Thursday, June 6, 2013

Our First Family Vacation was a Success!

Our happy family.
If you're friends with me on Facebook then I'm sure you're aware by all of my picture uploading that we had a fantastic time in Gulf Shores. It was truly a great first family vacation.

If you remember from one of my earlier posts, I was really nervous about making this 9 hour drive with Sophie. But, I'm happy to report that she did fantastic! We did as planned and left around her bedtime on that Saturday night. We loaded up the car, then put her in last while she was already groggy and ready to sleep. And she slept almost the entire way! She woke up only once when we were about half way there, stayed up for about an hour, then went right back to sleep. And the whole hour she was awake she sat quietly in her car seat, which if you know my daughter, that never happens! And on the way back she did just as well, sleeping again almost the entire way.

However, part of this may be attributed to the fact that we had to give her some Benadryl. Sophie mysteriously came down with hives on the Friday afternoon before we were set to leave, and I was freaking out. I got her in the Dr. and he gave us an oral steroid to give to her and recommended we use Benadryl for the itching. So before we left on Saturday we gave her a dose, and then again at the half way point. However, on the way back her hives were cleared up and she actually fell asleep on her own while in the car. She woke up only once when we stopped to get gas, and went right back to sleep. So I think even without the Benadryl she would have slept the whole way there on her own.

Needless to say, I strongly recommend to other parents who are embarking on their first long car trip with a child to leave at night! Hopefully, you'll have as easy of an experience as we did.

Not only did Sophie do remarkably well on the drive down and back, but she was also very pleasant for the majority of the trip. The only issue we really ran into was she fought her naps while we were gone. However, in her defense, she had to sleep in her pack-n-play in a noisy house full of people, when she's used to her crib and complete silence. But, with a little fight, we were able to get her down for a nap each afternoon and she went down pretty smoothly at night.

Going into this trip I didn't know what to expect, so naturally I expected the worst, and I was pleasantly surprised by how smoothly most of it went. The only other little hiccup we had was Sophie was not a super big fan of the beach. She liked it the first two days we were there, then she was kind of over it. It was really windy the whole time we were there, which I think is what she didn't like. So we tried to do other things besides just go to the beach. We went to the little zoo they had there twice (it was a really neat zoo), and to a small amusement park that was just down the street from our house. She enjoyed both activities very much. At the amusement park I was shocked she actually rode some of the kiddie rides all by herself! I thought surely she wasn't big enough for that, and she'd want her momma or daddy with her, but we put her in it and she was happy as a clam! I'm not going to lie, this actually made me a little sad. My baby is growing up!

Also while we were gone, she picked up several new words! She is talking up a storm now, even more than before we left. I'd say this was due in part to the fact that she was stuck in a house full of loud talking people chatting constantly for a week. (My sisters and I like to talk.) But, I was so proud of her for learning so much in such a short time. While we were gone she learned to say: eat, 'side (her attempt to say outside), sleep, bed, night night, go, oh, nay (it's what horses say) and several other words.

Coming back from this trip, I realized that my baby is getting so big. Every day she learns something new and I swear the kid is getting taller all the time. I'm certain she'll be taller than momma one day. I stay in a constant state of amazement by this child of mine. I'm amazed that this beautiful, intelligent, charming little girl belongs to us. I'm so thankful for each day with her, and I feel that Chase and I truly lucked out when God gave her to us. She is tempered and a little stubborn, she loves to be the center of attention, and has the most contagious laugh. We're absolutely smitten. :-)
Of course I could never get a picture of her smiling.
Riding on a ride all by herself. My big girl. :)

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

On Putting Yourself First

As a mother, I am a firm believer in taking care of yourself first and foremost. If you are not well, be it physically or mentally, then you are no help to anyone else, let alone your husband or child(ren).

I was very sick over the weekend. I came down with a high fever on Saturday afternoon and felt awful. It didn't get better on Sunday, so I went to the clinic inside Walmart to see what was wrong. Come to find out, I had an ear infection. I was surprised; I couldn't tell you the last time I'd had an ear infection. I think I was probably around 2 or 3 years old. At the clinic they loaded me up with medication and sent me home with instructions to feel better. And that was what I intended to do.

So, I spent the remainder of Mother's Day resting and trying to get over this infection. However, come Monday, I was no better and had to miss work. My lovely mother came in the morning and got Sophie and took her to the sitter's so I could rest. And rest I did. I think I slept more that day than I was actually awake. But the combination of lots of rest and meds did the trick, and I was feeling better and able to return to work on Tuesday.

During those 2 1/2 days that I was sick, I did nothing but focus on myself and getting well. I didn't feed Sophie, play with her, or give her a bath like I normally do. I left Chase in charge of all those things, and knew he'd be more than capable of handling it. Because, luckily for me, I have an amazing husband who is an active and present parent. We co-parent Sophie; everything is 50/50. I can honestly say, neither one of us does more than the other. So I knew when I needed him, he would be willing and able to step up and take over my half, while I recovered.

However, the point of this post is not that I was sick and my husband helped out. The point is, I felt no guilt (or very little) for putting it all on him for those few days, so that I could focus on getting myself well. This brings me to the larger point I'm trying to get at: Mothers need to stop putting themselves, and especially their health, on the back burner. The most important thing a mother can do for her family is take care of herself. Trust me, your family loves you, and wants you to be healthy. So if you are one of those moms who is too busy to go to the doctor when you're sick, runs herself ragged, only focuses on her husband and child's wellbeing and not her own, then I ask you to stop right now, and put yourself first!

I read some inspiring words from another blogger today on this same subject. She is a cancer survivor and a soon to be mother of three. Here is some of her advice on motherhood and putting your health first, that I'd like to share. As a mother who faced a life threatening illness, and won, I find her beyond inspiring.

"As mothers, we owe it to our children to do whatever we can to be here for them as long as possible. Taking care of ourselves is the best gift we can give our families. You know how I feel about the importance of maintaining mom mental health (date nights, kid-free time with friends, wine) and the same goes for our physical wellbeing. We need to go to the doctor, to get regular checkups, to follow up on any weird hunches, to get rest, eat well, exercise and, if we can, take whatever measures possible to cut our cancer risks. Because I can tell you, being a mom and having cancer is not a good combination."- Erin Zammett Ruddy

She wrote this blog post in reaction to the recent news that Angelina Jolie underwent a preventative double mastectomy after finding out that she had an 87% chance of developing breast cancer at some point in her life. Angelina went public with this news by writing about it in an op ed piece for The New York Times. Regardless of your opinions on Angelina, it was a remarkable thing for her to do this surgery for her family's sake, and to share it so openly with the public, in an effort to spread awareness to other women across the world. If you have not read her article, I highly suggest you do. Here's a link to it:

I hope this post gives you moms who aren't taking care of yourselves, the kick in the pants you need to start putting your health first. :-)

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Who Knew Playtime Would be So Challenging?

I always assumed that, once Sophie reached a certain age, she'd start playing by herself. I envisioned her sitting quietly on her own, playing happily with one of her gazillion toys, while I got to do my own thing. However, this has not been the case for us (so far at least). And after 16 months of being her main source of entertainment 24/7, this momma is ready for a break!

Instead of playing contently on her own, Sophie demands constant interaction from both me and Chase. She might play by herself for a few minutes, but then she's right back to being stuck to our sides. I love that she wants to interact with us, but it makes it nearly impossible to accomplish anything, like say cook dinner, when she's constantly pulling on my leg for me to pick her up, or throwing a fit because I'm not stopping what I'm doing to entertain her.

Don't get me wrong, I love playing with Sophie, but sometimes there are other things that I need to do, or I just want a few minutes to sit and watch a little TV or read a book. Those are the moments I wish she could play independently, even just for a little while.

This gets worse on rainy days, which we've been having a lot of lately. On rainy days I can't take her outside and let her run around, or do chalk with her in the driveway, or take her for a walk. No, on rainy days we are stuck in the house and she is looking to me to fill the long, boring hours of the day. I don't know why we even bothered to buy her so many toys for her birthday and Christmas; the kid has a playroom full of toys she hardly plays with. There are maybe a handful that she likes to play with for say five minutes, then she's done, and looking at me or Chase to entertain her.

Now, just so you don't think we're terrible parents, we have done lots of fun things with Sophie. Recently, we've went to the park, taken her on her first trip to the zoo, and attended her first spring carnival. We love to get her out of the house as much as possible, and do fun things with her, which is much easier to do when the weather cooperates.

However, for the days we can't get out of the house and mommy and daddy need to get a few things done, or just want to relax, I wish she could, you know-- just play! Can anyone else relate to this? Do you have any ideas for how to get her to play by herself for a little while? I should mention, Sophie does not watch TV. Not because we don't allow it, but because she just doesn't want to, which I think is a good thing, but that puts us at a disadvantage because we can never turn to the TV like so many other parents do when they need a break for a few minutes.

I don't know, maybe I'm asking too much of a 16 month old? All I know is I would like to have 10-15 minutes to do laundry, cook dinner, talk to my husband without being interrupted, zone out, etc., without a toddler pulling on my shirt or throwing a fit because I'm not giving her my undivided attention.

I recently read a really good blog post on this very subject, but it was referring to this problem in older children. Here's the link to it if you'd like to check it out: Sometimes I worry if I don't start teaching Sophie how to entertain herself now, she won't be able to do it when she's older either. I really want to break the habit now, before it becomes a real problem.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Favorite Children's Books

There are so many great children's books out there. I am slowly, but steadily adding to Sophie's collection, and I'd like to share some of our favorites so far.

Reading before bed has become a nightly routine for us, one that I very much enjoy. When I first started trying to read to Sophie she wasn't all that interested. But, now that she's a little older, and has a longer attention span, she loves it! Every night at 8:00 p.m. sharp the TV goes off and Sophie and I sit on the living room floor and gather up all of our favorite books to read. She plops down in my lap, usually holding her ever-present blankey, and I read to her. She sits quietly, listening to me, and occasionally she'll point out what she sees on the pages-- "Ducky!!" It's so sweet. :-) Here are our favorites.
  1. Love You Forever, by Robert Munsch (A classic, and still my personal favorite.)
  2. A Potty For Me, by Karen Katz (I bought this one for her so we could introduce the potty subject and start to prepare her for when potty training begins. And she surprisingly loves it.)
  3. Good Night, My Love, by Sandra Magsamen
  4. I Love You Through and Through, by Bernadette Rossetti Shustak
  5. Where is Baby's Belly Button?, by Karen Katz (She makes really good lift-the-flap books.)
  6. Are You My Mommy?, by Kait Eaton
  7. Ten, Nine, Eight, by Molly Bang
Do you and your little one have a favorite book? Please share. Sophie and I are always open to suggestions. :-)

Friday, March 29, 2013

A Few of My Favorite Things...

Sometimes on rainy, dreary days like today I like to sit and think of a few of my favorite things to brighten up my day. Here's my list:
  • A warm cup of coffee
  • Comfy pajamas
  • Laying on the couch snuggled under a soft throw blanket
  • The sweet quiet that comes along with having the house to myself (This rarely happens these days, which makes me cherish it even more.)
  • A good book
  • Hearing a favorite song on the radio
  • The smell of Sophie's hair after she's just had a bath...heavenly :-)
  • Holding hands with my husband
  • Comfort food (lately its been spaghetti and meatballs)
  • Yoga (It relaxes and rejuvenates me. Wish I could do it more often.)
Sometimes it's the little things. Happy Friday everyone! What's on your list?

P.S.- Hope you all have a great Easter! We're determined to have Sophie's first Easter egg hunt on Sunday, rain or shine! :-)

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Things You Should Do Before Having Kids

Don't get me wrong, having a child is absolutely wonderful, and I wouldn't change being a mom for anything in the world. However, with that being said, there are a few things I wish I had done, or done more of, before I had Sophie. Because let's be honest, some things just aren't the same once you have a kid. So, if you are contemplating having a baby in the near future I recommend doing these things first, before you get preggers.

1. Sleep in and take naps often.
I'm sure you've heard this one, but it's true, once the baby is here sleep will become scarce, especially in the beginning. If you're lucky you'll sleep when the baby sleeps, but it won't be like it was before, when you could sleep late and take a nap whenever you wanted to.
(Full disclosure: I can't complain too much about this one. Sophie usually sleeps in until 9:00 am on the weekends. She's also a pretty good napper, and I sometimes still nap when she does, so it could be worse for me. I really feel for the mamas whose babies wake up at 6 am every day!)

2. Pamper yourself as much as possible.
Take a long bubble bath, get a massage, go for a mani pedi, do whatever it is that relaxes you, and do it as often as possible. There will be little time/money for those luxuries once the baby is here.

3. Read/watch movies.
If you enjoy reading books or watching movies, do it now. Once the baby is here fitting in the time to read gets harder, and finding sitters to go to the movies can be a chore. Even watching movies at home gets more difficult, because you'll have to wait until your child's bedtime, that is if you want to actually be able to pay attention to the movie.
(Sidenote: If you have TV shows you want to be able to keep up with once baby is here, I highly recommend you get DVR. That way you can record your favorite shows, and watch them when baby's asleep.)

4. Do a sexy photo shoot.
This is something I never had the desire to do before I had Sophie. However, now that I have had a child and my body is not the same as it was, and never will be, I wish I had. It would be nice to be able to look back and say, "Man, I used to look like that!" Plus, I'm sure your hubby would appreciate it. ;)

5. Travel
Not saying you can never travel once baby is here, but it will be harder with a baby in tow. And trips will definitely be less frequent. Is there somewhere you've always wanted to go? Go there now!

Sure, having a child can make your life more challenging at times, but it also makes it so much more rewarding. So please don't take this post as a negative comment on life after kids. I just wanted to let wanna-be parents know what they should take advantage of, while they still have the chance. :-)

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Reads and Recommends

This post is dedicated to some of the great finds I have come across on the World Wide Web recently. I'm sharing with you all on the off chance you may find them interesting as well. Here you go.

I loved this article It's such a sweet, insightful, poignant piece about a mother of older children reflecting back on when they were younger. Having a small child myself, I found it very interesting to see what advice she gave to her younger mom self.

I found this It's a collection of photographs taken by 14 photographers of their own children as they see them. They're absolutely beautiful.

Here is a story about a fun young couple living in New York City with their two year old son. The dad decided to take him on an adventure in the city where they acted out the scenes in one of his favorite storybooks. Such a cool idea.

I love this idea of turning your kid's artwork into a keepsake book. How cool is that?! Sophie hasn't really started producing any artwork yet (she just scribbles), but when she does I would love to do this.

This is a really funny, honest account of some of the down sides of being pregnant. I could totally relate to her cravings for sushi and margaritas, crazy hormones, and feeling like a whale. For those of you who have been pregnant before, and know how it is, this is a fun read.

That's all I've got. Until next time. :-)