Monday, March 10

Loving the People of Walmart

I'm a wife. I'm a mom. I'm a woman. I'm a friend and daughter and granddaughter and sister and aunt. I'm a church member, a choir singer, a youth worker. I'm a neighbor, a homeowner, an employee. And I'm a me; an individual who is influenced, motivated, and shaped by all those roles I just mentioned but also separate from them in many ways. I don't think they are supposed to fully define who I am. I think who I am should define how I approach each of those relationships and functions. 

What defines me is my relationship with Jesus. Yes, this is another one of those spiritual posts, but it's something that's been on my mind lately. It's so easy to get lost in or consumed by any and all of those roles I play. It's easy and perfectly understandable to see how a mom can become nothing more than a mom. Children are all-consuming, self-centered, soul-sucking little creatures that require so much, but you love them with a sacrificial, unconditional, proud love that seems to come naturally. Or being a homeowner, that can easily become the definition of me... the constant housework, chores, and maintenance that need to be performed, not to mention the desire to decorate, remodel, replace, and improve, all of which create a never-ending to-do list. Or church member; I go to church three times a week, serve in different ministries, and participate in church events. It's easy to start to think those are enough, to think that I've done my job if all of the different hats I wear are juggled just right and worn long enough to make everyone happy and meet everyone's needs. 

But that generally never works out because it's very difficult to give 100% of yourself to 15 different things, to make everyone happy, and complete every job or task perfectly all the time. There's a reason that the cliche "There are never enough hours in the day" exists. It's because there is too much to do and not enough time or willpower to do it. And lately (mostly due to a sermon my brother-in-law recently preached), I've been realizing that I'm sort of standing behind all these roles and responsibilities and using them as monuments, as my trophies that I hold up to God to say, "Look, I'm doing enough. I'm taking care of all these things. I couldn't possibly add anything else. Maybe when this season in life ends I'll have more time to serve others and share your love with people outside my immediate circle of acquaintance." 

I stand behind the monument of motherhood and being a wife and homeowner and think, "How could I serve one other person? I have a house to keep in order (or at least, you know, the couple of rooms that are accessible to visitors). I have a family to feed and plan for. I have two children under the age of three. Surely, that is enough." And I hear this little thought in my mind that says, "Shelby, Shelby, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary" (an adaptation from Luke 10:38-42). That one necessary thing? I think it's just loving my Savior. I think God is trying to show me that I'm putting the cart before the horse, that I'm working and serving and letting my roles define me, then feeling like there is nothing left to give so I settle for just enough and offer that up to Him to try to justify that I'm worthy and that I'm doing what He's called me to do. But all that He really ever asked me to do is to love Him, to realize the depths of what He has done in my heart and my life, to recognize where I would be without Him and to allow that love and gratitude and joy to fill me up and flow out of me to my family, to my friends, to my job, to my fellow church members, to my neighbors, to the people of Walmart.

Maybe right now I can't pick up and run off to some third-world country to share the gospel (though there are days that it is very tempting). But what I'm finally figuring out is that if I truly understand the gospel and allow it take hold of my heart, then there are opportunities every day to show the love of Christ (the gospel) to the world around me. And I can start with my family. I can start with my neighbors. I can start at Walmart.

That elderly man parked in his powered grocery cart right in front of the freezer section I need to access. Instead of hating him because he's an obstacle to my path, I can love him by asking how I can help him. That mom with her screaming children getting groceries at 9:30 at night. I can hate her by being critical and thinking her poor children should be at home asleep, or I can love her by having compassion and realizing that this may be the only time she is able to get groceries because she may not have anyone to help her at home, and offer her a kind, encouraging word as I pass. The employee who drops some items he's restocking. I can hate him by walking past and going about my own business, or I can love him by forgetting myself for a second and helping him pick up the packages. The cashier who decides to tell me her life story while the line is backing up. I can hate her by not listening, by not caring, by mentally putting her in some predetermined category of people (me-monsters), by worrying more about the people in line behind me than about the words this woman wants to share, or I can love her by showing empathy and not judging, by asking her name and telling her I will pray for her (and then actually praying for her), by maybe doing something within my means to practically meet a need for her.

I'm learning these things are important because anyone can be kind and considerate, but if I name Jesus as my Savior, then my life should definitely be marked by kindness, compassion, consideration, love, and self-forgetfulness. My sister-in-law who has only been a believer for a couple of years showed me at dinner last week what it looks like to treasure Christ and show him to others. Our waitress was rude and short with us before we had even said a word. She was clearly not interested in doing her job with excellence, and I was irritated before she had finished taking our drink orders. I gave a knowing (read: critical/judgmental) glance at my sister-in-law who just smiled, and when it was her turn to order, totally surprised me by stopping the ordering process and saying to the waitress: "How are you doing tonight? You seem like you're having a rough evening." What?!? That was not what I expected from my bold, sometimes sharp-tongued friend. And it humbled me to the core. I hadn't even thought about this girl and her situation. I hadn't taken one second to consider that she was having an awful night. I thought she had a job to do, and she should be doing it without projecting her anger from a previous situation onto us. So instead of loving her, I hated her. But Lee's simple gesture of kindness and thoughtfulness, asking her name and if there was anything we could pray about for her when we prayed for our meal... it softened that waitress. I hope it showed her there is kindness and love in this world. I hope it gave her hope, and most of all, I hope eventually God uses that encounter in some way to draw her heart to Him. But one thing I know for certain is that it gripped me and showed me I live too much for myself, for my own desires, needs, expectations, wants. 

That one small interaction has opened my heart to see just how much of a mission field there really is all around me if I can get outside of ME and all those monuments I've put up. And I'm starting at Walmart.

Tuesday, March 4

Roman - Nine Months

I realize these are not very good pictures (in the technical sense). 
They are four of about 60 that I had to take this time to try to get just ONE decent monthly picture. 
He's a busy guy these days.
Roman turned nine months old back in February. I find that I'm getting excited about the first year coming to a close in just a few months because it means no more monthly updates, which means I will no longer feel guilty for posting monthly updates three weeks late. If we have a third child, his or her monthly updates will probably all just be in one big post at the end of the first year.

But I still find them valuable, even if they are a little laborious and take up my precious Downton Abbey watching, World War Z reading, nap, um, Bible study time. So I press on... three more months.

At his checkup, Roman was only about 18 pounds and 28 inches long (I think, or it may have only been 27 inches... I forgot to write it down). That was a little surprising to me because he seems heavier than that. Brock was 20 pounds by 9 months, and Roman eats a lot more than Brock ever did, but he's much more active than Brock was too. He's healthy so that's really all I'm worried about.

Anyway, these are some of the things he was doing between the eighth and ninth month:

  • He started becoming very impatient when he wanted something, and he learned how to throw real tantrums, particularly for food. You can't put him in the highchair unless the food is right there ready to go on the tray. Well, you can, but you'll have to listen to him scream and cry like someone is torturing him if you make him wait five seconds. Seriously, you see me right here opening up your jar of peas and getting a spoon; you know it's coming; why are you freaking out? Such an inefficient use of your energies, my sweet son.
  • He dropped down to two consistent naps this month, each one about an hour and a half long. He was taking the first one around 9:30 or 10:00 and the second one around 1:30 or 2:00. He's gotten very predictable with his daytime sleep now, so that's nice.
  • He started sleeping pretty consistently from about 7:45 at night to 6:30 or 7:00 in the morning. Usually if he wakes any earlier than 6:30, he just eats and then goes back to sleep for another hour or two. There were a couple weeks this month when he would wake up around 3:30 or 4:00 every night, and at first I would go in to feed him, but then I realized that it was most likely just teething not hunger, so Blaine took over the comforting for a couple nights in a row, and then he quit waking up after that (apparently it's not worth waking up in the middle of the night if it's just for Dad).  
  • He finally dropped the dreamfeed this month. Yaay. He just wouldn't wake up enough when I would go to feed him for it, only nursing for maybe two minutes or not at all, so I knew it was the end. He kept it a lot longer than Brock, so I was glad to see it go.
  • He also moved to a four hour eating schedule this month. Another yaay. He just wouldn't be interested in food before that four hour mark (sometimes 3.5 hours), and he was able to stay awake longer (about 2 hours) before naps, so it was an easy transition.
  • He's crawling all over the place now and is no longer content to sit still (note the picture at the top). Gone are the days of the peaceful, observant baby. He wants to participate in everything now. And like his brother, he doesn't have a normal crawl either. He tucks one leg underneath himself and only crawls on one knee while scooting on the other leg. It gets him where he wants to go though, so whatever works.
  • He figured out how to move from sitting to laying down, and he can sit himself up really well now. He was trying to pull up from sitting to standing around the middle of the month, and by the end of month, he could pull himself up in his crib or on anything else that was pretty sturdy and could bear his weight. Sitting back down was a different story. Just like every other irrational development, he had some kind of physical compulsion to stand up when we would lay him down for naps. As soon as his back hit the crib, he would flip over, crawl to the rails, lift himself up, laugh and smile and talk for approximately 30 seconds, then begin screaming like someone had just put him on the world's scariest roller coaster until one of us went to lay him back down. Ok, maybe that wouldn't be so bad if he did it once each time then went to sleep, but we had to go through this cycle about 15 times for each nap for about a week and a half. Lay him down, watch him flip and crawl and smile, walk out the door, wait outside door 30 seconds, 3...2...1... SCREAM, go back in, lay him down... lather, rinse, repeat. Babies. Are. Ridiculous.
  • Moving on. He definitely knows his name now. He especially likes it when his name is followed by the word, "No." Not that he responds correctly to that word. He smiles or even laughs when he's told not to do something, which is actually really cute and funny, but he can never know that we think that because it quickly becomes not cute and not funny, so we can't positively reinforce it now. (There's a lot of smiling behind our hands or with our faces turned).
  • He said his first word this month: Bye bye. It's also the first (and only) sign language sign he learned because he started waving bye bye too.
  • For my future reference, he still spits up occasionally, but it is much less frequent now.
  • Finally, he started showing some of the normal separation anxiety stuff this month, but it has not been nearly as bad as Brock's. It was interesting because I got one of those BabyCenter emails that said, "You're baby may start showing signs of separation anxiety soon" and then the next day he didn't want anyone other than Blaine or me to hold him. He would act more wary of strangers and even family members, and he would have to examine people for a few minutes before he was willing to go to them. But by the end of the month, it wasn't affecting him much at all unless he was in a bad mood or tired. This was much different from Brock, who still gets anxious when we drop him off at church if it's not with his normal teachers or in his normal room. I guess Roman will be a lot more flexible and extroverted than Brock.
Now, on to the pictures:

Brock wanted to have his "monthly picture" made too, and he wanted to act like Roman while I was taking the pictures, so that first one is him trying (pretty successfully) to dive off of the front of the chair. The bottom two show how both of our boys love their little blankies. This is how they self-soothe (Brock, with the covert thumb-sucking, and Roman, with the heavy metal rock band fingers).

(I couldn't get a smile out of him because he was mad at me that I wouldn't let him climb all over the chair and fling himself into the floor)

Tuesday, January 21

Roman - Eight Months

The babe is now eight months old. We are two-thirds of the way through the first year. That's a little crazy to my mind.

Anyway, the past few months (from about the 4th or 5th month) are my favorite stage of the first year. Their little personalities start blooming, and they're so curious and happy and friendly. You start to figure out some of their preferences (sleeping with socks, using a blankie to self-soothe, etc.), and they seem to go through this really easy period where they're content to sit and watch all the action, and everything is just peaceful for a little while. That's going to end this month (I'm not a fortune-teller... We're just already a week and a half into the ninth month as I write this, and the peacefulness has ended, but more on that in his nine-month post), but it was really nice while it lasted.

No doctor appointment until his nine-month checkup, but these are some of the things he was doing between the seventh and eighth months:

  • He's starting to try to crawl. He will lean forward from a sitting position, almost to a crawling position but still hesitates and won't go all the way. He inches and scoots around, and he could get up on his hands and knees by the end of the month. A couple of times when I would go to get him out of his crib, he would hear the door open and just pop right up on all fours, then rock himself back and forth like he thought that would get him somewhere. This is a new experience for me because Brock never crawled on his knees. He always did the army crawl where his legs just kind of dangled behind him, and he looked slightly like a paraplegic who had fallen out of his wheelchair. So to see Roman figuring out how to move into that "normal" crawling stance has been fun.
  • His second tooth finally came in about mid-month. It took forever and was stupidly disruptive and apparently caused him all sorts of anguish. (Refer to his seven month post for my unsympathetic complaining about how, to my children, teething seems worse than dying a slow, painful death). So he has both of the bottom front teeth, which means no more using our fingers as teethers. It also means there have occasionally been a few incredibly painful nursing moments, which nearly resulted in me punching him in the face (not really, but maybe). I think he's learned not to do it anymore now though, and I've learned to pay close attention to any signs that he's finished eating.
  • On the subject of eating, he's experienced a lot more finger foods this month. I can't remember everything we've introduced, but some of his favorites are avocado, blueberries, graham crackers... eh, I'm sure no one is really interested in this list. He does love to eat though. Blaine gave him a whole avocado one night, then just kept feeding him random stuff because "Hey, if he wants to keep eating, why not keep feeding him?" Then we figured out that's probably not the best philosophy after he threw up half-digested avocado and other randomness all over me, his freshly bathed and pajama-ed self, and his bedroom rug right before I put him to bed.
  • He started waving at the beginning of month. Mostly it's just random, but occasionally he'll do it in response to our waving bye-bye to him. It is definitely his sign for "more" though when he's eating. If you don't get him his food fast enough, he starts opening and closing his fists frantically like, "more, more, MORE!" I was trying to teach him the sign language sign for the word "more" (it's basically the only one I know, other than "please" and "poop"), and Blaine said, "I think he already has his own sign." 
  • He learned how to dance this month. We're not doing the waltz or the quick-step by any means, but he will bounce his little body up and down when he hears music. It reminded me of Brock's dancing back in this little video post.
  • He is starting to occasionally respond to his name when we call it, but that's not very consistent, and it could just be a response to the sound of our voice, so... not sure about that one yet.
  • He sits up great now and can move from sitting to lying down on his stomach without just falling over. I like being able to plop him down on the floor with a bunch of toys and let him go to town without worrying about whether he's going to just topple over and bust his head.
  • He finally quit waking in the middle of the night after that second tooth came in, so I'm pretty sure that was what messed him up last month. By the end of the month, he was back to sleeping from about 7:30pm - 6:30am again (with the dreamfeed at 10:30 still; he hasn't given it up yet, boo).
  • He's gotten really consistent with his naps. His awake time has extended to about 2-2.5 hours between naps (a little more like 3 or 4 hours in the evening before bed), and he sleeps from about 9:45-11:00ish and then 1:30-3:00ish every day (give or take 30 minutes). I love when they get to this consistent schedule because it makes things a lot easier. I especially love that his and Brock's afternoon naps line up at about the same time every day, so I can get my own little free time after I get off work.
  • And last, as can be seen in one of the sets of pictures below, this kid is very active. There is no more leaving him on any elevated surfaces like our bed or the couch (I mean, not that any responsible parent would ever do that, of course). Even without being able to crawl, he can move, and move quickly. He loves to jump and bounce and has mastered the doorway jumper thing in ways I've never seen before... seriously, he sometimes looks like he's performing some kind of ballet routine in that thing. So he's a lot more physically inclined than Brock really was at that age. Brock has always been more focused and skilled with the verbal/intellectual development and less in the gross motor skills department, and now I'm interested to see if that will play out in different pursuits for each of them later on. But that's enough about all that... On to the pictures.

These are the crazy, active shots I was referring to. I could barely take a decent picture because I kept having to put my hand up to keep him from diving off the edge of the chair.

Anyone who is ever on the fence about having more than one child, I give you the following as evidence in favor of taking the plunge. I love the relationship between these two, and it's a pain in the neck (literally... my neck is killing me right now) having multiple children, but nearly every day, I think how thankful I am that we didn't stop with just one. Hopefully I'll be saying the same thing five or ten years from now.

(Unprompted and unscripted... I promise!)

Monday, December 30

Roman - Seven Months

Well this one is sort of close to on-time. I was determined to get back on track after his six month update was so late because I'm afraid I'll be tempted to just give up altogether, and then Roman would never know how he developed or grew after 6 months. Wouldn't that be tragic? I must press on. The world needs to know of my second-born child's monthly progress.

So here we go. This is some of what went on between months six and seven:
  • He got his first tooth! That's fun right? No, it is absolutely not fun. Where can I get myself a baby who pops out teeth like it's nothing because both of my children have acted like someone is cutting off their limbs with a dull pocket-knife when they get a new tooth. I mean, I don't doubt that it's a little painful and irritating, and maybe there is room for some whining and fussing, but come on boys, man up! No, really, I'm not that heartless. I do hate that it bothered him so much, and I offered plenty of soothing remedies (Tylenol with codeine anyone?). Then the bottom right tooth in the front finally made an appearance. The left one is on its way out too but will be featured in one of the following monthly updates because it didn't show up before the 7-month mark. Anyway, one down, five hundred thousand more to go.
  • While we're on the topic of manning up, it occurred to me this month after Brock and Roman both got the flu (or something like it) and then Blaine got sick a week later, that I have three males in this house. Three males. My female friends all know what it's like when a man gets sick. And I realized this month that they are all three probably always going to get sick at the same time. Yes. This will be fun.
  • Moving on from my pity party. Roman is eating three meals of solid foods a day now and started some finger foods like Puffs (the slightly more palatable, significantly less messy cousin to the Baby Mum Mum), Cheerios, and crackers. He started doing really well with his pincer skills (yes, I had to double-check that it wasn't supposed to be "pincher," but "pincer" is apparently the correct spelling) by the end of the month. 
  • He also gets really impatient now when it's time for his food. We can't put him in the highchair unless everything is ready to go because he starts screaming and throwing a fit. He basically yelled at Blaine the other day because the food wasn't moving from the container to his mouth quickly enough. 
  • Night sleep started going really well at the beginning of month six, and for a few weeks straight he was sleeping from about 7:30 pm to 6:30 or 7 am every night. I was so excited, but as Charlie Brown so eloquently puts it, "Whenever I get too happy, something bad always happens." He got that flu virus thing I previously mentioned and has been out of whack ever since. It could also be the other tooth trying to come through. He's been waking between 1:00 and 3:00 every morning and won't go back to sleep until I feed him. So that's been fun.
  • His naps have been great though at least. He usually takes 3 a day, sometimes only 2 if he starts the day later, and they each generally last about an hour and a half. 
  • He started being able to sit up really well without any assistance this month. He is still pretty stationary in whatever position we put him though; he's not pulling up or trying to crawl or anything like that yet.
  • He loves Piper (the dog) and squeals at her very excitedly whenever she comes into his line of sight. She mostly keeps a healthy distance from him since he likes pinching (interesting, it's not "pincing") her eyeballs and trying to rip her throat out.
  • He has learned how to pitch a fit now when you take something away from him that he wants. Funny how you don't have to teach babies this skill.
  • I still kept the dream feed all month, so he nurses about six times a day usually, but he seems to be moving toward a 4-hour schedule so that will eliminate one of those sessions, and hopefully we can also drop the dream feed soon. 
  • The 6-9 month size clothes are fitting much better now, and he's wearing size 3 diapers (size 4 at night). Side note: I love the Garanimals clothing brand (despite the fact that it's only at Walmart). Every piece of Garanimals clothing that Roman has had as a hand-me-down from Brock has seemed to be in the best shape of all the hand-me-down brands, and I also like that they fit longer than other brands because they run just a little large. He can still wear the 3-6 month size in that brand, but the 6-9 months size isn't too big either. And they're really cute clothes. And they're cheap! I am not getting paid for this endorsement, mostly because no one really cares about my opinion, but if this blog post makes its way into the path of any Garanimals Incorporated employees, I'll gladly accept your offer of free clothes.
  • Roman loves blankies just like his brother. I make these little satin/flannel combination blankies (here's a post I did on them back when Brock was tiny), and both boys are soothed by them for some reason. 
  • With Roman's increase in solid foods, he started having some problems with constipation this month. Brock had the same issues if I fed him too many servings of bananas or apples, but his usually resolved itself with a helping of prunes. Roman has had a little more trouble though, so we bought some Miralax and give him a teaspoon or so in his solids every few days so he doesn't get so painfully stopped up. And that's probably more than anyone ever wanted to know about my sons' bowel movements.
  • We started Roman on a daily iron supplement (per the pediatrician's recommendation) this month to prevent any iron deficiencies since breastfed babies sometimes don't get as much iron as formula-fed babies. We had to do this with Brock too and found that liquid iron is really gross. It smells metallic and tastes even worse. But if anyone else happens to be in the market for infant liquid iron supplements, I found this brand on Amazon and it's great. Cheaper and a larger size than the ones at the store with the vitamins, no nasty smell, not a dark, staining liquid, and it doesn't taste bad. 
  • Roman loves the bouncy, jumper seat thing that you can hang from the doorway, the Johnny Jump-Up toys. He gets so excited when we put him in it, and he'll just hop and jump all over the place. It's one of my favorite things.
  • Finally, I noticed this month that I've lost track of how many weeks old Roman is. You'll note in this post that I didn't use weeks to mark out any of his milestones. That's because I barely know what week it is on the calendar, so I am no longer aware of the specific number of weeks Roman has been alive. Months seem to work just fine though. 
Oh, one other thing... Look how happy this little boy is. I think I talked a lot about his grouchiness in this update, but that really isn't the norm for him. He's a smiley, friendly fellow the majority of the time.

Sunday, December 29

Roman - Six Months

He's seven and a half months old. I'm posting his six month update. It's clearly not getting any better. Poor Roman.

At his six month checkup with the doctor, he weighed 17 pounds, 3 ounces and was 27 inches long. So he gained a little over two pounds and had grown an inch in two months.

These are some of the things he was doing between the fifth and sixth months (they really are... I had written them all down at the time because there's no way I could remember now what he was doing a month and a half ago. I'm even looking at some of these and thinking, "Oh, I forgot he did that." This explains why people end up having multiple children... long-term memory loss):

  • I was giving him oatmeal cereal once a day by about mid-month. He tried sweet potatoes at 23 weeks, then squash, carrots, peas, green beans, peaches, and all the rest that are left after that. He loved solids from the first bite. I guess that may be an advantage of waiting until they're a little older to introduce them. They're ready and there's not as much refusal because they want it and can eat it well. I still took it really slow though and only gave him a little of each food once a day just to let him taste them and make sure he wasn't going to have any reactions to them (he didn't). I wasn't enthusiastic about starting the whole solid food process because it was just something else to add to my slightly overwhelmed mental list. But it went well and by the start of the sixth month, he was eating solids 3 times a day.
  • We introduced a sippy cup with water at about 22 weeks. Of course he kept trying to drown himself and nearly choked on the overflow multiple times, but hey, that's how they learn right? 
  • He finally figured out how to roll from his stomach to his back (only to the right) at 23 weeks and the next week figured out both ways. We had some horrible sleep interruptions for a couple of days during this whole learning process, but once he figured it all out, his little empowered self went back to the regular routine.
  • Somewhere around mid-month, he started reaching for me or for Blaine when one of us was holding him and the other approached. I like that milestone because it makes you feel really validated and you can say things like, "Yes, it's clear that you like me so much better than your daddy and want to come to me, don't you?" Just kidding. I never say that. I prefer, "Look Daddy! He's reaching for you. Hurry, take him so I can go back to stalking my friends on Facebook."
  • He's still very entertained and amused by Brock. In the car, he has started peeping his head around the edge of his carseat to watch Brock, which cracks Brock up and makes him belly laugh, which makes Roman chuckle, which makes Blaine and me look at each other lovingly and think how amazing our two little sons are and how perfect our life is, and then the record scratches and Brock starts being a maniacal toddler again and Roman gets tired and starts screaming, and we're back to reality. I need to record this.
  • I tried dropping the dream feed a couple of times this month, but he wakes up in the middle of the night wanting to eat if I don't do it, so I'm just keeping it for now.
  • This is literally what I wrote down about the time change that month: "Time change - kill me" Clearly, it didn't go so well, and I was not a fan. We apparently survived though, so that's something. And I think it actually only took about a week to adjust, so I might have been a little overly dramatic, but I just really like my sleep.
  • He got his first cold this month, which isn't too bad considering he went 6 months without getting sick.
  • Sometimes he rolls around in his crib so much that he gets himself kind of jammed up in the corner so then he gets really angry and frustrated and can't solve the problem. And I'm like, "Well, screaming and crying about it isn't going to help the matter." But he hasn't learned to be reasonable yet, unfortunately, so I just have to help him roll back over.
  • We introduced him to Baby Mum Mums at the end of the month, which he loved because it was something else to eat. If you are not familiar with Baby Mum Mums, they are just some kind of baby finger food that I think might have Asian origins and that are ridiculously overpriced and resemble communion wafers or thin slices of styrofoam (in taste and appearance). My favorite thing about Baby Mum Mums is the little bullet-point on the front of the box that says, "Great taste, No mess." LIES... so much lies. They're a sticky, soppy, messy mess waiting to happen. Be warned. 
  • I noticed this month Roman has less sensitivity to sensory things than Brock did. Brock never liked to play with my hair that much and Roman likes to eat it. Roman loves to grab Piper and pet her and Brock wasn't as interested in touching her. The sunlight doesn't seem to bother Roman, and it always seemed to hurt Brock's eyes. Just interesting little things that I thought were common to all babies when Brock was little but that I see now were actually more unique to Brock.
  • Last thing. He finally took a bottle from Blaine at 25 weeks. That's terrible. Poor Blaine was so frustrated and upset that Roman would never take it from him, especially because he would take it from the next door neighbor's cousin's uncle who he'd never seen before (not really, but almost), but wouldn't take one from his own dad. Not sure what that was all about because we had tried it since he was a newborn, and he just refused until this month.
And the pictures...

Saturday, November 9

Roman - Five Months

This is Roman's 5 month post. Yes, Roman is actually 6 months old this month. Yes, I'm just now posting last month's update. I sat down to post this a couple weeks ago and got distracted because it said my blog layout design would be expiring soon unless I wanted to purchase it (which I did not), so I spent an hour trying to find a new, free design instead of posting the update. I was a little sad that there weren't as many cute options out there anymore, but this will work for now.

Another thing I'm sad about. My wonderfully fantastic $500 digital SLR camera that I got for my birthday four years ago is starting to malfunction. Something is wrong with the shutter release, and all the pictures are dark. It worked just long enough for me to get Roman's 4 month pictures taken for my last post and then gave me its "I. Just. Can't. Go. On." speech. So starting this month (or, well, last month) I'm having to use my phone to take Roman's monthly pictures, and they just aren't the same quality.

Oh well, life goes on... The chunky monster is still growing and changing whether I write it all down or not. I do keep up with his little developments throughout the month. It just takes me a while to sit and put them all in a readable format. So without further ado, here are were some of Roman's fun facts between months four and five:
  • He started trying to roll over from his back to his stomach at the beginning of the month and then accomplished that feat at about 20 weeks, which of course disrupted his sleep and made him angry when he would wake up. Apparently, this is why I should've been doing tummy time all along. Since I never really made him do it at all, it took him FOREVER (ok, maybe more like 2 weeks) to get used to being on his belly. I love that they are compelled to roll themselves over even though they absolutely hate it and don't want to be in that position. They just have no control over their little bodies, which is irritating even to me, so I'm sure it is super frustrating to them.
  • He rolled from his stomach to his back a couple of times, but couldn't really get the hang of it. I practiced with him a lot during his wake time and made him just roll back and forth until his eyeballs started looking a little dizzy (not really), and I think that helped him develop some muscle memory for it. 
  • Around about week 18, he started taking a long time to fall asleep; he would just lie in the crib talking to himself. One day during a nap he laid in there quietly chatting and cooing and babbling for an hour and 20 minutes. I just kept waiting and waiting for him to drift off, but he was on a roll, so finally I moved him to his swing and he instantly fell asleep. This seems to happen every few weeks or so, and I'm thinking it's probably a developmental thing because it seems he'll learn how to make certain new sounds or noises, and it's like he keeps himself awake practicing them.
  • We stopped putting him in the woombie at 19 weeks since he was starting to roll and since I realized from looking back at my posts that Brock was out of it by 18 weeks. He actually did great without it! I was so nervous because he had been sleeping well, and I just knew it was going to mess all that up, but I think it actually helped him because he wanted to self-soothe by sucking his fingers. Once he was able to put his fingers in his mouth, he started sleeping longer. By the third night, he slept from 8:00-7:00.
  • His routine is much more inconsistent and erratic than Brock's was at this point. Brock was an amazing sleeper and by 5 months would take several 1.5-2 hour naps every day and would sleep 11 hours at night without any waking. Roman will take great naps some days and other days be fine on just a few short catnaps. Some nights he'll sleep straight from 8:00-7:00, and other nights he will wake up early around 5 or 6 a.m. like he's starving. I would say 4 out of 7 days usually have a regular, consistent pattern, but those other 3 days he usually throws me some kind of curveball. He is going to be the child that defies my OCD, Type A, schedule-oriented personality I guess. 
  • He kind of, sort of reached for me a little bit at 19 weeks while Blaine was holding him. Probably, if I'm honest, it was more just like he leaned toward me and his arm automatically lifted up, but it was more than he had done up to that point, so I clapped for him.
  • After we dropped the woombie, he started using his fingers as a soothing instrument. He still hasn't enjoyed a paci at all and just won't take one, but he played around with some different fingers and then seemed to finally decide he liked a combination of his middle and ring finger the best. So it always looks like he's giving the "Rock on" sign when he's self-soothing (see picture below).
  • He tries to do sit-ups when he's laying at any sort of incline, and he can pull himself forward some. He's nowhere near the point of getting into a sitting position though.
  • We took the newborn sling out of his bathtub this month since he's sitting up a little better and steadier now.
  • He started wearing size 3 diapers sometime that month, and 3-6 month clothes are a little snug on him, but he's not quite big enough for most of the 6-9 month sizes yet.
  • At 20 weeks he started nursing for only about 5-7 minutes total, which made me nervous because I feel like that can't possibly be enough. According to my scientific research (translation: many Google searches), this can be normal at his age because they are more interested in what's going on around them, and some babies become a lot more efficient nursers at this stage. I remember Brock significantly decreasing his time too, but I didn't have my precise nursing timer apps back then (how much changes in 2 years) so I wasn't aware it was such a short amount of time, I think.
  • I wanted to hold Roman off until closer to 6 months to start introducing solid foods, mostly because I'm lazy and didn't want to add that component into our daily routine. I introduced foods at about 17 weeks with Brock, but I was excited to do something new with him since he was a first-born, and it's old hat this time around. I did, however, let Roman try some oatmeal cereal at 20 weeks, and he loved it. I didn't start giving it to him consistently though, just a couple of experiences with it at the end of the month.
I think that's mostly all the developments for the fifth month. And here are the pictures. This first collage I loved because it shows the progression of him sitting (kind of) to falling over and lying down. He likes to wiggle around so much that he can't stay sitting up for very long.

Thursday, September 26

Roman - Four Months

Roman is four months now. Actually, Roman is a little over four months now. I'm about a week and a half late, but that's just going to be the norm I think.

He had his four month checkup last Monday and now weighs 15 lbs (a 2.5 pound gain from his two month checkup) and is 26 inches long (a 3 inch gain). The change in length kind of shocked me because it seemed like a lot. He's growing well and, as evidenced by the pictures, is clearly getting enough to eat too.

These were some of the things that went on between the third and fourth months:
  • At about week 14, he suddenly started going down for naps and bedtime much easier. He would cry very little and sometimes not at all when we laid him down. I looked back at Brock's 4 month post and this happened the same week with him. So apparently, if you are putting them in the same place to sleep and doing the same type of routine for the first couple of months, it starts to click for them at about 14 weeks.
  • He would go down easily to sleep, but his naps were not very great from about the 12th week to the 16th week. He would wake at about 40-50 minutes into every nap, which was frustrating because then he would want to eat much sooner than the 3 hour mark, which would just kind of throw the whole day off. I struggled against it for the first couple of weeks, changing his awake time and adjusting things to try to figure out what the problem was because it felt so chaotic. Then I looked back at a sleep log I had kept for Brock for a couple of months (yes, I kept a sleep log; yes, I am that kind of person; yes, I probably do have issues), and I realized that Brock had sleep problems around the same time, waking early from naps and not sleeping like he should. I looked up some info online and found that this period is kind of a developmental shift for their brains as they become more aware and more capable of doing certain tasks, so it often affects their sleep. Realizing it was just a phase helped me mentally cope with the frustration of him not sleeping, and I decided we would just start moving him directly from his crib to the swing when he woke early because sometimes he would finish the nap out in the swing. It also taught him that it was kind of pointless to wake up early because he wasn't going to get to play yet. Everything started getting better around 16 weeks though, and even though his naps are still nowhere near as consistent or as long as Brock's were, he generally gets at least three one-hour naps and then usually a longer one in the afternoon. 
  • He can stay awake for about an hour or a little more before getting fussy and tired now.
  • At night, he's been sleeping from about 8:00-5:00 (with a dreamfeed between 10-10:30 where I feed him without really waking him up) so he goes about 6-7 hours with no feeding. Probably once or twice a week, he will still occasionally wake around 3 or 4 am, and I try to let him cry it out back to sleep but usually have to end up feeding him because he's stubborn. This is another area that is different from Brock because at this point Brock was going from about 8:00-7:00 every night and very rarely woke in the night for feedings. Brock loved sleep a lot more than the average baby, so that may be why he did so much better. Blaine says we let Brock cry more than we do Roman, which may also be true... Roman seems so much younger to me than Brock did at this age, so I'm not as concerned about making him do things that I made Brock do at the same age (sleep without a swaddle, sleep 12 hours without a feeding, etc). This is probably a significant benefit of being a second-born.
  • He can sit up with support now, like propped up on the couch or in a chair. He likes to sit in the living room with us in the evenings and just watch everything that's going on. He also tries to do sit-ups all the time, even just when he's laying flat. The pictures up above show what happens when I try to sit him up straight... he leans forward and then falls over sideways. I love the one in the top right corner. This happens all the time; he just falls over and then is stuck there until someone helps him, and most of the time he doesn't even mind; he just waits patiently on someone to notice.
  • He's chewing a lot on his fists and burp cloths and anything he can get in his mouth, which made me wonder if he is teething. It seems like I can kind of see his two little bottom teeth under the gums, but I'm sure it will probably be six more months of pain and restlessness and fussiness before they pop through. I'm convinced that teething is a torture tactic devised by Satan to make parents lose their minds. He also gags himself all the time with his fists and fingers, then looks around like, "Who just stuck their hand down my throat?!" 
  • Around about week 13, he started nursing for only 10-12 minutes total. Up until this point, it was usually an average of 15 to 20 minutes, but he just refuses to eat for very long now. I'm assuming he's getting what he needs, so I don't really stress out about it.
  • He had some projectile spit-up episodes again in week 14, and that's when I noticed that they seem to coordinate with the times that he's going through growth spurts. He usually eats more during a growth spurt, so maybe he just takes in too much and then vomits it all up. Classic binge and purge it seems (not that I would know anything about the purging part myself... I always stop after the binge step).
  • He's in 3-6 month size clothes now but by the end of the month has gotten just about too long for those. He's in size 2 diapers during the day and size 3 at night (since they hold more and prevent me having to change him before morning).
  • He's gotten a lot better with his arm control. He plays with objects hanging down from his playmat, and he can hold and play with the O-ball now (one of my favorite toys for babies). Dr. Smith acted impressed with him being able to hold a tongue depressor and move it to his mouth because apparently moving objects to their mouths is something they don't really do until closer to 6 months. I'm pretty sure if he is advanced because of that skill, it's only because he's a fatty and is trying to eat everything. Even with the better arm control, we're still swaddling him in the Woombie swaddle for now because his hands still have a mind of their own (see the gagging issue mentioned above). I watched him one day with his arms out of the swaddle, and literally, his fingers start poking him in the eyes or his hands flail around or he starts to doze off and his fist inserts itself into his mouth, and he will get so angry like someone else is doing it to him and keeping him awake. It's bizarre to me that controlling your arms is a skill we have to learn (and that it takes so long!).
  • He's taking a bottle much better now (at least once a week at church and occasionally a couple times during the week). Those contraband latex orthodontic nipples really seemed to do the trick. He still won't really take any other kind.
  • He's doing a lot of cooing and making lots of noises. He loves to talk, which surprises me with as much noise as his brother makes. But I guess he wants to contribute to the conversation too. He's also learning how to blow raspberries, which I always think is cute... until they do it for 30 minutes and get themselves all soggy with drool.
  • He can roll onto his side but not all the way over yet. He will lay on his belly for a few minutes now before getting upset, and he can hold his head and part of his chest up. I didn't make him do tummy time practically at all for like the first three months, so I'm glad to see that I didn't totally damage him, although he does have a spot on one side of his head that is flatter than the rest. Oh well, he'll just have to keep his hair long.
I think that's mostly it, and I'm sure that's mostly stuff that no one other than myself might care about. I just like having a record of it all. And now for the fun part, pictures! 

I love this face 

Always very amused by his crazy big brother

Apparently, these monthly posts will show Brock's growth too unless I start taking Roman's pictures while Brock is asleep. It was harder than it should have been to get just a few pictures of Roman by himself. 

Brock showing "Bubigi" (Luigi from Cars) to a very fascinated Roman. I'm pretty sure Brock was also in the middle of saying, "Bubigi" when I snapped the picture.

And then the monthly pictures... I can't really see much of a difference between the third and fourth month pictures. He looks like he sits better in the 3 month, but it's only because of the whole leaning forward thing that I mentioned he does now. I looked back at Brock's 4 month post, and he has almost the same issue with those two pictures. Just interesting to me :)