the shower, the curtain suddenly pulled back and my sweet girl was standing there looking up at me.

Mommy, I said a prayer for you to be a good mommy. Because you weren't nice to me so I said a prayer that you would be a good mommy.

Queue heart-break. It was all I could do not to collapse into the fetal position in the middle of the tub. Along with the heartbreak came a whirlwind of emotions. Initially I felt another wave of guilt rush over me, heating me more so than the actual water I was standing under. Then I felt embarrassed, ashamed, and incompetent. At some point anger crept in too. Anger that the whole situation started because she was disobedient and yet now I'm the one that needed prayer. Why doesn't she pray that she is a good daughter? How about that? How about not driving me up the wall that led me to yelling in the first place?

WHAT? Seriously, WHAT?? Was I blaming my three-year old for my hasty and inappropriate behavior? Was I trying to turn the need for prayer away from myself and onto her?

I swatted the devil off my shoulder and reminded myself of one of the wonderful prayers from "The Original" Mother's Manual that I try to read in the morning before starting my day.

Dear God, in giving me the great gift of motherhood, You have also conferred on me the sacred and weighty responsibility of patterning my child according to the model of Your Divine Son. May I not shirk my duty of correction, and may I fulfill this duty according to Your holy will. May I realize that in administering correction I am taking Your place, speaking for You; and may my corrections be such as to be worthy of this trust. May I never correct of punish a child of mine while I am angry but learn to correct in a calm, motherly manner and to administer punishment with a gentle firmness born of tender mother love rather than with any excitement of passion. May I learn to pray to You for light before I give correction or punishment - for light to guide me so that such acts of mine may be according to Your holy will and in each case bring my child closer to me and both the child and myself closer to you. 

I took a deep breath and called out to my sweet child. She poked her head back around the shower curtain (talk about vulnerability) and I told her how grateful I was that she took the time to pray for me and reminded her that we all need a little extra payer sometimes, especially mommy. I asked that she continue to pray for me but also ask God to help her learn obedience and kindness as she grows. And to pray that we all act with loving hearts.

Okay mommy!

That's all I needed. Okay mommy, said with an innocent little smile. I took a deep breath and my feelings of guilt and frustration washed away. In that moment I wasn't ashamed, but proud. I was proud of my sweet little girl. Proud of her for, at just three years old, turning to prayer when we both needed it. Proud of myself for instilling in her the importance of leaning on the Lord in prayer. I didn't realize it had taken hold in until that moment. I was also proud of myself for not sinking further into my slump but remembering what my true purpose as a mother is. To raise my children to be the best versions of themselves and to glorify God.

As parents, we mess up sometimes. A lot actually. We make dumb, passion of the moment, brainless mistakes. And it feels awful. Like curl up in a ball on the floor of the shower and ugly-cry awful. But, in the midst of all the slip-ups, we should never forget that God gifted us with these tiny souls to care for during their time on this earth. It is only with His love and compassion that we will succeed and if we aspire to give them the same type of sacrificial love He bestows upon us, we're all going to be alright. We may not be alright all the time, but we should never lose faith in ourselves. Never lose faith in our children. Never hesitate to say, "Yes, sweet child. Pray for me."

Until next time...

SmartMom Feature: 8 Best Essential Oils for Children

We live in an increasingly crunchy world, especially when it comes to raising children. These days it’s all about breastfeeding, cloth diapering, baby wearing, organic eating, and home births and I for one am all about creating a more natural lifestyle for my family.  I can’t exactly label myself a full-fledged granola mama (thanks in-part to my complete inability to keep plants alive, ergo no growing my own food) but one thing I have really fallen in love with the use of essential oils for children... read more at SmartMom