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Sunday, October 31, 2010

Moment of the Week - 11

My babies know who to call.  Do you?  Singing and dancing to Ghostbuster Theme.  Why?  Because they're awesome.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Toddler Tricks - 11

Ways to Trick your Baby:

Problem:  Once your baby sees her Halloween costume, she's not going to want to wear anything else.  Ever.  You don't want her to eat or sleep in it; you don't want parts lost or stained.  But it will be very difficult to save the costume for Halloween, itself.  Especially if your child goes to daycare or preschool.  They probably have already worn it at some party or parade.

Solution:  Tell your baby you need to wash the costume, and you'll give it right back to them.  This works especially well if they are about to take a bath or a nap.  I find if I can calmly explain to my kids that something needs to be washed, they give it up in trust that they'll get it back.

Ways your Baby Tricks You:

Problem:  Your baby is not going to magically cease to desire to wear her costume after the holiday has come and gone.  In my case, I sense, we will spend a lot of time playing bee and ladybug.

Solution:  Make this a game and give it a name.  This way, you can promise it, do it, and put it away when you're done.  There is no reason your babies can't play dress up with their Halloween costumes for months to come.  If you call it the Dress Up Game, or something similar, they won't be living in their costumes, and you've added another game to the pile to quell boredom on rainy days.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Foreigners from the Womb

Babies learn language in a way I never remember learning anything.  Having nothing to go on, it's clear they understand words and phrases before they can make their tongues say those words and phrases.  And when they do start speaking, it's in approximations.  Their brains take what they think they heard and make it a word.  And that word sticks.

Much of my toddlers' unique pronounciation comes from skipping letters or syllables.  Step becomes sep.  Foot becomes foo.  Dora becomes Doe-a.  Video is vidi.  Pineapple is apo. Banana is nana. 

They'll often replace a letter with another letter that's easier for them to pronounce.  Moon becomes moom.  Stop is shop.  Stuck is shuck.  Down is dowm.  Finger is finging.  Milk is mook. Spoon is a combination.  It becomes poom.

Sometimes, they completely replace a word with another non-sensical word without a second thought.  In this way, Blankie has become Bean.  Cookie is Googooleegoo.  Orange juice is O-june.  I find that the earlier they come up for a word for something, the longer it sticks.  For instance, my twins still won't say thank you because thank you was one of their first phrases.  Only it came out like "Da daaa."  So now they get confused because it doesn't sound the way they remember it sounding.

Sometimes the word they use to replace the correct word makes sense in its own way.  So that buttons become dots.  Dogs become oof-oofs.  Shovels are spoons (or pooms, more like).  The moon for a long time was a ball.  Sometimes the sun is the moon, especially in books.

Many words they use sound like the same word, differentiable only to me.  Hat and hot, for instance.  Radio and video.  Draw and drawer.  Cheese and please.

I know you're not supposed to mimic their baby speak back to them, but sometimes, I find I just can't help it.  If they want mook, I ask them if they want mook.  When they say "HO-kay!  AWW-wight!"  I giggle with glee.

The baby dictionary is varied and interestingly assembled - a collection of parts that really do make sense as a whole if you let yourself think about it.  I truly feel like I am privvy to something incredibly special.  I get to see the mind learn as it would with no structure applied.  I get to see that mind take off all on its own.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Hanging On

As I was making breakfast this morning, I heard my babies take direction from Dora and repeat after her in clear English, "Bridge.  Tree.  Tall Mountain." 

My heart twinged a little bit.  Nothing documents the extremely fast passage of time like a baby growing up.  It's bittersweet for me.  Their baby babble is disappearing.  Soon, they'll be able to express themselves clearly at all times.  The made-up phrases that only I can understand will vanish, replaced by the correct words for those desires.

They're putting words together now, in simple sentences - a rudimentary English, with no verbs.  They understand possession - me, mine, yours, Dulce's, baby's, mama's.  They delight in differentiating.

Last night, when my husband came home from work, they spent ten minutes telling us whose belt was whose.

"Dada belt!" they shouted, pointing at his belt.  Then they raced over to me.  "Mama belt!"  Over and over again.

Each developmental step is as cute as the last, but I cannot help but feel a fleeting sadness over phrases long-gone extinct.  And I will forget them, just as my babies already have forgotten them.

"Yook!" they used to say, pointing at anything and everything. "Yook, yook!"

We haven't heard "yook" in months.  In fact, I would have forgotten they ever used it, much less dozens of times a day, had my step-father not asked me why they weren't saying it anymore.

As word approximations are used, then discarded for better, more correct words, the old attempts at verbalization get lost.  A few weeks ago, my babies would wiggle their tongues and make unintelligible sounds, playing at talking.  They hardly do that anymore.  If their tongues garble their sentences, they stop.  I see them concentrating, willing their mouths to speak the correct words, the words they see in their minds.  They pause and slowly try again, pronouncing each syllable with intent.

How blessed we are to see such quick and marked growth, to see the making of a person, to shape that making day by day.  How hard the babies work to grow, to catch up with their parents.  If I used even half as much of my brain as they do daily, how much I could achieve.  Babies never rest, they are always learning.

It's us, the parents, still hanging on to phases past.  Still hanging on to our babies.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Overcoming Inertia

Get up.  I'm serious, get up right now.  Or, maybe after you finish reading this blog, but certainly after you check your email - wait, what's the New York Times' top story today?  And didn't you want to check that diaper post on that forum?  Plus, there's facebook to update.

The internet is fantastic; it puts the world at your fingertips.  The internet is awful; you never have to move again.  An object at rest stays at rest.  We must strive to overcome this inertia.

As I type this, my babies are playing in the living room.  I could be playing with them.  I could be making breakfast.  I am at my computer.  Through experience, though, I know the pitfalls, and I will not stay here to check my email, or read the paper, or check a forum.  If I spend too long at my computer, I turn to sludge.  I can feel it - my life force seeping out of me and into this chair I'm sitting on.

We must get up.  We must do things.  I, for one, know I feel better if I do.  But knowing I feel better, and having the strength to actually move from this desk are two different things.

You would think toddlers make this easier.  They are always on the move, it seems.  Even a movie on television cannot stop them for long.  Unfortunately, I've found, they don't make moving easier: in fact, they make it harder.

If your kids are in a bad mood, you don't want to take them out.  What if it gets worse?  What if they embarrass you in public?  A change of scenery may help, but if they're cranky, they won't calm down long enough for you to even explain to them that you're going somewhere.  May as well just leave them be to get over this spell of animosity.

If your kids are in a good mood, you don't want to take them out.  The change of scenery might set them off.  Right here, right now, there is such a good balance.  They're happy and chipper; why would you take a chance and end this rare bout of contentedness?

It just seems easier to stay.  And it might be, in the short term.  But if you could only overcome this inertia and try to get them out of the house, if only for a walk to the trash cans, you'd be amazed at the difference in the day.  It's actually less effort to handle toddlers if you give them a few different experiences to mull over in their quiet time.  Toddlers cooped up inside, playing by themselves, eventually (and sometimes immediately) turn sour.  Then, the energy you could have been spending on an outing, you now are forced to spend appeasing them, stopping tantrums.  Everybody loses.

Of course, getting up is not as easy as I've made it sound.  Sometimes, it just feels impossible, especially if you are ill, or pregnant, or alone, or sad.  But it can be done.  On the bad days, if you can even fake overcoming your apathy for a few minutes, it will be easier to fake the next day, and the third.  By the fourth day, it will be part of your routine.

I try to schedule at least one outing with the twins a day.  And it is hard.  We don't always make my goal.  Some days, I need to just stay home and sludge through the day until I can toss the babies and myself into bed.  But I've noticed that we all feel better if we do at least one thing, have at least one adventure together.  Even though it feels like far too much work for far too little gain each morning as I sip my coffee and they watch Dora.

You don't have to be a superstar.  If you don't get the kids out and about, you didn't fail.  There's always tomorrow, after all.  Each day a new chance, and each day more love from your children, as difficult as they may be.  Start slowly.  Read them a book in the living room.  Tomorrow, maybe, take them out to play in the back yard.  If you're feeling up to it, try a short walk.  If not, you didn't fail.  Read them another book.  It won't take long.  Just a few minutes of interaction, and you may find yourself feeling better.  Just a few minutes of interaction, and your kids may be good to play on their own for another hour or so. 

It's not easy, and if you spend your days at the computer, you are far from alone.  It doesn't make you a bad parent.  It makes you a tired parent.  It makes you a normal parent.

Still, maybe you could try it, today.  Maybe right now, you could get up.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Parenting Online - Part 1

As a first-time parent, I did a lot of research online.  I looked at Kelly Mom, at Dr. Sears, at the World Health Organization.  I joined parenting groups and forums, baby groups and pages.  We have the internet's boundless knowledge, facts and experience at our fingertips, we may as well use it, right?

In my years of hardlined internet research, I learned one core fact I think every parent should take into consideration: you can find an expert to back up any belief you have.

It's true.  No matter how you choose to raise your child, you can find someone on the internet to tell you that you are doing it right.  For every one person you find to tell you that, there will be 20 more to tell you that you are doing it wrong.
My solution?

You need to do what feels right for you and for your child.  You cannot go by the book in parenting because there simply is no book.  Or, rather, there are 80 billion books.  As new parents, we often don't have the confidence to rely on ourselves, on our gut feeling, but with all this conflicting information, it's really all we have.

Here are a few examples of what I am talking about:

1) You are unsure if you should babywear. has an effusive writeup on the benefits of babywearing, many parents in your chosen internet forum advocate it, but, then again, there was that recall a while back.

People have been wearing babies for centuries.  If you choose to do so, you are following in their footsteps, and they've created millions of people, so I'm sure you'll be fine.  Alternately, people have been putting their babies down for centuries, and those babies turned out okay, too.

I never babywore.  I had twins.  Problem solved.  I didn't even have to look into this one.  (Although, I'm sure there are many advocates who would tell me I should have worn them both.  Perhaps saddlebag style?)

2) Breastfeeding or formula feeding.  Most news stories, experts and websites you'll see agree that breast is best, but your mother in law, your aunt, and the hospital in which you gave birth are pushing formula. 

Again, babies have been fed both ways for many, many years.  Those babies made it, and so will yours.

I breastfed for three months.  My babies never latched and needed to take my milk from a bottle.  I fought tooth and nail to continue, but the babies were less than 10 pounds at that three month mark, my breasts were making less milk, and I had to go back to work.  I switched to formula.  I'm here to tell you, I am still a good person, and my babies are thriving two year olds.  It's okay, and it's nobody's business how you feed your child.  Do what's best for you.

3) Cosleeping.  You can find multiple articles for and against cosleeping.  Some physicians say it's dangerous and leads to SIDS or other problems.  Others say that theory is rubbish, that cosleeping is good for baby and parents, that it strengthens bonds and leads to a better night's sleep for all involved.  You need to do what's right for you.

We never coslept.  My kids made it.

4)  Crying it out.  Babywise says do it.  Everyone else says don't.  Again, I stick to my adage of doing what's right for you.  In this particular instance, though, I must let my bias show, as I cannot imagine how letting a small baby cry for any long amount of time is good for anyone involved.  But I'm no expert.  That's what Google is there for.

And these are just a few.  There are so many questions that need to be answered.  And once you make a decision, there are several important follow ups.  So that if you decide that a pacifier is right for your family, you then have to research what type of pacifier, and when you're supposed to wean baby from that pacifier, and when you can and can't use that pacifier, and how often, and for what amount of time.

With all of this ready-made knowledge, we're essentially taking the intuition out of parenting.  I'm not advocating shunning the internet.  The information is there, we best use it.  I'm simply saying, don't forget, in all the noise of the typeface coming through your computer screen, to listen to yourself, and, more importantly, to listen to your child.

Monday, October 25, 2010


As adults, there is so much beauty we take for granted.  The way a neon sign buzzes, the lights and shadows it casts on a window pane, cracks in the pavement, ants marching.  These microcosms are completely overlooked.  We've seen them all a million times before, and we'll see them again tomorrow.  But when was the last time we actually saw them?

My children love the moon.  They can't reach it.  They can't hold it.  They've never been able to have it.  But they love it.  It's to the point where any time we're outside, day or night, they'll search for it, like an old friend.

"Moom!"  they say.  "Moom?  'Lo, moom?"

And when I tell them it's not dark enough out yet, and we'll see it tonight, they are instantly contented, awaiting the time when they'll see it appear.

If we're driving, and it disappears behind some trees, they are distressed.

"Moom!" they call out.  "Moom!  Mama, mama, moom!  Moom?"

And when it reappears, they are comforted.

They play a game with the moon, where they reach up their little arms as high as they can, grunting and groaning, making as if they'll stretch all the way up to the sky to touch it.

"Too high!"  I say.  "Oooh, too high.  Can't reach!"

And they laugh and give up.  The moon is a great friend of theirs.  It enchants them, it comforts them, it bewilders them, and it stays with them, even when it's not in sight.

Because it's always on my babies' minds, it's always on my mind, too.  And I realize, I've missed the moon.  I, too, used to love the moon, as they do.  It mystified me.  It made me feel better.  It has been years, though, since I've seen it, really seen it.  In my adult life, it's become just another light in the sky.  Just another shape moving through the night.  Something in my peripheral vision.  Something unimportant to the very important life I was leading.

We live too quickly as adults.  We refused to be awed.  We have no time to let beauty in, let alone actually contemplate it.  We have things to do.  One of the greatest gifts my children have given me is a look at the world through their eyes.  An acute appreciation of things already known.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Moment of the Week - 10

Memories from the beach:

Playing in the sand and water is serious business.

Just ask our mom as she was saving us from the ocean!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Toddler Tricks -10

Ways to Trick Your Baby:

Problem:  Baby is growing up and doesn't want to drink out of a sippy cup when she sees her parents using mugs and glasses.  But she, of course, can't use a mug or a glass because she will most definitely drop it on the hard tile of the kitchen and smash it to bits.

Solution:  To give baby a break from her tired old sippy, you can use little dixie cups for a treat every once in a while.  We use plastic ones.  They last longer, and there is no chance of the bottom falling out.

Ways Your Baby Can Trick You:

Problem:  Once your babies figure out that there is no top on that cup, no matter how small it is, messes will occur.  They will stick their hands in the cup (I don't even know how they fit), they will walk with the cup, dribbling it everywhere, they will drop the cup, and while there will be no glass shards to pick up, there will be juice or milk or water everywhere.

Solution:  The cups can be a treat in their own right.  Put only water in them.  If you move to juice (like I did, mistakenly)  you will have a spotty carpet and sticky babies.  Keep an eye on them when they have the cups.  Don't let them out of your sight.  Try, if you can, to keep them in the kitchen, or another room where cleanup is easier.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Lasting Impressions

Last week, my husband and I gave in and bought the babies a pair of bicycles.  For months prior, every place we saw a bike became a 20-minute rest stop for us.

"Bike!" they'd say.  "Bike!  Mine!  My bike! Up, up, up!"

Then we'd explain that it was not their bike, and I made them say bye bye.  Imagine their excitement then, when on one Saturday morning, my husband set off in search of baby girl bicycles.  I was excited for them.  I told them over and over while we waited for him to come back, "Daddy's getting your bikes.  He's getting them right now.  Bikes?  Daddy's getting you bikes!"

Little did I know what I was doing.

When he did come back, of course, it was time for a nap, and by the time they were up, my husband and I had totally assembled, pink tiny bicycles waiting for them.

Only, I was no longer part of the equation.

As the babies had cutely repeated my mantra of "Daddy!  Bike!" back to me that morning, they must have connected those two terms permanently in their minds.  So that when we went to take the bicycles outside and ride around on them, I was not allowed to touch the bicycles.  Any time I went to push, or help my husband in anyway, we'd end up with a screaming toddler.

"No, mama!  No!  Dada push!  Dada bike!"

That was cute for the first five minutes.  Eventually, though, we made a rule.  No bicycles unless mommy can push, too.  They haven't ridden their bikes since, really.  A few minutes here and there.  But only Dada is pushing.  It takes 30 minutes of cajoling to get them to even consider letting me help, and even then they only let me help to push them toward where Dada is so that he could take over.

And, honestly, they'd rather push it themselves than let me near it.

The moral of this story is always think before you say anything to babies.  Especially if it's something you're going to repeat.  They are constantly making connections that they will stick by as if it's permanent rule.  There is no logic involved, and no way to convince them after the fact that the conclusion they have made is in any way false.

Of course, I don't really mind not having to push a 30-pound toddler on a bicycle, so I suppose it's a win-win.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Baby Knows Best

I'm one of those mean mothers who doesn't give her kids candy or chocolate or ice cream or chocolate milk.  My husband laughs at me over this all the time.  I'm not against these things in principle.  Really, it's just that I'd prefer the babies eat something good for them than not, and I'd rather them not even know about the sweet junkie stuff.  They can't ask for what they don't know about, right?

Sometimes, though, on special occasions, the twins do get a treat.  The last dinner we had with Nana and Pop-pop at the beach was one of those times.  We sat outside toward the front of the restaurant.  We had a nice view of the sea.  The waitress was prompt and nice, both imperatives when you're eating out with babies.

Our dinner had been slightly delayed because we had to pack all our belongings into the car before we could set off.  The babies were hungry.

"Eat, eat!" they said. "Nomnomnomnom!"  (I'm always amazed at their ability to communicate.)

As we were settling in at the restaurant, I ordered the babies two chocolate milks, which came almost immediately.  The babies loved them, guzzled them down.  As our food began to arrive, they began to run out of milk.  Perfect timing, I thought.  I ordered them water so they could eat their incredibly nutritious chicken fingers and fries without totally filling up on milk first.

The water came.  My husband said, "Oh, they're not going to want water after chocolate milk.  Are you serious?"

But I was serious.  It was time for water.  The babies grabbed their new drinks.  They took a sip.  Dulce put her cup down and pulled back, giving it a disgusted look.  She then looked up at the waitress who was standing nearby.  She grabbed her empty cup of chocolate milk.  She handed it to the waitress and stared at her.  The waitress laughed.

And, since Dulce had placed her first order, I allowed her veto of my drink choice.  The babies had seconds of chocolate milk.  They were even on the house, so impressed was the waitress at baby's first restaurant order.

But their cognizance didn't end there.  As we were readying to pay the check, Dulce looked at my mother.  We had said nothing of leaving or ending the vacation in any way.  We had given, I thought, no indication that this was to be the last night.

Dulce looked at my mother.

"No bye bye, Nana, no bye bye."

I think everybody's heart broke.  It's impossible to explain to a two year old that she'll see Nana in two months for Christmas.

It was with laughter and sadness we hit the road and headed for home.  Isn't it always?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

A Restful Vacation

No vacation is restful if you're taking toddlers with you.  You have to be keeping an eye on them, and more than that - keeping a hand, an arm, an entire body on them - at all times.  In new surroundings, toddlers can go wild, exploring each new treasure, wandering farther and farther off.  Running as fast as they can, just because they can.  Until they fall, that is.  Or in our case, until they get knocked over by a wave.  It gets so that a classic relaxing beach vacation is more harrowing and more stressful than just staying at home would have been.  I'd gladly take a 40-hour work week over possible toddler demise every ten minutes.  And yet, a vacation has several redeeming qualities, and I do recommend them - even if you have to take the kids.

To keep your vacation as free of stress as possible, you need to start on the right foot.  Clean your house before you go.  If you can't rouse yourself to do a full deep cleaning, simply make sure your dwelling is in such a condition so that when you return, there are no unpleasant surprises meeting you as you walk through the door.  Take the trash out.  Don't forget to replace the bags.  Wash all the dishes.  Give the counters a quick wipe down.  Pick up the toys and throw them in the box, or in a corner.  Quickly clean the bathrooms.  Leave a bit of bleach in the bowls to discourage any disgusting growth while you're away.  Wash and fold all outstanding laundry.  You'll have plenty more loads to do when you get back, but it's easier to wash and dry vacation wear on its own.

Visit people you know, preferably people that like your kids.  Even if they are not willing or able to actually watch your kids to give you a break, you'd be amazed at how helpful an extra pair of eyes or hands can be.  We visited my parents at the beach this past weekend.  Nana helped me help them make sandcastles and carrying buckets of ocean to the shore. While I still had to be watchful at all times, I didn't have to be running around fulfilling the needs of two toddlers non-stop.  It was a lifesaver.

Take a bit of home with you.  We packed the babies' loveys, of course, and also their favorite coverlets, a few toys, some videos they watch at home and beach toys they were used to.  This eases the transition, both to the vacation and back home.  Chances are, your toddler will like vacation as much as you do and will be just as reluctant to return home.  If you have consistent items present at both places, they'll feel less homesick, or vacation sick, depending on the timing.

Keep your schedule as best you can.  My kids need a nap in the afternoon, which kept us quite structured.  We got up, ate breakfast, went for a walk around the neighborhood, played, ate lunch, went down for a nap.  Then, in the late afternoon, we'd head to the beach, stay there for a few hours, come home, clean up from the beach, eat dinner and put them down to bed.  It was a perfectly honed system for our needs.

Keep expectations low.  If you expect extravagant luxurious surroundings, silence and lots of reading and sightseeing time, you're setting yourself up for disappointment.  You know what your kids can handle.  Don't give them more than that if you value your sanity.

So, while the vacation wasn't what vacations were before we had children, it was as restful as it could have been, and a good time was had by all.  Just because you're a parent doesn't mean you can't live a little.  Just remember, it will only be a little until your babies are a bit older.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Every Birth is Beautiful

Today, I have the honor of being the guest blogger for New Mommy Oasis.

I talk about birth stories - beautiful and calm, or terrifying and humiliating.  Go ahead over and take a look.

Giving birth is one of the most profound experiences a person can ever go through or witness. Whether it’s at home or in a hospital, completely natural or medicated, vaginal or cesarian – or, in my case, as part of a rushed clinical operation full of white masks and green walls – it is still yours, and it is still beautiful. Each woman has her own definition of ideal surroundings for a birth experience. So many women look back on their birthing experience with annoyance, disgust or even pain at the way they were treated or at the way they were ignored. The time that should have been one of life’s most beautiful having been ripped from them by the hands of careless doctors and pushy nurses.

Read More:

New Mommy Oasis

Monday, October 18, 2010

Routine Change

Toddlers thrive on routine.  It gives them confidence; it allows them a sense of power over their unknown lives.  If they know what is coming up next, and they can predict it, they feel as if it is something they have decided for themselves.  That sense of independent decision making, while false, is excellent not only for their self esteem, but for tantrumless days for the caretaker.

When routine is broken, as it sometimes must be, you can expect your toddler to rail against the unfairness of life, not out of spite or anger, but more out of fear.  Suddenly, all they thought they knew has shifted, has changed.  Change is scary, even for adults.

This unfortunate occurrence has the effect of ruining the first night of any "vacation" my husband and I have ever tried to go on.  The new surroundings, combined with the adventure of different sights, sounds and smells, accumulate with such dramatic effect that by the time we all turn in for the night, our children, in a cloud of muddled and confused rage and fear, explode into quivering, wailing toddler puddles in their new room.

They wonder if mommy is gone forever.  They wonder why it's so dark in there.  They wonder where their own beds are.  They're so tired, and, yet, nothing is right.  They cannot sleep when nothing is right.  So that even when I give in and go to them, laying in between them the wrong way on a double pull-out couch, they cannot rest, instead jostling me, climbing on me, trying to be as close as possible to me, in case, of course, I should try to sneak out again, and leave them to face most certain death alone.  I can only imagine all life is this dramatic to a toddler.

They were scared.  So many times we forget to look at things through our babies' eyes.  Their antics annoy and irritate us because they cannot see the world as we see it.  They are not crying out in order to stay up longer or to get us to come in and play.  They are crying out of fear.  Out of loneliness.  Sometimes even out of anguish.  For even though they cannot speak clearly, their imaginations are quite developed.  I shudder to think about what they must make up in the dark of a strange room with only silence to greet their panicked shouts.

This chronicles our first night of vacation.  The second and third nights were much easier.  Not only were the babies a bit more used to the room in which they would sleep, they also had the comforting knowledge that they had made it through the first night no worse for the wear, if a little more tired. 

But the real difference came by chance.  Instead of all going to bed at the same time, I put the babies down first.  Then the adults settled into dinner and conversation around the kitchen table.  I found myself annoyed as my step-father and husband continued to banter, wondering if they even cared that the babies needed to sleep, thinking, surely, their voices must be keeping them awake, tantalizing them.  But I was wrong.  Their voices soothed the babies, comforted them.  So that after a few jovial shouts, the room fell silent.  In listening to sounds to which they were used, the babies were able to fall seamlessly and comfortably to sleep.  While we may not have been in the room with them, we were still here.  It made all the difference in the world.  Simply the voices of those they love can soothe them to sleep.  It proves to them we are still there.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Toddler Tricks - 9

Ways to Trick your Baby:

Problem:  Your baby likes to get up with the sun!  She's happy to start a new day as soon as possible.  She didn't stay up all night writing blogs and cleaning, no!  She's well rested and ready to go at the crack of dawn.  But you may not be.  She's also hungry.  It's been a long ten hours, and she's ready for breakfast.

Solution:  Leave some strategically-placed unbreakable bowls of cereal out for them, so that they can find and reach them in the morning for a pre-breakfast snack.

Ways your baby can trick you:

Problem:  You can expect that cereal trick to work well about 25 percent of the time.  25 percent of the time, they'll spill it on the floor on purpose and call for you to help them pick up.  The other 50 percent of the time, they'll spill it by accident, and you'll come downstairs to this:

At least she's hard at work!

Solution:  Keep your vacuum cleaner handy and available at all times.

Friday, October 15, 2010

A Day

Today is National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Day - an incredibly hard and painful day for millions.  The loss of a little one, born or unborn, is something I hope never to experience.  Having never experienced it, I feel I have no right to write about it.  I will not speculate about how those women feel, where their babies are, what they look like.  I will not tell those women that everything will be okay.  I will not give them an acceptable way to mourn or tell them the way they are mourning is unacceptable.  This is a personal day, not for me or anyone else to encroach upon.  And it's not just this day.  It's every day.

A website devoted to the commemoration of this day states its mission as follows: "To diligently work with local, state and national leaders to obtain a National Day of Remembrance recognizing the need for community education and awareness when a family loses a child to miscarriage, stillbirth, and/or neonatal death. While promoting the need for openness, understanding and compassion during a family's time of grief and most importantly, allowing those who wish, to remember these children who we now hold dear." [sic]

This is a mission statement I cannot argue - until its end.  For whether or not a day was ever designated to commemorate these experiences, those children and those fetuses were always held dear. 

Whether you believe they are waiting in heaven or hold no hope of ever seeing them, if you lost a child - planned or unplanned, during pregnancy or after birth - you are the only one who knows how you feel about it.  Your pain is not less or more than anyone else's.  It's simply more personal.  It is a day set aside for women and families to mourn, but many of those women and families mourn everyday.  There is no way to quantify a sadness such as this, for it is different for everybody, and everybody is entitled to remember today in their own way, even if that way is not remembering.  As we all take a moment today to recognize the bravery of those who have lost a little one, we must remember not to intrude on their personal feelings, mourning style, or loss.

There is no competition here for whose story is saddest.  There is no requirement to imagine a lost baby as an angel any more than there is to remember him or her as a heartbeat on an ultrasound.

To everyone who has lost a child in any way, I am so sorry for your loss, but not just today, everyday.  And I will never claim to understand.

There is very little we know about these children, but we know they are loved.  And that is more powerful than any candle.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Get Rid of It

I have a hard time believing my children are growing up.  They're starting to speak now, and every time I'm shocked because I feel like I should still be burping them and putting them down for two naps.  They're pulling off expertly choreographed twirls, and I'm worried I should still be holding their hands up the stairs.  And where did their newborn onesies go? Time flies.

As kids grow, they grow out of things.  Objects that were once a part of everyday life soon become obsolete items, crowding your house - an odd sort of decoration.  But I doubt anyone truly wants to decorate their house with walkers, or high chairs, or Johnny Jumpers, or changing tables.  We're just holding onto them because we're used to them.  They have become part of us.  Even as our babies move on, we find ourselves clinging to their pasts, out of nostalgia and sometimes pure laziness.

It's okay to get rid of these things.  Put them up on Craigslist or Freecycle if they're still in good condition.  Callously toss them in the dumpster if you've ruined them beyond repair.  Thinking you might someday have another baby?  Put the items in storage.  There is a long time between when your toddler last used her Jumper to when you'll have another baby big enough to enjoy it.  It doesn't need to hang from your doorway until then.

Some of these things need to go because they're just too big.  My high chairs, for instance.  We haven't used the high chairs in about two months.  Still, they sit in a stately fashion on the one side of my dining room table, just "in case" we ever need them again.  When your babies start using their eating tools as jungle gyms, it's time to say goodbye.

Some items need to go because they're actually becoming dangerous.  The cheap changing table I bought two and a half years ago falls under this category.  I change my babies on the floor or on their bed now because it's less messy, and they're helpful during changing times.  Of course, the goal is not to be changing them at all, but that's a battle we're attacking slowly right now.  By leaving their changing table in their room, I'm doing myself no favors.  It's one of the only things in there that they can push around and play on, and it's simply not safe.

Sure, this makes for a cute picture, but look at the way the corkboard is bowing under her weight.  Her foot could easily get stuck between the board and the holding structure.  Worse yet, she could fall right through.

Our kids are growing up.  It's time to change our decor, and, bit by bit, retrieve out lives from the pastel color scheme of baby necessities.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Art of Leaving

Timing is everything.  It's always a challenge leaving a fun place with toddlers, but you can't let that keep you from taking them places (although I'd like to just stay home using that as an excuse).  One of the ways to successfully leave is to follow your toddlers' lead.  This requires a lot of time and flexibility, but sometimes it can be pulled off flawlessly.

First, you have to wait until your children just barely start to get bored.  When the pauses between activities become just a little longer than they were, start subtley packing up.  If your kids are still having as much fun as they were in the beginning, it's going to be exceptionally hard to drag them away without a tantrum.  On the flip side, if you let them get too bored, they'll quickly move from ready-to-leave to hellion-mode, allowing the boredom to get the better of them and you.

Yesterday, I took the babies swimming.  We splashed in the kiddie pool.  We played on the steps of the big pool.  We filled buckets with water.  We danced around the play area.  Someone came out of the gym, and the babies set to offering him leaves and buds from nearby plants.  I noticed, though, that they started listlessly looking around, waiting for their next fun opportunity to arise.  As those opportunities dwindled, I started packing up.  I know from experience that uttering the words, "let's go home," creates instant turmoil.  Even if they were ready to leave, once those words are spoken, they will insist they were in no way ready yet.  So, instead, I told them to put on their shoes.  I pointed out something fun just beyond the pool gate, and we left the pool quietly.


Had I tried to leave before they were done giving the stranger leaves, or splashing in the pool, I would have had floppy toddler fish on my hands.  If I had waited any longer, the games the babies were playing to distract themselves would have taken a more daring, more dangerous turn - something a mom with twins by herself in a pool area cannot afford.  When one twin runs one way and the other another way, it's usually cute to onlookers and only slightly annoying to me.  In an area where there are large bodies of deep water on either side, two kids running in opposite directions is harrowing at best, disasterous at worst.

So, when you need to leave a fun place, start paying attention to your kids' cues.  They'll never tell you their ready to go, but they'll slow in their innocent endeavors as they start to think of more devious ways to spend their time and amuse themselves.  And if you think this is a large window, you'll be unpleasantly surprised.

I'd say you have anywhere from three to nine minutes to actually leave a place once you see a fit of slight boredom set in.

Ready.  Set.  Go!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Passing Storms

In addition to a complete lack of logic and an utterly misplaced sense of priority, toddlers also have the willpower of one with nothing to lose.  Because they don't yet know they have anything to lose.

This startling combination can bring any adult at any time to his knees, begging for mercy.  Putting the three together is a recipe for madness.  To give in to this, which we must all do from time to time, means sliding down a staircase step by step while holding your toddler's hand, but only if they are three inches ahead of you because otherwise it's all for naught and the end of the world occurs.  If you're going to look silly, you must do it right.  Otherwise, you'll look silly and still have a screaming mess of toddler puddle to strong arm down the stairs, which was exactly what you were trying to avoid by slip sliding in the first place.  To top it all off, the babies in question can't even tell you in words what they want, so you need to discern through shouts, pointing and baby blather which ridiculous thing they want you to do, and how they want you to do it.  Exactly.

The other route, of course, is to show them who's boss.  I like this route because it allows me to hang onto my own personal lack of logic, disregard for priority, and willpower, all while pretending to be the infallible adult.  The power trip can last anywhere from two to four whole seconds, though, before my tough-guy charade is ripped to shreds by an incensed toddler and her antics.  Then we all go to our rooms to cool down, and, really, it's just a lose-lose.

During these tough times, we must remember, the logic will come.  The words will come.  The priorities will come.  The listening will come.  Be consistent.  Be firm.  Don't lose yourself.  Don't lose them.  Everything will come in time.  The madness can only sustain itself for so long before you get a break.  Hold your breath, gently show them the right path.  Eventually, they will start to take it.

Until then, they will be co-conspirators in crime.

This was last night after an unfortunate toilet paper unrolling expedition.  This morning, I saw a flicker of light.  Dulce wanted Natalina's cereal, simply because it wasn't hers.  As I walked her to her room during her non-sensical tantrum, she slammed the door on me (two years old, and this already) and thought about it for a while calmly.  I opened it, and she accepted her milk.  Then, in a move totally unexpected by me, she took Natalina's cereal bowl, and solemnly - with such meaning there should have been soft, heroic movie theme music in the background - looked her straight in the eye and offered her the bowl in peace.

Throughout the tantrums and the boundary testing and the craziness that is toddlerhood, you can't deny that they are growing up.  Each day brings another small victory with it's tumult.  If you can weather the passing storms, the rainbows are well worth it.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Any Routine Will Do

Routine is important for toddlers.  They need structure in their lives as they struggle to understand the subtleties of getting through each day as a human being.  You can make a routine for everything, and many times, inadvertantly, parents create routines for their children, and those routines become habit.  In this house, we wake up.  The babies have some cereal, then I make them some milk.  They watch a bit of television, then we go outside.  Before we know it, it's nap time.  We grab Bear and Blankie and head to the nursery for some stories.  For one story, they sit on the floor next to me.  For the next, they must be in bed.  A traditional nap time routine. 

When my husband comes home from work, we all eat dinner.  The babies watch a bit more TV while I make and clean up from dinner.  We play games in the living room, have a bit more milk, and it's time for bed again.  We do the same thing every day, with the details rearranged a bit.  Maybe one day's outside adventure will be swimming; the next day's will simply be walking the garbage to the bin.  One day we'll play chase the baby inside; the next we'll be building blocks.  But the general framework remains the same.

In this way, daytrips to the beach or shopping mall adventures become special trips, which supercede the routine's importance in your toddlers' minds (if not in their bodies), and making a fun day into an extraordinary day, after which, the kids are more than happy to settle back into their routine.

But routine need not be boring, nor need it be traditional.  I made up our nap time routine.  You can tell.  It's a traditional slow calming down into sleep.  My husband made up our bedtime routine, which has a slightly different rythym.  After milk, my husband and I round up Blankie and Bear, and set to marching into the bedroom.  Even if the babies are saying no when we begin, rare is the day when they can resist the call of "March, march, march, march, left, right, left, right, left!"  Within seconds, we have two toddlers in their bedroom lifting their knees and shouting, "March!"  Once in the bedroom, it's time for "night-night."  And we literally jump to bed.  "Night, night, night, night, night, night, night!"  Then a quick kiss, cover with the blanket and mom and dad slip out.  It's certainly not traditional, and it doesn't exactly wind them down, but it works like a charm.  See for yourself:

Of course, this is a little lackluster.  The babies were confused as to why I was holding a camera instead of jumping up and down and shouting.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Moment of the Week - 8

"Mine!" and "No!"  These are favorite words around here.  Clearly the most important of human phrases.

I also won this yesterday:

Thank you, Fair and Fine!

I would like to forward this award to a few of my favorite bloggers:

Sparking the Pavement
The Copyverse
Accidentally Mommy

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Toddler Tricks - 8

Ways to trick your baby:

Problem:  You have too many toys.  Your mother in law gets you stuff, you have hand-me-downs from friends or family, you've bought a few things and, of course, over the holidays you collect baby knick knacks given with love.  Your kid, though, is only interested in about five things at a time.  The rest clutter your space, for, apparently, no reason.

Solution:  Keep toys your kids have seemed to lose interest in inside a closet or storage space.  On days when they are particularly cranky, go into the "special closet" and give them a "new toy."  You can keep most baby and toddler toys evergreen for years because your baby will have exceptional expertise in finding new ways to play with it and use it.  In my house, we just did this with a Leap Frog table.  The babies loved it when they were 9 months old and learning to stand and walk.  They could balance on it and slam the buttons in celebration of their accomplishment.  In taking it back out, at age two, they're making up dances to the different musical selections, and repeating the colors and shapes after the toy says them aloud.

Ways your baby can trick you:

Problem:  Some of the new uses they think up for those old toys may not be particularly safe.  At nine months, my babies balanced on the table to steady their unused feet.  At two years, they balance on the table - on top of the table, in preparation to jump onto the furniture, of course.

Solution:  Keep a close eye on your toddlers.  No matter what you give them to play with, if it gets too quiet or too loud, they're doing something you don't want them to do.  And usually you won't have even thought of it, until you see them do it.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Problem Solvers

As I write this, I see two sets of big brown eyes staring at me intently.

"No, mama.  No.  Go.  Go. GO!"

The problem with this picture, of course, is that my babies are upstairs.  My babies are upstairs, meaning they figured out how to hop the baby gate and clamber up, most likely in an unsafe fashion.  Climbing is their passion right now.  That and causing problems.

We have to remember, as parents, that a problem made for us, is a problem solved for toddlers.  We're simply coming at life from a different perspective.  A gallon of milk on the floor is a huge problem for me, but the mental logistics that went into getting that milk on the floor is a major accomplishment for my two year olds.

First, they had to find something they could easily climb onto.  They used their green bumbo chairs.  Which means they had to determine that a seat can be used for more than just sitting.  They are using their brains to assign different definitions to objects that I already gave them the definition for.  Then they had to climb on the back end of the chair and balance while reaching for the counter.  They had to use their gross motor skills in order not to fall.  Then they had to grab the milk, I assume because they were thirsty.  Really, the only part of this project that failed was that they couldn't get a cup to pour the milk into, and the milk was too heavy for them to do anything but drop it on the ground if they were going to keep their balance.

Once they figured out that chairs are not only for sitting, they were able to apply that to all chairs.

Exhibit A: The ottoman.  By turning our ottoman upside down and standing on it, they can turn the television on and off.  A problem made for me.  A problem solved for them.

Exhibit B: They climb the dining room table chairs with ease, giving them access to salt, and butter, and glasses and books and any other errant thing I've left there unwittingly.  How else would they be able to feed Elmo the butter he so clearly needs to survive?  Problems made for me.  Problems solved for them.

So, really, the more troublesome your toddlers, the better off they may be.  They're constantly accessing each situation and coming up with ways to solve their perceived problems on their own.  It only just so happens that the problem solving often involves a huge mess.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

A Real Friend

Do you have a real friend?  A friend close by with a kid close in age that you can call or visit with or without baby in tow?  They're hard to come by, and even harder to keep, but it's worth it to try.

When I became a parent, I gradually lost most of my childless friends.  Sure, we still chat once in a blue moon.  One of us will make a point to write on the other's facebook wall or send a chain letter email every once and again.  Some of them would even stop by for dinner after my babies went down for the night, which used to be quite nice.  But it's hard to keep up adult relationships with those who like to have a conversation consisting of real sentences and maybe even paragraphs once you have a child.

Communicating in sentences, telling stories, learning about the other's day in fluent conversation is simply not possible with a toddler around.  Friends without children can get frustrated quickly.  New friends you try to make will lose interest or find you rude when, just as they're telling you something close to their heart, you need to interrupt them to stop your two year old from licking a DVD.  They'll give you another chance, sure, but when they've gotten three words more into the story, and you have to, again, stop them to coerce a pen out of your baby's hands that she had set her heart on destroying your furniture with, they'll start to lose steam.  By the time they have to shout the end of the story over your toddler screaming about nothing in particular to nobody in particular, well, you've pretty much lost them.

Unless you've found a goldmine of understanding within them, they'll feel like a heel, and you'll feel like a bad friend, all while your babies happily sip away at a 50 percent grape juice water mixture you just handed them before they decide it would be more fun to turn the cups upside down and "water" the carpet, so that you can't even properly walk your disgusted friend to the door when they leave.

This is why it's important to at least attempt to find a mom friend.  Mine found me, and I have a feeling I will be forever grateful.  We were at the pool a few months ago, and she was very friendly.  She gave me her number.  I didn't call.  Sometimes, you're just so overwhelmed with your family, your cleaning, your routines, you feel like you just don't have the energy to even make a phone call.  And if you do make that phone call, then what if you actually have to meet that person somewhere?  The effort can be too much.  Make it.  I'm telling you.  It ends up being a relief in the end.

In my case, she eventually called me.  She stopped by.  I still didn't call.  We ran into them outside in our condo complex a few times and chatted while our babies played.  I still didn't call.  She dropped off presents for the babies, randomly.  Okay, okay.  I called. 

The babies and I traipsed over there this afternoon, and as the stay at home mother of a singleton who is only 14 months old, her house was veritably spotless.  The babies promptly wrecked it, pulling out toys, exploring off-limit areas and generally being a nuisance.  She didn't mind.  She wants a mom friend, too.  She made me coffee, and we got about two dozen half conversations in, which has got to be a record of some sort in mommy friendom.  Of course, I have all sorts of questions for her that are unrelated and split because of the way in which we had to talk, but that just gives us all the more reason to get together again.

It was really worth it.  I often feel too tired to try to coordinate anything with anybody.  Getting the three of us out of the house on just the small adventures we have to the library and the Walgreens is stressful enough.  If you've got a friend who's willing to put up with your children, you've got a keeper.

And you know what I said up there about childless friends not understanding?  That's not true.  Some of them will, just as some friends with children won't.  If you've got a friend who's willing to put up with your children, you keep that friend close.  Age doesn't matter, whether or not they have kids doesn't matter.  A kindred spirit is a kindred spirit, and we all need one of those.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Abortion, Eugenics and Parenting

The abortion debate rages on around us.  The ethical issues of life and death are potent enough to break families apart as members line up on either side of the great divide.  Neither side will budge.  Both sides feel they are protecting the core of human rights.

And then, every once in a while, someone comes along who says something so completely atrocious that the bickering enemies find themselves tossed into the river together, struggling to find a way back to their noble shores.

Glenn Beck found his way back masterfully, by pinning the opinion of one pundit on every so-called progressive towing the picket line or simply holding their views quietly in their homes.

That pundit is named Virginia Ironside.  Her statement?

"If I were the mother of a suffering child - I mean a deeply suffering child - I would be the first to want to put a pillow over its face... If it was a child I really loved, who was in agony, I think any good mother would."

As much as I blanch at the thought of detailing for you my own views of abortion, I think I can safely say that the only battle this woman won with that statement was to horrify everyone and anyone who heard her.

To mention something so casually that would sicken so many is no boon for her cause, which was, based on the article I read, pro-choice.  The comparison of killing a living, suffering being without their consent to killing or terminating (depending on your definition) a fetus in the womb is an argument many pro-lifers make and with much success.  Most pro-choice people that have any shred of sanity would not liken an abortion to murder, especially in a public forum.  It goes against the very basis of much of the pro-choice stand.

Should we kill all those who suffer?  Would the world be better off?  Absolutely not.  What of the Stephen Hawkings of the world?  And, I know, I know, here is the slippery slope.  What if someone aborted a Stephen Hawking, and the world will never know his greatness?  And really, do accomplishments really even matter when it comes to whose life or death you mourn?

Still, while the definition of a fetus as a being with rights remains up in the air to be fought for and against, the definition of a child is a living, breathing, separate being with rights that would be alienated should he or she be murdered.  We can at least agree on that.  Living children have rights.  And living children under a certain age cannot even give consent to have sex, let alone be killed.  That makes it murder, by law and definition.  Our feelings may differ on whether or not that label should be applied to a fetus, but in the case of a born child, there is no feeling in the matter.  The law stands.

And what of the mother?  Ironside basically called mothers who struggle with disabled children, mothers who made the right choice for themselves and their families, irresponsible mothers.  Irresponsible for not killing the child they wanted, the child they love and the child that loves them.  Even if we pretend she didn't advocate killing born children, and we take this back to the abortion debate, that is not pro-choice.  That is pro-abortion.  Again, she hacks away at the very base she's claiming to fight for.  The implication in the term pro-choice is blatantly obvious.  Women have the choice as to whether or not they would like to abort their fetus or carry it to term, regardless of circumstances, regardless of medical tests - tests which are fallible.  Ironside has no right to attack any woman who chooses to birth a baby who may have disabilities.  That is a woman's choice.  Pro-choice.  Choice.

To view it in such a black and white manner as to say a woman with a disabled child should abort or must abort, and then to take it further to compare it to murder as a compassionate alternative, well, a few more steps and you're talking about eugenics.  And I'm fairly certain even most foes over the abortion debate can agree on their feelings about that (of course, there are exceptions.)

Really all I'm trying to say here is that Ironside made no friends with this statement.  She clearly does not represent the pro-choice cause.  She clearly does not represent pro-life cause.  She speaks for no one (one can only hope) but herself.

As conservatives bustle to blacken the eyes of progressives over this statement, they should count their blessings that someone so ignorant as Ironside stood up and made such a statement to begin with.  I can only say, it is not the progressive stand.  It is the opposite of the progressive stand.  It is not the conservative stand. It is the opposite of the conservative stand.

Bravo, Ms. Ironside.  You've got us talking about you.  Surely that must have been your only goal in making  that comment.

Article linked above:

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Love Hormones

The rise and fall of hormones in women who have just given birth as they continue to interact with their infant as it grows has been well documented.  But what about those same hormones in dads?

A new study, just released, shows that fathers also experience a rise in the love hormone as they interact with their child.  It also shows a correlation between the mother's hormone level and the father's.  If a woman is experiencing PPD, the father's hormone level tends to stay low as well, which may explain some of the depression dads can feel after their partner gives birth to a baby.

This study was done only on what Americans would call "the traditional family," and as I continue to talk about the results, you'll see that there is no way to broaden these findings to include all families.  I can only hope there are several other studies in the offing right now that study the hormone levels of adoptive families, gay couples, and others who would not fit into this very slim mold.

Researchers say that the hormone, oxytocin, rises in dads when they are teaching babies - pulling them up to sit, showing them how to see the world around them, playing with them.  Mothers experience a hormone boost when they gently handle babies - comfort them and caress them.  All of which, they say, may explain why children tend to look for dad when they want a happy playmate, and to seek out mom when they're feeling bad and need reassurance.

In my opinion, this is a very preliminary study, full of holes and vagueness, but one important thing its publication can perhaps do is encourage fathers to be a part of their children's lives as they grow.  Clearly there is room in a child's heart for every adult looking to give him love, and no adult should feel tied to any "traditional" duty or feeling. 

As we continue to progress as a society, men as a group are slowly coming off of that 'manly' image they have felt, throughout history, the need to portray.

The point of this entry is - man, woman, mother, father - the words don't mean anything.  You can be yourself.  You intuitively know how to love your child, and you'll know if something isn't quite right.  You'll know if your feelings of sadness are too much.  Don't second guess.  Within the ever-complicated politics of family life there is room for everyone and for every feeling.

Your baby will love you from day one.  And we don't need a study for that.  Your baby will love you whether or not you fit into the slim mold of test subjects for this particular study.  Your baby will love you whether you are a mother or a father.  Your baby will love you whether you play with him or cuddle him.  Your baby will love you.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Baby Is Sick

Toddlers cry.  A lot.  They tantrum, they yell, they toss themselves on the floor.  They have all of these emotions, and not only do they not understand the effect of emotion on a person, they don't even know what an emotion is.  On top of all of these feelings they have to learn and learn about, they also are still trying to learn language.  This is a recipe for disaster.  This is the cornerstone of the terrible twos.  Almost no parent is a bad parent to a two year old, even when they seem out of control.  Even the wisest among us cannot teach a baby to handle emotion, cannot teach a baby to speak a language they do not know, even as that emotion bubbles up within them.

My babies are sick.  They have a stomach virus.  This makes everything so much worse because not only do they not understand emotion and don't know how to tell me about it, they also don't understand physical feeling, and can't grasp why their stomachs are hurting.  In fact, they don't even know there is a difference between that physical pain and the emotional trauma they suffer when I fail to give them the correct number of ice cubes in their juice.

This is where a parent can help.  As my babies' misery increases, their demands increase, as well.  I find myself alternating between feeling bad that they are sick and feeling utterly frustrated at their complete lack of logic, which is only exacerbated by illness.

My babies cannot tell the difference right now between annoyance that the right Raffi song isn't playing and irritation because their stomachs are exploding.  They only have experience with the former, so instead of being able to broaden their horizons and tell me they're in pain, they scream extra loud about the Raffi.  If I'm not completely aware of the situation, I become exasperated with them and can quickly make matters worse.

It's up to us, as parents, to remember all that faces a two year old everyday - the information, the pain, the emotion.  We need to realize and remember that to the baby, it's all rolled into one.  And that one magnificent feeling will manifest itself in a million little tantrums over little things because it's the little things that they understand.

And really, we're not so different ourselves.  How many of us break down into tears when the cookies burn, or someone makes a flippant remark that hurts our feelings, when really we're stressed out about money, or health issues or something really big is looming on the horizon.  People deal with things they know and attack things that they can handle.

It's almost heartening to see my babies relate their illness to whether they're holding the exact spoon they wanted.  It's optimistic in a way.  It reminds me that this virus, as well as all things, will pass.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Moment of the Week - 7

One day, my babies decided they knew how to use spoons, and then, of course, promptly forgot.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Toddler Tricks - 7

Ways to trick your baby:

Problem:  As a parent, you need to keep your house in a somewhat orderly and clean fashion, and you also need to look after your toddlers at all times because as you clean the last mess they made, you can be sure they're off making the next one if they're not in your direct line of sight.

Solution:  Toddlers love to help.  Talk to them excitedly about what you're going to be doing.  Let them help by holding things or putting objects away for you.  Then, give them a turn to clean.

Ways your baby can trick you:

Problem:  Once you have your kids helping you, they'll find ways to fight, make you miserable and make every chore you're doing take at least three times as long.  They'll often interrupt your cleaning so that they can have their turn early.

Solution:  Give yourself less to do!  As long as you get one or two chores done a day, you'll be ahead of the game.  Alternately, save the tougher chores for naptime.  And, take heart.  In four or five years, your kids will be doing all of these chores for you on Saturday morning for five bucks.

Friday, October 1, 2010

The Morning Lineup

My toddlers know the PBS line up by heart because in this family, we wake up when the babies wake up, and that can be any time from 7 a.m. to 9:30 a.m.  We have a morning routine here.  We get dressed for the day, have a glass of milk, then the babies watch some quality programming while my husband and I eat breakfast, and he gets ready for work.  I'd like to go through these briefly, in the order in which they appear on our television screen on any given morning.

8:30 a.m. - The Cat and the Hat - I really dislike this show.  My babies disagree.  I often here them singing "go, go, go, go" which is the refrain to one of the songs, and the show never fails to keep them entertained.  I don't know why.  I find the animation rudimentary, the dialogue annoying, and the actor playing the voice of the Cat irritating.  Also, I don't expect the TV to teach my children anything, but, really, the lessons those two children learn with the Cat are just too stupid to merit review.  The babies would probably give it an 8 out of 10.  I give it a 1.

9 a.m. - Super Why - This show is about a boy and his fairytale friends who magically travel into books to find the answers to such pressing questions as: I want to keep my tooth from the toothfairy, and I want Little Bo Peep to stay and play with me.  I think my babies like this show because of the contrast in animation between the main characters (who are super colorful and multidimensional) to the animation in the stories in which they visit (which is a bit more drab and two dimensional - meant to look like pages in a book, I assume.)  The babies would probably give it a 7 out of 10.  I give it a 7, also.

9:30 a.m. - Dinosaur Train - This show is about a family of flying dinosaurs that go on adventures time-travelling through all the dinosaur history periods on a train.  The babies hate this one.  We switch to Nick which is playing Dora the Explorer if we need 9:30 a.m. entertainment.  I don't mind Dinosaur Train.  I find the landscapes interesting.  Babies: 1  Me: 5

10:00 a.m. - Sesame St.  I can always count on a full hour of silence if Sesame St. is on.  The problems I wrote about in my critique of the show in August hold no weight with the babies.  They love it.  They eat it up.  They sing the theme song, for heaven's sake.  Babies: 10  Me: 8

11:00 a.m. - Sid the Science Kid - Thank you, PBS, for changing your lineup to include Sid the Science Kid!  I think the subject matter is a bit too advanced for my babies, but they are entertained by the many songs throughout the show.  They also like that the show is repetitious.  The same types of things happen at the same times every show.  Many kids' shows do this, but with Sid the Science Kid, it really works well.  Babies: 8  Me: 9

11:30 a.m.  Word World - I love Word World.  I find myself watching along if this is playing on my screen.  I'm always curious as to how the animators are going to turn a word into the object it represents using the letters.  What a creative and awesome idea.  What loveable characters.  What great songs.  My kids like the show, too, although, if they're still watching TV at 11:30 in the morning, they're usually sick, or really cranky, or tired so they can't give it their full appreciation.  Usually we're outside by then.  Babies: 7  Me: 10

And there you have it.  Three hours of television shows I never thought I'd ever watch in my life.  I hope it helps you decide which one is right for your kid.


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