Disclosure:This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Levana. The opinions and text are all mine.
Sleep when they sleep. These words are spoken no less than ten thousand time to every expecting parent, and it truly is great advice. Except for that part where you still need to shower, work, cook, take care of the house, and you know, get on with life. That's where the art of working through nap time comes in.
I never know exactly how long I'll have while the little one snoozes, so I make it a point to pack every moment of his sweet sweet slumber to the gills. I treat nap time sort of like bonus time. I might use it to catch up on work, catch a much needed shower, grab a bite to eat, prep our evening meal, or even sneak in a quick craft project.
...And sometimes I spend his nap on the couch binge watching trashy tv shows.
Anyway, however you choose to make use of those precious napping hours, having a great baby monitor is key. Being able to check on your little pumpkin without actually opening the bedroom door allows you to go about your nap time tasks with your mind at ease.
I was given the Willow™ 5” HD Touchscreen PTZ Video Baby Monitor to check out in advance of this blog post and I can honestly say that I was impressed. The camera has a high definition camera with pan, tilt zoom, and night vision - perfect for babies or toddlers that move around a lot as they sleep. The camera is extremely quiet too, so you don't have to worry about its motor waking your little one if you do choose to adjust the camera angle.
It's also incredibly helpful when checking on toddlers who are out of the crib. Since we moved C into a twin bed (mostly for mama's comfort, to tell you the truth) he's had the freedom to get up and get into pretty much anything and everything. Being able to swivel the camera around the room (and zoom!) lets me see what he's up to. If he's quietly reading books, I can snag an extra ten minutes of mama time before going to get him. If he's scaling the walls, I can intervene right away. It's pretty flipping awesome.
Besides being great for simply watching little ones, the Willow also comes with a ton of really cool extras like built-in feeding and nap timers, a temperature sensor, Talk to Baby™ or Parent Two-Way Communication, and the ability to play nature sounds and lullabies. The monitor uses a 5" touch screen, making it super easy to set up, operate, and customize features.
The 500 foot transmission range and 12-hour battery life of the monitor is also a big plus for busy parents. It gives you the freedom to move all over the house while staying in range. Not having to worry about plugging the monitor in as you go about your nap time tasks makes a world of difference. I can tote my monitor from the kitchen as I formulate recipes, out to the sun room to take photos, and then up to my office to work on a blog post - all without having to plug or unplug anything.
My inner tech geek loves that the Willow uses small private networks to transmit monitor data - discouraging potential hackers. Levana is a pioneer in high-tech monitors and puts a huge emphasis on safety, which is obviously a huge concern for parents.
I put together this cute little video to share a peek into how we make the most of nap time at our house. C loved starring in the mini-film, of course, and has asked me to play "his movie" no less than one million times since we finished it!
Click here for the easy-to share, short-form version
What would you like to do more of during nap time? Enter to win your very own Levana Willow Baby Monitor and make it happen! This giveaway runs until December 5. Good luck!
To find out more about Levana and their wonderful range of baby safety products, visit MyLevana.com. You can also follow Levana on Facebook, where the company shares adorable goodies, like the video below.
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Levana. The opinions and text are all mine.
Disclosure: This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #RestAndRenew #CollectiveBias
It's no secret that children are adept at exhausting their parents. It sometimes feels like my husband and I spend every waking moment either at work or chasing our squealing toddler. There isn't much downtime for either of us, and it's been a long time since we've had the luxury of sleeping late or even through the night without interruption. Still, as most parents would tell you, we wouldn't trade our life with C for all the feather beds and R.E.M. on Earth. While the last two years have easily been the most tiring of our lives, they have also been the most rewarding
Still, there are days when I wonder if I might just fall asleep standing up. On those extra sleepy days my son is almost guaranteed to be overflowing with energy. Perhaps it's the universe's way of keeping the family's qì in balance - or maybe it's fate's idea of a cruel joke. Cosmic justifications aside, an over-tired parent and an abundantly engergetic child can be a recipe for trouble. Those are the days when I need to take some extra steps to help muster enough pep to get through the day.
Over the past two years I've developed a few tricks for re-energizing my mind and body. These healthy practices can be a boon on any day, but I find them to be especially useful on the days where I'm feeling a little sleepy.
Morning Walk - What better way to put a positive spin on an early wake-up than going for a morning walk? Exercising at the day's start can help boost energy levels all day long. This is a great example of making the most of a crumby situation - like having your kid jump on your head at 4:00am. If you're up anyway, you may as well do something to help yourself feel better about it. (Chocolate chip pancakes don't hurt either.)
Sneak in a Shower - I am going to go out on a limb and assume that I'm not the only parent who counts a shower as a luxury. Depending on your childcare situation and schedule, an unscheduled shower can be a tricky thing to pull off. But if you can manage it, a healthy spray of water can be just the thing to wake you up. If a real shower isn't in the cards, try just splashing your face with water or even dousing your head in the sink.
Power Nap - An even less likely option than showering for some parents, but again, if you can make it happen, bravo! A short nap, even as brief as 15-20 minutes can do wonders for your overall feeling of wellness. Try and sneak in a snooze while your little one naps, or grab a quick sleep break when your partner or sitter arrives.
Power Snacks - Try snacking on foods packed with energy-boosting vitamins and minerals, like B12, magnesium and potassium. Some great examples of healthy power snacks are almonds, dark chocolate, berries, peanut butter and bananas. Fresh fruit and power greens always make me feel a little better too.
Eat Lunch Outside - A little boost of Vitamin D can help to improve your mood, while the burst of sunlight and fresh air will help remind your body that it is, indeed, awake! If you have your kiddo in tow, this doubles as a way to get some of their excess energy out. Let them play hard while you soak up some rays.
Hydrate - Drinking plenty of fluids is key to good health in general, but is specifically useful for feeling awake and energetic. Being even mildly dehydrated can leave you feeling fatigued, so chug those liquids all day long. Adding a squirt of lemon to your water can add electrolyte benefit too!
Early to Bed, Early to Rise - Strangely enough, I often have a hard time falling asleep on the days I am most tired. This can be really frustrating, and can prolong the torture of exhaustion. I've learned to be pro-active when it comes to recovering from sleepless nights by heading straight to bed after putting my son to sleep. An added bonus to getting to bed early is being able to wake up before my son the next morning. Having some precious alone time when I first wake up is a real treat, and helps make me feel more together all day long.
Dance Party - Nothing gets your blood flowing like good old fashioned exercise. When you feel like you're really hitting a wall try turning up the music and dancing like you've got your own music video. Your kid will love it, and you'll definitely be more awake after a song or two.
In addition to energy-boosting strategies like these, finding a nutritional supplement that works well for you can be a big help. I took Maca Powder for the first time last year while I was trying to conceive. I had learned about the supplement while researching fertility diets, and found that this natural root vegetable, cultivated in the Andes mountains of Peru, has been traditionally used for both food and nutritional purposes. Traditional used for Maca Powder include promoting energy, balancing hormones, aiding sexual function, and the relief of PMS and menopause symptoms.*
I was asked to try out youtheory® Maca Powder previous to writing this post. Having tried several brands of Maca Powder over the past year I could immediately tell that youtheory® Maca Powder was superior in quality to the varieties that I had tried in the past. I found the aroma and flavor of this Maca Powder to be quite mild and easy to blend with everyday foods like smoothies or yogurt. It works especially well in anything with a nutty or spicy flavor. My personal favorite way to enjoy youtheory® Maca Powder is to stir it into pumpkin flavored yogurt.
So what makes youtheory® Maca Powder a great supplement for tired parents? Maca is regarded as a “superfood" and is an "adaptogenic botanical”, meaning that it helps the body adapt to stress and supports normal functions throughout the body. It's considered safe for long-term use, and it can benefit both men and women by helping to encourage healthy hormone levels.*
Nothing messes with my mood and energy level like having my hormones swing out of whack, so I pretty much LOVE Maca Powder. Since this supplement is also used to support reproductive health*, I'm crossing my fingers that making Maca Powder a part of my daily routine will help my body get in better shape for baby-making. We're currently trying to conceive without the use of prescription drugs or treatments. (Mostly because we can't afford that path financially, but also due to the fact that my toddler is still not ready to wean. Ugh.) Cross your fingers for us!
And while you are doing something nice for me, do yourself a favor and think about how you're going to give yourself a little extra energy every day. Will you pledge to take power naps, make morning walks your new healthy habit, or maybe try adding a supplement like youtheory® Maca Powder to your meal plan? Let me know what you're planning to try (and how it works out for you) in the comments below!
Want to learn more about the benefits of youtheory® products and see how others are using them? Check out RestandRenew.com for more info. You can also follow youtheory® on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Look for youtheory® Maca Powder and other Maca Powder products on Costco.com, and FYI - you don't need to be a Costco member in order to shop on their website!
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.
This morning my 2 year old son insisted on wearing a frog costume to Target. I pick my battles with this fiercely individualistic soul. He wore the frog suit - but also wore shoes. That's a win in my book.
We had a little discussion on our way over about the importance of staying with Mama while in the store. We even made a deal that if he stayed with me the whole time he could pick out a small treat. There would be a bonus treat if he could manage to stay inside the cart the whole time.
"Ok Mommy.", he says.
I ask him to repeat the point of this talk back to me - just so I know he gets it. (Every now and then, this little exercise actually works.)
"No run away. I'll remember, Mommy."
About five minutes into our trip, C stands up in the cart's child seat, does his best Incredible Hulk impersonation, and snaps the silly little safety strap wide open. He quickly proceeds to pull up his legs and JUMP out.
I manage to catch his wiggling, wriggling, inexplicably heavy body about halfway to the ground before letting out a big sigh and reminding him of his promise not to bolt.
"Yes, Mommy", he says.
And so we shop. Me reminding and cajoling constantly in order to keep the child in my sight, him stopping to RIBBIT and hop at other children as they pass by. Strangers giggle. Kids shriek. C makes demands for random treats as we pass an endless parade of colorful end-cap displays.
When I stop to consult my various coupon apps before purchasing this week's giant tub of coffee he begins pulling things off of the shelf and dumping them into (and under) the cart.
"I need this. Need oatmeal. Need this one. I have this one, Mama."
I pause to appreciate the fact that he hasn't made any mad dashes yet when he spots a little girl at the other end of the aisle.
RIBBIT! HOP. HOP. HOP.
He hops up and rams into her shouting RIBBIT!!!!
The little girl bursts into tears. I apologize and stick C back in the cart. He complains. I explain. We keep shopping, but in minutes he out-muscles and escapes the cart once again, gives me one wicked grin, and bolts.
He's running at break-neck speed down the aisles, through the grocery section, and to my advantage, toward the checkout.
When I finally catch him he is giggling madly. I try to get him back in the cart but he turns his body into a big wet noodle, making it physically impossible to pick up.
Since I can't lift him up, I pin him down instead. I'm winded and frustrated and unsure of what to even do next but doing my best to keep it cool as we wrestle on the floor of the checkout section. I've learned that things like yelling and threatening have zero effect on this kid. I have to find a way to calm him down instead.
Meanwhile, I am pretty much dying of embarrassment. Everyone sees us. Everyone has an opinion. I grit my teeth and try not to look at anybody's face while my kid squeals and chatters on the linoleum.
A Target employee comes over and offers to help get my groceries from the cart to the belt. I thank her profusely and take advantage of the distraction to buckle C into the cart again. Ellen, this morning's grocery shopping angel, then proceeds to play peek-a-boo with him while I finish getting check-out. The fellow behind the register tells me stories of his own childhood and how he once ran away from his parents during a trip to Disneyworld.
Their kindness helped me laugh off the chaos and guide my little frog through the end of our trip without any tears. On our way out he, of course, gets out of the cart one last time to try and steal someone's handicapped shopping cart and then play with the job application computers in the customer service area.
When we get to the doors he lets me strap him in one last time - accepting that the parking lot was just too dangerous a place for kids to walk. As I load our bags into the trunk a couple with a smaller toddler walks over to us. They coo over C's frog costume and he treats them to a couple of shy RIBBITs. That's when the mother totally catches me off guard by saying how impressed she was at how well behaved he is. Apparently they had noticed him sitting there in the cart and watching me load the trunk as they were parking.
I nearly choke. "HA!", I said. "You should have seen him inside." I regale them with a quickly summarized version of his morning escapade. She laughs and thanks me for reassuring her that she isn't the only mother with a wild, bolting child.
I didn't say it at the time - mostly because it didn't sink in at that moment - but I'm thankful for her comment too. It was a reminder that we only see a slice of other people's lives, of other kid's behavior and their parent's reactions to it. Sadly, our trip this morning was pretty typical for C. He is a challenging shopper. With a food blogging mama he has no shortage of experience going to the store, yet he seems to get more wild with each passing day.
I often bribe him to stay in the cart by opening boxes of snacks, buying him balloons, or even pulling out a lollipop. Unfortunately, food never buys me much time, and balloons are prohibitively expensive. The worst thing, perhaps, about the bribery is that it earns me nearly as many dirty looks and snide comments as I get while chasing him through the store.
People look and see a child being spoiled. They don't see the exhaustion and desperation behind the box of cheese crackers. They don't understand what it's like to lose sight of their toddler in a crowded store - to abandon your purse, cell phone, and cart full of groceries to run screaming through Walmart after a runaway kid.
It can be maddening, mortifying, and worst of all, it can be discouraging. Lately I've been watching the other kids in the other carts and wondering why mine can't just ride in the seat like everybody else? I wonder if it's me. Am I just a crappy mother?
All those doubts are compounded by every nasty stare, every rude comment, every grouchy cashier or horrible old lady who encounters us during a trip to the grocery store. There have been times that I've sobbed in the car after leaving the checkout - feeling like a complete failure for not being able to control my own child.
This morning I remembered that while I may have limited control over my toddler, I do have control over my perspective. I can, and should, remember that my perception of other families only tells a tiny sliver of their story. In those instances when I torture myself over their apparent perfection I'm judging them and myself from an incomplete picture.
When strangers choose to be nasty instead of being kind they are doing the very same thing. They don't know me. They don't know my child or the unique challenges we face as a family. They are choosing to pass judgement on a situation they know nothing about.
That kind of judgement is crap. And it's not worth holding on to.
Let it go, mamas. Let it go.
Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Carter’s; however, all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.
During the summer my little one spent quite a lot of time au naturale. That is to say - in the buff.
The baby buff.
I'm a big fan of baby buff. It's arguably the best look ever for people under one year old. It's comfortable, versatile, and really works well with their whole brand new human vibe.
Then autumn arrives and a chill hits the air. Rain starts to fall and the promise of colder weather looms ahead.
It's time to put some clothes on, baby.
The folks at Carter's asked me to put together a checklist of essential baby clothes for the Fall. I'm a fairly practical mama, so my list is short and sweet.
That doesn't mean that I don't indulge in the occasional pair of tiny suspenders or denim jackets. I am not immune to temptation - especially when it comes to tiny cute clothes.
But this list is all about the basics - six essential items for the autumn baby!
Carter's selection of baby clothes makes dressing even the most free-wheeling babe a breeze. Take my nephew here, a natural born nudist. Even he feels cozy in a soft cotton bodysuit.
Basic items like the classic bodysuit, tiny little socks, and soft stretchy baby pants keep little ones comfy and warm without a lot of fuss.
Bodysuits are probably to most essential item in the baby wardrobe. Available in short or long sleeve, with or without cutesy graphics, and complete with quick snaps and envelope shoulders you can get them on and off in moments. Wear them alone or under pants, skirts, or overalls. Anything goes with this baby wardrobe basic.
I start off almost every baby outfit with a bodysuit. They are easy to change into and out of in case of (ahem) diaper trouble. AND they match pretty much everything.
Socks are another key item in keeping the autumn baby properly outfitted. As many a random stranger has told me, "your baby needs socks." I have rolled my eyes at these people plenty of times, but keeping tiny feet warm during chilly weather is actually kind of important.
Baby Pants is not just an incredible nickname for your child, it's also a very important item for their autumn wardrobe. I like to keep my basic collection of baby pants soft, comfy, and stretchy.
These are even available with feet. Just think, you can readily avoid the nosy sock strangers by dressing your kid in pants with built-in socks.
Then there are the extras - those fun little items that help prepare baby for cool fall weather while also making him EVEN CUTER. (Not so sure cuter is a real word, but I'm just going to go with it. Ok?)
Hoodies, Vests, and Jumpsuits make it simple to add or remove layers as needed - keeping baby ready for cold snaps or outdoor adventuring.
Booties and itty bitty Crib Shoes are great for providing extra warmth while seriously upping your baby's style game.
I think my little CC wore booties all of one or two times during his babyhood but the cuteness factor was pretty intense. Sometimes I wish we'd lived in a cooler climate just so I could have taken more baby bootie pictures. Those of you with Northern babes had better take advantage!
Pajamas are one of those things that sometimes take the parents of Spring and Summer babies by surprise. During the hotter months you may not need baby jammies at all. But when the weather gets cooler babies love feeling snug in long sleeves and footy pajamas.
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Right now you can stock up on babyhood essentials at Carters by using this super special discount code: CARSEPB. This little lovely will score you a cool 25% off of your purchase of $40 or more. (Details below)
What are your must-have babyhood essentials for the fall season? Share your picks and photos in the comments below or by tagging your social media posts with #lovecarters.
Giveaway! Win a $50 Carter's Gift Card
From now until September 26 you can WIN FREE Carters goodies by participating in the Carter's Pin Baby Pin Contest. To enter, just upload a photo of your little one dressed up to the nines. When the contest ends 75 lucky winners will be picked to receive $50 Carter's gift cards.
My son is scared of the Easter Bunny. Terrified, to be more exact.
It all started on the first day back to pre-school after CC's Spring Break. Let me paint the scene. Here was a class full of toddlers who had just returned from about 12 days spent at home. Mondays are often emotional for little kids because they settle in to life at home by the end of every weekend. Just imagine what a week-long vacation does! His beloved teacher, Miss A. was also out on vacation abroad so the teacher the kids were left with was a substitute.
As a rule, kids aren't super flexible. Even the smallest change to their routine can result in meltdown - so I would categorize this situation as a toddler powder keg. It also happened to be the school's annual Spring Celebration so their anxieties were about to be soothed with games, treats, and special activities. Maybe, I thought, CC's first day back to school will go alright after all.
And it may, in fact, HAVE gone alright, until the staff decided to introduce a stranger in a bunny costume to the mix. The story I was told about CC's reaction to his very first mascot costume character was heartbreaking. They told me that all of the kids ran screaming from the bunny to hide behind their teacher's legs, but CC seemed especially upset and was actually shaking and chattering with fear.
Needless to say he was a total wreck when I picked him up. He talked about the Easter Bunny all afternoon and cried at bedtime, telling me that the Bunny was going to get him and was waiting outside his window. He woke up screaming with nightmares multiple times the first night and off and on again for many nights after that. Every day when we went to school it was the same thing.
"The Bunny, Mama. The Easter Bunny get me."
And then Easter came. We had to warn everyone in our family not to bring up "You Know Who" which was pretty tough because everyone we ran into wanted to ask CC if he was excited to get a visit from him! Even strangers at the grocery store would chime in, telling CC how the Bunny was coming to his house and asking him what did he think of that?
I'll give you three guesses as to what it was he thought.
Luckily, CC didn't seem to associate the Easter Bunny with Easter itself and was pleasantly surprised by the actual holiday. He was thrilled with his basket of treats and had a blast hunting for eggs with his cousin. In a strange twist, Easter was a big hit and he has ALSO been going on and on about how much he loves eggs and baskets ever since. It's pretty much his favorite holiday.
You know, except for the whole evil murderous bunny thing.
So, would you believe that even after months and months the poor kid still brings this up? Like, all the time?
Just the other night we were snuggling up for bedtime when he told me the Bunny was at his window again.
"I scared, Mama. The Easter Bunny, Mama."
I launched into my usual routine of explaining that the Easter Bunny was certainly not outside his window and could not hurt him or get him. I told him there was no Easter Bunny here and that he was safe.
He nodded, but I could see the look of worry on his face. He was staring into space and nodding, his little brow furrowed. I know how that look feels. It's the look I get when I want to believe something someone is telling my but my gut disagrees. It dawned on me then that he wasn't just talking about a costumed stranger. He was scared of the boogeyman - of the world outside of our cozy little home where there were very real things (and people) who could hurt him.
The concept of danger and consequences is a relatively new discovery for CC. He's always been a bold and daring child. Only recently has he taken time to stop and consider getting hurt before launching his body wherever it wants to go.
While he is still a very friendly child he's now run into adults that scare him, make him uncomfortable, or even behave inappropriately - like the old bearded grandpa-type who thought it would be funny to growl and bark at him while he ran from Mommy at the zoo, or the not-so-great replacement teacher at school whose high anxiety level and motormouth caused him to come home every day in a frenzy.
CC is discovering that not everyone he meets wants to be his friend, nor are they all people that HE would like to be friends with.
As for me, the dangers of the world and how they relate to my tiny precious child have been my constant companion for a very long time now. Before I ever even considered becoming a mother the idea of being responsible for someone so small was scary. Once he was here I could see how easy it would be to slip into a cloud of anxiety and never come out. I'd never loved anyone so much in my life, so I'd never been so vulnerable.
Lately the mama-fear has been pressing me harder than usual as we prepare for CC to have a small surgery sometime in the next month or two. My baby is sick, and even though all of the odds and statistics and general medical wisdom point to him coming through the whole experience completely unscathed it is difficult for me to not become consumed by fear.
Many things have changed since I became a parent, but nothing is more altering than the knowledge that I can not live without him. He's as much a part of me as my beating heart and my fear of him being hurt or lost is the only thing that surpasses my fear of failing to do the right thing as his Mama.
So when he was cuddled up to me, whispering his fear about the big bad world outside I held him close. I promised to protect him and keep him safe and to love him forever and ever. I saw his face soften and his body relax as he looked at me and said, "OK, Mommy."
I breathed in and out, my nose in his hair, taking in the smell of his hot little head and the warmth of his soft little body in my arms. I reminded myself that he's right here and that he's OK, and at least for a little while even my Boogeyman kept his distance.
How do you help your kids cope with their fears? How do you manage your own? Comments below, s'il vous plaît.
Some varmint ate my tomatoes.
I went on a diet and gained more weight.
I keep testing negative instead of positive.
My card got declined when I tried to buy a chicken parm grinder.
Cause you see, I'm on a losing streak.
Disclosure: This post includes a sponsored mention of Prevention Magazine's R3 Summit. My opinions are my own.
When I was invited to this year's R3 Summit by Prevention Magazine I wondered what my big takeaway would be for 2016. Last year I attended with Baby C strapped to my chest. He made a great companion for the day, but his need for a nap meant not staying the whole day. I thought that surely this year would be different. With C left safely at home with an Auntie I would sit in on every session, partake in each wellness workshop and even get in a workout or two. I was really excited for Mama's day out!
The universe had other plans and managed to hit my poor boy with a nasty cold at just the wrong time. Instead of spending that Saturday at the Summit I stayed home and cared for my sick little boy. Trading yoga and celebrity interviews for boogers and nebulizers stung a little - but I know that I made the right choice. Besides, I hadn't missed the entire Summit. I did sneak out the night before for the opening reception and Bob Roth's talk on meditation.
Bob Roth, also known simply as Meditation Bob, has been teaching people from all walks of life about meditation for decades. His particular specialty is called Transcendental Meditation, a mantra-based meditation touted by both celebrities and Roth's non-profit, The David Lynch Foundation, for lowering dangerous cortisol levels, reducing stress, and helping to heal a laundry list of psychological issues from addiction to PTSD. The David Lynch Foundation provides TM training to inner-city students, veterans, and other communities who can benefit from their help.
Roth's talk left me inspired to make meditation a priority in my own life. While I do have a habit of meditating that habit is pretty undisciplined. I tend to meditate when the mood strikes me. Experts, like Bob Roth, recommend twice daily meditation, so moving forward I am going to make that my goal.
Now how does a busy working mama make time for meditation? For me, the key is choosing practices that work with my erratic lifestyle. That means that the techniques must be brief, targeted, and very simple. Here are a few ideas to get us all started.
Mindful Mama: This is the meditation that saw me threw countless sleepless nights during my son's first year. It is a great coping practice for those times when you are feeling totally tapped out and pushed to your limit. Start out by taking a few deep breaths and deciding to quiet the swirling thoughts and persistent desires (like your need for sleep!) going on in your mind. Shift your focus to observation mode. Take a moment to simply observe your body and the space that surrounds you. Feel the air on your skin, the weight of the child in your arms. Focus on the breath rising and falling from your chest and from theirs. Feel the hot baby breath on your neck or the soft rug under your toes. Listen to the quiet (or the buzzing chaos) of the world around you. Try to exist in that moment, aware only of the present. Breathe. Breathe. Breathe.
One Track Mind: This meditation works well for those sacred moments when you are actually alone. This may not happen often (or at all) for some mamas, but if you have a ten-minute window during the day of peace and quiet this is a simple way to make the most out of that precious solitude. Pick a single song to use as both the focus and the timer of your meditation. There aren't really any rules for which song to choose, but I like using instrumental music that feels calm and soothing.
1-2-3: I like to practice this visualization-style meditation right before going to sleep. It helps quiet my mind after a busy day - not always an easy task! Start by closing your eyes and taking a few deep breaths. When you are ready to begin, inhale as you visualize the number one and repeat the word "one" over and over until you finish your breath and exhale. Repeat this with the number two and so on up until the number ten, then back down to number one again.
Mama Mantra: When I was getting ready to have my first baby the midwives in our practice advised creating a mantra to help get through labor. I didn't come up with my mantra until about four hours into active labor, but when it came to me it was just right. During the night I labored I repeated the mantra "Just one minute" through each contraction. Later, after my son was born and I found myself losing my cool during the long sleepless nights I brought the mantra back. Only this time I repeated "just one year". To use the mantra I would close my eyes, breath deeply, then repeat the phrase as I also visualized the words in my head. I would repeat this for several minutes or until my feelings of frustration, anger, or despair subsided.
Do you have your own daily meditation? I'd love to hear about more methods for including meditation in your daily routine.
My little baby has become a toddler.
He's a hot-blooded little giggle monster with a mouth full of hard-fought teeth, a head full of crazy ideas, and a freakishly strong little body. He is capable of expressing both violence and tenderness, depending on his mood, and surprises his parents on a daily basis with new words, tricks, and pranks - mostly pranks.
It's hard to describe the difference between C as a baby and C as a toddler. The only way I can think to describe it is to recall that scene from Jurassic Park when Satler chuckles and says "...unless they figure out how to open doors. Psssht!"
Yeah, it's like that. He knows things that we never taught him. He's been LISTENING. Now that his speech and motor skills are taking off he is finally able to show us just how much he's overheard over the past eighteen months.
Important discoveries - such as the existence of Sesame Street - have been made earlier than expected. Subsequently his tantrum skills are also taking off.
He has favorites now too! His favorite color is red. His favorite animals are cows, bears, and dinosaurs. He even has a favorite Pandora station! Every night he makes us turn on the Elvis channel so he can shake his little booty.
Suddenly he is no longer an adventurous eater and stubbornly insists on eating only three or four foods (at all, ever) all of which fall into a muted palette of white, yellow, and sometimes orange. Pink and red are occasionally tolerated, but really CC would prefer to eat macaroni and cheese or Pirates Booty for every meal.
He scales the walls, climbs over gates, jumps out of bath tubs, and hurls himself down slides head-first. He remains our rough and tumble little boy - forever reaching past his limitations and up towards whatever he sees the "big kids" doing.
He doesn't seem to care that his feet can't reach the ground while riding on a big-kid swing, or that they can't reach the pedals on his tricycle. He wants to do it anyway.
It's just who he is.
We were at the park yesterday with a particularly warm and wonderful abuela. Her sweet little grandson was having second thoughts about the playground's tallest slide so I helped him down the steps. As I was doing this, C was launching himself up the very same staircase and barreling toward the slide. "Oh my!", she said. "He's not certainly not afraid of heights, is he?"
We laughed and she told me some stories about her first son who was just like C - climbing everything and giving his poor mama nightmares. I confessed to her that I'm sometimes embarrassed by the looks that I get for "letting" such a little kid climb the way that he does.
She sweetly shook her head and said. "Oh no, dear. You can't fight nature. All you can do is help him".
A gift guide for kids between 1 and 2 years old.
So you want to buy something for your loved one's little boy or girl and you aren't sure what? My first and best advice would be to ask the parent. Surprises are fun, but birthdays and holidays are also times where Moms and Dads have an opportunity to see their kids furnished with stuff that they might really need - like new pajamas, shoes, or specific toys and books to fill a developmental need.
Even if you get kiddo something on Mom and Dad's list it will still be a surprise to the child so reach out! There could be something Junior really needs this year.
If Mom and Dad don't have a specific wish list for their little one, or if you really want to surprise them with something unexpected, here are some suggestions that should be a hit with most kids between 1 and 2 AND their parents.
Something to Push - Walking is still a big thrill to most toddlers so having something to push around the room, especially something that is noisy, holds stuff, or animated will really tickle them pink.
Something to Ride - Kids this age love to ride around on things with wheels. These toys are just the right height for little legs to get their scoot on.
A Play Set with Animals - Little imaginations begin taking off after kids hit one year or so. Suddenly kids go from just banging and throwing toys to making them do stuff, like dance, kiss, and moo.
Tot-Friendly Art Supplies - Coloring, painting, and collage make for some very messy but super educational fun. Look for products that are non-toxic, unscented, and easy to handle.
Musical Toys That Won't Drive Them (Completely) Crazy - I heard recently that "jamming" with kids might be even more beneficial to childrens' communication skills than reading! Plus, it's fun to make music with little ones. These noisy toys are in key and totally analog making them a relatively pleasant choice for everyone involved.
Books, Books, and More Books - It's hard to have too many, especially when your kid cycles through his entire collection every single day. You can't really go wrong when picking books for toddlers but sturdy board books and stories that rhyme are my personal favorites.
Help Them Get Fed - Feeding a little kid is a real adventure. These gadgets and gizmos can help make the task a little less daunting.
Clothes, Shoes, and Pajamas - Kids are ALWAYS growing so kids almost always need play clothes, pajamas, and shoes. Have fun picking out cute outfits but be sure to include a gift receipt just in case they grow out of it or the season changes before it can be used. My sister happens to make some of the best toddler clothes around. Her handmade pants use special folds to grow with kids. CC has been able to wear the same pair of pants for over a year now! Plus, they are really stinking cute. Check out her shop at BubBubShop.com.
Other Fun Stuff - These are a few other things that CC has really enjoyed at this age. He loves to explore, inspect, and "help".
Other Gift Ideas
Gifts to avoid
When CC was an infant I would sometimes wake in the night with my heart pounding out of my chest, overcome with the pure and undiluted anxiety that I imagine all mothers must taste at some point or another. Those were the times when I thanked goodness for the invention of our co-sleeper, a device that allowed my baby to remain within touching distance throughout the long nights of his infancy. I would reach out, lay my hand on his sleeping belly, wait breathlessly, and finally exhale when I was rewarded with some small sound or movement.
During the years I waited to become a mother there were countless emotions that I had come to expect. I knew I might feel inexplicably sad at times, and profoundly happy at others. I thought I might catch myself in moments of insecurity or even jealousy as I found my place in the world of parenthood. Of course I anticipated exhaustion and love, but there was one feeling I was surprised by. I had no idea how vulnerable being a mother would make me feel.
The only thing stopping me from being the perfect parent is having a kid.
Before CC was born I had lot of ideas about how things were going to be. For one thing, he was NOT going to go around man-handling my cell phone. My brilliant plan to stop this from happening was just not to ever give it to him. Duh, right? I mean - come on. It's not rocket science.
Fifteen months later this is one battle that I have clearly lost. I can't even share a photo of him fondling my cell phone since I'm too busy trying to stop him from destroying the blasted thing. How often is that? Let's just say that CC has a whole telephone routine worked out. It goes something like this "Dada?! Dada!! Mwah heh ya ya ya no nonono." He throws his head back and laughs as if he were the villain in some eighties ski mountain movie. You know - the guy with hair like a Ken doll and a sweater tied across his chest? I call him "Blaine".
So if you ever call me and ask to speak to "Blaine" he will gladly oblige.
By the way, this isn't meant to be one of those snarky things you plaster on expecting mothers' Facebook walls. When I was pregnant I hated that stuff. Let them have their dreams, ladies. Who knows, maybe some mother somewhere has actually managed to accomplish all of the goals she set for her perfectly perfect little baby. Good for her. I'm sure Little Blaine will be very well adjusted.
This is a heavy one, folks. I debated whether or not to share this story - my story of loss, but after finding comfort in the words of other bloggers I felt that I should try. For those of you who would rather skip the emotional stuff please feel free to scroll on past. If you do want to hear about something very sad, you can read my story after the jump.
CC has always been an inquisitive child, but lately his curiosity has really taken off. He inspects everything with such scrutiny. When he discovers anything resembling a switch, button, or dial he becomes obsessed. Scott and I decided to create a little busy board for him so that he could push, pull, turn, and jingle to his heart's content. We bought a large circular hunk of wood to use as the base, then filled it up with odds and ends from the hardware store.
The hardest part was probably drilling out hollows for the light switches to sit into. Otherwise it was just a matter of drilling small holes and screwing in screws. We cut small pieces of wood to create little doors complete with tiny hinges, knobs, and fasteners. I hid stickers behind the doors to make opening them up a bit more fun.
All in all we probably spent too much on the project - around forty dollars. In hindsight, we could have saved a bit of cash by using a plain piece of plywood for the backing or picking up more of the hardware at a dollar store. We did get one portion of the project for free though. It turns out that the key-making station at Lowes has a whole box full of dud keys that are free for the taking! We picked out four keys from the little collection of misfits and added a forgotten spare from a former car that we had lying around to give CC his very own keychain.
Did he like it? You bet he did. He liked it so much that he had to check out every inch, including the underside. After flipping it over he began dragging it around the room to use as a wobbly surfboard-step stool combo. He's crafty alright. Our next step will be attaching this sucker to the wall.
Would you like to make your own busy board? This is a great project because you can really go any direction you like with it. You can include the gizmos that your kiddo would like best and keep the rest as fancy or as simple as you like. Here are some links to help get you started. You can also check out my Busy Board Pinboard on Pinterest for more ideas.
I was old enough when I had CC to realize just how fleeting his babyhood would be. Many times over the past year I paused to try and save a moment in time. I tried to freeze it by closing my eyes and telling myself to remember. I can't be sure I got them all, but here are a few that made it.
These are the memories that come to mind when I think of the past year.
Last week we took our first big trip as a family. The flight to Seattle began at CC's usual bedtime so we were hoping that he would sleep through most of the ride. We figured the plane would be dark and quiet with plenty of white noise from the engines. We hadn't considered the fact that our plane would be heading toward the sun - keeping the entire journey locked in a late afternoon glow. Our neighbors weren't particularly cooperative either. It was one of the chattiest flights I've ever been on, in fact.
Needless to say, CC didn't sleep a wink. Every second that wasn't spent nursing CC attempted to escape our two-seat prison by climbing the walls and performing baby acrobatics. By the end of the flight my arms and my nipples felt like they might fall off - but it could have been worse. He didn't scream. He didn't cry. He didn't pull anyone's hair (that last one wasn't for lack of trying.) All in all, I'd call it a win.
While traveling with a little one isn't exactly easy, it was so much better than I expected. This trip involved more work than it would have before CC came along, but then everything in my whole life everyday involves more work than before CC came along. Going on a trip with him ended up being a great reminder that my life has, in fact, continued on since his birth. We can still go on trips, still see the world and explore new places, only now we have to choose our paths during those trips with a bit more care. I can live with that.
Having a Plan
Gone are the days when I would just hop on a plane and arrive without a plan or without a dime. CC needs things - like safe transportation, naps, and soft food. Before we even left Austin I had spent hours coordinating and planning our trip. We only had one and a half days to check out a whole new city. Between nap times and bed time that really only gave us three four-hour windows for fun. If I didn't plan our days ahead we wouldn't be able to accomplish much.
I'm not really one for plans in general, especially when it comes to exploring, but I have to say that in this case I'm glad to have made the effort. I may never have made it through my culinary wish list or seen the handful of landmarks I wanted to visit if I had arrived in Seattle in my usual style of unpreparedness. The best part about our plan was that we never felt hurried or frantic. We were careful to schedule our days very conservatively. It's a good thing because everything seems to take longer with a baby in tow.
Finding Out What He's Capable Of
There should be a special word for the feeling of terror and panic that creeps up the back of your spine when you realize your kid is going to miss their nap. Whether the day has gotten away from you or your child just decides not to go to sleep for some unknown reason that sinking feeling is no fun. Will he be cranky for the rest of the day? Will he sleep poorly tonight? Will this be the kickoff to a month-long binge of insomnia? Please God, NO!!
Deciding to take your kid on a trip is like handing this kind of trouble a foil-lined invitation. He is almost guaranteed to become overstimulated and overtired. On top of sleep issues there are public meltdowns, time zone differences, and a four hour plane ride to deal with. What if his ears hurt? What if the engines scare him? What if he flips out?
These were my fears for CC. I was worried he would have a miserable time - that the disruption would be too much for him or that the whole ordeal would blow his little mind. Imagine my surprise when he giggled and danced during landing or spent the entire morning at Pike's Place waving at strangers. He didn't just "get through" our trip - he actually enjoyed it! Even the time change didn't seem to phase him.
Thanks to this trip I have no fear of taking him wherever life may lead us. Until now I don't think I acknowledged just how trapped by that fear I was. It's really good to know that the world is our oyster once again.
Finding Out What We're Capable Of
Our long and exhausting flight was just the first of many experiences that proved what we already knew would be true: traveling with a baby is hard. Dealing with things like naps, time zones, and taxi cabs really had me nervous, but even as I frantically packed the day of our trip I knew deep down it would be OK. It's all about priorities, after all. As long as he was safe and we were all together, how bad could it be?
Overall, I think stepping away from our normal life for a few days helped to reaffirm our confidence as parents. We left the comfort of our baby-proofed home and the eleventy-billion pieces of baby gear therein and guess what? We survived. We had fun even.
Watching Him Explore
Waking up to his little face every day is a joyful thing. Watching that same face light up when he experiences something for the first time is even better. During our trip CC went to his first Children's Museum, spotted his first harbor seal, ate his first peroshky, rode in a taxi cab, and flew in a plane. He ran around our hotel room in the buff - unrolling toilet paper, dancing in front of the mirror, and climbing the furniture. When we went out into the city he saw cars, dogs, and people - and waved to them all cheerfully as we passed by.
He noticed things that I notice - like the world of clouds outside the airplane window or the way that sunlight changes the color of the leaves as it shines through. He is the kind of kid that wants to explore every last detail of the world around him, and it was so much fun doing that with him.
Before our trip I was feeling rather stingy about nap time. Having to give up a three hour chunk of our day (and right in the middle of it!) felt like being robbed. I was so annoyed by the whole thing that I was even toying with the idea of skipping his nap on our long day out. He'd skipped naps before so I figured it wouldn't be a big deal to just stay out and have fun and deal with the crank later. But then we got to our hotel to drop off our bags and they told us our room was ready early. We went up to get settled in and he started to rub his eyes. Then he got extra-stumbley and started to sing the low little moaning wail that we call his "sleepy song". I knew my plan was toast. He was sleepy, so we let him sleep.
And sleep he did! He slept for THREE HOURS. Three solid hours! At first I was dying. I wanted to be out there having fun on our little vacation - not locked in a dark hotel room with a sleeping baby. I secretly hoped he would wake up early, that this would be one of his 40 or 60 minute naps - the kind that I dread when we're at home. But he just kept on sleeping so eventually I settled in to try and accept being stuck there. When I did, I actually found it to be very relaxing.
I laid on the big soft bed and did nothing for a while. It's been so long since I had time to do nothing that that I forget to try it when I am finally given the chance. It turns out that a three hour stint in a dark and silent hotel room is the perfect place to practice. The next day I actually looked forward to nap time.
What is your favorite thing about traveling with a little one? Have a story to share about going on the road with baby in tow? Let's hear! Share it with us in the comments below!
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