Posts in January 2013

Kid #2

My recent blog posts have been pretty down-to-the-core, so why stop there? I hesitate to write this particular post because it admits my feelings and it ruffles feathers that are comfortable where they’re at, thankyouverymuch. So here goes.

We’ve been married half a decade. We have a not-so-baby. People ask us, (well, who knows if they ask Steven. That seems weird.) and quite regularly, “When are you having another baby?” I know it’s not meant for bad, and most people are truly interested, but it’s a strange question. Isn’t that kind of personal business? I guess there’s a slight difference between “ARE you having another baby” versus “WHEN are you,” but it’s really the same question.

So, are we?

I have trouble answering this question myself. People get thrown off when we answer, truthfully, that Wes may be it. We have loved getting to know our son, grow as a family and learn about each other in ways we didn’t think possible. He wasn’t colicky, he wasn’t too difficult to care for as an infant, and the birth of him was ridiculously simple. I know for a fact that Wes was not an “accident,” even if he entered our lives in a surprising way. God knew my paranoias of pregnancy, birthing, parenting and everything else I was too scared to face and provided the perfect balanced child for me and Steven.

If you asked me the above question even just 6 months ago, I would have flat out answered, NO. (And if you ask Steven today, he would tell you a firm denial.)

But. These dang hormones are working their magic within me. It doesn’t help that many of my friends have had or are soon to have babies, so I am around little tiny people a lot these days. I used to cringe hearing pregnancy rants and stories about motherhood. Now I welcome it. Wesley has allowed my heart to morph and soften and grow to love things Past Leah certainly wouldn’t approve of.

Perhaps it’s because I’ve witnessed mourning of all kinds and have wept with those who are aching for healthy children. Perhaps it’s because I’ve held fresh, new babies and have rejoiced with parents. Maybe it’s because I’ve seen how Wes lights up around littler people than him. Whatever the reason, I won’t deny any longer that I think about another child for our family. And sometimes those thoughts involve adoption.

We know that family “building” is sort of out of our control. It’s a higher decision than ours. And since we’re not quite on the same wavelength, I know that it’s not the right time to talk about next steps. But thinking (and dreaming) are free and never have time limits!

So to answer your question: Maybe?

Posted: January 25th, 2013
Categories: Leah
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Comments: 2 Comments.

First Steps and Physical Therapy

-1I haven’t talked much about our experience with First Steps, and enough people have been curious to know more that I thought I’d address a few questions and hopefully help any parent remotely concerned with developmental delay.

What is First Steps?

It’s a statewide organization for children three and under who need a little assistance meeting certain milestones. They call it “early intervention.” This can be verbal, physical or occupational therapy, and it can range all over the map. For instance, my nephew has spina bifida and has PT sessions once a week to help build muscle mass in his legs and back, and I know some kids that have had speech therapy because of a lisp or hearing issue.

Why do you use First Steps? (Is anything wrong with Wes?)

There is nothing “wrong” with Wes. Because he is cautious by nature, he needs a lot of encouragement to repeat behavior and learn new skills – specifically gross motor skills (walking, climbing, running, etc). He is slightly delayed in comparison to other kids his age in these areas, but it is not uncommon, and he is catching up quickly. His fine motor and verbal skills are perfect.

What made you concerned enough to have Wes evaluated?

The fact he wasn’t rolling over by the age of 9 months. He was nearly 10 months old before he finally rolled over consistently. He had always preferred to be on his back and hated tummy time from an early start. Nothing could calm him. He didn’t move or roll to his side at night and started getting a flat spot on the back of his head. Everyone told me that boys were slower than girls, and that “his time would come when he was ready,” but I kept waiting and waiting for him to show more interest in toys just out of his reach and hold his balance just a little better. I made the call because my gut had been screaming at me long enough.

What was the evaluation process?

Once I made the initial call, we had a brief phone interview to address concerns. From there, we had a home visit and that led into paperwork, representative assignments and additional meetings. It sounds like a lot of preregistration efforts, and it did take about a month to start therapy sessions from my initial call, but their process is streamlined to cater to each child’s needs.

What do you do in therapy sessions?

Wesley’s case is mild and we only have sessions twice a month. It’s basically just an hour of playtime with games and toys that target particular muscle patterns and movements. He’ll need to step around a barrier or walk across the room to retrieve an enticing toy. What I like best are the suggestions given to us on what we can do to help encourage repeated behavior and movements.

How long will you continue and have you seen any progress?

Yes, I do believe his sessions have helped strengthen his muscle tone and confidence. It’s true that he would have likely learned to walk on his own eventually, but for my peace of mind, I am glad that he has been guided to learn properly and not develop bad habits or compensate. I imagine he will remain in First Steps for a few more months as he continues to improve his balance, but I’m pleased to say that we have already met all of our original goals!

Why are you sharing this information?

I’m a new mom. I know what it feels like to judge your kid against other kids who seem smarter or quicker to learn. I know what it feels like to worry about every milestone. Most importantly, I understand how other parents try to assure you or offer advice, and you just can’t shake this feeling that something is off. Mothers have this weird, innate sense, but sometimes they don’t listen to themselves; they listen to others who, yes, might have experience, but every child is different. If anyone reading this has the slightest feeling that a child is having some difficulty, I encourage you to call First Steps. Just talk about your concerns and they’ll take it from there.

Peace of mind does wonders to improve your confidence as a parent. I know that I’m helping prevent any complications down the road. And it allows me to be a positive cheerleader for my son.

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The following are some quick resources. It’s pretty easy to find your area’s local First Steps organization. Even if you live outside the state of Indiana, chances are your state also has a similar program.

Indiana First Steps – www.in.gov/fssa/ddrs/4655.htm

Central Indiana First Steps – cibaby.com

Posted: January 20th, 2013
Categories: Leah
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Comments: 1 Comment.

The Post About Stay-At-Home Motherhood

Typically Steven stays home with Wes on Fridays, but this week was my turn to work four 10-hour days and spend today with the little guy. I gotta tell ya, it’s an adjustment to say the least. Granted, we’re early risers and really didn’t have to get up outside of the norm, but the whole “getting the entire household ready and out the door by 7” thing is tough. I definitely wore my Supermom cape this week and have been beaming with pride with my accomplishments.

Photo 3So today. The original plan was to wake up late, ease into the morning and visit my sister and the kids. My niece and nephew came down with a stomach bug, so I thought it would be fun to take Wes to the Children’s Museum instead. However, his 4 a.m. wake up-and-scream fest lasted nearly 2 hours (another blog post some day on night terrors), and I decided instead to make it a productive at-home day.

Based on how productive I was, and how great I feel at 9 p.m., I’ve come to the conclusion that staying at home full time might not be as terrible as I’ve imagined. Now, if you know me at all, it’s no secret that I love my job and would tell anyone that I prefer to be a working mother. But I’ve convinced myself that I would pull my hair out and drive myself crazy if I didn’t have an office position, deadlines and social outlet. Oh, the agony of it! Sure, I’d get to spend oodles of time with my only son and witness his milestones and accomplishments, but somehow my sanity has always seemed more important. Selfish sounding? I agree. We’ll get back to this thought later.

By 10:30 this morning, I had already: washed the sheets and started another load of laundry, handwashed the several-day-old pots and pans that were becoming a major eyesore, swept (vacuumed?) all the floors AND dusted our room. Whew. I was on a roll. Partly because Wes didn’t end up taking his nap like I thought he would, so I had some alone time while he talked to himself in his room.

We ate a leisurely lunch together, which never happens. We laughed and made funny faces at each other. Throwing on less grimy clothes, we left to fill up the gas tank – where I got hit on! (mind you, without showering or makeup) – and stocked up on necessities and not-so-necessities at Target. By the time we got home at 1:30, Wes was ready for his nap, so I finished several items off my list. Including my newly organized pantry:

Photo 1

It’s too bad I got the Ellen schedule all messed up, but I did get to see the last 15 minutes of Nicole Kidman giving her best impression of a kookaburra.

If you notice on my check list above, it says at the bottom, “remove poop.” Remember Jake, the Italian Greyhound who doesn’t like wind, rain or temperatures below 72 degrees? He certainly was having a fit during Blizzard 2012 and decided to do his business as close to the door as possible. Now that all the snow has melted away, our patio looks DISGUSTING. I think I deserve some sort of reward for scooping up multiple days worth of slushy, loose dog excrement.

Wesley woke up shortly after. The warmth of today was absolutely lovely, and we spent a long time enjoying it. He was beside himself.

In fact, the only way I could bribe him to go back inside was Baby Signing Time. These videos are slightly annoying, yes, but SO much better than other signing programs out there. Thumbs up. He smiles throughout the entire 25 minutes, and lately he’s been attempting multiple signs he hasn’t before. I caught him signing “day.”

Photo 4

Even after all that play time, I still had time to throw chicken in the oven, snap green beans and tidy the house before Steven got home. Alright, so Wes was on my hip for much of this time period. But he’s at the age where if he sees/participates in the preparation of dinner, he’s more apt to eat it. (He didn’t, however.)

Whatever was left on my list won’t take long as tomorrow’s chores.

It was a great day. I love my guy, and he’s thrilled when I’m home with him. There’s so much teasing, playing, laughter and all those wonderful things you associate with parenting on days like today. I know it was just one day. There are bad days, and they happen fairly frequently. But for today, I can resolve that I could be a SAHM. As long as I have a schedule to accomplish and realize I may not get everything done, I could do it. And throw in a few do-nothing days.

I’m trying to be less selfish and more accommodating for my family. Steven makes many sacrifices and works around the clock to provide for us. I sometimes feel like I skip off to my dream job, enjoy the day and the people and complain if I have a sick child. Reality check: I may have to be mom-at-home one day. I’m starting to get used to the idea, and it doesn’t make me quite so angry anymore.

Posted: January 11th, 2013
Categories: Leah
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Comments: 4 Comments.

Note to Self: On Discipline

1.47.27I’ve never really been much of a kid person. I do like kids, but I’m usually awkward around them. I rarely babysat, and I was usually the youngest or surrounded by other kids my age growing up, so I didn’t get much experience. No secret that I didn’t want to be a teacher or lead Sunday school at church. But now that I have a kid of my own, this “new mom” thing is changing into mom-of-a-toddler, and I feel like I’m so unorganized in my thoughts on how to raise one. Yes, most of my friends and people we are around have families with 2 or more kids, so I know there are plenty of helpers out there with loads of advice. This doesn’t quite ease my concern of entering the dreaded “Terrible Twos” or worst yet, the “Terrifying Threes,” however.

Wes is usually a great kid. He’s happy when we’re at home, especially in the morning, and can give our undivided attention. He naps well, he sleeps through the night. He’s eating much better (less throwing of food) and even starting to explore utensils. But we’re starting to see glimpses of near-future tantrums, and I’m already sick and tired of his constant whining and tears. He loves to say “no” back to us, and he grins and giggles when I try to steer him away from danger or stop misbehavior.

He’s not quite 18 months old yet, and I believe he’s much too young to discipline by way of time outs or the like. Yet, I have been pouring over books on what-to-do-when’s for some things to keep in my back pocket. And truly, there are quite a few things I can do in the interim.

  1. Determine if he’s in “Changeling Mode”* or getting sick. It might help make me less upset about said behavior.
  2. When the kid is grounded, I am grounded, too. I should stay close when Wes is in time out to make sure he a) doesn’t sneak away and 2) is assured he isn’t abandoned completely. “You will never be effective disciplining your child if you don’t stop what you’re doing and give the discipline your undivided attention.” So, whether I’m outside the door or sitting directly beside him, I need to put aside time to attend him.
  3. Like the above, when tantrums happen, it’s likely because he’s upset or frustrated and loses control, unable to get a grip (maybe like my mood swings when I was pregnant?!). It’s important for him to realize that I’m his source of security and comfort because, frankly, losing control can be scary. I should remove him from the tantrum location to a private area, and ride it out with him. Hold him close (if he wants) and be silent or gently speak. Then we can resume whatever we were doing when he’s settled.
  4. Let him know that I understand and see that he is upset. Most importantly, let him know that it’s okay to feel whatever he does, and normal, but that we can’t act out on our anger or frustration.
  5. Avoid situations and places that he simply can’t handle. Long days, visits and outings just may have to come another time.
  6. Forget “Mommyspeak.” I think talking to him in the third person is just confusing.
  7. I shouldn’t feel guilty for his misbehavior or guilty for denying him something he wants. Why should I feel bad for trying to be a good parent?
  8. ENCOURAGE him! We already do this because it’s truly the only way to get Wes to repeat good behavior. But I want to remind myself that this is also to show him that we respect and admire him.

In several months, I will probably start implementing the 1-2-3 Magic principles. My fear is that I will need to be more firm that I am comfortable with because he is quite good at testing his boundaries. Sweet, innocent Wesley has a firey, ornery spirit, but he does love encouragement and recognition.

Hebrews 12:11 says, “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” Ugghhh, I know this is true, but I’m so easily affected by what others feel from my actions, that I will have to really remind myself of this. After all, I’m not the first parent to ever live, right? You all have made it, so surely I can, too.

*Changeling is an affectionate term used to describe a toddler who is always learning something new. They’re not quite children, but they’re certainly not babies and the world is just frustrating to them. The Wonder Weeks refers to these times as phases.

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Curious to know what books I’m reading? I asked my social media friends, and here’s a list thus far:

1-2-3 Magic by Thomas Phelan (I’m reading the “for Christian Parents” edition)
1, 2, 3… the Toddler Years by Irene Van der Zande
The Girlfriends’ Guide to Toddlers by Vicki Iovine
Parenting with Love & Logic by Foster Cline and Jim Fay

Posted: January 6th, 2013
Categories: Leah
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