Saturday, June 30, 2012

The Terribly Important Twos

(Yes, I have been thinking about writing this post since Noah got close to age 2, and he is now 2 1/2.  Better late than never, I suppose.)
I used to hear information and statistics about a child's brain development during the first three years of life, and think "hmm, that is pretty amazing."  Or maybe even be a little skeptical.  80% of a child's brain is formed by age 3--the size and structure, but also the pathways and things they have learned.  It sounds like a lot, because it is a lot.  I recently read that a toddler's brain works 3 times faster than a college students'.  (Living with a toddler, I believe that is true and see it every day.  Sorry, college students.)
Then I worked at a preschool and began thinking, "oh my goodness, this really is true."  And not just because of the sheer volume of "educational" things kids learn--first of all the whole talking and walking thing and then the rate that they soak up everything else that is set in front of them.  I could already see in 3 and 4 year olds if they had been shown and taught respect and manners, how they handled conflict, what they had been told about themselves and what was important in life.
Then I had my own child who is currently in this stage of life and I think about it every single day.  A lot.  The best way I have heard it described is that a child's brain is forming these "pathways" the quickest and most efficiently during this time, and the things that are shown and taught to them the most form the deepest pathways.  So when they get older, those paths that are deepest are the ones their minds will automatically take first.
What pathways are being formed the deepest in my sweet boy's mind?  What am I forming there, intentionally or unintentionally?  Is there really anything more important that I will ever do?
So I am looking for input here.  What are the most important things you taught your children during those first three years?  How did  you go about it?  What do you wish parents today were doing a better job at teaching their kids?  Mommies at the same place as I am, what do you think?  Any comments, anybody?
(I promise I will be all blogg-y and share some things I attempt if you share yours. ;)

Friday, June 29, 2012

Baby Update

Happy dance time!  We successfully made it past 24 weeks!  This is a huge milestone because it is when a baby goes into the "probably will make it" category.  Even though there was nothing to indicate I should be worried about not making it this far, it is still something that is burned in my brain and I can't help but breathe a little easier.  AND my blood pressure at our 25 week appointment was awesome!!  This is the time when it started to go up with Noah.
She is still measuring on the small side, but it is within the range they look for and she is keeping up on her own growth and development curve, so my doctor is happy with it.  (I'm thinking a smaller full-term baby isn't such a bad deal anyway... :)  Although it has been hard to get an accurate measurement because she isn't the most cooperative with ultrasounds.  Every time she has been curled up in a ball with her head wedged by my right hip.  Last time as soon as the tech started looking by her face she turned towards my back.  She'll have to get over that real quick once she meets me and my camera face to face. :)
I am certainly thankful for ultrasounds and how they are able to watch her so closely! But I have to admit it isn't quite as exciting as I thought it would be to have so many.  Maybe because they kind of all look the same.  (And as Noah pointed out when I showed him some pictures, "it looks a little scary.")  But I think it is really because from this point on I have an actual frame of reference to what a baby that size looks like.  I have seen a baby less then two pounds, held a two pound baby, nursed a three pound baby, and four pounds and up is pretty much a cute tiny version of any newborn.  So the black and white fuzzy picture just doesn't quite do it justice.  But like I said, it is wonderful to be able to watch her so closely, and to see some wiggles and a little idea of her features.
If her activity level right now is any indication, she is going to have no trouble keeping up with her brother and I am going to be very busy!  I never felt Noah move this much.  Seriously, little girl, what are you doing in there? ;)  Overall I feel much more pregnant this time around, if that makes sense.  I am feeling a lot more pregnancy "things" and will soon pass up how big I got with Noah.  I'll take those as good signs!
Noah continues to already be a wonderful big brother.  He asks on a regular basis for me to open my tummy so he can hold the baby.  Yesterday he gave her (my belly) a hug.  I have been wondering how he would react seeing some of "his" baby gear being used by a new baby, especially the high chair because right now he is still using it.  But the other day he totally out of the blue said, "GirlBaby can use Noah's high chair!  I get a big boy chair."  That kid never ceases to amaze me.  Although he still insists and tells people that there are "two babies, one girl baby and one boy baby."  And he usually gets a pretty good reaction, so I'm sure he will keep on saying it.
So other than being a little paranoid, everything is still going well!  It definitely takes a lot of the fun out of being pregnant when I wonder every time I feel a little off if it is my blood pressure, or every time I have a stomach ache if it is my liver...
28 weeks is fast approaching, where we will do another happy dance.  And probably have a party with cake and balloons, because that's just how we roll.
Thank you, thank you to everyone who continues to pray for our family!  It means a lot and we are very grateful!

(25 weeks and growing!)

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Wonderful ordinary again ~~ 2 1/2!

Noah is officially 2 and a HALF!  It seems appropriate to do another update, but you're going to have to settle for one that is very "ordinary."  Because the amazing and wonderful fact is that Noah acts and looks just like any typical 2 1/2 year old boy.  He is caught up (or ahead) in every category.  Well, he's still in the tall and skinny category, but I think that has a little more to do with the gene pool than being preemie!  He goes to the doctor the same amount as any other toddler.  Heck, he is actually healthier than most toddlers I know.  He is done with early intervention services because even on paper he is caught up in every area.  Reading back over those last sentences it sounds like bragging, but it is really just ORDINARY!  And his mommy being extremely THANKFUL!   The older he gets the more honest comments I hear from people like, "I wondered if he would even make it. I can't believe he is doing so well!" or "I know such and such a person with a preemie who still struggles or has health issues."  Even the NICU nurses have made told me, "He really looks good.  He really didn't look good when he was born."  And my favorite conversation I had with one of the staff a couple months ago:  Staff: "How is Noah doing?  Is he walking and those kinds of things yet?"  Me:  "Walking, running, jumping, talking...."  Staff: "What, he is talking?!"  Me: "Well, he is almost 2 1/2."  Staff: "2 1/2!  No he's not!!  It wasn't that long ago!  Wait, is he?"  Me: "Um, yes."
Yes, it really was that long ago.  Just for fun and Mommy's memory, here is a little update on Noah at 2 1/2:
  • Weighs 25 1/2 pounds and is almost 35 inches tall
  • Gives me a running commentary on life all day long... no speech concerns here!  He also copies anything we say and understands everything we say!
  • Has started to sing entire songs.  Ohmygoodness, one of the cutest things ever!  His two favorite songs that we sing every day at his request are "Hosanna" and "Noel."  (Yes, an Easter song and a Christmas song; I love my kid. :)  Other favorites are "The Lord Is My Shepherd," "Wheels on the Bus," and any of the songs from Mickey Mouse Clubhouse.
  • Can count to 12 if he really feels like it
  • I learned today that he can sing the ABC's pretty well and is starting to recognize the letters in his name
  • Has a seriously amazing memory!
  • Still loves cars, tractors, buses, and has added the riding lawnmower to that list.  I'm pretty sure if he could reach the pedals and the shifter at the same time he would drive...  
  • Has taken his love of keys to a whole new level.  He can take Mommy, Daddy, Grandma, or Grandpa's keys and tell you what each and every one does.  It is kind of crazy.  He also knows that most ignition keys have a black top and can pick those of anyone's keychain.  
  • Can look in the parking lot and tell you which staff are on campus because he has everyone's vehicle memorized.
  • Is still a major snuggler and still loves my hair
  • Overall is such a kind and polite kid! Almost every night he says to me at dinner, "Thank you Mama for making me this food!"  Once he made Corey a thank you card for vacuuming the floors.
  • Loves to help with pretty much everything
  • Is using his imagination more and more.  The other night he was playing with his little ride-on train, going to a meeting and to work.  Then he needed to go to the gas station.  Then the train got a flat tire (many times in a row).  Then there was a cow in the road.  The cow moved, but it was sick so we had to bring it to the cow doctor.  Then the cow needed a bandaid, to rest, and to be rocked by Mommy.  And this was all in the 20 minutes before bedtime. :)
  • Has given us a taste of the "terrible twos," with throw himself on the ground screaming and periods of what we like to call "the little dictator."  But he always calms down pretty quickly and comes back for hugs.  Overall I have to say that the twos have been much more terrific than terrible!
  • I love my 2 1/2 year old!

(P.S. According to my Facebook counter thing, GirlBaby is officially 24 weeks today, meaning she is right around the size Noah was when he was born!)

Monday, June 11, 2012

We love church

Noah was all about going to church and "reading the red Bible" (the hymnal) this week.  And sure enough, as soon as we got there that is what he did:
Phrases like "More church!" " Sunday School again!"  and "See Pastor more!" are heard on a regular basis around here.  I am grateful. 

I see more and more a very dangerous path being started down by quite a few people in my generation and younger--taking the idea of "all I need is Jesus" and twisting it to "I don't need to be a part of a church or be accountable to anyone for my faith."  Is it possible to have a vibrant relationship with Christ without participating in a church?  I would say yes.  (Possible, but not ideal.)  Are there parts of the world where this is necessary?  Yes.  But we have absolutely no excuse.  We have the freedom to worship publicly with others; we have people called by God who dedicate their lives to receiving training and using that training as leaders of churches.
There is no such thing as a perfect denomination or a perfect church.  Because there is no such thing as perfect people.  This is another thing that truly scares and saddens me--people saying "I don't like how the church looks so I am not going to be a part of it."  There are things that I don't like about the American church either.  But why is the church something we are so quick to drop away from and rationalize doing so.  If we don't get involved and change it, who will?  What is going to happen?

Once again God uses my toddler to remind me of these things, to take off my critical adult glasses and see the good.  The church we are a part of is far from ideal for a young family.  Noah is almost always the only kid under 8 years old and we are the only "young family."  Sunday School is led by his parents.  We have one room upstairs, one room downstairs, and no nursery.  There are times when those things are what I see the most, and I think about how it is oh so much work as a mom and none of that is "right" for me and I don't want to go.  Then I see that little 2 year old who is bursting with excitement to go to church and asking for more, and I remember what it is really all about.  He knows that there are people there who love him.  He knows that it is a safe and fun place that he is a special part of.   He knows that we pray together and sing together and learn together and that it is important.  He loves to hold his own hymnal and is even starting to sing the words with songs he knows.  We are blessed to have a pastor who is wonderful with children and includes a children's message every week that they get to go up front for.  (which Noah calls "sticker time" because they get a sticker at the end)  Noah told me this week, "Mama, Pastor teaches me many things."  

(Of course, don't go getting the idea that he is the model of perfection.  There are weeks when no amount of bribing with food or toys will keep him in one spot.  And having such a small room, everyone hears his running commentary of the service.  Such as the time when he said very loudly, "No more praying.  Time to go downstairs." ...) 

Please excuse the random theological bunny trail that came with these cute Noah pictures; it was on my heart.  Thank you once again, my sweet little boy, for reminding me of things I should know by now and being a precious example of a "childlike faith."

We love church.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Wonderful ordinary

I have had so much joy in "embracing the ordinary" lately.  Our days haven't been filled with anything that would look particularly exciting from the outside, or any big changes (well, other than my belly, which is thankfully getting bigger all the time) or crazy adventures.  Just enjoying everyday life with our little family and all the blessings we have been given.  With our summer officially here life has been settling down on the school being done end and picking up on the doctor's appointments end.  We have sure enjoyed having Daddy home more!!
Can I also just say that I love that my "ordinary" means getting to be a stay at home mom.  Yes, money is tight.  And yes, there are days that I want to pull out my hair and never look at or talk about a bus or a dump truck or that book that we read 8 times in a row ever again.  But every morning I can honestly say that I am ready to do it all again.  There is nothing that can replace or come close to listening to that little voice and his take on life all day long, to knowing exactly what is going into those little ears and eyes and heart and having the huge privilege and responsibility of so often deciding what that is.  There are so many moments when and sit back and think that these are some of the most precious and valuable times I will ever have.

Anyway, here is some of the "ordinary" (with pictures, of course :) we have been embracing lately:

The sweetest two year old ever:

Playing with blocks.  Noah is suddenly obsessed with his blocks.  He has always showed no interest in them, and in fact that is the only thing that always didn't "pass" on development checklists and early intervention and such--he would absolutely refuse to stack blocks.  Well, I think we can check that off our list now:
He loves building cities, which include some or all of the following: mall, restaurant, church, garage, house, dog house, Grandma's office, and temple (which must come from the story of Nehemiah rebuilding the temple in his Bible storybooks, which he loves because they include pictures of tools).

It is so fun to see his imagination growing everyday!  And his vocabulary!  The other night I was putting him to bed and he said, "Mama, talk to you!" and proceeded to talk my ear off for half an hour, including a very detailed description of something we did one time months ago, and making a plan for the next day (which included making a train station, which is where the blocks came into play!)

Nature. We have also been spending a lot of time outside in the awesome not-too-hot, not-too-many-bugs weather.  He discovered the joys of playing in black dirt with worms.  He also found a big moth the other day and told me, "Noah show Mama moth.  Be very careful, Mama."

Gardening. We have even started a little garden, which Noah is so excited and quite serious about.  I don't really know anything about gardening, but the experience for him is totally worth it and hopefully we actually end up growing something.  I took him to a greenhouse and let him pick out anything he wanted, and he picked watermelon.  We also picked lots of colors of flowers, and he would have taken one of every kind if he could.

Remember how wonderful ordinary can be!