Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Castles Made of Sand

The minions can't actually say that they're bored yet, but it's pretty easy to tell when they are.  This week the city of Toronto has been a giant slushy and the minions haven't made it outside much: at daycare or at home.  Even prison inmates get yard time, and after more than a day without outdoor play, someone's going to get shanked in their cell....err crib.* 

I've created a handy dandy formula to calculate the percentage of boredom and frustration experienced on rainy/snowy/cold days...

(Number of Temper Tantrums in a 3 hour period X 3) + the number of children in your house sick or teething + (Number of fights over toys X 4) + (Incidents of hitting each other, you, anything breakable, or a pet X 5) + (the number of days housebound X 10) / The number of aspirin or drinks you have consumed

This is how the formula worked out for me last night:
(9 X 3) + 2 + (5 X 4) + (6 X 5) + (2 X 20)/ 1

That's a total of 119% boredom/frustration.  So clearly, either my formula is flawed, or I need to start drinking more.

Tonight, after another day of sleet, I decided that I'd find an activity to bring a little bit of summer into an otherwise crummy winter day.  I did some on line research to look for some activities that were appropriate for toddlers and came across the Indoor Sandbox at Family Education.

Materials required:
  • A large cardboard box, baby bathtub or other shallow large volume container (I cut down a diaper box to make mine)
  • Sand (you can use uncooked rice, rice cereal, bird seed, cedar chips, shredded newspaper,puffed wheat or even real sand or potting soil) - I used half a bag of rolled oats
  • Spoons, funnels, scoops cups, toy cars and things to play with in the Sand Box 
  • A sheet or tarp to put on the floor to help with clean up - I skipped this as you can see with the third photo.
Set Up Time:
  • 5 Minutes, including cutting the box top down to a sandbox appropriate level
The Results - Over 30 minutes to make dinner and tidy the kitchen while they played quietly:

Right after they spotted the indoor sandbox

About 15 minutes in (Note I had already swept the floor once at this point)

The Finale**

Clean Up Time
  • 5 minutes (I repacked and labelled the oats to use again - we'll see how disgusting they get before I throw them out)***
The Verdict
  • Totally worth it - just make sure that they have full bellies to avoid sensory time from becoming snack time.

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*This is one of the many reasons why you unload the dishwasher after the minions go to bed.
**You aren't imagining it, Molly is about to jam a giant fist full of oats into her mouth.  
***I was also a little afraid that if I left the box with oats out the cat would think I'd brought a new litter box into the kitchen.

Monday, 25 February 2013

Shock the Monkey

Chris and I are always trying to update where our children lay in terms of intelligence and the animal kingdom.  A few months ago they both surpassed our cat because they are able to speak a little bit and point (Molly also likes to shush people, blow kisses, wag her finger judgementally and point in a creepy and obsessive way).  Lately Chris has been comparing the minions to terriers, or underachieving monkeys.*

Image Courtesy of Wikipedia.
Recently at daycare drop off, I saw another little girl run up to Molly and ask her if she could play with a farm animal toy that was in her hands.  Molly readily handed over the toy pig and continued playing.  I was shocked.  We had spent the entire weekend breaking up toddler fights over toys, specifically over blocks, the Elmo Chair, sippy cups, bananas, crackers and this little construction man who lives in (and operates) the Duplo dump truck.  My daughter is capable of sharing, and not just with adults who she knows are going to hand the toy in question right back to her, she's capable of sharing with other children, just not her brother.**  Fights included tackling, biting, slapping, hitting, a stand-off around our living room coffee table and Molly hiding Duplo Dan the Construction Man in a shelf filled with stuffed toys, stuffing him between two stuffed gorillas.***

As our weekend as referees wore on, Jack got more and more frustrated by Molly and her need to take anything he was playing with away from him and he began to throw tantrums.  Unfortunately there are several problems about Jack and his mastery of the art of the tantrum:

1) Jack knows that a tantrum is about rolling on the floor and making noise, but doesn't have much dramatic flare.  He sounds more like an Ewok than an upset child and eventually ends up rolling around the floor in play, not anger.

2) He clearly is unaware that his tantrum audience (his sister) is highly unsympathetic. Not only does she not care that he's screaming on the ground, she takes advantage of her opponent laying on the floor by jumping on top of him and hitting him with whatever they were fighting over.

3) Okay, I might as well face it - the boy sucks at tantrums...His sister is just better at them, I might even argue that she is the Queen of Tantrums**** Chris and I have started to coin the boy's little fits as "Tantrum Light".

4) The boy is easily distracted by light fixtures, sparkling things and often stops mid-tantrum to go play with something else or to have a good giggle. 

5) Jack is obsessed with hiding under blankets.  He's taken to the temperament of a parrot, if you put a blanket over him he settles down and he'll do just about anything for a cracker...

So, I asked if Molly routinely shared with other children at daycare.   She does - all the time - just not with her brother.  Not only does this support my theory that Molly is constantly trying to punish us all because she is not an only child but it redefines their rank in the animal/playground Kingdom: Molly - the Monkey, Jack - the bird.

Image Courtesy of Wikipedia.

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*Apparently their sign language isn't Jane Goodall worthy enough to qualify for regular ape levels just yet.
**Molly likes to play by her own rules.  Last week she learned to blow her nose, unfortunately at dinner one night last week we all discovered that to Molly: Kleenex and a slice of blackforest ham are to be used for the same purposes - eating and blowing your nose.
***I think this act of hiding Duplo Dan may bring Molly up to a new level of moderately intelligent, average achieving monkeys.  Perhaps the Monkey Ella from the movie Monkey Shines.
****Listen to me brag about my sweet little girl.

Thursday, 21 February 2013

First Time

A little while ago a friend of mine was kind enough to share with me a post-baby shopping list she created the week after the home birth of her lovely daughter L.  She noticed that when she was preparing for her first days with her daughter she couldn't find a list like this anywhere which would have definitely come in handy and has inspired her to create some awesome little care packages as shower gifts for some of our expecting friends.

 Cabbage patch kids logo.gif
Image Courtesy of Wikipedia

R's Week One Shopping List

Head of cabbage in the fridge
If you haven’t heard this before, you may think I’m crazy. But on day 2, 3, or 4 your milk may come in your breasts and your breasts may get REALLY hot, swollen and tender. A leaf of a cabbage fits perfectly over the breast and is cool. For some reason, even when it gets warm, it continues to sooth.*

 •Drinking cups with straws
You’ll be thirsty for a lot of water, especially when the milk comes in. A water bottle with a screw-top is no good as you’ll likely have only one hand free. I bought my water bottles with straws at Winners.**

 •Epsom Salts
To speed up healing and prevent infections post baby.

 •Squirty Bottle & Baby Wipes to use Post-Bathroom
I don't know why Cottonelle doesn't market their Freshie Fresh commerical to new moms.***

Having pillows of various shapes and sizes can help with feeding as well as residual aches and pains left over from pregnancy.

 •Nipple Cream
Nuff said?

 •Olive Oil
To use for dry skin (yours and babes), cradle cap, sore nipples or if you're at home the actual birth.

 •Disposable Diapers
Even if you're going cloth in the future, they may be a little big or irritate baby's belly button.

 •Depends and Extra Absorbent Maxi pads
These will be for you, sorry!

 •Snacks/prepared food that's easy to make and Eat

 •Nursing gear
Bras, comfy shirts, breast pumps, breast pads

 •An arsenal of clean baby clothes
 •Night Light
For late night nursing/feeding when a night table lamp may be a little too bright
 •Your favourite shows
On DVD, PVR or downloaded and ready to go****
 •Stain removers
For set in drool, spit-up or poo stains
 •A Shower Cap
You may not get to wash your hair every time you shower.  Another good solution dry shampoo such as Burts Bees Powder Products

I would also add on (from my post-surgery list)

 •Extra Strength Advil
For swelling and aches
 •Stool Softener
An unfortunate side-effect of surgery
 •Favourite wine, beer or Spirit
Nothing tasted quite as good as my nightly Guinness after the minions were born!*****

Want to know what to buy that parent expecting their first kid, or to put on your registry click here.  If you are curious about why a new parent needs so many wash cloths click here.

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*There is some sort of joke in my head about cabbage patch kids or cabbage rolls.  
**This certainly beats my no cup approach of sticking my face under the faucet every time I used the washroom.
***If you don't know what I'm talking about - here's the Freshie Fresh Commercial -
****One of my favourite all time quotes from Tina Fey on pumping milk in front of TV - "I chose to pump every two hours while watching episodes of the HBO series Entourage. Over the whir of the milking machine, I could almost hear my baby being lovingly cared for in the other room while Turtle yelled across an SUV, "Yo E, you ever f&*# a girl while she has her period?" - Lesson learned choose your post-baby television programming wisely.
*****The breastfeeding instructor at the hospital told me I could have a bit (1-2 servings) of wine or beer a day while breastfeeding....I took those instructions very seriously.

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Two Princes

There is an ongoing joke in my family about The Emperor's New Clothes.  It started at Christmas many, many years ago and involves a family member of mine running into the living room late one Christmas Eve, wearing nothing but a bathrobe and underwear yelling, "The Emperor's New Clothes!" over and over again.*  This year I asked a few friends to help me find some naked Ken Dolls at local thrift stores to give to the "victim" of the robe assault as a part of their Christmas gift.  My friend T secured me two naked prince dolls from Value Village: Aladdin & Prince Eric, wrapped in plastic for only $1.49.

 Unfortunately I forgot them at home on Christmas Eve and they never made their way to their intended recipient.  The result - they've been kicking around our house for two months now and have made their way into the minions toy pile.  This Sunday Molly found her new favourite toy. Naked Aladdin, cause let's face it, no one really likes Prince Eric.** Molly carried Naked Aladdin everywhere.  This made me a little uncomfortable, maybe it's his dead inside Keanu Reeves eyes, painted on bikini briefs or the fact that he doesn't have nipples.  My daughter prefers a vagabond thief who owns a pet monkey over all other toys, I'm sure this is just the beginning of a series of many sound life choices.  Thankfully she abandoned Naked Aladdin for a cup full of cut strawberries before nap time so we didn't have to have the talk just yet.

This is prince Eric with his clothes on.  Weak sauce, right?

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*Alcohol may have been involved.
**Sorry Ariel, but even you know it's true.

Thursday, 14 February 2013

I Think We're Alone Now

It's important to carve out a little bit of romance in your life, even when you don't have much time or energy, because a little effort can go a long way...

Tonight, after Chris returns home from a work road trip, after we feed, play with, bathe and read to our minions we will melt onto the couch to enjoy our "Valentine's Meal".  He's a big baseball fan, so we're going to watch the movie Knuckleball! while we eat hot dogs, pretzels, crackerjacks and have some beer.*  Then he'll go play floor hockey and I'll probably fall asleep on the couch.

It's not much, but it's carving away a piece of time just for us which is something important.  The winner of the Valentine's Contest also feels this way.  Below is the story of Leanne, who makes time for her special someone, even if it's on the run.  Congratulations Leanne who has won a lovely pair of earrings courtesy of Bright Shadows Jewelry...Also congrats to our runner up S. and thank you to everyone who shared their stories with me.

Photo Courtesy of Creative Commons, Pink Sherbet Photography, D Sharon Pruitt

Leanne's Story

In the Beginning
I was a single mother for 8 years. Then I met the love of my life. Things moved very quickly-we were together for about 3 months when I found out I was expecting. We were both over joyed. 9 months later we welcomed  our 9lb bubbly baby girl. Two years later we were very surprised to find out that we were expecting  again – and even more surprised to find out this time it was twins... a few months later we welcomed our 2 beautiful girls.

Family Complete
At that point we felt our family was complete. We decided that since the twins came via c-section – that I was going to have my tubes tied. We were busy with an exciting and full family life. 

Making Time as a Couple
My husband and I tried to keep sanity when we could – so once a month we had date night, times were tough, money was tight, so some date nights were a quick drive through burger sitting in the car and just talking with no interruptions and most importantly NO KIDS.  We needed time alone, even if it was only for a couple of hours.  It's amazing how much you can talk about and get accomplished with just a little bit of time away, and no kids around.

The Curve ball
Life took us for a huge curve 18 months after the twins were born. I was very sick and back and forth to the Dr. for test after test.   No one had answers for us and then one day the Dr. opted to try one last est. The results: WE WERE SPEECHLESS: the Dr told us we were expecting AGAIN. We couldn't believe it, I'd had my tubes tied!  After a lot of heavy thinking, and talking we realized how thank full we were for this blessing.

The Birthday
The day before my twins arrived my brother lost his life in a terrible accident.  Serendipitously our little girl was born on my brother's birthday. Now our miracle baby is here and loved so much.  Our Family is more than COMPLETE now. God sure does work in mysterious ways.

Taking a Time Out
Keeping the love alive is more than difficult some days, but it's so important to take just 10mins a day for each other.  Stop, embrace in a hug, a kiss and then say 3 important words - I LOVE YOU.  It doesn't always seem that simple, but if its true love, you communicate and work together as a team – IT CAN BE

The Stats
For those of you who are counting –we now have 6 children!
16 year old boy
13 year old girl
5 year old girl
2 year old Twin girls
2 week old baby girl

*If you have a baseball/Blue Jays fan in your life, these baseball Valentine's Day cards are amazing:

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

The Word

This past weekend the minions turned 18 months.  Jack was also horrifically sick with a stomach virus (as was I), It didn't help that he threw up on me 9 times over the course of 6 days.  Late one evening while I was rocking my little boy in front of an episode of Community, he repeated something out of a conversation between characters Britta and Jeff.  A tiny, but distinctive "Dude!" was called out from over my shoulder.  I looked at Chris for confirmation, "Yeah, our son just said dude."

There was a slight delay in my excitement due to extreme exhaustion and frustration, but when I did my periodic check up on how the minions are faring score wise on first words (by 18 months most children can speak around a dozen words clearly)   I decided to do a little check.  Here are the ten most common first words, then there are the first words that my children say....

Individual words: Mama, Dada, Daddy, Kitty, Cat, Doggy, Nana, Grampa, Cousins, Sue, Yes, Jack, Dance, That, Sock, Shoes, Dick*, Santa, Drew, Hello?
Phrases: I'm busy, Taking it, Give it to me, Can I play with that?**, Just a sec, This is that, that is this, Jack no!***, You're welcome.

Individual words: Mama, Dada, Daddy, Bite, Hit****, Nana, Up, Dude, Jack, Attack, Kitty, Cat, Izz (for one of our sitters), More.
Phrases: Jack Attack.

This is super exciting and extremely horrifying at the same time.  First off my kids are parrots when you don't want them to be (Molly) and second when you try to get them to perform you end up getting the Michigan J. Frog treatment.

Michigan J Frog.svg
Image Courtesy of Wikipedia
 By the time they are 24 months they should be saying between 50-300 words. I am convinced that I'm going to be appalled by what we teach them over the next few months. Maybe a swear jar? I don't know how to cure Chris of his constant colourful commentary while driving.

When I was a kid and not allowed to swear, my brother and I developed a secret "swear language" so my mother wouldn't know that we were saying mean things to each other.  All I have to say is this, there are a lot of "households" on the road...and I'm sure my brother would agree.

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*Yeah, I know it's bad right? Surprisingly it wasn't me she picked it up from, it was her dad while he was driving.
**Clearly the girl knows what she wants and isn't afraid to let you know.
***Another parenting triumph on our part.
****Many of these words are in response to Molly, "Taking it" or showing Jack who's the boss.

Monday, 11 February 2013

The Star and the Sea - Part 2

It was 7pm and I was in the operating room for the second time that day.  My over-cautious anaesthesiologist kept on repeating that she had run the blood work that delayed my surgery because it was better to be safe than sorry.  I nodded while the attending nurses rolled their eyes.  A moment before she was about to administer the first freezing needle my anaesthesiologist paused. "Where's the surgeon?" she asked. "She's on her way." one of the nurses assured us all. "I'm not administering the freezing until I have confirmation that she's in the building." she said.  "Here we go again." the nurse in front of me mumbled under her breath.  We sat in awkward, passive aggressive silence while we waited for the call to confirm that Elvis was in the building.  The only thing calming my nerves was my amusement at the tension in the room.  We got the call from my surgeon and it was finally time to administer the needle. 

My back was cleaned with a cool, soapy solution and then I was instructed to bend over as far as I could from my seated position.  This was extremely difficult with the giant moving beach ball sized baby belly in the way.  I wasn't the only hungry one, it felt like the minions were circling my belly like gators awaiting their next meal.  I was instructed to stay still, Molly took this as a sign to kick me as hard as she could.*  They had to reposition me a few times before I was in the proper position.  A kind nurse gave me her hands to hold and squeeze while they administered the first, numbing needle.  It hurt.  A lot and I wasn't going numb.  When they administered the second needle I felt a warm, pins and needles sensation going over just the left side of my body.  I let them know, and they made some adjustments, but I don't know what they were.  I was finally, comfortably numb** from my chest down.  Next they inserted my catheter, shaved my bajingo and moved me over to the operating table.  The surgeon came in and started testing exactly what I could and couldn't feel before she made her first incision as they walked Chris into the room and directed him to the other side of the green curtain by my head.

Our surgeon asked us how we were doing and if we had any questions before she "got down to business"(my words not hers). Chris wanted to know whether on not Molly would be born first.  The surgeon explained that birth order was based on positioning and whomever it was easiest to get out first.  I explained to her why Chris was asking the question, Three days earlier on a car ride Chris mentioned Jack and Molly.  I disagreed and said it was Molly and Jack (since she is twin A).  We then proclaimed that forevermore whomever exited my clown car of a uterus first would have their name mentioned or signed first on all greeting cards and written documentation. 

Chris and I began to talk to each other quietly while the operation began.  I was lucky and didn't feel any of the tugging or redirected pain that I'd read/was told about.  Maybe it was partially because Chris had taken his surgery assignment of keeping me distracted with witty conversation very seriously.  Suddenly out came Molly.  We were all speechless, Molly included.  A nurse showed her to us and took her over to the corner of the room so they could assess her vitals.  Chris turned to me lovingly and said, "Do you know why she's purple?" clearly spooked by the fact that no one seemed to be even slightly dazed by the fact that I had given birth to a Gnap Smurf.  A nurse assured him that once Molly got some more oxygen into her lungs she would no longer be aubergine.

Molly - One Week Old

"Oh my, you've moved." our surgeon said and then explained that Jack was in fact head down (Jack being breach was one of the many reasons for the C-section in the first place) and he had made this bold move in the last week.  They removed Jack, but we didn't get to see him right away.  Jack was hyper-breathing so they had to keep a very close eye on him. 

They sent Chris out into the hallway, with Molly in his arms and instructed him to meet us in the recovery room after they finished stitching me up and decided whether or not Jack would need to get additional treatment.  Jack's breathing regulated while my doctor sewed me up.  She assured me that while she was completing the surgery that she looked at my reproductive system and that everything looked really healthy.***

Two nurses picked me up and placed me on a bed on wheels.  Another nurse handed me Jack and they wheeled me out of surgery into the recovery room.  Still quite frozen, I kept repeating over and over again inside my head, "Don't drop him."  I felt as if we were floating through the halls at 80kms an hour. 

Jack Attack - One Week Old

We were finally together as a family for the first time ever.  Chris and I took turns holding babies while I slowly regained feeling in my toes and began obsessively wiggling them to make sure that everything was all right.  A few minutes later my parents and brother showed up to meet Molly and Jack.  I was feeling very coherent and excited, however, Chris later informed me that my medication had me on a three second time delay, which he thought was hilarious. He was also convinced that our surgeon had pulled a fast one on him purposefully grabbing Molly first.

Over night the babies were tested every two-three hours for blood sugar and other vitals with a blood sample taken by a prick at the back of their feet.  After a borderline result Jack had to give hourly tests for a while until we were able to get three good ones in a row. 

The next morning I was ravenous.  I dug into my breakfast veraciously and immediately regretted it when I threw it up all over the floor just a few minutes later. (I later learned this is a really common side effect after a C-section).  It took me an hour or so to get my nerve up, but I insisted on getting up and walking to the bathroom.  I had been warned that things might feel loose or weird, like organs were going to start falling out of my abdomen, but I was fairly steady, considering and nothing hurt or ached badly.  I even managed to brush my hair, put on a fresh pair of pyjamas and deodorant before any visitors arrived.  By lunch the only medication I was on was extra strength Advil.  I felt like a champ, like we had won some sort of lottery.  Because we had.

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*Molly has been consistent in temperament since she was a zygote apparently.
**As comfortable as you can be in a giant, freezing operating room with 11 near strangers staring at your unmentionables.
***I was relieved that my oil change also involved some diagnostic testing, so to speak.

Thursday, 7 February 2013

The Star and the Sea Part 1

It somehow seems fitting to write about the minions birth day just three days before their 18 monthaversery. 

When we made the decision to have a C-Section I was both incredibly relieved and stupendously horrified at the same time.  One of the items on my wish list* was to have a detailed and honest account on someone else's C-Section so I could know what I was getting myself into.

In the weeks before my surgery when I was in full blown panic mode Chris would ask me, "On the day of the operation, what would you do if the surgeon walked into the operating room and said, I'm going to cut you bitch?" Oddly enough that question always calmed me down and made me laugh when my imagination got the best of me.

The day of surgery we set the alarm clock for 7AM so I could have my "last supper" before I began fasting for surgery.  Yes, I really am comparing my last meal before my children were born to a death row request.**  While we waited for the clock to strike 12, literally, we played cards, talked, showered and tried, unsuccessfully, to take a nap.

At noon my mother picked us up and dropped us off at the hospital.  We knew that we'd be in for 48-72 hours and didn't want to pay the $150-$200 required to stay parked there for a few days.  Registration was a breeze as we'd pre-registered the week before.  Our choice of paying the extra $100 that our insurance wouldn't cover for a private room was the best money I think I've ever spent.***

This is me and Chris at just over 6 months pregnant.

Next Chris and I headed to a four bedded hospital dorm room for people who were awaiting to go into delivery/surgery rooms or who had just had their babies.  I was stripped down to a hospital gown and the nurse took my blood pressure and inserted my IV drip. 

 Everything was seamless at that point, until we met our anaesthesiologist.  She was a wiry, hyper woman who had a nervous energy that did not put me at ease.  She seemed more freaked out about the surgery than I was.  She insisted on trying to remove my ring from my swollen sausage finger for about 5 minutes, even though I explained that I had spent the better part of a week trying to remove the ring with no success.  Once she was done attacking my finger with her little squirrely paws, she gave up and put surgical tape over the ring while she warned me, "The surgical equipment may make this ring burn your hand." and then left.

About an hour later I was called into the operating room to get my epidural while Chris waited in the dorm and changed into his scrubs.  The operating room was big and bright and looked like a giant, insanely sanitary bathroom.  It was also incredibly cold.  I was ordered to sit on a large metal bench for my epidural. They took my blood pressure again.  "Your blood pressure is going up.  Do you know why that is?" the anaesthesiologist asked me as if I was willing it to rise. "Nervous about surgery?" I suggested.  She then called my surgeon saying that she wanted to delay my surgery until we could get blood work done to ensure that I was okay to have an epidural.  From my metal perch I could hear my surgeon insisting that I was okay and that she had run blood pressure tests just a few days before for that very reason. 

The anaesthesiologist refused to give me an epidural and told me that if my blood work came out too high they would have to knock me out for surgery - meaning I would not be awake to meet Molly and Jack.  I was both terrified and livid at the same time - this woman was messing with my birth plan.  They took my blood and then sent me back to the pre-postnatal dorm room.  My surgeon went home to walk her dog while we waited.

My results came back within half an hour as completely normal.  I was both relieved and furious about the overly nervous anaesthesiologist.  It didn't help matters that I was hangry****, cold and had to routinely use a public washroom complete with stall while in a thin cotton hospital gown and dragging around my IV drip like it was Linus's security blanket.

In the mean-time three other women came into the hospital in labour, rendering my operating room  occupied.  So Chris and I sat, in near silence watching Beavis and Butthead and Jackass on the dorm's TV*****, as we heard three other women deliver their babies, all before me.

We were finally given a 7PM surgery time, so Chris called the grandparents to give them an update while I, once again, returned to the operating room...

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*Beyond someone waving a magic wand to remove the babies from my uterus.
**Oddly enough my pre-surgery meal is the same one that Ted Bundy ate prior to his execution, AKA the "traditional" last meal -
***Four of us in one room was bad enough without adding other parent(s) and newborn(s) into the equation.
****Combination of hungry and angry.
*****I don't know why the hospital was playing late 1990's programming, but not even Johnny Knoxville getting punched in the crotch could make me laugh that afternoon.

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

She's A Maniac

Usually when you ask your husband who his daughter reminds him of you mean what family member they're most like, not which poorly behaved celebrity they more closely resemble - Gary Busey or Naomi Campbell.*  Molly began to develop the masterful art of the tantrum last week with explosive theatrics beyond our wildest expectations.

The first night, Chris was in denial.  He insisted this intense three hour long rage was caused by the remnants of her fever.  We were all hopeful.  Then the following morning during daycare drop off she started to roll around on the floor screaming and charging the little table and chairs like an incensed rhino.  We knew that if we employed the time out method for every tantrum Molly would spend every evening up in her crib rather than hanging out with us which was highly uncool, even if she was acting like Shannon Doherty.  So we went to the experts: some mother's of toddlers, the internet and our ECE worker to get some advice on causes and how to deal with a 23lb firey ball of rage.

What Causes Tantrums?
Basically it's part of normal development for a child to show their frustration when they don't have the current ability to express their emotions through words.  Normal doesn't necessarily mean not crummy for the adult(s) responsible.

What NOT to Do?
Don't laugh.  As hard as it is, especially when they're throwing their fourth tantrum of the day because you wouldn't let them eat grape stems that they've fished out of the compost.**  Laughing at a tantruming toddler makes them feel like you're dismissing their feelings. This becomes a little stickier when their brother walks over and laughs in your daughter's face.

Things we Tried that Worked (And when they didn't work we moved onto the next item)

Let a Rolling Toddler Roll
We let Molly roll around on the floor and have her tantrum, pretending to ignore her antics - after surveying the area to make sure that she wasn't going to hurt her head.

The Game of Distraction
I thought we were done with redirection, however if we catch Miss Molly early enough in her downward spiral we are able to distract her with a favourite toy, game, book or food.

Over-praise the Other Child for Good Behaviour
When I was pregnant I used to joke that the best part of having twins was the ability to use them against each other in learning social graces.  "Look Molly, Jack is eating ice cream and going for unicorn rides with Mommy and Daddy because he didn't throw a tantrum."***

Time Outs
Some people believe that 18 months old is too young, but when Molly gets too worked up or gets physical she gets a time out for about four minutes.  We were giving her time outs in her crib, but after talking to another mom, we've decided to give time outs in a toy less playpen - this way she doesn't start to equate bed time or the nursery with punishment. 

You may find yourself asking, "How can a toddler get physical?"  Well, we were over-praising Jack for refraining from log rolling around the living room, when Molly took a break from the Tasmanian Devil routine to toddle over to the cat, grab his belly and shake it with all of her might.  When Pan moved away, without a meow or a hiss, she decided to take things to the next level.  She climbed up on the couch and started slapping him.  Pan refrained from hurting the toddler and was even understanding when, after Molly's time out, we returned so I could show her the merits of being gentle. 

While the cat didn't punish Molly directly he took it upon himself to take a giant dump in the downstairs shower that evening.  It was his way of saying, "If you can't contain your crap, I'm not going to contain mine."

Our cat Pan, Chilling with his cast post surgery.

Talk it Out
We have had the least success with this method mid-tantrum and moderate success post-tantrum.  One of my mother friends told me that she simply and plainly tells her son that she "will not negotiate with terrorists" and then walks away.  Another mom I know told me how she sits her daughter down and tells her that she's available to talk whenever she's ready.  I wish I had that level of patience the other morning when Molly tossed her Elmo chair against the wall mid-tantrum.   I was just trying to get everyone out the door in time, so I just had to scoop up her limp as a noodle screaming body and take her out to the car.

We're still trying new suggestions day by day and over a week since the first big "incident" outbursts are lasting minutes rather than hours.

One of the hardest things to do when you're under stress while attempting to raise toddlers is to keep your frustration in check.  We need to lead by example, and there are definitely days when I want to go Naomi Campbell, unfortunately my kids are watching far more closely than any paparazzi.

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*The correct answer is Naomi Campbell.
**I'm pretty sure that we are raising a pack of wild raccoons, not children at this point.
***We don't actually own a unicorn, however we took jack for rides around the house on his toy car and played with blowing bubbles while Molly log rolled around the living room floor.

Friday, 1 February 2013

Keep Your Love Alive

In celebration of all things pink, red and lace I've decided to run a Valentine's Contest this month.  This is my chance to let you, my readers, share your stories about keeping the love alive: post pregnancy and beyond as parents.

The Contest:
Email a story to  of 1) how you've managed to keep romance in your relationship after parenthood or 2) Epic failures on keeping the romance alive post-parenthood.*

Entries will be accepted between February 1st and February 11th (midnight).  The winning story (as judged by myself and my charming husband Chris) will be published on my blog on Valentines Day and the winner will receive the lovely pair of earrings below. Limit of two entries per person.

The Prize:

This lovely pair of earrings compliments of Bright Shadows Jewelry: The perfect gift for you the winner, or another special someone in your life.

Pearl Chandelier Hoops, Bridal, Wedding Earrings, Chain, Silver, Crystal
Notes About the Judges:
One of us is a romantic, the other is not so much, can you guess who's who?
In an act of True Romance (or kindness) Bright Shadows Jewelry is generously offering Multiple Momstrosity Readers a 10% discount on all items in her Etsy store. This offer is open to anyone who uses the code Momstrosity10 when checking out their order for the next six months (Until August 2013).  Take advantage of this great offer!
*Since this blog is primarily about my husband and I and our disastrous attempts at retaining some semblance of sanity as the parents of multiples you can only guess what my entry would look like, but it would likely involve feces from my son and a tantrum from my daughter/Chris or I.