knowing yourself

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“Night night.”

Anyone who’s hung out with Etta knows what those words mean. She is D-O-N-E. When she comes over to me, wherever we are– zoo, story time, splash pad– and says “mama, night night,” I pack it in and we jet. Because apparently, my tiny tot knows herself well, and she lets me know when she’s reached the point of needing to get home and get to bed for a nap ASAP. Continue reading

Screw You, “British Nanny,” I let my kids choose their sippy cups

Society isn't in crisis just because I let this kid choose this Elmo cup (and her outfit).

Society isn’t in crisis just because I let this kid choose this Elmo cup (and her outfit).

At this point, everyone who knows anyone with a kid has likely seen the latest viral parenting piece from a “British Nanny” letting us know 5 Reasons Parenting is in a Crisis. Most of them left me with that record-scratch sound playing in my head.

For one thing, I’m an ACTUAL PARENT, and I’m not here to tell you a bulleted list of how to raise your kids. Because if twins have taught me anything, it’s that every kid is different, and every parent is different, and only you know what is best for your child. We’re all just doing the best we can here, and my biggest takeaway in two years has been that we all need a little more grace and a lot more help.

But for another, what really bothered me the most is that Emma, the aforementioned Nanny, characterizes every interaction between parent and child as a power struggle, one in which parental will must be exerted at all costs, lest children get the idea that they “are in charge here.” Continue reading

a toddler tv glossary

20140714-083608-30968029.jpgIn order to write this post, I have to first give up the charade that my kids don’t watch tv. I had lofty goals of no screen time til two, but caved around 18 months, and haven’t looked back. They aren’t glued to the TV all day, but my kids watch something every day. I have two year old twins. If we want to eat, they will likely have to watch a show while I cook dinner. I have amassed a small collection of Disney DVDs I don’t hate, and the girls have come up with their own names for them. Slowly, I have figured out what they mean.

BEES!: A Bug’s Life. All bugs are bees. I have long ago stopped freaking out when my kids shout about a bee in their presence. It’s probably a fly.

BINGERBELL!: Any of the 5 Tinkerbell movies. It could also be Tangled, which my girls seem to think is about Tinkerbell in desperate need of a trip to the salon. “She needs haircut,” Claire says. You figure out which movie they mean. Good luck.

TOYS!: Toy Story 1 or 2. Whichever one you’re least tired of at the time. Eventually I need to add Toy Story 3 to the rotation, but I’m putting it off because it makes me ugly cry.

The Bear Movie: Brave. I’m pretty sure Claire actually roots for the big scary bears in this film– perhaps because, since we always call her Bear Bear, she thinks she’s one of them.

BEARS!: Brother Bear. Do not mistake a request to watch Brave with a request for Brother Bear, or you will regret it.

Anna Movie: Frozen. I have the only kids in the world who think Anna is the cooler character, here.

Monsters: Monsters Inc. The only movie Etta ever wants to watch, and, coincidentally, one that makes Claire actually shake with fear and say “no, Monsters, no!” Etta loves Monsters. She draws them, paints them, enjoys drinking out of a sippy cup emblazoned with them, and talks about them all the time, sometimes while growling like one.

MOUSE!: Ratatouille. Don’t think for a second that enjoyment of this film will make your toddlers want to eat ratatouille, though.

EMO!: Finding Nemo. Sometimes I mute it and just leave the DVD menu on the screen like some kind of pretty screensaver. I like to imagine Emo is a spinoff about Dory and Marlin’s future child, who has a real melancholy streak, a garage band, and a collection of rare Dashboard Confessional bootlegs.

What about you– do any of your kids have funny names for favorite movies or characters?

 

pixie dust and sippy cups

tinkerbell cup

I feel like when my kids are supposed to switch from various bottles and cups to the next level is one of those lessons I missed in mom school. Bottles to soft sippies, soft sippies to straws, straws to ?? I don’t even know. I eventually got the vague idea that I needed to get them off of the bottles and onto sippy cups because otherwise their teeth would be jacked up, and so we did that somewhere around age one. Except that after that, Etta would ONLY drink from a very particular Nuk soft sippy cup, and Claire would drink anything out of anything except milk NEEDED to be drunk from a baby bottle. And since milk was such a key part of our bedtime routine, since it worked SO WELL to get them sleepy and since I am so utterly lazy, I decided not to fight it. They won’t go to college drinking out of baby bottles, right?  Continue reading

leveling up

I regret not a single minute of this.

I regret not a single minute of this.

For two years and two months, Claire has been snuggled, held, and rocked to sleep. For 19 months of that time, Etta was rocked or bounced to sleep, herself. This could take up to an hour. Sometimes it got annoying– especially after a tough day, sometimes I didn’t feel like the long ordeal. Sometimes, like just last week, my husband and I would talk about maybe it being time to do some sort of sleep training, something anyone who has ever had kids has had strangers recommend, but something I had always resisted. And I resisted because the annoyance was only a rare sometimes. Mostly? Mostly I loved the snuggly ritual of helping my sweet small ones transition from awake to sleep, feeling them grow heavy in my arms, hearing their breaths grow longer, watching their eyelids close. Mostly because I know I’m not allowed to birth any more babies, I felt no need to rush one of the last vestiges of my only babyhood away. I figured eventually, they wouldn’t need me to rock them to sleep, and that when that day arrived, they’d let me know.
And they did. Continue reading

not pictured

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When I was pregnant with twins, I didn’t read a bunch of books about twin pregnancy and what to expect (I read exactly one, followed its diet like the bible, and for the record, credit it with 6 lb twins at nearly 35 weeks gestation). I figured, for the most part, I didn’t need to know what to expect. And if questions came up, I could ask my doctor husband or my actual doctor– it was a good strategy. Instead, I was already worried about raising twins, about how I would make sure they felt valued and loved as individuals, and not a pair, about how I would ensure I had a strong, unique relationship with each. I knew from the start that any efforts at “equality” would be doomed, moreso after one of our kids was diagnosed with Spina Bifida– as a friend said in her LTYM talk, motherhood is inherently a Marxist enterprise, and we parent each according to their needs (at the moment). Comparison would only be the thief of joy, so I would have to accept that perfect equality between what I give to each of my girls at any given moment would just not be possible.

But dangit, that doesn’t mean that two years later I don’t sometimes find myself feeling guilty for any perceived inequalities. Continue reading

toddler beds and going with my gut

Here’s the big secret no one tells you about parenting: we’re all winging it. But the bigger secret is: that seems to work beautifully most of the time. Before I had kids, I was worried about my maternal instincts. I wasn’t sure I had what it takes, wasn’t sure things would kick in like they should. Now, I’m not so sure I believe in maternal instinct so much as this: I spend more time with my children than I have ever spent with anyone except myself, thus, I know them almost as well as I know myself. I sense things about them. It sometimes seems like outright ESP, but the reality is, I pick up on even their tiniest signals, because I am with them all. the. time. And when you know someone that well, you do more than just finish each other’s sentences– you anticipate each other’s moods, needs, etc.

This was proven again recently when, upon hearing my girls one morning, just woken up across the hall from us, babbling and giggling to each other across the room in their cribs, I thought, “These kids are ready for toddler beds. I bet they’d like to get up and play and cuddle and chat with each other in the mornings, instead of being trapped in their cribs.” So, that day, my husband and I took a side off of each crib and put up the toddler rail, and just like that, our babies (aged 19 months) had toddler beds.

It has been amazing. They LOVE their big girl beds, and I am so glad I trusted my gut. Etta, who was bounced to sleep in her Baby Bjorn bouncer for every nap and night of her 19 months, gave up the bouncer and now goes awake into her bed and falls asleep there. Claire, who has been held and cuddled to sleep for every night of her 19 months…well, she would still prefer to be held, but she goes drowsy but awake into her bed without too much protest most of the time. (Except the last couple nights, in which she has been a bear whether held or placed in bed. I’m blaming teeth.) And in the mornings and after naps? Most of the time this crazy thing happens where they wake up and either wind up hanging out together in one bed, or they get up and play for anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour. As I write this post, Etta has been down for a nap, and though she woke up an hour ago, I’ve been listening to her talk, sing, and play for an entire hour. (Though, for the sake of honesty, this morning they woke up and immediately began a full on brawl over the same blue stuffed monkey.)

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After I heard them giggling and chatting, I went in and found them both hanging out in Claire’s bed.

Like any baby milestone, part of me is a little wistful and sad, because no more cribs is just another step out of babyhood. But, as with most things, the new step has been so positive, has been such an opportunity to see them growing and becoming themselves, that I feel excited and happy that I get to be here witnessing it. They were ready, so we did it. I am so very glad.

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What their room looks like now with big girl beds.