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

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. 

Read more

Nuts About Soap Nuts!

IMG_4179[1]

With a family of four  I find that I do a LOT of laundry!  Since we’ve taken on cloth diapers and since our newest addition was born, I do at least a couple of loads per day.  Really, I don’t mind it too much.  It’s part of the routine.  However, when you are doing that much laundry, you really start to consider how much you are spending on laundry detergent.

Because I had severe eczema my whole life, we found out when I was young that plain ol’ Tide was the only detergent we could use that wouldn’t break me out.  I believe that my skin got used to it, not so much that it was the best solution for my sensitive skin.  When I started getting into a greener  lifestyle, I realized how many chemicals are in laundry detergents and thought maybe that was part of the reason that I had so much trouble with my eczema.  Since my son has shown the same symptoms of eczema that I used to have, we decided to go for an all natural approach.

I made my own batch of all natural laundry detergent, which made me feel wonderful because I wasn’t putting any harsh chemicals onto our clothes to soak into our bodies.  I found, however, that my messy 2 year old and newborn baby girl’s clothes were not getting as squeaky clean as Tide had done for us before, so I began looking for another natural alternative.

If I thought I was doing something right by making an “all natural detergent” before, I was wrong!  While the ingredients that I used in my homemade detergent were natural and safe, I found that it didn’t have much stain fighting power.  Enter Soap Nuts.

Read more

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.

Read more

FUN 2 year old activities!

I love being a stay-at-home mom!  Summer was great because we moved into a house in the country with a huge backyard and we were always venturing outside to explore and play.  Now that fall is officially upon us, the colder, damp weather has kept us indoors and we’ve had to get a creative so that we don’t end up doing the same things every day!  My little man is so smart and I want to keep up with his passion for learning by creating new and fun activities.  Here are a couple things that we’ve come up with so far!

 

The Color Game

This one is simple!  I took a box of Fruit Cheerios and some colored mixing bowls and set them out for my little man.

IMG_3606[1]

He didn’t need much prompting.  He loved dumping one bowl into another bowl.  We tried sorting by color, but he was too excited about dumping them into other bowls!  As he gets older, sorting by colors will be easier, and counting, too (we can only get up to 10).  While he was playing, we talked about which were the little bowls and which were bigger bowls.  We also used Baby Sign Language to talk about the different colors of the bowls.

eat point cereal game

He could also snack as he played, which he really enjoyed!  I got out my muffin pan so that we could count out cereal into each tin, but again, he was more interested in dumping the bowls over the pan.  We’ll try again another time!

Overall, it was a simple and successful game that kept us busy for about an hour before he started making a mess, which was my cue that he was done!

Little Monsters

Read more

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.

Read more

DIY Natural Deodorant

deodorant

There have been a lot of rumors swirling around about how deodorants and antiperspirants can be a cause of breast cancer and Alzheimer’s Disease, so I did some research to find out why…

According to the National Cancer Institute, there is no solid scientific proof that deodorants and antiperspirants are a cause of breast cancer; however, parabens (used as a preservative in deodorants) have been proven to mimic estrogen, which can promote the growth of breast cancer cells.  That’s enough to make me worry.  Breastcancer.org states that 1 in 8 women (that reach the age of 70) will develop an invasive form of breast cancer.

Antiperspirants contain aluminum that is engineered to plug up the sweat ducts.  Alzheimer’s patients have a much higher content of aluminum in the brain making the correlation seem pretty suspicious.  The Alzheimer’s Association predict a 44% increase in the disease growth by 2025!

While there is no concrete evidence that deodorants and antiperspirants cause these incredibly devastating diseases, the rise in people contracting these diseases is eerie.  Clearly, we’re doing something wrong!

Why we don’t need antiperspirants and deodorants

Our bodies are made to sweat.  Other than keeping our bodies cool in warm climates, sweating is a natural detox.  Antiperspirants clog up our sweat ducts, preventing the toxins from being released and putting aluminum on your skin to be absorbed into your system.

Read more

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.

 

IMG_3491[1]

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!

Read more

The Stinky Truth…Cleaning Cloth Diapers

When people find out that I cloth diaper, their immediate reaction is always the same– “Eww.”  So let me clear some things up right away.

No, changing a dirty diaper is not my favorite thing to do.

No, I do not touch poo more often than anyone who uses disposables does.

No, I do not have little poo particles swimming around in my washing machine.

And, no, it’s really not that big of a deal.

Cloth diapering is no more disgusting than picking up after your dog on a walk.  And if you don’t pick up after your dog on a walk, you’re just a bad neighbor!  In many ways, I find that using cloth is significantly LESS disgusting than disposables for several reasons:

  1. I’m not contributing an enormous amount of hazardous waste to landfills.
  2. I NEVER have to deal with poo-splosions…in turn…
  3. I never have to deal with poo stains on clothes.
  4. Cloth diapers absorb the stinky smell, unlike disposables.

I thought I would share my method of cleaning cloth diapers for those that are thinking about making the switch to show how easy it can be.

The Stash

This is my set-up…

ez change

Read more

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:

Read more