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Caroline is officially 2.5 years old as of last week! She is just blossoming and it has been such a joy to be a part of. Her kindness and thoughtfulness are really shining right now, and her stubbornness is as fierce as ever. She has an amazing imagination, and has so many thoughts that she luckily puts into words for us! She's excited to be a big sister, and also a little worried about it. She's got a new favorite song (Body Like a Backroad by Sam Hunt), and is interested in knowing the names of every song that comes on the radio, along with who sings it. She's excellent at narrating life as it happens, and is always curious to know other children's names. She's using her pronouns perfectly now, and she's starting to distinguish boys and girls much easier (I'd really never realized how challenging this would be to teach!). She thinks every woman is a mom, and every man is a dad. She's interested in learning how to read, and still loves to explore outdoors as much as possible. She's super social, yet shy at times as well.

Nothing has changed since our last update. She can handle taking later naps, yet still falls asleep very easily around 12:30. She goes through small phases where she takes awhile to fall asleep for both her nap and bedtime, but then (just as I'm worried she might try to drop the nap), she comes around again and starts falling asleep easily.

7:15 am wake and drink milk
8:30 am breakfast
12 pm lunch
12:30-3:30 pm nap (I no longer wake her), milk when she wakes
5:30/6 pm dinner
6:50 pm bed


Today is Babywise Friendly Blog Network Day and I'm pleased to announce that we are all writing on the topic of Independent Playtime! We have an amazing variety of topics to share with you today, from the benefits of independent play, to the how-to's of it and more! Please see the bottom of the post for a full list of titles and links to these amazing posts.

In this post you'll find why I've been inconsistent along with some of our struggles, you'll get a look at our schedule, 3 options for incorporating independent play, and our goals in preparation for Baby V #2.

So much about Babywise- I'm good at. And by good I mean I figure it out, I find what works for us, and I am consistent with it. When it comes to room time (independent playtime), I figure it out, I find what works for us, but then I'm NOT at all consistent.

I feel like there is not enough time in our days for me to be consistent with this, and I honestly like to go out and do things so much more than I like to stay home (as does Caroline). As a result, independent playtime gets cut. Unfortunately, this is not an area to skimp on. I've noticed that when Caroline isn't getting her independent playtime, she becomes much more clingy and whiny, and well generally less independent.

Now, the reality is that, while I don't always have a routine of doing formal independent play, we've established a casual independence that has come over time. We've done formal independent playtime, and it worked great. Then Caroline would go through a rough patch and I didn't have the heart to let her cry for me in her room, so we'd take a break. I always wanted to keep it a positive experience, so if it wasn't working for a season, we stopped. This is how my inconsistencies with it evolved. I am a huge fan of independent playtime, but it didn't work at every age for us. The breaks caused me to be lax about it, and as a result, we've become much more casual with it.

Let me just set the scene here: I went to see a cardiologist today and I had to bring my 2.5 year old with me. This was an appointment with a specialist, so not exactly a quick in and out. We were there for almost 1.5 hours. Caroline was not on her best behavior ever, but she still did pretty darn good for a 2.5 year old. That being said, I was just taking it all in trying not to laugh out loud.

We walk in, and of course, there are lots of people over 60 in the waiting room- I mean it's to be expected at the cardiologist. Caroline was the only child, and I was the only one there (other than the staff) that was younger than 60. This was not the average waiting room that we usually end up in.

I was greeted by sooooooo many smiles. These were grandmas and grandpas sitting around reminiscing and loving the sight of little Caroline. She was her usual chatterbox, but I let her talk away because I could see how much these wonderful men and women were enjoying the scene. To them, this was not an annoying child that was bothersome; to them this was memories and life sitting in front of them. It was beautiful and refreshing to be a part of.

Ok so this is far from my normal type of post, but I feel like this needs to be said. I belong to a few groups online on Facebook that are comprised 100% of women. They are moms groups. In these groups, we mostly bounce parenting ideas off of one another, but the occasional post about other off topic items comes up as well- sex being one of them. Usually it's about how horrific sex feels after having a baby, and women are wanting to know what on earth to do and how to get past the pain, and if it will ever go away (yes by the way it does).

But then there are these posts about women wondering how other women get out of having sex with their husbands. Sometimes they are joking, sometimes not, but in general these comments are frustrating to me and I don't understand them. This isn't the 1950's where women pretend to not like sex. So, why are we still acting like sex is something we need to "get out of". Why on earth would women be faking headaches instead of just being honest with their partner that they aren't in the mood?

I am 8 weeks, 5 days today and the baby is the size of a raspberry! Last week we told Caroline that the baby was the size of a blueberry, and she's been asking when it would be the size of a raspberry. I love that she is having fun with the fruit visuals LOL!

I am finally over my nasty cold that seemed to plague me for a couple of weeks. I now just have a cough (probably due to allergies since I can SEE the yellow pollen dust on everything around here). Unfortunately, I am still super nauseous, and every time I have a coughing fit, it leads to me gagging and many times throwing up. I am hoping the cough and nausea subside soon.

In addition to feeling nauseous, I am really fatigued and simply lacking energy right now. I am very much keeping my eye on the second trimester arriving so I can hopefully start to feel better!

I am also STARVING! I can't keep enough food in the house, and I am waking up in the middle of the night because I am so dang hungry. Amazing how a baby the size of a raspberry can cause my hunger to sky rocket. I am not able to eat much in one sitting, and am having to eat about every 1-2 hours at a minimum. I finally got myself to the grocery store to stock up on snack items.

I succeeded for over 2 years in only allowing my daughter to snack on occasion... we are not a snacking household. That is SO out the window now! She's loving my new found love of snacks!

When I asked Caroline about her feelings, and if she had any worries about the baby in Mama's belly, my 2.5 year old was able to clearly identify and express her feelings to me about the situation. Not only that, without prompting, she told me all of the ways she'd address the issues when the baby arrived. You can read all about her feelings here.

I'd asked her because she seemed to be crying and whining and pretending to be "baby" a lot more than usual lately. She'd been refusing to listen or try things on her own. And the last two weeks, since I told her about the baby, have been a spiral of negativity around here. More and more acting out, more disciplining the way I don't want to, more and more we were both upset, and we were far from our usual emotional states.

I then realized something- I had asked my 2.5 year old how she felt about the baby growing in Mama's belly, but I failed to ask myself.

4 Reasons to Announce Your Pregnancy Immediately

I am 8 weeks pregnant, and I know there are lots of people wondering why on earth I jumped the gun and announced when I was so early in my pregnancy. Well, I have 4 reasons that I chose to announce early, and I decided to share them in my post at Her View From Home, today!

"The trend is to wait. We wait until the first trimester is finished and we are in the clear from most medical risks and any uncertainty in the pregnancy. It’s the social norm. And I find it to be ridiculous for a few simple reasons!

Today is a very special day! Kimberly over at Team Cartwright has teamed up with me for a topic day. We have a common issue in our houses... toddlers that don't want to do things independently, or try new things. The interesting part, however, is that our toddlers do this in very different ways! As a result, we deal with it in different ways as well. Hop on over to Team Cartwright to see her post on encouraging independence in a reluctant child.  And, of course, you can read my post on what to do when your toddler refuses to do or try things, right here! Enjoy, and please chime in with your tactics as well! We'd love to hear from you in the comments of both of our blogs!

There are two types of toddlers in this world. The kind that like to do everything themselves, and the kind that avoid doing things on their own, if at all possible. Both types can be extremely frustrating to parents, in their own unique ways. The toddler that wants independence seems to move at a snails pace, and it takes forever to do things. The simple act of getting in the car can either feel like it's taking an hour, or, if expedited by Mama, can turn into a fit of tears. And, of course, the toddler that hates to do things on their own, means that Mama gets stuck doing it all. There are times it is just not feasible, especially when you have other children that actually need the help.

We all have the same ultimate goal, however. We want to teach our toddlers how to do things and gain their independence in safe ways. We all want and strive for balance. Ideally, we help our toddlers on occasion, and they help themselves on occasion. Unfortunately, the toddler's world and way of doing things isn't always balanced!

My daughter is the independent type that loves to do things on her own. There's a stipulation, however... she has to decide that it's something she wants to do, and she has to feel comfortable doing it. She seems to only do things that she already knows she can do, and is stuck somewhere in the middle with not wanting to try new things, unless it's her idea. For the most part, however, she's the toddler that wants to do things on her own. She wants to climb into the car all by herself, get into the car seat, and do the buckle.

Her refusal to do things comes out in a couple of ways:

Yesterday I wrote about some behavioral problems that have been getting worse over the last couple of weeks. They seem to really be magnified right now, and I am feeling at a loss as to what else to try with Caroline. Read all about the issues we are encountering, and my current tactics in this 2.5 Year Behavioral Regression post.

As I was writing the post, I realized that approximately 2 weeks ago was when we told Caroline that Mama was pregnant and she was going to become a big sister. I noted in the post that she'd been pretending to be a baby a lot more lately, and doing lots of crying and whining. While, I thought it was highly unlikely that it would be happening now, I know that many older siblings regress a bit when the new baby arrives. It is common for the older sibling to mimic the crying and whining that they see the baby do, and to really act out in an attempt to gain the attention back towards them. Our baby has not arrived yet and is simply an idea in Caroline's mind... so I figured there was no way she was having this regression now. Well... I dug a little deeper, and made some discoveries.

We also came to a closure yesterday on the silverware issue, so I figured I'd give an update on that as well (video included as well)!

About the Baby

Caroline had gone to bed already, and then asked to get up and go potty. We have some of our best conversations while on the potty, so as she was sitting on the potty, I decided to inquire... "Caroline, are you worried about the baby?". She put her head down, sighed, and said "I am worried, Mama". So, I asked why she was worried. A flood of information came out of my little 2.5 year old. I was both shocked and amazed.

I need some insight. This probably isn't a typical blog post that you run into. Usually blog posts are all about the answers. Well, in this blog post I'm asking questions, and I need your insight. I need some outside perspective on this issue. I like to think through things by writing them down, and I often write about our daughter's "regressions" as they are happening. This is one such regression, and I really want to know what tactics you'd be using if this was happening in your house. I would describe my 2.5 year old as very obedient, a good listener, and just well behaved. We've put a lot of upfront work in with praising good behavior, setting expectations high, and staying consistent and I think it's really paid off. For the last couple of weeks something has changed and she's really testing boundaries. I'll focus on one specific example, but it's happening quite a bit. I'd like to hear your tactics for dealing with the scenario below, as I feel like I've tried everything from choices to discipline and everything in between, and we just aren't getting anywhere. I'm now to the point that I'm actually getting upset, and I hate feeling upset with my 2 year old. I'm feeling upset because it is happening so often now, and it is seeming to get worse and worse. I feel like I'm in a constant power struggle, which is not at all where we need to be! The Scenario: Every morning after breakfast I have Caroline bring something from the table back to the kitchen to help clean up. I then unload the dishwasher and clean up breakfast, and her one task is to put the silverware away. She's always enjoyed doing this and is great at it. It's just been in the last couple of weeks that we've gotten into a routine of doing this every morning, however. I just ask her to put the silverware away, and tell her that when she's done, she can go play while I finish.

I was a day late for my period...we all know that doesn't really count as late. I'd felt dizzy and just lacking energy the past couple of days, and I happened to have one of those super cheap pregnancy tests lying around from when we were trying to get pregnant the first time. "What the heck?", I thought. "I'll just check". I knew it would come back negative, because it was highly unlikely I was pregnant, and it was also way early to even take the test. Even if I was pregnant, it was just really too soon to tell on one of these tests, so I went into the bathroom knowing for sure I'd see it come back negative.

A dark line appeared immediately. Again, I figured it must be the control line. I looked at my phone to time the test, and by the time I'd looked back there were 2 dark lines! It was as positive as it gets and I couldn't believe my eyes. I wasn't prepared in any way to see that positive line show up! I was thrilled and in complete shock!

As many of you know, I had to undergo fertility treatments to get pregnant with Caroline. We tried for a year and a half. After an exploratory laparoscopy, clomid, hormone injections in my stomach (that I had to do myself), and an IUI, I finally became pregnant! It was a long road (you can read about the whole journey here), and I was fully expecting for our second journey to take just as long. I'd heard the stories of people getting pregnant easier the second time, but never truly believed it would happen for us.

Room sharing is the devil. 

Don't ever have your kids share a room.

Avoid room sharing at all costs. 

Stock up on wine and chocolate. 

Just kidding. Kind of. You'll want the wine and chocolate anyway.

The truth is, room sharing is probably not ideal unless you have kids who really function better with a roommate than one without. 3 of our 4 kids function better on their own. Too bad for them because in our current stage of life, it's just not feasible for our kids to have their own bedrooms. But it can get tricky and can rock the boat sometimes with your perfectly scheduled Baby-wise babies. Our kids have shared rooms for a while now and I have found out some things (the hard way) that might make things a bit easier if you are looking to have kids room share.

Oh the screams and the cries today. The hitting, kicking and not listening. The "horrible twos" we all hear about rear their ugly head every so often and it's brutal. If I'm consistent in my expectation and discipline accordingly it only gets worse before it gets better. But I also know that if I don't do that we will have far more of these days then if I do. It's hard, and I lose my cool at times. My daughter reminds me that it's not nice to yell, and that it's not nice to hit (when I swat her hand down from hitting my face)...yes Mama was faster!

Toys get taken away, privileges get removed, etc. I remind her of ways to calm down, I offer hugs, but it doesn't help on days like today. There aren't often natural consequences that I can employ, and end up disciplining in ways that I don't fully like, but they are my only option at the time. Sometimes I try to ignore the tantrum. Sometimes I try offering help. At times I end up putting her in her room for some chill time for both of us. Nothing stops the screaming, though. She's strong willed for sure. Most times I am so patient with her, but some days like today it just doesn't happen the way I want it to. I end up feeling like such a failure on these days. Until I also see the hard work shine it did today.

This post is sponsored by Stonyfield. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 

Something happens when you become a parent. No matter how conscious you were before of what you are putting into your body, and your impact on the health of our planet- well, it increases drastically. At least, it did for me and my husband.

For dinner, we didn't always include a vegetable, and we didn't have fruit on our plates daily. Neither one of us struggled with weight or health issues, so we just ate what we wanted to eat, and ate what we liked. We were aware of our habits, and we never ate poorly, but we knew we could do better.

When Caroline entered our world, all of that changed. As Caroline started eating solid foods, we quickly realized that we wanted to make sure we were making good food choices for her, and creating an environment in which she was learning healthy habits. It was easy for us to make this transition. Not only did we want her eating healthy foods, we wanted her to see us eating healthy foods. We want it to be second nature to her as she grows up.

Independent play looks a bit different in our house now that Caroline is almost 2.5 years old. While she used to do strict room time, that simply isn't working for her at the moment, so we are having to adjust. Her independent play is more casually structured now. I try to do official room time once a week, but the rest of the time, independent play just fits in naturally. Caroline does independent play all throughout the day, in short segments. Sometimes we have structured table time activities, and other times, it's free play while Mama is busy. One of our favorite (although often forgot about) activities, is playing apps on the iPad! I mentioned these apps in the post on table time activities, but I wanted to pull them out into their own separate post for easy finding. These are still our favorite apps on the iPad for Caroline's age. We have since upgraded most of these apps from their free version, to the full version, and Caroline is enjoying even more wonderful learning! I'd love to hear what your favorite apps are and for what age in the comments section below. These have all been great so far from 2 years of age to 2.5, and will continue to be great for some time!

7 FREE iPad Apps that we love for our 2 year old:

As a part of a mom's group, I feel the need to, well - participate. I enjoy contributing to our mom's group. There are three ways to do this and, as of yesterday, I had only done 2 of the 3. It left me feeling a little guilty, but also I wanted to be more involved now that I know the moms better.

1. You can go to planned outings. This is the easy one. Just show up and have a good time! It's what many moms stick to, and it's totally fine and a good use of the moms group! Everyone appreciates the friendships made, the company at events, and the socialization for little ones.

2. You can plan outings. Everyone can decide on outings, plan and invite. I was immediately drawn to this, because Caroline and I go out and do a lot of things. Before finding the moms group, we did them on our own. We had lots of ideas of things to do, but no one to go with. Now I have an idea, post it on meet-up and invite all the moms! Everyone loves new, creative ideas! I love participating in this manner. The more moms that participate in this way, the more variety we get in our types of playdates and events.