Turning Around a Rough Day

Oh my. Nathan and I had quite the day on Friday. It started out just fine. We were at home for the day which is always nice. I had agreed to baby-sit a teacher’s son for the morning and he played with Nathan very nicely. Well, as nicely as a 1 and 2 year old can play together!

My usually cheerful little boy, on the other hand, was quite grumpy. Nathan has officially entered the stage of whining when he doesn’t get his way. Sigh. I spent the morning running interference between the boys and trying to keep them both happy. Nathan was clingy and whiny the whole morning.

We’re transitioning from two naps to one but Nathan decided he didn’t want to nap at all on Friday! He took a power 15 minute morning nap and then fought me for an hour and half on his afternoon nap. I tried everything! We read stories, cuddled together, got up for a bit and laid down again, rocked…nothing worked. Naptime, as all you fellow Moms know, is my one time of day to accomplish things without an extra pair of hands pulling at me. This day was become longer by the minute.

By mid-afternoon, Nathan was now exhausted and still whiny. I had developed a headache and was about at my wit’s end. This day which had started out nicely had worn me out. It was, simply put, a rough day. I didn’t want the day to continue like that because I didn’t want to be grumpy back to Nathan. Who ever wants a grumpy day? I resolved to turn my rough day around.

I started by texting my husband and telling him (briefly) about the rough day. Andy, sweetly, replied and said he’d use a gift card and bring home a pizza for dinner so I didn’t have to cook. He also said he’s take Nathan for a bike ride so I could have some peace and quiet. That gave me something to look forward to.

Next, I took some ibprofuen for my headache, poured myself a Diet Coke and ate (some more) chocolate. I am a firm believer that chocolate helps any situation!

I quickly prayed for some patience and picked up Nathan again for some cuddles. We sat together on the couch and read some more books. He momentarily ceased his whining and I was able to appreciate the moment we had – without thinking back about the rough day.

Shortly after, Andy arrived home with the pizza and took Nathan off my hands for a bit. The peace and quiet was lovely. They were back sooner than I expected because our tired baby had been lulled to sleep by the bike ride. Here’s the picture I shared on Instagram.

A Tired Boy on His Bike

I was able to smile at the sweetness of the moment as I lifted Nathan out of his bike seat and got him into his pajamas for bed. Sometimes night comes just when you need it most. Now I had a sleeping baby, a quiet night to work, and a wonderful husband keeping me company. My rough day had been redeemed.

All it took was some determination on my part, a quick prayer, some chocolate and an appreciation for the gifts of the day I had been given. I don’t like grumpy days but they are a good reminder that I can always choose thankfulness. Have you had a rough day recently? How do you turn those days around?

My Plans for a Solo-Parenting Week

My husband left last night for a week in Washington DC with his 8th graders. Andy loves teaching history and loves this trip. He’s so good at what he does – and inspiring a love of our country in his students. While he’s gone, that leaves Nathan and I on our own until Friday. It’s going to be easier than a year ago because this year, Nathan sleeps through the night!

My to-do list is full, as it usually is. I’ve learned to readjust my expectations since becoming a Mom. I still accomplish a lot but it takes me longer than before.

Nathan and I have plans for a play-date with another little boy his age and his Mom today. I’m looking forward to it! Tuesday and Thursday will find me teaching as usual, while Nathan goes to Grandma’s. I have piano lessons every day of the week. I’m practicing with and playing for a preschool Mother’s Day tea.  Those are the things on our schedule. Other than that, we’re staying home.

We’re going to bake bread and pumpkin bread. Nathan loves both kinds as much as his Mama! I made yogurt last night. We’re going to take our daily walks to the post office and around town. We’re going to read lots of books. (Giggle, Giggle, Quack is the current favorite.) Nathan will take his naps and maybe I’ll join him as I occasionally do. I’ll attempt to stay caught up on laundry and the other household chores. We’ll do a bit of grocery shopping and eat from the pantry.

All in all, it will be a pretty typical week – except we’ll miss having Andy / Daddy home with us at night. Who wouldn’t miss a cute little boy like this? (I was missing the Texas bluebonnets so Nathan and I took a picture with the Indiana version – dandelions!)

Nathan in the Dandelions

I hope Andy and his students have an amazing trip. We’ll be glad to have him home again on Friday. What are you plans for the week? Will it be a typical week or anything out of the ordinary for you?

Nathan’s 1st Birthday Party in Pictures

I’ve shared about the set-up for Nathan’s party and I’ve shared about the book themed food I prepared. Now, it’s time for a wrap-up in pictures of the people and events of Nathan’s actual party!

While we got ready for the party, Nathan played with his cousin, Zeke. Zeke came up from St. Louis with his parents (my sister & and brother-in-law) and his Uncle Joel (my brother). We were so glad they could come for the weekend! Nathan’s 4 months older than Zeke and it was fun to really watch the boys interact together. Who needs toys when there are bottles to play with? My mixing bowls were the toy of choice later on in the day.

Cousins and Bottles

Our guests started arriving around 4 for an early dinner at 4:30. We wanted to start early so it wouldn’t interfere with Nathan’s bedtime…too much! Unfortunately, Nathan’s 2 other friends (and their parents) were unable to come but he had lots of grown-ups ready to celebrate with him. Notice the picture wall? Andy finished hanging them 2 hours before the party. Nothing like a deadline to get projects done!

Visiting for Nathan's Party

Nathan had smiles for everyone and like usual, he was able to coax smiles from everyone! I love this picture of Nathan with Tonya, my friend and fellow teacher from school.

Nathan smiles with Tonya

My parents live in Texas but Andy’s parents live in town. We were glad Grandpa and Grandma Whirrett could celebrate with us. Grandma brought party hats and blowers just for the occasion! Nathan wasn’t a big fan of the hats but Grandpa managed to hold it on long enough for a quick picture.

Grandpa and Nathan at his Party

The food was enjoyed by all and then it was time for cake! Nathan was much neater than we anticipated, but he didn’t take long to dive into the cake. He particularly liked the chocolate buttercream icing but still ate about half of his cake. I cut him off at the point and wrapped the rest up for his actual birthday. He enjoyed some of my ice cream, too!

IMG_8626

Everyone was very generous with their birthday gifts for Nathan. He was intrigued by the classic popper and quickly figured out how to push it around and make noise. His new lawn mower is another favorite gift.

Unwrapping Birthday Presents

After presents, Nathan played for bit and entertained everyone with his cuteness. He and Zeke took a bath together before we managed another 4 generation picture. We were glad Great-Grandma Schiffli was able to come to Nathan’s party, too!

4 Generations of Schiffli's

By this time, our birthday party boy was wearing down so it was time for stories and bedtime cuddles. He’s started giving hugs, where he lays his head on your shoulder. It’s very sweet of him and I’m cherishing all the cuddles with my one-year-old boy.

Bedtime hugs and cuddles from Nathan

After a good night’s sleep, it was time for early church. It was Palm Sunday and we were able to worship with my family again. Last year on Palm Sunday was Nathan’s baptism so that was good to remember. After church, we took a couple of family photos before my family headed back to St. Louis. Here I am with my youngest sister, Mikaela. Uncle Joel was quick to get both boys smiling!

Kristen and Mikaela with Nathan and Zeke - March 2015

Speaking of Uncle Joel, Nathan was sad to see him go. Uncle Joel had been carrying him on his shoulders and Nathan loved the new perspective! My brother’s so good with little ones!

Uncle Joel and Nathan

All in all, it was a wonderful birthday weekend for Nathan. I hope you enjoyed a glimpse inside our celebration!

1st Birthday Book Themed Food

A Children's Book Themed Menu - Here is a list of classic children's books and foods that go with them. A great party idea for a young book lover!

I loved planning this party for Nathan’s 1st birthday! I got to combine my (our) love of books and food. What a perfect combination for a fun party! All of the books I chose really are books that Nathan loves to read. On average, he and I probably spend an hour reading throughout our day. Nathan loves any good rhyming book right now. He’s also started picking out the books he wants and bringing them over to me to read. Since Nathan loves books so much, it was an easy party for me to plan. Here’s what I served for Nathan’s 1st birthday with our book themed food menu.

For each food item, I displayed the book along with a place card with the actual quote / description to tie together the food and book. I typed the cards in Word using the free font Pea Ellie Bellie. I liked this font because it appeared handwritten but it wasn’t really! You can download a free copy of my birthday menu cards here if you’d like to use them yourself. I simply trimmed them with a 1/2 inch margin and mounted them on folded pieces of navy blue cardstock.

Our buffet started with the book Cuckoo Can’t Find You by Lorianne Siomades. It’s a short one that I never read in preschool but am glad I saved it because it really is cute. Each picture is a hidden picture with the rhyming phrase. We used “Loon can’t find his spoon. Stork can’t find his fork,” and set it by the silverware, plates and napkins.

Cuckoo Can't Find You started out the buffet with our silverware - Joyfully Thriving

The food started with Nathan’s favorite Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss. I’ll never forget the day Nathan brought me “Green Eggs and Ham” seven times to be read during the day. And at 9 months of age? That’s a long book! It wasn’t one of my favorites but Nathan really enjoys it.

Of course, I made green deviled eggs. One of my best investments earlier this year was the Wilton food dye made specifically for icing. I don’t know why I’ve tried to color with liquid food dye for so long! This dye is amazing. Simply dip a toothpick in the gel and stir into your food. You get a vibrant color without having to mix and match for a weak color resemblance. Plus, you barely have to use any! Look how green my eggs are. Incredible, isn’t it? Seriously. Go buy some. It’s amazing! I used a decorators page with a tip to pipe the filling into my eggs. Quick and easy!

For the ham aspect of the book, I made mini ham and swiss sliders with the recipe found here. This ended up being the most expensive part of my meal because you need deli ham and swiss cheese. Still, it was well worth it to see how much they were enjoyed! We made a double batch of 44 rolls and almost all of them were eaten. The thing I liked most is that my sister made the sandwiches ahead of time while I boiled the sauce. As our guests began to arrive, I poured the sauce over the rolls and put them in the oven to warm. 15 minutes later, we were ready to eat these delicious sandwiches. I don’t really care for ham but even I like these sandwiches!

Green Eggs and Ham Food Ideas - Joyfully Thriving

Nathan and his Daddy both share a love of The Little Blue Truck by Alice Shertle. There are no foods mentioned in this cute book but I adapted it and made Little Blue Truck’s Macaroni made with wagon wheel pasta. I used the Pioneer Woman’s recipe for macaroni and cheese. It’s delicious! My brother grated all the cheese for me and I mixed it up earlier in the afternoon so it could reheat in the oven with the ham sliders.

Little Blue Truck's Macaroni and Cheese - A food idea by Joyfully Thriving

Next up was the Very Hungry Caterpillar’s fruit salad. Eric Carle wrote a lot of beautiful books but The Very Hungry Caterpillar is my favorite (along with Brown Bear, Brown Bear). I made sure we had all the fruits the caterpillar ate – apples, oranges (I used mandarin oranges instead of regular ones), plums, pears and strawberries. Once again, my brother and sister helped out by chopping all the fruit for the salad. Mikaela and Joel were a huge help to me in the kitchen, while Andy finished cleaning up the house and my brother-in-law kept an eye on the babies. Actually, we all took turns entertaining Nathan and his cousin, Zeke. It was a beautiful fruit salad that I’m sure the caterpillar would have enjoyed as much as we did.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar's Fruit Salad - Joyfully Thriving

The easiest food of the party was for the Llama, Llama, Mad at Mama book by Anna Dewdney. Nathan absolutely loves all the Llama, Llama books – both the board books and the full length ones. In this particular book, for those unfamiliar, Llama is mad at his Mama for having to go to the grocery store when he wants to be playing. He throws a fit and “Out go socks and cheezee puffs…Llama, Llama! That’s enough!” Nathan always smiles when I say that, like he knows Llama’s in trouble now. I bought a big bag of Cheese Puff balls and poured them into a bowl. We don’t buy them often but they are a tasty treat on occasion!

Llama Llama's Cheeze Puffs - A simple food idea from Joyfully Thriving to go with the book.

Since Nathan enjoys all the patterns and repetition of nursery rhymes (great for building phonemic awareness), I set out one of his Mother Goose books. He has – and we read – several. The Classic Mother Goose is nice for the old-fashioned pictures. Can you guess what nursery rhyme and food? Yes, indeed! Little Miss Muffet’s curds and whey! Cottage cheese is one of Nathan’s favorite foods, so this was another easy food to chose and serve.

Little Miss Muffet's Curds and Whey

The final item was a veggie tray (and dill dip) that went with the Yummy Color’s book. Unfortunately, the evening sun was shining through the windows as I quickly took the pictures before we ate, so I don’t have a good picture to show you. It was a regular veggie tray (carrots, cucumbers, celery, green peppers, tomatoes and black olives) and I know you’ve seen them before. Just pretend there is a picture following below!

For drinks, we served six varieties of soda (plus water). Why soda? When we were in the NICU, Nathan was given the book Dr. Seuss’s ABC’s. It was the first book we read to him (outside the womb, of course). He still likes hearing that book. So, we had six different sodas for the S page and  “Silly Sammy Slick sipped six sodas.”

Silly Sammy Slick Sipped Six Sodas - Joyfully Thriving

Finally, as I mentioned when I shared the set-up and decorations for the party, I made Little Blue Truck cookies. I didn’t have a cookie cutter so I made a paper template and cut them out with a knife. I used my Wilton food dye again to get a vibrant blue on the pick-up trucks and coordinated the number one’s in bright red. We had a birthday cake and ice cream as well but enjoyed the cookies, too.

1st Birthday Cake and Cookies - Joyfully Thriving

There you have it! That is the book themed menu that I planned for Nathan’s birthday party. We all had fun celebrating with some of Nathan’s favorite books. I hope you enjoyed the glimpse into the party! I’ll be back with one more post tomorrow to finish Nathan’s birthday celebration.

1st Birthday Ideas - Joyfully Thriving

Nathan’s 1st Birthday Celebration

It’s taken me awhile to gather my pictures from Nathan’s 1st birthday celebration and share them with you. In doing so, I realized there are several aspects of the party and food and books to tell you about so the sharing will take place over a couple days this week with different posts. Today, I’m going to focus on the set-up and decorations.

When I started gathering ideas for Nathan’s party, one of the first ideas I stumbled upon were the infographics. I loved the idea and set to work creating my own on Canva. It wasn’t that hard to do and I love the way it turned out! I printed them as 4 by 6 pictures and mailed them as his party invitation. The invitation included our address and an RSVP portion at the bottom, which I cropped off later so I could display a larger 8×10 print at his party. The only thing that changed was he did get his third tooth before his birthday! Otherwise, everything else stayed the same.

Nathan's 1st birthday Infographic 8x10

I wanted to display the photo books that I had created during Nathan’s first year. We bought a sturdy 6 bin bookcase from Target to hold (and hide) Nathan’s toys in our family room. The top was the perfect place to display the Shutterfly books I’ve created. The flowers were given to me after I directed our school musical, “Cool in the Furnace” the night before and were the perfect touch.

Shutterfly Photo Books - Joyfully Thriving

I use Shutterfly to scrapbook now and I am always pleased with how these books turn out! I had a 8×11 book that I created about my pregnancy with Nathan that includes all my weekly belly pictures. I used a special Shutterfly theme and updated it regularly throughout my pregnancy. I was very happy with the way it turned out!

I also created 8×8 books of his birth and baptism. We took Nathan’s 3 month pictures at Portrait Innovations and got the cd of his pictures. I took the cd and put all of the pictures in another 8×8 book so we had them bound together. I didn’t put any words in that book – just pictures – but I’m glad I did that. All of these 8×8 books were free, thanks to the wonderful free product coupons. Now I just have to finish his 12 month book!

Nathan’s 12 month book features the close-up monthly pictures I took of him for the past 12 months. I took a picture of him each month – on a different blanket we’d been given. The pictures got a bit more challenging as he grew older when he didn’t want to lay on a blanket. Still, I’m happy I did this! I wanted to display those and had planned on putting a garland together. However, other preparations took precedent and it was 15 minutes before the party started when I realized we hadn’t put the pictures up yet! I gave my sister some painter’s tape and she arranged them in month order on our coat closet door so everyone could see them as they walked in. It was simple and served the purpose. Isn’t it amazing how much babies change in 12 months?

Nathan's 12 Month Pictures Collage - Joyfully Thriving

We set up three card tables in the dining room and covered them with plastic tablecloths. That made clean-up so easy! We also had our big dining room table set for eating. Each card table got a book and coordinating stuffed animal as it’s centerpiece. These were just a couple of Nathan’s favorite books. Since I was (am) an early childhood teacher, I had matching stuffed animals. I had the Clifford set (from Kohls) from before I began teaching.

Clifford Table Topper - Joyfully Thriving

The spotted leopard from “Put Me in the Zoo” was a shower gift from Nathan’s Aunt Kara. I already had the book from Kohls.

Put Me in the Zoo Table Topper - Joyfully Thriving

Finally, the Llama set was from Scholastic, which my husband bought with bonus points. Andy thought Nathan needed a stuffed Llama since he loved the books so much!

Llama Llama Table Topper - Joyfully Thriving

I took this picture from our Valentine’s Day photo shoot and added some text via PicMonkey. It’s a great (free!) photo editing site that I use regularly. I had two free 8×10 prints from Shutterfly so printed this off for the cake table.

Funny 1st Birthday Picture - Joyfully Thriving

For the birthday cake, I used a recipe for a layered cake that I found online at Completely Delicious. The cake was good but nothing that special, in my opinion. However, we did all like the chocolate butter cream frosting and I would make that again. Nathan did too! I made a layered cake for the guests and Nathan got his own little cake. I also made Little Blue Truck cookies and Number 1 cookies. I bought a number set of cookie cutters on Ebay so now I’m set for every year if Nathan wants number cookies! I never did find a truck cookie cutter so I made my own template and cut the cookies out with a knife. More about that with the upcoming party food post!

1st Birthday Cake and Cookies - Joyfully Thriving

Oh! How could I forget the decor I worked on the most? Again, I had seen the idea on Pinterest and decided to make a festive birthday balloon wreath for our door. The site that shared the idea said it would take 144 balloons. I don’t know about that…because several trips to the store for more balloons and floral pins later, my wreath took 550 balloons! I am happy with how it turned out. It took longer than I expected but we finished it the night before the party. This is now our official family birthday wreath that is coming out anytime there is a birthday!

Birthday Balloon Wreath - Joyfully Thriving

There you have it. That is how we decorated for Nathan’s first birthday party. There were streamers and balloons from the ceiling that Andy put up, but we didn’t get a good picture of those. Come back tomorrow to see the book themed food I prepared for the party!

1st Birthday Ideas - Joyfully Thriving

 

Coming Back from Spring Break

It’s always a little rough to come off Spring Break. The relaxed schedule is so nice. It’s nice to have more flexibility in our days. Plus, I love having Andy home with us! Today marks the return to our regular schedule.

My husband accomplished a lot over Spring Break. I have to brag on him for a minute.

He cleaned out the garage, throwing out lots and organizing what needed to stay. It looks so much better now!

He got rid of all the wood from a huge tree that the power company took down in our front yard. It took several trips to an Amish neighbor and his Tahoe got stuck in the process but the wood is now all gone!

He installed our new countertops with his Dad. We lived with our dated fake wood countertops for a long time but finally updated. They look so much better! Of course, now we need to repaint the walls so it’s a one step forward and two steps back project. Still, I’m so glad the countertops are checked off our list!

What did I do? I took care of Nathan so Andy could work! :-)

I did manage to read a book. I posted some things to sell on Craigslist. I cleaned and reorganized the kitchen after the new countertops were installed. I did laundry. I took a blogging break. I joined Instagram (even without a smart phone). I went to church. I celebrated my 33rd birthday.

I don’t feel like I accomplished much but the break was good. It also puts me in the mood for summer vacation. Even part time, it is still one of the great advantages of being a teacher. I have 2 months – 8 weeks of school – 17 music classes – left to teach this year. Yes, I counted!

We did have a wonderful Easter and I’m glad we had time together as a family. We went for walks. We used some gift cards to eat out. We tagged team the morning wake-up with Nathan so we could sleep in. Simply put, we had a more relaxed pace for a week. Spring break always comes at the perfect time. Now, back to life as usual! How was your Easter and / or most recent break?

Easter Family Picture 2015

Happy 1st Birthday, Nathan!

How can it? How can my baby be turning one already? Everyone warned me how quickly time would pass and it is true. One year ago today, we welcomed Nathan Reagan into our family. God is good. Today, we are celebrating the first year of Nathan’s life. Here is a collage of his monthly pictures so you, too, can see how much he’s grown!

Nathan's 12 Month Collage

He’s grown so much! Nathan’s smiles brighten up the darkest day and a smile is never far from his face. He is truly a people person and our sociable little guy. He loves to cuddle and read stories. Most of all, he loves us – and we love him. Happy birthday, dear Nathan!

Note: Obviously, it’s Nathan’s birthday today but mine falls already next week. It’s also Holy Week and Spring Break in our house. For all of those reasons, I’m taking some time away from blogging this week and will be back again as usual next week. I pray you all have a blessed Holy Week and a joyful Easter celebration! 

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?