Welcome to the many adventures of the Cartwright family.

Monday, March 27, 2017

"Girls are quieter than boys" and other lies I was told

Back when Pat and I were discussing our ideal family, way before the kids were born, we thought we wanted a boy and girl.  We were thrilled when we found out we were having a son.  Got our boy!  With our second pregnancy we knew we would be happy with either gender.  Having Ben was such a delight, I could just picture having another little boy to love.  But I would have been so happy to have a daughter too.  With twins, well, I have to admit the thought of having two girls was the most daunting combo to us.  One girl, yes, we both wanted a daughter.  But two at once?  Two going through all the less than exciting parts of growing up at the same time?  That was a bit intimidating to us.  Learning we were in fact having two daughters was a little scary at first.  We got over it pretty quickly.  Any gender can have trying parts of childhood.  Two daughters was going to be awesome.  Then I started hearing all the differences between little girls and little boys.  Honestly it made having twins sound a lot easier- they were both girls.  Well I'm going to say it.  Most of them were lies.

Girls are quieter than boys.  I knew that girls usually talk more than boys.  But I was under the impression that girls didn't yell and scream as much for no apparent reason.  Not so in this house.  Ben was a relatively quiet baby and early toddler.  He just didn't make a ton of noises.  I'm pretty sure Ali and Sammy are some of the loudest babies ever.  Seriously.  They aren't unhappy girls, they are just super loud.  I used to ask people if their girls tended to be louder than their boys, or if their second children were louder.  Nope.  We just have loud babies.  These girls love to yell and squeal and make all kinds of noises.  One of them alone is super loud.  And we have two.  Pat can hear them from outside the house when he gets home in the evening.  (Thank goodness we aren't in a town home anymore!)  These ladies have opinions and want them to be heard.  Now that Ben is three he is talking non stop.  I'm pretty certain I won't be able to get a word in around my kids in another year or so.

Right for the outlet.  Every time.
Girls don't get into as much trouble.  We baby proofed with Ben, but not in an obsessive way.  I believe in baby proofing just enough.  By that I mean we take care of real, serious danger.  But some things are left out to learn from.  For example- the kids aren't allowed to play with the tv remotes.  They are out, and we work on learning not to touch certain items.  Ben didn't really get into stuff though.  He was never interested in outlets.  He didn't really try to reach up on high shelves and get things.  He ignored cords for the most part.  (This was particularly helpful since he was in an office all day.)   He was pretty mellow. Ali and Sammy are drawn to outlets like they are candy.  They think cords are chew toys I am meanly keeping from them.  They try to reach and grab anything they see.  These girls tried to eat the edge of the carpet.  Nothing is safe around here.

Crawling on train tracks?  Why not?
Girls are more careful than boys.  I've heard that boys are fearless.  When we had Ben I was prepared for bumps and bruises.  I was ready for him to be rough and tumble.  Now he can be, but overall he is a pretty cautious kid.  He doesn't like stunts or doing wild things.  He makes sure he is confident with playground equipment before he gets on it.  He always looks before he leaps.  We have two little daredevils in Sammy and Ali.  These two still fling themselves all over the place.  If we sit with them on the couch they will try to go headfirst over the sides.  Both of them have had bruises and bumps on their heads and faces.  Ali went face first into a toy and got a deep bruise on her cheek (poor baby!), and Sammy headbutted her crib and got a bruise on her forehead.  (I saw it happen, but did not for a second think she would launch herself that hard!)  Pat and Ben were in the backyard one day and I stepped out to say something to them, leaving the door open.  There is a drop from the door to the porch.  It's only like six inches, but I thought no way the girls would go out. Nope, both of them just scurried as fast as they could to get outside.  The drop didn't slow them down for a second.

Never stop trying to get into everything.
Girls sit still better than boys.  Okay, I know my girls are still young, so we will see how they are as toddlers.  But as babies- they never hold still!  Ben didn't start crawling until he was almost a year.  He was happy to sit with a collection of toys and play.  He liked to sit in his high chair and watch me cook in the kitchen.  This probably helped with him not getting into as much.  Ali and Sammy never stop moving.  They started wiggling and trying to get around at about six and a half months.  By seven months they were army crawling.  They never stopped.  They are all over the living room, bouncing from toy to toy.  They cruise around holding onto anything they can grab.  I have never been so grateful for baby gates.  Speaking of those gates though- the girls have learned to push them over if they aren't tight enough in the doorways.  They also stand at the gates and lift up a leg like they are trying to step over like adults do.  So they are busy and smart.  Super.

Girls are neater than boys.  Ha!  Ben is one of those kids who likes everything in it's spot.  He can make a mess- he's still a kid.  But his room is clean without my having to say much to him.  Drawers need to be closed, toys should be kept together by type, and he pretty willingly cleans up at the end of a play session.  Even with eating he isn't too bad.  Oh, he gets messy.  But it really isn't that bad.  The girls are a mess.  I mean that in the most loving way possible.  When Ben was a baby he was super into putting things into containers.  The girls want nothing more than to dump everything on the floor.  They grab toys and shove them places, which drives Ben (and me) crazy.  We have to hunt down the pieces of different sets at the end of the day.  Meal times?  I have never seen the messes these girls can make!  I swear if I give them a little dab of peanut butter they manage to end up with a whole jar's worth on their face.  Ben never got food between his toes.  Ali and Sammy- not that uncommon.  The two of them find nothing funnier than putting things on their heads, especially at meals. We go through a lot of wipes in this house.  (These pictures are from a relatively clean meal.)

I adore having a boy and girls.  I really am so grateful we get a chance to experience both.  I have a busy little boy who loves to jump in muddy puddles and run around non stop.  I thought two baby girls would be nothing compared to that, but having girls does not mean you are in for a more peaceful time.   And I have two of them.  Two busy, loud, fearless little girls.  I love it, but thank goodness my caffeine addiction was well in place long before kids. :)


Oh, and if you think having twin girls means having tea parties and playing with dolls all day, check out this wrestling match.  The girls like to try to launch themselves off the bouncer.

There can be only one!
Full explanation of this picture:  The girls were actually giggling and hugging, but Ali hugged a bit too hard and Sammy fell over.  I just happened to get the picture at the right moment.  Sammy didn't miss a beat.  She rolled over and tried to get right back on.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Friday Family Update {March 24}

Time to catch  up on what the kids have been up to!

A couple of weeks ago we invaded Aunt Gail's house to visit.  We had so much fun!  Fortunately for us Aunt Gail and Uncle Dan have a bunch of toys at there house.  Ali, Ben, and Sammy are always happy to have different toys to explore.  Plus Aunt Gail's house has a big hallway to run down.  The best part- she doesn't mind! We played inside for a bit then had some lunch.  After lunch we headed outside!  I was able to let Ali and Sammy crawl around a bit for once.  I put out a blanket for them.  They crawled right off it, of course.  Ali actually ventured into the grass for a bit.  Sammy was a little more hesitant about it.  I think they really liked having the freedom to crawl around outside.  I can't wait for them to get past the everything-in-the-mouth time.  I guess they don't put everything in their mouth right now.  But they did attempt to taste some rocks.  They won't be loose very frequently.  I do also have some concerns about all the prickly plants around here.  While it is fun to let the girls crawl around free, they do still need some serious attention.  

I got some pictures, but managed to forget to get any of Aunt Gail with the kids!  Sorry!  But thank you for letting us invade and hang out for the day.  We had a lot of fun.

Sweet girls outside!
Sammy knows how to work the camera.
Ali!  I love these sweeties in their sun hats!
Ali was quite the explorer!  Ben made sure she was safe.
These three had so much fun!!
Sweet sisters sharing lunch.  I love that they are willing to share the little table.
And then your sister puts her foot on the table.  Twin problems.
A couple of weekends ago Pat's school had a 5k run.  No, we didn't run in it. Pat helped out so we went to check it all out!  I am so glad we did.  I got to meet so many nice people that Pat works with.  I loved hearing that they all liked him!  (I wouldn't expect otherwise.)  The race was a big event for the community, with music, food, and activities for the kids.  Ben got to go in a little petting zoo.  He played on the playground.  The highlight was getting to sit in a real firetruck!  It took some time for Ben to warm up to it, but he did climb up!  It was so cute to see him talking to the fireman.  The look of pride on his face afterwards was priceless.

My boys checking everything out!
Ali! Happy to be at the event.
Sammy, trying not to smile.
Ben and the firemen!  He listened so carefully to them.
Future fireman?

Finally, as I mentioned Pat and I had our 8 year anniversary on Pi Day.  We didn't do anything big, but I did take advantage of the day to make Pat's favorite pie- banana cream!  My favorite part of this was that Ben could help with pretty much every step.  We helped me press the crust into the pan, make the filling, cut the bananas, and put the filling in the crust.  I am pretty certain his favorite part was liking the bowl afterward.  I don't blame him- that was my favorite part too!  Ben was so excited to show Daddy the pie, Pat didn't even get through the door before Ben was running up and telling him about it.  

Mixing the filling.
Cutting up the bananas.  Just a butter knife, but I was a bit nervous!
Filling the pie.
Liking the bowl!  The best part.
My happy helper!

Thank you again to Aunt Gail for letting us come visit!  We all had a great time.  Looking back on these pictures is making me want more pie.  I wonder what I can let Ben help me bake next... :)


Thursday, March 23, 2017

Bedtime Routines- the 4 core parts you need for success

Sleep is so important.  If it wasn't we wouldn't have so many articles and books and blogs on how to get our kids to just go to sleep already!  A big part of getting into sleep mode is setting the stage that the day is over and it is time to rest.  No parent wants to spend hours getting their kids into bed.  A good bedtime routine contain just a few basics that can be performed almost anywhere.  In my opinion, it should take less than ten minutes.  It can be made longer if you are all having fun playing around, but it can be pared down even further if needed.  There are four main components to a good bedtime routine.

1) Pajamas.  It doesn't matter what the pajamas your kid wears are, as long as an outfit change takes place.  This physically shows our kids that we are serious, they are changing activities from day time to night time.  Pajamas need to be appropriate for the temperature of the home and the child so they are comfortable at night.  Keep in mind little ones aren't the best at keeping blankets on, or shouldn't have them at all.  So they might need warmer pajamas than adults do.  Most importantly these clothes need to be comfortable and safe.  Nothing that will tangle up at night, and nothing that will cause them to wake up uncomfortable.  Other than that- I say whatever makes your kid happy.  They are more likely to want to get into their pajamas if they are ones they like.  I don't find this to be the time to argue about texture, fit, or appearance.  Who really sees kids when they are sleeping?  No one, so who cares what they look like.  My son loved one set of pajamas so much he wore them long after they technically fit.  He was comfortable, so I didn't care.  He says something is too itchy, it's gone.  They are the ones who have to wear it for 12 hours or so, they know what they want.

2) Hygiene.  I don't believe in doing bath as a part of the bed time routine.  It can take place before bed, but it isn't a necessary component to signal that it is almost time to sleep.  That doesn't mean my kids go to bed dirty.  That doesn't feel good to anyone!  For babies a nice rub down with a baby wipe is usually plenty.  You can check all those sweet folds and get all the fuzzies out from those tiny toes.  For older kids I do at least a face wash, sometimes with a baby wipe too.  Be sure to check the feet if your child has been barefoot.  No one wants dirty sheets.  This is when we brush teeth.  This is also when final diaper changes or potty trips take place. (Potty training time means another trip last thing before bed too. One more try never hurts.)

3) Prayers and reflection.  I know not every family is religious.  This doesn't have to be formal prayers, or really any prayers at all.  This is just a good time to reflect back on the day and talk to your child for a few minutes.  We mention what went well that day, and touch on what we still need to work on.  I try to reinforce basic behavioral goals and review the all the time rules.  This is a quiet moment to really seek out your child's heart and talk to them.  We do say our prayers during this time.  It doesn't have to be a whole lecture period, just a few moments to touch base with your child.

4) Final Goodnight.  I am not a good singer, but when I had my first child I couldn't help but sing to him.  Studies have shown that babies adore the sounds of their parents singing, even if we think it sounds like screeching cats.  So I sing.  Our final goodnight is the same songs, every time our children go to sleep.  For all the children we do Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.  Short, simple, to the point.  I start singing this to them as soon as we bring them home.  Any time they are put down to a deliberate sleep time I sing this song to them.  I try not to sing it to them any other time at first.  This way when they here that song they know it is time for sleep.  If you don't like to sing it can be a final set of words or a last series of kisses.  It just needs to be something that you can do every single time you put your child to sleep that you don't do other times.

These four things make up the core of any bedtime routine.  The great thing about building your routine out of these four items is that it can grow and change as needed.  When our children are newborns, this whole thing goes pretty quickly.  Prayers are just a few words, and there isn't much reflection with a baby.  But as babies grow into toddlers you can use this time to reinforce any lessons you are working on.  You can add more to this routine if you have the time, no need to force it into as short a time as possible.  But in the times when we are short on time and need to get everyone in to bed we can quickly hit the basics in less than ten minutes.

Building a routine you can do anywhere is so helpful.   This is something you can start at birth and continue for years.  The details may change, but the core parts can stay the same.  This encourages your child to settle in to sleep time, regardless of how long you spend on the routine or where you are.  You can travel and still do your routine.  You can easily explain to someone else how to handle bedtime.  And as I said, my favorite part, bedtime doesn't have to stretch for hours.  We can be silly and play, but still get into bed without a fight.  With a solid routine, everyone knows what is expected from them, making bedtime enjoyable for the whole family.


It's a Babywise Friendly Blog Network Day!  All the ladies are talking about different aspects of routine.  Check out all the posts!

Twinning Babywise: Routines (or how to start your day off on the right side of the bed)
The Journey of Parenthood: Incorporating Mommy's Needs in the Daily Family Routine
Mama's Organized Chaos: Benefits and Types of Routines- And How You Can Use Routines Without Using Schedules
Chronicles of a Babywise Mom: The Key Element to Starting a Routine

Monday, March 20, 2017

Wonder Weeks Without the Stress

I remember discovering The Wonder Weeks (aff) when Ben was a baby.  I was of course googling everything I could on how to raise a baby- how to get them to sleep, how to form a schedule, what to do with them while they were awake.  Specifically I was curious how babies learn and perceive the world around them.  I, like most people with babies, found this sort of development fascinating and wanted to use this information to help my baby.  I was at first thrilled to find a reference that outlined specific leaps my baby would make and told me what they were experiencing.  I read a bit more and found graphics which visually showed me what to expect from my child. The thing is- there were a a lot of 'stormy periods' on these charts.  Like a whole lot.  Like my child's first year of life was going to be one long fuss fest. I was not excited about that.

Let's back up a moment.  What are the Wonder Weeks?  Simply stated these are times in your baby's life in which they are making huge strides in mental development.  Dr. Plooij developed the book.  He began his career studying chimpanzee mothers and babies.  After spending time cataloging behavior he found that the babies tended to follow a similar pattern of development, marked by sudden clingy behavior- regression- and then more independence- development.  Later Dr. Plooij started looking at these patterns in human mothers and babies.  He found a pattern of ten distinct times mental leaps were made.  He was able to use his data to find a timeline that many babies follow in this development, which became the wonder weeks. (reference)

Back to my experience with them.  I started following the weeks and saw when my son was supposed to be fussy.  Sure enough, if I saw that he was supposed to be cranky I saw all sorts of cranky behavior.  Then there were times when I looked at the chart and saw that he was supposed to be happy and he still had fussy times.  This was very depressing to me.  If he was crying during a 'sunny period' how bad would it get during the stormy periods?  At one point I stopped looking at the weeks as obsessively and noticed a drop in fussy behavior.  After a particularly sunny time I looked at the charts again and saw my son had supposedly just gone through a very rough period.  This was not what I observed.  I started to wonder if I was putting my own bias onto the wonder weeks- seeing behavior because I thought I was supposed to.

I found using the weeks added more stress to my life.  When I thought there would be fussy behaviors I saw fussy behaviors.  When I didn't focus on these behaviors I found them to be less noticeable and easier to handle.  So I stopped looking at the weeks.  If I was going through a particularly trying period with Ben I would glance at the leaps.  If they lined up it offered me the type of 'you're not crazy' reassurances I was needing. 

These discrepancies got me thinking.  Why do some babies follow the Wonder Weeks perfectly and others seem not to?  Why do some mothers notice it aligns better with the baby's birth date, not due date as the book suggests?  Does this mean the wonder weeks aren't legit?  Not necessarily.  I looked in to how this data was gathered.  Dr. Plooij used, at least at the start, self reported results from a group of mothers with young babies.  This is fine, but there are some inherit biases in self reported data.  People can over exaggerate what they see, or they can minimize effects.  This makes sense- we as humans report events tinged with what we feel about them.  So not every baby will got through the same experiences to the same degree.  As with any research of this sort, it is taking observations from a relatively small group, the ones Dr. Plooij observed, and applying it to a relatively large group, babies everywhere.  That means you are more likely to find outliers.  You can think about it this way.  If you were to observe a group of people you might find that they wake up and eat breakfast right away.  It can be safe to assume most people behave that way.  But as the group observed gets bigger, you might see people who work out before breakfast, or people who eat breakfast at work, or even people who skip breakfast all together.  Your original prediction for an unknown person that they will wake up and eat breakfast isn't wrong.  But as you look at more and more people, you will find more variations in the behavior.  Translated to the Wonder Weeks, this means it is a reasonable assumption that most babies will follow this pattern of behaviors, but it does not mean every baby will act the same way.  Some babies will hit leaps hard and display the typical behavior the book outlines.  Others will skate on through without you even knowing something changed.  Neither is a wrong way to grow or develop.  We have to remember that babies aren't robots.  They are all different.  Even identical twins might not exhibit the same reactions to their growing awareness of the world.

I think a big part of how children learn and grow is also how we as parents handle the behaviors displayed.  I know some mothers swear by the weeks.  They line up perfectly and their babies react in a textbook manner to them.  The weeks give them a sense of understanding and control enabling them to show patience and grace when dealing with their children.  That is great.  If these weeks work for you, I think that is wonderful.  But if you are like me and find them to add more stress to your life, I think you can safely put the information aside. Don't get me wrong, knowing the why behind how our children act can be so important.   Anything that helps us get through the tough early years of motherhood is beneficial.  But if you are like me and it created a sense of dread, then it isn't helpful.  I don't like that implication that I get from reading some websites that ignoring these weeks will somehow harm your child's development.  This book first came out in 1992.  Babies have been making mental developments long before then and before this book became mainstream.  You aren't going to limit your child's mental growth if you do not do specific exercises with them at just the right times.  You also aren't being a bad mom if you either aren't aware of the weeks or opt to not follow them closely.

The key takeaway I got is that these developments can understandably rock our children's worlds.  It makes sense that babies might get clingy, confused, or upset as they learn new things.  I find being told my baby will be fussy and clingy for long periods of time unhelpful.  But, as I said, if I am at a loss I will double check to see if a leap is going on.  This lets me know it isn't anything I am doing wrong as a parent, it is the developments my children are making.  Babies will make the leaps regardless of whether we know about them or not.  We should aim to be understanding and patient with our babies needs regardless of whether they are making a leap or not.  If this information is helpful for you- use it.  If, like me, it causes you more stress- ignore it.  You aren't hurting your kids by not stressing the leaps yourself.

You can check out the Wonder Weeks site for yourself to best decide if and how you want to use this information.

I have also put together a little no-stress cheat sheet.  It has the approximate timing of the leaps and the general development that is taking place.  What it doesn't have is if your child should be fussy or for how long cranky behaviors might last.  This is just meant as a quick guide to tuck into your notes to pull out when your child is acting out of sorts and you have gone through all your other reasoning for the behavior.  You can pull it out, see if it is a wonder week, and know that everything is developing as normal.  Or you can just keep an eye on what your child is experiencing without the details on potential fussy times.


Thursday, March 16, 2017

Hydration in babies, toddlers, and kids

The weather reports for a lot of the country are still, well, confusing.  It is still very winter in most places.  (Sigh, I almost miss that.  Almost.) Around here it is already hot.  Seriously, it is getting up to ninety degrees.  We aren't even in summer yet.  Most areas of the country will have some level of summer eventually.  Either you are experiencing warm weather already or dreaming of summer fun.  That means we need to worry about our our little ones getting enough water.  But how much water do babies and kids need?  How do I get them to drink it?  What should I do to keep us hydrated in hot weather?  Here are some guidelines to help out.

Hydration Guidelines for Babies
Let's start with the babies.  Newborns really shouldn't be offered water.  They are getting all the hydration they need from nursing or formula feedings.  If it is very hot and you can tell you need to drink more water you should offer up more nursing sessions to your babies.  Yes, this can be frustrating if you are scheduling feedings.  But really that young you are probably feeding them frequently anyway.  Formula fed babies might need additional feedings as well.  Up until two months of age babies really shouldn't have water.  They can fill up on that and miss important nutrients from feedings.  Water intoxication is very serious in babies.  Most babies this young have a lot of risks from being out in extreme heat, so if you are in this situation you are probably keeping to air conditioned environments as much as possible.  If you are stranded somewhere and nursing, offer up some breast milk to your baby.  If you are formula feeding try to keep some water and formula in the car.  Offer it to your baby even if it is off schedule.  Formula and breast milk are the safest options.

Starting at about four months babies can have some sips of water, but try to keep it to a minimum.  Really they only need about 2-4 ounces a day.  After six months of age they can have a bit more.  It is a good idea to introduce water at this young age though.  It helps them get used to it and enjoy it as the healthiest beverage.  If you are doing baby led weaning with your baby they will need to have a little extra water to avoid constipation.  A general rule of thumb is about as many ounces per day as months old the child is.  That means a seven month old should have about seven ounces of water, an eight month old eight ounces, etc.

Once babies are a year they can have water when thirsty.  Babies don't always let us know they are thirsty, so I follow the rule if I am thirsty, they probably are too.  I offer them drinks when I get one.

Hydration in young children
Children aged one through three need about 44 ounces of water, or about five and half cups.  Keep in mind they can also be getting some of the water from foods (about 20% of it).  After age four they need more.  There are of course variables to this.  Height, weight, activity level, etc. all come into play.  Basically that means this isn't a hard and fast number you have to stick by.  If you are out in the heat and sweating a lot you probably need more.

After age one a good idea is to keep water out for kids to grab when they feel thirsty.  Offer it up at meals.  And again, if you are hot and thirsty grab your little ones a drink too.

Getting kids to drink
Some kids are really into drinking water, while others need to be encouraged a bit.  There are few ways you can help your kids to drink water.
1) Have it handy.  If it is available kids are more likely to grab for it.  This means have some sippy cups of water in reach for your kids.  Water doesn't stain, so we allow water in any room of our house.  If that is too messy or just not what you want to do, try offering it up every hour or so.
2) Introduce the sippy cup at a young age. Once you are starting solids give your kid a sippy cup of water.  At first they will just play with it.  They will get the hang of it making it easier to get them to drink later.
3) Give them a cold one.  Ever since we moved my son asks for the cold water.  We invested (invested like twenty dollars, not that much) in a filtered pitcher.  It has been so worth any money spent.  We have good tasting, cold water that my kids love.
4) Try a splash of juice.  I use this trick to get my kids to start to drink from a sippy cup.  Water is good, but doesn't have a flavor.  A little juice gives a touch of flavor that entices your child to drink more.  Once they are drinking consistently I lower the amount of juice until it is just water.
5) Make flavored water yourself.  I sometimes add a couple lemon slices and cucumber slices to a pitcher of water to keep in the fridge.  There is a reason spas do this- it is so good! There are lots of combinations you can try, or just use whatever is in your fridge.  Check out my Pinterest board for some inspiration!
6) Freeze fruit in ice cubes.  It's fun for kids to look at and fun to drink.  As a fun activity your child could help you make the cubes too!

What to do when it is HOT
Sometimes you just have to get out when it is hot out.  It is important to make sure you keep your kids hydrated on the go.
1) Grab water when you walk out the door.  If you get into the habit of grabbing a bottle every time you go it will really help.  Like most things with kids, plan ahead on this one.  When you get home, wash out and refill your bottle so it is ready to grab next time you go out.
2) Keep water in the car.  We live in a HOT climate now.  We keep a small case of water in the trunk at all times. Yes, it might be warm and not taste super awesome, but it is better than nothing if we get stranded somewhere.
3) 'When your water is halfway gone, your hike is halfway done.'  I laugh when I read this at our local hiking trail.  It seems silly to have to say this, but it is so true!  If you are running out of water it is time to go.  It is not worth toughing anything out with your little ones.
4) Offer water when you get home.  Anytime we get home from being out I give my kids a drink of water.  We might have just been at the library, but it is still hot out.  Even if we took water with us when we were out- we get home, everyone gets a drink.
5) Offer your kids a drink whenever you take one when you are out.  Kids don't always know they are thirsty.  They might not have the words to tell you, or they might just be too busy playing to realize it.  A good rule is to always offer up drinks to the whole family when you take a sip.
6) Get a squirt top sport bottle for babies.  This might sound silly, but it really works for me.  I have a squirt top bottle that is pretty big.  My kids can all suck the water out of it.  The bonus is when you squeeze it water comes out of course.  With my girls I can basically squirt some water into them. (Not hard or meanly, just enough to get it going.) This entices them to drink more.
7) Let your kids pick their water bottle.  If bringing water or drinking when you are out is an issue you can try to let your kid pick out the bottle they want to use.  I don't like having to spend extra money, but chances are this will pay for itself in time.
8) Try popsicles.  They cool you off and have a good water content.  They are a fun way to cool off after outside activities.  You can get molds at most dollar stores to make your own if you would like.

Signs of dehydration
Alright, you have your plans in place to get enough water into your family.  But kids don't know when they are dehydrated.  What signs should you look for?
In Babies
1) Sleepiness
2) Irritability
3) Dry mouth, no tears
4) Soft spot appears sunken
5) Decrease in wet diapers (think less than six wet diapers in a 24 hour period, or going two to three hours without a wet diaper consistently)
In Children
1) Sleepiness
2) Irritability
3) Dry mouth, no tears
4) Lethargic
5) Dark yellow urine and going more than six hours without urinating
6) Complaints of headaches or dizziness

These are just some of the signs.  If you are worried your child is dehydrated offer them some water and call your doctor.  They will tell you what to do.  If you think it is serious, or if it is a young baby you might want to head to the ER.  It sounds like a trivial thing.  Oh, I'm just a bit dehydrated. But when it comes to kids and babies dehydration can be very serious.  Never feel bad for staying on the safe side and getting checked out.

Dehydration is no joke.  At worst it can have some serious health implications.  At best it can still be a real downer when your little ones are fussy.  Either way, I don't like to mess with it.  If you plan ahead and have good water drinking practices you will be in great shape to keep active and having fun, even in warmer weather.


Want to learn more?  Here are some resources to check out!
Kelly Mom- Offering Water to Breastfed Babies
CNN.com- How much water do babies need to drink?
EatRight.org- Water: How much do kids needs?
EasyBabyLife.com- Spending time with baby in hot weather
Babycenter.com- Dehydration in children
Babycenter.com- How much water should my toddler drink?
EMedicineHealth.com- Dehydration in children
Mayoclinic.org- Dehydration
HealthyChildren.org- Signs of Dehydration in Infants and Children

These aren't the only resources or tips.  Have something to add?  Please let me know!  Knowledge is power after all. :)

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

8 years

Today is a good day.  Yes, it is Pi Day!  But that's the not the only reason.  Eight years ago today Pat and I stood up before friends, family, and God and promised to be husband and wife forever.  And no, I know I am am math and science geek, but we did not choose the date because it was Pi Day.  That is just a happy coincidence.

The eighth anniversary is bronze.  Now, we usually try to follow the traditional gifts every year.  We don't spend a ton of money, but we like to stick with the theme.  (And by we I totally mean me and Pat humors me and goes along with it.) This year neither of us could think of anything worth getting in a reasonable price for bronze.  That's right, we have officially reached the old married couple age.  We don't even do much for anniversaries anymore.  The thing is, this is one of my favorite yet.

I think bronze is a perfect representation of how far we have come as a couple in this past year.  The seven year anniversary is copper, and bronze is an alloy of copper and tin.  This may seem like it is getting muddled, but actually those extra additions make the metal stronger.  This past year has added so much to our lives.  We of course added the girls and made our big cross country move.  And through all these changes I really feel like we have gotten stronger, both as a family and as a couple.

So Patrick, my wonderful husband, thank you for another great year.  I am still so happy to be married to you.  I would stand up before the whole world and say I choose you again.  I love you and I am so happy to be your wife.  Happy anniversary my love.  I can't wait to see what this next year brings us.

We were such babies! What a magical day.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Boxes. The answer is always boxes

Alright, up north the weather is going crazy.  First it's warm, then it's snowy again.  Around March you start to get a little antsy with all the indoor time.  I am used to that battle.  I can't really complain about the weather, but we haven't been getting out of the house as much here either.  The girls are super into crawling and cruising, but not yet walking.  They also still like to put most things in their mouth.  When we are out they need to stay in the stroller and that is starting to drive these busy ladies crazy.  Ben needs to move move move, so we needed to find a way to make all three kids happy.

How do you keep kids of all ages happy and busy while inside with minimal effort?  Boxes.  The answer is always boxes.  We happened to get a couple of big ones recently.  They live in our room for now, and every time we bring them out it is a bit hit.  

Right away Ali and Sammy were giggling and crawling up to see the fort Pat set up.  They were seriously beaming they were so excited to crawl on in.  
No invitation needed- these two crawling right in!
Ben loves boxes of all sizes.
So happy!!
It's a fort, it's a spaceship, it's a boat.  Seriously, a great toy for imaginative play. 
Days later, still loving the boxes.
One happy lady. 
Ben made all sorts of arrangements with the boxes.  We had towers, forts, and castles.  One box was a spaceship then later a boat.  The girls got exiled to jail while Ben was a cowboy.  Fortunately Ali and Sammy were so happy to be in a box they didn't mind serving their time.

When Daddy was home you can bet he got recruited to play box too.
Pat had to hold the girls back to let Ben build.  He had plans!
Peek a boo!
Escape!  Ben found a place to get away from it all.  Well, mainly away from little sisters. ;)
These girls felt like big kids playing like big brother.

So much love in one box!
 And yes, the boxes got some use even after the kids went to bed.

Happy kitty in her box.
It is crazy that the simplest things can make kids the happiest.  We will keep pulling these boxes out every few weeks until they are destroyed.  It is the best way to spend an afternoon or evening. I love seeing Ben use his imagination, and it warms my heart to see him include his little sisters in the fun.  They of course adore that big brother is playing with them.

Seriously, when you get into a rut, when you can't get outside, when you just want an easy fun thing to do.  Boxes.  Always boxes.