At Home with Christiana: Thinking about that third baby?

As incredibly proud and crazy parents of three little ones, my husband and I have been surprised at how frequently we are asked about the transition from two to three children by families expecting or considering a third child.

What’s it like going from two kids to three?

How is the transition? Is it THAT bad?

Now, aside from wanting to throw my head back and laugh hysterically. Here’s what I would say to you if I had enough time sleep brainpower remaining to think through my answer…

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Life with Three Kids: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

The Good: Confident Parenting with built-in helpers

There are clearly any number of absolutely joyful and miraculous things about bringing a baby into your family, regardless if it’s your first or fifth. Here’s what we found were the strong points of our ‘third baby’ transition.

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  • Your other kids already have a companion

Your first child had no one else play with but you when you brought home newborn child #2. In my case, I breastfed our babies. Trying to actively engage our first child (who was still a toddler in his own right) while simultaneously nursing our new baby was a big challenge for me. With baby #3, I found this aspect of the transition much easier. My two older boys were already happy to ignore me for blocks of time while playing legos or dress up with each other, so playing together while I was nursing or tending to baby #3 wasn’t a huge deal for them.

 

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  • No only-child adjustment

The change from “only child” is non-existent for your first two kids when you bring home baby #3. Your second child came into this world sharing the spotlight with his/her sibling, and your first child is already settled into the role of big brother or sister. Of course, every child is different, but I have observed among our family and friends that adding the third child is less of of a shock, than it was bringing home #2 for the first-born who enjoyed a window of time as your only child.

 

  • Not your first rodeo

With baby #3, I was much more confident in my abilities to notice problems and make the right decisions for my baby’s well-being (OK I still had Dr. Annie on speed-dial, but maybe less frequently.). You have a lot more experience going into your third baby, and it made me more self-assured as a mother and I was more comfortable trusting my instincts.

 

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  • You have a little helper

Your oldest has a few more years under their belt and is capable of being a much bigger help this go-round. Having a big enough kid to hand-feed their sibling puffs in the back seat of the car is. priceless.

  • Baby-weight schmaby-weight

I remember being completely terrified of my postpartum body the first time around. Would I ever be the same?! Is this even me?! Whose boobs are THESE!?

By baby #3, you know your body can and will rebound from pregnancy. Plus, you won’t have time to sit down or eat an actual meal anyway. So it often comes off fast. Trust me.

The bad: Tardy multi-tasker

I hesitate to even use the word “bad” here, and I’m not saying by any stretch of the imagination that having three children is any way bad. To the contrary, I think having three little people is total awesome-sauce.  BUT,  if we are being real here, I think we can all agree that there are some situations that you just don’t feel good about when they happen, in fact you feel rather bad. And these situations mentioned below, I have found to occur more often with three or more children in tow. Just keeping it real.

  • The call of nature will sabotage your on-time arrival, anywhere.

Someone will need to poo at the exact moment you need to leave the house.  I’m serious. Every. time. Just go ahead and set your alarm to leave  a few minutes earlier, it won’t matter. They’ll wait. And they’ll still “haaaaave to go!” at the time of departure. Nature: 1. On-time arrivals as a family of five: 0. Just don’t fight it.

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“Must be time to pick up my brother!”
  • Someone will nap when and only when you have to pick up or drop off another child.

This is enough to make a sleep-deprived parent of three want to put their head through a wall. But it’s infuriatingly true. The ability of your third baby to set their nap schedule to directly conflict with your other children’s schedules is uncanny.

  • Referee, shoes, snacks… and baby 

You will have to do everything for baby #3  that you did with baby #1 and baby #2, except you will now need to do it while either (1) refereeing your other children;  (2) frantically looking for your other children’s shoes; or (3) making a snack. No exceptions.

The Ugly: Exhausted germaphobe

  • NO. SLEEP.

For me, the ugliest part of adding baby #3 was lack of sleep. If you have your children close together, (ours are each 2 years apart) you still have little people that may have trouble sleeping through the night, or need reassurance that they are still your babies too (which often, for us, translated to mommy or daddy hugs and tuck-ins at random hours of the night). There’s no way to make it easy, but if you can try to remember that it will pass rather quickly, and even better if you have a partner or family member that can help alternate/take shifts, you will get through. Take any ALL of the freezer meals and offers to walk to your dog or pick up your other kids. It really takes a village, especially when you’re running a three child circus.

  • School germ-warfare

With baby #3, you will have two germ-covered angels coming from school or daycare everyday sharing a home with your new baby. You will, without a doubt, look down to help one child with a shoe/band-aid/tissue/whatever and look up to see your other child’s germ-covered finger/backpack strap/shoe-lace in your baby’s mouth. You can no longer run man-to-man defense. You just can’t. This sent me into complete germa-phobe mode. I surrounded our baby with bottles of sanitizer and shouted “pump before you touch!!” like a crazy-lady.  And sometimes no matter what you do, baby will get colds, (and no one will sleep) but all you can do is your best. And in the meantime buy sanitizer for your car, your purse, their backpacks, and every room in your house.

Did you know James Corden and Stephen Colbert both have three kids? They do. And they sum up the transition from two kids to three with incredible accuracy and humor here. If you or anyone you know is even thinking about baby three… Watch. This. First.

In sum: We are crazy. But happy. Usually.

Life with three kids is crazy, messy and busy, but it’s also beautiful, amazing, and (usually) really happy too.  Watching our boys dote on and care for their little sister makes our heart explode on the daily. (When they’re not beating each other it turns out they can be kind of sweet?!?) The dynamic of three kids is really special (and mostly fun) already and we can’t wait to see it grow.

Your hands will always be full, but so will your heart.

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fullsizeoutput_658Christiana is a Navy wife and mother of 3, attorney and former realtor, world traveler, home renovator and decorator, yogi, fitness enthusiast, and recipe and fine wine explorer.

 

Friday Funnies: Sh*t Moms Say

Before we were parents, we had this editorial Stepford-wife, blissful image of what it was going to be like. The kids would be clean and organized and I would gently teach them the ways of the world in a calm and reasonable voice. They would dote on me as much as I doted on them..and all would be…well cuteness and rainbows.

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Welp, welcome to the real world, folks. This is a little compilation of some of the best moments of “I Never Thought I’d Say….” and then parenthood rolled up like…

TOP 20 CRAZIEST THINGS TO COME OUT OF OUR MOMMY MOUTHS:

  1. “Guys, poop is not finger paint”  <cue barf noises>

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  2. “Do NOT wrap that extension cord around your neck.” or your sister’s, or the dog’s….why do they want to strangle themselves all. the. time??

  3. “Wow, I never knew that your best friend could single handedly defeat a colossal squid…..NO, I totally BELIEVE YOU.” <serious face>

  4. “No hunting chickens with the garden hose” please. 

  5. “Do you need a snacky-poo?” in some weird alien baby voice, who even am I??

  6.  “No touching butt-holes at the dinner table” because “no touching butt-holes ever” became unattainable at some point…

  7. “Oh God. Who did you just call?”

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  8. “Don’t worry about how bad my breath is, mama needs a hug!”

  9. “Did you just wash your hands in my water glass?!”

  10. “Boys! Use. Toilet paper.”

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  11. “An octopus does not have eight testicles” it’s tentacles, dear. 
  12. “Daddy was just helping mommy stretch” ahem…

  13. “GRAPES. OUT. OF. YOUR nose !” and, basically replace grapes with any object roughly nostril sized – what is with this??

  14. “No lightsabers at the table!”

  15. “Did you fart or is that your sister’s diaper?”

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  16. “Don’t wave your vulva at your sister!” because when you decide to use correct anatomical terms with your kids, you better stick with it.

  17. “We don’t poop in other people’s yards!” oh potty training…

  18. “Good Lord kid, quit eating the money.” there goes your college fund…

  19. “No coloring on the baby” or biting, or spitting, or feeding nuts to… just don’t touch the baby FFS!!

And by far, the craziest thing to come out of any of our mouths….

20. “Let’s have another baby”. BAhahahhahahahahhah!!

There’s no logic to it.

 

Oh yeah, that’s why!

Happy Friday peeps!!

 

Dr. Annie Answers: A Parent’s Intuition

Many of the things that people have said they appreciate about me as a doctor are the direct result of advice from one of my best mentors. One thing – trusting a parent’s intuition – has literally saved the lives of multiple patients of mine, and now hopefully, also that of my nephew. He’s in the womb below, while I was also preggers with baby #2.

As a resident, I remember feeling so lost in the beginning about offering advice on things like breastfeeding or colicky babies or a kid with a weird rash. I had been around lots of kids, sure, but I had never been pregnant, had never tried to breastfed a baby, or to get a fussy toddler to take medicine.

I, for sure, gave some asinine advice in those early days and more than once had patients laugh in my face (sorry pregnant patient who I tried to tell to work on her core strength for third trimester back pain!!). What Dr. Pippitt told me was, “Of course you don’t know their kid better than they do, but you do know medicine better than most of them.” Her advice now seems so obvious – let parents be the experts on their own kids. This applies to people being the expert on their own bodies also, but I’ve found we misinterpret ourselves more than parents do their kids…. so paying attention to what parents think is even more important IMHO.

Since then, I, of course, have become a mom twice over. I know tons more practical advice and can be quite a bit more helpful in treatment strategies. But! I still know that every parent is the expert on their own kid. My bottom line advice for when to have something checked out, followed up on, checked out again is always “if you, as the parent, are still worried or feel something’s not right”.

The validity of this was recently driven home in a tragic way. My sister, back in March, called me on FaceTime to show me a lump on her 3 year old kid’s neck. I took one look at it and thought, “that’s not normal”. My sister and her wife agreed and took him in to their pediatrician right away. The doc told them it was nothing to worry about. But… they were still worried when it didn’t go away. They saw ENT who also said it was nothing. But… they were still worried. Finally at 2 month follow up, it was bigger, not smaller. A few weeks later an MRI and biopsy had confirmed it was Hodgkin Lymphoma, an extremely rare, but very treatable diagnosis in someone his age.

Their intuition was right on, and had they not followed up despite being told it was nothing, it could have been caught at a later and more dangerous stage.

So, the next time you find yourself with that, “something’s not right” feeling, go ahead and get checked. This goes for your own body too, of course. Make sure the provider you see is able to make you feel confident that your fear can be ruled out before you go. This doesn’t mean they will do every test imaginable every time – sometimes we can take a look at something and tell you with high level of certainty, “you don’t need to worry”. We did go to school for a long time to learn that medical side of things, after all. But, if your care provider doesn’t listen to or respect your knowledge about your own kid or your own body, find a new one.

Dr. Annie is a married mother of 2, aunt of dozens of other amazing kids and family doctor in the Sacramento Area.

Ps. If you want to support my sister & her family, you can find them on Caringbridge.com under starlinglynnalesker

Sing Peace: The Power of Positive Intention

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Our scene opens to an Amphitheater. Its Grandparents Day and its my son’s first year at this Montessori School. I am excited to show my Father in Law and his wife how AMAZING this school is. It’s reputable accreditations, top notch facilities, child led education model, etc. Then the kids come out. They get in their positions for a song. Then the music starts…

Light a candle for peace

Light a candle for love

Light a candle that shines all the way ’round the world

Light a candle for me, light a candle for you

That our dream of peace, will one day come true

Sing peace around the world.

Goosebumps. Tears.

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I am utterly inspired by this song that my son’s Montessori Primary class is singing. Mesmerized by the message, I soon forget about all the impressive outward characteristics that the school offered. They, in front of my eyes, are showing me that they are teaching the kids about world peace.

What a notion! Light a candle for peace? Is it really that simple? Can I really believe that me lighting a candle for peace for all, will be enough to actualize that peace?

Yes, the power of positive intention is exactly that. Amazing, untapped, raw, power. 

“This morning, in this room, these children are using their power to change the world.”

<Andddddd……scene>

Many folks ask me whether or not I’ve heard the latest on local, national, or world news.  The many tragedies that happen daily, the “government’s latest screw up” and “this party is responsible for the demise of all humankind”. For those who absorb and feel energy,  frequently called Empaths, these types of things go beyond effecting just their thoughts. We feel this sort of devastation viscerally, which is why it can be hard for us to stay “up-to-date” with current events. It physically and emotionally hurts….quite literally.

There is a feeling of hopelessness that comes with constantly being bombarded with the negative things that go on in the world. It is not that we wish to remain ignorant, it is that the physical and emotional pain of feeling it becomes too much, and we must protect ourselves from it in order to live our best life.

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I know, kid. I feel it too.

Within the last ten years, I have developed a ritual that helps me feel the power of proactivity within what feels like a muddy bog of the energy of today’s world. When I feel taken by the overwhelming feeling of the worlds tragedy, I stop and light a candle. This grounding technique helps me to send up a prayer of protection for myself and the world. I take one moment to speak aloud my intention for that day. “I intend to live today happily and in gratitude” or “I intend to offer a feeling of peace to all whom I encounter.” Walking in that truth, I believe, has the power to effect maybe even ONE person. If I can effect one person, then the ripple effect can begin.

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I feel as though it is safe to say that most of us have heard of the Power of Intention. Ever heard of the book, The Secret? Oprah has!!!!

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Whaddup Oprah’s Book Club List?

The book explains that in the theory of Quantum Physics, everything has an energy; including thoughts. If we think about all that we have to be grateful for, we tend to open our hearts and minds to attract MORE of the same. This goes both ways. Both negative thoughts AND positive thoughts attract one another. Relying on this can have profound changes on one’s life. Simply speak your intention until it ultimately becomes your reality. In the book, that can mean financially, spiritually, romantically, or anything you else can imagine. We are, in essence, limitless.

After all, we’ve heard this same notion since we were littles ourselves.

“When you wish upon a star, makes no difference who you are. When you wish upon a star your dreams come true.” 

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Nice one, Jimminy. Thanks.

And why the heck shouldn’t they? If we are all individually powerful enough to make this happen,

imagine the potential energy of the collective?

The mountains of positivity that things like The World Kindness Movement can move.

An example lies in yesterday’s stresses I faced.  For me, they were almost too overwhelming for me to function. Money, parenting, and hormones (TMI? ah, lighten up;))got the best of me. So today, I woke up with the intention that I would feel nothing but butterflies, unicorns, and rainbows. (photo below) I even dressed the part as a reminder. Needless to say, I had an amazing day today in that I could see the good, the fun, and especially the hope in all the things that had stressed me the day before. Had I not intended to live differently today, I would have most likely felt the same stresses take me over. Silver linings are just that. Shiny lines in the proverbial sand that let us choose whether to stay on the side the negative, or to choose to see the positive.

There are ways you can get yourself involved bringing kindness to the world. The Random Acts of Kindness Organization has plenty of ideas, lesson plans, and even motivational quotes to help you on your way. If you’d like to keep it simple, then just smile at a stranger every now and again. It is said to be hella contagious:)

Or, be like this kid,  Maurice Adams, Jr..

We can all learn from Maurice. Well done, good sir.

At Home with Christiana: Our Daily Bread

When I started this post, it was just going to be my favorite homemade bread recipe, which I am frequently asked to share. But as I started writing it, I wanted to share what led me to begin baking my bread at home, whenever I can.

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For the Love of Bread

After spending a glorious year living in Europe, I fell in love with bread. Like Oprah-style shout it from a mountain-top type bread love. Yep, you heard it… the food that almost every diet-conscious American has been told to break up with, is. my. jam. And while I can agree that a bread-centric diet is not a good idea, I’m going to rebel against the system here and argue that bread, REAL bread can be a part of an otherwise healthy and balanced diet. 

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The Scandinavian Effect

I lost my Americanized fear of bread about 15 years ago, when I was living and studying in Denmark. Scandinavians are some of the healthiest, happiest people on the planet and I observed them eat bread (really good bread) all. the. dang. time. Now, the Danes typically ride their bikes or walk to the bakery … things we Americans could for sure do a little more in our lives. But they eat bread nonetheless. And, another key observation was that Danes went to the bakery for bread. Fresh out of the oven, you can smell it from the sidewalk, real bakery bread. NOT pre-packaged, preserved, pre-sliced, pre-everything bread from the grocery store. This led me to a hypothesis. Maybe the worst part about our bread isn’t actually the carbs but all the other STUFF, the stuff that really doesn’t need to be there at all. 

Pre-packaged bread additives

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While I love bread, I don’t love the growing list of unrecognizable additives on most of the pre-packaged bread on our grocery store shelves these days.  Traditional homemade bread is made from very simple ingredients; flour, water, yeast, salt, sugar. Commercially-made bread, though, often includes a long list of additional and potentially dangerous ingredients including, to name a few:

  • azodicarbonamide – a chemical compound also used to make yoga mats, shoe rubber, and synthetic leather, gained publicity after a food blogger petitioned Subway to remove it from it’s food in 2014. Also found in hundreds of packaged baked goods including breads from Starbucks and nearly every other fast food chain.
  • potassium bromate – a dough strengthener banned by every industrialized country except the US and Japan, a suspected carcinogen, shown to cause cancer in lab animals.
  • ammonium sulfate – like the cleaning and fertilizing ammonia kept in the child-locked poison cabinet, ammonium is often used as a bread preservative/dough conditioner in packaged bread.
  • sulfur dioxide– regularly used in packaged bread as a preservative and bleaching agent. Increases bread shelf life. May cause asthma symptoms. 
  • L-Cysteine – an amino acid which shortens baking time of commercially made bread. Sometimes derived from human and/or hog hair, and feathers. Barf.

Along with mono- and diglycerides, artificial sweetenters, a variety of dough conditioners, and other bread-making shortcuts that provide pre-packaged breads with quicker manufacture times and longer shelf lives. Basically, while we weren’t looking, bread in this country became an industrial success and a dietary disaster.

Back to the Basics

Once I started to research my hypothesis, I became completely freaked out by packaged bread. None of us really want the additives, the preservatives, or the whatever-ives… we just want the basics. You know, real bread.  But unfortunately that’s often not what we’re buying. 

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Photo by Flo Maderebner on Pexels.com

So I started looking for easy, accessible ways to make my own bread at home.  But bread can be notoriously time consuming and gadget laden, with bread-maker and bread-hook and 3 hour prep-time recipes galore. That doesn’t usually jive with the busy lifestyle of modern families. After years of searching, experimenting, I give you my go-to homemade bread. It is based on a Genius Kitchen recipe originally, but modified a bit. You’ll have homemade bread on the table in one hour or less, start to finish. 

This is literally the easiest, quickest, holycrapwehavecompany bread, EVER. No lead time required. No yoga mat chemicals, guaranteed. Homemade bread on the table in one hour – start to finish. Grown ups love it, kids love it, (my kids even request the nutrient rich “green stuff” on top). Win. 

Nani’s Herb Bread

(Serves 8. Makes two large baguettes)

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Ingredients:

For the bread:

  • 2.5 cups warm water
  • 2 Tbsp yeast (regular or quick-rise)
  • 1.5 Tbsp unbleached sugar
  • 2 tsp table salt
  • 4 Tbsp olive oil (reserve 1 Tbsp for topping)
  • 6 cups unbleached all purpose flour

For the herb topping: 

  • reserved olive oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh herbs such as rosemary, basil, parsley, oregano, thyme
  • 1 tbsp chopped garlic (if desired)

Directions:

  1. Pour warm water into a large mixing bowl, then sprinkle the yeast and sugar on top of it.
  2. Let it sit for about five minutes, until the yeast mixture looks frothy on top. (as pictured.)img_6876.jpg
  3. Add the flour, salt and oil and stir until combined.
  4. Once combined, knead the dough until it forms and comes away from the sides of the bowl easily. Add a bit more flour if it’s sticky. It should look something like this. IMG_6877
  5. Cover and let the dough rise in a warm place for about 30 minutes.  Don’t worry if it doesn’t completely double in size.
  6. While your dough rises, preheat the oven to 375 degrees, and gather your herbs.  To make your herb topping, roughly chop herbs and garlic (if desired).  Add reserved oil and garlic/herb to mortar and mash with pestle. Dried herbs can be used if fresh are not available.
  7. With floured hands, remove the dough onto a floured surface and divide it into two equal balls. Hand stretch them into baguettes or create the loaf size/shape of your choice. Place on a lightly oiled cookie sheet. Spoon oil/herbs over bread. Bake both loaves for 35 minutes, or until golden brown. 
  8. Serve warm. We love to slice ours into thick hunks and serve with dipping oil.  MANGIA! MANGIA!img_6883.jpg

fullsizeoutput_658Christiana is a Navy wife and mother of 3, attorney and former realtor, world traveler, home renovator and decorator, yogi, fitness enthusiast, and recipe and fine wine explorer.

At Home With Christiana: Moving with Littles Part I, Ease the Transition

This post began largely in response to a reader’s request for tips on moving with young children, and grew out of the fact that I am on the verge of a move with our three kids, aged 6 and under.  Moving with three kids 6 and under?!   Me:  Ha, Ha, Ha. Easy.  I’m fine, everything’s fine … (sob, sob, sob).

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Annie and I have both lead a rather nomadic lifestyle – with a combined 10 moves between us – since having kids. Along the way, we’ve learned a few helpful pointers. As the military spouse/gypsy mom here, I’m spearheading this topic, but Annie will chime in with some tips as well.

This is by no means an inclusive list of everything you have to do in order to move. In fact, there are A LOT of little administrative items you’ll need to take care of that aren’t included here. Think: change of address, homeowners/renters insurance, utility shut-off/on, updating information with your financial institutions, researching schools, etc. We’ll tackle all of this stuff and more in a later post. Today is all about perhaps the most critical factor for our families each time we find ourselves on the verge of another relocation: easing the transition for the kids.

First, Communication

Talk the talk

Start the conversation about moving with your kids early. And don’t be discouraged if the first conversation doesn’t go so well. Even us adults are typically pretty stressed about the idea of so much change, but the more you talk about it, the more you comfortable you become. And no matter what, sometimes we just feel like this:

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… And that’s okay too. Let your kids know that it’s not only okay, but totally normal to feel nervous, or even a little scared about moving. If you’ve moved before, it can be helpful to share happy or silly stories from previous moves. And even more importantly, listen to their concerns. It is much easier to address a specific fear than fear in general! If you can identify something in particular that your child is nervous about, then you may be able to fix it pretty easily.

For example, after talking with our 5-year-old about our upcoming move, we discovered he was mainly upset about moving because he thought WE were leaving, but all of our stuff was staying put. Once we explained that everything (including most importantly his bed and his toys) is coming with us, he was on board! Of course, not all fears will be this easy to dispel, but you never know when a simple conversation might save the day.

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…and walk the walk

Kids are also really perceptive, so if you and your partner are stressed and anxious about your upcoming move, your kids will be too. Likewise, if you can be (or at least pretend really well to be) calm, positive, or even excited about your move, the feelings will be contagious. Emphasize out loud all the things you are looking forward to with this move.

Your kids are watching, listening, understanding and learning more than you suspect, from a younger age than you would imagine. Use this to your advantage.

Second, Organization

Declutter

Annie chiming in here. If at all humanly possible, at least 1 month in advance of moving, make a decluttering plan. There are several options for strategizing this. What has been most effective in our household might not be the best for you – bottom line is you do YOU! Be ruthless in getting rid of things. Saving an old coffee mug because you *might* glue the handle back on at some point? Nope, you’re moving, ain’t nobody got time for that sh*t when you’re moving a family. TOSS IT.  Kids’ organic wooden blocks that are cute but they never ever play with? NOPE. Donate to another family’s cute nursery.

Our family has been most successful with the Konmari method. Basically in this one you take on one category  of household item at a time rather than a room. For example, you start with clothes. Allllllll the clothes – get out those winter clothes you packed away, your box of skinny pants you’re waiting to get back into, those old dresses you’re saving and go through them ALL together. Then, you pick up each item and decide if it “sparks joy”. Do you really love it? Do you want to wear it right now? Or are you keeping it for some other reason. If you love it, keep it. If you don’t – toss/sell/donate! On to the next category.

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We are a spare, organized household to begin with and got rid of 3 TRUCKLOADS of stuff this way. There’s a great free printable at Making Lemonade Blog that I’ve posted up when we are in this stage. If you have a little time ahead, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo herself is amazing motivation to get going.

STORAGE BINS: Kids have a lot of STUFF. Stock up on these essentials to get it under wraps!

ALL the storage bins. Whether you are moving yourself, or you have a professional moving company, putting as much as you can into labeled storage bins pre-emptively can save boatloads of unpacking time at your destination.

When you find some bins that work for you, buy more than you think you need. Maybe I am still holding onto a vision of my young backpacking self, but I ALWAYS grossly underestimate the amount of stuff we have. There’s no such thing as too many. I know, for some reason these plastic storage bins are so dang expensive. I have no answers on why. However if you find some you like, or are lucky enough to find some on sale (this is something of a unicorn event, they’re never on sale) BUY them. And BUY MORE than you think you need. You want as many of the same size as possible so they stack well (both full and empty) in storage.  A clutter of bins that won’t stack wastes a ton of attic/garage space. Annie says her go to are these Ikea Samla boxes which are relatively cheap. 

You’ll want a variety of sizes – some extra large for light things like extra blankets and pillows, some small ones for things like toiletries and medicines. But mostly, lots and lots and LOTS of medium ones (about 6 gallon size). These are not-too-heavy when packed with toys and clothes and not-too-small to be useful. Oh and … Clear!!! Only the clear ones! Otherwise someone will take a label off and you’ll have no clue what’s in that bin at the bottom of a stack. It seems obvious but…why do they even make any storage things that aren’t clear??

Labeling: Colored Tape

Color code your sh*%!!  Seriously.  I am not a hyper-organized-crazy-person, but this is worth it. Before boxes are removed, slap a piece of tape on it that corresponds with the room you’ll want it placed in when you arrive at your new home. You may not will not have time to write an informative description on your boxes and the moving company will inevitably label them incorrectly or vaguely (like the 500 boxes of ours labeled “decor” including our trash cans!). OR if you’re moving yourself tape just makes a much more time-efficient way of labeling than the old magic marker. We have found this simple trick reduces our “we-don’t-know-if this belongs in the attic or the living room” box pile immensely and makes for faster unloading. No need to stop and decipher the scribbled labels on the box!! Slap whatever color you choose on that box and get those babies delivered to the actual room they belong. The first time. BOOM!

 

Also, They make duct tape in a billion different designs  these days and there are some great ones for kids available through Amazon. Again – buy MORE than you think you need – leftover tape makes for great craft fun later. Let the kids have fun picking out the design or color they want to label their boxes and let them have at it. This allows kids to feel like they can help, have a job, and you might not be asked 800 times a day “is this my box?”. Win. The kiddos feel secure that all of their belongings will be in the right place, and have fun spotting their “Superman” boxes at you new house too. 😊

Looking ahead

As early as you can, start a DO NOT PACK list. These are the things you will bring with you directly. Keep the list taped up on the fridge or somewhere you can jot down items as they come to you. Here are a few of my basics to get you started:

  • Important documents: Passports, birth certs, social security cards, and other important travel documents
  • Pens/paper
  • First aid kit and Medicines – bandaids, allergy meds, kids tylenol to name a few.
  • Trip itinerary
  • Phones, Tablets, Laptops, and ALL the chargers
  • Kids’ favorite comfort object(s) such as blanket, stuffed animal, book, etc.
  • Tape, scissors, pocket knife
  • Wine corkscrew/bottle opener (you’re moving with kids. I’m not even going to
    explain further)

Make a second list of UNPACK FIRST items – the things you’ll want out of the moving truck and unpacked FIRST. Think: Sheets, pillows, blankets, paper towels, toilet paper, hand soap, shower items, towels, coffee maker, laundry detergent… you know, the essentials. Again, post up so you can add as the days go by.

Finally, Moving Time

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Packing the truck

If at all possible, have a trusted babysitter or family member do something fun with the kids on the day you load the truck. It’s stressful enough to get the whole house fully packed up without worrying that your kiddo is going to find a stray box-cutter or be trampled under someone moving the couch. Make sure they’re there when the action gets started so they know what’s going on and then whisk them away to be distracted.

Set aside your DO NOT PACK items somewhere safe (where movers or anyone trying to be “helpful” will not accidentally pack them up). Also pack separately the things from the UNPACK FIRST list with very clear labels and set aside to be packed LAST into the truck so they come off first.

Plane relocation

If you’re headed to your new home by plane and your stuff won’t get there for a bit, you’ll need to plan your packing differently than if your car and moving truck are going with you. If you’re likely to beat your household stuff, you’ll want to pack a LOT of extra stuff to keep the kids feeling secure on the trip. This list will vary depending on where you’re staying when you arrive – your new empty home vs hotel vs family or friend’s home. Factor that in!

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CARRY-ON: Assume checked luggage will be lost and just be prepared to schlep an obscene amount of stuff through the airport.

  • Clothes: An extra 2 outfits for each child and 1 for yourself. Diapers: enough for 2 days.
  • SNACKS. All the snacks. Hungry children are not happy children. Formula for 2 days if your baby is still taking it.
  • Entertainment: A handful of their favorite toys and books. Bonus points for getting a new book and toy as a ‘moving present’ to make it more exciting. Good time to ignore screen time limits 😀
  • The kid’s usual cups: especially if they’re little and have a favorite sippie cup.
  • Car seats and stroller if applicable (gate check).
  •  Toiletries: their usual bath soap, lotion, diaper cream, toothbrush and toothpaste, some baby tylenol and motrin and any other meds you use on a regular basis. Everything you can bring to avoid a late-night trip to the store. Make sure you include at least 2 days supply of any prescription medications YOU are taking.
  • Important documents (see above list)

CHECKED LUGGAGE:

  • More clothes than you think you need. Moving trucks are OFTEN late by a few days and access to laundry might be variable. I basically double the number of days I expect for this.
  • A whole bed set up – the child’s preferred blanket, pillow, stuffed animals, white noise maker, night light, etc… All the stuff that makes bedtime consistent.
  • More snacks!
  • Don’t bother with extra diapers – you can buy when you get there.
  • Your own toiletries and medications. ALL prescription medications. Whatever over-the-counters you take on a regular basis.

Car relocation

If you’re moving by car and the moving truck is going with you or will arrive at about the same time, strategy is a little different. You basically put all of the above (plus all the pet supplies – bed, food, bowls) jam-packed into your car.

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If you have the opportunity to make the trip to your new home into a fun outing it also gives the kids something to get excited about (Please, don’t overthink this or create more stress trying to orchestrate a highly scheduled vacation in concert with a move.). Depending on the kids’ ages, this can simply be a night at a hotel with a swimming pool and Oreo cookies. You want a little something to look forward to along the way, and it can distract from the stress of the ultimate relocation.

And no matter how you get there… bring the love.

adult affection baby child

Talk to your loved ones about planning visits at your new home so your children are reminded that leaving heir house definitely does NOT mean leaving their loved ones, family and friends alike. Make lots of video, FaceTime and Skype calls if visits aren’t an option.

Other helpful resources

There are a lot of great books out there that can be reassuring for your little ones struggling to with the concept of moving, or the idea of leaving friends behind. A favorite of ours is A House for Hermit Crab by Eric Carle. Also check out Sesame Street’s interactive The Big Moving Adventure App (geared specifically for military families, aimed at ages 2-5).

Change can be good

Moving your family, especially while your children are young, presents many challenges. But at the end of the day, a lot of good things can come from this kind of change. Your family often becomes even closer, and your kids grow more resilient. You are exposed to new places and adventures and learn how to support each other along the way.  So, communicate, organize, love each other, and enjoy the ride! (Or at least try to, if you can see over your luggage.) Cheers!

 

fullsizeoutput_658Christiana is a Navy wife and mother of 3, attorney and former realtor, world traveler, home renovator and decorator, yogi, fitness enthusiast, and recipe and fine wine explorer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why I love bats, and why you will too.

Call me crazy, but I find myself obsessing over bats. They are my favorite mammals, other than my cat, for several reasons.

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The best reason ever is that they can eat over 1200 Mosquitos an hour and can consume their body weight in insects every night! That’s right. Stupid, disease carrying, biting, poopy mosquitoes. BUHBYEEEEE

They are also great pollinators! So at night when they are flying around, they are pollinating your area so that the ecosytem can be maintained. Thank you fruit bats!

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Thirdly…they freaking ECHOLOCATE! Not all species of bats do. Fruit bats, for instance don’t echolocate at all. It is said that in a light rain, they can navigate through the raindrops(I don’t care if this is true or not), but if it is then they are basically superheroes. They are the only mammals whose front limb has adapted into a wing and are capable of true flight! And boy, are they awesome to watch at dusk dive-bombing to find all those dumb mosquitos. DIE MOSQUITOS…actually, don’t cause then the bats would leave.

Before you FREAK OUT and go all “count Dracula” horror movie about bats, yes I know they can be freaky looking. They sleep upside down for goodness sake! But take some time to consider that, yes while vampire bats do exists, they do not “suck blood”. They lap it up. Ok ok ok, calm down! I know that isn’t any better. But unless you’re in South America where some bats have been seen to be lapping up blood from a cow or goat here and there, you’re fine. (sorry South American cows)

Ok now that I’ve convinced you of their awesomeness, lets look at how to attract bats to your property.

Bat houses

Make the bats feel welcomed! Build a bat house using plywood or cedar. The rough surface will make it easier for bats to climb in and out of the house. Keep the roughest side of the wood to the inside of the house. Bat houses work best if they’re at least 2 feet tall, 1 foot wide, and 3 inches deep. Keep the temperature between 85-100 degrees F, as bats prefer a warmer climate. To ensure this, place the bat house in a location facing the sun for the afternoon hours.  NO TREES as they are more susceptible to predators in a tree as well as too much shade.  To give ample enough room for the bats to drop before they take flight, put your bat house at least 15 feet up in the air. An east or west facing chimney is an ideal place.

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Cool, right?

Food and Water

Now that you’ve invited them home, give them food and a water source. Bird baths work well as ponds. Planting night blooming flowers can attract nocturnal garden insects, which, in turn, attracts bats! Marigolds, Dahlias, and Thyme are all good plant examples!

Screw you wasps

Make sure you check your house regularly so that you are not just making a home for bees, wasps, or hornets. Also check your house for holes before you put up your bat house! Seal and fill them as best you can. Bats can fit into a hole the size of a quarter, and we want to prevent cohabitation! After all, this roommate stays up ALL NIGHT!

Rabies

Yes, bats can carry rabies. But you’re more likely to have an encounter with a nasty raccoon or skunk than a bat. After all, they are way better at avoiding you with their echolocation than you are with your human eyes and ears. Plus, the benefit way outweighs the risk in my opinion, knowing that less than 1% of the bat population actually carry rabies. 2014-wildlife-us

Ok, so have I convinced you yet? Bats…do it…you’ll thank me later when you can enjoy your back porch without the Zika virus. Plus look how cute they can be!

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