“Sleep like a baby”

As a mom, I will tell you that “Sleep like a baby” is one of the most misleading phrases I have ever heard.  I don’t know about your baby, but our “baby” still doesn’t consistently sleep through the night at 3.5-years-old!  Sleep is a topic that is often fraught with strong opinions, anxiety, feelings of inadequacy, hope, breath-holding, and tiptoeing.  My hope is to allay some of your fears and anxiety and encourage you to be creative. Before our son arrived our doula did a wonderful job of trying to help us understand the intricacies of infant sleep.  She talked to us about co-sleeping and room-sharing.  Even after those discussions and reading The Baby Sleep Book: The Complete Guide to a Good Night’s Rest for the Whole Family (Sears Parenting Library) we still naively thought that our baby wouldn’t “sleep like a baby”.  We thought he would sleep like an adult. We were in for a rude awakening.  The first night in the hospital was pretty perfect.  I stayed awake all night holding him (much to the nurse’s stern disapproval – she told me I would spoil him), nursing him, and gazing at his perfect little body.  After 5 years of patience very few things could have pried him from my arms.  He dozed and nursed all night.  The second night was fairly similar, and then we went home. We found out that it is that third night that often takes parents by surprise.  This is when babies really start waking more frequently and wanting to nurse more often.  Somewhere in there they also find their lungs and make use of them during those middle of the night diaper changes and feedings that don’t happen fast enough.  None of that bothered me.  I was so in love and thrilled that our baby was finally here that it was an absolute pleasure to be awake all night.  As we learned how to breastfeed, pump, and master diaper changes we continued on that sleepless path and we were content (thank goodness for those good mama hormones!). I got a lot of smiles and hugs in those early weeks.  Everyone expects a new mom and dad to be exhausted, but almost everyone assured me that sleep got MUCH better around 6 months.  Our baby had dairy sensitivities so from about 6 weeks until 12 months we were up all night every night...
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Summer Nights

Without even looking at the calendar, I can confidently tell you that summer has arrived in South Carolina.  Hot temperatures and the bright sun make daily outdoor adventures with small children a little more challenging than usual.  One of the biggest challenges is that little ones are more sensitive to the sun than grownups.  Children get overheated faster than adults and can be more susceptible to heat stroke and heat exhaustion.  This doesn’t mean that you have to stay indoors all summer if you live in a hot climate though.  It just means that you need to take some precautions, like taking plenty of water breaks and adjusting the times of day you are outside. In our family, we like to go to shaded parks early in the morning before the heat of the day hits.  The kids can all play for awhile in the cooler temperatures and then take a break for a picnic lunch.  I always make sure to pack plenty of cold water and ask my son to take plenty of breaks before we stop for lunch.  We use a camelbak backpack so he can just run up to me, take a couple of sips, and quickly get back to the business of playing.  After lunch, we usually head home for a homemade popsicle (just his normal green smoothie frozen in a mold), a shower to cool off and erase the grime of park play, more water, and a nap. As the weather gets warmer, these brief mornings outside just aren’t enough, but the afternoons can be too hot to be outside, even if we are playing in the water.  This is when we really try to make sure to get in our after dinner family walk.  We can put our son in the jogging stroller with some water and an after dinner treat (usually some fruit or a carrot) and get a little more outside time as it begins to cool off.  When he was younger, we put him in his Ergo, Moby, or Boba carrier and set off.  As he has grown, he likes these evening strolls in his stroller (probably because this is the only time we ever use a stroller).  The walk helps our son to begin calming down before bedtime and lets the adults get some exercise.  Best of all, the whole family can enjoy some good conversation during the walk....
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Infertility is Life Changing

Infertility is a disease Infertility affects 7.3 million US adults Infertility treatment is effective for about 65% of couples Infertility is only required to be covered by health insurance in 15 states Infertility is lonely Infertility is heartbreaking Infertility is a reminder of our weaknesses Infertility is a reminder of our strength Infertility is life changing   When friends of ours told us they were suffering with infertility, my husband responded sensitively and with years of experience.  He reminded his friend that we are here if they want to talk, but that we respect their need to remain private and secluded.  They asked us not to tell anyone and we wouldn’t – it is not our journey to share.  Nate also let them know that our infertility journey changed us, it has impacted who we are today, how we parent, and the choices we have made in our life since our son was conceived and even before his conception.  Our friends have been struggling in private, like so many couples do, in part because our society has yet to acknowledge the widespread nature of this disease. Infertility has a stigma attached to it and many people think that if a couple will simply “relax” then “it” will “happen”.  Just relaxing does not fix endometriosis, low sperm count, poor motility, hormone imbalances, low progesterone levels, autoimmune factors, or so many of the other factors related to fertility.  Unfortunately, it seems that everyone knows someone who has been able to “just relax” and get pregnant.  Or knows a couple who has adopted and then unexpectedly gotten pregnant.  Please understand that when we are talking about infertility, yes calming the mind and body is important, but it will not fix the underlying causes of this disease. We need to remove the stigma surrounding infertility and learn to support those going through the pain of the disease.  You can start today by doing a couple of simple things: When you encounter a couple without children do not ask when they are going to start their family or tell them that they have plenty of time.  Similarly, please don’t tell them that parenthood and pregnancy can be awful.  You have no idea if they have been suffering through infertility and would give just about anything to be a parent, to be awake every night rocking their sleepless baby. If you see a parent who...
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Transforming your favorite cold weather comfort foods

I don’t know about you, but as the weather turns colder I crave comfort foods.  Those foods that warm your whole body from the inside out and the outside in.  The foods that make you think of warmth, that smell warm, and that are warm.  Unfortunately, I struggle with making sure I am adopting healthy comfort foods.  I think about crock pot spaghetti sauce, holiday cookies warm from the oven, hot chocolate (usually in combination with those warm cookies from the oven), homemade soups, calzones, and the list could go on.  These foods, the way I traditionally make them, are not very healthy.  They often lead to overeating and a general feeling of “ugh!” afterward. I would like to share with you a couple of the strategies that I use to prevent that “ugh!” feeling while still getting the comfort food effect I crave in the colder months. Swap a high fat meat for a leaner source of protein.  I make spaghetti sauce in the crock pot using my mother-in-law’s recipe.  It calls for ground beef, canned tomatoes, onion, green pepper, bay leaf, tomato paste, garlic, and oregano.  I typically make a double batch and we freeze half for another week.  This is my husband’s favorite meal and we always overeat.  Recently I have started switching out the ground beef for ground white turkey.  The result is just as filling, just as comforting, but uses a leaner meat. Opt for “No salt added” products.  When we are adding products such as canned tomatoes, tomato paste, and stock to our meals we always make sure to use the “no salt added” version to control the sodium.  While the Sahara Desert is often quite warm, if your mouth and body feel like the Sahara Desert you will not be feeling very comforted after your meal.  Too much sodium, particularly right before bed will lead to a lot of water consumption during the night and probably multiple trips to the restroom (which means getting out of your nice warm bed) as a result.  I feel like this rule is more important in the winter months since so many more of our typical meals include some sort of stock or canned tomatoes.  By using “no salt added” products you can control the sodium content of your food and salt to taste if you choose to do so.  Obviously one of the best options...
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Eradicating excess (or at least making an effort)

I am participating in an online book club that my friend and colleague, Julia, facilitates at A Little Bit of All of It.  I have to admit that I didn’t read August’s book (the first for the newly formed book club) because I couldn’t get it in a Kindle or Nook version.  I really only get to read when I nurse during nap and bedtime, which makes an e-version of the book important.  So when it came time to vote for September’s book I checked to make sure there was an e-version of the book before voting for my choice.  The final book choice was 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess by Jen Hatmaker (affiliate link).  I purchased the Kindle version immediately and read half of the book in two days of nursing sessions. How did I feel halfway through the book?  Guilty. Let me back up and tell you a little about the book without giving away the really good parts.  Jen, through a series of events and variety of catalysts, decided that there was too much excess in her life.  She made a plan to limit several areas of her life.  She focused on one area each month for 7 months in hopes of growing closer to God, her family, and learning to live with less excess (which will help with her relationship with God and her family).  The 7 areas she chose to focus her efforts on were: food, clothes, spending, media, possessions, waste, and stress.  Her book is set up with daily (not every day is included) blog entries about her experiences, thoughts, struggles, etc.  She doesn’t do this alone though.  Her husband, a pastor, participates with her and she has a circle of girlfriends (The Council) who help guide her, support her, participate in some cases, and give her “exemptions” from the rules when needed.  This book is a recounting of her journey through the 7 months. Back to the feeling of guilt.  After telling Julia one night, as we were chatting on Facebook, that I was halfway through the book she asked what I thought.  Here was the very first thing that came to mind, Easy to read. Makes me feel guilty in a good way; I think. We have been struggling this summer with excess and the book brings it home even more. Ever since I became certified in L.E.A.N. our family...
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