Twig’s Winnie the Pooh Birthday Party

Winnie the Pooh (2011) is probably my favorite kids movie. It absolutely baffles me that so many people haven’t seen it. Seriously, my husband and I enjoyed it more than the kids the first time we watched it. Luckily, Twig shares our love of Winnie the Pooh. Really, she loves Winnie the Pooh in any form. So, unsurprisingly, she wanted to have a Winnie the Pooh 3rd birthday party. And since that movie is clearly the best incarnation of Winnie the Pooh, I stuck with that movie for the theme. I’ll try to give as many links as I can for the ideas I used, but just in case I miss any (and for some ideas I didn’t end up using), here’s my Pinterest Board.

First, the invitations. I loved this idea of the honey pot, but I don’t have a special paper cutting machine and program like this lady does. So I just hand-traced a honey pot onto a piece of printer paper and used that as a stencil for tracing it onto some pretty scrapbook paper I picked up at the craft store. Twig’s favorite color is purple, so obviously we needed purple honey pots! Then I used a yellow marker to color some white letters and traced out some honey drippings onto yellow scrapbook paper. I used Disney, Winnie the Pooh, and Tigger fonts on the actual invitation part as if the big announcer voice (Disney font) was talking with the two characters chiming in their own comments.

 

Next the decorations. My amazing brother made us another banner, which I get to share with you guys again! Isn’t he great?! Here’s the link.

Didn’t realize until halfway through the party that I put the T and H up opposite.

I also drew a Backson (following along as Owl draws it in the movie) on the chalkboard. I’m seriously amazed at how much better I’m getting with drawing as I practice. Guess being a mom has given me the right motivation to learn to draw!

And I made signs with things from the movie too, making sure they were to spec by pausing the movie.

I also put up various other signs and what not that are not pictured. Links for those found here, here, and here. And I set up all our Winnie the Pooh books around the house (we have a lot!).

Now the activities! When the guests arrived, they colored. We used pots (little ceramic ones from the dollar store) to hold the crayons. They colored free coloring pages from the internet (some of which found on my Pinterest board, some I didn’t ever get around to adding it, just googled to find them).

Then we found Eeyore’s Tail (like they do in the movie). The whole scavenger hunt thing at Peanut’s Tangled party was a huge hit. Honestly I think I’ll do it every year. Kids just love hearing the silly clues (I just make a four line little rhyme that tells them where the next hiding spot is and center it around the birthday child) and figuring out where they are hidden. Peanut finger knit Eeyore’s tail.

Then we did a beehive pinata. I used a balloon to make the pinata and then decorated it to look like a beehive. I used black pom poms and wrapped them with yellow pipe cleaners to look like bees, then hot glued them on. The kids had a ton of fun with this one!

Lastly, we played Bounce Like Tigger. My original idea was a hopping contest (see who can hop the furthest), but then I realized that my mother-in-law bought a bunch of these blue bouncing balls. It turned out she had just enough for the amount of guests that were coming! So I turned on the Winnie the Pooh soundtrack and let them bounce away!

Last, but not least, the food!

I made little signs like these using pots (again from the dollar store), tissue paper, and popsicle sticks. I let Peanut write all the words so they’d look like Christopher Robin wrote them. Spelling is all hers too (though I had her re-do some of them because it was a bit too confusing).

Eeyore’s Sticks (Pretzel Sticks)

 

Hunny Candy (recipe here) “DO NOT CHEW” (turned out not quite hard enough, I think I should have let it get a bit hotter when making it)

Hunny Ham Sandwiches (just regular sandwiches make with honey ham)

Rabbit’s Veggies (with ranch)

Kanga’s Lemonade (recipe here)

Honey Cupcakes (cupcake recipe here, but I decided to use a this honey buttercream frosting instead)

And that’s it! Twig had a ball at her first ever big girl birthday party and I think the guests had a good time too. And I had a fun time planning it! Yay Winnie the Pooh!

Oh Crap Potty Training and Twig’s Potty Training Journey

I was not paid or given product for this review. I just loved this book and wanted to share it with all of you lovely people!

Last fall, I was getting pretty fed up with diapers. Twig was getting CONSTANT rashes and nothing I did (besides disposables and a thick layer of that white gook cream) helped her open sores. My kids just have ridiculously sensitive skin. She even had to have a pustule drained at the doctors office during her 18 month appointment, which I’ll tell you was not fun. Diapers needed to go. So I started looking around the internet for potty training resources and stumbled upon Oh Crap Potty Training.

This book was recommended by the lady who wrote EC Simplified (which I loved, even though I didn’t end up having the time/energy to devote to elimination communication), so I figured I’d like it. After reading more of the reviews, I realized this book sounded about perfect. No bribes, no charts, early training. All the good stuff. Let’s do this!

So I got my copy and read it immediately. Man, that was an easy read! I set our start date for Twig to begin training and in the mean time decided to start night training Peanut.

Peanut has been potty trained since she was just younger than two, but we still hadn’t tried to nighttime train. Everything I read online said you have to wait until they start waking to pee themselves or wake up dry, then that means they’re ready. Wrong, wrong, wrong! Jamie has a simple and non-punitive way to teach your child to wake up to pee in the night themselves (or hold it all night), regardless of age. It did take a couple months (she was 4.5 at this point, I think it would have been quicker if we started earlier) of waking Peanut to pee every night and limiting liquids after 5pm (while upping liquids in the earlier hours of the day to compensate), but she did learn to wake up and pee at night. If she pees before bed now, she’s good for the whole night. She also sleeps much more soundly now!

So back to Twig. We initially started back in October and things were going great. She started taking herself to the potty almost immediately, which is awesome, but caused some problems in the end. You see, I was so used to having a potty independent child that I relaxed on telling Twig to go try. I didn’t realize I was relaxing until one day I noticed she was back to peeing in her pants more than the potty. So I started to tell her again, but she resisted HARD. So it became a battle of wills between the adult and the toddler (never a good thing) and I decided that we were in need of a restart (also in the book!).

We did our restart in January (two weeks back in the diapers) and by the end we were both ready to give it another try. From that day it’s been smooth sailing. Yes, there have been accidents, but they’re getting more and more rare. At this point (3 months later) it’s down to maybe 2-3 a week. Often they’re in the act of trying to pull down pants or accidentally overshooting the potty. It could be lower I’m sure, but I’m not horribly worried about it. We’re both trying and that’s what matters to me.

Every time I’ve hit a snag, this book has been here to help me. Seriously, it has had EVERY problem in there with detailed explanations and suggestions (plus many problems we didn’t have, thank goodness!). We were really lucky that Twig almost immediately decided that poop goes in the potty (like she’s pooped in her undies all of a handful of times in this whole process), but if it’s something you’re struggling with, there’s a whole chapter on it. The explanation of how to carry out the whole process is amazing (and this comes from someone who is crazy about details. Must. Have. Details!). I can not even count the amount of times I’ve recommended this book so far. So I might as well do it on my blog too, right? Go buy this book! Now! Don’t get suckered in to waiting until your kid is “ready” or giving them m&ms for pooping in the potty. Just go buy it!

Weaning Twig

My last picture of Twig nursing.

I’ve contemplated writing this post for about two weeks now, but for the longest time I just didn’t believe it was happening. But now I’m going to say it (and possibly eat my words later)–Twig has weaned. 

This is always how I had imagined it would be with Peanut. Just one day I realize that we haven’t nursed in a while and it turns out that she weaned without my really noticing. From speaking to other moms who do child-led weaning, this seems to be the general consensus on how it happens. One day you have a nursling and then one day you don’t. No big shift in thinking or functioning, just a natural progression.

Well that’s how it happened for us.

I guess it all started when I became pregnant with the baby we will now refer to as Banana (monkey will be his/her animal and their nicknames are foods that animal eats). Pretty soon after getting that positive test, I was dead tired All. The. Time. Turned out I was iron deficient (yay Floradix!), but regardless, I needed a lot more sleep at night. It was at this time that I decided to night wean Twig, probably when she was just a month or two shy of 2. We used a modified version of Dr. Jay Gordon’s method (just like I did with Peanut) and it went really smoothly. We were all happy and I was a bit more rested.

Still Twig continued to nurse beyond this point, which was fine by me. I had decided early on in the pregnancy that I wouldn’t attempt to wean her, but I also wouldn’t be to heartbroken if she weaned during this pregnancy. I think it has a lot to do with personality, so it’s unlikely it would all happen the same way as when Twig was born, but I wasn’t exactly thrilled to have another toddler wanting to nurse more often than the newborn. But like I said, personality. I don’t think Twig would have reacted to the new sibling in quite the way Peanut did. Peanut was always a huge comfort nurser (probably from all those months with horrible reflux where it was literally her only comfort) and Twig, while definitely enjoying nursing, was never that same kind of nurser. So my point is that I don’t think it would have gone down the same way.

Anyway, by the time she was night weaning, she wasn’t really nursing for naps anymore. Since I was gone during naptime fall semester, she was being put to sleep by my in-laws or mother (who take turns watching her). In the rare case I was able to get there before she fell asleep, she’d fall asleep on her way home in the car. Then Saturdays she would fall asleep on the way home from music class and on Sundays she wasn’t interested in nursing to sleep (we would, and still do, just lay in the bed together until she’s out). So nap nursing, which was a big one for Peanut throughout Twig’s pregnancy, was out. This meant it was just occasional nursing during the day and sometimes for bed at night (but even for that we had naturally gotten to the point where she would unlatch and fall asleep on her own so it’s not like she was falling asleep nursing or even that it was necessary).

For a while, I resisted nursing because I was sore. Pregnancy, especially in the first trimester, does that to you. It was like I could feel every tooth and it gave me major heebeegeebees. So I would delay nursing if I could, which I could most of the time. We still nursed at least a few times a week though. Then just after Twig’s second birthday, we all got sick and Twig was completely uninterested in nursing (even though I encouraged it in an effort to get her feeling better). My milk supply was dwindling at this point (also normal during pregnancy) and I don’t think she found much comfort in trying to nurse through a stuffy nose without getting much payoff.

After getting better, she was pretty much back to normal with nursing, but asking less often than before. I distinctly remember being about 13-14 weeks pregnant (I’m now 17) and sitting down to nurse and actually enjoying it for the first time in a while. We played and she nursed for a few minutes, then were done. I was really happy that we finally got back to the point where I wasn’t feeling like I had to distract myself to get through it. It had become the beautiful thing it was supposed to be again.

That’s the last time we really nursed. She’s asked for it a couple of times, but she doesn’t seem to understand how to nurse anymore. Her mouth just isn’t making the right movements. I remember Peanut doing the same thing when she tried to nurse once a month or two after she had stopped. I even asked her if she wanted to nurse once because I was getting this feeling almost like I had milk in a breast (which I now think was just growth because of pregnancy) and the same thing happened. Now she asks to nurse every week or two, but she will sit there for a second and then let go.

I’m not sure if we’re 100% done because who knows what will happen once the baby is born and my milk comes back, but I think we’re done. I’m not sure how we’d get back to her remembering how to do it. Honestly, while I’m feeling pretty sad about being done (I was hoping to go longer than 2 years, even though that is always my minimum goal), I don’t think I’ll encourage her learning again either. It was a lovely part of our life, but it just doesn’t feel like it’s part of the dynamic anymore. And that’s okay, it’s the natural progression of a child growing. Just another sign that my toddler is becoming a big girl.

A New Version of Co-sleeping

For those of you with an eagle eye, you may have noticed that the last photo in Twig’s birthday post was the girls in their very own bed. I’ll go ahead and post it here too because it’s just ridiculously cute.

 

A few weeks ago, we bought a full sized mattress and put both girls in it to sleep at night and it’s been wonderful! We had a hunch that Peanut would sleep much better if Twig was in the bed with her. My husband has been sleeping in Peanut’s room most nights because she would wake up and come downstairs to him (he’s a night owl, so he’s up quite late) and he’d come to lay down with her and fall asleep. We were slowly working on her sleeping on her own (mostly because his back hurt from being squished on a twin mattress with her), but it wasn’t making much progress. So we decided to take a different route. Twig had recently night weaned (following Dr. Jay Gordon’s method again and it was quick and successful) so we decided to try it out.

First off, if you have a second child you know how much they love doing things just like their big brother/sister. So when we asked Twig if she wanted to sleep in Peanut’s bed, she was ecstatic. They were actually both so excited that we let them sleep in the twin mattress for a night or two because we hadn’t bought the full mattress yet. The first couple of nights Twig woke up after a few hours and came back into the bed with me, but I expected that. Peanut did that for a long time the first time she moved into her own bed.

Over the course of a couple of weeks though, she slowly stopped coming into our bed! For the last week she’s been sleeping completely through the night in the bed with big sister. We often put them to bed separately and then I move Twig into their bed because she gets distracted and takes a long time falling to sleep with Peanut, but I don’t mind. They also have been waking up at 6am (sometimes earlier!) which we need to work on, but have just been putting them down earlier to account for it. All in all, it’s been a smooth transition! And my husband is in the bed with me again! Yay co-sleeping!

Cranberry Montessori

When we were at the grocery store the other day, I saw that fresh cranberries were on sale. I hadn’t ever had fresh cranberries before, so I decided to be adventurous and try them out. WOW, those things are tart. So I asked friends on Facebook what their favorite cranberry recipes were so that we could use them up without eating them straight. When one of my friends posted this recipe, I had to try it out. Oh man, these muffins are good. So good that I don’t want to limit them to when cranberries are season. Freezing cranberries it is!

After freezing them on a sheet, I brought them out to put them into 1 cup baggies and stick them back in the freezer. Twig was fascinated! So I decided to turn it into a Montessori scooping activity! Yay for real life experiences!

I know this one is blurry, but I love this face! She was so excited about putting them in the cup!

I know this one is blurry, but I love this face! She was so excited about putting them in the cup!

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She loved it. It was less messy when I put the cup on the tray (though she kept moving it back off). She also got a bit frustrated towards the end when there weren’t many on the tray.

She got a kick out of it and I got my berries put away. So, yet another reason to let your kids help in the kitchen, learning to scoop!

Hard, But Worth It

Welcome to the August 2013 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Sibling Revelry

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have written about siblings — their own, their hopes for their kids, and more. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

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I remember towards the end of my pregnancy with Twig, I absolutely freaked out about what I was doing. How could I possibly be having another baby? How was this fair to Peanut? Was this going to ruin our relationship? Was I going to go crazy?

Obviously, by that point there was no turning back. And I’m happy that I couldn’t change my mind like that because the moment Twig was born, I was so happy not only for my new baby, but for giving my new “big girl” her little sister.

Sure, there are still times when I wonder what in the world I was thinking, but in the end I’m always happy that I have two children instead of one.

I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with being an only child, but there certain things you just don’t get from not having a sibling. You don’t get that constant playmate. From the beginning, Twig has adored Peanut. When Peanut was a baby I could never leave the room without her or I would face her wrath. Twig though, so long as sister stayed, she was mostly good. Of course it was only for a moment, but I could go one room away to put the laundry away without picking up the baby.

With one child, silence is bad. If you don’t hear your child then they’ve probably found a marker to draw all over the wall with or figured out how to get their poopy diaper off by themselves. With two though, silence is often great. As early as 6 months after Twig was born, I would find them together playing happily. Peanut would be playing peek-a-boo or showing her a toy. And even before that, as early as 2 months, they would play together in the tub. Peanut has always been Twig’s favorite person, making her laugh (when no one could) and playing with her. It’s been amazing to watch, both on the side of Peanut being the big sister and Twig loving her big sister.

On the flip side, there are difficulties that siblings experience and only children don’t. Lately, they’ve been driving me crazy with their arguing. Now that Twig is 18 months old, she’s much more grabby. Peanut doesn’t react well and generally starts grabbing things back from her, which ends in Twig melting down. Or Peanut gets bossy with Twig and that ends with Twig in tears. One second they’re happily playing together and the next either one or both is running to me crying. We’ve had lots of talks and we’ll get through it, but I have a feeling this is just the beginning of their arguing.

And then there’s the copying. Twig loves to do everything that Peanut does, even when it’s completely out of her ability (and threatening serious injury). Or even when I’m asking Peanut not to do something (thought the opposite often works and if I ask Peanut to come to me when I really want Twig, Twig follows her). Or when Twig is climbing on me because she’s feeling insecure, suddenly Peanut starts to feel insecure too and copies every move that Twig makes. It’s pretty difficult to handle two children climbing and trying to cuddle on you at the same time without dropping one, let alone if I had anything else in my hands when they started.

There’s definitely good and bad when it comes to having siblings. Some days I’m so frustrated that I wish I could sell them both. Sometimes I’m so happy that it makes me want to have 5 more (don’t worry, I’ll never actually do that!). All in all, I’m happy that we decided to give Peanut a sibling. It’s not always easy, but it’s definitely always worth it.

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Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

  • The Damage of Comparing Siblings — Comparing siblings can lead to hurt feelings and poor relationships. What Jana Falls has learned and why she hopes for more for her son.
  • Connecting Through Sibling Rivalry — With four children who are spaced so that each child grows up in a pair, Destany at They are All of Me shares her method for minimizing the competition so her children can focus on bonding, rather than besting each other.
  • Sibling Revelry — Lucy at Dreaming Aloud shares the two-week transition that happens every summer as her kids transform from bickering to learning how to play.
  • Baby Brother born from an OceanAbby Jaramillo describes how her toddler connects in a possibly mystical way with her new baby brother and his birth at home, and Abby draws parallels with her own sister’s new baby.
  • Hard, But Worth It — Claire at The Adventures of Lactating Girl discusses how difficult having two children can be, but how it’s definitely worth it.
  • Raising Attached Siblings — At Living Peacefully with Children, Mandy and her husband are making conscious choices about how they raise their children to foster sibling connection and attachment.
  • It’s Complicated — Henrietta at Angel Wings and Herb Tea reflects on how life’s twists and turns have taken her from a childhood with no siblings to a constantly changing family life with five children, including one in spirit.
  • Supportsustainablemum reflects on how the differences between her relationship with her siblings and her husband’s have affected their family and at a time of need.
  • Peas in a Pod — Kellie at Our Mindful Life enjoys the special relationship her oldest two children share.
  • Lessening the competitive enviornment in the homeLisa at The Squishable Baby discusses how downplaying competition in the home has led to cooperation, not competition.
  • The complex and wonderful world of siblings — Lauren at Hobo Mamareflects on her choices to have not too many children, spaced far apart — and how that’s maybe limited how close their sibling relationship can be.
  • 5 Ways to Help Young Siblings Have a Loving Relationship — Charise I Thought I Knew Mama shares the strategies that help her three year old and 14 month old have a somewhat beautiful relationship and aid in keeping peace in their home.
  • 4 Steps to Encourage Sibling Revelry, even in Hot Moments of Rivalry — Sheila Pai of A Living Family share 4 Steps she uses to shift hot moments of sibling rivalry towards connected moments of sibling revelry and human compassion.
  • Twins Are Fun — Mercedes at Project Procrastinot witnesses the development of her twins’ sibling bond.
  • Growing Up Together- Sibling Revelry in Our House — Amy at Me, Mothering, and Making it All Work realizes that there is great utility in raising siblings that are close in age, and is grateful to have been blessed with healthy siblings that both love and challenge one another every day.
  • Top 5 Ways to Reduce Sibling Rivalry — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares ideas that helped her two children be best friends along with Montessori resources for peace education and conflict resolution.
  • Sibling Uncertainty — Alisha at Cinnamon and Sassafras wonders how her children’s relationship will change now that the baby is mobile.
  • Living with the Longing — Rachael at The Variegated Life sees that she can live with her longing for another — without changing her plans.
  • For My One and Only DaughterPlaying for Peace mommy reflects on her choice to not have more children in order to focus on other dreams.
  • Siblings: A Crash Course in Relationship Training — How have your siblings prepared you for later relationships? One of Dionna at Code Name: Mama’s top priorities as mama of siblings is to help them learn how to navigate relationships.
  • The Joys of Siblings: An Inside Joke — Ana at Panda & Ananaso shares the a glimpse into the joys of having siblings through sharing a perplexing yet hilarious inside joke betwixt her and her own.
  • Sibling Support, even in the potty! — Even though Laura at Pug in the Kitchen‘s children didn’t start out best friends, they are joined at the hip these days, including cheering each other on with potty successes!
  • Don’t Seek What Isn’t There – On Sibling Jealousy — Laura from Authentic Parenting analyzes the seeming desire people harbor for seeking out hints of sibling jealousy.
  • Sibling Love / Sibling Hate?Momma Jorje speculates whether her children will have a different sibling experience than her own. Did she make the right choices based on her own history?

Free-range Parenting

The girls playing outside by themselves.

The girls playing outside by themselves.

This post contains affiliate links for your convenience. Affiliate links support this blog with no cost to you, so if you purchase, please consider doing it through the link!

I’ve mentioned the blog Free-range Kids on here before, but I realized that I hadn’t ever really delved into why I love it. So here we go!

I first came across Free-range Kids when Twig kept falling down the stairs. First off, calm down. Our house is a split level, so we only have 6 stairs in each staircase. I check her every time she falls and the only time that she’s fallen all the way from the top, she’s made her way to the doctor (and was just fine). We do not have gates at the top or bottom of either case and I was beginning to doubt myself.

You see, when deciding if my kids should be allowed to do something, I ask myself “Will it send them to the ER?” If the answer is no, it’ll make them cry and I’ll have to console them and then they’re fine, they get to do it. If the answer is a trip straight to the ER being very likely (not likely in a sense that if they fall in just the right way they could break something), such as crossing the road without holding my hand, then it’s a no go on the safety front. Yes, this means that my children climb on the coffee table, but I don’t mind it. Of course there are other things they’re not allowed to do even if they won’t go to the hospital over it (like climbing on the kitchen table, which I don’t let them do because I don’t want dirty children climbing around where I eat). Anyway, when it comes to safety, if they won’t go to the hospital I’ll allow it.

But I was starting to doubt my parenting when Twig kept falling. It started as learning to go up the stairs, which I supervised because she was so slow and so clumsy. Very few tumbles happened in the beginning. When she got good at it, I stopped watching quite as well. We go up and down these stairs all day so it’s just not practical to wait behind her Every. Single. Time. she goes up or down. But then she decided to get a little too confident about her abilities and start turning around to look at things as she was going up or down, so she tumbled. Then once she got over that, she decided she had to walk up the stairs. That made some more tumbles happen. Then she decided she needed to sit and play on the stairs and more tumbling happened. Really, none of these were a big deal (other than that one that I was concerned about and took her to the doctor over) and most of the time she stopped crying the second she saw me coming. Anyway, it happened so many times that I was doubting myself.

So I started searching online. Was there anyone else like me who refused to buy something (or four some things) that cost at least $100 each (for the ones that wall mount like you’re supposed to have for stairs) and make living life a huge pain in the bottom? I couldn’t be! Well I never did find someone online who said they were like me (hello anyone who was searching similar things and found me! You’re not alone!), but I did find Free-range Kids. I also found her book (Kindle version here) and saw that my library had an eAudiobook copy available right then. I downloaded it and finished it in less than 48 hours.

I had no idea how many things I was doing based on fear.

You know the feeling when you’re at the park and you suddenly can’t find your kid? Logically, you know they’re on the other side of the playground so you just can’t see them. Still though, my heart starts thumping and I immediately jump to the conclusion that my child has been kidnapped. She’s cute and little and those kind disappear all the time! Right? Well, actually wrong. The chances of a child being kidnapped by a stranger (most lost children are either runaways or have been kidnapped by someone they know) are astronomically small.

So many things that I was worried about without even knowing it aren’t that big of a deal. So many of my little practices that I hadn’t ever realized I was doing for “safety” (like never letting my preschooler out of my sight) were beyond what’s necessary. Not only that, it’s damaging to kids to never get out and experience the world without their parent holding their hand. Some of my favorite memories growing up are those of going to my grandma’s house and promptly running off to play in a small forest hidden in an unused lot in her neighborhood. Yes, once I got stung by a bee, but that little risk doesn’t negate all of the other times of learning and having fun.

So I’ve changed a few things since reading that book. Of course my children are small, so they can’t do something like running around the neighborhood without supervision, but they can do a lot of things unsupervised. Like going in the backyard. Even Twig, who is less than a year and a half old (and was more like a year old when we started doing this) is okay to play in the yard with big sister with me inside. I can hear them if something goes wrong (often Twig falling off the swing or a disagreement about who gets to play with that particular shovel) and they know to come inside if I don’t hear. It’s my favorite way to prepare dinner and I will miss it when it gets cold outside and they can’t go out as long. I’m not worried that anyone will snatch them or some sex offender is going to come flash them through the fence (really, there’s a lot about the sex offender list that I didn’t know, like how it doesn’t really work and just creates hell for a lot of people).

Even as small children and toddlers, they need to explore. They need to get out into nature. And they need to deal with relationships with others on their own. I used to be that mom at the playground that jumped in every time that my child had a disagreement with another child. It’s taken some getting used to on her end, but I’ve started letting her handle things herself. Sometimes this means that I’m stepping in still, but it’s to help her handle it, not to handle it myself. And she’s doing grand with it. She has friends across the fences on all sides (though most are grandkids, so not always around) that she chats with. She  makes friends with all sorts of kids at the park. She’ll chat anyone’s ear off if you let her (even another mom the other day at the park, which was hilarious). She did all these things before I backed off, but not to the same extent. I think letting her learn to navigate the social waters alone has helped her confidence.

I’m loving this whole philosophy. We teach our kids to handle life and then we let them handle it. This wasn’t even some big movement back when I was a kid, it was just life. And things are actually safer now than they were then, regardless of what the media is telling you. So if you’re interested, read the book. Check out her blog. Let your kids explore the world without hovering and see how much that can change things.

The Stigma of the Diaper Rash

One of the creams we’re currently using (who is not sponsoring or in any way endorsing this post).

When Peanut was younger, I had a constant fear that I was doing something wrong. Something that would label me a horrible mother and/or scar her for life. I think that we all have this fear to some degree.

So when she started getting constant diaper rashes with open sores shortly after her first birthday, I was convinced it was something I was doing. I tried everything I could find to get them to go away. I tried switching washing routines, every cream I could find, only cleaning her in the tub (as opposed to with wipes), lots of diaper-free time, multiple doctors visits with different creams prescribed, etc. None of it worked. I would be doing all of these things consistently and the sores would disappear, only to have new ones pop up a week later.

Later when I found out about the peanut allergy and how it could cause the rashes, I figured we finally found the problem. But when we eliminated all nuts from our diet, the rashes still stuck around. It took potty training to get these rashes to go away and since she still wears a diaper at night, she still to this day gets a little soreness (though luckily no open sores).

I resolved myself to the fact that she just has sensitive skin. Not too surprising considering her dad is a redhead with eczema and I don’t have particularly tough skin myself. And when Twig was born, I figured she was just like big sister.

We continued with all our routines. Lots of diaper free time, washing off most poos in the tub once she could sit up (it’s just more pleasant than fighting them to get their bum wiped, in my opinion), frequent changes, the whole deal. But she, too, has had constant rashes. Hers started earlier than Peanut’s did and seem to have no connection to the food she eats. I haven’t rushed her to the doctor in the same way I did Peanut because I like to limit our doctors visits to the truly necessary and when I used to take Peanut in because a rash looked really bad, they’d tell me it was nothing and to keep doing what I’m doing, here’s a new brand of cream you can try to no avail.

But when some blisters popped up on Twig a week ago, I decided enough was enough. I am tired of constantly battling diaper rash and there must be something I can do to prevent this. Turned out this was no normal rash. She had bacterial rash (including a pustule that had to be drained in the office) and some yeast rash on bottom. So now we’re doing three separate creams and it’s getting a ton better, but I just can’t shake the feeling that I’ve done something wrong.

I know I haven’t. The doctor told me it just happens sometimes given the environment of a diaper. All of my many hours of research on the topic of diaper rashes tells me I’m doing all the right things. My brain tells me to be logical and know that this is all correct and I am not a horrible mother, but the feeling is stuck. It’s made me realize something though: there’s a stigma associated with diaper rashes.

If your baby has diaper rashes, you’re obviously letting them sit in a poopy diaper all day. Or maybe you never change pee diapers. Or maybe you’re using the wrong brand of disposables or the wrong detergent for cloth. You’re obviously doing something wrong though.

But no, that’s not always the case. Sometimes you can do all the right things and life still gets in the way, diaper rashes or otherwise. Parents assume they have so much control over how their kids turn out that when something does go wrong, we blame ourselves to the point of self-hatred. But we can’t control everything. You can do all the things the books say and still end up with Jeffrey Dahmer for a son or, in a little less hyperbolic example, a horrific diaper rash.

We need to stop blaming moms for things that aren’t in their power. We only see a snapshot of their lives, even with moms we’re close to. So don’t assume that the one feeding her kid a bottle willingly ignored the breastfeeding advice or the one snapping at her kid in the mall is that mean all the time. And don’t assume that the one with a kid with diaper rash is negligent. And if you’re one of the ones like me who has a kid with all sorts of rash, try to give yourself a break. You’re a great mom, diaper rash just sucks.

Nursing My Second Baby at One Year

IMG_0113There are many breastfeeding milestones, but the one year mark holds a special place in my heart. I know that formula is an acceptable alternative to breastfeeding (the fourth best according to WHO, with pumped milk from mom or from other moms coming in before it), but one year of nursing without supplementation means that my baby will never get it.

Thinking back to what nursing Peanut was like at one year and comparing to what Twig is like now, there’s much the same. It’s still the best cure for bumps and bruises (and oh boy does Twig get those). It’s still the way I’m able to get sleep at night. It’s still an awesome way to reconnect with my busy toddler throughout the day.

The biggest difference, I think, is my feelings about the whole situation. By a year with Peanut, I was still definitely going strong, but feeling much more touched out. You’d think that, considering I’ve nursed for four years straight, I’d be more touched out. Instead, I feel that every day as a mother has given me more patience. It’s been a big learning curve for me, but somewhere in the last three years since Peanut was a young toddler, I’ve learned to let go. I’m still learning now, but I’m leaps and bounds ahead of where I was when my whole parenting gig started.

So now that I’m less hitched to the idea of some ideal baby or toddler, the more I’m able to sit back and enjoy life as it is. This includes nursing. Yes, I often feel like I’m nursing Twig more now that I did when she was a newborn, but on those days (and nights!) where we’re nursing like crazy, it’s more easy for me to just go with the flow. It’s more easy for me to remember this stage in life is so fleeting. Before I know it she’ll be nursing just a few times a day, preferring daddy for bedtime over nursing, or like her big sister, weaned all together.

This time is short. Just the beginning of Twig’s life. I’m happy to have made it a full year (and now, nearly fifteen months) nursing Twig, but I’m also excited for what’s to come.