No Self-Appointed Pedestals

The other day my husband and I were taking our daughter for a quick trip to the grocery store, and as we were pulling out of our neighborhood we passed a little girl whizzing by on her scooter as her mother tried to keep up behind her. It was a breezy, cool, 40 degree day, but the sun was bright and not a cloud in the sky. As we drove by this mother-daughter duo, the comment out of my mouth was, “I cannot believe that little girl is in capris! Its so cold! Was that mom not paying attention!?”. Embarrassing to admit, believe me. But it was. Those were the words that came out of my mouth. And whether or not you want to admit it to yourself, I’m sure at some point you’ve thought something along similar lines. Thankfully Matt (husband) shot me a look that put me back in my place. He didn’t need to say a word. As if I were in an adult timeout, I sat in the front seat silently thinking about my comment.

For all I knew, maybe the mom was teaching her daughter how to pick out her own appropriate clothes and this was a learning experience. Maybe the mom bit her tongue this time as her daughter fought to be able to express herself with clothes of her choosing. Maybe the daughter was simply running warm (as a lot of kids do), and this was just what felt good for her. Maybe these were actually pants that fit at one time, but they didn’t have enough money to get her new pants at the moment (kids grow fast!). Maybe mom hadn’t gotten to the laundry because of her extensive to-do list, and these were the last pair of clean bottoms other than shorts. Maybe mom was going through a nasty divorce battle, and was a little mentally and emotionally distracted at the moment. Maybe mom didn’t want her in capris, but she was running on fumes from being up with another child all night and simply didn’t have the energy to fight this fight. I could go on all day with possible scenarios why this girl was in little capris in 40 degree weather, but the point I made very clear to myself was I had no idea about the life this mom has lived, the day this mom was having, or the person this mom really is. And I had absolutely no place to make quick judgments as I drove by. Maybe the bigger, more important point here being that this mom was up and outside playing her with daughter on this breezy Saturday morning and THAT is what mattered.

After the internal, verbal talking-to I gave myself, I realized I had a conscious choice to make. I can either be in the club of moms that is supportive, empathetic, compassionate, and non-judgmental, OR – I could be in the club that compares, judges, and sees a girl in little capris in 40 degree weather and immediately looks down from some self-appointed pedestal. (Ok, so it wasn’t really a choice – I want to be the club of moms that is supportive, and I genuinely hope everyone else does too). And don’t get me wrong, comments like the one I made that day are very far and few; I live to help and empathize with others. But one is one too many, and I don’t want that to be the stream of consciousness that takes place after seeing a mom appearing to be doing things differently than I might. Who did I think I was?!

Whether you’re the mom that does cloth diapers, or chooses the convenience of disposables. The mom that never wanted to nurse, or the mom that exclusively nursed for that whole first year. Whether you’re the mom that has the newest and cutest brand name clothes for your little one, or the mom that graciously accepts all gently used hand-me-downs. Whether you’re the mom that gets to stay home, or the mom that works two jobs. Whether you’re the mom that does or doesn’t do one of the million other decisions we must make for our children, the common thread that binds us all is that we love our children fiercely, and would do anything and everything in our power to make sure they’re taken care of – in whatever capacity that may be. That last fact, and that fact alone should be the only thing that matters, and is what will turn any future, “Why on Earth is that girl in capris?!” into, “Bless that mom for getting up early in this cold and spending time with her daughter outside!”.

Being a mom is hard enough without any judgment being passed. And motherhood is enhanced when shared with moms who show unwavering support and compassion. So, I promise to always be the mom who sees the bonding time, not whether or not their clothes are weather appropriate. I would like to stay in the supportive mom’s club, and I hope you’ll continue to join me.

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This One’s For You

In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month being almost over, I want to write about something I’m sure everyone can relate to in some way.  I want to write about Debbie. Most of you don’t know Debbie, and there isn’t enough space or time here to give you a description of all her endearing qualities that will do her justice.  In short, she is my mother-in-law, and Tayler’s warm and loving grandmother that will never get to meet her in person.  Thanks a lot, cancer.  You surely do suck.

I want to talk about what its like to raise a child without having someone that would’ve been such an integral part of their life.  Maybe its a grandparent, parent, sibling, aunt or uncle, or a very dear family friend.  No matter the title of the relation, and no matter the reason they are gone – its hard.  Very emotionally delicate, and very difficult to navigate.  Has anyone written a manual on how to deal with this yet?!

Am I keeping their memory alive enough? Or trying to do too much? Am I being respectful of everyone else’s feelings who miss her, too? How do I explain why she’s gone in a way Tayler will understand? How do I show Tayler how much this woman she’ll never meet would’ve meant to her? How do I help my husband get through these feelings as well? How do I deal with my feelings and grief over it without being weak when I need to be strong? Will Tayler or our future kids ever feel a sadness or longing for someone they’ve never met? Is she proud of the mother I’ve become? Holidays and milestones are difficult – but its the day-to-day happenings that are the hardest. You feel guilty when a moment that should be pure joy has a shadow of heart ache in the background.  And you feel guilty when a moment that should be pure joy IS met with pure joy.

Yes – she’s somewhere watching over Tayler.  Debbie is watching her grow, learn, and play from afar with what I’m sure is the biggest smile her face will allow.  And Debbie is without a doubt the fiercest angel we could possibly have in our home.  For that, I am so thankful. It’s just hard to remind yourself of this when the, “Debbie would get a kick out of this!” or “You know Debbie would be doing this with her right now!” overwhelm your thoughts at times.

I find some solace in knowing that Tayler does have a grandma here, however, that loves her more than life, spoils her, and finds no greater joy than watching her grow and holding her in her arms.  She’s got a remarkable grandmother here (love you, Mom!), and a remarkable grandmother up there.  For that too, I am thankful.

I’m not sure if time ever really heals the hurt, but I can promise Debbie that we will keep on living life joyfully, enthusiastically, and will keep her memory alive and well.

And next time you get upset about the effects time and aging have on your body, just remind yourself that to age is a privilege denied to many.  I know Debbie would give anything to be here playing and laughing with her sweet and vibrant granddaughter – wrinkles and all.

Ok, but seriously – who is going to write that manual??

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❤ DLS

Check Out That Cupboard

We all have somewhere in the kitchen where we corral all the baby stuff. Bottles, food, formula, baby cook books, etc. Maybe its in a cupboard, maybe its in a cute basket on the counter, or maybe they are put wherever you find a patch of clear space at the time. For us, we have a cupboard that’s all hers. (So this is the trend when you have kids, huh? They kind of just take over the house?). The reason I’m writing about a measly ole cupboard is because I’ve found it to be baby command central – valuable not only to me, but to my husband and babysitters as well. When everything has a designated home and vital information is all in one place, things just seem to run smoother. Husband has no excuse for putting things in the wrong place when unloading the dishwasher (the point is he unloaded the dishwasher, right?). Everyone helping with Tayler knows what her general schedule looks like. And god forbid there is ever an emergency, anyone can easily find every phone number they may need and visual reminders for infant CPR and choking. Let’s take a little peek.

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The upper left is Tayler’s schedule. Everything on it is subject to an “-ish” after it, but as Tayler’s schedule changes, its nice for my husband to be able to keep up with our day-to-day if I’m not around to ask. It makes fussy problem-solving a lot easier if he can keep tabs on where she is during her day.

Bottom left is her Emergency Contact List. Beneficial for anyone in our home if there is ever an emergency. Things to consider putting on yours are:

  • Your Address
  • Poison Control
  • Your Urgent Care
  • Mom & Dad’s phone numbers (personal, home, & work)
  • Your Hospital’s ER
  • Fire Dept
  • Police Dept
  • Your Pediatrician’s Office
  • All Neighbors that could help and where they live
  • Your Pharmacy
  • Your Insurance Info
  • Any allergies and/or medications taken in the family

**Something else helpful you might want to put on your Emergency Contact List is this little bit of info: If you’re ever in an emergency, and cant connect to a 911 dispatcher immediately, for whatever reason – go to your car and press your red Onstar button (IF you have Onstar of course). It is set up to connect IMMEDIATELY – you jump ahead of any other calls. My dad works for Onstar, and always tells me about how many children’s lives are saved from this bit of information. **

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The right side is filled with step-by-step and visual directions for Conscious/Unconscious Choking, Infant CPR & Infant Rescue Breathing. I’ve taken the classes, babysitters have taken the classes, but the truth is, it is so easily forgotten because (hopefully) that information is used next to never. In an emergency, I want to make sure the person handling the situation has a guide if needed. Our babies are too precious to leave it to chance.

The link below is the information I printed off and that you see above.

http://www.beprepared.net/infantcpr.pdf

All of the red bins you see are Dollar Store finds. Organization doesn’t have to cost much money!

I know as Tayler ages our cupboard will change, and I will need to move it down to her level so she can help herself, but for now – this will do.

Are there any ways you organize your kitchen or information you’ve found useful to have up? I’d love to hear!

Today Was Enough.

Today was just one of those days. Fussy from teething. Wouldn’t eat her pears. Cried the second she left my arms. Wouldn’t go down for her afternoon nap. I had a bad headache. It was cold and rainy outside. We didn’t go for a run. We didn’t play with friends. I couldn’t make dinner and had to resort to mac n’ cheese. We didn’t go to the playground down the street. And a load of laundry sat cold in a basket in the living room all day – just long enough to wrinkle everything and need to be tossed in again. One of those days.

After I put her down for bed I was left with this feeling of disappointment – like I had failed her today. I felt like today was a wash, I had nothing to show for it, and that I should’ve and could’ve done better.

And then I read an article that put things back in perspective. The article reminded me that even when it didn’t feel like it – today was enough. I have the link to the article itself below, but I want to walk through some of the things the article taught me about days like today. What I hope it reminds you moms of as well, because I know I’m not the only one that has “one of those days”.

Out of the difficult, resistant, cluttered, patience-trying chaos of today, I taught her the following:

1. She can always depend on me. When she needed to be changed, fed, cuddled, and put to sleep – I was there to cater to her needs. Every single time. When she needs something and is letting me know through her cries – I am there, and always will be. We are currently working on baby sign language, and is another way that we are strengthening our bond and communication. I care about her needs, and will do what I can to meet them.

2. Its OK for her to depend on herself, too. Tonight I put her down for bed wide awake, and after one and a half minutes, she had figured out how to fall sleep on her own. Watching that banana puff stick to her hand over, and over, and over (and over) before she got it in her mouth was painful – but I let her figure it out on her own as she practiced her fine motor skills. My instincts wanted to run and catch her every time she fell from pulling herself up on something. But if I had, she wouldn’t be mastering her graceful sit down/fall she’s been working on. Sometimes being a good parent means doing less, not more.

3. She learned how words work. We talk, we sing, and we shout. All. Day. Long. We counted every item we pulled out of our grocery cart (much to the annoyance of the young cashier hating his job). We read books (and by read I mean chewed as I tried to read). We described all the different colors and textures of leaves we encountered on our walk. We sang what felt like at least 108 kids songs together. We had conversations about life as we ate dinner together. She learned the sounds, rhythms, and tone of verbal language – and that, is awesome.

4. She learned how to take turns. Between our peek-a-boo game with the blanket outside, rolling the ball back and forth, and having squealing matches back and forth in the kitchen, she learned that human interactions are give and take. Socially, she’s learning – and that too, is awesome.

5. She learned that making a mess can stimulate the best science experiments. We TORE UP her play room. The entire alphabet letter mat turned into giant blocks for her to bulldoze. We dumped out ALL of her toys to see how we could make the tallest toy tower ever – just to knock it down again. And again, and again. At bath time, everything in a 3 foot radius from the tub was soaked. But tonight we learned that all the water that goes into the giant cup, will come out. And if done with force, will come out faster and farther. She also learned that if you’re quick enough to grab the shower head from mom and get your mouth on it, you will choke on water. We played, we made a mess, we had fun, and we learned that it takes exactly 5 balls to fill up mom’s shoe.

6. She learned that life has a pattern. Wake up. Nurse. Play. Oatmeal. Nap. Poop. Bottle. Play. Veggies. Walk. Bottle. Nap. Play. Dinner. Oatmeal. Bath. Books. Bottle. Bed time. Her world is predictable, consistent, and allows her to look forward to things as she knows (for the most part), what’s coming next. Its safe, and she’s comfortable and thriving in it.

Today was enough. I was enough. These days happen, and now when I try and tell myself it wasn’t enough – I know better. I respond to her needs, I love her fiercely, and I give her my all. I play, I laugh, I encourage, I teach, I touch, and I support her. And even when nothing else goes right – that will always be enough.

Article from Parents.com:

http://www.parents.com/baby/development/intellectual/10-things-you-taught-your-baby-today-without-even-trying/

A Serious Look At Nursery Rhymes, Not To Be Taken Seriously.

Tayler and I had just finished up bath time, and after getting in some fresh pj’s we began to browse for a new book to read before bed (well, I looked – she just pulled books onto the floor by the handful).  Shapes – blah.  Clifford – blah.  Weather – big blah.  NURSERY RHYMES – YES! Mother Goose is my JAM.  My teacher brain that I can’t turn off started the dialogue in the back of my head, “Yes! Nursery rhymes are great for tempo, cadence, inflection, identifying rhyming words, concepts of print, and simply listening to the different rhythms of poetry! We should so start these now! Not to mention the cute and engaging characters and story lines!”.  Ugh, that teacher brain.

So, we began to read.  I knew all of them from my childhood, and could recite them all with little effort, but this was the first time I really looked at what these “cute and engaging” rhymes were talking about.  Oh, the horror.  Page by page, rhyme by rhyme, I began to wonder just what Mother Goose was trying to pull here.  What was this goose trying to teach my daughter?!

Let’s look at some of these together:

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Perhaps the most well-known, for the fact that its about the Great Plague of London.  Rashes and cremation – AWESOME.

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What kind of whack-job is baking live birds into pie? PETA would be PISSED. I’d be pretty pissed too if I was the king. Taunting me with pie I can no longer eat??

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Another classic.  But why is no one questioning this massacre by a knife wielding woman? No, I hope to never see such a sight – because that would surely mess me up. THEY WERE BLIND.

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What kind of sick child labor/slavery sham is this? A penny a day? A master? Jack needs to contact his union rep ASAP.

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Pretty sure this is against the law, Peter.  You can’t just hold people against their will – especially in a pumpkin.  Also, this picture is incredibly creepy.

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Well no shit he’s merry.  He’s got a pipe and a bowl and people to play music for him on command?  Where is this place and how does one get there?

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Ummm.. concussion?? I’m pretty sure he needs medical attention.  Was he at a party the night before with Old King Cole??

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What is the moral of this? Irresponsibility? A poor work-ethic? Falling asleep on the job is never acceptable.  Unless you’re a doctor who needs a break or something – then its ok.  Those hours are LONG.

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Andddd last but not least – my favorite.  No, it is not because its three men in a tub.  It could be any mix of men and women – I am a huge supporter of the LGBT community and love the one you’re with.  What I am concerned about, however, is why three adults of such stature are splish splashing around in a tub together for everyone to see.  I thought candlestick makers were better than this.  I am NOT ready for those talks with my daughter yet.

Good try Mother Goose.  Good try.  I’ll save your book for when she’s 15 (or 21 – if I play into my own delusions about her growing up) and we need to discuss drugs, sex, safety, acceptable working conditions, and historical tragedies all at the same time.  Until then, books on shapes it is.

The Chair.

Just like clockwork, Tayler was ready for her 11:00 nap and we made our way upstairs to her room.  Blinds drawn, door closed, noisemaker on, and assume the position in the glider.  I sat there in the dark rocking her into sweet dreams, and after she fell asleep I just couldn’t get myself to put her down in her crib.  Her legs were tucked around my waist, head nuzzled in my neck, tiny fingers gripping my shirt to ensure I didn’t leave, and oh did she smell sweet.  Just one of those days when extra snuggles were desired and necessary.  There was laundry to fold, dishes to do, clothes to pack, and my hair to tame, but this moment was where I belonged.

Any mom who rocks their little one to sleep knows that after so many hours in that chair, you sit in the peaceful darkness with your own thoughts.  Today as her tiny chest was moving up and down on mine, I began to look around her room.  A year ago, this beautiful room was nothing.  Muted pink walls, dirty blinds, and a stash of crappy cd’s the previous homeowners left in the closet.  Today I looked around and saw touches of time and love in every corner.  Custom clothes, piggy banks, books with handwritten notes, cross-stitched signs, handmade burp cloths, and decor picked out with only Tayler in mind.  So much “stuff” filled this room.  As I looked around, however, there was one “thing” that got me a little choked up and sentimental.  Ok fine, a lot choked up and incredibly sentimental.  (For you new or soon-to-be moms, no one tells you that “pregnancy hormones” stay forever, and you’re just a hot mess, all the time, from here on out).  It was the glider I was rocking in.  This chair that silently moved effortlessly as Tayler and I bonded.

E iPhone 2.21.13 Preggo Pics 101

This chair.  This was where we read books together before bedtime.  Where we spent a few nights crying together during those first weeks home, as we learned what each other needed.  This chair was where we spent countless hours when she wasn’t feeling well, and all she needed was mom’s smell and touch.  This was where we take her monthly photos that I know we will cherish beyond measure when she herself is a grown woman.  This chair.  Where we have taken naps together, laughed together, and got so comfortable in each other’s arms that I thought we’d never get up.  This chair is where I learned just how rewarding nursing can be.  Where I joyfully watched the love of my life become a father. Hours upon hours have already been spent in this chair, and not a single minute of them has been wasted.  This is where she listens to my heartbeat that she’s known long before we met.  Its where I’ve sung lullaby’s (she doesn’t know yet that I am a terrible, terrible, singer), gently smoothed the little hairs on her head, and given her 7 months worth of goodnight kisses.  This chair.

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When I picked it out I had no idea the magnitude of the choice I was making.  This is where memories are made.  If you’re a new mom I encourage you to choose carefully.  Love not only the way it looks and makes your nursery appear complete, but love the way it feels. This is where the magic happens.

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I hope to rock more of our children in this chair, but until then… Tayler and I have many more hours of snuggly bliss to enjoy.

Family Life Simplified. Get Cozi With It.

I have it.  The answer to a busy family’s prayers.

I bet you can relate to at least one of the following situations:

  • Your husband repeatedly, (bless his heart), but repeatedly asks when certain appointments are
  • You just pull out of the grocery store parking lot to find a text that says “Get milk, granola bars, and paper towel!”
  • Better yet, you pull into the grocery store parking lot, and realize you forgot your list on the counter
  • You politely text your husband with things to add to his “honey-do” list, but those texts are forgotten and lost just as quickly as they were read
  • A doctor’s appointment changed, and you put it on the refrigerator calendar but no one saw it – and therefore, was missed
  • Your husband repeatedly, (seriously, bless his heart), but repeatedly asks when certain appointments are

Problem solved.  A free little app called Cozi.  It’s easy.  It’s quick.  It’s amazing.

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Every family member you add to the account can add appointments, things to the grocery list, things to the to-do lists, birthdays, etc – and it automatically syncs to all phones on the account.  The calendar looks like this, and can be seen as a monthly view if upgraded.

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When you add an appointment, you can alert certain family members of it.  When you know your husband will most likely forget to take the dogs to the vet, you can set up multiple reminders at times of your choosing.

And the teacher in me absolutely adores the fact that every family member can be color coded!

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At the start of every week Cozi sends all members an email showing a run-down of what the week looks like.  Talk about starting off on the right foot!

Enjoy!