Thursday, July 29, 2010

Gray's 1st Year

I hope you enjoy!

Thursday, July 22, 2010


Today my son is one. In some ways, the past year seems like a lifetime to me, too. I don't remember what life was like before Gray. That girl that I used to be who took risks just for the thrill is a fond memory in my mind, but she's not me anymore. That baby, the tiny 5 lb 7 ounce newborn narcoleptic that we brought home from the hospital? That's not Gray anymore, either. He is strong, independent, happy. He loves to be worn, loves to be naked, loves to be a big boy. He asserts his opinion without ever saying a word. When he's thirsty he will point to my glass of water, or climb to it if it is within reach. When he's done drinking he pushes the glass away with his hands and gives me a stern look. He gets excited when me and Daddy share a hug or kiss and walks over to get his hugs and kisses, too, with a big grin on his face and pure joy in his eyes. He kicks and squirms to be put down when we're outside, sometimes at his own peril. When he's done in the bath, he comes to the edge of the tub, looks me in the eye and lifts his left leg - always the left leg - out of the tub. When I say "Are you ready to get out?" and reach for his towel, he puts his leg down, grins, and reaches his arms high in the air.

He understands things now and it is an amazing gift to get to watch him learn. He knows that eyes are for seeing and he will peek into small spaces to see what is beyond. He knows how to push the top off the ottoman, but sometimes instead he just pushes it enough so there is a tiny crack, then he kneels down and squints in the crack to see what is inside. Other days he empties the ottoman of its' contents and pushes it around, so proud of himself you'd think he was pushing around a cart of gold. Just this last week he learned he can pull stuff, too. He pushed the ottoman across the room and then pulled it back, taking these funny exaggerated steps because he didn't quite understand how to pull and walk at the same time. Sometimes he gets down on his belly to see what is under the coffee table and I love watching him squat and look, get on knees and look, then finally get on his belly to get a good long look under the table.

He climbs everything. Nothing more can be said here because he gives me a heart attack every time, but I know it's only going to get worse. I fully expect he will have climbed to the ceiling by his next birthday.

He loves to be hung upside-down. He cracks up and it is hilarious for me, too. It's also the only time I can get a good look at his teeth (which are still in his gums) and see how they are progressing. Maybe someday he will get a tooth. Maybe today.

I know now that each day is fleeting. I remember the days when he woke up at 11 pm and stayed awake until 3 or 4 or 5 am and just how frustrated I'd be trying to get him back to sleep. I wish I'd been able to appreciate those first days a little more. Sometimes I get a glimpse of that newborn, at night when Gray nurses he rolls over to me and makes pitiful puppy sounds until he gets latched on and then sucks hard with a "MMMMmmm" like he's a dehydrated man in the desert who just found a spring, and I remember that newborn, with the ridges in his head, eyes that doodled all around and hands that spontaneously, uncontrollably, grabbed at the air.

This past year has been a blur and a lifetime. I love Gray more than I ever knew was possible. He inspires me to be a better person, a better mama. I hope he is better than me, smarter than me, kinder than me. I hope he is happy, successful, amazing. He is everything I ever dreamed of and so much more. My sweet boy is one today. Happy birthday, Gray. I love you.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

My Reading List: Unconditional Parenting

I recently checked out the book Unconditional Parenting by Alfie Kohn. The general idea of the book (and he has quite a bit of research and citations included) is that traditional, conventional, conditional parenting does not work - rewarding good behavior (including everything from "Good Job!" type praise rewards to money, presents, trips "I'll take you to the zoo on Friday if you good at dinner Thursday night!", etc.) makes kids NOT want to do the behavior in it's own right - they only want to do it for the reward (even in very young children, one of the reason we don't give Gray "Good Job!"'s for going potty is because then he won't want to potty because that is just what you do, he'll want to potty for the reward of recognition). Research has shown that toddlers who are given recognition for sharing ("Good Sharing!") are less likely to share if an adult isn't around to recognize and verbally praise them next time. (What other options do you have? Asking why - "Gray, I saw you share with your friend, why did you do that?" or just recognizing without putting conditions on the actions "I saw you share ___ toy with your friend" or not saying anything!) And the punishments, of which I'm sure we're all completely familiar and don't really need examples - taking away privileges, spanking and probably the worst offense - time out. (Why would I say time outs are the worst? because it is the epitome of actions that say "I don't love you right now, stay away from me until you conform to my desires and then I will love you again"). The goal of unconditional parenting is to let kids know that you love them ALL the time, when they are getting into the trash can, when they are crying, when they are frustrating, when they are "naughty", when they are great, when they are mediocre. And research shows that children who are allowed to be children are BETTER behaved - don't need to act out, are more verbal in their actions and will talk about WHY something happened. And when children are allowed to participate in their own learning, they are less likely to repeat those negative behaviors. (Does this work 100% of the time? no. But I've yet to meet a child who is 100% perfect.)

Everything mentioned in this book resonates with me. It strikes me to my core, the points made about conditional parenting, carrots and sticks (rewards and punishments), how children respond to parents and how children learn. It rings true to me. However, the entire time reading this book, there is a little devil in the back of my mind saying "impossible!" My entire life has been surrounded by conditional love, teachers, rewards, punishments. Religion is conditional (be good, go to heaven, be bad, go to hell, be good, God rewards you, be bad, Satan is leading you, etc.) Jobs are conditional (money is the reward, or sometimes achievements such as plaques and "good jobs!"). School was definitely conditional (grades are in themselves a conditional learning "tool" - which doesn't work). My parents were extremely conditional, more my mom than my dad, though definitely both (I got whipped with the belt more than once, had to pick a switch more than once, and got the rewards side, too - money, presents, etc. and always felt like my parents would not love me anymore if I failed classes - like once I'd made an "A", I set myself up to be an "A" student or my parents would be disappointed - which they were, on occasion).

My point is, conditions have been drilled into me since I was born. So how will I be able to completely change my behavior and responses with Gray in order to be an unconditional parent? I feel like I need to copy pages and phrases from this book and post them everywhere - my drawers, my fridge, my front door, my underwear. :)

Baby steps, is what I've decided. Be the turtle. Slow and steady. I'll learn right alongside Gray - as he does, and I'm sure it will be a process. I'm sure I will make mistakes and hopefully I will learn from them.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Boob Tube

I mostly don't really like TV. When I was in Grad School, for 9 months out of the year I lived in a bunkhouse on a 40,000 acre ranch and I had no TV. It was AWESOME. Dale and I went on our honeymoon to Dolan Falls on the Devil's River and there is no TV or phone or even cell signal out there and that is also fabulous and one of my favorite places to be in the whole world.

Anyhow, I mostly don't like TV but I watch it anyway. I watch shows like Grey's Anatomy because I've been watching since it started and I feel obligated to continue, though I really mostly have it on while I am doing something else. I probably couldn't tell you half of what went on this past season, even though I watched every episode. I do like the CSI shows and most shows on Showtime and HBO (Dexter is way awesome) and we also love Breaking Bad and Mad Med. I like to see HGTV because sometimes it gives me ideas for our house and it also gives me inspiration to do it myself. I prefer to watch most of these shows while I'm working because it distracts my brain so I can concentrate. That's weird, I know, but my High School was in pods and all rooms were connected so there was always noise, even when you were taking a test in your classroom, some other class was being lectured or having a discussion or watching a movie.

Usually the TV will be off in our house until Dale gets home and then he turns it on because he is one of those people who always wants the TV on. Sometimes he comes home, turns the TV on and then leaves the room and does something else for an hour or more.

Since I already don't much like TV, it really annoys me when I do like a show and it gets cancelled. I started watching ABC's Happy Town this year. I figured it would be like last year's Harpers Island and I probably wouldn't be much impressed with the writing or acting, but Happy Town has pleasantly surprised me and has been a darn good mystery, one that I got a little caught up in and was excited to hear the ending. (Though I am cautious about good mysteries since LOST and it's junky finale!) So what does ABC do? Cancel it. Of course. With only 2 episodes left in the season, which I think is pretty stupid, could they really not find time to air 2 more episodes? Not only that, but it was slated to play last night (they even advertised it) and instead they ran a rerun of House. I don't get that at all. You can see the last 2 episodes of the season on Hulu for free, but don't expect it to tie up the whole show in a neat little bow - the MagicMan is revealed but you don't find out why or how or where all the people are hidden. My hope is some other channel will pick up this show and run Season 2 so more can be revealed!

What shows do you love? Any disappointments in cancelled shows? I was pleasantly surprised with "Justified" on FX this year, I was afraid all season it would get cancelled but they made it a whole season and are slated for season 2! Also it is based off of books (Leonard Elmore, I think, it's on my list to get at the library) so IF it got cancelled, I could always read the books and those are better, anyway. Though I think Timothy Olyphant is kind of a hottie. :)

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