Thursday, November 20, 2014

Know when it's time for #baby to CRY IT OUT (+ tips for surviving the painful experience)

Babies. They melt a mama's heart with goo-goos and sweet smiles, but they have a powerful ability to produce confusion and self-doubt in us too. Babies cannot tell us what they need with words, so we are in a constant guessing game. And once we have it figured out, thrilled with our new-found ability to decipher the tone of each little cry, a baby will totally switch it up. Growth spurt. Teething. An sudden decision to push away a spoon if it comes too near the lips. Waking in the night, even if once a solid sleeper.

For me, the night thing triggered more self-doubt than any other. What was I doing wrong? Why do my friends' babies sleep? Why is my 9-month old baby not sleeping through the night? Should I know when it's time to "cry it out"?

It came to a point where I was exhausted and depressed and totally beating myself up because my baby was not sleeping through the night. I was doing something very wrong. Or so I thought.

It turns out, it wasn't so much my own failure after all. I was simply being a good student; my baby had me expertly trained. He was waking in the night as all people do, but he was calling for me instead of soothing himself. He was standing up and shaking the crib rails. And I magically appeared, every time. I talked to him and fed him and held him. When I put him down after he'd been asleep in my arms, he woke and cried. So I held him some more until he finally stayed asleep from pure exhaustion. Two hours, sometimes even three hours had passed.

Eventually, he began to greet me with a huge smile and silly babbles when I entered the room sometime between 11:00pm and 1:30am. He was happy to see me.

So now I think I understand the tricks he was playing on me. Is yours training you too?

How to know when it is time for baby to "cry it out"

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Thanksgiving for the picky eater

One of my most favorite Thanksgiving memories was from my daughter, then four-years old. We were at my sister's house with extended family and we had just begun to devour our over-filled plates of Thanksgiving staples. We mmm'd and ahhh'd over the moist turkey, the sweet and crunchy sweet potato casserole with candied pecan topping, and the only stuffing that I have ever known, a homemade family recipe passed down for a few generations.

As we were chewing and complimenting the various chefs, Amelia stopped eating. She put her hands in her lap and declared loudly, "this is yucky!".

We stopped chewing and looked her way, then giggled. Who could ever think Thanksgiving goodness is yucky? A classic picky eater, that's who.

My child is still a picky eater at age 6 1/2. In fact, she has already reminded me that she does not like Thanksgiving food which means we already have a negative association to address. I think we need to launch our mission to change her mind. She will not be having her own personal plate of chicken nuggets! She will eat from the bountiful holiday table with the rest of us. I hold out hope that she will change her mind on a few tastes independently, but I am also willing to allow minor adjustments as well.

My rule is usually that she eats what we eat (unless we are having something extraordinarily grown-up or spicy), but I will modify a recipe in the process of cooking if it takes little effort. Thanksgiving foods can be easily modified, or have a little scoop of this and that set aside, so I think we can find a win this year.

Getting a picky eater through a Thanksgiving meal

  •  Limit snacks - A child who has been allowed to graze on snacks all day "because it is a holiday" is a child who will not be hungry come mealtime. If you know when the meal will be served, cut off any snacks at least 1 1/2 hours prior. Your picky eater will be more likely to consume what is on their plate if his/her belly is hungry.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Holiday shopping gift cards #giveaway!

Merry almost-Thanksgiving!
Each year around Christmas and Mother's Day, I try to find a great blogger giveaway to share with you. For the next couple weeks, you have a chance to win this one - with three fantastic Amazon gift cards and The Pocket Sous Chef prizes!
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It's the most wonderful time of the year! For so many reasons... and a time where we can all go shopping without guilt in the name of "holiday spirit"!  The number one thing about the holidays in most people's mind is their family (even those family members that drive you crazy; you enjoy them that much more).
If you are anything like me, you wait until there are awesome  coupons, discounts and deals... so many holiday savings. We know that there are many last minute shoppers so hurry over and check out all the savings and get all those gifts for the family that you love! No need to wait for Black Friday or Cyber Monday, just check out the coupons and deals on Your Life After 25's coupons & discounts page. Not only are we spreading the word about all of those amazing deals we are also giving you the chance to Win: Your Life After 25 Holiday Savings and Coupon Giveaway!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Smart selections during open enrollment

This is a sponsored post via United Healthcare. All opinions are 100% my own.
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Before you click away from what may seem a zzzzzz of a post, hang on a second. Health insurance may not be the most glamorous of topics, but making the right choices for your family can be a hefty task - and one that shouldn't be breezed over too quickly come open enrollment time. It is too important!

Also, did you know that you could be leaving money on the table? Almost 87% of health insurance applicants were eligible for discounts last year, and many are not aware of the money they could save. United Healthcare has very in-depth information and short easy-to-understand videos to get us all informed and help us to make the best decisions when it is time to enroll.

My family is quite healthy, but we spent a couple years trying to figure out Amelia's strabismus issue (via three eye muscle surgeries), which forced us to look closer at the health insurance selections each year. We had to choose wisely in the event she needed another surgery. And more recently, I had a pregnancy in one calendar year and baby's birth in January the following calendar year, so we had to look at various plans with that in mind. Currently, we have no imminent surgeries or major procedures planned, so we need to look at our health plan from a maintenance perspective and protection from any catastrophic events. We can't just check the same box on a form year after year if we want to ensure a smart and economical selection.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

When Snowjam strikes #BePrepared

Most of the country laughed at Atlanta last year when Snowjam 2014 struck and stranded us all over highways and side roads for 9, 10, even 12 hours. It was no laughing matter; it was frightening for thousands of families.

The wrong combination of things simply hit at the same time last year - warnings not being taken seriously, school not being cancelled, parents commuting to work all over the city, the weather intensifying very quickly, and millions of people commuting home at the exact same time as roads grew whiter and more treacherous by the minute. Semi trucks blocked every lane of interstates and car tires spun and spun with no movement on the smallest of inclines.

Despite being separated, my family was safe and warm that evening, thanks to my parents picking Amelia up from school a mere 10 minutes early and two-day old baby Andrew having Steve and I at the hospital. When winter halted metro Atlanta, I had a brand new baby boy.

Atlantans were stranded all over various streets and highways for hours. Many managed to pick up their children from schools but could not get home. Imagine this: A two-year-old in a car for ten hours, NO snacks, no water, no toilet, and a very stressed-out mom who cannot get in touch with her husband and whose own cell phone battery is minutes from dying. Or a young family with a 9-month old infant and NO bottles, or food, or even heavy coats because they were going right home.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Crowdsourcing: Design ideas for our boring basement?

How many times have you wished you could be on an HGTV show? So many for me, especially when I venture into our basement.

I have actually met David Bromstad (that smile is contagious!) but, alas, I was not allowed to bring him home.

My husband and I bought a new home about a year and a half ago and were quite pleased that a large portion of the basement was already finished with walls, carpet, cable hook-ups, and lighting. The prior owners used it as a movie theater space. We don't really watch TV down there, so it has become a catch-all space for any old furniture (the striped couches that don't match anything are from my single apartment days), plus the Wii game system area, plus a huge indoor "field" for raucous play when the weather is bad.

The space is a very long rectangle with no definition. You go down the stairs, turn right, and almost the entire length of the house is one brown and beige "bowling alley" space. The TV/Wii area is at the end and the empty space for beach ball soccer, Baggo-style games, and spreading MegaBloks is at the end closest to the stairs. The bathroom is finished well and is to the left of the stairs - it's the nicest space down there!

Part of me loves the big empty space for active play when we cannot go outdoors. The other part of me can't stand the complete lack of definition.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Observations from U5 and U6 rec #soccer

Our daughter just completed her fourth rec soccer season. It has been a lesson in patience many times, but also an enjoyable learning experience.

Now at the U8 level for her second season, we are finally seeing a real understanding of the game. Why and when to pass, how to protect your goal as a defender, how to play goalie, and the most critical concepts of offense and defense, for example. She attended a 5-day British Soccer Camp this summer which really honed her skills that she took to the field this fall. It has been fun to cheer her team on during Saturday games because they are finally real games!

But I do admit, the early seasons were quite entertaining.  

Are you thinking of soccer for your little kids? 
Here is a recap of the fun (and giggles) you will likely experience  at the early levels...

Amelia began when she was just about to turn five. 
U5 = Under age 5 & U6 = Under age 6. 

(1) Understanding body parts -- "No hands!" will be an overused phrase. I don't know how many times a U5 kid saw a ball coming near, and just bent down to pick it up. This, of course, was often followed by a proud glance to the sidelines. "Mom! I got the ball!"


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