Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The Proof is in the Puddin

Matthew, 3 months

Rose, 4 months

Jade, 4 months

Linnae, 2.5 - 3 months

Nostalgic Day

I don't know if it's all my girls birthdays or if it's because my littlest (and last baby) is turning 1yr in a few days or because my brother and his wife just had their first. But the simple fact is that I have been thinking a lot about those early days of motherhood recently. Don't get me wrong - I don't want any more kids. I definitely feel our family is complete at this point. However I do look back on those first few weeks as "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times".

What do you seasoned moms remember about those early days?
The worst: Sleepless nights, being snippy with Hubby, feeling totally isolated from the world and friends and anyone who could possibly understand what I was going through, emotions going up and down and sideways every two minutes, feeling infuriated with pediatricians because I didn't feel they were listening to me nor did they have the same parenting ideals we did, and coming face-to-face with the humility and awe of caring for this tiny squealing thing.
I remember watching them check the car seat for us before we left the hospital with Matthew and thinking, "Are they REALLY letting me take him home? I don't know what to DO with him!" Rest assured, he let me know, under no uncertain terms, what to do with him. ;)

There's a new book out that I've skimmed (I haven't completely read it mainly because I know I'm past that newborn stage forever now) called The Happiest Baby On The Block. The author talks about the fact that newborn humans are some of the most helpless babies of all animals. And his theory is that our babies are born too early. That there should be a "4th trimester". Now, I've never *never* met a woman who would have been happy to go another trimester but I do see his point in a way. If you think about babies who are 3 months old versus newborns...3 month olds are much happier, able to hold their heads up, making eye contact, smiling, etc. Newborns are just HARD. They can only communicate with cries and studies have shown that nothing raises anyone's blood pressure and stress levels like that of a crying baby. And triple that when he/she is your own...and triple it again if he/she is your first baby. I remember the Mad About You episode. I'm sure you do too - everyone talked about it for weeks. It was 30 minutes of their newborn crying. She cried and cried and cried, all through the show. And at one point, Jaime was crying right along with her. I have to tell you, I watched it again in syndication after I'd had my son and I was exhausted by the end of that show. It took everything out of me.

The best parts of the early months: The smiles, looking at your baby knowing that your body has sustained that one for 9 months and now that baby is thriving on your milk, the smiles, the happily sleeping baby, the laughter in their eyes, the warm bundle of snuggle on your chest, the afternoon naps together, the smiles, the warm baths together, bonding with Hubby over this new amazing creature that is half him and half me. But mostly the smiles. The ones that let you know, "You're doing a good job, Mom", or "thanks, Mom". Those smiles around six weeks go such a long way to save your sanity, don't they? Truth be told, the smiles of childhood *always* go a very long way. I know it saved my life (and my brothers too) several times. ;) In the midst of the terrible two's, the trying three's, and the four's that are so bad NO one dares give them a name, smiles are what save you all. When Rose got into the Nesquik and I found her like this, it was the smiles that saved us both.

And when Matthew and Rose were four, it was definitely the smiles that made me not pack my bags and leave even though I really wanted to. (Coincidentally, I wonder if that's the reason kids are shipped off to school at that were many days when I considered it!) The smiles are no different when they're babies. You work so hard for weeks and finally you see the first genuine smile. It is that moment when you remember why you started the whole baby process to begin with.

Those of you with newborns, hang in there - the reward is on its way.

Those of you who are pregnant, you've read enough about birth. Read something about what happens after birth. I wish some wise person had told me that when I was pregnant with my first.
Grab a book on baby sleep patterns. I highly recommend Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child. HIGHLY. RECOMMEND. The best little gem I got from this book is "sleep begets sleep". You hear "let the baby cry for a while - so she's good and tired and she'll sleep better". That's wrong on so many levels. The more a baby sleeps, the more a baby will sleep. Overtired babies will not sleep...they'll get more tired and more tired until you throw them out the window (or at least want to). You can skip the sections on letting a four month old cry it out but the rest of his info is very useful and *really* helped us with Matthews sleep issues. To this day, I protect all of their sleep schedules voraciously. I see a huge *HUGE* difference on the odd day when I don't.
Read a good book on breastfeeding basics. The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding is a hefty read but it's PACKED with great information and it's my first recommendation.
Read up on vaccine information ( is a great source for that and all things kid-related). Even if you're totally pro-vax, you should still read up on it and know what to expect.
Study what really constitutes 'sick' in a child.
Interview pediatricians. Ask them how supportive of breastfeeding they will be. Ask them if they will allow you to take a slower approach to vaccines - ask them about everything you feel strongly about. Even though the AAP says breastfeeding is best, not all doctors are bf supportive. Go to a La Leche League meeting. Yes, many pregnant moms go and I SOOO wish I'd gone when I was pregnant, in hind could have saved me sooo much worry.

[stepping off my box now]

I got carried away a little but I feel the need to shout it from the rooftops. We have done a good job telling expectant moms to prepare for birth...but the ball is dropped there. What do they do after birth? No wonder so many new moms feel helpless and spend days crying alone and throw in the towel on breastfeeding so early. It's hard stuff and they're simply not prepared. And early motherhood should be more fun. Those first 6 weeks seemed to be endless while I was there but in hind sight, it was barely a blink of the eye. There is a reason they use sleep-deprivation as a torture method, people! ;)

So if you find yourself in the midst of it all (and I know several of my readers are), take a deep breath, tell yourself "Mama said there'd be days like this" and try to enjoy it. Remember every detail. Jot a few thoughts each day if you can spare a second. You'll treasure every helpless feeling and every exhausted word down the road.

"It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done"

Monday, March 24, 2008

Happy Spring!

For those of you who haven't seen it yet, I have a little poll going on the site about where your kids are primarily learning things, be it public school, private, homeschool or other. I'm interested to see where my readers are coming from. :)

This weekend was Easter, of course, and along with the usual celebrations, we included a birthday party for Jade, who is now three years old. She had a surprise party last weekend at her grandparents house with that side of the family so yesterday was just our immediate family and Grammy. We had a lot of activity and between the Easter baskets, egg hunts, ham, birthday presents, and cupcakes, it was a very full day. It was also the most beautiful Easter day that I have in my memories. Here are a few shots...

And some more pictures from our weekend...

Did someone say there's CHOCOLATE in here?

Do I blend in with my new toy?

Birthday Girl Jade:

Rose had just settled in for a long winter's nap after her cousins left...

Is that a Transformers Easter basket?

Jade, being the 3rd child, has figured out interesting ways to claim things for herself. For example, when I served strawberries the other night, she decided to bite into each one to be sure they were *hers alone*.

Rose surprised me with a story after quiet time the other day...

Translated: Slow cat sat on a cat ladder (latr). Fly I said (fli i sed)
as I ran past Mom and Dad making dinner(macen denr).
Happy Birthday
I'm 5

It has such a poetic feel to it, doesn't it? She even asked if she could put it in her poetry journal. (The journal is a notebook that she started when our homeschool group decided to study poetry last summer.) I feel that larger stories are just around the corner. I can't wait to see where her imagination takes her!

Monday, March 03, 2008

No, I haven't abandoned blogging

The short version is we've been busy, I'm still having rib pain so it doesn't feel the greatest to sit at the computer, and there are a lot of adjustments going on around here (namely Hubby becoming a work-from-home guy). This week though, Hubby is halfway across the country in training and I have 3 sick kids with high fevers. It's not been a fun week (and I'm only saying this on TUESDAY!)...nor am I looking forward to the next few days.

Rose turned 5 a couple weeks ago and if she were going to public school, I'd need to be registering her for kindergarten soon. But I'm not. ;) She has been working hard on spelling - and it's all been totally her own idea. She's learning to read at the same time so it's interesting to see her phonetic spelling everywhere. [As an aside, isn't it an oxymoron that the word phonetic isn't pronounced phonetically?] Here is some of her recent work and art (I'll try to translate for you). If you want a clearer image, click on each picture and it'll blow up bigger for you.

That's "hamster" at the top, "gerbil" and "kangaroo" on bottom (with an unnamed ghost in between, I'm told).

Her drawing skills are really taking off and I'm sure my mother's inner artist is beaming with pride. There's a peacock, fish, bat, kangaroo, butterfly, a few snakes/worms, turtle, and my favorite - the jellyfish at the bottom.

This one says, "animals that (dat) you can draw (dro) on different paper".

I just know you teachers are groaning, "Ohhh pleeeeease do not let her make her S's backwards!!" But don't worry - it will correct itself as she gets older. She used to spell her whole name backwards, then just a few letters and now she writes the letters backwards because she "likes to be silly". Hubby called tonight and as she hung up, she said, "I love you too....I mean, I L O V E O, Y O U T O."

What have we done right to have such early readers? I can't say for sure but my best guess isn't that I have geniuses...I don't. But we have fostered a love of reading in this house. I started reading Charlotte's Web out loud to Matthew when he was an infant. It soothed my fussy baby and I enjoyed escaping into a fantasy land for a while too. Reading has always been a ritual part of bedtime. Hubby and I soon got tired of the toddler books and often read books that we assumed were 'over their heads'. But it was amazing to see how much they actually caught. I think it almost became a science experiment to us, to see how much of the 'older' stuff they would catch and we soon found ourselves reading chapter books to our old 3 and young 4yr olds. Things like Magic Tree House and Magic School Bus and Little House series, Chronicles of Narnia and classics from our childhood like Charlotte's Web and Runaway Ralph and The Boxcar Children. Did that have anything to do with it? Perhaps. Perhaps not. Maybe they would have been early readers even if we hadn't read so much to them. Or maybe if we hadn't read above their reading levels. Maybe we picked the right stories to motivate them to want to learn to read. I guess I'll never know but I'm glad they are well-read even at 5 and 7 years old.

Matthew and I have been working on organizing his room. He outgrew his Buzz Lightyear themed room a couple years ago but his bedspread remains. It doesn't quite match the Transformers curtains but there's certainly no mistaking that a boy lives in there. :) His room has been long overdue for a change and some good organization. He and I went shopping last weekend to look at storage containers and ideas that would work in his room. We turned furniture around and sorted through his toys. We started to put the new organizational tools to good use.

And that's where it stopped. Rose got really sick on Saturday and then Matthew started it on Sunday. High fevers, cough, sore throat and body aches. We've had a good winter for illness (probably because with my back/rib injury, we haven't been anywhere to gather germs) so it was time. I just wish it had been a quick 24 hour bug instead of the week long (or better) flu that's going around. And I wish it had happened while Hubby was home to help me out with them. But life isn't fair, is it? ;)

And since I'm by myself this week with them, I'd better get my rest too. I'll post pictures of Matthew's room when we're done with it. Good night!