Peanut’s Tangled Birthday Party

Last Saturday was Peanut’s 3rd birthday party. Before this year, Peanut hadn’t had a “real” birthday party. The past two birthdays, we’ve done small celebrations with family. Basically just the Sunday lunch and dinner we usually do with presents and a cake added in. This year, we decided to do a real friends-invited birthday party. When I asked Peanut what theme she wanted (with some examples) she immediately cried out “Tanlged! Tangled Tangled Tangled!” Yeah, she loves that movie. A lot.

So I started scouting out ideas for a Tangled themed birthday party. I’m nothing if not an over-achiever, but I’m also not horribly creative. All of my ideas were either from other, more creative people or inspired by the other, more creative people. I’ll do my best to link to the blogs that had all the wonderful ideas in the first place.

First off, the invites. I did basically the same idea as shown here on Paging Supermom! with some alterations. First off, the invitations were pink because little miss lurves pink. No matter what I do, that child thinks pink is the best color in the world. Luckily, I got away with scant little pink for the rest of the party. Also, I just used my cardstock cutter to make the windows. They weren’t perfect, but they got the job done and I didn’t have to buy a special paper puncher (as none of my current ones worked to make a window). I used some of Peanut’s hair bands that are too small to really do much with hair for the braids and leftovers from my Harry Potter scarf for the hair. Using different colors for each invitation meant that Peanut got to choose who got which invitation, which she quiet enjoyed. We stuck to the tradition of age-child-is-turning-plus-one for the amount of guests invited. Since one guest couldn’t make it and two brought siblings, we ended up with 5 kids there total. It was a good number.

The same yarn was used for a braid that went on the front door. This idea was also taken from Paging Supermom!, which an alteration. One of the moms who’s daughter is also a big Tangled fan told me I should have done a piece of short brown yarn at the top of the invitations because Rapunzel has a short lock of brown hair where Mother Gothel had cut it, trying to steal it’s power. I decided to add the brown to the door braid, which was from a small ball of brown yarn within the collection of yarn my aunt gave me when she was cleaning out her stash. Too small to do a project with, but perfect for something like this!

When guests first walked in the door, they were given a flower for their hair like Rapunzel had in hers when dancing in the city. I wanted to give them something they could take home because we weren’t doing gift bags (which is the norm for a no presents birthday party). This is one of the few ideas that I had myself and I used this tutorial to make the flowers. They were super easy to make and I already had some felt upstairs, so all I had to buy were the clips. If you do it with clips that bend though, make sure that you only attach the flower to the very end. My head wasn’t on straight, so I glued the tester one fully to the flower (thinking kids tend to be rough, so better safe than sorry). Obviously, I couldn’t get the clip to open. I was ready to go buy clips like in the tutorial, but realized that I could just glue it to the ends. Worked out perfect.

I generally don’t like separating boys from girls based solely on their gender, but I felt sad for one of the guest’s brother who would be the only boy attending, more so after his mother told me that they were at a “girly” party the week before and he wasn’t very happy about it. Since boys generally aren’t too keen on wearing flowers in their hair, I made him a satchel like Flynn Rider uses in the movie to carry the crown. I didn’t use a tutorial for this, but rather just hot glued the pieces of brown felt together similar to the fishbowl I made for Peanut last Halloween. Then I used the same brown yarn I used for Rapunzel’s brown hair on the door for the strap by braiding it together and hot gluing it on.

Picture taken after most of the flowers were taken because I forgot earlier.

Wanted signs were posted all around as if we were in the kingdom itself.

Christmas lights made the banister a little more festive with an extra hope that it would discourage children from playing on it (which none did, but I can’t prove causation).

I wanted to do lanterns, but couldn’t find any exactly like the movie online for free and don’t have the skill to create such a thing, so I decided to make purple and yellow lanters (the colors of the kingdom). I used this tutorial. It was super quick with my cardstock cutter (one of the best things I’ve ever bought!) and I used some random white yarn that also came from my aunt’s de-stash and a hole puncher to hang them.

The food turned out terrific. The banner is a printable from Paging Supermom! and I made the letters by cutting some paper and painting it, along with using a stensil I made from one of the flags. I made a donut tower like Dreaming of Stitches did (I should have used cake donuts because the yeast donuts flattened as they sat) and the cupcakes (the flowers are fake, just popped off of the bouquet the came in) and orange boats are from Paging Supermom! again (they’re so cleaver!). We did apple slices because Maximus loves apples in the movie, homemade hummus with Triskets, apple juice, and taco soup. The little labels say what the food is (e.g. Rapunzel’s tower, Maximus’s apples, hummus and Triskets).

My lovely husband built the cake stand and I painted it the same as I did the letters for her name.

I made little coloring books for each child with their name on the front. Printable Tangled coloring pages found here. That was the activity everyone did while guests were still arriving.

After everyone got there, we did pin the frying pan on Flynn Rider (printable frying pans from Paging Supermom! and the Wanted poster was just a bigger version of the ones hanging around the house). It turned out to be a bit old for the children, but it was still fun. We had each child spin as many times as they were years old to even the odds. After Peanut got upset that she didn’t win, we decided every kid won a different place. One kid one closest to the nose, one to the forehead, etc.

We used printable crowns (also from Paging Supermom!) and glitter glue to make crowns for them. It would have worked better with glue sticks and glitter, but the kids still had fun. We just weren’t able to wear the crowns during the actual party because they were still drying.

The kids ended up spending most of the time playing outside on the swingset, slide, and with our dog and rabbit. I hadn’t even thought of that, but it was great. They all seemed to have a wonderful time, regardless of the activities not working out very well.

We ended the party by Peanut blowing out the candles on her cupcake. She had a great time and so did all the other kids. I’m very happy we did this party, even though it was a bit stressful getting ready for it. I’m happy we had the chance to celebrate my wonderful first-born turning 3 with some great friends.

Zinny Jane Wool Soaker Review and Giveaway! Ending 4.29 Worldwide!

We had A LOT of problems with Peanut and diaper rash. She spent so much of her first two years with actual open sores on her bum that I’m surprised that she doesn’t have scars. We did everything we were supposed to do to both prevent and get rid of rash. Plenty of airing-out time, wiping with water only, cloth diapers, etc. When all of that didn’t work, we ended up getting various creams from the doctor, which still didn’t do much. Eventually the rash would go away, just to turn around and come back for virtually no reason. Even when the open sores weren’t there, she always was pink.

Without a medical degree or testing this at all, since it only occurred to me in hindsight, I think it might have been the lack of breathability of her diapers. Especially at night.

This realization made me want to use more breathable diapers on Twig when she came. I also needed something that I could easily remove for elimination communication. After reading this post by Hobo Mama on prefolds and That Mama Gretchen’s Wool Week posts, I decided that was the route I wanted to go. I started in search of prefolds and wool covers.

That’s when I stumbled upon Zinny Jane on Etsy.

This lovely woman knits the cutest wool soakers in the world! I’ve been using the small one she sent me in combination with other covers and I have to say, it’s by far my favorite. It is absolutely darling. I know that soakers generally go under clothes, but I often find myself putting Twig in this one with leggings just because it is So. Frickin’. Cute.

And it’s not just cute. It’s really well knit. Knowing some about knitting myself, I can recognize a plain pattern versus an intricate one. This one has special ribbing in all the right places rather than just around the legs and middle. It has different colors of yarn used for the stripes, but I’ve had zero problem with the seams leaking or anything of that sort. It’s all perfectly the same tension and it’s really tightly weaved. I’ve heard others say that they can’t use knit covers for nighttime, only felted will do. This one has had zero issue, even with me finding out the other day that I had only partially been lanolizing my wool (I was using wool wash with lanolin, but not any pure lanolin). Zero leaks even when her prefold is literally sopping in every square centimeter. And, teamed with a stay dry liner, very little pink rash.

Beyond that, it’s super easy to clean. Twig has monster poops. She only poops once or twice a day, rather than the probably 4-5 times Peanut used to when she was this age, and she definitely makes up for it all at once. I’ve seriously tried Every. Single. Fold. that is supposed to contain breastfed baby poop, but it still gets on the covers (any tips or ideas on this would be great!). If you use wool, you know how much of a pain it is for poop to get on the wool. You can’t just throw wool in the washing machine, you have to hand wash it. Some of my wool covers seem to just hold the poop in. I spend upwards of 2 minutes scrubbing to get it all out of the fibers, which is difficult when Twig is screaming to be picked up and Peanut is screaming to be played with. This cover has it all come off instantly and there’s zero staining, even in the off-white colored yarn. It’s awesome! And it dries quick too!

Beyond that, Molly, the owner of Zinny Jane, is amazing. She spent quite a few messages back and forth with me explaining what to measure, how to measure it, and what sizes would be best. Since Twig is such a huge baby (13 lbs 13 oz at 9 weeks!), she sent me two covers to review! One small and one medium. How nice is that??! I know how much time and effort goes into knitting a project, so in my mind that gives her extra props. Honestly, I wish I owned more of them even. I just love this soaker so much! I’m sure that I’ll be talking my husband into getting some more soon.

So do any of you want to win a wool soaker?! You can! (make sure to leave a comment for each entry!)

*Mandatory*  1 entry – Go check out Zinny Jane’s Etsy store and tell me which product is your favorite in a comment! (don’t forget to include your email in your first entry so I can contact you if you win!)

1 entry – follow me on Twitter. If you already follow, you still get an entry!

1 entry – Tweet about this giveaway (leave a link to the tweet in the comment). You can tweet about this giveaway once every day for an entry. That’s up to 31 entries just from tweeting!

2 entries (make 2 separate comments) – follow this blog by RSS or email.  If you already follow, you still get an entry!

2 entries – become a fan of The Adventures of Lactating Girl on Facebook. If you’re already a fan, you still get an entry!

2 entries – become a fan of Zinny Jane on Facebook. If you’re already a fan, you still get an entry!

1 entries – Write a post on your Facebook page about this giveaway! Make sure you link to The Adventures of Lactating Girl on Facebook in the post and leave a comment here each time you do it. You can do it once per day! That’s up to 31 entries!

4 entries – blog about this contest (leave a link the comment). Once per giveaway.

This contest is worldwide. The winner will be chosen on Sunday, April 29th at 5PM Mountain Standard Time by random. The winner will be emailed and must respond to the email within 48 hours or a new winner will be chosen. Good luck everyone!

Peanut at 3 Years

As of last Tuesday, my little peanut is 3 years old. That’s a preschooler. My goodness. I know she’s still so little, but I’m amazed at how much of a real person she is already. So in celebration of her birthday, I’ve decided to describe my daughter to you in a very survey-esq fashion (obviously with the irrelevant questions deleted) in an effort to make this memory of who she is at this moment. Reminds me of the days of Myspace.

So here we go!

001. What is your name? Dea Fay
002. How old are you? 3

General
004. What is your height? 38 inches
005. Do you have any siblings? a 2 month old little sister, which you adore
006. What is your eye colour? dark brown
007. What is your hair colour? brown
008. Do you wear glasses or contacts? no
009. Are you right handed or left handed? right handed 
012. Do you swear? You said “dammit dog!” when Mema’s dog vomited at our house the other day. I tried my hardest not to laugh, but didn’t succeed. Guess I need to stop saying that.
013. Do you get along with your parents? Most of the time. 
014. Your heritage 1/8 Japanese, 7/8 various shades of white
015. Your fears Spiders, dark rooms, being alone
016. Goal you would like to achieve this year I don’t know what you yourself would like to achieve, but mama’s goal is to teach you some sight words and possibly begin to read, but in a very casual fashion with no pressure. You are only 3 after all. No rush.
018. Best Physical Feature Many strangers comment on how beautiful your lips are, almost to the point of creepy. I personally love your eyes.
019. Your bedtime We try for 8:30, but it’s often 9:30-10.
020. What time do you arise in the morning? Somewhere between 6:30 and 7:30.
021. First thoughts waking up? Mama milk. You start asking for it before your eyes even open.
022. Do you shower daily? You take a bath every night with mama and Twig as part of your bedtime routine.

This Or That?
023. Bright or dark room? Bright for sure.
024. Chocolate or vanilla? When we were scooping ice cream the other day, you asked me why I didn’t want chocolate on mine, like yours and daddy’s. I replied “I’m not a big chocolate person.” You summarized “Daddy and I bigger people than you.” 
025. Dogs or cats? Both!
026. Pepsi or Coke? You’ve never had soda.
027. McDonalds or Burger King? You’ve honestly never been to either place. You’ve been to Wendy’s though. You also like Chick Fil A because they have a play place. 
In the last month have you…
032. Gone to a mall? You love to ride the train that goes around the mall.
033. Eaten a box of Oreos? You had deep fried oreo with mama last year at a carnival and you seemed to like it.
034. Eaten sushi? You prefer sushi with veggies in it rather than fish (even the cooked fish). 
035. Been on stage? Nope. 

Have you ever…
039. Laughed for no reason? You love to laugh when everyone else is laughing, even if you don’t know the reason.
040. Been caught doing something you weren’t supposed to do? ALL THE TIME.

What was the last….
047. Furry thing you touched? You probably pet our dog, Curie. She’s sleeping in your bed right now with you.
048. Thing you’ve said? Love you. Goodnight.
049. Song you’ve listened to? Mama was playing Florence and the Machine in the car on the way home.
050. (Who was the last) person you’ve spoken to on the phone? You called mama and daddy on the phone when you were staying the night at Oma and Opa’s on Friday.
051. Movie you watched? Tangled after your Tangled-themed party yesterday.
052. Thing you were doing before this? You’re sleeping at the moment.
053. Time you cried? You had some meltdowns last night before bed because it was a no-nap day.
054. Song you’ve sang? You love to sing the songs from Tangled. 
055. Time you looked at the clock? You like to tell me the numbers on the clock, but they tend to confuse you with their digital-ness. You often tell me the 3 is an E.
056. Food and drink you’ve had? You had cake and cow’s milk at Mema’s house after your birthday dinner. 
057. Flavour of gum you’ve chewed? You tried bubble gum from a machine for the first time a few weeks ago. I’m not sure of the flavor. 
058. Shoes you’ve worn? You wore your “pretty shoes” (a name you gave them) today. They’re black and sparkly. 
059. Store you’ve been in? Costco. You love Costco. Probably because of the samples. 

Favourite…
060. Planet? We haven’t discussed planets yet. That’ll be fun. 
061. Age you’ve been so far? You’re quite excited to be 3. 
062. Season? I think you’ve been excited about every season change so far. Though possibly this last winter was a bit disappointing because it didn’t snow much. We only made 1 snowman. 
063. Number? I asked you this in the car today. After pondering for quite some time, you decided on 1.
064. TV show? Word World, which is a show where all of the animal characters (and the things in the world) are made of the letters in their names (e.g. Cow is made out of a C-O-W, but still looks like a cow). Dinosaur Train is also a favorite. It’s a show where the dinosaur family goes on the Dinosaur Train to visit different periods of time where dinosaurs were present and learn facts. 
065. Flower? I think you like all flowers. 

Random…
066. How much cash do you have on you? No cash, but over $500 in your education savings account. 
068. What T-Shirt are you wearing? You’re wearing a fairy princess pj shirt.
069. What brand of shoes are you wearing? No shoes. You won’t even wear socks to bed. You insist on taking them off before you can fall asleep. 
071. What were you doing at midnight last night? Sleeping. Thank goodness. 
073. What’s a word that you say a lot? Why?
074. If you were a crayon, what colour would you be? Pink.
080. How many pillows do you sleep with? Starting tonight, two. One that’s a regular pillow with a Rapunzel case (birthday present from mama and daddy was a Tangled bedset) and one shaped like Rapunzel (birthday present from Mema).

I hope that one day you’ll read this and cherish it Peanut. I know it probably seems silly at the moment, but I know how much you’ll change even over the next year. You’ll probably have an entirely new favorite color and TV show. You’ll have new fears. New dreams. You’ll be entirely different, but also entirely the same. So I do this silly little survey to remember who you are now, and hopefully get a glimpse of who you’ll become.

Survey via http://tjshome.com/survey/takesurvey.php?id=821
Photos take by Cat Palmer 

Tandem Nursing – 3 Years and 2 Months

The theme of my life for the last few weeks has been “getting the hang of things.” This applies to all aspects of having two children, but especially so with tandem nursing. Things are just starting to fit.

Ask me a month ago, and I didn’t know if we’d get here. I was fixing to burst with annoyance for my toddler. She was asking to nurse All. The. Time. and I was tired of it. Not to mention it being painful when she did actually nurse. I was actually considering weaning and, I won’t lie to all of you, the thought crossed my mind of going cold turkey. I knew it wasn’t really an option because how devastated Peanut would have been, but for a moment I desperately wanted it all to just go away.

So rather than traumatize my first born, I decided to just decrease how often she nursed. We got things down to nursing before naps and bedtime and I told her it was a “rule” that we only nursed during those times. She still asked, but she seemed to accept it when I told her the rule. After about a week of that, I was feeling much better. So much so that I thought about maybe letting her the next time she asked. I did, and things have actually been great. I found that stepping back from the situation, I missed her nursing in the daytime. I missed both of them together sitting on my lap nursing. I missed the connection that I got with my toddler when she was wide awake and nursing rather than falling asleep and nursing. I’m sure that I would have found that connection another way and I know one day I will have to, but I’m very grateful I didn’t give in to my rash thoughts a month ago.

At a La Leche League meeting I was at a few days ago, a mother brought up how people who have never nursed an older child sometimes say that the only reason for the older child still nursing is because the mother wants to. There are obvious problems with that statement like trying to make the mother into a sexual deviant that gets erotic pleasure out of the child nursing or a helicopter mom who won’t cut the cord. I’ll admit though, I do enjoy nursing. There are certainly times that I don’t enjoy nursing, and I those of you in my blogging world often hear the most about those times, but I also enjoy it too. I love the bond that I gives me with my oldest.

Beyond that though, it’s more than just the nutritional and emotional benefits. It’s also about the fact that my preschooler is still a baby. From the moment of birth, we start trying to push our adult expectations onto our children. They should sleep through the night. They should have a schedule. And as they become toddlers, we continue to push our ideals onto them. They shouldn’t jump on the couch. They should sit quietly. We continue to try to make our children adults until they finally are and we’re left wondering where our babies went.

When I think about Peanut and the fact that, as of Tuesday, she’ll be 3 years old, a preschooler, I feel like it’s been an eternity. Not in a bad way, but rather because it is truly difficult for me to recollect my life in the time prior to her birth. She is my everything (well, part of my everything that involves Twig and daddy also) so much so that my mind seems to have written her backwards in my life. Like she’s always been there somehow, I just had to meet her. Sometimes I look at her and I’m in complete awe of the little person she’s become. In three short years, she’s formed opinions, she’s developed speech to the point where adults can understand most things she says, she has a favorite color for hope’s sake! Yet, it’s still just three short years. When she enters junior high, what she’s lived now will be just 1/4th of her life. When she starts a family, perhaps it’ll be 1/10th. When she dies, hopefully at a ripe old age, it could be as little as 1/30th.

So yes, my preschooler is still a baby. She’s still so young. One day I will look back and cry that I can’t cuddle her in my lap and nurse her one more time. So for as long as I can, I will let her stay my baby. I will give her comfort in the way she expects until she eventually finds new ways to be comforted. Then when she’s grown enough that she no longer wants to nurse, I will simultaneously mourn the loss in our nursing relationship and welcome the new chapter in our lives.

Postpartum Aggression

When I was pregnant with Peanut, I was fully prepared to deal with a severe case of postpartum depression once she entered this world. Considering my history of depression, some of which I was still dealing with during my actual pregnancy, I figured I was a shoo-in for PPD. I had extra visits scheduled with my midwife, therapy sessions pre-booked, and I surrounded myself with a great support system–particularly my wonderful husband who had not only seen me at my worst, but also studied up the symptoms of PPD because they’re not always as obvious as regular ol’ depression.

Then I totally skipped over it.

I had a minor case of the baby blues, but it passed quickly. I’ll be honest, I was partially convinced it was all my preparation. I was also partially convinced it was my new attitude as a mother. I thought that when you have a life to care for, you just can’t be that self involved. That’s not fair to the moms who do have PPD or any sort of other mental illness. It’s not self absorption. I, of all people, should know this.

So imagine my surprise when it didn’t skip over me this time.

Originally I didn’t even recognize it. I didn’t feel sad. I thought that meant I didn’t have postpartum depression. Depression = sad, right? Not necessarily. PPD can also manifest itself in anger.

For me, the best way I can describe it is sudden, intense rage. Sadly, it was mostly directed at Peanut. That meant that it was immediately followed my crippling guilt. Both of these feelings are signs of PPD. Feelings of sadness or depression aren’t necessarily required for PPD. Though I think I would have had more sad feelings if I didn’t decide to encapsulate my placenta, which at the time was more for the milk supply benefits than the PPD benefits. I had no idea how much it would help me mentally that I made that decision. I definitely notice a difference in what I can handle on days that I forget to take my pill (just one because I decided to do the raw method).

Without the obvious signs of depression, I didn’t recognize it as such. Instead I was just convinced I had a tyrant for a child and a short temper. It was reasonable enough to think those things considering a new baby puts everyone on edge, but this assumption doesn’t solve anything. It turned into a self-fulfilling prophecy. Peanut being defiant, though really in retrospect not any more so than she was before Twig was born, and me knowing it was coming and exploding in anger when it did. I was screaming all of the time. One day a hanger fell down in her closet and I asked her to bring it to me so I could hang a shirt on it, but she ignored me and started trying to put it back where it went. I started screaming at her. She was trying to fix it and I yelled at her for it. Then and there I knew that this couldn’t be normal.

I started asking on Twitter and it was quickly confirmed that this was indeed PPD. It wasn’t normal. I didn’t have to just keep dealing with it. Somehow, that alone helped me immensely. Just to realize that it wasn’t Peanut’s fault, but my own thing I needed to deal with. I started seeing my therapist again and that’s helped too. I’ve also realized what I need to do to keep myself mentally at my best, which includes, for me, a clean house. Not knowing where things are and having clean clothes and needing to clean the toilet nagging at the back of my mind is too much for me. So my house is back to it’s pre-Twig level of cleanliness and I’m happy for it. Yeah, I could spend more time relaxing or playing if I weren’t cleaning, but it’s what I need to do to stay happy. I think acknowledging what I need in my life to be happy is very helpful.

All in all, the postpartum aggression (as I like to call it) seems to be leveling out. I’ve been taking my placenta pills religiously because days when I miss it are definitely harder, but even those days aren’t explosive like they used to be. I still feel awful that Peanut was at the center of so much of the aggression, but the more I talk about it in therapy, the more I realize it wasn’t actually her or anything she did. I still love my first daughter as much as I did before I had my second and she hasn’t changed. She just got the short stick by being the person who I’m around the most. Luckily our relationship seems to be back to where it’s supposed to be at and we’re both better off.

I guess the end message is that postpartum depression isn’t just depression. If you’re feeling anything that’s doesn’t feel normal, talk to someone. It could be happiness to the point that it’s effecting your life in a negative way and still be PPD for all I know. Don’t let people or yourself tell you of course you’re emotional because you just had a baby. Even if it does turn out to be the baby blues, there’s no harm in talking to someone. Only in our society are women so isolated during the time when they need support the most.

Did you have postpartum depression? Did you experience anger and guilt as symptoms of your PPD? How were your other children or loved ones effected? What did you do that helped you cope? 

I’m a Natural Parent, but…

I’m slightly out of touch in the blogosphere (What?! Having a baby is distracting? Since when?). I do try to keep up with a few of my favorite blogs though, and one of them is definitely Hobo Mama. Which means that while I was unawares of this awesome blog carnival before it was actually posted, I loved the idea when I saw her contribution on her blog. So, while it’s too late to be included in the carnival, I decided to post my version.

Personally, I love it when I hear a parent that I look up to’s little dirty secrets. Not because I want to think I’m better than them, but instead because I like to get that affirmation that no one has it under control, not even the people that I admire. I like to know that other people also do the things that I feel guilty about doing as a parent. I like to know that I’m not the only one. So here we go, here are my top three non-natural parent things I do.

Peanut playing on mama's phone while sitting on daddy at 23 months.

In our house, we love technology. My husband plays video games every night. When I put together the swing, I was immensely happy that Twig seemed to like it. I am in love with my Apple products and have a mini-heart attack when my iPhone dies (which is almost daily). I strictly monitor Peanut’s TV intake, but she still gets more than I’d like. I love unabashedly love television myself, it’s one of my favorite “me” activities. Most of our toys are the delicious plastic battery-powered sort. And, probably the most shocking, Peanut has her own iPhone. When I upgraded to my 3gs, she got my iPhone vanilla. It mostly sat around dead and was only charged for special occasions when we’d need to keep her happy for extended periods of time like a car trip. Then when I upgraded to the 4s this last Christmas, she got my 3gs. We charge it regularly. She has a little side pocket of her backpack that she takes it in when we leave the house. She even takes it with her when she has sleep overs at her grandparents. She probably knows how to use an iPhone better than you.

My food intake is far from perfect. I have a major sweet tooth. I love baking and I love that people love what I bake. I am famous for my pumpkin chocolate chip cookies and I know my snickerdoodles are a favorite of many friends. Beyond making treats, I also love to buy them. Many of my favorite places to eat are favorites based mostly on their collections of sugary goodies. One of the first things I requested after Twig was born was a sandwich and cookie from my favorite sandwich shop. Speaking of eating out, I love that too. At home I have a freezer full of farm-fresh antibiotic and hormone free meat, but I go out to eat often enough that I sometimes wonder if it even matters what we eat at home. I love everything about going out to eat and always have. One of my favorite things to do is to go to lunch with Peanut, Twig, and my mom.

Yeah, I've loved Coke for this long. Alright, I probably wasn't actually drinking it that long ago.

My last thing is along the same line as the last one. I’m addicted to caffeine. I loves me a Coke. I recently got so bad about how many I was drinking (which was still only about 3 cans a day, but that’s a lot in my mind) that we stopped buying soda at the grocery store. We tend to go through phases of buying soda and then not, so that’s not unusual. I could try to just stop drinking soda, but I don’t want to. I love soda. I also love coffee. Since we stopped buying soda, I’ve been drinking more of it. Loaded with delicious creamer. If I don’t drink some sort of caffeine, I get a headache. Even more so since Twig was born and I started drinking more caffeine again. I have been drinking caffeine so long that I don’t notice the effects in terms of keeping me awake, but rather just keeping me from getting cranky and a headache. Yeah, full fledged addiction.

Some of that was embarrassing to admit to. Some of it I wish we could change. Some of it I don’t care to change at all. None of us are perfect people or perfect parents. Even the most natural parent does some things that conflict with their philosophies. I think that what matters is where we’re at the majority of the time. Most of my decisions are healthy for my family and the environment, but we all have our vices. We all have things that matter to us and it’s different from person to person. You may find some of the things that I do appalling and I may not agree with all of your choices either, but the important thing is that we all make the decisions that are best for ourselves, our circumstances, and our families.

What’s your dirty little secret? Do you do anything that entirely conflicts with your parenting philosophies and ideals? Do you ever feel like you can’t let others know some of the things you do for fear of not fitting into the perfect “natural parent” mold?

The Calm Down Chair

This is our “calm down” chair.

I’ve never liked the idea of time-out. In the past, we’ve done time-in, which is great. Peanut knows she’s not in trouble and I can remove her from the situation. We even got to the point where I didn’t have to say “let’s go to time-in” and leave the situation most of the time, she would just come cuddle with me and we’d talk about what the problem was (e.g. “Why did you hit so-and-so? It hurts when you hit someone. You don’t like it when someone hits you, right? We need to be nice to our friends or they won’t want to play with us.” and so on). We always ended time-in with a hug. She always calmed nicely once she was cuddling me and we could have a rational (as much as possible for a toddler) conversation.

Then Twig was born.

Of course there’s a period of adjustment. Of course her world was turned upside-down, so she’ll be more difficult for a while. Of course I’ll be more stressed with a newborn. I prepared myself mentally for this, but I didn’t realize it would be this bad. I didn’t realize that my toddler would absolutely melt down constantly. I didn’t realize that she wouldso stubborn and push every one of my buttons. I didn’t realize that I would have postpartum depression in the form of intense rage towards my not even three-year-old. I needed something to help. I needed to get under control.

Of course, I’ve started seeing my therapist again. Just the mere fact of figuring out that the rage I was feeling was a form of postpartum depression helped. I purposely worked on changing my attitude and calming myself when I was starting to feel out of control. This has all helped with the me side of things, but not with the Peanut side.

With the Peanut side, she’s been getting better. It’s not melt-downs all the time, but she’s still emotionally high-strung. She’s not quite as defiant, but she’s still not listening when I ask her to do things, even good things. She’s still pushing my buttons, but I’m better able to deal.

So back to the calm down chair.

Time-ins were no longer working. I needed to separate her from the situation, which was most of the time me (or it’s Twig, who is on me). When she’s freaking out because I said no she can’t have a cookie or she’s jumping hyper-actively on the bed Twig is laying on after I’ve told her to stop a billion times, she needs to be removed from the situation. When I’m getting overly upset because she’s still not listening to me, I need to be removed from her.

So I started looking into how to do time-out. I couldn’t reason with her when she was all wound up. Every parenting book and every study on the subject said that children are not rational when they’re upset. When you’re upset, your “logic” part of the brain turns off. Regardless, I immediately hated everything the time-out “experts” said. The idea of time-out still just feels wrong to me, so I made up my own thing. The calm down chair. Here are the calm-down chair philosophies and how they differ from time-out.

No shame. There’s nothing wrong with needing to calm down. Everyone needs to get themselves under control every once and a while. The biggest problem I have with time-out is the shame factor. When you go into time-out, you’re forcibly removed from your peers and put on display. If I were at, say, a La Leche League meeting and made a comment, then the leader told me to go sit in the corner or put my nose to the wall, I would feel mortified. Why would I do that to my child. Instead, we’re just separating from the situation. I try, as much as possible, to be calm and say matter-of-factly “Go to the calm down chair.” If I can keep it calm, it’s just a normal part of life. Which brings me to my second point.

No punishment. Once again, everyone needs a minute to get a hold of themselves at times. There are no timers in the calm down chair, just sit there until you’re calmed down. Originally I told her no books in the calm down chair, but I’ve since changed my mind on that. If reading a book calms you, great. I know it calms me. It’s normal to need to get a hold of yourself every once and a while. Adults don’t get punished for needing to take a breather.

The calm down chair is for everyone. I know I keep saying this over and over, but it’s normal to need to calm down. The difference with small children is that they don’t necessarily recognize when they need to calm down. Instead they just keep getting more and more worked up. This is where, as a parent, I step in and help her recognize that need. For myself though, I know when I need to calm down. I don’t necessarily want to do it, but I can see when I’m spiraling out of control, so I use the calm down chair. It actually works! And Peanut understands what I’m doing! Whereas if I were in the same place getting more and more frustrated, she would just keep climbing all over me and running around screaming and doing what I ask her not to and all of the fun toddler things. If I tell her I need to go sit in the calm down chair, most of the time she will leave me to it. Separating myself and just relaxing for a second helps me get my cool and then I can return a much happier mama.

I’m working on keeping myself calm when I tell her she needs to go calm down because I don’t want her to see it as a bad thing. Anger is a normal emotion and it’s alright to feel it, but we can’t act on it by hitting mama or pulling the dog’s hair. Sometimes it’s not even anger, but rather a toddler ball of energy that’s not being utilized in nice ways. This is all okay. This is all normal. We just have to learn how to get ourselves back to a calmer place if we can’t get that anger or energy out in nicer ways.

I’m not sure if any of this makes sense and it may not be kosher in the natural parenting world because it’s similar to time out, but I don’t care. This is what is working for my family right now. I needed something to keep both Peanut and myself under control with the new stress of being a family of four and taking care of Twig and so I created something I can live with. I’m writing this post so that other moms in my situation of having problems with time out, but other solutions aren’t working, can know there is a middle ground. There is a way to separate yourself from your child without some of the problems of time out. Needing separation is okay.