Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Stylish Blog Award!!!

Thanks to Kagi, at Sweetened By Kagi, I have received a Stylish Blog Award!  She passed this award along to me today, and I am excited to be a part of it.  Thank you so much, Kagi!  Check out her blog for some awesome ideas for creative and adorable sweet treats.  For all of you moms out there, she has some really cute Elmo themed cakes and cookies.  :-)  Thanks again, Kagi!

Here are the RULES that come along with winning this award:
1. Thank and link back to the person who awarded you this award.
2. Share 7 things about yourself
3. Pay it forward to 15 bloggers that you have recently discovered.
4. Contact bloggers and tell them about their award!

 {7 Random Facts About Me}
  1. My favorite foods are tomatoes, macaroni and cheese, and taco salad.
  2. I'm obsessed with music and LOVE to sing.
  3. I rock a pretty awesome clarinet!  :-)
  4. My sister is my best friend.
  5. I want to be a cosmetologist.  
  6. Janis Joplin is my favorite female performer of all time.
  7. I think everyone needs to know and live the message in Matisyahu's "One Day".

I am awarding the following blogs with the Stylish Blog Award as well!  A few of them are new to the blogging world and are sharing some great tips, tricks, and ideas.  Others have been around for a while and constantly offer great advice, share wonderful stories, and host neat giveaways.  They're all worthy of this award.  Please check them out and "follow" these wonderful ladies.  :-)   
In no particular order...

Thanks again for this awesome award!  :-)

Should I Let the Baby Cry at Night??

Who knew this topic was such a controversial issue??  Last night, as my daughter delved into the 24th minute of screaming cries, I entered this topic into my search engine and began reading.  I had no idea how many mothers are so passionate about their perspectives on this debate.  I was just searching to see what I would find.  After reading the terrible things mothers have said to each other, I've decided to write about it and provide unbiased pros and cons.  *** This question shouldn't be asked until the baby is old enough to sleep through the night in his or her crib.  Obviously, young babies need more feedings regardless the time of day.

First, I would like to preface this with the fact that not a single parent in the world wants to be told they're abusing their kids or setting them up for emotional and physical turmoil.  This debate, for example, seems to encroach upon that territory.  If you do not let your child cry at night, I respect it.  If you do let your child cry at night, I respect it.  As long as the child is being loved and properly cared for, these are your decisions as parents.  I go with my gut on these things, and you should as well.  Ultimately, you know what is best for your little ones. 

For me, I was letting my daughter cry because she has recently started waking up the second her body is lowered down into her crib.  Once she realizes where she is, she stands up and cries.  Last night was the 3rd night in a row, and I don't want her thinking we're going to run in there every single time.  My husband doesn't get to spend much time with her during the week as he works so many hours.  Because of this, he thinks it's OK to spoil her on the weekends.  I know he misses her and hates working as much as he does, so I've tried to be patient.  Saturday, however, he rushed to her side as she cried in her crib and let her sleep in the bed with him.  After about an hour, I put her back in her room and didn't hear a sound until the next morning.  The following night was HORRIBLE.  She cried and cried and cried.  Finally, I brought her to bed but only because I could not physically stay awake any longer.  Around 2am, I put her back in her crib.

Last night, I decided we should wait and see if she stopped crying.  I hate letting her cry and can't stand her being upset, but I do NOT want her climbing into bed with us every night as she gets older.  It's common sense to know if we continue allowing her to sleep with us every time she cries, this behavior will continue to repeat itself.  As we let her cry last night, the cries turned to screams and gasps for breath.  Yes, I want to comfort my child.  I'm not a monster.  It got more difficult the longer the cries lasted, so I thought would search and see what other moms were saying about the issue.

After reading some feedback, I began to feel even more guilty about letting her cry.  I still didn't want to reward the behavior, so I waited until she had stopped for a few minutes and checked on her.  She was still standing there... defeated... but standing.  Since she had calmed down, and blank faces from internet posts had made me feel guilty, I picked her up and cuddled her back to sleep.

Should I have felt guilty though?  No.  I know my kid.  People can say it's impossible for a baby to be manipulative, but my kid is very manipulative.  I know in my "gut" that I should have remained strong and let her soothe herself.  She's almost 10 months old.  She's very smart and independent.  It's OK.  As I said, this is my personal story about my child.  Your parenting style may be different and your child's needs may be different as well.

After reading the various arguments floating around, I've decided to construct them into 2 lists below.  The first list is why women say we should let the baby cry and the second, why we should not let the baby cry.  I've also included a few links you can check out for more stories and advice.  If you've found this post via a search engine, please note I am not a doctor or medical professional.  I merely research and summarize.  :-)

Why It's OK (Supposedly)
  • Baby needs to learn to soothe himself
  • Baby won't develop the behavior of "controlled crying" in order to manipulate situations in the future
  • Baby will learn to comfortably sleep in his crib
  • Sometimes babies just cry
  • Need to learn to cope with separation anxiety
  • Schedule
Why It's Not OK (Supposedly)
  • Babies cry because they need something (not feeling well, diaper, food, comfort, sleep, etc.)
  • Emotional insecurity - Baby may not think the parent will be there when needed
  • Baby may not feel loved 
  • Intense separation anxiety
  • Some people think it is selfish.
  • Baby will learn to associate the crib with fright and being upset rather than comfort and sleep.
Again, I am not saying I agree with each of these points.  I think it is up to the parent to decide what is best for their child.  Much of the response to this question seems to be one sided.  If you're wondering whether or not it's OK to let your child cry, don't let anyone guilt you into deciding one way or the other.  Read what you can, but ultimately, you know what is best. 

For additional reading, click the links below.
Storknet Article

    Monday, March 28, 2011

    Fatspiration Tip #1

    I have tons of mommy topics in my mind that I would like to write about, but at the moment, I'm consumed with my newest attempt at losing weight, getting healthy, and feeling better about myself.  It is Day 4, and I'm doing pretty well.  I already feel so much better and have more energy.  I'm sticking to my points (WW) and have been spending time on my elliptical every day.  Again, this is only Day 4, but I feel good about this. 

    I do have moments of weakness, and I really do think about food most of the day.  However, when I feel I might give in, I stare at my FAT picture. 

    Fatspiration Tip #1:

    Take a FAT picture!  FAT = Finally Acknowledging the Truth.  

    If anyone else out there is trying to shed some pounds and is actually serious about it, I strongly suggest taking a FAT picture.
    1. Change into an outfit that fits your body.  Don't try to cover your flab with baggy clothing.  Find a pair of leggings or shorts and top it with a tank top or sports bra. 
    2. Set up a camera with a self timer or have someone prepare to take your picture.  Make sure the camera catches your entire body.  Don't try to crop out the spare tire or thunder thighs.  :-)
    3. Pose!
    4. Display the picture on your refrigerator, cabinet, or wherever it will give you the most inspiration. 
    Not only will this keep you motivated but you'll have a "before" picture as a reminder of all of your hard work once you lose the weight.  :-)

    Thursday, March 24, 2011

    Therapy In Blogging

    I started this blog with the intention of sharing my stories with other new moms.  I wanted to provide some sort of help to other mothers in similar situations.  However, the writing really turned into a type of therapy for me.  It has become my outlet.

    I would advise anyone struggling with any internal battles, conflict, confusion, or depression to write about it.  I know it has helped me.  There is a sense of anonymity in blogging.  You are in control of how much personal information you release and whether or not you want to share your blog with people you know.  When I started, I didn't tell anyone about it.  Eventually, I started publicizing my writing.  For me, it was another step in the healing process.  I had to confront my issues and be honest with myself.  Once I got things out in the open, I felt better.

    The support and encouragement I've received from fellow bloggers has been phenomenal.  There is an entire blogging community comprised of people going through whatever situations you're going through, and it's nice to know these people support you.  Even if you don't want to search for other people writing about the issues you're experiencing, it really does help to put your thoughts into writing.

    To read an interesting article about blogging being therapeutic, check out CNN Living.

    Wednesday, March 23, 2011

    Postpartum Hair Loss - Update

    I frequently check the key words and phrases that are being linked to my blog and have seen quite a few people searching for information regarding postpartum hair loss.  If you have been directed to this post via a search engine and would like to read the original post (Postpartum... Baldness??), click here.   I initially wrote about hair loss when my daughter was 4 months old.  Five months have passed, and I have encouraging words for other mothers in the same situation.

    It is common for women to shed hair following a pregnancy.  According to the American Pregnancy Association, about 40-50% of women also experience telogen effluvium, which is "the excessive shedding of hair that occurs one to five months following pregnancy."  The hair is supposed to return to normal within 6 to 12 months.

    When my hair fell out, I was left with bald spots.  I had very long, thick hair, but with the excessive shedding, decided it would be best to cut it into a shorter style.  It has been a long process, but my hair is slowly growing back.  The bald spots have been replaced with new hair growth.  Some pieces are reaching about 2" long.  It makes for awkward pony tails and some crazy looking hair styles, but I'm glad it is noticeably growing.  Below, I've posted a picture to display some of the new hair growth.

    I'm not posting this picture because it's flattering by any means.  If you're experiencing a similar situation, I just want you to know that it does get better.  As women, whether we like it or not, our hair is a defining feature.  It is part of what makes us feel confident and attractive.  To lose it can be devastating.  When mine began to fall out, I struggled quite a bit.  My hair has always been the one thing I could control and manipulate however I wanted.  I've always been proud of my long, blonde locks.  When I lost it, I lost my self-esteem.  There was not much I could do about it, so I turned inward, refused to leave my house more than absolutely necessary, and drowned my sorrows in food.  I'm hoping other moms out there will have patience and follow the advice listed on the American Pregnancy Association website.

    The American Pregnancy Association offers great tips for battling this excessive hair loss.  If your hair loss has not improved within 6-12 months after pregnancy, consult a doctor for a proper diagnosis.  Many women experience female pattern baldness.  Click here to read more.  For these women, there are treatments to help create new growth, but they are costly, and you must have the correct diagnosis in order to find the best treatment.  Again, check out the links above for more information.  Have patience and keep your spirits high.

    Tuesday, March 22, 2011

    New! Essay Editor

    I have created a new page!  Click the "Essay Editor" tab above to learn more.  I'm piloting an editing resource via this blog.  If you or someone you know is in need of a qualified English teacher to edit an essay, check out my services!

    Monday, March 21, 2011

    Personal Story Time: I can't cook.

    I grew up baking.  That's what we do.  The women in my family bake.  If you're in the need for some traffic-stopping zucchini bread, I'm your woman.  However, I have never been much of a chef.  Can't we just have chocolate chip cookies and banana nut muffins for dinner?

    When I started my stint as a stay-at-home mom, I decided I would learn how to cook real food for my husband and my daughter.  I set out on a mission to learn how to instinctively cook healthier, tastier meals.  I can whip up a tater tot casserole like it's nobody's business.  Meat and potatoes are easy, but everything else?  Not so much.

    After dinner one night before I went back to work, my husband said, "Huh... you're becoming quite the cook.  I didn't expect that."  In typical male fashion, the comment came out wrong, but he meant well.  Practicing had been helping me, and I saw some progress.  I felt more confident in the kitchen.  Then... I went back to work and stopped experimenting.  For 7 weeks, I cooked what I knew (again).  I was tired after working with high school freshmen all day and cooked whatever was simple and quick for dinner.  Now, that I'm back home, I'm discovering cooking to be one of those skills I have to continue practicing or I lose it.  The past 3 days, I've tried new recipes.  When I ask my husband what he thinks as he's eating his dinner, he pauses.  Every single time.  He pauses.  Then, after carefully deciding how to respond, he says, "It's alright."  "It's disgusting" is what he wants to say.  Today was the worst.  The poor guy had worked 11 straight hours without stopping for lunch or breaks.  He was starving when he walked through the front door.  Anticipating a hungry husband after he missed lunch, I had concocted a marinade for a few hamburgers and had them cooking as he arrived.  Anxiously, he grabbed his plate and sat down to enjoy his meal.  How he stopped himself from spitting out that first bite, I'll never know.  The marinade was awful; I had soaked them way too long; the burgers were gross.

    I'm going to continue trying new recipes and attempting to learn how to cook meals that don't involve fried potatoes, macaroni and cheese, or taco salad, but I'm not holding out much hope.  I think I missed that gene somewhere.  It wasn't passed down.

    Saturday, March 19, 2011

    Working Didn't Work for Me

    In January, I decided to go back to work as a high school English teacher.  I had stayed home with my daughter for her first 6 months and had made the decision to put her in the care of a babysitter and return to my other children (my students).

    Before I begin explaining this crazy experience, I need to preface with a few details of the area in which we live.  My husband and I are both educators.  We participated in an award winning program as undergraduates and were placed on the Navajo reservation to complete our student teaching.  We fell in love with the area and our students and decided to stay.  In doing so, we assimilated to life on the "rez".  We have no family here and the majority of the friends we made in our first year here have moved on and out of the area.  We drive 2 and a half hours to town (for all shopping, doctors' appointments, and general running of errands) and are incredibly isolated.  I'm not complaining.  These are merely the facts.  As non-native district employees, we live in the teacher housing unit on campus.  The middle school and district office building are on the other side of my backyard fence.  School isn't just a job here; it consumes one's entire life.

    The kids here make their ways into your hearts quickly and will pounce on every bit of attention, love, and effort you are willing to put forth.  I truly care about all of my students as though they are my own children. I am a good teacher.  I am effective in the classroom and out.  In my time here, I've sponsored many clubs and activities.  I have students who have graduated but still call me "Mom" when seeing me at the grocery store.  I love teaching and love my kids.  Having said this, when I do things, I want to do them perfectly.  Obviously, I want to be an amazing teacher.  When I started teaching again in January, things were different.  My daughter had to come first.

    People told me things would get easier as I continued working.  I would adapt and get used to the little one being with a babysitter during the day.  However, that did not happen.  In the 7 weeks I was working, there was not a single day I didn't break down crying at school.  I taught my lessons and worked with my students.  I did everything I was supposed to do, but the second the bell would ring between classes or my prep period would come, I was broken.  The distractions minimized, and my focus was on the little girl I had dropped off with the babysitter.  I obsessed over it.  Then, at the end of the day, I would pick up my daughter and refuse to touch any work related tasks until she was in bed for the night.  This was done in an effort to make sure I always put her first, but instead of enjoying my limited time with her, I stressed about work.  Each second I was at home, I was obsessing over all of the things I needed to finish for school.  I am not one of those people who can stay up all night long trying to finish my work, but I couldn't sleep either.  I would lie in bed mulling over the hundreds of things I needed to do.  I managed to keep up on my lesson plans, and my instruction in the classroom was fine, but my grading piled up and I wasn't able to do all of the extra things I needed to do for my students.  My house and relationship with my husband suffered as well.  He was used to me being home and is an insanely busy man.  I think he just expected me to continue doing all of the housework by myself.  The laundry piled up, the dust accumulated, and the dishes could have created their own colony.

    I was suffocating.  Constant stress and anxiety took over.  I know the babysitter is a wonderful mother to her own daughter, and I shouldn't have worried, but there were a few things that bothered me when I would pick up my baby.  Those tiny things were exaggerated in my mind and grew into mountains.  I just couldn't get over the fact that I wasn't doing either of my jobs well.  I wasn't able to spend time with my daughter, teach her new skills, enjoy silly moments together.  I was too freaked out about work. I also wasn't able to be the teacher I wanted to be because I was freaked out about my daughter.  I fell behind in both areas and had to make a choice.

    The best decision for our little family was for me to return to being a stay-at-home mom.  I was honest with my principal throughout; I completed my duties and stayed long enough to get through the state standardized tests.  I had accomplished most of the things I had set out to do.  Ultimately, I got the students started on a huge project, left plans to last them a few weeks, and returned home.

    The decision to leave my students was not an easy one.  I stressed about it for weeks and didn't tell them until there were only 2 days left.  I continued to teach as though nothing were changing (with exception of the last 5 minutes of my last class period).  I think I had an impact on the kids while I was there, and I don't regret going back.  It was nice to teach again, nice to challenge myself and feel needed, nice to develop relationships with students.  Yes, it was terrible leaving them, and I cried during each class period as I repeated the same news.

    I just couldn't do it.  Not here.  Not with the only babysitters being people I do not know well enough to trust caring for my child.  In a few months, we will be leaving the reservation and moving closer to our family.  I will, undoubtedly, have to find a new job.  I will also have family members available for babysitting.  Once my daughter is in the care of someone I whole heartedly trust, I'll be OK.  It will still be difficult, but at least I know my mom or mother-in-law will be the ones changing diapers, feeding the baby, and actively interacting with her.  They have vested interests in her well-being.  It will be better.  I will be happier knowing that I don't have to worry or stress.  I will be calm.  :-)

    After this insanely difficult experience, my advice for new moms who are going back to work is this:

    • Be patient.
    • Find a babysitter or childcare facility with which you are entirely comfortable.
    • When you have difficult days, talk it out with your partner or someone who will listen.  
    • Don't let anyone make you feel guilty for wanting to be with your child.
    • Give it time.
    • Ultimately, go with your gut.  :-)  You have to be comfortable with your situation, and you are the only person who can decide what is best for you.  

    I'm back.

    I haven't written a post in a very long time.  The last entry was all about me debating whether or not to go back to work.  Well... I did.  Maintaining a full time job outside of my home, in addition to the one ingrained in the natural chemistry of being a mother, proved to be rather exhausting.  It didn't warrant itself to blogging.  In a nutshell, I dropped off the face of the earth after I went back to work.

    I recently checked my stats and was surprised to see how many views my posts continued to receive in my absence.  Thank you to everyone who has Googled the key phrases and topics my blog has covered thus far.  Also, thank you to those of you who have left comments or contacted me via email.  My original intention for writing was to provide information to other new moms out there who are experiencing similar situations, and I'm glad some of you have found a little bit of support here.  I also sincerely apologize to those of you who reached out to me for additional advice or feedback while I was working.  

    I'm back, and I plan to write frequently once again.  The focus of the blog may change slightly as my daughter is moving into the toddler stage and I find myself diving deeper into the world of education.  Hopefully, someone out there in internet land will continue to find my posts useful in one way or another.