Fostering A Love for Reading

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Hi friends,

Lately Declan’s had me feeling all inspired (what’s new?) and he’s been really into books lately. I have only been capitalizing on this time because I know, like most 7 month olds, this too shall pass. Oh, but I’m hoping it doesn’t!

I’ve been reading to Declan since…before he was born. The life of a teacher, right? Even when he was days old we read books. As we developed our daily routine and schedule reading has always been a part of our day. There are so many ways to incorporate reading into your days with an infant. Right now we read a book as a “wind down” before naptime.  Declan knows when we sit in our chair to read that it is time to settle down for a nap.  When we go to restaurants or somewhere where Declan needs to be occupied, we bring books (and some toys that light up too). We read books in the bath and now he’s choosing to play with them over his toys. Declan is coordinating how to turn pages and now we’re starting to talk about pictures as he’s able to sustain his attention and focus for longer periods of time. I’ve got a little book worm on my hands! And gosh, I’m so in love.

So last week Declan and I arrived (almost late) to our reading class at the local library and to my surprise it was cancelled for the reset of the month. OMG. Nobody told me this, but I probably should have paid closer attention to the one out of fifty flyers on the door stating that it was cancelled… ANYWAYS, we made the most out of our trip to the library and Declan got a library card! Along with his library card he is also a part of a program called “A Thousand Books Before Kindergarten” which is a glorified title for his “Reading Log.” But I enjoy filling it out and I’m excited to give it to him when he’s older.

Reading truly does so much for children and it’s crazy how something so simple can affect a person so much.  I wanted to share some statistics that I usually send home to parents in my classroom and also some of Declan’s Favorite books with you guys! Reading is so important and the more we expose our children to books the better their background knowledge, vocabulary and lexicons, imagination, expression, phonics, word recognition, EVERYTHING! Ironically, Declan’s gym posted recently on a similar topic and I just loved this article and thought it was fitting. The Bump: Kids Who Are Read To Before Kindergarten Know 1 Million More Words Than Peers. 

Some numbers that stood out to me from this article!

  • Never read to: 4,662 words
  • Read to 1 to 2 times a week: 63,570 words
  • Read to 3 to 5 times a week: 169,520 words
  • Read to daily: 296,660 words
  • Read 5 books a day: 1,483,300 words

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Declan is still entertained with touch and feel books and I try to keep the books pretty general for his age. So, anything with the ABC’s or counting is good. Babies exposed to these concepts by repetition will be successful when it is time to learn these skills in school. Linked below are our favorite books right now.

Never Touch A Dinosaur

Never Touch A Shark

Never Touch A Dragon

Never Touch A Monster

Touch and Feel Baby Animals

Little Book About ABCs

Good Morning, Goodnight! 

Peek a Who? 

Baby Fish 

Ten Little Night Stars

Bath Books (They’re waterproof, you can also purchase these at Wal-Mart) 

 

What are you reading with your little one? I would love new recommendations!

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Easter “Basket” Fun

Trinket Ideas for Infants 0-1 Years

Happy Easter Friends! I hope you all are able to enjoy time today with your loved ones and celebrating our Awesome Jesus and the life he’s given us. Today I wanted to share a quick tid bit on what I put in Declan’s Easter TRUCK. Holidays and themes are my favorite, but this year especially because it’s a year of firsts for Declan. Well, I’ll hop to it! Here a few things we threw in Declan’s basket and could be purposeful for any baby 0-1 years old!

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Start with your base, the actual basket:  Baskets don’t always have to be traditional!  Get creative with it! Trucks, play purses, or a beach bucket are always a neat spin to throw on a basket and also reusable!  I used a dump truck that I received from a dear friend at Declan’s Baby Shower.

Books- This year we celebrated Declan’s ½ birthday and our friends and family stocked him up on good Easter themed books. Touch and Feel books are Declan’s favorite right now being as he is starting to develop his pincher reflex. I’m all about new textures!

Pacifiers- you can never have too many! Plus Declan just hit 6 months so we had to restock on all pacifier sizes and nipples.  (Side note: If I were to go back and register for items at my baby shower, I would register for the first year of sizes for pacies and nipples)

Carrot Teether– I got this cute carrot teether off Amazon! What baby doesn’t need this??  It’s simple, affordable, and fit the theme perfectly.

50 first word picture cards– for babies 0+ and up! I love these because they have real photographs with colorful words and on the back there are antonyms.

Plastic Eggs- Mostly for decoration, but I filled 4 with rice and sunflower seeds to make egg shakers! We also used them for another activity we did with Declan on Easter Morning.

Stuffed Bunny- What Easter basket isn’t complete without a cute plush toy? My cousin got this for Declan before he was born. We play with it all the time so I tossed it in for fun!

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Okay, now for the real fun! Declan just started scooting around last week and guys he’s picking up his speed!! We got some balloons and tied them to the egg. Declan thought this was so fun and it’s also a perfect cause and effect activity. Declan would scoot to the balloon and then tug on the string watching the balloon go up and down. The great thing about this is that it doesn’t just have to be an Easter activity. IT’s a cheap way to entertain your little one and get them moving!

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What did you all put in your little ones Easter Basket?? I’m curious!

How We Survived Teething

Tips and Tricks to help your little one cut those teefers!

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It’s official Declan Bear has two front teeth and as much as I thought I would miss his gummy smiles I adore his little pearly whites.  I suspected Declan’s teeth were about to break through about two weeks before they actually did and I didn’t realize it for certain until he chewed on my fingers one day (a couple weeks shy of 6 months). I pried his mouth open and saw two white ridges peeking through. Declan had a few symptoms before teething that made me think we were about to hit a new milestone:

  1. Chewing on his pacie and fingers
  2. As odd as this sounds (and to some it may seem crazy) but I noticed his saliva became thicker
  3. All of a sudden sleep training was just not happening for us, we hit a huge regression wall (infants sleep less at night when their teething because they’re not distracted by things to chew on to numb their gummies) which was really tough because he would wake up crying and just inconsolable
  4. Eating less, the bottle was more of just a chew toy

Declan did NOT have any physical signs. His gums weren’t swollen and I couldn’t see any teeth prior to me feeling them. We really got double whammied here when these bad boys broke through, which took about a week to get him settled.  Man, did the sleepless nights make sense after this. I wanted to share some of the teething hacks we used to make Declan as comfortable as we could during this process with hopes that some can help your little too! Also, it’s never too early to let infants play with teethers and such, anything to help the gums thin around 4-5 months is always beneficial to the process!

We only used Tylenol once with these lovely hacks!

  1. Sophie the giraffe WENT everywhere with us, she’s such a champ. We got two one for the car and one for in-house play. Yes, that $20 giraffe in the baby aisle is worth every. Single. Penny.
  2. Chewbeads necklace this was perfect and adorable for momma to wear, easy for baby to get to and munch on with supervision!
  3. Chewbeads rattle
  4. Chewbeads ring
  5. Simple as it sounds- a frozen baby washcloth for him to suck/chew on
  6. I diffused lavender essential oils in his room for an hour or so at an initial bedtime routine
  7. Nuby teething ring. He’s obsessed with this thing and it also has hygienic bristles. I love this because you can put in the fridge and it also is enjoyable at room tempature. Great snag on this one Mimi bear!
  8. Frozen peas! That’s right, a dear friend and one of the mommas I always turn to for advice, recommended getting a munchkin mesh food feeder and putting frozen peas in it. Declan loved this and it entertained him for a while!

I’m sharing these tips for many reasons, but mostly because teething is tough and it’s important to keep your little one comfortable.  Trying a new and a variety of comfort tips is important to find what works best! The sleepless nights may call for extra cuddles and when they don’t want to be put down just squeeze ‘em a little tighter and remember this too, shall pass.

 

How To Stay Productive As a Stay At Home Mom

I’ve mentioned before that I never planned on staying home with Declan for an extended amount of time. Eric’s job offer came right at the time of Declan’s due date and things changed for us incredibly fast. I’ve been in a rut several times where being at home made me nuts. When Declan was a wee baby I slept a lot and did dishes and that made me crazy, I felt unhealthy and unproductive. I felt like I wasn’t contributing to anything (except raising a child, lol)  Now that he’s older and more mobile being home has been a whole new ball game. I do plan on going back to work in the fall, but until then I wanted to share for those in the same boat, that it is possible to be productive at home!

I would say I’m a very “busy” person and I thrive off crossing things off my to-do list.  For some people, list making is not helpful and doesn’t make them feel productive, rather overwhelmed. I make list and I make lists to make lists. And if you’re not a list maker, that’s totally fine because I’m going to share a few ideas that everyone can use to stay productive while staying at home!

  1. The first thing you must do every day is this: MAKE YOUR BED. I learned this from my husband. This way if you don’t accomplish anything during the day, at least you made your bed. On the other hand, if you had an insane busy day there’s really no  better feeling than crashing into a beautifully made, comfortable bed.
  2. Get ready for the day. Even if you plan to be home all day with a little one, you’re going to feel better about yourself and motivated if you’re ready for whatever the day entails. Take time to do your make up, play with your hair, and dress up. When you look good you feel good, you perform better.
  3. Take time for yourself. Believe it or not being home all day results in a really messy house. I always feel like I have a limited time to do a million things while Declan is napping which ultimately makes me feel more overwhelmed.  I always take his first nap to drink my coffee and just be still. I mentally prepare for the day (sometimes I make lists, hehe, but I’m working on just existing).
  4. Know your time windows. This will come with routine, but knowing how long your baby will be awake and how long they will sleep is really helpful for errand opportunities.  For example, I know that Declan will be awake for 2-2.5 hours before taking an 45- 60 minute nap (he’s not the best napper, I’ve relinquished control of this.)

Knowing your time windows is key! Here’s how I utilize Declan’s nap time to stay productive while being at home with him.

7:00- Wakey, Wakey, Eggs, Bakey. Eric gets up and ready before Declan and I. By the time me and my snuggle bug are up Eric has breakfast made and spends time with Declan while I get ready for the day and make our bed.

9:30- ME TIME. Coffee. Sip. Repeat. I organize my brain, I make a list (grocery or to do), or reflect.

Noonish- Daily Errands. I’ll toss a load of laundry in and fold some before we head out. This could also be a grocery trip or Declan’s gymnastic class, possibly the library. It depends on the day and what needs to be done.

4:30-5:00ish- I’ll straighten up the house, prep or start dinner.

8:00- Declan hits the hay and Eric and I will eat dinner and catch up on our days.

Okay ladies, how do you stay productive while staying at home with your little one? What does your routine look like?

Declan’s Birth Story

On October 11, 2018 we had a routine weekly appointment with our OBGYN. Everything looked good, but I had been sitting at 1 cm dilated for 3 weeks now. She spoke of induction and wanted to start it on Saturday. Eric and I were quiet (as most of our big decisions initially start). An induction was not what I wanted AT ALL.  We wanted Declan to come when he was ready, when my body was ready. For 7 months we struggled with preterm labor indicators, bake baby bake. However, with the gestational diabetes our Dr. worried that he would become too big to deliver naturally. We reluctantly agreed to schedule for Saturday, October 13, 2018 at 8:30.

Induction Day: We arrived at the hospital and Eric was SO excited. I was terrified. He was skipping through hospital doors and all I could think about was “are we forgetting anything?” (we were, and it was our toothbrushes). I was worried, we could be here for a night, we could be here for a week. This babe is not ready. We got there and in our room and our first nurse got me all set up with IV and monitors.  My blood pressure sky rocketed for about an hour. She wanted to run tests for preeclampsia and I passed out. IT was going to be one hell of a weekend. I wasn’t even in labor yet… Long story short, I didn’t have preeclampsia I was just really nervous.  We went ahead and started the induction. They placed Cervadil and things were rolling.  FYI this was THE worst part of being induced. It was uncomfortable and it took 12 hours to do its job…only it didn’t do its job.

Sunday Induction Continues: My mom and dad came to bring us coffee and banana bread from Starbucks (I was dunzo with that gestational diabetes diet FOR REAL, Dad always pulls through with Starbucks too). I was having contractions, but they were irregular and not really that painful.  Things were still not progressing.  My dr wanted to do ANOTHER round of cervadil. wtf. NO WAY. DENY DENY DENY. Pass the pitocin people. My dr was on night shift and really wanted to deliver Declan if she could. Once she left for the day the day shift dr was like..”Why are we not in labor yet?” So he started that drip and our Sunday was kick started. They administered Pitocin and some fluids. Declan wasn’t moving too much on the monitor which worried the nurses. I had to lay certain ways to get him to wiggle around. Once the piton started I couldn’t eat anything and I was SO hungry.  I went an entire day with only banana bread!   The contractions started getting more intense and I became more dependent on Eric.  Before we went into the hospital I wrote down my favorite days of scripture from Jesus Calling and we read those…and also told knock knock jokes.  I was dilated to a 4 but I knew I could keep going without the epidural so I denied it. Eric was able to tell me when I was about to hit a contraction which helped get me through them. Once you get your epidural you’re pretty much limited to your bed. No walking, bouncing, moving.  I opted for a pain medication to “take the edge off”. Let me tell you, I don’t know what this medicine was called because it made me so dopey that all I could fantasize about was how wonderful it was about to be that Declan was going to be born in the season of pumpkins and scarecrows! I felt like I tripping on drugs (I’ve never tripped on drugs before FYI, but if I could imagine it, this was it). This lasted about 2 hours and I told the nurse I thought I had peed myself, but it could be because of this drug in my IV. Lone and behold, my water had broken and it was go time.  The day shift Dr came in and check the cervix and we were at 6.  I’m not even sure what time it was at this point (drugs). Soon after this I asked for the epidural. Everyone made epidurals seem so scary, you guys this was cake. Don’t stress over the pain of an epidural.  I laughed and joked with the dr about pumpkins and scarecrows as my contractions started becoming more regular.

I started to feel this insane pressure to push. The nurses brought in a yoga ball and I took a little nap being as I still had a way to go.  Our nurse came in and did a little check and Declan’s head was crowning.  We did a couple practice pushes but had to stop because he was so close and the Dr was SLAMMED. I think everyone and their moms were having babies at this moment.  My contractions were close and I had about 15 minutes between them, so I was able to rest a good bit. Declan was out in two really good pushes. My mom came in to braid my hair in pig tails earlier in the day, I literally felt like a boxing queen champion. Declan was here and weighed 7lbs and 3 oz. The minutes that followed insisted of intense shaking from my adrenaline. Mind you I also hadn’t eaten since that morning. Luckily, my brother was literally feeding me gatorade and chocolate, I was zonked.  Eric was tending to baby and things started to get a little gloomy.

Declan was born at 10:55 PM his scores were perfect, but his sugars were low.  They gave him some sugar paste and were supposed to come back and check his blood in an hour hoping things would have normalized. Things were really blurry for me here so I’ll just jump to it… the nurses were slammed and Declan’s sugars were at 18. They’re supposed to be between 50-60 for a newborn.  This was not good, Declan was unresponsive to touch, he wouldn’t eat and I literally thought he was dying. The nurse hadn’t been to check his sugar in over 2 hours. Eric’s daddy instincts kicked in and we got a nurse STAT. Declan was rushed to the NICU where Eric went with him. I think it was about 3:00AM and none of us had slept. How could we? I had to stay behind because my epidural numbness hadn’t worn off yet in one of my legs. I literally was face timing Eric from the NICU where as you can imagine Eric was scared, alone, and had a newborn hooked up to monitors and wires.  I really tried not to call my mom, but it was 5:00 AM and I still couldn’t get out of my bed and Eric was taking care of our baby. Oh and also the nurses were still busy, nobody had checked on me. I broke down and she of course was there in a jiffy. Between her getting to the hospital and me being numb and needing to get to my baby, I went a little crazy on a random passer-byer nurse whom I made my new nurse. I don’t know what her name was, but she was in fact, an angel! I frantically explained to her what was going on and that I needed to get to my child.  She got me a bed and we rolled to the NICU and we passed mom on the way out. I didn’t have socks on, I was wearing that gosh awful gown, and I was white as a sheep..I was a hot mess. I had this terrible back pain too from the epidural or maybe it was from pushing? IDK but it hurt.

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Sugar Baby: Our visit in the NICU was about 3 days. You see, I had gestational diabetes and while I managed this with my diet, Declan’s pancreas wasn’t regulating sugars efficiently on his own. He was hooked up to a sugar water IV and everyone in the NICU called him The Sugar Baby. When I saw Declan hooked up to IVs I was wrecked. It was the absolute worst. Declan’s blood sugars continued to be checked every hour. Each hour his sugars were rising and my baby was becoming more and more responsive to life.  In between these hours one of the nurses blew a vein in my child’s head and that was in fact traumatizing. I went coo-coo on her too and basically told all the doctors that she needed to not be a nurse.

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You guys, I don’t remember the rest of our visit, it was such a blur. His sugars were rising, but we did have to leave him in the hospital alone one night. I was making trips up to the NICU to breast feed him every 3 hours but I was exhausted, so I pumped colostrum for him.

When we got the clear to go home, it was in fact a much anticipated moment.  Declan is amazing, he’s strong and forever our Sugar Baby.  My heart feels for all the babies that are in the NICU. Our situation was scary, but could have been so much worse. He was a full term baby, the biggest one in the NICU and he was healthy. I’m grateful every day for the NICU nurses, Occupational Therapists, Lactation Consultants, and Doctors (except for the blown vein nurse, that was terrifying) who worked around the clock on my baby and all the babies in the NICU, they’re the real MVPs.

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Baby Registry Must Haves

First time mom? You need these things and I’ll tell you why…

  1. Fisher Price Rock and Play  This little thing here is what Eric and I call “The Taco” because it literally looks like a taco. It made taking a shower possible with a new born. I plop him in it and carry him wherever I am in the house, especially in the first few weeks.  It’s snuggly and he slept soundly in it. He’s currently 3 months and he still is super content in his taco.
  2. Dohm Sound Machine  This was super helpful with creating a bedtime routine and also allowed us to do dishes without worrying that the clanking would wake Declan. He’s 3 months now and when it’s bedtime and the sound machine goes on, he’s out like a light.
  3. A Play Gym because tummy time starts week 1! I would suggest registering for two. I registered for one, which he loved but around 2.5-3 months we needed an upgrade. Luckily Declan’s 2.5-3 month mark fell around Christmas time so Santa (Grandma) was really good to him. This is his current favorite, Bright Starts and I adore it because of its versatility in music, functionality.
  4. Halo Bassinet was perfect for us. Our bed has some height to it and the Halo has an adjustable leg which was perfect.
  5. Diaper Genie was something I wasn’t going to originally get. I remember having one with my baby brother and I hated the darn thing…maybe because I was 7 years old trying to change a diaper and I could only handle so much. I truly couldn’t live without it now. We have the simplest one, its a trash can for diapers…no need to get fancy. You’ll need to register for these refills as well. Which reminds me…you will want some baggies for dirty diapers in your diaper bag.
  6. If for any reason you can’t breastfeed, a good pump is worth the money.  Check with your insurance first! We got ours covered. I got the Medela Sonata and it was really easy to use. You’ll need one of these because you will become VERY good at multitasking, a handsfree pumping bra.
  7. A Wipe Warmer because newborn diaper changes with a little boy can get messy and at 2 am anything to prevent this is helpful. He would also cry every. single. time. Eric and I would “nose goes” on the diaper changes because of the screaming. We hated being the bad guy. Not even a week home and we got this warmer which was life changing. Screams turned into smiles and the water fountain was out of commission. I’ve had zero problems with this and it’s super easy to use and set up.
  8. Black and white contrast books for tummy time play and entertainment in general. Babies don’t have the best vision. They can’t see in color quite yet, but they can see black and white images pretty well. Give them something that isn’t blurry! Here are few products I ended up purchasing that I didn’t have on my registry but use every day.
    1. Look Look 
    2. Hello Baby Animals 
    3. Black and White Images with Color Images   Declan will stare at these all day. It props up too, so its perfect for tummy time and also has a mirror.
  9. Some night lights I purchased after we brought the baby home were super helpful. It’s 3am and you’re exhausted, a little delirious and baby is fussing. Register for night lights so you’re not blinding yourself or waking the baby up with lights. I got these push lights and some regular plug in night lights. I put the push lights everywhere I would need to go during an early morning feeding. From the kitchen, to the changing table, your night table, and the bathroom.
  10. If you plan to formula feed, get a formula dispenser. Once I switched to formula feeding this little gadget made life on the go a whole lot better! It comes in different sizes and comes in a two pack. The actual dispenser itself has a funnel on the top which its a lot easier than make two bottles to mix when you need them and spilling formula all over your car floor board.

Breast is Best

But is it Breast For Everyone?

Fact is Fact, breastmilk is your baby’s perfect formula. Let me be real for two seconds there’s no better feeling than going to your baby’s one month wellness visit and seeing that scale go up, success! I did that! Breastfeeding is a whole whirl of emotions. On top of taking care of that precious newborn, postpartum healing (that deserves it’s own post), you have your boobs. Declan was a great baby when it came to breast feeding, latching wasn’t an issue at all. I so badly wanted to breastfeed him for a multitude of reasons, all which every new mom knows. But I also knew NOTHING about it.  The terms “let down”, “fore milk” and “hind milk”, weren’t in my lexicon.  It is a true science and it’s different for every.single.person.

Declan was in the NICU for 3 nights, 2 days. Because of this the nurses and doctors had me pumping immediately to get my colostrum to him…in a different room…in a separate wing of the hospital.  Convenient, right?

If I had known anything about breastfeeding 3 months ago, I would have protested to the nurses. You’re typically not supposed to pump until your milk supply is established which usually happens between 6-12 weeks.  So I left the hospital without Declan, but was bringing him my pumped milk which was painful and I felt like I was doomed from the start to ever successfully breastfeed.  I was over producing milk from the get go. I wasn’t able to relax the milk production because I was also trying to feed my newbie, who loved to eat.

Long story short, I struggled with supply and demand, to pump or not to pump, pump for comfort and this and that. I STRUGGLED.  There came a point where I was so torn between continuing this battle between my new mom guilt “keep breastfeeding, Declan needs you” and “Holy cow, this baby needs to wake up to relieve my boobs” or my fear of leaving the house because I wasn’t comfortable with breastfeeding in public. Every day was an emotional conversation about my boobs and how engorged they were. Friends I confided in would say “it gets better” so I waited it out. While I waited out these 12 weeks I read Baby Wise and also The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding. These are two very amazing resource books and I learned a lot! I would highly recommend reading these BEFORE your welcome your sweet bundle into the world. The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding is definitely more biased to breastfeeding, but is so informative in the best way possible. While Baby Wise was more unbiased and made me feel like it was okay to not breastfeed Declan.

I was making so. much. milk. For a small chested person this was in fact terrifying. I was consumed and felt like I was missing so much of the enjoyment of being a new mom because I was so uncomfortable all the time.  So I contemplated for weeks and weeks on end to wean my happy baby off breastfeeding or to wean myself…I felt selfish.

I so badly wanted someone to tell me “Brittani it’s okay to formula feed your baby.” But guess what…it’s mom code to not tell another mom what to do. I felt so guilty and I hated the fact of taking his happiness away.  I finally did it, do I miss it? Absolutely, but guess what? I got Declan to 13 lbs and 9 weeks of health and that’s better than nothing. He’s happy. I’m happy and that’s what’s important.

Be confident in your decisions for yourself and your child.  Formula feeding your baby isn’t a crime and I know for a fact I have been a more functional Mama.