Category Archives: Parenting

Kiwi Crate Is My New Best Friend!

Disclosure: No compensation was given to me for this post. All opinions expressed are 100% my own.

Okay, so I am a complete sucker for things that have anything to do with being creative. I have so often said to my friends and family how I wish more kids would want to do things like play outside, arts and crafts and imagination games. Alas we live in a world of video games, tablets and other forms of instant gratification. Today I was introduced to Kiwi Crate, an amazing site that offers arts and crafts, family activities, holiday fun and more for sale. Most of the stuff is very reasonable in price and all of it stimulates your kids’ imagination.

Kiwi Crate even has a package where you can make your own superhero cape. How awesome is that?! This site is awesome, because it doesn’t just try to sell you things, it also has some DIY projects that some of their members have shared, ideas for stocking stuffers, even party favors! With Christmas just around the corner and AJ’s birthday following soon afterward, I believe I will be doing a lot of buying from this site and I encourage you to check it out too!

Kiwi Crate could be just the thing I’ve been looking for to do with my nieces and nephews (my son is still too little…but he’s next!)

 Kiwi Crate

Hubby makes it better

It’s been one of those days today. You woke up with a headache but still managed to drag yourself to the gym for a thirty minute workout, thinking that maybe you’ll feel better with some exercise-induced endorphins. No such luck; the bathroom needs cleaning, the baby is cranky, the dishes and the kitchen need tending to as well and all you want to do is have a cup of tea to chase away this headache. But the tea is gross, so you settle for a cup of hot chocolate…that’s better.

The headache finally gives and you manage to clean the bathroom, after which you’ve taken up residence on the couch and only get up to use the bathroom and tend to your baby. It’s just that kind of day.

Finally, you and hubby go to bed and you’re so excited to get a good night’s sleep and start fresh in the morning. Then, you feel a warm, strong arm wrap carefully around your waist and the heat of hubby’s skin is against your back. You smile, eyes still closed as you sigh in content. A lovely snuggle is exactly what you need right now…and then his intentions become clear. In the back of your mind, you want groan aloud, “Babe, not tonight. It’s just been one of those days…” but the more he loves you, the more you find yourself relaxing into his actions.

Suddenly you’re not so tired, your earlier headache is long forgotten and all that matters is the fact that after a long day with a cranky baby and not much productivity, the man you love still finds you sexy enough to proposition you with a single touch.

You still get that good night’s sleep and wake up, earlier than usual, refreshed and ready to tackle the day. It was just one of those days.

 

A Letter To My Teenage Son…

Dear Bubby (I’m sure you’ve told me to stop calling you this a million times by now),

By the time you read this, you will be getting ready to start your first year of high school. Right now you’re only eight and half months old and as I listen to you mumbling happily to yourself in your play pen, while every once in a while looking up at me and smiling- as though I’m the most important woman in the world to you- I realize that you have given me the most wonderful and precious gift any boy can give a girl. Being your mommy is and will continue to be the most important thing I have ever done. I have you to thank for choosing me for this job and I hope thus far I have done a good job.

When your dad and I found out you were growing in my belly, we were so scared. We hadn’t planned for you yet. We didn’t think that we wanted you yet. We thought we weren’t ready for you to come into our lives yet. But, Bubby, we were so wrong. From the first moment that we heard your little heart beating, strong and healthy, we were in love. You quickly became our world and the only doubt left in our hearts was whether we would good enough for you. Your dad and I vowed to try our best, because we already loved you so, so much even though we hadn’t met you yet.

The night you were born, we were so scared because we had planned for you to come one way, but you wanted to come a different way. Mommy cried, I won’t lie. I cried because you wouldn’t come the way I had imagined and because I was so scared for you. But then you came and I cried a little more because I couldn’t hold you right away, I couldn’t see you when the nurses took you to clean you off and weigh you. But don’t worry, baby, because daddy was there and he took so many pictures for me. The first time we heard you cry was the second time I had ever seen your daddy cry. His tears were ones of joy, mine were ones of longing, because mommy wanted to hold you so much, but you see they had to cut my belly to get you out so I had to wait until the doctors fixed me.

So dad and mimi went to see you in the special care and told me that you were perfect and loving all the attention the nurses were giving you (you ole flirt, you). The next day, when I finally held you, I felt this overwhelming sense of purpose. In that moment, as I held your bare body against the skin of my chest, I knew that I’d been chosen to do the most important job a woman could ever do. And I was ready to tackle this new job head on!

At first, you were perhaps the most demanding and toughest boss I had ever had and a few times I felt like I wasn’t cut out for the job. But every time your eyes would lock with mine, I knew you loved me. And I knew that you believed in me. You knew I was doing my best and you were willing to wait for me to get the hang of it. Thank you for that. Thank you for always smiling up at me when I was having a bad day, as though you somehow knew that I needed it. Thank you for laughing whenever I make a face that most people wouldn’t find funny.

Now, I’m not going to lie and say you’ve been a perfect angel. As a matter of fact when I started writing this letter, I’d put you to bed already, but you weren’t having it. You cried and yelled until I picked you up and brought you into the living room, where you played in your pack-n-play until dad got home. I had a headache today, Bubs, and you were pretty cranky most of the day. And every time I would go to change your diaper, you would kick your feet, somehow hitting me square in the boobs every time. I asked you to stop a bunch of times, but you would just smile up at me, giggle a little and kick again (you little turd).

I’ll admit, I got pretty frustrated and yelled a little, but I felt bad about it immediately after. Finally, after dad had been home for a while, you fell asleep drinking a bottle. I picked you up out of your playpen to take you to your room. You only woke up for a second, looked at me with sleepy, half-closed eyes and lay your head on my shoulder before you went back to sleep. I found myself smiling, my hand resting on your back as I abandoned my thoughts of taking you to your room and sat on the recliner. I wanted to feel you sleeping against me for as long as I could before you got too heavy and I put you in your crib.

So, you see…even though I was frustrated during the day and even though I got angry when you kicked me or swatted at my face, I still loved you more than anything in this world. Hearing your soft snore next to my ear was all it took to make me smile and remember how happy you make me, just by being you.

And now, you’re growing into a young man and I can only imagine that you’ve gotten more awesome by now. Maybe I should’ve waited for you to grow into a toddler before writing this to future-you, but the truth is, I don’t think how I feel is going to change much between now and then. I suspect my love for you will continue to grow right along with you and still grow as you get older, years from now. I just want you to know, my sweet Bubby, that I will always be here for you. I will always be in your corner. I will always kiss you goodnight and stroke your soft hair lovingly as you fall asleep.

And if you find yourself feeling alone (as so many high school boys sometimes do) just know that your dad and I will always listen. We will always fight for you. Also, if you have a rebellion period, try not to be too hard on me…but even if you are, I’ll still love you just as much if not more than I do now. You will always be my little Bubby. I also would like to apologize in advance if I someday call you this in front of your friends. I promise, if that happens, someday you’ll find some humor in it 😉

Love always, now, then and forever until my last day,

Mommy

Introducing your Fur Kid To Your New Kid!

1374655_10202087380336806_405688978_nWhen we were getting ready to bring our baby home from the hospital, we had some concerns with regard to our dog, Newman. Adam used to dog-sit for his friends who had Newman before him and one other dog named, Amos. For the longest time, the two pups got along swimmingly and were the best of friends. Then the couple had a baby, Brady, and for some reason, as soon as Brady started to walk the dogs became very territorial. They never attacked the baby, but they would attack each other frequently.

Newman’s parents couldn’t bare to give him to a shelter, so they asked Adam if he wanted him. Adam (of course) said yes. That was five years ago and in the three and a half years that Adam and I have been together, Newman has always been part of our family; our ‘oldest’ as we like to call him.

Our sweet Newmie

Our sweet Newmie

When we found out I was pregnant, we often wondered how Newman would react to the new baby. Whether he would have the same reaction as when his former parents had him. I started searching the internet when we got closer to my due-date and found a few helpful sites, but not very much that I could do on my own. Both Adam and I worked all the way up to the week before I gave birth and we weren’t home often enough to start Newman on a new routine.

So, when it closer to my due date, I asked my mom what she had done when she and my dad brought me home from the hospital. They had a Doberman Pincher named, Freeway and I’d remembered him always being so gentle and patient with me. So she gave me what few tips she could based on what she could remember and gave me other suggestions she’d thought up later.

A friend of mine, who is due in April, recently expressed her own concerns over how her dog, Izzy, would react to the new baby. So, I gave her some advice, told her how we introduced Newman and AJ and then decided, ‘maybe this would be good to blog about in case there are other parents out there who are in the same situation.’

So here it is, guys. This is exactly what we did before and after we brought our little AJ home from the hospital:

First, we would let Newman follow us into AJ’s room if we were in there working on something (setting up the crib, hanging up clothes, etc). If I was sitting on the couch, I would let Newman get close to my stomach and actually, once I really started to show, Newman would carefully put the side of his face against my belly. I’m convinced he could hear AJ’s heartbeat that way and it allowed him to bond with the baby while he was still in my stomach.

When we came home from the hospital, we gave Newman the little blanket they’d wrapped AJ in (you know the one. It’s mostly white with pink and blue stripes). Now, I had an unexpected cesarean and Newman is a pretty hyper dog (and medium sized) so, we did keep him in his crate for the first couple of days and we put the blanket in there with him (I hated to do it, but I was concerned that he might jump on me because he was happy we were home and accidentally hurt me). I think this helped a lot with introducing AJ’s scent to the dog without giving him a chance to get too excited.

We kept AJ in a bassinet on the coffee table since I couldn’t lay down and was sleeping on the recliner for the first couple of weeks. Whenever Adam would take Newman out to do his business and stretch his legs, I would tell Adam to walk him right past the bassinet and let him smell a little if he wanted. There were times that he would try to jump so he could see what was inside the bassinet. Whenever he did, we would calmly say, “No,” and Adam would take him outside. We would always have him on his leash whenever we took him out of the crate the first couple of days and that would help us keep control over the situation.

This was taken about two weeks after AJ was born.

This was taken about two weeks after AJ was born.

The next step we took was to put AJ in a swing that we had for him and whenever Adam took Newman out, he would walk him right past the swing, where AJ was, and we’d let him smell the baby’s feet. Again, sometimes he would try to get a closer look and we would calmly tell him, “No” or “Easy, Newmie,” and Newman would then be taken outside. On the third day home, my mom and I went to Wal-Mart and bought Newman a new bed, which we put between our couch and Adam’s desk. Again, we put AJ’s hospital blanket on the bed and encouraged Newman to lay on it as often as he wanted.

This helped reassure that he was still our baby and still important to us. It’s very important to not change a dog’s routine or change the way you treat them. If you do, the dog may see the new baby as a threat and resent the baby’s presence. Pretty soon, we were able to let Newman roam around the house like he normally would and often times, we would find him laying beside the swing if AJ was in it or laying beside the coffee table, under the bassinet.

We continued to let him smell AJ’s feet for a while before we were ready for him to get closer if he wanted. Fast forward to three months old and Newman could be completely trusted when it came to AJ, though we would never (and I still never) leave him alone with AJ in a situation where he could potentially hurt him, accidentally or otherwise.

Newman is a decent sized dog, but I swear he thinks he’s tiny. He loves to lay on Adam’s chest or lay on the back of the couch behind you and wrap himself around your neck, like a scarf.

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We let him continue to do this because most of the time he did so when I was holding AJ on the recliner. There was no worry and we felt very strongly about letting Newman continue to have his normal routine in our home. After all, he’s our baby, too. One night, Adam was feeding AJ and had started to burp him. I saw Newman jump up on the couch on the opposite end and climb on the back, slowly and carefully make his way over to Adam. I told Adam to be careful and aware that Newman was coming up behind him. When our sweet Newmie reached his desired spot behind his daddy, he gingerly laid himself down and placed his head on Adam’s shoulder.

IMG_20140315_185701_458That was the first time I was able to get a picture of my three boys and it’s still one of my favorite pictures from when AJ was younger. The best part was that Newman didn’t try to get any closer, he didn’t try to smell the baby, he just looked at him and AJ looked back, the two of them sharing such a beautiful moment that I was so thankful to have captured.

AJ is much older now (almost nine months) and his relationship with Newman has continued to grow. He’s at the age where he’s beginning to crawl, so I let him (while I supervise) and Newman typically doesn’t bother him, unless it’s to give him kisses. AJ loves his older brother and I am so grateful that Newman, too, loves AJ because now I can focus on training AJ to respect Newman’s space just like we trained Newman to respect AJ’s space.

Having a dog in the house can be so good for a child. They learn compassion and friendship at an early age and they learn how to properly treat animals.

So if you’re pregnant and have a dog in the house, and maybe you’re worried about how to introduce your fur kid to your new kid, just know that you can do it! It takes patience and consistency, but it’s completely possible.

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AJ and Newman playing.

More Myths Busted

In part 2 of this series, I picked apart some myths about adoption that I was stunned to find in the first place. In this post, there are a few more myths I want to bust in order to try and get the right information out there. My hope is that a woman or young woman who is scared and wanting a little support and answers will somehow stumble upon this blog. And as she reads, she will know in her heart that her decision is in the interest of her child. She’ll know that she’s not alone. And maybe she’ll feel a little bit better about her choice, because that’s what adoption is; a choice. A personal choice in which a mother makes the biggest of sacrifices, all for her unborn baby.

I found these completely bogus myths during my research for this series. So here we go…let’s get some truth, shall we?

MYTH: No one WANTS to be an adoptee.

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As far as I know, there are women who get pregnant specifically to place that child with a couple who, for whatever reason, can not have children of their own; they’re called surrogate mothers and they totally exist. Secondly, some women, who never wanted children, find themselves in a situation where they’re pregnant and don’t want to have an abortion. These women are among those who choose adoption for their baby. Now, is there such a case where a teenager gets pregnant and decides to place her baby? Of course there is, there have been a few cases on 16 and Pregnant as a matter of fact, but that doesn’t mean that they, too, don’t want to place their baby for adoption.

What they want, in most cases, more than anything is to be able to go to prom, be able to graduate and be able to go to college and have the full college experience without doing all of this at the expense of a child.

MYTH: No mother who has lost a child ever fully recovers.

Not true, guys. Yes- just like with any loss- a woman will have her grieving period, which may last a few weeks, months…even years. But that doesn’t mean that she won’t ever be okay. With the right support system, a birth mother can recover from her loss and find joy in her decision to place her child. Now, having said that, I know some birth mothers may not have an immediate support system, be it their family or even friends that can help them get through it. So I have scoured the internet and have below listed some websites you can visit to find a support group in your area as well as online support groups.

Birth Mother Resources offers support groups for both birth mothers and pregnant women. They also have an area where you can find a group in your area as well as a link for an online support system.

Adoption Services is a state-by-state listing of all support groups and also offers websites for online support groups.

America Adopts offers numerous online support groups for birth mothers. They also have links for birth father blogs and birth mother websites.

Adoption Support Center features birth mom stories from real birth mothers who chose adoption for their baby.

MYTH: Giving up your baby is wrong. It just means you’re a bad parent.

I’m here to tell you that acknowledging that you can’t or don’t want to raise your baby (whatever your reasons may be) and making a plan to find a family who will and can love that child as though it were their own is not wrong. It takes a tremendous amount of courage and maturity to make this decision. Don’t ever let anyone try to convince you that adoption is wrong. Because by choosing to place your child, you’re doing one of the most selfless and brave things a woman could ever do.

Since I’ve started this series, I’ve been trying to refrain from using phrases like ‘giving up your child’ because I don’t think adoption has anything to do with giving up. On the contrary, it’s not giving up on your baby’s future. It’s ensuring that your child will never have to know what it’s like to not play sports because mommy and daddy have to pay the rent. Or know the feeling of thinking Santa doesn’t believe they’re good enough because (unbeknownst to them) mommy and daddy can’t afford to buy them Christmas presents. It takes a strong woman to put her own needs aside and make a decision for her baby that ensures it will have the best life possible. Even if it means she can’t be the one to give it.