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Today is Babywise Friendly Blog Network Day. We are all writing on the topic of sleep. Check out all of the posts below.

New parents these days are often hiring sleep coaches to help their babies sleep better. Fees range on average from $100 to $1000, but can even be more expensive than this! It's a trend, because it works. But, I'm here to tell you that you have all of the resources at your hands that sleep consultants do. You do not need to spend one cent hiring anyone to help your baby and family sleep longer stretches at night. Seems too good to be true? It's not.

Sleep consultants recommend a few basic ideas. They put their own spin on it, and they offer individual support, but the message remains the same:

1. Get your baby on a schedule that makes sense
2. Use routines with your baby
3. Promote good sleep habits by removing any bad sleep habits (nursing to sleep)
4. Use some form of sleep training to get your baby falling asleep on their own (without your help)

I know that may sound hard. But it's not. And, you have a ton of resources at your fingertips to help explain those concepts.



First, let me give you the basic concepts here. Then, let's talk about those resources and how to get even more information.

Schedules
Schedules work, because babies need a certain amount of sleep. They can't get too much OR too little. Both scenarios result in a baby that can't sleep well. If you get your baby on a schedule that works during the day, night time sleep falls into place pretty smoothly. You can take a look at all of our schedules by age on this schedules page.

Routines
Routines do a couple of things. First, they let your baby learn what is coming next and be mentally prepared. Second, they promote good sleep habits (if you use the right ones). The most common routine that is recommended is to do an eat, wake, sleep cycle throughout the day. This basic routine, prevents your baby from learning to fall asleep after eating. In other words, they won't be relying on boob or bottle to sleep. And that's a plus for you! Other big routines that are helpful to use, are having bedtime routines in place to signal to your baby that it's sleepy time.

Sleep Habits
Guess what!? If you are doing schedules and routines, you are WELL on your way to good sleep habits. In addition to those suggestions, sleep consultants will recommend removing sleep props, and refraining from rocking your baby to sleep.

Sleep Training
Sleep training isn't always just letting your baby cry it out for hours on end. There are all sorts of methods, but the general goal is to get your baby falling asleep on their own, without your assistance. It's HUGE in the long run to gaining more sleep at night.

If your baby wakes in the middle of the night, and they know how to put themselves to sleep... they won't be calling you back in. But, if they don't have those skills in place, they'll be crying for you. Your baby will lose a lot of sleep as a result, and so will you.

Sleep training helps the whole family get more sleep. There are methods that use intervals, and extinction routes, and gentle sleep training methods. Just choose the one that fits your family the best.

Ok, sounds good on paper, but what resources do you have to help get you on the right track? SO MANY!

Resources:

1. Use the Village 
There is a reason we have all heard the phrase "it takes a village". Use the village. There are blogs like these written by moms that want to help other moms- with a plethora of information! There are mom groups on facebook- with their sole purpose dedicated to helping moms get their baby sleeping. There are moms in your neighborhood- and every single one of these moms goes through the baby phase. Every mom has experience to offer. So ask. Listen. Try things.

2. Spend a few dollars on a book 
Go to amazon or go to your local library. Buy or check out the Babywise book. What is the Babywise book? It is a book that explains the eat, wake, sleep cycles in detail. It is a book that has baby schedule recommendations for each week and month of a baby's life. It is a wonderful resource. And there is so much more to the book than just those two things. The book will show you how to promote good sleep habits. It is the best resource for getting on track fast.

3. Research Sleep Training and Decide Which Method (if any) is Right For You
Seriously consider sleep training. But this is your last resort. You may not have to do any sleep training if you do the schedules, routines, and sleep habits right. So, while you are implementing schedules and routines, just be researching. Use blogs like this one to see personal experiences. Join the sleep training groups on facebook. Wrap your head around it. After a few weeks of implementing schedules and routines, come back to this if you need to. But don't start here. You have to have a good foundation in place for sleep training to even work.

You'll have to put work in no matter what. Whether you hire a sleep coach, or go it alone, or use the village. It's tough. Parenting is hard. Figuring out babies is difficult. Getting them to sleep can be daunting. But it's doable. You can do it without spending a fortune, and there are so many of us here ready and willing to help you in this journey. Save your money, Mama- and don't be afraid to reach out to that village.

-Katrina


Other Posts of Interest

Babywise Information

Babywise FAQ&A


Sample Schedules

Nighttime Sleep Posts

Nap posts



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I think as humans, we need to feel heard. We need to feel in control. And we need ownership- not only of ideas, but ownership and a stake in solving problems that directly impact us. Without it, we tend to fight, deflect, and be on the defensive. But when we have ownership, we can't do those things. We can't point fingers. We don't deflect as much if we play a positive role in an outcome. We own it. We take it. We like the sense of control and pride.

Toddlers are little humans.



If I was screaming and crying (of course this has never happened LOL), and my husband came to me and simply told me to "stop", I'd not be very receptive to that to say the least.

Needless to say, it is completely unfair and an unwarranted comment if we say it to our children. "Stop" is not helping them own their behavior. "Stop" is not showing that we understand. "Stop" is making an already emotional child, become more emotional.

We may be over-explainers in our house, but my thought process is that explaining helps our children learn. We are not the parents that say "because I said so." We are the parents that have high expectations, and expect our children to listen, but also parents that explain the "why" behind our reasoning.

Our daughter is emotional. She is strong willed. She is passionate. She is the most stubborn person I've ever met. Yes, she gets those wonderful traits from both me and her daddy. She didn't have a chance LOL!

As an emotional person, I know full well the detrimental effect of telling someone to "stop", or that they are "too sensitive". I hated comments like that growing up (and I still do). I want my feelings to be heard. I don't want to be judged. The reality is that it doesn't matter if anyone feels the same way as I do, it matters that they HEAR me.

And so, I have tried to be the parent that hears her child.

It is ok to cry.

The expectation in our house, however, is that we also work together to solve the problem. It is that we try to understand one another. It is that we help ourselves, and help each other.

Printable Parenting Tools From MOC

My daughter and I have something in common. When we are upset, we don't want to do anything until we decide it's time. I don't want a hug from my husband, until I do. Our daughter doesn't want a hug from us, until she does. With personalities like this we all have to be patient, understanding, and keep trying. Just because it wasn't welcomed the first time, doesn't mean a hug isn't in order now. Timing is everything.

With personalities like this, it is important to know how to calm ourselves down. That's incredibly difficult for a toddler. They are just learning what their emotions are, much less how to deal with them.

During a screaming fit, it isn't often possible to hear the parents trying to help. Toddlers are lost in their little worlds. Tangible items, however, can help. And having a tool box of ways to help yourself is a must from toddlerhood, to adulthood.

There is often nothing I can do to help my daughter calm down. She's been known to have some 2 hour screaming fits. They are for real. My attempts to calm her down don't work when she's in this mode.

As a result, we've done a couple of things:

1. We've taught her ways to calm down. We practice when she's happy. We talk about it when we play. And then we remind her of these options and tools when she's in the throws of her emotions.

2. We've created a calm down tool kit that our daughter can use on her own. This tool kit is something I wish I'd have had much earlier on. For the nonverbal toddler, the pictures and cards would be helpful to give them a way to be involved in the process. For the verbal toddler, it is helpful because they aren't in an emotional state to think of the tools, or to express their needs.

First off, I have to highly recommend the show Daniel Tiger. We learned several calm down methods in this show, and the visuals and catchy songs are a huge help when teaching a toddler these tools. Things like taking a deep breath, squeezing your hands together, etc. are all taught and portrayed very well. As a parent, I learn a lot and get a lot of ideas from this show!

Now to the calm down kit that we use.
I've created a printable calm down tool kit that is a very handy tool and has worked very well in our home!

1. Emotion cards (Happy, Sad, Angry, Calm)
I printed these on heavy duty cardstock (they could also be laminated for more durability). I ask Caroline to pick the emotion she is feeling. Each card has a picture and she can easily identify the basic emotions. She can choose a card and tell me how she feels. The goal is to get to a state that is happy or calm. We revisit these cards after we've addressed her sad or angry feelings.

2. Calm Down Technique Cards
There are 9 calm down techniques represented. Again, each card was printed on heavy duty cardstock and could also be laminated. Each card has a picture of the technique to try. I have our daughter pick a card that she would like to try to help calm her down. If the first option chosen doesn't work, we try another. Having your child pick a technique gives them ownership in the process of calming themselves down.

These cards can also be printed and you can have your child color them in. I purposefully left the pictures outlines with no color. This way, the child will also get to partake in making the cards. It will feel like something of their own, and they will be that much more likely to participate.

3. Calm Down Recording Chart
This chart includes the same 9 tools represented on the cards. All of these tools are ways that your child can learn to calm down on their own. This chart is a place to record if the technique worked for your child and if you've tried it yet. Not all techniques will work for all children. Children will gravitate towards some more than others.

4. Calm Down Bin
This part is not included in the printable version, but it is a great idea to set one up to work with your emotion cards and calming technique cards. In this bin you should place everything your child would need, along with the printed emotion cards, technique cards, and chart. Things like a stuffed animal, a squeeze ball, or even a blanket could be placed into the bin.

I have to say, when I remember to use this tool kit in my own home, it is incredibly effective. My only problem is that I don't always remember to direct my daughter to this. The times that I do, however, Caroline takes the lead and uses the kit very well. It helps calm her down, and really gives her the ownership that I was striving for. She knows right where to go when I tell her to grab an emotion card, and her fits have been lessened drastically. This has been a fantastic addition to our resources at home, and I wish I would have had this when she was not yet talking. This kit would have helped tremendously then as well!

My goal with the printable items that I create, is to make things that are useful for our house, and for others. This calm down tool kit is just that. We use it in our home, and I just love it.


-Katrina


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In exchange for an honest review on this blog, British Swim School of Central MD has provided my family with free swim lessons. All opinions and thoughts are my own. See below for an enrollment special!

Being a parent is so hard. There is no textbook. There is no right or wrong way. There is no way to know if your efforts for a specific situation are going to fall flat. There is no way to know. But, there are do-overs. Do overs in parenting, you ask?! You bet! I try a tactic, try another and another. Somewhere along the line something sticks and works well. Then, guess what? It stops working. Back to square one. Trial and error. What worked yesterday might not work today. And what works today, might not work tomorrow. Parenting keep us on our toes, that's for sure!

Caroline can float. Hands down she can do it. But she's stubborn and she doesn't want to. There's this balance that has to be had- respecting her anxiety and comforting her, while also challenging her and having high expectations.

Caroline also has anxiety around new people. We had several weeks of no class due to holidays, missing class because she was sick or we were out of town, a substitute instructor here and there, and then a change of instructors completely. All of this change certainly didn't help when it came to Caroline's progression (or lack there of) in swim class. I've mentioned this before... she's been at this level (Seahorse), since August.

She needs to be floating on her own before she moves up. And with every disruption, no matter how small, she's not been pushing herself as hard. She's been more focused on her own anxieties (with new people and situations).

So, when I received the phone call that the SpringHill Suites location was no longer being used, and that we'd need to reschedule her class at another location, I knew it was time for a change in expectation as well. We'd been letting her just go with the flow. Encouraging her, but being understanding- possibly too understanding. I knew I needed to get her motivated as we made this change!

I chose our instructor very deliberately. Kimmie is someone that Caroline knows. She's had lessons in the pool at the same time, she's played with Ms. Kimmie before, and she's even interacted with her out of the pool at the Rio Grand Opening recently. She is a familiar face, and she's great with the kids. She has an energy about her that is undeniable. I knew it was just what Caroline needed.

When we saw Kimmie on Caroline's first day, we talked about Caroline's progress and our plan to move her up to the next level. Kimmie agreed that we needed to kind of rip the Band-Aid off so to speak and get things moving. I gave her the green light to work hard with Caroline and make this happen!

We both got Caroline excited about the prospect of a new yellow swim cap, a new level, and a new big girl class! Caroline sat opposite in the pool from the big girl class that she'd be soon joining. We even had the girls in that "big girl class" show her their excitement. Our unspoken tactic was just that- excitement!

The first day it went great. Caroline did a few seconds on her own. She worked great with Ms. Kimmie. The next week, however, was a bust. Mama apparently set too high of an expectation. On the ride over, I told her this was the day. I knew she was going to do it! We were going on vacation and about to miss two weeks of class, so I knew it would be great timing. I was trying to pump her up on the ride over.

Fail. Major fail. LOL!

When we got there, Caroline was not excited. Not even interested in participating.
She was fighting everything suddenly, not just the float. She had every excuse in the book, and wouldn't do anything without me practically holding her hand (which is hard to do when I'm not in the pool). It was quite the disaster of a day! She was throwing fits down to the very last second of class, and not even working with me to change her.

Lesson learned.

Ms. Kimmie was great through it all. She tried to get Caroline laughing, and while my stubborn girl didn't give in to her attempts, she did get Caroline to do a few practice skills towards the end. She did better than I would have anticipated. Knowing how stubborn my strong willed girl can be I was very impressed.

I think my next tactic is going back to a reward system. Back when lollipops were given out, it was a great incentive for us to use with Caroline. Basically our message has always been that "If you listen and try your best, you can have a lollipop." It's a really simple, easy motivator, and once a week we certainly don't mind her having a treat like that.

Our message is going to change, however. She still needs to listen well, but she needs to try her float independently in order to earn her reward. I'm hoping that this will be motivation enough to get her going.

The thing with Caroline, and probably many toddlers- is that she doesn't do things until SHE wants to. She is little miss independent (when it comes to ideas). She'll plateau for weeks at something, and then suddenly master a skill like she's been doing it forever. I've seen it happen at both swim and gymnastics. So, I'm waiting for that day to happen with her float. Because I KNOW without a doubt, that the day she decides to do it, she'll do it with ease and it will look as though she's been doing it forever. That's just how she is.

One of the really great parts about British Swim School (and getting to write this blog), is the chance to get to know the instructors better. So, this week, I bring you an interview with her current instructor- Ms. Kimmie!

-Katrina


Interview with Ms. Kimmie:

How long have you been a swim instructor with BSS?
I've been a swim instructor with BSS for a year and 4 months.

How did you learn to swim?
I don't remember learning to swim. When I was 2 weeks old, my parents had me in the pool, and I've been doing swim team since I was 5.

Why did you choose to become a swim instructor?
I chose to become a swim instructor because I love kids, and I used to teach kids at my pool how to swim.

What's the best part of your job?
The best part of my job is interacting with kids, knowing that I'm teaching them to save their lives, and showing them how much fun swimming is.

What is the most rewarding part of your job?
The most rewarding part of my job is making my students and their parents happy.

How would you describe your style as a swim instructor?
My style of instructing is to have fun and make the kids happy, but also to be firm and understanding.

Do you have any advice for parents who are hesitant to put their child into swim lessons?
I tell parents that are hesitant, that it's better to start them earlier than later. Knowing how to swim can save their child's life.

How do you handle fearful children in class?
For the fearful children, I build trust before I do anything with them, and show them how much fun the water can be.

How do you make the class engaging for young babies and toddlers?
For baby and toddler classes I just become silly and play to keep them engaged.

As a parent, I've noticed that everyone at BSS really works as a team. How would you describe the team mentality?
BSS is a family, and we would do anything and everything for each other.

What does a typical work week look like for you?
I work every day except for Mondays. I work twice on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays, and Sundays. I teach all levels from tadpole to barracuda swim team.

If you had the chance, what's the one thing you'd tell all of your student's parents?
You're kids are amazing and will remember this skill for the rest of their lives.

Would you recommend BSS over another swim program?
In a heart beat! We are unique, and safety is our #1 priority!


Enrollment Special 20% off



If you live in Montgomery County or Frederick County, Maryland, and are interested in signing up with BSS, I am really excited to announce that you can receive 20% off your first 4 lessons when you call to enroll and use the code #MAMAS18. The information for our central Maryland British Swim Schools can all be found at this link. And not to worry if you live elsewhere, there are British Swim Schools ALL over the US!

Other Posts of Interest:


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Our daughter died. We were given a "choice". The choice of when she would die. Not if, but when. It's not what I would really call much of a choice, but I'm glad we had the choice that we did. It was the hardest moment of our lives, but I took comfort knowing that we could make the decision that was right for our family. I'd like to give you a glimpse into that "choice".

But I digress. First I want to give you a scenario so you can frame your mindset...


Your spouse or perhaps your mother or father is given a death sentence. Let's say they have an aggressive form of cancer, or some sudden reason that requires them to be on life-support. It's not something that is curable, and there is nothing you can do to heal this family member.

They could go through extensive major surgeries, over and over. They could live in the hospital and have their life prolonged. Their prognosis still terminal. Their quality of life non existent. Or, you could remove life-support and they could be put into hospice, kept comfortable and allowed to go peacefully and in as little pain as possible.

Do you know what you'd do?

Obviously, the answer is very dependent on the person's wishes. Hopefully you've been able to have conversations around their wishes and desires.

But, what if the person isn't coherent and the decision is on you?

What if you are the person responsible for making the decision?

Do you choose to have your loved one fight, or choose to let them go?

But more importantly, do you think you should get to choose?

Or, should the decision be out of your hands?

Should everyone be made to fight?

Or, should each family get to decide what is right for them?

Should each scenario be considered?

Or, should there be only one path that every family has to follow?

I'm guessing most of us believe that we should be given the right to choose whether we put our loved one into hospice or into surgery.

I think most of us believe that it doesn't matter what WE personally would choose, but that we should have the choice. I think we all realize that our own decision in this circumstance might be different than our neighbor's, but that we all have the right to choose. And that our decision may change depending on the specific circumstance.

So, now let me tell you about our "choice". I want you to keep your above decision in mind when I tell you that our choice was for our unborn child that had a terminal condition.

Suddenly, you are forced into the pro-life versus pro-choice thought process. Why our society does this I'll never understand. The scenario is the same. A loved one has a terminal condition. A family member has a choice to make. And, two lives are potentially at stake... mom and child.

If, in the above scenario, you'd decided that we all had the right to choose, yet you consider yourself "pro-life" when it comes to abortion laws, I want you to keep an open mind as I tell you our story.

Our daughter had a condition called trisomy 13. It's fatal. We had a few "choices":

1. Carry to term, do no life saving measures and try to keep our daughter comfortable.

2. Carry to term and do surgery after surgery to prolong her inevitable death.

3. Do a D&E procedure (abortion procedure) to end the pregnancy.

4. Induce the birth early to end the pregnancy, and let our child go peacefully.


All 4 of these options result in the death of our child. So, we had to find the route that was best for our family. Many people feel that we shouldn't have had a choice. But first let me tell you this. We desperately wanted this pregnancy. This was not an unwanted pregnancy. This was not a decision we came to lightly.

We chose option #4. We chose to induce at 19.5 weeks and let our baby earn her wings early. We didn't want to make our child fight and endure surgery after surgery only to have a poor quality of life that was simply prolonging her inevitable death. We didn't want to put her through that.

We wanted to let her go peacefully and in no pain- essentially what I think of as the hospice route. Babies feel no pain until about 24 weeks. And let me tell you, our daughter knew nothing but love, and never knew pain. I got to hold her in my arms as she peacefully left this world.

Had our country passed pro-life abortion laws, we wouldn't have been able to make that "choice" to let her go peacefully. We would have been forced to put our child and my body through unnecessary pain and risk.

What I found to be so amazing, was that the people following our story and our journey, didn't even consider this to be under the abortion laws until I mentioned it. It hadn't even entered their minds when it came to our scenario.

I also never felt like we were having an abortion. We were honoring our daughter's life. I still gave birth to her. I held her in my arms. I was crushed when I had to sign abortion paperwork. I was crushed when the terminology was that I was terminating and aborting. This was a wanted pregnancy- a wanted child. This was devastating to us.

Many friends and family of ours, and readers of this blog that consider themselves to be "pro-life", never considered this to be an abortion. They fully agreed that we should have had the choices that were given to us. Many of them even stated they'd have made the same choice that we did. Pro-life supporters said these things.

Because here's the reality- when we formulate our opinions on pro-life versus pro-choice, we typically aren't thinking of scenarios like this. But we need to.

What if the terminology was different?

What if instead of calling it pro-life versus pro-choice, we called it pro-choice versus no-choice?

How would you vote then?

Voting as pro-life, takes the choice away from others- even in scenarios like this.

Voting as pro-choice NEVER means that you are anti-life, or even that you'd personally get an abortion. I never thought I'd get an abortion. Yet here I am classified as someone that has.

Voting pro-choice means that we are voting for the right to choose. And those that vote pro-life, are taking that choice away.

Had our country passed more restrictive "pro-life" abortion laws, we would have been forced to put our child through a potentially painful experience. I am forever thankful that we didn't have to do that.

We need to rethink the term pro-life. We are all pro life.

Yes, we are all PRO-LIFE and in favor of life. 

And those of you that consider yourselves to be of the pro-life stance, I think many of you believe in choice more than you realize.

It's not at all black and white like our society has made it. So many of the people that are pro-life, are actually pro-choice. You may not ever want an abortion. You may be in favor of life (as we all are). But guess what? So many of you are also in favor of the choice that we made.

I leave you with some quotes from people that followed our journey. MANY are people that consider themselves to be pro-life, yet they think we should have had the right to choose. You might be surprised to read them. I know I was....

-Katrina

Quotes:

"I don't think we share stories like this enough. The only things people talk about, politically, are the young mothers and their choices."

"Religious or not I believe that unless one person's choice impacts myself or my family in a negative way then it truly is none of my business."

"I'm still pro life but I think I will be a lot softer and more sensitive toward others after hearing your story."

"I am a religious person and consider myself pro life, however I also know it's not my place to judge others. One of the hardest things I have ever done in my life was to sit down with [my daughter and her husband] and tell them that I would completely be supportive if they chose to terminate their pregnancy, actually I felt this would be the best decision in their situation."

"Knowing there was something wrong with the placenta scared me to death that my daughter's life [in addition to her baby] could also be at risk. So, even though I do consider myself pro life I feel that there are circumstances where the choice to terminate is the best option."

"I am pro-life, and because I am pro-life I believe in a woman's right to choose. Your experience has only strengthened my stance that as women, we know what is best for our families and our bodies."

"I am pro life but also believe in situations where choices need to be made that are beneficial for first off the baby and the health of the mom (mental and physical)"

"In all honesty, I didn’t even think about pro choice versus pro life when following your journey. I thought about a family losing their beloved little girl, and I could only feel sadness, love, and compassion for every one of you."

"I'm pro-choice and actually became more so when I was pregnant myself. Partly because I did read similar stories and think through situations like these."

"So I would not expect someone who does not believe as I do to choose what I would choose. And through that, I understand your heart and desire to protect your daughter from pain."

"Although I believe the Bible is the source of truth and should be the authority from which we make choices, I also think that defining what that truth looks like practically is not always clear. Your situation, in my opinion, speaks to that thought."


"I'm pro-life. But I do think there are situations when abortion can and possibly should occur."

"I am pro choice. I have strong beliefs about this but I do believe that your situation did strengthen my view."

"I've been pro-choice since I was sixteen and realized that, as much as I may not like the idea of abortion for myself personally, it needs to be a safe and legal option for women."

"I know far more women who've ended up in the position of deciding whether or not to terminate a desperately wanted pregnancy than I ever thought I would. Each has made a different decision, but each has had the opportunity to make the choice that she can live with. That's what it's all about for me."

"My reasoning for being firmly pro-choice comes down to one basic idea. Pregnancy is a medical condition. It limits what you are able to do, how well you can work, what you can eat, what you can do in your free time. We should not force a medical condition on someone else."

"Like many other things in life, it is very hard for me to see a clear line of pro-life or pro-choice (even with my religious beliefs)...It's not black and white, and your experience showcases that. And to be perfectly honest, I hadn't even considered your journey as a case of pro-life or pro-choice"

"I've always had the mindset that while I could never imagine myself doing it - abortion - (but I also never imagined your situation, so now I can't say that), I don't feel like it's my right to tell someone else they can't. I guess when I comes right down to it, I'm pro-choice."

"I suppose I fall in to the category as one who supported you, that is prolife. You are right, I never pictured your specific situation until you shared it with me. But I also think I fall into the category that you talked about where there are situations where it's not just black and white. I don't think that babies should be killed just because someone doesn't have money or they are too young I think adoption is a good choice for that. I do think parents should have a choice if moms life is endangered by carrying baby, if baby has a fatal condition, or if a Momma is raped."

"I consider myself pro life, but never even thought about pro-choice or pro-life in your situation."

"I have been pro-choice since some time in high school. Your story didn't change my opinion, but I do have enormous sympathy and compassion for your situation. I actually wouldn't consider your process a termination. April would not have survived long outside the womb regardless of when you gave birth, and may not have made it much longer as it was. I think you chose well in that you prevented further health complications for yourself, which decreases burden on your family and allows you to be the strongest possible for healing in your grief. You also gave birth at a time when April was not in pain and allowed her to pass in peace surrounded by family. This to me should be considered an elective induction, with the knowledge of the ultimate outcome."

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Every year around this time, my husband has a work conference to attend. Since his expenses are covered, we tend to tag along and make a family trip out of it as well to save some money! This year, the conference was in San Antonio. We stayed for a full week, and we had so much fun...

Our first full day there happened to be a beautiful 80 degree Texas day. We went to the Riverwalk, enjoyed the weather and good food, and even decided to go on one of their boat tours. We lucked out and got one early enough that it wasn't packed yet, as we saw they were later in the day. Caroline enjoyed the boat tour, but most of all on this day, she enjoyed the pool.


It didn't matter that it was NOT a heated pool. The water was freezing, but she was right in it having fun. It was so cold, it took your breath away, but luckily the sun warmed us up as soon as we were out of the water. It was too cold to do much in the pool, but she had fun splashing around, and we all jumped in at one point!

Pretty much as soon as we'd arrived in San Antonio, Caroline noticed the Tower of the Americas and was asking to go up. The next few days were busy. Joe had classes at the convention center, and then the trade show to attend. We'd typically meet him for lunch and have the back half of the day with him. The weather was cold and rainy. We fit in a visit to the Alamo, but then didn't find time to fit in the Tower until the very last day of our trip!


Our hotel was walking distance to the convention center, and to the Riverwalk, but it was a decent walk when you have a toddler in tow. Caroline did OK at walking, but she really wanted to be carried- so much! We haven't used the stroller with Caroline basically since she could walk, so we definitely didn't bring it on the trip with us. We managed, but our arms got a workout!

When we did finally get to the Tower on the last day, Caroline enjoyed it. She wasn't quite sure about the 4D ride, though. Halfway through she decided it was not for her and she needed to "get out of here".

Next to the Tower, there is a park equipped with swings, climbing fun, and even a sand pit with water. Caroline's favorite activity there was a little red seat that spinned, and playing in the sand. When we first went over to the sand pit, she was the only one there. She played with shovels and buckets and was having a great time.


3 older boys came over and turned the water on. Caroline was thrilled! She did a great job trying to play with them, and learned quickly that if she set something down, it was fair game for someone else to use. She started getting quick to take things when others set them down as well LOL!

At some point she just got soaked. She was standing in puddles of water and splashing and just having a blast. We only had one pair of shoes for her on this trip, since we weren't anticipating them getting soaked. Caroline got to go to Payless and buy a beautiful pair of purple shoes as a result. Lucky girl!

Thursday was the opening day of the San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo. I used to have a blast going to the rodeo when I lived in Texas. A concert ticket gets you into the carnival grounds, and in to see the entire rodeo. While I knew this wasn't the best idea logically (going to a rodeo that started at 7 which is Caroline's usual bedtime), I knew I wanted to take her.


We showed up a little before 5 to do the carnival and petting zoo. I also hadn't realized that we had to pay for carnival rides separately. After we'd purchased wrist bands for the 3 of us, we then realized that we couldn't ride any of the rides with Caroline. We pretty much only needed the band for her!

She was such a big girl, and rode the rides that she could, all by herself! I wasn't sure if she'd do it, but she hopped right on and had so much fun. She would have done that all night if we'd let her!

Caroline had her first funnel cake, enjoyed some nachos, and jumbo corn dogs.


Next came the rodeo at 7. She was enjoying it for a little less than an hour, and then got restless. She was picking out her favorite horses and having fun. We walked around a bit, and then came back and found an empty back row so she could stretch her legs and walk around more.

After the rodeo, Caroline got to see her first concert- Gary Allan. Not the greatest concert LOL! He has a couple of good songs, but even those are just ok. I was so happy to see Caroline's reaction to being at a concert though. She wore ear muffs and seemed to enjoy herself. We left early to beat the crowds.

The rides were still open for a bit when we went outside. We stayed until 10:30pm riding and riding all we could. She loved it.


The next day, we took a road trip to Texas A&M. This is where I went to college, and I hadn't been back since I graduated 12 years ago. A lot had changed! Tons of new buildings, and even more construction going on. The apartments that I used to live had have been torn down and completely redone. It was so crazy to see! On campus, we saw the newly renovated Kyle field, and walked around the MSC. Caroline loved the fountain. We went to the Century tree, and to the Bonfire Memorial. One of my good friends from college came down for the day as well. I got to meet her 2 daughters, and Caroline really enjoyed playing with them. It was such a great day.


If we go back to San Antonio for a conference another year, we definitely plan to make visiting A&M a tradition. It was such a cold day, so it wasn't the greatest to just be walking around campus. I'd love to go back and walk around more, though.

One of the most exciting parts of going back to Texas, was the food. Had we been going to Austin, I'd have had a HUGE list of places that I wanted to eat. Some of those favorites were in San Antonio, and then I had a few favorites in College Station on my list as well. We did as much as we could: Freebirds, Rudy's BBQ, Amy's Ice Cream, Which Wich, Blue Baker, and Caffe Capri. We even had lunch at a Schlotsky's, and grabbed a banana split at Ghirardelli on the Riverwalk.


Caroline did pretty well on this trip. She did a phenomenal job traveling. Hands down, she was well behaved and just did a great job on the driving parts and the plane rides. She was overtired, though. Some days we skipped naps, and some days we stayed up late, so she had her moments of not listening. Not my favorite thing to do, because a tired toddler is no fun, but we made some wonderful memories and it was well worth it.

One of my favorite moments, was having a cartoon morning in bed as a family. It is a RARE occurrence that we have Daddy at home in the morning. Very rare. We don't get weekends at home like most do. So, to have Joe with us when we woke up was amazing. We stayed in our jammies, all climbed in bed together and watched cartoons. It was wonderful. I wish we could do this more often- tickles and all :)

I love these trips. This is going to be our family vacation time even when our kids are in school. We'll be the parents pulling our kids out for a family vacation, because this is when we have the time to do it (not over the summer or spring break). It was such a lovely vacation. We are definitely looking forward to a warm weather vacation, though - because this was not it! It was colder in TX than it was at home in MD. Next year we get to go to San Diego. Beaches here we come!

-Katrina


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I always love discussions and posts about how to instill the quality of kindness in our children. Kimberly from Team-Cartwright.com, has put together a guest post on the subject, and I couldn't agree with her ideas more!


Kindness.  It's an interesting topic when you think about it.  What does being kind mean?  My four-year-old son recently asked me that, and I was surprised when it was hard for me to come up with an exact answer.  I can give examples of kindness, and I can point out unkind happenings.  But really defining it eluded me.  So, of course, I looked it up in the dictionary.  The definition basically included being gentle, nice, and wanting to do good.  That was a good start.  But I feel strongly that showing kindness is so important.  So how do you foster kindness in little kids?
Why?
Why does explaining kindness matter?  Well quite frankly, take a look at the world around us.  Without getting into a rant let's just say a little kindness goes a long way.  Why bother teaching our kids about kindness?  It kinds of feels like it should be an innate thing.  I mean, why be mean to anyone?  Kindness is so much more than just being nice though.  It is a part of compassion, empathy, looking out for others, politeness, having a servant's heart, respect for others and more.  Kindness is a part of most basic good things in the world.  It is a simple little word, but it holds so much meaning.

My son Ben is naturally kind.  (Warning, mom brag ahead.)  One of my proudest mom moments to date with him came when I was talking with his preschool principal.  She said to me, "Ben is just a kind kid." My mama heart sang.  I was so happy that my little guy was behaving the way I had hoped.  And I also knew I wanted to encourage this behavior.  Life makes it really easy to not be kind, and sadly it seems acceptable at times.  I know Ben is going to make mistakes and be unkind at times.  He's only four.  He needs to test limits and learn that his actions have consequences.  But while I know and encourage him to learn, I want the base message to be the same.  Kindness matters.  Be kind.
How?
So how do I do this?  Why is it the simplest things seem so hard?  I wish I could say I had the magic answer to keep kindness in your child's heart forever.  Like all things with parenting, it is an ongoing process.  But I have six main areas I am focusing on.
Books/Movies
When I don't know what to say, chances are there is a book out there that does.  And in language that my child understands.  Somehow messages sink in better when they don't come from Mom in our house too.  Daniel Tiger is an automatic go to.  (Is there anything that tiger cub can't help with?)   You don't have to limit yourself to books and shows focusing solely on kindness.  I try to point out kind actions in any show we watch.  Little things, like see how that character helped his friend when he fell down.  Or notice how those friends spoke encouragingly to each other when they were scared, they didn't make fun of each other.  Children relate to the characters in books and shows, they want to be like them.  I try to utilize that by pointing out the positive kindness.
Real Life Examples
Real life is full of examples, good and bad, of kindness.  I just look around and see how people around us are behaving.  Now, I'm not trying to be the kindness police or anything.  My goal isn't to teach Ben to notice when other people are acting like jerks.  But notice the little things.  When we see someone hold a door open for someone else I point it out, telling Ben how it is polite and kind.  When the teller at the bank gives Ben a lollipop, that was kind of them.  Real life examples happen at home too.  Ben's little sisters will bring each other their lovies when one cries.  That is kindness right there.
Catch Him Being Kind
I try to catch Ben being kind.  When I first thought to do this I was worried there wouldn't be many times.  You know what?  I was pleasantly surprised.  He did so many little things I had overlooked before.  Giving toys to his sisters, helping set the table without being asked, saying have a nice weekend to his teachers.  We don't need grand gestures to be kind.  Pointing out these behaviors really boosted Ben's confidence and I think it really helped the message sink in.  We didn't do anything big for these actions.  Being kind is the expectation, not something we seek a reward for.  But the acknowledgment alone was enough.
Role Play/Ask Questions
I have heard that a good way to work through situations with kids is to have their toys or dolls act it out.  Role play a bit.  I think this is a great idea.  The one drawback for us is that Ben doesn't really get into this sort of play.  No biggie, I just ask questions.  Pop quiz style.  (Or in normal conversation, both ways work.)  Sometimes I go over real-life situations.  If he acts out towards his sisters, part of the talk after the timeout is about what would the kind response look like.  Instead of taking the toy from his sister, what would the kind thing be to do?  I also ask him what would the kind thing be to do if he saw a classmate looking sad?  What would he do if he saw a child playing alone on the playground?  Should he help his teacher clean up? Just toss out some what-ifs and try to lead the conversation towards kindness.

Point Out When I Am Unkind
This is a tough one, but I will admit I am not always kind.  I try to be, but I'm human.  I mess up.  But I do try to own up to that.  When I mutter about another car in traffic, that is unkind.  If Ben is in the car I know he notices, so I try to stop myself and say out loud 'Wow, that was unkind of me. I'm sorry.'  I don't try to justify it, and if the situation warrants I'll go into what I should have done.  How is this helpful?  Well, I think it really helps kids when they see us fall short of expectations for two main reasons.  One, it shows them that we are human and mess up too.  Kids feel pressure, and no one needs the pressure to be perfect all the time.  Two, it shows them how we bounce back from our mistakes.  We all make wrong choices in life, there is no avoiding that.  But what happens after? Do we just let our mistake sit there?  Do we keep making the same mistake over and over?  Or do we learn, try to make amends if appropriate, and do better in the future?  I want my children to know that even if you do something wrong, you can learn from that and do better next time.

Talk
This goes along with all the other methods listed above.  Just keep talking.  It is so easy to feel like what we say to our children goes in one ear and out the other, but they hear us.  So keep talking.  Even when they are tantruming.  Even when they seem like they are just parroting back what you want to hear.  (A skill they seem to acquire quite young.) Even when they keep pushing boundaries and you think you are wasting your breath.  Keep talking.  Consistency is king with kids, right?  If you make kindness a daily focus, a family value, and just something worth mentioning, it will sink in that kindness matters.


Kindness seems like a simple thing.  Sometimes I worry it comes across as a weakness, that one is kind means that one is a pushover.  But no, it is a strength.  It is something we all need to focus on.  My hope is to foster my son's naturally kind heart and help it become a core strength in his life.


-Kim

Kim is the mother of a 4-year-old son and 2-year-old twin daughters.  She blogs at Team-Cartwright.comand you can follow her on Facebook and Pinterest.


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It's been 7 months since we found out the heartbreaking news that April had trisomy 13 and wouldn't be surviving in this world with us. It's been 7 months since we had to go through the hardest moments of our lives.

When I shared our story on this blog, I did so for a couple of reasons:

1. We'd already shared the news that we were pregnant, so friends, family, and readers were certainly going to want an update on the pregnancy. My weekly pregnancy posts were some of my most popular posts, so I knew I owed it to everyone to keep the updates coming, no matter how hard hey were to face and write.

2. Writing became very therapeutic. Writing helped me to really think through my thoughts and come to terms with everything that was going on. Writing was my therapy and my chance to "talk" things through with myself.

3. I quickly realized I needed to be a voice for others. In my searches online, and all of my research on trisomy 13 and others' experiences, I simply didn't find information that was representative of what was real. I found a lot of "inspirational" stories that told only part of the story and failed to mention all of the medical struggles and surgeries that babies had to go through.

I found no stories representing the choice to induce early. Since I knew in my heart that was going to be our route, I also knew I needed to stay strong and represent that voice online for other parents. I knew if our story helped just one other family, it would be worth the vulnerability of sharing our story.

At the beginning of January, I was contacted through my blog. I woke up to the following request, and my heart was so full of joy...

"I have been researching cytogenetic disorders and have recently come across one in particular that I want to learn more about: trisomy 13, Patau syndrome. For a project at school, I have decided to research and share what I have learned about trisomy 13 to my classmates to spread awareness and to show them a new perspective."

"I stumbled across your blog in my scrolling and scrolling through websites and my heart was broke, but was also warmed. I’ll admit, I cried reading through some of your posts. I am touched by your story. You are a genuine, beautiful, real person. I would love to hear more about you and your story. I am so grateful that you started this blog to share your story, your experiences, information, support, etc. I admire this greatly."

When I read Leah's note in its entirety, I was so honored and so touched. The reality is that my writing has touched a lot of people. Mamas reach out to me on a regular basis and share their stories with me. I hate that so many people go through such heartbreaking situations, but I am so glad that April's story is touching so many.

When Leah contacted me, however, it was a different sort of joy that touched me. Leah is in high school and she was deciding to share our story with her class. I knew immediately that I'd be honored for her to share our story.

Our story is something that many have not considered when formulating their views on pro-life or pro-choice. Our story would have been greatly different had the laws been more restrictive. Our story needs to be told to the younger generations as they formulate their viewpoints, because they control our future. They are the voices that matter. I want nothing more than for stories like this to be shared and heard. So, I was so touched that our story had been found, and was a perspective that was wanting to be shared.

As a science girl at heart and former chemistry teacher, I was also thrilled that her class was looking into genetic disorders like these and diving into the science behind it. I loved that her assignment was also to consider and share real stories and new perspectives. What a great way to learn.

Today, with Leah's permission, I want to share with you the presentation that Leah put together for her class. She did an outstanding job, and Leah was such a pleasure to work with. I'll always remember her kind words, her genuine interest and desire to learn more and hear our perspective.

Leah, thank you for being so brave to share our story. Thank you for taking such a genuine interest and having such a unique desire to learn. Thank you for sharing our story. You forever touched our hearts, and you've honored April's legacy in such a special way.

-Katrina

View all of our posts on our trisomy 13 journey here.


Leah's Research Presentation:




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This post was first published at Rogers Party of 5, in December of 2017.

When Caroline was about 1.5 years old, I really started TRYING to get her interested in watching TV. Up until that point, there really was no need for TV. Not only was there no need, Caroline wasn't interested. It didn't matter what I had on, she just didn't really care about it. She wanted to read her books, play with her toys, or go outside instead.

Obviously, I loved everything about the fact that she was so engaged in those activities and much preferred them, however, I also wanted her to watch TV. Yes you read that right- I wanted her to watch TV. There are a lot of good things about having a child that can sit down and watch a show, and I was determined to find a show that she'd be interested in.

I felt content that I'd laid a good foundation for 1.5 years without relying on the TV. I loved that our daughter would rather be outside than inside watching TV. That's a fantastic win. But there's also a time and a place for TV, and TV shows can be very beneficial.

So, why was I trying to get Caroline interested in TV, you ask? 

1. Rest time when your child is sick

Let's face it, toddlers can be throwing up one second, and running around the next. They can have a 103 degree fever, and still want to run and jump and play at all moments. There's often no reeling them in.

Toddlers have a ton of energy. While it can be beneficial at times to keep moving and keep your body working, it can also drain your already drained, sick body pretty quickly. Sometimes  your body really needs rest to heal well.

Toddlers are NOT good at resting. And, odds are, they aren't even good at doing one activity for long periods of time.

Which means... TV can provide that rest. A TV show can keep your toddler laying down and resting, while engaging them in the show for long periods of time. When you are fighting sickness in the house, that's a very good thing to have happen!

2. Rest time when YOU are sick or unavailable

Let's not forget about Mama. Mama is at work 24-7 with no down time. If Mama is sick, it doesn't matter. There is still a toddler (or two, or three...) to tend to. Whether you are sick and need to rest, or you need to get something done, or even just to be able to tend to one of your other children... TV can provide some much needed down time to allow that to happen.

Yes there are other ways. Independent play time is a fantastic option for keeping little ones occupied as well. But let's not discount TV for the win here as well!

3. Engaged and Learning

Kids TV shows today are not all about blowing things up and chasing after wascally wabbits.

There are some amazing shows today, and the great part is that you choose what your child is watching. No more is it just flick on the TV on Saturday mornings and hope the cartoons are good.

While I miss the idea of Saturday morning cartoons, I love that we have full control with places like Amazon Video to put on only the shows we want our children to see and learn from.


These shows today teach so much. The compassion, empathy, and kindness that Caroline has learned from Daniel Tiger is amazing. The life appropriate skills that are taught in Daniel Tiger like going potty, going to bed, brushing teeth, etc. are also incredibly useful and our toddlers relate to these things.

And I can't say enough about the skills that she's learned about controlling her frustration and anger.

As a parent, I've also learned some fabulous techniques from Daniel Tiger's mom! These shows give us and our children a toolbox full of useful ways to handle life situations.

Shows encourage problem solving, exploring nature, and more.

YouTube videos teach the alphabet and numbers, and anything else you want to search for, in creative, engaging ways.

TV today TEACHES so much.

4. Expands Creativity and Imagination

Many make the argument that TV stifles creativity and imagination. I couldn't have had a more opposite experience.

My daughter watches TV shows, and then expands her creativity during her play. She loves pretend play with her little figures and characters. She will take an idea that she saw in a show and just run with it in her own play. She expands and comes up with some amazingly imaginative ideas. It's fascinating to watch.

5. Encourages Problem Solving

Every single show we've selected for Caroline to watch promotes problem solving and learning to think for yourself and make discoveries. Those lessons then translate to Caroline in her every day life.

Dinosaur Train: HIGHLY promotes getting "out into nature and making your own discoveries". You learn real facts about dinosaurs and the world around us. The dinosaurs are constantly exploring nature. They make hypotheses and find answers to their questions.

Paw Patrol and Mickey Mouse Clubhouse are two fantastic shows for teaching problem solving. Figuring out how to use different tools, and how to solve all sorts of different problems in different scenarios is what these shows are great at.

Will it be different for our future children?


Yes. I didn't have the TV on for 1.5 years with Caroline. That was easy because there were no older children in the house wanting to watch TV. It honestly wasn't intentional to avoid TV, however. We had other things we were up to and TV just wasn't making the list of things to do. So yes, any future children will be exposed to TV at a younger age- but I'm ok with that!

What shows do we like?

Caroline loves these shows (and they are Mama approved as well):

- Daniel Tiger
- Dinosaur Train
- Paw Patrol

I also have nothing but great things to say about Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. Caroline isn't interested in it yet, but it's a great one for promoting problem solving. She occasionally watches Sesame Street, which is also on our approved list!

How often do we let our child watch TV?

We don't have LIMITS. I am a firm believer that limiting things draws attention to it and makes it more desirable. We don't ban TV at times, or limit the amount of time per day. We just do what makes sense. Some days that means no TV. Some days that means 1 show. Other days that means several shows. We will go a week without TV just by chance, and then a week with TV every day. We say no to TV at times just like we say no to other activities at times. It just depends on what is going on.

Keep in mind...

It can be just a season. We are in a season right now. We just went through a pretty traumatizing event in our lives, and some days I don't feel like dealing. That's ok. As a result of that event in our lives, I'm also taking in every moment for snuggles and low key days at home with Caroline. I don't get to have lazy days at home with her forever. Before I know it she'll be in Kindergarten and our lazy days will be a thing of the past. I'm taking them while I can!

Everything is fine in moderation. As with anything else... balance is what is key.

Don't ever feel guilty. Today's online world of perfect pinterest moms make TV sound like something only horrible moms would let their children do. I call BS. I am a great mom, just as you are... and I think TV is adding value to our home (see all of my above reasons). Don't get sucked into mom guilt. Choose the shows wisely and embrace the season you are in, Mama.

Other Posts of Interest:







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This post is reviewing a product that I absolutely love. I am not being compensated by the company or asked for a review. I am doing this review completely on my own to help other families.

I have wanted a security system now for some time, and my desire to have one in our home was only amplified when I became a mom. Taking care of yourself in an emergency is one thing, but taking care of 10 more fingers and toes (or more) makes the scenario even more daunting. I wouldn't describe myself as overly worrisome, but I will admit that I find myself playing out scenarios now that I have a child to take care of. I want to have a plan of action, so that I think quickly on my feet and know what to do.

I play out the horrifying possibility of being in a store, only to have to deal with a mass shooting. I know the safest things to do, are to play dead, hide, or run. I also know that those things are extremely difficult to be successful at with children in tow.


Then there are the possibilities of emergencies in our own home- someone breaks in, or the possibility of health emergencies. What if I severely injure myself, or I have a heart attack or something life threatening? The only other person home is my daughter. What can she do?

As a stay at home mom, I'm not rising before the sun and getting on my way any longer. We are home. Yet as most stay at home moms, we are alone with our children, and our husbands have left early for their jobs. Our husbands have left before the sun comes up and, if anyone wanted to take advantage of that, we'd be alone and vulnerable. Whether their intentions are to steal things (thinking no one was home), or to hurt us, my husband wouldn't be around to protect us, and that is frightening and makes me feel so vulnerable.

So, we finally started the process of looking for a security system. I am SO pleased with the one that we purchased. We went with a system called Abode.



We chose this system for many reasons:

1. Affordable
This system is a self install system, so it is crazy affordable. You aren't locked into monthly fees. It's perfect for the family that is just starting out and can't afford the built in systems. The starter kit can be purchased for as little as $279. It's an amazing price to have your home secured. Go to amazon, or directly to goabode.com.

2. Easy to Install
Two words: Sticky tape. These products come with a sticky tape on them similar to the 3M command strips used to hang pictures, etc. It is very strong, and it doesn't get easier to install. Instructions on how to pair individual devices with the main alarm system are very easy to follow.

3. Option to Self Monitor or Use Professional Monitoring
As mentioned above, you can decide to not have a monthly fee. You can use the self monitoring feature. Simply pay for the devices, and that's it. If the alarm is triggered, you literally get an alert on your phone with two options: Call Police, or Disable. It's that simple.

And, if you choose professional monitoring, it's only $30 a month. When the alarm goes off, you still have the option to disable it. If you confirm it, however, the police will be contacted for you. If you don't confirm or disable the alarm within 30 seconds, the police will be called and sent to your home by the monitoring service.

4. Customizable
There are so many devices that can be paired with this system. Motion cameras, window and door sensors, acoustic glass breaking sensors, smoke alarms, etc. Anything you need, they have!

5. Automated and Controllable From Our Phones
This system can connect to automation like the amazon echo, the nest, and more.
There is an app that controls the system as well, so all activity in and out of your home, along with alarms can be viewed on your cell phone. Motion cameras send pictures directly to your phone when they are tripped. The alarm can be armed and disarmed from your phone, etc. It is very simple.

6. Panic Button
One of the BEST features of this alarm system is the panic button. A wireless keypad can be installed in your home. This keypad can be used to trigger a panic alarm. This is the part that makes me so happy as a mom. Now that we all only have cell phones, and no home phones, there is just no good and easy way for our 3 year old to call 911. It is just not simple anymore.

This keypad is simple, however. She has to hit two buttons and hold them until she hears the alarm. It is that simple. I marked the buttons that she needs to press. This way, no matter what the emergency, she can call for help. I can't tell you how comforted I am by that.

As a side note, I also just have to mention that the customer service with this company has been amazing. Any questions that we have about the system are answered promptly through their chat system on the GoAbode website.

I've been insanely comforted by having our home and family protected. This was a relatively small investment, for a big return on our safety. We should have done this years ago, quite honestly. And, the other really amazing part, is that if we ever move, this system just comes along with us.

-Katrina


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This post was originally published at Her View From Home, in July 2017.

No.
I don't like that.
Please don't touch me.
Please don't take things from me.
I wasn't done with that.
You can have a turn when I'm done.
I'd prefer more space, please.
Excuse me, I was waiting in line. Please wait your turn.
That's not polite.
That hurt.

The list goes on and I add more to it all the time.

What is this list? Well essentially it's the list of phrases I'm adding to my daughter's ok to say list. She's 2.5 years old now, and I want her to know that she can stand up for herself. I want her to know that she can do it in firm but polite ways.

What else is does this list represent? It's a list of all of the things I never say for myself. I am SO aware of it now that I'm a mom.

Not only am I saying these things for myself more often now, so that Caroline can see me model this behavior, I am teaching her to say them as well.

I don't care the age of the child. If a 10 month old snatches something from Caroline she is allowed and encouraged to say that she wasn't done with it, and that he can have a turn when she's done. Now, I'm also taking the time to explain to her that the 10 month old doesn't understand, and that he's still learning- just like she once was at that age. But the fact that he's learning only makes it that much more important for her to say those things. I welcomed others speaking up when Caroline was that age. I spoke up for them if they didn't, and told my daughter to give the toy back.

And, if an older child or a child her age does something like this, she's absolutely in the right to say something.

Children don't have to share toys just because someone else wants a turn. It is the NICE thing to do, but it's certainly not mean to say you aren't done with something. Adults don't just give things up to some stranger just because they want a turn. It's absurd if we expect our children to do this.

I am also teaching my daughter about being nice- but not at the expense of her own feelings. Not at the expense of her own learning and her own fun. Caroline is a super nice toddler and is always thinking of those around her. But she's also going to be a toddler that can say no and say what she wants and how she feels.

Today a little boy that Caroline was playing with accidentally hit her with a stick. It wasn't hard, and she was ok. He was completely oblivious to it. Caroline said something. She said "He bonked me. That hurt. I don't like that". I was so happy that she spoke up for herself! I encouraged her to tell him, not just me.

That same little boy moved a rock that she had specifically placed out of the creek to take home. Again she said "He moved my rock! I don't like that". I praised her, because it's ok for her to say things like that. I also asked if there was another place she could perhaps keep her special rock to prevent things like this from happening.

If I have any regrets in my life, it's that I didn't speak up enough. I didn't speak up enough when I wanted to say no. I've gotten taken advantage of in so many situations. I don't speak up in those moments when some rude lady decides to stand in front of me like she didn't see me waiting in line. But I do now. For my daughter. And if I don't, she totally would. That makes me so happy and so proud. I've gotten through to her and empowered her to stand up for herself.

It's ok to hold others to the same high standards we expect of ourselves. It's ok to hold adults accountable for their actions. And it's ok to hold children accountable for theirs as well. Yes they are learning, and the learning will only increase as a result. If done correctly, the village forms... it's no longer just one mom having to correct her own child. Other children and other moms can speak up. It's all of our responsibility.

-Katrina

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