Time to Deck the Halls….and Childproof Them

December 19, 2014 by carissamcburney
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The other night as I grabbed my laptop to catch up on emails and gather more Christmas ideas on Pinterest, my 17-month-old son, Eli, picked up my laptop cord and tried plugging it in our nearest outlet. Thank goodness for outlet covers!
Most parents with little children have childproofed homes, but have we all followed through with childproofing our holiday decorations?

Last Christmas, Eli could barely sit up on his own. This year he is walking…no, running…everywhere, which makes decorating our home much different from last year. We want this season to be a time of joy and magic for our family, not a time of danger. So, we are taking extra measures to ensure our decorating is also childproofed. Thank goodness for baby gates!
The best way I have found to childproof is to look at our home from Eli’s level, whether that be crawling, pulling up, or walking. Within a few days, a child’s perspective and the things a child can reach may completely change. As I looked around our home at every stage, I found things that could be a problem for Eli.
My most recent attempt at childproofing began as we started decorating for the holidays. Last year Eli couldn’t reach any table, much less the corner of our dining room table. While putting ornaments on our tree, I looked down and saw my once “little” boy wrap his hand around the handle of a fresh cup of coffee. Luckily Eli has already learned the word “hot,” but this momma learned a big lesson: I now have a big boy who can reach big things.
Last Christmas was all about watching the lights of the season for Eli. This year, Eli’s fascination has been with our Christmas tree ornaments. I quickly learned that all ornaments within his reach should be large and non-breakable. He hasn’t tried to eat any decorations yet, but we have had several ornaments launched through our house. Childproofing Christmas trees might be a great use for a baby gate!
Another thing that has changed this year is my use of candles and scented oils. I love the way these scents make my home smell, especially during the holidays. Candles and scented plug-ins once littered my home, but now they are absent from anyplace Eli could possibly reach.
Finally, since having Eli, I have started paying great attention to items that are brought into our home. Could someone have something with them that could hurt him? What has button batteries in them? A greeting card? A car remote? Does someone keep their medicine in their purse? One of Eli’s favorite things is going through bags. When hosting holiday visitors, make sure nothing dangerous is stored in their suitcases or purses where children may go exploring.
Although we can take precautions and childproof our homes, lives are not accident proof. So, I am thankful we have the West Virginia Poison Center to call and speak with medical experts in poison information 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, even during the holidays. Program their number into your phone (1-800-222-1222)—it may save a life.

Carissa McBurney is a community outreach coordinator at the West Virginia Poison Center and momma of a 17-month-old.

A Week of Firsts

December 19, 2014 by Kelly Weikle
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On Monday, I spent my first night away from AJ.

An early morning flight required a 4:30 a.m. alarm, so naturally AJ woke up at 3:00 a.m. to eat, leaving me about a half hour in between when I got her back to sleep and when my alarm was set to ring. Night 384 of terrible sleep marked off the calendar (okay, I know it hasn’t been that long since I’ve gotten a good night’s sleep, but sometimes it feels like it).

Traveling while breastfeeding requires a significant amount of planning and preparation, and the main theme of my travel seemed to be pumping, since that is what it felt like I was doing most of the time.

Most of my worrying happened before I actually left, while I was trying to build up my supply to make sure she would have enough milk for while I was away, taking into consideration that I may experience flight delays.

I had to call my hotel in advance to make sure I could get a mini fridge put into my room, and was pleased to learn that not only could I have a mini fridge, but in the event that none were available, the hotel had a special fridge for breastfeeding mothers to store their milk. It’s always a pleasant surprise when accommodations are available for pregnant women or mothers.

Another of my main worries was traveling back on the plane with my breast milk. But again, I was surprised with how easy it was. I read the TSA policy on traveling with breast milk in advance, so I knew that I was allowed to carry it on the plane, but may be asked to go through an extra security check. But I zipped through security without incident or delay; in fact I would say they might have been nicer to me than usual.

I didn’t worry about AJ while I was away, because I knew she was in good hands with her daddy. I showed all my coworkers at least fifteen more pictures than they wanted to see, and thanks to technology I was able to Facetime with AJ and Chris before her bedtime.

I wasn’t able to take advantage of the much-looked-forward-to opportunity to sleep a full night; I woke up in pain and needed to pump. (Night 385…check.)

I returned to town Tuesday morning, and that evening AJ came down with a nasty cold. She had one cold before, but it didn’t warrant a visit to the doctor. This one did. A congested cough and a stuffy nose kept her from sleeping, which kept us up all night with her. (I’m not counting nights anymore.)

So Wednesday we had our first sick visit to the doctor. Luckily, they ruled out any infections or congestion in her lungs. Not-so-luckily, there is not much that can be done for babies with a cold. Humidifiers, snot suckers and saline drops are the prescribed remedies, so that has been the make up of our bedtime routine this week.

AJ and I are both running on fumes from our big week, but we’ve gotten some of the not-so-fun firsts out of the way. Both were events I long worried about handling as a new mother, and both were less dramatic than I anticipated.

Time Travel

December 17, 2014 by Trina Bartlett
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I think my daughter’s obsession with Dr. Who is what prompted my husband to ask me the question.

“What period of time would you travel back to if you could?” he asked.

I didn’t give his question much thought.

“I wouldn’t,” I said.

My husband, an avid history buff who thought I shared his interest, looked puzzled.

“I wouldn’t want to deal with being a woman during any time but the present,” I said flatly.

My response may have been a reaction to the fact I had just finished Stephen King’s 11-22-63, in which a man travels back in time to try to prevent the Kennedy assassination. While King’s novel is a work a fiction, he paints a clear picture of how different life was for women even during those relatively modern days. He didn’t so much inform as remind me.

While I don’t have a time machine per se, I have something almost as good. I have a baby book, which my mother used to document the first few years of my life – a time about which I have no memories. When I browse through it, I am not only carried back in time, I am reminded of how expectations of women have changed greatly during the last 50 years.

Take, for example, my birth announcement.IMG_1babybook3

Considering whom my mother was and whom I would become, the announcement could not have been more ridiculous. It featured a toddler in a crown and a sash with the words “Our New Miss America is Finally Here.” I’m quite certain my mother never would have forgiven herself had her daughter grown up with any desire to enter beauty contests. I’m just as certain that the available birth announcements in rural Montana in early 1967 were quite limited, so she probably didn’t have much choice.

Just as she probably had no choice about how her name would be listed in the hospital announcements in the local newspaper. Instead of having her own name listed, she was listed as my father’s wife. She was the one who had endured nine months of pregnancy and the birth, but my father was basically given credit.

baby book 2ow, nearly 48 years later, I don’t even have my husband’s last name, and few people question that. Nor do they question the endless possibilities for my smart and talented daughter who recently leafed through the pages of my baby book with a mix of interest and disbelief.

Apparently, her interest in time travel isn’t limited to Dr. Who, but I’m fairly certain she finds a great deal more potential in the future than in the past.

And that is exactly as life should be.

This Too Shall Pass

December 12, 2014 by Kelly Weikle
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“This too shall pass” – a well-known adage and my new life motto.

The saying is often used when referring to a hardship or struggle, but its true meaning is twofold, and that’s how I use it. I say it to myself when I’m having a rough day or when AJ is going through a phase that is hard on mommy, and I use it as a reminder that the good times will pass just as quickly as the hard times.

When AJ was a newborn and we couldn’t stop her cries, I told myself, “This too shall pass,” and it did.

When I was dealing with the baby blues and hormones that come after having a baby, I knew it would pass. It did.

This week, we had one glorious full night of sleep, followed by four nights of not-so-good sleep. This too shall pass.

The toothless smile, the surprise on her face when she makes a new noise for the first time, those will pass too.

The good and the bad that comes with raising a baby, it all goes by too quickly. At lunch this week, some of my coworkers were talking about being baseball coaches, serving on school committees, carpooling kids and traveling for extracurricular activities. Before I know it, those days will be upon us. The days of AJ being a baby will pass and she will grow.

I know AJ is only four months old, but as we approach our first Christmas, I’m feeling the passage of time oh so strongly. This time last year, I had just found out I was expecting. It felt like forever until I would spend Christmas with my baby, and yet here we are, and I feel like I barely blinked.

We aren’t able to fast-forward through the rough parts and press “pause” on the easy parts. And for good reason; the hard times make us appreciate the good and the two are often intertwined. When I’m up at 4 a.m. feeding AJ, I get to see her sweet face and hold her tiny body. She won’t stay tiny for long and she won’t be eating at 4 a.m. forever.

This too shall pass – a silent prayer of strength, and a constant reminder to enjoy this time as much as possible.

The Naked Christmas Tree

December 10, 2014 by Trina Bartlett
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There is a naked fir tree in my living room right now. Well, it’s not completely naked. A  few lights  are strung around its fragrant limbs, but the lights aren’t on so the tree looks much the same as it did on a hilly farm only days agochristmas tree

My family hasn’t had time to decorate. We barely even found the time together to get the tree. Our days of leisurely trips to the tree farm are long gone. Choosing the tree has become a mission that must be executed with precision to insure we all make our next appointment or activity.

Every time I pass by the living room, the naked tree serves as a reminder of life as it is today: more things to do than we have time to do, the energy and opportunity to do them and an appreciation that the fullness of each and every day.

The unpacked brown cardboard boxes and plastic crates that surround the tree serve as reminders of life as it once was. Most of our holidays decorations and ornaments represent a person, an event, a pet, an interest or a special occasion. Collectively, they  have written the history of my family’s life. Almost every object has a story that we read each December, put in a place of honor then pack away for eleven months only to be taken out the next year and read again.

Our new kitten Artemis, who adopted us a couple of months ago, serves as a reminder that life will be different in the years to come.  In fewer than 24 months, Artemis will be a full-grown cat who may or may not be jumping at the limbs of the Christmas tree and poking her pink nose into the boxes of decorations. My son will be in college and may or may not be participating in the family’s annual pilgrimage to get the tree. And I’ll be older and  shaped by circumstances I can’t even begin to predict today.

There is a naked fir tree in my living room right now, but it won’t remain naked much longer. Soon, it will be decorated, glowing and the center of celebration. After the presents are opened, the cookies eaten and the holiday meals enjoyed, it will stand in my living room for a few more days, but it won’t receive the attention it once did. If history holds true, we will forget to water the tree, and the needles will dry up and start to fall out.

By New’s Year Day, the ornaments will once again be packed up, the tree will be dragged to the curb and the needles will be vacuumed. All that will remain of this year’s Christmas tree will be photos, a few ornaments and the memories attached to both.

Time marches on, and change is a constant. We can’t hold on to the past, and we shouldn’t try. But we can hold on to traditions. They are the architects of memories and the link between the past and the future. They can also be found anywhere we can find family – even in a naked Christmas tree.

Mommy Fails

December 5, 2014 by Kelly Weikle
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Dear AJ,

Despite what you may think, your mom is not perfect. She is still getting used to this whole motherhood thing. We’ve had some minor bumps in the road, but thankfully they have all been something we can laugh about. I thought you (and my fellow moms and other readers) may enjoy learning about some of my many “mommy fails” from these first few months. Enjoy:

Some days, you go through so many outfits that you end up just hanging out in your diaper. Don’t worry, it’s warm in our house.

Going through an entire bottle of laundry detergent before realizing it was actually fabric softener. At least it was the sensitive skin kind?

Clipping your skin instead of your nail the first time I tried to clip those itty bitty baby fingernails. You didn’t seem to notice. But when I did it again a few weeks later…screams ensued. Maybe we should leave that task to your dad from now on.

Every single voice mail I leave the pediatrician’s office. I’ve made several middle-of-the-night calls that include something along the lines of, “I think…but maybe not…but I read this online…well I just wanted to make sure…I’m sorry I can’t remember…again my name is…” I’m sure they love me. (Side note – The return calls have always been, “She’s fine.”)

Accidentally giving you your acid reflux medicine with day-old leftover milk that I had failed to put in the sink instead of the milk that I got out of the fridge to use. I was a walking zombie at the time and only discovered my mistake after you were finished with the bottle. You weren’t phased.

Always, always forgetting to bring some sort of baby item and then always needing said baby item. Most common items include burp clothes, extra clothes and the entire diaper bag.

Finding out you had not been added to our insurance because I failed to click the final “confirm and submit” button on the online form, which led to many phone calls to make sure you were added and covered and many tears on my part. Apparently extreme sleep deprivation leads to a sharp decline in reading comprehension and computer skills. In the end, everything was resolved and I owe a big thanks to the people who helped me.

Dropping the humidifier into your crib AS YOU ARE SLEEPING in said crib. Luckily I didn’t drop it ON you. Water went everywhere. You were napping and startled awake when the humidifier hit the mattress, but went right back to sleep and didn’t move an inch while the water soaked your entire backside before I could pick you up. Turns out the first time that plastic baby mattress came in handy was because of mommy, not AJ.

And last but not least, you have no clean pajamas or towels at the moment.

As you can see AJ, I’m navigating this new life just like you are. But despite my mishaps, I think we make a pretty good team. And most importantly, please know I am trying my very hardest to be the best mommy to you that I can be!

Love,

Mommy

A Mother’s Heart

December 3, 2014 by Trina Bartlett
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What my brain wants for my children is often very different from what my heart wants.heart

For years, my brain (and therefore my mouth) has insisted that one of my primary responsibilities as a mom is to ensure that my children grow to be independent and self-reliant individuals.

My heart should be grateful that my two teenagers want the same thing. At least, they want the independent part. Their inclination to be self-reliant is a bit questionable based on their expectations that their parents continue to provide them with  shelter, transportation, money and food.

Other than those minor exceptions, they generally don’t express nearly as much need for their parents as they once did, nor do they have much use for our knowledge and advice.

With lingering memories of my own distorted sense of maturity as a teenager, I  usually don’t let my children’s dismissal of my abilities bother me.

I’ve actually become quite accustomed to it, which is why I appreciate when they suddenly recognize they still need me.

Such was the case this week when my procrastinating son realized the deadline to complete a school-related projected was way too close. Not only did he ask for my help and suggestions, he actually listened to me and took my advice.

Despite my insistence that I want him to be independent, I must admit that I rather liked the fact he still needs me, Something tells me, I’ll feel that way no matter how old he is or what he’s doing with his life.

My brain may be spot on with its efforts to ensure my children grow into responsible adults, but I’m pretty sure my heart is also spot on with its efforts to hold them tight.

I’m pretty sure that’s a conflict I took on the day I became a mom. It’s also one conflict that I don’t mind negotiating.

There is, after all, no way I can lose.

Practicing Patience

November 28, 2014 by Kelly Weikle
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Being a new parent can be stressful. You constantly are encountering new situations to navigate and new problems to solve. We had our own test of problem solving and patience last weekend.

We left a holiday party, picked up the baby from her grandparents’ house and were on our way home. It was around 10:15 p.m. and we were tired and the baby had woken up. As we headed down the Interstate we heard a “POP! Zzzzz” and saw the little red light appear on the dashboard. It was obvious we had a flat.

Our first priority was to get to a safe place, so we creeped down the shoulder of the Interstate to the next exit. By the time we stopped in a parking lot, our tire was in shreds.

We were still far from home, it was late and cold, and the baby had started to cry. The situation seemed dire. Frustration started to set in and my husband and I were on the verge of getting cross with each other. Then, to make matters worse, our car jack broke, meaning we had to call for help and spend even longer in the car.

Luckily we quickly realized arguing would get us nowhere. We were stuck and it was going to take some time to get us moving again. The only thing we could do was be patient and remain calm.

I got into the back seat with AJ and Chris tackled the tire. After a few ups and downs, we were back on the road and made it safely home.

In the end, AJ handled the bump in the road (pun intended) the best of the three of us. After a few minutes, she went to sleep and stayed asleep. We didn’t get home until around 11:30 p.m. and when I finally stopped holding my breath, I realized things weren’t that bad. The whole ordeal had taken only about an hour and we were safely at home and the baby was safely asleep.

Although frustrating, it was a situation that was out of our control. By taking a few moments to calm down, we were able to take care of the baby and solve our tire problem, without having the situation turn into something worse. And so as I learn time and time again, having a little patience in less-than-ideal situations can lead to a better end-result.

A Different Kind of Thanksgiving

November 26, 2014 by Trina Bartlett
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Since the beginning of November, I’ve been seeing social media posts discouraging retail stores from opening on Thanksgiving Day.

I get that. Thanksgiving is intended to be a time for families and friends to spend quality and meaningful time together. But whether or not stores open on Thanksgiving, there will always be people who have to work.

I should know. I grew up in such a family and I married into another. Because of that, I am fascinated by the people who are oblivious to the moms and dads who have to work regardless of a special day on the calendar.

Anyone who watches the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade or football games should recognize  all of the people who have to work to make those events possible and broadcast them.

Anyone who expects up-to-date news and information should recognize that reporters and editors are hard at work trying to keep the world informed.

Anyone who  is traveling and needs gasoline or a meal on the way to the family feast should recognize that the clerks and cooks and waiters providing that service probably want to be with their own families.

Anyone who is feeling sick should recognize that health care providers are at work or on call  regardless of the day or time.

Police officers are still on patrol, movie theaters are still open and hotels are available for weary travelers on every holiday.

And for that, I am appreciative. I am also appreciative that this year, my husband does not have to work on Thanksgiving or on Christmas. But he has on previous years, and my children learned to accommodate. In doing so, they received a great gift: they learned that celebrating isn’t so much about the actual date or time but about cherishing special  moments with people we love.

Here’s wishing everyone those moments of celebration this upcoming holiday season.

A New Mom’s List of Thanks

November 21, 2014 by Kelly Weikle
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Next week I will celebrate my first Thanksgiving as a mom. I have many things to be thankful for that don’t involve motherhood, but I thought I would share some of the things for which I am thankful as a mom (list is not comprehensive – I could list pages and pages but I’ll stick to the basics).

This year, I am thankful for:

Epidurals. Ms. “I want to have a natural birth” got the epidural and I have never made a better decision. I think my husband would agree; it was a lifesaver.

Nurses who help their patients with things I cannot even imagine helping someone with. The nurses who took care of me in the hospital were compassionate, caring and generally amazing.

My doctors and AJ’s pediatrician. What can I say about the people who made sure my little one made it into the world safely, made sure I was healthy and now make sure AJ stays healthy? I respect and rely on our doctors more than I can say and I know they truly care about our well-being.

Sleep. Glorious, uninterrupted sleep. This is one of those “you don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone” kind of things. Oh how I miss sleeping in on Saturdays. I’m thankful I once got to sleep so soundly.

Only waking up once a night to feed AJ. After waking up every two hours for weeks on end, once a night is nothing. I remember thinking the day would never come. It did, and I was so grateful.

Velcro swaddle blankets. This wonderful invention helped us reach those amazing once-a-night feedings.

Our family and our friends. I am beyond thankful that we have loving, supportive family members and friends that care about and love AJ and us. We were overwhelmed with the good wishes, help and love we received when AJ was born. Chris and I are truly lucky to have such wonderful people in our lives.

Baby Zantac. If you have had a baby with acid reflux, you know this stuff is like gold.

Coffee. Oh how I missed it while pregnant, and although I still closely monitor my caffeine intake, I’m back to enjoying my morning cup.

The “speak to a nurse” option at my pediatrician’s office – a great resource for when you want to know if your baby’s poop is a normal color.

Daycare. AJ seems to really enjoy going to daycare and they take such good care of her. They also love to feed my mom ego by saying things like, “She is just such a beautiful baby!”

My coworkers. Going back to work was made much easier by the warm welcomes I received.

My husband who gets up at night to change diapers, takes out the dog at 6 a.m. and who tells me I have a beautiful voice when I sing lullabies off-key (which is always).

My mom friends. I’m so glad I have good friends who I can spend hours talking to about stroller brands and baby fingernails and the best way to get a baby to take a nap without them wanting to poke their eyes out (or if they do, they hide it well).

Google. HOW did moms survive without Google??

Smart phones. Again, HOW?

Mommy blogs. There is nothing more therapeutic for me than to read the honest and wonderful stories moms around the world are sharing. It’s so helpful to know you are not alone.

And of course, I am most thankful for my healthy, happy, wonderful baby girl. She has changed my life in a million ways and I’m thankful for every one of them.

Happy Thanksgiving!