1.31.2013

CM: real mom confessions

My latest piece from Connected Mom. Anything to confess?

~~~~~~~~~~

My good friend and momspiration, Elise, recently did a post on her True Confessions. They were great. So honest, and so damn spot on! So, here are my real mom confessions:

Source

1. I consider it a parenting success that my daughter loves Edward Sharpe and the Magnificent Zeros, and calls Home "her song." Similarly, I was a little annoyed when she loved a CD of kitschy children's songs we were gifted (don't worry, I didn't share my annoyance with her!).

2. I do my best to get Gwen to eat a good variety of foods... but nights are rushed to begin with, so if she's begging for pasta, again, sometimes its just easier to eat pasta. Again. But we always have a fruit or veggie too.

3. I love spending time with my daughter, love playing games with her, but when she breaks out the blocks, I pray she asks her dad to help instead of me. I can only "build another house, Mommy" so many times before I just don't want to build another house! I've also hidden books once or twice after we read them 20 times in a row.

4. My husband is much better at the crafting stuff then me too. I'm a little terrified of the mess it would create if we pulled out paint together. 

5. Being married after having a baby(s) is hard. I love my husband, but parenting together is the hardest thing we've ever done.

6. I save way too many of those scribbley pictures that she brings home from daycare.

7. If its a choice between cleaning the house or playing with my girl, I will always chose the later. Yes, my house is messy.

8. I hate hearing that she gave my husband a hard time on a night that I'm out (for work or yoga), but part of me loves hearing how much she missed me. She gets bigger every day, its nice to be needed. And yes, I need those nights to do "me things" too. I don't feel guilty about that.

9. That whiny voice makes me want to pull my hair out.

10. I hope that we can be as close as we are now when she is 16 and beyond. I will always be the mom first, but that doesn't mean I can't want to be a confidant, an enjoyed companion, and yes, a friend, as well.


What are your mom confessions?



1.29.2013

cough

The weekend was nice and low-key. An impromptu trip to my parents on Saturday (while Trav had a guys day/night), then a relaxed morning Sunday before meeting Trav for lunch. Monday was a normal day. Today however, oh boy, today more then made up for the laziness of the past few days with its craziness.

After waking with a fever, Gwen earned herself a day home with Mama... which turned into a trip to the doctor's once her breathing became much faster and "harder work." Two nebulizer treatments got her pulsox reading back up to 95, which got us out of the office... but not without a prescrip for prednisone, instructions to use her inhaler (from her last resp infection), orders for benadryl before bedtime, and lots of rest and relaxation. She's been asleep since 7, and I really hope she feels a lot better in the morning after the first dose of prednisone has had a chance to kick in.

My poor baby, I really hate when she's sick.

Tomorrow is Trav's turn for a day of snuggling and reading, snuggling and napping, and snuggling while watching a little too much Disney Jr.! Some soup, homemade popsicles, and hopefully a walk in the Mei Tai should help too.

Fingers crossed for my girl please.

1.25.2013

back and forth

I so often find myself going back and forth, back and forth, in my emotions and specifically my frustration levels when it comes to this life of mine. There are so very many things for which I am beyond grateful, so many ways that I am blessed. My family, is the biggest and brightest of those. But I am also not unaware that the roof over our heads is something to be thankful for daily. That the food on our table, good food that is healthy and tasty and plentiful, is a luxury that others struggle for. I am so glad that my daughter won't know hunger. I'm so glad that, while we aren't wealthy by any means, we are stable and secure and have a cushion.

When you landed here today, on this little place I call my virtual home, you probably noticed it was changed again. A new background, a new banner, probably at some point today and bit of a rearranged layout. I did this last night in a bid for control! A need for change that was wholly and completely in my hands. There are big things in my life now that I want to change so desperately that I spend the dark hours of the night exploring how the old decisions in my life could have been done differently to lead me to a different "now" then I'm actually in. Silly and pointless and ultimately doesn't make me feel a smidge better.

I find the joy in everyday life, I have happy days and some overwhelmingly gratifying weeks (like last week!), but I have these things that feel like looming clouds waiting in the wings for the night to come so they can swoop down on me and smother me in the quiet dark. Well, that was very dramatic. Lets cut down on wordiness and just say that they are always in the back of my mind, and annoyingly apt at needling their way in upon my happy thoughts. Its hard to escape them when one of them is the job you spend 8 hours a day at, plus commute, and the other is the house you come home to.

I don't think its so crazy of me to want the things that I want. A job that I find some joy in, some reward. A house that I love, in a location that I appreciate. Its frustrating that both things are, at the moment, largely out of my control to change. (I'm glad I can be honest here, since otherwise, I largely keep it to myself.)

I suppose what is in my control is my focus, and so I'll practice aligning my focus on the positive.

This morning.

1.23.2013

ketchup

Wednesday already. Work has been busy enough lately to speed by, which is nice. A three-day weekend this week, which was also nice.

Saturday was pretty lazy, but Sunday we headed to one of Gwen's friend's birthday party. Her favorite part was all the balloons:



So jealous of their gorgeous kitchen.

That night we went out to dinner. Unfortunately it seems the flu vaccine that Gwen got on Friday finally caught up with her, and she spent dinner laying on my chest and not wanting to eat. We got her home and got her to bed, and thankfully she was back to normal Monday morning.

I got Trav and Gwen out the door, then I headed to NJ to see this little man and his mama:


I can't believe that Eddan is almost 2 months already, and so "talkative."

video


I headed home late afternoon, hit up the grocery store, then home to make this wonderfulness:


Pesto topped Steak (instead of olives, I did mine as an Almond, Basil, and Parsley pesto) with a Roasted Potato and Fennel side (AMAZING). I absolutely love all the good homemade food we've been eating lately. So does the rest of the family.


Hopefully we can keep it up.

And that's about it. Its cold as heck here, but we're just plugging along (albeit in a few more layers then normal).

1.17.2013

CM: fears

This is my most recent post from Connected Mom. I wrote it a week or so ago, and its tone is MUCH different from how I'm feeling now. Please, be gentle with me, I'm feeling fragile about it.

~~~~~~

Everyone has things in life that they fear. As parents, some of those naturally involve your child(ren). When Gwen was born, I was struck with the incredible realization that I was in charge of this little life. That her thriving or failing, rested on my shoulders. The responsibility was heady and terrifying.

It still is. I worry about feeding her the right things, getting her outside enough, keeping her strong and healthy. I worry about sickness or accident taking one of us from the other. More so though, I worry about the way this world is changing. I swear that the world has gotten scarier since my innocent babe came into it. Bullying, drugs, violence... they have always been around, but maybe because of the influence of social media, these bad things seem so much bigger and badder now then when I was a child.

Source: PostSecret
During our day-to-day, I am happy and in the moment. I keep my fears in check, definitely keeping them out of her sight. At night though, sometimes I lay there, and I feel them wash over me. My sweet, innocent, loving child. I know I can't protect her, life needs to be lived fully. That means broken hearts, fights with friends, and people who just don't like you. I know that, but still I wonder... will she make friends easily, or will she be lonely? Will she be picked on? Will she even be safe in her school?

These thoughts break my heart. When I was in high school you had to worry about someone starting rumors about you (bad enough), now you have to worry about someone posting something online that can be seen by thousands and will be there forever. And heaven knows I shouldn't have to worry about if my baby will come home from school, but more and more that has become a scary reality of our times.

Why am I sharing this? No reason, except that I couldn't keep it inside anymore. I want hand holding and hair petting and reassuring words. Except that I know there are none to offer. In which case, I can only hope for a little commiseration, and maybe some hope.

What are your biggest fears?



If you find that your fears become overwhelming, making it hard to live your day-to-day life, please talk to your doctor. Fear is normal, anxiety that disrupts your life is not. Postpartum Anxiety is real, and it can be helped.



1.16.2013

forgetting the what ifs and just being in the now

So many days its easy to spend your time on the what ifs, and the thoughts of wish it were, and the bouts of why not me. So often we can get stuck on the frustrating bits, hung up on what is wrong with the picture, and miss the rest of the beauty.

Then there are weeks like this one. I just feel... good. Content. On stride.

Our mornings have been easy (Trav even let me sleep in yesterday since I worked from home), I've had patience with Gwen, I did lots of great cooking for meals for the week and to freeze (the chicken corn chowder, lasagna, and chicken spinach roll ups with the leftover lasagna noodles), and I've been busy enough at work to have the days pass quickly. Plus yoga last night was so great.

Yoga, let me talk about that for a minute here. Slowly, but surely, I'm getting back all that flexibility I used to have, but lost post-college. I'm learning the positions, gaining strength and balance, and while not exactly as I wish it would be, my body feels healthy and capable. I love it. I really, truly, love it.

This, all of the above, deserves to be documented just as much as the trials, the tribulations, and the day-to-day "this is what we did." Surely, soon enough, I'll get caught up in one frustration or another. But right here, right now, I'm relishing the good.

1.15.2013

finally hitting a stride

For much of this month, I've felt like we weren't quite back to normal. But finally, finally, this weekend seemed to help me get back right. I'm not sure what it was, maybe moving our dining room table back where its supposed to be, the flurry of cleaning and putting away I did on Sunday, or maybe it was just that Gwen seemed more settled too; but whatever the cause, I'm happy that the effect was a more centered me. While I've come to the conclusion that no matter how much I sleep, I will never feel rested at 5:30 - 6 a.m., Monday morning (after my shower) I actually felt energize and ready to take on the week (a feeling Gwen seemed to share, as it was one of the easiest mornings in memory!). A good thing too, since work yesterday was busy busy.

I still feel the need for a good week off of work with nothing on my plate but cleaning, paring down, and reorganizing... but as that isn't going to happen anytime soon, I'll do what I can in doses, and just enjoy what has been done. 

So, this weekend! Saturday we hit up my parents. I had a hair appointment, and Gwen enjoyed playing with her Nonnie and Papa. Trav was a Willy's again for more cleaning, what a process. After our trip home, I got some quiet time to read, since this happened:


Sunday we headed into the city to the Academy of Natural Sciences. There were tons of animal displays, a section on dinosaurs, and a butterfly room. 



Gwen had a great time. She especially loved the area where you could dig for fossils.




It was a fun way to kill a few hours.


That night I finally got a insatiable urge to be in the kitchen. I feel like I finally "woke up" in the kitchen, which was a relief after a few weeks of having no inspiration/ideas for cooking, and therefore some very boring menus. For dinner we tried a green curry sauce from Taste of Thai that we really enjoy over chicken and rice, then after Gwen went to bed I set about putting together a chicken corn chowder (enough for two meals this week, plus I froze enough for a meal plus a side). It was pretty easy, and damn delicious (chicken, corn, bacon, chicken broth, cream, wine, carrots, bay and rosemary... mmmm). I think I like it even more then my last hardy corn chowder!

I also gathered the ingredients for a batch of lasagna (which will be portioned and frozen, to be taken out as needed), so this is shaping up to be a pretty tasty week!

Hopefully your week is a tasty one as well!

1.14.2013

Holiday Recovery

Welcome to the January 2013 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Recovering from the Holidays  

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have written about how their families get back to normal after the holidays are over.

***

Gwen and I love spending time together, and when we have extra days off, we enjoy it all. We also love the holidays, and this Christmas was especially fun, given how much more she "got it" this year.  But the change in routine, the complete break from her normal schedule, and the absence of her friends for 5 days for Christmas, then 4 more for New Years, with only 3 days in between was hard for her. Especially when throwing in the additional excitement factor of Christmas! and visiting with Nonnie, Papa, and Uncle Epie! and Santa! and Auntie Babs! and an extra late night!

By the end our girl was a little cranky, a little crazy, and would alternate between "I don't want to play with you, I want my friends," and, "I don't want to go back to school, why do you have to go to work?!"

On top of that, by New Years, our house was quite a mess. The tree pushes the dining room table over, which means half the chairs are just shoved against the wall, and while we tried not to go overboard, we still haven't found great places for all the gifts.

But now it is January, and time for a return to a semblance of normalcy!

First up, we returned to our regular schedule... the tried and true one that we set by following our daughters cues, the one that gets us all out the door when we need to be, eating dinner when we need to be, and in bed in time to get the sleep we need. It involves weaning her from the too much TV we ended up watching by the end of our little "winter break." Which leads me to...

Secondly, laying on the patience thick. She's overwhelmed, overtired, over TVed. We have been and will continue to gently remind her of how we do things normally, and try to be understanding when we need to remind her again 90 seconds later.

To help all this along, we took down the Christmas decorations. No more rearranged dining room, no more chairs all over the place, and even if the presents don't all have permanent places at this moment, they at least are now all neatly arranged on a formerly empty shelf.

I think these worked as Gwen is already asking about when Santa is coming back!
Oh baby, Mama needs those 343 more days!!


***

Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting this March!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

  • Pinterest Inspiration for Easier Winter Holidays Shannon, writing at Natural Parents Network, shares inspiration for having more relaxed winter holidays from their Handmade Holidays Pinterest board.
  • Seven Recipes for Beans - Post Holiday Cleaning — Destany at They Are All of Me shares her favorite bean recipes that she hopes will help her body recover from overindulging her sweet tooth during the holidays.
  • The Recovery in the Change — Laura at Pug in the Kitchen made changes in her life and attitude throughout 2012 and was pleasantly surprised at how those changes impacted her holiday recovery!
  • Could this question change your life for ever? — To get your new year off on the right footing, Mrs Green of Little Green Blog is challenging us all to love ourselves with commitment and discipline. She asks you to focus on a simple question which might just bring you back in balance...
  • Holiday Recovery — Meegs at A New Day talks about how the holidays can be overwhelming for a toddler, and how she's helping her 3 year old recover.
  • 5 Ways to Detox After the Holidays — Brittany at The Pistachio Project gives a few ways to help you detox and get back on track after the holiday season has passed.
  • 3 Simple Ways to Establishing Rhythm After the Holidays or Any Time — Sheila at A Living Family shares 3 simple ways to reestablish a rhythm of connection and calm in your family after holidays, visitors, travel or any time.
  • Gemstones For Holiday Hangoverss — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama delves into the power of gemstones as an often overlooked means of dealing with the holiday letdown.
  • Getting back to Healthy — Bess at A Warrior Mom talks about the struggle of getting young ones back to eating healthy after several days to weeks of getting more candy and sweets than normal for the holidays and gives some suggestions on how to get them back to eating healthy in the new year.
  • Post Christmas Juice Feast — Sam at Love Parenting explains why she has created a new tradition of juice feasting, and how she includes her toddler when detoxing.
  • The Java Monkey On My Back — Christy at Eco Journey in the Burbs realizes it is time to kick her cup of Joe habit as a first step toward detoxing.
  • Minimalist Holidays — Jorje of Momma Jorje doesn't find much need for recovery after her minimalist version of the holidays.
  • Do something for you — Lauren at Hobo Mama urges you to find a silly and indulgent reward of me-time — and she has hers.
  • do we recover? — Kenna at Million Tiny Things wonders what recovery really means in the context of the tragedies of this past holiday season.
  • 37 Easy Ways to Save Money — Shannon at GrowingSlower is sharing these money-saving tips to help get your budget back on track after the holidays.
  • A Two Year Old's ResolutionsThat Mama Gretchen is putting the holidays behind her with a spin on traditional resolutions — New Year's goals for her two-year-old! Sound crazy? Read on for an explanation!
  • How to Find Balance after the Holidays — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now tells her favorite ways to start a new year with hope and calmness.
  • Fresh Awakening — For Luschka at Diary of a First Child, the new year has coincided with a return to restful nights. With sleep, she's found new directions in life, but while she can't make too many changes to her life right now, she's inspired and excited about the future.
  • Learning to slow down after a busy Festive Season Stoneageparent describes the joys and lows of this year's festive season, as well as her New Year's resolutions.
  • Detoxing' Your Toddler After the Holidays — Does your family suffer side effects from the holidays? Join Christine from African Babies Don't Cry to learn how she detoxed herself and her toddler off the treats and festivities of the season.
  • Scheduling is OK! — Jaye Anne at Wide Awake, Half Asleep explores the possibilities of the — SCHEDULE!!
  • We're Saving their First Christmas for Next Time — Mercedes at Project Procrastinot takes it easy after moving with her husband and new babies to Scotland.
  • A Vacation from the World — Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children retreats with her family at the end of every year in order to recuperate and enjoy one another.
  • On the Road to Recovery — Dionna at Code Name: Mama isn't just recovering from the holidays, she's recovering from a lifestyle.
  • We Never Left the GrindErika Gebhardt compares a typical day pre-holidays and post-holidays.
  • Remembering and Recovering from the Holidays (One day at a time) — Emily at S.A.H.M i AM is recovering from holidays slowly--taking one day at a time--while trying to remember all the sweet moments that passed too quickly.
  • 5 a Day — To get back on track Jennifer at True Confessions of a Real Mommy needed a simple system to help her family learn new values.
  • Holiday Detox & Healing: Bieler Broth — Megan at The Boho Mama shares her secret for a gentle, whole-foods-based post-holiday detox: Bieler Broth!
  • I'm Mama Not Supermom — After a year filled with changes Angela at EarthMamas World has to remind herself that she does not have to be supermom while recovering from the holiday chaos.

1.11.2013

tgif

I'm so glad that its Friday. This week was long, and I'm tired. Had a great lunch out with one of my girlfriends, which was a lot of fun and broke up the day nicely, but it was a big lunch and I think it made me even more tired. So I tired that I left one of the most important checks out of the deposit earlier, so now I get to make a second run to the bank.

Have I mentioned how tired I am?

I think Gwen was feeling the length of the week too. She was alternately amazingly loving and sweet, and talking like such a little adult! And whining, fussing, and being a royal pain in the rear. Thankfully we have fun, but very low-key things planned for this weekend. I plan to kick it off by going to bed early.

Less then an hour to go. Hope your weekend is lovely!

1.10.2013

Randoms

Random annoyance:
Thinking of selling my old 3gs, so was going to wipe it clean. Took a look though and realized I have 300+ songs on my old phone and only 100+ on my new one. They are all the mp3s I had on our old computer, which I imported to my old phone, but they aren't on our current computer. Even though I completely backed up my old phone and restored from there, they aren't there. Other then trying to pull out all my old CDs and ripping all the songs again, any suggestions tech savvy friends?


Random laugh:
Recent web search that somehow lead to my blog, "boobs in hockey window"
I daresay they were disappointed when they got here. 

1.09.2013

stream of consciousness

I'm working from home today, which is always a nice break. Over lunch I ran out to grab something from the home depot, and realized I'd been sitting in the dark for hours because I forgot to open the damn blinds. Oops. Not that there was too much sun to be had today.

My trip out was interesting though, since I had to buy the stupidest thing (a replacement plastic tube for our toilet paper holder), and was already dressed in my yoga clothes with hair haphazardly pulled back from my face wearing my (fake) fur edged coat. Kind of felt ridiculous.

I'm so glad I'm going to yoga tonight though. With the holidays, and the abnormal work schedules the pass few weeks, I haven't been since before Christmas. My pants will thank me for getting back to it. And for laying off the holiday style treatfest that I've been indulging in. Makes me extra grateful for the pumpkin, fennel, and leek soup defrosting right now for my dinner. I love getting something warm, filling, full of veggies, and delicious in my belly. 

Hope you have a warm, filling, and maybe delicious evening too.   :-) 

1.07.2013

back to normal

This is the first 5 day week we've had in almost a month. Its going to be a long one, I'm sure, but it feels good to get back to a normal routine! This morning went much better then last week's mornings were going, so that's a good sign that Gwen is read for a normal routine too.

This weekend was a good transitional one though. Ethan and his fiance, Elise, came down to stay with us Friday so I could drop Elise off at the airport on Saturday afternoon. Gwen loves her Uncle Epie and was a little clown for him.

video

I hit up my Ridley Creek Clean Up on Saturday morning, which was nice, since I'd missed a few months in there because of all the holiday hoopla and other events. Nothing feels better then pairing with a few other people to remove a fallen tree!  ::insert a satisfied grunt here:: 

Sunday was equally productive. While we didn't get the Christmas stuff put away, by the time I went to bed last night every bed in the house was freshly made, all the floors were vacuumed, the dog had been given a good brushing (which will hopefully help the vacuuming to last more then a day!), there were freshly baked brownies on my counter, and we were all wearing clean PJs. There is nothing better then wearing clean PJs before falling asleep on your clean sheets.

Meanwhile, the Christmas decorations are slowly congregating by the tree, meaning that my dining room looks like it belongs in a Griswold's movie. Oops.

Gwen is being weaned down from the too many movies that she got used to watching during all those vacation days. Soon we should be back to an episode of Sesame Street in the morning, and nothing else during the week. Its a good thing, she definitely gets crazier when she's watched too much TV.

For now, time to finish off my busy Monday.

1.03.2013

CM: Attachment Parenting Throughout the Ages

This is my most recent post for Connected Mom, a longer one on what it means to be an "AP Mama" for the long haul. Looking beyond the breasts, beds, and babyslings! I'm pretty pleased with it, so I hope you enjoy it. Let me know what you think. 

~~~~

The end of the year is a great time to reflect on what has been, but its also a great time to look ahead. Today, on this last day of 2012, I'm choosing to look years ahead. I was/am blessed to have a Mama that provides an amazing example of what AP can be long after the baby years. I wanted to share that forward perspective with all Connected Mom readers. Here's wishing you a beautiful 2013.

When someone mentions Attachment Parenting, the thing that pops into most people's minds first are breastfeeding, babywearing, and bedsharing. However, as Valerie has pointed out before... AP is more then just breasts, beds, and babyslings! You can do all of those things and not think of yourself as AP, or do none while proudly wearing the label. Not to mention, that while the years when those three things are even an option are fleeting, being AP is something most people can continue for the duration of your baby's childhood, and can even be carried over into the rest of your life. Basically, those particular actions are not the core of AP, nor are they the most lasting of its principles! I do all three, proudly wear the AP label, but see myself as an AP mom for the long haul, and not just until our boob, bed, and babysling days are over! Let's review the 8 principles*:


1. Prepare for Pregnancy, Birth, and Parenting
Become emotionally and physically prepared for pregnancy and birth. Research available options for healthcare providers and birthing environments, and become informed about routine newborn care. Continuously educate yourself about developmental stages of childhood, setting realistic expectations and remaining flexible.
At first glance, this principle seems to be a one time thing. However, the continuous education of the parent on developmental stages of childhood, and the setting of realistic expectations is an ongoing process that lasts through the child becoming an adult. It is one that is long lasting, and during those frustrating toddler... and teenage years!... is one that is so important for a peaceful household! 

2. Feed with Love and Respect
Breastfeeding is the optimal way to satisfy an infant's nutritional and emotional needs. "Bottle Nursing" adapts breastfeeding behaviors to bottle-feeding to help initiate a secure attachment. Follow the feeding cues for both infants and children, encouraging them to eat when they are hungry and stop when they are full. Offer healthy food choices and model healthy eating behavior.
Ah-ha, you say! Here it is... breastfeeding! But read it again. Yes, "breast is best" but as long as you are feeding your child in a way that follows their cues, and is done in a way to deliver emotional sustenance along with physical nutrition, then feed the way that works best for your family! Once solid foods are introduced, continue to feed in a way that is best for your child, offering healthy options and demonstrating a healthy relationship with food. I think its easy to see how this one can last a lifetime. 

3. Respond with Sensitivity
Build the foundation of trust and empathy beginning in infancy. Tune in to what your child is communicating to you, then respond consistently and appropriately. Babies cannot be expected to self-soothe, they need calm, loving, empathetic parents to help them learn to regulate their emotions. Respond sensitively to a child who is hurting or expressing strong emotion, and share in their joy.
From the beginning we try to understand what our babies are trying to tell us. A newborn/infant has only its cry to tell us that it needs something. It is up to us to take the time to listen to them, and respond in a way that is comforting, and shows them they can trust us. They learn we are there for them by us being consistent, and they learn they can come to us with anything by us being sensitive to what they show us. As they get older, our responses grow and change with them, but the level of sensitivity we show should not diminish. Their anger, their fears, their joys, and their excitement... they are trusting us with these emotions, and we should react accordingly. 

One of my favorite quotes about responding to your child is from Catherine M. Wallace, and it says, "Listen earnestly to anything [your children] want to tell you, no matter what. If you don't listen eagerly to the little stuff when they are little, they won't tell you the big stuff when they are big, because to them all of it has always been big stuff."

4. Use Nurturing Touch
Touch meets a baby's needs for physical contact, affection, security, stimulation, and movement. Skin-to-skin contact is especially effective, such as during breastfeeding, bathing, or massage. Carrying or babywearing also meets this need while on the go. Hugs, snuggling, back rubs, massage, and physical play help meet this need in older children.
Babywearing! There it is! But again, I'm sure you notice, it is a single word in a paragraph of ideas. So I'll just say this... Hug your babies. Hug them when they are newborns, hug them when they are toddlers, hug them when they are kids, and especially hug them when they are teenagers. Then, hug them when they are adults too. We all need affection in this form, don't be stingy with it, and don't hold it back as your babies become big kids.

5. Ensure Safe Sleep, Physically and Emotionally
Babies and children have needs at night just as they do during the day; from hunger, loneliness, and fear, to feeling too hot or too cold. They rely on parents to soothe them and help them regulate their intense emotions. Sleep training techniques can have detrimental physiological and psychological effects. Safe co-sleeping has benefits to both babies and parents.
Bedsharing** can be so rewarding (when done safely!), co-sleeping has amazing benefits, but good sleep is is unique to ever family. Babies do great in the parent's room when they are new to this world, listening to your breathing, close at hand for easy soothing. Whether that is in your bed, in a co-sleeper or in a pack'n'play nearby. As your baby grows, their needs will change, but their need for you, during the night, might not. 

On a personal note, Gwen was not a great sleeper for a very long time. She bedshared with us for the first few months, then transitioned to her crib for most of the night followed by a few hours with us in the morning. We needed that transition, as much as I love sleeping next to my baby, we all (Gwen included) sleep BIG! Moving, and taking up a lot of room, and it was leading us all to get less then stellar sleep. But she transitioned easily. It was all going pretty well when we went away on vacation at 6 months and her sleep went straight to hell! We were told we had to sleep train her, or she would "never sleep through the night." I'm a firm believer that her need for me, her need for consistent loving response, does not end just because the sun goes down. So, we did not sleep train. I followed her lead, listened to her needs, and gave her gentle direction when the opportunity arose. She now sleeps very well, and she still enjoys an hour or so of sleep in the "big bed" in the mornings. 

Arguably, this is the shortest lasting of the principles. However its importance in the beginning is so big, and can be very long lasting. 

6. Provide Consistent and Loving Care
Babies and young children have an intense need for the physical presence of a consistent, loving, responsive caregiver: ideally a parent. If it becomes necessary, choose an alternate caregiver who has formed a bond with the child and who cares for him in a way that strengthens the attachment relationship. Keep schedules flexible, and minimize stress and fear during short separations.
A scenario for you: Everyday you report to work at the same time, follow your same morning routine, take lunch at noon, follow your same afternoon routine, then clock out at 5. Yet some days your boss is full of praise for your work, and other days he screams at you for being lazy. You would start to dread work... not knowing what was waiting for you. But if you change that around, and replace that boss with one that reacted in a calm, consistent manner, providing constructive criticism as needed, well you would probably be a lot happier about reporting to work. You would know what was in store for you, and would even be able to take the admonishment in a much more positive way, and be more open to learning from it. 

Now obviously babies and toddlers do not offer the same consistency to us that you offered to your boss in that scenario; but ideally, we would all rather be boss #2 then boss #1! Be consistent in your actions towards your child, and when leaving them with someone else, be sure that they will be consistent with their care as well. As your toddler learns and grows, repetition and consistency are the key to encouraging them to grow in ways that work for everyone. This applies to every age though. If you child knows what to expect from you, there will be less need to push boundaries, or test limits (note I said less, not none!). While the practice of it evolves and changes, the principles stay the same. Act consistently, and act with love. 

7. Practice Positive Discipline
Positive discipline helps a child develop a conscience guided by his own internal discipline and compassion for others. Discipline that is empathetic, loving, and respectful strengthens the connection between parent and child. Rather than reacting to behavior, discover the needs leading to the behavior. Communicate and craft solutions together while keeping everyone's dignity intact.
This one is the most self explanatory when it comes to continuing throughout the stages of a child's life. This is also one that I find is the most of a "work in progress" for me. Whether you are dealing with a toddler or an equally rational teenager, show your child that they are not a lesser then member of the family, but a fully loved member. We teach our daughter respect, by modelling respect. That means explaining our reasons, understanding and empathizing with their disappointments, and encouraging natural consequences. We don't hit or berate our child, or tell her that she is bad, instead we teach that we all make mistakes, and that those mistakes have consequences, but we can learn from them together and come out closer. 

8. Strive for Balance in Personal and Family Life
It is easier to be emotionally responsive when you feel in balance. Create a support network, set realistic goals, put people before things, and don't be afraid to say "no". Recognize individual needs within the family and meet them to the greatest extent possible without compromising your physical and emotional health. Be creative, have fun with parenting, and take time to care for yourself. 
Once a week I head out to yoga. My husband does the nighttime routine without me, and Gwen is asleep before I get home. I love our nighttime routine, but I've come to love this night away from it too. It is time for me to stretch my body and mind, and recharge myself as a whole person, not just as Mama. The hugs I get the next morning let me know that I was missed, but the stories she tells me about what they ate for dinner and what books they read before bed let me know that they had a great time and it was okay that I went. The fact that I have more patience lets me know that it was more then okay that I went... it was a benefit to all of us. 

Finding balance doesn't mean you have to go out, but it does involve looking at what makes you tick as a person outside of your attachments to your little ones, and making time for those passions. This is a principle that applies whether you are AP or not, whether you are a parent or not! Everyone needs to find balance in their life, fulfillment in multiple areas, and it is something that can be so hard to come by. But especially when you are working to pour so much of yourself into your babies, it is essential to find time to refuel. 


Gwen is getting bigger and bigger everyday. We already babywear less and less, now only pulling the Mei Tai or the wraps out for things like hiking or long walks with a tired girl. Breastfeeding is only 2x a day now, and sometimes even less then that, and I know that soon enough she won't need that anymore. But I am an AP Mama now, and an AP Mama I'll remain. When she is 5, or 15, or 25, I will still seek to parent Gwen in a gentle way that respects her individuality and adjusts to her current stage of development.



* As taken from Attachment Parenting International.
**  Rachelle gave a great overview of the difference between bedsharing and cosleeping, here.



1.02.2013

Making the Most of our Long Weekend

2013 is finally here, and with it the return to our normal routines and schedules.While I love the extra time off, and the extra time together around the holidays, the disruption can be a bit stressful in its own right.

But we fit lots into our long weekend. I'm going to save you from my wordiness, and share it mostly in pictures.

Doggie distraction.


Friday was a half-day for me, and tattoo day for myself and Babs.




I'm so excited about tattoo #9! It was to celebrate over 25 years of best friendship. We have an old joke ("You're sitting on your Mint!"), so we got these cute mints to make us laugh.


It was great to see my girl.

Saturday we finally got some real SNOW! Babs had to take off because she was worried about getting home later if the snow kept up. Gwen, Trav, Daisy, and I got dressed and took advantage though.





Afterwards we made some hot chocolate, popped in a movie, and warmed up together.



Sunday was pretty lazy. I headed to the Quaker Meeting, then we all went grocery shopping. 

Lily came too, thank goodness for double carts.


Monday was a girls' day while daddy was at work.



We hit up the store, the library, and had lots of silly time. That night we headed to Ro and Pat's for NYE. We figured, since it was a special night, we'd let Gwen stay up a little late. Well she apparently got a second wind at some point, and we couldn't settle her enough to fall asleep until almost 11pm!! We headed home just after midnight.

Tuesday Gwen slept in until about 9am, thank goodness. We had a lazy morning, then Trav headed to Pappy's to do some cleaning. They decided to see the house in the spring, so he figured he'd start trying to straighten it up a bit. Gwen and I hit up the tennis courts for some tricycle riding time.

video

Then Auntie Babs came by again to hang out and have dinner with us. I think Gwen was pretty pleased about that.  :-)





Gwen ended up sleeping (in her crib, without waking to come to bed with us) until 7 this morning, which was very nice! She clearly still needed the sleep, and we were grateful for it too.

Now its back to work and daycare, and getting out schedules back on track.

Welcome 2013!!