Thursday, May 31, 2012

Waging War: Waking Early from Naps and How We Fix It

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Okay, so that title might be slightly dramatic but it feels like it's war right now. Caroline has hit a milestone: fighting naps. Riley went through it, and I honestly think almost all babies do. I'm sure they go through this stage at different ages, for different reasons, and for different lengths of time. Regardless, it isn't fun for mommies. Right now I'm extremely thankful that I took the time to write a couple of blog posts about the battles I had when Riley was fighting sleep. I do remember some of the tactics I used to resolve the issues, but I didn't remember the specifics until I went back and reread some posts on the old blog. As I was reading the posts, memories came flooding back.

Here's what I do to win, and hopefully cure, daytime sleep issues (at least for a while). First, I let both of mine fall asleep our normal way. If you choose to let your baby fuss or cry, do it. If you rock him to sleep, rock away. The falling asleep part is something you'll have to figure out for yourself. The issue I'm worried about isn't falling asleep it's staying asleep. When your little one gets to sleep, go in the room and watch your baby and the clock. If she's waking early during every nap, you'll probably find that it's at the same number of minutes into the nap each time (with a couple minute deviance here and there).

Right before your baby wakes up in the middle of her nap, you will notice that she'll begin to stir. If you time it right, patting your baby or holding her arms and legs firmly so that she can't startle herself awake should help her transition to the next sleep cycle. With Riley, it took two and a half long, frustrating weeks to "teach" her to get through the cycles on her own. It was well worth the time and agony (again, slightly dramatic word choice) of sitting by her crib for every nap in order to have a baby who napped well. Thankfully, Riley definitely stirred about the same time every nap. I would set a timer and get a few things done during the good stretch of sleep and make sure I got to her bedside in enough time to help her stay asleep. 

I'm hoping that this process doesn't take quite as long with Caroline as it did with Riley. It's a little more difficult to sit by the crib for a couple hours here and there throughout the day with a toddler running around and vying for my attention. Thankfully, Riley is pretty content to sit quietly in my nap while I rock her and wait for Caroline's jolts or playing on the bed with her babies (Caroline either sleeps in her pack-n-play in our room or the crib in the girls' shared room).

All in all, I probably would let my kids sleep when they wanted to if I hadn't done so much reading and research on the importance of infant sleep when I was pregnant with Riley. The studies that I read pretty much made me a baby sleep nazi. I'm willing to sacrifice my day (and a somewhat clean house) to help my kids get the sleep that they need. If that means sitting by a crib for hours a day, so be it. It paid off in the long run with Riley, and I'm confident it will with sweet Caroline, as well.

Not So Wordless Wednesday

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After church on Sunday, David was having a car wash at church with the youth to help the kids earn money for summer trips. Not really wanting to take the girls to lunch by myself (or head to the grocery store so close to nap time - my only other option), my good friend Esther went to lunch with the girls and me. 
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After lunch, Esther came over to "play" before the evening service since her husband was grading papers. Riley was so happy to see her when she woke up from her nap.
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She couldn't even keep her feet on the ground she was so excited. 
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One of my oldest friends, Esther and I go back about 20 years. I'm so thankful for the good Christian friends that the Lord has blessed me with. I'm thankful for friends like Esther who go way back, I'm thankful for friends like Cindy who answer question after question about child training, and I'm thankful for friends like Lynn who listen to me rant when I feel like I "stink at life." I could go on and on telling you which friends I'm thankful for, but for now, we'll stick to three. 
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The three of us worked diligently on this puzzle. We discovered two things. 1) It's dumb to do a puzzle on rugs, regardless of how cute they are. 2) There are two pieces missing to my US puzzle. I'm not sure if those pieces are somewhere in one of Riley's toy stashes or if they've been gone since my teaching days. I suppose time will tell: maybe they'll show up in one of my toy purges. 
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As always, Caroline was sitting by eagerly watching us. She's 11 weeks old already, can you believe it? Before we know it, she'll be joining right in the fun.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

A Few of My Favorite Things - Baby Edition

Am I the only person that has scenes from The Sound of Music flashing through my mind right now? Specifically the "when the dog bites" line when Maria wraps herself in the curtains and has the  "I should make the children clothes from these ugly drapes" revelation.

Anyways, when I was pregnant with Caroline, I went through all of Riley's hand-me-downs. Sometimes, I had a difficult time remembering what was useful at each stage. So that we don't go through the same problem if we should have a third Brown baby, I'm going to jot down what we found useful during the first two months. I'm pretty sure most people won't be all that interested in this, but I want to have a record for the future.

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Since we didn't have any major nursing issues, we used pacifiers from very early on. Both of my girls preferred Avent Free Flow Pacifiers over any others we tried. 

I love the Aden + Anais swaddle blankets. They are a great size, light weight, and adorable. I have used them for swaddling and so much more (they make great nursing covers because they're so big!).


Yep, that's a hair dryer. Before we had kids, a man at our church was telling us that his daughter used one of these to calm her newborn baby. At the time, I smiled politely and on the inside thought, That's odd. When Riley seemed to be having what many call the witching hour, the conversation I'd had popped into my mind. Willing to try just about anything, I grabbed the hair dryer, plugged it in and put it near Riley. It worked! Riley could be in the middle of a full blown melt down and she would be asleep within seconds. It was amazing. 

If you're going to be using this method for any length of time, you probably should try picking up a noise machine like this one or an app for your phone. I use the free Sleep Machine app on my iPhone for when we're out and about. Having your hair dryer plugged in all the time is definitely not the best idea in the world. According to the google "research" I did, it apparently costs $0.21 to run a dryer for an hour... that would definitely add up if you were running it as much as we did when Riley was a baby.


We've definitely found gas drops to be a necessity! Both of our girlies have been quite gassy (rivaling my brother and his friends for sound and smell). These drops definitely seemed to help them in that department. I didn't find Gripe Water to be nearly as effective at anything except stopping hiccups. 

While those are a few of the necessities, these two items are things we've really enjoyed but could definitely survive without. 

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I love the monthly onesie stickers I purchased from Little Baby Bumblebee on Etsy. If you're not familiar with them, they're just a translucent sticker you slap on a white onesie. There are the cutest designs for girls and boys (I espeically love the stick on ties with the months written on them) and I think they'd make a fantastic baby gift. 

I also love the Canon 50 mm (1.8) lens. After I got my DSLR, I read review after review on this lens and decided to go for it (I actually paid for it mainly with Amazon gift cards I'd won through Swagbucks). I haven't removed it from my camera since it came in the mail. It's perfect for taking shots of my kids - I love the crispness of whatever is in focus and the blurriness of what's in the background. 

Now that I've thoroughly bored you with a list of items I've loved using for my babies, I will end here. I could probably keep going for two days. I always appreciated reading posts about baby items that were useful (or not)... I'll have to do a post on the items we definitely didn't need sometime. That list could prove to be quite lengthy.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Caroline's 2 Month Update

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While this post is very late in coming, the photos were actually taken right after Caroline turned two months old. It's amazing how much she has grown in her short little life. The change between one month and two is amazing. Here's a little bit of what's going on in the life of Caroline:
  • In the sleep department, things are still going well. Caroline goes to bed around 9 or 9:30 and sleeps until 6:30 or 7:00. At that point, I feed her and she goes back down until 9:30. 
  • Caroline generally eats every 3 hours. Every once in a while she wants to eat a little bit early or sleeps a little past the three hour mark. I work hard to keep the three hour schedule. I did the same thing with Riley and I'm convinced that has contributed to my good sleeping babies. 
  • We've still got a puker on our hands. We've started calling her Mt. Vesuvius because she erupts so very often. Poor little thing is often stripped down to the diaper (or "nakey, nakey" as her big sister calls it) throughout the day so I don't have to change her outfit 37 times. 
  • Caroline is a smiley girl. She's also started cooing. Interestingly, I think I'm better at getting the smiles and David's better at getting her to chat. 
  • I'm happy to announce that Caroline has moved up the baby ladder. She no longer thinks that pooping is her full-time job. She's decided she's going to continue to spit up on a regular basis, though. She apparently feels she should stick to what she does best. 
  • Caroline smiles at Riley quite a bit, which is amazing for me to watch. Riley enjoys her sister for a few minutes, but then she wants to be off and playing. I go back and forth between really looking forward to the time when Caroline will be able to follow Riley around and play with her to wanting to keep her a cuddly baby forever. 
As always, we're enjoying our girls. God has blessed me more than I deserve and I definitely thank Him for two happy, healthy babies.


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Saturday, May 26, 2012

Preschool at Home - Week 6

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First of all, I can't believe we've been doing our preschool activities for 6 weeks. Time is passing entirely too quickly these days. I can remember my parents discussing how quickly the days go by and thinking it was funny; now I completely understand where they were coming from. I'm hoping they're wrong when they tell me it was just yesterday that I was Riley's age. I'm hoping it seems like 50 years before I have a daughter who's married with kids.

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This week's topic was plants. Our letter was P, color was green, and shape was a rectangle. As I type that, I now realize that we didn't do any shape activities; we might just have to stick with the same theme for another week. Our Bible verse was John 15:5a: I am the vine. I think that verse was a bad choice because Riley now thinks she is the vine.

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On Monday, we discussed seeds as well as planted an herb garden and grass "heads" (I have no idea what else to call them, but we decorated a cup with faces and planted grass that grew into hair). Our grass is now a couple inches long and our sweet basil is beginning to sprout. Riley enjoyed handling the potting mix: she helped me fill the containers and mixed the grass seeds into it. We also did some crafts with poppy seeds. Unfortunately, I don't have any photos of those projects. 

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Riley and I also talked about what plants need to grow. She can tell you that they need "water and sunshine." David also started talking to her about what she needs to grow. If you ask her, she'll tell you "food and bed." We had a conversation about plants having roots, but I know she didn't get that. Next week we'll have to pull some weeds so she can see a real example. We made a fingerprint carrot picture to go along with these concepts.

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Riley loves making footprints (she always says "that's funny!" or "it tickles!" when her foot is being painted), so we also made a carrot by painting her toes green and the sole orange. Each week, I really try to incorporate activities that she will love. Let's face it, my 26 month old doesn't care what plants need to be healthy; but she does enjoy getting her hands dirty and finger painting. I'm hoping that by combining facts with fun, she'll retain at least a little of what we're talking about.

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A couple of days this week, we went outside and looked at and talked about plants. We talked about how the grass is a plant, a tree is a plant, and a flower is a plant. We looked for animals that might live in the plants (birds in trees, bugs in grass, etc.). We even picked a few weeds  beautiful flowers in the back yard. Riley is into any activities that involve being outside; this girl would live in our yard if I let her.

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Let me close this week's post by saying this: I know Riley isn't mastering everything we're talking about. Thankfully, that's not the point. My goal is to build background so that when these topics come up later on her educational journey, she'll have something to build upon. I think some of my friends might think I'm a little bit crazy for talking to Riley about all the things I do (they probably would think I'm insane if they heard my deep conversations with Caroline throughout the day). Whenever I have the chance, I encourage them to do the same. That's how kids learn.






PhotobucketLasso the Moon
 
Saturday Show and Tell at Cheerios & Lattes
Saturday Show and Share at I Can Teach My Child

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Not So Wordless Wednesday

I know it isn't summer yet, but it certainly feels like it most days here in sunny Florida. Yesterday, the thermometer in my car said 92˚. That's kind of warm for the middle of May. It's been cooling off pretty nicely in the evenings, though. I walked four relatively fast miles with a group of friends last night and barely broke a sweat. 

Anyways, we took this year's first trip to the pool today with a couple families from church. Riley had a great time splashing, eating goldfish, and running around the pool. Schools aren't out yet around here, so we basically had the place to ourselves. I do feel sorry for the lady trying to get some sun and enjoy her book; it couldn't have been too relaxing for her. 

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She was saying "Goldfish!!" rather than cheese.
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I love how Caden's looking at her as if to say, What's wrong with this kid?
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we're pretty sure "Big Elijah" is her current favorite person in the world

We're hoping this is the first of many enjoyable pool days with friends this summer!



Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Belated Mother's Day

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And no, my husband didn't forget. Since we were traveling and spending the day with David's mom, we decided to put off our own Mother's Day festivities until we got home. Yesterday, David hinted that we would be doing something special after Caroline's well visit today. What I didn't know was that he was going to bring me home beautiful flowers and a card (complete with Caroline's footprint and Riley's handprint!). We had a late lunch at Sonny's (one of my favorites) and I even got to make a quick Hobby Lobby run - a new one just opened in our area. I think we need to add Hobby Lobby as a category in the budget.

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While in the store browsing, I saw this transfer. I guess this means that I'll never be as good a mom as my own. The bows I wore as a kid were massive (at least that's how I remember them). I used to hate them, but now I find myself wishing we had saved them all since I had one in every color. Also, the dreaded side part and bow? Riley rocks that look almost all the time. I'm definitely eating some words that I spoke many years ago.

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I can't let a Mother's Day post go by without bragging on my own mom a little bit. I have definitely been blessed in the parent department. If there's any mother who put her children first in every aspect of life and devoted all her time and attention to her kids, it would be my mom. She set a great example of a wife and mother. My mom gives of herself without expecting anything in return and I thank God for her. 

Monday, May 21, 2012

Photos & Funnies Catch up

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Funnies:
  • With her wallet and "phone" in hand, Riley says goodbye. I ask her where she's going. "I going to Carpet, Mommy." Carpet = Target. 
  • After Riley tossed her shoes in the front seat of the car, I asked her what she was doing. In the middle of my scolding: "Be patient, Mommy!" 
  • In the middle of Face Time-ing (if you're not familiar with it, it's like Skype for iPhones) with my parents: "Put them (my parents) on the table." 
  • When we were at Chick-fil-A with some friends, there was an employee dressed as a cow. Riley was petrified of him! One day we were driving on the car and she was "on the phone." I could hear her talking: "There was a tow at if-il-A and I was sad." 

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Preschool at Home Weeks 4 & 5

With all that's been going on around here (my brother's commissioning and graduation, costume party and baby shower at church, and an unexpected trip to Alabama), preschool temporarily got pushed to the back burner. Due to the chaotic schedule, we stuck with birds for three whole weeks. On the up side, Riley said her verse (For by him all things were created... Colossians 1:16a) all by herself on Thursday night. I actually missed it, but David and Riley gave me a call to give me the good news.

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Even though it took a few weeks to get to everything, we did fun activities and had some good discussions about birds. Riley has seen a bird's nest in the tree in my parents' front yard (complete with eggs and all), but I'm not sure she actually remembered much about it. We didn't find a nest this week, but we did "make" one. As we glued our branches, leaves, and yarn to the paper plate, we talked about how birds build their homes. Our nest definitely doesn't look very authentic, but we found it fun. Also, I'm not sure that there are any birds that lay pinkish orange eggs, but Riley enjoyed painting with those colors. Any time we're painting with another color, she is constantly saying something like, "How 'bout pink, Mommy?"

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Riley knew about birds flying in the sky, but we reviewed that topic, as well. She had a great time gluing the cotton ball clouds on her blue construction paper. I don't think it's the most adorable craft in the world, but I'm finding that the cute activities aren't necessarily the ones Riley enjoys best... too bad for me.

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My favorite craft this week was our handprint peacock. I was inspired by this idea, and we changed it up a little bit to suit our fancy. We mixed our colors, put handprints in a fan shape around the page, and used Riley's heel (and a little bit of her foot) to make the "body." Riley then used an eraser to make the colorful dots on the bird's feathers. The last step was adding a beak (scraps from earlier projects) and drawing legs and eyes.

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The most difficult part of this project was getting a decent picture to share.  Seventy-four pictures later (Thank the Lord for digital cameras!), we finally had a couple good ones. This one is my favorite blooper: "It's like a bib, Mommy!"

The schedule is looking less chaotic than it has in the past few weeks, so hopefully our little preschool will be back on track next week.


 
Saturday Show and Tell at Cheerios & Lattes
Saturday Show and Share at I Can Teach My Child