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Heather's Parenting Journal

Entry Three ~ June 5, 2006
~ May has come and gone already

I am really curious what the connection is between baby and mother. Seriously. I know people have told me there is a 'scent' thing and the baby senses when mommy leaves the room. But, now a mother of 4, I've seen it happen four times. Take a perfectly content baby who has a pretty good schedule down, leave the house and it all goes out the window. My babies always seem to know when I leave. Isabella is getting into a pretty steady sleep pattern of down at 8 or 9 PM and sleeps until at least 4 or 5 AM. She has been doing that for over a month now. Well, I put her down at 8 the other night and left my husband in charge while I ran to the store quickly around 9:30 PM. Normally Isabella would be in a sound sleep by then. No sooner did I pull my car out of the drive and she woke up crying. She knew I left. And this is not the first time. I am convinced if I leave the house, she will not act the way she normally does. When I had her sat for the first time as I volunteered in my son's class the other week, she took a 45-minute nap during a time when she would usually sleep all afternoon. She just knows. That invisible and silent connection between a mom and baby is amazing.

My dad's surgery was postponed in the final hours. Actually, it was about 2 days prior, but nonetheless, he has had to wait to have the cancer surgery for another month and a half. We all took it hard, but his most recent exam revealed there are no significant changes. Prostrate cancer is supposedly rather slow progressing in nature. The surgery was postponed because it is a new type of surgery, robotics, and the doctor wanted the techs better trained. I guess you can't fault for needing more training. The doctor has performed many of these surgeries in other hospitals, but the equipment is brand new to the hospital my dad is going to and to the surgical team. I'll keep you posted on the progress.

School is over as of this week. My son is so excited he is going to be a first grader. I have gotten better about handling the cul-de-sac issues too. Time does help. I've gotten to know the mothers and have even gotten the little girls up from nap to go down and visit and talk with them too. Alex has become really good friends with 2 of the boys down there also.

I've seen a huge change in Isabella this month. She just seems more like a baby. She likes to lie down to sleep with her eyes open. She reaches and plays with her toys. She rolled from her stomach to her back. And she cut 2 teeth! Yes, she also has used them to bite when I nurse. How did she 'know?' Those are such milestones. She is so interactive, smiley, and playful with the other kids too. She just looks older to me. I can't believe it has happened already.

This Sunday, Isabella will be baptized. I have a big party planned with lots of people coming over. The house could use some cleaning and I have to do more organizing, but I feel pretty relaxed about the entire thing. I will get done what I can get done. In addition, I am hosting a 35th birthday party for my husband the next day. His birthday always seems to be glanced over. Last year we had a wedding on his birthday. This year we have a Baptism. So, I know he doesn't have any idea (unless he reads this) that I am planning something.

I don't know if it is having 4 kids, or my age that has changed my perspective on my parenting styles. For instance, I think before, I would have gotten into a total frazzle planning 2 parties back to back (plus Alex's party just 2 weeks ago). But, now I just realize you do what you can do. After all, the party is about celebrating and getting together with friends. My friends don't expect candlelight 7 course meals. Heat and bake pizzas will work out perfectly for Brian's party. And as for the Baptism, my gracious mom has offered to help, and I took her up on it. So, I don't have to do all the cooking. Recognizing your limits just seems to keep things calmer.

I have a friend who has her children choose non-character theme birthday parties. I liked the idea; it makes the child be more creative. So, this year, Alex and I brainstormed and came up with an Olympic birthday party. We invited 10 boys and held 9 different games in the backyard. My husband used spray paint (the kind you use to paint the lines on a soccer field) and made a long jump, a shot put (that we used a rock for), Olympic rings that the boys threw frisbee into, a 3-lane track, water balloon area, and a tug of war line. I went online and ordered real medals and place ribbons for the kids too. You know, it was the same price to buy a real medal on a ribbon for around their neck on the Internet, as it was to get the plastic kind in the party store. I was amazed. And the boys really loved them. Maria has all ready chosen a 'horse' theme. So, I have until July to think up some neat ideas.

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My cousin is pregnant with her first. The graduation party I went back home for was for her youngest brother. Anyway, while I was visiting, she was picking my brain to see how I do it. She is admittedly scared and apprehensive. She fears she won't be able to do the right things. Apparently, her mom (my aunt) has told her that I am the one to talk to because she thinks I am a great mom. I love the compliment, that is fantastic. But, my skills (if you can call it that) are really more of a work in progress and constantly changing. All the kids have required me to come up with new techniques. So, the moment I figure out one, the same thing does not work on the other. So, anyway I talked to her and had her laughing. Apparently, after 4 kids, I make it look like I was 'born' with it. HA. Not even close. She could not believe I did not know how to change a diaper on my first child. But, I had never babysat before and really did not have any younger children around me. So, when we were leaving the hospital and he decided to poop, my husband and I looked at each other and called the nurse back in to show me again. I know, that sounds ridiculous, but it was true. Then I also called my sister-in-law in town to give Alex his first bath because I did not want to hear him cry.

My cousin could not believe all the 'newbie' mom stories I had to share with her. See, most of it is not instinct, it is learned by trial and error. Some of it is picked up on by other moms that I admire. And most of all, if you find something that works, stick with it until it doesn't. So, I guess the moral of the story is the best of moms get there by learning to recognize their limits, don't do it alone, but get help when they need it. And don't be so hard on yourself. You have to take it one day at a time. You do what you can do. You establish a network of people you trust their parenting styles. And you make up some of your own. No one is perfect, but if you can give it your best, and do it with all your heart, you'll do just fine.

Have a wonderful month!

Popsicle Bath: Have you ever wondered how to both get your kids into the tub excitedly AND give them that Popsicle they have begged all day for? Occasionally, I do a Popsicle bath. I announce it is Popsicle bath time and all the kids run as fast as they can up the stairs. The popsicles melt and run down their bellies, hands, and faces BUT they are in the tub. No mess on the couches, no mess on the table, no mess on the clothes. After the popsicles are gone, they get clean. TA-DA . . . clean, happy kids! You can't do it all the time, but it's fun and special to do every once in a while. It is also one of those tricks you can keep in your hat to use when you really need them clean for something you are doing early the next morning.

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