The First Review is Live

In my last post, I mentioned something new I had started called Reviews & Interviews. Since the beginning of February, I have been distributing the press release and ebook of a new author to the bloggers that signed up for Reviews & Interviews. This week, the very first review from one of those bloggers went live, and I have to say it’s a great review.

If you would like to take a look and read about the book we’re focusing on this month, take a look.

Book-loving Bloggers

ri-1Hello ladies and gents! I’m about to merge my real life and my blog life a little bit with this post (scary!).

I have started a new venture that is bringing bloggers and authors together to reach more readers. It’s called Reviews & Interviews. I distribute ebooks and author information to the bloggers who have signed up and then it’s up to them whether they are interested in that specific book or author. Each blogger can choose genre preferences so they are only informed of news within that genre.

Many of the authors authorize me to send an advance copy of their ebook so bloggers can read and review it. Other authors are only interested in being interviewed. Either way, once the blogger writes the post it is then shared across my social media and that of the author as well. So, it’s added visibility for both the blogger and the author.

If any of you would like to sign-up, then check out http://reviewandinterview.xyz. It’s completely free for the blogger, and I won’t sell your information or even hand it out to anyone. I won’t spam you, either. I only work with authors who have put in the post-writing work of hiring an editor, formatter, cover designer, etc., so I only distribute information for those who have relatively error-free books. No one is obligated to give a favorable review. The only expectation is honesty.

 

11 Reasons Why My Baby Is Really A Cat In Disguise

  1. He knocks anything and everything off any surface he can reach. Holding him on my hip while passing by the kitchen counter is guaranteed to result in a broken dish, food scattered across my floor, or the immediate need for a mop.
  2. He likes to sleep in the sun. His favorite napping spots have been warmed by the sun through the window.
  3. He destroys blinds. Enough said.
  4. Did I mention he “cat naps”? There are no really long naps like most babies. No. He prefers the 15-minute approach.
  5. He’s obsessed with strings. If there is a string hanging off of anything, he is immediately entranced and determined to grab it and rip it off.
  6. The movement of shadows across a surface spurs him to immediate action to “get” the shadow.
  7. He follows the beam of a flashlight with pinpoint accuracy. He wants to attack it as well.
  8. Some moments he can’t get enough snuggles and pats. The next, he wants nothing to do with those around him and would prefer we all stay outside of his personal space bubble.
  9. He would really prefer to be most active at night. His mommy won’t let him, though.
  10. He treats long hair and necklaces the same as string. Beware!
  11. If his water isn’t cool and fresh, he isn’t interested.

 

Now, if I could just teach him to use a litter box…

I Can’t Seem To Resist

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I have a moment, and I felt the urge to share.

My baby is almost six months old. That seems so crazy to me. Seriously, crazy. If I thought my husband could handle another one, we would already be on our way to another few years of trying and maybe a baby eventually. But, we’re not.

So, we are taking a middle road approach to feeding solids. We have been giving him purees and solid chunks of food off and on over the last month and a half when he has seemed very interested. This week, he has been consistently interested every evening at dinner. The plan is to go the baby led weaning route, which if you haven’t heard of it before really isn’t about weaning.

Baby led weaning is all about letting baby feed himself real food. It helps with hand-eye-coordination and he gets a wider variety of flavors, textures, and healthy eats. My husband wasn’t sold on this approach because he was convinced our baby would choke. I explained to him that kids don’t chew with teeth until they’re around two because they don’t have molars until then. He still wasn’t convinced, until he saw it in action.

Tonight, he had his first real table food (I know, it sounds like I’m talking about the family dog, but I don’t know how else to say it) other than a piece of fruit or veggie. He had some chicken, and he LOVED it. His big sister loved watching him enthusiastically eat it as well. Morgan, my baby, hasn’t figured out how to get the food from his tray into his mouth yet except by happy accident.

Here is a photo of him eating the other day because I can’t resist:

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As for his sister, she is still so in love with her brother. He is so happy to see her every day after school, and I can see how much it means to her every time he smiles at her when he fusses at everyone else. Or when she is the only one who can get him to laugh.

Eva loves to collect trash. By trash, I mean things like cardboard boxes and junk mail and random bits of things I don’t want to find in my house. The other day, I found this on one of her boxes:

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It’s reassuring. I can’t be doing too terrible of a job if I’m “the best”.

I know it sounds like things have been all rainbows and butterflies, but we have had our rough patches. She had a rough summer because she didn’t get to see her father. It’s a long story, and it’s really her story, so I won’t be sharing it. But, I almost sent her to counseling (again). We got through it, and she is powering her way through second grade like a boss.

Money is still an issue, but I’m a lot more zen about it all. My business is picking up every month, and really even if it wasn’t then that’s life. I know I’m supposed to be here with Morgan and available for Eva. Everything else will work out.

I have a nanny/sitter that comes for a few hours a week and watches (well, holds nonstop) Morgan while I get some work done. He likes her and it’s obvious she adores him and I get to keep an eye on them both and still be productive.

That sums it up for now. Here are a couple more pictures because I can’t resist.

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A Ghost

I’m blogging. Truly, I am. I’m just not blogging here. I am a ghost these days, blogging for others.

I am going to be shutting this blog down. It makes me sad, but I no longer have the time to write here. All of my creative muscles are being flexed for someone else now that I am writing consistently for my business.

I feel like I am losing some friends by shutting down this blog. I can’t let this sit here taking up server space somewhere in the world, being completely neglected, though, either.

If any of you would like to continue to keep in touch with me, please leave me a comment and I will send you an email. 

If not, then this is goodbye. I wish all of you the very best!

Everyday I’m Hustling

Hello everybody!

I have been pretty silent for the last couple of months. I am working on figuring out this whole baby, work, life balance. It will get easier once 7-year-old Eva is in school again in a couple of weeks.

I have also arranged for a babysitter to come to me for a couple of hours, a couple of days a week once school is in session. I plan to use this opportunity to build my business. I can always complete my work in the evening or on the weekends, but that doesn’t leave time for much else. So, having someone come to me to watch my son while I work is going to be a big deal for me, my business, and my family.

It’s time to get back to work. I leave you with a photo of absolute adorable-ness; my son on his 4 month birthversary.

A baby with a mustache...why not?
A baby with a mustache…why not?

My Truth About Parenting A Newborn After Secondary Infertility

A baby's smile is priceless

Warning you now, this is completely free-flow of thought. Zero editing. Read at your own risk. It will not be grammatically perfect. Ha!

Conceiving my son was the work of God. He is a miracle, through and through. If you would like to know more about my struggle with secondary infertility, take a look.

Pregnancy sucks. Period. I don’t care who you are. It’s this crazy roller coaster ride of emotions and experiences that vary from terrifying to intensely emotional and awe-inspiring. It is physically and emotionally exhausting. It is terrifying. It is all about managing expectations and a bunch of other not fun stuff combined with extreme physical discomfort and this need to feel extremely secure in circumstance and and relationship and…well, I needed my whole house to be clean, RIGHT. THIS. SECOND. from 32 weeks on. Did I mention it is terrifying? Especially after infertility because you already don’t trust your body.

So, the first time around, pregnancy sucked so bad that my blood pressure was worrisome high by 38 weeks, and induce-me-now high by 39 weeks. Second time around–my blood pressure was great so long as the nurse didn’t take it while I was having a contraction. Don’t get me started on the sacrifices I made once I found out I had gestational diabetes. Food and I didn’t get along.

First time around, my postpartum c-section recovery was grueling and ridiculous and FULL. OF. TEARS. Second time around, I was shopping at Costco six days postpartum. I think the several days of labor the second time around made a difference, but still…

Caring for that newborn that won’t sleep the first time around had me beyond frazzled. I was crying for my mommy in no time (I also didn’t get any support from her father, but that is a different post). Second time around, I got this. Yes, I might have been holding him and crying simultaneously from exhaustion, but don’t take him from my arms. I can do it. I take joy in the tears and the exhaustion. Because I never thought he would exist.

Sure, there were some intense tears on the never-ending sleepless nights–like every time he latched because it was so incredibly painful–but it was different this time. I knew there would eventually be an end to the sleepless nights, which would unfortunately signal the end of babyhood for my little miracle (we still get up twice a night, minimum, so we’re good). I am taking them in stride. I will sleep eventually. Or, on the weekends. When I make my husband get up with him. I am so thankful that I’m okay with giving my baby formula sometimes. Or else I would never get any sleep. Ha!

The first time around, I was desperate for sleep because I was working 60+ hours a week to pay the bills and still falling short. I thought the sleepless nights would never end. I wished her babyhood away. This time around, well, we aren’t exactly paying all of the bills, but we are paying the ones that keep us housed and fed. Forget the rest for now. I may never get this opportunity to love my little one like this ever again.

Babies only let you hold them for so many months before they are too independent for such sentimentality. Unless there is a boo-boo. Then all bets are off. I digress.

The first time around, I lamented the fact that her father and grandfather trained her to only fall asleep while being held because this made bed time such an awful and long process. There were so many tears shed. I worked 3-11 and then came home to try to put her to bed almost every night. Sometimes it was 1 am before she would sleep.

This time, I’m here. I’m home. I would hold him to put him to sleep, but I don’t have to because we have developed healthy habits. He falls asleep in his crib.

The biggest truth for me:

It isn’t always sunshine and butterflies taking care of my little miracle. Sometimes, I just really, really need him to quit crying and take a nap. I need a minute to be an adult. But, I would still let everything else burn to sit and console him while he cries. I didn’t feel that way the first time around. I needed her to be a toddler, ASAP.

I took Eva (the seven year old) to Six Flags the other day. This meant leaving my little miracle in the care of my mother for about 8 hours.

I cried.

Don’t misunderstand me–I loved every moment I got to spend one-on-one with my daughter. But eight hours away from my little guy was the longest I have ever spent away from him. It was hard.

Now, I’m going to go off on a little tangent. You’ve been warned.

I have the greatest, most supportive pediatrician ever. She encouraged, not blatantly but in small ways, me to be mom. She wanted to know what my gut said. She wanted to know my intuition. She wanted me to hear it. I hope every mama gets there. I hope every mama gets to know what her gut and heart might be saying at any given moment about her little one. It makes such a huge difference. Some places, like at my pediatrician’s office, I don’t have to be the pushy-advocate to receive great care. But, pretty much everywhere else, I have to be that pushy advocate to make sure my babies get what they need. If my pediatrician hadn’t encouraged me to follow my gut early on, I don’t know that I would have developed the confidence to be that advocate.

The bottom line to all of this rambling way past my bedtime…

I love my babies. One may be seven and one may be approaching 16 weeks, but I still love them equally. I am caring for them in much different ways, though.

I. AM. PRESENT.

I’m not wishing away all the babyhood. I’m not wishing for a day that he will sleep, and quit vomiting, and eat solid food, and…you get the picture. I’m savoring every moment.

When I started this post, I was gonna tell you all about how I think babies are frustrating and a lot of work and blah blah. Instead, you see what happened.

Yes, there are days when I hold him, bouncing on the exercise ball with tears in my eyes and down my face because I can’t make him happy…but I wouldn’t trade a moment of that for anything else in the world.

Working From Home: Tips For Working With A Newborn

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Many days, this chain of events happens in my house:

I say a prayer thanking God for the chance to work from home. About 30 seconds later, I dream of babysitters and working surrounded by adults.

I have learned, the hard way, many things that may help others working from home with a newborn. Here’s the lowdown:

First of all, everything I am about to say is based on my time working from home while Eva was still in school or spending time with grandma. Once summer break began, things changed significantly. Anyone interested in knowing how we do it with a seven year old and a newborn, let me know in the comments.

The most important thing to remember is what I am about to say, so listen up.

Pretty much everything is a craps shoot until your baby is about six weeks old. Adjust your expectations accordingly.

Now that we got that bit of disappointing news out of the way, let me explain and let’s cover some basics. Our pediatrician cited a study as she informed me that newborns on average cry for 50 percent of their awake time every day. EVERY. DAY. Babies do sleep on average 12-20 hours a day at least. But that leaves 6-2 hours of crying. For the first 4-8 weeks, realistically expect to manage to work about an hour a day. I know this sounds extreme, but this is a great time to A.) recover if you had the baby, and B.) SLEEP! Sleep as often as possible. There is an adjustment period; adjust in increments. It will help everyone if you cut yourself some slack, sleep as much as possible, and try to be Super Woman only 50 percent of the time. The rest of time, settle for a Princess Leia level of bad ass-ed-ness, or something like that. Try not to kiss your brother, though, because that’s just weird and wrong.

A newborn’s fussiness reaches its peak around six weeks old. For us, it was like someone flipped a switch at the six week mark and I suddenly had a much happier baby.

For my son, the morning is his happiest, most content time of the day.  As soon as we wake up he eats, I eat, and then I shower. By shower, I mean a super fast 7 minute shower. I sit him in his bouncy seat by a mirror that’s on the bathroom door right inside the bathroom so I can look at him and talk to him randomly to keep us both happy. By the time we are done with these tasks and he has been changed, it’s time for a nap.

Around 8 weeks old, I started rocking him until he was almost asleep and then I would put him in his crib (I suggest using whatever you want him/her to sleep in at night so he/she associates this specific thing with sleep). It was hit and miss for about a week, with him screaming at me when I would set him down. But, once we established this routine, I could start laying him down when he was ready for a nap without rocking him for more than about 2 minutes. You’ll know when you have the best chance of getting him/her to cooperate with this plan of action by two things:
1. His/her body will be very relaxed, still, and eyes will be drifting.
2. You will be able to move around without triggering any movement or increased alertness in baby.
The reason getting your baby to nap independently is important: the less time you spend getting him/her to nap, the more time you have to use both hands to work.
A formula fed baby of average weight will go about 3-4 hours between eating. Breast fed babies go about 2-3 hours. So, once a baby is fed, they usually stay awake for about an hour. That leaves about 1-2 hours before it is time to feed that breast fed baby again, and 2-3 hours before that formula fed baby needs fed again. For babies two months and younger, expect them to only stay awake for an hour straight, max. Then it is nighty night time again.
If you have a baby who is dependent on the binky to sleep, expect that baby to only take cat naps. Plan on baby sleeping for 20 minutes at a time. Baby sleep cycles only last 20-30 minutes. Some babies wake up at the end of each cycle, while others will stay asleep and begin a new cycle. If a sleep cycle is interrupted, expect a very fussy baby who will need help falling back to sleep.
Early evening is a baby’s fussiest time. I don’t know why, it is like Sundowners for infants. For the first 6 weeks, this will be your worst time of day. I know for my son, I could count on him crying and fussing from 5 pm until I put him in his bath at 8 pm. Then I would get a reprieve for about 15-20 minutes before it continues, pausing only during feedings. From about 5-7, plan on not working during this time and take turns cooking if there are two of you.
After the six week mark, my son became more predictable and less fussy in the evening. My little guy now likes to take a nap at 7. I can practically set a clock by it. He gets unreasonably fussy and won’t stop no matter what I do until I cave and rock him to sleep. He will sleep about 45 min.
After his late nap, I give him a bath every single night. I only use soap on him every other day or so to prevent his skin from drying out too much. I am a firm believer in baths. It is so incredibly soothing for babies. We begin this once the cord stump was gone. I know people think it is a bad idea to bathe your baby every day, but really 10 minutes in some warm water is not going to hurt him. At worst, I have to slather some lotion on him (all newborns I have ever met need lots of lotion but it gets better once all the dry skin has sloughed off). After his bath, I use this time to set him in his bouncer or swing next to me and get about 20-30 minutes of work done. I couldn’t do this without a bath. He is so incredibly relaxed.
Once your baby hits about 6 weeks, patterns should start to emerge. You will notice times that he needs to nap longer, eat more frequently, stay awake longer. If you are having trouble figuring out his natural routines, download a baby tracking app. Similac and Gerber both have apps. You can time naps and enter every feeding. After a week, a pattern should emerge that will help you plan your days.
Now that we covered the basics, here are some practical tips:
Prioritize your work. Pick two things every day that MUST get done.
Put your work into two separate lists. One list consists of work that requires two hands. The other list is all work you can do one handed, with a baby that might possibly be screaming in the other arm. Save the one handed tasks for awake times. Use nap times for the two handed tasks.
Plan to work in 20-30 minute increments during nap times. If he/she sleeps longer, then you can keep at it.
Invest in an exercise ball (like the 65cm size) to use in place of a desk chair. My son is very cooperative with one handed work if I am sitting on the ball bouncing slightly. Also, holding him tight against me, belly to chest/belly with a binky in his mouth, his body swaddled, and me bouncing on the ball is sometimes the only way he goes to sleep if we are having an especially bad day (usually a day involving gas bubbles…he has the gas bubbles, not me, ha). He has pretty much given up the binky completely these days, though.
Plan to only get about 3 hours total a day that you can use both hands simultaneously for the first 3-4 months.
Check out the Ingenuity automatic bouncer seat (best part is it was only $40.00 at Target). It is the only bouncer that actually bounces…the rest just vibrate and make noise. Swings are amazing. These handy tools keep him entertained while he is awake as long as I can talk to him and smile at him every couple of minutes.
Don’t forget to try just setting the baby on his/her back in the floor next to you while you work. Sometimes babies just need space and a little freedom to move. It is usually the last thing parents try out of complete frustration only to discover that the baby quits fussy and starts looking around instead.
Talking to him constantly when he is awake and a little fussy usually keeps all-out crying at bay. Work out loud.
For the baby 0-8 weeks, a baby wrap or carrier may be your best bet at keeping the little one happy for about 30 minutes. This could be a great option if you need to make a phone call and keep the baby from screaming. My son really likes his carrier as long as I am moving…a lot. Like outside taking a walk, or in the grocery story shopping type of moving. So, I downloaded an app for my phone to automatically record phone calls. This has eliminated my need to take notes. I schedule my phone calls for times that either I will have someone else on hand who can take a crying baby or when I can strap on the baby carrier and take a walk. Luckily, I live on a relatively quiet street, and I’m in shape enough not to huff and puff while walking and talking.
Word of warning: I find it impossible to focus on the task at hand when my child is screaming in the other room, completely safe and cared for by anyone that isn’t me. I know intellectually that Dad or grandma or my friend is doing everything I would be doing and he is just upset, but I still can’t make my mind shut the sound out. I have quit fighting it and just go get him usually. So, even if you get help a day or two a week or in the evening, be flexible and do what comes natural. It will work out much better for all of you in the end.
If you know another work from home parent with a newborn, band together. Take shifts. Usually both babies won’t be fussy at exactly the same time. Take shifts. At the very least, cooperative working, or working in the same space with your babies, with someone else in the same situation will provide some encouragement and adult conversation for you.
Never underestimate the power of getting some intelligent conversation. Or caffeine. Caffeine is pretty amazing, too.
That’s all I’ve got! Good luck to you working moms!
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