Dream Deferred

dress

Yesterday, since we were “trapped” in the house by sickness, I decided to tidy up a little. I saw Meg’s closet and how there was no more room on the rack for any hanging clothes. I decided to put some of her 18 month summer clothes away. It got me thinking about a blog entry that I have wanted to write… about the dream deferred. I have been thinking a lot about this, given our latest happenings with Meg. Putting away the dresses and the slightly too-big tanks and tees reminded me of the visions that I had had of Meg when I first bought them all last year.

If you know me, you know that I buy clothes well in advance. Maybe sometimes too far in advance. The strategy always served me well with my son. He has been pretty easy to predict in the growth area, staying constant and consistent throughout his three and a half years.

Meg on the other hand, has been super little from the beginning. I brought her home in a newborn outfit that was waaaay too big for her. The outfit that fit her best for the first month was a sleeper for preemies. Trying to predict seasons for her pre-bought outfits is like trying to predict which way the wind will be blowing five years from today in some far-removed, remote village.

Well, when I see a sale, I try my best in the prediction department. At the end of summer last year at my favorite Target, I found a rack of dresses that were just fit for a princess (I had a little girl! I could buy these beautiful dresses now!) at the bargain price of one dollar, two dollars and three dollars. What a deal! I started getting these visions of Meggie as a toddler, taking her steps slowly and awkwardly, getting her bearings as new walkers tend to do, her sweet little dresses bobbing up and down with her as she walked across the room to offer a toy to me with a smile. Or her in this pretty striped dress, toddling across the beach that we were almost certain to visit before we moved back to Ohio. Or her in the pretty purple dress, walking across the lawn on a beautiful summer day, her mom searching for that perfect photo op with the expanse of green lawn behind her and the sun high in the blue sky. I imagined her going to Sunday school in dresses. Maybe there would be a heat wave at Easter, and the possibility of a strappy dress for the kids’ Easter egg hunt. Imagine 18 month pictures in a beautiful dress! The possibilities for putting my perfect princess in dresses seemed endless.

Endless, that is, until reality comes crashing down, in my case. If I am being 100% honest, we will find that I have secretly been putting off my disappointments. It is not just dresses that were ultimately never worn. It’s the milestones hit a little too late… late enough to evoke a feeling of suspicion in me. It’s those moments where Meggie just doesn’t seem interested in something. Or the baby dolls we got her for her first Christmas, and the little accessories to go with them that have yet to be used or examined. Or that my two year old has yet to walk independently or eat solid foods. The dresses were ultimately never worn, because my daughter is still just crawling.

It’s that I have been hoping that, like in so many stories, the magical age of two was when things were just going to somehow align and work out, and she would start growing and fitting into the clothes that she was supposed to fit in two or three seasons ago, or she’d find some interest in the dolls, or she’d even magically start running around the coffee table in the same fashion her brother used to cruise, and by birthday number two, she’d take those steps across the room from Mommy’s arms to Daddy’s arms. That would save me the dreaded calls to the pediatrician, seeking services for a delay that I didn’t want my daughter to have… didn’t even want to believe that it was possible for her to have. Two was going to be my magic number… a glorious time. A truly, truly thankful Thanksgiving time.

Instead, we are now on our way to a destination into an unknown land. My tentative arrival there is marked with much anticipation. I feel ill-equipped to be traveling here. I don’t speak the language; I am not sure where I am going. I have never imagined myself sitting on these beaches or even in the homey little cafes. I am not sure which road connects with what… have no idea if a shortcut even exists. There is no map, and that makes me uncomfortable.

All road analogies aside, I say all this in hopes that the dresses are just a dream deferred. You know, just thoughts that came to my head…well, hopes really. Thoughts and hopes that may not have happened yet, but eventually will.  We’ve had some moments…some really great things…they’ve just not been what or when I was expecting them.

 And you’ll never believe what happened to me the other day: I found some dresses on sale and I bought them. Now if I could just find some fancy walking shoes to match…

——

About the Blogger:

Jen P. lives in Ohio, with her husband, son, and daughter.  Being a parent of a child with special needs is an incredible blessing, and she is glad that she was chosen to be Meg’s mom. 

 

 

Baby Sign Language

When I first started my job 7 years ago, I had a co-worker that was learning sign language. I’d always thought it would be neat to know sign language but never learned how. I then found out that she was learning in order to communicate with her 6 month old grandson. I found that very interesting and researched baby sign language.  One day she brought her grandson to work with her and showed us how he would sign “milk” for a bottle, “dirty” if he had a dirty diaper, and even “more” if he wanted more. She told me that it was so easy to communicate with him and that he didn’t cry much because he was able to tell his parents what he wanted. At that moment, I decided when I had children that I wanted to teach them sign language.

Fast forward 5 years to when I had my first child…I’d forgotten about the sign language until a friend of mine told me of a website called “BabySteals.com” (the same awesome site that introduced me to BabyLegs). One day I saw the “steal” was a DVD/CD set called Baby Signing Time and I immediately ordered it!  My daughter was about 13 months old and she was just beginning to talk and I could NOT wait to get her started on signing. Once we received the set I put the DVD in and my daughter was captivated by the children on the screen signing. My husband and I sat and watched as well. The host, Rachel, shows the sign, explains how to properly do it, and then sings a song while various children repeat the sign. My husband and I made sure to use signs when talking to our daughter to teach her. After about a month of watching the DVDs every night, our daughter showed us her first sign. We were walking out of the grocery store one rainy day and our daughter signed “rain”. We were so surprised and happy that we stopped right in the middle of the parking lot in the rain and praised her.

Rain Sign Language

It has been about a year since we started using sign language and our daughter knows about 75 or more signs and her communication is extremely advanced for her age. Our pediatrician was impressed with the way my daughter could sign and thought it was great that we were teaching her at such a young age. We have seen a decrease in temper tantrums even though she is only 2 years old because she can communicate with us better. We started later with her but plan on starting with our son when he is about 3 months old.

Have you used sign language with your baby? What type of results did you see?

About the Blogger:

My name is Stephanie. My husband and I have been married 3 years.  We have a two year old daughter and a little boy.

*Flashcard from BabySignLanguage.

The Differences Between Raising First and Second Children

I had always heard that parenting strategies differed between your first child and any subsequent children, but I never knew how true it was until our second came along! Our first child is now 8 and my parenting strategy with him can be summed up neatly into one word: overprotective. I washed his bottles/sippy cups separately from other dishes in the dishwasher and his clothing separately in the washing machine until he was well over a year old - with my daughter I only did that for the first few months. Whereas he wasn’t allowed to climb on to the sofa by himself or go anywhere near the stairs, my daughter is a little monkey who will climb anything and everything and loves spending hours at a time climbing up the stairs and sliding down on her bottom (with either Daddy or me right behind her of course, just in case!)

I think several factors contribute to these vast differences in the way we parent her compared to the way we parented him. The main one being the differences in their personalities. Our son was a shy, quiet child and was more interested in playing with shape sorters and puzzles than tumbling and climbing. He loved to sit and read books or just cuddle. Our daughter on the other hand is more rough-and-tumble and prefers a more hands-on approach to her exploration of the world around her.

Another factor that helps to explain the change between our parenting styles 8 years ago and now is our age. My husband and I were 19 and 20 when our son was born. At that young age, we were nervous and unprepared and therefore highly overprotective with him. Now that we’re older (and wiser), we are comfortable with giving our daughter a little more “breathing room” to grow and explore, while still keeping a watchful eye and arms ready to rescue her when she gets a little too adventurous!

Keep Calm and Parent On

Also, from our own experience and talking with friends who also have more than one child, the common theme seems to be that second children are more energetic and adventurous because they have an older sibling to try to keep up with. That definitely holds true in our house! So for those of you expecting or contemplating adding a second child (or more) to your family, my advice is to remember that you will more than likely have to change up your parenting style a bit and remain flexible, and not to worry if you find yourself doing things completely differently than with your first. It’s definitely an adjustment, but so worth it – change can be a great thing!

About the Blogger:

Hi! I’m Beth Ann and I live in Central PA. My husband and I have been together for 10 years and have an 8 year old son and an 18 month old daughter who both love BabyLegs. I’m a stay-at-home mom and also do part-time work from home as a legal transcriptionist. I enjoy working on my photography hobby, remodeling our house, going to sporting events, pretty much anything that involves spending time with my family!

*Image from Living Mi Vida Loca

 

The Joys of Staying Home!

BabyLegs Lucky Lady legwarmers

Lucky Lady Legwarmers

There are days when I question my sanity and my decision to be a stay at home mom. Let’s be honest, toddlers are no joke!

My daughter is almost 2 and I feel that this age is very fun because she is so curious! However, it is also an age where most children discover the art of screaming and throwing tantrums when you say ,”No you can’t have candy.” or something as simple as ”Wait a minute, I can only do so many things at once!” As I sit here writing this blog, I think about the future PTA meetings I’ll be attending and future ballet practices I’ll be driving her to and honestly, it makes me feel great that I will be able to do that!

But then reality hits me in the face – or was that mashed potatoes that my toddler threw because she decided it’s time to play with her food instead of eat it? This is the life of being home with a toddler. Messy hair, food all over your clothes and floors, toys all over the place, and your Tivo set to record every episode of Dora The Explorer or Blues Clues. I have to say, it’s challenging but I am all for it and I would definitely give it all up just to see a smile on her pretty face everyday.

Whether you decide to stay at home or return to work, being a parent is a challenge. How do you manage your life with kids?

 

Dairy Allergies Discovered and Chronic Ear Infections Are Gone!

Our journey with dairy allergies, began rather sneakily as, unaware of any connection, we struggled to help our infant daughter fight her chronic ear infections.

Our daughter, AB, was ear-infection-free for the first nine months of her life. She breastfed well, loved to eat as she started solids, had a few viruses here and there but was healthy overall and showed no signs of allergies other than the seasonal ones that run in our family. We were thankful to have a healthy baby, of course, and even more thankful that AB did not inherit the reflux her father and brother both struggled with. She also did not get ear infections like her brother did (starting at 3 months), a fact I thought might be caused from her being breastfed (he was not). She pulled at her ears all the time and at her checkups always had a lot of fluid and wax in her ears, but no infections. At about nine months old, AB developed a love of yogurt, particularly yogurt melts and Gerber baby yogurt. Every day she had her yogurt and just devoured it. She was still nursing as well and I had cheese, milk, and the occasional ice cream. Still, I did not at all consider the increase in AB’s dairy intake as a factor when she got her first ear infection at almost-ten months. I had heard about a possible link between dairy allergies and ear infections as well as eczema and reflux (both of which my son had), but did not remember it when AB’s first ear infection was confirmed.

That first ear infection turned into either three ear infections or one very long ear infection – a few days after a complete round of antibiotics, I took an ill AB back to the doctor’s office where they confirmed an ear infection. Yet again, a few weeks later, we were back with another ear infection. After this (third) antibiotic, AB got a reprieve and was ear-infection free again for a couple months, but at every check-up she had fluid in her ears. The fourth time we journeyed to the doctor for an ear infection was shortly after she turned one and started drinking whole milk in addition to nursing. This infection set in motion an identical series of doctor and pharmacy adventures as the first. After the third antibiotic to clear the ears, the doctor referred us to an Ear Nose and Throat Doctor (ENT) for tubes. I was hesitant about getting tubes put in my daughter’s ears and not at all certain this was the route I wanted to go – afterall, who wants to undergo any surgery unless it’s 100% necessary, let alone put their baby under for surgery. So skeptical and nervous, I went to the ENT’s office hoping maybe he would offer an alternative or assure me of the surgery’s necessity.

milk products

By the time we saw the ENT, AB’s ears were finally no longer infected but did still have fluid in them. The ENT was patronizingly quick to blow off my questions and concerns, treating me as if I should just schedule the tubes and get it over with and quit bothering him and making me certain I would not have him operating on my daughter. He did, however, give me a glimmer of surgery-alternative-hope when he said that her infections were likely caused by a dairy allergy. This statement intrigued me, and I tried to steer the conversation back to that possibility. Again, he somewhat blew me off, saying that I could try a dairy-elimination diet if I wanted, but treating me as if he assumed I wouldn’t because it would be too inconvenient or too much hassle. I know, from talking to others, that for many people this is the case and, instead of trying to eliminate dairy, they just get tubes. But even if that had been my initial reaction (which it wasn’t), his attitude toward me triggered my stubbornness and I determined to show him I could and would accomplish going dairy-free. The ENT’s nurse was much kinder, gave me a packet of information on dairy-elimination diets, and explained the basics to me. My husband was on-board with the dairy-elimination as well and two days later, AB and I started our new dairy-free diet.

The diet was fairly simple, though it took some adjusting too – no dairy at all, even in baked or cooked foods, for three full months then, if the diet seemed successful (no new ear infections), slowly add back in a little dairy here and there to see what happens. Already a label-reader for nutrition, I began looking for dairy ingredients now as, often, they are not as obvious as one would think. I discovered all sorts of dairy-infused products like CoffeeMate, which states “Non-Dairy” on the label, and beef broth and French Onion soup – staples in my Au Jus. In fact, Au Jus itself is impossible to find dairy-free unless made from scratch. And of course there are baked goods, soups, breads, and other favorites that are all filled with dairy. Daycare found that most sandwich thins are dairy-free and bought AB those for sandwiches there, so I bought them at home. I found that Almond Milk worked best for AB and that I could replace her yogurt with Soy yogurt. I found substitutes for the dairy in most of my favorite recipes and, since my husband doesn’t care for cheese anyway, we began getting pizza with no cheese on it. I checked the websites for our favorite restaurants in advance to know what dairy-free offerings they had and, with the exception of the occasional sneaky-ingredient that we may have missed when eating out, AB and I went dairy-free and ear-infection free. A much smoother transition than any of us thought it would be.

Once three months had passed, I slowly added dairy back to my diet but not AB’s, figuring it would be safer for me to have it first and see how she handled what she was getting through breastmilk, than try to add to her diet. It took two weeks of small amounts of dairy on my part every day and one large Cold Stone Creamery ice cream while on vacation (I just couldn’t resist) and AB went back to the doctor with an ear infection. That was proof enough for me. Back to dairy-free we went. It’s been four months since then and no ear infections despite a couple of colds. Not only that, but I feel better, have more energy, and am losing weight (slowing, but steadily, which is great). I expected, or at least hoped for, the positive impact on AB, but not on me, and couldn’t be happier about it. There are rare occasions when we may have a small amount of dairy because we are eating out or at someone else’s house and are not certain of the ingredients, but we avoid the biggies – dairy milk, cheese, yogurt, ice cream, butter, and anything we know will contain any of these ingredients, and all our food at home is dairy-free. The holidays may be more difficult to stay dairy-free during, but we plan to do our best (and maybe I’ll avoid those extra holiday pounds because of it). I really can sing praises about being dairy-free. I know that there are nutritionists out there who strongly advise against dairy and, as better as I feel not having it, I can’t help but agree with them.

So, if any of you are struggling with ear infections, eczema, reflux, night-waking, or any other of the myriad of symptoms that a dairy allergy can cause (if you look up the list, it’s amazing), I would definitely recommend trying to go dairy-free. You may just be surprised at how easy it is and how much better it is for you. Of course, it is not a guarantee. Some children have ear infections, reflux, eczema, etc. for other reasons and a doctor should always be consulted, especially when, or in case, dairy-elimination does not work, as it does not always. Be warned though, many doctors poo-poo the dairy allergy link; mine did until AB became infection free than said “maybe the ENT has something there.” So, trust your instincts and get other opinions if need be. But certainly give dairy-elimination some thought.

Dairy photo from www.allergies-tips.com

About the Blogger: 

Hi! I’m Shawna, a married mother of two — one boy, one girl, who loves being a mom. My kids throw me for a loop sometimes with their surprises and life is always an adventure with little ones around, but I wouldn’t change it for anything.