Friday, September 30, 2011

A new creative itch

I've been really inspired to get more crafty these days. I think it's a mixture of enjoying crafts with a child who is now old enough to work with crafts supplies and an addiction to all the pretty things on Pinterest.  I've been working on some DIY home decor projects at home that I hope to start sharing shortly.  E and I have been doing a lot of painting and crafts lately, including this children's scrapbook I shared yesterday. 

I thought it would be fun to share my love of children's crafts with other parents in Ottawa.  Join me on Kids in the Capital today for the first post of my themed monthly craft carnival.  This month we will be crafting with leaves and you don't need a blog to participate - so please join in the fun! 

Click here to read on...

Thursday, September 29, 2011

"You Are Loved" Children's Scrapbook

I've been wanting to make E his own little photo album since he was an infant.  One of his favourite first books was a board book of baby faces. I loved seeing his reaction to their facial expressions and listen to his squeals of delight with each page turned.  As he grows older he loves pointing out and naming the people in pictures on our walls and going through his baby albums.  As much as I love showing him his photo albums, I've put a lot of work into making them nice and I want them to last many years.  I decided to make him his own photo album filled with friends and family and that he can hold and love all he wants.

"You Are Loved" Children's Scrapbook

Supplies:

Package of heart shaped cardboard
A binder ring
Scrapbook paper
Mod podge
Scissors
One-hole punch
Markers
Stickers
Pictures

I picked up most of my supplies at Michaels Craft Store and also had some on hand already from previous projects.

The first step was to trace the hearts and cut out the scrapbook paper. Next we mod podged the paper onto each side of the hearts.  After the paper was set I cut out the pictures of E's loved ones to size.  Loved ones include his parents, grandparents, cousins and godparents.  I have so many more hearts to make in the future to include his aunts, uncles, friends and day care provider too! The pictures were mod podged onto the hearts and then I let E loose with his stickers.  Well, kind of.  He would have preferred to put a sticker on top of each persons face, but we came to an agreement that on each of their shirts would suffice.  I was really proud of him for picking the stickers out for each page.  He surprised me by picking stickers of tractors for his farmer Grandpa which was really cute.




Once he was happy with all of his sticker selections I trimmed the edges of the hearts to cut off any excess scrapbook paper.  Next I one-hole punch the top of each heart and attached the binder ring.


Ta da! A quick and easy scrapbook for E that he can enjoy and wear out as much as he wants. It currently sits on our coffee table and I have been enjoying watching him pick it up and recite everyone's names and the stickers they are "wearing" on their shirts. He is so proud of his very own photo album of the people that love him so dearly.

This post was created in participation with Dionna at Code Name: Mama and Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children's "Families, Create!" Carnival. This month's theme is Friends and Family.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Recipe: Toddler Approved Avocado Salad Dressing

Suddenly, I have a 2 and almost a 1/2 year old that LOVES salad.  I never thought I would hear a toddler asking me for more salad, please!  He has always picked away at some Caesar style salads I have made (dairy free), but I have finally found the perfect blend that has him clearing a whole plate of salad.  And it's really healthy too!


Toddler Approved Avocado Salad Dressing

1 avocado
2 tbsp olive oil
1 small clove garlic
1 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tbsp fresh parsley

Add all the ingredients to your blender and voila! you have one very healthy dressing that hopefully your children will enjoy too. 

I serve it pre-mixed with chopped iceberg or romaine lettuce, diced carrots, diced cucumber, diced tomatoes and diced yellow pepper.  This has been E's favourite combination so far and what we had for dinner last night, topped with grilled chicken breast. I didn't realize how proud I would be in watching my child eat and love a salad!

I found it has taken him until now to learn to chew the limp parts of the lettuce leaves properly without choking, so ice berg lettuce was crunchy enough to get him started.  He still prefers the spine of the romaine lettuce because of the crunch factor.  He loves garlic and other strong spices and flavours, so adjust these ingredients to your child's liking. 

I have been using avocado in place of mayo in many recipes now including tuna and chicken salads. I also tried an avocado chocolate pudding that E loved (me not so much, but it wasn't terrible).  Any more creative salad or avocado recipes for children out there?

Monday, September 26, 2011

Singing a different tune

We don't have a cookie cutter life. We rarely sit around the table for dinner as a family. More often than not family outings consist of just me and E.

It has made me angry, sad and frustrated. I've cried many tears. This is not the life I planned and dreamed of. But this is our life and I must live it to the fullest. The life I was given. I could wallow in self-pity. I could sing "Oh, woe is me".  But otherwise life is good. Pretty great actually.

We love each other and our child. We have the same goals and visions. We share an equal amount of responsibility to our family. We need to make sacrifices and both play our parts in making our goals a reality.

I pass off the questions and ignore the judgements. I'm learning to accept. I'm learning to make changes to the things I can. I'm finally singing a different tune.

***

I'm joining Capital Mom today by blogging about a moment from my life based on a theme she has provided. This week’s Monday Moment theme is Singing.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

There is always something to be grateful for

Amanda from Let's Take the Metro started a Gratitude post link-up every Saturday. She writes, "I'm writing a weekly post to express gratitude for everything I have been blessed with in my life. Will you join me in sharing just five things you are grateful for this week?" So here I am, week to week, reminding myself to be grateful.

This week I'm grateful for:

1. Being a small part in a friend's wedding and enjoying an evening with friends.

2. E's new words and phrases that make me smile everyday.  This week is the word "hilarious" and he often uses it out of context.

3. Second hand clothing and children's consignment clothing sales. I got a huge bag of fall clothing today for under $50!

4.  Learning to accept and embracing new beginnings.

5. Great friends that I can share everyday ups and downs with.

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Thursday, September 22, 2011

Fall Inspirations

I've been touring Pinterest a lot lately, looking for ideas for Fall decor, food and activities for E.  And man, am I hooked! There are so many things I want to make and try...

I've been getting pretty crafty lately with E and would love to try some of these.


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And the food! I'm especially liking all the apple and pumpkin treats!


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Pumpkin Dip

Caramel Apple Pie
Pumpkin Spice Pancakes
I really want to make a wreath for our front door.


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 There are so many small ways to bring Fall into your house!

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How are you getting into the spirit of Fall? 

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Accept and Change

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I have a hard time accepting things that I don't agree with or feel comfortable with.  They may be well out of my reach, but I still feel like they must change.  I guess you could say I lack serenity. Not being able to accept unfavourable situations leaves me stressed. My mind is never quiet - always thinking of how I can change it or fix it or how it should be.  In my mind, if something is broken - you fix it.  You don't suck it up and deal with broken down parts and you don't leave it for dead. You make it right. But sometimes these things are out of my control and I need to learn to accept the things I can not change.

My strength lies in my courage to change things that I can.  I can change my outlook. I can change my unhappiness into happiness. I can change many things to help me through these tough situations. It is tough and it is a battle and my courage can only take me so far.

My wisdom to know the difference seems cloudy. Can I change these things or do I need to accept them?  Do I put up with it or stop it? It's a constant back and forth.

I think too much about how it "should be". Says who? I think it is from my upbringing and Catholic roots. His way or the highway. I am slowly learning that there is no perfect right way and wrong way to living. What I need to concentrate on is how I can make things work for me and my family, rather than how a family "should be".  It is constantly at the back of my mind and in my dreams.  Dreaming of the perfect life isn't going to take me anywhere.  Accepting the things I can't change and changing the things I can't accept, will. Onwards and upwards.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Celebrating

This weekend I attended the wedding of a close friend.  I was also honoured to have been asked to do a reading at the ceremony (and was happy to have completed the task without tripping up the steps or fumbling my lines). 

It was an amazing celebration with many friends and family in attendance.  We enjoyed great food, great dancing music, lots of tears and lots of laughs - some of the many reasons why I love weddings.  Seeing the bright smile on my friend and celebrating the love on that day between these two friends is something I'll never forget.

All the best to the happy couple!

I'm joining Capital Mom today by blogging about a moment from my life based on a theme she has provided. This week’s Monday Moment theme is Celebrating.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Potty Training: Trained (I think)

I think everyone has a different definition of potty "trained". Is it when the child tells you that they have to go to the bathroom? Or is it when they take off to the bathroom by themselves? Is it when they can pull their pants down by themselves? Is it when they only wear underwear, even at bedtime?
E is trained in my mind.  For two weeks now, he has been exclusively wearing underwear all day, except for naps and bedtime.  I had been quizzing and waiting on Mrs. X's readiness. It was her preference that E wear pull-ups throughout training until he was ready to make the step to underwear. She preferred we wait to make sure he was ready - because there would be no turning back. 

A couple weeks ago I asked her how she thought he was doing and any advancements she would like to see before making the collective decision.  All along I was keeping him in underwear or naked at home so I knew he was ready. We decided that last week, when the big kids went back to school and her house quieted down a bit, we could take the next step.

The transition to underwear at Mrs. X's was postponed to this week since he was sick and home with me.  So far this week at Mrs. X's he had one accident on Tuesday and an-accident free day yesterday (hooray!).  I am really proud of him and how relatively smooth this has gone so far.  I was worried that the transition to telling someone else other than his parents that he had to go to the bathroom, would be a tough one. 

So what worked for us?

A fellow blogger suggested a potty training calendar. I downloaded and printed off a Dora the Explorer one that E fell in love with. 


The days on the calendar didn't really apply at his age; he just loved being able to pick a sticker out to place on the piece of paper.  I taped the calendar to the front of the cabinet door in the bathroom and it was what he asked for every time he entered the room. In my last post, I mentioned that I didn't think stickers would cut it.  I am quite surprised and pleased that I avoided any type of sugary treat.  I think the key factor was having a variety of stickers. We have a sticker book filled with stickers of dinosaurs, bugs, trucks, sports equipment, planets and rocket ships, etc. I'm not sure the sticker route would have worked if he got the same ol' gold star each time.

I do know there will be accidents from time to time, but I believe after these two months he has a great foundation and understanding.

My big boy is 28 months and potty trained! (I think).

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Parenting my toddler through play

Welcome to the September Carnival of Natural Parenting: Parenting Through Play

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have shared how challenging discipline situations can be met with play. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

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Parenting my child through play came naturally to me.  I remember my Mother using games to help us complete our chores.  I also learned to use the ol' - I'll time ya! - trick on my younger siblings growing up.  I learned quickly that making everyday tasks fun made them not only go by quicker, but made them less painful. It was only natural for me to develop a healthy playful parenting relationship with my own child.

These are a few playful ways I parent E:

I sing a lot around our house.  I have a clean up song, a teeth brushing song, a bath song and a face washing song.  Hubby thinks I'm crazy, but E loves it and I don't have a child that squirms and shouts when wiping his face off after dinner or pouring water over his head in the bath.  Now, at 28 months, E is old enough to know the words and sing along too. Singing about the specific tasks at hand helps distract him from any negative feelings he may have.

We normally walk to the park that is about 10 minutes down the street and E happily skips along, but coming home is always a challenge.  I've recently started a red light - stop, and green light - go, game on our walks back to distract him from leaving the park and making the walk home much quicker.  He is happy to race me and call the shots and a bonus - he is practicing his colours and rules of the road.

Normally, when I'm making dinner E will happily play around me and will often play with the alphabet  fridge magnets. He recently started a habit of throwing them onto the floor and leaving them behind.  Instead of scolding or demanding him to pick them up, I offer him a game of who can pick them up the fastest, or picking out the colours or reciting the letters.  Taking the time to engage with him in an activity makes the clean-up much fastest than nagging or scolding him into putting them back on the fridge himself.

E is a very sensitive child. We have to be very careful not to over react and to be in tune with his emotions.  While some men might say he needs to toughen up, I believe sensitivity is a good thing and it is our duty to help him understand and feel comfortable with these feelings.  One thing we practice is talking about our feelings and asking him how something makes him feel.  A playful way to help him understand is when we stand in front of the mirror and practice our mad, sad, happy, etc faces and relate them to a situation that happened that day. It's a great way to recap the day and it can get pretty silly!

These are just a few ways I incorporate play into parenting E rather than demanding actions from him. I am comfortable with our playful, mindful and loving relationship.


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Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

Monday, September 12, 2011

So much fun together

E is on the mend from his bout with croup last week.  Today was his last day home with me before we get back to our regular routine.  I would have sent him to day care today if it was only based on his croup symptoms. His cough has almost diminished and he is only left to beat a runny nose. But from either the medications or the lack of a proper diet since he had such a poor appetite, he became constipated all week.  This morning he was in pain and extremely cranky and I couldn't drop him off in the state he was.  Thankfully, late this morning he cleared that hurdle and I got my happy little boy back.

It was a really busy weekend for us.  Too many commitments, too much running around. I became frustrated too many times. E was cranky and testing my limits. I could feel myself losing my patience one too many times. Today, was just what I needed and maybe E knew that.

This afternoon we headed out for some sunshine at the park. Essential items today (because they are different everyday) included our dog, a ball for the dog, a ball for E and a mini hockey stick.  We wore the dog out first on the grass and while he grunted and laid on his side from exhaustion, we headed to the tennis courts where E likes to practice his slap shots and stick handling (no joke).  After a lot of passing and a couple scraped elbows we headed to the play ground.  The play structure is meant for 5-8 year old's. E is completely fearless and instead of taking the stairs he climbs up the monkey bars and it freaks me right out, but I don't let him know that. I let him go ahead, staying near in case he slips. Up and down the slides doesn't seem like it will ever get old, but soon enough we headed to the swings.

Our park just got brand new baby swings and he is excited to try out "the new black ones". He asks me to push him really high. As high as the clouds he says.  "Higher, Mommy, higher!" he says as I push him as high as I am comfortable with. It gets to the point where the swing has a little jump to it at it's highest point.  Too risky for my liking, but he asks to go higher still.  We see three different airplanes fly over us and he wants to reach up and touch them.

Soon the swings are old news and we start to head back.  We grab the dog and pick up our toys.  To get him moving I ask him to race me to the gate of the park. He lasts maybe five steps and falls down dramatically to show off how exhausted he is.  He yells for me to stop and I come back to pick him up.  He walks beside me closely and in silence.  As we near the exit to the park he pipes up and says, "Mommy?". Yes, honey, I reply. "Mommy, we have so much fun together, right Mommy?".

A combination of the most well spoken and heartfelt sentence I have ever heard my 28 month child say and the end of a trying week caught me so off guard. I leaned down and wrapped my arms around my baby boy and squeezed him like I have never squeezed him before. 

Yes, buddy. Yes, we do.

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I'm joining Capital Mom today by blogging about a moment from my life based on a theme she has provided. This week’s Monday Moment theme is Arms.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Enjoy the little things in life...

Amanda from Let's Take the Metro started a Graditude post link-up every Saturday. She writes, "I'm writing a weekly post to express gratitude for everything I have been blessed with in my life. Will you join me in sharing just five things you are grateful for this week?" So here I am, week to week, reminding myself to be grateful.

This week I'm grateful for the little things in life:

1. A Hubby that will come rescue me at the drop of a hat when my car dies. A strong Hubby, at that, that can push my car while in neutral out of the gas station where I am stuck with a crying, coughing child in the backseat and cars honking around me.

2. The ability to laugh about our small life misfortunes.  And to know we will get through these tough times, because we always have.

3. That this week's croup is the worst of E's health. We are so fortunate to have a healthy child.

4. For the extra time I could spend with E this week while he was home sick.

5. The library and the mounds of books we went through this week.

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Friday, September 9, 2011

Summer of Awesome Wrap-up

Summer of Awesome, hosted by Turtlehead


Wow, has it really been almost two months since I listed all the things we wanted to do this summer? I need more time!

This summer was so busy with both Hubby's and I's work schedules.  I practically worked through my vacation while E was home from daycare.  He quickly learned how to play musical swivel chairs around my workplace and whose office to raid to find the sports equipment and toys.  But we did manage to get out and knock a number of things off our list.

Lynn over at Turtlehead started this Summer of Awesome project and it is just what I need to motivate me to schedule in some family fun.  I didn't knock off as much as I would have liked this year. More often than not, we would just head to the splash pad for a morning or afternoon, which was just fine with us, but I love being a tourist in my own city.


We made a last minute decision to go to Valleyview Little Animal Farm one day and we had a blast. I wrote about that adventure here and it was also featured on Kids in the Capital, here. We are planning on visiting Ray's Reptile Zoo this fall. In the end, we kind of failed in the Animals & Zoo department this year. All the better for him to enjoy zoo's next year as a 3 year old!

We went to the Canadian Museum of Nature and I wrote about that adventure here. That's one place I don't think E will get sick of and I especially love that they have free admission Thursday evenings. I can't wait to take him to the National Art Gallery and to see Maman this Fall.

We visited the Calypso waterpark and I wrote about that here.  We also made it to 5 different splash pads in total this summer.  We haven't made it to Saunders Farm yet, so I am guessing we will just wait for the Fall season. We also played a lot of baseball and soccer in the park.

We went to a friend's cottage and camped out.  I was hoping to camp again this summer, but we ran out of time.  We went for a hike at Mud Lake and I'm looking forward to our upcoming hike and picnic in Gatineau. 

We went to the Carp farmers market with a friend and picked up some great stuff. I especially loved the corn on the cob and E was a fan of the fresh grapes and chocolate macaroon and the visit to the splash pad after. We were able to enjoy a few Sunday's at Landsdowne Farmers Market and many trips to the Parkdale market. I was also spoiled and brought home lots of produce from my brother's organic gardens each time I visited.

We clearly have a lot more exploring to do. Thanks Lynn, for your encouragement!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Croup

I had big plans for this week.  It's September, after all. Summer is coming to an end and although no one in my family is heading back to school, I have an overwhelming sense to get back on track with resolutions and schedules just like the beginning of the new year.  But it hit us like a ton of bricks. The croup.

Saturday evening I heard a few bark-like coughs come from E's mouth and made note to pump him with vitamin C on Sunday to prevent a oncoming cold.  Sunday we spent the afternoon at my brother's with family and E was his usual active self playing soccer and jumping on the trampoline. On the drive home, however, he told me his "tummy was sick" and started a sick-like whine.  Before bed he coughed and coughed. I put the cool air mist humidifier on in his room and he slept for 12 hours without interruption. I thought we were in the clear.

Monday was to be spent, just the 3 of us, enjoying some sun and an activity outdoors. Instead we spent the whole day inside with a clingy sick little boy, barking with seal-like cough.  The evening was worse, coughing so much he had a hard time catching his breath.  He went to bed just fine, but within a few hours I heard him start a coughing attack and I rushed in to find him almost choking for air. I turned his head and sure enough, he threw-up.  We brought him in to our bed and he has been joining us in the middle of the night every night once the coughing attacks start and continue for the remainder of the night.

We went to the Doctor's office as soon as it opened Tuesday morning.  I knew this was more than just a cold and felt as if he might need antibiotics.  I didn't want to risk continuing with the homeopathic medicine I have at home just in case is was more advanced like pneumonia or bronchitis. He was diagnosed with croup and we picked up a dose of antibiotics and puffer (thank goodness for medical insurance with the hefty price tag).

Wednesday he woke up fine and since I was feeling guilty about not being a work I got ready and decided to try him at day care.  The drop off didn't go as planned and he was upset even thinking about his Mommy leaving and had a coughing attack.  Mrs. X and I decided he wasn't ready and while he would survive there, it wasn't fair to a sick little boy that just wanted his Mommy.

The cough doesn't sound as fierce now, but the coughing attacks still exist.  If he doesn't improve by next week, I'll have to take him back in.  Having him on these medications kind of worries me. I'm trying to do my best to avoid medications and find natural remedies.  I've been keeping the windows open, keeping him elevated and keeping the cool mist humidifier running.  In the evenings, I have been taking him for a walk in the stroller to help him breathe in the cool air.  I can't get him to drink warm water with lemon and honey like suggested by some friends, but the homeopathic syrup (Boiron Stodal) is honey based and seems to help a bit.

There's nothing worse than feeling helpless when your child is sick.  I just want to make him better. I almost feel guilty for letting this happen to him.  It's silly, I know.  But I'm his Mother. I am supposed to protect him.  On top of this motherhood guilt, I am feeling enormous guilt from work (from myself, not my colleagues).  I should be manning my department this week while one colleague is on vacation and the others are overseas.  I feel like I am letting everyone down. And to make matters worse, I'm starting to get a tickle in my throat which was bound to happen with a child coughing in my face 24/7.

Here's hoping for a recovery and a fresh start next Monday.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Because when you stop and look around...

Amanda from Let's Take the Metro started a Graditude post link-up every Saturday. She writes, "I'm writing a weekly post to express gratitude for everything I have been blessed with in my life. Will you join me in sharing just five things you are grateful for this week?" So here I am, week to week, reminding myself to be grateful.

This week I'm grateful for:

1. A full house of family and friends for my parents wedding anniversary. Chatting with cousins and aunts and uncles.  Eating great food. And for the chance for E to spend some time with his little cousins.

2.  Re-connecting with a childhood friend who is expecting her first child.

3.  One simple phrase the E has learned and tells both of us when we are away from him for any amount of time - "I miss you".

4. A fridge full of organic vegetables from my brother's gardens and the Carp market.

5. Robert Munsch books. They are so fun to read and and act out. We've been having so many laughs over them lately.

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Friday, September 2, 2011

Reaching out to a new mother

As a new mother I was stubborn.  I thought I could do it all. I wanted to be Ms. Independent. I was comfortable in this role for so long, why wouldn't it apply to Motherhood?  I soon found out that it is tough and really lonely trying to do things on my own. Yes, Hubby was there and was supportive and helpful, but I still felt very alone in my journey. I didn't have any friends going through the same thing and Hubby's friends clearly didn't understand. I felt like no one understood me, but then again, I never gave them a chance to.  I didn't want to burden my friends with my life struggles and daily happenings as a mom on maternity leave. 

I certainly had the "baby blues" in the first few weeks and would cry at the drop of a hat. Man, it was tough. It was something I hadn't really prepared myself for. I had read so much about how to birth naturally and tackle breastfeeding, I didn't take recovery and healing myself seriously enough. Mentally and emotionally, that is. Physical recovery came easily for me.

I soon realized that I needed to get out of the house and meet other mothers and make new friends that "got me". It was a struggle, but I met new friends and had playgroups and Mommy and Baby classes to look forward to.  I am proud of myself for throwing myself out there. Hubby was surprised by my new confidence. I was always so shy and awkward when meeting new people.  Not then - my sanity depended on it.

Here's the thing. There is a huge lack of support for new mothers out there.  I think people don't want to pry or feel uncomfortable asking questions. They assume you are over the moon joyful when you come home with baby. And as a new mother you try your best to look that way.  Truth is, it can be overwhelming and mixed messages are constantly being thrown your way.  It's hard to shut negative stories out and just follow your gut. You feel like you have no idea what you are doing so you just keep trying what you think might be working.  You need to be mentally tough to persevere through struggles like lack of sleep and breastfeeding. 

Usually the first thing people ask you is how the baby is sleeping.  They nod and agree that, yes, lack of sleep sucks.  They ask you how often baby is nursing or if the baby is a "good baby". And that is usually where it ends.  I remember just waiting for someone to ask me a more detailed question just so I could dive into all the insecurities I had and just let it all out.  I needed a release. I needed to talk about it.  But other than a few phone calls to my Mom and some good cries to Hubby, I mostly kept it all pent up inside. Smiling along. Ms. Independent.

So I've been through all that.  I know how it feels.   And that is why I feel like it is my duty to reach out and support new mothers.  To truly listen to them.  To ask them questions.  To engage with them.  To support them in the right decision for their family.

Here's another thing. It is hard reaching out.  You don't want to overstep boundaries.  You don't want to sound like you think you know it all.  Maybe that person will be offended that you think they don't know what they are doing?  Maybe that person will think of you as just another person with opinions?  Maybe that person won't listen or won't return your email?

It is really hard making yourself so vulnerable. What do you say? Sometimes it was just nice for me to hear that other mother's have gone through the same thing and that I was not alone. This is what I base my discussions with a new mother on.  I can usually find a similarity in how they are feeling to how I felt and give them an example of how I got through it. 

I've had a few discussions this year with a handful of different friends that are new mothers.  Some struggling with breastfeeding, some struggling with babies with exhausting sleep habits, some going through teething phases, some going through the last trimester of pregnancy and dealing with all sorts of apprehensions about birth and life as a new mother.  And for the most part, I wouldn't have known if I didn't ask.  I wouldn't have been able to lend support. I wouldn't have been able to help them if I didn't reach out.   It makes me sad to think that otherwise they would have all these thoughts going on in their head (much like I did) with no one to bounce them off of. But it also makes me happy.  Happy that my emails or phone calls were well received. Happy that I was a, even if tiny, part in helping them get through something.  Happy to help ease their mind.  Proud to be there for them now and again if they ever need support. This is my way of giving back and paying forward.