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Thursday, March 31, 2011

Who Came Up with This?

The screaming, the thrashing, the whining, the complete meltdown explosion. It caught me by surprise.  Yes, I had noticed my babies getting more cranky over the past few days, but I figured it was letdown from our vacation ending, tiredness, maybe a growth spurt causing hungriness. I never in my wildest dreams would have anticipated the striking and startling hour-long tantrum that was in store for me yesterday morning.

I don't even remember how it started.  It rose so quickly and became so intense within seconds, it seemed as if my life had never been different, that I'd always had a wailing toddler kicking, biting and rolling about by my feet, that I'd always been trying to hug, console, talk to or otherwise coddle this whirlwind of emotion.

I couldn't get her to talk to me. I couldn't get her to even attempt to explain what the heck had happened to set this off.  She was beside herself. Literally out of her mind. And I was quickly getting there.

Is it food?  Would you like more breakfast?  Your bear? Do you want Bear? No. How about a drink? Do you have to use the potty? Baby, are you sick? Do you want a hug? Hell, no! What can I do for you?  For the love of anything holy, tell me, what can I do for you?

All at once I felt helpless, overwhelmed, broken.  I felt sympathy for my daughter, but, not understanding what could possibly be wrong, I felt mildly annoyed, too.  I know well enough by now that these were not cries for show. She wasn't acting out for attention.  Something must really be wrong. But, baby, you can talk now.  So, talk! Tell me, please. Tell me.

Finally, she calmed down on her own.  She still wouldn't tell me what the whole thing was about.  I tried to talk to her about it, and she was all, "I don't even know to what you are referring, my good lady." (My babies never leave a participle hanging, you see. Haha.)

It was only a good 30 minutes later, when I was feeding them a snack that I found the problem. There in the back of her mouth was a bloody little patch on one side with four little points barely breeching the surface.

Remember when I told you it was always teething?  I'd forgotten my own advice.  It is always teething.

Damn you, foul teeth! Are you not done with us yet?  How long must this go on?

It's my own fault for assuming they were done with this unending phase. Silly me, thinking that the molars that came in when they turned two were their two-year molars. No, no.  Those were the one-year molars.

Can anyone tell me who thought it would be a good evolutionary move to have humans develop teeth in such a way that knife-like bone split up from the gums for years and years and years? Slowly? One at a freaking time?  Intelligent design?  I don't know about that.  Seems cruel and unnecessary.

But, I am comforted.  I know that this time, they are done for real. This will be the last time they have to deal with enflamed mouths of pain.

Oh wait, no.  Because then the teeth fall out and we get to start again.  I ask again...who came up with teething?  I need a word with their supervisor.

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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Advising Patience - Guest Blog

Joella from Dear Delilah, Fine and Fair has graciously bestowed some of her knowledge and superior writing skills to my blog today. She speaks of something close to my heart...patience or the lack thereof. We work so hard to be patient with our children, but what about with other adults?
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Before I became a mother, I wasn’t a terribly patient person. I played the role well enough, but beneath my patient fa├žade there was always a volatile mixture of annoyance, agitation, and intolerance brewing. I could be smiling on the outside while screaming and writhing on the inside. Shortly after the birth of my daughter; that tide started turning.
I doubt that it is unheard of that mothers learn to be patient with their children. While hungry and sleep-deprived, and with floods of hormones surging through our bodies, we tenderly comfort and care for our babies, sometimes for hours at a stretch. This patience that I’m speaking of, however, goes beyond handling teething, nursing strikes, and sleep regressions with grace.
While I was both surprised and relieved by how patient I was with my daughter, I was downright flabbergasted by the patience with other mothers that started to develop. At first, I often found myself annoyed and offended by the well-meaning advice and suggestions of other mothers. Suggestions to get a newborn who didn’t know day from night on a strict schedule struck me as absurd. Being bombarded with questions about how well and where my daughter slept felt like an attack, and I couldn’t help but want to shout in reply “It’s none of your business! Is it YOU getting up with her at night? No? Then don’t worry about it!”
I slowly came to realize that other mothers; my own, my husband’s, and friends, relatives, and even strangers at the grocery store were only trying to help. Perhaps they remember that feeling that is so unique to new mothers, the feeling that you know exactly what to do, but that, at the same time, you have no idea what to do.  Perhaps they miss having a baby of their own to love and nurture. As my daughter grows and develops and I become more seasoned as a mother myself, I sometimes catch myself offering up unsolicited advice. I deceive myself, telling myself that MY unsolicited advice must surely be welcomed and appreciated; after all, MY unsolicited advice is RIGHT!
Mothering is a unique juxtaposition of internal instinct and external information.  While the internal instincts tend to be rather universal, the external information is ever-changing and often conflicting. The bottom line is that all of us do the best we can with the information we have available to us at the time. Whether that information comes directly from other mothers, from the internet, from books, or from doctors, we weigh it against our instincts and proceed with what fits best for us and our families.
Where does that leave me, as both a giver and receiver of well-meaning advice? As a giver, it means that I make myself available to new mothers, letting them know that I’m happy to answer any questions they might have. I withhold my advice until it is actively sought out, unless I notice a mother doing something that I know to be truly dangerous. And you know what? People DO ask. I take comfort in knowing that because the person sought my opinion, whether on breastfeeding, vaccines, baby wearing, co-sleeping, or any other manner of motherly topics, my advice WILL be welcomed and appreciated. As a receiver, it means I listen carefully and patiently, and then smile and say thank you. Again, unless the person is giving advice that is potentially dangerous, it doesn’t make much sense to argue.
In the end, there are very few parenting decisions that are black and white. We mostly choose among various shades of gray, trying things out and keeping or discarding them; developing our own parenting style that works best for our family. One day, when caring for babies and toddlers is a thing of my past, and I am that stranger at the grocery store telling you all about the benefits of cloth diapers and suggesting you ditch that Baby Bjorn in favor of a wrap, please be patient with me. Smile and remember that I was once where you are, and that I’d give anything to have a sweet-smelling soft little baby to love all over again.
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Joella writes Fine and Fair, a blog of letters to her daughter. Fine and Fair is focused on the ups and downs along the journey of raising her daughter as a responsible citizen of the world with the values of compassion toward all living things, environmental responsibility, conservation, and celebrating diversity in all of its forms.
Fine and Fair can also be found on facebook and twitter.

 

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I will be doing a guest blogging series on Wednesday, and I'd love to feature you. Feel free to contact me if you are interested!
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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Intricacies of the Mind

When I'm making dinner, my husband will play some game or another with the babies.  Yesterday, it was this:



He started with the numbers. "Open number...4!" Like a shot, Natalina twirled it open, while Dulce contemplated.  "Open number...1!" Natalina slides it open before Dulce even knows what happened.  "Open number...3!" POP! Natalina again.

"Poor Dulce," my husband said, "you are so slow on the uptake. Why so slow baby?  Natalina, give Dulce a chance." And he made Natalina wait the next time until Dulce popped open the correct number. She got it on the first try, she just had to think about it for a bit longer, whereas with Natalina it was an instant reaction.

But before we, as parents, even had time to worry about uneven development, confusion, memory skills, or any other problem we would automatically foist upon our baby, my husband randomly changed the game.

"Open the...giraffe!" Like a whiz-kid, Dulce slammed open the giraffe compartment, leaving Natalina in the dust.  "Okay, now open the...lion!" Dulce again! Two for two! "Open the...elephant!" Natalina sat scratching her chin while Dulce raced across the finish line, popping open the elephant.

Even in identical twins, the way each mind works is so individual, so unique. With no doctoral training, I certainly could never attempt to box the babies into one intelligence category or another.  Yet, so often, parents try.  Each milestone achieved or failed in a timely fashion is earth-shattering, but we forget those milestones are put in place by a certain type of brain for a certain type of brain.  What one baby achieves at six months or 18 months is not necessarily a water mark for what your baby should achieve, even if they're siblings. Even if they're twins.  For you never know what mental breakthrough has occurred or is right around the corner that we're not testing for.  You may be looking for numbers. Your child may be seeing animals.  It does not make one better or worse than the other. It is actually magical in that it provides the world with all sorts of views and all kinds of thinkers. 

By pushing our children to be a specific way, to think a particular thought, to memorize certain facts, we are doing them a disservice, and we may be missing out on the very special way in which they are viewing the world all on their own.  If my husband hadn't started asking about the animals, we would have undoubtedly talked later about whether or not Dulce was lagging developmentally, never seeing the forest for the trees.  Thankfully, in an unintentional twist, we got to see both.

Every child deserves to see things and discover things in their own way on their own time. Some will never understand certain things, will never be able to move in certain ways, will never, will never, will never. But they will bring something into this world that no one else can. They will bring their new eyes, their new thoughts, to an old situation. We don't have to be the same to be perfect. We just have to be.


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Monday, March 28, 2011

I Need Some Space!

I've heard over and over again that the best way to get a well-behaved child in public is to remove her from any situation in which she is causing a ruckus.  Screaming at a restaurant.  Back to the car, possibly to drive back home.  Tossing and flopping on the beach, time to go back home, immediately.  I've never quite been able to pull this off because usually when one twin is melting down, the other is completely fine.  To take both twins outside of the area for a calm down period only serves to enrage the happy twin.  To leave the happy twin in the area (when that's possible, when my husband is around) calms neither twin down. The happy twin becomes distressed as her sister disappears.  The unhappy twins whips herself into a frenzy as she's separated from her sister.  I simply usually do not have the manpower to pull this discipline method off.

Being at the beach this weekend with four adults to my two toddlers was eye-opening.  With so many extra eyes, I was able to control the multiple toddler situations that arose as my kids got too hungry and overtired at different times. 

I was actually able to take Natalina up the beach to a benched area and sit with her until she decided to calm down and return on her own time.  Magical.

Shortly after that, she got herself worked up again.  I was able to watch her closely as she stormed off, following her from a distance. We made quite a sight for the other beach goers.  A little pink thing, stamping off, all on her own, with a mommy following conspicuously behind. Natalina needs to feel in control to calm down. She wants time to herself. She doesn't want to be smothered, or even followed. But she does want to be followed, actually.  It's a delicate little game, sometimes.

She would stomp away a few steps, then turn back to see if I was in view. Then stomp some more. Then turn. At one point, I thought she was ready to talk about it and resume our beach day, but I was wrong.

"Look who I found!" I exclaimed happily, as I went to scoop my little prize up. Off she went again, stomping and storming.

Eventually, she sat down quite a ways from our blanket. I was able to interest her in a bit of seaweed and convinced her to bring it back to our blanket to show pop pop. The people who had seen our odd walk away from the blanket, witnessed us now, hand in hand, making our way back.  I got a lot of knowing smiles from parents and grandparents, and a lot of confused looks from the so far childless.



Friends again!
Sometimes kids need individual attention.  Sometimes they need to be left alone. Sometimes, that's the same thing.  I hope as my twins continue to grow, I will be able to fill that need better.

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Sunday, March 27, 2011

Moment of the Week - 32

We are at the beach with Nana this week!






Happy weekend!

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Saturday, March 26, 2011

Toddler Tricks - 32

I may have done this one already, but I can't remember and internet time is limited here, so here is one we used yesterday.

Ways to Trick your Baby:

Problem: You have to go on a really long car ride, say anything over an hour with the your babies in tow.  You know they won't be satisfied from beginning to end, and you know they probably won't sleep.

Solution: Leave a bit before naptime if you can manage it.  Smuggle their loveys into the car so that they don't see them.  When the kids start getting antsy and cranky, pull out the loveys like they are some great gift for the babies.  Most likely, they'll be thrilled, and getting sleepy.  Ours usually snuggle up and eventually fall asleep with their greatest gift, the lovey that somehow got into the car.


Ways your Baby Tricks You:

Problem: Once you get to your location, you're all having a lot of fun and the babies don't want to leave.

Solution: Tell them you have to go and check on their loveys that you've left "guarding the car." Usually the pull of the lovey will be strong enough to at least interest them a bit.  Once at the car, they'll have the lovey to dry their tears if they are truly going to be upset about it.  Usually, we find that they are tired enough to accept the lovey and the car in place of the fun times they were having.

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Friday, March 25, 2011

Is There a Doctor in the House?

We have a lovey that needs some medical attention!

Now, the simple solution would be for me to sew the bear back together.  I have a mini-sewing kit. I'm a 28-year-old woman.  I even sewed my own pillow by hand in home economics 15 years ago...and I got a C-! Surely I could repair this.

No. I could not.  I am traumatized from my experiences.  I just don't sew. Ever.  Okay, maybe a button here and there. But something as delicate and sensitive as Bear's neck? I wouldn't dare try. If I do this wrong, I'm in for weeks of crying, toddler-puddley misery.  I will not do it.

Fortunately, we're going to visit my mother this weekend. My mother who sewed her own wedding dress.  My mother will sew Bear. It's a perfect solution. That's what mothers are for after all, right?  Wait, what?  Okay, okay, so I'll work on my mothering skills.

But of course, nothing is that simple when you have twins.  You see, Bean is also in tatters, and since I told Natalina Nana would be fixing her bear (Nana, by the way, doesn't know about this yet.  I'm betting I'm not even going to ahve to ask her.  If I know her, she'll take one look at Bear and get out a sewing kit herself.) Dulce now expects that Nana will be fixing her blanket.  But Bean is beyond repair, even for the most talented seamstress.

The white blob you see on her lap is called "Purple Bean." Dulce doesn't know it, but Purple Bean is in training for Bean's position. We hope to make the transition sometime in the near future. It will not be smooth. But there is nothing else to be done. Bean is so threadbare and full of so many holes, it cannot be patched or fixed.  The best case scenario would be if we can figure a way to attach it to Purple Bean.

These loveys, boy, they've had a rough life.  I still have my blanket from when I was a kid.  It's in much better shape than these two.

Still, life without them is unimaginable. So we go to Nana's this afternoon, with the hope that she can breathe new life into our loveys.

I, of course, will be sucking it up and learning how to sew, at least in a rudimentary way.  I could do it now, but the knot would be all loopy and gross, and the stitched would be too big and uneven.  Natalina would totally know.

Thank goodness for mothers.



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Thursday, March 24, 2011

Ditch the Kids' Menu

When the babies first started eating real food, we were so excited about the kids' menus at restaurants.  Look at all these shiny options! And they come with a snack and drink? And they're only $4 to $7?  Sign us up!  We'll take the chicken nuggets, no, the hotdogs, no, wait, we'll take the macaroni and cheese.

Our glee slowly faded, though, when we realized that the $7-dollar meal would never be eaten. We would be lucky to get even one no-thank-you bite out of them before the kids either refused to eat altogether or started nomming down on the adult meals, instead.

What a waste of money. And not only that, even if the twins wanted that food and scarfed it down, there's no reason for it. I don't make them special meals at home, why should they get used to fried, fatty, nutritionless food when we're out?

It seems like a lot of effort to chop up a portion of an adult meal for a child, but, really, it's no more effort than chopping up a kids' meal for a child. I've found it's easier to take a bite and give a bite from my own plate than it is to eat myself while continually checking up on the babies to see that they've even taken one half of a bite from their plate.  They like to eat themselves, so I'll usually stack a few bites from my plate onto theirs and let them go at that while I get a few tastes of my own food.

Plus, this way I can be sure they get enough protein, carbs and vegetables.  No matter which way you slice it, chicken nuggets, mac and cheese and a pre-prepared fruit cup is not as good for them as half of whatever I've ordered.  At least that was cooked to order from fresh ingredients, not thrown from the freezer into the deep fryer.

We still ask for a kids' menu at every restaurant we frequent, though. The paper and crayons are worth it!

When it comes to actually ordering, however, we've found that ordering just two adult meals and asking for two little plates is the way to go.  That and two extra chocolate milks, of course.

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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Do Kids Affect Kids?

I felt like an historical southern lady yesterday. We had visitors in the morning, then a nap, then visitors in the afternoon.  I didn't serve any tea though.

The twins and I ran into one of our neighbors around 10:30 a.m. She has a little girl just two months older than the twins, who wanted to come and play.  Only, she didn't.  She played with the babies' toys, but she didn't play with the babies.  I chalk this up to kids being still too young to really interact positively with each other.  My kids play with each other constantly, giving me the false sense that they are socialized. But, in reality, it takes them some time to warm up to strange children.  Still, with guidance from me, they were open to sharing with their new friend and tried to engage her here and there.

Still, it was two against one.  I completely understand the little girl's shyness.  Her mother and I talked quietly about our lives. The girl usually goes to daycare, but the mom was off that day and kept her home.  The babies were sitting on my lap at that point, watching the girl play with their puzzles over the arm of the chair.  They were fascinated because she was actually trying to put the puzzles back together - something they haven't yet thought about.

All of a sudden, the girl looked up at my kids and said loudly, "Get out of my face!"

Shocked silence.

I felt bad for the mom, who scrambled to have her daughter apologize (which she didn't).  It's hard for me to gauge what's appropriate and what's not appropriate, since the twins hardly ever have playdates (something I'm trying to remedy).  The mom was so embarrassed, but she shouldn't have been.  Little kids are little kids. They pick up sayings in random places, and they're still trying to place where they can say certain things and express certain emotions.  It was more than clear that the girl was good natured, she was just shy and protective of the toys she was playing with.

That being said, I hope I don't hear "get out of my face!" from either of the twins in the near future.  Do kids pick up behaviors and language from other kids?  I know the answer is yes, but do they do it after only one time?

It's hard to walk into a home with ready-made playmates and feel comfortable.  My twins have unspoken rules to games they made up a year ago. When another child doesn't understand the rules or how to take turns in a way the twins deem acceptable, they get upset.  For instance, while Natalina knows that the orange ball is Dulce's, and Dulce knows that the yellow ball is Natalina's, a stranger isn't going to know that or understand why she can't touch the orange or yellow ball but touching the purple ball is fine.

All in all, I think it was a really good experience, and I hope to do it again.  For those of you that manage playdates on the regular, how do you socialize the kids effectively?  I find the twins do much better with my friend's child, a boy a few months younger than them.  He came over in the afternoon, and they all colored and played with blocks as a happy three-baby unit.  They also got some good tickling!



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Tuesday, March 22, 2011

What's in a Name?

Naming your child can be a nerve-wracking experience.  You love the name Aidan or Madison, but it seems like everyone is naming their child that these days. Are you just a sheep-like follower, in line with the herd?  You really want to name your child Jezika, but you're afraid people will laugh or judge you.  But you don't want to name her Jessica.  You'd rather Jezika.  What do you do?  You love the name Helen or Ezra but you're told they're too old-fashioned for today's children. Back to the drawing board.

Or not.

Yes, your child's name is an important decision, and one that you have to make for him or her. It will follow the child for the rest of his or her life, and of course you don't want your children to feel ostracized or odd or boring because of it. But in my experience, it's not kids that think of those kinds of things. It's adults. Kids tend to take things at face value, so that when they're told their friend's names are Brayden, Jewel and Dorothy, that's it. Simply a way to address their friends. 

The top ten names for 2010 for boys are: Aiden, Liam, Noah, Jackson, Ethan, Cayden, Mason, Logan, Landon and Oliver.

The top ten names for 2010 for girls are: Sophia, Charlotte, Ava, Addison, Olivia, Amelia, Lily, Isabella, Chloe and Bailey.

All this means is that adults like those names. Nothing more, nothing less.  You could choose from that list, or choose from the top 500 list, or choose a name that's not on any list.  A name does not define a person, it only gives them a way in which to be addressed.

Dulce Fatima and Natalina Marie were named after their grandparents on either side.  My husband and I come from Portuguese and Italian families.  Are the names different?  Yes. Do we love them? Yes.  Do the babies love them? So far, yes. They don't know a name from a name from a name. They just know that the one they have is theirs and that's enough.

As parents, sometimes we overthink the implications of a name, too worried about what society will think, forgetting that society to us is often just our friends and acquaintances.  In any case, children usually come up with nicknames for themselves so that even if you feel you've failed your child in the name department not all will be lost.  Try to keep in mind if you're making that all-important decision right now, or if you've made it and regret it, that it's really not an all-important decision in the scheme of things after all.  At best, the name you've chosen will be one both you and your child love.  At worst, it will be a minor hiccup to work around.

A rose by any other name would still smell as sweet.

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Monday, March 21, 2011

Safety Isn't Always about Convenience

It's a beautiful spring day. You're on your way to the grocery store with your babies in tow. You go to take that well-worn left turn and someone blows through the traffic light. Will your kids survive?

It's a snowy night in late December. You've managed to wrangle your young children into the car to head home from a family holiday dinner. Before you make it off the highway, someone fishtails and skids toward you, unable to stop. Will your family make it out alive?

You're running late on a school day. You toss the kids in the back and gun it for daycare, trying to get to work on time. As you come up over a hill, unexpected sunlight blasts into your line of vision, obscurring the road. You try to slow down, but you've gone to the wrong side of the road in your sunglare blindness. Are your babies safe?

Regulations are put in place for a reason. In the case of carseat rules, the reason is safety. The reason is life.  As I see more and more people up in arms about the new AAP carseat regulations, I wonder if they've forgotten that.

Once you are a parent, you know that in all walks of life, conveniences will be thrown out the window. No more jumping in the shower as soon as you wake up. The kids need you.  No more enjoying a leisurely cup of (hot) coffee before you start your day. The kids need you.  No more sleeping a glorious eight or nine hours at night. Your babies, they need you.  No more hopping in the car at a moment's notice to pick something up or run a quick errand.  It's just one of those things that comes with the territory.

And since we all have to put our children in their protective and useful carseats anyway, what's the big deal about not facing them frontward for another few months? It's safer for your kids. Full stop.  I, for one, fully support these new guidelines.  What could possibly be the reason not to do it? 

The only reasons I've been hearing have to do with convenience.  "My kid wants to look out the window. I'm sick of having to stretch and bend, trying to secure them in backward.  I can't reach them easily when I'm driving.  I want to see their cute little faces. Stop telling me how to parent."

Are any of these complaints valid in the face of an actual car accident?  If facing your children to the rear of the vehicle will spare them from whiplash, injury, or death, isn't it worth it?  No one is telling anyone else how to effectively parent in this situation. They are telling others how to effectively save the lives of their loved ones, to the best of their ability.  How can anyone frown upon that?

While we're at it, let's add in the other safety rules that are inconvenient. Do you take your child's coat off in the car in winter so that the straps are tight and fitted as they are supposed to be?  Do you make sure the five-point harness system connects high on the baby's chest?  Do you straighten and untangle the straps before tying the baby in?  Do you make sure there is no looseness or give in those straps?  Have you checked to make sure the device itself is properly attached to the car?

Car seats and car seat rules aren't there to annoy parents. They're there because babies have died. They're there to prevent your baby from dying.

But, really, whine and cry about it on every social networking site available to you. That's your right. As long as you're following the guidelines, even if you complain about it, at least your children will be safe. And that's what truly matters.

For more information: http://www.cnn.com/2011/HEALTH/03/21/car.seat.guidelines.parenting/


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Sunday, March 20, 2011

Moment of the Week - 31

My children are still learning the subtleties of baseball.

video
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Saturday, March 19, 2011

Toddler Tricks - 31

Ways to Trick your Baby:

Problem: Your children won't go to bed. You've got a nice bed time routine going: they do the whole schpiel every night, but when it comes to actually walking into that bedroom, they refuse.  You don't want a major upset before bed, so you must trick them into going of their own voilition.

Solution: Mix up the very last part of the routine so that you have several games in place, all of which lead to the bedroom.  My husband and I have had luck with "horsie," where we get down on all fours and offer rides to the bedroom, caravan-style.  We'll sometimes dance into the bedroom, either swinging the babies in our arms, or inducing them to follow us in our joyous pied-piper celebrations. Sometimes we will have them put a stuffed animal or toy to bed as a continuation of a game we were previously playing with those toys, or we'll "steal their noses" and hide them in the bedroom.  Any of these work on any given night, provided it's not the same game we played the night before.


Ways your Baby Tricks You:

Problem: You're all in the bedroom.  Now your children won't get into bed.

Solution: We have a separate set of games for this purpose.  Sometimes we'll do a dance party where the babies will spin around until we lift them up and gently toss them into their beds in a fit of giggles. That's not been working lately.  Their favorite get-into-bed game as of late has been when I climb into one of their beds, and their father climbs into the other. We pull the covers over us, and reverse roles, asking the babies to give us a kiss goodnight and tuck us in. Then at the last second, we tell them that we don't fit very well in the small beds, and we're going to go into the big bed for mommies and daddies. The babies usually take our place in their beds without protest. Then, before they can change their minds, we commence to kissing them silly and turn out the lights and say goodnight.


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Friday, March 18, 2011

Kids' Fashion: Deep as Any Paper Plate

I love fashion.  I follow several fashion blogs and shake my head at the unique and cutting-edge styles on the runway and in the celebrity world.  In fact, my high school prophecy was that I would grow up to be a fashion designer.  To which I laugh out loud since I don't have much fashion sense of my own.  But my lack of vision when it comes to putting outfits together is not why my kids consistently look ridiculous.  My kids consistently look ridiculous because they're kids.

When I first became a stay at home mom, I thought, yes! Now I will dress my babies in the cute wear that is available to them!  I thought that until the first $100 spent at Target and Baby Gap.  So reason number one my children look ridiculous?  Money.  I have two 2-year-old girls to dress every day, and they go through about three outfits a day. We would have to be pulling in a lot more money in order for me to have at my disposal six cute, stylish, matching, magazine-worthy outfits a day.  Instead, I get things as I can on sale.  We rely a lot of gifts from family members, who aren't particularly fashionable themselves (my mom has gifted us several sturdy and well-made outfits...flowered shirts with striped pants in purple and green, for instance).  My cousins and aunts have been kind enough to give us their hand-me-downs.  But most of their children grew up several years ago, back when rompers and cartoon characters were in style.  Perfectly good clothing with a lot of wear left in them. My children, being two, don't really mind.


Jackets: A gift from my mother.  Possible the babies' favorite articles of clothing.  I don't get it either.

The second reason my kids look ridiculous is that they grow.  They grow like they're little weeds.  Just three months ago, they fit easily into a 2T, and they could still squeeze into 24m wear.  I bought them new 3T nighties the other day.  They were too small.  I feel like jazzy, adorable outfits would be wasted on the two times the twins get to wear them before they are too small, and I have to give them away.

Vest: Gift from their uncle. Too small in this picture. She's wearing it because she asked for it.
The third reason I don't bother dressing my children like child-stars is that they are messy.  They don't wear three outfits a day because I love to change them.  I can't justify $25 baby jeans that are just going to sit in a pile on the living room floor as the babies run around pantless all morning.  I can't bring myself to buy a $40 or even a $20 white sweater that the kids will inevitably spill grape juice on...the first time they wear it.

Infamous Pooh romper: Hand-me-down from her aunt. One of her favorite outfits.
The biggest reason my babies look silly almost all the time is that I let them help me pick out their clothes.  They are old enough now to know what they would like to wear, even if they're far from knowing whether or not it matches.  I love watching them pick out a particular article of clothing and then get excited to wear it.  Even if it's this one:

Gift from my mother in law. It was a favorite from when it was this big on her until it finally got too small.
All that being said, being a fashion lover, myself, I truly appreciate a well-dressed toddler.  I just don't have any.

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Thursday, March 17, 2011

Take a Hike

For the first six months we lived here, we were a one-car family, meaning that if I had to go grocery shopping or do errands, we'd all get up early, pile in the car, drop my husband off at work, and go about our business.  Then we'd go pick him up in the evening.  It was inconvenient, so whenever I could, I avoided it.  We did a lot of walking.

Thankfully, living in Florida, I was able to take them out far into the "colder" months.  Of course, I soon learned that "passing showers" in this state actually meant torrential downpours in which drops the size of buckets will come at you in every direction.  Sometimes, we ended up looking like this:

But it was worth it. It got my kids and I out for long periods of time, allowing them to take in the world around them and notice things they wouldn't have been able to grasp while flying by in a car.  I lost weight (pushing 50 pounds in front of you for two miles a day can do wonders). I had time to myself and time with my kids all in one, as there would be periods of silence when we were all lost in our thoughts, and periods of chatter as I described and explained to them the objects they were seeing on either side.

When we finally got a second car, my life became so much easier.  Suddenly errands that had taken me hours now took mere minutes.  I could strap them in, drive off, and be at the bank in three minutes.  I could be at the library in five. I could get there without tiring myself or becoming overheated.

It was glorious.

But, I miss those days of the stroller and the mission. I wouldn't give up the convenience of the car, but I've realized, just because I have a car, doesn't mean I always have to use it.  It's gorgeous outside today. There is no reason for us to go from sitting inside the house to sititng inside a car.  I think we'll walk to the bank today.  It's not time wasted. We'll be out in the open air, seeing squirrels and trees and ants as we pass. The babies, if I know them, will have a lot to say about each.

The point of this is to remember that sometimes convenience doesn't outweigh experience.  Every once in a while, we all should take a hike, if just to recenter and remember ourselves.

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Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Fork in the Road

I wistfully look at the life of single and childless people all of the time, as you well know by now. The grass, as they say, is always greener.  It's not just on television, through commercials like the one I described yesterday.  More pointed, in fact, is the glimpse I get into my friends' lives through Facebook and the like. So many of my childless friends seem to be having a ball, every single day.  I love living vicariously through them. But I know, for sure, that's as far as I want to go.  I'm happy here, for now, in my living room, watching my babies.  There is nothing in a foreign country, or across the states, or in that bar down the street that could possibly mean anything to me at this particular point in my life.  Even if I did get out and live fancy free for a night or two, it wouldn't be fancy or free.  It would be a night spent missing my children and worrying about them.

I'm a total stick in the mud.

To be honest, it's a wonder I have any friends left.  I simply cannot spend time with them.  We've moved away, and when one of them comes into my remote area, they expect to see me.  And usually it's not possible.  Whereas before, I would have dropped everything and found a way.

The babies are two and a half.  Are they old enough to be left with someone else for a few days?  Probably.  But I'm not going to do it.  Even if I were to leave them with my husband, I would miss them so much.  And they don't like it when I leave.  Being a stay at home parent, I've accidentally conditioned them to be completely used to my presence at all times.

And my friends have waited patiently for me.  They asked when the babies were one, they asked when the babies were 18 months, they're asking again now at 2.5 years.  And these friends have made sacrifices for me.  They've driven the hours to see me, they've hung out with me and my family.  They want to see me. And if they're traveling five hours from my home, they want me to come the rest of the way.  It really shouldn't be too much to ask.

But these days, without my family, I'm no fun. My mind would still be with them.  I know this won't always be the case.  I know my babies will continue to grow older, and I will get some semblence of my old life back.  I really hope my friends stick with me and give me another chance when that time comes.

Because right now, even though I say I want the freedom I used to have, I don't even want it for one night.  Right now, I can't think of anything better than reading Green Eggs and Ham on repeat to two curly sleepy heads.


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Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Want to Go to Paris? Don't Have a Kid.

Commericials are so ridiculous in general that the one I saw last night hardly even bears mention, but it stuck with me, not only for it's blatant exclusionary tactics (which, in a commercial, where your audience is women, and a large percentage of that audience, would, by nature of things, have children, can't be a particularly clever thing to do), but also for its sheer length.

So, after my babies were tucked away in their beds, most definitely not sleeping, laughter and shouts erupting from the room every few minutes, and every few minutes more, a plaintive plea: "Mommy?  Moooooommmmmmy!" I settled down to watch a bit of television (After Lately, actually.  You should watch it.)

After five minutes of the show, the commercial break pops up, and I go to resettle the kids. I plop myself back down on the sofa to see images of happy young women -- every once in a while, a happy young couple -- flitting back and forth on the screen, wearing fashionable things, and being presented with "life choices."

A stork comes by with a purple satchel.  The beautiful woman laughs at him and shakes her head. She moves on to a picture of the Eiffel Tower and instead picks out the note "Trip to Paris."  Another woman, this one in stylish glasses and skinny jeans, looks at house after house after house, the implication being that she can afford it because she doesn't have a child.  Which is why we should all buy this particular brand of birth control.

The commercial goes on and on; it's never-ending.  It says, look at this scenario that's better without kids. Look at that one; you can't do that one with kids.  See all of these smiling faces? It's because they don't have kids.  Know why they don't have kids? Because they buy and use our birth control.

Oh. Okay.

Except that having a kid doesn't mean you'll never get to Paris.  If you try to do it with toddlers, you're a braver woman than I, but last time I checked (I hope!) that phase lasts for just a few years.  Having a kid doesn't prevent you from buying a home you would like.  In fact, it may push you in that direction, who knows?

But, I get their point. I understand what they were going for, and it's not a notion that's completely without merit. Without kids, there is a lot that you can do, it's true.

What really gets me is the length of time they spent on this one concept.  The commercial ran at least a minute. That's a really long time in TV. And I got the point after 15 seconds. 30 seconds was pushing it.  It was only after the full minute that my annoyance and my resolution to never switch to their product set in.

Birth control is used by so many people for so many different reasons.  Why not include the woman with totally intense cramps (in a picture, of course...going with the commercial, she'd be smiling and lovely, over-the-moon about her choice of BC), or the woman has a family already and is satisfied with where she is in life? By using just ten seconds to show those two situations, that brand of birth control widens their audience probably three-fold. As it stands, they alienate at least half and maybe more of the birth-control users out there.  Foolish marketing, in my opinion.

Of course, I'm probably over-reacting and here's why.  Right after that commercial, a spot came on for Enfamil Formula, showing a harried mother in an oversized shirt feeding her baby a bottle.

Oh, television, what's with the one-two punch?  "If you didn't use that birth control we were just talking about, and you look like this woman instead of those other women, here's a product for you."

Well, E, thank you for not leaving mothers behind in your advertising.


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Monday, March 14, 2011

Helping Japan




In the coming days, weeks and months, Japan is going to need our help. The 8.9 earthquake and following tsunami and aftershocks ravaged the area killing tens of thousands. Men, women and children, are lost, homeless, hurt, and scared.  Meanwhile, workers continue to contain the nuclear power plants in the area.

Please, take a moment today and think of Japan and its people. Send them your thoughts and prayers. Please help them in any way you can.

Here are a few resources to help.

Reuters: "Japan scrambled to avert a meltdown at a stricken nuclear plant on Monday after a hydrogen explosion at one reactor and exposure of fuel rods at another, just days after a devastating earthquake and tsunami that killed at least 10,000 people."

"Japan has provided 230,000 units of stable iodine to evacuation centres as a precautioary measure in the country's nuclear emergency, the U.N. atomic watchdog said on Monday."

AP: "A tide of bodies washed up along Japan's coastline, crematoriums were overwhelmed and rescue workers ran out of body bags as the nation faced the grim reality of a mounting humanitarian, economic and nuclear crisis Monday after a calamitous tsunami."

AFP: "Beleaguered Tokyo Electric Power on Monday said it had begun a power outage in an area covering some parts of Tokyo and eight prefectures, affecting around 333,000 households."

New York Times: "An explosion was reported at a second nuclear reactor, as it became clear that radioactive releases of steam from the two crippled plants could go on for weeks or even months."

News Updates:

NYT Japan News.

AP Japan News.

Reuters Japan News.


Services and Help:

Google Person Finder.

AT&T offers free calling to Japan.

Donate to the Red Cross.

Donate to MercyCorps.



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Sunday, March 13, 2011

Moment of the Week - 30

Someone needed her heart checked...with a toy computer mouse.  (I'm not sure what setting my camera is on and I don't know how to change it back, so...interesting videos from here on out.)

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Saturday, March 12, 2011

Toddler Tricks - 30

Ways to Trick your Baby:

Problem: Your kid is having a meltdown. It may have started out as a minor disagreement over some toy or distress that he can't find something he is looking for, but given a few minutes, it's grown to a fullblown tantrum.

Solution: Use a time out, but depending on age, don't think of it as a punishment.  I just realized this the other day, but here, when we use time outs, it's purely a calming down period. After a certain point, all logic is lost on my two year olds. They wouldn't be able to understand punishment in their state of distress.  Some of my friends are able to do times outs and have their children come out saying 'I'm sorry,' and putting on their happy faces.  We're not there yet. So, I put them in a safe spot to calm down, and as soon as they've made it over the freak-out hump, I start talking to them and explaining the situation, and what they need to do when it happens again.  If I waited for apologies and happy faces, we'd never do another thing that day.  If I allow them to continue on with their day without a sitdown period where I'm with them, they would quickly spiral back to the same argument they were having...with the same result...in an endless loop.


Ways Your Baby Tricks You:

Problem: It takes more than a few minutes for your child to calm down, and you can't leave them in their timeout spot crying all day.

Solution: I mentioned before that we do all of our hugging on the green couch, but that's not entirely true.  The twins take time outs in their room.  If they are not calming within a minute or two, I will go in there and allow them to get out their feelings until they feel like a hug.  Then we hug on their bed for a few minutes before I start explaining the situation and how they must act in the future.  It helps them to know that it is the behavior that is being frowned upon, not them.  And these days, the babies will even ask for a hug on the bed if they are particularly upset.  They associate the green couch with regular frustration, and bed hugs with what they consider extreme distress at certain events.

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Friday, March 11, 2011

Ask a Question

Toddlers love to talk, for the most part. They're always playing, and as their imaginations grow, they repeat scenarios over and over, much like an adult worrying, only their having fun. Another difference is that they do it out loud.

I have found that these times are perfect opportunities to teach them some building blocks they'll need later. They think of it as a game, and an added bonus? It stops me from having to sing Dora songs to them in a public store.

When they were younger, we did colors. What color are these carrots? How about the beans? What color is your shirt? How about Dulce's shirt? What about mama's shirt?

By doing this, you're not only teaching them colors, but possessives and nouns. They begin to understand that when a shirt is on mommy, it's mommy's shirt, whereas a shirt on Natalina is Natalina's shirt. As you continue to use me, mine, you, yours, they begin to understand that when a shirt is on mommy, it's mommy's shirt, and when they're talking to mommy, they refer to it as your shirt. They begin to understand that when a shirt is on Natalina, it's Natalina's shirt, or (in Natalina's case) my shirt.

These are huge concepts that are hard to swallow all at once and that lay the groundwork for communication.

Now that the babies are older, we "read" letters when we see them, or count, or I'll ask them what sound a letter makes and they'll make the correct (or incorrect) sound associated with the letter.

It's a calm game that requires little effort on the part of the adult, but teaches children in a way that seems fun.

I do it because I like to see them grow in their communication skills, but I'd be remiss if I didn't also mention that I do it to keep my sanity, when I'm tired of repeating the same songs or baby games over and over and over and over and over and over and ... you get the point.

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Thursday, March 10, 2011

Kids and God

I am what you would call a lapsed Catholic. My family went to church every Sunday. We sometimes prayed before meals. I was baptized, received communion, and became confirmed. We all went to CCD every week for years. I was part of the youth group, part of the choir. I knew the priests, deacons and ushers by name.

At age 18, I went to a Catholic College on basically a full-ride scholarship. Through no fault of the school, or the church, or anything that people would normally blame for such a thing, I woke up one morning and God was gone. I looked at the chapel on campus, and I just didn't feel him there anymore.

My security blanket had disappeared, and it wasn't coming back. I left the school and paid to go to a state university instead.

As my children grow, I find myself pondering what I am going to do with them in terms of religion. Both my husband and I come from Catholic families. The babies are baptized, more to keep the peace than anything, although, I figure if there's any truth to the baptized being saved, better to have it done than not. I'd like to save my kids in any way that I can. I'm not trying to be lighthearted about this, it's just that I truly don't know, and since that may possibly be a way to save them from Hell if there is such a place, there's no reason not to do it. Other than, of course, we're not following through on our promises to the church, as of right now.

But should we have to pay a price to a human church to gain the favor of God?

Don't get me wrong, I think the church does a lot of good. I also know (I worked for them recently) that they are a human organization with facets that are completely wrapped up in human desires, like money and status.

I want my children to be good people. I want them to follow the ten commandments, not because they were handed down by God to Moses, but because they're a good set of moral rules in my opinion.

I want my children to be able to make informed choices about their beliefs and ideas. I want them to have ideas. I know that being religious does not prevent that, especially as an adult, and I know that religious adults who fully understand their belief and the role it plays in their lives are capable of showing their children how to use that religion to further their own growth.

That's not me, though. I don't understand where I stand, so how can I properly inform my kids there? I wouldn't have the answers to their questions. Many of my answers would be: because the man in the white robe says so. That's a disservice to both the church and my children.

On the other hand, I'm disillusioned with the church I grew up in, while at the same time still fiercely loyal to it, so that I couldn't imagine changing religions, finding new things to like and dislike about a new belief system. I'm halfway through the journey in Catholicism, should I choose to go back. I don't think I have the stamina to start from the beginning in some new faith. I don't think I could bear the new disappointments sure to meet me when I find those religions also fail in many human ways.

So, where does that leave my kids? How can I prepare them for this complex other-worldly part of life that I don't understand myself? Why is God a fear in my life as my kids develop and grow, and no longer the comfort He was in my own childhood? Do I really want them to wake up one morning as an adult and feel the marked pain of betrayal as the man in the sky vanishes before their eyes? Is it my right to project my experience onto them like that? Is it my right to push them into a religion or away from it? Where is the line?

Religion is a comfort to many people. On some level, it remains so for me. But mostly, it is a terrifying ordeal I'm going to have to straighten out in my own head before my children start asking questions.

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Wednesday, March 9, 2011

We're All Stopped Up

One of my daughters hasn't pooped in two days.

I've been trying to think of an interesting blog topic for everyone today, and I can't because over and over in my mind I hear myself worrying. I hear the same sentence.

One of my daughters hasn't pooped in two days.

First, this can't be good for her little intestines. She's acting normal and happy, running around, playing, and yet, she must be full up.

I haven't changed her diet at all. I have no idea how this could have happened. Did she hold it because she didn't want to interrupt playing for potty time? Has her body chemistry changed so that her normal diet is insufficient in some way?

Before the stoppage, she was clearly having trouble for a few days but still going.

The doctor told me to give her Miralax. Great idea in theory. Have you ever tried to get a toddler to drink a chalky disgusting mix, though? We've not been incredibly successful with it over here.

The implications of this are dire. I assume I'll eventually fix the problem, so right now I'm not worried about her long-term health. I know a lot of toddlers go through this. My mother consolingly told me that I went through it as a toddler, too. Only, that wasn't consoling at all. This could set us back months in the almost completed potty training. This could put us back to square one only worse because she'll be fearful of pain while going.

My daughter has not pooped in two days.

If you need me, I'll be at the grocery store, stocking up on prunes.

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Tuesday, March 8, 2011

International Women's Day

It is the 100th anniversary of the first International Women's Day, today, and I am left without words.  So many women have shaped me and influenced my life, and I am grateful for every one of them.  Here is a tribute to the closest of the bunch.

My mother. She is a Vice President at a local hospital, mother of three.  She has taught me how to succeed through hard work and perseverance. She is an amazing woman with a big heart and a tenacity unmatched by any other I've ever met.


My sister. She is completing her Ph.D in Biomedical Engineering. She has taught me how to laugh at myself and how to keep sight of the truly important things in my life when other details seem to take priority.  (That's my brother next to her.)


My kids, Dulce and Natalina.  They are teaching me the meaning of my life, piece by piece, day by day.  They are making me a better person.



Dora.  Oh, wait, no.  Just kidding.



Happy International Women's Day. We all have a little piece to give to the world.

In cooperation with One Wee Voice.






 
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Monday, March 7, 2011

I Want More

You know how in high school, your foreign language teacher will teach want/like/have on the same day?  I have retained hardly any of my Spanish, but I clearly remember learning querer/gustar/tener. It felt like a big day in Spanish class.  I went from understand random vocabulary words that I couldn't really apply in conversation to having a basic understanding of rudimentary phrases in another language.  I felt like I could finally communicate. It was a huge breakthrough for our class.

Imagine my surprise this morning when my kids, instead of saying simply "more" said distinctly: "I want more."  And they didn't stop there. They continued with "I want milk." As soon as their father came downstairs, I gushed to him "The babies are speaking in sentences! They know I want!"

Without skipping a beat, the babies turned to my husband. "I like daddy," they said. Like and want all in the span of ten minutes.  Was I dreaming?

And this is just one of dozens of little language breakthroughs they've had in just the past few weeks.  They've got a firm grip on the command. "Go get it," and "help me," to name just two. They say please and thank you and here you go. It's amazing to watch this unfold.

I find myself continually thinking back to my 7th-grade days, where teachers tried their hardest to impress these same notions into our 12-year-old heads. They followed a very similar path to this natural learning I am observing in my kids.

Another thing that amazes me is how easily they accept the same word to have different meanings.  For instance, Pop Pop is their grandfather.  But pop pop is their toy vaccuum.  They completey accept this and never get confused.

The human mind is a hell of a thing.

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Sunday, March 6, 2011

Moment of the Week - 29

Zumba Twins!


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Saturday, March 5, 2011

Toddler Tricks - 29

Ways to Trick your Baby:

Problem: Your child's lovely is on its last legs. There's nothing you can do now but sit back and count the remaining days of peace in your house before the beloved kicks the bucket for good. A new one means nothing. Your child knows who her lovey is and she will accept no other into her heart.  Truly, there can be no replacement.

Solution:

Okay, so ignore the hotdog for a moment.  No one ever said I was mom of the year. The point of this picture are the blankets Dulce is holding.  Her original "Bean" is the pink one on top.  After a week of me asking her to also try the white one, she did.  Now when "Bean" finally kicks it, "Purple Bean" will have been with her for weeks, providing at least some comfort.  I didn't wait until the last minute to try to make a replacement. Introduce the strange weeks in advance so that it becomes familiar by the time you need it.



Ways Your Baby Can Trick You:

Problem: Now every time your child needs her lovey, she needs two things instead of one.  God forbid you not find both of them.

Solution: When not in active use, tie or attach the loveys together somehow.  Also, have a special lovey spot that your child knows about. If they get used to putting their loveys in one spot, they will always know where to find them, and they will assume that spot is where the loveys belong.  Think of it...no more tossing every toy out of the box to see if the lovey is at the bottom (which it never is.)


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Friday, March 4, 2011

Love is Delusion, Duh

My father has an old saying.  "Houses and spouses may come and go, but children will love you forever."  While this statement may be coming from a place of discreet cynicism on his part, its foundation - that the love between a parent and a child is limitless - attempts to explain the inexplicable. The bond between parent and child cannot be measured, scientifically or otherwise. There is no quantifiable value to love, so far as I know.

That foundation is something this article, purporting that having children is foolish and all parents are delusional, would do well to take into account.  I know it's edgy these days to look at only select pieces of an issue and dissect them one at a time, but it is misleading to then draw conclusions about the entire issue based on the selective research.

The author puts forward that parents overestimate the joys of parenthood to rationalize the waste of money children are.

First, children are only a waste of money on paper when you don't take into account their future as adults, but more importantly, since when can a stranger with charts and studies (a whopping 80-person study and 60-person study, I might add), assign value to someone else's treasure?  A supposedly worthless tin ring can can signify someone's entire life with another.  An old family heirloom could be worth pennies, but to the bequeathed? It's priceless.  It is not up to someone else to tell me how much my kids are worth to me.

John Cloud says, "researchers have known for some time that parents with minors who live at home report feeling calm significantly less often than than people who don't live with young children. Parents are also angrier and more depressed than nonparents — and each additional child makes them even angrier. Couples who choose not to have kids also have better, more satisfying marriages than couples who have kids.

None of this directly correlates to children as a monetary investment, the proponent on which his article is based, it is there to prove that parents are "are in the grip of a giant illusion," but it is incomplete and unconvincing.

It could be true that parents with minors at home often feel more stressed out than people without kids.  It could also be true (I'd have to see the research) that people are angrier and more depressed when they have kids.  Do couples without children have better marriages?  It's possible.  None of these things, however, prove that people should not have children or that they exagerrate the benefits of having them. Going through the supposed negatives does not disprove the positives.

Even if the arguments above are true, it is unfair to connect them to parenting in general, as if the child would be the only reason for them. The arguments simply fall short of proving that parents are clinging to an illusion.  No one can tell anyone else how much their possessions or creations mean to them personally.

Cloud goes onto to say, "Humans throw good money after bad all the time. When we have invested a lot in a choice that turns out to be bad, we're really inept at admitting that it didn't make rational sense."

That's an inflamatory statement if I've ever heard one.  It implies that children are not only worthless, but actually bad.  There is not much rational sense to having children, not because having children in the grand scheme of things doesn't make sense, but because the driving force behind birthing babies is above and beyond the human capacity to reason.  Just because you don't understand it doesn't make it worthless or bad.

"Does this mean you shouldn't have kids? Yes — but you won't," Cloud says. "Our national fantasy about the joys of parenting permeates the culture."
He then goes on to praise the economic value of a child back in the 18th and 19th centuries when they worked for their keep.  He referred to them as our staff.  Now, he says, they're our bosses.
We have a national fantasy about the joys of parenting because as a nation we've decided to cherish the future citizens we're bringing into the world?  No. Making a decision to protect any person, young or old, related or stranger, has nothing to do with the joys of parenting.  It has to do with caring for others and trying to make the world a better place.  I've yet to hear anyone say, "Oh, I need to become a parent right away. I hear it's a completely joyous activity that will better my life in all ways."

This is not to say that children don't better lives. My children are not my bosses, nor my employees, but they are my teachers, my muses and my life.  Try to put a monetary value to that. It's impossible.

The bottom line is, people don't have children to better their lives in a quantifiable way. If they did, then Cloud might have a point. No parent that I've seen is suggesting that their children have made their lives monetarily easier, or that they had kids to lessen the stress in their lives.

We're not heroes or suckers.  We're parents.  You cannot tell someone what their love is worth. It cannot be feasibly measured.

I will concede the author's main point though.  My kids can, indeed, drive me crazy.

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