Let him be three.

Parenting is hard.  I think I’ve written that sentence more in this blog than any other sentence… but its true.  Kids are wild, they get sick, they are demanding, they don’t sleep, they throw tantrums, etc etc.  They’re tiny little terrors and completely worth every bit of crazy they put you through.  I love my own kids so much I can’t even attempt to describe it here.  They are my life.  However, I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that parenting them is difficult.  At my best, I feel like I’m only doing an okay job.  That feeling is worse when you’re approached by an outsider about their behavior.

Recently my son started his second year of preschool.  He was so excited to go back.  He loves school.  He comes home and tells us about his day and sings the song they teach him. Being that he enjoys it so much, I was pretty shocked when his teacher approached me one afternoon and asked, “does he always flap his hands?”  I was caught off guard and said “well, yeah.  He always has.  He mostly does it when he’s excited or running.”  She then continued on to ask me “does he have any other obsessive behaviors?”  I was becoming pretty irritated at this point.  She was asking me a ton of questions, in the presence of my child, with no context. Long story short, after only having my son in her class for one week… she had determined that something was wrong with him.  She was concerned about his “parallel playing, hand flapping, obsessive behavior of closing the bathroom door when other children were in there, not listening, etc.”  She recommended having a specialist come in to observe his behavior.

Being the overly paranoid, OCD, stress-case of a mother that I am, I cried all weekend.  I’d only ever seen my son as the perfect little 3 year old that he is.  His hand flapping, which I had noticed over the years, seemed pretty normal to me.  He is growing and learning so much every single day and absorbing everything.  Its a coping mechanism.  I equated it to my obsessive need to lick my lips the ENTIRE time I am shopping at Target.  I don’t know why it happens, but I know that it makes me feel better about being in a crowded store.  I’d noticed that my son is cautious.  I know that he takes a while to warm up.  He will talk to a kid after he gets to know them, in an environment that he feels comfortable.  No, I didn’t know that he slams the door every time a child goes to the bathroom… but I do know that we close the door when we go to relieve ourselves and well… most people do.  And of course he doesn’t listen.  He’s 3 years old.  He has been on this Earth for 3 years.  There is a whole lot left to learn.  He is a CHILD.

Despite knowing these things — I still found myself telling my son to put his hands by his side.  I told him not to flap his hands.  I tried to MAKE him talk to children… almost feeling depressed/irritated when he wouldn’t.  I wanted to scream.  In a few ignorant statements, this teacher caused me to go from seeing my son as a bright, beautiful, perfect little 3 year old to a child that was flawed, socially challenged, with a possible real problem.  I am not perfect.  I had a few moments of confusion and panic, but eventually I realized that I didn’t like the way I felt around my son anymore.  I was seeing his personality as a flaw rather than how I’d seen it just days before– which was unique and beautiful.  Nothing had changed with him.  His mannerisms and behaviors were still the same.  So why did I feel this way?  I was allowing someone’s  quick judgments to cloud my own judgment and perception.  I was allowing the joy I felt about and with my child to be taken.  I wasn’t going to allow it anymore.

Next week we will have a screening done for my son.   He will go to a “special school” to play and professionals will watch and judge him.  I will listen to what they have to say but I won’t take it to heart.  I know my child.  I know his personality.  I know he is cautious, a bit anxious, incredibly smart, hilarious, sweet and wild haha.  I know he has a one-track mind like his dad did at his age.  I know he has trouble approaching groups like I did.  I know that no matter what, I will help him, love him and cherish him every step of the way.

As for his teacher, and everyone else for that matter– I think its important to remember that kids should be kids. A 3 year old should be a 3 year old.  If they slam a door to get a reaction, this shouldn’t be immediately considered an obsessive behavior.  I encourage everyone to stop finding fault in others. I am not naïve to the fact that there are potential disorders that kids could have that need special attention.  However, there are also quirks and behaviors that are typical for a 3 year old.  We need to have common sense.  As for my child, no teacher should have determined that my son had special needs after only knowing him and having him in a classroom for 1 week.  If it turns out that he needs special attention, that’s fine.  But for now, he needs to be 3.  He needs to play, learn social norms, learn how to approach and talk to others.  He deserves the time and our patience to figure this world out.

(I wrote this 6 months ago.  My goal is to incorporate more posts from my previous blog into the blog I have now… –Now that I am coming to terms with many things involving my children and am willing to share them with those I know, and those I don’t.  I read this tonight and still stand by it 100 percent. 6 months later my son is still as wonderful and amazing as he was then.  He struggles with things… but don’t we all?  Also, I hear his teacher has retired- and future toddlers are better because of it. ha!)

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Quick Tip Tuesday: Target Red Perks & Cartwheel


I am addicted to Target.  There, I said it.  Admitting it is the first step right? hahaha.  My first job was at Target, so this has been a long obsession.  As for me, I didn’t need any reason to go there more often… but good o’l Target is always looking out for me and they developed a few really good reasons to shop there… for everything.

1- Red perks.
2- Cartwheel.

So if you’re a Target regular you may already know about these sweet treats… but if you’re only there every now and then, you may want to take advantage of these offers and visit more often.

My first obsession was Cartwheel.  Cartwheel is a money saving app at Target.  You get a certain number of “free spots” and you can add featured products for the week and save a certain percent off on these items when shopping.  You download the app to your phone and the cashier scans it at checkout.  Your discount is applied right there.  Now, you can even scan the items in your cart before you get to the checkout to see if anything you bought is featured on cartwheel.  I love it!  If you’re not brand specific in your purchases, it can show you similar items that are on cartwheel if your selected item isn’t featured.  I’ve had Cartwheel for a 2 years or so… and have saved over $400!  I’ll take it!

In the same app as cartwheel, is Red perks.  Previously, these were different apps but Target made it convenient by putting them together! Basically red perks is a way to earn points for every dollar spent.  10 points for every dollar.  Once you reach 5000 points you can choose from a list of freebies!  Let me tell you something about Red Perks.  I haven’t bought a package of baby wipes in months.  One of the freebies is any brand wipes up to $10.  (This used to be 20, so I was bummed when they bumped it down to $10, but hey, you can’t have it all I guess).  Anyway, I shop at Target so often that I get to the 5000 pts fairly quickly and always choose wipes!! Other examples of featured freebies are:  free pajamas, sunglasses, laundry detergent, movie/cds/books, coffee, pet item, etc.   At one point I know that this feature was only available in certain markets.  I’m not sure if this is still the case… but if so, come on Target!  Give it to everyone! Its awesome!  And if you’re listening, my store could really use a Starbucks– and a babysitter.

Okay, so …there you go.  My tip for today.  If you’re going to go to Target and spend money anyway, may as well find ways to save! Right?   Do you enjoy money saving perks at other stores?  Share your favorites in the comments!

Why I won’t spank my kids

[note:  this opinion is solely my own! it is what works for me and my family. everyone is doing their best to parent the best way they know how.  I can appreciate all parenting techniques. people I know and love discipline all sorts of ways and they are wonderful parents. This isn’t meant to offend– it is just something that has been weighing on me and I felt like writing about it. love you all! ]
Tonight I’m posting about something that has been on my mind and on my heart lately. I’m not sure why I feel so compelled to write about it, perhaps because my son is 4 and he lives to try my patience. At some point in each day I sit with my head in my hands and wonder how I can make him listen! It is so frustrating and so perplexing. I wonder what I can do to make him do what he is supposed to do.

When it comes to discipline I’ve tried just about everything. Time out, taking away privileges or toys, etc. I’ve even tried “spanking.” (In quotes because they weren’t the spankings I got as a kid.) I’ve heard it time and time again from older family members, etc…, “He wouldn’t act like that if you spanked him.” “What he needs is a good spanking.” In my most insecure parenting moments I’ve taken these comments to heart and felt that maybe I was being a bad parent by NOT spanking my son. So… a few times here and there I’ve popped him on the butt. A little pop here or there to get him to really pay attention to what I’m saying. NEVER anything more. Guess what? A little pop here or there, still feels terrible. It still sucks. and oh yeah, it doesn’t work in the long run (or even in the short sometimes).

So, spanking. Let me tell you all the reasons I won’t spank my child. First of all, it feels wrong. Nothing about striking my child feels okay. My children are precious and I don’t want anything to hurt them. Or anyone. Including their parents. Even if it is a socially acceptable form of discipline. It is not acceptable in my house.

Studies over the past 30 years have shown time and time again that spanking is ineffective long term. It is a quick fix. It is lazy parenting. (Don’t take offense to this, we’re all lazy parents at some point in some way). I don’t want to be lazy in this VERY important part of my life. I want to be a good mother that understands my children. I want to see behind the reasons they act out. I want to listen to them, understand them and react accordingly. Spanking is dangerous because it is lashing out from our own frustrations. I think that sometimes spanking can be more of a release of frustration from ourselves instead of an appropriate discipline technique for our children. How is that okay? We tell our children not to hit. Keep their hands to themselves. Don’t act out… and through spanking we contradict every bit of what we’re saying.

Spanking is confusing for a child. Personally, I was spanked, and yes, it worked. (In that I was terrified to do anything wrong). I feared it to the point of feeling sick at the threat of it. My parents didn’t take joy in it. They hated it, I know. They even said it. As a child all I could think was, “if you hate it, why are you doing it?” 30 years later I still feel the same way. If it feels wrong, why do it? It was scary, caused a lot of worry, and it was very confusing.

A parent’s job is to guide us. They’re supposed to show us how to live in this world. Spanking a child because they do something wrong is not showing us how to live. We do not hit the first person that wrongs us in a day. Every situation is a learning experience. We should take these punishable situations and learn from them. We should teach our children how to think, react appropriately and make a better decision in the future.

In very stressful moments when my son is at his peak of rip-my-hair-out behavior, I can usually take a moment to find out what is really going on. He is 4. He doesn’t know all the perfect words. He doesn’t understand all of his feelings. Little children are so complex. Sometimes they act out because they don’t know any better. Often, my son acts out because he is tired, he is scared, he is frustrated, etc. LISTENING to my child can guide my own actions. I can prevent meltdowns by making sure he gets enough sleep, stays on a schedule, etc. I can listen to him when he tries his best to explain his own insecurities and fears. Even if he does them loudly, in the floor with giant tears. Our children don’t want to make our lives hard. They don’t WANT to meltdown or be upset. If we took the time to see this rather than get frustrated by the external behavior we could approach situations with compassion.

The times I’ve felt like spanking my child I’ve known that taking that way out is the lazy way. I don’t want to be lazy. I want to be an active parent that listens, engages, redirects and teaches my babies. I want to show them how to handle difficult situations in a positive way. Studies have shown that children who are spanked are more likely to have emotional problems in the future. They can be more aggressive, depressed, etc. (Please see this wonderful article for more facts and citations http://www.ahaparenting.com/parenting-tools/positive-discipline/should-I-spank-my-child ) I fear these things with my family history of depression/OCD/anxiety. The very LAST thing I want to do is contribute to the possibility of these outcomes.

I’ve seen the effects of being lazy on a child. My son was in a preschool last year that punished him for everything. If he didn’t want to stand in line he was sent to time out. If he ran from the teacher he was sent to time out. His first time out was at 2 years old. He was sent to the director’s office for the remainder of the day. Rather than try to understand the reasons for my son’s behavior, he was disciplined. They saw him as defiant. They grew frustrated with him and angry. They isolated him from his friends and activities. Eventually he stopped making art, his behavior got worse, he voiced troubling things to me and he was removed from the school. At his new school he is approached with love and compassion. He is appreciated for being the bright, beautiful child that he is. He is redirected when necessary. He is listened to and valued and he hasn’t been in trouble once.

I know I’ve rambled on a bit in this post but the most important thing I hope to express is that there is a better way to discipline our children.   Finding our own individual ways to discipline is our own journey unique to our children and our circumstances.   I think we’re all figuring it out as we go.  I’m also not judging generations before us. My parents were really good parents. Most parents are trying REALLY hard. We want to do a great job at this whole parenting thing. I think it is important to be willing to grow and change though. I saw on a friend’s facebook a quote that said, “When you know better, you do better.”  In 2017, we know better. I plan to do better.

Quick Tip Tuesday: Skipping the party!



So, I’ve been slammed with work. That is why I haven’t been updating. I watch my kids full time and do transcription for a dermatology clinic part time. I stay busy! I wish I could blog whenever I wanted to… but I can’t unfortunately. I love it when I have the time!!

Today’s tip is kind of up to you to decide if it works for you or not. Today is my son’s birthday. He is 4! I cannot believe he is 4 years old. I feel like I had him yesterday. I remember them placing him on my chest. I sobbed. I was so happy to meet him. I was so tired. I was so in love. The nurse looked over at me and said “what’s wrong? are you in pain? why are you crying?.” I thought it was very bizarre. This was the single most important moment of my life to that point and this lady was weirded out over my emotion!

I’ve thought about this moment so many times in the past 4 years. It represents so much more to me. The nurse, for whatever reason, felt that I wasn’t acting appropriately. Maybe she was concerned something was wrong… but I kind of just wanted the space to feel my feelings.

This past year has been a hard one for our family. Jack has had troubles at preschool (his former preschool) and Claire has had her allergy battles, etc. I suffered with my postpartum anxiety/OCD and we’ve just been run ragged it feels like. Once again, I haven’t really been allotted the time to “feel my feelings.”

Because of the craziness of the year I chose to do “no party birthdays.” This was a hard decision because it was Claire’s first birthday and Jack is obsessed with birthdays! (really, the kids in his class had to list something they love at valentine’s day- most kids in his class chose their mom or dad… Jack chose birthdays). I made this decision because every year I’ve gone all out and thrown Jack full on Pinterest parties. We’ve had tons of people… too many gifts, big cakes, etc. At the end of the day we’re ALL exhausted, our bank account is a bit smaller, and Jack has a ton of toys he doesn’t touch for 6 months. Also, I read this article recently and decided that I want to be a family like this.

I’ve REALLY realized recently how rapidly my children are growing up. It is happening so quickly. I want to experience things with them. I want to connect and enjoy them. I won’t care about a billion cutesy pinterest inspired pictures in the future, I’ll care about having an amazing birthday experience with my 4 year old! As long as he is happy, I’m happy. I’m glad we will have a birthday where we don’t have to worry about details and can focus on the joy his birthday brings!

He has made a few requests this birthday. He wants to go to “target, the movies, food lion, lowes, and the mountains.” LOL. I can make some of those happen. I took him to Target and he got birthday hats and a scooter. He had cupcakes with his friends at school. We’re going to jump at a trampoline park this weekend and eating dinner at his favorite restaurant tonight. We’re going to the beach next month. (what we also did with his sister for her first birthday! she saw the beach for the 1st time on her 1st birthday!) He is excited and I am getting the opportunity to share that enjoyment with him– rather than worry about small details.

Give it a try. See if it works for you 🙂

6 Popular Diaper Rash Creams Reviewed!

 

I decided to do a review of diaper rash creams in the blog when my husband and I had a lengthy discussion about the pros and cons of several different brands recently.  Yes… we are that exciting.  Over the years we have used many different brands.  Currently, my daughter is teething so she is getting the lovely diaper rash that goes along with that.  Her poor hiney is so red and chapped.  Luckily, I’ve figured out what works for us and would love to share my thoughts with you! I wish I’d read more about this when registering for my first baby’s baby showers!  Also in the posts you’ll notice a link to the Environmental Working Group: Skin Deep website.  This is a great tool for researching the environmental and health impact of common products.  It is amazing which products you think would be fairly safe that aren’t at all.  I recommend this website for any product you use fairly often.  A great resource!

 

Vaseline

Okay, the first on the list is just your standard Vaseline.  When I had my first child one of my best friend’s told me that her mother used Vaseline on her younger sister all the time to prevent diaper rash.  I found that this was a cheap option that seemed to work well! I think Vaseline serves as a great diaper rash preventative.  It is also nice to have Vaseline around the house to use for taking rectal temperatures or to put around the mouth for a chapped face.  I purchased 3 big tubs of it on Amazon and it lasted for a while!  More recently I bought a store brand from Walmart or Target and it works just as well!

EWG rating: 1

Aquaphor Baby Advanced Therapy Healing Ointment

Second on the list is Aquaphor.  The Aquaphor I have tried is the Aquaphor Baby Advanced Therapy Healing ointment.  I really like Aquaphor as it is very similar to Vaseline.  It has Petrolatum (petroleum) as the active ingredient.  Unlike Vaseline, which is pure petroleum, Aquaphor has other ingredients (Panethenol, Lanolin, etc.) that help with the consistency and healing of the skin.  It comes highly recommended by dermatologists.  I have also bought Aquaphor for my children’s cheeks.  My son and daughter are both very faired skinned and their cheeks chap easily.  I cover their cheeks in the winter with Aquaphor before playing out in the cold wind and at night when they’re sleeping.  I like Aquaphor for a rash that isn’t terrible.  I feel like it can help a rash that is starting to resolve quickly without getting worse.  For more intense rashes, I look to other ointments.

EWG rating: 2

Desitin Rapid Relief Cream

Desitin is the diaper cream that my mom used with my little brother when he was little.  After having kids she would say, “You need to go get some Desitin… Desitin works so well!”  When I registered for gifts for my baby showers I included a ton of Desitin per my mother’s request and I have to say I was a little disappointed –Maybe because my mother built it up to be a cure all.   When I used Desitin it was just okay.  It didn’t dramatically fix my kid’s diaper rash.  It didn’t last very long and seemed to go on pretty thin.  I personally prefer a diaper rash cream that is thick and will still be there when I go to change my baby’s diaper.  My final thoughts on this cream… if someone gave it to me I’d use it, but I most likely wouldn’t buy it.

EWG rating: 5

A+D Zinc Oxide Cream

A+D was the diaper rash cream we used often with my son.  I think A+D is very similar to Desitin.  We tried the kind that was for the treatment of diaper rash that is made with Dimethicone and Zinc Oxide.  I think that A+D works fine, but like Desitin Rapid Relief, I feel that you have to put it on constantly.  It seems to go on thin and wipe off easily.  I felt like this didn’t help my son and daughter’s rashes.  I personally wanted something much thicker.  Again, like Desitin, I would definitely use A+D but I don’t buy it myself anymore.  I prefer other creams over this one.

EWG rating: 5

Boudreaux Butt Paste Original Diaper Rash Ointment – 2 oz

I have a love/hate relationship with Boudreaux’s Butt Paste.  I think it works pretty well.  The color is a bit weird.  There is no unpleasant scent.  I definitely have a tube of it at my house and use it fairly often.  One thing about this diaper rash cream is that it will stain furniture if you have an accident.   We found this out the hard way when my son sat on it on my mother in-law’s couch.  It took a lot of elbow grease but it finally *mostly* came out.  It is an oil-based product, like other creams, so it WILL stain clothing and furniture.  This is just something to keep in mind.  Honestly, keep this in mind with ALL diaper rash creams.  We’ve had a few too many accidents with diaper cream.  I’ve stepped on it, sat on it, etc.    I prefer this over Desitin or A+D, mainly because it is thicker and stays on a bit longer.

EWG rating: 1

Burt’s Bees Baby Bee 100% Natural Diaper Rash Ointment, 3 Ounces

Okay, I saved the best for last.  Burt’s Bees Baby Diaper Rash ointment with Zinc Oxide.  I absolutely LOVE this diaper rash cream.   The smell is amazing.  It has a good amount of Zinc Oxide (a product most of these diaper rash creams include) which really helps the toughest diaper rash.  I think the best thing about this diaper rash ointment though is that it is really thick.  It is very well made and goes on thicker than any other cream on this list.  You don’t need very much of it to cover most of the diaper area.  It is a little pricier than other creams on this list but not by much and because it is thicker it lasts longer.  Sometimes I buy the gift set that comes with Baby Wash, a small bar of soap and Baby lotion.  I’ve found the gift set on Amazon for as low as 15 dollars before, so it is a great deal.  (Prices fluctuate from day to day.)  I highly recommend this cream, and most other products from Burt’s Bees honestly.  Their products are gentle on the skin, smell great and have a pretty good Environmental Working Group: Skin Deep rating.  We always keep this in the house and reserve it for the worst of diaper rashes!  It is very effective!

EWG Rating: 1

I hope you found this helpful!  These were the most common creams I received at baby showers before my first child was born.  Like most baby products, it takes some trial and error to figure out which products works best for you and your baby.   Do you have a diaper rash cream recommendation?  What works best for you?  Leave suggestions or thoughts in the comments.