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Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Baby V #3? I Know You Are All Dying to Know...

Well April 17th we found out the news. Am I pregnant, or do we have another fertility cycle ahead of us?

The two week wait. It's brutal. It feels like the longest wait of your life when you are trying to conceive. I remember when we were trying to get pregnant the first time... every month for 1.5 years I dreaded the two week wait. The disappointment of negative tests got to me. It was so hard.

Fast forward to today, and the two week wait is hard, but not quite as hard. I don't have as much mental energy to just think about things, now that I have a toddler running around. That being said, that same toddler brings up the "new baby" all the time. So I also can't escape it!

When you are doing fertility treatments, it is a totally different two week wait. It is no fun to do fertility treatments. The injections, the constant appointments, and all the time and effort... you just want to see it pay off... and quite literally pay off because it is also expensive. No one wants to do multiple rounds of fertility treatments- whatever the kind.

With my particular protocol, there is HCG (the pregnancy hormone) in my system. HCG is used as a "trigger shot" (ovidrel) to release the mature follicle for intrauterine insemination.

So, if you take a pregnancy test too soon, it will show traces of the HCG in your system and give you a false positive. As a result, the fertility clinics recommend not doing any home pregnancy tests.

Well, that's not my style. I like data, and I love to test! I test pretty quickly after the IUI, knowing that the trigger shot is still in my system. I then test until the positive line fades away. Then, if I get another positive line, I know for sure it's a real positive and not the ovidrel in my system.

This time I did just that. 8 days post IUI, my trigger shot had successfully left my system and I was getting negative tests. Right around this time, however, I started getting pregnancy symptoms...

My sense of smell was off the charts, and I was nauseous. These were two telltale signs for me in my last two pregnancies. I started to think I might be pregnant!

The symptoms, however, only lasted for two days. Then they were completely gone. At that point, I realized it might have just been the presence of HCG causing me to have those symptoms.

Then there was my period. It wasn't coming.

For the last 8 months, I have started early spotting. Too much information, I know, but it's relevant! No spotting this month. Good sign. However.... they also had my on progesterone capsules. Progesterone capsules can delay your period.

I kept testing, and kept getting negatives. With Caroline and April, I was able to see positive home tests pretty early. I also started getting period like cramps. I definitely felt like I was not pregnant.

April 17th rolled around... this was the day my beta test was scheduled (pregnancy blood test). I woke up to my period starting. No need to test.

Baby V #3 has his/her own plans and did not want to be conceived in March as the rest of his/her siblings LOL!

I'm not surprised that it didn't work, and towards the end of my two week wait, I knew that I wasn't pregnant, so I didn't have the huge feeling of disappointment the day that I officially found out.

This last month was just crazy stressful with selling our house, buying a new one, moving into an apartment, etc. I'm not sure my stressed out body was ready to slow down and do it's magic in the month of March!

With fertility cycles, they start up immediately. On day 3 of my cycle (tomorrow), I go back in for blood work and an ultrasound to look at my antral follicles. I start clomid tomorrow if all looks good, and then we jump right back in for another round. Keep your fingers crossed for us that we don't have to do too many more of these cycles!


Today we have a guest post from Valerie at! She's writing all about the many ways to develop a strong literacy background for your children, and outlines many of the milestones you can expect.

Many of the early years on up through the time your child reads fluently, you may find yourself worrying if your child is meeting milestones correctly to be on track for being a great reader. Reading is an important life skill, and you want to ensure your child can develop that skill.

The good news is that there are simple things you can do to help your child meet literacy milestones. You don't need to be intense. You don't need to enroll in some super-elite preschool from the age of 2 weeks old (or ever). You just need to be present and interactive with your child, and barring a learning disability, these simple tasks will be enough for your child to be on par with literacy milestones. 

Simple Ways to Develop Literacy Milestones

1-Read Aloud to Your Child
The best way to help your child meet literacy milestones is to read to your child. Have reading each day be a normal part of your routine. 30 minutes is a great length to aim for. You can start reading to your child from birth, but for sure start by 6 months old. Read a variety of books, and change up types and levels as your child gets older. At the same time, however, read what your child loves. Reading the same book over and over (and over and over) again is actually beneficial toward building literacy skills, so go all in. 

March is a spectacular month for us. My birthday is in March, my husband's birthday is in March, our official anniversary (courthouse wedding) is in March, our white dress ceremony anniversary is in March, and both of our daughters were conceived in.... you guessed it... March!

While that statistic might not sound so surprising with all of the days to celebrate, our first daughter was conceived most likely with IUI on March 27th. No baby dancing involved. It's possible, and I like to think we conceived all on our own, but the reality after having tried for 1.5 years, is that the IUI most likely did the trick.

Well here it is March 2018, and we are once again doing fertility treatments. It's been quite the year of emotions.

In April of 2017, we found out we were pregnant with our second daughter. We had conceived naturally in March of 2017 with no fertility treatments and, as most of you know, we lost our sweet April in August of last year to trisomy 13.

Making the decision to start fertility treatments again was huge.

After April was born, I didn't get back on birth control pills. We decided that nature could take its course. After all, we do want another child. I knew I'd never feel ready, though. Having another child after losing one is not something that ever feels right.

I know I'll love the next child just as fiercely, but it's a hard step to take. Even the act of starting fertility treatments feels as though I'm moving on. Never will that be true. Never will I move on from loving April or the pain of losing her. Never. So while I know it's a feeling that is silly, it is one that is still very much present.

So, after a lot of thought and consideration, we started our second fertility journey. We had to undergo all of the testing again, since it had been longer than 3 years since our last fertility cycle at this center. My husband and I both did bloodwork, I did an HSG, and he had to do a semen analysis. Once we got the green light, we moved forward with fertility treatments the next month- March 2018. 

We chose to start fertility treatments when we did for a few reasons:

One, we hadn't been preventing, and it had been 6 months with no pregnancy. Not a huge deal, but when it's taken you 1.5 years in the past and you've needed fertility help, the timeline starts to really show itself.

Two, Caroline is 3.5, and we'd really like her to have a living sibling sooner than later. She's at that age that is just perfect for appreciating the baby phase, and she's really looking forward to having someone to play with.

Three, my husband is INSANELY busy from May-October. Fertility treatments during that time would be crazy hard for me to do, since I can't take Caroline along to the appointments.

We have always been identified as "unexplained infertility". They can never find anything wrong. This time they found a slight decrease in morphology in the semen analysis, but it was nothing alarming.

So, the plan for our fertility treatments was the same as it was back in 2014:

Clomid, hormone injections to help mature follicles (Bravelle), a trigger shot (Ovidrel), and an IUI (intrauterine insemination).

As luck would have it, my day 1 fell on the same day that I had my initial consultation with the fertility clinic. That meant I'd be getting started with our testing just 2 days later, and our first cycle just one month later.

We got going fast. It was great, because quite honestly my emotions were a mess. I couldn't even walk into the clinic without getting all emotional. I was having a hard time, so moving fast was just what I needed. We also had some other big life changes happening, so that helped in that I wasn't entirely even able to focus on fertility treatments. I think that was such a great thing for me mentally to just be focused on other things.

The injections this time around were easy-peasy! Now that I've done fertility injections in the past, and I've done daily injections for antiphospholipid syndrome (when I was pregnant with April), I was able to handle them with ease!

When I went in for my antral follicle count, all looked great! 22 on one side, and 19 on the other. Fabulous news!

When I went in to see the size of my mature follicle, the doctor mentioned we were hoping for something the size of 20-22mm. My follicle was 32mm! WOOHOO! Nice and big! And, I only had one. Perfect.

They called that evening to tell me, that based on my blood work, I was already starting to ovulate. As a result, I'd be doing the trigger shot that night, and my IUI would be scheduled for the next day. March 31st.


When they took me back for the IUI, they told me about my husband's sample... they have a checklist of things they look for when they wash the sperm sample and prepare it for the procedure. His numbers far surpassed their goals and they were thrilled with how everything looked. YAY!

I have a good feeling about this fertility cycle. It only took us one full cycle to get pregnant with Caroline. The fact that this IUI hapened on March 31, seems to be too perfect. What are the odds that all 3 of our children will be conceived in March!? I am hopeful. We find out soon...


I've had this post in my mind since the moment we left Hopkins without our beautiful girl. The words just didn't come to me for quite some time. In the sadness and heartache of losing April, there were some amazing people that made the birthing experience as wonderful as it could be (considering the circumstances).

These are names and faces that we will never forget. I want all of them to know how special they are to us and how incredible they made our horrifying moments at Hopkins. An odd sentence, I know... but it's true.

It started when we first entered the doors of the The Johns Hopkins Fetal Therapy Group. Why were we there? We were there because they are the best of the best. We knew we'd gain valuable information about our daughter's condition. And-none of the hospitals that I would normally give birth at in my local area, were willing to do an early induction. We had to go to a research hospital...either Hopkins or the University of Maryland. We chose Hopkins since we'd been out that way before.

Not once, from the moment we stepped foot through the doors, was any judgement passed on us. Not once did anyone question our choice. There were only friendly faces, supportive voices, and people giving us as much scientific information as we desired. We fully appreciated all of that.

At the Fetal Therapy Center, we met with two specialists. I'd know their names if I looked them up. They walked us through the science. They did ultrasounds, and they talked through April's life expectancy (or lack there of) with us. They flooded us with as much information as we asked for and were patient with us as we asked questions.

The people that really touched our lives, however, we'd meet shortly after. We met with the genetic counselor at the Fetal Therapy group. Her name is Katie. She listened to all of our wishes and desires, and she helped make them happen. She made sure that our requests were honored- that med students would get to learn through performing an autopsy on April, that her tissues would be sent to the University of MD Blood and Tissue bank for research, and that her remains would be sent to the State Anatomy Board. Katie was a constant source of support. She was checking in up to April's birth, and after.

Katie introduced us to Kat (Neonatal ICU Chaplain & Perinatal Palliative Care Support). Kat introduced us to Cora (Child Life Specialist). Together, these two amazing women walked us through this insanely difficult process. Cora met with us and heard our concerns about the grief our older daughter, Caroline, was experiencing. Kat helped us prepare for every scenario with creating a birth plan and sending examples. Together, they made sure to honor April in such amazing ways. 

Not only did Kat and Cora take the time to make us special keepsakes (hand and foot molds, and prints on canvas), they made sure that our plan was followed through with. They made sure the photographer was kept up to speed. They made sure that everything was coordinated perfectly, so that we had no worries, other than saying hello and goodbye to our daughter.

They came to the hospital once they'd been informed of April's birth- they were there at the drop of a hat- in the middle of the night. They have sent cards. They have checked in. They have talked to us so many times after April's birth, and checked in so many times to just see how we are doing. They've sent holiday cards. They always know just what to say. They've been incredible. 

Then there were the nurses. I have no words. I can't tell you the name of the doctor that rushed in for April's birth, but I can tell you the names of our 3 wonderful nurses... 

Our first nurse was Garrett. The induction process was insanely painful. They were starting labor and starting it fast. I was not allowed to sit up. I had to stay lying down on my back which did not allow me to release the tense muscles in my body. As the contractions worsened, the pain was unreal. 
It was unlike anything I'd experienced with Caroline's birth. I doubted myself. The monitor wasn't showing much going on, so I didn't think I should be in so much pain. 

Garrett adjusted the monitor to account for my smaller uterus at just 19.5 weeks- there were the contractions. He reassured me that the monitor didn't matter, however- I was clearly in pain and it was ok to get help with the pain. 

Garrett told me the fabulous news that I could have an epidural sooner than we'd originally thought. I'm sure he made some calls to get anesthesiology there as quickly as possible based on my pain level. He was a god send in that moment. I was in so much pain, my entire body was shaking. 

Then his shift ended. I was sad to see Garrett leave. Before leaving, he brought us a bracelet that read April Rey. On his break, he'd strung the beads together. What a beautiful gift and such a thoughtful person. 

Taylor then arrived (as our second nurse) on the night shift. We saw her once before she got pulled into an emergency. She was not able to be there for April's birth. Before she left that night, however, she came back into our room. She apologized for not being there for us. She told us how amazing she thought our birth plan was and our actions for honoring April Rey. Her words touched us so much. The thoughtfulness to come back and see us one last time was unreal. She could have left and gone home and not bothered. But she made it a point to come in and say such kind words.

Carolyn is the nurse that delivered sweet April Rey. Carolyn is the nurse that held the bedpan for me COUNTLESS times and cleaned up my birthing process messes.  Carolyn is the one that took care of me for the hard parts. She was the one to listen to April's heart and her first breath. She was also the one to tell us when April had died. She was the one to take April away when we were ready. And she was the one to selflessly leave her stethoscope, the very device that heard April's heartbeat, in sweet April Rey's keepsake box. 

And I'd be silly not to mention that our room was outfitted with keepsake boxes, angel outfits and more. I have no idea who put the items there, but we'll cherish them forever.

Carolyn was the one that saw my first tears (long after everyone had left the room and April was gone). She was the one that held my hand as I walked back to the bed that I'd last held April. She was the one to see me gasping for air as I couldn't stand to realize our sweet April was really gone. 

These amazing nurses all had such kind words for us. They all took care of me at my weakest- my most vulnerable. They all did spectacular jobs. But more importantly, they touched our lives and our hearts forever. They even took the time to send a card and reach out.

These people that I've mentioned above, took a horrible situation and gave light to it. They are the best examples of truly wonderful, amazing, genuine, thoughtful, and kind people. My husband and I will be forever grateful that our experience at Hopkins was and continues to be so amazing.

In a few days, we'll be attending a tribute service at the children's center at Hopkins. Again, just the amount of thought everyone has put into everything blows us away. We are so honored that they've thought to include April in the tribute service. It is going to be so hard to go back, but it feels so good to be a part of the Hopkins family. They truly are taking care of us in the best ways.

Thank you SO much to all of you that have made this experience as good as it could have been.


5:30 am rolled around.

"Mama? Can I come in your room?"


"What have I done?", I wonder to myself... Gone are the days that my toddler stays in her room until 7 am, when her clock turns yellow. But the reality is this is just a phase. She'll be back to sleeping until 7 am in no time.

She enters my room, and climbs on my bed.

"I love you, Mama."

"I love you, too."

We snuggle up. Daddy has already left for the day, and the three of us (Caroline, Mama, and our dog, Moose) all enjoy the king size bed together. It's wonderful. Not perfect. I'd rather be sleeping until 7. I'd rather my husband be in bed with us. But it's close to perfect when I see those beautiful brown eyes looking back at me. It's close to perfect when she snuggles her cute little butt into me, and touches my face with her soft tiny hands.

I try to enforce quiet time. But we end up chatting. She asks some of her best, most inquisitive questions in the early morning and late evening hours. So, I indulge her. Lately, it's been all about babies. "Why can't boys have babies?", "How does the egg and sperm grow into a baby?" She asks some fabulous questions.

This post was originally published at Wiley Adventures, in February 2018.

Parenting. The art of figuring out little human minds, teaching, helping and shaping the person inside. Far from a simple task.

In the preschool years, there is a lot of learning that needs to be done as our children open their eyes wider to the world around them. Our babies are becoming more independent by the hour, and they test the waters. Some days they seem far more grown up than they should be, and others they seem to revert to their baby-like behaviors. Providing structure and discipline during these years is essential, but can also be quite the challenge!

There is a very big difference between a child that is acting childish and doing something foolish, versus one that is being defiant. And, the consequence needs to fit the crime. I find this topic to be so fascinating, because the reality is I see my daughter oscillating between these lands and it's often hard to figure out which land she's visiting at any given time: "The land of Childish Mistakes", or the "Land of Defiant Misdeeds". (Preschoolwise, pg 156)

So, let's look at these two lands as described in the Preschoolwise book:

Childishness: "Innocent immaturity". (pg 157) These are all of the accidental mistakes that our children make- they spill a glass of water, they run so fast out at the playground that they bump into someone, or they pick flowers from the neighbor's yard. These are all completely innocent, and accidental mistakes. The child has no idea that they are only supposed to pick flowers that were not purposefully planted by someone else. When a child "does something without knowing it was wrong", this is considered to be childishness, and not defiance. (pg 157)

Defiance: "Implies bad motives". (pg 157) When a child knows that something is wrong, but chooses to do it anyway, it is considered defiance. I love how it is described in the Preschoolwise book.

"Childishness is usually a head problem- a lack of knowledge. Defiance is usually a heart problem- the child does not want to do the right thing." (pg 157)

Both childishness and defiance need to be corrected, but the correction or consequence will differ greatly depending on if the child was being childish or defiant.

In the Preschoolwise book, Ezzo talks about the four laws of correction. These 4 laws will help you to administer correction that is fair and effective.

Law 1: Distinguish Between Childishness and Defiance
I tend to hold my daughter to super high standards. She's smart. So very smart, and very mature. So when she does something she shouldn't do, I have to really think hard about her intentions. She's pretty rarely just childish. So rare, that when it happens, I sometimes don't catch it. I have to make sure I catch those moments and address the action accordingly.

Conversely, many parents assume their children must not know better. Think again. Don't always give your child a free pass for being childish, simply because of their age. Give them the credit they deserve and think about how often you've told them not to do something. If you've said it before, they are being defiant, not childish. Children have excellent little memories.

Law 2: All Correction Must Promote Learning
There are two quotes that I just love in this section of the book:

"Correction requires explanation. Without the why of wrong there is no correction, just a random redirection of behavior." (pg 159)

"Children learn by gaining knowledge." (pg 159)

I love these quotes so much. When parents simply say "because I said so" as an answer to a question, it isn't doing much good. Yes, I get that we want our children to listen to us without demanding an explanation for our request. I get that parents want that respect. But, I'd argue that children are in this wonderful part of their lives where they want to LEARN.

We need to take full advantage of that. Let's not view the "why" as questioning our authority. Let's view it as a legit question and search for knowledge. And let's take on the responsibility to teach our children. Whether the act was childish or defiant, the child needs to learn from their behaviors.

Sometimes natural consequences answer the why. Sometimes it's taking the time to provide a simple explanation. "Consider the behavioral explanation you give today to be a deposit on tomorrow's behavior." (pg 160)

Law 3: Make Any Punishment Fit the Crime
Not all actions should be corrected with the same consequence. Some things to consider:

- The age of the child (a 3 year old should be given a different consequence than that of a 4th grader)

- The frequency of the offense (The first offense should be treated far differently than the tenth)

- The context of the moment (Was your child just following the social norm, or was your child leading the group- never is this an excuse, but just something to take into consideration. A child may know not to do something, but if everyone else in the room is doing it, they might be confused if they are 3 and just figuring out their worlds).

- The overall characterization of behavior (Is this the only behavior, or is it part of a larger pattern of behavior that needs addressing? Is it a symptom of a bigger problem?)

- The need for balance (Too harsh a punishment will cause a power struggle and lead to little learning, but too lenient will fall short of correction). Find what works for your family and be consistent.

Law 4: An Offense Against a Person or Property Requires and Apology
In our house, we require apologies. I know this is not the norm of today, but we have found that this is something we want to require of our children. Just as we require please and thank you to be said, we require apologies. Not only an "I'm sorry", but an "I'm sorry for ___". When our daughter was 2 we'd help her in this process. We'd identify the behavior she'd need to apologize for. Then we started asking if she could identify it. Now, at 3, she does it all on her own without any prompting.

The Preschoolwise book also suggests asking for forgiveness, and I have to say I really love this idea. Requiring a "deeper commitment, that of seeking forgiveness". (pg 163) Ezzo even mentions to try this with your marriage. The next time you have an argument with your spouse, seek forgiveness instead of just saying I'm sorry. "Will you forgive me for ___?" Seems like quite the world changer to me!

This chapter has SO many wonderful things to take into consideration. I'd highly recommend taking a look at the Preschoolwise book. Not only does it expand on these sections above, it then goes into some specific correction methods. These books are just packed full of useful information, far beyond that of just schedules and sleep. 


Other Posts of Interest

Behaviors I "Go to the Mat" For- 4 Behaviors You Shouldn't Ignore

Knowing and Teaching the Final Desired Expectation
6 Methods of Correction- Toddlerwise

4 Things You Need to Know about Disciplining Toddlers

I don't remember when I actually wrote this post- but I never published it. It got lost in the shuffle of posts, and today I found it. Today I had a good read looking back at a frustrating moment in my life. 

We are in mom mode all of the time as stay at home moms. While this post to me now seems somewhat negative as I read it, I know that I was in one of those hard moments. One of those moments where things just kept piling on. 

I love that I have an outlet and a way to talk through my feelings on this blog. I love that I can share these frustrating moments, knowing that there are so many moms that totally understand and get this. Thank goodness I love my job as a mom- otherwise the tough times would be so hard to navigate!

Have you experienced things like this? I know you have...

I just spent 38 minutes on the phone with my insurance company. 38 minutes because I submitted a claim to them (twice) and was denied- twice. The first time I hadn't submitted the correct info- my bad. The second time, I did and they are claiming I didn't. On the insanely long phone call they finally got around to telling me (more like figured out on their end) that I'm supposed to submit the claim to a different department than the claim form indicates. Even though it's a prescription, I'm supposed to submit it as a medical claim, not a prescription drug claim... um, ok. Now I have to submit the claim a 3rd time. At least this time I get to use an online system instead of snail mail (as I had to do twice for the prescription drug claim). Who wants to bet that the medical claim comes back saying I need to submit it as a prescription drug claim!? All of this to get reimbursed $49. At the end of the day, my time just doesn't seem worth it. I've spent who knows how long submitting claims, plus the long phone call today. 

My pre-mom self judged. I judged my own mom for staying home and not working when we were in school. I didn't understand what she did all day. Until now. I didn't understand that there is sooooo much random crap that has to be taken care of, and that a simple phone call to an insurance company can last FOREVER and still not be resolved. I never understood that even when your children are in school, there's just a ton of things to get taken care of.

I did, however, understand that taking care of a baby or a toddler was a full time job. I mean people pay good money to send their kids to daycare, and that number is high for a reason. Toddlers and babies are hard to care for and require a ton of energy. While I never envisioned myself as a stay at home mom, the minute I was pregnant, my husband and I knew that we wanted to take that path instead of daycare. I knew it was going to be tough, but obviously you just don't know until you do it.

No one is there to give you a heads up that there aren't relaxing moments. Other people see that we go to the pool, and do fun things a lot. Yes we do. But none of it is relaxing. Gone are the days that I can put my headphones in, lay out in the sun, close my eyes, and take a dip in the pool when I feel like it. There is nothing relaxing about going to a pool now! I have to be in the water the entire time (because what toddler wants to sit on the sidelines)?! I have to worry about water safety and be aware at all times.

I can't get lost on my phone reading something while we are at the playground... I have to make sure my daughter is safe, making good choices, treating others nicely, and not falling off of the play set. Odds are, if you see me on my phone, I'm texting myself something that I don't want to forget, or I'm adding something to our grocery list, etc. It's something that needs to be done, not something that's fun.

I'm also not getting to chat with other moms while at playdates. I see that a lot of moms get to do this, and I admit I'm a bit envious at times. My daughter, however, wants to play with me. And, while sometimes it would be nice to have a break, I also want to play with her. I also want to be there in teachable moments. Toddlers haven't the slightest idea how to interact with other children. They think it's ok to take things from others, push, etc. They need to be taught and they are still learning. So, whether my daughter is the one pushing or the one being pushed, I want to be there to help- to teach.

So, while it might look like stay at home moms have a lot of time to relax, and get to have all of the fun, really we are on the go at all times and always in our "mom mode". Mom mode is my job. I wouldn't go to work as a teacher and not be in teacher mode, so I certainly can't work as a stay at home mom and not be in mom mode. The difference is that we don't get to go home. We don't get to leave work. There's no break in our day. Occasionally, I utilize nap time to just do nothing and take a breath, but it's rare. Because, if I don't use it to get things done, things pile up! I have more to do now, and more things that I'd like to get done and accomplish than I ever did as an engineer or a teacher.

I would give anything for a phone call to the insurance company to take only 5 minutes, or to not have to make the phone call at all! LOL!

Oh and don't forget about "toddler time". It's like we are moving at a snails pace all day. When your toddler wants to put on their own shoes, it is both refreshing (that you don't have to do it), and suddenly the most irritating thing that's happened that day (since it takes forever). But you stay in mom mode and stay patient, calm, and supportive- because gosh darn it, you want your toddler to put their own shoes on!

Don't get me wrong, being a stay at home mom is the best thing I've ever done with my life. I love it. There are moments that I want a day off, and there are lots of tantrums, poop, and whining. But there's also laughter, love and learning. I am more of a teacher now than I ever was teaching high school chemistry. I am a teacher all day every day, all night, all the time. I have phases (like right now) that are tough and frustrating and I wish so desperately I could get a break, but at the end of the day I wouldn't trade this life for the world.


Happy Spring! The BFBN Mamas are all writing on the topic of cleaning today. See a full list of posts below.

From a very young age, we taught our daughter to clean up. Even when she was a baby, we involved her in the clean up process. When we were finished reading, or finished playing with something, we would clean up before getting something else out. Why did we do this?

Well there's a lot of stuff that we accumulate once we have kids. There are a lot of toys. A lot of books. A lot of puzzles. A lot of things that have a lot of parts and need to be kept together. I fully intend to sell or give away our toys when we are done with them. I want them to be complete with all of their parts. And, even while the toys and books and puzzles are in our house, I want them to be complete so we can enjoy them to their fullest.

I also enjoy being able to find things. Our kids enjoy being able to find things when they want them. Cleaning up after ourselves, and having a place for things that makes sense, is how we will be able to keep track of everything. If the doctor kit is spread out in multiple bins, well - we'll never again find the stethoscope when we want it!

So, for those reasons, we clean up and clean up often. But, we don't clean up FOR our daughter.

When Caroline was a baby, I talked out loud. All the time. I narrated what I was doing (mostly for my sanity)- even the clean up process. When I was cleaning up, I'd talk about how I was putting the toys back into the bin, or stacking the puzzles. I didn't do it with any goal in mind, but (looking back) I know it helped in our journey of teaching Caroline to clean up.

When she was old enough to grab things, she was old enough to help. We'd clean up together, and I'd show her where to put things. I would place a bin right in front of her so she could easily participate.

When she was old enough to move around, I'd involve her with figuring out WHERE things went. By this time, she easily knew where all of her toys and books went, so we'd make fun games out of finding the right bin. I'd pretend to not know, and she'd fix my mistake. We'd laugh and have fun with it.

When she was old enough for independent playtime, in her room, all alone... she was old enough to clean up her own mess. I'd still come help out a bit, but I expected her to do most of the cleaning up, since she'd made the mess.

Now, she's almost 3.5, and it's second nature to her. I can ask her to clean up, and she goes around and puts every little thing away, in the right location. She enjoys cleaning up and keeping her things organized. She's not known any different. We have always had the expectation to clean up.

There are exceptions to every rule...

1. We let her keep some things out now. She has to ask, and ask nicely. We allow this, because as she gets older, she has grand ideas. She has things all set up just how she wants them, and it's devastating in her little world if we have to ruin her creation. We get that! We want her to continue to be creative and imaginative. We appreciate those things. So, at times, we allow her to keep her toys out. The answer isn't always yes, but we try to understand where she's coming from and allow her this freedom at times. For now, we pretty much always still clean up before bedtime.

2. We help her. We don't clean up FOR her. And we don't always help her. But we do help on a regular basis. We do this because we are a team. We are a family. Yes, it is her responsibility, and there are times that we can't help and we expect her to do it all on her own. But, when we can, we help. We want her to see this as an example to help others. We don't have to help, but we do out of kindness. She, in turn, is starting to do the same around the house for us. I love this!


Other Posts of Interest

Chore Ideas for 2 Year Olds

Teaching Responsibility- Involving Your Toddler in Household Tasks

If you'd like to read more posts from the BFBN mamas today, we are all writing on the topic of cleaning:

EmilyHow To Encourage Your Children to Help with Household Chores 

Christine: How To Have A Clean Home When You Have Small Children

ValerieEasy Cleaning Schedule Options for Busy Moms

CaitlinHow to Keep Your House Clean in Ten Minutes a Day

Kimberly: How a Block Schedule Will Make You a Better Mom

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

A quick update today on how Caroline's swim classes are going, and then an interview with Mr. Josh!

Swim lessons went SO smoothly for us for months! We started with British Swim School back in June of 2017. Caroline started with the Tadpole level, and quickly moved up completing a level each month. She entered the Seahorse level in August, and did fantastic over the next several months.

Caroline loved the water, loved her class, listened well, and always tried her best. She was sailing through things, and having a fantastic time. There were no tears, and only a few fears. She was hesitant to go underwater at first, but still did it even though she expressed she didn't like it.

Fast forward to February of 2018, and things changed drastically. All of the sudden (for several weeks now), she is refusing to go underwater, and refusing to try her float. She is the one screaming and crying in the pool. She refuses to try things, screams through everything, and then wants to have fun during the play time at the end of the lesson. She loves the water and still enjoys the playtime. As a result, last week she didn't end up getting that fun play time because of her behavior.

This week, she had a great day. She started off a bit rocky with some tears and not listening to instructions, but she pulled herself together and really did her best. She even went underwater twice. I am so glad to see a week of focus like this!

What happened? Well here's my best guess. Sometimes with children it's something so small and we don't even realize it has impacted them in such a way. My best guess, is that the combination of these things has caused this shift:

- Change in instructor

- Change in location

- Change in time (now a super early 8 am class)

- Higher expectations (since she's very close to being able to float on her own, the instructors are removing one hand at a time, and then both hands to see how long she can go on her own). I know she does not like this as she is very frightened to do it by herself. I think she's now terrified knowing that the instructors will sometimes let go of her.

It may just be one of the above changes, or perhaps all of them. I don't know. What I do know, is that swim class has become a struggle. It's a struggle to get her to try her best. It's a struggle to get her to listen to her instructor. It's a struggle to deal with all of the screams and crying. It's hard.

We're powering through. I've seen our daughter go through phases like this with other things, and she usually snaps out of it pretty quickly. But in the meantime, the wait is hard. We are trying to get her to talk to us about her feelings. We are trying to ease her fears. All while keeping our expectations and staying consistent. Nothing is improving the situation yet, but I know she'll get there at some point.

It's so hard to see her go through this. I so want to make it better for her somehow. In addition to that it is so hard to be the mom having to deal with this. It's hard to be the one with the screaming child all of the sudden at every single class we go to. It is a phase, I know. But it is definitely a hard phase.

Through everything, Caroline's instructor, Ms. Kimmie has been phenomenal. She tries to motivate her to move through her fears, and she tries to keep her happy in the water by singing songs, and being silly. Caroline doesn't always respond to it in the way we'd hope, but Ms. Kimmie keeps trying hard with her. We'd started a reward system to focus on positive behavior, and Ms. Kimmie even jumped on board with it and brought her some peanut m&ms to keep her focused on an end prize! The things that the wonderful BSS instructors do, are simply amazing!

Interview with Josh

What positions have you held at BSS and how long have you been with BSS?
I started with BSS in 2010 as a Swim Instructor. Over the next 5 years, I wore many hats for BSS such as Site Manager and Aquatic Manager.

How did you learn how to swim? 
Took lessons as a child but learned stroke mechanics when I became a swim instructor.

Why did you initially choose to be a swim instructor? 
I love the water and children.

What is the deck ambassador position and why is it so important? 
Deck Ambassador is the first visual impression for our families when they join our program. A great 1st impression is a key to a customer continuing with our program. Also, our DA’s are the communication bridge between the office and our classes and vital to building relationships with tour families.

In your new position overseeing the deck ambassadors, what are your goals for the future of BSS?
My goals are a vast improvement in our customer service and enrollment to reach 5000 students!

What inspired you to return to BSS? 
My 7-month old daughter, Nora.

What makes BSS special compared to other swim programs? 
The method of safety first. A lot of programs try to teach swimming right away and do not give the aquatic education we provide.

What is the best part of your job? 
The families and children.

What is the most rewarding part of your job
Seeing the joy on a child’s face when they achieve a new skill/level.

Do you have advice for parents who are hesitant to put their kids in swim lessons? 
Begin as early as possible. Children are tougher than you think.

Why would you recommend BSS over another swim program? 
Because of the family-oriented vibe and the special ways we capture child notable memories.

Fun facts: Tell us more about you! 
My wife and I have a 7-month-old daughter, love to watch football and basketball and cannot snap my fingers.


Enrollment Special 20% off

If you live in Montgomery County or Frederick County, Maryland, and are interested in signing up with BSS, I am really excited to announce that you can receive 

Other Posts of Interest:

British Swim School- Tadpole class (level 1)

British Swim School- Swimboree  (level 2)

British Swim School- Seahorse (level 3)