Lessons from the Newborn Days

Lessons from the Newborn Days - There is much to appreciate and learn from those first days, weeks and months when you have a baby. Here are some of the lessons I learned in hopes that it encourages other new mamas.

When I was pregnant, I read lots of books and blogs, all full of advice for pregnancy and parenting. There was so much information about having a healthy pregnancy and countless opinions available on labor. The same is true with parenting and caring for a baby, but there were many things I didn’t know until I did it.

This was a list I began months ago when I was in the midst of caring for my newborn, Nathan. Amazingly, my little, tiny baby will turn one in a week. The past year has flown by. As I look back over the past year, I thought it fitting that I share this list now. These are a couple things I wished others had told me – or the things I wish all mama’s of newborns would know.

You don’t get a medal for having a baby without an epidural. My friend, Allison, wisely told me this piece of advice. If you want to labor without an epidural, that is certainly your prerogative. The same can be said of your decision to have an epidural. I wasn’t planning on having an epidural, but when my labor sped up too rapidly (with contractions every minute when I was only 4 cm) for the doctor’s comfort (and mine!), I opted for an epidural. I was glad I did! My sisters have amazingly labored without epidurals. We all ended up with healthy babies. This is just one of the many difference of opinions but every laboring mama gets to decide for themselves.

Enjoy your time at the hospital with nurses available at any hour of the day or night. Yes, the constant interruptions can be annoying to some but I chose to be thankful for their constant checking up on me. Ask your questions. Accept the advice they give. And be sure to take home the “free” things they give you – like bottles, diapers, pads, and formula.

Lessons from the Newborn Days - Take advantage of your nurses while you can.

If someone offers to bring you a meal, graciously take them up on the offer. It may not be a meal you’d typically cook for your family, but the time spent out of the kitchen is lovely! Even if you have meals in your freezer and feel ready to cook, still accept the gift of a free meal for what it is. A thoughtful gift!

Your baby will take all your time. Find a comfortable spot because you will be spending majority of your days (and nights) feeding your baby. Remember that the typical two hours of a newborn baby’s feeding schedule are from the start of one feeding to the start of the next – so it’s really only an hour and a half break (or less) between feedings. The time between feedings does lengthen as your baby grows. There will come a time when you can do things other than feed your baby.

Learn to appreciate any amount of sleep you can get. It’s been said to sleep whenever the baby sleeps. Sometimes that is possible but sometimes it is not. After waking up multiple times through the night, and with an early rising baby who still likes to wake around 5, I found those early morning naps (around 8am) to be just what I needed before getting started on my day. It’s also important to go to bed earlier in the newborn days because you will be up before you know it with your baby. And most importantly, remember that someday, you will sleep again!

Lesssons from the Newborn Days - Appreciate any amount of sleep you can get!

Whether you breastfeed or use formula, you need to keep your baby well-fed. I planned to nurse and, thankfully, was able to do so for the first 12 months of Nathan’s life. I never anticipated using formula, but due to his unexpected start in the NICU, he did take a bottle. After a week or so, Nathan was a primarily breastfed with only an occasional formula bottle, but I learned not to feel guilty about using formula. That said, just because your baby starts on formula doesn’t preclude you from successfully nursing. On the flip side, a little bit of occasional formula won’t hurt your baby if he / she is hungry! Nursing was the more frugal and convenient option for our family, but I have many friends who have transitioned to formula with their babies just fine.

Stock up on free formula deals before the baby is born. Even if you are not expecting to use formula,you may find you need it. For that reason, accept all the freebie samples that come in the mail, as well as from your doctor, and save them until after the baby is born. If you don’t need them, then you can easily give the formula to a friend who needs it for her baby or donate to a local pregnancy crisis center. You will save a lot of money (for you or someone else) by collecting these formula freebies.

You will question what is normal for your newborn. Should he breathe like that? Is that congestion typical? Are all babies this gassy? Is she eating enough? Is he sleeping enough? Especially if this is your first one, there will be questions. Call your Mom. Ask your doctor. Text your friends. And (cautiously) Google, if only for your own assurance. This is normal to wonder what is normal.

Plan to accomplish only one or two things a day. It may be as simple as showering and unloading the dishwasher. Or perhaps doing a load of laundry from start to finish. Keep your plans simple and you’ll be much happier at what you accomplished. This one was a hard one for me since I was used to accomplishing a lot during my days. You are still accomplishing a lot but most of that is tied to the care of your baby.

Learn how to use a baby wrap. I am convinced this relates directly to the previous lesson. You get more done when you have free arms. A baby wrap / carrier makes that possible. There are countless options! I was given a Baby K’tan and Nathan loved it. I loved it, too! He spent a lot of time in that wrap as a baby. It was a lifesaver in the grocery store and even made our walks to the post office more enjoyable.

Lessons from the Newborn Days - Learn how to use a baby wrap.

Take lots of pictures. There will come a day when you’re not snapping as many pictures as you do in those first days. Keep your camera nearby and take pictures of all those moments you want to remember. Sleeping, tummy time, bath time, in the bassinet, in the car seat, with the pacifier, and of course, take pictures of all the people who come to visit. If you are a video person, do the same. Nathan used to make this sound like a little puppy whenever he started to nurse and I wish we had recorded that sound. Oh, how we laughed!

Write down the firsts and the little (and big) events you want to remember. This is where I didn’t do as good of job as I planned. It’s hard in the sleeplessness of newborn days to keep track of all these things. I wish I would have kept a calendar attached to the fridge where I could jot little notes. I have little notes all over the place but didn’t stick with any one thing….and it’s already hard to remember the specifics of all those little moments I was so delighted by.

You are the Mama that God chose for this baby. No one else can take your place. Trust your instincts. Follow your heart. You will do things different from your Mom, sister, friends and neighbors. It’s okay. Don’t be offended by well meaning advice. You’ll choose to follow some and ignore the rest. Do what works for you and your baby and your family. Do what you and your husband believe is best for your baby!

Lessons from the Newborn Days - You are the Mama God chose for your baby!

Cherish these days because they will be over before you realize it. All too soon your baby will be sitting up and crawling and walking and the memories of these newborn days will fade. I love the quote about time spent raising children, “The days are long but the years are short.” This is most certainly true for life with a newborn.

Those are a couple pieces of advice from a mother who is past the newborn days with her (gasp) almost 1 year old son. What pieces of advice would you add to this list?

Sun Maid Instant Win: 14,000 Free Books

Win a Free Children's Book

 

Here is another instant win sweepstakes and one that I’m particularly excited about! Sun Maid Raisins are giving away 14,000 free children’s books – or 200 daily! Through May 23rd, head over here daily to enter for your chance to instantly win one of 14,000 free book including Goodnight Moon,The Grouchy Ladybug, or Paddington ($17.99 value). Again, there will be a total of 200 winners every day. Let me know if you win a book!

Thanks, Hip 2 Save!

Recent Links I Love

Links I Love

Here’s another list of links I loved. I hope you enjoy reading these as much as I enjoy sharing them! There is a lot of wisdom (and deliciousness) out there that I just can’t keep to myself.

Jon Acuff had a great point when he said everything is a classroom. We can and should be learning daily from all those around us!

The Nester had some great advice about when it’s time to paint your ugly floor. This is why I keep reading her blog because she reminds us it doesn’t have to be perfect to be lovely! Sometimes, you just have to jump in and get started – somewhere!

Edie wrote about finding your calling in chaos. We may not lose our homes the way she did, but we have our own unique challenges. God is with us each step of the way!

I loved Shelly’s honesty with her recent frugal failure in buying cheap bread. We’ve all had frugal failures of our own! I just had one and stayed tune because I’ll be sharing it on Shelly’s blog soon.

Ruth listed 9 conversations every couple needs to have. It’s a big yet important list. Read it carefully – and start talking!

Crystal had a great reminder that we need to choose love today.  Some moments this is easier said than done, but we can make the choice. Love is a choice.

Finally, let’s end on a tasty note. Adriane at Little House on the Dairy shared her memories of – and a recipe for – oatmeal marble chip squares. They look nice and gooey and delicious!

Do you have links to share with us?

If you like what you just read please click to send a quick vote for me on Top Mommy Blogs- The best mommy blog directory featuring top mom bloggers

Kroger: Basketball Bracket Instant Win Game

Kroger Basketball Bites Bracket

Kroger has a new instant win game called Basketball Bites Bracket. Daily, two different snacks will be shown. Vote on your favorite for a chance to win one of the following prizes. Prizes will be digitally loaded to your Kroger card. You can play daily, now through April 6th. Let me know if you and what you win! Instant win prizes include:

  • 250 – $25 Gift Card for the Kroger Co. Family of Stores
  • 300 – Wheat Thins Toasted Pita (8 oz.)
  • 300 – Wheat Thins Crackers (5.5-9.1 oz.)
  • 300 – Wheat Thins Popped (4.5 oz.)
  • 300 – Ritz Crackers (7.5-13.7 oz.)
  • 300 – Ritz Toasted Chips (8.1 oz.)
  • 2,000 – Hershey’s or Reese’s King Size Candy Bars
  • 1,000 – Powerade (32 oz.)
  • 1,500 – Coke Zero (20 oz.)
  • 1,500 – Coke Zero (1.25 L)

March Madness Sweepstakes

If you have a couple minutes, I’ve found that sweepstakes can be a good way to win some free products or prizes. I’m a fan of the instant win ones with lots of prizes because I know right away if I’ve won. I also like the ones where you can register once but enter daily to increase your odds. To make the most of my time, I’ve started entering both my husband and myself at the same time – to better our odds. Here are a couple sweepstakes that I’m currently entering.

Nabisco Snack Bracket Sweepstakes

Through April 6th, you can daily enter the Nabisco Snack Bracket sweepstakes. I’m playing for my chance at one of the 1000 $25 gift cards they are giving away. Although, the grand prize is tickets to the Final Four which my husband would love! You collect a game piece each day you enter and you can also rate the recipes daily for more entries.

Coke Zero Bracket Sweeps

Also through April 6th, you can daily enter the Coke Zero Bracket Sweeps. This one you can actually enter twice per day and are assigned a team each time you enter. As your team advances, you’ll have chances to win prizes like free Coke, Reese’s peanut butter cups, or yes, tickets to the Final Four.

Twix Pick a Side

This one lasts through December 31st, so there is lots of time to daily enter Twix Pick a Side sweepstakes! They are giving away 100,000 FREE Twix coupons ($1.49 value) and 400,000 FREE music downloads. Each time you enter the instant win, you are also entered to win the grand prize of $100,000. Even better, you can win 5 times with this sweepstakes. I’ve won 2 music downloads but would really prefer to win the free Twix.

Mars Big Night In Instant Win

Finally, through April 16th, you can still daily enter the Mars Big Night In Instant Win Sweepstakes for your chance to win games, free chocolate coupons or movies. You can also win 5 prizes with this sweepstakes. I’ve already won a free candy bar coupon with this sweepstakes.

Happy entering and let me know if you win anything!

If you like what you just read please click to send a quick vote for me on Top Mommy Blogs- The best mommy blog directory featuring top mom bloggers

Pioneer Woman Recipe Links To Try

Pioneer Woman Recipe Links I Want to Try - Joyfully Thriving

I have always loved flipping through cookbooks. Perhaps that is why I enjoy browsing Pinterest for recipe inspiration so much! I read several cooking blogs but some are hit and miss. There is one cooking blog that always provides reliably good recipes. That is Ree Drummond of Pioneer Woman fame. I have tried many of her recipes already (love her cinnamon rolls!) and have many more that I want to try. Here are a couple of her recipes that I currently want to try.

I love pasta of all kinds. My husband really only likes fettuccine alfredo and only on occasion. I’ve never tried making it but Ree’s recipe for this creamy pasta means maybe I will – just for Andy.

Her recipe for corn and cheese chowder seems like something I would really enjoy. Especially if I were dedicated enough to make a bread bowl for it! This also seems like a perfect soup for winter.

Ree has a fun twist on macaroni with her recipe for shells and cheese (with bacon and peas). Macaroni is already good but bacon makes everything better! I’m still experimenting with macaroni and cheese recipes. So far, the Pioneer Woman’s recipe is my winner for homemade mac and cheese.

I have grown to love grilled veggies so this recipe for grilled veggie burritos looks amazing to me. I love that she put rice in there, just like Chipotle! I could (and should) make this at home, as soon as garden vegetables are in season again.

Finally, Ree recently shared this recipe for apple peanut butter delights. It’s so simple with english muffins, apples, peanut butter and cinnamon sugar but looks absolutely delicious!

There you have it. Those are a couple of the current Pioneer Woman recipes I want to cook. Have you tried any of her recipes? Which ones are your favorites?

Drink Recipes from the Archives

From the Archives

As my blog has continued to grow, I realize there is a wealth of information shared here that many people have not read – or might want to reread. From time to time, I’m going to share some of these past articles for your enjoyment. Follow the links below to the original articles. Take time to read (and pin!) these recipes. These are some oldies but goodies. Let’s start today with some drinks from the archives.

One of my absolute favorite recipes is for Frugal Homemade Chocolate Syrup. This simple recipe has only 4 ingredients and makes delicious chocolate milk or hot chocolate. I always have a jar of this chocolate syrup in my refrigerator. Always.

Homemade Chocolate Syrup

When the weather is cold and I’m not in the mood for hot chocolate, hot wassail is the perfect way to start my morning. (I’m obviously not a coffee drinker.) If you don’t want to mix a big batch of wassail, you can follow my recipe for a single serving of wassail. It’s a bit tangier than apple cider and a family favorite.

Single Serving Recipe for Wassail - Joyfully Thriving

This is a fun one. I made this recipe up when it was the middle of winter and I was craving a Sonic cherry limeade. I’m happy to report that this snow cherry limeade is a great copycat recipe – with only 4 ingredients. No snow? You could pour this over crushed ice.

Snow Cherry Limeade - A perfect snow day recipe for a copycat Sonic drink.

Finally, because this list includes drinks, take a look at my green themed food list in preparation for St. Patrick’s Day. If you have children, wouldn’t it be fun to surprise them with a green meal in honor of the day? You’ve got time to make it happen since St. Patrick’s Day (March 17th) is next week!

Green Themed Foods for Saint Patrick's Day

Were some of these new discoveries to you? I hope so! Thanks for letting me share some of these recipes from the archives.

If you like what you just read please click to send a quick vote for me on Top Mommy Blogs- The best mommy blog directory featuring top mom bloggers

Bonus Points for My Coke Rewards

Coke Bonus Points

Are you a Coke Rewards member? If you are, right now you can enter any cap codes you have for double points! This offer is good through March 13th only. If you’re not a member, consider signing up. Coke Rewards is one of the ways I earn my free Shutterfly books. We don’t necessarily drink a lot of soda, but other people give us their codes too.

How to Get Water Out of Little People

How to Get Water out of Your Little People A Brilliant and Easy Solution - Joyfully Thriving

When I taught preschool, I quickly discovered that my preschoolers loved playing with the Fisher Price Little People. They didn’t care so much for the play sets (and neither did I), but the Little People themselves were always in demand. They loved lining them, counting them, putting them in their Lego houses and block creations. I had a box of Little People for my students to play with and it was used every day.

For that reason, I started watching for Little People bargains. I wouldn’t pay full price for them so I always watched garage sales for them. My target price was a quarter – maybe $0.50 – per person. I also put out the plea to the parents of my preschoolers and when they cleaned out toys, we added some Little People to our classroom. The parents also helped me scour garage sales for them.

When we were given “new” Little People for our classroom, I always gave them a good cleaning first. I wanted to make sure that the dirt and germs were gone before the kids started playing with them. Little People are easy enough to clean but if they soak in hot water, we ran into a problem. Those of you with Little People know what I am talking about. Those little holes at the bottom let water in! I tried running them through the dishwasher in my bottle basket, but water still got in. I didn’t want them molding so I tried everything to get the water out.

I tried leaving them out to air dry. A week later, there was still water in them. I tried shaking them out. As hard as I shook them, there was still water left inside. I tried sitting them in a cup of rice to draw the water out. Nope. That didn’t work either! I Googled it and some said to throw them in the dryer but others cautioned that the paint would chip. I didn’t want that so I skipped that idea. Finally, I stumbled across a sure proof way to quickly and easily get all of the water out of my Little People. Are you ready?

Blow dry the air out! You need to stand the Little People on their head and hold the blow dryer very close to the hole. Turn the air on and aim it directly at the hole for about a minute. This is how it looked as I was working my way through my latest set of Little People. Hold the blow dryer as close to the Little Person for a minute or two.

Here's the simple trick to getting water out of your little people - Find out more at Joyfully Thriving

When you pick up your person, you will notice that the blow dryer has warmed the feet of your Little People enough that the plastic is moldable. Squeeze it tightly and the hole will open wide enough for you to shake every last bit of water out! I recommend shaking it over a towel because those few drops are always more than you expect.

Now, I know you are probably thinking that it’s a great solution but you don’t want to warp the plastic. Amazingly, it won’t! After you squeeze the feet and get all the water out, the plastic quickly returns to it shape and hardens exactly as before. I was truly amazed. You would never know that I had squeezed all my little people flat. The best part? There is not a single drop of water remaining in of my Little People. That makes me very happy!

Now that I know how simple it is to clean – and dry – Little People, they remain at the top of my garage sale list. In addition to all the ones I left at preschool, I am collecting Little People now for Nathan to play with and will happily add to them when I can. Give it a try! I hope you’ll be as pleased as I am with this easy and effective solution!

Coke Zero Bracket Sweeps

Coke Zero Bracket Sweeps

Here’s an easy and fun free sweepstakes – just in time for March Madness! Go over here and click get started to enter the Coke Zero Bracket Sweepstakes. It’s quick and easy to do so. Once you enter, you will be randomly assigned a game piece that represents 1 of the 64 teams in the March Madness tournament. You can enter twice a day through April 6, 2015. The more times you enter, the more teams you will be assigned and the better your odds of advancing and winning. If you win, you will be notified via email. I’m hoping to win a free Coke Zero and Reese’s bar! :-)

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