A Pandemic Baby

With the Covid-19 pandemic spreading chaos all over, hospitals have instituted very strict rules about who is allow inside the building, when they are allowed, and for how long.

woman carrying baby
Photo by Jonathan Borba on Pexels.com

These precautions are, of course, necessary for keeping our health care providers as safe as possible and limiting the exposure of high-risk patients to the potentially deadly virus.

That being said, if you are 38.5 weeks pregnant, like I am, this is a very difficult time for you. I will be heading into the hospital for a scheduled and medically necessary cesarean amidst all of this pandemic craziness.

Not only does this mean walking into the belly of the beast, as my hospital is currently treating several Corona virus patients, it means doing it without the support of my family.

I will be allowed to have my husband with me during my surgery and he will be the only person allowed to visit baby and I. Our other children, including our 22-month-old, will not be allowed into the hospital.

For our family, this is a huge hit. We are very close, and our baby girl has never been apart from us for more than a workday. The idea that I will be unable to hold and comfort my daughter for 3 to 4 days while I am in recovery is devastating to me.

It also places the burden of single parenthood onto my husband for the time that I am sequestered in my hospital room. It will fall on his shoulders to comfort our baby girl and reassure her that mommy will be back.

He, alone, will have to deal with our elaborate night-time routine. While I, alone, will have to work on healing while caring for a newborn.

We will get through it, because we must, but it will mar this occasion in our lives.

We will not think back on the birth of this child with the same fond memories as the last one. Instead, we will reminisce about the difficult times we had and *hopefully* how we pulled together as a family to get through them.

Please, be safe everyone!

Toddlers: When Sweet Babies Go Bad

Imagine, if you will, that you are thirsty. All you want is a glass of water…simple right?

little boy crying inside a box
Photo by Nicolette Attree on Pexels.com

 

Now, picture that you are just 2-foot-tall, and every time you ask one of the giants around you to help you get some water, they can’t understand what you are saying.

They offer you a cookie, then they change your pants, they give you milk. You are getting frustrated at their lack of understanding, and they have the nerve to get mad at you for it! Ugh, right!

Welcome to the life of a toddler.

As the parent of a toddler, I know how hard it is to be patient and understanding when your sweet little baby turns into a tiny tornado of rage and drama. Some days, they seem impossible to please.

There is no magic bullet to figure out what a toddler needs or how to keep your cool when they are melting down, but it helps me to settle myself down by having a little empathy for my baby girl.

I am sure that she doesn’t want to be angry or cry or yell. She would much rather be happy and playing. I know that, as hard as it is on us as her parents, it is equally hard on her.

So the next time you are at your wits end and you are sure that your toddler has been possessed by some sort of daemon, take a step back, take a deep breath, and remember that they are struggling too.

Going Vegan: Taking the ‘Game Changers’ challenge

I am what society would consider an “older” mom.

My husband and I both had children in our 20s, and when we got married a few years ago, we decided to have babies together even though we are around 40 now (I am 7 months pregnant with our second daughter together, making 4 total children).

That being said, we take our health very seriously.

beige wooden rectangular chopping board
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Recently, we watched the digital documentary “The Game Changers,” by James Cameron, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jackie Chan, Lewis Hamilton, Novak Djokovic, and Chris Paul.
The film caught our attention due to the backing of Schwarzenegger and Chan, two people who we consider to be exceptionally athletic.

If you haven’t seen it yet, the film explores the popularity of a plant-based diet amongst professional athletes and provides some very interesting and compelling facts about the benefits.

After having watched it, twice, my husband and I have decided to give the plant-based, or more commonly referred to as, vegan, diet a try.

So far, as I write this, we are 6 days into our journey, and this is what I have learned so far…

A vegan diet is expensive.

We went grocery shopping they day before we were to start our diet and spent more than $100 over our normal budget. In addition, we have had to make 2 additional trips to the grocery store for dinner supplies and spent an extra $150.

That gave us a grand total of $250 extra in just 6 days time.

Now, to be fair, we did have to purchase all new snacks and a few incidentals that we would normally have on hand if making a non-vegan meal. However, there is a definite and very noticeable increase in our grocery budget so far.

It takes some effort to plan your meals.

Quick, go-to lunches and snacks have been replaced with more thought out, and sometimes prepared from scratch, meals.

This issue is one of habit, knowledge, and routine. I have to assume that, as we become more familiar with the diet and discover more vegan alternatives to our favorite snacks, our snacks and lunches will become easier to prepare quickly and / or pick up on the run.

Take-out and fast food are dead to me.

While our grocery bill has gone up, our take-out budget has been reduced to $0. There are not a lot of options out there for vegan fast food. Even the Impossible Whopper comes with cheese and white bread.

We can do fries and maybe a plain bean burrito, but really, at that point, you might as well make your own lunch and have something worth eating.

The bottom line, so far…

While your weight loss results may vary, there is no denying that after only 6 days I can feel a difference and so can my husband. I have more energy throughout the day, and he has seen a noticeable increase in his stamina during workouts.

Meals have not been difficult to make or plan. Quick internet searches have provided us with easy to make and delicious recipes for each meal. We have even adapted some of our favorite recipes to turn them into vegan friendly favorites.

So far, we are believers. The extra effort and money have been worth it to us. We are investing in our health and our futures. We owe it to our children to be as healthy as possible for as long as possible.

Quick Thoughts: Mama, Mommy, Mom

You may have seen the Internet memes that say:

“No one prepares you for how hard it is to go from Mama, to Mommy, to Mom”

It’s true. I have children ranging in age from 16 to not yet born. It seems like just yesterday my son was a little toddler, waddling around the house yelling “Mamamamamama.”

Now, it’s more like “Moooommmmmm, what’s up with the wifi!”

The time passed so quickly.

What is the difference between 30 and 34 years old…nothing. You barely notice those years going by.

But from 1 to 5 years old, my goodness. Walking, talking, going to school…it is bonafide miracle to witness.

 

Why is the first year the hardest?

Many years ago, when I was not yet in my 20s, I moved out of my parent’s home and in with my boyfriend. In my youthful arrogance, I thought I had met the love of my life and that we would live happily ever after.

The first year
Major life events require emotional adjustment time

Well, not even 6 months into our new life together, I found myself confiding in his mother. I explained to her that I didn’t think that our relationship was going to work out. Her advice to me was simple, tough it out a little longer and it will get better. “The first year is the hardest,” she said to me.

Back then, I didn’t really understand what that meant. I thought the first anniversary was some magical date when her son would stop being an ass-hat and we would suddenly co-exist in harmony.

Now, some 20 years later, I still think about that saying and what it truly means.

“The first year is the hardest.”

The closing of the first year isn’t some magical time when things automatically take a turn for the better. Rather, it is an approximation of how long it takes for a person to adjust to a major life change.

I think about the birth of my children, especially my colicky daughter, and how those first months seemed so impossible. Yet, we made it. By the time her first birthday rolled around, we had a handle on things, a routine that kept us moving forward and as a family unit. It is still hard, but we have become better equipped to handle those daily struggles.

I think about the time after my father passed away. That first Christmas, birthday, and Thanksgiving without him at the table with us. Those were the hardest times. I still miss him terribly, but over time I learned to focus on my memories of him instead of his loss.

So, when somebody tells you that the first year is the hardest, what they are actually telling you is that, you will adjust to this new life. You will figure out a way to navigate your world. You will learn how to overcome the hurdles in front of you.

Sometimes, you will need to make changes in your life, breaking up with a toxic partner, moving to new home, or getting a new job. Other times, you will just have to tackle the day in front of you by focusing on getting through the next hour and then the hour after that.

Grant yourself the necessary time to adjust, to heal, to adapt, and to overcome. Accept that your emotional self requires healing time after a major change, the same way your physical self does after a major surgery.

Sleep training after co-sleeping

IMG_4610For the purposes of this article, there are two types of parents.

The first type, they were blessed with babies who slept through the night at 3 or 6 months. We are very happy for this group.

Then there is the other group. The rest of us. The moms and dads out here with 1 and 2-year-old babies who still wake up throughout the night. The parents of colic babies.

This article is for us, the “other group,” the tired masses of zombie parents.

IMG_3814Sleep training is a hotly debated topic amongst parents and pediatricians alike. My own pediatrician recommends the Ferber method, which involves laying baby down to bed and checking on the baby at regular intervals, but not picking baby up.

As a co-sleeping advocate, I do not subscribe to the Ferber, or Cry-it-out methods, or any method that forbids me from comforting baby or that has me making drastic changes to our normal bedtime routine.

I have handled both of my children differently. What worked for my son has not worked for my daughter, and why would it? I believe that each child is different, with unique personalities. It is up to us as parents to figure out what works best for our individual children.

For my son, I used a version of the Fading Out method. I started when he was 18 months old. Step one was laying down with him in his toddler bed. I did this for maybe a week. Then, I would sit on the floor right next to his bed until he fell asleep. This meant rubbing his back and putting him back in his bed over and over again for another week or so.

When he could fall asleep without me laying with him, just touching his back, I started to just sit with him near his bed and not touch him. After a week or so of success, I started lying him down and standing by the door. That progressed to laying him down and then leaving the room.77EB8A85-D62A-4ADF-9A07-A6E0EB9C1B09

It took at least 5 months to get to that point and sometimes I would still have to put him back in his bed multiple times a night.

With my daughter, I am starting the process a lot earlier. We got her a co-sleeper bed at 10 months old. She is right next to our bed with just a small bumper between us. It is high enough that she cannot roll onto our bed, but low enough that she can easily crawl over it.

I started out transferring her to the co-sleeper after she was asleep. She would wake up in the co-sleeper and crawl back to me. I would nurse her and when she fell back to sleep, I would put her back in the co-sleeper.

After a few weeks, she would allow me to put her in the co-sleeper before she was fully asleep as long as I was touching her. It took my daughter only about a month before she started to prefer to sleep in the co-sleeper bed. Now, after she nurses, she crawls back to into her own bed.

Once she is no longer nursing through the night, I will move her to a regular crib away from my bed. Then, eventually, to her own room.

The key to any method is patience and consistency. Some kids take longer than others, and some nights will be harder than others. Just keep at it and remember that it is a short time in a big life.

Reducing Waste with a Family

My husband and I have always been a bit hippie-ish. We like to live sustainably where we can, eat healthy, and be active.

Lately, I have been introduced to the idea of zero waste living. Now, I have no illusions about myself or my family, so I know that we cannot, or will not, succeed in zero waste. However, we can make a drastic reduction in our waste by making just a few small changes.

I have decided to share with you, our journey to reduce our waste, and do our part to keep this planet beautiful

Screen Shot 2019-05-02 at 11.47.22 AMThe first and easiest change that we made, was to switch to reusable grocery bags. There are so many more options today. You don’t have to carry ugly brown canvas bags; you can even use your bags to separate your items while you shop.

A new change we are planning to make is to ditch bottled shampoo and conditioner for bar shampoo and conditioner. Most of what we are buying in those big bottles is water. The bar eliminates the water and the extra plastic packaging, while taking up a lot less room in the shower.

Screen Shot 2019-05-02 at 11.49.06 AMComposting is something that we have been inconsistent with. My hope is that, by adding an indoor bucket for collecting organic waste, we can get better at composting our food waste.

Going hand and hand with composting, are reusable K-Cup with paper filters. You can use your favorite ground coffee in a single cup maker and dump the tiny filter full of ground directly into your compost bucket.

My children and I both love those little fruit cups, but they are trash makers. Like the K-cup, every single use cup puts another plastic container in the trash. I was pretty excited to discover these little glass jars. I can either cut my own fruit or buy bulk fruit salad and use the refillable glass jars instead of the disposable plastic containers.

Screen Shot 2019-05-02 at 11.48.17 AMHomemade toothpaste is something that I have been passionate about for years, not because of the plastic tubes, but because I didn’t like the idea of brushing my teeth with something that is harmful if swallowed. Getting my family on board has been a bit harder, but then I found these adorable refillable tubes. Now, the toothpaste looks more like what they are used to, while eliminating the plastic trash of the store-bought toothpaste.

The last change on my list for this segment, is to replace my plastic left-over containers with plastic free glass containers. The lifespan of glass containers is so much longer than the flimsy plastic ones. They clean up nicer, and they can be recycled if you do need to replace them.

Fostering Creativity in Kids

cf977-img_0254Fostering creativity in our children is getting harder and harder.

Kids today are being stimulated almost every waking moment by some mindless form of electronic entertainment. Netflix, video games, YouTube videos, Google searches…everything our kids want is at their fingertips.

Gone are the days when kids played for hours at a time with a stick and rock, using their imaginations to make up games. So, how do we foster that creative spirit in our kids?

An article in the Journal of Turkish Science Education suggests that the brainstorming method of teaching can help boost the creative thought process in children.

Brainstorming is a long standing exercise in formal education. Students are given a problem, broken up into groups and asked to propose as many solutions as possible, no matter how wild. After a period of time has elapsed, all students come together and discuss each proposed solution, carrying it to its theoretical end. Based on the theoretical success or failure of the solution, each one is ranked. Eventually, the students are left with a short list of the best possible solutions.

Obviously, this process needs to be modified in order to be used at home, but it can be used. Imagine presenting your children with a basic household problem, like the kitchen trash can fills up too fast, and asking them to brainstorm as many ideas as they can in 15 minutes.

Write down all the ideas and then whittle your list by talking through each scenario. When you get down to the top 3 or 5 ideas, test them out to see what works best.

You might be surprised at the solutions your children come up with, and – as an added bonus – you might even get them to pitch-in more with household chores.

A Mom’s Guide to Looking Good Quick

Before After.jpg

When you have a baby, you rarely have time to pamper yourself. So, what can you do to erase months, or years, of neglect when you have a big day coming up.

I was faced with this issue when, 4 months after giving birth, I was getting married.

I am by no means a beauty consultant, or even an avid makeup user, but here are the tricks I used to lose weight and trick my skin into looking like I take care of it.

2 months prior to the date:

I went on a strict Paleo diet. This allowed me to still eat enough to keep up my milk supply while also losing weight rapidly.

Basically, the Paleo diet is meat, vegetables, fruit, and nuts. To lost weight, you should focus on lean meat and vegetables. Fruit is high in natural sugar and nuts are high in fat. Strict Paleo diet rules required grass fed beef, but that is just too expensive for a family of six, so I ate a lot of chicken and fish.

Also, increase your water intake if you can. Water helps the skin as well as the waist line.

2 weeks prior to the date:

Pick up some new make-up and practice applying it at least two or three times. Also, pick out your outfit ahead of time and whatever jewelry you are going to wear.

There is nothing worse than running around the day of because you can only find one earing, or your shoes no longer fit, or you need to get control top pantyhose. Give yourself time to order new items online or to get out to the store if you need to.

GlamGlow1 week prior to the date:

Time to trick your skin into looking flawless. I used Glam Glow Supermud and a one of those charcoal black peel-off masks every day on alternating days until the morning before the big day.

My skin was so smooth, and my pores were so tight, that my makeup applied flawlessly.

Ten Awesome 1st Birthday Gifts Under $50

Babe Fairy Jumping Dino with Pump

Babe Fairy Jumping Dino with Pump

This inflatable dinosaur is great for bouncing on and tumbling with. It comes with its own pump to make inflating easy.

Baby Bath Bubble Toy

Baby Bath Bubble Toy

Make bath time extra fun with a bubble making crab. The crab comes with baby safe bubble solution.

Fisher-Price FWG12 Game and Learn Controller

Fisher-Price FWG12 Game and Learn Controller

If you have a gamer-to-be in the family, this is the toy for you. The toy lights up and signs when buttons are pushed.

Hape Pound & Tap Bench with Slide Out Xylophone

Hape Pound & Tap Bench with Slide Out Xylophone

What baby doesn’t love to make noise and bang on things. The xylophone slides out for hours of fun.

LALABABY 26 Letters Cloth Card with Cloth Bag Early Education Toy

LALABABY 26 Letters Cloth Card with Cloth Bag Early Education Toy

Get a jump on the ABCs with cloth alphabet cards. The cards come with a soft case to keep everything together.

LeapFrog Learn & Groove Musical Table

LeapFrog Learn & Groove Musical Table

The learn and grove table has a little something for every baby. Shapes, sounds, and colors are all part of the fun.

LeapFrog Scoop & Learn Ice Cream Cart

LeapFrog Scoop & Learn Ice Cream Cart

The ice cream cart comes with mix and match “ice cream” and “cones.” Baby can also use the cart as a walker.

VTech Busy Learners Activity Cube

VTech Busy Learners Activity Cube

Activity cube is small enough for baby to handle on his or her own, with different activities on each side to keep baby busy.

VTech Rhyme and Discover Book

VTech Rhyme and Discover Book

It is never too early to baby interested in reading. The discovery book adds lights and sounds to help keep baby engaged.

VTech Sit-to-Stand Learning Walker

VTech Sit-to-Stand Learning Walker

The sit-to-stand converts from a carry along toy to a walking toy, so you can play at home or on the go.