Friday, October 30, 2009

Five Question Friday

Posted by Mandy at 1:58 PM 3 comments Links to this post
Can you believe that tomorrow is Halloween already? Wow! I hope everyone's gearing up for a safe, silly, and FUN evening of trick-or-treating and eating candy until you puke. Oh yes... that is my idea of a good time...

It's time for Five Question Friday! If you'd like to join in on the fun, head on over to Mamma M's blog and grab all of the links! Happy Friday!

1. What were you doing the last time you really had a good laugh?

Just yesterday! Nothing makes me laugh like hearing my kids laugh. Something totally random had both of the boys rolling on the floor with those huge belly laughs - and who can't not join in on that fun? Everytime one of them would stop laughing, they'd see the other one still going and get kicked up again. I have no idea what even started this happy fest - but it was hilarious!

2. Who was your first CELEBRITY crush?
Hmmm... I 'think' it was Devin Sawa in Casper! I really can't remember that far back..

3. What is one talent that you wish you had?
Oh I really, really wish I could play instruments. Especially the piano and violin!

4. How often do you and your spouse go out w/o the kids? Is it frequent enough?
Definitely not frequently enough! We probably go out without the kids once  month... if that. Depends on what shift he's working. When we do go out, lately, we make an entire weekend out of it! So, that makes up for the lack of regularity I guess!

5. What colour(s) is your bedroom?
It's beige... the exact color is called "White Sands" or something similar. Pretty boring... but it works.

MckLinky Blog Hop

Fatigued Pilots - What Should be Done?

Posted by Mandy at 6:50 AM 0 comments Links to this post

If you've been watching the news lately, one hot topic is mentioned at least once an hour: Pilot Fatigue.

This is an issue I actually never gave much thought. I, like many people in the world, assumed that proper restrictions were currently in place to keep plane crashes from occuring from preventable circumstances... you know.. like the pilot FALLING ASLEEP! Apparently, I was wrong.

This article on CNN's webiste says,
In the last 16 years, fatigue has been associated with 250 fatalities in air carrier accidents, Robert Sumwalt, NTSB vice chairman, said at an FAA symposium in July.
Well, doesn't that make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside?

Now the FAA is said to be trying to change the current allowed flight hours and the required amount of resting time between flights in hopes of preventing things like this happening in the future. Seeing as how they regulations have remained the same since the 1940's... I say it's well past due.

One request I've heard mentioned by the people in the airline biz is to simply allow pilots to nap in the cockpit during flights. Now, don't freak out... the truth is, pilots are already sleeping during your flight and you just don't know it. (according to about 80% of pilots that admit to sleeping during flights.) Wouldn't it be better to simply put safety policies in place so that this much needed sleep can occur SAFELY?

Other than take-off and touch-down... pilots say that the rest of the flight is almost always simply auto-pilot. If there are two pilots in charge.. why not let them take turns getting some Zzz's? If it means safer landings after 8 hours in the air... I say YES!

If letting them rest on the plane isn't a valid option, what other options are there?

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Blog Makeover

Posted by Mandy at 4:50 PM 2 comments Links to this post
If you think you've stumbled to the wrong place, don't fret - this is my blog, this is Peace and Craziness.. and it is currently experiencing Craziness. I am horrible with HTML and all of that jazz - so doing a small blog makeover is quite the feat for me. So, be patient, hang in there, and try not to be annoyed if I go through 35 different headers, fonts, colors, and layouts in the next few days. I promise to try to make this as painless as possible for all of us.

Review: Ergo Baby Carrier for Toddlers

Posted by Mandy at 11:32 AM 4 comments Links to this post
Before I begin this post, I want to make sure that I write that this is NOT a paid advertisement. I simply LOVE my Ergo and haven't written a post about its functionality with a heavier toddler. With that said:

This is my Ergo

Inside of my Ergo is my 2 years and 4 months old son. He weighs right about 28 pounds now.. possibly 30. (I know, I'm one of those moms that doesn't know her kids' exact weights.) This is how we take the dogs for a walk - toddler happily riding on mommy's back. (By the way, these are our two rescue dogs Ava (the German Shepherd) and Cooper (the one-eyed Toy Poodle.))

I've used strollers for walks, and that's okay sometimes. The main two reasons I love using the Ergo instead are:

1. Bonding
When Samuel is riding in the stroller, he's kind of in his own world and so am I. When he's sitting up high on my back, he sees exactly what I see and he can talk to me with ease the entire time. I love seeing his little hand from the corner of my eye pointing to cows and horses and hearing him moo and "neigh!" at them as we walk past. I can explain all sorts of things to him while we walk without having him constantly lean around the canopy of the stroller and ask, "What? What Mom? What? What did you say? Mom?" Anyone that's spent much time walking with a toddler in a stroller, especially on a windy day, knows what I mean.

2. Ability to do More
When we walk using the stroller, we are GREATLY limited where we can travel. Strollers are super hard to push in grass with heavy kids in them. If the big kids want to walk off into a pasture to pick flowers, there's no wrangling with getting stuff out of the stroller, putting the stroller somewhere safe while you walk, and if your toddler is younger and not so steady on his feet, having to STILL carry him. (we've done this dance a few times.)

With the Ergo if we want to go somewhere, we just go! If Samuel wants out to go play, I just unlatch the top front strap, slip it off of my shoulders, grab his hands, and let him slide down my back to the ground. It's so simple! Why oh why did I not discover this amazing contraption with the other two children?

Another reason I really need something like this is so I can control dogs on walks. I've tied dogs to the stroller before, but it severly limits my ability to correct any misbehavior on walks. Having both hands to hold leashes - priceless!

So, what's the point of this post? Basically, to let all of you mommies know that life really can be easier with certain types of baby gear. This, in my opinion, is a must-have. No matter how big your toddler gets or how heavy they are, you can still COMFORTABLY carry them in the Ergo.

Soft "peanut-style" slings are super easy and sweet when you have a light newborn. I wish I'd have had one for those trips into walmart... but for the most bang for your buck, you just can't beat this product. I've used it since the week after Samuel was born, and see no signs of not being able to use it anytime soon. It's still looks just like new! No tears, rips, nothing. It's been chewed on by him for months on end when he was teething, washed in the washing machine several times (really.. many many washings) and used for almost 2.5yrs now. I know people that have had the same Ergo for several years, through several kids and it just holds up so well.

So, new mommies and mommies with toddlers.. take my advice and the advice of many moms in the world and grab an Ergo! You will never regret it!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Pregnancy: What the Books Won't Tell You

Posted by Mandy at 11:33 AM 0 comments Links to this post
For all of my preggo friends and readers - this one's for you! The good, the bad, and the ugly of pregnancy through my eyes.

Let's start from the beginning - Before You Conceive.

First off - no one ever told me that when you don't want to become pregnant you are basically the most fertile person on earth. Then, when you're ultra ready to add another addition to your family, you can suffer from infertility. Who'd a thunk it, right? Yep.. it can happen. If it happens to you, take heart that you are not alone. There are so many women that have struggled and are struggling to become pregnant. Find those women via message boards, through friends of friends, through blogs... anyway you can. FIND THEM. Share your struggle with them, find people that truly understand the roller coaster ride of infertility because you will need them.

Then comes the question - Could I be pregnant? What are the symptoms?

Pregnancy symptoms vary so vastly from woman to woman... the typical symptoms books will list include things like tender breasts and menstrual type cramping. Of course, the missed period.

No book I ever read told me that the "menstrual type cramps" could be much, much worse than typical cramps. Before I was even expecting my period I would have horrid cramping, mainly in my lower back. Let's not forget the bloating... oh joy. Even before those symptoms, for me, was the super sore breasts. Yowzers! Tingles, stabbing pains, even sore armpits... this was always the first sign for me.

Finally, you pee on a stick and - BAM! You're pregnant! CONGRATULATIONS! Now what?

Well, again, this will vary from woman to woman. For THIS woman.. a timeline for the first trimester went something like this:

Week 4 - find out I'm pregnant - super excited, scared, in love, anxious... bloated, cramping, sore breasts.
Week 5 - Same symptoms but add in a bit of queesyness from time to time
Week 6 - Vomitting has hit. Throwing up at least twice a day - every day. Food is gross. I feel gross. "Why did I do this again?" - Also, psycho Mandy takes over. The hormones grip my brain and make me an irrational, angry, sad, or extremely happy person. Alternate these emotions over and over each day.
Week 7-12 - Throwing up so much that I'm blacking out from low blood sugar and dehydration. Getting put on meds to avoid going into the hospital. Meds work some... now only throwing up a few times a day again.

What a fun first trimester, right? Actually.. there were some pretty cool things that happened for me each time in those first three months. Namely - first doctor's appointment! First ultrasound to see that sweet little gummy bear, and best of all, seeing that beating heart. Instant love.  For pregnancy #2 and #3, the first trimester also included outgrowing my pants from my ever expanding belly. Yes, you really do show much faster the second + time. (and you show faster with each pregnancy.. from my experience.)

Enter the Second Trimester

Week 13 - The first pregnancy I expected to wake up feeling like a miracle had happened over night. All of the books say that morning sickness typically leaves by this week. So, why am I still puking constantly?
Week 14-16 - Still sick.. seriously? Yep... it happens. (all three times for me) By week 16 I can swear that I feel little tickles of baby movements. Too early to tell.
Week 16-20 - Definitely begin to feel baby movements! This makes all of the throwing up worth it! Still throwing up.. just to keep you updated. Psycho Mandy still ever present... though not quite as bad as a few weeks back. Husband probably glad to not have his wife be so crazy quite as often. Oh, cool stuff around this time - maternity clothes finally fit! I look pregnant and not fat! Hooray! Also, week 20 I get to find out the sex! Time to buy the first blue or pink outfit! I cry when I get it home and reality hits... "Precious one, you will be here soon, God willing."
Week 21-24 - Feeling super cute with my little belly. Loving baby motions. Not puking nearly as often.. sometimes only a few times a week now. Ahh.. this is why I loved being pregnant! For this period of time! Others can feel baby kicks now and when you have older kids, they really begin to bond with the little tyke. The fight over baby names is probably still on-going.
Week 24-28 - Still feeling great! Getting larger, trying not to waddle "already." Baby movements are huge now. "I swear I saw a foot stick out by my rib cage!" Husband is amazed at the alien-type activity he can feel through my skin. "Does that hurt?!" - I don't think I've thrown up this month... wow! New aggrivation has arrived... enter: Sciatic Nerve Pain. Oh yes.. I'd rather be puking.

The Third Trimester

Week 28-32 - Still feeling sort of cute and very obviously pregnant. Getting uncomfortable and wondering how I'll make it until the end. Sciatic Nerve Pain makes walking, sitting, lying down, and sleeping impossible. Those expensive maternity pillows you buy do help.. some. No more than folding your own pillows between your knees. Husband is slowly being pushed out of the king-sized bed by the fluff surrounding me. Also, my 7-step flip over, eight times a night, makes sleep impossible for both of us. "Why did I do this again?" The good news is, all of the being awake gives us plenty of time to finally decide on a name. It also gives me ample amounts of time to empty my bladder, again. And again. And.. again.
Week 32-36 - Okay... why am I puking again? Why is his foot hitting me down "there" and why does his rear have to be jammed directly inside my ribs 24/7? Baby... please change position! On the flip side - baby  moves regularly... super fun! Time for baby showers, organzing the nursery, cleaning the entire house like an insane person, and spending all of my time in baby-dreamland. All I can think of is the baby and the future.
Week 36-40 - I'm done. DONE. DONE! "Oh God, why did I do this?!!" I can't move. I can't breathe. I hurt from head to toe. I'm throwing up again which really makes that lovely sciatic nerve pain flare up. I love the baby more than ever and the anticipation to meet him or her is truly maddening. Due to this anticipation and pain - Psycho Mandy is in full swing. I will cry for any reason, I will yell for no reason, and I don't want to hear "It's just your hormones!" In my nine month pregnant brain, it is indeed 'you' that's causing the problem.. not the hormones. "I'm fine!"

Birth Day - With my first I went into labor a few days before my due date. No one told me that a first baby can take DAYS of labor to deliver. I never could have imagined such intense pain, for sooo many hours, with no relief. "This is crazy.. why am I doing this?" No one told me that you could go all natural for DAYS, dialate to 8cm, think you're soon to push, only to be told your baby's heartbeat is much too slow and you need an emergency csection. "That's just great..."

No one told me that having a csection is about 8 million times scarier than being in labor. Amazingly, once you accept the reality and just focus on your baby's birth, it's not so bad.

Not one of the books I had described what it was like to feel people inside of your belly, tugging, pulling, pushing... how it smells when they burn the skin to stop bleeding. What an experience. No friends of mine ever told me that my husband would be the amazing rock that stopped my fearful tears and got me through.

Finally, no one could have possibly warned me what I would feel when I first saw my baby. That first glimpse when they're still a weird shade of purplish-blue. Before the oxygen fills their lungs. When they're still all messy from the womb. Only a mother's eyes could see that little wet, messy, blue being and sob with love and joy. Only a mother could reach out anxious to touch, smell, kiss, and hold her baby - mess and all.

The most shocking thing about pregnancy to me has always been how the baby's birth makes many women ready to do it all over again. No matter how horrible you feel, or for how long, often times women MUST do it more than once. If this sounds insane to you, you're likely in your first or third trimester of pregnancy. Don't worry - you'll soon discover the same thing mothers before you have been discovering since the beginning of time.

Soon to come: Post Partum - What You Should REALLY Expect

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Fit Mommy Wanna-Be

Posted by Mandy at 7:59 PM 2 comments Links to this post
In these quiet hours of the night I can finally sit and reflect on the past few weeks. Gathering all of the information swirling in my head and organizing them into actual categories is beginning to take place, and one category keeps sticking out over the others: DIET/EXERCISE

It is amazing to me that I have all of the right information to be a super healthy and fit mom, I know exactly what to do, and what not to do, yet I still struggle. Why is that?

I tend to do one area really well, and blow the other. When I'm eating super healthy and cutting out the bad carbs, I tend to get more lax on my exercise. When I'm exercising like I should be, I swear my appetite is through the roof and I eat like I've not seen food in days. What gives?

Over the past month or two I've been getting into the exercise known as jogging. ("or yah-ging.. might be a soft J... apparently you just run!" - for any Ron Burgandy - Anchorman fans..) When I first started I could barely do one lap (1/4 of a mile) without feeling like one of my lungs might collapse. Now, such a short time later, I'm up to five entire laps before I have to take a walking break! I must say, I'm proud of my persistance to stick with something that has always been very difficult for me. I've never been good at jogging long distances. (not that a mile is a "long distance".. but it is on my scale!)

I did not anticipate that all of the intense cardio I was doing would simply amp up my metabolism, which would make me want to eat like a 200-pound man. Of course, I never crave healthy foods in these hunger fits, oh no! I want chocolate, cereal, crackers, chips - anything that will give me instant fuel.

I've now realized that I'm working really, really hard just to stay the exact same size. Phewy. I've got to get this eating under control. I feel like it's a constant battle in my life. How can something like food be such a joy and such a burden all at the same time?

My new plan is to keep up the jogging (and weights a few times a week) but add more lean protein into my diet, and a lot more fiber to help keep me full. Whole grains, chicken, and turkey... here I come!

This really shouldn't be so difficult...

When the Going Gets Tough...

Posted by Mandy at 10:53 AM 0 comments Links to this post

... it's usually because the tough are sick.

Some type of bug has reached my immune system and defeated it. I am super congested and just a bit sluggish. Not so bad that I feel like it's anything that will turn into a big deal, but just bad enough to make it hard to get the daily grind accomplished. To whom do I turn in my sick day pass?

This all began Sunday night after church and by Monday morning I felt almost as horrible as I looked. My empathetic husband got the kids up and off to school without waking me and that helped tremendously! The rest of the afternoon, however, I was flying solo. Of course, this cold comes on full strength the day of both kids' Parent Teacher Conferences and Madison's dance class. From 2:30pm until 8:30pm I was running like crazy - all three kids in tow.

Thankfully, the PTC's both went incredibly well. I felt a bit spoiled getting to hear from two great teachers how utterly amazing they believe my children to be. I was very proud to see all A's from both kids and the highest marks allowed for behavior, manners, and attentiveness. I feel this is a bigger sign of the amazing quality of teachers my kids both have (and have had!) than any sign of my superb parenting skills. (which are potentially dwindling by the second today.)

Thankfully we made it to and home from dance class with little trouble - thanks to Tylenol Cold and Sinus. I avoided speaking directly to people and kept warning everyone that I was sick. 90% of the moms said, "Oh, don't worry, I'm with you there!" So, we all kept each other company and in supply of Kleenex.

Bedtime went much easier than I had anticipated. Carter was eager to read to me before bed, Madison was exhausted and couldn't wait to go to sleep, and even Samuel listened to stories and nodded off by 8:30. Thank God for small blessings!

This morning was the usual trip to drop kids off at school and the head home to load up a dog to take to the vet. (He's being neutered this morning.. even with this event he will amazingly still love me when I pick him up tomorrow. Aren't dogs fantastic?!) Samuel and I finally made it home, had lunch, and now he's napping. I decided to take a writing break before I dig into housework.

I know this is a totally random post. Blame my cloudy brain for not being able to think up one interesting thing to post about today - and my body for not having the energy to do any type of research. No matter how I usually make myself out to be, I really do not have a cape with a big 'S' that I wear around the house.

Friday, October 23, 2009

White House Tries to Exclude Fox News from Interview

Posted by Mandy at 9:24 AM 1 comments Links to this post
The plot thickens! Obama is soon to really sink himself with any conservatives that are left on his side with these antics.

I can't possibly write this as well as Fox has done, so here is a small portion of the full report.

The Obama administration on Thursday failed in its attempt to manipulate other news networks into isolating and excluding Fox News, as Republicans on Capitol Hill stepped up their criticism of the hardball tactics employed by the White House.

The pushback came after White House senior adviser David Axelrod told ABC News' "This Week" on Sunday that Fox News is not a real news organization and other news networks "ought not to treat them that way."

Media analysts cheered the decision to boycott the Feinberg interview unless Fox News was included, saying the administration's gambit was taking its feud with Fox News too far. President Obama has already declined to go on "Fox News Sunday," even while appearing on the other Sunday shows.
Thankfully, the other networks all decided that they would send none of their reporters if Fox News wasn't also there.

Wow, is this really happening? When did we begin our loss of Freedom of the Press? I am still in America... right?

Even if you are not a Fox News fan (which is pretty unlikely if you like my blog.. but welcome aboard anyway, if not!) this should be very concerning and outrageous to you! When the President and his goonies begin deciding what stations are worthy of reporting news - we are in big trouble!

I, personally, find this extremely offensive! Does the President not realize that the MAJORITY of Americans watch Fox News? The MAJORITY of Americans are conservatives (not necessarily right-winged all the way, but definitely not liberal) and many of Fox's shows (such as my favorite, hosted by Mr. O'Reilly) are ranked NUMBER ONE amongst all other national media? Americans trust Fox News for the most part.. and for the White House's Senior Advisor to say that Fox isn't a "real" news organization is incredibly insulting to the majority of Americans that turn to them daily for news.

I believe that most news organizations report true news... they just put their own spin on it to make the people look good that they support. I have no doubt that Fox could do these same things, but being that I like the people that they like, it works out for me.
Well, America, you wanted change. Change is what you're getting! It is definitely not change I can believe in...

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Attachment Parenting: CoSleeping

Posted by Mandy at 7:23 AM 4 comments Links to this post
CoSleeping is a pretty hot topic amongst parents and doctors alike. Is it safe? Is it a bad habit to start? Who should and should not cosleep?

Let's start by stating what cosleeping is NOT. Co-sleeping is NOT falling asleep with your infant in your bed, in your arms on the couch, or with you in the recliner. Tossing a baby in your bed out of sleep deprivation desperation is simply that - putting your baby into your bed. It is not safely co-sleeping.

First question - Is co-sleeping safe? The answer is, YES. If done correctly, co-sleeping has actually been proven to reduce the chance of SIDS in infants. How can this be when the media is constantly reporting yet another infant death due to bed sharing? Let's look at this, shall we?

If parents are commited to safe co-sleeping, then they will take several precautions.

1. Remove heavy blankets from the bed. (may mean you have to dress more warmly for bed yourself.)
2. Push the bed flush with a wall in the bedroom - or attach a cosleeper to one side of the bed. (we chose to use a cosleeper.)
3. Do NOT put baby between mom and dad. Baby should be between the wall or cosleeper and MOM. (Mothers are naturally more in tuned with where the infant is in the bed, as opposed to dads who are just naturally not programmed the same way.)
4. Put baby to sleep in your bed on their back - the same safe way suggested to put babies down in cribs.
5. Do not over-bundle baby for bedtime. Your body heat will keep baby much warmer than a baby that is lying alone in a crib or bassinet, and overheating is very dangerous for infants.
6. NEVER consume alcohol or drugs before co-sleeping. Even one glass of wine can significantly decrease your awareness of your infant and it definitely induces deeper sleep. Even common drugs like allergy medications are not okay to take before co-sleeping.

If you follow these simple steps, you are probably going to have a very safe and happy co-sleeping experience.

The next question is one I've been asked a lot: Why start co-sleeping in the first place?

Great question! The answers are varied from one parent to the next. Many parents choose to co-sleep from the start because "it just feels right," or "I just couldn't sleep without my baby next to me." These reasons are very real and wonderful reasons to begin co-sleeping with your new baby.

Some start for health reasons. Studies have proven that when co-sleeping is done SAFELY, SIDs is reduced. How? The baby's breathing and body temperature are all regulated simply by being next to Mommy. If that isn't evidence alone that co-sleeping is nature's way, I don't know what is.

My reasons were different. I started co-sleeping out of pure necessity. Personally, I would have rathered my babies be in the cosleeper beside my bed than in bed with me. I slept better that way. Problem was, my babies never slept better that way.

What new parent hasn't had the experience of finally getting that sweet bundle off to dreamland, only to find that when you put them into bed, the eyes pop open like one of those baby dolls and the screaming begins. I definitely found that to be the case with all three of my babies. The solution, let them sleep with me.

Once I got over the American idea that babies are supposed to sleep alone, and did with  Mother Nature was telling me to do, I loved the more peaceful nights! I could nurse my baby lying in bed, and then simply roll them away from me a bit and both of us could snooze happily. Ahh... sweet sleep...

Many have asked logistical questions about co-sleeping. Mainly: Do you always have to go to bed at the same time as your baby if you co-sleep? I want ME time at the end of the day!

Another great question, and again, the answer will truly be - it depends.

Personally, I tried VERY hard to teach my babies to fall asleep on their own or to go to bed at first without me. Then, when they'd wake at night for the first feeding, the co-sleeping would begin. However, sometimes babies (like my second child) refuse to sleep anywhere but with mommy... ever. This can be incredibly exhausting, draining, and frustrating. I know - I've lived it.

With my baby that was this way, it started from birth. We co-slept in the hospital bed his first night out of the womb to stop his screaming from the bassinet. He knew where he needed to be, and he wouldn't settle for any place else. At first I thought it was sweet. In those first post-baby emotions, your newborn can do no wrong. After about two weeks of this, I was already exhausted with it. I just wanted a minute for myself! The truth is, I rarely got it. I know this isn't what you want to hear if you are struggling with a baby or toddler like this currently, but I want to let you know that it does happen to lots of moms and babies/toddlers.. and it also ENDS for us as well.

My little man spent some duration of each night in my bed for his first 3 years. Yes... three YEARS. Trust me, I did EVERYTHING to try to stop it. I did the Super Nanny technique of simply putting him back into bed each time he would get up. It would go on for hours before he would finally fall asleep in his bed. Then, he'd be back up a few hours later. I was determined, so I settled for exhaustion and continued the marathon "put him back in bed" routine for days and days on end. It just would not work for him. We were both exhausted, I was super angry with him, and in the morning I didn't even want to look at him because he had kept me up all night.. again.

Just like with realizing spanking wasn't for me.. I realized this was NOT for me. Not with this child, anyway. I turned to my attachment parenting friends for help. Their advice: put a pallet or mattress on the floor beside your bed and tell him he can sleep there, or in his bed. I agreed to try it, not thinking he would EVER settle for the floor of our room. But, he did! He slept on a crib mattress beside our bed from the ages of 2.5 to a little over 3. Once he hit age 3, he was finally able to transition to his room. He'd spend a few nights a week in his bed in his room, and a few nights still in our room. By age 4, he was mostly in his room and we removed the mattress from our floor. (we talked about how when he turned 4 the mattress would be gone to try to prepare him.)

He did okay with it. He sometimes would cry beside my bed wanting to sleep in the floor, but I'd take him back to his room, comfort him, and he would eventually settle back in for the night.

Now, age 5, he's 100% in his bed. All night - every night. No waking up, no waking us up. Ahh.. sweet sleep.

I will say that he is the only of the three that struggled like this. His baby brother slept through the night before he did. Seriously. When it comes to your children, they are all different and that's why no one technique will work on them all. Some of your infants and toddler - you may have to go to bed when they do for a while. The goal, in my opinion, is to SLOWLY wean them from it in a non-traumatic way.

For Carter - giving him a teeny tiny flashlight worked wonders! He only got to play with it at bedtime. I would tell him that if he'd lay quietly BY HIMSELF, that he could have the flashlight. He'd almost always fall asleep with it still shining - no mommy required. He still sleeps with that flashlight, actually!

Some moms I know swear by sticker charts. There's not even a reward for earning a certain number of stickers.. just the joy of getting a sticker! (it works!)

Somtimes you can just start with, "Lay here by yourself first, Mommy has to do something and then I'll be back." At first, only be gone for a minute or two at most... keep to your word. Then, slowly lengthen the time it takes you to come back until you can say, "Go on to sleep and I'll be in later." This can be a S-L-O-W process. Stay patient and remember that you are your child's only real security in this world. It makes sense that they need you in the scary night.

Co-sleeping can be a parent's best friend if done correctly. Not all kids may need it, but if yours does, I hope this gives you a few pointers on how to start it safely, and how to begin the ending process when you are ready. When it feels like your toddler will truly NEVER sleep alone, keep in mind that it is highly unlikely that your 16 year old will come home one night, toss the keys on the nightstand, and crawl into bed with Mom and Dad. All good things must come to an end... just hang in there!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Parenting Method: Attachment Parenting

Posted by Mandy at 12:49 PM 3 comments Links to this post
Attachment Parenting is the method of raising, disciplining, and caring for children that I have become quite passionate about. Being a mommy that believes in these methods can sometimes feel lonely for mothers, but rest assured that there are many, many moms in the world that naturally follow this same method. Even if they are unaware it has a name.

What is Attachment Parenting?

Defining attachment parenting could be a quite lengthy post. I think it can suffice to say that often times attachment parenting is mothering and fathering children in the way that anyone would if there were no books, no peer pressure, and no elders telling you how to do "this and that."

Most parents would probably agree that a few key elements go into this method of parenting. Here is a list of some common no-no's in attachment parenting:

-crying-it-out for infants
-believing in spoiling a baby
-spanking, popping, hitting, etc
-belitting children
-yelling or screaming

Some common things you will see from people that practice some form of attachment parenting might include:

-breastfeeding, and often child-led-weaning
-baby wearing (slings and baby carriers to sooth a baby that needs to be held when parents are busy)
-responding to each infant cry
-redirection in toddler discipline or other gentle methods like time-out or taking away an object
-modeling the desired behavior for the child
-co-sleeping (this isn't always necessary for each baby, but rather than letting a baby cry-it-out, most AP parents rely on the family bed as a means of getting a good night's sleep.)
-taking cues from the child on when he or she is ready for certain developmental milestones (such as weaning from breast or pacifier or bottle, being ready to transition to own bed, eating solids, potty training, etc)

This is a very short and loose guide for how many parents practice attachment parenting.

I, personally, fell into attachment parenting by complete accident. I was raised in a typical southern spanking family. This was the only way I knew to discipline when I had my first child. (and probably the only method my own parents were ever taught growing up.) I quickly realized that spanking just led to frustration, anger, resentment, and hurt feelings - for both my daughter and myself. I remember her going through a pretty serious hitting phase at age 2 and smacking her back each time she'd smack me. This was advice I had been given to stop the behavior. She'd hit me, I'd hit her back. After a couple of rounds of this I realized that her anger was just growing stronger, as was mine. I thought we looked like a pair of two year olds scuffling and not a mother and a daughter in a disciplinary situation. I knew there had to be a better way.

I researched online and found a few wonderful attachment parenting message boards. What a wealth of information! I shared my struggles, my anger issues, and poured my heart out to these strangers. In return I got a ton of been there - done that advice, shoulders to cry on, and information that totally changed my parenting direction!

By the time my second child was born I was armed and ready. I WOULD succeed in breastfeeding him, I WOULD be a good mom to my three year old and my newborn, I WOULD stop hitting. I chanted these things to myself constantly.

Now that I'm a mom of three, I'm working from home (and sometimes away from home), and life has gotten a bit busier, I find myself becoming frustrated more easily with the toddler antics and other struggles that can come from having kids. Just a few days ago I found myself popping my two year old's hand after he had hit me several times during a tantrum over the cake I wouldn't let him eat. (at 8am.. what a great start to the day!)

Instead of feeling super guilty like I would in the past, I simply took a breath, picked him up, and sat him in time-out for hitting. When his time-out was over we hugged, kissed, and we both said we were sorry for hitting. I always end it with, "WE don't hit."

So, even though I've been on this attachment parenting journey for several years, I definitely still can struggle. Some days I lose my temper and yell at the big kids, I get upset over things I shouldn't, and sometimes I have days that I wonder if I did a single thing right in the parenting department. The good news is, most parents DO. No matter what most blog posts say, no matter how commited to attachment parenting someone seems to be, EVERYONE has bad days. The good news is, the more you practise self-control, the more natural it becomes to not hit, to not yell, to not berate.

My number one piece of advice to anyone looking into attachment parenting for themselves is to follow your instincts. If it makes you sick to your stomach to hear your infant cry, then for goodness sakes pick that baby up! Imagine how he must feel. There's a reason nature designed mothers to immediately respond to their baby's helpless pleas.. don't fight it. It is natural.

If cosleeping just seems natural to you - don't fight it. Research it, do it safely, and sleep peacefully.

If gentle discipline sounds like something you would like to learn more about, then do! I will likely follow this post up with my own methods of discipline for those that are interested. I know how hard it is, like I said, I still struggle!

Number two piece of advice - don't mistake attachment parenting for permissive parenting. Know when to make your toddler wait verses jumping up for their every whim, know when to say no and mean it, know when to make something a battle and when to let it go. Know that you respecting your child teaches them a lot about respecting others. They learn best from example.

FYI: though I do enjoy a good debate, this post is strictly for those in search of information on attachment parenting. If this  method is not for you, please do not feel the need to tell me or others. Thank you.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Balloon Boy's Flight Just a Hoax?

Posted by Mandy at 1:00 PM 1 comments Links to this post
Is there a bigger, or more bizarre story, right now than the "Balloon Boy"? If you've been living in a cave over the past week, here's the quick run-down.

Richard and Mayumi Heene claimed that their six-year-old son, Falcon, had climbed into a basket attached to a giant helium balloon that they created in their yard. When the balloon was to be inflated, it was supposed to be tethered, to avoid lift-off. Instead, it went soaring into the air. The Heene family claimed that they thought the little boy was being lifted off with the balloon, and went into total parental freak-out mode. (as would I...)

After authorities, and even the National Guard, were called in to help search for this poor child, and the balloon finally slowly drifted to the ground - no Falcon was to be found. No Falcon, and no basket attached to the balloon. Now the questions got more intense, "Did he fall out?" "Did we miss the basket falling away from the balloon?" "Where is he?!"

Long story short - he was found hiding in the garage at his house.. safe and sound. He had never been in any danger. At first this was a cause for serious celebration! Now, it is being called a huge scandal. Authorities are claiming that evidence suggests that the family planned the entire ordeal as a way of gaining media attention, in hopes of helping themselves get a reality show of their own.

"It has been determined that this is a hoax. We believe we have evidence at this point to indicate that this was a publicity stunt," Alderden told reporters. FOX News

Wow... would someone REALLY do such a thing? The family claims that they are not lying, but authorities are claiming to have factual evidence to suggest otherwise. I suppose only time will tell.

What do you think? Is this a family that is just purely motivated by publicity, or have they been wrongly accused over a truly horrifying event in their lives?

Read the complete story at Fox News.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Most Sensitive Pregnancy Tests

Posted by Mandy at 5:27 PM 2 comments Links to this post

With my expansion of readership, I've gotten several messages saying that I'm neglecting my many friends that are trying to conceive or are currently pregnant. Yes, I must admit that I have! When you're no longer in that phase yourself, it is hard to write on such topics. I asked them all to give me what they'd love for me to blog about - and I was excited to hear that a lot of the info they want is factual. Mainly - PREGNANCY TEST INFORMATION. I vividly recall reading everything I could get my hands on about pregnancy tests when trying to conceive Samuel, so, I will happily share what I have learned over my own infertility struggle with anyone that finds themself in the same boat.

Let's keep this pretty simple. You want to know: What is the most sensitive pregnancy test on the market? The answer might surprise you!

One of the most sensitive tests available in the USA comes in a simple box in a store that many children love. The $Tree. Oh yes... that cheap looking $1 pregnancy test behind the counter is said to be a highly sensitive brand. Some tests show it to measure as little as 17mIU (mIU = thousandths of International Units). When testing early and often, those $Tree tests become a baby-obsessed girl's best friend!

Amazingly, the Dollar Store's brand of pregnancy test also ranks as another of the most sensitive measuring around 20mIU. Another great deal - another great pregnancy test.

If you're okay with spending more, First Responce Early Result test claims to measure as little as 15mIU.. but may need as much as 25mIU to detect pregnancy.

Most of the well known tests turn positive with 25+ mIU. Brands such as:

Target Brand - 25mIU
Walgreens +/- - 25mIU
Fact Plus - 25mIU
Equate - 25mIU
EPT - 25mIU
Cearblue Easy - 25mIU
Answer - 25mIU

My pregnancy test of choice was always $tree. Cheap and accurate. The only downside with cheaper tests, from personal experience, is there is an increased chance for evaporation lines. (dull colored lines that appear in the positive section of a pregnancy test - typically occur well after the recommended "reading" time.)

One downfall that some of my online TTC friends have encountered with the very sensitive tests is detecting a pregnancy very early, only to have it end in a very early miscarriage. Often times a miscarriage can occur so early that a woman would have never known she was pregnant at all. This can lead to a lot of emotional stress - so choose wisely how much you really want to know when seeking out the appropriate test for your situation. Many of these sensitive tests might detect pregnancy a few days before your period is even late.

If you have your own pregnancy test advice to share, drop it in the comments section. Many women will read this and you never know who it might help. Happy testing!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Parents' Inability to Sleep Post Children

Posted by Mandy at 6:25 AM 1 comments Links to this post
Each time I was expecting a baby, I knew to expect sleepless nights once the little screamer arrived. I learned this, especially, after the second baby...

What I didn't know to expect was my own inability to sleep through the night once my children were older. I never could have imagined lying awake in bed as my three kids slept peacefully all night long. What gives?

Over the past few months Clayton and I have been noticing that at least one of us is up EVERY night. I can't remember the last time I slept a full night through. Often times I wake up and try to avoid looking at the alarm clock in hopes of not starting the "it's 4am now, if I go back to sleep soon I can get another two hours of sleep before the alarm goes off..." "... now it's 5am... come on! Go back to sleep! Only one more hour!" cycle. Many of you probably know how fun this torturous game can be.

What I find astonishing is how when I first wake up, say at 4am, I am totally awake. I could hop out of bed and begin my day! I often think to myself how I wish it was already 6am and I felt so great! But, then what happens... I finally go back to sleep, only to be jerked awake much too soon by the alarm clock. Where is that great, "I wish it were time to wake up now," feeling then?

I've done some digging to find out how I can help myself stay asleep all night, and I'm coming up empty handed. Most suggestions are things like exercise more, lose weight, avoid caffeine in the evening, keep a bedtime routine, yadda, yadda, yadda. I'm jogging 1.5 miles a day, I'm at a healthy weight, and I stop all caffeine after 4 or 5pm. (unless friends are over... some ppl socially drink alcohol, I socially drink Coke Zero.) My bedtime routine is fairly set in stone.

Am I hopeless? Is this why my own mother has always woken up for an hour or two around 3am, unable to go back to sleep? Did I ruin her? Have my kids ruined me?!

I suppose if you keep the routine of never sleeping going for several years, through several children, your body adjusts to it. Why won't my brain realize that there is no reason for me to be wide awake at night anymore and let me sleep? Doesn't it know that one of the main reasons I don't want to have more babies is for that exact reason? I'm tired of being tired?

Have any of you found this to be true as well? At least temporarily? Does it ever end?

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Arkansas State Fair

Posted by Mandy at 12:55 PM 3 comments Links to this post
Being the law-enforcement family that we are, we committed the crime of truancy and let our children skip school Wednesday so that we could go to the State Fair. (can't help it.. when Daddy works weekends, you party when you can...)

We had such a blast!! I think the State Fair gets better every single year. We spent SIX HOURS there.. playing and eating. The time went by so quickly!

My children definitely inherited their father's addiction to adrenaline. They wanted to ride everything! The bigger, the faster, the better. Oh my... I was a nervous wreck on a few of the rides I hesitantly allowed them to partake in. Just watching them made my stomach turn! Here is a summary of our day - in pictures: and excuse the mess of pics.. blogger has changed how pics appear and I have no idea how to organize them...

Madison getting ready for Extreme Jump!
Loved the FFA children's barn! Daddy riding the roller coaster with Samuel.My insane kids riding the Himilaya! The Wiggle Worm - the baby was the best entertainment!

This is how you get E.Coli. Thankfully they had handwashing stations EVERYWHERE!

Carter doing Extreme Jump and loving it!

Carter riding the crazy race cars.. and loving it..

Another round on the Himilaya...

Carter being sweet and riding 'baby rides' with Samuel. First concert! Okay.. just a sound check.. but still..

End of the day... even with the sun blazing in through the windows (and thank God for the sun after so much rain over the past week!) the kids sacked right out.

Honestly, I don't think the day could have possibly been any better. We visisted every booth, saw every ride, and rode most of them, petted all of the animals, got food and sweet treats, and laughed so much that my muscles are sore today. Clayton and I talked almost the entire way home about what a blast it was! We can't wait to do it again next year!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

72 Year Old Grandmother Tasered... and she DESERVED IT!

Posted by Mandy at 6:06 AM 4 comments Links to this post
I had to blog about this after seeing the segment on the Today Show. If you haven't seen this video yet, click here. If my link doesn't work for some reason, just Google "72 year old grandmother tasered."

Being the wife of a State Trooper always makes me bias, I'm aware. But, this woman not only was legitimately pulled over for speeding in a construction zone, but she then berated the cop, refused to sign the ticket (immediately suggesting that her age should mean she didn't deserve to be pulled over in the first place), then disobeyed his orders after he got her out of the car. They were standing by the truck right on the white line of the highway when he finally shoved her off of the road. (the shove so many are outraged over.) Give me a break!!

I pray my husband would shove an old woman, too, in this case! Do you have any idea how many cops are killed each year from circumstances like these? Being hit by oncoming traffic is one of the most dangerous aspects of the job! (and, for those of you that still don't slow down or move over when going past ANY lighted vehicles (highway workers, ambulances, firetrucks,etc)... consider yourselves part of the problem..)

This woman then decided the stop was over and said she was getting back into her car! Oh yeah.. that's going to happen. So, the cop has three options.

Option 1 - let her go... yeah... sure...

Option 2 - Put hands on her, possibly hurt her, and manhandle her into handcuffs and into the back of his car. Oh the outrage!

Option 3 - Taser her... make her stop resisting arrest, and take her safely to jail.

Option 3 was the right choice, and the one he made.

Of course, no one wants to think of a little old grandma being tasered by the big bad stupid cop. (since this is the general reaction of the public.) But, think of the alternative! You don't reach an age that you are suddenly above the law! Old or young... if you start a fight with the police, chances are it ain't ending well for ya.

This woman then sued, and was given $40,000 OUT OF COURT. She sued for "pain and suffering." Give me a break! So, anyone that breaks the law, fights with the cops, resists arrest, and winds up tasered should automatically be given 40 grand? Wow... maybe I should try really hard to get pulled over today! I'll be sure to immediately begin my dialogue with the cop by saying, "You're pulling over a 5'3", 26 year old woman? Really? Just a little woman?!" Think he'd react well to this? Hopefully not! $40,000 - here I come!

For the record, the county gave the money to avoid court costs which would have been much more than that... suckers! Pay more! Make more of an example of this lady!

Also, this woman suffered no adverse reactions after being tasered! One of the wounds where the barbs enter did get an infection... but nothing serious. And, she brought it on herself... let's not forget that.

It seems like more and more police are judged and criticisized by those that have no clue what they do for a living. You can't sit back, not know a thing about the law, not know a thing about procedure, and not know what the possible alternatives were and judge. This man did the exact right thing. I actually think he probably kept his cool a lot better than most other officers... old woman or not. How much should a cop have to take?

This is just one example of why people fight with the police. Why shouldn't they? What's to stop them?

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