Sunday, April 29, 2012

My 4-Month-Old!

At 4 months old, Russell:
  • Wears size 1-2 diapers and size 0-3 month clothes
  • Weighs 12 lbs 2 oz (in the 6th percentile)
  • Measures 24.75 inches (in the 48th percentile)
  • Has a head circumference in the 37th percentile
  • Can roll from tummy to back, and is very, very close to rolling from back to tummy (he's done it once...).  He also rolls to his sides very well, especially when I bring him in bed to nurse
  • Has discovered his feet and LOVES to play with them.  They make the best teethers
  • Has babbled with consonances once...he said, "mmmmmmOM!"
  • Is very ticklish and will pretty easily giggle if we tickle his neck, cheeks, or armpits.  He also loves to giggle when you touch your nose to his nose repeatedly or when you pretend to eat his hands
  • Has a TOOTH!  It broke through when he was 4 months and 3 days old.  The night before it came through was probably the worst of my life, and he's still got a whole mouthful to go and tylenol does nothing to help his mood.  Heaven help me.  His new tooth is on the bottom right
  • Is very good at reaching for things that he wants, but sometimes has a hard time getting his hands to open enough to effectively grab whatever it is that he wants
  • Shows a lot of interest in toys, holding them and waving them and bringing them to his mouth, but he gets bored with them easily
  • Is very good at sitting up when we give him a little support, but if we prop him with anything else (like the boppy pillow) he falls immediately.  He's completely unwilling to even attempt to support himself sitting with his arms.  But that's ok.  He's still young
  • Has really regressed with his sleeping.  I blame it on our vacation.  Or a growth spurt.  Or teething.  Or maybe he just hates me and wants to make my life miserable.  That's a joke.  Sort of.  He usually wakes up 5-7 times a night and the only thing that gives him comfort, day or night, is nursing
  • Has no self-soothing abilities whatsoever.  He absolutely refuses the binky now--it makes him extremely mad when we try to give it to him.  He sucks his right thumb, which calms him down, but he always takes it out of his mouth to cry again after about 30 seconds.  Like Caleb, and my twin sister when she was younger, he likes to suck his thumb when he feels a soft blanket, which I think is adorable and can be very convenient
  • Has been showing more interest in Caleb, reaching for his hair and whatever toy he might have that is within reach
  • Loves to pull and chew on my hair
  • Is willing to smile and "talk" to anyone who talks to him, but he shows a definite preference for the people he knows the best--Mommy, Daddy, Caleb, Auntie Jenna, etc.
  • Loves to stick his tongue out as far as possible, especially when smiling
  • Screams like a newborn still
  • No longer appears to be dairy sensitive.  I went back on dairy and didn't notice a difference in his mood until a week later when his tooth came in
  • Has horrible eczema that comes and goes.  It freaks me out because Caleb was covered in eczema within a few weeks of starting solid foods.  Other than a refusal to eat, it was the first symptom of Caleb's that made us think that something was wrong.  The pediatrician said he won't be concerned about allergies until Russell's weight becomes a problem (for some reason he doesn't think that going from the 20th percentile to the 6th percentile in two months is a problem...).  But since the GI doctor's waiting list is about two months long, I plan on making an appointment this week and if Russell's weight is fine at his 6-month appointment then I'll cancel the appointment with GI.  I just can't stop thinking that if he has an eosinophilic disorder then I want it diagnosed before he starts solid foods so we don't have to take any steps back
  • Has the most beautiful shade of blue eyes!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Cherish your Children

I came across this article today and I have read it at least five times since this morning. I keep coming back to it, trying to really grasp what it is about it that I feel so strongly about. Here is the article:

On a recent trip to the park, I overheard a parent ranting and raving about a little one “being a brat and always pitching fits.” It took me less than two seconds of looking at the child to realize his mother had put him down on hot asphalt without shoes on, and his "fit" was actually cries of pain as he danced around trying to keep his poor little feet off the asphalt while trying to push past his mommy to get back into the car. In a few years this mother will wonder why her ten-year-old is always so sullen and silent.

Later the same day in Wal-mart, a three-year-old asked her mommy what plastic wrap was for. The mother rolled her eyes and snapped, “For wrapping food in plastic, duh.” A few years from now, this mother will confess to a friend that she has no idea why her nine-year-old is so mouthy and rude.

Minutes later, a two-year-old riding past me in a shopping cart pointed at a toy and babbled in her cute baby language, looking at her daddy with a delighted smile. Her father ignored her first few attempts to get his attention, then finally barked, “Shut up!” without ever looking at her. In a few years this father will complain to his co-workers that his teenaged daughter never talks to him.

Communication in my son’s Tae Kwon Do classes is called, “The link between the world and me.” In the parent/child relationship, communication is entirely… hear this… ENTIRELY the responsibility of the parent. From the moment a child enters the world, they are trying to communicate. Crying, grunting, making eye contact, mirroring expressions: all of these things are the instinctive tools built into infants to reach out into a brand new world and make contact. They can do no more. It is entirely up to the parent to make the connection, to respond, to build those all-important "lines of communication" that will be so vitally important to parents in later childhood. Communication is not something that just happens. It is not something that begins when a child becomes verbal, and it’s not a product of a child’s advancing maturity. Communication is a process, a relational building block, a result of intentional and responsive parenting.

Crying is often mischaracterized as manipulation, and adults are certainly capable of using it that way! But to project such motivations on a baby is to grant them a level of skill and control far, far beyond their capabilities -- and that is a potentially disastrous mistake. A parent’s perception of the motivation behind their child’s behavior is often the single most powerful determinant of the parent’s response. And the parental response or lack of response to a nonverbal child’s cries either builds or damages their communication and connection. There is no in between, no neutral.

Hear this well, parents, your relationship with your teenager is being established NOW, while your child is still a toddler. Your discipline issues with your nine-year-old are being minimized or intensified right now, while he is reaching out to you in infancy. Preschooler’s tantrums are being moderated or exacerbated at this moment by your response or lack of response to your baby’s cries.

And the responsibility for building communication and connection with your child doesn’t end when your child becomes verbal. There is a reason children aren’t classified as adults until they are, in fact, adults. They simply do not have the judgment, experience, or maturity of an adult. Parents, you are the center of your child’s world for many years, and they WILL model themselves after the example you set. If you listen to them, they will learn to listen. If you are rude to them, they will learn to be rude. If you treat them with respect, they will learn to be respectful. If you are angry, demanding, and harsh with them, they will learn to be angry, demanding, and harsh. And so on. Live out how you want your children to turn out. That, parents, is what it means to “train up a child in the way he should go.”

Here is what I feel so strongly about:

It is our job to teach our children. We need to teach them patience. Love. Respect. Understanding. How to talk. How to count. How to use a fork. Our job as parents is to teach. We need to teach them what plastic wrap is for. Is it so hard to say, "Plastic wrap is used to cover leftover food, Honey."? No. It's really quite simple.

Is it really so easy to be angry at our kids? Or better yet, is it really so hard to be happy with our kids? Caleb sees a balloon in the rafters in Walmart, and while I'm busy trying to decide which brand of potato chips costs less, he says, "I see a balloon way up there stuck in the ceiling!" Why on earth would I shout, "SHUT UP!" because I'm looking at something else? Is price checking chips so vitally important that my child's self confidence and happiness is worth risking? I can easily say, "Yes! I see it, too! What color is that balloon?" And he gets so much satisfaction out of telling me that it's red. It's true, I know exactly what balloons are stuck where in the local Walmart. A balloon shaped like a baby is above the sewing section, a Christmas balloon is by the jewelry section, a heart balloon is above home goods, and countless red "clearance" balloons are everywhere else. I could get tired of playing the balloon game. But why? It does no harm. It keeps Caleb happy and occupied, and it's good for his brain. Why is it so easy to talk on the phone to a friend while price checking chips but we can't talk to our children?

What is the point in criticizing our children? In snapping at them? In ignoring them? Seriously? Our Heavenly Father, the perfect example of a parent, who always has our best interest in mind, would never correct us or teach us by snapping or insulting. Because it's mean and it doesn't help. It doesn't help one single thing. You wouldn't treat an adult like that if they said something that you didn't want to hear at that particular time, would you? Why wouldn't you give the same respect to your kids? They deserve the same respect. In fact, children are so pure and perfect and sinless that they never deserve to have their self confidence squashed. They only deserve to be lifted up. There is nothing about a little child that is intended to be annoying. They are just learning to communicate. Help them!

So does that mean that we should spoil our kids? NO. We can be kind and caring and considerate and respectful without spoiling. I put a bag of chips in my shopping cart and Caleb says, "I hold this?" (Happens every time.) I don't say, "Of course, Sweet Boy, because I can't do anything to make you sad because you are too precious!" That's just silly. I say, "No, because they're fragile and I don't want them to break. Maybe we can find something else that you can hold." And he takes that for an answer. If he were to have a meltdown because he wanted the chips and holding the chips was the only thing in the whole wide world that could possibly make him happy, then he gets to have a fit. But when he's done having the fit, he gets to hold the can of formula.

I have come to realize that every tantrum that Caleb has is either because he is overtired (and thus wound up) or because we are not communicating effectively. He loves to look in the fridge when I open it. He stands there saying, "Hmmm..." as if he is contemplating what he wants to eat (which is just funny since he can only eat ten different foods!). If I try to push him out of the way to close the fridge, he flips out. I'm talkin' a real terrible two's tantrum. But if I say, "Please close the door, Sweet Boy," then he usually closes it. But sometimes he's just having too much fun, so I say, "We need to close the fridge so the food can stay cold," and then he will close it. He respects my wishes and I respect that he is two and he has fun doing silly little things like looking in the fridge. We have a mutual respect. Yes, sometimes he earns a time-out for not listening, but that's because he isn't respecting me and I need to teach him how to do that, through showing him respect and through giving loving and easy-to-understand consequences when he doesn't show me respect. But I never discipline through anger. If I did then I might end up doing something that I would later regret.

I think when a parent's patience is being tried a lot of people forget that they want their child to communicate with them, and they're doing just that. We just need to learn their language and teach them ours. Children deserve patience, communication, understanding, time, and respect just as much as adults do. If you don't give your child respect, they won't give you respect because they won't know how! Your young child learns behaviors from you. Which behaviors are ok, which aren't, and how to react to different situations.

Remember, kids aren't inherently annoying. They're inherently wonderful. You just need to recognize and bring out the best in them.

Friday, April 6, 2012

World's Cutest Video

I took this video in July, when Caleb was 20 months old. He would sort of "sing along" when he heard this song on the radio, so I decided to show him the music video. It was his favorite for a long, long time.

Watch it to the end. That's the best part. Enjoy! :D