Teaching Our Children

By: Brady Evans

My heart broke over Christmas break. I was with my son for two weeks straight because I’m in education and have the luxury of that winter holiday break. And there we were, sitting in the living room, kissing each other, and wrestling, and hugging each other, and talking when I decided that I’d sing some nursery rhymes. After all, at 20 months he seemed of-age. So I busted out the first song that came to my mind, “Itsy Bitsy Spider.” I saw my son, standing in front of me, smiling, and he immediately began the hand motions of the spider crawling up the spout, the rain coming down, and the sun coming out.  And initially I smiled SO BIG and SO PROUD because he knew this song and was executing it so beautifully with such a grin and we were having this special moment. And then it hit me: I didn’t teach him this song. I didn’t teach him “Itsy Bitsy Spider.” He learned that from daycare. And tears filled my eyes.

Hanging out in the daycare parking lot after I picked him up because I couldn't stand to just drive straight home without spending quality times. Most days little buddy is asleep when I leave for work so it is nearly 24 hours when I see him again.

Hanging out in the daycare parking lot after I picked him up because I couldn’t stand to just drive straight home without spending quality time. Most days little buddy is asleep when I leave for work so it is nearly 24 hours when I see him again.

What else does my little boy know that I don’t know he knows? What other vocabulary words, songs, lessons, and more am I failing to reinforce at home? What else did he learn from daycare and not from me?

Don’t get me wrong. It isn’t that I don’t want daycare to teach him. Of course I do. I toured daycares and asked questions about curriculum, lessons, and more (my husband and I are both teachers so obviously it was a priority) but that moment when he sang that song like he’s been doing it for months just hit me hard. I had a feelings of pride, gratitude, jealousy, and hurt all rolled into the tears that filled my eyes.

Watching his obsession with understanding how the wheels on his little bike work - I assume he does this at daycare too - pushing and pulling and analyzing how the wheels turn on their grocery carts and walking toys

Watching his obsession with understanding how the wheels on his little bike work. I assume he does this at daycare too – pushing and pulling and analyzing how the wheels turn on their grocery carts and walking toys.

I know I can’t be the sole teacher of my child and I don’t have a monopoly on filling his brain with knowledge. I know sweet Benjamin will learn from other people throughout his life. I know my son loves his teachers and smiles adoringly at them and I know they love him. They KNOW him. They know when he’s happy or may be slightly feverish. They know what he likes (swinging, books, fans, and lights) and what he doesn’t like (dirty hands, tall slides). And I am thankful for that. I am thankful that I trust his teachers and caregivers to love him, take care of him, and teach him.

Brady and Benjamin

Knowing that even though daycare spends more time with him, nothing replaces mom.

But I never will forget that feeling of not knowing what he knows. Seeing him, at 20 months, have this amazing skill he didn’t learn from his parents. It’s just another artifact of being in a family where both parents work very, very full time jobs.

What I Do for Fun

By: Brady Evans

The other day someone asked me what I like to do for fun. I sat there, stunned into silence. I know I have fun. I laugh and smile. I take pictures and post them to Facebook and Instagram. But what do I like to do for fun?

Parenting

I know what I used to like to do.  I used to like to ride my horse, train for endurance runs, and run my food blog.

I can’t remember when I last rode my horse, I haven’t run regularly since 2013, and my food blog no longer exists on the Internet.

I am embarrassed to say that what I like to do for fun is play with my child and spend time with my husband. I am not sure why. There’s this expectation, maybe put forth by my own consciousness, but probably put forth more by society, that I am supposed to have something external to my family that I do for fun. Being a mom can’t be my fun. Parenting can’t be my hobby.

Parenting

Why? The thing I look forward to every day is picking up my son from daycare. I live for Saturday morning naps with my baby. My husband and I have pillow talk each night about how our son is growing and developing. We relive the funny things he did or retell stories of his day that the other parent may have missed.

Parenting

I don’t run anymore. I don’t ride my horse. I don’t food blog. I don’t miss those things. What I do for fun is mother. And that’s okay. It shouldn’t be embarrassing. I should be proud of it. This stage of life is no longer about me – it is about us. So when you ask me what I do for fun, consider asking what WE do for fun. We walk our dogs, we go to the park, we have tickle fights, and we read books about animals.

The 21st Century Baby Book

By: Brady Evans

My child’s baby book is actually an email account. When I was pregnant with him I secured his name as an account with my email provider and began writing him short notes. Now, 18 months since his day of birth, I imagine his inbox is filled with hundreds of short notes, images, and videos documenting his life.

Letters to my son

That’s what this world has become.  Paper baby books aren’t a thing much anymore, I imagine It wasn’t much of a thing even in my infancy. My book is only partially filled out from my days as a baby. We all organize and live by our phones, so it made so much sense to me to be able to document milestones and memorable events via my phone rather than sitting down and filling in the blanks on some printed template. What if I want to share things that there are no spaces for in the book? What if there are spaces in the book for things I don’t know?

Letters to my son

I haven’t yet imagined the day when I will give him the credentials to sign into the email account. And it may be painful – after all, the account is filled with memories from loved ones who may have passed on by that time. And when I give him the credentials he may not even care to sit down and take the time to read through the overstuffed inbox. But I know when he’s in my situation – hopefully with a child of his own on the way – he’ll wonder about his childhood and this is the perfect way for us to document it.

Letters to my son

Cloth Diapers

It is Sunday again so that means that it is laundry day. Doing laundry on the weekends is not novel to most families. It is a time for many mothers to catch up and do load after load after load in between the other tasks of grocery shopping, cleaning, and spending time together as a family. In between my loads of work clothes, toddler clothes, and casual clothes, though, I have another type of laundry going on.

Cloth diapers

Diaper laundry. A lot of people are surprised when they find out I cloth diaper. Some older people, somewhat familiar with the idea from generations past, ask if I have a diaper service. Hm. We can hardly get delivery pizza out in Gilbert, SC let alone diaper pick up and drop off.

I decided to cloth diaper my son when I was pregnant. It took a lot of convincing on the part of my husband to get him on board. Why would we do something so gross when disposable diapers are readily available? How could we dare wash bodily fluids in the same washing machine as our clothes? Are we really going to invest $300 in a stash of cloth diapers when we could just put some diapers on our registry and go from there?

Cloth diapers

So why was I so insistent on cloth diapering? First – it isn’t that crazy of a thing. Many of our parents and certainly our grandparents did it. Second – cloth diapers have come a long way. They aren’t the “plastic pants” of generations past.

Over the span of 2.5 years of diapering, these diapers are estimated to save us $1800-$2200 with an initial investment of only a few hundred dollars. They can be reused for subsequent children as well.

They are better for the environment. It has been estimated that it takes 250 years for a disposable diaper to decompose!

They are adorable.

Some people try to mention that I’m wasting water by rinsing and then washing the diapers. All they have to do is look into how much water is used in the making of disposables.

About washing them in my washing machine – if any parent thinks they’ll never be washing vomit or poop clothes in their washing machine at home they are sadly mistaken! And while we’re talking about poop clothes – in 16 months all of our “blow out” diapers have been disposable we’ve been using while traveling. We love how dependable our cloth diapers are.

cloth diapers

Having this cloth diaper chore probably adds 45 minutes to my week of “stuff to do.” The rewards are worth it, though. I feel good about doing another thing to help the environment, I’m never rushing to the store because we’re out of diapers, I’m not spending any money on diapers, and I can do less laundry on days where we let the diaper be our “pants” because they are so cute!

cloth diapers

If you are interested in cloth diapers, don’t be intimidated. They are easier than one would think! Here are some resources:

http://theartofsimple.net/cloth-diapering/

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=64os5I4_Z9Q

10 Tips for Traveling With a Toddler

By: Brady Evans

Benjamin and I just completed our fourth flight – most of which I did with him solo. After doing this for awhile, I’ve come up with 10 tips to help moms deal with airports and such.

The beach at Grandma's!

The beach at Grandma’s!

10. You’ll never see these people again. Don’t stress out!

9. Remember that most of these people were babies themselves and had babies themselves. If your child is cranky give them a meek smile and make no excuses for yourself. Far more people understand your plight than you think.

8. Bring a change of clothes for the baby – and for you! I haven’t needed to use either, but with traveling comes a lot of close contact and a mess for the baby can easily turn into a mess for the both of you.

Benjamin playing in a somewhat empty airport gate area.

Benjamin playing in a somewhat empty airport gate area.

7. If you cloth diaper like I do – give it up and take disposables. Some things just aren’t worth it.

6. Dump out your child’s water cup before going through security. Doh! It is just water and I could have easily refilled it on the other side of security but having this cup means extra levels of screening with my baby and a carry-on.

5. Less is more. Don’t bother bringing reading material or your iPad. Baby isn’t going to be idle enough to let you read and won’t give a darn about your iPad. Ask me how I know.

4. Layovers are helpful. Direct flights are tempting but dealing with a squirmy baby with no breaks on a long flight is TOUGH. I chose flights with short-ish layovers to give myself a chance to change the diaper in the airport, stretch my legs, and give baby a change of scenery.

Pretzels!

Pretzels!

3. Snacks. Never underestimate the power of a pretzel even if you think the baby can’t possibly be hungry.

2. Standards. Lose them. Baby can have white flour for once. A Starbucks sugar-loaded frappucino isn’t so bad if it gives mom a pick-me-up.

Benjamin praying for an uneventful flight.

Benjamin praying for an uneventful flight.

1. Have fun!  Enjoy your getaway, laugh at your goofy kid, and let go.

Bonus tip: It doesn’t seem like a tip to me since it is such a big part of our life, but lose the stroller and wear your baby. You won’t have to take your baby off during security checks, you’ll have your hands free, and baby will be happy!

Boardrooms & Boobs: Making Breastfeeding Work at Work

 

By: Sarah McClanahan

Before we get into how to feed babies with your boobs (after all, that’s why we have them), let me first say that I give props to all moms, especially those with babies. It’s ridiculously challenging to keep them (mostly) happy and healthy. If you choose formula from day one or use it when nursing doesn’t work out, whether you work in or out of the home, being a mom is hard work – wonderful, rewarding and hard.

With that out of the way, let’s get pumped up!

I work full time out of the home and have managed to breastfeed Sweet Baby Ethan for seven months as of this week. And I love it. I’ll spare you the gushy details about how nursing my children has forged a bond with them that literally makes my heart ache, but I will say that I know that I’m truly blessed to have been able to care for my children in this way.

There are so many roadblocks that nursing moms have to overcome, especially if they work out of the home. Keeping up your milk supply is no joke. It makes me really appreciate whoever invented the double electric breast pump. Thanks, dude. Totally nailed it.

I’m not going to lie. Pumping sucks. Literally. It’s one thing to pump for relief from engorgement or to start a small freezer stash, but it’s a whole other thing to pump regularly while juggling your work responsibilities – every day, several times a day.

Here’s how I keep my supply up and craziness down.

I go with the concept of nursing/pumping about every three hours. I’m blessed beyond words to work for an organization with on-site childcare. I only have to pump twice a day and can nurse Sweet Baby Ethan on my lunch break. WIN!

I do my best to never skip a pumping session. It would spell disaster for my supply. To that end, here’s tip #1. Block times on your calendar to avoid scheduling meetings or projects that would cause you to miss a session.

Here’s a typical daytime schedule:

7:00 a.m. – Nurse Sweet Baby Ethan before work

9:30 a.m. – First pumping session

11:45 p.m. – Nurse Sweet Baby Ethan

3:30 p.m. – Second pumping session

7:00 p.m. – Nurse Sweet Baby Ethan to bed

Armed with my super-awesome double electric pump, each session lasts 20 minutes. I pump more in the mornings (10-12 oz) and less in the afternoons (5-7 oz).

breastfeeding at work

Right now, I average 8 oz per session, which gives me about 16 oz per day. Sweet Baby Ethan takes 14 oz each day, so we we’re able to boost our stash by at least 10 oz a week. I also pump once in the morning on the weekends since I have a lot of milk in the mornings. So far, we have around 135 bags of breast milk in our stash. It’s a little more than 650 oz! See… dairy cow.

breastfeeding for working moms

If you’ve ever pumped, then you know. The numbers game is brutal if you aren’t matching baby 1:1. Brutal. I remember pumping for Super Colin and watching the numbers dwindle toward the end of our breastfeeding journey. It’s happened with Sweet Baby Ethan during growth spurts, and naturally, I panicked.

But there are things you can do to increase your supply. For me, it’s drinking water, and when I think I’ve had enough, I drink more water. I also eat oatmeal every day.

It’s important to remember that what you pump does NOT reflect how much milk you’re actually producing. Your body was created to feed a person, not a machine. So don’t think you have zero milk in your body if you only can get out a few ounces at a time.

breastfeeding tips

There are also a lot of logistics to consider when you’re a working mom with a nursling. Where can I pump? How do I clean my pump parts? Where can I store my milk?

And these questions are just the ones to consider when going back to work. You also need to think about what kind of pump you should get. When should you start pumping? When do you introduce the bottle?

Find out what I did to make the transition to nursing working mom in my next post.

#NormalizeBreastfeeding

#DontBeABoobFeedABabyFromOne

Baby Sign Language

By: Brady Evans

Did you know that babies can do sign language? They can communicate with sign language well before they can with words.

baby sign language

We started signing with Benjamin when he was just a few months old – right when we felt he could focus on our hands and mouth. We’d say the words out loud and give him the hand motions and then feel like fools for doing so. And then one day, when he was about six months old, he gave us the “milk” sign while nursing. That’s when we knew this was going to be a great thing. A 6-month-old with a specific communication for his hunger!? Amazing.

Our caregivers and I used Babysignlanguage.com for signs. These signs are simplified versions of American Sign Language. There are videos and cards you can use with your child but we never took that route. We just say the word and use the sign. Now at 13 months old, Benjamin signs “milk,” “eat,” “more,” and “wait.”

It truly is an amazing experience having a child that purposefully asks for what he desires instead of screaming out of frustration. You don’t need to worry about using signs inhibiting language development. My child has 4 distinct verbal words at 13 months old in addition to his signs. Signing simply enhances the language we use. It really is a fun and rewarding way to interact with your baby.

For more information, read these articles from BabyCenter and psych central.