Day 46: Protecting Your Family

“Son, there are times a man has to do things he doesn’t like to, in order to protect his family.”
― Ralph Moody

Being a father is often a difficult job that requires you to leave comfort and convenience behind.  It requires you to take responsibility for others, which means putting their needs first.

I remember during my last year of college that I found myself in a grueling situation. I was studying to be a high school German teacher and had a half school year of student teaching to do. I taught all day at school, had a few hours at home to both see my family and sleep and then I started work at midnight until eight a.m. at a call center job helping European clients. We had our first son at home who was still very young and would wake up often during the middle of the night while I was at work. I spent many breaks and ‘lunch’ hours at work talking to my wife who had been up with the little guy.

Fortunately, this insane schedule did not last, and I eventually settled back in to a more normal routine. It was, however, at the time, the only thing that allowed me to provide for my family and fulfill my educational obligations at the same time.  Looking back, I am glad that I muscled through the tough time, as it was the foundation of a better future for my family.

Question: What sacrifices do I need to make to protect my family?

Day 45: What is Colic? What Can You Do?

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What is Colic?

25% of all babies develop colic and if your baby seems to be crying for long periods of time then your baby may have joined the Colic Club.

Colic usually occurs between 2 weeks and 3 months when the digestive system is still forming outside of the womb.  Your baby’s digestive system is still maturing and will go through abrupt changes in the first 6 months. During that development period, the gastrointestinal tract is not ready to fight off bacteria and other pathogens.

When a baby cries inconsolably for long periods for many days or nights, it is a sign of colic. Colic occurs in the first few months of life when baby’s digestive system is still adjusting to life outside the womb. Symptoms sometimes occur after mealtimes. Signs of colic include, bloated tummy, gas, frequent spit ups, disrupted sleep patterns, inconsolable crying. During the episodes baby’s back may be arched, knees may be pulled to the chest, fists may be clenched and the arms and legs may flail. Symptoms may cease after a bowel movement or after passing gas.

Babies cry when they are, hungry, cold, hot or needs a diaper change However, if the crying continues frequently for long periods of time and on a daily basis, it may be colic. Even though colic may be distressing for both baby and parents, it is not harmful and has no long term effects on infant development.

The Juju Band is specially developed to help with the symptoms of colic. When the abdomen is distended, wrap the Juju Band snugly around baby’s tummy. The heat from the Juju Band will help to release the gas and bloating that baby is experiencing. Babies often stop the crying when the pressure of the gas is released. Allergies such as lactose intolerance can also cause symptoms.
If crying continues and you feel the need for more assistance, consult your pediatrician.

More About Bands

There are differences in bands.

Homemade bands that are often knotted are not advisable because the materials are not breathable and the knots can be too tight around your baby’s waist.  There has to be a certain “give” to the material so your baby can feel comfortable.

Elastic bands do not allow for your baby’s body to breathe through the fabric and this can cause your baby to overheat. Furthermore, elastic can be constricting for your baby. If you have ever worn a tight pair of pants with elastic for any length of time, then you know uncomfortable that feels.

Herbal packs are not really effective because they lose potency quickly. Exposure to heat, light, and moisture damage the dried botanicals. The heating methods are a gimmick and can be costly for parents without the benefits they are looking for.  Additionally, introducing new foods such as herbs can have the opposite effect because your baby may have allergies to the new substance and the addition of heat may cause a rash on your baby’s sensitive skin.  While some herbal pack makers recommend heating, it is always best to use caution when it comes to anything heated as it can cause rashes and burning in some instances.

A simple band that is made of a breathable material is best to help your baby’s colic.

Day 44:Of Legos and Landmines

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I don’t know what about so many little kids make them want to build stuff, but it’s true. I wish, like Lego, I could have could have cashed in on such a primal childish instinct.

Many of my good memories growing up were around the Lego bucket, as we called it. We’d put all of our Lego kits into a single bucket and them dump them out with a tremendous clatter that must have stirred despair into our parents’ hearts. You’ve got to pick all of those little things up, because if you don’t, you’ll find out why most people equate stepping on a Lego with bare feet with a land mine.

Some days we built towers and castles. The next we built spaceships and alien creatures to chase. It didn’t much matter.  We didn’t know or care that we weren’t building masterpieces, but it still gave us a sense of accomplishment.

Don’t be afraid to jump in and build with your kids. The thrill is still there when you find just the right brick that’s the color and size you need. You’ll be fostering your child’s imagination, and who knows? Maybe he or she really will grow up to be a hotshot architect and take care of you in your old age.

Here’s dreamin’.

Day 43: The Benevolent Blacksmith

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Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him.

Proverbs 13:24 ESV

This verse is not so much about what method of discipline to use, and is certainly not saying that we should physically strike or abuse our children. It does highlight the fact that righteous discipline is not an act of hate, but of love. God, our Father in Heaven, disciplines us not to destroy us, but to temper and refine us.

A blacksmith takes a raw hunk of metal and turns it into something useful, a tool, a weapon, or even a horseshoe. Turning the metal from its native state into something useful, however, requires a great amount of heat and many strong strokes from the blacksmith’s hammer to shape it. The impurities are burned away and what was hard and unyielding becomes pliable so that it can be reshaped.  The blacksmith does not despise the metal he is trying to shape, and only subjects it to these conditions in order to improve it.

In the same way, our Father in Heaven puts us through the heat of trials and the hammer blows of corrections to mold us into something better than we could ever hope to be on our own.

Question: In what way does righteous discipline help shape people’s lives? How can you make sure you are disciplining your children in the right way?

Day 42: Boys’ Life Father’s Day Jokes Part III

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A book never written: “Fatherly Advice” by Buck L. Upson.

– Submitted by Aaron and Andrew M., Redondo Beach, Calif.

Son: For $20, I’ll be good.

Dad: Oh, yeah?  When I was your age, I was good for nothing.

– Submitted by Robby S., Putnam Valley, N.Y.

Pee Wee: What do you call your dad when he falls through the ice?

Westy: Beats me.

Pee Wee: A POPsicle!

– Submitted by Philip K., Marshalltown, Iowa

Pee Wee: How is the baby bird like its dad?

Westy: How?

Pee Wee: It’s a chirp off the old block.

– Submitted by David D., Guyton, Ga.

Day 41: Your Wife’s Goals and Interests

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Every marriage is different, but many of them have husbands who are more “visible” to the world. Many husbands have the visible careers and other pursuits that bring them attention.

In my case, I do a lot of performing, both in a large choir that is televised every week and on local stages. It can hard for my wife sometimes when I get the spotlight, while her wonderful efforts to raise our children go unnoticed by many. (But are very appreciated by me.)

It is important to remember to allow your wife every chance to pursue her own interests and goals. Depending on your situation, this might require you to make some personal sacrifices to make this happen. For example, this year, instead of taking part in a local theater, I am watching my kids so that my wife, who also loves the stage, can take part in a show while I support her. That is the least that I can do in order thank her for all that she does.

Maybe your wife likes to write, to paint, to sew, to write or play music, to play on a local sports team, or any number of other pursuits. She is going to need your support to make time for her to pursue her interests. This will pay big dividends in the quality of your marriage.

Question: What can I do so that I make sure my wife can pursue her goals and interests?

Day 40: Father Israel

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See also: http://christianity.about.com/od/oldtestamentpeople/a/Jacob-In-The-Bible.htm 

Jacob, later called Israel, was one of the great Biblical fathers, who had twelve sons, whose descendants became the 12 Tribes of Israel.

The name Israel in Hebrew means “he struggles with God”, and Jacob had many struggles in his life. He took his birthright inheritance through subterfuge from his brother, Esau, and when he married sisters, Rachel and Leah, he showed preferential treatment to Rachel.  His beloved Rachel gave him only two of his twelve sons, Benjamin and Joseph. Israel doted on Joseph so much that his remaining brothers grew jealous of him, which created family strife and division.

Joseph’s jealous brothers sold their brother into slavery and faked his death, causing their father deep sorrow.

Though Israel made many poor decisions, he doubtless made many good ones, and the Lord showed mercy on him. His son, Joseph, who had been sold into slavery in Egypt proved their salvation as he later became an Egyptian ruler and took them in during a devastating famine. The Lord was able to turn Israel’s family’s poor decisions and turn them around to something good.

Question: What can we learn as father’s from Jacob’s triumphs and mistakes?  How can we prevent favoritism and the strife it causes in our families?

Day 39: Beyond an Enchanter’s Skill

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“…alas, raising a young lady is a mystery even beyond an enchanter’s skill.”
― Lloyd AlexanderThe Castle of Llyr

Though I don’t have any daughters of my own yet, I grew up with four little sisters.

They were each sweat little girls, but every one was a firebrand. You didn’t mess with them or anyone they cared about. They cared about things like clothes, shoes and doing their hair, and all I wondered is why they were spending so much time in the bathroom before school.

After my third sister was born, we found out how much she valued personal space. Anyone who got too close left with scratches. My friends at school asked me a few times if I had a cat, and I would respond “No, but I do have a baby sister.”

You might think a girl like that would grow up to be a real wild child. Today, however, she is one of the level-headed, kind , studious and smart people I know. She just got accepted to a university on a scholarship and is an incredible pianist.

You can never quite tell how kids are going to turn out, and as father’s it can be hard to fathom a little girl’s mind. It’s hard enough figuring out her mothers’! You may not understand the hair, or the shoes, or some of the traumatic emotional episodes they go through, and you don’t necessarily need to know anything. The best thing you can do as a dad is to show them how men should respect women by the way you treat her mother and the way you treat them.

Question: What can I do to show my daughters or future daughters respect?

Day 38: Feeding a Baby

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If you are bottle-feeding, it is a great chance for you to step in as a father, especially when your little bundle of joy wakes up in the middle of the night. (In fact, some of my sweetest experiences with my kids have been waking up to feed them. )

The first thing you need to think about, is how many ounces to feed the baby. This is something you should speak to your child’s pediatrician about. As they grow older, you are going to need to increase the number of ounces you use at each feeding.

You also need to know that in addition to bottle sizes, there are different kinds of bottle nipples. Some are “low-flow”, which release the liquid less quickly, while “hi-flow” nipples release more liquid at a time. There are nipples that are differently shaped for babies  who have feeding issues.

While feeding a baby, always make sure to support their neck and head and pay close attention. If they are struggling or coughing, you might need to remove the bottle until they recover.

For more info, check out the following sites:

http://kellymom.com/bf/pumpingmoms/feeding-tools/bottle-feeding/

http://www.babycenter.com/0_bottle-feeding-basics_752.bc

http://www.drugs.com/cg/bottle-feeding-your-baby.html

Day 37: Play it Again…

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I remember the wonder on a Christmas morning when my brothers and I unwrapped a Super Nintendo Entertainment System. It felt having an arcade in our living room.

Video games these days that I played on that system now run on my phone and the cutting edge games look more like movies. There is still something charming about those old games that many of the new games do not capture in my eyes.

One fun bonding thing I like to do with my son is replay some of those old games that I grew up on: the old Super Mario and Zelda games in particular.  These games were often simpler to learn and play than many current titles and so it is easier to play them with my children, and relive my own childhood at the same time.

What’s great is that you don’t necessarily need to dust off a retro system from the attic. In my case, my current system has the option of purchasing retro games and downloading them directly onto the system’s hard drive. The new system doesn’t require quite so much cajoling to work properly.