Thursday, June 30, 2011

Life with an 11-Month Old

I have many friends right now who are having children for the first time or who are planning on soon entering the "First Time Parents" stage of life, so I thought it might be interesting to them to read a blog post about life with an 11 month old. A preview of coming attractions, of sorts. I'd enjoy reading a post like that about the months beyond our current status.
When they're first born, the questions sound like do we schedule the baby or live by demand? Do we make them cry it out or do we not? Do we nurse or give them formula? And as baby gets older, the questions change to when do we introduce solid foods? How do we make sure baby gets a well-balanced meal? And we face yet another set of questions at 11 months: what behaviors will we allow, high chair etiquette, and do we remove baby or the object in question?

1. Allowed Behaviors.
One great piece of advice I read in Baby Wise (LOVE these books.) is that you will find discipline easier if unwanted behaviors are never allowed from day one, versus allowing the baby to do something for a while and then trying to end that behavior once it becomes destructive or fails to be cute any longer. In the same vein, if it wouldn't be okay for them to do something at someone's house, they aren't allowed to do it in ours- for example, taking books off the bookshelf or dvds out of the dvd cabinet. I wouldn't allow Roman to do that at a friend's house so he isn't allowed to do it here. That way he has no problem understanding the rules and he is set up for success rather than failure when we are out and about. It won't leave him confused as to why he's in trouble this time but he just did it an hour ago (at home) and it was perfectly fine.

2. High Chair Etiquette.
Once a baby is old enough to sit in a high chair, there are automatically decisions that you make (or don't make!) that set the stage for the future. For example, are they allowed to grab at the spoon? (no, sir!) Is it okay for them to throw things off the tray? (Absolutely not.) Can they yell and make loud noises while in it? (!) Are they allowed down the moment they get bored or do they have to stay in it until all family members are finished eating? (more on that in a sec) Is it funny when they spit food out of their mouths? (It seemed like it the first time...not so much the time and time and time after that. Mommy lesson learned. Ha!) And more.
We have decided for our family that we have very specific expectations for high chair behavior. Since we do not think it is okay for our children to leave the table at a restaurant and walk around (before the family is finished eating), they will not be allowed to leave the high chair and walk around when the mealtime isn't over at home. We have a little boy who loves to walk and is busy 100% of his awake hours- anyone who knows us can vouch for his high activity level. But that doesn't change the fact that when he is put in the high chair, he stays there until Jerr and I have finished eating, too.
Another decision we've made is for Roman to eat each meal from his high chair, including every snack. It provides opportunities to practice good behavior and is just cleaner and less to vacuum later. Plus, Sophie can't help herself to his meals. It also teaches him to be mindful about when he is eating and will, I hope, keep him from developing habits that find him mindlessly eating while watching tv. It's important to me that we are teaching our kids healthy living habits for life!

3. Remove baby or the object?
I've found there to be two basic schools of thought concerning the things babies/young children are allowed to get into: remove the object, thereby removing the temptation for trouble, or teach baby what they can and cannot touch. I know people from both sides who have found success with their choice. (Yes, that means I actually know people- more than one!- who have SUCCESSFULLY taught their children that they can't touch that pretty decorative item instead of child-proofing their decor.) We are also of this school of thought. To child-proof our house we have put the plugs in the electric sockets and will be installing a drawer-closer-thingy to the knife drawer since Roman is able to open that drawer. Everything else has stayed where it is: glass and otherwise. All other drawers and cabinets are able to be opened: dvd case, etc.
Yes, this makes me work to know where he is and what he's doing at all times but I find it important to make teachable moments out of life. He has to learn that he can't mess in Sophie's food and water dishes because I'm not going to go to the extra work during the day of putting them down when she needs to eat and drink and putting them up when she doesn't. To me, there isn't a good reason that Roman can't learn to obey the word "no." And he has...for the most part! There are days he pushes boundaries and wants to know if his fingers really will be flicked if he puts his hands in Sophie's water bowl after I have told him not to. Yes, handsome boy, they will be. And I'm sure many more boundary-testing days will follow. But this is our family's house and we have decided to raise our children in a family-centered home, not a child-centered home. Sorry, Roman, it's not all about you and you will have to learn to behave appropriately in our family home. We will not decorate around you.
Jerry and I have decided to make one exception- Christmas time. Since the decorations and tree will be seasonal only and out for a short 2 months, it's not worth the battle to keep Roman from pulling ornaments off the tree or messing with the garland I usually hang from the table in the living room. This year I will decorate for the holidays keeping Roman in mind, as much as is reasonable. So what if the Christmas tree's lights and garland go the whole way down (maybe the garland is even overly hopeful?) but the ornaments are limited to the top half. Who will really notice anyway? It's worth it to make sure our sentimental ornaments stay safe and don't become the martyr of a lesson taught. Some things are worth the sacrifice. The "Our First Christmas 2007" ornament is not.

So to those of you who are approaching parenthood for the first time, or who have a baby younger than Roman, I hope this inspired some thought and dialog at home. Jerry and I have had a BLAST talking about our personal thoughts on parenting and how we see our household being run. And more than anything I have learned that "the rules" look different for each family, depending on what you're willing to put up with and how you were raised. I'm also learning everything evolves. It's a process. It's a constant try and fail until you find what works. All I know is that it's been the most rewarding thing I've ever poured my time and effort into and I can't wait to find out what the next month looks like...or next week, for that matter! :)

Monday, June 27, 2011

June Happenings

I always start writing posts with the knowledge of content...right now, not so much. I just know that it's been a while since I've posted and feel like I need something to say to let you know the Beckers are alive and well. So let's take a little trip called "recap of life these days since the last post; basically, the month of June!" Please keep all hands and arms inside the car....

The first week of June we celebrated Jerry's birthday- June 9th. So to celebrate...we did nothing. LAUREN Becker loves to make a big deal out of birthdays and make sure everyone knows that a birthday is taking place! I want to to go crazy! That's why, as a teacher, I always brought each student up to the front of the class on their birthday and forced them to endure a very dramatic singing of "Happy Birthday" by myself (on one knee, of course!) and the rest of the class! JERRY Becker likes to fly under the radar and wants no fuss. Two words: Party. Pooper. I was not allowed to send a cake to work with him, I was not allowed to tell the people he worked with that it was his birthday, I wasn't allowed to plan a party or get balloons....IT KILLED ME! Instead, I arranged a "birthday weekend" of sorts that respected the wishes of the birthday man but still allowed people to celebrate my husband. He is worth being celebrated! When you have a good man, you want him to know. :) So we did something small with a few friends Friday night and another thing with a few different friends the following night. That was our compromise. Roman will have no such luck on his birthday next month. Tough luck, bucko.

June also saw Mister Roman taking his first steps. He was tempting fate many times for weeks, trying to decide if he really cared enough to do it. Jerr got him to walk by fooling Ro and making him think he was being helped even though he was cruising on his own two legs, but the moment Dad was busted, the boy sat down. But as I was teaching piano lessons, the student's mom persuaded Roman to walk a few steps to her- and once I learned how to coax him (let's remember I know NOTHING about babies, pre-Roman!) he continued walking and grinning! He still didn't care enough to try to get around that way and limited his walking to the times he was asked and rewarded by an excited Mama or Dada on the other side but that has changed now. Turns out, one can move from point A to point B faster when walking versus crawling, and Roman doesn't mess around. So, walking has become the method of choice. He still doesn't always make it the entire away across a room on both feet, though sometimes he does, and will finish the journey by crawling. But I expect that will change in another week or two as well. BABIES CHANGE AND GROW SO FAST. What they can't quite do this week they will execute next week in a manner that suggests they've been doing it for years.

Aside from that, we've had good friend hang out times and I taught a session on vocal technique and support at our church's workshop for the vocalists...and Jerry is still taking college classes full time, in addition to working full time. That is the Becker life. And it's a good life. :)

I realized last night, while taking Sophie for her evening walk, that we have visitors in July, Roman and I take a trip to PA/VA in August, Cali in October, big holidays to celebrate through November and December, Becker Baby #2 joining us in January, Crider parents visit in March, Becker parents visit in May....and we are off island and back to the mainland, God willing, in December 2012. Wow. I have a feeling this next year and a half is going to fly.

So now you know- if you plan to take advantage of the free room in Hawaii and plenty of Becker loving, you have limited time to do so. SO COME VISIT ;)