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The Longest Ongoing Parenting Challenge

…has been sleep. My kids are 6 and 8 and we still have nightly bedtime battles.

Figuring out sleep was the hardest part of being a new parent. I had absolutely no prior experience with babies, and putting them down for so many naps a day was not easy! Then we went through sleep regressions, sleep training, short naps, early wake-ups, not sleeping through the night, and cosleeping that first year. We were constantly tired.

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Year 1-2 was a little easier, although we still dealt with early morning wake-ups. We also had some regressions and had to re-sleep train, dropping from 2 naps to 1 was a month+ long process, and the more verbal he became the most requests Charlie had — like singing to him until he fell asleep. And for a long time we were holding hands with Charlie through his crib slats and would fall asleep on the floor next to him. But it was much easier than year one!

Year 2-3 was a tough year with both kids because we switched from a crib to a toddler bed. Bedtime shenanigans ensued for pretty much the entire year – getting out of bed, asking for water, asking for another story… Plus juggling the different sleep needs of an infant and an active toddler was something new we had to navigate.

Year 3-4 was the year of dropping the final nap. Sleep schedules were erratic because they were napping too long in daycare pushing their bedtime later, or because they couldn’t make it to bedtime and had a late nap. Dropping the final nap was also a months long process for both kids.

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Toddler Foot Overpronation

Ever since my daughter Audrey started walking, we noticed that her gait was a bit different. She was late to the walking game, starting around 15 months. And once she took off, we saw that she seemed to walk on the extreme insides of her feet, with her feet pointing outward, and with her little toes gripping the ground very hard. Her gait was extremely different from her twinbling sister, who walked in the more traditional pigeon-toed toddler style.

Audrey's typical outward-facing foot walking style.
Audrey’s typical outward-facing foot walking style.

We asked our pediatrician about Audrey’s walking style at her 15-month well-check, but because she had only just started to walk, we decided together to wait a few weeks and see if it improved naturally. Still, we received a referral to a physical therapist at that same appointment and I kept the contact information handy.

Over the next few weeks, we bought Audrey some sturdy high-top shoes that we hoped would help stabilize her ankles. While this helped a bit, we remained concerned and so we reached out and made an appointment with the physical therapist. Audrey’s first PT appointment took place around her 17-month birthday.

The physical therapist finally gave us a word for Audrey’s different style of walking – overpronation. This basically means that the foot rolls in a little too much. She noticed that Audrey has pretty flat feet, and we learned that overpronation is often seen in flat footed kiddos. She also asked us several questions about Audrey’s physical and body movements, and we mentioned that Audrey’s first nickname was “Floppy” because she always seemed to flop around, ever since birth, with little control over her body and muscles. The PT gave us a better word for that as well – low muscle tone. She explained that overpronation and low muscle tone are often also seen together.

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A Tiny New Gumdrop!

If I’ve been quiet, here is my secret – first trimester exhaustion!

The Gumdrops are thrilled to be expanding and are hoping for another smooth pregnancy. I feel like I’ve had very little energy for anything beyond the basics, but it’s been more doable to be pregnant and raising a toddler than I worried it might be.

Here are some things that have already been different for my second pregnancy and that I anticipate will be different this time around.

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First Indications
With my First Pregnancy: Emotions running wild were my first indication and I knew then that I was pregnant. I took a pregnancy test and the second line was so light but there.

With my Second Pregnancy: Two days of bright red occasional spotting – I definitely thought my period was starting! I took a pregnancy test and it was almost immediately a very solid double line.

Nausea
First: I spent about 6 weeks on the couch eating saltines. I remember the nausea was pretty rough for those weeks. I couldn’t find a way around it and threw up a few times a week. I was working on my laptop from a laying down position for most of that time and napped a lot.

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Panda is Two!

Two years ago, we welcomed the sweetest little baby into our family. After our first baby had colic, I was shocked by Panda’s easygoing temperament and tendency to sleep all the time. Today, he is still the super sweet, super cuddly baby we met two years ago, and I feel so lucky that he is part of our family.

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Playing at the tire park

His teachers all comment on how sweet he is, how he’s always trying to help his friends, and loves giving hugs. I always ask how his day was and one of his teachers said, “I don’t think he’s ever had a bad day. He’s always so nice to his friends a a great helper!” He does have a bossy streak in him, something that his teachers have also noted, and doesn’t like it when his friends don’t follow the rules or clean up when they’re supposed to.

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9 ways I teach my kids to resolve conflict

The best thing about having two kids is watching their bond grow over time.   It is such a beautiful sight to witness as a parent when I see my girls laughing and playing well together.
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Lil’ Pizza is 5 years old and Baby Pizza is 2.5 years old and they are often running off on their own and playing together.  The girls get along most of the time but there are moments (almost daily) when they are faced with a conflict. I wanted to teach them the skills to resolve conflict on their own at an early age so there are a few things we do fairly consistently in our home. I have to admit that it definitely helps that my oldest is fairly mild mannered and tries to be the understanding and nurturing older sister. Here are some of the things that I do with the kids that I have found helpful.
Calm down first
Sometimes one of the girls will get so worked up that I have to help calm her down before she can even think to address the conflict. Often, a comforting hug or a few deep breaths is all that is needed before the girls feel ready to address the problem.

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What a Difference a Year Makes

It was this week last year that I found out that I was pregnant. This ended in an early loss and at the time, it shook me to my core and really messed with my head. I was desperate to be pregnant again and have my wish of three children be my reality, but Mr. Cereal just wasn’t on board at the time. Fast forward to now, and although I still think I would like to have three children, my feelings are much less intense, and my life has changed considerably in the last year. I can still feel the overwhelming grief and sadness I went through, and the feeling of being completely lost and alone, but things got better, and they also got very different. So what happened? A lot…

In the few months after the loss, I shut myself off from a lot of my life. I focused on finishing my masters degree, and Mr. Cereal and I went to a few counseling sessions together. I can honestly say that there were times that I hated Mr. Cereal and I resented the fact that he was not on board with having another baby. It was a really hard time for us. We were struggling to understand each other, I was busy trying to handle working full time, being successful in school, giving the kids enough time and attention, and slogging through each work day that I hated. It was just kind of a miserable time. But around April, things started to get better. I completed my thesis project and it was accepted, which meant that my last term of school was much less stressful, and I started to transition into a new job.

So here’s the thing, and this is something I have a really hard time with. If I had remained pregnant, if we had had a third child in October, we would not be in the place we are right now. I started my new job on October 1st after 6 months of working my way to it, and I have never been happier professionally speaking. My job is amazing, and I am happy at work. The kids are getting easier. LeLe is in school three days a week and she is becoming more and more independent. Little Bug is talking so much more, he is getting close to being potty trained, and life just seems slightly easier. Throwing a baby into that mix would have been doable, yes, but I honestly don’t think we would be where we are right now. If I am completely upfront, I absolutely would not have my current job if I had an infant right now and as messed up as this is to say, I doubt I would have even been considered for this position if I had been pregnant at the time.

Another reason I am content where we are right now is that I feel comfortable in my body. It was really hard on my body being pregnant four times in three years, and I feel like I am stable now. I feel like my body image is the best it has been in a while, and this is hard for me to reconcile with because the thought of gaining a bunch of weight and being uncomfortably pregnant is just not that appealing. Not to mention the two years after giving birth that my body is not fully my own while I am breastfeeding. I am just not sure that I want to give up the freedom I feel and that makes me feel powerful, and a little selfish. When I think about how desperately I wanted another baby at this time last year, I feel sort of badly for being happy with where I am now.

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My easy morning makeup/skincare routine

I barely have any reason to put on any makeup since I’m mostly home all day, but when I do I make sure it can all happen within 10 minutes! Here are my current products that are part of my morning routine:tinted-sunscreen-spf30

1.) Glowbiotics Tinted Sunscreen (and primer) – I love how this product is a moisturizer, sunscreen and makeup primer all in one! It saves the time of having to apply 3 different products. It’s a little pricey at $65, but a small dab goes a long way. I’ve noticed a difference in my makeup going on more smoothly and staying put throughout the day. The color isn’t too strong and seems to blend in nicely!

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2.) Neutrogena colored chapstick (with SPF) – I love this chapstick so much, I have several everywhere so that I can use it at anytime! I have one in the car, one in my purse, one in the stroller organizer, and one in my favorite jacket pocket. The colors really make your lips pop (without looking too crazy) and the quality of the chapstick is really great. I’m one of those people that go nuts when I can’t find my chapstick so when I find one that I like, I make sure that I always have them around!

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3.) Laura Mercier Foundation Powder – I love this foundation powder because it’s so light and natural. I use a big powder brush after my concealers and it seems to do a great job at covering up any redness or blotchy spots. Since I brush this product on most of the time, it lasts forever!

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4.) MILK Makeup Spray – I was given this as a gift and it works great! All you need is 2 sprays on your face and it gives a little boost for hydrating and keeping your makeup on. It seems to be more natural and lighter than the typical makeup sprays.

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5.) Son & Park Beauty Water – I absolutely love this product! It’s a very simple, clean toner that has the most addicting, wonderful scent. The bottle is also a bit pricey at $30, but you can usually find some coupons online. It also goes a long ways! My skin feels so hydrated and refreshed after applying this. I use this for night and day.

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6.) Neutrogena Pencil Eyeliner – I always have this pencil eyeliner with me just in case, but I typically use this on my waterline around my eyes. (Mostly, my top waterline only.) It glides on well but also isn’t too runny/wet so it stays put. I use the sponge part to smudge the ends of my eyes if I feel like going for a darker look.

I won’t look very glamorous but they are my absolute go-to products for each morning! What are some things you guys are putting on an everyday basis?

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