Monday, January 26, 2009


Judging by the look on his face, Ben is not a fan.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

First Step Towards #3?

Before Ben was born, we were 90% sure we wanted a third child. After he was born, it became really difficult to even think about going back to the place of sleep deprivation we were currently in, once we'd made it back out of that dark forest. It's just so hard to find the stamina some days.

But since he's had his own room, he's started to sleep much better, and so have we. He actually went 14 hours the other night - I was amazed! And on most nights for the past few weeks, he's only been waking up once. I think we're close to a regular run of nights of solid sleep.

We've once again started to kick around the idea of a third child. We have some concerns about the uneven numbers and how that will affect each of our current kids. If we have another girl, will Rachel feel competitive? Will Ben feel left out? If we have another boy, will Rachel be sad that she doesn't have a sister? Will Ben be sorry that he's not the baby any more? But overall I think those concerns would go away, just like our concerns about Rachel not feeling as special after a sibling arrived have pretty much dematerialized.

Not that there's no competitiveness on her part. It's pretty much subconscious, but she's been whinier since Ben's arrival. Things she wouldn't have whined or cried about in the past now cause her to do so, and I'm sure it's at least partly because she regularly hears a crying baby who's getting attention. I know that it's hard for her at times to share the attention that she used to have all to herself, but mostly she's adjusting very well. And I think that a third child wouldn't be as tough of an adjustment, because Rachel will be used to sharing us by then, and Ben will have always had a sibling to share us with.

To that end, we bought sock rings recently. What are sock rings, you ask? A sock ring is a little plastic ring that you push a pair of socks through before you put them in the laundry, thereby eliminating the time-consuming and frustrating task of matching up socks afterward and trying to figure out to which child they belong. And when we bought the rings, we bought 5 colors - just in case we have a third child, so that each of us has our own color. We figured it was just easier to get them now when we were getting them for the rest of us.

It may seem silly, but it felt like the first tangible and real step towards making that decision on a third child. That still feels a little overwhelming when I think about the reality of another child added to the mix. I'm sure that, with every child, the noise in the home goes up exponentially. But we don't feel like we're quite ready to be done yet. So we'll have to wait and see, but I think that we'll be hearing the pitter-patter of a third set of feet at some point.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Brotherly Love

Tonight I was on the floor in Ben's room.  Ben was sitting on one of my legs, bouncing.  Rachel had been on the rocking chair but decided to leave the room.  She walked past us and straight into the doorframe, hitting the strike plate and scraping some skin off her forehead.  There was a few seconds' pause and then full force screaming crying.  I told her to come back and she reluctantly came back and I put my arm around her.  Ben looked up at her, saw her crying and you could just see his little face crush.  In a few seconds, still staring at her, he's crying as loudly as she is, real tears down both their cheeks, won't take his eyes off of her.  It was heartbreaking and heartwarming all at the same time.

In order to get him to stop crying, we had to get her calmed down and no longer crying first. 

Sleep Success!

Last night, Ben slept from 7:30 pm until 9:30 this morning. No waking up, and I didn't even hear him fussing that I can recall. This is the first time that he's gone from when he was put down until he was really ready to be up in the morning without waking up.

I went to bed about midnight and first woke up at 7:35 and was shocked at the time. Then I fell back asleep and woke up at 8:30. Went and checked on Ben, and he was sleeping peacefully still. I could *not* believe it. He's been doing much better since getting into his own room, and for the past week he's only woken up once most nights, but I wasn't expecting him to go for 14 HOURS in a row. I'm hoping this is the start of him sleeping through the night. He's a little over 8 months old, and Rachel was sleeping through the night consistently by about 9 months, so if he's not there yet he probably will be soon. It's a light at the end of the sleep-deprivation tunnel, people!

Anger Management

Rachel went through a period of extreme anger for a while, starting sometime before Ben was born and continuing for several months after his birth. I'm not sure if it was coincidence, her age (4), knowing that a new baby was coming or a combination of several things, but she would fly off the handle over not getting a particular snack, having to turn off the TV, being told "no" or asked to stop doing something she shouldn't be doing, being asked to go to the bathroom, and so on. You never knew what would set her off, but she'd get angry and scream, hit, kick, even spit.

Thankfully we worked through that period and she's been much better. Her anger issues vastly improved once she started back to preschool in September. I don't think they were rooted in boredom, but that definitely contributed to some of it, and school provided enough of a distraction to help break the pattern.

Lately we've been seeing little bursts of it again here and there. For the most part it hasn't been physical, like it was before, but she'll still just burst out and get upset and yell "You make me so angry!" even if it's something that, to us, is a very minor thing. I've been talking with her about not getting so upset about things. I've told her that it's good that she's gotten better about handling her anger, but that there are times when she gets angry when she doesn't need to be, and that she needs to work on not being angry. Hard to get that point across and I'm not sure how to teach it, but this morning she took a big step in making progress.

James had asked her to turn off the computer (she'd been playing some games), and told her no when she asked to watch a TV show. She got upset and raised her fist, but just held it there. She looked around and spotted a chair. Although James warned it that it might hurt if she hit the chair, she did it anyway. No complaints afterward so it couldn't have hurt much, and James picked her up and held her.

A few minutes later, she told James "I've decided not to be angry, even though I'm still a little angry." She came to me and told me the same thing, and when I asked her what helped her to stop being so angry, she said it was when Daddy picked her up. And then "I needed to think for a minute, and then I was able to be calm."

It's so awesome to see steps like this in a child's behavior and attitude. I know the ability to decide to calm down is one that will be of great value to her, and it's also something that can effect a big-picture change in her behavior and not just be a result of Rachel hiding her anger and having it come out in other areas. I hope we see it happening more often as she learns that she can control how she wants to react to things.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Steel Trap Mind

Four or five months ago, I was reading "The Pixar Touch" - an unauthorized look at Pixar.  A really great read that really makes you feel connected to this amazing company and its people.  Often, I would read it aloud to Rachel at night after she had gone to bed.  After she'd fall asleep, I'd continue reading.

This afternoon we were watching the Pixar retrospective on the Wall-E DVD.  It was doing all the beginning stuff, talking about CalArts and all.  And it shows the students from the first animation class, which included Andrew Stanton, Tim Burton and Brad Bird, zooming in on each student as their name is mentioned.  And Rachel who had been somewhat bored with the video to this point suddenly pipes up "I've seen that picture before.  It was in the Pixar book you read to me."  Seriously.  A black white photo from a few decades ago of a bunch of 20-somethings with funny hair and big mustaches.

Yes, this was a Pixar movie, but still.. this attention to detail she has is spooky sometimes.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Don't eat peanut butter, FDA official warns

MSNBC.COM -- Federal health authorities on Saturday urged consumers to avoid eating cookies, cakes, ice cream and other foods that contain peanut butter until authorities can learn more about a deadly outbreak of salmonella contamination. More...

Grandma's Smile

Ben has Grandma Palmateer's (James' mom's mom's) smile.  I wish she had been able to meet him (she passed away about 4 weeks before he was born) but I think it's God's way of helping us to remember her.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

A Short Post of Rachelisms

Called down from upstairs this morning:
"Mom! I just can't stop zoning out."


A few days ago, Ben was babbling and cooing and doing all sorts of cute talk. Rachel said "I'm going to cry, it's so sweet!"


Her latest turn of phrase is "I haven't (fill in the blank) for days." For example, "I haven't watched that TV show for days now." "I haven't seen my toy for days, weeks now!"

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The Horror!

Watch Out, World

Rachel took her first dance class in the fall. The Little Ballerinas class she wanted to take was all full when I called to sign her up, but because of high demand they started a second class. Turns out only 3 girls took the second class because the others had already signed up for other classes, so Rachel had a very personal experience for her first dance class, which I'm sure was good for her ability to start grasping the concepts and learning some control over her body.

The class recital was in early December, and the teacher had the 3 girls perform a routine to Madonna's version of "Santa Baby." They could *not* have been cuter.

Here's Miss Rachel occupying herself with coloring before it was her group's turn to go on stage.
She had a bit of trouble finding her mark...twice. They had moved some things around during rehearsal and she was the only one with a purple piece of tape instead of white. She did fine adjusting the first time, but when it happened again and people started chuckling, she brought her elbow up to her mouth and looked very sad for a brief moment. I was about half a second away from going down there and getting her when she ran over and joined in a line and started back up with the routine, and she did really well the rest of the time.

The pose at the end. I wish it was clearer, but it was harder than anything for the camera to capture any decent light in the room.

I think they were supposed to be taking bows here. This was just before the teacher motioned to them to blow some kisses, but I think Rachel was the only one who did.

Rachel with her teacher, Miss Sue.

A tired-out little girl post-performance.

She announced after the recital that she wanted to take cheerleading next. The cheerleading class also performed a routine during the recital, and apparently she thought that seemed cool. The starting age is too high (7, I think?), so instead she's taking Dance-A-Rama I, which teaches the basics of ballet and tap. The ballet will mostly be a refresher for what she's already learned, but I think that's good because she'll feel really confident with that part and it will probably help her with being comfortable learning tap. Plus she's super-excited about the tap shoes and all the clicky sounds she gets to make with those :)

If I can figure out how to upload the video and just get the recital performance as a segment, I'll post it here. I'm not totally ignorant technologically (although I don't know how to upload video yet), it's more a matter of finding out how and making the time to do it.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Still, Small Quiet

We have a routine for Rachel that ends with teeth brushing, flossing, face washing, a devotional reading and then a prayer in her room.  We've done this since she was a baby and I regret that we haven't done the same with Ben.  But usually after the prayer, Rachel will ask one of us (usually me) to "stay for a little while."  I'll lay on the floor in her room, but the rules are that her eyes and mouth must stay closed and her head must stay on the pillow.  Sometimes I'll fall asleep next to her bed and sometimes I'll only stay for a short while before attempting to make an escape (which she usually catches me doing).  Far too often I'll beg off.  Tonight I lay there next to her bed and listened to her breathing growing heavier and heavier.  Her hand was at her face, but its movements had slowed.  The rain continued to beat heavily on the house.  I began to get up to leave.  She whispered, asking me once again to stay.  I declined and she sat up, eyes still closed and stretched out her arms.  Another hug, another kiss and she laid back down, and I departed, whispering to her the two last things she hears from me every night (which means I repeat it an awful lot some nights when she has a problem staying in bed and is calling for us constantly), "Good night" and "I love you."

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Wrong Question

Tonight, during the drive home, Rachel asked "Mom?" and then waited for Lori to finish what she was saying.  When Lori answered her, Rachel asked "How long until we get home?" And then immediately "That wasn't what I was going to ask.  But I forgot, so I said that instead."  Love how her mind works.


Tonight, we were getting Ben ready for bed and Lori was washing under his chin with a wipe.  He laughed so loud in that way only tiny babies can.  Rachel was in the room, too, so I tickled her.  Soon, everyone was tickling everyone else.  A very special moment.


Ben wants to walk.  He will pull himself up on anything he can, but then he'll try to let go, or only touch any surfaces with the lightest of touch, this evening going so far as to figure that if he used his elbow, he'd have two hands free to grab the remote off the coffee table and shove in his mouth.  He is just fascinated by the silver remote for some reason.  He gets quite frustrated when he falls or can't keep his balance and I think he'll walk before he crawls.