MegaEarly Bird


*CRACK* The thunder wakes me. Squinting at the clock, to make up for the lack of glasses, I see that it’s 5 am. I just nursed baby an hour ago. I hope the thunder doesn’t wake her, too. My next concern is for my other two girls and their sleepover friend, in the tent in the yard. Will they be scared? Will they get soaked? 

Ok, time to wake hubby and check out the situation. I ask him to go get them. Out of bed he gets, and I trail behind, a few minutes later. He is already back inside; no girls. “I brought them an umbrella,” he tells me. Well, that just won’t do. I want them inside, in warm, dry beds. By now, it’s pouring. They must be awake and wet. Hubby heads out again, while I go to Jeana’s room to turn on the nightlight and make ready the bunk beds. They are already full of kids! “I heard the thunder, so we came in,” Jeana tells me, excitedly. Ah, good. Poor hubby is the only one who gets soaked; back to bed we all go.

*WAAAA* The baby wakes me. Squinting again at the clock, I see it has only been a half hour; I had only just fallen back to sleep. How many times has she woken, now? Three? Four? I’ve lost track. I curse the gods for creating this whole teething business, and out of bed again.

After an a bit of nursing and rocking, baby is back to sleep. It’s after 6 am. I can only hope that I get a little more sleep. How long will baby give me? 30 minutes? An hour? Opening my eyes again, I see she was kind. It is almost 8. This is considered sleeping in, in this house. My lovely hubby gets up with her, allowing me to drift off one last time.

The next time I see the clock, it’s almost 9. This really IS sleeping in! Still, I don’t want to get up. I almost want to keep sleeping; I have a lot of wakeful nights to make up for. But, what’s that smell? Eggs? Pancakes? Ah, life is good.

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MegaQuitter


There are times in life when change breeds change. These times, like moving, starting a new job, or having a baby, are an excellent time to make healthy improvements and leave bad habits in the dust. So when I became pregnant with my third child, I began making such changes in my life. Here are some things I have quit in the last couple years:

SMOKING:  This is the 4th or 5th time I have quit this disgusting addiction. Once, even for 3 years! I have always started again once I was working with or hanging out with people who smoke. I sincerely hope this is it for me, though! Thank you, Sophia for forcing me to quit!

FAST FOOD/JUNK FOOD:  This wasn’t exactly by choice. I have been dealing with IBS for several years, and fast food and other sugary crap are the worst offenders for my belly. I did enjoy a short respite while pregnant, and indulged a bit on this front, but that was short-lived. Junk is back on the quit list!

DISPOSABLE DIAPERS: I never thought I would have gone this route, but cloth diapering is change I am so proud for undertaking. I am benefiting my baby, my wallet, and the planet! Disposable diapers are made with nasty chemicals and remain in landfills for hundreds of years. Cloth diapers are cute and reusable! Thanks, Anna for showing me this possibility!

SODA/POP/COLA (by any name, it’s still flavored water and corn syrup): One of my most recent quits, and one I have been contemplating for quite some time. My main holdup was in finding a good substitute. I tend to sip my soda all afternoon (only about 1 can),  so I needed to find something else to sip on. Water just doesn’t do it for me. Actually, it was promising until my BPA-free, reusable plastic water bottle grew ickiness in the mouthpiece. EW! I wouldn’t continue buying water in plastic bottles, so what then? My mom suggested iced tea, since she drinks a quart every day. I found a good combination of teas, and have been brewing daily, ever since! Yay for iced tea! Extra points award for it’s ability to taste good hot, warm, or cold, and not go flat!

COFFEE: Coffee has been an off-again, on-again habit for me. I had a feeling that it, or the mass amount of creamer I use, was contributing to my IBS issues. I didn’t drink much: about 2 cups of half-caff a day, but it was hard to quit! I brew up a cup or two of black tea (no creamer necessary) instead, and I am good to go! Tea wins again!!

TOXIC CHEMICALS (Ok, it’s a work in progress):  I explore this topic in The Great Greening. I am attempting to rid my home of chemicals that are toxic and unnecessary. I have made great strides, but have encountered a few road bumps. Make-up, deodorant, dishwasher detergent, and fabric softener are areas in which I am still working on improving. Yay for Dr. Bronner’s Castile Soaps!

• YELLING (Well, for a day or so): This is also a work in progress. In A Day With No Yelling, I discussed not yelling at my children and otherwise throwing tantrums. I did well for a day or two, but I fell off that wagon. I am working on my temper and patience, and am hopeful for the near future!

One of the tricks to quitting an addiction or bad habit is to change your routine! When something comes along that forces such a change, make the most of it! Don’t just change behaviors, change your mind-set! If I think of myself as a healthy, nature-loving person, it makes something like smoking extremely unattractive.

If I can do it, you can too! What have you quit? What do you want to quit?

MegaLoud: A Day With No Yelling, Part 2


Tired of yelling at my children; basically letting them turn me into Momma Monster, I decided to see if I could get through a day without losing my cool. As described in Part 1, my childrens’ ridiculous behavior often leads me to exhibit my own ridiculous behavior. Call it “going crazy,” “losing it,” or “acting like a fool,” I thought it needed to change. How can I teach my kids to deal with stress and frustration properly if such things drove me to throw an adult-sized, toddler-worthy tantrum? Could I possibly change this behavior and go a whole day without yelling?

Short answer, YES! I did it! I can’t say it was easy, but it helped that my hubby woke up on the wrong side of the nursery rocking chair (where he “napped” with baby at 5am), which left him the irritable Daddy Monster, yelling in the early morning hours. It is surprisingly easy to keep my cool when I witness someone else acting the fool. Calm down, I think to myself, upon hearing him act the way I usually do. I kept this in mind during times when I would usually blow up.

Paige, being especially Impish

When tempted to freak out, I would instead bring my child (ok, usually Paige the Imp) close and whisper to her about her behavior. I noticed myself getting more quiet, as opposed to louder. It helped that my Dad didn’t think I could make it past 2pm. My folks actually stopped by around then and, strangely enough, this was when I almost lost it. After repeatedly asking Paige to put away a toy that baby wanted, but could not have, and her repeatedly ignoring my request, I felt my blood begin to boil. I needed to prove to my Dad, as well as to myself, that I could do this, I was able to keep my rage in check.

So, yes, I made it the whole day and didn’t lose my cool. The next question is, how long will this last? Hmmmm. After getting up with baby every two hours (again) last night, coupled with the kids stuck in the house on a rainy weekend, I honestly don’t know if I’ll make it to lunch. I’m going to remind myself, when the steam begins to pour from my ears, to set a good example and, maybe more importantly, not let them see me act the fool. I do want them to take me seriously, after all!

MegaLoud: A Day With No Yelling, Part 1


Bad habits are hard to break. I know; I’ve broken some (like smoking and drinking soda) and practice, still more (namely, yelling and nagging at my family members).  Yes, I yell at my children. I hate that I do this. One thing about bad habits is that you KNOW they’re bad, but you can’t seem to stop. I yell because I am trying to express how angry and frustrated I am. In the heat of the moment, I don’t see any other alternative.

Silly, exuberant, Paige

The anger and frustration is generally directed at my 7 1/2 year old, Paige. She’s the kind of child you might label, challenging. She knows exactly which buttons to push to make me crazy. By “crazy,” I mean red faced, steam coming from my ears, yelling, and door slamming. She refuses to listen to me with regard to. . . anything and everything. She refuses to eat any dinner, at least every other night. She neglects brushing her teeth, then lies about it. She plays too rough with the baby, despite constant reminders. Anything I ask her to do, she responds to by calmly explaining why she’s NOT going to do it. This makes me crazy.

Can you guess which one earned the nickname, “The Imp,” from my sister?

There is actually a second part to how she gets to me. Discipline is all but impossible with her. Nothing seems to get the message through to her. Time-outs (our old stand-by) don’t work (sometimes, she volunteers), and neither does being sent to her room. I’ve taken away countless toys and clothes (I have 2 garbage bags FULL in my closet), I’ve grounded her, and spanked her. I’ve forced her to eat, as well as sent her to bed with no dinner. She just doesn’t care. She’ll just smile and help load toys into the plastic bag, because she doesn’t want to put them away. We’ve tried reward charts and chore charts; bribes and allowance. Nothing seems to have any impact on her behavior. This also makes me crazy.

A quiet moment between Paige and Sophie

Until now, making me “crazy” had one sure result: my yelling, slamming doors, and generally throwing a fit. I’m sure I look ridiculous. I would be mortified if my friends, family, and neighbors saw my behavior. I hate feeling so angry and I hate acting so outrageously. I always start out with good intentions, and with a calm demeanor, but my fuse is short. It doesn’t take long for me to go 0 – 60. I just need to CALM DOWN! I’m not sure how I’m going to accomplish this, and I’ve already spoiled the experiment for TODAY. Starting TOMORROW, I’m not going to yell and I’m not going to slam anything. I’m just going to go cold turkey. Any mental preparations I’ve made in the past have not helped. So, please stand by and find out if I can make it one whole day without yelling. It’ll be a Saturday, so all three kids, my husband, and the dogs will be here to present challenges to my resolve. Wish me luck!

MegaMixed Messages


As parents, we all want to do what’s best for our babies. Many do what I do and look online and in books for the answers to parenting questions. It is a quick and convenient way to find advice but, many times, the advice is so widely varied, that we end up more confused than when we started. It’s funny to me that, as different as all the views are, people often swear by their words as the “right way.” We may lean toward the attitudes of our family and friends but, even those I’m close to have very different opinions than mine.

So how do we decipher the best-for-me answer?  Does it help to get MORE information? In trying to figure out how on earth to get my baby to sleep, I’ve read several books and have been to many websites. I often feel I have only really succeeded in feeling guilty for failing all the different methods I have tried to utilize.

Really, what I have done is armed myself with an arsenal of ammo for my bag of tricks. I tend to prefer to be consistent, but Sophia is completely unpredictable; sometimes it helps to be able to change things up, when the going gets tough. For example, Sophia “usually” takes a nice, long 2 hour nap around 9:30 in the morning. Afterward, she’ll take another nap of an hour or so in the early afternoon. If she skips or shortens her morning nap (like, only 20 minutes), then I might try to get some catch-up sleep for her by attempting to put her down every 1 1/2 – 2 hours that she’s awake – as advocated by some sleep-trainers.  If did this technique with her everyday – which I did for a while – she would take cat naps all day. When I did this, I felt tied down to the rocking chair ALL DAY. However, it helps on off days.

There are so many mixed messages out there, regarding parenting techniques. It may get confusing and frustrating to figure out what to do but, tempered with your personal experience and opinion, these can be a great tool. The key is to keep an open mind and to know yourself and your child well. I definitely don’t have all the answers, but I know to gather my tools and use my own judgement, before buying into the first thing I read about or to rely on only one “expert’s” view.

MegaSleepy


I had decided to try a different subject this time; something other than mommy-issues. However, I am quite sleep-deprived, as of late, and cannot think clearly enough to form an intelligent thought.  For this reason, I’m going to focus on the cause of my sleeplessness.  Her name is Sophia.

Sophia is my third child. Having already mothered 2 babies (now, 10 and 7 1/2), I was convinced myself that babyhood would be a breeze. Been there, done that. Apparently, time had altered my memory. I’m sure, when I think about it, that I had a tough time with Jeana and Paige, both, when they were babes. Jeana, just because she was my first and I was trying to figure it all out, and Paige was simply challenging (and still is). I especially recall nighttime being an issue with Paige; I spent many nights, desperately trying to get her back to sleep.

When Sophie was born, I was prepared for sleepless nights with diaper changes and nursing sessions. This was how both my previous babies slept at that age. Well, SURPRISE! She slept for hours on end, while I sat, watching her; expecting her to wake at any moment. I even began getting up to pump at night, because I was about to overflow; what a great opportunity to build up a milk supply. This was AMAZING to me! I thought such things were the stuff of fairy tales! Not only did she sleep well at night, but she rarely cried, she napped well, and nursed like a champ. I thought it was wonderful that I finally got one of those “easy babies” you hear rumors about. I was careful not to brag to my friends, who also were having new babies. I didn’t want to gloat.  I should have, while I had the chance.

Sophie, sleeping in Momma’s bed, as a newborn

Somewhere around 5 months (0r maybe earlier) when she was really being to learn to move and explore, her sleeping habits began to change. Now sleeping in her crib, down the hall, she began waking several times a night, playing but demanding to be fed. Thinking this was a passing phase, we just continued as usual, though I soon stopped the nightly pumping; I couldn’t force myself to get out of bed another time. Since then, however, she seems to just go from one sleep distraction to another. Practicing a new skill, teething, belly pain, colds, teething, separation anxiety, teething (did I mention teething?); always a reason for her to be awake. Sometimes, she’ll go back to sleep being rocked by my husband, George, or even on her own (though, this is a rarity). Usually, she prefers to be nursed back to sleep.

Waking in Momma’s bed

I can’t really blame her for preferring this method; this is how I put her down for naps, too. It, generally works like a charm. I had noticed, even as a newborn, that she tended to fall asleep while nursing, so I began using that to my advantage at nap and bedtime. It works well, most of the time, but she needs me – and only me – too much at night. Is the solution to stop nursing her to sleep? Perhaps, but when I nurse her at other times, she only feeds for about 5 minutes, while, if it’s sleepy-time, she’ll feed for 15-25 minutes. I want to breastfeed her the best I can, so I’ll probably continue . . .

Another sleep issue for Sophia is her inconsistent naps. I just can’t figure her out, here. One day she’ll nap from 9:30 am – 11:30 am, but the next day she’ll want to sleep at 8:30am, and only for 20 minutes. Some days she takes 3 naps, yet other days, just 1. One problem is that she wakes in the morning at different times, anywhere from 5 am – 8 am. That makes it difficult to decide when to even start naps. Now, I work best with consistency and structure. Apparently, Sophie is the opposite. This makes Mommy very frustrated. Especially, when she and I both are sleep-deprived from the night before.

Climbing through her daily obstacle course.

Fortunately for us both, the lack of sleep doesn’t seem to bother her. She is a happy, active, social little thing. She’s always on the go, and rarely gets fussy. I, on the other hand, do not always fare as well. Many days, I am a mess – inside and out. Exhausted, frustrated, and confused pretty well sums up my days. Luckily, Sophie is a joy and, besides getting into things, is very well-behaved. In any case, if she continues constantly waking at night after she cuts this tooth she’s getting, I’m going to have to go back to the drawing board. I’m beginning to understand, however, that in order to ever find bliss with this baby, I’m going to have to ditch the drawing board, all together, and learn to go with the flow. Maybe then I can get some sleep!