MDG4 [Day 488]

Have you heard of MDG4?  And no, it’s not some weird new disease that is coming from your paper towels or nylon backpack straps or whatever.  So don’t freak out.

But I’ll ask it again- have you heard of MDG4?  No?  Good, then I’m not alone.  But also not good because this is a big deal, people.  And I can’t believe I’m just now learning about it.

MDG4 stands for Millennium Development Goal 4- it’s a UN driven initiative to reduce the number of child deaths by 2/3rds by 2015.  There are actually 8 goals in all, and they were set during the UN Millennium Summit that took place in 2000.  But the one I want to dive into is Goal 4.

In 1990, about 12.6 MILLION children in the world died before their fifth birthday.  Think about that.  Fifth!  My son isn’t even two yet; I can’t imagine only having him around for three more years.  It’s unbearable even trying to think of existing without him, yet families in developing countries are actually living it.  Every day.

12.6 million.  That’s just slightly more than the entire population of Ohio.  So that would be like all of us Ohioans dying this year and leaving the state completely empty.  It baffles the mind.

It’s even more mind boggling when you see how they died- Malaria, Pneumonia, Diarrhea… all diseases that are completely preventable and treatable.  How is this possible?  Can’t something be done?  Why should these children suffer simply because their place of birth and circumstance?

The UN felt the same way and decided to do something.  To affect change.  And that’s why, in 2000, they developed the extremely attainable goal of reducing childhood deaths to 4.3 million by 2015.

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But what specifically is being done to reduce these deaths?

  • Malaria: bed nets, indoor spraying, and expansion of treatment
  • Pneumonia: pneumococcal vaccine and increasing access to antibiotic treatment
  • Diarrhea: expanding roll-out of vaccine and increase access to treatment
  • Prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV: accelerated roll-out of national PMTCT programs
  • Other diseases: scale up of various vaccines that typically cause child deaths
  • It should also be noted that proper nutrition plays an important factor in avoiding many of these diseases, and nutrition-focused efforts are also being undertaken.

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As a result of these efforts, the number of deaths dropped from that staggering 12.6 million figure to 6.55 million in 2012, which is still 2.2 million above the goal.  Further, the UN estimates they are currently on track to prevent 1.2 million child deaths in 2015, but that only takes us halfway there.

So what can YOU do?  Where do you come in?  Social Good Moms (a sister site of Mom Bloggers Club) launched a 500 day campaign with Save the Children counting down to the deadline of MDG4.  The focus is sharing the importance of the world doing more to keep more children in developing countries alive and well.  This is day 488.  Go to www.savethechildren.net/mdg500 to learn more and help spread the word.  Every voice helps.  Imagine if it was your baby… let’s help give these moms a voice.

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Celebrating 5 years

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On this day, FIVE years ago, I married my high school sweetheart. It’s hard to believe we’re already 5 years into this adventure! And what a fun adventure it has been. That’s not to say it’s all been sunshine and roses (I am not sure anything ever is), but it has on the whole been a wonderful 5 years. This is a long (and maybe rambling at times) post, so if you just want to stop here, I understand. All this below is just my way of marveling at how life turns out and reflecting on how lucky I am to have this wonderful man in my life. Happy anniversary, honey!

For those of you sticking with me, I think it’s appropriate to look back at how this union all began…

Jon and I actually knew each other in elementary school, though we didn’t share any teachers and really weren’t friends. Truth be told, I actually hung out with his sister more (she was a grade below us). Then we went to different middle schools and “re-met” at the end of 10th grade. We were friends, but not particularly close ones. Again, we didn’t share any classes and our circle of friends didn’t really overlap. So I hardly saw him much. In 11th grade, we had one elective together, and that’s when I really got to know him better. He was a nice guy, smart, pretty personable (though I thought a little shy)…but his hair! Oh my gosh did his hair bother me! It was down to his shoulders and just- bleh! It was well taken care of and everything, but my high school self couldn’t deal with that long hair (and to this day, I can’t stand long hair on men). So we were friends and we hung out over the summer a bit (he only lived a few blocks away), but we didn’t go out on any dates.

Until 12th grade.

I was chatting with friends before school, waiting for the bell to ring, when this guy walks over and says hi to me. I’m a polite person, so I said hi back. And as he was walking away I thought, “holy cow…was that Jon?? He looks so different!” And he did. He had gotten his hair cut at the end of the summer and you could actually see his face. And he was pretty cute!! Without all that hair hanging out to distract from his other features, he looked like a totally different person. I wish I could get my hands on a picture, but I can’t, so you’ll just have to take my word for it!

Anyway, he finally decided to ask me out on a date (we went to see Pirates of the Carribean), and we started hanging out more and more… and then in November we were officially dating.

When the school year ended, we were a little concerned because we had chosen different colleges. He was off to Virginia Tech. I was off to Mary Washington. We tried not to talk about it. But then the summer was drawing to a close and we decided we would stay together and make it work.

I have to admit…that first semester of college was pretty pathetic. We both actually had our own cell phones (yay!) but since we didn’t have a ton of minutes, we had to wait until after 7pm for our free nights and weekends to kick in (remember that??) before calling each other to commiserate about how much we missed each other (totally lame, I get that now. But when you’re 18 this is like end of the world stuff). We actually missed out on a lot of stuff that semester because of this (oh, I can’t go do something- we have to talk tonight!) but it taught us a valuable lesson about how important space and trust is in a relationship. We finally got to the point where we didn’t need to talk on the phone each night, and we gave each other “permission” (I don’t like this word because it has an implied meaning I don’t want associated here) to go out and have fun and enjoy ourselves a bit. We didn’t need to be tethered to our rooms and our nightly calls.

A few months into the semester, I started toying with the idea of transferring to Virginia Tech. I really didn’t know much about the academics or programs (I didn’t even apply there), so I started doing some research. And I really liked what I found. Really good business school with a whole finance department AND major (Mary Washington was too small to have majors within the business school, so I was just Business there with a finance concentration). This amazing sense of community and school pride. Fabulous career center and placement. I’d been to Tech once visiting Jon and fell in love with the campus. Before long, I had pretty much made up my mind.

But, I knew my parents would be concerned. I knew they would fight my transfer. I knew they’d be worried that I was just transferring for a boy. So I had to do some homework. I had to make my case.

The most logical next step in my mind was to actually sit in on a class. Tech is a huge school, which I think was very foreign to my parents (we have a history of small schools in my family). I thought sitting in on a class might help dispell fears that large classes meant a less effective learning environment. (To be fair, I did have this concern, too- class size being this oft cited statistic).

So I emailed one of the heads of the Business School at Virginia Tech and explained I was thinking of transferring and asked if I could sit in on one of the business classes. I would be there in October for my fall break (but Tech had classes still in session), so this would be an ideal chance. To my delight, I received a reply that I could sit in on one of the management classes that EVERY SINGLE BUSINESS STUDENT and some non-business students had to attend. I was told it was a “very large class, 700+ students, held in the auditorium” but that this was abnormal and really the only class like this…and besides, the professor was fabulous and it didn’t feel that large at all.

I’m not going to lie, I was skeptical. But you know what? They were right. The class WAS fantastic, and it didn’t really feel huge, and the professor was so open and accessible to the students that I realized something- class size is only as important as you make it. If you want a relationship with your professor, you can have it. Between office hours, study sessions, and other ways my professors reached out to their students, I never once felt like I was just one of hundreds. But I digress…

I came back from my visit pumped and ready to break the news to my parents. I had already researched the application requirements and deadlines and felt armed and ready with information. I called. And they reacted exactly how I expected. They did not want me to transfer. They thought it was a bad decision- “what if you break up?”
“Well there is a great business program there, so I’d still be getting a terrific education. And it’s a big school, I won’t have to see him.”
They still had their doubts. I told them about the research I’d done and the class I attended. I told them about why I wanted to transfer (and emphasized points that were not related to Jon). And so they said they would think about it all.

And they did. I have no idea what that conversation was like between my parents (if there was one…maybe they weren’t concerned and I just made it all up in my head). But they told me that I should do it if I really wanted. So I put in my application to transfer the following fall semester and waited anxiously for the response. When my acceptance came in I jumped for joy! As did Jon and my other friends that went to Virginia Tech.

And the next 3 years were absolutely the best of my life. I’m sure I would have had enjoyable experiences at Mary Washington, too, but I wouldn’t change that decision to transfer for anything in the world. Virginia Tech felt like home, and I still keep in touch with many of my college pals. I could spend paragraphs gushing about Tech, but I won’t (maybe I should consider that for another post)…I think I’ve derailed this enough already.

Obviously we stayed together though college. And then came jobs. Oh the hurdles never end! Fall semester of our senior year, I was offered and accepted a job in D.C. Jon hadn’t gotten his offers yet, and I couldn’t wait for him- I had to just decide. A month or so later, he got and accepted an offer in Ohio. Ugh. Well we’d make it work somehow until we could land in the same place. After all, we weren’t married (or even engaged), so no point messing with our careers until that changed- because what if it didn’t?

Well, after graduation, we went on a trip to Europe with 20-ish other graduates (also an awesome experience). And while we were in Venice, Jon proposed. Of course I said yes, and we were over the moon (as were all 20 other kids on the trip, as I’m sure you can imagine)!

But now this changed things. We had to start planning how we could collocate. Call me a prude or weird or whatever, but I didn’t really want to live together until we were married. But it seemed silly for us to both head to the same place (and somewhere we’ve never been) and live apart. As luck would have it (or not, depending on your perspective), it was a non-issue. My company wasn’t looking to fill positions in Ohio just then (though there was work there that could be a future option), and Jon’s company had nothing in D.C. And we didn’t want to give up our jobs, especially before we even started. So we agreed to do long distance again until the wedding, at which point we’d figure something out again.

Fast forward about a year. I was in D.C., Jon was in Ohio, and the wedding was coming up in a few months. I had been asking around for potential moves opportunities within my company and also revamping my resume, but so far hadn’t really gotten any bites from my company. At the end of July, I told my boss I was moving in September, and that I hoped to stay with the company, but I was moving regardless. Finally, at the beginning of August, the stars aligned and something came available in Ohio at my company. I could move and keep my job! I was thrilled! I went into the wedding un-stressed and excited.

We got married in a lovely Catholic ceremony (wedding ceremony only, not a full mass), and had a wonderful (if not whirlwind) reception. We honeymooned in the Poconos and then made our way to Ohio.

And that’s where we’ve been ever since. We’ve added a cat to the mix, and a son. I’ve changed jobs (a few times). We bought a house (and remodeled some). It has been a memorable 5 years, and I hope the next 50+ are just as crazy, fun, humorous, and exciting. But you know, I’m pretty sure they will! So- happy anniversary, honey! I love you!

Traveling for Work

The week of the 10th, I had to travel to D.C. for work. I know what some of you are thinking- “Oooh! Fun! Traveling for work sounds so glamorous!” I know because that’s what I thought before I ever had to travel. And yes, it does sound glamorous. And it can even be fun. But most of the time it’s tiring and frustrating. I travelled a few times for work before Ian was born, and I always wished that Jon could have come with me. I like to sight-see and explore, but I just kept thinking about the stuff I was seeing and doing that he would have enjoyed and that I wanted to share with him. And, inevitably, by the end of the trip, I was DEFINITELY ready to go home.

This was my first trip since Ian’s birth, so I’m pretty grateful and lucky that I haven’t had to travel before now. But that also meant that I hadn’t spent more than a day or two at a time away from him and Jon…and that made this trip ESPECIALLY hard. I tried not to cry as I hugged my boys goodbye, but I couldn’t help it once I got in the car- I cried the whole way to the airport. It’s funny because I didn’t really cry when Ian started daycare, and I went back to work (was I nervous, anxious, and heartbroken? Yes. But I knew I’d see him in a few hours and I really liked our chosen daycare.). I think it was just knowing that I wouldn’t come home in the evenings and get a smiley toddler hug and slobbery toddler kiss. That I wouldn’t be able to play Legos or cars or read books together before bed. That I would be coming home each night to an empty hotel room instead of a house full of love. And that was just a little too much to bear. And so I balled like a baby. Fortunately, the airport is 45 minutes away, so I had enough time to pull it together before anyone would see me…

The plane landed at Baltimore-Washington International Airport (BWI) in the early evening, and then I had a 40 minute drive to get to the hotel in the new National Harbor area (in Maryland, right off the Potomac- across the river from Alexandria). I stayed in a very nice hotel- the Gaylord. Nice is probably an understatement. This thing is a monolith and extremely impressive in just about every way. My room was nice- good sized bathroom, plenty of closet/storage space for my clothes, and 2 pretty comfortable queen beds (unfortunately, no king bed for me- shucks!). It also had a balcony that overlooked the central atrium of the hotel, which was a little odd (why would I want to sit or stand on my balcony and stare down at the inside of the hotel?) but also a little cool (the atrium was pretty impressive, with restaurants and shops and a fountain). I walked onto my balcony once or twice, but I can honestly say I didn’t really spend any time out there. Instead, after walking around until the sun went down each night, I horded all the pillows, snuggled in my bed, and read my Kindle (currently reading “The Goldfinch” and after a slow start, I CANNOT put it down).

My days were packed with meetings and work sessions (you know, that stuff that was the reason for my trip), but I tried to make the most of my evenings by meeting up with people I hadn’t seen in a while (I used to be a D.C.-er sort of, and have a lot of friends in the area that I hardly get the chance to see anymore). Monday night I got to meet up with a very good friend whom I hadn’t seen since Ian was born (yes, folks, that is almost 2 years!). We met in Alexandria for dinner, where, coincidentally, I also stumbled upon the freakin’ cutest baby shop I’ve ever seen in my life (called Pink and Brown)… the prices were not so cute, but I couldn’t help myself and bought a few things for Baby Boy H (my brother’s soon-to-be-here son) and Ian. On Tuesday, I met my parents for dinner. Since I was going to be there, my parents decided to take the trip up to the D.C. area for one last “vacation” before school starts in September. It was terrific to see them, and we spent the evening walking around National Harbor and my hotel’s atrium. National Harbor actually is a neat place to wander since there are a lot of restaurants and shops all right there… there is even a Peeps store (yes, you read that right- I had no idea that Peeps brand had their own store, but they do!). I met my parents again on Wednesday night. We stayed in National Harbor again, but ate somewhere different for dinner and spent time afterwards outside enjoying the beautiful weather. They went home on Thursday morning, so Thursday evening I was on my own for dinner. I walked down to this little crab cake restaurant and ordered dinner to go. It was FABULOUS. Having grown up by the water and with grandparents on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, I am a crab girl. I can eat Maryland Blue Crabs any day of the week, and I never pass up an opportunity for some great eats while I’m in the area. Finally, Friday came. I checked out of the hotel, went to a half day of meetings, and then drove to the airport so I could head home. It was absolutely lovely seeing everyone, and I’m extremely glad I had the opportunity, but I was definitely really missing my boys and was eternally grateful that it was time to pack it in.

When I finally pulled into the driveway around 5:30PM, I couldn’t wait to get inside and hug Jon and Ian. Of course, as fate would have it, my toddler that I was so anxious to see couldn’t even be bothered to get off the floor (where he was curled up watching TV/playing with toys) to say hi to me, and my husband was tucked away in the kitchen (at least he was making dinner!). So I had to ask for my hug, and my hopes of a joyful (and maybe even teary-eyed) reunion were dashed (though not completely- I was joyful and teary-eyed, even if the toddler wasn’t). If I didn’t know better, I’d think Ian didn’t miss me at all… except for the fact that when I left the room to find Jon, I heard a shriek and a patter of feet. Apparently me being back was no big deal… as long as I wasn’t leaving again. What a silly boy.

Hopefully I won’t be taking any more trips without them for a while, but some good did come of all this: 1) Jon and Ian got the chance to bond more without me around. 2) Jon gained some confidence in knowing that he could take care of Ian by himself without assistance, and, likewise, Ian gained some confidence in knowing that daddy can do everything mommy can do, too (well, maybe not EVERYTHING- but we’ll let him have this one for now). And that, right there, is almost worth every emotion I endured while I was gone (tears, apprehension, sadness)…as long as I don’t have to do it again anytime soon.

Favorite toddler snacks

My 21 month old stringbean is a grazer. A snacker. A wont-be-caught-dead-without-some-type-of-food-in-hand type of kid. He’s also a great meal eater. He likes just about everything and is always willing to at least try a food. That’s not to say we don’t have our dinner battles. For instance, the other day he wanted to eat 4,000 raisins instead of the taco we made him…which is annoying because he LIKES tacos. A lot. He just really wanted raisins. We are mean parents, so we didn’t let him eat his weight in raisins. Instead we laid down the law and told him he either ate the taco or ate nothing. He finally caved and ate taco (though he tried to do so without our noticing…the little stink!). But this type of struggle is rare, and we are extremely fortunate that he is not picky (yet).

Since he is a snacker, we like to try to keep a big variety of easy (yet relatively healthy) snacks on hand for him. Even though he’s not picky, he does have clear preferences and they change from day to day. He scans the options and is quick with a “no” and head shake when you identify a food item that he doesn’t want. Below is a list of his favorites, which we try to always keep in the house (and the diaper bag, as appropriate). As long as we have at least some of these on hand, we’re sure to (at least eventually) get a “yes!” and sometimes even a happy dance.

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1) Gogurt
We love Gogurt in my house!! Ian is a huge yogurt fan, and I love that we don’t have to worry about his shaky spoon usage (and the messes that may result). The only downside is that Ian likes to cram a LOT of the tube in his mouth, so he usually ends up a somewhat spitty a drippy. But, he’s gotten a lot better, and after he’s eaten half he gives it to me, and I cut it so it’s easier to manage. If only it already came in half-sized portions!

2) Applesauce Pouches
There are tons of applesauce pouches on the market today. When Ian was still eating baby food, I made it all myself (except in rare cases), and I bought reusable pouches for easy storage, serving, and transporting. After he was done with baby food, I still used those pouches, but I put applesauce in them (I would buy a jar and just fill the pouches myself). Then we got busier, and I got lazy, and so now I buy premade applesauce pouches. We’ve tried a lot of them, but our favorites are GoGo Squeez (which I love because of the variety!) and Motts (which I love because they are normally the cheapest and generally have the least sugar).

3) Mott’s Apple Juice Freezer Pops
These were an on-a-whim purchase when my mother-in-law was visiting. It probably took a good 2 months for Ian to really decide that he likes them…and now he REALLY likes them. When he wants a freezer pop, he will pull on the freezer handle and say “pop! pop! pop!” And when I grab it out of the freezer and cut off the top, he does a little happy dance (and sometimes a song). Then he greedily grabs it (generally with a “take kou”, aka Thank You), sucks on it, and goes “oooh, COLD!”. It’s hysterical. These pops are long enough that he usually only eats half of one at a time…so I just cut off the extra plastic, put the remaining pop in a baggie, and stick it back in the freezer. Then when he wants another one (that day, or the next day), I give him the leftover piece.

4) Kix
When Ian was a little baby, we bought him Puffs. They were like baby crack; he loved them. I’ve never seen anyone get so excited over a food in my life (well, except maybe ice cream). As Ian got older, we tried to come up with a more economical snack that would be in the same general segment as the Puffs. Enter Kix! They are small enough that the are very portable and easy for him to eat. We can just fill up a small bowl and leave it on the table and he can grab a few whenever he wants. And one box of Kix lasts a LONG time. Don’t get me wrong- Ian’s not stupid. He knows Kix are NOT Puffs. And if he sees a Puffs container (we had some in the house still because they are great for carrying small snacks), he expects Puffs to be inside and will actively seek them out. But as long as you don’t pretend the Kix are Puffs, he’s fine.

5) Fruit Snacks
These aren’t the healthiest snack we have in the house, so we try to restrict how many he gets, but man does he love them! They’re a great incentive and reward for good behavior, and they also keep him occupied for quite a while (as he attempts to fish them out of the pouch). We’re cheap, so we buy the Great Value fruit smiles. Fortunately he doesn’t seem to mind.

6) Fruit (grapes, clementines)
We try to always have fruit in the house. We prefer grapes because they are bite sized, last a while, and are easy to serve. But when there’s a good deal on clementines we buy them since Ian loves his oranges (and a bag can last at least 2 weeks). Often, Ian will even request fruit as an after dinner dessert- a major win!

7) Raisins
Another Ian favorite. As mentioned above, some days he would be content to eat nothing but raisins. The most ridiculous thing is when he grabs a handful and tries to shove it all in his mouth at once…even thought he never succeeds at getting them all in his mouth, he continues to try. At least he’s persistent, right?

8) Goldfish
Ah! Goldfish! Every kid’s favorite snack. Ian likes to eat them, smush them, play with them, feed them to us, and even drive them around in his toy cars (yes, I realize this is weird). On the plus side, he doesn’t mind if they’re stale (though I mind, as that’s almost always when he tries to feed them to me).

So there you have it! A list of our favorite snacks. And they are pretty affordable, too. What snacks do you keep around? Is your little one a snacker, too?

Liebster Award

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I am ecstatic to announce that my good friend (and fellow blogger), Dory from Doyle Dispatch, has nominated me for the Liebster Award!  I have been following Dory’s blog for a while…and she doesn’t know this, but she’s part of the reason I started blogging.  I loved the content she was putting out and seeing how she was connecting and interacting with other people and really wanted to be part of that!  So thank you, Dory, for being my introduction to the blogging world!  I have fallen in love with blogging, and I’m not sure it’s something I’d be doing otherwise.

As some background, the Liebster Award is awarded by one blogger to another as a way to help blogs with great content but lower numbers of followers get their names out there.  It’s a great way to pay it forward and help your blogging reach grow!  The award also comes with a series of questions (supplied by the nominator) for each nominee to answer.  It is really a neat idea!

So here are Dory’s questions and my answers:

1. What is your biggest frustration with other people’s grammar?

Oh gosh this is a tough one since I’m somewhat of a grammar nut.  Probably my biggest pet peeve is when people end sentences with “at” such as “Where is the car at?” It’s like nails on a chalkboard to me, and it takes all of my effort to not reply, “Between the A and the T” (a retort I learned from my parents…thanks for that, mom). For the sake of my sanity, people, just leave off the “at”- you don’t need it!!

2. Germophobe or germophile?

I certainly would NOT classify myself as a germophobe, but I’m not sure I’m a full on germophile.  I don’t use hand sanitizer (don’t like it), and I don’t bathe my son every night.  But I also cringe when he tries to gnaw on the shopping cart or the edge of a restaurant table.  I am a bit more lax at home (“You dropped a grape? That’s ok… I’ll just pick off the dog hair, and viola!  Good as new!”) than I am when we’re out (“You dropped a grape? That’s ok- I’ll get you a new one.”), but that said- there’s a lot I let slide in all situations. I think it’s safe to say that I’m OK with a little bit of dirt, grime, and germs (hey, he’s a kid, and he’s in daycare, so it’s almost a losing battle), but I’m not going to sit by while he attempts to eat off the floor of a restaurant.

3. Glue gun or sewing?

Depends on whether I have procrastinated!  I always prefer sewing, but I don’t always get my projects in order with sufficient forethought and planning…so things that would ideally be sewn are sometimes pinned or stapled or taped or yes, even glued with the glue gun.  I am proud to say, however, that Ian’s halloween costume last year was sewn, and so was everything I made for his nursery!

4. What was your favorite grade in school and why?

I’m assuming you don’t mean college?  Because, if that’s an option, then I’d go with that, hands down!  Otherwise…probably 8th grade.  I absolutely LOVED middle school (yeah, I realize that’s abnormal), and in 8th grade you are at the top of the food chain and it’s your chance to rule the school before entering the big, bad world of high school.

5. If you could do anything other than your current job, what would it be?

I’d love to write for a living.  I’ve always wanted to write a novel or book, but I’d also be happy just blogging or contributing content to other sites, magazines, etc.  Writing is so relaxing for me, and it’s something that you can do whenever- I love that freedom.

6. If money were no object, where would you live?

If you asked me this before Ian was born, I’d probably say something “cool” like Europe.  But, after having Ian, I have a strong desire to be close to family.  So if money were no object, I’d live wherever I had to in order to be closer to my parents, my in-laws, and my siblings.  Right now that’s Virginia Beach, and that’d be just fine with me!

7. Describe your dream house.

Something with a HUGE kitchen.  In our current house, our kitchen isn’t tiny, but it’s also not overly large.  I find myself constantly needing and wishing for more counter space.  So I’ve always said that when we move into our forever home, it needs to have a monster kitchen.  I’d also love to have at least 2 acres.  We have a little over a half acre now, and I can’t imagine living anywhere with a smaller lot… I absolutely LOVE having a backyard with enough space for us to live and Ian to be a kid.  The only other must-have is a 3 car garage and a separate detached garage.  My husband has a car building hobby, so I’d love to have a place for him to keep his project car and tools that doesn’t interfere with my ability to keep my car in the garage year round!

8. What is one thing on Pinterest that you would absolutely love to make/own/do?

I’m a pinterest-addict.  I pin so much stuff, and I think I only act on 1% of those pins.  It’s terrible.  My boards are overflowing with stuff I’d love to do, so it’s impossible to pick just one thing.

9. Where is your favorite local place to shop?

I don’t know if this counts since it’s not really shopping (we don’t do a ton of shopping anyway), but we have a favorite local place to eat! It’s called Aladdin’s and has amazing Mediterranean food. The atmosphere is relaxed and the service is great. The whole family (even Ian) loves to go there.

10. What is your worst habit?

I don’t know if it’s my worst, but one that really annoys me that I just can’t seem to kick is biting my nails.  If I’m watching a movie or reading a great book, I tend to gnaw on my nails.  The only thing that helps is if they are painted- but I hardly ever have them painted, so I inevitably end up with jagged or uneven nails.

11. What book, TV,  or movie character fits you to a T?

Wow…this is hard. I’m not sure I’ve ever read a book or watched a movie where I thought, “hey! That is so me!” So I guess I haven’t found her yet, or I’m deluded? LOL

 

Now I’m passing it on and paying it forward.  Here are my nominees:

Just a Touch of Crazy

The Little Things 

Blue Giraffes and Concrete Jungles

They Call me Pelley

How to Make the Sun Shine

 

And here are my questions:

1. What’s your favorite food and why?

2. What’s the last book you read, and would you recommend it?

3. Cat person or dog person?

4. Dodgeball or 4-Square?

5. If you could remodel any room in your house/apartment/etc which would you remodel and how?

6. Do you read the book before watching the movie?

7. Biggest driving pet peeve?

8. If you were granted one wish, what would you request?

9. What’s your funniest joke?

10. What’s one thing that surprised you (pleasantly or unpleasantly) about parenthood?  What have you learned from it?

11. What’s something you want other bloggers/readers to know about you/your blog?

 

I hope you all accept your nominations and keep the Liebster Award going!  I can’t wait to see your posts, read your answers to my questions, and check out the blogs you nominate!  Once your post goes live, I’d love it if you’d copy the link into the comments here!

Congrats to the new Liebster Award recipients! Thank you, Dory, for passing it on to me!

Night Feeds…and How We Stopped

A week or so ago, for World Breastfeeding Week, I posted my breastfeeding story.  I mentioned in that post that when we decided to night wean, Ian decided to stop nursing completely, and I continued pumping for a month before stopping all together and switching to formula.

I got a few questions asking how exactly we went about night weaning.  So, here it is- my story about Ian’s sleep habits, our attempts to stop night time feeds, and our eventual success.  It may not be a model you want to follow, but it is honest and real, and sometimes that’s just as useful.

When Ian was an infant, he was a great nurser and napper.  He would nurse on demand every few hours, eat for a solid 30 minutes plus each time, and nap every few hours.  Demand feeding was great for us, and it led to some really sound stints of sleeping.  Actually, we were shocked when at 8 weeks, Ian slept through the night for the first time.  And we were even more shocked when that lasted for 2 weeks!  He got his fill before bed (sometime around 8pm), and didn’t rouse to eat again until 7 or 8am.  We were amazed. 

But then things changed.  I had to go back to work, Ian had to start daycare, and demand feeding had to come to an end.  We still demand fed at night, but during the day, he was on more of a schedule for feeding.  I’m not sure if he got annoyed about the schedule, or if having a schedule meant that he ate less during the day, or if it was just a total coincidence…but the same week Ian started daycare, he stopped sleeping through the night.

We were bummed, but not all that surprised.  After all, we’d never dreamed or imagined our 10 week old baby would sleep soundly all night long.  And we didn’t know anyone else who had a baby this age sleeping all night.  So we sucked it up and dealt with the fact that he woke twice a night to eat.

Somewhere around 5 or 6 months, things changed again.  Instead of waking at midnight and 4am, Ian was waking just once- at about 2:30am.  This was a welcome change!  It meant two good sleeping periods, and so I was slightly less dead the next day at work. 

At about 8 months, Jon started to express frustration that Ian wasn’t sleeping through the night.  He raised the issue to the pediatrician, who wasn’t too concerned, but did indicate that Ian probably should be sleeping through the night soon.  [I want to take this opportunity to note that I think the “sleeping through the night” term used by doctors is a total misnomer… their definition is midnight to 5am. I have NO IDEA who ever thought that was “through the night”, and that person should be smacked.  That’s not my definition of sleeping through the night…I am talking an actual full night- going to sleep at bedtime and staying  asleep until it was time to get up in the morning]

Anyway, Jon was really stuck on the fact that Ian was waking up once and encouraged me to try to avoid feeding him in the middle of the night.  HA.  Way easier said than done.  His recommendation was to attempt to let him cry (uh, that didn’t work) or else go in there and reassure him without offering to nurse (again, that failed).  Since I was the one getting up and tending to Ian (since I was nursing and we didn’t use our pumped milk overnight- we saved it for daycare), I was a little less apt to try weaning; it was faster to just feed him for 5 minutes and crawl back into bed than to battle it out for 30 minutes or more.  However, I was ready to have him sleep all night…especially since I strongly suspected he wasn’t hungry when he woke up (a conclusion I formed after 2 or more weeks of night nursing lasting less than 5 minutes; I had a feeling he was just waking and nursing out of habit).

After a week or more of trying, and failing, to avoid nursing at night, I snapped at my husband one morning- “IF HE CRIES TONIGHT, YOU ARE GOING IN THERE!”  Surprised, but not willing to provoke the beast further, Jon agreed.

That night, as expected, Ian woke up around 2:30am.  I rolled over, poked Jon, and made him get out of bed and take care of Ian.  He grunted and groaned, but eventually slithered out of bed and plodded across the hall into Ian’s room.  I’m not really sure what he did when he got in there (if he picked him up or just rubbed his back until he fell back asleep or something else completely), but within 10 minutes, Ian was done crying and was sound asleep.  We waited for him to wake again, but he didn’t.  He slept until it was time to get up the next morning.

And the next night, he didn’t wake up once.  He slept all night long- the real “sleeping through the night” that we had been hoping to achieve.  And this repeated the next night.  And the next.  Somehow, miraculously, we had done it… Ian had done it.  And just like that, he was a 12 hour sleeper in time for his 9 month birthday.

As a disclaimer, I’m sure there were a lot of factors at play here.  For one, Ian had to be developmentally ready for this milestone.  He may have been ready for as much as a month or two.  Or maybe our timing was just PERFECT and he was only more recently ready.  We’ll never really know.  For another, I have no doubt that sending Jon into Ian’s bedroom that night was crucial.  Ian was so used to having me come into the room, grab him, plop down in the chair, and start nursing, that Jon must have been a slightly confusing disruption.  Something different enough to signify that things were changing; that nursing at night was over.  Because I’ll never really know what exactly clicked and resulted in a successful night weaning, I don’t want to mislead anyone… all kids are different, and our experience and situation is probably totally unique and different.  If you’ve been attempting to night wean for a while- take heart!  When your kid is ready, it will happen.  And I send all my well wishes and encouragement your way… this parenting thing is tough!

I also want to add that all this had the unintended side-effect of ending our nursing relationship completely.  The day after Jon tended to Ian at night, I couldn’t get Ian to nurse, period.  He wanted nothing to do with nursing.  He still wanted breastmilk, but he didn’t want it from me.  He was perfectly happy to get it from his bottle (I’m not going to lie- this hurt a little…it’s quite an odd and crushing experience to have your baby refuse you in this way).  Whether Ian was just being petulant initially or whether he truly was done with nursing, I’m not sure.  But regardless, he never nursed again.  Now I don’t want to insinuate that this will be typical of everyone who night weans.  I just want to share this piece of information in case it happens to anyone else- I don’t want you to be surprised, as I was, at this turn of events.  It can be surprisingly hard to endure, especially if you aren’t expecting it.

Unplugging to really connect

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This scene from “The Big Bang Theory” is so relevant to life today

I was at the park last week with Ian and was shocked to see how many parents were glued to their phones. Faces down, brows furrowed, eyes tracking side to side. Meanwhile kids hoot happily and sprint around the playground. Until someone cries- at which point the parent reluctantly pulls him/herself off the park bench and away from the phone to attend to the child. (For the record: this is not unique to parents. I’ve seen all manner of folks exhibit this same behavior, such as folks out to dinner glued to their phones for the duration of the meal.)

I’m all for technology. I have a smart phone, and I certainly do my share of internet surfing. But when we’re out and about, and Ian wants to play with our involvement, I leave the phone stowed.

Now, to be clear, I’m not talking about the parent who is taking pictures with the phone. Or the parent who gets an important phone call or text message or email. I’m talking about this phenomenon where we can’t bare to look away from the screen. We’ve gotten so used to using the phone as a time waster and boredom solver that we don’t even think about what we’re doing. We don’t consider what this behavior might be telling our children.

And I have thought about this a lot. What does this tell our children? Maybe it tells them that our phones are more interesting and important than they are. Maybe it tells them that it’s OK to shut out the outside world. That it’s OK to not want to make eye contact or say hello to others. Maybe it tells them that we are only interested in connecting and interacting with them on our own schedule. Maybe it tells them we don’t prioritize their desires and needs.

Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately??), Ian is just starting to talk, so he can’t tell me the impact these things might have on him. How he perceives an almost obsessive screen time love affair. If he notices or cares.

But I do know this. I’ve been trying to be more conscious of my phone usage at home (since I’m already hyperaware when we are out) and really limit it when he’s around and actively trying to engage with me (do I need to read that stupid buzzfeed list?). And I’ve noticed a change in behavior when I put the phone down. When I look at him and ask what he’s doing or what he’s playing. When I get down on the floor and play with him. Or just watch interestedly when he shows me something. He smiles more. He is better behaved.

I don’t think that’s a coincidence. And I don’t think this is too much for me to ask of myself- for him to ask of me.

Obviously we can’t (and shouldn’t) cater to our childrens’ every wish, and independent play is definitely a good thing. But in my humble opinion, there is just something so good, so fulfilling, in putting the phone down and enjoying our kids. That crap on the internet will be there forever. These days with our kids are fleeting…let’s embrace every minute!