Thursday, August 30, 2012

Big Siblings

"Is he a good baby?" everyone asks me.

I always answer yes.  I wonder sometimes if that is the wrong answer, because a follow-up question is often, "So he sleeps through the night?"  Um, no.  Is that what a good baby does?

Another common question is, "How do your other kids like him?"  I truthfully reply that they love him.

I would like to take some time here to elaborate on how the big siblings are enjoying the new one.

My oldest, age 7, likes to "babysit" the baby.  This is actually pretty helpful.  She takes the baby into a room with her and puts him down on a blanket surrounded by toys and picks him up or gives him a binkie as needed, freeing me up occasionally while I do the dishes or something.

My second child says, "He's so cute!" and then asks, "Can we keep him?" just as he would ask about a potential pet.  Then he affectionately tries to touch the baby's eyes.  (I am trying to encourage him to express his affection in some other way.)

I was most worried about my toddler, the only one who has never had a younger sibling before.  His personality seemed a little more jealousy-prone than his older siblings, but like his older siblings before him, the newest big brother is much more likely to smother the baby with affection than out of spite.  It's a good thing, because I have enough on my hands just protecting the baby from his older siblings' often rowdy love.

At the hospital, my toddler learned that grown-ups enjoy photographing new babies, and he insisted on joining in the fun.  I am very grateful for electronic photography, because I didn't have to worry about my film being wasted.  Here are some of my toddler's photos of the baby:

He also took some more abstract photos in the hospital room, which reveal a great deal about a toddler's perspective.  Okay, maybe they reveal just one thing: that toddlers are short and see a lot of stuff that is near or on the ground.

I am so glad he didn't drop the camera when he took that last one.

This next one is a photo my husband  took.  When this photo was taken, my toddler screamed, "No!  Take picture baby!  No take picture me ever again!"

Fortunately, he has since lifted the ban. This is a relief, because he is at quite a photogenic stage right now.  He looks like a cherub, with his blonde curls, puffy cheeks and blue eyes.  He may never be this cute ever again.

In spite of his own rules, there are a few self portraits among his works.  I am guessing that is because he is not very good at photography yet and didn't realize the camera was backwards.

For a couple days before each of my baby well-child visits, I track his eating and diaper habits so I can answer rationally when the pediatrician asks about them.  (There's an app for that, of course.)  One day I found my toddler standing over the basinet holding the tablet.  "Baby sleeping," he informed me, and showed me the tablet.  Sure enough, he had opened up the Baby Tracker app, found the sleep icon, and marked it.  I hadn't been tracking sleep, but with further investigation, I found that my toddler had tracked baby sleep on multiple occasions.

I love it when my toddler sings lullabies to the baby.  He makes up his own songs,. The songs always include the baby's name and the word "ever," which is currently my toddler's favorite word, among other lyrics as the muse inspires him.  He frequently gestures and always sings high and soft.

Before my youngest sister was born, my parents took us to a class for older siblings at the hospital.  I still remember how fun that was for me, so I found one for my kids to attend. (My hospital didn't have one, but another hospital nearby did.)  Technically, only my older two kids were old enough for the class, but my toddler was present and engaged. And the kids actually remember some of the things they learned!  My oldest videotaped the baby's first bath at home and recited the handwashing advice she learned from the class in her video.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

I'm going to remind my husband of this forever.

This past Father's Day, when I was extremely pregnant and dealing with gestational diabetes, I asked my husband what he would like for Father's Day.  He requested a Father's Day feast including lasagna, breadsticks, ice cream and a dessert which incorporated devil's food cake, sweetened condensed milk, caramel, toffee, and chocolate.  It was probably the least diabetic-friendly meal a person could dream up.  My diet only allowed me an unsatisfying molecule of the main dish and I didn't dare to even taste the dessert.  I spent a lot of time cooking that day and very little time eating.  I think this proves what a great wife I am, even if I never make him a fancy meal ever again.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Securing the vote of the rapist demographic?

My husband and I discussed the news this morning and he shared with me that the GOP platform would prohibit abortion even for rape and incest victims.  "Is the GOP pro-rapist now?" I asked.

"No," he responded, "Just anti-woman."

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Piano Time

For about a year now, my kids have been taking piano lessons via home computer.  The main reason for doing it this way is price; the software for a year of lessons was about the same price as a month of lessons from a human teacher.

We are using Adventus Children's Music Journey software and I am quite happy with it.  The animation is excellent, the activities are fun for the kids, the software incorporates improvisation and music appreciation as well as note-reading, and the program is age-appropriate for young children.   The software is interactive and gives feedback to my kids about how well they play practice exercises onto an attached keyboard.  While shopping, I noticed that many of the piano software programs are really just videos that do not interact with the student, so I was careful to avoid such programs.

About six months into the lessons, our keyboard, which was about a decade old, lost the capacity to communicate with the computer and we had to get a new one.  The old keyboard still plays fine; it just doesn't interact with the software any more.  So now I hook the new keyboard to the computer and also put out the older one for my two-year-old to play along with whichever of his older siblings is doing the lesson.  For awhile, he didn't realize that the animated piano tutors weren't talking to him and was very pleased when they congratulated the student for playing well.  Now, he knows that the animated teacher is really talking about his sibling's work but he still enjoys having his own piano at lesson time and it keeps him from messing up the older kids' lessons by touching their keyboard while they are doing a lesson.

The animated teachers are based on various famous composers, but my kids insist that the Beethoven character is actually my oldest son.  I thought that maybe this was because they share the same wavy brown hairstyle, but when I asked if another character with a brown ponytail like me was actually Mommy, they thought I was crazy. Beethoven is the teacher in the video I attached; maybe someone else can explain to me why my kids think he is my four-year-old son.

The software introduces musical concepts at a child's pace--that  is, slow.  Really slow.  The kids are well into the lessons now, and the software is only beginning to introduce the concept of alphabetical note names.  While the kids have been learning to play different rhythms for some time now, the program still hasn't explained how to read rhythm in music.  I would like to find an adult program for myself and for my kids when they get older that moves a lot more quickly.  And of course, if any of my kids appear to develop a real interest in music, I am sure I will need to get them a real, human teacher.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Preschool Portraits

My son finished his first semester of preschool this past spring.  He still has another year left before school starts, so we had considered waiting until this year to do preschool.  However, he was just too bored at home all the time, so midyear we reconsidered and enrolled him.  Preschool was a hit.  On days when school was not in session he would complain to me that it wasn't fair that his older sister got to go to school every day and he didn't.

Here is his school portrait.  Adorable, no? Very unbiased individuals (his grandparents) have told me that he is beautiful and could be a child model.  In my equally unbiased opinion as his mother, I agree that he is an attractive child.  However, I question his modeling talent, since he is virtually impossible to photograph.  The other day, his father expressed similar concerns.  All of our kids are cute, he observed, but they couldn't be child stars because they can't take direction.  I was very impressed that the school photographer managed to get this photo.  When I try to take his picture, he squints and runs over to the camera for a fuzzy, extreme close-up.

His teacher also sent home some non-professional pictures of my boy at school activities.  It appears that whoever took these is better than I am at getting my son to hold still to be photographed, but the usual squint is there.

Fire Station Field Trip

Preschool Fiesta

The last time we tried to get a professional photo of my son, when he was three, he refused to be photographed at all.  This is the best individual photo we got: