Wednesday, February 29, 2012

"Raising Up Bebe": Parenting 101

Have you seen the new book "Raising Up Bebe" on like every show on TV lately? The author is Pamela Druckerman, an American journalist who moved to France and is raising her children there. She wrote the book to contrast the differences between French and American parenting. She, herself, has taken lessons from the French in the ways that they raise their children. In her television interviews, she has mentioned two of the most important lessons she has learned so far.
One of them was getting your child to try new foods and eat a variety of foods. She said the French motto is:
You don’t have to eat everything, you just have to taste it.

This seems like common sense, right? I know Bailey would probably prefer to just eat junk food, but we don't give her the choice {Because we are the parents and we buy the food...}. So in turn, she loves fruit and generally likes vegetables. With new foods, we offer her a bite. We don't chastise her if she spits it out the first few times she tries it. Is this really a French thing? If you only fed your kids what they prefer at the age of 2, wouldn't everyone grow up eating only pasta and chicken nuggets?

The next teachable idea is that of babies and sleep. According to Druckerman, French babies are sleeping through the night by 2-3 months of age. The French believe you can teach your baby to trust its own sleep cycles and begin to soothe itself. Druckerman said that the French were horrified by the idea of American parents sleep training their children at 9 months by letting them "cry it out."   

The subject of babies and sleep seems a bit touchy with American moms. I have been told many times over that we must be "lucky" because our kids slept through the night at a young age. {Bailey was sleeping through the night at 11 weeks, and Avery even sooner at 8 weeks.}

Now I know every baby is different, and some kids are just plain challenging - some parents have one child that slept well and the other that won't, but is it really just luck? So many people have told us about their 10, 11, 12 month-old kids that are still waking up frequently during the night. Someone was even explaining to Jared that she gets up and feeds her 18 month-old two or more times every night! I am sorry, that is just ridiculous. No perfectly healthy 18 month-old is truly hungry at midnight and again at 3 AM.... unless you made him that way. 

And maybe that is the key.

Everyone knows that babies are smart, manipulative little beings. They cry to communicate and eventually, when they are older, to get what they want. They like routine. If you always run in right away to get your child the second they make a peep, they aren't just going to stop doing it out of the blue once they hit a certain age. It's their routine: I wake up, I cry, Mom gets out of bed to pick me up, I get a bottle, I go back to sleep. It's not about whether they need it or not, it's what they have come to expect. If your baby has had a chance to figure it out on their own, it might be more like this: I wake up, it's still night-time, I go back to sleep. (Obviously not applying to newborns.)

And before anyone points it out, I am not parenting expert.

But it makes sense, right? I don't think it is so much a French thing - it's a common sense thing. You see it everyday in the grocery store: some 4 year old is telling his mom what he will or won't eat. He is throwing a fit for something and his mom finally just gives in.  Who is in charge again? I think most people can agree that they see this over and over: children calling the shots. And the reason kids are doing this is because they are allowed to. Because in a child's mind if a tantrum worked once, it will probably work again, and again, and again....

When we grew up, I knew who was in charge (the wooden spoon was my mom was.) When we went to the store (which was hardly ever if she could help it), we didn't each get a toy for being good; we were expected to be good. We didn't get to go to bed whenever we felt like it; we had a bedtime and it was enforced. We didn't get paid to do chores around the house; they were expected of us as a member of the family. My parents weren't really strict, they just had rules and we knew they were to be followed.

And my point is that rules are good. Kids know how to act when they know what the rules are. And just because your household has rules doesn't mean your kids aren't having any fun or are having less of a childhood. It just means less tantrums, more mental stability for Mommy, and less of a need to fill that Xanax prescription.

So is it that the French have developed some new parenting techniques or is it that we just forgot them along the way?

Saturday, February 25, 2012

worry in the 21st century

When you become a mom, you know you are signing on for a lot of things. There are the usual things: diaper changings, lack of sleep, whining, a tighter budget, less free time... the list could go on and on. What I didn't necessarily expect was the worry.

I was a worrier before (although no one has a thing on my sister Catrina, who is the queen of worrying.) but being a parent takes it to a whole new level. Now you actually have a real, valid reason to worry. I remember my mom saying that to me before I had kids, that I will worry for the rest of my life once I have a child. And she was right... again.

When you bring that new baby home from the hospital, worry takes a front seat. I remember the first night at home with Bailey. She was fed, clean, and happy. She was already asleep when I went to lay her down. After about one minute of laying in her crib, she was wide awake. We tried everything. I kept replaying the nurses' voices in my head going over all the baby no-no's to prevent SIDS: Put her on her back. Don't put a blanket over her. Don't swaddle her. After one sleepless night filled with crying, both Jared and I said screw it. We swaddled her in a wrap and it worked like magic. But every time she slept later than normal, I always thought to myself: "Oh my God, I hope she is still breathing." And regardless of Bailey turning out alive and well, I still did/do the same thing with Avery. And I think these are normal thoughts - or at least I am going to pretend they are for my own sake.

Lately when I think about our girls and the future, I have been worrying about how different our world is from the one I grew up in. And not to be a huge downer (spoiler alert: I am), but I am not sure it is a change for the better. There is such a focus on technology now, and I think it has come at the expense of relationships.

Obviously I have a computer and the Internet to be writing this blog. I have a cell phone (although it is not "smart" in any sense of the word). We have DVR on our flatscreen tv. Jared has an Ipad. I have a Facebook account. I am not against technology, I just don't really like how people have changed because of it, myself included.

How many times in the last week have you been having a conversation with someone and they stop paying attention to you to send a text or check Facebook? So annoying! People are so often worried about "staying in touch" with other people that they ignore the real life human being standing right in front of them. Or when you go out to dinner with friends and watch them mess with their phones or check their email continually: Is being "disconnected" for one hour really all that hard?

I have a love/hate relationship with Jared's Ipad {which he is more than aware of and comments on whenever I say that I wish we didn't have one and then log onto it the next day}. Obviously it's a genius invention. But if I am at home with the girls by myself and the Ipad is here, the thought to sit and log on to it is tempting. And once you are on it, it can sometimes be hard to stop. Friends are inviting you to play games, you can browse anywhere on the Internet, there are so many apps out there you can do just about anything. It's addicting.

But I don't want to be more checked into Facebook or my phone than my own life.

After the girls are fed and changed and happy, I want to spend my time with them reading books or playing farm or dancing to music - not always reading up on what my Facebook friends are doing this exact minute.  If I meet up with a friend, I want to spend the time talking {and most likely eating} - not watching them play with their phone. If I am at a concert, I want to be enjoying the concert - not updating my status every 10 minutes to let everyone what an awesome time I am having.

*Sigh* ... Life used to be so much simpler...

I want my kids to know the difference between having Facebook friends and having friends. I want them to have the kind of active childhood I had: building forts, going on bike rides to Grandma's house, exploring outside, staying up late at slumber parties, swimming all summer long...

I want them to experience their lives - not just text about it.

And for that to happen, I need to do it, too. I need to be the kind of mom who shows them balance. The kind of mom who can log onto the computer without being a slave to it. The kind of mom who would rather go to the park with her kids than stay inside watching tv. The kind of mom who listens and gives 100% of her attention when her kids ask for it.

 I am going to try my best to be up for the challenge.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Bailey Boo turns two

This past Sunday we celebrated Bailey's 2nd birthday. Jared's mom flew in from Loveland for an extended weekend and my sisters, parents and grandparents were here for the day as well.

Bailey was wearing an adorable new dress Grandma Cathy bought her. (Which was great because I hadn't put much any thought into what she would be wearing.) Avery was also strutting her stuff in another Grandma Cathy purchase.

{Grandma Cathy definitely likes to shop and she does it well.}

We were even able to get a family photo with neither child crying. And they were even smiling!
It was miraculous!

Bailey has definitely made progress since Christmas a few months back. She was tearing into the presents with gusto, even if it did require some concentration.

When it was time for the cakes {yes, plural - we like cake!}, she was a little less sure. Well truthfully, she was all about the cake, it was more of the singing that was throwing her off. She seemed a bit terrified actually, and I don't really think our voices were all that bad!  But once we started to sing "Happy Birthday" a second time, she got into the spirit and started clapping along. We will have to work on the whole blowing-out-the-candles thing for next year's party though.

{Blowing kisses to blow out her candles}

All in all it was a great day. Lots of food, family, and laughs. Cathy even got to experience my dad's Pictionary domination. (And if you know my dad at all, you would know that is a complete lie and that it usually takes him the entire allotted time to just draw a stick figure... But it's okay, Dad. You have shown real progress!)

And best of all, Bailey's family got to see her turn FIVE! two!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Two Years Ago Today...

... I was almost 36 weeks pregnant. I climbed in bed after a long day of doctors appointments and BLS renewal (with no chairs to sit at and CPR done on the floor, mind you).  Before going to sleep I said to Jared in amazement, "Isn't it crazy that we will be parents in 3 weeks??"

Umm.... Make that about 3 hours.

My water broke not even half an hour after I laid down. {And when I say "it broke" I mean it broke! This wasn't a trickle; it was like someone popped a water balloon on top of me...} It happened so fast and so completely that I screamed and jumped out of bed as fast as any large pregnant woman can. Poor Jared was a little shocked but he composed himself quickly. We randomly threw things in a bag (lesson learned: pack early) and drove to the hospital.

At 2:21 AM, our little breech baby entered the world via c-section. And I know it sounds cliché, but our lives changed permanently in the wee hours of February 19th, 2010. (Granted, I couldn't really tell until about 24 hours later when the morphine cloud cleared, but I do know it happened!)

Bailey has taught us a lot about parenting and love and life in general.

Jared has developed 10 times more patience than I ever thought he was capable of [Hello ADHD]. And I have surprised myself, too. I more easily let go of the little things that don't matter and try not to worry about what I cannot control.

And because of Bailey we know just how wonderful a kiss from your child feels and exactly how embarrassing a temper-tantrum meltdown is in front of strangers. We know how hard it is to watch your baby be wheeled away into surgery and how funny a poop explosion is after the clean-up (and fyi: it can be extra funny if it ends up on a germaphobic relative.)

It's amazing how much a person can learn in just two short years... 

Thank you, Bailey, for all that you have taught us.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

February 14th .....   Valentine's Day....

Honestly, I'm just not that into it. Never have been. It's probably a bigger day for those people without valentines; an extra special day to remind them that they don't have a significant other to speak of. I know I probably seem particularly bitter or something - I'm not. I just don't buy into the commercial-ness of it. I would much rather receive flowers on a random Thursday than get them on Valentine's Day. {Not that I would protest or anything if I got some!}

Jared and I have been together for nearly 7 years now. Some days it seems like it was just yesterday and some days it feels like we have been married going on 60 years. {Married people: you know what I am talking about.} Love is different than it is in the beginning. It grows and changes like all of us. It isn't always about big grand gestures; it can just be the little things. Like sometimes Jared will write me a sweet note or letter and hide it in a drawer for me to find later. Or like when Avery was born, he skipped the flowers and went for what I really wanted: a Jones Bros cupcake.
{Man, just linking that made me hungry.}

Our's isn't the most typical of love stories... We knew of each other because we were in many of the same classes in college. I thought he was arrogant and a jerk. He thought I was annoying. [And I am sure there are people out there that would second those observations! And if you are agreeing, then why are you reading this blog again??]

 I digress... 

It wasn't until we were literally in a car driving to a funeral {¡que romantico!) that we began to really talk. and laugh. and laugh. and laugh. The conversation just flowed like we had been friends for years. Later that night we stayed up until the wee hours just talking. A friendship had bloomed. I woke up that next morning to find his arm wrapped around me in his sleep and I was excited. That was the first time it hit me: I think I like him

Six whirlwind weeks later I was filling out paperwork to transfer schools. I had been praying for months for an answer to why I had stayed at Briar Cliff (a very Catholic school that just didn't fit this liberal girl) and whether or not I should look to transfer. It was like a sign. A life preserver. I had my answer. My parents were wondering where their clear-headed, practical daughter had gone. Transferring schools?! Moving to Kansas?! I am sure many people thought it was crazy. I wondered too: Am I crazy?  Clearly in hindsight, the answer is a resounding YES. But it was the great kind of crazy. It was just crazy enough to lead me to the path I was supposed to be on. And I would go back and do it all over the exact same way.

 I would tell those 20 year-olds:

You're on the right track. The best is yet to come.

Jared -
I loved you then and I love you now. I couldn't have asked for a better partner to share this life with. I look forward to many more uneventful, boring Valentine's Days together.
                                                                                                          ♥ ♥ ♥  

Thursday, February 9, 2012

My biggest pet peeve

I am annoyed. {Maybe I should stop watching the news because what makes me annoyed quite often these days is highlighted frequently on the Today show.}

Hearing about the One Million Moms campaign against Ellen DeGeneres as J.C.Penney's spokesperson just made me roll my eyes to the n-th degree. 

Apparently the campaign vows to "protect children from the filth many segments of our society, especially the media, are throwing at American children." 

And really, that sounds pretty smart. There is a lot of trashy stuff on TV these days that I don't want my kids to watch.

But where does the "filth" fit into the equation with Ellen? Clearly I don't know her personally, but from what I can tell (which is just as much as these protesters can tell also) she seems like a nice, likeable person. She has a popular television talk show where she dances and tells jokes and chats lightheartedly with people. There isn't profanity on her show. I have never seen her content really be all that questionable. Obviously gay people are super offensive to American children, right?? Ugh....  Did One Million Moms campaign against Sears for allowing the Kardashians to have a clothing line with them? After all, the only thing Kim is famous for (besides being famous) is her sex tape. Now THAT fits more clearly into the whole "filth" definition to me...

My first thought when I heard about One Million Moms:
"They really need a hobby."

But apparently hate and bigotry CAN be a hobby! Yay! Finally I can stop blogging and cleaning the house and devote my time to perpetuating inequality and teaching my children that they should never, ever have to be exposed to anyone who might be different than them. Thank God! And the best part is that it is so easy to do! It's never been easier to anonymously send messages of intolerance.

I realize everyone is entitled to their own opinion. I know some people think homosexuals are immoral and are automatically going to hell. I do not. One of my closest friends is gay and he is probably one of the nicest people you will ever meet. He has values and friends and family that love him.

And here it is. My biggest pet peeve:  People who use religion to perpetuate intolerance or hate.

Is this the message some people are hearing in church on Sundays?
"Go ahead. Judge your neighbor. Don't worry about kindness or treating others how you would like to be treated. Don't worry about your own sins, being gay is way worse."

I learned a lot of messages in Sunday school growing up. We learned about being nice to others. We learned about trusting in God. We learned tolerance and acceptance. We learned that we should forgive. We learned that God would be the only one to stand in judgment of us. {But I was raised Methodist, maybe y'all were learning something else...}

There is nothing wrong with believing what you want to believe, but is campaigning like this really doing any good? I just think there has to be better ways to set an example for America's children than spending your time mailing letters to companies to stop airing ads during Modern Family (which, p.s., is a damn good show). Go volunteer at an after-school program or food bank or something. 

[Side note: Modern Family shows three different "modern" families, one of which happens to be a gay couple. The show is a comedy, but at its core is the love and respect between all of the family members. And why is watching this harmful to my children again?....]

Okay, I think my rant is over. Thanks for letting me vent. Feel free to disagree with me or even join One Million Moms. Just be careful: the feeling of superiority and bitchiness just oozes from their website.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

How comfortable....

{When you just can't bear the thought of another nap in your bed...}

Monday, February 6, 2012

Avery at 9 Months

Our chubby little baby turned 9 months old today.

She is crawling fast and is good at locating me once I leave the room. Separation anxiety is in full swing now. If I leave for even five seconds, she bursts into tears and LOUD wailing ensues. And it even applies to Daddy, too. (See Jared, she does love you!)

Here she is in action

Avery has been stepping up the appetite and seems to almost eat as much as Bailey. She has developed a love for cheesy potatoes most recently. {Umm, duh, who wouldn't?} She also appreciates a good teething biscuit from time to time...

Happy 9 months, Avery Jospehine!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

One going on Five

The last couple days we have been working on teaching Bailey to say how old she is. She turns 2 later this month, so we decided to start now so she might be able to say it by the time her birthday party rolls around.

It went a little something like this:

Me:        Bailey, how old are you?
Bailey:       (blank stare)
Me:         Bailey, how old are you?
Bailey:       (blank stare)
Me:        You're TWO! (holding up two fingers)
Bailey:       FIVE! (holding up all five fingers)
Me:         No, you're two! Yay, two!
Bailey:       FIVE! FIVE! FIVE!

So now every time I ask her how old she is, she immediately puts her whole hand up and shouts "Five!"

She has even modified her counting: "five" now comes after "one."

Apparently 5 is the new 2, and if it is, we sure are in trouble.