Mother, May I...Yes, you may!

This has been a fun month for me. I had grand plans, I'm sure later I will still share my favorite things I have found to help with motherhood. But for now it's time to end this series.

When I was a new mom nine years ago I was so overwhelmed. Taking care of a child was not hard-no that's the easy part. I wasn't prepared for how exhausted my body would be after delivering a child. Or how absolutely bone tired I would be after nursing every other hour all night long for 5 nights in a row-but still have to be alert and attentive so my baby didn't get hurt.I didn't know that I could actually be touched too much in one day. I wasn't prepared for my heart to grow and be so mesmerized by a sleeping baby. Then she started to grow and things got a bit easier-we both adjusted to each other and then we wanted another baby-because they are just so fun.

Then my little guy came along. The pregnancy was great, everything and everyone was healthy-but the placenta was in the wrong place-so a c-section was ordered. All went well, but again I wasn't prepared to handle two small children. I felt guilty because I couldn't hold my second all day long like I did my first. I didn't bond immediately with my newborn-it worried me. My second baby was SO loud and high pitched compared to my first. He was hungry ALL the time! He wouldn't take a bottle and only wanted mom. It was a long first year. We didn't want more children. We felt our hands and hearts were full.
Once my little guy could talk and was potty trained I felt a huge burden lifted and actually wanted another child. To our surprise it took us 5 months to get pregnant-something that didn't happen with the first two. Then our little girl decided to come a month early. She was a tiny little thing and ended up in the NICU for 6 days. By 4 months she was had actually grown so much she was off the charts in height and continues to shock us with her growth.
Love those chubby fingers and hands.
 She was a good baby-and then we discovered she had curly hair! She is our little spitfire-and guess what? I'm not so stressed about parenting now. While I was in the hospital with her I knew that there was one more waiting to join our family. Just 22 months after our third we welcomed a perfect little girl. Thinking I had this newborn thing down we weren't prepared when we found out she wasn't getting enough food. She didn't gain any weight her first month-After lots of doctor appointments, a round of mastitis, and samples of formula our baby started gaining weight. It was so scary. She's still a little on the small side compared to her siblings, but it's nice to have a little baby after having really big ones.
Enjoy the beauty your child create.
Here are 10 truths I have found while parenting:
1. I know that temper tantrums are usually just phases. Most things your child is going through are really just phases. You don't know it until you look back at pictures and realize your child hasn't played with his beloved Thomas for months.
2. Sleepless nights are not the end of the world-and most people really don't care that you only had 2 hours of sleep. 
3. Enjoy those little years-everyone says they go fast. But when you are in the thick of it you think those people are crazy. Trust me-once your first starts school you will wish those first five years back.
4. Life does get easier with each child-if you have built a good foundation. Brushing teeth and bedtime used to be such a hassle with our oldest two-but the now the youngest two think it is so fun and just jump right in line to get their teeth brushed.
5. Most children take about three days to adjust to something new. Like: crying it out, potty training, any new schedule. If you can stick it out and be strict about something new-give it a few days and suddenly your child will adjust.
6. Listen to your gut. You're the mom-not your friends, or your mom, or the internet, or well meaning strangers-Listen-if you think something is wrong with your child do something about it. If your doctor thinks your crazy get a second opinion.  When my kids are sick and I can tell that something just isn't right and I take them to the doctor--7 out of 10 times they have an infection and need meds. If your at a playdate and your gut is telling you this isn't right for your kid-make up some excuse and get out of there. My oldest loved playdates-my second just clung to me the entire time. We stopped going to playdates for a while, he was happier and I was happier.
7. Get outside with your kids. We've worked hard to make our backyard beautiful and safe for our family. Most of the time I send my kids out back to play-I try to get out there as much as possible. I'm not a hovering type of parent. So when I go out and they are playing I will weed the flowerbeds or tend to the yard. During the summer months and any time it's warm enough during the rest of the year we try to take evening walks. We have a special spot we walk to as a family. It's a time that is free from distractions and allows us to be together and enjoy nature.
8. Change your perception of reality and perfection. I remember being a grumpy person when I didn't get enough sleep, my children were fighting, my house that I had just cleaned was in ruins, and my husband wanted more attention. I was mad that life wasn't fair. As I was working out one morning I had the realization hit me-If I don't change my attitude about my life I will always be grumpy. So I changed- suddenly having children was not a burden. Changing endless diapers and wiping faces and hands was not a burden. Yes, my house was never perfectly tidy-but it will be someday when my kids are older.
 I needed hooks in our drop zone-it's not pinterest perfection...I love it! The kids put their backpacks up and it has helped control the mess.
9. Keep your expectation high for your children. Children are amazing and resilient. They can also meet high expectations. Yes they are children they can't sit still for hours on end-but they are smart and amazing. If you expect your children to be loud, messy, and picky they will be. If you expect them to be obedient, tidy, and well mannered they will be. There is a caveat: know your child-don't expect so much that they are crushed with perfectionism. 
10. My mother often says this: this is their first time being a child and your first time being a parent. Learn together and be open with your feelings, frustrations, and your love. Sometimes a long hug will cure all.

 I'm not a perfect mother, but I try to be the best mother for my children.
This picture is from mother's day-it's one of my favorite of my children.


Mother May I...Baby Shoes

When it comes to baby shoes I really have to put limits on my spending.  There is just something about those chubby little toes.

For this post I've separated the shoes into crib shoes (aka non walking to toddling) and to toddler shoes. All of my children have worn each of these types of shoes-obviously my little guy has had to have his own handsome shoes. We love them and I recommend them to anyone who asks. All of the shoes mentioned below come in boy and girl options-I just picked girl shoes to show this time.

First up crib shoes:

Crib shoes are the shoes with a slim soul. Some experts say you want your children to learn to walk barefoot--but for those of us who live in a cold climate we need to cover their toes.

Pedipeds Originals:
  • Some of my favorites. They are so cute. They come wide-but you don't have to order in wide. The maryjane strap is positioned well so it doesn't cut into the babies leg.
  • They have boy and girl styles
  • The quality is amazing
  • Style: they have some fun shoes and also classics
  • The price isn't too bad for these $35
Freshly Picked Moccasins:
  • Cute! These are a lot like robeez..just cuter and a classic.
  • Warm. These keep toes and feet warm
  • Hard for baby to pull off. When they are the right size a baby has a hard time pulling these off.
  • Leather! These just get softer with use.
  • Price. These are on the high end for price at $60 a pair-but you can find knock offs for around $15. Just remember you pay for what you get.
  • Unisex: if you get a brown or bronze it would work for a boy or girl-making these great to pass down to siblings.
Once your baby starts to walk then run you should move up to something with more of a soul-unless you are going to clothe them in moccasins for the rest of their life. Your child will need to get used to a thicker soul-and as their foot develops they will need more arch support. I call these baby shoes-the souls are super thick but they give good support.

Squeaky Shoes-Sophie's Chiq Boutique
  • Squeak! As your toddler runs away from you give them a little freedom with a squeaky shoe. On the normal shoes the squeakers are removable.
  • Leather-most of the shoes on this site are leather
  • Price.  Most of the shoes are $15
  • The toe box is wide-great for those wiggly toes
  • Cute! Check out the site and see the cute options
  • Boy shoes too! I bought several pairs for my boy-he was a runner. He got a lot of compliments because his shoes were very cute.
Stride Rite Booties-
  • Classic-I've pictures of myself in shoes like these when I was a baby. Stride Rite has a lot of different options for the white bootie.
  • Leather-Once again, leather shoes are great. They last forever, can be polished, mold better to the shape of a foot
  • Wide-these come in wide widths. Three of my four kids have wide feet-one has thick feet. Stride Rite has a good selection of wide shoes.
  • Price: $44. Not too bad. Just check in on black friday for the best deal of the year.


Mother, May I...Strollers

After a recent trip to my mothers house I realized how much I like my particular double stroller. We have a double sit-n-stand stroller. We didn't take our stroller on the trip, but borrowed a different double stroller from my mom's neighbor. We were grateful to have a double stroller, but frustrated at how wide it was-we couldn't get through a few doors, and I hit my toddlers finger into a door jam trying to get through a door.

For those of you in the stroller market my advice: if you only have one child but are planning on having more sooner rather than later by a cheap one seater and save the big bucks for a double stroller. My first two are 2 1/2 years apart- my last two are only 22 months apart. We had a nice single stroller-loved it-as soon as we had two children we never used the single stroller again.
I don't have the BOB stroller-if anyone wants to give me one I would love it :D We do have a Sit N Stand-and have used it for 6 years now. Here's what I like about these two strollers:

1. The Baby Trend Sit N Stand Double Stroller:
  • Flexible: Both the front and back seats and be modified to hold infant carseats. The back seat has a harness strap-great when you have a toddler and a baby. When your older child is big enough remove the canopy and seat cushion for a bench seat. The then will be rear facing and have a foot rest-they can get on and off but have a parent right there pushing the stroller to make sure they are under a watchful eye.  Think of going to the zoo. Your little baby can't run up to the exhibit, but your three year old can and will want to. Instead of climbing in and out of a stroller they can simply jump off the back. There is a strap across the back to keep them safe and somewhat contained when needed.
  • Canopy: The canopies are sturdy and can come off both the front and back.
  • Trays: both trays can come completely off-great when you need to clean. I had to take the front tray off when I wanted to fit the stroller in the trunk of my corolla.
  • Weight: It's not too heavy, but it's not light weight.
  • Folding: It does fold down-but its a double stroller and it's not tiny. There are other double strollers that fold down more compactly. 
  • Weight limit: it can hold two children up to 50 lbs each-you will have awesome core muscles if you are pushing around 100 lbs of children.
  • Wheels: the wheels are 8 inches in diameter and don't need to be inflated.
  • Narrow: as mentioned above this is a huge selling point for me. This stroller is long and narrow-I have never had a problem going through a door-other than holding it open trying to get a long stroller through. After experiencing a stroller that was too wide-I would go for a front and back double over a side-to-side
  • Price: $214..I paid just under $200 for this stroller 6 years ago.
2. The BOB Revolution Double Stroller:
  • Smooth: This stroller is so smooth. With the big wheels and suspension system-makes it sound like car. If you are into really long walks or jogging this might be your best bet.
  • Accessories: Good and Bad. It has a lot of accessories that you can purchase. A cup holder, a carseat adapter, rain cover, snack tray, handlebar console. The fact that you have to purchase these in addition to bothers me a bit. I can see the carseat adapter and the rain cover-but a cup holder? If you're going jogging you probably need somewhere to put your water bottle.
  • Easy Fold: Some comments say it's easy to fold, others say it's too hard. I generally keep my kids in the car while I get my stroller out, and put the kids in the car while I'm folding it and putting it away. 
  • It's wide-yes it will fit through most doorways-but you have to go slowly to make sure you don't hit the doorjam and wake a sleeping baby.
  • Price: $536...people love their BOB strollers    
I would love a BOB stroller just for jogging-but probably would buy another Sit N Stand if I ever buy another double stroller.


Mother, May I...Highchair

Last time I wrote about my picks for a great diaper bag. This time I wanted to discuss another big ticket item: the Highchair.

A highchair not only costs a lot, but it takes up a huge amount of space. I do have a highchair that straps to a chair-it's great and works well for my almost 3 year old. But for my babies I have loved having a highchair-especially one with wheels.  I'm going to feature two-one that I have actually used everyday for the last nine years, and another one that is pricier and not so bright.

1. The Fisher-Price Rainforest High Chair. It's not the most neutral of high chairs, but I love it-here's why:
  • Pad:Yes the pad is very bright-but it's soft, and very easy to clean. And all of my children have liked the bright colors. 
  • Tray: the tray is easy to clean and easy for an adult to take off. As my kids get older they have figured out how to take the tray off themselves-at this point we usually push the chair up to the table.
  • Wheels: when I'm trying to make dinner and my baby wants to be near me I put her in the chair and pull the chair close to me in the kitchen. The wheels lock easily-which is good and bad. Good when you don't want other children pushing the chair around the house. Bad when you try to push the chair and realize all the wheels have been locked.
  • Attachable toy. The big spinning toy actually attaches to the tray. Your baby won't be able to throw it to the ground. We have enjoyed this a lot. 
  • Chair: the chair can actually recline. This is great when you have a 3 month hold who can only hold their head up. I don't start using a high chair until my infant can hold their head up. The reclining chair is great too when your one year old falls asleep mid bite and you want to finish your lunch before taking them up to the crib.
  • 5-point seat belt: why would you need a 5-point seat belt on a high chair? So you can keep your child in the high chair when they don't want to be in the high chair. You can take the straps off and wash them when they get dirty.
  • Foldable: You can collapse the legs-it doesn't make it super small, but small enough to fit in a trunk.
  • Height: the chair height is adjustable. We've used it in all different heights. Great when you need it more as a booster seat for a toddler, or when your baby is throwing a fit to be by the other kids at the little kids table. 
  • Price: $120. I got this high chair for a lot less many years ago. I know it was on clearance at Target when I got it because they were changing the tray handles and clearing out that model year.
2. The Keekaroo High Chair
  • Neutral: So many parents want the baby things to be neutral in color so it can look good and blend in with the house. Stained rubberwood is about as neutral as you can get.
  • Design: This is a well designed high chair. It is meant to grow and adjust with your child. It can support up to 250 lbs! 
  • Accessories: the tray, padded seat, or booster and all accessories. You can buy the chair with or without them.
  • Lightweight: in the reviews of this chair people commented on how light this was for a wood chair. Which is great when you need to move it and hold a child at the same time.
  • Price: $203-$239 depending on what accessories you want with it.
When you are looking for highchairs go to a store and play around with them. Make sure you can get the tray off easily-when your child is choking and you can't get the tray off it is very frustrating.
Once again, hope this helps.


Mother, May I...Diaper Bag

When I had my first child, nine years ago, my husband was just finishing school and we were heading back home to live by family.  We were looking at a huge amount of student loans and the housing market was out of control expensive.  Needless to say we didn't have a lot of money to buy what we wanted for our new baby.  Instead I tried to find the best deal on what we could afford.  Which sounds great and all-but now that I look back on a few purchases I wish I would have worried more about the quality not so much the price tag.

With my first child I bought a cute diaper bag at Target-and Eddie Bauer tan bag (the hubs didn't want anything too cutsie just incase he had to walk around with it)  Guess what? The bag didn't even last 6 months. I guess I didn't realize how much I would be using it.  Then when the second child came I bought a HUGE bag. The bag was great and I still have it, it's so big that it hurt my shoulders and back to carry it and a child. We still use it when we go on road trips-but we usually don't carry it around with us.

After talking to other mom's and seeing what they carry I have found two diaper bags that I would have loved. (I have links to Amazon-they are not affiliated links)
1. The Skip Hop bag-this bag is great and a great price.  Here's why I like it:
  • Straps convert into stroller straps. You can change the straps to two separate small straps and hook them on to the handle of your stroller. It keeps your bag in sight and in reaching distance.
  • Pockets! Lots of pockets in all different sizes
  • Short handles and one long strap. I don't like bags with two long straps-I've spilled lots of things thinking that I had my bag only to find out I have one of the two handles as everything spills out.
  • Material-the material is sturdy and well constructed
  • Price-this bag is about $60-I'm sure you could find a coupon at Babies-R-Us to get it cheaper-I've spent more on four different diaper bags-like I said up top..quality over price.

2. The Ju-Ju-Be Diaper Bag. I LOVE this bag-wish I had it. Here's why it's awesome:
  • Fabric: The outside is Teflon treated-hello spilled milk or projectile spit-up. Your diaper bag doesn't have to look like the front of your shirt.
  • Mommy pocket: What, you don't want your toddler asking to open a tampon thinking it's a popsicle?!? 
  • The top zips shut: This helps keep little hands out and the important stuff in.
  • Straps: These are why I love this bag. The straps can clip on to different hooks around the bag to make it into a shoulder bag or a BACKPACK! I know you can just have a backpack as a diaper bag-but most backpacks are seriously lacking in pockets and are way too deep to keep organized for me. I can't count how many times I needed both of my hands free to grab two screaming kids-or when I've bent over to tend to a child and they get smacked by the diaper bag as it slides off my shoulder.

    • Price: this is the hard part to swallow...$165. Need I say more about that?
    Those of you just beginning your motherhood journey, good luck! Hope you enjoy the rest of my Mother, May I...series.

    Mother, May I...

    It's MAY! I'm excited to share a little project I've been working/thinking about for a while. I'm going to give lots of advice, tips, tricks and tidbits I've learned in the last 9 years of being a mom. I know many more of you have lots more experience-if you're like me and love to read what others have gone through and what helped them then stay tuned this month:

    This first week I'm going to be sharing what has helped me survive and thrive through the birth and toddlerhood of 4 babies. Though my youngest is barely one and just started to toddle- I still think I have found some things to really help any parent.

    I'll post later today with my first installment.

    Happy May Day!
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