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 :)

Friday, September 13

Lessons from the Terrible Twos

I am fairly certain that the specific events, situations, and phases we experience in life help shape the type of people we become. I have written before (here and here) about times that I believe God has used my current circumstances to teach me lessons and make me more like him. I really believe that the different seasons we go through (whether they are hard times, big milestones, new adventures, joyful moments, or just everyday monotony) are opportunities for us to improve ourselves, to grow, and ultimately to learn more about God and his relationship to us.

Winter is nothing, in comparison ;)
The trial joyful venture Blaine and I are living through right now is toddlerhood. The terrible twos are upon us and are threatening to break us at every turn. I thought I hated the newborn phase... that is a cakewalk. Give me thirty newborns over one 2 1/2 year old any day. 

No. Not really. Don't give me thirty newborns. Ever. Please. 

I just went into a really dark place thinking about multiple newborns at one time.

Anyway, I digress. I knew today wasn't going to be the best of days when Brock woke up at 6:40 this morning. The child used to sleep til 9:00 every day, but once his brother was born and he moved to a toddler bed, he now apparently wants to wake before the sun rises every morning. I was prepared for a difficult day. I was not prepared for a day filled with epic proportions of the terrible twos. Whining and screaming and crying (a little from both of us) and disobeying and defying and flipping out for no reason at all. That's what our day has looked like. And all of it before nap time! But during, quite possibly, the one peaceful moment we had at lunch time, I had a little revelation that kind of grew and grew in my mind (and eventually turned into this blog post).

A little voice said to me, "You are often like this toddler, Shelby." Not an audible voice. I'm not crazy (I don't think). Just kind of a thought that popped in there. I have been praying for patience and wisdom and calmness all day long, in my head and out loud. I have been praying for the past three weeks that we would love Brock well even through this difficult phase, that we would guide him and help him learn, that Blaine and I would be slow to anger and compassionate and understanding but consistent and right in our discipline. I swear it seems the more I have prayed, the more I have been tested and my patience has been stretched to impossible limits. But today, I looked at my defiant, disobedient, overly irrational, emotional little toddler and got a small glimpse of how I might look to God.

These are the things I want to say to Brock as a toddler or as a grown man, the things I want him to understand. But each one of these also seemed to be a truth that God wanted me to see about myself and about who he is. So these are the lessons (for Brock and for myself) from the terrible twos:

  1. I am far more patient and merciful toward you than you deserve.    If you were not my child and if I didn't have this deep, abiding, unconditional love for you, I would probably tolerate a lot less of this nonsense and willful disobedience. My mercies are new every thirty minutes in my responses to you. There are some moments (like when you threw the tantrum of all tantrums because I put a shirt on you) that the only thing that keeps me calm and reasonable and not murderous is the fact that you are my son and I care deeply about you and love you more than you know.

  2. It's okay to have bad days; It is not okay to treat others badly on your bad days.    Not every day is going to go well. Frustrating things will happen to you that you can't control. You may not feel great every day. Sickness, sadness, and crappy stuff will come. And I don't expect you to always have a happy face painted on. I don't expect you to fake your emotions and pretend you feel something that you don't actually feel. I want you to be real and genuine. But you do need to understand that you are not the only person in this world. You are not the only person in this family. There are others who have needs that must be met, even as you are having your bad day. There are others who need you to show mercy and compassion and patience toward them, even if everything isn't going your way. And there are probably others who are having much worse days than you are. So, on those bad days, stop focusing on yourself and see what you can do to make someone else's bad day better.

  3. Patience and whining do not go together.    We tell you all the time to be patient. Sometimes I can't give you something the very moment you ask for it. Sometimes there are preparations that have to be made (like when I have to find a clean cup to put your milk in) or things that have to be put together (like that awful toy that I thought would come out of the box looking like it did in the picture but took an hour to build) or situations that are more urgent than yours (like your baby brother screaming his head off because he hasn't eaten in three hours). In these times, when you can't have what you want right when you want it, please know that patience is going to do a lot more than whining will. If I tell you to be patient, I want you to know that I have heard your request and I am going to act on it, but in the meantime I need you to wait contentedly and peacefully. Wait on me without whining or complaining or questioning or being angry or pitching a fit. Wait for me to get you what you need, and wait with a good attitude because if you are whining, you are not being patient.

  4. My discipline comes from my love for you.    I know you feel like you get in trouble for everything (please refer back to number 1 though for the truth). I want you to know that I care about you and I love you and those are the reasons I create rules and boundaries and why you receive discipline. My love for you makes me want to help you learn how to be a good person, a loving person, a person who other people enjoy and want to be around. My love for you makes me persevere in my efforts to discipline you rather than handing you over to a pack of wild animals to fend for yourself. Sometimes the discipline is to develop your character (like when you have to share your toys with others). Sometimes the discipline is to correct your bad or wrong behaviors (like when you get a spanking for screaming at your parents). Sometimes the discipline is to teach you new things (like when you have to sit still and listen to instructions before you get to do something fun). And sometimes the discipline is to protect you from harm (like when I tell you not to stand in that chair that is looking wobbly and precariously close to falling over). The discipline is for different reasons at different times, but I want you to know that it always comes from a place of love and care for your well-being.

  5. Your way isn't always the best way.    I know that's hard to understand. I know you think you've got it all figured out. I know you don't always want to do things the harder way, or the not fun way, or the tedious, boring, tiresome way. But sometimes the way I tell you to do things is better for you. It's a better plan, even if it doesn't look as appealing or as satisfying as what you have in mind.

  6. You can trust me and my intentions for your life.    On the differences between your way and my way of doing things, I want you to be able to trust that my plan is for your good. I know you would rather eat five bags of gummy bears for dinner than anything I put on your plate, but I need you to realize that I know a little more than you and that I don't want you up at midnight puking sticky, half-digested gummy nastiness all over your sheets. I want something better than that for you. If I don't allow you to do something, it's generally because I am looking out for you. If I tell you not to run through the house with that butter knife, it's not because I don't want you to ever have any fun. It's because I don't want you to lose an eye when you inevitably trip over the dog or run into the kitchen cabinets. I have the best of intentions for your life, and you can trust that I am looking out for you.

  7. You don't have to worry.    When you are hungry or tired or cold or sick, I feed you and give you a chance to rest and provide you warm clothes and get you medicine. When you have a need, I have always done and will always do my best to fulfill it. Remember last week when you didn't feel well and I held you and comforted you and gave you ibuprofen? Remember this morning when you said you wanted breakfast and you didn't have to worry about whether or not there would be food to eat or whether I would actually give it to you? Well, keep those things and all the others in your mind when you start to get upset and impatient and distressed about something you need. I always do my best to take care of you, and you have no need to worry.

  8. I love you.    This is probably not even necessary to say since it has been mentioned in just about every other lesson above, but I'm going to repeat it one more time in case you didn't get it. I love you. You are a part of me. You stole a serious portion of my heart when you were created almost three years ago, and you continue to amaze me every day with the things you learn and the person you are becoming. Everything I do for you, every action I take, every lesson I teach you, and everything I give or withhold or take away is done out of a deep, incomprehensible, unimaginable love I have for you. You are mine, and I want you to know that although I am not always pleased with your behavior and I am sometimes exhausted and frustrated by your inability to do the right thing or remember the lesson I have tried to teach you 2,000 times already, there is nothing you can ever do to earn or lose my love. You are and always will be my child, and I love you.
I am, by no means, remotely close to being as patient, merciful, wise, just, and good as God the creator of the universe, but if I can feel these things toward my children (even in an imperfect, limited sense), how much more are they likely to be true about God the creator of my soul and very being. Now, I need to try to start acting less like a toddler and more like an obedient child who brings honor and glory and joy to her Father. 

Interesting, refining process this whole parenthood thing can be.

Monday, September 2

Conversations With a 2 Year Old

Brock's verbal skills have really been fascinating to Blaine and me over the past month. He has been a talker from kind of an early age (this was him saying some of the alphabet at 17 months), and it has always been neat to me to hear him learning new words and new rules of language. Over the past few weeks though, it seems like his speech has become so much more grown-up. It's nothing for him to string together a 10-word sentence now, and we can practically have whole conversations with him. It has been really interesting to us because it's like we occasionally get a look into his little mind. Sometimes he just gets stuck in repeat mode though and will only copy what we are saying, which is a little frustrating because it goes something like this:

"Do you need to go potty?"
"Need to go potty"
"Is that a yes or no?"
"Yes or no"
"Brock, do you need to potty?"
"To potty?"
"Ok, go sit on the potty, Brock"
"Noooo, Brock's not need to go potty!"

Aside from those episodes though, we've heard some interesting little sentences lately. I wanted to post them to the blog, one, because I think they're pretty entertaining, but also because I really want to remember what his little toddler self talked like (in case his little teenager self says much less endearing things).

Sometimes we will ask him to pray before bed or before our meals. This is how that goes:
"God, fanks for today, fanks for the food, fank you for Mommy and Daddy and Roman and Brock and Piper. Fanks for play. Amen"
He prays the same thing every time (thanking God for the food even at bedtime). I also like how he thanks God for himself. And that last one, "thanks for play" took us a while to figure out. We thought he was thanking God for the time he got to play or something, but after I blessed the meal one night, we realized what it was he was trying to say: "In Jesus' name I pray"

While eating a snack together in his room one afternoon:
"Mommy, eat the cheez-it!"
"They're all gone."
"Mommy, eat the cheez-it!!"
"We ate them all Brock. There aren't any more in the bowl."
"Mommy! Go downstairs and get some more cheez-its out of the box."
Oh, I wasn't aware you had figured out how that works.

One of my least favorites:
"Hey Mom, Brock's poo-pooed in da floor! I get a BIIIIIGGGGG treat!"
No, son, I'm not sure you've quite figured out how this works yet.

Blaine and I like to ask Brock on random occasions who loves him, and he'll usually go through a list, "Mommys wuvs you; Daddys wuvs you; Jesus wuvs you; Romans wuvs you; Pipers wuvs you" (he always adds an 's' at the end of everyone's name for some reason). This was how it went the other day:
"Hey Brock, who loves you?"
"Tow-maters wuvs you"
We're very into the Cars characters right now.

While having a discussion about how to act around other people:
"Brock, when someone says hi to you, say hi back. If someone is talking to you, be nice to them. Don't say, 'Mommy, Mommy, Mommy' over and over. It makes you seem like a weirdo."
"No, I not a weirdo."
"I know you're not, but when your family or your friends talk to you and you just say Mommy and hide behind me, they might think you're a weirdo."
"No, Mommy, I not a weirdo. Weirdos at church."
Hmmmm.... that is not where I saw this conversation going.

Upon finding a store receipt in the floor:
"Hey Mommy! Here's your twenty-hundred dollars!"
No clue where he got that, but every receipt he finds is "twenty-hundred dollars"

Blaine has always told Brock that blood was just cherry juice, I think in an effort to lessen the fear that comes from a busted lip or scraped knee. The other night at dinner Blaine was trying to explain to Brock why he needed to sit still in his booster seat:
"Son, if you keep rocking forward like that, you might break the strap on your chair. Then if the strap breaks and you're throwing yourself forward, you're going to either fall out of your chair or fall forward and hit your face on the table, and either way there will probably be a lot of cherry juice."
"Oooh, cherry like a ICEE! Can I have a ICEE?"
Blaine always gives him long, detailed explanations and then shakes his head in dismay when he realizes what Brock takes away from them.

"Mommy's gotta eat Roman" when I have to feed Roman

"Look Mommy, Roman's dripping" when Roman spits up

"Hey little brother. Did you sleep good?" when Roman wakes from a nap

And finally...
"Hey Mommy, Brock's making milk. Vooo-tish, voooo-tish..." as he sticks one of my breastpump parts to his stomach and pushes his belly out. (Vooo-tish is a robot/machine noise he learned from his daddy's plethora of sound effects)

I can't wait to see what else we hear from that mouth in the future.