Monday, April 13, 2009

Easter Concert

Last week I was part of a concert with Dozan wa Awtar. I mentioned in the last post that I would write about it soon. However, heiseheise did such a good job you can read his post and I'll add just a few notes. Heiseheise is just one of the many wonderful people I've gotten to know in the choir. It is an incredibly diverse group; from many countries and languages, and religions. About half are Jordanians, and during the concert I sang in between two awesome singers, one Filipino-American and one Iranian.

Oliver and Teddy Bear enjoyed our last concert, which was geared for children, and as Baby Bulb slept through the whole thing, Abu Tulip even got to enjoy the music as well.

You may wonder why in the world I would join a choir in the midst of having our third child. Well, as I mentioned last post, try to sing and be irritated at the same time. Yes, it is possible to convey anger in song, which we certainly did during portions of Zahret Almada'en. However, no matter how difficult a day I've had, singing instantaneously reduces my stress level. Baby Bulb joined us for rehearsals from the time he was 2 weeks old, and my fellow choir members adore him. Singing with Dozan wa Awtar has been such a joy for me and has certainly helped me get through the last month of pregnancy and first months with a newborn.

I'll finish with a few quotes I found online:

The only thing better than singing is more singing. ~ Ella Fitzgerald

And the night shall be filled with music,
And the cares that infest the day
Shall fold their tents like the Arabs
And as silently steal away.
~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, The Day Is Done

I don't' sing because I'm happy; I'm happy because I sing. ~William James

Music expresses that which cannot be said and on which it is impossible to be silent. ~Victor Hugo

The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing. Zephaniah 3:17

There is nothing in the world so much like prayer as music is. ~William P. Merrill

~ Um Tulip

Friday, April 10, 2009

The 5 S's plus 2

Baby Bulb is almost 2 months old now, so it's time for a baby update. He is growing like a weed, and is already in the 3 to 6 month size clothes. He's sleeping at night, usually up once or twice to feed, but has learned to get back to sleep rather quickly. His older brothers adore him, and Teddy Bear doesn't stop giving him kisses.

For those of you with little ones, here is something I found helpful. It's called the 5 S's, or 5 things that start with the letter S that help calm a newborn baby. Somebody named Dr. Harvey Karp wrote a book about it. I'll summarize.

Swaddle: this is wrapping a baby up tightly so he can't move his arms or wiggle much at all. I use an extra large receiving blanket, and literally wrap him up like he's 'waraq dawaali' or 'rolled grape leaves'. The idea is that babies are all scrunched up in the womb and they like to be wrapped up tight. This technique really helps him fall asleep.

Suck: personally, I'm an advocate for pacifiers. It's a lot easier to throw away a pacifier when he gets to be about two than it is to get rid of the thumb-sucking habit. You can't exactly throw away a thumb! Around 6 weeks is when my boys have started enjoying sucking on a pacifier. The calming effect works wonders. We use the nuk brand. Oliver called his pacifier a 'this-y' because I used to ask him, 'do you want this?' Teddy Bear called his pacifier a 'fire' as in the last syllable of the word. When we relegated the pacifier to the bed, he used to call for his 'fire, fire, fire' and it was quite comical. I wonder what Baby Bulb will call his.

Side: while babies should sleep on their backs to reduce the risk of SIDS, sometimes babies like to be on their sides or tummies. Often a change in position makes a big difference if a baby is fussy. Mine really enjoys tummy time, especially after a feeding. It helps him release some gas, and he's much more content after a few minutes on his tummy.

Shh: in almost any language saying 'shh' seems to mean 'be quiet'. By saying 'shhh' really loudly into your baby's ear, your baby will often calm down immediately. The theory is that a baby in the womb hears a sound similar to this. Variations of this technique include blowing a hair dryer or vacuuming nearby. I've heard stories of desperate parents tape-recording a vacuum and playing the tape near their baby to help him/her get to sleep. Playing the radio on static has a similar effect. We have a ocean sounds baby aquarium that plays music, waves, or basically white noise. Again, it works wonders!

Swing: the theory behind this one is that a swing simulates the motion of being in the womb. An electric swing is great, but often our little one likes being swung by mommy or daddy. Rocking, bouncing, and pacing all have a similar effect.

I've got two more to add, and I even came up with more S's. Singing! Baby Bulb has been attending choir rehearsals with me throughout the pregnancy and after being born. We just finished our marathon week of rehearsals and concerts and I hope to post about that later. In any event, babies love it when you sing to them. I think part of the reason it works is that if you are holding a fussy baby - especially one who just won't calm down - you are likely to be tense and irritated yourself. Try singing while you're irritated - it doesn't work. By singing, you relax yourself, and babies can sense tension.

The second one to add is this: Solo time. Leave your baby alone! A few nights ago Baby Bulb would not calm down. We'd tried all of the above, along with changing him, feeding him, etc., etc. My mother-in-law and I couldn't think of anything else to do, and were both tired and tense. Finally we put him in his bed, and left. He immediately calmed down and was content. Sometimes babies just get overstimulated. If you're a stressed out mom and feel overwhelmed, sometimes the best thing to do is just to set your baby down safely in his bed and take a break.

Also, congrats to the family of Babycue and Hondorp family on their new little ones. Happy parenting!

~ Um Tulip

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Birthday Party Crashers

Last week we did Teddy Bear's birthday party. He turned 3 a few weeks back, and we waited for grandma to arrive from America to throw the party. I let him choose the guest list, which included about half of his nursery school and some neighborhood friends as well. It was monkey themed, with Curious George plates and fruit snacks, and a homemade monkey cake. I also made jello for the kids, which was a big hit. I used 6 packets of jello, and between 20-25 clear cups. Two days before the party I did the first layer of jello, one day before the party another layer, and the day of we topped the cups with whipped cream (dream whip is what is available here).We had kids, moms, dads, chaos, and fun. The weather was colder than I thought it would be so we were mostly inside, but the sun came out for a while. Teddy Bear was thrilled and grinned ear the whole time. Abu Tulip read a Curious George story to the kids, and we sent the children home happy and sugar buzzed.

Today we decided to take the kids to funtastic. With Abu Tulip away for work, grandma and I wanted to do something fun with the boys. Oliver has been begging to return to funtastic ever since Twinbean's birthday there. What we didn't realize is that there was a birthday party going on already. The host invited us to join and we had quite a party. Along with all the great educational activities at the place, they had hired magician to come to a show, and brought food and cake to feed three birthday parties. The magician had a two live rabbits, a snake, and a turtle, along with the usual tricks up his sleeve. The kids were thrilled. They also dressed up as batman and spiderman and danced for the video camera. The kids even received party favors, too. We thanked the birthday boy's family numerous times, and they were so gracious.
We're home now and exhausted. Time for a Dora movie for the kids and some down -time for us! Gotta love Arab hospitality. Maybe we'll crash a birthday party again next week...

~ Um Tulip