Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The Family Zoo

We are reading The Birth Order Book: Why You Are the Way You Are for my book group this month. It was a fun read.. I was glad that the book began by stating that of course there are individual differences and not every point applies to every family situation, but statistically, the data is hugely in support of birth order theory. It gave some good tools to analyze relationships and influences within families. So, I've taken the book's philosophies and analyzed my family growing up for fun...

Darlene fits pretty much perfectly into the mold of an oldest child. Even though Randy really came first, his frequent absence meant that she was pretty much raised a first child, plus she was the first born female, and therefore picked up most of the high expectations that parents have for first children. She is ambitious, scholarly, conscientious, high-achieving and organized. Oldest children are usually defeated perfectionists who can't rise to the challenge and totally rebel or they are very successful people-pleasers. This is soooo true of Darlene, she is apologetic to a fault and tries not to make waves. Oldest children tend to receive more discipline, which may contribute towards Darlene's compliant nature; but oldest children are also very loyal and conservative, so Darlene is willing to do what is right stand up for things that matter. Oldest children sometimes play the role of second-mom to their younger sibling, especially the youngest sibling. Sound familiar? Darlene totally mothered Paco, especially after the divorce when half the time she was the mother.

Generally, middle children are hard to pin and may be a box of contradictions. They are often peace-seekers, because they mediate between older and younger children. Too bad I missed out on that one. They deal with the feeling of being the fifth wheel by seeking attention and approval from peers, and thus develop strong social skills. When first and second children are close in age and the same gender, they tend to be competitive with one another, the second child eager to get the attention that the first child got. Some second siblings compete to dethrone the first, which is more or less successful, depending upon individual abilities and personalities. I never fully dethroned Darlene, but I do feel that I still received a lot of first-child pressures and developed many first-child traits. One possible reason is that my father gave us each equal one-on-one attention (opposite-sex parent's attention being pivotal in children's development) and he also always told me that I was smarter that Darlene, so I had no excuse not to do just as well in school. Also, second children usually strive to be unique from the first child, to walk their own path and differentiate themselves from the first child, a phenomenon called "branching out". This resulted in my being a high achiever but to focus on social and creative areas, since Darlene was already the intellect and the athlete (think soccer, Tai Bo). Also, gave me a rebellious streak. Both of our parents were middle children and they probably favored me and liked me best, even if I was less deserving of it. Middle children tend to be the most well-adjusted and prepared to deal with the heavy responsibilities and challenges of life because feeling the middle-child squeeze toughens them up. I think that this is true for me to a degree- I am more accepting of difficult situations and have a "suck it up" attitude that drives Micah crazy. Middle children are also very sensitive, though they don't wear it on their sleeves like first and last borns might.

Poor Paco, with his older sisters dressing him in girls' clothes and stealing all of the attention and energy from parents! Paco was quiet, unlike most youngest children who use charm and impetuousness to get attention. He did have the humor that most youngest children, especially if they are boys, employ. He did annoy his older siblings for attention, but Darlene adopted him in a "mascot" role, so instead of turning out to be just a pestering little brother, he was an endearing little cub. He was quite an expert at setting me up as a kid- he would pester me to the breaking point and then, when I retaliated, run to mom and dad (or more commonly, Darlene) to dole out the punishment. Youngest children usually struggle the most to adjust to the real world because they have sometimes been overprotected, given fewer rules and responsibilities and not pushed enough as children.

Then, we come to the blending of our families. Blake and Gabby joined the picture when we were 16, 14 and 12. They were 11 and 5, I think?

In this type of blended family, the one who stood to struggle the most would be Blake. He went from being the first born and only male, to becoming a middle child and gaining a brother very close in age, which usually leads to competition as I mentioned. Fortunately, I don't remember there being that much competition between them. Possibly because LeAnn is an oldest child and therefore indulged Blake more than another parent might. Also, he then became the youngest male of the family, so he gained the outlet of being the youngest-son funny guy and the pesterer. He didn't pester that much, but he definitely became the funny little brother. I'm so lucky- I got TWO funny little brothers in my family! So Blake got the attention and affirmation that he needed to smoothly transition and I think is very well-adjusted. Success.

Now Gabby is the classic youngest daughter, what the book refereed to as the "baby princess". The age gap between she and Blake accentuated Gabby's unique position, but also meant that she got a lot of the attention, expectations and characteristics of an only child because she was not as socially involved with the rest of the children; she played by herself, had separate interests and friends, etc. So, she got both the pampered treatment of being the baby and the isolation of being an only child (first born in new set of children, no kids beneath her), or a "lonely only" as the book calls it. Only children usually have trouble relating to their peers and can get along with older kids with more maturity or younger kids who they can teach and be a role model to. So don't be surprised if Gabby turns up next week with a 25-year-old boyfriend or tutoring Freshman. Youngest children are fawned over and indulged, so they can have a rocky transition into adult independence. This can take the form of cynicism and disillusionment.

Of course Blake and Gabby are also influenced by their other set of siblings, but these are the influences that I interpret from their order withing my family.

I've also thought about LeAnn a lot as I've read this book. LeAnn works hard because she's a driven, independant first born. A last-born LeAnn would be content to leave lots of responsibilities to others and wouldn't feel the need to do such a good job all the time.

Alright, family- what do YOU think? Where has my assessment been off and what has rung true? What influences from our birth order have I ignored?

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Latest Shots

My posts have decreased in quantity and quality in the last 2 months. Oops. 
Well, here's a few pictures at least

Most little girls are content to walk around in Mom's heels. Natalie has other aspirations.

And the equally loved but waaaaay less photographed baby, Angela...
Tummy time makes her cry and puke, but she's starting to get a flat head, so we're trying to put her on her back less. Sometimes she rolls over to get out of it; the boppy helps keep her there.

 Grabbing things: check

Discovering hands: check

Smiling & cooing: check

I forgot to mention, she had her 2 month checkup 2 weeks ago. She weighed 12lbs 2oz (63%) and was 24" long (95%). Micah wants her to get hugely fat but I think she's just fine. She is visibly putting on fat, first it was her chin and now she's getting it in her thighs and ankles. Trying to get our last few good wears out of the 0-3month onsies.

Darlene and Erik (my sister & brother-in-law) are buying a house in Raleigh in the coming month. The house looks big and beautiful and I am way jealous. And by pure coincidence I am sure, Micah is suddenly discovering tons of opportunities for jobs in the Triangle Region in NC. He is writing his proposal now, though he is not getting as much done because he usually gets a late start in the morning (sleeping in after getting up many, many times in the night) and I make him come home early to take care of the girls while I make dinner. Graduating in August 2015 is still his aspirations, though.

Angela was doing great for several weeks at only getting up once in the night and I had hopes that she would drop her single nighttime feeding and start sleeping uninterrupted from around 10 to 7 some time in the coming weeks, but instead she has gotten worse and has been waking up more frequently. She also has been waking up halfway through her naps and refusing to go back to sleep for anything but the swing. Which is lame, because I don't want her to become too dependent on the swing. I tried letting her cry herself back to sleep over last weekend while Micah was out of town, but she would just cry for over an hour every time and never go back to sleep. I'm wondering if she's ready to stop being swaddled because she wakes up seeming very upset that she can't move, but she won't go down to begin with if she's not swaddled. I'm also wondering if I need to move her daytime feedings closer together to make sure she's getting enough to eat during the day so that she doesn't need to eat at night, but I question whether that will just train her matabolism to need food more frequently, including at night. So, basically just dealing with the typical anxious, back-and-forth uncertainty of dealing with a baby. C'est la vie.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

July 4th and Angela's Blessing

Grandma and Grandpa Stoddard (my dad and stepmom) came to visit this weekend and boy did we have fun!
Natalie got spoiled with a new set of puzzles from grandpa. and she LOVES them. Here she "raises the roof" in celebration as she finishes her 5th puzzle for the day.

We had a great time at the Marietta parade on the 4th. Here's a REALLY unflattering but expressive shot of LeAnn checking out the coming parade entries. Natalie really enjoyed it.

Showing off that patriotic spirit!

Angela did great. She was a little unhappy at some of the loud horns at the parade, but spent much of the time in the wrap asleep. Here she gives us some smiles on our way home. 

LeAnn took Natalie to her second-ever movie at the movie theater! They saw the Lego Movie. Natalie loves the "Everything is Awesome" song.

The REAL purpose for the visit was Angela's blessing, which was done at church on Sunday. 

We're coming off the weekend happy to have had the excitement of family, but glad to have a little more calm and routine.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Games and Puzzles

Natalie loves this princess-themed memory game that Darlene got for her while she was visiting. Natalie's pretty good at matching them, too. But what impresses me most is how well she has memorized all of the princesses. There are over a dozen of them, each named after a flower and many of them have similar colors. Here she is naming a few of them that are on the box:

"-Petunia, Princess Marigold, Princess Poppy, Princess Daffodil, Princess Lilac, Princess Rose, Princess Violet, Princess Iris, Princess Lily, Princess Clover!"

Time to get her interested in horticulture! Let's see how many hundreds of flowers she can learn!

Also, she got a 16 piece puzzle from her thoughtful Uncle Marc and Aunt Tiffany and at first she couldn't do it at all by herself. It was kind of a pain because she loved it but didn't even have the skills to be able to wiggle the pieces into their spot even when we gave her the correct one that fit. Fast forward a couple of weeks and she is doing it like a pro. She will sit there and do it over and over again several times all by herself. Very cool.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Soccer Ball, Not Chess

We were trying to decide what sports and clubs we should get Natalie involved in when she's older. The first thing she says here while crying is, "I don't want to play chess, I want to play soccer ball".

And here's Natalie being wrapped like a burrito. 

Angela is getting more and more interactive and aware of her surroundings. She likes trying to reach for things, even though she still needs some arm and leg coordination before she will actually be grabbing and kicking her dangly toys.

Finally, a bit of Angela doing what she does best: looking cute and spitting up:


Some sweet little smiles 

I left her on the floor, laying on her back on a flat, green blanket. Went into the kitchen and when I returned, Natalie had wrapped the blanket around her, put the boppy pillow up against her head and gave her a burp cloth and bunny. 

Funny face and naked bum. Natalie also likes to help give Angela a bath. She will dip cups in the water and pour in over baby sister, usually on the head, even though I tell her only to do it on Angela's tummy. Fortunately, Angela doesn't seem to mind. 

Monday, June 23, 2014

Pool Time and Other Craziness

First family day at the pool!

It was still pretty cold, so she only went in up to her thighs. 

I have gone once so far by myself with both girls during the day while Micah was at work. Angela hung in the stroller while I swam with Natalie. It was surprisingly manageable... until Angela got bored and started crying. Speaking of managing things with 2 ...Going to the store is stupidly hard. Mostly having to get Angela out of the car, into the wrap, out of the wrap, back into the car, out of the car and into the house- always trying not to wake her up through at least one of those transitions. I can't just bring her in with her carseat because if I have Natalie and Angela's carseat both in the cart... there's nowhere to put groceries.

Confession: multiple times now, I have driven off and forgotten to strap Natalie into her carseat. I am just so flustered trying to get Angela to the car while she's flailing backwards because it's so bright outside while keeping at eye out to make sure no cars are coming to mow down Natalie as I tell her approximately 5.7 zillion times to stop picking flowers and playing with ants and come to the car right this minute before I start counting!!!! After finally getting Angela tucked and strapped and at a point where she's not screaming (she's not a fan of the carseat), I just get in the car and start driving. Both times, I didn't make it far before Natalie started freaking out, screaming that she wasn't strapped in. Which is funny. Because she also has a tantrum every time we put her straps on. So, I pull over and strap her. But, still. Yikes.

I'm struggling to figure out how to get this girl on a more predictable schedule now that she's over he little growth spurt. If I just try to consistently follow the pattern of eat-be awake-go to sleep- repeat now, she sometimes (usually) sleeps for 30 minutes or less, making her feedings start-to-start only 2 hours apart at times. When she was sleeping more, she was very consistently eating every 3 hours. Now that she sleeps less overall during the day, I think it's time to start condensing her sleep into a few long periods with scheduled feedings instead of 700 3-minute naps spread throughout the day with intermittent snacks. Here, she poses with a cup of tea that Natalie gave her.

She smiles a lot now, but it's hard to photograph. She doesn't like the light on my camera, so when I take a picture, she always scrunches up her forehead all confused and curious.