Saturday, January 30, 2016

The One Thing That Will Save Your Sanity As A Stay At Home Mom


Becoming a stay at home mom, especially if you previously worked full time outside of the home, is full of challenges. It has many rewards but they do not negate the fact that this gig is HARD. So much harder than I ever thought it would be. Sometimes I feel guilty because I know there are mamas out there who have to work and would LOVE to be able to stay at home with their littles. The reality is I don't think there is an easy way to mother. Whether you  are a SAHM, WAHM, or a full time work outside of the home mom it is HARD. So wonderful but also incredibly exhausting.

Going from a full time job to full time caregiver of a newborn was surreal. I think at first it didn't feel real and I would go back to work and everything would go back to normal. After the denial wore off the anxiety set in. This tiny person depended on me for EVERYTHING. He never slept for more than two hours at a time, my boobs were sore and chapped, my house was a disaster, everything I owned smelled like spit up, and I hadn't seen sunlight in days. I felt like I was drowning. I felt like I was failing. The beautiful fantasy I had envisioned was evaporating before my eyes and the weight of my failure was soul crushing. I didn't deserve this perfect sweet baby who smelled like heaven. Maybe I had infertility because I wasn't good enough to be a mother and now I was facing what I deserved for defying nature. Why were so many other women capable of having these pristine homes, content babies, and never smelled like vomit or forgot to shower?

Clearly I was suffering from Post-partum Anxiety and Depression and I did seek help from my doctor but something else saved me as well.

I found my mama tribe.

This above all else brought me the support I needed. I realized that so much of what I was feeling was normal. That other babies had bad days (and nights) and it didn't mean I was a bad mother. That other people with infants fell behind on housework and sometimes forgot to shower. That sometimes babies cry and there is NOTHING you can do to fix it. That breastfeeding is HARD for lots of people.

I found women I could talk to about the bad days who wouldn't judge me. A reason to take my baby out of the house to the park every week for our play dates. I found hope and joy in mothering sitting on a blanket under a canopy of trees and playground equipment. Little by little I stopped feeling like I was drowning and began to tread water until one day I realized I was swimming.

These women and their sweet babies became my sounding board, my confidants, and sage advice givers. In the midst of it all I lost my mom to cancer and they were there to answer the hard questions about mothering I so wished I could ask my mom. I found people who struggled with the same struggles and learned to be a better mother watching women with the patience of Job gently counsel toddlers who needed direction. They held my hand while I learned to be a mom and picked me up when I stumbled and fell short.

In short, they saved me.

Some days I feel panicked thinking about the tiny miracle growing inside of me and having to face the newborn stage again- this time with a toddler. My mind goes to a dark place and I worry I will feel the all too familiar sensation of drowning. But then I remember I have my tribe. I will not be alone. And on days when the nights were far too long and the sleep far to short and my patience far too thin and my laundry far too high they will throw me a lifeline. I won't drown. My tribe will be there to pick me up and remind me that this, too, shall pass.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Sensory Play at the Beach



I've been wanting to write this blog post since this summer but life has gotten in the way and I'm just now sitting down to do it. I was shocked as I watched Baby D playing at the beach this past summer that I had never considered the beach itself as a sensory experience. He had so much fun exploring and kept us on our toes! Here are a few ways you can create fun sensory experiences for your little one on your next beach trip.

  1. Collect seashells. Let your little one feel the different textures (smooth, rough, etc) and compare sizes, shapes, and colors
  2. Play in the sand. Build sand castles (and allow them to demolish them!) Experiment with wet and dry sand. Teach them to build drip castles. Use a sifter and watch the smaller pieces sift out and the larger pieces remain.
  3. Splash! We bring a kiddie pool so Baby D can splash in and out of it without fear of getting knocked over by a wave. He enjoys the independence of getting in and out of the pool on his own.
  4. Play in tidal pools. Tidal pools are an incredible sensory experience! Look at the fish and other sea life that call the pool their home. Feel the water temperature change when a wave comes bringing in a splash of cooler water. Allow your toddler to run and splash in the pool.
  5. Catch (and release!) minnows. Our friend's teenage daughter caught some shiners in a casting net and put them in a bucket for Baby D. He delighted in watching the fish and trying to pet one. We then let him do the honors of releasing them back to the sea.
  6. Swim! He held onto Baby D and let him swim with us. He loved it!
  7. Go on a walk and explore! D loved walking on the beach and exploring the new environment. We let him feel the seaweed, chase seagulls, and find "treasures."
I have always loved the beach but watching D learn to love it made my heart swell bigger than the waves! It's incredible how much learning occurred on what was meant to be a recreational trip.

Safety Tips:
  • Never leave your child unattended near any water, especially at the beach!
  • Use sunscreen and protective clothing
  • If your child is still putting things in his/her mouth be mindful of choking hazards like small shells

Monday, November 9, 2015

Review: Greta the Fox Infant and Toddler Swing




As I've mentioned before I love wood toys for babies and toddlers. Many of the swings on the market are made of hard plastic so I was pretty excited to review the Greta the Fox Infant and Toddler Swing.


The swing is eco-friendly and varnished and colored only with non toxic paints which is important to me since Baby D chews on EVERYTHING! The swing is appropriate for children aged from 6 months until 3 years and can hold up to 37 lbs. I think you need to make sure baby has good torso control though because little ones have too much wiggle room if they don't. It can be used outdoor or indoor, hanged on tree branch, porch or ceiling - we hung ours from the jungle gym.

My one caveat is that the instructions are really hard to follow but it looks like they are responding to customer feedback and making a video to show how to install it which will be really nice.

Overall, it's a really nice eco-friendly swing at the same price point as the plastic competitors. I would definitely recommend it.  Check it out on Amazon.







Saturday, November 7, 2015

How to Build a Lego Table from an Ikea Lack Table


lego table ikea hack

I am not a handy person. I have no real craftsman skills in spite of my sincere desire to do-it-myself. Because of this I am ridiculously proud of the Lego Table I built for Baby D.  I know screwing the legs on a Lack table doesn't exactly make me a carpenter but it felt like a coup just the same. I love this table because not only does it look nice and match my furniture but I also designed it to store his bricks since we are short on storage space.

Supplies:

Steps:
  1. Screw legs onto Lack Table
  2. Trace Lego base plates where you want them with a pencil
  3. Apply Gorilla Glue to back of Lego base plates- be careful to avoid the very edge since the glue will expand. I gave myself about a quarter of an inch of leeway 
  4. Carefully place base plates in the outline you drew and hold for 30 seconds. Add something heavy like canned veggies to hold plates down while the glue dries
  5. Place Gorilla Glue on Trofast rails and hold in place on the underside of the table for 30 seconds.
  6. Let glue dry over night and enjoy your new table with Lego storage!
Voila! You have a Lego Table that stores your bricks and looks a heck of a lot nicer in your living room than a primary colored plastic one (for a lot cheaper!) Right now Baby D loves to climb on top of it and destroy the Duplo buildings I build like he is King Kong. I look forward to him actually *building* on it someday soon!

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Review: Mamaway Ring Sling



I am a  babywearing junkie. I have two Tulas, a K'tan, and had an Ergo. I haven't had the opportunity to try out a ring sling so Mamaway gave me the opportunity to try it out I jumped on it!

 
I really liked the Pima cotton material. I think it was the first thing I noticed. Florida summers are brutal so baby D sweats pretty bad. The Mamaway sling kept him as cool as possible given the heat.

I liked the ability to keep him I my hip since my Tula doesn't allow for hip carries. Clearly he liked it, too.




The ring sling is also great for breast feeding on the go which is nice. I also like that it has it's own built in storage pocket. It fits really well in my diaper bag for when I need a carrier in a pinch. The price is also nice- much cheaper than a woven wrap ring sling but just as functional.

I definitely recommend checking out the Mamaway Ring Sling Baby Carrier on Amazon!


Saturday, July 18, 2015

Review: Estilo Ceiling Fan Duster


I was sent the Estilo Ceiling Fan Duster to review and it came at just the right time for us. Summers in Florida mean LOTS of dust and I am seriously losing the battle. We usually just use our vacuum hose to clean the fan blades but I found out the hard way that it doesn't get the dust off of the top of the blades when I got a face full of dust. Gross.

The Estilo Ceiling Fan Duster was easy to assemble. The pole pieces screwed together. It was also very easy to use. Because of the extension pole I didn't have to climb onto a chair to reach since the handle is extendable from 27 to 47 inches. The fluffy head has a hole in the middle so it cleans the entire fan blade including the top. I found it to be grab the dust well and didn't get as much on the carpet as I usually do. The brush fits ceiling fan blades up to 6 inches wide.


The only negative was that the head was a little tough to clean. It has to be hand washed and the same features that make it grab the dust from the fan blades so well also makes it tricky to get the dust OUT of it. I found that soaking it in the sink helped.



Overall, I would recommend the Estilo Ceiling Fan Duster, especially if you live in a very dusty locale like we do. You can purchase it on Amazon: Estilo Microfiber Ceiling and Fan Duster










Monday, June 29, 2015

Review: Pandaroo Charcoal Bamboo Inserts and Wetbag






I'm taking a break from my Baby's First Year series to catch up on reviews. I've been meaning to write post about our cloth diapering experience so far but just haven't gotten around to it. I was therefore pretty excited for the opportunity to try out Pandaroo's inserts . It gave me the push I needed to write about cloth diapering with the added bonus of FINALLY seeing what the charcoal bamboo hype was all about.



I love cloth diapering; along with breastfeeding it's probably the best money saving decision we've made as parents. It's also green and earth friendly. We are mostly a prefold and covers family but also have a few pockets, fitteds, hybrids and all in ones, too.

Out of the package the first thing I noticed about the Pandaroo inserts was how incredibly soft they are. This made me a little apprehensive because I was burned by the Kissluvs fleece fitteds that got rough after washing. I was pleasantly surprised that they have remained soft after washing and use.


The inserts are charcoal bamboo fleece on the outside and 3 layers of microfiber on the inside. The fleece gives a stay dry feeling and is safe against baby's skin unlike microfiber. They are gusseted which is a nice feature when not stuffing inside a pocket because it forms to baby better. They also haven't held on to any stink which is great.

I tried them out in a variety of capacities. We added them to all in ones for extra absorption which worked out well. I tried them out in our Bumgenius 4.0 pocket instead of the BG inserts and they worked great for daytime. Overnight it wasn't enough absorption on its own for us which I suspected would be the case. I tried them out in the daytime layed inside of our Thirsties Duo Wraps and liked them that way as well- we normally don't do this so it was a nice change but not something I would do regularly because Baby D still has peanut butter #2 and it's messy.

My favorite way to use the insert has been overnight as a double inside a snappied prefold. It's been bulletproof for us! Before I was using a Thirsties Hemp doubler inside a GMD prefold overnight but it was getting very difficult to snappy shut because D is so squirmy. The gussets really help keep the Pandaroo insert in place.

We took the wetbag to the beach and it was adequate. It's only a layer of PUL instead of fabric with a PUL liner which I prefer but it didn't leak and was a nice bonus with the inserts.

Overall I would give the inserts 5/5 stars and the wetbag 4/5. I loved the inserts and will continue to use them as our primary overnight solution with a prefold.  You can purchase them on Amazon at Pandaroos Charcoal Bamboo 5-Layer Cloth Diaper Insert Liners with Gusseted Legs (Set of 6) and Printed Diaper Wet Bag