WOT: Nursery Improvements

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Today's WOT (Working on Things) is about our little nursery.  There are a lot of things I love about it.  It's the smallest room in the house (which is saying a lot, because all the bedrooms are small), but I think it's organized well enough and the furniture is placed right.  I put this all together three years ago before the birth of our second baby, my first son. We didn't find out the gender of our third baby until he was born seven months ago, and I was relieved that I hadn't changed a thing beforehand in the nursery.  Even if it was a girl though, I would have largely kept things the same.  (It could always be a cowgirl room, right?)

Ten Things I Will Never, Ever Do Again

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

I sometimes feel like there are two Monicas; actually, at least two.  But for the sake of this post, let's say two: Pre-college Monica and Post-college Monica.

These two version of me are quite different people.  Sometimes they are alarmingly different.  One is daring, fairly silly, and attention-seeking.  The other is responsible, rather serious, and an introvert.  Good friends will see glimpses of Pre-College Monica, and really good friends will force that Monica our from her hiding place.  I don't think Post-college Monica is a bad Monica, just an evolved one as life forces you to change.  I like who I am now, but I have been feeling as of late that it wouldn't be bad to see more of the old me every now and then.

Whenever I visit my family in Utah, I get glimpses of that Pre-college Monica while I drive around my hometown.  I crack up thinking about the funny things I did with my friends, or shake my head at activities I was involved, things you couldn't pay me to do now.  So as much as I'd like to get back some of the Pre-college Monica's bravery and creativity, there are a whole of of things about the old me I have absolutely no problem ever seeing apart of my life again.

Here's a list for you!

Ten Things I Will Never, Ever Do Again:

1) Drive backwards through a drive-in.
2) Believe the best job ever is working at Cold Stone because you get to sing to total strangers for two-cent tips.
3) Try out for anything.  Like, anything.
   3b) Related: Willingly perform in front of hundreds of people.
4) Sell something door-to-door in my neighborhood.
5) Fake injuries and limp around for attention.
6) Dress up in costumes and record videos with my friends on a Friday night.
   6b) Think that is a fantastic way to spend a Friday night.
7) Prank call, doorbell ditch, or go toilet papering.
8) Regularly wear matching outfits with best friends for fun.
9) Actually ask to be the one to give a speech or be the MC at a big event.
10) Go to Band Camp.
   10b) Disguise it as "Cheer Camp" at school.

This should be fun: what's on your list?

30 Before 30 Update

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Here's where I'm at with a couple of things on my list of 30 Before 30 Bucket List!

1) Ten Family Hikes: We've added hikes #4 and #5!  Both local.  We're trying!

2) Read 30 Books: Two more books completed, so little by little! 12) The Highly Sensitive Child; 13) Brooklyn (book-on-tape)

Currently listening to Goldfinch and reading the new Mindy Kaling one!

7) Make/bake 30 New Things: Of course I've made more things, and they all involve chocolate. 18) Chocolate peanut butter cake; 19) Yellow cake with chocolate frosting; 20) Granola bars (yes, with chocolate).

22) Re-read the Book of Mormon: Just started again!  First, though--I finished the entire bible finally.  I'd read the New Testament all through several times, and huge chunks of the Old Testament, but I had never the whole bible in its entirety, start to finish. It seriously took me four years of almost daily reading (I read pretty slowly.  Most of the Old Testament involved heavy note-taking, but by the time I was a third into the New Testament, I gradually shifted to reading for reading's sake.) I'm excited to be studying the Book of Mormon again and will be reading five pages a day to get to my goal of completing it by my birthday.

11) 30 Dates with Brad: 11) Dinner at Mona's; 12) Can Costco family dinner count?

Somehow, I am still failing at the ice cream goal, which I thought would have surely been the easiest one......

A Thank You Note: To the Boy Who Broke My Heart

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Dear Boy Who Broke My Heart,

It's been a long time since we've spoken, hasn't it?  Although you broke up with me at 18, you'll remember we met once again on college campus when I was 21.  It was strange but clandestine.  I was engaged.  You were unofficially engaged.  You know the drill.  That makes it 9 years since we last spoke and 12 since you broke up with me.

Perhaps the details are a little fuzzy, so I thought it would be helpful to remind you of our history.  We met in Seminary during my Senior year of high school.  We were both 17.  You were a tall version of Harry Potter, a talented pianist, and a genuine weirdo; you were essentially my best teenage dream come true.  You took me to prom in a top hat and cane, you serenaded me on a piano in front of a whole restaurant, and you didn't hesitate to take my hand.

You also didn't hesitate to be the first to say, "I love you," and to imagine our future together.  Yes we were young, but you KNEW we would be together for the long haul.  You said we'd name our first daughter Hannah.  You gave me my first kiss on my 18th birthday and I knew that I loved you too.

I was not the only one who loved you.  You made things fun.  You were kind and included people.  You were very popular.  You were a good boyfriend too.  You wrote me letters weekly while I was away at college.  You wrote me songs and recorded them so I could listen from afar.  You were proud of us, and excited for our future together.  I was fiercely devoted.

But around a year mark, you started to change.  You didn't want me to say, "I love you," so much.  You didn't want to constantly analyze our future or talk about what may come.  I get it now.  You were 18!  I was your first serious girlfriend and there were plenty of other beautiful young girls waiting for you in the wings.

You went directly for one of them right away, after you broke my heart.  Speaking of which, you did a terrible job of breaking up with me!  I hope the next time you broke up with a girl, you did right by the poor girl by actually ending it instead of saying you were just "slowing down," until she gradually figured out the truth.  I hope you actually gave her closure before shifting all of your shared dreams right over onto the first girl to follow.

But at the time, I loved you far too much to be mad at you.  Even I could see that the next girl was far prettier, far skinnier too.  Even I couldn't blame you.

It was difficult, that break up.  I didn't just lose my boyfriend and my best friend; I lost a lifetime of dreams we had created together.  I lost a lot of hope.  I lost my self-confidence.  I didn't think I could love again like that, so I also lost a big chunk of my heart, sealing it off to good men who followed.

I'm writing to you now, because I want to say something:

Thank you.

Thank you for breaking up with me.  Thank you for taking our dreams, ripping them into little pieces and throwing them up into the wind where they swirled away, out of my desperate reach. Thank you for doing that.

Because I learned SO much: empathy, persistence, and the great importance of loving oneself.

Because I learned I could work myself out of a deep, dark depression.  It was good practice for later.

Because I eventually learned I could love again.

Which reminds me of our last reunion.  I hadn't spoken to you in over 2 1/2 years. I had wisely cut off all communication after realizing that I was a joke to you, something to laugh at with your friends because of how poorly I was handling the muddy end of our relationship.

Although I would have absolutely, positively said that I was over you and so excited to be engaged--and I was--the scar on my heart still hurt from time to time.  I was stunned to yet again feel that scar when a roommate said she saw your girlfriend at a bridal fair, the same girlfriend you immediately paired with after our end.  I wasn't shocked that you were indeed following through with her; I was shocked by the sudden intake of breath I felt, the pit in my stomach, and the tears welling up in my eyes when she casually mentioned it.  I was shocked that that could still happen. I abruptly left the gathering we were at and sobbed the whole way home.  I was angry at you, so angry that you could still make that reaction happen without my permission, especially when I though I was so past all of that.

You see, I had found a tall, red-headed boy.  He was kind.  So very kind.  He didn't need to be the center of the room like you did, but he still managed to control it, to make things happen and make people feel a part of things.  He studied harder than I saw any other boy study.  And he gave the most hilarious, yet sincere Sunday school lessons I'd ever heard.  Even better, he got choked up when doing so. (Every Mormon girl knows there are few things more attractive than a guy who can cry when feeling the Spirit.)

I was "unofficially engaged" to another man when I first recognized Brad for what he was.  The other man was good, but he was confused; he couldn't decide how he felt about me after a year of dating.  I had been on a relationship rollercoaster with him and felt like, once again, no guy could really love me for who I was.  After one particularly trying weekend, I went to a fireside and sat behind Brad.  I was feeling so worthless and tired, tired of being on the judgment seat for every guy I seemed to love.  I looked at the back of Brad's red head and the thought came, "There is a boy who would really take care of me.  There is a boy who would truly love me."

Two months later, I was officially no longer "unofficially engaged" and Brad and I went on a few dates.  The best first dates I had ever had, in fact.  We became instant best friends, friends that could talk long into the night and have conversations without any repeats.  Our connection was instantaneous.

But I was damaged goods.  I had a lot of work to do on myself.  So Brad rode my roller coaster.  He never gave up on me, even when I had given up on myself.

It took me a good year to give Brad a real chance, to open up that cold chamber of my heart I had closed off while recovering from you, the part of my heart that refused to trust.  I had worked hard at softening that part, and this boy was worth it.  He had worked hard too.

I knew he was the one for me for many reasons, but the biggest was that once we finally started dating exclusively, it felt as natural as breathing.  I didn't have to constantly question the state of our relationship, or our future.  It wasn't a question of IF, it was a question of WHEN.

We got engaged and Brad left to San Francisco to start his career, while I finished my final semester at BYU.  I was in a very good place after some very hard years.  I was so happy.

It was then that I caught a glimpse of you.  I was in the library's large atrium, meeting with a friend from class to study.  We were leaning against the glass railings, talking away when you showed up in the outskirts of my vision, walking right past me as we briefly made eye contact.

I didn't even know you were going to school there.  You looked surprised to see me too.  Of course, I pretended not to see you and without missing a beat, I kept talking to my friend.  After you passed, I muttered under my breath, "Brityn, I think I just saw my ex-boyfriend!"  I whispered a ten-second synopsis of our story, and she became my eyes while we pretended to continue our lively conversation.  She watched you walk out the door, around the atrium, back through the other side, and around me again; she watched you study my face, double-checking that it was indeed me.

That glimpse of you didn't ruin me, thank goodness.  It simply felt harshly unreal, like two parts of me were meeting each other for the first time, and didn't know what to say to each other.

A month or so went by, and I hadn't seen you again amongst the 30,000 students on our campus.

I was having a bad day, an anxious day.  It felt difficult to breathe as I tried to eat my carrots at lunch, forcing myself to chew and swallow, chew and swallow.  I was fighting the burden on my chest slowly strangling me, and I was blaming you.  I was blaming the scar you left alongside the mountain of insecurity it took me years to conquer.  I was feeling so angry that you were still in my space--my campus, and my head--when you had no right to be.  I didn't even want to be with you, I wouldn't have given you a half-second chance if you had tried.  I had faced so many demons head-on, I wanted to face the biggest unresolved one: you.

I said a prayer.  "Heavenly Father, please help me have closure.  I am happy.  I am grateful for Brad and what we have, and I'm so ready for our life together.  But I need whatever this block is to be completely gone.  I need absolute closure.  Please help my heart tie up the lose ends."  I told myself that closure would still have to be God-sent rather than faced head-on.

I left the building I was studying in and was heading to another, when you appeared.  It felt like lightening had struck twice; not romantically, of course, but as though fate were saying, "Here you go!  Here is your final chance!" This time you didn't see me.  You looked sleepy and fog-headed as you quickly disappeared into another building.  I followed you.  I was determined to speak to you.  I was going to close that space in my head and heart, once and for all.

When I entered the Wilkinson building, you were no where to be seen.  I walked quickly, making a big, fast loop around the main floor, feeling urgent.  I ducked into a bathroom.  "Heavenly Father, " I prayed, "If that was an answer to my prayer, thank you.  But I need your help.  Help me find him.  If this is the way you are helping me get final closure, please direct me to him."

As soon as I said, "Amen," I went right back out, allowing my feet to take me where they may.  I made a direct path to the gift shop, walking straight to the candy aisle.  I saw the back of your head as you studied the choices.  My hand slowly reached up and I tapped you on the shoulder.  You turned and audibly gasped as you said, "Monica?!"

We spoke for five or so minutes.  You told me a bit about your studies, I told you about mine.  I spoke proudly about my fiancĂ©, working in San Francisco, and after a while I asked about you and the girl, and if things were heading in a good direction.  You sheepishly responded with a "Yes..."  I had to get to the class I was a TA for, so I wrapped up the conversation and went on my way, quickly exiting the building.

I was elated.

I was elated, because I had felt absolutely nothing while speaking with you.  Nothing!  I had by no means expected to feel any sort of love, or fondness even, toward you.  But I had expected sadness, anger, or hurt to leak through that old scar.  And yet, none of those feelings had come.

You were you, and I was me.  Two parts of my life had met and shook hands like old acquaintances; they wouldn't be friends but they wouldn't be enemies, either.  I saw you for who you were--a young guy, who wasn't possibly ready to have made those commitments at an even younger age--and you saw me--a young woman with a hard-earned confidence in herself and a readiness for the next step of her life.

I called Brad immediately to recount what had happened.  And, being the good man that he is, he was just as elated for me.

We only saw each other one more time, while passing in a heavy snow on our way to classes.  You called out my name this time and we waved, as though we simply knew each other from a while back.  And that's all it felt like.

Now, I am over 8-years married to my red-headed fellow.  Each year, Brad gets better and better.  He truly does!  We still have long conversations, although there are a few repeats now.  But those repeats are good and familiar.  We have shared a million and one memories together, with a billion to go.

Brad is my dearest friend.  He remains calm and even while riding the Monica Rollercoaster.  He is very, very good to me.  For instance, he just washed all of the dishes while I wrote you this note, 99% of which he did not dirty; it's one of the many ways he daily shows his love for me.

We have three very young, very crazy children.  None of them are red-headed, but I still have hopes for one!  They fill our lives with noise and energy.  Our home is the center of our universe.

So, before I end this letter, I have one final reason to thank you for your rather inept, didn't-see-it-coming break-up:

Thank you for breaking up with me so I could now have my dear husband, my little family, and with them, the sweetest devotion I will ever know.

Best Wishes,


A Day in the Life: Momma of Three Littles

Friday, February 5, 2016

I love reading "Day in the Life" series on other blogs and being a fly on people's wall, learning how they spend their time.  I tracked my Wednesday this past week (jotting down notes every hour or so), and thought it would be fun to share.  

There are surely people out there who are a LOT busier out there, so I'm sure they'll read this and feel sad.  But, here's what a typical Wednesday looks like for us!

Disclaimer: I tried to keep this short and task-task-oriented (I failed on making it short, big surprise!), but just know that alongside every minute are more conversations with my kids, more discipline, more hugs, and more ear-pitching volume than I detailed here.  All that is a basic part of every single task we undertake at home, as I'm sure you can relate.

12:15 AM: Fall asleep!

2:30 AM: Hear the baby crying.  At first, I thought it was time to wake up, so I whispered to Brad that I'd be going on a run, but on the way to the nursery I checked my watch and was so happy to see I still had three more hours!  I feed Baby D, then put him right back down.

Fashion blogger, I am not.

5:30 AM: Baby D is up again, and it's a good time to wake up as I am meeting my running buddy at 6:10.  I feed D, slowly get dressed, pack my water, light reflector vest, and headlamp, then drive the five-minute route to my friend's.  I'm a little early, so I make a post on Instagram while I wait.

6:10 - 7:15 AM: Run!  (Picture is of creepy shoes hanging out on the trail.) Drive home.  Skip stretching, as always...

7:15-30 AM: Hear big kids are up in their room, but Brad is getting to them; I work on getting my post up for the day.  Brad leaves on his bike and we wave at him through the window.

7:30 AM: Change R's diaper and get him dressed. Get he and CJ some milk and breakfast.  Quickly shower and get dressed. Put on a five-minute face mask because I have a massive nose cyst-zit. Put bread in the toaster for me.

8:10 AM: Baby D is up, but he's just talking to himself so I quickly wash off the mask, do my hair and a little makeup.  I make the beds and take a picture of myself, because you know, blogging.  (I was thinking of doing a quick post on my quick "mom makeup" routine or this fabulous shirt everyone should buy...)

8:25 AM: Baby D time!  I feed him while reading scriptures on my phone, then jump when I look at the time.  I get the older kids teeth brushed and usher CJ to get dressed for preschool.  I do her hair quickly and make sure she has everything.  My friend comes to pick up CJ and we wave goodbye to her through the window.

8:50 AM: I reheat my toast and make my almond butter/honey/banana combo.  (You should try it!) R is playing with his cars in the backyard, making a huge mess with dirt but I'm happy if he's happy.  Dean eats in his highchair along side me.

When he's done, I give him a spoon to play with while I take out a few loads for recycling.  I try to put away some dishes, but D is done and letting me know it. I get him out, clean up the huge mess that is his high chair, and get him dressed.

9:40 AM: D sits on my lap while I try to fix a blog glitch and post it to Facebook.  A little friend for R arrives at 9:50 for me to babysit while her mom gets a haircut; this is a lifesaver for me, actually, as it helps R be happy!  I get them playing, put D down, then clean.  I clean like a chicken whose head has been chopped off, jumping from one thing to the next, like someone is coming over for dinner at short-notice.  I sweep, vacuum rugs, vacuum the couch, put away clothes, put in a massive load of laundry, and wash random spots on walls and rugs around my house.  I answer a few comments on my FB post.  The kids are moving from one activity to the next, and apparently are having too much fun to read with me, as I offered.

11:10 AM: Mom calls, so we talk while I finish putting away the dishes, fold my cloth diapers, and sort all the lone socks we've put in a basket for months.  (Of course, most don't have mates.)  My friend comes to pick up her daughter.  D wakes up at the perfect time.  I alternate feeding him and trying to escape to a different room away from his brother R, who is distracting him from nursing.

11:40-11:55 AM: Do everything in my power to convince the toddler to get his shoes on and get out the door and to the car for preschool pickup.  It seriously takes this long...  Child wants to do everything on his own, but instead of doing the task at hand, he stands crying about how he wants to do it.  Finally, I get him buckled in his carseat and we're off.

11:55 AM: Drive to Preschool.  Pick up CJ and her friend.  Pull to the side of the road to watch some construction and everyone loves it.  Drop off CJ's friend and drive home.

12:30 PM: Vacuum two other rooms quickly while kids wash their hands.  Feed the kids lunch, including D in his high chair who sucks on a banana.  Switch laundry.  Give D a spoon to play with while I change R's diaper and put him down for a nap in my bed.

1:20 PM: Give D some more food.  Heat up my own lunch (leftovers!) and eat with CJ (who is taking an especially long time to finish her lunch) on one side and D on the other.  I clean him up and get CJ in her bed.  She rarely naps, but had a late night the night before, so I convince her to try.  I change D's diaper, sing to him, and read him a few books before putting him down for a nap.

1:50 PM: Sit on the couch and take a break.  Instagram it is.  I hear CJ is playing with her dolls in her bed, but that's what I expected.

2:20 PM: I hear R is up.  I go in to my room and realize he's been playing with the diffuser instead of sleeping.  Water is everywhere on my side of the bed, so I clean it up.  It's going to be a late night for us, so I really want him to sleep.  I try to coax him back under the sheets and lay next to him, tickling his face and arms.  Of course, I'm the one who is falling asleep instead of R, who keeps getting mad at me because I stop tickling him each time I drift off.

3:00 PM: CJ calls to us, so I get her out of her room.  She and R play on my bed while I drift in and out of sleeping.  Momma's getting grumpy, so I call it.  I go in the family room and work on adding a pinterest button to my blog while R and CJ play with trains.

3:45 PM: D is up.  I feed him and get snacks to the older kids.  We make granola bars together.

Sadly, I added chocolate chips while the mixture was too hot so they're not quite right but we'll try again.

4:45 PM: While the bars bake, I read the kids books.  R eventually wants to go outside and play instead, so CJ and I keep reading with D on my lap.

5:15 PM: I pump a little to make some baby oatmeal for D.  He wasn't eating well that day due to congestion, so I want him to get a little real food in him.  I take out the granola bars and let them cool.

5:40 PM: Dinner time.  I heat up leftover homemade pizza, add some healthy sides, warm some finger foods for D, and we eat.

6:05 PM: Wash the dishes with baby D beside me in the rock n' play.  Break up fights between my older kids, over and over.  Get a head ache.

6:35 PM: Give baths to everyone.  We are trying to go as fast as we can because we have to make it up to the church by 7, in time for a Young Women activity.  Get D dressed in his pajamas, get R dressed, yell at CJ who has been playing in her room instead of getting dressed.  Hug a crying CJ and apologize for said yelling.  Put some library books into a bag.  Get everyone into coats and hustled into their carseats, and book it to the church.

7:08 PM: Arrive on "Mormon Standard Time."  My president is in charge of this activity and is so kind to let me try to entertain my kids the whole time instead of be really present with the girls.  My friend holds D for a few minutes while I hand out as many snacks as I can to the older two--they dismiss all the healthy ones--and read them library books.  I try to be apart of the activity for a few minutes, while CJ and R loudly chase each other around the room.  Pull out the big guns and let them look at pictures on my phone.

7:55 PM: Baby D is crying and needs to get home, and my older kids are not being entertained by the pictures at all.  We pack up, apologize for leaving early, and head home.  D falls asleep right away, so I bring him inside in his carseat and let him chill.  I refill all the humidifiers.  I then brush the older kids' teeth, pray with them, read one verse of scripture, then put them in bed.  Threats are made before I close their door.

8:25 PM: Quickly tidy up the front room.  Still lots of clutter, but good enough.  Wake up Baby D.

I get him in his sleeper blanket, then feed him, rock him, sing to him, and put him down.  I feel bad because that is basically his only quality time with mom all day.

8:50 PM: Give myself a big pat on the back and heat up some leftover cake. I eat my cake while watching a replay of some Bachelor.  (I refuse to be ashamed for this!)  (Also, use your kids' spoons--it makes dessert last longer.)

9:15 PM: Get some more cake.  (I also refuse to be ashamed!) Let the Bachelor continue to play on the background while I fiddle some more with my blog, and trying to figure out the insanity that is Picasa.  (Seriously, that program should be easy but for me, it's anything but.)

10:15 PM: Brad gets home.  He had had a special work dinner that night.  He tells me about his filet mignon, then gets ready for bed before coming back and watching some sports.  I keep fiddling with the program.  Brad starts falling asleep on the couch.

10:45 PM: Time to get ready for bed.  Brad takes two minutes.  I take twenty.

11:15 PM: Get in bed.  Feel wide awake.  Look at Instagram in hopes it will help me drift off to sleep.

11:35 PM: Turn off the lamp.

11:45 PM: Baby D wakes up.  Feed him and put him down.  (Didn't have the heart to let him cry.)  Get back in bed.

This is where I should end with "Sleep!" but instead, it will say, "12:15 AM: R wakes up calling for mom and no one else will do.  Repeat at 2:30 AM, alongside a huge tantrum from R...  D wakes up at 5:30 AM.  I skip the morning workout....)

There you have it!  What are your days like?

Baby-Led Weaning Through Three Kids

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

I have yet to buy a single jar of baby food.  But . . . I also have yet to puree my own baby food.  Want to know how?

First, let's break that picture down and analyze how different my kids look as babies:

Baby #1
Baby #2
Baby #3

I've followed Baby-Led Weaning (BLW) for introducing solids with all three of my kids.  BLW is where your child feeds herself right from the start.  Choosing this method was largely inspired by my crunchy ways with my first child--I was exclusively using cloth diapers and my daughter had some food sensitivities.  I learned about BLW from researching those areas and I am so glad I did!  (Thank you Baby Center forums!) 

Although I'm not as "crunchy" as I used to be, I am still a big fan of BLW. My current 6 month old just dived into it, and it's nice getting into the same old routine with him.  He's eating like a teenager, by the way.

The pros: It's the easiest (read, laziest) way to feed your baby; it's CHEAP; it inspires good eating habits and fosters independence; and it's adorable and fun!  The cons: It's messy; you have to watch your kids closely; and it's messy (just wanted to re-emphasize that one).

Middle child, R, chowing down.

While I thought the book Baby-Led Weaning was helpful, I found that this website has just as much information.  Also, the book is hard-core.  No spoons allowed.  Like, ever.

That's where I differ.  I prefer spoon-feeding yogurt, applesauce, soups, and leftover finger foods I mash up as we eat.  Also, when we are in public I find it so incredibly messy to do BLW, that I personally prefer sticking to feeding them myself until the baby is doing a pretty good job on their own.  My middle and current child wanted to use utensils right away--copying their siblings!  I just give the baby a plastic baby spoon if they are insisting and let them pretend while I spoon feed them a little.  R was able to successfully use utensils well by a year old, no joke.

Baby D is currently 6 1/2 months old.  Here is what he is eating (but not at this very moment, that would be crazy): banana, sweet potato, broccoli, roasted chicken and turkey, crusts from pizza, hunks of mozzarella cheese, avocado, applesauce, large stuffed pasta (he only sucked on this, for flavor!), tomato red pepper soup, rice, and baby oatmeal (you can also blend regular oatmeal).

While the book and website are the best place to start, here are some tips that I've gleaned through three rounds of this!

1) YOUR BABY IS GETTING ENOUGH: By far, your baby's largest nutrition should still be coming from breastmilk and/or formula.  Those first few months, they'll gnaw and suck on food and get little bits in.  (Their diapers will show you what, and you'll be surprised!)  You might wonder if they're getting enough, but they are if you still continue to breastfeed/bottle feed them before you give them regular food.  For a few months, solids are just for fun.  However, if you're like me (meaning you hate wasting food), you can also use a fork to mash up leftovers and feed them a bit, mixed with applesauce in the beginning, to thin it out.

2) ERR ON THE LARGE SIDE: Every person who hears about BLW first fears that the child will choke.  He/she will choke if you give them little pieces of cut up food; but if you give them larger pieces, such as a large spear of sweet potato or a big chunk of chicken, there is only so much that child can put into their mouth and suck on.  (Good news: babies can't even pick up small pieces for a few months!)  Larger pieces of food are smashed against the mouth/gums and ingested easier and more gradually.

My middle child, R, "choked" pretty easily. so be aware of that scary sound.  When I say "choked," I really mean that he mostly gagged very easily; but gag reflexes are a GOOD THING!  If you hear them "choking", then they're mostly gagging and working on getting the food back toward the front.   Audible choking means they still have air to breathe, while silent choking is when you need to swipe the food out ASAP. I never leave the room while baby is eating, even if another kid is calling for me from a different room.  This sounds scary, but it's mostly me covering my behind; spoon-fed babies gag/choke too as it's a necessary reflex!  Babies get better and better at gumming their food and moving it around in their mouthes, so "choking" incidents get farther and fewer in between.  My current baby has barely gagged at all.

3) HAVE YOUR GO-TO FOODS: All my babies' first food was a banana.  Their first few times, I cut a long chunk in half so they could grasp it better, but after a week, I just put a half a banana on the tray.  So, buy lots of bananas!  It's a great way to start each meal and it's a good flavor to mix with other soft foods leftover from your baby's fun.  I also roast a ton of sweet potato spears and broccoli (using either coconut oil or olive oil, and roast until the veggies are very soft).  I end up freezing most of them in smaller bags, and take them out when needed.  I roast the sweet potatoes in their skin because I'm lazy.  I just peel the spear before placing it on the tray--warmed up a bit, of course!

Other foods that are good to have on hand early on in BLW: avocados, rice (packed down into a small cup and turned out, so they can grab it with their little fists), rotisserie chicken (give them a chunk, not little slivers or cubes), non-frosted shredded wheat (around 9 months, I give them this after putting them in milk for a bit, so they're soft), applesauce, etc.  Just a few months in, and they'll be eating whatever you're fixing for dinner.

4) EASE THE MESS: While you're saving money on food, you can afford to buy some bibs with collecting cups or pockets at the bottom, and get a plastic wipeable mat to go under your highchair; these items will make cleaning less time-invasive as BLW is MESSY!  After every feeding, I wipe down everything with a clean, hot cloth dish-rag, starting with the mat on the floor.  I place the mat over the high chair to keep away from other little feet between feedings.  That way, I always know that the mat is clean when I start the next feeding, so I don't feel bad about picking up a tossed spear of food and placing it back on the tray for baby to continue to eat.  Pocketed bibs also help with easing clean up and preserving your baby's clothes.
Baby CJ, nice and messy!

Like every transition, starting your baby on food can be a little nerve-racking at first but diving in and learning as you go is the best way to begin.  Before you know it, your baby will be enjoying the same meals as the rest of the family.  Go for it!

Has anyone else done BLW?  If so, what are some of your tips to share?  If not, do you have any questions?

Sleep-Deprived Rhino

Monday, February 1, 2016

[Fair warning.  It'll seem like I'm complaining a lot in this post.  It's because I am.]

We've all read those news stories of people who go on drug rages.  They're clearly out of their minds, totally not themselves, and destructive like an uncontrollable rhino.

That's me on little sleep.

This is with heavy-duty concealer under my eyes.  
Like most adults, I'm sleep deprived.  However, I've been very, VERY sleep deprived for over a year.  The last six months of my pregnancy, I woke up throughout the night, each night, to charlie horses.  Don't know what those are?  Imagine waking up to the tips of your toes curling back in the wrong direction, your entire shin taunt and cramping.  (Or thighs.  Or calves.)  The only thing that make it stop is jumping out of bed and stretching various ways to release the muscle spasms.  The last three month of pregnancy, in particular, it would happen at least hourly all night long.  They are pretty hellish, but they stop the very day I deliver.

But then, of course, we have a newborn.  And newborns don't "sleep like a baby."

My kids have never been good sleepers.  I am now prepared for this and can deal with knowing my babies won't sleep through the night until 9 or 10 months in.  But what is grossly unfair is that while I am getting up with a baby three or more times a night, we still have our two older kids who have to repeatedly be sleep-trained.  Please tell me we aren't the only ones!

All things considered, I haven't had more than three-four hours of consecutive sleep in at least a year.

I have a very good husband, and we made the deal that I would get up with the baby (who breastfeeds) and Brad would get up with the older two (who share a room).  

The trouble is, the older two wake me up anyway.  The second I hear so much as a whimper in their sleep, my eyes snap open.  Even if my husband gets to the kids right away, I'm lying wide awake in my bed listening to everything that's happening.  No matter who gets up, my brain decides to stay awake for a while.

The last two weeks, Baby D finally started waking up only once or twice a night.  So of course, I had insomnia for two weeks straight and didn't go to bed until 2-3 AM.  My theory is my brain only has time to think when it's time for sleeping.  

It was Friday, the tail end of that two-week bout of not going to bed until 2 or 3.  I finally got to bed at a reasonable hour, falling asleep around midnight without too much insomnia to speak of (yay!).  12:30 AM, and I heard my daughter coughing off and on.  I went in to her room to get her some water and settled her back down.  

Just as I got comfy back in bed, I heard the baby.  He had been sick the night before (up from 3-4:30, struggling to breathe--WHY DO GERMS EXIST?!) and I wanted to ensure he was doing better.  I nursed him and he went back to sleep easily.  I crawled back in bed, my thoughts drifting between dreamland and reality. 

My eyes snap open! 1:30 AM. 4-year old coughing again.  Another water routine.  Back to bed.

1:45 AM. 2-year old crying.  It was the "nightmare cry," so I ran in, trying to get to him before he woke up his sister sleeping above him in the bunk bed.  He took a bit of reassuring, water, and a song, but he went back down.  My mind began to drift again.

2:15 AM. 4-year old was coughing again.  Water and some cough medicine delivered. 

2:30 AM.  4-year old, "I want to go to the bathroom!  I want to go to the bathroom!"  (Yeah, she still wears a diaper at night.)  This time, I poked Brad who moved in slow motion, still in such a deep sleep that he couldn't quite get his head up off the pillow and he spoke intelligibly.  I bolted down the hall, praying the 2-year old still kept sleeping.  My daughter couldn't be convinced to just go potty in her diaper, but my poor judgment won out and I refused to haul her out of bed.  Instead I went back down the hall to the baby who was now up from me thumping down the hallway.

2:45 AM.  I was feeding the baby, CJ was crying hysterically down the hall, and R was now up too.  Brad's shadow appeared in the doorway.  "Oh, I thought you were in there!  Sorry."  I practically shrieked back, "I've already been in there four or five times!  I can't do this anymore.  I can't!"  The poor guy could see the fire in my eyes, hear the near-hysterical voice.  He quickly got CJ to the bathroom right away.  Then the 2-year old also wanted to use the bathroom.  (Yeah, he's not potty trained.)   But Brad helped him do it anyway while I finished up with the baby and got back in bed, fuming.

3:00 AM.  I was the raging rhino.  Instead of sleeping, different scenarios were flying through my mind, some of which included:

 * Going into the kitchen and smashing every plate we own as hard as I could against the floor.
 * Taking the three loads of laundry Brad had folded the night before.  Turning them all upside down and pitching the clothes all over the family room.
 * Running out into the night and screaming all over my neighborhood.

3:30 AM.  I am still seriously considering all these scenarios and more, when I heard the 4-year old again asking to go to the bathroom.  I had a Mommy-tantrum all down the hallway, and whisper-yelled, "GO IN YOUR DIAPER!" followed by a thunderous stomp back to bed.  Yes, it was unsuccessful.   Brad knew I was then about a chin-hair away from a legitimate nervous breakdown, so he again went back in to handle CJ.  And then R.

3:45 AM.  I was still quivering with anger in my bed, muttering under my breath.  My head was pounding so when Brad returned, I asked him to grab me some medicine.

4:15 AM.  Baby D was up again, this time he clearly was not breathing quite well enough.  I brought him to our bed and propped him up on my pillow, so he could breathe better.  I also positioned myself right next to his face so I could feel his every breath, because I was officially a crazy person and convinced he would die in his sleep otherwise.  

4:30-5:00 AM.  Baby D repeatedly patted my face and unintentionally scratched me over and over again.  I halfway loved it and was still over-my-head upset that I was not sleeping yet.  I turn off my alarm set for a 6 AM gym workout.

8:00 AM.  We woke up to the sounds of our kids stirring in the next room.  It was a miracle!  Three solid hours under my belt!  I felt like a different person.  I turned to Brad, marveling that the kids didn't wake up at their usual 7:15 to their light-up clock.  Brad admitted he had taken the clock out of the room during his last visit.  I had never loved him more.

Later that morning, I sheepishly apologized, "Sorry I almost had a nervous breakdown last night!"  Brad responded that he was just happy I hadn't "Zach Braffed it."  In response to my quizzical stare, Brad showed me this video, and we laughed for almost five minutes:

I don't really have a way to end this post, but suggestions are definitely welcome on how to get us all some more sleep!  I'm feeling very close to hiring a babysitter for an afternoon, getting a hotel room, and sleeping just a few blissful hours...

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