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Thursday, September 28, 2017

Babywise Disruption: Handling The Wonder Weeks

As a Babywise Mom you are a planner. You have goals. You work HARD to make sleep happen, feeding happen, and for the day to flow a certain way. But y'all, there is no such thing as a perfect Babywise baby. There WILL be disruptions. Interruptions. Days where you just feel like all hopes and dreams and hard work for that schedule just flew out the window.

It's okay! Rough patches happen. It's NORMAL.

I know when you're living in the rocky seasons it can feel like you're drowning and like it'll never get back on track. When I was a first time mom I would basically freak out and do a constant guess and check to try to figure out what the heck was wrong. Why wasn't my kid sleeping? Why was he so fussy? Was it gas? Teething? Was he allergic to something I was eating? You can literally drive yourself insane going through the guess and check list any mama works through when battling an upset baby!

Then someone told me about The Wonder Weeks.

Game. Changer.

I've never actually read the book? Although you can purchase it here if interested! Back when I first learned about the Wonder Weeks you had to go to a website to figure out what week your child was in but now they have a handy app that makes it SO EASY to track!

In a nut shell Wonder Weeks are periods of milestone leaps in your baby's development. Using your child's birthdate (if an early baby some recommend using adjusted birth age) the app is able to predict "stormy times" which are time when you can expect disruptions, fussiness, sleep issues, and other irregular behaviors.



I have a love/hate relationship when it comes to The Wonder Weeks:

Download It and Forget It

Don't dwell on the wonder weeks. Don't look ahead at what's to come. Don't let it rule your life. Have the app, but then don't think about it. If you dwell on the "stormy periods" to come then you won't enjoy the NOW. Every baby is different. Some "stormy" weeks will really seem like rainbows, some babies hit rough patches earlier than predicted, some hit them later. It's a wonderful TOOL that helps give understanding during rocky stages, but it's not "all knowing."

Let Knowledge Give You Power:

Remember that the Wonder Weeks app is there to let you know time periods when your baby may be fussy due to milestone developments. It's knowledge and knowledge is power. Knowing that my baby was fussy because he was hitting a developmental milestone made me feel SO much better. I knew he wasn't in pain. I knew it wasn't gas or an allergy or something I was doing wrong. It was a natural leap that all babies go through. It's normal! Hitting those milestones means he's healthy and thriving and that's a POSITIVE thing!

I no longer had to go through an obsessive cycle of guessing and checking. I knew what was causing the disruptions so I could stop feeling all this pressure and stress over it! Does that knowledge mean your kid will be less fussy? NO. But having that knowledge should allow YOU to feel better about it!

Stay The Course:

A common thing I hear people say is "oh she's in a wonder week!" It's often used as an excuse. A free pass. Let's just toss all that hard work of implementing Babywise out the window because it's a wonder week!

Yes, wonder weeks can be TOUGH. And some are rather lengthy too! But that doesn't mean you should throw in the towel and give up on Babywise techniques. Staying consistent with your routine will not only help your baby bounce back to normal quicker, but will help you stay more sane in dealing with the disruptions during the leap.

During those times of leaps, keep doing everything you normally do. But when those moments of disruptions happen? Recognize that it's part of the side effect of the wonder week and take the steps needed in order to get through it.

There is a delicate balance during that time period and you want to try your best to stay as close to the norm as possible. If baby always sleeps in her crib but is waking early from nap due to the wonder week, go in and shhh-pat until she's back asleep. If that doesn't work then try holding until back to sleep. If that doesn't work then try the swing. Or a paci. Rather than jumping straight to a swing or paci, you want to take gradual steps in hopes that one of them will work and that more disruptive measures won't have to be taken!

Relax:

Yes, it's important to stay as close to normal routine as possible, but it's also important to RELAX. It's a short-lived phase and no long term damage to your schedule will take place if you have to slack on some areas for the time period of the leap. Disrupt things as little as possible, but understand that it's not the end of the world if you have to hold your baby for an entire nap either (soak it up because that's something us Babywise Mamas don't get to do often ha!).

And when I say relax? I don't just mean about the schedule. Relax for yourself too. These leaps are tough on mama. It's added stress and work on your plate and it's FINE to need a break. Take a few moments to get outside and breathe in fresh air, have your hubby keep the baby so you can go get your nails done, SLEEP. Just give yourself a bit of time and space to be baby-free for a bit. It can be frustrating dealing with a fussy baby and we all need a break to be able to give baby our best!

Remember The End is in Sight:

The beauty of the wonder weeks is that it's a reminder that the stormy days won't last forever! Your child hasn't suddenly done a Dr Jekyll switch in his personality. He will go back to his happy, well rested self. Remind yourself that the leap is only for a short period of time and that it all will be okay. Stay the course, take a break for yourself as needed, and countdown the days until the wonder week is over ;)

Today is Babywise Friendly Blog Network Day! We're all chatting about Babywise Disruptions, be sure to visit all of the fellow bloggers for their thoughts on this topic:

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Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Partyin' Like It's 1987: Casey's 30th!

Casey turned 30 in the beginning of September buttttt we decided to celebrate a little early for her ;) It was funny because there was this KILLER deal on cookie cakes for Zach's birthday ($20 for a cookie cake is crazy cheap b/c they are usually like close to $40!) so we ended up getting another one as a way to announce our match to the kids. Annnnd when I made plans with Casey for her birthday I casually mentioned if we had it in August that I'd be able to get her a cookie cake too ;) American Cookie Company loved us that month!!!


Leading up to her birthday I browsed Pinterest for some inspiration and saw some party favors for a 30th birthday that said "Party like it's 1980". I LOVED the idea of doing a themed get together and partying like it's 1987 in honor of the year Casey was born :) Casey is always into a good theme so I figured she'd like it. I did talk to her about it all and she was on board so we made it happen!

I hunted Goodwill and LOVE the leather vest I was able to find. I ended up getting accessories at Claire's. Super random but they have a TON of '80s stuff if you happen to need any haha!

While getting ready for the night I tried to be as authentic as possible. I went for a lot of blush, a bright lip and some pink and purple eye shadow. I was texting with Kelly and Laura and trying to figure out the go-to rockstar 80s look. We might have had to do some googling to figure out what they actually did back then to look cool haha


YAY found a visual to follow...thumb faces in rather than out ;)


#nailedit



Casey had a few of us over to her house to get ready together prior (Duh, I got fully ready at home and even went to the mall to pick up the cookie cake while fully dressed in my 80s attire. I heard some random girl say to her friends "where does she think she's going, VEGAS?" haha). 

Keeli, Courtney, Casey and I ready to go!


Casey loves some downtown dining so she chose Steel Magnolia's for our dinner spot! It was SO awesome that EVERYONE dressed up! I really didn't expect everyone to get so into it but it made it super fun that everyone stuck to theme :) (see if you can spot the photo bomber!)

Morgan, Courtney, Lindsay, Casey, Katie, Robyn, Me, and Keeli!


I got these sunglasses as party favors for everyone :) They are actually legit good sunglasses too! 


The birthday girl!!!

Yes y'all. She'd just had a BABY a MONTH prior. A month. As in 4 weeks. As in it's hard not to hate her for being so FREAKING HOTT!!! 30 is gonna look good on her ;) 



I don't get to eat at fancy places often so I def treated myself to yummy shrimp and grits!


This cracks me up because her party hat looks like a censor like she's flicking off the camera or something. Casey gets crunk for some cookie cake ;)


Our waiter was SO great and kept offering to take photos of us. The random guy we grabbed to do the first session of pics was NOT feeling it so we were lucky that our waiter was so sweet to take time out of his night to do this for us! 



We even went out on the roof!


Had to get one with him in the pic!


And some individual pics to end the night!

My new thing (which is probably super annoying to others haha) is to get as many solo pics with people as I can. I love doing photo collages for everyones birthdays and those one on one pics are totally the best for that ;) 






Katie stealing the spotlight hahaha!





I hope that Casey had a super fun night as she deserves it and deserves for this new decade to be the happiest and most wonderful decade yet :) 


Monday, September 25, 2017

Thoughts on a Year.

Every day Facebook notifies me to check out "On This Day." To take a look back at all the memories posted on Facebook on that exact day for every year that I've had an account. Usually it's a quick minute of fun. Looking back at old photos. Embarrassing posts that were made back when Facebook was much, much different than it is now. Fun albums from when Katie and I would comment obsessively on everything with all of our inside jokes.

But sometimes I wish there was a way to pick and choose what memories Facebook has us see. Some flashbacks in time we really don't want to relive or re-experience. At the same time, some moments in life are unavoidable to remember. Even if there isn't one single post regarding that moment, any photo or memory from the time surrounding that moment will trigger those emotions and that memory.

Some moments in life are a clear marker of "before" and "after." As a mom this is often to do with kids. My life is divided into time periods of "before marriage", "before Kye", "before Britt" and "Before Tess." Sometimes big events happen that will forever create such a marker.

For our family such a moment happened a year ago.

When I think back to this time last year I see it in slow motion. I feel like everything moved so slowly. Like the days and moments crawled by. Every emotion felt deeper and lingered longer.

When Zach first called me that day saying I needed to call the eye doctor because he couldn't see, I didn't overly panic. I thought it was weird. I thought maybe he was overly tired or being dramatic about it. The eye dr saying he needed to go to the ER asap is what made me realize something was seriously wrong. My most vivid memory is the day after. Wondering around Hobby Lobby. I had to get costume supplies for a dress up day for Kye at school. I walked around for almost 2 hours talking to Zach. Going through details over and over again. Continuing to come up with reasons why it would all be okay, excuses for what must be the reason behind all the weird symptoms he was having. Surely it was just exhaustion. Stress. At worst maybe a vision issue?

Thoughts of MS were not even on my radar. Even at the first dr visit where we were told it was the worst case scenario. We didn't over think it. The dr said there were literally thousands of things that could be going on. Surely we weren't dealing with the worst case scenario.

When you get married you make vows. You promise to love each other. Stand by each other. Support each other. Through no matter what life throws at you. Every marriage will face hard times, trials. Moments that define you as a couple and can either make or break you.

We've experienced "tough stuff." Hurt and pain. Disappointments. Heartbreak. But nothing rocks you to your core as a couple like a life long disease staring you in the face.

We've seen other couples go through unimaginable pain. The loss of a baby, a child, an adult son. We've seen couples hurting and grieving and battling. We've seen couples deal with unemployment, health concerns and marital disconnect. As an outsider watching these experiences it's easy to see when couples come together stronger through their times of trial and when they deal with things separately, creating a divide between them.

Many couples don't make it through such big life moments. They deal with the big moment in different ways. They become incompatible and a divide widens between them, making it super difficult to reunite and come back together.

It's EASY on the outside to say "if/when we face a big life change, we will work through it together." But really? It's not a choice. When those times come, you deal and cope the best way that works for YOU. The way that gets you out of bed in the morning. The way that you need to survive each moment in that pain. You can't decide how you need to cope. And neither can your spouse. Maybe you both handle it the same way, need the same things. And if so? Consider that a big blessing. Because more than likely you'll need different things. Handle it in different ways.

We were like that. This life altering news affected us in very, very different ways. Zach immediately put on the positive face. I'm talking like before we'd even left the dr office he was FINE. Here he is this strong, young, healthy man being diagnosed with a potentially disabling life long disease and he took the news like he did when he found out FSU's game against Miami was canceled due to the hurricane. Actually, he may have taken the football game news harder than the MS diagnosis.

He was quick to accept the news. Quick to say he knew he'd be fine. Quick to be so sure that he'd find a plan of action to live a normal life. Quick to have that faith and assurance that this wouldn't define him.

While I admire that ability, it's far far far from how I needed to cope. I needed to fall apart. I needed to work through all the worst case scenarios. I needed to think about life with him in a wheelchair. I needed to grieve for the life I'd always thought we would have in order to accept the life we might possibly have to live.

I felt selfish that I had to hurt the way I did. That I had to break down. That I was the "healthy" one yet I was the one who was taking it the hardest. That I couldn't be stronger for him. That I knew seeing me afraid and scared and upset only made him upset. The only time he cried about the news was when he told me how much it hurt him seeing me hurt and feeling like it was his fault that I was hurting.

We were disconnected. I had to find support in friends during my darker moments because I couldn't burden him with that pain. He needed to live life as normally as possible, put the big picture/long term concerns out of his mind. I needed to plan and plan and plan for the possible futures so I could accept them. I had to work through my own process in order to be able to give it all to God whereas Zach was able to give it over to the Lord right away. Our walks were different, and instead of walking towards each other we walked further apart.

I think the crucial thing in our different paths of coping was recognizing that they were different. That we didn't have to deal with this life altering news in the same way in order to come together through it. We had to respect each other in what we needed, and allow for each of us to have those needs met.

Once the dust settled. Once the acceptance phase of the coping process came about. We were able to meet back. Our paths came together. And they came together stronger than they were before.

Actions speak so much louder than words. Standing there on our wedding day and promising forever...we thought we meant it then, but we know we meant it now. We promised "for sickness and in health." And here we are still promising a no-matter-what-life-throws-at-us promise. There is such contentment that comes in facing a life changing moment and knowing that it didn't break you. Yes we dealt with the news differently, but even in my weakest moments I never thought "Well that's it! Time to trade Zach in for a healthier model!"

Our love is unconditional, unwavering. My concerns for our future were practical (Like hello if he's in a wheelchair we will need in home care help b/c no way can I lift him!) and personal (Zach is such an alpha male, a wheelchair will kill his spirit) and selfish too (I love that Zach is an alpha male, how would our relationship change for roles to be more reversed? For me to have to care for him on many levels?). But they were never doubtful that we'd face whatever the future may bring together.

Here we are. One year later. I'm filled with so much emotion looking back on this past year. Even though we're on an awesome game plan for treatment and feel super confident that our future won't be including any disability (and especially no wheelchairs!), I can't help but to flashback to those feelings and fears from a year ago.

So much can change in a moment, an instant, and so much can change in a year. We went from symptoms to diagnosis to already changing plans of treatment all within a very short span of time. I remember crying in the shower and just praying for time to pass quickly. I wanted to fast forward to a time where we'd be adjusted to a new normal. And here we are, only a year later, and we're already at a point where MS isn't in the forefront of our minds. It's not something we ever dwell on or discuss. I don't have nightmares about the future. I don't cry in the shower. I don't see Zach differently than Zach. He doesn't have any limitations on himself and never would anyone think of him as "Zach with MS." He's still just Zach to all those who know him.

Even though it's not something we dwell on or allow to define us, it's still there. It always will be. A life long diagnosis is going to be a life long change. But some of those changes are blessings. I don't see "Zach with MS" when I look at him, but I do see the man who I love unconditionally. The man who I know loves me the same way. I see our blessings all around us and don't take any of them for granted. I see a future that is filled with love and joy and appreciation for each other. I see a bond that can't be broken and have an unwavering confidence that no matter what other challenges lie ahead that we will get through them. Even if we have to cope differently for a time, we will always come back to each other and each struggle will give us greater strength.

Something I always think of during tough times is that God is Good. He's always good. His goodness is everywhere, all the time, in every single trial we may face. It's there. He's there. I've seen Him more in my life over the past year or so than I ever have before. I'm so thankful for His unwavering love and His constant goodness. I'm thankful that He takes care of us. I'm thankful He has wisdom beyond what we can understand and I love the opportunity to see His plan unfold in our lives.

One year later. And we're stronger. We're more thankful. We're blessed.


Thursday, September 21, 2017

Family Photos August 2017

I'm so thankful for Lindsay, from Captured by Colson! We had such a tough time actually getting our family pictures to happen. The first time we were literally racing storms. And the second time Britt had pink eye and it rained again. The third time was THE CHARM and really I'm glad it worked out exactly as it did. Not only did we have sunny skies but we were able to meet up early on a Saturday morning so it also wasn't too hot. We were also able to take the photos at Park Place which is a new venue (to me at least as I hadn't started hearing about it until recently) and it is SO gorgeous. It flowed so well as a backdrop for our bright, "beachy" color scheme!

The "purpose" for the photos were for Tess's 3rd birthday pics! I like to get photos of the kids at each of their birthdays (until age 5 anyway) as they change SO much in one year! You can look back at our family photos from last July and really see such a big change in Tessie :)

As always, Lindsay was phenomenal to work with. She brings SUCH a positive, fun energy to all of our photo sessions. She specializes in weddings and seniors and I love all of her work (be sure to check her out on FB and IG). I'm thankful to consider her a close friend and have loved working with her for our family sessions since Kye was 18 months old!

I love, love LOVE how these turned out. We are all so comfortable with working with Lindsay and I think that shines through in our sessions. We are all relaxed and truly have a great time! I have NEVER framed any photos in color in our house (our photo wall is about the only framed pics in our house and they are black and white) but these colors just all came together so great that I really want to do something with them. I did a collage photo frame for Zach's office and I'm considering buying another one to put up in the dining room maybe? I need to decide which pics to use! Let me know you're favs!!!

Tess Solo, I cannot get over how she WORKED that camera!
(I already owned her entire outfit!)


Prob my fav?



I love this one too!




I'm so thankful for Lindsay's patience with me. I'm sure I'm so annoying b/c I always want solo of each kid AND solo of each kid WITH each parent. I just try to think of the future and how the kids will enjoy having photos of JUST them instead of always lumped with siblings ;) 

My dress: Ali Express


Zach's shirt: Old Navy



Britt Solo...she's getting SO grown! That goofy grin she used to always do in photos is long gone now :) 

Her dress: Gap


Fav! She's so pretty!







My big girl!



I can't even ;) So sweet!


It's funny because Kye has always been THE EASIEST at photo sessions. The negative of that is that his TRUE smile is hard to capture. He's very robotic with photo sessions and just has this "picture smile" rather than having his TRUE smile. That was our main mission this time around: get Kye's REAL smile.

I even researched tips and tricks (saying "yeehaw" and "howdy" help to get authentic smiles better than "cheese" does, making poop jokes helps, singing songs the wrong way, basically acting crazy haha). Between Lindsay, Zach and I we were able to make it happen and got so many awesome ones of him!!!

Kye's shirt: Old Navy
Kye's shorts: Gap



Favorite!!!


Another fav, I can't get over how GROWN he is!!!



I adore this too! They are looking more and more alike!



After Zach getting the Britt kiss I was like "hello what about meeee?" ;)


Then Kye said he wanted his Mama to give him a kiss too :) My baby!



Taking these photos was SO EASY. This is the oldest our kids have ever been without having a baby in our family so it's the most flexible we've been able to be as a family unit. It's awesome! But I'm equally so, so excited for all the sibling photos coming up with precious Tab in them! It's hard to believe that these are the last photos we'll have as a family of 5 and that once Tab arrives...that's IT! Family of 6 for LIFE!!!

I love the bonds our kids share together and think that really comes across in these pics!





Favorite...love the giggles!
(tip: bring puppets to a session...they help a lot!)



Something Lindsay does that I don't see a lot of photographers taking the time to do is she focuses a lot on the parents. I LOVE that she takes time out during our sessions to get shots of just Zach and I together. It's hard to get "just us" pics and I always love and appreciate having these. What couple doesn't wish they had more photos together? 

Zach and I have been through SO MUCH this year. I'm so thankful for the way we've grown tougher through these tougher paths and it's been such a beautiful journey and has bonded us even closer. I'm so thankful for us and our love and that I'm his!




Favorite!









Had to get a couple solo too...the dress and the background were just TOO perfect together!!!



Our last photo session as a family of 5!

I've loved this season of life. I've loved each stage of our family. From a family of 3, to 4 and now 5. But it's never felt complete. Just as I'm sad to see the days of adding babies leave, I'm so excited to feel content and to feel finished. To look at our family photos and not feel like a piece is missing. We're ready for you Tab!!!



Favorite! I think I want this hung somewhere in our house! Wouldn't it flow so well with all of our colors?


Love how PROUD they are!






If you're looking for a fabulous wedding photographer or wanting to have one super awesome unique senior session or needing an update to your family photos then Lindsay is def your girl! You can visit her website (Captured by Colson) to see more of her style of photography. I know people tease us a lot for how often we have family photos taken but it's an investment you'll NEVER regret making. Life passes quickly. Babies grow up so fast. Photos are a stamp in time. A way to truly hang on to a moment forever! 

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