Friday, March 28, 2014

Greyden - 20 months!

20 months! Time for an update!

Greyden Roy,

Oh how we love you, little boy! You are keeping us on our toes, but you bring so much joy to our home.

You are a very perky little boy, eager to look around and meet people and learn. You seem to be getting over your stranger anxiety, and now instead of crying you’ll somewhat cautiously but completely willingly walk into your Sunday school room at church. You frequently chat with strangers when we’re out and about (you’ll say “hi!” and then respond to any questions they ask, and even sometimes jabber at them), and you talk, talk, talk, all the time now at home. You blow my mind with your vocabulary and how well you just seem too young in my eyes to be able to say the things you do. Sometimes I wonder if you walked so late because you were focusing so hard on learning other things (such as speaking). Who knows. You are now putting three words together, such as “Mommy up please.” My favorite of your three-word phrases are “I got it!”, “I did it!”, “there you go,” and “I love you.”

You are going through a phase where you respond to everything with a very bratty-sounding “NO!”. When we ask if this is your favorite word, you reply “Uh huh.” We’re working on reeling in your behaviors. In the last month you have tried to run from me in several public places, you’ve yelled “No!” at me and hit me with both hands at the same time, you’ve taken things from your brother quite a few times and yelled “No!” at him when he asks for them back, along with many other similar situations. You also love to whine to get out of the store carts, run in and out of the clothing racks, and rearrange store shelves. So far, a tight squeeze on your arm or hand and a stern, “NO, we do NOT do that,” has worked for the most part for most behaviors. I’ll also say things such as, “If you do not come here, you have to ride in the stroller,” threaten to put you in your crib if we’re at home, etc. I try to stay firm with discipline until I see your face drop a bit, showing that you understand that your behavior is not acceptable. I also make you apologize if your behavior was directed toward another person. I have to use such different tactics with you than I did (and do) with your older brother, because you are a lot more outwardly defiant than he was. Oh, he threw his fits and still does, but they’ve always tended to occur at home where he feels secure. You, on the other hand, have no issues with showing your true colors in public, and so I’m working to build my box of tricks for public discipline.

Your motor skills are coming right along considering how late you started walking, and you’re even starting to run (which is super cute!). You still love to climb, and so we have to watch you carefully whenever there’s something climbable nearby.

You love to do everything your big brother does and tend to follow him around the house. Just in the last week or so, he has finally started to see you as somewhat of a peer and is beginning to let you join in on his activities, or at least watch. I cannot tell you how excited this makes my mommy heart. I want so badly for you two to play together and at least be acquaintances if not friends.

Your favorite time to wake up over the last couple of weeks is whenever I wake up. Apparently you prefer to supervise my morning quiet time. I pile food on your high chair tray and hope you’ll give me a few moments of silence, but most days you just jabber, jabber, jabber.

You are still a ridiculously picky eater. It is a daily battle to decide whether to let you starve or to just feed you what you want (bread, cheese, mac n cheese, fruit packs, and bananas are your preferences). You still won’t eat many veggies, but you will inhale a can of green beans. You’ve seen your older brother eat a lot of raw broccoli (he loves it raw, not cooked, so weird), and so now you’ll request some too. I’ll put it on your tray and you’ll exclaim, “BOCKIE!!” and you’ll put the little florets in your mouth. Then you’ll scrunch up your nose and spit them out. Then you’ll see Krew eating them and once again exclaim, “BOCKIE!!” and you’ll put the florets in your mouth again. Followed by nose scrunch and spit. You’re trying, you really are, but you just don’t like them. I really feel it’s this way with many other foods, too.

Your daddy and I were getting slightly worried about your obsession with electronics, so we’ve pretty much eliminated them from your life for the time-being. This includes iPad, iPhone, and TV. You get maybe five minutes per day, if that. I am relieved to say that within a couple days you stopped requesting them 24/7. You still find them and request them, but you no longer fall apart when the answer is “no” (which it usually is), and you’re now doing much better at playing by yourself with your toys. Thank goodness.

Along those lines, you have always enjoyed books, but since we took away the electronics, books are your new big thing. You bring us books all day long. And expect us to read them to you. If we set you down with one and tell you we need to do something, please read to yourself, you fall to pieces. You’ve decided that you must have us read them to you or it’s just no good. All day we hear, “Mommy READ!” “Daddy READ!” “BOOK!” “AGAIN!” (And yes, most words are said very loudly with extreme enthusiasm. That’s your way of speaking about most things.)

You still want to be held when we want you to walk, and you want to walk when we want to carry you. You make the cutest facial expressions that crack us both up. And you love the dogs, telling them what to do, and giving them treats. We often find you sneaking into the dog cabinet, trying to pull out some food for them.

You go to bed very easily most nights. We do pajamas, brush teeth, turn on the sound maker and the night light, turn off the overhead light, sing a song, pray, and you go down. Maybe a ten minute ordeal if that. It’s wonderful.

Your hair is still stick straight and fine, very difficult to cut but I’m doing my best. It’s a darker blonde now due to wintertime and lack of sun, and some days I’d question if I could call it light brown. We’ll see what happens this spring and summer when the sun rays hit it again.

Your little birth mark on the ridge of your nose continues to fade, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s close to gone by the time you turn 2. Your top incisors have broken through, but we’re still waiting on the bottom ones, so you now have 14 teeth. You are wearing size 18-24 month shirts, 18 month bottoms, we’re squeezing you into size 3 diapers but you should probably be in size 4, and you wear larger size 4 and smaller size 5 shoes. You seem to have a longer torso than Krew did and so we’ve had to go up in shirt sizes just to keep your little belly hidden, even though everything but the length in 12-18 month shirts fits you great.

Alright well you’re hanging by my side, begging me to read you books right now, so I better end this. Happy 20 months little man. :)

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Krewson Lee: 4-year-old interview

On Monday I did a 4-year-old interview with Krew. I had seen others do this, and I thought it was such a neat idea, so I opened up another blog I found with some questions for 4-year-olds and went to town.

The interview didn't go quite as I anticipated. A few notes:

1. I tell Krew that pepperoni pizza is not a fruit, it's a food. I want to assure you that I fully realize that fruit is a food too, and that pepperoni pizza falls into other categories besides "food." However, on the spot, that's what came out of my mouth.

2. I have no idea what banana peas are.

3. I was not expecting Krew to ask ME questions.

4. At one point he says, "Blahsh**," which I believe is a word he made up and not an attempt at cursing. I decided to let it slide rather than discuss the use of appropriate language in the middle of his 4-year-old interview.

5. I was not expecting Rogan (one of our dogs) to whine and grumble through the whole interview. Please excuse my "Rogan, NO!"s.

6. A "rollover" is Krew's word for a "roll-up" which is a tortilla filled with deli meat and cheese.

7. I am fully aware that "What's your favorite clothes to wear?" is not proper English.

8. Although I may seem calm when he refuses to answer questions and won't stop singing, you can't see my face, and believe me, I was losing my patience at many points. Watching this video made me realize that he really didn't delay that long and that I do need to work on my overreactiveness.

9. His left foot is apparently his best friend.

10. If you make it far enough into the video, Grey will make a guest appearance. Yay!

Enjoy. :)

Monday, March 17, 2014

The day the life guard rescued my son during swim lessons. (yes. for real.)

Two weeks ago, Krew was terrified to put his face in the water. This obviously made swimming in pools difficult, and jumping into pools pretty much impossible. Which really put a damper on going to the pool in the summer.

Knowing that we were going to Florida the end of March, Dave and I decided to put Krew in swim lessons twice a week for the month leading up to our trip. We were hoping it would help prep him for a little more fun in the water.

The first two lessons, Krew made a little progress, but was still freaking out if he had to put his face under water. The swim instructor told all the parents to get their children swim goggles, so we followed his instructions. We had no idea what a difference it would make. We put Krew in the bathtub that night and showed him how to put his face underwater with the goggles, and the change in his attitude was amazing. All of a sudden he realized how awesome being underwater was, and he did a complete 180. In fact, he became OBSESSED. He wanted to stay in the bathtub for forever that night, taking a deep breath and throwing his his head into the water, over and over and over. Then he began requesting to take a bath at least twice a day after that.

Since then, he has done AWESOME at swim lessons. The change really was mind-boggling. At the next lesson after buying the goggles, the instructor chuckled quite a bit and informed us that we had created a "monster." Krew now jumps off the side of the pool, can float on his back, and can swim probably 8 ft on his front with his face underwater. Today he even rolled (with the instructor's help) from his front to his back while floating and then swam for a short bit doing the front crawl with his arms. When it isn't his turn to do something during lessons, he's constantly underwater, looking around and practicing floating, only coming up to take a breath and go back down. Last night, he even started putting his head under water in the bathtub WITHOUT his goggles, opening his eyes! Dave and I are completely baffled. The kid has gotten so brave.

Apparently a little too brave.

Today at swim lessons, I was chatting with another woman, glancing up once in a while to see if it was Krew's turn to do something. One particular time when I looked up, I didn't see Krew in his normal place on the steps. The instructor was busy with another child, closer to me. I stood up and still couldn't see Krew. My heart started to race. I dropped Greyden, who was in my lap, at the feet of the woman next to me and quickly jogged the few feet forward to the edge of the pool, my eyes darting everywhere looking for my child.

Then I saw Krew, on the other side of the instructor, blocked from my view by the instructor's body, and completely out of the instructor's eye shot. All but the top of his head was under water, and he was rapidly kicking with his legs, hands in front of him clasped to the end of his floating kick board. He was facing the side of the pool, away from the steps where I knew he could touch the bottom. A quick assessment told me he was fine for the moment, but I didn't think he had the strength or ability to hold his breath long enough to get back to the steps. I didn't want to make a huge scene, especially for Krew's sake, but he was out of my arm's reach, on the other side of the instructor, so I said loudly to the instructor, crouched next to him at the side of the pool, "Can you please get him??", and pointed my finger at Krew. The instructor didn't respond, deeply focused on working with other the child in front of him and oblivious to my voice due to the loudness in the room. I saw Krew change directions to face the steps, so I knew he was consciously swimming toward the steps, but I knew my little guy couldn't hold his breath so long. "Please GET HIM," I said, my panic starting to rise, poking the instructor and jutting my finger at my underwater son. The instructor still didn't respond immediately, and at once I had a million possibilities running through my head, from screaming at the instructor to full on jumping over him into the pool myself. The instructor finally looked up at me, and what was happening must have registered based on my face, and as he twisted to see Krew, we were both thrown back by a huge SPLASH as the life guard jumped into the water and scooped Krew into her arms.

As Krew came above water in the life guard's arms, he seemed unfazed and wasn't choking on water or anything (such a relief). She placed him on the safe steps and climbed out of the water, her clothes drenched. My heart had fallen through my stomach and I was shaking. The instructor apologized to the life guard, and immediately turned to Krew and assessed what had happened. Krew's kick board had apparently floated away, and Krew, being so sure in his swimming abilities, had decided to go after it. The instructor talked with him about how we need to make sure we follow the rules and don't go past the line on the bottom step. Krew was completely calm up until the point that he realized he had disappointed the instructor. Then he looked at me, and I saw his face register the tears that had unavoidably started streaming down my face in the aftermath of my panic. It only took a split second for his face to fall and I knew that he was crying inside his goggles.

The instructor sympathetically smiled at me and asked if I was ok. I nodded yes, and he apologized, and said next time please just yell at him. I fumbled out a few words but I was too shaken up to say much. He assured me that I was much more traumatized than Krew was, and I knew he was right. Krew hadn't seemed scared at all.

Krew sat on the steps, crying, just staring at me, brokenhearted. I went over to him and pulled his goggles off his eyes, and he sobbed to me, "I broke the rules!!!" I reassured him it was ok, rubbing my hands up and down his little wet arms, telling him that we all make mistakes, that no one was upset with him, but he just cried and cried. I finally put his goggles back over his eyes and told him to get back in and swim. The instructor called him at that moment, told him it was his turn, and the kid must really love swimming because he stopped crying long enough to take his turn. But as soon as his turn was over, he sat on the steps and looked at me and began crying again. The last five minutes of the lesson went this way, with him pulling himself together emotionally just long enough to take his turn swimming and then falling apart into tears again as soon as his turn was over.

We talked in the locker room afterward, and I asked if he had been scared. He said no. I asked if he had just been swimming, and he nodded. I told him that we had all thought he couldn't breathe, and so we all got scared. Based on his blank stare, I could tell that no thought of being unable to breathe had ever crossed his mind. Sweet boy. He then cried nearly the whole way home, so disappointed in himself. This kid sure takes things hard.

Now that I'm home, I can't help but have the scenario run through my head over and over. Even though it all came out fine, I keep wondering, did I do my part as a parent? Should I have reacted more strongly initially, based on the fact that the life guard jumped in after him? Or was I correct in assuming that he was fine at that moment, based on the fact that he hadn't swallowed any water and didn't seem scared at all afterward?

It's one of those moments that really makes you step back and assess yourself as a parent. Did I react the way I should have in an emergency, if it even was an emergency? There's no way to practice for these scenarios...the moment your child is at swimming lessons and under water next to the unaware instructor and you have to decide if he's ok or not...and so what are we as parents supposed to do??

So there you have it. The story of my typically overly cautious water-loving child nearly drowning himself at swim lessons because he decided to be brave and take a risk.

Let me tell you, parenting is not for the faint of heart.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Lent: What I'm Giving Up (uh....Nothing.)

It's the season of Lent, the time when many people give up something in their life from Ash Wednesday through Easter.

I've never been one to really give up anything during this time of year. First - it wasn't required by the Christian tradition in which I was raised (United Methodist). Second - I can never decide what to give up.

Oh, I've had thoughts. Chocolate (I would struggle), coffee (I would flat out die), sleeping in (already recently gave that up on most mornings). I could pick something up - exercise, reading my Bible more, etc. - but none of these trigger a "yes, that's the thing" feeling inside of me.  When I think of any of them, to give them up particularly for this season feels like something I would be forcing upon myself, not as a devotion to God but rather as an action I feel like I SHOULD be doing regardless of whether my heart is in it. (Similar to my feelings on believer's baptism.)

So honestly, I just don't do it.

Our church even had a sweet, simple Ash Wednesday service where our pastor suggested looking deep inside ourselves for things we struggle with and need to turn over to God.  We were to write a prayer to give those things to Him.

Ridiculous me, I couldn't think of anything.  I know I'm a sinner, I know I have ten million things wrong with me, I know there are a bagillion ways I could improve, but yet my little card in my hand remained blank.  What is wrong with me??

Does anyone else struggle like this during this season?

In any case, I am at least reading two Lent devotionals every day.

The first is the devotion our teaching pastor, Steve, is writing.  You can find it here:

The second is a devotion that a friend in my women's quiet time accountability group suggested.  You can find it here:

Any other recommendations?  What are you giving up, if anything?

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Happy 4th Birthday, Krew!!

My firstborn turns four years old today!

Krewson Lee,

I am so excited for you on your fourth birthday, to celebrate your four years of life and make you feel super special for a day. I have planned a lot of little things today to make you smile - hopefully they work. :)

You are such a lovable boy, full of inquisitiveness and silliness both. You are growing into quite the character, and I’m definitely feeling as if I’m raising a little person now rather than a toddler. You can have deep, contemplative conversations with your daddy and me (on Sunday you wanted to know how it was possible that God made us but we made Him [through Jesus’ birth]...a question I wasn’t expecting for, oh, another 10 years or so). You rattle our brains with your constants “whys” and “hows” about everything. But then you make us chuckle when you throw in words like “eiver” (for “even”) and “uhprize!” (for “surprise!) and help to remind us of how naive and young you still are.

When excited, you are loud, crazy, and bounce off the walls. You love to scream and screech and jump off the furniture and flip your body around doing crazy dance/karate combo moves. But overall I would describe your character as sensitive, emotional, cautious, timid, and pensive. I know I’ve said this many times before (it seems to be a recurring theme), but I’ve found myself overwhelmed with your emotions, moods, and “shyness.” Fortunately, I’ve recently found a book on “the highly sensitive child” and the description fits you perfectly. I’m reading through the book carefully, being sure to weigh each recommendation against what I believe to be biblical parenting, but I’m finding myself feeling SOOOO relieved and so much more understanding of your personality!! So many things are starting to make more sense, such as your extreme sensitivity to warm water, bright lights, smells, and itchy clothing, why you take ten minutes to answer a simple question such as “Which of us do you want to pray?”, why you freak out when thrown into new or crowded situations, why you notice such subtleties such as how a guitarist places their fingers when strumming a guitar. I have even found my eyes watering up at the realization that there is a common thread behind many of your behaviors, that there is guidance for how to parent you, and that I’m not alone in my struggles with what to do. It’s such a relief. I’ve even decided that you are not “shy,” rather, you are “timid,” and I’ve begun using this word to describe your “shy” behavior to new people. “Timid” suggests that you need to feel safe and confident before proceeding, while “shy” suggests that you just need to be familiar with a person before you’ll start participating. You are definitely the former, not the latter, and I hope that using “timid” will better guide people in interactions with you.

We’ve been having troubles getting you to fall asleep at night (you’ll lay in bed until 10:30pm sometimes, wide awake, staring at the ceiling) and so we’ve pretty much eliminated your naps. This means that if we happen to be in the car in the evening, I often have to tickle your legs and feet the whole trip to keep you from passing out (and thus taking a forbidden nap).

You love to play hide and seek, practice karate moves, make believe, swing (a current obsession), put together puzzles, dance to music, build (blocks, legos, lincoln logs, magnetic toys, etc.) and play a whole assortment of sports. You love to help with anything and everything your daddy and I are doing. Yard work, cooking, baking, cleaning, laundry, shoveling the driveway, you name it.

You’re still a little guy, measuring at about 38.5 inches tall (~13th percentile) and around 35 lbs (~45th percentile). Over the last year or so, you drastically slimmed down and lost most of your baby fat, and I think much of the reason your weight is higher in percentiles than your height is that you have broad bones.  Your feet have not grown a whole lot in the last year, and you’re still wearing some shoes you could wear a year ago (size 10 mostly). You’re wearing mostly 3t shirts and 3t bottoms.

You’ve become a more picky eater, which may be the reason for your loss of baby fat haha. One day you’ll chow a certain meal down, and the next time I make it you’ll scrunch up your nose and refuse to eat. It causes struggles for me, because until you were about 3 ½ you were such a good eater. I haven’t established my parenting philosophy for picky eaters yet, but I’m working on it as fast as I can, because your little brother is way worse than you. I get so frustrated at meal times!!

We’ve signed you up for preschool in the fall, you started swim lessons on Monday, and you are taking a month and a half of dance classes starting in April. And so begins our life of scheduled children’s activities. Goodbye freedom, it was nice knowing you.

As for the organized activities and lessons, your daddy and I put a lot of prep work into getting you there and willing to participate, thanks to that “highly sensitive timidity” I mentioned above. For example, on Monday you had your first swim lesson. You were very reluctant at the thought of it, so I first took you to the pool last week, and we walked around the building and watched some other kids swimming. As we left, you told me you were too shy to do the lessons. So your daddy and I talked it up the whole weekend, about how awesome and exciting it was going to be. You still weren’t convinced. Then on Monday we bribed you with a candy treat and told you if you did well during the first lesson, you could have the candy afterwards. Thanks to the candy, you put on your swimsuit, went to the pool, and prepped for the lesson without much argument. About ten minutes into the lesson, you were still shrugging away the instructor (and based on my observations, thoroughly explaining to him why you didn’t want to do what he asked but would perform an alternative action for him at your recommendation) and so we held up the candy in your line of vision and waved it around. Boy, that changed your attitude quickly! :) You started (somewhat reluctantly) doing everything the instructor requested and even jumped off the side into his arms, letting your head go under water (!!). Afterward you were so proud and had a huge grin on your face, and you told us you had fun. So bribing with candy we will do. I’ve always thought the bribing was something that shouldn’t be done, that children need to learn to do things that make them uncomfortable without any type of extrinsic reward, but I’m also learning that your level of anxiety for such activities seems to be MUCH higher than most other children and so giving you some extra incentive helps you to overcome your fears. If that’s what it takes, I will do it. Watching my child have an emotional breakdown over swim lessons, Sunday school classes, and similar situations is just not easy for me, especially when I have flashbacks to feeling the same way (and I did!). What matters is that you are overcoming your fears and getting to do activities that I KNOW you enjoy. That was one recommendation in the book I’m reading about highly sensitive children: don’t push them too hard in general, but if you know it’s a situation that down the road they’ll be glad you pushed, then do it. I feel that way about swim lessons, and also about dance lessons which you’ll start in April. Both sets of lessons are short in length and commitment (4-6 weeks), so if they do flop that’s ok. But already I’m seeing (at least with swim lessons) that we’re doing the right thing and that you’re happy after you get over the initial angst.

We are doing a little get-together birthday “party” for you this weekend at a park, and I hope it makes you feel special. We are just having a few of your friends and their families come meet us out. We’re going to let you kids run around and play and then sing to you. There isn’t really a “theme” to the party, but we did have to pick out plates and napkins. I really wanted something little boyish, such as race cars or dinosaurs, but you got attached to these ridiculous Ninja Turtle plates and napkins in Target and I could NOT change your mind. After many attempts at convincing you otherwise, I finally gave in, because it is your birthday after all. I’m going to have to plan a better strategy next year. :)

Alright little boy, you are awake and running around downstairs now, so it’s time for me to end this blog post. Love you SO much, your daddy and I are so proud of you, and we can’t wait to see what the next year holds. :)