Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Happy [Half] Birthday!

Y'all, I cannot believe I am writing this. I almost don't want to write it because if I write it, it's true: Maleah is six months old! Six months! SIX MONTHS! To say this time has flown by is a gross understatement. I know every parent says this. But when it's your first time to see this happen right before your eyes, it is truly amazing. Anyway, let me climb back down to reality!

Still not into smiling for pictures...

Maleah weighs 15 pounds 1 ounce and is 26 inches long! She is in the 30th percenile for weight and 50th for height. She has officially doubled her birth weight - finally!!!

The past month has been a little weird because we went on vacation and moved. So, we're trying to get back into something more predictable. She seems to be moving towards going 4 hours between feedings, so we're just letting her lead the way there! She goes back and forth - she'll go 4 hours one day and then only 3 the next. We're not pushing anything, just letting her tell us when she's hungry. So, I can't really give a sample schedule we haven't totally kept one this past month! We are trying to move to something like this:

7am - solids & bottle
9-10 - nap
10:30/11 - bottle then solids (for fun ~ gum on rice crackers, fruit, etc. - not a full solids feeding yet)
12:30-1:30 - nap
2:30/3 - bottle
4-5 - nap
5:30 - solids & 2-3 oz formula
7:30 - bath, bottle, bedtime (usually in bed by 8)

The evening nap is still a touch-and-go thing - some days she needs to sleep around 6:15/6:30 and some days she doesn't. We just keep playing it by ear!

Maleah takes 5-6 ounces per bottle, usually. She is a good eater and really likes different flavors and textures of food! So far, she has tried: avocado, banana, apples, pears, peaches (which she does not like!), apricot, prunes, sweet peas, green beans, zucchini, carrots, sweet potato, and squash. We have also let her try watermelon, which she really enjoyed! In coming weeks, I hope to let her try: asparagus, blueberries, plums, and maybe meat. The meat thing grosses me out - I refuse to puree it. If we let her try it, I will just let her gnaw on it! Now that she is six months, I am going to try to let her gnaw on more foods more often - this morning I let her gum a large piece of apple - she loved it! Oh, did I mention she LOVES water and likes to hold her own cup/bottle!? She doesn't hold the bottle for too long - just during random bouts of independence!

She can sit up fairly well on her own, which really happened so quickly! The daycare ladies told us they let her sit up to play for a while one morning and we were like, "What???". We hadn't seen her hold herself up - but this is probably because we only had her in the evenings when she was tired. So this weekend, that's all we did - practice sitting up! She still needs the Boppy around her if she's sitting for a long period of time because she leans too far, but she'll learn! She also gets up on all fours and "crawls" backwards. She gets really frustrated that she is going the opposite way of what she wanted, but she'll learn! She loves to grasp onto things, too - her favorites being my earrings, necklaces, and our phones! Quite possibly our favorite new development is that she will lean towards you if she wants you to hold her. Blake & I passed her back and forth about a dozen times one night because she would lean towards us! So cute. She's a very noisy baby, too - once she gets warmed up, she will blow raspberries or "roar" or just let out a good squeal! Love it!

(Please ignore all the mess surrounding her - we are still unpacking!)

Maleah seems to be a teency bit bashful, but once she opens up, it's hard to get her to settle down! Sound like anyone we know? (Me!) She loves to be active, but can sit through a book or two (and likes to help flip the pages). I can't wait to see how her personality develops in the coming months as she becomes more active!
We are loving this little girl! Today she had a little shots-hangover from her doctor's appointment yesterday, so I spent the morning with her. It becomes more and more difficult to let her go each day because she is so precious and I just love spending time with her. She is a joy, for sure, and we are so grateful for her!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Ways to Prevent the Unthinkable

We have all  heard story after story of a child's accidental death after being left in a car. And we wonder, how does this happen? How can someone forget their most prized posession - their child? My heart breaks for those families because I am certain none of them forgot their child on purpose. When stories of these horrible accidents come out, they make me panic a little - especially now that I have a child of my own. I am a creature of habit - take me out of my routine and I become extremely forgetful, even with important tasks.  Yesterday's news made me start to wonder, what are some ways we can prevent this from happening to us? None of these are 100% fool-proof, but here are ten tips that I realized Blake and I already have in place to help keep this tragedy from happening to our family.

I thought of a few, but I am also interested to hear from you!

1. Keep your purse/backpack/phone in the rear seat.
Keep something near the car seat that you always take in with you wherever you go. This way, even if you are doing something out of the ordinary (like going somewhere you usually don't take your child), you will remember the item and, therefore, see your child.

2. Have an accountability system.
In terms of daycare, Blake does the dropping-off and I do the picking-up. Blake is starting to text me in the mornings to say he dropped off Maleah at daycare. If he hasn't texted by 8:15 (they usually arrive around 8:00), I can text him to make sure he got her there. Do this with anyone who drives your child around - a grandparent, aunt/uncle, friends. It's not that you don't trust them - but year after year as these stories come out, we see how easily someone can forget. It's just an added measure of safety. You can also ask your child care provider to call if your child doesn't show up for school.

3. Take the car seat out.
We only have one car seat and two bases. Since Blake drops off and I pick up, we have to leave the car seat at daycare and take it out when we get home. Always taking out the car seat means we always take out the baby. This helps on those busy routine mornings/afternoons. And we know if we have the car seat in our car, something's fishy.

4. Don't stray from your routine.
Try not to make last-minute decisions before taking your child to daycare or after picking them up. Many of these accidental deaths revolve around a parent/guardian going somewhere before/after daycare on a whim. Run your errands after drop-off or before pick-up if you can. If you are planning to do something out of the ordinary, go back to Tip #2. Tell someone where you are going and when. Have them call or text you to make sure you are where you were supposed to be and that you have the baby with you.

5. Get a forward-facing seat.
As soon as your pediatrician agrees (some say 1-year, others say 2), get the forward-facing seat. Obviously this still isn't fool proof, but have you ever seen the rear-facing seats for older children? Honestly I am not sure how safe they are because you can't really see over the top of them from the driver's seat. So if you can't see the child, I'm sure it is easy to forget they are there - especially if they are quiet or asleep. The new "official" recommendation is two years so I am not recommending anyone do this any earlier, but many pediatricians will say it is okay to turn the seat at an earlier age - particularly depending on the child's weight.

6. Put the car seat in the center of the backseat or behind the passenger's side.
For whatever reason, some people put their child's car seat behind the driver's seat. I am sure they have valid reasons, but I am not sure it is a good idea. If the car seat is somewhere where you can see it as you are turning around or looking in the rear-view mirror, you will more than likely realize you have your child with you.

7. Use mirrors so you can see the baby.
We have a mirror set up in my car so I can see Maleah's face in my rear view mirror. We haven't yet set up one in Blake's car, but need to ASAP - especially after yesterday's story! Being able to see them is key!

8. Keep an item in your car that reminds you of the baby.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration website has many, many more great ideas. One I hadn't even considered was to keep a toy or other item in your car that reminds you of your child. Place a stuffed animal in the car seat and when you put the child in the seat, put the stuffed animal in the passenger's seat along with your things. When you get to your destination and begin to gather your items, you'll notice the toy and the child.

9. Call 9-1-1 immediately if you notice a child left in an unattended car.
In many states, it is illegal to leave your child in an unattended car for any length of time. Did you hear that? Illegal. Even if it isn't illegal, injury or death to a child left will result in prosecution. If you see a child and do not report it and the child is injured or dies, you can also be held responsible. In addition to calling 9-1-1-, you can also go into the place of business where the car is parked and ask for an announcement to be made so the driver can get the child quickly. Or stand by the car for a few minutes to see if the driver is nearby. A few years ago, I went to a gas station with Arnold (our dog) and left him in the car while I ran inside. It wasn't terribly hot  and I was nervous about leaving him, but I knew I would literally only be inside for a few minutes. When I came out, two women were standing by my car giving me these nasty looks. It was awkward and, honestly, I felt a little offended. But I appreciated what they were doing and understood their concern. I would hope someone would do the same should the unthinkable happen and I leave a child in the car.

10. NEVER leave a baby/child in an unattended car - EVER.
Practice makes perfect, right? If you are in the habit of always taking your child out of the car, then that will become your habit. Just like locking your doors or turning off your headlights becomes habit. Don't even think that leaving the car running is a good option. If you are going to be away from your car for any period of time, take your child with you. It is a hassle, yes. But it is worth it.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Put Them On Your Prayer List

My computer and Blogger have not been friends lately, hence the lack of posting. I could pull up a new post page but couldn't type in any of the body fields. So now that you've missed my random writings, here's a fifty-two page manuscript of everything that's been on my mind the past few weeks!

Just kidding.

I'm going to keep today's pretty short and simple. I also am literally just going to dump out some thoughts and am not going to go back and edit for clarification. Sometimes I like to let the world see what my thought process looks like... it ain't always pretty! I am not even going to do a spell-check because my computer and Blogger haven't found a way to keep the spell check feature where I can see it...

Sometimes the Holy Spirit puts a thought/question in your mind that you just can't really ignore for very long. Lately my question has been this - when we ask for prayer requests, why do we always get requests for God to heal/treat/comfort the sick? Is that all there is to pray for? I don't really have a full answer and, like I tell anyone I teach, I didn't go to seminary so don't take my word for it... but... I think there is way more we can pray for than just Next-Door-Neighbor's broken arm.

Now, don't get me wrong, I am all about praying for the sick. Hello, Jesus' ministry involved plenty of sick people being healed. But when that becomes all we are praying for, are we doing it wrong? Like, in a small group you ask for prayer requests and basically all that is mentioned is other people's illnesses? Again, I don't have the answers. These are just questions I have that I'm willing to share with you. Also, when Jesus was with sick people and he prayed for them, it wasn't really an elaborate prayer. Like, "Holy Father, you are the true healer and great physician. If it is your will, will you please heal Johnny of his tonsilitis so that he may be a living miracle and testament of your power and glory?" Nope. Jesus' response? He just healed people. Done and done.

Which brings about the question whether or not we have the power to heal... well, I believe we do because we have the power of the Holy Spirit residing in us. But it has to be Spirit-led. There have been many times when someone has asked me to pray for some ailment when I have prayed, tried to listen to the Spirit, hear nothing, and tell them I can't. Not because I don't want to or because God doesn't want them healed. But those kind of prayers must be Spirit-filled. Maybe I'm not doing it right or it's not in God's timing or maybe - gasp - they are not meant to be healed (sorry, it is true). For those people, I just pray for God to heal them in His timing but that's about all I can do. Then there have been other times where I have been overwhelmed with the Holy Spirit and have been directed to pray for something specific in a person and have heard the person say they either felt better, felt comforted, or just also felt the power of the Holy Spirit and became well over time. Those moments are awesome, but it has nothing whatsoever to do with me. It's just our friend the Holy Spirit doing His work.

And sometimes it's not physical healing someone actually needs. I think we often get consumed with being healthy and whole and forget there's a whole supernatural thing going on around us. Like, one time I was sitting at a worship/prayer event behind some tornado relief volunteers. I'd spent some time around them and was just praying silently for them. Then they asked us to pray for their families and for their work. At the end of that prayer, one of my fingers started to hurt really badly and I just had this overwhelming feeling that I had to ask if one of them had a hurt finger. Well, one of them did, so I prayed for his finger. Weird, huh? Well, after the prayer, his finger wasn't healed. But you could tell God had done something in this man's heart/mind/soul. It was a moment of confirmation for this man that God meant what He says about being alive and active. So... are you catching my drift at all? Sometimes, relief of physical ailments isn't the only thing we need. It's all a matter of listening to the Holy Spirit and obeying what it is He is asking you to pray. Praying in the Spirit means... well... listening. And then praying what you've been directed to pray.

My mom (hey mom!) is notorious for calling me to tell me about someone's (most likely someone I do not know) ailments and tells me to "put them on my prayer list." Look, I don't do it. I might pray for that person in the moment but I don't have like a running list of sick people that I pray for every day - unless they are close to me or I just feel so moved to pray for them continually. The Bible doesn't tell me to keep a list of sick people by my Bible and to remind God daily of their needs. I know, I know, you're thinking about P.U.S.H. - Pray Until Something Happens. I had the bracelet, okay? But, again, it's about listening to the Spirit. If God is urging me to pray for someone/something, I will continue to pray. But if I pray for every single person my mom has asked me to pray for, when do I have time to just listen?

Which brings me to my final thoughts (not final for me, but final for you... I think 5 lengthy paragraphs is enough) - Are we really praying the way God wants us to? I mean, really the only direct example we have is the Lord's Prayer. But we just usually focus on the actual prayer and not the context. Jesus is talking about not being self-righteous, he also instructs us to "not heap empty phrases as the Gentiles do", to pray in secret, and forgiving others so we may be forgiven (Matthew 6). Then we have a bazillion (again, I didn't go to seminary so don't quote me on that number) other examples of him retreating to the wilderness and praying, listening to God rather than speaking, and then prayers of all the other people in the Bible - Abraham/David/Apostles/basically everybody. So really we have to extract those examples from the Bible and realize they prayed for sooooooo much more than just the sick. This is something I myself have to continue to work on - especially within a body of believers. The Bible tells us to share our lives with one another (Acts 2), which means going way deeper than "please pray for my great-great-granddaddy".

I'll leave you with some ideas of other things to ask for when your next prayer request opportunity comes up:
- sinful desires/behaviors (James 5:16)
- the lost
- specific people/people groups
- pastors/church leaders
- government leaders
- gratitude and thankfulness to God
- opportunities to share Christ
- personal or communal revival
- opportunities to serve God and His kingdom
- prayers for wisdom/faith/patience/understanding/etc.

Those are just a few... I'm hoping to get some feedback/responses. These are just some thoughts and I'm interested to hear what the world has to say!