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Tour of the House, part 1 (downstairs)

My friend, Sarah, requested a video tour of our new house and I’m happy to oblige! However, life is crazy. You know this so… this tour comes at you unfiltered, un-anythinged. My house is not perfectly clean and straightened which, I guess makes it accurate. 

Part two coming tomorrow (I hope to film it later this afternoon after naps/quiet time is over).

Enjoy!

On “Free-Range Kids”

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I’ve decided I really like this “free-range kids” concept. I discovered it recently and it really speaks to me, especially as it relates to my current favorite book (“It’s OK Not to Share”) and her philosophy of: unless it’s hurting people (or animals of any kind) or property, it’s OK. 

This is basically the rule I live by with my parenting now and working to have “free-range kids” works with it so well.

Now, don’t get me wrong, it’ll be several years still before I’d let Henry walk down to the grocery store alone (keeping in mind, the shopping center is accessible from our house without leaving the neighborhood, and only takes about 4 minutes to walk to). But I already love proudly claiming that I am NOT a “helicopter” parent

In fact, I can see the eyes of others around me frequently wondering (sometimes judging) why I allow my child to wander so far away from me. In the grocery store, he frequently likes to sprint down an aisle and, assuming he’s not getting in someone’s way, I don’t worry about stopping him. It wears him out and he has such fun. Why do I need to force him to sit in the cart and be still when he can enjoy himself? Again, who is he harming? I also know that he’s well-disciplined and that, if asked to stop or come back, he will obey (even if not always happily). I certainly couldn’t be comfortable with his little runs if I didn’t know that I had the ability to stop him with my voice. 

kids-playing-outsideSometimes, on these little sprints, he passes a few other people along the way and one or more patrons will turn, looking for a parent. I’m never so far out of sight that they don’t see me quickly, but there has been a time or two when a question is obviously poised on someone’s lips to say to Henry, “where is your mom?” I find it amusing. 

The mall. The park. Really, anywhere. Would I allow him free rein to run through a parking lot? Absolutely not. His ability to judge the proper time to cross the street and watch for cars isn’t there yet… but it will be one day. 

I let my child play in the backyard alone. (gasp!) I peek out to check on him through the door or window every few minutes. Usually, I’m busying myself in the kitchen so I have an easy view of the backyard. And our yard is fenced and gated and he isn’t big enough (yet) to unlatch the gates so I know he’s not going anywhere (I doubt he’d want to wander off anyway…) 

 Now, before anyone goes all crazy on me talking about how unsafe the world is and claiming that my child is going to be kidnapped if I leave him in the backyard alone longer than 3.7 seconds, please read this great article from the “Free Range Kids” blog.

 

 

 

The Importance of Sleep (for EVERYone)

Whenever I see a new mom and have a moment to speak to her, I always try to ask: “how’s it going?” Those first weeks can be such a blur and often mommies (and daddies) are hanging on by just a thread. People tell you so many things before (and right after) baby is born:

  • Sleep when the baby sleeps!
  • Take her out whenever you can! She won’t be portable for long!
  • Don’t let him cry… respond to his needs quickly
  • Just wait! Your life will never be your own again.

I’ve simply stopped giving new parents advice before baby is born. Or rather, I’ve stopped trying to clue them in to what life will be like. Because truly, until you’re doing it, you can’t understand. I don’t say this to sound rude towards those who haven’t been blessed with children, or irritate new parents by sounding all high-and-mighty, it’s simply the truth.

I do tell them to get two things: a copy of the Happiest Baby on the Block and a copy of Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child.

I truly had NO CLUE how much sleep habits and schedules would surround my world before I had a baby. But I quickly learned how important it was to ensure that my baby had good sleep.

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Cuddling with H when he was only a few weeks old

The first two months or so after birth, baby pretty much sleeps whenever he wants. What I didn’t know was how hard it would be go get him to go to sleep (and stay asleep!) It took about two days after coming home to discover this. I would nurse, swaddle, and rock him until he was asleep. Then, in trying to follow the incessant instructions I was given to “sleep when the baby sleeps!” I would immediately put him into his crib and hop into bed myself. Less than ten minutes later, he’d be fussing again. “Don’t let baby cry!” I would jump up and try to help him. What was wrong? Was he still hungry? Did he need a diaper change? No, none of these.

This is where The Happiest Baby on the Block was my savior. I learned quickly that swaddling, swinging and white noise was the key to my little boy sleeping well. He needed a simulation of what it was like in the womb in order to sleep. Dark, still and quiet was strange and unknown. H slept exclusively in his swing for the first 2+ months, swaddled tight and surrounded by the whoosh of white noise.

But once our little man reached about 2 1/2 months, it became clear to us that he had his days and nights mixed up. Despite our best efforts to keep him on a good routine and create a nighttime ritual, he was frequently wide-awake from 2-4 AM. Not cool, kid.

The funny thing was, when I spoke to a lot of other people about this, I seemed to get the impression that they thought I was simply concerned that I wasn’t getting enough sleep (which was not untrue) but the reality was: I was concerned about H getting the sleep he needed!

Good Sleep is Healthy

Humans needs sleep… just as much as they need food. I think as parents of an infant we forget this… especially in the early newborn days of a child’s life. They sleep pretty easy and we’re instructed to wake them to eat if they don’t wake themselves. We’re told how much they need to consume each feeding, each day, each week… and while sleep is discussed, it (at least in my own experience) isn’t given any proportional weight to feeding. But babies NEED to sleep. And if you’re not a co-sleeping parent like myself, your baby has to learn how to sleep on his own (which he will need to learn at *some* point, even if you do co-sleep).

A rare moment of sleep that Christmas

A rare moment of sleep that Christmas

It wasn’t until I was at a Christmas party for my church that a dear friend of three darling girls noticed how exhausted I looked and how cranky H was. She asked point blank: “Have you let him cry to sleep yet?”

I was surprised, relieved, and confused all at once. I said, “I didn’t think you could do that at this age!” She told me that with her first, they let her cry at 15 weeks, and had done so earlier and earlier with the two others. While I dreaded the idea of listening to my little man cry, I was so happy to hear that it was possible. Two days later, it was Christmas Eve morning and we managed to squeeze in to see our pediatrician to discuss options. His advice got us through that Christmas:

  • At 12 pounds, our son weighed enough that he didn’t need to eat during the night, so we needn’t worry about him sleeping for too long.
  • If he did wake at night, we were told to feed as little as possible to get him to go back to sleep
  • We could let him cry for as long as was comfortable for us
  • We needed to make sure that during the day he was getting the calories he needed so he didn’t try to get them at night (a good rule of thumb: 2-3 times as many ounces as number of pounds baby weighs — so our 12 pound baby needed to consume 24-36 ounces each day).

Let me tell you, if this is your first baby, letting her cry it out will be the hardest thing you will do (so far). Yes, in some ways, harder than giving birth. But it gets easier. And my son’s wonderful sleep habits are worth every tear he (and I) cried.

H didn’t sleep “through the night” (12 hours) until he was 6 months old. It took several weeks of letting him cry it out before he didn’t cry (or cried very little) before going to sleep. However, my charge, C, has been sleeping through the night for a few weeks now and she is doing great! She naps better than H ever did at that age too.

I believe that we should have used (louder) white noise through the night from the beginning. It wasn’t until about 5 months that I read Dr. Karp’s Happiest Baby’s Guide to Great Sleep that I discovered his recommendation of using white noise as loud as a shower and all through the night until age one. I think H would have slept through the night much sooner if we’d done that.

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H’s favorite sleep position: folded in half!

My Personal Recommendations:

  • Start early. Once baby weighs 12 pounds, he/she shouldn’t need to eat at night. Of course, check with your pediatrician first.
  • When you decide to try crying it out, make sure both spouses can be home as much as possible for the first week or so. If your spouse can’t be there, consider asking a friend to come over and hang out with you. This is to ensure that you don’t go to your baby unless absolutely necessary.
  • Be aware of whether your baby recently pooped before you put her down. I had many a night where I would let my son cry for a long time and when I finally went in, would discover he had a poopie diaper. No fun!
  • Make sure you’re getting her on a good nap schedule! This is where Healthy Sleep Habits comes in as a great resource. He gives clear information on how long your baby should be up between sleep times and how long they should sleep based on the child’s age.
  • How you choose to let baby cry is up to you. Some people use “extinction” which means you don’t go in to baby at all no matter how long they cry. Others usual “gradual extinction,” meaning you go in every so often and increase the time each time. Others use their own method. We did every 15 minutes and gradually increased to 20, 25, 30 mins, etc.
  • If your child is older (5 months or more), expect the process to take much longer and be harder. Once babies hit about six months, object permanance sets in which means when you leave the room, they know you still exist and they’ll wonder where you went. Younger than this, babies function as “out of sight is out of mind” so when they are crying, they’re not thinking you abandoned them… they don’t even remember you. But they instead are simply distraught at not understanding their current situation, which is were sleep aids come in (next item).
  • I highly recommend: (1) white noise playing ALL night (2) darkening your child’s room as much as possible (3) swaddling until your baby can roll from back to front and back again (they’ll likely prefer to sleep on their belly at that point)… you can still swaddle without their arms pinned after this to help them feel cozy (3) Vigorous jiggling or rocking before putting them down to soothe them (see Happiest Baby on the Block for details)
  • Make sure that whatever you’re using, use it for all sleep times. If your child has a nanny or is in daycare, make sure they are doing the same things you are. Consistency is important.

h_sleep_backWe did the 15 minute rule. If he was still crying (hard) after 15 minutes, we would go in and comfort him. If he fell asleep and slept for 30 minutes or more and then woke again, we’d go in again. After many weeks of only partial success, we learned to only go in when he was REALLY upset or if it had been several hours and he probably really was hungry.

Next time around, I think I’d rather do extinction, though I might leave the house in my hubby’s capable hands for the first few evenings so I don’t have to hear the cries. Although, listening to a baby cry really does get easier as time goes on. Listening to my charges cry at nap time is much easier than listening to H was. I’d say this is because they aren’t my children… but I don’t think that’s it. I think you just learn to understand that babies do cry… and no baby ever died from crying.

Still Struggling?

If you’re still struggling to get your baby to sleep or if you’re personally having a hard time listening to him cry, talk to your pediatrician or feel free to email me with questions! I will do my best to respond promptly.

I will also be writing full reviews soon of the two books recommended in this post.

Here’s to better sleep for everyone!

Blogging is boggling.

I have long harbored a desire to write a blog… and failed miserably approximately four times now. So many friends of mine have great blogs and it boggles my mind how these amazing women balance caring for their children, running their household, and blog (regularly) at the same time. In so many ways I feel so incredibly unequipped for the life I lead. I also feel like I’m failing at life in many ways. So here I am again… it’s been over a year since I last blogged here, on my latest blog site. But I’m trying again. I really want to make this work.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think I’m failing at everything. My almost two year old son is the most amazing little boy I could ever ask for… seriously, I don’t know how I got so lucky. He is joyful, silly, helpful and intelligent. I figure I must have done something right by him. Okay, yeah, he’s only (not even) two… but there comes a point as a mom where you just stop and think: this is hard, but I’ve got this. (I thought the same when giving birth… that was before I pushed for two hours… makes me laugh in hindsight. But that’s another story for another day.)

I am not perfect, but I feel comfortable in my own skin as a mom… in a way I’ve never felt about, well, anything else I’ve ever done. Juggling the tears, the sneezes, the laughter, the fevers, the dirty diapers, the yogurt smeared all over the table (not to mention the toddler’s face)… I rarely feel overwhelmed as a mom. Which is great. The problem is: I feel overwhelmed about almost everything else. My marriage, the laundry, finances, my choice in college degree that I made eleven years ago…. ugh. It’s actually probably no wonder I’ve never succeeded at blogging because I think doing so stirs up these “other things” and I’d much rather sit in front of the TV and “veg out” than think about those things.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

I know this.

I can blog about being a mom (and a nanny), about running my household, and all those day-to-day things… and maybe tackle these bigger things every so often.

But not today.

Today I’m just going to give myself a chance to catch up on blogging about mommyhood…. and leave the heavy stuff for another time.

Yay blogging. And yay trying to start blogging (again). Here we go…!

 

“Diaper-Free” Baby… almost

Okay, so I’m aware that his is my 2nd post in a row regarding toilets but, oh well!

I want to share today the amazingness of potty training from infancy. Ok, I say that but the truth is I personally don’t have full success with this yet. My little man is not even 10 months old so I cannot say for sure that he will be fully potty trained in the time I’m hoping for (a year and half would be awesome… under age two is my goal).

When I first heard about the idea of potty training from birth, I thought the idea was crazy. Two of my friends who had babies a week apart from each other both tried it with amazing success: both of their first-borns were potty trained by age two! I was amazed and very interested in giving it a try.

One of these friends recommended a book that I read while I was still pregnant:

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Click here to link to this product >

(I borrowed a copy from my local library.)

This was a quick & easy read that allowed me to learn the basics before Henry was even born.

I tried pottying him starting when he was about 2 weeks old — with great success! Nearly every time I held him over the potty, he would poop, pee or both! However, after a few weeks, I decided to stop because while we were successfully pottying, he did NOT like it at all! He screamed bloody murder every time.

So I waited… until Henry was old enough to sit up on his own. And… voila! The potty success returned. From about 5 1/2 months until now (almost 10 months), Henry poops in the potty about 95% of the time when we’re at home. Peeing is another matter but I don’t worry about that so much. We still use diapers 100% of the time but I am confident that Henry’s comfort on the potty at such a young age is going to make transiting out of diapers so much easier (and faster!) than traditional potty training. (Not to mention, I so much more prefer wiping him after he poops on the potty, rather than cleaning up after him when he poops in a diaper.)

Here he is, sitting gleefully on the potty:

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I highly recommend giving infant pottying a try! It’s very low stress and the book talks regularly about how you can be as relaxed or rigid as you want. Some parents try truly “diaper free” to catch all poops and pees. I personally work to just get the poops most of the time at home and occasionally I’ll put him on the potty when we’re out (depending on the situation). But I don’t stress at all about missing a poop (though I don’t delight in changing said diapers).

Happy pottying!!

Awkward Topic: Those Dang Automatic Toilets!

I don’t know about you but I have seriously come to despise automatic flushing toilets (especially with a potty training baby — a topic for another day).

Mostly this is because they simply don’t work correctly. Usually they flush too soon or never at all. Our church’s toilets are the worst because the sensor is so sensitive, the slightest movement sets them off and either you get splashed while you sit there or you have to jump up quickly to avoid said splashing (just what you want to be dealing with during worship time).

My solution is another “no-brainer” but I have to wonder if anyone actually stops to do it:

Simply place a folded piece of toilet tissue over the sensor until you’re truly ready for it to flush.

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Ta da! Awkward flushing — be gone!

Of course, there are sensors that are mounted into the wall which makes this method not very useful. But hey, I’ll take what I can get.

Alternatively, you can waste $3 and purchase the “Flush Stopper” here: http://www.pottytrainingconcepts.com/Flush-Stopper.html

Time/Frustration Saver #1: Carseat Velcro Solution

Within the first few days of our son’s life, my husband an I discovered the amazing frustration of getting him in and out of the carseat. First of all, he hated every moment of it. Secondly, it was almost impossible to get him into the seat with any kind of ease.

The straps and buckles inevitably would collapse into the seat the moment you leaned down the put baby in.

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In a moment of inspiration, my husband suggested some so simple I was amazed that the manufacturers had never thought of it: velcro!

For about $7 at Target I purchased several feet of velcro tape (which then made my husband regret his suggestion since I started using it, well, anywhere).

A pair of scissors and five minutes later, the problem was solved!

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I placed the “soft” side of the velcro on each side of the chest buckle (making sure it’s placement would not interfere with the clip itself).

Then a match “rough” piece I placed on the handle bar (making sure that it was lined up so the two would attach appropriately.

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And… voila!

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A perfectly safe and ready-to-buckle carseat solution!

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Enjoy!

I go a wonder-ing…

So here I am, starting yet another blog. Those of you who know me probably chuckle that I’m doing this… I chuckle a bit myself. But seriously, in the last month I’ve had an idea, project, thought, comment that I’ve wanted to share at LEAST once a day and I desperately desire a better way to share these ideas than just Facebook.

me

So, what is this blog? It’s about mommy-ing. It’s about creative-thinking. It’s about organization. It’s about God. It’s about almost anything I want it to be! Mostly it’ll probably be about way to make your parenting and/or homemaking easier, less expensive, or less stressful. It’ll be about how to entertain and teach your kids on a budget and with innovative concepts.

My goal? To keep my posts short and sweet! I really don’t want to spend more than 5-10 mins per post and plan to post 3-7 times each week.

So, in the interest of my time limit… that’s all for now folks! My first true post will arrive today or tomorrow…

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About

Hi, I'm Lauren. Mommy to two, nanny to two, wife, teacher, homemaker, Catholic, artist, writer, friend, sister, daughter. Here you'll find everything from updates about our family, info and advice about parenting and homemaking, or pretty much anything else I feel like writing. Welcome!