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.