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    Chiropractor Mama Dr. Dolly and professional photographer Elisa B. share about adventures in intentional and natural parenting while living in Virginia's beautiful Blue Ridge.
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Wordless Wednesday: 4 Generations

Almost wordless. I wanted to just write a short note to explain the significance of this post. I think this picture will be very special to Lucien in years to come. Here he is with his daddy, granddad, and great-grandfather (who is in his late 90s).

I have a very similar picture from my own childhood and I am the only child who has it (my great-grandmother passed away before any of my siblings were born). This will likely be the case for Lucien as well, so while he didn’t really seem impressed on the day, I do hope that he’ll appreciate the significance down the road.

Aren’t we lucky to have these photos as a lasting memory? I think so.

Whites or Brights?

This weekend, we’re discussing learning by living…one of the best teachers of all time.

Since our son could confidently walk and understand instruction (that happens much earlier than the walking), we’ve encouraged him to take part in helping out around the home.

There are times when I’m the sole person picking up a bunch of toys on the floor, but usually, my son is eager to do this task with me or on his own.  He races as fast as he can to put away his toy cars and trains.

Sometimes we make it a game…

The incentive may be to pick up the toys before an even more fun event occurs, such as helping me in the kitchen with dinner.

Besides picking up toys, Calvin learned to put his dirty clothes (and sometimes clean clothes) in the laundry hamper.

When I ask, or often without prompting, he’ll throw away paper bits or other rubbish into the nearest trash can.

Not that I’m particularly fond of this activity, but after he goes into his potty (after repeatedly see his daddy and me dump it into the toilet), he also has taken the initiative to dump the contents.  At first, I objected because that left a much greater mess for me to clean.

Now, I let him do it…and he seldom spills a drop.  He’s got the pour down perfectly.

The more household chores and tasks he sees us do, the more he wants to do them, too.  For our son, work is fun, and it’s not a chore.  Sure, I have to oversee some of his activities, and often I have a bigger mess to clean up than if he’d never got involved, but he’s learning and appreciating everything from preparing snacks and meals to taking out the trash.

I realize the day will come when he no longer considers these things fun, but for now, I love watching him grow in independence and confidence enjoying the things that need to be done.  It’s such fun for us as a family!

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Jokingly, I tell my husband that I yearn for the day when our son will do his own laundry (since I have an infinite pile of washing or folding to do almost every day—it never ends!).

Well, that day has arrived.

I’d asked Calvin to drag the laundry hamper to the laundry room.  Not only was he having a blast pulling it along the tile floor, but he proceeded to pull out each article of dirty clothing to show me and name it.  Uhm, yeah, thanks for holding up Mommy’s dirty socks.  That’s great! (and so on, and so forth).

When I checked on him, I realized the hamper wasn’t nearly as full as it was when I handed it to him.  Sure enough, he was busy loading up the washer with everything. His big brown hooded moose towel, and my white athletic socks.

I didn’t undo his efforts in front of him.  Rather, his daddy and I both clapped and praised him for doing such an awesome big boy task.  I lauded him for being a great Mommy’s helper.  (Later on, when he was busy doing something else, I pulled the whites out of the washer load and started the wash cycle).

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Confession: There are times when I’d rather he didn’t help me in the kitchen (most of the time), and when I’m folding laundry, he’s jumping on the piles or “putting it away” by dumping a stack of clothes into a basket in his closet.

In my mind, I calculate the amount of time it will take me to fix the mess.  Some days, I’m not a calm and relaxed mommy, and I get a little uptight about the extra “work”.  Other days (and I wish this was my attitude all the time), I enjoy watching my son learn and grow and find that far more valuable than sweeping up spilled buckwheat flour on the kitchen floor.

YOUR TURN: What’s your approach to picking up your child’s toys?  Do you do all of it?  Do you “race” with your child and make it a fun game?  Do you offer a reward?  In what other ways do you involve your child for household tasks?

More?

At the moment, we have one child.

Every day, we learn more about his personality and character.  Yet, just when we think we’ve figured him out, we’ll hang out with a group of other children, and he’s suddenly a very different child.Initially, he might be a little more introverted until he’s assessed the situation.  Then, 5 seconds later, he wants to hold their hands, and have them play “chase” or “hiding” or some other random game that involves a ball, toy cars, and lots of noise.

I love visiting with friends who have children.  I don’t call these play dates (honestly, I’m really opposed to that word and the very child-centric nature of the concept)–rather, these are get-togethers with other friends who just happen to have children.

During these get-togethers, I’ve seen my son in a different light.  It’s as though a different shade of his personality shines through when paired with other children.  Around babies, he gently caresses them and showers them with loving hugs and kisses.

I’m suddenly a puddle on the floor and trying to figure out when we can adopt another child so he can get here by next week.

When he’s around children closer to his age, he’s quick to share his toys with them.   Although, I may hear him yelp an occasional “MINE!”,  he usually responds by handing over everything he holds most dear so others can enjoy the pleasure of his favorite toys, too.If he knows other children are coming over to play, he will talk about it all. day. long.  In fact, he’ll only dabble at his meals because he is justSOexcitedhecan’tstandit!  I have to remember to delay the news until AFTER he’s had lunch.

If there’s a sweet girl that’s close to his age.  He’ll want to hold her hand and announce the fact that he’s holding her hand as they walk around our home.  If her slightly older brother is around, my son will also want to walk around holding his hand, too.

Calvin needs a younger sibling.  He’d be a fantastic big brother, and I can’t wait to see how he’ll grow in selflessness, generosity, kindness, and compassion when he’ll have someone else with whom to share his favorite things 24/7.

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We’re talking and praying more frequently about adopting a child, and we’re asking ourselves several questions as we contemplate this process:   Domestic or international?  How much will it cost?  How long do we need to save up for the initial expenses?  What requirements must we fulfill?  What are the most sound, legitimate, and efficient adoption agencies? What countries have the fastest (and slowest) adoption processes?  

YOUR TURN: Have you considered adoption/in the process of adoption?  What are your recommendations for domestic or international adoption agencies?

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Wordless Wednesday: Daddy and Son Bonding

Er…napping.

When Calvin awoke a little early from his Sunday afternoon nap, he needed extra snuggle time with his Daddy.

As in, an extra hour of nap time and snuggle time on the couch.

It kinda reminded me of this photo of the two of them when Calvin was only 5 weeks old.

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Bookworm

My son has an affinity for books with his namesake.  They’re my husband’s 22 volume, hardbound set of John Calvin’s Commentaries on the books of the Bible.  Even though he understands “Stop” and “No” and “Don’t Touch, ” he still gravitates toward Daddy’s books like a fly on honey.

There are other books in the family room at eye-level, but he likes those.  He is especially drawn to them when he wants my attention–he make a bee line directly to Daddy’s books in plain view of me.

j0439527When I do see him, I yell “STOP.  NO. Don’t Touch!”  Sometimes he’ll startle and stop (and probably pee in his diaper!).  If he’s especially cheeky, he’ll keep moving one hand toward the books while keeping a steady eye on me to see just what I’ll do.  He’s testing me.  It’s wearisome, and I don’t want to do it, but I have to be consistent with discipline.

Discipline with my son (at least when it comes to touching something he KNOWS he’s not supposed to touch) requires more than removing him from the object of desire and drawing his attention toward something else.  That worked for about one week.  Then, forget it–never again!  I tried ostricizing him from the books and from me by putting him in his pack ‘n play a few yards away from the bookshelf (while giving him his own Sandra Boynton board books).  But, the fact that I had put him elsewhere just made him roil with sadness and upsetness.  Effective, but then, he’d defiantly return to the bookshelf as soon as I let him out.

Now, we flick his hand with our fingers if he touches something he shouldn’t.  The first time my husband tried that, Calvin looked up at him with a very confused and hurt expression, as if to say, “But, you’re my Daddy.  You LOVE me.  Why are you hurting my hand?”  Of course, that absolutely broke Steve’s heart, but he’d rather our son learn the tangible consequences of disobedience to avoid greater danger or peril with other things: fire, traffic, poopy diaper, the list goes on.  I apply the same technique with Calvin but the response is different.  He squawks for an instant, then walks off to occupy himself with another toy…suddenly bored with the books because he got what he wanted, MY attention.

Now, being disobedient for the purposes of gaining my attention is different than the times he reaches for those lovely books and he just wants to flip through them and read them.  He’s done that, too.  One morning while making breakfast in the kitchen…I realized Calvin was suddenly V-E-R-Y quiet in the living room which meant he was up to no good.  Sure enough, he was sitting on the floor and flipping through the commentary on Hebrews with a very intent and studious expression on his face.  I realized, he wasn’t trying to destroy the book or get my attention, but he really just wanted to look through that book.  So, I sat down with him in my lap, and proceeded to look at a few of the pages with him.  He enjoyed that for about 30 seconds, and then, he was off to the next adventure in the living room.

So, what do YOU do when your child consistently touches something that he shouldn’t?  How do you discipline your child?  By the way, moving those 22 volumes of books out of the way is not an option in our 700 square foot apartment…not an option.  How do you teach a 12 month-old not to touch something?  How often do you have to repeat the lesson until it sticks?

–by Dr. Dolly

Around the Web

There are so many amazing resources for parents on the internet.  I wanted to highlight a few cool sites that I frequently visit that I think you’ll love, too.

SafeMama features downloadable BPA-free cheat sheets, product recalls, and health and eco guides.  Read it. Bookmark it.

Considering picking up a used car seat from a yard sale or from a family member?  First, check out the CPSafety site to view a safety checklist that will help you decide if that used seat is really a “savings” or whether it’s better to send it to the landfill.

Interested in connecting with other moms who strive for eco- and health-friendly family living?  Then, the Holistic Moms Network is the place for you.

Like blog reads from a Chiropractor Mommy?  Then, visit my colleague and friend, Dr. Heather who posts on Mom Going Green.  She has a great post on a natural approach to ear infections in infants and children.

A short while ago, my comprehensive cloth diaper review was highlighted on Cloth Diaper News.

My Child is Normal–Whew!

Allison, one of my readers, recommended Dr. Marc Weissbluth’s Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child.  I recently got this book in the mail (since it was backordered with the rest of my stuff for 4 weeks with Amazon’s super saver shipping . . . argh!)  I’ve already read through most of it, and the most encouraging thing is that my child’s sleep habits are totally healthy and normal for his age.  Whew!  I was beginning to worry.

I have friends who co-sleep and share the family bed with their children who are pushing 3-,4-, 6-years old.  And, I have friends who put their babies in cribs in other rooms and let them cry it out while doing the meticulous by-the Babywise-book sleep/feed/wake schedule.   We’ve been somewhere in the middle. . . combining several parenting philosophies and responding to the uniqueness of our son.  While I love recounting the wisdom of multiple philosophies with parenting, I’ve also found myself treading unknown waters in numerous occasions which has left me feeling less than adequate as a mommy.

There is no perfect method that works across the board for every child.  Well, I’d say the Bible’s method of parenting is perfect, but there aren’t a lot of details on parenting specifics like when to breastfeed, start solids, wean, sleep habits, teething, and potty training.  The Bible is pretty much silent on those specifics for babies.   So, at least the Good LORD gave moms other moms and women to learn from.  Without them, life would be pretty rough as a new mom.

I’ve posted before on the sleep concerns I’ve had about Calvin.  We’ve set up a regular bedtime routine and fairly consistent naptimes and bedtimes when Calvin was much younger, but so many other factors seemed to just jack things up.

Some books say, wake up the baby after you nurse them so they don’t learn to rely on milk to fall asleep.  Of course that rule violates the, “never wake a sleeping baby” rule.  Gosh!  What’s a parent to do in light of so many opposing philosophies?

Something I’ve learned from other moms who fretted about the nursing to sleep thing . . . babies WILL outgrow it.  Some sooner than others.  When they’re newborns, they nurse for food and for comfort, and often they fall asleep.  By the time they’re 4- or 5-months old (some sooner, some later), they’ll learn to stay awake after they eat.

I have TONS of mom friends whose babies sleep through the night.  By that, I mean they put ’em to bed at bedtime (7 PM or so) and then they sleep through 10 to 12 hours before waking.  Wow. If your child does that, you are a blessed parent.  Sleep is a blessing.  Precious, precious blessing.

But guess what?  If your child does night waking because he’s hungry once or twice at night before he’s 9-months old, THAT’S NORMAL!  Yay!  Calvin’s normal.  Yes, his frequency of night waking decreased once we put him on solids, now, he only wakes once or twice at night to eat.

At first, I try the soothe/suck method with the pacifier (the Gerber NUK is chiropractic pediatrician-endorsed for cranial bone development!).  Sometimes we try water because the poor dear really is parched.  When letting him be fails and his cries escalate to ear-piercing madness and none of the soothing methods work. . . then I go to work.  After a good ol’ 10-20 minutes of nursing, he drifts off to sleep, and life is good.

Sure, I’d love a good 10-hour stretch of sleeping baby bliss.  Yet, I think if that happened, I’d feel over-rested and not know what to do with myself–plus I’d rush over to the crib wondering what the heck’s going on with Calvin!  I must mention that I do ask Steve to go to the crib more frequently lately.  Because it’s a simple fact: mom = milk.  If Calvin sees me, and I give him the sippy cup, all hell breaks loose.  However, if Steve goes to him and offers him water and that’s truly all he needed, then we’re all back to sleeping within minutes.

I thought I was having a rough time with the sleep thing . . . there have definitely been days/nights when all 3 of us were just plump tuckered out . . . but I read some of the horror stories in Dr. Weissbluth’s book  (which already told me Calvin’s habits were healthy and normal) and I realized that screaming 3-year-olds who would not nap, and couldn’t fall asleep on their own. . . now, THAT was a problem.  We definitely went through varied stages of that at different times, but as he grows older, and things get easier.

Sometimes your child doesn’t respond like other people’s kids.  Sometimes your child isn’t going along with what “the books” say.  But, as long as your baby is healthy, generally in a happy temperament (colic’s a whole other ballgame), then your parenting style is working for your family.  It’s just nice when you happen to find at least one other family on the planet that’s going through the same things as you. . . and it doesn’t hurt to find a book, authored by a doctor, no less, who assures you about the normalcy of what you’re experiencing.  Because, let’s face it, parenting with your first baby is the most (fill in your adjective here) difficult and incredibly rewarding experience of a lifetime.  I wouldn’t trade it for anything else!