Fighting in Front of the Kids

Do you fight in front of your kids?

Before we even had kids, Josh and I talked a lot about how we grew up and how we want to raise our kids. One of the issues we talked about before we had kids was actually about whether or not fighting in front of the kids was okay or healthy.I think we can all agree that aggressive, volatile, or physical fighting is always negative. However, I think whether or not healthy arguments in front of kids is okay is still up for debate and depends on each family. So here’s how we look at it, and what we decided was best for our family.

People argue and disagree, even people who love each other very much. It’s just a fact of life. To never disagree would mean that one of you was totally suppressing your feelings and just being a doormat. Nobody wants or respects that. But there’s a big difference between healthy fighting and unhealthy fighting. And I do think it’s important that kids learn to understand the difference. One of the best ways for them to understand that is to witness it. For example, Josh and I will have disagreements and debates in front of the kids. But any big issues, arguments, or heated discussions, and any that involve something related to the kids, we really try and do after the kids are in bed. At least while they are young. I’ve actually noticed that Maddox understands and can comprehend whenever Josh and I are having an argument or disagreement. There have been times when Maddox interrupted us and said “Guys take turns!” And I admit at first this shocked us and made both Josh and me step back and talk about whether or not this was good. But we ultimately decided that this was a healthy thing. We don’t want the kids growing up thinking that healthy relationships mean there’s no disagreeing or arguing. People who love and respect each other can still disagree. I think that to never show this side of a relationship would portray a fairytale that isn’t real or obtainable. I don’t want them growing up thinking that people don’t fight, but I want them to learn how to argue with respect. That means no name calling, no belittling, no violent words or actions. They need to know the healthy boundaries of how to argue.

So we do our best to demonstrate healthy discussions/arguments. And while there will definitely be times that we will slip up and have an argument in front of the kids that we should probably have kept to ourselves- we are only human. And whether or not you choose to hash everything out in front of the kids or behind closed doors is totally up to you and your family. But this is just the decision that we’ve come to for our family.

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Marlow’s First Birthday: The Non-Pinterest Party

Marlow’s 1st Birthday: The Non-Pinterest Party
Sometimes I feel the pressure to make things “photo worthy.” You see all these adorable kids parties and think ” I can totally do that!” I have about a million party ideas pinned on my Pinterest page. I have entire boards dedicated to DIY decorations that fit the perfect beautiful party theme! And I would LOVE to be able to say I’m featuring some crazy cool handmade, one-of-a-kind party decor for Marlow’s first birthday.. but that is just not the case! Ain’t nobody got time for that! 😂 And the party was absolutely perfect and turned exactly how I would have hoped!

Instead I took the easy way out! I hit up the dollar area at Target and stocked up on some adorable birthday decorations! They had an entire section of pastel, polka dot themes party decor that was PERFECT! They had banners, signs, balloons, and tiny party hats. I also grabbed a few things for goodie bags. Each bag had fruit snacks, a glow stick, a kazoo, bubbles, a bag of Pure Growth Organics popcorn, and these adorable handmade bows from Ivy & Simone!

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Becoming a Stay at Home Mom

FullSizeRenderI never thought (or if I’m honest, even desired) to be a stay at home mom.

Growing up I always thought of myself as a an independent, take-charge, feminist, ready to stand up to any man and take on any challenge! I wanted to break glass ceilings and shatter stereotypes. All the women in my family worked full-time outside the home, and as far as I knew, they always had. (I didn’t realize at the time they had almost all stayed home when their kids were little.) So I just assumed that I would have a full-time job as well. Even when I got pregnant with my son, Maddox, I fully planned to return to teaching after a short maternity leave.

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One Big Happy Wonderland!

My family has always loved Christmas! A time to give, love and celebrate family. One of my favorite Christmas memories, although it drove me crazy at the time, was from Christmas morning when my mom would make the entire family wait on the stairs while she took a family photo before we could go down and start opening presents. As a kid, I swore it took her 3 1/2 hours to take the picture! It was like she was torturing us! Haha! But the waiting and anticipation somehow made the present opening even more exciting!
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A few years ago my mom started a new tradition of matching family pajamas! At the time, once again, I thought she was crazy. Then, when I had my own kids, I totally understood and I’ve carried on the tradition with my own family. Every year we pick a new set of fun holiday pajamas. Even though Josh whines every year, I KNOW he secretly loves his pajamas! This year I let Maddox help me pick our matching pajamas and he chose these adorable holiday bear pjs from Gymboree! For 10 days, from December 1 – December 10, across stores nationwide, Gymboree is helping customers add wonder to the season by gifting them with a holiday memory in the making. When customers visit the store, they’ll give them a scratcher at checkout. The scratcher might inspire family game night with a Mattel Prize Pack of Uno, Apples to Apples and Pictionary plus $50 to for Gymmies to outfit the evening! Or perhaps, a gift basket of Mrs. Fields Cookies – sweet treats for Santa! Or, a mid-holiday shopping trip treat with a Free Auntie Anne’s Classic Pretzel. Two lucky customers will be treated to their next holiday vacation, with a Club Med all-inclusive family vacation. Every scratcher will reveal a special surprise, One Big Happy Wonderland!
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What are some of your favorite or most memorable family traditions? Every year we add new ones. Be sure to visit a Gymboree store near you (between 12/1/16 – 12/10/16) to outfit your favorite holiday moments and pick up a scratcher for a chance to add more wonder to the season!
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First Trip to the ER

Once again, I’ve killed all my plants…

So Marlow and Maddox were both sick the past few weeks. We went to Marlow’s one-month checkup, expecting an easy visit, only to find out she had a fever. She was eating and sleeping just fine and acting totally normal. I was shocked. Then we were sent straight to the ER. Marlow was catheterized, had a spinal tap and blood drawn. Scared me to death, but unfortunately that’s all apparently standard when a 6 week-old gets a fever. Finally, we found out she had a UTI. She had no other symptoms, and doctors said luckily, thanks to finding it at a scheduled checkup, we caught it early. However, not knowing what was going on, seeing Marlow get poked and prodded, and staying in the hospital for 2 days was not fun. It was terrifying, heartbreaking, and traumatizing at times. To be honest, at one point I had convinced myself something was seriously wrong. I was expecting the worst! The fact that Marlow was so young made it all so scary, but to add to that, this was our first ever kid ER visit.

To make things more complicated, and of course scarier, when they were doing Marlow’s spinal tap they hit a blood vessel, which put some blood in her spinal fluid, so they had to do a brain ultrasound to make sure there wasn’t bleeding in her brain leaking to the spinal fluid. That took 30 minutes and it was the longest 30 minutes of my life. I was convinced they found something horribly wrong, and I almost passed out I was so stressed. When the doctor came to read the results from the brain ultrasound and told us everything was fine, I was so happy and relieved I literally burst into tears. It was only a UTI, which is easily treated by antibiotics, and we were headed home 2 days later. I am beyond thankful that it wasn’t something more serious!

Once we got home and just as I was starting to relax, Maddox got sick with some sort of virus. My stress level flew through the roof again, worrying about Maddox and about Marlow getting his virus.  When kids are sick you drop everything and focus on them. So to all those parents out there who have or have had a sick kid… My heart seriously goes out to you! Stay strong and tell the rest of us how to help you. Seeing your child sick or in pain is beyond anything I ever imagined.

So needless to say… I’ve once again killed my plants… I can’t totally blame the circumstances because well… I kill plants all the time. But this time I feel like I at least had a legit reason for neglecting my plants.

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Maddox’s Birth Story

With Marlow’s arrival getting closer and closer, many people have asked about Maddox’s delivery. Like most people, I remember it as a complete whirlwind, but here’s what I remember!

Maddox was born at 1:42 am on September 26, 2013. His due date was September 21st . That Tuesday, the 24th I went into my doctor’s office, concerned I hadn’t felt Maddox move all day. After an ultrasound and fetal heart check they determined everything was fine but he was basically out of room. Under the doctor’s advice (not my midwife) we checked into Northside Hospital that night to try to start the delivery process. Around 9pm I was given Cervidil to soften my cervix, because I wasn’t dilated or contracting (Maddox clearly wasn’t ready to make his entrance!) That night in the hospital was the worst. I couldn’t get comfortable, the nurses came to check on me every few hours, and I hardly slept at all (if any).

By the next morning, I had started to dilate and was having small, consistent contractions. My original goal had been to have a natural, drug-free delivery. After discussing everything with my midwife, we decided against Pitocin and instead to do everything possible to increase contractions naturally. This included constant walking/movement, lying in certain positions, sitting on an exercise ball, and other medical but non-drug alternatives. (Feel free to ask questions if you want more specifics).

Luckily, all our efforts worked and I progressed slowly throughout the day! Unfortunately, due to all our efforts, lack of sleep, and intense back labor I was exhausted! I tried different positions, taking a hot shower, laying in the bathtub, and various breathing/massage techniques to cope. But eventually I decided to change my original drug-free plan and get a “walking epidural.” That was the best decision for me! It allowed me to sleep for about 3 hours. When I woke up I felt rested, but by that time I was in full-blown labor! The epidural had worn off, and I had the intense urge to push! Around 11pm I couldn’t take the back labor anymore, and I told the nurse to call in my midwife. The labor pain was unlike anything I ever expected. I had expected labor pain to be intense contractions around my stomach/diaphragm that would come and go, but that wasn’t the case at all. All my pain was concentrated in my back. It was intense, constant shooting pain and pressure that felt like I was being ripped open from the inside out. There was never any relief or moments to catch my breath as I had assumed I would have in between contractions.

When my midwife came in around 11:30, I started to push. Maddox hadn’t progressed far enough down, and I still wasn’t completely dilated yet, but the uncontrollable urge to push took over. With my mom and Josh each holding a leg, I started pushing (against my midwife’s advice to wait a little longer). After over two hours of actual pushing, repeating many times “This isn’t going to happen… He’s stuck… This isn’t working… and… I can’t do this” they finally saw the top of Maddox’s head! At that point I leaned back on the bed and said “SO PULL HIM OUT! GRAB HIS HEAD AND JUST PULL HIM OUT!” I’m pretty sure everyone in the room laughed as my midwife explained that it wouldn’t work like that…I wasn’t done. Soon after they convinced me to keep pushing, and a few minutes later Maddox was born! He came out calm and serene with eyes wide open! He didn’t make a sound (which scared the hell out of me) and I swear he looked right at us! Maddox weighted 9lbs 1.2oz and was 21in long. He also had a head full of fiery red hair!

We were very lucky, having had no complications, and Maddox’s heart rate stayed steady and calm through the entire delivery! The pain was unlike anything I ever imagined, but I had an overall feeling of surreal calmness throughout the delivery. I was surrounded by extremely supportive, loving family, had an incredible midwife and I couldn’t have done it without them! Did I follow my original “birth plan”? Not exactly. Do I wish I had gotten an epidural for the actual delivery? Maybe a little, but I’m happy with all the decisions I made at the time! Mostly importantly, I’m glad Maddox was happy and healthy!

So my birth advice. Make a birth plan if you like, but don’t be disappointed if things don’t go according to plan. Listen to your midwife/doctor. Accept support from those around you. And look forward to your own happy outcome! Every birth is different, so we’ll see how it all goes with Marlow!

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“It’s a girl!” and I almost cried.

So I have to admit… when I initially found out we were having a girl my chest tightened, and I almost cried. After we left the ultrasound we went straight to Target, and as we were walking around the baby girls clothes section, I almost broke down in tears. I was surrounded by all the super girly things I hate… bright pink, huge bows, ruffles, and princess everything!

It seemed like it was about the clothes, but I knew it actually wasn’t. When I found out we were having a girl, I immediately felt an enormous amount of pressure! Pressure to make her confident, self-sufficient, independent, and strong. Pressure to make her comfortable with who she is. Pressure to make her stand up for herself! Pressure to make her stand up to boys. Pressure to make her happy. I don’t know why, but these were things that didn’t cross my mind when I had Maddox.

It’s always the joke that the women in my family are all stubborn, strong-willed, independent, and self-sufficient. We stand up for ourselves, we can change our own tires, we all have our own tools and can build/put together things we need. I instantly knew this was how I wanted Marlow to be, but I hadn’t the slightest idea how to do it. That pressure to help her become a strong woman was overwhelming. I saw all these uber feminine clothes and princess items as things that would prevent me from raising Marlow the way I wanted to. I have no idea why these things symbolized weakness at that moment because there’s nothing wrong with any of it, but it did. I mean hell, my mom loved everything pink and frilly as a child, but she grew up to be a dominant, strong-willed, hard working, feminist, lesbian! Haha ;-P

Josh could tell I was upset! He looked right at me, showing no sympathy, and said “Kira, this is our kid! We don’t have to do any of that stuff!” And that was all I needed to hear! It all clicked. This is my baby girl! I can raise her the way I want to! Then, of course, I started crying tears of excitement (and a little guilt that I had been so disappointed at first). So I have no idea what kind of woman Marlow Marie will become or if she’ll like pink, frilly dresses, want to wear all Nike, or a combination of both. However, I realize none of that matters. My focus will be on the type of person she becomes. While there are certain traits I hope she has, if she doesn’t, that’s ok too. She’s my baby girl, I’ll love her no matter what, and I’ll do everything I can to help guide her into the person she’s meant to be.

When I realized it wasn’t about the clothes, it was about the pressure I felt to raise a strong woman, I had lots of fun shopping for “girly” things! ;-P

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Breastfeeding: So simple, right?!

Just a warning-this post is about BOOBS! (And not in a fun way) But more specifically about breastfeeding.

First I have to admit, I honestly thought breastfeeding would be easy. I naively assumed I just whip it out, Maddox would begin nursing and we’d have this kumbaya bonding moment. There’d be no struggles, no real learning how, and especially no pain. Wow was I wrong! While Maddox naturally knew exactly what to do, I on the other hand was the idiot. Even though my mom had nursed all 3 of us for years, I clearly had not asked her enough questions. Josh and I even took a couples’ breastfeeding class while I was pregnant but even then no one came out and said “BREASTFEEDING MAY BE HARD and IT MAY HURT!”

There are many reasons that some women aren’t able to breastfeed. Luckily, I had no medical issues or concerns that conflicted with breastfeeding. My main issue was how simple I really assumed it was going to be. When Maddox was born I immediately attempted nursing within the first hour (like all my books, classes, and experienced moms had told me to). Right away Maddox knew exactly what to do! However, his technique (specifically his latch) needed a little work. I kept attempting to nurse him every few hours but something just didn’t feel right. Honestly- It hurt like HELL!! I later learned this was partially due to the way I was errr…built…that made latching harder for him. Luckily my mom (and experienced breastfeeding champion herself) was there and recommended I talk to the lactation specialist at the hospital. The first one that came in was slightly helpful (but mom wasn’t impressed) so we asked for another one and let me tell you- She knew her stuff! She was an expert! She was beyond helpful and even talked to Josh about ways to help and comfort me while we all got the hang of it as well.

By the time we left the hospital Maddox and I still didn’t have this whole thing figured out but the nurses were happy with how he was doing and we were happy with the knowledge we had gained to feel comfortable continuing to work on it at home. The biggest thing I did wrong was to let Maddox continue to constantly nurse without properly latching. Both josh and my mom noticed how tense my entire body was getting every time I would feed Maddox so they would do everything they could to help me relax- i.e. shoulder massages, turning on the tv to distract me, talking to me, having me try Maddox in different positions, and having me stop feeding him so he could relatch until it didn’t hurt. I was so worried about him getting enough to eat that I ignored how uncomfortable it was for me. Boy was that a bad idea. Nursing him “the wrong way” for just a few days had caused cracking, bleeding, bruising, and blistering…. Talk about painful!! At that point there really wasn’t anything I could do. He had to eat, so I had to nurse. Now supplementing with formula, even temporarily, is definitely an option. However, I had decided and was very determined to breastfeed exclusively. There’s absolutely nothing right or wrong about either option. That’s just what I decided was best for us.

So in the beginning it was hard but for me it was totally worth the pain! I soon learned that nursing fixes everything! Hunger, sadness, tiredness, frustration, pain, you name it! I never had to worry about packing bottles or buying formula. I also feel like it really helped Maddox and me to bond, not to say people who don’t breastfeed are missing that bond, but for us, it created a closeness that I can’t explain. It was a lifesaver for us, in so many ways and I’m so glad Maddox and I were able to experience it! Fingers crossed things go smoothly with Marlow, but we’ll see.

After a few months of proper feedings, lots of patiences, terrific support from Josh, and a boatload of nipple cream and gel pads we were home free! Well…until teething-but that’s a whole other post. I don’t want to make these posts too long so I plan to do another post about how long Maddox nursed, when he nursed, when certain feedings started to tapper off, and how I dealt with the occasional feelings of “NO ONE TOUCH ME or I’ll scream.”

 

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Co-Sleeping: Keeping Him Close

After years of not writing anything besides to-do lists and facebook posts, I decided to start writing again at 4am on April 3, 2016. I literally woke up and started making notes on my phone. I’m not at all trying to give advice, tell you how to do anything, or tell you how right I did everything. After years of reading other peoples blogs I decided to share how we do things in my family.

I started thinking about writing blog posts again after a friend, who had recently had a baby, asked me how I get Maddox to sleep through the night. We messaged for hours back and forth talking about everything from his bedtime routine, to what time he goes to bed, to how he falls asleep to where he sleeps. Then a few months later another friend and I had almost the exact same conversation. Full disclosure- I admit that Maddox sleeping so well could have absolutely nothing to do with anything we have done. He may just be a great sleeper! We’ll see when Marlow comes. I may be writing a whole new ‘Help! I have no idea what to do’ post. With that being said, here’s what we did with Maddox.

From the time Maddox was born he has slept with us. In the hospital he slept exclusively on my or Josh’s chest. When we brought him home, the first couple of weeks were a mix of various sleeping positions. The first few days he was mainly sleeping at night on my chest while I was propped up with pillows (I was in the middle of our king bed). I didn’t want to put him down and he seemed so comforted and calm sleeping on me. Then he began sleeping on the bed between Josh and me. We gave him a good amount of space to himself and were more of a barrier between him and the end of the bed. He also had no pillows or blankets near him. This set up made it really easy for me to nurse him at night. In the beginning when he woke to eat I would wake up and place him on a nursing pillow. After he and I were more confortable I would just roll over and nurse him on my side so neither of us really had to move much and we could easily roll back over and fall back asleep after. I really think this set-up is what kept our entire family well rested! Most nights Maddox never really “woke up” to eat. I could feel him starting to stir and as long as I got to him quickly I could nurse him back to sleep before he made a sound or opened his eyes. At times it was more comfort nursing than actual hunger. As time went on there were even nights I would wake up and find him nursing without me even realizing it. He just found his way himself. This system went on pretty consistently for about 6 months and slowly tapered off. Since neither of us were fully waking up for his feedings I never felt tired in the morning. And by age 1 he rarely woke at night to nurse at all.

During the first few weeks or so Josh and I were super cautious about our co-sleeping. No pillows or blankets near Maddox. If Josh or I was super tired we slept on the opposite side of the bed and put pillows up so we wouldn’t roll near Maddox. We also used Maddox’s bouncy seat a few times as well. We set the raised, soft lounging seat on the bed in between us and buckled him in (I also did this a few times when I needed a nap).

I always knew I would co-sleep. My mom co-slept with us and it just seemed like the right thing for me. Josh and I talked a lot about co-sleeping before Maddox was born and I think he had the attitude of “I trust you and lets see how it goes.” We knew we didn’t want him to be far from us, but we debated whether he would be in bed or in a cradle near our bed. We set up a crib in his room, a cradle beside our bed, and pack-n-play in the living room because we were new parents and really had no idea how any of this was going to go. We just knew we wanted to follow our instincts as parents and Maddox’s natural instincts as a baby. And that’s exactly what worked for us. “Crying it out” or “sleep training” was never an option for us (I’ll post later about our reasons why). We loved co-sleeping and have continued to co-sleep with Maddox. We always wanted Maddox close to us and he seemed equally as comforted in knowing we were nearby. No sleepless nights, no running to his room to get him, no fighting over who’s turn it was to get him, and most importantly no screaming and/or crying baby. I highly recommend trying things until you figure out what works best for you and your family. We had no set expectations or “goals,” except for all of us to get some sleep! This is what worked and continues to work for our family. However, I know that no two babies are alike so let’s see what works with Marlow.

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