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.

babes

Natural All Purpose Cleaner

no chemicals

If you’re looking to live a more chemical-free lifestyle, there are some big changes you’re going to have to make, but the hardest part is making the commitment to do so.  The easiest transition for me was switching to natural household cleaning products.  We learn to love the strong, chemical odor that our favorite cleaning products give off because it reassures us that the product is doing what it’s supposed to do…clean.

After my son was born, a different perspective worked it’s way around me.

Let’s face it, babies are gross.  They pick up anything they can get their tiny little fingers on and it goes directly into their mouths.  They lick the windows.  They eat off of the floor.  I knew this was going to happen.  So, I would clean and clean and clean to make sure that all the disgusting things my son was bound to do wouldn’t be as disgusting.  But all of those products are chemicals.  In fact, the labels TELL you that they are dangerous and that you need to seek medical attention if ingested.  So why would I be wiping these dangerous, hazardous chemicals around my house, when I know that they are going to end up in my son’s mouth?  I started looking into alternatives and found that not only do they work just as well as the chemicals I had been spraying everywhere, my homemade concoctions save me money, too!

Read more

Adventures in Potty Training

toilet

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?

Read more

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

Choosing the Right Cloth Diaper

dipes

The amount of different cloth diaper brands and styles  is baffling, and the number of opinions about the best cloth diaper is even more overwhelming!

I am going to go over a few different styles  and brands of cloth diapers, hopefully making your choice a little easier!  Because there isn’t a store that sells cloth diapers anywhere in my area, I did all of my research online before purchasing.  What I chose to use, I immediately fell in love with, but keep in mind that my favorites may not be best for you and your family.  It’s all about preference!  No one diaper is better than another, it’s really just about what works for you!

Prefolds

These are what your grandma used.  And these are what people think of when they first hear “cloth diapering”. Prefolds are just that, prefolded pieces of fabric that need to be held together with either safety pins, covers, or a type of elastic fastener that you can purchase. The waterproof covers for these can be found for only a couple bucks, making this the cheapest way to diaper.

Although these may be the most affordable and the easiest type of diaper to clean, I didn’t go with prefolds because they seemed too complicated. Because I was used to disposables, I wanted something similiar to that. I thought it may be hard to teach a babysitter to use them, too. I have prefolds that I love to use as burp cloths! That may be saying something about how absorbant they are!

Fitted

fitted diaper

This kind of diaper is much more similar to disposables.  They fasten with either snaps, velcro, or loops and are fitted to baby’s bottom.  They are not waterproof so they still require some kind of shell.  These diapers are a little more expensive than prefolds, but cheaper than most other styles. Another plus is that there are all kinds of cute designs and colors. Read more

Why Go Cloth?

I started researching cloth diapers when I was pregnant with my son over two years ago. Knowing that I was going to contribute to the overflow of landfills with thousands of disposable diapers just didn’t sit well with me. Unfortunately, two moves in my third trimester (the last one being 10 days before my son was born) had me a little preoccupied. And as soon as my son was here, I was so overwhelmed with him and all of his perfection that I didn’t really think about it again other than the occasional “I wish we would have done cloth”…as if it were too late.

Almost a year ago, when I found out I was pregnant with my second child, I knew that I HAD to make it work! I began researching and found all kinds of websites, blogs, and forums on the benefits of cloth diapering, how to get started, and everything I could ever want to know about using cloth. I was blown away at how many people had the same frame of mind as me!  My husband (being just as environmentally conscious as me) was on board right away. Other people, though, didn’t seem as excited about the idea as I did. My response was simply, “why wouldn’t we use cloth?”

Here are a few key points to why I love cloth diapering so much:

Saves money

  • When you decide to make the leap to cloth, you should be prepared to invest a good amount of money into it. The high end, name brand cloth diapers can reach up to nearly $25 per dipe. Personally, I think that is CRAZY! I found hundreds of different YouTube channels and websites that reviewed every kind of cloth diaper brand and style out there and, based on what I researched, decided what was easiest and most cost-effective for my family. Trying to be as savvy as I could, I decided on three different brands of diaper that I got for as low as $4.50 per dipe that could be used from newborn all the way until potty trained.  And, as a general rule, I never paid more than $6 per dipe (for more info on which brands I chose, check out my blog Choosing the Right Cloth Diaper). There are several different online trading companies that buy, sell, and trade used diapers as well (clothdiapertrader.com and diaperswappers.com) so you could potentially get diapers for even less.  I would count on at least a couple hundred bucks to get started, though, depending on how many you want (I recommend at LEAST 20 as new babes go as many as ten times a day).
  • Disposable diapers are, on average, about $.20 per dipe (we used Pamper Swaddlers for my son which are closer to $.25/dipe). You’ll use about 10 diapers a day on your baby for the first three months before that number goes down to maybe six a day for the next two and a half years! That’s math I can’t even do! In all my research, I found that on average, every child uses about $2,000 worth of disposable diapers which creates over 6,000 diapers added to landfills..that’s PER CHILD! That alone should be enough to convince you, but don’t worry…I have more!

Read more