Parenting WIN

This is probably only worth reading if you have a child but I wanted to share a parenting victory I had tonight with Aliana while Lilly was working late.

"Daddy's Little Angel"

“Daddy’s Little Angel”

When we got home from daycare (school) I broke down a rotisserie chicken I picked up with Aliana and made a pot of rice (yes, I can make a seasoned pot of rice on the stove). While I was tearing it apart I asked Ali if she wanted some chicken to which she replied,

“No dad, no chicken. I want bar (Earth’s Best). I want cone (sugar cone). I want a orange. I want fishies (Goldfish crackers).”

I told her no, it was time for dinner, and chicken and rice is for dinner. She wasn’t thrilled, she’s never thrilled with dinner time. I don’t think it’s the food, I think it’s just the word, dinner.

Then she got louder (because that’s effective right?), “No Dad! No dinner! I want special snack in the living room!”

I ignored her request, then repeated myself. Once her plate was ready I put her in her highchair and after a lot of screaming and squirming, I won (this is not the victory, just a battle). During this process and many others she has recently learned to flat out YELL at me. Her NO’s get progressively louder, “no, No, NO! NOOOOO!!!” Then she yells a deep “AHHHHHHHGG!!!” and does this until she gets thrown, I’m sorry, I mean placed in space. After a few times of yelling a verbal warning from me, she took space as expected. I slid her chair to a corner in the kitchen and told her to let me know when she was done. After about a minute went by I asked her if she was done.

“No,” she replied.

“Okay, you let me know,” I said.

After about another minute I walked over and, face-to-face, asked if she was done and wanted to come back to the table with Daddy. I told her that I really wanted her to join me for dinner. She still muttered a “no, no dinner,” but then I told her if she took one bite that she could get out of her highchair. She agreed with a smile and took her bite of chicken. I asked her if it was good, she said yes. Go figure, chicken being good. I asked her if she wanted more, she said yes, and so she joined me at the table and happily ate her chicken and rice with Daddy. We had a great talk and enjoyed each others company.

The notable thing here is even though I was 100% annoyed/frustrated by her resistance to dinner, chicken, rice and even the fresh Poland Spring water I put in her sippy cup, I didn’t let her know how I was feeling as I have previous times. I didn’t once get loud or even a little loud. I spoke calmly, quietly, and followed through on everything I said. This really set the tone for the rest of the evening. She has been happy and playful since dinner and was super excited when mommy came home. That, I call a VICTORY.

My heart BURST with pride

technically, this should be a “Conversations With Ali, Eve of her 2nd Birthday,” but because i was pretending to be asleep (or rather, trying really hard to go back to sleep this morning), this was more of a one-sided, overheard somewhere, kind of Aliana-ism.

Aliana, almost 2

Aliana, almost 2

everymorning, ali and i cuddle while she drinks her morning milk. sometimes, this means we both get an extra 30 minutes of sleep before i really have to get up. as i mentioned, i was trying really hard to get back to sleep, but i was failing. ali was wide awake, and starts to count the beads on my silver necklace. she started as one is wont to do, when counting. “one, two, three, four…” little lady can get up to the twenties now. but that’s when she did something so incredibly surprising: she started to count in spanish.

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“Uno, dos, tres, cuatro, cinco, seis, cinco, seis, cinco, seis…”

granted, she started to sound like a broken record, but good Lord did my heart leap from my chest. no one asked her to count. no one asked her to count in spanish. i sometimes feel terribly guilty that i don’t speak more spanish around her. honestly, it’s a word here or there. it happens sometimes when i don’t expect the spanish to come out. but when i have to sit and make myself think of what to say, i feel ashamed. i was hoping that our kids would grow up in a bilingual household, but with not having anyone to converse with in spanish, i’m afraid that i’m starting to lose it. even speaking to my family over the phone (we’ve always spoken in Spanglish, but majority of the conversation is in spanish), i find myself having to concentrate a little harder on what i’m saying. it’s like a complex mental math problem. one thing for sure though, is that my child loves Guatemalan food. i don’t cook the more traditional things at home, that require all day, exotic ingredients, or sometimes a muchacha as an extra hand, but boy does she love the few things i do cook here, or that my mom cooks for us.

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regardless, i think we did a great job finding a daycare that uses spanish in their lessons. i am so incredibly thankful for them, not just as a practical third parent, but for the care and thoughtfulness they put into their lessons at “school.” i was so disappointed when we first interviewed a daycare provider in clifton park who was a native spanish speaker and refused to speak to the kids in spanish. i’m glad that we felt a resounding “no!” and found someplace much much better.

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mommy guilt aside, i have to remind myself that we’re doing this practically alone. we don’t have family to help us at a drop of a hat. we don’t have many close friends, but we’ve done well in raising her. she’s healthy, she’s so incredibly smart and thoughtful, and she’s certainly beautiful.

as a friend told me recently, “guilt shouldn’t belong in a mom’s vocabulary…” and she’s right. i realized that (again) this morning as my baby girl–who’s not so much of a baby anymore–counted her way in spanish. i may not be doing much at home, but the few things she does hear, she’s picking up and absorbing, repeating. that’s worth calling a success, right? we can always add more vocabulary as she gets older.

she’s amazing, and i find that out more and more each day.

call me sappy, but i’m very thoughtful today. to think that this time, two years ago, i was 3 cms dilated after being in labor for almost 24 hours. i was testing out every position i had learned in bradley class, trying to find the most comfortable position for that contraction. then finding another for the next.

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look at her now, from a zygote to a gorgeous little girl. we love you ali. can’t wait to see how much more you grow this next year.

 

 

 

 

Conversations with Aliana, 21 Months

February 22, 2013

Ali’s learning about the ocean and the animals that live in it at “school.” This was our dinner conversation last night:

Me: so, Aliana, what did you learn about the ocean today?
Aliana: ummmm….
Me: can you tell me what lives in the ocean? (Makes ALS sign for fish)
Aliana: fish!
Me: what else? What about dolphins?
Aliana: yeah, dolphins!
Me: what do dolphins say, how do they speak?
Aliana: (after thinking for a moment) “hi! Hi! Hi!” (Waves her hand in the air)

October – November 2011

Oct. 23, 2012 — Ali's first time in a corn maze

In my last (real) post, it was the day before my birthday (and Ali’s five month birthday). That Sunday, we went to Ellm’s Family Farm to pick pumpkins and do the corn maze. I don’t think I had gone through a corn maze myself, but it was fun to do as a family. Towards the end, Ali did get hungry, so I threw my nursing cover on and walked around with her while she ate. It was an interesting way to emerge from the maze, but I didn’t care. I think this when I started to not care about what people thought/felt about nursing in public. It’s also the time when Ali started to fight under the cover, and I’m sure she exposed me to some people quite a few times too.

For Halloween, we dressed Ali as Obi-Wan Kenobi.

Ali-Wan Kenobi

Okay, let me clarify: I dressed Aliana as a Jedi. We also have these flashlights that will also glow a certain color, so since I wasn’t allowed to buy her a real light saber (Andrew had to draw the line somewhere, right?), she toted the pink flashlight as her saber.

That night, we participated in our church’s ‘trunk or treat’, where church members open up their car trunks, fill it with candy, and all the kids go car to car collecting sweets. It’s a great alternative to going door to door. We had a lot of fun participating. One minus, we were so used to just going in the car to change her diaper, that it was natural to change her there while we were handing out candy. Drew forgot that the trunk was open, so the car was cold. She cried, the poor kid, because her bottom was freezing. It was a do-it-once-and-learn experience. Neither of us thought to take her inside to change her. Sorry, baby!

I think it was November 5, when Aliana finally rolled over on her own. Of course, she did it at daycare first, but it was exciting to see her do it when we came home.

It was around this time that we had a new set of neighbors moved in next door. This time, they were smokers, and no amount of pleading from us or our landlord could stop them from smoking inside. All their cigarette smoke was traveling into our home, it was really unbearable to smell. Of course, the landlord tried to work with us at first, looking for where the smoke might be entering. They sent maintenance to seal up those areas, but the jackasses didn’t really do anything than add some caulk to some ridiculous places. All the while, they would tell me how what they were doing wasn’t going to really do much, and that I shouldn’t be worrying anyway because “that’s all a lie, smoke can’t do anything, look at me, my mom smoked when she was pregnant, I’ve ben around it my whole life. That stuff isn’t true, it’s not bad for you…”

I really wanted to say, “OK buddy, how ’bout you shut your mouth and do your job, or do you get paid extra for all the stupid things you say?”

Anyway… it quickly became clear that we would have to try to find another living situation, as heartbreaking as the idea was to me. I knew that we’d have to leave that place eventually, but I wasn’t ready to think about it at the time. Regardless, we started to look for other options. It would be a few months before anything actually happened. I’ll leave that to another post.

Here are some more pictures from October and November.

Aliana chooses her pumpkin

Aliana and Mami

It's not until I look back that I realize how much of a chunker she was! Aliana at 5 months

Aliana's first time eating sweet potatoes, she loved them!

Aliana and Elise at Trunk or Treat

Aliana was quite taken with her toes

This was her first time in the stroller using the big kid chair. She knew it was something new and she loved it!

One Year Later…

Aliana is now 13 months old, and we can hardly believe it.

We know we’ve been MIA, and I’m kicking myself hard for not documenting the last six months as I should have. We were going through some tough, personal issues (which included having to move as well as an unexpected job loss), and I may or may not have been a little depressed. I am in denial about it, haha.

Anyway, I’ll begin posting again soon. I’ll begin with a quick recap of her milestones and incorporate where she is now as soon as I can.

Lilly

10 Months Old!

Aliana is now 10 months old! I still cannot believe I’m a father to one of God’s children. I’m not sure if it’s encouraging or downright jaw-dropping to think God has given me sole responsibility, along with my wife of course, to care for her; to tell me plain as day He has enough faith in me to turn Aliana into a kind, loving, follower of Christ who will be a great contributing member of the world. It’s been a challenge though for me to share God’s confidence in myself, as I’ve quickly learned I’m an overprotective paranoid father who fears everything from dirt to her own baby poo is going to hurt her. It’s difficult to take a breath sometimes, but Aliana never fails to show me regularly she is a big kid who can handle new experiences. I bet she looks at me thinkging, “take a chill pill dad and watch me figure things out on her own. Support me, don’t stand there in a panic.” Needless to say I’m a work-in-progress.

Aliana on the other hand, is perfect. She’s surpassing any expectations I thought I had about who my daughter would be as a 10-month old. She has a high tolerance to pain, can control all sorts of foods in her mouth, and repeat actions like, “If I bang this it will make noise.” It’s been eye-opening to see the wheels-turning, really watching her learn something she didn’t know just moments before. It’s something new each week with her, I hope it never ends. Until I’m old and senile I hope she’ll continue to call me telling me what new thing she learned that week. Heck, even after I’m senile, she may even have more fun telling me then!

First Family Christmas

I know we have seriously lacked in keeping up with our family blog, but it’s safe to say we have made it to our first Christmas as a family. Aliana turned 7 months last Thursday and is learning more and more each day. Lilly and I are still working our Mon-Fri day jobs and Aliana still attends the same daycare.

Parenting has been an incredible experience thus far. Our precious Aliana is an amazing little girl who always finds new ways to make us smile. She’s a thriving social butterfly who smiles at nearly everyone she meets and is not only a joy to us, but to those around her. She turns heads when we we’re out and about, loves exploring her surroundings and snuggling with mommy and daddy on Saturday mornings. She loves walking and isn’t interested in crawling. She’s learning how to better her motor skills and tries so hard to put EVERYTHING she gets her hands on into her mouth.

I will make a blog post of just Ali pictures soon to catch you all up on the past few months.

As with all families we too have been experiencing the common family struggles with regards to minor injuries, illnesses, finances, neighbors, etc. They’re usually short-lived, are quickly forgotten and easily left in the past.

There are more details and in depth stories to follow, but right now it’s time to get back to eating and Christmas movies.

More About Breast Feeding

Tomorrow, I’ll be 24 and she’ll be 5 months. What a milestone for both of us.

We’ve been breast feeding successfully for five months. To this day, she has not had a drop of formula. Don’t get me wrong here, I am not boasting about that fact, rather, I am praising God for it. There were many moments when I feared that I wouldn’t make it this far.

Go ahead, tell me I’m being ridiculous. I would agree with you. I don’t know why I let breast feeding define me so much. I became so emotionally attached to the idea during my pregnancy, that I knew I would be devastated if I wasn’t able to breast feed. I didn’t know it until after I had Ali that milk production is a challenge in my family. My own mother was only able to nurse me for three months before she wasn’t able to produce any more. Everyday, I fear that it’s my last. There have been times where my milk has fluctuated wildly, from one day to the next with no cause, then there are days that I will produce way more than I thought I could.

By no means do I claim to be an expert on any topic I write about here, but I have done a lot of research — not to mention that I work at a health care company, so I have a lot of resources others don’t — and consider myself to be knowledgeable in the subjects relating to childbirth and breast feeding. Unfortunately, I still let myself get anxious about being able to nurse. I am trying to change my way of thinking from “Please God, please help me make more milk for her” to “Thank you, God, for allowing me to provide the best nutrition for my daughter another day.” So far, I am beginning to feel more comfortable with the fact that, one day, this is going to end. I was prepared for it to end through weaning, but now, I like to think I’m prepared to just let it take its course if it needs to.

For those of you thinking about nursing your future children, please seek out resources and support from others. Nursing is hard, just as hard as labor. There are a lot of women out there that make it look easy, I don’t know how they do it, and I’ll admit, I have been jealous of those to whom it looks like it is so easy for them. Sometimes, it seems like Andrew’s the only one telling me that I’m doing a good job, and I know my sister tells me the same. But it’s hard to hear it, and then really believe. For some reason, my lactation consultant has always been the only one that can truly put my mind at ease.

I can’t say it enough: if you’re going to breast feed, get a lactation consultant!! Or you can visit your local chapter of La Leche League. I didn’t do this before delivering, but LLL can provide a lot of instruction prior to having your child. Post-partum, having a consultant was a huge gift. I still call her when I have a question or concern. When Aliana started sleeping through the night around 9 weeks, I didn’t realize that I couldn’t let myself engorge and leak. That sends a signal to stop producing, and my supply reduced significantly. She quickly gave me some tips and a schedule of sorts to get me right back up. I haven’t had that severe of a fluctuation since.

Secondly, buy a good pump. But whatever you do, unless it is a hospital grade pump that you are renting, do NOT use a second hand pump. Do not purchase a used pump online or from anyone you know. Commercial pumps are called “open system” pumps. The system is not designed to keep breast milk from potentially coming in contact with the motor. Medela’s “Pump In Style” pumps are open system. Your milk can potentially enter the tubes and even come in contact with the motor. If you don’t clean it, or even realize that this has happened, it can form mold, and the spores can travel back into your collected milk and can potentially harm your baby. There are companies that use a “closed pump” system, such as Ameda’s “Purely Yours” (which I think I will purchase for the next kiddo, I have a love-hate relationship with my Medela), and the milk will never touch the tubing or vacuum source. Definitely do your research regarding pumps before you purchase one. Better yet, just rent one from the hospital. I used Medela’s “Symphony” at Albany Med, and it was a great pumping experience. This one is considered a closed system, because it uses closed diaphragms to create the vacuum needed.

This is pretty much all I can think to mention at the moment. Knowing me, I’ll probably revisit the topic. I doubt that any male readership that we have gained will want to hear more about this, it is kind of a personal subject to speak of, but my goal since the beginning of this blog has been to share what I learn in this experience. I was the first of my friends to get engaged, then married, and now to become a mother. I think it’s only fair that you all see what I have gone through in this process as well.

If you girls have any questions, feel free to ask me. I love sharing my knowledge, and if there’s something we need to figure out together, together we will.