Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Time with Family

Good, bad or ugly, tomorrow is Thanksgiving.  I will be cooking all day, and I truly enjoy doing it.  Time to spend some time with family.  This can be challenging.  Maybe you don't like Great Aunt Ida or your sister-in-law hates your guts.  We still have to be in the same space together for a period of time tomorrow.  What's my advice?  Kill them with kindness.  Let everything roll off your back until you or they leave.  

Think about it, what memories of this day do you want your children to have?  The adults glaring at each other over the crescent rolls or smiling.  Look, you either married into the family or he married into yours and both of you have some crazies in the closet.  Every person walking this earth has a crazy in their family.  I say embrace the crazies, they make the holidays memorable.  You don't have to see these people 24/7, just a couple of times a year.  

Tomorrow as the family gathers, try to find at least one good thing about everyone, even the person who makes it their personal goal to find fault with you.  It can be fun and you will have a small smile on your face.  Maybe Aunt Ida is full of vinegar, but she makes the babies smile.  Maybe your sister-in-law hates your guts, but she loves your children.  Every person has good qualities, try to focus on those tomorrow.  I know this can be a challenge and require a little glass of wine to fortify, but all things in moderation and all that.

I hope you have a wonderfully crazy holiday tomorrow.  I am taking the rest of the week off to focus on family and the black friday sales.  God bless you and yours.  

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

That Kid

We all know that kid.  The one with no discipline who ruins everyone else's day.  You could be at the store, the park, a birthday party, whichever, and there is usually that kid.  He/she is crying, screaming, whining, and making everyone around them miserable.  The problem is, at least one time in our lives as parents, that kid is our kid.  Every child has a bad day, some more than others.  Every parent has the embarrassment of that day permanently etched on their brains.  Sometimes our kids just melt down and they will do it anywhere they can.  We have all been in the check-out line with the screaming kid.   Makes you want to crawl under a rock.

If you have never experienced this and are sitting on your high and mighty horse, brace yourself sweetie, your day will come, and when you least expect it.  I have been high and mighty.  This usually happens before we become parents.  Foolish things come out of our mouths.  Things like, "Why can't you control your child?", or better yet, "When I have kids, they will never act like that."  Be careful, you are just one skipped nap away from what you are witnessing.  Brace yourself, you too can become the victim of the "look" from another shopper.

I am mentioning this because we are about to embark on a busy shopping season.  Many moms have to take their little ones with them or they won't get anything done.  Show compassion to these moms.  Give them a little smile, a "I've been there" look, some kind of encouragement, they really need it.  No one wants to cart a screaming kid around, but if you don't, who will get Aunt Margie the perfect scarf?  Who?  Most stay at home moms cannot afford a sitter every time they need to go shopping.  So be aware, give encouragement and even maybe a little touch on the shoulder, with a little, "Hey, we have all had days like this, you will make it."  

Hosea 11:8 states, "My heart is changed within me; all my compassion is aroused."

Let's all get our compassion aroused in this season of love and gratitude.  It is the most wonderful time of the year after all.

God bless you and yours

Monday, November 24, 2008

Crying in Target

Seemed simple enough.  My one and only girl, Tatum, needs a dress because she one of the key kids in the Christmas pageant at church.  She will also wear the dress to the Daddy/Daughter dance.  Very exciting.  This was so  very easy before, find something pretty and poofy and velvety and she will love it.  Not this year, something had changed.  My little girl is ten and apparently that is the age when they won't wear poofy.  Or velvety or anything you or I might have in mind.  My daughter, my mother-in-law and myself go off to do a quick shopping trip yesterday.  Simple.....dress, tights, shoes, maybe some jewelry.  We head off to Target because quite frankly, they have a nice variety of Christmas dresses that will not break the bank.  I cannot pay $100.00 for a dress to be worn maybe three times, it would kill me and my checkbook.  

We hit Target, Sunday afternoon, busy, but not crazy.  Head over to the Christmas dress section.  I pull out a gorgeous dress......too poofy at the bottom.  "I don't want anything poofy," says Tatum.  That nixed out every dress on the rack.  We went all over that department, skirts, sweaters....we went to the junior department, nothing.  Back to the little girl department, she finds it, a plain brown sweater dress.  It becomes all she wants.  Brown.  Brown.  It is brown, not a sparkle on it, not another color on it.  She wants brown tights to match, brown shoes, all that stuff.  Brown.  The color of dirt.  As I try in vain to get her to look at something in at least a pink or blue, she starts to cry.  I tell her she can have it, we will get some tights with polka dots in bright colors and pull the pink out for accessories.  Brown tights, polka dots, brown and pink plaid shoes (Hanna Montana shoes) and a pink headband.  Cute little necklace with a pink star, some earrings to match.  Brown, I cannot fathom it.

That is not the funny part.  I call my mother for some sympathy.  She is in hysterics.  I guess I was the same way, had to have my own way when it came to fashion, but I started in first grade.  My mother made me a blue gingham dress complete with sun bonnet for Easter.   Think Little House on the Prairie.  No I am not joking.  Little House came out that year on television and everyone was obsessed.  Think Holly Hobbie dolls.  That is what she made me wear.  To get the complete picture, you have to imagine the home perm in my hair (Orphan Annie had nothing on my blonde curls).  I looked hideous.  Seriously.  But........I got my picture in the local paper next to my first grade Easter project, cotton ball bunny on paper plate.  So my mother will throw in my face for the rest of my life.

Since sharing my story, I have heard of every kind of kid insisting on wearing all kinds of things because they "had" to wear it or they would die.  Weird.  I guess my point is, let them wear what they want.  You have to pick your battles.  Crying in Target is not worth it.  If I bought the poofy dress, she would have cried when wearing it.  I would have loved it, she would have cried.  It really is about her being happy.  Besides, twenty years from now, she'll call me from Target, crying because her daughter wants a green dress, or purple or whatever.  And I will laugh and tell her about the brown dress.  Oh well, life goes on.  

God bless you and yours.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Talking Turkey

With Thanksgiving arriving next week, I feel I must talk turkey.  My children go into hysterics every year because I literally talk to the turkey that I am about to cook.  I feel you need to coax the bird to be good.  I know you are doubting my sanity, but seriously, Thanksgiving is a day I am cooking all day and I have to crack myself up.  I am on my feet all day.

I mean aren't we all getting ready for our individual dysfunctional family get together?  I don't think that any family today is not affected in some way by divorce or addiction or whatever.  I used to host our dysfunctional family brunch followed by a full on turkey dinner.  By the end of the day, I need a drink.  And I don't drink.  I used to get so worked up about everyone being happy but finally realized that God is in control and I am not.  

So many of us rush around to get to at least two family get-togethers.  Some of have to do more than two.  Rush, rush, rush.  Kids have to look nice and be good at everyone's house.  I cook dinner so I don't have to run everywhere.  I also tell everyone coming to my house that it is a casual holiday, pajamas and sweats.  I refuse to dress up my children to have them wreck their new clothes, let them wear sweats.  It's what we all want to be wearing anyways and the first thing we will change into when we get home from the frolicking.  I say start the day comfy and just keep going.

With a rebel yell, take back your turkey day!  Let it be what your family wants it to be.  You don't have to make turkey, make pizza, just enjoy each other.  Holidays are for family and for love, not chaos.  Take back your holidays and make them yours, not the neighbors, not your mom's, not your sister's, yours.  Own it.  And if you are making turkey, talk to it, it really does make it turn out yummy.  If the turkey starts talking back, put down your wine glass.

God bless you and yours.  

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Biters Biting

Okay, raise your hand if any of your kids are or were biters?  Be honest, there is usually one in every family.  This happens in the eighteen month to three year old range.  I have had a couple biters in my family.   They are sneaky about it.  Biters can also be quite shameless about it.

My first born started biting the new baby, not right away, but when Grant could crawl around and touch his stuff, the biting began.  At first, I did not know what was going on, just that the baby was crying and Tyler was running the other way.  Sneaky, sneaky.  My niece was a biter too, but she was beyond cute as a toddler.  The Sunday school teacher actually told my sister that they had a biter in class, but did not know who it was.  My sister, being an honest but embarrassed mom, told the teacher it was my niece.  The Sunday school teacher refused to believe it, "she is an angel in class."  Sneaky sneaky.

Have you ever been bitten by a little one?  They always manage to get the smallest piece of skin in the most sensitive spot.  My niece, the biter, took a small chunk off the top of my shoulder, I almost dropped her it hurt so bad.  Then I did what I believe stops biting and what all the books tell you never to do, I bit her back.  Then I told the precious, shocked looking angel that I would not bite her if she did not bite me.  She never bit me again.  Quit calling 911 and reporting me, I did not break the skin, but I did make my point.

I did the same thing when my little chomper started to bite and I caught him at it.  I bit him back.  I know every book out there says not to do it, but it works.  My kids always stopped biting by the second bite back.  Their actions have to have consequences or they will just keep on doing what they are doing.  

Some of you are thinking I am nuts, and that is okay, but I truly believe it is the only thing that works with biters.  I had a neighbor who had a biter that was biting all of our kids at play dates.  I told her the only way to stop it was to bite him back.  She was appalled, and put her child in time out.  He came out of time out to bite again.  And again.  And again.  Pretty soon, our kids did not want to play with the biter.

I understand that today most books are touchy feely and never hurt their feelings type books.  Sometimes, you have to go back to the good old days.  I am a recovering biter and the only thing that stopped me was my mom biting me back.  Action, consequence.  Pretty black and white to a three year old.  I do not advocate any type of abuse, a little swat on a diapered butt is not abuse, neither is a small bite on the arm to prove a point.  

Your little guy or girl, and the age of eighteen months understands every word coming out of your mouth.  They are way smarter than we give them credit for and will manipulate a situation to their advantage.  I have seen this with my own eyes, it is true.

I totally understand that not all will agree with me on this, and I appreciate you knowing your own mind, I truly do.  I am just being honest about something that worked in my world of biting.

God bless you and yours.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Toddlers Toddling

Where does that word come from anyways?  Toddlers....... sounds like weebles, and the both wobble before the fall down.  I would say toddlers are two to three year olds.  That is my guesstimation.  

Amazing what a child of this age can get into.  They get into stuff you did not know they knew about.  I came out of the shower one day to find one of my children (who shall remain nameless) making "eggies" on my carpet in front of the television.  A dozen eggs broken and ground into my carpet, stirring with a spoon of course.  All I did was try to get the stink off of me and I come out to this.  Shells everywhere, and he was so proud.  What can you do except, get dressed, get some spot-shot and clean up?  Seriously, where do they come up with this stuff?

I truly think it is just them trying out their little world.  Everything is new and wonderous to them.  What will they come up with next.  I used to lie in bed at night and tremble at the thought.  Kids really are amazing at this age, they also need to have boundaries.  Boundaries, which I have discussed before, help your child, they do not limit your child.  Rules are good.  Trust me on this, mother of four, rules rock.

Ask all of your friends today what was the weirdest thing their children did at this age, brace yourself, you will laugh so hard, you will cry.

God bless you and yours.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

My Coop-de-doop

So yesterday I shared that I have a son with Aspberger's Syndrome.  I hope that all of you did not think that I sounded too flippant about it.  We have had four years to accept and deal with this challenge in his life.

For those of you who do not know, Aspbergers is on the mild side of autism.  They sometimes call it the geek syndrome because of the lack of social graces these children have.  Cooper used to have a hard time looking you in the eye, cannot discern facial cues in conversations, things like that.  His world is black and white and the world we live in is full of shades of gray.  I used to have so many worries about my little guy.  

When Cooper was first diagnosed, I admit, I was ticked off at God.  Seriously, four kids, why can't they all be relatively normal?  Then I asked myself, "What is normal?"  Then I googled and researched anything and everything about it.  Knowledge is power after all.  Then I prayed.

I think praying about it, giving my little guy over to God is truly what made a difference.  In reading my bible I came across Psalm 139:14 "I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful."  Wow, that is my Cooper.  He may be different, but he is wonderfully so.  Cooper is a work of God and God's works are wonderful.

Okay, we face challenges with him, but he has so many gifts.  He has an incredible sense of humor.  He has "Cooperisms" that come out of his mouth that make perfect sense and tickle my sense of the ridiculous.  He is incredibly smart and will probably cure some horrible disease or invent some microchip we all cannot live without.  He looks at things differently, truly uniquely and that helps all of us look at the world through Cooper's eyes.  What a great view.

Not everything we face in our lives as mothers is filled with wonder, most of it is really hard.  But we need to try to find the wonder.

What is special and unique about each of your children?  What is the silliest thing they have ever done?  Laugh my friends, laugh.

God bless you and yours.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Let is Snow, let it snow, let it snow

It snowed yesterday in Michigan, big fat flakes that are meant to be caught on your tongue.  The children were thrilled.  Especially my little guy Cooper.  I don't think I have shared that one of my twins, Cooper, has Aspberger's Syndrome.  That is a form of autism.  He is amazing.  We have done so much with him with his diet and with supplements that he is really coming out of his shell.

So my school day starts with trying to get him to swallow a pill that nine times out of ten, he kind of barfs back up.  I give him a kiss for luck to get it down.  He also has to take calcium and a multivitamin because he will only eat about ten to fifteen things, none of which are veggies.  Then, my kids have to walk our dogs so they can do their business.  Before you yell, they have to pick it up and put it in the garbage.

Imagine what this means to Cooper, he smells things way more than other people.  He hates to walk the dogs, hates it.  We even give him the smallest dog so he only has to pick up the smallest amount of poo.  

This morning I give the call out to walk the dogs and wonderful words come out of Cooper's mouth.  "Walk the dogs!!  Whoopee!!!"  I must have given him a look, because then he said, "What?  I love snow."  He really does.  We used to live in Arizona for the first eight years of his life, so snow is a wonderful awesomeness to him.  He asked me if I saw all the beautiful, beautiful snow.  

I guess my point is to look at the small things in your life and find the blessing.  There is only a dusting of snow on the ground, and Cooper's world is complete.  I encourage you as you look around your world today to find a small blessing.

There is some small little overlooked thing that might just make your day, revolving around your world today.  Take a moment, sit still, and find it.  

What did you find?  I need to know.

God bless you and yours.

Friday, November 14, 2008


No, that is not a typo, that was the word we used to let the kids know that something was gross.  Gum under the table at a fast-food restaurant, "Uckamucks, no touch."  Obviously I am talking when your kids are small, I don't say this to my kids now, they are older, but it does cover a host of things.  Using simple words to let your toddler know what is right and what is wrong (or disgusting).  Think about it, "No", " Danger", "Hot", Uckamucks.  Simple words that get the point across.

Uckamucks covered all things disgusting and nasty.  All toddlers seem to want to pick up the dog poo in the back yard, "Uckamucks."  We all have our words, each family and section of the country.  We as mothers make up words that are original but make our point.  That is something that should be appreciated, we need to be honored for these words.  I mean, we aren't teaching our precious little ones to swear, we are teaching them alternatives that they understand.

Bill Cosby once said that parents sound like idiots because we are constantly censuring ourselves in front of our kids.  I had a potty mouth at one time, I tried very hard to stop.  I kept imagining my precious saying some like, "pass the damn potatoes" at the family Christmas table.  A good friend of mine gave me the replacement for the "sh" word.  I now say "Sugar."  I am not proud of having a potty mouth, but time away from my very strict mother and living in my own house without her "look" took it's toll.

I will make a bet that each one of you with a boy child has a different word for his little teedle.  You can't just say that word all the dang time.  It is a body part they are fascinated with as soon as they can reach it.  You know I am right.  If you only have girls, count your blessings.

Do you have an original word that is funny or useful to the rest of us?  Please share.

God bless you and yours.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The Toddler Years (Oh crap, they are moving)

So, your munchkins are moving around and you think it is great until you realize they can climb up most of your furniture.  They can also stick stuff into other stuff.  Like you car keys into an electrical socket.  They will find the one socket behind the couch that you did not think you needed to cover and stick your car keys into it.  Bent mine all to heck.  Just saw a little pop out of the corner of my eye.  Thank God for the new breakers that shut the electricity off when this happens.  I think they invented this just for my kids, so they don't die.  Tyler also had on rubber soled shoes, he just looked a little startled.

I of course, did not realize the electricity was off, screamed my head off, ran across the room and pushed Tyler away from the outlet.  This is not what you are supposed to do, according to all the touchy feely books out there.  You are not supposed to be sitting on the floor, rocking your child and by turns yell at him and hug him.  Only about 98% of us would do what I did.  

When your child starts to move around is a great time to set boundaries and limits and to start disciplining him/her.  I am at odds with the new age world of letting small children explore their environment unchecked.  Those are the little monsters who are running amok at the park.  Wouldn't want to impede their development with a little discipline.  Wrong.  Giving your child a set of limits will help them greatly in life.  You have limits, I have limits, kids need limits.  Our limits are called laws and having morals.  All adults have these.  Kids need them too.

I guess I always felt that a spank on a diapered butt would not hurt as much as a car hitting them because they ran into the street.  A swat on a hand reaching for the stove teaches the child that they should not reach for the hot stuff.  I do not believe in beating children, far from it.  But you cannot go to the extreme of never disciplining either.  No one wants to be the bad guy anymore, but you are not supposed to be your child's friend until they are forty.  Someone told me that if your teenager did not tell you that they hated you at least three times a day, you are not doing your job.

It is a big responsibility raising kids.  We all have bad days where our heads pop off and spin around like in the exorcist.  I am not proud of those moments.  Usually this happens as they start getting mouthy.  I guess I always go back to Proverbs 22:6 "Train a child up in the he should go and when he is old he will not turn from it"

What or who is your biggest challenge when it comes to setting down some rules in your house?

God bless and keep you and yours.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Finding your Clean Enough

I am not a good housekeeper.  I cannot claim that I ever have been, but I do try to do my best.  The key is my best.  Not your best, not my mother-in-law's best, not my best friends best, my best.  We all know that if we do not keep up on the day to day stuff in our house, it becomes overwhelming.  A good friend of mine, my "Georgia Peach", just wrote about this on her blog,  She called it Chemical Warfare.  I call it taking back the house.

I always said that when I get really sick, sick enough to be in bed for a day, I am ten days behind.  Think about it, if we as moms take one full day off, we are at least ten days behind.  That is because we have little elves in our house that go around messing it the heck up.  Okay, the elves are our children and husband, but you get my drift.

As I came downstairs today to read my bible, pray and blog, there is a blanket crumpled on the floor next to the couch.  I did not leave it there, one of my kids, after watching TV, left it there to go up to bed.  Now, I could leave it there all day to prove a point (it is just laying there, mocking me and my house) or I will probably get up after this, fold it and put it away where it belongs.

Which brings me to your "clean enough"  We all have a breaking point where we feel the need to do the deep cleaning.  Usually in the spring or before the holidays, so when we have people over, they don't get disgusted.  I am not talking about deep cleaning, I am talking about your day to day stuff.  I do have a list, it may help, it took me a while to make it right, but it is pretty good.  Make your own list, because different things bug different people.
  1. If you have a child or many children, you gotta do the laundry every day.  That commercial for the washing machine that hold six months of laundry detergent, with the big ball of clothes rolling at your house, that could happen.
  2. You have to feed your kids every day, and not pop tarts all the time.  Embrace your crock-pot, there are great recipes that even the kids will eat.
  3. In the morning, empty your dishwasher so you can load dishes in it all day.   That way they aren't all in the sink when your pastor just drops by for a cup of coffee.
  4. The big ticket stuff, bathrooms, vacuuming, all those things can usually be done on a weekly basis.  If you have little babies, crawling around on the floor, I would vacuum daily, because the cheerios can get ankle deep in one week.
  5. You have children, they need chores, assign them some.  They can dust and do the floors and shake out rugs and stuff.
  6. The really massive stuff, floorboards, ceiling fans, windows, that stuff can be done monthly and be kept up pretty well.
  7. Clear away clutter, a place for everything and everything in it's place.  At least on the level of your house where company can see.  
In saying all of this, I have fallen short and ended up with black rings in my toilet.  We all have those times.  Finding your "clean enough" is okay.  My marker is if I can take the house back in a day or less.  My house looked the best the summer the kids were fighting and I made a chore jar.  Every time they started to go at it, I stopped them, they picked a chore and then had to do it.  It was awesome.  

What is your awesome cleaning tip or way to get your house in shape?  I would love to hear it.

God bless you and yours.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Holidays (Or Horror Days)

My neighbor just told me that she is finished with all of her Christmas shopping.......and it is all wrapped.  Okay, so I hate her.  Seriously, totally dislike her.  Why would she tell me this?   I guess if I had accomplished this, I would probably keep it to myself to avoid the house being egged.  

Are any of you out there dreading the holidays?  When the kids were small, I was overwhelmed with it all.  We used to send out over 350 Christmas cards.  That is not a typo.  Talk about going crazy.  I always refer to my "Delusions of Grandeur."  We all have those moments.  I think we bring it on ourselves with phrases like; "Christmas cookies must be made from scratch."  I am going to make a list that will make your life easier.  Kind of a point/counter-point.  Let's start.

Point:  Christmas Cookies should only be made from scratch.
Counter Point:  Your kids really only want to decorate the cookies, so buy the tube and roll it out or buy them pre-made and just decorate.

Point:  I am going to make a gingerbread house from scratch and decorate it with home-made frosting.
Counter Point:  But the box or pre-assembled, again, all the kids want to do is decorate.  If the kids are really small, this should only take about ten full minutes of their time before they are bored.

Point:  I will hand write all my Christmas cards and send a family photo.
Counter Point:  I will buy the cards from Costco with the pictures already on them, get my Christmas letter copied at Kinkos and use the address labels from last year that I printed and never sent out.

Point:  My child must have the "must have" toy this year.
Counter Point:  The kids will probably play with the box longer than they play with the toy, OR the toy will take you four hours to set up, and the kids will knock it down to play with the three dollar plastic bowling set that you got as an afterthought.

Point:  We should all dress up for Christmas/Thanksgiving, we all need new outfits, we should have matching pajamas for the photos, etc. etc. etc.
Counter Point:  In less time than it takes for them to get dressed in their "good" outfits, they will stain, rip, destroy, or pop off a button.  I say pajamas or sweats all day.  Suggest this to your family, they will love to have a "casual" holiday.

Do you have a point/counter-point?  I feel I could go on forever about this.  The real answer to all of this is to simplify.  I have truly simplified my holidays.  We used to go out to four to ten holiday "have to be there" parties every December.  I spent at least $500.00 that month on babysitters.  We have frittered that down to one or two.  The kids are happier and so are we.  Simplify.  The holidays are about spending time with the people who matter.  So do it.  Choose to have a family cookie decorating night (simplify with the tube stuff, trust me).  Choose to donate what you would have spent on babysitters on the homeless or get one more angel off the tree at the mall.  Take your kids along with you and let them choose a child their own age.  This is a valuable lesson for them and for us.

As our family get together this year, we are wrapping presents for the needy at the Kiwanis Club my brother-in-law is a part of.  Then we are having potluck at my sister-in-law's house.  Simple and giving.  

In these present economic times, we should simplify not only for our sanity but to save money.  I am not trying to be preachy, I have gone into debt many a year for the "perfect" Christmas.  I have just learned that the kids can be just as happy with less gifts and more time.  It only took us seven or eight years to figure that one out.

God Bless you and yours.

Monday, November 10, 2008

The Same Thing Happens Every Night

I do have a little more advice for the mom's of newborns and any other children floating around the house.  Having a routine will calm your household.  When our babies were little, we did the same thing every night at the same time.  Work this around your timetable.  My husband used to get up every day at 5:00 am, so we started our night time ritual at 7:00 pm, but adjust yours accordingly.  The routine takes about an hour, maybe more if you have more than one, but one hour is a pretty good timeline.

We called it: Bath, Bottle, Bed.  In just that order.  First bath, then the bottle, then bed.  Simple, but wonderful.... after the first few nights.  The first few nights can be challenging.  Any new routine requires the patience to stick with it until you see results.  Once you and your baby get the hang of of night time routine, it is better for everyone.

And guess what?  You should put your happy baby down in the crib while they are still a little awake.  They learn to wiggle themselves to sleep.  I promise that you will not injure their little feelings by doing this.  Putting them in the crib while they are a little awake will not put them into therapy, trust me.  Letting a little baby wiggle around and learn to comfort themselves at bedtime is a great habit for them to master.  They will master it, trust me, I promise.

Don't get me wrong.  There is nothing better than having a little baby asleep on your chest.  That is a grace moment for moms.   I let my babies sleep on me during the day, it is a great and special bonding time for moms and babies.  I never did it at night though.  I felt it really interfered with the night time routine, so that was a daytime activity only.

Try a routine, make up your own, but babies love routine, it calms them down.  Be flexible for sick babies or teething babies, but for the most part, stick to your routine, you will both be happier for it.

Just one more sweet spot for moms to find comfort in.  God bless.

Friday, November 7, 2008

The Baby Box

I have given this as a present at many a baby shower.  Once I have explained it's use, at least three moms come up to me and say that they have done something similar.  It is my best and most useful invention ever!  It's actually pretty simple, but will make your life so much better.  It is called the Baby Box.  Make at least two, especially if you have a two-story home.  Have one on every level.  Keep it handy, if you spend a lot of time in the living room, keep it there.  Wherever you and the baby are, that is where it needs to be.  Here are the requirements for the standard baby box.

  1. One plastic shoe box, available at Wal-Mart or Target or where ever, usually they are about one to two dollars.
  2. Five to six diapers, replenish as necessary----and it will be necessary.
  3. One box of baby wipes.  Give up on the whole washcloth thing, it is gross and just creates more laundry.  You have enough laundry.
  4. A tube a Vaseline.  Not a box, but a squeeze tube.  You only need this if you have a circumcised boy and only for a couple of weeks.
  5. One small box of gauze squares....again, only if you have a circumcised boy.
  6. One small cup or shot glass full of Q-tips.  You really won't have much time to use the shot glass anyways.
  7. One bottle of rubbing alcohol.
  8. On clean onesie, replace when necessary.
  9. One small bottle of hand sanitizer.
All of these things, properly arranged should fit in the box.  Now you have everything you need, in a portable box to change your newborn.  Here are your step-by-step instructions on that whole scenario.  These instructions come kid tested and mother approved.  
  1. Open diaper, do not throw up.  Use top of diaper in a downward motion.  Use wipes as necessary to clean up the goo that will not get off your baby.  Check all crevices.  Once all wipes are used, use the tape from the diaper and form a leak proof little package of poo.
  2. Squeeze a dollop of Vaseline onto gauze pad.  Put gauze, Vaseline side down on the poor circumcised little teedle (that is our family name for it you can call it a wee-wee, tinkle, whatever).  Put a new diaper on.  Fasten it tightly.  Of course, if you have a girl, you don't need the gauze or vaseline.
  3. Take a Q-tip; dip it in the rubbing alcohol and wipe in a circular motion around the nasty stub of the umbilical cord.  Put icky Q-tip into dirty diaper, you should be able to tuck it in.
  4. Put clothes back on or new outfit if old one is wet or poopy.
  5. Put baby in a safe place and sanitize or wash your hands after you have thrown out the diaper and put the icky outfit into the laundry.
By the time you are done with all of this, your child will have had a major "explosion" and require you to do it all again.  So are the days of your life.  

I figured it out one time, I changed diapers for eight years straight.  Eight years.  You can become a doctor in eight years.  Me, I was up to my elbows in poo.  So were the days of my life.

Just one of my more helpful inventions, which I really didn't invent, but I will take credit for.  God bless, have a great day.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

A good friend's advice is priceless.

I am going to give you new moms some advice.  You won't listen until you have had your second baby, but I will tell you anyways.  Here it is.

Listen to your friends with kids.

They have been where you are at.  You will read countless books on motherhood.  You will talk to your pediatrician about motherhood.  (I think I sent mine to Spain one year, on questions alone).  But you will not listen to your friends.  "What to Expect the First Year" will become like your bible.  It is a great book, but it is not the end all be all.  With my first I referred to this book a lot, but they don't know everything, and if they did, it would not fit into one stinking book.  Let me give you a perfect example.

My first child was nine pounds ten ounces; basically, I had a three month old at birth.  He would nurse for forty-five minutes every two hours, 12:00, 2:00, 4:00, etc.  He was a big baby.  My OB/GYN still calls him Bubba.  I was preparing to go back to work and we started the breast-bottle-breast routine.  He ate two formula bottles in a row and looked at me like, "No thanks, those things attached to you are not as good as this thing."  

He wanted nothing to do with nursing.  Formula sits in their stomachs longer, so they stay full longer.  I am not telling you not to breastfeed.  I am just saying that there are other options if that is not working out.  Find your sweet spot in this, not perfect, just sweet.  The La Leche league wants you to nurse until they go to college and you don't want to quite that long, find the right time for you.  If you decide not to nurse at all, that is okay too.  Find your sweet spot.

I digress, obviously, this is  a sensitive subject.  Back to monster baby.  Tyler was a big baby and he was hungry, really hungry.  He would suck down an eight ounce bottle in just under eight minutes.  I am not exaggerating.  My father, God bless him, would say, "That boy is hungry, give him a banana."

Gasp----"Dad" says I, "The book clearly says no solid foods until he is four months old....allergies you know."  My dad would just roll his eyes and walk away.  Now I am not telling you to accept all advice.  I mean my mom told me if the baby was crying, to put a little bourbon in his bottle.  Just a teaspoon.  Works wonders.  She did not say this maliciously, my grandmother, her mother did this.  That generation also rubbed whiskey on the baby's gums if they were teething.  They did not have anbesol and all that stuff, so they used what they had and that generation did not die out.  Take the good advice though, it may save your sanity.

Once I introduced Tyler to solid food, he was sooo happy.  And he slept better.  A little baby cereal in their formula will help a newborn sleep through the night.  When our second child, Grant, was born, I started this at two weeks.  I used the oatmeal kind because the rice kind would clog my kids pipes up.  There, another little tidbit that I had to figure out by myself, oatmeal would keep them regular, rice would plug them up.  See, if I had listened to my friends with a two year old, I might have saved some crying (mine and his).

All I am saying is listen to your friends with kids, they are a great source of knowledge.  God has placed them in your life for a reason.  If you have a colicky baby and your friend had a colicky baby, that friend will have some insight.  None of my kids had colic, thanks be to God, but I had a friend with colicky twins.  Twins.  Yikes.  Here are some tricks that really do work.
  1. Put the baby in a secured car seat on a towel on top of a running dryer.
  2. Run the vacuum.  Your house will be spotless and the baby will sleep.
  3. Take a drive in the car. 
You can't drive to Canada every night, but you can actually buy this "thing" that attaches to the baby's crib and jiggles it like they are riding in a car.  You just flip it on and happy baby.  The device was pricey, $150.00 like twelve years ago, but can you really put a price on your sanity?  I say no.

You are much more inclined to take advice on your second baby.  You enjoy your second baby so much more because you are not so freaked out.  We gave Grant pizza crusts to gnaw on when he was six months old, he liked them.  I never would have done that with Tyler, I thought it would scar him for life.  Even if you totally screw up on your first baby, guess what?  They can't remember all the stuff you did wrong in the first year or the year after that, so lighten up.  Give yourself a little room. You are doing fine.  I promise.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Sleeping is Overrated

I used to joke around with people when they said they didn't get a good night's sleep.  I would say, "You don't need sleep, I haven't slept in twelve years."  It was true and I was a mess.  I don't think I got a good night's sleep until the twins were in first grade.  Uninterrupted sleep.  

Think about it, newborns get up at least three or four times a night, mostly more.  And don't we all have that friend whose child slept through the night at birth and never cried or pooped or anything.  Oh yeah, and their child was potty trained by six months, cleaned their room by age two and is currently in college at the age of twelve.  We all know that secretly, we wish colic on her next child.  Yes, that is mean, but we are sleep deprived when hearing all of this and more than a little crabby.

The funniest thing about your newborn's sleep habits is the first time they actually sleep through the night, you roll over, look at the clock, blink, then tear out of bed and run through the house screaming, "Is he breathing?" 

Well he is still breathing and now he is screaming and crying, because you woke him up!  

You Idiot!

Yes you, the person sitting here reading this and saying (with your nose ever so slightly in the air),  "Well, I never did that."  Yes you did.  Yes you did.  Shame the devil and tell the truth!  You did that, I did that, we have all done that.  As my dear husband would say, and does so frequently, "you girls are weird."  And we are, God made us that way.

To care and worry and love until our hearts are bursting.  We have all gotten up in the middle of the night to go and make sure our munchkins are still breathing.  

There is something so comforting to a mother's heart, to just see that little chest go up and down.  Up and down.  Up---a little sigh---then down.  Comfort in a sigh.  Oh the love in this little movement.  Sigh with me now.  Take a moment, sigh with me now.  Breathe in, slowly out. 

There is pure grace in that moment.  Seeing the little creature that you somehow brought into this world, breathing, sighing and so completely beautiful in that moment.

That is what motherhood is----Chaos interrupted with little moments of pure grace.  That is why we press on, why it is all worth it in the end.  At least most days.  It is a blessing, it is a curse, it is our lives and we love it and hate and endure it.  

But those small moments of pure grace, those are truly a gift from God.

God bless and keep you and yours.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Little Babies and Your Personal Hygiene

Okay gals, if you have a newborn at home, your personal hygiene is about to take a drastic turn for the worse.  You are already crazed and doubting every move you make.  Showers are about to become optional.  I mean, if you are in the shower, who will watch the baby?  What if he hiccups?  I solved this dilemma by dragging the swing into our bathroom and sticking it right in front of the shower.  I am sure I have scarred my children for life.

Even with that, I was only showering a couple of times a week.  I mean, I could shower, wash my hair, put on deodorant and  a clean outfit and still get puked on?  Why?  What's the point?  You start to wonder if it really matters.  Some days yes, some days no.

I will say this, you will feel better if you:
  1. Get off the couch.
  2. Take a shower.
  3. Shave your legs (the European look can only fly for so long)
  4. Put on some nice scented lotion (something that blends with spit up)
  5. Maybe a little make-up, but only if you will remember to wash it off later.
Even if you have to change your clothes in five minutes due to a timely explosion of some sort, you will start to feel human again.  You don't want to scare the neighbors if they come over the see the new baby.  You don't want to look like bigfoot in the shedding stages (I have seen this reflection in my mirror, not pretty).  

Take a little time for yourself, read your bible if you can, and feel a little more human.  It will definitely boost your morale.

God Bless you and keep you and yours.  


Little Babies

In Luke Chapter two, it mentions where Mary, Jesus' mother put things in her heart to remember.  In Luke 2:19, the shepherds had come to see baby Jesus and when they left it is said, "But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart."

Well, I don't know about you, but when my first little one arrived, I didn't have much time for pondering.  I was up to my eyeballs in diapers and umbilical cords and stuff.  Your first child is such a mystery and you are down to the bone scared.  You don't know what to do with this little creature and are pretty sure you will screw this project up.  

Is it normal to cry that much?  And why doesn't that nasty dried umbilical cord just fall the heck off?  And if you have a boy and you chose to have him circumcised, yikes.  The first time I opened up that diaper, I started crying.  It looked horrible and really, really sore.  Tyler is looking up at me with those wise eyes of a two day old as if to say, "Why?"

Have you ever looked into the eyes of  newborn?  They are very wise.  It's as if they just left God in heaven and wondering what this world has to offer.  Amazing.  

So you have your baby and half a day later, they send you home.  You are drowning and your mother wants to know what the problem is.  Just remember, until the 1950's, a new mother was wearing a nice bed jacket, recovering from her ordeal and had nurses taking care of her newborn.  They also got about two weeks in the hospital.  We do not have that luxury and I say we need it.  Or at the very least, a day at the spa for heaven's sake.  I digress.

You are at home with the little package and........Oh my Gosh, he is hiccupping, call the pediatrician, now.

Oh my gosh, why is he doing that?

Oh my gosh, he nurses for 45 minutes every two hours, 12:00, 2:00, 4:00, etc.
Speaking of that, what the heck happened to the chest area??  Chest of a lifetime, and the bloated tummy to go with it.

Oh my gosh, is it supposed to come out like that?  Why is it green?  (Poop, not breast milk)

Oh my gosh, look at that face, he looks mad.  (the baby, not your husband)

Oh my gosh, can I handle this?

Oh my gosh, oh my gosh, oh my gosh..........

Deep breaths honey, you are gonna make it.  I always tell my new mom friends, it takes about a month.  About a month so the baby is not looking at you like, "Who the heck are you?  Why all the light and stuff, and I liked swimming around in the dark?"  About a month where you are not looking at your baby as if to say, "Where in the world did you come from and why can't you just sleep for Pete's sake.  In about four weeks time you will get into a routine that works for the both of you. 

Baby happy, you tired as all get out, but mostly happy.

Keep going, you will make.  God bless.