In the words of the great philosopher Aaron Tippin "You've got to stand for something, or you'll fall for anything . . ."

Realizing this, Matt and I sat down several months ago and determined our family's priorities. These are the things we'd like our family to be known for, the things we'd like our children to feel secure in, the "non-negotiables" for our family regardless of how busy we get.

1. Faith

  • Attend church regularly
  • Attend small group regularly
  • Pray together as a family
  • Read Bible stories/devotionals together 3 times a week
  • Serve/help others

2. Family

  • Spend regular time with extended family

3. Familiarity

  • Dinner is eaten as a family
  • Dinner at home 4 times per week
  • Normal bedtime before 9:30
  • Mom and Dad both take part in bedtime the majority of the time

4. Fun

  • Family fun activity 2 times each month
  • Parent/kid date once each month
  • Exercise/activity daily

If you haven't done this, I suggest you sit down with your spouse and determine the things you believe should define your family. It has done wonders for our family communication and keeping us on the same page.

We call this "the net," and it is the coolest thing I've found for my baby since the Boppy. You drop grapes (Azlan's favorite), apples, pears, whatever in this net and the baby gums and sucks on it. He actually gets real food without any choking worries because only swallowable pieces come through the holes in the mesh. We actually put roast beef in one time and he loved it!

They come in packs of 2, and I've only seen them at Target, for about $5. We actually bought two packs because it has to be washed with every use. There's no rinsing it really well and using it again. I love taking this to restaurants because we can feed Azlan his baby food while we wait for our meal, then drop some of our food into the net and keep him occupied while we eat. Love it!
Patriot got to go to the hospital this morning and have surgery. We had a hydrocelectomy (kind of like a hernia) done at Cincinnati Children's Hospital. If you live anywhere near Cincinnati, I'd recommend this hospital. Our entire experience was terrific!

We took a tour of the same-day surgery area on Thursday. They explained everything in terms Patriot understood and let us practice all of the "getting ready" tests, so Patriot (and his parents) knew what to expect this morning. We went into the "sleepy air" room and Patriot was able to smell the different scents of "sleepy air." Then we went into the "wake-up room" where they had a doll hooked up to an IV and Patriot was able to touch all of the hoses he'd have hooked up. It was a fun time and Patriot was looking forward to going back to the "hostible" this morning.

Today went just as well. We got all of our tests done, into our hospital PJs and socks, and were watching Dora in no time. They brought us toys and told us stories about Spiderman. The nurses were kind, attentive, and fun. The anesthesiologist came in and gently told us all of the risks and answered all of our questions. Just on time, they escorted us to the sleepy air room. Patriot got a little nervous here because everyone had on their surgical scrubs, masks, and hairnets, but Matt held him in his lap and I sang him songs while the nurses did their jobs. Soon he was asleep and we headed to the waiting room.

About 45 minutes later, the doctor came and told us the surgery went fine and Patriot was rousing in the recovery room. We were allowed in 10 minutes later and Patriot was just waking. Within minutes he had a Popsicle and we were reading books. Within the hour they removed his IV, we dressed him, and he got to ride in a racecar wheelchair out to our car.

He's rested well today. He ate some Jell-o and crackers for lunch, took a long nap, and had 3 more Popsicles. He did get a little anxious when we told him it was time to go to sleep for his nap. Last time he went to sleep he woke up with an IV in a recovery room! But we convinced him everything would be OK. We ordered Chinese for dinner and he ate a little rice, but by this time the medication was beginning to wear off and he was starting to feel uncomfortable. We pushed some Tylenol down him, watched a little college football and sent him to bed.

I've been warned that tomorrow will probably be a worse day. He'll be more sore and the medication from the surgery will be completely out of his system. I'm prepared for that. What I'm not prepared for is his teething baby brother. Who's cruel joke is it that Azlan is teething this weekend? Maybe we could get him some sleepy air . . .
My oldest, Patriot, will be 3 next month. One of his favorite new games is to dream up ways to exclude me from family fun. Rarely do we all load into the car and I don't hear from him, "Can we leave Mommy at home?" Matt always gives him a big "That's silly" reaction and we all laugh at our cleverness.

In the beginning, I started to get my feelings hurt by the whole game, but then I remembered a chapter from Dr. James Dobson's book Bringing Up Boys. In the chapter titled "Mothers and Sons," Dr. Dobson describes the importance of maternal bonding with male infants, siting statical research of the health and growth benefits found in boys who had close relationships with their mothers as infants. However, things begin to change as boys become toddlers and then preschoolers.
"Despite the importance of an early mother-child bond, it may seem strange that little boys begin to pull away from their moms during the period between 15 and 36 months. Boys, even more than girls, become negative at that time and resist any efforts to corral or manage them. They say no to everything, even to things they like. They run when called and scream bloody murder . . . They usually respond better to fathers."
Dr. Dobson describes this "pulling away" from Mom as a natural part of boys' development. They are beginning to identify themselves as boys and naturally gravitate toward Dad to start building their masculinity. Mom is a girl, so, in their minds, they shouldn't do what Mom says because Mom might keep them from becoming men.

So what's a mother to do? Dr. Dobson says "they should not allow themselves to feel rejected and wounded by their boys' gravitation toward fathers. Just remember that the behavior isn't personal. Boys are genetically programmed to respond that way." Instead, he encourages mothers to look at this time as a opportunity in two particular areas.
  1. "Mothers should encourage their husbands to be there for their sons at this time when the need is the greatest." Suggest and even arrange father/son outings. Encourage your husband to teach your son a favorite hobby or special ability. When possible, allow your son to observe his father in different activities (i.e. visiting Daddy at work for brief times, going to Daddy's soccer games). Set up certain activities that are only done with Daddy. Mother has been the primary adult in the son's life since birth, now help father and son build their relationship.
  2. Mother "must take charge during these delightful but challenging days of toddlerhood. It is not sufficient to leave the discipline solely to Dad. Respect for her authority and leadership are rooted in this period, and opportunities that are lost will be difficult to recover later on." If you find yourself frustrated with your current discipline tactics, see my review of Creative Correction by Lisa Whelchel. It provided lots of new ideas for me.
So next time Patriot asks if they can leave Mommy at home, I just might take him up on that. Patriot might need a little "Daddy time" and a nice evening at home by myself sounds pretty good to me!
Last week I had a brief moment of temporary insanity where I considered that I might want a third child. My baby is crawling, pulling up, and walking with assistance. He drinks from a sippy cup and eats lots of real food. As far as I'm concerned, he's no longer a baby and must now be considered a toddler. I'm feeling a sense of loss that my baby days are over.

As a culture, we put a lot of effort into celebrating our children's "firsts," probably because of those darn baby books that we all feel like we have to complete. We take pictures of our baby's first bath. We write the date of his first smile and laugh. We tell everyone we know about his first tooth. Even his first vacation, trip to the library, visit to the zoo, and afternoon at the movie theater are momentous occasions.

But how much thought do we put into our children's "lasts?" What about the last time your baby needs your help to get from here to there? When was the last time you had to rock your little one to sleep? What about the last time he wore those cute little baby clothes? Do you know the last time you had to cut your toddler's slice of pizza? or, the last time he needed you to push him on the swing? When was the last time your son would give you a hug in public before he became "too cool?"

I need to commemorate some of my children's "lasts" to give me closure on one stage and allow me to move on to the next. Although we orchestrate some "lasts" (i.e. the last bath in the baby tub, the last nursing feeding, etc.) the tricky part about most "lasts" is that you don't always know when they're coming. Sometimes your children develop faster than you're ready! (Who am I kidding, most of the time your children develop faster than you're ready!)

During these times of transition between babyhood and toddlerhood, or toddlerhood and childhood, I find myself cherishing every moment I can. I hug just a few seconds longer, I rock just a few minutes more, I read the extra story, I tickle instead of fold laundry (like I need an excuse) because I don't know when it might be our last.

And I remind myself of two things: 1) although the joys of one stage may be mere memories, the hopes of the next stage are on the horizon; and 2) my sister and my sister-in-law still intend to have babies, so I'll be able to get my baby fix without the midnight feedings!