It was a laid back evening for Mia and I at a local “Music in the Park” event. It was the last one of the summer and our first time attending. I was kicking myself in the butt for never going before, it’s such a great chance to get out of the house with the family and connect with the community, friends and enjoy some live music. And also an excuse to drink alcohol in public. That’s always a plus, right? Always.
While watching my 3 year old play and dance from afar (a safe distance, don’t worry), I had so many thoughts, emotions and warm & fuzzies stir up. Some were nostalgic, remembering how carefree childhood was. What most of us wouldn’t give to have that wide-eyed, innocent, joyful, energetic and confident outlook on life again. What I wouldn’t give to be able to bottle that up and take shots of it from time to time, with a side of lime and salt (of course). It’s almost a shame that memories from this time in our lives are so hard to recall. One big perk of being a mom is getting to relive these sweet and simple moments through my daughters.
During this particular night, a favorite song of mine began playing in my head while watching Mia dance with her gal pal among the crowd of adults. Quick side note: this gal pal’s mom is a very close gal pal of mine who I met in the 7th grade. Her and I have danced away many nights together while living in San Diego during our college days. Crazy to see our girls doing the same before our very eyes, years later. Anyways, back to the song. I’ve always found it meaningful and now as a mom, it resonates more within me than ever before. “I Hope You Dance”, recorded by Lee Ann Womack, summons all of the hopes and dreams I have for Mia and her future.
I received a special high school graduation gift from an elementary school teacher who I was volunteering for as an aid. She gifted me with a book that features the lyrics of this song and also breaks them down into further writings about the truths in life that the writers want their own children to hold dear. I’ve held onto this book for the last 14 years and plan to pass it down to Mia when she’s old enough to read and understand it. I hope you don’t mind if I share with you now the lyrics and just some of my favorite writings from the book.
“I Hope You Dance” lyrics
I hope you never lose your sense of wonder. You get your fill to eat but always keep that hunger. May you never take one single breath for granted. God forbid love ever leave you empty handed. I hope you still feel small when you stand beside the ocean. Whenever one door closes I hope one more opens. Promise me that you’ll give faith a fighting chance. And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance, I hope you dance. I hope you never fear those mountains in the distance. Never settle for the path of least resistance. Livin’ might mean takin’ chances but they’re worth takin’. Lovin’ might be a mistake but it’s worth makin’. Don’t let some hell-bent heart leave you bitter. When you come close to sellin’ out reconsider. Give the heavens above more than just a passing glance. And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance, I hope you dance. Time is a wheel in constant motion always rolling us along. Tell me who wants to look back on their years and wonder where those years have gone. I hope you dance.
I mean, right?! How dead-on is this. I just think this is so beautifully and poetically written and what I love about it is that it applies to all ages. Even reading it now, I find myself contemplating life and feeling down about the fact that I need a few cans of booze or shots of liquor to get on any dance floor. But that’s another story for another time. Man, three references to alcohol so far. I swear I’m not a drunk.
Hope takes never ceasing to be amazed… Wearing your soul on your sleeve… Holding your breath, waiting to hear “I love you, too…” Believing that tomorrow could be better than today… that you’ll get a second chance… that you’ll make a difference… that you matter.
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
Let the music move you, let the moment take your hand, let it lead you out into the middle of the dance floor and embrace you. Dive off the high board, ride with the top down, thrive like a wildflower, and sing (who cares what you sound like) with a voice all your own.
If you’re ever lying on a beach with 80 billion grains of sand beneath you, 700 thousand ocean waves before you, 60 million stars stretched out above you, and you’re still not at all impressed, I want you to think about this: The light you see reflecting from the stars is over one million years old. WOW. But then, just before you start to feel like a mere blip in the gigantic scheme of things, please remember this: Yes, you are small, but you’re also irreplaceable and invaluable and miraculous. Those stars don’t have anything on you.
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
Ah, youth…new skin, wide smiles, clear eyes…the future so bright. If only we could bottle it, sip it now and again, and stay forever twenty-one, forever ten, forever five. I liked being five. But I’d also like to think that time and age are like cousins- they’re relative. Who said you have to go by actual miles? If you didn’t know how old you were, how old would you be? (Me, I’m sticking with five.) I’ll even argue that you can bottle youth. What you store it in is all up to you. (I suggest your heart.) If you can figure out a way to keep the energy and gumption and fire alive, you’ll always stay young. And where there’s youth, there’s hope… where there’s hope, there’s wonder… where there’s wonder, there’s faith… where there’s faith, there’s chance… where there’s chance, there’s love… where there’s love, there’s music… and dancing. So in my heart of hearts, I hope you dance. I really hope you dance. Amen.
Wait… Promise me one more thing: If tomorrow you wake up feeling unoriginal or frail-hearted or faithless or tired of this world, please, pick up this book and start back at page one. (Or just call me.)
If you’re at all interested in purchasing this book, you can check it out HERE. No, this post is not a review for this book, I’m in no way associated with it other than being a satisfied owner of it. I think it makes for such a great graduation gift, or gift for someone who needs encouragement, for your child (teenager or adult), or even for a baby shower. I keep this book on the top shelf of Mia’s bookcase so that she can’t quite reach it yet and possibly destroy it. It’s just waiting for her to be old enough to ‘get it’.
Join the club!
Wait, aren’t clubs supposed to be desirable groups to join? Because we’ve got a teething baby, too, and this is one club that I’m ready to ditch. But unfortunately, all parents involuntarily become members of it at some point and can’t bow out until this phase runs its course.
Fortunately, there are methods that us parents can take to help ease baby and our sanity during this unpleasant time. But before I get into those, how do you know if your baby is teething in the first place? First off, teething usually begins between the ages of 4-7 months, although timing widely varies. I’ve done a little web searching and here are some of the tell-tale-signs of teething (and whether or not Margo, my 5 month old, is experiencing them):
Signs of teething:
- Drooling: Check! Margo’s mouth acts like a little fountain of saliva. I almost want to toss a penny at her and make a wish.
- Irritability: Check! But in our case, I’m not sure if her crankiness is more than it usually is. “Hangry” should be her middle name.
- A tooth visible below the gum: Nope, no visible teeth. There’s not even the slightest feel of one, either.
- Swollen, bulging gums: No, I haven’t noticed any changes there.
- Trying to bite, chew and suck on everything she can get her hands on: Yes! Margo is little Miss Grabby. Everything, including her hands and mine, are put into her mouth to gnaw on like a beaver on wood.
- Difficulty sleeping: Yes. Unfortunately, for the past few weeks Margo’s naps have been more fickle than usual. She won’t take her paci at all anymore, which is obnoxious when I’m trying to get her back to sleep when she awakens at night or during her nap. But, it may end up being a good thing since this seems to be a perfect time to wean her off of it, rather than later when it becomes harder to quit it as a sleep aid.
- Turning away food: Yes! Margo went from taking a 6 ounce bottle every 3-4 hours, to resisting the bottle after only 1 to 2 ounces in! I have to take so many breaks with her to try to get her to finish as much formula as possible within its hour long freshness period. I believe just like the paci, the sucking is bringing pain to her gums. To get more food in her, I’ve been upping the amount of jar food since she hasn’t been turning it down at all. Gotta keep my baby fat and plump, the way I like ’em.
- Grabbing her ears: Check! Margo has been grabbing and pulling at her ears a lot, especially when she’s fussy and/or trying to fall asleep. She’s also pulling at her hair near her ears. I hope she doesn’t acquire any bald spots! Lucky for her, the sleep sack she naps/sleeps in keeps her from getting a good hold of her hair and pulling any out.
Now that we’ve established some of the common signs of teething, let’s move into the actions we can take as parents to help soothe and ease our baby during this painful and irritable time.
Soothing your teething baby:
- Rub baby’s gums: Use clean fingers to gently rub and massage the gums. Baby may find the pressure to be soothing. Also, make sure your nails are trimmed. I know Margo tries to gnaw on my fingers whenever they’re in her mouth and I worry my nails will cut her gums if they’re not short enough.
- Cold washcloth: Putting a damp washcloth in the fridge to cool it down makes for a chill, soft item to gnaw on.
- Chilled foods: If baby has already started on solids, choose some colder foods to alleviate sore gums. Cold applesauce or pears are good options. These are also a good way to fill baby up since chances are, he or she is avoiding the bottle/breast.
- Rubber teether: There are a lot of teething products out there to choose from, but not all teethers are created equal. There are a few important factors to consider when choosing the right teether for your own child, including safety, texture and effectiveness. The teether that Margo uses and really loves is a rubber ice cream cone by Sweetooth. It’s texture is smooth and somewhat resembles the feel of a dense eraser. It’s a little heavier than it looks, giving baby a good grip on it and a solid but soft material to gnaw on. Head to the bottom of this post for more details on what makes this product sweet and safe and to enter in our giveaway for a Sweetooth teether of your own. Yay, I love getting the opportunity to share great products with you guys! Check them out.
- Distraction: This technique works for a heck of a lot more situations than just teething, trust me, I’ve got a 3 1/2 year old and I’ve taught 4-7yr olds for over 10 years. It’s not always the most convenient solution, since it does require some actual work and time to accomplish it. During baby’s most intense bouts of pain or discomfort, try giving her a bath. The warm water may relax her and take her mind off of her sore gums. Also, taking a walk around the block will provide lots of visual stimulation to distract her. These are temporary solutions, but I’d bet you’re willing to do just about anything to not only soothe baby but to stop the constant fussing and cries that have been banging on your eardrums for the past few days or weeks!
- Teething gel: This one is completely at the discretion of the parent. I know that a lot of parents are very wary of what they put into their child’s mouth, and rightly so. Do your homework with this one before choosing any random product from the shelf. Discuss the options available to you with your pediatrician, and even after they make a recommendation, research it online. My pediatrician has told us to use products that I’m not okay with giving my baby and the only way I came to that conclusion was looking up the ingredients myself. I do know that there are natural and homeopathic gels, tablets and drops out there. They may be a great option for those of you who have tried all else and relief is still in need.
Good luck to everyone who is currently being affected by the fall out that comes from a teething baby. I’ve found that some breathing exercises, a good cup of coffee, a cocktail, an ice cold beer or a glass of wine usually soothes and eases my own lack of sleep, pain and discomfort associated with Margo’s teething. To each their own, right?
I was introduced to Sweetooth at the perfect time, since Margo has been gnawing on everything in sight. She’s the perfect candidate to perform a review for a teether and I was just excited to try something that could provide her some comfort. Out of the four colors available, I chose the green one because Mia’s (my 3 year old) favorite ice cream flavor is mint n’ chip. And you know this teether isn’t going to solely be Margo’s “toy”. Mia uses it in her play kitchen all of the time and I imagine Margo will continue to get plenty of play use out of it as well as she grows.
At first sight, I was surprised at the weight of the teether. It’s heavier than you would think, but it gives Margo a better hold of it and it’s firm enough to withstand her powerful bite. It’s a genius idea, making the “ice cream” part of the teether a bit smoother and softer than the more dense and slightly textured “cone”. This gives babies two different forms of relief during different stages and needs throughout their teething phase. Margo’s gums squeak when she chews away at her new teether. Makes me laugh a little.
The most important details about this teether are the ones that make this a safe product for children. I’m relieved over the following:
- Made in the USA
- Premium Silicone: Made from medical and food grade certified silicone rubber and meets safety standards in the U.S., Canada and Europe.
- Non-Toxic: Guaranteed to be free of BPA, PVC and Phthalates.
- Easy to Clean: No small parts, corners or crevices to clean and it’s dishwasher safe.
- Freezer Safe: Perfect for numbing baby’s gums for fast relief.
- Eco-Friendly: Recycle or repurpose when teething is done. It makes a great item to add to any child’s toy box.
- Affordable: Free shipping is offered on all orders.
- Co-Created by Husband and Wife: I love finding products that came to fruition by fellow parents who found a need for it in the marketplace through their own personal experience. Learn the reasons behind this teether’s creation and how it was turned from an idea into a selling product, here.
How to Enter
If you’d like to win a sweet ice cream teether for your own baby, a friend’s or for a great baby shower gift, here’s your chance. All you have to do is leave a comment below stating which color teether you’d like along with your own experience with a teething baby or perhaps just something funny. Chances are we could all use a good laugh since dealing with a teething baby is anything but funny! Turn this frown, upside-down. The giveaway will run from Friday, October 2nd to Friday, October 9th, when I will randomly choose a winner. Good luck to you all, and thank you to Sweetooth for the opportunity to work with your company!
Finally, I’m at a place where I want time to slow down. As you know (if you’ve been following the blog or my Instagram), Margo was a pill, a handful, a pain in the butt during her first few months and I wanted nothing more than to “fast forward” months down the road to where she’d be normal! Well I’m thrilled and relieved and thankful to say that we’re there. She’s such a treat! I literally kiss her, squeeze her cheeks, hold her tight, and just love all over her all day long. Dominic and I are constantly saying, “She’s so cute!” throughout each day.
She’s been doing really well independently, lying on her play mat, playing in her activity exersaucer and relaxing in her swing. But, she equally does well in my arms and planted on my hip. She loves her Mama and I really don’t mind hauling her around the house. Her most favorite place to be, however, is anywhere outside. She’s calm, inquisitive, interested, and just happy when she’s in our backyard, front yard, outside of Mia’s school when we drop her off and pick her up and at the park. She watches, intently, as leaves and trees blow in the wind, as birds fly by, as people walk past us and as cars zoom down the street. She loves being in new places, indoors as well. She does great in the grocery store and at restaurants because there’s just so much to see and so many people to smile at.
Speaking of smiles, she’s the smiliest baby I’ve ever seen and she shares her giant smiles with everyone that passes by, even if they aren’t looking at her! People are constantly stopped in their tracks from receiving a giant grin from Margo. She fills my heart with so much joy and love. I’m one proud Mama.
Margo is still gaga for Daddy. She lights up when he walks into the room and she won’t take her eyes off of him. This is very opposite than Mia at this age, who would cry when Daddy would come within inches of her. However, Margo does not like it when Dad puts her down for a nap or for the night. I made a Target run one evening after I had put her down for the night, but she woke up soon after I had left. Dad tried giving her the paci which should have put her back to sleep, but instead she just screamed non-stop. He couldn’t calm her and I ended up getting called to rush home ASAP so I could help. This has happened more than a few times, unfortunately.
Other milestones and happenings worth mentioning:
- She began rolling over from back to tummy and to her back again. She can roll across the living room floor. I wish she would sleep on her tummy when she ends up there in her crib, but she fusses until I roll her on to her back again.
- We finally stopped physical therapy. Yaaaaay! Looks like we’re in the clear from wearing the dreaded helmet.
- Spit-up has decreased a bit but still occurs numerous times, daily. I never hold Margo without a burp cloth on my shoulder.
- Naps are back! The sleep book that I read helped tremendously! However, her night sleep still needs some work. I’m still on 5-6 hours of broken sleep each night…for 5 months, now. Yikes! It’s really been affecting my ability to just function each day. Oh, and about our nap schedule…I’ll post about that separately later.
- We managed to get some great laugh sessions out of her. Your own baby’s laughter is the best sound ever. She has kind of a raspy voice, like Mia.
- She is in love with the goldfish in our giant fish tank. She follows it with her eyes throughout the tank and tries to grab it. She’s always wide-eyed and smiling when I hold her next to the tank.
- She’s moved into 6 month clothing and size 2 diapers this month. She’s smaller than Mia was at this time, who was already moving into 9 month clothes!
- She is successfully eating solids. She likes pears, prunes, green beans, carrots and peas. She also eats rice cereal, but I mix prunes in there to sweeten it and to help keep her regular since the soy formula makes her constipated.
- The last few weeks of this month, her appetite drastically decreased. She went from taking 6 oz bottles every 3 hours to fighting the bottle after only 1-2 ounces in. My guess is that she’s teething, even though no tooth has cut through just yet.
- My brother and I drove Margo and Mia to Utah to visit our parents. It was Mia’s 3rd road trip there, and Margo’s first road trip anywhere. Overall, she did better than I thought she would. We had to stop twice on the way there (it’s a 6 hour drive) and only once on the way back. She didn’t sleep as long as I had hoped she would. And, I did have to squeeze my big butt in the back seat between both car seats to keep her happy after a couple hours into our trip. It wasn’t comfortable for me the rest of our way, but it was worth it to keep her from crying and/or screaming.
That’s about all of the updates that my sleep-deprived brain can think of. Hope I didn’t leave anything out. As we enter our 6th month, there are only two things that I hope will improve. 1) I hope the spit-up finally stops. It’s super gross, you guys. So stinky. 2) I hope she begins to sleep for longer stretches at night. I’d love it if she goes from 2 bottles in the night to just one. We’re working on it. But overall, Margo is wonderful and beautiful and she’s all ours. Dad, Mia and I are just smitten with her.
No joke, the sounds of crickets are what I’m currently hearing as I begin this post. They’ve also filled the ears of my readers as they visit my blog since things have been pretty quiet around here, lately. I don’t mean them to be. Keep reading and I’ll do my best to explain what’s with the hold-up.
In my perfect blog world, I’d be producing at least three fun, unique, interesting, inspiring and maybe even entertaining posts each week. That’s probably a goal of most bloggers and I’m no different. But I know that’s not my reality now and it really hasn’t been for a long time. I’m lucky if I get one post published a week and when I do, it’s usually just an update on my kids or some kind of product review. Sure, the updates are worth gold to me since they hold such sentimental value and give me memories to look back on for a lifetime (and then some). But that’s really not all I want my blog to be about. Not even close.
(Confession #1) I’ve been putting a lot of thought lately into what I want this blog to communicate to readers, and I just don’t feel like it’s a great representation of me nor is it heading in the direction I want it to go. I’m not proud of it but I want to be. I plan to dedicate a full post on the subject because I have tons of thoughts on why I feel this way and on my vision of how I want it to improve. I even want to change the name and fully rebrand it.
Not being satisfied with the general vibe of my blog right now is part of the reason why it’s been hard for me to continue writing and producing posts. I constantly have ideas for subject matter and have handfuls of drafts that are saved in my “dashboard” (hello, WordPress term) but it’s hard to find the drive to pour myself into them when I feel my blog is kind of driving aimlessly and in slow motion. But, there are plenty of other reasons that have kept my focus away from the blog.
(Confession #2) I think the most obvious of those reasons are my two girls. I’m a stay-at-home-mom and holy moly, I remember once thinking how much easier life would be to have the privilege to stay at home. I oughta slap myself across the face for thinking that. It’s definitely a privilege but it’s not easy. Not even close. And I admit that I’ve caught myself, a few times, wishing I was a working mom and someone else could care for my kids while I catch a daily break from it all. It’s not the physical work of being a mom that I find the most exhausting. I think it’s more emotionally and mentally taxing. Always putting myself last makes me feel like I’m becoming nonexistent. I feel like I’m losing myself and sense of identity. The fact that I’ve been sleep deprived for the past 5 months has also been taking its toll. I constantly find myself tired, unfocused, unmotivated, a little on edge, hazy and overwhelmed. When I do get a few minutes to myself, I just want to sit and do absolutely nothing. I don’t want my brain to have to think about anything, let alone pull itself together to articulate thoughtful blog posts. Throughout this post already, I’ve had trouble typing and even spelling common words that usually aren’t trouble for me. I lose my train-of-thought often, too.
(Confession #3) Another part of life, at the moment, that’s had my mind distracted from the blog is my marriage. This is another hot topic that I want to discuss here on the blog, but I think it’s best to wait until I’m in a place, mentally, where I can sort of reflect on this time in our lives in a more fair way. I don’t want to air dirty laundry or throw anyone under the bus, but I do think that opening up about the struggles that occur between husband and wife when kids are brought into the picture is an important one to have. So many times I see images on social media of married couples looking so happy and perfect while raising a handful of kids and I’ve often found myself feeling envious. But, as I’ve talked more openly to other moms about what I’ve been experiencing, I’ve learned that what I’m going through with my husband is more common than I had thought. These “perfect” family images that fill my Instagram feed may be lovely to look at, but I have to remind myself that no marriage is perfect all of the time. Portraying these happy moments is great and all, but I do wish that more people would also throw in some raw, honest truth into their feeds every now and then. Life is full of dirty and ugly moments, and wouldn’t it be nice to see more often that we’re not alone with our daily stresses, awkwardness and frustrations?
For now, until I post in more detail about our personal issues, I’m going to be general and say that my husband and I don’t get along when we have babies in the picture. We argued a ton when Mia was born and throughout her first year. Things were improving as she grew older until we had Margo. We’ve been arguing over the same crap that we did with Mia. We differ in how we parent. We differ in our views of routine. We differ in our order of priorities. We’re both stubborn. We both agree that we don’t feel like we’re tackling this parenting gig as a team. On top of the exhaustion that I feel from raising my kids everyday, I then have to deal with the exhaustion that is our marriage. On a lighter note, we have been getting along (for the most part) over that last week so that’s progress in itself for us. But I want more than just “getting along”. We need to reconnect, respect, support, have fun, laugh, play and just enjoy each other’s company. I haven’t lost faith in our ability to get there.
A few other things that are distracting me from the blog:
- I’m trying to spend some time improving my photography skills (I’ve been feeling very rusty) and I want to also spend time promoting Misty Jeanine Photography. One of my biggest goals is to grow into a full business and to one day be a very desired photographer. I’m not there yet by any means, but I’m working on it.
- My sewing machine has been calling my name. It sits in plain view each day and I’ve been itching to get back to sewing. I want to spend some time increasing my inventory for my Etsy shop. It’s pretty sad and bare right now. I have buckets and bins of fabric that are just dying to be turned into bibs, burp cloths, blankets and more.
- My house is in a constant state of disarray, always cluttered with toys, laundry baskets and miscellaneous items that just can’t seem to find a permanent home. Proper storage and closet space is seriously lacking in this house so keeping everything in a “home” is really tough. I feel like a robot each day, putting the same crap away and doing my best to organize but it’s very time consuming and overwhelming. It keeps me from doing anything that makes me feel like a person (you know, interests, hobbies, etc). The good news is that a few of us on our street are having a garage sale next month, so I’ll be devoting a lot of time until then going through our overabundance of crap and setting items aside to sell.
- I started going to Wundabar Pilates classes a few evenings a week. That crap is hard! I hate how expensive it is, but my body can really feel the workout it’s getting. Muscles that haven’t been used in forever are finally being put to work. After this month of membership is over, I’ll probably take a break from it until I’m getting more sleep at night. I don’t feel like I’m able to physically give it my all and properly do the workout correctly when I’m sleep deprived from the last 5 months. I’m averaging 5-6 hours of interrupted sleep each night. I’m a hot mess! But now that Margo’s naps are regular again, I can take up jogging on my treadmill in the garage once it cools down a bit. My fitness and physical health need to be made a priority ASAP.
- An upcoming project (actually, I should have started on it yesterday!) that will be sure to take a chunk of my time is making our costumes for Halloween. Of course, I already know what we’re going to dress up as. Are you surprised? Don’t you know me but at all?? I really want to reuse Mia’s first costume (check out her handmade owl costume, here) for Margo this year since I spent so much time on it. It would be a shame to only use it once. So the rest of us will follow suit and be “birds of a feather”. I’m going to be a flamingo, Mia wants to be a peacock and Dominic is undecided. He’ll either be a bird watcher (*fingers crossed* That would be super easy to put together) or a toucan. You can see all of our past DIY costumes, here. I love Halloween!
So….with all of that going on, (you know, life) blogging has been bumped lower on my list of things to do and rightfully so. It’s still on there, though. At the very minimum, I do my best to get the updates of my girls on here because if I don’t I fear I’ll forget it all. If you’ve been following the blog or know me personally, I have a terrible memory. Like, scary bad. I don’t remember my own childhood and I want to cry at the thought of forgetting my own children’s childhood. So…I blog and I take a butt load of pictures.
Boy, I’ve got a lot on my plate. Maybe that’s why I feel so overwhelmed. Can’t I just hire a life coach to step in and help me prioritize and organize my everyday, my goals and overall life?! If it weren’t for the blog, though, I’d really feel like I’m living out the movie “Groundhog Day.” Each day feels the same as the last and the blog has been a great way for me to connect to other bloggers and parents. I’ve made some good friends and have connected with great companies. Thanks to everyone who continues to visit and actually reads my rambling. I hope you stick around through this weird funk I’m in on the blog and in my personal life.