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Friday, May 31, 2019

Three things I never leave the house without



I never thought about germs to the extent I do since becoming a mother. It's hard not to wonder who's been there when your child start licking the window on a plane or chewing on a book at the library. Then when it feels like our babies end up with with some ailment every time we leave the house, becoming a hermit is awfully tempting.

I know I can't protect my kids from everything, germs are everywhere, and we will get sick sometimes, but I can bring my own reinforcements! ;) We go lots of places, and my kids touch everything, so all the while, I am wiping, spraying and sanitizing where I can.

There are a few products we love to have on the go to help our immune systems stay strong and fight germs! I love the Thieves line from Young Living because the products are effective, clean, and safe for babies. They are infused the powerful, natural oils derived from plants, so no icky chemicals here! If my child is going to lick everything in sight, replacing germs with toxins isn't helping! These products do a great job, but don't leave the harsh chemicals behind or a strong smell.

In fact, almost everytime I whip out these little warriors, someone comments on how amazing they smell! If you've never smelled Thieves, its a natural cinnamon, clove, citrus blend that smells like Christmas. :)

Thieves Wipes

I love using these wipes to wipe down any and every surface. I like come ahead of my children and wipe down restaurant tables, high chairs, plane seats and arm rests, and excersaucers my babies use in public places. As soon as they sit down their hands, faces, and tongues are all over everything!

*I don't use these on my little ones, just on surfaces around them! ;)

Thieves Spray

I like to use this the same as any disinfecting spray in areas we will be spending any time in. I keep it in an outer pocket of the diaper bag and whip it out before we sit down. Again with the airplane, I spray this on our row. Since it's not harsh smelling, it doesn't choke everyone around us. The thieves oil blend is powerful for cleansing the air and boosting our immune systems. So, it is just what Mama wants everyone breathing in as we sit where hundreds of different people have been all day.

Thieves Hand Purifier

I have always been somewhat terrified of using hand sanitizer with little ones. The Thieves hand purifier is a perfect solution that is not as harsh and free of harmful chemicals. We bring this everywhere we go!

We don't leave the house without these items in our bag because they are so effective, and it just gives me peace of mind to know I'm doing everything in my power to keep my littles healthy and safe! To learn more about Young Living and get these products, visit here, or just let me know!

Thursday, May 30, 2019

What I've learned the first nine months of being a Mama of two



The past nine months have come with many new changes as we have learned how to be a family of 4. Becoming a new mama for the first time changed every area of my life.  Becoming a mama of 2 wasn't drastic in that way, but it was different because my focus suddenly had to be split. It has also been new for me to have a toddler to disciple who is learning and communicating. The baby stage was a little more nurturing and surviving and less teaching and guiding. I have just been writing down some lessons learned that have stood out to me! Nothing profound, but just helpful revelations as I navigate taking care of two little girls. :)


1. No stage lasts forever

In the moment when your baby wakes up for the 5th hour in a row, or you're toddler won't eat anything besides plain noodles, hearing that "no stage lasts forever" isn't the most encouraging thing ever. Over the last several months, however, it has proven to be true enough times to give me light at the end of the tunnel. It truly felt like Joslynne would drink a bottle for the rest of her life and pair it with plain spaghetti until her hair turns gray. Don't even get me started on her refusing to sit down in the tub or Elaina still waking up for a bottle 4 times a night. In the middle of these challenges, when you've tried everything you can think of or google, it feels hopeless. They say "you never see a 14 year old with a pacifier" so surely every kid grows out of it, right?  Meanwhile, I'd cynically think to myself that I surely am raising the exception to that rule.

Over the past year, my children have continually amazed me as they grow and develop and indeed "grow out" of stages that seemed to be here for good. I know my astonishment exposes my inexperience, but it never ceases to amaze me how one day, things just click and we move past a stage and on to the next one. Yes, there will be a new hurdle to replace it, but we'll all move past that one too, eventually. ;)

Night feedings, teething, blowouts, refusals to eat, pacifiers, foot stomping, and potty accidents will all go away in time. But, so will the cuddles, baby giggles, hand and foot chub, squeaky voices, and "mom, I wub you's".  Sometimes, just remembering helps.

2. Listen to your mama sense

My personality struggles with overanalyzing. I tend to research, compare, and brainstorm things to death before making a move or a decision. Ideas and advice of others are so helpful.  Information and research available is so helpful, but at the end of the day, I'm learning to go by my own sense. God made us their mama for a reason. We are equipped to make decisions for our children with confidence. Of course, we won't be perfect, but mommy-ing someone else's way is not what is best for our babies. My children need me. Yes, sometimes that means I might be more protective than the majority in one area, and less worried in another. Being a good mother doesn't mean running with the pack. Being a good mom is doing what you know your child needs.


3. Each child is different

Well no duh. We all know that. But, I was surprised at how much I truly expected my experiences with both babies to be similar! They have been so so different in almost every aspect. Joslynne nursed like a champ, but was not a good sleeper. Elaina never nursed a whole session in her life, but she sleeps great. Joslynne never napped, but she was easy to keep an eye on. Elaina naps well, but is a daredevil when she's awake. Thankfully, new bumps in the road also come with smooth sailing in other areas. That's not to say having another child is like starting over again as a brand new mom. Even though the experiences with each pregnancy and baby might be very different, we still have the skills we learned and intuition we developed as a first time parent to bring into the second time around! A new baby came with a new set of hurdles, so God is gracious to not have us go through all the things at once. ;)

4. Children are stronger, smarter, and more capable than we give them credit for.

I was so worried when Joslynne struggled with us being in the hospital to have Elaina, and then seemed like she would be traumatized forever. She was terrified if we even left the room the weeks after we came home. She is fine now! Her communication has improved by leaps and bounds every month, and she understanding more and more what it means to have a baby sister. She loves it, and we love watching her learn how to love, protect, and be a friend to another little person.

She loves being a helper. I realized how well she responded to anything that makes her "a great big sister" or "a good helper to mom and dad". ;) She loves to feel like she is contributing. Also, anything that makes her feel like a big girl compared to her little baby sister. :) So, giving her responsibilities has been a game changer. Explaining things to her, even if we think she doesn't understand has been huge for her growth and adjusting to a new baby.  I've been amazed at how quickly she picks up on Elaina's needs, and impressed by how many often she will jump up and try to meet those needs for her little sister!


5. Alone time makes me a better mama

One of the most helpful things Wes has done in the last several months is insist on me having alone time. He is amazing at picking up on my needs, and I am so thankful he knows me so well. It feels selfish to ever be away from my children while they are awake.  But, I have come to realize that stepping away and doing something unrelated to my identity as a mother is the key to recharging and equipping me to be a better mama.

For me, this is even more important than sleep. At first I thought sleeping in sometimes on the weekend was what I needed. I quickly realized that alone time is my fuel and makes me a better mom. Sometimes you just need uninterrupted thinking time, prayer time, grown up thoughts, and time to focus on personal goals to equip you to come back to those kiddos. I don't know if I'd go as far as saying time away from the poop makes you appreciate the poop, but it definitely helps you tackle the poop and remember that being a mama is so much more than poop. ;)

6. Wake up before your children

Like I said before, alone time is more sacred to me than sleep. So, I discovered that having time to start my day before my children wake up and have all sorts of needs, is everything. When I was sleeping as long as possible, I noticed that waking up at the same time as them puts me in defensive mode for the whole day. So, instead of being in offensive and preventing "fires" I feel like I'm putting out "fires" all day. I also noticed that I wasn't eating, drinking, peeing, or getting dressed until like 3 pm...which does not set me up for success. Waking up a little earlier helps me be in a functioning state to take care of my little people and have a fun day with them!


7. My heart needs to be fed

More than ever before, the last few months I have begun to feel the weight of responsibility that comes with raising children. It is so much more than keeping them healthy and happy. Their hearts are growing under my teaching and by my example. The fact that my girls will develop their worldview under our roof is kind of terrifying. I know that I can't expect to teach them what to believe about themselves, what to believe about the world, and what to believe about Jesus if I'm not growing. The best way show them how to have a joyful heart is to be constantly learning myself. That means no matter how busy life gets, I need to be spending time with Jesus. I need to know Him, talk to Him, and learn His word. That is where I will get the answers and truth to speak into my girls' precious lives.

8. You can make changes as you go

Since having my second baby, I have realized I don't have to decide right now what life will look like for my family forever. I don't have to decide I'm going to be a certain kind of mom and stick with that stereotype or identity. I can decide that something is working for us right now, and down the road we may have to make changes. That doesn't mean my initial idea was bad or a failure. It means we are growing. The longer you are a mom, the more experience will you have, the more knowledge you will have, but it will also mean more on your plate with new stages of life as the years go on.


I'd love to hear from you what you are learning on this crazy journey of raising little ones! I'm so thankful it is a growing process!

Friday, May 24, 2019

Our Essentials for Baby Sleep


We have never been able to traditionally sleep train our children. We are not against it, we just have ended up creating our own mash up of tools and methods that work for our babies. So whether you're sleep training, co-sleeping, winging it, or something in between, I think the key is just knowing our own babies and doing whatever is best for them, ourselves and our families.

Here are few things that have been essential for us, because sometimes you're on the hunt for solutions and you just need some ideas. :)


My Kiddos

Joslynne
 has never been a good sleeper. She has been busy, adventurous, and known exactly what she wants from the beginning. As a baby, she napped for 15-30 minutes at the most and not making up for it with extra naps or sleeping in! Cue the mom tears! She woke up manyyy times a night, not just to eat, but to hang out for hours on end.

She was my champion nurser (who breastfed until 17 months) which made her clingy and not great at self soothing. She required rocking to sleep at the least EVERY. SINGLE. nap and at bedtime. Most times it was more like bouncing than rocking. You know the babies that require you to walk around bouncing them and scream the second you try to sit down? Ya, that's my child. Wes always said we had to do a work out to put her to bed because she really did fall asleep the easiest if we did actual squats with her! After we spent 20-30 minutes getting her to drift off, the saddest part was when she would wake up during the transfer to the crib. Once the movement stopped, no matter how carefully or quietly the transfer was made, if she was still, she was awake.

 You may be wondering why we didn't let her cry it out. Well, we tried. I would 100% be an advocate of her learning self soothe-- if she would do it. That girl would just keep crying...for hours! She has the will power of an....I don't even know, but she wasn't about to throw in the towel! At some point we all gotta sleep, so bouncing/squatting/rocking it was.

We calculated that in her first 7 months of life not only did we never sleep through the night, not one time, but I spent a total of 57 entire nights awake if you string all the hours together. :( I apologize for anything I said, did, or looked like during those months. By all means that kiddo is WORTH it, and she is our world, but reinforcements were a must.

Elaina
Thank you Jesus this baby can be placed in her bed without rocking! My legs aren't quite as toned, but I'll survive. ;)She has always been a champ at falling asleep on her own. In fact, rocking keeps her awake because she thinks its social time. The biggest challenge with this babe has been her flat out refusal to breastfeed. So, that means making bottles at all hours of the night. It's really ok, but our current hurdle is getting her to sleep through the night and stop waking up for her late night snack bottle. ;)


Essentials for Baby

Crib Vibrator


Since Joslynne woke up during the transfer from bouncing to the crib, this crib vibrator saved our lives. It just goes under the crib mattress. It vibrates the mattress for 30 minutes and gradually turns off on its own! We use it on top of the mattress too sometimes. Th vibrator helps soothe baby to sleep as well. We turn it on for Elaina too when she's feeling stubborn and crying it out is dragging on. You can find the one we have here.


Essential Oils

When Joslynne's naps were maxing out at a whopping 30 minutes, I was ready to try anything to help her sleep better! We've all heard about essential oils, and I didn't quite understand what they are used for. But, when I heard a friend talking about them supporting and helping with a good night's sleep in kid's and adults, I decided to look into it. I borrowed enough oils to make a sleep roller for Josy and we have seen such a difference! Now we have our own oils and love rolling the sleepy rollers on the bottoms of our kids' feet before naps and at bedtime.

Oils need to be diluted for babies according to their ages, but here's what we put in our "Dreamy Baby" roller:

Dreamy Baby Roller 
*Lavender
*Cedarwood
*Roman Chamomile
Peace and Calming
Drop in a 10 ml glass roller bottle and top off with fractionated coconut oil

*I don't use any oils on my baby's skin prior to 3 months. These are the first 3 I add when we start out out. We do just lavender first, then add a drop of each slowly. Starting with less is always best with littles! More about dilution ratios here

We also love diffusing in our babies' bedrooms an hour before bed time. I love this diffuser because you can set it to run for one hour. I fill it up and run it for an hour at a time several nights in a row before filling it again.


Dreamy Baby Diffuser blend
2 Drop Lavender
1 Drop Peace and Calming
1 Drop Cedarwood

One thing we just started this week is also putting Elaina's body lotion on before bed when we put PJ's on instead of in the mornings. The Young Living Seedlings baby lotion has great calming oils like lavender in it! It's been great so far!

More about Young Living Essential Oils and Products Here. Feel free to message me if you have questions or would like more info too!

White Noise

I accidentally discovered that vacuum noise works wonders for soothing Joslynne when she fell asleep ON HER OWN while I was vacuuming! I literally started turning on the vacuum if she wouldn't fall asleep. Then Wes thought surely there are vacuum videos on youtube! There actually are a few of someone literally recorded themselves vacuuming. Haha! But, there is also one that is just the noise and runs for 8 hours with no ads. That has been our go-to. We just turn it on a kindle in our baby's room at bedtime. I know there are sound machines out there, but having a tablet for our kids serves other purposes. So, it's been great for us!

The video we use is here.

Being careful with Youtube around kiddos is very important these days. We take precautions like:

Making sure the video has no ads and we've played it all the way through many times
Placing the tablet away from the baby so she can't see it
Turning off Auto Play
Using a video monitor at all times so we can hear and see what's going on in the nursery.

Blackout/Whiteout Curtains

Complete darkness is essential for helping babies fall asleep, because it helps them release Melatonin faster. That the hormone that regulates our sleep. Blackout curtains are a huge help in giving baby a dark environment no matter what time of day it is. I used to think the only light blocking curtains sold were heavy looking and dark colored. Then, we discovered blackout (sometimes called whiteout curtains) with white lining! They are thick and completely lined to block out light just like black lined ones! But, they fit a light/happy/cheery baby nursery theme a little better than dark colored curtains.

I found these gorgeous curtains by Pillowfort from Target!

Sleep Sack

I've been living under a rock,  but it took me a while to realize I could try a sleep sack to help with the transition from swaddling. It seems like babies sleep better and longer if they feel cozy and snuggled up. Obviously, we can't just put blankets over them in the crib, so a sleep sack is like a little sleeping bag with arm holes. It's a safe way to keep baby warm and cozy even while he or she flips and turns during the night! This is the one we have. :)


Essentials for Toddlers

Background Noise

Just like the vacuum white noise, Joslynne likes soothing music to fall asleep even as a toddler. We find that it helps her wind down to play classical music. We've found a video that shows coral reef fish swimming and it's put to classical music. Cue the kindle again!

For this, we made sure its not too entertaining to keep her awake, and it turns off after a time. Same safety rules apply here too! This video has no ads. :)

Essential Oils

Like I shared above, we use oils for our toddler similarly to what we do for babies. Our "Toddler Dreamy" roller just has more oils since they can handle more by 2 years old.

Dreamy Toddler Roller
 Lavender
Cedarwood
Roman Chamomile
Peace and Calming
Frankinsense
Orange
Drop in a 10 ml glass roller bottle and top off with fractionated coconut oil

We turn on the diffuser in Joslynne's room one hour before bed time too!

Dreamy Toddler Diffuser blend
2 Drop Lavender
2 Drop Peace and Calming
2 Drops Orange
1 Drop Cedarwood
1 Drop Frankinsense

"OK to Wake" Clock

We already established our girl is a go getter, so naturally also an early riser. It was getting hard to start the morning with 2 kiddos with Joslynne up at a different time every morning ready to start adventuring! We bought her an OK to Wake Alarm Clock and set it for 7 am. If she wakes up before then, she knows she needs to play in her room and wait to ask for milk, snacks, etc. until the green light turns on. She loves it and calls it her "bug". Sure enough, the second it turns from yellow to green, that girl is upstairs ready to go! It just helps me situate a few things in the morning before there are lots of requests flooding my way. ;) The consistency has helped Joslynne actually sleep until the same time most days now too!

There is a nap mode too and she never wakes up before 2 hours has passed now! HALLELUJAH!

Routine

My little one is all about knowing what to expect. She functions so well with routines and explanations of what's coming next. It may seem obvious, but I've found that telling her what we are doing after her nap or something exciting about the next day helps her be ready and willing for bedtime.

She also loves doing the same little routine every night before bed and each afternoon before nap time.

Where to sleep

This obviously has to be within reason, but one of the things that helped Joslynne sleep longer is letting her nap where she wants to. It has to be away from the noise of the house, but she slept twice as long when I let her nap in our room instead of the crib. (Once she could safely crawl out of my bed). She also asked one day to start sleeping in her big girl bed, and I was afraid she would be up all night if we jumped into it. But, she slept through the night better than she had been in the crib! I guess she was just ready to be a big girl!

Newborn photos by: Misty D. Photography

There's no wrong answer here. It's great to listen to other people's ideas, but in the end, just listen to your mama sense and do what works for your family and your little ones. We just tried new things until our babies started snoozing! Oh, and grace, and caffeine. Give yourself lottttts of grace and caffeine as needed. ;)

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