Road trips: Driving Overnight

Wisconsin to California. This is our yearly vacation plan. My in-laws live in  California and with that comes some interesting discussions in my family. We have flown, driven without stopping for the night, and taken three days with some rather small children to make this trip. This past summer was no different. Starting in January we began to make plans for our trip. My husband only gets two weeks of vacation, so getting to and from California as quickly and safely as possible is always the goal. Flying is really too expensive now with five of us, so driving is where we started planning. We realized that it would be faster to leave on a Sunday afternoon then to wait for Monday morning and so the plan was hatched to drive through the night on Sunday. We survived but we did learn some things along the way.

Stop to Sleep

Now this may not sound like the way to drive thru the night. We found as we traveled deeper into the night that it got harder and harder to stay awake, which I mean makes sense. As this happened more and more we decided to pull over for an hour or so to try to take a nap as best we could. We found a well lit parking lot and tried to get some sleep. This was the best thing we could have done. When we pulled out of the parking lot an hour and a half later, we felt rested and much more ready to tackle a few more miles on the road. If your planning a trip that has you driving through the night, give yourself a break. Allow yourself the freedom to take a catnap along the way.

Crunchy Snacks/Caffeinated Beverages

Once the sun goes down and your driving in the dark, having something for your mouth to do can help you stay awake. We had made our own trail mix and pretzel mix before we left. We enjoyed these snacks throughout the night. We also bought Monster energy drinks and had some caffeinated soda in our travel mugs from the last gas station. Plan snacks that maybe aren’t something you would get normally so it is a special treat.  It makes the trip have a little bit of fun, while having a duel purpose of helping you stay awake.

Pillows/Blankets

Not for the driver, but for the passengers. We had three young children in the back of our vehicle. we wanted them to sleep through the night as much as possible. Because of this yearly trip our kids get a child sized neck pillow on their first birthday. We also took along car sized blankets for them to cover up with. Not only do these work as comfort items and to help with keeping the kids warm. It helps to give a routine to set a sleep time. On the last stop before we wanted them actually go to sleep for awhile we actually sort of tuck them into their car seats for the night.

Be Ready for Anything

Be flexible. Realize that this may not work the way you wanted it to. During this 30 hour driving marathon we actually ended up getting a flat tire pretty much in the middle of no where. The kids ended up eating breakfast on the side of the road while my husband and I (mostly my husband) changed the tire so we could continue on our journey.

What are some ways you have made travelling with kids bearable? have you found any secrets that have made different parts of your trip more enjoyable or things you may never try again? Leave a comment below.

Why I Love Labor Day

Many people think of Labor Day as the end of summer, but for those of us who thrive on schedules and routine it marks the end of a time when routine and schedules are not as easy to follow. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy summer vacation. But I can handle only so much of it, before I am begging for school to start again. Even as a teacher I feel this way. I can’t wait for school to start. It brings back the routine I need to find some sanity in my life. With the start of school comes Labor Day weekend, which has it’s own benefits for helping ease the transition of back to school.

The Long Weekend

This year my daughter and I had school for three days before we hit the three day weekend. It got my family back into the routine and my students at school through those first few days of organization and procedure teaching. We were rewarded with a long weekend. Although my family is usually quite busy over the weekends, we had one extra day during which we were able to do a family activity together.

Chaos of Summer Ends

No longer am I running around trying to fit in visiting with family, doing fun things with my kids, and still trying to find time to work, but I can know have a schedule that simplifies my life. Yeah, my kids go to bed ridiculously early, but they have activities planned each day whether that be school or daycare. I know what needs to happen when in order for my day and theirs to be successful.

A Break from the Schedule

Getting back into the school routine is hard, even for people who thrive off of living on a schedule. For my family and I getting those few days to make the schedule work and then having days where we don’t need to live on such tight schedule really helps everyone reset and be ready to go back to the schedule on Tuesday. It gives us a chance to reevaluate and make changes to our schedule so hopefully everything can run more efficiently.

Relaxing, Family Time

My family doesn’t always get to relax around the holidays. Our holidays are rather busy with my husband working most of them. This is one holiday where he doesn’t work and we are able to enjoy time as a family. This year is was as simple as being able to go on a picnic. Yes, it was slightly chilly, but it was something that got us away from our house and let us focus on ourselves and our kids.

Do you enjoy the Labor Day weekend? Do you have any traditions that you do on Labor Day weekend? Is the end of summer awaited eagerly at your house? Let us know in the comments below.

World Breastfeeding Week: My Nursing Journey

When I first became a mother, I had no idea I would be so passionate about breastfeeding.  I intended to do it, personally, but didn’t think much more about it until after I was in the thick of nursing my first baby…

World Breastfeeding Week My Nursing Journey

Pregnant with my first baby, I had every intention of breastfeeding.  It seemed obvious, natural, convenient, and inexpensive.

It turned out to be none of those!

Let me be frank – breastfeeding my first baby was the hardest thing I’ve ever undertaken as a mother.

On Day 2 of life, he was a very sleepy little man.  I didn’t know any better, and let him sleep instead of waking him to feed.

By Day 5 of life, he wasn’t gaining and my milk hadn’t come in.

By Day 14 of life, nurses were using the term “Failure to Thrive.” Still wasn’t gaining.  Still not a good milk supply.  I started pumping, and taking herbs, and drinking dark beer, and overhydrating, and pumping and pumping and pumping.

Day 16: Nipple shields, and a SNS (Supplemental Nursing System – essentially a tube supplying formula at the breast.)

Day 18: Supplementing with formula

Day 20: Nipple confusion.  Refusing the breast unless half asleep.  Commence exclusive pumping.

After exclusively pumping (but baby still needing half his intake in formula) I finally got him back on the breast at four months.

I was also working full time as a teacher in a small school.  I had no legally mandated breaks.  I power pumped every night (for hours!!!) and never did have a good supply.

But we soldiered on.  Finally, for my sanity, we switched to all formula during the day and I put away my pump.  I nursed in the wee hours of the morning and as he fell asleep at night, and treasured my ability to do at least that.  We kept it up until two weeks shy of his first birthday, when he suddenly and completely weaned himself.

 

So, it isn’t necessarily easy, or natural, or convenient.  What an eye opener!

 

When I had my second baby, I made some changes.  Most dramatically, I put my teaching career on hold and became a full-time, professional mother.

Secondly, also extremely importantly, I had a wonderful midwife and birth center during my pregnancy, delivery, and postpartum.  She guided me in exactly the natural methods I was hoping for, and encouraged my nursing in a much less clinical fashion.

I undertook the theory that I would nurse no matter what.  Any time this baby fussed, I let him nurse.  I ignored the clock completely, and offered the breast any time he cried or rooted, even if he had just stopped nursing five minutes before.

We nursed round the clock.  I didn’t sleep train, I didn’t offer a bottle.  Ever. (As it turns out, it’s not all roses – he never did take a bottle, ever, and he was up constantly until almost a year.  Exhausting!)

But we succeeded.  By his two week checkup, he had not only regained his birth weight (the goal), he had GAINED a POUND AND A HALF.  What?!  He was almost 20 pounds by six months.  A hulking, happy baby.  Suddenly, nursing was convenient and easy and natural and wonderful.

 

I’ve had a complicated journey.  I’ve experience personal failure, and success.  I had a skinny baby who had a hard time nursing, and a fat baby who was obsessed with nursing.  I have nothing but empathy for anyone trying to feed their baby in any way.  Through it all, I’ve enjoyed public nursing (yes, enjoyed!) sometimes covered and sometimes not.  I have an arsenal of wonderful breastfeeding memories that I will share in another post.  I’m invested in helping other mommas be successful in nursing, if that’s their desire, and hope someday that our culture can get fully behind normalized breastfeeding.

But not every pro-breastfeeding hippie crunchy momma has had a sunshine-and-rainbows experience!  It’s a rollercoaster sometimes, but I wouldn’t trade any of those precious nutritional snuggles despite the struggles.

Share your journey below, or link to your own story!  I love to hear from other nursing mommas!

YouTube Giveaway! ft. Eventide Creations Wi

Hey blog readers!

I just wanted to pass along a giveaway opportunity that is going on my YouTube channel!

A fellow momma makes some wonderful embossed coffee mugs, and I’m giving one away on my channel to celebrate our 50 subscribers!  (Which is actually now 65 subscribers…)

!!! I HAVE EXTENDED THE LENGTH OF THE GIVEAWAY FOR AN ADDITIONAL WEEK!  NOW ENDING SUNDAY, 6/18/17!!!

Best of luck!

March Favorites

Happy Friday!  My five March favorites:

Style: John’s Crazy Socks!

Beauty: Tony Moly sheet masks

Kids: Activity books

Random #1: Our Q&A: 3 Year Journal for 2 People

Random #2: Locally sourced coffee

 

*This post contains affiliate links.  That doesn’t impact your online shopping or prices.  If you choose to purchase the items linked, I may receive a small affiliate commission from Amazon.  (Literally something like 5 cents.)

When Your Toddlers Says He Doesn’t Love You

“Do you love Momma?”

“No. Ninus love Daddy.”

crumpled paper. Text: When your toddler says, "I don't love you!"

Well, stab me in the heart, why don’t ya.

First of all, never ask a child that question.  I know this, intellectually, but it just slipped out as part of regular banter with my three-year-old.  And just as quickly and uncalculated came his response.  “No.”

Now, this child has ALWAYS preferred his Daddy.  Since the day he was born, no exaggeration.  When he gets hurt or scared he will run right past me to my husband.  This, I am used to.

But what parent wants to actually hear about it, straight from the tot’s mouth?!

I am deeply familiar with child development.  I know he isn’t actually developmentally capable of understanding “love” as an abstract concept.  To him, it’s the same thing as “like” or “prefer.”  And he is a very honest, transparent child, so of course he answered that way.

He still calls for me from his room in the morning.  He still wants me to read him a book every nap time, and lie with him at bed time and sing songs.  He still wants to sit on my lap (sometimes) and help me cook and follow me around all day.  I can be sure he does love me, because of his actions.

That thought gives me pause.  Is this just the opposite of what we so often do as adults?  We verbally tell our children that we love them, but do our actions prove or disprove that?

My toddler’s actions hold much more weight to me than his words about not loving me.  I bet my actions do the same for him.  A million “I love you, baby!”s are not worth as much as sitting and playing trains (a cluttery activity that makes me impatient) or singing a 27th song at 9:00 pm (when I’m practically asleep myself!) or patiently helping him clean up his messes (no matter how gross… thank you, potty training.)

 

To summarize:
1) Never ask your toddler if he/she loves you unless you’re prepared for a “No.”
2) Toddlers can remind us that loving actions are far more important than nice words.

How To: Motivate Yourself to Finish Tasks

Raise your hand if you look at your mountain of dishes or laundry or paperwork and just feel defeated before you begin.  Here’s some ideas about how to motivate yourself to tackle those chores.

(a cup of coffee next to a mountain of paperwork) Text: How To: Motivate Yourself to Finish Tasks

Get Dressed

I mean, I hope you’re wearing some kind of clothes, anyway.  Awkward.

But what I’m getting at is actually getting ready in the morning.  Whatever “ready” is for you.  Get out of your pajamas, clean up, fix your hair (whatever that means to you, again.)

For this momma, that means putting on the same level of real clothes every day, whether I’m leaving my house or not.  It usually means a little makeup – personal preference.  A washed face and brushed teeth and the same hairstyle I wear literally every day (my hair is its whole own saga.  Ha.)  I could fly out the house without doing anything but putting on shoes.

Looking put together helps you feel put together.  If that sounds shallow, try it.  Game-changer.

Coffee/Tea

I enjoy my morning tea and afternoon coffee while working on my planner, writing up my shopping list, working on goal-setting, or other seated tasks.  Sometimes I use “sitting down with a hot beverage and doing nothing” as a self-imposed reward for accomplishing my chores, as well.

Speaking of Rewards

I don’t believe that every self care should be dependent upon you finishing some chore.  That’s a dangerous slope of self-induced guilt and stress.  But sometimes it can help to do something special, just for you, after completing something you’re particularly dreading.

For me, that looks like painting my nails if I get my nighttime routine done before 9 pm.  Going to the coffee shop on Sundays (have you seen my Instagram?!) if I do a sink of dishes first.  Things that are entirely extra, just for fun, occasional indulgences.

Music

Playing music can be a great motivator and stress reducer.  I find I especially appreciate music while cooking dinner – it’s the witching hour when my antsy kids are waiting for Dad to come home, and I can’t carry them around because I’m using knives and stoves.  They are entertained by my ridiculous dancing (I’m a HORRIBLE dancer!) and my frantic waiting-for-backup feelings are kept at bay.

Timer

This one doesn’t work well for me, personally, because my dog barks at timers and my dog’s barking grates on my nerves.  But I’ve heard of people having great success with setting a timer for just 5 or 10 minutes and seeing how much they can pick up in that time, or how many dishes they can wash, or how many clothes they can fold.  It proves that the actual time commitment of completing your housekeeping is not as big as it sounds, and is a fun challenge.  Instead of using a timer, I do the next trick…

Finish something while waiting

There are lots of little pockets of waiting in my day.  I wait for a toddler to use the bathroom, my husband to get out of the shower, tea/coffee water to heat.  For the resulting tea/coffee to steep/brew.  I wait for the kids’ 15 minutes of playtime after lunch before nap, for the washer (which takes longer than the dryer) to finish, for the kids to get done with their baths (that’s a Dad duty).

I smash a task into each of those time slots, which has the effect of the task getting done quickly, and added benefit of saving bigger chunks of time for more enjoyable activities.

Specifically, I wipe down the bathroom while my toddler’s in there.  I pick up our bedroom and check the weather and pick out my clothes while my husband showers.  My phone comes out to check social media while my water is heating (it helps me keep that time in check!) I do as many dishes as I can while my kids play before naptime.  I fold some laundry while I’m waiting for the washer.  The house gets picked up and vacuumed while my kids are in the bathtub.

This method is doubly helpful when it comes to things I MUST do while the kids are awake (vacuuming, cleaning their Jack-and-Jill bathroom) because during many of these little pockets of time, they are otherwise occupied.

Your turn! Do you have any tricks to motivate yourself for your tasks?  Leave them in the comments!