Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Friendly Reminders

Dear Ben,

Waiting for me to come get you in the morning is a very nice gesture.  I am thankful that you do this.  Just remember, while waiting in your room, if you happen to find a container of Vaseline, all of its contents do not go in your hair.  Even if you think it's wildly entertaining.  Stop yourself.



Dear Bex,

1 am to 3:30 am is NOT a full night's sleep.  Not even if you wake up happy.


Love, Mama

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Half Birthday

To my Biggest Little One,

It's been six whole months since you joined us.  Thank you, by the way, for deciding on the 17th to come out.  You were getting pretty big and it was hot.  In some ways, I'm in denial that my baby boy is already half a year old.  In other ways, I feel like you've been here forever.  You've definitely changed my perspective on raising an infant in your baby career so far.  I had the misunderstanding that I was genetically predisposed to give birth to angel children that slept on command and stayed in quiet-alert mode during their waking hours.  You don't do either and have all but ensured you will likely never be a middle child.


Sleep is getting more appealing to you.  You're only waking up two times a night, on average, and don't fight too hard when it's nap time.  This after months of sleepless nights, pacing the floor and bouncing gently for hours on end.  And by hours, I don't mean 30 minutes that felt like hours.  I mean from 1:30 to 6 am, every.single.night.  Your dad and I were even taking shifts until very recently.  I'd get the first half of the night, and he'd soothe you until the sun came up and longer.  You're welcome.  Luckily, you have the best smile in the world and when you flash it, I forget how tired I am and smile back.  You're all gums and cheeks and even your eyes smile when you're happy.  It's delicious.


 Your favorite toy is whatever I'm holding.  It's important to you that I'm within your reach at all times which I secretly love, even if I act put-out by it sometimes.  I think it's important for you to bond with your other family members so I share you with them often, but I can feel your stare, even when I'm not looking right at you.  I am your security blanket and am totally cool with this.  And prepared to be your roommate in college because the attachment is mutual.  I love my little Becky.  Oh, and by the way, I apologize for such an unfortunate nickname.  We didn't think this one through when we named you.

At six months, Ben is your hero.  You watch him like a hawk all day and lose your mind with excitement if he decides to play with you.  You smile, giggle, and kick your legs with glee.  Ben adores this and imitates you, which turns into its own little game.  He loves taking care of you.  He helps me give you medicine in the morning and burps you after a meal.  He insists on helping you take a bath and rubs lotion into your skin afterward.  If you're playing quietly by yourself and he notices you, he approaches you and says "Hi baby!" and always kisses you, complete with a "muah!" sound.  This makes you squeal with delight and makes me happier than you'll ever know.  You two already share such a special bond, just like I envisioned when he would pet you in my belly and you'd kick back.


You are rolling over, starting to sit on your own, and trying so, so hard to crawl.  I said you'd do it by the end of your 5th month, but I'm quite sure it'll happen by the end of the 6th.  And that could be my bad because I've slacked off on tummy time recently.  You are grabbing anything in your reach and love to type on my keyboard.  In fact, you have an uncanny ability to pull up my html editor and change my toolbar settings.  Already a computer nerd, you fit in quite well here.

The last six months have been exciting, educational, challenging and a total love fest, all at once.  Every day gets less hard and more fun and makes me look forward to what's next.  I love you to the moon and back, Pookie.  Happy six months!

Love, Mama

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Beware the Ides of March


We're all making this face today.  Sickness has made its way to Turner Place and we're all feeling the effects.  It started with Ben, of course.  He has a new fascination with hani-tizer (hand sanitizer) but apparently this wasn't enough to keep disease away.  And what fun would winter be without at least one episode of fever, sore throat and runny, runny noses?  So after a few days of Ben sniffling and sneaking sips out of Mama's sippy cup (read: Coke or sweet tea with a straw), Mama fell ill.  After a night of hallucinating, soaking my pillow in sweat, and losing the ability to swallow without wincing, I found myself at Urgent Care, getting lots of antibiotics, steroids and orders to sleep it off.  "Get some rest", the doctor says.  I answer with "I will", laughing on the inside.  Sure I will.  My kids will definitely allow that.

But thankfully, Jacob stayed home, under protest, so I could burn off the fever and let the drugs take over.  I woke up to Ben screaming his head off, taking his train table apart like Godzilla-Ben, Beckett sniffling and crying, and Jacob, pacing the floor, holding Beckett and making the same face I make when he gets home an hour late on a hard day. 

Oh, did I mention Daylight Savings Time screwed us up royally?  Whoever came up with the genius idea to manipulate the clock a couple times a year obviously didn't have kids.  Our first experience with this was our first night as parents.  Ben was born at 11 am and that night, we gained an hour.  I remember us thinking "Oh great, an extra hour we get to be awake".  On Saturday night, we lost an hour so the next day flew by, naps were all screwed up and complicated with sickness.  We're still trying to get back on track. 

Tonight I have a coffee table full of empty chinese food containers and prescription medication, a 2 year old sleeping in the middle of his floor, wearing the clothes he wore today and clutching a pair of shoes, and an infant who went to bed entirely too late and has been squirming around ever since.  Oh, and a messy kitchen, pile of laundry and a Tupperware container full of dirty diapers.  A shining moment in motherhood.  Looking forward to feeling better and having two snot-free children.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Ode to a Denim Jacket


When my sister was Ben's age, her uniform consisted of a dinosaur t-shirt and red shorts.  And it wasn't a girly shirt.  The dinosaur wasn't a famous cartoon character that had a name.  It wasn't smiling.  It was a screen print of a t-rex, with his little arms curled, mouth open, and standing under a very tiny sun.  I'm not sure how she came to own this terrible shirt, but she wore it every day for months and pitched a fit if it was unavailable.  The red shorts didn't match her "diney shirt", but they always went with it.  Strangers would smile at her and ask my mom how old her son was.

Ben's uniform is the denim jacket and jeans, his Canadian Tuxedo.  While shopping for winter clothing last fall, Ben spotted the jacket on a hanger in Target, pulled it off the rack, into the cart, and smiled.  This was the first time he'd ever expressed a preference for clothing, so I went with it.  I made sure he understood the fashion choice he was about to make and tried to talk him into something else, but without success.  He cradled the jacket throughout the whole store and proudly placed it on the checkout counter, taking personal responsibility for it.  And every day since then, cold weather or not, he's worn this stupid jacket.

I'll admit, it's pretty cute with a pair of khakis and a button-down shirt.  But when I try to explain to him that jeans AND the jacket is just too much denim, he brushes me off and insists it complete his ensemble.  Sometimes, I hide it so he forgets about it while he's getting dressed.  Up until now, I've had to put it on him.  But this week, Mimi taught him how to put it on all by himself.  So now he even wears it with pajamas.  I gave birth to a Canadian.

Since the denim jacket purchase, I've bought two other jackets.  Grammie bought one too.  He screams if you suggest he try any of them on, so the denim jacket it is.  I have a lot of anxiety about this summer and the jacket.  Just like the time my sister engaged in a battle of the wills over wearing her diney shirt to a wedding, I envision fighting Ben over wearing his jacket to the park on a 90 degree day.  But for now, I'll let it slide.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

B Squared Bathtime

When it's been raining for two days and you have two small, antsy kids looking to be entertained, bathtime will buy you at least 20 minutes of entertainment.  After that, you have to get creative.

Benny is a rockstar:

And a big brother:

And Beckett is happiest when wet and surrounded by bubbles:

Notice the hand positioning there.  Beckett found his "special purpose" and this makes him very happy.  You've got to love little boys.  We just said goodbye to Mimi and the Aunties after a four day spring break at Turner Place.  The guys had lots of fun, lots of pictures were taken, and I slept and slept and slept while enjoying 24/7 babysitting services.  And I might even be caught up.  Icing on the cake?  Beckett SLEPT THROUGH THE NIGHT!  And go figure, no voodoo was involved.  So there we are - at nearly six months, Beckett finally realized he might be tired after all.  Praise Jesus.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Natural Parenting Benny & Bex Style

Welcome to the March Carnival of Natural Parenting: Natural Parenting Top 10 Lists
This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have shared Top 10 lists on a wide variety of aspects of attachment parenting and natural living. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.
***
I am a natural parent.  I dig attachment theory.  I realize it's not a popular choice.  The term, in and of itself is so arrogant.  Natural Parenting?  Isn't all parenting "natural"?  Yeah, pretty much.  It's not better than any other style of parenting, it's just what works for us.  I don't dish out a lot of criticism when it comes to parenting styles.  Becoming a parent has helped me understand that everyone does their own thing, for one reason or another, but mostly because it works and that's okay.  I don't accept all Natural Parenting practices, however.  I fully vaccinate my children.  I let them watch more than the recommended amount of TV.  I don't subscribe to homeschooling.  And Ben knows exactly where we are when I pull through a McDonald's drive-thru.  But most of the practices make sense to us, so I define myself as such.

(1) I breastfeed.  Not for any noble reason, I'm not trying to make a statement.  The bond is amazing, and knowing that I put every fold on Beckett's chunky baby legs is definitely a bonus.  But it just seems easier.  This kid is still awake and ready to party every 2 to 3 hours, every night.  Getting out of my cozy bed to fix bottle after bottle just seems like unnecessary work. 

(2) Schedules don't work for us.  This has become increasingly apparent as my baby continues to resist sleeping through the night.  I've read all the books about creating predictability in an infant's schedule to get a "quiet-alert" baby who never cries and always smiles.  Beckett thinks this is garbage.  I do too.  After trying them (and failing miserably), I've decided we are too lazy for schedules.  We do better when I trust my mama intuition.  Being close to my kids all day long, I can tell when they are getting tired before they can.  And anyway, neither of them can tell time, so why bother with the clock?

(3) My kids are a fashion accessory.  Yeah, from time to time, I even wear my 28 month old.  Babywearing gives my kids the illusion that I am constantly hugging them, but gives me the flexibility to do things like laundry and errand running.  I gain an extra set of hands and they gain the security of being close to Mama.  And when we go places where strollers are inconvenient, Jacob can wear one, I can wear the other, and everyone is happy.  Easy-peasy.

(4) My baby has a fluffy bum.  I sort of cheat on this one, because my toddler wears disposable diapers.  I get a free pass however, because he has diagnosed sensory issues and hates the idea of cloth making his butt look fat in jeans.  Believe me, we've tried.  But I choose cloth for Beckett because it is easier for Team Turner.  No late night runs to the grocery store to pay double for a pack of diapers when you realize you just put the last one on your baby's bottom.  No diaper rashes.  And the biggest bonus - no leaks!  Well, assuming the diaper was put on correctly and not left on for hours.  I get the most criticism for this choice.  Everyone's first question: "What do you do with the poop?!"  You rinse it off, people, it's not a big deal.  The environmental-friendliness is another added perk.  Some will argue that the extra water consumption offsets this bonus.  Tell that to my February water bill - it's the cheapest it's been in over a year.

(5) We let our kids learn through experience.  I like to call it laissez-faire parenting.  I try not to intervene when they are exploring something new, or doing something that will probably result in a spill, a bump or a bruise.  This could also be a direct result of my laziness, but I'd like to think it's helping them understand cause and effect.  And of course, we do this one within reason.  We don't have bleach-drinking experiments to see what would happen.  But sometimes Ben needs to take a tumble off the coffee table to learn why we don't get up there routinely.

(6)  On a related note, we parent with positivity.  I hate the word "no".  Coincidentally, Ben hates it too, so we reserve it for dangerous, or really, really annoying behaviors.  This comes from the B.F. Skinner in me.  In college, I trained rats to do all kinds of unbelievable things with positive reinforcement.  Punishment didn't produce very strong desired behavior patterns and in fact, made my rats sort of aggressive.  Because I, like Skinner, believe that kids and fancy rats aren't all that different, I reject the idea of time out and taking dessert away.  Ben gets ridiculous amounts of praise for being awesome, and gets completely ignored for bad behavior.  It works for us, and it keeps my blood pressure at a manageable level.

(7) I haven't slept alone in over five months.  We have a crib.  In fact, we have two.  And Beckett will sleep in either one if I make him.  But since his first night home, he's been my official cuddle buddy.  When Ben was small, he also shared the bed.  Some of my favorite memories of his infancy were our late afternoon naps after I picked him up from Grammie's.  He insisted on lying behind me, facing my back, and played with my hair gently until we both fell asleep.  And go figure, the kid sleeps independently and through the night, ever since he moved into his own room.  I get the best of both worlds - bonding with my babies and eventually sending them off to their own space for uninterrupted sleep.  Added bonus: not getting out of bed to fetch Beckett for a nursing session.

(8) I didn't do this with Ben, but I intend on practicing "baby led weaning" with Beckett.  It's a different concept of helping kids explore solid food by eating whole foods in their natural form, not pureed.  Is there a lazy theme developing?  This one is quite controversial but makes perfect sense to me.  Our hunter-gatherer ancestors didn't have Cuisinarts or Gerber to rely on.  And somehow we persisted as a species.  After trying rice and oatmeal and failing miserably, we decided to ditch cereal altogether and introduce fruits and veggies when Beckett is ready. 

(9) Ben eats dirty Cheerios off the floor.  He has access to clean ones too, but I don't freak out if he eats one he found under the couch, plays in a muddy puddle, or puts another kid's toy in his mouth.  When Beckett's binkie "hits the deck", I inspect it for hair and dirt, wipe it off on my jeans, and pop it back in his mouth.  I know, totally disgusting, but I'm building antibodies.  I've been a disgusting parent since the beginning, but the only time my kids were ever sick was when day care was involved.  Eating a dusty Cheerio every now and then hasn't harmed Ben in the least, and he seems to be healthier because I allow exposure to things that aren't always sanitized.

(10) My kids have a stay at home mom.  I am always available to them, which makes all of this possible.  I spend all day, every day with them and know their moves before they make them.  I don't let them dictate how things are done, but I use their strengths, preferences and abilities to build a successful day.  If someone needs me at 3 am, I pull it together to be there and be nurturing in the process.  And I believe they are better because of it.

I didn't get the option of a natural childbirth.  So maybe my choice to be a "natural parent" is a way to make up for that.  Or maybe it is pure laziness.  I don't push the NP agenda.  But it's what we do and it's what works for us, and that's okay.

***
Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:
(This list will be live and updated by afternoon March 8 with all the carnival links.)

Friday, March 4, 2011

Milestones


Yeah, that contained five ounces before Beckett got to it.  Turns out, the key to getting a stubborn boobie-addict to take a bottle is NOT maple syrup, it's kicking the boobs out of the house.  I pumped, went out for two hours, and came home to a sleeping baby and an almost empty bottle.  Thanks to Jenny for the bottle suggestion.  And for telling me I needed to leave the house - it worked!  Phase one is complete: the kid takes the bottle.  Phase two involves Dad fixing a middle-of-the-night bottle for Beckett and feeding him  Another challenge begins.

Another set of milestones occurred at Turner Place this week too.  This one, however, gave me actual heart palpitations.  After 28 months of rear facing in his car seat, we turned Ben around.  His seat cover needed a spin in the washing machine, and as I was inspecting it to figure out how it comes off, I realized he actually exceeded the rear-facing weight limit by more than a few pounds.  Whoops.  Turning him around made me feel uneasy at first, but it's turned out to be kinda cool to look back and see his little face smiling and watching the world out his window.  And Jacob, who has been fighting me on this extended rear facing thing is much happier to be able to move his seat back if he wants to.

Not sure about this forward facing business:


But wait, there's more!  The same day that Ben flipped forward, Beckett got his very own big boy car seat.  Beckett "The Mammoth" Turner was reaching the weight and height limit on the infant seat at a young five months.  He got the identical seat that Ben has, and actually enjoys riding in the car now.  His screaming fits while riding in the car may have actually been related to being uncomfortable in his baby seat after all - go figure. 

Totally into the big boy seat:


My babies are growing up.  The palpitations were a direct result of realizing that this Mama thing is going by way too fast for my comfort.  Pretty soon, B Squared will be racing to the car yelling "shotgun!" or better yet, be asking for the keys.  Ugh!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Sleeping Like a Baby


Whoever came up with that one obviously never lived with Beckett.  I'm putting it in the same category as the term "morning sickness", like being nauseous and throwing up into the nearest available container only happens when you first wake up.  It's all BS.

March 1st means Beckett is five and a half months.  The same age Ben was when he had been in his room for nearly two months, "sleeping like a baby".  He cut out his night wakings at this stage and while I realize we were ridiculously lucky with him, we are equally unlucky now.  Beckett still wakes almost as often as he did when he was brand new.  I feel like I've been really patient with this but I'm ready to move on.  In a desperate effort to at least reduce our awake hours at night, I started reading books about scheduling naps and bedtime.  I am not a schedule person normally.  I don't like structuring my day so rigidly that I'm boxed in.  We have naptimes during the day, but they fluctuate with whatever is going on at the time.  Bedtime is always negotiable.  And this has always worked for us with Ben.  I'm realizing now that screwing with a child's schedule and still having them look forward to putting on their jammies and jumping into bed, no matter what time, is pretty much a miracle.

So these books say to put your baby to bed before they know they're tired, and do it at roughly the same time every day.  They also encourage bedtime by 6:30 or 7:00.  In this house, Dad still isn't home for at least another hour.  All of this goes against my mama intuition, but being desperate, exhausted, and over it, we've tried what the books say.  And guess what?  It's gotten WORSE.  One of the books say sleep begets sleep.  With Beckett, sleep begets enough energy to stay up all night and party like it's 1999.  So after a couple of weeks, I'm back to the drawing board.

After my last blog, I got a lot of creative tips on how to get baby to take the bottle so Jacob can feed him and I can sleep some.  Within 24 hours of the post, I pumped, ran to the store and bought a new brand of bottle, and even put a little bit of maple syrup on the nipple so he'd have an incentive.  While he was definitely interested in the maple syrup and licked it all up, he still knew the fancy bottle wasn't Mama and rejected it.  Another tip we've yet to really push is Jacob giving him the bottle while I'm not home.  This one doesn't come up a lot but we're going to make a deliberate effort soon.  I haven't slept more than three consecutive hours in over six months.  I'm willing to try anything!

In other news... I'm participating in another Natural Parenting carnival event this month.  The random, declarative post on family help with all those links at the bottom was my first contribution.  In the rare moments of free time I've had over the last few months, I've been reading lots of mama blogs and found a group of them I really enjoy.  And every month, this group gets together on a predetermined topic and posts the same day.  March's post comes up next Tuesday so check it out, and if you're interested, check out some of the others in the links I post.  This group has a lot of fantastic mama-writers, and I've become addicted to many of their blogs as a result.  To keep you busy till next Tuesday, you can check out the hosts' pages: Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama.