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Friday, February 28, 2014

Parent VS Friend

Often in our society today the lines between parent and friend become blurred. On social media I often see "My daughter is my best friend!" While there is nothing wrong with saying that, is it really our goal as parents? For me, my goal as a parent is to raise my children in the Lord and to raise them to make good choices in their lives. To be examples to others and to be positive members of society as adults.

It is a struggle as a mom to not give in and become the friend. I love my children so much and it's not easy to tell them no. It's hard not to buy them every toy they could ever want! Sure I'd love to stay up late giggling with them. It'd be so relaxing to let them watch tv all the time! It would be far, far easier to let my children rule the roost. Keep them happy by giving them everything they desire. Be their friend by letting them have everything they want, whenever they want it.

I have been through times of personal struggle in my life that has made it even more difficult not to look at my children as a source of love for me. But that is not their role. They are not the parent, I am. And it's important to always keep that perspective. They need my love. They need my protection. They need my wisdom and guidance. Always!

Having Babywise in our lives has helped my husband and I to keep that line clear between friend and parent. We have structure and order to our day, everyday. Our children do not decide when they eat or when they sleep, we do. Babywise is family centered, not child centered. So much of the "friendship parenting" that takes place today is due to child centeredness. That is something we want to avoid in our home so we have focused on establishing Babywise principles from day one. 

Many aspects of Babywise help us to keep that balance of parent over friend. From the scheduling, to the eat-wake-sleep cycle we put in place, even to independent playtime. While my husband and I are always the leaders of our home, that doesn't mean that we don't still have fun in our family! 

Using Babywise and having that structure in our day actually allows us more freedoms and more ability to be that fun Mommy and Daddy we want to be! Yes, structure and discipline are so, so important. But so are creating loving, fun, lasting memories with our children. Since our children have structure in their lives, we know they will be happy when they are awake! They will be well rested and have full bellies and better be able to have those exciting memorable times with us! 

We travel a lot as a family and even when traveling we maintain our structure and routine and our expectations for behavior (you can read my post on Babywise travel tips here!) We spend a lot of time at home building forts, playing pretend, and even watching movies together. Even while doing those fun things, it is always clear that Mommy and Daddy are the decision makers while having fun together too! Sure, occasionally we let our children stay up a little late. Or let our older child skip nap. But it is not the norm in our home and is always because the parents discussed and decided it, not the children.

While I do not consider myself to be my children's friend, and I do not think others view me as a "cool mom," I am okay with that. I know that years from now my children will respect me for putting these boundaries in place for them and for raising them to follow the Lord's path. I know as they get older we will have plenty of time to be friends. My days of having to discipline, of needing to structure their days, of having to make their decisions will fade and then we will be able to be truly wonderful friends. I am looking so forward to that phase of life! Our hard work will pay off and we will get to enjoy our children as adults!!! What bigger blessing could life bring?

As the product of a more relaxed parenting environment myself, I know I look back and wish my parents had provided more structure for me in many ways. Sure we had plenty of fun, but there wasn't a clear parent/child relationship. Those friendship vs parenting lines were very blurry and I personally would have benefitted from a more clear distinction between the two. As an adult I am not what I would call "friends" with my parents in the ways I've seen other people my age be with theirs and I fully believe that if they had a more clear line as I was younger, then we would have a better relationship now that I'm older. 

I know as my children get older, it will be more difficult to not give in to the temptation of being that friend. I am thankful we are laying the groundwork now, when they are young, so we can hopefully survive the tougher years as easily as possible. I'm also thankful that there is a On Becoming Teen Wise book too :) 

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

FSU: Unconquered Season

Growing up we weren't anything close to what I'd call a "football family." We didn't even watch it on Thanksgiving. I don't remember ever watching a Super Bowl? It just wasn't our thing. My parents are both from the North and I don't think football is as important up there??? 

My Dad did graduate from FSU and loved the Seminoles. No, he didn't watch every game. I don't even remember him ever going to any. But he watched one game each season: FSU vs UF. And I have so many fond memories of that! If you have ever met my dad then you know when my dad likes something he goes all out. He has always been proud to be an FSU alumni and I grew up seeing Seminole stuff all over the place. He even wears an FSU ring :) 

Naturally I was always an FSU fan myself. And when I graduated high school I attended FSU!  I grew up with a pure hatred for all things UF. I won't wear orange and blue together. My dad even taught our dog, Christy, to urinate anytime he said "Go Gator." Classic huh ;) I always said I'd never be a "house divided" and one of the (many!) perks about Zach was that he was also a Seminole fan!!! It's funny because his dad is a UGA guy, his uncle loves the Gators, and Jordan is a Ga Tech fan. So we have quite the mix of college football fans in the family! I'm glad I married the Seminole though, for sure :)

This past football season was so awesome. I didn't watch a whole lot of the games myself, but I loved seeing ZACH so excited about the season. He became very obsessed with all things related to FSU football and was SO nervous each game. I really wanted to be able to find a way to get him to the National Championship game but once I found out that it was in California I gave up on that plan haha So instead he made plans for the night of the big game! He wanted to watch it with his best friends: Jordan and Mr. Rusty. That's all he wanted! And he wanted to "do it big" and have a feast of food and he wanted it to be our treat to everyone! So sweet of him huh?

Although the kids didn't stay up for the game, they were decked out hardcore in their gear. Britt insisted on wearing the jacket which was hilarious! She loves to run around the house and chant "Go Noles!" 

I have a friend who is an Auburn fan and she sent me a picture of her daughter in Auburn stuff so I texted her back with these pics:

We did turn on the pre-game coverage and let them watch a little of that. But y'all I just have SUCH issues with tv programming. Commercials are so inappropriate and I'm not gonna let the kids watch stuff unless we are sitting there with them and are able to fast forwarded through the inappropriate stuff. So they didn't see much haha. Zach wanted Kye to stay up and watch some of the game but he asks a LOT of questions and it was just too big of a game PLUS we were eating while watching and that added a whole different element of issues! So we put him to bed! 

Our cute Seminoles :)

Mr. Rusty snapped a family picture for us before bedtime :)
Kye was SO cute and SO pumped about it all and wore his jersey and face tattoo thing to school the next day to show his pride :)

I didn't plan to watch the whole game. It started SO late and I was still in my very tired phase of pregnancy...but oh my gosh that game!!!! How could anyone stop watching?!?! Mr. Rusty and Mrs. Charlotte did go home and totally regretted it!!! Even Casey, who goes to sleep at like 8 every night, couldn't be torn away! It was AWESOME. Zach was so funny and literally jumped on our coffee table twice. I was freaking out worried that it would break!

We were so pumped after the game that we had a hard time falling asleep too. Def an epic ending to an amazing season! I know it'll be a tough act to follow next year but I'm hopeful! And no matter what...we are ALWAYS Seminoles :) Win or lose! 

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

How to Start Babywise!

I have had several new mommy friends come to me recently asking how to actually get started with establishing a schedule with their newborns. Babywise recommends feeding on demand until 2-3 weeks old. I totally agree with this, but I also started from birth (yes, while at the hospital!) with introducing Babywise techniques with my daughter. You can read my tips for starting from birth in this post. 

Once the baby turns that magical 2-3 weeks old...then what?

Here is how I always recommend starting to set up the baby on a schedule:
  1. Pick a start time. It's crucial to have a start time to each day. I like to go by the book so I chose 7 am for my children since it is what all the Babywise books use in the sample schedules. It can be any time you choose, but your entire schedule revolves around this time. If your baby wakes before the awake time then it is considered a "middle of the night" feeding. Mine would often wake at 5:30. I'd feed, put back to bed, and re-wake at 7 to start my day.
  2. Wake to eat. It is okay to let the baby sleep an extra 15 min, when needed, but if it's time to eat then you need to wake the baby! I know how hard it is but it's important in order to establish the routine! Same with feeding early. It's okay to feed early if you think your baby is hungry but then adjust your schedule accordingly. I always tried to hold my babies off to eat until I was within the 15 min time window of their next scheduled feeding time. Remember that with nursing you need to have 8-10 feedings a day! 
  3. Eat-Wake-Sleep cycle. When the baby wakes feed him or her then keep the baby awake for some awake time. In the early days it can often be only just a few minutes but still have some awake time before putting them back to sleep. The only time you don't do this is in the middle of the night. After the last scheduled feeding for the day then put the baby to bed for the night and cross fingers they let you sleep! When the baby wakes for the night feeding keep it dark and quiet and try to keep them in sleepy mode as much as possible. Don't do any awake time before putting them back to their nighttime sleep!
  4. Continue to focus on full feedings. During the first few weeks I always encourage new moms just to work hard to get the baby to take a full feeding. Do whatever you have to in order to keep him or her awake while they eat!!! It's important to continue to do this once the schedule is in place. It will help make sure the baby will stay nice and full (and happy!) until the next feeding time! By this age most babies fall into a natural 2 1/2 - 3 hours between feedings (you calculate that time from the start of the first feeding to the start of the next one). 
  5. Keep the sleep hierarchy in mind. This is a big thing for me! Reading this post from Valerie's blog was truly a life saver. The most important goal is for the baby to SLEEP during sleep times. Ideally you want the baby to be in their crib to sleep but if you have to use the swing, help hold the baby to go back to sleep, etc then do it at this age in order to make sure sleep happens! My goal was to always keep the baby in the crib if I could so if they woke early I'd go in and simply touch them or make a quiet sound ("shhh"). If that didn't work then I'd pick up and comfort and put back down once they stopped crying. If that didn't work then I'd try the swing. If that didn't work then I'd try me holding them until they went to sleep. I tried to "interfere" as little as possible but kept the ultimate goal of sleep in mind!
  6. Know the "sleepy cues." My daughter was a slow nurser and would, literally, only have a few brief minutes of awake time after nursing before she went back to sleep. If your baby yawns, gets fussy, rubs eyes, etc (here is a great post on sleep cues!) then it means get them to the bed and fast! If you miss the sleepy window then you have a baby who is overtired and overstimulated and who probably won't sleep.
  7. Have a good sleep environment. Make the place where the baby sleeps for naps as much like the night sleep conditions as you can. Get black out curtains to keep the room dark. Use a swaddle if you use one at night. Do the same routine before each nap (such as sing a short song, etc). Have a form of white noise that you use every time the baby is sleeping. By keeping the pre-sleep ritual consistent at all sleep times the baby will learn when they get swaddled and you start singing that song then it's time for them to sleep!
  8. Stay home. I know for many people it's a big sacrifice not to be out and about. I tell family and friends to get their fill of our new babies during the first couple weeks because once it's time to set up the schedule, we get strict about it! Just like with anything else in life, the more consistent you are with keeping the routine for your baby, the more successful you will be. At this stage the goal is sleeping through the night and it will happen sooner if you work hard these early days to get the schedule in place!
  9. Don't Cry It Out. I think often Babywise gets a bad wrap about cry it out but at this age it's not something you need to be concerned with at all. If your baby is crying at the start of nap then 90% of the time it's probably because the baby is overtired/overstimulated. Help the baby get to sleep (although it's fine to let them fuss a bit and see if they will fall asleep on their own too!) and know that next nap to make sure to put them to bed earlier! I like to write down when my baby shows sleep cues and try to actually start the bedtime routine process prior to the time when they start to show signs of being tired. That way they are ready to get in the bed exactly at the right time! You also don't need to do cry it out mid-nap yet. Again, the sleep hierarchy! If the baby wakes mid-nap then go in and soothe to get them back to sleep!
  10. Know the Wonder Weeks. If you've never heard of Wonder Weeks then you will be SO glad I just told you about them! It's so, so accurate! It is times when your baby is going through developmental leaps and knowing when they occur helps to know when your baby might struggle with sleep and be fussier than normal. During Wonder Weeks I did a lot more comforting than usual and just helped my babies get through the stage, once it passed things went back to normal with no issues.
  11. Cluster feed and dream feed. I do a combo of Babywise schedule along with the scheduling recommended in the book The Baby Whisperer Solves All Your Problems. I have my feeding times in the evenings closer together. This is typically a fussy time of the day any way for little ones so why not just keep them happy and fed? Plus by "stocking up" on eating close to bedtime, it helps the baby stay full longer in the night. The sample schedule in Babywise has a "late evening" feeding. This is also known as the "dream feed." You wake the baby to eat, but you don't have any awake time following this scheduled feeding. While I do a dream feed when first starting to schedule, I do think at a certain point it can cause issues with solid sleep. Both of my children, so far, slept through the night at 8-9 weeks old and it happened for the first time on nights I accidentally slept through the dream feed. Therefore, I typically stop doing them around that age! 
Here is a sample schedule from when my daughter was two-three weeks old:

7:00: start of the day, eat
8:00-8:30: awake time then down for nap
10:00: eat
11:00-11:30: awake time then down for nap
1:00: eat
2:00-2:30: awake time then down for nap
4:00: eat
5:00-5:30: awake time then down for nap
6:00: eat (this is a cluster feed, I would feed her close together in the evenings to help her load up on food and stay full for the night time. The evenings are also THE fussiest time of the day at this age so it makes sense to feed her and keep her happy!)
7:00-7:30: awake time then down for nap
8:00: do bedtime ritual (massage or bath) then eat. Put her straight to bed after this feeding
10:30: wake her up for her "dream feed" (this is one extra feeding before we go to bed to, again, help her stock up and hopefully sleep through the night).
Feed whenever wakes during the night (typically around 3:30ish)

When I first started Babywise with my first baby I had such a hard time because I felt like the book didn't go into enough detail. I didn't have a lot of people I knew personally who used Babywise principals to help me so I'm very thankful I found resources online. My main resources was Chronicles of a Babywise Mom. There is also a great Google Group set up where you can ask questions and a panel of fellow Babywise moms will help answer them! It's a wonderful tool! Of course any of the Babywise Friendly Blog Network bloggers are fabulous resources as well and I know I personally love to help whenever I can!

Here are some other blog posts that may also help you get started:

Monday, February 24, 2014

Playing in the Snow

Last year our local library hosted a Snow Day over Christmas Break and we had a GREAT time! I knew I wanted to make it a priority to do again this year. I even bought the kids hats and gloves so we'd be ready when the day arrived. For some reason they didn't do it as early as before and actually hosted it on Jan 3rd, which is Mrs. Charlotte's birthday. It ended up all working out so perfectly because we invited Casey and Jordan to come (of course!) and also invited Mrs. Charlotte and Mr. Rusty and we were able to spend time with Mrs. Charlotte on her special day! Courtney and her crew were out of town so I hate they missed out on the fun, I know Colt and Payton would have loved it!!!

Last year we rushed to get there right when the event started and we ended up having to wait forever while they blew the snow. So this year we just waited for the kids to wake up from nap and got there well after it was underway!
While leaving I handed Zach Kye's jacket and gloves to bring with us. Well guess what got left at home? Yup. Kye's jacket. And gloves. Ugh. I was SO mad. Mostly about the gloves because I wanted Kye to really be able to have fun and play in the snow and not worry about his hands being cold and wet. Mrs. Charlotte had a random jacket in her car so he wore that and I gave him my gloves to wear. Bless his heart he looked like a little ragamuffin. 

This picture is classic...not only because of Kye's style... 
Ready to play!!!

They had an area where you could throw snow balls and try to make it through the targets. I often catch Kye being taken advantage of for his kindness. It really warms my heart that he will continue to do the right thing...not only when no adult is watching, but also when others around him are not making good choices. But it also makes me sad to see him being so sweet and others just walking all over him for it. He stood and waited for his turn to throw the snowballs while other kids kept jumping in front of him and throwing theirs and he just stood there waiting! Finally I went over there and helped the kids take turns. Typical Emily ;)

Womans jacket and gloves and doesn't mind a bit! I know the age of embarrassment isn't too far away but I'm thankful he's not there yet!

Always down for some fun!
Kye's goal was to build a snowman so, of course, everyone made it happen!

So proud. I love this :)
Britt didn't last too long with the snow. She started saying "don't like it! don't like it!" and just wanted to be held. We were there for less than an hour but I did NOT want to rush Kye. We don't ever get to see snow and I wanted him to have a chance to really play and have fun. Thankfully Britt was totally content to be passed around to everyone while Kye enjoyed his fun!

I've never captured a picture of this before but this is SO special. Aunt Karen always does this "baby rabbits" thing with the kids where she makes a little sound in their ears. From a super early age Britt just LOVED it. We do it all the time with her, even now. It instantly calms her. Quiets her. Gives her comfort. I 100% plan to try it out on Leo too ;) But for now it's a special Britt thing :)
Big Papa's turn!

After we were all snowed out we told G-Mama to pick a restaurant and we ended up going to eat at Texas Roadhouse. It was SO FUN. We rarely go out to eat or do things randomly like that and we truly enjoyed it!!! Plus we got to spend extra time with everyone and it was the perfect ending to the winter break! Kye even suggested that everyone meet up at The Mix for dessert. Snow and then ice cream? Who can say no to that?!?!

These ice cream faces are pretty hilairous!

It was a SUPER fun time and I know that the "snow day" will be something we always do our best to attend each year. Plus check out who made the paper the next day...Kye's snowman!

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