NMC: Oh Happy Day

Today's New Mom Confessions are from Jessi who blogs at Oh Happy Day. Jessi and I knew each other in college and it's crazy to see how far life has taken us! She's now blessed with two little munchkins, Noah and Everly. She recently started her blog to encourage young moms to "choose joy every morning," and provide a realistic look at the messy reality of motherhood. Beyond her blog, you can find her hanging out on the three greats, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. 

Hello Oakland Avenue Readers! My name is Jessi and I'm pretty new to the blogging community, so I'm super excited to be sharing here on Laura's blog today.

My husband Matt and I have been married seven years this summer. I’m a stay-at-home mom to our son Noah, born in July of 2011, and our daughter Everly, born in August of 2013. I would consider us still "new" to parenting and definitely still struggling on how to parent a strong-willed toddler. While my kids are such a joy they are most certainly exhausting, and some days I have to remind myself often that they are a blessing. Below are some of my confessions as a parent. Thanks so much for reading!

  • Everly's new chew toy lately is her already-been-used nose syringe. The kid thinks its a teether, and I usually just let her play with it as long as it's been cleaned recently.
  • Lately I've found myself putting Aquaphor all over Noah's boo-boos. He think it's magical medicine that immediately relieves his pain. So far it works.
  • Often I blame my children for food stains on my clothing, but really they are just from myself.
  • I've been known to eat food off the floor while cleaning up after my children. Things like grapes, blueberries, those sorts of things. Kinda embarrassed I just admitted that one to the worldwide web. 
  • I usually try to multi-task while brushing my teeth, which just results with me walking around the house with a toothbrush in my mouth for 10-15 min. trying not to drool. When will I learn to be patient and just single task?
  • Noah always makes me feel like an artist when he asks me to draw something for him. He's so impressed with my abilities to draw houses, cars, and trucks. Give the kid a couple years and I know his artistic abilities will outgrow my first grade drawing level, but for now I feel like Picasso.
  • Almost always I manage to shower every day. Some days after I shower I’m guilty of putting my pajamas (t-shirt and leggings) back on.
  • Often times if I don’t have an answer for Noah or don’t have to the energy to do something he wants, so I tell him we’ll “have to wait for daddy to get home.” This one usually buys me a little time. 
To see all the posts in the New Mom Confessions series, click here. If you have a blog and would like to share your confessions on Oakland Avenue, email me for the details!

Holding My Coffee In Both Hands

I tend to be a morning person. I love waking early, having alone time when the house is quiet and still. Ever since becoming a SAHM, I find myself looking forward to going to bed, just so I can wake up early. It's weird, I know.

But like most pregnant ladies in the first trimester, I found myself sleeping in as late as I could until Eli woke up, and even then leaving him in his crib for as long as he was happy until I drug myself out of bed. Now that I'm 17 weeks, for the most part, I'm out of those terribly sleepy days, and while a nap is always welcome, it's no longer required to make it through the day. I find myself waking early once again, waking one, two, even three hours before Eli does. (Lest you think I'm getting up too crazy early, he's been waking around 8 or 9 a.m. for the past two weeks. Also, please don't hate me, as I've often been told, I'm sure I will repay this blessing tenfold with the baby in my belly and you can laugh at me then.)

I get up, shower - well, let's be honest, I shower every three days so I normally sock bun it up - get dressed and head straight to the coffee maker. I find my happy spot on the couch, (True confessions: I have to rotate the cushions quite frequently so it's not too obvious where this happy spot is.) put my feet on the coffee table and settle in. I hold my coffee with both hands, slowly waking up, praying, thinking and being.

Is is just me, or does anyone else find that they are much more patient and productive during the day when they've had a bit of time to themselves?  I never realized how much I needed this time until I lost it in that first trimester. I find that because I've had some time alone, I'm more ready to invest and be intentional with Eli throughout the day. I've had time to organize to do list, spend time in this little corner of the internet, and have a quiet time with the Lord while slowly enjoying a cup or two of coffee. I've found I'm so much more patient with little hiccups and setbacks, and I'm not nearly as distracted when Eli wakes and is ready to go.

Two hands on a coffee mug is a small thing, but I'm amazed at what a big difference it makes.

*I actually wrote these thoughts a few days after this post about balancing productivity and laziness - and how "me-time" each day isn't a right, and I realize it may sound like I'm talking out of both sides of my mouth. So I just want to say, while I find it easier to be more intentional and industrious when I have this time, it doesn't give me an excuse to not be patient and productive when I don't get it. It just happens to make choosing my attitude during the day easier. Kapeesh?

To The Moms Who Have Walked This Road Before Me: Thank You

I think I can say on behalf of all first-time moms, we're all pretty insecure about this gig. The deer-in-the-headlights look is plastered on our face 24/7 and just when it finally goes away, something changes and that all too familiar look shadows our eyes again. We waffle between all the emotions, worried, prideful, scared, confident, ignorant, hopeful, terrified, fearful and more, and there's no telling what state you'll find us in on any given day, let alone minute.

But thank goodness for those moms that have gone before us. Veteran moms, you talk us off the ledge and take our emotions in stride. You give us hope when we can't find any, and show us the next step to take when we can't even see the path. While books, the internet and our mother's intuition can teach us a lot, there's nothing like the help, empathy and advice given by a more seasoned mother. And I just want to take time to thank you today on behalf of all first-time moms.

When we look at you, you're our hope that things will get better and that someday our lives will be bigger than just well-checks and pacifiers and swaddles. You teach us to not freak out and gasp when our child hits their head, but to laugh and clap instead so they don't cry. You make minivans look cool - and prove that a three-point parallel park job with a big rig can be done. (Even if it was in five points, who's counting?) You confirm what we've always wondered deep-down - that parenting books are written by a bunch of robots who've never actually parented in their life. You tell us where the best baby sales can be found, and how to stack coupons so you never pay more than $5 for a pint-sized t-shirt. You calm our fears about our baby's reaction after shots, remind us that breastfeeding isn't always a guarantee, and teach us that a runny nose isn't the end of the world.

You prove to us that people can function well on little sleep for long periods of time (Dare I say years?), and teach us about Target's free cookies, when to size up on diapers, and what apps to download for the plane ride. You swap birthing stories with us, welcoming us to the club with a big 'ol birthing badge of honor and the most delicious meal we've ever tasted delivered right to our door. And even though our husband doesn't understand them, you confirm that ugly cries are totally understandable.

You show us the joy in having tea parties in the living room, making semi-accurate truck noises in the kitchen and that reading the same book aloud 3,000 times in a row is totally worth it. You show us how to remain calm when we're out and there's no changing table to be found, water for our formula or private place to nurse because we're still learning and haven't quite mastered our technique yet. You teach us which sippy cups to buy, how to decipher the great big world of carseats, and that a trip to Starbucks can always turn the day around.

You show us first-hand what it's like to love your child without bounds, unconditionally, irrevocably, forever. You prove to us that going through hard things with our children can be done with grace, love and compassion, and is just apart of life. You teach us how to be an advocate for our child, to take interest in what they're interested in, and to how to be their biggest and loudest cheerleader in life. You show us how awesome it looks to be on the other side someday as a grandma, and make us hope and wish that someday, we'll get that chance too. You remind us, over and over again, that motherhood is one of the best things that could ever happen to a woman, and that raising a child well and who is loved is one of the best and biggest accomplishment one will ever make in life.

You make us want to keep going on this motherhood journey even when we're in the deepest of trenches.

So thank you. Thank you for blazing the trail, lighting our path and being an example. Thank you for your constant encouragement, problem-solving skills, and ability to laugh and cry with us. We can only hope that someday we can pay it forward as our journey continues on, and that the advice and support you showed to us can be passed on to the next group of first-time moms.

So if you haven't heard it enough already: Thank you.

Pssst. Want to see if you're the winner of the Give It Pretty giveaway? Just click over here. Thanks to all who entered!

Eli's Glasses - Frequently Asked Questions

Thanks so much for all of your support about Eli's glasses! My Instagram post announcing them got almost as many likes as the fact that he's getting a new sibling in December - now that's saying something! Since the blog post, we actually saw an additional pediatric ophthalmologist to get a second opinion. Thankfully he had a similar diagnosis, although he also added one hour of patching a day and  told us that he wouldn't count on Eli's vision ever "fixing" itself, like the first one told us. That said,  I've received quite a few questions about our experience and navigating the world of eyeglasses with a child that can't speak. So here are answers to a few of the most frequently asked questions I've received. 

How Do You Tell If Your Child Needs Glasses?
Hands down, the number one question I get asked when people find out my child needed glasses  at 14 months is, "How did you know?" It's a valid question, I mean Eli only had a few words in his vocabulary, and they definitely didn't include, "That picture looks blurry." For us, we noticed that one of Eli's eyes wandered a bit and a pediatrician noticed as well, referring us to a pediatric opthalmologist. But did you know that the American Association of Opthalmology and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that all children have their vision checked at three months, between six months to a year and at the three and five year well visits?

I had absolutely no idea this was the recommendation and while my pediatrician checked Eli's eyes at each visit for major signs, often some of the signs are not apparent or don't reveal themselves during the short window of time a well-visit allows. Eli's eyes had been turning for about five months, but the pediatrician never saw it until 14 months since it only happened at certain times of the day. And because neither Mike nor I wear glasses, we just assumed our child wouldn't need them, especially not as a baby, so we actually never signed up for his work's vision insurance - which means a preventative-care assessment to have Eli's eyes checked wasn't even on our radar.

While it was no question as to whether or not we'd take Eli to the eye doctor and pay for anything and everything he needed, my cousin and fellow blogger Nicole tipped me off to a wonderful public health program, InfantSEE that offers comprehensive infant eye assessments between 6 and 12 months at no cost. All you need to do is type in your zip code to find a participating provider. Oh how I wish we would have known about that program - and the fact that you should have your child's eyes checked starting at three months!

*Please note! It is normal for a child's eyes to cross from newborn to three months. It's after three months that this becomes unusual and reason for concern.

How Does The Ophthalmologist Check A Child's Eyes?
The second question we receive is, "How did they know what prescription Eli needed?" We actually went to two different ophthalmologist to check Eli's eyes. We heard from a lot of people it was a good idea to get a second opinion, not only to be sure you're comfortable with the actual doctor, but because it can be difficult to check children's vision it's nice to have a confirmation. I'm so glad we did get a second opinion, even though the diagnosis was fairly similar from both ophthalmologist, the experience was night and day at each one. Part of it was likely just Eli's mood, but I also think one doctor seemed to be a bit gentler with Eli and also seemed to check for more things.
While I'm no expert, I'm a big question asker, so here's what I know about how the ophthalmologist actually checks a child's - that can't follow instructions - vision. (Also, please note, it's likely much more complex than this!) When you arrive, a nurse will dilate the child's eyes with eye drops and then you hang out and entertain your child in the waiting room for anywhere from 20 -30 minutes while you wait for the eyes to dilate. Back in the exam room, the ophthalmologist uses a toy to check the child's eye movement, watching both eyes together, then covering one at a time to watch them individually. To check for a prescription, the ophthalmolgoist uses a retinoscope on the eyes, which is a small handheld instrument that shines light into the eye, watching for movement in the retina. They then take lenses and put them in front of the eye, testing different ones until the movement stops - which provides the prescription (pictured above).

The full appointment takes about an hour, the actually exam taking only about 10 minutes. From there it's talking with your doctor about the diagnosis, entraining your child, and depending on the diagnosis, heading over to a children's eyewear shop to pick up glasses.

What is Eli's diagnosis?
Both our ophthalmologist were wonderful doctors, and thankfully, we received similar same information from both of them. Eli has accommodative esotropia, which means his eyes were crossing (we thought it was just his left eye, but it's actually both) because of the effort he was putting in to focus his eyes and see clearly. The more farsighted a child is, the more the eyes cross. If it's not caught early enough, often the vision can be permanently reduced in one eye. For now, Eli is wearing glasses to allow his eyes to relax when focusing, which reduces the crossing. While the ophthalmologists were in agreement for the glasses prescription, one of the ophthalmologist also suggested we patch Eli's stronger eye for one hour a day, which we're now doing. If glasses don't fix the crossing, surgery is an option. Children can outgrow accommodative esotropia, although one doctor predicted Eli would in about 10 years, the other doctor said he wouldn't count on it ever happening.

How Do You Get The Glasses & Patch To Stay On? 
Eli actually took to his glasses really well. This was one of the things I was most concerned about going into the diagnosis, but it only took about three days for him to begin to wear them consistently. When we had him trying on glasses at the eyeglasses shop and when we had his actual glasses fitted, Eli would have none of it. It was a battle and he cried a lot (below).

But when we brought him home and it was just Mike and I around, Eli was much more calm. There were moments with lots of tears of course, but we distracted him a lot in those first few days, going to the mall, the park and other places with lots to look at, and we intentionally distracted him at home as much as we could - interacting with him pretty much the entire time he was awake. We also tried to reduce how often we "messed" with them. If they were dirty, we just let them be until there was a natural time to clean them, such as taking them off for a nap. We found that if we touched them, he'd remember they were there and want to pull them off.

When he did tug at them, we always tried to remain positive, wanting his glasses to be a good experience. So we'd just reposition them with a smile. Eventually this switched to him playing with them, and thinking it was funny when he pulled them off or had them on crooked. So we soon had to use a more firm, yet gentle voice to remind him that glasses are not toys and while he still messes with them once or twice a day, I'm not concerned, he's just a kid.

We also tried to be very consistent with having him wear them the entire time he was awake. As soon as he woke up, even before I picked him up from the crib, I put on his glasses and they were the last thing I took off before naps and bed. The only time he doesn't wear them is in his carseat, which the eyeglasses provider warned me not to do. I did try it a few times and every time they came off and became a toy.

After just a few days, Eli seemed to start to want to wear his glasses, and would point to them when he woke up. We truly believe he realizes that they help him to see. He's much more interested in books and TV then he ever has been before, and instead of flipping quickly through a book, we find he's studying each page, looking at everything much more slowly and intently. I even once caught him starting at his hands and turning them over and over in front of his eyes - you know, like a 2 or 3 month old does? I really think he was finally seeing them clearly for the first time! Before glasses, Eli also wasn't walking, something that was beginning to become a concern, but after a few days with glasses he began to take steps more confidently and initiate walking short distances on his own, rather than always needing to be prodded to try. And as of this past weekend spent with four very mobile cousins, I'm so proud to say that he's walking fairly consistently!

The patch was a little more difficult to keep on. Eli doesn't seem to like how it feels and seems to notice the reduced vision. When he pulls at it, we just gently pull his hand away, saying, "Let's leave your patch on!" with a happy voice and a smile, then distract him. Since he only wears it an hour a day, it's not too hard to watch him like a hawk during this time and keep him happy. I try to plan it for when we're home, yet still busy with something, or on a walk. I'll be honest, he gets a lot more stares when he's out and about with it on then with just his glasses, so I just try to avoid that to protect him.

What brand of glasses and patches do you have?
Glasses: Eli's glasses are Miraflex's rectangular frames in grey. They're great for kids because there are no metal pieces or hinges and are pretty much unbreakable. So far, we've been very happy with them.

Patch: Because Eli only wears a patch an hour a day, and doesn't care what it looks like, we use these plain ones from Nexcare. But if he needs to wear it when he's older and has more of an opinion, I've heard good things about Ortopad, which has gender-specific patches with cool designs.

If you have any other questions, I'd be happy to answer as best I can!

Oh! And if you're just starting down the road of having a child in glasses, I'd recommend taking time to check out the website, Little Four Eyes. It's a great community of parents who have children in glasses, patches and more, and is a wealth of information. In addition, they ave a very active Facebook group, Little Four Eyes, that is super supportive and helpful with any questions you might have. I found both these resources to be comforting and encouraging, particularly when Eli was first diagnosed and I had no idea what we were doing.

*Sorry for the poor iPhone pics, I took these more for personal use (sharing with family) not realizing how interested everyone would be in his glasses - and of course, I was more concerned about being there for Eli than snapping a good pic. 

psssst. Have you entered the giveaway for the gift wrap kit from Give it Pretty? Today's the last day, don't miss out!

NMC: Moe Talks A Lot

Today's New Mom Confessions are from Moe (Melissa), who blogs over at Moe Talks A Lot.  Moe recently moved to the great state of Minnesota in January, and her blog has slowly morphed over time to writing about design, DIY, thrifting and making their new house into a home. And of course, her adorable son Wade makes quite a few appearances as well! You can find more of Moe hanging out on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. 

Hi! I’m Moe of Moe Talks a Lot where I blog about interior decorating, DIY, and renovating our first home – all on a budget. I love thrifting, painting and cooking. In a former life I loved running and reading too.  Creating feeds my soul – usually it’s home d├ęcor, but technically I created Wade, right?! … and he feeds my soul more than anything. Ever. Oh, Moe, stop the cheez.

Here are my confessions:
  1. I use the same nicknames for my kid and my dog. Whatever rolls off the tongue. Sweetheart, monster, bug, goose, prince (even though my dog's a girl, haha!).
  2. I use blankets as Kleenex. In the car, on errands, when stuck motionless with a sleeping babe. They’re like ginormous handkerchiefs. Don’t worry, I always washed them after.
  3. Wade’s a charmer. I left the DMV the other day and six people waved goodbye to him. We were there for 10 minutes. I pretend that I’m as charismatic as he is, but really I have no idea where this came from.
  4. I turn on cartoons every morning and put Wade facing away from them so he thinks someone’s in the room and I crawl back in bed for a few more minutes. I tell myself that playing by himself is important.
  5. When I run errands without Wade I notice myself inserting the fact that I have a baby into the conversation – cause my cashier needs to know or cares. But he’s become part of my identity and (no. 3) he’s way more fascinating than me.  
  6. I don’t change Wade’s clothes until they’re dirty. Sometimes he’s worn the same pajamas (aren’t most baby clothes pajamas) for almost three days. Now we don’t make it until 10 a.m.
  7. I love looking in on Wade when he sleeps. Sometimes I do it 5+ times a night (before I go to bed, I’m not crazy enough to wake up and look!) to see his different positions. Husband and I frequently sneak down the hall and stand so our heads are stacked and peek in on him. He’s woken up a handful of times, but it doesn’t deter us.
  8. I talk to Wade all the time. I tell him what I’m doing, what he’s doing, plans for the day, ect. Doesn’t matter if we’re at home or out. People think I’m crazy. Heck, Husband thinks I’m crazy.   
  9. Amendment to no. 7, I’ll wake up in the middle of the night and get an off-putting feeling and think my mother’s intuition is telling me to check on Wade. I lie in bed and try to logically tell myself that he’s fine, but it gets me every time. Cause, what if. But the only thing that ever happens is he smells my milk and wakes up.
  10. Last one. When Wade was born I wasn’t immediately ‘so in love’ (isn’t that the posh thing to say when you announce on FB and such?). I felt so much duty and responsibility for this little man. But I didn’t feel immediate love. It took about a month. Now sometimes my heart skips a beat and I get choked at absolutely nothing cause he’s so precious to me.
To see all the posts in the New Mom Confessions series, click here. If you have a blog and would like to share your confessions on Oakland Avenue, email me for the details!

DIY Wrapping Paper + A Giveaway!

This giveaway is now closed. The winner of the gift wrap kit from Give It Pretty is Becca Jensen! Becca, please check your email for a note from me!

After getting married and having a baby in the past few years, I haven't had to wrap a gift in a long time because I keep just working through our massive gift bag stash. But I'm now four years in from our wedding and I recently noticed my stash is diminishing (particularly for bags that are not light blue with bears on them), which means I'm going back to wrapping paper. 

At first, I was a bit bummed, I mean bags are just faster and way easier to conceal irregularly shaped objects. But no more. When my dear friend Kim, from the Etsy shop Give It Pretty connected with me about trying one of her gift wrap kits, I jumped at the chance. You see, one of her main products is not just regular wrapping paper, it's chalkboard wrapping paper. And if you know anything about me, it's that I have a love of anything chalkboard. 

And also Fritos. I love both equally. I must be fair here. 

Check out this paper, isn't it pretty? 

I couldn't resist first trying out a few of my chalk colors on it. I have to be honest, I'm not sure I believed it would work all that well, but I was totally wrong.

I had the chance to test out this wrapping paper a couple times before pulling together this post - the first was for a going-away gift for a friend of mine and her husband. They're moving to Portland and while I'm thrilled for a free-place to say when I finally get to visit that city, I wish she didn't have to live out there permanently. Maybe just like a sweet vacation home or something, that'd be nice, right? 

Anyway, a few friends and I pulled together to throw a surprise going-away dinner party for her and her husband, and I did a little chalk art on her gift, and used the bakers twine and gift tags that were sent in the gift kit from Give It Pretty. 

I'm sure hoping you all know what state that is. 


Just in case it wasn't clear. 

For her gift, we gave her four gift cards to popular restaurants (according to Yelp) in Portland. She and her husband love trying new restaurants and we figured this would be a great way to get them acclimated to the city. 
But wrapping gift cards in a cool way is tough work. So I took an old Saltines box (Pregnant, remember?) and cut up about a billion pieces of cardstock into tiny strips, and then accordion folded each and every one-of-'em. 

Eli also helped to tear a few of them up. So helpful, my boy. 

Then we stuffed the "confetti" in with the gift cards in the box and no one would be the wiser that it's just a ton of paper inside. Except for maybe the fact that the box weighed about a half pound total....

For the second present, I wanted to do something personal for Mike for Father's Day and get Eli involved, so I fell back on my trusty finger-painting activity, but instead of cards, Eli "made" the wrapping paper. Originally I wanted to just do handprints. You know, super cute and frame-worthy adorableness - but this boy would have none of it. 

I mean, I don't understand why my 14 month old wouldn't follow directions and reason perfectly. 

After attempting to smoosh his hands down on the gift in a nice, orderly, neat fashion, (See the blob in the middle up there?) Eli went rogue and all hope for my Pinterest-perfect gift was gone. 

So we rolled with "abstract art."

I'm so happy that I have still have lots of this chalkboard paper left. It makes loosing my gift-bag stash way easier because this kind of wrapping paper is way more fun to give than a store-bought gift bag! I can see a million different ways to decorate it going forward and I'm sure you can too - which is why I'm so excited to announce that one Oakland Avenue reader is going to win one of these kits from Give It Pretty for themselves!

Here's what you need to know to win.

RULES: You must be at least 18 years old and have a shipping address {no P.O. boxes please} within the U.S. One entry per email address.
TO ENTER: Use the widget below!
DEADLINE: Enter before 12:00 a.m. CST on Tuesday July 22, 2014. One random winner will be announced Tuesday, July 22, 2014.
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