Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Unpopular Parenting

When our kids were tiny, we thought only of their immediate needs. Feedings, diaper changes, naps, bath time, more feedings, more diaper changes... you get the idea. As they are starting to grow and develop into little men, though, my husband and I have noticed a shift in our thinking. Suddenly, we aren't as focused on their basic needs; instead, we're gaining more of a big-picture view of their growth and development. For the first time, we are starting to picture them as adults. As men. We are thinking about how we should raise them; what we want them (and don't want them) to learn early on. We are thinking about the expectations we have of them, and for them. Of the amazing people we know they have the potential to become, and what we can do to help them reach that potential.

As we think through these things, we are starting to make decisions - some big, some small - that we believe will benefit our children and help them as they grow into the people they are going to be.

Basically, we want to raise healthy kids. We want them to be healthy physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. As their parents, we believe we have a huge responsibility to point them in the right direction, and that is the root of the recent conversations we've had.

So, what exactly am I talking about? Well, let me start with some of the smaller things. We try to limit our boys' sugar intake. They don't drink sweet tea or full-strength fruit juices. We do buy apple juice, but we usually dilute it with water. Do we freak out if our kids are given a juice box or some other sugary concoction? No. "Everything in moderation" is the main idea here. We just don't want our children to be addicted to sugar. We also try to choose healthy snacks between dinner and bedtime. Our boys like to eat, and they like to snack. I don't have a problem with this, as long as they aren't fueling up on sugar right before it's time to go to sleep. We switch to milk or water, too, and save the juice for the daytime.

Another choice is that we don't watch age-inappropriate TV shows or movies in front of the kids. We don't have specific rules about TV time, but we do let our kids watch "their" shows occasionally. Even then, though, we try to choose things with educational value. Wallykazam and Bubble Guppies are the current favorites in our home. If the hubs and I want to watch something a little more grown-up, we wait until the kids are asleep. Unfortunately, this means that we don't get to watch "our" shows or movies very often, but it's a sacrifice we are willing to make to protect our kids' hearts and minds while we still can.

As far as the bigger decisions we've made... I feel like I need to start with a disclaimer. These are the choices we've made for ourselves and our children, and if you do things differently, please know that we don't feel judgmental toward you at all. Having said that, we have decided to be honest with our kids about Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, and any other mythical figureheads that may arise throughout their childhoods. This is for several reasons, the biggest one being that we just didn't feel right essentially lying to our kids. We both grew up with Santa, and it was fun while it lasted, but we would rather make Jesus Christ the central focus of Christmas, and especially Easter.

So, what does this mean for our kids? Will we deprive them of presents? Of Easter baskets filled with candy? Will we banish all images of Santa from our household? Will we forego the ever popular Christmas tree?!?

To answer those questions quickly: No, no, no, and no.

Again, our motto is "everything in moderation." We don't believe the idea of Santa is dangerous in and of itself, and we will certainly continue to give gifts at Christmas, and fun little baskets of treats on Easter morning. The way we see it, it's all about the way the gifts are presented, and the teaching of Biblical ideas and concepts that will color each holiday celebration. For example, we give gifts at Christmas because God sent us the ultimate gift by sending his son to be born, live, and die for us. The Santa story is a beautiful example of how to be selfless and find pleasure in giving to others. At Easter time, we decorate eggs to symbolize the new life we are given through Christ.

I realize our views may not be popular. We know people on both extreme ends of the spectrum. Those who will think we're crazy for not doing the Santa thing, and those who will think we're crazy for not going all-in and shunning anything "of the world." To those people, I would say that these are our convictions, and ours alone. We're okay with not being the cool parents in every regard. I'm willing to be unpopular for my kids' sake.

We sure aren't perfect, but we're doing the best we can. We love these crazy little people so much, and we want the best for them.

What decisions and sacrifices have you had to make for the benefit of your children? If you haven't thought about these things yet, I encourage you to. Please feel free to talk to me; I'm an open book and am willing to discuss any thoughts or questions you may have. We're all in this thing together, moms and dads!


Tuesday, April 8, 2014

I've been published!

This morning, I woke up to a tweet that told me an article of mine had been published over at What to Expect. It was a pretty great way to kick off this ho-hum Tuesday! In my article, I talk about meal planning ideas for working moms. You can check it out by clicking here!


Friday, April 4, 2014

Reid is 15 months old!

Well, he has been since March 18, but since I waited too long to schedule his well visit, we didn't see the pediatrician until yesterday. So here, my loves, is a long overdue update on my beautiful baby boy.

More to come soon, I promise! Work has kept me busy lately, and with two crazy boys at home (well, three including the hubs - ha), I don't have much time to write there, either. I miss blogging though, and have promised myself I'll make time to write more soon.


Monday, March 24, 2014

Newsflash: I can't do it all.

At the start of 2014, I committed to snap a photo every day, and to participate in the #CatchTheMoment365 challenge along with Nurse Loves Farmer. Well guys, I failed. For a while there I was posting one big weekly photo dump, and after a while I came to the realization that I was causing myself unnecessary stress over making sure I had taken my picture for the day. The truth is, our lives are so busy right now that I just don't have the time. While I'm not taking a photo a day, though, the challenge did inspire me to capture the little moments that I might not otherwise have thought to document. I'm going to continue to take photos and videos of the sweet (and sometimes not so sweet) things about our daily lives that I don't want to forget years from now. Like this clip of my boys playing together. I hope they always love each other as much as they do now.

If you'd like to keep track of the photos I do take, feel free to follow me on Instagram, where most of them end up. 

More to come. ♥


Thursday, February 20, 2014

Another Milestone

I didn't want to lump this in with my recent "another milestone every day" post, because I felt it deserved a post all its own. I'm finally ready to say it: Reid is done nursing.

I don't know why this makes me a little bit sad, but it does. In the moment, parenting a little one can feel like it's taking forever, but somehow that first year always manages to slip by. And then suddenly one day you realize you can't remember how your newborn smelled, or what it felt like to nurse him when he weighed just seven pounds. Suddenly you have a toddler. An independent, silly, clumsy, I-can-do-it-myself toddler. I'm not sure I'm ready for this!

Big brother busting in on a nursing sesh
Despite having to fight feelings of sadness, I am so proud of myself for making it almost fourteen months. Believe me when I say that breastfeeding for that long is not easy, especially when you're working full time outside the home.

There were so many days that I had to drag myself to the little conference room that HR let me use to pump. I felt a bit like a dairy cow. There were many times that I squeezed in an extra pumping session before bed, just to be sure my baby would have enough for the next day at daycare.

There was a NICU stay in the very beginning where I couldn't nurse my baby.

A lactation consultant who said within earshot that I may not be able to do this.

A hospitalization at 5 weeks for RSV, when I stayed by my baby's side day and night so that he could nurse on demand.

I had so many opportunities to throw in the towel and quit. And it would have been fine if I had just given in.

But I didn't.

I pressed on, wanting so badly to be able to provide my baby with breastmilk, wanting to prove to myself I really could do it.

And we did it.

At the end, I thought every time might be the last time. Reid was clearly not getting much milk anymore, and he wouldn't nurse for long. Still, knowing that our breastfeeding journey was nearing its end, I savored those moments with my baby. I snuggled him close and rocked him. At one point, I looked down at him when he unlatched himself and asked "are we done?" he smiled and said "all done." Oh, sweet baby. Please don't grow up too fast.


Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Guest Post: Do You Want to Go Play in the Thomas Bed?

“Do you want to go play in the Thomas (the train) bed?” is a question I am asked by my 3 year old son, Colin, a few times daily. And my response is almost always a resounding “Yea! Let’s go!”. Normally, it involves a game of pretend where we hide under the covers and talk about which animals may be wandering near us. For example, I’ll say, “oh my goodness…I think I hear a big bear!” and he’ll smile from ear to ear pretending that he heard the same. And I’ll say to him, do you wanna check and see if it’s close? He peeps out the covers and will make that judgment…”oh, it’s a BIG one!”. Then we’ll decide: should we hide and let him pass or “bam” him and make him go away? It’s a silly game, but he loves it so much that he’d rather do that than just about anything. 

Do I love it? Not necessarily. But I tell ya what I do love is the fact that I’m bonding with my son. I love that he loves it. And I take joy in knowing that we’re building a foundation, a relationship that starts at the most simple level. Playing pretend in his room.  As an adult, playing with your kids isn’t going to be the most stimulating thing for you and sometimes you’re going to be tired and you won't want to get out of your chair and stop watching Sports Center…especially when you KNOW they're about to show the highlights from the MNF game where Cam Newton broke 4 tackles in a sick 38 yard run for a TD....*ahem*…But as a man, and as a father you have the responsibility not to just discipline your children or be an authority figure (not singularly but one of two) but to show them love in the most sincere way possible. Let them see that you truly love them and you enjoy spending time with them. And to them, for now at least, that may be spending time playing in the “Thomas bed” hiding from pretend lions.

Many thanks to my darling husband, Justin, for this post. Love you, babe.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

A Milestone Every Minute

When you have two young children, it seems there is a milestone every minute. Just within the last couple weeks, Colin has become potty trained and Reid has started walking all over the place. Both changes seemed to happen almost overnight. As we learned the hard way last night, Colin does still need a pull-up at night, but he seems to be completely potty trained during the day. Yesterday he went into Wal-Mart and Hobby Lobby, and stayed dry in his underwear the entire time. It was amazing! I can hear my wallet breathing a sigh of relief, and selfishly, I am thrilled to pieces to only have to change one kid's stinky diapers instead of two.

And as for my sweet Reid.. he is really getting good at walking, but he is still a bit clumsy. Just yesterday he tripped over his own feet in the kitchen, fell flat on his face and got a bloody nose. I panicked, and was probably more stunned than he was, but it stopped after a couple minutes and then he took his bath and started playing like nothing had ever happened. Whew. These kids are going to turn my hair gray before I'm 30.

There have been some family milestones recently, too. We've joined a community group at church, for one. Colin skipped his nap and went a little nuts last week, which was the first meeting, but thankfully the group is led by a couple with four young daughters, so toddler tantrums and potty training aren't new to them. They really are super sweet and I think it will be good for us.

We also had several snow days this week, which is kind of crazy considering we live in South Carolina, where the weather is usually pretty comfortable this time of year. It reminded me of my hometown in Michigan, which was unexpectedly heartwarming.

I'm sure I'm leaving some things out, but I'm tired since Reid woke me up at 5 (and Colin woke up soaked in pee in the middle of the night) so I'll just show you the past week in pictures. Have a great week, friends!

1 - Commuting to work in the rain, the day before snowpocalypse.
2 - Babies in the tub. They almost always take baths together.
3 - We got about 3 inches of snow and ice this week!
4 - Thumbs up for Colin's first day in underwear with no accidents!!
5 - Snowy sunrise in our backyard. The snow and ice sparkled in the light.
6 - A rare moment of quiet play time.