Tuesday, September 16, 2008

To Sleep, Perchance to Dream...

Lack of sleep for new parents is no revelation - babies’ sleep cycles during the first weeks of life have them sleeping a few hours at a time around the clock. This doesn’t sync with the sleep patterns of adults. Doctors say that we need eight hours of uninterrupted sleep at night to be at our best. However, parents of infants usually get much less than that (some studies say that new parents lose 450-700 hours of sleep in the first year)! It isn’t just that parents are getting less sleep; their sleep is interrupted, too, causing them to lose out most on the deep sleep that is so restorative. The effects of a lack of sleep are immediate and unforgiving. After just one night of sleep deprivation, memory capabilities and processing time suffer, which of course has implications in all areas of life.

So, what can new parents do about this? I think that the severity of sleep deprivation calls for a battle on two fronts: a fight to find ways to cope with the effects of sleep deprivation as well as a struggle to get more precious sleep.

Managing with sleep deprivation can be tough. Lists can be a parents’ best friend. Going out for some errands? Write down where you are going and what you are doing at each place. Have a few important things to do today? Write them down as you think of them so you can refer to them later. Last time I was a new parent, I was most forgetful about anything having to do with when the new baby (or in my case, babies) did something. For the first two months or so, we kept a notebook where each day had a page that listed when and how much or how long the babies ate, when they had a wet or dirty diaper, and when and how long they slept. This saved us many times during those months! Not into making lists? Coast Innovations came up with a great parent lifesaver called the Itzbeen Baby Care Timer. It has three different timers to mark the last time baby got a new diaper, ate, and slept, as well as a fourth timer you can set for your own uses. Each timer can have its own alarm when it reaches a certain time limit, too!

There are many suggestions out there on ways to get more sleep. Almost all new parents have heard the old adage “Sleep when the baby sleeps.” Parents need to remember that their own sleep is more important than the dishes in the sink or the laundry in the washer. Even so, I have never been one that has done well with long naps (sleep fog is almost worse than sleep deprivation), but a 20-30 minute cat nap can be enough to recharge new parents to face the rest of the day. If it works with the baby’s feeding plan, trading off nighttime duties can help, too! When using bottles at night, new parents can trade off nights of getting up to allow at least one to get a good night’s sleep. Breastfeeding parents can separate duties when the baby gets up - while the mom is in charge of feeding, dads can get the baby up, change diapers, and put the baby back to bed.

I, of course, am tackling this topic because it has been on my mind a lot lately. Our newest little one is all set to arrive, and I am bracing myself for the sleep deprivation. I am hoping I won't be as crazed this time because I have been through it before and because I will have only ONE infant, but this time I will have two other kiddos to play with during the day, too. Should be exciting!

Saturday, September 13, 2008


I am sorry I have been rather absent with the updates this week. I have been busy trying to write for Polliwogged while also dealing with the extreme exhaustion that comes from being less than three weeks from delivering a baby - lots and lots of naps are necessary. I promise to work hard to get everything updated soon!

Friday, September 5, 2008

New Adventures in Blogging!

I am so excited to write that I have been given an opportunity to branch out with my blogging! I am now a contributor at Polliwogged, a brand new blog that is part of the ZRecs network. The blog is about all things baby, and my beat specifically is bonding with baby, celebrating milestones, and building rituals and traditions. Do you have any thoughts, questions, or ideas about my beat or anything baby related? Please send me an email at lovingmyfellas [at] gmail [dot] com.

Also, please check out Polliwogged along with all of the new ZRecs blogs, which can be found by going to the ZRecs homepage.

I can't wait to get started with this new adventure!

Getting Big Siblings Ready for Baby

When you find out you are expecting a second (or third, or fourth...) child, one of the first thoughts in your mind is trying to figure out how to prepare your current family for its new addition. In my mind, there is no time like the present to start getting your little one’s siblings ready for all of the big changes ahead.

This is a big topic I have been thinking about lately as we are one month away from making our twin boys big brothers. I have done a lot of reading, soul searching, and talking to other moms to figure out ideas on how to prepare our 2.5-year-olds for the addition to our family. Here are some common threads I have found in all of my searching for the perfect sibling preparation course.
  • Decide when to tell your children about the impending arrival - This is one area where I truly feel you need to decide what would work best for your family, depending on the age and temperament of your children. I know of parents of young children who held off telling them about the new baby for as long as possible because nine months is many lifetimes for a young child and because they were too young to understand much of what was going on. We decided to tell B & E right away. They were just past their second birthdays, so they could understand what we were telling them. Plus, we knew that they would be faced with many people asking them about becoming big brothers, and we wanted to be sure we talked to them about it first. Our new baby is due in October, so we explained to the boys that there was a baby growing in mommy’s tummy, that he needed lots of time to grow big and strong, and that he would come to live with us around Halloween.
  • Read books to help explain what is happening during the pregnancy and what will happen when the baby arrives - Everyone I spoke with had positive experiences reading books with their children to help them get ready for the baby’s arrival. There are lots of books that explain different aspects of adding a new baby to the family, from mommy and baby being at the hospital to the fun of being a big brother or sister. Some of the books most commonly recommended by other parents are I’m a Big Brother and I’m a Big Sister, both by Joanna Cole.
  • Talk to the big siblings about how they will be able to interact with the baby - Talking to your older children about things they will be able to do with the new baby helps to get them excited for their job as big brother/big sister. B & E are looking forward to playing peek-a-boo with the baby, reading him stories, helping mommy change diapers, and singing to the baby. We also talked about all of the great things that B & E will be able to teach the baby when he gets bigger, everything from showing him how to play baseball to swinging with him at the park.
  • Be realistic about what life will be like when the baby comes home - Because our new baby is just a month away, we recently began talking with B & E about how life will change when the baby comes home. We have explained that mommy will be really tired and need to rest and that the baby will need lots of attention from mommy and daddy. We also talked about how the baby will be pretty boring for a long time, not even learning to smile for a month or so. I would hate to get them excited about being big brothers and expect to be able to teach the baby all about baseball on the day he comes home from the hospital, only to be let down. Explaining all of the time that the baby will need from mommy and daddy, we also talked about all of the things that big boys can do that babies can’t - eat cookies, play at the park, go to school, etc.
  • Talk about when they were born - Looking at pictures, watching movies, and talking about what happened when older siblings were born can be a great way to introduce early life to siblings. They see how little babies are and hear about how they were welcomed into the world by friends and family.
We have tried a little bit of all of these ideas in hopes that it will help B & E prepare for the arrival of their new baby brother. I will have to report back next month to let you know if it actually worked! :)

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Nesting Instict Is DEFINITELY Kicking In - I Am Selling Old Books!

Over the weekend, Hubby and I decided that we should probably unpack our guestroom. It has only been four months since we moved into our new house - no big deal. With the prospect of houseguests in the next month when baby Z arrives, I felt compelled to actually do a good job.

As part of this unpacking, my pregnant brain decided that I needed to go through all of my books. My parents brought four boxes of old books (that I had never moved from their house) a few months ago, and I felt compelled to go through each box that they brought, as well as all of the boxes from our old place, and decide on a case by case basis how I was going to categorize each book -
  • Keep Out - These books make the cut to be left out on our scarce shelving in the guest room/office.
  • Keep In Storage - These are books I want to keep but don't have room to keep on shelves. My series of Harry Potter books falls into this category.
  • Try to Sell
  • Donate
I actually was really excited about the options I found for what to do with my "Try to Sell" books. I looked into listing books on Ebay and Amazon, but fees and the hassle of packing and shipping each individual book was more than I could deal with. Then, I found two online book sellers on whose sites you can provide the ISBN numbers of your old books, and they will tell you whether or not they are buying and for what price. Abe Books was the best for me, but Cash4Books also looked promising. The best part of these services is that they pay for the shipping to send books out to their stores. All I have to do is pack them up and drop them off for Fed/Ex. Sweet.

For the books I wanted to sell but Abe Books was not buying, I turned to PaperBackSwap. This online club, which has been featured in all sorts of news stories across the country, allows users to swap books. You list what books you would like to offer up, and when another user requests it, you mail it off to him. For each book you mail, you get credit to request a book from another user. I listed my books last night, and it was super easy. Someone already requested one of my books this morning, and the process of mailing it off couldn't be simpler. You can print off a label and wrapper for the book all in one, and you can even have the service add postage to the label for you. Because most books are under 13 oz., you don't have to do anything special with them other than drop them in your own mailbox for your carrier to pick up. Quick and easy! Love it!

Here's to developing OCD tendencies during the last month of pregnancy!

Big Boy Bed Update

B and E in B's big boy bed

I am sure you have all been waiting with bated breath to hear the outcome of our transition to big boy beds. I am so happy (and incredibly relieved!) to say that everything is going really well. Woo hoo!

Hubby (with the help of B and E) took the front sides off of their cribs on Friday morning. Both of the fellas immediately took advantage of being able to get in and out of the bed on their own, and they quickly ended up with about half of their books in bed with them so they could read. They have since continued to love playing in their beds and really enjoy being big boys.

We did have a few snags in the process, but nothing too major. During the first nap on Friday, B and E were not at all interested in going to sleep. I think the fact that they had a full, unobstructed view of each other helped... you know, plus the freedom of getting out of bed. After going upstairs to find E trying to get out of his room and B's bed full of books, we strongly reiterated that we do NOT get out of bed during "sleepy times." After some more giggling and playing, they did fall asleep. Naps since Friday have gone pretty well, and we haven't had anyone else getting out of bed. They have done a lot of chatting and laughing while laying down in their beds, but I guess that is to be expected. Until today, it was taking the boys anywhere from 20-30 minutes to go to sleep before nap, but today they were out like a light - woo hoo!

As far as nighttime is concerned, things have gone even better there. The fellas are really awesome at bedtime, and they go to their beds and go right to sleep after their stories. Nothing really changed with the transition to big boy beds in that respect. The only troubles we have had are when a blankie or water sippy happen to fall out of bed and they don't know where they are. B did fall out of bed once, but he was more dazed than anything. Hubby heard the thump and went in, helped him back into bed, and that was it.

Even mornings have gone well. So far, the boys have kept in mind that they are not to get out of bed during sleepytime, and they continue to call us to get them up just like they did with their cribs. This is fine by me, as I would much rather them wake me up than get into who knows what trouble in their room.

So, while knocking on every wooden surface within reach, I think we can say the transition to big boy beds has been a success. At least until they remember that they can now get out of bed on their own...

More Adventures in Imagination

A scene from our home this morning...

Mom: Wow, fellas, what is going on here?!
E: We are going on an animal carousel.
Mom: An animal carousel? Why are all of the books out?
B: The books are the seats.
Mom: Oh, I see. (Silly me - I should have known they were making an animal carousel!)

E and B "riding" the animal carousel after E pushed the buttons to make it go... B made sure to put his seat belt on, too! :)

Cutie pie picture of E laughing with his brother

Monday, September 1, 2008

Lovin' Cake Wrecks!

I was getting ready to post a blog update tonight when I caught sight of Blogger's Blogs of Note, where they highlight one blog each day for people to check out. Last week, a blog called Cake Wrecks was chosen for the blog roll. I had to check it out... what was the name all about?

Oh. My. Gosh. This blog is hysterical. It basically involves all kinds of awful cakes, either with really bad designs, bad messages, horrible mix-ups, or any combination of the three.

Below is a cake that was featured at the end of July as The First Censored Cake Wreck. Oh, how I wish someone would buy this cake for me as the arrival of my third gets closer...