Saturday, November 30, 2013

Our fav books, apps, and websites for all things "baby"

I have some pregnant friends who have been asking about what books and resources we use for pregnancy and beyond. Kyle and I agreed early on that I would the research on any given baby-related topic, and he would support my findings and decisions. (He's ended up sticking his nose in a few of the books below, though!)

Here are the 12 books and 1 iPhone app that we are/will be using.

  1. The Power of a Praying Parent: I was given the Power of Praying Wife from a dear friend before Kyle and I got married. The Power of Praying Parent is formatted in the same manner, and both are fantastic for the Christian woman who struggles to remember to pray, or struggles with what to pray for (both me!). Both books have 30 chapters - which coincide perfectly with how many days there are in each month (give or take). A chapter a day, that's easy! Each chapter is 2-3 pages containing a short story, a scripted prayer, and some memory verses. I have both books (Praying Wife and Praying Parent) by Drew's rocking chair, and I read them each day when I find myself sitting with Drew before one of his many naps. Some days I have time to read the whole chapter from each book, other times I barely have enough to read the chapter title and I just go with my own prayer for that day based on the title. Either way I find myself constantly lifting my husband and son up in prayer, and the added benefit is that I get that extra one-on-one time with Jesus each day. 
  2. Pregnancy Day By Day: This book has LOTS of pictures, and it's fun to treat it like an advent calendar. Except at the end, instead of it being Christmas, you get a baby! 
  3. What to Expect When You're Expecting: a true classic. This was my go-to book during my pregnancy. I also signed up for the weekly e-mails from their website, and had the app on my phone. You could say I'm a fan. I also subscribed to the Baby Center e-mails, but always found I preferred the What to Expect e-mails. This book covers well through delivery and postpartum care, although I didn't pay a ton of attention to those chapters. As Drew's delivery approached, I massively defaulted to my doctor to walk us through everything we needed to know. As for postpartum care, I took it day-by-day and only looked up the things I needed to know. That helped me to not over-think the whole birth experience, or get overwhelmed by postpartum life.
  4. Pregnancy, Childbirth and the Newborn: I was given this book at one of our birth classes. It is similar to the What to Expect book (except it's a little outdated), yet contains more in-depth information. I'm keeping it because it's a good reference book to keep me from Googling symptoms on the internet!
  5. BabyWise: This book explains how to implement an "eat, play, sleep" routine with your baby, with the goal of helping baby to establish good sleep habits. In my opinion, the book is not organized very well, but the general idea is there. I use this blog more than the book, at this point. We are seeing great results with this method!
  6. BabyWise II: The second book focuses more on months 5 and up, as solid foods are introduced. It has really practical suggestions for getting started on solid foods, so even if you aren't a fan of (or aren't familiar with) the general Baby Wise method, this is still a great book to use when starting solids.
  7. What to Expect the First Year: another classic. Covers all the basics, very straightforward, and easy to read. Helps me to know what's coming next! I also continue to get the age-appropriate e-mails from their website.
  8. Wonder Weeks: I didn't read the WonderWeeks book, I just downloaded the app at the advice of a friend. After weeks of using this app, I can attest that it's pretty accurate! The book is based on the premise that babies go through development leaps during specific weeks, and obviously the more you know about each leap the easier it is to help your little one develop through that particular leap. Whenever Drew seems extra fussy, sure enough he's usually in a Wonder Week.
  9. Play: I know there is no shortage of blogs on Pinterest that have pages and pages of ideas on how to play with babies. I also know I have a brain, and have the creative ability to figure out how to play with my baby. Yet, I still find myself sitting around with Drew wondering what on earth I should be doing with him during our free time. I keep this book by the couch and love that I can just grab it whenever I'm drawing a blank. It's grouped by age, and has great photos to illustrate different activities. Once I get a few pages in, my creative juices always seem to come back to me and I am able to think of other activities to do that aren't necessarily in the book.
  10. The Growing Child: this is a book I received from the family I was nannying for while I was pregnant with Drew. It's more a collection of articles, arranged by age. The articles are short, sweet, and "no frills". It's a fun change of pace from the onslaught of information contained in most other baby raising books.
  11. Baby Sign Language Basics: This is mostly just a book of signs, with some explanation of how to implement. We also have a little chart in his room above his changing table (because before I teach him any signs, I have to know them myself!). We only plan on doing the really useful ones: more, all done, please, thank you, get the idea.
  12. Gospel Powered Parenting: I had to read this book when I was going through the deacon process in the Kids Ministry at our church. I highlighted almost every page (ever read a book like that?). This book reinforces the idea that our job as Christian parents is to show our kids who Jesus is through our words and actions; that our job as parents is not to be the best mom and dad in the world, but to show our kids that we all already have a perfect father. Kinda takes the pressure off a little, which I welcome!
  13. Shepherding a Child's Heart: I confess, I haven't actually read this yet. But it's very popular among our friends and family. I know it will be a good resource, based on recommendation alone, so it automatically makes the list.
Giving it grace: Let me preface this list (can it still be called a preface when I'm saying it after you've already read the list?) with the one book you wont see pictured above, but I refer to the most: the Bible. With the endless pages of research and opinions out there, we cling tightly to the word of God on how to best raise and care for Drew. That also reminds us that no author knows more than the Author of Life, and that's good news for us! That means if I read the wrong book, read the right blog now but apply it wrongly, or don't read the right article because I wasn't glued to my Facebook feed - God is still sovereign, and His perfectness covers all our human errors. A good parenting resource is hardly half the equation; we always rely on prayer and Godly counsel when making decisions about how to raise, care for, love and instruct Drew. A steady steam of prayer and Godly counsel from family and friends has calmed my first-time parent nerves in ways I never though possible, and I rely on it daily (and I openly admit I'm not above praying for him to poo when it's been seven days with no sign of life in his diaper!).

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Drew Christmas Card Pics

If red Starbucks' cups didn't get you excited for Christmas, try a baby in a santa hat!

The following is my amateur attempt at a Christmas card photo:

Giving it grace: It took me nearly 100 shots to get 9 usable photos of a wiggly 4 month old, who doesn't understand what "smile Drew!" means. I think I said "hey Drew...DREWwwwww...Drew, Drew, Drew....ok hiiiii Drew...." until the words lost all meaning. At some point, I just had to laugh at the whole process. And maybe next year I leave the Christmas card pic to the professionals...!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Drew: 4 months

Drew loves: when we hold him up in the air over our heads, his changing table, his new blackout shades, being naked, his lovie, the moby wrap, "standing" on mom's lap, looking in mirrors, morning time, bath time, and tickle time!

Drew is unsure about: tummy time, his bumbo chair, his high chair, and his new jumperoo.

Drew hates: strangers, saline spray in his nose, and the snot sucker bulb.

Milestones: propping himself up on his hands (arms extended) during tummy time, sitting up in a chair (with back support), rolling from tummy to back, laughing, weight bearing on his legs, naps and night time sleep (powering through the 4 month sleep regression as best we can), and reaching/grabbing at toys and grasping them before dropping them.

Favorite moments: laughing - no contest. We'll do just about anything to get him to laugh! We thought he'd have a cute little giggly laugh, but it's more of a giggly grunt. Sounds kinda like "heh...he he hehhh" (can't you hear that?). Other favorite moments: smiling, how he actually likes to sleep in his bed and will wiggle in my arms until I put him down in his crib, nursing (at first I really didn't care for nursing, but now I'm going to be sad when it's over), when he sees my face and smiles, when I catch Kyle doing cute little things to make Drew laugh, and watching Drew explore his new chairs (bumbo, high chair, jumperoo).

We're starting to think about starting solids in the next month or two, so we've begun putting Drew in his high chair in the morning so he can get used to being in it. He's so dang cute; he just sits there and looks at us like "ok...what now guys?". He's really starting to feel like a member of the family to me now. Before, despite my epic love for him, he often just felt like a little baby to take care of (because he was). He's still that little baby, but now he seems to have more a presence during the day. He feels more like my buddy, and a little less like my baby (but at 4 months, he's very much still a baby!).

We battled the 4 month sleep regression the last few weeks and I think we are turning a corner. Sleep is such a touchy subject, because it involves so many other aspects of parenting. Sleep is never about just sleep; it can be about feeding (scheduled vs. on demand), comforting (self-soothing vs. parent soothing), parental roles (who is handling baby in the middle of the night), and baby care (such as swaddle vs. no swaddle), just to name a few. I've done my lion's share of research, and taken note of my how my friends and family members who have babies that sleep did it. While I don't think there is one right way to achieve baby sleep, I do think that's it's imperative that the baby GETS sleep. To that end, if it's working for baby first, and you second, then it's a win. If it's not working for baby, but working for you...probably not a win. And if it's working for baby, but not for you...well, that's not ideal, but it's a close second.

I think I've mentioned it before, but we followed the Baby Wise approach pretty consistently. I read the book, but found this blog to be the most helpful (although nothing is as truly helpful as those who have gone before; I have spent many hours on the phone with friends and family who have used this approach!). We also did a responsible Cry It Out approach with Drew once we felt he was old enough and emotionally ready for it. Cry It Out (CIO) really gets a bad rep, mostly because I think it's often implemented incorrectly or haphazardly. I've come to realize this is a very hot topic, and I think that's because most non-CIOers think that letting a baby cry it out means the parent just ignores the baby's needs (which isn't true if CIO is done correctly). When we did CIO for Drew, we certainly were not ignoring his needs. For us, CIO was the process of teaching Drew that we are not the only ones that can help him meet his needs. Obviously, only mom or dad can help with a food or diaper need. But the need for comfort is certainly a need Drew became capable of meeting on his own. After helping him through that phase, he is now very much able to meet a moderate need for comfort himself. If he's ever in need of comfort that surpasses what he can provide to himself, he lets us know and we respond immediately and with great compassion for him - he's just a little guy, after all. Through this approach, he continues to trust us that we are there for him, while also learning to trust himself a little too. I call that a win, win (and a good night's sleep!).

He's also been battling a cold for seven weeks. SEVEN weeks, people. Time flies when your life goes in 3 hour feeding cycles, I guess. I didn't totally notice the cold at first because there was no runny anything. Just congestion in his throat. Three trips to the doctor later, I finally went into crazy-mom mode. A steady regimen of saline spray before and after naps, gripe water every 4-6 hours, Vicks baby rub on his feet before naps and bedtime, a cool mist humidifier, and an elevated crib mattress seems to have maybe done the trick. I also began to demand in my prayers that his cold bow to Jesus. And it seems like, for now, it has.

Alas, I'm done talking. This long update is mostly for my friend Keri (who is due with her own little boy this spring) and my grandma (my only true faithful blog reader)!

Drew's baby dedication (he wasn't that thrilled)
Kyle sharing our verse (1 John 3:1) for Drew in front of the
congregation at our church. Drew was blessed to have many family and
friends be there to  support our decision as parents to dedicate Drew to the
Lord, and to publicly commit to raising him in a Christian home.
Every Wednesday Drew and I join my friend Laura and her son Bronson
(and 20-30 other moms + babies) at the Edmonds Library for story time.
It's a 45 minute program, filled with rhymes, songs, books, and free play time.
Drew shows up early to have his late morning meal, and then waits
for his friends to get there :-)
Hanging out with grandpa watching the Huskies. We don't normally
let Drew watch TV, but snuggle time with grandpa is important :)
Practicing standing (and look at those chunky legs!)
Drew is a Roots of Empathy baby at Briercrest Elementary School.
We do a family visit to the school once a month to the same kindergarten
classroom; Drew is the "classroom baby". The kintergardeners learn about
empathy through studying and interacting with a baby throughout the program.
This display board is up in the classroom during the year as the kids
 make predictions about what Baby Drew will be able to do at the upcoming
visit. Baby Drew was like a celebrity at his first visit! The kids loved him,
and I overheard them telling their parents about him in the parking lot
as I was leaving the school - so sweet. I am so proud of Drew, even though he
 just sits there and looks around. Oh, mom's the littlest things, sometimes.
Visit with great-grandma Eva. We took "sunset dinner" to her,
 and she got some baby Drew snuggle time in.
Drew finally meeting his great-grandma Dee!
Checking out the fish tank with Grandma - first time seeing fishys!
It looks like he is just looking at the blocks, but I stack them up for
him and he knocks them over (am I starting a bad habit?). He can
also wedge one of the blocks between both hands and bring it to his
mouth (to chew on, of course).
Halloween: the cuteness monster!

Post-bath time towel fun
I have not edited these photos so excuse the poor lighting...
Hanging out with dad at the activity table
Drew's starting to "understand" the camera a little more...I even
got a few smiles out of him!

Found those feet again...
Baby feet!
Practicing his "W" for "Go Dawgs!"

I couldn't get this picture to rotate...sorry!

These are a series of mostly failed attempts to get a replica
 of a picture both Kyle and I have of us as babies...Drew
just did not understand what was going on. It took me three
separate photo shoots on 3 different days to finally get
"the shot" (or something close enough).

I think we nailed it with this last one! 
Kyle, Drew and Stephanie (all at 3 months): who do you think
Drew looks more like? 

Giving it grace: Drew and I joined a PEPS group, and so far I'm really liking it. I do already have a large network of mom friends, but it's really been beneficial to get together with moms who have babies specifically Drew's age. Each week we talk about different topics, and try to support each other through the trials of first time momhood. If nothing else, it's really opened my eyes to the variety of ways one can raise a baby. It's also warmed my heart to see how much time, emotion, and brain power these moms (myself included) are sacrificing for their babies, husbands, and family legacy (because babies grow into adults, who then have their own babies...and so on and so forth).

A blogger who I'm fond of recently wrote an article about stay-at-home moms. I felt like this passage summarized his general point well: "These women [moms] are doing something beautiful and complicated and challenging and terrifying and painful and joyous and essential. Whatever they are doing, they ARE doing something, and our civilization DEPENDS on them doing it well. Who else can say such a thing? What other job carries with it such consequences?" That's why it warms my heart that a bunch of mom-strangers have committed to getting together once a week to work through truly tender, important, and sensitive aspects of becoming a mom. (It also makes me not feel so badly about sitting around chatting with a bunch of moms on Tuesday morning, drinking lemonade and eating pumpkin bread, while Kyle is sweating keyboard key-sized bullets at work).

This is another evidence of God's grace in our marriage. I was talking today with Kyle about how I stay home with Drew, and thanking him for being so on board with that. I may not always be able to stay home with our kids, but that will always be a goal we are working to keep (or get back to). I asked him if it felt "unfair" that I got to stay home while he went to work, and he replied that he didn't really ever think of our situation in terms of what he is doing verses what I am doing. He said that he thinks about what's best for Drew, and he's happy and satisfied knowing that Drew is at home with me - which he considers the best thing for Drew. I believe it's by the grace of God that we're able to work out a situation where all three of us (Bug's opinion matters too!) are seemingly satisfied with the family dynamics - even though they seem "unfair" at first glance. (Although, the day that Drew pooped THREE SEPARATE TIMES in the bathtub I would've gladly traded Kyle for a day in the office...).