Sunday, June 29, 2008

Baby and Me

In anticipation of Baby Boy #3, I signed Boys #1 and #2 up for the Baby and Me class at Northside Hospital. This class is designed to help Big Siblings -To-Be understand what to expect with a new baby in the house and how to "help" care for a new baby. Yesterday was the big day of the class, and hubby was out of town so that left the boys and I to go it alone. Boy #2 barely met the age minimum of 3 (ok, he won't meet the age minimum for three more weeks but they didn't ask for his ID and I didn't want him to feel left out so I fudged a little), so I was a little worried about how he would do. As it turns out, my fears were not unfounded, but he could've done worse.

Our first luck-out was when the instructor informed us that our class was the smallest class in the history of Baby and Me (it was just my boys and a 7 year old girl). The instructor seemed disappointed by this fact, but I am convinced that it was God's way of sparing other children and their parents the experience of "learning" with my children.

This one-hour, "fast paced" (as described in the course material) starts off with the instructor distributing a sibling scrapbook/coloring book and crayons for each child to take home for later. This was Instructor Mistake Number One. Boy #2 got sidetracked by the fact this his crayon box was slightly different than his older brother's and spent the rest of the class fixated on how to get crayons "just like my brother's". Halfway through the class, he finally let go of it and spent the rest of the class taking his Crocs on and off and trying to push his own stroller around the classroom.

Boy #1 (age 4 1/2), to his credit, paid attention and even seemed to absorb critical information! His attention only wavered when I busted out my camera to capture pictures of him changing a baby doll's diaper, at which point he insisted on using the camera himself to photograph every baby doll in the class.

The main points of the class can be summarized as:
-Don't touch the baby's umbilical cord stump
-Ask mom or dad to hold the baby
-Wash your hands before holding baby
-Sit all the way back in your chair to hold baby
-Tell mom and dad when you are tired of holding baby, don't just drop him on the floor
-How to change a diaper (I never would've guessed that with 3 and 4 year old assistants, I might be able to avoid changing a single diaper this time around!)
-Seeing an actual newborn baby in the nursery (the only baby available was a girl and my kids were unimpressed)

As a bonus, when you complete the class, you get a coupon for a free McFlurry at the Northside Hospital McDonalds. Since both boys were really good (for them), we hit the McDonalds and used one of our coupons to split a McFlurry three ways, pocketing the others for use when the baby is born. As we enjoyed our McFlurry, I asked each of the boys what their favorite part of the class was. Boy #1's response: "This is crazy! There's a McDonalds in this hospital!"

Boy #2 retained more than I thought, because when I quizzed them today on the tips offered in the class, Boy #1 could only remember to wash his hands and ask to touch the baby. Boy #2 busted out with "Wiggle, wiggle, bum to the back!" (the instructor's rhyme to help children remember to sit all the way back in their chairs when holding baby).

I would highly recommend this class for other, more focused Siblings-To-Be. There is even a more advanced, in-depth, 1.5-hour Baby and Me II for children ages 7 to 10. Check out Northside's class listings at to register.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Boys of Summer

It's officially summer in the Fox household. Even at this young age, my boys seem to sense the freedom that long, lazy summer days offer. They have this inexplicable pull to be outside, even in the sweltering Atlanta heat, and they are determined to dart out to the backyard every time I turn my back on them. They can be found, at any hour of the day where there is daylight (and often pushing into dusk), running around the backyard shoeless and sometimes shirtless, depending on the heat. There's no shortage of adventures to be had outside. We have a small fleet of cars and bikes, ranging from a Little Tikes motorcycle all the way to a tiny toddler BMW convertible. When they're not playing "cars", they're graffitting the driveway with sidewalk chalk. When things get a little warm, they fill up the water table and take turns either splashing each other or standing in it. In between, they take breaks for bubbles, matchbox cars, and Popsicles, occasionally running in the house to get more toys, snacks, or drinks. Pretty much the only time they stop playing in the backyard is when we pack up and go for a break from the heat at the local pool.

They've always been all boy, but this summer they seem to have a Tom and Huck air about them - hair sticking up, dirt smudged on their faces, scabby knees, bruised legs,and of course, dirty feet since they refuse to wear shoes for backyard adventures. They smell of sunblock and chlorine and their hands and faces are sticky from all the watermelon, Popsicles, and lemonade. They play like wild men all day and then collapse from exhaustion into bed at the end of the day.

Their enthusiasm for the summer is infectious. I've staked myself a spot on the screened-in porch underneath the ceiling fan where I can supervise their antics in a cooler setting. I sip tall glasses of lemonade and flip through a magazines while they play. I try to resist the urge to wipe dirty faces and feet every time they come onto the porch to show me something (usually a bug of some sort). I've officially given up on keeping the floors clean (thank goodness we got hardwoods this spring - no more carpet to worry about!), rolling up the area rug in our living room and resigning myself to the bits of outdoor debris that seem to migrate inside during the boys' cooling off breaks.

I know that by the time September rolls around, we'll all be ready for the routine of school again, but for now, it feels awfully good just to be experiencing the summer little boy style.