Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Deanism #4

Dean earned real live turtles as a result of wearing Big Boy Underwear consistently for a month.  My friend dropped them off today and he is enthralled! I hesitate to leave his bedroom, for fear he will try to pick one up and drop it and she'll scamper and hide.

So I laid down the rules - don't take the turtles OUT of the tank without mommy or daddy to help you, no feeding them without a parent, etc.  Fairly basic and understandable for a preschooler.

I checked on him a few minutes ago and found him staring into the aquarium, of course, but the water was cloudy.  Closer inspection revealed a handful of Goldfish crackers floating in the tank.

"Dean, did you put those Goldfish in there?!?"
"Yes, the turtles were lonely. They needed fish in the ocean."

Well, I did say not to take anything OUT of the tank... I guess I need to add putting things IN to the list!

Deanism #3

"Oh, Bruce, you are such a handsome boy!"
"No, mommy. I'M handsome. Brucie is just cute."

Deanism #2

"Dean, Time to turn off the movie and take a nap."
"No Thank You."
"It wasn't a request. Naptime now."
"But I use my manners."
"I'm glad but TV goes off."
"Mommy, I just love you so much." (Big Hug)
Oops, now I forgot what I was doing... ‪#‎masternegotiator

New Series: Deanism (#1)

Now, all kids are funny.  All of them say cute and clever things.  Every parent thinks their kid is the best/cutest/funniest/smartest/sweetest in the whole world.  And you are probably right.  If so, I'd love to hear your stories because I find them to be a great source of entertainment.

My son really IS the most hilarious kid in the world. (Example: On July 4th we're shooting off backyard fireworks and Dean says "That one was awesome AND it really freaked me out. It was TWO things!") Since everyone needs to have a very funny toddler or preschooler to keep them amused, I am sharing mine with you!

Thus begins a new series of posts entitled "Deanisms."  This does not mean my daughters are not also pretty entertaining, BTW, but not 20 times a day like my 4 year old.  As Baby Bruce gets older, I'm sure I will have twice the entertainment!

Deanism #1:
"Dean, I JUST cleaned your room! Why is it a really big mess?"
"No, just a medium mess, Mommy."
Oh, well then by all means, nevermind. As you were.
He looks so sweet, how can he be the source of so much mischief?!

Monday, July 29, 2013

Breastfeeding and the Christian Mama - What Does the Bible Say About Breastfeeding?

Recently I clicked the Facebook "Like" button on some beautiful photos of mammas nursing their babies.  Sweet, tender moments shared in a breastfeeding support group.  They had some skin showing.  Someone called me on it and claimed I was immodest by supporting these photos, and being unbiblical (note these were not even photos of me - and actually the women were usually in privacy of their own home).  I choose to cover up at times, out of respect for others in the room, as there is no need to make them uncomfortable if I do not have to (covering up is based mostly on the audience in the room).  And some people, whether I agree with it or not, are uncomfortable.  So I try to respect that (um, yeah, I nurse pretty much anywhere so I'm fairly certain I have offended a few people along the way).
I am discreet, always wearing tanks that cover my belly and give easy access for my baby to eat.  My son hates being covered up so if needed, I will feed him without a cover while I am in public.  I am able to show very little skin when doing so, but I'm not bothered if skin is showing.  When I cover up, it is simply out of courtesy, not because breastfeeding is immodest.
While I ten thousand percent support breastfeeding, in public, anywhere, anyhow anyone wants, I wondered - is this a secular viewpoint? What is right for me as a Believer? I know I must hold myself to God's standards, not the world's.  So while it may be right for others, is breastfeeding in public (uncovered if needed) right for ME?  Although I was livid over this attack on my morals, I must always do the research for myself, to see if there is a grain of truth.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Simple Ways to Be a Better Parent

I've noticed how much time I spend learning how to be a better parent - books, blogs, the Bible, audiobooks, podcasts, articles on Pinterest, etc. but how little time I spend putting this into action.  A big thing is sleep - I am so darned tired All. The. Time. (Except from 9 pm to 2 am -- I'm sure I have some sort of sleep disorder).  I often struggle to get everyone up and going in the morning and succumb to my desire to take a little nap with Bruce when he conks out in the afternoon. 

This week I made the effort to put these things I am learning into action:

-Get up before the kids (well, except the baby - he wakes me up). 

-Start the day with a prayer and time with the Lord.  Ask Him for wisdom and patience today. Each and every day.

-Get dinner in the crockpot - to eliminate stress at dinnertime (dreaded witching hour).

-No yelling* or nagging as the kids get up and get ready. I simply refer them to their job boards (we have these awesome peg boards from Accountable Kids - they really work, tangible and visual reminders) and stay calm.

-Get everyone up early when we need to be somewhere to avoid being in a rush - which leads to stress and yelling and frustration for everyone.

-Prep the night before - if we have a picnic, pack lunches before bed since no one in this house is a morning person (save for the baby).

-Games and stories.  I say "tomorrow" or "later" when the girls ask to play a game with me or Dean wants a story read to him.  Not anymore.  Whenever feasible/possible I will say yes.  Better yet, I have been pulling out a game and suggesting we play.

-Compliment them for no reason.  I'm proud of them and they should know that.  If Taylor did a good job feeding Bruce, I make effort to TELL her.  If Julia was kind to her brother and let him play on the computer with her, I point it out.  When Dean picks up a toy I encourage remind him this is good behavior.  Regardless of whether I am a good mom or not, they really are good kids - despite my mistakes.  They should be told that!

-Again, no yelling*. It takes a lot of effort and awareness.  Aware of what I am saying to my children and in what voice.  I often have to stop and pray some more.

-Hug them.  Dean is easy - THE most cuddly child ever.  "Mom, I just want to kiss you." he says.  Or "I just love you so much, hug me." He's 4, it's easy.  Remembering your 12 year old needs hugs too? Harder.  It doesn't come as naturally to snuggle the big kids.  But my 9 year old's love language is physical touch and closeness, she needs those hugs.

-Do it myself.  I am surprised at how much I rely on the girls to be helpers. It is SO GREAT to teach them to be responsible, independent, and to know how to care for the household.  They have had a large burden on their shoulders each time I've been pregnant and on bedrest.  I get into the habit of relying on their help.  So this week, I am trying to let them be kids.  There is a balance between chores and responsibility and child labor! :)

-We've done a great job of ending our days with our devotion/Bible reading and prayer and thankful but we've done it too late at night.  I have been working on getting them to bed on time, even when it is not convenient.

So as we pack for vacation (we leave for North Dakota tomorrow) I think - wow, I am blessed.  Is this really my life?  I spend my time playing with children, experimenting with cooking, browsing Pinterest and Facebook while breastfeeding, using my brain not in a stressful job but in volunteer activities I am passionate about, and home educating my children, learning right alongside them.  My biggest chores are clipping coupons, mopping, and folding laundry.  There is little drama. 

My worries are money (which scripture tells us not to worry about - He will provide, and always has) and health issues in the family - but we are not homeless or battling cancer.  My husband is truly amazing - God really gave me a good one! I hold my baby close and am just in awe of the undeserved blessings in my life.  And while I miss my children in Heaven, I can have the assurance I will join them there one day.  This is not the life I deserve, but it is the one I am blessed to have.

*It's a year and a half later (3/3/15) and as I read this I feel burdened by my shortfalls and convicted to continue to try to be the best version of myself possible - to be the mother my children deserve. I don't wear a superhero cape but I must parent with the understanding that, to my children, I am a hero. Everything I do and say will become their inner voice.

*The yelling - I come from a long line of yellers. It is what I know and what comes naturally. I've targeted the physical and emotional feelings that happen prior to yelling. My heart beats fast, I feel this adrenaline and warmth rushing though my body.

My game plan in this moment is to stop. I repeat the word "aware" in my head until I am calm. If that is not enough I say "I'll be right back." I take 5 minutes and return. I may need to put a piece of gum or candy in my mouth to give it something else to focus on. lol. And most of all, I take a few seconds to pray for wisdom and restraint.

God is still working on me and in me but I will say it's working. I've made yelling a 30-year habit and am blown away at the supernatural strength God has given me to break it. The kids will attest to my noticable decrease in shouting! And, wow, how greatly that has impacted our home is amazing.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Uncommon Kindness

Grocery shopping is a stressful event for me.  I enjoy planning what I will buy, sorting the coupons, and putting everything away after - organizing it, using it in the meals I planned.  I hate doing the shopping.  Today I had several stores to visit (Costco, Target, Rainbow, Post Office), all while wearing baby Bruce in my Ergo carrier.  It's a lot of lifting, bagging, packing, putting in and out of the car, calming unhappy baby, getting hot and sweaty, etc.

But whatever happened to common kindness?! Even doing a task I don't enjoy - and being mildly stressed by baby, bagging, and being in a rush - I find no reason to ever be rude.  The lady behind me in checkout was also in several of the same aisles as me.  She seemed in no hurry as she slowly browsed and examined labels.  She parks her cart in the middle of the aisle and I wait a couple minutes for her to notice me and move before I turn around and exit the other way, skipping the rest of the aisle.

Yes, I am so conflict avoidant I cannot even manage an "excuse me."  When she is in the checkout lane behind me and the cashier runs into an issue with my WIC items, suddenly she notices me.  Suddenly she is in a hurry I guess.  All the sighs and impatient noises she utters cannot change the situation or make things go faster.  And why is she so annoyed by my baby? "That would go much faster if you weren't holding him." she retorts of Bruce and my bagging process.

This doesn't sound like much but I have encountered so many cranky, rude people lately.  They seem intent on making others as miserable as they are.

What happened smiles? Last week when I was at the store I helped an elderly woman bag her groceries, despite having Bruce in a carrier on my chest.  I picked up (again, with baby on board AND a horrid tummy ache) all the pop cases a man in a motorized cart knocked over and was struggling to pick up. I smile at strangers and tell them how cute their kids are.

One time my daughter was in the throws of a meltdown in the frozen food aisle and a woman stopped to grab yogurt.  She smiled at me and said "You're doing a good job."  It made my day, my week, my month! It certainly got me through that grocery trip and that meltdown.

So my challenge to you is to spread kindness, which has become oh-so-uncommon these days.  Bless someone, make their day just a little better.  Or, at the very least, don't make it worse. :)

Monday, July 22, 2013

So What Would YOU Do? Feeling Outraged!

I have that sinking feeling right now - where you have mounting bills and not enough money to pay them.  One thing adding to that stress? The "Dog Bite Fiasco" I call it.

A few weeks back my girls enjoyed a fabulous week of camp at the Minnesota Zoo.  On the last day, during the supervised lunch break, Julia got a dog bite.  Yes. A DOG BITE AT ZOO CAMP.  After her dad picked her up and I was reading with her in the evening, I noticed a deep cut by her eye (her hair had been covering it and it took me a couple hours to notice).  When I asked what happened she told me a dog bit her at camp.

I made her repeat it a few times, I didn't quite believe her! She said it was a large black dog one of the campers had and she bent to pet him and attacked her face - a deep gash by her eye and teeth marks on her nose and lip.  She asked the teacher for a bandaid and they gave her one - without asking what happened! This was a teenage boy that is supposed to supervise lunch, not the camp instructor.

I called the doctor Saturday and was told a dog bite is a big deal and I need to bring her into urgent care.  Her grandparents were up from Mexico and since she had camp the day before, this was her only chance to visit with them - she missed out since we were in UC all day.  The doctor MADE me file a police report. Since we were unable to track down info on the dog that morning (I called the zoo but it would need more research) she was forced to get a rabies vaccine.

This is not a "little deal." The first time was shots in BOTH arms and thighs AND into the cuts on her face.  2 nurses and myself held her down while a doctor stuck a huge needle in her face.  She screamed and writhed and blood oozed out of her face.  It was heartbreaking.  We had to return for 3 more shots over the next 2 weeks.  Yes, her 12th birthday was marked by a trip to urgent care for another shot.  And the vaccine is not common enough to have at the clinic by our house, we had to drive 20 minutes south each time.

Also, her eye would have needed stiches but it was too late, the leaders at camp did not take immediate action and we lost our window.
 This is Sunday, 2 days later, swelling has gone down, looking much better!

After several phone calls, a gal from the zoo did manage to locate the dog owner.  I spoke to the police officer handling the case and opted not to press charges or have the dog put down.  I did find out that it was a grandpa picking up a camper.  He brought an unleashed, unlicensed, unvaccinated ROTWEILER onto zoo property and into the pickup area.  So she would've need the shots anyway. The guy is in his 80s and I am supposed to pursue him myself for payment of my medical bills? NO!

I have now been working to pay for the medical bills.  My insurance will not bill the zoo directly, I am to have the zoo's liability insurance and the zoo can choose to pursue the dog owner if they want. When I talk to the zoo they tell me to pursue the dog owner myself and there is nothing they can do.  They are not apologetic it happened WHILE IN THEIR PAID SUPERVISION, they deny fault and blow me off.  I am livid.

Not to be blown off I called again and asked for their General Council (attorney) or Director or anyone in charge.  They took a message.  GRRR!  This morning I spoke to Risk Assessment with the State of Minnesota.  The Zoo is state agency and I basically it's "a fishy area" and I can fill out claims but likely they will not pay.  HUH?!?!

What. The. BLEEP BLEEP BLEEP?!?!?! Seriously!? I PAID you to watch my child, I informed you of her special needs.  This was a HUGE deal for us and the shots are NOT CHEAP.  I AM SO LIVID right now!!

What do I do next? I am being told by the zoo you can't sue the state, it is not possible to pursue any action against them.  But what about the next camper in their care that chokes on gum or something? Clearly, their definition of "supervision" is pretty lacking...

Although I realize the actual dog owner is most at fault, I am frustrated that the zoo has not apologized or done anything.  I know they need to deny fault to protect themselves, but I feel so helpless and invalidated right now. :(

Friday, July 19, 2013

Chicken Pasta Salad

Another party, picnic, and potluck staple of mine - this chicken pasta salad (omit chicken for a meat-free option).  Suddenly Salad is awesome, but not very creative, same ol, same ol.  Using Suddenly Salad as a base and doctoring it up? Easy and fun - plus it's something new!

I would venture a guess I am not the first to think of this by any means, and there are tons of ways I've doctored up their salads, but this is my fave.  I stock up when they go on sale for $1 at my grocery store (and use coupons) in the summer and use it all year long.

Both Classic and Caesar work as a base for this salad, I use Caesar - I like it a bit more.

2 boxes SS - Caesar
1/2 bottle (more if desired) Raspberry Vinaigrette Dressing
1 can chicken (the canned chicken just tastes better in this than freshly cooked)
1 cup croutons, crushed
1 cup shredded parmesan cheese (not grated)
1 cup each green and red grapes, washed, sliced in half

Boil noodles.  Stir together chicken (drained), croutons, cheese, grapes, and noodles.  In separate bowl mix the seasoning packets from the Suddenly Salad mix with the raspberry dressing.  If prepping this the night before, wait to add the sauce until just before serving, as it is freshest and most flavorful this way.  Stir into salad. Serve cold.

Peach-Apple Fruit Salsa

I created this concoction a few years back for a potluck.  I had nothing in mind to bring and very little on-hand.  Tons of apples on the counter, but they'll turn brown, right?  Tortilla chips in the cupboard but the jar of salsa was almost gone...
Enter: my Peach-Apple Fruit Salsa:
This batch was 3 green apples, 1 red apple, 1 peach, lime juice, and cilantro.  I've used half a mango, nectarine, and pineapple juice before as well.
Wash, core, and cut apples.  Remove peel from most of the slices, but leave a few on for added color!
Dice (I used the Pampered Chef chopper).
Wash and cut peach, no need to peel unless desired.  Dice.
Chop cilantro (small pieces) and add to mix.
Stir in lime juice to coat - I usually use 2 limes but basically don't have too much or it is soupy and too sour.  I have used bottled lime juice as well (when I had no fresh limes).
I dip tortilla chips in it and have put it on my tacos.  Since I am dairy-free this is a great snack and topping.  And for my gluten-free friends I have made this - a filling, tasty snack!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

My 8 Favorite Teething Solutions

My babies all started teething at 3 months, with teeth popping through at 4.  Bruce is 5 months and the first one finally emerged, but he has been working on it for 2 months!  After 4 kids I have found some sanity savers - I wish I had figured these all out with the first kiddo!

1.) Breastmilk popsicle - found Nuk and Munchkin brand baby popsicle trays on Amazon.  I used pumped breastmilk and baby food puree to fill.  Bruce loves these, but be warned they make a sticky mess!! I used those mesh teethers with frozen food in them for the other kids and this is way more satisfying on their gums and slightly less messy, and much easier to wash.

2.) Fold a clean baby washcloth into a square, wet on corner and freeze.  Baby loves to chew on frozen section until it thaws.

Adventures in Baby Food - Simple Homemade Baby Food

Forgive the poor quality of my photos! This post includes baby food in the beginning and homemade sauce pouches for older kids at the end. I was so excited for my Amazon order to arrive today!  I got this awesome Infantino Baby Squeeze Station and some extra pouches:

$22 for the squeeze station, comes with 10 pouches, (a one-time purchase) and $16 for 50 additional pouches (not reusable).  Those baby food pouches in the store sell for $1 to $3 each! So this is a great way to go - make my own food!! Great to have for baby to feed self when old enough, great for travel - since it is spill proof. Just pour into bowl and spoon up or drink from pouch! The older kids use them too.

I love knowing what ingredients are going into my kids foods.  I can buy organic when I can, wash in a vinegar bath, cook, puree to my desired thickness based on what baby is eating now, and add pumped breastmilk to thin it and add nutrients!

I cooked up a ton of fruits and veggies.

-Nectarines and Peaches: Boil and cool, makes peeling the skin off easier and cooks the fruit.

-Blueberries: wash, cook in microwave in a steamer (I use a Pampered Chef veggie steamer for smaller portions and a Tupperware rice cooker for larger items)

-Butternut Squash: Slice in half, remove seeds. Cook with water in microwave 10 minutes per half. Obviously can be baked in oven as well. Cut off the peel before blending.

-Acorn Squash: same

-Apples: peel, core, slice, microwave 8 minutes, let sit another 4 minutes

-Carrots: I used baby carrots, microwaved for 15 minutes

-Pears: wash, peel, remove core, cook 6 mns 2-3 at a time, sliced

-Peas: I used frozen peas in steamable microwave bag

-Banana: pushed half of ripe banana through food mill, stirred in some breastmilk to thin

For each item I used a regular blender and the water it was cooked in or juice it produced when cooked and some breastmilk to thin for younger baby. I like to make cubes in ice cube trays because I can later mix foods this way - by defrosting one carrot and one apple and stirring together in a bowl, for example.  I blended some very thin but left some chunkier to use later when he is eating thicker foods. (He did not react well to rice cereal so I don't want to use that as a thickener, but you can do this.)

Squash before adding milk - with the bottle of freshly pumped mama milk next to it, waiting to be dumped in. Water works as well.

Perfectly thinned apples (about 2 oz of milk for an apple and a half) for my 5 1/2 month old.

Now, there are a ton of ways to store and serve these purees.  Since food keeps fresh in fridge for only 2 days, I need to freeze most of it.  I put some in the Infantino baby food pouches, some in a baby popsicle mold (Nuk and Munchkin, ordered on Amazon), and the rest in ice cube trays.  I can defrost a few cubes per day and they last for 4 months.

These are Nuk Brand's version of baby pops - smaller molds, easy hold bottom.  I filled this tray of 4 with breastmilk.  Breastmilk popsicles for my teething baby!! I also filled the 6-mold Munchkin brand tray with different baby food purees.  These are also great for teething baby on a hot day!

I labeled empty Infantino pouches with the date and type of puree - and I added Bruce's name b/c I also made food for the whole family.

You can attach 3 pouches at a time but it's messy anyway, so I just did it one by one and rinsed them clean.
 Push down to fill pouches.

Blueberries go well with other foods, so I chose to freeze these as cubes, to be thawed later and mixed with other items.

Cover tray with foil to avoid freezer burn! I also have the Fresh Baby trays with nice lids on them. I bought ice cube trays that had one ounce molds to make it easy to know how much I am serving.

When foods are done freezing the next day you can label a freezer bag and dump the cubes in it.  My kids always ate about 2 cubes per meal, can be same item or, later, after allergy testing, one each of 2 different kinds.

Here's a bin full of the baby food pouches to freeze.  They freeze flat/thin so take up minimal space.

Tips for serving: Remove from freezer the night before, as they need several hours in fridge to defrost. A little warm water is fine but microwaving is not allowed on the pouches and not recommended for the cubes, unless you do NOT have breastmilk or formula in them.

So now I've got all these fresh strawberries and kiwis (didn't make for baby as they are more likely to cause allergic reaction, holding off on them for now), tons of leftover apples and peaches,etc. Brilliant idea!! Those awesome Dole Fruit Squishers or Go-Go-Squeeze applesauce in a pouch? My kids LOVE them and they are great for picnic lunches and meals on the go.  But they are flippin expensive! Why not make a bunch of these for my older kiddos?

I used the same concept, but the puree is much thicker.  I made applesauce as a base and then to one batch added strawberries and to another added peaches.  I labeled and tossed in freezer.  Just defrost night before like baby food (I can pull it out with their Uncrustables sandwiches!).  The kids LOVED the sauce I made and loved this idea!! Pardon the mess in the photos, the kitchen was a craze at this point.

I still had bananas, peaches, kiwi, and frozen mango leftover.  After making a couple smoothies (using apple juice to thin) I poured the rest in popsicle molds.  Dessert for kids that is simply the sugar naturally in the fruit.  Score!

Note, I didn't add breastmilk to the big kid stuff!  I can just picture them gagging at the thought right now! LOL!

So I went a little crazy and have made way too many cubes of food, since my little man has food allergies (for example I cannot feed him anything I added pears or carrots to) and doesn't enjoy being spoon fed.  I've been tossing the ice cube purees into TONS of other meals:

Spaghetti sauce and homemade Spaghetti-O's
They work great to add to smoothies (fruit tastes great and a good way to add a small amount of veggies to the smoothies)
Crock pot meals (like tator tot hot dish)

Where is my son?! Epic Fail

I have always described my 4 year old as delightful, entertaining, a total blessing.  He still is those things, but something else - challenging - is that the right word?! I think most parents, the good ones at least, question themselves on occasion.  I often wonder if I am doing a good job - am I the best parent for these precious children?! I love and raise them the best I know how.  I always try to do better, best I can. Looking for ways to improve, on my knees pleading with the Lord for parental wisdom.

Today I feel conflicted.  Am I epically failing as a momma? Or is there more nature involved in children's behaviors and personalities than I thought? Does all the blame fall on me? Less blame than I am giving myself credit for? Or is it normal?

I spent several days preparing Dean for his dentist appointment.  They have never gone well, he's never had a successful cleaning or complete exam.  But he knew what to expect, nothing new.  Due to his sensory issues teeth-brushing is a hellish ordeal daily.  I reward him for brushing, he refuses to let me help, I sneak in and brush them with water when he sleeps...

We get to the chair and he screams.  They have a special room for us.  The children's dental clinic is a bunch of chairs in one big room, and then one private room, reserved for the most challenging of patients.  My son. He doesn't want to hear the dental assistants spiel about the brush and chair and straw that sucks water. Doesn't care, seen it before.  She touches his mouth; the demon is released.  I had to put the baby down on the floor and hold Dean's arms and legs down.  He bit her, screamed, rolled his head, shook his whole body.

In the end I need to schedule his oral surgery at the children's hospital.  At least 4 cavities (couldn't get a great look), x-rays, cleaning, etc.  Was it my lack of follow through on his oral/dental care? I feel like such a failure.  A broke one who has no money to pay for this.  Before you offer a virtual hug and say "these things happen" I should admit BOTH my daughters also had oral surgery at age 4.  They were born with no enamel on their teeth and try as I might, I could not prevent the cavities.  I suck.

Dean challenges me.  Seriously.  I shelled out the money for Tball, he has LOVED playing in the yard with papa, even using his sister's pink bat (refused a new one) and helmet.  He was looking forward to the start of tball today for a couple months.  I know he never napped, but he's 4, I can't force it.  He had 2 hours of quiet time in his room.
 Running around the edge of field while others actually play.
Cooperating - before very many other kids have arrived.
 Crying on the bench when he should be batting.  Without his shoes. LOL - that's my son!

Showing off his awesome new Thirty-one cinch sac with a baseball that says "Dean James."

Dan says it was awful.  Despite knowing a couple of the kids, he refused to participate.  Threw sand, cried on the bench while other kids played, picked up the tee and ball in middle of game and tosses across the field.  Hard to explain, but it was BAD.  Now, I understand not every kid plays well, and that Dean has sensory issues with crowds and noises, but Dan and I are bummed.

This is my THIRD child to have these issues in group sports.  My kids never really had friends, and have even been bullied.  I just don't want to go through this again - to see another child refuse to socialize, be a loner, be friendless. Not invited to birthday parties or playdates.  It is so sad. Yesterday Dean had a playdate at the park with a friend from preschool.  They have been in special ed together since they were 2.  It took awhile to warm up, but they played nicely.  Not side by side, but together, interacting.  I was so encouraged.  Then today happens.

It would be different if ONE SINGLE OTHER child acted similar.  But they don't.  That is why I cry. I am a failure and I don't even know where I am going wrong or how to fix it!  What happened to my sweet boy? Where did he go?! Dean still cuddles with me all day, gives kisses, and says he loves me.  But there's a glint of evil in his eyes as he challenges me daily - he's brilliant,and he knows it!!

Friday, July 12, 2013

The High Price of Coupons - and other Rantings.

I love my children. But sometimes I am discouraged as a mom that I have just dropped the ball so low I'll never get it back. 

This is my sweet, loving, energetic, and delightfully entertaining 4 year old, Dean. He's super spoiled and rules the house.  First, my defense: I miscarried 6 times before I got pregnant with him.  I was on bedrest for FIVE months due to a subchorionic hemmorage (a hole in the placenta).  Each day I was terrified he would die if the hole got too big.  I had really grown to love parenting and was finally ready to have children (teen mom).  It was the first time I was congratulated for being pregnant. I had baby showers. People asked how I was feeling and brought meals and gifts.  THIS is what it felt like for normal people to have babies - and I got to experience it!

He arrived, alive.  So precious to all of us.  I also became a stay at home mom and breastfed for the first time.  Such a sweet bond.  We co-slept. We cuddled. I carried him in a wrap all the time.  By the time I had transitioned him to a crib at 10 months I was pregnant again.  A month later, February 4th, after over a week of spotting, insane pain, and daily doctor visits, we found this child was ectopic.  I woke from surgery to find I had lost the baby and my right tube.

I brought Dean back to my bed, I spoiled him. We all catered to him.  He had 3 mommies (awesome big sisters).  The next pregnancy lasted longer (17 weeks).  I went to the infusion center at the hospital EVERY DAY for IV fluids due to severe morning sickness (hyperemesis).  I couldn't care for him very well.  Potty training stopped; I wasn't able to get up and follow through.  Consistency went out the window and I did not discipline well.  He got whatever he wanted.

After the baby died, I was in a deep depression; I brought Dean back into my bed and spoiled him like crazy.  Then I was better and worked hard to re-train, reverse the bad behaviors he was displaying.  Then, when he was 3, I got pregnant again.  Sick. So flippin sick. More IVs, more doctor visits, more bedrest.  Forget consistency in potty training. Forget forcing him to clean up his toys.  This was survival mode.

For the 5 months since Bruce was born I have worked soooo hard to be consistent, patient, and follow through.  Dean does not sleep with me.  He wears underwear with minimal accidents. He writes and says the alphabet.  But the damage was done.  It is almost as if I mated with satan and he is our demon spawn.  Because he is NAUGHTY.

First stop: Costco.  I'm making meals for a couple friends who had babies and another friend who is sick, and a lady who is going through chemo.  I need groceries today!!

Dean runs across the store, proceeds to throw a 5 lb box of strawberries on the floor and stomp on them.  I'm holding him, kicking and screaming, with Bruce also on me in the Moby wrap.  I buckle him in, pick up the berries, and place a call to daddy to come get him.  I don't care if he's tired, it's NOT okay to act the way he does.  HOW did it get so bad?! HOW do I "fix" it??!

Next stop: Super Target.  Just me, Baby Brucie, and Taylor (she's having a "good" day and Julia is home with Dean).  Look how cooperative Bruce is being!! :) BEST shopping accessory ever!

I was initially proud of my great deals.  Like - 2 Juicy Juice 8 packs on sale 2 for $4. I had a manufacturer coupon for $1, a store coupon for $1 and Cartwheel savings for 10%.  I spent just $1.60 on both - minus another 5% with my Target RedCard.  There were tons of deals like this - Pull Ups with store, manufacturer, AND Cartwheel savings PLUS on sale AND a $10 giftcard when you buy 2!! This helps, since the $280 (precoupon) transaction was mostly (not all) for meals for others. (Plus a $260 Costco trip).

Cartwheel total savings: $8.45.  Time to checkout: 63 minutes. I had to ring up the transaction THREE, yes THREE times! The store had installed new computers the night before and we found out my Cartwheel coupon is what froze up the register (twice).  So for eight bucks I got to checkout 3 times whilst holding a hungry baby.  I still stand proudly behind my coupon usage! (I've seen the Extreme Couponing show and I am NOT extreme.  No shelf clearing, no multiple transactions. Curteous to cashier and other customers.)

Then I get to the car with my sky high cartfull of groceries, 3 Icees (can't get it for Taylor and not the other kids.  Yes, I made Dean earn his later), a baby in my arms, and a gianormous diaper bag. I see this:

Can't get baby, Taylor, or groceries into my van.  Ended up having to back out first.
Meanwhile this much room on the other side.  YES JACKHOLE, it DOES matter when you park poorly.  Take 3 seconds to see how well, or poorly, you've parked. Don't be a selfish monkey!

K, venting done. :)

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

In defense of attachment parenting.

If I didn't co-sleep I would miss out on moments like this! My 4 yr old often crawls in my bed when his daddy is at work (he works 3rd shift), and baby sleeps in my arms in bed. In the morning papa crawled in bed and took the baby on his chest so I could eat breakfast. I returned to find baby cuddled up to his brother (still laying on daddy's chest). They had snuggled up together!
This is Bruce asleep on my shoulder while I read stories to Dean.  I realized long ago very few people support bed sharing.  There is so much we can do as parents that are in conflict with what others think.  Who knew parenting was so controversial!? In mommy-baby class today I found a few other mamas sleep with their babies (they say it's the only way to get any sleep, I would agree with that) and who were not a fan of Cry It Out!  How encouraging to me! I am not alone!
So here are my judgment-inducing confessions:
I wear my baby in a carrier and use the stroller or grocery cart to hold my heavy diaper bag (or contain my 4 year old).  I exclusively breastfeed. In public. Without a cover! I don't spank; it's not effective. Time outs, time ins, work well but I found out that even THAT is controversial!
I cosleep (safely - see article below). I hold my baby all the time. ALL the time. He can roll, sit, and play by himself but mostly is held and snuggled - by me or daddy or his sisters.  I shower with the baby.  Yes, my house IS a mess. No, not much else gets done. And yes, I'm super busy and have 3 other children and it is totally impractical. But I will never get this time back.
I do vaccinate SOME of the immunizations, but I had to do my own extensive research and come to a conclusion that was best for our family.  I was not bullied into it. Or OUT of it (I know those people too).  We also refuse certain vax as well - due to our individual experiences.  Everything Dan and I do as parents is the result of prayer, experience, and the hope that this is the very best way we can raise them. 
IMG_1656We're doing the best we know how - but it is our job to continue to learn! (Okay, in my humanity I make mistakes ALL the time and forget to pray - or I pray but refuse to listen.) 
My parenting style and choices continue to evolve and change as I learn and grow.  After the heartwrenching loss of a baby I could never parent the same way.  I can't sit outside a bedroom door listening to a baby cry for me.  If a child does not have object permanence until 2 years how can CIO possibly be the best thing for baby? Eventually Baby will be Toddler and the Big Boy - and yes, he will have his own bedroom and I'n gonna soak up the bedtime snuggles while I can.
I can't miss a moment! I volunteer a lot, but outside of that, I don't have much "friend time."  Unless baby is coming with.  It's not that I don't treasure and enjoy my friends, but nothing matters more than my family (outside of my relationship with God).  So I am a homebody, yes. Not on purpose, but still blissfully happy in the moment (most of the time).
I don't know my clothing size only as "yoga pants" and "something with a maternity band still."  I forget to eat the whole day then binge on sour gummi worms while hiding in bed. 
Before you assume I believe my way is the ONLY way know I TOTALLY understand other perspectives. I'm not a fan of Mommy Wars.  
I've been a working parent AND a stay at home mom. A college student myself and later the teacher (homeschooling parent).  I've bottle fed, breast fed, pumped, used formula and breastmilk; every child was different (Bruce hates bottles and will only drink from the tap). I've been the PTA mom/board treasurer/Scouts Leader AND the mom who was just not able to volunteer at all!

I've made my own baby food, hunted for organic, sugar free, dye free, allergen friendly food and I've been through the Drive Through and popped in a frozen pizza far too often.
I've been the crazy-stressed-frazzled-overwhelmed mom crying in the cereal aisle at Target while wearing frumpy PJs and a greasy ponytail. I've been the mom fortunate enough to hit the stores sans kids. I've yelled far too much, been far too uptight AND I've been fun, easygoing, and upbeat. Get-it-all-done-super-productive mom and take-a-nap-and-veg mom.
Here's an awesome article on babywearing (as opposed to strollers, carseats, cribs, etc.):
Safe co-sleeping articles (b/c you ARE going to fall asleep with baby, may as well plan on it and be safe):
So now you know.


Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Super Proud Mama

My 5 month old is sitting himself (very briefly) now! I realize this is not interesting to anyone but me, but I'm too excited not to share! Oh, and his sister is also pretty thrilled, and has been working with him to help him build his muscle strength to sit up. So she's awful proud now too!