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She’s in a Big Girl Bed! [Shared Baby and Toddler Room Update & What I’ve learnt along the Way]

It feels like just yesterday, I was pregnant for the second time, full of that nesting energy again, and my husband and I had decided our children would room share. What was then Penelope’s room, turned into the shared nursery, and within those four walls, so many memories, evolution and growth. It’s the place where my babies rest, where they dream at night, and always in each other’s company. Their little shared room, a space that is so special to me.

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My children have been room sharing for 7 months now, and it has been wonderful. I love so many parts of it; their little chats before they go to bed, their patience with each other, especially when one has a bad night, and their happiness when they see each other in the morning (even though they’ve been in the same room all night) makes my mama heart happy. Are there nights that are harder than others? Absolutely! To me, that’s just part of being a parent of young children though. They need us through the night sometimes, and it would happen whether they were in the same room or not.

When Oliver turned 3 months old, I wrote a blog post on how the room sharing was going, and the things we did to prepare for a smooth transition. One of the things I mention on there is keeping Penelope in her crib for as long as possible.

Well…

Last week, my husband and I were surprised to hear little footsteps outside our bedroom door at 5 in the morning, and then a little voice that said “Mami”.

Penelope learnt how to climb out of her crib!

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I was not anticipating this transition so soon. Penelope is only 27 months old, and I was planning on keeping her in her crib until she was 5 (kidding). She slept well in her crib, she liked it, so why fix something that isn’t broken. But, of course, as with many things in parenthood, you may not be ready for a change, but they are, and you just have to go with the flow.

We decided to transition her straight into a twin bed with side rails, and she loves it! We bought the frame, mattress and side rails from IKEA, and since Penelope graduated her crib, we gave hers to Oliver, as her crib was nicer. Even with a larger piece of furniture in the room, it still feels as spacious as before.

The transition to big girl bed has gone much easier than I had expected, which I’m happy for, especially since I wasn’t expecting it, ha! The first 3 nights, it was as though she didn’t think she could get out of her bed at all, and she didn’t. The fourth night, once the novelty wore off, she took forever to fall asleep. She tried to open the door and leave her room, which we then closed, and she didn’t like, so she screamed and protested, then moved the rocking chair towards the wall so she could reach the switch to turn the lights on, and scream and protested some more. After a few minutes, my husband went back in (which is when he saw her standing on the rocking chair, ha!), told her it was “night night time”, and she settled for the night. The silver lining? Oliver slept through all of this! haha! One of the advantages of room sharing, you learn to sleep through A LOT of noise, ha! It’s been a little over a week since the transition, and other than that crazy fourth night, bed time routine is back to normal! Woohoo!

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I sometimes still get the “Is she crazy?!?!” look when someone learns that my baby and toddler room share, but it really isn’t as impossible as it sounds. During transitions, like a move to a big girl bed, it can be a little nerve wracking, but then I think to myself; I’m not the first parent whose children room share, and I certainly won’t be the last. The experience itself has taught me a few things along the way too, so even if we had a third bedroom on the same floor as our other two, I wouldn’t have done anything differently.

If you’re thinking/planning to have your children room share, from one mom to another…

Trust your gut. In my heart, I knew I wanted my children to room share, and I believed it would go well, and it has. They fed off our of energy that this was their normal, and that’s the way it has been.

Be Flexible and Adjust as needed. There have been times when one of them will go through periods of bad sleep (they are both still babies), and if we worried that they would wake/keep each other up, we would adjust. We’ve had nights when Penelope has slept in our bedroom/ guest bedroom in the play pen, and that’s OK. Once their sleep regulated, we would put them right back in the same room.

Babies are more adaptable than we think.  The most common question I get when a someone learns that my children room share is, “Don’t they wake each other up?”. Penelope was pretty young (19 months old) when Oliver moved into the nursery, so she adjusted easily. Oliver hasn’t known anything other than room sharing all his life, so he didn’t have a choice, ha! They fall asleep to each other’s sounds, and almost sleep better for it. Penelope has only woken up a few times when I’ve nursed Oliver in the middle of the night, most of the time, she doesn’t even hear us. Also, White Noise Machine is a must when room sharing! So, no, they don’t wake each other up at night. If they did, I wouldn’t get much sleep at night, and I like sleep.

Separate them for naps. Daytime sleep is never as deep as it is as night, so the noises that they sleep through during the night, can wake them up in the day. They used to take day time naps together, but since Penelope’s naps are getting shorter, she would sometimes wake Oliver up before he was ready to during naps, so I decided to separate them. Oliver naps in the shared room, and Penelope either naps in our room or the guest bedroom. She will drop her naps before he does, so I wasn’t too worried about her not napping in the room.

Embrace the experience. On the nights they have 30 minutes of baby chit/chat before they fall asleep, and I’m annoyed because I just want them to fall asleep already, I realize the chit chat is exactly the magic of the room sharing experience. They are bonding over their little laughs and jokes, and I wouldn’t have done it any other way. We have a third bedroom in our home, not on the same floor as our master and second bedroom, but the extra room is there. The day they request to have their own space, I will honor it, but for now, I am embracing everything that comes with room sharing… late night chats and all.

My babies are growing so fast, and so wonderfully. It’s still a little weird to walk into their room and no longer see two cribs, but now a big girl bed in there. Though it wasn’t a transition I had planned this early, at least now, I can sneak in a cuddle or two with my Penelope when I go and check in on them before I go to bed.

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The things I want to remember. xo

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Why I love Kijiji, especially as a Mom of Two under Two

My favorite piece of the kids’ furniture, is a beautiful little rocking chair I found on Kijiji. Made out of wood, it’s heavy and chunky, with little dents on the arm rests and naturally beautiful tear and wear. You can tell it’s a chair that’s been lived on, and I like that about it. The seller’s children had outgrown it, and I was so happy to find it and give it a new home. A beautiful little rocking chair, and I only paid $10 for it.

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If you’re a Canadian (mama), I don’t have to explain what Kijiji is, because chances are, you’ve used it before… many times. If you’re a mama, I also don’t have to explain how quickly babies outgrow everything, especially in the first two years of their lives. As a parent of two young children, my oldest just a little over two years old, I love buy and sell sites and children’s consignment stores.

It has saved us a TON of money.

I remember being pregnant for the first time and looking at baby items. Wow. You hear that babies are expensive all the time, but, wow! We’re an average middle class family, but I think regardless of where you sit on the income scale, when you start to shop for baby stuff, you just feel poor. Or at least I did. The list of necessary items easily adds up to thousands of dollars, and as a first time mom-to-be at the time, I wanted the latest and greatest, because for a second there, I had a little bit of “keeping-up-with-the-Joneses” (Fun fact: My neighbors are actually the Joneses #truestory).

My children don’t care about the latest trends, and honestly… neither do I.

90% of the time, my children are wearing second hand clothing or hand me downs from friends and family. They wouldn’t know it, you wouldn’t know it, and they always look pretty freaking adorable. My 2 year old and 8 month old don’t care if they are wearing the latest in kid’s fashion, and how much I pay for my children’s clothes doesn’t mean they aren’t wearing good quality items. Especially when it comes to baby clothes. There are times I have gone to consignment stores to find children’s clothes with a tag still on them! Another one is strollers. We found both a single and double stroller second hand, both in great shape and for a great price. If I was a jogger, and needed a stroller that was specifically meant for running, I would absolutely spend the money, but… I’m not jogger, ha! You get the point though. As long as it gets my kids from point A to B, is compatible with our infant bucket seat, and in fairly good shape, it was all the things I needed. We were able to find that and more.

Toys may not be new to you, but they are “new” to your children.

Baby toys are very age specific, hence don’t have a very long life. Chances that you’ll find a baby toy that is almost brand new, or in excellent shape, is high. Give it a good clean when you bring it home, and the kids will be so happy with their “new” to them toy!

The 3 R’s

In buying second hand, I’m reusing baby items and extending their life, which in it’s little way, positively impacts the environment. I like the idea of repurposing baby items as well, an idea of what you can do with old baby gates here.

A little extra cash is always nice. 

The day will come when your baby outgrows his baby items, and you will be the one getting ready to donate or sell these items. Since you didn’t spend much money on these items to begin with, you could equal your investment, or even make a little profit. If you think this sounds selfish, then you’re morally superior than I am, haha. Jokes aside, it’s part of the second hand economy which is a win for both buyer and seller. Plus, I prefer to buy from another fellow mama, and give her a little extra cash to do whatever she wants with it, like a pedicure, which all of us mamas deserve!

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My children have everything they could need, and more. Buying second hand gives me the ability to provide them that, and allows me to spend money on other things like activities, outings, travel for them.

Kijiji is one of my favorites resources to find second hand baby items. It’s easy to post and search for baby (and non baby) items in your area, and I have found a lot of little gems through it. Facebook is another great resource, with a lot of buy and sell groups you can join based on the area you live in.  Once Upon a Child is another favorite. I have bought some the cutest baby clothes there, always in excellent shape, and for a great price.

At the moment, my youngest is outgrowing a lot of the baby items his sister used before him, so we’re slowly getting ready to part ways with a lot of  items. It’s a bittersweet thing. Every swaddle blanket they broke out of, the bouncer they needed in order to nap for longer than an hour, the stroller they visited the zoo in for the first time; they all become items that carry memories with them. On the other hand, the day we say goodbye to these bulky items, with color palettes that stand out like an eye sore, and play the same 3 songs over and over again, it’s a happy day, ha. These items are also finding new homes and helping out other young families, the same way it helped us, and that makes me happy.

 

Kijiji items

 

 

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An Abstract Portrait of my Children (Play Area July 2017)

I am especially aware of how I perceive the way time passes ever since becoming a mom. When my little Oliver no longer fits a piece of clothing because his legs are too long. When my Penelope outgrows her shoes. Anytime they move up a diaper size – time.

Their play area, set up for a baby who just learnt how to crawl and a toddler who likes coloring, becomes an abstract portrait of my children at 2 years old and 7 months old Anytime they change and grown, so does this space.

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I love their little corner. Other than their shared bedroom, this play area is the only other spot in the house that is completely theirs. An eclectic backdrop of toys, lots of handmade details, and stuffed toys that were once valentine’s day gift given to me by their father, now theirs. There is something special in that isn’t there?

We don’t spend much time in this area during the summer months, but with some rain the past week, I got a chance to watch them play in this space again. RDOG0856
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As a parent, do you find yourself feeling nostalgia with things you never thought you would? I do, I am nostalgic often. All of their little toys have memories attached to them. Pepe, for example, was Penelope’s first doll. She loved him from the moment she saw him, in an IKEA hallway, love at first sight, ha! I have videos of her dancing with him when she was still learning to walk properly, because Penelope danced before she walked. Pepe is still her favorite doll. Pepe has a special place in her heart, and he does in mine too.

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Oliver’s little corner still has a mirror at floor level, the one he could see himself in when he could only roll over. Now that he’s crawling and pulling up to stand on anything he can, that mirror will soon be gone, but I wanted to capture him playing in that area with the mirror still there one more time.

In this area, I watch how they play together. Oliver is Penelope’s little copy cat. If she’s reading a book, he wants to read too, if she’s in the little canopy, he wants to be there too. Perhaps the reason the second child usually does everything sooner, as he’s trying to keep up with the oldest. It’s a bittersweet thing, but I love that he sees Penelope as his teacher. As with any siblings, they are starting to have their moments of frustration towards each other. The time they both want the same toys, or when Penelope gets a little tired of him following her around, or when Oliver tries to walk like his sister, but he can’t. Regardless of their dynamic, it’s wonderful to watch them grow, and learn through play, with their little corner as their stage.

I pulled out my camera, and without any interventions, watched them play. Like a fly on the wall, I just watched. Their play, their interactions, their little conversations. The things I want to remember forever.

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How to’s for the DIYs in their play area below:
Wall Art 
Nature Mobile 
Umbilical Cord Shadow Box 

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The Handmade / DIY Wall Art for Play Area

Whether it’s a hand written letter, a scarf you knitted yourself, or wall art you made with your children; there is something quite special about the handmade.

Materials:

  • Branch
  • Color Paint
  • Large piece of white paper

Directions: Squeeze paint onto various spots on the paper, and using the branch as a brush, let them explore.

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The handmade isn’t instant, and in a world where everything moves so fast, and “time consuming” is a bad thing, not- instant is a great quality. Crafting takes time. There are steps, there is a process, and within that process, moments to practice patience and imagination as one stops and makes changes along the way. It offers moments to slow down and to experiment, again and again.

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With a 2 year old and a 7 month old, “slowing down” sometimes seems impossible to achieve, ha! When we’re making crafts though, I see it. Using simple materials – branches, a large piece of paper, and paint – the kids are happy and entertained for 15 -20 minutes. Penelope experiments in the ways she moves the branch to mix the colors, and in the process, the most beautiful textures and color made. Oliver still quite young, finds more wonder in the branch itself, examining the leaves, and trying to eat them, ha! Perhaps I’m a little biased (I have a Fine Arts degree), but I hope my children find making things with their hands therapeutic like I do, and if not, that they remember the moments we sat down around our kitchen table, creating moments to enjoy the process of making things, of spending time together, of slowing down, and of creating beautiful things with our hands.

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A lot of firsts for the first of the month

Happy new month! The year is going by so quickly, my little family of four feels like the normal I’ve had my entire life, and my little guy is already half way to a year. It’s moving faster than I can keep up with; so many firsts, so many moments, so many memories. We just got back from a short vacation we took to visit my husband’s family who live two provinces away. It was lovely to travel, I missed it and definitely want to do more of it this summer. We got to spend time with family and friends, time outside exploring. We laughed, we ate lots, we didn’t sleep much (sleep when travelling with young kids is always interesting, right mamas? ha!). We felt loved, and we’re back home with a happy and full heart.

In honor of the first of the month, a few firsts from this trip that I want to remember.

  • First successful 14 hour road trip with 2 young kids #majorwin, haha!
  • First time both my babies traveled on a plane.
  • First time my little Oliver met two new provinces in Canada.
  • The first trip with Penelope after potty training…and no regressions and very few accidents!
  • Penelope slept on a floor bed for the first time this trip, and it was also the first time she got out of bed and tried to stall before bed time, ha!
  • A lot of family meeting my Oliver for the first time, and he was such a flirt and stealing everyone’s hearts with his smile.

I am back home feeling super inspired, full of ideas, and with so many projects I want to complete and explore. It’s a happy, happy time!

Happy New Month! xo

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DIY Cord Shadow Box/ Placenta Encapsulation (Postpartum Series)

When I was pregnant for the second time, I knew I wanted to do whatever I could to help make the postpartum period easier, especially since I knew I would be taking care of a newborn and a toddler this time around. Placenta encapsulation was one of those things.

I had heard about placenta encapsulation in my prenatal classes, from some friends and my midwife, but didn’t actually go ahead with it for my first pregnancy. Second time around, I knew I wanted to try it. I did some research on it, and the benefits sounded like something I would want. In a nutshell; helps with post labor recovery, replenishment of iron levels, increase in milk supply and can help with postpartum depression.

I’ve recently started to wean off my placenta pills (I am 4.5 months postpartum) and from my experience, I would definitely recommend it. Overall, I feel the pills really helped, especially during the first two weeks postpartum, which to me, are always the hardest. I felt really great given I was getting little sleep, recovering from labor, and taking care of two little people. My milk came in faster and my supply was stronger. In terms of my mood, I was less stressed and happier (this could all be because it was my second time around too), and in my husband’s words “I was nicer” (haha). I didn’t experience any hair loss, until I started to wean off them…that’s why I’m still sort of taking them.

The encapsulation service was done by a local doula, so if you’re thinking about it, I would start looking there. The service can be a little bit pricey (around $200 or more), but the benefits, in my opinion, were definitely worth it. The service included pick up of the placenta, encapsulation, drop off and a little umbilical cord heart shape keepsake (which I loved!).

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It’s so incredible to believe the things I’m emotionally attached to since becoming mom; I still have the positive pee tests for both kids, their fallen baby hair in an envelope, and I’ve had Oliver’s heart shaped cord and both Penelope and Oliver’s stump saved for what seems like forever. I know, I know-  I’m THAT mom.

It’s amazing to believe that the cord was what kept my little babies alive in my womb, so special. I finally got around to doing something with the cord and stumps, a little DIY below, and I absolutely love it how it turned out.

Did you do anything with your placenta? I would love to hear your experience!

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Breaking the Rules

We had a wonderfully busy weekend. Play dates, game night, visits with family, walks, and just the regular house stuff that needs to get done. My favorite moments though, were the quieter ones.

I’ve been breaking the “rules” lately.  During the kids’ midday nap, I have been taking turns bringing them into my room to have their nap with me. Normally, they would be happily taking their naps in their own cribs, in their own room, but something inside of me just yearned to hold them close while they slept. Most of the time, when the kids are in mommy and daddy’s bed, it’s anything but wind down time. Penelope will be jumping, singing, wrestling with Daddy. Oliver will be laughing, nursing distractedly, giggling at his crazy sister, and happily kicking away. It’s anything but relaxing and quiet (haha).

Not this weekend.

This weekend, I held my children while they napped. I felt the warmth of their little bodies, the dampness of their breath on my skin, and the weight of their bodies surrender onto mine. I was so beautiful.

It got me thinking about rules. As a parent, I give my children rules and boundaries and all the freedom they want around these rules. It gives them security, but also a sense of how the world works. As a parent, I also feel there are so many unwritten rules (ok, some are written) that I feel I have to abide to. No eating food on the couch. No having dinner in front of the tv. No candy, no sweets, I could go on. No one actually tells me I have follow these rules, but you just feel like you have to, or at least I do did. Perhaps it’s a second time mom thing, but I am more confident in the parent I am and in MY rules. If one day, we have dinner in front of the tv, that’s fine. If they have too much ice cream one day, that’s fine. If they nap in mommy’s bed one day instead of their crib, that’s fine. At the end of the day, balance and moderation is key, but we have to live too.

Do I intend on napping with my kids every day? Probably not. But, at the end of the day, these are my rules to break.

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We’ve Been Walking…

I haven’t written much lately. A little bit is me over thinking about what I want to write about (I have a lot of half written posts, ha!), but mainly it’s because I’ve been outside…

Spring is officially here, and we’re taking full advantage of it. The days are longer and warmer, and it’s feels like I’m out for walks whenever the kids aren’t napping. It’s been lovely, and a glimpse at what a wonderful summer this is going to be, with my little family of four ( and Una).

Penelope’s personality is flourishing. She is c-r-a-z-y, full of energy, but so. much. fun. She’s a comedian like her father, and always finds ways to make us laugh. Sometimes she’s running away from us full speed (and jumping on every puddle), and sometimes she needs both Mommy and Daddy to hold her hands while she’s walking. I, of course, favor the latter. Her shoes are on a constant rotation of drying in the sun, because she doesn’t care what shoes she’s wearing…she’s jumping on puddles!

Oliver, oh my sweet boy. He’s such a pleasure. I’ve said this before, either it’s a second baby thing, or just his personality, but he really is the most patient, content, adaptable and happy baby. I didn’t even know he was teething, for crying out loud, he’s that chill! ha! He is happy either being worn or in the stroller for his walks, but always actively observing. Sometimes he naps during our walks, and those are my favorite moments, just looking down to see my sweet boy sweetly resting on my chest.

The fresh spring air, the wonderful sun, the walks with my family, it really is food for my soul. It motivates me and gives me so much energy to do things. I don’t even know what these things are, but I just want to do things! haha! Even writing this post just came so much more organically and quickly than the posts I’ve been working on for a few weeks (and I will finish those too, haha), but for now, just a few thoughts and some pictures of my family, and what we’ve been doing lately.

Happy Spring xo

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Gabriela

I picked up my guitar yesterday after months, maybe even years, of not playing it. I didn’t put it back down for the rest of the night. Today, I feel the familiar calluses forming on my finger tips again, and I smile because I am so happy .

I used to play guitar all the time. I loved it. Playing again for the first time in a long time sent me on a nostalgic journey; every song to a different memory of me and what I felt like at the time. It reminded me, of well, me. The part of me that existed before being a wife or a mother, the part of me I’ve forgotten a little lately.

As a busy mom to two little babies, it’s easy to put myself on the back burner. Over the past month a half though, I have been working to change that a little. I have started this blog, I have gone back to yoga, I am writing in my journal more, I am playing my guitar… doing things that nourish the part of me that is neither wife or mother.

I am a wife, I am a homemaker, I am a mother, and my family are my world and happiness.

I am something else too.

I am Gabriela, a simple, but definitely not ordinary, woman with long black hair, playing the guitar in a beautifully lit room, and I am so happy. A self portrait of who I am today.

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