Day 129: Packing an Emergency Kit

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Chances are that sometime and you will forget to bring the diaper bag. This can be a stressful experience, especially when you are in a restaurant with the baby who just exceeded the capacity of his diaper. That is what the emergency kit is for. In addition to carrying around the diaper bag, put together an emergency kit that always stays in our car.

Our emergency kit fits inside a plastic bin with a lid and has a permanent residence in our trunk. It contains many of the same things as a diaper bag, such as diapers baby wipes, but also a few things for me and my wife such as a little cash, a razor, and spare batteries.

There are plenty of times that we were so busy, and running late that we forgot the diaper bag. In these instances, having an emergency kit that is always in the car has really saved our bacon. Kids don’t wait for a convenient time to make a mess or need a change of clothes. If you have this always on hand, you do not need to worry about these unexpected situations.

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Day 101: TLC for Babies with Colds

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With their usually fragile immune systems, infants and babies are especially susceptible picking up colds and other infections. This can be a stressful time for both the baby and parents, but there are certain measures you can take in order to relieve some of your child’s discomfort.

1. The most important thing to remember is to check the label of any medicine you administer to a young child before you give it. Giving an infant or young baby a full adult does of a medicine can be extremely harmful if not fatal.

Medicines will indicate on the label whom they are intended for and if there is a smaller recommended dose for children. Many medicines are not recommended to be given to children less than two years old, but there are often infant’s versions of the same medicine for children versions that are less potent and are safe to use with children. Still check the label to make sure. If you believe you have overdosed the child, it is a good idea to contact your local poison control center and ask them for advice.

2. When cleaning off a runny nose for an infant the soft, tender skin around the nose can becoming easily irritated. In order to avoid this, you might consider using a warm washcloth to clean off mucus or using extra soft tissues instead of the normal variety. If the area around the nose does become irritated and red, apply gentle baby lotion to the spot to provide some relief.

3. If the baby is congested, you might consider using a humidifier. These are readily available at normal stores like Walmart and Target. Fill the humidifier with water to the fill line and plug it in the baby’s room. This provides a more humid atmosphere which can be soothing and make it easier for the baby to breathe in addition. You can also use a menthol rub like Vicks vapor rub and apply it directly to the baby’s chest and neck as this will assist with easier breathing and the clearing of the nasal passages.

Most importantly, be sure to show your child an extra degree of care and love. Urge them to sleep and recover. Having a few colds or other sicknesses is normal for young children, but if something persists for a long time, be sure to consult your pediatrician.

Day 94: Stainfighting for Childhood Stains

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If you want to be a father you have got to realize that it’s not for the squeamish. Every type of bodily fluid that can possibly come out of a baby will at one time to probably come out on you.

At times like this, it’s good to remember that they don’t do it on purpose…we hope. It is also good to remember that you probably did this to someone you know and love as well when you were little.

Here are a few tips to get you through the dirty days.

1. Prevention. There are many ways to prevent messes getting on your clothing. When you’re burping the baby, always do so with some sort of burp cloth or towel laid over your clothing in the direct line of fire.

When changing diapers, don’t do a haphazard job. Make sure that the seals are tight on both sides. Change your child’s diaper often enough so that it does not leak out. There’s only so much those diapers can do. Right after feeding, don’t roughhouse with your baby. Throwing the baby in the air or subjecting it any kind of motion can lead to increased spit up.

2. Treatment. You can try to prevent all you want, but the reality is that it’s going to happen. You might want to invest in a few pairs of spare pants and a few extra shirts not that you are a father. The baby does make a mess on your clothing, wash off what you can right away under running water if possible.

The next is to treat the stain. You can do this with special detergent such as Oxy Clean or other kinds of soap. Depending on the severity of the stain, you might want to let your clothing soak in detergent and water for a few hours or even overnight. Then, wash the clothing as usual. That should be enough to combat most stains.

3. Have solutions ready for the road. You will not always be able to take off your shirts and throw it in the laundry. In these situations, it’s best to still try to get off as much as you can, but also to carry some sort of portable stain fighting product. You can buy these that can fit easily in your pocket or purse how are you to treat the stain immediately and watch it later.

Above all, you just need to keep a good sense of humor. Though it may not seem so moments, incidents like this often become funny when you look back on them.

Day 92: Children are an Heritage of the Lord

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Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.

-Psalms 127:3

It is sometimes difficult for me to turn on the news these days. When I do so, I see stories about children who’ve been harmed, neglected, or even killed. It saddens me deeply that some people are choosing to not let their children be born at all.

One of my own children is from a group of people that many choose to abort. If we had found out about his Down Syndrome before he was born, however, we would not have even considered it.

We see our son for what he is: a treasure, a gift and a heritage from the Lord. We have had many difficulties raising him and he has had some medical problems, but I feel we’ve been strengthened and blessed in order to deal with these. The sweet and loving spirit that he brings to our home far outweighs any trouble we have to go to care for him.

Every child, no matter his or her circumstances deserves to be loved and treasured for the heritage they are.

Day 87: Learning the Language of Kid’s Clothing

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On top of everything else you need to learn as a father, there is a completely new language. No, I’m not talking about the cute little babble that comes out of baby’s mouths. We’re still working on that one. If we cracked that code, then you’d be set for life. No, I’m talking about children’s clothing sizes.

Now, at first glance, it may seem that the sizes are pretty straightforward. The smaller sizes even come with recommended ages. The question is, does your child fit into those?

For example, our first son got the tall genes from both sides of our families and was off the charts in head size and height. He’s gonna be one tall man. This means that he always wore a size or two bigger than his age would indicate. This made it so I had to completely ignore the tag that said 12 months when putting it on my six month old son.

Our second son has down syndrome, and this makes him a little smaller than most kids. I once again have to ignore the tag that says 18 months when I dress my two and a half year old.

To make things even more confusing, the sizes might differ slightly between different brands of clothing. An 18 month shirt bought at the Gap might be a different size than an 18 month shirt that you buy at Carter’s. Don’t worry if you don’t know all the children’s clothing stores yet. You will.

Then, to make things most confusing of all, they change systems in midstream. It starts out easy, premie, infant, six months, 12 months 18 months 24 months and then goes into a system of numbers and letters. It starts with size 2 and then you add a T in order to make it slightly bigger.

So 2T is a little bigger than T. You then proceed to three, while neglecting all other out letters of the alphabet. What does T stand for? Your guess is as good as mine. “Tippecanoe” for all I know. Then it is 3 and 3T all the way up to 6 and 6T. At that point, guess what’s next? Not 7. Extra small…

The moral of the story is, it is going to take you a little while to learn this new language. Don’t get caught up too much in the system, but instead just figure out what fits. Make sure that you have enough clothes of each successive size for your children. They grow out of them much more quickly than you would like.

My final word on the matter? Don’t go overboard on spending too much money for kids clothes. Children are notorious for making messes, ruining their clothes and growing out of them before you can blink. I don’t mean you have to dress your kids and gunnysacks, but keep this in mind. As always, good luck.

Day 74: Easy to Be King

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“It is very easy to be a military strategist, a mercenary, or a king, but much harder to be a father.”
― Nadia ScrievaTides of Tranquility

I have done things in my life for which I had received welcome attention. I’ve been on stage for thousands of people at a time, and had people come ask me to autograph my books. Getting to this point took a lot of work, but they pale in comparison to my ongoing efforts at become a better father.

While both my writing and singing have brought me great satisfaction, it is nothing like the satisfaction I feel seeing my children grow and progress and feeling the genuine love they return to me every day.

Being a good day takes a lot of work, over a long period of time. People might like a book I’ve written and stay with it for a while, or clap and cheer at the end of a concert, but my work as a father will shape the lives of my children for the rest of their lives for good or ill, and then shape what kind of parents they will be.

Question:  Does being a father bring you satisfaction? Why or why not? What can you do to increase your satisfaction with fatherhood?

Day 73: He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands

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I remember the first time I held my first son in my arms. It is sort of surreal experience to look down and see your own facial features reflected on another human being. In some respects, I kind of felt sorry for the little guy. I remember thinking once in those early days "Oh boy, you got my huge noggin." When I was growing up, my friends used to call me “melon head” as I put prize-winning melons watermelons to shame.

At first, it might be a little nerve-racking to hold the little guy or gal because they seem so fragile. There are a few things to remember holding a newborn baby. First, is that babies are much more flexible than even young children. Many of their bones and joints are simply not as developed yet and so they might bend and stretch in ways that you would not expect. This helps the baby for the birthing process.
Secondly, if you feel of depression in the top of your baby's head, don't panic. Someone didn't drop them and they don't have a malformed skull. This is what is known as the "soft spot". Before birth the bones of a baby’s skull do not fuse together, which helps them be able to be born through a very small space without damaging their head. After birth, the bones start to fuse together and the soft spot should shrink in the coming months.
Third, is that infant need extra support to their head and neck. Infants might be happiest in several different positions but whatever you do support the neck. If you don't, their heads can easily flop around which can cause damage.

Fourth, make sure you are holding an infant with clean hands. Babies are exceptionally susceptible to pathogens. Their immune system’s are not fully developed and so must be extra cautious. As a rule, make sure to wash your hands frequently around your infants and specifically before you hold or feed him or her. Avoid touching their mouth, eyes, nose, and ears, as these are common places where germs can enter. For the few first few months at least, it is wise to limit the number of people that you allow to hold the baby, as each new person has potential to introduce different kinds of germs.

Finally, just enjoy the experience. They really do grow very quickly and soon holding your baby will be less like holding the weight of a plastic doll and more like holding the weight of a sack of potatoes. Eventually, it will be like holding something you can’t pick up at all.

Day 66: Sleep, Blessed Sleep

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For the first months of your child’s life, you will likely wonder how babies can sleep so much and not get more of it during the middle of the night. You might also wonder if you will ever get a good night’s sleep again. What have you gotten yourself into?

The good news is that as children age, they tend to sleep better. All children have different sleeping patterns, but this generally holds true. So there is hope! Getting the little bundle of joy the sleep will be one of your major tasks as a parent. Here are just a few suggestions and things to keep in mind.

1. Make sure that the basic needs of your baby are met. It is very difficult for them to go to sleep if they’re hungry or need a diaper change.

2. Make your house as distraction free as possible. Turn down the music, the TV, or the video games. Avoid running anything that makes too much noise for the best chance of keeping your little one asleep. You might want to even inform your neighbors if you’re living in an apartment or duplex so that they can enjoy the peace and quiet as well.

3. Find out what position your baby is most comfortable in. Some children like to lie on one side or the other. Others prefer their backs. Some babies prefer going to sleep on their stomachs, which is something that conventional wisdom says might be dangerous.

Some babies like to be rocked to sleep in your arms and others prefer lying against your shoulder. Some babies will take to a baby swing to go to sleep. Some babies take comfort in being swaddled in a blanket. Some babies like to be bounced gently or have their backs rubbed to go to sleep.

Of course there’s the good old-fashioned lullaby, which many babies enjoy. You may have to experiment for a while to see what is most soothing to your baby.

4. Give them familiar comfortable conditions. Try to rock them to sleep in the dark with a comfortable temperature. Even young babies start to recognize familiar voices and smells and these could be comforting.

5. Avoid exposure to lighted computer and TV screens too close to bed time. These can keep the mind stimulated and awake.

In the end is best just remember the good-humored about it. Try to enjoy the time you have with your baby when they are small even though it might be tiresome at times. Last of all, good luck. Chances are you’ll need it.

Day 59: Coping with Crying

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It is something you will not be able to escape: babies cry. They often do a lot of it. The most frustrating aspect is that there may be no apparent reason. They simply can’t tell you what’s wrong.

It is hard, but we have to put ourselves in their…well not shoes, per se, but think of how they see things. They start out completely helpless and have to rely on someone else to meet even their most basic needs. That would make me grumpy too!

That being said, there are appropriate ways to deal with crying and inappropriate ones. Here are some suggestions that I have found helpful:

  1. Meet the basic three: Are the hungry, tired, or need to be changed? Many times, fussiness comes down to one of the basic three. Try those avenues first before trying other things.
  2. Find out what soothes them: Many babies like to be rocked or cuddled, but each baby has a preferred way. You can do this in your arms, a baby swing, on a blanket. Experiment with different things like gently rubbing the baby’s back or having the baby lie on your shoulder.
  3. If you feel yourself reaching the breaking point, take a short break. Either switch off who is caring for the baby, or if you are alone, place the baby in a safe environment, such as his crib and step outside for a second. Listen to a song that calms you down, say a prayer, take deep breaths, whatever helps you. If you don’t do something to deescalate your frustration, it can lead to less rational actions that you might regret.
  4. Be on the lookout for patterns and problems. What are the baby’s triggers? Is the baby spitting up more than usual? Does he have a rash or other strange marks on his skin? You may need to consult a pediatrician or change a baby’s diet, as he may be having an allergic reaction.
  5. Never throw or shake your baby. This can cause terrible damage as babies are fragile.

There are many ways to calm babies, and here are some suggestions.

http://www.dummies.com/how-to/content/your-babys-first-year-coping-with-crying.html

http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/healthy-baby/PR00037

http://www.nspcc.org.uk/help-and-advice/for-parents-and-carers/parenting-advice/crying-babies/crying-babies_wda90765.html

Good luck! It does get better and it is worth it.

Day 58: Passing Down Music

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Like it or not, I grew up liking a lot of the music that my parents listened to. My mother loved musicals, and would play the tracks for us, while telling us the plot of the musicals so that we grew to love them even before we saw them on stage.

As an adult, I love the music of James Taylor, because my mother listened to it while I was growing up. This fall, I will have the chance to actually perform with him in Salt Lake City with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

I now share my favorite kinds of music with my sons, and they have taken to it completely. It has been a way to bond with my sons and feel like I am passing something on to them. My oldest loves choral music so much now that he recently sat through a 90 minute concert with barely a peep, because he was so in to the music.

Sharing your music is easier than ever. Not only can you download music digitally to your phone or computer through sites like Amazon.com and iTunes, but there are now digital music services like Pandora or Spotify that allow you access to a wide library of music for free.

It’s even more fun if you dance around with your kids to upbeat music. I remember that we’d all lie around the living room and my parents would put on “Comin’ to America” by Neil Diamond that starts out really slowly. During the slow part, we would all gradually stand up and when the fast section came, all of us kids would dance around the room until the song was done.  Good memories.

Question: How could you share your favorite kinds of music with your kids?