Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Poll Results: At what age did you have your child start feeding self with a spoon?

12-13 months 71 (37%)
14 months 29 (15%)
15 months 21 (11%)
16 months 15 (8%)
17-18 months 22 (11%)
19 months or older 29 (15%)

Total of 187 votes

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Reminder: You can leave comments on poll results posts if you would like to add to the poll after it has closed. This would be helpful for those who have more than one child, those whose children have reached certain ages after a poll closed, and those who didn't visit the blog while that poll was open. To find closed polls, click on the poll results link above.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

McKenna Pre-Toddler Summary: 15 Months Old


Things have been good for McKenna the last couple of weeks. They have been kind of crazy with summer activities, but so far we have managed to pretty much keep her so she gets the sleep she needs for the most part. That won't be the case all summer, but I am glad it has been thus far.

EATING
She is still eating a whole lot of food. I am really not exaggerating. People comment on it all the time. She loves to eat and eats a lot. She had a couple of days where she slowed down, but then she jumped right back up again. Someone pointed out that she never holds still, and that is true. For a girl, she is quite a mover. Even in my womb I knew she would be that way. She was a mover. With Kaitlyn, I would reach the end of the day and realize I hadn't felt her kick that day, so I would lay down and do the kick counts. I figured that was pregnancy with a toddler to chase.

Well, McKenna never left me wondering. She was sure to kick and kick hard. She is kind of a paradox. She will sit happily in your lap, but at the same time, she usually is at least waving a leg around in the air. She is constantly moving something around.

People around me who have seen the massive amounts of food she eats have been asking lately what her pooping is like. Ahh parents. Aren't we funny? So I thought maybe some of you are wondering. If not, then you aren't fully grasping how much food she eats. Her poop amounts aren't over the top. She poops three times a day and they aren't huge. She just must have a fast metabolism and she is always moving something. My husband has a very fast metabolism, so I am guessing she got it too. Lucky girl. I wish I could eat like she does :)

Purees
McKenna has pretty well banned purees from her diet. Every so often you can get them in her, which I still attempt because she doesn't like to eat whole green veggies. But most days, she just eats extra carrots, sweet potatoes (yams), or squash.

PLAYING
Things have been busy. There have even been most days she doesn't have a chance for independent play. When I do it, she is still fine. I am hoping this week I can be sure to get it in there every day because it is something I do not like missing. We have had morning swimming lessons, so that has taken from our independent play time. Then we have been busy during afternoon waketime and of course evening is family time....so this week our afternoons should be calm and we should work this in.

SLEEPING
No issues sleeping. At all. She is amazing.

So I shared about how we went camping and she slept until we woke her at 8:30 AM despite her noisy siblings by her. Amazing.

We went camping again this last weekend, and she again slept until 8:30, although this time she woke up on her own at 8:30. She is such a deep sleeper.

I started tracking her naps with the spreadsheet I made that I talked about last time. I am not tracking anymore because it was of no interest. Every day was "went down quickly. Slept until I woke her." for both naps. She obviously is not at a point of needing to tweak naps at all right now.

COMMUNICATION
This last weekend, McKenna said her first sentence. "Hi Daddy." She also said, "I did it!" but I am not so sure I would really count that as a sentence. I think in her mind, it is more of a single word. I am pretty shocked. I was telling a friend Friday she would be a later sentence speaker, and this is early. We will see what happens. She doesn't say a high number of words--she is pretty average. But she is progressing. And she is very good at communicating what she wants, with or without words.

She does mix up her sign language quite often. She is getting better with doing "all done" correctly, but if she is being impatient, "more" is pretty much signed to mean whatever she is thinking at the moment. You basically can tell with her eyes, but she is so good at non-verbals that even Brayden can tell you what her "more" means...more, all done, yeah.....

MINI-FITS
We still haven't escalated to full fits yet. She pretty much growls when she is upset. She is pretty chill and willing to go with the flow. If you tell her no, most of the time she is content to do something else instead. Yes, she is tenacious, but typically as she is trying over and over, she is laughing about it. She isn't frustrated or upset. Then she moves on to something new. But at this point, she usually moves on to something new right away without a fight.

SCHEDULE
Our schedule is different than usual right now:

8:30 AM--wake, get dressed, eat (fruit mixed with yogurt, oatmeal, milk). Go to swimming lessons.
10:20 AM--get home.
10:30 AM--nap.
12:30 PM--wake, lunch, sibling playtime. Independent playtime for one hour if we are home.
2:30 PM--nap
4:30-5:00 PM--wake, play until dinner time.
5:30ish PM--dinner with family. Finger foods and what we are having. She also has milk. Then time with family.
7:30 PM--Bath, PJs, story, prayers, bed.

GOOD BOOKS/WEBSITES

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Monday, June 28, 2010

My Sleep Hierarchy For Newborns

Brayden as a newborn
Many times, we get a little stressed out with our newborns in terms of sleep. We worry about starting bad habits and we want to teach our little ones healthy sleep patterns. I have gotten many frazzled phone calls and emails from various people unsure about what to do with the non-sleeping newborn.

I have a personal sleep hierarchy for newborns. I have come to this value system on sleep based on my personal experience and a compilation of things I have read in various sleep books. It is quite simple:

GOAL #1: Baby Sleeps When She Should

My number one goal for newborns and sleep is that they sleep when it is time to sleep. I don't care what it takes for sleep so long as sleep is happening.

If a newborn gets overtired, she isn't going to sleep well, and that isn't going to do anyone any good. She won't be able to put herself to sleep in that state, which just perpetuates a non-sleep cycle. She also won't eat well if she is tired, which isn't healthy. Plus, sleep is important.

So the most important thing is that baby is sleeping when it is time to sleep.

GOAL #2: Baby Sleeps When She Should, In Her Own Bed

Of course, there are risks and problems with baby sleeping at all costs. A major problem in my mind with baby sleeping in a swing or in a sling is that sleep while in motion is not as restorative as stationery sleep. So if you do use motion to get baby to sleep, it is best to have the nap take place in a stationery place, like her own bed. Weissbluth suggests if you have baby fall asleep in a swing that you turn the swing off once she is asleep. Stationary sleep is far superior to sleep while in motion. Sleep while in motion does not allow the body to get into as deep of sleep.

So, even better than baby sleeping when she should is baby sleeping in her bed.

GOAL #3: Baby Sleeps When She Should, In Her Own Bed, and Falls Asleep On Her Own

The ultimate goal is to have your child sleep when she should, in her bed, and fall asleep on her own. This is what is going to get her the most benefits from sleeping. Another risk of having baby sleep at all costs is starting bad habits--like being unable to fall asleep unless she is in a swing. This goal is the best case scenario--this is what you are striving for.

But goal three shouldn't completely replace goal one. For a newborn, sleeping is most important. So if you put her down in her bed awake and she has a hard time falling asleep, my thinking is it is best to help her fall asleep so you can try again next time. Odds are she is having a hard time falling asleep because she is over tired or over stimulated. If you help her fall asleep, you can try again next nap to get the timing right. If not, she will be overly tired perpetually.

Conclusion

I definitely understand the desire to avoid sleep problems down the road. Start as you mean to go on! McKenna went to sleep on her own for every nap and bedtime starting at three days old. Without crying, but I didn't know for sure she would do that the first time I put her down. Yes, I highly value good habits from the start.

Part of that is because I allowed and started bad habits with Brayden from the start. When we finally went to CIO with him, he had a hard time because he wasn't just learning how to sleep on his own, he was unlearning all of these props he had been supplied with. Of all my kids, he had the hardest run with CIO--the most intense crying. It took him the longest to get it. I do believe if you can get them in the right habits from the beginning, it will be easier on them in the long run.

But you have time to work on things in the future. This is my newborn sleep hierarchy; a sleep hierarchy and my practices would be different for babies 3 months and older. But for the newborn, it sleep is the most important goal right now. It is a fine balancing act between establishing good habits and allowing for sleep. It is one you will likely stumble on along the way--especially your first time around. But you can get it. Try your best to not stress about it. If your baby needs help falling asleep, there is always the next nap. So long as baby doesn't get too tired, you will be able to keep working at it.


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And the winner is...

The winner of the Izzy & Ivy giveaway is...

Summer! Congrats. You left your contact info, so I will contact you for your address.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Product Review: Prima Princessa's Swan Lake {Giveaway}


Item: Ballet DVD
Company: Prima Princessa
Website: http://primaprincessa.com/


Kaitlyn really seems to like to dance. She has a lot of natural rhythm and she really enjoys it. So when Stephanie, co-owner of Prima Princessa, contacted me about their Swan Lake DVD, I was intrigued. I am definitely no ballet expert...by any means...but I know if something is fun and useful for my little girl.

We got the DVD and stuck it in. Stephanie had told me, "Kids can’t resist putting on their ballet tutus and dancing along, watching our shows over and over and over again." I wanted to put this statement to the test, so I had her sit on the couch just like we always do for movies. I sat down also and we started the show.

At first, I was a bit concerned. Kaitlyn has a good attention span and all, but the show included dancing from the world-famous Paris Opera Ballet performing excerpts from Swan Lake. I wondered how she would like that. You know the whole stereotype of ballet being boring to watch...

She was interested from the start. The show is narrated in a child friendly manner by a cartoon fairy ballerina along with fun, fast paced dance-lesson-montages featuring students from the School of American Ballet, the official academy of the New York City Ballet. It also has little girls dancing around doing their versions of the ballet--and happily, they look like 3-6 year old girls would, not like professionally trained ballerinas (you, professional for a 3 year old :) ). In my mind, this makes it much more child-friendly for the family sitting at home watching the DVD.

Before long, Kaitlyn asked me if she could get her tutu on. She also wanted some dress up shoes since the ballerinas on stage had shoes. So she had her shoes and tutu and danced along. She was even able to follow the story line told by the cute little narrator. When it was over, she wanted to do it "again, and again, and again."

When she saw her Daddy for the first time that day, it was the first thing she talked about. She really enjoyed it.

The website is pretty neat, too. Stephanie says, "Our ballet web-site is quickly becoming The Complete Ballet Resource: with listings of 100s of ballet schools and summer camps, a ballet dictionary, listings of where to buy ballet tutus, free ballet coloring pages and much more."

Here is a bit about the series:

The producers of the “Prima Princessa” DVD series, Stephanie Troeller and Mary Kate Mellow, are both mothers of dance loving daughters, who were the original source of inspiration for the series. Each DVD in the series has the cartoon fairy ballerina Prima Princessa escort a group of pre-schoolers on a magical journey to see a live performance of a classic storybook ballet, delightfully narrated so children may fully understand the plot. Between acts, they return home and in fun colorful montages of toys, animals, and kids, they learn ballet steps from students at the School of American Ballet, the official academy of the New York City Ballet.

The creative duo is motivated by a deep desire to bring the beauty and wonder of ballet into the lives of young children who otherwise might not have that opportunity. Their goal is to inspire a trend in children’s programming towards the arts, where we raise the bar of entertainment to be culturally and intellectually enriching as well as just plain fun. Judging by the more than 175 amazing reviews of the Prima Princessa DVDs, children, parents, and critics agree that Prima Princessa is well on her way.


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Are you interested in trying this out for your little one? Prima Princessa is giving a way a copy of their Swan Lake DVD! You will have five chances to win a copy. Due to the business of summers, you will also have two weeks to get all of your entries in. Here is how to enter:



For Your First Entry:

Become a follower of this blog. Then leave a comment. If you are already a follower (the thing where your cute face pops up with all the other cute faces of people following), comment telling me so.

Sample Entry
I am a follower!



For Your Second Entry:
Go to the Prima Princessa website. Look around and come back and comment telling us you think the neatest feature is of the website.

Sample Entry
I love the list of ballet schools! Very useful!


For Your Third Entry:
"Like" this blog on Facebook. Already do? Tell me so. Comment saying you follow through Facebook.


Sample Entry
Hi! I am now follow through Facebook!



For Your Fourth Entry:
Blog about the giveaway with a link to this post! You need to have a blog in order to blog about it. Once you have posted your blog, leave a comment with a link to the blog.


Sample Entry
I blogged it! valscreations.blogspot.com



For Your Fifth Entry:
Grab my button and put it on your blog. Then leave a comment saying you did so with a link to your blog. Already have it? Comment saying so.


Sample Entry
I grabbed it! valscreations.blogspot.com


For Your Sixth Entry:
Tweet about the giveaway. Then comment saying you did so. Include your twitter ID (not mine)

Sample Entry
I tweeted it! @valplowman


There you have it! Good luck to everyone! And if you don't win, you can find this DVD on Amazon.com.



Entry Rules
  • You must leave a comment in order to have an entry.
  • You must leave a separate comment for each entry. This is not so I can get lots of comments--it is because it makes it a million times easier to choose a winner. It takes less time, and less time is good.
  • You don't have to do all six entries...for example, if you just want to like this blog on facebook but don't want to enter through the other methods, you can just do entry three.
  • One entry per comment.
  • Up to six entries per person.
  • You must fulfill the rules of each entry for each entry to count. If I see the entry is not valid (did not meet entry requirements), I will remove your entry. Trust me, I check.
  • Entries will be accepted until 11:59 PM Sunday, July 11 Mountain Standard Time.
  • The winner will be randomly selected at random.org
  • The winner will be announced Monday, July 12.
  • If you would like, you can add your email address to your entry. If you are the winner, I will email you to let you know. You do not need to add your email address in order to win. I understand not everyone wants to share their email addresses with the world. I will announce the winner on the blog, so you can check the blog Saturday to find out if you won.
  • Once the winner is announced, you will have one week to contact me or another winner will be chosen.

New Pattern Added

As if you needed any more reason to enter to win patterns from Izzy & Ivy, but they have added one more pattern to the mix:


Go enter!

Giveaway Extended

I have decided to extend the giveaway for Izzy & Ivy for a couple of days because I will be gone tomorrow. So, enter away until midnight Sunday (June 27). The winner will be announced Monday morning (June 28).

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Regulatory Sleep Systems

In Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child, Weissbluth talks about two regulatory systems the body uses for sleep (pages 15-16). These are Homeostatic Control Mechanism (which I shall henceforth refer to as HCM) and Circadian Timing System or Internal Timing System (which I shall refer to as circadian rhythm because that is how I first learned it). The information in the book on these two topics is not extensive; it is only two paragraphs long. But there have been tons of studies on the two topics.

HCM basically is the body's function for making up for lost sleep. The longer you are awake, the longer your body will try to sleep. Your body wants to restore lost sleep. Weissbluth says this is a system we cannot control, much like sweating. If we are hot, we will sweat.

My personal commentary on HCM. First of all, the term HCM isn't a great one. There are lots of homeostatic control mechanisms. The human body is full of them. The liver, the kidneys, the brain...the brain is full of them :). Homeostasis is basically the body working to to keep things stable in the body despite external forces. If homeostasis fails, things like diabetes, dehydration, hypoglycemia, etc. can occur.

I think the way Weissbluth refers to HCM makes it sound like, "If your baby needs to sleep, he will. His body will make up for it. Plus, if he is awake for a long time, he will sleep for a long time." Now, there is much throughout the book to negate that feeling, but his info on HCM definitely leads you in that direction.

And many parents come to this idea on their own. They keep baby awake longer in order to try to get longer naps or more nighttime sleep out of the baby. But we know sleep begets sleep, and creating an overly tired baby causes major sleep problems.

Here is a better way of looking at HCM in sleep. The HCM drives the body to sleep. As you are awake, you build up a need for sleep--a sleep debt. The longer you are awake, the more your body wants to sleep. So the HCM doesn't mean you will definitely sleep when needed. It is a way for your body to tell you to sleep. But not all people, babies included, listen to this drive.

You can't look at HCM by itself to figure out sleep needs. Some bodies are likely better at self-regulating need for sleep. They have better homeostatic control, just like some bodies are better at managing sugar than others. You also have to consider how long it has been since the person slept....optimal waketime. And we also have circadian rhythm to consider.

Whew! Feeling a bit of information overload? Take a deep breath. Get a drink.

Let's keep going.

Aaahhh Circadian Rhythm. I find this very fascinating. To be quite honest, I really only wanted to write about circadian rhythm, but the two are pretty interdependent, so that is why we have talked about HCM.

The Circadian Rhythm is set to sunlight. It uses the sun to make sure the body is sleeping when it should and that you are having correct stages while sleeping. The circadian rhythm is about 24 hours (circadian is based on a Latin word that translates to "about a day"). Now, Weissbluth at some point in his book points out that the circadian rhythm is actually 25 hours and that is why a baby will have off days over so often. This is true, but true only with no environmental cues. With environmental cues, the clock is a bit longer than a 24 hour day.

In babies, the circadian rhythm changes constantly--which means sleep needs change constantly. This is especially true during the first few months. Just when you figure things out, it changes.

The circadian rhythm is present in all animals. It affects eating patterns, sleeping patterns, and migration patterns, to name a few.

A Circadian Rhythm is your internal clock that tells you when to be tired and when not to be tired. Note that a key component, probably the key component, is light. Light=wake up. Dark=sleep. So, changes to your light exposure will impact your natural rhythm.

You know how I often ask you about the sunlight during summer months when you have sleep problems with your children? It is because sunlight impacts sleep.

This is also why you want to keep lights dim as you are getting ready for bed. This is why most experts recommend no TV or other electronics close to bedtime for any aged child. This is why you keep lights dim if you need to visit your child in the night. This is why it is hard to get a child to go to bed during the summer. I am hearing this from moms of kids of all ages right now. We just hit the longest day of the year, and children do not want to go to bed when it is light outside.

This is why we have dark blinds on our kids' windows. At bedtime, we close the blinds and it is dark enough for nighttime no matter what time it is. It also helps keep the sun out in the morning. Any light exposure in the morning will speed up the time the body naturally wakes up.

Our blinds aren't perfect; Brayden gets up much earlier in the summer than he does the winter. But they help.

Light isn't the only environmental factor on your circadian rhythm. There are also social cues that impact your natural sleep patterns. Meal times impact the circadian rhythm (which, by the way, helps me argue against Weisbluth's argument that food does not affect sleep patterns). You also have temperature, noise, routines, pain, and medication.

There is so much to sleep! It is no wonder it takes so much time and effort to get our babies sleeping well consistently. You need time for the body to adjust. In fact, the circadian rhythm doesn't really emerge until 2-3 months old. This is the age when you really start to see an impact from light cues and feeding patterns and sleep routines. Now, we all know we can establish good sleep patterns before this age. But this is the age when things really start to self-regulate, so there is less mom-regulated. This is right about the time babies tend to get easier to take care of :).

Okay, so there is some of the science behind sleep. It isn't quite as simple as we would like it be :).

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Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Camping Tip: The PeaPod

Kidco PeaPod Plus Indoor/Outdoor Travel Bed - Red

It is camping season around here. A couple of months ago, someone was asking something in the Chronicles Yahoo! Group and the topic of the PeaPod came up. "What is a pea pod," I wondered.

Well, if you guessed it is some sort of tent-looking thing, you looked at the picture above--and you are right! It is a little travel bed.It can be used indoor or outdoor. It folds up to a nice small package that a child can carry. It is supposedly big enough for children up to age 6. I don't know if I would really have Brayden (who is five) sleep in there, but he probably would like it.

Now, our family loves to camp. We do the easy camping where you camp in a trailer. I once swore I wouldn't be a "weak sauce camper" who camps in a trailer, but then I got older and had children and realized weak sauce camping was more comfortable and more child friendly. So I am not weak sauce.

Side Bar: did you know that when Brayden was two months old we took him camping in Wyoming in a TENT! What were we thinking?!!?!?!?!?!? I would never do that again. Now, the night went just fine--he woke up once, but it gets down to the 20s or 30s. That is cold in a tent!

Okay, back on track, so I thought this bed looked quite interesting for camping. McKenna needs to be in something enclosed so she doesn't roll off the bed. When Kaitlyn was this age, we used a pack and play, but that took up all of the floor space in the "kitchen." With this, McKenna could be on the bed!

They are spendy. They are about $85. But we thought it would be worth it.

And it was.

We used it for the first time last weekend (it has been a cold year for us). A couple of days before we left camping, We set it up for her to play in and get used to. It is super easy to set up. It is literally one of those things you throw in the air and it sets itself up. All three kids had fun checking it out.

The night we were camping, she was excited to get in. I zipped her in and off she went to sleep. It has mesh you can have open to get fresh air in their.

The next morning, Brayden and Kaitlyn were gabbing at 6:30 AM. We decided to get them up and get going. McKenna was sharing the bed with Kaitlyn. Much to our surprise, McKenna was still sleeping away. So we took Brayden and Kaitlyn to our bed and tried to keep them quiet until 8:30 when we finally woke McKenna up. Do you know that until that moment, I have never had a child sleep past 7 AM while camping? Sure, it is understandable. The sun is up super early and shining on you. I couldn't believe how well she slept.

We are sold! We love that thing. I give it 5 out of 5 stars and would heartily recommend it to anyone who needs a travel bed. It is easy to transport, easy to set up, easy to take down, and most importantly, the child sleeps well in it.

Note that there are some less expensive PeaPods, but one person told me the less expensive ones don't have the mesh opening options on the end. I thought I would want that so air could refresh in there. It also has a different mattress.

I wanted to recommend this to you while camping season was going on, so there it is! I couldn't say enough good things about it.

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Tuesday, June 22, 2010

In Action: I Goofed

Yeah. I make mistakes too. I really goofed on Sunday. I know it makes a lot of you feel really good when you hear about me messing up, so I thought I would share. As a sidebar, that is kind of disconcerting that there are hundreds of people hoping I fail at something...lol. I get it. You all want to see humanity. So here it is.

We were at church. Our church starts at 1 PM--you know, right about the time Kaitlyn should be going down for a nap. She was tired because we had been camping that weekend. When Kaitlyn is tired, like most kids, she is not so amiable.

At about 2:00 PM, Kaitlyn wanted some of McKenna's pretzels. Well, McKenna also takes an afternoon nap that she misses during church. But McKenna is has chipper as can be if you give her food. I was going to be teaching a lesson during the last hour of church and my husband would have McKenna all to himself, and I didn't want to make it hard on him by letting Kaitlyn eat all of McKenna's pretzels.

I told Kaitlyn she could have two pretzels.

"Five!" she replied.

"Kaitlyn, you may have two, one, or none."

"Five!"

"Two"

"Five" (each time the word five is said, imagine her little body convulsing for emphasis).

"One"

"Five!"

Okay, there is no reasoning with a tired three year old girl. And at this point, I started to realize it hadn't been a good idea to push the "two" idea, but the line had been drawn and I didn't want to give in to a tantrum. I pulled out two and gave them to her. She ate them. She then requested two more.

"No Kaitlyn. I told you that you could have two."

Well, some crying started. I told her to stop. I held her and rocked her, but there was no stopping. I asked her if she wanted to go in the hall. She said no. The hall is no fun for my kids. But the crying did not stop. Finally, I picked her up, at which point she started to cry louder and say, "I don't want to go potty! I don't want to go potty!" Why? I am not sure. Don't ask me to read the mind of an emotional, tired, three year old girl. I guess she didn't want to go potty. Which actually told me that she must need to go potty.

So I took her to the bathroom where she went potty. Of course by this point, it was about 2:08ish. The meeting ends at 2:10 and then she gets to head to nursery.

And that is officially the worst tantrum a child of mine has had a church. And to think it was my Kaitlyn who did it.

So, where did I go wrong?

Mistake #1: I didn't take in my surroundings well. This episode started with about 10 minutes left in the meeting. She couldn't have possibly eaten all of the pretzels in that amount of time. McKenna had other snacks available.

Mistake #2: Under normal circumstances, Kaitlyn would have been fine with two pretzels. Thrilled? No, but not tantrum-driven, either. I didn't account for her over tiredness.

Mistake #3: Once I got to Sunday School after dropping Kaitlyn off at nursery, my amused husband informed me that McKenna doesn't really even like pretzels anyway and usually only eats a few. There was an entire baggie full of them. I should have turned to him from the beginning and asked him how many Kaitlyn could have. You have to realize a pretzel is one of Kaitlyn's top five favorite foods on earth. It is up there with pasta, cereal, corn, and chocolate. Oh yeah, and after church my amused husband informed me that McKenna never ate one pretzel that day. Ugh.

If I had it to do over again, I would probably pull out a handful of pretzels to give to Kaitlyn and avoid the whole situation. You live an learn, right? I am hoping Kaitlyn analyzed the situation herself and thought of some things to do differently next time.

People at my church all were quite amused (although two of my friends really didn't notice, which I was quite disappointed with because I had just endured the worst tantrum ever. And did I mention that to get out I had to trip over people on my way out of the pew? And I was sitting on the second row? I was literally front and center. Of course, one friend had just had cheese crackers sneezed all over her and the other has six kids under 8 and is pregnant, and in her words was quite self-absorbed at that time :) ). Those who noticed had a nice laugh and continued that laugh through Sunday School. At least I have a nice understanding group of people, right? They were all just happy it wasn't their kid.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Adding Baby To The Family: A Balanced Approach

On Becoming Babywise book one talks about the importance of the marriage relationship as well as the family dynamic. Chapter One is titled "Your Baby Needs A Family." Adding baby to a family means you aren't completely child-centered. Before McKenna was born, I wrote a post with thoughts on Welcoming Baby To The Family. That post points out the fact that baby joining the family still means the family needs to make sacrifices. In this post, I want to give ideas on how to avoid the other extreme of everyone making sacrifices but the baby. How do you successfully add baby to the family without swaying too far in one direction or the other?
  1. Life Doesn't Stop When You Have A Baby: Babywise points out that you are still a daughter, sistser, friend, and/or wife. Those relationships were important before you had a baby and need to be maintained. But do note that Babywise says life slows down for a few weeks after a baby is born. My personal view is this: take the time you need. I remember after Brayden was born. It seemed like everyone wanted a piece of us. It was understandable; they wanted to see the new baby. They wanted to know how things were going.
    But when I think about the things we did after he was born and the places we went, I can't believe it! I went to a wedding shower when he was one week old! And it isn't like it was close. We were driving all over the place. It was just crazy. It is no wonder it took me several months to fully heal.
    After my girls were born, I took time to heal. Yes, the birth was far less traumatic overall since they weren't my first babies, but we also let family know before the baby was born that we wouldn't be going anywhere for a while. Were people always happy about that? Definitely not. But they did understand.
    So my key here is balance. You don't have to do everything you did before. You can take time to heal. You can take time to get to know your new baby. You can take time to get used to having a child. No, life doesn't stop, but it doesn't march forward as though you never had a baby, either.
  2. Date Your Spouse: Have a weekly date night. If possible, have someone watch the baby while you two go out. If you are breastfeeding, this is hard. Run out for ice cream or something you can do between nursing sessions. I also like to point out that a date doesn't have to happen away from home. I think it is good to do every so often, but sometimes it can be hard to find someone to watch your baby. If that is the case, make the effort to have a date night each week even if that date often happens at home. You can be creative about it. Even just calling it a date makes it feel more official. I really think a weekly date night is very important.
    A bit of my own advice, try to not make the entire conversation about the baby. I know it hard. But try to talk about things other than baby. I don't think it is realistic to not talk about baby at all, nor is it fair unless your spouse says absolutely nothing about work at all. I know some people like to have a "no talking about children" rule while on dates, but my view is that is unrealistic. The children exist. And my husband likes to hear things of interest that happen that day.
  3. Continue Loving Gestures: Continue showing love to your spouse as well as your baby. I think this one can be hard, and is probably the hardest thing to implement after the baby is born. Let's be honest; it is hard to take care of a baby. It basically zaps you of everything you have. I remember one day when Brayden was a newborn when 7 PM rolled around and I realized I hadn't had a chance to brush my teeth that day! And I am supposed to offer loving gestures, too? If I can't brush my teeth, I am not going to have chances to write love notes.
    Do what you can. Share your feelings and abilities with your spouse. If you are like my situation, you could tell your spouse you know is strange and different. You want to be able to show love the way you did before baby, but right now it is all you can do to brush your teeth each day. Be upfront and honest. When things ease up, do make the effort to show your spouse you love him in the ways that are most meaningful to him.
  4. Invite Friends Over: It is so good for your soul to have friends over. You feel almost adult again :). Everyone in the family makes sacrifices of time or doing things they want to do as they prepare for friends to come play.
  5. Couch Time: As  you and your spouse talk about the day in front of the children, it helps everyone remember no one person is the center of the family universe; the entire family is important. Each member has needs. And Mommy and Daddy have a special relationship. Mommy and Daddy love each other and Mommy and Daddy are a team. Mommy and Daddy communicate.
Figure out what is right for your family. My personal expectations and acknowledgement of myself post-partum is that the first few weeks are just about getting used to life. I try to cut myself some slack as we get in some sort of groove. I then also know that the first 6 weeks are going to be emotional for me. But after that point, I can start to function more like my normal self. The key here is open communication with your spouse.

So don't stress out by this list. Take it on as you are able to. Let everyone adjust to life with a new baby and life with a new body. It will come, and as it does, you can create a family dynamic and avoid becoming child-centered.

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Saturday, June 19, 2010

Product Review: Boutique Patterns {Giveaway}


Item: Boutique Patterns

Company: Izzy & Ivy Designs
Website: izzynivydesigns.blogspot.com
Contact: izzynivydesigns@gmail.com

I love to sew. Nothing is better than sewing something cute for your child and having her gush over it. Izzy and Ivy Designs offers cute patterns not only for your little ones, but some for you as well! These patterns are designed by three very talented ladies, one of which is my sister-in-law. If you love to sew, I think you will love these patterns.

Just look at some of their amazing patterns:













These ladies are offering a giveaway package of all of their latest patterns! That includes the Addie Jo Skirt (pictured above--very first), the Petunia purse...


Millie's Market Bag...


Ruthie's Romper...

and Sally Sells Sea Shells By The Sea Shore Sunhat...



Would you like to see my versions? Okay, just remember that I am no photographer:

The Addi Jo Skirt


Ruthie's Romper


Petunia Bag (so much cuter in real life)


So, ready to win this package for yourself? Okay then, let's get entering!

For Your First Entry:
Become a follower of this blog. Then leave a comment. If you are already a follower (the thing where your cute face pops up with all the other cute faces of people following), comment telling me so.

Sample Entry
I am a follower!


For Your Second Entry:
Go to the Izzy and Ivy Designs blog. Look around and come back and comment telling us what your favorite pattern they offer is. You can see a pattern list on the top left of your screen.

Sample Entry
I can't get over the Addi Jo Skirts!


For Your Third Entry:
Become a follower of the Izzy and Ivy blog. Once you have done so, come back and comment telling me.

Sample Entry
I am now a follower!


For Your Fourth Entry:
"Like" this blog on Facebook. Already do? Tell me so. Comment saying you follow through Facebook.

Sample Entry
Hi! I am now follow through Facebook!



For Your Fifth Entry:
Blog about the giveaway with a link to this post! You need to have a blog in order to blog about it. Once you have posted your blog, leave a comment with a link to the blog.

Sample Entry
I blogged it! valscreations.blogspot.com



For Your Sixth Entry:
Grab my button and put it on your blog. Then leave a comment saying you did so with a link to your blog. Already have it? Comment saying so.

Sample Entry
I grabbed it! valscreations.blogspot.com



For Your Seventh Entry:
Follow Izzy and Ivy on twitter. To do so, go to their blog and click on the follow button in the left column. Once you are following, come back and comment, leaving your Twitter ID.


Sample Entry
I follow! @valplowman

 
There you have it! Good luck to everyone!


Entry Rules
  • You must leave a comment in order to have an entry.
  • You must leave a separate comment for each entry. This is not so I can get lots of comments--it is because it makes it a million times easier to choose a winner. It takes less time, and less time is good.
  • You don't have to do all seven entries...for example, if you just want to follow their blog but don't want to enter through the other methods, you can just do entry three.
  • One entry per comment.
  • Up to seven entries per person.
  • You must fulfill the rules of each entry for each entry to count. If I see the entry is not valid (did not meet entry requirements), I will remove your entry. Trust me, I check.
  • Entries will be accepted until 11:59 PM Sunday, June 27 Mountain Standard Time.
  • The winner will be randomly selected at random.org
  • The winner will be announced Saturday, June 26.
  • If you would like, you can add your email address to your entry. If you are the winner, I will email you to let you know. You do not need to add your email address in order to win. I understand not everyone wants to share their email addresses with the world. I will announce the winner on the blog, so you can check the blog Saturday to find out if you won.
  • Once the winner is announced, you will have one week to contact me or another winner will be chosen.

And The Winner Is....

The winner of the $30 gift certificate from mybabyboutique.com is...

Lana with..

"One day I found my 3 year old asleep in a laundry basket in her room laying on top of all her stuffed animals. Didn't look too comfortable!"

Congrats! Please email me at valplowman@gmail.com. You have one week or another winner will be chosen.


Stay tuned for our next fabulous giveaway!


PS sorry this is late today. We were off camping and just got home.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Last Day To Enter!

If you want to win a $30 gift certificate buy your little one some cute clothes, today is the last day to enter! See this post to enter.

Logical Consequences: Throwing Toys

Let's continue on with how I would discipline for various situations.

Scenario #3: Throwing toys.

Throwing toys - my 15 month old angel is getting such a kick out of tossing them everywhere despite my redirection!


This is very simple for me and is the same no matter what the age.

The child throws a toy, the child doesn't get to play with that toy. Simple as that.

Now, let's talk some caveats here.

First, throwing purposefully and dropping accidentally are not the same thing. I don't discipline for accidents.

We also must address the fact that young children (baby and early pre-toddler) need to drop things over and over to learn cause and effect. It is part of growing up. I am not saying that throwing and dropping toys isn't appropriate ever. That doesn't mean you can't set boundaries. There will be times, places, and toys that are appropriate for throwing and dropping, and there will be times, places, and toys that aren't appropriate for throwing and dropping. You can have a rule that food isn't dropping purposefully off the high chair tray. But do provide some time in the day for your child to practice dropping things over and over.

For McKenna, that ended up being at church. She dropped her toys at church over and over again. This was fine because it wasn't disrupting anything. It worked out well because she got her obsessive time in. She also associated the game with church, so she didn't really do it at home.

Now, the child's age will impact the severity of not getting to play with that toy. Let's go over some ages.

Baby. 6-12ish Months Old
Most babies aren't going to be able to start dropping things on purpose until 6 or 7 months old. Some might around 5 months old. A baby is not going to be able to actually throw a toy until closer to 12 months, which is why I say drop.

If and when baby drops a toy, and if it is a situation I don't want toys to be dropped repeatedly, I would start by telling the child something to the effect of, "Don't drop your toy. If you drop your toy, you won't get to play with it." Another option would be, "Don't drop your toy. If you drop you toy, you will have to sit on floor to play with it."

Then, you follow through. Either don't pick the toy back up, or sit the child on the floor to play with the toy.

Remember, this is something to allow when it is appropriate. Only apply the consequence when it is not appropriate.

Pre-Toddler. 12-15 Months Old
This section might apply to children around 10 months old or so, also. See what you think is best for your child. By this age, your child understands what you mean by no. Most children will also be capable of actually throwing toys at this age. Most will also start mini-fits in this age range.

So let's say the child throws the toy in order to have fun. I would say, "That's a no. You don't throw your toys in the house. You can throw balls outside, but no throwing toys in the house. If you throw your toy again, you will lose it." Then if and when baby threw that toy, I would take it away. At this age range, I would only take it away for that wake cycle or possibly as long as that whole day.

If baby threw the toy out of complete anger, I would take the toy away immediately. I would say, "Whoa. That is not okay. We do not throw our toys like that. You may not play with this toy since you threw it."

Now, if you have a child obsessed with throwing, create times and places that it is okay to throw. Perhaps outside. If outside is not an option, perhaps one room in the house. Just keep in mind that the rules you set now will carry on to older ages. When Brayden was around this age, I allowed him to throw balls in the house because he couldn't throw them far. But of course, he grew. As he grew, so did his throwing ability. Suddenly, throwing balls in the house wasn't always a great idea.

I never allowed Kaitlyn to throw balls in the house because I had learned my lesson. To this day, Brayden still has the harder time remembering to not throw balls in the house than Kaitlyn.

Pre-Toddler. 15-18 Months Old.
I suppose much of the same would apply to this age group as the previous. During this age range, I would take the toy away for longer periods. I would do it for at least a day, maybe even up to a few days depending on the child.

Toddler. 18-24 Months Old.
Let's continue to build on this. As the child enters this age range, I would have higher expectations for remember rules and would not feel inclined to give warnings. If this were a repeated problem, I would stop warnings and just take the toy away the first time it was misused.

Toddler. 2-3 Years Old.
Once I was sure the child understood the rule for no throwing toys in the house, I would stop warnings during this age range. I would have a minimum of time for toy loss at 3 days, possibly up to a week. You don't want it to be too long because the child will likely forget about the toy.

If the child repeatedly threw a certain toy, I would warn that if he didn't stop, he would lose the toy until he was older and able to be responsible with the toy. I would then take it away for 2-4 weeks.

Preschooler and Older.
As the child gets older, you can expect higher rates of obedience. You also can expect ability for remembering rules. If toy throwing is a problem, you might completely take away the toy and donate it. I would give warning before doing this. "Now son, if you can't stop throwing this toy, then you are going to have to get rid of it. You will not be able to play with it any more. Do you understand?" Wait for response. "Do you want to lose this toy forever?" Wait for response. "Then what do you need to do?" Wait for response. "That is right. You need to not throw this toy."

Prevention.
Remember that prevention is key. To prevent toy throwing, be sure to keep toys interesting. Also be sure you allow time and opportunity for the child to practice dropping and throwing skills as age appropriate. You also need to be aware of over tiredness and hunger. Apply mercy in these situations.

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Thursday, June 17, 2010

Poll Results: If baby experienced 45 minute intruder and then went back to longer naps, how did that happen?

Results:

I finally found out and fixed the cause: 38 votes (13%)
Baby just needed to outgrow it/phase: 182 votes (63%)
Not positive, but I think it is something I fixed: 25 votes (9%)
No clue: 45 votes (16%)

 
Total of 290 votes
 
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Reminder: You can leave comments on poll results posts if you would like to add to the poll after it has closed. This would be helpful for those who have more than one child, those whose children have reached certain ages after a poll closed, and those who didn't visit the blog while that poll was open. To find closed polls, click on the poll results link above.

Sleepy Newborns: Work for 10 Minutes

It doesn't seem right, does it? Not only are you super tired from taking care of a newborn, but even during the feeding sessions--a moment when you might relax for give or take 20 minutes--you have to work like crazy to keep that little baby awake.

It does get better. Baby gets better at eating and better at staying awake and you will be able to let your mind wander, read a book, or watch a show...whatever suits your fancy.

But you are not there yet. You are still working on it. What do you do?

There are a couple of posts on this blog that provide ideas for keeping baby awake during the feeding. See:
In The Baby Whisperer Solves All Your Problems, Hogg states that bottlefed babies are less likely to fall asleep while eating once baby is 6.5 pounds (page 99). She explains that a breastfed baby falls gets sleepy after about 10 minutes of eating because of the oxytocin in the milk. She says premature and jaundiced babies are also likely to fall asleep while eating.

We all know how important it is to keep baby awake to eat if we believe in The Baby Whisperer or Baby Wise. "...if the sleepy-baby pattern continues for more than three feeds, you might be accidentally turning your baby into a snacker" (page 99). You also will likely teach baby to need to eat to sleep and will make it hard to establish a routine.

I have definitely experienced those feedings where you couldn't get baby to finish out that feeding. With Katilyn, I often had feedings where I couldn't even get her to start. In those cases, I did as Babywise says and let her sleep another 30 minutes and tried again.

With McKenna, I often faced the feedings where she would zonk out after feeding for about ten minutes. Hogg says to spend only 10-15 minutes trying to wake baby. After that point, the oxytocin will be in full effect and she will be in the sleep part of her cycle.

Okay. I am on to you. I know some of you are having mini panic attacks when your baby doesn't take that full feed or falls asleep while eating. You are concerned about ruining her for life. You want to "start as you mean to go on" and you want to avoid starting bad habits.

Take a deep breath. Relax. It will all be okay.

Just expect that there will be feedings that baby will not stay awake. I really like Hogg's advice to try for 10-15 minutes and then move on with the day. This gives mom a timeline. Work at it for that long, then move on and try to move on without the stress. All of my babies have fallen asleep during feedings. All of my babies have had times they didn't take a full feed because they fell asleep before they were done eating. Two of them wouldn't start a feed when I wanted her to (notice I said her; I never had that issue with Brayden).

And you know what? I think all of my kids are pretty darn awesome. We all made it out okay. We are all happy and healthy today. I survived to tell the tale. You will be fine. Your baby will be fine. Work for 10-15 minutes and then move on.

Now, keep in mind that I am encouraging you to not worry about the occasional feeding that doesn't go as planned. Remember that Hogg warns against three in a row. One or two isn't an issue, but if three happens, you need to evaluate the situation and perhaps change your game plan somewhere. But for those occasional feedings that aren't quite right, relax, put your baby down, and go take a nap.

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Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Send Me Your Stories

I have a plan. This plan has been on my mind since last winter, and I am excited it is almost time that I can implement my plan. But I need your help.

I need you to send me your stories and/or thoughts on why you love Babywise. Share your success stories. Share your happy thoughts, feelings, and experiences. It can be as short or as long as you would like.

Once you have your thoughts collected, please email those thoughts to me at valplowman@gmail.com. Please type it directly into the email--do not send attachments. If you want to type it into Word first, simply copy the text in word and paste it into your email. I will use it exactly as it is written.

Please also include how you would like to be identified. It can be an initial (V. Plowman or V.P.), your full name (Valerie Plowman), a nickname (Val), etc. You can also include a link to your website or blog if desired.

So, as a recap:
  1. Write your stories, thoughts, feelings, and experiences....why do you love Babywise?
  2. Include how you want to be identified.
  3. Type it into an email or paste it into an email and send that email to me at valplowman@gmail.com.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

PS--sorry for the lack of a poll result today. The polls are not showing up for me so I have no idea what the results were. I will post them as soon as I get them.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

McKenna Pre-Toddler Summary: 14.5 Months Old


Things are going well overall and progressing as they should.

EATING
The girl can eat. I mean, she eats a whole lot of food. She still has not dramatically decreased her food intake. She can eat with the best of them. In fact, she usually eats more than I do for a meal, and I am no small portion gal. I have a friend who is a mother of five, and she says her youngest (now three) never did significantly decrease his food intake. Perhaps McKenna will be the same way?

It doesn' concern me at all. It confuses me, but doesn't concern me. I prefer it to worrying when your child takes one bite of food for a meal and says she is done.

Purees
McKenna is eating all orange veggies in soft chunks now rather than purees. For her carrots, I just toss them in a slowcooker along with some water and cook it on low for several hours. Last time, I forgot about it until I woke up at midnight and realized it was still cooking. So it went for five hours and the carrots were still good. That is why the slowcooker is your friend. Then I freeze them. I then pull them out when it is carrot day and let them defrost in the refrigerator all day, warm them a bit in the microwave, and she is happy as can be.

Green veggies are currently still pureed. She doesn't seem to like green veggies very much in their natural state. I am hoping that when we start pulling them out of our garden at the end of this month that she will like them (the will taste a whole lot better). We shall see. For now, since she will eat purees still and doesn't eat greens well in whole form, I am still feeding her purees in green veggies.

PLAYING
So remember last time when I said blanket time was not going well? That day, when we did blanket time she was perfect, and she has been perfect since. We haven't been able to be any more consistent, but it is like something finally clicked and she has been great when we do it.

Independent play is going well. She is still enjoying playing with her siblings. She likes to chase after them and wrestle with them. She wants to be in the middle of whatever they are doing. Brayden and Kaitlyn fully admire and adore her, so she is in a sweet spot in the family :)

SICKNESS
McKenna had a fever for a little less than 24 hours last week. She slept fine that night from 8-2:30 AM, but at 2:30 AM she woke up crying. I stumbled to her room and rocked her for about 20 minutes (as I fell asleep), then put her back in bed awake but happy. I also gave her some Tylenol because she was very hot. I also gave her a sippy of water to keep in her bed.

Two hours later, she woke crying again. This time, my husband went to her and rocked her. She then slept fine until her normal wake up time when we woke her up. She was fine for the rest of the day and had no issues after that.

SLEEPING
Other than that night of sickness, sleeping is going on as usual.

I am planning on making a spreadsheet for tracking naps for this age group. When it is done, I will post it in the Chronicles Yahoo! Group. It should be there by the time this post publishes. I want to track McKenna's sleep patterns so I will know when she is ready to drop the morning nap.

Since she has always been such a big sleeper, my hunch is that she will take two naps until at least 18 months old. Kaitlyn was also a big sleeper and took two naps until 20 months old when I finally decided it was time for one nap. But if McKenna wanted to go to one right now, I would be thrilled. One nap for summer time sounds very nice. I am not holding my breath, though :)

COMMUNICATION
I don't think she started saying new words in the last two weeks (I could be wrong). I did start working with her on pointing to body parts, which she is picking up on super fast. She also has gotten much better at signing. She understands and comprehends what I am saying more and more each day. She will even shake her head yes and no to answer me.

MINI-FITS
McKenna had her first official mini-fit at church last Sunday. She is definitely getting older.

OBEDIENCE
Kind of a contradiction, but even though she had her first mini-fit, she has gotten to be super, super obedient the last two weeks. She will go to something she isn't supposed to touch and shake her head no and not touch it. She is listening really well. She isn't perfect; she has her moments of disobedience for sure, but I am very happy with her obedience progress the last couple of weeks. In fact, I am quite impressed.

SCHEDULE
8:30 AM--wake, eat (fruit mixed with yogurt, oatmeal, milk). This is when we do a bath (four days a week) and independent playtime.
10:30 AM--nap.
12:30 PM--wake, lunch, sibling playtime. She then "helps" me put Brayden in rest time (which just means telling him to go) and Kaitlyn down for her nap. We then do blanket time followed by free play with me in the same room and/or outside play.
2:30 PM--nap
4:30-5:00 PM--wake, play until dinner time.
5:30ish PM--dinner with family. Finger foods and what we are having. She also has milk. Then time with family.
7:30 PM--PJs, story, prayers, bed.

GOOD BOOKS/WEBSITES

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