Tuesday, February 21, 2006

52 week program - weeks 2 and 3

So I've been away for awhile (just bought a new home and have been out of town), but I thought I'd update you on the last 2 weeks of the "52 week program" I started with my kids.

Week 1 went great with the easy (but usually forgotten) task of brushing my 2 year old's teeth. Since making it a priority to do it every night for a week, I'm glad to say it has become habit (he is actually reminding me some of the nights). Success!

In Week 2, I focused on cutting out a little TV time with our toddler. We don't really use the TV as a babysitter for our 2 year old, but it has become so easy (especially with the DVR) to pop on one of his recorded "Little Einsteins" or "Blues Clues" shows while we're making dinner, or getting ready in the morning, etc. I guess this week I was trying to undo a habit. While I'm not an anti TV zealot, I also don't want my child to be parked in front of the tube for 3 - 6 hours a day. So, I just cut out his dinner time TV. Without fail, every night right before dinner, we let him watch one or two shows while we made dinner and winded down from work. The first night, he threw a fit, but we didn't relent. The second and third night got a little better, and then he started helping us make dinner (which has been some fun). His favorite thing is stirring. While it has made dinner a little more difficult to make, it has made it a lot more fun too (how do you say no to a little guy saying 'I stir please daddy?' Success!

In Week 3, I realized that I had been focusing all this on our 2 year old, with nothing for our infant. I've also been doing a little reflection on the fact that it seems I attempt to spend as much time with our 2 year old and as little time with our infant. I'm not sure why that is ... but after recognizing it, I needed to change it. So, my habit for week 3 was to spend an hour with our infant right when I got home from work. This one was tougher for me to do. When I get home, the first person to greet me is my 2 year old, and he wants all the attention right away. The first day, I made it about 10 minutes with our infant, before succumbing to our toddler and playing with him and his tool set downstairs. The second day didn't fair much better. The third day I didn't even make it home until around 9pm (we were getting ready to put together a purchase agreement for a house). The fourth day I forced myself to comply and it was a great time. The next day, I played with him for around a half-hour before he fell asleep and I put him in his seat. I don't want to sound like an absent dad to my youngest (I spend a good 2-5 hours during the day with both him and my toddler on Mondays and Wednesdays as well as the whole days on weekends), but I really felt (and still feel) like I wasn't really spending any 'quality' time with him. I wouldn't consider this habit a Success ... it is something I still have to focus on and I will add it to go with my Week 4 habit. I may try to change the time, as it seems my erratic schedule is in part my problem for the after work time.

On to week 4...

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

52 week program

I have been doing a small thing each week to attempt to improve myself (such as drink enough water, read a certain amount, cut something out of my diet, etc.). The thought is that if you can make it a habit within that week and then build on the previous habits, you will have improved yourself in 52 small ways by the end of the year... leading to some major overall improvements. I've decided to also take this approach to my relationship with my children. Starting this week, I'm going to be adding one thing a week I can do better to enhance my children's well being ... whether it be in my relationship with them, their health, their social life, etc.

This first week, I'm going to start with something that many of you may say 'duh'. It will be brushing my 2 yr old's teeth before he goes to bed. I'm the one that almost always goes up to bed with our toddler and reads to him before putting him to bed. We are usually pretty good about brushing his teeth during the day, but I want to make a habit of doing it every night before we lay down to read.

Week #1 Starting tonight, I will make it a habit to begin brushing my toddler's teeth right before he goes to bed!

Toddlers and social interaction

As a followup to some of last month's posts about staying at home (I didn't blog as much as I would of liked to about alot of the research and conversations my wife and I had), we decided that instead of one of us stopping work all together, we would adjust our schedules. I have now been going into work earlier and have worked out with my company to leave in the middle of the day and then come back and work later into the night. Our main reasons for this are two-fold:

1. Money
2. Time with our children

But I keep coming back to a third issue as well...

3. Child's social interaction

While I would like my wife and I to be the two people who raise our sons, I also want them to be able to play with kids their age. Daycare provides a nice venue for that, but there must be some other ones out there. We are fortunate enough to have children early in our lives together (we are both in our mid 20s), but one of the downsides is that none of our friends have children yet. The playground is a nice place to interact with others in the summer. In the Minnesota winter though, it gets a bit sparse :) I'd like to hear some ideas from anyone else who doesn't send their child/children to daycare, but has found a good outlet to allow them to develop those social skills with peers.

Friday, January 27, 2006

2 year old's eating habits

We've never really thought much about the eating habits of our 2 year old. He almost always is presented with whatever we are eating at any specified meal. Sometimes he eats it sometimes he doesn't. He goes on unexplained hunger strikes from time to time ... refusing to eat both lunch and dinner. Other days, I swear he eats more than I do. We get frustrated alot by the above behaviour, thinking he should eat like we do at each meal, but have never taken the time to actually see if there is any research out there.
So... the following is some facts / ideas / hints / worthless dribble I picked up over the past couple of days:

-According to the American Academy of Pediatrics(AAP), toddlers need at least 1,000 calories a day to meet their nutritional needs for growth and energy

-The best way to provide your child with these much needed calories is to give her three meals and two snacks a day.

-According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture toddlers need foods from the same for basic food groups as adults do, but the serving sizes should be two-thirds of the adult serving size.

-According to the Ohio State Agricultural Extension, a good rule for serving sizes for toddlers is 1 tablespoon per year of age or 1/4 of an adult serving per year of age. For example, a serving of milk for a 2-year-old would be 1/2 cup, a serving of cooked carrots for a 3-year-old would be 3 tablespoons, a serving of ground beef for tacos for a 4-year-old would be 4 tablespoons.

-Your toddler should eat indicated servings from these food groups every day:
  • Meat, fish, poultry, eggs (two to three servings)

  • Dairy products (three servings equivalent to two cups of milk each day)

  • Fruits and vegetables (three servings each)

  • Cereal grains, potatoes, rice, breads, pasta (six servings)

Here are some interesting tips I saw along the way:

Toddlers: When Yours Doesn't Want to Eat -- familydoctor.org
Kid Friendly Veggies

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Strategies for financing stay-at-home parenting

Ran across a nice short article from the Wall Street Journal on 5 strategies for being able to handle the "financial burden" of having a stay-at-home parent. They are:

1. See what you'll save
2. Shrink your budget
3. Eliminate debt
4. Have a safety net
5. Tweak insurance, savings.

More in depth in the article linked above...

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Stay at home parenting III

As my wife and I are hitting the deadline for figuring out what we're going to do for childcare when she is scheduled to go back to work in Feb, it has brought a new sense of urgency for us to investigate whether one of us should stay at home. Last night I had some time to do some research when the family went to bed and I came across a couple of good articles to gain some insight from:

Calculating the true cost of working vs. full-time parenting
This short article brings out some good points as to cots incurred from working vs. staying home. Written from a slightly different perspective then we're in, this mom is weighing going back to work.

Forum at iVilliage: Stay at home or work debate
Interesting opinions and ideas from those going through the same decision as we are ... as well as those very entrenched in their decisions :)

Great site that I will definitely be consulting if I decide to stay at home. Tons of articles and ideas from those already doing it!

The Stay-at-Home Parent Survival Guide by Christina Tinglof
Found this on Amazon. Looks like a must have if the decision goes towards 'yes'.

These are the few that I perused last night before I succumbed to the tiredness. Right now we're leaning toward one of us staying home or coming up with some type of "hybrid" solution of work and home.
If you have gone through this or have any ideas, let me know!!

Monday, January 09, 2006

15 things you must do for your baby

I saw this little list in the USA Today Weekend supplement that comes with my paper. While not revolutionary by any means, it was a good refresher of some things you forget after the first kid has grown a little.

Is it just me or is having the second child a lot easier and less stressful. I have to say I have a lot less time now that I'm raising two children, but I'm not nearly as stressed out as I was with our first. The one thing I am finding out though, is I have already forgotten a lot of the stuff we did with Caden (our first) in his first couple of months. I think I'm going to have to go revisit a couple of the books we have on our shelves (which may bring up a good discussion topic later - pregnancy and child books).

Take a look at the list and let me know what you think...

I'm really back this time

After a week where it didn't seem like I had a free second to spare, I think I finally have most things put in place where I can spend a lot more time focusing on this blog. I'll continue with my stay-at-home series this afternoon as well as a couple of other things that have been floating around in my mind during this short hiatus...

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Stay at home parenting - Series

I'm going to try to focus this week on Stay at Home Parenting. It's something my wife and I are talking about lately, and something we'll need to make a decision on in the next month or so. I'll try to link to as many good articles I can find, as well as give any insight I can off the research I'm doing and thoughts I have. Here's a good primer to start things out. More later...

P.S. Thanks to all your well wishes over the past week. Things are going good now ... I'm healthy again and the baby is actually sleeping a little!! :)

Another article on infant potty training

Here is an article I came across from a Maryland newspaper about infant potty training (elimination communication). This is a follow-up to the book review I linked to a couple of weeks ago. I don't think I'm sold on this yet, but it does bring up some interesting ideas (especially as my wife and I are going to start training our 2 yr old) ... it might have been nice to have this done already ... and can you imagine the savings on diapers?? I think this would require a stay-at-home parent and a LOT of patience (two things we don't have right now!) :) Has anyone tried this?? Let me know.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Almost back...

So, I had to go back in yesterday night because I was having trouble breathing ... after chest xrays and blood tests, I was diagnosed with pneumonia. On the plus side, they gave me antibiotics, and I'm already feeling much better. I'll try to catch up and post a couple of things running around my mind the past couple days tomorrow. Until then, here's a good site from Sean on his journey of polyphasic sleeping (a topic I discussed last week). Also, Steve Pavlina's update on his polyphasic sleep schedule.

Monday, December 19, 2005

"The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry..."

That quote definitely describes my past two days. I had a master plan setout for yesterday and today. Yesterday would involve me introducing our 2 year old (Caden) to the new baby (Cole) and then spending a good amount of the day doting on Caden before bringing him back at night to spend some more time with them. Then today I was going to spend a good amount of the day cleaning our house and getting everything ready for the 3pm arrival of my wife and Cole.

I did make it to the hospital as planned yesterday ... just about 4 floors lower than my wife. I woke up with a 103.6 temp, shooting pains in my legs, and the ability to fall whenever I tried to walk... I had to be driven over to the hospital where I spent a good 7 hours in the ER. When all was said and done I was diagnosed with a "nasty" virus, given IV fluids, a couple of prescriptions and the great dr. order of "You'll need to stay away from contact with your wife, new baby, and 2 year old until these symptoms stop ... probably the next 2 to 5 days" Well you can imagine how I loved to hear that ... and you can imagine even more so how my wife loved to hear that! With some wonderful parents of mine as well as my wife's sister, we did succeed in getting Caden over to be introduced to the new baby (picture below) and we had a good friend stay with Caden last night at our house while I was quarantined away at my parents. All in all it isn't as bad as it could of been, but still a bummer that I don't get to hold my new baby boy again until probably Wednesday (i hope).

Saturday, December 17, 2005

It's a boy

Baby Cole was born at 7:44pm CST and weighed in at 7lbs 3oz... I'm exhausted and heading to bed.

Still Waiting

The wife was induced around 10am this morning with potassin (sp?) and they broke her water around 12. So now we've just been waiting. She's sleeping right now (epidural) so it's the calm before the storm... Here's to hoping for a smooth delivery, as well as all 10 toes and fingers. Wish me luck! (BTW .. Treos mighr be the greatest gadgets ever developed ... I just created this post from one)

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

7 steps to discipline an aggressive toddler

Just ran across an article regarding agressive toddler behaviour. Steps include...
1. Keep your cool. Yelling, hitting or telling your child she’s bad won’t get her to stop the behavior. You’ll just get her riled up even more.
2. Set clear limits. Respond immediately whenever your toddler is aggressive. Don’t wait until she hits you three times before you say, “You do it again, I’m going to get you!” Remove her from the situation. This is the best way to cool down the situation.

Mostly some common sense stuff but a good reminder (and much needed one for a parent of a two year old).

"Educational" infant and toddler videos

There was something in the Mercury News this afternoon that caught my eye about the educational value of the videos and tech toys marketed toward infants and toddlers. I'll admit that we're a Baby Einstein ( now Little Einsteins ) household here. Without any formal research, you just feel better letting your child watch something "educational" rather than other cartoons. Now, after reading this article and doing a little more research, it makes me think twice (more so with letting a 6 - 12 mo. old than a 2 year old) about letting an infant watch any TV. I'd like to know what your thoughts or experiences are. I'd also like to see what other studies (if any) have been done regarding infants and TV. Well ... probably the last post for a day or two. I'll be back after baby #2 is born!

Baby on the way

We just learned that my wife will be induced tomorrow morning! I'll keep everyone updated...

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Polyphasic Sleep for Parents - Part 1

I've always been interested in sleep and a recent series on Steve Pavlina's blog hooked me even more. There are many different ways of sleeping. Monophasic is the 'norm' for most people ... 6-9 hours per night of sleep and then awake (or at least mostly awake) for the rest of the day. Polyphasic sleep involves taking short 20 - 30 minute 'naps' at 6 intervals per day. For example, you would take this nap at 5am, 9am, 1pm, 5pm, 9pm, and 1am. The thought process is that REM sleep is the most important sleep for rejuvenating your mind (and usually one of the last phases in a normal sleep cycle). If you deprive yourself of enough sleep, your body will skip the NREM sleep (the first couple phases in a normal sleep cycle), and will adapt by allowing you to fall into REM sleep within a couple of minutes. There are no major scientific studies that I can find on polyphasic sleeping ... just a good amount of blogs chronicly attempts, failures, and successes with a polyphasic sleep schedule.
The reason I bring this up is I believe a polyphasic sleep schedule would be something that could revolutionize those first couple months of parenting. The #1 complaint I always hear from parents of newborns and infants is the lack of sleep and constant zombie-like state they are in. What if you could condition yourself to only need these short 20-30 minute 'naps' and still be awake, and most importantly, alert throughout the rest of the day (and night). I'm going to spend a good amount of today doing some research on this topic. In my next post, I'll link to some blogs and other sites that describe polyphasic sleep as well as some that document people's attempts at sleeping polyphasically (I may have made that last word up ).

Stay at home dad - Part 1

I've been mulling over the idea of becoming a stay at home dad over the past month, but have yet to really think it through. I work full time right now. My wife works part-time. We've been lucky enough to only have to put our 2 year old into daycare 2 days a week from 8am to 2pm. My mother has been taking him another 2 days a week from 9am to 12pm (when I come over my lunch break and take him home for a nap). There are a couple of aspects I need to look at...

1) Who is raising my child
2) Socializing my child
3) Money
4) My career aspirations

I'm sure there are many more aspects I'll dig up along the way, but I'll focus on these 4 first. As I research, think, and post, please let me know your thoughts/ideas/tools.

Infant Potty Training

I came across this book review when skimming through Lifehacker this morning. Interesting look at potty training from infancy. I think I'll pass for now, but would like to know if any of you have tried it!

Friday, November 18, 2005

A little about me and my family

I am 27 years old and have been married for 2.5 years. My wife and I have one son, Caden, who just turned 2 this November. We live in the balmy state of Minnesota in the Minneapolis area. We are currently expecting our next child with a Christmas due date. I work full time, my wife works part time. We own our house, which we built (that will have a whole post to itself ... as I chose the great timing of building it when Caden was born). We have two dogs (a newfy/retriever and a sheltie/american eskimo) and 2 cats...all except for the newfy were brought together by our marriage. I work in IT as well as coach football in the fall. My wife is a elementary teacher (currently working at a French Immersion school ... although she'll be the first to tell you she doesn't speak a lick of french). That should be a good enough bio to get started with...

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

The Dad Journal ... first post

The web is full of information when it comes to new babies, but what I never found a couple of years ago when we had our first child was good information from a father's perspective. Now that our second one is on the way, I wanted to create a site that served multiple purposes...

1. To share my daily thoughts and happenings for fathers, mothers, and parents-to-be.
2. To gain insight from others on what works / doesn't work for them
3. To develop this into an open forum where questions can be answered and information can become readiliy available to those that need it.

The first two is where I will start out through posts and comments. If this site catches on like I hope it does, the last one will be realized.

I'll follow-up with a post about myself and current situation and we'll go from there! So pass the word on if you've found me... I hope that dadjournal.blogspot.com can become a place you come daily to get information, reassurance, and of course some good laughs...