Very Bloggy

http://verybloggy.com/

Making motherhood work in the concrete jungle.

What's the best part of raising a family in NorCal?

What's the biggest misconception about living in NorCal?

What do your kids love most about living in NorCal?

What's your go-to snack for your kids?

Very Bloggy Beth

Fresh fruit. It's easy, healthy, and I know my son will eat it. Luckily, I live in California where we can get a decent selection year-round.
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What's the best age for starting a family?

Very Bloggy Beth

This is such a personal decision. But, I do feel like you should aim for your mid-20s. You do SO MUCH changing, growing and maturing in those younger years, I find it difficult to believe you truly know yourself and what you want for your future at such a young age. But, that really is just my opinion. We weren't ready until our 30s, but that doesn't mean others aren't ready early. Just have a stable home life and the financial means to start a family.
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What do you do when it is hard to get your child to eat?

Very Bloggy Beth

My son is mildly picky, and he also eats a lot less when he's not going through growth spurts, so it can be frustrating. But, his preschool teacher's philosophy is that it's only our job to put the healthy food in front of them. They might eat it, they might not. It's important for us to let them figure out their own tastes, and to know their limits. I have found that since I took this approach, he eats at mealtime (vs. wanting to snack all day) and he tries new foods. He usually doesn't like them, but he tries them, which is what's important. I don't want food to be a debate in our family like it was in mine.
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What is the best place to raise children: city, suburbs, or a rural town?

Very Bloggy Beth

I think this depends on personal preference; what you're comfortable with. Personally, I'm partial to urban life. I think it teaches kids a lot of life lessons. They grow up learning about diversity, culture and individuality. Not that a small town can't teach these things, but I think an urban area provides more of these things. I grew up basically in all rural towns, and at a certain age I figured out that I really didn't like it. I never felt at home in a rural area. It's a mystery to my family how I turned out to have such an urban soul, but I really do. And some people are just more rural souls, and I totally get that.
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When does a child stop taking daytime naps?

Very Bloggy Beth

This is one of those things that you can really let your child take the lead on. When my son was about 18 months, he resisted the afternoon nap. But, we kept making him take one for a while. Bedtime shifted a little later, gradually, until one night we found ourselves fighting to keep him in bed at 11pm. And it dawned on us: it's the afternoon nap. So, we stopped forcing it. And now, there are days he could still use one, but if he's not napped and awake again by about 1:30 or 2, we'll have that issue at bedtime. He gets 12 hours of sleep at night, so he's not deprived at all. He's almost 4 now, and it's very rare that he falls asleep in the afternoon. But, he has peers who are still taking a full afternoon nap and going to bed at a decent hour. So, all kids are different and you just have to tune into what your little one needs.
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Should you scold your toddler for whining or crying?

Very Bloggy Beth

I feel like a tantrum is stemming from very powerful, very raw emotions, like anger, frustration, confusion and fear, which kids don't yet know how to process very well. Their brains don't work like ours. The feelings could even be linked to something that happened earlier in the day, or even days before. Our preschool gives parenting classes, and they've taught us to "connect" with the child, actually put your hands on them, and make eye contact with them, and let them talk, really talk, about what's up. If they're flailing and trying to hurt you, you wait it out. It sounds exhausting, and it is at first. But, it truly works, and future tantrums are shorter and easier. Basically, parents should come to terms with the fact that whining and crying are just a part of having a toddler, not something that needs to be "dealt with". As long as you're not overly permissive, i.e. giving them whatever they want, then they will outgrow it.
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Do you use time outs or another method?

Very Bloggy Beth

We used them briefly, but it didn't take long to realize they don't work well for our son. When he's in trouble, he prefers to sit with us and talk with us about what happened. I think a child put in time out feels unfairly isolated. Often, young children don't fully comprehend why what they've done is wrong, yes, even if you've told them not to do it a million times. They need (and deserve) a full explanation, and a more concrete punishment if the situation really warrants it. I have also heard accounts of children putting themselves in time outs to get out of doing homework, chores, eating veggies, etc. Obviously it's not working for those kids. If time outs are working for you, then use them. I don't find them to be effective, nor do I even think they count as "discipline". All you're doing is putting them in a corner to sit and stew with their angry and confused thoughts.
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How do you handle your child's' aggressive behavior?

Very Bloggy Beth

An aggressive child is reacting to some kind of stimulus. Maybe even a positive stimulus (like positive attention for a good project at school or something). If they're acting out, they need help, simple as that. That's not to say you should just put up with the behavior. But, reacting by yelling or using physical punishment probably won't get you anywhere. If it's possible, let them get it out of their system (safely) and when they calm down is when you can try to talk to them about what's going on. Young kids get angry or overwhelmed and they go to a place in their brain where you really can't get through to them. Once they come back is when you can communicate and get to the root of the issue.
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When is baby old enough for juice or other beverages?

Very Bloggy Beth

I was told no cow's milk or water until 1 year, and I followed that. Around 18 months I introduced juice, REALLY watered down. But, I regard this as one of my bigger parenting blunders. Of course he took to juice immediately and never wants water. With my second, we will definitely be holding off on juice for much longer, and making sure water is more of a basic part of the diet. My son's teeth are ok, but I don't like how much sugar he's getting from it. But, we always water it down significantly. Full juice is reserved for birthday parties and restaurants. Oh, and absolutely no soda. He conveniently doesn't like it, but we're not going to promote that. Yeah, he'll want it someday and I will allow it in moderation, but for now, no. It's completely unnecessary.
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How do you feed a picky toddler?

Very Bloggy Beth

My son is 4 now, so I'm trying to move away from hiding the healthy stuff in his food, and I'm offering healthy choices on his plate, which he must try, but does not have to eat. But, I did a lot of hiding veggie purees in foods and I found sweet potato puree and cauliflower puree to be the most versatile. Color-wise they blend in well with orange/yellow foods and cauli blends with most anything (just keep it to a small amount because it has a stronger flavor). Pureed beans are also great, but they add a weird texture that my son notices pretty easily. I also throw flax into a lot of stuff--yogurt, cottage cheese, tomato sauce, bread that I bake. Speaking of tomato sauce, most picky kids still like tomato based foods, so I offer up a lot of ketchup, marinara and salsa. Another thing that sometimes works (wow, I have more ideas than I realized :) is ravioli. It comes stuffed with all kinds of stuff, mushrooms, artichokes, spinach, etc. and most kids will gobble it up because it's pasta. Fresh fruit is also great, most kids love it and it's full of good stuff. But, don't bend over backward trying to get healthy food into your kids. If they go a whole day eating nothing but Goldfish and plain pasta, it's not all a wash and they won't automatically become malnourished. It's about balance.
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How do you tell your toddler that you are expecting?

Very Bloggy Beth

Luckily for us, there are a lot of families at our son's preschool and some of our playgroup friends who have had other babies, and we were able to say, "Remember how so-and-so's mommy's belly got really big and then they had a baby brother/sister?" And he got the concept. We also have a few books that talk about becoming an older sibling and having a baby around the house. Though, he is 4, and if he were younger I can imagine it would be hard to explain. I think as long as they are familiar with what a baby is, and you can get across that they baby will become part of the family and will stay, the rest will come with time.
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When can you take the early detection pregnancy test?

Very Bloggy Beth

It should say on the box of the particular brand you are using, but usually you can take it 4 to 5 days before you expect to start your period. But, be wary of negative results. With my first pregnancy, I took an early test and got a (correct) positive. But, with my second, I took the test early and got a negative, but ended up being pregnant after all. As hard as it is to wait, it's best to wait until you've missed a period.
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What do contractions feel like when you go into labor?

Very Bloggy Beth

For me, it was an intese pulling feeling across my belly, and I felt a strong urge to have a bowel movement, but didn't actually need to. Honestly, I wasn't sure I was in labor, because 5 years before I'd had salmonella poisoning, and the cramping and pain felt so similar, I was so sure I was sick again! If you start having pains, you'll probably figure it out, but don't be afraid to call your doctor and ask.
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How do I increase my chances of getting pregnant?

Very Bloggy Beth

My top bit of advice is to know your cycle like the back of your hand. Track it, study it. The more accurately you can predict ovulation, the easier time you will have getting pregnant. When we were trying for our first son, I was using and online ovulation calculator, but I mistakenly thought I had a 28 day cycle. It eventually dawned on me that I actually have a 32 day cycle, and once I knew that I was pregnant that month.
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What factors should a new mother include in her budget?

Very Bloggy Beth

Always budget for childcare, if you're going to need it, that's a huge chunk. Also, budget for diapering, whether you choose cloth or disposable, because while cloth help you save in the long run, they can be a big investment at the start. If you'll be formula feeding, factor that cost in. Those are the biggies. Equipment and clothing can always be bought secondhand or handed down from friends and family (except for carseats, it's not recommended that you take one of those secondhand). If you're on a strict budget, there are a lot of "nice to haves" that you can do without. Edit: How could I forget healthcare?! There are a ton of doctor visits the first year just for regular checkups, there's more if baby gets sick. If you have health insurance, you'll likely be able to handle it, but it is something to consider.
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Is it okay to serve alcohol to the adults at a kid's birthday party?

Very Bloggy Beth

Yes, of course it is. It's also completely acceptable not to. It's your party, serve what you want! This is, of course, assuming your guests are responsible people and won't use the occasion to get drunk.
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When is your son too old to go with you to the girls bathroom?

Very Bloggy Beth

This is such a great question. I've been getting dirty looks from women in the bathroom since my son was just 3! I'd like to hear their thoughts on what I might do instead? Are they volunteering to wait outside the bathroom with him while I go? Because he's too young to wait for me alone. Find a strange man to take him into the mens room so he can go? Because, he's still having issues getting his pants up and down on his own, and get on and off those giant toilets by himself. As was already said, women's bathrooms are all stalls anyway, and a little boy isn't going to see anything questionable, unless you've got your pants down outside the stall, in which case, not my problem to deal with. Also, I still walk around naked in front of my son (he's now 4), which I know is pushing the boundaries, but I'm not about to start shaming my body or his, or anyone else's for that matter. Even if he sees someone sitting on the toilet, he's not liable to see as much as he does when I walk from the shower to the bedroom every morning. So, what's the issue with a little boy being in the women's restroom? At my son's swim school, there are men's and women's locker rooms for changing. There's a sign that clearly states that their cut off is age 6. Boys over age 6 change alone in the men's room, girls over age six change alone in the women's room (if accompanied by a parent of the opposite sex). I think that's a good age to have as a target. Old enough to properly dress alone, old enough to know not to go anywhere or do anything with a stranger. It depends heavily on the maturity of the child too, so if your 4 year old is capable of all this, my hat is off to you. We, however, will be going to the restroom together for a while yet.
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What do you do when your child bites you?

Very Bloggy Beth

My response was always a very firm "NO!" and an explanation, that biting is very dangerous, and can hurt other people very much, and is not something that's allowed in our house. I also point out that "mommy and daddy don't bite you" and that we expected the same. It took a month or so of him trying, but he got it. It was mostly happening during very heated tantrums, so avoiding that was key also. I never find biting back or hitting back to be an effective strategy at all, though my son had some sensory processing issues, so maybe it will work for other kids, I don't know.
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What's the funniest word your toddler has said so far?

Very Bloggy Beth

My son would say "roaster coaster" instead of roller coaster, which always cracked us up. And, he would call the zoo the "kazoo", but when he actually got a kazoo as a party favor, he would call that a "zoo".
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How do you handle parenting disagreements?

Very Bloggy Beth

We used to argue about a couple of things, but we've found it much better to find some middle ground. You HAVE to be on the same page as your partner, especially on the big issues, or the children will pick up on it and both suffer because of it, and manipulate both of you. It's not possible to talk before having kids about every single parenting issue that's going to come up, but you should talk about issues as they arise, and decide where both of you will stand united on each issue, it's imperative.
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We moms know a good deal when we see one! What's your favorite deal website or blog for families and why? Please share the link.

Very Bloggy Beth

I am a HUGE fan of Thred Up (http://www.thredup.com/). It is online consignment for mom and kids clothes. I have found some really great deals there.
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