An Exciting New Phase of Parenting

Those sweet big brothers! They try really hard!

Alan and I have reached an EXCITING new phase of parenting!

Some of our nights are still hard. Last night, Alan was up until 2 am working on finals. I had to get up in the middle of the night for over an hour with J.D., and then Daniel woke up too, and they both insisted that they were starving….at 3am. I did remember that we had had a hurry-up dinner of leftover chili at 5pm that night. The baby didn’t touch his, and Daniel had barely eaten any of his. After that,  there was the evening Christmas music special at our church, and then they had all eaten cookies at the fellowship afterwards.

Once I finally fed them, they easily returned to sleep. Don’t worry. That is an unusual occurence.

Rough nights are a very common occurence.

That’s why this new and EXCITING phase of parenting is so incredibly special.

Morning dawns, and guess who wakes up early in spite of the interrupted sleep….the little ones….but ALSO….the BIG ones!!  haha! By big ones, I am referring to our seven and nine-year-olds.

As a team, on a rainy morning, they are WONDERFUL. Caleb gets the baby out of bed and closes our door. Joshua gets them all breakfast. They all played nicely downstairs.

I know!!!

Alan and I slept until 8:30.  8:30!!!!

Moms of only young children, hang in there. Don’t listen to the people who tell you it never gets easier. It DOES! They just don’t remember.

You only have to do the all pre-schooler thing once. Even when you have two little ones all over again, it’s not exactly the same because now you have helpers. Last night, I had to be at church early. I’m in the choir. I asked Alan, as I left, “Do you want me to take Joshua and Caleb with me?” I couldn’t take the babies because there’s normally no nursery.

Alan said, “No. No. Leave them here. They can help get them things and keep them out of trouble.”

Around 8:30, JD finally snuck past them and made his way to my bed. The big boys had started a game of Pokemon cards, in the BATHROOM, with the door shut, “so the babies couldn’t mess up the game.” I figured that was okay, after all, they had earned that after their good work.

Daniel came running to me, broken hearted because they had left him out of the game. I went downstairs and appealed to Joshua to deal Daniel in, which he did. Eventually, Caleb and Daniel couldn’t get along, and the game ended. Joshua tried really hard to intervene on Daniel’s behalf though. I’m just so tickled with Joshua this morning.

There are clear parings among our boys. Caleb does best with J.D. because he doesn’t pester the snot out of him by picking him up too much and tickling him, like Joshua does. Joshua does much better with Daniel, because Caleb and Daniel are too close in age and, of all our children, have the hardest time getting along. Is that 3.5 year age gap the worst, or is it just their personalities?? I don’t know, but they are a tough pair to manage!

I’m feeling optimistic today. I need to think of something good to do for these boys for being such great morning helpers!

“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”   Luke 2:14

Joshua’s Birthday, Back Pain, and the True Joy of Motherhood

JoshuaFirstNineyears_Fotor

How in the world did I become so old that I have a nine-year-old? tut tut tut. This kid changed who we are forever–Alan and me–I mean.  🙂 When we went into that hospital, in Arizona, in 2005, we were 24 and 26, respectively. I’d read a few books about how to take care of babies, but that’s about it. The only diaper Alan had ever changed was the baby doll at the hospital birth class.

After 16 hours of labor and a vacuum assisted birth, there was our darling little cross-eyed newborn. I cried wonderful tears of exhaustion, hope, and pure love. I loved that boy from the moment I saw the positive lines on the pregnancy test.

196310_7460760533_30_n

Sitting in that hospital bed, hurting–aching–throbbing everywhere, unable to figure out what size nursing bra to wear,  I was drenched in milk, my face was swollen to fantastic proportions, and yet I had never been so happy in my life. We’d had no idea when Joshua would arrive, so there was no one there at the hospital to welcome him, other than Alan and me. It never occurred to us that there should be, and our parents weren’t too happy with how long it took Alan to let everyone know about it. Ha! This was before the days of smart phones and Facebook. No one had anything of the sort! Isn’t it funny how much things have changed?

We had no idea what we were doing, but you know what? It didn’t matter. We loved that baby, and we fed him and cuddled him, and he had all he needed. My parents arrived a few days after the birth, and Mom taught me how to bathe the baby. Thankfully, Joshua was supremely laid back. We thought parenting was fairly easy and so much fun, we couldn’t wait to have another one.  I was pregnant again by the time Joshua was 11 months old.

hahahahahahaha

Then Caleb was born, and I never said parenting was easy ever again. 🙂  But it is fun. I tell everyone, “If you are thinking about having another baby, and both parents are on board, and you are physically capable of doing so, DO IT.”

I know birth control has done a lot of good things for a lot of people–goodness knows it helps with PMS–but I think sometimes it robs us of the family that we could have, but don’t, just because we are afraid it will be hard. Just imagine if you didn’t have your first child because you were afraid it would be hard. Most things worth having aren’t easy.

4505_204169780533_646125533_7309053_6664470_n

4505_204169810533_147780_n

Then there are times when you want a baby so badly, and it just doesn’t happen, no matter what you do. We have been so fortunate not to have to fight that battle much. I am so thankful to have these boys. Alan and I talk occasionally–when we’re feeling brave or sentimental– about the possibility of having another baby. I don’t think it will happen, though. For a long time, I was afraid to even think about it, I was so overwhelmed.

I’m still overwhelmed, but I’m able now to think about the future again. The thing is, my back pain is crippling, and I’ve had so many tough deliveries. In fact, the last two were c-sections, and they do not encourage you to have many of those.

So no, I doubt I will ever have the pleasure of bringing home another baby, not because we don’t want one, but thanks to my own physical weakness. I can’t imagine not wanting a baby. I still get disappointed every time I take a negative pregnancy test, even after all I’ve been through.  Isn’t that silly!!??  I have four children! I’ve been blessed with more than many people dare to dream of. I can barely handle them all, and yet that’s me.

You can bet I will enjoy the ones that I have, no matter how overwhelming it is.  And if I ever run across a child in need of a home, we would be open to adopting.

The back thing is my own fault, partially. Dr. Bodnar had it all nicely fixed up. Then I moved. I quit doing my back and shoulder stretches. I quit exercising my core. I quit going to the chiropractor. I was okay for the first couple of months, but not taking good care of myself is taking its toll. I know it’s getting bad when I live in fear of going to places that have metal folding chairs, and I’m popping Advil 800!

In 2009, when I originally hurt my back, my physical therapy doctor told me this, “Since your back problems are related to pregnancy and caring for children, you should really not have any more children.”

207450_10150467022210534_3479759_n

I got better. I had another baby. I got worse again. Dr. Bodnar, my chiropractor, fixed my back up again. I was able to get through my entire JD pregnancy with no back pain whatsoever. I simply exercised and had chiropractic adjustments every two weeks. Even taking care of JD, I was doing great……until the move.

clutching baby #4

Why do we moms do this to ourselves? Don’t we know we can take better care of our family if we first take care of ourselves?

I should make it my goal this week to find a chiropractor here and to return to doing my stretches and core exercises.

I’m always wondering if other moms can relate to my back problems, or if I’m just some 33 or 34 year old with a 88 year old body. I already cannot ever remember how old I am!  Ha! Yesterday, I could barely even use my right hand, which is highly unusual, but thankfully that was all better this morning.

******

This is all a terrible rabbit trail, you know, I was supposed to be talking about Joshua. Of course, I can’t talk about him too much on here,  because he doesn’t like it. Hopefully, he’ll let me post a few pics of himself and his birthday cake. We didn’t do a real party this year. Alan took our three oldest, plus Joshua’s two best friends (a set of brothers that live right behind us) swimming at the pool. That is Joshua’s favorite place to go, so he was as happy as he could be.

This was SO much easier than a real party. I may not ever do a party again…

“Mom, instead of buying me a cake, will you make me one of your cakes, you know, like you make?”

“Can I hug you forever, my child????”

I CANNOT decorate a cake to save my life, but by golly I can bake one. 🙂

Another Joshua quote that melted my heart:

“Mom, you know a lot about parenting some kids. When I grow up, I’m going to call you up!!!”

Seriously. I’m going to go hug him forever.

Happy Birthday, “Josh”!  But to me, you’ll always be Joshua.  🙂

tmb-200x50_vote_banner

Mommy Brain: Probably the Result of Sleep Torture

Look closely. That was Dan, not JD. He was 20 months old, and he was apparently causing me to lose lots of sleep–not a good situation when you are pregnant.  (Noooooo, I’m not pregnant now. Stick with me here. This was 2012.) Daniel is 3 1/2 now.

Dan was such a good baby. I did not have to ‘sleep train’ him. Yet, somehow he gradually developed a bad pattern, and we had to work on it.  What is it with our toddlers??

The funny thing is I TOTALLY forgot that I ever had to “sleep-train” Dan at the ripe old age of 20 months. If you would have asked me, before I found this old blog post from 2012, what kind of sleeper Dan was, I would’ve said, “wonderful.” HAAAA!  The Mom Brain is a funny thing, full of selective memories.

I totally blame the sleep deprivation.

Don’t despair when you tell your woes to moms who are out of this phase. They have selectively pruned most negative memories, and they may think that you just don’t know what you’re doing. Don’t worry. That’s not the case.

So what gives with these babies? Sometimes you just need to examine the circumstances surrounding your toddler.

JD carries around his polar bear or a dinosaur everywhere he goes. Shout out to Amy and Sean for the dinos! Thank you!!!

We’ll get to what I did for Daniel in 2012 in a minute. First, let’s talk about my current toddler, J.D. This summer JD gave us FITS in the middle of the night. He still had to have a bottle. He still had to be rocked.  Some nights he would wake up every couple of hours. It was miserable.

Did I let JD cry it out? No. No. No.  This isn’t rocket science. In this case, I firmly believe the right thing to do was to suck it up and just be there for my baby. JD was in the middle of a domino-effect of life changes, and he was only a 12 month old. To ignore his cries actually would have been pretty mean because he needed some extra reassurance. We were out of our ordinary routine, moving from place to place, from the beginning of June through just a couple of weeks ago.

Guess what happened? Well, let’s NOT count our chickens before they hatched, but I THINK it worked itself out on its own.  We’ve had two glorious full nights of rest. Who knows–he may wake up once tonight, or he may sleep all night. Either way, this is not bad.

Honestly, I could never let a little baby just cry and cry without consoling them. I can’t do it for too long for a 20-month-old either, but apparently I did cave and let Daniel cry a while. I knew there was nothing wrong with him, and he was getting cuddled all day long, so it really did pay off.

For my first two munchkins: I re-sleep trained them any time it was necessary–pretty much just used the “Ferber” method. We would put them to bed, and then flee the room. We have always found that having an established bedtime routine makes a huge difference.  Once we left the room, if they cried without stopping, we’d go in there after 5 minutes, pick them up–yes—pick them up, console them for a bit, and lay them back down. I’d do this in increasing intervals. The truth is, I’m a softie, and usually by the third interval, my “consoling” would put them to sleep. This all worked just fine.

However, Dan gave me enough trouble that I had to get tough with him. In November 2012, I resorted to some longer intervals:

This is what I wrote in 2012 about sleep-training the Dan Man. He was 20 months old. Also, I should tell you, that Daniel was quite the mischief maker during the day. I described that too….

“-Daniel is still a sleep challenge. THANKFULLY, he DID finally sleep through the night last night. However, as we speak he is in the crying it out process in his crib….
 
 

Daniel, November 2012

 
-(About my missing wedding rings–sadness!) I still haven’t found my wedding rings. I am pretty sure they were flushed. I have good circumstantial evidence pointing in that direction.
Daniel went to sleep!!!!! Hallelujah! Sleep training= letting them cry it out, but never more than an hour. After a couple days of that, they decide crying for an hour is just not worth it!
-His current goal is to put his shoes on by himself. I find him practicing all the time. OH! Also, he said “Joshua”, actually “Yoshwa”, and “Caleb”, “Cay-cay”, this week! We were so excited!
-Tonight I walked into the boys’ bathroom, yes at our house there is actually a boys’ bathroom, to find Caleb putting toothpaste on Daniel’s toothbrush for him. Dan was leaning on the sink, waiting patiently.
-About Daniel’s name: I like Daniel, Dan, and Dan-Dan, even the Dan Man, but I do not like Danny–I really don’t like Danny at all. Just wanted to make sure everyone knows.
-Yesterday I wanted to shower while all the boys were running loose in the house, so I paid Joshua and Caleb $1 a piece to keep Daniel out of trouble while I took my shower. Best idea I’ve had in a while, and money well spent!”

**************

And now look at us, 2014, and dealing with so many of the same issues all over again!

We’ve read Babywise and tried that. We’ve Ferber-ized. You name it; we’ve done it. I also read that if you want to keep your children from waking up in the middle of the night, you should be sure to spend time talking (NICELY) to your spouse each day. Make sure your kids are watching while you chat with your spouse to really build up security points!!  That gives them security, so they wake up crying–or walking to your bed–less at night. I will say, Alan and  I were in two different states for half the summer, so that also could have contributed to JD’s insecurity.

They call the parent-talk time “couch time,” and I do think that’s a great idea. Google it.

So, in summary:

1. Different times call for different measures. You choose what works for you and your baby.

2. These are not hard and fast rules. There are none. Even if the American Academy of Pediatrics put out guidelines about it, you’d still need to go with common sense.

3. There is more than one way to skin a cat.

4. Every kid is different.

******************

Quote of the week:

Alan: I’ll put the trampoline together right now if ya’ll can tell me all the states and capitals ya’ll have learned.

Boys:  Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!

Alan:  What’s the capital of Vermont?

one of the boys:  Massachusetts!!!!!!

Alan: This could take a while.

🙂 They’ve got it down now, and the trampoline was a life saver today. 🙂 Roll Tide. Yep. It’s that time of year again.

1 2 3 4 5 10