to the perfect parents

HebrewDawn: to the perfect parents

Dear Perfect Parent,

I have a few things I’d like to share with you today. I want to commend your efforts at being the perfect parent, because it’s not somethings we all aspire to be in life. You believe in the depths of your being that you are doing everything exactly right, and that you have a thing or two you can teach the rest of us.

You are decidedly the best example about breastfeeding or formula feeding, when to start your child on solid food, when to send your child to preschool and kinergarten. Oh! Let’s not forget about extra activities like soccer, dance, music lessons, and swimming. You most assuredly make time for your child to do it all. God forbid a parent choose themselves over their child wants.

Do you sense my sarcasm yet? I hope so, and I hope you’ll join me in doing the following…

No more shaming.

No more blaming.

No more judging.

START supporting others.

Let’s get our views of perfection straight and get them in check. They are ruining amazing mom/dad friend opportunities. Let’s not assume that someone is shaming, blaming, or judging us. Instead, let us assume that the perfect parents are all of us and that we all want to support one another.

Let’s do this parenting thing y’all!

C

Sick Baby 

HebrewDawn: Motherhood Monday - Sick Baby
I had high hopes of getting a new post up today, but I’ve spent the weekend taking care of a sick baby since Friday. Luckily I had the day off as we had plans as a family to go down to Matthews, Virginia to spend the day with friends. Rather than spending the day in, on, or beside the water I spent Friday worrying about a pitiful baby who had a fever. 

Luckily our pediatrician wasn’t worried and gave me a few care instructions:

  • Keep my sweet baby resting, nursing,and eating  as much as we could. 
  • Alternate doses of Tylenol and Motrin to get the fever down. 
  • Call if anything changed in how frequently she was eating, wetting her diapers, or if the fever wasn’t down by Monday. 

We followed instructions and it all seems to have worked. Thank you for understanding the lack of a more substantial post. See you back later this week. 

The long silence

HebrewDawn: the long silence
For the last year I’ve mostly been silent here on HebrewDawn, stopped posting my queued up Real Mom posts, and basically neglected you all. All I can say is I’m sorry, but I’m ready to open up about why. 

In May 2016 I found out I was pregnant with our second, my oldest was getting close to turning three and blooming into being her own little person, and I suddenly had doubts about what or how much to share about my family. I’ve always been cautious about sharing their names, but details about their life and personality worry me too. What if someone uses info on my site or social media for the wrong reasons? What if I’m telling things my children will later wish I kept private? This internal wrestiling has gone on forever and then one of my favorite podcasts (Young House Love Has a Podcast) talked about this EXACT topic. Suddenly I didn’t feel alone, felt a little justified in my trepidation, and felt like I could back on the old blogging saddle. 

I can honestly say that I have missed you all. I’ve heard from some of you during my writing silence asking what’s going on, and for that I am thankful. I hope you know that I have never taken you my followersfor granted  have been saving things to share with you throughout my silence. Please hang in there as I come back to finding my writing rhythm, but I promise to not be so silent anymore! I have no plans to keep my family (particularly my kids) off the blog, but I do plan on changing how much you see of them on here and on social media. What all this will look like is still to be determined. Be back Monday with a new post from yours truly and Wednesday with a wellness post from Erica!

HebrewDawn: the long silence

It Won’t Be Like This For Long

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There are so many moments as a parent when we wonder if it will always be this hard. On the flip side, there are many times that we wish would last forever. It’s this strange, yet lovely, dichotomy that represents motherhood and being a parent. As I’ve navigated life as mom, I’ve had moments that took my breath away from being so sweet or challenging. I wondered if it would always be like this, and then I’d remind myself that it won’t be like this for long…

Many thanks to Darius Rucker for providing the music to convey these feeling so well, but also serving as an important reminder that the sweet moments are quickly fleeting.

While pregnant we wonder if we’ll ever find out the gender of our baby, or if we will ever be done waiting for our child to arrive. What we forget about is the safety and security of the little love in the womb, while we grow and prepare for life with this little love in the world.

After the weeks of waiting for the arrival of our sweet baby, we wonder with blurry eyes if we will do anything besides nurse, change diapers, and rock a crying baby back to sleep. What we forget is how this little baby is completely dependent on the milk that only we can provide, finds the most comfort in our heartbeat, and will someday want no part of these sweet snuggles.

Once we finally make it through early months of a newborn, we suddenly have a baby that has forgotten how to sleep. We are now in the throws of the five month sleep regression and wonder if we’ll ever sleep again. Later we’ll realize that these late night snuggles are precious when our baby will one day squirm too much to sleep cuddled next to us.

We anxiously await the day for our sweet little love to crawl and explore the world, until we realize they can’t find every little thing closest to the ground. We long for the day that they won’t be into everything, but what we will someday realize that there are so many things that they cannot yet reach.

We long for the day that our sweet child will walk, and run and play until they do. Suddenly they are toddling everywhere and finding everything to grab and crash into. We wonder if we’ll have to scoop them up forever and kiss their bruises, but some day we’ll remember how much faster they can move and how tough they were.

After weeks and months of practice, our sweet toddler no longer moves slowly from place to place, but is getting into everything. We wonder if anything will be sacred or safe from their little hands, but later we’ll know that it was easier having them get into these things down low and not hidden out of sight.

Before long we reach the long awaited days of potty training when diapers are no more. We feel like we’ve finally crossed the last bridge of babydom, and long for the days of dry underpants. Someday we’ll remember how much this little person still needed our love and guidance with even the basic of human needs.

Each moment of life with our babies is challenging but is quickly passing. When the moments get to be too hard, I pause and remind myself that it won’t be like this for long. That times that feel so hard will one day be sweet moments of the past that we may (not always) long to go back to and savor.

Preparing for Daylight Saving Time with Children

In six days daylight saving time begins, and I’m excited for the extra hour of sunshine this provides us. As a parent I’m not excited about what this time change  does to my child’s sleep. This is our third round of time changes, and whether you gain or lose an hour of sleep, as a parent I dare say you always lose. This year I am determined to be prepared!

What’s the game plan? Beginning with bedtime Wednesday evening, my daughter will be going to bed 15 minutes earlier than night before. Over the course of the next four nights, her bedtime will get reduced to being an hour earlier than normal and getting her on schedule for the time change. So for us this will look like an  8:00 bedtime tonight and tomorrow, 7:45 on Wednesday, 7:30 on Thursday, 7:15 on Friday, and then 7:00  on Saturday.

The best laid plans…I had hoped to make it a gradual process throughout the week of making bedtime ten minutes earlier over the course of a week, but with our schedule for the week it won’t quite work. We have a group of church friends coming over for dinner tomorrow and VHP will be devastated to leave “the party” early. Friday is going to be our biggest challenge as we have company coming for dinner, and I don’t think she will be too keen on going to bed at 7:15.

I’m hoping and praying our plan works so that the daylight saving time  transition goes a little smoother than in the past. Have you had luck with your kids getting accustomed to the time change?

The Joyful Feast

Worship with a two year old may not always be as calm or introspective as it was before having a child, but it has definitely become more meaningful. I’ve shared before that we try each week to keep VHP in service with us and she is beginning to really understand the different parts of the service. She has come to love passing the peace, loves to sing, and really looks forward to communion (Eucharist). Watching my little girl’s faith  blossom and grow is one of my greatest joys.

A few weeks ago I had a moment that nearly made this mama cry watching her little girl in worship. As is often the case, we didn’t make it through the entire sermon before we needed to step out of the sanctuary into the hallways to get some wiggles out. Thankfully we can still hear what’s happening through the speaker and soon it was time for communion. VHP was anxious to head back in as soon as the pastor began to say the words of institution, break the bread, and pour wine (juice in this case) into the cup. When the feast was set we made the attempt to quietly head back to our seats and wait our turn, but VHP was too excited to be quiet. She squealed and tried to run forward, and I managed to catch her before she took off for the front of the sanctuary. Miraculously this did not result in a toddler fit of screaming!

source: https://stocksnap.io/photo/P7JB9GA027

 

We waited our turns and held hands as we walked forward. The church member who was serving the bread leaned down so VHP could help me break off a piece of bread for her. This little girl tore off the biggest piece of bread she’s ever had for communion! Then our pastor leaned down to her level with the cup so she could dip the bread herself. VHP then slurped up her bread and juice as if it was the best meal of her life, and had the biggest smile on her face. Mommy may have helped break the bread, but she essentially had communion all on her own. Watching how our church family helped her partake of this meal put a whole new meaning on the phrase “the joyful feast of the Lord.”

Raising a Child of Faith – Public Prayer

Last month I shared about my daughter’s first prayer on her own. Today I’d like to share another Raising a Child of Faith story about a girl I’ll refer to as Elle. Her mom is a dear friend of mine from our time together in seminary, and though distance may separate us, I’m glad she’s on this parenting journey with me. Our daughters were born just 4 days apart, and I love hearing what they’re experiencing at almost the exact same time. Both of our girls are learning about their faith, and today I’ll share a story about Elle, her mom, and her impactful  prayer.

Each year Elle’s daddy has to take a trip out of town for a conference for a few days. Elle’s parents are quite the team, but this trip means that my friend is flying solo in mommy land (shout out to you single parents, you’re rock stars for doing this around the clock). Thankfully a dear church members takes Elle and her mommy out at least once for a special date while daddy is gone. For the 2016 conference, dinner with this member became even more meaningful when the mundane became the sacred at dinner.

For some people praying out loud before a meal in a public restaurant is uncomfortable experience. For Elle and her family, it’s the norm. Maybe it’s because her daddy is a pastor, but public prayer is the norm none the less. On this particular night, the adults followed their usual plan and said the prayer before the meal. For Elle this wasn’t good enough, and responded with “more pray.” Her request isn’t abnormal at home to pray more, but this time it was at a local Cracker Barrel. She felt the need to pray more for their meal.

This might not seem like that big of a deal to some, but Elle is only two years old. It’s only been in recent weeks that she has been the one to say the prayer at meals or bedtime, rather than her parents. On this particular night it was also the first that she said the prayer while dining out in public. She said:
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Elle’s prayer was so simple, yet so sweet and just what needs to be said at a meal. What I love about Elle’s prayer is that her prayer wasn’t just special to her mom, myself, or those that know her. Apparently one of the servers heard her prayer, and slipped her mommy this note:IMG_0570
You never know the difference you’re making in the life of your child and those that you may encounter. If you’re ever called upon to say the mealtime prayer, may I recommend Elle’s prayer? Go forth and be the salt of the earth.

Have a story you’d like to share? I’d love to hear it! Also, if you have a Raising a Child of Faith story you’d like to share on HebrewDawn, please be sure to send me a note (hello at hebrewdawn.com).

“Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of heaven belongs.” Matthew 5:14 (NRSV)

Raising a Child of Faith

Many say that they are trying to raise a child, but my husband and I routinely say that we are trying to raise a person. Our goal is not to have an 18 year old that is still dependent on us, but a person ready to make it in the world on their own. Granted as a mom you kind of want to be needed, but at the end of the day I want my daughter to be able to stand on her own two feet. Faith is something that has been very important to my husband and I, and nurturing our daughter in her Christian Faith is part of raising a person for us. We’re not always sure that we have it right, but last night gave us a glimmer that we might be on the right track.

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https://pixabay.com/en/cherub-cemetery-nature-angel-figure-968811/
I’ll share more about what happened last night shortly, but here are some of the things we do to raise our daughter in our faith. As I’ve shared before, we do our best to make it to church each week, and keep her in worship with us. There are weeks that she may drive us crazy with how chatty and wiggly she can be, but that’s also expected for her. We always make sure to bring a variety of toys or quiet activities to keep her entertained and step out of the sanctuary when she gets to be too noisy. Thankfully we can still hear the service in the parlor or hallway outside the sanctuary, so we don’t feel like we’re missing out on too much. No matter how noise our little girl may have been, we always make it back into the sanctuary for communion, as that’s become one of her favorite parts of the service. Slowly but surely she is understanding the rhythm of the service and applying what she understands. Just the other week I noticed that she had bowed her head when the pastor said it was time for the prayer for confession. She didn’t know that this was a prayer she could keep her eyes open for, but she did what she understood she should do for a prayer. Another thing that we do to help grow our daughter’s faith is making prayer a daily part of our life. We have a long established bedtime routine that begins with a story, is followed by a prayer, and ends with a song and kisses. Now that VHP is talking, she helps to name whom or what she would like to pray about. Most nights her cousin and friends from school are top of the list, along with other family member, and mommy and daddy are rarely left off. Sometimes we get some interesting additions, like the potty or swim class. No matter the prayer requests she names, we honor them and add them to the list. It’s been really cute to see how the list has grown over the months, and to hear what matters to her from one day to the next.

Last night we had my mother-in-law over to celebrate her birthday with a special dinner. Like many meals, but especially birthday dinner, we began the meal with prayer. We asked VHP if she’d like to do the prayer and she said yes. I started with the usual “Dear God,” and here is what she said:

Thank you [for] LKG.

Thank you [for] Meghan.

Thank you [for] Jason.

Amen.

LKG is her cousin, Meghan is her aunt, and Jason is her uncle. I was stunned. My little girl at the mere age of two had said her first prayer on her own, and the first person she wanted to pray for was her cousin. Not to be forgotten was her aunt and uncle.

We may not be perfect at this parenting thing. I might not be perfect at teaching her all things I want about being a Christian. But I think we may be onto something with prayer.

Suburban Hippie: Children are Expensive!

I remember being so excited about expecting our first child, but then it hit me. Raising this child is going to be REALLY expensive! At this point in the game, the added expense of health insurance hadn’t sunk in. I was thinking about the impending cost of childcare, clothing, diapers, and feeding. I quickly came to the conclusion that I needed to find a way to cut costs. Enter in becoming a suburban hippie. By my definition, a suburban hippie is one who resides in the suburbs (though they may prefer living in the city) chooses to do some or all of the following cloth diaper, breastfeed, baby led wean, recycle, prefer locally grown produce, use cloth napkins/towels over disposables, and the like.  I’ll explain further some of the reasons we have gone this route. 

How did we end up in the suburbs? We found it was time to move from our old house (that’s a story for another day) which was a cute little 2 bedroom with one bathroom home that was just over 1300 square feet.  For two people it was okay, but not great when both residents need the bathroom facilities, would like to watch different TV shows, or listen to different types of music. So when we were house hunting, we quickly learned we needed to pick a part of town first. We loved the idea of living in the city, but recognized that not all Richmond Public Schools are created equal, and would need to budget for private school.  We also recognized that Chesterfield, Hanover, and Henrico County Public Schools are really good, so it seemed a little silly to PAY for private schools.  I can share later on the house hunting adventures, but for now let’s end with we landed in the suburbs (we do love where we ended up, but may end up in the city we love later)!

Why did you choose to cloth diaper? I detailed that on my blog a couple weeks ago here, but let me add that I knew diapers were a baby necessity. No matter what, babies do not come out of the womb potty trained, and it takes times (some more than others) before it happens. I knew that I needed to begin thinking about a way to make this more affordable. Thankfully I had a couple of friends who had done it before, so it didn’t seem like such a crazy idea. Plus my friend K had this great resource she put together and shared with another friend and I. It really helped me figure out where to begin on my search for the perfect cloth diapering system, and tips to share with other new to cloth friends. Have no fear everyone, I’m working on a resource of my own to share with you too!

Why did you choose to breastfeed? I’ll start with asking you a question before answering. Have you looked at the price of formula? Formula start around $25 or more a can, so I knew that that  was one thing I did NOT want to add to my baby expense list. I’m sure that many of us have heard how great it is for your baby and for you to breastfeed, so I feel like I don’t need to even get on that soapbox. So yes I knew breastfeeding would be VERY healthy for my baby, but I also saw dollar signs for something that could be completely free. So free was much better in my book if I could successfully breastfeed, as I know that this isn’t possible for everyone.

Why did you choose to do baby led weaning? This was something I read about in the past, had thought I should look into more. The idea had fallen off my radar, so my husband and I were looking into making our own baby food. So we would know that our child was eating something healthy, no strange added ingredients, and much cheaper. But then my dad and stepmom’s friend gave me her copy of the book Baby Led Weaning and share how she started it with her second of three kids. It all just made so much more sense. Babies don’t need anything but breastmilk or formula for the first year, do not need anything other than formula or breastmilk before 6 months old, and they don’t need rice cereal. I’ll share more later about our experience with baby led weaning, but I’ll end with that I HIGHLY recommend considering this.

Why recycle and use cloth napkins/towels? Growing up many of us have been taught the importance of the three Rs: reduce, reuse, and recycle. It’s not always the easiest or most convenient habit to get into, but it’s really worth it. We only have one planet, so we really need to handle it with care. First R is for us to work on reducing how much we have in our homes. We are still working on this personally, and I’m sure all share about this in the future. Once you’ve reduced, you should work on the second R: reuse. We do this by using cloth napkins almost exclusively for meals (even when we have large groups over), hand towels, and limit our use of paper towels. Typically we will by only a six pack paper towels and this will last us a year or so. I have noticed that our paper towel use only spikes when we have folks over that are not accustomed to this. Now that you’ve got in the hang of the first two Rs, it’s time to add in the final R: recycle. Like many people, we implemented the third r last, but we are trying to be better about all three. Whatever we can do to help care for our planet and home is worth it. I’ll share more later about our cloth napkins, towels, and how we keep up with the extra laundry. I’ll end with this, we save plenty of money by using cloth napkins and towels, which adds up with all the other expenses.

What’s the big deal with local produce? For starters, it tastes so much better and often times it’s cheaper! When we have time to make it our local produce stand and farmers’ market we save the most, but that doesn’t always happen. By shopping locally, you help your local economy. By putting money into their pockets, they try to look out for you and keep their costs down so that you can keep more money in your pocket.

So yes, we have made some choices along the way that are not for everyone. In looking back, I honestly don’t regret the choices we’ve made. They have been good for our daughter, beneficial for our wallets, good for us, for our community and good for the planet. If you have questions, don’t hesitate to ask!

  

Why Would You Use Cloth Diaper?

This isn’t an uncommon question or wondering when people hear about folks using cloth diapers. It’s not uncommon for people to think it’s difficult and nasty to use cloth. It’s not uncommon for people to think that using disposable diapers are so much easier than cloth diapers. I’m here to tell you that there are a lot of reasons to use cloth diapers.

  
 1.  Cloth diapers are cheaper than disposables. Let’s look at the cost of disposables first.  Let’s say you use Huggies or Target’s up & up brand diapers, which average out to $0.17 each.  For the number of diapers used per day let’s say 10 diapers, because over the first several months you go through about 12 diapers a day, and progressively get down to 8 diapers.  Most children in disposables don’t potty train until they are  2.5 or 3 years old, so we’ll go with 2.75 years of diapers (kids in cloth supposedly potty training earlier).  That’s a total of $2,326.88 spent on 13,687 diapers  over 3.75 years.  My favorite All-In-One (AIO) diaper (I’ll explain types of diapers another day) is the Blueberry One Size Simplex which retails for $28.95. Since you need at least 12 diapers per day in the early months, it’s good to have 24 diapers for a total of $694.8.  To go all in with cloth diapering, you’ll also need a few other things like  2 diaper pail liners $33, 2 wet bags for on the go $44, 30 cloth wipes $27, and a wipe warmer for $25, all bringing your total $823.80 on cloth diaper supplies.  I don’t include the cost of wipe solution, laundry detergent, or water for doing the laundry, because I have seen that much of an increased cost for us.

2.  Cloth diapers aren’t as smelly and gross as disposables.  Having cared for many children in diapers over the years, I honestly believe my cloth diaper pail smells a whole lot LESS than a disposable diaper pail.  Pee diapers don’t smell any worse with cloth, and I’d venture to say not a bad.  There’s something in the absorption crystals of many disposables that create an off-putting scent.  Poopy diapers get rinsed into the toilet, so the smell is gone and not lingering until the diaper pail is emptied.  

3.  Poopy diapers aren’t that bad to clean with cloth.  We have a diaper sprayer attached to our toilet, so I don’t really have to get my hands dirty.  I also know some parents will wear rubber kitchen gloves, so their hands never touch anything to get dirty. Poopy diapers have had no negative effects on my washing machine.  Reason being is that they are rinsed into the toilet before going into the washing machine, get an intial rinse cyle, plus a full clean cycle, which all ensures my diapers and washing machine are fully clean when done.

4.  Cloth diapers are better for the environment. It is estimated that it takes about 500 years for a disposable diaper to decompose in a landfill. Now, this is just an estimate, because disposables haven’t been around that long and no one has lived 500 years to observe the decomposition of disposable diapers. Cloth diapers generally have great re-sale value, making them great in the realm of the second of the three Rs (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle), and aren’t clogging up landfills.

5.  Cloth diapers are so cute! I will say that the Honest Company has stepped up the cute factor of disposable diapers, and I have used them from time to time.  But the variety of patters with cloth diapers is sooooo great!  When my daughter was a newborn she had the cutest diaper with monkeys and owls.  Now she has a cover with these adorable whales, an AIO with pretty flowers, and elephants.  The best part of all is that these diapers are cute, and we get to use them over and over again.  

I initially had us begin cloth diapering to save money, as I wanted as many ways as possible to make having a child not super expensive. I also had us use cloth because my husband and I were allergic to disposable diapers and had a feeling that our daughter would be too. In the end it turn out that my guess was correct, and she is sensitive to most every brand of disposables.  Now that we’ve used cloth diapers for two years, I’m so glad that we have chosen to use cloth.  It’s not that difficult, it’s saved us a lot of money, and it has been good for the environment.

Soon I’ll write a post about what we have tried when it comes to cloth diapers, what we’ve liked, what we haven’t liked, and how we’ve made cloth diapering work for us.  If you have questions, feel free to ask and I’ll answer as best I can.  

Have you considered using cloth diapers?