The Power of 2

Now that my second child is 6…7…8… 9 months old, I think it’s safe to say that I’ve finally got a handle on things.

Yeah, I’ve been pretty confident in my ways for a while…but the truth of the matter is this: I don’t think any mom really knows if she’s doing it right…ever. Everything that my husband and I do for these children comes from love. No matter what the situation, if it doesn’t feel right in our hearts…we’re not going to do it.

There are several things that I found were significantly different with my first child than with my second…and I’m trying to figure out why people don’t tell you this!

First of all…the pregnancy in itself! With my son, I was literally glowing ALL. THE. TIME. People told me…and I felt it! I gained 70 lbs, I couldn’t tie my shoes by 7 months along, I couldn’t put lotion on my legs, I had to pee constantly, and it was the hottest summer in Indiana in decades…through all of that, though, I was happy. The unbelievable things that my body was doing naturally and the notion that I was MAKING a HUMAN were so overwhelming and wonderful that I was just always giddy! Fast forward a couple years, I’m pregnant with my daughter, my back hurt so badly so often that every movement was a struggle, I had mood swings like crazy (just ask my husband!), and to top it all off…I had a 1 year old to chase after. Maybe it’s not like that for every woman, but it was for me, which has me seriously considering whether or not to have another child for the sake of my sanity and my marriage!!

Also, all those friendly words of wisdom and tips from strangers change…DRASTICALLY! I used to get bombarded with strangers comforting my fears and telling me that “it all comes naturally” or “it just works out” or “it’s the happiest time of your life”. The second time around, however, strangers comments became a little more harsh when they found out I had a 1 year old running around. It became “oh, just you wait” and “good luck” or the ever frequent shake of the head and smirk as they walk away…like they have a terrible secret that they can’t bare to tell me. Even my mother, who had three little ones herself, seemed to be waiting for my head to burst!

All those helpful hints that came the first time around like “sleep when the baby sleeps” and “eat when the baby eats” and “don’t forget to take time for yourself” are completely irrelevant when you have a toddler to run after. Nobody tells you that your children will NEVER…let me repeat…NEVER sleep at the same time. So not only will you not be able to sleep at night with a newborn waking up every couple hours, but you can totally forget about the crutch of a short afternoon nap that you once had!

And all of that energy and focus and love and bonding time that was breastfeeding with your first is completely different when you constantly have to try to cradle a baby to your breast while trying to prevent your toddler from throwing his toys at the TV every two hours…because obviously, the only time to act like a miniature lunatic is when you’re mom is trying to soothe a hungry baby.

I distinctly remember the surprise and joy I felt when sliding into my pre-pregnancy jeans a mere three weeks after my son was born. The weight just seemed to fall off. All I can say now is that with missing as many meals as I have while juggling two minis these last few months is that I should definitely be closer to pulling those same jeans on as I am. That’s as much as I’m going to say about that.

Nothing’s easy with two. I still fear going to the grocery store or running ANY errand with two in tow while my husband is at work for fear that my toddler will run away and get kidnapped. I try to avoid it as often as possible.

However…

There are some positives that came from two that I also never expected. Let’s start by the way my baby girl has always looked at her big brother. I’m talking from the beginning, when she could barely focus on anything. The way that she looks at her big brother is something that I’ve never seen. There is so much love and trust. Even now that she’s bigger, my son can run and jump on top of her and be way more rough than I’d like, and she still just looks at him like, “I love this guy. This guy is MINE.” It totally melts my heart…every single time.

And I thought I loved my son before. I thought he was perfect when he was an only child. But I didn’t know anything! He has blossomed as a big brother! He has become so much kinder and selfless than I ever imagined a 2 year old could be!  Everyone told me, “He is going to be so jealous!” Well, granted he didn’t acknowledge her for the first 6 weeks of her life, he has never been jealous of her. He tries to feed her. He soothes her when she’s upset. He randomly runs up to her and kisses her on the head. It’s like he innately understands that it is his duty to take care of her. It’s a magic that I had never before experienced.

And lastly, the unity that it has brought my family. Through the challenges and struggles that having two young children brings, it has brought my husband and I closer than ever. We are on the same page. We want the same things for our children. We know we are a team and we don’t work unless we work together. I understand why marriages fail after having children. It’s hard. It’s really hard. But there is nothing that will ever be stronger than the bond that formed when we brought two little people into this world. And no matter what obstacles we face, we will face them together, and as a whole.

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An Extra Kiss

I’ve heard the stories about the kid of a friend of a friend, and I’ve seen the news stories about sick babies, and I’ve even come across tragic stories of people who I don’t know on my Facebook news feed. Nothing, though, could have prepared me for the scariest moment of my life when I watched my 2 1/2 year old son experience a seizure.

That helpless little face will forever be imprinted into my mind no matter how much I try to shake it out. I can’t describe the amount of time that passed or the faces of the EMT’s and paramedics that showed up or even how my husband was reacting because my vision was completely tunneled to my precious little boy and the terrifying idea that I wouldn’t couldn’t let myself accept: What if he doesn’t pull through. 

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Listen Mamas…We’re All Messing Up

I was recently in a Facebook group created by ladies in the town in which we were living called Crunchy Mamas.  I was excited to join this group to ask questions, get suggestions, and have local support from ladies near me that had the same ideas  and values as I did.  I quickly found, however, that many of the mothers involved in the site, especially the ones running it, had strong opinions about raising children…and if you didn’t agree with these opinions, you were either criticized, talked down to, or kicked out of the group.  The very young mother who had started the group clearly has much pride for it and likes to keep close control over everything posted.  When a mother asked a question about something that may have caused friction, this girl was quick to remind every one that she had the power to remove anyone from the group if she wasn’t happy with their response.

Apart from the politics of the site, what was most disappointing to me was the fact that the group of mothers that I had been so eager to join for support were in fact the most unsupportive and disrespectful group of parents I could have imagined.  I know that certain parenting methods can be somewhat controversial, but I had never actually experienced people’s brutal opinions until this Facebook group.

In my mind, how other parents choose to raise their children is of no concern to me.  My husband and I, before we were even pregnant with our first child, discussed the important values and beliefs that we felt were vital in the bringing up of our children.  We wanted to make sure that we were each on the same page and had each other’s back for the important aspects of creating a decent human.  Unfortunately, conversations like these don’t always take place.  I truly believe that is why there has been such a rise in divorces after children and single parents.

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One of those days…

It’s been one of those days.  As a matter of fact…it’s been one of those weeks.

You know what I’m talking about.  When nothing seems to go right.

When the dishes didn’t get touched and the laundry sat in the washer for much too long.

When you haven’t peed all day because making sure the babies are dry, fed, and breathing is much more important.

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DIY Toy Shelf

My husband and I found this great detailed table at a garage sale marked for $5 and we couldn’t pass it up!  It was a little beaten up, but we both saw potential for something great!..but for what, neither of us knew.  It sat unused in our living room for quite a while until we moved into our new house and I decided what we were going to do with it.

 

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At 2 years old, we decided it was time to get rid of our son’s nursery and give him a big boy room!  A huge milestone for this mama!  He, like any 2 year old boy, LOVES Thomas the Train–or as we like to call it at our house, the choo choo train.  We had already bought him this great little Thomas play mat that came with a mini choo choo train, so that was my inspiration.  We found a great toddler bed set at K-Mart and ordered some wall stickers from Amazon.  It has come together perfectly!

I’ll be honest…my kid is a little bit spoiled!  We have toys in every room of the house and we’re running out of corners and boxes to stuff them away in!  I decided that I wanted to use this table as a practical and cute way to help with this problem!  Lucky for me, the shelves were the perfect height for these canvas boxes that we found at Big Lots for $5!

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Natural Soothing Baby Cream and Powder

I’ve had sensitive skin and severe eczema my whole life.  No amount of creams, ointments, tar, or oatmeal baths ever completely relieved me of the dry, itchy, scarred skin that made people always look twice at me when I wore shorts or short sleeve shirts.  My biggest fear was that I would pass that onto my babies.  Sure enough, my little boy was born with super sensitive skin just like me, and he has since had it rough on his teeny tiny behind!

When he was only two months old we were prescribed a steroid cream to help with his eczema.  I found that with fewer baths with no soap, he was able to produce more of his natural oils to protect his skin and prevent the splotchy, red rashes.  We cloth diaper now, but for the first two years of his life, he was in disposables which are full of dyes and chemicals.  Also, the harsh chemicals and drying alcohol in standard baby wipes always irritated his skin, and from the time he was only a few months old, we were trying out all kinds of different powders and ointments, but nothing ever helped for too long.  Putting breastmilk on the rash was the best cure that I could find.  But I quit breastfeeding when he was a year old, so after that, we were left again with nothing.

I was sure that  switching to cloth would solve all of our tushy problems, but unfortunately, he still suffers from diaper rash, no matter how often we change him.  It isn’t as bad since making the switch, though.  Also, instead of the chemically filled creams and powders, I have opted to an all natural approach!

Diaper Rash Cream

At the local farmer’s market in my hometown, we stumbled upon a woman who made all natural baby products and bought a diaper cream from her that consisted of: organic olive oil, organic unrefined coconut oil, beeswax, organic cocoa butter, and vitamin E.  When I looked at the ingredients, I was sure that was something that I could make myself!  I was on a mission!  After lots of research, I found that much of what was in this natural cream that I had bought was just filler.  The beeswax and cocoa butter, while soothing, are primarily to keep the cream at a harder, more manageable consistency.  The olive oil, though it makes the skin soft, doesn’t have healing properties.  And the vitamin E is a natural preservative.  I came to my own conclusion:

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Free Breast Pumps for ALL Mamas!

Are you a breastfeeding mama?  Want a free breast pump?  Good news!..you can get one!

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Here is my receipt for my FREE breast pump!!

Under the new Health Care Reform, insurance companies are required to provide breastfeeding equipment, counseling, and support for all new mamas!  If you are a breastfeeding mom, you know what a big deal this is!

Breastmilk, or Liquid Gold as I like to call it, contains antibodies, immune factors, enzymes, and white blood cells that protect against bacteria and viruses.  This increases your baby’s immunity to disease and infection from infancy and continues throughout your child’s life.  Breastfed babes are less likely to develop:

  • ear infections
  • respiratory infections like croup, bronchiolitis, or pneumonia
  • urinary tract infections
  • certain types of spinal meningitis
  • gastrointestinal and diarrheal infections
  • childhood diabetes
  • obesity
  • SIDS
  • allergies
  • childhood cancers

Some moms, however, are unable to breastfeed due to low milk supply, baby latching issues, thrush, mastitis, engorged breasts, and more.  Other moms are unable to breastfeed for as long as they want to because they have to go back to work.  Breast pumps allow these moms the opportunity to still give their baby all of the benefits of Liquid Gold!  Though FMLA only gives moms 12 weeks of maternity leave (see bottom of page for more info), that is enough time to produce a stock of breastmilk for a little one.  Pumps can also help boost mom’s supply, reduce engorgement, and help heal mastitis.

The fact that our government has realized the amazing benefits of breastfeeding and required insurance companies to help moms through the process is a HUGE WIN for America!

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Adventures in Potty Training

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If you think this is going to be a how-to on potty training, you are greatly mistaken.  In fact, it’s just the opposite.  My son turned 2 this past August.  As soon as I noticed how quickly he caught on to things (like Baby Sign Language), I knew that he was going to be so easy to potty train!  Before we had even begun, I looked up tips and tricks for best practices and asked advice from other parents I knew, still confident that it would take a week (tops) to get this kid out of his dipes.

Well, I guess it’s time to admit, I was a bit naive…and perhaps a little too big-headed. Read more

Baby Sign Language

Honestly, I don’t even remember how my husband and I came to the agreement that we were going to start baby sign language with our son.  It was important to both of us to instill a passion of curiosity and learning into him as early as we could.  I think one day when I was pregnant I may have said something like, “I think we should do baby sign language.”  My husband jumped on board right away!

It turns out there are a lot of benefits to teaching babies sign language:

A Genius Baby

The early exposure helps develop baby’s reasoning and communication skills.  From personal experience, it really did encourage a desire to learn within our son because to him it’s a game.  We walk around the house finding the different colors and naming objects with words and sign.  Not to mention when we are outside of the house and somebody sees him signing, they immediately comment on how smart he is…HELLO parental ego boost!

A Chill Baby

Because babies that know sign language can communicate needs and wants at a younger age, that means fewer meltdowns and tantrums.  What parent doesn’t want that?! It also aids in speech development.  So while other toddlers are at the park are running around screaming in frustration because mommy and daddy can’t figure out what they are saying, my son walks over to me while simultaneously saying and signing that we are outside playing in the grass.  WIN!

A Happy Baby

Baby sign language is a total confidence and self-esteem booster!  My husband and I always get so excited when our son catches onto a new sign, whether we’ve been working on it for months, or he grasps it within a day!   And it’s so adorable to see how excited he gets when he figures it out, too!  I can see the little baby pride radiating from him whenever we tell him how smart he is.

 

So…how do you get started?

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How to Raise a Genius Baby

So, I have to start by saying this: my son is the smartest kid in the world.  He has been the smartest kid in the world since he was born. Does every mom feel like that?  If so, they are wrong…because MY son is definitely the smartest kid in the world!

Okay, if I haven’t lost you already, let’s get serious. I do, however, have a pretty smart two year old.  He is a polite, good listener with a kind heart who loves to show off!

Here are a couple things that my husband and I did that attributed to our son’s genius.

No Baby Talk

My husband is a high school English teacher and one of the funniest people I have ever known in my life.  He’s got that quick dry sarcastic sense of humor coupled with a calm, monotone voice.  If you’re not listening carefully, you’re gonna miss it and probably be (lovingly) insulted by him, too.  I was anxious to see how he was going to respond to our son when he was born.  I couldn’t imagine him going all “goo-goo gaa-gaa” on me, but then again, people always surprise me.  Sure enough, he didn’t get babied up.  In fact, he spoke to our son like…an adult.  I have to admit, my motherly instincts kicked in as soon as I saw our son and I immediately had to put his perfect little toes in my mouth while still “boo-boo-boo”ing him.  Not my husband, though.  He talked to him like a human being which got me to thinking…

Surely, there is nothing developmentally stimulating about the “bubby gubby doos” that I think every woman wants to say while pinching a pair of chunky little baby cheeks.  Speaking to our boy in direct, full sentences enabled him to bypass the “gabba gabba” cute stage and go right into trying to communicate.

READ

My husband started reading to our son while he was still in the womb.  I remember feeling him kicking like crazy when he would hear his daddy’s voice.  After he was born, I would read my books out loud to him when he was itty bitty.  Nothing that he could understand of course, but the sound of my voice would put him to sleep.  We started reading children’s books to him probably after about three months.  We knew that he couldn’t understand a word that we were saying, but my husband and I have such a passion for literature, that we wanted to be sure to do everything in our power to pass that along to him. Read more