Category Archives: parenting

Growing up fast

I don’t know what it is. Perhaps it is the fact that he is, chronologically, 4 years old. It could also be, possibly, that I am working full-time again and don’t have the gift of witnessing every little development anymore. Or maybe it’s just what happens to kids sometimes.

I feel as if my child is growing up too quickly.

It seems like just last month, I had a very large baby. He was still in diapers (pull-ups) most of the time, when you handed him a pencil, he drew discernible shapes, but mostly just doodles.

But a couple of days ago, he produced this:

No more doodles. These are pencil scratchings with MEANING.

The top was a collaborative effort; I wrote the G, he wrote the A, V and I, and I finished it off with the N. Later on, he practiced some more and produced the second masterpiece (as well as the purposeful but cryptic doodles along the bottom).

All by himself.

I still remember when he required assistance staying upright and now he is communicating on an advanced level. Soon he’ll be writing e-mails. And maybe not too long from now, I’ll be blocking social networking sites (do I have to go into detail about why I don’t believe elementary- and middle-schoolers don’t belong on Facebook or Twitter?).

My mother still has old notebooks that I doodled in when I was about the same age as Gavin. And maybe because it’s special to her, it’s special to me, too. But for some reason, it’s finally sinking in that we don’t have a baby anymore.

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Hardcore about being 4

The Crispy Bata has turned 4 in the last week, and for some reason it is almost as if someone took my 3-year-old and replaced him with and identical-looking but differently acting 4-year-old.

Red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting and do-it-yourself gummi bear decorations.

For example, the child who once was so resistant to even going near a toilet has basically not needed a diaper in the past 5 days. Iz am amazed at the difference in him. It’s as if he has never even seen a diaper or know what it’s used for. When we were at the supermarket, I asked him if he had to potty (because I didn’t want to leave a cart full of perishables in an aisle while trying to locate a bathroom), and it was like he was offended that I would ask. Because DUH, he would tell me when he had to go!

We were even more surprised when, at a time that all 3 of us were slightly sick with a cold, G woke up in the middle of the night and announced, “I have to go potty.” I was so shocked that he would even do that (especially since he had been wearing a pull-up to bed). In the past he would have just peed in his pull-up without waking up. I was so tired that I told him if he wanted to potty, he had to do it by himself. Half-awake, I heard him go into the bathroom, pull his stool up to the adult toilet, sit down, pee, and then flush. If I had had more energy, I would have stayed up and cheered. As it was, he crawled back into bed with me and fell asleep.

He did this twice, 2 nights in a row. The second time, B was conscious enough to witness it. The previous night he had been sleeping, and I’m pretty sure he thought I dreamed it or something when I told him about it.

What with the new potty-learning skills under his belt, I didn’t want to push anything else new, such as transitioning him to his own room … But this insane new child that has been traded for our old one actually suggested sleeping in his own room himself several time. Of course, he didn’t actually sleep there — he ended up coming back to his regular spot in our bed. But it was definitely a change from the boy who was scared of even being in that room alone.

The boy who was scared of the doctor’s office last year willingly followed all directions that the doctor and the nurse gave him. The instructions during the hearing test were confusing for him, but he even sat still for the shots –until the needle pierced his skin, and then he started screaming, “I don’t like this! I changed my mind! I don’t want shots anymore!”

He has even insisted on dressing and undressing himself (with some minimal help while his huge melon is stuck inside a shirt, so he can’t tell that I’m helping). When he was creeping up on his 4th birthday, we asked him to do things like use the potty and he would respond, “I’ll do that when I’m 4.” We tried to explain to him that he had to practice.

My other theory, besides my son being replaced by a clone, is that he really just needed to get comfortable mentally with the idea of potty-training. By giving him a deadline of FOUR YEARS OLD, with about 2-3 months notice, he was able to use that time to slowly get comfortable with the fact that at that point, we would expect him to act out this particular behavior. Although we would probably have gone easy had he been unable to do it, in his mind it was absolute: “Four-year-olds do not wear diapers. Four-year-olds use the toilet.”

In a way it’s a very sophisticated way of thinking, considering he’s 4. But he’s taking being 4 very seriously. I’m hoping this is a sign of more good things to come.

This potty chart has been posted in the bathroom since May. About 70% of the stickers have been acquired in the past 2 weeks. There were no stickers rewarded for those middle-of-the-night potty visits, or potty use at daycare.

Sometimes the rewards of parenting is about small victories

My precocious, intelligent son can count to 13 (to 30 with some help), knows all his ABC’s, as well as the sounds that each of those letters make, and he remembers things that happened when he was barely 2 years old.

At 6 months old, we briefly tried elimination communication. It worked, but only for about a month.

And yet as we come upon his 4th birthday less than 2 weeks from now, he is not even close to potty-trained.

That’s right: I’m admitting to the whole wide Internet that my almost-4-year-old is not potty-trained. I try not to mention it because inevitably I get either judgmental looks (and heavy silence) and/or ignorant remarks. Neither of which help the situation.

He was just starting to get potty-trained last year when I was laid off from my job, and therefore his routine was basically turned on end. Although he enjoyed being home with me most of the time, both of us transitioning to an at-home situation made for very poor potty training environment. Then he went through a contrary stage, which can only be described as the terrible 3’s (he got over it, thankfully). And then we moved.

An entire year full of transitions is just a difficult time for a child to be potty-training, so he just decided he wasn’t even going to try.

What I know about my son’s disposition is that he knows what he can do — and what he believes he can’t do, he won’t try for fear of failure. (Sounds a lot like me, actually.) Despite a lot of coaxing, praising, bribing, and cajoling, he just would not sit on the potty at the right times to do the right things.

An attempt around December 2009, before we moved. Unsuccessful.

Recently, I taped a potty chart at child’s eye level in our guest bathroom. We bought a brand-new truck potty (basically it makes a “vroom-vroom” sound when something hits the bottom of the bowl). I told G that when he acquired 10 stickers on his chart, he got to choose a toy from Target. And he acquired stickers by going pee or poop in the potty.

I think I put up that potty chart sometime in June. Today, G acquired his 10th sticker (and his 11th!) and got to open the Leapfrog Tag that my father had bought for him this past weekend.

I have to say, this made me feel pretty good, especially when he used the potty a second time. In the past year or so, there have been many times when I have felt a failure. Failing at keeping a job, failing at being an effective, successful stay-at-home mother, failing at helping my child reach the simple milestone of potty-training. It doesn’t matter that he’s one of the smartest children I know, that he has a sense of humor to rival his father’s, that he kisses my face and tells me every day “I love you, Mama,” that he can put together sounds in words that basically means he’s doing some rudimentary reading. This one thing, the darn potty, has kept me from feeling like anything like a good parent.

Today, I experienced the feeling of a small victory, and I realize that the feeling is still not much more exciting than any other day. And then it struck me: parenting isn’t about anything huge. Most parents don’t have kids who win Nobel prizes, or become President of any country — or even a company. It’s about the little things that prove that sometimes, they’re hearing what we say, following our examples, and incorporating our beliefs and values.

I’m going to try to remember this feeling and this revelation, and hope that our lives are full of small victories — and that I’m observant enough to recognize them.

The Lazy Girls’ Reasons for Breastfeeding

In honor of World Breastfeeding Week (August 1-7), I’m resurrecting our blog. Hurray, right? YAY!

Although my son has been weaned for over a year, I still think back fondly to those 2 1/2 years that he could be comforted by nursing. The benefits of breastfeeding have been touted in the news over and over again; do you guys really need to hear that? No. Mostly because many women? Are STILL not listening. They come up with excuses why they didn’t even try, or worse, that the medical facility that they gave birth in didn’t offer any support for it.

Those are all issues that are too big for me to deal with, but what’s easy for me is to share with you why I breastfed my son.

It’s because I. Am. Lazy.

What? Breastfeeding takes so much of your time! The baby is attached to you 24/7! How do you ever get anything done? You might say that. But if you just think about it as a 10-15 pound growth on your breast and carry on with your day, it’s not so bad.

Let me start over because that might sound gross to some (all) of you. I should just make a list. Here you go, Kat’s Reasons Why Breastfeeding is the Lazy and Easy Way to Feed Your Child:

1. You don’t have to pack anything. Seriously, NOTHING. Well, OK, you need to pack diapers so you can catch what comes out after. I never packed a nursing cover (jackets, burp cloths, or my own shirt usually sufficed), I never packed pacifiers (after the 4th month, when G would just reject them by spitting them out), bottles, formula, or anything like that. So easy!

This is what a milk coma looks like.

2. Because you don’t have to pack anything, there is nothing to forget at home or have to buy at the store at 2 in the morning. Listen, almost anyone who knows me will tell you that besides being lazy, I have a horrible memory problem. I’d forget my head if it weren’t screwed on, and I’d forget my boobs at home if they weren’t permanently attached. When G started eating solids, I’d always forget to pack snacks for him, which is why so many people saw me nursing in public. Breast milk is always fresh, always available, doesn’t run out (and require Daddy to run to the grocery store in the middle of the night) and never forgotten at home.

3. It doesn’t take as long. Yes, it takes about 4-6 weeks to “get the hang of it,” and bottle-feeding is very straightforward from the word go. But I believe that the initial time and patience to learn how to breastfeed again appeals to my lazy side. Why? Once again, if G was crying or required any kind of comfort, all I had to do was lay him in my lap. By the time he was 8 months, he would stop crying before he even latched on because he figured out what was coming. This is why I think breast milk has magic in it. It can stop almost any healthy child from crying. Seriously. TRY IT. It takes less than 3 seconds to place your child in your lap and whip out your breast (yeah, by the time G was 3 months old, I could really do it that quickly!).

I really appreciated this time aspect when G was waking up every 2 hours in the middle of the night. I wondered how I would have gotten any sleep at all if I had to prepare a bottle for him every time. (Also add to this the fact that I am also clumsy as well as lazy. I bet I’d drop an uncapped milk bottle at least once a night.) Actually, I would have probably sent my husband to do it. Because of this time aspect, in the first 3 months of G’s life, my husband only had to wake up 3-4 times to help me. Since he was still working full-time during the day, I felt he should get his sleep at night. G and I napped during the day.

4. I don’t have to do as much washing. If I had to choose 2 chores that I don’t hate, it’s laundry and washing dishes — but only those hard-working, type-A people enjoy cleaning. I am not one of those people. When G was in school, yes, I had to wash bottles, but there were definitely fewer of them than if he had bottle-fed full-time. Also, breast milk stains, whether in the bottle or on clothes, are easier to get out of clothes than formula or milk stains, or any food or dirt stains. You just throw it in the wash and let the detergent take care of it.

5. Related to this is the fact that breastfed poops don’t stink as bad and are easier to wash. As someone who did a lot of babysitting for extra money, I’ve changed my share of diapers. And phew, were they stinky! My son was the first exclusively-breastfed diaper that I had changed, and guess what? The smell ain’t so bad. AT ALL. The best description I’ve heard of is buttered popcorn. Yes, it really does smell like buttered popcorn! Also, in the unfortunate event that you get baby poop on the baby’s clothes or heaven forbid, on YOUR clothes, you know what you do, lazy girl? Just throw those clothes in the washing machine. You don’t even have to rinse it out first! It also means that there are fewer clothes ruined. (Not that they can wear them for very long; if my baby is normal, then he grew out of clothes so quickly, he wore some things barely once.)

6. It’s cheaper. Do I really need to pull out that chart that shows how much families spend on formula for the first year? I found a website that says it costs $1,000-$2,300 for the first year on formula. But that doesn’t even take into account the water (to mix with the formula as well as to wash the bottles), the bottles, and the things you need to clean the bottles. Cheaper is cheaper is cheaper is FREE (especially if you don’t need to pump). Breastfeeding is free. In tough economic times, anything you can get for free is good (well, almost anything). Sure, I ate like a hungry gorilla for the first 6 months of my son’s life, so we might have spent a bit more on food — but not $2,300 worth of food. Which brings me to my next point:

7. It’s a great weight-loss program. It’s not just about how breastfeeding contracts the uterus (which it does — it’s that thing inside your abdomen area that causes what I fondly refer to as the “mom pooch”), but I found that I ate much better when I was breastfeeding than when I wasn’t. Basically, my subconscious told me, “Whatever you’re putting in your mouth eventually goes into your child’s mouth, too.” I didn’t reject the occasional cheeseburger or anything, but I drank lots more water (felt thirsty all the time anyway and then it just became a habit) and craved veggies like crazy. Not that this will necessarily work for you. But it’s a good reason to start, right?

8. When I was working, I had the excuse to really take those 15-minute breaks. I pumped milk while working full-time until my son was 13 months old. I was the last of my working-mom group that was still pumping, too. My coworkers ragged on me about it, but I persevered. I said it was because my son was allergic to regular formula but part of it was that I enjoyed getting away from the hustle and bustle for a few minutes each day. I brought a book or magazine, or I called my mom for some idle chit-chat.

I’m grateful for the California laws that requires my employer to provide a place for me to pump as well as mandates that I take my breaks to pump. Other employers might not be so flexible, but technically they break the law if they don’t let you. And it’s becoming more common for mothers to assert their rights to these laws, so although employers might complain about it, it’s still your right as a mother to them.

9. When my son was a toddler, he let me hold him still for more than 10 seconds at a time. Mothers of toddlers would appreciate this. When they get mobile and start discovering the world outside of that little bubble of Mom ‘n’ Me, they move like the speed of light, getting into everything and putting their fingers and hands where they shouldn’t and getting so dirty they need a bath every other hour. But the highlight of my day was coming home from work with him, and he would sit in my lap and nurse for at least 10 minutes. It was our way of reconnecting, of communicating, of saying, “Hi, how are you? I missed you for the past 8-10 hours.” This was actually the last nursing session we kept and was the hardest to wean from.

After about a year of being weaned, he still stays close to Mama.

In a society where we’re so eager for our children to grow up and be independent, I wanted to let him be a baby for as long as he wanted. Because I knew the time would come too soon when he wouldn’t want to be a baby anymore, and I would have no choice about it. I’m not sure why our society believes that we should teach our children to be independent as soon as they’ve exited the womb. There is nothing wrong with keeping your children close especially in the first few days, months, or even years in their life. In fact, their instinct (which is pretty much all they’ve got at this point) is to be close to their mothers first and other caregivers second. So why do we fight it? I don’t get it, so I don’t subscribe to it. My kid is sticking next to me for as long as he wants.

10. I’m too lazy to think of a number 10. So here are another 101. Plus, my kid is trying to climb all over me …

This “vacation” isn’t so crispy

The family is currently on a very short weekend vacation in Hawaii. It’s not actually a vacation as Daddy has been requested to sing in a wedding ceremony for a childhood friend. And he just had to do it, even though he had a work convention just 2 weeks ago, and he has another one next weekend. But he committed to this wedding almost a year ago, so we have a very short 4 days in beautiful Oahu.

As of today, Gavin will be 3 years old in exactly 4 weeks. He has traveled on airplane at least 3-4 times, a couple of times to the Bay Area, once to Dallas, another time to the East Coast (flew into Baltimore and flew out of Newark), and now Hawaii.

This trip has probably been the most challenging for all of us.

It is much easier to travel with a newborn-5 month old than an almost-3-year-old. He is just much more curious, much more independent, and there are a million more things that he can get his hands on that he is not supposed to put his hands on. We chose not to bring a stroller on this trip (we rarely do) because we weren’t doing a lot of walking. We brought two carriers instead (a pouch sling and a mei tai).

I think, too, that we were doing a lot of grown-up activities (wedding rehearsal, pre-wedding lunch, shopping at the swap meet, etc.) that a 3-year-old just does not have patience for. Add in the 3-hour time change, and it’s just a recipe for disaster.

I will say that considering the circumstances, our travel-savvy son has been a trouper. He sat in his car seat patiently almost the entire 6-hour flight (loud singing and seat-kicking notwithstanding). Although he loves to touch things and had to be reminded several thousand times “please don’t touch” it’s only expected of someone his age. He is curious. He is 3. He is still discovering the world around him.

There are moments when we would get so impatient with him, but I believe the secret to a trip like this is just to realize that the child is out of his element, and he can’t possibly understand how he is supposed to act. He is just acting like himself. I keep telling myself that when I began to get short with him, and it helps.

The best time so far was when we went to Waikiki Beach so that Gavin could play in the water. If we had had more time, we would have done this every day. Perhaps in the future we can do a Hawaii trip that is mostly for him.

Today is wedding day for our good friend. Between going to church, the wedding ceremony, and the wedding reception, my goal is to find time that is just for kids. They need a couple of hours to just be themselves. I can’t expect him to behave at the appropriate times when he has no outlet for his energy. So hopefully we’ll get a chance to go to the pool.

Aloha!

Hurray for diaper bags!

Gr8X diaper bag

Gr8X diaper bag, our workhorse bag that has lasted almost 2 years!

Before I had a child, I was a bag junkie. I didn’t spend money on Coach bags or anything (but that’s only because I felt bad only using a $200 purse for a month before I got bored of it). I LOVE BAGS! My closet is full of them. For some retro flavor, I’ll pull some of the older ones out and use them for a couple of days before they’re retired again. But mostly I buy new (or receive as gifts), use for about a month or 3, and then never let them see the light of day again.

Surprisingly, when it came time for a diaper bag, I wasn’t that jazzed about which bag to pick out. At this point, I hadn’t heard of the designer diaper bags like Petunia Picklebottom. I actually let my husband pick out the bag. I figured, I’d probably carry the baby, he’d carry the diaper bag. It seemed fair that he got to pick it out.

So when registering for gifts, Brian picked this out:

Inaugural diaper bag

Columbia backpack: Inaugural diaper bag

It is totally a dude’s bag. It got great reviews at Babies R Us. It is functional and not offensive to look at. However, when I finally started carrying it around, it was too … bulbous or something. It stuck out way too much!And it didn’t carry as much as it looked. When you’re carting around a newborn, you’ve got blankets and a billion diapers (you never know!), and all the things you’re scared to get caught without for fear of being labeled a terrible mother.

So I bought a Skip Hop Expo:

Skip Hop Expo, minimalist but trendy diaper bag

Skip Hop Expo: Minimalist but trendy diaper bag

This bag now, was just way too small. We crammed a lot of stuff in there. I liked that there was a small zippered section at the top that fit my wallet. There are actually a lot of compartments on this bag, but it was just too small. Especially when we switched to cloth diapers.

I looked at several different brands of bags, but I couldn’t justify spending the money for a Ju Ju Be — especially since most of the styles looked too girly. My man is comfortable with his sexuality, but I just didn’t want to subject him to carrying a lime-green bag or something. He already gets to clean the refrigerator and empty the vacuum canister (I have ALLERGIES!).

Anyway. Enter the GR8X satchel, pictured at the top. (Cue the choir of angels.) I saw a friend carrying it and had to have it. We’ve used this bag for about a year and a half. It’s almost raunchy. It’s survived a trip to the East Coast, gallavanting through New York City, and back. As well as daily trips to wherever.

I still have issues with the GR8X but I love that it converts from a messenger bag to a backpack very easily. It is not bulbous like the Columbia. It has a lot of pockets, and once you remove the bulky changing pad, there’s tons of room inside.It also has a bottle/cup holder that can detach, as well as a cell phone compartment that can also detach.

My main issue with it is the messenger bag strap. I have the older version (mine is red like the picture, but it has a stripe), so perhaps the strap has changed. My strap has a contoured, padded shoulder pad and it’s just misshapen and not comfortable — it wasn’t from the start and has only gotten worse.  It’s detachable so I can buy a new strap for it. I may, since I still really love the actual bag.

What I keep inside: Keep in mind that my chiild is now almost 3 years old. But I still roll with a diaper bag because he’s not potty-trained (I KNOW), and we do cloth diapers. I am also still afraid of getting caught out and about and not being prepared.

  • at least 2 sets of clean cloth diapers (depending on the length of the outing)
  • wipes
  • wet bag (for dirty diapers)
  • first aid: bandages and first-aid ointment
  • extra clothes: bottoms and a shirt
  • a baggie of outlet plugs (this might seem silly but I never know when I’ll be somewhere that has a lot of plugs — Gavin is almost old enough to know better, but there’s still that slight chance!)
  • my wallet
  • sippy cup of water (if I remember)
  • snacks

Before I stopped working, the diaper bag was mostly just actual diapers, but now that we’re going out by ourselves a lot more, the bag contains more stuff. It was when Gavin was about 15 months before I realized that I didn’t really need to carry a baby blanket anymore! I tend to be a pack rat and over-pack, but it’s worth it for my own piece of mind.

What kind of bag do you carry, and what’s in it?

This is the Crispy Blog.

Welcome!

Brian and I have decided to start a new blog. Mostly Kat will be writing it.

Topics I hope to cover: breastfeeding, parenting, technology as it pertains to parenting, incorporating traditions in parenting — heck, it will mostly be about parenting.

If you’re here for the Gavin pictures and videos, we’ll post some of those, too. Eventually!