Friday, December 16, 2011

You know you're tired when...

This started as a "note" on my Facebook page. Given my current state, I thought it was time to post it here, along with those that people added as comments to my Facebook post. Plus, I have a few to add...unfortunately.

You know you're tired when... go to the wrong floor when trying to leave your office for the parking garage, and then you get back into the elevator and immediately go to another wrong floor -- and you have assigned parking just spent the last 30 minutes throwing items into your cart like mad and when the first checkout lane you come to is "10 items or less" you actually look down to see if you qualify

...the pastor raises his hand during a baptism (as in for "In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit") and it's not until the other guy DOESN'T give him a high five that you realize that's not what he's doing

...the only thing that sounds good for dinner is a nap

(From others:)

You know you're tired when your kids ask Skittles for breakfast and you say yes because you realize it will buy you ten more minutes on the couch before you actually have to get up and fix a real breakfast.

You know you're tired when you think to yourself ice cream could be a good dinner meal...for the kids...after two days of taking them off sugar...

You know when you are tired when you use the elevator to go the first floor and when the door opens, you walk out looking for your kids wondering where everyone is because the halls are empty and no kids are in the class. Then you realize after three minutes, that you never left the second floor and the elevator is broken... I still laugh at this...  

(A few more from me:)

You know you're tired when you hear the baby waking from a nap and walk in the direction of the monitor instead of the child's room.

You know you're tired when you have the spoon turned bottom side up and try a couple times to put green beans on it before realizing it.

Though this is meant to bring a laugh, I want to, in all seriousness, say kudos to moms, especially single moms and moms with kids with special needs. When my husband is unavailable and my kiddo is sick, I know I still am not confronting the challenges that they face. All moms -- give yourselves a pat on the back. Then add your tired stories here!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

We Don't Know What We Don't Know (Baby Books We Love)

A wonderful parent with another on the way recently asked me for a list of books that I like. I thought I would post it here, too.

As new parents, we asked our veteran-parent-friends for book recommendations and scouted some out on our own. This is the list of the ones we love and why. I know that some people have strong feelings for or against some of these, but we've been blessed by taking something from all of them as we find our way. These reviews are far from academic, but I hope they help you choose some baby reading material that's right for you. The books reviewed below are: Brain Rules for Baby (really for kids 0 to 5 years), Shepherding a Child’s Heart, On Becoming Babywise and Babywise for the Pre-toddler, The Baby Book, The No Cry Sleep Solution, and The Happiest Baby on the Block. (P.S. I saved the shortest material [actually a DVD] with the quickest return on your investment for last.) Enjoy -- and I'd love to know what has helped you, too!

Brain Rules for Baby: How to Raise a Smart and Happy Child from Zero to Five
John Medina

A smart baby, a happy baby, a well-behaved baby. Certainly these are the dearest hopes of most parents. This book shares research on how to increase the chances that those hopes will be realized. When I say research, I mean rigorous research. In the author's words, "To gain my trust, research must pass my 'grump factor.' To make it into this book, studies must first have been published in the refereed literature and then successfully replicated. Some results have been confirmed dozens of times."

And yet--though it's saturated in research--it's NOT boring. I'm quite addicted to it, and I'm not a big reader. My husband actually started reading this and turned me onto it, and I love that he read it rather than let me summarize it for him because there is a lot in there for both of us and sometimes it's easier to hear it from a researcher or just about anyone other than someone who is close to know it's true. Though, in the interest of full disclosure, I must tell you that I did not join Josh in reading this one until after Gavin was born so I DID let him summarize the pregnancy chapter for me as he went and then picked up reading the book from that point forward after Gavin was born. I did not go back and read the pregnancy chapter for the purpose of this review, but the parts he told me about were very helpful. 

I also want to make an aside here. Even though I love the book and I've even been heard commenting that our world would have a lot fewer problems if everyone read this book when they got pregnant, I do not agree with the author's assertions about evolution and where morality comes from. The author uses evolution to explain many survival instincts, the fascinating ways our brains our wired before birth, moral codes and a host of other things. Though his views may seem to make sense to a point, even he alludes to the fact that evolution cannot explain everything scientists have discovered about babies. After citing several examples of what babies can do, he says, "Those are just two examples illustrating that infants come equipped with an amazing array of cognitive abilities—and are blessed with many intellectual gadgets capable of extending those abilities." Then he gives a few more examples such as they can "understand that size stays constant even when distance changes the appearance of size" and "discriminate human faces from nonhuman faces at birth and seem to prefer [human ones]." He then says, "How did babies acquire all of this knowledge before being exposed to the planet? Nobody knows, but they have it, and they put it to good use with astonishing speed and insight" (p. 65).

These things CAN be explained apart from (and even better than) by evolution with the belief that a caring creator designed it this way on purpose. After all, he wants us to survive, to have the thinking processes we need, to have a moral code and all of those things that evolution is credited with in this book. But he can also do the mysterious like equip a baby as young as 42 minutes old to imitate someone sticking his tongue out. Yes, there is a study about that in the book (and other such interesting and quirky ones). Yes, I do disagree with the author on some things. Yes, I am still HIGHLY recommending this book and think that most people can get a lot out of it no matter their beliefs.

To that, I'll add: to breed something in your children more deep than good behavior, I strongly recommend supplementing the section of this book on "moral baby" by reading Ted Tripp's Shepherding a Child's Heart, which (not coincidentally) is the next review.

Shepherding A Child's Heart
Ted Tripp

Ted Tripp addresses many of the perplexing parts of parenting in a fresh new way. He frames discipline as more than raising children that are "good," and he frames relating to children as more than sacrificing discipline to be their "buddy." He provides guidance for influencing a child's heart, so that their "good" actions are a true outpouring of a heart that is right, and so that even as they outgrow their parents' authority, they do not leave the protection of their wisdom. Great for parents with kids at home - no matter their age!

On Becoming Baby Wise (and Baby Wise for the Pre-Toddler)
Gary Ezzo, M.A. and Robert Bucknam, M.D.

When one of my dearest friends came to stay when Gavin was 2½ weeks, she mentioned that they didn’t put their babies to sleep right after nursing, so the babies would get used to sleeping on their own without needing nursed. Hmmm…baby falling asleep without my help. Even in my sleep-deprived state (or should I say – especially), I was intrigued. She went on to say that they followed a sleep, eat, wake, sleep, eat, wake cycle. Where – I asked – did they learn of such a thing? Well, I’m not sure how, but I’m probably the only person that hadn’t heard of “Baby Wise,” but I promptly ordered it from Amazon and started digesting it.

Josh and I found the book so, so helpful. It is aimed at helping your baby have healthy sleep cycles, but also discusses so much more such as monitoring your baby’s growth, feeding and other parenting tips. In order to create healthy sleep, it teaches you how to get you baby on a feeding schedule that is still based off of his/her cues and provides flexibility to break the schedule to meet the baby’s needs without starting over. Gavin took to it very well, and it was great for us Type A’s to not feel so directionless day in and day out. He did take longer than the averages in the book to get to 10-12 hours sleeping per night. Part of that may have been that we were putting him to bed too late, but he’s also a hungry, hungry boy. Still, we are convinced that this was the best thing for Gavin and for us.

We did not do the Cry-It-Out method. That part was not for us. We were blessed that Gavin was very good at soothing himself to sleep, especially before the 6ish month separation anxiety started, so we never felt like we had to. When it got harder for him to soothe himself, we adopted a lot of the techniques in the “No Cry Sleep Solution” (see below).

Once we exhausted the techniques in Baby Wise, we moved on to Baby Wise for the Pre-Toddler. It has great information on introducing solids, high chair manners and further sleep tips. I also found a popular blog called “Chronicles of a Baby Wise Mom,” which provided a lot more examples and explanations than were in the book.

The Baby Book
William Sears, M.D. and Martha Sears, R.N.

Written by a pediatrician and a nurse with eight children of their own, this book is extremely comprehensive covering everything from setting up a nursery to nutrition to sleep to common concerns and more. The book is written from an "attachment parenting" perspective, which the first chapter explains well.

We found parts of this book very helpful. Some parts were not right for our family (co-sleeping, baby-wearing [Gavin didn't like it], drug-free birth [hmmm...eight minute contractions, please pass the epidural]). But other parts provided a lot of valuable insight and are discussed below. On some topics, we had already had plenty of support and training, so we skipped those parts.

The parts about bonding and reading your child's cues provided a lot of insight to me as a new mother. There is a section on common concerns; it's great because it tells you when you might see a weird rash or eye secretions or a certain behavior and whether it's normal or not and when you can expect it to go away. The parts about breastfeeding personalities and behaviors and relieving baby's gas are near and dear to our hearts because we had a lot of problems with both.

I am still working my way through it and using it as a sort of encyclopedia -- looking up topics as needed. I am looking forward to reading more about nutrition (which the book addresses through the toddler years), developmental stages, health maintenance, toddler behaviors and of course potty training (eventually).

The No Cry Sleep Solution
Elizabeth Pantley

I didn't read this one right at first because he was good at putting himself to sleep. He tended to have burps get stuck and still does. That keeps him from putting himself to sleep, which leads to us going back in and trying to burp him, and then lay him down and convince him that it really is time for a nap. All of that to say, at the beginning that was our main problem, but other than that, he was really good at falling asleep peacefully on his own. But then he started going through the normal separation anxiety at about five and a half months -- right when we went on a nearly-two-week trip to Colorado (enter another variable: different altitude). He was pretty shaken up by all of that change, and his angst came out the most when it was nap time.

When we were trying to help him regain his good sleep habits, we knew we did not want to do "Cry It Out," but all of our normal procedures and tricks were not enough. I found this book very helpful! I scanned the first few chapters, rather than read them, because most of the information seemed similar to what I found in Baby Wise -- baby's schedule, the importance of the right kind of sleep, how eating affects sleeping, etc. There are other parts I skipped because we were already doing them (we kept meticulous logs) or they no longer applied (he was older than four months, so we skipped that section). I did not go back and read them for the purpose of this review.

Rather than try to summarize, here are some bullet points listing what I like most:
  • Chart of average daytime and nighttime sleep for babies
  • Tips for reading baby's cues
  • Ideas for bedtime routines, nap routines and the best time to put baby to bed (early)
  • Strategies for resettling a night-waking baby
  • "Pantley's Gentle Removal Plan" (helping break suck to sleep association  whether breast, bottle or pacifier)
  • Lots of ideas for creating a down-to-sleep or back-to-sleep plan
  • And much more...including great tips for older babies (up to two years). I, of course, have not tried these, but they seem really great.
The Happiest Baby on the Block (DVD)
Harvey Karp, M.D.

Dr. Karp is like a baby whisperer! He demonstrates five strategies for settling a fussy newborn (0-3 months) based on what comforts them in the womb. It's pretty amazing! A friend let us borrow their copy, and we loved it so much that we bought our own to loan and/or show to friends and family. In the first three months of his life, if Gavin fussed or cried when people were over, my husband would say, "Watch this!" and do the five steps (which takes about 45 seconds or less) or sometimes just two or three of the steps, and Gavin would almost immediately settle 99.9% of the time. It was amazing and such a blessing!

As I said in the introduction, we found it helpful to take things from each of these resources, and I hope you do, too. I also would love to know what resources helped you, so please share them here.

Monday, November 21, 2011

What Gavin is doing today at 10.5 months

I say what he is doing "today" at 10.5 months because each day is something new! You experienced parents are saying, "Duh!" but as a newbie with only his days as a tiny baby as a reference (when the changes were much more slow), I'm pretty amazed.
  • Saying "Daddy," not da or dada, and meaning Josh. (He says "Ma" and "Mama" too, sometimes when he's crawling toward something he knows he's not allowed to have...Ha ha...a request for boundaries? That's how I've been treating it.)
  • Giving open mouth baby kisses. (He's been doing this for a while, but I love it, so I have to mention it.)
  • Imitating very accurately! Today he imitated "love you" and mommy making a quacking sound (like waa, waa). Then he tried to imitate me snapping for Millie by putting his forefinger and thumb together and pressing. He did this while looking at Millie, and after a while when nothing happened, he looked down at his hand like, "This should be working." This brings me to my next one...
  • Calling for, or directing us to call for, Millie -- our 12-year-old beagle/border collie mix who is almost deaf (a recent development). He'll clap and say "Dawh." Last week, we were both calling her while he was standing on my lap. I was looking toward the room she was in across the house and calling, and he was clapping for her like I sometimes do. Knowing that she is nearly deaf and not wanting to yell in Gavin's ear, I gave up and turned back to Gavin and started talking to him. Then Gavin turned my head back in the direction I had been calling and kept doing that until I finally called loud enough and she came. Hilarious!
  • Pulling up onto his knees, and then leaning on the object doing a sort of downward facing dog yoga pose. I think he would get all the way up if he wouldn't pick such short objects to hold onto.
  • Signing the two signs we've really worked on and transferring their meaning to other situations! He only signs "all done" on rare occasions (like the time I fed him apricot muesli -- the signing and the look on his face were emphatic though prior to that he had been acting starving...ha ha...we moved on to something else). He signs "more" a lot. Lately the sign has graduated from just clapping with two open hands to one fist and one open hand coming together, so he's getting closer. The really cool thing is that, even though we've only worked on it referring to food, today he signed it when he wanted Millie to come back and sit by his highchair. Like "More Millie." He still looks bewildered when I do please and thank you. I think he'll actually say it before he learns the sign. He's tried imitating me saying "please" a couple times.
  • I can't believe it took me so long to think of this one because it's precious. He says "bah, bah" when he waves bye bye now, as of a few days ago. It's a really bright "ah" but not quite the long "I" sound. It makes me smile just thinking about those cute little lips pursing up for the "bah bah!"
  • After weeks of him looking at me like I was trying to poison him whenever I would give him anything with texture, he is now eating table food like a champ. He likes salmon, avocado, kiwi, turkey (we celebrated thanksgiving early), asparagus and of course all the normal things like bananas and sweet potatoes. He is still not feeding himself. Sometimes the food ends up in his fist, and he just can't get it from there to his mouth. When he does get it in a nice pincer grasp, he usually looks at it like, "Cool," and then drops it over the tray onto the floor and opens for me to feed him a bite. Not in defiance. Just kind of like, "Okay, that was cool. I did it. Next."
  • He loves coming shopping for clothes with mommy! Those of  you who know me might think I'm exaggerating just because I love to shop, but it's true! It started when we went through some racks that were too close together and all of the clothes brushed his arms. He would get one in each hand when I would slow down and smile and laugh like he had just one a prize! Sometimes I forget, and when we go into a clothing store and he starts laughing and getting excited, I'm thinking, "What's so funny?" Then I realize, he sees the clothes racks.
  • He thinks it's so fun to bat a ball around and chase it while he's crawling. Or a clean baby food lid. Or a car. Or a book. Or pretty much anything. He loves the chase!

Friday, October 21, 2011

The Love Tags

Okay, a long while back I promised some readers book reviews... They are still coming. They are just taking longer than I had thought they would. So, in the meantime, I thought it would be fun to post all the love tags for which this blog was named. They are somewhat in order of when they came on the scene. Some have stuck around.

Sweet Boy
Tiny Baby
Baby Bundle
Squenchy -- Yes it is a made up word, and I don't know why. It's one of the first love tags from when he was a tiny baby. I guess he was just so cute and squishy and, well, squenchy. The terms Squench and Squenchy Bunch soon followed.
Squishy Face
Squenchy Face
Little Love
One-Eyed Gavin (when he was a tiny baby, he would sometimes open only one eye when he was waking up)
Munchkin Face
Little _________ (insert the name of any animal that people generally agree is cute)
Little Bundle
Little Guy
Lovey (I tried to stop saying this just comes out)
Cutie Face
Sweetie Pie
Honey Bun
Honey Bear
Little Son
Sweet Son
Baby Gavin
Gavin Face
Honey Pie
Squeaky Toy (Daddy coined this one)
Silly Face
Silly Head
Baby Head
Baby Doll
Sweet Somethin'
Pumpkin Face
Pumpkin Pie (you know, for the seasonal names)

Your mommy and daddy love you, Gavin...Squishy Face...our Sweet Boy.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Default to Joy

As some of you know, our sweet son has a helmet to fix his little flat head (and it has started working after just a few weeks!).  When I posted a picture on Facebook of him wearing the helmet, my sister-in-law commented, "I love how he is so happy, just takes everything in stride! Doesn't seem to phase him one bit!" And it's true. 

We've been blessed with such a happy baby! I have to give credit to the Lord for reaching outside mine and Josh's genes to accomplish that! Not that we are unhappy people -- we are very happy and have so much to be thankful for, but come on now -- two firstborns who have structured, Type A tendencies and whose desire for excellence and order can sometimes leave them, shall I say, cranky in the midst of otherwise sunny circumstances?! It truly has caught me off guard that Gavin seems to default to joy! When he was a tiny baby, it even seemed that he would try to keep himself from crying and calm himself at certain times in the face of discomfort. As he continued to grow, he would smile at us for no apparent reason and laugh at the simplest things. Don't get me wrong, it's not a 24-hour party, especially since he recently turned 9 months and (as the books said would happen) his opinions are sounding more like protests. But even still, he likes being happy -- for lots of reasons, and for no reason at all.

And it's this "no reason at all" that has me reflecting the most. It reminds me that when I was pregnant and reading lots of books about having babies, raising babies, and especially how not to mess them up, I would think about the kind of home that I wanted Gavin to grow up in. I know that I tend to get anxious about small things and obsess over details. I know that when my mind is not occupied with a pressing matter at hand, it tends to gravitate to "how can I do more, get more, squeeze more into this minute" rather than "how can I give thanks, give back, and find joy in the moment". It is with this in mind, that I started praying that ours would be a home that defaults to joy. In the absence of a reason or activity, I prayed that it would be joy that our minds settle on and that our hearts move toward. 

I see the Lord answering my prayer in an unexpected way (which I guess should be expected). I know our home will have a profound impact on how Gavin grows up. But when I look at this happy baby, I realize the way that he defaults to joy is having a profound impact on us -- inspiring us to continue seeking joy as a theme in our home. And so, Gavin is shaping the home that will continue to shape him. 

Amazing God. Humbled, thankful mom.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Okay, experienced mommies...

Hey moms -- I am so curious what your "procedure" or "order of operation" is for getting in or out of the car in a busy place with a baby and lots of stuff. After shopping, I have my baby, my purse, my purchases, the stroller, etc., etc. Obviously, baby is first priority, but I don't really want to put any of those things at risk. I live in Texas, so then I'm wondering, should I turn the air on? If I do, should I shut the door -- what if I accidentally lock my keys in? Should I leave the front driver side open -- what if someone hops in a drives off?

Okay, so I'm not as neurotic as I sound (almost...), but seriously, I'm wondering, so I thought I would ask all of you smart mommies out there. At the risk of getting a bunch of comments that say "duh" or "chill," I'm asking: "How do YOU do it?"

Saturday, September 17, 2011


A funny commentary on the subject:

So I'm looking around at the baby clothes on clearance at Target for 12-month clothes for Gavin. I see a few things, but then it seemed like every 12-month outfit I saw was for a girl. I went to the next rack -- same thing. I start thinking about how all the 12-month clothes were for girls, and how weird that was, and how I was going to go home and tell Josh how I couldn't believe that ALL the clothes Gavin's size were for girls.

After a thorough once-over, I start to leave the section and a couple walks up. The woman says, "Honey start looking on the other side." So they are each looking, and as I walk away, I hear the guy say, "Nah, all of the 12-month clothes are for boys."

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Baby Sleep Secrets...Don't We All Wish We Had Some?

If you've ever thought, "I wish I could just upload my baby's sleep habits and get more tips on WHAT TO DO!" -- you're not alone (okay - at least you know I'm with you), and you may like this sleep resource from Johnson's: I've played around with it, and here is a short review of the site from my perspective, as well as other resources for sleep.

BEST: The best things about the site are...
  • Customized sleep profile (Click the purple cloud at the bottom) - They partnered with a pediatrician to create a questionnaire about your baby's sleep habits, so you can receive a sleep profile and tips on what to do to help baby to get to the next level in the healthy, happy sleep game. You can download the sleep profile, and answer the questionnaire periodically to see baby's progress or just take the tips.
  • Learn a lullaby (Click "Quietly off to sleep") - There is a section on the site where you can listen to and download both lyric and instrumental versions of three popular lullabies and PDFs of the lyrics (for free). I admit I never knew all the words to "Lullaby and Goodnight" or "Hush Little Baby." I've added the instrumental versions to Gavin's playlist, and I'm excited about learning the words, so I can have more songs to choose from when calming or distracting him.
THE REST: In  my opinion, the "I could take it or leave it" or "It could be better" parts of the site are...
  • Yes, I am sure they want you to buy their product, but the sections I visited weren't pushy (a plus). I chose to try Burt's Bees Calming Lotion (with lavender scent) instead because it has more natural ingredients.
  • Baby Massage: I thought this was a good introduction, but after a few days I was looking for more specific techniques. One place that I found some were:
  • They let you create a "soothing symphony" of various white noise sounds. We've used white noise with Gavin since he was born. This was probably my biggest disappointment because when you've created the perfect symphony, you cannot download it. They only let you receive a link to go back and play it later.  This sent me looking for free downloadable white noise, which led me to: It seems that this person recorded some white noise sounds to share with all of us, which is super cool! I didn't love them all, but some are really good. The recordings are short, so you may need to add a few dozen copies of them to a playlist to get a sound that lasts thirty minutes or so, but that wasn't a huge drawback for me. I was a little wary about downloading something like this from an individual's site, and while I can't vouch for the person necessarily, I did it, and my computer is still happy and healthy.
I'd love to know about resources you've found, too! Happy Sleeping!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

I bet you think this song is about you...

One time during a late night nursing session when Gavin was a tiny baby, I was watching a bio special on Ray Charles. The next day (or was it just a few hours later -- it was like one long day at that point), I had the song "Georgia On My Mind" in my head, so I started singing it to Gavin, substituting "Gavin" for "Georgia." He loved it, and always seemed to prefer it over any other lullabies or nursery songs for a long time. I chalked it up to my baby liking songs with soul like his mommy, but whatever the reason, it was a favorite.

After that, I started substituting his name into all kinds of songs whenever it fit, and here is our current list:
  • "G" is for Gavin (otherwise known as "C" is for Cookie)
  • My Baby lies over the Ocean (My Bonnie Lies over the Ocean)
  • The Batman theme song (You know, Na na na na na na na na, Na na na na na na na na -- GAVIN!)
  • And he's sometimes featured on Old MacDonald's farm (with a burp, burp here and a burp, burp there)
When my former boss had kids, she didn't know any nursery songs, so she changed the words to popular commercials into songs for baby. I'd love to know the silly (or sweet) songs you sing to your little cuties.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

8 Things Gavin is Doing at 8 Months

When Gavin was 7.5 months old, it was like he grew up all of sudden, and each day seems to bring a new discovery or skill. Here's what he's doing now at 8 months:
  • Clapping
  • Signing "all done"
  • Doing a few of the hand motions to "itsy bitsy spider" (very proudly)
  • Taking longer to get used to strangers 
  • Scooting and rolling to get at his toys (he put his knees down a couple times)
  • Smiling for the camera
  • Drinking from a sippy cup
  • Drumming on anything that will stay still