Monday, January 26, 2015

Surviving Witching Hour

Your days go smoothly for life with a newborn. Then some point in the evening comes along each day and your baby seems to flip a switch. It is like your baby isn't really even there. There is crying and your baby is hard to soothe. Witching hour. For more on what witching hour is, what causes it, and things you can do to help, see my post on it

I recently asked readers on Facebook how they survived witching hour. If there is anything "survived" applies well to in parenting, witching hour is in the top five. It really is something you get through. Here are the ideas from the readers. Now, please resist the urge to punch some people in the face. You will see lots of "it will end" type of thoughts here and "enjoy it." Just know it is moms who have been there who are trying to help you find a way to get through this. Believe me, we all know how awful it is. 

Relax About It and Accept It
One way to survive is to not stress so much about it. It isn't something you are doing wrong. It is just there, with or without anything you have done that day. 

Jessie said: I survived by relaxing about it — baby's okay, he's just gunna be fussy, and that's okay, too! We usually just hold our babies during this period until they fall into nighttime sleep.

Tiffany said: I fought it tooth and nail with my first couple of kids, trying to make them sleep or be happy without being held all the time. For #3 and #4, though, I just accepted it for what it was and did what it took to keep everybody sane. Fortunately, it seemed to be the worst after the older ones were asleep anyway, so I just snuggled up in a big comfy chair/recliner with baby and held them until it passed every night. Looking back, it was actually a sweet bonding opportunity.

I love Tiffany's perspective there. It really can be a great bonding time for you and your baby! Though, let's be real, when it happens at dinner prep time and your spouse is at work and your two older kids are hungry and clingy...not so bonding. 

Anita said: Curl up on the bed and cry with them?  ...I worked out she would settle quickly if I carried her around face down on my arm. No idea why, but it worked. I agree with above, I think just accept it and hold them, either in your arms or in a baby carrier. Don't be too hard on yourself about it, it happens

Remember the sense of humor--that is always helpful for parenting in general.

Rachel said: Baby wearing, turn on a good tv show and nurse nurse nurse! Baby swing. Daddy! And chocolate!

A couple of great things to pull out from this comment, find something you can do to distract yourself (TV), get help from others (Daddy), and chocolate always helps (that is for mom, not baby). 

Erin said: It was frustrating but at the same time it was nice that we had that time alone together every night. By the time #3 came with his (less intense) witching hour, I kind of looked forward to it.

Time It and Be Prepared
I loved the thoughts on being prepared for it. Witching hour is pretty predictable. You can do your best to plan around it.

Normarie said: We survived by timing it. I knew that around 6pm he would get cranky so I managed to get ready for it, and when it started the only thing that worked calming him a little bit was dancing with him around the house. He loved that, so that became our dancing/singing time together. He's 18 weeks old now and even though he still gets fuzzy around that time because he's tired (I put him to bed around 7:00pm - book, bath, feeding, bed), I can say he dropped the rough witching hour phase around his 12-13 weeks.

I have also heard a common tactic is to get baby to be asleep before witching hour typically sets in. So if witching hour starts at 6:30, you make sure baby's schedule is such that a nap or bedtime starts at 6. If you go for this, just don't let yourself get too stressed out about making it. A tense mom leads to a tense baby.

Mindy said: Try to get them to sleep before it hit. That 5pm nap is the best of the day!!

Alyson said: ...my most surviving trick was having my meal plan done and supper in the crock pot.

Katie said: I just took it as their way of telling me they were ready for bed so that became their bedtime. For both of mine it was around 6-6:30pm. It worked great for us and allowed my husband and I to have some much needed marriage time in the evenings

Comforting
Swaddling, offering the pacifier, singing, holding, and Cluster Feeding are all great ideas for how you can comfort and distract your little one during this time. 

Christina said: Cluster feeding definitely helped me.. Bottle at 3 and 5, a power nap somewhere around 430/5 and then a bath every night at 630, last bottle before being put down at 7. My LO is almost 5 mo and I'm still using this routine and it's working great.

Erin said: With #2 I would let him cry for a little bit because sometimes he would fall immediately asleep after just a couple of minutes. If he didn't, I would get him up, make sure he was hungry or gassy or uncomfortable, then just put on a TV show and hold him while he slept. He'd always sleep through the WH in my arms. At about 9-10 pm I could lay him down in his bed and he'd be fine the rest of the night. Near 10-11 weeks he started occasionally going down at bedtime and staying asleep, and by 12 weeks it was essentially over. I started a DF at that point and he was sleeping DF to DWT by 13 weeks.

Rebecca said: My husband and I would simply take turns. Also, on nights when he was away, I would walk around with her and sing lullabies or hymns which helped to soothe me as well.

Movement
Swings, Ergo (baby wearing), Rock and Play, dance parties...movement can be just the ticket your baby needs. This can be just the ticket you need when you have other children with needs during witching hour.

Amanda said: Try the swing. If that doesn't work within 5-10 minutes, put them in a baby carrier and wear them. My girls would usually fall asleep that way, but if not, they were at least happy.

Amanda (different one) said: Using the swing saved us! He was fussy from about 5-9 pm and would stay in there close to nap time and would take his last nap in there as well. Sometimes if he was having a really hard time I would swaddle him and put him back in and he would usually fall asleep that way.


Get Out of the House
With McKenna, we just did not stay home during her witching hour if we could help it. Walks, errands, park trips...whatever could get us out. It was nice, actually, because otherwise we would have been very house bound. It was nice to have a reason to have to leave.

Rachel said: The swing was great for DS, but our DD would not sleep in a swing for the longest time, so the Ergo carrier was the only way to get her through the witching hour. Thankfully it was summer time so we'd go for family walks at the park before dinner, while she snoozed off/on in the carrier. DS's witching hour lasted a long time - 3 months, but DD's was very short lived.

Alexis said: Swing, going to the market, running errands, watching tv with baby, take a warm bath with baby. We didn't even try to get them down just passed the time some days others the swing worked

Wait it Out
There are a lot of things to try during the time, but always keep in mind it will not last forever. I think a really hard time with these type of things is not knowing the end date. It is pretty bearable to do just about anything when you know the day and time it will end. The unknown is what is killer. That is why we can all look back and say things like "relax" and "just enjoy it!" At the time, we were all stressed out, too. 

Katie said: I think what helped me most was knowing it was a season and WOULD END - even if my most difficult child had an evening witching hour until 10 months old (despite me "knowing what I was doing" by that point!) My other two kids were done with the evening witching hour between 4-6 months old.

Rebecca said:  It wasn't fun, but it knew I could put her down for bed soon, and I also tried to concentrate on the memories that we were making, even though that sort of sounds ridiculous when you are in the middle of it. Thankfully, this stage DOES pass, and pretty quickly. 

Conclusion
I hope this helps you. It does end, and when it does, you will look back and think, "Oh that wasn't so bad!" See these posts for more:

Friday, January 23, 2015

Pinteresting Fridays: Valentines Day

Valentines is coming up fast! Here are some of my favorite Valentine Pinterest finds. 

You can take this in many directions if you don't want to do numbers. Match colors (for older children, you could match complimentary colors), uppercase and lowercase letters, mommy animal to baby animal...there are lots of options if you get your brain going.



You can write sweet notes to your kids, or do fun activities--have your child paint and tell you what letter, number, shape, etc. she uncovered.

I am not against candy at all, but sometimes it is nice to have something other than candy when you are getting hoards of it.


Love these games!


And this just brings it all back to focus. 


Want to see more? See my boards:

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Helping Siblings Like Each Other


Siblings fight. They just do. It is going to happen no matter how much they get along in general. In a family, you live under the same roof and spend a lot of time together. You see each other at your worst moments. There are bound to be times you do not all get along. 

That doesn't mean siblings can't get along and even enjoy each other as children. There are things you can do as parents to encourage a friendship among your children. Here are ideas taken from both NurtureShock: New Thinking About Children by Bronson and Merryman and Siblings Without Rivalry: How to Help Your Children Live Together So You Can Live Too by Faber. 

Have Time to Play Together
Having friends over is very fun, but it is important to also have days and times when the siblings get to just play together--just them. Have time that your children play with each other without your intervention and without friends. You can even schedule this in--see Sibling Playtime and Structured Playtime With Siblings.

Teach Children Conflict Prevention
You don't want to just throw your children in a room together and say, "Play together! Have fun and good luck!" We are the teachers of our children and need to teach them life skills. This includes how to get along with people.

We aren't talking conflict resolution or conflict avoidance. We are talking conflict prevention. A lot of times, parents talk about the right way to respond to conflict with our children. NurtureShock talks about a program designed to help siblings become friends and their focus is on teaching children how to work together to prevent the conflict. "...fewer fights are the consequence of teaching the children the proactive skills of initiating play on terms they can both enjoy" (page 123).

If you have young children, this is an easier concept to work into them. You start young (read Sibling Playtime and Structured Playtime With Siblings.) You teach them to think of the other person and to show the other person love. You teach about taking turns and sharing. 

If your children are older and you are wanting to change something about their dynamic, you do the same, but you have to expect some rewiring. Remember your Training in Times of Non-Conflict. You walk them through scenarios on how they can compromise and work together so they can both have fun when playing.

Let Children Work Things Out Alone
When the conflict arises, you need to allow the children to work things out on their own. If you eaves drop, do it out of their sight. Do not rush in to solve the problem. This is mentioned in NurtureShock and discussed in great detail in Siblings Without Rivalry. "Children should have the freedom to resolve their own differences" (page 142). 

YES, you do need to intervene if things are getting abusive either verbally or physically. "But here's the difference: We intervene, not for the purpose of settling their argument or making a judgement, but to open the blocked channels of communication so they can get back to dealing with each other" (page 142). Basically, you help be a mediator. 

Personally, at our house, if the kids can't work things out, then they need to take a break from each other. They don't wan to not play with each other, so they do put in effort to work it out. 

Acknowledge Bad Feelings
Siblings Without Rivalry suggests you allow your children to express frustrations and negative feelings about the siblings. The author says, "Acknowledging bad feelings between the children led to good feelings" (page 49). 

We all need to vent sometimes. I would caution a few things here. Do not join the venting. Also, there is a difference between a vent and nurturing anger. You want to encourage your child toward forgiveness, not on stroking the bitterness and allowing it to grow. 

Think Twice About Books and Shows that "Teach" About Sibling Relationships
This is something I so completely agree with, in any fashion. We have to be careful with media. I love books, and I know books can be very helpful in helping our children work out worries they have, from potty training to a new baby to a big move. 

But you have to be careful what you expose them to. You know the book Junie B. Jones and the Stupid Smelly Bus? I have never liked that. I know it is wildly popular. I have always viewed it as a book that will teach my children to hate the bus and school. It will plant the seed, and if they want to nurture it, it will grow. You can imagine my vindication when I read this in NurtureShock in discussing books that are supposed to teach children to get along. Research has found children fight more when exposed to these books and shows. Researchers said:

"From these books, the kids were learning novel ways to be mean to their younger siblings they'd never considered" (page 126). "The average book demonstrated virtually as many negative behaviors as positive ones" (page 127). 

Ignore Certain Factors
We can make excuses for the sibling relationship. "They are fighting for my attention" "It is because one is a boy and one is a girl" or "It is because they are both girls" or "It is because they are both boys" or "It is because they are too close in age" or "It is because they are too far apart in age." Studies have shown that fights aren't about those things so much as about physical possessions. Teach children to love, to share, to respect property of others, to care about the feelings of others...research shows forcing children to share is not effective, but you can teach them to share. See How to Teach Respect for Personal Property

Avoid Comparisons
I think this is one of the hardest things to do as a parent. I don't think we compare maliciously. We do it in awe. How can two people we created, who live in the same house with the same parents and rules, who have the same genetic heritage, be so different? How can they have such different natural talents and abilities? How can they all have such different weaknesses? 

When I was due to have Kaitlyn, Jeffrey R. Holland gave a talk in which he said,
"And try not to compare your children, even if you think you are skillful at it. You may say most positively that “Susan is pretty and Sandra is bright,” but all Susan will remember is that she isn’t bright and Sandra that she isn’t pretty. Praise each child individually for what that child is, and help him or her escape our culture’s obsession with comparing, competing, and never feeling we are “enough.”"
This is hard people! Very hard. Siblings Without Rivalry agrees. There is an entire chapter on the Perils of Comparisons. "Children often experience praise of a brother or sister as a put-down of themselves. They automatically translate 'Your brother is so considerate' into 'Mom thinks I'm not.' It's a good idea to save your enthusiastic comments for the ear of the deserving child" (page 58). 

This is something I have pondered a lot over the years. A whole lot. I don't think the point is to never compliment children in front of each other--or ever. I think children should learn to recognize and celebrate the good and accomplishments of others. Part of it is to not compliment everyone for the sake of complimenting. I think you can solve a lot by sticking to Praise Effort, Not Results

There is another chapter that has similar sentiments in Siblings Without Rivalry. It is titled "Siblings in Roles." 
"Let's be wary of statements like, 'He's the musician in the family'...'She is the scholar'...'He's the athlete'...'She's the artist.' No child should be allowed to corner the market on any area of human endeavor. We want to make it clear to each of our children that the joys of scholarship, dance, drama, poetry, sport are for everyone and not reserved for those who have a special aptitude" (page 98). 
That sounds easy on paper, but is hard. The fact is, people have natural talents and abilities. I have a child who is far more artistic naturally than any other of my children. I have a child is who is far more naturally athletic than any of my other children. These things are there. 

I love the last part of that last quote, though. Anyone can be good at something if they really want to be. Your child might not be the best artist in her class, but if she wants to be great and she puts the effort into becoming great, she can be great. You don't want to dissuade improvement upon skills and talents. 

Know the Difference Between Fair and Equal
This concept is such a passion of mine. I have written on it in the past: 
Trying to make things equal among your children will not result in content children. It will result in jealous children. They won't just be jealous of each other, either, but of everyone around them. They will always be comparing and declaring what isn't fair. You will find yourself constantly needing to point out what in their life is "better" than those they are jealous of. That is not a happy way for people to be! It will eat at your soul. 

Siblings Without Rivalry devotes an entire chapter to this topic in "Equal is Less." Do not treat your children "equally." Treat them "fairly."

Conclusion
Your children can be friends and they can get along in general. Yes, they will fight. They are humans. They can be great friends with some relatively easy efforts from you.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Poll Discussion: Thumb/Finger Sucking


Our newest poll is on thumb/finger sucking. It is helpful while I compile results if you copy these questions and paste them, then answer under each. If you do not have an answer for a question, you can just put "N/A."
  1. Did/does your child suck fingers/thumb?
  2. If so, which?
  3. Did you encourage the sucking, or did it just happen?
  4. Have you seen any problems associate with the sucking? If so, what?
  5. Do you limit the sucking at all?
  6. What age did you wean from the sucking?
  7. If you have weaned, what method did you use?
  8. How did your child handle the weaning?
  9. Any tips for moms of thumb/finger sucking?
  10. Would you allow thumb/finger sucking again?

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Brinley Toddler Summary: 29.5 Months Old

Brinley really wanted to play Uno Attack! with us. I had my doubts, but let her play. As you can see,
she can't hide her cards from us, but she can match colors and numbers and is thrilled to push the button,
so it is an all around good time.

This is a summary for Brinley from 29-29.5 months old.

SLEEPING
Sleeping started out continuing on from the last summary I gave (which entailed some mighty efforts in delaying bedtime). Over the course of these two weeks, she has steadily improved. She isn't trying so many delay tactics. She isn't crying at all once in bed, though she is quite upset when it is time for a nap. I give her the 5 minute warning ("In five minutes, it is time for your nap.") That worked for Brayden, but Brinley is not mentally preparing herself to stop playing. So we have improvement in this area, but we aren't done with the issues yet. 

EATING
Eating is great. 

PLAYTIME
Playtime is also really good.

One day, she came out of independent play on her own. She looked a little surprised by it and I was surprised by it. When Brayden did this the first time, it was close to time to be done anyway, so I just let him stay out. Then I got to have a period where he got out randomly throughout the independent play. O didn't want to repeat that with Brinley--especially with a big girl bed in her near future.

I told her she needed to go back to her room until I came to get her. She was not thrilled by this, but she went back. I had her be in her room literally for five seconds before I opened the door and told her it was time to get out. I explained she needed to wait for Mommy to get her. She has not tried to get out on her own again.

EPIC BATH BATTLE
I am talking epic. It is crazy how a little toddler can go from super cute and obedient girl whose only struggle is not liking to go down for naps to a girl who chooses to sit in a time out for 20 minutes rather than take a bath.

20 minutes people!

I had finally opened her WOW water books from Melissa and Doug that she got for Christmas the day prior to the epic bath battle. She got up and I told her after breakfast, she was going to take a bath. She ate, and then wanted to "paint" in her books. I told her that was fine after she took her bath. 

She was not excited about it and refused to take off her PJs. I could have physically held her down and removed her PJs and put her in the bath, but I think she is old enough to be doing this herself and obeying me. I told her she could take a bath or have a time out, but that if she chose time out, it would be time out until the bath. Not really much of a choice to the logical person, but she is a toddler. 

She chose time out. She sat in time out happily. I would come back about every 2 minutes to see if she was ready for a bath yet. Nope. Still wanted the time out. 


After 20 minutes, she decided bath sounded better. She went into the bathroom and started to remove her PJs, then decided to test me a bit further. She put her PJs back on and said, "No bath!" I took her back to time out. After two minutes, she was done and ready to bath. She took her PJs off, had a nice bath, then played with the paint books.


POTTY TRAINING
We haven't started, but she is showing more and more interest. She loves to sit on the potty and loves to try to go. She still hasn't gone on the potty. As soon as she gets in her diaper, she pees and tells me about it. 

SCHEDULE
This is her typical daily schedule.

8:45 AM--Wake up/Breakfast
9:15 AM--Get ready
10:00 AM--TV time
10:30 AM--Independent Playtime
11:45 AM--Help get lunch ready/hang out with me doing stuff
12:15 PM--Lunch
12:45 PM--Learning Activity
1:00 PM--Sibling play with McKenna
1:30/2:00 PM--Nap
4:30/5:00 PM--Wake up and Free Playtime
5:30 PM--Dinner
6:00 PM--Family Time
7:30 PM--Get Ready for Bed
8:00 PM--Bedtime

HELPFUL BOOKS
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Monday, January 19, 2015

Impact for the Better

image source
Today is Martin Luther King Jr. Day. As such, I am playing "banker" and taking the day off :).

Sometimes I think of people like Martin Luther King Jr. and wonder if they had any inkling of the impact they were making in history. Did they realize how iconic they would become? Would they realize a national holiday would be named after them? Did they have any idea that they would become a symbol of something amazing?

I would bet you that most did not, at least not initially.

With that in mind, continue to fight your battles and trudging along to make your own difference, even if that is "only" in the lives of your family members. You never know what kind of iconic difference you are making, and neither do most of the people around you. We all impact the lives of others, for better or worse. Make your impact better. 

Friday, January 16, 2015

Favorite New Finds

We have had some new fun finds in the past month with Christmas and all. I wanted to share them with you now! 

Books
Legend Series
Legend, by Marie Lu, is a series that was recommended to me by a friend. I love dystopian novels and I am all about the Young Adult novels. I really enjoyed this series. It had me crying a river of tears at the end--don't let that scare you! It was good. I cried a contact right out! And right now the first book, Kindle, is on sale for 1.99, so check it out!



Fancy Nancy Chapter Books
McKenna is getting older and is interested in chapter books and not just picture books. We do have a lot of chapter books in our house appropriate for a Kindergartner, but while Brayden is into science fiction and mystery and Kaitlyn is into animal books, McKenna is my girl into princesses and girly things. We don't have girly chapter books. I went into Barnes and Noble and perused. I came across this Fancy Nancy: Nancy Clancy's Tres Charming Chapter Book Box Set. McKenna adores Fancy Nancy, so I knew this would be a win. 

Ladybug Girl Board Books
It has always been my policy that my children will each get a book every Christmas, Easter, and Birthdays (as a base policy--I am not above getting them more often than that!). I love books and I want them to love books. This year, however, I had resigned myself to just not getting one for Brinley for Christmas. At this point in our parenting lives, we have a TON of books for little ones. Tons people. Years of buying books had really filled us. She loves Sandra Boynton, but we own almost all of them. I also felt like she is really at the point of being ready to move on to picture book type of stories, but I don't like her alone with a paper picture book yet. I still like the board book for her. I had looked through book lists I had made, wish lists on Amazon, and I really hadn't found anything that struck my fancy. So no book it was.

Until I went to Barnes and Noble. Then I came across this gem. Ladybug girl board books?!?! This is the perfect in between for my little girl. Bigger girl stories, simplified, and in toddler-safe form. Little Box of Ladybug Girl is one book set she got for Christmas (but from my mother-in-law, reasons below...). She loves these books. And she now dresses up like Ladybug girl basically daily.

Nursery Rhyme Book
Okay, I will admit it. Barnes & Noble is a dangerous place for me to be. While there, I also came across this book. While we have a few nursery rhymes books, Brinley hadn't ever latched on to one. I am a huge believer in the Read Aloud Handbook and according to that book, nursery rhymes are powerful for building literacy. McKenna  had one by Lucy Cousins that she just loved and wore thin. I had looked around, but hadn't found one that struck me for Brinley. Until I came across this one! It is simply titled Nursery Rhymes. Brinley loves it. Loves. The thing that makes this her nursery rhyme book is that it has textured pages. The pictures are cute and look like they have been hand-stitched on with felt. It isn't a touch and feel book, but there is texture to each page and she is very tactile. A huge selling point for this book is the CD it comes with, though we haven't actually even gotten it out to listen to it! So I can't tell you the quality there. 

Toys
Melissa  & Doug Water Books
As we were preparing for our trip to Southern California, I searched for things that could be done in the car. I came across these Melissa & Doug Water Wow Books. I thought they would be something Brinley would like and purchased them. I never did pull them out (at this point, yes I know that was dumb, but I didn't want to show my hand all up front and she was good without them). I decided to save them for a Christmas present. Then I didn't even open them for her until a week ago. I know! Oh she was in love. Straight into obsessed. These are seriously amazing. You have a water pen like with an aquadoodle. You "paint" with the water and a whole scene comes to life! She was so obsessed with these that the next day when it was bath time, she did not want to take a bath. It would delay her playing with her new books. So like any rational toddler, she opted for a time out. Not just any time out. A 20 minute time out. She happily sat in time out trying to outlast me and win the fight against the bath. She lost, and learned a great lesson in the process, but it really demonstrates her extreme obsession for these books. They have more that what is shown here. 

TY Beanie Boos
Beanie Boos are a completely adorable type of TY Beanie Babies. My two stuffed animal lovers, Kaitlyn and Brinley, love them. They have a lot of animal types. They also have a variety of size, from little ones like you would expect up to quite a bit bigger, so pay attention to the size if purchasing online. I have no doubt any stuffed animal lover would not love these.


LEGO Technic
LEGO Technic is the next level in building LEGO creations. They are a bit more challenging. They also are a step up--the final product is a bit more realistic than regular LEGOs are. Many can also add a motor to move. Brayden has loved these. They have offered him some challenge and taken him more time than 20 minutes to put together. 


LEGO Architecture
While at LEGOLAND, we were all impressed with the LEGO creations built that depict actual buildings. In the gift shop, I saw they have this whole LEGO Architecture series. While it doesn't look as exciting as some bulldozer or excavator, I thought it would offer Brayden a great challenge. It did! Granted it is rated for 12 and older, but it is intricate and it creates something impressive. He was very excited about this. They have a lot of buildings available. If you have a child needing some challenge or a child interested in engineering or architecture, this is a great set.

LEGO Animals
Younger children are always impacted by what their older siblings are interested in. As such, all of my children love LEGOs. Not to say there isn't great reason to love LEGOs, but they are hands down Brayden's favorite and he has passed that enthusiasm on to his sisters. I saw this in the LEGOLAND gift shop. They have a whole bunch of LEGO Creator animals. Kaitlyn got this LEGO Creator Furry Creatures. This is really fun for the animal lover.

Cat's Cradle
When I was a little girl, I remember loving Cat's Cradle. My friends and I played for hours at a time. I don't remember much, so I got this Klutz Cat's Cradle Book Kit for Kaitlyn for Christmas. In the meantime, she had a friend start teaching it to her, and she became as obsessed with it as I was as a kid. One day she asked me if I had heard of it, I told her I loved it as a kid, and she asked my why I hadn't ever taught it to her then! Little did she know. She was so thrilled to get this for Christmas. 

Bristle Blocks
Where have I been for the last 10 years? I really thought we had about every toy worth having for a toddler. It makes it hard to shop for Brinley. Someone mentioned Battat Bristle Blocks. Bristle Blocks? What is that? How did I miss a building toy for my builder-obsessed son?!? I was sure I was aware of them all. Nope. I decided to give this a try for Brinley for Christmas. Winner! McKenna graduated from Duplos up to regular LEGOs this Christmas, so Brinley inherited the Duplos. She has always loved the Duplos. However, at this age, she pulls out her Bristle Blocks more than Duplos. Really a great toy.

Parent Stuff
Burt's Bees Lip Shimmer
Mary Kay used to make this stuff for lips that was like chapstick but colored like lipstick. I loved it because I could put it on without a mirror and had no risk of looking like crazy lipstick lady. I loved the texture. For some unknown reason, they stopped making them, but luckily not until after I had totally stocked up. But I am on my last tube and have been searching for a suitable replacement. It is an item I really don't want to be without. I have had my eye on these Burt's Bees Lip Shimmer for a long time. Been on my Wish List on Amazon forever. But I haven't ever taken the plunge to buy. I was at Cracker Barrel one day and somehow found myself wandering the gift shop (really, waiting for women to use the rest room). In my wanderings, I stopped at the Burt's Bees section. They were having a buy one, get one half off AND things were already on sale. I thought it over long and hard, and in the way I walked away with the Burt's Bees Kissable Color Warm Collection and a cool collection I can't find on Amazon (but I haven't opened it yet since it is winter and all). I LOVE it! My two favorite colors for me are Fig and Rhubarb. I have found my winner! It is 100% natural but it does not have any funky texture. Seriously love. 

Sanuks
This goes for men or women. I was on a walk one day with my neighbor ladies. We got talking about shoes. Ever since I hurt my ankle a year ago, I am in need of very sensible shoes, but that doesn't mean I want ugly shoes, right? I am also into cute shoes. But they need to be sensible and comfortable. I had heard of Bobs and had been considering them (guys, I think a lot about anything I spend my money on). My concern, despite the love out there, was that my feet might be too wide and/or high arch for it to be comfortable. My neighbor told me about her Sanuks. She loved them. They were so comfortable and cute and she was sure I would love them. A couple of weeks later, I saw a nurse at the doctors office wearing them. I figured any shoe a nurse is willing to wear must be comfortable. I asked her about them. She raved. She owns at least five pairs. So I perused Amazon. I added a bunch to my wish list that I liked. But they are expensive and I couldn't spend that much money on something I wasn't sure I would love! Then one day, one pair I had on my wish list went on sale for $15.00 (these Coral Sanuk Shoes). Well come on! That is a price I can risk! And everyone is right. They are very comfortable. 

Here is the tricky thing. The sizing. They don't usually come in half sizes. That can be tricky for those who are ideally in a half size! The nurse told me you want a size smaller than you usually wear. I bought a pair for my husband for our California trip and he said if he got another pair, he would want them a size smaller. They are fine in his normal size, but he thinks smaller would be best. He has skinny feet. My neighbor has wide feet and high arches and she buys her normal size. That is what I did. I went with my usual size and I have been happy with that decision. I will update you if I ever change my mind. 

And I am 100% buying some red Sanuks as soon as they drop to a price I am happy with. And I might still try Bobs. 

NFL Jacket
My anniversary gift from Nate was this Kansas City Chiefs Jacket. I love it! It is warm and flattering. They have them for other teams, too, so if you love football, you can find your favorite.












Pearl Earrings
I was sent these pearl earrings to review from Pearl & Clasp. They are very nice! And at $24.00, inexpensive. McKenna is in love with these earrings. They are her favorite earrings I own.








Do you have any fun new finds from Christmas?

Thursday, January 15, 2015

This, Too, Shall Pass {Guest Post}



As a general rule, I dislike the “newborn phase”. Newborns are challenging! I know some love the newborn phase. The newness of life, the newborn noises and smells. I enjoy those aspects of course, but the sleepless nights and frequent feedings are very tiring, especially when you have older children that are up and ready to start their day even though you were up with the newborn half the night.

My youngest is just four months old and we are just now coming out of the difficult “newborn phase” with him. All of my children are adopted and all three of them had to go through Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS) upon birth due to drug exposure in the womb. This is the main reason I dislike the “newborn phase”. There is nothing fun or pleasant about watching your baby go through something like that.

My son spent the first four weeks of his life in the NICU. When we brought him home he required constant 24/7 care. Because of severe stomach pain associated with eating and digesting food, it took him over one hour to eat. After he ate, he would be in extreme pain that often times would last until it was just about time to start the cycle over again with his next feeding.

The first 2-3 months home with him were extremely challenging. I would daily tell myself that “This too shall pass.” In those months, it felt like I had been given a life sentence and my life was going to forever be consumed with a baby boy consumed in pain. There were days and weeks when I couldn’t see a light at the end of the tunnel, but I would keep telling myself that “This too shall pass.”

And you know what?

It did.

Even if there was no drug exposure in the womb, the first 3-4 months of a baby’s life can be extremely challenging, especially to a new parent. You might be thinking that your life is over and you will never feel normal again! You might be wondering if you will ever sleep again for more than 1-3 hour increments. You might be wondering if your baby is going to forever be fussy during the hours of 7-10pm.

This too shall pass. I promise.

You are also probably wondering if anything you are doing with Babywise is going to make a difference! This was my 3rd baby but the one most affected by the NAS. I held him more than I didn’t during his first month or two of life. I thought for sure I was going to have a baby that didn’t know how to sleep in the crib.

But you know what I learned? If there is a genuine issue going on with your baby (NAS, colic, witching hour, etc.) holding baby to sleep is NOT going to “spoil” them. My son needed me to hold him as much as I did. When I could, I would lay him down to sleep in his Rock N Play. I always encouraged sleep in there because I knew my ultimate goal was not to co-sleep but to have him sleeping in his own bed.

As time passed and his pain decreased more and more, do you know where my son wanted to sleep? His Rock N Play! There was seriously a day when I was trying to get him to sleep in my arms and I realized he wanted me to put him down in his bed! From then on, he has slept in his bed for the majority of his sleeps.

This too shall pass. And in the meantime work towards your Babywise goals when you can.
With babies, they are constantly growing and developing. Focus on full feeds, eat-play-sleep cycles, appropriate wake times and, for newborns, Valerie’s Sleep Hierarchy and, with the passing of time, you will notice improvements.

At 4.5 months old, my baby’s eating and sleeping patterns are well established and he is most definitely a Babywise Baby. I know difficult phases will arise again, but I also know….this too shall pass!!



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