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So, baby is four months old. Don’t ask me how that happened! The time has gone both slow and fast. People always say it goes so quickly, to soak up the moments, not to miss this fleeting time. Did I capture all those newborn photos before the moment passed and he got too big, or cuddle enough instead of trying to get up and get things done, or just savor the moment? If I’m not careful I can be rather obsessive over “moments”, over trying to perfectly balance my role as a homemaker and mommy. So instead I lay on the floor and play with little E, reading, talking, tickling, while I try to keep our home in some semblance of order and food on the table, and then look ahead to the future with anticipation, not holding on to regrets or what-ifs about the past.
He has changed so much since he was a little, squishy, quiet, tiny, blinking newborn. His personality continues to break through as he observes new things and grows in expressions and abilities. He is our little extrovert, smiley, talkative, and cheerful. He takes three naps each day and sleeps 12 hours at night and is a good eater- packing on the chub. He weighs about 14.5 pounds now, and goodness; I never knew thighs could be so adorable, or chubby cheeks so kissable. He loves to read, is using a jumper now, his favorite toy to grasp is a play silk, he recently discovered the ceiling fan, he laughs when tickled, and apparently watching mommy and daddy do HIIT workouts is quiet entertaining. He is getting better at independent playtime, but he definitely prefers to be close enough to mommy to have conversations and share smiles. He’ll spend up to 30 minutes happily in his bouncy chair in the kitchen, watching me cook, as long as he can hear me talk and sing, and smile at him.
Daddy and I are learning a lot… though I’m probably learning the most, what with my fear of man (pride) to help refine me as we make decisions for our unique little boy, and for our family. (Wait, we’re adults? We can do that? Talk about responsibility!) As a first time mom I feel pressure from the general populace to conform to what research suggests, or what method works best for most people. It could be that some of this is self-imposed, or it could be that like me, other young moms are silently crying out for a little grace, a little breathing room to try out new things as they love on their little ones. But with expectations aside, I’m truly grateful for advice and input from “the older women who teach the younger”.
So life has settled into a new normal, a happy, drooly, spit-up-all-over new normal, but we continue to learn and grow as parents to our precious baby. Just like I want to catch those fleeting baby moments before it’s too late, I want to catch on to bad or unnecessary habits before baby is too big… big enough to copy them! Or, to start creating habits that we want him to always remember having in our home. I don’t think we give babies enough credit for how smart they are, so I am of the firm opinion that we can indeed start teaching him things now; through instruction, and through example.
Some things we’ve been working on are:
- Always talking around him as if he can understand everything we are saying… especially if we are talking about him. He may start to pick up on things audibly before we realize it, and we want him to hear things that are positive, not gossip, respectful towards him as an individual, and loving towards each other as his parents. This includes our tone of voice when we get frustrated; making sure we stay in control (good habits regardless that become all the more important with little ears in the home).
- Never copying him when he whines or fusses. It’s such a natural thing to copy babies when they babble and coo, but I found myself doing it when he started to make those “complaining” noises when he was tired or frustrated, and realized that I was either encouraging or mocking him. So we are much quicker to recognize what types of noises we are making, and try our hardest to make sure they are cheerful and appropriate.
- Saying his name when talking to him. I want to get into the habit of getting his attention before asking him a question, or telling him to do something, and that needs to start now.
- We’re trying to be more cautious in music that we play or movies that we watch with him in the room, and we also try not to let him look at or watch an electronic device.
- We’ve also chosen not to have electronic toys in our home, at least not yet. A little baby doesn’t need much to be happy, and when mom isn’t playing with him, his teddy bear, colorful play quilt, books, play silk, and teething toys (oh, and the ceiling fan) are a wonderful source of entertainment.
- Having bible time together each morning. It only takes a few minutes with him being so little, but we read a chapter together, pray for our day and sing a song. As much as I’m able, I want him to remember always having bible time in the morning with mom.
- We don’t use baby talk. And that’s just because… I hate baby talk.
- We’re just starting infant potty training. I have no expectations, but it never hurts to try! If we can save on a few diapers, avoid some blowouts, and help him learn to use the potty at the appropriate time, then I’d say it’s worth it.
- We schedule. There, I said it. And, after the first three months of seemingly constant changes due to travel and growth spurts, we have settled into a nice routine that works very well for E and our family.
I feel like I have so many thoughts, lessons, and emotions going through my mind as I consider how life has changed since our little man arrived, eight days early and ready to meet the world. But really, what it all comes down to is, we are blessed, we are thankful, and we are having so much fun as a family of three.