Saturday, May 30, 2009

Deviation Disaster

Okay, maybe disaster is an over statement, but I thought it was a good alliteration. Anyway, I wanted to post a blog on how deviating too far from a routine can get me into trouble with my kids as I mentioned in this blog. Yesterday was a good example ... it was only a small deviation, but it still had it's consequences.

Our family is living with one car right now. Since Colin lives so close to his work that hasn't been a problem, but lately he's been going in to work pretty early ... like 6:30am and I'm not willing to wake the kids up to take him so that I can have the car. Do you blame me?

Anyway, Colin went in to work late yesterday, so that I could have the car. Normally, I'd have already fed Micah and packed a breakfast for Jackson so that we could drop Colin off at work by 8am and then head to the grocery store and make it home before Micah's morning nap. There are so many good reasons why it's better to shop in the morning (it's not crowded, my kids are better behaved, the produce is fresher and I can check out MUCH faster).

However, I did not have my meals planned out for the week and I didn't have a grocery list, so I decided to wait until after the afternoon naps to go grocery shopping. The idea was to go at 4pm and be done around 5:30pm to pick Colin up from work and then if Micah needed a third nap we'd be home for it.

In reality we didn't really get out of the door until around 4:30pm (you know how that goes). The grocery store was very busy and I had a long list of things to buy. Around 5:15pm I realized that I was not going to make a 5:30 pick up for Colin, but didn't sweat it. Then by the time we were checking out Micah was ready for that third nap, but I was still not sweating it, not too much anyway.

I gave Colin a call when we were on our way to pick him up at 6pm and he said that he was not quite ready for us yet. GRRR ... I was TRYING not to sweat it at this point. We usually eat dinner around 6pm. Luckily I had packed some crackers and milk for Jackson to eat at the grocery store, but when we got to Colin's work I popped the trunk and also got him an apple. I was surprised at how well Micah was doing at this point.

We got home around 6:30. Colin and Jackson unloaded the groceries and Colin went back to work (yeah ... it's been that kind of week for him ... not fun). I quick got Jackson some meat (he'd already had an apple and crackers) and then made Micah's food. By this time Micah was getting a little frantic about being hungry.

So now Micah had been without his third nap and ate a half an hour after his normal time and only an hour before his bedtime. My fear was that he'd get full on solid food and not nurse well at bedtime. So, I only gave him about half to three fourths of what I would normally give him. It was enough to make him happy.

By 7:30 Micah was ready for bed ... and you moms know what I mean by "READY for bed." He fell asleep nursing. Bummer. Because he fell asleep nursing he didn't drink as much and he didn't burp well. Bummer. But he was asleep. Maybe the deviation from his routine wouldn't have that big of an affect on him.

11:30pm Micah woke up crying, not a scream, just a cry. I tried to burp him, but was unsuccessful. I finally ended up giving him gas drops and a pacifier and that seemed to do the trick. I hadn't even gone to bed yet, so it's not like I lost sleep. I went to bed hoping that that was all he needed to make it through the rest of the night.

5:30am Micah woke up crying. I put the pacifier in.

5:35am Micah woke up crying. I tried to burp him and put the pacifier in again.

5:40am Micah woke up crying. I gave him the pacifier and he spit it out immediately. He wasn't hurt and wasn't showing any signs of being sick. So, I gave in and nursed him. As soon as he drank what he needed he fell right back to sleep and I woke him up at 7:45am.

My conclusion: not having a third nap and eating a late dinner meant that Micah was extremely tired at bedtime and did not burp well and nurse well enough to make it through the night.

My solution: make a grocery list the night before and go grocery shopping in the morning.

The good news is that, now that Jackson's older, that deviation had NO affect on him at all. I look forward to the days when Micah will follow suit.

Lesson learned!

Friday, May 29, 2009


As some of you may have noticed, Micah has CRAZY hair! He has had crazy hair since he was born. I had people asking me when I was going to give him his first haircut when he was only 4 months old.

I probably could have given him a haircut that young, but I am a little nervous when it comes to cutting hair. I'm almost positive I traumatized Jackson when I cut his hair around 13 months old (NOT his first hair cut either). It was so traumatic that I won't even retell the story (okay it wasn't THAT bad), but here's a before and after picture ... yeah ... I'm glad it was summer. Jackson BEFORE
Jackson AFTER: It's no wonder this kid doesn't like me coming near him with clippers!

Jackson is just now getting better about having his haircut (I've have definitely resorted to lots of bribery to get him to sit still). So, needless to say, I was hesitant to cut Micah's hair. However, it was getting a little out of control even for me. So, I bit the bullet and cut his hair today. He did great!

Here are the before and after pictures. I'm not sure if you can see a difference, but I did actually cut more than your normal lock of hair off for his first cut. I think it makes him look older, don't you? Micah BEFORE Micah BEFORE: Like that nice little tail there and the hair in his ears?

Here's all of the hair I bravely cut off! I couldn't bring myself to cut off his comb-over in the back of his head quite yet. I think I'll wait until his bald spot grows in a little more.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Memorial Day Weekend Trip

We spent Memorial Day Weekend with some friends of ours in Tehachapi, CA. Here are a few of the pictures. These were taken at the Murray Farmer's Market near Bakersfield, CA.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

My Reasons for Routines

This blog is a note for myself to read when I get criticized by other people (people who, I'm sure, have my best interest in mind) for keeping my children on a fairly rigid routine. "Slave to the clock, eh?" they say. When I doubt why I do what I do as a mom I can read this as a reminder for the choices I've made.

In a recent article in Babytalk magazine entitled, Routine Matters, Paula Spencer writes, "Child-development specialists tend to agree that babies thrive best on a routine. 'Routines are comforting. They're a stabilizing force in the life of even a young infant,' explains Will Wilkoff, M.D., a pediatrician in Brunswick, Maine. 'He learns to expect pretty much the same things to happen at about the same time in the same place and with the same people.' This regularity helps a baby to feel more secure, he says, and to gradually adjust his own body rhythms to predictable patterns for sleeping, eating, and activity -- which over time makes everyone's life easier. The first year of life is full of so many new experiences, being able to count on certain occurrences day in and day out is incredibly consoling for your baby."

I've come a long way since I started scheduling with Jackson and I have definitely eased up a little on how regimented I am with my boys' schedules, but I also know from experience that when I am too flexible with their schedules stuff tends to "hit the fan."

The number one reason I stick to a routine with my children is PREDICTABILITY!!! Not just for me, but also for them (as the quote above explains). However, it's nice for me to know what my children need depending on their routine. I rarely ever (I won't say "never") question whether or not my children are hungry or tired because I know the answer based on their routines.

Parental authority comes in a close second for reasons I schedule my children. Okay ... don't hear what I'm NOT saying. I don't view parenting as a "right" to rule over my children as if now they are my minions under my domain. Parenting is a privilege and an honor that I don't take lightly. Colossians 3:21 (NASB)says, "Fathers, do not exasperate your children, that they may not lose heart."

However, that being said, if Colin and I don't establish a routine for our children than who is likely to determine when they eat and when they go to bed and how long they play? Most likely the children. In my 10 plus years of child care experience (ranging from babysitter to nanny to daycare worker to mom) households where the children ran the roost were usually pretty exhausted households. I'm not stating my opinion here ... just my observations.

I've seen kids treat their parents like slaves, throwing tantrums in public and in private to get what they want. I've seen parents who are at their wit's end because they can't understand why their children misbehave when they've given them everything they've asked for. I've also seen those same children become more submissive and happier children when they begin to live on a predictable routine that includes healthy eating and sleeping habits (a bit more discipline helped too, but that's another blog).

Colin and I decided long before we had our first son that we were going to have a family-centered household rather than a child-centered household. Meaning we would establish a routine for our children that would fit into our family dynamics rather than reshaping our family dynamics to center around the needs of the child. Of course our family needs to make sacrifices for each other including the children but that's part of being a family and that does NOT mean the children become the central focus.

Another reason that I insist on scheduling my children may seem contradictory, but it is because routines make the times when we need to be flexible MUCH more manageable. It's easier for us to bounce back from a chaotic Memorial Day Weekend trip or illnesses if we know what our normal routine looks like.

Finally, it's been easier to have other people to take care of my children when I can tell them almost exactly what to expect. It's also easier on my children because they know what to expect even when being cared for by someone other than Colin or myself.

Again, I didn't write this blog to convince anyone to start putting their children on a routine. And I don't want to paint a perfect image of scheduling either. Establishing a routine for our children at such a young age is hard and frustrating at times. There were many times that I wanted to "throw in the towel," but for me the short term struggle has been worth the long term gain. Besides, parenting is just plain hard sometimes whether we put our children on a routine or not.

Friday, May 22, 2009

7 months

My Recovery

If you don't want to read about all of the female stuff that comes with having children, skip to the section titled Micah.

Micah will reach the 7 month mark on the 25th and I still have not started my cycle. I'm not complaining by any means, but I remember starting sooner with Jackson. However, I did start Jackson on solid foods a little bit earlier than I did Micah.

My libido is still pretty low, but I remember that with Jackson too. I don't think that it really became normal again until I was done nursing.

My hair loss seems to be slowing down finally too! (SIGH) It started to REALLY fall out when Micah was around 4 months old. I seriously thought I was going to go bald, but now it's slowing down and I desperately need a haircut.

I've been working out about twice a week doing 30 minutes of aerobics and 30 minutes of anaerobic. I'll also be starting a community class next week (Belly Dancing for Moms ... we'll see I guess). My pre-pregnancy clothes fit, but I'd have to say that the pants (particularly the jeans) are still not very comfortable to wear. Maybe I've just gotten used to loose fitting clothes?


We've spent a lot of time tweaking Micah's schedule over the past month and here's what it is now ... we'll see how long it stays this way, but we are definitely in a groove (BUT we are traveling this weekend, so we'll see what happens):

7:15am nurse
7:45am solids
9:15am nap
11:15am nurse
12:00pm solids
1:15pm nap
3:15pm nurse
5:15pm nap
6:00pm solids
7:15pm nurse and bedtime

I know it goes against Babywise to have a gap between nursing and solids, but my logic is that I want Micah's solid food intake to align with when we eat meals as a family and starting Micah's day at 8am has been difficult with the days I need to take Colin to work in the morning. We'll see if that bites me in the butt later on.

So far Micah's had rice and oatmeal cereal, acorn squash, sweet potato, yam, avocado and peas (all of which I've successfully made on my own). He's been eating about half a tea cup full or about 4 cubes of food at each feeding (less at breakfast because he drinks a lot more milk for that feeding).

It felt like nap times were hit and miss this month. There were times when I felt like we were doing great and then other days I'd be so frustrated because he'd wake up 30 minutes to an hour into his nap crying and the only way I could get him to go back to sleep was by putting him in the swing. (I have to remember that he had a TERRIBLE ... make that TWO TERRIBLE colds in a row this month).

However, this week has been much better. I'm also pleased that I haven't had to give him his pacifier much unless he's over tired. I think that's been the key for Micah ... getting him down for a nap BEFORE he gets fussy. For right now that's been about 2 hours after he wakes up from a nap.

He has been taking three naps a day, two of which are about 2 hours long and one that is about an hour long. BUT the past couple of days he's been waking up in the middle of the night (1 or 2am) wide awake (at least he's happy) for about a half an hour. He puts himself back to sleep, but then he wakes up for the day around 6:30am. SO, we decided to cut his third nap down to 30 minutes rather than a full hour. So far that seems to be working, but this is only the second night we've tried that.

Micah's sitting up and rolling over consistently. He loves sitting in his exer-saucer and under his play gym. However, his favorite activity is going on walks in the Joovy Caboose stroller we just got off of craigslist (Jackson loves the new stroller too). Micah's favorite toys right now are teething rings because I'm pretty sure he's starting to teeth.

He also started babbling a lot more in the past couple of weeks. His first babbles were "bah-vah" which sort of sounds like "brother" (of course Jackson just ate that up). It's possible that his newly discovered babbling, teething and a growth spurt may also be factors in him waking in the middle of the night.

Stranger anxiety also kicked in this month. I was surprised to see that he was fine at church last week when we were all sitting down, but as soon as the service was over and everyone was walking around he lost it. I'm also surprised that he tends to cry when young girls or young women look at him rather than men. We had a babysitter about a week ago and I guess he cried almost the whole time. BUT he took the bottle just fine! YAY!


Jackson continues to surprise me everyday with how much he is growing up. He's taken the initiative several times now to go potty by himself. He has been playing by himself VERY well lately too, which makes it easier for me to get things done when Micah is napping.

Lately Jackson has really picked up on the concepts of phonics and it's been fun to watch him explore words and make up his own words. It's a bummer though that he's also developed motion sickness, so books in the car are no longer an option.

Jackson loves his little brother and prides himself in being a loving big brother. I couldn't have asked God for anything better than that!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Potty Training

Okay ... I haven't been actively potty training Jackson for a while now, but I wanted to be sure that I wrote down what we did before my memory got fuzzy about my methods. I know each child is so different when it comes to potty training, but I'm hoping it goes as smoothly with Micah as it did with Jackson when the time comes.

How did we decide when to start?

First of all I want to say that I used to work at a daycare and saw all different kinds of "potty trainees." If there is one thing I learned from that experience it's that it HAS to be the child's idea NOT the parents. If a child does not have a concept of the difference between pee and poop and cannot tell you when they have done either in their diaper than they are most likely NOT ready.

That being said, when Jackson around 18 months old my friend, Rachel, was done using her potty chair with her little girl and graciously passed it on to me.

Of all of the potty chairs that Jackson has used the "Safety First Potty Chair and Step Stool" (pictured above) worked the best. Some of the other potty chairs had splash guards that were too short and if Jackson sat the wrong way pee would end up on the floor. The seat also snapped easily on to just about any toilet without sliding around.

I put the potty chair in the bathroom and whenever I would go potty I'd encourage Jackson to sit on it too. I didn't push it or anything. If he wanted to sit he could if he didn't he didn't have to.

Around the same time Jackson was telling me when he went poop in his diaper. If he came to me saying, "Poopy Mommy! Poopy!" I'd get all excited and encourage him to go and sit on the potty chair (note: I left his diaper and all of his clothes on). Again, I did NOT force him. Most the time he'd sit on it for a second or two and then get off. After I changed his diaper, if the poop was solid enough, I'd dump the poop into the potty and let Jackson flush it down.

Then around 20 months Jackson started telling me that he was poopy and there was no poop in his diaper. Again, I'd encourage him to sit on the potty chair in his clothes and diaper. After a few times of him pooping in his diaper immediately after sitting on the potty chair we started attempting to sit on the potty without clothes or a diaper. Thus officially starting potty training.

To be honest I didn't really want to start potty training Jackson so young. It was February or March and it was still cold. I was hoping to start potty training in June around his 2nd birthday so that I didn't have to deal with the layers of winter clothes. It was also really early in my pregnancy with Micah and I wasn't looking forward to dumping poop in the potty while feeling sick (although, I'd have to change the poopy diapers, so I'm not sure that was a good argument). BUT, I knew that I had to jump at the chance of potty training if Jackson was interested, and he was.

How did we begin potty training?

Jackson was much more interested in going poop on the potty than pee. He never told me when he went pee in his diaper and rarely went pee in the potty chair. So, we kept him in a diaper. I put him on the potty chair in the morning right after he woke up, right before nap time, when he woke up from nap time and right before bed time regardless if he told me he had to go or not. I, of course, also put him on the potty whenever he said he had to go.

The key for Jackson was to get him to stay on the potty as long as his little attention span could handle it and he would eventually go poop (especially in the morning). We read A LOT of books!!!!

I'm also not ashamed to admit that there were times that we ate meals on the toilet too. I know that sounds gross, but we especially did this when Jackson had to go potty in the middle of a meal and we needed to be somewhere or it was too close to nap time or bed time.

As long as I stayed in the bathroom with Jackson while he was on the potty he had no qualms about staying on as long as it took to go poop (I know this may be a problem with Micah seeing as my attention will be divided).

When did we switch to underpants?

Another lesson that I picked up from the daycare was that pull ups are a waste of money for most children. Let's face it, they're diapers and the children know that they are diapers and they are more likely to poop and pee in them like a diaper. It's DEFINITELY more convenient for a parent to clean up since you just throw them away, but I'm not certain they helped any of the kids I potty trained at the daycare.

Around 22 months we moved to Santa Maria, California and Jackson was pooping consistently in the potty seat snapped on the regular toilet (that was REALLY nice for the still slightly nauseous mommy). So, we decided to switch to underpants during the day and diapers during naps and at night. We even went shopping for new underpants together. I was hoping that he'd have a few peeing accidents in his underpants, hate being wet and decide he would just use the potty. WISHFUL THINKING!!

Did we use bribery?

Jackson could care less if he had wet his pants and I was determined not to go back to diapers. SO, I started using incentives ... okay I'll just call it what it is .... bribery. We made a chart with the days of the week listed on it in rows, nothing fancy, and he got a sticker on the chart if he sat on the potty. He also got one fruit snack for peeing and one for pooping.

Once Jackson understood the chart I took him to the potty about every hour to two hours. The point of that was not to train Jackson, but to train me. By taking him every hour or so for about five days I was able to pick up on his routine of when he really needed to go to the bathroom. Once I had an idea of when Jackson needed to use the bathroom I started taking him only during those times.

Note: I wanted to create an incentive that I could keep up with and that I could easily wean him from eventually. That's why we didn't do toys as an incentive. Fruit snacks were cheap and once I felt like he got the hang of going potty the fruit snacks "ran out."

When did we start using underpants at night and for naps?

When Jackson started to consistently wake up in the morning and from naps with a dry diaper we put him in underpants. He did have a few accidents, but only a handful. HOWEVER, I will note that that was also the time when Jackson started waking up in the middle of the night crying.

After doing some research I discovered that that was Jackson's body's way of telling him he needed to use the bathroom, but he was too young to understand the message. So, when he'd wake up crying we'd taking him to the bathroom in the dark and then he'd go back to sleep for the rest of the night without a peep.

He cried out in the middle of the night for several weeks (not every night though) and as he got older and his bladder got larger and stronger he stopped waking up in the night to go to the bathroom.

When did we stop using the potty chair on the potty?

For awhile Jackson was scared to go on the potty if the little potty chair was not on the big potty. I don't really blame him. He hadn't gotten the hang of holding himself up and he really liked to look at books while he was on the potty. We even traveled with the potty seat. We slowly taught him how to hold himself up on the toilet and eventually he even came up with his own way of getting on the potty by himself. That's when we decided he didn't need the potty seat anymore.

How long did it take to not have any accidents?

Accidents happen! Sometimes they happen because Jackson is too busy playing and doesn't want to stop to go to the bathroom. Sometimes they happen because we're in a public place and he picks up my vibe of being grossed out by the bathrooms (I sanitize the toilet like CRAZY when I take him in a public restroom). Sometimes they happen because he's sick and I'm pumping him full of fluids to help him get better. Sometimes they happen because I forget to remind him to go to the bathroom. Sometimes they happen because he's still 2 (almost 3) and doesn't have the bladder control of an adult.

When I know that we may encounter one of the above scenarios I try to nip it in the bud and I do my best to make sure Jackson goes to the bathroom.

HOWEVER, I NEVER make a big deal about accidents. We sit on the potty, change his clothes and go back to playing. In my opinion, accidents are not a reason to discipline a child. If Jackson LIES to me about not needing to go to the bathroom when he really does THAT'S a different story, but then he's not being disciplined for the accident, but rather for lying.

I ALWAYS make a big deal about when he uses the potty. When he first started potty training the praises were for sitting on the potty chair clothed and now they are for taking the initiative to go potty all by himself.

Saturday, May 9, 2009


Colin and I have done a lot of talking and reading about the issue of allowance for our children. We were both raised a little differently when it came to allowance. We want to be sure that our children acquire good money handling skills BEFORE they are expected to live in the adult world and make HUGE financial decisions.

When Colin was young he got 25 cents a week for allowance and was expected to put a portion of it in savings, a portion to tithing and a portion he could spend however he liked.

I, on the other hand, didn't get an allowance, mostly due to the fact that there were six kids in my family and my mom was a single parent ... our allowance was being able to eat three meals everyday ... I'm okay with that. However, most of us got jobs as soon as it was legal for us to have one and the money we earned burned holes into our pockets. My dad set up savings accounts for us when we were younger, but it was pretty much understood that we couldn't touch that money until we reached a certain age (I think 16 was the magic number) and then most of us blew that money too.

In high school we learned how to balance a check book and maybe even buy fake stock, but I never had a lesson on how to manage a household budget. You think that would have made the high school curriculum at some point.

SO, Colin and I have decided that we want to be a little more proactive in teaching our children how to be good stewards of the money that they are and will be blessed with in their lives. We started our journey by reading some good books on how to manage money: "Total Money Makeover" by Dave Ramsey, "How to Manage Your Money" by Larry Burkett, "First National Bank of Dad" by David Owen and "Young Bucks" by Troy Dunn. The first two books mentioned helped Colin and I get our personal finances in order and the last two books are geared towards parents teaching their children about finances.

Honestly I didn't think we'd have to start talking about finances with Jackson so soon, but the other day he was asking me if he could purchase a new train for his train set and we began talking about starting an allowance. Without any prompting Jackson brought up the idea of allowance at LEAST three more times within two days.

He's TWO! He'll be three in a little over a month, but I didn't think we'd be talking about allowance until he was at least five or six. I don't want to stifle his interest though and we'll take baby steps now to prevent having to take major leaps later.

So, after lots of thought and discussion here's what Colin and I came up with for our children. (Disclaimer: we have every right to and KNOW that this plan may and most likely WILL change over time as we discover its strengths and weaknesses. Also, the topic of teaching a child good money handling skills is a HUGE topic and I will only be covering a tiny portion of it here. I will most likely blog about this topic more as it occurs in our life as a family.) Here's what we've got so far:

Being apart of a family comes with certain responsibilities and certain privileges. Some of those responsibilities include taking care of the house and faithfully fulfilling ones commitments. These are the day to day responsibilities that come with being a part of a family. Therefore, we feel that those responsibilities should NOT be given a monetary payment such as an allowance. In other words, I expect Jackson to make his bed, brush his teeth and flush the toilet and NOT have to pay him for it. However, there will be future opportunities for Jackson to earn extra money by doing jobs above and beyond his normal responsibility (again ... another future blog). But, we first want to teach him how to manage small amounts of money.

In addition to potentially obvious benefits like being loved, family laughter and fun, sleeping inside, wearing clothes, and eating three meals per day, a weekly monetary allowance given to the children is a significant privilege as well.

Why give an allowance at all?

Giving an allowance allows our children to share in the benefits of the family and teaches lessons about tithing (giving back to the Lord what He has first given to us), developing a heart of giving, money management (spending, saving, giving, how to respond to not having enough money to make a purchase or making poor purchasing decisions, etc.).

What an allowance is NOT:

a payment for services

something that is removed as a discipline: except for very rare cases where:
The disobedience involves the allowance itself
The disobedience involves how the child spends money

something that is stopped because of illness, vacation, etc.

something that is increased due to a busy week in family responsibilities

An Allowance, the details:

We've decided that our children will start getting allowance around age 2 (or whenever they start to show an interest in learning about money handling skills). From age 2 to age 6 they will receive a weekly allowance equivalent to their age (i.e. 2 years old = $2.00 a week). At age six we will no longer increase their allowance, but plan on introducing them to the idea of saving and investing their money (we'll cover that in a different blog as Jackson gets older).

How we expect our children to spend their allowance:

10% - tithe the first 10% to our local Church
90% - spent on whatever the child wants within moral and legal limits

Why are our children forced to tithe the first 10% of their allowance? Shouldn’t tithing be something that springs from a grateful heart and not something forced onto people?

Colin and I discussed this topic quite extensively and came to the same conclusion about tithing as we did about church attendance. We require our children to attend church to create a habit and pray that their hearts will follow suit. So, as parents, one of the goals in providing an allowance is to teach lessons and establish habits. We are working to mature a habit of giving into a grateful heart for giving. We understand that once our children leave our home we will no longer be able to influence how our children choose to give or not give. We want to do all we can now to encourage the activity of giving. Once the activity is established, we can work on the heart-felt attitude for giving. It is hard to establish a heart for giving if one is not regularly giving – thus our requirement.

Why don't we have a requirement for saving?

Teaching our children about money is a lot like eating an elephant, it is best done through a 1,000 small steps – over a long period of time. After all, eating an elephant all at once only makes you sick. When children are young days feel like months and months feels like years. Teaching them how to "save" with a traditional savings account will not teach them the benefits of saving because their tiny attention spans won't wait around to see the fruits of their waiting.

As our children get older we have ideas and aspirations about teaching them how to save and earn interest on their money as they save. I'll blog about this more in the future, but if you are hungry for more, you should check out "First Bank of Dad" by David Owen.

So, Jackson received his first $2.00 of allowance today and he and Colin went to the toy store this afternoon to see how much a Thomas the Train would cost. I fully expected them to come back with a completely different purchase knowing that Thomas was out of his price range. To my surprise Jackson did not buy anything ... except a 50 cent ride on the Mickey Mouse car at the front of the store. I'm anxious to see what my little man will do with this newly acquired privilege and how quickly he'll pick up on the money handling skills we teach him.

Keeping Toddlers in Their Beds

When Jackson switched from a crib to a toddler bed we wanted a way for him to know when it was okay to get out of bed both in the morning and after naps. Our fear was that he'd wake up at 3am and get out of bed on his own thinking it was morning.

So, I did a google search and found a good website written by a pediatrician. I've used his website several times. He had some GREAT advice on potty training (maybe I'll write another blog about that later).

Anyway, in one article he wrote that, as adults, when we wake up in the middle of the night we look at the clock and know that it's not time to wake up yet and go back to sleep. Children obviously can't tell time (mine can't anyway), so he suggested plugging a night light into a timer (you can get them at home improvement stores like Home Depot), so that the night light will turn on and off automatically. Then if the child wakes up in the middle of the night they can see that the night light is on and go back to sleep. Then in the morning, when the night light is off, they know it's time to wake up.

Well, we tried it with Jackson and it works wonders!! We played a little game with the night light on the day we initiated it. When the night light was on he'd jump into bed and when it was off he'd jump out of bed. Now he knows that when the night light is on he needs to at LEAST be getting ready for bed (i.e. brushing teeth, going potty, etc.)or stay in bed unless he asks permission to get out.

His night light also travels with us when we go on trips. I recommend getting a timer that has a built in rechargeable battery, so that you don't have to keep reprogramming it every time you unplug it.

His night light goes off in the morning at around 7:45am. Most of the time he wakes up around 7:15am and as long as he wakes up with a "happy heart" (NOT crying), I'll go into his room and let him look at books until his night light goes off.

It's the same for his nap. The night light goes on at 1:00pm for his nap (which gives us time to go potty and read books before he actually goes to sleep around 1:30pm) and turns off again around 4:30pm (although I'm considering changing it because he's been sleeping until 3:30 on a regular basis now ... I guess I had to give up those 3 hour naps some time right?)

The night light goes on again for bed at 7:30pm (which gives us time for potty, pjs, brushing teeth, Bible stories, prayer, books ... a bedtime routine)and he's alone in his bed by 8:15pm, but doesn't fall asleep until 8:30pm or sometimes even 9pm. BUT he stays in bed thanks to the trusty night light. We used to let him look at books by himself before he fell asleep, but he's now at the age where he'd look at books all night if we'd let him.

We were probably a little too legalistic about the night light in the beginning (he was disciplined a couple of times for getting out of bed with the night light on), but if there's one thing I learned from my mom (who has been a 3rd grade teacher for over a decade) it's that "it's easier to hold the reins too tight and let them loose later on than it is to hold them too loose and rein them in later." We are a little more relaxed about the night light now, but he's also older and understands when he should stay in bed and when it's appropriate to get out.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Making Baby Food

Micah officially started solid food this month. We started out with acorn squash last week and this week I made sweet potatoes and yams.

I did the math and it's WAY cheaper to make my own baby food than it is to buy it. For example, I can get 4 ice cube trays worth of sweet potatoes out of $2.40 worth of sweet potatoes. Which is about 21 servings, bringing my total cost to about 11 cents a serving. Target is selling a two pack of sweet potatoes for 87 cents. That's 44 cents EACH! The stores are charging FOUR TIMES more than what I can make it for. CRAZY! Of course I don't buy organic or anything, but I also have peace of mind knowing that I don't have any extra fillers in the baby food too.

It's pretty easy to make most baby foods. For the sweet potatoes and yams I just peel them, steam them and then puree them in the blender. Then I put them in ice cube trays or these individual serving containers I got from my sister-in-law awhile ago and freeze them. Once they are frozen I can put them in gallon freezer bags to make more room in the freezer.

A little caveat ... there are some foods that are cheaper bought than made. I made applesauce once for Jackson when he was a baby and it turned out to be WAY cheaper to buy a large $2.00 jar of unsweetened applesauce from the store. AND there are some veggies that I haven't gotten the hang of making yet, like peas ... the shells always seem to make the texture a bit hard for a baby to eat. I think I'll give it another try with Micah, but I may end up buying the peas from the store too.

As Jackson got older and started having more and more food (particularly meats) and could handle more textures, I started feeding him a bland version of what we were having for dinner and used a food mill to grind it up (you can find them at Target or Walmart for pretty cheap). I loved the food mill because I could take it with me anywhere and Jackson had a meal.

Anyway, that's all I've got! I'd love to hear of any other ideas or things that other moms have tried concerning baby food.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Library Cooking

I KNOW I just posted a blog with baking in it, but we had so much fun doing this I thought I'd post it anyway.

We LOVE going to the library regularly and every once in awhile we'll get a book that has a recipe at the end. This week we got "Wild Boars Cook" by Meg Rosoff and Illustrated by Sophie Blackall and there's a Massive Cookie recipe at the end, so we decided to make it.

Cooking with Jackson has been a GREAT way to teach him the importance of following instructions and it's just plain FUN!

However, between the cupcakes and the massive cookie I could get myself into some major caloric trouble!!!

Here are a few other books that we've read that have recipes at the end. We didn't make all of the recipes, but I still hope you enjoy the books as much as we did!

6 Months: Napping!!

I've caught myself saying, "I don't remember what we did with Jackson" several times this week, so I guess that means it's time to blog.

Once Micah went down from 3 - 3.5 hour feedings to 4 hour feedings he naturally fell into taking three naps. The first two naps are about two hours each and the last nap can be anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour.

HOWEVER, I was still having a difficult time getting him to sleep all the way through naps without waking up and crying (especially the third nap). I thought maybe he just needed to drop the third nap. OH NOOOO, then he was a BEAR between 6:30 and 7:30 at night and he'd crash HARD for bed. So, it's obvious he still needs that third nap right now, but I couldn't figure out why he wasn't napping well.

So I got out my trusty copy of "On Becoming Babywise Book Two" by Gary Ezzo, M.A. and Robert Bucknam, M.D. In the chapter the addresses questions about pretoddler sleep there's this question: "My baby is sleeping 13 hours at night. Is this a problem?"

My answer: NO! We're lucky our kids sleep through the night! Let them sleep!!!

The book's answer: YES! "The cause [of longer night sleeping] is usually (but not always) tied to poor or nonexistent daytime naps. In response your baby is sleeping longer at night because of fatigue realized during the day. ... The effect ... is the negative impact it has on a nursing mother's milk production."


Micah was sleeping from about 7:45pm to 8:15am (not quite 13 hours, but almost) and I had only started letting him sleep past 7:30am recently and that's right around the same time the nap times became an issue.

SO, I get Micah up now between 7:15 and 7:30am for his first feeding and so far naps have improved. I have been swaddling him and putting him in the swing for his third nap the past couple of days just to get him into the habit of a third nap again, but I plan on transitioning him back to the crib shortly.

Another problem we seem to be having (and maybe it's tied up with the extended nighttime sleep) is having someone else put Micah down to sleep. Colin's been giving Micah a bottle at bedtime once a week (with the exception of when we travel) and this last week he took the bottle just fine BUT when Colin laid him down he SCREAMED! UGH! I was at Bible study so I couldn't come rescue Colin and eventually Micah did go to sleep, but I'm hoping things will get easier.

I try not to cuddle with Micah when I put him down for a nap or for bed so that others can put him down easily. I can't remember Jackson ever having a preference over who put him to bed. However, I definitely put Micah to bed more often because usually Colin puts Jackson to bed and I take Micah.

Anyway, I'm hoping that over time Micah will grow out of this stage and go to sleep without a peep. Here's to hopin'!

P.S. Stranger anxiety has started this month too. Ugh. It may be a bit of an uphill battle.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Colin's Birthday Bash!

The Birthday Cupcakes all lit up!

Jackson was pretty proud of the ones he decorated. He was very careful to keep all of the sprinkles on the cupcake while eating it.
The Birthday Feast: Papa Murphy's Pizza and German Chocolate Cupcakes

Micah was a little tired, but he was there for the celebration too!

Jackson and Colin watching "Transformers" cartoon (Jackson's birthday present to his dad).