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Now that I have my new iphone, I have been having fun looking for good educational apps for my son (3.5 years old) to use to help his learn to read, write, and spell better. Prior to becoming a mother, I was a reading specialist and worked with struggling students and those with learning differences. I have been also trained in Orton-Gillingham, Lindamood- Bell LIPS, and Phographix- all are programs designed to be used with dyslexic and struggling readers. So I think I know a good learning app when I see one. Here are a few that I think are worth your while to download.

There are several great apps from preschool university. The are all free!!!
ABC Magic 4 (Sound Matching Game)
ABC Magic 3 (Sound Matching Game)
ABC Magic Short Vowel Words

Montessori Crosswords ($2.99)
I know this app costs money, but I think it is worth the money. I love how the constants are in red and the vowels are in blue. This really helps a young reader to know the difference between the sounds. It is very user friendly, which I really like so Cooper can do it on his own. You can tap each of the letters and it will give you their sounds. It also has sound boxes you can tap and it will give you a clue as to which sounds belongs in that spot. From a reading specialist point of view, you just cannot go wrong with how it helps a child sounds out each sound and then blend the sounds together to create a word.

ABC Pocket Phonics ($2.99)
This is my favorite beginner reader app!! Hands down you get a lot in this one small app. It teaches handwriting skills, both upper and lower case letters. You can also select which handwriting style you wish for you child to learn (D’Nealian or Zaner Bloser), as well as cursive. It has the child first practice writing the letter while saying the sound aloud. Then the child is asked to build a word using the sound they just learned to write and say. Once the word is build, the sounds are read individually and then blended together. I think the thing that sold me on this app is that the letter sounds are stressed instead of the letter name. Teach a young child to identify letters by their sound rather than their name, helps young readers blends sound easier. Their is a lite version of ABC pocket phonics that is free. I suggest downloading the free version first, just to make sure you like it, but I promise you, you won’t regret the purchase!

Little Writer (handwriting app) (Free)
I like this app., but I would not have paid for it, but it is a good free app.  It allows you to trace upper and lower case letters, numbers, shapes, and some words. You don’t have the option to pick the font, but it is a traditional font style. There is a small animal that must eat apples in the order which you are suppose to trace. As you move your finger along, the apples disappear. It is cute and helps show the correction directionality. It does not refer to the letters by their sound, rather only their letter name. I wish it also did the letter sounds, but for a free app I guess that is okay.

That is all I have found so far. If I find any more neat apps, I am sure to share them with all of you!

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I just got my very first smart phone, an iphone. I cannot sign enough praises about finally having a smart phone. I love that I can take video and pictures of my kids and then text or email them to my family and friends in a snap. I have had a ton of fun finding educational apps for my son (3.5 years old) and my twins (2 years old). They have so many neat apps out there. But I found one that is an awesome baby log app and best of all…its free!!!

Philip Avent’s My Baby & Me App
Feeding:
This is a great app if you breast or bottle feed, since it allows you to record both bottle amounts and breastfeeding lengths. I breastfeed and only offer a bottle of expressed milk in a bottle at bedtime. What I found so wonderful about tracking the breastfeeding, is that you can hit a timer and choose which breast you started on. You can even hit pause if you have to stop in the middle of a feeding, awesome!!! Then simply hit done and the your feeding amount and which breasts were used are recorded. You can even add notes about each feeding (such as spit-up, difficult, ect.). But, you can always go back and edit your entries if you entered anything wrong or even if you forgot to record a feeding. This app will also show you a ratio of how often you breastfeed from the right vs. the left breast.

Sleeping:
Similar to the feeding option, you can record what time the nap started and what time the nap ended, as well as take notes. It is so easy to use and then shows you on a chart when your baby sleeps during the day for the week, so you can start to see trends. You can always go back and edit your entries as well.

Diaper Changes:
Keep track of wet, dirty, or wet and dirty diapers- and when they were changed. You can also keep notes. This has been so helpful for me. Haydon has had some crazy weird diapers (mucusy, green, and smelly) due to some allergies that I am trying to figure out. I can place a note about his diapers and what I ate that day so I can go back and see if there are any trends as to what is causing his weird diapers.

Other Features:
There are 3 other categories you can use but I have not utilized much. Moments, allows you to record things like first bath, first time they rolled over, etc. It allows you to put pictures in some of these moments as well. There is also weight and height that you can input from you doctor’s visits, and they show your child’s growth curve based on the WHO (world health organization).

My Rating:
I would give this app 5 starts (out of 5 stars). It is easy to use, you can track a ton of information with this app, and best of all it’s free!!

I’m Still Here

I’m still here. I have so many different post ideas that I have been storing up. Plus, I have a back log of baby summaries to write. The newborn phase with Haydon proved to be more of a challenge than I anticipated. It turns out Haydon has silent reflux and some food allergies. I am still breastfeeding him  (at 13 weeks) and I have been on a very limited diet, eliminating the top 8 allergens from my diet in hopes that it will help Haydon to feel better. I’ve already determined he has a nut allergy and I am pretty certain he has a milk/soy protein intolerance. But that’s all I have have figured out currently. I’ve been on this selective diet now for about 2.5 weeks and I’ve seen great improvement and I hope to have some of Haydon’s triggers figured out as I slowly add food back into my diet. I hope to get some more frequent posts up starting next week. Until then…thanks for stopping by and reading!

Just because someone has a blog, does not make them an expert. Anyone can start a blog and blog about any old topic. When I started this blog, I never thought many people would ever read it to be honest with you. But I have been surprise as to how many people google and find my blog looking for information about breastfeed, babywise, and wonder weeks. I really felt like I “knew what I was doing” when it came to raising my first 3 children, especially my twins (my 2nd and 3rd babies). My twins were textbook, easy babies. They slept when they books said they should sleep, they hit all their developmental milestones when they should, and they were just easy babies. So I would write blog post about raising my 3 kids and just assume what worked for me and my family should work for everyone. But then I had my 4th child, and boy was I humbled! Haydon was like no baby I had ever experienced. He did not sleep when I expected him to sleep. He did not nurse like I hoped he would nurse. All my old “tricks” were not working. It turns out Haydon has silent reflux and a possible milk and soy protein intolerance (MSPI). But what I have learned in parenting Haydon for the past 3 months is this, what worked with one baby may not work with them all. What works in one family may not work for the next family. One baby might sleep through the night quickly while and one might just need to take longer. One baby might need to cry to go to sleep, while crying might cause another baby great distress and never go to sleep. Plus, you never know if your baby will have medical issues such a colic, reflux, or food allergies to name a few. So while I maintain a blog and write posts about helping your child to sleep, eat, play, and have a good routine, please read it in light of your own circumstances. Don’t be afraid to say to yourself, “that would never work with my child” or that method is “not going to work for my family.” Ultimately, what I’ve learned is that God is ultimately in control. God knows best- he is the ultimate authority on all matters, including our children. He (God) has humbled me for that I am very grateful. So in times of distress while blogs, books, and other resources are helpful in helping us navigate parenthood, I have realized that turning to God for help through prayer has truly been the most help.

For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted. Luke 14:11

I neglected to post weeks 4-6 so I am going to combine them together, which is good because I feel like nothing huge changed between these 3 weeks.

Nursing:
I still continue to nurse one side per feeding, but there are some feedings now where I find myself nursing him from both breasts. My crazy over active let down is still in full force during these weeks, but I have at least found ways to cope with it- see this post for more on that. I started to suspect some issues other than a foremilk/hindmilk imbalance because breastfeeding became extremely difficult around 6 weeks old. While part of the breastfeeding difficulty is probably related to a growth spurt, what really concerned me was how he would pull of a scream and kick while nursing. He was also terribly gassy at the time. I spoke to a few baby wise friends that I have made on line and the suggested possible silent reflux or food allergies. I spoke to my sons doctor and he suggested that I cut out all dairy (which I had already done) and a few other items. I have found that what was truly causing the problem was caffeine!!! I was drinking 1-2 cups of coffee in the morning and then having a chocolate dessert at night. I might even have another soda or coffee in the afternoon if I was really dragging. I think I was overloading my system and poor little Haydon’s system with caffeine. After being off caffeine for over 3-4 days, he was like a totally different child. Nursing became much easier. He stopped pull off and screaming and kicking his legs. I also found that cutting out citrus helped, especially with diaper rash that he was getting. It still takes me about 20-30 minutes to complete a feeding, but at least I am able to get him to take a full feeding. He was also eating every 2-2.5 hours during this time. Like I mentioned before, I think he was in a growth spurt season.

Wonder Week 5:
Haydon hit wonder week 5 during this time. He was extra needy- wanting to be held more. His naps, which were averaging 1.5-2 hours, were more like 45 minutes. Haydon would gladly sleep in someone’s arms, but boycotted his crib it seemed. Evenings were not so good, which could also be a product of his wonder week or perhaps a witching hour. He just did not want to settle at night and refused to take a catnap. He was often awake from 6-9/10pm with little snoozes here and there, but no real sleep. I was cluster feeding in the evenings about every 2 hours from 6pm until he finally went to sleep. Once I realized that he was in the mist of a wonder wee, the crazy witching hours seemed to make more sense. By the end of week 5, Haydon seemed more content and had become more alter and aware of his surroundings. He began to turn his head to see different sound or people, as well as tracking objects with his eyes. By week 6, Haydon gave his first social smile. Oh, I just love those toothless baby open mouth grins!

Schedule:
During these three weeks, I was only able to stay consistent with a starting wake-up time to our day. From that point on, I ended up feeding about every 2-2.5 hours during the day. His naps were just not extending long enough to complete a longer enough wake, eat, sleep cycle. His wake time during this time remained about 45-50 minutes. he went down very easy for all his naps so I know I achieved the right amount of waketime for him. Naps were about 45-60 minutes long. I did get an occasional 1.5 hour nap here and there. I tired to extend his naps if he woke early by giving him a paci, shush/patting him, or rubbing his head- non of these things works. I also tired letting him cry if he woke early, but that too proved to be counter-productive because he does not have the self-soothing skills in place to help himself back to sleep. Plus, since this was smack dab in the middle of a wonder week and growth spurt, crying-it-out would just be counter productive. So, I thought I should accept it and treat it like a growth spurt and then start a new wake, eat, cycle. My goals was for Haydon to be in bed for the night by 8pm, but due to his witching hour, I was not always able to achieve this. He started off only waking once in the middle of the night for a feeding, but by week 6, he was back to waking twice at night for feedings. I attributed this to his growth spurt. (by week 7, he was back to waking only once at night). He was able to go 6 hours between bedtime and his first middle of the night feeding at this time.

My Emotions:
I have to admit. I was tired. Nursing a very difficult to feed baby every 2-2.5 hours and taking care of 3 other children (two 2 year old toddlers and a 3.5 year old preschooler) was very very exhausting. I found myself getting very weepy over little things. I was easily angered. The combination of sleep deprivation and a difficult baby who was eating so frequently and take such short naps was just wearing me down. My husband reminded me that I got this way with all of my children between around this age. I knew that this phase would pass, but when you are in the thick of it all- sheesh- all you want to do is cry. Do you know what I mean? Don’t get my wrong, I just love my son Haydon and my other 3 children, but sleep deprivation is real and so are the baby blues. I am just glad I have a husband who is very supportive and loving to get me through this phase.

Schedule Log

When you have a newborn, things can be very unpredictable for the first few weeks. If you are like me, you want to get to a more consistent schedule as soon as possible. I have found that writing down when your baby eats and sleeps is helpful in trouble shooting sleeping problems and eating issues. Writing all this information down helps you to see where patterns are developing. For instance, my son Haydon is having a lot of trouble with the first nap of the day. I have been writing down what time he eats, how long he eats, and if there were any eat issues (spit up, etc.). I have been also writing down what time I start his nap time prep (Swaddling, holding, laying him down), and what time he actually falls asleep (I watch this on my video monitor). It is also helpful to record any other information such as temperature in the room, the noise level in the house, or other environmental issues that might be effecting the nap. I then keep the daily schedule log in a 3-ring binder so I can go back and look at what Haydon’s schedules have been like in the past.

If you would like to do the same- here is a PDF of the daily schedule sheet that I have been using.
Daily Schedule Log

I recently wrote a post about my over supply of breast milk, which is causing a foremilk and hindmilk imbalance. I am happy to say that I think I am on my way to correcting this issue. My supply seems to be calming down and my baby is doing much better with nursing and is having less tummy and pooping issues. But, my let down is still very strong. Once my milk lets down, it gushes out, and my baby is chocking down my milk. Poor guy! You can hear him gulping it down and spilling into his belly. He’ll pull off and my milk will just spray and soak his face and clothes. He would cry at let down due to the amount of milk that just filled his belly. The over active let down was also causing some spit up issues. Along with the strong let down, Haydon was getting too much of the foremilk, which is high in lactose and harder to break down in the gut, causing Haydon major gas and tummy cramps.

Here is how I have dealt with my overactive let down and its worked!

1. Latch my baby on until let down is achieved. Next, I would unlatch and allow my milk to flow into a cloth diaper or burp rag until my let down slowed down and was not longer gushing. Finally, I would re-latch my baby to resume nursing. I have several let downs while nursing so I repeat this step at every let down.

2. Hold baby upright position (almost a sitting position) at my breast so that the milk flow is not flowing to fast down ward. This helped Haydon not choke on the milk as much. A cradle position or football hold are not great position to be in during let down because they have your baby laying more flat as the milk spews into their mouths, causing them to choke.

3. Burp several times through the feed. The reason for this is with my over active let down, Haydon is gulping so fast that he is most likely gulping more air. This air needs to be released for the feeding to be easier and prevent tummy issue or gas. Seems to have helped so far.

For more information, please read this article:
http://www.llli.org/llleaderweb/lv/lvsepoct95p71.html