Sunday, September 29, 2013

What I Wore Sunday and A Prayer Request


So, we tried out a new church today.  It was passable....I still much, much prefer the church we had been driving to that is 30 minutes away...but....finances dictate that we save gas right now, so the closer church it is.  And, that leads me to my prayer request...we're having some financial difficulties...so if you could please pray for that, that would be great.   Thanks!

Also, I'm going to be starting to dip my feet into the world of freelance writing so prayers for that too please.  I've done some writing before...I completely wrote my website My Home Remedies and I have a few articles published on NaturalNews.com, but I kinda want to get out  of the alternative natural health writing business and get more into writing about Catholic, family issues.  And, I want to actually get paid (see...there's the financial difficulty thing again).  So...any prayers, tips, ideas or hints would be awesome.

So, here's what Elsa and I wore today.  Elsa gets a D for Mass Behavior.  We went to 10:00 AM and she didn't take a morning nap beforehand and didn't nap during Mass, which made for some pretty bad behavior. 


This is me and my old photographer, who complained one too many times and then got fired.  Of course, after giving the job to the next one in line, Heidi was all I'll do it, I want to do it, please let me take pictures, please, please.   Those kids...just can't figure them out.


And, here's a selfie my photographer too.  Cute, huh?


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Friday, September 27, 2013

7 Ways to Parent A One-Year Old Without Punishment (7QTF)

Jumping into the parenting discussions here....because you know I needed a bit more excitement in my life and what better way to add excitement then to blog about parenting. Right?  Kendra at Catholic All Year and Delaflute at Diapers and Driver  have both recently posted about parenting toddlers...and more specifically one-year-old children.so I'm jumping into the mix with my thoughts on the matter.

I totally respect that everyone parents differently and has different expectations for behavior and discipline. I've known many different families with many different parenting philosophies and I do believe that most parents are trying really hard to do their best.  For our part, we generally practice gentle discipline.   That's basically how I was raised and is the parenting philosophy that resonates most closely with me.  Why?    There are several reasons, but mainly because I believe that parenting and discipline require both justice and mercy, but if you are going to err....better to err on the side of mercy.   Why?   Because I believe that unjust punishments are a grave injustice.  As a parent, it's hard to know what is really just and what isn't.  I'm sure just about everyone can remember a time when they were unfairly punished.  I know I can, and the memory still stings.  I can also remember times when I deserved punishment, but was shown mercy...and I'm still grateful for those times and despite the lack of punishment, I still learned right from wrong and have not repeated the offense. 

But enough about me...this post is about one-year-old children....and while my one-year old is newly minted.....I've raised three other kids through that 2nd year of life without using spanking or time-outs.  Why not time-out, you might ask?  Well, one-year-old children tend to find separation quite difficult.  I really think that they don't have the cognitive ability (especially a child that is closer to 1 than 2) to understand that Mom still exists, even if I can't see her.   With my own young toddler, if I so much as dare to go into the bathroom and shut the door, she stands outside crying as if she is really thinking. 
Oh no, my mommy was eaten by the toilet monster,,,help me, help me, I'm all alone, abandoned out here, the toilet monster will get me next, Waaahh!

It's been a long-time since I was a one-year old...so I can't really say how a one-year old feels....but I suspect they might experience a time-out as abandonment, and I don't want my kids to ever feel abandoned...that is a terrifying feeling for a child.  We do occasionally use time-out for older children who have a better cognitive understanding of the whole thing, but I prefer to avoid it for kids who are basically still totally pre-verbal.  Again nothing against those who do use time-out with younger kids, I can respect that others do things differently, but this is how we do things..and it works for us.  

So then, if we don't do time-outs or spanking (not going to get into the whole spanking debate, other than to say that we don't do it)...what do we do?

Well, here are my 7 tips for Parenting a One-Year Old without punishment. 

1.
Baby Proof. This should go without saying...but babyproofing can make a huge difference.  We have baby locks on the cleaning supplies and try to keep any dangerous or harmful items out of reach.  Just makes life easier. And, if we had fancy nick-knacky stuff, we'd put it out of reach...but we don't, because in all honestly I, being a super klutz, am just as likely to break it as a baby would.  Plus, I hate fancy nick-knacky stuff. 

2.

Redirection. I find this is be especially helpful with young toddlers, who are easily distracted. Plus I believe that young toddlers really do have a NEED to explore....so if they are trying to explore something they shouldn't, redirecting them to something they can is very useful  I find this to be especially helpful when we are doing school.  When we are doing school the resident one-year old tends to screech and cry and try to grab everyone's pencils and paper, but if we give her her own pencil and paper and say "Here baby, here's your school, do your school." and spend about 5 seconds "helping" her "write" she's happy and content that is being included and stops the annoying, screeching/grabbing behavior and goes on to play by herself for a little bit.  

3.

Be Pro-active.  Toddlers and babies get more difficult when they are tired or hungry or lonely or overstimulated so being pro-active about that can make a big difference.   If they're hungry feed them, if they're tired, give them a nap, if they're lonely...cuddle or carry or sling or hold them.

4.
Baby-wear. Even in the toddler years.  Especially in the toddler years.  I wear my toddlers in stores and at the zoo or museums.  A good sling that can be worn on the back is a real back-saver (I love my Kozy or Beco) and my toddlers have all been super happy to chill out back there and just take the world in .  No tantrums in stores.  No asking for things.  No touching yucky germy grocery carts.  Plus, our family eats so much food, that we need the space in the top of the cart for groceries, so I don't have have room to sit a toddler up there anyway.

5.
Be routine. I know that is just general parenting stuff, but for us, having a routine really helps. To avoid baby'fighting diaper changes, I always change the diaper in the same place (on my bed) and if they try to get up in the middle of a diaper change, I just gently lay them back down.  Repeatedly if necessary, but it usually doesn't take much repeating because they figure out pretty soon that if they get up, they'll just be put back down, so they might as well just lie down, until all done. 

6.

Don't Chase 'Em. Obviously, this doesn't hold if they are heading for a something really dangerous like a busy street or a pool of hot lava. Furthermore, all my kids are neurotypical, so I have no clue about kids with autism or other special needs.  But with all my kids, even as very young toddlers, they seemed to have an inner "leash" or "line" or sense of "I'm only comfortable getting this far away from Mommy or Daddy."  So, if we were at the park, or outside in the yard, I would sit/stay in my spot and my toddlers all naturally sorta of played around/near me...never allowing themselves to get more than 10 or 15 feet away (or so...I'm not good at estimating distances). That's just what they did naturally.  The only child I ever had run it the street was my oldest and that's because she was my first and I made the mistake of chasing her around and following her around instead of just doing my own thing and making her follow me.  Because, generally, like a bunch of little ducklings, if we are walking someplace, my kids just naturally follow along behind or stay around me.  I expect them to stay with me, and they seem to naturally do so (after all who would want to be by themselves in the big, big world?)

7.
Tame the tantrum.  I generally deal with temper tantrums the same way I deal with other forms of crying...by offering comfort and consolation. Nursing is always an easy way to calm tantrums and stop crying fast.  Some might say that comforting a tantrum child rewards the tantrum, but I really think that something is very wrong in the parent-child relationship if a child feels the need to throw themselves on the floor screaming so they can get picked up and cuddled. And, I really don't think most young toddlers actively choose to have a temper tantrum....any more than I actively choose to lose my temper and yell at my kids.  We all get frustrated and lose control of our emotions at times...and how much harder it is for toddlers who can't yet talk or communicate effectively.  So, I really try to be very gentle with tantrums (especially with very young toddlers) who have limited skills or other ways of communication and comfort them through their frustration,, rather than ignoring them (which in my experience seems to make it worse).  And, for what it's worth, my kids have never had a really epic tantrum;...with kicking, screaming, throwing themselves on the floor, etc.  With all my toddlers, a tantrum basically consists of a little bit of crying/screaming that they were easily comforted out of, and went on their merry way. 

So, there you have it folks...my seven tips for parenting one-years old.  My toddlers have all been reasonably happy and content and we've generally been able to take them lots of places and somehow managed to survive the toddler years without too much difficulty and stress.  And somehow they've all managed to learn not to touch hot stoves or run in the street, even without punishment.   

And, since there just happens to be 7 tips, I'm linking up with Jen for 7 Quick takes Friday!. 

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Thursday, September 26, 2013

The way to a girl's heart is through a guinea pig.


There are two kinds of people in this world....pet-people and non-pet people.  Just in case you weren't sure from the title of this post, we are in the former category.  More, specifically I am in the latter category.   I've always loved animals.  I majored in Animal Science.  I did pre-vet in college, but ultimately decided against veterinary school and went to grad school instead. 

My kids like to ask If you could have anything in the world, what would it be?

And, my answer has always and will always be the same.

If I could have anything in the world...I would have one of these.


Especially if it's a palomino...but I'd take any of these guys too.


 I got my first pet, when I was 7.  A shaggy dog named Cuddles that looked sorta like Benji. 
And, over the years, there have been many other pets...some belonging to my whole family, and some to me specifically.

There have been the dogs...a beagle names PeeWee, another beagle named Coco, and an Australian Cattle dog named Hunter.  And, then there was the black lab named Molly that Ben and I adopted many years ago when we lived in TN and owned our own home.


Of course, we've had cats too...a big, white, fat cat named Xsy when I was a kid.....replaced by Lucy (whom my parents still have).

  And, many years ago when we lived in Louisville, shortly after Heidi was born, as a surprise, Ben took me to the animal shelter and we picked out an old 3-legged cat named Kiki.

 And, 5 years ago, I walked into my kitchen one night, saw a mouse, and ran out the next day and adopted our cat William (who we still have).

And then there have been the bunnies.

My first bunny was a bunny named Elydia (and my sister had one names Dellina)...then after Elydia died, I got another bun named Velvet, and we got Harry from a friend who moved...then later in college, I got Shea from my sister's friend...and then after we had kids, we adopted Billy and when he died, we adopted Benji (who we gave to a wonderful homeschooling family when we moved to FL in 2010). .  



We've had a few hamsters over the years too. My sister and I used to have a pair named Stormy and Desert
And, then there was Whitey..the albino hamster I had illegally in my dorm room in college.  

And, let's not forget the birds.
In college (not in the dorm, because it would be really hard to sneak these in a dorm) I had a pair of parakeets named Buddy and Bluey.   And, then when we were living in Fl, our neighbors were moving and looking for a home for their new parakeet

...and so of course we took it, and that's how we got Snowy (who we had to re-home when we moved out of FL).  And, when Ben and I first got married, we had a cockatiel named John Paul (JP for short).

I've loved all my pets of course...but of all the small caged animals I've had, the guinea pigs have been my favorite. I got my first guinea pig in college from some friends who couldn't keep it.  In fact, most of my pets were acquired in that way, because apparently when someone is looking for a new home for their pet, they call Amelia.  Her name was Winnie and she was super cute and brown and friendly.

And, then there was Little Dude.  Little Dude was an albino guinea pig that Ben gave me while we were still dating.  At that time, Ben didn't have car, so he had to take like 2 buses to go to the pet store and then carry the guinea pig back in a box on the bus.  That was true love I tell ya.  The way to this gal's heart is through a guinea pig.

And, that brings me to our latest acquisition. Earlier this summer, when we were in RI, my mom broke her leg and was laid up for quite some time.  She ended up paying Heidi rather well to help her out.  So, Heidi actually earned quite a bit of money this summer.....money that was just burning a hole in her pocket bank account.  So, she spent many hours discussing how she should spend it, and one thing she kept coming back to, is that she wanted a pet for her very own. 

So, we discussed it and decided that a guinea pig would be a great first pet.  I'm a huge fan of guinea pigs as first pets.  They are cute, cuddly and generally very docile and tame...and not a huge amount of work.

And, Ben just happened to mention to his class that his daughter wanted a guinea pig and one of his students just happened to have a guinea pig that needed a new home, so after a few phone calls with her parents it was all arranged.

Meet Pippin (so named for one of the hobbits in The Lord of the Rings).



who Ben brought home on Monday..and I got to feel all biological-pre-vet-student-like again as I had to examine it to determine if Pippin was a he or a she...since Ben apparently neglected to get that little bit of information from his previous owners (information that was vitally important to Heidi as she wanted to give him a new name).  In case you missed it, he's a he.

So far, Heidi has done a bang up job of taking care of Pippin and Pippin seems quite happy in his new home....well except for when William the cat jumps on top of his cage and terrorizes him.


We're working on that......


p.s. (don't worry..Pippin really is quite safe from William the WatchCat).

Sunday, September 22, 2013

WIWS and my parenting philosophy...A & R are key.


So, I've only been at this parenting thing for 11.5 years now.  I am most definitely NOT an expert..by any means.  And, I don't have teens and I've never raised kids through the teenage years.  I fail every day as a parent and still yell way too much.

I'm writing this post mostly for me, to remind myself of what I'm doing and where I'm going.

I've read a lot of parenting books and blogs....and I've seen all sorts of conflicting advice.
Spanking/no-spanking.  Gentle discipline/first time obedience.   Strict parenting/playful parenting/etc.
And, I've talked to friends about their relationship with their own parents or friends with adult children and those who have or haven't kept the faith.

And, honestly, I think that no matter what your parenting philosophy or how you discipline your kids....the keys to parenting are A & R.

Acceptance

I think this is vitally important.  Children need to feel acceptance from their parents.  They need to really believe that their parents accept them for WHO they are...their individual like and dislikes, talents and weaknesses.  We may not always accept their behavior..but we always need to ACCEPT them..in all their weaknesses, quirks and strengths.   They never should feel like they aren't good enough or are a disappointment.   This doesn't mean we accept their behavior.  This is why parenting is so hard...we need to show love and acceptance, while still teaching right from wrong.  

It's hard because so many times as parents, we view our children as extensions of ourselves.  We think that they REFLECT us.  So, we're afraid to let them be themselves, because we're afraid that people will judge us.   But, we need to let them be themselves..to pursue their own interests, let them dress how they want (within reason).  While we have guidelines and rules, we need to realize that our children aren't us and will have different likes and dislikes and styles and tastes and that's okay...because they need to be WHO they are and we need to accept them.  We don't get to choose our children...they are given to us from God...and we don't get to choose what they are like or who they are.  Sometimes I think, this is what makes parenting so hard.  Parenting is not about molding or training children into what we want them to be...but about accepting who they are and helping them be the person that God wants them to be. 

Relationship 

Relationship is the second key.  It's why we generally practice attachment parenting, although I don't in any way believe that is the only way to foster a good relationship with children.  It is just the way that comes most naturally TO ME.  And, really the key to attachment parenting is attachment...not a list of rules like co-sleeping and breastfeeding, those are mere ways of facilitating that attachment, that relationship.  And, no matter what your parenting philosophy is, I feel like that relationship is key.   It's important that parents have a good relationship with their children.  And, this is a large part of the reason why we homeschool.  I in no way believe that homeschooling is the only way to have a good relationship with children.  It is just the way that works FOR OUR FAMILY.   And, I think no matter how you school or parent, fostering a good relationship with children is key.  Our children need to feel that we generally love them and like them.  I think it's important for our children to feel that they can talk to us about anything or ask us anything and that we won't get mad or judge them.  For our family, homeschooling is a way of fostering that relationship because it forces us to spend more time together...talking and learning, discussing and sometimes even debating.  It helps me to really know my children.  Of course, it's not the only way, but it's the way that works for us.  

However, no matter how you parent or educate..I really believe that Acceptance and Relationship are the two most important factors. 

And hey, hey, hey...since it just so happens to be Sunday...again...I'm linking up with FLAP for WIWS. 

You can't really see it...but this skirt has some very pretty embroidering on the bottom..  It's one of my favorites...so it's kinda weird that I hardly ever wear it.

Hey Mom, you know that picture you painted...well there it is...on our mantel!


So, the skirt is really old..like circa 2000.  The tank is Old Navy and the shirt is thrifted.  The shoes are from Payless...and not my favorite.  I think this outfit would look really good in boots...but I don't have any..yet (plus it's still kinda hot) although our new church keeps the air conditioning at a temperature most appropriate for penguins, so I think they would have been fine there. .  Boots are definitely on my wish/want list for the fall though. . 
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Friday, September 20, 2013

7 Quick Takes Friday (these are quick..I promise).

Linking up with Jen over at Conversion Diary for another round of 7 Quick Takes Friday

1.

It's 7:10 PM and I'm sitting here listening to the blessed sound of silence.  That's right silence.  Golden, beautiful, lovely silence.   Ben took the older three kids to chess club, so it's just me and Elsa here.  And, Elsa is asleep.  Yippeee!  I can't remember the last time I've been (almost) alone in my house.  Actually I can...I think it was a year ago, right after Elsa was born.  So yeah..it's been awhile.

2.

Just in case you were wondering, if a baby eats a blue crayon, it will turn their poop a disgusting lovely shade of bright green.  Ask me how I know. 

3.

I wanted to take a minute just to thank everyone who comments on blog.  I really LOVE reading your comments and definitely appreciate each and every one.  It's make me feel so happy every time I get an email that someone commented.  I want to reply to them all, but I'm just not sure how to do so....I know I don't check back on every blog I have commented on to see if anyone has replied to it, so I figure most other people don't either.  How do you want bloggers to reply to your comments?  Any thoughts?  Do you most of you subscribe to comments, so you would get a reply?

4.

My awesome friend, who shall remain nameless, shared this awesome status on Facebook.   I know many of my homeschooling readers could really appreciate it!!  I know I did, (and I guess by now, after 6 years of homeschooling, I'm somewhat of a "veteran" and I STILL needed to hear it.  Monday was that type of day for us.  The rest of the week was much better...but I still don't how we survived Monday...other than the fact that the day (as all days are wont to do) finally ended. 

Homeschooling friends- particularly you who are new to homeschooling or have young kids. I'm going to let you in on a little "veteran homeschooler" secret: We ALL have days where we either seriously consider, or at least fantasize about sending our kids to school. That is NORMAL (well, as normal as homeschoolers can be ;)). So, try not to stress, the feelings will pass, you will figure things out and grow. It's not all sunshine and roses for anyone.
5.

I also wanted to share this wonderful post from Auntie Lelia.  I love her advice because it is so no-nonsense, yet generally very gentle and really reminds the parent to make sure that they are meeting the child's needs first. 

6.

It's not 7:30 and Elsa just work up.  Seriously!??!?!  That was all of 20 minutes of her sleeping.   She is nursing and going back to sleep though..hopefully this time she gives me my 2-3 hours at the beginning of the night..   For some odd reason, if she falls asleep before 8 PM, she wakes up shortly afterwards (and goes right back to sleep), but if she falls at 8:30 or 9:00 she sleeps 2-3 hours (or more) without waking up.   Update:  She did...she slept a couple hours!  Yay!

7.

I shared this in Thursday's blog post...but I just wanted to post it again.  I really love this photo!  Probably because it shows my favorite time of day. I LOVE being outside in the early evening...the last 2 hours or so before the sun sets.  I just love that time of day...I've always loved it.  In fact, I sorta like winter time when the days are shorter, because I get to experience my favorite time of day EARLIER in the day.  Yep..I'm weird..I know. 


Plus, I just love the composition of the photo...the sisters, the footprints, the balancing...I just love it.
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Thursday, September 19, 2013

Stepping Out Walkin' (Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real)


Linking up with Like Mother Like Daughter for PHFR.  I was going to link up Clan Donaldson for Theme Thursday, but I just realized I got the wrong theme this week.  NEXT week's theme is "Out", so I'll have to link this post up next week. That's what I get for looking up the Theme too quickly. 

I love to walk.  That sounds silly, I know....I mean walking is such a basic thing, most of us have been doing it since we were wee tots.  But, I love to walk.  I love taking walks.  I love walking places.   I love walking with friends.  I love walking alone.  My idea of a perfect date night would involve a long walk.  I just find the action of putting one foot in the front of the other to be very rhythmic and soothing.  

I once read an article in a teeny, tiny paper from a teeny, tiny touristy island that turns into a ghost town during the off-season about one year-round resident who would walk 10 miles a day in the winter....every day.  Because there really is nothing else to do on this island during the winter.  And, that is totally something I could see myself doing (if I didn't have a bunch of kids with me all day). 

And, our new neighborhood is perfect for walking.  Perfect.  Quiet, safe tree-lined streets that provide ample shade.  We got into the habit of taking a daily walk 3 years ago, and have tried to stick with it ever since.  The last few days, the weather has been deliciously cool and after living in Fl for 3 years, temperatures below 75 degrees in September make me want to kick up my heels, put on my walking shoes and head out for miles.

Of course, I can't go for miles and miles with kids along, but they're usually pretty good for 2-3 miles or so (I have them trained well).   

So, today I decided to take pictures of us stepping OUT (there's that Theme Thursday for next week word)..on our walk. 

{pretty}


Isn't this a pretty street for walking (or running if you are so inclined)

And, if we go a little ways, we end up here:




{happy}

Thankfully Elsa is happy in the stroller..and that makes me happy...very, very happy. 



{funny}

There's a giant peeking up behind the baby.


Aaack...the stroller has a head coming out of it!

{real}
We stopped at the "harbor" that we always walk past.  Guess how many kids listened to my direction to say clean and dry.  

If you guessed zero you win...I don't what you win..but you win. 











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Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Where nobody knows your name


Awhile ago I wrote a post entitled The One Homeschooling Item I Couldn't Live Without.  It was all about (surprise, surprise) the one homeschooling item I couldn't live without...friends. 

Well, seeing as how we just moved to an entirely new state a mere 2.5 weeks ago....I'm living without it.  And it's hard,  Super hard.  Harder than I thought it was be.

This picture really has nothing to do with this post..but hey..what's a post without a picture?

You see, I had been really spoiled.  When we lived in Naples, it was easy to make friends.  We lived on campus, we knew all our neighbors, I had a friend who introduced me to someone who introduced me to somebody...so I actually already had an "in".   Over the course of three years living there, we had an awesome community!  And, everyone was nearby. And, then we moved back to RI, where my kids and I already had friends...and it was great.  We jumped right back into park days and beach days and morning hikes.  And, it was wonderful.  

And, then it all happened so fast...Ben got a job and before I could blink I found myself smack dab someplace where nobody knows your name. And frankly, it's been tougher than I thought it would be.

And to be fair, some people do know our names.  Our neighbors are very nice...we don't have much in common with them...but they are very nice and even helped us put our lawn mower together.   And, I've joined a coop, and have attended a mother's rosary group at a church which is not as local as I would like.  And, we've gone to chess club...and there's homeschool PE and various other activities....in fact we could easily get way overstretched with activities (that are spread way too far apart).  And, I've emailed back and forth with a few people from a large, yahoo group I joined.   And, everyone has been very, very nice and welcoming.   So, we are very, very, very slowly meeting people...but they are just acquaintances. And, it's tiring and draining because nobody knows us...not really.   I'm tired of always introducing ourselves.  I'm tired of initial chit chat.  I'm tired of not knowing people and them not knowing me.  I want to go someplace where people know me and I know them.  I want to walk into a park day, already knowing people.  I want people to already things about us...little things, like we're gluten-free, or into natural health or have always homeschooled and aren't in the military.  And, I want to know those things about other people.  I want to know who else avoids high fructose corn syrup or uses essential oils or blogs or uses this curriculum or is into gluten-free baking.  I want to know who is into sewing or crafting or shooting or football.  I want to know those little things about people that make a friendship....and I want them to know those little things about me.   I want to know people well enough to feel comfortable having them over, or meeting at the park...or exchanging childcare.

Random Picture #2


And, I know that will happen...eventually...but it takes time and, I'm impatient, very, very impatient.  So for right now, we're just biding out time, spending way too much time driving around to various activities trying to find our niche, and just longing to go someplace where everybody knows your name.

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Sunday, September 15, 2013

WIWS and I Co-Sleep and I'm Not Sleep-Deprived.


Kendra over at Catholic All Year has a blog post about baby sleep and what she does to get her babies to sleep. It's a very interesting post (as all of Kendra's posts are), and the comments are even more interesting. While Kendra was very much do whatever works for you, every family is different, many of the commentators seemed to say that babies needed to be trained to sleep and before employing CIO (cry-it-out), everyone was sleep-deprived and miserable and afterwards, everyone was happy and well rested.  And, I'm sure that is true for them.  But, it's not true for me. 

I've gotten to a point in my parenting where I can respect that different things work for different families.  I'm not judging those who do CIO.  I totally respect that most parents really are parenting the best they can and everyone does things differently.  I realize that co-sleeping isn't for everyone..that it doesn't work for some families.  And, that's okay.  Those families need to do what works for them. 

However I did want to address the idea that babies need to be taught to sleep alone for healthy sleep habits and that co-sleeping leads to unhealthy sleep habits and sleep-deprived mothers and babies.  

With all my babies, we've co-slept from day one.  They've always nursed to fall asleep unless they fell asleep in the stroller, the sling or the car. 

Co-sleeping and night-nursing is easy for me.  It doesn't disturb my sleep and I sleep just fine with a baby in bed with me, and even nursing in the middle of the night does not disturb me because I don't have to get up. I barely even have to roll over.

By 1 week, my babies have all had their days/night straight and would (98% of the time) sleep all night, with only waking up to nurse...but no fussy/awake periods during the night.  So, I never actually got up at night (except to change a poopy diaper and that all stopped by 3-4 weeks of age or so).

By 3-6 months, they would reliably give a solid 2 hour stretch of sleeping alone, in the beginning of the night and I could easily nurse them to sleep and then lay them down and they'd be good for about 2 hours while I did my own thing.

By 6-10 months, I could nurse them to sleep and easily lay them down for naps and they would nap alone (for some reason napping was harder to get them to do alone).

Here's proof..  Baby napping alone!  7 months ago this would have been rare...now it's a daily occurrence.  And, now you can also see what Elsa wore Sunday. 

By a year, they were down to nursing only once or twice in the middle of the night. Since we're still co-sleeping, this nursing is not disruptive to me in the least.  I simply latch them on and go right back to sleep. 

Sometime around age 2-2 1/2 I night-weaned them completely, although they would continue to nurse to fall asleep but not nurse at all during the night.  Depending on the child, this was easier or harder, but with all the kids, it was fairly painless.  

One thing I learned from night-weaning, is that even at age 2, some of my kids were legitimately thirsty in the middle of the night and that is why they wanted to nurse.  Once I started keeping a sippy- cup of water in the bedroom to offer instead of nursing, night-weaning went fairly smoothly.   Heck, sometimes, I still wake up thirsty and need a drink of water to go back to sleep.

Sometime around age 2.5-3.5 they stopped nursing to sleep.  They just did this all on their own.  I didn't have to teach them or anything, they just naturally started pulling off from nursing before being completely asleep and then falling asleep on their own.    I know some people will think aaaack, you were still nursing your 2-year or 3-year old to sleep, but really nursing them to sleep is EASIER than reading stories or singing songs or doing whatever bedtime routine other people do with their kids.   It only takes about 10 minutes at that age, and is a more sure-fire way of getting them to sleep than stories and singing or whatnot.   And they all naturally gave it up...on their own. And, none of them got cavities from it either.

 And, if I wasn't home to put them to sleep, they fell asleep just fine with Daddy, so it wasn't like I had to be there all the time.  It's just that most of the time I was, so it was easy enough to nurse to sleep.  

Also, around age 3, they all moved to their own bed in another room. 

And, between 3 or 3 1/2, they all weaned totally and completely..and have slept on their own, in their own bed, ever since.  They all have healthy sleep habits, fall asleep easily and for the most part sleep all night. We don't have elaborate bedtime routines...or kids stalling bedtime or kids getting out of bed repeatably.  From age 3-4, some of them would come into my bed in the middle of the night a few times a week, and I was fine with that.  By age 4, they pretty much all stopped doing that and stayed in their own bed all night. 

There has been a natural progression of increasingly independent sleep that happened all by itself without sleep training. 

For babies grow up we've learned to our sorrow
So quiet down cobwebs, dust go to sleep,
I'm rocking my baby and babies don't keep.  
That line from that classic poem is so true.  Babies grow up.  They all grow up.  They all wean. They all learn to fall asleep on their own. They stop needing to be rocked (or nursed).  They become easier to put down asleep as their sleep pattern shifts from a newborn pattern to an adult pattern.*  They all start sleeping through the night. Some earlier than others..but it DOES happen.   Sometimes it feels like society is pushing babies and toddlers more and more towards independence earlier and earlier.  We just joined a new coop and Elsa is in the nursery. I'm only assigned to be in the nursery with her the last class...the first class I have "off" to socialize in the parent's lounge and the 2nd class I'm expected to help out in another class.  Last week was our first day there, and not surprisingly at all, Elsa protested rather strongly if I tried to leave her alone in the nursery with total and complete strangers.  She was terrified.  So, I didn't leave her.  She's just a baby.  I put her on my back in the Beco and took her with me to help out in the class I was assigned to help out.  And, she was fine..she fell asleep back there.  And, I was fine with her on my back.  The other mothers in the nursery were oh, it's like a band-aid...you rip it off and it hurts and they cry, but then they get used to it and they stop crying. And, maybe that's true..but I wasn't going to leave her in there crying and alone with unfamiliar people. She's just a baby.  I don't judge others who do that..but I'm not going to.  Just because she can't be left at 12-months with total strangers doesn't mean she won't happily go into a preschool class at age 3 or a kindergarten class at age 5.   They all grow up. I don't need to force separation at age 1, to make it possible at age 3 or age 4.

Likewise I don't need to force a baby to sleep alone at 6 months, to ensure that they're sleeping alone when they're three or that they have healthy sleep habits.  It just happens..they just naturally grow up and become less needy and more independent.
I can honestly say that I've never felt sleep-deprived from my babies nursing in the middle of the night.  The only times I have felt sleep deprived are when I stayed up too late, or  I was up with someone who was sick or injured.   But, never just from my babies waking up to nurse.  I honestly can't relate to moms talking about those sleep-deprived first few months, because I'm wasn't sleep-deprived.  I sleep, baby sleeps, we all sleep together and it works for us.

And, my babies have never seemed sleep-deprived or been cranky from nursing at night or nursing to sleep.  The only time they've been cranky and sleep deprived is when they haven't napped enough.  And, that's not the fault of co-sleeping or nursing to sleep...that's the fault of us having places to go and people to see and things to do and simply not being home during nap, so they had cat naps in the car, or fell asleep in the sling at the grocery store or were pulled out of bed and thrown into the car to rush off to piano lessons.

On the flip side though, the advantage of nursing to sleep is that my babies are very adaptable and will nap anywhere.  So, a 1-year old who sleeps all through Mass...SWEET!

The other advantage is that co-sleeping and night-nursing delays the onset of the return of fertility...and provides a form of "natural child spacing".   My children are all spaced fairly far apart, and this form of co-sleeping/breastfeeding is a large reason why. Now, some people may not care about that, or may want closely spaced children (and that's great). But for those who do, or who are unsure about NFP...ecological breastfeeding/co-sleeping/continued nursing at night can work and provide a natural form of child-spacing.  Of course there are exceptions..there are always exceptions...but it totally does work for me. 

And, I as I said earlier...I respect the fact that everyone parents differently and that every family does what works from them.   I really believe that.  Co-sleeping doesn't work for everyone.  My purpose in writing this post is to show that babies and toddlers can naturally learn healthy sleep habits and independent sleep in their own time without being "trained" into it.  You don't HAVE to teach a baby how to sleep alone or how to fall asleep alone.  They WILL figure it out...eventually..in their own time.

*Dr. Sears talks about this.  When babies are first born, they fall asleep asleep differently than adults.  They go from awake to light/REM sleep and then into deep sleep, which is why it's so hard to put a newborn baby down when they first fall asleep.  They don't fall straight into deep sleep the way an older baby or an adult does. As they get older, this gradually shifts and they start to fall asleep and enter deep sleep earlier and faster (similar to the way an older child falls asleep and at that point, they become much easier to lay down if they fall asleep nursing or being rocked).   I can always tell when Elsa is ready to be put down because her head rolls back in my arms...the rolling head is a sure sign of deep sleep. 

And, since it just happens to be Sunday, I'm linking up with Fine Linen and Purple for What I Wore Sunday...because that's what I do .  I just can't let a Sunday go by without letting you all know what I wore (because I'm sure you all just care so much..or not).

The photographer wanted to stage the picture this way. 
You've seen all these pieces before.  Everything is second hand...and that black cloth peaking out of the top of my shirt...that's actually a belly band worn..not-on-the-belly.  But, hey..it works. 
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Thursday, September 12, 2013

{Pretty, Happy, Funny Real Text}


Linking up with Like Mother Like Daughter for Pretty, Happy, Funny Real and Clan Donaldson for Theme Thursday.

{pretty}

Yesterday, this pretty baby turned 1!! 

She always walks around with a hairbrush..she's got a thing for hairbrushes.


{happy}

Elsa was super happy to get her first taste of cake.  I vowed that sugar was not to cross her lips until her first birthday, and yesterday she turned one and got her first taste of sugar.  (In all honesty, that whole sugar is not to cross her lips was actually more like, dessert is not to cross her lips. She's had bits of sweetened yogurt off our spoon, the occasional cracker..but nothing dessert-y until her first birthday!




{funny}

Of course, we have the obligatory baby with cake all over her face first photo!  Is there anything funnier (or cuter?)


I think the cake was a big hit!


{real}

When you're married to a lawyer (especially a lawyer who is employed as a teacher), words like establishment clause, become part of your everyday lexicon.  

When I saw that today's theme was text...I was a bit unsure of what to do...so I grabbed one of Ben's law school textbooks, opened it up.....and look what page, just happened to fall open.  So...for Theme Thursday..here is the text for Theme Thursday-text.



 Seems rather appropriate for a lawyer working as a public school teacher, right?


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