It's a boy! Welcoming Oliver Hayes!

Better late than never! We’ve had our hands full for the past 4 months after the delivery of our son Oliver Hayes. Oliver was born 8 lbs. 2 oz. and 20.5 in. on October 11, 2018 at 11:29am. He has been an absolute joy and we love him so much. Hopefully I’ll have time to share his birth story soon between bonding with him and keeping up with our busy toddler. For now, here are some photos of Oliver and his growth over the last 4 months.

Memoirs of a SAHM: Patience is a Virtue

2017 came and went. While I'm still getting used to the fact that it's already the start of a new year, I am perplexed with how much has already happened in the past 2 months. As much as we wanted to ease our way into the new year, we've been busy working, attending various baby events, traveling, hosting visitors, celebrating birthdays and participating in a couple of photoshoots (for our little amateur baby model). Amidst it all, however, we've been challenged with the much anticipated toddler tantrums. That's right, everybody. IT HAS BEGUN.

Do you remember grade school emergency fire drills? The toddler tantrums in our household are much like that. Stop, drop, and roll! I'll give you a real life example: Zachary wanted to open something that simply does not open (a bluetooth speaker that was already playing music). She asked me to "open" it for her as if it were a box, with something inside. I tried to explain and show her that it doesn't work like that and it cannot be "opened." Zac literally tosses the speaker, drops to the ground, and rolls around fake crying. I have to admit that sometimes the cry has tears, but more often than not, she forces them out. It is quite the performance, actually. 

Although that example was ultra-specific to something a toddler her age cannot understand, these tantrums can be triggered by things she does understand. Like wanting to chew on straws, spitting out her drinks, or opening drawers and cabinets after already being told not to do those things. Because these are all things she knows she shouldn't do, she looks me right in the eyes, mischievously right before she does them, probably thinking to herself,  "I'm not supposed to do this, huh? Bwahaha! Watch me!" 

Some days are rough when you are a stay-at-home parent. Especially when the tantrum consists of the unacceptable, occasional hitting. The frustration can be extremely draining when you are with your kid all day and night. On one hand I feel so tired of being upset with her, having to repeat myself over, and over again. On the other hand I feel bad for being mad at her because I know that she's a young and doesn't always know any better.

Because this has been going on for awhile, I've finally started to find things that work for us. I wanted to write this out in case anyone else finds these tips helpful.

1. Don't say "Don't"

This is something I learned from my teacher, Michelle when I took a kids yoga teacher training at It's Kids Yoga. When you say "Don't touch that!" or "Don't jump!", kids often don't hear the "don't", so they do the exact opposite of what it is you want. What kids need are reasons and instruction. So rather than saying "Don't touch that." you could say, "You might get hurt if you touch that." Instead of screaming “Don’t run!” Saying “Please walk so that you won’t fall down.” In our household, because she’s so young, I’ve settled with what I know she understands. Zac knows exactly what it means to get an “owie”, so one of the phrases I usually default to is, “You might get an owie if you touch that.” There’s nothing she hates more than an owie. 

2. Child proof the house

I noticed that most of the times I’m frustrated with Zac is when it involves her safety and getting her hands on things she’s not supposed to, like climbing up stairs or opening cabinets. It occurred to me later that if I could prevent the frequent “No’s” (eg. no running, no touching, etc.) then I’d be a much happier parent and she, a much happier toddler. I eliminated the constant “no’s” by simply childproofing with things like baby gates on the stairs and kitchen, using electrical outlet sockets, and adding silicone pads to sharp corners. Of course, it’s not the only solution for dealing with busy toddlers, but it was a great first step.

3. Be patient

This one is an ongoing project of mine. It requires a lot of deep breaths, prayer, attention and understanding. Some people may or may not know that I work part-time from home in addition to being a full-time stay-at-home-mom. Patience can wear thin when you are trying to meet deadlines and feeling completely distracted when your kid is in need of attention. I constantly have to remind myself that my child doesn’t even realize I’m working, so she’s not purposely trying to interrupt me. In fact, I’m probably disrupting her routine when I have to catch a team meeting or put in several hours at a time. So learning to just get through the hard days with empathy has been a process and a wonderful learning experience.

Eczema, eczema, read all about it!

Lately I've been getting a ton of direct messages, emails, and comments about how I keep Zachary's eczema under control. I love getting messages like this, because it makes me feel even more united with other mommas, knowing we are going through so many of the same things. With that said, keep the questions coming because I really don't mind. Since so many of you have asked, I will explain how I keep Zac's flare-ups to a minimum. You can see what triggers her allergies in a previous post I've written here.

Happy skin, happy baby. Photo by:  Greer Rivera

Happy skin, happy baby. Photo by: Greer Rivera

Tackling Zac's Eczema:

1. Bath every other day

Although water is great for moisturizing skin, it can also really dry it out. Skin produces natural oils throughout the day and if you are constantly washing it off, the result can be drier skin. We give Zac baths only every other day to make sure her skin is well-balanced.

2. Use whatever soap/shampoo that works

I used to buy "specialty" and/or organic soap, hoping it would help Zac's skin. I tried Aveeno Shampoo and Wash, Aquaphor Shampoo and Wash, Cetaphil for babies, Honest, Burts Bees, Babyganics, and other miscellaneous, random hippie stuff. The last thing I tried when all those products did not make much of a difference was, dun, dun, DUN... Johnson's & Johnson's Baby Head-To-Toe Baby Wash. It's super affordable and works so well for Zac. No wonder it's been around for so long! It smells great too!

3. Always pat dry

As soon as Zac is out of the bath, I don't dry her off with a towel. I take her out of the tub, wrap a towel around her, take her over to our bed, pat dry just a bit and start applying moisturizer on her semi-wet skin. Applying the moisturizer on damp skin helps to keep the skin extra dewy.

4. Favorite eczema moisturizer ever: AVEENO BABY ECZEMA THERAPY NIGHTTIME BALM

You guys! This moisturizer has changed our life! It helped Zac's rough, dry and itchy skin even when it was at it's worst. This is what I apply when her skin is still damp from the bath. I am super liberal with it and apply it everywhere.

5. Occasional hydrocortisone

I mix either 1% hydrocortisone (you can find this over-the-counter at any Target or drugstore) or her prescription 2.5% hydrocortisone. I mix it with a bit of the nighttime balm and apply to those problem spots during flareups. 

6. Oatmeal baths

I only do this on occasion for extra irritated full body flareups. For example, if she ate something she is allergic to and is scratching everywhere on her body, I use the Aveeno Baby Eczema Therapy Oatmeal Bath. This helps to calm it down to help her sleep a little better. Luckily, I haven't had to do this in months.

7. Trim & file nails

Pretty much a given. We use FridaBaby NailFrida. Long nails cut skin and harbor bacteria. Keeping baby nails short helps to minimize raw, bleeding flareups. 

These tips were not a prescription from her pediatrician. They are things I did on my own that has worked for Zac. I have heard great results from those who I have given this advice to, and I hope it's helpful for anyone who has been looking for a new regimen. Of course, it is important to talk with your own healthcare provider in regards to your own child if you have doubts or questions.

Better late than never

Christmas has once again come and gone. I had completed all my Christmas shopping (wrapped up and all) back in October and felt so accomplished. Here I am almost 2 months later, sitting next to a dried up Christmas tree and watching as the babe tosses around all her brand new toys she received as gifts as if she's had them forever. Over the past two weeks our mailbox had been flooded with Christmas cards from beloved friends and family, as a constant reminder for us to do the same. As we geared up to travel down to SoCal to spend the holiday with family, my to-do list consisted of one thing: send Christmas cards. We had planned on using some professional photos we had taken in September during one of our Hawaiian vacations. We figured it was a bit dated, but we knew there wasn't much time. When we touched down to my hometown, we busted out our laptops to draft up our card. Realizing that a dear friend down south happens to be a very talented photographer, with fingers crossed we sent her a text hoping she'd be available. To our surprise, she was! Without hesitation I Venmo'd her straight away and we were booked for December 23rd for a quick photo shoot at the Anaheim Packing District

She was extremely professional, fast, and so much fun to work with! It was such a joy to see her in her element. After knowing her for so many years, and hearing of her growth in both her profession (speech pathology) and side hustle (photography), I felt so proud to see her in her creative environment. Not only was she able to capture memories of my family in a pinch, but they were even better than we had imagined. Not to mention a same-day edit! So, shoutout to Nikki! Can't wait to see you continue to advance in all that you do. You da best!

Here's a few from the shoot:

And thanks to Postable, we were able to send out our Christmas cards later that night. Thank God for technology! Here's what they looked like. 

I hope that you all had a wonderful (and successful) Christmas holiday! 

Memoirs of a SAHM: Growth Spurts

I haven’t posted in awhile but I’m taking this opportunity now while Zac is literally in my arms, finally napping, as I’m rocking her in our glider. I felt an urge to vent about how growth spurts are a real struggle. They’re  a lot like tangled yarn. It’s like no matter how patient you are, trying to remove all the little knots, it somehow gets worse and much harder to unravel. Every time you think you’ve got it and it’s almost done, it appears as though you never even started. As one knot loosens, another one begins. This is my life right now. 

Not every nap looks like this, but when it happens, it’s so, so sweet <3

Not every nap looks like this, but when it happens, it’s so, so sweet <3

Here's an example of what this growth spurt looks like. One moment Zac will be cheerful and singing, and seconds later she’ll be in tears. Then she’ll rub her eyes and act sleepy, and as soon as she lays down to nap she becomes a chatterbox. As a result of a lost nap, she’ll be grumpy and fall down to the ground at random times, upset that she’s sleepy. When it’s time to eat she’ll take a bite, smile and show us the sign language for “eat more.” As the spoon enters her mouth, she’ll hit it out of your hand and furrow her eyebrows. Then when you try for a second attempt, she’ll gladly take it. Like I said, tangled yarn. 

To be fair, I’m more sensitive because I definitely have more on my plate these days. The feelings I share come from a place in which all things are magnified. For the past few months I’ve been involved in a little side hustle (let’s face it, I got bills to pay), but it’s becoming more and more apparent that being a full-time SAHM and also part-time working parent is a freakin’ challenge. I’m being tested every single day. 

Growth spurts mean a hungrier, more curious, clingy (to me), extremely active, running, singing, tantrum throwing, super sweet, yet mischievous, teething toddler who would rather play than sleep. What keeps me sane is the app Wonder Weeks.  I highly recommend this app! It has helped Leejay and I feel like we are not alone and that Zachary’s behavior is completely normal for her age. Her little brain is getting filled with so many new things and she's really trying to process everything. I can't even imagine how hard that can be for a baby. But, DUDE. Sleep deprivation is slowly making its way back into our lives.  Just a week ago, she was going to bed at 7:30pm and waking up at 7:40am (like she has been doing for months and months). This week she suddenly hates her crib and even if we are able to put her to sleep in it, she wakes up crying and screaming for one of us around 3:00am. It takes a over an hour to get her back to sleep unless we give in, of course, and allow her to be in her Dock-a-Tot (Grand) in our bed just so that we can a get a couple more hours of sleep. We’ve been spoiled by her 12 hours nights for so long and are really trying to adjust to all of these changes.

And, hey, maybe all of this is a result of our recent trip to Hawaii and the time change is to blame for some of it. I don’t really know and I can point fingers all day at pretty much anything just to find a valid reason. But I know that this is temporary, and it feels good to be able to jot it all down and get these current frustrations out of my head. I know that there are a TON of other serious and devasting things happening in this world today, and I am humbled and blessed to be where I am, to have a roof over my head, to not be negatively swayed by the media or physically affected by the natural disasters and hate crimes happening in our country. 

So I write this for the mommas (and poppas) who feel like me. The burn, the exhaustion and the frustration, because it’s okay to feel it. But this is also written to encourage and remind us that we are extremely, without a doubt, blessed for the ability to be with our littles everyday, to protect them and teach them as much as we can as we watch them grow in a world like the one we live in today. We get to be an example of strength to them when days are hard and when things get scary. To show them that no matter the circumstance, faith and love is of utmost importance. The burn, exhaustion, and frustration of parenting is nothing compared to the gift of parenthood itself.

Cheers to all the 1-year-olds being 1-year-olds around the globe. I can’t wait to see what you all grow up to be.