Friday, June 24

Friday Photos - Yum, Hand

I'm reading and seeing that the time between the third and the fourth months is just full of new developments and milestones that you can actually observe. It's very interesting to watch Brock acquire new skills almost every day, even though these "skills" would probably be completely overlooked by anyone who is not his mom or dad (or maybe grandparent). They aren't hugely significant in and of themselves but when you start out with this little creature who does nothing at first, you really notice it when he starts to do anything.

Which leads me to this week's "skill". Brock is finally figuring out that his hands and arms are connected to his body and aren't just some scary flailing devices sent to endlessly torture him. He's learning to control them with his very own brain, and he is realizing that his hands can double as pacifiers. I love the noise he makes when he sucks on his fist, and I thought it was pretty funny that he even gave himself a couple of small hickies (that's probably the only time in his life that I'll think it's funny though). Right now he prefers the fist over any individual fingers, but for some reason I have a feeling he'll end up being a thumb-sucker.

P.S. I'm loving Google's free photo editing software Picasa right now. It's very easy and has a lot of fun features (like these photo collages).

Tuesday, June 21

My Do Not Playlist

The more songs I sing and books I read to Brock, the more I find myself actually paying attention to the lyrics and words. I guess having kids can make you a little more selective about the words you say or the things you listen to. The result of this is that I'm developing my own little Do Not Playlist. It is similar to an iTunes playlist except that it is comprised of the songs and stories I don't want to hear anymore. So far, I only have three items on the list, but I thought I'd share those items and why they have been banned to the playlist that shall not be played.

Track #1: "Rock-a-bye Baby"
I'm sure everyone knows this song. I'm pretty sure I, along with many other little girls, used to sing it to my baby dolls when I was young. Clearly I didn't care about my baby dolls like I care about my real live baby because the lyrics to this song never bothered me until I had that real live baby and sang it to him. It starts out harmless enough:
Rock-a-bye, baby
In the treetop
When the wind blows
The cradle will rock
That's a nice, peaceful image: The wind gently blowing the cradle and rocking the little baby to sleep. Although, we might question why the baby's cradle is in the treetop in the first place. I mean they tell us not to even put a carseat on a tabletop when the baby is in it, so why (and for that matter how) did this mother put her baby's cradle in a treetop? But maybe she just had a baby with a bad case of colic and this was the only thing that would get him to sleep. Ok, we'll give her a break. But then the song takes a dark turn:

When the bough breaks
The cradle will fall
And down will come baby
Cradle and all

What?!? Excuse me?? The tree limb breaks and the cradle falls and they all come tumbling down? And I'm supposed to sing this to my baby to comfort him to sleep? I'm pretty sure there's no way I could get to sleep if you're singing to me about cradles crashing down from treetops with me in them! Poor kids. Who comes up with these lyrics? Blaine's theory is that the author was a mother suffering from postpartum depression. I must say that's a pretty good theory because honestly who makes up a song about their baby falling out of a treetop? That doesn't seem to be something a baby would recover from. So "Rock-a-bye Baby" has been banned to my Do Not Playlist and only occasionally makes an appearance when Brock is being extremely difficult or I'm extremely tired (haha just kidding... mostly).

Track #2: "Hush Little Baby"
Another well-known favorite of mine, or at least it formerly was. I remember my mom singing this to me and my sister many nights before bed, and I always loved it as a little girl. Now that I'm the mom singing the song to my child, it takes on a whole new perspective:

Hush, little baby, don't say a word,
Mama's going to buy you a mockingbird.
And if that mockingbird don't sing,
Mama's going to buy you a diamond ring.
And if that diamond ring turns brass,
Mama's going to buy you a looking glass.
And if that looking glass gets broke,
Mama's going to buy you a billy goat.
And if that billy goat won't pull,
Mama's going to buy you a cart and bull.
And if that cart and bull turn over,
Mama's going to buy you a dog named Rover.
And if that dog named Rover won't bark,
Mama's going to buy you a horse and cart.
And if that horse and cart fall down,
You'll still be the sweetest little baby in town.

What a kind, patient, sweet, indulgent, ridiculous mother. What are all these things she's buying for this kid? Diamonds and billy goats and puppy dogs. Obviously you are not solving the original problem of the baby crying. You're just bribing him to sleep with all this stuff he doesn't need and apparently gets tired of quickly. How about, "Hush little baby don't say a word... because I said so!" I know that doesn't really rhyme and it's a much shorter song, but really that's just way too much stuff to be buying your baby. And I doubt very seriously that that baby will be the sweetest one in town after you've spoiled him rotten with all that stuff. I can't sing this song to Brock anymore because I don't want him getting any big ideas, thinking if he stops crying I'm going to get him all kinds of toys. That isn't how Blaine and I plan to run this ship. (I know you're thinking I'm probably going to be eating these words later on, but hopefully not). And if one of those toys breaks or gets a little old and less shiny that doesn't just automatically mean you get a new toy... toys cost money, and money doesn't grow on trees here. (When did I turn into my grandparents?) So "Hush Little Baby" is not one of my frequently sung songs anymore.

Track #3: Love You Forever
This last playlist item is not a song but a book. During my pre-child, pre-marriage days I worked at a daycare and came upon this book once and just thought it was so sweet. I bought it for my own bookshelf to read to my future children. Unfortunately, that only happened once and probably won't happen again. If you've never read or heard of the book, I found a particularly humorous reading of it on YouTube by the author who I don't think was attempting to be humorous in his depiction of the story.

One might ask how I could possibly find anything wrong with such a sweet story like this? Well, aside from the fact that it's a little creepy that the adult woman sneaks over to her grown son's house at night and climbs up into his window and picks him up to sing to him (can we say boundary issues?), my real problem with this book is that the ending is devastatingly sad. In case you haven't read the book and didn't want to listen to the crazy man's YouTube version of it, I'll quickly summarize. A mother has a little boy and he grows up and goes through different stages of boyhood. But regardless of how much the little boy drives her crazy, every night the mother picks up her sleeping son and sings this song to him, "I'll love you forever. I'll like you for always. As long as I'm living, my baby you'll be." That's a sweet little picture of a mother's enduring love and those are very sweet words. However, the author had to go too far with the ending. The mother has grown old and is dying in her bed so one day her son comes and scoops her up in his arms and sings the song back to her, "I'll love you forever. I'll like you for always. As long as I'm living, my mommy you'll be." Oh my gosh, I'm about to cry just typing those words out. What the heck?! I mean I know that's the life cycle and that everybody dies, but I don't want to read about that to my little baby or to my toddler or even to my teenager. That's just depressing! Why couldn't he have just stopped with the creepy mom sneaking into her adult son's house at night? Or better yet, end the story with the mom singing the song to her grandson/granddaughter. I could think of a thousand ways to rewrite the story so that I would actually be able to read it without having to choke back tears. However, that's not how the author decided to do things, so unfortunately Love You Forever is now on my Do Not Playlist.

Friday, June 17

Friday Photos - New Skill

It has become clear to me that my recurring post needs to be renamed "Friday Photos" (emphasis on the plural) because I have a hard time picking only one picture each week.

The pictures this week display a new skill Brock has developed. He is perfecting the art of bubble making (also known as drooling). Try not to be jealous of his amazing goatee of bubble drool in the top right corner. It was pretty impressive to me. I especially love how it runs down his chin and collects in a pool on his neck (see top left and bottom right pictures). I'm finding his new skill pretty entertaining, and I'll take this over spit-up any day.

Thursday, June 16

Three Months

Wow, three months old, really? That can't be right. How can time go so fast and at the same time so slow when you have a baby? But it's true, Brock is three months old now and the light is getting brighter and brighter as we seem to finally be escaping the newborn tunnel. We didn't have a checkup with the doctor this month so I don't have his official numbers, but just out of curiosity Blaine and I measured and weighed Brock with our very unofficial instruments (a tape measure and bathroom scale) and this is what we came up with. He's somewhere between 23 and 24 inches long, but it was really difficult to tell for sure because his legs were running some kind of marathon and wouldn't stay still. I'm going to go with 24 inches though which would put him around the 55th percentile and would be a 1 3/4 inch gain from last month. We used a very scientific method of weighing Brock since he can't sit up by himself yet and we don't have a baby scale. Blaine weighed himself then held the baby and we subtracted the first number from the second and found that Brock is at about 14 pounds now, which is a 2 lb, 6 oz gain from last month and would put him at about the 67th percentile.

Here are some of Brock's accomplishments and patterns this past month:
  • His first laugh was at 9 weeks old while his Mamaw Brock (my stepmom) was holding him. Every week since then he giggles and laughs more and more. And he's started "talking" to us some also.
  • He has been swatting at objects some when they hang over his head, but he still hasn't quite gained awareness of his hands.
  • He can roll on his side now, mostly when he's swaddled but sometimes when he's not. This week he rolled over once from his stomach to his back. I think it might have just been a fluke though.
  • My personal favorite: Brock has been sleeping through the night for about three weeks now! He started sleeping from about 11:00 til 6:00 or 7:00 during the ninth week. And this past week it has been from about 10:30 to 7:00. Yaaaaay!
  • He's really gained a lot of control over his eyes, and tracking and focusing are a cakewalk for him now. He seems to recognize me and Blaine also and smiles when he sees us.
  • He has gained a lot of head control and can hold it fairly steady when sitting upright, but he's still a little wobbly.
  • He's started grasping objects like my hair and my necklaces (which led to a shorter haircut for me), but I'm not sure that it's intentional grasping yet.
  • He's spitting up less often but we can't get rid of the bibs just yet because he's starting to drool a lot now.
  • Between the eighth and tenth weeks we experienced something called the 45-minute intruder during all his naps, where he went from sleeping 2 hours at a time to only about 45 minutes. It was almost like clockwork that he would wake right at the 45 minute mark. Once I figured out it was a growth spurt and he needed more food, his naps went back to normal.
  • He's still needing the swaddle in order to sleep well because his arms still disturb him. Now that he's a little older, I've come to prefer the Woombie swaddle because it doesn't pin his arms down to his sides and he can move around, but he can't bust out and wake himself up.
  • His legs are getting really strong, and during tummy time he likes to push with them. He might be crawling before he can actually hold his head up. (He's still not loving tummy time but he can tolerate it longer now).
  • He had some lovely baby acne between weeks 10 and 11 and some pretty dry, flaky skin too. (I had a sample tube of Baby Aquaphor that worked wonders on the dry skin.)
  • He outgrew his size 1 diapers around week 12, and he's outgrowing some of his 0-3 month outfits too.
  • He's started disliking the pacifier this past week. He always needed it to get to sleep, but now he pushes it away with his tongue and gets mad if I keep trying to give it to him. I'm fine with this change because I don't want to have to wean him from it later on.
I wanted to record just a few things for future reference that I've noticed about myself during month 3 too:
  • We've finally really gotten the hang of feeding this month, and most of the pain and discomfort have disappeared.
  • One of my favorite things to do is pick Brock's nose. I know that's a little strange, but there is something very satisfying about getting those little boogers out of there (I hate the nasal aspirator though).
  • I'm finding that it's not the best thing for me to read the developmental milestones that all the different websites say my baby should be accomplishing each week/month. When Brock isn't looking at his hands and fingers or rolling over and says he should be by now, I start to get nervous that he's developmentally delayed. However, after three months of these irrational worries I'm beginning to realize that he's developing just fine and seems to be pretty normal.
  • Finally, I realized this month that I can no longer read the book I Love You Forever. I used to love this story and thought it was so sweet, but I tried reading it one morning to Brock and choked back tears through the whole thing. I literally had to stop reading at least four times because I thought I would cry. More on this in a later post, but I think I'll retire that book for now.

Friday, June 10

Friday Photo - Worth It

They all said it to me when I was 9 months pregnant with swollen feet and hands, going to the bathroom every 5 minutes, and experiencing all sorts of pain and discomfort. They all said it to me when I was nervous and slightly scared to death of birthing a baby and worried about how difficult it was going to be. They all said it to me when that baby was four weeks old and waking me up every two and a half hours at night to eat, peeing and pooping and spitting up all over me, and resembling just a little blob of a human.

"It's all worth it," is what they all said to me over and over and over. And I must admit they were very right.....


Friday, June 3

Friday Photo - Making Friends

Every day we try to give Brock a little independent "play" time just so we aren't constantly in his face and so he can learn to entertain himself some. I'm hoping that this transfers over to his toddler years and that it will help him develop his imagination and sense of independence. Of course there's a selfish motivation too because I will want to be able to get things done when he's older and not have to always be his source of entertainment. So we're starting young with independent play. Usually it consists of about 10 or 15 minutes (he still doesn't stay awake for too much longer than this after he's eaten) in the pack'n'play or in his rocker seat with a mobile overhead.

This past week we noticed that Brock seems to have made friends with the little giraffes on the mobile over his pack'n'play. He can really focus on them now and he's started swatting at them with his hands. Every now and then I'll look over and he's just smiling away at Mr. Giraffe on the far left; that one is his favorite. Occasionally, toward the end of the playtime, his giraffe friends will hurt his feelings and he'll start crying so we know it's naptime then. While I couldn't catch him smiling or swatting, I was able to get some pictures of him gazing at the giraffes this week and thought I'd make these the Friday Photos. I love how huge his eyes get when he's trying to figure something out.

Wednesday, June 1

Baby Dedication?

This past Sunday, May 29, Blaine and I dedicated Brock at church. Since we are Baptists, we don't christen or baptize babies and the ceremony is on a much smaller scale and much less elaborate than other denominations may do it. In fact, I don't even know that I would call it a "ceremony" in our church because it basically just consisted of us walking on stage with several other families, announcing the baby's name, birthdate, and birth stats, and then the pastor praying for all of the families. It has always seemed to me to be a sweet little ritual that we do in the Baptist church and nothing that really holds any significant meaning or consequences for the baby since it isn't a salvation experience. Funny how so many things change after you have your own baby...

Our church, Brainerd Hills Baptist, offers the opportunity for baby dedication every fifth Sunday of the months that have one. Since there were five Sundays in May and Brock had been going to church for a few weeks now with no problems, I asked Blaine if I should sign us up for this month's baby dedication. Blaine, being of the same kind of mindset I described in the first paragraph and not a big fan of being the center of attention, was hesitant. Not that he was opposed to dedicating Brock, he just wasn't too enthused about the idea of doing it publicly and potentially forgetting, in front of everyone, important information like the baby's birth weight and looking like the worst father ever. After discussing it further though, we both decided it was something we should participate in. Reading through the Bible, there are so many examples of families dedicating their children to the Lord, committing to raise them according to God's laws and word. After searching it out for ourselves, this was an important public commitment that we wanted to make for our family as well.

Because we didn't want it to be just some event that we signed up for at church and didn't think too much about, we decided it would make it more meaningful to us to read a relevant passage of Scripture and pray over Brock before we left for church that Sunday morning. We read Psalm 139 because it talks about how God creates each of us and how he thinks of us:
O Lord, you have searched me and known me! You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar. You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways. Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O Lord, you know it altogether. You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it. Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me. If I say, "Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light about me be night," even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day; for darkness is as light with you. For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them. How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! If I would count them, they are more than the sand. I awake, and I am still with you. Oh that you would slay the wicked, O God! O men of blood, depart from me! They speak against you with malicious intent; your enemies take your name in vain! Do I not hate those who hate you, O Lord? And do I not loathe those who rise up against you? I hate them with complete hatred; I count them my enemies. Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!
I read this passage several times when I was pregnant with Brock. I also read it to console myself earlier last year when I had had a miscarriage. The thought that God knits together the intricacies of a human life inside a mother's womb and knows everything there is to know about that life, even the number of days it will live, is an awe-inspiring thought and a tremendous comfort to me. I thank God for the baby he took from us, and I thank him for the baby he allowed us to have. Like Hannah, I am able to say, "For this child I prayed, and the Lord has granted me my petition that I made to him" (1 Sam 1:27). With the understanding that Brock is a gift from God, Blaine and I want to raise him with a knowledge of who God is. We want him to one day desire the Lord for himself, not because we forced him to go to church or made him read his Bible front to back or memorize the Ten Commandments, but rather we want him to desire the Lord because the Lord is good and worth desiring.

So what does "baby dedication" mean to us? Psalm 78:5-8 says, "[God] established a testimony in Jacob and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers to teach their children, that the next generation might know them, the children yet unborn, and arise and tell them to their children, so that they should set their hope in God and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments; and that they should not be like their fathers, a stubborn and rebellious generation, a generation whose heart was not steadfast, whose spirit was not faithful to God." In dedicating Brock to God, we are saying that as parents we commit to teach Brock what it means to set his hope in God, to remain faithful to God. We want to model to our son morality, wisdom, goodness, self-control, love, and godliness. We do not want to be self-righteous or judgmental, legalistic or overzealous. We will be imperfect models and we will mess up more often than we succeed, I am sure, but my hope is that the overarching theme of our parenting will present to Brock and to all of our future children a glimpse of who God is and how he loves us. It is my prayer that Brock will grow up to be a godly, honorable, and good man who recognizes his sinfulness and decides for himself that he needs Christ to save him from that sin. I hope that he will one day pass on this knowledge to his own children and that our children's children's children will have had the opportunity to know the Lord.

Moses commanded the Israelites: "Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise." (Deut 6:4-7) This, in essence, is what Blaine and I are committing to with the dedication of our firstborn son. May God help us in our endeavor.