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Favorite Products to Pump at Work

Now that I’m past the half way mark in this pregnancy, I’ve started dusting off our baby stuff and organizing what we need. After going through our storage bins, I divided everything into what worked and what didn’t work. In hindsight, this step probably should have been done before going into the attic, but that’s not what I did. What was striking was how many pumping related items ended up in the “didn’t work” pile. Here are the items that ended up being the most useful for pumping at work.

Favorite-Products-to-Pump-at-Work

For Daycare

1) Inchbug custom labels – The orbit bottle labels and the clothing tag labels are an adorable and easy way to label all Max’s things. I bought a bunch of these when Max was little with his full name on it. I wish I bought labels with just our last name so we could reuse them for baby number 2. The clothing labels also come off easily if you decide to sell or donate the clothes later on.

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Musings on My Kid’s Education: 2 Years Later

Just about 2 years ago, I wrote a post about the thinking Mr. Carrot and I were starting to do about our daughter’s education. At the time, Baby C was just past 2 years old, and we were eagerly waiting for the dawn of 2017, after the presidential election and my husband’s post-election transition in the government (his boss retired at the end of 2016), to figure out next steps. Our biggest items of consideration were our housing situation (upgrading our condo to something with more space), the area where we live (currently zoned for a fairly weak school district), and finding the magical sweet spot of decent school district, a property we can afford on a government and non-profit salary, and a decent commute to and from our jobs.

We started out 2017 with a plan to list our condo and house hunt in earnest sometime in April. As lore tends to have it, our timeline started getting pushed by delays – first a health issue that led to surgery for me, then a delay in a small renovation we had planned at the advice of our realtor. At the beginning of April, we had started planning for May/June, but a number of environmental factors, including some uncertainty around my employment, which relies heavily on government purchasing, gave us some pause. After some deliberating, we decided to hold for another year and use the rest of 2017 to finish the touch-ups we wanted to make on our condo, set aside a little more money, and let my employment status (which likely isn’t in danger, but the political environment is making everyone a little antsy) stabilize.

The ramifications of this move, however, are notable, and it’s both frustrating and informative, as we gear up to restart our housing search. Just today, we had to call our county to register our daughter for afterschool care, even though she doesn’t start kindergarten for another year. In our county, the demand for pre and aftercare is so high, the registration happens a full 14 months in advance of the kids actually starting school. And we will pay nearly $600/month, assuming we get a spot. Because we didn’t move to the school district she’ll ultimately be going to school in, we had to apply for a spot in our current district, and will likely be on a lengthy wait list once we do land in our new spot. This process, and talking with parents that we have the occasion to interact with, have given us a lot to think about.

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No One Told Me: Night Wakings and Preschoolers

Seriously. This wasn’t in any of the parenting handbooks I read. I mean, I get why my baby books wouldn’t tell me. But, hey, Janet Lansbury, you could at least MENTION that one of those behaviors that you’d really like to ‘not let your three-year-old do’ is MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT WAKINGS. I thought the worst was over. I was beginning to think I could do this whole not-get-sleep-at-night thing again because, hey, squishy baby to enjoy!

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Preschoolers who wake up at 3 am are not squishy and cuddly. They are demanding and relentless and cannot be reasoned with, cajoled, or forced to sleep. I can’t pick Will up and try one of the four S’s – shushing, swinging…and I’ve forgotten the other two.

The first night Will woke up at 2 am and didn’t go back to sleep until 6 am. I chalked it up to a fluke, an anomaly, a crazy happening. (Well, after I hyperventilated, and the swooping anxiety from my postpartum days flashed scenes of endless sleepless nights before my eyes.) It would be fine! Just a hiccup. We’d had nearly two years of blissful sleep, enjoyable bedtimes, with the normal changes that come with travel and holidays.

And yet. This has persisted.

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Being Flexible Is Hard

I don’t want to sound like a broken record, but this summer has been somewhat of a struggle. We are now nearing the point of no return when it comes to getting our house sold and buying another before baby number two arrives—we have until the end of August, at which point we will most likely pull our house until next spring if we don’t get any offers. (Baby is due September 27th.) We had some unexpected repairs come up earlier this month and had to scramble to get those fixed before our house could go live again. I’m basically living my days with a mental countdown (71 days until baby number two’s due date; 45 more days to sell our house; 34 days until pre-K starts for Little Cotton Candy).

And no, unfortunately we haven’t been able to enroll Little CC in pre-K yet because we don’t know what part of town we will be living in. But with just barely over a month to go until the 2017-2018 school year starts, I’m feeling the pressure of getting him enrolled somewhere—anywhere! This week I decided that I would go ahead and try to enroll him in a school in the part of town where we currently live. The good news: I’ve heard great things about this school, he will have friends there that he knows from his current preschool, it’s an entirely dual language English/Spanish school, it’s fairly close to our (current) home, the school accepts in-district transfers. The bad news:  no one is there right now to answer my phone calls. I was able to send an email asking about my options to the school district today, so fingers crossed they get back to me with an answer soon!

Not knowing whether we are going to stay or go is, frankly, driving me crazy. Every inch of my being wants to be nesting and getting our house in order for baby number two. Instead, I am endlessly cleaning and tidying for showings and stressing about what is going to happen in the next few weeks. So I have started to do the only thing I can think to do: I am telling myself that we are staying and planning accordingly. Hence enrolling Little Cotton Candy in pre-K. This move is designed to protect myself. This way, if we don’t sell by the end of August, I won’t be as disappointed. I can start living in my house like it’s our home again—at least for the time being.

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When The Three-Day Potty Training Method is a Disaster

So this title may be overstating things a bit, but the three-day potty training method (in which you let your child run around in underwear or naked for three days so they can learn to tell when they need to potty) didn’t yield the best results for us. Instead, potty training was a much longer journey that was hampered a bit by Lion’s old daycare’s rules that underwear was only allowed after a child was dry and accident-free for two full weeks. Of course, whenever Lion was in his pull ups or a diaper, he didn’t do as good a job of using the bathroom when he needed.

We introduced Lion to the potty at around 20 months because he started showing a real interest. He would tell us whenever he peed and ask for a new diaper. Because he was in the toddler room at daycare with just five other kids, the lead teacher in his room would often encourage him to use the potty at school and he had some success with it. We didn’t want to push the potty training, though, because he was still fairly young and we had a newborn at that time. I do regret not pushing it when he first started showing interest. At that time, we would give him stickers whenever he successfully pottied and he would become very excited. He would potty almost every time he sat on the toilet, but wasn’t telling us when he needed to go. I wonder if we tried the three-day method then it would have been successful because it was something he was really interested in. If I had to do it all over again, I would have at least given it a shot.

Instead, we just kept waiting to see if things would click and didn’t try the three-day potty training method until he was about 28 months. We took him to the store to pick out underwear and he was super excited about it, but really didn’t get the concept. We tried the three-day potty training method over the course of several weekends, but I would say he still didn’t fully catch on. He liked when he was successful, but if he was busy playing with his toys he would insist that he didn’t have to potty and then promptly have an accident minutes later. It soon became a battle over the potty and he never wanted to sit on it anymore. It became increasingly frustrating for all parties involved and Mr. Dolphin and I finally decided to back off and try again in a few months.

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Gentle Sleep Training at 8 Months

I think every family has a certain level of comfort for the type of training (if any) they can do with their babies. For us, I knew that crying was something I really struggled with; however, a certain amount was going to be necessary, as my son has cried before most sleep experiences regardless of whether he was being held or on his own, unless he was being fed to sleep.

I honestly believe that it comes down to finding something that works for your child, and your comfort level as a parent. Training is tougher on you than them.

Our gentle sleep coach introduced us to the shuffle method. File this one away in something that I didn’t think I’d ever do, but in the end, both my husband and I have absolutely loved the slow process, allowing everyone time to adjust. Sleeping in his room seemed crazy to me before we started; however, after co-sleeping, by the time we got into our own bed again we were used to W in his bed, and it didn’t feel as drastic for all of us.

Basically, the method has been working in three day cycles, with us being less and less available to W as he goes to sleep.

The Shuffle Method 

Night 1-3: sitting beside crib, sleeping on the floor in his room

Night 4-6: sitting beside crib, parents back in their room

Night 7-9: sitting in doorway

Night 10-12: sitting in the hallway

Night 13+: out of visual sight, can hear you – moving on to timed checks

Throughout these nights, initially we could put our hand on W, and offer as much verbal support as necessary (songs and shushing, reiterating we were there, telling him we knew he was frustrated, but he could do it, etc.).

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Getting Your Kids to Talk to You

Something I never really considered in parenting was ways to get my kids to talk to me. This seems like such an easy task. You ask questions, they respond. But the truth is, kids are strange and their ability to answer even the simplest questions can be a challenge. So, in my quest to know as much about my kids as possible, I’ve been using some simple techniques to get them to talk to me.

One of the best places for me to be able to chat with the kids is in the car. LeLe especially is fun to talk to in the car because she loves being silly and telling me about her day. When we are going somewhere, I like to ask her questions about her favorite things. This usually gets the ball rolling, and from there, I can ask her about the things she is worried about, or the things she really wants to do. This has been working for a while now and we have been having some really interesting and fun conversations.

For Little Bug, he seems to respond well to having pretend conversations on his phone (an old phone of mine that has no battery in it). We talk on the phone and I think that the pretending is actually helping him form sentences. I also like that this is a no pressure game for him. He loves talking on his phone and it’s nice for me because I can get him to speak a little more and I can ask for clarification as well, which I think is helping his speech become more refined.

Another great place to catch the kids and get them to talk is in the bathtub. They are always so happy in the tub, so getting them to talk about their days is super easy during this time. I can also do a game with them where I ask them to name their favorite characters and this leads to favorite movies. It is a transition from a simple question to a series of simple questions. There is so much time for pretend play here and the two of them come up with some pretty crazy scenarios.

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