Mommy for a Week

My friend Amber did a brave thing last week. She decided to care for her sister’s THREE kids for a week. “How hard could it be?” she may have thought. I’m not sure what her expectations were, but she posted her daily thoughts through this experience to her Facebook page. I had to share, as I related immensely and laughed a ton. I figured it was worth publicizing through my tiny little blog for the whole world to read.

This is lengthy, but GOOD stuff. Please note I have copied and pasted verbatim!

Post One:

Going to see the family and take care of Aprils kiddos for a week while her and Brandon take a much needed vacation. A week as “mom” will be the perfect way to gain some perspective or lose my mind. Prayers please.

traveling to Detroit, Michigan from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (Sea-Tac).

Day One 12/3:

Day one. Was warned Chase likes to pull his diaper down and pee on things. Didn’t believe it until u saw it. Peed on his bed at naptime. Got sheets in washer. Put sheets on bed for bedtime and he peed on himself and bed right after a bath. While stripping bed got a scream from Bowen, “Aunt Amber I need help”. He didn’t quite make it to the potty in time. As Bowen stood in a Pool of pee and poop and looked up at me helplessly I realized the true joys of being a parent. OMG.

Day Two 12/4:

Day Two. First trip out of the house to go to the YMCA so Bowen can go to preschool and Chase plays in the kid zone. This means 2 HOURS of workout and work time. I literally started preparing at 7 am to be able to leave at 9:15. At 9:10 am, we are all bundled up, boots on, coats on and back pack packed…Bowen has to pee. But he likes to pee with ALL OF HIS CLOTHES off. So back pack off, coat off, boots off, pants off…and then pants on, boats on, coat on and back pack. And we are off! As I walked in with two back packs (theirs and mind) and Chase drooling and Bowen yelling, a mom was sitting there with her well-behaved little boy and I looked at her and said, “I’m the aunt with no kids watching my sister’s kids for a week.”. This woman started laughing HYSTERICALLY AT ME (not with me) and the teacher who was also standing there joined in. I have another shot at it next Monday…by that time I will be a pro. This is so humbling.

Then later:

Thanks for all the support peeps! This experience is like a personal development seminar I would pay $6000 to attend to get my butt kicked…but this experience was all for the price of a plane ticket home. I have to say that I definitely had a soul moment when I was working in the lobby at the YMCA and Bowen’s class walked by, he whispered, “Aunt Amber” and smiled and waived at me as he walked by. HEART MELTED. Then I went to pick Chase up and he ran with his arms open to me. WOW, I AM TEMPTED TO HAVE ONE OF THESE was went through my head…briefly. That was awesome. Then the boys and I drew and colored for an hour…I haven’t drawn with crayons (for an hour) in probably 25 years, and then dance and tickle party that turned into spinning the kiddos around (what a workout and it’s so hilarious to watch them stumble around, is that okay to say?), then I had dinner started and April called. I was so stoked, the kids were SO HAPPY and I was rocking it out. They were all talking to April upstairs and then I hear a scream. Arleena runs downstairs and is crying hysterically. She says Bowen hit her. I tell April I got it handled and hang up. Arleena proceeds to write a note on her door that says, “I am not coming out until Mom and Dad comes home”. As Bowen was running away from me, I used the ole “You have THREE SECONDS to GET OVER HERE…1…2…Holy crap it worked. That was cool. No reading of the books was his punishment and he had to look his sister in the eye and apologize…that took a few tries. Chase had me read the SAME FREAKIN book at least 17 times today. I think I am going to hide it tomorrow. Is that cruel? All you parents out there BLESS YOUR HEARTS. I believe I won’t be able to walk by a mom or dad with two young kids and not hug them after this…

Day Three 12/5:

So when do moms eat, put on mascara, go to the bathroom or take a shower? I realized that I had given Chase most of my breakfast because he was hungry and when I got a snack he wanted that too. Tried to go upstairs to brush teeth and as soon as I got the tooth brush in my mouth and I hear a door slam and a cry. Bowen has locked his brother downstairs. Perhaps leaving a 4 year old in charge of a 1 year old isn’t a good idea. BTW I still have to pee, am wearing the same clothes two days straight and got a glimpse in a mirror…I’m officially a hot mom mess.

Then later:

Kids -1, Aunt Amber 0. There is no other way to say it except that I got my ass kicked today. I am still in awe on how little Chase can have so much and so absolutely horrifying stank in his diaper. I don’t get it. It’s cruel. And then I made the mistake of keeping the poop diaper open so I could put the dirty wipes in there and the toy Chase was playing with magnetically landed in the poop and then as I am grabbing the toy and wiping that off, his foot lands in it. Awesome. I also don’t understand why everyone will be playing NICE and then the MOMENT I step out…just for a second, all hell breaks loose? Seriously? There was tears, punches, pulled hair, screams and even blood today. I thought Chase busted tooth on Arleena’s head, but I wiggled it and thankfully it’s still in there good. Bright side is it’s his baby teeth, so we were okay if there was a casualty (at least that is what I was telling myself as I ran to the scene of the crime). At 3:30 and I was planning my trip to the grocery store for wine. I don’t know what April and I were thinking that 1 bottle was going to last 7 days… Arleena walked in the door from school and I took the 1 1/2 year old with me while Arleena watched Bowen. I walked in with my snow boots and yoga pants and shirt I have worn now for 3 days and put that kid in the cart. I bee-lined straight for the wine without making any eye contact with anyone. I picked up my two bottles of wine and placed them in the ginormous cart and rolled up to the check out. Got carded…and successfully made it out of the store with a happy Chase and happy Aunt Amber. I then proceed to try to put Chase in his carseat and he decides that is the last thing he wants to do and he tightens up his body like a stiff board and screams bloody murder. I tried to calm him down but then had to man handle him to get him strapped in and he screamed all the way home. Was it worth it for just 2 bottles of wine? Hell yes it was worth it. Then, I spent an hour cooking a delicious meal only to have the kids look at me like I am crazy because I didn’t realize in the Willer house, the tomatoes in the sauce have to be pureed to a thin consistency and Bowen doesn’t like his food to touch and I had put black beans, chicken and tomato sauce together. I did the 10 bite minimum trick and through sad puppy eyes they obliged but later I would feed them popcorn because I felt bad I had overlooked those details. I am whooped….Chase and I were playing downstairs and I laid on the couch and closed my eyes, he came up to me and said, “Aunt Amber, what’ wrong?”….Oh buddy, nothing’s wrong, Aunt Amber is just tired. I work 12 -14 hours a day as CEO of The Healthy Edge…I don’t have a problem with energy or getting shiz done, but managing 3 independent people who have their own needs, thoughts and ideas about how things should roll is cray cray. Again, I am so humbled. On a bright note, I did get a kiss from Chase and Bowen accidentally called me mom…Although it was a long day (these are just a couple of the details), I am ready to rock this out tomorrow and continue to be present, patient, fun and flexible! Prayers please!

Day Four 12/6:

Day four last night i was up at midnight, 2:45, 4:30 and 6:15. It’s amazing how quickly the adrenaline surges through your body when u hear a scream or cry. And then how do u go right back to bed after that? I thought the wine was suppose to help that. I felt like I needed to take a run or power clean. So I freaked myself out today when Bowen yells: Aunt Amber there is poop on the carpet!! Aunt amber: WHAT??? Show me buddy! Bowen: Right there! Aunt Amber: what should I do Bowen? Bowen: Smell it! Without missing a beat, I reach down, touch it and yes, smelled it. I have officially lost my mind. Just so everyone knows it wasn’t poop. I am also reconsidering wanting boys after watching Chase pull his thing out and marking his territory by peeing on things and then Chase trying to grab Bowens thing when he pees and thinking it is the funniest thing ever…he seriously fell down he was laughing so hard. And Chase running around trying to put his thing on his sister. There was a bit too much testosterone flying around. I wasn’t sure how to stop the madness without putting them in therapy later in life because Aunt Amber wouldn’t let them explore their body and express themselves. I think I may need therapy after this. And what do u do when a 1 year old only says no and u want to tell them to stop saying no. It sounds ridiculous. Chase: NO aunt Amber! No! Aunt Amber: Chase, we don’t say no. You should see the look he gave me, like, really? Off to another day in the trenches.

Then later:

Nap time today means Shower time for Aunt Amber. I LOVE showers because you get to relax and some of my best business ideas come to me in the shower. WITH KIDS…not so much. I felt like a freaking Indy 500 pit stop. I was washing my hair as fast as I could because I thought I heard crying. There is no way I would ever have shaved my legs…Brian is going to be surprised about that when I get home…but I don’t care…seriously. I haven’t showered that fast since our hot water heater broke. Then I get out of the shower and run to the hallway to check if I hear little cries…yoga pants back on, hair half brushed, I did manage some mascara and lip gloss and a NEW CLEAN SHIRT! All is still quiet…going back to brush the rest of my hair…maybe even some blush today! YEAH ME! ‪#‎awesomeauntamber‬

Then later:

Final share and insight of the day. If I could have it my way (as in the words of Burger King), I think I would prefer to pick up my kid at 4 years old and skip the 0-3 year old stage. Chase gave me a run for my money today. I literally felt like I had an eye on him EVERY second (because I am new at this and I don’t want to break someone else’s kids) yet he managed to run the dishwater 3 times today, made some butt soup in his diaper 3 times and one time it was so bad that when I came in the room after an hour it still smelled so freakin rank that I got on my hands and knees and started searching for poop. I was literally sniffing blankets, sheets, clothes and for residual poop,. He put (I don’t know how many before I caught him) puzzle pieces in the vent, managed to find a large spoon that he proceeded to hit his brother with and then run away from me for at least two loops around the house (little shit is fast), he shoved a 1/2 banana in his mouth all at the same time and wouldn’t spit any of it out so I had to just watch and say “CHEW CHASE” and pray he wouldn’t choke and then he took two handfuls of food and shoved both of them in his mouth at dinner and again refused to open his mouth…he thought that was hilarious and let out a belly laugh through his pursed lips that spit the food all over me. At that point all I could do was laugh uncontrollably because I seriously cannot make this shiz up. Chase also graced me with another glorious act of peeing all of his shirt and bed during nap time which I didn’t discover until I picked him up and put him up against my CLEAN CLOTHES and SHOWERED SELF. And to cap the day off he peed in the bathtub and then dumped water on his newly washed hair. Day 4 I survived but not thrived. On a positive note…I was ON IT THIS MORNING and made a green smoothie BEFORE the kids breakfast and allowed them to push the buttons and turn the dial on the vitamix. They thought it was great and Auntie Amber got some needed fuel…and got a mega mom workout with the kiddos and 3 healthy meals with snacks…so yeah me. ‪#‎awesomeauntieamber‬

Day Five 12/7:

Day Five….actually begins with Day Four. Watching Ohio State DOMINANT and I hear the little patter of feet. I don’t know if it was the glass of wine or sugar coma from the 3 cookies I ate, but when Bowen meekly walked in and with tears in his eyes said, “Aunt Amber, I’m scared,” I was putty in his hands. I understand now why some kids sleep with their parents. I put him on the couch with me and told him as long as he was quiet he could watch the game with me. I got the room nice and dim and thought for sure he would be out like a light. Not that easy. An hour later we are chatting back and forth…the kid is funny and I think I was lonely So I take him upstairs and SOMEHOW he talks me into staying in the bed with him until he falls asleep. So at 12:30 I wake up with his armpit in my face and I am seriously like, “where am I?”. On my way to my room, I peek into Arleena’s room and that little stinker is on my iPad watching movies, “But Aunt Amber, you didn’t tell me I could only watch ONE movie.” Rookie mistake. As my head hits the pillow I am EXHAUSTED and not five minutes later little man, Chase lets out a scream…I am freakin out because I don’t want Bowen to wake up and I open the door and as I walked to the crib I stub my toe on a stupid wooden book. I bend over and cuss in my head and take a deep breath and pick up Chase. It’s dark and I can’t see him, but as I am trying to rock him he is so upset that he is holding his breath and for a second I think this kid might pass out. Then what do I do? Smack him around? Nobody told me I need smelling salts for this job. He finally calms down and we repeat this at 1:00, 2:00, 4:00 and at 6:56 he starts in again and I seriously thought it was just a nightmare…there is no way this kids is ready to get up… But he is…and I realize that he doesn’t care that I’m not…I took the challenge to take all 3 kids to church. Another observation of stupidest invention ever: button up dress shirts for toddlers. I got suckered in…looked so cute on the hanger. He was not happy about the buttons and when I did get it buttoned up, I was one off. At this point, I am committed and after 10 minutes we successfully have the shirt on. I decide after what Chase put me through I need to do something to make him cute to me again so I use some of my hair gel and shape a cool little mohawk (adorable) and we are off. Two hour break from the kiddos and worship to the Lord for many things, but mainly a two hour break from the kiddos. I went to pick up Chase in the kids room and it had a stupid childproof fence on the door. I seriously tried to open it and it wouldn’t open…there were four adults standing around inside talking and I had to interrupt them and ask them to help me. Oh, it gets worse. I pick Chase up and they have shut the freaking door so I have to ASK AGAIN (because I didn’t pay attention the first time) for someone to please open up the kids gate…so humbling. As I walked out of church, I’m hungry and tired, I open the door and go to put Chase into the car and Arleena says, “Aunt Amber, that’s not our car”. WHAT? I had opened up someone else’s car. I quickly tried to close it but it’s a stupid automatic door (what is the freakin point of those…it takes so long to shut…I was just praying it would shut already so no one would see.) The REALLY bad thing? It wasn’t even the same color as our car…we laughed all the way home and Arleena couldn’t wait to tell mom and dad. So I think they got an idea of where I am at after day five.

Day Six 12/8:

Oh praise the Lord, the kiddos SLEPT ALL THE WAY THROUGH THE NIGHT! Chase from 7:45 – 7:00 am and Bowen from 9:00 – 8:00! Arleena had a nightmare and ended up in my bed, and besides the four times I woke myself up hallucinating that I heard cries, I got a FULL NIGHT SLEEP! I am READY READY READY TO GO! YEAH KIDDOS!

Then later:

This conversation is only okay in the right context: Bowen: “Aunt Amber, I NEED your help to go potty!” Aunt Amber: “Bowen, you are a big boy and I know that you can go potty by yourself.” Bowen: But Aunt Amber, I want you to take my pants off for me.” Aunt Amber: “Bowen, Aunt Amber is not going to take your pants off for you, but I will watch you, do we have a deal?” Bowen: “Deal!” OMGoodness…what has happened to my life?

Then later:

I thought I was going CRAZY. I change Chase’s diaper in the living room. Usual stuff, nothing exciting and about five minute later he says, OUCH…OOOUCH….OOOOOUCH…and points to his butt. Aunt Amber: “Buddy, what’s wrong?” Chase sticks his finger in the side of his diaper and says, “OUCHIE!”. I pull his diaper to the side and check for a rash or a bite or something and there is nothing. I pick him up and talk to him and after a few seconds he wants down and runs off and plays. About 5 minutes later I hear him in the other room crying and saying, OUCHIE! He runs to my legs and he just keeps repeating OUCHIE, OUCHIE, OOOOOUCHIE. I pull his diaper over again and give another examination and see nothing. I pick him up, talk to him and then he wants down and runs off to play. So after 30 minutes of this back and forth, I am thinking this kid is playing me as a fool. He has to be doing this for attention. I am cooking dinner and not able to fully engage, so he is MAKING ME pay attention to him. So I have a good heart to heart with my sweet 1 1/2 year old nephew, “Chase, Aunt Amber has to cook and I think you are being a faker. The world doesn’t like fakers kiddos. I need you to suck it up and go play…you got it?. Aunt Amber is not going to hold you any more until dinner is ready.” That lasted about a minute and with one more epic melt down I’ve had it. I take him into the living room and lay him down to take his diaper entirely off and let him air out, run around naked…anything just stop crying dude. I take his diaper off and WHAT DO I SEE? A freakin pine needle is in his diaper. I immediately went into baby talk and apologized: “CHASERS, Aunt Amber is so so so sorry buddy. I am sure your tooshie did hurt with a pine needle poking it. I am so sorry I called you a faker…Aunt Amber sucks buddy. Will you ever forgive me?” He smiled…probably from the relief and went on about his way. WOW…humble pie Aunt Amber? Where else is this showing up in your life Aunt Amber? YIKES…another great life lesson from a one and a half year old. Who needs therapy?

Then later:

One more quick rant/observation. Chase is seriously like a stealth ninja. You take your eyes off of him for one freaking nanosecond and the one item in the whole room that he shouldn’t have, he has and it’s in his mouth. Aunt Amber was trying to kill some time so we spent ten minutes brushing his teeth…he loves to put his tooth brush under the water and then in his mouth and suck the water…whatever does it for you buddy. Then he wanted to wash his hands. So we did that for another five minutes. I turn around to get a towel and not more than 3 seconds (seriously) and the kids has the hand soap pump in his mouth and he pumps it. I scream and yell…CACA!!!! and he has a horrid look on his face and he sticks his tongue out and I am using my bare hand to wipe the soap out of his mouth. There’s more. No joke, 30 minutes later, he has a pump of a body lotion bottle in his mouth and as I am running towards him in slow motion yelling, NOOOOO!!!, he pumps it. Same horrid face, sticks his tongue out and Aunt Amber is once again wiping his mouth out with my bare hand. Seriously, from what I have seen this kid put in his mouth, he might shit out a Christmas ornament or sweet smelling candle…or bubbles.

Day Seven 12/9:

Brian and I use to crack up when we saw parents with their kids on a leash. You know, the monkey back-packs with the tail. On day 6 with a 1 1/2 year old, I totally get it and I would buy one…in a heartbeat. At this point I don’t care what looks ridiculous. I had to sit on Chase yesterday at the YMCA. I fully straddled him (on my knees) so he wouldn’t run away so I could zip up his coat. People walking by, Chase screaming, Bowen running down the hall like a madman, two back-packs on my back…didn’t bother me one bit. Jacket zipped up…mission accomplished. Million different ways to skin a cat peeps.

Then later (I think she lost track of her days):

Day 6. I would like everyone’s approval, but I believe I may receive a honorary mom degree after this day. Chase refused to put/keep his bib on…on Day 1..2..3…Aunt Amber would have tried for 10 minutes because the kid is seriously a train wreck when he eats…but TODAY I picked my battle and let it go. This picture represents shirt #1 out of 3 today. Then at dinner we had scrambled eggs and Chase put half of his eggs in his mouth, opens his mouth and uses his tongue to push all the eggs out of his mouth. I scoop the eggs back on to the plate and we keep going…but it gets better, actually worse. These kids eat like horses and I was STARVING and really wanted some more freakin eggs after Arleena polished off the last bit. Chase pushed his plate away and I looked at it….I looked at it hard and I made an epic decision. I wasn’t sure how many eggs left on the plate had been in his mouth, but I didn’t care. As I was cleaning up and managing the chaos, I put some Frank’s hot sauce on the eggs and avocado and ate it. All of it. I’m a bit nauseous as I write this, but I’m not hungry. Had to go to the bathroom and for those of you who have heard me speak at Healthy Edge events…me loves to celebrate poop. So I had to poop and it was definitely not a moment to slip away so I took the 1 year old with me and let him play in the bathroom as I did what I needed to do. He didn’t mind and I kind of liked the entertainment…better than reading a magazine. Go me. Had some success breaking Bowen’s pattern today, he THREW A FIT because Arleena got Cantaloupe and he got applesauce for dinner. (Backstory is that Bowen had Cantaloupe for a snack and too much Cantaloupe and he will shit up his back…and that was not going to happen…not on my watch.) So as Bowen is screaming and crying and about to absolutely lose it…I say…BOWEN WHEN YOU EAT CANTALOUPE YOU POOP UP YOUR BACK LIKE THIS and I get up from the table and make the biggest farting noise I can with my mouth and make dramatic movements with my hands like something is coming out of my butt. Everyone laughed and after doing that about 5 times, he was over it and gulped down his applesauce. Then he pinched his finger and was again SCREAMING (this kid is very dramatic) and I said, BOWEN WHAT CAN AUNT AMBER DO…Bowen: NOTHING! GET AWAY! and he SCREAMS at the top of his lungs. Aunt Amber: Bowen, can I see it? Bowen: NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! Aunt Amber: Bowen, can I kiss it? Bowen: NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! Aunt Amber with a straight face: Bowen, Can I LICK IT? Bowen: Ah, (giggle)….ah no. And that was over. And one final story of the night, Yes, I went poop again (Healthy Edgers are loving this) and this time I thought I did sneak away since Arleena was home. I was in April and Brandon’s BEAUTIFUL new bathroom and I FORGOT to lock the door. First Chase opens the door and in a very deep voice I say, “HEY, YOU GET OUT OF HERE” and he screams and shuts the door. Then Bowen, the funny man, starts in and opens the door. I say Bowen, SHUT THE DOOR AUNT AMBER IS POOPING. He laughs and thinks it’s hilarious and of course he is going to do it again. So then I pull out the big guns. Bowen opens the door and pops his head in: Aunt Amber: If you open that door on more time, I am going to make you wipe Aunt Amber’s butt like I have been wiping your butt all week. Got it? There was lots of laughter on the other side of the door but no one opened the door. Aunt Amber 1 – Kids 0.

Day Eight 12/10:

Day 7. April and Brandon are home now and I am officially off “mom” duty and back to just good ole “Aunt Amber”. Today I felt like I had come a LONG way since 7 days ago and even ventured out to the YMCA to take advantage of the 2 hour allotment at the “KID ZONE”. Why wouldn’t a mom take advantage of this everyday? An hour workout and an hour of work and back home we went. Kids went down for a nap. Chase was content in his crib, so I let him stay in there while Bowen and I played. As it neared 3:00 I went up and listened at the door and he was still just quietly talking to himself. So I let him continue to entertain himself…Bowen was digging the attention. At 3:30, the kid had been in there since 12:30 so I opened the door and he greeted me with a smile and a happy yell. I could smell the poop in the pants and lifted him out of the crib, held him for a second and then straight onto the floor for a diaper change. I saw his black pants looked like they had food smeared down the front of them. I touched it and it seemed dry and then of course I smelled it… My worse nightmare, it was poop. I yelled, “It’s POOP! Oh my sweet Lord in heaven, where else is it? Let me see your hands!” He opened his hands and to my horror…poop. The kid didn’t pee on his bed, but he did reach his hands down his pants and…the rest is history. I didn’t know where to start. I grabbed a wipe and started wiping his hands…then I remembered I had put him up against me when I lifted him out of bed…I gagged. I had JUST showered during nap time…NOOOO! I changed his diaper, stripped him down and put him in the bath. This was pretty much how my experience as mom ended. Just when I was getting all melancholy and sentimental about our time being over…BAAAM! The kid shits his pants and plays in it. I’m out. I have to say that this experience has built so much appreciation and empathy for EVERY PARENT out there, ESPECIALLY those that are doing it alone. Here are just some random take aways that I haven’t vented yet:
1) I always wondered why April was always so behind on laundry…now I get it. It isn’t that DOING the laundry is hard, it’s the actual folding and getting it into it’s proper place that’s difficult. I have 3 baskets full of folded laundry, but during my free time (naps and night) the kids are in their rooms…I get it now.
2) Washing your hands 25 times a day is BRUTAL! My hands feel like I dipped them in acid. Dry, scaly, red and they burn from all the hand washing and half drying them to go on to the next task. Ugh.
3) If I had children and my husband and I did date night, we would ALWAYS go out to eat, not because I don’t have to cook but because I can EAT AS MUCH AS I WANT and it isn’t food that has been dropped on the floor, spit out of someone’s mouth or left on their plate….can I get an AMEN?
4) Wine by the bottle is a joke. A box of wine is the only way to go.
5) Just because I didn’t have time to shave my legs doesn’t mean that goes for the armpits as well…kind of scary today when I was doing overhead presses and got a glimpse of my pits…oops.
I am sure more will come to me tomorrow…I’m having a glass of wine.

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Piper’s 9 Months

This post is actually a week or so late unfortunately, but with good cause. Last Thursday we trekked over to Cle Elem for the Heras/Parris wedding, came back Sunday and then Sunday night I flew out to London for work. I got back on Friday, so things have been a little crazy busy. As a sidenote, traveling for that long internationally when you’re still nursing is quite the experience. I packed a ton of pump parts and a scrub brush, but it’s not particularly easy to execute pumping and cleaning in a foreign land. Then when I got to security, TSA at Heathrow told me I couldn’t bring my breast milk on the plane with me since my baby was not with me. This was the 4th time I’ve traveled since going back to work and I’ve never been told that. Additionally, I had done my research and there is nothing on the TSA website that lists that as a requirement. Lastly, why would I have a ton of breast milk if my baby were with me? It just seemed crazy, but not having worked through this rationale in my head at the time I was just upset because I didn’t want to lose my milk. I ended up being able to check it all, so it all worked out in the end, thank goodness!

I made it back from London in one piece and one of the first things I asked Brian when I got home was if Piper had a tooth yet. I could feel swelling and nubs in her mouth right before I left, but Brian said no. I stuck my finger in her mouth to feel around and sure enough she did have a tooth! Here are some of the other notable developmental milestones Piper has hit:

  • She walking quite a bit now for pretty long distances at a time
  • She eats pretty much everything we do, but we put everything she eats in a chopper
  • We think she’s said four words other than “abba” – “mama, dada, hi & Ellie”
  • She loves to play peek-a-boo
  • She loves to clap
  • She loves to wave

9 Month Report 9 Month Scale

At her 9-month checkup the doctor was optimistic about Piper. There wasn’t really anything of concern. They poked her foot to get a blood sample to test her iron levels and everything was right where it should be. The only thing that’s challenging for us right now is still the sleep thing (more to come in another post about sleep advice from our sleep doula) and the fact that Piper’s a total busy body wiggle worm. It’s incredibly difficult to change her diaper or change her clothes because she’s just moving about all the time. As you can see from her nine month pic where her headband is around her neck, the girl plays with everything…

Piper's 9 Months!

 

Getting Toddlers to sleep

Piper has never slept through the night. Okay, that’s a lie. She has slept through the night one or two times since she was born. We didn’t do any sleep training, we thought things would be easier because she’s the second and we made one major mistake. Ellie slept through night at 3 months, then not at 6 months and so on and so forth until present. I wouldn’t say our girls are horrible sleepers, but they’re just not that good. Since we moved Ellie to a big girl bed she pretty much got out of it every night and joined us. She was also difficult to put down, so we ended up joining her in bed until she fell asleep and letting her go to bed a little later, somewhere between 8:30 and 9:30 usually. Often times we would fall asleep with her when putting her to bed, making it a less than enjoyable evening for whoever got groggily woken up by the other – usually Brian!

With the lack of sleep and the lack of our desire to invest time in reading how to fix the problem, along with my lack of desire to let her cry it out, we weren’t left with many options. Enter sleep doula. Yes, this is a thing.

We found a reputable one and she came to our house to meet and bless us with her sleep wisdom.

While she walked us through the training for Piper, we decided to start with Ellie. If you have a toddler that’s going to bed later, taking awhile to get to sleep and waking up throughout the night (and perhaps joining you in bed), you must read this. It seems I’ve had a lot of friends who have been in the same position.

First, there are a few products she recommends you invest in, of course! What parent doesn’t need more crap to buy?

        • Kinderglo Night Lights – we went with the Elephant (for Ellie), but there are lots of animals to choose from. The most important feature of this night light according to the sleep doula is the fact that it has a red setting. There is a great YouTube Video on how to use them if you don’t like to read instructions.
        • Extra Tall Baby Gate – this is the one we decided to go with, but there are plenty of others. The important thing is that it’s Extra Tall.
        • Kid’s Alarm Clock – again, lots of choices. The key is that they visually indicate to your little one when it’s okay to get out of bed. To be honest, we never used this, so I’m not sold on it. However, we have friends who swear by it, so it works for some and not for others.
        • Sound Machine – we happened to already have these for both the girls, but she did mention it’s best to use an app to test the decibel level. Sound machines are best at 60 decibels.
        • Lovies – many options, the most important thing is that you have more than 1 so that when one is lost or you’re washing one, there are back ups that look and feel the same.
        • Video Baby Monitor – I think this a nice to have for some people. For me it’s a must-have. Ellie makes some noise throughout the night and I’m one of those people who would respond prematurely. Having the monitor is kind of like my security blanket.

Once you have the goods, the only thing left to do is implement the steps. Sleep Doula follows a philosophy from The Sleep Lady®’s Book, Good Night, Sleep Tight. Here are the steps (as we recall them from months ago):

  1. Put the baby gate up on your child’s door
  2. Set the alarm clock and explain to them what it means, i.e. “When the bunny is awake, you can get out of your bed. If you wake up and the bunny is asleep, it’s time to go back to sleep.”
  3. No milk within an hour of bed time – apparently milk causes kids to go potty more than water
  4. Create a bed time routine and DO NOT deviate – the recommended one goes like this:
    1. Have dinner no later than 6 pm
    2. Take baths
    3. Go to the bathroom
    4. Brush teeth
    5. Read a book
    6. Turn the alarm clock on red
    7. Turn the sound machine on
    8. Leave a couple of ounces of water in a sippy cup next to their bed
    9. Tell them you love them and goodnight
    10. Make sure they have their lovie for comfort
    11. In bed with the lights completely off no later than 7:30
  5. Nights 1-4: Sit in a chair right next to your child’s bed until they fall asleep. Stay there for 10 minutes after they fall asleep. Do not do anything other than exactly this.
    1. It’s likely your toddler will say many things, but the most important thing is to comfort them with words and do everything you can to keep them in the bed. We found that things like “we can do that tomorrow” and giving options seemed to work. You’ll find your own communication wins.
    2. If your toddler will not listen, you have to threaten (and follow through if needed) to leave the room. It’s their choice to stay in bed and listen or if they don’t you’ll have to leave. If you have to leave, you can stand outside the gate with it closed. You can see them and talk to them and you can tell them you cannot come back in until they get back in their bed.
    3. If she gets up in the middle of the night and is genuinely crying (not just fussing – check your camera), you can go to the gate, but they have to get back in their bed before you can come in the room. Once they’re in bed, you can come in and hug them and give them kisses for comfort, but do not get in the bed with them and do not let them get out of the bed. You can sit in the chair until they fall asleep and follow the same routine.
  6. Nights 5-8: Move the chair a few feet away from the bed and do the exact same thing as #5
  7. Continue this process for four nights until your chair is at the door
  8. After you’ve sat in the chair for four nights right by the door, you move the chair and stand by the door
  9. After four nights of that, you stand outside the gate
  10. In order to get to the point of leaving your toddler in bed awake, you have to gradually leave for small periods of time and build up to leaving right after they lay down in bed. We said things like “I have to go help daddy with the dishes, I love you, night night.” At first I would leave for 10 seconds and come back (usually because she demanded it), then we got to 15, 20 and so forth.

After about 4 weeks (from the beginning) Ellie was sleeping in her bed through the night. Some nights are still harder than others, but it’s never an hour long ordeal to get her to sleep. She sleeps through the night most nights in her bed most nights and she’s much more rested during the day. She’s happier during the day and she naps well during the day, something that was challenging before. According to the Sleep Doula, kids who don’t go to bed on time get worse sleep at night and kids who aren’t well rested aren’t as happy, don’t behave as well, and have a hard time napping. For me, it was really hard to stand my ground on these rules because I want my girls to feel loved and supported always. I can honestly say with this routine I don’t feel like Ellie ever felt unloved, scared, or lonely. There were definitely times of adjustment and difficulty, but the end result is a much happier child, who has a routine and boundaries. When she goes to bed she says “I love you” and “night, night” back to us, she closes her eyes and she goes to sleep peacefully (most nights;).

Some day we’ll get to a solution for Piper – perhaps by the time she’s a toddler. Baby steps, right?

Piper’s 7 Months!

Piper turned seven months and she’s just been going going going. She is one of those babies that’s very engaging, very smiley, very excited and very on the go. In fact, she will seldom lay on the changing table long enough for us to change her diaper. Most of the time we can lay her down to take it off and wipe, but then we have to stand her up to put a new diaper on and put her clothes back on.

She’s progressing quite quickly as far her mobility goes as well. She loves to pull herself up on anything possible. She went through a phase for a week or two of not being able to hold herself up once she got up or crawling so fast she would run into stuff. That was a very difficult couple of weeks because no one likes Piper bruises. It seems that time has come to an end though. Every time she pulls herself up she stays up and she knows how to let herself down more gently. She’s also letting go sometimes and standing for a few seconds, which is very exciting. While no parent wants to hover, I find it very difficult to not be ready to catch her when she’s exploring like this.

Piper’s also been experiences the same “teething” Ellie did around this time. I put “teething” in quotes because there aren’t actually any teeth. Ellie was the same way – there are spurts of massive salivation, gnawing on pretty much everything, some fever and discomfort. It’s no fun at all, but we’re done with the most recent teething event, so nothing to complain of for the time being.

Piper’s still not sleeping through the night, although she has gone for long stretches. She sometimes won’t wake up until 3:30 or so, which means 7-8 hours of straight sleep. The problem is, it’s straight sleep for her, but not us, since we don’t go to be until 11ish usually.

Ellie’s also still joining us in the middle of the night every night. We pretty much gave up on trying to take her back to her bed because it just caused us to lose more sleep. So instead we get kicked and woken up by crying almost every night. Oh the joys of parenting. I know I’ve said it before, but it really is all worth it. To see these cute little faces every day, to see them giggle and grow and play and sleep is totally all worth it.

7MoPiper

 

 

 

Piper’s 6 Months

I realize this is a bit late, but the photos are all from when Piper actually turned six months, a couple of weeks ago. The last few weeks have admittedly been pretty exhausting. Right before Piper turned 6 months Brian went to China for a week. The next week I did a 19 hour day, flying to San Francisco and having meetings all day and then flying back. The week after that I took a red eye to Toronto on Wednesday night at midnight and then I flew back that Friday night. Then came Mother’s Day weekend and the time to sit down and compose a post for Piper’s six month birthday has really not come to fruition until now.

We had Piper’s 6 month appointment on May 5th. She weighed in at just over 15 pounds.

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The doctor was visibly impressed with her strength and muscle tone. When she pulled herself up on the table I think he had to double check that this was her six month appointment. As I have mentioned, I’m pretty sure she’s some sort of super human, especially considering she’s not really that thick of a babe. Here is her checkup card with all the specs.

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All that writing at the bottom is because after the nurse administered the vaccine, the doctor came in to tell us that she administered the wrong one. This has been something that has crossed my mind before; I’ve always wondered if this happens. The nurses and doctors are just running from room to room, giving tons of shots in a day. I was thinking it’s crazy they don’t mess things up. Fortunately for us, it doesn’t sound like it was a very serious mistake. They administered a Pediarix instead of a Pentacel, which basically means that because it hadn’t been 8 weeks since Piper’s last Hep B, she will have to have an extra Hep B in her series and we have to get a Hib next time. The obvious question is whether this is very bad or not. It sounds like it’s not. The next question is whether it’s grounds to explore other doctors. I started the exploration via a benefit at work called Expert Medical Opinion, so we’ll see what their guidance is. Our pediatrician came very highly recommended from our prior pediatrician, as well as several other parents, so it would be sad to have to find someone new. Regardless, I will always check the labels of shots going into my children’s bodies moving forward.

Here is Piper’s six month photo – just a super happy active clam. We are really starting to see her personality come out and she just wants to play nonstop. She really can’t sit still at all. She’s a very laid back baby, in that not much gets to her. But being confined definitely is one of the few things. She is a woman on the go and can’t nobody hold her back. She’s just awesome. Again, now if she could only sleep through the night…do you see a theme with my requests? Sleep, that’s really all I want. “Pretty please,” as Ellie would say.

This lady is on the go...

This lady is on the go…

 

The Holy Grail of Parenting

Every parent will tell you being a parent comes with its ups and downs. These two parents are no different. Specifically as it relates to sleep training, we’ve had our successes and our failures. Ellie was sleeping through the night at three months and we were pretty damn stoked about that…and then three and a half months came! In all seriousness, she’s had her moments of sleeping through the night and then her moments of not. Brian and I have had seemingly endless conversations about this. So many of our friends told us about how they finally let their kids cry it out and the end result was heavenly. While I respect and appreciate every parents methodology, crying it out was not for me.

Every time Ellie got up in the middle of the night, I felt like she was either in pain or needed comfort. Now that her communication skills have grown significantly, we’ve reached what I consider to be one of the Holy Grails of parenting: not only does Ellie sleep through the night, we lay her down in her crib with her blanket and teddy bear. We give her kisses and we tell her “night night” and she lays down and goes to sleep. It’s epic. I almost don’t even want to say it out loud because I don’t want to jinx it, but I’m so effing excited I can barely hold it in.

I wanted to share this news because I know a lot of other parents struggle with the sleep thing. It’s no fun to go a year and a half of your life not knowing if you’re going to be up in the middle of the night or not. As first time parents, the crazy thought that it may never change comes to mind sometimes. This was especially the case for us with the prospect of a second child on the way. Brian kept saying “Lace, we can’t be doing this nighttime routine with Ellie when we have an infant in the house.” It was almost as if some universal force stepped in and said “you’re right,” waved a magic want and poof, Ellie goes to bed on her own and sleeps through the night. If you’re going through sleep troubles as a parent, there will come a time when they will subside. I’m sure it’s different for every child and I have no golden nugget of advice, other than hang in there, stay patient, and do whatever you think is right. At the end of the day, you’re a good parent who loves their child and that’s what really matters.

I don’t know that I believe everything happens for a reason, but I’m very grateful this happened. It was impeccable timing and for that I do thank God – whatever or whoever that may be.  And God, I also make one additional request that we have no reversions, please pretty please, or I will feel extremely guilty for sharing this news.

Relaxation

Last Friday was my ahem…32nd birthday. Brian was very proud of himself (as was I) because he had something planned for it at least 3 weeks in advance, which was definitely a first. As the weekend approached, I became very excited for our little getaway, knowing some relaxation was in order since Grandpete and Grandmo were going to be watching Eloise.

As the weekend neared, the torrential rains set in and Brian was apprehensive. His surprise was going to be a float plane ride up to Friday Harbor in the San Juan Islands. The flights for the day were cancelled, so we drove up and took the ferry and had an amazing relaxing time nonetheless. Ellie had a blast without us as usual, but we could tell she missed us when we got back a little.

One of the most important things during pregnancy is to relax, according to many people, including the author of Brain Rules for Baby, one of the few parenting books Brian and I have read so far. Relaxing is especially difficult when you’ve just sold and purchased a home, are in the middle of renovating said home, quit your job and started a new one, and you have a toddler at home already. Considering the scenario, I think we’ve done a decent job of it and last weekend was by far the most relaxing weekend we’ve had in awhile.

Now that I’m 5 weeks away from having this bebe, a few things have started to cross my mind:

  1. How will “sleep training” be different with a toddler in the house?
  2. Are there things I should know about and things I should say to Ellie as she adapts to having a little sister?
  3. What tricks do I need to know to get the most sleep possible with a toddler and a baby?

It’s started to cross my mind that two might be a whole new endeavor and unlike having your first, I haven’t really gotten a ton of advice this time around. People assume you know what you’re doing if you already have a child and maybe there isn’t much more to it with a second than there was with the first. Is that true? I suppose I can start doing some research, but it just takes so much time! If anyone has any tips, I’d love to hear them as a comment to this blog post!