Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Timing is Everything

One of the challenges i'm having with two little ones is figuring out how to time our days. I don't like staying home all day, and it isn't good for the kids to be cooped up inside either. Stephanie and I were always out and about before Joseph arrived. We'd go to restaurants for breakfast and lunch, playdates, shopping trips, storytime at the library, etc. I still want to keep up that level of activity, but it's difficult to arrange things around Joseph's feeding. (He's not even on a nap schedule yet, so I can only imagine how much harder it will be once he is.)

He eats every three hours, and still protests any powder formula. But, if we're going off shopping, I have no way to warm up a cold bottle of liquid formula, so it has to be powder. He will eventually drink it all, but those feedings take 30-45 minutes at a time. If he was my only child, this would be no problem. I could feed him in the car, or at a coffee shop, and take my leisurely time. But my precocious 23 month old is not up for leisurely hang outs. She is busy busy busy, and trying to entertain her while simultaneously feeding the baby is difficult enough at home, never mind if we're out somewhere. 

I've been working on figuring this out, and I actually have (sort of) developed a system. If we're at someone's house for a playdate, or out to breakfast/lunch I can just bring a liquid bottle and heat it up in a mug of hot water. And during these times, there are always other adults and kids around, so Stephanie has plenty of entertainment. But for those mornings where it's just errands that need to be run, I make sure that we do only the things that can fit into that 2 hour time-frame between feedings. This way we'll be home again before he needs to eat, and I won't have to worry about Stephanie running crazily around Dunkin Donuts or Panera while I struggle to get Joseph to stop screaming and just drink the powder stuff. 

Getting errands done between feedings does require some prep and planning. Before I sit down for the first feeding, I make sure that the diaper bag is stocked and waiting to go, Stephanie and I are both ready to throw our coats and shoes on and head out the door, my lists are made and loaded onto my phone, and my coupons are organized and in the diaper bag. (I forgo a purse on errand days, and throw my wallet, phone and keys in the diaper bag.) Then, when Joseph has eaten and burped we can get in the car and head off to where we need to go. This morning we did a trip to the grocery store, and a stop at the library. We made it home afterwards with plenty of time to spare before Joseph started demanding more food. Success!

Having a baby and a toddler does require some extra thought and planning, but if i'm organized, it's totally do-able. We can still be active, get things done, and not be chained to our apartment all day long. I'd love to hear any tips and tricks that you have for being on-the-go with your children!


Monday, January 30, 2012

A Pretty Typical Day

Here's a quick post regarding our night and morning. It went something like this:

11:30pm: Joseph wakes up

11:45: I get him back to sleep

2:45am: Joseph wakes again

3:00: Back to sleep

5:10: Awake again

6:00: Back to sleep

7:00: Awake for the day, he eats, burps, pukes all over both of us. I change our clothes, give him a bath, dress him...and he pukes. I clean him up again.

8:00: Stephanie wakes up. Find her, her bedding, and her stuffed frog covered in blood. She had a bloody nose in the night. Strip her bed, pre-treat the bedding, dress her, clean off her face, get her some breakfast.

9:30: My mom shows up to bring us to to Target, because I needed to fetch the wallet that I left at the register after paying yesterday. Which I hadn't realized I left until I got home at 9pm.

10:30: I spend more money at Target, even though I was just there last night.

11:30: We stop at Dunkin Donuts to feed the baby and get coffee (donut for Stephanie.)

12:30: Home again. Lunch, nap for Stephanie, a workout for mommy, and another feeding for Joseph.

3:00: Stephanie wakes up, has a snack, and we read books.

4:00: I decide I need to wash dishes and  put away the three loads of clean laundry that have been sitting in my living room.

Now: Joseph is in the middle of an epic nap (yay!), Stephanie is playing, and i'm taking 5 minutes to write this post.

Just another day in my life. Happy Monday everyone!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Five on Friday: Food Obsessions

I have a tendency to get obsessed with certain foods, eat them all the time, and then get sick of them. Does anyone else do this, or am I the only crazy one?

What i'm craving right now:

1. Coffee. This is an obvious, no-brainer one. The lack of sleep makes it more of a necessity right now than anything else. Although I am curbing the caffeine a little, by brewing decaf in the afternoon. I have to say, my coffee obsession has only grown with time. I started drinking it when I was 13, at which time I would load it with cream and sugar. Now it's milk only, so I convince myself it's healthy. Antioxidants, right? I just love the taste of coffee, and drink it all morning even after I've gotten a full nights sleep. Although, come to think of it, I don't remember the last time that was...

2. Green Tea. I've gotten in the habit of brewing up some tea at night, which helps to curb the urge to snack. (As an aside, I still haven't eaten anything after dinner since New Years Eve! No more evening snacking.) I've read about so many benefits to green tea, and while I don't know if any of them are true, I like the taste, and look forward to relaxing with a mug of it when the little ones are in bed and the house is calm.

3. Tortilla strips. I put these on my salad for an added crunch...yum!

4. Chobani Champions Greek Yogurt. These are actually made for kids, but I love them too, and they're only 100 calories per cup. Some Greek yogurt is too bitter and thick, but since this is made for kids, it's creamy and fruity. I have one every day.

5. Clementines. We buy our first box of these around Christmas time, and as soon as they're in the house I devour them! I read that one of them has only 50 calories, so it's fine to pop two at a time. They're quick and easy to peel, and are loaded with vitamin C. Stephanie loves them too, I peel is, cut the entire ball in half, peel it apart and she gobbles it right up. I'm sad that the season is ending, which means a box is going to jump in price from $4.99 to $9.99.

Feel free to share your food obsessions, healthy or unhealthy!

Friday, January 27, 2012


As a Mommy Blogger, I find it easy to write about positive experiences. I can go on and on about the brilliant things my children do, the daily stuff that makes me smile, and the fun adventures we go on together. It's a lot harder to write about the not so positive stuff. I tend to filter what I write so as not to come across whiny or complainy. I also fear being judged, because lets face it Moms are often too quick to judge each other. (A sad fact, and one I will discuss in length in another post. Lets support each other moms!)

I recently discovered Truthful Mommy's blog, The Truth About Motherhood. She writes candidly about all aspects of motherhood, good and bad. Her openness and honesty are refreshing to read. It's so easy to relate to her, because lets face it, not one of us is perfect. We all make mistakes, and do things that make ourselves cringe. One of Truthful Mommy's posts is a "how-to" guide on growing your blog. She writes about how she looks for honesty when reading mom blogs. She wants to feel a sense of community, to know that she isn't the only one whose children behave a certain way, or refuse to eat certain foods, or never sleep at night. Reading her words inspired me to think about some of my less-than-stellar mom moments, and create a list of "mom-fessions." These are things that I or my kids do (or don't do) in our daily life that I'm not necessarily proud of, but that i'm sure plenty of other moms can relate to.

-Stephanie watches TV. She's not two, which makes this a big no-no, according to the AAP. But first thing in the morning, she catches some Elmo while drinking her milk, which often turns into an episode of Sid the Science Kid, and then Word World. When Joseph feeds in the afternoon, I pop a video in the DVD player so that she'll stay in the living room with me and be less likely to cause all sorts of trouble in the rest of the apartment.

-Joseph is such a mellow baby that I sometimes leave him in the swing for too long. He doesn't mind, and is happy and giggly, but I feel bad that i'm not interacting with him. It doesn't stop me from doing it again the next day though.

-Since Stephanie is such a fantastic eater, I feel like I should always give her healthy options at mealtime. However, I too often resort to chicken nuggets, frozen pizza, boxed mac & cheese, and hotdogs.

-We don't listen to kid music in the car. Ever. My radio is permanently tuned to the local top-40 station, and my kid can sing along with Adele, Katy Perry, Selena Gomez, and Justin Beiber.

-Days go by before I remember that Joseph is supposed to be getting daily tummy time. I resolve to give him at least 15 minutes a day. This usually lasts...one day. And then several more go by and I make the resolution yet again. The cycle continues.

-I take advantage of the fact that Stephanie won't get out of bed until I go in and get her. There are mornings when she sings and plays and calls for me to come get her, but I take one (or three) last, leisurely sips of my hot coffee before getting her up.

-I often scroll through Facebook and Twitter while Stephanie and I are playing. I also do it while feeding Joseph. I mean, there's only so much eye contact you can make with a baby before even he gets bored and looks away.

-I know it's developmentally appropriate for toddlers to latch onto one book and want to hear it over and over again. But I tell you, sometimes I think I might throw Brown Bear, Brown Bear in the trash if I have to read it one more time, so I make Stephanie choose a different book instead.

-Neither of my kids sleep through the night. Stephanie wakes up at least once on most nights, and I go in to her, find her pacifier and put her sleep sheep back on. Joseph wakes up A LOT, often every hour. (He's had a cold for a month, and is teething, so who knows whether he would sleep longer if those factors weren't involved.) Instead of letting him fuss and put himself back to sleep, I put the pacifier back in and rub his belly. I have never been able to do "cry-it-out."

-Stephanie still has her pacifier, and I have no intentions whatsoever of weaning her anytime soon.

This is only a small sampling of the things that I do that i'm not proud of. I hate admitting them, but you know what? I'm glad I did, because there might be a mommy out there who feels horrible about doing one of these things, and hopefully reading this post will make her feel better about herself. We moms sometimes need to do anything we can to get through our days. Parenting is hard work. It's a 24-hour, 7 days a week job, regardless of whether you work in the home or out of it. So instead of feeling ashamed, we need to celebrate the fact that our kids are healthy and happy. I encourage all of my readers to share one of your own "mom-fessions!"

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Out With the Girls?

I've been completely immersed in my mommy role lately, and i'm starting to get the itch to get out and have some girl time. I love being a mom, and I wouldn't trade staying home and raising my little ones for anything in the world. It's the choice I made, i'm beyond happy with it, it's a fulfillment of my dream. But it also means that 100% of my time is spent mothering, taking care of my home, or nurturing my relationship with Dan via date nights. I've only been out by myself once since Joseph was born, and that was on a shopping trip with my best friend. Even though I enjoyed that day, I feel like I didn't take full advantage of the girl time, because half of my mind was back home, wondering if Dan was doing ok with the two kids. But now I really want a night where I can go out, sit in a restaurant, drink a glass of wine, and have an adult conversation with one (or several!) of my girl friends. I want to chat about clothes, current events, celebrities, our husbands, and yes, even the kids. I want to hear about other women's hopes and dreams and lives. I want to laugh, commiserate, and bond.

The idea that I need to get out has been in the back of mind a lot, but I haven't really taken the time to actually set something up. I think this is because a part of me feels guilty about feeling the need to get out with my friends. I know how silly that is, but it's true. Mommy guilt is a constantly lingering beast. I feel like I need to devote myself to my family at all times, and if I want to go out on my own I feel like i'm letting them down. But the truth is, I know that's not true, and I also know that I am a better mom and wife when I get some "me" time. I don't need to do it a lot; one night every few months will suffice.  I know that I will come home feeling refreshed, rejuvenated, and happy. There's just nothing like female bonding...it's good for the soul, and the psyche.

My goal is to set up a girls night sometime in the next month. I will go out and have a fun time, and I will not feel guilty about it! I, and all of us mommies, deserve to let our hair down and relax with some good wine, good friends, and good conversation. I hope all of my dear readers will join me in making a pledge to get some girl time, because lets face it...we need it!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Puddle Jumping

As an adult, I love watching the snow fall. It's beautiful and peaceful, and there's nothing quite like curling up on the couch, snuggling with your children during a storm. We had snow on Saturday, and I was disappointed that, instead of playing in it, we had to trek to the Dr's office. We discovered that Joseph has a sinus infection (I had no idea that a baby could get that) and Stephanie has an ear infection. Joseph got a shot, Stephanie a prescription for an antibiotic, and we headed home to snuggle. On Sunday I managed to take Stephanie out to play in the snow for about 20 minutes, and she had a blast.

When we woke up this morning, the temperature had crept up, and the snow was turning into slushy, messy mush. I wrinkled my nose, and thought "ugh, how gross." But I needed to get out of our apartment after being stuck inside for the better part of a week, thanks to all the sickness . So I bundled us all up, put snow boots on Stephanie and I, and we headed out to do errands.

As soon as we stepped out the door, Stephanie exclaimed over the snow that was still covering the grass. She asked if she could walk in it, but I hurried her right to the car in order to avoid an "I don't want to leave the snow!!!!" tantrum. As we walked, she looked down and said "oooh, mommy, puddles!" She then proceeded to jump and splash all the way to the car. The dirty, slushy snow covered her boots, but she was giggling and happy. I smiled, strapped her in her car-seat, and drove on my way.

We got to our destination, and as soon as I took her out she jumped into more puddles. She hopped and giggled all the way into the store, and when we finished checking out, she said "yay, more puddle time!"

It amazed me that just being allowed to jump in the slushy puddles could make her so happy. Toddlers are amazing creatures, and today reminded me that, even though it might not be as pretty, or seem as fun, days old snow can still bring us joy and laughter.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Five on Friday: Infant Essentials

I previously wrote a post on the things that I found essential during those first weeks home with a newborn. (You can check that post out here). Now that Joseph is three months old, he's more alert and aware of his environment, he's smiling and laughing, and starting to grab onto toys. His needs are changing too, which means there is a brand new batch of baby stuff that I find essential.

1. Baby Swing. We still depend on this a lot, but now it's more than just a place to plop him down. He sleeps in it during the night if he wakes up stuffy and needs to have his head elevated. He hangs out in it while the rest of us rush around getting things done, and just watches and smiles at us. (It stays in the living room, which is the hub of our apartment, and gives him the perfect vantage point for tracking the rest of us with his eyes.) He's also taken an interest in the toys that hang down from the bar. He's even grabbed on to some of them, and delights in his accomplishment. I'll often hear him chatting away to the toys as he swings happily back and forth.

2. Playgym. When Stephanie was a baby, she loved hers right from the get-go. It didn't light up though, and both of my babies love to stare at lights. So when Joseph was about a month old, I borrowed my sister's, and whenever I set it up Joseph would stare at the lights. We didn't use it often though, because space was an issue, and I also wasn't comfortable leaving Joseph on the floor with Stephanie around. We recently set up all Stephanie's toys in our brand new playroom, which opened up a spot on our living room floor. The gym is now up all the time, and it's a lot easier to put him on it while she's eating or napping or busy in the playroom. He still adores the lights, and also love s the toys that rattle. He has figured out that he can use both his hands and his feet to move them.

3. Ergo carrier. This is, hands down, the best carrier ever. I was never a strong baby-wearing supporter with Stephanie, because she was content to ride in her stroller. But this little boy loves to be close to his Mommy. He cries if he's in his carseat in the back of a shopping cart, isn't thrilled with the stroller, and gets upset when he can't see me. Enter the Ergo. I can wear him for hours without my back bothering me, he can watch the world around him, but lay his head down when he's tired, and I have full use of both hands.

4. BundleMe. Ok, this one has nothing to do with Joseph's age, but the changing of the weather has made it an essential part of our day-to-day life. Strapping him into his carseat and zipping up the BundleMe is so much easier and quicker than putting him a coat or snowsuit.

5. Bumbo chair. We recently started using this, and he loves it. We have the little tray that clips on, so he can sit and look at toys. He's started to realize that he can use his hands to make his toys do things (like rattle, light up, etc.), and the Bumbo with tray attached allows him to that while strengthening his neck muscles and getting him ready for the excersaucer.

It's amazing how quickly 3 months have gone by, and also how much the needs of my baby have changed. Of course, every baby is different, but I have found these five things to be such lifesavers for us during our busy days.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Minor Illnesses

I don't think there's been a time since Joseph was born that all four of us have been 100% healthy. Stephanie came down with a cold when the little guy was just days old. We had to send her off with my parents to keep him healthy, and luckily it worked. We didn't think to send Dan away too, and so he came down with her cold/virus about a week later. He recovered quickly, but Stephanie's chose to linger. She seemed to cough all night long for two months, and her runny nose never left.

Right after Christmas, while we were in New York, both kids came down with colds. They were snuffling, sneezing, coughing messes. Stephanie's cleared up quickly, Joseph's cough is still hanging around. Luckily neither cold was terrible, and was nothing more than a minor nuisance. (The biggest complaint I had was that the cold threw a wrench in Joseph's attempts to sleep through the night. He still gets stuffed up, and then can't breathe, so he spits out his pacifier, which wakes him up. We go through this cycle every hour on the hour, from about 1am on.)

On Sunday, Stephanie woke up, I went to get her, and she promptly threw up all over the place. I stripped the bed, threw her in the tub, and put clean jammies on her. I went into the kitchen to get her some water, and she wandered in after me, and threw up again. Thus began an entire day of getting sick, cleaning it up, cuddling, and watching TV. She felt much better on Monday, but developed some kind of cough, and a slight fever. Then, last night I came down with the stomach bug too. Today i'm exhausted, and have body aches and chills. We seem to have caught some bizarre virus.

 I'm happy that it's nothing too major, and seems to leave quickly, and just irritates and annoys for the time it hangs around. That's how it's been all fall and winter so far, and I am truly thankful that none of us have gotten anything major. I'll take colds and viruses like we've had, if it means we can recover and get back to normal in a day or two. (My poor friend was in the hospital for three days with her baby girl...I felt so horrible for her.) In the meantime, until i'm healthy again, we're just taking things slow, and hanging around the house. Sometimes I think things like this happen to remind us that it's ok to have days where the dishes pile up, toys stay strewn on the floor, we wear sweats all day (or jammies, in Joseph's case) and take time to nurture ourselves back to health. Here's hoping that tomorrow we all wake up feeling like ourselves again!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Project Happy Week 2

I did my best to focus on happy moments this past week. To really pause and reflect on the small things that brought joy to my life. There were definitely days that I got busy rushing here and there, or got stressed by small things that really didn't mean much. But at the end of the day, I made sure to think back and remember at least one moment that truly made me happy. 

There was the day I spent with my best friend and her son. This in and of itself was enough to make my whole day. (We don't get to spend much time together at all.) But there was one moment during our day, when my friend was holding Joseph, that I paused for a moment to watch them. He was focusing intently on her face, telling her a story in his baby babble, and she was smiling back at him. It filled me with happiness to see two such important people in my life bonding and having a special moment together. 

Joseph is still recovering from his cold, and after a particularly long night with him, I stumbled to the kitchen, desperate for a cup of coffee. My new coffee maker has a delay brew function, so I was able to get a hot cup instantly...even quicker than I used to with my Keurig. Pure happiness.

I've been doing really well keeping up with my workout routine, and I took a moment to really feel grateful for the fact that Dan has been around so much, and I've been able to devote time every day to making myself healthier.

We had an awful rain storm this past week, and it put me in a bad mood. But we had a playdate, and just getting out of the house, having a grown-up conversation, and giving the kids a change of scenery was enough to put me in a much happier mood. I got back in the car feeling like a much more energetic, cheerier version of myself.

Even though Dan hasn't been working these past few weeks, we haven't had much fun family time. So we took one day to go to our local Children's museum. Stephanie had a ball, running around, playing at each exhibit, and exploring everything she could find. She splashed in water, built with magna-tiles, and shrieked with happiness the whole time. (Joseph spent the day snuggled up to me in the Ergo.) We finished the day at Panera, where I ordered my favorite lunch ever, the Fugi Apple Chicken salad. It was a perfect day!

We spent the day after the museum at home, lounging around in sweats. (We were all exhausted from the day before, and as it turns out, Stephanie was coming down with a stomach bug.) Sometimes there's just nothing like a home day, cuddling, reading books, building puzzles, and just relaxing together as a family.

I hope you were all able to find moments of happiness in your week too. It can be hard to look past the stress of day-to-day living, but if you really look for them, those moments are there. Have a wonderful week everyone!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Joseph's 3 Month Letter

Dear Joseph,
Yesterday you turned 3 months old. We celebrated by taking you on your first trip to the Children's Museum. I wore you in the Ergo (which has been the best investment I've made since having you, and recommend to any and all new moms), and you spent the entire time staring at all the sights. Your little head just kept swiveling back and forth, watching the lights, the other children, and most importantly your big sister. Every time I tried to get you to lie on my chest and fall asleep, you fought me with determination. It was only when your eyes refused to stay open any longer that you let yourself take a small snooze. We then went out for lunch to Panera, where you slept the whole time. I think we wore you out.

Your day yesterday was an indication of how much you've grown and changed this past month. You are aware of everything around you, and you love to see the action. Your neck muscles are so strong, and you can hold your head up for long periods of time. We used the Bumbo chair for the first time this month, and you love it. We put toys in front of you, and if they light up, you are mesmerized. When we hold you in Daddy's blue chair you stare at Stephanie's Violet & Sid the Science Kid, and talk to them. You're starting to reach for toys that are in your line of vision, and if there are no toys, you just make a fist, hold your arm in front of you, and stare at it. (Apparently hands are quite fascinating.) Your baby babbles and coos are quite possibly the most adorable thing I have ever heard. You talk and talk, with huge smiles interspersed throughout the conversation. Sometimes I'll catch you staring at me or Daddy or Stephanie, with a big smile on your face. You don't care whether or not our full attention is on you, you just love seeing our familiar faces.

You officially outgrew your bassinet this month. Since you aren't totally sleeping through the night yet, you're still in mine and Daddy's room. We borrowed a pack-n-play from Nana, and you sleep in that. I think you love having extra space to fling out your arms and kick your legs. You're also almost too big for your 3-6 month clothes. I can't believe how fast you are growing! Too fast for my liking...sometimes I wish there was a pause button so I could take extra time to soak up all of your baby moments.

This month was full of family time. You took your first out of state trip in December, when we went to visit Auntie A. & Uncle H. to celebrate Christmas with them. You were so well behaved in the car, thank you for that! We celebrated your first Christmas a week later, which was full of presents (Stephanie helped you open yours), family, and food. We then took a trip to NY, where you spent your first night away from home since the hospital. You came down with your first cold while we were at Grandma's house, and it was heartbreaking to listen to your congestion and cough. You made it through though, and that trademark smile never left your face. You still have remnants of that cough, which is contributing to the non-sleeping all night thing you have going on. (You sometimes need to transfer to your swing half-way through the night, so you can sleep upright.) We've also been going on a lot of playdates, and you seem to just revel in any attention that is given to you. Someday you will be running around with all the other kids, laughing, playing, and interacting. I know that day is going to come too fast.

It's been a busy, full month, and one of my greatest joys has been to watch you grow. You're such a mellow baby, content to just sit and watch the rest of us orbit around you. I am so grateful for all the joy you bring to my life, and am so honored to be your Mommy. I hope you always know how very much you are loved. Happy 3 months baby boy, I love you a million billion!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Five on Friday: Children's Literature Edition

As a former preschool teacher, I know how important it is to read to my children. I adore children's literature, and was thrilled when Stephanie finally started to sit and snuggle for reading sessions. Choosing books to read one-on-one is very different than choosing them for a classroom setting, and it's been a lot of fun for me to learn what Stephanie likes and find books that will hold her interest as well as being fun for me to read. Below are 5 authors whose books she adores.

1. Dr. Seuss
    We read the Beginning Reader's, and she can't get enough of them. Those silly, nonsensical rhymes hold her attention and make her laugh. Her favorites are Mr Brown Can Moo, Can You?, The Cat in the Hat, and There's a Wocket in my Pocket.

2. Nancy Tillman
    My first experience with this author was on the night Stephanie was born, and my sister gave her On the Night You Were Born. The beautiful, lyrical words in this story never fail to bring tears to my eyes. If you haven't read it to your child, I highly recommend it. It celebrates the love that forms when a child enters the world, and tells children how special and loved they are. Joseph received another book by the same author for Christmas. This one, Wherever You Are My Love Will Find You is equally beautiful. Children need to know how important they are, and these books do a great job conveying that.

3. Sandra Boynton
    I receieved two of her books when I was pregnant with Stephanie, and fell in love with them. They are board books, with only a few words on each page, which are perfect for squirmy toddlers. They feature adorable, cartoonish animals, and the stories are rhyming and silly. Stephanie's favorites are The Going to Bed Book, But Not the Hippopotamus, and Moo Baa La, La, La.

4. Anna Dewdney
    We love reading Anna Dewdney's Llama books. Our favorites are Llama Llama Misses Mama and Llama, Llama Red Pajama. Little llama is a silly young boy who has little adventures that toddlers can relate perfectly to. In Llama Llama Misses Mama, he has his first day of school, and is sad because his mom goes away. But in the end, he learns that she always comes back, and that it's okay to love both his mama and his school. Llama Llama Red Pajama is about bedtime, and the things little Llama will do in order to avoid going to sleep. Again, perfect for toddlers because they relate so well to these scenarios.

5. Karen Katz
    These books are perfect for babies and young toddlers. They are board books, with only one small sentence on each page. They all feature a baby, and many are related to holidays. We have Where are Baby's Easter Eggs and Where is Baby's Valentine. We also have Daddy Hugs which I would have to say is Stephanie's favorite book of all time. It's a counting book, and each page names a different type of hug, starting with 1 "i'm so glad you're my baby hug" and ending with 10 " I love you hugs". This was the first book that Stephanie ever asked us to read by name, and it continues to be one she frequently requests, even though she has since moved on to loving other, longer books. It is one that will always remain a classic in our house.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Chasing Dreams

Once upon a time I wanted to be a writer. Ever since I can remember, writing has been something I enjoyed. English was always my favorite subject in school, and I always did better on tests when there were essay questions. I even went so far as to major in English when I started college. But in the back of my mind, I knew I wanted to be a mother even more than I wanted to be a writer. I also knew that I didn't want to work outside the home when I had my children. Being a stay-at-home mommy was always the bigger of my two dreams, and if I had left college with that English degree, I would have had to take a small job in the field and fight my way to the top. I didn't want to devote that much time to something, only to leave it when I got pregnant. So, I put that dream aside, majored in Early Childhood Education, and got a job as a preschool teacher right out of college. This way I was able to work with children, which obviously is something else I love. And when I left to raise my own children, I didn't feel like I was stepping out of a career that I would never be able to get back into.

When I started this blog, it was a way to chronicle my pregnancy, but it was also a way to return to my love of writing. It's also a forum where I can put my thoughts into words, and reach out to other moms. Some people talk to me about my blog and say things like "how do you find the time to write that?" or "I would love to do something like that, except i'm too busy" or "why are you wasting your free time on it?" But the thing is, if you love something and are passionate about it, you make the time. Writing is my hobby, something I love to do. There's always time in your day to carve out a few moments and do something that makes you happy. Through this blog, I can write about what I know (parenting), connect with people going through similar situations, and share my experiences with the people who read it.

If you're someone who takes the time to read this blog, thank you. Even if you don't agree with everything I write, it means a lot to me that you take the time to come back. (Even if you check my blog just to see when kind of drivel I've decided to put down that day.) I love that, through the internet I am able to be a stay at home mommy, but still fulfill my dream of writing and having people read the words that I write. Chasing dreams and loving what you do are the keys to happiness. I hope all of you are able to fulfill your dreams, too!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Project Happy: Week 1

I'm very excited to be participating in Project Happy, with Katie of Practical Parenting. In her words,  "Project Happy is an attempt to do one thing each day, no matter how small, that truly makes me happy."

 In general, i'm a happy person, and I can identify the things that make me happy. Family, friends, reading, coffee, wine. But Project Happy is all about focusing on the small moments of happiness that occur every day, pausing, and acknowledging them. It's often easier for people to focus on the negative, to complain about this or that. I am guilty of that myself, and I find that it just makes me feel miserable. What is the point of living if we're just going to complain all the time, and let bitterness and resentment build up? I think this project is a great way to hit the pause button when those negative feelings threaten to take over, and instead dwell on something positive. Because there is always something positive to focus on, even in the worst of times.

I jumped on this project a little late, but starting today i'm going to briefly jot down the small moments that make me happy each day. Then, once a week I'm going to compile them all and share my moments of happiness with you. I'm excited for this challenge, and I know that no matter what happens in 2012, I will be able to look back and realize that there were in fact rainbows after every storm.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Always With Me

I left my babies at home with Dan yesterday while I went outlet shopping with one of my dearest friends. I was gone for six hours, and it was the longest stretch of time I've been away from them since Joseph was born. Leaving them was harder than I expected, and I not so eloquently handled it by asking Dan about three million times whether he was sure he could handle them both. (Turns out he can...)

As I got in the car and pulled away, I felt like I was leaving part of me behind. (I know, dramatic, right?) I've left Stephanie before, and for some reason it has never been as hard as this. I think it might be because Joseph has been attached to me for the past 2.8 months, more so than his sister was. When she was born, Dan did the majority of the baby care for the first few weeks, since I had such a hard time with my recovery. And whenever we were around family, she was passed back and forth between everyone, leaving me to eat, drink a glass of wine, and just generally enjoy having two hands to myself. But now that Joseph has arrived, he is usually in my arms while other people play with and entertain Stephanie. So having empty arms for six hours was a new experience for me. I also found myself acutely missing my adorable little toddler, who has been my sidekick for almost two years now.

Every stoplight I hit, I heard Stephanie's voice in my head saying "Ride, Ride!" (She hates when the car stops.) On the way home in the dark, I noticed each and every house that still has it's Christmas lights up, and (in my head, although a few times I almost spoke out loud) I would say "Lights, Mommy's side!" During the actual shopping, which was supposed to be about buying for myself, I couldn't help but purchase more clothes for the little ones. In my defense, Gymboree had a fabulous sale, and I stocked up on stuff for both of them for next winter. In a surprising twist on the missing them front, I actually found myself being glad that they weren't with me when I saw all the mom's struggling with their strollers. Trying to get those monstrous metal things through store doors is a challenge. It was also amazing to be able to chat and browse without stopping every 5 seconds to say "put your feet/arms back in the stroller, here's your water that you just threw for the 3 millionth time, eat your snack, we're almost done, we'll keep moving in a minute..." You know, all the lovely things that you have to deal with while shopping with a toddler. And, I didn't have to worry about planning our trip around baby feedings, or stopping every five feet to pop a pacifier in the crying baby's mouth, or strapping him in the Ergo when he got sick of the stroller. What a luxury!

When I finally got home, the house was calm. Joseph was sleeping in Dan's arms, and Stephanie was at the table eating a snack. (Right before dinner, but whatever. It was late, and she gets cranky when she's hungry.)  The house was actually neater than when its me home with kids all day, and he had even managed to fold and put away a load of laundry. I was (and still am) extremely impressed with and proud of my wonderful husband for taking such good care of our little family while I went out and took some much needed time for myself. It was a fantastic reminder of the fact that my family is always with me wherever I go, and it's ok (and necessary) for us all to have some time apart. I'm looking forward to the next trip! Who wants to join me?

Friday, January 6, 2012

Big Girl Bed

We've reached a huge milestone in our house: the switch to a Big Girl Bed.

I'm not sure that any of us were truly ready for this change, but Baby Joseph is rapidly outgrowing his bassinet and will be needing the crib soon. He's also so close to sleeping through the night, which means the BIG MOVE into Stephanie's room. (A transition that i'm acutely dreading.)

So, in light of all the baby growth, we knew it was time to get the toddler out of her crib and into a bed. We decided to forgo the toddler bed, because it would mean buying another crib mattress, and then finding a place to store said mattress when she outgrew it in a year or two. We took Dan's old metal twin bed frame from his mom's house, and put it in the "nursery" over a month ago. We then procrastinated the purchase of a mattress until this week. Dan went and picked it up on Wednesday, and we chose an adorable bedding set to go with it.

Stephanie was so excited about her Big Girl bed. We washed up the bedding and made the bed, while all the while she was jumping up and down screaming "YAY! Big Girl Bed!!!!" We put two guardrails on the sides to prevent any rolling out, and lined the side with the insane amount of stuffed animals that have, up to now, resided in her crib.

After our regular bedtime routine (jammies, teeth, story, rocking, singing & prayers) we tucked our big girl into her new bed. She immediately burst into tears, pleading "Mommy room, Mommy room." (Meaning she wanted me to stay with her in her room.) We gave last kisses and reassurances, and backed out of her room. Her crying lasted all of two minutes, and we never heard another peep from her.

She looked so tiny lying there in such a big bed. But she was also adorably cozy, tucked in among all her special cuddly friends. As we walked into the living room, a wave of emotions washed over me. I haven't thought of her as baby in a long time. She's a walking, talking little girl. But every night I knew I could tuck her into her crib, and she'd be safe and sound, waiting for me to come and retrieve her in the morning. Now she's one step closer to independence, one step further away from the baby she once was. She now has the ability to get herself out of bed if she so chooses, meaning she needs me just that much less.

 I know this is the point of having children. We raise them the best we can, give them their wings, and send them out in the world. I want her to have her hopes and dreams, and fulfill as many of them as possible. But I also know that every time one of these changes comes about, I will feel nostalgic for the stage we left behind.

 This might seem like such a small little milestone to those who have sent their children on to college, and watched them get married and have children of their own. But right now, in our little world, this is a huge change. My baby is in a bed now...wow.

Five on Friday: Get Healthy Edition

This week brings you five healthy habits I've stuck with so far this year. (I know, I know...it's been less than a week. But I figure that if I tell all my readers i'm sticking with these habits, it will hold me accountable and I won't give them up.) As a bonus, i'll share with you the five habits I still need to work on.

Healthy Habit Success Stories:

1. Exercise. I've been doing both strength training and cardio every day this week. My husband, who works for a University, has a few weeks off this month, so I'm taking advantage of him being home at night. I put Stephanie to bed at 7, and then use the Wii Fit for 30 minutes while Dan holds or feeds Joseph. I feel happier, less stressed, and healthier. It's amazing what a week of exercise can do for you.

2. Eating less. I cut out my morning snack, and instead only eat breakfast, lunch, afternoon snack, and dinner. I also cut out eating after dinner. I have not had one morsel of food once the final meal is finished all week. This is huge for me, since I have a tendency to pig out at night.

3. No alcohol. I'm not giving up my wine completely, but right now I need to lose weight and get healthy, so my plan is to limit it to two glasses per week. So far I haven't had any since New Years Eve.

4. Tea at night. I keep hearing about the benefits of green tea, so I've been making myself a cup every night after my workout. If nothing else, it helps me relax and makes me full enough to not turn to snacking.

5. Sneaking in exercise. I look for every opportunity during the day to burn a few more calories. When Joseph is fussy and i'm bouncing with him, I engage my ab muscles. When Stephanie is being whiny, I put music on and we have impromptu dance parties. While i'm brushing my teeth, i'll do a few squats. When I walk to the car, i'll skip with Stephanie. I know these are tiny examples, but I figure every little bit counts!

Things to keep working on:

1. Drink more water. I keep forgetting to do this, even though I find myself so thirsty during the day. And of course we all know that being hydrated is key to weight loss, as well as being a general healthy habit.

2. Incorporating healthier options into my meals. I don't eat nearly enough vegetables, so I am going to make it a goal to have some with both lunch and dinner every day.

3. Eating less at meals. I think i'm making up for the lost snack by adding extra food into my lunches. For example, yesterday I made a salad with turkey & cheese in it, and some strawberries on the side. Then I said hmm, I think I might still be hungry, so I ate a Nature's Valley Granola bar. In reality, I know that should have counted as my snack, but I still had another one with Stephanie at 3:00.

4. Sleep. I know how important this is to my general help, and I also know i'm not getting enough. Joseph no longer gets up to eat in the night, but he does wake frequently, and every time he does, so do I. I get out of bed, pat him, and put his pacifier back in. This disrupts my sleep cycle and makes me tired all day long. I know there isn't anything I can do about it right now, but to make up for it I want to start going to bed at 10:30 instead of 11. This way I can get an extra half hour of sleep while he is in the middle of his longest stretch of restful snoozing.

5. Sticking with my plan. I have a habit of being all gung-ho about eating right and exercising, but then letting it fall away after a week or two. My continued goal is to stick with it! I want to see results, and i'm really serious about working hard to get down to my pre-pregnancy weight.

*I'm trying out "Five on Friday" instead of "Friday Fives." I like that a lot better...

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Toddler Eating Habits

I truly believe that whether or not a child eats well is dependent on that child. A parent can do everything in his/her power to get a child to eat, and eat healthy, but if she's going to be picky, she's going to be picky. That being said, we have been very blessed with an adventurous eater who truly enjoys food of all kinds. It is very rare to come across a food that Stephanie won't eat. She eats whatever we do, she tries everything we put on her plate, and she always asks for more food. Since many parents I know are dealing with children who aren't such wonderful eaters, I thought i'd share some of the things we do that I think help her eat so well.

-She eats at the table. We've always used a Fisher Price Space Saver High Chair since we live in a small apartment. When Stephanie was 14 months old, she started always eating off of a bowl or plate, so we ditched the tray and pulled her right up the table. She feels like she's a fully participating member of our family meals this way.

-We eat all of our meals together. One of us sits with her at breakfast and eats, I sit with her at lunch, and we all have family dinner together. This way she sees the things we're eating, and it's also a fun social experience for her. We spend time talking about the food, identifying objects and letters on her place-mat, and chatting with one another.

-We eat certain meals in pieces. For example, I know that she loves rice, and will gobble that up and ask for more without even looking at the other things on her plate. So, when rice is included in our meal, I leave it on the stove, and bring it out after she's eaten some of her protein and vegetable. I do this any time there is one part of the meal that I know she prefers to any other.

-I always offer her bites of things I know she isn't thrilled with. Last night we had stuffing, which she's never liked. I put one piece on her plate and encouraged her to eat it. She did, and then told me "no like it." So that was the end of it. I didn't pressure her or force her to eat more, but I gave her the opportunity to try it. I think this works for us because she knows that if she really doesn't like something, she won't be forced to eat more.

-She is allowed to eat independently, no matter how much of a mess she makes. This is a hard one for me, because I hate messes. But, I discovered this was the best way to get her to eat a complete meal. If she thinks i'm going to try and feed her, she'll resist. About six months ago I couldn't get her to eat yogurt. I was spooning it out for her and handing her the spoon and she just wouldn't do it. So I finally set it down in front of her, and wouldn't you know...she fed herself the whole thing. So I always give her a fork and spoon and let her eat it however she wants. Once in a while i'll help her scoop things up and feed them to her, but for the most part she is a completely independent eater. If she winds up eating with her hands, fine. But the fork and spoon are always there and i'll give her a reminder here and there to use the utensils, but don't force it.

-I let her have dessert. Not every night, but many nights she gets treats after dinner is done. We've always done this, and it has never interfered with her eating. It also isn't contingent on whether or not she's cleaned her plate. (I've read that forcing kids to finish their meal so that they can have dessert can lead to an unhealthy relationship with food.) I am a big believer in not withholding junk from children. If something is "taboo" then the desire for it will increase, therefore encouraging kids to sneak snacks and treats when they're older, or gorging themselves on them when they are given the chance to eat them. She gets one small treat several times a week, and balances it by eating healthy the rest of the time.

Here are some of our go-to healthy foods: grape tomatoes, blueberries, bananas, green peas, sweet peas, string cheese, broccoli, deli ham & turkey, craisins & raisins, clementines, applesauce, strawberries, blackberries, kids greek yogurt, and baby food pouches. (This is another little trick...she adores eating pureed fruit & veggie pouches, which is a great way to add an extra dose of healthy food to her day.)

I'm so grateful that we havn't had to deal with any eating issues with our little one, and i'm keeping my fingers crossed that her baby brother will be just as good of an eater! Although he's already picky about his formula, so i'm not holding out too much hope...

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