Friday, August 31, 2012

Brinley Summary: Week Three



My friend, Serra, is amazing and took newborn shots of Brinley. I am in love with them all, as usual. She is fabulous. Thank you Serra! 

EMOTIONS
This week, my post-partum hormones started to creep in. You know--the ones that mess with you? After McKenna was born, I wrote a post on Emotions (http://www.babywisemom.com/2009/05/emotions.html). This time around, my emotions do not seem as crazy as they have been in the past. I think there are several things contributing to that: 1-My husband is not doing any major projects at our home 2-I do not have a 2 year old (yes, a newborn plus 3 year old is MUCH easier than newborn plus 2 year old. I don't intend to discourage anyone from having children two years apart--I love my two year gaps--but this is just fact). 3-My husband had one week of paternity leave. AMAZING. I seriously underestimated how fabulous that would be. 4-My house is very well designed for a sleeping baby 5-I am older and wiser 6-This is my last baby and I am doing a better job of cherishing the moments 7-I am a lot busier with various things and am not so single-focused on baby stuff.

I saw in my post I wrote before that week three was the worst for me after McKenna was born, and that is where I just finished. Unless I meant when she was three weeks old, which is where I am headed...anyway, this week I felt myself getting very anxious and worried. About what? I have no idea. I couldn't put my finger on it and so I knew it was those emotions! I am also experiencing what I wrote about where I feel like wonder woman one minute and then nervous something will explode the next. Aahhh hormones. I am hoping that when week 6 hits, I will snap out of it like I have in the past. I am glad that I am at least less emotional than I have been in the past. Unless that is still to come :)

NURSING
We nurse from both sides at each feeding. 

I still have no signs of mastitis. Hopefully that continues. 

BURPING
I read that for McKenna at this age, burping was easy. It is not easy for Brinley. She started easy and has gotten harder as she has gotten older. 

HICCUPS
She gets hiccups quite often. It kind of makes me nervous because I still worry reflux will pop up and frequent hiccups can be a sign of reflux. It is, however, also quite common for newborns. I remember McKenna getting them all the time. Brinley mostly gets them while she is on the changing table, which makes sense because one known cause is a sudden drop in temperature. Nothing gets more sudden than getting your clothes and diaper taken off. 

DREAMFEED
The dreamfeed seems to be best at 10 PM. I tried a variety of times in the 10 PM hour. I think 10 works best because I am not so tired. She is hard to get to be and stay awake at this feeding, so me being alert and able to keep her on task is important to the dreamfeed being of value.

GROWTH SPURT
I am pretty confident she ended this week in a growth spurt. She started it off with waking on her own for feedings. She was still eating in the 2.5-3 hour range, but since I normally have to wake her up, I assumed it was a growth spurt (though it could have been a cold coming on--see below). Another big hint to me is the massive growth that takes place and watching her head get bigger, then her tummy, and her arms. I am still waiting on the little legs. 

For babies this age, I always have them suck longer. This stimulates the breast more and then produces more milk. So she was eating for about 10-15 minutes per side, and now it is 15-20. This works for younger babies, but older babies will not have the patience to sit and suck longer when there is not a nice milk flow, so this is about the only growth spurt it works for. Something to watch if you try this method is when the growth spurt is over. Don't let baby stay on and just sleep at the breast. Then she won't sleep for naps. 

SICKNESS
She caught a cold from her sisters. Oh siblings! The girls have a minor runny nose and Brinley got it, too. She was not happy about it the first day, but has since handled it like a champ and is getting better quickly. 

OUTINGS
This week, we had one of the Apostles from our church come speak to us at our church (Elder Oaks for those interested--love him). This is very exciting, and Elder Oaks happens to be one of my very favorite speakers, so Brinley and I went even though I normally would not take a 3 week old to church (I know some people do--I just don't). It went well, but by the end I was stressed and ready to be done. It was two hours of listening to people talk, so it is always hard for the little kids anyway, and I was holding a sleeping baby the entire time while sitting on a hard folding chair, so my arm and back were tired, plus it was Brinley's first day of a cold and she was having a harder time breathing. It was worth it, though.

At the end of the week, we had a back to school night at the school where we went and met Brayden and Kaitlyn's new teachers for the school year. That was fun to see people and show off my beautiful baby. 


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Thursday, August 30, 2012

Homeschooling

This is a guest post from Raegan (you know--the  Chronic 45 Minute Naps and Chronic 45 Minute Naps: One Year Later author). Raegan and I have come to be good friends over the years. Her oldest is just a bit younger than Kaitlyn. Raegan will be homeschooling this year. I always find Raegan to be completely sensible in her decision making. She thinks things through well and takes a path of pondering and prayer. I knew she would be the right one to write on considerations for homeschooling. 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

For as long as I can remember, I always assumed my kids would start Kindergarten in a public school. I did, my husband did, and I taught Kindergarten and first grade in the public school system before becoming a stay-at-home mom. For us, the dilemma was always whether to send her to Kindergarten at age 5 or age 6 since she has a summer birthday. As time grew closer, I began weighing whether or not to send her at age 5. So I started researching, paying attention to close friends and neighbors (and their children), and asking questions. 

My choices widened with options: public school at 5 or 6, private school (too expensive), a school with a blend of homeschool and private (still too expensive), and homeschooling. I knew the least about homeschooling, so I dove in! I read online, looked at statistics, and asked a million questions to those few I knew that homeschooled. As I researched, I felt increasingly pulled towards homeschooling, not only for academic reasons but personal, religious, and social reasons. There was this nagging feeling that I’m not finished sowing seeds in my children. Parents are never really finished, but I feel like the time to give another person/place thirty (or more) hours a week to sow into my children has not come yet.

BENEFITS
There were a lot of benefits to homeschooling. I could see their weaknesses and move slower if needed. I could also play into strengths and add depth, speed, or more ‘weight to the bar.’ We could do our schooling in the morning and take a field trip the day lessons coincide. I can bring our lessons to the Botanical Gardens, zoo, Aquarium, beach, on vacation. I get to teach life skills like folding, laundry, clipping coupons, making grocery lists, managing money, caring for pets, interacting with adults in stores, patience during appointments, the importance of working together, and so much more. Yes, I’ve been trying to do that all along, but I’m excited to see that now the understanding of a school aged child will merge with accomplishing these things together daily. My five year old understands the importance of teamwork much more than my three year old, I and I have the privilege to continue to develop these areas.

POSSIBLE DOWNSIDES
I had questions, I had concerns, but after my prayer and weighing, my husband and I decided that homeschooling was the route for us, for now.  So we decided…and then came the questions (and opinions, as it is with any choice).

*Isn’t it sheltering your child too much from the real world? You can’t protect them forever! True, we cannot protect them forever. But our job as parents is to discern when they are ready. You put a child on a bike without training wheels when they are ready (either ready for the push or ready by their own growth and initiative) not when they are a certain age. For us, we are taking homeschooling year by year.

*Won’t they miss out on parties, school buses, and the cafeteria fun?  Again, we had to weigh it. This is part of the reason we enrolled our kids in a local homeschool co-op, to be around other kids one day a week, to have field trips with those kids, and to grow up with a familiar group. And like any group of kids, they will not be immune from conflict, the need for conflict resolution, decision making, and personal behavior management.

*What about socialization? I really believe that is a main concern for many people when they consider (or know someone considering) homeschooling. Like I mentioned above, we joined a co-op partly for socialization. My kids also have other siblings, plus other homeschooling families we get together with during the week, church, Sunday school, dance/tumbling/swim, family get togethers (large and small). I’ve heard it commented that in some ways it can be a benefit to socialization because only during the school years do people spend 30+ hours a week with only people their own age. I can see the benefits to socializing with groups that are diverse in age.

*How can I manage schooling for my older child and manage younger children at home too?  There is LOTS of help out there regarding this issue. For me, I can utilize tools I already have been using: independent play, siblings playing together, educational DVDs, and joint learning. For instance, many of the activities I will be doing with my Kindergartener, my preschooler can listen and participate in, too. For my toddler, he can color, sit and look at books, or play with his cars and trucks. We’ve worked on his sitting skills for a long time now, so this shouldn’t be a huge issue. I also needed my friends to remind me that just like public school, I’m not teaching the entire time. I teach, we practice, and then they complete independent work with me close by for answering and helping. While she is working independently, I can help my younger children.

IMPORTANT CONSIDERATIONS
Before beginning a homeschool journey, I do think it’s important to consider a few points. For each person the answer (and the importance of the question) will vary, but these were key for me to answer honestly, putting all superhero “I can do it no matter what” ego issues aside.

*The time commitment- Though it isn’t huge at first, it is an adjustment if you aren’t used to setting a decent amount of time aside for learning.

*Commitment to learning- My goal is to teach my children to love to learn, to be lifelong learners. Learning and discovery can be fun, and it should be. It takes time for me to prepare. (Side note: I prepared the first week of Kindergarten starting next week. It took me 30 minutes to prep the entire week. And saying I have a passion for teaching is putting it mildly, so it isn’t a huge time commitment unless you intend to generate all the curricula yourself.)

*You don’t have to say you’ll homeschool through high school. In general I like to make decisions that are concrete, so having a start and end date works for me. Not in this case, however. I plan on tracking her academic, social, emotional maturity progression to make that evaluation year by year.

*For me, if I’m saying that I’m taking this responsibility that means I’m saying that I can do it just as well or better than public school. It doesn’t mean that you need to have a teaching degree to do it. I am the only homeschooling parent that I know that actually does have a degree in education. There is a lot (a ton) of premade curricula out there. It takes a little passion and some willingness.

CONCLUSION
I don’t see a lot of negatives when it comes to homeschooling as long as kids have a chance to be around other kids and learn some conflict mediation through natural trials in life. Academically overall homeschool children outperform public school children in testing (there are always exceptions). 

To quote a family member of mine, “They aren’t going to be weird are they?” I guess if I’m weird, they will be too. J We have the saying ‘the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree’ for a reason. The negatives I could find were less geared towards my children and more for me and other adults. Remember not to stereotype; every homeschool kid is no stranger than every private school kid is spoiled and every public school kid is wild. I won’t judge you for choosing public school and you won’t judge me for homeschooling; we are both choosing what we think is best for our children. And lastly, especially me, try not to feel the need to justify choosing homeschool every time I get that funny look.

I am so excited to get the opportunity to teach my children more than just academics as they learn from home this year. I look forward to seeing them succeed firsthand, to work on weaknesses and tap into their strengths. It’s an honor to live in a country that let us all choose what our family needs. 

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Public School

image source
My children attend our local public school. This post will discuss why we chose public, what we love about public education, possible downsides to public schooling, and how to get the most out of public education.

WHY PUBLIC?
You most likely will not be surprised to learn that I took the decision of where to send our children to school very seriously. Deciding where to send your children for several hours a day for the school year is something to take seriously.

In our neighborhood, about half attend the local public school and half attend the charter school. The people who attend each love where they are and have a nice long list of the benefits of their school.

In deciding, I went and observed classes at each school. I took a notebook and pen and I just wrote down any thoughts that came to my head while I observed classes. Both are good schools. Both provide excellent education with fabulous teachers. When it came down to it, we went with the school that just felt right for our family. There are a few reasons I can list as to why we went with public, and I will, but I could easily have written a list in favor of the charter school, also, if that is the way we ended up going. Also, my view is that parents are a key part to their children's education, so I think no matter where you are, you have great power in aiding the learning that happens. 

Here are the "paper" reasons we went with public:
  • Proximity: The public school is within walking distance to our home, while the charter school is at least a fifteen minute drive each way. Spending an hour a day driving to and from school wasn't really high on my wish list. Plus, children at the school are from all over the valley, so playdates with friends would be much more of a drive than if we were at the public school.
  • Community: While my immediate neighborhood is half and half, the majority of the community goes to the public school. The children at church and on our sports teams would be mostly students of the public school. I like the sense of community we have being connected to the children in our town. We are more plugged in to the community because we are interacting with the community at school.
  • More Relaxed: This might surprise some, but I like that the public school classrooms are more relaxed. I felt like the charter school classrooms were, for the most part, too serious. I want my kids to still be able to be kids while they are kids. I like more fun in the classroom. Of course I love structure, and that abounds in both schools, but the public school just felt more fun to me.
  • Still Small Feel: Our school has high moral standards. High standards are taught, ethics and morals are taught, and the values of the community are upheld. I love that about this school.
POSSIBLE DOWNSIDES
Not all public schools are created equal (nor are all charter schools or private schools). As you decide what is best for your family, be sure to consider your exact school options. A discussion of the pros and cons of any school is difficult to do on a global level. The ups and downs at my school will vary from the ups and downs of a school in some small town in California. I can assure you that there are schools I know of in the United States that would make me say no way to public schooling. We would do charter, private, or homeschool instead. So this is just a general list of possible problems you could find in public education.
  • Moral Issues: You may or may not be in an area where the morals taught (or not taught) and upheld. You want the tone of the school to be harmonious with the tone you want your child to experience. Your child will spend many hours at the school, so the moral tone is important.
  • Peer Influence: Many people choose to homeschool because they fear the influence of peers on their children. In some areas, this is a valid concern. Some areas of the country are able to still have children who are children, but in others, children are forced to grow up to quickly and know too much about drugs and morality issues at too young of an age. 
  • Class Size: Some public schools definitely have overwhelming class sizes. If this is true of your public school, that school might not be for you. There are things parents can do to help this issue, like helping in class. 
MAKE IT WORK
Like I said above, I believe parents need to be involved in their child's education. Even if you are sending them off to school for the day, you are still the parent and need to take an active role in making sure your child is meeting her full potential. I don't expect the full learning spectrum to be met at school any more than I expect my child's religious teaching to all happen in our three hours a week at church. As many hours as a child spends at school, she spends far more out of school. Here are some ideas to get the most out of schooling.
  • Healthy Habits: You need to make sure you maintain those healthy sleep habits you stressed about in the baby days. Sleep is very important to your child. A school-aged child should still be getting about 10 hours each night. Make sure food is also healthy at home, and pay special attention to breakfast. Your child will need a hearty enough breakfast for her to make it to snack or lunch time.
  • Stay Informed: In my experience, every teacher my children have had has sent home a weekly note so parents know what is going on at school. Read those notes. Also, talk to your child. As about the day. Be available to your child so that when she is ready to talk about school, you are there to listen. Go to parent/teacher conferences.
  • Volunteer: Volunteering in the classroom with give you information faster than any note reading or a quarterly visit with the teacher. When you help in the class, you get to observe what is going on. What are the dynamics? Which children are children you think you would like your child to invite over for a play date? You will also be able to visit with the teacher. She will tell you the funny/cute things your child has done. She will talk to you about anything your child needs to improve on. You will learn so much helping in the class room. I try to help two times a month in each child's class. This amount is enough for me to feel like I have a good knowledge of what is going on at school and also enough for me to have a good relationship with the teacher.

    I also volunteer on the PTO. This helps me know on a school level what needs are. Because of my work with the PTO, I know most of the staff at the school very well. Now, if you can't be in the classroom for whatever reason, you can still contribute. You can offer to do things from home to help the teacher out. Perhaps you can coordinate volunteers for the classroom. I know monetary donations are always helpful--whether you buy the items to send to school or give the teacher money to buy items she needs for the classroom.
  • Ask Questions: Find out what you can be doing at home to help your child at school. Your teacher is your partner in helping your child. She will be thrilled to have a parent who is willing to work with the child at home. Keep communication open so you know any areas that can use improvement. 
  • Work At Home: Be involved in homework. Help your child practice spelling. Read with your child. Provide enriching activities at home. Continue to work on self-control and focusing skills. Kaitlyn's new kindergarten teacher (and she was Brayden's) recently remarked to me that my children do well because I put a lot of time and effort in helping them to do so. She told me it shows. Your efforts at home are fully noticeable. 
CONCLUSION
There are many, many considerations when deciding where you want your child to attend school. This post only scratches the surface in general terms. You might be concerned about specific programs at the school, like gifted programs. You might wonder about music, art, physical education, computers, etc. The overall size of the school might concern you...think through what is important to you. Spend time at your prospective schools. Talk to parents who school where you are considering. In the end, go with what you feel is best for your family. No matter what you choose, you will be able to make it work.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Considerations for Charter Schools

Today's post is from a neighbor of mine, Stephanie. Stephanie is a mom I greatly look up to. I use the dentist she recommends, the preschool she loves...when Stephanie shares something she loves, I listen. I asked her to share what she loves about charter schools. Her three children go to one and she has also had the experience of teaching at a charter school. Here she shares what they love about charter schools.

A charter school is publicly funded but runs similarly to a private school. As you are decided how you want to have your child educated, charter schools are worth looking into. Here is Stephanie's perspective.

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One afternoon, a child from our neighborhood came over to do homework and play with my daughter. I looked at the friend’s math page and was shocked at the level of difficulty this child was performing. It did not seem overwhelming to her at all. This child was in the same grade as my daughter, but going to Thomas Edison Charter School. When I asked her about her math being so difficult, she replied, “it’s not hard, we learn a year ahead in math at my school.” Her casual response was shocking.

Having an elementary education degree, four year experience teaching and being a parent made me inquire more about this school that teaches with such high expectations. The very next day I observed several classes at TECS. My first impressions were astounding. Every student was facing forward, sitting up straight in their desks, with their full attention on the teacher. I observed that their attentiveness was a result of the teacher’s exciting lesson, quick and clear instructions, and numerous positive responses from the teacher. The students clearly understood what was expected of them and wanted more of the teacher’s praise. I randomly chose another class to “pop-in” to. I stepped inside and observed the same thing but with a different teacher and students. This happened two more times! It was obvious to me that it didn't matter which door I walked into next, the entire school was on the same page.

I met with the principal to discuss a few other questions I had. He informed me that it is NOT a private school. The school is a public institution but separate from the local school districts. The charter has a document stating the school’s philosophies, enrollment, curriculum, Governing Board structure, discipline, fiscal management, and student assessment which the Utah State Office of Education has approved. All students are accepted to this school. If there are more students than the grade can allow, new students go into a lottery.

After doing more research about the school, I enrolled my children. They quickly adapted to the fast pace, higher level curriculum and new friends. We are now going into our fifth year at TECS. My only regret was that we didn't start sooner.

Here are a few things I love about TECS:

1. Saxon Math. Saxon Math is taught a year ahead (first graders are learning second grade math.) When students enter fifth grade they have the option to jump another year ahead (fifth graders learning seventh grade math.) Saxon math is based on constant review along with new concepts. My children love math
because the daily reviews in homework make them feel successful.

2. Spalding. This phonics-based program teaches reading, writing, spelling and vocabulary. It uses visual, auditory and hands-on to reach all types of learners. It provides continual assessment of students so teachers can adapt lessons according to the needs of the students.

3. Homework. Yes, that’s right homework. Homework allows students to have one more chance at learning a concept. It also gives me the opportunity to see the skills that they are not catching on to. I don’t believe that a teacher is capable of teaching everything to everyone. Parents are responsible for their child’s education. The homework is consistent and students know what to expect. Homework folders and planners help students become organized and responsible.

4. Positive Discipline. All teachers and staff are trained in the philosophies of Dr. Glenn Latham. My children want the positive comments and feedback from their teachers and other school employees. This positive environment encourages my children to be positive with others.

5. Parent Volunteers. By enrolling in TECS, parents are strongly encouraged to donate at least 4 hours a month to the school. Parents are involved in classroom groups, class parties, library aides, lunch aides, assisting the teacher with preparations or correcting papers, etc. There is a way for every parent to feel
involved no matter what their schedule is.

6. The Arts. Although students excel in standard classes at TECS, the school keeps students well rounded by providing the highest quality art, band, orchestra and choir classes. There are many concerts and performances throughout the year.

7. High Expectations for Everyone. Along with students, teachers are held to a high standard. Teachers are required to continually assess students and adjust lessons to meet the highest level. If students are falling behind, teachers offer many tutoring sessions daily. Often, teachers will have after school clubs to catch students up to the class. This allows teachers to teach to the highest level. I appreciate that TECS does not “10 Year” teachers. Just like most jobs, our teachers and staff must earn their job each year. The administration is continually observing and providing feedback to teachers to improve the school.

I could go on and on with success stories and the things I love about my children’s school. If you are interested in a charter school, I strongly suggest you visit the school and do your homework. Each charter school has a different philosophy. Ask lots of questions and talk to parents whose children attend that particular school. Visit classrooms and other school events. You need to get a true feeling of the learning
environment.

I wish you the best of luck finding the right school for your child.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Education Week

Most schools are back in session around the United States, so I thought it would be fitting to talk about education this week. There are so many concerns surrounding education. Do you homeschool? Private school? Public school? What are the benefits and drawbacks to each? How do you decide what to do?

These are not easy questions, and there is no one right blanket answer. As your children get older, the questions get harder and the answers become more personalized. With the babies, I can pretty easily and accurately say, "For your 3 week old, waketime should be between 30-50 minutes, with most babies liking about 40 minutes." This is true no matter where you live and what your culture is. It is true no matter what your values and goals. Your community has no impact on this.

When it comes to older children, however, the questions do not have simple and universal answers. Should you homeschool or send your child to homeschool? I don't know. I can tell you what we have decided for our family and why, but I can't tell you what you should do for your family. Some of you know without doubt. For others, it is a difficult question to answer.

This week, we will have a series of posts to help those of you wondering what to do--and even what to ask yourselves. Tuesday will be a guest post on Charter schools written by a mother whose children attend a charter school. Charter schools are similar to private schools, but they are publicly funded. Wednesday, I will discuss public schools. Thursday, we will have a guest post on homeschooling from a homeschooling mom. 

The first decision you will face educationally is preschool. Not all families who send their child to school decide to send their children to preschool, and not all families that homeschool do preschool from home also.   I already have a post that addresses this topic, found here:


As we discuss schooling options this week, please feel free to share your own decisions and reasoning for your schooling choices. Please do keep it respectful--there is no need to "bash" one form of education as you discuss what you like about your own choices. The goal of this week is to be helpful to parents who are deciding what is best for their families. 

Friday, August 24, 2012

Turtle Moon Health {Giveaway}


Today's giveaway is a product from Turtle Moon Health. Turtle Moon is a company that creates products using natural ingredients. From their website:
“The products created at Turtle Moon Health are an extension of our own lives. To us it is normal to seek out the simplest and most natural remedies for our needs.
"We are fortunate to be able to draw on Kimberly's years of experience in the realm of plant medicine. She is the medicine woman who keeps our family, and many in our community, healthy.
"We would like you to experience the same satisfaction that we do when using these safe, alternative formulas."

They have natural bug repellent (which I know a lot of us are always interested in with having little ones). The product they are giving away today is Essential Protection. This is designed to protect against airborne pathogens--a big bonus as we head back to school and into cold/flu season. It also destresses. This spray reminds me of Christmas--it has cinnamon, cloves, and citrus (among some other natural ingredients).  From the website:
Our eco-friendly essential-oil products use the finest organic and/or wild-crafted oils from indigenous environments. Essential Protection is based on an ancient formula, historically proven to be effective against air-borne pathogens. Energetic Clearing Spray uplifts and renews your spirit and shifts the energy in the room. An ingredient in our all-natural Herbal Insect Repellent, Lemon Eucalyptus oil, is recognized as effective by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.* Our customers love the exceptional quality and effectiveness of our products.

Turtle Moon Health is also offering a discount to readers of this blog. Through the end of September, if you use the code "BWessential," you will get $2 off your order! Savings are always exciting.

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Entry Rules
  • You must leave a comment in order to have an entry.
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The Bean Pod Winner

The winner of the crocheted baby items from The Bean Pod is..

RaVae Erickson


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

If you did not win, remember The Bean Pod is offering a 15% discount anyone who makes an order and mentions they saw her through this blog!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Worldproof Your Baby

source
A huge premise of  Free-Range Kids , at least what I take as a premise, is the idea that we shouldn't shelter our children from the world, we should world-proof our children (page xii). 

This really falls in line with my core belief about raising children--we are raising them to be able to leave us and be independent. A smaller version of this idea I have blogged about is: 

"Child-Proofing vs. House-Proofing." You can see similar ideas also in "Purposes of Parenting."


As Skenazy says, "Helping kids? Good. Doing everything for kids? Bad" (page xiii). She encourages parents to be "...preparing their kids for the world, instead of sheltering them from it" (page xvii). 

The hard question to answer is when and how to do these things. Skenazy allowed her 9 year old son to ride the subway alone in New York City--an action that had people from all over shouting their opinions on whether or not it was okay. I think most people would agree that yes, at some point this person needs to be able to ride a subway alone. What people do not agree on is what age is appropriate. And you know what? I don't think putting a blanket statement age on it is a fair thing in most circumstances. For more on the topic of shielding kids and when to let go, see Fine Balance of Protecting Children.

Through the course in discussions on this book, we will talk about many different scenarios you can face as a parent. I think our real question, most of the time, will be when is this appropriate, not is it appropriate. Some will be an is; most will be a when. And the answer, I think, will vary greatly from person to person. We all live in very different areas of the world, and we all also have very different life experiences that influence what risks we are willing to take. It definitely leads to interesting discussion :)

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Brinley Newborn Summary: Week Two

Well, you might get tired of hearing things like this, but I can't believe she is two weeks old already! I am fully enjoying the newborn time right now and time is just flying by. I am constantly thinking, "This is my last time holding a 9 day old..." (you know--of my own) and such things.

I must also point out that while we have our hiccups here and there, I have a very rose-colored view of what life is like right now. I am very happy with how things are going, very optimistic, and can easily describe something as perfect when it isn't necessarily perfect. I am content. You won't find much complaining from me. Like I said before, I find the entire presence of Brinley to be quite the miracle and am reveling in the wonder of it all. Life is in perspective and I have very little that I worry about. So don't be discouraged by my cheery viewpoint of everything :)


GAS
You might be interested to know that Brinley has gas pains just like McKenna did. I give her gas drops and they help to have no issues with gas.

There have been a couple of nights she has not slept after her 7:30 PM feeding. We have a video monitor and watched her silently squirm around for half an hour, dozing in and out, before finally squawking. At that point, we got her up and just held her while she slept. She seemed to be having tummy pain. This isn't something I worry about doing--she doesn't need it for every nap, or even every night. Plus we enjoy just holding her :) I figure these nights she has some sort of tummy trouble going on. That is what it seems like.

NURSING
Brinley is still eating well. She eats from both sides at each feeding.

I have to share a great tip I got from an OB. My OB had the day off after Brinley was born, so a different OB "made the rounds" that morning. As she visited, she said something about mastitis and I told her I always get mastitis and so I just plan on it happening again. She told me to try Newman's Nipple Cream after each feeding to help prevent bacteria from entering the nipple in the early days while I would be cracked and building callouses. So I did.

And so far, no mastitis. I always get it around 2-3 weeks I think, so I am at that time and have no signs of it. I am hopeful it worked. If it did, I will dedicate a post to it! It requires a prescription, but so fabulous. I think every breastfeeding mother should have that stuff on hand. Even just for the discomfort of the early days of breastfeeding--it is fabulous.

DREAMFEED
The hardest feeding of the day for us is the dreamfeed. Most of the time, she is quite sleepy at the dreamfeed. I am currently trying different times for the dreamfeed to see if there is a perfect time for her. I am not so sure a specific time is as important as just getting her to be fully awake to take a full feeding. I could just put her down after the 7:30 feeding and let her wake on her own, but I think the dreamfeed is well worth the effort it takes to get it going. 

WAKETIME
I still aim to have her down by 50 minutes. It is often 60 and she does fine with that, but my goal is 50. 

NAPS
Naps have continued to be great. She goes to sleep peacefully (we still do the first three of the 4 S's). She sleeps until I wake her. Every so often she wakes precisely at three hours, but for the most part, I wake her exclusively.

NIGHT SLEEP
Brinley has continued on with waking once a night. She woke at 6:30 twice this week instead of making it to me waking her at 7:30 AM. She does this when her dreamfeed was not eaten well the night before (then an earlier night waking, which leads to an earlier morning waking). This is why I am trying to figure out the perfect time for the dreamfeed (if there is one yet).

On days she wakes early, I just adjust the schedule throughout the day to get back on track (meaning I let her go a little longer between feedings until we get to the normal time).

SWADDLE
I thought I would point out that we swaddle her. I use a SwaddleMe blanket just like I did with McKenna.

MAMA BEAR
I took Brinley to her two week appointment. As I was driving down the highway, I noticed that I was literally glaring at every vehicle on the road. I actually was annoyed that people could have the audacity to drive on the road while I was driving with my baby! When I realized this, I laughed at myself. It isn't like my logical self thinks no one else should be on the road, but apparently my protective side just crept up. I think it is funny how protective we get over little babies.

DOCTOR VISIT
Everything was great at the doctor! She appears to be in perfect  health. Everything looks good. We won't need to go back until she is two months old. 

OUTING FOR ME
In the middle of this week, we decided to keep our yearly tradition of going to the county fair. We love the fair and I didn't want the older kids to miss it. My mom decided she would come stay with the baby while we took the kids. This was great because I didn't necessarily want my less than two-week-old baby out in the heat and among all of the stuff. I am sure she would have been fine, but like I said...mama bear. 

I fed her and put her down and we left for a fast visit to the fair. While we were gone, Brinley woke and my mom ended up holding her the whole time, which she didn't mind at all :). There have since been a couple of times I have left (for shopping for back to school, a PTO meeting, and for a Mommy/Kaitlyn date) and she has been totally fine. At first I worried she would never sleep with me gone, but she can. It is so great to have the help of my parents to watch keep her home while I have to go places. One of my worries in having her was the many disruptions she would face because of the older kids having activities. My mom is very helpful to help out. Thanks Mom!

SCHEDULE
We are still starting the day at 7:30 AM, going about every three hours, ending with a dreamfeed around 10-10:30 PM, and her waking once a night.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Preschooler Summary: 3 years and 4 months

McKenna waiting for a parade
EATING
This will be of interest to you--eating was not smooth sailing this week. She ate fine so far as willingness to eat and try new foods. But with breakfast, she would eat only what was necessary and then stop so she could play. She insisted she was full. Then an hour later, she was back and she was starving (her words). The first time it happened, I let her eat because that was odd for her. Then I quickly saw this was becoming some grazing thing where she thought the entire span of the morning really could be eat here and there. 

I had to get strict with her. Breakfast is over when it is over.

I do need to make sure there is a snack mid morning (about 10-10:30). I have come to notice that often times, three year olds cannot make it as long between eating as they did as two year olds. I don't know if it is due to being more excited about play so they spend less time dedicated to the meal or if there is some major growth spurt action going on. 

PLAYING
Playing is great. The novelty of having both siblings home at all times is definitely gone. She does not mind playing alone in the least anymore. My guess is over time, she will go back to not wanting to play alone when they are home once school starts. I think that is understandable--she misses them and wants to spend time with them when she can.

SWIMMING LESSONS
We have continued with her having lessons without us right there and it has worked really well. She is loving swimming lessons. She is excited to go and loves to jump into the water, which is a great improvement from not wanting her head to go in. 

ROOM SHARING
Room sharing went perfectly for quite some time, and then McKenna decided to test her limits. She will do well for several nights, then she will have a night she gets up and pesters Kaitlyn. On those nights, we currently move her into the baby's room in a pack and play to sleep. She doesn't love it, but not enough to stop herself from the thrill she gets in bugging Kaitlyn in the moment. 

That is definitely a difficulty we have with her--she is very much a live in the moment type of person. That surely has its benefits in life. That is what contributes to her pretty much always being at the peak of happiness. The down side is that it also contributes to her not being so concerned with the consequences. 

For McKenna, the room sharing is okay. I don't mind having to move  her out some nights (I would obviously prefer she just obey, though). She still naps so any lack of sleep that can come from room sharing is easily compensated for during her daytime nap. I will say, however, that she is definitely on the tired side of the scale. I have even moved her nap up to 1:30.

For Kaitlyn, however, there are some issues. Kaitlyn is not getting the sleep she needs. If it weren't for school, room sharing would be something I would fight through to the end. I will not send her to school in a sleep deficit. We have decided to get bunk beds for Brayden's room and have Kaitlyn sleep in there with him for now. We don't have the bunk beds yet (we are actually going to make them), but hope to soon. We won't be moving her over fully--she will just sleep in there. I know for a fact I can trust those two to go to bed and be responsible.

McKenna will be sad to not have Kaitlyn anymore. I will explain that if she can respect Kaitlyn, Kaitlyn can move back in. Hopefully it will be a consequence that will speak to her. We will revisit it again--probably at Christmas break. Maybe we will try Fall break. For now, with a new baby coming, I need to not have to worry about Kaitlyn's sleep as she enters Kindergarten.

DISCIPLINE
McKenna has definitely been testing limits all around this month. She is testing every rule. I can fully believe that she is getting too many freedoms right now with me being at the end of my pregnancy. The other day I was explaining to a friend what she was doing and the friend responded, "So she is being a three year old?" Ah yes. I don't remember Brayden or Kaitlyn testing with such tenacity--but McKenna  has always contained more than her share of tenacity. 

My husband and I both believe a lot of the discipline issues she is having this month are tied to her lack of sleep this month. This is another reason we want to have Kaitlyn sleep with Brayden for now. Her discipline issues directly correlate with her lack of sleep. 

LOTS OF FUN
Through the difficulty of the month, at least McKenna maintains her total fun. She has a great personality and a great outlook on life. She is optimistic and enjoys each day to the fullest--those are valuable qualities that are hard to teach.

OUR SCHEDULE

7:15-7:30--Wake up and eat breakfast. She then can play with siblings. Right now, I like them to play outsisde after breakfast so they get some outside play in before it gets too hot.
9:00--Get ready and chores
10:00--Learning Poster and read stories
10:30--Independent Play
11:30--Free play with siblings
12:00--Lunch
1:00--Learning activity and free play with sibling if time
1:30--Nap
4:00 or 4:30--Get up--TV Time 
5:30--Dinner
6:00--Family Activities
7:30--Get ready for bed
8:30--Bedtime 

Monday, August 20, 2012

Babywise and Twins: the newborn days

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My name is Kristi and I’m a mother of twins (and then some)

Hello. I’m Kristi, mother to twins David and Erik (almost 4), baby sister Anna (1), and another on the way (coming the end of March). When I first became a mom and started implementing the ideas from On
Becoming BabyWise, Val’s blog was such a blessing. I’m so grateful for her and all the hard work she puts in to help other parents, and I’m honored and delighted to give back and share my experience with all of
you. But please note my twins were born almost 4 years ago, I have 3 small kids, and I’m pregnant. Some of the details are a little fuzzy.

When I was 20 weeks pregnant with our first baby, we got the shock of a lifetime. There on the ultrasound screen my eyes darted back and forth between two heads. Head, head. Head, head. Head, head. Baby
was actually babies. Twins. To say that I was surprised would be an understatement. I was freaked. I never imagined I would have twins. I never wished for it. In all honesty, when I found out, I cried. A lot. Twins were not what I had planned. Thank goodness God gave me what I needed instead of what I thought I wanted. My twins are such a wonderful blessing, and they were so clearly meant to come to earth together. Watching their relationship with each other grow has been one of the highlights of motherhood for me.

As rewarding as being a twin mommy is, there is no denying it is hard work. And some of the hardest days are the newborn days. Those first 3 months are so hard. Be prepared to feel like you have failed. Be prepared to cry. Be prepared for your babies to cry (at the same time of course). Be prepared for schedules to be off. Be prepared for one.

But take heart, because while those first few months seem never ending when you are in them, they really do fly by, and someday they will be a happy, distant, and likely blurry memory. And with help from the ideas in Babywise, by the end of those first three months, you and your twins can be off to a great start.

Starting your routine

If you are like me, when you found out you were expecting twins, you read every book on twins you could get your hands on. And you probably noticed that the first bit of advice in every twin book was “get your twins on the same schedule,” but no books gave any ideas on how to do that. And then you read Babywise and felt like all your twin prayers had been answered! And then you had your twins, and everything you read fell out of your mind, and you were left wondering how on earth you were ever going to get those two babies to sleep at the same time!!

In the first few weeks, work on helping your babies to take full feedings. Newborns are very sleepy. And if your twins come early, even just a few weeks early like mine, they will be newborns for a little longer. During those sleepy newborn days (and yes, you’ll be sleepy too), it can be frustrating getting your baby to take a full feeding. And nursing a tiny baby (how is that little mouth supposed to get around those giant breasts?) can become daunting, especially when you have two tiny mouths to feed. Because my boys were early and little, they would much rather sleep than eat. All of the nurses and doctors encouraged exactly what Babywise says: Don’t let your babies go more than 3 hours without eating during the day, and no more than 5 hours at night. Full term babies will usually demand to eat, but premature babies won’t. They’ll just sleep, and that can be dangerous. Feed your babies on a 2.5-3 hour routine. Feed earlier if they are showing hunger cues, but don’t let them sleep all day or even all night those first few weeks.

I found that for our twins, a 3 hour routine worked best for the first month because they were so tired and hard to wake. After that 2.5 hours was a better fit because they started to wake up and be hungry, and a 2.5 hour routine allowed for an extra daytime feeding which helped them to naturally drop a nighttime feeding on their own.

Once you have full feedings established, work on the eat, play, sleep cycle. Keep in mind that newborns have very short wake times. Forty minutes is a very normal wake time for a newborn. And premature babies might not have any wake time at all until they get closer to their due date. Don’t try to keep your babies up!! That is one of the biggest mistakes I made (and I think it is a common mistake among new Babywise parents). For some reason I got it in my head that my babies should be awake for half the cycle time. So when my newborns were on a 3 hour schedule, I was trying to keep them up for 90 minutes, and I couldn't figure out why it wasn't working. Now it is laughable, but it was really frustrating at the time when I so desperately wanted to get my twins on a good routine. Reading Val’s blog is what helped me realize my mistake, and fixing their wake time solved so many issues. So don’t make my mistake, and keep those wake times short!

After you have the cycle down, pick a start your day time, and stick with it. This was another point that my twin mommy brain just forgot after my babies were born, and it took reading Val’s blog to remind me of
this very important step.

The book recommends starting your day within a 30 minute window. For example, if you want the day to start at 7, you can start anytime between 7 and 7:30, or you could start between 6:45 – 7:15, but it should be within 30 minutes. This was one area where I didn't stick exactly to the book’s recommendations. When I picked a start the day time, I allowed for 30 minutes in either direction, so an hour window. Some days that 30 extra minutes of sleep for me made all the difference, so I’m happy I made that decision. But I also think that the closer you stick to your start the day time, the sooner you’ll see results. So for some, it might be better to have a bigger window and wait a little longer. For others, it might be better to stick to a smaller window and get the payoff sooner.

Breast, bottle, or both?

A big decision you’re going to need to make is how to feed your new babies. Every mom needs to make this decision of course, but having two babies does change some things. Since my twins were my first, and I had no firsthand experience with breastfeeding, I went into motherhood with the idea of “I’ll give it a try, and see how it goes.” Thanks to a lot of support from my own mom, I was able to nurse my twins almost exclusively for 9 ½ months. So if you would like to breastfeed your twins, I’m here to tell you it can be done successfully. It takes a lot of work (especially the first few months), but it is really rewarding and wonderful for your babies.

Of course my twins were my first, so I didn’t have other littles around to care for too. I think that would make nursing twins much harder. Not impossible, but it would definitely change things. And if nursing just
isn’t for you or doesn’t work out or you have to pump and do bottles or supplement with formula, don’t feel guilty. All you can do is weigh your options, make the decision you feel is best for your family, and then charge ahead. Parenting twins does require some sacrifices, and for some that might mean not breastfeeding or choosing to supplement. Rest assured that the sacrifices are well worth it, and the joys of having twins far outweigh the hardships.

*For those that are bottle feeding, I’ve heard from other twin mommies that getting two boppy pillows is the way to go. One in each and then you can hold their bottles and still feed them both at the same time. My pillow recommendation for breastfeeding is found below under "Learn to tandem nurse!".

Nursing twins is hard

My boys were born at 36 weeks, so not terribly early, but they had tiny mouths and learning to nurse did not come naturally to them. Keeping them latched and awake the first week felt impossible. It was so hard, but I kept at it (again thanks to the encouragement of my mom), and it got easier and easier as we all learned together.

Thankfully my babies had a very short hospital stay. David was with me from the very first day, Erik spent less than 48 hours in the NICU, and both boys came home with me at 4 days old. But we learned a lot from the NICU nurses during our short stay, especially about premature babies. The nurses informed us that premature babies can easily be overstimulated and overtired, so I shouldn't spend a very long time trying to feed them because it would wear them out and make them unable to eat. They encouraged breastfeeding, but also helped us realize the importance of getting calories in without exhausting our babies.

So for the first week, when it was so hard to get my nipples in their mouths, I would try for 20 minutes to get them to latch. If after 20 minutes they were on (and yes sometimes it took that long!), I would keep nursing up to 40 minutes. If not (and yes, sometimes after 20 minutes, they still weren't latched), I would feed a bottle of milk and then pump the missed nursing. It was exhausting, but it only took about 2 weeks before they were nursing for every meal. Which was great, because I really don’t like pumping.

I know a lot of lactation consultants don’t recommend giving a bottle until nursing is well established (usually around 6 weeks), but my boys had bottles (both of pumped milk and formula) and binkies from the day they were born, and both learned to nurse wonderfully. So if giving a bottle is going to save your sanity like it did mine, then I say go for it. Still keep offering the breast, and keep pumping any meals that are missed. But don’t feel like giving a bottle is going to lead to breastfeeding failure.

Learn to tandem nurse!

If you are going to nurse, then get yourself a good breastfeeding pillow and learn to tandem nurse. It sounds hard. Well, it is hard at first. But it is so worth doing. It literally cuts feeding time in half, and stimulating both breasts at the same time can increase production. I used the brestfriend (yes, that is the “correct” spelling, and I hate it, but the pillow is great). They didn't have the twin pillow when I had my twins, so I used the regular brestfriend and some throw pillows as they boys got bigger. But I have heard really great things about the twin brestfriend. Definitely worth the money.

Because it was so hard to latch them, I nursed them separately the first month. I had them on a staggered schedule by 30 minutes. So at 7, I would nurse the first baby. At 7:30 my mom would wake and change
the second baby and hand him to me. And then I’d hand the first baby to her to burp and play and go back to sleep. It worked well, especially since I had my mom to help me (she stayed with us for the first month),
but I really wished I had tried tandem nursing sooner. When she left, I felt real urgency to get them on the same schedule, and they took to tandem nursing really quickly.

So I guess my advice is learn to tandem nurse, but don’t get discouraged if it doesn't work right away. The staggered schedule can work well for those sleepy newborn days until you figure out how to tandem. Just keep trying every few days until it works.

Nighttime feedings

Even after I got my twins tandem feeding and on the same routine, I still did the dreamfeed (the late night feeding right before you go to bed) and the middle of the night feedings separately. Partly because it was easier to get them to take a full feeding when they were so sleepy. And partly because I enjoyed having some feedings that were one on one.

So for the dreamfeed, I would feed, burp, and put the first baby back down, and then I’d feed, burp, and put down the second baby. So their dreamfeeds stayed staggered. David was naturally a better nighttime sleeper when they were newborns, so I did his dreamfeed first.

At first when we did middle of the night feedings, I would feed whomever woke first, and then when he was done, get the second. That worked well for the first few months. As they began to stretch out their nighttime sleep, I started letting them both wake on their own at night. That meant two middle of the night feedings for me, but it was short lived because they both starting sleeping through the night after a week or two.

The magical night!

It seems hard to believe. I know I didn’t really believe it myself until it happened. But one day (or rather night), your twins are both going to sleep 7-8 hours without waking. And it will be magical! You’ll feel like a
new person. Like you could do anything. Even raise twins!

But until that happens, keep a few things in mind. While lots of Babywise babies start sleeping a 7-8 hour stretch by 8 weeks, it takes 12 weeks for some. And if your babies were born really early, it might take even longer. Mine were 12 weeks old, 8 weeks adjusted when they started sleeping 7 hours consistently.

Setbacks are normal. Your babies might sleep 6 hours for a week, and then go back to only sleeping 4 hours. That’s normal. Remember that there is often a growth spurt around 6 weeks, and that can often cause
more frequent nighttime wakings.

Take help

Sometimes it can be hard to accept help, but having twins is a lot of work. Take any help that is offered. If people ask what they can do, meals and cleaning are always a good answer. Some new moms like a break to just get out of the house. If that’s you, let volunteers babysit your napping babies.

I loved having my mom come and stay with us. She was such a great help. If you have someone in your life who would be willing to help you out in this way, it could be a real blessing. Of course if your mom or mother-in-law will end up driving you crazy, then it might be best to have them help in other ways.

And it is probably best to give anyone who is going to be helping out longer term a brief summary of Babywise and why you are doing what you are doing. My mom didn't really get it at first, but she was supportive. Now she is a Babywise believer too and recommends it to people.

It will get easier

Or perhaps you’ll just get better. Each stage of parenting my twins has brought new challenges, but as I've practiced parenting, it has gotten easier. And once you are getting a good night’s sleep, even hard things
seem a lot more doable.

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