Her Prerogative.

September 20, 2010

Oh, my feisty Eliza.

Eliza has never been a great sleeper. Since the day she was born, we’ve tried everything to get her to sleep through the night consistently. When we brought her home from the hospital, she slept in a crib with Joey. Joey would nuzzle against her and drift off peacefully. He only woke to eat and would go right back to sleep. He wasn’t huge into fussing. Eliza, on the other hand, was a fuss queen. I’d say she was borderline colicky. Now, this difference in their personalities wasn’t a huge surprise to me. When the babies were in my belly, Joey was always totally mellow. In fact, his heart rate never got quite high enough during my weekly non-stress tests/biophysicals. I always told the nurses, “no biggie, he’s just a mellow dude.” He moved around enough, and was always facing head down – ready to enter the world properly. Eliza, on the other hand, never concerned the nurses. Her heart rate went up and down like a champion, and she moved around like crazy – one week she’d be head down; the next week she’d be breech; the next week we’d find her in a transverse position (horizontal to my body). I knew she’d enter this world with her own agenda. She may be our youngest child, but she’s definitely our strongest…strongest-willed, that is.

Now, despite the myriad of sleep techniques attempted with Eliza, she STILL doesn’t sleep through the night. We have concluded, however, that she sleeps best when she’s alone in the room (we frequently remove Joey when he’s at his wits end with her noise, and put him in a pack ‘n play in our room). It seems Eliza’s incessant talking, whining, and then crying is her way of letting us know it’s her prerogative to have her own room. If she could talk, I feel like she’d flat out say to me, “Mom, I shared the womb. Now I want my own room.” At this point, I don’t know what else to think! She’ll fuss and fuss until we remove Joey from the room…and then she’ll fall right asleep. Is it possible for a baby to exhibit such diva behavior?! In my opinion, yes.

For those of you who have children successfully sharing rooms, I’m super jealous. We’ve tried EVERYTHING to get Eliza to sleep through the night. At this point, my conclusion is that she needs her own room. Tell me I’m crazy! We’re about to remodel our home this winter to add another bedroom…all so Eliza can have her own space. Seriously, am I crazy? I mean, I’m a really (and I mean really) light sleeper. Is it possible Eliza already shares this trait? If we remodel for her and she still doesn’t sleep through the night, I’ll feel like a total boob. Maybe I just need some advice…anyone care to share their thoughts??

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A la Johnny Cash: “My own personal…hell”

August 30, 2010

I think I know what my personal hell might be…

Shane and I took the kids (including bulldog Ringo) up to our family lake home on the North Shore last weekend. The weather was perfect and we all had a wonderful time. We had fun outings to the Lake Superior Railroad Museum and Duluth Children’s Museum, and went on beautiful walks at Gooseberry Falls and the Two Harbors lighthouse lake walk. We had lunch at the local favorite, Betty’s Pies, and Shane and I also had a fabulous dinner at the New Scenic Cafe. All the kids took decent naps and slept fairly well at night. We even saw a “mommy dear and bambi” right up close! Sounds like heaven, right?! Where does the hell come in, you ask? … … the car ride home.

I’m usually VERY strategic when it comes to things like long car rides with the kids. I try to cover all my bases: play like crazy, eat until tummies are full, fresh diapers and comfy clothes on each child, and leave right before nap time. Well, for the first time in my life as a mother, I went out on a limb and left Two Harbors 1) on a freakin’ Sunday after the busiest weekend I’ve ever seen up north, 2) at a completely random time of day: 5:15pm, and 3) after we’d been warned of very heavy construction traffic. HUGE HUGE mistake. I should’ve trusted my instincts and stayed one more night.

We were about 20 minutes into our drive when we hit the first bout of traffic outside Duluth. Major road construction diverted all the weekend traffic to a measly traffic light, which also happened to be a left-turn. I could’ve walked through Duluth faster. Ugh. The babies most likely would’ve slept, but they didn’t appreciate the stop and go, so they got incredibly feisty…fussing and crying are understatements. So, what should’ve taken us 25 minutes took us about an hour and 15 minutes. That meant we still had a 2.5-hour drive ahead of us. Arg. Could’ve, would’ve, should’ve stayed another night!

So, after we went through all the “down to one lane” construction through Duluth, I thought we were in the clear. I guess I forgot about the other “down to one lane” construction about 30 minutes past Duluth. The babies had FINALLY fallen asleep and Linnea was content watching a movie…and then we hit dead stopped traffic AGAIN! I just waited to hear the first squeal come from the back of the minivan, and it took about 3 minutes. Oh man. I’m pretty sure I tried everything at that point to make the car ride go more smoothly. I gave the babies bottles, fed them Cheerios, made sure they didn’t have stinky diapers, played countless rounds of peek-a-boo, and handed out every toy in the car. When it came down to it, though, there was really nothing I could do. If we stopped, we’d only add more time on the road, and I wasn’t going to pull a Britney Spears by taking my babies out of their car seats while we were driving. We just had to suffer on down the road. *sigh*

Long story short: what is typically a 3-hour drive took us 4.5 hours, and we didn’t get home until 9:30pm. Thank GOD Linnea is such a remarkable child and she didn’t cause much added stress to the ride home. She mostly just sat quietly in her seat and tried to ignore the babies. She even laughed at me when I got stuck between seats on my way back and forth to the babies. So, there you have it… a ridiculous car ride with screaming babies is my current personal hell. I’ll let you know if anything changes.

Oh no she didn’t…

August 26, 2010

So, I had my first “my child just said something that totally embarrassed me” moment today.

Linnea and I went on our first trip to the library this morning. I had to remind Linnea that we talk quietly in the library as we walked off toward the children’s section. I was all excited about sifting through the books, so I didn’t mind that Linnea quickly made a friend and played in a room nearby. I could hear her talking and giggling, so I knew she was having a good time. It was so fun to peak in on her and her new friend. It was hard to believe my baby girl was making friends on her own. It was so cute, I almost lost focus on my mission to find the best books. I didn’t lose my focus, though, until…

Linnea re-entered the main children’s section dancing and singing loudly (to the tune of the conga), “Poo poo on the potty! Poo poo on the potty!” Then she turned to her new friend and said, “like that!” She was clearly teaching her new friend the potty dance we do at home before and/or after a successful poo on the potty. It was totally embarrassing, but completely hilarious at the same time. The adults in the room smiled and laughed; older children pointed and giggled; and all the other toddlers looked intrigued. I’m sure I got slightly red in the face, but whatever. It was a classic embarrassed mommy moment, and it was worth every second.

Detail + Confidence = Potty Success

August 8, 2010

I started my last blog post by stating that I’m a laid back person, and I’m going to start this one by stating that I am also a detail-oriented person. Strange combination, I know. I never said I wasn’t strange. I always notice the little things. In many ways, being detail-oriented is a total nuisance. For example, I notice when sizes aren’t in order on retail racks, and I often correct them (as if I have the time). You can imagine how difficult it is for me to shop at TJMaxx and Nordstrom Rack! Hmm…I suppose one could argue that this example is more indicative of organizational behavior. Whatever. There I go being detail-oriented again! Yes, I’m very organizational too.

Ok, well, if I didn’t already lose you with that crazy self-description, I’ll get to the point: When it comes to potty training Linnea, my attention to detail has been anything but a nuisance. It has actually helped immensely. It has given me the ability to notice even the slightest change in her facial expression, which has been key in helping her make it to the potty. Now, I’ve been catching these fleeting moments since she was born, and I’ve been asking her if she’d like to use the potty for months, but it was just within the past week that she finally responded “Yes” instead of “NO!” This sudden change in desire has made me wish more than ever that I could read her little mind. What I wouldn’t give to know what finally clicked! She never responded to incentives such as M&Ms, jelly beans, or stickers, so I know it’s not due to incentive. I’ll just assume she decided being wet and soiled doesn’t feel good, and now that she has decent control of her bowel function, it’s more fun to go to the potty.

This is how I found her after she ran up the stairs last night saying, “I have to go pee pee!”

Yep – I almost fell over trying not to laugh as I discreetly took the photo.

So, this potty thing has added a whole new dynamic to our days. I’m always on guard watching Linnea for potty cues. I’m constantly paying attention to her facial expressions, body movements, and behaviors (ex.”hiding” in my closet). I know, I know – as if I don’t have enough to pay attention to already, right?! Don’t get me wrong, I’m still completely a “no pressure” potty trainer, but I feel like it’s my duty to catch the cues and remind her what she’s supposed to do with them. I probably ask her if she needs to use the potty every hour or two. It seems to work perfectly. She hasn’t had an accident in over a week. She has even woken up a couple mornings with a dry diaper. I could hardly believe it. This kid used to soak through overnight diapers all the time. Anyway, I think Linnea and I make a good potty training team. My attention to detail paired with her confident nature works in our favor for this developmental milestone. Overall, this potty training thing has been a smooth process….and, dare I say, kind of fun! I guess God decided to give me a break this time. 😉

Baby-proofing

August 1, 2010

If you haven’t noticed already, I’m a pretty laid back person. When it came to baby-proofing the house when Linnea was first becoming mobile, I just baby-proofed as needed. Of course I covered all the outlets and gated the stairs, but not much more was required. Linnea just flat out didn’t get into things. She never opened cabinets she wasn’t supposed to open; if she found a foreign object on a shelf or on the floor, she didn’t eat it, but brought it to me; heck, she didn’t even go after Ringo’s water bowl! I never had to move my cleaning products, medications, or make up. We taught her personal possession early, and she just stayed away from things she knew weren’t “Linnea’s.” In fact, even “Daddy and Mommy’s” dusty liquor cabinet is still totally un-baby-proofed and easily accessible. Well, not for long…

I have a feeling Joey and Eliza are going to be into everything. Wait, let me quickly rethink and rephrase that: they are into everything! They just loooove things they aren’t supposed to have. Seriously, isn’t it amazing that babies totally know the difference!? Now, I’m not sure exactly why Joey and Eliza get into more things than Linnea did at their age. I suppose it’s a combination of personality and lack of supervision. When Linnea was 9 months old, she was my only focus. I was with her all the time and supervised every moment. Joey and Eliza, on the other hand, are often left to their own vices. I always keep an eye on them, but I’m also busy doing other things: unloading the dishwasher, doing a puzzle with Linnea, folding laundry, etc. Joey and Eliza simply have more time to get into things. Needless to say, some major baby-proofing has been occurring in our house.

Most of the daily baby-proofing goes on when Joey and Eliza have free rein of the upstairs. Both Joey and Eliza have opened the cabinet under the kitchen sink (cleaning supplies galore), so I’ve started looking for effective cabinet locks. I’ve found Joey with both hands submerged in Ringo’s water multiple times, so Ringo’s water and food are now put away during the day. I also close the bathroom door, because it seems to be their favorite room – ewww. I shut Linnea’s and the babies’ bedroom doors due to Joey’s fascination with electrical cords. Each morning I pull the living room blinds halfway up and wrap the cords out of reach. Eliza’s a huge fan of the blinds; Joey the cords. I do a visual sweep of the main floor to make sure none of Linnea’s “choke-able” toys are laying around. I do a physical sweep (literally with the broom) underneath the kitchen table and in the kitchen to make sure there aren’t any food remnants on the floor. I put away shoes that are left by the back door. I shut the door to the downstairs. Oh, and the biggest manner of baby-proofing done recently was moving our living room couch smack dab in front of the fireplace. Yep, I completely covered the fireplace with the couch. It definitely looks weird, but it keeps Joey and Eliza from exploring the bricks and ashes. That fireplace was a hazardous baby magnet. So, my house has officially become what I always swore it wouldn’t become: a completely child-proofed baby zone…but, hey, I never thought I’d have THREE kids. 🙂

What “time” is it?

July 24, 2010

According to Merriam-Webster, the definition of “time” is: a nonspatial continuum that is measured in terms of events which succeed one another from past through present to future.

Joey and Eliza turned 9 months old yesterday. Part of me believes it completely and the other part of me is dumbfounded. A lot of the time, when I’m in the thick of daily life with the kids, I feel like time just drags. I often find myself saying, “When is this day going to end?” Sometimes living in the moment feels like living in slow motion. Then, there are the days when I say things like, “Wow, that nap went by quickly!” or “Is it really already Friday?” So, “time” in my world is an interesting phenomenon; months past feel like they just happened yesterday, the present feels somewhat stagnant, and the future feels far away. In reality, though, the future never is far away. I guess I live most days with a “take it one day at a time” approach, so when I wake up and the babies are 9 months old, I feel like I’ve received a good morning slap in the face (or something). What?! Joey and Eliza are only 3 months away from being 1 year old!? 1 year old?! That’s crazy. Wasn’t I still pregnant with them…like…yesterday?! Three months seems like a long time (and it feels like it too when I’m living it), but it’ll fly by just like all the previous 9 months. Yikes. I guess I better be careful when I wish for the kids to be school-age.

I think part of the reason the first year of a child’s life seems to go by so quickly is because of the astonishing growth and development rate. I mean, in the first year of life, babies go from being tiny sacks of potatoes to walking, communicating, lively little beings. Does it happen too fast? In my opinion, sometimes it doesn’t happen fast enough, and sometimes it happens WAY too fast. For example, it would be great if Joey and Eliza would start to feed themselves sooner than later. On the flip side, it would be great if they weren’t already climbing the stairs! Also, I’m really looking forward to the day Joey and Eliza really start playing with Linnea. They owe her big time. She has been an amazing big sister.

In terms of the future, I’m anxious and excited to see what it holds. When I run into people with twins, they always tell me that life doesn’t necessarily get easier, it just gets “different.” I can already see the truth in that statement. For sure. There are a lot of developmental milestones in the future that I have no idea how we’ll handle, but we will handle them. We’ll adjust. That’s life. Good thing I don’t have a major aversion to change. For now, I suppose I’ll keep taking it “one day at a time,” but I’ll try to remember to appreciate each moment (no matter how exhausting, wonderful, chaotic, rewarding…).

The Power Half-Hour

July 15, 2010

Sometimes my life feels so crazy, I literally wonder how I’ll make it through to the next minute. I’ve coined a new phrase for such times. I call it the “Power Half-Hour,” and it is a time during which all hell breaks loose in the house. By “all hell,” I mean everyone is seriously needy at the same time, and the neediness lasts for approximately half an hour. When I’m in the thick of a power half-hour, it feels like it’ll never end. I run around like a chicken with my head cut off, multi-task like a mad woman, and try to remember to breathe as I grind my teeth in frustration…or desperation. Even though power half-hours feel like they’ll never end, they’re always over in a flash. That’s when I sit down, take a lot of deep breaths, fan my shirt (because I’m always sweating by the end of it), and shake my head like “whoa” as I attempt to gather my thoughts.

Tonight I had my most intense power half-hour to date. I knew it was coming too. Linnea had taken a very short nap, which doesn’t bode well for her fuse. Joey was just out of sorts all day, and Eliza was…well, Eliza. She’s unpredictable, and she had taken to blasting extremely high-pitched screams very unpredictably all afternoon. To top it all off, Shane was out for happy hour. All these things were a recipe for disaster.

Joey lost it first in a very un-Joeylike way; he just started crying and wouldn’t stop unless I held him (and even then he was still whining). Eliza was trying to climb me and got really frustrated when she realized I wasn’t a mountain. Let the high pitched screams begin! That’s about when Linnea lost it. She was patient with Joey’s incessant crying, but Eliza’s piercing screams put her over the edge. At that point, Linnea needed my arms too. So, I put a crying Joey down, hugged Linnea and apologized for the insanity..and Joey crawled off at a rapid pace. I put a frustrated Linnea back down and went to retrieve Joey. When I returned with Joey, Linnea was luring Eliza up the stairs. Yes, Eliza was scaling the stairs. Unbelievable. I guess she found her mountain! This girl isn’t even 9 months old yet. Yikes. I put Joey back down and watched him crawl off toward some computer wires as I ran up the stairs to grab Eliza…and the retriever saga continued with on and off crying/screaming/whining coming from at least two children at a time.

So, I honestly don’t remember what I did with Linnea and Eliza while I fed Joey a bottle. I think I put Eliza in an exersaucer in the kitchen, and left Linnea downstairs watching Max and Ruby. Yeah, that’s exactly what I did. I also made sure to turn on the sound machine at full blast while I fed Joey, so he had peace while he ate and drifted off to sleep. Ahhh…one down. I could see the light at the end of the tunnel. I got Linnea situated at the dinner table and popped Snow White into the portable DVD player. I had to give Eliza my car keys to keep her intermittent screams to a minimum while I prepared her dinner. Aaaaaand, the power half hour was over. Linnea was comfortable at the table and I was feeding Eliza. Things were fairly manageable again. Oh, and that’s about the time daddy walked through the door. Of course…

How ’bout “Safety 2nd?”

July 10, 2010

A couple weeks ago, on a rainy Thursday evening, my husband and I sat with our neighbors on their deck and shared a bottle (or two…or three) of wine. Our neighbors are also parents of three young children, so we relate on many levels. As the conversation progressed, it inevitably took a turn toward our children. That’s when my neighbor said something that completely resonated with me. She was talking about the transition from one to two children and then from two to three children. She said the transition from one to two children was fairly smooth. It took a good amount of adjustment, but it was manageable. It was the transition from two to three when she realized safety became an issue. She flat out said, “having three children feels unsafe.” Simply said, but it summed up exactly how I’ve been feeling for the past 9 months. It so perfectly described how I feel a LOT of the time as I continue to adapt to daily life with three kids. There are so many parenting “don’ts” that I frequently have no choice but to “do.” Let me give you some examples:

1). I leave all my children playing together unsupervised.

2). When Linnea is in the bathtub, I often step away for a brief moment.

3). I let Linnea play alone in the backyard.

4). I don’t actually strap Joey and Eliza into their high chairs.

5). I leave the kids in the car while I unload groceries.

You get the idea. Now, obviously I do all these things only momentarily. I can always still see or hear the kids from wherever it is I momentarily ran off to, but I also always tell myself: You should know better. Accidents happen in seconds. *sigh*

As a parent, I have to pick and choose my battles each and every day. I constantly remind myself that I’m doing the best I can. I can only protect my children as much as my mind and body will allow…and I just have to find peace in that. I’m only one person (up against 3). Oh, and Eliza and Joey, who are almost 9 months, are now crawling and pulling themselves up onto everything. I’m going to need more of my protective mind and body than ever before. Wish me luck, my friends, wish me luck.

The “I HATE” Game

July 8, 2010

I consider myself a pretty positive person. My glass is typically half-full, if you will. However, I’ve invented a new game, and it’s called the “I Hate Game.” It is also, I have come to realize, a coping mechanism I’ve developed since becoming a mother of 3 under 3. I play this game when I start to get irritated, or when I’m just in a bad mood. It’s mostly about complaining, but it feels good to unload, and it always ends up making me laugh. It’s kind of hard to explain the rules exactly, so I’ll just give you an example of how I played it recently. I have a feeling you’ll get the gist of it.

After a long, difficult day with the kids, I was washing bottles (the last thing I really felt like doing) and I just flat out said, “I HATE washing bottles.” Saying it out loud felt good, so I continued: “I HATE that the garbage is ALWAYS full.” “I HATE that I’m exhausted and I still have to put all the backyard toys away.” “I HATE it when I buy a dozen eggs to make egg salad, but don’t get around to making it before the eggs expire.”… … … Most of my “I HATEs” begin with the usual not so enjoyable household duties. Then I start getting creative, and that’s when my mood begins to shift. … … … “I HATE it when I’m sitting in church and the old guy next to me has a whistle coming from his nose as he breathes.” “I HATE that when it rains and I walk into a store I’m always the ONLY one with really squeaky shoes.” “I HATE that most elevators have nothing to look at other than the floor numbers – awkward.” “I HATE that I go to Target almost every day, but I still have a hard time finding what I need.” “I also HATE it that I go to Starbucks almost every day, but never know what I want when it’s my turn to order, and then I end up ordering the same thing I always order.”  … … …

You can see the direction of these “I HATE” statements, right? Isn’t it interesting how something so seemingly negative can produce such a positive effect?! I always end up laughing, and then I’m much more relaxed. Sometimes I even finish those annoying end of the day household duties with a little smile on my face. After all, once I’m on a roll, I can’t really stop. I keep thinking of funny “I HATEs” and I’m able to go to bed with the giggles, which totally annoys my husband…which makes me giggle even more. 😉

Hail the Conquering Hero!

June 22, 2010

Mission: Nap Schedule = Accomplished

It took about 7 -8 months, but Joey and Eliza are officially on the two-a-day nap schedule (sometimes 3 for Eliza). Woohoo! Accomplishing this feat is a big deal in mommy world, so I’m giving myself a small pat on the back. It is no easy task to catch the open sleep window, especially with my hands already so full. I have a lot to pay attention to all the time. I had to make catching the sleep window a priority. So, for a long time, I was on my toes watching for sleep cues. It was definitely tricky with two babies. Here’s the incredibly abridged version of how it worked:

Eliza was (and still is) much more predictable than Joey. When she needs sleep, she wants to sleep…and she lets me know it! As long as she doesn’t get overtired, I’m able to put her down and she rolls right over. Joey, on the other hand, is so mellow that it’s hard to catch his sleep window. He’ll just kind of chill until it’s eye rubbing and ear pulling time. That’s when I know he’s really tired, and sometimes it’s too late. In order to get him down, I have to let him cry. Now, it’s obviously ideal to get both babies sleeping at the same time. This is tricky for the morning nap. Joey and Eliza typically wake up for the morning at different times (Joey usually earlier than Eliza by about an hour). Here’s the catch, though…Joey lasts longer awake in the morning. He doesn’t need to go back down for an hour and a half to two hours after he wakes up. Eliza goes back down after an hour. So, almost daily I’m able to get both Joey and Eliza napping for some amount of time between 9-11am. Whether they sleep for an hour or two hours still varies. Oh well…

The afternoon nap is really where the “conquering hero” comes into play. Yep, I’m able to get ALL THREE babies down at the same time! Toot Toot (that was my own horn). After Joey and Eliza wake up from their morning nap, they’re good to go for about 2-3 hours. I wear them out by taking them on outings with Linnea, or we just play at home. When lunch time comes around, I get everyone fed and changed, and put them all down. YES! I finally have a little “me” time during the day. Fabulous. Oh, and I should admit…I do have a summer girl. There’s NO WAY outings would occur on a regular basis without an extra set of hands.

So, there you have it. No, it wasn’t easy, and, yes, I left a LOT out. Naps are a daily challenge. The naps still vary, but for the most part, the babies are on a schedule. It makes my life feel somewhat less chaotic, and I get the best out of both babies when they’re well-rested. All the hard work is worth it. It feels GREAT when my babies wake up happy. It’s almost like I’ve napped too!