Tuesday, May 31, 2011

My Baby Won't Eat Solids!

In general, babies can start trying solid foods around the age of six months. Some are ready a little earlier, some a little later. Either way, it shouldn’t be an issue that you should be stressed out about. Listen to your instincts and follow your baby’s cues- he or she will eat when they’re ready.
My son is now seven months old. He has been showing signs of being ready for solids- he has lost his tongue-thrust reflex, is sitting up unsupported, has been grabbing at our food when we eat, etc. A few weeks ago, I tried feeding him some avocado. At first he seemed interested, then refused to eat any more. We also tried some sweet potato, which he spat out. Today I gave him some pear. He dry-heaved, then clenched his mouth shut. (It was truly hilarious!) I guess he’s not quite ready yet…
I am not the least bit worried about him not wanting solids. I know he will eat solid food at some point- he is not going to go off to college and still want to breastfeed. I will just try every once in a while, without pushing it, and one day he’ll be interested. Until he is, breast milk is all he needs.
He may even be one of the babies who don’t like pureed food. It is quite possible he won’t want to eat anything unless he can feed it to himself. I honestly can’t blame him- have you tried the mushed up peas? They are disgusting!
I always try to imagine the days before there were age charts, pediatrician recommendations and guidelines, baby food jars, and so on. What did mothers feed their babies first? They gave them whatever they themselves were eating. When did they give it to them? Probably when the little ones were clearly able to express their interest, e.g. by grabbing or verbalizing.
So, dear mothers and fathers of babies who couldn’t care less about the food you desperately want them to eat: Don’t stress yourselves! All will be fine. Your child will eat. It just might take a little longer until he/ she is really ready.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day as a Day of Peace

My amazing husband guarding the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

Memorial Day is a day of reflection, when the fallen soldiers from all US wars are remembered. Unfortunately, we are not only remembering soldiers that fought many decades ago, we are remembering those who have fallen in combat recently in wars that are ongoing. There are men and women who have died within the past week who need to be remembered…
I cannot imagine the pain and suffering families have to go through who lose their loved ones in a war. I pray that I will never know the feeling. There are so many families in the past few years that have had to say good-bye to their fathers/ mothers/ brothers/ sisters/ husbands/ wives/ sons/ daughters, etc.-  forever.
On this day, I feel as though we should not only remember, but should make a resolution to make this world a more peaceful place. So that our children will spend Memorial Day thinking of soldiers fallen long ago, as opposed to people they went to school with. Let’s make this world a better place to live in. Let’s end the wars and not start new ones.
I know this is utopian, but I honestly wish that there will soon be a Memorial Day on which the US is not fighting any wars. On which there are no families here who are worrying about their deployed loved ones. On which there will be no more freshly grieving families. Is that too much to ask?

You may say that I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will live as one
- John Lennon

Sunday, May 29, 2011

What I Want to be When I Grow Up?

When I was in school, I knew exactly what I wanted to do with my life. The German school system is very different from the American one and you have to choose two subjects as your majors for the last two grades of school. I chose English and Biology. English I was always good at, Biology was my passion. So when the time came to choose my major at university, I chose biology. It wasn’t easy to get into, but they accepted my application.
I was elated. I was so excited that things were going my way. And then, about two weeks into the semester, I realized that I hated it. I loved certain parts of biology, but the endless hours dissecting leaves and learning about their cells I hated. I hated the hours of Physics and Chemistry I had to take. Then I got sick- I had mono and missed two whole weeks of classes. You were only allowed to miss one. I would have had to take the semester again. I just couldn’t bare the thought of being so bored again. So, I quit.
I tried to find something that would suit me. I went to several places, on campus and off, that tried to help me find my direction. The employment office even offered an aptitude test for people who didn’t know what to do with their lives. What did they tell me? “Basically, you could do anything. There is no one particular field you are meant to work in.” Hmpf.
I had to do something. So, I enrolled in university again, changing my major to American Studies, just until I figured out what to do with my life. I studied it for a total of four years, changing my second major once from Japanese to Journalism/ Mass Communications (please don’t forget that the German system is completely different- at university, you only take classes relating to your major, etc.)
When my first baby came along, I knew this was it. This was what I was meant to do. I love motherhood! I really enjoy every minute of it. However, my babies are growing up- slowly, but steadily. And, unless my husband changes his mind, I will not be able to have a lot of babies in the future. My kids will start going to school and I will have to do something professionally again.
I have no idea what I want to do with my life. All the jobs I have had have been in an office environment. I am good at administrative work. The problem is that I find it suffocating. I would really like to avoid working in an office in my future professional life.
But what should I do? I could give writing a real shot. I have some book ideas. I am also good at writing news articles (please don’t judge me on my blog or the Examiner work- I really can write a real article, I promise!) I have a passion for biology still. I could picture myself being a nurse or even a doctor. But that would involve going back to school. However, it would also mean that I could help people. I am training to become a doula- maybe that is my calling? Birthing and motherhood are definitely things I am passionate about…
Dear readers, please help me! How does anyone decide what he/ she wants to do with their life? How did you know? I’m a little lost.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Why You Shouldn't Leave Your Toddler and Your Infant Unattended

I was having a really rough day yesterday. I hadn’t slept well during the night and everything was going wrong. I really tried hard to make the best of things, but was unsuccessful- both kids kept screaming and whining, etc.
So, for some reason I though it would be ok for me to go to the bathroom and leave the kids in the living room together. My son, who is six months old, weighs over 21 lbs now, so I didn’t think my daughter, who is a little over two years old, could do too much damage. I was proven to be very wrong.
When I came back from the bathroom, I saw a balled up piece of something on the floor by my baby, covered in drool. I picked it up and inspected it- it was a fridge magnet my daughter had given my son, one of the advertising ones they have on the phone books. It was completely soaked. And, to my dismay, there was a piece missing.
The culprit

I immediately got on the phone. First, I called the pediatrician. After half an hour (!!!) on hold, the nurse told me she wasn’t sure what to think and that she would prefer it if I called poison control. So I called poison control. The lady on the phone was not concerned about the toxicity of the material, but suggested we have an x-ray taken of E.’s stomach because ingested magnets can cause an intestinal block. She advised me to call my pediatrician. So, I called the pediatrician again. After being on hold for ONE HOUR (!!!!!!!!), I gave up and hung up the phone. When I tried calling back, I got an answering machine saying that they had gone to lunch. Which in turn meant that I had been on hold, they had gone to lunch and nobody had bothered to tell me. I was so angry! Finally, after their lunch break (I didn’t have one because I was on the phone for over 1 ½ hours) I spoke to a nurse who asked me to come in so the doctor could take a look.
We went to the doctor; she looked at my son and at the magnet-remains, and decided that it would probably just pass through his system. I was so relieved! I really didn’t want my baby to have to be exposed to radiation just yet.
So, while all ended well, it could have been much worse. My day was ruined, but my baby was fine. The lesson I have learned: I will be taking one child to the bathroom with me again from now on…

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Some Thoughts About Being an Army Wife

My husband has been in the Army for almost 19 years now. He was planning on retiring next year. Somehow I had this fantasy that we would be able to stay here until he’s done. Unfortunately, the Army has other plans for us. We are moving to Louisiana in the fall. No offense, dear LA, but I never imagined myself living there.

Apart from the new location that I am not thrilled about, I will have to start my life over. Again. I have worked hard at finding friends here and have found so many wonderful people that I really don’t want to leave behind. There are children here who have basically grown up with my daughter- she recognizes them, asks for them when they’re not there, and tells me that she loves them. I have friends who are pregnant, due after we leave.

I have to turn my back on all these people and move on. The children will keep growing up without my daughter around. Babies will be born that I might not meet until they are toddlers. Of course we will stay in touch with people, but we all know that only a few contacts will stay strong. All the others will slowly wither away as the months and years pass.

I had made some professional plans for my future. I have to turn my back on these now, too, at least for the time being. Because the same opportunities do not exist at our new location.

We will have to put the house on the market and hope that it sells. If it doesn’t, we’ll have to find renters so we can carry the cost. We will have to find a new house in one of the small towns around the Army base.

I guess what I’m trying to get at is that, as an Army wife, your needs always come after the needs of the Army. You have to follow your soldier wherever he goes and nobody really cares about what you’re leaving behind. Your own professional life is unimportant. The stability you would like your children and yourself to have is unimportant.

As an Army wife, your purpose is to support your husband in all that he has to do, wherever that may be. It’s hard. Which is why Army marriages are fragile and vulnerable.

However, if you get through all of these things- deployments, moves, horrible assignments, etc.- you will have a strong marriage. A marriage that other people can only marvel at. What ‘regular’ couple ever has to be apart for years at a time?

So, even though I am dreading all these changes, I am grateful that my husband and I are doing it together. My professional life will have to wait a few more years, but will be totally worth it. Hopefully, this will be our last Army adventure. I can’t wait to be just a regular wife…

Friday, May 20, 2011

Finding the "Reset" Button

We’ve all been there- our child is having a bad day and is whining, crying, throwing fits, purposely misbehaving, and overall just grinding on our nerves. I have found that there are two ways of dealing with such days. The first is the more stressful one, which is butting heads and fighting with your child all day. The second is to try to change the day.
The former, of course, is the “easier” way because it doesn’t take any intentional actions for us to just continue with the day. However, fighting with your child all day long is draining and exhausting- for you and your child. None of us want to have to keep correcting behavior and argue all day, at least I don’t.
The latter is the alternative. It doesn’t always work and it is not the “easy” route, but it is always worth a shot. I have found that even kids just have bad days. There doesn’t have to be any particular reason. The wonderful thing is that we can try to change that for them.
I’ll give you an example: My daughter was in an awful mood the other day. She didn’t want to eat, she didn’t want to go outside, she kept taking toys away from her brother, etc. It’s almost as if her mood kept spiraling further down. And with it went my mood and my energy. After the third time-out of the morning for hitting her baby brother, we were both exhausted and unhappy.
That’s when I had an idea. I told myself to STOP. Forget everything that had happened so far, take a deep breath, press the reset button, and start things off again with a clean slate. What I mean by this is that I put all my bad feelings away and made myself forget about the hours that had passed, so I wouldn’t be resentful. And I wouldn’t be expecting more bad behavior or an unhappy child.
It worked. My daughter reacted to my better mood by being happier again. Then I tried to redirect her energy to something she loves doing. The day got so much better! My daughter was so much happier!
So, if you can, try to take a minute to gather yourself and start the day over by finding your own reset button and you can change things for the better. (Works with your spouse, too…)

Monday, May 16, 2011

A New Resolution

I am a very opinionated person, in case you haven't noticed. I am, however, also a very tolerant person. The only problem I have is while I can accept certain truths about humanity, I cannot understand them. And I lie in bed at night, unable to sleep, trying to come up with answers. I am very seldom successful. It makes my life much harder than it has to be.

Therefore, my dears, I have made a new resolution. To just accept the things I cannot change and not obsess about them. Instead I will try to focus my energy on the things that I CAN change. Be available to people who want and need my help, and accept it when my opinion is not wanted, even when it hurts my heart.

There is so much hate, cruelty, torture, mistreatment, anger, sickness, loneliness, unfairness, etc. (the list of negative things is very long) in this world and I will never be able to fix it all. But hopefully, with God's help, I will be able to make a difference somewhere. That is the prize I will try to keep my eyes on.

And so, I will try to stay away from angry rants and posts that merely state my opinion. Instead I will start writing practical posts that people can apply to their lives, if they choose to do so.

Wish me luck...