Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Parenting our Children

One of the hardest tasks I believe in life is being a parent.  And while it is true that it is infinitely rewarding, a blessing like no other and one of the the greatest gifts in life, none of that takes away from the fact that it is incredibly hard work.

Not only are we as a society inundated with the latest and greatest trends in every aspect of parenting in our day to day lives, those trends often contradict what research proved to be the greatest idea just a few months or couple years prior, but we're also such an incredibly competitive society that I feel far too often we didn't live in the moment.  We don't truly sit down and reflect and enjoy the life that is going on around us.

I often wonder if parenting 80 years ago was easier?  No facebook, no McDonald's or Starbucks on every corner, no debates about vaccines, no electronics or cameras.  Just lots and lots of time together.  Of course, infant and child mortality rates were higher, it wasn't as easy to get parenting advice or suggestions and how would I survive without my tens of thousands of photographs documenting everything going on?

I do not believe there is such a thing as a perfect parent.  I believe that to be a good parent, you have to mean it.  You have to want to parent, you have to have that desire to be a good parent.  That's it.  I think that if you really want to be a good parent, want to parent and put forth that energy and effort, you will be a good parent.  Granted, you may make mistakes, but all parents do.  At one time or another all parents are going to send their kid to school with a tummy ache, because they are obviously faking it, only to pick them up an hour later covered in puke.  Or something like that.  It is going to happen to all of us.

There are three lessons or values I want to instill in my children.  I truly believe these are the most important they can know or learn.  And I respect that not everyone under the sun is going to agree with me ;)  I also believe that they are all related to each other.  In no particular order they are: Empathy, Courage and Family.

I think that one of the reasons we have such a high bully rate these days is because of a lack of empathy in our children.  I think that empathy can be taught at a really young age in very basic terms that can be built upon as time passes.  I truly believe that if more people practiced empathy we would be a nicer society.  At the end of the day, what is the arm in teaching our society at a young age what empathy means?

I believe children today are lacking courage.  I'm torn on why I believe this true.  Part of me believes that there is so much patting on the back that someone is doing a great job at something, they end up too scared to try something new because they may not be good at it when they first begin.  Yet, another part of me believes that we give up too easy as a society.  If something is hard, we stop doing it.  We give up and do something else.  I think kids should be encouraged to take risks (as in singing in front of a group, not rock climbing without a helmet), and know that there is a good chance they will not be good at it to begin with, and that's ok.  I think they should also be given the strength and courage to go against the norm and not be part of the crowd.  Fitting in does not equal normalcy.  Some of the greatest minds in the world had the courage to be different.  I also think that if more kids were more courageous and empathetic, they would be willing to stand up for the kids getting bullied.

And lastly, family.  Family, I've written about before.  Family is amazing.  It is a place where you can be yourself, you can lean for support, you can always count on and that can make the hugest difference in your life.  But, family is also work.  You cannot expect family to always be there for you without you being there for family.  And I believe family is consistent, strong, loving, supportive and builds you up instead of down.  Family is not always made of blood and not all blood makes a family.  A family is a supportive group, who is there for one another regardless of distance or age.  I am so incredibly blessed that my kids have the amazing extended family that they have, through blood and through strong ties, but I hope I have taught them it requires effort, work and a whole lotta love.

Our children are our legacy.  We have the unique pleasure, opportunity and responsibility to shape them into a strong community that will take over the world.  What do you feel are the most important things to instill in our children?

Monday, November 28, 2011

Lack of Sleep

Samantha started out a terrible sleeper and transformed into a "fantastic most of the time" sleeper when we moved her into her crib a few months ago.

This has changed.  I'm not sure why, but it has.

It all started last Friday night.  My sister and I had this bright idea to do a craft show on Saturday morning, and I figured since it was so super close to my house, I could let Samantha sleep like she normally did until 7-8 then Daddy could bring her over to me.

Samantha went to sleep around 9:30 Friday night and I stayed up until 1 working on last minute prep.  I crawled into bed, closed my eyes and the crying started.  It was 2:30 AM and I thought maybe if I just let her lay with us, she'll go back to sleep.  She didn't.  She didn't go back to sleep until 8:00 AM.

That Saturday was a really long day.  Saturday night, she went to sleep around 10 and did awesome through the night.  Of course, Kaitlyn woke up at 5, eager for breakfast and playing and demanded I get up as well.  Sunday came and went and Samantha went to sleep at 10:30 or so.  Monday through Friday should have been great sleeping in days since Kaitlyn was out of school.  They were anything but.

Sunday night, bed at 10:30, awake at 2:30 until 7, Kaitlyn up by 8.
Monday night, bed at 11:00, awake at 2:30 until 6:30, Kaitlyn up by 10.
Tuesday night, bed at 11:00, awake at 2;30 until 8, Kaitlyn up at 7.
Wednesday night, bed at 11:30, awake at 2:30 until 7, Kaitlyn up at 7.
Thursday night, bed at 1:30 AM!!!!!  awake at 4:30 until 9, Kaitlyn up at 8
Friday night, bed at 11:30, awake at 2:30 until about 8, Kaitlyn up at 10
Saturday night, bed at 12:00 AM, awake at 2:30, until 8:30, Kaitlyn up at 10.
Sunday night, bed at 12:00 AM and thankfully slept until 7.

At about 8 PM, I start rocking her, singing to her and easing her into the world of sleep.  She fights it so hard.  She used to just lull to sleep.

I think I've reached the point where we have to give up rocking to sleep and make her learn to sleep on her own.  :(  I'm not looking forward to it, she is one stubborn kid!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Kaitlyn is 7

* My goal is to start having 5 new blogs a week, lets see if I can do it and not always feel so behind :) *

9 days ago, our itty bitty baby girl who took us by surprise when I took my first ever pregnancy test and read that exciting "pregnant" on it, who blessed us with an easy pregnancy even after our car accident with the drunk driver, who took her time getting here 3 days late, who encouraged us to up our wedding date drastically so we could be married before her arrival, who was such an easy baby that I was ready for another within the first 4 months and who made us parents turned 7.

I don't feel old enough to have a 7 year old.  I don't feel old enough to have a husband, much less one that turns 31 tomorrow.  I don't feel old enough to have accomplished the things that we have, and I sure as heck don't feel nearly 30 years old.  I feel 12.  Sometimes 16.  Sometimes 80.  Isn't that weird how our mind does that?  It tries to coincide how we feel with what the calendar tells us we should?

But, I digress.

Kaitlyn, our big girl version of Samantha in so many ways, has so much personality.  She's outgoing, energetic, empathetic to nearly a fault, eager to please and has enough sass some days where it's enough to institute a 6 PM bedtime and deeply fear puberty only to be a perfect angel the next day.  She's developed her mama's ability to think faster than her lips can move and talks a mile a minute for hours on end.  She'll start a conversation about the most off the wall things and the oddest of times.  Her idea of quiet time is taking a breath in-between sentences.

Kaitlyn has lost all of her front baby teeth, a total of 8 this year with most of the adult teeth nearly half way here when she lost the baby one.  I suppose she was determined to either skip the awkward stage or make it as short as possible.  She looks so much older than she did last year.  She doesn't look little girl in the slightest and has grown so tall.  She's become more interested in her looks and being cute for school or places her friends might be.  She's over grocery shopping and running errands if she can stay home and watch TV or play outside.

We spent her birthday how she wanted.  We had bacon and eggs for breakfast, over medium because she is much too grown for scrambled she tells us, we went to Chuck E. Cheese for lunch, had her parent teacher conference and followed it up with girl scouts (where she was overly-tired and overly toddler like as a result) and some rest time after before our families got together to celebrate her birthday with spaghetti tacos in her honor.

Kaitlyn's teacher is amazing.  She spent her primary education in the GATE program and being at the head of her class and she recognizes the things she hated about it and vows not to repeat those mistakes with her bright students.  She thinks Kaitlyn is exceptionally bright and said that while it's apparent she's amazing in reading and her English skills, it's easy to overlook how advanced she is in math.  She said that she is often the first one done and since she refuses to force her to be teacher's pet and always help around the classroom, she gives her the option of curling up with a good book, helping others or helping her.  Kaitlyn chooses a mix of each on a regular basis.  She was thankful we switched her to this school and complimented Kaitlyn on the work she has done with another student.

Kevin is Kaitlyn's best friend at this school.  Kevin is Asian and Kaitlyn talks about him all the time.  Often times she gets upset because while they are great friends and Kevin is always making things for her to bring home, he is not her boyfriend and hates when the other kids tease them as such.  2 kids were reprimanded a couple weeks ago for trying to get them to kiss by pushing them together.  Kaitlyn did not tolerate that behavior and scolded them for being inappropriate she said.  Her teacher says it's just a really good relationship, a strong friendship that has really helped Kevin this year.

While I knew that Kevin was her good friend and she had fun playing with him, what I did not know was that Kevin speaks limited English and was painfully shy to the point where he was without friends and was struggling in school.  Kaitlyn has been helping him with math, reading and teaching him English.  She's helped him make friends and according to her teacher he's thriving on a level he wasn't before.

I think that made us the proudest of all, more proud than of her perfect report card or near perfect behavior.  Her teacher did say she got onto her twice for chit chatting, and both times the look of disappointment on Kaitlyn's face and how upset she got nearly drove Mrs. to tears and she vowed not to do it again.

Our princess is 7.  In 9 years she'll be driving.  In 11 she'll be headed off to college.  Where's the button to make time slow down?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Can you even believe it?!?!?!?!

Our little miracle is no longer an itty bitty baby girl!

She's an official member of the 1 year old club!  She is toddling around like a pro and so stinkin' cute that it's so hard to tell her no!

Somehow, I blinked one day, and all of this happened.  Maybe, I need to blink less often.

Samantha turned a year old last Wednesday.  She is up to 20 lbs and 11 oz, which is in the 50% time and nearly triple what her birth weight was!  She is also up to 30.5 inches tall, which is in the 90%.  She's like mama though, where it's more of a long torso than long legs.  Kaitlyn is the same way.  Her head is 46.6 cm which is also 90% and I believe every bit of it!

Her hair is getting so much thicker and a tad bit darker.  I think she'll have a light honey brown hair, much less blonde than Kaitlyn is.  She's completely off of bottles (yay!) and we're working on moving from sippy cups to straws and cups with straws.  It's going ok so far, but we do fall back on sippy cups a lot.  Especially at night.  She's on half formula and half milk and obviously thriving.

Samantha is definitely a carnivore.  Where Kaitlyn has always preferred vegetables over everything else, Samantha will throw everything on the floor if she sees some chicken somewhere.  She can demolish a whole chicken breast on her own and still look for more.  She's eating 3 meals a day and a few snacks with her formula or milk in between those.

And she's talking!  She repeats a lot of what you tell her.  Her favorite words are still "dada" and "What's that?" while pointing.  Especially at food.

Samantha is also walking! WooHoo!  Everywhere.  She is determined to run and has a few scratches on her face to prove it.  But, she is a toe walker, not that she walks on her toes, but more that she grips with her toes and refuses to walk with shoes on.  So, we need to work on that.  She wants to go as fast as the dogs and her sister.  I keep trying to tell her she will soon enough, but she must not believe me.

She's also a great sleeper.  We get 2 naps a day, the first is usually about 2 hours and the second is about 45 minutes.  You can tell when she is tired because she gets really mad and moody.  She usually sleeps 10-12 hours a night and wakes up so happy.

Her and Kaitlyn had a great Halloween!  Samantha went to a few doors, but was really impatient waiting for people to open them.  She had absolutely no patience for any of that lol.  Kaitlyn only likes to do a couple of blocks.  She prefers to pass out candy, so we were out for maybe an hour before they were done.

This past Saturday, we had their birthday party and I think everyone had a great time!

A year has gone by.  An entire year, and it feels like just yesterday we were waiting and waiting and waiting for that darned OR to open up so that she can be delivered.  Isn't it amazing how a year can feel like a blink of an eye, but 4 years can feel like a lifetime?