Monday, October 22, 2012

Baby 2.0: Being A Mother Of Two Children

It's been officially one month since we brought home our second child Remy. It feels strange, because I can honestly say that it hasn't felt like it's been a month. Things have been going pretty good, but you can tell by my lack of blogging that I have been a little busy. With that said, I have been pretty good about responding to the random emails I get from a number of friends asking many questions--- such as "How are you doing?" "Are you getting sleep?" "Are you going insane yet?" and more along those lines. I love the concern that my friends have and thought I would write a blog about the most common question of all,  "What's it like having two kids?"  Well here it goes....

The Second Is Easier
I know this one is a HUGE statement to start out this blog, but I really feel (and might regret) saying that so far having a second child is easier. I say this because you aren't as jumpy or as clueless of a parent the second time around. I remember when we first had Aiden and any little noise he made would send me running over to the bassinet. You aren't familiar with nursing (which I can say now I have had two kids, Aiden was SUPER hard to nurse) and you just aren't accustom to all the other things that come with a baby (burping, diapers, crying, and lack of sleep.) With the second one, it's just like a repeat, especially if you are like me and can remember doing it with the first one not very long ago. Now, I should also say that God has blessed me with not one, but two calm babies with quiet cries-- who enjoy sleeping.  This could change any minute with her and I might regret writing these words because she is only a month old, but so far she has been an easy baby to have.

The Balancing Act

It's somewhat of a balancing act to have a 2 year old and a 1 month old. As an only child your toddler is use to you praising every little accomplishment, laughing at all the silly things they do, and comforting every little noise of frustration they might make. When the second child comes along, it's hard to be there to "reaffirm" every little action he or she makes. Between lack of sleep, nursing a newborn, changing multiple diapers daily, and trying to maintain your household it becomes very hard to notice every little movement the first child makes and give them the praise you use to. They notice this and it's hard for them to understand. I know it's very hard it is for him to comprehend having a sibling this at this age, so I try to make my best effort to give him my undivided attention between all the other activities going on around the house. Even if it's yelling "Good job buddy!" all the way across the house, he hears me and notices that I am noticing him.

Super Powers

With the second child comes a type of parenting super power you never wished you had so much with the first--- the ability to not just protect one child, but now two children. It sounds easy enough, but you never realize until you bring home child number 2 that you might have to protect them from child number 1, especially a toddler! My toddler is all boy....loud, hyper, rough, and dirty. With the new baby around, I have to make sure he understands he can't be so rough with her and it's very difficult for him to understand. The other day I turned my back for a second and he was trying to shove a bottle into her mouth. (It was seriously a second-- I walked 5 feet from the table to the kitchen.) He has a habit of shoving a stuff in her face and yelling "THANK YOU BROTHER" as he things he is being helpful. Although you can't really grow eyes in the back of your head (which would be nice), I now have to learn to scan the room for any "harmful scenarios" that could take place between a toddler and a baby. He is learning not to be as rough with her, but he still has to be reminded once in a while.

Enjoy The Moments

In all the not so fun times of adding a second baby, it's important to remember to enjoy the moments with your kiddos especially in hard times. I found at first I was becoming very frustrated with having two kids. It gets overwhelming to change 7 "stinky" diapers in 2 hours or have your toddler mimic the cry of the baby at the same time to get attention. Not to mention the hormone fluctuations that come with just having a baby. Life can be hard adjusting to two kids and I found myself yelling more and honestly most of the yelling was directed at my toddler. Not screaming or anything like that, but just yelling "No" or "Timeout" louder. Let's face it, toddlers do naughty things because they don't know any better and they are learning. I had to stop and remind myself that at this moment-- the moment when I have a 2 year old and a 1 month old-- will never happen again! This is the only time in my life when my kids will be this age. I don't want to feel like all I do is yell at my kids. I don't want my toddler to learn yelling is the way to handle stress. I don't want the baby to grow up only knowing a mother who yells. It's important to realize that these "hard time" are not really hard. They are uncomfortable moments, but will for sure make good memories some day. It's important to keep my cool, control my emotions, and speak in a normal voice for the benefit of all of us.

Ask For Help

This one is a given. With the second child, you have less time to get things done like you use to so asking for help needs to be done. I don't think I have every had a problem asking for help when I have needed to. I am one of those people that speaks their feelings, so asking for help just comes naturally to me. I have no problem asking my Mom to watch the kids or the husband to vacuum the living room, but I have now found a new resource of help--- my toddler. Toddlers LOVE to help out with anything they can and I take full advantage of it! Aiden enjoys getting the burp rag, throwing the diapers away, getting my water bottle, unloading the dishwasher, and even burping his sister (which he has learned to do gently.) It makes me happy (and sad) to see how much he is no longer by baby but a helpful little boy that LOVES to help his Mama out!

Well that is how being mother of two has been going for me. Times aren't perfect always, but we are learning as each day goes by...and WOW is time flying by! I can't believe it's already been a month! 

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Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Learning How to Say "No"

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One would think that saying "no" is just a natural thing. I'm sure parents will tell you it's all they hear their kids say some days. But somewhere along the line I forgot how important it can be to invoke the two-letter word and more importantly how to recognize when I've had enough. 

With the end of grad school and my burgeoning excitement about the excess of time I would have to do things, I was quickly reminded of a topic that many women struggle with. Learning to say no. 

As you all know, when school came to an end my mind was racing with wonderful, dreamy ideas about how I would spend my free time (see the list here). So far I haven’t actually accomplished very much on that list (ha) but I did do a great job of overwhelming myself and committing to too many obligations. Why do we do this to ourselves? …Seriously?! 

Last week I found myself in the middle of a freak out because I forgot just how important it is to have “me time.” I volunteered for too many activities that required a lot of time and all of the sudden I was feeling stressed again. The activities became a chore I dreaded instead of a volunteer experience that I looked forward to. I knew deep down that these activities shouldn't feel like such a burden. I also had to acknowledge that as much as I love socializing I have to have my alone time as well. Some people don’t need this, but I do. Without I feel stretched out and all over the place. 

So on one hand I was sitting there feeling completely overwhelmed and in the next breath extremely guilty at the thought of dropping one of the commitments. While I was stressing over this one night, Nathan simply sat and rationalized with me about my options and tried to make me feel better about what I knew I needed to do. I went to bed with a clear conscience.

However, the next morning I woke up and had this random desire to get involved in the Big Sister program. “I would be an awesome big sister!” I thought. “I always wanted a little sister and this would be a great use of my time.” (Face Palm). Once I realized what I was doing I shook my head and remembered my breakthrough from the night before. It would be foolish to fall into the same predicament once again. Upon telling one of my friends about this she smiled and said, “You caught the do-gooder trait.” We talked a little bit about why women and mothers in particular so often find themselves in this predicament. Is it just a part of our DNA? Perhaps we are just naturally inclined to do more and serve others. It’s not a bad trait to have but it is just as important to have the power to say “no” 

So after dropping an activity (and deciding it would be wise not to pick up another) I am happy to report I feel much more peaceful and relaxed. It may be human nature as a wife and/or mother to want to volunteer for everything and overextend ourselves. But the reality is if we don't take care of our priorities first then we can't truly serve others. 

Have you ever found yourself in this predicament before? Maybe it's time for you to start practicing "no" as well... :)


Thursday, October 11, 2012

Cleaning Queen Tip #2: Cleaning Stains From White Carpets

This post is dedicated to our mother, the cleaning queen. As long as we can remember, our Mom has always had some crazy cleaning tips that work like magic! To this day, we still bring over our laundry to have her get a spot out or ask her for tips on those hard to clean items. She always has a recommendation that works 99% of the time. We thought it would be nice to share some of her genius cleaning tips periodically. Thanks Mom for all you have done for us over the years!

Today's' Tip:
Cleaning Stains From White Carpets

Back in April, I was working one morning and my son was playing so quietly beside me.

 I should have known something was wrong, that is when I turned to see this:

Yep, that is maple syrup he is drinking out of the jug and that lovely maple syrup stain has been on my carpet forever! I have tried to scrub it out with various carpet cleaning chemicals, but it just has stayed there.

It's a little lighter than the original, but still there.  

One day I was complaining to my Mom about how bad our carpet looks and that I can't seem to get this stain out and another (where I spilled an entire cup of coffee.) She told me to try vinegar and baking soda. 

I thought, "What the heck!" At least we will have fun watching the chemicals react. So I sprinkled some baking soda on the stain. 

And poured some vinegar over the top.  

 We had a little floor volcano that was fun to watch. (My son loved watching it.)

And then I scrubbed it in with a brush. (I alternated with my son, who finds scrubbing stains out of carpet super fun.)

My Mom told me to put a white towel over the spot and let it dry. (White, so the color of your towel will not bleed onto your carpet.) 

After letting it dry, vacuum up the remaining baking soda. And the stain is MAGICALLY gone!!
The only bad part is now I have a white spot on the carpet where I cleaned it! It just shows you how bad these carpets need to be professionally cleaned. I am sure we will track on it enough to blend in with the rest soon enough! Also, not sure if this will work on colored carpet, so I am just giving you a warning to maybe stick with white carpet only. 

Do you have any awesome cleaning tips you would like to share? If so, comment below. We would love to hear any ideas to make cleaning easier!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Baby 2.0: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly of Postpartum Life

It's now been 2 weeks since I had my little Remy! Each day is more and more of a joy to see her little movements, smiles, and expressions. Remy is my second child and having an almost 2 year old running around at the same time as taking care of a newborn can be exciting. Fortunately, I have my in-laws here for another few days to help me out while I heal up from my c-section.

With that being said, I am 2 weeks into postpartum life and I feel that I must have blocked a lot of this phase after Aiden because many new things I am experiencing I don't remember having with him. With that being said, I thought I would write a post on the good, the bad, and the ugly of this phase.

The Good
No Longer Pregnant- Of course this would be number one! I love being pregnant but the last few weeks of being large and uncomfortable, the heartburn, and the lack of sleep due to a baby partying hard at 3am makes it tough. Having her out is very nice!

Baby Faces- The look on a newborn when they have a full belly after eating is priceless. It's a combo look of almost being drunk and happy. Sometimes we will get the largest grin on her face, I know it is most likely gas, but it does truly melt your heart.

Big Brother Fun- Her brother, Aiden, is still somewhat unsure what to do with her, but each day he gets better. We have to work with him on touching her soft and being gentle, but I am sure he will learn that soon enough. It is very sweet to see him kiss her on the head and quite humorous when he mimics her cry. Each day is a new adventure with the two.

The Bad

Emotions- This comes with all pregnancies. Some women have it worse then others, but I just keep reminding myself that it's just hormones adjusting and I won't let them take over my life. If I feel like crying, I do and when people ask what's wrong, I just tell them it's hormones. If I get mad, I trying to calmly remind myself that it's hormones and this too shall pass. Basically, I probably say "it's just hormones" a couple times a day to myself to keep myself calmed down. I will not let the hormones control my life.

Lack of sleep- Going on 2 weeks now with not sleeping more than 3.5 hours at a time has been rough. Not as rough as it was with my first child, but rough still. I have a policy that up to 2 weeks you feed them at least every 4 hours at night and every 2-3 during the day. I have to practically strip her naked to wake her up to eat at night, but in the long run, I know she needs the nutrients more then her sleep. After her 2 week checkup we will see if the Dr. oks me to start trying to let her sleep through the night on her own....I hope so!

The Ugly

Menopause- Well not really, but I feel like I could be on a commercial for a woman going through menopause. I have hot flashes and cold sweats at night. It's horrible. I wake with my pillow soaked and have to flip it over when I get back to bed. It's getting better each day, but I am praying for the cold weather right now!

Hives- BY FAR THE WORST! I did not have this with Aiden, but I think it is somewhat common with women. I had a friend who broke out in hives for months and then found out she was pregnant and it was a side effect. I am experiencing this postpartum and it is very uncomfortable. I try my hardest not to scratch them and take benadryl each night to help out.

Body Image- There is a little known secret (really known quite well) that even though the baby comes out, it doesn't mean that your body goes back all at once. In fact, it takes up to 2 months for all your organs to return to their normal spots and your women parts to shrink back to their old size. (I like the pic above because it shows how your organs change.) I think I blocked out this part with Aiden. I was calling myself Humpty Dumpty in the hospital, as I felt like my stomach was long, big, and awkward just like the sketches you see of Humpty Dumpty  In addition, I made the stupid mistake of weighing myself yesterday. There was a little part in my mind that hoped I would step on that scale and have only 10 pounds to lose, though I am not one of those lucky women. I gain the weight with my pregnancies (50 pounds with both) and will have to lose the weight again like I did with my first. I honestly should have waited to weigh myself until I was a full 2 months postpartum, because the damage on the scale might not have been so bad :)

Well, that is my postpartum life--the good, the bad, and the ugly. Although there are two negative categories (bad and ugly) I don't want to detract on how much I am so happy to have this new little girl in my life. I love being a mother and the good, bad, and the ugly all come with this task. I would take all the negative (and more) for all the positives that come from my children any day!

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Monday, October 1, 2012

Make Ahead Meals: Wild Rice and Sausage Casserole

I am starting a series of blogs for Make Ahead Meals that I am preparing before Baby 2.0 arrives. Every night when I make dinner, I am doubling the recipe and putting the second in the freezer. I am hoping that the prepared meals will help on those totally exhausted days when cooking sounds like no fun. I am hoping many of the meals I will be preparing will be somewhat healthy and low calorie, but I know there will be some meals mixed in that aren't. To prepare for the freezer meals, I purchased some slow cooker liners (for the crockpot meals), gallon freezer bags (for the freezer skillet meals), and Aluminum Foil Steam Table Pans with matching lids (for the freezer casseroles).

I made this recipe a while back and it is now one of my husband's favorite casseroles and he requests it all the time. 

2 packages (6.3 oz each) rice pilaf 
2 cups of wild rice mixture, cooked
1 lb bulk pork sausage
12 celery ribs, chopped
8 medium carrots, sliced
2 cans (10 3/4 oz) condensed cream of chicken soup, undiluted
2 cans (10 3/4 oz) condensed cream of mushroom soup, undiluted
4 tsp onion powder
2 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp pepper
4 cups of chinese chow mein noodles
2 packages (2.5 oz.) of sliced almonds

Prepare rice pilaf according to package directions. 

I like this brand of rice pilaf, but I only use 1 seasoning packet as I find with two it gets too salty.
In large skillet, cook the sausage, celery, and carrots over medium heat until meat is no longer pink. The veggies might be a bit crisp, but will cook down in the oven. 

In a large bowl, combine the soups, onion powder, garlic powder and pepper. 

Add mixture to the skillet full of carrot, celery, and sausage. 

Add in the rice pilaf mixture and stir.

 Add in cooked wild rice and 1 package of almonds.


Grease two baking dishes. I made the meal that night, so used the smaller one for dinner and the larger one is for the deep freezer.

Transfer the casserole over to the two dishes.

Sprinkler top with remaining package of sliced almonds.

And top with chow mein noodles.   

Cover and freeze one casserole for up to 3 months. I use tin foil on the top and then cover with the lid that matches the pan to prevent freezer burn. Label the freezer one to thaw, bake at 350 degrees for 40-50 minutes or until warm.

For dinner that night, bake the remaining casserole at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Enjoy!!

Meals to date:
1 x Wild Rice and Sausage Casserole

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