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Heather's Parenting Journal

Entry Four ~ July, 2006
~ June has come, gone, and left an impression

Isabella's baptismHappy Summer! I feel busier now than when the kids were in school. My house has a rather 'lived in' look too with piles of laundry touching the sky. I really think they could reach it too. Oh well. As long as we all have something to put on, I guess I'll get to it eventually. I think I am going to start on some touch-up painting soon (not that I don't have enough other projects to do . . . like cleaning). I think the Magic Eraser has done all its 'magic' and now it is time to paint from about Sydney's reach on down to the baseboards. And if I'm really ambitious, my trim needs painted white again. We'll see what I am up for.

This summer I signed Alex and Maria up for swim lessons. They are thrilled about learning to swim. I think I'll sign them up for one more session before fall to improve their skills even more. When my husband was 6 his younger brother died in a drowning accident. Sadly, knowing how to swim probably would not have saved him because he went into an open well. But, I still think it is a valuable skill to have. This is Sydney's first experience in a daycare setting (at the YMCA while the kids are swimming). The first few times were horrible. She is used to the comfort of Maria the mother hen as her companion. The Y has a 20 minute cry policy, and then they come and get you. The first time she cried for about 19 1/2 minutes. But, since then she has gone in happily to 'play with friends' as we call it. Isabella goes in the same room, but the toddlers and babies are separated by a glass wall and French door. So, if Sydney is so inclined she can see her sister through the glass. But I doubt she looks though.

Isabella's baptismOk, I'm going to quickly give you my opinions on something I've heard about breastfeeding. The other day I read in the newspaper here that there is a new pro-breastfeeding campaign going on. It is lobbying formula manufacturers to put 'warning' labels on the formula (similar to cigarette warnings) not only urging mothers to breastfeed, but actually warning them not to formula feed. Give me a break! First, for those who have not read my pregnancy journal, I do breastfeed. BUT, I am totally against this warning campaign. Don't we as mothers have enough guilt and worry on our minds? Personally, I think the campaign will cause undue stress and detriment to new moms. I know just the article upset me . . . and I do breastfeed. I've been a working mom. I am now a stay at home mom. I respect the working and respect the staying at home. It is tough, both ways. And although the books say pumping and working is easy, I did not find that to be true. It depends on the environment. There are great pumping systems out there, but it is still a mental game. In the beginning I had to pump while taking a warm bath with my son sitting in the bouncy seat next to me. Eventually, I could do it with a picture, and then I progressed to not needing much. But, I had my son with me at work for 9 months. Most working moms are back on the job without their infant in 8 weeks or less. I am just disgusted with the campaign. Yes, I love breastfeeding, and it works for me, but I think it is a woman's choice and it all depends on the situation what feeding methods are best for you and your child. I truly believe a less stressed mother is a better mother. Never forget that. If it means feeding formula, do it with pride. If it means supplementing - do it. And if you stick to exclusive breastfeeding, that is also good. The important thing is the baby is loved and fed. The rest is just extras. Do what you can and know you are doing your best.

I'm working on Alex's reading and writing skills over the summer. We signed up at the library for a reading program. He reads 10 books and gets a prize from the library. Then for writing, he is doing creative type of writing to my mom and dad. They are also writing back to him. He mailed his first letter out the other day. It was a simple letter and was about 3 sentences long, but he had such a great time. I can't wait for their response.

My dad's surgery was successful! The cancer is gone. The surgery took almost 9 hours, but following surgery he did not even require any pain medication. He feels rather good for such a long surgery and his recovery is going wonderfully. The surgery was a new procedure called Robotics. It is similar to laparoscopy, but even more advanced (so I'm told). They put 5 small incisions in his abdomen and it was through the incisions the robot operated. The doctor sat behind a glass wall operating a machine similar to playing a computer game. The entire prostrate was cut free, and then removed. This type of procedure is supposed to reduce recovery time, reduce hospital stay, and reduce any post-op complications.

I've had problems getting my son (now 7) to bed and to stay in bed ever since he was born. Or at least it feels that long. Well, I developed a new tool, and I think this time it is going to do the trick. I call them bedtime tickets. He and Maria get 3 tickets to start off the night. They are color coded like a stop light (green, yellow, and red). Those tickets are "free get out of bed" passes. The 'no get out of bed rule' even applies to bathroom trips and more hugs. Like I said, he was finding every excuse to stay up later. So, I printed up and posted our 'bedtime routine' on his wall. This way he can see everything we do at night, including giving hugs and kisses, bathroom breaks, brushing teeth, reading, and prayers. The tickets are then tacked on his wall next to his bed.

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The reward is if he does not use any of his 3 tickets, he gets to put a star on a chart I hung on the refrigerator. After 5 stars, he gets an 'alone night' with mom and dad. The most recent alone night included a board game, snacks, and music. He had fun. Maria likes the extra time alone with us too. The consequences if he uses all 3 tickets up in the night and then comes down for a fourth time without a ticket, will be he does not get any tickets the next night. So far we've not had to do that, although one night he did hand in the red ticket. If he would come down on a no ticket night (which is the result of coming down 4 times the previous night), he would lose special play privileges. The magic behind this program is HE gets to make the decision to come down the steps or not and has visual chances that he must consider his options, take off his wall, and hand to us. So far it is working really nicely. Maria has never used a ticket and she just keeps getting her alone nights every 5 days. Alex has had one alone night and is almost to his second.

The other week, I traveled with the 4 kids by myself to a 50th wedding anniversary party. My husband was stuck doing weekend work. The trip was about 4 hours away and we even stayed in a hotel. That was probably the best thing I could have done for myself. I proved to myself I could do something I was a little apprehensive to tackle. I proved that I am not handicapped by traveling with 4, eating out alone, going to a party with them, or even staying in a hotel with them alone. Other then Sydney really not wanting to go to bed, it was a wonderful experience. The kids enjoyed the trip and we called it a mini vacation because a hotel was involved. We had a great time together.

Have a fantastic Month!

That infamous baby book:
Are you the kind of person who has a baby book itemized down to the last detail on your first child and not much of a token for the second? I have a trick that has helped me on the second, third, and now fourth baby book. I keep a little gift type bag or even a little basket somewhere where I can get to it pretty easily. I put keepsakes in it like cards, pictures I print off, and even scraps of paper noting first teeth, or experiences I want to remember. I date them all when they go in, and when the bag gets full, take an evening and go through it. It is fun to look at the past month or two of the baby's growth and put the special items down in the book. My bag is pretty full right now, so soon I'll get to tackling that last book.

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