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Monthly Archives: July 2013

Mirrors

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I remember the first time I heard Nora sigh in utter and complete exasperation at something that I said or did that frustrated her.  It caught me completely off guard.  Not because of the anger that I heard pulsating behind it, but because I heard, without a doubt, a reflection of myself.

I do that.  And once I heard it from my daughter, I started realizing how often I do it.  I didn’t like hearing it from my little girl and now when I catch myself doing it, it bothers me as well.  I am trying to be more conscious of how I act and what I say in front of my kids because they will inevitably learn from my behaviors, bad and good.

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This morning I was thinking about the issue with hitting that we have going on in our house right now.  I am not sure how kids learn to hit as a way to express their anger.  Meredith obviously picked it up from her older sister, but where did Nora get it?  We don’t hit each other in this family and have never spanked.  To my knowledge, Dora has never hit Boots and the gang on Mickey Mouse generally get along.  I don’t let them watch much more than those basic shows, so I don’t think they got it there.  But, still it is a problem in this house.  That and lying.

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Discipline is hard.  Nora often hits her sister and denies it when asked.  She then gets in trouble for lying on top of the hitting, but when she tells the truth she still gets in trouble for hitting, so she often still lies.  I try to get her to tell me the truth, but that can’t mean no punishment because then she says the following: “Mommy, I hit Mersie, but I said sorry and told you the truth.”  It’s hard to explain to a three year old that saying sorry and telling the truth are both good, but they don’t automatically make up for the bad behavior.

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And, I will tell you this… three year old’s ask some tough questions, so explaining some of this stuff is not the easiest.  I am trying my best to be a good role model and to give her positive feedback when her behavior is good, so that hopefully will start to reinforce expectations and ultimately teach and change behavior.  I am optimistic that preschool this Fall will also be helpful with these types of lessons.  But, it is exhausting.  Behavior is hard to teach and influence… in my kids and in myself.

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It’s The Little Things

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As a parent, you find yourself extremely grateful for the small things that you discover actually make your life immensely easier.  With that in mind, I thought I would share the following tip.

We received some of those little snack traps at one of our baby showers.  I have never used them for their intended purpose as my kids hands got stuck and they weren’t easy for them to use.  And as a result, the little cheerios (or whatever) always ended up all over the floor anyway.

But, my husband in one of his rare moments of brilliance, decided on a whim to try it as a holder for a juice box.

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Juice boxes are a huge pain because no matter what you do, the little hands seem to manage to squeeze and spill the juice all over the place.  They sell holders that are specifically designed to help with this problem, but if you look them up and read reviews, you will find that while they help a little, they are still able to be squeezed and do not really solve the problem.

The beauty of the snack trap is that it is round and hard, so it doesn’t squeeze the juice box at all.  Plus it has handles which are really easy for your toddler to hold on to.  The rubber lid fits the juice box perfectly and keeps it snug so it doesn’t fall out on it’s own.  My kids think these things are made for this purpose and put their own juice boxes into the holders and everything.  Rarely do we have juice box spills.

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So go buy some snack traps.

You are welcome.

Pacifier Addict

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Both of my kids used pacifiers.  I got rid of Nora’s around 21 months of age.  It was relatively uneventful.  We tossed them, she asked for them that night, but once we reminded her that they were gone, she didn’t really ask again.  I remember it took a couple days for her to relearn how to fall asleep without that comfort item, but she didn’t cry and overall surprised me with how well she did.

Meredith is another story all together.  She is a full fledged, all out, pacifier addict.

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Please note how many she is holding in her hands.

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And because she is an addict, I feel like taking them away today is going to be a lot like an intervention.  And I anticipate a battle.

The following has been the plan so far: (And yes, I am embarrassed that the plan is this in depth.)

– Located all stray pacifiers this morning after she woke up and got rid of them.

– Took Meredith to Build A Bear, where she picked out a bunny.  I then told her that we were going to put one of her paci’s inside the bunny to keep it safe as a memory, but that we weren’t going to use them anymore.  (Part of me won’t be surprised to find this bunny torn apart come morning.)

– Came home, attempted nap.  Screaming and crying ensued.  There was no nap.

– The paci fairy also came while Meredith was in her bath, bringing her a new night time story book and some new spoons.  (She is obsessed with holding spoons, they are her comfort item of choice after the pacifier.)

We are about to attempt bedtime and I will fully admit that I am terrified about how this is going to go.  I love Meredith’s feisty nature, but I know that when she commits to something, her stubbornness and temper are a force to be reckoned with.

Wish us luck.

Shades of Grey

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Parenting is not black and white.  I will say that again.  Parenting is not black and white.  This doesn’t stop people from talking about it like it is though.

Let’s take the subject of sleeping for example.

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There is so much to consider here.  Can you use crib bumpers?  Should you use breathable bumpers?  Should you co-sleep?  Will co-sleeping lead to suffocation of your baby?  How do you keep your baby on his/her back like they are supposed to be?  What if they sleep better on their bellies?  If I make the wrong choices am I a bad parent?

Personally, I don’t understand co-sleeping.  This isn’t to say I haven’t done it.  My youngest ended up in bed with me nightly from about 10 months old until she was about a year and a half.  I don’t sleep well when my children are in bed with me.  I love cuddling with them in the morning, but not during the night.  I am a light sleeper and get hot too easily and they move around like they are trying to do an aerobic workout.  I don’t consider us a co-sleeping family, but if it works for you… that is for you to decide regardless of my feelings about it.

I also (gasp) let Meredith nap on her belly from the beginning.

Breastfeeding (and feeding in general) is another great example.  “Breast is best.”  If you don’t breastfeed your baby, he/she is going to get every illness known to man.  If you give your child solid food before 6 months, he/she will become obese.  If you just try hard enough, your milk will come.  If you don’t breastfeed, you have failed your child.

I will start by saying that I am pro-breastfeeding.  I wanted to breastfeed.  I tried to breastfeed with Nora.  It wasn’t in the cards for us.  For the first month of Nora’s life we nursed, she lost weight, I supplemented, I pumped, we both cried.  There was absolutely nothing positive about the experience for either one of us.  And so after a month of trying and still only getting 1-2 ounces of milk per day, I decided to push past the guilt I was feeling because of all of the pressure to make it work and I made the decision that ended up being the right one for us.

It turns out that was formula.

We both started enjoying feeding time, I could soak in all that wonderful baby goodness.  My husband could share in that experience.  We both cried less.  And shock of all shocks… she is healthy.  She is actually healthier than a lot of my friend’s kids who have been exclusively breast fed according to all of the “rules”.

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My happy and healthy formula fed baby.

With Meredith, I didn’t even try and her newborn days were so peaceful because of it.  And she is extremely healthy too, by the way.  I am secure in the knowledge that this was ultimately the right decision for us.  Would I have loved for my milk production to have been enough to even supplement the girl’s formula intake?  Absolutely.  But it wasn’t what ended up working for us.  I am okay with that, but the hormonal new mother of a few years ago could have done without the societal pressure that made me feel like I was failing my kids for making the decision that I made.

I could go on…

Store bought baby food versus making your own?  Should children watch TV?  And if so, how much?  Cry it out?  Don’t cry it out?  Baby led weaning?  Pacifiers?  Etc, etc, etc…

My point is that there are multiple sides to every argument and making decisions as a parent is hard enough without everyone telling you that you are doing it wrong or they would do it differently.  I have some very strong opinions about some of these topics that have people polarized about what is the correct thing to do.  And I will happily defend my position on those things.  But, I really try to stay away from presenting my arguments in a way that make it seem like someone who disagrees with me is a bad parent because they are doing things in a different way.

We are all just figuring things out.  I firmly believe that we need to trust our instincts as parents.  And “listen” to your kids.  Are they happy?  Are they healthy?  Do they laugh?  Do they love?  Do they learn?  If you can say yes to these questions, you are doing a pretty darn good job.

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Daily Reminder

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Daily Reminder

I try to remember this every day – some days are easier than others, but it is always a good goal to have.

Do It By Myself!

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Two year old’s are very independent creatures.  I remember when Nora was 2, going on 3, all we heard was “I want to do it my own self!”  And she did.  When she decides she is ready to learn something, she will do it again and again until she masters it.

She became a master at puzzles.

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She became quite independent in Teddy Bear gymnastics.

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She learned to completely dress and undress herself early on and has now mastered her shoes, zippers and letter recognition.  She is even starting to write her name with decent clarity.  I am such a proud Mama.  I could go on and on, but I won’t… all parents think our children are pretty spectacular.

Honestly though, she has accomplished what she has because she has insisted upon it.  And as parents, we have obeyed her orders to “do it her own self” and let her.  Sometimes this can be really hard to do as a parent.  It is REALLY hard to watch your kid climb tall things when you are so afraid they will fall.  And it is REALLY hard to sit there for the 10 minutes it can sometimes take to let your child attempt to zip her own zipper when all you really want to do is get out the door.

Developmentally, this desire to learn new things and grow in our independence never stops, it just changes it’s appearance as we grow.  But, I feel like this toddler age is when we are the most vocal about it… at least until the teenage years.  Meredith is in the height of her demands for independence.  Her go-to phrases are “Do it by myself!” and “No, don’t help me!”

A few months ago she became determined to learn to put on her own pants.

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She was so excited she did it, that I didn’t have the heart to tell her they were backwards.

Sometimes I get a little taken back by the fierceness with which Meredith demands her independence.  And heaven help me if I go ahead and help her anyway.  That will only set things back as she will start completely all over doing it all on her own.  Sometimes I have to wait her out for quite a bit before she will take a suggestion from me or allow me to help with something she just hasn’t gotten yet.

When we had Nora’s interview for preschool, she was just learning to zip her coat and her soon to be teacher praised us when she saw that we encouraged her to try a few times on her own before assisting when she got it latched but couldn’t get it to pull.  She said that she rarely sees parents take that time to let the kid try that sort of skill for themselves.

Honestly, I have never really had a choice.  My kids crave this kind of independence and in doing that they have taught me how to be a better and (grudgingly) more patient mother.  And this happens to be one of things my husband is really good at, which helps to keep me in check.  But, I have also come to the conclusion that the toddler demands to “do it by myself” are a necessary part of their growth.  I think they need to ask for it and as adults we need them to remind us to hear it.

Bucket List

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The general idea of having a bucket list overwhelms me.  It makes me feel all kinds of pressure to get things crossed off of it, which is not exactly the point.  So, I don’t really have one.  But, I do have a couple things that are “must haves” for my life.  Things that are really important to me and I will be sad if my life doesn’t include them.

1) Have children/be a parent.  This one has obviously already happened and for that I am grateful.  It has been first on the list for as long as I can remember and it still is, even as I live it.

2) Go on my honeymoon.  My husband and I wanted to go to Tahiti and it was my dream to stay in one of those over the water huts, even before it became “trendy” to do that for your honeymoon.  We were too poor and Dave was in law school when we got married, so we never got a honeymoon.  Hopefully, we can pull it off eventually.

3) Go to Greece.  There are a lot of places I would love to see in this world, but Greece has always been on the top of my list and continues to be my #1 desired destination spot.  If I could combine this one with #2, I could live without the official Tahiti honeymoon, but I want to see Greece before I die.

And that is really it.  There are other things that would be nice to have in life – a paid off house or an early retirement for example, but those are just icing on the cake.

My bucket list for my girls is much longer.  There is SO much that I want them to experience, with and without me.  It is amazing how with parenthood comes the true unconditional desire for them to experience more and to be happier than you even hoped to be yourself.  Some things I could list out for you easily, but others I don’t even know I want for them until after they happen.  Seeing them smile and live, makes me smile and live.  It’s that simple.

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