Don’t Give Up!

Posted by | Blog, Breastfeeding, Daily Reassurance, Feeding, Inspiration, Keep Trying! | No Comments

She was about a week old, nursing every hour 24 hours a day. I had waited until I was 28 to become a mother, so I thought I had this in the bag, but here I was, almost 20% of my maternity leave gone, with engorged breasts and cracked, bleeding nipples. My partner would be going back to work soon. We had been supplementing a few ounces of formula every day, per the doctor’s orders, due to jaundice. As her bilirubin numbers got to a normal range, her pediatrician gave no encouragement either way, just information: we could stop supplementing if desired, or continue.

I wasn’t sure I could keep breastfeeding, and there was still plenty of pre-mixed formula the hospital sent home with us. It was like it was staring at me. I had researched parenting and feeding baby like a crazy woman, took parenting classes, and kept reading and hearing “breast is best,” but I knew plenty of babies who thrived on formula. I was on the verge of giving up and switching to formula, but my wise older sister and mother of three stopped in to check on my brand new baby girl and me.

I told her how I was feeling — the physical pain of breastfeeding, the exhaustion, the guilt over not being able to do it, and the temptation to give up. I asked how she managed to breastfeed three babies successfully because I wasn’t sure I was cut out for it. She was kind and told me how she never breastfed her oldest (she was only 20 and I was 8, so I must have been too young to remember). Her first breastfeeding experience was with her second child, and she said that is when she realized what she missed out on the first time around. She told me about how it gets better, that after the second or third week your nipples heal and the lovey-dovey hormones kick in. She explained proper positioning and latch (which was a game changer), and all the money you can save by breastfeeding.

Then she got very serious, put her hand on my shoulder and spoke to me in a way that only my big sister can, “You are going to feed this baby. Whether it is from your breast or a bottle, you feed her. Take it one day at a time, you can do it. But remember, this isn’t just about you. You’re a mother now.” I’ll never forget her words or that moment. I decided to stick it out, one day at a time, and she was right. With a little luck, I did it with no supplementation after 2 weeks. I started pumping at 4 weeks, back to work full time at 6 weeks. Pumping wasn’t my favorite, but thanks to brilliant federal laws, my job had to give me breaks and a private space to do it.

I stopped pumping at my one-year goal when the daycare switched her to cow’s milk, but baby girl had other ideas. We continued nursing at night and on the weekends, and night weaned at 17 months. She self-weaned a few months after her second birthday. Breastfeeding a child is one of the most amazing experiences — it’s almost magical. The end was so bittersweet for me, and I have to say, nursing my baby felt like the thing I was put on this earth to do.

Stand Your Ground

Posted by | Blog, Brave Mom Decisions, Child, Inspiration | No Comments

We hear it from virtually everyone that our children need to drink more water. Yet more often than not, no one can give tips on how to get our children to drink more water. When my oldest son was around 3 years old, we had to take him to the emergency room because he had rectal prolapse. Thankfully, it wasn’t major and was able to correct itself before the doctor even saw him, but his pediatrician told his father and I to make him drink more water. He is 3. How is it even possible to MAKE him do anything, let alone drink more water?

Yes, I can leave it in his cup and let it sit there all day, but why would I not give him something I know he will drink so he will stay hydrated? Well, that obviously wasn’t working like I thought it would. I knew he was drinking too much pop and too many sugary drinks, but how was I supposed to get him to drink more water? I’ve tried the flavor drops in the water and stopping sugary drinks cold turkey in the past and it didn’t work. I think it hurt me more than it did my kids.

So, I finally decided I was going to do what I felt worked for my family. It may not have been the healthiest way to go but it worked for us. Instead of letting the kids drink Dr. Pepper and sweet tea all day, I had to figure out a way to incorporate more water into their daily diet. So for every can of pop they had, they had to drink one bottle of water. I started out with the small bottles of water since they’re kid-sized.

Trust me, it wasn’t easy; there were times I wanted to give in because I was worried that they weren’t getting enough to drink. But I had to ask myself, “How will that can of pop help? It will just make things worse in the long run.” My advice is to stay strong and firm on your decision. It’s not always easy but in the end, it’s worth it!

After a couple of weeks of doing this (and yes, I mean a couple of weeks) all of my kids, including my 2-year-old and my bonus daughter (I don’t like the term “step”), now ask me if they can have a bottle of water when they are thirsty! It makes this momma smile ear to ear! (Don’t get me wrong, they still get a pop or glass of tea every now and then) .

Interactive Mealtimes Made Easy

Posted by | Blog, Feeding Time, Inspiration, Let's Eat!, Mom Time | No Comments

About once each week, we have a family style meal of finger foods spread out on a large cutting board. It looks a little like a fancy appetizer platter, but is so simple, healthy, and inexpensive to make. I like to use whatever I have on hand, which generally includes lean lunch meats (warmed up for pregos and toddlers), sliced or cubed low-fat cheese, whole grain crackers, grapes or strawberries (or any other cut up fruit), and raw veggies (we like carrots or cauliflower with just a little bit of ranch ;)). The beauty of this for your little ones is three-fold: Instead of getting a plated meal, with portions chose by mom or dad, they are listening to their bodies and hunger cues, stopping when they are full.

They also get to see their parents and siblings make healthy choices. Again, since it’s not a pre-portioned plate, they are allowed to choose their own foods, which can open up even the pickiest eater to try something new. Finally, we watch as our kiddos build their motor skills and hear them discussing the best combinations to try. In other words, we witness them connecting with others. #Familymealtime becomes an interactive event, filled with healthy, kid-friendly foods and conversation. And, it has a five-star added bonus: No cooking and no dishes to wash!

When You Know Better, Do Better

Posted by | Blog, Brave Mom Decisions, Child, Inspiration | No Comments

A friend shared her feelings of guilt with me about her almost five-year-old child’s recent dental appointment. Several cavities, two teeth to be capped, and a stern talking-to from the dentist for mom. The dentist asked, “Who is helping him brush his teeth?” She said her boy had been able to do it on his own since he turned three. “Nope,” the doctor said, “kids need an adult to brush their teeth for them, twice daily, until they are at least six years old!” I immediately felt myself flush with dreaded mom guilt. My girl was nearly three at the time, and while I brushed for her in the evening, I was allowing her to brush her teeth herself each morning. My friend and I agreed that we were only trying to encourage our littles to be capable and independent, but we were putting them at risk for tooth decay. Talk about a #momfail! But as Maya Angelou said: “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”

Be Together

Posted by | Blog, Child, Inspiration, Let's Eat!, Mealtimes | No Comments

Blended families are complicated in the best of circumstances, and disagreements over where, when, and how family meals happen may seem like the least of a co-parent’s worries. However, when our electronic-free, relaxing meal times turn into a circus-like free-for-all, this momma sometimes finds herself at wit’s end! But then I remember the most important thing: We are together. We are talking about our day and connecting, practicing manners, and making memories. Her stepdad and I are showing our values to this wide-eyed little person who is absorbing every word and action. None of us want #familymealtime to be all discipline because they are only little once and therefore life should be a fun adventure for them. So, I’ve found that if I turn on a little upbeat music during dinner, we are all more relaxed, and when she breaks out into an impromptu dining room dance party, I’m more prone to join in.

Make the Most of Your Summer

Posted by | Blog, Child, Fun and Games, Inspiration | No Comments

What summer plans do you have for your kiddos? Since both my husband and I work 8-5, all of our activities will have to take place on the weekends. I’ve come up with a plan for every weekend over the summer. My kids get out of school at the end of May, so that leaves us with about 10 weekends to work with. Not only do these activities build our bond as a family, but they also keep us active! (I added a “rest weekend” because rest is just as important as exercise.)

  • Weekend 1: Go hiking
  • Weekend 2: Visit the park
  • Weekend 3: Ride bikes
  • Weekend 4: Take a walk
  • Weekend 5: Rest weekend
  • Weekend 6: Scavenger hunt
  • Weekend 7: Go swimming
  • Weekend 8: Play sports
  • Weekend 9: Yoga
  • Weekend 10: Clean up the yard

Life Hack: How to Get Your Kids to Drink More Water

Posted by | Blog, Child, Feeding Time, Mealtimes, Toddler | No Comments

Do your kids like to drink water? One of my girls does, but it’s always a battle with my four-year-old. I’ve put it in big girl cup, a fun cup with a twirly straw, and a water bottle so she feels like a “big girl”. These things only worked for the first couple of times, then it was back to the drawing board.

I can proudly say I’ve found something that works and is still working! I found a water bottle with a fruit infuser inside of it. I cut up fresh strawberries and lemons, then added water. Not only does it make the water look pretty, but it tastes like strawberry lemonade. I’ve also added fresh blueberries, cherries, and limes. It’s so easy to change up! I’ve even used a clear pitcher with water and ice for home.

It goes so fast, and I rest easy knowing we’re all drinking more water. I hope this can help your family drink more water as much as it has helped mine!

Get Moving! Springtime Activities for the Kids

Posted by | Active Toddlers, Blog, Child, Fun and Games, Play Time, Toddler | No Comments

Spring is almost here, which means we get to play outside again. My seven-year-old is in dance, so I don’t worry about her getting enough physical activity, but my four-year-old tries to turn into a couch potato in the winter months. Thankfully, my husband is all about fitness (I’m trying) so we make physical activity a family affair. Here’s a list of our favorite physical activities, both indoor and outdoor:

  1. Bike riding
  2. Dance party (Always indoors because I dance like a newborn giraffe)
  3. Jumping on the trampoline
  4. Roller skating in the garage
  5. Walking around the neighborhood
  6. Indoor basketball (This is a cool trick to make your kids help with laundry)
  7. Scavenger hunt (Indoor or outdoor)
  8. “Hide & Seek”
  9. “Red Light, Green Light” w/ music (Indoor or outdoor)
  10. Clean house obstacle course (This is my personal favorite)

It’s a Game of Give and Take

Posted by | Blog, Brave Mom Decisions, Child, Inspiration | No Comments

This morning, my four-year-old was in a horrible mood because of the shirt I put on her. My older daughter never acted like that. The fact is, they’re two different people with very different personalities, and sometimes I forget this. Because of their differences, I have to parent them differently, which makes me seem unfair to them.

I’m probably overthinking this, but I just want to be a good mom. I want to be fair. I want them to think I’m the best. After my daughter was upset with me this morning, I took it really hard. I felt like a bad mom. I looked her in the eye before I went to work, told her I loved her, and to have a good day. She rolled her eyes (Yes, she’s four) and she said she loves me too.

I think we mamas are really hard on ourselves. Sitting in the parking lot before heading into work, I stared in the mirror. I saw those tired eyes. I felt myself judging my parenting skills. Why didn’t I just let her wear the shirt she wanted? That’s when I decided that I am enough. I am doing a good job. She has a personality of her own, and I wouldn’t change it for the world.

Next time, I will let her wear the shirt she wants. And next time I get down on myself (because we all do), I will remember that this is just a season, and it may be a fuss over a shirt right now but later might be something bigger. So no matter what your hardship is with your babies, don’t forget you have the best job in the world—to be their mama.

Feel the Love

Posted by | Blog, Child, Fun and Games | No Comments

Valentine’s Day is right around the corner! My kids’ school doesn’t allow Valentine’s gifts to be sent to them like they were when I was little. It makes me sad because I know how special it made me feel to receive flowers and goodies from my mom. It felt so good to get gifts in front of our friends because it showed that someone else cared about us, and we liked to show that off. I want my kids to feel that no matter what gifts they can or can’t show off on Valentine’s Day.

So, I’ve decided to start a new tradition for my kids around Valentine’s Day. I’ve made hearts out of construction paper, and every day I write something I love about them and tape it on their bedroom doors. My girls wake up to a new love note every morning, and as a result, I don’t think I’ve ever heard so many “I love you, Mom”s! My older daughter even took one to school to show it off! Not only is she spreading my idea to other parents, but showing off her “gift” and getting that same feel I got when my mom sent me a Valentine.

I’ll still have a teddy bear and flower waiting for them when they get home from school on Valentine’s Day, but I think these little love notes make it even more special.

FB_IMG_1486767586491