Saturday, December 15, 2007

It'll cure what ails ya

I don't think there's anything better than baby/toddler hugs and kisses. Kid hugs are fantastic, and wonderful, and beautiful, but the first time a toddler wraps her little arms around you and gives you a squeeze, your heart just melts completely.

Dahdoo has started hugging (in case you hadn't figured that one out!) and while they're sometimes hard won, "Can mama PLEASE have a hug?!" they're always incredibly healing. She's hugging her baby brother too, which just may be the cutest thing I've ever seen. And she says "thank you" almost every time she gives/receives a hug which adds a whole new level to the cute quotient.

Being a mom has taught me so much about what it really means to love. The day I met Tora and Doodle, my heart opened up in ways I never could have imagined. It was instantaneous, truly. I knew the moment I met B that I loved him, and the moment I met those beautiful little girls for the first time, I just knew that we were meant to walk this path through life together, and to help each other and love each other.

When Dahdoo was born, I struggled for quite a while to place my finger on the pulse of motherhood. She and I didn't bond right away. In fact, it took more like 6 months before I could really look in to her eyes and feel that same bond that I had with her sisters. I couldn't imagine my life without her, don't get me wrong, and felt immense love towards her, there was just something that didn't click right away.

Then when Jax was born, it was like my world stopped spinning. There was no one else around for a few moments, just he and I, soaking each other up. He looked at me with such complete trust and faith that I would protect and nurture him, that my whole being split wide open, much like it did when Tora and Doodle came in to my life. And then when I recovered from that tumult, I was this new creature. This woman, capable of love so passionate that I fear suffocating my children if I don't hide a great portion of that love. So fierce that I would go to the ends of the earth and back if it meant keeping them happy, and safe, and protected.

Motherhood has been the greatest blessing in my life, and the ability to raise these children in a home so bursting at the seams with love is something for which I give thanks with every breath. I am so monumentally blessed.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Self-feeding

A friend of mine on one of the parenting boards I belong to posted this article recently, and it pretty much sums up exactly why we've chosen to feed our kids the way we do. And really, this is how we've ALWAYS fed our kids, we just never really had a name for it before. We now know that it's termed "self-feeding" and in conjunction with extended nursing, is logical, safe, and appears to be better in the long run. There's something about allowing a child/baby to dictate when they're hungry and for what that makes a world of sense to me.

Here it is:
Breastfeeding as the basis for self-feeding

Exclusive breastfeeding is recommended for the first six months of life. Breastfeeding is the ideal preparation for self-feeding with solid food. Breastfeeding babies feed at their own pace – indeed, it is impossible to force them to do anything else! They also balance their own intake of food and fluid by choosing how long each feed should last. Breastfeeding is essentially self-feeding, with the baby in control of the process. And, because breast milk changes in flavour according to the mother's diet, breastfeeding prepares the baby for other tastes.

It is not clear whether a baby-led approach to the introduction of solids is appropriate for babies who are bottle fed; more research is needed to establish this, since bottle-feeding seems to be more mother-led. It is difficult to predict how bottle-fed babies will manage solids, so we need to be careful. However, as long as care is taken to ensure adequate fluid intake (see below), there would be nothing inherently wrong in adopting this approach. It is recommended that parents of babies who are being bottle (formula) fed discuss the matter fully with their health advisers if they wish to use this method.
Understanding the babies motivation

This approach to introducing solids offers a baby the opportunity to discover what other food has to offer as part of finding out about the world around him. It utilises his desire to explore and experiment, and to mimic the activities of others. Allowing the baby to set the pace of each meal, and maintaining an emphasis on play and exploration rather than on eating, enables the transition to solid food to take place as naturally as possible. This is because it appears that what motivates babies to make this transition is curiosity, not hunger.

There is no reason for mealtimes to coincide with the babies milk feeds. Indeed, thinking of (milk) feeding and the introduction to solid food as two separate activities will allow a more relaxed approach and make the experience more enjoyable for both parents and child.
Won't he choke?

Many parents worry about babies choking. However, there is good reason to believe that babies are at less risk of choking if they are in control of what goes into their mouth than if they are spoon fed. This is because babies are not capable of intentionally moving food to the back of their throats until after they have learnt to chew. And they do not develop the ability to chew until after they have developed the ability to reach out and grab things. Thus, a very young baby cannot easily put himself at risk because he cannot get the food into his mouth in the first place. On the other hand, the action used to suck food off a spoon tends to take the food straight to the back of the mouth, causing the baby to gag. This means that spoon feeding has its own potential to lead to choking – and makes one wonder about the safety of giving lumpy foods off a spoon.

It appears that a baby's general development keeps pace with the development of his ability to manage food in his mouth, and to digest it. A baby who is struggling to get food into his mouth is probably not quite ready to eat it. It is important to resist the temptation to 'help' the baby in these circumstances since his own developmental abilities are what ensure that weaning takes place at the right pace for him. This process is also what helps to keep him safe from choking on small pieces of food, since, if he is not yet able to pick up small objects using his finger and thumb, he will not be able to get, for example, a pea or a raisin into his mouth. Once he is able to do this, he will almost certainly have developed the necessary oral skills to deal with it. Putting foods into a baby's mouth for him overrides this natural protection and may increase the risk of choking.

Tipping a baby backwards or lying him down to feed him solid food is dangerous. A baby who is handling food should always be supported in an upright position. In this way, food which he is not yet able to swallow, or does not wish to swallow, will fall forward out of his mouth, not backwards into his throat.

Adopting a baby-led approach doesn't mean abandoning all the common sense rules of safety. While it is very unlikely that a young baby would succeed in picking up a peanut, for example, accidents can and will happen on rare occasions – however the baby is fed. Rules of safety which apply in other play situations should therefore be adhered to when eating is in progress.
Won't he start eating solids too early?

The babies who participated in the research were allowed to begin at four months. But they were not able to feed themselves before six months. Some of the younger babies picked food up and took it to their mouths; some even chewed it, but none swallowed it. Their own development decided for them when the time was right. Part of the reason for this study was to show (based on a theory of self-feeding) that babies are not ready for solid food before six months. It seems that we have spent all these years working out that six months is the right age and babies have known it all along!

It seems reasonable to predict that if parents choose to provide babies with the opportunity to pick up and eat solid food from birth they will still not be able to do it until around six months. The principle is the same as putting a newborn baby on the floor to play: he is being provided with the opportunity to walk but will not do so until about one year – because his own development stops him. But: everything depends on the baby being in control. Food must not be put into his mouth for him. Since it is very tempting to do this, it is probably safer to recommend that babies should not be given the opportunity to eat solid food before six months.

Ensuring good nutrition

Babies who are allowed to feed themselves tend to accept a wide range of food. This is probably because they have more than just the flavour of the food to focus on – they are experiencing texture, colour, size and shape as well. In addition, giving babies food separately, or in a way which enables them to separate them for themselves, enables them to learn about a range of different flavours and textures. And allowing them to leave anything they appear not to like will encourage them to be prepared to try new things.

The opposite appears to be true for a baby who is spoon fed, especially if food are presented as purees containing more than one flavour. In this situation the baby has no way of isolating any flavour he doesn’t like and will tend to reject the whole meal. Since his parents can only guess which food is causing the problem, they risk more food rejection until they track it down. In the meantime, the baby learns not to trust food and the range of food he will accept can become severely limited. This can lead to his overall nutrition being compromised. Offering food separately, but together on the same plate, allows the baby to make his own decisions about mixing flavours.

General principles of good nutrition for children apply equally to young babies who are managing their own introduction to solid food. Thus, 'fast food' and food with added sugar and salt should be avoided. However, once a baby is over six months old there is no need, unless there is a family history of allergy or a known or suspected digestive disorder, to otherwise restrict the food that the baby can be offered. Fruit and vegetables are ideal, with harder food cooked lightly so that they are soft enough to be chewed. At first, meat is best offered as a large piece, to be explored and sucked. Once the baby can manage to pick up and release fistfuls of food, minced meat works well. Note: babies do not need teeth to bite and chew – gums do very well!

There is no need to cut food into mouth-sized pieces. Indeed, this will make it difficult for a young baby to handle. A good guide to the size and shape needed is the size of the babies fist, with one important extra factor to bear in mind: Young babies cannot open their fist on purpose to release things. This means that they do best with food that is chip-shaped or has a built-in 'handle' (like the stalk of a piece of broccoli). They can then chew the bit that is sticking out of their fist and drop the rest later – usually while reaching for the next interesting-looking piece. As their skills improve, less food will be dropped.
What about drinks?

The fat content of breast milk increases during a feed. A breastfed baby recognises this change and uses it to control his fluid intake. If he wants a drink, he will tend to feed for a short time, perhaps from both breasts, whereas if he is hungry he will feed for longer. This is why breastfed babies who are allowed to feed whenever they want for as long as they want do not need any other drinks, even in hot weather.

This principle can work throughout the period of changeover to family meals if the baby continues to be allowed to breastfeed 'on demand'. A cup of water can be offered with meals as part of the opportunity for exploration but there is no need to be concerned if he doesn’t want to drink any.

Continuing to feed 'on demand' will have the added advantage of allowing the baby to decide how and when to cut down his breast milk intake. As he eats more at shared mealtimes, so he will 'forget' to ask for some of his breastfeeds, or will feed for less long at a time. There is no need for his mother to make these decisions.

Formula milk has the same consistency throughout the feed. If the formula-fed baby were to be given milk as his only fluid he would be at risk either of not getting enough fluid, or of consuming too many calories, or both. Parents who are implementing this method of introducing solids with a bottle-fed baby should therefore offer their baby water at regular intervals once he is seen to be eating small quantities of food.
DOs and DON'Ts for baby-led introduction of solids

* DO offer your baby the chance to participate whenever anyone else in the family is eating. You can begin to do this towards the end of the sixth month. Around this time most babies start showing an interest in watching you.
* DO ensure that your baby is supported in an upright position while he is experimenting with food. In the early days you can sit him on your lap, facing the table. Once he is beginning to show skill at picking food up he will almost certainly be mature enough to sit, with minimal support, in a high chair.
* DO start by offering food that is baby-fist-sized, preferably chip-shaped. As far as possible, and provided they are suitable, offer him the same food that you are eating, so that he feels part of what is going on.
* DO offer a variety of food. There is no need to limit your babies experience with food any more than you do with toys.
* DON'T hurry your baby. Allow him to direct the pace of what he is doing. In particular, don't be tempted to 'help' him by putting things in his mouth for him.
* DON'T expect your baby to eat any food on the first few occasions. Once he has discovered that these new toys taste nice, he will begin to chew and, later, swallow.
* DON'T expect a young baby to eat all of each piece of food – remember that he won't yet have developed the ability to get at food inside his fist.
* DO try rejected food again later – babies often change their minds and later accept food they originally turned down.
* DON'T leave your baby on his own with food.
* DON'T offer food that presents an obvious danger, such as peanuts.
* DON'T offer 'fast' food, ready meals or food that has added salt or sugar.
* DO offer water from a cup but don't worry if your baby shows no interest in it. A breastfed baby is likely to continue for some time to get all the drink he needs from the breast.
* DO be prepared for the mess! A clean plastic sheet on the floor under the high chair will protect your carpet and make cleaning up easier. It will also enable you to give back food that has been dropped, so that less is wasted. (You will be pleasantly surprised at how quickly your baby learns to eat with very little mess!)
* DO continue to allow your baby to breastfeed whenever he wants, for as long as he wants. Expect his feeding pattern to change as he starts to eat more of the other food.
* DO discuss this method of weaning with your health advisers before embarking on it, especially if you are bottle feeding, or have a family history of food intolerance, allergy or digestive problems.
* DO enjoy watching your baby learn about food – and develop his skills with his hands and mouth in the process!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Quick Learner

Dahdoo has successfully taught her not-quite-10-month-old brother how to climb the stairs. All of them. All the way up to the second story of our house. As of yesterday, he could only do two steps by himself, but while I was loading the dishwasher today he got all the way up, and I found he and Dahdoo playing with Weebles in her room.

These are so not my genes at work. I blame it all on the very strong B family genes racing through his veins. He is very much his father's son, and his uncle's nephew. And I know they would both be so proud. Well, I know for sure B is, as I just called him, and assume K would be too. ;)

If you need me, I'll be curled up in the corner in a fetal position, rocking and possibly sucking my thumb. Am screwed. Send reinforcements.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Decorating

Since Tora and Doodle will be here for almost two weeks, I've been trying to come up with ideas to keep us busy during the long, very cold days ahead of us.

I want to go all out (or as much as possible with 4 kids!) in decorating this year.

We're going to the tree farm next Sunday to pick out our tree, and while there I want to get some trimmings to use for garland. The girls have been asking if we can make a wreath, and I figure I'll dig through my mom's ribbon stash to see if I can find something appropriate, then fashion a wreath and use a coat hanger to affix it to the front door. Easy enough, right? Ha.

I also want to make paper chains with them to hang over the doorways in the living room (one in to the hallway and one in to the kitchen) and spend another afternoon or two making paper snowflakes to hang from the ceiling and walls.

We'll do the usual lights and ornaments on the tree, and Tora wanted me to try and spell something with lights on a big blank spot that we now have in the living room, since I moved the tall bookcase in to the office. That should be interesting. I also promised them that I'd hang my old chili pepper lights up in their room.

I'm doing a holiday swap on one of the message boards I'm on, and want to make some ornaments to send the family I've been paired up with. I've also got a box of tea for the mama and an adorable scarf for her little one. Tora and Doodle want to add some stuffed animals to the box as well. It should be a lot of fun to get everything ready with them. Can't wait!

Here are some random pictures from the last few weeks:



Thursday, November 29, 2007

Sick

You know that feeling you get right before you get really sick? That all over achy body feeling accompanied by chills, sore throat, and nausea? And that fuzzy head feeling? Yeah, I've got that.

I'm keeping fingers crossed that upping my Vitamin C intake will be enough to keep serious sick at bay, because let's face it, I simply can not afford to get sick.

Dahdoo (S2) has a sinus infection, but is her usual bubbly self. I've told B many times that if she's ever actually acting sick, we should go to the emergency room, because it must be life threatening.

Jax (J) is a mess. First it was the peanut sensitivity, so I cut all nuts out of my diet. Luckily, it's just peanuts he has a problem with, so I could still have my hazlenut spread that I love so much. Then the eczema got a lot worse, so I did some research and decided to try cutting dairy out of my diet to see if his skin improved. Sure enough, the scales on his shins started to clear up within a week. Then, with the cold, dry weather, he got a lovely eczema rash all over his trunk. Poor bebe. In addition, I have to go get a few yards of fleece to make diaper liners, because he gets a rash if even the smallest drop of moisture lingers on his skin for more than about 90 seconds.

He is VERY fair skinned (almost see-through, Portia!) and a redhead, so I guess we should have seen this coming? Figures that our one boy would be the wussy one (I'm KIDDING!).

Tora (V) and Doodle (S1) will be here for almost two full weeks around Christmas! I am SO excited! I've never had this much continuous time with both of them. This summer I had each girl for one week while they had gymnastics camp, but this will be the first long stretch with them together, and with me home with all four kids all day every day. I'm borrowing some activity ideas from friends of things to do each day to keep us busy, since they'll be here for about 12 days.

Life has been really really good the last month. B and I made a promise to each other that we would put in more effort to maintain a happy, healthy home, and it's been going really well. The house is staying tidy, the kids are in better moods, I'm happier, and we're communicating even more than before. There's a lot more laughter around us, and we've been missing that. It's good to be back.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving...

to you and yours!

Things I'm thankful for:

Four healthy children
A roof over our heads
Food on our table
The love of a good man
A family of friends
Parents and siblings (natural and in-law!) who love and support us
Knowing that I am able to be myself and be accepted as such
The strength to conquer all life throws at us and excel through it

Today (and every day) I give thanks for all of the things in my life that are cause for celebration, and I also give thanks for the dark points in my life, that brought about so much light.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

The Heimlich Maneuver

Thank God for that training I received before I was allowed to bring S2 home from the NICU!

Tonight J was doing his semi-regular routine of screaming bloody murder for no obvious reason, and none of the usual tricks were working. I was attempting (quite pitifully) to eat dinner at the time, as I hadn't eaten all day, and gave him a very small piece of the crust of my sandwich bread. This piece was MAYBE 1/8" square.

Next thing I know, he's screaming silently, eyes bulging, flailing with all his might. I quickly laid him belly down on my lap, with his face between my knees, and gave him three strong, swift thumps with the heel of my hand between his shoulder blades. He was still flailing, and not making any noise, so I repeated it twice more, and on the third attempt the piece of bread came flying out.

Then of course, he screamed to beat the band. He was so terrified, and spent the next 30 minutes clinging to me for dear life. I finally calmed him down enough to nurse, and he fell deeply asleep within two minutes.

He's now sleeping peacefully in his bed, no worse for wear, and I can't stop shaking. B isn't here tonight, and I'm alone with S2 and J. Choking is my biggest fear. It's part of the reason that we decided to mostly let the kids self-feed, because it greatly reduces the risk of choking. We've never cut their food in to teeny tiny bites, opting instead to give them something big enough to really grab hold of it, and nibble little pieces off at a time. And it's worked marvelously.

Figures that the one time I go against that and give him an "appropriate" sized bite, he chokes.

Again, thank God I was able to recall those lessons quickly and effectively.

Tonight sucked.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Plugging along

Along with all of the walking progress comes fun new verbal developments. S2 is up to about 50 words now and close to a dozen signs, and is learning new signs every day. She also picks up on more and more words every day. Today was "okey dokey" or "ho-key go-key" in S2 speak. She wants a word for everything, so the American Sign Language dictionary is one of our favorite websites. Some words are just too hard for her to say at this point, and a sign is easier.

J is pulling up like crazy, and stands there growling and squealing as long as he can. He occasionally then freaks out when he can't figure out how to get back down on the ground, but we're working on it. I want to tell him to slow down and enjoy his baby-ness for a while, but he's not having it. He MUST do everything his big sisters can do, and he must do it NOW. There's no waiting with this one. Kinda makes my uterus hurt, to be honest with you. But, I know that the chances of us having another baby are slim and none.

S2 got a Gloworm from her Papaw last night, and spent all day hauling it around the house, hugging it to her, and saying (and signing) "baby" every chance she got. We're going to make sure she gets her own baby doll for Christmas, as she's obsessed with babies at the moment. She must be involved in the action any time we're doing anything with her baby brother, and I gotta tell ya, it comes in handy when she sees us changing him and immediately brings us the wipes and diaper cream! She's also fascinated with watching her brother nurse, and stands in front of me yelling "Noose! Bebe! Noose bebe!" It's adorable, but mildly distracting for said "bebe" when he's trying to "noose."

S1 had her first test in school last week, and aced it. If you ask her about it, her whole face lights up and the story comes spilling out of her so quickly that she has to stop halfway through just to catch her breath. It's so very much fun to watch her get so excited about school.

I was given a link to a very neat educational website by a friend, and V and S1 and I sat around last weekend downloading worksheets for them to do. When V saw that the site had worksheets on fractions, she actually squealed. "Fractions?! I LOVE fractions! Can I do that one pleasepleaseplease??" My baby is a math nerd, and it's adorable. S1 on the other hand couldn't care less about math if she tried...she wants to learn to read, like yesterday. She's all gung-ho about it, and just got her first book from the school library. That book became her prized possession for the week it was in her custody.

This growing up thing is oh so much fun. I'm loving every minute of it.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Monday, October 29, 2007

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Pictures!

Making progress on the walking front with S2. She now will stand unassisted in the middle of the room, and today she took a tentative step forward to get a toy, then decided crawling was better. Baby steps...haha...get it? ;)

Without further ado, pictures!






Saturday, October 20, 2007

18 months

My dear, sweet baby girl.

You are 18 months old today! I can hardly believe that it's been that long, and at the same time I can't believe it's ONLY been that long. I remember vividly the tangle of emotions that I went through on the day you were born. You were so small, and fragile, and delicate, and I was so scared for you.

You've come through your rocky entrance in to this world with flying colors. You light up a room with your smile, and every laugh is like music. Your smile can be hard won. You watch people so intensely, and it can take you a while to warm to them. You seem to read them, and then decide if they're worth being comfortable around.

I've learned so much from you about patience, and love, and finding beauty in the simple things. My heart swells with love for you when you lean in and give me a sloppy kiss, or hang tightly to my arms when you're feeling uncomfortable. I love that you look to me for safety, and comfort, and reassurance that you're in a safe place.

You're so adventurous, but are always careful to look to us for guidance. You learned to stand on your own yesterday, and I know it's only a matter of time before I'll be able to look down and see your little hand in mine as we walk around the neighborhood, and not long after that you'll want me to let go. I don't know if I can ever let go, baby girl.

You adore your big sisters, and squeal with excitement every time you see them. You follow them everywhere, and are distraught when they leave the room without you. They eat it up. You are their favorite person to be with, and they tell me daily how much they love you.

You light up when your daddy walks in the room, and are crushed when he leaves. I know how hard it is on him to have to leave you, but I also know how much it means to him to get to come home to you. When he's here, he's your go-to guy. You will always turn to your daddy before me, and I'm fine with that. I love that you love him so much.

You learn new things every day, and amaze me constantly. You are growing up so fast, and every day you leave a little more of your "babyness" behind. Soon you'll be running away from me without a second glance to go join your friends, and I'm not sure how I'll handle that. I want to keep you small just a little longer, but I so love to watch you grow.

Being a mom is one of my greatest joys in life, and you and your siblings make me want to be a better person. I want to be a mother that you will respect when you have a family of your own, and that is my goal in every decision I make.

I love you so much, baby, and I am so honored that you chose us to be your family. We wouldn't be quite as complete without you. You bring joy and love to our home, and for that I am eternally grateful.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Yes!

B and I were just sitting in the living room dancing and singing with the kids, and he was holding S2 up and helping her dance. Then he let go, and she kept dancing! A few more times of that, and she dropped to a squat, and then STOOD.BACK.UP. This is so cool.

So, we know she can stand unassisted now, and she took a few steps towards me, but it was more of a controlled fall. Finally, signs of walking.

J is pulling up on everything, and can go from laying down to sitting up, and started crawling traditionally a little bit today. It's going way too fast.

Monday, October 08, 2007

4 Years

B and I celebrated the 4th anniversary of our first date yesterday. Four years seems like such a long time, yet it's gone by so incredibly quickly. So much has changed!

In the last four years, we have:
- moved three times
- gained one pet
- got married twice
- had two babies
- worked 8 jobs

There are so many other things that I can't even think of right now. We are so blessed. Our family is happy, healthy, and perfectly blended. Our kids are growing like weeds and learning new, amazing things every day. We are so much closer now than we were four years ago, and even more in love, although had you asked me four years ago, I would've told you that you were crazy to suggest that it could get any better than it was then. But it has gotten so much better. So much richer, and fuller, and more "right" and comfortable. He knows me so completely, and I him.

I know it's sappy, but I feel so lucky to have found The One, and so glad that I get to spend the rest of my (hopefully long) life with him.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

I am in so much trouble

J pulled up on to the second step of the staircase today. Yep. He grabbed the first step and pulled up on to his knees on the hallway floor, then reached up and grabbed the second step and got both knees on the first step. Then, he freaked out, giggled, let go, and flung himself backwards in to my waiting hands. He was oh so excited. The motivation for this development? S2 was crawling down the stairs, and he wanted to get to her. How cute is that?

S2 figured out how to climb on and off of her rocking elephant safely, all by herself. She was so very excited, and realized that when she clapped, it rocked, making her even more excited.

I'll get pictures tomorrow, I know it's been a while.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Moving moving moving

S2 took her first unassisted steps last night! We were at a friend's house, and she was standing at the ottoman, and all of a sudden she turned and took three steps to us and grabbed on to the couch B and I were sitting on. It was really more of a controlled fall, but it's a start! Very exciting, and she was so proud of herself.

J pulled up on to his knees last night as well, also at our friend's house. Apparently, we should go over there to visit more often...or less often, depending on how you look at it.

The latest in destructive behavior:
I went out to get the mail yesterday, and when I got back in S2 had knocked over the baby gate leading in to the hallway, opened the pantry door, got out an (open) box of spaghetti and gave it to J, who dumped it all over the floor, then she plowed through the gate leading in to the kitchen, and by the time I came back in she was standing at the dog food container scooping the dog food on to the floor, presumably so that her little brother could have a snack. 'Cause, you know, she's helpful like that.

We're thinking of installing the metal folding security gates that you see on store fronts, as nothing else seems to deter these babes.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The Destructo Twins

Seriously, they're tricksy and smart. S2 can open baby gates, and doors, and drawers of all kinds. It's getting to the point that all I do all day is sit in the living room floor and run interference. So, I'm going to try and rearrange the living room to make it even more baby friendly. I'll move all of the important stuff (diaper dresser and storage bins) behind the couch, and put all of their toys in the main area of the living room. Hopefully this will mean less of the "No don't eat my breast pads!" statements, and more of them playing however they want to. I think I'll move the shoes behind the couch too so that they can stay in one place more easily.

Still no walking in sight for S2. Maybe by the time she's 2? She can get down the stairs safely now, so that's something.

Also have to S2-proof the girls room, since all three girls are sharing a room now. When I went to get S2 this morning, her face was purple. I have NO idea what she got in to, but I'm not a big fan of waking up to a multi-colored baby.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Whoops!

I let the blog slip. Sorry!

My computer died, and sharing a computer with B is difficult at best. He really needs his down time in the evening, and I don't have much time during the day to get on the computer, so there goes my blogging!

In the interim, S2 is talking up a storm, and starting to put phrases together. She is very vocal about what she wants, and uses sign and spoken words equally. She'll grab her cup, crawl over to me and say "juice" while signing "please." She blows kisses, gives high fives, grabs her shoes when you say "let's go!" and then sticks her feet up for you to put them on her. She can undress herself and remove her diaper, much to my chagrin, whether that diaper have snaps or Velcro.

We transitioned her in to her sisters' bedroom last weekend, and moved J in to his own room. We realized that, as much as I have loved the closeness we've shared at night over the last 7 months, every time B or I rolled over, J woke up. None of us were sleeping, and it was effecting my health and my relationships. So we started the switch last weekend, and the first two or three days were pretty rough. I am firmly against letting my babies "cry it out" and as such spent a lot of time going back and forth between J's room and my own, just to reassure him that I was there. The fourth night, he only woke up once, and needed only to eat before he fell back to sleep. The next night, he went to bed at about 8:30 and didn't wake up until 6am. Night before last, same thing. Last night he woke up once, but barely nursed before he was asleep again. So far so good.

S2's transition has been a little rough. Not only is she in a new room, but in a new bed. She's now in a modified crib (the side rail has been removed and replaced with a low mattress rail) and can get out of bed by herself. She can also open almost all of the doors in the house, since the only door that isn't a French style handle is the front door. Given how tall she is, doorknobs are a piece of cake. Her first goal upon opening her bedroom door is to go in to her brother's room and sit in front of his crib yelling "Jacks! Jacks!" until we get him out to play with her. It's wonderful.

They really are very close, and share a twin-like bond. When J is upset, S2 will crawl over and pat his back to help calm him down. If S2 is unhappy, J will lay his hand on her body. At least three times a day, they just look at each other and giggle. S2 can make J laugh like no one else can. She wants to share everything with him, even toys! Of course this means that we have to watch her like a hawk when she has food or drink around, since J has no idea how to chew and will instead choke, but I wouldn't trade their tight-knit bond for the world.

V is trying to decide if she wants to do gymnastics after all. Ever since her camp, she spends every available daylight minute practicing her cartwheels in the front yard. We'll see where she goes with that. We're muddling through a few growing pains issues, but hopefully they'll clear up soon. Mostly trying to impress the "you're not the center of the universe" message while still passing along that she is very important, and special, and amazing. Interesting dichotomy, that. You want to teach your kids to honor others and treat all people with respect and dignity, and treat them to put others first, while still teaching them that they should love themselves and take good care of themselves.

I think we're making headway on her weight issues, in that she celebrated when she went up a size recently, instead of wondering if it meant she was fat. We know where the issues are coming from, but there's not much we can do about it except to model a healthy lifestyle and hope it sticks.

S2 is having her own body image issues. Do you have any idea how depressing it is to hear your 5 year old talk about how fat she is? Or how she just wants to wear the cute clothes like her sister, but can't because she's too "chunky"? It's awful, and breaks my heart every time. Again, all we can really do is model good behaviors and reiterate how perfect she is, inside and out, and impress upon her that we all come in different packages. No child should ever feel that their worth is tied up in their pants size, but mine does. And it makes me livid towards the person who is making her feel that way.

All in all, we're doing okay. Just plugging along with daily life, trying to find our footing.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

In Memoriam

Grandpa O
September 4, 1926-September 3, 2007


V and S1's step-grandfather (biomom's stepdad) passed away on Monday. He was attending a "Fly Boy" convention in Reno, and when he stepped off the plane, he had a heart attack and died right then.

His wife (biomom's mom) passed away about three years ago.

Tuesday would have been his 81st birthday. When S1 heard this, she said, "Instead of a birthday party, they're going to have a dead party! Tigger (their cat) and Hiedi (their dog) and Grandma will all be there. I bet they're hanging decorations right now, and they're going to yell 'Surprise!' when he walks in." Amazing what the minds of children will come up with, isn't it?

The funeral will be this Saturday in Arlington, VA, and he will be laid to rest in the military cemetary. His wife is entombed in the crypt there.

Please keep the family in your thoughts and prayers during this time. He was a much loved man, who lived a very good, full life, and he is greatly missed.

Swift, blessed travels, O.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Things About Me

1. My favorite colour is blue
2. I was born in Tulsa, OK
3. I was raised in Carlisle, PA
4. My parents have been married for 31 years
5. My grand-parents have been married for 53 years
6. I met Brad at my old job, when I was managing a restaurant in my hometown
7. I got married in 2005 at 21
8. We got married twice
9. Our first wedding was at the county courthouse on B's lunch break
10. Our second wedding was a big Catholic wedding
11. I wore my flip flops under my wedding dress
12. I knew the day I met B that he was The One
13. He asked me to marry him for the first time 4 days after we met
14. I have never thought I could feel so comfortable with someone
15. I hate when he is not home
16. I have three amazing girls and one delightfully charming little boy
17. I am proudly nursing J and will likely nurse him until he self-weans, whenever that may be
18. I wish breastfeeding were more of a priority in our society
19. I was lucky enough to have been breastfed for well over a year
20. I want to add one more child to our family
21. I am the middle of three children
22. My sister is one of my best friends
23. My brother and I fought like cats and dogs when we were younger, and now are incredibly close
24. I have always wanted children
25. I want to adopt
26. I want to homeschool
27. I want to be a midwife
28. I would love to live in a communal setting
29. I hate crowds unless B is with me
30. I Have never had a ‘boys are yucky’ phase
31. I love to sing
32. I used to dream about going on American Idol
33. I wanted to major in music and become a professional singer
34. I am happiest when I'm singing for a crowd
35. I have terrible stage fright
36. I hope that at least one of my children has musical ability
37. I wanted to be a gymnast
38. I performed in two different show choirs in high school
39. I was in three high school musicals
40. I was in an elite audition only choir in college
41. I was in the marching band in high school
42. I wanted to be in a drum corp, but played a woodwind, not brass
43. I didn't want to go to college right after high school, but went anyway
44. I wanted to go to culinary school, but didn't think I'd be supported
45. I've finally found what I'm meant to do with my life...now I just need to get there
46. I spent one of the best months of my life in Spain with my mom and brother
47. I speak Spanish almost fluently
48. I only spent a semester and a half in college, then came home
49. I was bulimic
50. I nearly became addicted to pain killers
51. I nearly died twice
52. I am a Christian
53. I have found the church that is best for me and my family
54. I was baptized and raised Catholic
55. I won't be getting my degree until my babies are old enough for preschool
56. I love a good debate
57. As a child I was addicted to the Boxcar Children, the Babysitter's Club and Judy Bloom novels
58. My favorite books are trashy beach reads
59. My favorite kids books are Dr. Seuss and Shel Silverstein
60. My favorite movies are The Princess Bride, Labyrinth, Coyote Ugly, etc.
61. I love all music except rap
62. I love to dress up
63. I've been blond, brunette and a red head.
64. I have fewer clothes than B
65. I wear lounge clothes almost exclusively at home
66. I hate having things (socks and shoes)on my feet
67. I hate feet (my own included)
68. I love looking at other people's pictures in their homes
69. I love to cross stitch
70. I have worked as a cashier, receptionist, office temp, a restaurant manager, a waitress, and a babysitter.
71. I can be lazy.
72. I love to bake
73. I like window shopping
74. I am very sensitive to scents
75. I love that I'm able to nurse in public, and dare anyone to challenge me
76. I am a Libra
77. I was born in 1983
78. I want 2 more tattoos.
79. I have 2 tattoos : bunch of snapdragons on my lower back and healing hands on my left hip
80. I love to travel
81. I have hazel eyes that change color with my mood
82. I am not afraid of getting older
83. I have one dog, "Kahlua"
84. I am allergic to cats
85. I would start knitting but don’t have money for tools
86. I want to make clothes
87. I watch too much TV
88. I love to sew
89. I love to dream of things to make for my family
90. I had asthma as a kid
91. I have had 1 major surgery (ureter re-implantation) and got over 100 stitches when a sink shattered and sliced through my thigh
92. Pedestal sinks scare me, and I desperately try not to touch them when I wash my hands
93. I once spent an afternoon eating sugar cookies and swatting wasps
94. I once killed a rattlesnake
95. I had a crush on one of my childhood babysitters, who is now my best friends' fiance
96. I don't like to take my kids to the doctor
97. I love staying at home
98. I would like to have more friends IRL

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Hangin' Round

Not much to report.

J seems to be much more high needs than his sisters. Not that he's a difficult baby, by any means, but he likes things done a certain way, and knows what he wants. No problem, just a tad draining at times.

School is better for S1. As of today (3 days in) she no longer wants to be homeschooled, but instead LOVES school. She found her groove, apparently. All good news.

Here are a few pictures from playing around the other day:



Tuesday, August 28, 2007

First Day of School!

V and S1 had their first day of school yesterday. Very exciting, but the build up was a bit much for S1, we think. Apparently she spent the majority of the afternoon in tears, and was so exhausted from the emotional roller coaster that she went to bed at 6 last night, before she'd even had dinner.

Hopefully she'll find her groove soon. There are many adjustments that need to be made on everyone's part in order to make this road easier for everyone.








Friday, August 24, 2007

Whoops!

I have been chastised for not updating.

It's not my fault! Blogger had a seizure and wouldn't let me in to my account to add new posts. For real.

We are still fully in the Land of Teeth. S2 has all 4 molars coming in at once. They finally broke the skin about 2 weeks ago, and now she's working on all of the bumps and nooks and crannies that come along with molars. No fun. J's first two teeth popped through simultaneously the other night, accompanied by a few sleepless nights where he just laid there half-asleep and moaned. Poor little man was NOT happy. I went and got Orajel Nighttime for him (after all the homeopathic options failed to work on him) and the first night we used it, he slept for 6 1/2 hours straight, and I woke up with mastitis. I am miserable. Hurts like crazy, fever, chills, basically I feel like I have the flu. I've been trying to break up the plugged duct which seems to be working. Hopefully, I'll be okay tomorrow morning.

Kenny Chesney concert is tomorrow! As of right now, I'm not going. If, by some karmic luck, I am not feverish and can sneeze without crying in pain, I'll likely go. Weather's supposed to be h.o.t. (above 100) so if I'm feverish I should stay home methinks. Sitting in that kind of heat is what we call a Bad Idea. Fingers crossed!

Moving closer to crawling every day. S2 is great motivation for J, mostly because she crawls over and snatches toys from him, and then crawls away. Heh.

S2 is learning more and more words every day. Now we have:
mama
daddy
diddy (doggie)
sissy
sydna (S1)
vic or toto or tora (V)
jacks-uh (J)
papaw
no
down
kickin (chicken)
kan kay (pancake)
uh-oh
juse (juice)
deck guh (thank you)
plt (please)
dat (that)
buh-bye
go
up
scoo me (excuse me...used once)
guh (good)
yay
and today, we got Sa-mah-ma

And she signs
eat
change
night-night
pretty
yay
more
baby
bye-bye

Verbal explosion indeed!

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Growth Charts

Just for fun.


More new words! "Scoo me" (excuse me), "kick in" (chicken) and "seet" (feet). The last two both occurred for the first time tonight, within about half an hour of each other, oddly enough. Like I said before though, she waits until she knows she can do something and then she takes off. Amazing, truly. She also signs "change" now, and has connected it with having a soiled diaper. It's amazing.

J is THIS close to crawling. While at my friend's house the other night, he pushed up on his hands and knees and crawled about three paces in order to get a truck that was just out of his reach. B took this to mean that we must get him "boy toys" because otherwise, he'll never crawl at our house. I think he'll be fine.

Both babies want so desperately to be big kids. J gets frustrated when his sisters walk/crawl out of the room and he can't follow, and S2 gets frustrated when her sisters run out of the room without her, or do pretty much anything that she can't follow. Tonight, I was brushing V and S1's hair before their bath, and S2 crawled over and stood in front of me signing "pretty" and whining until I brushed her hair too.

We're fully in the throes of toddler-dom, and the "Terrible Twos" have started really early. It does seem to be a little easier to handle than it was with S1, however, as we're doing a lot more validation and redirection, and a lot less sighing and eye-rolling and getting frustrated. We're parenting differently, and all four kids seem to be thriving as a result.

Not much else is new. We found a soccer class for V to participate in this fall, so we may end up taking the girls on Tuesday and Wednesday nights, at least for the 8wks that S1 is in gymnastics, after which we may switch back to Wednesday. Not really sure yet.

I'll be taking the tax preparer course from Jackson Hewitt, and then I'll work as a tax preparer this season in the evenings, just for something to do to get me out of the house for a few hours. I need a little time alone each day in order to feel human.

Friday, August 17, 2007

15 month NICU clinic

Wednesday was S2's 15 month NICU developmental clinic appointment.

It was not so much fun.

Overall, she's fine. She's ahead of the game verbally (about 15 words and 6 or 7 signs now), and cognitively as well. She's very socially conscious, and very analytical. As far as physical development is concerned, they're not concerned that she's not walking yet, because she is at least starting the process. She pulls up and cruises, and has graduated from the commando crawl to the more traditional hands-and-knees position. Her fine motor skills are pretty good too. She drew on paper with a crayon, put blocks in a cup, took off her shoes and socks, and tried to put a dowel in the peg board (albeit unsuccessfully).

The main sticky point is her weight. She weighs 21 1/2lbs, and is 31" tall. She's average. Middle of the road average. She's between the 40th and 50th percentile for weight, and the 65th-75th for height. The concern is that she didn't gain "enough" weight between her last appointment (in April) and now. Let's see...she weight 3lb at birth, which means that she's gained 18 1/2 lbs and grown 14" in less than 16 months. She is on the charts, following her normal curve, and thriving. She eats constantly...she's a grazer. They said that if she hadn't gained "enough" weight by February, they would look in to putting her on growth hormones. Um, no. She's healthy, just thin. She doesn't need to be chunky, and frankly, that would NOT be healthy, as it's contrary to her natural body type.

These appointments do nothing but stress her and I out. For starters, I hate being in that hospital. It holds way too many negative memories and feelings for me. The appointments are supposed to be strength-centered, but instead turn in to conversations about what she's NOT doing, instead of what she IS doing. Like almost speaking in sentences. She dropped her toy, looked at me and said, "mama, uh-oh boom." Then when I gave it back to her, said, "deck guh" (thank you). We are required to strip her down to her diaper and leave her like that for the duration of the appointment, which usually means sitting in a 70 degree room for up to an hour with no clothes on. By the time we left yesterday, she practically dressed herself she was so cold.

So, after discussing all of that, B and I have decided to discontinue these assessments. She still sees her pediatrician every 3-6 months, and he knows her better, because he also sees her at her brother's appointments, which of course are not at the same time as hers, so both kids get seen every 2-4 months. WE know she's healthy, and on track, and doing everything she's supposed to be doing. After getting to bond with her, I know her personality well enough to know that one of these days, she's just gonna stand up and walk across the room, because that's her way.

She's healthy, she's happy, and she's growing and changing every day. And I don't need a "professional" to tell me that.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

We're grown-ups after all

B and I filed bankruptcy a few months ago. After S2's 4wk NICU stay, and the subsequent almost $60K in medical bills, we really had no other choice.

We've been trying for some time to figure out how to rebuild our credit. We'll be getting secured credit cards soon in order for both of us to work on our credit ratings separately, but tonight we took our first step to rebuild it together.

B's car is dead as dead can be. His parents very graciously gave it to us almost 2 years ago, and we've run it as far as it will go. It would cost almost 3 times its value to totally repair it. We called a dealer who specializes in working with bankrupt clients, and had a meeting with him tonight at 7. By 8:30, we were signing the last of the papers on the new car that B will drive.

It's a 2005 red Ford Taurus with 33K miles.

This is the first thing we've been able to get on credit on our own merit. We're so thankful and grateful that we were able to take th necessary steps to be able to recover from our severe financial burden.

As the anniversary gift plaque from my parents reads: Faith makes things possible...not easy.

Monday, August 13, 2007

The greatest gift

For Christmas a few years ago, Uncle K and Aunt B got S1 a pink plastic guitar. We got her big, over-sized, heart-shaped glasses for her birthday that year, and the combined product is the ultimate display of a rock star from a child's imagination.

This combination gift has enthralled all four kids, and they take turns passing it around the room and entertaining each other. Most recently, S1 wore the glasses and strummed the guitar while S2 danced.

Here it is:

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Party animals!

J and S2 and I just got back from a birthday party for my friend's son, who turned 1 on 8/2. It was a heck of a party! Full sized and baby-sized moon bounces, a baby pool and kiddie pool, a huge bonfire, great food (and a truly amazing *rain-forest cake!), and wonderful company. My friend was frazzled as all get out, but everyone was thoroughly enjoying each others' company.

The whole point of this post however, is to marvel at how well J and S2 did! S2 usually naps about 4 hours in the morning and then an hour in the afternoon, but today she only napped for about an hour and a half. 45 minutes at mom and dad's, and 45 minutes on the way home. However, she was playing and laughing and having a grand old time right up until we left at 9:30. She's usually in bed by 6:45. She had one teeny meltdown early in the evening, but other than that, nothing. J didn't cry once all evening (well, that's not true, he wailed once when he got whacked in the head with a Tonka truck).

They both passed out before I'd made it down my friend's driveway, and S2 is happily passed out. When we got home and I got her changed in to her jammies, she lunged for her bed, hugged her stuffed duck, grabbed her bottle and rolled over.

J is rolling around on the living room floor laughing and shrieking. I wonder how long this will last?

*I forgot the camera, so no pictures of the amazing cake. Hopefully I can snag some from my friend, but no matter what, I'm getting that baker to make our next celebratory cake!

Friday, August 10, 2007

Let's Try This Again

I promise to keep up this time!

It's been a year since I last updated. V is 7 1/2 now, S1 is 5, S2 is 15 1/2 months, and J is almost 6 months.

School is about to start, and V and S1 are super duper excited. V will be going in to second grade, and S1 is starting kindergarten!

Last week was our annual beach vacation, and great fun was had by all.





V just finished gymnastics camp today, and has decided that it is NOT something that she wants to do outside of camp, which is fine. She instead wants to play soccer, which we'll arrange for her to do in the spring. We missed the deadline for fall registration, but she seems unconcerned.



S1 on the other hand, had an amazing time at camp and wants to keep going in the fall. We'll likely register her next week. She is also talking about wanting to learn to play the piano, so if she's still interested in a few months, we'll likely try to get her a keyboard for Christmas. I'd love to get a real piano, so that I can play again too, but that'll take a while.



S2 had great fun splashing around in the pool and ocean with her sisters, and decided she likes the taste of sand. She had a linguistic explosion while we were on vacation. Now she says: mama, daddy, sissy, jacks-uh, dug (dog), uh-oh, yay, juhs (juice), guh (good), buh-bye and dek uhn (thank you); she signs: more, pretty, eat, night-night and yay. Not sure when she'll walk, but that's ok. She's caught up, and that's all we can ask. Mentally and physically, she's right where she should be chronologically. She's about 21 1/2lbs, and 31", so she's tall and skinny. I tell ya, it's weird raising skinny kids.



J is a total water baby. B played with him in the pool every day, and he went underwater about half a dozen times, and came up grinning every time. Apparently those 9 months spent in water haven't worn off yet. It's awesome. He is scooting backwards, and will likely be crawling very soon. He pushes up on to his hands and knees. He's almost sitting unassisted, but then gets really excited in a "look at me!" kind of way, and flexes his hips and ends up flying backwards. He's also very verbal, and we have about an hour and a half before bedtime every night when we "talk" to each other. At least once a day, he and S2 also have a shrieking match, after which they both dissolve in to giggles.

Life is good, albeit busy, and I promise to get both of you all caught up ASAP.