Perpetuating the Myth

Every year my parents give me money with which to purchase presents for the kids for Christmas.  As I was wrapping a few this morning, I was happy for my kids knowing that these items were things they had asked for and really wanted.  As I was making the tags to identify Grandma and Grandpa as the giver of the gift, I realized that I had yielded the title of “Giver of Awesome Toys or Other Frivolous Entertainment” to them, making them much cooler than Bill and I in my children’s eyes.

“Thanks for the socks, Mom.  It will be lovely to have warm toes.  Grandpa, you ROCK! How did you ever guess I wanted a talking Princess Celestia?  I LOVE her; she will be my BFF forever!!! I heart you, Grandpa!”

Of course, grandparents should be cooler than parents.  And since Christmas is brought to us through their generosity (and the generosity of my in-laws who also select wonderful presents), I guess the myth is not too far from the reality.

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BTW, I have seen so many posts about avoiding materialism during this season.  About giving time, not toys.  About giving handmade things or useful things.  About not spending so much time shopping or stressing about “stuff.”  I concur with all these things, for the most part.

But at the same time…

I spend all day with my kids.  All day, every day.  Much of it is even fun and recreational.  I can’t give any more time.

We’ve nailed the handmade and useful categories.  We’re all about minimizing the useless belongings, because we have to move those items every few years.  And I am the first one to pull out the fabric stash to make something we want or need, instead of shopping for it.

And we don’t generally buy the kids “stuff” throughout the year.  Birthdays and Christmas, that’s usually it.  New books?  We go to the library.  Fashionable slouchy boots?  Um, no.  New jersey of your favorite football team?  Christmas is the one time of year that my kids can ask for “stuff” and have their requests seriously considered.

So, avoid consumerism if that’s your vice.  But for me, this is the one time a year that I let myself dream.  And I’m pretty sure that our family of 9 will still spend less on Christmas than many families half our size.

George at 4 months

Hi!

I never did a “George at 3 months” blog post.  George is now 4 1/2 months, so I need to hurry before “George at 4 months” is past history.

We’ve been busy.  High school takes a lot of time, for both Fritz and me.  Always, the first child navigating a new experience requires more time from me than the next child doing the same thing.  Once I know what I’m doing, I can direct activities with more speed.  But the first time through, I try to get it right, so I read everything.  Add that to the demands of an infant, 4 other students, piano/guitar/trumpet/violin lessons, and 3 – 5 days a week soccer practice, and there is no wondering why I only did 3 blog posts in the entire month of October.

I’d much rather look at my siblings than the camera

At two months, George was very skinny, and I had been working hard to increase my milk supply and reduce the supplement I was giving him.  The pediatrician wanted to see him again at 3 months, just to check his weight.  I remember that I went at least 3 weeks straight without a single bottle, checking his weight every few days with my own baby scale.  I remember closely reading about weight gains in The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding and constantly calculating his growth to confirm he was within normal range.  I would not let my pride interfere with his health, so if he had not been gaining enough, I would have supplemented.  Although his gain was at the lower end of normal, I was pretty happy that we had managed to get to that point.

OK.  This is getting old.

And then we went to the pediatrician, and she frowned a serious frown, and told me that he should be gaining 2 pounds per month – the top end of what I had understood to be normal – and if he didn’t do better by his 4 month check up, we’d have to consider blood work or other testing to see what was wrong with him!

This is the last one, and then I’m going to start rolling, which is much more fun.

I was upset.  I thought perhaps my book had a typo.  Perhaps I read it wrong (8 or 9 times).  I went home and checked it.  I went online to various other sources to confirm it.  Two pounds per month was ideal, but as low as one pound per month was still considered normal for exclusively breastfeeding. I was right after all.

Nevertheless, I decided to give the child one bottle per day of 4 ounces, just to see how he would do.  I wanted to soothe the concerns of the doctor, and honestly, the child could use the extra calories.  Although his weight gain was normal, he was still at zero-percent on the growth chart for weight.  That one little bottle was all he needed to pack on the ounces at more than one every day.  In fact, by his 4 month check-up, he had gained two and a half pounds, and made it onto the charts at the 9th percentile (or 5th, depending on which chart you use, the CDC or the WHO…I’ve learned tons about these charts, if anyone cares to know.  Interesting stuff).

Teenage boy + infant brother + camera = silliness
More fun than algebra

Unfortunately, the triage nurse who weighed him was inexperienced (or incompetent).  Not only did she measure his head incorrectly, managing to get a smaller circumference than at 3 months, she also could not read her own handwriting and could not remember what the scale had read.  She decided that the number she had written must have been 5.1 kg, instead of the 5.7 kg it actually was.  Those 600 g are nearly one and a half pounds, meaning that it looked as though, once again, my baby had only gained 1 pound in a month.

Sweater (and hat) by Nana (best photos I could get)

The doctor came in with this mis-information and announced George would have to be re-weighed.  She was hot.  I could see “failure to thrive” alarms going off in her head, concerns of abuse and/or neglect.  She did ask me, though, if I remembered his weight, which I did, of course.  And since the nurse had gotten the head circumference wrong, she quickly focused her wrath on the nurse instead of me…especially once she entered his real weight into the computer and saw that he was now, in fact, on the charts.

The kicker, though, was when I boldly challenged her assertion that my baby must gain 2 pounds per month.  I insisted that 1 pound was also normal.  She asked for my sources, and, having been prepared for this, chose the most respectable source I had seen: Dr. Sears.

“Dr. Sears is unreliable,” she retorted.

I was momentarily speechless.

“Um.  How about La Leche?” I asked tentatively, wondering what I would do if that source were also lacking gravitas.

She decided that they were acceptable, but was still skeptical of my parenting skills, since I
quoted Dr. Sears.  I later (thank you Facebook friends) realized that Dr. Robert Sears, author of The Vaccine Book, is probably who/what she was finding unreliable.  I had been thinking about Dr. William Sears, his father, but either way, I can not see how a doctor’s researched opinion about vaccines would make his knowledge about weight gains in breastfed babies unreliable.  They are doctors, too.  And with loads of experience.

What’s up, Mom?

Aw, no, not more photos.
Seriously, I have had enough.
OK, one smile, and then I’m going to start screaming.

Side note: like Eve drawn to The Forbidden Fruit, the doctor’s comments convinced me to read that vaccine book, and I have no idea why anyone would find it anti-vaccine.  I don’t think there was a single vaccine that he said not to get.  He does raise some alarms about the level of aluminum in the vaccines, but his solution is to space the shots out and avoid the shots with 2 or 3 or more vaccines in one – so more shots, more often, than what is usually done.  I highly recommend this book for anyone with children.  It’s good to know about these diseases, and the risks of getting the shots vs. the risks of not getting the shots.

I do think things have changed in 5 years, the last time I had a child getting shots, because I have never had a child have as strong a reaction to the vaccines as George has had.  At his 2 month shots, he had a low-grade fever and was cranky, as they all were, but with him it went on for over a week.  It also upset his tummy badly.  It might have been coincidence, however, he had the exact same reaction after his 4 month shots.  And when I mean cranky and upset tummy, I mean hours of colicky behavior every day for 7-9 days.  So, at his 6 month check-up, he’s only going to get the DTaP, and we’ll get the others at his 9 month.  I can’t wait to tell the doctor that I’m spacing the vaccines because Dr. Sears suggested it.  I’m aiming to be her favorite parent.

OK.  Enough about the obnoxious doctor.  George is growing and doing well.  He’s inquisitive, and a wriggly, squirmy bundle of energy.  He is the center of joy in this household.  He loves his siblings, and nothing makes a grouchy teenager happier than seeing his little brother’s face light up with delight just because his big brother is looking at him.

Maybe I should get my son a foosball table?

He is vocalizing now, after being a very quiet newborn.  If he isn’t laughing or screeching “dadadada”, he is doing his best imitation of a pterodactyl: “SQUAWK SQUAWK!”  Getting photos of him during our family photo shoot session this past weekend was a challenge, because he wanted to roll over.  The photographer had to be quick.

It won’t be long before he’s mobile, and then the adventure really starts.  Last night, I had just put some dishes from the oven on the bar-height counter in the kitchen from whence I planned to serve dinner buffet-style.  Not realizing what I had done, Fritz sat at the bar, while holding George, and quicker than anything, the child had reached out and grabbed the dish, getting 2nd degree burns on 4 fingers of his right hand.  {sigh} It was a bad-mommy moment, but just a warning that we’re going to have to be on top of things with this one.

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I had a bunch of photos to upload and share, but alas!  I seem to have reached some blogger maximum of free storage and they want me to pay to upgrade.  Um.  No.

I think this may be the end of this blog, folks.

Not the end of blogging.  Just the end of blogging here, after nearly eight and a half years of having this space.  Wow.  I don’t quite know what to do about that.

Suggestions?  WordPress better?  Or stick with Blogger?  Or something else?

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One last photo.  This one was taken on a typical day.  He had been fussy and unable to go down for a good nap all day long.  I finally got him to sleep about a half hour before we had to leave for one of the kids’ activities.  My favorite rule of parenting an infant – never wake a sleeping baby – gets violated often with this poor kid.

Right before I picked him up.

 Can you see the difference a few weeks make?  This photo and the ones of him with the sunglasses were taken about a week before he turned 4 months.  The ones with Billy were done about two weeks later.  He’s getting thick.

Mary’s birthday

I’m rocking with the blog posts today.  And then it’ll be three more weeks of silence…

The day after we went to the beach was Mary’s 5th birthday.  She had been talking and talking and talking about this day for nearly a year – ever since Billy’s birthday back in February.  Billy has the first birthday of the year; Mary has the last birthday of the year.  Logically, we all know our birthdays come one year apart.  Mary, a typical 4-5 year old, does not see it that way.  She only understands that she is the last one every year to have a birthday and feels we have done this intentionally to make her suffer.

To make matters slightly worse, we hadn’t yet met any little girls her age, so even a modest gathering in her honor was not going to happen.

Fortunately, Bill was off that Monday, so he took her out to lunch somewhere with a play area.  They might have even gone to the mall to ride the carousel.  While they were gone, we decorated the dining room with a birthday banner (this is way more decorating than any of my children ever get).  I made sure she had a pile a presents – nothing very expensive.  And we had soda, which my kids will tell you is a very special treat here.  Bill called when he was almost home, and we turned off all the lights and hid.  She was so startled when we yelled “surprise” that she collapsed on the floor and cried.

Oops.

She quickly recovered.  And we had a lovely party.

I don’t know how it is possible to take such blurry pictures with my Nikon D90, a lovely and clever camera, but my stand-in photographer managed to do so.  These are the best of the bunch.

SURPRISE!!!!

Sorry!  We didn’t mean to scare you!

The birthday girl

The Gulf in October

Bill must have taken this shot.  I think it’s the best photo of the bunch.  It’s hard to catch a bird in flight in focus (this one is close), and to do so with an awesome sky in the background is great luck.

 The rest are shown in chronological order as the afternoon became evening.

I loved seeing so many people gather on the beach, despite the approaching storm, to see the sun go down.  Even with the clouds, we managed to see a spectacular display of color.  I look forward to our next trip on a hopefully less cloudy evening.

Beach Day

A month ago, we went to the beach.  I had been wanting to go since we moved here, ever since my neighbor mentioned watching the sunset at the beach.  Practically all of my beach going has been on the East Coast where the sun sets behind you as you watch the tide roll in.  Watching the sun set over the water sounded quite lovely, and not quite as tiring as getting up to watch the sun rise.

Of course, the first few months we were here, we were busy unpacking and dealing with a newborn.  Plus it was too hot to move, too hot to go to the beach, especially for a newborn.

Then school and kid activities started.  The only free days we had were Sundays, and Bill had to go to work the next day.  Staying out until 10 pm or later was not a good way to start the week.  Finally, Bill had Columbus Day off, so we spontaneously decided that the Sunday before was the day to go.

Fritz and Billy were camping that Saturday at a retreat with our Diocese, so we “surprised” them with our plans upon pick up Sunday morning.  They were unhappy.  I understood to some extent.  Spend two nights away from home, and on the way back you think about a nice hot shower, mom’s home cooking, and relaxing in front of the TV watching a football game.  But I think one son’s comparing us to slave owners went a bit too far.  Really, how many slaves owners “forced” their help to spend the afternoon and evening playing on the beach?

This is not a beach picture, just a random shot: Pirate George.

In the shade

Unfortunately, the shade had to block the view of the Gulf.

A soldier’s tan is similar to a farmer’s tan.

The Gulf is much more peaceful than the Atlantic Ocean.

It was a gorgeous day.

George was still pretty skinny at 3 months.

Skinny, but cute.

Love his smiles.

Entrenched

Ready for the rising tide

Buried

Copycat

As the sun went down

There was a 40% chance of rain, but we went anyway, because at that time, there was always a 40% chance of rain.  The clouds did roll in, but the rain held off until we got back to the car.  And then it poured, for a half hour.  That’s the way it is in the summer/early fall down here.

I saved the landscape photos for another blog post, coming up next.

In the end, my grumpy sons apologized and thanked us for a great day.  It was so very hard to block out that family time, but very much worth the effort.

ACU Christmas Stockings

Woohoo!  I have already sold 2 ACU Army Christmas stockings, and just got a request for a third.  And this was just from people doing Google searches.  I have a very limited supply, because my time to sew is non-existent.  If you know anyone who is interested, they can check out this blog post.  The big ones are $23 and the little ones are $15.  Postage is $5.35.