Thursday, January 27, 2011

Our Days...and a little Hudson love

Sleepy Hudson watching George...notice his Maroon jersey
Rocking my big little bundle, Athan, to sleep
Hudson in his other uniform, his favorite footie PJs, playing with Tow Mater

I enjoy tracking what our days look like, so here's what a typical day looks like for us right now. Now that Athan can stay awake longer (2.5, then 3, then 3.5 hours), we have much more freedom and activity.

Athan's usually awake first, then Hudson, and it's between 7 and 8. We all eat breakfast together (some days Jay is home and reads a daily Psalm to us), and then get the boys dressed. To start the day, I encourage Hudson to play alone in his room, while I keep Athan with me and do my "jobs" around the house. Athan naps something like 9:30-10:30. That is a special time for me and Hudson. He even knows it as "Mommy/Hudson special time." We usually sit at the table and do some activity- cutting, drawing, games (or just play whatever he wants) and have a snack. I love that time. After Athan wakes up and eats, we try to head out. We take a walk, go to the park, or venture to the library.

Then it's lunch time. Jay tries to come home two days a week, and our friend Sarah comes over on Wednesdays. After lunch, it's puzzles, books, and bed for Hudson, then eat and bed for Athan. Hudson usually wakes first, and we cuddle up on the couch while watching Curious George (gotta love that little monkey!). Then Athan wakes up as well around 4:00. By this point in the day, I feel like we're in the home stretch!

Jay is usually home around 5:30, and he plays with the boys while I make dinner. It's been dinner at 6:30 for years now. I actually feel guilty if I get dinner on the table at 6:33 (my own pressure, not my wonderful husband's!). Jay cleans the dishes, and by this time Athan starts to feel fussy. I bathe him, feed him, and then Jay puts him to bed. One ritual we enjoy now is gathering together before Athan goes to sleep. We all sit near the rocking chair next to his crib and discuss our "favorite part of the day," and Jay prays for the boys. Hudson gets a little longer to play before bath, a puzzle, books, and bed.

While Athan's changes are much more apparent, Hudson continues to grow and learn new things as well. His literacy skills are multiplying rapidly. He can recognize h's ("one line up, and one little hill") and has memorized several books (In the Snow, Firehouse, and parts of Curious George.) He enjoys "reading" them to us. He has parts to most of his books memorized and will correct you if they are misread. On the other hand, there are still 2 words that he just cannot say, and I love that. He says "firnana" for banana, and "firdult" for adult. He's also much more independent in dressing himself, which means asking for his football jersey and Lighting McQueen light-up shoes daily. He faithfully takes his plate to the kitchen sink, puts his shoes and jacket away when coming inside, and puts his toys away when changing activities. He does actually hear me! Currently, Hudson's favorite play activities are firemen (trucks or actual dress up), still loving the CARS guys, trains, football, soccer, drums, and this animal candyland-type game my mom got him.

I mentioned walks above. A big change in our family is that Hudson is now an actual walker. Ever since we got our dog Bailey, Jay and I looked forward to our daily walk after work. When Hudson was born, he just got added to that. Now the walks have changed, and poor Bailey and even Jay are often not included. When it's just me and the boys, it's so nice for Hudson to walk next to me, and we play lots of looking/nature games.

My blessings are so apparent to me right now. I love this precious time with my boys, and am grateful for the priviledge of caring for them myself.

Athan's Seventh Month

Maybe I should have been more creative in coming up with titles for Athan's monthly development. But this far into his first year I'm not changing it...

Here are the Athan changes and firsts this past month:

Athan combined the art of strength and balance enough to become an official "sitter" this month. We still keep an extra pillow behind him when we walk away, or Hudson often volunteers to be Athan's pillow when he is sitting on his own. He enjoys the view and activities this new position brings.

He also started real solid foods: peas, sweet potatoes, pears, prunes, and squash have been his first tastes. And, no, I'm not a super mom like both of my sisters who make it themselves. I opt for jarred food instead.

A first I wish he didn't achieve recently was his first real sickness. RSV and an ear infection slowed us down for awhile. We thanked God that neither were very severe. Breathing treatments and lots of medicine helped him to recover.

In the way of our daily routine, we moved to just 2 naps a day. I expected this to come much later, as it did for Hudson, but Athan seemed ready to make the change as he can stay awake longer now. He would have difficulty falling asleep for his third nap, awake alert in the middle of the night, and many days that late nap was coming at an awkward time (5:30ish). This has moved his bed time up earlier on some days. Most of the time it's somewhere between 7:30 and 8:00.

I must say I wasn't too sad about reaching the half year milestone, but now that he's on the other side of it, I'm not liking this as much. I don't want this stage to be over so soon! He is such a sweet, happy baby and loves to smile at people. He is my little cuddler. I never would have thought that we would still swaddle him! When he gets tired, he just wants to nuzzle in close and keeps turning his head until you get him situated just right. He loves his big brother and strains his head to watch what Hudson (or Bailey) does. We adore our baby A!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Preschool Wise

I recently read Ezzo and Bucknam's On Becoming Preschool Wise, and here's my take on the book.

What I liked about it:

* The respect for and understanding of children. Ezzo and Bucknam recommend teaching your children the why of expected behavior. They state, "positive development takes place when parents build into their child's conscience the reason why 'right is right' and 'wrong is wrong.' " I've always been a fan of that way of thinking.

* The emphasis on positive discipline and language. The author's place a great emphasis on training and expectations, not just correction.

* The recognition of child development and cognition, which lead to reasonable expectations. The authors explain that around 3 years of age "your child's intellect is sufficiently developed to the extent that he is ready to receive the why of moral training." Before that parents should understand that their job is really about guiding outward behavior only.

Not so crazy about these things:

* The book felt a bit gimicky- they referenced the others book in their series way too much. At one point I just laughed out loud as Ezzo and Bucknam listed about 10 adjectives describing children whose parents follow the "wise" series. Not only does this sound boastful, it sets people like me up for high expectations of their children and eventual frustration when your children aren't perfect.

* Schedules and routines as described in the book are good things to think about, but too structured for me. Although I love structure and schedules, I don't need more pressure put on us. Much of our day is already set with sleeping and eating times, but I like to let the rest of our play time just loosely happen. (That said, I was challenged to try to teach Hudson how to play with his toys for a longer amount of time in order to get him to a more creative, productive type of play. I agree not all play has the same benefits- random, chaotic play is not as valuable as working with one toy for a longer period of time.)

* Many of the examples were vague or even irrelevant (a story about a 6 and 8 year old- what was that about?). In the second appendix I did find an answer to this that satisfied me. The authors described (through a really strange fairy tale story) the way that parents should approach disciplining their children. They state,
"take whatever you believe about life and turn these values into goals. Let the goals determine your training priorities, and use methods that facilitate your goals while meeting your child's needs." I probably should have read that part first because I appreciated how they said it was really up to each family to decide what was most important to them in guiding their children.

Overall, I did find it to be a valuable read and a useful tool in considering how I parent my preschooler. I rolled my eyes a few times, but was glad I persevered in reading it. We've already implemented their ideas about children's interruptions and, as I said, helping Hudson have more productive, creative play by suggesting he start the day with time in his room alone with his toys.

Thus far, my favorite parenting books have been The Baby Whisperer by Tracy Hogg and Making the Terrible Twos Terrific by John Rosemond, but this one is probably second tier. There are not nearly as many books available for preschoolers as there are for babies, so I was thankful for it for that reason at least.