International Pregnancy & Infant Loss Remembrance Day: This Is Our Story

I vividly remember the day I found out that I was pregnant.  I had this strange urge to grab a home pregnancy test on my way back from work. It hadn’t missed my period and, other than feeling tired that week, I wasn’t exhibiting any of those “tell tale” symptoms associated with pregnancy (I would later come to discover that most of those symptoms don’t even surface until around week 6-8). The next morning, I quietly took the test in the comfort our our master bathroom and was shocked to see a positive result. It was a happy surprise. Joyful tears flowed down my face as I realized that life was stirring inside me. In the weeks that followed before our first prenatal appointment, we shared our happy news only with close friends and family. It wasn’t until after our first ultrasound that we shared the news of our impending arrival with our extended network of friends and co-workers. Like many new expectant parents, we were under the impression that our baby would be one that we would take home from the hospital and love as he or she grew into an independent person. We were mistaken.

In early November, my husband and I headed to a routine prenatal visit where we were excited to hear our sweet baby’s heartbeat via doppler. Elation soon turned into worry as my OB doctor referred us to a prenatal imaging center for an ultrasound. It was there that we would discover that the child we thought we would take home would never be an outside baby. For parents who have never experienced a loss, it’s hard to fathom how heartbreaking that news can be. For several weeks I had developed this relationship with the child I thought would be mine and it was stripped from me. It hurt and I didn’t understand. It was the worst moment of my life. My doctor recommended a D&C in the days that followed after we received the news and I was told that we were clear to start trying again at the end of December 2009 or early January 2010. The prospect of “trying” was scary. There are so many uncertainties associated with getting pregnant after a loss and the thought of losing another baby can be overwhelming but our loss made me realize how much I wanted a healthy baby and I knew we would have to eventually move on and try in order for that to happen.

By April 2010, after months of charting, ovulation tests, and negative home pregnancies, I was losing faith. If I could get pregnant without even trying the first time, why wasn’t it happening this time?! Everywhere I looked, it seemed, other women were getting pregnant, having babies, and enjoying the life that I thought would be mine and I wasn’t. By the first week of June 2010, the realization that our due date was upon me. My husband and I decided to take a couple days off of work to spend together, doing something fun, in memory of the child that never made it home. Later that month, on the 22nd, I found out that I was pregnant with my daughter.

I had just arrived at a good place, emotionally, after mourning the loss of our baby, and I was scared that it might happen again. I feared every cramp and ache fearful that it might mean the worst. I took home pregnancy tests periodically (pretty much throughout my first trimester) just to make sure that they were still showing up positive. Thankfully, Charlotte Grace came into this world in February 2011 after a healthy and relatively text book pregnancy. Not a day goes by that I’m not thankful for her presence in my life. The takeaway that I gained from my experience in loss is that it’s hard and it’s okay to be angry, heartbroken, and sad. It’s okay to mourn the loss of something that should have been yours.

I was certain that our first baby was a boy. So we named him Elijah Steven. I keep a box with his first ultrasound picture, a few congratulatory cards we received from friends and family, and a little teddy bear we had purchased as a gift for our baby shortly after we found out we were expecting. These keepsakes are likely things that I will share with my own daughter one day down the road as we talk about life, loss, and family. If you’re mourning a loss of your own, know that you’re not alone and that it’s okay to be sad. Sometimes sharing your story is a good way to let other women know that they always have support.

In honor of International Pregnancy & Infant Loss Remembrance Day, I wanted to share with you some information about “Count The Kicks“, a campaign that aims at saving the lives of unborn children in late pregnancy.  Although stillbirth is vastly different from what I experienced (which was a miscarriage), I think the Count The Kicks mission is important and I encourage you all to take a look at this video: 

To join the movement, start by visiting and liking the Count the Kicks Facebook page. 

 

 

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A Review & Giveaway from FlattenMe Personalized Books and Gifts

Book Review and Giveaway

Reading has always been an important part of the daily routine in our household. It’s something I’ve enjoyed since childhood and knew would someday become common practice when I eventually had children of my own. When I was pregnant with C, I found myself reading to her in utero (which, now that I look back, sounds a little crazy) and that trend continued after she was born. Now that a little older, she’s better able to understand and follow sequences of events. Reading to her has transitioned from looking at pictures to enjoying (toddler appropriate) storylines. I’ve noticed that she’s started to develop a passion and love for books and reading which is probably why I was so elated for the opportunity to review a personalized book from FlattenMe.Com. The company has also graciously offered to giveaway a personalized book to one of you (more on that below).

Owl Always Love You Personalized Book

“Owl Always Love You”, written by Robyn Spizman and illustrated by Erica Leighton, is a ‘bedtime story for little night owls’ (who doesn’t love owls?!). Each page is beautifully illustrated and sends a message of abounding love for the main character (which, in my book, is my daughter). It’s a reminder to children that they are loved, always and unconditionally. The pages compare the love we have for our children to things found in nature and daily life like a cradle loving to rock, rain loving a cloud, and kites loving to fly. The message is simple and easy for children to understand: they are special and they are loved.

The hardback book is comprised of fourteen thick, easy to turn story pages each with its own unique and beautiful illustration. You can take a peek at each individual page online here. FlattenMe.com also offers personalized photo books, journals, tshirts, wall art, and more online which make for great gifts for every family member. FlattenMe has offered to host a giveaway for one lucky reader to enjoy a Keepsake personalized Owl book of their very own (less the cost of shipping, which is $3.99).

To Enter (each option earns one entry):

  • “Like” the FlattenMe Facebook page and post a message on their wall telling them that #ItsAnOrdinaryBlog sent you (be sure to use the # hashtag so I can see the post).
  • Head on over to the It’s An Ordinary Blog Facebook page and tell me what your favorite thing about the Owl Always Love You book is.
  • Leave a comment on this post telling me who you would personalize this sweet book for.

A winner will be randomly drawn on Friday November 1st. As always, good luck and my the odds be ever in your favor!

Flatten Me

While FlattenMe sent a personalized copy of “Owl Always Love You” free of charge in exchange for my review and giveaway, I am under no obligation to write a positive review and all expressed thoughts are uniquely my own. Please feel free to reach out to me anytime with questions: ItsAnOrdinaryBlog@gmail.com.

Potty Training: We Did It! (Plus Some Helpful Tips)

It's An Ordinary Blog

As you might remember, we’ve been working on potty training our two year old daughter. Several months ago, I had it in my mind that we were supposed to be aggressive when it came to potty training. Now that I look back, I’m glad that my (somewhat) relaxed parenting style overshadowed my internal desire to push my child into potty success. A few weeks ago, something just clicked and she got it. It was one of those incredible, amazing moments where you’re immensely proud and completely blown away by the small child that lives with you. She’s so smart and allowing her to lead the way (with our help and encouragement) was one of the best parenting decisions I’ve made to date.

You might remember my post about utilizing a potty chart as incentive to get your child to use the restroom. While I still advocate the use of sticker charts to help motivate young children (we use a sticker chart for ‘daily activities’ that C is expected to complete and she loves it), I’ve also learned that sometimes children will figure things out on their own in time. Some children might prosper having that ‘push’ for potty training but, in observing my child’s behaviors, I learned that she is more motivated by independence than she is by my encouragement. I found myself asking her, time and time again, until I was almost blue in the face, if she needed to try and use the potty and she never seemed to want to…on my time. So I stopped. I wasn’t going to make her feel guilty for eliminating in her disposable pull up and I wasn’t going to punish her for not sitting on the potty. Eventually, I knew if she wanted to try to go…she would. And she did.

About a week into it, we abandoned the potty chart (but we still used a chart for daily activities) and decided that we would take a break and re-visit potty training when C seemed to be more ready. Fast forward a few weeks when we toured a preschool that we were interested in part time. One of the stipulations for enrollment is that the child must be in underwear. So I sat down and explained to her that if she was big enough to attend preschool then she must also be big enough to use the potty and not wear pull ups anymore. Not wanting to push her too hard, we tried again.

We took the leap of faith and simply stopped putting her in pull ups. Much to my surprise, the transition into underwear was really easy. We didn’t try giving her an absurd amount of juice. She didn’t run around naked. We didn’t make her sit on the potty all day. She just got it. We had a few accidents the first day, a couple the second day, and one or two occasionally ever since. My husband and I are always encouraging of her, almost to the point where we embarrass ourselves when we’re in public with the “Wow! You did it! Good Job!”  and the “You went POTTY?! AWESOME!” but I am so proud to announce that my child, at two years and seven months old, is fully potty trained and it was one of the easiest things I’ve ever done with her. Hooray!

horray

I wanted to share a few things that I learned in our potty training experience with you…

  1. Don’t sweat the small stuff 
  2. Give it time
  3. Children should never be made to feel guilty for accidents
  4. S#it happens
  5. Celebrate each accomplishment

More than anything, I want you to know that potty training doesn’t have to be stressful. It can be enjoyable and it can be simple. Knowing your child, stopping when something’s not right, and letting your child lead the way are the best things I’ve learned in this process and they’re things that I will take with me in other parenting adventures down the road. If you’re preparing for potty training, I wish you the very best with your little one!

 

Costume Discounters: Little Dragon Costume In Review!

| Cooler Weather | Hot Apple Cider | Pumpkin Patch | Boots & Sweaters |

It’s Halloween Month! 

Discount Toddler Costumes

Happy October, Everyone! I am bursting at the seams excited to start this month! October-March are my absolute favorite months of the year. Bring on the cold weather, the hot cocoa under the stars, the falling leaves, and, of course, the adorable Halloween costumes that we all look forward to each year. If you’re like me (overly excited parent of a ridiculously adorable two year old), you’ve already put a lot of thought into your plans for #Halloween2013 (I am fully aware that hashtags do not, in fact, work on WordPress. #DontCare #NerdAlert). If you happen to be in the market for an amazing costume at a discounted price (hello savings!), I invite you to check out my friends over at Costume Discounters. They offer a vast array of inexpensive costumes for adults, children, and pets (who doesn’t love a dressed up dog or cat?!) that you can have delivered directly from their website to your door. This is the perfect solution for parents who don’t want to brave taking their child out to the mall to pick out the perfect costumes (nobody wants to deal with the “I want {every single item ever}” for each item you look at) for the entire family. Take a peek at the Little Dragon Costume that C will be sporting this year:

Costume Discounters

This costume is every bit as adorable in person as it is online and, believe me, it’s pretty cute. What I love the most about it, from a purely logistical standpoint, is that it comes in just two pieces: the main costume and the wings that attach to the back. There is little worse than trying to assemble multiple aspects of one outfit on a two year old. Having one piece that gently slips over her head is a much more feasible choice for parents who plan to be on the go this Halloween season (yes, it is a season: don’t judge). The wings attach, using three pieces of velcro, to the shoulders on the back of the costume. The material is soft and comfortable against the skin and it’s not too heavy so it’s something my child can wear freely as we walk up and down the streets of our neighborhood on Halloween night. Best of all?! C LOVES it. 

Little Dragon Toddler Costume

When I’m saying that she loves it, I mean…she absolutely loves it. So much so that she cried when I took it off of her. It was a sad moment. But I look forward to the happy moment when she, once again, gets to wear it. Given the fact that this item is sleeveless, I will plan to pair it with a solid color long sleeved top and some tights on Halloween night but this will serve as an excellent addition, that she can wear as is, to her dress up clothes once the holiday is over. With any article of clothing, I encourage you to pay attention to sizing before you order. C is ~35″ tall and ~29 pounds and she is wearing at XS costume (which is intended to fit a 3T-4T for toddlers). I’m certain that the XXS would have worked as well but might have been a bit shorter than we would have liked. The vibrant colors, ease of the fabric, and the fun nature of the costume itself will be a hit at our festivities and I can’t wait to show her off in it.

Little Dragon Costume

As you venture out (or online) for your Halloween needs, take a few minutes to check out Costume Discounters. Right now they’re offering a 20% discount on orders of $20 or more (use the code Fun20) and free shipping on all orders over $60. You can find them online (http://www.costumediscounters.com/), on Facebook, and on Twitter. Drop them a line on their social media pages and be sure to tell them that It’s An Ordinary Blog sent you!

Toddler Halloween Costumes

Costume Discounters sent me a Little Dragon Toddler Costume for free in exchange for my review. I am under no obligation to write a positive review and my expressed opinions are uniquely my own. As always, please feel free to reach out to me anytime with questions: ItsAnOrdinaryBlog@gmail.com. 

Costume Discounters

Treat Bags for Traveling With Toddlers

Travel Map

 

2 Adults | 1 Toddler | 486 Miles | 7 Hours | 1 Road Trip 

We recently spent an extended weekend in historic Corydon, Indiana and I’m proud to say that we made it through the road trip with our two year old unscathed! I will admit that my husband and I were both a little nervous about the prospect of spending nearly 8 hours on the road each way with a two year old passenger in the car. Toddlers, by nature, can be unpredictable in their mood and we weren’t quite sure how our daughter would react to our long weekend. All that said, she was an incredible travel companion. So much so, in fact, that we’re planning another long trip this Autumn with her (wish us luck!). I’d like to think that my impeccable planning skills played some small role in our recent road trip success and so I thought I’d take a couple of minutes to share what I did with all of you.

The week before we left, I hit up my local Target in search of some great deals in their ‘cheap toy / items you’re probably going to end up tossing’ section (the one that’s generally at the front of the store as you come in). I went in without any real expectations for what I would find but I was on the hunt for some small toys, books, or games to keep my daughter busy in the car. My plan was to pair a couple of the items with a small snack and drink in a special bag that we would present to her at various stages throughout the trip. A half hour and about $10 later, I had what I needed to get started.

If you’re like me (a planner) who will be traveling with small children, I highly suggest taking the time to prepare these bags ahead of time. I found that they really helped make our trip so smooth. Each bag contained:

  • A fresh diaper
  • A small baggie of wipes
  • A small snack
  • A drink
  • A small book
  • A small toy
  • A glow stick

We presented a bag at each of our semi-planned (within a desired time frame) pit stops and found that it was a great way to introduce something new to capture her attention for long enough that she wasn’t bored in the car. I don’t know about you but I call that a win. Here’s what the bags looked like:

Treat Bags for Kids

Travel Treat Bag

Treat Bag 1

Pit Stop Treat Bags

With a little planning and preparation you, too, can enjoy (yes, I said enjoy) a road trip with your toddler. Happy Travels!

Potty Training: An Update

It's An Ordinary Blog Copyright

Two weeks ago, I posted about our journey in potty training. As it turns out, teaching a two year old how to use the bathroom is more difficult than I imagined it would be.  C will be two and a half next month and, logically, I know it’s time to get serious but my child doesn’t seem to want to sit on the potty.  That’s where the potty chart came in. In case you missed my first post…here’s what the chart looked like:

Potty Incentives

I thought (and still think) that using charts for toddlers is a great idea. So much so, in fact, that I started a daily activity chart in C’s room with a list of things we need to accomplish every day (like getting dressed, brushing our teeth, reading books, rest/nap time, etc). At the end of the day, we go over her chart and she gets a smiley face for every completed task. When she fills up the chart, she gets a reward. As wonderful as the daily chart is, I think I may have had a bigger vision than we’re capable of right now for our potty time chart. That’s not to say that it won’t be a great resource for later on down the road (or for children who have more interested and are willing to actually sit down to use the bathroom) but, for now, we need to try something different.

Someone on my Facebook page suggested giving her little toys or treats whenever she sits on the potty. So that’s where we’re at now. Per the usual, I’ll keep you guys updated in a couple of weeks on our progress. Until then, I’ve got a great Vitacost review and Zaggora giveaway coming down the pipe tomorrow and Tuesday and am excited to share both of those with you!

It’s Potty Time (Getting Started)!

 

Potty TrainingRemember this picture that I posted over on Twitter the other day?!

It’s official: We’re Potty Training! 

When my daughter turned two, she was so excited to sit on the potty like a big girl. Like any parent of a toddler, I excitedly purchased a potty of her very own. All of this, of course, under the assumption that potty training would be a breeze. That hasn’t so much been the case. Now that she’ll be two and a half next month, I know it’s time to get serious about potty training but every time we ask her if she wants to sit and try to use the bathroom, she cries. Logically, I know that forcing her to do something that she clearly doesn’t want to do isn’t going to do any of us favors and so I decided to turn potty training into a game (of sorts). The other day I went to my local Target (my home away from home) and purchased some poster board, a ruler and incentive stickers all with the purpose of creating a potty chart.

How To Make A Potty Chart

For each day of the week (from Sunday to Sunday) there are nine boxes. The game is simple: For every attempt to use the bathroom, she earns a sticker. If she fills out nine stickers every day for 8 days, she gets to have dinner at our local T-Rex cafe (it’s a pretty big treat for her since we don’t go there often).

Its Potty Time

I tried to make the chart bright and fun. What toddler doesn’t love a good sticker?!

Potty Chart

Potty Incentives

I hung the potty chart on the mirror in the bathroom and there it will stay until next Monday morning.

How To Potty Train A Toddler

Although she earned her first sticker this morning, she didn’t seem all that interested in going. I love the idea of using a chart but if this doesn’t work by week’s end I’ll try a different approach (a pre-purchased gift that she can only have if she tries to use the bathroom all week). I’ll keep you updated on our progress on Twitter and over on Facebook. In the meantime, what are your tips for first time training?!

 

Happy Father’s Day!

Father and Daughter walking on beach

Happy Father’s Day!

We’ve had such a busy week that I’m just now playing catch up. The early part of the week was spent down in rural Kansas visiting my dad and the latter part of the week was spent enjoying some time with a good friend of mine who was visiting from out of state. I feel guilty that I haven’t posted but I promise that I’ve got a lot coming down the pipe for next week including a review for a mail order coffee company called eKoffee (and it’s so good!) and a giveaway from Keira’s Kollection.

I spent a lot of time this year thinking about Father’s Day. You might remember my top pick for Father’s Day 2013, a gift for dad from Man Crates, so I wanted to talk today about the greatest gift of all…The older I get, the more I realize that of all the gifts in the world that you can offer someone, the greatest one is the gift of your time, energy, and love. I think that’s why I enjoyed my time with my own dad earlier this week. Unlike material objects that can be replaced if lost or broken, time is something that we can’t ever get back and the time we spend with our loved ones is what creates those memories we carry with us throughout our lives. I could go on (and on and on) about how important I think family moments are but I think you probably get the gist so I want to close with a few little notes.

To My Husband:  

I don’t possess words that are eloquent enough to fully express how incredibly grateful I feel for your partnership in parenting. Not only are you a hard working individual in your work life but you’re also a rock star at home. The energy and devotion you have to C and I is unparalleled to anything I’ve ever known and we love you so much for it. You’re patient, kind, compassionate, and loving. The qualities you naturally possesses are ones that I believe will help to shape and steer our daughter to do great things in her life. You’re my partner for life, a rock star Dad, and an all around great human being. 

To My Father: 

One of the things I love most about my relationship with you is the fact that we’re not only father and daughter, but we’re also friends. Watching my own daughter’s eyes light up the room when she sees you or talks to you on the phone warms my heart more than you’ll ever know. I’m thankful for your presence in our lives and wouldn’t trade it for the world.

To All Dads Out There: 

Fatherhood is such an incredible responsibility and gift. It’s the opportunity to help create a better future and to teach another human being those important lessons in life like trust, what it means to be a family, and unconditional love. I hope not a day goes by that you don’t stop to see that spark in your child’s eye when you walk through the door after work, or pick them up for a hug. I hope this day has been special for you, in some way or another. 

Happy Father’s Day

Mad About It Mondays: The Inadequate Mother

What other people think about you is none of your business…

Mad About It Monday- Copyright It's An Ordinary Blog

If you’re new here and would like to catch up on some of my past Mad About It Monday posts you can find them here:

Going To Bed Book Rant & I Can’t Stand Toodles

The Inadequate Mother 

Parenting is a full time job where the pay is in hugs, kisses, snuggles, and a lifelong relationship with your little one. But unlike traditional jobs, parents don’t get a lot of feedback. There are no annual reviews and sometimes it’s hard to gauge just how well you’re doing at your job. I think that’s why I fall into that trap, as I’m sure many others also do, of comparing myself to other moms. Not just that, but I worry about the judgement I get from other parents when my child is acting up in public or when I let my frustration get to me and end up raising my voice in front of others. I’m left wondering, at the end of the day, if my parenting is going to yield the results I hope for (a well adjusted, kind, compassionate, intelligent, respectful adult someday down the road) or if my child is going to end up with years of therapy as an adult.

How do you grade yourself when it comes to being a parent?

A few weeks ago I stopped by a drive-thru while C and I were out running errands. After I handed her the small bottle of chocolate milk, she asked me for a straw. I explained to her that she was going to have to drink her milk without one, just like we do at home. Instead of enjoying it, like I expected her to, she looked at me and started to pour out the milk all over my back seat. I reacted, without thinking, and yelled (very loudly and firmly) at her to stop. Normally when I get after my child, she pouts, whines, or sheds the occasional (real) tear. This time was different. She didn’t cry. She didn’t pout. She buried her head into her hands. It was at that moment that I realized I had shamed my daughter. I felt like a failure. A monster. It’s easy to let those moments define my day, my week, my month, and even my life but do those hiccups really make me a bad parent?!

I guess the answer to that is different for all of us. No one child is exactly like another and parenting styles differ from family to family. I just need to learn to look forward. Each day is a new adventure with the opportunity to create memories with my family. I have to understand that I’m going to screw up. I wrote a post a while back (Walking the Line: On Parenting) and I have to go back, from time to time, and remind myself of those words. That it’s okay. That learning how to parent isn’t a test we can study for, it’s an experience that we learn and grow from with each passing day.

The days when I feel like a complete and utter failure are the ones that I could use the most encouragement. So let me offer some to you:

  • There are going to be good days and there are going to be bad days but no one day will last forever.
  • Cherish those special moments with your child and think back on them to help you get through the rough days.
  • If you feel like you’ve completely screwed your chances for winning that “Mother Of The Year” award, know that you’re not alone. We are all in the same boat.
  • You are not inadequate. You are strong and this, too, shall pass.

Parenting is tough and we are warriors.

Mad About It Monday: The Going To Bed Book

Welcome to Mad About It Monday

Mad About It Monday- Copyright It's An Ordinary Blog

…because passive aggressive Facebooking was so yesterday…

It’s been a while since my last Mad About It Monday post in this series and I thought I’d bring it back with something that’s been on my mind for a long, long time.

I love being a mom.  I love the time that I get to spend with my two year old, snuggled on the couch, reading stories together.  But good Lord Almighty there are a lot of books out there and some them are just downright (as Mr. T would say,) “Absoludicrous”.

You might remember my expose on a guide for stalkers cleverly disguised as a classic children’s book or my thoughts on the worst parenting example ever.  Today, I want to dedicate this post to a book that’s been grinding my gears form almost two years.

the-going-to-bed-book

The Going to Bed Book

Filled with nonsensical nonsense, “The Going to Bed Book” has been a popular bedtime story for the last 31 years.  Before it makes its way into your book basket, I must air my grievances with this so-called children’s classic.

Now, you might think that I’m going to talk about what a bad idea it is to exercise right after bed. About how any activity that creates adrenaline and increases one’s heart-rate is not going to be conducive to a restful night’s sleep. Furthermore, it is pretty nasty that they are exercising after they’ve taken a bath.

But, I’m not going to talk about that.

You might also think that I’m going to talk about how illogical it is for a lion, elephant, and moose, among others to share the same bathtub in an effective or safe manner. You may suspect that I’ll mention that, based upon the Archimedes’ principle of water displacement, the tub would have to exponentially larger than depicted in order to support the level of bouyant force exerted by the combined weight of all of those wild animals.

However, I’m not going to talk about that either.

What I want to talk about is this:

Going To Bed Book Lion Hunts Bunny

That bunny might be getting ready for bed, but you can tell he’s pretty sure that he’s going to become the lion’s breakfast.

AND NOBODY SEEMS TO CARE.  Somebody had to have purchased all of these custom-fitted pajamas and specialized exercise equipment, but they seem to have forgotten that these are wild animals and no amount of messed up rhyming bedtime routine is going to deny the inherent laws of nature.

As the parent of a toddler, I am in no hurry to explain the entirely justifiable fear within that bunny’s eyes.

Thanks for trying to steal my child’s innocence, Sandra Boynton.

Goodnight.