Second Baby Gifts

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Lately I have been purchasing a lot of gifts for that second, third and even fourth baby in a family.  I can certainly say that my baby gift giving has changed since having Cora.  I will never buy another baby “outfit” because mamma isn’t going to wrangle baby into a four piece, uncomfortable outfit, to only have baby vomit all over it.  Sleepers all day, every day.

Hands down, I will always buy off the registry for the first baby.  But what about the siblings that follow?

  • Number one thing I have heard is a small gift for the older sibling(s) so they aren’t left out.  Anything that makes note of them being a big sibling is even better-shirt, book, tote bag, activity book, hat or even jewelry.
  • Diapers and wipes.  Advice though-never buy them newborn diapers.
  • Baby Tylenol, Motrin, Orajel, gas drops, diaper rash cream, etc.  All the over the counter things you don’t think about until it is the middle of the night and someone has a fever. Along these same lines- bath lotion, wash, shampoo, etc.
  • Bath toys.  Bath toys get moldy and gross.  Chances are a new round of bath toys would be appreciated.
  • New infant wash cloths and bath towels.  These all get stained, ripped, and just plain tired looking.  A nice, new, fluffy set would make baby happy.
  • Other items that get a bit worn down and could be replaced are bibs and burp rags.
  • Something personalized for new baby.  That way they have something specifically theirs that isn’t a hand me down.
  • If mamma is breast feeding then perhaps she needs new parts for her pump, a new nursing tank, shirt or bra.
  • New pacifiers, bottles, bottle nipples, or bottle brushes.  These things get used and some of it is stuff that you wouldn’t want to reuse.
  • A double stroller!
  • Is there a big item that their first kid destroyed?
  • If it has been several years since their last baby then maybe there is a hot item on the market that you know would make their life easier.
  • Gift cards.  Target, Babies R Us, Amazon, etc.  Then they can just go get what they actually need. May not seem as personal but it is the most practical.
  • Clothing.  This is one you have to be careful with.  If it is a different gender, great, buy!  If it is born opposite season, same gender, ask mamma if there are specific clothing items she needs. Same gender, same season, you are best to spend your money on something else.
  • Something special for Mom.  Spa day gift card, a meal that you can drop off, cleaning services, offer to babysit (and actually do it!) or WINE!

A few items I have heard some mom’s actually cringe over.

  • Blankets. I have to agree with this one.  We were given SO many for Cora.
  • Toys.  Most parents are drowning in these anyways and don’t want anymore.
  • Books.  Especially board books.  Again, drowning in them.
  • Stuffed animals.  These things multiply at night when we aren’t looking.
  • Clothing. Like I said, this goes both ways.

Personally I believe every new baby deserves a gift and something new of their own!

What are your ideas for second, third, fourth baby gifts? What are the things you would never buy?

Parenting: It gets easier

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It is getting easier, this parenting thing.  We are having more good days than bad.  Quieter nights, less teething, eating better, more understanding and more independence in our household.  I don’t second guess myself as much.  All of this makes for a happier and calmer mamma.  I feel like we are getting somewhere.

As we are hitting the 19 month mark (I swear I don’t use months anymore IRL) I feel like we are rounding a serious corner.  Last summer was hard to fully enjoy with a wee one that wasn’t as mobile.  We had to be ultra careful about sun, heat and where the baby was crawling to.  Hell, the summer before that, I was pregnant and that was hard to enjoy anything.  So here we are in a place where she can run around the yard, chase the dog, get in and out of her little pool and I can water the flowers without panic.  We can explore together, play games and she doesn’t get bored at all.  The little energizer bunny just keeps going.

I feel like it is okay to put my feet up, sit back and enjoy those little moments.

Sure we have our toddler fits, which I just walk away from and she gets bored quickly and comes to get me.  Sure she throws a shit load of food on the floor for the dog but damn, she is finally eating her fruits and veges (still no meat) like it is her job. Sure there are days where I just need her to lay down for her nap already because I can’t keep up. I seriously do not have my shit together a lot of days.

BUT…

She talks or signs and answers me when I ask a question so that eliminates a ton of frustration on both our parts.  When she doesn’t know a word she tries so hard to get us to understand. Can I just say how nice it is to have her be able to follow directions? Wait here with the dog so I can grab your bag.  Go get your coat.  Put that in the trash.  She loves to have something to do!  She soaks up everything.  A circle! Yes, we have that down.  What is this? A square! Cool! Half our A,B,S’s…sure! She learns something new everyday and that is pretty cool to watch.

I’m saying, it gets easier.  We are out of the baby phase and are certainly on to the next and I can tell you, I’m grateful.  Sure, the baby phase is sweet and fun but it can be exhausting and it is HARD.  I have held newborn babies lately and was happy to hand them back, no nagging feeling deep down.  Instead I was happy to walk away and my kid just walked next to me.  I have friends who would marinade in that baby phase for life if they could and I say more power to ya!  Us mammas are all built differently!

The older Cora gets though, the more people question us about a second.  My doc brought it up at my yearly appointment last week.  However, we have put the topic away until our January trip. (Aruba!)  Why then? Just a deadline in time. A time when my head will be clear enough to be able to have that conversation revisited with my husband.  I am soaking this up. I’m not ready for the newborn phase again.  I don’t know if or when I will be but right now isn’t it.

How’s the toddler phase in your household?

18 Months

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To the shortest one in the house,

We just started letting you watch Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and you love it.  Just a few minutes in the morning and it helps me get everything ready to go.  The funny thing is you call it the “puppies” show.  You wake up asking for puppies and point to the TV. You don’t sit watching it long but if they yell “Oh toodles!” then you yell it.  When the intro comes on and everyone waves, you wave right back.  At the end you dance your heart out to that hot dog song.

We just broke down and bought an Ipad, not for you but to you know, join the world.  You do enjoy watching puppy and baby videos on there instead of our phones.  Which has always been the only way you will sit still long enough to let us cut your nails.

Can you see the obsession with puppies yet? You and your puppy are two peas in a pod. You really love all dogs except for the neighbors boxer, Bacon, that comes to visit everyday.  You tell him to “home night night!”

You have been really good with your words for awhile now but everyday new ones just fall out.  You have more words than babble at this time and sign right along with it.  Unless of course your Grandparents are over, then you tuck away that signing like they are the ones who need it the least.  But kid, they are the reason you are learning to sign, they can’t hear you:)

You are super into coloring and your favorite color is yellow.  We buy a cheap pack of cards for each holiday and while I make dinner, you sit and color your heart out on those cards.  You also ask for a few stickers to smash in the card and we eventually pick a few friends or family members to mail them to. Sometimes I have caught you randomly licking the cards so that is nice of you.

You are becoming more and more helpful around the house. You know where to put your dirty laundry and that your shoes go next to the door.  You like to pick up your toys and wipe down your high chair when you are done eating.  Don’t even get me started on your love of switching the laundry and vacuuming. I mean, you hug and kiss the vacuum every time we pull it out.  You LOVE that thing.

You are starting to know how to put on your own pants, shoes and socks.  You know where the shirt goes but aren’t quite there yet.  Unfortunately you also know how to take your clothes and diaper off.  You LOVE to be naked and wipe your own bum.  Thank God for onesies.

Recently you discovered dirt and a shovel.  You have decided that you can put a hat on just like daddy and do the things he does.  Be still my heart when you were out there working right next to him, all red cheeks and sweaty hair, stuck with dirt.  You love being outside, thank goodness.  You sit happily in your swing, play fetch with your puppy and pick flowers.

The weather has finally warmed up enough for us to get back to our walks, down the mud road.  It has been a few months since I’ve thrown you in the Ergo and let me tell you, I can’t front carry you any longer.  So with a lot of practice, laughter, and tipping over, I finally got you in the back carry.  I think I need to adjust it more but you seemed fine with it.  You did keep patting my front and trying to climb up on me to get back to the spot you are used to.  Your little feet and legs aren’t ready for our hiking adventures quite yet:)

Every Friday we have swim lessons and you walk into the place like you own it.  Waving at the now familiar faces and going about your routine.  Then, every Monday we have been going out to a place just for you.  The gym, the zoo, children’s museum.  Some sort of kid thing.  You still aren’t good about other kids and you really hate all adults.  You like to stand back and watch kids, maybe wave at them but you aren’t one to join in.  I was the same way.  I was a stand back and watch person so I don’t shove you in to play.  I let you go at your own pace.  But when you do find a friend you like you are quite sweet.  Most of the time you do share your toys and play nicely.

Our food fights come and go.  Something I see be so normal for some families and yet we have a weird struggle.  You don’t eat meat and we live in the Midwest for gosh sakes.  You do have a love for pasta, peas and mandarin oranges.  I can tell you that you swallow those peas whole and you do not chew them.  It is as gross as you think.

Your Daddy is your world and you are realizing he is gone more than home.  Come Monday mornings, you don’t like to accept this fact.  Every time you hear a truck, mower or really anything with an engine, you assume it is Daddy.  You are starting to follow him around and want to help him more.  You let him do all sorts of things with you and you don’t fight him on it.  Examples, changing your diaper, clothes, putting on shoes or really anything.  Sigh.

Your Aunt is your best buddy and when she comes home you are so excited to go downstairs with her and chase the cats around.  You know how to say her name but have decided to call her Aunt Mamma all on your own.  Don’t know where you got this from but it cracks us up.  She pretty much will answer to you no matter what.

You are in 18 months clothing and look to be there for the foreseeable future.  At your 18 month appointment your doctor was quite happy to see you finally making strides in the weight gaining department.  22lbs! You are finally in the 26th percentile! Man, these little things we worry over.

A few weeks ago you fell at Grandmas for the first time and busted open your lip.  You did about 3 seconds of crying, while blood poured out of your mouth, and then realized licking a washcloth is fun.  Two minutes later you were off and running again.  If we make it till you are 3 without an ER visit, I’ll be shocked.

You are also super into buckles right now.  Any and everything you can buckle makes you happy.  Car seat included and you are darn close to getting it unbuckled yourself so that will soon be a problem.  We give you Fenway’s collars to walk around and work with because it is the easiest thing not attached to something.  Well, you try to then attach them back to Fenway which pisses her off.  You have your Dad’s brain when it comes to this stuff and it scares me how quickly you figure out how things work.

You are now a full on toddler, with an opinion and fight for everything. I want you to be a strong willed woman but raising it is a whole different ball game.  It actually surprises me how much I can get down to your level, reason with you and you KNOW what I’m talking about.  I see your brain working on whether or not you then want to follow through with your actions or not.  I have to say this does help, this communication, or I would probably be drinking way more:)

But kid you are our world and I’m truly loving this phase.  For the most part, each day gets easier and I do soak it all up.  I love being able to get you and take you places.  I love watching you learn and explore the world around you from the big things to the little things.  I love seeing you gain preferences for certain things.  More than anything I love watching you become your own little person.  This parent gig is a pretty damn great thing to do with you.

 

Why swim lessons were one of the smartest things I did for my baby this winter

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Before winter set in I had a plan set up to make sure we got our butts out of the house and didn’t just wander Target for hours.  I researched a few places and decided that I would stick not just my baby but myself in swim lessons.  I can swim but she can’t so it becomes a mommy and me thing.  We are on our third session and let me tell you, I freakin love it.  Truly.

Every Friday I load us and our gear in the truck and head into the city for our 30 minutes class.  We chose a place that starts babies as young as 4 months old.  Our class holds up to 7 babies and their mammas.  The locker room is hot as hell but at least your little one doesn’t freeze to death and the pool is kept warmer than your average.  So the worry I had about dunking my kid around in the cold rooms and water after being outside in the cold is not that much of an issue.

The other moms are all really great and very laid back.  Our teacher is a college student who not only knows her shit but my kid will go to her.  If you have read long enough, you know my child doesn’t go to anyone so this is huge! Cora willingly takes her turn with her to practice jumps and to go down the slide.

Before we started, I remember thinking this was probably going to be pointless considering her age but I could not have been more wrong.  We have had some of the same friends in our class since we started and I have seen progress with each and every one of them.  Cora can climb out of the pool on her own, knows how to sit on the side, jump in, go down the slide by herself, knows to hold her breath under water, knows how to blow bubbles, isn’t afraid to be dunked, and last week, for the first time she did her back float by herself. She has such a comfort level in the water that I know it took me forever to gain as a child.

It took me awhile to realize that this isn’t just something to fill our time but something that she will carry with her for the rest of her life.  It is about safety in the long run as well. I’m here to tell you that if you are on the fence about it, do it.  But mamma, you have to shave those legs and keep the bikini line clear for the entire winter because it is always swim suit season when you have to get in the pool as well!

 

 

 

How many kids do you have?

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Yesterday I took Cora to the park and a mother pulled up shortly there after.  Her 8 year old son jumped out, she left the car running and soon followed him.  Eventually Cora realized there was a big kid to follow around and the mother and I started chatting.  She asked how old Cora is, mentioning her 14 year old daughter was sitting in the car.  The daughter, deciding she is to old for such things, would rather sit on her phone.  The mother saying how frustrating it can be and how much she misses the age Cora is now.  How the time flies.

Is Cora your only child?

Pause.

This should be an easy question but it never has been for me.  In the past when it was just Rebecca and I, I would pause.  I would pause because my journey of parenthood isn’t relatable.  Parents ask normal follow up questions that I can’t simply answer without them becoming curious or asking further questions and what was supposed to be mindless chatter then becomes something further.

Here I was, standing with another mother, who had a same age child and we should have been able to share conversation.  She couldn’t relate to me though. I glanced at her daughter sitting in the car and wanted to say “At least she isn’t pregnant.” But instead I glanced away and said “Yes, Cora is my only child.”

It has always been an odd questions for me to answer and part of me feels guilty for just saying this is my only child, digging in the sand.  I’ve lost one little girl to heaven early, I’ve lost another to strange life circumstances and yes, this is my one little.  This mother didn’t care about my motherhood journey though.  She was just making small talk, as our children played, on a beautiful Monday afternoon.

We all have our own parenting struggles, our own journey.  Hell, maybe this mom had one of her own but glossed over it just as I had. Good thing we don’t have our life stories stamped on our foreheads.  There are a million ways motherhood can be tough, this is just one of mine.

Preschool debate

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My sister came home last night and a discussion was started about Kindergarten and what kids will need to know by the end of the school year. She happens to be a preschool Montessori teacher and was commenting on one of her kids going on to a mainstream, public Kindergarten.  The parents expressed concern over what is expected of their child next year and how it compares or does not compare to the type of schooling he has received so far.

I am a bit appalled at the long list of things these kids are required to know before even entering kindergarten.  All of the rules and stipulations.  What happened to simple socialization and learning the basics from a teacher?  All for parents to complain about all of the volunteering and money dumped into it? What happened to kids playing, learning to share, and learning from one another?  When did it become a thing that a kid has to exit kindergarten knowing how to write a novel and have basic algebra down?  Okay, maybe I’m being drastic but hear me out.

My sister and I have had several conversations before about public schools versus Montessori teaching and other methods. I can tell you from mother to teacher there are a lot of things we don’t agree on.  Slowly I have come to realize that my husband and I are really going to have to start sorting out our feelings on an education direction with our little one.  Quite frankly I find it to be a bit overwhelming on what to do for those first few years.

It’s not that I’m even worried about her keeping up in school.  Our pediatrician has had conversations with us about Cora being a few steps ahead of the curve for her age. Our doctor has just suggested we keep up not with her age but with where she is developmentally.  So if she needs to do things a 24 month old does instead of her 18 month age, then do that.  So we do that.  But does that mean we put her in the early preschools that start as soon as 2 years of age?  And what does she gain out of it that I can’t just do for her at home?  OR why the heck do I even need to do preschool?  Again, why can’t we continue our learning and socialization at home and with her part-time daycare till its time for kindergarten?  Why are parents so hell bent on preschool?

Don’t even get me started on the discussions I have had with my public school teacher friends.  I get why people start homeschooling.

I guess it comes down to this for me.  I’m not ready for the world of schooling yet.  Your kid is only little so long and only at home for so long before they go out into the big world.  Hell, my own mother kept my brother back one extra year because she wasn’t ready to send her baby to preschool.  I’m not so sure what the hurry is and what preschool offers my kid that I can’t provide in the real, everyday world.  It seems childhood gets shortened a little more with each generation and I want her to enjoy it as much as possible.  Once she starts school, that is it.  It is the same as becoming an adult and getting your first job, exciting day one but then you realize that is it, there is no going back.

I honestly didn’t think I would have so many all over the board feelings about this.  I honestly thought I would send my kid to preschool when the time was appropriate and get on with it.

So what are your thoughts and experiences?

Easter Weekend

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We don’t normally go into Easter weekend with any grand ideas or plans.  Our childhood family traditions have died away and we tend to just wing it each year.  Even my Catholic self has let go of the pressure of going to mass.  I don’t go any other Sunday, why fake it?  I’m fine with it all to be honest.  The normal holiday season (Thanksgiving, Christmas, etc) is stuffed full of tradition, a million plans and commitments and each year it gets more difficult.  Easter has this way of sneaking up on us and being a bit more relaxed.

For the first time in several weekends, my husband was around for the whole weekend.  The weather looked to be warm and perfect.  The only plans we had were for my in-laws to come to dinner on Sunday.  Friday night I let Cora sit in her high chair and dye eggs.  I didn’t care about the mess or doing anything perfect.  We dunked her in the tub when she was done and put her to bed.  Cracked but colorful eggs drying on the counter.

We found ourselves, with Cora, lazily running errands on Saturday.  No hurry, no rush, no excitement.  A lazy lunch, letting her run crazy at Babies R Us to pick out new stuff, a trip to Home Depot where we bought everything we didn’t plan on and we let other families rush around us at Target while we picked out our own dinner items I had yet to really plan for.

Sunday morning, there was no rush for much of anything.  In fact, Cora was still asleep at 8:30, which has never happened. It caused the hubs to go in and wake her up because he started worrying.  The mamma in me knew better than to wake a sleeping child so I just sat and enjoyed my coffee.  Cora finally came out and played with the little Easter basket of goodies we put together for her.  We pulled on clothes and headed out in the beautiful morning to plant the trees we bought on a whim the day before.  We taught Cora how to dig up the earth, hold slimy worms and put it all back just a little bit better than how we started.  Five new trees now lined our backyard and I felt a bit closer to God in that moment than I think I would have in church.

I made the full meal of ham, potato’s, corn….etc. We sat with the in-laws, drank wine, cleaned up, let the baby run and collect eggs scattered in the yard. She napped, we sat in the sun, we invited friends over, we sat around the fire-pit, we watched the sun go down, put the baby to bed, poured more wine, laughed and enjoyed the evening.

It was an unplanned weekend with zero expectations but it became the holiday weekend full of memories that I can never replace.  I’m learning more and more that if I just let go of that need to create perfection, it will just find me.  I can do that quite often but I do struggle around any holiday, especially since having Cora.  I want her to have the memories that I hold dear from my own childhood.  But traditions and memories can’t always be forced, some times they just have to happen.

I can tell you, this weekend, I often took a step back and really looked at my life.  The safety of our home, a great husband, a healthy kiddo, and a kick ass dog.  I saw it in those moments when I stood with my husband, outside, and watched a huge storm roll in through the night sky.  I saw it when my daughter ran between us, and explored all the landscaping at Home Depot.  I saw it as friends popped in for a drink and a sit down around the fire as the stars exploded around us.  It is during those little moments of life that we truly live and I’m so grateful for it.

I hope you all had a great Easter weekend!

Living safely versus living bigger

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My husband came home last night and looked defeated.  We sat and discussed what was going on with his job.  The issues that have come up.  A normal ebb and flow to a  company but sometimes it wears you down and this is what is happening to him.  He is loyal to his boss but at what point do take a leap for yourself?

We are finally at this place in our life where things are good.  Settled.  Calm.  We have a nice home, a good marriage, a healthy baby, a house full of love and laughter, supportive family, our bills get paid each month, we vacation a bit each year and we each have job security.  We don’t have much to complain about honestly and are very grateful to be at this place in our life.

So as I looked at him last night I thought about what it meant to be comfortable and living versus getting out of our comfort zone and living greater.  I’m not saying going sky-diving or moving to India but what is next for us?  Are we the type that are totally fine just coasting now or are we ready for our next adventure?

We have been moving fast since the day we met and we made this decision to slow down once we had Cora.  We wanted to enjoy this time with her but the baby phase is quickly giving way to the toddler phase and we are suddenly faced with a new reality.  What does the next several years of our life look like?  What is next on our list?  His busy season at work is already starting and he never saw Cora last week during the week.  That will happen again this week.  His body slows down a little more each year from the physical demands and the grueling schedule leaves me taking care of everything else.  Do we just stay with this because it works?  Because it pays the bills?  Because he is good at it?

or…..

Well, we don’t know what the alternative is.  Over the years he has thrown around ideas for other career possibilities. We know we may or may not want another kid.  We know we want to build on more land.  We know our list of places to travel grows each day.  We know we may not stay in the Midwest for forever.  We know we want to keep things exciting instead of complacent.  We know we don’t want to miss out on something great because we have fear.  We know we don’t want to get in the habit of just getting through each week instead of living more in each day.

In the quiet of our peaceful kitchen, where I could just say leave things as they are, I told my husband to shake it up a bit if he wants.  I told him we should start thinking outside the box and if we have to take a leap of faith to do that then I feel like now is a good time to do that.

Basically we don’t feel like this is it. If that makes sense.

We feel ready for a new chapter that seems to be a blank page staring back at us.  It may not be written in the next month or even in this year but we plan on starting it.