A Gift idea for New Parents

This sign might be the best gift anyone could ever give to new parents. I found this little treasure while I was hunting for frames at Hobby Lobby. I added a little red ribbon to it and it was perfect. For the better part of two years, I'm embarrassed to admit that the sign below hung on our doorbell.

I hung the sign because our dog charges the door barking when the doorbell rings, not necessarily because we have such a loud doorbell that it would wake a sleeping baby. (Although as a brand new mom I was sure the ring of the bell was enough) At first, the sign read only, "Please Do Not Ring Bell" and hung above where it is in this picture but after several people simply knocked, and the FedEx delivery man rang the bell anyway, I added the words "Or Knock" and moved the sign on top of the bell so someone wishing to defy my orders would have to actaually depress the sign when ringing the bell.

People who came to the door and saw this sign, whether they were selling something, making a delivery, or wanting to meet us and invite us to a party, most likely understood why the sign was there. But it's possible that someone found it to be cold or unwelcoming. That's why when I found the Hobby Lobby sign I was so excited. Now when someone comes, they see a friendly little request to please go away, tied up with a pretty bow!

Back to why this is perfect for new parents. When we first brought our baby home, I was essentially in the house with him for weeks and whenever I realized that I needed something, I ordered it online from Amazon. Because I had the free two day shipping that you get when you join Amazon Mom, there was a continuous stream of packages arriving for those first months. In order to make sure that my doorbell wasn't ringing three times a day, I needed that sign. Other parents might need it for a different reason. Although we didn't have this problem, many new parents find that their family and friends stop over univited to help out or see the baby. As a first time parent, they might not know how to express that they don't want visitors, don't want to entertain, or just simply want to be alone with their tiny new baby. Giving this sign would be giving them the ability to gently hint that it isn't a good time to be dropping in on them without having to step on the toes of well meaning friends, in-laws, or neighbors.

No one will know if the sign hangs 24/7 and not just when the baby is sleeping unless they drive by on the hour waiting for it to be taken down. In that case, if they want to see the baby that bad, it's best to just let them in- but they better be bringing food!

House Attachment

The light at the end of our remodeling tunnel is finally visible. I'm excited and relieved that after many, many months, our kitchen, master bathroom, and kids' bathroom remodels are almost complete. We're talking down to the final hooks on the wall complete! It has taken the better part of two years to accomplish what we wanted; in part because we were on a budget but mostly because we have a busy life. Two years. What this means to a military family is that the light at the end of the tunnel is also starting to signal the end of our time in this house in this town.

This move will be the fourth move for our family in eight years. This is the second home we bought and made our own only to have to leave it. But this little town in NY has been more than a duty station. We were fortunate enough to end up stationed in the area we both grew up, something not very common for a military family. I went to school from K-12 in Saratoga. The churches here are the same churches we made our first communions, got married, and now can add, had our baby's baptism.

We have been spoiled to live in Saratoga Springs and by all it has to offer for families. I have been able to fill my son's days with so many fun and educational activities that I may not be able to find in another area. I don't know too many military towns that we could move to that will offer us the chance to have a picnic blanket play date at the ballet on a summer afternoon.

Every military family knows how it feels to leave a town, family, friends, and take only memories to a new place. We've done it enough to be somewhat used to it and prepared but this time it feels like it's going to be harder. For one thing, we are leaving both of our families after spending these past few years enjoying their company any time we wanted. But above all, this is the first time that we will be making the move with a child. For that reason I feel like I have much more of an attachment to our house.

It's not just the work that my husband has put into remodeling this house. It's the babyprints that are all over it. Each inch of this big house is filled with little reminders of every moment from the day we brought him home, to his first giggles, first steps and words. When we walk out of the door to go places these days I find myself imagining what it will be like to walk out for the last time. Will visions of walking up the sidewalk to the front door with a newborn in my arms, anxious to bring him home, flood over me and make me run back inside? I know that won't happen but only because this life we live doesn't allow for that kind of emotional reaction to moving. Am I going to spend our last nights here waking up in a panic wondering if my baby will miss his nursery? Yes, I will. But in order to get through our toughest move so far I'll have to find a way to get excited about his new nursery in our new house, in our new town.

In our last house, I spent the last few days before we moved taking photos of the empty spaces and even wrote our names on a beam in the attic. One of my favorite photos to look back on is a shot of our names carved in the sand at the beach we went to every weekend. It makes me smile to think that this time around there will be another name to add.

Quitting your job doesn't make you a stay at home mom

This week is a school break so a lot of my friends and my family are home with school aged children and trying to keep them occupied. The weather has been terrible for the last month or so- freezing cold but not enough snow on the ground for any kind of fun. As for my little one and I, it’s been a bit of a slow week because we haven’t been to any of our usual activities. Some were cancelled due to school break and some we stayed away from for fear that they’d be packed full of school kids. It made me realize how much of my week involves activities for a 20 month old! (And how long a day is if there isn’t an outing)

Talking with friends who are home this week and are feeling so glad to be able to catch up on time with their little ones makes me so grateful that I have been able to spend so much time with our son and fill his days with as much learning, bonding, and happy moments as I can.

There are a lot of people who claim to be a stay at home mom that I think miss the point in being home. I saw it a lot in a previous job where the term meant little more than physically being there at home with their children and sometimes didn’t even mean that much! Not to say that every mom can or should dedicate the majority of each day to children’s activities but that is what I have chosen to do, otherwise why wouldn’t I just work and pay someone else to dedicate their day to my child? Without coming off too judgmental, I’ll just say that I know mothers who work full time that spend more time engaged with their children than some that claim to be stay at home moms.

To me being a stay at home mom means that your full time job is ensuring the health, development, happiness, growth, and well being of your children. It doesn't mean do whatever I want during the workday whether it be work out, shop, go to lunch with friends, etc,  while someone else watches my child. Stay at home moms who do things like that give the impression that it's fun and games rather than a demanding committment being "home" with your children!
 I am just grateful that I won’t look back some day and wish that I’d spent more time with my children while I was “home” with them.

Eating in the Shower

A few weeks after my son was born, my husband went back to work and I felt like a humongous weight was just dropped in my lap (literally since he weighed over ten pounds already!) He was eating every hour for nearly twenty minutes at a time so I was exhausted and completely overwhelmed. I expected having a newborn to be a challenge but not a single person- not friends, family members, no well meaning strangers even, prepared me for the fact that not a second of the day was mine anymore.

I'd always told myself that I wasn't going to be one of those moms who complains about being tired or overwhelmed by having a child. We spent the first eight years of our marriage working full time, traveling, and eventually wanting a baby.  Before we had our son, I thought I was preparing myself by making the genius decision that I wasn't going to to whine about things that I'd secretly laughed at other moms for complaining about. Things like being tired, hungry, or dirty.

After all, I'd been working full time outside the home. I fully believed that being a stay at home mom was going to be "easier" than going to a job for eight hours a day, five days a week. By easier, I just thought it was going to be a nice break from having to work.

So...... fast forward to morning two of Daddy being back to work and being on my own and I started to get why I had heard so many parents claim that it's such hard work. My wardrobe consisted of sweats, slippers, a nursing tank top with hoodie over it, and my hair was an unflattering combination of third day not washed waves and bed head. I went everywhere with a baby in one arm and a nalgene full of water in the other because I was constantly thirsty. The only time I rested was while feeding him. Anyone that remembers being new to nursing a newborn can understand how not restful that was. I didn't have time or at least think I had time to eat, take a shower, make a phone call, sleep, clean my house, or think of anything other than when this tiny baby would want to eat again.

Rather than put him down for a minute and let him cry, I held him almost nonstop until he fell asleep in my arms. During these periods I might put him in his crib, swing, or propped in the boppy pillow, but a lot of the time I kept holding him and just rested as best I could.

One day I put him down asleep and hurried to the shower quietly tiptoeing, and just petrified that the sound of water or God forbid, dropped shampoo would wake him. As water ran down my head I was jolted by the realization I was chewing and still holding part of my bagel in my hand. In the shower.

Some people might not think that was worth a second thought but I wasn't comfortable with that being my new normal. The laugh /sob noise that I made upon realizing that I now had to manage my time by eating in the shower was probably only in my head because I was too paranoid to so much as sneeze at the risk of waking the baby. It was a defining, humbling new parent moment that I've never forgotten.

It took a little time but eventually I found a way to balance baby's needs and my own. Put simply, I now have about a quarter of every day for my own needs. But I wouldn't trade a single sleepless, dirty, hungry, frustrated, aching moment of what is the greatest joy in my life for more me time.

Of course I look back on those weeks now and realize that I had so much more freedom than I thought I had but nothing was going to make me feel that way at the time except for the experience I now have. I remember someone saying to me, "You shouldn't be so tired," a statement that obviously made me feel like there was some trick I was missing or something that I was doing wrong. While unhelpful and a little judgy, above all that was such a ridiculous thing to say to someone that was tired from giving every bit of their energy to a newborn. If they'd only known I was also starving because the only time I managed to eat was in the shower!
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