Monday, February 19, 2018

Toddler Bedtime Routine

*This post is written in collaboration with Leesa. I was provided the mattress in exchange for my review, which is honest and reflects our experience. Thank you as always for supporting the brands that support Stang&Co!

In parenting, I learned hard and fast that no two children are the same. The minute we brought home our second child, it was clear that while they were both boys, that was about the only thing they had in common. Their personalities are complete opposites of one another, so I suppose I should not be surprised that their sleep habits are completely different, too. Jackson is my snuggler. For the longest time he couldn't fall asleep if he wasn't twirling mine or my husband's hair in his tiny fingers, and he needed the physical touch of another person to fall asleep. We had to lay with him in his bed for the longest time, and it was not an easy habit to break. At all.
Lincoln was a different story entirely. He was a terrible sleeper early on; around 6-7 months he was still waking three to four times per night, and on the brink of insanity, we determined that we would make him cry it out and we would not crack because something had to change. Fortunately for us, it really only took one hour of crying on the first night, and two to three days of crying for ten minutes or so at naptime and he was sleeping twelve hours straight. And a year later, that is still how he rolls. He loves to be laid down awake, and is all about self soothing. He falls asleep on his own, and really only wakes up at night if something is wrong. Meanwhile, his older brother still wakes during the night and at least half of the time climbs into our bed at some point.
We decided that maybe it was time to start transitioning Lincoln from his crib to a big boy bed. He loves his independence and we thought it might be time. We went ahead and got him a new Leesa mattress, and couldn't wait to make the transition. But immediately we felt ourselves slammed with reservations. The boys' bedrooms are upstairs, and we have a two story staircase with no turns or breaks, meaning if he should stumble and fall, he has a long way down. We know there are methods to prevent this, like a baby gate on the door, but we really reflected a bit on how he currently sleeps, and figured, 'if it isn't broken, why fix it?' He sleeps so wonderful, is easy to put down, and who knows how the big boy bed transition will affect that. Basically, we got cold feet on making the switch.
We didn't need to worry about the new mattress though. The second we opened the box (because yes, Leesa delivers their foam mattresses right to your front door in a neat and tidy box), Jackson claimed it as his own. He has been sleeping on a very generic mattress we picked up at a home improvement store, I kid you not. It did the job, but that boy knew the second he laid down on a Leesa that it was the better option. It is so soft, plush, yet still provides support. We figured that if we are holding off on transitioning Lincoln, Jackson may as well use it instead. In all honesty, it may be a good thing we didn't let Lincoln use it; Jackson immediately noticed the white stripes on the mattress, perfect for being used as a 'race track', and there was no getting him to turn the mattress back over.
He still is a more difficult child when it comes to sleep, and we have been trying constant strategies lately to get him sleeping better. As he grows, he is becoming more fearful at night, but then he is also afraid of the sound machine and light we have in his room. So any tips and tricks are welcome when your child is afraid of the dark but also afraid of the nightlight ;-) One thing is for sure though; since moving him onto the Leesa mattress he LOVES to climb into bed and snuggle up on his bed with his new pillow. It is so obvious how much more comfortable and secure he feels on his new mattress. I cannot put into words how soft and inviting it is; I have found myself tempted to snuggle up along side him and sleep on it a time or two.
In addition to the new mattress making him more willing to get into (and stay!) in bed, we have a few other things we have done.

  • Applying essential oils before bedtime can work wonders. We have a few oils we use, but lavender really seems to be the winner time and again. I notice a difference when the boys go to bed without oils on for sure.

  • Sound machines. I think having background noise is key for children sleeping well and not being woken up by every little sound. Jackson's room is right above the garage and laundry room, so there are lots of little sounds that can pull him out of sleep, and sound machines help to cover those background noises!

  • Limiting light. It always seems like common sense to have some light in the room to keep your children from being afraid of the dark, but light can actually wreak havoc on kids sleeping soundly through the night. It has required some talking and assuring there is nothing to be afraid of, but dark rooms tend to get us the best night's sleep.
  • Spending time calming down before bedtime. Lincoln goes to bed about 45 minutes before Jackson, so I have really started to implement that once brother is asleep, the toys get put away and we have 'relaxing time'. Our kids never seem to do well when they are up and at 'em and are suddenly jolted and put to bed. Having half an hour or so to decompress and not be active seems to help both boys mentally prepare for sleep.
Lincoln may not have the mattress for himself, but he sure loves to play on it whenever he gets the chance ;-)

Leesa offers a 100 day trial period for their mattresses. You can also take $100 off of your own with code STANGANDCO. It is recommended to give thirty days to adjust to the mattress, and if at that point it is not everything you expected, they will coordinate a pick-up right from your house and will refund you. We truly love the mattress though, and will be keeping it for sure. And while Lincoln may not be quite ready for his big boy bed, he certainly loves playing on big brother's bed in the meantime, if the picture above doesn't give it away ;-)
What are some of your hacks for getting little ones to sleep? As a parent of young children, there is just NOTHING more precious than a good night of sleep for everyone.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

The Forgotten Way To 'Help' A New Mom Of Two

Sometimes, I look back on life 21 months ago and cannot believe how far we have come. I love the newborn stage. There is so much sweetness, so many cuddles, and it is a precious, albeit sleep deprived, time of life that is fleeting that is gone in a blink.
I exclusively breastfed both of our children until they were a year old. Once I returned to work we started incorporating bottles of pumped milk, but on both of my maternity leaves, I was essentially the sole caretaker of the baby, because, let's be honest, newborns eat, sleep, and get their diapers changed. I always laugh when I see those memes where the new mother is staring at her peacefully sleeping husband with rage in her eyes while she is up feeding the baby for the fourth time that night. I was there. Those middle of the night moments can be so sweet, but man are they exhausting, and when you breastfeed, you can't ask for help, even if you want to. Even if my husband took a turn and did a bottle feeding, I would have to wake up and pump anyway. I am getting tired just thinking about it.

We live in our hometown. Both sets of our parents are within five minutes of us. And they are both incredibly helpful and willing to step up with our kids whenever we need them. When I had our first baby, any time we had the offer of a babysitter, that meant some me time. I could go for a run, or get some errands in, or just enjoy a little bit of peace and quiet.
Things were very different when we had our second baby. To say he was a difficult baby would be an understatement. He cried constantly. He hated to be cuddled, but he also hated to be set down. We lived in a constant state of walking around with him in our arms, facing outwards, and bouncing. The second I tried to sit down on the couch, he would scream. I am being real here, the first five months of life with two were h.a.r.d.
I was so grateful for all of the help I received. But here is the thing. When I was offered help, the majority of the time, it was this:

"Let me take Jackson outside to play"

"Here, let me put Jackson down for a nap"

"Oh, we will watch Jackson if you want to run errands with just the baby!"

Now, this isn't word for word how it went down every single time, but it is pretty close to how it felt. I remember so often sitting inside with a screaming, fussy baby, while I watched my family play outside with my fun, precious 21 month old. I so often felt that everyone assumed that when I needed a break, it would be most helpful to take my toddler off of my hands. My silly, fun loving toddler who was easy and fun to read bedtime stories to, who loved to play in the sunshine and was learning new games and who I already felt so much guilt towards because my time was so focused on his little brother.
I don't say this to knock my family, because again, they are amazing. But more than once I felt as though when people offered to help, they took the easy option. Maybe that isn't even the right way to say it. They took the option that on the surface made the most sense. I get it. I would choose to take the silly two year old over the colicky two month old, too. Because a newborn needs their mama much more than the older sibling, right? But that wasn't what I needed. I loved my baby, but there were so many times where that was the break that I needed most.

I will never remember the one day of my maternity leave where my mom told me to take my oldest out on a little lunch date, and she kept the baby. I took my sweet boy to a local ice cream place, and we had hot dogs and potato chips while sitting outside at a picnic table. After we ate our food, he had his very first ice cream cone, and it was one of those sweet memories that I know I am going to remember forever. Sure, I had almost two years of time where my attention was solely dedicated to my big boy, but finding that one on one time with each of my children became so much more desperately important during those hard months where I felt so helpless sometimes.

So family and friends, if you are able to help out, take the baby. Trust me, if a mama doesn't want to share her baby, I promise she will find an excuse to not hand them over. But don't assume she doesn't want (or need) some time and space. Offer to babysit the child that is a bit scarier, a bit more fragile, so mom can enjoy those fun moments with her older, easier child. Mothers of young children appreciate every ounce of help that they can get, but take a moment and think of what that mama truly needs the most. If she has been up all night feeding the baby, chances are some quality time with that oldest child is exactly what she is looking for.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Friday Favorites-Middle Of January

It is Friday, and I could not be more excited. I'll be honest; January is not my favorite month. But this year, despite being constantly sick and it being bitterly cold, there have been some fun and exciting things happening that are making this long month much more bearable! So before I run around outside in my shorts and a t-shirt because it is hitting 40 degrees outside today ;-) I am excited to share my favorites from this week!

1. Bathtime Giggles
I have gotten so bad about snapping candids lately. I mean you guys, I do not have a SINGLE photo from Christmas Eve with Mike's family. Oops! But earlier this week, Lincoln was being SO adorable and giggly after bathtime, and I couldn't resist snapping a few photos. I just want to bottle him up at this age. I always find things I love at every age with my children, but this 18 months-2 years stage. It kills me. It is peak sweetness, and he is so chubby and squishy and adorable I find myself wanting to literally eat his perfect little cheeks. Don't worry, I refrain. I just love him so much.

2. New Diaper Bag
I posted earlier this week about my new diaper bag, and you guys, I just could not love it more. I literally get a compliment on it every. single. time. I go anywhere with it. After over three years of rocking the boy mom gig, I have finally decided that the men in my life are just going to have to deal with there being more pink than they may like (this throw blanket may also be a new addition to our living room decor). But back to the diaper bag; compared to others I have used I love the depth and height of this bag. I feel like I can fit SO much inside of it! If you are in the market for a diaper bag that looks nothing like a diaper bag (and will transition beyond the diaper years) I cannot recommend this one enough.

3. Fun and Easy Toddler Craft
We finally broke our cold spell this week, but we had another very cold stretch that lasted through all of last weekend, which meant we didn't get out with the boys at all. Influenza is running rampant too, so we are sticking as low as we can over this next month, because we did the Influenza dance with Jackson once, and I never want to do it again. So last weekend, I grabbed some construction paper, glue, and a sharpie market and drew a large snowman and let Jackson glue down mini marshmallows along all of the lines. He loved it SO much, and it was so incredibly easy to pull together! If you are looking for a quick, easy, and relatively mess free way to kill the time on a cold winter afternoon, this is such a fun option! Toddler bonus points because they can and will steal copious amounts of marshmallows.
4. This Jacket
Okay, so last week I rounded up a few of my favorites and gushed over this jacket. I love the pale purple color so much! But when I saw this gray fleece option, I about died. And bless my height, it comes in a size TALL. It just looks so perfect for spring, I need it!
How could I not wrap this up without mentioning that football game last Sunday!? You have truly probably never heard me whisper even a breath about football over here, but I just cannot help myself right now. If any of you were watching the game, you may have caught the announcers mentioning the Vikings and their history of missed field goals in the playoffs. Literally every playoff game they have ever been in has been lost by something silly such as a missed field goal where they end up losing by just a point. We have had our hearts broken so many times that I have stopped ever getting my hopes up. But that game on Sunday. My heart still races thinking about watching that final play. Our boys didn't know how to handle me and Mike screaming and jumping around. Lincoln immediately joined in and was flopping around like a fish out of water screaming his head off, and Mike quickly had Jackson yelling SKOL VIKINGS. It was one of those magical Sunday evenings you know you are going to remember. Win or lose the rest of the playoffs, they broke a curse with that game, and it was just so much fun to watch! 

*Post contains affiliate links. Thank you for support Stang&Co!

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Surviving Toddler Life On The Go-What's In My Bag

This post is written in collaboration with Fawn Design. All thoughts, opinions, and suggestions are solely my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Stang&Co!

We are getting dangerously close to that sweet spot with our kids. If you are a mom of young ones, you know what I am talking about. That stage where you can leave the house without double checking you have your arsenal of three bags, two outfit changes, bottles to make sure baby doesn't miss any feedings, and enough diapers to last you through the apocalypse, just in case. 
Slowly as your babies become toddlers, leaving the house becomes a little bit easier, a little bit less scary, and forgetting something becomes a bit less earth shattering. When I first had Lincoln, Jackson was only 21 months old, old enough to walk (or run away), but not old enough to be trusted if I set him down to tend to his baby brother for even a second. I remember braving the grocery store by myself on maternity leave, with a baby carrier in one arm and another who was still very much my baby on my hip. Looking back, I still get anxiety thinking about it. I love having kids so close in age, but man, were those first few months hard.

Now, 18 months into this life with two kids gig, things look pretty different. Jackson can get down from the car by himself, and listens when I tell him to put his hand on the car while I get out his brother. Lincoln eats on a schedule with the rest of us, so bottles are out and I don't have to worry about pumping and keeping his packed milk cold (all the praise hands to that one). We still have our challenges, because Lincoln most definitely likes his freedom and often equates being placed in the front seat of the cart to a death sentence. Even so, outings with our family are becoming a bit less stressful and daunting with every passing day.
One of the best parts of transitioning from the baby stage to the toddler stage has been being able to ditch the extra diaper bag and just carrying one item for our belongings. Diaper bags are great, but two straps across each of my shoulders got really old, really fast. I have been able to go down to using just one bag now, but of course I still cannot leave home without at least a few items for my little guys! This is where my Fawn Design bag is a lifesaver. It has all of the storage needs of a diaper bag, but looks and feels like a purse. I can carry it into work feeling confident and stylish (because hello, it is blush pink and it is gorgeous), and I also know when my boys are with me I am able to carry everything I need. Keep reading for some tips on how I stock my Fawn bag to handle anything life as a toddler mom may throw my way.

1. Diapers. Probably the most obvious, but while we are down to one in diapers, we still definitely need these on the go. I only keep 2-3 on hand, unless we have a full day outing planned, because we are luckily well beyond the stage of blowouts and leaks.
2. Spare clothing. We have swapped out the backup diapers with a pair or two of spiderman undies ;-) My boys are also bookends to the size 3T currently, so I like to keep a pair of pants and a top in that size on hand. In a pinch, it is a little big on Lincoln and a little small on Jackson, but if a quick outfit change is in order, it does the trick for both of them and eliminates the bulk and space that would be consumed by two outfit changes.
3. Wipes. For diaper changes. For juice dumped on the seat. For chocolate covered faces after I let the kids get a treat in the store. Just say yes to diaper wipes, always.
4. Seedlings diaper cream. We don't see diaper rashes often anymore, but I can tell you that every time I have gone somewhere without this stuff, is when we end up having a rash happen. I love that the seedlings line is all natural, safe, and smells so good compared to most other diaper creams.
5. Snacks. Are you even a mom if you don't have an arsenal of quick and easy snacks on hand at all times? We love to have granola bars and fruit snacks. These bars are small, and solid enough that they are less prone to getting smashed in the bag.
6. Water bottle (for each!) Toddlers don't like to share. I am reminded of this every. single. day. Packing one water bottle for them to share is possible one of the worst ideas I have ever had. Just make sure you have hydration for each kid (and stick to the same color and style, or they will fight over that too. Or is that just my kids?)
7. Roller Blends. I used my essential oils to make these and I have a happy blend for myself (seriously smells like a vacation) and a calming blend for the boys that I will put on our wrists or the back of our necks if things ever get tricky when we are out and about. These are amazing for helping everyone (mommy included) calm down if we have a shopping trip that isn't particularly successful.
8. A Spare Lovey. We have been working to cut back on the pacifier for Lincoln, but trust me when I saw that a baby can (and will) throw away their pacifier off the side of the cart when you are absolutely not paying attention. If we are pushing nap time, the car ride home without a lovey is just a BAD idea. I always try to have a space on hand so when things get sticky I have that comfort item to calm my little guy down.
9. A Book. Our boys are pretty beyond the stage of needing chewing toys, rattles, etc., but it is still nice to have something on hand to keep them entertained. I love to throw a book into our bag so they have something to look at in the car if they start getting restless.
10. My wallet. For obvious reasons, when we are out and about I need my wallet, always. I have been looking to downsize to something more compact, so feel free to share your suggestions!
11. A 'Mommy Pouch'. Not many things can cause of feeling of panic to set in quite like realizing I am out and about without something to put on my lips if they get dry. I leave a chapstick and a lipgloss in my bag at all times so I am never caught in a bind! In here I also throw a stain stick, medicine, and any other odd and end personal items for myself.
What are some of your mus have items for being on the go with toddlers? Life gets easier, but it certainly doesn't slow down, so I try my best to always be as prepared as possible!

Friday, January 12, 2018

Friday Favorites

Well, we had three whole days with temperatures in the 30's, but don't worry, we are back to sub-zero temperatures just in time for the weekend. Can you sense my sarcasm? Okay, good, because it is definitely there. Like I have mentioned recently, these coming weeks are my least favorite of the year. But on the plus side, it is still light outside when we get home in the evenings! Baby steps, but spring time, I'm coming for you! Even in the dreary depths of winter, I always have a few things I stumble upon throughout the week that I love to share with you all!

1. Play Kitchen
This was a Christmas gift for the boys, and I am so glad that I argued it be their main gift. Jackson had been making Christmas cookies with his play-doh for the longest time, and would actually put them on a little plate and stick them beneath his play table to 'bake them' for me. He was so creative without even having the kitchen and I just knew it would be a hit with the boys. Sure enough, they play with it SO much. Jackson puts all of his play tomatoes in a bowl to make me tomato soup, and Lincoln is so serious, and will add a bunch of items to a pot, move them to the microwave, and then move them back to the stove where he stirs them with a spoon and taste tests. Kill me now, it is so darn cute. While I love the look of wooden kitchens, we did opt to go with a plastic play set, but it comes with sound effects like boiling water on the stove top and buttons on the microwave. The boys just love it-I cannot say enough good things about it!

2. Cozy thermals
These are the most basic little shirts, but for whatever reason I think they are the cutest and have bought them for Lincoln in almost every color. They were sold out earlier this week, but it looks like they were just restocked in all sizes! If you have little guys, they are perfect for layering or alone, and hold their shape very well!

3. Lavender for Lashes
Since I started using essential oils, one of the tricks I have learned is to put a few drops of lavender oil in your mascara bottle. Not only does it help keep your mascara fresh longer, but it may help with thickness. I don't have any before and after photos just yet, but I plan on sharing too because I have definitely seen a difference in thickness in the short time since doing this trick!

4. Snow Fun
Since we definitely won't be getting to enjoy outside play this weekend, I have been looking at all the photos of my sweet boys playing in the snow last weekend. It is such a tease when we have snow but it is too cold to get out and enjoy it, so when we have those rare winter days where there is snow on the ground, sun in the sky, and temps above freezing, we absolutely take advantage and soak it up! I just love seeing how much my boys love playing outside!

5. All Things Blush
This is hardly anything new, but I am so in love with all of the pink that I am seeing in stores now that Valentine's Day is approaching and spring will follow after that. I picked up a bunch of pink hued florals for our mantle that I cannot wait to share. Target has a whole bunch of blush colored home décor out right now, too. These baskets come in multiple colors, but the pink is so pretty! I am all about throw blankets, and am wondering if I could grab this one and sneakily start incorporating pink into our master bedroom. The knit design on this pillow is so much fun, and I am dying to add this pink vase to our décor. Now if someone would share tips to putting pink all over your house without your husband noticing or caring, please share! ;-)

*Post contains affiliate links. Thank you for support Stang&Co!

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Saying Yes To Essential Oils

Well, I figured it was time I shared over here on the blog one of the big changes we have made in our household over the past six months. While we were never complete strangers to essential oils, we also never dove into them with much seriousness. I love diffusing some of my favorite scents, and my husband loved to have his deep relief roll-on to help with sore and achy muscles, but we didn't do much beyond that. And then a few months back, we decided we wanted to make a change. We wanted better for our boys. We wanted to feel GOOD about the products we were washing our hands with and soaking our dishes in. There are literally hundreds of toxins in our homes, in those products that we buy at the store, because I have always assumed if it is safe to be on the shelves of my favorite store, then it can't be bad for me. But Mike and I decided that we were taking more control over what we put into our home, and our true switch to using essential oils began.

While our home is by no means 100% free of chemicals and toxins, we have made some very easy, yet impactful, changes already. We ditched our dryer sheets (go and search what is in them-yikes!) for wool dryer balls that we add drops of lavender or purification oil to. We use Thieves handsoap and dish soap. It is so empowering to wash our dishes with something that is safe for ingestion and doesn't require a call to poison control if it gets into little hands. When we have a headache, instead of reaching for a bottle of pills we use peppermint oil. I started drinking Ningxia Red every day and have truly been blown away by how in such a short amount of time I have seen cravings (I'm talking about you, sugar) regulate and become so much easier to manage. I could go on and on, but truly, I can't imagine us going back after making these changes. I have never felt more empowered over the health of myself and the ones that I love most than I do now!
I will also be the first to admit that direct sales is not my thing. I have truly always scoffed at businesses built that way, but for me, essential oils are different. Because they work. I continue to have experiences with oils working in powerful ways that make me a total believer in the idea of using them in lieu of chemicals and other typical over-the-counter options.

For anyone who has thought about incorporating oils into your life, I cannot say DO IT enough. I have not met a single person who has started using oils that hasn't found at least one oil that impacted them in some way. It can be overwhelming to start (Young Living has over 100 different types of oils, and countless other products!), so I always tell people the best way to really get to know oils and start learning is to invest in a Premium Starter Kit. This requires you to enroll as a member, but carries no obligation to sell. You can purchase the kit once and receive the discounted rate, and in doing so you will also receive a lifetime discount of 24% off nearly all future purchases. I always tell people that if you plan on purchasing more than once in your lifetime, it is just silly to not enroll as a member! With this you receive 11 oils, which are some of the most popular and can be used on a daily basis, as well as a diffuser of your choice, and multiple samples. I also will treat anyone on my team to a Fearless book, which walks you through the starter kit and in two hours will have you knowing how to use the little box of magic that is in front of you! You will also receive access to my Facebook group, and will be invited to our larger online community where I have received so much assistance and support!
To Get Started:
1. Enroll HERE (the number 13157137 should automatically appear in the SPONSOR and ENROLLER locations.
2. Choose your Starter Kit (they begin at $160 with a retail value of over $300), I suggest the Dew Drop, and if you are considering in the investment, I am absolutely in love and could not recommend the Aria diffuser more).
3. It is not required, but enrolling in Essential Rewards is easy and it is FREE, and with every monthly purchase you make, you will receive cash back for future use, as well as free promotional items with your purchases. Eventually, Essential Rewards members earn up to 25% back on their orders (which is on top of your 24% member discount).
4. Place your order!

If you have ever thought about oils or simply have questions, I am happy to help and assist!

As a distributer of Young Living essential oils any recommendations I make are specific to this company and should not be considered applicable to other oil products. Statements made on this website about Young Living Essential Oils have not been evaluated by the FDA. Products and information shared on this website are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Anyone suffering from disease or injury should consult with a physician. If you are currently on medication, please do not stop.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Snow Day Fun

After two straight weeks of not seeing temperatures above zero degrees (I wish I was kidding), we were beginning to go a little stir crazy. I just said to Mike this weekend that, while I always feel bad when I wish time away, I always am happy to see the next four or five weeks fly by. January and February in Minnesota are just tough. Especially with little kids who don't know how to communicate when they are cold or need to go inside, it gets difficult to take them outside, or even to run errands. There is a LOT of bundling up that goes into a simple trip to the grocery store when you are dealing with temperatures that are twenty degrees below zero. But yesterday, we finally saw a break in the cold and for the next few days we will be enjoying temperatures right around 30 degrees; that may not seem very warm, but keep in mind that is fifty degrees warmer than where we were at a week ago. So, we had to take advantage and take the boys over to my in laws for some sledding! All of the cousins were there, and we had so much fun playing in the snow. Jackson quickly figured the whole situation out, and was carrying his own sled up the hill just to set off on his next run with zero assistance. Lincoln was as happy as could be being pulled in the sled, riding down on the tube with his brother, and acting as though he was going to lick the tree. Not sure why he thought that was funny, but he is my silly second child and he never actually licked it, so I just played along ;-) Feel free to scroll down below for a photo dump of our fun. We were outside for what must have been a solid hour, and all of the kids were treated to hot chocolate and whipped cream once we went back inside. It was one of those bright spots that make winter almost (maybe) bearable!

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