Spring Break…Finally!

Andrew took the first part of national {chiropractic} boards last weekend, and finished with his final exams for the quarter on Wednesday. I am so happy to say goodbye to this quarter, and especially to this week. It has been stressful and chaotic.

I don’t do chaos, at least not well.

Things have been chaotic here on the home front as well. Three babies, lots of teething, lots of runny noses, lots of dirty diapers and sticky fingers.

I am so excited for a break. So excited for a week with just Bonnie and Andrew. I love the other babies, but I really love quality time alone with my sweet girl. And my husband too, of course!

We took advantage of Andrew’s first day of spring break by going to the local zoo. My sister gave us a family pass as a gift, and we’ve been itching to use it. Yesterday was the perfect day for it. We were eating up the nice weather, and I think the animals were too. They were all so lively! And we were within arm’s reach of many of them: pandas, lions, giraffes, rhinos, elephants… Were in not for the partition, we could have reached out and hugged these guys. They were all feeling friendly today!

Strangely, Bonnie’s favorite animals seemed to be the warthogs, the rhino, and this scary looking, huge bird. She was nose to beak with the ugly bird, and just soaking it all in. She still is not feeling 100%, but I really think she enjoyed getting out of the house. It’s so nice to have fresh air and a change of scenery after being cooped up in the house most of the week!

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We are spending most of next week in Nashville, and I won’t be spending any time online, so things will be quiet on the blog for a little while!

Bonnie is already nine months old. Andrew is two-thirds of the way done with chiropractic school, and life is just flying by so quickly. Andrew has been incredibly busy with school, and it will be so nice to have an entire week with him, and for him to have an entire week with Bonnie and me!

 

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What’s in Bonnie’s Belly {Baby-led Weaning at 9 Months Old}

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We are only one week into the ninth month of Bonnie’s life, but so far, this month has been the toughest, most frustrating one yet (for her and for me!) Teething, a virus she somehow picked up, not being able to crawl when she really, really wants to, and not being able to walk when she really, really wants to. She’s gone from being happy and content 90% of the time to being aggravated and whiny 90% of the time (unless I’m within arm’s length of her, for her to pull up on, or use me as a walker.) Not only has Bonnie been frustrated with her lack of mobility, she’s also been frustrated with food. In her defense, this virus has her pretty sick, and the doctor said her throat is really irritated and inflamed, so I’m wondering if maybe swallowing is just uncomfortable for her?

Anyway, I honestly feel kind of silly posting an update on what Bonnie was eating at this time last month, because not a lot has changed. Actually, it seems like we’ve taken several steps backward after the rough couple of weeks we’ve had. Two weeks ago, Bonnie’s top four front teeth began to pop through, which caused her major discomfort (more than when her bottom two came in.) She pushed away almost any food I’d try to give her, even some of her favorites. Since Bonnie won’t take a bottle, I ended up nursing her a lot, for about three days.

And immediately after her teeth popped through, she began having some serious cold symptoms that really seemed to get the best of her. At first, I thought it was just more teething, but after a day or two (and a night or two) of non-stop fussing, needing to be held 24/7, and not sleeping, I realized something else had to be going on. Again, she had no appetite, and rejected anything we put in front of her; hence, she nursed a lot more than normal. This lasted for a solid five days before I finally took her to the doctor, hoping she had something that was treatable; however, she’s evidently contracted a virus, and all I can do is keep her comfortable. It is so sad!

The one thing Bonnie will eat, even while she’s sick, is this crock pot breakfast casserole. It’s been a staple at our house ever since I bought Danielle Walker’s Against All Grain: Meals Made Simple. We throw it into the crock pot late Sunday night, turn the crock pot off first thing Monday morning, and have breakfast for the entire week!

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Other new favorites for her are yellow peppers, tomatoes, and pickles. I’m still on the hunt for store-bought pickles that I feel comfortable feeding her (no sugar, and no food coloring or other artificial ingredients.) I may end up making them rather than buying.

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Her schedule is still the same as it was last month, although I’m hoping to drop a nursing session over the next month or two (although, weaning is on hold while she’s sick, because all the wants to do is nurse and sleep):

  • 6:30/7am- Nurse
  • 7:30/8am- Breakfast
  • 9am- Nurse and then nap
  • 10/10:30am- Snack
  • 12pm- Lunch
  • 1pm- Nurse and then nap
  • 2:30/3pm- Snack
  • 5pm- Dinner
  • 6:30pm- Nurse and then bed

Out of desperation to get Bonnie to eat something when she was at her worst, I made a batch of these grain free toddler bites. (If you are worried about choking, you can make them without the chopped almonds. They have a nutty enough flavor without them. Also, if your baby is under a year old, you will want to use maple syrup to sweeten instead of honey.)

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When we are out and about, and know Bonnie will need a snack, we usually have raisins packed, as well as a few pouches of Plum Organics fruits and veggies. Some of Bonnie’s favorites are:

Another new food we’ve started giving Bonnie is celery. She’s not crazy about the taste of plain celery, so I’ve started adding a thin layer of almond butter. It creates a huge mess, but I love that she is getting the healthy fat from the almond butter. Plus, they say that celery is supposed to help relieve teething pain for babies.

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So here’s a recap of the new foods we’ve introduced to Bonnie this month:

  • Celery
  • Bell peppers (yellow are her favorite)
  • Pickles (thank to her daddy)
  • Tomatoes

Here’s a list of what seem to be Bonnie’s favorites: 

  • Bananas
  • These banana snack muffins
  • Mild guacamole (or avocado with lime, and the tiniest bit of sea salt and pepper)
  • Baked sweet potato with butter
  • Yellow peppers
  • Eggs
  • Chicken, depending on how it is seasoned
  • Zucchini, cooked in olive oil, with pepper
  • Any type of berry
  • Raisins and grapes (she also likes dates and prunes, but raisins are a lot less messy)

We still offer Bonnie 3 or 4 different foods at meal times, and 2 or 3 at snack times. We also offer her a sippy cup of water with each of her meals, and a little bit of almond milk with her snacks. She barely drinks any of the almond milk, but since she won’t drink breast milk from a cup, we are using almond milk to help her get used to the idea of milk from a cup.

Here is what Bonnie ate yesterday:

Breakfast:

  • Crock pot breakfast casserole (eggs, kale, red and orange peppers, onion, goat cheese, almond and coconut milk, herbs) Since the casserole itself contains several different foods, this is the only thing she had for breakfast.

Snack:

*Since Bonnie so strongly prefers feeding herself (as opposed to my spoon feeding her) she just eats the fruit and veggie pouches straight from the package. Sometimes she even holds the package on her own, although this always ends in a big mess.

Lunch: 

  • Baked sweet potato with butter
  • Avocado, sliced
  • Grilled chicken, seasoned with basil and oregano

Snack: 

  • Banana
  • Celery with almond butter
  • Smoothie (strawberry, banana, almond butter, breast milk)

*I fed her the smoothie because she did not end up getting much of the celery or almond butter in her tummy!  When I make smoothies for her, I put them in this Squeasy Snacker.

Dinner: 

  • Breakfast casserole

I’m really hoping that we can get back on track with her eating once Bonnie starts feeling better, because even though I am offering her a lot of food right now, she isn’t eating much of it, and even pushes a lot of it away. I’m quickly learning to embrace sticky floors, messy fingers, and dirty faces, so I’m hoping she will come back around soon! She has made such progress before this little setback…

 

 

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5 Online Stores that have Made Life as a New Mom Easier

5 online stores that save both time and money, and make life as a new mom easier

I don’t know how moms with twins do it. Y’all are some special and patient people! After I had Bonnie, and it was just the two of us, we got out and about a lot. The weather was great in the summer and fall, and she was a newborn, which made going places so easy. I’d never done much online shopping before, because I’d always enjoyed the experience of actually getting out of the house, grabbing an iced coffee while we were out, and making a day of it.

Then, when Bonnie was a few months old, we started babysitting Luke during the week. We love having him, but having a second baby nearly the same age as Bonnie changed the dynamic completely. No more hopping in the car to kill some time at Target on a whim. Getting out became an ordeal! Coordinating naps, coordinating snack and meal times, getting two babies in and out of car seats, and then in and out of a shopping cart. Not to mention, where do you put two babies in a single shopping cart?

(I actually think I’ve found a pretty neat solution to this dilemma, with the Buggy Bench. I finally bit the bullet and ordered one, but it hasn’t arrived yet. It should make things so much easier!)

Even though we still brave the stores occasionally (especially now that the weather is finally getting nice,) I’ve found that I do WAY more online shopping than I ever thought I would. And it has been so nice. 

Here are my faves:

1) Amazon Prime-  Amazon Prime is a lifesaver for when I realize last minute that I’m running low on a pantry staple (like almond flour) or when I need one, random thing that I know I’ll never remember to grab next time I do get around to going to the store (like the cheesecloth I just ordered.)

2) Zulily- I love this site because their products change daily, and you never know what you’ll find. They have anything from clothing (for the whole family,) to furniture, to food. Zulily is actually how I discovered the Buggy Bench, although I waited too long to get one, and they sold out!

3) ThredUp- ThredUp has been a favorite clothing resource of mine for a couple of years now. It is like thrift or consignment shopping online! And the selection is enormous. If you spend enough time, you can find something every single time you shop here. Plus, when you order a “Clean Out Bag,” and send your clothing to them, you get either a shopping credit or a direct payout (whichever you choose.) So in the end, you can pay for your new clothes with your old ones, without spending much (or any) money! They have clothing for women, infants, and children, but not for men. They also have maternity clothes!

At first, I was turned off by the idea of buying clothing online, without being able to try it on, but they accept returns, and their return policy is really convenient and hassle-free.

4) Moxie Jean- Moxie Jean is the same concept as ThredUp, but they buy and sell only baby, kids’, and maternity clothing. Their selection is a bit smaller than ThredUp, but anything I’ve gotten from them has been very high quality, and I have yet to be disappointed. They do accept returns though, if you aren’t satisfied with anything you order.

Their payout is not quite as high as ThredUp, but they accept more brands than ThredUp does. So I usually send Bonnie’s clothing to ThredUp, unless I know it’s a brand they won’t take (like Carters,) and then I’ll send it to Moxie Jean. 

Here’s my latest order from Moxie Jean:

5 online stores that save both time and money, and make life as a new mom easier

5) Stitch Fix- Another resource for clothing, Stitch Fix is a bit different from the rest. With Stitch Fix, you complete a “Style Profile,” and a stylist puts together five pieces for you, mails them to you, and you have three days to decide which of the pieces you want to keep. You can keep all five, or none. You only pay for what you choose to keep! With your “fix” you also receive style cards, giving you ideas of how to put each of your pieces together with different outfits. This is great for someone who struggles with putting outfits together, and it is really fun getting new inspiration for wearing pieces you may already have.

5 online stores that save both time and money, and make life as a new mom easier

If you hate everything you get, you can go to your account, and leave a note explaining what you did not like and why. The more specific you are, the happier you will be with your next fix. You can even request a new stylist if you are unhappy with the first one!

5 online stores that save both time and money, and make life as a new mom easier

One thing I love is that, on your Stitch Fix account, you can link to your style or Fix board on Pinterest. Your stylist will use outfits and accessories you’ve pinned as inspiration when she is creating your fix. I have a Pinterest board that is dedicated specifically to Stitch Fix. One thing you need to do on your Stitch Fix board is be specific with your captions. For instance, if you pin a dress because you love the style, but aren’t crazy about the color, you need to type that in your caption. Again, the more specific you are, the better you fixes will be! (I think your Pinterest board is your most important tool when using Stitch Fix.)

Stitch Fix is a wonderful way to treat yourself once a month by scheduling regular fixes, or you can use it only for special occasions (Easter outfit, a wedding outfit, etc.)

So, these are my favorite places to shop online. If you have any favorite online stores for day-to-day, practical necessities, or for fun extras, I’d love to hear about them!

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11 Easter Basket Ideas for Baby Girls

Can y’all believe it’s nearly Easter already?! Where have February and March gone? We are already three quarters of the way through Bonnie’s first year of life on this earth, and Andrew is prepping for his chiropractic board exams which are this weekend (prayers for him are hugely appreciated.)

We aren’t giving Bonnie an Easter basket this year, although if we were, I’d be tempted by some of these from the Etsy shop SewEMGMaybe next year! This year, my husband is hung up on getting a red wagon for her (similar to this one.) Our friends (they are also our neighbors, and Luke’s parents) have one, and Andrew has been talking non-stop about getting one for Bonnie ever since he saw how much their little boy loved his! I think that, secretly, the gift is more for him, but I am all for it, because I think he and Bonnie will really be able to enjoy it together. We spend a lot of time outside in the spring and summer, so I know it will get used a lot.

But, back to the hypothetical Easter basket, here is what I would fill it with if we were giving her one!

11 Easter Basket Ideas for Baby Girls

1) Bath toys- Babies (at least ours) LOVE bath time. I am partial to these, but you could always snag some cheap toys from Dollar Tree!

2) Bubbles- Homemade or store-bought. If you prefer making your own, here is a great step-by step. Bubbles are a fun way to kill time and play with Baby either outside or when you’re closed indoors.

3) Board books- You can’t have too many books! Here are some fun ones for Easter:

4) An Easter outfit- Since we are between seasons right now, baby stores like Carters and Gymboree usually have really good sales. Or… you could go the used clothing route and hit up a couple thrift stores, or shop online for the perfect outfit at ThredUp.com. Be carefully though… ThredUp is addictive!

5) A spring and/or summer sleeper- I don’t know about your babies, but our baby lives in her pajamas most days of the week! We are home a lot, and she’ll stay in her PJs until after lunch! These are something we avoid spending lots of money on, because she plays in them, eats in them, poops in them…

6) Plum Organics fruit and/or veggie packets- If you really want to stick with a spring theme, you could give Peter Rabbit Organics packets instead.

7) Wooden bunny teether- Or any wooden teether! There are some really cute ones floating around on Etsy. 

8) Taggies blanket- Bonnie is fascinated by blankets and textures right now! I really love this one for spring!

9) Bunny rabbit headband (or any headband)- We don’t plan on doing any big-time promoting of the Easter Bunny with Bonnie, but even so, bunnies are nice symbols of Spring, and this headband is just too adorable.

10) Stuffed bunny- I fell in love with this sweet bunny the moment I saw her!

11) The actual Easter basket! What baby doesn’t love a good basket to chew on, climb in, wear… This can also be a really precious keepsake, if you and your child can make it last through years of Easter egg hunts!

 

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9 Months with Bonnie

Well, even though some of the newness is wearing off, we still think Bonnie is pretty spectacular. Between her and Luke (Luke is the 8 month old baby I keep during the week) they are keeping me busy! I’ve also been keeping a 13 month old boy during the week part-time, which has been really fun, but added a completely new dimension to our routine… in a good way! Bonnie is mesmerized by him. He isn’t walking yet, but is super mobile, and Bonnie tries so hard to keep up!

(I’m just kidding about the newness wearing off…  every day holds something new!)

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She is not crawling, but can scoot backward if she really needs to get somewhere. She is an excellent stander, but is not yet walking. And although she can pull up to a standing position, it’s hard work for her! She finally learned to clap, which is just the sweetest thing. She now claps when we say “yay,” and she often claps for herself without any prompting from us at all. She can say “da da,” and is finally beginning to associate that with her daddy. She can also say “book,” and does so often when she is reaching for her book, or when she sees me getting a book for her. The words we know she understands are: water, more, book, Mama, Daddy, Biscuit (our dog’s name), dog, Luke, toothbrush, no, yay, and uh-oh. I think she probably understands “bye-bye,” but she refuses to wave, or say it back to us!

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My parents bought an old rocking chair for Bonnie before she was even born. We pulled it out recently, and it has become her favorite “toy.” She loves to sit, rock herself, be rocked, and pull up. She probably spends an hour or more a day in her little rocker, which I find kind of hilarious.

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Bonnie is learning to love books more and more all the time. And she has learned to turn her own pages! I got ridiculously excited the first time she did this, and it still makes me all giddy inside. She struggles with paper pages, but we don’t read those often anyway, because she becomes more interested in tearing and eating the pages than she does in looking at the book. Most of her go-to books are board books, for safety reasons. She especially likes books with hidden flaps and pockets. Some of her favorites are the Peek-a-book Pals Farm book and Pop-up Peekaboo Farm. Her most favorite book right now is Goodnight, Little One. This is a cloth book, so she can bite it, chew on it, and cuddle with it without ruining it, or causing herself any bodily harm.

Bonnie is going to the church nursery regularly, which has been a huge deal for me. I really struggle leaving her, since I’m with her all day, every day. But according to the nursery workers, she does well. Our church services last from 10am until 12:45 or 1pm, but now that she is not nursing as regularly as she was when she was 6 and 7 months old, I know I can leave her for long stretches like this.

She’s been nursing 4 times a day for the past month, and we are working quickly towards cutting out another nursing session. I have such mixed emotions about this, but I also know that weaning is necessary before we can begin pursuing another transfer. Since she has been eating more, I have been cooking more, and am really working hard on embracing meal planning, cooking, and baking… This is a process, and a big mental shift for me, but I’m coming right along, slowly but surely. I’ll share more about what Bonnie has been eating lately in the next installment of What’s in Bonnie’s Belly?

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***(If you are wanting to pursue IVF, but not ready to stop nursing, do your own research; it may be that you can continue breastfeeding through treatments. Unfortunately, I’m not a good candidate for nursing through IVF. Here is a really informative blog post about it if you are looking for more info.)***

Bonnie sleeps like a dream, both at night and during her naps. She sleeps from about 6:30pm to 6:30 or 7am, and naps during the day around 9am and 1pm. Each of her naps last about an hour, although sometimes the noise the other babies make shortens her naps a bit. Her nap time and bedtime routines are some of my favorite moments during the day. We cuddle with a few books, pray, sing, nurse, and then she goes to bed. I almost always wake up to check on her 2 or 3 times throughout the night… just to make sure she is breathing!

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Keeping Finlay (the 13 month old baby) makes me so excited for the next few months of Bonnie’s life. The growth and development that occurs during the first year of a baby’s life is just miraculous…. a wonderful, and sometimes weird reminder of the creative, brilliant creator we serve.

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5 Tips for Teaching Your Baby to Fall Asleep and Stay Asleep

5 Tips for Teaching Your Baby to Fall Asleep and Stay Asleep

My journey with Bonnie toward good sleep habits has been a bit… um, tumultuous? As a newborn, she slept in her own crib, in her own room. She slept swaddled, and she slept well. By the time she was three weeks old she was only waking to nurse one time during the night. By the time she was 7 weeks old she was sleeping through the night consistently.

We thought.

By the time she was 3 and a half months old, she’d outgrown her swaddle. When we stopped swaddling her, she stopped sleeping through the night. It took us a few weeks to get this under control, but we eventually did, thanks to following the Moms on Call methods. We were in the clear again.

We thought.

When she was 5 and a half months old, she cut her first two teeth, which threw a kink into her sleeping habits. Again. She was waking every couple of hours, and wanting to nurse for comfort, even though I knew she wasn’t truly hungry.

And naps were even worse. By the time she was 6 months old, Bonnie would not nap unless she was being held. And I LOVED holding her while she slept. The problem with this was that I had another baby to hold, and feed, and play and cuddle with too, so holding Bonnie for each of her naps every day just was not possible. And I knew that, long-term, it wasn’t for Bonnie’s best.

Judging from my conversations with other new mommas, I’m not the only one who struggled to find the best way to teach her baby to sleep well. Sleep is so important for babies. The book that we used for sleep training explains so many reasons why sleep is important for babies’ development, and for their happiness. Babies who sleep well are happy babies. They are alert and well rested when they are awake; therefore, they are able to enjoy and learn from the environment around them better than babies who are tired all the time because they don’t sleep well.

Plus, is there anything more precious than a sleeping baby???

5 Tips for Teaching Your Baby to Fall Asleep and Stay Asleep

Here are the things we did that, when combined, revolutionized Bonnie’s sleep, both at nap time and at night.

1) Give your baby her own sleeping environment, in her own room.

Bonnie somehow understands that her bedroom is hers. She enjoys spending time in her room, whether she is sleeping, cuddling, nursing, or playing. It’s her safe place. The atmosphere is calm, and the activities we allow in her room are calm as well: reading, playing with puzzles, blocks, and dolls… no rough-housing or noisy toys.

In the evening, when it’s time for Bonnie to go to bed, we keep it dark (no lamps or night lights) and we use a sound machine, like this one. Since it’s winter now, we are also using a humidifier.

Bonnie almost always sleeps in her nursery. I can count on one hand the number of times she’s slept with us in our bed. And though I used to hold her for naps often, I do not even do that anymore, unless she happens to fall asleep when we’re out and about, which rarely happens now that she is 8 and a half months old.

2) Don’t nurse your baby to sleep, or put her to sleep with rocking, cuddling, singing, etc.

If you nurse you baby nurse until she falls completely asleep she will not learn how to put herself to sleep on her own. This is a problem because once babies begin to have adult-like sleep cycles (by a few months old,) they actually wake up between sleep cycles. We adults wake up between sleep cycles too, but we put ourselves back to sleep so quickly and easily that we normally don’t ever know we’ve woken. A baby who does not know how to put herself back to sleep between cycles will cry, and need help falling back asleep between every cycle. In Bonnie’s case, she was wanting to nurse between each sleep cycle, even when she was not necessarily hungry.

It’s fine (and wonderful) to nurse, or rock with, or sing to your baby before bed, but it’s best to stop and put her in her crib while she’s drowsy, but not asleep. This way, she’s forced to learn to put herself to sleep without your help.

3) Give her a sleep toy.

I was really skeptical about this suggestion, but it’s turned out so well! Bonnie’s cow (which you can see in her crib in this post) was a big splurge (we bought it here.) I am so glad we went for it though, because she loves her cow, and absolutely associates the cow with resting in her crib. I only let her play with the cow when she is in her crib for naps or bedtime, and I think this has helped her learn that holding the cow means it’s time to wind down.

4) Don’t go into her room when she wakes at night. She’ll put herself back to sleep!

This one is so tough. Moms on Call recommends putting your baby down at bedtime (which is around 6:00 for Bonnie lately) and not going back in the room until 6 or 7:00 the next morning…no matter what. As hard as this was the first few nights, it’s been a game-changer. Doing this has helped with nights, but it has also helped tremendously with naps. Bonnie now puts herself to sleep quickly between sleep cycles.

I do have feelings, and normal mom emotions, so there have been occasions when I’ve broken this rule, like when she’s teething (although the professionals would say not to even go in when she is teething!)

The great thing about sleep training is that it really does teach you what your baby’s cries mean. I can tell if Bonnie is crying out of frustration, pain, or hunger. Thus, I know whether she actually needs me during the night or not (and more often than not, she doesn’t.)

This might be a good time to mention that it’s not appropriate to sleep train until your baby is six months old, and no longer needs to nurse or take a bottle at night.

5) Create consistent bedtime and nap time routines.

This is a biggie because babies thrive on order, routine, and predictability. That’s part of the reason I’m such a believer in scheduling. Bonnie’s bedtime routine is something we never skip, and the same goes for her nap time routine. The two routines are similar, except the nap routine is shorter, and does not include a bath.

Bedtime Routine:

  • Bathe and brush teeth
  • Baby massage, put on a clean diaper and pajamas
  • Nurse
  • Read a book (or two or three)
  • Pray, sing, and rock
  • Put in crib, with sound machine on and lights off

Nap time Routine: 

  • Play quietly in the nursery
  • Read a book
  • Nurse
  • Put in crib, with sound machine on and lights off

These are just quick snippets of what we’ve done for Bonnie, but if you are wanting more details, I cannot recommend these two books highly enough: 

  • Moms on Call– They have a book for babies ages 0-6 months and 6-15. These have been great lifelines for me, as a first time mom.
  • The Sleep Sense Program– Perhaps the best $10 I’ve ever spent. And if you’re anything like me, you’ll breeze through this book in one night!

5 Tips for Teaching Your Baby to Fall Asleep and Stay Asleep

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3 Fun Baby Shower Games {For Those Who are Expecting and Those Who are Expecting to be Expecting}

My hope for this blog is that it is a haven of Christ-centered hope for women walking through infertility. But this is also a place where new life is celebrated… empty wombs being miraculously filled, and aching hearts being made new. Regardless of how or when it comes about, new life is worth celebrating, and praising God over!

So this post is for the women whose empty wombs have been filled. I hope you are soaking up every moment of pregnancy.

There is nothing quite as magical as experiencing the miracle of welcoming a new baby to the family, and if it is your first time, it can be both a rewarding and harrowing experience, especially in the months leading up to the birth of the new member of the family. New parents have friends and family to share in the journey, as well as to give them love and support at this time, and one fun way that family and friends show their support is through… baby showers!

Baby showers are a time-worn tradition, and whether or not you choose to throw one for yourself or have one of your child’s godparents throw one for you, it is bound to be a special event. Playing games at the baby shower is always a great way to make the event more fun. Here are some games you may want to play:

1. Daddy Relay
Being a parent requires a very special set of skills. From changing diapers to making formula, burping the baby, and dressing her up, it can all be frustrating for first-time parents – especially the dads! This game allows them to practice these skills, while pitting them against other dads. To play the game, secure some baby dolls – one for each of the participants – and some diapers, baby powder, baby wipes, baby clothes, and baby bottles. Set these up in stations across your house, and ask the dads to line up at the starting line, handing them one doll each. Have them go to each station and perform the set tasks on their baby doll: changing the diaper, dressing the baby, and feeding it in the proper position – complete with burping!

2. Baby Shower Bingo
With Free Bingo Hunter, there are now hundreds of online bingo sites that transform the game with varied themes, and custom bingo is always a big success. The game has been used in bridal showers and baby showers for a while, and all you’ll really need are custom bingo cards like the ones on Babbee.com. The cards have items you would often see at a baby shower, and the host draws bingo call cards from a hat. The first to complete a bingo pattern wins the game. This is one of my personal favorites.

3. Clay Babies
This is probably one of the most fun games you’ll ever play at a baby shower – and you might even discover that some of your friends have hidden talents in the process! All you need is some modeling clay – enough for all your participants – and some space for them to work. Give your participants some time, maybe 10-15 minutes, to create their own babies out of the modeling clay, and then pick which one you think is the best! You could have different categories too, such as Most Creative, Most Disturbing, Most Realistic and Most Lazy.

What games have you played at your baby showers?

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Expect the Unexpected: A Guest Post

Friends, I hope you’re curled up under your favorite throw, with a cup of hot tea, or coffee, or whatever it is you drink when you settle in to read your daily blogs. Because this is my favorite guest post. Ever.

I found Brandy’s blog, A Sweet Aroma, after she commented here for the first time, and I was immediately drawn to her spirit, her servant’s heart, and her love of her Lord.
As I’ve said so many times, I do not know the specific why of infertility… not in my life, and certainly not in any of yours. But I do know that God uses the unexpected to do the unexpected. And the unexpected that He brings about is always greater than we could have ever asked or imagined (Ephesians 3:20.)
God has used my family’s journey through infertility to bring so many wonderful people into our lives. Brandy is one of those people. And I hope that, after you read her post here, you’ll spend some time in her little corner of the world wide web, and get to know her a little better. Maybe God will use this part of her story to encourage you, as He’s used it to encourage me.

 

There I was… a 12 year old girl in my 6th grade Reading class. I remember the teacher handing out roles for the script we would be reading through over the next week or so. Though I don’t remember the title of the play or even my character’s name, I can remember so clearly one of my key lines: Expect the unexpected and the unexpected never comes.” 
It’s a funny little phrase when you think about it… a strange mesh of whimsical and philosophical. I had an affinity for it in the years to come and would use it often as a tagline in conversations. It wasn’t until high school that I started to realize the irony of it. Some things simply couldn’t be expected…. even if I tried. 
Sometimes the unexpected came like a knife in the heart. How could I expect that I would lose my father at age 16? How could I expect that my step-dad of 9 years would have an affair and turn my family upside down?
Other times the unexpected came like sunshine from the Lord. How could I expect for God to use me as a church plant intern 400+ miles from home? How could I expect Him to send me a country boy in the north?
I have natural tendencies to over-analyze and daydream… so if anyone could dream up the unexpected in life,  I would think it’d be me. But the reality I’ve come to find is there will always be an unexpected.
Why do I say all of this?
Here’s a glimpse into the last few years of my life.
After my Junior year of nursing school, God called me to leave all that I found normal. The Fall that would have been my Senior year, I packed up my southern self, left my college cheer squad, quit my jobs, withdrew from classes, and moved to DE to be a church plant intern. One year into that adventure, I was standing at the alter marrying a country man who loved Jesus and me more than I ever thought possible.
It was all so unexpected. But we were thrilled… we were ready for our life together to begin. We both felt led not to hinder the timing or the size of growing a family. Both desiring many (as in I want 10+) kids, we had hoped we’d start expanding right away.
We got married in October of 2013. In November, we expected that my period wouldn’t come. We expected that two lines would show up. We expected to make special Thanksgiving announcements.
When November didn’t quite hold such excitement, we expected surely December would lend itself to news of a special bundle of Christmas cheer. Though I was sad on Christmas Eve when it was confirmed my womb was empty, we expected January or February would definitely hold the baby we longed for.
Here I sit in the midst of let down #16, expecting that next month will be our month.
This wait was unexpected. Infertility… unexpected.
Why would God give us such huge desires for children?
Why would He have us long for an enormous family?
If He was going to make us wait, why?
I don’t know the answer to these questions. I have good guesses. Guesses that don’t even begin to take the pain away.
If I’m being honest, days like these I have to fight with everything in me to stay afloat. To take one more breath. To get out of my house to get groceries, let alone attend gender reveals and baby showers.
I could so easily retreat to my bedroom. Abandon my friendships. Harden my heart to the Lord. Honestly, somedays it’s what I’d prefer.
I know that I can’t see the unexpected and my expectations might be let down next month like every month before. But I can’t retreat and harden…. because there are promises made of what I can expect.
I can expect that God is with me in every moment of desperation. He hears every prayer, catches every tear (Psalm 56.8), and never leaves me in my despair (Psalm 46.1)
I can expect that God is using and will use this for His glory. As hard as it is to wrap my head around this, I know He has a purpose. His purpose for my life and everything in it is His glory (2 Cor. 12.10)
I can expect that He will work this out for my good (Romans 8.28). He will redeem this situation and will grow me through it (Psalm 147.3)
These are the truths, I am expecting. But even in those truths, my heart breaks, my womb longs, my soul grieves for what is not.
You can expect God’s goodness.
But still, expect pain.
You can expect His redemption.
But still, expect heartbreak.
You can expect His presence.
But still, expect longing.
The unexpected doesn’t make sense. We can’t prevent it and expect it. But what we can do is embrace it.
I didn’t choose infertility and I surely didn’t expect it but I know my God is good and I know that He is using it.
So through ugly tears, with a broken heart, and from an empty womb I will praise the Lord. 
 
I will expect His goodness even in the pain. 
I will expect His redemption even in the heartbreak.
I will expect His presence even in the longing.
 
I will expect that God will allow the unexpected…. to expectedly do all that He has promised. 

 

 

 

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Exploring Montessori: Montessori Baby Rooms

Many of you already know that Andrew and I plan on homeschooling our children, so because of that, and because I know how important the first several years of a child’s life are in regards to their brain and development, I read lots of learning/education/homeschool materials as I come across them.

The Montessori philosophy of learning is one that I’m only vaguely familiar with. Although I have mixed feelings about some of the specifics, the overarching theme is that children thrive on independence, freedom within limits, and a sense of order. Montessori encourages children to make the most of their environment, and use what is around them to develop themselves.

     Montessori floor bed round-up-- Montessori spaces for babies and toddlers

I agree that children (and babies) need freedom to explore and learn on their own, but I’m also a big believer in boundaries and limits, so we are choosing certain elements of Montessori to incorporate into our home, and adapting them slightly to fit our lifestyle, etc.

For babies, a big part of Montessori is creating an appropriate space for them to play, learn, and explore. The space should be safe enough for babies to be able to explore independently.This space should be simple yet stimulating. It should include toys made from natural materials, but not an overwhelming number of toys. We stray from this some, because Bonnie does have plastic toys; however, she does not use battery operated, noisy toys. The use of treasure baskets is a great idea that we’ve really enjoyed. Bonnie also really enjoys her mirror. One thing Bonnie loves that is not  “Montessori approved” is her jump up! But again, we aren’t strictly following every Montessori recommendation. That would actually be impossible since I don’t even know them all.

Bonnie has her own space in the living room, since that’s our main living space in our house, but her special space is her bedroom. She seems to understand that her bedroom is hers, and we’ve already begun teaching her what kind of play is appropriate in her bedroom (reading, blocks, dolls, puzzles, instead of rough-housing, noisy toys, etc.)

Bonnie sleeps in a crib, but because we’ve had some crib issues lately, I am especially intrigued by the Montessori idea of the floor bed. According to the Montessori philosophy, the room should be tailored to the baby. Pictures should be at the child’s eye level. Shelves should be accessible for the baby, and safe for the baby to reach onto and pull up on. The idea behind the floor bed is that the baby should, again, be able to move freely and explore within the boundaries of his or her safe bedroom, rather than being confined to the limited space of a crib. With a floor bed, the baby’s entire room becomes his or her crib!

I am really torn about the whole floor bed thing. I can see the benefits of a floor bed, especially if the baby’s room is set up properly, but the safety and tight boundaries that the crib provides are also appealing.

Even though we are on the fence as to if and when we’ll ever switch Bonnie’s crib out for a floor bed, I have come across some really pretty, well-designed floor beds that are Montessori-inspired. I thought it would be fun to share some of my favorites with all of you, since searching for floor bed ideas consumed way too much of my free time over the weekend!

I love the weaning table and chair in the room below. This is something I’d love to use with Bonnie, but we don’t have the table and chair, whereas we do have a high chair, so we’re using what we already have!

Montessori floor bed round-up-- Montessori spaces for babies and toddlers

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There is not a thing I don’t love about this next room. The colors are so fun, and the room design is just genius.

Montessori floor bed round-up-- Montessori spaces for babies and toddlers

Montessori floor bed round-up-- Montessori spaces for babies and toddlers

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This bedroom is exactly to my taste, and it makes me want to get rid of Bonnie’s crib right this minute!

Montessori floor bed round-up-- Montessori spaces for babies and toddlers

{Source}

Montessori floor bed round-up-- Montessori spaces for babies and toddlers

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The idea of a floor bed for a baby is a bit unconventional, but I could actually see it working well for Bonnie. My husband and I have tossed the idea back and forth quite a bit, and may give it a shot. I’d love to hear feedback from any of you who have done this or plan on doing this with your little ones.

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Banana Snack Muffins for Baby {Grain free, Dairy Free, Sugar Free, Paleo}

 

In Wednesday’s post, I mentioned that we occasionally make Bonnie her very own muffins. These muffins are super easy to make, they are good for her, and she loves them.

One of the wonderful things about baby-led weaning is that you don’t necessarily have to make special food specifically for your baby. You can literally feed them whatever you are eating. And that’s what we do most of the time, but there are certain times when convenient finger foods, like these muffins, really fit the bill.

Banana Snack Muffins for Baby-- These grain free, dairy free, sugar free muffins are a perfect Paleo treat for baby-led weaning, and super easy to make!

Banana Snack Muffins for Baby

Ingredients:

  • 2 bananas, mashed
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 c. coconut flour
  • 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. baking soda

Method:

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Mix all ingredients together, and bake in a greased muffin tin for 25-30 minutes.
  • This recipe makes 6 muffins that can be stored in the fridge for up to a week, or the freezer for up to 2 months.

Bonnie and I spent yesterday with my mom, who came into town late Wednesday night. The three of us went to GRS to see my RE, and several of the staff at the office. It’s so hard to believe it has been nearly a year and a half since I was a patient there. As we sat in the waiting room, waiting for my doctor to see us, it was so easy to remember the many times I was waiting for appointments there: ultrasounds, blood work, shots. It was easy to remember the times I arrived there feeling hopeful, and left there disappointed. It was easy to remember the times I arrived there in despair, and left filled with hope.

I remembered my last appointment there before having Bonnie, and hearing her heartbeat. Then I remembered my nine months of pregnancy, wondering if my baby would ever arrive.

And now I’m baking my baby muffins.

Crazy.

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