Thursday, September 22, 2016

BFBN Week: Short Naps and the Colicky newborn

Its Babywise Friendly Blog Network Week, and this go around we are addressing issues that YOU babywise mama's asked to read more about! We polled the Babywise Mama's facebook group to get a feel for what topics you wanted to sort of "hash out" the most. Based on the feedback from the facebook group - we are talking about all things in regards to SHORT NAPS.








I am specifically touching on short naps with the colicky newborn. Ill start out by saying, if this applies to you and your newborn specifically, I am so sorry. I personally know the journey, and its memories are forever etched into my mama heart.

Kensington on day 4 of life. We had been home one night.


Newborns are tricky, no matter what disposition they are born with. They don't come with instruction manuals, and you have to get to know your baby to understand fully their cues - and that takes time. After the honeymoom of bringing home an new baby begins to fade away, and the extreme exhaustion takes its place things seem to get real and sometimes they get very difficult.

My 2nd daughter (out of 4) came into the world with an excellent set of lungs. I am certain to this day (she is now 5 years old) the entire hospital knew quickly of her arrival. Unless she was nursing, she was screaming. For the first week or so, we tried to deny the fear of colic setting in as our reality. Like I mentioned before, the honeymoon ended and we were left with a non-napping crying champion.

My 1st daugther was the text babywise baby dream child. So you can understand how my 2nd daugthers colic position left me feeling like I ran straight into a concrete wall at full force. I know how to teach a baby to sleep. I had done it with great success just 2 short years before. Her inability to nap had me baffled, feeling like a sure failure, and most of all humbled to know that I didn't have it all together. I later learned that this would be ok, and that in all things - I would never actually ever have it all together.

My textbook babywise baby trying to calm her very spirited sister, who should have been napping.


With a baby that was constantly crying, all I wanted was for her to get some good naps in. If she was going to spend her time awake wailing on and on, I needed for appropirate sleep to happen in the meantimes. It didn't happen. I read the book. I knew about the Eat/Wake/Sleep cycles. I know about sound machines, and swaddles, and appropriate wake time lengths. I knew it front and back, and yet I could not get her to sleep hardly at all -  and when she did - 45 minutes at a time was all that would happen. I was tired, emotionally drained from feeling like I couldn't calm my own baby, and frustrated. However, I did learn a few things from her newborn experience and wanted to share how we made it through, and eventually conquered the short napping problem.

Staying consistent is key
Doing all you can to keep on keeping on with an age-appropriate schedule even when they won't follow it ideally isstill teaching them what the day should look like. Eventually, they will succomb to the schedule you have provided for them and THAT will be their normal. The short napping won't turn into their normal unless you allow it too. If you can continue to feed them when they need to fed and provide the opportunity for sleep when its time for them to be sleeping they will follow suit.

Following the schedule was all I really knew to do for her, so even though it didnt seem to be working we tried to stick with it. By 12 weeks old, the colic was gradually getting better and so was her sleep. Then, by 16 weeks, she was sleeping through the night and was incredibly predictable with her napping.

We thought driving for a nap would help. I don't remember if it did, but we tried. She was 3 weeks old here.


Let sleep happen wherever it will happen
While I stayed on a consistent schedule with feedings and sleeping times, I allowed for sleep to happen wherever it WOULD happen. My daughter seemed to get longer naps in the swing. When you are in the throws of a colic newborn, you just survive. The swing certainly was one of our greatest survival tools and I had no shame in breaking that "rule" whatsoever. So, if the rock N play helps your colicky newborn sleep longer stretches pull that piece of baby equipment magic out and let it do its thing. Your baby and you will be so glad you did. If the baby will sleep on you best, go for it. These are habits that your baby can fully learn to ditch as soon as this difficult newborn stage passes.

Tag team it
Ask for someone to come help. Anyone. Your husband, mom, bestie, neighbor, anyone. A difficult newborn and a super tired mama is really a recipie for disaster and won't add up to anything helpful, so take short breaks and breathers. If the baby isn't cooperating with their naps and is crying instead ask for someone else to try and calm them. Take a minute or two, and lots of deep breaths, and do what moms do - try again and again and again.

Try it all
I tried every tip and trick that is on google to help my colicky newborn sleep. Not many worked great, but it gave me peace of mind to know I was trying my darndest to help her. We did everything from swaddling and singing to GIVING HER CATNIP AND FENNEL on the tip of her pacifier before sleep times. I am not kidding, I read on a babycenter baby board that it helped so nothing was going to stop me from trying. Do what you can that helps you feel like you are doing your best. Then, even if it doesnt work, still know you are doing a great job.

She was 5 weeks old here, and had been awake for 6 hours. Yes, 6 hours. A day I will never forget.
Rest assured, the tough time will pass. It doesn't last forever (it felt like 16 weeks was an eternity at the time) and things can and will turn around! Sleep will happen. Short naps will end and they will grow up to change the world, those non napping, extreme crying champs. They will change the world.



Thursday, June 9, 2016

Potty Training ON THE GO {Guest Post} BFBN Week


Its Babywise Friendly Blogger Network week, and I am hosting Katrina from Mama's Organized Chaos on my blog today! She is talking all things potty training ON THE GO today. Read below for some great tips on getting out and about while trying to help your toddler master potty training! 





The time has come, the time is near! We'll be potty training for good with no more diapers before I know it! I just bought what I'm hoping is our last box of diapers (other than for overnights - obviously that might take a bit longer).

I realized just now that I am down to carrying a tiny, normal purse and that isn't going to work once we are going out and about in just underwear! I no longer bring a diaper bag in the car or into stores. I just haven't needed it. I do, however, have extra items in my car for the just in case moments. 

I haven't quite decided if we are going to use pull ups, training pants, or just plain old underwear and cross our fingers! LOL I will say, I am not looking forward to her having an accident in the middle of a store or restaurant! All I can do is be prepared, however. 

So, in an effort to be prepared, here's what I'm planning to have on hand:

- Change of clothes  (in addition to the spare we have in the car)
Cloth diapers (prefolds) to clean up any messes that are made
Wet bag for any soiled clothes (these were great for cloth diapering, and also work great for wet clothes from the beach or pool)
Car seat liners (2 so we have a backup)
- Probably going to wear training pants for the first couple of weeks (these Gerber ones seem really nice)

We will not be bringing a portable potty with us, although if you are using one at home I'd recommend one on the go as well. Caroline has always used toilets and is now getting comfortable using public restrooms. It is often scary for her, but she's overcoming the fear. She's used them successfully for pooping and peeing several times now. So, I'm hoping to push forward with this and not take a step backwards to using a portable potty. 

Hoping this transition goes well for us. I will be on the lookout for restroom locations in all stores, and ready to run! haha I'll update everyone once we are to this point. As of now the plan is to start potty training full force in the next couple of weeks. Once we start we are going all in with no diapers during the day!

All of our potty training posts:

Start as you Mean to go on (5 months old)

My Daughter Refused to Poop in her Diaper (7 months old)

Caroline's First Trip

Potty Training Continued (11 months old)

Potty Training  (the plan)

Potty Training Update (17 months old)
The Potty Train is Still Going (18 months old)




This post is brought to you by Katrina Villegas at MamasOrganizedChaos. She has 1 daughter that is 1.5 years old!
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Monday, May 30, 2016

Anslee's 1st grade year

It is hard to believe that another year of school is in the books and all wrapped up! I remember when I was young, I thought the school year was a forever long eternity. Perspective is everything - because I can honestly say it goes by in blink!


Just like her kindergarten year, her first grade year was amazing. She really loves to learn new things and has been able to do just that. I could see growth in great strides in her from the beginning to the end of the school year.

What I noticed the most this year was how she grew so much socially. This was the year of friendship for Anslee. She grew so close to several little girls in her class. I have, up until this point, always been in charge of who my girls are "friends" (hello - my friends kiddos - via playdates) with. Not for Anslee as much anymore. She is beginning to learn how to meet people her age, in a place where I am not the main oversee-er, and dive into relationship with them. This is both terribly frightening and incredibly sweet to watch happen. I have watched her take the skills we have taught her in how to treat and relate to others and put it into real practice. While Tyler and I - and the family - still have the most influence over her, I can see the process begin where peers enter that circle. So my prayer in response to seeing this has been that 1. She be a light to her peers 2. That she can delight in her peers positive influence over her 3. That she recognize when the influence is not favorable and responsibly chose differently and love her friends through it.

The year started off very well. She has had nothing but cream of the crop teachers, and Mrs. Morton killed it teaching this year.

 Her first ever spelling test~



Anslee was Star Student of her class the 1st six weeks :)




Anslee and Kensington and Laynee got to go to their first ever high school football game with their daddy. They barely made it to half time, but it still counts! Go Lions!



Shortly into the 2nd six weeks, the 1st grade students went to a local pumpkin patch and nursery. She had a blast on this filed trip! There were more gourds than you could imagine!


They ended the semester with a fun Christmas party in the classroom, but I am on it - clearly- because I took no pictures during the party!

Anslee was able to celebrate her 7th birthday shortly after they came back to school for the 2nd semester. She brought pink cupcakes for her class to share.  Her and her precious friend Molly really never have any fun together - you can tell by the picture below.


The P.E. coach at our school goes all out for Jump Rope for Heart. The kids learn so much about heart health, healthy eating, and living a healthy overall lifestyle during JRFH! They also have so so so much fun.






Anslee was chosen at the 1st grade girl PE Star Student for the 3rd six weeks


We live in a small community, so traditions run big here. Our town hosts an annual Track and Field event for High School Students. Its known as the Bluebonnet Relays. The city invites elementary students chosen by their respective schools to participate, and Anslee got to run a 400 meter race this year! She came in like 3rd to last in the run that included 1st and 2nd graders from her school. She ran her heart out and wasn't even nervous!  Here she is - in action!



She had such a fun time running and I was so proud to cheer her on!

I helped with spring picture day and was able to snag a picture of these sweet friends before they took their class picture.



Another fun thing that the first grade students do is a market day. They study an economics unit in the spring where they learn about working on a product to sell, advertising, how to subtract the cost of supplies from what they make, and how to count money and give change. I think it is such a neat project they do, and the kids come up with the most creative things to sell! Anslee made several beaded bracelets. She worked for a full week putting them together before the official market day. She sold out of her bracelets before the end of the market! 



A friend of mine, Shantel, who has a son in the first grade also went above and beyond and helped the 1st grade teachers plan the most fun first grade end of year picnic!

Tyler helped cook up the hotdogs, and the little sisters came to see what all the fun was about! Pictured below is Bella Attaway, our treasured friend and neighbor, with Anslee at the picnic.


The kids had inflatable body vest to put on and bounce against each other in, oversized inflatable boxing gloves, and entire park to take over. They spent almost the entire day there - don't worry - we all slept well that night !

The last day of school came so quickly. One thing that surprised me last year with kindergarten was that the last day was more emotional for me than the first day was. I was sad to leave our teacher, proud of the progress that had been made, and nervous for what new expectations awaited us for the next school year. The same is to be said for this year! I am sad to leave our teacher, so proud of how far she came this year, and now looking forward to next year in 2nd grade.  We feel so blessed to have had such a lovely experience in our first two years in school. 

Anslee recieved a faithful attendance award at the end of the year. I think she only missed two days this year due to illness, so she was typically present.

I was also proud that Anslee recieved a citizenship awared. This award means a lot to me as a parent, as it means that she is treating others with kindness and respect - and tending to her responsibilities at school. 

A last picture of these girls who have really made the year of friendship for Anslee



And another year gone by! She finished making all A's all year (except the first six weeks where every 1st grader is being evaluated for reading levels so all students receive an 80 in reading that first six weeks). 


We are excited for Kensington to join Anslee at school next year full time. I sure hope that Anslee will watch out for her sister and always be a warm smile when they pass each other in the hallways! Here they are, my two school girls (getting a 7 year and 5 year check up at the time)





Thursday, April 14, 2016

Emily - Guest Post on Having a Successful Breastfeeding Experience

Emily over at The Journey of Parenthood has some excellent tips for making a successful nursing experience be YOURS! She has awesome perspective and has great insight for those mamas who are wanting to reach their breasfeeding goals. I am so excited that she is guest blogging here today about this - as it is a hot topic in motherhood! Check her out below!

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Tips for Successful Breastfeeding Experience

There are many areas of parenting that are debatable. We all have our own opinions and ideas about what is "best" and many times those ideas may clash with what others believe is "best" for their children. One of the few parenting choices that is not debatable is regarding breastfeeding. Everyone knows that breast milk is the BEST nutrition for our babies. Even formula companies compete with each other to see who can be the "closest thing to breast milk."

While we all know breast milk is the best source of nutrition, we all have to make the personal choice whether or not to breastfeed. I know many, many mothers choose not to nurse their babies and this isn't a post to make anyone feel guilt over that choice. Instead, this is a post to encourage those who do want to breastfeed and to share my personal experiences and what helped me to be successful with it when nursing my children. I also know there are mother's out there (I have a few friends who fit in this group) who want very badly to breastfeed and try to breastfeed but they truly aren't able to. I am not making some blanket statement that everyone can breastfeed so I hope no offense is taken from this post...the purpose here is to help and encourage!

When I was pregnant with my first child I wasn't sure what kind of mom I would be. The idea of nursing kinda bugged me and I didn't know if I even wanted to to it. Yet the more I learned about the benefits of breast milk for my baby, the more passionate about it I became. I nursed my son exclusively for nine months and he had a mixture of breast milk and formula until a year old. With my daughter I was very confident in my nursing abilities and nursed her exclusively until 11 months when I started to introduce whole milk into her diet then fully weaned her at 13 months. 

If you're pregnant and considering breastfeeding, here are some things I have learned that can help you be successful, and NONE of them have to do with the actually nursing process itself!

1. Pretend Formula Doesn't Exist: You know that years ago moms didn't have any other option. Nursing was the ONLY method available. It may sound silly but if you pretend like there ISN'T any other option out there, then you are more likely to be successful in nursing, because you simply aren't going to consider anything else!

2. Buy a top of the line Breast Pump and OPEN it: I bought a Medela Freestyle Breast Pump when I was pregnant with my son. That junk ain't cheap. We spent well over $300 on it. I was hesitant to open it. What if I couldn't nurse? What if I didn't want to? What if I gave up? My husband told me to open it because knowing we couldn't return it would be a BIG motivator to keep on nursing, no matter what!

3. Don't buy ANY Formula: Keep your house formula free. Throw out those samples you get in the mail. Turn down offers from people who are getting rid of their left over cans. During times when you feel like throwing in the towel it will not be EASY to give up. It will require a trip to the store to buy the formula and by the time you actually go get it you will probably just decide to continue nursing :)

4. Know that you CAN do it: I think most new moms, like myself, worry we won't be able to breastfeed. It was my #1 fear when I became a mom for the first time. My husband actually asked during our breastfeeding basics class at the hospital about how many women really cannot breastfeed at all. The lactation specialist said that with the right attitude and motivation, pretty much everyone CAN do it! 

5. Share Your Goals: Husband support is SO critical. Without Zach being there, helping me, supporting me, encouraging me, and even giving me some "tough love" in the early days of breastfeeding I truly do not think I would have been successful with it. As mothers we tend to have our first concern be for our children. Our husbands tend to have their first concerns be about US. So when we struggle with nursing and feel like giving in, they just naturally want to help us and make our lives easier. They can't understand what we are going through with nursing and many husbands will suggest quitting because they think it's what will be best for us. Share your goals with your husband. He needs to be your biggest cheerleader!!!

6. Know it WILL be Hard: I personally believe the #1 reason so many women don't try or stop nursing early on is because we feel like we are failing when it is harder than we expect it to be. The media tends to paint this pretty picture of nursing...it's supposed to come "naturally" and it should never hurt etc, etc, etc. As a new mom everything is scary. You're thrown into this entirely new situation and have a little life depending on YOU. When nursing does hurt, or it doesn't come naturally, we freak out. We automatically feel like we are failing at our most important job as a parent, feeding our baby! We take it personally, like something is wrong with US and then we end up quitting because it gives us one less thing to worry about. I know because I've been there. I couldn't for the life of me get my baby to latch properly. It hurt. I bled. I cried and cried during feedings for awhile. I've had mastitis, three times. I kept going through it all and guess what? The hard phase passes. It gets EASIER. Not just that, but it gets ENJOYABLE. There is nothing better than nursing a sweet baby and sharing that close bond together! I truly believe if new moms went into the nursing experience being prepared for it to be a little difficult and knowing that there will be struggles that more moms would tough it out. Just always, always remind yourself that the hard days will be over soon and that it is going to be worth it!!!

7. Have a Goal, But Take it One Feeding at a Time: With my son my goal was to nurse him for three months. Once I got there, my goal became six months. Once I got there, my goal became nine months. With my daughter, my goal was a year and I went beyond that as well. I think having a long term goal is great! However, it can also make you feel exhausted. On those tough days it can feel discouraging to think "omg, I have another year of this?" During those times it's so important to just take it one feeding at a time. Get through that feeding and then have the goal of getting through the next. I had a close friend of mine who felt discouraged and frustrated with nursing but she kept going one feeding at a time and nursed much longer than when she initially wanted to stop. Every little drop of breast milk is SO good for your baby so even "one more feeding" is better than quitting!

While I am no breastfeeding expert by any means, I know that my personal success with nursing had more to do with my MIND than with my BODY. I truly believe that if moms who want to nurse go into it with these things on their mind, then they WILL be successful in it! Whether your goal is a week, a month, or a year you CAN do it and you will be so thankful you did :) 

Other breastfeeding mamas...do you agree with my tips? Have some of your own? Please share!

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Babysitters

Its Babywise Friendly Blog Network week! This week, we are all chiming in on all things babysitting/childcare related. You can head on over to our pinterest page and look at what all the ladies have to say. I am going to be writing mostly about it being worth it for me to hire a sitter during my children's sleeping hours if I must be away to continue making our family schedule and their sleep a priority.






Tyler and I don't need babysitters super often, but we have one come everyday. Yes you read that correctly - and yes its true. What I mean is we don't often leave our children during times that they are awake and need a lot of supervision. However,  I  have a strong conviction to keep my children's sleep a priority - so this is why I have a babysitter come everyday during my younger girls nap time come sit at my house while I pick up my oldest from school (which annoyingly ends at 2:50, right in the middle of nap time). Our sitter is amazing and I am so thankful that her schedule allows for her to come and make sure our house doesn't catch on fire while the girls sleep. On Monday and Wednesday my middle girls (5 years and 3 years) go to a mothers day out program at our church. They get out at 2:30, so on those days my sweet sitter will come a little early to stay at the house with Wynn (napping) while I do pick up for them and then for my oldest daughter right afterwards. She will be here anywhere from 15-25 minutes everyday of the week. When she is here, those babies are sleeping and not requiring a lot (any) of her direct attention so we agreed on $30 a week for her payment. If I have her do anything extra during the week, I of course compensate her for all of her time that I take.

When we leave a babysitter with a quiet house, we tell them to relax  - give them free reign over our netflix and set them up on our wifi.

I want the sitters I use to want to come back. I want them to know that I KNOW how valuable their time is, and I want to be respectful of that - and want to make them feel like its worth their time to come and babysit for us. When a sitter is keeping all of my children, who are all awake and the sitter has to be more "on" I pay at least $15.00 per hour. This has been what I pay since I have 3 or more kids.  I know better than anyone what a task that is - to take all 4 of them on. I feel comfortable with this, because if there is something that is important enough for me to do to need a babysitter then it will almost always be worth that price. I will pay slightly less for a sitter that is there during sleeping hours for my children - I feel like the work load is significantly less, but I still try to pay enough to make it worthwhile for them.  If a sitter needs to be in charge of a meal time, I provide a meal for her as well. I have never and will never ask a care taker to bathe my children, as I am just not at all comfortable with that. I don't think my children would be comfortable with it either, and most likely the sitters I use would probably rather not themselves!

I would say that 98% of the time any long term babysitting needs arise (If Tyler and I leave for a weekend, or sometimes when he travels and I need a little break) I ask family. My parents and my inlaws are so amazing and willing to keep the girls overnight from time to time. I think they enjoy the alone time with their grandkids and I know that my girls soak up every minute they can get with their grandparents. My in laws and my parents are both incredibly respectful of Tyler and I, and keep our kids on their regular schedule as best as they can. Having my children following a schedule, I believe, helps them (and in home babysitters alike) to know what to expect for the day - and gives them a guide to follow. I think they are appreciative that they can know what to expect from my kids and my kids don't miss a beat. The longest we have ever left the kids with family is for 4 nights. This was not for a vacation, it was when I delivered Wynn. (she had very minor complications at birth and just needed a few extra days of monitoring before they sent us home). I also try to split the girls two by two between my parents and tyler's parents when possible. I feel like that lessens the burden on both of them and gives the girls a better chance for a more special visit when I can split them. We are beyond blessed to have both sets of grandparents fairly close (30 and 80 miles away) for this to even be an option for us.

I have a lot of other thoughts regarding babysitting and childcare for my children, but I have learned that it has just been worth it for me to pay someone to sit at my house when I need to leave and children need to nap - and that when they are awake its important to me to make it a gain for a sitter to stay with my kids. I have REALLY learned that it does take a village to raise and care for children and I am thankful for each family member, babysitter, and teacher who has assumed responsibility for any of my children for any length of time.



Friday, March 11, 2016

BFBN Week: Katrina





Today is the last day of Babywise Friendly Blog Network! Katrina is up today, and has a great post prepared over at Mama's Organized Chaos about the in's and out's of transitioning from 2 naps to 1 nap in toddlers. She talks about everything from signs of being ready to drop the morning nap, to considering the amount of hours in total sleep  your toddler is getting, and even a little on her own experience and how her and her daughter made the leap from 2 naps to 1. She reminds us that going from 2 naps to 1 nap doesn't have to be cold turkey. You can have some days where 2 naps are needed and other days where you can get by with just 1. This was a concept that I didn't really think about until my 3rd baby! I so wish I would have thought it out that way with my first two daughters!

Go check her out! I hope you enjoyed hearing from all these ladies this week!

Thursday, March 10, 2016

BFBN Week: FAQ's from Carrie and Stephanie

Continuing on with Babywise Friendly Blog Network Week, today you will want to visit Carrie and Stephanie's blogs!

Carrie is asked a lot about scheduling her day with her 4 kids! She is going to walk you through how she gets started with this in the beginning and how she stays consistent long term with her family's schedule. As a baby outgrows a particular schedule due to their sleep needs changing you will need to make tweaks and adjustments to your schedule and Carrie discusses how she does this smoothly. Carrie will talk about the flexibility that can come with sticking to a nice schedule that works for the entire family. All your scheduling questions can be answered over at Wiley Adventures!



When you are finished there, head over to Giving it Grace and read what Stephanie has to say about stopping unwanted toddler behavior. I really loved the thoughts she had in regard to naughty toddler behavior. She says, "In our home, disobedience or naughty behavior either means I'm not being clear enough with what's expectedor I'm not being swift enough with discipline." I really like how she takes the perspective of a parents actions fueling disobedience. Not saying that bad behavior can't originate from a toddler just learning how to act properly and follow rules - but just saying that maybe we can change our own behavior to get a different outcome from our toddler. Stephanie also gives great tips about removing a toddler from their "stage" or setting for toddler tantrums. Her son struggled at the dinner table, so for a few days she and her son ate on the floor. Genius! The table was his "stage" so she removed that and saw progress when she did! Go read more! You will be glad you did!