Friday, January 20, 2017

The Benefits of Having a Family Dentist {Guest Post}

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As a parent and as an adult, you know how important it is to care for your teeth and care for your child’s teeth. After all, good dental hygiene can help you have healthy teeth and gums and can also help ensure you reduce your risk of other illnesses, such as heart disease.

When it comes to dental care, choosing the right dentist is very important. Some people choose a pediatric dentist for their child and then a different dentist for themselves, and while this can work, it’s not always the best option. Having a family dentist instead of multiple dentists could be beneficial for your family, and here’s why:

You will build a relationship.
When you have a family dentist, you will build a relationship with your dentist. With small children, your child will be able to grow up with the same dentist, and this provides a sense of trust. It also means your child doesn’t need to find another dentist as they get older, and this can be extremely rewarding for your child. Plus, when a dentist is involved with your entire family, it provides a better sense of trust and respect over the years that you’ll come to appreciate.

You can receive a nice discount.
Even with insurance, dentists often apply discounts when applicable. With a family dentist, you may end up receiving discounts for having multiple people attend the same office. If you have a large family, this discount can be extremely beneficial to your budget.

Aside from discounts, your family dentist may also be more likely to work out a payment plan with you for more expensive procedures. For instance, if they know that you will come back on a regular basis, they will be more willing to break a large payment down into smaller increments to help you make your dental care more affordable.

You have a better sense of family history.
When a dentist sees you and your children, they have a better sense of your genetics and family history. This means they could recognize issues with your child’s mouth or gums that others may not have noticed, only because it’s something that you or your spouse had an issue with. Putting your children’s health in the hands of someone who will take the time to provide them with extra care.

It’s less scary for little ones.
The American Dental Association states that it’s a good idea to have your child start seeing a dentist at age one, but many parents often wait until a child is older. When your child is older, the dentist can be a scary place. However, if your young child has been to that dentist’s office and has seen you or older siblings receive treatment from that dentist, it can be less scary for them in the end. This can make going to the dentist easier on young children.

They’ll work with you.
When you have a family relationship with a dentist, the office will likely be more accommodating to your needs. For instance, they may be more willing to work around your schedule for procedures or fit in all of your children at one time. In addition, if your dental insurance were to change, many family dentists will often find a way to still work with you in order to not lose your business. If you want a dentist you can rely on, a family dentist is the right choice.

When it comes to your family’s dental needs, choosing a family dentist provides you with plenty of benefits you won’t find anywhere else.

Pegboard with Pattern Cards {Friday Finds}

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Friday is currently Brinley's least favorite day of the week. Most people love Friday, but for Brinley, it is torture day. It is the day of the week she doesn't get to go anywhere. The other days she has playgroup, dance class, and preschool.

This past Friday, she was bemoaning her fate. I got out a whole bunch of random learning activities I have created or purchased over the years and came across a peg board with pattern cards. This grabbed her interest! She had enough mental challenge before her to get her to be satisfied where she was.

I bought ours many, many years ago and can't find the same thing on Amazon anymore. We do have this one from Plan Toys which is great for younger little people. It works great for about ages 1-4 or 5. 

The one Brinley was playing with was more challenging. This one is similar.

And that same brand has a junior version for smaller children.

Pegboards are great to have around for your child to have something he/she can do independently when you don't have time to prep something amazing. They are highly educational and challenging. They can also be fun for car rides (though you do risk pegs getting lost in the car). They are portable and quiet, so they could be good in a waiting room or at a school presentation--places where your child might not be interested but needs to sit quietly.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

15 Common Characteristics of Gifted Children

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The day I realized my oldest child was truly gifted and not just a smart kid was one of my most poignant moments of regret as a parent. I have always tried to parent without regret. Of course moments come up. I wish I had been more patient. I wish I had focused less on my to do list the day before. Little mistakes come along. Most of the time, however, I have no major regrets. I parent very intentionally and don't make major decisions lightly.

This was a day of regret, however. My son was in the third grade. Eight years old. I had spent eight years of his life not addressing the fact that he was gifted. Sure, I always thought he was smart. I am an observant person, though, and it doesn't take much observation to see that basically every parent out there, especially the first time parent, thinks their child is the best thing to ever walk on the earth. I knew I was super impressed with everything he did, but I also observed him daily from the moment he was born. To get to where he was from where he started was impressive. Sure, most babies learn to smile at some point, but when my baby did that for the first time, it was the most amazing smile ever shone! At least that was my opinion, and I knew every parent out there felt the same about their own babies. 

I thought he was smart. Of course I did. I am his mother. 

Why the regret when I found out he wasn't just smart, but gifted? Because I didn't push to have more of an idea of his level of intelligence. I didn't educate myself on giftedness so I could help him navigate that world. It is learning your child has an aptitude for something and you haven't done anything to help nourish that aptitude. And once I started learning more about giftedness, I realized there is not only the aptitude side, but with giftedness comes the weaknesses. Gifted children typically excel in areas and lack in others. So not only was I not nourishing the aptitude, I wasn't taking into account the weaknesses and responding to those effectively. 

I will always be thankful to his third grade teacher who explicitly expressed to me how very gifted he was. She didn't beat around the bush. She didn't tone it down. She said it exactly like it was and made sure I grasped it. 

That is when I started researching how to parent a gifted child. 

A gifted child has unique needs. Just as a child in speech therapy needs specific education and help for that, a child who is gifted needs specific education and help. Most gifted children are out of sync in areas of life. "The more highly gifted the child, the more out of sync she is likely to be within herself, with wide difference between areas of strength and areas of relative weakness" (A Parent's Guide to Gifted Children page 7).

I don't want other parents to face that feeling of regret. Whenever someone contacts me wondering if their child might be gifted, I encourage them to research it. I highly recommend the book A Parent's Guide to Gifted Children. I realize the emotional risk here. I was there. I didn't want to be in a place where I pressured my child to be gifted if he wasn't. I didn't want him to feel the pressure to be gifted. I wanted him to know I loved him for him. No pressure. 

But there is power in knowing! So it is worth researching. 

It is also hard with teachers at school. No one wants to come across as a crazy mom, so when a Kindergarten teacher told me how he is really quite smart, I just nodded. I didn't ask more questions. He is my oldest and people didn't know me. Teachers are hesitant to use the word gifted before age 8, typically. Before that, it is hard to tell if intelligence is because of nature or nurture. It truly is hard to tell. They don't want to falsely label a child. 

There are some common characteristics of gifted children. Page 11 of A Parent's Guide to Gifted Children is full of a long list of characteristics. Of course, gifted people are humans, which means there is a wide diversity among them. And many of the listed characteristics can definitely be the result of nurturing. Usual alertness as an infant? Sound like a common comment toward Babywise babies in general? Longer attention span? Sound like a common result of a child who does Independent Playtime consistently? So it is tricky to look at the list and think, "My child is gifted!" without questioning some aspects. 

It is worth noting that my second child has also been identified as gifted. Once my oldest was, I knew she was also, especially when it came to the language side of life. With that said, I don't know what will happen with my current seven year old. She won't be identified now until she enters fourth grade due to the restructuring of the gifted program in our district. It is ironic that I hesitated to look into giftedness with my oldest because I didn't wand him feeling pressure. Now I have two gifted children with two more to follow--talk about pressure on them! I don't put it there, but I have no doubt it will be put there by themselves. 

That brings us to the 15 most typical characteristics of gifted children. These characteristics can help you determine if your child might be gifted. These start on page 12 in the A Parent's Guide to Gifted Children book.
  1. Strong verbal abilities. Gifted children have large vocabularies. "Their verbal abilities usually
    lead them to be early readers, and they often read extensively. Even before they can read, these children delight in (and insist upon being read to and are highly self-motivated to learn letters and numbers" (page 12-13). Here is the hard thing with this. I am one who speaks to my children like I speak to adults. I also read like crazy to my kids. These are things that will lead naturally to all of my kids, no matter what, having strong verbal abilities and loving books. Nature versus nurture can come up with every one of these. 
  2. Usually good memory. They learn quickly and easily and will "quickly notice if you omit a word when you read a bedtime story." Sometimes personality can come into this. Kaitlyn would never correct someone. She is too much of a peacemaker to tell the person reading the story they left a word out.
  3. Intense curiosity. Gifted children endlessly ask why. The hard thing with this one for me is, isn't this every single toddler and preschooler out there?!?
  4. Wide range if interests. Some focus completely on one single interest (until they move on) while others move from interest to interest. 
  5. Interest in experimenting. They may take things apart, mix things together...
  6. Passionate imagination and creativity. Gifted children often have imaginary friends. " long as the child gives and receives affection, imaginary playmates simply reflect the child's  high intelligence, active imagination, and creativity" (page 14).
  7. Remarkable sense of humor. They delight in word play and silly one-liners. 
  8. Desire for reasons and understanding. Gifted children are not satisfied with the answers of "Just because" or "Because I said so."
  9. Impatience with others or with themselves. They are often impatient. Gifted people have always been gifted, so they don't understand why others are not grasping concepts or moving through tasks as easily. I was labeled gifted as a child, and honestly, I was an adult before I really accepted that maybe people weren't just playing dumb or being lazy when they didn't get something. Gifted children can also be very impatient with themselves because they know what they want to accomplish, but can't quite reach it yet. 
  10. Longer attention span. "Persistence is a long-lasting trait of gifted children and adults" (page 16).
  11. Complex thinking. "The search for complexity leads them to become easily bored, particularly with routine tasks, and they may abandon tasks if they are too mundane" (page 16). 
  12. Concern with social or political problems or injustices. Gifted children are rule followers and have concern for rules at a younger age than most children. They are also concerned about fairness. 
  13. Sensitivity. "Professionals are beginning to recognize that the brighter the child, the more sensitive he may be" (page 17). They can be sensitive toward the feelings of others, sensitive to the expectations of others, and sensitive to conflict (peacemakers). They can have easily hurt feelings. They can also be sensitive to touch and smell. 
  14. Intensity. Gifted children are more intense than most. They do things with intensity. They believe things with intensity. They state opinions with intensity. 
  15. Daydreaming. They can get lost in their own thoughts and daydream. 
Many, if not all, of these traits can be used for benefits and can also be a hindrance. Strengths ad weaknesses. Daydreaming is a great skill for solving problems, but it can get a child in trouble in class if he isn't paying attention. Playing one million questions a day can get old, quickly, but it helps a child learn a lot if an adult will answer those questions. 

If you are wondering if your child might be gifted and these 15 characteristics seem to describe your child, I highly recommend you read A Parent's Guide to Gifted Children. It will help you get a better idea if your child is gifted and help you nourish both the strengths and the weaknesses of your child. You can know you did what you could to nourish, and you can move forward with one less regret. 

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Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Bedtime {Poll Discussion Post}

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The importance of bedtime is probably highly underrated. The timing of bedtime can strongly influence how night sleep goes and what time your child gets up the next morning. 

Please take a moment to answer the questions below. Doing so will help other parents now and in the future. It is very helpful for me when compiling answers if you at least number the answers you give. You can also copy the questions and answer them. If the question does not apply to you, simply put "N/A."
  1. What age is your child?
  2. What time is your child's bedtime?
  3. What time does you child get up each morning?
  4. What is your bedtime routine?
  5. How often do you have an altered bedtime for any reason?
  6. How does your child respond when bedtime time is off? How does sleep go that night and how is the next morning?
  7. What do you do that makes bedtime go smoother?
  8. Any thoughts or advice on bedtime and its importance?

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

McKenna Child Summary: 7.75 Years Old

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This is a summary for McKenna from 7.5 to 7.75 years old.

Eating is normal for her. That means she eats a lot and likes to eat healthy foods.

Sleeping has been great! We have continued the schedule change I talked about last time of doing family scriptures in the morning instead of the evening. This means she is able to get to bed earlier, and it really makes a huge difference on her tendency to argue. Sleep has a huge impact on her behavior. 

School is going really well for McKenna! She is having a great year. She really likes her teacher a whole lot. I find it so interesting how different personalities mesh with each other differently. McKenna is such a fun-loving person that I was sure she would prefer the fun-loving and outgoing teachers. While she loved them, she has loved every teacher she has had, she really thrives with the type of teacher she has right now. Her teacher now is chill. She doesn't get mad, and she also doesn't get overly excited. It is actually a very similar personality to mine. Her emotions are very stable. McKenna has really thrived in that environment. 

McKenna at the school's Evening of Art (like reflections). She did great! Here she is showing her first place in music.

In saying that, I don't mean her other teachers haven't been fantastic and that she didn't do well in school before. I just mean she does best with the more even-keeled teachers, which is not what I assumed would be true a few years ago. 

McKenna at a race at the school

Last time, I talked about how she wanted me to not read aloud to her anymore. I recently decided the best way to fit in reading to all of the children right now is to find a book I can read to the three older children at the same time. It isn't my ideal. I would prefer one-on-one. Life just isn't allowing for that to be a consistent daily thing. I was addressing that by taking turns with the kids, but I think I would rather read to them each day at the same time than have weeks where they aren't read to.

With our house addition, I often have long spurts where my husband can't help with anything around the house. This past fall, we had 6 solid weeks where he went to work, came home, and worked on the addition. He was working furiously to get the outside done and dried in for winter. With the added burden, I couldn't possibly read to 4 kids individually every night.

So I read to Brinley individually (and since our big push, my husband usually comes in and helps put Brinley to bed and reads to her). Then I am reading a book to the three older kids.

It was tricky finding a book they could all agree on. They all have different tastes in books, the most obvious being Brayden's leaning toward fantasy-type books (like Fablehaven) or World War II Historical Fiction, and McKenna leaning toward more girl-oriented books (like Whatever After and Nancy Clancy). 

I finally picked Old Yeller for them. It wasn't one they would have chosen, but they have of course enjoyed it so far, though they have been on edges since the first page since he declares that he kills the dog in the end...but I think it is good for them to have that warning. Before this, we read The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. That was another good one. I think I will continue to pull from these classic-type books for now. I have my eye set on the Princess Bride...

Last time, I talked about McKenna's big decision between swim team and gymnastics. The pool had to change their hours, and she was unable to continue swimming lessons. She literally cried every week that she didn't get to go swimming. Finally one week I asked her if she still wanted to do gymnastics, or if she would rather do swimming. She immediately replied "Swimming!" 

So I got ahold of our swim teacher who is also the gold team coach. We got a try-out taken care of and McKenna was ready for swim team. I felt bad that I had encouraged her to go toward gymnastics when she clearly prefers swimming, but our swim teacher said she thought it was a good thing. Because of this experience, she knows she misses swimming more than gymnastics. So it helped her learn better what she prefers. I thought that was a good point. 

First day of swim team 

She has only been on the swim team a couple of weeks, but she very much loves it. She comes home completely exhausted, which I have never seen before! McKenna's never tired physically. So that is fantastic. I know it won't last forever. Once she builds up her endurance for swimming, it won't be as tiring for her, but it is great for now. And she doesn't hate it! Brayden hated it for a little while--during the time he was building his endurance. She just asks for more. 

A nice perk for the family is that her practice times are the same times as Brayden's (Brayden goes more days a week, but her days are at the same times as his). So it feels like we just cut out something. McKenna just shifted, but it freed up the family quite a bit. 

Dance revue
McKenna is also taking piano lessons and doing well. She is also in a Musical Theatre Dance class. she is enjoying that a lot. Last year, she took dance off to do cheer leading. This year, she went back to dance. 

Date night to the Nutcracker

Finally, McKenna is hard to shop for. Not because she is picky, but because she is NOT picky. She likes everything, but also isn't so much into toys as she is into doing things. So for Christmas, we got her  a punch pass to a rock-climbing house. She LOVES it. She was so excited about the gift. I love experience gifts because they don't take up space in the house. 

School Schedule:

7:00 AM--wake up. Eat breakfast. Get ready. Do morning chores. Read scriptures. Practice piano.
9:15 AM--school starts
4:00 PM--home from school. Homework. Then free play.
5:30 PM--Dinner. Then time with family.
7:00 PM Start getting ready for bed.
8:00 PM--in be

Friday, January 13, 2017

Feed Me Friday: The Most Amazing Baked Potatoes

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I am all about feeding my family for cheap. I typically spend right around $100 a week on groceries to feed my family of six. I accomplish this by meal planning, buying things when they are on super sale (like, I am the crazy lady buying 30 jars of spaghetti sauce at a time), and by trying to have inexpensive meals every so often. My trouble with this goal is that I like variety in my diet. I seriously have a hard time eating the same food for dinner within 30 days. If I made spaghetti for dinner last week, I can't do it next week. It needs to a be a month or more after last week.

During the winter, however, I make baked potatoes twice a month. We live very close to the southern border of Idaho, and we get a 50 pound bag of potatoes for $10. Pretty awesome! And pretty cheap. I have to swallow my issues with the 30 day rule and embrace the baked potato. 

A few months ago, I came across a life-changing way to bake a potato. I have always really liked baked potatoes. It isn't uncommon to see me ordering that as my potato choice in a restaurant. But if I am going to eat it twice in one month, it needs to be fantastic. Amazing. 

I found it. 

You must know about it. 

So here I am.


  • Potatoes (I use Russet)
  • Olive oil
  • Kosher salt (this is the life changing part)
  • Pepper
  • Desired toppings

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees
  2. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil
  3. Scrub the potatoes so they are nice and clean
  4. Pat the potatoes dry. Place them on your baking sheet
  5. Use a fork to prick holes all over eat potato
  6. Get a little bowl and pour some olive oil in it. Get a baster  (affiliate) and coat olive oil all over each potato. You can of course just use your hands if you want to
  7. Sprinkle the potatoes with salt and pepper. I sprinkle one side then flip and sprinkle the other. I think this is the key step to getting delicious potatoes.
  8. Bake for 50-60 minutes. Flip every 20 minutes. I bake for at least 60 minutes. I do six potatoes at a time, and our potatoes are pretty big. I either squeeze the potato to see if it is done or I poke it with a fork. You want the skin to be crispy and the inside to be soft
  • To make getting the inside out easier, squeeze the potato all over before you cut it open. If it is super hot and you can't wait for it to cool down some, you can press it with a fork. 
  • Cut the potato in half. Scoop out the inside. 
  • Put your favorite toppings. We like butter, sour cream, cheese, chili, bacon, ham, peas, broccoli, salt, and pepper (not all of those things at the same time! But it is your potato...)
  • I also load some toppings into my potato skins. That is my favorite part of any baked potato! My favorite is just butter and sour cream.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

The Colicky Newborn {Guest Post}

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Colic and newborns
by Shea Moses

So your little bundle of joy seems less joyful and more fitful? I bet colic was never included in your visions for what life would be like in the early days of bringing home your new baby. Having a newborn at home is challenging and requires major life adjustments, so throw in a dash of colic (just for fun!) and you are in for quite a ride. The bad news is you can never really fully prepare for it. The good news is that you can manage it and there is an end - even when you are certain that there surely is not. 

What is colic?
When my 2nd daugther was born, I was so confused. All she did was cry. It wasn't a sweet little muffled fussing. It was an angry, loud, ear piercing, heartbreaking scream. I had never heard that kind of crying from such a tiny being, and I couldn't seem to ease her cries no matter what I tried.  I was easily put out by it, and frustrated that nothing I could offer her would help her to find comfort. The poor pediatricians office knew my voice on the other end of the line because I think I called them 589839045 times per day, as I just needed an answer. A reason for the constant crying would have been so good for me in the way of being patient, but there is no real answer for colic. The jury is still out on that one.  Finally, the doctor looked at me and said, "Your daughter isn't broken, she seems to suffer from colic".  The doctor said there are several theories about what causes colic, but really its just nothing more than unexplained fussiness in otherwise very healthy infants. 

He explained that colic is usually ruled by 3. It begins to really be noticeable by 3 weeks old. Babies who suffer from this are usually crying for 3 hours a day at LEAST 3 days a week. It is most commonly phased out by 3 months of age. He mentioned to me that colicky babies are very hard to calm down when they are having their "colicky fits", and they often seem to be in extreme pain due to gas. He of course went on to encourage me by telling me they have a hard time settling down for sleep. He said nap times will likely be inconsistent and hard to come by. When she was 7 weeks old, I will never forget, she was awake for 6 hours straight and cried for the entire.6.hours. I was ready to give up on motherhood all together that day.  He assured me that there was no medicine or magic potion that would heal her from it. She simply had to live through it until she grew out of it. 

How to manage: Just survive somehow (JSS for you Walking Dead fans!)
I knew prior to having my 2nd daughter that we would be implementing a babywise schedule with her as it was wildly well received by our 1st daughter. I am so thankful that during my 2nd daughter's difficult time with colic I had a schedule that I could use as my "baseline" for the day. Its likely that with a colicky baby, no two days will really look the same. It is difficult to truly implement a real routine with a baby who is dealing with colic - but I remember how I prioritized still offering the schedule I would want ideally (with a non-colicky baby) for her. I kept in mind appropriate wake time lengths and offered naps each day at the same time. Whether she took me up on them or not, I still went through the motions. This paid off insanely well when the colic was waning and she was more joyful that fitful. I was shocked at how she responded to the schedule so well as she began to outgrow the colic fits. Most days, I just had to make do with what I got from her, but she fell instantly in line with a healthy routine once the colic had passed her by. 

During the difficult days, I googled everything and tried all the tricks. Yes, I even made my daughter a bottle of onion water bacause I read that would ease any tummy troubles she was having. I dipped her pacifier in all kinds of herbs. This was before the essential oil craze, but don't you know I would have been all over some essential oils for her if I would have known about them. We did gas relieving exercises about 100 times per day. I ate chicken, turkey, bread and drank only water as to make sure my milk was not the culprit. If there was a tried and true trick, trust me, I tried it. I don't know that any of those things actually helped her, but knowing I was trying everything under the sun for her helped me and so I needed too. 

Harvey Karp's 5 S's were very helpful to us during those weeks. She did seem to be more responsive to the swaddling, sucking, shhhhing, swaying, and being her on side the older she grew. We practiced all of these techniques with her, and even if it wouldn't *always* help her to sleep, it would help her crying to be a bit less. 

Finally, I had to be ok with breaking some of the rules that I would normally have followed. I had to let her sleep where she could. I wore her a lot for naps in her fussier days. I had to be ok with a less than perfect schedule and work with the naps that I could get from her. I used this sleep hierarchy from the one and only babywise mom for reference all the time. 

I was not aware of the wonder weeks, or developmental leaps, that babies all go through when my 2nd daughter was born, but I certainly could have used that information to ease my own nerves during her early days. I was so grateful to have learned about them with my 3rd daughter - and I would highly recommend following those for your baby, colic or no colic alike!

It was a long 13 weeks with our sweet girl. I questioned everything I thought I knew, and my heart ached when I couldn't be a true source of comfort for her. I had to look further into her eyes to find a solid connection with her, and I was so unbelievably thankful for the nursing relationship I had with her. It was the ONE thing I could provide her with that would seem to please her and I held onto that with extreme gratitude and still think back to that time with sweet memories. I had to take small joys and make them big to get through her colicky stage and tweaking my perspective to anything good and sweet with her made a large difference for me. 

It ends. It really does.

It has been just shy of 6 years since colic rocked our home. I always say it stays a fresh wound no matter how much time has passed, because it causes quite the memorable uproar for families. While you are in the middle of it, it consumes you and time seems to just creep by. Take heart, mama. It will fade into a memory soon enough. Its painful to walk in the middle of it,  I know, but I have been on the other side of colic now for over 5 years and she is a happy, and healthy, obedient, smart kindergartner now. Almost daily, this child who gave me some of the most difficult days I can remember, makes my heart burst. It will end, but until then be patient with yourself and your precious, fitful one.

 Babywise Friendly Blog Network

Shea is the mom of 4 girls ages 8, 6, 4, and 2. She has practiced babywise philosophies in her home with all 4 of her children and believes wholeheartedly in helping her children learn to appreciate the value in restful, restorative sleep. 

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Impact of Disruptions {Poll Results Post}

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Disruptions are scary simply because you have no idea if a disruption will serve to negatively impact the progress and strides made to date. It is the fear of the unknown.

Every baby is different and some babies handle disruptions more smoothly than others. I thought it would be helpful, however, to get some insight on what real-life experience people have had with disruptions. You can see original answers here. Answers were also shared on my Facebook Page.

I love the pearls of wisdom readers always throw out there when I am going through these poll results. Be sure to read through the content here. 

1-How would you describe your baby/child's general personality? For example, angel, textbook, spirited, touchy, grumpy, easy-going, etc.
Textbook: 2
Angel/Textbook: 1
Spirited: 1
Touchy: 1
Unsure (easy going but not textbook): 1

2-How did/does your baby/child handle disruptions to a daily routine? What is the result? For example, go with the flow, sleep gets messed up, increased crying, no change, etc.
Lisa said: "Harder to settle for naps following disruption/ takes longer to wind herself down/ often needs more help to settle e.g. Dummy, hand settling
She also seems to sleep REALLY long on Thursdays which I think is because she is exhausted from church on a Wednesday night. "

Katie said: "A - My oldest, a spirited to the extreme baby, seemed "messed up" all the time anyway as a baby. It was nearly impossible to get him to sleep as much as he really needed, although I tried hard! But the nice thing was that he did extremely well with disruptions, at least during the disruption. He was a very cheerful and outgoing baby. Getting him caught up on sleep after was sometimes a challenge.
B - My second, a textbook baby, was pretty textbook with disruptions. I think she would do okay with them most of the time.
C - My third, a touchy baby, just cried a lot in the first year whether things were disrupted or not. Looking back, she was probably reacting to a lot of things I had no idea about - tags in her clothes or wind on her face or whatever - whether she was disrupted or on routine."

Brittany said: "Very well, he went with the flow. I honestly rarely see an impact if we ever have a disruption to our day. I do try to always stick to normal nap times though, I'm pretty strict there." 

Isobel said: "I have not noticed many issues with nap disruptions. Usually, an early bedtime can offset any extra short or mostly missed naps. However, bedtime/nightime disruptions set him back for several days. For example, this weekend we visited family 3 hours away for a Christmas gathering. He handled the various naps excellently, and was put down for bedtime at his normal time and went to sleep. We left about an hour and a half after bedtime and he slept in the car for the first two hours of the drive, but then we got caught in bad weather and he ended up waking and being up for an hour and a half. For the next three nights he reverted to 2 feedings a night and more wakings, and now he seems to have gotten back to a better night sleep. His overall temperment does not seem affected, just his sleep."

3-If your baby/child has some sort of change from disruptions, about how long does it usually take to get back on track once you get back to your normal routine?
By the end of the next nap or the start of the next day: 1
A long time: 1
Within a day: 1
3 days: 1
Weeks or a month: 1
N/A: 1

4-Is there a limit to the duration of disruptions your baby/child can handle?
No: 2
Maybe: 3
Yes: 1

5-What is your current policy on disruptions? Do you limit, do you banish, do you allow all disruptions, or do you have some combo or play-it-by ear approach?
Lisa said: "Try to tell people no if she has had a lot of disruptions recently. We pick and choose what we will do so as not to cause too many disruptions e.g. If there was something on in the morning and the evening we would choose to just do one."

Katie said: "Now my kids are older (turning 9, 6, and 4). I do limit disruptions still as much as needed and we still do early bedtimes as long as needed afterwards. I don't stress about it much anymore. They can cognitively understand the routine, the disruption, and getting back on track. This of course makes a world of difference."

Brittany said: "I strictly limit disruptions that will interfere with him missing nap time."

Isobel said: "I try to eliminate bedtime disruptions except for special occcasions. I do feel that during the holiday season it is more important that baby learn to adjust to the family's activities than that the family not spend time with others to preserve baby's schedule. We will do our best to get him his naps at regular times in quiet, dark places but there may be a few nights he does go down for bedtime at someone else's house and will be transferred. This is a situation in which as a family we feel baby needs to fit in to our life. So I do try to limit disruptions, and when we are out and about I do my best to maintain his schedule and consistency, but I try to keep in mind that while I need to responsibly and carefully manage his life for his good, he is a part of our family as opposed to the family revolving around him. "

6-Any words of advice for parents facing disruptions?
Lisa said: "Try keep to the timing of their schedule e.g. They sleep and eat when they are meant to sleep and eat - but don't worry too much about how. My bubs will sleep in my arms, being rocked in pram, in sling etc. when we are out somewhere. These are all things I don't do when we are at home."

Katie said: " I think in all honesty that having done CIO helped me most. Every time we had to "redo" CIO seemed easier than the last - I knew the baby knew the routine and knew what they were supposed to do, partly because we'd done it before and partly because with each disruption, they were older than the last time. In the end, looking back, my best advice is to take fun pictures if the disruption is for a positive reason (Christmas, vacation, visiting relatives, special event) because later you'll let yourself forget the misery of being disrupted or getting back on track, and you will be SO glad you have cute pictures of what can remain only fun memories! ...I never used this as the primary factor in making the decision for/against disruptions. Usually it was things like whether we needed to be somewhere, etc. Family vacations were kept somewhat limited in the early years, at least for my older kids."

Isobel said: " Don't be afraid to stand up for what you know your child needs as far as getting them down for naps on time, bedtime, etc. But I have found it helpful to remind myself not to stress too much when there are disruptions due to family gathering, social events my husband and I deem important, etc. because ultimately baby is a part of our family and not the revolving point of it, so it is okay for him to learn to adjust in select instances."

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Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Brinley Summary: 4 Years 5 Months Old

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This is a summary for Brinley in her fifth month as a four year old. As children get older, we always find ourselves as parents being amazed by what they can do and the things they say. I find this age to be a time when it really starts to hit you that your little baby is a little person with eloquent ideas. 

Sleep is great. Nothing new or exciting to report.

Eating is good. Brinley basically has eggs with toast every single day for lunch. No deviation. Well, rare deviation. All of my kids have had their staple they ate basically every day for lunch as four year olds. Brayden had peanut butter and jelly every day. Kaitlyn had toast with butter. McKenna had pickles with every meal. Brinley has eggs with toast. 

Brinley super loves preschool! She can't get enough. 

I don' want to jinx anything, but Brinley's rollercoaster of emotions is becoming a smoother ride. Her emotional swings are not so high and low (most of the time). She is able to control her deeply-felt emotions better. It is a glimmer--a light at the end of the tunnel. My experience tells me that she will come out of these emotional outbursts. She will return to herself. The year can be challenging to get through at times, but we will get there!

Of course there are some emotionally low points with the emotional four year old, but there are also some major emotional highs. You have to soak in those fun moments and ride those highs through the outbursts. 

Here is what was pretty consistent for non-school days:

8:30 or 9:00--wake up/get ready/eat breakfast
9:30--play with siblings
usually independent play for an hour in between now and lunch
12:00 --lunch. Then play.
4:30 or 5:00--Wake up. Eat dinner. Then family time.
8:00--Get ready for bedtime
8:30 or 9:00--Bedtime

Monday, January 9, 2017

How to Use the Extinction Method for Sleep Training

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Healthy sleep is vital to the growth and health of your child. While some babies are born being great sleepers, most have to learn how at some point in some way. There are several options in sleep training. One such method is cry it out. When it comes to using the cry it out (CIO) method for sleep training, there are basically two options. One is "graduated extinction"--also known as Ferber. This method means that you will go in at some point during the crying to attempt to re-soothe the baby and then leave. The other option is extinction. This means you put baby down and do not go back in for any soothing.
On the surface, extinction appears to be harsher than graduated extinction. Indeed, using graduated extinction is usually easier on the parent than an extinction method. In his book Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child (affiliate link), Dr. Weissbluth states, "While appearing harsh, it is my impression that the total amount of crying with "Extinction" is less than with "Graduated Extinction" because success occurs faster" (page 211). I am in agreeance with this impression. 

The Pros of the Extinction Method
  • It is simpler to follow--fewer rules and fewer variables
  • It typically leads to no crying at all much faster than any other method
  • It is easier to be perfectly consistent
  • It is short. "The whole process usually takes only a few days" (page 297)
The Cons of the Extinction Method
  • It is often harder on the parents than other sleep training methods "Small, soothing efforts such as kissing the forehead, rearranging the blankets, comforting, and patting appear trivial to parents, but they interfere enormously with learning to fall asleep unassisted" (page 299)
The Key Points of the Extinction Method
  • You put baby down and do not return until after baby has slept. This is the absolute rule when putting baby down at night. During the day, you might set a time limit and get baby at some point to avoid sleep deficit and allow a short nap to happen. "Once your child is in bed, he is there to stay, no matter how long he cries, if you are using the Extinction method" (page 261). 
  • Be sure your waketime length is correct. This cuts down on crying time.
Anecdotal Commentary
I have written this blog for over nine years. Over the course of those years, I have heard from thousands of parents about their sleep training experience. 

Typically, yes, extinction method is the fastest and most effective way to go about things. It is a very effective method for a first time parent because it doesn't require you to be able to make so many judgement calls. It is the method we used on our oldest, Brayden, and it was very effective for him. I quickly realized that checking on him only made it worse for him, and I didn't want to make him cry more in an attempt to make myself feel better. 

With Kaitlyn (my second child), however, I quickly realized that she did much better with CIO when I did interfere. She cried less with my interference than she did with an extinction approach. So I must always throw in there that you have to trust your instincts and listen to your baby's needs. Just because "most" babies out there respond fastest to extinction does not mean that extinction will definitely be best for your baby. Probably? Yes. But not definitely. 

I clearly had experience with CIO that led to me having a couple of great sleepers. It doesn't mean I didn't fully hate it. Because of that, I looked to other options. The option I found and stuck with for my third and fourth babies is the 4 S's. You can see a link that below. Without a doubt, this is my number one recommended method to go about sleep training. My last two babies slept better earlier and with basically no crying. I am not against CIO in principle and I know it works. I also know it is hard on the hearts of parents, and that is why I love the 4 S's. It is an effective method to achieve the desired results while being very low-stress. 

Related Posts:
 5 reasons to establish healthy sleep habits

 5 sleep training tips

 What age should you start CIO?

 Optimal waketime lengths

 Cry It Out Bootcamp

 Sleep Training the 4 S's

 Optimal Waketime Lengths

 Sleep training and trust

Friday, January 6, 2017

Toy Ball for the Chewiest of Dogs {Friday Finds}

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"Why did you get a lab?" my new neighbor implored. "My lab chewed down a tree" she continued. My early-twenties self gave her a sweet smile and replied that we just love how sweet labs are. She was our first dog we owned as adults. I grew up constantly having at least two dogs my whole life. We had muts, huskies, great danes, terriers, yorkies...I had lots of dog experience, even though no lab experience. Labs were the sweetest. I had seen them in public with their owners! So sweet.

Less than a week later, my sweet lab puppy of 9 weeks old literally chewed down her own tree. A quaking aspen at my parent's house. It was a young aspen, but a tree none-the-less.

Oh youth.

Being the responsible adult at home with a puppy is different than being a child living at home with a puppy. Labs are indeed sweet, but also prone to chewing and very high energy. 

By the time we got our second lab puppy, we had learned a few things. One was to get our cute little lab toys that could have a chance of standing up to her. Enter the Jolly Ball.

The Jolly Ball is a ball my mom uses for her horses to play with (yes, you read that right). They are supposed to not pop nor deflate, so I figured they might stand a chance with a lab (for a time). 

They have been awesome! I get her a new one about every six months because it does eventually deflate. But we throw it for her every day. She loves to pick it up and thrash it about back and forth. It survives! For at least six months! I will say she isn't trying to destroy it. She loves it and I can tell she is trying to be careful with it, but she is also playing with it. We have been buying these balls for five years and they stand up well. This post contains affiliate links.

We have always gotten the large one--the 10" labeled "horseman's pride." They make them for dogs, but they are smaller and not as sturdy. For the color, I literally just get whichever one is the cheapest when it is time to buy. They are scented and that has never bothered my dog. 

My sweet lab is old enough now that she is even more responsible with her toys than she was as a younger puppy. I decided for Christmas to get her a dog-sized one. I got a 6 inch one. I figured this way, Brinley would have a much easier time throwing her ball. The 10-inch is kind of heavy and I can't even get it very far. My husband can get it all the way across the yard, but the rest of us don't make it very far. 

Our dog has liked it so far! It has obviously not been very long, so I can't speak the longevity of the small ball yet, but it has been nice to have a small option and she has shown equal interest in her small and large balls. 

If you have a chewer, you will want to give a Jolly Ball a try! It just might be just what you needed.


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