First Birthday Letter To My Second Daughter

First Birthday Letter To My Second Daughter

 

My daughter is now almost 2 years old, but I wanted to share the write up I did for her first birthday. Enjoy! 

Happy 1st birthday baby girl! This past year was filled with so much chaos, but in the most joyous way. It doesn’t even seem possible that you are already a year old. You grew so much faster than I ever imagined you would.  

You are incredibly smart, maybe even a bit too smart. You hit every milestone way ahead of time and I am so proud of you for it. I do wish you would have slowed down some so I could savor the tiny baby phase a little longer. Time is certainly fleeting.

Your first word was “mama” -Woohoo! But you didn’t stop there. You also love saying “dada”, “baba”, “let’s go”, “uhh ohh”, “no”, “wa-wa” and “oww”. You say “hi” and “bye” while waving your hands. You also love clapping your hands together and saying “yay”, which I must admit is the most adorable thing ever.  

On top of being a smarty pants, you are stunningly beautiful. You have the most gorgeous crystal blue eyes I have ever seen in my life. And that smile of yours can melt even the coldest of hearts. Every person who sees you stops and admires you. However, the most beautiful trait about you is your personality that you illuminate to the world. 

If there was an award for the most easy-going baby, you would win it without a doubt. You go with the flow in nearly every situation…except getting into your car seat; you HATE that thing. Aside that, you play independently when I’m busy or helping your sister, eat everything that is put in front of you and go to bed every night without a fuss. Did I mention you had 0 sleep regressions? – Que the victory trumpets! You made the transition from 1 to 2 children a breeze and I can’t thank you enough for that.

There is no question that your favorite person in the world is your sister. You LOVE your sister. All day long you follow her around and emulate everything she does. You both play so well together and have an incredible bond that makes my heart burst with joy. She is crazy about you too. I am over-the-moon excited to watch your relationship grow.

The old saying about having a second child is true: Your time will split but the love will double. I love everything about you. I love how excited you get when your favorite songs come on. I love how you smile at the world without being asked. I love how when you are finished eating you blow raspberries at me and turn your head away. Even though I wish you would cuddle with me more often, I love that you are always on the move and discovering the world around you. 

It has been amazing to experience the baby phase all over again with you, but it’s also bittersweet because all your firsts are our family’s lasts. Even though I’m saddened, I’m looking forward to this new chapter with you and watching you grow. You are becoming such a beautiful person inside and out. You are so unique and I am incredibly proud to be your Mommy.

p.s. We did it again Joe! I think we mastered keeping babies alive. Thank you for being such an incredible father to our girls and riding on this crazy parenting train with me. 

 

17 Diaper Bag Essentials

17 Diaper Bag Essentials

 

It’s no secret that when you become a mom you pretty much take the entire house with you when you leave to go anywhere.  It seems like a lot of things to take with you, but you will become a pro at it in no time, I promise. 

First and foremost, you are going to need a diaper bag.  It is the most essential thing you can get when you have a baby and/or a toddler.  I happen to have 2 diaper bags that I lug with me, one for my baby and the other for my toddler, because….well….they both need different stuff. I purchased the RUVALINO Large Diaper Tote and it is by far the best and most stylish diaper bag I could find. If you open my handy dandy diaper bags you will find: 

1. Diapers of course! For my baby that is.I usually pack at least 12-15 diapers for an 8 hour period. I never use them all, but it’s better to have more than not enough. To save some money on diapers, I recommend buying them in bulk.

2. Baby Wipes.  Even if you have a totally potty trained toddler, you should still carry baby wipes, or some kind of cleaning wipes. 

3. Portable Changing pad (for baby). I have been in situations where there wasn’t a changing table around and I ended up using my sweater to lay her down on instead. Avoid those “what do I do now” scenarios with a portable changing padJust for the record, some diaper bags come with a portable changing pad as part of the package deal. 

4. Disposable Diaper Bags.  No trash nearby? No problem! I use disposable diaper bags all the time, even at home to keep dirty diaper smells contained. Not only do the help contain dirty diaper smells when you don’t have a trash nearby, they are also good to use for dirty clothes.   Toddlers can have “accidents”, so if I am out of the home I would put her wet clothes in the nicely scented bag and grab the change of clothes I packed for her.  Which leads me to my next essential item.

5. Change of clothes! I can’t tell you how many times my kids get dirty in some form or another. So for both my girls I have 2 sets of spare clothes, JUST IN CASE.

6. Bottles or Sippy Cups. If formula feeding, formula is only good for an hour after it’s made. So what I did was fill my Avent bottles up with water and then add the formula afterwards when my baby was hungry. This kept the formula bottles fresh. BUT if you are like me, I exclusively pumped for the first 3 months. Luckily, expressed milk lasts longer in room temperature. Ideally it should be used within 4 to 5 hours, but you could extend that time up to about 8 hours.  I never went anywhere that long with my baby, so it was never an issue staying in that timeframe. I don’t really need to explain what to put in sippy cups, right? Okay, moving on. 

7. Snacks! Make sure you bring snacks. I pack snacks for both my girls, age appropriate options of course. This is probably the most important thing to your kid, so DO NOT FORGET IT.  It doesn’t matter if you are leaving the house for 10 hours or 10 minutes. Always bring a snack or 2, or 3. 

8. Lotion. Not much to say on this one, but I pack this because my girls tend to get dry skin in the winter months.  I use Aveeno eczema cream and it works like a charm.

9. Sun screen.  Definitely an essential during the summer months.  Kids love playing outside and the last thing you want is for them to get burnt. They may hate putting it on, or at least my kids do, but it’s very much worth it. They will thank you someday for not having skin cancer.

10. Travel Tissues. Because boogers, right?  That is all.

11. Toys/Comfort Toys. My kids both have a blanket and a stuffed bear they bring everywhere. Heaven forbid we forget the take those with us.  I also pack another toy or toys for entertainment, depending on where we are going and how long.

12. Band-Aids. Kids are klutzy little humans.  It’s a good idea to have Band-Aids on hand for those “boo-boos” that can’t be healed with your kiss. 

13. Diaper Rash Cream.  You know, to sooth that little baby butt if it needs soothing! Keep some cream on hand just in case you got a little red bum to take care of.

14. Burp cloths. I’m almost positive you would rather your baby’s spit up to be on a burp cloth than down the back of your shirt, right? If you choose to disregard this one, make sure you bring a change of clothes for yourself too.

15. Bibs. Babies are messy eaters. Bibs will help catch the fallen food, but I can’t guarantee it will catch all of it. You have been warned.

16. Hand SanitizerThis is something I use mostly for myself to kill those pesky germs because I am handling my kids all the time.  So no, not a diaper bag essential, but definitely a purse/car essential!

17.. Medicine. I pack Baby Tylenol, toddler cold medicine and Baby OrajelFor the record, the baby orajel can be a lifesaver for a cranky teething baby. If you are bringing your kid(s) to a daycare make sure the daycare provider has a license to distribute medication.

This does look like a lot of things, and as you go through the motions you will probably come up with a few more items that you will want to keep handy.  Like a breast pump and nursing pads for example, which I most definitely needed the first 3 months. Anyways, I hope this list helps you get the ball rolling at the very least.  Happy diaper bag prepping!  

The Art of Potty Training – Tips and Tricks

 The Art of Potty Training – Tips & Tricks

 

 

If you have a toddler who is more than capable of using the potty, but too stubborn to comply, then you have come to the right place. Potty training is as much of a blessing at it is a curse. Having a hard headed toddler sure does make potty training a super ultra-hard CHORE.  She knows what she has to do, she gets the concept, but she just would not go because I was the one telling her to do it.  After tons of attempts and tons of failures, we have finally gotten to a point where she is about 90% potty trained. Hallelujah!  It has been a power struggle, but we are making ground.  Here is a list of things that I have tried and what did/didn’t work for us.  

DID NOT WORK

Pull Ups – They work the same way as a diaper.  It is only convenient for the parent so they can pull them up and down easier.  It gives no incentive for the child to use the potty.  My daughter figured this out quick, so needless to say we only tried this for a few days before calling it a bust.

Forcing – This just makes kids retaliate, especially if they are as stubborn as my daughter. It makes for a very negative experience and that is something you should avoid all together.  I mean, how would you like it if someone was forcing you to do something you didn’t want to do?  You would probably be pretty pissed off.

Starting Too Soon – I thought I would start before 2 years old because I know of other kids who have been fully potty trained by that age.  Even though those kids might have been ready, mine wasn’t and I should have waited before trying to introduce that to her.  All kids are different, so wait until yours is ready.  Some signs include:

  • Pulling at their diaper
  • Hiding to go pee or poop
  • Showing interest in other people using the potty
  • Waking up in the morning with dry diapers
  • Telling you they are going in their diaper or
    that they have to go

Playful Potty – I bought a cute little training potty.  It was green with little eyeballs on the front.  My daughter did not want anything to do with it.  It actually freaked her out more than anything. We still have it, but it is currently collecting dust in a storage closet until I get the motivation to get rid of it.

Not Being Consistent – This one is entirely my fault. I would try potty training and when something didn’t work I would just give up for months at a time before trying something else.  I wasn’t consistent and I’m sure it confused my daughter because one minute I’m telling her we need to use the potty, and the next I’m telling her just to use her diaper and it was fine.

Sticker Charts – I thought this one would be a no brainer because of how successful other parents have been with it.  Basically, if your kid goes potty they get a sticker, or some kind of present.  Mine did not care about this at all.  She would want the sticker, but if I told her she had to use the potty first to get it, she dismissed it all together and played with something else.  Stubborn to the max.

WHAT WORKED (for us)

Start When They Are Ready –  As listed above, when your kid is showing the signs of being ready, that is when you should start your potty training journey. This makes all the difference than starting too soon. 

Cold Turkey – This worked way better than pull ups.  It took about 2 weeks of accidents, but she finally got the reality of “if I pee in my pants, I will get wet and uncomfortable”.  This one was hard to be consistent with because all I wanted to do was not clean up pee and poop every day for 2 weeks, but I held my ground and it turned out to be worth it in the end. 

Realistic Toy potty – The playful potty didn’t work, so I ended up buying the My Size Potty, which is much more realistic looking than the last one I purchased.  It actually looked like a potty and it even makes flushing noises!  My daughter loves this one and she primarily goes on it instead of the regular potty with the seat cover. 

Make It A Positive Experience – The more positive you make this experience the better.  Every time my daughter goes on the potty I tell her how proud I am of her and we give each other a high five. My daughter is also obsessed with school busses, so whenever she goes on the potty I tell her she is a big girl now and can ride a school bus. She gets over the moon excited about that. Positive reinforcement works wonders!

Keep Asking & Reminding – Frequently ask if they have to go potty. I would dillegenty ask my daughter every hour or so if she needed to use the potty. 9 out of 10 times she would tell me no, but after seeing her down water earlier makes my mommy senses tingle. Sometimes I let it slide and then ask again a bit later, but other times I tell her that we need to try anyways and we go.  Usually she will go, even if it’s just a little bit.  A lot of the times my daughter is playing and doesn’t want to stop what she is doing, which is why I like to break her away from it every so often to avoid accidents. 

Consistency! – Consistency is key.  No matter what route you choose, make sure you are consistent with it.  Don’t try going cold turkey one day and then put them in a pull up the next. It will just confuse the heck out of them. If something is not working then of course switch it up, but if something is working make sure you are following through with it.  

Please remember that every child is different.  What works for one may not work for another. The biggest thing you should take away from this is no matter what you do, be consistent and only start training when your child is ready.  The rest is trial and error.   No matter how frustrating it can be to potty train, I can promise you that your child will get there at their own pace.  Be patient, be positive and be consistent.

10 Ways Relationships Change When You Become Parents

10 Ways Relationships Change When You Become Parents

 

Relationships tend to suffer once children come along and my husband and I are not immune from that statement. Our relationship changed drastically after we became parents and I was nowhere near prepared for it. Why did the man I was so deeply in love with turn into someone I was always angry at? My entire pregnancy I was preparing for the arrival of our daughter that I neglected to prepare for the changes my husband and I would go through. I was naive to think things would be exactly the same. There were times where I was wondering if we were even going to make it. But in the end we did and we came out stronger than ever.  It just took some work and a mutual desire to grow together during this new chapter of our lives.

So onto the meat and potatoes, here are some ways relationships change after you become parents. Hopefully it can somewhat prepare you for what is to come. 

Related posts:

Scheduled Sex

Say goodbye to spontaneous sex. If you don’t schedule it (at least for me) then it will never happen. We love each other very much, but sleep is more of a priority at this point.  After working our day jobs and then coming home to the kids, by the time they go to bed we are ready for bed ourselves. It’s not exactly as exciting as it used to be, but for now this is what we have to do.  To put some light on it, scheduled sex is way better than no sex!

Parenting Styles

Luckily for me and my husband, we are on the same page with parenting styles. But for many couples parenting styles clash. Maybe dad says no to something but mom says yes, or vice versa.  This could not only confuse your child but cause pretty large arguments between you and your spouse.  Get on the same page and parent together.  Having this talk and setting rules before the baby comes would be the most beneficial.

Date Nights

Date nights have now become far and few in between. If we neglect to schedule a date night then we could go months without going out or doing anything together. One thing that has helped us is we started to schedule a couple date nights a month and we stick to it. It’s so easy to forget about something like that but it is so important to stay connected and be reminded that you are more than just Mommy and Daddy.

Lack Of Sleep

I will be the first to admit that only sleeping for 4-5 hours a night made me a super grumpy person and my husband was always the one to feel the wrath from that. Lack of sleep makes even the most patient person edgy. People tend to be less grateful when they aren’t getting enough sleep.  The best advice I can give here is try to prioritize sleep as much as you can. Give yourself a bedtime and make sure to share the nightly baby duty with your spouse so you both can get as much rest as you can.  Everything is better when you are rested.

Communication

I think one of the key things in having a successful relationship is communication. But once you have kids it can be very difficult to have meaningful conversations. Typically a conversation will start and stop a million times because one of the kids needs us. This leads back to the importance of having date nights. Funny part is that when we actually are able to communicate uninterrupted it’s usually about our kids. I guess we’re just a little obsessed with them.  

Household Chores

There have always been chores, but now it seems like chores take 10 times longer to complete than before. Dishes, laundry, trash. I used to have no problem keeping up with it all.  Now that I have little humans who take up 99% of my time, it can be easy to fall behind on that stuff.  Best advice?  Set some ground rules on who takes care of what.  You do the laundry and your spouse does the dishes. You vacuum and they take out the trash.  If you split the chores it won’t feel so overwhelming.  Remember, you guys are a team.

Money Matters

Money matters more than you thought. Money is a huge relationship stressor and is often overwhelming. Bottom line? KIDS COST A LOT OF MONEY. The cost of raising a child from birth to age 17 is $233,610 according to 2015 statistics.  My poor wallet. Worst part about money stresses?  I take my anxiety and frustration out on my husband. Thankfully we are now in a spot where we are more financially stable, but we still have to be careful.  We don’t buy the name brand clothing or all organic baby food.  We had to cut back on things in order to accommodate our larger family.  Everyone’s financial situation is different, so do what is best for your family and cut back where you need to.  Trust me, you can live without a Loui Vuitton purse.

Lovers or Co-Workers?

At times, parenting feels a lot like co-workers. Your job is taking care of kids and maintaining a household.  You both tag team the chores and the baby
duties and at the end of the day you give each other a high five and fall asleep, just to do it all over again. Between all the appointments and planning and cleaning and parenting, you may forget to stop for a moment and give your spouse a loving hug or kiss. It is so easy to get caught up in the routine that you forget to love your spouse in the process.  You guys need each now more than ever.  Don’t forget why you guys decided to do this journey together in the first place.  

You Might Hate Each Other

Sometimes, you might hate each other. Sometimes you will feel like your way is the best way and that everything your spouse is doing is wrong. You will bicker at each other and occasionally criticize their actions.   If you find yourself “hating” your spouse, try to remember why you chose to start a family with them to begin with. Remember the love you shared and realize that you both are trying as hard as you can. Give each other the benefit of the doubt and don’t sweat the small stuff.

You Will Grow Stronger

During all the chaos and messes and sleep deprivation, you will grow from this together.  You will see your spouse morph into a parent and it will be so beautiful and heartwarming.  You will see a side of them you never known existed and you couldn’t imagine doing this journey with anyone else. Though it is beautiful, it will be hard.  Some days you will get on each other’s last nerves and some days you will wish you had more time together.  But just remember that these days are numbered and sooner than you think you will have all the time in the world again. If you are both willing to put in the work towards your relationship, you will grow stronger than you could have ever imagined.  

Having children really is the ultimate test on relationships. You have to work together in ways you never had to before. It can be quite the adjustment and unfortunately many couples can’t withstand this hard phase and ultimately end up in divorce. But if you both are in it for the long haul you should have nothing to worry about. Just make sure to sneak kisses and hugs when you can, be kind to each other and grow with each other during this parenting journey. Remember that you are both in this together. You are a team. Someday your child(ren) will be grown and you will have each other all to yourselves again and ready to take on the next chapter of life hand in hand.

10 Ways Your Life Changes When You Have Kids

 10 Ways Your Life Changes When You Have Kids

It’s no secret that your life changes once you have a baby. Actually, my entire life has changed in some way or another, but here are the top 10 ways that becoming a Mom has changed my life.

What is Sleep?

You have a whole new definition of the word exhausted. Getting a good night’s sleep and feeling rested in the morning is a thing of the past.  The baby stage is particularly hard since they tend to get up frequently, but even my 3 year old gets up often from bad dreams.  “Sleeping in” is also something that is long gone. Why do kids love getting up at the crack of dawn? All I can say is thank goodness for coffee and Simply Skin Vitamin OIl.

New Appreciation

I now have a new appreciation for my own Mom.  She changed my diapers, stayed up with me at night, sacrificed a lot of herself for me and always put my needs before her own. As a child/teenager I often overlooked those things. Now I have a much clearer image of what her life was like when I was growing up and I am so appreciative for all she has done.

New Routine

Your daily routine is going to change, probably a lot.  You might have to wake up earlier and go to bed later.  You might have to plan dinner earlier so you can squeeze in bath time. Your once hour long showers turn into quick 5 minute ones.  It might be hectic for a while, but you will get into a new routine that works for you and your family. It’s like taking on a new job. You will be nervous, confused and a little uncomfortable at first but over time you will get in a routine and everything will become easier.

It’s the Little Things

The little things in life matter more now. Who knew that painting rocks or picking flowers could bring so much joy?  You now see things through the eyes of a child and it may even remind you of your own childhood. Some of my best memories as a child were not things that cost a lot of money or involved a huge vacation.  They were things like going mushroom picking with my Grandfather and going for bike rides with my Dad. Those things helped shape my life and created memories that I will cherish forever. Ever since becoming a Mom I now see more than ever that the little things really do matter the most.

Patience

Kids will test your patience on a daily basis and sometimes you will lose your S.H.I.T. You are human and have your limits. Even though that will happen, overall you will become much more patient than you ever thought you could be.  You learn to go with the flow and take one day at a time.  You will master the art of staying calm in the middle of a tantrum and not losing your cool when your child refuses to eat everything you cook them.  And let’s not forget about potty training; nothing is more of a patience tester than trying to potty train a stubborn child!  When you are put in situations where you would normally scream but instead remain calm and collected is when you will really see this change.

Friendships

The old saying is true; you do lose a lot of your friends once you have kids. The ones who promised to visit you after your baby is born never do and the ones who use to invite you to go out now stopped. But don’t think of this as a bad thing. It is a new chapter in your life and not everyone is meant to be in it. The friends who still stick around and are still there for you after you become a Mom are the ones you should keep close to you.  You may even create new friendships with other Moms!        

Changing Priorities

Things that use to matter to me don’t as much anymore. I don’t care about looking perfect before leaving the house anymore. Can you believe I use to do my hair and makeup just to go to Walmart?! Money I use to blow on clothes is now being saved for my kids college funds. A spotless house is no longer the top of my list of priorities. Chores will always be there, but your kids will only be small for such a short amount of time. I would rather spend that precious time with them.

Less Time For Yourself

You will cherish alone time more because you won’t get it very often. Peeing and showering alone is a luxury now.  Time you used to spend web surfing or watching TV is now being used to care and play with your kids. Even though I miss time alone, I wouldn’t trade this life of chaos for the world.   

You’re Scared Of Everything

The world seems more like a dangerous place now.  Those protective Mama instincts come in full effect and you become hypersensitive to everything that could possibly harm your child.  People you used just pass by are now on the corner of your eye.  You become much more cautious while driving. You may even notice yourself saying “be careful” 50+ times a day now.

Everything Takes Longer

Everything takes longer to do because it’s not just you anymore. Leaving the house is a process that becomes more than just grabbing your car keys and leaving. Going grocery shopping takes nearly double the amount of time than it used to.  All I can say about this is give yourself enough leeway time and always expect the unexpected, like your baby having a massive blowout the moment you pull out of the driveway. 

Yes, your life changes when you have kids.  Some of those changes are hard to deal with and others are eye openers on what actually matters in your life and what doesn’t. Life will be different, but welcome these changes and embrace this new chapter of your life. It is quite beautiful.

My FIRST Vacation with 2 Toddlers (I Survived)

My FIRST Vacation with 2 Toddlers (I Survived)

So let me tell you a story. 

We went on our first family of four overnight vacation. The picture perfect image I had was what you would see in a Hallmark movie. Kids are all having fun at the beach, everyone is smiling and laughing and my husband and I are in bliss with each other and soaking in the precious memories. 

All I gotta say is…perfect bliss and harmony my a$$.

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