My love/hate relationship with parenting books

I have a love/hate relationship with parenting books.  I love them because when I pick one up I am hopeful it will hold the solution to whatever problem I am facing at the moment that seems so overwhelming.  And I despise them because they have a way of making you feel like a failure when the advice doesn’t work.  (Also, who has time to read an entire book.  I wound up skimming most of the book, and read in depth the sections that I really needed.  I think all parenting books need to come with pamphlets, with the main points of the whole book in bullet-point sections.)

I’ve consulted with the professionals in the book on a couple different issues: Sleep, introducing solids, getting the girls to sleep all night, and how to manage misbehaviors.  Oh yeah, and how to get them to sleep through the night.

Sleep

The book says: Put your child down from day1 sleepy, but awake.  That way, they can learn to soothe themselves to sleep.

My experience: Hahahahahaha!!  Our transfers to the crib would go something like this: YES! Baby is almost asleep.  Shhh….tiptoe to the crib.  Put her down.  No, don’t open your eyes.  Oh, please don’t scrunch your face like that, because that scrunchy face is followed by a cry.  No, don’t scream.  Please don’t scream.  You’re going to wake up your sister!!  Okay, okay.  Baby wins.

Wouldn’t it be nice if baby’s sleep came natural?  But when we put our newborn down, they didn’t go to sleep.  They cry.  And you can’t let a newborn “cry-it-out.”  It’s just plain cruel.

Reality: When the babies started crying, and it was 2 AM I just held that baby or let them comfort nurse to let them sleep, which in turn meant that I could get at least a few minutes of sleep.

The book says: Feed the baby on a schedule, and have naps at set times.

Our experience: This worked after awhile.  I finally got the girls on the same schedule when the girls were five months old.  Katherine liked to sleep for 2-3 hours at a time.  Layla?  No more than 90 minutes.

Reality: The babies were the bosses for awhile and ran the show.

Introducing Solids

The book says: Introduce solids at six months.  Start with rice cereal mixed with formula or breast milk.  Then move on to pureed vegetables.  Just keep trying every day at the same time.

Our experience: Our girls didn’t like anything until about fourteen months, unless it was a cracker.  Or cheese!  Katherine just simply refused to open her mouth for the spoon, and would occasionally eat finger foods.  Layla was the opposite.  She had trouble chewing finger foods, and sometimes she would let us feed her with the spoon.  Other days, it would have been easier to try and spoon feed an alligator.

Reality: The girls ate solids when they were ready.

Breastfeeding

The book says: Don’t introduce bottles too early or it can create “nipple-confusion.”

My experience: My girls used bottles for awhile, then because of painful latching while they were nursing I decided to stop bottle feeding for awhile.  Wrong choice.  They decided they didn’t want bottles after that.

Reality: For the sake of sanity, bottles would have been nice to be able to offer.

Some people swear by certain parenting books.  And to them, I say “Congratulations! Great!  Fantastic! I’m happy for you!”  But for the others who scratch their head after all the tips in the parenting books fail, I understand.  And in the end, regardless of if the books work or don’t, we as parents typically find what works for our children and for our own families.  We modify, adapt and make something work.  Of course, maybe if I actually read the whole book instead of reading only the first half and then skimming the second half, maybe I would have a higher success rate!


Cute/Funny things my children did this week

I love the stage my twins are in right now.  They are learning so much, they love to imitate, and they are learning how to interact with others.  These past couple weeks they have done a few things that I thought would be fun to share with you.

A helping hand

For Christmas the girls each got a little pink “car” to ride on.  It has a handle on the back so it can be pushed, or the girls can get on the car and use their feet to propel it.  Before this week they hadn’t really paid a whole lot of attention to them.  And then they realized they could chase each other in them.  Pretty soon I heard giggles up and down our hallway where Layla went first and Katherine following close behind.

When they were done chasing each other, they went to move onto the next toy.  Now, Katherine hasn’t mastered getting off the cart gracefully and will ask for help.  I was getting ready to go over to help the other day, when I saw Layla go over and give Katherine her hand to help her out.  Katherine stood up with the help of Layla, and then told Layla “thank you.”  The girls kept right on playing.  It melted my heart to see one girl helping the other one out.

I need Mommy!

The girls are starting to put words into phrases.  Most of them are two words together.  But recently Katherine put together a phrase of her own.  I first heard it when she ran out of food and I didn’t notice right away, and she very urgently told me, “I need more!”  (emphasis on the word more).

Then, a few days later I left my girls with a friend for a few hours.  I walked into the house and started talking.  Katherine heard me from another room and started running for me saying “Mommy, Mommy,” followed by a very clear “I NEED MOMMY!”

I have to admit that was one of my favorite moments of being a mommy so far.

Bottoms Up

Bottoms

Bottoms up!

Eloy always checks on the girls before he heads to bed.  It has been his thing since the first day they came home.  Two nights ago Eloy came into our bedroom laughing and waved at me to come into the girls’ room.  “Get in here and look at your girl.”

I walked in and saw Katherine first.  Nothing new there.  She was sleeping peacefully. Then I looked at Layla.  She was sleeping on her tummy, bottom in the air.  With her diaper off.  :-O  Now, I have found her after nap time with her diaper half un-strapped and down around her knees (with poop!) but this was a first.  She had never before taken her diaper off before she fell asleep.  We rolled her onto her back and put her diaper back on.  She just looked at us with sleepy eyes that said, “Mom and Dad, what are you doing in my room at night waking me up.”

Now, for a while, she will be sleeping in onesies and pants!

“I love you!”

The girls can now say “I love you” and it melts my heart every time.  The “L’s” sound more like soft “Y’s” making it even more adorable.  Tonight we put the girls down for bed as usual.  I heard Layla kind of singing in her crib.  And then I heard Katherine say “Layla! Layla!  I love you!”

If these girls get any more lovable, I’m not sure my heart can take it.

I love you

“Bleep! #@*%” “QUARTER!”

Coin Jar
I’ll be honest with you. Before college I never used many cuss words. And then, without the parents around to give me that “glare” if I used a naughty word, I slipped into the habit of using more “colorful language.”

Then, after being married a couple of years my husband and I found out we were pregnant (yay!). One of the things we decided to battle before the kids arrived was our bad language that we didn’t want our kids to pick up on.

Our initial attempts went something like this:

3 months to due date

Me:D#*@ it! I can’t find my shoes.

Eloy: What happened to not cussing?

Me: S@$! We still have a while. Who cares.

3 months after girls were born

Eloy: Why the h*@^ can’t you go to sleep? It’s 3 in the morning!! Please go to sleep!

Me: What happened to not cussing?

Eloy: They can’t understand us yet.

Me: No, but it won’t be long!

And then our new solution

Every time we said a bad word, we would tell each other “quarter,” which we were supposed to then owe into a college fund for the girls. For the next 6 months we used that cue all the time. Unfortunately, we never got a jar out. Otherwise we might have had a pretty good start on the college fund by now.
Quarters

If we’re quiet, you’d better come find us!

My younger sister used to have a shirt with the saying, “If I’m quiet, you better come find me!”  We bought it for her because it fit her perfectly when she was a toddler.  Now, I’m wishing my mom had kept it and could pass it on to my children.

Here are the mishaps from two days ago.

FIVE DIFFERENT OUTFIT CHANGES

Four of them were Layla’s.  Who do you think is more in need of the shirt at this point 🙂

Outfit #1 and #2: Apparently there was a leaky sippie cup that I didn’t catch, causing two different outfit changes.  The first was just the pair of Layla’s pants that got soaked.  The second happened during a Curious George – Layla was sitting on the couch and both her and couch were soaked!  And don’t just think that the sippie cup leaked.  I know for a fact that she was holding the cup upside down saying, “AGUA!”  and then Katherine would giggle and say, “UH-OH”.

Outfit #3: Apple juice.  I put their apple juice in a cup that apparently sprinkles the water out when you turn it upside down and shake.  I found dribbles of it all over their play room.  Any horizontal surface, or any toy that was exposed to air was covered in speckles of apple juice.  Did I also mention that Layla had sprinkled her sister’s head with apple juice too?  And somehow, in this process Layla had gotten soaked from head to foot.  Again.

Outfit #4: This was an incident involving bubbles – Layla doesn’t understand that she doesn’t need to put the bubble wand on her mouth, so the bubble water drips down her chin, onto her neck, onto her shirt.  By the end of the hour long bubble blowing session the entire front side of her shirt and the top part of her capris was soaked.  It incredibly cute to watch her blow bubbles!

Outfit #5: Katherine was easy.  She just had one outfit change – a blowout!  And the best part was that it was on Eloy’s shift so I didn’t have to worry about it 🙂

Always count the crayons you give your children

Crayon Lineup

Count your Crayons

I used to count the crayons before and after the girls were done coloring.  And then I got lazy.  And a couple of times the girls even found a stray crayon and right away gave it to me.  But then yesterday, they found a blue crayon laying around.  Non-washable.  And they colored all over their new plastic play house as well as one of their seats.  Thank goodness for 409 cleaner.

And where was I? Cleaning up from lunch.  Does this mean I get out of doing dishes? 🙂

Zebra did it.

Zebra

Zebra did it!

My girls are always surprising me with how much they know, understand, and new concepts they are learning.  For example, we have been working on animal sounds and names and I didn’t think the girls were getting it until a few weeks ago when I was driving home from a nearby city, and the girls were tired of being cooped up in the car.  To try and keep them semi-entertained I started asking them what certain animals said, and they could do about half a dozen sounds all on their own.  It was so exciting to see that they had been listening and learning and it had finally clicked

That was one example of something we have been working with the girls on, but this next story was something that was completely unprompted by my husband or I.  It was completely from the brilliant (and slightly mischievousness little mind of of our little Layla (and I wouldn’t have it any other way 🙂 ).

We have a subscription to Netflix and let the girls watch Sesame Street on our laptop upstairs in the living room.  When we do this, they are not allowed to touch the computer.  This past Sunday my husband and I were eating our supper in the dining room while the girls finished their show.  We were talking, and in the background we heard Elmo stop and then Layla say loudly, “UH-OH.”  (I love how she tells on herself!)

I get my game face on, walked into the living room and sternly asked Layla, “Layla, did you touch the computer?”  Layla, who was standing close to the computer, shook her head then held up her stuffed zebra and said proudly “CESS-A!” (Cessa is how she said zebra right now.)  I asked her, “Zebra touched the computer and paused Elmo?”  She nodded her little head and said, “CESSA!”

I lost it.  I cracked up and had to leave the room because I couldn’t keep a straight face.  Pretty soon I heard the computer start up again only to pause a short while later so Eloy went into the room and told her, “No, Layla.  Don’t touch the computer.”  Layla again indicated that it was her zebra who did it, so Eloy looked at the zebra and said, “No, no zebra.  We don’t touch the computer.  Do you need to go to your crib?”  Layla then said, “No, no cessa.”  She had a little grin that said, “Haha!  I fooled you mom and dad!”

And what was I doing?  Laughing hysterically in the kitchen.  I’m so glad that Eloy took this one, though I’m sure my cackles of laughter weren’t really helping.

OH NO! Don’t play with the poop!

Diaper Changing - Step One

In the words of my oldest daughter Katherine, "EWWWW! Stinky!".
Photo courtesy of sunsurfr.

Yes, you guessed it by the title.  Yesterday was my first experience with a child playing in their own poop.  Gross.  And you know what made it worse?  I had a semi-unexpected visitor show up at my door before I figured this out.  Let’s start at the beginning.

I sleep in with my girls nearly every morning.  However late they sleep, I sleep.  I feel no need whatsoever to get up before them and do dishes, or laundry, or anything else.  I am still catching up with my sleep debt from when they refused to sleep all night (which lasted until they were 16 months!).

Anyway, this morning, the girls decided to sleep in until about 9:15 am.  (Yes I know, unbelievable!  🙂 Please don’t hate me, I’ve had my turn at getting next-to-no sleep 🙂 )  I heard them stirring in their cribs – this morning they were happy and just jabbering away – so I decided to see if I could catch a few more minutes of relaxation and started drifting back to sleep when I hear a loud knock on my door.

All I could think was “CRAP! I’m not presentable.”  I ran around, throwing on clothes to go answer the door.  On my way to the door, I pass by the girls’ room and peek in.  Layla was saying in her sing-song voice, “Uh-oh. Uh-oh.” over and over again, so when I saw that Layla had unzipped her footed jammies and was almost completely out of them, I just laughed and thought “I need to get the camera and take a picture.”  So, answering the door, I find a lady we will call Sue.  In the back of my mind, I remember talking with her on the phone and thought she was just going to call me this morning (which she had, I had just ignored her phone call because the girls were still asleep and I was still asleep and besides, she was calling before the time she said she was going to call.  I also put the phone on silent after this in case she called again so she wouldn’t disturb us again.)  It turns out that she said she would call BEFORE she came over to my house to chat.  Oops.

Anyway, I let Sue into the house and told her, “Come with me into the girls’ room.  They are just getting up and I need to change their diapers and put clothes on them.”  On my way to the room I grabbed the camera, and upon entering the room I snapped a picture.  “Say cheese!”

Diaper Change - 212/365 - 31 July 2009

Call for backup!
Photo courtesy of John Flinchbaugh.

It was as I was snapping that first picture that I realize exactly what the “UH-OH” was about.  It wasn’t that Layla was almost out of her jammies.  Oh no.  It was that she had dirtied her britches and some of it had squished out, and she had rubbed it all over her leg.  And the bed sheet.  And it was dried all over her hand.

Horrified, I cleaned Layla up as best as I could with baby wipes and told myself to remember to wash her hands with soap and water before breakfast.  All the while I’m cleaning, Sue is sitting on the girls’ floor, chatting away with me.  I’m just trying not to get poop everywhere.  It was all over by the time we were done, so we had to change the changing pad cover.  I kept thinking, “If I just had one she would be getting a bath right now because it would be easier than trying to scrub this poop off with a wimpy baby wipe.”

After cleaning up Layla, and getting clothes on Layla and Katherine we went out to get them breakfast.  After a couple minor fits I got their toast with Nutella set down in front of them and continued to chat with Sue.

It wasn’t until she left that I realized that I had forgotten to re-wash Layla’s hands.

Luckily Sue is a mom, and I’m sure she understand.  But I don’t think she’ll be visiting in the morning again any time soon  🙂

We survived the rainy week with a little bit of paint, a library, and a lot of welcoming friends

Rain drop reflection

Rain, rain go away!

When I looked at the forecast at the beginning of this week, all I saw was rain, rain and more rain.  I was a little afraid my girls (and I!) were going to get tired of being inside, but in the end it was one of our busiest weeks!

Monday came and it rained all day.  We did something new – we painted!  The girls love coloring, but it seems much less scary than painting.  But I put little aprons on them, put little dots of paint on styrofoam plates, and let them at it.  They loved it, and were so careful with the paint!  My husband liked the paintings so much, he took the paintings to work and hung them up in his office the next day.  Late afternoon we loaded up and went to the library.  The girls were so excited for a scenery change.

It rained all day on Tuesday.  The girls were getting bored so after nap, we played a game.  It was an impromptu game.  We’ll call it “Toss the Washcloth.”  The girls were still in their cribs, and I laid on the floor in between them.  They tossed their washcloths/burp rags out to me, and I would toss them back in.  Doesn’t sound so exciting now that I’m writing about it, but they thought it was pretty funny for about thirty minutes.  Oh, and when Eloy arrived home I begged him to go with us to the library again.

Guess what the weather was like on Wednesday?  If you said rainy, you guessed correctly!  On Wednesday, I had a sewing lesson here at my house in the morning and the girls played with my sewing teacher’s kids (who, by the way, are the best babysitters ever!).  That afternoon I had yet another friend over to see the girls.  Just before she left, I found out Eloy wasn’t going to be home until late, so the girls and I went over to a friend’s house for an hour.  This friend (Hannah) has a daughter around my girls’ age; her name is Cassie.

Thursday – it rained until after the sun set.

When the girls woke up Thursday morning the first thing Katherine asked for was “Cassie?” (her friend).  Then she said, “Bye-bye.  Cassie?  Bye-bye!”  I guess she knew where she wanted to go!  It was way more fun at her friend’s house than here at home 🙂

Thursday I had a funeral to attend so I dropped the girls off at Cassie’s house, and I started the trip to the funeral (which was a disaster – I had misread the time and the car was giving me trouble, so I wound up missing the funeral but made it to the cemetery and family supper).  On my way home from the funeral activities, I dropped off some cousins and went to the store to pick up some needed items – bread and eggs! – and got home around 10:00PM.  A late night!

Friday we finally saw the sun!!  What a welcome sight after such a dreary week.  It was pretty soppy, so we went up to yet another friend’s house, about 30 minutes from here, and went to a consignment sale.  It was a bust, but when we went back to the friend’s house, the girls had so much fun playing with the other kids.

I was surprised at how easy it was to keep the girls occupied this week, despite the lack of choices of activities.  All we needed was a little bit of paint, a library, and a lot of welcoming friends to play with throughout the week.