A new baby is such an exciting time for the entire family. My older two children were 3 and 2 years old when Adam was born, so while they may not have fully understood the entire pregnancy journey… they were thrilled to have a new sibling coming home from the hospital!

Adam was born full-term and weighed a whopping 9 lbs. 8 oz. at birth. We thought everything with him was perfectly normal, until he was diagnosed with Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) at 6 weeks old.

It was a terrifying time for our entire family as Adam was admitted to Nationwide Children’s Hospital for several days. He was hooked up to breathing machines and oxygen as he fought for his little life.

During that time, Luke and Eden didn’t visit him at the hospital. We made that decision because we knew Adam would be coming home soon and seeing him in the hospital would be such a difficult thing to explain to them. I fully understand that is not reality for all families, as the older children will spend a lot of time in the ICU or NICU.

Many of the questions we were faced with: Why is our baby brother in the hospital again? What’s wrong with him? When will he come home? When can we hold him again? Am I as important as the baby?

I wish there was a simple way to explain what was happening to Adam, but my husband and I had to rely on simple conversation to try to answer their questions to our best ability.

I recently attended a summit with the National Coalition for Infant Health in Washington, DC where parents, physicians, researchers and other advocates gathered to discuss all aspects of infant health. A lot of the conversations spotlighted preemies and what life is like in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU).

It’s at this summit that I learned about a wonderful organization that is working hard on providing resources for families, teachers and parenting professions. Platypus Media‘s goals are relatively simple. They are educating adults and children about the world around them. They publish books that foster warmth, closeness, literacy, curiosity, and an openness to other cultures. Specifically, they have two products to support siblings of children in the NICU–both are coloring books, a format that keeps young kids involved while they learn. One of the coloring books my children love: Come Home Soon Baby Brother/Sister!

The coloring book does a fantastic job explaining to older siblings why their baby brother or sister is in the NICU. The short story follows an older sibling’s journey at the hospital as he explains to the reader what is happening to his baby brother/sister. The child then encourages the reader to draw a picture of him/her for the baby at the NICU. It challenges the reader to think outside of the box and focus on the health and safety of their baby sibling. It’s also important for the older children to know they are just as important and just as loved as the sick baby, even though mom and dad are spending a lot of time at the hospital.

I really wish I had these coloring books when Adam was in the ICU at Children’s Hospital. Even though the books focus on the NICU, I think they are extremely valuable resources for any family with a small child in the hospital.

You can purchase any of Platypus’s Books on their website, here! They are also available in Spanish.

*The post is sponsored by Platypus Media. All opinions are my own.*

Come Home Soon, Baby Brother! (Platypus Media)

Luke,

As much as I wanted to address this letter as “Lukey” or “My Dearest Luke”, I chose not to because you are 5-years old now, and are no longer my little tiny baby. Tomorrow you will start a new chapter and embark in one of the most exciting adventures of your life.

School.

Your clothes are laid out, you said your prayers and I soon will tuck you in the night before your first day of kindergarten at the same school your mommy went to when she was 5 years old.

Luke, school is so much fun! You will learn new things. You will experience new adventures. You will see new sights. You will meet new people. You will make friends. Some of the friends you make tomorrow could be the same friends you walk the stage in cap and gown 13 years from now. Some of the children you will meet will be funny. Some of them kind. Some of them unbelievably smart. Some of them shy. Some will look nothing like you. Some may look similar to you. Some of the children could be cold. Some of them could be mean. Luke, it’s important you know not everyone you meet tomorrow will be perfect. But that doesn’t define you.

My hope for you on the night before your first day of school is that you be true to yourself. You are sensitive. You are selfless. You are kind. You are funny. You are witty. You are smart. You are athletic. You have an immense love for your family. I can only hope when I write to you 13 years from today, I can still recite these exact same qualities no matter the storm that awaits you.

Luke, there will be other children who you instantly connect with. They will be your closest friends. There will also be children who may be standoffish, shy, or say cruel things. Luke, please love them. Treat them the same way you treat your new friends. Treat them how you treat your sister and brother. Treat them how you want to be treated. You don’t know what kind of home they live in. You don’t know what kind of things they’ve seen or experienced in their young lives. Be nice to them. Smile. Lend a helping hand. If they do not accept you as you are, give them space…but always be there for them when they are ready for your friendship.

Luke, there will be challenges you can’t even comprehend. I know these things are hard to explain to a 5-year old, but you will hear conversations and you will see things that are brand new to you. Some things will be wonderful, some things will not. Always trust your mommy and daddy. Always tell the truth. Always be unafraid to tell us the good, the bad and the confusing. We love you, no matter what.

We are so proud of you. I promise, I will not cry (too much) on your first day of school. I am way too excited for real tears! Only tears of joy for you.

Luke, I loved school so much. I experienced many wonderful things in school. I also experienced many hardships in school. I never let the hardships define me. I always reminded myself what didn’t kill me, makes me stronger. I used the bad to my advantage. When times got tough, I told myself tomorrow is another day. I hope you will do the same.

We love you so much. I can’t even begin to type the words to fully encompass our love for you. You will do great. You will excel. You will move mountains. You will go places you never dreamed of. You will be true to yourself. You will always be our son.

We love you!

Class of 2031 xx

IMG_3512

Kindergarten here we come!

IMG_3646

Facetune_22-08-2018-17-37-02

Class of 2031!

DSC_3894.jpg

Disclosure:  This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #TrustinGentle #ChooseGentle #CollectiveBias

When you enter motherhood for the very first time, you are whisked away into unfamiliar territory. I faced fears that I didn’t even know were possible. I doubted my ability to be a mom…what if I’m incapable of keeping a small human alive?! Something I stressed about with the arrival of my first child was being properly armed with all of the necessary items for our survival.

A very wise nurse at L&D told me the only things my baby needed were food, a safe place to sleep, and a clean environment. SO. TRUE. I’ve actually used that bit of advice as more children entered our lives and expanded the limbs of our family tree.

One brand I have loved and trusted since I started my motherhood journey is JOHNSON’S®. I remember my mother using the distinctive sweet-smelling JOHNSON’S® head-to-toe baby wash and shampoo with me, the aroma still takes me back to safe place in my childhood. JOHNSON’S® was a brand I grew up loving and trusting, so it was only natural I embarked in a similar relationship when our first came home from the hospital.

For 5 years now, JOHNSON’S® has been a staple product in our home. The soft yellow bottle of JOHNSON’S® head-to-toe wash and shampoo has a permanent place on the side of our family’s bath tubs. I am a firm believer in the 3-step night-time routine using JOHNSON’S® bedtime lotion. It’s the only routine proven to help improve baby’s sleep!

  1. Warm Bath
  2. Gentle Massage
  3. Quiet Time

The awesome thing about JOHNSON’S® products, my older children know exactly where to find the line when we walk into our local Walgreens.

I admit, there are times I have forgotten to pick up baby lotion or shampoo until the final hour. Ugh, mom brain. We are so lucky to have a 24-hour Walgreens so close to our home. It’s a store we frequent, because of convenience but even more so, because of the customer care.

I can’t even tell you how many times I have visited our Walgreens pharmacy and asked (what I consider) silly questions. The customer service from the patient cashiers to the knowledgable pharmacists is unlike any other retailer. It’s no wonder why Walgreens and JOHNSON’S® are both brands we love and trust, especially for this busy mom of three who is always forgetting something and rushing to the store for help.

A recent stroll down the baby care aisle at Walgreens revealed something that really caught my eye! JOHNSON’S® has launched a *NEW and improved* baby product line. I couldn’t help myself, and snatched up almost every item on the shelf, including the reformulated JOHNSON’S® soothing vapor bath, JOHNSON’S® bedtime lotion, JOHNSON’S®head-to-toe wash & shampoo, and JOHNSON’S® no more tangles spray.

The new & improved product line has so many positives…way too many to mention them all, but here are some ones that really hit home for me. Did you know baby’s skin is 30% thinner than an adults? So it needs the best gentle care possible.

  • JOHNSON’S® is 100% gentle (great for our youngest baby’s sensitive skin), it’s free of parabens and phthalates.
  • There are 50% fewer ingredients in the new and improved line of skin care. Johnson’s uses only purposeful ingredients. The products are dye free, and sulfate free. YAY!
  • Enhanced functionality of adding the pump top to the bottles to make it easier for mom to utilize when she has her hands full. *this is a BIG one for me, oftentimes I have my 5 or 4-year-old help out with the baby when my hands are full!

I’ve been a mom now for 5, going on 6 years, and while I may not be an expert in all things parenting I do know the brands that I love and trust. JOHNSON’S® and Walgreens top the list for me!

Have you tried the NEW & improved line of JOHNSON’S® baby products? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

BONUS! From 7/29- 8/25 JOHNSON’S® Baby products are buy 1 get 1 50% off with your Walgreens balance rewards card! Here is the link to this incredible offer: http://cbi.as/a27dm

DSC_3806

Bath time is our youngest baby’s favorite time.

Facetune_20-08-2018-19-54-28

JOHNSON’S® products are 100% gentle.

IMG_3628

“The Brand You Trust, Now More Gentle Than Ever”

DSC_3789

New & improved JOHNSON’S® Baby line at our local 24-hour Walgreens.

DSC_3792

I couldn’t stop with one!

Facetune_20-08-2018-19-28-49

Super happy when his sister joins him in the tub.

Facetune_20-08-2018-19-36-03

Facetune_20-08-2018-19-23-37

JOHNSON’S® and Walgreens are brands we love and trust.

When I was a kid, my mom would take me to the Ohio State Fair once a year. I don’t remember ever riding any rides, and the smell of the fair food always made me feel sick. What a lame kid! But I loved going, every single year…it sort of marked the end of summer.

Now that I have kids of my own, I still love going that one time a year. Our trips look completely different from when I was a kid. I pack lunches…not because I’m cheap, but because my kids will want something from every single food vendor. From cotton candy to deep-fried everything. It’s challenging enough to get them out of the carnival game section without spending a giant wad of cash. I do splurge on the giant fresh-squeezed lemonades. I just can’t go to a fair without those cups of lemony sugar goodness.

My kids have their favorite spots at the Ohio State Fair. We have to start with the Goldfish game. I only let them play the “Win Every Time” games. I learned my lesson a couple of years ago. $10 drains fast with little kids and horrible aim. There is a great Goldfish/Hermit Crab win every time game in the middle of the game area, past the giant slide. For $5 both Luke and Eden won a goldfish and their own containers! It was a challenge to keep Adam from shaking the goldfish. After about 30 seconds, the new pets had names (Ladder & Flower) and we were on our way to the next stop.

*Editor’s note: Ladder & Flower have since passed away. RIP little fish who gave our kids a whopping 8 hours of joy. #neverforget*

The AG & Hort Building is their favorite where they can watch the large electronic train, learn about zoo animals and ride little tractors. The pedal tractors are a big hit with Luke and Eden, no joke…they remember them every year! The kids also like seeing the bunnies, little chicks and learning about zoo animals.

Next stop was the Natural Resources Park where we attempted to wait in a long line to fish. About 10 minutes in the line, Eden decided she didn’t want to walk…or stand…or cooperate…so after a major meltdown, we left…sans fishing trophies.

We stopped to eat our packed lunches, which in itself takes a solid 45 minutes. There is just so much for the kids to see, it’s hard for them to concentrate on eating. I don’t blame them…people watching at the fair IS. THE. VERY. BEST.

This year we didn’t make it into the livestock barn. Last year, Eden cried because of the smells (perhaps the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree) so we made one last stop at the kiddie “win every time” games where the kids won their favorite blowup toys. A princess doll, a sword and a puppy power hammer. Two giant lemonades on the way out and that was a wrap!

All in all, we faired pretty well! (See what I did there?!) And now we’re good for another 365.

DSC_3277

Ladder & Flower (RIP)

DSC_3280

Cute kid multiple called a girl. haha.

DSC_3289

Sword & Puppy Power Hammer

IMG_2947

I blame the little one for shaking the water bags. eyyyyy.

IMG_2960

Win Every Time games for the WIN.

IMG_2961

Duck, Duck, Goose.

IMG_2986

A Family Af {Fair}

Where do I even begin with this hotel?! From the moment you walk into The LeVeque Tower in downtown Columbus you feel as though you are transformed into a 1940s movie star. The theme song from the 1954 Sabrina movie song came to mind, as I entered the revolving door. You know, the Louis Armstrong trumpet version.

My husband and I received the royal treatment for our 7 year anniversary “stay-cation” last night at this incredible hotel. The rooms are uniquely decorated with dark wood, grey fabric walls, gold fixtures and mustard yellow chairs. There is a “star” theme in every little detail, from the framed photos to the evening stars illuminating the ceiling. Even the bedside chocolates have little stars printed on them.

The marketing team treated Jeff and I to a bottle of champagne and a beautiful candle for our anniversary. We ate dinner off site at Milestone 229, but returned to the hotel after a gorgeous stroll along the Scioto Mile. We enjoyed a nightcap at The Keep, and I couldn’t help but ordering the French Onion Soup. YUM!

After a very restful night’s sleep, we ordered room service this morning. THE VERY BEST FRENCH TOAST EVER!!!!!! Y’all, this is no exaggeration. Batter soaked brioche bread with seasonal compote syrup. I devoured it….

Now, it’s time to say goodbye to the most beautiful stay-cation as we head back to the chaos of our three little humans. At least we are refreshed and looking forward to another year of marriage.

xx

*This post was sponsored by Hotel LeVeque, all opinions are my own.*

Facetune_26-07-2018-21-07-28IMG_1082IMG_2816IMG_2840DSC_3224.jpgDSC_3253IMG_1040