Finding the Perfect Child Care Program

When I heard they had a two year wait list and were a “Texas Rising Star” campus, I decided I just had to take a tour and get my boys on that wait list asap! I even took a tour  during nap time because I was so excited to see what they were all about. I was so thrilled to be a part of this campus…

…until I wasn’t!

I pulled up to the school and peered over the busted fence to see several four year old (or maybe even five year olds) playing on the playground, and in the sandbox, in their underwear! No shirts, no shoes, no pants! I felt my body immediately try to reverse and retreat back home, but the Austinite in me decided to be open minded and I decided to proceed with a willingness to find out what this place was all about (and why the students were playing outside in their underwear). This was problem #1.

Problem #2 & #3: We got out of the car and wandered around aimlessly looking for the entrance until a “teacher” dressed in vintage booties, an ironic tee, and daisy dukes led us through the gate. I’m all for showing your personal style as a teacher, but I also believe in professional dress for professional learners.

Problem #4 & #5: We enter the “office” and it reeks of poop. There are a bunch of two year olds using the office restroom with the door open for all to enjoy. And…the office is a DISASTER! Papers were piled high to the sky, file folders were jumbled up behind the desk, there was no where to sit, and supplies were randomly placed anywhere and everywhere.

I. Must. Proceed.

At this point I decided there was no way in hell my boys would ever attend this school, but it was like a train wreck I couldn’t turn away from. I found myself drawn towards the classrooms because I just had to find out what it was that made this place worth a two year wait? Perhaps I was the crazy one? Surely there’s something I just haven’t seen yet, right?

Problem #6-10: The director was a young gay man. This was a non issue to me until I met three more young, gay, male teachers. I’m in no wayhomophobic, nor do I think gay men can’t be day care teachers, but when 5 out of 7 teachers are young gay men, I wonder,”Is this diversity, or have you just replaced one sub-population with another?” I want diversity for my children, not only in sexuality, but in gender, race, culture…

I continued to tour the school although I found it obnoxiously overstimulating, dirty, and cluttered. My mind was racing from one sight to the next. What I fell in love with; however, was it’s ideals. It’s philosophies. It’s approach to learning. The biggest issue to me was the environment, but so much of a child’s learning at this age is environment so I still couldn’t consider this place. No matter what their educational philosophy is, a child just will not thrive in a school of chaos.

So…what should a parent look for when choosing a school, or child care, for their infant or toddler.

  1. An infant/toddler classroom should be tech free and battery free. No ipads, no computers, no smart phones, no tablets, and definitely no TV. This age group not only can become overstimulated, but they learn best from experience, not entertainment.
  2. There should not be discipline, time outs, or any consequences for misbehavior. This age group (baby-12m) does not know how to misbehave. Everything they do is driven from curiosity, lack of ability to communicate, and instinct. They need positive guidance, modeling, and redirection.
  3. Everything should be at the child’s level. Teaching decor, mirrors, sensory items, nap mats, toilets, even toys, should be accessible to the child and hung at the child’s eye level (not the adult’s). This shows the children this place was designed with them in mind and this is a place where they’re superior, not inferior.
  4. A child care center, or school, should not be sterile, but it should be clean. If it smells of lysol or other toxic chemicals, it’s not the place for your child. Ask the director what they use in cleaning and how they disinfect. They should be cleaning regularly, with help from the children, and using nontoxic, VOC free, fragrance free cleaners.
  5. Studies show that an organized room is an organized mind. Children thrive in an organized space! Areas of the classroom should be distinguished and/or framed using rugs, mats, or shelving. Perhaps various colors signal different areas, but it should be visible to adults where each area of the classroom is, and things should be labeled and clutter free. Each child should have a space for their own things as well.
  6. The environment should be calming and the colors should be neutral. Color is powerful for the mind and soul, therefore can be overstimulating to infants. Neutral tones should be used and a soft pallet of color. An infant classroom should also have furnishings made of real world, natural materials such as wood, or metal. This allows the child’s brain to take in new information from the learning activities, without being overstimulated/exhausted from it’s surroundings.
  7. Plenty of natural light and access to the outdoors is crucial.
  8. If the director, or teachers, tell you they have a curriculum for infants, RUN! This age group should not be “taught”, “educated”, or “entertained”. They should be provided an environment for learning to take place through sensing, exploration, and experience.
  9. Do they allow “drop in” care? If so, be prepared for random kids you don’t know to be included in your child’s class from time to time. This will not only disrupt routine and sense of security for your child, but will introduce new personalities, new germs, and new dynamics into the structure of their day. Not healthy.

I liked that this particular school described themselves as “child centered” and explained to me that they have a play based learning program. That’s generally what I want to hear. They also told me they don’t force children to apologize for behaviors because they believe a child will find their own way to communicate when they feel sorry for their actions. I agree with this. Children should not be forced to apologize, be affectionate, or make eye contact. The child’s natural feelings should always be validated and respected. I liked that they seek diversity in student make-up, but I would’ve liked to see diversity in the teaching staff as well. I also like the idea of allowing children to be free and make their own choices as much as possible, but whether or not they wear clothes at school was a bit too far for me.

Good luck…it’s a jungle out there!

Stay gold,

That Girl

 

I Already Miss This

When you’re a mom, everyone tells you to “enjoy every moment” and how “it goes by so fast”. I’ve only ever wanted to be a mom so I have breathed in every moment and treasured each day, but this doesn’t stop time from racing by at warp speed. When I was pregnant I told myself I’d document everything, fill photo books, and date each milestone, but then they arrive and you find yourself spinning in circles trying to catch your breath and suddenly they’re almost through their first year of life and you know there are already things you’ve forgotten they did that were so wonderful and hundreds of moments you already miss. 

I already miss…and never want to forget…

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  • The way Cannon would wake up the entire neighborhood with his pterodactyl sounds after he first found his voice
  • How Cash would hold his eyes open as if falling asleep meant life or death
  • Taking a bath with him because they were tiny enough we all three fit in the tub together
  • Sneaking into bed next to their tiny Snugglenests and smelling their sweet breath, hearing their grunts and groans as they slept
  • I miss the tearless cries and toothless mouths
  • Nursing them in the tub
  • Cash used to get the hiccups ’round the clock & I loved the way he’d cling to me like a baby monkey with each jolt
  • The way they’d grunt like zombies and Cannon would smack his tummy or beat his chest demanding more food
  • The look on Cash’s face when he rolled over for the first time which scared the hell out of him
  • The way bashful Cannon used to put his cheek to his shoulder and look up at strangers as if he knew what a Gerber baby he was
  • Wearing them in my ACK wrap knowing they’d fall asleep in a matter of minutes with their head on my chest

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  • Nursing them and watching them search desperately for each other’s hands and seeing the relief when they found each other
  • Taking hour long naps with one (or sometimes both) snuggled in to my side or asleep on the breast
  • The way Cash would pet my face or stroke my hair as he fought sleep
  • Bundling them up in their Woombie swaddles and seeing them inch towards each other to spoon all night
  • Cannon talking to himself in his carseat mirror like he’d found his best friend
  • Cash kicking his legs wildly in the tub

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  • Their sweet chubby faces peeking out from under their Walrus or Hippo hooded towels
  • The excitement when they heard Rafi’s “Day-O” song the first time
  • Cash’s huge smile and sly giggle when I’m cleaning countertops
  • The way Cannon’s jowls rest on his carseat straps
  • Cash losing his voice from making zombie noises all night
  • The snuggles in the morning…heads on my shoulder
  • Sleeping next to Cannon from 4am-6am and kissing his juicy lips when he wakes up
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  • Cash log rolling from end to end on the bed attempting to dive off before we catch him
  • Wrestling them both after bath wondering when it was they stopped laying there letting me massage them
  • Biting their “biscuits” during diaper changes and hearing them laugh hysterically
  • Chasing them room to room and scaring them so bad they levitate and crack up laughing
  • Cash’s face on the swings

This list will only continue to grow and grow and grow as their personalities develop and as we experience more of this beautiful life together. I could choose to be sad as I think of days gone by, or I could focus on how wonderful it is that there’s even more of this to come. Their hands will not always be so small and chubby, but I’ll always have them to hold. Their feet will one day stomp instead of pitter patter, but the sound of them in my home will always be music to my ears. Their mouths will one day kiss a woman they’ve fallen in love with instead of me, but…their hearts will have always been mine first. Twice blessed, forget the rest.

Stay gold, That Girl

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Fall Portrait Party!

YOU are invited to a portrait party in the heart of the hill country! Ariel Rawlings, elite wedding and family photographer and owner of Evan & Marin Photography, is offering fall portrait mini-sessions for ONE DAY ONLY Oct 8 at Whole Heart headquarters (aka, my home). Picture two acres of Texas hill country with miles and miles of rolling hills behind you. imagine hay bales, quilts, pupkins, apples, wood crates…

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Ariel is super talented with light! She’s that photographer that reminds us all that it takes more than a fancy camera to be a pro; it takes artistic talent and an eye for detail. I’ll be setting up three pinterest-esque fall portrait backdrops on our property for you to choose from. Or, opt for no backdrop and just get down with nature!

It’s a party so come mingle with other mamas. Those that schedule sessions in the morning can enjoy pumpkin bread from Quacks Bakery (I think there’s crack in it as it’s SO addicting) and fresh coffee or mimosas. Those that schedule the afternoon sessions can enjoy wine from local wineries and a charcuterie board with fresh meats and cheeses.

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Bring the baby, bring the kids, bring your partner, or bring the whole fam damn! This opportunity is too good to pass up. Ariel is offering her services PLUS three photos at a fraction of her sitting fees. Sign up here for the time slot that works for your family. Should you sign up during the TX/OU game…yes, the game will be on our outdoor TV!

Stay gold, 

That Girl

The Baby Cubby: Make Your Own!

You know when you were a kid how you’d stash your favorite toys somewhere special? You had your own little cubby of favorite stuff, right? Or, when you were in school how you’d store your favorite supplies, lip balm, books, or crayons in your “cubby”? Well, that’s the inspiration behind The Baby Cubby! They know how mind boggling it can be to search hundreds of products across multiple websites, so they did the leg work for us and stashed the best baby gear (everyone’s favorites) in one little cubby; thebabycubby.com

When I read they claimed to have the “best”, I thought, “Yeah, I’ll be the judge of that”, because I’m a bit of a baby gear nazi (shocker, right?), and I know what the “best” actually means. But, as I perused their website, I was pleasantly surprised they actually DO have the best. And, they don’t have the best stuff mixed in with a bunch of crap like so many stores and websites do. They have just the best and that’s it, which makes navigating the site a dream! Here’s an example: the Ubbi Diaper Pail is THE best diaper pail on the market for both disposables AND cloth diapers (a steel trap for odors). The Baby Cubby sells the Ubbi Diaper Pail and that’s the only diaper pail on the site…because it’s the best.

So, no more hounding your friends for their recommendations only to realize they’re only recommending what they used that didn’t suck. Go to thebabycubby.com and build your registry all in one place, feeling confident that what you’re registering for is the best.

Here’s my dream registry on thebabycubby.com (most of which I have and LOVE!):

Oeuf Crib or Babyletto 3-in-1

Oeuf Gray Sparrow

Oeuf Gray Sparrow

Ouef Changer/Dresser

Boon Flair High Chair (super modern and easy to wipe down)

Mamaroo or Nuna Leaf are MUST haves! Use these as swings, bouncers, even chairs, for the first six months of life!

Get the Baby Jogger if you’re an urban mom who likes to get easily in and out of places and only plans on having one kiddo. I’d recommend the Uppababy Vista or Cruz if you aren’t done building your family, are expecting multiples, or just like a chicer look. The Baby Jogger can conquer more terrain and has a one handed close option, but the Uppababy folds up pretty compact as well, and even though youneed both hands to close it, it’s still a cakewalk (I use this all day err day with my twins). Also, the Cruz can grow with your family with seat adaptors and down the road you can even attach pedal board for older kiddos.

Little Unicorn Quilt (I die over the cobalt blue)

The 4Moms Breeze Playyard is the bomb.com, but get a Dock-aTot too if you travel often or want one at grandma’s house (or both grandma’s!). Both allow you to have baby sleeping in the room near you until you transition to cribs, pop up easily for travel, and can be taken to friends or family’s houses easily for naptime away from home.

Be sure to add the Boon Patch bottle drying rack. I also dry my Kiinde pouches here and my baby food jars…and my wine glasses!

Ubbi Diaper Pail (get one for every place in the house where a diaper might be!) It traps odors, it’s super sleek, and it’s lightweight.

Lorena Canals Machine washable Rug for playrooms, nursery and even the living room. My goobers use their’s everyday for tummy time, play time, storytime, and even changing!

Lorena Canals Dark Grey Ombre

Lorena Canals Dark Grey Ombre

Owlet Vital Signs Baby Monitor…safer sleep, happier parents.

The Nursery Art by Petal Lane and Petit had me swoonin’. Take a look here

I’m a HUGE fan of the Happy Baby Wrap and wear mine around the house, at the store, at the park, and even when we’re out to eat and one of my boys gets fussy; however, if wrapping your baby to your body is a little too scary for you, the Ergo Baby carrier with infant insert is a dream. Trust me, you’ll want a baby carrier! Worn babies cry less, eat better, are more adaptable and even have better head and trunk control.

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Covered Goods Nursing Cover as a sunshield

With all the nursing covers on the market, why go for anything less than the Covered Goods? It’s not just a nursing cover. It’s also a stroller/carseat cover, sunshield and infinity scarf…but, in my diaper bag it’s also a changing mat, a burp cloth, a blanket, a face wiper, a baby hat, an umbrella…

The Little Unicorn Bibs stole the show in the bib category for those sleek, modern prints; however, Billy Bibs came in a close second, and Aden & Anais burpcloths are a must have due to their over the shoulders design and comfy fabrics.

The Comotomo Bottle is a best-next-to-breast choice. Even if you plan on breastfeeding exclusively, you’ll want bottles for dad to give every now and then, babysiters, and you’ll want bottles when you’re out and about as some babies don’t nurse well in public.

Boon Snug spout cover for bath…trust me! The moment your kiddo starts being mobile in the tub, you’ll want this rubber whale protecting flailing limbs and thrashing heads.

Wean Green glass storage containers are another must have. First you’ll use them to store easy grab-n-go snacks when you’re postpartum and are only eating things you can grab in a driveby situation from kitchen to nursery. Then, you’ll start storing fruits and veggies because you’ll want to start getting your shape back, but before you know it, these will be storing pureed combinations for your growing bambino.

Teething sucks! Say it with me, “teething sucks!” The Baby Cubby crew obviously knows this because they’ve got all you need when your little joy is in a fit of rage trying to pop out those pearly whites! Don’t skimp on the teething toys or you’ll find yourself handing a remote control with rubber buttons to your child to chew on just for a moment of peace. Get the Calmie teething toy, the Banana Toothbrush (get 3-5), Amber Necklaces, and the Comotomo teether.

Also, don’t forget to get yourself a NoseFrida! “Is that the thing that sucks snot from their nose?” Yes, it is, but it has a filter on it so get over yourself and get one. The first time you hear your baby struggling to breathe, you’ll do whatever it takes to clear their nasal passageways and you’d use a straw and suck the snot directly into your mouth if you thought your baby couldn’t breathe. Trust.

Toys! I got a mommy hard-on for the toys on thebabycubby.com (if that’s even a thing). They have buckoos of wooden toys and open-ended toys from Plan Toys and Skip Hop. I also loved the stuffed lovies from Mary Meyer! A must have toy to register for is the Oball! We have one in the car, the nursery, and usually in the diaper bag. It’s cool to them everytime they see it.

The Little Unicorn Towel (adorbs)! Add several of these to your list.

I love the Boon Naked collapsable tub for at home, but do you travel a lot? Will you be at grandma’s often? Road trips? Hotels? I’d also recommen a Puj tub, too, then because it folds up nice for a suitcase and is super easy to use on the go.

The Clothes on thebabycubby.com include the newest craze, Rags to Riches, the very haught Tea Collection, Kickee Pants, and the super modern brand Lulu & Roo. Register for a variety of sizes in everything. And, you’ll like have favorite pieces which baby will outgrow quickly so get one of your favorites in every size so you can enjoy them longer!

Petal Pushers Labor Gown (very Rachel Zoe of you to turn down the paper hospital gown, (just sayin’)

TheBabyCubby.com does NOT disappoint. Don’t send friends and family on a wild goose chase to BuyBuyBaby, Babies R Us and Target, which are essentially the Wal-Mart’s of baby gear. Go to TheBabyCubby.com and know that you’ve got all the best stuff in one place.

If you want a custom registry completed by That Girl, go to MaternityConciergeAustin.com or book a registry completion and I’ll help you out!

That Girl

 

Finn & Emma: Totally Worth It

I’ve not been shy voicing my opinion on baby clothes (especially baby boy clothes). The dinosaurs, trains, planes, cars, and sports patches? Give me a break! What’s worse is the verbage like, “mommy’s little sailor” or “daddy’s MVP”. Baby clothes do not have to be so cheesy! Well, after 400 failed trips to EVERY single baby clothing store in the mall I finally gave up and decided I will only shop online boutiques and retailers. I was familiar with Finn & Emma from the baby expos I frequent so I reached out to them to see what the fuss was about…

Totally worth it!

As soon as my order came in the mail I could tell a huge difference right away in the quality. There was no funky “new” factory smell, no toxic film-y feeling on the fabric, and they felt sturdy- like they’d actually withstand the multiple machine washes needed when you have littles. Gasp!

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Don’t panic, it’s organic.

I’m all about EVERYthing organic for babies. Yes, even clothing should be organic when possible. Clothing (especially children’s clothing) has been found laden with hormone disrupting pthalates, formaldehyde dyes, and perfluorochemicals linked to tumor growths and reproductive problems. Cotton clothing that’s not organic will still have residues from pesticides and fertilizers used in the growth of cotton. That “new” smell is actually hazardous chemicals you are breathing in and your skin is your largest organ, meaning your baby is absorbing these chemicals and residues into their skin. Always go for hand me downs, wash clothing several times in an organic detergent, or shop organic such as Finn&Emma.

They’re GOTS certified (99% organic), no PVCs, nickle free metals, and use nontoxic inks, dyes, and processing chemicals. Finn&Emma is also a fair trade company (a company with heart!)

Style for Days

Finn&Emma clothing is stylish without being uber trendy. They opt for classic modern designs  with nature inspired prints, bright colors, and chic details. No decals, cartoons, or sports patches will be found on Finn&Emma clothing. They know there’s no need to compromise class when dressing babies and toddlers.

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Quality over Quantity

My sisters both had boys before me and passed on piles of baby boy clothes to me so I have plenty of options; however, I’d much rather dress my boys in a few high quality outfits from Finn&Emma over and over again than hundreds of outfits from those “other stores” that are fading, losing fit, and pulling. I’ve washed my Finn&Emma outfit several times already and it looks brand new every time. The patterns stay sharp, the buttons don’t wear out, and the shape holds. With babies growing out of things so quickly, why not splurge on a few timeless, high quality items they can wear over and over again until they’re outgrown and then pass them on to friends knowing they’ll still be in prime condition?

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I’m totally spoiled now! After viewing the collection on finnandemma.com, I’ve decided my boys are too good for anything else. I’m literally repulsed by the toxic smell of Gymboree and Children’s Place and apalled by the “styles” offered. I’m a modern day mama with classic taste and I refuse to dress my little gentlemen in an ill fitted romper with a choo-choo train on the butt!

Stay classy,

That Girl

How I’m Surviving the 4month Sleep Regression


If you haven’t heard of the dreaded four month sleep regression, you either don’t have children, have one too young (just you wait), or you birthed a unicorn child that was able to avoid it. I have not been so lucky so as a public service I’ve decided to let you mamas in on how I’m surviving the regression times two. 

vail twins cash and cannon

First of all, I’m not.

I tricked you into reading this post by letting you think I’m surviving it, but I’m really not. Each evening at 7pm I shiver in fear wondering what the next 12 hours might have in store for me. And all night long I cry to myself feeling like a failure as a “baby expert” and sleep guru. But, each morning at 4, 5, or 6am depending on when I finally throw in the towel and get up, I stumble into the kitchen where I fill a vat with coffee and chug it like a frat boy the morning after bid day. There’s tip #1 I guess…coffee. Part of my evening routine is to prepare my coffee and set it to go off in the wee morning hours so it’s ready when I am.

Second, go the eff to sleep when they do. 

I’ve embraced an early bedtime since the twins were born and I couldn’t see straight after 7pm. Some nights I try to party like a rock star and stay up until 8:30 or even 9 to spend time with my husband, but the next morning I have visions of stabbing him in his sleep because I’m so tired and this negates the romance (Tosh.O watching party) of the night before. Yes, my marriage is important to me; however, I prefer to meet him for a midday meal after my gallon of coffee and catch up then. We’ve had plenty of conversations about our time together and he realizes this is a short period in our lives where he’s taking third place. He understands the babies need me 100% right now and he’s supportive. Thank the Lord I didn’t marry a selfish man. So, like I said, go to sleep when they do. Most babies have their longest stretch of sleep up front so if I’m able to get down at 7:00pm, I might get to sleep until 10 or even 11. This may be all you get so cherish it!

cash and cannon, vail twins

Third, throw everything you know out the window.

If I only had one baby I would feed them only every 3-4 hours overnight and if they woke up in between that time I would quietly soothe them back to sleep in hopes of teaching them it’s not time for food yet. With two babies, this is damn near impossible. I sleep while nursing, I let them sleep in bed with me, I hold them while they sleep from time to time. Last night I even let Cash play with one hand while I used the other to hold the effing pacifier in Cannon’s mouth and I attempted to sleep in plank position across he bed with my legs hanging halfway off the mattress.

Let me walk you through it. We go down at 7:00pm as a team.

10:00pm Cash wakes up, but Cannon is still passed out. I decide to feed Cash since it’s been 3 hours.

11:00pm, Cannon wakes up at 11 for food, which disturbs Cash. Cash won’t go back to sleep without being nursed again so I nurse both.

1:00am, Cash wakes up because technically he had his best feed at 10am and his breast wasn’t full for the 11pm feed so he’s hungry again. Feed him.

2:00, Now Cannon wakes up at because he ate at 11pm. Feed Cannon.

3:30 am Cash wakes up just for kicks. Rock, soothe, pat him down. Now it’s 3:30am and I try to go back to sleep.

4:15 am rolls around and Cash can’t figure out how to transition into his new “adult” sleep cycle. Pat, rock, soothe, but he’s so pissed off he won’t go back to sleep and I’m fearful he’ll wake up Cannon. I’m so tired, angry, and frustrated that I pull him next to me and finally decide to let him nurse while I try to sleep without rolling over and suffocating him at 5am.

5:30am, Cannon is up ready to eat again and I have to wake Cash up in order to get into position to feed Cannon, too. Now both boys are too stimulated (and rested) to go back to sleep so we all get up at 6am and start the day.

6:00am, I yell the F word to myself through a loving mother’s smile and stumble to the kitchen for coffee.

chelsea vail with son cash

The point is, there are no rules during this fourth month of hell. Bloggers and sleep trainers will advise not to get into bad habits and hell, I’ve given that advice myself, but this was before I experienced it myself times two! I would much rather just get through this time, try to get as much sleep as I can, whether that means nursing on demand or holding them while we sleep, and then break those bad habits later.

As tough as this mini phase is, I love the baby breath and warm lips on my neck in the mddle of the night. I love Cash’s soft chubby hand smacking my face while he fights sleep. When Cannon wails for food, I know he’s screaming for me and knowing I have what he needs to feel safe, calm, and satisfied is a powerful feeling. So, I guess, that’s how I’m surviving the four month sleep regression. I’m trying to focus on the beautiful parts. I’m looking for joy in every challenging moment and it’s not hard to find.

Stay gold, 

That Girl

cannon vail, vail twins