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Preparing For Our 18 Month Sibling Age Gap

When venturing into our parental journey, our hope was always to have our second child when our first was around two years old. Once Roman reached 6 months, I secretly started fantasizing about having another much sooner. Strangely enough, before that 6 month point I had trouble imagining having another at all. I wasn’t traumatized by my experience with Roman; I was just so intensely attached to him that having another baby felt like a betrayal of some sort.

At my last ob appointment, while I was buckling Roman into his stroller to leave, my doctor said, “Aren’t you a little sad, he’s still just a baby?”

I’m not sad, so apparently I went from one extreme to the other. I feel happy for my children that they will have each other through all their years. I daydream about them playing together, about family dance parties and adventures. (I feel it is important to document this now, so my future self can look back and laugh when they are pulling each others hair out.)

After finding out I was pregnant with our second baby I was so hungry for feedback on what to expect with this 18 month age gap. Every mother I encountered at the playground with a toddler and an infant was greeted with the ever popular, “how old are they?” followed by a slew of more questions if it turned out they were in fact “two under two.” I quickly got the impression that it isn’t something people like to talk about, as it seems they’ve learned already that when it comes to siblings it all depends on the individual children and every age gap has its perks and drawbacks through different phases.

I was also just so curious what to expect of my son as an 18 month old. How much will he understand; how well will he be able to express himself; what milestones and behavior bumps will he be experiencing? After some observation of 18 month olds, I concluded there will be no predictability with this either. Roman recently experienced a long independent streak followed by an intensely clingy phase, suddenly exhibiting jealousy when he sees me holding another baby or hugging family members. I am completely clueless as to what the next 4 months might bring. Right now he hasn’t the slightest idea what is going on. We point to my belly and say, “Isn’t mamma’s belly getting big?” but he has no interest. I can picture him looking at his sister with sweet curiosity, the way I see him check out the other infants he’s encountered, but I can’t imagine how this will affect him, what he’ll think, and how long it will take him to understand.

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Creative Play with a Sticky Mat

Have you noticed that little ones love stickers and sticking things onto other things? Glue sticks are practically magic! A fun twist on this is a sticky mat, and it’s perfect for even toddlers to explore!

This simple and fun activity is basically a sheet of self-adhesive paper that you can attach lots of different things to, all without glue. And because only the mat is sticky, you won’t have things getting stuck in places they shouldn’t.

Many items can be stuck down and removed, ready to be stuck down again, although some things (like tissue paper) will stay stuck for good. After you’re done or all of the stickiness is gone, you can throw away the mat and start fresh next time.

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Becoming a Big Sister

When I was still pregnant, I wasn’t terribly concerned with how Aliya would adjust to being a big sister. I knew she loved babies — sometimes she would go up to the random baby at the park and try to give them hugs and kisses (this was before we had a discussion with her about boundaries). Everyone would look at me and say, “She needs a sibling!”

And so when we brought baby home, I was more concerned with her trying to smother her brother. And true to form, she would bring him stuffed animals, cover him with a blanket, sing him songs, tell him stories, cover him with stickers, and pat him when he started crying. It is heartwarming to watch, but more often than not, we have to remind her to give her brother space.

We did a couple of things to prepare her for becoming a big sister:

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We Go to Church

Disclaimer: I’m talking about religion. These are my beliefs, and though I hold them dear, I also respect your beliefs, non-beliefs and personal decisions. 

I grew up in church. We attended every Sunday, there was youth group midweek, and more often than not, I was volunteering as well. Mr O and I met at church, we were married in the same church, and (since Mr O is a pastor), our faith is a very important part of our lives. It was vital to my state of mind during our infertility journey, and I believe wholeheartedly that Little Oats is a gift from God.

When we had Little Oats, we knew that we wanted her to grow up knowing the God that we know. We wanted her to have a church home that she would feel safe in. We knew the importance of having other adults in her life who would guide her (especially when she won’t listen to Mom and Dad). And since we both believe that God comes first in our lives, we knew He would be a big part of Little Oats’ story. To incorporate our faith into our lives, there are a few steps we take:

1. We go to church: As a toddler, Little Oats learns three crucial things at church: that God made her, that he loves her, and that he wants to be her friend forever. Though the ins and outs of Christianity are much more nuanced than that, doesn’t it all boil down to those truths? Little Oats has the same three group leaders each week; they constantly are excited to see her, they go out of their way to make her feel welcome, and they love what they do.

2. We pray together: Whether for small things like a good night’s sleep, or the bigger issues in our lives, Mr O and I pray with and for Little Oats before bed each night. We also say grace at dinner ( and if Little Oats is particularly hungry, she cuts it short by yelling ‘Amen!’)

3. We lead by example: I could tell Little Oats all day long the importance of reading her Bible or praying…but if she doesn’t see me making time for those things in my day, I’m just a hypocrite. By making sure that our own faith is in check, we provide an example for Little Oats to learn from.

Is faith part of your lives? How do you teach your little ones what you believe?

When you’re sick…

…and you’re a mom, don’t expect to get that “rest” they tell you is so important! After having a tickle in my throat at the beginning of a long travel day of airports and planes and foolishly not having my preventative remedies (including essential oils) with me, my body gave into a nasty cold. But, upon arriving home I had to jump right back into life and work despite feeling yucky and didn’t really give my body a chance to improve. So, I present you with my list of items more likely to occur to a sick mom rather than getting much needed rest and sleep!

Instead of resting you will likely…

- spend the first night you’re sick awake with your toddler for 3 hours in the middle of the night because he woke up crying and just wouldn’t fall back asleep (which has probably only happened two other times ever); and despite trying to explain it to him, for some reason he just didn’t understand that mommy needed her sleep.
- still have to cook meals for yourself and your family – canned soups will only go so far!
- spend a great portion of your day boiling water to gargle, or drink with honey and lemon to soothe that sore throat.
- try to rest with your toddler and watch his favorite movie, only to have him get bored of it after 30 minutes and want to run around the house again.
- end up with a sick toddler as well and spend a good portion of your time cleaning out HIS nose with the Nose-Frida, filling up his humidifier and spacing out vitamins and cough syrup appropriately throughout the day.
- THEN have to sanitize the Nose-Frida after part of it landed in the toilet after said toddler thought it was hilarious to swing around his head. Yuck!
- do several loads of laundry just to keep everyone in clean underwear at the very least.
- try to take a nap while the toddler naps, but then be unable to fall asleep because you keep thinking of everything that’s NOT getting done while this attempt to rest is happening.

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D’s Journey, Part 6 – Intestinal Rehab

We last left off with D recovering from the reconnection surgery. He had lost a lot of intestines, and the surgeons told us he had 65cm left (the average for babies is 300cm). This put him at risk for “short gut syndrome” but the NICU doctors told me that the number didn’t matter as much as the function, so they moved forward assuming he would be fine. After giving him a few days to recover from the surgery, they slowly starting ramping his food (which was breastmilk through his G tube) up to the appropriate level. They said he was tolerating it fine, and he reached the full volume he needed (and was off of IV nutrition) on a Wednesday. They told me to bring in his car seat since he’d be going home on the weekend! But alas… the floor fell out from under us again.

I noticed that D’s eyes were quite yellow. I brought it up to the NICU doctors (who hadn’t noticed – this is why you have to advocate for your LO!) and they asked for a GI consult. D started getting sick again, and not acting like himself. He was pooping a LOT, had dark colored urine, and even started to run a fever. The GI docs were concerned since he wasn’t gaining weight as he should, and then they ran some tests and found out he was severely dehydrated. This indicated to his care team that he was not absorbing nutrients and fluids as he should be (ie, he had short gut syndrome), and needed some serious help. They stopped giving him breastmilk and put him back on IV nutrition, and the GI doctors requested that he be transferred out of the NICU and to their floor.


D with his yellow eyes…

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20 Best Lunchboxes for Kids

I’ve been packing lunches pretty much daily for the past 4 years, and I’ve tried a lot of lunchboxes over the years as the kids have gotten older and their needs have changed. There are so many options out there nowadays, but it can be difficult to figure out exactly what fits your needs until you’ve been packing lunches for a little while. The most important factors to consider are: 1) how much does your child eat, 2) what type of lunches do you pack (bento vs. sandwiches for example), 3) what type of container do you want? (stainless steel, plastic, weight, ease of use, etc.), and 4) how many different pieces do you want to deal with.

Because Mr. Bee and I are Japanese and Korean and bentos are part of our culture, it’s something that our kids have grown up with. Since Charlie and Olive can be particular about what they eat, bento-style lunches have really encouraged them to not only eat more, but eat more variety.

Below I’ve rounded up 20 of my favorite lunch boxes starting from $7 and up!

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