Friday, October 30, 2009

Encouragment to the Parents of 3 year olds

I was watching Supernanny the other day, and JoJo said something to the mom in distress that encouraged me. This mom had two sets of twins who had not been disciplined consistently. After a rather lengthy discipline session with one of her boys, the mom was in tears wondering if this kid was ever going to learn to respect and obey her, and ultimately begin to make better choices. This is the jist of what Jo said..."You can gain the obedience and respect of your children because you are a mom who wants to do right by her kids and are thus worthy of respect. But you have to step up and do the work."
As kids grow, they pass through many phases. Schroeder is in the height of cuteness. He's sleeping through the night. He's smiling and he has this dimple that just melts you. D'arcy is in a mature 5 year old stage. She is sweet, responsible, independent, and teachable. I feel like we are reaping the benefits of all of our hard parenting work.
And then there is Julian. Our quiet, thumb sucking, layed back toddler, has officially morphed into a talkative, rambunctious, three year old! I'm not inclined to use the term "terrible-twos". Growing up is hard, and two year olds are just trying to deal with it. It feels mean to label them as terrible. But now I know that, in fact, the term "terrible-twos" is just downright incorrect. Someone told me, "Whoever created that term hadn't met a three year old."
All of this is to say, that, although wonderful, three year olds require parents who wake up ready to do the work. It helps to remember, though, that Julian was once at the height of cuteness and will eventually be a mature 5 year old.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Is the Pacifier the culprit?

Schroeder went to his six month checkup a little over a week ago, and my concerns were verified. He hadn't gained any weight since his four month checkup. He had gotten taller, but not chunkier. I had been concerned that he wasn't getting enough during what seemed to be our increasingly shorter nursing sessions. It wouldn't flow fast enough for him and he would, like a normal six month old, get distracted.

I've nursed both D'arcy and Julian to the age of one. One was my goal, and remains my goal with Schroeder. I breastfeed primarily because it's inexpensive and low maintenance. I see these mommies with their well prepared diaper bags full of snacks and bottles filled with water. That looks like it takes a lot of organization! I on the other hand leave the house with a thin, black nursing cover thrown into my purse and a burp cloth in the car seat. If either two don't make it somehow, I improvise. I also know that breastfeeding can alleviate digestive problems such as constipation commonly associated with formula fed babies. They say breastfeeding helps keep babies from getting sick with common colds and such. That seems to be true for my kiddos. They've all been relatively healthy. Schroeder has only had two days of fever in the last six months. But, of course, one can never be certain that my babies wouldn't have been just as healthy formula fed. And certainly, I breastfeed for the bonding experience it presents. By a year, I've been ready to reclaim my body and space, though.

I've never had a problem with production. From day one, I'm pretty strict about my babies only eating every three hours unless it seems to be a "growth spurt" day. On those days, I let the baby eat on demand. I've never really quantified how much I'm producing, but just been satisfied to see that my babies have grown at a steady pace, seem satisfied, and are continually using diapers.

So finding out that Schroeder was not keeping pace in the weight department made me do a little research. Why was my production not keeping up, and what could I do to jump start it? I thought the answer would be in my diet. I thought maybe I wasn't eating enough dairy, or maybe not drinking enough milk. I've been on Weight Watchers, but they have a Nursing Moms program that I even used after D'arcy's birth. And besides, I've only lost about eleven pounds in the last six months.

I went to the La Leche League's website looking for suggestions, and was surprised to discover that nothing was mentioned on the page entitled "How do I Increase my Milk Supply" about the mother's eating habits. Instead, all the suggestions centered around the baby nursing more regularly. And they mentioned that pacifier use may hinder the baby from prompting more frequent nursing sessions. In fact, the La Leche League's website suggests that pacifier use correlates to earlier weaning.

Our other two kids didn't use a pacifier past the first two months, but we have encouraged it with Schroeder as a way to prevent thumb sucking. It seemed like something we could take away at nine months or a year. We haven't found a way to detach Julian's thumb, yet. He loves his pacifier, knows how to pass it back and forth between hands, and will speed across a room to retrieve it. But no doubt, he was spending too much time sucking on that thing and not enough time nursing in order to build up milk production.

So, we've temporarily taken the pacifier away from Schroeder during the day. Well, maybe it will be a permanent switch. And I'm nursing him on command, and whenever he just needs an opportunity to sooth himself. We are supplementing with eight ounces of formula during the day, as well. I'll keep you posted.

I'm still not anti-pacifier. I think they serve a purpose for a short time, but I'm learning you must use them with care so that they don't mask other needs that the baby might be experiencing.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Tips for Tuesdays: Herbal remedies

Herbal supplements are not my expertise, but, through experience, I have found a few that have helped me during pregnancy. Maybe you could benefit from my experience.

Yellow Dock: I was anemic during my first pregnancy. You need more iron when your pregnant so anemia is common. When I was in my third trimester, my OB put me on an iron pill. Iron pills aren't great on your digestive system, and I hated taking them. When I became pregnant with Julian, my pastor, Clara, suggested I take Yellow Dock to help with my iron absorption. My midwife approved and encouraged me to eat lots of high iron food like spinach. Between the herb and topping baked potatoes and pizza with spinach, I never became anemic. Yellow dock promotes regularity, as well, and does wonders for you hair and nails. What a difference from those horrible iron pills!

Evening of Primrose: I've been overdue with three babies. With each one, I'm doing everything I know to get labor going. With Schroeder, my midwife suggested I use Evening of Primrose orally and internally to help ripen my cervix. I only took them after 39 weeks. One never knows whether you would have gone into labor anyway, but lets just say, Schroeder was born after a very short hour long labor! I'm confident this stuff did something.

Of course, talk to your doctor before taking these herbs. Keep in mind, though, that many doctors are not well versed in this kind of information so you may want to locate a doula or midwife who rely on herbs more regularly.

I would love to hear any of your herbal remedies!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Julian is 3!

The twos were definitely not terrible for this little guy. Ok, he's energetic, aggressive at moments, and he definitely learned to talk back, but he has remained teachable and sweet. In the past year he has transformed from a baby boy into a full fledge boy (He has the chipped front tooth to prove it). He is potty trained, is working on getting rid of his thumb sucking habit, and is now a big brother! We are in full force teaching him all things preschool from his numbers and letters to riding his training bike to writing with his LEFT hand.

On the day he turns three, Julian likes Kung Fu Panda, hitting a baseball, "patting" his baby brother, being power bombed by his manly friends at church, running "FAST!", singing songs like "Blessed Be the Name of the Lord", "I'm Different, Different", "Come let us adore him", and "I like to move it, move it". He also likes going to the theatre and the library, playing with his playgroup buddies, his stuffed animals "firefox", Woody, and Cookie Monster, Thomas the train, cuddling with his mommy, Flintstones vitamins, blueberry applesauce, running around without any pants, reading books with his big sister, his Daddy, puzzles, popsicles, and all his family that lives so far away in Indiana.

Here are a few pictures to commemorate his big day.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Tips for Tuesdays: Eating Expectations

A couple of weeks ago, I recommended the Six O'Clock Scramble as a means to get good food on the table in a reasonable amount of time and for a reasonable amount of money, but how do you get the food from the table into the kids mouths? Just like anything else in their life, you set expectations and you enforce them.

This is our expectation: on a normal night, kids eat some of everything being served. We give them a reasonable portion. They don't have to eat everything on their plate, but they need to eat most of it. One bite in an attempt to try something is not alright. They also don't get away with eating all of one item and none of the other and then declaring they are full. They have to eat items in proportionate amounts. They also need to be thankful for the food. If I took time to cook it, I don't want to hear "ewww".

Why do we have these expectations? I heard somewhere that kids are most likely to turn into healthy adults without weight problems if they learn to eat a wide variety of foods. This made sense to me. No, not forced to eat, but taught to eat a wide variety. The term "picky eater" isn't used in my house. Yes, some kids need more "teaching" than others, but I think anybody can learn to like and maybe even love lots of foods.

Learning to eat a variety of food is all about frequent exposure. If you only have to take a bite of something to determine if you like it or not, the flavor is new and you tend to focus on what is unpleasant about it. However, if you have to get through a whole side of something, you begin to get used to the flavor and you focus on what you like about the food. Some flavors or textures you will never "love". They might never be your favorite, but you can begin to tolerate and even enjoy them after time.

I hated spaghetti as a kid. I remember spitting my noodles out into my napkin. Then I met and married Stephen who is happy to make spaghetti for the family every week. A wife doesn't turn down a night off of cooking every week. So I eat spaghetti. I still don't love it, but I eat it and on a good day I like it. It nourishes me, and the kids, who inherited their daddy's spaghetti gene, love it.

As a parent, I come to the table prepared to parent. Teaching my kids to eat well is one of the most important things I'll do. I make my job easier by minimizing the kids snacks so they actually come to the table hungry. Again, we give them reasonable portions. It's always easier to give them less and have them ask for seconds than to force them to eat food when their full. Also, if I'm having a hard day, I'll pick a meal that the kids will eat with less instruction.

The instruction looks just like it would for any other discipline. Verbal instruction and then corner time if there is disobedience. Stephen and I were talking the other day and discovered that most of the instruction we give to our kids at the dinner table is about focus not food. We give almost as much instruction when we're at Burger King as we do at home.

What's the reward for the work you do at the table? The reward comes when Julian comes in and says, "MMMMMMmmmmmm...are we having beans and rice for dinner? I love beans and rice." or when D'arcy asks me, "Mom, why haven't you made tortellini or homemade chicken noodle soup lately?" These moments make me feel loved and appreciated and good at my job.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Schroeder's Official Six Month Photos


I was supposed to be taking pictures of Schroeder to capture him at six months. Then spiderman cam in and gave me permission to take some of him.