On Baby’s First Year And Friends

I have some really great friends.  And by great friends, I mean- the best.

A lot of people think that having great friends means that you see them and talk to them all the time, but we are actually quite the opposite.  Many of my friends have children, and those who don’t (yet) understand what it’s like to have them.  And so there will be days or sometimes weeks that I don’t get to see or talk to my closest friends.

This bothered me when D1 was born, because I don’t think I was fully aware of the physical and mental exhaustion that a new mother faces.  But after his birth, we had many friends who became first time parents around the time D2 was born.  And by then, I had everything in perspective.

I knew by then, that a new mom (whether it be her first or third child) could look at her phone and see a message or missed call, and not be able to respond right away; and that she might not remember that she wanted to respond until a few days later, or maybe never remember at all.

I knew by then that a new mom would be so tired that she would value her baby’s nap time and the opportunity to sleep or simply sit there in silence, so much that she just might not want to see or talk to anyone during those precious moments alone.

I knew by then that a new mom probably doesn’t remember the last time she showered.

I knew by then that a new mom couldn’t sit through a lunch or dinner out and really concentrate on the conversation if the baby was along.  And that she couldn’t make it through without checking her phone constantly if the baby wasn’t along.

I knew by then that a new mom would want to spend as many moments and hours with her babies, and that this would never really get old.

I learned quickly that the first year of a baby’s life often means that there isn’t a lot of time for mom’s life, and that she’s usually ok with that.  When a mom friend asked if I wanted to get together, I jump at the opportunity, and assure her that it really isn’t a big deal that I haven’t seen or heard from her on a regular basis.

I just tell new mom that after that first year, things slow down a little.  It gets a little easier to make it out of the house when there aren’t as many things to carry along.

My friends are great because we all know this.. and when our kids are all in college and we’re wondering what exactly we should be doing with ourselves on a Friday night since they no longer need us every moment, we will still be just as close as we are today.  And we can finally have that dinner without interruptions.. or probably not ;)

Travelling With Kids

This past weekend we visited my in-laws.  My husband’s family lives a little over 3 hours away from where we live, and the anticipation of the drive always wears on us.  It’s packing up for 5 people and spending over 3 hours on a very boring road, all while hoping someone doesn’t have a meltdown.

But the kids love it going, and obviously so do we.  We spend all of our time visiting with anyone and everyone we can, and the boys are usually so exhausted that they sleep fairly well.  This visit was G’s first and even she was so worn out the first 2 nights that she slept 8 hours straight!

Packing and planning for any trip can be scary the first few times around, so I wanted to give my readers my best advice- don’t be afraid to over pack!

Since we are usually visiting family and have a washer and dryer available (or even when we went to the beach we had those available), we tend to pack a little on the lighter side with our clothes.  But I still always take more than I think we’ll need, especially pants, underwear, and pajamas for the boys.  Even though we are relatively accident free in all aspects with D1 and D2, you just never know what can happen when you’re away from home.

When it comes to packing for the baby (and really all of us), I like to run through a typical day in our house and figure out exactly what we will need.  This means how many bottles and a typical number of diapers (since we’re in cloth, I tend to just take as many as we have to avoid having to wash as much as possible), and extra thing like a bouncer seat and pack and play.  Think of anything that could go wrong, and again, always pack extra.  Don’t forget any medicines that you may need in the case of an emergency- tylenol, gas drops, etc.

And then there is the matter of the actual trip.  We have DVD players for our car to use on trips and I truly think they’re one of the greatest inventions ever.  We don’t always use them, but it certainly nice to have for a long trip, especially if the boys are tired.  We try not to let them drink a lot when travelling, but of course we always have a drink on hand for each of the boys; they’re really great at taking 2 or 3 sips and giving their cups back as long as we promise they can have more once we reach our destination!  And the most important thing for keeping our kids happy in the car- snacks!!  We don’t go overboard, but a little bag of goldfish and a tube of yogurt can go a long way in keeping our little guys content!

Of course, always plan to stop for potty breaks and bring along plenty of snacks, water, and Advil for mom and dad too :)

A Sewing Project: Going Green

When I was in junior high school, 7th grade to be exact, we had a sewing class.  Somewhere along the line, most schools have deemed this class now unnecessary, which saddens me greatly.  Of course our children need to learn computer proficiency, but at the cost of teaching them to use their hands in crafts like sewing and handwriting?  I think not.  But that is for another day.  Back to the point of this post- sewing..

I loved my sewing class.  My teacher was wonderful (I was in touch with her many years later and she was actually at both my bridal shower and baby shower) and I learned as much as I could from her in the short weeks I took her class.  Both of my grandmothers are beautiful seamstresses, as is my mother and my mother in law.  But I never really stuck with sewing with any type of discipline, and because of that, I never really was very good.

A few years ago, I mentioned to my mother in law that I would love to sew.  There were some small projects for the kids I wanted to learn to do, and I thought it would be helpful to have a machine on hand for mending play clothes and such.  She happened across a machine for me and I asked her to please pick it up for me, which she did.  It’s a wonderful little machine, and she found it for such a steal!  It’s simple to use and powers through all the projects that I’ve thrown at it.

Since our conversion to cloth diapers, we also use cloth wipes (although we haven’t got to that point yet with G because I have them stored with our larger diapers that she should be using in the next month or so).  I bought a few of these from a local mom who sews and sells these types of products, and I fell in love with them.  Since buying them, I’ve made my own in a larger size; it was fairly easy- double sided flannel, sewn inside out, turned right side out and stitched again for a finished product.  I’ve also made baby blankets and learned out to (not so easily) patch the knees of some play jeans for the boys.

My husband and I are always looking for ways to go green, and he came up with two great ideas that have turned into sewing projects- cloth napkins and unpaper towels.  I’ve seen many green moms referring to the unpaper towels in blogs and social media, so I thought this would be a good place to start.  Instead of using flannel, as many people do, I decided on flour sack towels.  I read about the absorbency of these towels in many cloth diapering groups; they appealed to me since they were cheap, lightweight, and white (so I can bleach them if they’re stained)!  I bought 12 towels and cut each into 4 sections, doubling them when sewing, exactly how I sewed the wipes I had made.

I have to admit, it’s taking me awhile to finish.  Over two nights, I’ve completed about half of the entire project.  The first night I cut and ironed everything and started sewing; the second night was strictly sewing (but I have ironed each once they’re turned right side out to produce a nicer finished project with straighter edges).  Even though it’s taking me awhile to complete everything, I love using them already!  I haven’t used them yet for any spills, and so I can’t report on how they compare to Bounty, but I have used them in the kitchen for cleaning just by wetting them down.  They work at least twice as well as a paper towel or Clorox wipe; they hold up better and hold more grease, crumbs, or whatever you are wiping!  I also used them to wipe the boy’s hands and faces after a peanut butter filled lunch, and they worked well and were far softer than paper towels.  I’m going to work on finding a vinegar based cleaning solution recipe and hopefully we can soon do away with all kitchen paper products (paper towels, napkins and Colorox Wipes)!

I’m excited to finish the towels and move onto the napkins, and then find the next project!  What have you made lately that has been both green for the environment and your wallet?

The End of Maternity Leave

My maternity leave is over and it feels like it just barely started.  I am truly envious of those in countries where mothers are given ample time to spend bonding with the new babies in their families.  I was given 8 paid weeks by my employer, which was very generous in today’s workforce, and I saved an extra 3 weeks of vacation time, so I was able to have 11 weeks off with my new baby bundle of joy.

It was a glorious 11 weeks of cuddles from all of my babies.  Not only was I able to spend time bonding and cuddling with baby G, but I was able to do so many fun things with D1 and D2- playing, cooking, and even a little shopping.  Sometimes I think we get so caught up in working for a living that we begin to live to work.  This little break away from technology and work is really going to help me start back in a better place.

I’m very blessed to be able to work from home.  This generally affords me the opportunity to sneak in some kisses and cuddles throughout the day that help keep me going.  Granted, being home all day makes it a little easier for my home to get messy since the kids are here all day; I wouldn’t be able to do it without help from my family and the boys being in preschool.  This gives me the time I need to focus solely on my work.  And it certainly helps that I love what I do.  I am good at what I do, even though my job isn’t what I set out to do when I began college.  But still, going back is going to be hard for that first week or two, I think it is for every mom.

After having G, I actually felt better than I had after having D1 or D2.  I think part of it is that my body knew what to expect, but since my labor and delivery (in the end) were so quick, and she came so early in the day, I wasn’t as exhausted as I was after being induced with D1 or an all night labor with D2.  Since I recovered a little faster, the last month of my maternity leave has been more like some free time to spend with my family.

In addition to recovering and spending some special time with my kids, I had a few projects I was hoping to have the time to complete while I was off work, and I am happy to say that I did it!  Most of them were simple things- patching some jeans for the boys to use for play, cleaning out and/or organizing some things in our closets and attic, but my biggest one was starting and completing baby books.  Not only do I have an awesome baby book for each of the kids (this one!) that allows for writing in memories and has blank pages for photos, but I have the matching box for each child as well.  I adore the set up of the books, but I hadn’t had a chance to complete D2’s by placing all of the pictures, and I still had to add D1’s things from his first year of play school last year.  And of course, G’s book needed to be completed with a lot of information since she was born so close to 2 of her first holiday’s!  (For anyone who doesn’t already know this, baby books have a lot of information to put in before baby is born, such as pages for mommy and daddy and stories about your pregnancy!)  I am so excited to have completed everything that I could in each of the kid’s baby books, and I completed their Shutterfly photobooks from 2013-2014 and started their 2014-2015 books; each year I compile pictures from the entire year into an 8X11 book for each of them, starting with their birthday party and ending before the next.  It took quite a lot of time, especially for the photo books, but I am so happy to have them all in my hands and completed!

So in addition to feeling a little sad about returning to work, I am feeling accomplished and a bit excited.  I did a lot of fun and necessary things on my leave, and feel recovered and ready to get back to a fun and rewarding job.  Wish me luck (and a little extra sanity, if you will)!

No Time For Naps

I have a baby that doesn’t like to nap.  Not in your arms (well sometimes), not in her car seat (which she despises), and certainly not in her bouncer, swing or crib.

Maybe I am being a little dramatic.. she does take short naps, cat naps as some people like to say.  Those are usually right after she eats and on our chests, or occasionally in the car if she’s realized that yelling isn’t going to do her any good.  Once in a great while we can get a full hour long nap in, but that’s a rarity.

I don’t like to complain about it because she’s fairly good at going down for the night around 11pm and sleeping through until about 6am.  A 7 hour stretch at night is phenomenal for a 2 month old baby, especially one who was barely 10lbs at her 2 month appointment.  But the days.. are exhausting.

Not only does she not like to nap, she doesn’t want to be put down.  Not necessarily because she wants someone to hold her, but she wants to be able to see what is going on.  The best shot at contentment while she’s awake is in her bouncer seat, so she can see what her brothers are doing.  She will sit and watch them for a half hour at a time, playing with trains or cars or actively entertaining her with songs and funny faces.

It’s sometimes frustrating, especially since I return to work in only 2 days.  But I guess when that happens she will spend a good bit of her time wrapped and watching what is going on around her.. and then one day she won’t anymore.  One day she will decide that she can do it on her own, the looking and the getting around, and then she won’t want to be held as much anymore.  She will decide, just like my boys did, that she’s too big for that on a regular basis.  And then, I already know, I’ll wish for today.

Doctor’s Recommend

As I was snacking on some Belvita biscuits this morning, I was browsing the label.  I do this often before purchasing any new foods, and occasionally for those I’ve been purchasing regularly.  I was happy to see the amount of whole grains the 4 biscuits contained.. until I saw the “doctor’s recommend…” about 4 times what I was eating.

It got me thinking about all of the things we’re “supposed” to do for better health.  Of course, there are varying opinions on what the best things are to eat- more and more Americans are living on diets that don’t include meat, dairy, or things like gluten.  But has anyone ever sat down and considered all of the things that “doctor’s recommend” we eat every day?

The realization hit me when I was pregnant with G, that even if I ate all of the foods that could hit more than 1 nutrient recommendation, I would have to eat 3 times the amount of food I normally eat in a day to get all of the “recommended” quantities. Clearly, this would result in all of my nutrient levels being fulfilled, but probably far exceeding the “recommended” calorie intake.

Am I the only one who has ever realized this?

I know, I know, we can only do our best and vitamins are supposed to help us out in an area where we lack.  But is there anyone who gets it all?  Recommended amounts of vitamins, nutrients, fiber, whole grains.. the list, I guess, goes on.