Wednesday, May 28, 2014

preparing siblings for a new baby {links}

I think we've put a finger on what's been making the crazy around here lately. I mean, crazy.

Clue #1: I can only pick up the girls so many times in one day before my back is killing me.
Clue #2: My growing belly is slowly, surely pushing them off my lap
Clue #3: "Mommy REALLY needs a rest time."
Clue #4: Patience is thin and feelings are fragile. And that's just me.
Clue #5: A few new items are making their way out of boxes or we're picking them up off Craigslist...but they aren't for the girls to enjoy. Unfair!

Guessed it?

Our transition to having a new family member to compete for attentions and resources is becoming a stark reality in these girls' little lives. I didn't realize it until my midwife suggested it as I sat on her couch crying yesterday. I could not figure out why I felt so powerless, and I'm assuming that the girls feel the same way I do, only they can't express this and it comes out as an epic tantrum that leaves me drained and in tears. I try to remain unruffled but it's awfully hard these days.

So although the photo above suggests a "how to" to get everyone ready to welcome a new family member, that's the opposite. I need help! I went to my favorite parenting resources and did some reading so I could make a good amount of space in my head and heart for making the transition as seamless as possible. Painless, no. I know it will be difficult. But I know there are things that we can do as their parents to help guide them through it.

So far, these have been the most helpful:

Helping Kids Adjust to Life with a New Baby from Janet Lansbury

How to Prepare Your Child for the New Baby from Dr. Laura Markham

25 Tips to Prepare Children for a New Sibling from L.R. Knost (Little Hearts Books)

and this one:

10 Ways to Play with Your Child when Play is the Last Thing on Your Mind

All About Books - You're Going to Be a Big Sister! from That Mama Gretchen

Welcoming a New Baby from Natural Parents Network

Any suggestions are welcome, too!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

preparing for birth.

I hit seven months last week and was in a slight state of shock to realize that I'm almost done with this pregnancy! It's funny how pregnancy, just like life, ebbs and flows so much. The first trimester, I thought I was going to D-I-E. The sickness was 24/7 and I finally succumbed to taking a combination of Unisom and B6 approved by my midwife, which took the edge off until it all subsided around 17 weeks. Since then, I've felt healthy, energetic (within reason) and have enjoyed feeling the life inside my belly get stronger and more active.

Having a singleton pregnancy is way different than a twin pregnancy, in my experience. There have been many times when I've felt that something must be wrong because the baby wasn't moving around as much. Then I remembered that I had two babies inside me last time, and someone was always awake, always jabbing or kicking or rolling. This one is nice and quiet. I'm also measuring right on schedule instead of 3-4 weeks ahead. When I went into labor five weeks early with the girls, I was already measuring at 43 weeks. Gah.

We're also doing our birth differently. At home! I don't want to set foot inside another hospital to birth a child (knock on all the wood all around me) because it was a long saga last time and very stressful. Preterm labor at 31 weeks, mag sulfate for a week, two weeks at the hospital on bedrest, then five days home and my water breaking, then two weeks in the NICU. I watched the birth video a couple of weeks ago for the first time and just cried. It was as great of a birth as I could have hoped for given the circumstances, but seeing Ruthie come out just stunned, looking at the bright lights....

Ok, I have to stop writing about it because I'm crying again. It's also why I haven't finished writing the birth story on this blog. It just makes me cry too much.

Yes, we'll do a hospital birth plan/transfer plan just in case, but fortunately our midwife is also a teaching nurse practitioner at one of the big hospitals here in town and has privileges, so we'll be in good hands either way.

But my hope is that this birth will be a bit of redemption. Quiet. Family-oriented. No drama. Tears of joy instead of tears of disappointment and sadness to see my littles in a small plastic box instead of in my arms. A baby ready to come into the world and a mama and family so very ready to receive him or her (we're gonna be surprised!)

But please, oh please, no drama.


Sunday, May 18, 2014

how this brain works.

Anyone else really fascinated by personality tests? I love them. The most recent test I retook after a handful of years a version of the Meyers-Briggs test from 16 Personalities online after reading the hilarious Facebook statuses of Megan from Sorta Crunchy. 

Turns out I'm an ENFP. Oh, the freedom! And the clarity! To be MEEEE! Prepare for many caps and punctuation marks ahead because I'm in a state of ENFP excitement/mania/inspiration that will burn way down and then I will come back and read this post and go "what was I thinking, people are gonna think I'm so dumb!" which is classic ENFP weakness/fear of not being liked/being thought stupid.

I think that's why sometimes I get so cripplingly overwhelmed by blogging, because this is my brain:

so then I sit down to write and I want to share ALL THE THINGS but then I get like this so I share NOTHING for weeks even though my brain is about to explode...and then I see SOMETHING SHINY and OOOOO let's go look at it!

and then sometimes I get like this: 


And also the reason I have such trouble staying on task and following through, which has proven to be a BIG hurdle while trying to learn how to run my own small business, which is partly the reason why I MAKE myself do these things, so I learn follow through:

Things I can do for you:

- Help you brainstorm and dream big for your life or start a new business RIGHT NOW
- Find your strengths and become your cheerleader, because YOU ARE AWESOME!
-  Inspire you to be your best self
- Have a fun girl's night, I really can "bring the party" if you need me to! Unless I'm "introverting", but then I'll still really try and will most likely succeed.
- Talk about abstract things and concepts and ideas, such as personality tests.
- Get you pumped up to do something!
- Go on a spontaneous adventure, although I did plan a pretty kick-ass 10 week trip to Europe that was very detailed, because hello ADVENTURE.
- Create a cool spreadsheet / plan / project to be used for short-term (read: exciting) projects with a specific end date

Things I can't really do for you for longer than a month or so:

- Help you write out a practical plan for said amazing brainstorm/dream/business we came up with
- Talk in extreme detail about setting and reaching practical goals
- Play the devil's advocate, because once again YOU ARE AWESOME!
- Sit in tense situations or handle unspoken conflict for very long. Then I'm like "Get me outta here!"
- Manage your money
- Keep you (or me) on task. Because, if you suggest the coffee shop down the street rather than complete a job, I'm all in.
- Follow through consistently without help. I'm working on it. 
- Be counted on to consistently and thoroughly fill out / implement / oversee that cool spreadsheet / plan / project without the help of a detail-oriented person

So this is how my brain works at this point in my life (which I know can change/morph over the years, which gives me solace because as an ENFP I really do not like to be told what to do, even by a personality test)

What's your type? Take the condensed version of the test and get ready to feel totally FREE! Or not, that might be just me. 

*All sources for "unsourced" pictures are floaters from Pinterest. Sorry. If they're yours, politely let me know!*

Monday, May 12, 2014

10 totally different snack ideas for pregnancy

 The strangest part of this pregnancy is that I really don't have much of an appetite. For me, that is kind of a big deal. Because of my lack of appetite, it's been a challenge to make sure I'm eating (and drinking) enough throughout the day.

When you don't have much of an appetite, it can be hard to think up snacks that will be both nourishing and satisfying. The best way is to keep it real and keep it simple. Here are five creative real food snack recipes that go beyond veggie sticks and hummus (which is still a great snack, of course):

1. Apple slices with Crispy Oven Roasted Chickpeas from Fifteen Spatulas. I was skeptical about these at first, but they're crunchy and delicious. If you crave salty food like potato chips, these are up your alley and they're full of protein!

2. Apple-Cinnamon Scones from Thank Your Body. Gluten Free! I skipped the glaze and sprinkled coconut sugar on top. Eat while sipping a cup of pregnancy tea. Great for a quick breakfast, too.

3. Coconut Walnut Snack "Balls" from Butter Believer. Did you know that researchers did a study on date consumption in the last four weeks of pregnancy, and it actually shortened the first stage of labor and produced a more favorable outcome? Buuuuut, I don't love dates, so I've been trying to find different ways to eat them.

4. Mint Cacao Frosty Smoothie from Tales of a Kitchen. A great way to get in those dates, yay!

5. Yogurt (full fat, dairy or non) and homemade banana bread granola from Minimalist's like granola crack. One bowl and you'll go back for seconds...and thirds. Better make a double batch.

What is your favorite pregnancy snack?

Friday, May 9, 2014

a tale of two tantrums

Andy had to leave town today for a work trip, so the girls and I are on our own for a bit. And Afton and I have been struggling lately - or rather, I've been struggling with her. It seems like for Ruthie, age 1-2 was really tough. Afton cruised through, and I thought she'd be my easygoing girl. Wouldn't you know it, they've completely swapped roles! Afton is my toughie now, only she's older and stronger (read: super independent) and she definitely is pushing my buttons (that I didn't know I had) and showing me my triggers and limits.

A few nights ago, she screamed bloody murder for about 45 minutes because it was time to put her new baby stroller away and get ready for bed (I think. I still don't know what exactly was going on). Just screamed and thrashed. I was prepared for maybe 10 minutes of meltdown (we've had family here and they've had no naps and just general busyness, so I expected some steam-let-off and actually welcomed it) but after about 25 minutes of screeching I was at the end. And she wouldn't stop. So I tried holding her. I held her face and told her to stop. I (regrettably the second after I did it) swatted her pretty hard. Nothing worked! She kept on going at the same volume and same intensity and I was really worked up. This girl can scream.

She was obviously in fight mode and me, my heart was pumping and I was in flight mode.  Just get me out of here! I contemplated taking Ruthie out with me and leaving her to it. Do I call it quits and leave the room and let her just cry herself to sleep? We've never been cry-it-out people but sometimes it's just too hard. I could fight her and try to get her to bend to my will, which would not be a pretty sight and would leave me with many regrets. 

Or, I could go against all that my body was crying out for and do what I knew she would eventually need me to - to stay with her, wait it out, and be ready to welcome her back to the world of the sane. I felt that I should stay and resisted the urge to run. I realized that for me and for THIS time and THIS place, I should do nothing but be at peace with my daughter. Not placate or try and fix her or remedy the problem, but to be her safe haven. It was my time, my chance, an opportunity to put into practice all those things I say I believe but when push comes to shove, sometimes it is easier to just say shove it all. But not better, not in the long run.

She slowly started to come down from the crazy and I gathered her up in my arms. She let me hold her while still screeching, but her body was soft and she buried her head into my shoulder. We sat, rocking together, for another 15 minutes as her cries turned to whimpers and moans and then those sad little after-cry sniffles.

Ruthie had been by our side all along, looking at books but also disturbed by her sister's distress. "Ruthie," I asked, "do you want to get an orange for you and sis?" She hopped off the bed and brought back a little palm-sized mandarin for each of them, and Afton accepted the orange and we sat, on the bed, while the girls peeled the thin skin and we soaked in the silence. Bed followed, all thankful.

Then, the next day...

I figured that after she had a good cry at night, the morning would be refreshing and easier. And maybe our connection would even be visibly stronger! Wishful thinking. Afton woke up cranky and nothing was making her happy. Ruthie jumped on the bandwagon and the decibels kept rising as I struggled to make breakfast for them and for myself. I had a flashback to the night before as my mind screamed Just get me out of here!

The morning continued to get increasingly worse and finally I yelled at them, "I just can't! I need a peace time! I need a peace time!" ("Peace Times" are for when someone is overwhelmed or having a hard time. It's kind of like a time IN instead of a time OUT.) and ran from the kitchen into the bathroom and shut the door.

Of course, they followed after me crying and upset. I started crying as they pounded on the door and wanted to just disappear. I turned on the shower, took a deep breath, and opened the door to their tear-streaked faces.

"Girls, I am really sad. I just really need a peace time right now in the shower. I miss Daddy and I'm having a really hard day. So you can sit on the ground right here or you can go have a peace time too on your bed. But I need a peace time right now."

They sat on the bathroom floor crying for a bit while I cried in the shower and when they finally calmed down, Ruthie looked at me thoughtfully. "Mommy's really sad?" she asked.

"Yes, I'm really sad. I miss Daddy. I just need a little peace time to feel better."

"In the shower?"

"Yes, the shower helps me feel better," I answer.

She connected the dots again. "You really miss Daddy and need a peace time in the shower?"

"Yes, I really do."

Our day got progressively better and Ruthie asked me later in the car, "Mommy, you really sad? You miss Daddy?

"Yes honey, I miss Daddy. I was sad but I feel better now."

"Oh." Pause. "And you need a peace time in the shower?"

I had to laugh. "Yes, I needed a peace time in the shower."

I think it was actually healthy for my girls to see me sad, they understand that emotion. It's healthy for them to see me need a peace time, too. It was good for me to be honest with them. We are all human. We're all trying to be the best mothers we know how to be, but we have limits and that's OK. Sometimes you win and sometimes you lose. I need to continually remind myself to stop looking at these events as win-lose situations, they're really just LIFE. It's OK to feel totally overwhelmed and running from your kids happens and sometimes a good cry is just all anybody needs, moms included.

Meanwhile, all the arguments of our society through my mind: don't let her win. She can't act this way. Don't be weak. She needs to be disciplined. This is not ok. It's so crazy how ingrained these thoughts are!

But then truth seeps in, and I remember what I've been reading in Sarah Mae and Sally Clarkson's fantastic book Desperate

"I want to be a safe place for my children. I want them to see that my arms are open and I love them no matter what they do. I want them to have confidence that their mama is on their team, whether they spill a glass of milk and break my favorite mug, or whether they scream at their sibling with harsh words...I'm still on their team. I get them. I am them. We are all just a work in progress."

Me especially.

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