Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Doubts about Motherhood: Sleeping

Photo Credit: David J. Laporte

Sleeping is probably the most hotly contested issue surrounding newborns. Everyone has an opinion and most people are certain that their opinion is the right one and the only right one at that. Many mothers, myself included, feel shamed into silence. At least for me, I'm going to be silent no more.

In my lifetime the recommendations of the best thing to do have changed a lot. When I was a kid, babies slept on their tummies. Then sometime in my teenage years I think, babies slept on their side. And now as an adult, babies sleep on their back. All of this information and the tips that parents get from various people in their life can leave you feeling overwhelmed and exhausted. And on top of all of that, your newborn isn't sleeping!

I firmly believe that parental 'instinct' is really the voice God. God formed your child in your womb. If he made your newborn, then he knows what makes them tick. He know the quirks about them and he will share those things with you. So when your instinct tells you this kid doesn't want to be swaddled and hates his bassinet because he doesn't wants his arms free and doesn't want to touch anything when he stretches out (Ben), then God just gave you a hint about your child. When your instinct tells you this kid loves a blanket to sleep with because she wants to be cozy and has something to grab (Lily), then God just gave you a hint about your child.

Those hints can go a long way in figuring out what sleeping arrangement is best for your child. Every child is different and their specific needs are different. You can ask your relatives, your friends, and your pediatrician. They will all probably give you different answers. All of those answers can't be right for your child. In fact, none of those answers might be right for your child. After you have gathered many ideas and opinions, then ask God which one of them is best for your child. Asking others for their opinion is not a bad thing, but make sure you are able to detach their opinion from their attitude. If you can't, don't ask.

With a newborn, sleep is precious and you often don't get enough of it. When you don't get enough sleep, your normal ability to handle people and situations is lowered and your stress level is higher. So don't put yourself in a situation to get more stress. Do put yourself in a situation to get more help. Ask family or friends to help out with the baby for a few hours or a night, so you can get some rest. The more tired you get, the more exhausted you are and when you are exhausted you are more dangerous. Ask for help and get some rest.

Now that you are asking for help and you are rested, you can figure out the exact combination of things to help your child sleep. For example, Ben slept with us in our bed for two or three months. Then he slept in his car seat that was in his crib for a month or so. And finally he transitioned to sleeping in his crib on his belly with nothing around him. Lily slept in her bassinet for about half of the night and finished the night sleeping on my chest on the couch. We did this for a couple weeks. She then slept in her car seat in her crib for a few more weeks. And by 6 weeks old she was sleeping in her crib on her back on top of a pillow with a blanket over her.

Yes I have broken 'rules' with both of my children. I haven't worried about it either because I trusted what God was telling about my child was more important than the general rules that are given by society. What works for my children may not work for your children.

I am NOT advocating one particular method to help your baby sleep.

I am advocating for you to listen to God.
I am advocating for you to ask for help.
I am advocating for you to get some sleep.

I think those things are what is best for you and your child. After you have done those things, then you can work out the best way to help your child sleep.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

A Place of Wonder and Magic

Photo Credit: TechSoup for Libraries'

I have been hesitant to tell this story. I'm not exactly sure why. Maybe some stories and some moments are so special that they lose something in the telling, so we keep it to ourselves. So I have been keeping this one to myself, but I don't think I should keep it to myself. So today I'm going to tell you about going to the public library with Ben.

The above library is the library we go to. There are others around, but this one has a special something ... a puppet theater! Ben loves puppets, so this is a pretty hands down winner for us. So we go to the library and I get to pick out a book or four and then we go to the kids section and Ben plays in the puppet house. We took a very long break that was filled with Lily. And in the last few weeks we have gone several times.

The library has always been a wonderful place for me to go. Growing up the public library in town was a few blocks from my house. I often walked or rode my bike up there. I went there to do homework and find new books to discover. The staff were so kind and lovely. I fell in love with the shelves, the smell of the books, the crinkle of the covers. Then I went to college and discovered the stacks and wanted to build a fort in there and hide away from the world.

Now as a mother, I'm going back to the library and sharing the wonder and magic with my kids. (Well, I'm not sure Lily really gets it, but still.) Ben goes with me through the shelves to find the books I want to check out and he is a little antsy because he wants to get to the puppets. He knows on book visits that we get books first, so he puts up with it. However, there are times that I take him for non-book visits. Those are times when he can go and play right away. Often while he is playing in the puppet house other kids will come by and play as well. It does my heart good to see him play with so many different kids. Kids of different ethnic backgrounds, kids of different races, kids of different ages, kids of different socioeconomic stature. We see a little bit of everyone in there and he plays with them all. There are a couple other stations that he plays at, but the puppets are hands down his favorite.

So right there amongst the worlds hidden inside the covers of the books, Ben is discovering a creative world of his own alongside kids of all types. The public library really is a wonderful and magical place.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Good Stuff Saturday 7-19

Look at this:
Zebras, Horse Mommies, Venice Reflections, Amazing Climbing, Autumn, Sunbird, Cloudy Bridge

Read this:
This nearly made me cry. Having a daughter is so much more than I thought it would be.

This made me want to jump around and say Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!

This one made me stop and think about stuff in my life.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Mr. Penumbra's 24 Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloane

This book is now on my top 25 list. (I couldn't possibly narrow it down smaller than that!) That is saying a lot because I don't think there are many newly published books on that list.

Why is this book so high on my list?

Because it is fabulous! The characters, the setting, and the plot are all compelling and fascinating. The author is not afraid to use tried and true plot devices, such as
the overly talented group of friends that her the main character into high places. It  might seem too unrealistic, but Sloan does it with such honesty that I was enchanted.

The main character, Clay, is not particularly talented and he knows that. He also has lots of talented friends, Neel, Mat, Kat, and more. They all come together to help solve a 500
year old riddle and save Mr. Penumbra. All of the very best things are in this book too. Eccentric people, a secret society, the very latest technology, and lots of books. Sloan does an amazing job of making the reader feel like he is in a fantasy world that really does exist. You feel like if you walked down the right street at the right time of day then you would see all of these people.

If you like fantasy, read this.
If you like books, read this.
If you are techy, read this.
If you like conspiracy stories, read this.
If you like secrect societies, read this.
If you are looking for something to sweep you off your feet, read this.

I quite honestly can't think of anyone who
shouldn't read this book. Go read it now!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Reflection on a Decade

As of Thursday July 3rd, my husband and I have been married for 10 years. I can't believe it has been 10 years. It simultaneously seems too long and too short. As I look back to our first year or so together. I can't believe we were so young and stupid. I can believe we made it. There were a couple bad fights, but we came away from those thinking how stupid we were and communicating better.

I suppose I should have some wise advice and caring words. But I really don't know what to say. I love him more now than before because it is more real than it was 10 years ago. I love myself better because of the love he has given me. And there is no one else with whom I would rather spend this time.

So I will give you guys a few photos.

Monday, July 14, 2014

One Word Update: Rest

My 2014 word of the year: Rest

In an effort to rest more, I find myself doing less and spending more time with family. I am finding ways to worry less like using Wunderlist for my to do list. It has been rather freeing. I find that I am more confident in myself. I am happier with the things I accomplish. I feel more confident in what am I doing. I accomplish quite a bit in one day because I am doing lots of little things around the house. So maybe that doesn't seem like a
lot of rest, but rest on some areas had given me the ability to do more in other areas.

However as I reach the halfway point, my heart isn't at rest. It is torn into several pieces by what people are suffering. There had been so much heartache around me. A murdered teacher, a missing teen, a family from Canada that is missing, the family that lost their toddler because he went to play in the car, and more. Admittedly many of those things are in the background and don't weigh on me at all times, but Maggie, the teacher, and Megan, the teen, are with me constantly.

But if I wasn't at a place of rest physically and even spiritually, I wouldn't be able to handle these things. I wouldn't feel that my prayers are enough. I wouldn't know that even through the pain God is in control and has a plan to use these things for good. Don't get misunderstand me. My heart is broken, but my hope is not lost.

My time of rest has restored my faith in God's timing and my ability to serve my family. My time of rest has restored my faith in God's supremacy even in the bad times.
Rest has been healing and freeing. I am ready for rest of this year.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

My whole life had been explained! Or at least the fiction loving part of it. As a kid my two favorite characters were Jessica Fletcher and Scooby-Doo. It is safe to say that I enjoyed, and still do, the logical and observant detective. I have now discovered who that began with, Sherlock Holmes. And I am in love!

I found a free copy of this book when I got my Kindle a couple years ago. It was illustrated and I think that really added a lot to the reading. I read it slowly whenever I had a free moment for a quick story. I think it took me over a year to read it. Not because I didn't enjoy it. On the contrary, it was specifically because I enjoyed it. I read it slowly because I didn't want it to end. Thankfully, I recently found a complete collection of Sherlock Holmes stories for the Kindle. So I can enjoy him for a while.

One thing that I loved so much about this particular Sherlock Holmes book is that there are short stories. There is no large time commitment needed to enjoy a bit of mystery. I also think it is a wonderful introduction to a legendary character that we all know, but may not have read. *sheepishly raising my hand*

Recently I reread this book along with other people from Story Cartel. They wrote several blog posts to go with the book. I really enjoyed them because it really made the book become more alive and more relevant. It wasn't just fluff reading anymore. I was learning things about the book and character and I was learning things about other peopl e. I was applying various parts of the book to my life. It made the book much more enjoyable.

If you enjoy mysteries, get this book. Read it now. Read it often.
If you have read this book, go read it again. You can thank me later.
If the above situations don't pertain to you, get it anyway. You will enjoy it.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Doubts About Motherhood: Meltdowns

Crying is okay here. from Flickr via Wylio
© 2006 A National Acrobat, Flickr | CC-BY  | via Wylio

Ben had a dentist appointment today. Confession: We are awful teeth parents. So this appointment was not a regular check up. It was for two fillings after having a tooth extraction last month. He did awesome at the extraction, but I think this time he knew what was coming and therefore was afraid. Or Mommy was with him and he really wanted Daddy. Or maybe some of both. He basically screamed the whole time and only one filling got done. The dentist was getting frustrated and I was worrying about Ben and the dentist and the other kids in the office and Ben.

Kids have meltdowns sometimes. They worry about stuff and have bad days because they are sick or tired. I doubt that there is a mother alive who had not experienced a meltdown. Some days those meltdowns happen at home, but more often than not they happen in public. Then what do you do?

Personally, I am always torn. Ben needs to know how to behave in public even on bad days. However he also needs to know how to work out stressful stuff. So I can't simply tell him to hush or else. I don't want to tell him that either. That isn't a healthy response to stress. He can't just bury it and go on about life. So he needs some comforting and some talking. After that he might need to be told to hush and not wallow in it. I have to make sure my response to his meltdown is about him and not me. I can't respond out of embarrassment.

I don't call these times tantrums because these are responses to stress, sickness or fear. Tantrums are responses to not getting my way. Ben has those too and he gets disciplined for those. Tantrums and meltdowns are not the same. Every mother knows the difference between her child's tantrum and her child's meltdown. It does not make you a bad parent that your child has a meltdown. It does not mean there is something terribly wrong with your child. It just means your child is having a bad day. It happens to all of us, but children don't know how to deal with it. So as a parent, I need to help him deal with those. I am comfortable with this. What am I not comfortable with is what everyone else is thinking while I'm trying to help Ben through it. I don't worry about it to the point of abandoning one of my most cherished parenting beliefs. It is just a worry that bounces around my head. I doubt that other people really understand what I'm doing or appreciate that I am parenting good in that moment.

So if you see one of my children crying or maybe even acting out and I'm not disciplining them, now you know why.
Previous posts in this series:
Pain Medicine
Too Much

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

The Ben View

Last week I talked about Lily. So it only seems fair to talk about Ben this week.

Photo: Loving church fellowship.

One of the things that I love most about Ben is his acting ability. He watches his favorite shows or movies, at the moment Lilo and Stitch, Jessie, and Lake County Captains Mascot, Skipper and Skippy, videos, in order to memorize scenes. He then uses his stuffed animals, which he calls puppets, to act out that scene. This past week was VBS, so his puppets were singing the VBS songs. When we go in car anywhere, he starts quoting one of the above shows. Sometimes that can be a problem because I think he is talking to me about something. I'll turn down the radio and ask him to speak up over the road noise. Then he tells me that he was talking to Lilo and Stitch or to Bertram or to Skipper.

Sometimes he needs participation in these scenes. So Drew or I have to play along with him. When we do this, we have to get the lines right for the scene AND we have to enunciate everything right. So if it is Lilo and Stitch, then we have to make sure we have a slight Hawaiian accent when we are speaking. The enunciation includes his version of the words. So when he hears Evan Too Debashedy, it is the correct version. It certainly could not be EvanTube HD.

Another couple things about Ben's view on the world:

There are rules and everyone should follow them. So he reminds us of the rules or his classmates. He tries to be nice about it most of the time.

Recently he has become much more vocal about what he is learning at church and his prayer requests. Some very sweet ones. For instance, "my sister who fell out of her stroller" or Nana or another family member. Some funny ones. For instance, his stuffed animals, Rocky and Alicia, the sock monkeys, or a character on TV, Cena and Rollins who won the championship and Money in the Bank.

And one final thought about Ben. At PawPaw's house, he has a little pool. He 'dives' off of the stone bench next to it. He has taken to naming all of his dives. I think there is a 'hug dive', a 'Superman dive', a 'witch dive', and many more.

He is a remarkable little boy. We are very blessed to have been given the opportunity to raise him. God is so very good to us.