My beautiful and sometimes overwhelming little almost 3 month old.

Today we were supposed to go to the museum with some friends and I cancelled those plans because I was feeling overwhelmed by my day. Nothing in particular was going wrong, just that overwhelmed feeling you get sometimes with a new baby. I’ve been Very. Slowly. reading the book Lying (someone recommended it to me after I posted this link about Santa by the same author to my Facebook), so when Peanut asked me why we weren’t going I decided to tell her the truth. My initial reaction was to lie, mostly because I didn’t want her to get upset with me for being the one who cancelled. She first asked me who cancelled and I said I did. Next she asked why and I said because I was feeling overwhelmed today. What came next was the surprise: she asked me if she can help me clean the house after quiet time.

First, I’m amazed that my child understands how much having a relatively tidy house is linked to my sanity (and I hadn’t even realized how much the house was bothering me until at that moment). Mostly, I’m amazed that she not only understood, but wanted to help. I didn’t expect her to understand what feeling overwhelmed even means, especially in the context of having a new baby. More than that though, I’ve just learned over the years to buck up and deal with life as a mother. Subliminally, I’ve learned that my needs come second and that no one needs to hear about my problems. This is absolutely wrong.

So often as mothers in our society, we are isolated. We are expected to go back to normal immediately after having a baby. We are expected to be able to care for that baby, any other children, our houses, our husbands, and ourselves within days of birth. This extends beyond the normal postpartum period though. We are expected to, or at least see ourselves as expected to, be a super mom. Be able to handle it all and never lose stride. Yes, a lot of this stems from society, but it’s also ourselves.

Mothers of the world (myself included): stop this behavior! When someone asks you if you need help, don’t immediately jump to “Oh no, I’m okay.” Accept the help graciously. If someone is asking you how you’re doing (in the sense of really wanting to know, not in the acquaintance passing on the street type of way), tell them the truth. When you are feeling overwhelmed with life, ask for help. Don’t bear it alone. And especially involve your children. It’s okay for them to know that their mother is not a superhero. And you have no idea how much they would love to help.

Baby Weight

My small baby.

There’s an obsession in our culture with a baby’s weight gain after birth. Really, there’s an obsession with how much babies eat in general. There’s a whole host of moms who are constantly worried if their babies are getting enough. I’ve heard it go as far as weighing a baby after every nursing session for weeks on end.

Can we blame them for their worry though? If baby drops more than 10% of their birth weight in the first week, doctors immediately start telling the mom to supplement (not taking into account the possibility of inflated birth rates due to IV fluids during birth or the smile effect). At every appointment, we compare babies to other babies to see if they’re gaining on track. What if your baby is different, but completely normal? Why don’t we take things like short parents into account for height percentiles? I’m not saying that these can’t be good indications that something is wrong, but they’re not definitive.

Our culture is used to using bottles. When you’re giving a baby a bottle, it’s easy to see how much they ate. Fill the bottle with 5 ounces and one is left when they’re done? They ate 4 ounces. Nurse for 20, 30, or even 60 minutes and who knows how much they got. Breasts are not see through, nor do they have ounces marked.

One of my big babies.

The most common growth charts compare babies to mostly formula fed babies in Ohio who were given solids around 4 months. Even using the WHO charts doesn’t necessarily make sense. Every baby is different. There’s a whole range of normal. There’s really no good comparison to a baby besides itself. Is baby gaining consistently, even if they’re on the small side? Does baby have an adequate amount of wet and dirty diapers? What does mom think about her baby’s weight gain and overall health? These are the things that tell us if we need to worry. And in the majority of cases, there is nothing to worry about.

So yes, growth charts are a useful tool in determining if there’s a problem with baby’s weight gain, but they are not the end-all be-all. Some babies are naturally big, some are naturally small (and I’ve had both), just as some adults are big and some are small. And that’s okay. So try to take a step back from the growth charts and look at the bigger picture.

A Simple Countdown to Baby

Rewinding a bit to before Banana was born. Once I got to around my third trimester, I decided that my girls could use something visual to understand when the baby was going to come. Every week Peanut would ask how big the baby was now (comparing it to fruit and vegetables) and she loved to hear about development, but I thought they could use something of an actual countdown. I remembered that a while back someone posted about a chain they made for their kids on my birth group (an extension of a due date club) so I decided to try it out.

So this is what we made:

A simple paper chain. I took construction paper and cut out strips, then wrote numbers for the weeks on them (up to 41 weeks, as I assumed given my past births that it would be right around there that Banana would be born). I let the girls color them and then we taped them together and hung the chain up on the wall. I also wrote on their calendar (more on that soon!) the number week we were starting with a star around it so we would remember to cut the link off the chain.

Every week Peanut and Twig took turns cutting off a link of the chain. They really loved it! We did it so that we were cutting off the number for the week we were starting (so when I was officially 35 weeks, we’d cut off the 35) and it helped them remember what week we were on. Peanut especially enjoyed physically cutting off another week and seeing the chain get shorter and shorter.

If I were to do it again, the only difference I would make would be to do some signifier of being “full term” from 37 weeks on. Maybe do all those ones in a specific color? Then I think it would have been even easier to see when the baby could be born. I’m also happy that we ended up going less than 41 weeks because we never had to cut off the last link and wonder why baby wasn’t here yet. So if you’re unsure of when baby will get here, I would over-shoot it and go 42 or even 43 weeks with the chains.

It was really fun to do the countdown to Banana being born and find another way to involve the big sisters in his pending arrival. Let me know if you try it out! What fun ways did you help your kids countdown or prepare for their new sibling’s birth?

The Perfect Halloween Candy Bags

Peanut’s bag was a fishbowl when she was The Cat in the Hat.

Every year I’ve tried something different for a candy receptacle when trick-or-treating, but nothing has been quite right. The ones you can buy at the store are crap (we actually had some of those this year that were given to us and two have already broken just from carrying around at a short trunk-or-treat). I’ve made ones out of felt that are super cute (I may be biased), but I can’t ever get them big enough that we aren’t constantly dumping them into something else. We’ve tried old pillowcases like I used as a kid, but they’re too long and the girls end up dragging them.

So this year I’ve put my mind to it and I think I’ve combined ideas to finally find…

The Perfect Halloween Candy Bags

First, we start with a pillowcase. I got some from sheets we no longer use that I plan on being on keeping as our candy bags for every year. You could also check your local second-hand store for some cheap pillowcases.

I had Twig hold one up and I marked it in a spot that keeps it big enough to hold a good amount of candy still, but not so long it drags on the ground. I flipped it inside out and did a basting stitch (for sewing novices: this is when you turn the stitch length all the way up so you have really long stitches that are easy to pick out later, also don’t do your finishing stitches on either end) at the marked height so that we can take it out to lengthen it for future years when they’re taller.

Then turn it inside out and just tuck the extra fabric inside.

Now you can stop here if you want, but if you’d like to cute it up too, add something that’s along the theme of your costume! Peanut is being Merida from Brave and Twig and Banana are being two of the little brother bears (I’m the mama bear and my husband is King Fergus). There’s a third brother bear though, so Twig’s pillowcase gets a bear! Then Peanut’s has a horse like Angus. I just cut the shapes out of felt and then hot glued them together, then pin them onto the pillowcase with safety pins.

And here’s Twig’s pillowcase in action! Happy Halloween!

Newsletter – July 2014

Hello children!

We’re still in our catchup of newsletters (I swear I’m going to make it! Only a few more months to go!) and now we’re on to July. Another wonderful summer month full of sun and swimming and parks and awesome. Seriously this summer was amazing.

Peanut, we read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone this month. Every year I have a tradition of re-reading the Harry Potter series right around my birthday (and also Harry’s) and this year I decided to involve you in the fun. We just read the first book and you loved it. I couldn’t read more than a chapter, sometimes two, at a time without you getting antsy, but you wanted to read it every day. I love that you can get really interested in stuff like this now.

You also learned all the coins this month to go along with your address and phone number. It was another thing in your Miss Binderkarten book that you should know before entering kindergarten, making it the last thing we had to check off. It was a little more tricky for you than the phone number and address, but you got it down pretty quick. Now we get to play fun games like “Would you rather have…?” and you get to choose which pile gives you the most money.

Lastly, you did swim lessons this month. You were both excited and nervous about going, but just really excited once they started. Every weekday for two weeks we went to the pool for your lesson. I was amazed how much more confident you became in the water. Now you’ll put your whole face in no problem and do so in the bath all the time. You’re really excited to continue with your lessons next year when you’re 6.

Twig, you had a really fun month too! This month you had your first sleepover at Oma and Opa’s. I was really surprised that you weren’t upset or anything. You haven’t had once since though because you always change your mind about staying at the last minute.

You also decided that you adore cows. Every time we go out to the farm to get milk you get so excited. Even if you were about to pass out in your car seat, pulling into the farm makes you wake right up and start waving and yelling “hi moos!” at the baby cows. Then when we leave you say “bye moos! Love you moos!” and “bye mama moos!”

You also started telling me this month that Peanut is your best friend. Whenever you’re mad at me you go running to her for a hug. And you even tease her saying “I see your gina!” whenever you see her changing.

Banana, your sisters are so excited to meet you! They give my belly hugs and kisses every day (and multiple times a day!). This month you’re still plumping up and getting ready to join us on the outside. A big milestone was at the end of this month you reached full term. Of course that doesn’t mean I was going to rush you out or anything, but it was a big reassurance that you were big enough to be born at home now. Less than a month until your birthday!

Love you all!

Boba 4G Review

The two big girls goofing around with our new carrier before Banana was born.

As I’ve made it clear in the past, I’m a big lover of Boba. The company is amazing and so are their carriers. So I jumped at the opportunity to review a Boba 4G with my new little Banana.

The last Boba I had (or actually have, as I’m keeping it for wearing Twig) was a 2G and they’ve added quite a few nice things. The overall construction works the same, so I’m not going to go over all that in detail. Just know that if you’ve seen past Bobas, it still works the same. If you haven’t, it’s intuitive and you’ll learn it quick.

Happy in the Boba at just 9 days old.

So on to the new things I love!

Let’s start with the pockets. Pockets on a carrier are something I’ve scoffed at in the past. Past me would say “Well isn’t that what a diaper bag is for?!” Yes, I could keep my phone in my diaper bag, but it’s so much nicer to have it right on me. And for someone who doesn’t wear jeans a whole lot these days, the carrier having a pocket is amazing. I use the bottom pocket for my phone almost every time I wear the Boba. The top pocket hasn’t found its use yet (keys and wallet are too bulky for a pocket right by baby’s head), but I’m sure it’ll come in handy soon.

Next, let’s talk the bag strap. It’s always been super annoying to try to keep my bag’s strap up on my shoulder while using a carrier. Even with something like a backpack or messenger bag, it’s always falling off. And when you’re walking through a parking lot holding hands with two kid and wearing a fussy baby, the last thing you need is to have your bag fall off and smack your toddler in the head.

Trying out the strap on a trip to Target.

This simple strap and button keeps every bag on without falling. Even when it’s falling off to the side because I haven’t adjusted it for forever, the snap still doesn’t give way. It still feels awkward like it’s going to fall off (even if I know it won’t) so I end up adjusting it eventually, but I tested it during a long Target trip by purposely not adjusting my bag and it never gave way. I’ve even chosen to keep the baby and the bag instead of giving the bag to my husband simply because it doesn’t bother me to hold it anymore.

Then there’s the little things they’ve just slightly altered to make the carrier more functional. The foot straps come off so you aren’t constantly catching them on things when your kiddo is too small to need them. The hood comes off too as well as going down into a zippered pocket (the top pocket I mentioned earlier) instead of the semi-awkward stretchy bands holding it in place. The little things that take a carrier from like to love.

He stayed happy and comfy the whole time we were at Black Island Farms.

Saving the best for last, there’s the infant insert. Holy mole the thing is great. When I got my new Boba in the mail (while still pregnant), the set up seemed kind of weird. Fast forward to having an actual baby and it makes perfect sense. Baby sits up on top of the insert like a little seat with their legs inside of the carrier rather on the outside. Such a simple idea that makes this carrier function in the exact same way for both the tiniest and the biggest kiddos.

There are two settings for the insert, one for 7-10 lbs and one for 10-15 lbs. Banana was born nearly big enough for the second setting, but I kept him in the first setting for quite a while because it made him tall enough that I could always see his face. Now at two months and over 14 lbs, we’re almost out of the second setting, but I may keep him in it a bit over the 15 lbs recommended. The reasoning now isn’t height (this big boy appears to be rocketing up in weight as well as height), but rather the hip alignment. The second setting, especially given that it has a U shape on top, puts baby’s little legs in a perfect M shape. Without the insert I’m sure we’ll still get much of that, but it may not be quite so comfortable of an M shape until his legs are long enough that the carrier extends knee to knee (though he’s close). Who knows though, maybe the 1 lb and accompanying inch(es) will be enough to make it comfortable without the insert.

So that’s my review of the new Boba 4G. Seriously this thing is amazing and I would (and do!) recommend it to anyone looking for a carrier. It’s the only one my husband actually enjoys wearing and it’s my favorite for running errands. The learning curve is virtually non-existent, but it’s crazy comfortable at the same time. Now that it has all these extra perks as well as the ability to go from birth up, it’s just perfect. Go get yours today!