An Uncomplicated Life Blog

Thursday, May 26, 2016

I Despise Summer Break

Summer break is every student and teacher's favorite time of the year, but for mom's and caregivers, it's the most dreaded and despised

May 16 was the last day of the school year for us. I've actually been thinking about that day since mid-January or so. Not with fondness, day dreaming and making summer plans. But with dread. I know everyone is excited for summer break and most people are making fun vacation plans. Heck, we even have travel plans even with two kids two and under! But I've been spending way too much time dreading the upcoming summer. Summer break just has a different ring to it when you're the caregiver/mom.

You do despise summer break because the kids are always bored and there's not enough to do?
 One of my favorite rituals with Henry is driving him to school in the morning. He's SO EXCITED to go, he actually stands by the door to the garage. If I'm taking too long, he'll grab his backpack and do laps around the dining room table, too antsy with anticipation to sit still. It's adorable! Then on the drive, I listen to the most hysterical morning show and they play the "Mad Minute" - a prank call where one caller tries (successfully) to upset a friend or relative, and they get the DJ's in on it to make it convincing. I'm usually laughing so hard I have tears and Henry starts laughing hard because I am. Or he already has a developed sense of humor, who knows.

Then we get to school and Henry claps his hands in excitement. He sprints in the doors. He says hi to the school pet (a black bunny named Midnight) and doesn't even look back when I drop him off at his classroom. It's so fun to see him so excited about school. And just as fun? The car ride back home SOLO with the tunes cranked up. Or I go to a coffee shop to blog. Sometimes I go out to breakfast or lunch by myself. *Otto is with a nanny, in case you thought I just left him at home unattended*

Henry's school time is my sanity time. It's the only time of day I know for sure I can eat without interruption. It's the only time of day I get to go to the bathroom by myself. Sometimes, it's the only time of the week I can get a shower in. It's definitely the only time I can get a haircut or a pedicure.

That's why I absolutely despise summer break. Summer break robs me of my fun morning ritual, one of my favorite times with my son and usually the only time he and I spend one-on-one time together. If that wasn't bad enough, it robs me of my alone time. Blogging time. Eating time. Showering time.

My kiddos are standard, high energy boys. Which is perfect for me, because I hate sitting around, too! But in Texas in the summer, it's easily triple digit heat by 8 or 9am. So while other moms can plan fun outdoor activities, I'm stuck inside somewhere or said activity has to involve a pool or splash pad. So now we're talking ritual gone, sanity gone and I'm stuck trying to come up with activities for young boys to do to get their energy out! Gahhhh, summer break, you're the WORST!

Last year's 4th of July parade. It was 104 by 10am and we were all sweating buckets and rosy cheeked just sitting there!

I think that's actually the toughest part. The oppressive heat. When we lived in Minnesota, a sense of dread would come over me around my birthday - mid October - because I knew the never ending winter was upon us. It would be painful (no really. It's so cold up there it causes physical pain!) to go outside in anyway, to the point where you don't want to go anywhere, for any reason, ever. In Texas, I start to get that feeling deep in my gut around mid April, knowing the never ending heat is creeping in. I've just flipped seasons and problems. Except, I'll tell you what; it's not painful to step outside here. Just super sweaty. But, the principle is the same. Feeling trapped indoors, cabin fever, whatever you want to call it.

There wasn't really a point to this post beyond me sharing my frustration with summer break. I remember it as a kid and a teen. I worked at a community pool and thought it was the best time ever! But now as an adult, it's the pits. I despise summer break. Here's to hoping I don't go off the deep end with two kids, too few activities and far too much heat. Who's ready for fall with me?!

Monday, May 23, 2016

The Baby Stage Nobody Talks About: The 5th Trimester

Everyone talks about the dreaded 4th trimester and the exhausting new born phase, but there's the 5th trimester that nobody warns you about!

Ahhhh, that 4th trimester. The first three months of your new baby's life. It's sleepless. You're clueless. Everything is brand new and your life has permanently changed. The 4th trimester (called that as an expansion of the three trimesters a baby is in-utero) is known for being a doozy and exceptionally challenging. And it is! But I wish someone would have told me about the 5th trimester too. I thought after those first three months, having a baby would get easier. Nope! Wrong. There's something nobody warns you about and it's the 5th trimester, or months 3-6 of your infant's life.

Everyone knows the "4th trimester" when your baby is a newborn is tough, but the next trimester isn't talked about and is just as challenging!

Here's the real deal: Yes, that 4th trimester is tough. But your baby is brand new! You can't get enough snuggles! You're happy to be at home cuddling, posted up on the couch for hours on end. Your body is healing and you're welcoming a slower pace of life. Plus, your baby is a newborn so s/he is sleeping most the day (although probably not most the night...) That means you can get stuff done or nap when the baby is napping.

Unless you're like me and have a toddler/other children. Then, no naps for you!

Likely by the time you get close to the three month mark, you're getting more sleep at night. You've established some sort of nap routine. You've got the feeding schedule down! So how is it that things can actually get HARDER?

Oh, they sure can. And they do.

Around the 4 month mark, we hit a massive sleep regression with Otto. He was up for hours and hours on end. He'd get up some time around 1-2am and stay awake until 4 or 5am. Not screaming, not crying, but just fussing enough so that I'd have to continuously put a paci in his mouth or rock him. I spent more than a few nights in the boys' nursery, attempting to doze off in between paci re-insertions. Keep in mind, I have a toddler too, so while the baby would sleep until 8am, I'd have to be up at 6 for Henry, even though I'd have been up from 1-4 most nights. I was indeed getting less sleep than when Otto was a newborn!

Baby boredom equals fussy baby

The 5th trimester marks important brain developments. They're starting to mature, but not yet able to be self sufficient. They're just learning how to self soothe. This means that YOU have to teach them these things. And it takes time. And patience. And a newfound re-found lack of sleep. Otto's sleep regression lasted an entire month! He now falls asleep with a paci but has learned to suck his thumb after the paci inevitably falls out in his slumber.

It's not just at night, either. Babies in the 5th trimester need more stimulation. They're watching and learning and interested. They've discovered their hands but don't yet know how to control them. They're just starting to find their toes, but don't understand where they go when they let go of them. They see toys and hold on to them, but regularly drop them and don't have the ability to pick them up. This means YOU have to entertain your baby and teach him these things while he's awake. Which, by the way, is for much longer stretches now that his sleep routine is getting established. So while at one point you were able to cook dinner or do laundry or work from home while the baby coo'd in the bassinet beside you, you now need to actively play with him and teach him how to play with the things around him.

There went your free time. There went your ability to get nearly anything done!

Babies are just starting to learn how to sit up at this point, too. You might be lucky and get an early sitter, at 5 or 6 months! Oh, to be so lucky. Babies get dramatically easier when they can sit on their own. But until then, you have to practice practice practice. You have to push through the cries and know when to stop when baby is over tired.

Teething starts!

Additionally, the ease of tummy time wears off by 3-4 months. Both of my kids HATE (and I mean H-A-T-E) tummy time. As newborns they tolerated it and usually fell asleep but at the beginning of the 5th trimester, it turns into a scream fest. Henry would scream for hours afterwards and Otto seems to be following suit. Tummy time is not fun around these parts. Everyone is miserable. After they can sit on their own, it becomes fun again for them because they work on crawling, but this 5th trimester tummy time puts just about everyone in tears. I think it's because mentally, they want to move but they're not physically strong enough, and that disconnect makes them frustrated. A frustrated baby is a screaming one. A screaming baby is a stressed out mama.

Teething usually starts about now too. I have two early teethers - Henry got his first two teeth at 5 months and I can feel two about to cut on Otto, who just turned 5 months. The amount of drool that a teething baby can produce is ridiculous, and you better believe all that drool is going right on your shirt, moms. Don't even bother trying to look nice in this drooly 5th trimester, it won't last longer than 5 minutes!

Finally, you have to start to think about introducing solids. Most pediatricians recommend introducing solids between 4-6 months (hey, 5th trimester!) and this means you need to spend even more time teaching your infant some skills. Introducing solids is a slow, messy, painstaking task. Feedings, which took 20-25 minutes in the 3rd trimester, now can take up to an hour each! Make a little bit of food, get it spit on you and baby, clean up the table, yourself and baby and then follow with a bottle/breast feed... Jeez! Between introducing solids and feeding a toddler, it's like we're a 24 hour Denny's around here, dishing out food nonstop all day.

This face sums up our sentiments on the 5th trimester

Look, the 4rd trimester is certainly hard. It's hard because there's so much adjustment and learning on your end. But the 5th trimester is even more challenging, in my opinion. And nobody seems to be talking about it! You're transitioning from you learning to teaching your baby to learn. It's slow going. It's time consuming. It's messy. But the good news is, after the 5th trimester, it DOES get easier! Once that little baby can sit on her own and grab/play with toys independently, rest assured you're entering the FUN stage of babies.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

DIY Nontoxic Sunscreen

Traditional sunscreen is full of chemicals proven to disrupt hormone balances and have been linked to cancer. But you can make this DIY nontoxic sunscreen in about 15 minutes!

Blah blah blah, I love my essential oils. Duh. But what I'm really loving about them most is learning how to use them to make super easy, super affordable and super health-friendly beauty DIY's! Last summer the news was filled with the link between spray sunscreen and cancer, as you breathe in all those chemicals as a fine mist. I don't know why they're still sold, honestly. If you're pregnant, breastfeeding or planning on becoming pregnant, you definitely don't want to use traditional sunscreen because the chemicals raise estrogen levels. Yuck! So let's talk about how to make this super easy DIY nontoxic sunscreen and how effective it is.

Super easy DIY to make your own safe, nontoxic sunscreen using essential oils and natural products!

Coconut oil has a naturally occurring SPF factor around SPF 5 (I've read anywhere from SPF 3-10). Carrot seed oil has about a SPF factor of 30-40! And zinc oxide puts a physical barrier between the sun's rays and your skin. So this DIY nontoxic sunscreen is estimated to be about SPF 35 (actually, it's much higher but I like to err on the safe/low side.)

I've tested it myself and have zero sunburn, even after being out in the brightest sun of the day. Yes, it's already been 80-90 degrees down here in Texas for the past month, so I feel confident in passing along this DIY to you as an effective sunscreen. I will say this though! You have to apply it every hour. The coconut oil will stay on your skin but if you're sweating excessively (anyone else a big sweater? I am. Maybe it's the heat here but dang... I wish that was a problem I didn't have!) or if you're swimming you'll want to make sure you're reapplying it to protect your skin. There's no chemicals to preserve its effect like conventional sunscreen, so. You know. Apply it often!

- 3oz coconut oil
- 2T zinc oxide

Melt the coconut oil over a double boiler. I like to put it in the freezer for about 5 mins to thicken it up a bit. Then add the zinc oxide slowly, mixing with a whisk the whole time. Make sure to cover your mouth/nose with a mask of some sort so that you don't breathe in the zinc oxide, and don't have your children or pets around when you mix this! After incorporating the zinc oxide, add your essential oils. Carrot seed provides the SPF coverage while lavender provides calming properties for your skin - and makes the DIY nontoxic sunscreen smell nice!

How to make your own safe, nontoxic sunscreen with essential oils and natural products with a SPF of over 30!

Like I said, I tried this on me and it worked great! If you like more of a "lotion" you can add Shea butter - use equal amounts of coconut oil and Shea butter and whip them together with a mixer, then follow the rest of the directions as stated. This creates a more traditional, lotion-y texture. I can't wait to toss out my children's sunscreen and use this DIY nontoxic sunscreen on them this summer season. It's so easy to make and a really effective way to omit the chemical-laden junk out of your life!