It tastes like ice cream

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We started keeping Chuck accountable for helping around the house. She turned 3 last month and Hfoe and I agreed, with that sassy personality of hers, she is more than capable of maintaining a short list of responsibilities. On the list are chores like helping feed the dogs and making her bed. She gets the holy grail of stickers to mark the square for “staying in bed all night” because that is such a monumental event on the rare occasion it actually happens! The final space on her Mickey Mouse chore chart is reserved for “extra helps through the day.” She gets to place the coveted Sofia the first stickers on this space when she helps clean her sticky fingerprints off the floor to ceiling mirror in the living room (whoever installed that did NOT have toddlers) or she brings me buddy’s diapers, etc. She’s the quickest to remind us of these little extras throughout the day and has even started trying to negotiate her way into stickers for brushing her teeth and eating dinner. Nice try, pal! My favorite part of this chore chart, though, is the little “memo” section which allows us to write notes and goals for the week. Never mind that our goal for the week has remained the same for the 5 weeks we have been doing it…”no whining, no crying, no being mean.” A lofty goal, for sure. We must repeat this mantra often, but repetition is the key, right?! Along with our goal for the week, we have been choosing scripture verses for C (and us if we are being honest) to memorize. So far, she has memorized Luke 6:31, Phil. 4:13 and 1 John 4:19. I couldn’t be prouder! Besides, my little sinner is going to need all the guidance she can recall because this kid is mischievous, let me tell you!

 

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Who me? I am a perfect angel.

 

 

Her recent antics prove that perhaps we shouldn’t be spending so much time on verses about “doing unto others…” as we should be on something more like “thou shalt not bear false witness.”

 

I  mentioned that one of her chores is to help us feed the dogs in both the morning and the evening. A couple days ago, as Chuckles was carrying the cup full of food outside, I ran ahead of her to find the dog’s bowl that had blown away with the Santa Anas. When I turned around to bring her the bowl, she had a smug grin on her face. And the tiniest kernel of kibble on her lip.

“Kid! Did you just eat dog food?!”

I know we all did it at one point or another, but she’s THREE! We aren’t talking about an early walker here!

Just as emphatically as I proclaimed my disgust and astonishment, she rebutted, “I did NOT!”

Perhaps the art of discretion is lost on her, but the evidence was literally written on her face.

“You did, too and now you just lied about it! I hope it tasted gross!”

We eat organic in this house, for crying out loud. What could possibly drive her to desire processed chicken byproduct and ground corn meal?

“Nope. It tasted like ice cream!”

And the lie of lies, she blasphemed ice cream….

Whatever, kid. I just hope you don’t get worms. And next time you beg and whine and plead for ice cream, you better believe you’re getting one heaping cupful of pro plan!

 

Maybe we need to add a sticker line for refraining from taking food out of our puppy sisters’ mouths. Next week’s memory verse will be Deut. 14:3. She needs the lesson.

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Princess Chuck turns 3!

I was given free product in exchange for this post. As always, opinions are solely my own.
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When I received the email notification we had been chosen again this year to host a Disney @Home Celebration party, it couldn’t have come at a better time. I was sitting at the kitchen table contemplating baby Bug’s hospital stay the night before. He was still wheezing in the other room and my girly, Chuck, was squirming in my lap for the attention she so desperately needed after a night away from mama. Little did I know we would be headed back to the hospital the next day as Bug’s oxygen saturation dropped dramatically and he became dehydrated. But, amid all the nerves and chaos that happens when your newborn gets really sick, we got this exciting announcement! What a mood lifter!

 

Once the roller coaster ride of our 8 day stay in the pediatric unit had ended, it was time to start planning little Miss Fancy Pants’ birthday party! First, since I knew the theme would be “Sofia the first,” I had to figure out a way to make it coed appropriate. C has lots of little dudes as buddies and I didn’t want them to feel left out if we did a princess only tea party or something. So, I asked the most dapper of guys in our life, Papa bear! He suggested a  “ball.” Knights, pirates and princes would be welcomed to join all the princesses for a fun royal ball! It was perfect! We found a cute template on evite.com and set the date…wheels were in motion!

 

Now, for decorations, food and activities! I had planned so many fun things to do…outside. Our royal ball would be held in our backyard with a projector movie of Sofia the first playing for the duration of the party. There would be strand lights and Chinese lanterns and magical, mystical accents to make our setting perfect. Weeeeellll, the best laid plans, right?! Instead, it rained.

 

We moved as much as we could indoors (including all 60 guests in our 1000 sq. ft. home!) and scrapped the rest. In place of twinkly lights, I hung streamers from the ceiling.

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Where we would have had outdoor garden games like croquet (I really had planned to teach three year olds to play with mallets. For real.) we instead had a dance contest under our covered patio as the warm Southern California rain poured down. We played “freeze dance” and all the kids giggled as if it was the best activity ever!

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With the crayons and coloring book we received in our box, I set up a “decorate the castle” station where everyone could color a Sofia picture of their choice.

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We ate cupcakes from Sam’s club and homemade turkey wraps. I made “princess pops” with marshmallows on sticks with cupcake liners to look like ball gowns. They looked more artistic on Pinterest, but that didn’t seem to affect how quickly they disappeared! The Sofia table decorations got plenty of compliments!

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My favorite detail of the whole shindig was the photo booth I set up! I found three old shutters listed for free on one of my local garage sale pages on facebook. Then I strung together scrap fabric and tulle to make a streamer for the backdrop and placed purple pillows around an ottoman to make a “throne.” The kids all loved having their royal headshots taken!

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When the royal processional was ready to retreat, we sent them each home with a little something special. The princesses left with everything necessary for a pretty manicure and the princes left with either a knightly shield or a pirate band tambourine. I think they were all graciously received.

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Although things didn’t go as we had originally planned, Princess Chuckles enjoyed her special day and has woken up every morning since asking if it was time for her birthday again! Thank you to everyone who came to celebrate with us and thank you Disney for the opportunity!

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I received free product in order to write this post. As always, opinions are my own.

 

 

 

 

 

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Marshmallow Painting: A Pinterest Fail

I like to do crafts. I really like to do crafts with my kid. I especially like new and educational or sensory type of activities we can do together and that hold her attention for longer than two minutes. Chuckles LOVES to paint so when I saw this idea on Pinterest, I had to try it with her!

Marshmallow Painting: A Pinterest Fail

Action shot.

Marshmallows? Check! Soy based paint (just in case she mistook it for frosting on the ‘mallow)? Check! A stack of construction paper thick enough to create a masterpiece for each family member? Double check! We were ready to create!

Marshmallow Painting: A Pinterest Fail

She was too excited and dug right in before I got the “clean” picture.

I’m not really sure where I went wrong, but let’s just say that marshmallow painting turned quickly into an ooey, gooey mess! I’m sure the kid “shaping” the marshmallows into triangles and hearts had nothing to do with it. Neither did the licking of them behind my back. Right?

Marshmallow Painting: A Pinterest Fail

Making this sticky of a mess takes great concentration.

Well, despite the mess and the fact that it didn’t quite turn out Pinterest perfect, I think she had fun. More importantly, I made dinner in peace!

Marshmallow Painting: A Pinterest Fail

Obviously, she loved it! (And yes, there is a plastic bag for protection on my chair. I’m not dumb.)

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Firsts on Firsts on Firsts

The single most covetable part about being a mother, in my opinion, is the privilege granted to me to be the eyes that witness and the ears that hear all the firsts that come from this tiny little human. It seems like every week is equivocal to a moon landing in one form or another. Chuckles had a big couple of weeks this month! Between her leaps in vocabulary and great first time experiences, I am chalk-full of accounts for September.

"Hey Bear! Look at me, Bear!"

“Hey Bear! Look at me, Bear!”

I guess we really started the month at the end of LAST month with a trip to visit the cousins in Oregon. Chuck loved waking up every morning to the giggles of her built-in family playmates. There is just something so special about watching your kid bond with their life-long buddies. Knowing that these tiny people will grow and go their separate ways over the years, but will always be able to come back together to reminisce about breakfast around the table with “not-so-hots” and cousin craft nights that got a little TOO glitter-heavy makes my heart so happy. While we were in Oregon, we decided to take a little detour to see some friends who had recently moved from our area up that way. What a refreshing time of fellowship with some sweet friends whom we have missed! Somewhere along the way, we decided to make the stop at Wildlife Safari. Have you heard of this place or a place like it? It’s a drive through zoo where the animals roam (mostly) free. I remember going to a place like that in Arkansas called Arbuckle Wilderness when I was little and it made quite the impact on my aspiring Zoologist self. However, I don’t remember it being THAT cool! Wildlife Safari turned me into a giggly kid and turned my giggly kid into quite the chatterbox! “Hi Bear! Hey, look at me bear!!” Her mantra of the drive has now become a Crunchy house catchphrase because it made us laugh endlessly while in the park. Her favorite animal in the park was the “scary chicken” that kept coming up to the window for food…of course this was an emu, but “scary chicken” actually seems more fitting. Needless to say, Chuck’s first time at the drive-thru zoo was a roaring success!

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This is her reaction for the Frozen float in Mickey’s Soundsational Parade at Disneyland….You’d think she’d appreciate my rendition.

Another first for this growing kid of ours recently has been her usage of certain phrases, correctly, that send us into stitches. C has always had a great vocabulary and was able to express herself from an early age. But this level of comprehension (and wit) is new. For instance, she, of course, loves “Frozen.” Like it has for every other two-year old girl on the planet, Disney’s latest princess flick has found it’s way into our sweet girl’s heart as an instant favorite. She would listen to the soundtrack on repeat if allowed. So, it stands to reason that her papa and I know ALL the words to one notable song in particular. C has decided, though, that our sing-along sessions just don’t do the film justice and as we head into the hook with great gusto, our dear girl will shout, “Hold it!” with her hands held up and a furrow on her brow. Kills us every time. In addition to her lofty musical critiques, she has crafted quite the imaginary scenarios of which we are expected to partake….and know all the rules. One example of this is the tea party she likes to host on a daily basis. The cups must face a certain direction and we must only eat cookies (not biscuits) off the plates. If I “eat” something I’m not supposed to, I will receive a stern, “No mama, like this.” from my bossy strong girl. My favorite phrase at the moment, though, is “I no hafta (fill in the blank), mama.” The most common blank-filler is “I no hafta nap now,” but you can also fill in with “eat that” or “clean that” or “do that.” While I know at first read this seems like she is talking back and perhaps in need of some nose on the wall time,  it’s actually funny because she is such a little mini-me that her inflection and tone make her sound EXACTLY like my “persuasive” voice. When I am trying to convince Hfoe that I don’t really need to clean the bathrooms today or that I don’t really “hafta” cook dinner tonight….my tiniest ears are listening and mimicking ME! It’s both a funny and humbling reminder!

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First Fish!!

We had a proud moment first while we were all in Colorado this month for hunting season. Since Hfoe harvested his elk on his second day out in the woods (thank you, Jesus for a full freezer for the next year!), Chuckles and I got to enjoy a little more family time with him than we were expecting. On one of those days, we decided to head down to the community pond at my grandma’s cabin and try C’s luck at fishing. After a couple of slapstick moments of chasing after grasshoppers for bait, we were ready to cast the line. Papa threw out the first cast and asked me to hold tight to the pole, while Chuck, in all her mini-fisher glory, manned the reel. It was truly a group effort…and it paid off! C was so excited as that bobber disappeared under the water and I helped her snag her first little trout. She reeled it in with papa and squealed uncontrollably as it flopped and flipped at her touch! This was one of those moments that, despite her age, I really hope she remembers, at least partly, because it was kind of magical….and a little slimy!

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Kicked in the head by “Brother-Sister”

A couple of my favorite firsts from this month involve C’s “brother-sister.” She got to feel baby kick for the first time as we were laying down to nap one afternoon and then she told the baby “I love you, baby” completely unsolicited for the first time soon after. Talk about melting a mama heart! I sure hope this sweetness continues once the runt is born!

As we head into the last 8 weeks of this pregnancy, I am reminded to take every opportunity to step back and enjoy each of Chuck’s “firsts” because soon we will have another first-timer on our hands. I am most excited to see my TWO babes meet each other for the first time. Now, THAT is sure to be a monumental first for our whole family!

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Being a good big sister, feeding bear.

 

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5 Reasons I’m the Worst Mom Ever

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I try so hard to not complain about this pregnancy. It’s a blessing and miracle in so many ways, not the least of which is that this baby is sticking! I am 28 weeks along and I feel so much more secure knowing that if all H-E-double hockey sticks broke out and this kid decided to make an early appearance, his/her chances are looking pretty good. Beautiful miracle and all considered, there are a couple of not so awesome things about being pregnant for the second (third) time while wrangling a toddler with the attention span of an ape. This leads me to what I have learned are the top ways to be a truly awful mother….at least in my own mind…and why I’m convincing myself it’s ok.

1. Why I am the worst mom ever: Today is day 15 of the last 30 that will include peanut butter in some form at all three main meals for Chuckles. Creativity around here is at an all time low and unfortunately, her dietary experience suffers. If I have to think up a Pinterest-worthy dinner for this two-year old who will likely turn her nose up before a single bite is chewed ONE MORE TIME, I am going to lose it. So, I won’t.

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Why it’s ok: I mean, peanut butter is totally a protein, right? Nevermind the sugar content…I buy organic, natural, have-to-stir-or-you’re-eating-oil peanut butter, so it can’t be that bad…right? Right?

2. Why I am the worst mom ever: I let Chuck have LOTS of independent play. At least that’s what I am telling myself as I lay on the couch concentrating on breathing through the baby laying on my lungs and trying not to fall asleep so C isn’t TOTALLY unsupervised. Let’s just say we have taken the “Montessori” approach to learning around here. In the last three days, she has poured an entire bottle of water on the carpet in an attempt to “play tea party” with Mickey Mouse, drawn a masterpiece on the laminate wood floor with a dry erase marker and drank half her body weight in soapy water after she begged (and I obliged) to stay in the bath just a LITTLE too long…in the middle of the day.

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Why it’s ok: Hey, she’s learning! Water on the floor= you gotta clean up after yourself. Art on the floor= cause and effect (translate: Mama loses her mind a little before she realizes dry erase marker WILL erase from laminate! Yay!) Drinking bath water= learning about anatomy…and digestion…and soap may lead to less than favorable bathroom experiences. So really, I rock as a pre-school teacher.

3. Why I am the worst mom ever: C has learned and implemented some new phrases. She now speaks like a 15 year-old, angst ridden teenager and I have realized it can only be coming from one place. I mean, how many toddlers look their mother in the face and say with all seriousness, “I just can’t do this right now, Mom.” This is in regards to finishing her cereal, I might add. Perhaps telling her “I just can’t do this right now, C,” in reference to sitting in the bathroom with her while she poops and I try not to gag on heightened pregnancy senses was NOT the wisest, but I had no clue she would soak THAT in. Sure, I throw out plenty of “please” and “thank you’s” but THIS is what she latches to? Sheesh.

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Why it’s ok: She’s advanced. Truly, she has to have a pretty quick little brain to pick up on such things, right? I will just keep believing she is a genius with a stellar vocabulary. That belief makes me feel better when she holds up her hand and says, “Hold it, Mom,” as I sing my rendition of “You are My Sunshine.”

4. Why I am the worst mom ever: She seriously knows all the words to at least three Bubble Guppies episodes and 4 Mickey Mouse Clubhouse episodes. Notice I said all the words to the EPISODES…not songs, not rhymes…entire episodes. Apparently, this kid has been allowed to watch so much TV that she can recite the script for her two favorite animated shows…WITH inflection! Who does that? Who lets their toddler watch so much tv that she could play understudy to the characters? Me. Giant, pregnant me. That’s who.

Why it’s ok: One part of classical education, which is the philosophy behind most homeschooling curriculum, is learning through memorization. I like to pretend that someday, when it’s time (in two years or so, eek!) I will be equipped and prepared to homeschool Chuck and her sibling. Well, we are well ahead of the curve when it comes to memorization because let me tell you, C can recite her ABC’s as well as the whole lunchtime scene from Bubble Guppies episode 1.4. Again, I rock as a preschool teacher!

5. Why I am the worst mom ever: I use other people’s children to wear mine out…so I don’t have to. Back in the olden days…read: pre-pregnancy…the kid and I took daily walks or park dates and I would chase her and squeal and slide right alongside her sweet, smiley little self. I pushed her on the swing endlessly and swam with her in the community pool. Now that I am a whale, such physical exertion feels nearly impossible. Or, I’m just lazy. Either way, my friends’ kids have slipped into this role beautifully! She wants to be pushed on the swing? Set up a park date with my friend and her 7 year old! She wants to be chased? Invite her friend from next door to play tag. She wants to swim? Make friends with the preteens at the community pool who, “just LOVE” babies and watch them all screech with delight as Chuck jumps in and swims to them. These are my solutions to my lacking and her rising energy levels.

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Why it’s ok: She’s socializing! She has a more complete calendar than I do and her social skills have benefitted from it. Isn’t it what we strive for as parents? To help our kiddos grow into caring, empathetic, well-adjusted mini- humans? The only way for that to happen is for them to have regular interaction with other littles. So, in essence, my laziness is just giving her a leg up on overcoming potential social awkwardness.

At the risk of judgment from my pre-parent self, I throw all this out there to let other pregnant moms know you aren’t alone. I’m tired, too. I’m not the same mom to Chuck now as I was 8 months ago and although this makes me sad and hard on myself at times, I know this is a season. The next season of our mother/daughter journey will include another little being and I am sure the dynamic will change once more. What doesn’t change, EVER, is my love and adoration for the sweet cheeks that grin up at me to tell me she feels the same. Hopefully, as I try to go with the flow, C will learn to be a flexible, forgiving human as well. If nothing else, she won’t ever be able to tell a therapist that I ruined her childhood by never letting her express herself…even if that was in dry erase marker!

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Toddler ‘tude Thursday

SO, I had this epiphany a couple weeks ago….toddler life is mad hard, y’all. I mean, judging from some of the meltdowns that happen around this joint, you would think I have this kid in a labor camp, eating salt dough and moving rock, all while listening to screaming metal music. I never knew until Chuck came along that the simplest of requests could be met with such intense, emotion-driven responses. Well, I have been set straight and just to make myself feel better, I thought I would share some of the outrageous reasons Chuckles HASN’T chuckled this week.

1. Mickey Mouse Clubhouse “Minnie’s Bowtique” episode ended. For the third time in a row.

2. Her noodles were too hot.

3. And then I blew on them to cool them off.

4. The dog wouldn’t sit for her as she chased her around the house shouting “SIIIIIIT!”

5. I said her shoes were pretty.

6. She wanted to swim in the “cool,” not the “pool.”

7. Her friend had to take a nap. Not her, her friend.

8. The sun went to bed.

9. The grapes she had to have at the grocery store weren’t blueberries.

10. She wanted to take a shower with me. I said yes.

 

The blocks won't clean up themselves.

The blocks won’t clean up themselves.

 

I get that the whirlwind of feelings swirling around in this tiny little body MUST be so hard to figure out and let me tell you…I KNOW the value of a hug! But, sometimes you just need to hear from other mamas that your kid isn’t the only little psycho in the ward, ya know?! So, please do share. What’s your toddler ‘tuding about today?

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My Boobas!

Photo credit to Vickie Putnam Photography

“MY Boobas!” This has become the common declaration from Chuck regarding my utters ever since Baby N was born. Our buddies who live next door welcomed their sweet baby girl last month and C has been witness to many breastfeeding sessions since. This has made her keenly aware that she is not the only nursling who enjoys her mama milk. It has also brought up a wave of emotions and concerned inquiries regarding our own soon-to-be squishy in the house! When asked if she will share her “milkies” with the new baby, Chuckles thoughtfully replied, “Mmm, other one!” Meaning, we better find another boob for that kid because she isn’t sharing!

C is almost 2 1/2 and I never thought before I got pregnant with her that I would be an “extended breastfeeding” mother. I grew up in the south where the mentality is, “Once they are old enough to ask, they are too old.” It was seen as strange to continue nursing past 1 year of age and I just thought I would feel the same way. Fast-forward to actually having a kid who, with her history of gastrointestinal problems and failure to gain weight at different points in her short life, NEEDED me to be available to her, no matter if she could ask for it or not.

Chuck took to the boob minutes after birth and has never turned back. Thankfully, I was a milk-making machine, because I know that some aren’t so fortunate. But, we weren’t without our struggles. C had a minor lip tie that has all but resolved itself as she has gotten older, but as an infant it really HURT! Not to mention, I had a period of a couple months where, looking back, I’m pretty sure I had mastitis or something because every time I let down, it was like knives stabbing me in the chest. Every. Single. Time. Worse than both of these, though, was the deep sadness I felt during let down almost every time I would nurse C until she was almost 20 months old. It only lasted about 15-20 seconds, but it was so intense! After hearing another mama talking about this in my birth group, I learned I wasn’t alone. And it had a name! Dismorphic Milk Ejection Reflex (D-MER) is actually not so uncommon. Many women just don’t know to identify it. I understand, now, why people opt out of breastfeeding after the first few months. It’s like torture for some of us! But, I am cheap and stubborn and I am so, so glad for that. Because, after the uphill battle and the pain, we created this really amazing breastfeeding relationship. The milk was always there. It was always the right temperature and the comfort of mama’s arms never failed to be just what she needed. Now, the hurdles of nursing an active toddler were a little more comical and physically difficult to overcome! Ever try to feed someone while their feet are in your face, fingers are up your nose and they are trying to practice a double backflip? THAT is nursing a toddler!

Now that I am pregnant with number two, my milk has pretty much dried up. It’s so sad. But, we still do “milkies” at night (despite the OUCH that accompanies dry nursing!) right before bed because it is the one time of day my girl actually wants to sit and snuggle and SLOW down for the day. And honestly, it has become a time of reconnection for the two of us after our usual day of the back and forth struggles and corrections that come with parenting a two-year old. It’s the time I get to remind her, whether I have milk or not, that my arms are for snuggling her and the thing that has brought her comfort since day one, is still there.

I have been asked several times over the last few months when I think we will stop nursing and my response is always the same…whenever she is ready. I am in no hurry, but I am also ready when she is. W.H.O. (World Health Organization) says the average age of weaning worldwide is between 4-7. While I doubt we will still be going strong when she is in kindergarten, I don’t see any need to cut her off when it’s only beneficial to continue. I mean, why take away her source of anti-bodies and extra nutrition?  I’m hoping that once the baby is born, I will have the same awesome supply I did with C and I can build this same kind of nursing relationship with Bug. As far as logistics…the newborn gets first dibs and C gets the left overs. I doubt she will complain! Although, she might finally get a little chunky since that’s the good, fatty stuff! Now, we just have to work on this sharing thing!

This week is Worldwide Breastfeeding Week. What does your breastfeeding/human milk feeding journey look like? Whether you were able to produce for a day, a year or 3, you are doing good, mama! If you would like to participate in Worldwide Breatfeeding Week, check out http://worldbreastfeedingweek.org/pledges.shtml to find a pledge location near you! As for Chuck and me, we will be at EarthBaby Boutique on Thursday!

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Back from the Walking Dead- Tales from the Sleep Deprived

Every night is pretty much the same routine around here. It has been since we exited the fog of those newborn, sporadic sleep hours and entered into a more regimented pattern…somewhere around 6 months. Chuck gets a bath, a teeth brushing, a book, a boob and a good rock in the glider. I cherish this time because I know it’s limited. She’s almost two and half and I know my days of nursing her are nearing an end. It makes me sad, but it makes these moments even more cherished. But, I haven’t always found the joy in this…this routine. 

Chuck has never been a good sleeper. She has always woken many times through the night and except for short periods of growth spurts and intellectual developmental milestones keeping her up, it was usually just because she wanted a snuggle and some mama milk. I was happy to oblige. Usually. I swore I would never be a CIO parent…that’s “cry it out” for those of you just learning the lingo. To me, it was cruel and barbaric to expect this tiny human who relies on you for everything to just magically be able to understand that you aren’t coming when he cries (the only means he has to get your attention) because you believe he needs to learn to “self soothe.” It made me angry, truth be told. I wanted this baby more than anything and dang if I wasn’t going to be everything it needed me to be at all times. I didn’t believe the world should revolve around your child, but I did believe that a certain grace should be extended during the infant stage. Afterall, babies don’t have the mental capacity to tell themselves, “you’re only alone for 8 hours. In the dark. Hungry. With poop on your butt. Suck it up bra. You got this.” No. Babies need mamas and papas to reassure them and nurture them and snuggle them at 2:35 am if that’s what they are requesting. 

Enter zombie phase. 
I remember one particular morning when Chuck was about three months old. She hadn’t slept AT ALL the night before and I had been up with her. Bless Hfoe’s heart, he had to work that day and I am sure his eyelids were like lead on his drive to work. Anyway, I remember making breakfast with C in my baby Bjorn (before I knew the “dangers” of non-ergonomic carriers. For shame!) and she wouldn’t stop crying. She had colic and though she had been fed and changed and cuddled and rocked and worn and shhs’d….NOTHING WORKED! I literally felt like I was going to have a mental breakdown as I stood there looking down at this itsy face with a huge voice that was powerful enough to shake my core. I never once thought about shaking her, thank the LORD, but I did think about how much I wanted to run away. I loved her more than anything else on the planet. But love wasn’t enough. I couldn’t help her and there was no one to help me. She needed sleep. It was that simple. Babies need lots and lots of sleep and neither of us were getting ANY. So, I took a huge, gut busting breath and laid her in her crib, swaddled and full-bellied, whispered in her ear that I loved her and walked away. I closed the door on my poor, screaming baby and I cried the fattest tears of my life listening to her, by herself, for thirty minutes of agony. And it was agony. I don’t believe any mother who has ever let their child cry enjoyed a second of it. It physically hurt me. But then, it was quiet. And she slept. And slept. And slept for the longest nap she had taken to that point. I’d love to say I did too, but I was too busy watching the monitor for movement and listening to it on full volume to make sure I could distinguish her breaths. It was like she needed me to release her to herself, to her own devices to get to dreamland because what I was doing wasn’t working. When she woke, I was still exhausted, but she was like a different kid! My little baby actually seemed rested and it did my heart good.
This wasn’t the beginning of some turning point. In fact, we had at least another year of awful nights and horrible naps because I felt so guilty about the time I let her cry. I just couldn’t do it. I read book after book, tried method after method and nothing, NOTHING worked! I even had a benevolent friend who had paid a sleep consultant for help with her son and she relayed all the info she learned to me. Even the expert advice didn’t work on our non-sleeper. 
When Chuckles was about 22 months old, I hit a wall. Do you know what almost two years of minimal sleep does to a persons mental state? I would argue it rivals water torture. Seriously! Those of you who have experienced it can attest! So, around the 22 month mark I just couldn’t take it anymore. She was in a toddler bed (one of the many things suggested to us to help her sleep better) and she would just get up and cry under her door until we would go in to rock her. I wasn’t breast feeding her overnight anymore thinking that would curb the wake ups. It didn’t. In all my desperate glory, I told Hfoe, tonight was the night. Tonight, when she gets out of her bed, she gets one chance to go back and stay in her bed. If she gets up again, she sleeps in the pack and play and if she cries, she cries. And boy, DID she! It was not pretty. Of course she ended up in the pack and play and of course she screamed. And we laid there listening to it. The horror of it. Surely the neighbors would hear or some mom around the corner would pick it up on her monitor and call CPS to find the child abuser on the block. It was horrendous. And then…she slept. And the next night, she ended up in “the baby bed” again. Screamed, a little less this time. And slept. Night three she stayed in her bed and cried. And slept. By the end of the week the crying ceased, the wake ups ceased and she slept. We all SLEPT! 

Someday, I’m sure she will accuse me of being creepy because of all the sleeping pictures I have of her!

Don’t get me wrong, this has not been a fix-all, never-go-back kind of struggle. We repeat this routine every few months because the kiddo wants snuggles. I get it. I want snuggles too and if she COULD sleep in bed with us, she would have since day one. But she can’t. Because she doesn’t sleep well, between her constant tossing and talking in her sleep, something about being with mama and papa makes her restless. So, dispite my own desire to bed-share, it’s not what’s best for her. But, regardless of how many times we must repeat this THING, it works for us. She isn’t abused or mistreated or emotionally stunted or mentally insecure. In fact, if you ask anyone who knows her, she is probably one of the sassiest, most well-adjusted two year olds you may ever have the pleasure of meeting! 

I guess my take-away from this as I sit here rocking and cuddling my silently nursing, snoozing kiddo is that, Mom, you need to do what your gut is telling you to do. I still feel guilty about and wouldn’t recommend letting your newborn cry it out, but if you need to let your toddler cry, they will survive. If you want to bed-share, do it. If your mama instinct says to get up every time your baby cries, for crying out loud, do that!! I did! Only you and your husband can be the judge of what is healthy for your family. But I warn you, you need sleep, too, you are absolutely not being the best you can be for her if you are a zombie. I know. I have been the walking dead and I am finally back from the grave. It’s pretty wonderful. 
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