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February 2009 Archives


Supersisters Weekend Roundup

Posted by Jen on February 28, 2009 at 10:00 AM in Jen
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oldest and youngest

Why I Love "Bad" Babies. If you are walking around this morning positively mortified by your children's behavior in the grocery store, check out this post from a woman who's seen it all and loves your kids anyway. Low on judgment, high on humor, this checkout girl offers gentle advice from the trenches.

The Gimme Monster. And just in case, your children really do need an intervention for horrific grocery store behavior, here's some tried and true advice about how to stave off the urge for acquisition in your tiniest shopping companions.

Living the Day You're Given. And if you're worried your life is wasting away, picking up blocks and hosing down your little messmaker, this piece by the waste-less mom will give you just the mojo you need to get on the floor and cover what the true needs are of the day.

You Have Everything You Need. Single mom and writer Jennifer New writes about the struggles of starting a new life on your own with two kids in the midst of a painful divorce. Her honest reflections will be sure to buoy moms of every situation who are looking for ways to bring strength and resilience to trying times.


Sick Day

Posted by Patience on February 27, 2009 at 11:23 AM in Patience
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pathetic jack.jpg

This is the face of the waiting room kid. I saw this little face through the lens and put down the camera. In two more seconds he was wrapped up in my arms, practically folded into my body. Literally as close as he could get. He remembers the last doctor episode that involved a shot of antibiotics. I have to admit I was just as worried. We decided to find something else to do to distract us during out 1.5 hour wait. Yes, that's right, it seems every other kid in the city is sick too.

Jack took the camera for a bit:
jack waiting room fish.jpg
and then he drew pictures of powerful video games guys that never get sick...
jack waiting room_.jpg
jack waiting room drawings.jpg
It was finally our turn, it's the flu. Believe it or not, I've never done the flu with kids yet. We made soup and bought crusty bread, fresh fruit and lots of juice. I made a bed on the couch and we have been playing lots of go fish while I try to avoid the danger of playing internet doctor. The flu and babies are a terrible mix. We're just waiting it out and crossing our fingers it doesn't make it's way down the line.

What do you do with your kids when they are sick? I remember my friend Simi telling me her mom always brought her a chocolate shake when she was sick. Any "sick" traditions at your house?


Active Boys

Posted by Kristen on February 26, 2009 at 7:37 AM in KristenRaising Boys
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Yesterday we went to the doctor for the yearly check up for the boys. There was some confusion before we left as to who was getting shots and in my confusion, I may have said the younger was due and the older was not. The look on Ethan's face suggested that perhaps he was slightly more happy about his younger brother getting shots than he should have been. I reminded him being excited about someone else's pain never ends well.

We arrived at the doctor's with time to spare (shock) and found ourselves in a room waiting for the doctor. And so it began.

First it started with the rearrangement of the chairs in the office. Then they attempted rearrangement of the cabinets. They moved on to the ear and eye scopes and then to the chemicals. When I say "chemicals," I mean rubbing alcohol, ect. Not necessarily the most dangerous chemicals but when your children have doused each other with Comet cleanser the week before, you know that optional uses for that rubbing alcohol just might be considered.

The doctor came in and burst into laughter. I guess not much has changed since we started coming to the practice 4 years ago. I rolled my eyes as Derek reached back and pulled one of the boys off of the 2 inch wide window sill, making music on the blinds. The other boy was repeatedly dropping a stool on the wooden floor, which was something I am sure made the people on Floor 2 delirious. Every time I would lunge for the stool, he would step right out of my range.

All in all, the older got FOUR shots, the younger got none and I managed to get out of there without going into labor. We came home to Cousin Ellen who took over mom duty and held some very fun kamikaze tricycle races down our Driveway of Death. I took a nap.

Statistical odds suggest that Baby Mason will be chill, right? Either that or what is left of my mind is about to be shredded. But I mean that in a good way.


All About Family Values

Posted by Jen on February 25, 2009 at 7:00 AM in Jen
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I love it when Bill Bennett the author of The Book of Virtues tells the story about his wife yelling downstairs during bedtime with a hearty, "Hey, how about some of those family values up here?" Bennett relays this in a playful and light-hearted tone, but I get the point.
How do we know if our kids are catching our values? Especially when you're the kind of person who is often distracted exporting your values in your work or your neighborhood or your blog for that matter?

Jean Illsley Clark, one of my favorite parenting experts, theorizes that children decide between ages 6-12 which parental values they will take as their own. They do this by testing the waters, obeying rules and sometimes breaking them, often as an experiment to see which values really fit. Unfortunately for parents, kids can't always explain to us why they do what they do, but that doesn't mean that we can't quietly make real life arguments for what matters to us the very most.

Since I'm smack dab in the middle of 6-12 year old parenting right now, here's what I'm doing to help my kids understand what's important to me. I hope you'll add to my list in the comments below.

Tell stories. Even though I've been involved in helping immigrant women escape unfair and abusive work environments here in the US for the last few years, Madeleine recently confessed she had no idea what my work was exactly or why. I spent the next few weeks telling bedtime stories from real life about the women we know and the adventures we'd shared on their journey to a better life. Madeleine enjoyed these stories immensely and it gave her a great framework to consider her own perspective.
Leave your kids out. While your toddlers and preschoolers can most of the time be cajoled into doing anything you're enthusiastic about, your bigger kids might be a different story. I think it's okay to not insist that your kids go with you to help your neighbor or volunteer at the animal shelter because it gives them a chance to observe the value at a distance without the pressure to perform.
Invite them back in. Once you've given your kids some space to say no honestly if they don't want along for the ride, make it a point to create circumstances where they have a genuine place to contribute. Sometimes it takes kids a while to warm up to a new service opportunity and then they don't know how to say they really would like to go, too.
Turn up your radar for other values outside your own. My kids may or may not grow up with a love for strangers or immigrant rights, but these experiences may be the gateway to other causes or concerns that are equally valuable. The point is to encourage any and all displays of kindness, thoughtfulness and genuine concern whether that manifests itself in wanting to help make snacks for friends coming over or wanting to do a good job in school. Compassion and responsibility in all forms is good, so I say go with it.
Walk it, don't just talk it. You can tell a hundred stories or give a hundred speeches at the dinner table about what's important and why, but in the end it's what you actually do and how you do it that your kids will learn by heart. If you're not sure what's coming across, ask your kids what is most important to you--they'll be happy to tell you.

What values do you hope your kids take from you? I'd love to hear your big ones in the comments below.


Meet Riley The Dog

Posted by Patience on February 24, 2009 at 6:00 AM in Patience
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So we got a dog. It's funny how it seems like Riley has been here all along. He's very sweet, smart, and kind of a tricky trickster. This dog is in need of a few manners but he's got a very dear quality about him. I've been walking around with a deer in the headlights look for the last 24 hours. You were right guys, this is going to be a lot of work. I feel like I'm on day 3 of postpartum when you feel totally overwhelmed and wonder how you are ever going to keep this baby alive. Except now I have 2 babies.

By 9:30am yesterday, Lucy, Lyra and I were already on a retrieval mission in the neighborhood because Riley figured out the weak spots in our fence. Jorge is knee deep in dog books written by whisperers and monks. Josiah has been my gentle sage reminding me we can all do this together. Lucy is all about being in charge. She might be the best dog trainer in the family.

riley learns2.jpg

"We now have seven people in our family mom!" Jack said as we drove away from picking Riley up from the rescue group. It's so true. It's a good thing, I think...


Calling all dog people: Did you do obedience classes? Tell me what kind of dog you have and give me the scoop on your first few days.


The Trouble With Pain

Posted by Kristen on February 23, 2009 at 6:31 AM in BabiesKristen
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I'm not sure how it happened, but I live in a family where everyone is functioning with a heart on a sleeve. Not an unusual place to find my heart, I somehow thought that there would be at least one of us who would take everything in stride and not be easily flustered. No such luck. Take this weekend, for instance.

I managed to throw my back out the other night. I was lying on the couch and I guess the girth of 37 weeks worth of pregnancy was something that made my back cranky. My back is such a baby. There I was stuck on the couch yelling for help and all my men came running. Nathan was first on the scene.

Nate: (gripping my face in his chubby little hands) Mommymommymommymommy. No be sad, Mommy. Is okay, Mommy, is okay.
Ethan: DAD, Mom is hurt. Mom, you are gonna be okay. What's wrong, Mom? What's wrong? DAD, HELP MOM!!!
The Dog: (whining)
Kristen: I'm FINE. I'll be FINE. Dad will help me.

Which he did. It's amazing what can be fixed by just standing up. My heart swelled with pride that everyone was worried about me. I also realized that I'll have to be faking all this pain and childbirth thing for the next few weeks unless I want to do Tender Heart Preservation. I just love these kids.


Supersisters Weekend Roundup

Posted by Jen on February 21, 2009 at 9:00 AM in JenRaising GirlsSupersister Weekend Roundup
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on the way to camp

This weekend roundup is dedicated to the three year old princesses I love. If you are enamored, struggling, enjoying (or trying not to strangle) the little diva in your house, this one is for you. Take a deep breath, sisters, the best is yet to come.

Take that queenly energy and give your pre-schooler a world (or word) to rule. I suggest words like request, insist, believe and recognize. This may sound like a mouthful, but I promise you this power vocabulary will give your wild girl something big to say when she decides it's time to get her point across. Word Girl is your friend in all things vocabulary related.

And speaking of superheroes, maybe your mini-dictator needs a cape to fulfill her rule and conquer fantasies. While Disney tries to mold the tired old princess into a woman for a new day, plain-old superheroes get to have all their power without the pomp and circumstance. This kit from Klutz is just the thing to transform diva into dynasty in all the best ways.

Worried your girl is too high on yourself? Harboring secret fantasies for a well-mannered, "nice" girl who won't make any waves? Do a ten year review and ask yourself this question: How many times would having the confidence to say "no" have served me better? How many times has saying "yes" and bringing myself in line with the status quo been my saving moment? Then go check in and see what spitfire Maggie Doyne is doing with all that spunk and spirit in Nepal. I promise it will give you the tiniest bit of courage to let this girl of yours marinate a little bit longer in her desire to self-determine.

Still not convinced? Raising Girls is your one stop destination for giving your wild girl all the confidence and courage she needs to be her best self. You won't be sorry you stretched yourself--of this much I feel confident!

What's your sticky point when your girl won't get with the program? Feel free to confess your most common hesitations in the comments below.


The Missing Tooth

Posted by Patience on February 20, 2009 at 7:00 AM in Patience
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jack's lost tooth.jpg

He just realized he had a loose tooth, we discovered two actually. This is how things go with Jack, he's too busy noticing what is happening in the moment to realize something small has been going on all along. It's a beautiful gift really.

He was convinced he should eat an apple to help the tooth break free. He doesn't even like apples that much but it's a small sacrifice for tooth fairy riches. The tooth was barely hanging on, but it was time to drop him off at school. We aren't sure but I think somewhere between the car and his classroom, the tooth was gone. This brought up so many concerns.

What happens now?
Does the tooth fairy still come?
How do we handle this with her?
Does she still deliver?
How will she know where the tooth is?

Josiah assured Jack that he probably isn't the first kid to ever loose a tooth, literally. He explained all he had to do was write her a note and he was sure she'd understand.

Dear tooth fairy,

I lost my tooth and that was my first one. Could I please have more money? because that was my first tooth and I was very excited.


"You should say 'your friend, Jack'. " Josiah advised.
"Nah, she doesn't even know me, it's good, write just 'Jack'." Jack said.

It's a good thing I know the tooth fairy. I have a hunch Josiah is right, she will understand.

Do you do the whole tooth fairy thing? How much money goes under the pillow at your house?


What's in a Baby Name Wizard Name?

Posted by Kristen on February 19, 2009 at 6:28 AM in BabiesBaby NamesKristenNew Baby
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K: There is probably something I should tell you.

My husband always gives me the exact same look when I say these words. It's a combination of "oh no, what now" and "how do you get yourself into these messes."

K: I may have told PBS that they could name our Baby #3.
D: What are you talking about? Please tell me you aren't serious.
K: What's wrong with that? They just want me to talk to Laura Wattenberg from Baby Name Wizard.
D: You told PBS that they could name the baby.
K: Stadiums do it all the time.
D: So you are saying you would name the baby "Citibank" if they paid you enough.
K: AbsoLUTEly. If Citibank offered me $5 million to name the baby, that baby's name would be First Name Citi, Middle Name Bank.
D: That is wrong.
K: Since when do I call our children by the names on their birth certificates? Try never.
D: Wait. Laura Wattenberg? From Baby Name Wizard?

Sometimes my husband pulls things out that never cease to amaze me. It's not that Laura isn't wildly popular and wildly well-known. It's just that my husband is constantly living under a rock.

K: Yeah. Do you know her?
D: She does excellent data analysis. She's linked on Freakonomics.

Laura, you have absolutely no idea what a big deal it is that Dr. Snotty Economist thinks you do excellent data analysis. I mean, I thought your stuff was cool but this is high praise indeed from my husband.

So I called Laura and we talked for about a half hour about baby names. Laura was adamant that she was not in the BABY NAMING BUSINESS and that she just provided the tools to help other people come to a natural conclusion for a name that best fits their baby. She said that people often second-guess their chosen baby name after birth when the baby doesn't look like the baby they thought they would have. I let her off the hook and told her that I already knew my baby's name. We decided to chat some more before I told her, just to see what she would find when she plugged my requirements into the baby name wizard.

I told Laura that we were leaning toward a name that ended in "N," if only to confuse ourselves more when we yelled at our children in public. I told her about how our sons have the middle names Lewis and Clark and how my husband was so disappointed that he wasn't going to get his little baby girl with the middle name "Sacagawea" because we were having a boy (like that EVER would have happened). I told her that we were such suckers for historic names that we were probably the only people to confess that they picked their new baby's middle name "Gray" by googling American Explorers. That's right. Google picked our baby's middle name.

Laura ran a search and guess what happened? Her "best match" for our baby name was the very same as our own...


Actually, number 1 on the list was Aaron, but with the whole historical importance in a name in our family, she said, and I quote, "Aaron Burr might be a tough one for your family to get past." LOL

I'm happy to say that the NameMapper feature made me feel better about not worrying about living on the same block as 17 Masons (which really doesn't matter since you've named your firstborn "Ethan").

So I guess what I am trying to say is that Baby #3 is going to have the name Mason Gray. There has been some concern that he will be mocked for being named so closely to Macy Gray but I maintain that anyone making that connection will be opening himself up to having that mockery returned for knowing who Macy Gray is.

Already we have gotten a little backlash from people we've told, but people are funny about baby names. It's our choice and everyone else has to have their own kids (or dogs or cats) to live out their fantasy naming. Know what I mean?

***Derek doesn't think I told you enough about what the website offers. According to him, "It has great dynamic data analysis. You type in a name and as you type it shows you the historical usage of all of the names starting with those letters."
***Snooze. Me: It's cool. Just check it out by typing in your name.***

***Disclosure: PBS never offered me money to name the baby. But I would have totally taken it if they had***


Sibling Showdowns: The Way I See It

Posted by Jen on February 18, 2009 at 7:00 AM in JenSiblings
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how they really are

As I write this entry, my dear children are having a vigorous debate where Child A is asserting the logic of another child's actions while Child B is deeply mired in the emotional content of the incident in question. I'm not sure either kid is making any sense to the other but the intensity to the disagreement is making me wish I could make a backdoor exit to the nearest coffee shop.

I've been practicing staying out of these kinds of fights lately, since the conflict centers mostly around fundamental differences in how each child views the world. Child A sees most problems through the lens of choices and consequences, while Child B prefers to examine perceived intentions and emotional impact. If I choose to engage, I'll be saying more about my own preferences than the truth of the matter. Fact is, there's no problem on this earth that can't stand to be examined from a variety of angles. Our best solutions come when we consider love and logic, facts and feelings. Or so my better self tells me when all I want to do is lay down the law and institute my point of view as the-way-it-really-is, no questions asked.

So I bite my tongue and listen as each child educates the other on their own particular point of view. Ten tortuous minutes later, the exchange sounds something like this:

Child A: I'm just saying that I don't think it's fair for you to be angry especially when he wasn't choosing to hurt you. Didn't he already apologize a hundred times?
Child B: You mean you think I should forgive him?
Child A: Yes, I do.

Child A then went on to support the forgiveness argument with data I found more than a little sketchy, but Child B was satisfied. Child C was forgiven and the argument came to a natural conclusion. End of discussion.

Next up for the future conflict mediator and her boundary savvy little brother: Whether you can say you believe in Jesus and still think he's dead. I think I'll skip that Starbucks now and go straight upstairs and take a nap.

What's your stance on sibling disagreements? Do you step in? Stay out? Send yourself to your room as soon as possible? I'd love to hear what your personal rules of engagement are in the comments below.

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