Friday, July 23, 2010

Milestones Met, and a Return of Spirit

This past weekend, Sydney reached two milestones - the first is very exciting for Steve and me. We've been using some sign language around Sydney in the hopes that he would pick up on basic signs to let us know what he wanted. He watches intently as we sign, kicks his feet, then goes back to eating puffs (glorious invention, those things!!). He started last week with finally moving his hands in deliberate motions, which we could not figure out. But I was excited, nonetheless, that he was using his hands for more than just exploring and eating.

Sunday night, though, I was trying to feed Sydney his dinner and he rotated his hand for the sign "All done." I got so excited I nearly spilled his chicken and rice on the floor. I repeated the sign, said what it meant, and tried to give him another bite. He made the sign again. Yay! I put down the chicken and picked up his applesauce. He ate about 2/3 of that jar before making the sign again.

We're working on several others - "more," "please," "Mommy," "Daddy," "milk," "banana," "drink," and "kitty." As he grasps these, we'll add others in, but for now, he at least can tell us when he's full.

Second, Sydney has begun to walk, holding on to things; i.e., the couch, his high chair (which has wheels that lock), etc. He will definitely be mobile by his first birthday. I am excited about this, but also feeling a great deal of trepidation. My baby growing so quickly, which means he'll be a toddler soon and I'll never have my baby boy again; but on the flip side to that, he'll be able to go outside and play in the grass (if it ever gets green again...) and walk in the stores. He'll be hard to keep track of, but he won't have to be carried everywhere. Bitter sweet.

In other news, I am so pleased to announce to the world that my husband is back. Oiy. This is a major part of my earlier cryptic entries, for which I apologize profusely. Steve has been under tremendous pressure at work the past year and a half / two years. The environment was completely toxic to his spirit. Yesterday was his official last day, and he starts at a much healthier place with many opportunities on Monday. Yay! The change in him has been quite drastic. I don't think either of us quite recognized how much A) he had changed and was feeling down, defeated, etc. and B) how much I was tiptoeing around trying to be a help of some sort but feeling completely like my hands were tied. The way he's walking around now, though, Atlas, himself, would be jealous. And because he's been on 2nd shift this past month, he naturally had Monday through yesterday off, so we got another week together before he goes back to work. It has been very nice, and very therapeutic for us all.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Reminiscing & Pics

My son just turned 10 months, and he is going to be a handful. He will rise to a stand without holding on to anything, and has already begun to climb even though he can't walk. I know this isn't anything really special, and I've heard countless mothers "top" me (amazing how this so easily becomes the norm - comparing progress of your children...and I'm referring to the competition regarding progress, not the checks and balances all of us [especially first time mothers] do to ensure we understand where our children "should" be - when you have to top my son's progress with your son's, daughter's, grandkids', neice's, nephew's, etc., it is out of hand) but the fact remains that, as an individual, he will keep us on our toes.

All that being said, my Mom and I were talking about how he's changed in the week since she saw him. She came over specifically to put him down for the night, since he's way too accustomed to Mommy. Oh, and Mommy left for a few hours because she knew this would be painful for her...

Anyway, we were talking about his progress, and it reminded me of a few things I used to do when I was a child. I remember taking distinct pleasure in these two activities, though I cannot fully fathom why, now. I think I was a strange child...
  • When my mother took me grocery shopping, I would beg to sit in the basket (not the baby seat, the actual basket) and I would be in charge of arranging the groceries. Yes, arranging. Not tossing them in willy-nilly, but stacking neatly so as to fit enough food for 4 kids in one basket. Heaven knows, this was only foreshadowing the person I would become (you'd have to know me. I love organizing...). There were a few times, specifically, where I remember sitting down after the 'base' level of arranging was complete and packing myself in. When it got to the point where my arms were under all the food, I verbally instructed my mom where to put the food. Yes, I was, and is, that particular. I still stack my food carefully in the basket, and since I shop where most of my students work, I do not hesitate to instruct them in packing my bags. They love me there. :-)
  • Another memory I have is for stores other than the grocery store, though I probably did this there, too. I would deliberately (when I wasn't dictating the arrangement of the basket) hide in the middle of the clothing racks until Mom got distracted and moved on. OR, I would dart away, and zig-zag through the store to deliberately get lost, then see how long it took to find my way back to her. I remember only two times where she actually had to get the manager of the store to announce over the p.a. system that she was looking for me. Of course, this was 25+ years ago, and things were different then.
My point is, that knowing this about myself, and knowing how fearless he is, and how strong he is (you'll see a pic of this further down), I am already trying to plan for what surprises he may have in store for me as he grows. He is already mischievous, so I can imagine I'll have a few panic attacks in my future...

So, here's the updated pics: Up first is Daddy's Father's Day picture. I hadn't gotten this downloaded as of the Father's Day blog entry, so here it is. I love their matching outfits - from the matching shirts to the identical shorts...My boys are beautiful.
Sydney's new best friend, Zane. They are 6 months apart, which may be huge now (you should have seen Syd try to keep up with Zane: the crawler vs. the walker/runner), but in a few months won't make much of a difference. They 'played' together so nicely, too, as much as a 9 month old and a 15 month old can and will.

Sydney's 10 month picture. He went through a phase where he couldn't stand his bouncy seat, but recently rediscovered it. I think it was because we used to strap him in to it, and now that he's big enough to crawl in and out without really tumbling and hurting himself, he likes to lounge in it and kick to make it bounce.

My pride and joy loves his Daddy so much. Steve has been working 2nd shift this week, and in his attempt to get some family time at the same time that he gets a workout in before going in to work, Sydney is now cognizant of what Daddy is doing. He tried to lift the metal weight and Mommy freaked out (what if it slipped and hurt him?), so we got a little 2 pound weight. And he lifts it. He's a strong little dude...

Last, my apologies to Dawn and Steve - you got this t-shirt for us and it was hanging in the closet until he grew in to it. What happened? I completely forgot it was there and just got it out today. He likes the Snoopy!! Thank you, Aunt Dawn and Uncle Steve! Go Buckeyes!! :-)

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Airplanes in the Night Sky

The basic message in this song is that simpler is better. We forget about that a lot. Life is not simple enough anymore. I think back fondly to the times when all I had to worry about was whether enough kids could come out after dinner to play tag or dodgeball.

I could take a lesson from my son. Each night, I "pick up" his toys in the living room. Really what I'm doing is making a distraction for him. He loves knocking down towers - can't stand to have anything stacked even by 2. So, I make tiny little towers, placed strategically around the room. I also replace all his books on his shelves, and put a few toys on shelves that he can reach. He's standing on his own little by little, and the look of pride on his face as he pulls himself up high enough to reach the books and pull them down is worth the nightly effort. It will take him at least until noon to find all of his 'treasures.' Simpler. He has so much fun racing (crawling speed has increased exponentially!) from down the hall, finding the booty, and decimating Mommy's work.

If airplanes look like shooting stars, it would be nice to be able to wish on them all; especially considering the fact that I live in the path of the airport. A lot is changing for us this summer. I'll keep you posted as things develop, but I cannot say more just now. Summers used to be so simple. Its something we have to strive for - to make choices that simplify our lives. To deliberately choose to not sweat the small stuff or fret over things we cannot control. Live life like an infant discovering a tower in the living room that can be knocked down.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Parenting Maxims

"Spare the rod, spoil the child."

One of the most well-known proverbs in society. My interpretation of that, though, is not that we should beat our children, or spank them for infractions. I believe that statement means that consequences should be obvious for behavior that is unacceptable or dangerous. I believe that we, as parents, need to instruct our children as to what they do or think that is counter-productive to being a healthy, happy, contributing member of society. All too often I see parents who would rather be their children's friends rather than the leading adults in their lives. Our job is not to be our children's best friends. Our job is to instruct, comfort, advise, lead, and teach them. That means that, even when he is only 9 months old, I have to instruct and punish my son when he misbehaves.

And yes, he deliberately misbehaves. If he were simply acting on instinct, he would not get a sly little smile before doing what he knows he shouldn't be doing, such as biting Mommy when nursing. Now, there is obviously a reason why he is biting, and I understand that that stupid tooth that we've been waiting to cut through for 2 weeks really hurts and itches, but that does not excuse biting Mommy. Ergo, my preferred maxim for raising my son:

"Punish the behavior, not the child."

I've always tried to hold true to this as a high school teacher. I've chanted it to myself before, a mantra to try to keep from letting my emotions get in the way of instruction, comfort, or classroom management. And prior to actual recognized forethought in my son, I, instead, reminded myself that he had no other way to let me know what was wrong. But now, he is cognizant of what he is doing. Before I go any further, I will acknowledge that, at the tender age of 9 months, it is important to remember that he is learning how to learn. Therefore, repetition is a must, and patience needs to be mixed with repetition. This means that we, as parents, cannot get irate when Sydney misbehaves but instruct, scold, and follow through every time with consequences for his actions. This is what we've been facing lately:

  1. Biting Mommy while nursing. This constitutes an action that falls into the category of hurting himself or someone else. I firmly tell him "No, hurts Mommy" (at this age, the shorter the explanation the better) while looking him in the eye. I give him one chance and if he bites again (the little imp usually smiles as he is about to bite down...) we put him in his crib for a one minute time-out, stating that it is time-out. (One minute of time-out per age. When he turns 2, it will be 2 minutes, etc.). We danced this little game last night until he was either finally worn out completely or understood that Mommy wasn't playing games. Once he attached, he was zonked out for the night.
  2. Playing with the vent in the kitchen floor. This, too, could be considered something that would hurt him. We've replaced the vents in the rooms where we put down laminate hardwood flooring. Our new vents are no longer the sharp, rusted metal ones that we had in there, but if he lifts these up out of the floor, or gets his fingers caught in the grate, he can still hurt himself. I have his play-pen in the kitchen and when he continually plays with the vents, I tell him, again, that he is going in to time-out and we put him in the pack-n-play for one minute. I use this while cooking dinner, sometimes, etc., but when he's already roaming the floor playing and I take him away and put him in the 'cage,' he will scream for about 20 seconds before he realizes I am serious. The most this has taken us to reiterate the point is 2 times.
  3. Spitting while eating. The boy is teething. I understand that. My brother-in-law told me that if we had to cut teeth as adults, we'd probably pass out from the pain. I don't fuss when he spits outside of dinner time, but when his mouth is full of food...ugh. If giving him another spoon to chew on while we feed him doesn't stop it, we, again, firmly tell him 'No spitting,' deliberately put his food down, and turn away, ignoring him, for one minute. This usually gives me a chance to take a few bites of my own food. Outside of teething, the most this has taken us to reiterate the point is 3 times at dinner.

"Punish the behavior, not the child." There is always a reason for his behavior, at least at 9 months. Therefore, we cannot allow our emotions, our exhaustion to take over. Find the reason for the behavior, and address that. Sydney is such a wonderful gift and it hurts to know that he is in pain and there is so little that we can really do until that mean tooth comes in. Instruction works but it must be consistent, firm, and never done in anger.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

So Much to Say...

Oh my, I've been remiss. I have nothing to say other than I haven't even been on email much less able to blog since Father's Day. Since June 20th, Steve had the week off and we spent the entire week playing 'ketchup' - car oil changes, meetings with insurance agent (Sydney now has life insurance - for several reasons...just in case something horrendous happens, which we don't like to think about but still need to be reasonable and responsible, or in case he comes down with some sort of disease or disability that would prevent him from having insurance at a later date...), doctors visits, etc. We've been busy.

Sydney's 9 month check up was this past week. He is unbelievably strong, but tiny...not even in the 5th percentile for height or weight, though he is nearly 25% for head circumference. I always knew he was a smart one! :-) He is very bright, though, and the doctor was surprised and pleased to see how strong he is. Steve keeps thinking tennis, and I, the resigned track coach, keep thinking sprints and long jump...we'll see. He gets to make up his own mind.

Another reason why I haven't been on the blog any time recently is because I made a promise to myself to get back to the gym, consistently, during the summer. It is always harder to accomplish consistency when I am in the school year, but during the summer, opportunity's always knocking. So, Sydney and I play, nurse, nap, play, eat, play, swim, play, nurse, nap. Daddy gets home and he plays while I make dinner, and then we all eat at the same time. After bath time and bed time, I head to the gym. It is late, and there have been a few times where my late workout has disrupted my sleep, but I like it. The gym is empty and I get to do my thing. My running has come quite far in the short amount of time we've been out of school. I intend to keep it up. Nothing makes me feel as good after a workout as a run. Besides, Steve and I are planning on running a 5K in August. Granted, it is only a little over 3 miles, but I haven't done actual workouts in over a year, so...I'm pretty proud of myself. It is beginning to show, too. I haven't really lost weight, but I'm lifting weights at the same time to help tone, and things are tightening up and clothes are getting looser, so I'm not too worried at the moment. Muscle weighs more than fat, and muscle burns more during rest than fat, so as long as I keep up the weights, I'll continue to burn more even while I sit here and blog.

I did take a slight interruption for a stay-cation - we rented a house on the lake for 3 days. It took us only 35 minutes to get there and the directions had 2 turns. That's it. So simple and beautiful. It's a private rental property, furnished with everything and it was so very nice to just get away. We decided against our visit to DC, considering Steve's possible pending job change. This was quite nice and we'll definitely go back at some point. Sydney loved the water. The float we found was very cool, including the toys attached for him to play with. Let me know what you think of the pics. Don't you love his shark swimsuit?

Some excellent news - one of my best friends from graduate school is returning, kind of, to me! Melissa and family chased career opportunities and moved back north shortly after graduate school. We click on so many levels that I consider her a sister and we've always been able to pick up exactly where we left off, even if we didn't keep in touch for more than 6 months. I am very excited that she's moving more in this direction, though she'll still be 5 hours or so away, it is a far cry from the 2 day drive to the northern midwest. Yay!

Last, I'm sitting in 75 degree weather - gorgeous night. Clear, low humidity, and comfortable. The sounds of the crickets is punctuated by our neighbors' air conditioning units, though I think it is comfy enough to open the house up tonight, and premature fireworks. I do not have any lights on except the kitchen sink light. I have citronella candles lit. Very relaxing, very comfortable, very necessary. Sydney's asleep, and Steve is at a friend's house watching the UFC championship. I think because I've been on this gym kick I haven't really taken down time for myself. The gym is 'me time,' but it is still amped up. I still listen to fast-paced music on the way there to get my blood going so I can run for 40 minutes. This, instead, is so nicely calming. I've missed it a great deal.

Add the punctuating bottle rockets and sparklers. Add the glow from my two candles, and my cranberry juice in my cup holder. Add the ripple, even, from the neighbor's pool. Add the cloudless sky, and the lack of light pollution in this remote back yard. This is so nice. Nothing is missing, for the moment. Happy Independence Day, faithful readers.