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Baby’s First Family Photo Album

I’ve been struggling for years with the fact that we don’t live in the same city as any of my or Mr. Starfish’s family members. Of course, these feelings only intensified once the girls were born and it often makes me sad that they don’t have any grandparents or aunts and uncles to see on a regular basis in the same city. While a move to an area with more family may be in the cards for us one day in the future, the fact is that it won’t be happening for quite some time.

One great easy and affordable way that we’ve brought family into the girls’ lives on a daily basis is through a baby family album. I can’t personally take credit for this idea; it was something that our nanny recommended when the girls were about four and three months old.

I hadn’t even heard of such a thing when she mentioned it but a quick Amazon search yielded a handful of options. I ended up purchasing this one because I liked the sleeves for larger 5×7 photos. Once the photo album arrived, I spent some time selecting photos of all of the girls’ family members. When I could, I tried to select photos that included the girls with their various family members. I sent the prints to Walgreens when they were having a 40% off sale and finished the project in less than a week.

In the beginning, I’ll admit that the girls didn’t seem too interested in their family photo album. I incorporated it into our morning story time each day by pointing to each photo and reciting the individual’s name. Similar to their reaction in those early months to the books I was reading them, I didn’t get much of a response. Still, I kept it up and recently the girls have started to take an interest in the album and the pictures at 10 months and 9 months old.

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Retrospective: Best and Worst of Age 18-24 Months

At 18-24 months, our little one started wanting to do things on his own, had a huge language explosion leading to full sentences and showed us how much fun imaginative play could be! He developed a better memory, able to recite lines from books and sing songs. There was so much to love about this age!

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Climbing all by himself!

Biggest Challenges:

  • Tantrums. While tantrums improved during this time period and we had less full scale meltdowns (likely because Lion’s language skills really skyrocketed around 18 months). I still find tantrums tiring. Often times, I feel like I made the mistake of trying to ward off the tantrums by trying to figure out what Lion wanted and giving him too many choices. Whenever Lion was on edge, I would be desperate to try to avoid a tantrum, but that just exhausted me. I learned that when I was able to ignore the tantrum, I was left with more energy.

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Unexpected Cesarean Recovery Moments

I think many women that experienced a Cesarean birth can attest that the recovery time is longer than expected — the pain that lingers, the tenderness, the numbness and the overall length of time it takes to feel normal again. I have asked my friends many “Is this normal?” questions throughout my recovery process. My belly is still tender in areas, and I honestly still felt swollen for a good three months.

Well, at four and a half months post part, I was surprised yet again at another Cesarean recovery moment. Thankfully this one happened at the doctor’s office for W’s four-month appointment. While in the waiting room, I went to the bathroom to pee. Much to my surprise after I wiped I noticed something greenish blue. After a WTF moment, I realized they were stitches. I quickly composed myself and got back out to notice Mr. M had already left the exam room with W. I waited until the nurse left the room and told him what happened (since he was wondering why I was gone for so long).

I asked my doctor when she came in the room, and while we all shared a bit of a this is a really weird moment. She wasn’t concerned. She did an external exam of my uterus and incision, said everything looked and sounded normal. She told me to keep an eye on how I felt to ensure that I didn’t have an infection or anything, but said, as weird as it was, it does happen on rare occasions and that she had seen it before. Her explanation was that a piece of the dissolving stitch hadn’t been attached to tissue, which it needed to be to dissolve, and so, my body is doing its job of working its way out.

I was a bit rattled by the whole experience and was reminded yet again how Cesareans are major abdominal surgery and that recovery takes time.

Gross. Weird. Slightly disturbing. Apparently normal.

Did you have any weird postpartum recovery moments? 

plane ride activities for my toddler and preschooler

We have a couple family trips planned in the next few months that involve flying. We fly about once a year so the activities that occupy the kids change every time we fly. Our first trip will be about 4.5 hours out to the Pacific Northwest (a first time for all of us) and I am especially excited. The part of the trip I probably dread the most is the plane ride so I am always looking for fun and engaging activities to keep my toddler and preschooler busy. Here are some activities that my kids would certainly enjoy.

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Activities for my 4 year old

1) Gel pens – Lil’ Pizza has been obsessed with her gel pens and uses them daily for writing letters, coloring, and drawing. I like to keep them in a pencil case so it’s easier for travel.

2) Audiobooks – Lil’ Pizza loves listening to audiobooks and it is something I have been so thankful to have discovered with her. Sometimes it keeps her occupied and quiet for over an hour! I usually borrow from my local library through the Hoopla app. I will probably also bring a few books on the plane for her that she has memorized and can “read” on her own.

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Night-weaning, and FINALLY Sleeping Through the Night

Baby Oats is nearly 18 months old, and the last few weeks have been hell on the sleep front. Several days in a row, he was up every half hour all night. Bedtime was a struggle; he was still nursing to sleep, but he would comfort nurse for up to two hours at once. After fighting and fighting, he would eventually give in and fall asleep around 10pm. I felt more sleep-deprived than I had in the newborn days…and that’s saying something. After 3 weeks of this disaster, we came to two conclusions. 1. Sleep ‘regression’ or not, the habits Baby Oats was developing were NOT okay, and 2. The nursing to sleep had to stop.

Here’s a little background information: Around 5 months, we sleep-trained Baby Oats using a method recommended by a local sleep consultant. It was magical, and suddenly, Baby Oats was napping like a dream, and sleeping 12 hours at night. This continued until 9 months, when he started waking once a night again to nurse. I really didn’t mind, because he would nurse for 10 minutes, then go right back to his bed, asleep. So, heading into our second ’round’ of sleep training, we knew that he DIDN’T need to nurse during the night, and that he was capable of falling asleep on his own. He’d just gotten out of practice.

The Method: Now that Baby Oats is older, we have a much better idea of his temperament and personality. We knew that, unlike last time, sitting beside his crib and shushing him would not be comforting. Instead, it would just make him angry, and he’d probably try to climb out to grab us. I wasn’t comfortable with full-on extinction method, though I know that works for some. Cry-it-out with checks worked wonders with Little Oats, so that was our game plan. We also knew we had to get a better bedtime routine in place, separated enough from nursing that he wouldn’t get confused.

Night One:

Baby Oats nursed at 6:30, then we read books, sang songs, and zipped him into his sleep sack. Mr. O carried him upstairs to his crib, and laid him down with his pacifier and white noise. Then he closed the door and left.

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Children’s Music that’s Parent Approved

It’s funny and sad when I find myself with a song from one of Petit Macaron’s toys stuck in my head, or something from Sesame Street perhaps. I’ll be doing something, even after the little guy has gone off to bed, and find myself humming one of these songs. Ahh!

I’m also sad to report that I know very little about what songs are popular right now. Mind you, I’ve never really been one of those people that can rattle off music trivia or name songs and artists from a snippet of a song, but I did know what was “hot” at the moment. With Petit Macaron at 14 months, I’m not totally immersed into the children’s music…yet. I do get a song on the radio every so often as I run errands, but I know my time is limited and I’ll be playing kids songs non-stop very soon. But maybe there is hope. I discovered some fun music that can be adult enjoyable. Here’s what I found:

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Caspar Babypants

Caspar Babypants is a favorite of mine. The artist is Chris Ballew, who is actually the singer from The Presidents of the United States of America, an alternative rock band. He has done some Beatles covers, which are great. He also has created some original songs that are quirky and catchy. I particularly enjoy Mister Rabbit, My Flea has Dogs, Them Bones, and Stompy the Bear. There are some music videos that are fun as well.

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26 Spring Crafts for kids of all Ages

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It hardly seems possible that Spring is already upon us and the aisles at Target are fully stocked with pastel colors and Easter inspiration. While Max isn’t quite ready to have free range with the glue stick, I’m thrilled that he has started showing interest in art projects. These days he loves coloring and anything he can put stickers on (which is apparently everything). In fact most days his teachers are probably surprised by the assortment of stickers covering his legs.

Here is a roundup of adorable craft ideas for kids of all ages. The list is ordered easiest to hardest.

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