Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Drop The Needle

There is a 3% chance of conceiving fraternal twins.  We were very lucky and won the million dollar family lottery.  There is about a 10%  chance of developing moderate side effects to the chickenpox vaccine - Molly won that sweepstakes including a fever that bordered on the verge of a trip to the emergency room.*  A doctor's appointment Monday confirmed that this fever was not a virus - it was a moderate to severe reaction to her shot.  It was a scary week and we continue to monitor her regularly as side effects could continue for another 3 weeks.**

 Jack's Immunization Record (AKA Daycare Passport)

I'd never given much thought to refusing vaccination for my children, until this week.  I grew up knowing friends of my parents who were suffering from Polio related issues as adults.  My aunt died from cervical cancer, so I am going to encourage Molly to get her HPV vaccine when she gets older (even though ultimately the choice will be hers).  I am a total klutz so a Tetanus shot just makes sense, because let's face it, it's only a matter of time before Molly or Jack cut themselves on the back of their leg while simultaneously destroying a new pair of Ocean Pacific*** shorts that their mother has just bought for them while attempting to retrieve a tennis ball from a neighbour's yard.****

There's also the issue that earning a daycare place for your children in the city of Toronto is a competitive sport and being able to produce a fully filled out immunization record for your infant is like winning the coin toss before the match begins.  No one can deny your child access for not having their shots, but they can make your child stay home if an outbreak occurs and some day cares won't let you return until there is proof that they've been immunized.  I think I'd cry if I had to count up all of the money spent for days that my fully immunized children were not at daycare because they were sick with fevers, rashes and anything viral and disgusting. 

At this point Molly and Jack get one more booster (the second half of the one that contains Tetanus and Polio) at their 18 month check up and then nothing more until they turn 4 when it becomes decision time for Chris and I.  I'm feeling some guilt about not researching immunizations and making a more informed decision about our children and their shots.  That being said I don't have a crystal ball and I wasn't anticipating almost a week of scary feveral symptoms.  Somehow a bunch of Calamine Lotion and some itchy skin doesn't seem so frightening.

This is me at 6 months old with Chicken Pox, covered in Calamine Lotion, clearly it impacted my appetite severely....Cause I know what you're thinking, that poor kid is wasting away to nothing.

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*Worst Jackpot Ever.
**Chickenpox Vaccine Side Effects
***It was the 1980's, they were preppy cool and you know it.
****I am the worst at climbing anything and I still don't know who was more upset about the destroyed plaid shorts, me or me mom.

Sunday, 27 January 2013

Blaze of Glory

Growing up as a middle child, hand-me-downs were a given.  Toys, clothes, bikes, books, you name it, I was second in line to get it.* The weirdest pass alongs were the story books.  Apparently my sister fancied herself as a fictional villain vigilante.  She would attack the bad guys in her story books with crayons, markers, chewed up gum and if she really hated them, she'd poke pin holes in their eyes.  I seriously question my mother's supervision during play time based on the supplies my sister readily had available to deface the "bad guys" and the time she had to really "get them good".  This meant that for me, receiving a new, non-vandalised book was an extra special treat. 

One of the first non-hand-me-down books I ever remember receiving was my very own copy of The Velveteen Rabbit.  A story that depressed me greatly as a weird child who would routinely alternate which toys she would play with so that the others wouldn't get jealous.  The thought of the threat of a scarlet fever infected stuffed rabbit being burned horrified me, but back then I didn't understand germs or disease.  I just understood that I liked my toys and that I didn't want anything bad to happen to them.**

Image of The Velveteen Rabbit courtesy of: soulsurfer.wordpress.com -
 (obviously infected with something - or knows that he's about to become ash)

Now that I am a parent and deal with the playground plague on a routine basis I side with the parents who are trying to rid their home of scarlet fever infected anything.  You can bet your bottom dollar that when it comes to infectious disease and the minions and I'd be using explosives and a blow torch to ignite that infested rabbit before the Nursery Fairy could save that rascally rabbit.  I remember thinking how callous those parents seemed about setting everything in that poor little boy's room ablaze, whereas today if it was Chris and I we'd be celebrating the nursery fire like we were John McClane at the end of Die Hard.***

It has not been a good week.  We have had ill children and very little sleep.  Molly has a fever that will disappear and then come back with no warning, spiking as high as 104 (1 degree shy of emergency room time).  We cancelled our Saturday night plans that we'd been looking forward to for almost a month and put a pause on our life again to take care of sick children and it doesn't seem to get easier.  I am disappointed when things fall through but that isn't the worst part.  The worst part is the fear.  When you see your child go from playful and effervescent to glassy eyed and listless you feel an incredible powerlessness that I can't explain.  You want to will them better, but you can't.  Instead you carry around your little girl all weekend like you're Kanga and she's Roo and hope that she gets better soon.

 In these difficult, sleepless times it's hard to know what to do, but here are some services that have really helped us out late at night, on a holiday Monday or during a snow storm when we've had to deal with sick minions.  I hope that you don't need them.  If they aren't local to you ask your doctor or nurse practitioner for services available in your area.****  It also helps to know where your nearest late night and 24 hour pharmacy are - just in case.

Telehealth Ontario - 1-866-797-0000  - Free access to a registered nurse 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

 Medvisit -Doctor's House Call Service - Free of Charge with your OHIP Card - www.medvisit.ca or  416-631-3000

 Ontario Poision Centre - 1-800-268-5900 - we have never needed this one - but have it programmed into the phone just in case.

*Years ago my mother thought it would be cute to dress my sister and I in matching outfits for school picture day.  What made this particularly tragic was first, that my older sister was wearing the same thing on photo day as her little sister who was five years younger and second that my only "new" clothes were repeated in duplicate, half a decade later as hand-me-downs.
**It was bad enough that half of the characters in my bed time stories had soulless pin holes for eyes thanks to my older sister.
***Yippee Ki Yay Mother F*&#r!.
****When I told our nurse practitioner that I'd called Telehealth one night during a croup scare she reminded me that their office has a doctor on call 24 hours a day 365 days a year - something I was told when I signed up with the medical centre five years ago and long since forgotten about.

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Story of A Girl (And Boy)

Books have always been a big part of Chris and my lives.  One of my favourite rituals with the minions is their nightly bed time story after bath time.  There is this calm quiet in that 15 minutes that I just love no matter how rough of a time we've been having that evening.  I remember bed time stories from my childhood and am convinced that these stories helped make me the fiction freak I am today.  A blog post that I read earlier this week from Mayhood reminded me how many crummy books there are out there.

When Chris and I first started reading to Molly and Jack it was clear that they didn't understand what we were reading to them so I would just read them whatever I was reading whether it was the instruction manual for the bouncy seat, the latest issue of Grid Magazine or whatever book I was reading.*  Then when they became more cognisant of the world around them we figured it was time to concentrate on books that were more geared towards children.  There are a few issues surrounding this, first a lot of children's books are AWFUL or classic Grimm Type stories are incredibly violent in a way that scares me as an adult.** 

A few weeks ago I went to a baby shower where the mother-to-be asked for books for baby instead of cards, since usually cards are read once or twice and books get read to children almost every night.  Cards can cost up to about $10 (I recently went to Chapters to purchase a wedding card and almost everything I found was between $7-$11) - so a wisely chosen book is comparable to a card anyway or you can incorporate it into your gift budget easily.  This is one of the nicest ideas I've heard of in a long time!

Since we spend a lot of time looking for new books (usually used books that are new to us) I thought I'd share some of our favourites (some classic, some more off the beaten path) from all sorts of categories!  Click on the links to find out more about each book and post any hidden gems you've found in the comments section!

Paper Bag Princess Costume Photo Courtesy of Frankie James

For the Modern Girl/Woman/ Emerging Leader
The Paper Bag Princess
Stephanie's Ponytail

Humour for the Kids & Adults
The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales
When  I Grow Up - by Weird Al Yankovic***

Canadiana Classic
The Hockey Sweater

Humour for the kids
Don't let the Pigeon Series
Dinosaur Vs. Bed Time


Humour for Adults & Kids, Maybe More for the Adults Though
Highly Inappropriate Tales for Young People

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*Molly's unnatural attention (at 3 months old) to my oration of Rob Lowe's biography was a little concerning.
**Poor Karen never knew what was coming when she picked out those Red Shoes, as if getting shoes onto a toddler/child isn't hard enough without them fearing shoe related possession.
***Yeah, it's logical, but still weird.

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Molly's Lips

You know that it's going to be a great week when you spend your coffee break Googling "how to get rid of vomit smell".*  Molly has treated us with a three night performance of Vomit in the Nursery, followed by a third night duet (with her brother) of tandem partnered screaming in shifts of 45 minutes for four and a half hours. Molly is at the tale end of a cold and when she gets congested at night she has a coughing fit that ends up in maximus vomituos eruptous, usually around the time that Chris and I are getting ready to go to bed, this paired with a new addition of duelling diarrhea.   So not only do you have to pretend not to be grossed out by your puke/feces covered toddler, you need to calm them down, get them rinsed off and changed while the other person strips the sheets, Lysol everything and begins yet another run of laundry for the evening - all of this with the fact that you're trying not to wake the other child** and that you know that in two hours a ravenous child will wake you up with their post heave hunger pangs/ the next time they crap their pants.

This Exorcist behaviour makes me think about something I read in Christopher Shulgan's memoir Super Dad: A Memoir of Rebellion, Drugs and Fatherhood - When you have young children and are sleep deprived, never watch movies that contain evil or possessed children.  The problem is, I don't need a refresher course on the horror movies or pop culture references that remind me of my children, particularly at 4AM when I'm bleary eyed and slowly rocking Molly in our living room rocking chair while singing my fourth loop of Nirvana's Molly's Lips to try to keep her quiet.  So what do you do when you're up in the middle of the night with your children trying to will them to sleep using the force?  I created my own urban parent crisis dictionary to bring some humour to our random calls onto the night shift, notice the horror movie theme.

The Exorcist
Famous for: projectile vomiting pea soup

Infamous in my house for Molly's touchy stomach and the sheer volume of bile 22lbs of toddler is able to produce.

Photo Courtesy of: Paul Gorman

Dark (Evil) Willow
In Buffy the Vampire Slayer (Joss Wheadon) Willow would turn evil from time to time and become Dark Willow.  Dark willow was known for saying things like, "Bored Now." followed by doing something, well violent and evil.

Molly's two newest words or phrases are "Mine." and "Taking it." Things that she'll often say just moments before stealing a toy from Jack and then beating him with it.

Acronym means: Cannibalistic Humanoid Underground Dweller or Contamination Hazard Urban Disposal - from 1984 Comedy Horror Movie.

Basically any time Jack is teething he is The CHUD, last night both children had "The CHUDS"

King Kong Butt (AKA Baboon Butt)
Often a result of "The CHUDS".  This may cause screams of sheer pain, require an insane amount of zinc cream, corn starch baby powder or have toddlers throwing large wooden barrels at you.***

Photo Courtesy of: Iain Farrell
The Toxic Avenger
Another 1984 movie where the hero has fallen into a vat of toxic waste.

As parents of infants and toddlers we are all Toxic Avengers, especially when "The Chud" or "The Chuds" come to town.

Lance Armstronging It
 Performance enhancing your tired self with copious amounts of coffee, Red Bull, tea, 5 hour Energy Drinks or anything else to get your through the day.****

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*Apparently vinegar and water or baking soda .  I'll be trying both since it's way too cold this week to rely on opening up windows.
**Although let's be honest - most of the time I could set off an arsenal of fireworks followed by playing the bagpipes and Jack would remain asleep - flushing the toilet at 3AM - that's another story.
***No, wait a minute that's Donkey Kong, not parenthood!
****Too soon?

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Wear My Ring Around Your Neck

I sat alone in the cold confines of the darkened cellar.  My hands were frozen, the blue liquid burned  as I tried to remove the curse one last time.  "One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them, One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them." I screamed in exhausted defeat.

Okay that's a slight exaggeration.  Believe it or not I've never been locked in the basement*, nor have I ever been a character in Lord of the Rings, but if I was I'd be Gimli the Dwarf.** 

Baby Gimli the Dwarf: Photo Courtesy of goingonsix

If you are pregnant, or if you find yourself pregnant and you wear rings, do yourself a favour, mark on  a calendar, or set up an outlook or Google appointment or whatever you kids do these days to take off your rings at around week 30 of succubus (or incubus) gestation.  Don't arrogantly say, "My hands aren't swollen, I'll take the rings off a week or two before my due date."  Summer swelling was not kind to my fingers, then at our presurgery appointment I was told that I would need to remove the rings from my hand, because some jewelry and body piercings increase your risk of burns from surgical equipment.  In my horomone filled mind I envisioned something similar to when a vampire walks into the sunlight.***

So after this consultation just two weeks before surgery I began my quest to remove my wedding and engagement rings.  The worst part about trying to get rings off of a swollen finger is that the more that you pull, the more that it swells.

I began to panick as I searched for answers...Here's what I tried, while I sat in our basement trying to stay cool in the July heat while watching episodes of Make Room for Multiples.  I spent about an hour on this every morning before the heat and gravity set in for the day making the rings impossible to move.

Here's what I tried:
What worked:

Ice, Windex, scotch tape and an hour of prying worked to remove my wedding band, but no matter what I tried my engagement ring wouldn't budge.  MacGyver fail.  In fact the attempted removal started to cut up and irritate my pudgy swollen hand.****  One evening I tried to convince Chris that he'd have to take me to a jeweller and, "Cut it off, Cut it off now!"  He laughed at me and insisted that we wait until surgery day to see what the surgeon said.  I reluctantly agreed.

The ring was never removed from my finger.  They simply put some surgical tape around it after they tried to remove it with soap and it wouldn't budge.  If I was burned during surgery I never felt it, likely because I had spent the last week pickling my hand in Windex.

Lesson learned, in the last trimester of pregnancy be less like Gimli, more like Frodo.  Wear the ring around your neck!

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*Our basement doesn't even have a door.  A baby-gate yes, but no door.
**I'd like to be Sam because I'm so kind and pure of heart, or Gandolf because I am so wise or even Arwen because of my beauty, but let's get real, I'm small but mighty and filled with rage.
***A real vampire, not Edward Cullen.
****I'm sure the insane amounts of Windex I was pouring on it couldn't have been good by the way it was beginning to burn.

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Don't Worry, Baby

A number of weeks ago a friend of mine gave birth to her first child, a beautiful baby girl.  She was kind enough to share with me the story of her home birth and it got me thunking my thoughts.  Once you're in the land of parenting it's easy to forget how freaking scary being pregnant can be because of all of the unknown.  My grandmother (non-twin grandmother Alice) once told me that the most terrifying moment of pregnancy is when you realize, "That little bugger's gotta come out somehow."*  For a month before my scheduled Cesarean birth I would sit up in the middle of the night** and madly research everything there was to know about C-sections. 

I had never been in the hospital over night before, let alone scheduled for (gulp) surgery.  I madly researched mortality rates of women undertaking this major surgery and emailed friends and facebook acquaintances about their C-section experiences, trying to convince myself that everything was going to be okay.  What I found was a range of experiences, mostly positive, but those aren't the ones I was reading about in the middle of the night.  In the final weeks of pregnancy a handful of friends unknowingly mentioned news stories surrounding an outbreak of c-difficile at local hospitals sending me into another nightly tailspin/Google-searchathon.***

Jack's Ultrasound Photo

Below is the beginning of my C-section story and why we chose to go that route (and it's not because I think I'm too posh to push).

Why I Chose to Have A C-Section
There was no love lost for me in opting out of the home birth scenario even though I understand the appeal - especially after the baby arrives and you can be at home together rather than under strict hospital regulation.  I never day-dreamed of a natural birth experience in my living room.  A few years ago a family member told me that they had to lock up their cats during their home birth so they wouldn't attack them during labour.   Anything that's going to turn my house into an episode of Animal Kingdom - When Cat's Attack, isn't going to sell me on the beauty of the experience.

I have never felt like a failure for not being able to experience labour.****  My woman warrior experience was carrying two babies to full term on a 5 foot 1 frame.  Given the high risk of my pregnancy, complete with Jack being breech for most of my pregnancy, most midwives wouldn't touch us with a ten foot pole anyway. So, Chris and I evaluated our options, through extensive discussions with our doctor and the instructor of the online prenatal class we took.

At about 32 weeks into my pregnancy we booked the C section.  Based on the positioning of Molly and Jack, odds were at around one in three that if I went into natural labour with Molly that I'd have to get an emergency C-section anyway.  Even if I didn't have a C-section they may have to use the vacuum or forceps for the removal of Jack.  The spinal freezing was also going to be mandatory just in case of the need for emergency surgery.  There was also a chance that Jack could lose oxygen and have some brain damage in the time between Molly's birth and his own.  We decided that #1 we didn't want to chance any brain damage for Jack, #2 I didn't like the idea of having to recover from labour and giving birth AND surgery while taking care of newborn twins.  Another bonus of the C-section, provided that I didn't go into labour early, was that I was ensured delivery with the doctor who had taken care of us through my entire pregnancy.*****  So we booked the surgery and sent the eviction notice to the minions at 38 weeks.

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*She'd also yell, "Shoot him now, he'll never be happier!" whenever she saw anyone win anything on reality tv.
**2AM was Molly's scheduled in utero dance session.  Jack preferred kick aerobics at 4AM.
***Talking about infections that you can get in a hospital in front of someone who is weeks away from major surgery is not a good idea, especially when they're jacked up on pregnancy hormones.
****It's called labour, people!  How good does that sound?  I swear rampantly when I stub my toe.
*****The average length of gestation for twins is 36 weeks and a lot of people go into labour early, thankfully I didn't, however I was given two steroid shots at around 32 weeks to help develop the minions lungs should they arrive early.

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Why Does it Always Rain on Me?

I recently looked at our family calendar and was again reminded of how much of my friend circle has become the sisterhood of maternity pants*.  This weekend as I sat down for a lunch at a fairly traditional baby shower I began to think about different types of showers and how you can mix things up for the non-traditional mom & dad, mom, dad, mom & mom, dad & dad to be. 

What about showers for those who already have kids or already have what they need? These are sometimes called a Sprinkle and a nice way to celebrate with a "light shower".

Chris's Umbrella Project**

Below are some alternatives to the traditional shower that I liked best including events that can include both parents or used for gender specific guest lists.

High Tea
Going out for a nice tea with sandwiches and a little high culture and luxury with good conversation, family and friends before the world of family fun dining and cold food that you scarf down in two minutes flat begins.

This is an easy going Barbecue to celebrate some adult friendly fun with friends and family before the baby arrives.  Some people even suggested games including a pinata full of aspirin and condoms.

Sip & See
This is a cocktail party after baby arrives so everyone, mom included, can sip drinks and meet the baby. 

Stock the Freezer Party
Like a pot-luck, but without the sharing.  This is a great way to make the first few weeks of parenthood easier.   Guests can also give gift cards for local take-out and delivery restaurants for those who don't have a ton of freezer space.

Diaper & Booze Party
Guests bring diapers, wipes, cloth or disposable - depending on the parents, or some booze.  This way parents have drinks to offer guests when they come out to meet the baby and mom gets to enjoy some of her favourite spirits that she's been tea-totalling away from for nearly a year.

Shelter Shower
The focus on this shower is on giving back. All of the attendees are to bring items to take to a women's shelter.  People can bring used or new items.  Items can be brought for children of all ages and can include: clothes, toys, bottles, diapers, formula etc.

What are the best alternatives you've seen for showers?  How do you feel about the new trend of the dadchelor party?

Chris's Umbrella Project**

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*I'm going to copyright that.  Dibbs.
**About four years ago Chris and I were on vacation in New York and there was a huge downpour.  The next day we passed by over a dozen abandoned broken umbrellas and thought it was interesting, so Chris thought it would be a good idea to start taking photos of these umbrellas disposed of in utter frustration.  An art project was born.  Then some of our friends joined in and started sending us photos of ones they found.  Some of our favorites are framed in our front hallway.  These are two pictures from the collection.

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Walk Like A Man

Today is a big day.  Today I have changed the descriptor of "mother of fraternal infants" to "mother of fraternal toddlers" in the header of my blog because Jack is walking.  He took his first steps almost exactly a week after his sister, which is another factor encouraging our speculation that Molly is actually a week or two older than her brother.  Technically with fraternal twins this is possible.*  I've also been told that it can take up to two years for twins to "catch-up" to their singleton playmates growth and development wise.  Like anything Jack related, the path to walking happened at his own pace.  Jackie speed: a new measure of time that fully encompasses distracted little boys everywhere.

Jackie's B-Boy Pose.

Here is the evolution of Jack's path to walking....

The Roll Over
Molly was excited about her new found ability.  Jack was terrified because his world had been turned upside down - literally.

The Creep (AKA the Commando Crawl)
For months** Jack didn't crawl, while Molly did.  He creeped around the floor using only his arms and dragging his belly and legs behind them.  All you could hear on our floor was a synchronised slapping of his hands followed by the sound of his body being pulled behind him.  This resulted in him essentially doing perpetual push-ups around our house for weeks.***

The Bear Crawl
We thought he was copying the cat when he'd slowly stumble around the floor on all fours with his arms and legs unbent - like an AT-AT Walker.  He would try the bear crawl for a few minutes and go back to his standard thump and drag approach to mobility.

The Standard Crawl
It took a while (at around 9 months) but he finally got there.  Over the past several months he's perfected this crawl and has become excessively and eerily fast like a creepy spider or crack squirrel, especially when he's chasing other kids, our cat or cookies.**** 

The Walk
Last week, when Chris picked up Jack from daycare he excitedly walked across the room to greet his dad.

And now, he can pull almost anything off the kitchen counter.  Last night he broke another dish.  Stay tuned for "Baby Proofing - This Time They're Mobile".

To learn about all of the different types of crawling or pre-crawling - check out this interesting link from Parents.com

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*Technically fraternal twins could also have two different fathers.  I saw something on Maury Povich about that once.
**Like 3 months, not a few weeks.
***My son's shoulder muscles are akin to something you would see in a Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch video.
****You have no idea how long I've been waiting to incorporate the Brixton Crack Squirrels into a blog posting: http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2005/oct/08/drugsandalcohol.patrickbarkham

Friday, 11 January 2013

Lullaby - A Reader's Question

About a week ago I received my first email question from a reader.  I am thrilled for this honour.* Any suggestions for other readers in the comments are welcome and encouraged!  We're all in this together to help each other through this wacky world of parenting.**

If you have any questions you'd like answered, twin, baby or otherwise, or suggested topics for future blog entries drop me a line at multiplemomstrosity@gmail.com

Our twins are 6 months old and don't nap.  The only way we can get them to nap is to swaddle them, place them in a giant double boppy on our bed, put a bottle in their mouths and never leave the entire time. Or they wake up and it's all over. This happens one time per day, and it strikes us as probably a bad habit.  They sleep 7-8 hours overnight.  What worked for you?  Did you do any form of sleep/ nap training with your kids?  - Napless in Toronto

Molly Napping age 6 months

If your kids were sleeping 10-12 hours straight overnight I'd suggest you'd give your husband a high five and forget about nap training or naps all together.  We are lucky (right now) and our kids sleep 11-12 hours over night right now and take a 1.5-3 hour nap during the afternoon most of the time, but it wasn't always that way. From what I know babies generally take 2 naps a day (shorter) until about 9-10 months when they move to one longer nap, so if you can't get even one in that has got to make things tough.
 Twin specific suggestion:
  • Try separating them...Molly wakes from naps (or anything) else easier than Jack - They sleep in the same room overnight (they even shared a crib for the first two months), but for naps needed to be kept apart for the first 6-8 months. I'd have Molly nap in her room and put Jack in our living room while I watched TV or read, or slept elsewhere.
    WORST CASE SCENARIO: they freak out...sometimes when Molly wakes up and Jack isn't in the room with her she goes into full blown exorcist mode, it doesn't happen often - but it happens.
General Napping Suggestions:
  • Create some background noise: By putting on some white noise it allows for babies to sleep better if the phone rings, someone knocks on the door, if you drop an empty bottle down two flights of stairs or if your step is more like Godzilla taking down Tokyo than one of the shoemaker's elves.***  Things we have used to create background (soothing noises) are: The Sleep Sheep,  turning on the bathroom fan beside their room, soothing music on a CD (I personally love the Rockabye Baby series) or put on the radio
  • Follow their cues: I once read that you should try to get your baby down for a nap after the first yawn, this isn't always possible, but a good indicator or time to start trying.  Molly will suck her thumb and curl up with a blanket when she's tired.  That's how we know it's nap time.  Jack will literally fall asleep ANYWHERE, ANYTIME when he's tired.
  • Set the scene: At bed time (night) we do bath, pyjamas, bottle, story then sleep.  Try to create a nap time routine too, maybe a story, a back rub, turn out the lights, pull blinds and give them some milk.  I know that you aren't supposed to put a baby to bed with a bottle, because it will cause tooth decay and turn them into degenerates or whatever else. If you're super worried, give them a bottle with some water.**** 
  • Try some movement: If nothing else is working you can try a baby swing or a car ride to soothe baby to sleep.  The only trick is to stop the movement once they're asleep.  This baby swing I was given by my friend JLP worked great for Jack, but Miss Molly hated it, I'd say if you want a baby rocker buy used or at least try it first, these aren't cheap and may just collect dust.
  • Never wake a sleeping baby: Just enjoy that they're getting the sleep that they need and take a break yourself.

*Finally a request for solicited advice!
**I apologise in advance if my suggestions completely backfire, but remind you I do not claim expertise in anything other than dumb luck.
***Chris often complains that I don't putter around the house, I stomp, even when I'm trying to tread quietly.
*****My mom used to put me to bed with juice - not half juice half water - JUICE....sometimes two bottles.  You know what happened?  Nothing...first teeth are called milk teeth because babies drink milk.   

Thursday, 10 January 2013

Give it to me Baby

A long time ago* in a far-away land, a beautiful young(ish) mother and father-to-be filled out their baby registry.  I can tell you now - they didn't know what they were doing.  They were first time parents and fairly completely clueless about what they'd need for their two impending bundles of joy.

The problem with baby showers and registries is that you don't know your baby yet and as novice parents you really don't know what you are going to need.  And you aren't going to know whether or not your child will hate the really expensive bouncer that their grandparents purchase them off of the registry.**

2012 marked a pregnant pause in arrested development amongst my 30 something peers - it was the year of mass conception.  What does this mean to me?  Other than finally having a place to ship the masses of  baby gear that Molly and Jack have outgrown?  It means that it's not Duck Season, it's not Rabbit Season - It's Baby Shower Season!

Below is my practical guide to navigate baby gift registries and beyond: I hope you find it helpful when registering or purchasing:

The Big Ticket Items:

Going together with a few people for these items really help the expecting parent(s) save some dough and will get used:
  • Stroller
  • Rocking Chair
  • Crib
  • Bassinett
  • Car Seat
  • High Chair
  • Baby carrier/bjorn***
  • Change table

The Practical Items: These are items that you truly can't have enough of!
  • Wash cloths
  • Hooded Towels
  • Bibs
  • Socks
  • Extra Large Receiving blankets****
  • Umbrella Strollers (or beater strollers - cheap ones that you can beat the crap out of that fold down to the size of a brolly)
  • Digital thermometer
  • One piece sleepers in various sizes with zippers*****
Image Courtesy of Amazing Diaper Cakes

Un-registered gifting: These have been some of my favourites that i've seen or been gifted myself:
  • Gift certificate for a pre or post-natal massage
  • A baby photographer booking
  • Gift card to have pictures printed
  • Wall mount wet/dry vac*****
  • Art work for the nursery
  • Diaper Cake (for those who are going the disposable route)
  • Personalized Blankets (initials or name if known)
  • Anything hand knit
  • Really cute unusual onesies and outfits that force parent's interests onto their offspring
  • Gift cards to Once Upon a Child, Baby Gap, Babies R US or anywhere that parents can get those last minute items they didn't know they needed
  • Gift basket including anti-bacterial hand sanitizers, soaps and wipes
  • Good quality children stories, that parents like too.*******

What were the most useful items on you've received or seen as shower gifts?

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*About 22 months ago.
**Ahem - Molly.
***Or carriers if the mother to be is packing multiples.
****For some reason most of these only come in newborn sized, you need the extra large ones to keep your baby burritos fresh, and swaddled.
*****Do you know how hard it is to line up matching buttons on a sleeper at 4am? 
******You'll understand when they start eating throwing solid food.
*******If I have to hear Sister Bear tell on Brother Bear one more time, that little snot is going to get a beating.  Wow, threatening children's literary characters, a new low - even for me.

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Headbanger's Ball

What would you say if I told you that my son was a headbanger?  Immediately images of an acne riddled 15 year old in a metal t-shirt with too tight jeans and long hair pop into my head* not a little cherubesque blonde toddler. 

A few days ago a concerned daycare employee approached us about Jack.  "Do you know why he keeps on banging his head on the floor?" she asked.  "Like falling?" I asked dumbly.  "No purposefully smacking the side of  his head against the floor, aggressively." she explained. I didn't know, I hadn't seen that new milestone yet and could only come up with a sarcastic answer like, "He's listening  to the ground." so I opted for silence.

Jack is teething like crazy.  He is getting 4 molars right now, one on each back corner of his mouth.  Unlike Molly, who would be writhing in pain, he's a little more stoic.  His cheeks are so red that he looks like a combination of the Flaming Stayt Puft Marshmallow Man and a Campbell's Soup Kid.

Image Courtesty of: ScrewAttack
Image Courtesy of Google Images via LifeOntheCutOff's Blog 

Over the next few days the head banging has progressed: he bangs it in the house, he bangs it with a mouse, he bangs it here or there, he freaking bangs it everywhere.  Sometimes he'll scream a short cry of pain, bang his head and then continue with his playing.  So I called our nurse practitioner, who assured me that it's (likely) related to the molars or some sort of ear infection.  We have an appointment booked later this week.  Either way we're dosing him up with Advil for the pain and hoping he keeps his "rocking-out" to a minimal. 

This assurance didn't prevent me from looking up some information about head banging:
  • Toddlers may bang their heads to distract themselves from pain
  • Up to 20 percent of babies and toddlers bang their heads on purpose**
  • Boys are three times more likely to be head bangers than girls***
  • Head banging often peaks between 18-24 months of age and is outgrown by age three

Most sites talk about it at bed time, although that's not when Jackie likes to Rock out a la Pantera's own Phil Anselmo.*****

Other things to remember:
  • Don't chastise them (I am finding this one particularly difficult, especially when Jack started smashing his head against the grocery cart the other day), they are trying to communicate with you, simply try to redirect them to another activity - like moshing.
Image Courtesy of Shirt O Fun

*Bad stereotype I know - but I am a child of the 1980's.
**Source: http://www.babycenter.com/0_head-banging-why-it-happens-and-what-to-do-about-it_63575.bc
*** Direct quote from my mother, "So now it's confirmed - it takes boys 3 times as long to figure something out as it does girls"
****Although hopefully less jerky and without a heroin addiction.  Maybe more like this four year old, but if she was slamming the side of her head against the floor: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WOAlX1PyPak

Saturday, 5 January 2013

Step By Step

Well, it finally happened.  One of the minions finally surpassed the cat in terms of superiority.*  That's correct...just shy of five days before they turn 17 months, someone walked.  All of that time spent walking up and down hallways holding hands and bribing them to take a step to daddy baited with the promise of Smarties have finally paid off.  We decided a long time ago that we weren't above bribery or trickery in parenting, we wear it like a badge.

Both kids have creeped and crawled for ages and we'd thought we were on the verge of first steps for months now, but with the toddler room just over a month away** it was time to  take our efforts up a notch on "Operation Walk".  Both babies are really fast crawlers and haven't had much motivation to take things to a homo erectus level.

Late this morning Miss Molly got up from a seated position from the centre of the kitchen floor, with no assistance, using nothing but raw core strength*** and took three steps towards me - our definition of true first steps.

We officially have a toddler on our hands, and as we clap our hands to encourage Molly to continue walking I realize that there is one less baby in the house. Silent tear shed here.  In the coming weeks there will be a whole new level of toddler-proofing that I'm sure we are highly unprepared for.

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*Although both children have a vocabulary of 5-15 words, the cat is still better at communicating with Chris and I than the children, no offence to Molly & Jack - we have a very smart cat.
**Complete with the mirage-like promise of cheaper fees.
***No help from mom, dad, furniture, the wall or her brother's head to stand.

Thursday, 3 January 2013

Cut Your Hair

This weekend we finally did it!  We took Jack for his very first haircut.  I've wanted to give him a trim for about a month now, but we didn't have time.  Twice while Christmas shopping he was mistaken for a girl and I knew it was time.*  We had a big debate between whether we were going to go the traditional barber route or try one of the places that specialize in children.  After researching prices we decided to go with Melonhead in Bloor West Village.  The cost was $21 (plus tax I think) and he received a certificate to commemorate the occasion along with a photo and saved clips of his locks for his baby book.**  The entire front of the store is set up like an accessory Toy Emporium so you can reward your little munchkin with hair clips, toy ducks, nice smelling shampoo or books about getting your hair cut.

These barbers/hairdressers are experts in cutting straight with a moving target.  And now for the big question, how did he do?

 This is the before picture of Jackie Bear's Shaggy Locks
 Here he is getting his hair cut inside a Thomas the Train Car...They also gave him a toy firetruck to play with to distract him.
The After!  I'm just a boy with a new haircut.  It's a pretty nice haircut!***

Jack was a trouper...He was good the entire time, he only cried once, but that was because he got over excited about the steering wheel on Thomas and smacked his head into it.  We remedied this by feeding him clementine segments.  It turns out that our hairdresser happened to be a mother to 22 year old boy/girl twins, she had mastered the gentle head lock to keep him calm and still while she cut.  They also used silent clippers at the back, so he wouldn't get scared.

Molly will get her first haircut next month.  This time she sat by quietly, intent on watching a four year old boy throw a 30 minute tantrum pre, during and after his haircut****.  This kid's mother literally had him in a bear hug to hold him still while the barber worked.  10 minutes after the haircut, even though he had a giant lolly pop in his hands he was still freaking out, screaming and carrying on.

We judged silently at the store and then vocally on our trip home.  We can judge because we don't have four year olds...yet.  Stay tuned for Molly's performance at her debut haircut next month....I'm guessing it will be operatic.

*Chris still insists that both mistakes were from stupid people who clearly didn't look at his uber masculine face, you know because 16 month old babies are known for their masculinity.
**Or maybe for me to put into my locket so I can stare at it fondly when he's all grown up as if I'm Golum and it's "my precious".  There may be enough hair to serve both purposes.
***These are actually lyrics to a song by the band Pavement
****She always watches other children throwing fits quite intently.  We're convinced she's doing research for future performances.