November 29, 2012

Mommy Survival Tip: Twigs, Berries and Hoo-has are NOT Anatomical Parts!

It always makes me laugh when I hear kids and, especially adults, using crazy and somewhat hilarious descriptors for the "private" body parts. I have heard everything from twigs and berries, to hoo-has, to yayas, to weewees, to v-jayjays, to sausage and eggs, to bumper, tucus, bumbum and so much more! Why is it that some adults find it so difficult or have the mindset that it is socially unacceptable to teach proper anatomical terms to their young kids?

 I am the product of two (liberal) educators and so from a very young age was using  proper terms for the parts. My mom always told the story of when I was 2ish and I confidently informed my grandma that little boys have a penis and little girls have a vagina. She said my grandma nearly died laughing so hard at an itty bitty girl informing her of body parts!

Here is what I know from a child development aspect, when you teach a child to call their penis or vagina or butt by a nick name (because its easier for you), it gives them the message that they should be ashamed of those parts and that they are not something that can be openly talked about. I know it sounds crazy, but cognitively and psychologically this can cause an array of issues from promiscuity at a young age, to hiding health issues they may be experiencing, to hiding their sexual preferences, to feeling ashamed of their bodies, or feeling like they can't ask questions about changes they may be experiencing.

From an education standpoint there really should be no reason not to teach your child the proper terms for ALL of their body parts. It is not only going to be beneficial now (so you won't have to re teach them later), but also when they get older and you are ready to have "the talk" with them. Don't you think it would be somewhat awkward to be talking to your 11 year old boy about the function of his twigs and berries?? Or better yet, your 11 year old daughter about her hoo-ha? There is no reason not to use the words penis, vagina, butt and testicles to describe those parts just like you would describe legs, eyes, arms, toes or ears! They are all parts of our body and that is a fact. Personally, I would much rather be the one to teach my kids about their body part and functionality then them learning about it from some kids at school!

So, let's get out all your giggles and embarrassment now and repeat after me:
Penis, Vagina, Butt, Testicles...Penis, Vagina, Butt, Testicles...Penis, Vagina, Butt, more time...Penis, Vagina, Butt, Testicles!!!

There we go, now that we have that taken care of, you can confidently say those words in front of your kids or other adults without blushing or giggling. So go on, start teaching your kids the proper terms for their me, you will be glad you did!

November 26, 2012

Answers to Questions I get asked Daily {by complete strangers}

Since becoming a mom of twins and then a singleton (that's the medical term for one baby at a time, yup a term exists) within 2 years, I have a very hard time going anywhere without getting asked the same questions over and over again. It seems to take me twice as long to do anything, I mean anything because I get stopped by multiple people asking the same questions over and over again. Doesn't matter where we are, the grocery store, Target, the zoo, etc...It used to bug the crap out of me because I just wanted to get my groceries (or finish whatever I was doing) and get out of the damn store, sometimes I don't feel like being drilled by a stranger ya know?? Over time I have gotten used to it, and the kids have gotten used to people staring at them and randomly asking questions though this doesn't make it any less annoying. It is definitely difficult to teach Stranger Danger to twins because everyone under the sun has something to say to them. I want them to be friendly but where do I draw the line?

Don't get me wrong, I am friendly and personable, but people just don't realize that they sometimes are the fourth or fifth person that has asked me the exact same questions within a 30 minute span! Consequently distracting me, the kids and making my "quick" trip to the store take WAY more time that I wanted it to.

My mom always said, oh just enjoy it! Twins are special, they deserve the attention! She loved all the questions and attention. I on the other hand, have a hard time being friendly to strangers who are asking me things that are really none of their business.

I always said I wanted to make a recording that I could just press play every time someone asked me their questions. Or, get a shirt printed with all of the answers to their questions on it. It's funny how they actually even ask them in the same order a lot of the time. 

Here is what my recording or t shirt would say:

What I have realized is that people are super curious and often times their curiosity comes out in seemingly blunt or rude questions. I regularly get asked very personal things that are really non of anyone else's business! It's like, if you or your situation is "different" than the norm, then people have the right to ask you whatever is on their mind! I don't need to tell you how they were conceived (really?), if I like having twins (wow, the are my children!), or what it was like to give birth to them (use your imagination).

I do however, appreciate the people who compliment our family and tell us how blessed we are to have three beautiful children all close in age. I would much rather be told what a blessing twins are then have someone tell me how sorry they feel for me because my hands are full!

My hands are full and my house is chaotic, but I wouldn't have it any other way. I am thankful to have been chosen to be a mom of twins and lucky enough to have been blessed with a third child two years later. I am learning to survive it all and sharing my stories and experiences in this blog!

November 24, 2012

I Survived the Night Before Black Friday Shopping!

Have you all seen or heard of the Nabi for kids? It is an Android based tablet made especially for children outfitted with silicone bumpers to make it super strong against everyday wear by the munchkins. It also comes pre loaded with a bunch of kids books, games, learning activities and music. It looks like this...
Larger Front
Pretty nifty right? So, after doing a bunch of research on kid's tablets, my Dad thought this would make a great Christmas gift for the kids. The thing is, at most places it runs anywhere from $170-$200! My Dad and I both thought that was a lot to spend on an electronic gift for the kids! So we thought we would research a couple of other options.

Well, low and behold as we were looking through the Black Friday Ads on Thanksgiving morning (one of my FAVORITE things to do) we saw that Walmart was going to have them on sale for $120 starting at 8p!!! Do we brave the crowds and try to get one? Was it worth a $70 dollar savings?? How many would they even have available? We decided it was worth it to give it a try.

We put the kids to bed early and since the hubs was watching football we left him home to look after them. Then we headed out for our first Night Before Black Friday adventure!
Since the sale started at 8p we decided to show up at 7:30. The parking lot was absolutely packed, I would say about 80% full and we thought Oh boy, we are never going to get a Nabi, this is CRAZY! We decided to go on in and assess the situation and give it a try. As we made our way through the store, there were literally mobs of people with FULL shopping carts.

We made it back to electronics and the first check out stand we stopped at was the one, it was where the Nabis were being held for the 8p sale. A line had already formed with about 20 or so people. As we were waiting in line I heard the cashier say there were 20 Nabis available and once they were gone, that was it. Oh my, it's going to be close!

Well, let me tell you, as 8p came closer I could feel the anticipation of everyone around us. I actually started to feel an adrenaline rush as we stood there wondering if we would be one of the "luck ones" that would get one of the 20 Nabis. I could see everyone getting their stance ready, as if to attack anyone who got in their way. The tension and excitement was growing. So, I decided to go and stand by the register while my Dad waited in line so I could see how many items each person was purchasing and if we had a chance  at getting one or not. There were a couple of other things being sold at this register and from what people were saying it sounded like some of the people in front of us were not purchasing Nabis. Phew...maybe we would luck out!

8 o'clock rolled around and the line started moving. I watched as several people bought 2 or 3 Nabis at a time and I started to get nervous. (Why? you really get invested when you get caught up in the moment and see everyone else getting so excited!) Finally, my Dad was next in line and there were 4 left! WE DID IT! It was like winning a contest of some sort! Our first Night Before Black Friday trip was a success. Beginners luck? Probably.

I can see why so many people can get addicted to Black Friday Shopping. The deals are absolutely amazing, and you do experience a sort of adrenaline rush when you are caught up in the moment of the crowds, watching the clock and wondering if you are going to get one of the fabulous deals. I can't say that I will make this an annual event, unless I REALLY, REALLY want something they are offering a deal on. I will update you next year on my thoughts on that!

I did do other Black Friday shopping, but it was all online. Kohl's, which is one of my favorite Black Friday shopping destinations, offers all of their deals online starting the day before Thanksgiving. No lines, no waiting, no wondering. They even offer free shipping! So, the rest of my shopping was done from the comfort of my home while in my pajamas with no stress. I got everything I wanted for my family and it will come straight to my door free of charge. Even though the rush of my adventure at Walmart was fun, I think I prefer no stress shopping online, especially when I have access to all the same deals without even leaving the house. We will see if I still feel the same next year when the ads and deals come out!

November 19, 2012

Mommy Survival Tip: Raising a Self Sufficient Child

The idea for this post came from a little girl (3 yrs.) and her brother (5 yrs.) that I recently have had the pleasure of knowing. The two of them have spent some time at our house recently (without their mother) for play dates so I have gotten to know them fairly well. It quickly became apparent to me how much these two children rely on adults to do everything for them. I found myself struggling to get out the door to go to the park or play outside because my own kids would be dressed and ready to go, but these two friends were helplessly waiting for me to put on their socks, shoes, jackets etc. for them.

Watching them struggle and rely so heavily on someone else to do these age appropriate tasks for them made me think about how often I see these behaviors in children of all ages in the schools where I work. I have seen first hand how difficult it is for teachers and staff members to deal with a classroom of 20-30 kids when a significant number of them can't do seemingly simple developmental tasks for themselves, and more importantly they struggle to advocate for themselves.

It is difficult as a parent to sit back and let your child do things on their own when you know you could do it faster by doing it for them or especially when you see them struggling! However, it is necessary for a developing child to find their autonomy, and through finding that autonomy, they build self confidence. By stepping in and doing everything for them when you could be teaching them is where many get into trouble because at some point it becomes enabling. Plus, a perk to teaching and encouraging your child to be independent? Life becomes a little easier for you!

The key words here are teaching and encouraging. I am by no means suggesting that you throw your hands up and expect your children to take care of themselves. I do however believe that it is our responsibility as parents to teach and model self sufficiency and independence in our children. They are capable of SO much more than you even realize and you will be amazed at the little things you can teach them to do on their own. If we don't encourage independent behaviors then we end up with kids and teenagers who lack self esteem and the ability to advocate for themselves. You would be shocked at the number of teenagers I see that don't turn in a homework assignment because they didn't know how to do it and didn't have the skills to ask for help. Or miss out on getting information about a college because they are terrified to talk to the admissions representative. Or just plain can't make a decision because they are so used to someone else doing it for them.

I believe that a large part of why so many teenagers and young adults today seem to have such a huge sense of entitlement is due to the fact that everything has been done for them their whole lives. They expect people to jump when they request something and they are not used to having to be an independent thinker in everyday life.

So, as a parent with young children there are a few things you can do to start encouraging your children to be self confident, independent children and grow into a self sufficient adult.

 Keep in mind to assess where your child is developmentally. Don't give them tasks that they physically can't do because their fine or gross motor movements are not developed enough to be successful at the task. All children are different and you will know best what they are capable of doing. Begin with things like this:

  • Putting on their own socks and shoes, begin teaching right from left but don't freak out if they walk out the door with them on the wrong feet. They feel confident that they did it themselves and it's not the end of the world! They will get the hang of it.
  • Dressing themselves...pants are the easiest, shirts and jackets are a little tougher, but don't let that stop you from letting them try. It's ok to let them struggle a little too, it is a healthy challenge for them.
  • Choosing their own snacks and getting them themselves. I put what they are allowed to choose from on the bottom shelves of the pantry and fridge and give them the power to choose and get what they want.
  • Getting their own drinks. An easy way to do this is to either put juice boxes or pre filled sippy cups on the bottom shelf of the fridge so that they can access them when they get thirsty.
  • Keep step stools in all the bathrooms so they can wash their own hands, and use the stool to get on the potty if necessary.
  • Designate a basket or bin (whatever you prefer) for shoes and socks where they know they always have to put them away, and can go there to pick out their own shoes when it's time to get ready to go somewhere.
  • Designate an area for backpacks, coats etc. My kids have a shelf in the kitchen where they are always supposed to place their backpacks and a shelf in the coat closet that they can reach to place their coats.

This list could go on and on of little things you can do to allow your little ones to be independent. Whenever you are about to do something for them, think to yourself, is this something they are ready to learn on their own? Can I teach them this skill now? Would they benefit from doing this by themselves? How can I encourage them to be independent on this one? If you have specific questions or need an idea for something specific, feel free to email me or comment below!

Trust me, if you have more than one child, or are planning to some day, you will be glad you taught your older kids how to do these things. I promise it makes getting organized and out the door much easier when they know exactly where to go to get what the need and they have been given the responsibility to get ready on their own. It will also reduce the number of times you have to get drinks or snacks for them (we all know when there are several kids, this can be a LOT).

 Again, gauge what your child needs help with and assist when needed. I find that it is helpful to offer help when I see a struggle, rather than just take over. Remember, struggling a little bit while learning is how they learn to keep trying!

November 17, 2012

The Writing's on the Wall!

I thought it would be fun to post something light and funny, and slightly embarrassing. One of my missions this weekend was to erase or touch up a bunch of areas around the house that the kids have taken crayons, pens, and markers to over the past couple of weeks (it's like they sneak them out of the craft box and hide them for later!). I thought we were past this phase, but apparently I completely misjudged that one!

 It was one of those things that I kept putting off doing because it is such a pain to clean/paint! I found that most of them needed more than just the Magic Eraser, they actually needed touch up paint! What have you used to clean your writings on the wall?

Next to the play area closet
In the Kid's bathroom

Inside the play area closet

Next to baby Girl's cloet

And inside her closet!

This has been driving me nuts to finally get it fixed and I am glad I took the time to do it this weekend. Phew, feels much better! I hope you all have a great weekend! Look for Monday's post on Raising Self Sufficient Children.

November 15, 2012

Helping Young Children Create a Christmas Wish List

 It's that time of the year! The Holidays are right around the corner. Christmas shopping has commenced for many. Product commercials have the holiday feel, and toy commercials are flooding the air waves! I realize this happened the day after Halloween! Moving from one Holiday to the next happens so quickly. Sheesh....

I have realized that this is the year my kids (the 5 year olds) are completely cognitively aware of what Christmas is (well,the Hallmark decoration and gift receiving part of it anyway). They see the commercials, request what they would like Santa to bring, and are super excited about what they will end up with. Every commercial they see they say "I want that on my Wish List!"

What I have difficulty with is keeping track of it all! Following three kids and their Wish List requests is like trying to keep up with the daily news. It constantly changes, I don't remember what things are called and I don't want to disappoint! It is also the time of year  that grandmas and grandpas and aunts and uncles start calling for gift ideas for the kids. I can't be unprepared for this! 

My 5 year olds are still very new at writing and spelling so making their entire wish list this way could potentially be a daunting and frustrating task. So, I wanted to find a way for them to visually see the things they wanted and be able to circle them. Then I would help them write a list from the pictures (of course I want to encourage spelling and writing practice every chance we get!), but I wanted to allow them to relax and create their list from pictures first. Sweet! We both benefit! I get actual pictures and names of toys and they get practice identifying and writing/spelling.

As I was trying to figure out how I would do this without printing off a million pages from the internet, the solution fell in my lap. I was walking through Walmart the other day and right there in front of me in a center display near the toys was the Toyland Wish List Book!

TaDa!! There was my answer. Perfect! Of course, it is full of all of the toys that are currently trending from cartoons and by popularity. It is arranged in order from Girls toys, Boys toys, Preschool toys and Family toys. So I picked up three of the books, one for each kid, wrote their names on the top and as soon as we got home they had a hay day looking through the book and having free reign in selecting their toys for their wish list. 

The cool thing is that at the beginning of the book is and actual Wish List template with lines for writing things in as well. So, once pictures are circled, they can then refer back to the spelling of the words and write them in. (see, you can make just about anything educational!)

Now I am fully prepared with names a pictures of everything they really,really want from Santa and the people that will be buying them gifts. Why is this such a relief? Because it is one less thing I have to worry about remembering or preparing for. That my friends, is an accomplishment!

Of course, the other teachable moment is to talk about the less fortunate families that live in our city. I always have the conversation with my children that, if we are going to get new toys from others for Birthdays and Christmas, then it would be a good idea to get rid of some of the ones that we already have and give them to other kids who don't have as much as we do. We have made this a regular commitment before any occasion where they will be receiving gifts from others. I have found they really enjoy picking out the toys they no long play with that they believe another less fortunate child will enjoy. I constantly remind them of how blessed they are to have the abundance of toys in their play room and how other kids are not so lucky. I am always a proponent of instilling a humble and grateful attitude in my children, it is never too early to teach about these things.

My next task? Finding the time to go shopping for the little boogers :) 

November 14, 2012

What do you mean there's two?? Twins?!?!

Yup,it's true, those were the first words out of my mouth when we received the news!

There I was, laying on the table in the ultrasound room waiting for the tech to find that beautiful heartbeat of my very first baby. My husband and I were patiently waiting in anticipation of that sweet little beating sound. Finally the tech says, "There it is! I found it!" a feeling of relief and joy washed over the two of us as we saw and heard that tiny little beating pin point....

What the tech said next forever changed our lives. 
"And there's another one!"  (insert rewinding cassette tape sound) Wait, WHAT?? What do you mean there's another one, another what?? Foot, head, arm??  "Another heartbeat! Twins! Congratulations!" My husband's first response was " YES, I knew it! This is awesome!" I was thinking, what do you mean you knew it?! Two babies? At once? How is that going to work exactly?

Then, the wave of sheer panic set in. I thought, how are we going to afford this? What is the pregnancy going to be like? Am I going to be able to handle twins? Will they be healthy? What's going to happen to my body? How will we SURVIVE this??

Honestly, I think I was in a daze pretty much the entire pregnancy. Maybe that sounds horrible, but I was not prepared for that news at all. A lot of people would have been jumping for joy, I was terrified. This was my first pregnancy, and I was going to be carrying two babies. I was 26, 5'2" and 125 lbs, trying to picture myself with two little beings in my belly was, to say the least, terrifying.

And so, on that day in November 2006, my journey of becoming a mom (something I had always dreamed of) began. I learned that as soon as it is known that you are carrying twins (or any higher order multiples) you are automatically considered a high risk pregnancy (more on this in another post). This was a scary thought, but I knew that meant that I would be monitored closely. I absolutely loved my doctor and I knew that he would take good care of me.

Once the shock of the twin new set in, I slowly started to get used to the idea. Although I was in a daze (exhaustion? hormones?), I began to realize how blessed I was to get two babies at once. Our families were overjoyed and thought that it was the best news we could have gotten.

Here is what I learned that year:

  • Life does not always go as planned
  • Some things are really a true blessing in disguise
  • I am MUCH stronger (physically and emotionally) than I ever thought I was
  • We are so lucky to have a loving and supportive family
  • Twins are a miracle of human life, a beautiful surprise
  • My husband is one of the most loving, nurturing and beautiful people I know
Little did I know at the time, that this was just the beginning of our adventure as parents. In the past five years, there have been many ups and downs. An abundance of learning about life for myself and my husband. A plethora of poopy diapers, loads of spit up, laundry up the wazoo, toys took over, a new definition of fun...these are just a few things that come to mind. 

What I do know is that I survived the pregnancy and I am now surviving motherhood one day at a time. I wouldn't have it any other way and I now would love to share my experiences and theories on parenting through this blog. I hope you find it funny, resourceful, and especially honest and relate able.