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Thursday, December 27, 2012

book - 1-2-3 Magic

1-2-3 Magic - Effective Discipline for Children 2-12 by Thomas W. Phelan, Ph.D. 

I've wanted to read this book for a while, as I've heard it mentioned on the Mommy Stories Facebook discussion group and with friends. It was such a straight-forward, easy to understand book. In the first chapter I already made up my mind that I needed to write a blog post about it to share how great of a resource this could be for parents. It's simple info, probably things you've already thought about or tried in disciplining your children but it is a good refresher of why these things work with children.

Here are a few ideas from the book:


Your parenting job:
-The best parenting method includes these two things: warm and friendly, and demanding and firm with your children. (page 7)
- 3 Parenting Jobs: controlling obnoxious behavior, encouraging good behavior, strengthening our relationship with our children. (page 11)
-Do not assume your child is a Little Adult. They are selfish and not in control of their actions, it's just how they are. They don't understand your long explanations of why what they did was inappropriate. Stop talking and talking and talking, short explanations and reasoning with kids is best, according to Phelan.
 
-Use 1-2-3 counting method for:
whining, fighting, arguing, yelling, tantrums, etc. NOT for things like getting kid up in the  morning or to do homework (page 27)
-When the tantrum starts you calmly look at your child and say "That's 1" holding up one finger.... and so on to 3, waiting 5 seconds in between. Then if the child still doesn't calm down at count 3, you say "take 5" and have them go to rest or time out. Or you can take something away, make bed time earlier, etc. depending on the age, according to Phelan.
-After the time out, there is no talking, processing, apologizing, etc. They just go about their business. Explanations only happen if the behavior is "new, unusual or dangerous," according to Phelan.

"The 'magic' of the 1-2-3 procedure is not in the counting itself. The power of the method comes primarily from your ability to accomplish two goals. Your first objective is to explain - when necessary - and then keep quiet. Your second objective is to count as calmly and unemotionally as you can. Do these two things well and your children will start listening to you!" page 102.

There are several chapters offering great tactics that encourage positive behavior, as well as answers to questions on how to help curb certain negative behaviors like kids who get out of bed too early, etc. Great info for older kids too - homework help, technology tips, etc.

Overall a good read and mostly reminder of solid information that works.


new mom survival kit


I found this great idea for a New Mom Survival Kit on Pinterest and just added to it to make it my own as I prepared this gift for my sister-in-law (due Christmas Day, delivered a few weeks prior!). It was so fun finding things that would help out a new mom or at least make her laugh. I tried thinking back to my time as a new mom, what I wish I'd had.


Here's what I included in this version of the New Mom Survival Kit for my sister-in-law:

tissues - you may want to cry sometimes - happy or frustrated tears - and it's all ok
sour patch kids - to remind you that all kids are different, and despite how sour they are at times, underneath they are so sweet
starburst - to give you a burst of energy when you are exhausted
water bottle - to keep you hydrated
wrapping paper - for all the birthday parties you'll be invited to
band-aids - for all those boo-boos you will fix
Snoopy magnets - because you're about to add a whole lot of fun to your house
coffee magnet - whatever it takes to keep you awake
wine cork - for those crazy days
to do list grocery magnet for fridge - to keep track of those groceries diapers, etc. you run out of
mac n' cheese - something you will be cooking a lot
photo book of shower pics - so you remember to take lots of pictures of baby


calendar - to keep track of all of those doctor visits, birthday parties and dates
tape - because you will be mom and moms are strong enough to keep it all stuck together
hand sanitizer - to wash away the germs - babies are gross!
air heads - you thought preggo brain was bad, just wait for mommy brain! don't say I didn't warn you - you will lose your mind
Dove chocolate - so you remind yourself to indulge a little and take care of yourself
towel - for all the messes you will be cleaning up
dog toys - to distract those jealous first babies you already have - puppies
gum - for those days when you can't quite get it together to brush your teeth
body wash - to remind you to take time for you daily - shower!
batteries - for those noisy toys or the swing to work in the middle of the night
night lights - to light up the hallway toward baby's room because sorry but you'll be up late
laundry basket - because you'll be doing a lot of it now
magnet pic of two of you - so you remember where it all started - with you two, in love and laughing.. remember to have fun together



OTHER IDEAS: (Tons of other ideas came to mind! You can be super creative with this!)
-binder of take out or delivery restaurants in the area
-gift card for takeout food
-burp cloths
-Shutterfly gift card to order birth announcements, baby book photos, etc.
-Parent magazine subscription
-What to Expect the First Year, Toddler Years books
-Journal to write down all the cute memories
-Nursing tank tops
-nursing pads
-Lansinoh breast cream
-Mommy Juice (a brand of wine)
-Nursery rhyme book
-Wipes to clean up all the messes
-Date night ideas or even actual date night envelopes of things they have to do. 
-List of phone numbers of those to call for babysitting or a babysitting info pad of paper they can keep on the fridge
-Gift card to their registry store to pick up last minute items 

Sunday, December 16, 2012

what I'd do over with a newborn

Now that I've had two babies and with a zillion mommas around me pregnant with another child, I am reflecting on what I'd do differently if I were pregnant again in the future or in the hospital with a newborn. Hindsight is 20-20 afterall, so we can think more clearly in the absence of hormones and sleep deprivation. 

After our first child I made a mental list of things I swore I'd do the next time around with baby #2. I'm happy to say I did these things and would do them again with another baby someday because they helped sooo much:
-Take a video of our newborn in the hospital and then within a week at home.
-SLEEP when baby sleeps. I did this! It made my recover go so much faster the second time around.
-Ignore lactation consultants and do what works for us with nursing, bottles, etc. Advocate my needs for myself. 
-Send baby to nursery even for two hours to get some sleep. This made my recovery go better also. 
-Be present, all the time, not worrying so much. 
-Keep baby with me and do skin-to-skin immediately after C-section, instead of waiting at least an hour after birth to try nursing. This worked wonders and made me feel so much less anxiety than I did with my son's birth and he was taken away for an hour with my husband while they stitched me up. 



Here are a list of things I'd do differently the next time around. 
What about you? What would be on your list?


-Take a picture of our new family the first day in the hospital, all looking pretty and at the camera. We do not have a good picture at all of my husband, son and I with our new daughter. It was taken fast by family and just didn't come out nice at all. Then I see couples or families all smiling at the camera nice and I want a picture like that!

-Take a really good picture and video of the first moment my kids meet their new sibling. I don't have a good picture at all of my son meeting his sister for the first time. Again, taken too quickly. I wish nobody had been in the room except for us when it happened, too. We had some family there and I wish it had just been us so we could have taken our time and gotten a good picture.

-Take a picture of my newborn in the bassinet in the hospital - but take it from above, standing up so I can see how little the baby was in that thing. I found this on Pinterest recently and want to take one someday. Clearly my husband would need to do that.

-Take video of my belly when the baby moved around and kicked in it. I so tried doing this, but it didn't come out right. I saw a video like this recently it's sooo cool. I want to remember that feeling someday when I no longer get pregnant again.

-Take video of me pregnant, dancing preferably with my kids. How funny would this be? I took a zillion videos the year I was pregnant with my daughter, yet none are of me in it pregnant with the big old belly or of my son kissing the belly, etc. I'd love to have taped that.

-Take a picture of my belly every month in the same shirt the whole pregnancy just to see it grow. I took a picture of me every month, but in different outfits. I do think it'd be cool to do it in the same shirt like I've seen people do before. Takes some practice and diligence. I'll give it a try someday.

-Not tell people early like we did with the last two by 8 weeks. I'd wait longer and enjoy the time to ourselves. When pregnant with number 2 there were sooo many comments, lots of them annoying or negative, "Another one? Wow, you don't know what you're in for!" so I think the next time around I'd wait longer before telling anyone we were expecting, just so we could enjoy that high of knowing about a baby on the way to ourselves a little longer.



-Wear a Bella Band earlier! Never knew about these wonderful contraptions until the very end of my second pregnancy.Are you kidding me?! I was mad at all pregnant women I'd ever known before my second pregnancy for NOT telling me about this thing! My sister-in-law gave me one and I was in heaven! No shirts went down low enough, my belly was always hanging out. I totally intend to get a few of these next time around, too. It helped with lower back pain. Every pregnant woman should have it!

-Ask for physical therapy WAY sooner and even treat myself to massages. I asked for this in my 9th month, but it took forever to actually get it set up, I went maybe two or three times before baby arrived. I would ask for this ASAP, like back in month 4 of pregnancy when my sciatic hip pain was terrible.

-Have more time just us with our newborn before allowing guests in to see him/her. I didn't do enough staring at the baby with peace and quiet, totally focused. I am sooo excited to share our new baby with family and friends that we invite them in quickly after the babies are born. I think the next time we'll spend an hour just us sitting there, staring at this new person, being just us, before we invite our other kids and family in to meet the baby. You never get that time back.


-Have my husband stay out of work longer to enjoy that time. It goes by so fast, it should be enjoyed by all of us together. He was out for weeks after my son was born because he changed jobs. Financially that was not good, but otherwise it was wonderful having him home and bonding with our son. After my daughter, he was home a week... yet 5 of those days were spent in the hospital because I had a surgery. We got home on a Friday and he went back to work Monday, so really he was not home much. Next time around I'd see if we could plan it so he's home a full week out of the hospital, or at least going in half days or something. Dads don't get enough credit for what they go through too when a baby is born. They deserve some time to bond with baby, help out mom and care for siblings, while resting themselves if they can - they're up at night, too.

-Have someone take more pictures of ME sleeping with baby. I have a zillion of my husband sleeping with our daughter and our son as newborns, because to me those are the sweetest pictures ever in the whole world. And yet I don't know that I have a single one of me sleeping with them. I need to tell my husband to take some of these. Next time around I think I'd stage one at least so I have it!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

these are the days

"These are days you'll remember. 
Never before and never since, I promise,
Will the whole world be warm as this. 
And as you feel it, you'll know it's true,
That you are blessed and lucky. 
It's true. That you are touched by something
that'll grow and bloom, you." 
-10,000 Maniacs

I have loved this song since high school. Every time I hear it it reminds me of those last few weeks of high school when we seniors felt we were on top of the world, everything was going our way, and we were unstoppable. We were achieving our goals. We were making it all happen. We knew change was upon us, but we were eager for it to come all the same. It's a bittersweet song. It's that moment you realize that it's all over, yet it was so amazing that you don't even mind it being gone by because you know you have the memories forever.


For some reason as I was uploading these pictures from our recent trip to the playground I thought of this song. It may have been the unseasonably warm December afternoon we had or the silly smiles on my babies' faces that afternoon that got me all reminiscing.



It was one of those afternoons when I was able to stop and see my kids, really see them.
I saw their silliness. 
How they laugh at everything, I mean EVERYthing around them.

I saw their zest for life. How my son races toward the playground slide as if he's never done it before,
 like it's the coolest thing EVER.
How my daughter squishes up her nose and squints her eyes like I do when I smile, 
at merely the sound of me saying, "Hi baby girl."



I saw how the world was just right for them, in this little place, down some random street, with kids around them, the sun and their mama. It was all they needed.

I started to think about my little man, who sometimes is a great big crazy man who gets cranky when tired and over excited when hungry. Who asks "why?" more times than I can count in an hour, and who wants to do it all by his self now when I beg him to hurry up to get his shoes and coat on to get out the door. I realize that he's just this little guy in there, despite how frustrating it can be sometimes raising a toddler on the verge of pre-school-land. It takes patience, oh, sooo much patience, to manage those challenging moments when he thinks he's smarter than I am. There are definitely trying moments. There are nights when I count the seconds until my husband comes home to relieve me from being on solo duty with two kids because I just need a tiny little break to breathe.


More so though, and in this moment at the playground, imagining the words to that song, realizing THESE really ARE the days I'm going to remember, want to reminisce about someday. Seeing my happy, smiley little O-Man way too big in this baby swing, screaming with laughter, asking his sister if she is having fun on her swing, and asking me to push him faster and a second later screeching that I pushed him too high and to slow him down...I'll remember only this someday when it's long gone by and he's some wicked sassy teenager.
I'll just remember this. The laughter and fun we had. Because really, what else matters?


I started to think, I want to remember this and that, too. Always.
I want to recall how little my son's feet were, and how even tinier my daughter looked next to him swinging all by herself for the first time.
I want to know what it was like that day to see my son wearing his way-too-small winter hat because he begged me to "weaaarrr thaaaaat onnnneeee mama! pleeeease!"


I want to remember how when I was pregnant with my son and a co-worker gave me the hand-knit strawberry hat, I secretly hoped I'd get a daughter to wear it someday ... and when I got my son I was overjoyed and just put away the strawberry hat for "someday." And how "someday" is here... with my little strawberry-hat-wearing daughter. And how overjoyed I am this second time around, too.


I want to soak it all up. Take it all in.
Savor it.
Keep it in a little box in my mind and corner of my heart forever, some place where the feelings of days like this sunny one at the playground won't disappear despite my son growing as tall as a kindergartener even though he's still 2 years old for a few more months, and despite my daughter getting to the other side of the first half of her first year as if in a blink of my tired eyes.

I want to always hear my son's laugh and screech of excitement as I pushed him on the swing this day.
I want to remember how little my daughter was at this moment and how I could hold her for hours and not get tired of it because she was still little enough to do that.
I want to remember when my daughter had no teeth and couldn't stand up, and my son stumbled on words like "Chris-Chris" for Christmas and how he counts "1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 9, 12, 16, 20" on some days and other days totally skips 5-10 to get to 12. 


It's just all part of motherhood. 
The remembering. The forgetting and then being reminded. 
Because our kids are growing. They are blooming, like the song says, into something spectacular.
How lucky are we to be along for the ride, to watch it happen before our eyes, and know that we are responsible for all of it?

We, who nourish and encourage and cherish our babies into becoming little people of their own, we did that.

We do that every day by being present and in the moment with our babies. By not forgetting. By trying so hard to take a snapshot in our minds of what this moment in time was like. So we can keep them little forever in our hearts. So we can know that there was a time when all our kids wanted was our attention, our hand to hold, our eyes lit up and laughing, totally focused on them. So we can hold onto this notion when the days are long and the moments are ticking by at the end of a long day. We can reach into our mind's photo album and realize it's all still there - the itty bitty baby moments, the toddler growth spurts, and the childhood of laughter we enjoyed so much.


It's all there. 
It's there for us to capture as something special if we only stop to realize it.
We just need to recognize those days when they are upon us, not when they've gone by.
We need to remind ourselves that really, it's the small, seemingly insignificant moments like these at the playground, those day-to-day endeavors that really mean the most to our children.
And then we need to hang on tight to those memories and hug our babies.
For someday soon, they won't be babies anymore.



"These are days you'll remember..."

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Mom of the Month - Heather Steinback

  •  I've had this idea for a little while now to honor a Mom of the Month in the Mommy Stories Facebook group, as a way to get to know one another better and mostly to recognize all the great things we are doing as moms in our day-to-day lives. I think we can all learn from one another and deserve some recognition for what we do. We don't get to hear thanks often enough for all the cool things we do, so I'm hoping by recognizing a mom a month we can start to feel super cool about the great moms that we are to our kids! You can nominate a mom by emailing me at themommystories@gmail.com. 


    The first Mom of the Month is my dear friend from high school, Heather Steinback!

    She is the reason I started this blog, as a gift for her when she was pregnant I decided to start writing some advice in the form of a blog. I'm so pleased she found some time to answer my questions. She's one of the most inspiring, honest, real, hard working, determined and dedicated mothers I know. Her daughter, Selah, turns a year old this weekend, and their family has been through it all this year- starting with some major health issues for Selah. Heather is one of those moms who had expectations for how the first year would be (like we ALL do) and who was thrown a major curve ball of health issues in her daughter. She had to change up her point of view and ideas for how to be a good mom. I know she struggles now a year later to even realize all the good things she's done for her daughter, but I see them every time I'm with them, see a picture of pretty smiley Selah, or hear in my friend's voice how much she adores her daughter and would sacrifice anything for her.

    It's fitting to post this now, on the eve of her daughter's first birthday!

    The one thing I hope you learn from this momma, Heather, is that we need to recognize what we DO for our babies more than what we feel we have left out, disappointed, or been unable to do for whatever reason. We do a LOT. It's OK to let the other things go and just acknowledge how great we really are!

    Heather is one incredibly strong momma! Check out her answers below:


    Describe your child in 3-5 words Selah is:
    Determined
    Fighter
    Passionate
    Joy
    Laughter

    When was your child born and where?
    12.9.11
    Indianapolis, In
      
    How would you describe your pregnancy?
    After hearing what some have gone through, my pregnancy was relatively easy. The typical nausea (throughout all 9 mo however), wicked tired all the time! My craziest craving was Philly cheesesteaks, seeing I don't eat steak! Ever! My baby was very active always doing flips and kicking from the earliest point you could feel her. The worst for me was the heartburn and leg cramps. I had leg cramps and hip pain from very early on (1st trimester)...ended up putting two featherbeds and numerous blankets on top of each other on my side of bed with pillows propped everywhere - literally like half a foot higher than my husband! I woke up constantly with Charlie horses and hip pain. And seeing we are all moms...the other horrible aspect was constipation. Let's be honest, it's not pretty. I wish I was that cute preggo lady who was all belly and looked perfect, no I was the one always constipated, hot sweats and always carrying an extra pair if underwear in my purse due to lack of bladder control. Just sayin...



      
    Describe yourself as a mom in 3-5 words
    Compassionate
    Nurturing
    And if I was to be completely honest...most of the time I feel anxious, stressed, worried and fearful! However, I pray everyday my daughter oversees all of that and only takes the unconditional love I strive so hard to put forth! 

    What type of mom do you hope your child thinks you were someday when she's old enough to tell you?
    That she recognizes every single decision I made for her was out of love and with her best interest in mind. That regardless of the panic and pandemonium this world and parents are surrounded by, I kept a level of stability and peace for her, exemplifying faith, hope, and love. 



    What things have you done as a mom that you're most proud of?
    The month I had gotten pregnant, I had just moved to a new state, leaving my life and friends of ten years, still far from my own family, had just bought our first home, settled down for the first time and started new job. By the time my daughter turns one this upcoming week, I had encountered her birth, my husband had been out of work for over a year, my daughter was born with a kidney disorder, one surgery for my husband, one surgery for my daughter (and one upcoming), numerous hospital stays and testing, scared of the unknowns, a second job change in the midst if it all, being the sole breadwinner for the family and neverending medical bills all without the physical support of living near my own family.

    I will be honest and say I wish I would have handled it better, as there was not a single day where I didn't kick and scream and cry myself to sleep because it was just so much at once, especially during my daughter's first year of life and my first year of motherhood. And, the whole time I kept thinking "I've failed as a mom because I'm always so stressed each minute I spend with my daughter due to the big picture of our lives..." but as I look back on her first year I realize 1) my husband and I are still married (and happily and stronger for that matter) 2) we still have our home and precious belongings we've worked so hard for 3) most importantly, although a long hard road my daughter's health will be okay.

    In all, I survived this first year and came out on top. Whether, I believe I could have done it better or not, I did it. I made it through her first year despite all the overwhelming life circumstances thrown at us...and I still have my family at the end if the day. That is my greatest accomplishment as a mother. 

    What have been the most difficult parts to being a mom?
     Everything I've faced in my first year of motherhood has been in some way difficult (not to say that my daughter has not been my greatest blessings and we've had health miracles and amazing joy as well). But by far the hardest has been seeing my daughter go through her health battle. As moms, we all know how hard it is to see our babies in pain. Not only to see her go through all the testing, poking and prodding but just the scares we initially had, the constant pressure of never knowing of landing in the hospital Etc...for me the other most difficult aspect was having to leave her in the midst of it to go to work. There were times in the hospital when I had to leave my precious baby in the arms of other family or my husband. Yes, that is a better situation than the options some have but we all know, no one comforts like your mother does. Any other time, I would have quit my job to be with her, but that was not a choice for us with my husbands employment situation. Most recently, leaving her during her last hospital stay to start a new job, where I had to put a face on and forget it was happening just to get through the day and somehow perform flawlessly.

    I can look back and see reasons for it all but I will say I still can look back and see her face as I had to leave and how gut wrenching hard it was. But, it's the reason I went to work that she could and continues to have top rated healthcare and treatment. And though it's the hardest thing I've ever done as a mother, it's one of the greatest things I could have ever done for her... 


    What is your favorite baby product(s) that makes your mom job easier?
    Snap and Go (so convenient in the early months)
    City Mini stroller (I really think its the best stroller ever esp for those that travel...the TSA were even impressed this last time I flew with how easy it was!)
    Tommy tippie bibs for reflux babies a must
    Video monitor
    Thinkbaby sippy cups
    Sleep apnea mat (a huge stress reliever for us as parents with a baby with reflux and then health issues) - do whatever makes your life easier and stress free! 

    Advice for a new mom?
    Be prepared for the unexpected and most importantly roll with it (sounds total cliche I know...). Going into this, I had years of experience with children and was at one time a full-time nanny. I had no fears of parenting starting out. I just really felt confident heading into it. But once you are a parent and they are yours, you consider life more valuable because you have more invested in it. This makes you view things in such a new light. If you worry about each and every little thing along the way you will slowly lose sight of what it's all about (again cliche but true). Take it one day at a time and don't worry about the little things (do this or do that, bottle or boob, formula or breast milk, cosleep or not, etc) just thank God for the gift of life and enjoy every minute of it...and the rest of it will fall into place... 



    What is a typical day like for you? 
    Typical day for me goes one of two ways. If a work day, I get up and get ready at 5:30, then get up my little one and feed her and get her ready. I pack the final baby items /diaper bag, food, meds, etc...My husband takes her to my sister in law's, I head to work by 8am (45 min commute and coffee in hand), work, work, work ...45 min commute and home by 6pm. Throw a quick dinner together and feed the little one while we eat. Play for half hour, bath and bedtime routine for half hour (meds, books, teeth brush, etc) Clean, pack diaper bag, food prep, laundry, iron work clothes etc...then hopefully for an hour or two sit and watch TV, blog, Facebook...etc. Days I am off - lounge in our PJs, coffee and big family breakfast, playtime, snuggles, errands, family time. And you know, somewhere in there all that other stuff, bill paying, grocery shopping, dr appts, family events and outings, and just you know other life details....
HAPPY 1st BIRTHDAY, SELAH RAIN!

Friday, December 7, 2012

no hurting hands!

My Story
Hi, my name is Angela, and my son was a hitter.
My son was 21 months old when he started hitting his buddy at daycare. He hit us at home also at the same time, and then moved on to his cousins, friends. Just about daily, sometimes multiple times a day, he hit. He hit because he wanted a toy that someone else took. He hit when he didn't want to take a bath or get dressed or eat his dinner. He hit when he was truly just playing around, but it was not appropriate because it was way too rough even though he thought it was just playing. He hit when nothing at all was happening to trigger him. He hit when kids would nag at him. He hit when he was overtired, hungry, and emotional. He hit as a response to me being pregnant at the time and not able to pick him up as much, baby on the way, busy.

It was terrible.
It went on almost daily for 10 months.
I cried a lot over it. I was so frustrated. We tried EVERYTHING.
It was one of the hardest situations I've dealt with yet as a parent. Long, exhausting, disappointing.
We lost friends. We avoided going certain places at specific times. We got stares and weird looks.
We felt judged. We felt hopeless. We felt like bad parents, like it was our fault.
We were angry and sad, utterly confused and clueless.


And now that it's over, the hitting stopped months ago, I'm in a place to reflect back on it for what it was - A PHASE. A toddler tantrum phase. I was told by few that it would pass, that he'd stop eventually. In the moment though, that's hard to hang on to or accept as truth. You feel like your child won't ever stop. But I swear they do. They will. You just have to figure it out along the way and be as patient as you possibly can. And know you are NOT alone! I wish someone had said that to me when we were were going through this with my son - "you're not alone, your son is not a bad kid, he's just going through a thing right now, this too will pass." I wish someone had said that to me, so I'm saying it to you now. 



Why hitting?
There are a zillion reasons why kids hit.
-Overtired, hungry, overwhelmed - some physical response
-Angry, frustrated, upset, sad, disappointed, jealous - over a new sibling, a change in the home, etc.
-Wanting attention
-Asserting new independence
-Sick, so increase in their aggression, decrease in their tolerance
-Watching another kid do it at daycare or play dates, copy cat behavior 
-Peer troubles - not able to share easily, jealousy over taking toys or playing with others, etc.
-Unable to express feelings with words
-Got attention for hitting before so now keeps trying to get more attention for it
-Pretend, playing, thinking it's a game or how to play actively with someone
-Because someone older is picking on them so they pick on those younger than they are to feel in control or powerful (yes, even young toddlers can get this)
-Developmentally impulsive by nature
-TV characters on shows portraying aggression or rough playing that kids interpret as hitting
-wants to see what will happen (cause and effect)
-ETC

Whatever the reason, it's our job as parents to figure it out, at least to the best of our ability, in an attempt to help our child through it. They can't tell us what their behavior means, not in words anyway. If they could, they'd just simply ask for whatever it is that they need. So instead, they do what they can and know - physically react.



What's the trigger?
You first need to figure out what the trigger is. What is causing the hitting behavior? Why is my child resorting to hitting another person? Start tracking it in your head, or even on paper. Jot down what happened just before or even in the hour before the incident. Did your child give you clues before he ended up hitting that showed you he was escalating?

When I started tracking this I realized my son WAS showing me clues that he was "all done" with a given situation, he wanted to leave, he was tired or hungry, he was upset with a particular friend and didn't want to be near her anymore, etc. I started watching these signs that would ultimately lead up to my son hitting someone. He knew that if he did it enough we'd leave a situation he didn't like or want anymore. So I became smarter and more clued into my son, having to leave play dates and events numerous times before I was ready to do so because I knew it was best for him.

Things to try:
Once you figure out the triggers you can attempt to prevent those situations from coming up. You can't always prevent though, so in the situations when hitting does happen here are some things we tried:
-Teach them how to express their feelings with words. "Tell me with words how you are feeling. What's wrong? What's going on right now that makes you want to hit? Are you angry? Frustrated?"

-Reflect back to your child what you see they must be feeling, in a child-like tone of voice, "It's no fair! You wanted to play with that toy, you're mad, right?" Once you express it back to them, they feel understood, heard, accepted in their moment of frustration. Then you can move on to saying the truth or fact... "I know it's no fair that your friend wants to play with the same toy you want, but we have to be a good sharer, right? Then you'll get another turn in a minute."

-Read books that show what good touch and bad touch are when it comes to hitting. Hands Are Not For Hurting was our favorite book by Free Spirit.
(image from Amazon)

-Talk about what it means to be a good friend - sharing toys, using nice words and hands, etc. Read books about this also.

-Show your child what they can do with their hands instead of hitting. They need a physical way to let out aggression if they are hitting, teach them something else. We first taught my son to clap his hands. Stomping feet, squeezing hands in and out in fists, running in place or jumping up and down, those are all good ways to let out energy.

-In the moment, address it every single time you see your child hit someone. Using a stern voice, on their level so you can see their eyes and they can really focus on what you're saying, say something like, "We do not hit. No hurting hands." Remove them from a situation if they do not stop. Discipline every time you see it.

-Praise - even exaggeratedly - the times you see your child behave, listen, act appropriately with peers, share, be kind, etc. You must show him how to behave.

-Make him apologize for his actions, every time, without fail. It's important.

-When your child witnesses another kid hitting someone talk about that. "That boy hit that other boy, that must have made him sad. Why do you think he did that? That's not nice. Friends do not hit. We don't have hurting hands. You are a good boy, you don't hurt with your hands, right?"

-Just leave! If it's getting worse or your child is not listening to you, leave the play date or event or even family function. It's not good for anyone for you to stick around.

-It can be so frustrating that sometimes you need a break, a step away from the situation. You also have to bounce back quickly from a situation and realize your child is just a 2-year-old or however old they are, they don't know what they are doing really, they are not purposely doing this to make your life miserable. They are kids. They don't like being in trouble all the time over hitting, but for some reason it's what they know to do right now. So be patient and understanding, and don't forget to console them and love them. They need you the most when they are at their worst.


Happy Ending
For us, the story has a happy ending. Knock on wood, my son has not hit in months. He's more verbal now, can express "I'm mad" much better than he could a year ago. He's adjusted to me being pregnant then bringing home his little sister. He has new friend situations that have just altered him into behaving differently. He's finally gotten sick of hearing us say "no hurting hands" over and over, I guess, who knows! I don't know the real reason he stopped hitting, I think it's a combination of things. Whatever it was, I'm HAPPY! He's happy! It was his terrible two tantrum phase "thing," that's what I chalk it up to being. A thing. And it sucked, boy did it really suck. But we got through it, all in one piece. And I know that I was not a bad mother, ever, during it. We did the best we could.

To those who see other mothers going through this, please don't judge. Whatever you are thinking, they have already thought before. If you are thinking, "Well why don't they just try this or that to deal with the hitting?" I can assure you we moms dealing with it have already thought of those things and 100 other ideas. Just have patience. That's what the moms and the kids in the situation really need - acceptance and patience.

To those just starting down this terrible hitting path, know you are not alone and that it WILL pass at some point. Just keep doing what you're doing, trying, being patient yourself, and ask for help. You are not a bad mom because your child hits. It will get better!

RESOURCES:

www.growingajeweledrose.com/2012/09/kids-who-hit-and-how-to-teach-them-not.html
Some great tips from real moms on how to turn hitting into hugging!

www.babycenter.com/0_aggression-hitting-and-biting_11550.bc
Baby Center always has great ideas. This article explains why it happens and what to do about it.

www.babycenter.com/404_how-can-i-get-my-child-to-stop-hitting-me_13938.bc
Tips for if your child is hitting you.

www.parenting.com/article/ask-dr-sears-toddler-hitting
Dr. Sears offers good advice like tracking the trigger of what happens just before the hitting starts.

www.parents.com/toddlers-preschoolers/development/behavioral/tough-toddlers-hitting-biting/?page=1
Great article on 4 triggers to hitting and biting - including that kids explore with their mouths so biting is a natural thing sometimes, and that hitting can happen when kids are defending their turf.

www.phdinparenting.com/2011/09/28/toddler-hitting-5-strategies-to-handle-it/
Good strategies like removing your child from a situation that may be triggering her to hit.

www.fisher-price.com/en_US/playtime/parenting/articlesandadvice/articledetail.html?article=tcm:169-20771 
Some great ideas about why toddlers act the way they do -such as, It feels good I'm doing it, or I want to so I can and will.

www.whattoexpect.com/toddler/behavior/hitting-and-kicking.aspx
This site always has good tips.

http://blog.positivediscipline.com/2007/05/toddlers-and-hitting-stage.html
Based on info in a good book about discipline I've read, some good language to use with your child.



Monday, December 3, 2012

organize your holiday

It's so busy this time of year that it's hard to keep things organized, yet the more organized you are I swear the happier and less stressed you'll be during the holiday season. I wrote a post earlier last month about how to stay organized ahead of the game. Now these are some tips for staying organized in the thick of it with 3 weeks left until Christmas! So try these tips for keeping things - mostly your brain - in order! 

More organized may mean more sleep ... try it!


1. UPDATE ADDRESSES - Keep envelopes from those who send you Christmas cards so you can update your address book with their new addresses.

2. CARDS LIST - Keep a list of who you send Christmas cards to so you know if you need to send one to someone else as cards come in the mail.

3. WRAP LIKE GIFTS TOGETHER - When you wrap gifts put them into piles and then ultimately into bags of places they are going. For example, we go to my mom's house and we go to my husband's parents' house, so I have two separate bags for the gifts that go to those places. These gifts don't go under our tree because they won't be opened at our house anyway. It makes things SO much easier when Christmas does come and it's time to take gifts out of the house on Christmas morning.

4. TOTE BAGS FOR GIFTS -  Take large tote bags to the houses where you will be opening gifts for your kids so you can put them in the tote bags to take home. At my in-laws' house there are 5 kids, 2 on the way, so 7 child-like gifts all over the place, being opened at once and thrown aside because the kids want to move on to the next toy. It's mayhem - fun though for sure! My husband and I tried last year to grab the gifts from our toddler quickly and put into a plastic bag to make sure we took them home, but it was chaotic. This year I'm going in with tote bags - big LL Bean ones with my kids' names on them that we use for traveling. I'm hoping this will be easier.

5. CALENDAR WHITE BOARD - This is a must this time of year especially with all the holiday parties, yankee swaps, church events, concerts, etc. Update it every week.

6. EXTRA CARDS AND STAMPS - Keep extra blank Christmas cards and stamps around the house just in case someone stops by with an unexpected gift or sends you a card but you forgot to put them on your list. It's the thought that counts, not always being on top of your game the first time around!

7. QUICK MEALS - Have something on hand at all times for quick meals - homemade dishes you stuck in the freezer; spaghetti and sauce; frozen pizza, etc. Have something you can whip up on your way off to a concert or parade so you aren't stuck running through the drive through every time.

8. STAY REALISTIC - Don't pressure yourself to do it all. Say no. Cut back. It's OK to wrap gifts tonight instead of do 3 loads of laundry. Laundry can wait until tomorrow or even the weekend. Do what works, and that will help you stay organized.

9. DIVIDE AND CONQUER - Ask for help from your partner. My husband is in charge of our Elf on the Shelf. I said I just cannot take on one more thing right now and he's LOVING doing it every day, so there you go! Ask your kids to help out if they're old enough. They can wrap gifts, put stamps on Christmas cards, seal envelopes, put their laundry away, etc.

10. SCHEDULE DOWN TIME -It's so busy this time of year that yes, unfortunately, sometimes you have to SCHEDULE in your down time. Make a rule of doing nothing on Sunday afternoons or Wednesday evenings. Make it a rule that you can wrap gifts and do other chores until 8 p.m. on week nights and then after that you're relaxing on the couch watching holiday shows or eating popcorn or doing nothing at all. You need to relax in order to keep it together this season. Remember it's OK to take time off.

11. LISTS - You MUST have lists for everything. Write down the gifts you still need to get, the ones you already purchased so you don't end up purchasing again, what supplies you need like tape or wrapping paper, when the parties are going to be and what you said you'd bring for food, etc. Keep lists on the fridge, in your purse, on your computer desk at work, wherever it'll help you remember what you have to get and by when.


12. STICK TO YOUR KIDS' ROUTINES - Don't avoid their naps just because that's when your friend is visiting Santa. Babies need routine, they thrive off of it. Kids like to know what to expect. All goes haywire when we forget to feed them and have them well rested, and they end up sick, too. So stick to what works for your family. It'll keep you more organized and less stressed, for sure.

Try a few of these things and I swear you'll be enjoying more and stressing less. 


Sunday, December 2, 2012

HO HO HO gettin' in the spirit we go

The Christmas season is so much fun with kids. 
It allows us to be children again ourselves! Who doesn't love that?! Here are some fun and easy ideas for enjoying this season to its fullest. It comes but once a year so try to find the joy in it, despite some stress, chaos and feeling too busy that also comes this time of year. Have FUN!


Here are 25 ideas for you to do this December until Christmas comes to keep your family having fun together and in the holiday spirit! 

1. Elf on the Shelf

2. Make and decorate cookies

3. Play in the snow

4. Drive around looking at Christmas lights

5. Put up blow-up decorations or lights out in your yard

6. Read Christmas books at the library

7. Make an Advent calendar

8. Paint a Christmas tree with kids' hand prints and let them decorate it with their fingers

9. Make ornaments for the tree - tons of ideas on Pinterest

10. Put on Christmas music and dance around the house

11. Make Christmas cards for grandparents, teachers, babysitters, etc. with pictures from coloring books, red and green paper, etc.

12. Go to church or to the kids' pageant and sing holiday songs

13. Take a walk down your street looking at lights and singing Christmas carols really loudly

14. Give - Bake cookies for the nursing home, sing carols at the hospital, pick out gifts for kids' in need this year from a giving tree

15. Talk to your kids about other holidays that their friends might be celebrating this time of year like Hanukah. Read books about those holidays, too. 

16. Write a letter to Santa - for your younger ones, you ask them the questions and write their answers for their letter to Santa then visit Santa - not just at the Mall, check out small places to visit him like the library or fundraisers that restaurants might be doing or your Parks and Rec department - they're all fun places.

17. Go to a parade dressed with Elf or Santa hats, and some cute shirts that say things like Jingle Bells, My Sister Smells or Santa's Little Helper, and and eat candy canes


18. Get out the musical instruments your kids play with and have a Christmas concert right in your living room, playing the drums and bells for carols

19. Watch Rudolph the Reindeer and Frosty the Snowman and The Polar Express while drinking hot cocoa

20. Make pancakes for breakfast into the shape of a snowman or Santa - bacon for a scarf and blueberries for eyes and chocolate chips for a mouth

21. Make your own wreath out of trimmings from the tree

22. Decorate the tree! Put ornaments down low for the kids to play with

23. Have Christmas music in the car to sing out loud while looking at lights on your way to school or work every day

24. Open one gift on Christmas Eve but it has to be something homemade


25. Get your family all dressed up in cute matching sweaters and Santa hats and clothes and take them out some place - even just in the yard - and take pictures. Professional photographers are fantastic, but YOU know your kids best so take advantage of your own little camera and sweet babies and take some shots so you can remember what this is like this time of year with your kids - sweet, innocent, fun, and full of pure joy.

Whatever you do this season, HAVE FUN and relax! It's about being together with those you love, laughing, and giving. :)

Friday, November 23, 2012

book - Little Sugar Addicts

Little Sugar Addicts 
by Kathleen DesMaisons, Ph.D. 

This book's title includes the phrase "end the mood swings, meltdowns, tantrums, and low-self esteem in your child today." Right from the start it's a book any parent can relate to and probably should read. It was a really interesting read. I learned a lot about what sugar does to a body, especially children's bodies. It's not an anti-sugar book, and I'm totally NOT an anti-sugar person. I think sugar is awesome in fact and certainly has its place in our world and bodies. But this book is essential for those of us trying to navigate the toddler or young child or even teenage drama tantrum battlefields.

Sugar does indeed affect us, some more than others. I know it really, really affects my son, so we've limited the amount of sugar he gets since he started eating it after his first birthday celebration. We notice he amps up with his energy after eating sugar. Some kids aren't that affected by it, so it's nothing to worry about, but for most it does affect them. Knowing how it affects them and what you can do to prevent any pitfalls is what this book is about.



Sugar Sensitivity 
On page 2, DesMaisons explains how it is sometimes with kids who may be affected by sugar. "Sometimes it feels as if you are living with a split personality. The changes in behavior simply make no sense. You wonder what is behind it and you simply do not know what to do."

She writes about sugar sensitivity being a biochemical imbalance that affects how the "brain and body function." "These behaviors are not a result of your parenting skills." The author suggests starting by changing a child's food and diet instead of rushing to medications, counseling, etc. if you notice something off within your child.

On page 15 the author lists some questions that will help you to figure out if your child is sensitive to sugar. Questions include Is your child impulsive? Does your child ask for sweet foods all the time? Is your child wildly dramatic and goofy? Does your child have lots of allergies? Is your child known as a motormouth? If you answer yes to some of these your child has a sensitivity to sugar.

Monkey see, monkey do
The biggest point the author stresses in this book is that if you limit the sugar your kids take in, you must do the same with yourself. Kids are smart .They see right through the fact that you can drink soda but they cannot. You have to teach them by example.

Add before subtracting
The "plan" suggests adding in good foods (fruits, veggies, protein, etc.) before taking away other foods, so as not to overwhelm the kids and to do it gradually, according to DesMaisons on page 51.

The 7 Steps for kids:
1. Eat breakfast with protein. 
Kids must eat something substantial in the morning, including eggs or cheese or something hearty with protein to keep them going. This affects their blood sugar most.

2. Make connections between food and mood.
Start tracking what your kids eat, how they behave, how long before they're hungry again, how you notice their moods. Better yet, if your children are old enough, ask them these questions. How do they feel after eating breakfast? You need a baseline to see where your kids are at with their current diet before you change anything.



3. Change snacks and drinks.
No sodas. Limit fruit juices. Decrease sugar. Instead, make sure all snacks have protein with them. Some examples the author listed on page 89 include:
-apple or Triscuits with cheese
-hard boiled egg with carrot sticks
-slice of wheat toast with peanut butter (sans sugar)
-handful of nuts (over age 3)
-cottage cheese and some unsweetened canned peaches
-applesauce and leftover sausage

"Maintaining a stable blood sugar is significantly more important in children than in adults," the author wrote on page 88. She said most parents and children graze throughout the day, but really meals and snacks should be very planned ahead of time and stuck to so that kids do not go too long without eating and can keep up their blood sugars.

She wrote that children need a snack midmorning and midafternoon. "Your child should not go more than three hours without having something to eat," she wrote on page 89.

DesMaisons said that disciplining a child who is really hungry is not effective until their blood sugars are stable. "Little sugar addicts are in an altered state when their chemistry is off. They are not rational. If you can begin to look at these 'bad' behaviors in a new way, you may be able to come up with some creative alternatives for what to do if your little sugar sensitive child starts acting up. First of all, feed him."

I have personally fed my son his lunch at 10 a.m. many times when I've noticed that he is starting to amp up his energy, not share as nicely, or disagree with everything I say. He needs food. He's not a sugar addict, but he definitely has whatever it is that I have in that he needs to eat every couple of hours or else he does not do well. I carry snacks with us wherever we go. I plan his meals and when he'll need a protein to tie him over, like his glass of milk. It's important to notice these things about our kids.

Kids must eat when they come home from school. The author wrote that their metabolism cannot last from noon at lunch until 6 or so for dinner without eating something. For those who do sports afterschool, pack an extra peanut butter sandwich or something for practice. They need fuel to workout.

4. Eat protein lunches.
"The most important rule is eating on time," the author wrote on page 110. Sometimes moms get distracted and though you are hungry you can push yourself a little more. With kids that's not an option. They need to eat when their body needs it, routinely. "You job as a parent is to make sure they have food on time. Most parents think the contents of meals are the most crucial. They get very motivated and think about what to feed their children and don't really factor in when. The more I talk with sugar sensitive parents, the more aware I have become about the 'when' factor." 

She gives a great list in this chapter of fast food options that are healthiest and give protein in the meals in case you are out and busy, but need to stop for lunch.

5. Shift to whole grain food.
No brainer. Eat wheat!

6. Take out the sugar.
"But if you start to connect with the idea that the thing you are using to comfort and correct is actually creating the problem, you will find this step easier to take. If you remove the sugar from the equation, you won't have those out-of-control moments with your child. Moving to sugar-free will have benefits that so outweigh your reluctance to say no and stand your ground that you will wonder why you didn't do it before," the author wrote on page 151.

She stresses the motto that sugar is not love. "Sugar is poison. Time is love."

On page 154 she includes a great list of other commonly used terms for "sugar," like barley malt, brown sugar, cane juice, galactose, fructose, etc.

She said to first work on removing the "overt sugars" from your home first, including:
brown sugar
granulated sugar
high fructose corn syrup
powdered sugar
sucrose
white sugar

She said that many holidays, birthday parties, Halloween, family gatherings, etc. are where the problems start, as family do not understand why you would go sugar-free entirely, which is the authors advice - no sugar whatsoever.

7. Take care of life. 
Get moving. Be active.
Less television.
No diets, be healthier.

The last part of the book includes tons of great recipes that sound delicious - desserts included!

YUMMY! 
A recipe from page 94 of Radiant Snack Bars:
6 cups rolled oats
1 dozen eggs
1/2 cup cinnamon
4 cups milk, juice, whatever liquid you want)
1 cup cottage cheese
2 cups shredded unsweetened coconut, lightly toasted
1 teaspoon salt
Additional 1/2 cup shredded coconut for topping

Blend the wet ingredients for 1 minute
Mix the dry ingredients in a large bowl
Add the liquid mixture to the dry ingredients a little at a time
Pour into a 9x13 inch pan that has been sprayed with cooking spray
Sprinkle an additional 1/2 cup coconut on top (don't toast this)
Bake 1 hour at 350 degrees
Let cool and slice into "bars" that are sized for your children
You can add other things like nuts or applies if you like.

Overall, a very interesting read. 
I was pleased to see a lot of her tips I already do at home with my son, who is an active boy. He needs to eat a lot, protein included. I'm the same way, definitely need to eat frequently or else I feel sick. We pack snacks wherever we go. It's essential. I feed him when he's hungry, but also stick to a schedule of meals. You have to do what works for your family.

I personally think the zero sugar thing is overwhelming, especially with kids. I can't imagine being at a birthday party and not permitting my child to eat a piece of cake when they sing happy birthday and all the children are eating it. But that's just me, and I'm talking about toddlers and older, not younger than 18 months. But if it's what a family wants to do, I support it, as it does make sense that it's probably healthiest.

Pretty interesting!

Friday, November 16, 2012

mommy gratitude

I see so many on Facebook posting daily things they are thankful for, as part of this 30 Days of Thanks movement during the month of November. I didn't want to commit to doing it on Facebook daily, because I'm not sure I can be that organized right now. So power to those of you who ARE doing it daily, I LOVE reading them.

Instead, I'm showing my gratitude here with 30 things I'm thankful for as a mommy:



(doesn't he just look grateful in this picture?! so handsome!)

1. breast pump for helping me feed my kids

2. uterus for kicking those fibroids out of the way so I could deliver two healthy babies, and for surviving 4 major surgeries to do so

3. kid-friendly job hours so I can be there for all the important moments

4. a sense of humor for helping me laugh when I really want to cry sometimes

5. patience like I've never had before for keeping me sane in tough moments of "I do it myself" or when the baby would not stop screaming for oh, say, 6 weeks.

6. the ability to be a kid again myself through watching and playing with my children. I never used to run through the mud or play outside when it was super cold or rainy, now I do this type of thing on a daily basis and feel great about it!


7. that I'm part of a "club" of moms who have become my greatest friends and who really get what I've gone through, thus making me feel more normal

8. the Internet and my library card so I can research and get advice easily and for free from other moms, doctors, authors, etc. who have been where I am and know what I should do

9. organizational skills to remember things like when the birthday party starts and to send thank you notes for baby gifts; to write in my children's baby books weekly and to keep an immunization record to take to the doctor's office.

10. ability to let things go more now that I'm so busy I don't have time for petty things like wondering who's judging me or if I'm 5 minutes late or the floors have not been washed in two weeks. There are more important things in my life now.

11. appreciation for my body and what it can do and has done by bringing life into the world. It's pretty awesome, and so I'm grateful for it and plan to take care of it. Having babies has made me feel the strongest I've ever felt physically. It's pretty damn cool.

12. my husband because I have no idea how single moms do this very challenging job. And even more I'm grateful that my husband is the BEST dad and partner in the world. He helps with all I have to do around the house and with kids. So grateful for being a good team.


13. that I'm teaching my kids to be good people through my own actions like voting or teaching them manners or when I give them "talks" about things like not smoking and being good friends.

14. money to provide the things we need to keep warm, drive in a big enough car to fit all of our things, clothes, hats for winter, toys to play with, and food to eat.

15. a huge family of grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins for my kids to grow up surrounded by, learning from, and being loved by. Our family spoils our two kids. My son spent the day at a wedding recently with a lot of his family, and the whole time he asked me where the rest of his family were. That night saying prayers with his Dad, he told Dad he wanted tomorrow to "see my family again." Love that.

16. tons of babysitters who would drop anything to watch our kids. See #15 of aunts, uncles, grandparents, etc. We truly believe the saying "it takes a village to raise a child." We rely on our family so much.

17. ME time. Taking time of myself is ultra important as a mom. I need time away, time with friends, time being girlie, time to read or listen to my music. Time to run and focus on my goals. I am grateful when I get these chances.


18. my ability to score a great deal in order to be thrifty and save money to get all we need. I consign my kids' outgrown clothes that we don't need anymore and buy things on sale. I use coupons, sign up for emails where I get 40% off things like photo books online. I save money wherever I can so that we can do all the fun things we want to do.

19. being obsessed with my camera means I take pictures of everything child-related. I have every moment documented. We all say it flies by too fast, and having photos of what happened makes me feel like they stay little forever.

20. creativity with celebrating. I love that I remember to celebrate things like my son's half birthday with an ice cream cone or throw a party when he learned to use the big boy potty! I like that I search for hours on Pinterest looking for cute ideas to make my kids' birthday parties that much more special. Pinterest is my new best friend because it helps me be super creative with birthday planning!


21. sentimentality. I love that I'm sentimental, thoughtful and always wanting to recall the small moments. I take a weekly photo of my daughter, since the first week she was home from the hospital. Looking back at her growth makes me smile. I'm grateful that I remember to do this every week, and that overall I put energy into sentimental things. I keep a memory box for each of my kids - filled with cards, first lock of hair, pictures, etc.

22. the What to Expect book series. Love these things! I have the expecting one, the first year, and toddler years. I love every word in every one of them. So helpful.

23. health. My own health, my husband's, my children's. It is so challenging to watch friends deal with sickness and their children going through doctors visit after visit. I'm so beyond grateful that my home is healthy.

24. my college degrees. I'm glad I went to college and know how important it is to encourage my kids to strive for lots of education. I hope to help them someday earn a degree in the field of their dream. Having my own degree makes me feel like I can not just encourage them but show them how it's done.

25. my sister. It's so nice to not only have a mom friend but a sister who is a mom at the same time as me so we can bounce ideas off each other, or even just call each other up and say, "You will not believe what my son did today!" or "I'm going to snap if my husband does ___ one more time!" or "Hey did you see that totally adorable ____?"

26. a big car. I'm so grateful to have a car that fits the two car seats, diaper bag, groceries, strollers, ETC. ETC. that you need when you have kids. I have it all in there. I'm grateful I don't have a tiny car.

27. that I've been pregnant and had newborns. What incredible experiences. I would not trade those 10 months or those first 4 sleepless months for anything in the world. They were challenging, sure, but they made me stronger.


28. my huge freezer. I'm so grateful my husband agreed when I said we needed a huge freezer for the basement for all the breastmilk and homemade baby food I make. Literally, it's jam-packed. And I'm proud of that. Sooo lucky to have this.


29. my treadmil and my jogging stroller, because it's really hard to get outside sometimes so the treadmill does the trick to get my butt in gear. And the jogging stroller because it's SO nice to pack everyone up and just hit the road and feel like I can get away from the stress, while my kids are happy to be out for a stroll.

30. Mother's Day. I love this day. I feel special on this day, slightly more so than even on my birthday. I feel more gratitude on this day than I ever did before for my mom. She's amazing, now that I realize what she went through just being my mom on a daily basis. I love that there is a whole day just set aside for us mommas. We deserve at least one full day to celebrate all the cool things we are and all the many things we do for others.

Lots to be grateful for as a mother!