10/31/17: Happy Halloween

If Only I was Creative and Planned Better– I always get excited about Halloween.  As a kid (and teenager) I loved dressing up.  I would always start the school year off with intentions to plan a spectacular Halloween costume. It would be the beginning of September and I would be proud of myself for already thinking of Halloween.  I had plenty of time to plan and create and it would be awesome.  I never wanted to just buy a costume, I was convinced I was creative and could make the costume.  I think this started when I was little as my grandma actually could make spectacular costumes and we have some great photos to remember them.  She-Ra, a witch, a happy clown, or a prince in purple tights in my brother’s case.  They were gorgeous costumes.  So when I got older, I thought I could do it as well….but it never quite worked out that way.

I would get excited and search for ideas that would not come natural.  When college came, I would search the internet for ideas, not creative at all.  And I never seemed to put something together in time.  I couldn’t make a decision and I never trusted my gut on a decision.   It would always end up being the night before Halloween that I would be scrambling to find something.  Unless I called my grandma and asked her to make me a magnificent cape or some great prop ahead of time.  The most creative I ever got over the years was a Michael Jackson and a Jack Sparrow costume.  Jack Sparrow was my favorite.  Goodwill was our favorite place to find the pieces to create the costumes though, I never even thought of sewing.  I did continue to convince myself I would try again as a parent.  If it was a costume for my kids, I would be able to find and make something creative like so many parents do on Pinterest.  I remember loving the one of the little boy who had a walker and was dressed as the old man from Up. And then there are all of the parents and groups like Shriners who transform wheelchairs into Batmobiles or firetrucks.  I love all of those! If I had twins I knew I would have dressed them like Thing 1 and Thing 2. I couldn’t wait to be a parent on Halloween.

What has really progressed over my Halloween years though is changing from dressing up myself or hopes of dressing up any of my then unborn children, to joining friends and their kids on Trick or Treat.  My neighbors in MN were the absolute best.  It was a dream neighborhood to spend the night drinking a few beers as the kids showed off their homemade costumes. There was always a family or two who were outside having a fire and would invite the rest of us over for a drink.  My neighbor himself would dress as Beer Man and his vest would contain at least a handful of cold ones.  His kids were always dressed in great costumes, as were the other kids whose parents you could tell really cared about them because of their unique homemade costumes.  It turned into my favorite holiday.  One of the many reasons I was sad to leave MN was my neighborhood and the awesome Trick or Treating nights.  I was determined to find another neighborhood like this one day or create it myself.

So here we are. In our new place and I love our condo.  We finally have a little peanut I can dress up and get creative with.  I am in a great neighborhood where I could be the family who has the fire and maybe even the big candy bars or at least become a house that is known for something good on Halloween. I could give out something unique, something fun.  I could create the vibe if it doesn’t already exist here.  Well, it is the morning of Halloween, and the costume I got for our son is a Sweet Pea that I could zip him up in and he hates it.  Thankfully a friend brought over one of those handmade adorable costumes for us to borrow that we will try tonight when handing out candy as it is freezing outside.  I never made the steps to get a fire going out front, but I am still determined by tonight I will figure out what our house can be known for.  Who can say, maybe I’ll hand out drinks to the adults and king size candy bars, or maybe I’ll just leave a bucket outfront with a sign that says “Take one please, and only one.”  Whatever we end up doing, I am excited to finally be a parent on Halloween.  I have years to come up with something creative for all of us to be, even if I didn’t get the creative gene.  –Kathryn Kraft, MPT

10/30/17: I Missed My Shower

Why I loved our Welcome Home Party- Nearly every first time mom I knew delivered late. Most of the stories I heard were about my friends being induced or going at least a few days past their due date.  I assumed this would happen to me as well so when my sister-in-law asked about a date for our shower, I thought July 22 would be perfect. This would be the 8th anniversary of my mom passing, and instead of it being a day to be sad ad mourn on, I could celebrate her becoming a grandma in Heaven with a shower for her newest grandson.  I figured that was just over a month before my due date so I would be totally fine to travel to OH. It was close enough to drive so we’d be ok! Well as most of you know, Belytt came June 21 and there was no way we would make it to OH.

I was very sad to realize I wouldn’t have a baby shower with my family.  Everyone was amazing and sent us gifts in the mail and gave us the best virtual shower I could ask for, but I was still sad I wouldn’t be home to see my family.  Once Bekytt was home and settled and I started planning our trip back to OH, my wonderful sister-in-law said she’d love to still host a Welcome Home/Meet Bekytt party at their place.  I thought this was a great idea and that is what we did!

This past Saturday was simply incredible. My grandpa, uncles, aunts, great uncles and aunts, cousins, cousins once removed, and a few wonderful friends came to meet Bekytt and celebrate his birth with us.  There were delicious food and drinks, great conversation, story time with Great Uncle John, and everyone got to hold and snuggle the little man.  He was a trooper.  He even showed off his smile with only a few cries here and there. I was incredibly proud of him.  We took some great pictures and I had more help that night than I could have ever asked for. I was able to sit down and eat, have a glass a wine and truly visit with people I have not talked with in a long time.  It made me wonder, why do we have showers at all? A meet and greet seems to be the way to go!

I am not good at showers or being put on the spot. I mumble so badly that Alexa understands my 3 year old nephew better than she understands me.  So opening gifts in front of people is not very exciting. I could be ecstatic about a gift or hate a gift and you would not be able to tell the difference.  My smile and tone of voice is always the same.  Someone once said you could put a swear word at the end of any sentence I say and it would flow very nicely I’m so monotone.  So I would be lying if I said I wasn’t slightly relieved when Bekytt came before my shower…for the sole fact that I wouldn’t have to open gifts in front of people.  Not at all because I wasn’t extremely grateful, because that I was! But at a meet and greet, it is not about you at all, it is definitely all about the baby.  That is who everyone wants to see anyway! It is perfect!

I feel extremely blessed to have such a great family.  I can’t even believe Bekytt has a few Great Great Uncles and Aunts.  When I looked around at our family Saturday night, I wondered how I ever moved so far away.  If I could close the gap between WI and OH I would in an instant.  I initially left OH to play hockey at WI.  I couldn’t wait to get out of the state and I have no idea why.  I had a great childhood, I loved high school, had very close friends, and I got a long great with my family.  Yet for some reason I wanted to go to school far away. First it was the East Coast. Then it was WI. I didn’t care where in the end as long as I went to a good college with a good hockey team.  I just wanted to keep playing. At that time I still had dreams of the Olympics and I assumed I’d lose my chance if I stayed in OH. I wanted to explore the world and live on my own.  I also always thought I’d come back home one day.

The only time I ever moved back home was when my mom was sick. I knew I wanted to be with her and help her as much as I could so that was a no brainer.  I had finally made the move in 2009.  Unfortunately, I was only home with her for about a month before she passed and I only lasted about 2 months after that.  I had already done the hard part, why couldn’t I just stay? I realized it was because I created a life in WI.  My adult life was there.  I actually grew up while I was there and learned to take care of myself.  I moved to MN at one point and loved it, but I eventually found my way back to WI a few years later.  Wisconsin started to feel like my home at some point and now it is not just like my home, it is my home.  I created my nuclear family there, I am part of Kyle’s family there, and I have a whole other family in all the friends I have made there. I miss my blood family daily and my MN family like crazy, but WI is my home now and I love it.  I love my family, our condo, my job, our CrossFit box.  I feel extremely blessed for all the love in our lives and that all 3 states have very important people within their borders, but until we are ready to move again, all I can do is promise to travel whenever we can.  FaceTime should become a weekly thing and I definitely need to pick up the phone more often.  We have wonderful ways to connect with family all over the globe and I vow to do a better job at staying connected.  It’s too important not to. –Kathryn Kraft, MPT  

10/27/17: The Golden Years

We are meant to enjoy them- Traveling this week with Bekytt has been a true blessing. While nervous at first, I knew it could be done, I just didn’t know how sane I would feel at the end of it.  I worried about typical things like how his nights would go when staying with family.  Would he keep everyone awake? Would he be comfortable enough to sleep? Could I wash his diapers? Would we run out of diapers? What if he started to hate the car? What if he got sick? All of these things and more I worried about briefly, but my mind was made up that we would visit family anyway.  Nearly all of my family lives in Northeast Ohio, so I had to make the trip eventually and now seemed like the right time. I am off of work. Bekytt is 4 months now and it’s not snowing yet.  So here we are! Day 6 of our trip and I feel so blessed.

We have made time almost everyday to visit my grandma. This has been one of the most important stops for me because my grandma and I are so close.  She helped raise us and my mom used to live with her so her home was my home when I came back to visit.  I always loved our visit.  We’d talk a lot, laugh frequently and of course bicker now and again.  I definitely get my stubbornness from her and I love it! Most of the time.  She doesn’t listen sometimes just like I didn’t listen when I was younger.  What goes around comes around I guess! She used to call me a little shit in the sweetest way possible, but she was right. I was and am still definitely that.  So if it is her time to be that,  I will just think it in the sweetest way possible because I adore my grandma no matter how much we can bicker.  

I often say if I could pick her up and move her to WI I would in a heartbeat.  It is very important to me that Bekytt gets to know his great grandma as much as he can. I want her to know him just the same, so every day we are here I try to make it out to see her.  I think we tend to get frustrated when our grandparents start to change a little as they age.  They either can’t remember what they used to and may repeat themselves or ask the same questions over and over, or maybe they can’t get out much or move as much as before.  Maybe they just complain about everything, but however they change, I think it is hard for us to truly understand because we know and love them a certain way, and we do not know what it is like to be their age.  I imagine my golden years being just that.  Golden.  I imagine finally living in the commune I always wanted, even if they call it assisted living.  I picture it like college all over again for old people who don’t need to study.  I swear I’ll do all the activities. Balloon volleyball.  Bingo. Trips to the movies. Martini hour.  Seated yoga.  To me it sounds amazing, but I am also not there or told I have to be there.  

 

Losing our independence must be so hard. I mean I get frustrated when my husband comes to help change my flat tire even though I know he can do it better than me. I can only imagine getting older with everyone helping you do everything. But I also feel it is our responsibility as the younger generation to love and help them through it all, and it’s not hard to do. My grandma put up with me through so many stages of my life. I want to be here with her through this stage of hers and I would do anything for her to enjoy it.  At times I feel helpless like I’m not doing enough. Or that I should move back.  Not because I feel I have to, but because I am scared to lose her.  We were close before my mom died, but even closer after.  She has taught me so many things about life and listened to me through all of my relationship ups and downs.  Even when I don’t understand her, I have always loved her.  

 

My mom, my grandma and I would share the biggest belly laughs.  Whether we were playing Phase 10, Clue on the tv, or she was stealing crackers from the winery, some of my best adult memories of coming home are with her and my mom.  Losing my mom was heartbreaking.  I can’t imagine what coming home will feel like when she is gone.  I don’t even want to.   She may not want to live to be 100, but I want her to (if she wasn’t in pain).  That would mean she’d get to know Bekytt until he was at least 15yo! How amazing would that be?! But I also know there is not much she expects me to do besides make time for her.  She also expects me to treat her the same as I always did and maybe I should listen to her on that. She is my grandma after all. As much as I think I know best for her physical health, maybe I should just shut my mouth and let her do what she wants to.  She deserves that at least, right? The problem is, I don’t know how to keep my mouth shut and I’m pretty sure she taught me that.

So if you’re reading this grandma, I love you. I may not understand you all the time and I may overstep your personal space or tell you what I think is best for you, but I do it in love just as you did for me all those times I didn’t want to hear it.  Remember, these are your golden years! There has to be a way that they can be fun! And I’ll die trying to figure it out! Thank you for all of our memories.  Every. Single. One.  –Kathryn Kraft, MPT

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10/26/17: Baby Products I Can’t Live Without

Why didn’t I think of that- If you want to be a millionaire, I swear you have to invest in kid or baby products. No first time mom or dad really know what they need, but there are a bunch of Pinterest posts and baby stores that will tell you the must haves for bringing an infant home. I admit I did look at these and get tempted to buy certain things, but now that I have been home for a few months and traveled with the little man, there are certain things I wonder how we’d do without.

I truly thought I’d be a minimalist/natural mom. I don’t like chemicals or being wasteful.  I hate paper towels and paper napkins, so there was no way I’d use disposable diapers, but that is just me. I thought as long as I had my cloth diapers, what else could a baby possibly need? Because people have been incredibly gracious, we were blessed with many hand me down and new clothes so we were set there too. Babies only need a place to sleep, stay warm and help with staying clean right? Ha! As mentioned previously, Bekytt has more than I do! But since I get asked a lot about the products I use, I thought I’d write about my favorites. This is different than my typical blogs, but hopefully helpful for some.

Nose Frida– I like it, my husband loves it. I think we are both convinced that if Bekytt’s nose isn’t clear he may stop breathing.  Since babies only know how to breathe through their noses for awhile (so we’ve been told) if his nose is stuffed, how can he breathe? And it’s not like he has a cold or anything, he gets adult sized boogers all the time! Maybe from the milk he sometimes shoots out his nose, but no matter the reason, we needed this right away for peace of mind. It was the one thing my husband made me promise I’d do on our trip, clean his nose out.

Boppy Lounger- I kept seeing this awesome pillow thing on a friend’s Facebook. Her baby looked so happy in it and it seemed like a genius idea. You could bring it in the bathroom while you shower, the kitchen, the laundry room! It seems to put the baby on a slight incline so I gave it a shot! I literally take this thing everywhere we go. As soon as Bekytt has digested his food, I lie him in this either on his back or side. It says very clearly not to let babies sleep or lie on their side in this, but Bekytt does both and seems perfectly safe and loves it! It is the only thing that can make me hands free for a relatively long time.

Babyganics shampoo-Self foaming and rated very well by EWG, it smells good and is so easy to use with one hand when giving baby a bath.

BabyChic diaper bag-Literally the best diaper bag. My husband bought this for me after our first one broke only after using it a few times and it has been perfect for our cloth diapering! It’s stylish and very functional without being too big. Love it.

Grovia hybrid diapers, wipes and diaper bags. I did a fair amount of research before deciding on what brand I was going to go with, and I couldn’t be happier. They are easy to use and wash, love them. We use All Free and Clear powder detergent, not a plant based one because it does clean them better. I know it’s not the best, but I figure we are saving a lot of waste by using cloth so while the cleaning part has its own debate, we feel good with this choice.

Baby Bits cloth wipes solution- If you’re going to go cloth, might as well go all in! I truly think making your own solution is fun and can be much more creative than this, but these are easy to dissolve in water and use in a spray bottle and they work great! Gentle on bottom and my baby has never had diaper rash. Baby wipes actually have a ton of chemicals in them and I feel likely cause a lot of the rash and skin irritation babies experience and it is not just the poopy diapers that do it. Bekytt has had plenty of that and no issues.  We even started using cloth wipes in the hospital with just warm water and kept them in the Prince Lionheart wipes warmer for the nurses to use. I just couldn’t stand the idea of all those chemicals on such a tiny baby! We also use a preventative ointment as well that may help.

Biokleen odor remover- Whenever I can spray the diapers with this before throwing them in their laundry bag, everyone’s nose is happier!

Halo sleep sack– Bekytt does not like his arms swaddled and always breaks loose of our blankets, so this has been amazing to keep him warm and not have to wrap his arms up.

Homemade baby blanket- We have a few blankets that were crocheted for us and they are absolutely perfect to drape over or wrap our little man up in them. We can use them over him in the car (since they aren’t allowed to wear jackets in car seats) or when he is napping during the day. They are the perfect size and so warm!

Hearing protection– I don’t think I could have taken him to the CrossFit Games, classes, or a restaurant with loud live music without these. They make me feel like I am not damaging his hearing and that we can still do the things we want to do with him right there with us. A little big at first, but they have worked since the start!

Although it’s been recalled, I’m sure Bekytt wouldn’t sleep at night without the Skip Hop Moonlight and Melody soother. So if anyone has another similar product they love that hasn’t been recalled, I’m all ears! Apparently it’s an electric shock issue? I say I’ll risk it for now and just be careful when I unplug it! He loves staring at the stars and the white noise can be helpful too.

Moby Wrap– I’ve wrote about it many times, but after watching a YouTube video on how to put it on, it really is quite easy. Bekytt fusses a bit to be put in in, but once he is there he is happy for awhile and I am hands free. It’s comfortable and because he is help so close to my body it doesn’t hurt my back.

Angelcare bath seat– This one is my favorite because you can fill the tub up to use it, so when we are down with washing him, we take him out and let him float! I support his head (not recommended if you have never done this) like I do for aquatic therapy, and just let him have some freedom of movement. It is his happiest times and he really gets his body moving and splashing! We love it!

Burt’s Bees baby oil– Working this into his head and even on his eyebrow line, has gotten rid of any cranial cap issue we had. It started working right away and now we put it on before every bath and he has been smooth as ever! Smells good too!

Hand towels– We learned to bathe him in the NICU and we always had him wrapped in wet towels to keep him warm and happy. We use these the same way and only uncover the body part we are washing. Throughout the bath we wring warm water over him and the towels so he continues to stay warm and it seems to really work! PB  hand towels are the perfect size to lie horizontal under him and then wrap around his arms and body.

Topponcino– We now use this in his stroller or for play time when out and about, but it was also really great in those early stages to hold him in all the time so when we put him down to sleep there was no change in temperature or startling experience from coming out of our arms.

Munari Mobile– The first in the series, we had a friend make one for him and he will watch it for an extended amount of time. Since vision is the first thing babies can start to explore with, this has been great for him. Besides lights and a ceiling fan! He truly can stare at a fan for longer, but this is a close second!

The BKB by Nest Bedding- He transitioned to this floor bed pretty quickly and it’s amazing.  It’s firm enough for him sleep on safely and I can also easily come in and nurse and hold him while he stays in bed. We actually can change him here too so there is no need to fully wake him just to get a clean diaper on. It is very comfortable and should last him a long time. I don’t know how we’d be getting any sleep without it as I do sleep next to him most nights.

Jane Trider stroller- While it seems harder to find these days, this has seriously been a mom life saver. He can lie down on his side, back or stomach in the bassinet part which means he can sleep on it anywhere! He has slept in it in restaurants, at the gym, and on walks. We have taken the top part off and brought it inside when traveling as his little portable bed. It’s really been quite amazing. He sleeps better in this than anything else and it keeps him safe. I’m sure somewhere it says not to let kids do this, but it has worked for us.

Baby nail files– Accidentally cutting a baby’s finger is the worst feeling in the world. Stressing about how to fix his nails was a huge issue I had as soon as they started growing. People say you can bite them and peel them, but that never worked for us. So these are what I love, and he actually lets us do it!

Yi Camera-This is what we use as a baby monitor and it’s perfect! It can scan the room or stand still. It has 2-way sound and anyone with the barcode can log in to see baby. Very easy to see at night and during the day to keep your mind at ease when you’re not next to baby.

I will definitely do this every now and again as he gets older with what become my new favorites. I’m especially excited about trying out the Guava Lotus Everywhere Travel Crib that we just got as a wonderful gift! This trip taught me not every house is prepared to have a baby on the floor so this will be much safer!

Please comment on your favorites as well so we can all spread the true word on what products are helpful in these early stages! –Kathryn Kraft, MPT

10/25/17: Being Sick and Being a Mom Don’t Go Together

 

Everything was going so well- Yesterday started off so well.  After a typical night of waking to eat and peacefully falling back asleep, Bekytt woke for the day around 8 am. I was excited to see him smiling and happy to be awake and I just knew the day was going to be a good one. He nursed, I ate breakfast, drank Farmstrong coffee, showered, and we got out the door in time to go visit my grandma. I even had makeup on!  I was totally winning. I loved my time with my grandma and then it was out the door for my oil change.  Side note: when your car is smart enough to say maintenance required soon you should probably do something because by the time it says maintenance required and lights start flashing and your car starts clunky on the highway you’re really going to have to do something.

This happened to us the other day and I was convinced my oil was fine for another few hundred miles at least. Well apparently it wasn’t and I had to pull over at a Get Go to purchase some oil. Thank God for my husband looking up what I needed as I drove and prayed I wouldn’t get stranded on the highway with Bekytt in the back. As soon as I popped my hood, a very nice gentleman asked if I needed help. Now normally I may take offense or proudly assert that I did not need help and continue to add oil to the car as instructed how by my husband, but this time I had a baby on board. This time I’d rather sit back and watch and be incredibly thankful that he assumed I needed help because well, I did.

After 3 quarts of oil, we could finally see a mark on the dipstick and I was good! So thankful to have had help all around and so thankful to be in a safe spot nursing in my back seat before we left. Well I must be oblivious to the world because as soon as I started to pull out and turn my car to exit, three cop cars blocked the way as they were surrounding one single car in the middle of them, driver still in car! WTF?! There was pretty much a hold up 50 feet behind me and I sat there nursing my baby in the backseat singing songs with my hood popped and some stranger filing it! Sorry you’re just finding this out now, honey. Forgot to tell you.

Ok, moving on. Today was better. I got that much needed oil change, came back “home” to go on a walk with Bekytt, visit with a friend, and then headed to dinner with my family. This would be the first time I was going out to eat since I’ve been home and I was excited! I knew my family would be thrilled to meet (and hold) Bekytt and I knew the member only restaurant would have delicious food within my dietary restrictions. Win win. Let me tell you, it was an incredible night. Bekytt behaved, we had literally the largest crab legs I’d ever seen that were just so succulent, and sushi grade tuna with avocado and bruschetta. Mmm. I savoured, and devoured, every last bite.

When it was time to go, I’m not sure I was ready for it to end, but these days it’s Bekytt’s world and I’m just living in it, so we headed home when he started to wake and fuss. About 10 minutes into the drive my stomach felt funny. By the time my dad got us home, it was not so funny. I just knew what was about to happen. I tried to ignore it, deny the stomach cramps, the waves of nausea, the sense that I was going to lose my meal at any moment, but there was no denying it. There was only hand baby to grandpa and run to the bathroom.

After a few rounds of this I began to wonder, what if I was alone? How the hell could I have food poisoning and a baby? Those two do not go together. One must go away and it’s not going to be the baby. My silver lining was that food poisoning only lasts a short time. Get it out of me and get going! Wait, is that what they mean by Get Go!? Anyways, at least it wasn’t the flu. I mean come on, how can you have the flu and take care of an infant! God should put some force field over moms of newborns and never let them be sick. Sick means wearing PJs all day, watching Princess Bride, and drinking Powerade. Being sick never included caring for another human being. Usually it means you need to be cared for.  This experience made me really stop and think about moms with multiple kids. What if you got sick and had to take care of a newborn and a toddler? Can you even Breastfeed?

My husband helped me here too as I somehow got a few texts out to let him know what was happening. You can indeed Breastfeed with food poisoning I found out. While that seems weird to me, I was very thankful that Bekytt would not experience this feeling. We could all guess at what did it, but the restaurant we went to was pretty high end so it’s hard for me to believe they cooked something wrong or served bad fish. All I know is thank goodness I’m ok now.  My body and my car can now move on with our lives. I will, however, always plan for the unexpected (or expected as my car told me so) next time I decide to travel alone with our son and make sure to thank my dad in the morning. –Kathryn Kraft, MPT

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10/24/17: Part of the Club

I didn’t know what I was missing-When you hit a certain age, it seems like every one of your friends is getting married. A few years later, everyone starts having kids.  When you’re 30 years old and not one of the married ones with kids, you start to really wonder if that will ever be you. Some people know they don’t want marriage or kids. Some want it more than anything and it never happens.  I was one of the ones who always wanted a family.  I wanted a big family. A hockey line I would say, 3 forwards and 2 defenders. Five kids seemed perfect.  Five kids would turn into into 10 after marriage and hopefully at least 15 after kids.  Fifteen people created all because two people loved each other.  How awesome would that be? But when you aren’t married at 30 yo, five kids starts to sound impossible.  

Kyle and I got married when I was 34 and he was 32 yo.  It actually turned out to be perfect for us.  We are both very driven people when it comes to our careers, so getting married and having kids any earlier would have interfered with the goals we had. Don’t get me wrong, people hit pause all the time for marriage and kids and that is amazing. If I had met Kyle sooner, maybe I would have wanted to as well, but the way it worked out for us seemed perfect to me.  A few short months after being married, we were blessed with the news of Bekytt. Fast forward to today, and I now realize the amazing club we are automatically a part of.  The Secret Society of Parenthood.  

I went over to a friend’s house for dinner tonight and although it took a miracle to get there, once I was there it was magical.  Another couple and their kids were there as well.  Five kids total actually with Bekytt.  As the kids played and the adults ate, drank, and shared stories about the real lives of being a parent these days, I sat back and thought how lucky I am to be a part of this.  We could share birthing stories, poop stories, spit up stories, what does breast milk taste like stories, and sending your kids into surgery stories.  We got to talk and laugh about our kids and our experiences without anyone checking their watch or pretending to be interested because we actually were. No one was on their phone, everyone was present, and it was a great night.  If I was still childless, I’m sure I’d want to hear their stories, but I’d feel like an outsider.  Being an insider to this parenting club feels better than I thought.  Our kids become our world and to be able to have friends (and family) who can cheer with you when your kid poops for the first time in 8 days is wonderful.  Seriously. Eight days.  Apparently it’s ok for a breastfed baby to go 8 days without pooping. Can you imagine?!  Only parents could have an actual conversation about poop and be interested and proud.

I feel incredibly lucky to have joined this club and while 5 kids of our own is likely not in our future, having just one allows me to wear the mom badge and wear it proudly.  It has given me more stories than I will ever be able to share and has shown me a love I didn’t even know was possible.  Writing about my experiences has reconnected me with old friends who are now parents themselves and that is amazing.  While it is incredibly therapeutic to complain about the hard times, it is even better to get some good belly laughs in when your friends’ kid says they know what rhymes with bucket, F$#% it.  Kids definitely say the darndest things and I love it!  I can’t wait to hear our little man repeat the crazy things we say when we think he can’t even hear us.  I’m sure he’ll embarrass us just as much as we embarrass him one day and I just can’t wait.  –Kathryn Kraft, MPT</span

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10/23/17- You’re Never Too Old to Want Your Mom

Just breathe-It doesn’t happen gradually, it usually happens suddenly. Everything will be going alright, I’ll think of my mom at some point every day, and I usually smile at the memories or in the thought that she is looking down from Heaven over our family and protecting us. But every now and again it hits me right in the chest and I find myself thinking I just want my mom. That moment came last night.

The day had been going so well. Bekytt and I are all settled in OH and we are loving our family time. Yesterday we even got to spend most of the day outside as it was 73 degrees and sunny. Absolutely perfect walking weather. We got to spend time with my brother and his family, and Bekytt was eating and napping so well. They say a good night starts with a good day so I figured we had him set up perfectly. Then mom went and ruined it. While walking up the stairs, I accidentally pinched his little fingers against the wall and my shoulder. The water works began. Literally this was the first time he cried with real tears. It broke my heart.

I felt awful and there was nothing I could do but hold him and kiss and rub his tiny fingers. They are all working just fine and there were no cuts or marks on his hand, but it was obvious that it hurt. He eventually settled from that, but the crying didn’t calm down. It’s one thing when your baby is inconsolable at home, but it’s another when there are other people and kids in the house you’re staying at. You can’t help but feel guilty. We went to my nieces room so the crying wouldn’t ruin everyone’s night and we could sit and rock and breathe, but that’s when it hit me. I didn’t know what to do to settle him or stop feeling awful for literally hurting him. I tried nursing him, but he wanted nothing to do with it. I changed him so he was dry. I rocked, I swayed, I patted. I even put him down thinkin he wanted space. Nothing worked. I was so tired and I just wanted my mom so badly.

I tried to think what would Becky do? I mean I’m sure at some point my brother and I cried for hours as well. I’m sure if she were here she’d know a way to keep me calm. She’d make a joke if was appropriate, or inappropriate too actually. Or she’d just smile and breathe. She was great at keeping calm. I actually remember as a teenager getting even more mad at her when I heard her take a deep breath. “Oh really, mom? You’re so mad you have to breathe that deeply, really?” Or I’d see her close her eyes for a few moments. “Mom?! What are you doing, sleeping? I’m trying to talk to you!” And she’d calmly say “I’m just resting my eyes.” Years later I’d finally understand. She knew how to close her eyes and just breathe. How to still be in a stressful moment with a ridiculous teenage girl, and escape at the same time. She was able to use her breath to stay calm. To stop herself from yelling at me like I’m sure she wanted to, and I could see her doing that in this moment as well. I could hear her telling me, just breathe.

After my sister in law saved us by giving some great advice, I felt I could survive the rest of the night. I felt my mom there with me, but I still wished I could have handed her Bekytt and just cried as she told me it would be ok or that this too shall pass. My mom was an amazing mom, but she would have been an even better grandma. When she was sick and near the end, she told me she recorded herself reading kids books on my grandma’s old video camera so she could still read to her future grand kids one day. It broke my heart to realize she’d miss that. She passed away before my brother and I had kids, but I looked long and hard for those tapes. I’d like to think they’ll show up one day, any day, and that Bekytt and my nieces and nephew can experience her wonderful energy and have her read to them one day. But even if they don’t, I’ll make sure they know who grandma Becky was and continues to be in their lives.

Family is so important, and as much as I wish she was still here, it’s so important that we make sure her memories live on and that we just breathe. She made everything better and I know she still can. –Kathryn Kraft, MPT

10/20/17-Best Driver Ever


Goodbye to Distracted driving
-I don’t know what it is about having kids, but suddenly all your bad driving habits are thrown out the window. I confess, I was a texter and driver. Not all the time of course, but every now and again when I knew I was being safe, I’d type the occasional text. They say on average someone texting will not look at the road for 5 seconds. That seems insane and incredibly dangerous. Either I believed I was a better texter than that or I was just stupid. Probably a combination of both. But now that I have Bekytt, you couldn’t pay me to text and drive. With my hands that is.

I have found voice text and Siri to be extremely valuable. You don’t have to look at your phone to do it, and you can still let someone know when you are running late because you are stuck in traffic or your baby decided to have a meltdown. Yesterday, I was an amazing driver. All I learned in Driver’s Ed and Defensive Driving (from the military) came to light yesterday. Not only was I driving in the middle lane, assuming it is the safest, but I was scanning my mirrors, staying a safe 5 seconds behind any care in front of me. The only problem with scanning the mirrors is I have one to check on Bekytt as well. Another product that has caused accidents sadly with parents looking at their kids and not at the road. This is something I tried to go without that first week home from the hospital. It lasted only a few days before I was convinced when he was quiet he wasn’t breathing. Almost along the same lines as texting, I decided I could use the mirror safely and I would never look away from the road too long. I decided this would be safer than me freaking out that somehow the seatbelt was choking him and he was slowly passing out without me knowing.

I didn’t know what to expect when we got in the car to leave yesterday. I was hopeful, but had very low expectations. If I assumed the worst, assumed we’d only drive 30 minutes at a time, anything better would be a win. I had ordered roadtrip food (apples, snap peas, gluten free dairy free soy free granola bars and crackers) from Woodman’s online and thought if our first stop is only 20 minutes away to pick up our “groceries” then I at least have a safe spot for our first stop. Bekytt was sleeping for nearly an hour before we left so he’d likely be ready to eat by then. After the wonderful lady brought our groceries to us, he fussed a bit so I took him out of the car seat, changed his diaper and tried to feed him. He didn’t move. He was still sound asleep. I sat there for awhile thinking he’s got to wake up, but he didn’t. After a phone call from my husband, I put him back in the car seat and we traveled another 2 hours without a peep. I was driving extremely careful, hyper aware, but I had to check on him in the mirror because I literally assumed he must not be breathing if he is still sleeping this long. Well he sure was breathing.

He let me know very nicely it was time to eat. I was prepped and ready. The backseat was set up perfectly for a diaper change and feeding. Laundry bag hanging up, blanket and pillow ready for nursing, burp rags stuffed in the seat pocket. Diaper bag perfectly placed. I was proud of my preparation and it worked great! We got buckled back up and headed out for another 2 hours. This was too good to be true. As luck would have it, a great long lost military friend sent me a message that morning that we’d be driving right by her house and if we were up for a stop to let her know! After changing our route, I was sad I wouldn’t get to see any of the friends I had planned on, so this felt Heaven sent! And she lived literally right on the way. Bekytt jumped the gun a little for his nursing needs, but once we got there it was just what we needed to stretch our legs and reconnect.

We have successfully made it past Chicago. I may have had hopes of continuing the drive after our visit, but those were shattered quickly as Bekytt began his nightly ritual of crying for a few hours. My friend soothed him many times as I ate, went to the bathroom, or just took a break, and I had that glimpse of raising him in a commune again. Maybe one made of yurts. I really want to bring something like that to the US, but I digress.

Driving him reminded me of how distracted we have all become in this world. A road trip used to mean playing I Spy or trying to be the first one to complete the alphabet off of people’s license plates. It meant opening the windows and letting the fresh air in. Listening and singing your heart out to some great oldies but goodies. It meant junk food and drive thrus. Road trips were my favorite as a kid because they also lead to long conversations with my mom and brother. It was our best bonding time. We had no choice but to stay in the same room together and good things always eventually came from it. Of course there were the occasional fights with my mom yelling “I’ll pull this car over if you don’t stop. I mean it!” But that is also what made them great. I want that for my son. Ok, maybe minus the old definition of fast food, but I want him to experience the open road. Love to travel and not be locked into a device just to stay quiet on the trip. There were a few points he opened his eyes while we were driving and he was content and smiling at something. I want him to continue tolearn to self entertain at a young age and know how to live in the moment he is in and not be distracted by other things. I want to teach him how dangerous texting and driving is and I don’t even want him to have a phone until college. One of my great college friends never had a cell phone, and I swear this enabled him to embrace the college experience more than any of us. We didn’t lose him because he didn’t have a phone. He didn’t drop off the face of the earth. We just had to plan things with him like “meet me at the front door of the Red Shed at 10:30pm.” Simple planning goes a long way!

I want my son to be the Eric of our graduating class. Not being distracted by devices, enjoying friends, music and life for what it is. I want him to know what a real road trip is and I’d love to start being a good example for him. We are almost half way home this morning, so for the rest of the drive, I vow to not touch my phone and play some oldies but goodies, and maybe even roll the windows down. –Kathryn Kraft, MPT

10/19/17: Plane, Train or Automobile

Traveling with an infant: Today is the big day.  Bekytt and I are headed to Ohio to visit my family for the very first time since he came into this world. I have to say I am very excited! He will get to meet so many people who will shower him with love, but first we have to get there.  When debating how we would get there, I thought of flying first.  Seems easiest, right? Well, not when there are no direct flights so changing a plane and a long day was inevitable anyway. And then you start to worry what if he cries the entire time? No one wants to experience that when they are trying to sleep on a plane. What if someone is sick on the plane? The airflow is terrible.  I considered a train or a bus as well, but neither sounded safe or easy either. So I went with the comfort of our own car.  I feel it will give me the ability to bring all of his stuff, travel at our own pace, and be free of random germs and crazies out there.  Who knew babies needed so much stuff!

When starting to pack, I realized our tiny human needed more things than I did! His special bath towel, all his soaps/oils/lotions, cloth diapers, cloth wipes, laundry bag for diapers, laundry detergent for diapers, cute outfits,onesies, sleepers, nose thingy to clean out boogers, cute shoes, tiny socks, hats to protect him from the sun, blankets, his topponcino, oh and we must bring his Boppy lounger.  I should probably bring his night light sound machine he loves.  Oooh and the incline to go under his mattress.  What if he needs his humidifier?  Thank God my Sister in Law has kids and a bath seat! Wait, he may need bottles in case someone watches him. And my pump.  What am I forgetting? Oh ya, his stroller! How in the hell was I going to do anything but drive? My car is packed like I’m headed on a 10 month trip, not a 10 day trip. And it is all for him.  I snuck in a few shirts and pants for myself, but that was all there was room for.  How do people fly with all of this stuff?  I truly don’t even think I am over packing.  I feel like I may actually be forgetting things. When did babies start needing so many things? I am sure my mom didn’t bring or even have all of these things when we were little.  All you need is the boob and diapers really.  Can’t we figure out the rest? Well apparently not, because I am bringing it all.

My initial goal was to make this trip fun and relaxing.  Stop in Racine to see a friend.  Then Chicago.  Sleep somewhere in Indiana and then drive to Toledo and visit more family before making it to good old Cleveland.  Well, that plan just changed.  Sorry friends I’ll call as our route has changed.  It all of a sudden hit me that I want the shortest drive in miles and time.  I need to have the most exits available to me and no plan for fun stops.  Bekytt is like a ticking time bomb. He can be good for hours at a time and then wake up screaming and just need his mama for another few hours.  In reality, I may not even make it to Chicago with him.  I promised many family members we will take our time, and that we will. I have no expectations but to make it to OH eventually. I will likely be breastfeeding in the backseat, but hopefully taking some walks along the way.   So if anyone has any favorite rest stops, let us know! We’ll try to hit them!

What I really feel in all of this is though is thankful.  Ever since coming home with the inevitable news of surgery yesterday, I realize every moment with him is a true blessing. Whether he is crying, or laughing, sleeping or playing, Bekytt (and every child) is a miracle.  I mean we can make other humans. How crazy is that? This tiny human may benefit from many things, but all he really needs is love.  Love is everywhere in his life and all of our family and friends have shown that in numerous ways.  Thank you, everyone for your love and support through all of our journeys.  Stay tuned for updates on how the trip is actually going along the way!  –Kathryn Kraft, MPT  

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10/18/17 Ambitious. Nervous. Hopeful. Thankful. Guilty. Scared.

Yesterday, I felt all of these things-I had a lot on my agenda yesterday and I was feeling very ambitious and excited to get the day started. I had Bekytt’s bag packed and ready, so as soon as he was settled after his morning feeding, I put him in the car to head to Madison. This was the first nap that I woke him from when putting him into the car at 9:40am.  He was sleeping so peacefully, but I figured that is the best time to get him in the car, he’ll fall right back asleep, right?  Well, he didn’t.

We got in the car and he wasn’t upset. Happy as ever actually and really smiling at something he was looking at, but he never did fall back asleep. He did however need a break to eat again, so I stopped and fed him in the backseat.  Classy.  I know.  We made it to my friends with a delivery by 11 am, but since she wasn’t home, I decided to give him a break and take him next door for a walk. The weather was gorgeous and I just wasn’t sure how many more gorgeous days we’d have.  Plus, dog parks like this were not just for dogs. I think I decided yesterday, dog parks in general are not just for dogs.  Kyle and I miss our dog Cassi daily.  We are dog people for sure, but saying goodbye to her was so hard and it feels so fresh we haven’t even considered getting another dog.  But the dog park is the next best thing! You get to walk the trails, be outside, and say “Hi” to so many adorable dogs and never have to clean up the poop! It was great really.  Bekytt seemed to enjoy it as well and I think he did nap for at least that hour of the walk.  Score.  Time was now 12pm and Hobby Lobby was around the corner.

I have heard great things about Hobby Lobby, but have never walked into the front doors.  This fireplace project has been hanging over me for months now and fall is truly the best time for home decor, so I figured I would tackle that. I was feeling nervous all day about Bekytt’s cardiology appointment at 2:30pm, so what better way to ignore that feeling and shop? Well, in that 5 minute car ride, he truly fell asleep again so to get him into his non-car seat stroller I woke him from a nap again. Nap 2 fail.  He did not fall asleep again, did eat well though and I found some great things, so I’d say success? As I loaded him back in the car to head to American Family Children’s Hospital, I figured he’d get another nap in then, I’d have some lunch before the appointment and we’d be set.  He did fall asleep, sound asleep. I tried to find somewhere to eat that had a drive thru and wasn’t unhealthy just to keep him in the car, but I don’t think that exists.  I just knew I didn’t want to wake him by taking him out of the car.  I decided I’d eat at the hospital, carefully put him in his bassinet stroller, and we’d be set for an hour nap before the appointment!

I was pretty proud of myself when I was successful at not waking him.  I was nervous walking into the hospital, but still hopeful that magically the PDA would at least be smaller or gone altogether and that his ASD wouldn’t be causing too many issues.  I was directed to the first floor cafe, ordered a delicious yet nutritious beet salad and thought I was set. And then it happened.  Bucky Badger, yes the Bucky, shows up, sees Bekytt sleeping, puts his hand, paw rather, in the stroller, taps Bekytt repeatedly ad wakes him up. The cheerleaders accompanying him scolded him.  Bekytt screamed when he saw his huge face and just as I picked him up to settle hm, the UW Band started to play.  Nap 3 interrupted.  #momfailing.  This time Bekytt decided he wouldn’t stop crying until he cried himself to sleep.  Well you can guess what happened next.  He falls asleep, mom doesn’t get to finish said salad, and then they call him back for his echo.  Nap 4 disturbed.  

The team at Children’s is great though.  They have magic ways to calm babies and do not rush us at all.  They swaddle him in a warm blanket, elevate the bed, let me nurse him, and give him some amazing lights to be distracted by.  We got through the echo and his vitals, and he finally got to sleep and stay asleep.  My husband came to meet with us and the cardiologist and as the doctor explained to us that the two holes Bekytt has in his heart are still there and won’t go away on their own, I am thankful to be in good hands.  I am thankful for the UW team and trust when surgery does come that they will take the best care of him.  The doctor was wonderful and answered all of our questions, but the parent guilt started to sink in for a brief moment afterward.  Did I do something that caused preterm labor and ultimately his heart defects?  I could ignore it before, but now that my son needed surgery to fix his heart because of it, I started to wonder.  Thank goodness I didn’t have time to think about it as I had an appointment at 5pm.

Bekytt napped this time for over 2 hours.  I felt guilty for keeping him out all day, but I really needed every moment of that day to happen.  I needed the errand to get me out of the house.  The walk for us to be outside enjoying these fall days.  Hobby Lobby to make me finish this never ending project.  Bucky because, well, we do love Bucky and I am a former Badger so it was going to happen one day.  And the echo.  The echo is what enables us to know what is going on with his heart and his doctors to know how to fix it.  I’m scared about the future.  Whether I’ll recognize the warning signs or not.  Whether he will handle anesthesia or not.  If the surgery will be successful and what the side effects will be.  But last night I handed him to a great friend, worked out, and then had Girls Night for the first time in a long time while Kyle had Bekytt.  I took care of me in the best way possible so that when I came home I could give all my love and attention to my son.  I may be scared, but I am hopeful that it will all be ok, and we have a lot of people praying for him.  He is braver than he believes, stronger than he seems, and smarter than he thinks.  –Kathryn Kraft, MPT

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