Archive for January, 2008

A Woman’s Housework is Never Done!

A friend of mine came to me and asked me how I get everything done in a day, and how with toddler children running around and a baby to take care of, how I get anything done besides the mundane every day tasks. She asked me this on the occasion of a huge Christmas service project that I was in charge of, making 200 stockings for a local homeless shelter. She said “You and I both have three kids, about the same ages. There is no way that I could have done all this work for this project and taken care of my kids. How do you do it?” My answer: “Don’t you dare come to look at my house!!!”

I have decided that some things are much more important to me than having my house sparkly and shiny clean all the time. I do love having a clean and organized house, don’t get me wrong, but rather than spend day in and day out cleaning and cleaning and folding seemingly endless loads of laundry only to start some more and getting entirely burned out and exhausted, sometimes I like to take a break and do something different.

Sometimes it comes from desperation and boredom from completing mundane chores for weeks on end, sometimes it comes from necessity in needing to complete a project, and sometimes it comes from just wanting to do something more fulfilling and fun for a change. So, when those times arise I just let the laundry pile up for a day or two, let the vacuum sit idle for five minutes, and leave the Clorox wipes tucked away in the closet.

Then I can do things like really play with my kids or take them on an outing, complete a project for church, work or home, or do a craft, scrapbook, read a book for pleasure, bust out the sewing machine, or pursue some of my other interests. After a few days the housework gets the better of me and I spend a day catching up, but I always feel more fulfilled and the kids are happier when we’ve taken some time to just enjoy life, play, and let the little daily stresses slide for a day or two.

My friend said that she gets so wound up and stressed about keeping her house clean and organized- she finds herself cleaning up after messes constantly and always working to keep it clean, so she starts losing patience and just wants to give up because it’s not even fun and she can’t enjoy her children.

I heard someone say once that “the dust and the cobwebs can wait, but children aren’t children forever.” I’ve taken that as my philosophy- I try to play and interact with my kids without constantly worrying about the state of the house, I try to be a good and fun wife to my husband so he’s not always bogged down with work and worry, and I try to keep my own interests and passions fulfilled so I feel like a whole and happy person.

Of course I always love having a clean and organized house, who doesn’t? But if a real feeling of happiness requires the breakfast dishes to wait in the sink until after the kids are in bed for the night, that’s okay with me.

Cranky Kids (What do you do when your kids are difficult?)

Some days aren’t you just ready to quit? Yesterday, for reasons beyond my control or no reason at all, both of my toddler boys were cranky.

Typically my children wake up happy in the morning, play and romp around until lunchtime, eat and then take a nice two hour or so nap. After resting time, as we call it in our house, the boys get up and play and look forward to Daddy coming home from work. They help me make dinner and set the table, clean up the toys to make the house look nice again and then wrestle with Daddy until we eat. After dinner it’s usually more playtime with Daddy and then time for bedtime stories and a bath and by 8:15 or so they’re tucked in their beds on their way down for a good twelve hour sleep.

It sounds ideal, especially since we’re talking about a just-turned-three year old and a twenty month old boy. Of course, it doesn’t always go as planned.

Yesterday was one of those days. Oddly enough, both boys woke up in the morning crying and whining. (Why does it always have to be both on the same day?) Before we’d even been able to eat breakfast both boys had already thrown at least one fit (heaven forbid I gave them the wrong spoon to eat their yogurt!) and it just went downhill after that. By ten o’clock in the morning I was ready to put them both back in bed. It seemed that they couldn’t play for two minutes without there being a major crisis, and then they’d just throw back their heads and scream.

Finally after lunch I was able to put them down for a nap. Both boys fell asleep almost immediately and I crossed my fingers that they’d take an especially long nap so they could wake up and be my normal happy boys again. Unfortunately it didn’t work out that way. A mere forty five minutes into their nap my youngest yelled out and wouldn’t be comforted back to sleep. Ten minutes after that his brother also woke up crying and was done with his rest.

We tried lots of quiet activities to help calm them during the afternoon– playing with playdoh, reading books, coloring. Still the whole day was just full of whining and tantrums and a whole lot of tears. When their Daddy got home from work the boys didn’t even acknowledge him– they were too busy complaining that they didn’t want what we were having for dinner and they wanted the blue plates, not the orange ones.

I finally realized that my twenty month old was probably cranky because his second molars are starting to come in. He’s always had a hard time with teething. A low dose of Infant Tylenol did wonders to help him feel better and actually be able to sleep through the night. My three year old though had no apparent excuses, it was just an off day. Luckily both kids went to bed right at 8 and slept well and today has been a much happier day.

It’s hard as a mom to not feel like you just want to throw in the towel and curl up in your own bed when the kids are so cranky. What do you do to cope with days like I had yesterday? Let me know what I can do to keep my sanity and help my children get past these grumpy episodes by adding your comments.

Breastfeeding Baby Blues

One of the biggest challenges of raising babies and children is keeping them fed and happy. Almost the minute a baby is born, even before the difficulty of labor and childbirth is entirely over, a newborn should be introduced to the world of breastfeeding, if the mother chooses to breastfeed.

When I was younger I had no idea what breastfeeding entailed. I thought, since it is the natural choice for feeding a baby, that breastfeeding just came naturally to infant and mother and that it was easy and convenient to do. When I was expecting my first baby I was given information on breast feeding and discussed it with my doctor. Still, I was not prepared for the actuality of the situation when the day finally arrived.

My baby boy wouldn’t latch on properly and when he did he promptly fell asleep within a minute. Needless to say, it took us several weeks to come to an understanding– I had to be available for feeding 24/7 and he got to eat whenever he decided to. By the time he was six weeks old or so we had a pretty good feeding schedule and he was getting to be a pro at the whole idea.

However, something else that I had not been prepared for was the discomfort that I felt. Not all new mothers experience pain from breastfeeding their babies, but with my first I had such tremendous pain sometimes that I would just sit and cry while my baby was eating. I wasn’t about to quit, because I know how good it is for the baby, but it definitely was not the sweet bonding experience that I had always thought it would be. It hurt 90% of the time until we were finally done breastfeeding nine months later.

My second baby was different. He latched on well right after he was born, and aside from some minor ups and downs through the months ahead it was a much better experience. Even though I didn’t think I was doing anything different I didn’t have the same pain that I did with my first… luckily!

Another challenge that I was not prepared for when I started breastfeeding my baby was the milk supply and demand issue. Again, I’ve heard stories that some women are challenged with too much breastmilk, so they have to express some before or after nursing the baby in order to be comfortable. Others seem to have just enough and can feed “on demand”.

My problem was a lack of available milk, though I tried everything that the lactation consultant and my doctor and baby’s pediatrician recommended to solve the problem. I changed my eating habits to include more fat, I didn’t exercise because I’d heard that that can diminish milk supply soon after childbirth, I pumped regularly to induce milk let down… and still I would only have barely enough to satisfy my babies.

I really wanted to breastfeed my children until they reached one year old. I started both boys on rice cereal and introduced fruits and vegetables between 4 and 5 months, when my doctor recommended because the babies weren’t gaining enough weight on breast milk alone. Even with solids and breast milk I still had to supplement with two or three ounces of formula once a day to satiate my boys’ appetites.

By the time my first was nine months old he’d had it with the frustration of trying to eat from me so we quit cold turkey. I didn’t even get engorged after that– that’s how little milk my body was producing. With my second baby we made it to ten months and then it just made him calmer and happier to have a bottle instead of breastfeed. I’m hoping that this next baby will be a little less challenging and that I can experience the “too much” problem instead. I always hated feeling like I couldn’t feed my children what they needed to grow and develop and be comfortable. It was definitely not what I was expecting when I decided to breastfeed my babies.

Of course, now that my boys are toddlers, the challenge of feeding them has just changed, it hasn’t gone away. Now it’s a matter of getting enough healthy options on the table in front of them and actually getting it into their tummies. I don’t have particularly picky eaters, but still it’s hard to get nutritious meals and snacks into them so they keep a strong immune system and have plenty of energy for playing hard like boys do.

I know I’m not the only one who struggles with the challenge of feeding children. Let me know what solutions you’ve found by adding your stories, suggestions and comments.

Check out this hilarious video too– this cute baby says it all with his expressions.

Newborn Baby

Newborn babies are notorious for making funny faces. They scrunch up their noses and eyes, open and close their mouths, wiggle and smile. As parents they are the perfect entertainment and can be watched for hours on end. Check out this video of a baby girl caught on camera making some great baby faces.

Do you have pictures of your newborns making funny faces? Share them in a comment.

Children Winter Fun

A couple of days ago we undecorated for Christmas. It’s kind of a sad day, but on the flip side it’s also nice to get the house back in order. The kids thought it was great fun to take all of the ornaments off of the Christmas tree and fit them back into their boxes. They watched as each string of lights was wound up and unplugged, and then our three year old got lifted up to take the star off the top of the tree. Growing up I always had a real tree, so after Christmas was over we would take it to a tree recycling place and watch it get chipped up for compost. Now we have an artificial tree, so the kids helped scrunch the branches and put it away in it’s box until next year.

After the tree was down we took down the empty stockings, put away the nativity, wrapped up the snow globe, unwound the garlands and put away the Christmas dishes. When we were done my husband and I looked around the living room and said “Hmm, it’s boring in here now.” Five minutes after the excitement of taking everything down was over our little boy came to us and said “We need the Christmas tree back up!” We told him that it would have to wait for next year and there are lots of fun times between now and then… but still we are kind of left with an empty after the holidays feeling.

Our cozy living room, although nicely decorated, is back to being just the same as it always is. The kitchen is no longer full to the brim with holiday treats (our waists are thanking us). And the kids are back on a normal day to day routine instead of on holiday/vacation craziness. There are plenty of new toys and books lining the shelves and scattered on the floor. Snow is still falling every couple of days- just enough to keep it cold and white outside. But, there’s something about January that can just make us stir-crazy inside the house.

So, how to beat the January doldrums? Kids get bored of being cooped up in the house 99 percent of the time, especially little ones who aren’t in school yet, with too much free time on their hands. I think that children need a lot of structured play instead of an afternoon for nothing but a pile of toys or television or computer games. I’ve made my New Year’s resolution– I’m going to devote more of my time to really play with my kids, who are all toddlers at this time, teach them new and exciting things and help them to develop interests and favorite activities and games.

Where to begin… One of my favorite magazines is Family Fun. It’s issues are usually full of fun activities and projects appropriate for many different age groups. They have a great website where you can search for and find practically anything. Check out for lots of ideas to keep your little ones busy for the rest of the winter.

Another great place to find ideas (and to spend an entire morning or afternoon in the process) is to visit your local library. A lot of libraries schedule story times for different age groups– start with that and then browse for activity books or fun books for you and your kids to read together.

Check out local attractions like you’re a tourist. Every city has fun things to see and do– you just have to find them. For example, I’ve lived in the same city for the last ten years and never knew until last year that there was an aquarium only 20 minutes away. It’s now one of our favorite places to go and explore. The kids love seeing all of the exotic and local fish. Other places to see might be historical sites in your own hometown, museums, art galleries, the zoo (they say the animals are more active when it’s cold outside), or a nice sledding hill after a snowstorm.

We did something crazy the other day– it had just snowed but it was only about 15 degrees outside, so much too cold to go out and play. The kids were looking out the window longingly at the drifts of snow just begging to be played in. So, we took some big plastic mixing bowls from the kitchen, filled them to the brim with snow, set them and the boys on the tile floor and gave them spoons and measuring cups and let them have at it. For the next hour, while the snow was slowly melting, they had a blast! They got their hands good and cold, made a nice wet mess on the floor (that was easy to mop up with a sponge), and laughed and had the time of their lives.

Not all winter-boredom-busting ideas have to be expensive, out of the house, or time-consuming for the parents. Let me know what you do with your children when they get bored with a comment.

100 Baby Girl Names

For all you parents like us trying to decide on a baby girl name for your little one,

Here are 100 baby names to consider:

This list is 100 of the most popular names from the United States actually put on baby girl birth certificates in 2006.

  1. Emma
  2. Abigail
  3. Olivia
  4. Elizabeth
  5. Emily
  6. Brooklyn
  7. Hannah
  8. Madison
  9. Ava
  10. Samantha
  11. Isabella
  12. Ella
  13. Grace
  14. Sarah
  15. Hailey
  16. Alexis
  17. Lily
  18. Sophia
  19. Chloe
  20. Addison
  21. Avery
  22. Ashley
  23. Mia
  24. Anna
  25. Rachel
  26. Alyssa
  27. Savannah
  28. Ellie
  29. Kate
  30. Megan
  31. Gracie
  32. Lydia
  33. Taylor
  34. Natalie
  35. Paige
  36. Jessica
  37. Katelyn
  38. Isabelle
  39. Morgan
  40. Sydney
  41. Lauren
  42. Lucy
  43. Kaitlyn
  44. Sophie
  45. Alexa
  46. Kaylee
  47. Kylee
  48. Sadie
  49. Rylee
  50. Lillian
  51. Bailey
  52. Audrey
  53. Zoe
  54. Brynlee
  55. Claire
  56. Brooke
  57. Eliza
  58. Amelia
  59. Makayla
  60. Aspen
  61. Ashlyn
  62. Katie
  63. Aubrey
  64. Kayla
  65. Evelyn
  66. Zoey
  67. Sierra
  68. Halle
  69. Jocelyn
  70. Victoria
  71. Leah
  72. Mckenna
  73. Riley
  74. Ruby
  75. Brianna
  76. Julia
  77. Mary
  78. Reagan
  79. Allison
  80. Vanessa
  81. Isabel
  82. Kylie
  83. Maya
  84. Melanie
  85. Rebecca
  86. Brinley
  87. Katherine
  88. Jennifer
  89. Kennedy
  90. Mckenzie
  91. Sara
  92. Jasmine
  93. Kimberly
  94. Nevaeh
  95. Jenna
  96. Allie
  97. Brielle
  98. Hallie
  99. Jade
  100. Reese

Good luck!  It takes my husband and I a long time to decide on a baby name. Let me know if you have any other suggestions.