The Motherhood Journey: 2016

The Motherhood Journey 2016

It’s a new year and I am looking forward to a new year of blogging consistently and growing as a mom. I can’t believe my son turns three this year.

This last year was not an easy year for me but there some good things that happened. this past year I started several new jobs including working at a home for teen moms. This last year I found community through church and through mom groups. This year I started a business with Trades of Hope. Through all the hard times I’ve held onto hope.

This is what the year looked like in my motherhood journey.

The Motherhood Journey 2016

The Motherhood Journey 2016

Babywearing: My son is getting older so I haven’t worn him much lately but babywearing (or toddler wearing) was necessary in so many situations. For example, stores that don’t have carts, long hikes, the zoo, and when he wanted to be held but I was cooking.Check out our photos from the photo shoot fundraiser for the local babywearing library. I encourage you to join your local babywearing group for help with carriers and to try the different types.

Bravery: As a mom going through big life changes and uncertain times, God helped me be brave. Read about how I went from fear to pursuing my dreams.

Flourish: I learned how to flourish and what things are important and necessary for feeding the soul. I love that this is an area where we can continually grow. As moms, it is so important that we take care of ourselves as we take care of our little ones.

Fun: As a mom including fun times for your children is so important, especially if you work from home. I have greatly improved with my time management but also need to make sure my son is having a good time. One of the ways I did this was by creating a quiet time basket to keep him occupied while I did work or had my own “quiet time”.

Top 4 posts on the blog this year

  1. Why I chose The Tiny Potty Training Book to Potty Train My 18 Month Old

It has been almost a year since I potty trained Hezekiah and to be honest he still has accidents occasionally. I don’t regret potty training him “early” though. We saved a lot of diapers and my son gained a lot of independence. Potty training is not easy and I don’t know how I would have done it without this book and the support I had.

2. Tips for helping your child adjust to a sibling

I still only have one child but most of my friends have at least two kids so I had lots of sources. In the future, these tips will be very helpful.

3. How to have dates after baby

Going on a date when you have a new baby can seem impossible for some couples. In this post I give some ideas to make it happen.

4. The truth about postpartum depression, anxiety and baby blues

This was a guest post but I am glad that it was so popular since this is an important topic.

What four words described your year as a mom?

The Simple Gift Guide for Babies (0-2)

simple gift guide for babies

The Simple Gift Guide for Babies

When it comes to deciding which toys and gifts I want my son to have, I do a lot of research. We try to be minimalistic (partly due to not having much space). I encourage people to get my son non-toy gifts and practical items instead of every baby toy they see. I prefer toys that do not require batteries, are active, not passive and eco-friendly, if possible. I hope this list inspires you to give your child simple gifts that versatile and encourage creativity.

simple gift guide for babies

Gifts for baby's first Christmas

First Christmas

Clothes: practical and needed for a growing baby. We get most of our clothes at the thrift store.
Rubber duck: fun for bath time. At almost 18 months, my son still loves his “duck duck”.  You can get a dozen for $6.50 at Oriental Trading.
Socks and baby leg warmers: baby socks always go missing and with the weather getting colder these are especially necessary. We love baby leggings because they add another layer under his pants and baby socks aren’t usually very long.
Eating utensils and bowl: Hezekiah starting eating solids around this time so we needed these. We started out with Nuby spoons. Since we did baby led weaning, we needed spoons that were easy for him to hold and not flat like the rubber spoons. When he was older we started using these Re-Play kids utensils made from recycled plastic. I’ve seen these at Wal-Mart and they are also sold on Amazon.
Sea Snax: we figured since he loved eating paper, this was a healthy alternative and he liked them at first.
Zoo membership: a great gift that you can use all year. If you do not have a zoo near you, look for a children’s museum or somewhere that classes for babies.
The Runaway Bunny: I chose this book for Hezekiah because I love JJ Heller’s “The Boat Song” which is based on this book. Lori Sutherland who teaches my Mom’s class at church described Runaway Bunny as “a beautiful story of the balance of high love and high control in mothering… And a picture of God’s love for us as expressed in Psalm 139.” I love that perspective of this classic book.

Gifts for baby's first birthday

1st birthday

Utensils: my friend bought Hezekiah the Re-Play spoons and forks mentioned above and we love them.
Swim diaper: if your child has a summer birthday. These will make going to the pool easier.
Blocks: I recommend this mini block and roll from Hape toys.
Pottete potty: this travel potty can be used on its own using liners or can be placed on top of a toilet. Ours came with a package of ten liners and a storage bag.

I Would Tuck You In by Sarah Asper-Smith: I first read this book while interning for Alaska airlines magazine several years ago. I fell in love with this cute book. All of the animals featured in the book live in the Pacific Northwest (that includes Alaska). My favorite quote is “If you were a porcupine, I would still hold you close.”

Pat the Bunny by Dorothy Kunhardt: a classic touch and feel book that is interactive. He loved it.

The Little Blue Truck by Alice Schertle: We both love this book. It is full of animal sounds and rhyming words that flow so easily.

Cars: there are so many options and toddlers (especially boys) love cars. We have these Little People cars and these B. cars.
Puzzles: The Melissa and Doug ones are great. This wire puzzle rack is perfect if you have a lot of puzzles like we do.
Shovel and pail: another good one for summer birthdays. I was thinking we would spend a lot of time at the beach.

Gifts for baby's second christmas
2nd Christmas

Toothbrush: toothbrushes are a great minimalistic gift for children of any age. My son loves brushing his teeth so we can can never have too many toothbrushes.

Bubble bath: Toddlers love bubbles and there are several natural brands that make bubble bath that is safe for babies (Burt’s Bees, Honset Company, Poofy Organics shampoo and body wash, Every day Shea).
Toy vacuumI want to get my son a toy vacuum hoping it will help him not be afraid of the real one. I also want to give him an early start “helping” me vacuum.
Boots: With the weather getting colder and wetter, boots have become a necessity. We looked at our local Value Village with no luck but ended up having some gifted to us on Buy Nothing.

Balls: My son already has a kiddie pool filled with ball pit balls (we got these balls on Buy Nothing) and a little basketball. I would also like him to have a soccer ball and a football.

Shape sorter: shape sorters are great toys for teaching toddlers shapes, colors and fine motor control.
Baby Doll: both boys and girls can enjoy playing with dolls. Baby dolls help with speech skills because it gives you an opportunity to talk about the parts of the body and different actions.
Underwear: depending on when you are planning to potty train, these are a must have.
Pajamas (2 piece sets): another necessity as the weather gets colder. Two piece sets are easier for potty training.
Really Woolly Bedtime Prayers: a cute book with simple prayers for toddlers.
The Way Mothers Are by Miriam Schlein: This book shows a mother’s unconditional love for her child. “So you don’t think I love you just when you are good, and stop loving you when you are naughty, do you? That’s not the way mothers are. I love you all the time because you are mine.”

Gifts for baby's second birthday

2nd Birthday

toddler with Trades of Hope turtle backpack
Backpack: Some toddlers love to carry their own stuff and we hope to lighten our load whenever possible. My son recently got this Trades of Hope turtle backpack made from fabric scraps by women in Guatemala. It is perfect because one of his new words is “turtle”.
Lawnmower: My husband and I both had a lawnmower like this that we loved as toddlers. This is a great outdoor toy that gives little ones the opportunity to be like daddy or mommy.
Magnetic letters
Beach ball: Hezekiah had a beach ball that he loved when he was younger but it didn’t survive our move.

Tool set: most toddlers love to imitate their parents. If you or your husband works with tools often, your child will love to “help”. I like this simple tool set from Learning Resources.6
Melissa and Doug magnets: Keep your toddler occupied while you cook or clean in the kitchen. My son has the dinosaur ones and loves them.
Reusable sticker set: Another fun gift from Melissa and Doug. These stickers come with five scenes and matching reusable stickers. My son has the animals and the vehicles.

What gifts would you add to the list?

 

 

Cloth Diapering Resources

cloth diapering resources title photo

Parents choose to use cloth diapers for many reasons. Cloth diapers are better for the environment and better for baby’s sensitive skin. Some people choose cloth diapers because of the way they look– there are some adorable cloth diapers out there. The biggest reason we chose cloth diapers is because of how much money is saved compared to using disposable diapers. If you are wondering where to start with cloth diapers, these resources will get you on track.

cloth diapering resources title photo

Cloth Diapering Resources

Facebook Most cities have local groups for parents who use cloth diapers. These groups are a great way to buy and sell diapers as well as ask questions specific to your area. I am in this group for the Spokane area and this group for the Seattle area.
Introduction to Cloth Diapering class at Mother’s Haven in CDA, Idaho
Store with cloth diapering classes
Dirty Diaper Laundry This blog focuses on cloth diapering and features video reviews.
Reviews
The Real Diaper Association organizes local advocates and activists for cloth diapers.
GroVia This website covers the basics of choosing cloth diapers, washing cloth diapers, and the differences between the various types of diapers.
Cloth for Every Bum Their mission is to give free diapers to low income families and teach them how to use them.

 

How a nightly blessing can benefit your family

Alysa from Alysalovely.com is sharing about a special nighttime routine that her family does with her daughter. This blessing has many benefits for babies and families with children of all ages. Our family has had similar traditions but I love how Alysa and her husband incorporated this blessing into their daughter’s bedtime routine.

How a nightly blessing can benefit your family

How a nightly blessing can benefit your family

When my daughter was born, we received a book from one of our friends called The Family Blessing by Rolf Garborg.  In The Family Blessing, Garborg describes the benefits of saying a blessing over your children every night before bed.  We received the book when our daughter was less than a month old, and I devoured it. I couldn’t wait to get started!

A few months later, when we were actually giving her a specific bedtime, we decided to add a blessing to her bedtime routine.  At four months old, her routine was looking like a diaper change, a massage, putting on pajamas, then a story, breastfeeding her on both sides (if she took it), her blessing and then bed.  The nightly blessing we read to her is the same one they use in the book:

May the Lord bless you and keep you
May the Lord shine his face on you and be gracious to you;
May the Lord lift up His countenance on you, and give you peace.

We then add “in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, Amen.”  Tell her we love her, and put her in her crib.  

Putting a baby to sleep in her crib in her own room by herself isn’t easy when she’s not used to it.  The first few nights were pretty hard.  There were even nights where she recognized the words we were saying to her, and got upset as we were saying her blessing because she knew that the next thing to happen was going to be putting her in her bed.  Luckily, that didn’t last very long.

We have been saying her nightly blessing to her for over a year now, and I have to say that it is one of the most valuable things that we do for our daughter.  Here is why this nightly tradition has come to be so important to me:

It gives the very end of the bedtime routine a sense of calm
After my daughter got over the feeling of betrayal when we’d get to the blessing just before putting her in her crib, I believe that it has become something that calms her down for bedtime.  More often than not, when we put her down, she rolls into a comfortable position and goes right to sleep.  It’s a great part of her bedtime routine because it helps create a real sense of calm in the room, which is perfect for someone who is right about to sleep.

It reminds her of the love of her Father in heaven
Above all, these are God’s promises to us, which is what makes this particular Bible verse so perfect for our nightly blessing.  We want our daughter to grow up knowing exactly how loved she is, both by us and by God.

It reminds us of God’s grace, especially when we’ve all had a bad day
Parenting is really hard, and sometimes we finish the day thinking back on the things we wish we didn’t do, or the things we wish we hadn’t said.  It’s so easy to get caught up in all of that and go to bed upset.  Doing a blessing like this one also tells us that there is the grace of God, and whatever we did that we felt was wrong is forgiven. May the Lord be gracious to you.  It helps remind all of us of God’s grace for her, and for us.

It’s something we can do as a family
At this point in time, my husband and I do bedtimes together.  Well, to be more specific, he does most of bedtime, and then I nurse her and he does the blessing.  We’re all together for when I nurse her and when we do the blessing and put her to bed.  It has come to mean a lot to me that I get to be part of the blessing as well.  I love that we can spend that time together every night as a family.

It’s something that is just for our daughter
Part of the blessing is inserting our daughter’s name into the verse.  This way, we are speaking the blessing directly to her as well as over her.  We want her to know that this is something we’re doing just for her.  We hope that as she gets older, she’ll be able to go to sleep knowing God’s love, his graciousness, and his peace.

guest post bio from AlysaLovely.com

Baby Led Weaning resources

baby led weaning resources title photo

Baby Led Weaning is the process of starting baby (around six months old) on solids. Baby leads the way, parents offer food that is an appropriate size for the baby to handle based on their development. No purees are involved (unless your family is eating soup or apple sauce). For the most part, baby eats what the family is eating. In the beginning a lot of things are modified but before long baby will be eating everything. I love that this method is stress free and requires little extra work.

Baby Led Weaning Resources

baby led weaning resources title photo

Baby Led Weaning by Gill Rapley

I read this book shortly before my son turned six months (when we started BLW). This was such an easy book to read and I loved all of the nutritional information.

Babyledweaning.com

How To Do Baby Led Weaning (And Why You’d Want To) from Mama Natural

Frequently Asked Questions on Baby Center’s Baby Led Weaning group

Baby Led Weaning 101

Little Gourmet Baby 


 

More resources on The Motherhood Journey

Have you tried baby led weaning?

How to get started with Elimination Communication: tips from an EC and Potty Training Coach

How to get started with Elimination Communication: tips from an EC and Potty Training coach

How to Get Started with Elimination Communication: Tips from an EC/ Potty Training Coach

I’m in the midst of potty training so having a friend who coaches this stuff has been a big help. Here is part two of my series on elimination communication (EC) and potty training. My first time hearing about EC was at a Bringing Baby Home class while pregnant with my son. On the last day, the teacher of the class mentioned that everybody should look into it. She explained that babies could pee and poop in the toilet from the beginning. According to our teacher, some people tried catching all pees and poops and some people did it every once in awhile. My husband and I loved the idea of not having as many diapers to wash and giving our son the opportunity to get an early start eliminating in the toilet.

Then my son was born, we didn’t know when to start holding him over the toilet to pee. But I was watching him to see if I could tell when he was pooping, I was so excited that I had that figured out. Being a new parent was overwhelming and life with a newborn was not easy so EC did not happen early on.
How to get started with Elimination Communication: tips from an EC and Potty Training coach

Today’s post is an interview with my friend Helen Martin of Born Ready LLC. I’m excited to share Helen’s knowledge of elimination communication (EC) based on her experience and training.

My first encounter with Helen was in the women’s restroom at a church conference. She came in with her two little boys and after removing the younger one’s diaper at the changing table then took him into the stall so he could pee. I was impressed; this was my first time seeing somebody doing EC. I was so excited and intrigued that I immediately told my husband.
Later, we became friends even though I was intimidated by her EC and baby wrapping skills. She became an EC/ potty training coach and announced that she was going to become a postpartum doula shortly after I had decided to become one.
I am so exctied to introduce you to Helen!
“Hi, I’m Helen! I’m an Australian living in Seattle and “mummy” to two young sons, with both of whom I practiced EC. In March of 2015 I completed certification through Go Diaper Free as an elimination communication and non-coercive potty training coach. In October of 2015 I completed a DONA postpartum doula skills workshop and am in process of NAPS postpartum doula certification. Additionally, I serve with Babywearing International of South Puget Sound as a leader in training. I can be reached at www.bornreadydoula.com or helen@bornreadydoula.com.”
According to Helen EC is a journey and looks different for everybody. “You did the best you could with the knowledge and support you had. You had an EC journey that brought you joy, deepened your sense of communication with your baby and you had some catches! That sounds like a successful, valuable EC journey to me!” This was Helen’s response when I asked her what I should have done differently in my attempt at EC.
“Going diaper free is an exciting possible perk of practicing EC, but in my mind a more attainable and sustainable goal is the communication part of elimination communication. If we focus too much on ‘success’ or catching everything we can get burnt out and discouraged.” Those are wise words, I personally think that applies to a lot of aspects of parenting.
Helen’s EC Journey
When Helen first heard about EC, before becoming a parent, she quickly dismissed it as something she would never do but when her first child was 10 months a leader at a breastfeeding support group suggested that one of the mothers potty their infant when he was popping on and off the breast. Her interest was piqued. Their family was cloth diapering at the time so the idea of reducing her cloth diaper laundry appealed to her so she decided to try EC. She had nothing to lose by trying EC because she didn’t enjoy diapering and all that it entailed. Immediately, she bought the book, EC Simplified (later republished as Go Diaper Free). “We started catching pees the next day, I realized this crazy thing actually worked and we never looked back!”
How to get started with EC
If you are interested in beginning EC (for babies under 18 months) Helen suggests offering “pottytunities” according to generic timing (times that all babies often need to eliminate).  “Some examples include immediately upon waking, before and after a feed, when they get suddenly wriggly in a baby carrier, etc.”
Helen decided to become an EC coach because a lot of people around her had heard (or not heard!) about EC but she was the first person they knew in real life who was actually doing it. “Everyone who was curious started sending their questions my way! It sort of grew from there, leading to me choosing to open a small business as an EC coach so I could provide professional help to families outside of my personal network.”
As an EC coach, Helen facilitates monthly support group meetings in the Seattle/ Tacoma area as well as moderating an online support group. She also offers group classes and private consults for ECing and EC curious families. She helps other birth professionals learn how to better support their ECing clients. Helen considers herself an ambassador and advocate for EC in a diaper dependent culture.
Top tips for Success
 “I think education and support are so important for a successful EC journey.”
1. Read a book about EC
2. Connect with a local EC educator
3. If you’re planning on ECing from birth, consider hiring a postpartum doula who is knowledgeable about EC
3. Start attending classes and/or support groups
4. Get to know ECing families in your area (if you don’t know any, find an online EC group)
5. “Fight the urge to focus on catches and success but simply aim to incorporate EC into your family’s routine to a degree that brings peace and deepens communication.”
Long term benefits of Elimination Communication
The long term benefits of EC include saving time and money by using up fewer disposables and/or creating less cloth diaper laundry, deepened infant/caregiver communication and trust, baby spends less time with their waste and pee in contact with their skin, lessened incidences of diaper rash, and complete graduation from diapers often happens earlier and easier than with conventional potty training methods.
For more EC resources, visit part one of this series.

What has been your experience with EC? What have you heard about EC?

Let me know in the comments.

Elimination Communication and Potty Training Resources

Elimination Communication and Potty Training Resources

I am in the prep stage of potty training my 19 month old son so I figured this would be the perfect time to start a series on elimination communication (EC) and potty training.

Elimination Communication and Potty Training resourcesElimination Communication

Potty Training

What resources would you add to the list?

Breastfeeding Resources

Breastfeeding Resources 

Breastfeeding resources

La Leche League:
“Our Mission is to help mothers worldwide to breastfeed through mother-to-mother support, encouragement, information, and education, and to promote a better understanding of breastfeeding as an important element in the healthy development of the baby and mother.”
La Leche League suggests attending a meeting while you are still pregnant. I didn’t make it to a meeting until my son was a couple months old but it was very helpful.

La Leche League hotline: 877-452-5324

La Leche League hotline (Spokane): 509-244-4191

The Leaky Boob
Another popular website for breastfeeding information and stories.

Books
The Nursing Mother’s Companion by Kathleen Huggins
I referenced this book in the early days while I was nursing my son in the middle of the night.

Baby Led Breastfeeding by Gil Rapley
This book is very easy and quick read. Very informative.

Classes
Unlocking the Mysteries of Breastfeeding taught by Melissa Morgan (IBCLC) at Mother’s Haven (in Coeur D’ Alene)
Hospital of birth
WIC

Lactation consultants
International Association of Lactation consultants
Nurture Normally Melissa Morgan (IBLC in Spokane, WA)

Breastfeeding helpline

The best books for 6-18 months

Best books for 6-18 months

Since becoming a mom 18 months ago, I have read only book for my own entertainment but I have read countless board books with my son, Hezekiah. He loves books and reading together has been such a special time for us. The local library is a great resource for finding new books and many of them offer story time for babies and toddlers. This list contains the books that my son loves best and that I also enjoy reading to him.

Best books for 6-18 months

 

Best Books for 6-18 months

Books featuring photos of babies

Babies love to look at books featuring photos of babies. We first started looking for these books after reading this post on Eco Novice suggesting baby face books for potty time. They were an instant hit so I looked for these books whenever we went to the library.
Baby Talk! This is our favorite and it has been great for encouraging my son’s speech.
Baby Faces by Margaret Miller This book focuses on babies faces and their emotions.

The Global Fund for Children books

We discovered each of these books at the library. I love how they show a variety of babies from all over the world.

Global Babies (also available in a bilingual Spanish edition) Each page in this book features a baby from a different country. The message is that babies all over the world are loved and bring joy.
Global Baby Girls For awhile, this was my son’s favorite book. This book follows the same format as Global Babies and has a message that little girls from all countries can change the world.
Global Baby Boys
American Babies
This book is similar to the others except that are of the babies are from the U.S. Like the other books, the babies have a variety of skin tones and are in different environments.

Animals

Animal books are very popular with children. I have had so much fun teaching Hezekiah animal sounds even though he makes one sound for most of the animals which sounds like a combination of a cow, sheep and horse.

I Would Tuck You In by Sarah Asper-Smith and Mitchell Watley I first read this book while interning for Alaska Airlines Magazine several years ago. I fell in love with this cute book. All of the animals featured in the book live in the Pacific Northwest (including Alaska).

Runaway Bunny by Margaret Wise Brown I chose this book for Hezekiah because I love JJ Heller’s “The Boat Song” which is based on this book. Lori Sutherland who teaches my Mom’s class at church described Runaway Bunny as “a beautiful story of the balance of high love and high control in mothering… And a picture of God’s love for us as expressed in Psalm 139.” I love that perspective of this classic book.

Are You My Mother? by P.D. Eastman This is a classic book that I remember from my childhood. After the baby bird is hatched, he goes on an adventure to find his mother. On the way he meets several animals.

Wherever You Are My Love will Find You by Nancy Tillman I love this book by the best selling author of On The Night You Were Born. I used to read this book to my son every night before he went to bed. It didn’t take long for me to memorize which I didn’t mind because the words are beautiful. Tillman’s illustrations are also a delight.

My Favorite Pets (Little Scholastic) This book is great for babies because it allows them to feel the animals. My son’s favorite was the dog.

Waddle! by Rufus Butler Seder I picked up this book at the thrift store before going on a road trip when Hezekiah was a few months old. This book is unique in that is uses scanimation to make each of the animals move as you turn the page. It is great for little ones who are too young for TV especially on road trips.

Woolly the Sheep (Usborne books) I have been a sheep lover for a long time (they’re so cute) and I have passed this sheep love on to my son. This is a cute (and short) book about a sheep who wanders out of his pen.


A Kissing Hand for Chester Raccoon by Audrey Penn A beautiful story of a mother showing favor and affection to her child. The mother in this book really considers her little raccoon’s feelings and helps him through a difficult situation.

Good Dog, Carl by Alexandra Day To be honest, this isn’t my favorite book but my son loves it. Some of his first words were, “good dog”. There is only one sentence on the first page and the rest are just pictures but there is a story and it forces you to be creative.

Where do I Sleep? A Pacific Northwest Lullaby By Jennifer Blomgren This is a book we checked out from the library. It was fun to read about animals that live nearby and that we have seen at the zoo.

Books that teach life skills

Books have been really helpful in teaching my son and giving him an opportunity to practice his words and signs.
Can You Say Please? This book teaches children to use phrases such as “please” and “let’s share”. My son enjoyed looking at the photos of the children.
Bye Bye Time by Elizabeth Verdick This book was very instrumental in helping my son say goodbye when I would leave him with somebody else for a couple of hours. Before leaving, I would repeat the words and actions of the book and he seemed to understand that I would be back.

Books that feature vehicles

Baby Touch and Feel Trucks This fun book features several different kinds of vehicles and has a texture for each one.

Little Blue Truck One of our favorite books about a little truck that helps a bigger truck with the help of his animal friends. This is a great book for teaching little ones animal sounds.

What is your favorite book for babies?

 

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