15 Month Reflections

The idea of time dragging by is such a foreign concept to me these days.

Most days I’m up and moving from start to finish. Gideon keeps me busy!

Important Activities

I know I say this every month, and although this has been the most parentally-challenging phase in our short lives as parents, we both agree that 15 month old Gideon is our favorite. One moment we are gushing all over our little toddler, and the next we are scrambling to figure out how to help this tiny person handle his gargantuan emotions.

Our biggest challenge right now is teaching Gideon how to channel his feelings, so he can regulate them. He’s began having temper outbursts, which tells us that he feels strongly about something and doesn’t know what to do about it. “I’m MAD!” is the extent of Gideon’s thought process when he doesn’t get his way. When he sees that we don’t give in, he then tries to figure out what it would take to change our minds. It’s part of his job as a 15 month old to explore – not just how far he can go, or what he’s physically capable of – but what he can do to change the circumstances in his favor. Our job is to validate his emotion, and show him what to do next without budging on the limits we’ve set. We want Gideon to know that he can always verbalize how he feels to us, and that we’ll always listen to him. We want him to know that he doesn’t need to go to extreme measures to get his point across. Communication is inevitably frustrating for him right now in most [abstract] situations, but as he gets older we want to have a wide open line of communication about everything!

Let's be real. Who doesn't like to read while on the potty?

Who doesn’t like to read on the potty? If it makes diaper changing easier, hand the child a book!

That being said, Gideon is not even 2 years old yet. We need to be realistic about our expectations of his response to our instruction. Right now, a successful response to our instruction might be yelling without the banging on his tray. We may accept that and validate it as an appropriate expression of anger on his part. We are not unaware of how frustrating it is when you can’t have something that you want so badly. Not to mention, he hasn’t found his words yet. Talk about frustrating!

I feel like the source of Gideon’s frustrated yelling is never rooted in defiance – but rather in him simply trying to tell us that he’s not happy with the situation with the added annoyance of feeling misunderstood.

Give it a month, and it’ll all change. Defiance might kick in, he might start biting/kicking/hitting. No point in dwelling on what might happen. We’re doing what we can right now, and hoping that our efforts pay off in the long run. The older he gets, the more tools we’ll gather in our parent tool belts to deal with what’s next. We knew going into it that parenting would evolve, and every phase of Gideon’s life would bring new challenges. So our plan is to stick to our guns, discuss things and be on the same page, and present a united front to Gideon and everyone who might scrutinize our parenting. I don’t know what I’d do without Daniel by my side.

To put more of a positive spin on these reflections of mine, I want to chronicle a huge success that I witnessed today. Gideon’s biggest outburst yet was one day when Daniel was setting a limit on how far Gideon could walk down our driveway. We live on a relatively busy road, and our house is right past a sharp curve. We have had a few cars on our lawn over the last few years, and we take extreme caution in how close Gideon is allowed to get to the street. There is a specific line in the driveway that he is not permitted to cross.

On this specific day, Gideon was determined to walk to the street, and Daniel was determined to not allow it. I watched from our dining room window, as Daniel did a wonderful job of getting down to Gideon’s level and talking to him calm but firmly. Gideon knew exactly what Daniel was saying, and was having none of it. Daniel gave him 2 or 3 chances to follow directions. Every time Gideon lost it, Daniel would bring Gideon into the house and let him have the floor to let it all out. We stayed close and let him know we understood and were listening (we are trying to be purposeful about “teachable moments”, and Gideon is not teachable during meltdowns – so we wait). When Gideon was collected enough, Daniel told him that he would love to have fun outside, but that first required obeying. After a few attempts, they’d both had enough and it was time for dinner anyways. In true Gideon fashion, food made him forget all his worries.

Today, a week or two later, Gideon and I were outside while Daniel mowed the lawn, and I decided to see just what my boy had learned from that experience with his dad. Gideon remembered exactly what was taught! He began to slow his pace as he approached “the line”, and I said “remember, here we stop”. And he stopped! He didn’t put up a struggle the whole time were outside. Way to go Daniel! There was one time when he smiled at me and put one foot past the line. I looked away letting him know that I was not going to play his game (because it isn’t a game), and that was the extent of his “exploration”. I’ve found that Gideon is more likely to be persistent in testing his limits when I react to what he shouldn’t be doing after he knows better. Instead, what seems to work best is celebrating when he does what he should. He loves attention, and he can have all of mine when he obeys!

Gideon brings so much joy to our lives that we are often overwhelmed, and wonder what on earth with did with our lives before he arrived. We can’t wait for his communication to get better and better. I always tell him, in the car, at the table, during bath time, “Tell me all your thoughts. I want to know them all “. I can’t wait for the first time I hear him tell me “I love you”.

We have been really emphasizing basic manners with Gideon, and Daniel has been consistently telling Gideon to thank me for the meal at dinner time. My highlight for the day is when Gideon signed “thank you” at dinner all on his own, simply because he was grateful. So sweet!

When I'm pulling up Gideon's pants after changing his diaper, he likes to lay his head on my shoulder. Never want to forget how it feels!

When I’m pulling up Gideon’s pants after changing his diaper, he likes to lay his head on my shoulder. Never want to forget how it feels!

Abby’s loud meowing just woke Gideon from his slumber, and he’s banging on the side of his crib with his pacifier. “Mom! I’m awake! Come check on me!”. Duty calls.

This just in! If you are considering adopting a cat, look no further. I’ve got an adorable tabby who is house trained, has all her vaccines, and no chance of procreating.

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Montessori Baby Steps

Look who just woke up from a 2 hour nap!

Look who just woke up from a 2 hour nap!

Today went by really smoothly. It was rainy, so I planned on staying in. We had a productive morning, and I got my morning routine done ahead of schedule. Gideon took a 2 hour nap in the late morning, which meant I got some “me time”.  I spent it getting ready for the day at my own leisure, prepping dinner in the crock pot, and doing some reading.

Gideon wears Socks

Gideon brought me these socks and signed “help”. He kept them on for a long while!

Three socks, two feet. Hmm...

Three socks, two feet. Hmm…

Like I said, I had planned to stay in today, but Gideon had other plans.

I can take a hint!

Instead of going for a walk with thunder and rain threatening, we made a pharmacy run, and then hit the library. I had to rush home from story time yesterday and wasn’t able to check out any new books for Gideon, so today was library book day.

I’m looking forward to switching out his current book stash in the living room for the new ones we picked up today. I keep 3 or 4 books in a basket under a shelf I have set up specifically for Gideon’s toys. I’m trying my hand at the Montessori method of playing and learning, and so far I like it. Here’s a picture I took the night I set up his first shelf.

Gideon's first Montessori toy setup. Ready to be explored in the morning.

Gideon’s first Montessori toy setup. Ready to be explored in the morning.

These were the only toys available to him on the first floor. Gideon first day of Montessori was a total success. He sat on the black mat and looked at his choices. He grabbed his dog of course, because that’s what he does in the morning – snuggles a stuffed animal. And then he went straight for the container that had a police car and a train in it. The “transportation bin” if you may. He’s been obsessed with everything that goes, so I wasn’t surprised. I decided to leave him alone to explore this new setup. I made breakfast and by then, he had taken to pushing his wagon cart around with the train inside. I was over the moon thrilled when I saw that he had put the car right back where he found it! He totally got it!

Montessori baby in the making. Success!

Montessori baby in the making. Success!

This is the moment I knew we were on to something good. Gideon saw that each toy was set on a specific place on the shelf. He decided to play with the car and train. He thought he’d play with the car some other time, so he put it back in its spot. Amazing.

I’m nowhere close to being skillful at Montessori. I’m sure the skilled would have page long lists of what I’m missing or doing wrong. But Gideon was successful at something, and that means more to me than following any single method to a T! What I’ve learned, I’ve learned from my mother who is an all-time Montessori expert. I’ve always found it interesting, and loved observing her little ones be so focused and pleased with knowing what is expected of them.

I couldn’t help but realize how Gideon grew bored of his toys very quickly when they were strewn throughout the living room.  I also put myself in his shoes and realized that maybe the messy living room stressed him out and was no fun, just like a messy room is stressful and no fun for me!

Up until the beginning of the month we’d done a few things in taking steps towards simplifying his life and helping him enjoy play more. We tried to keep the amount of toys to has to a reasonable amount, and were doing consistent toy rotation. But we found ourselves rotating toys a little too frequently. We brainstormed, and came to the conclusion that just like Gideon thrives with structure and routines, he might benefit from the same in play time. We want Gideon to enjoy his toys, and explore them. It’s also a big deal for us that Gideon learns to respect and take care of his belongings. One of the main pulls towards trying Montessori is that it promotes independence, responsibility, simplicity, and peace in structure. Not to mention it teaches children how nice it is to live without clutter around them. All things we want for Gideon to learn early on!

Just as with everything else, we will take things from the Montessori method and adapt things to what Gideon needs as an individual. He has been less “boredom whiny”, and although we have some harder days than others, he is better able to clean up after himself when it’s not such a daunting task, and he knows where each item belongs. I’ll probably modify as he matures, but for now, the simpler the better.

If you take nothing else from this entry, just remember that a cluttered play space is a cluttered mind for your child, just like a cluttered house is for you. And

Help me do it myself

 

Gideon is 15 Months Old!

Although the first week of June had a few rough days in it, the bulk of the week was a whole lot of fun. If it weren’t for my friends and family who support and have compassion on this new mom, I would have a much harder time realizing that the glass is usually mostly full! A special thanks to my sweetheart, Daniel. He knows exactly what to do to save me from myself ❤

It doesn’t hurts that I have this cutie around me all the time to put my dilemmas into perspective.

look at that 15 month cuteness. Already getting himself into predicaments.

look at that 15 month cuteness. Already getting himself into predicaments.

Gideon is 15 months old today! He looked like such a little man in his church getup this morning. I had to catch a picture of my boys as we walked to our car after having lunch with a group of friends.

My boys in plaid.

My boys in plaid.

He is a pro walker by now. He gave up the “frankenstein walk” as Daniel called it, about a week or two ago. His leg muscles are much stronger now, and he can stand from a sitting position as well as bend over to pick things up without falling. Gideon’s motor planning is also developing very quickly. He has the skill of climbing stairs down pat, and now we are working hard on learning how to go down the stairs safely. At the rate he’s going, he’ll have that mastered in no time. When Gideon isn’t pitter pattering around the house, you can find him twirling. We have a twirler on our hands, and it’s quite precious. He’s adopted “the twirl” as one of his main dance moves now.

As if it weren’t enough that we now have a full fledged toddler on our hands, Gideon also keeps Daniel and I in check when it comes to sign language. We find ourselves having to keep up with the signs he’s learning, and go through his repertoire in our heads before we understand him at times. A lot of times children repeat themselves because they are not understood, but in Gideon’s case repetition is caused by slow learning parentals who are saying “horse? No, that’s [insert sign here]. What does [insert Gideon’s sign here] mean again?”. Poor kid.

15 month mastered sign repertoire: the staples (more, eat, all done), thank you, please, help, drink, diaper, ball, rabbit, horse, papi (dad), mama, bird, flower, love you, bath, book, car, banana, milk, train, dog, cat, sleep, stop, I’m sorry.

15 month emerging sign repertoire: grandpa, grandma,

He

– tells us when his diaper is dirty, but runs away when we address the issue.

– hates diaper changes.

– gets his shoes and brings them to us when he wants to go outside.

– asks for help and then leads us to whatever he wants. (which lately has been Daniel’s mandolin)

– is extremely social. He can’t enter a store without getting every single person’s attention by yelling “ah!”, and then smiling and waving at them. It’s the norm to go out and hear comments like “he’s such a happy little guy!”, “He is so friendly!”, “Oh. my. gosh. What a sweetie.”, “Is he always this happy?”

– is playing with toys more appropriately every day.

– prefers every day household items to toys a lot of the times. (currently: spoons)

– is flexible when life calls to be that way, but loves structure and order.

– has taken really well to Montessori toy setup. I initiated this method at the beginning of the month and so far so good. I’ll write more in detail about that later.

– is only getting his pacifier at nap time and at night.

– says “tete” for “chupete” which is pacifier in spanish. He isn’t producing a lot of words right now, but we are perfectly and totally ok with that. Bilingual language learners are generally later talkers, and his expressive vocabulary through signing does the trick for him for now. When he feels the need to start talking, he will. For now, we model.

–  eats everything under the sun.

– loves bath time, our cat Abby, being outside takes the gold. If it were up to him, our living quarters would consist of a hammock.

Pictures from the first week of June

Gideon at the Playground 2 Gideon at the Playground 3 IMG_0041 IMG_0049

Gideon gets ready to go run errands

Gideon gets ready to go out for a picnic

we took an evening hike, and it was just what the doctor ordered for this drained mama.

we took an evening hike, and it was just what the doctor ordered for this drained mama.

Shawnee Lookout Hike 2

In summary: the best things in life. My husband and my son in the thick of God's creation. The best faith booster for me.

In summary: the best things in life. My husband and my son in the thick of God’s creation. The best faith booster for me.

I find myself getting giddy when Gideon wakes up. He makes me so happy!

I find myself getting giddy when Gideon wakes up. He makes me so happy!

Our first Needtobreathe Concert

On Saturday night we left Gideon with the grandparents, and went on a date to end all dates. I wished I were 10 feet tall, because I couldn’t jump or stretch my arms up as high as I wanted. The energy these guys exude is just out of this world.

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Drive All Night. I have no words. I jumped my heart out.

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I got my “screamy picture” that I was determined to get.

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After the 2nd encore, they came out with an old fashioned mic and guitar to end the concert on a perfect note with rendition of "More Heart, Less Attack"

After the 2nd encore, they came out with an old fashioned mic and guitar to end the concert on a perfect note with rendition of “More Heart, Less Attack”

 

As usual, we are extremely proud of our little boy. Happy 15 months son!

 

Can I Have Some Patience With That?

My energy has been really depleted the last day or two. I have a tendency to run low on iron, so I’m wondering if upping my intake of eggs and/or leafy greens would give me the boost I need to get back to normal. I could definitely stand to put a little oomph in my cooking. I’ve let my meal planning fall by the wayside this week. The little voice of weariness has been spewing off negative comments in my head like “Don’t you miss take out? Don’t you miss adding water and voila?”. And the truth is, I do. I don’t miss the food, but I just miss being able to take a break once in a while and getting my food handed to me through a window.
All that to say, all this lack of energy has really made me lazy. I get the bare minimum done to keep the house running, but nothing more. It’s incredible how just a few days of negligence really sets me back.
Most importantly, and high above my housewife duties, I have really had to gather stamina from where there was none in order to be an attentive mother to Gideon.

Poor little guy just wants more attention/love/snuggles/diaper changes/milk/snack.

Poor little guy just wants more attention/love/snuggles/diaper changes/milk/snack.

From before Gideon was born I was told many times that, the more he learned and the more he matured, the more demanding of my time and attention he would become. Most days I am OK with that. As a rule, I’m really grateful because I feel God blessed me an extra reserve of patience for my little boy. I can usually pep talk myself into putting myself into Gideon’s shoes pretty easily. And that usually works in terms of calming him down and achieving good results. I can count on one hand the times I’ve felt like I was about to lose in Gideon’s lifetime.

One of those was tonight, and I’m not proud of it. I had to remind myself time and time again that poor Gideon was overly tired, and that [much like most human beings] there was a slim chance of reasoning with him in his current state. So I did my best to calm him, hurry, and keep him from wiggling off of the changing table. To make any new demands on him would have set us both up for failure. I want to make sure that when I speak to him he is able to internalize at least a little of it, and follow through successfully.

Child Patience Poster

Doing what we can as parents to set up Gideon for success in terms of behavior, takes a huge amount of energy. It feels like going to the moon and back.

But who wouldn't go to the moon and back for this sweet little boy?

But who wouldn’t go to the moon and back for this sweet little boy?

Tomorrow is a new day.

That is my mantra these days. Yesterday is done, and there is no point in dwelling on it. I’ve reviewed it, determined the areas I could have improved on, and now it’s time to take tomorrow and strive to make it the best day yet.

What do you do to get yourself out of a funk?

April and May Recap | Part 4 | Finale

In a desperate attempt to catch up and start blogging more frequently, here is a recap of the month of May in pictures and video snippets.

Gideon's first time on the swings!

Gideon’s first time on the swings!

Gideon likes Swinging

This cutie guzzles down his breakfast smoothies!

This cutie guzzles down his breakfast smoothies!

My grocery shopping buddy.

My grocery shopping buddy.

Daniel and Gideon by the Air Care helicopter that Daniel's dad used to pilot years ago.

Daniel and Gideon by the Air Care helicopter that Daniel’s dad used to pilot years ago.

Daniel, Gideon, and the cousins at Touch-A-Truck. Standing next to the cruiser Daniel was giving tours of.

Daniel, Gideon, and the cousins at Touch-A-Truck. Standing next to the cruiser Daniel was giving tours of.

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Gideon is so proud of his papi! Would follow him anywhere and thinks Daniel is just the greatest.

Cousins by the fire truck

Cousins by the fire truck

Bon Apetit for sure!

Bon Apetit for sure!

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He’s so proud he’s finally big enough to rock Moriah in the rocking chair!

Picking books at the library.

You mean I can’t take them all home?

This picture is actually from April, but oh well. I loved this outfit on my little sidekick.

This picture is actually from April, but oh well. I loved this outfit on him. He looks so serious next to his smiley cousins.

Video Disclaimer: these are of the “Family Video” category. Intended mostly to serve as a way to keep memories and show people what Gideon is up to, who can’t see him on a daily basis.