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Super Sisters

About the Supersisters

Jen, Kristen, and Patience

Three real-life sisters sharing their kids' antics, milestones and adventures through this crazy journey called motherhood. Find out more »

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March 2009 Archives

Patience

Tips for Teething

Posted by Patience on March 31, 2009 at 5:49 AM in BabiesPatience
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her first tooth


One down, 31 more to go. Lyra looks perfectly happy, but this poor baby has been completely miserable. The craziest part of teething is that you are never sure it is why life is turned upside down until they actually pop and then it's over. So we get to blame everything on teeth for the next 2 years.

After 4 kids, I'm still collecting remedies. Here is the list so far:

Frozen washcloth
Frozen bagel
Teething rings
Oragel
Teething tablets- do they really work? I've never tried them.
Tylenol/Motrin

Help a tired sister and cranky baby out. Tell us your soothing tips in the comments.

Kristen

Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star

Posted by Kristen on March 30, 2009 at 7:00 AM in KristenNew Baby
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When Nathan was a newborn and would cry, his older brother would always burst into song. Usually it was the "ABC" song and he would do his sing-songy best to bring his brother's mood right back up. I remember very early on hearing Nathan try to sing along. Sure he was only months old, but he would make these grunting sounds to the rhythm of "ABC." No one believed us until we had him put on his show. It was odd.

Since then, Nate has continued to show his love for music. He bursts into song rather randomly. It was only recently when Mason was born that we started to wonder if he had some abstract memory of Ethan singing to him because he started to sing "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star" when his brother Mason started to cry. No one else had thought to sing yet because we were all just panicked that the new baby was crying. Not Nathan. He stood with his hands at his sides and sang as loud as he could. Okay, so it didn't make Mason feel any better and I'll admit I thought we were all going to need new ear drums from the volume coming out of his little body, but Nathan's heart was pure. He truly believed that his singing would make his baby brother stop crying. If nothing else, it made us laugh. And what more could a musical two-year-old ask for?

Have you heard about the PBS special Coming Home? Join Queen Latifah, John Mayer, Elmo and others, as they examine the extraordinary courage of families coping with the combat injuries suffered by a service member. Be inspired by their strength and help children cope with change. Wednesday, April 1, at 8:00 p.m. You should check it out!

Jen

Supersisters Weekend Roundup

Posted by Jen on March 28, 2009 at 9:00 AM in BabiesSupersister Weekend Roundup
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photo

Dentist Schmentist. Is there a way to avoid the drama of the dentist chair? Especially for those kids who feel violated by just having to say "ah" let alone sit still for the drill? Here's a handy article about how to help kids understand the value of the dental hygiene and timely visits to regular doctors, too.

When You Give a Girl a Camera. Looking for something creative to do with that growing girl of yours? Whether she's five or fifteen, you'll be delighted to see what she sees when you look through the lens of her heart.

What Do Babies Really Need? In all the angst that mother's suffer over whether to continue breastfeeding when problems arise, it's good to keep in mind these bits about baby bonding that have so much more to do with hands on tenderness than whether or not baby gets a bottle.

Patience

The Power of Pretend

Posted by Patience on March 27, 2009 at 7:00 AM in Patience
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dress up love

"This is a very special princess swing. Would you girls like to ride it together?" Melanie said to Lucy and Lila. Both girls hopped right on and discussed all things fantasy while they pumped the teeter totter swing built for two.

This bought us more time to talk as the girls played. It was only the beginning of the wonderful world of pretend Melanie created. At lunch she asked the girls, "I have a great spot in my cafeteria just for big girls like you, would like to eat your lunch there?"
After they were done, her daughter Lila came in and Melanie said, "Oh, you are done with your lunch? Oh yes, you girls may be excused to go to class now." The girls giggled and ran off to play.

I was in total awe of this very creative mother and friend of mine. She reminded me of all the magic of pretend. It is so useful and such a lovely way to help children through the routine of everyday. I find I like to play it myself from time to time. It's a way to try dreams on. I sometimes imagine myself standing in the middle of a gallery showing of my photography. I'm wearing an adorable and chic skirt with a cap sleeve shirt on and dangly earrings. I greet each guest with warm smiles as we dicsuss my work on the wall. I practice what I'll say while I do the dishes.

So today we play office and school, or my own personal favorite, puppy dog. I forgot how much fun it can be. What is the pretend scenario your kids love? Do you use props or is it the good old imaginary tea cup in hand? What dreams are you imagining in your own mind? Do share in the comments.

Kristen

Breastfeeding. Or not.

Posted by Kristen on March 26, 2009 at 9:50 AM in BabiesKristenNew Babybreastfeeding
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We took a special trip to the pediatrician on Saturday. Because with a newborn, can you ever really go to the doctor enough? This time was for thrush but I got a little extra when the baby didn't weigh what he was supposed to weigh.

Here we go again.

Breastfeeding is an investment. Sometimes it's cheap. It's like those writers who require merely a pen and pad a paper to draft The Great American Novel. Then there are those writers who would write absolutely nothing if it not for the combination of getting the typing award in high school and getting a fancy schmancy laptop that will one day inspire them to write The Great American Blog Post.

Nathan was my pad and paper. I think he actually crawled up my belly looking for some food. A glance at his frame will let you know that he hasn't stopped eating, even after weaning. He just moved on to food that was a lot more fun.

Ethan? He was one of these and a master's in journalism at Columbia when it came to the investment of breastfeeding. Minimal weight gain, every other day at the pediatrician's office, painful latch, supplementing with pumping while trying to avoid nipple confusion. The lactation consultant finally threw her arms up in the air and said, "I have NO idea what is going on with this baby." Ten weeks later, he started to nurse "properly" and all was right with the world. That, my friends, gave new meaning to breastfeeding as an investment. Everything was then a piece of cake and I got what I signed up for: 5 minute meals and NO CLEANING OR PREPARING BOTTLES. Oh, I'm lazy.

So then I had this new baby who was recently referred to as the "Happy Starver" at the pediatrician's office. I was advised to pump or to supplement with formula in order to get his weight back up to his birth weight, which was 9 pounds, 3 ounces. When I did not look properly concerned, I was scolded. Jaundice, thrush and now suggestions of "failure to thrive?"

I'll admit that I contemplated the formula route to get the big, bad doctors off my back. I was having post-traumatic stress disorder flashbacks to the hours and days and weeks I spent trying to "fix" Ethan's breastfeeding problems. A little formula wouldn't hurt.... A week of supplementing wouldn't make him less smarter than his brothers, would it?

Then I read "The Case Against Breastfeeding" by Hanna Rosen, and I'll admit it resonated with me slightly (ducking to avoid having things thrown at me by my fellow Supersisters Jen and Patience).

According to Rosen,

The IQ studies run into the central problem of breast-feeding research: it is impossible to separate a mother's decision to breast-feed--and everything that goes along with it--from the breast-feeding itself. Even sibling studies can't get around this problem. With her first child, for instance, a mother may be extra cautious, keeping the neighbor's germy brats away and slapping the nurse who gives out the free formula sample. By her third child, she may no longer breast-feed--giving researchers the sibling comparison that they crave--but many other things may have changed as well. Maybe she is now using day care, exposing the baby to more illnesses. Surely she is not noticing that kid No.2 has the baby's pacifier in his mouth, or that the cat is sleeping in the crib (trust me on this one). She is also not staring lovingly into the baby's eyes all day, singing songs, reading book after infant book, because she has to make sure that the other two kids are not drowning each other in the tub. On paper, the three siblings are equivalent, but their experiences are not.

In the end, Rosen really isn't necessarily making a case against breastfeeding. She's just making the case that it might not be as life and death a decision for parents as we have made it out to be. Will I be throwing in the towel for breastfeeding just yet, because I have to take a break to get the older two off the top of the fridge? No. Maybe this baby will be my
little pink netbook and I'm willing to hang in there. But if it comes down to it, I might just be buying that formula next week to stave off the big, mean doctors. I'm just saying.

Jen

Mermaid Warriors: An Interview with Mccabe Russell

Posted by Jen on March 25, 2009 at 7:00 AM in JenRaising Girls
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mermaid warriors final

When I first discovered Mccabe Russell online, I knew this dancing mermaid would be just the person to encourage supersisters (and superdads) who want to see their girls grow creative and strong. McCabe is a self-taught artist who has dedicated her work to helping young girls feel good about themselves through art and creative play. In her mermaid camps, girls of all ages weave affirmations and poetry into art journaling, mixed media. homemade candles, and fairy jars to name a few. I asked Mccabe to tell us more about her mermaid warrior classes and what she knows now after fifteen years of creating safe space for girls to explore themselves while also learning the power of supporting others.

What is a mermaid warrior?

A mermaid warrior is a girl who is not afraid to be herself. She also supports her mermaid sister-friends~its all about encouraging each other through art and friendship.

What are your little mermaid friends telling you about what little girls need these days? Any tips for moms who are having trouble connecting?

What I hear most from my little mermaid students is that they need to feel understood. I think as adults we sometimes rush to find a solution or teach the lesson. These things are important and have a place, but it is equally important to just listen to what they are saying. When a tender issue arises, try to give them your undivided attention so that they know their feelings are valued. I have also found that even when a child is not ready to share, a simple, "I know it feels hard right now" can do wonders. Feel WITH them. We all want to feel normal and connected even in our hardest emotions.

Why do you think little girls are so drawn to the princess thing?

I think Disney plays a big part in that! I think it seems exciting and glamorous to them with all the pink tooling and handsome prince bouncing on a white horse. Being a princess seems to equal a happy ending. A part of me cringes when I hear a little girl say she wants to be a "princess when she grows up." I love fairy tales, but they often don't tell the whole story. I want girls to feel like they are beautiful without the costumes and drama...that they are perfect and enough in their everyday self.

We're all about ages and stages here on the supersister blog. In your experience, is there any difference between what a five year old or a ten year old mermaid needs?

The five year old mermaids (at first) need to be assured that they are doing it "right." They feel safe in knowing that their artwork and presence is approved by others. At the same time, they thrive in independence and love the opportunity to do so. I feel it is important to teach them the joy of doing art for yourself, whether it gets put up on the fridge or not. When asked my opinion on a piece of artwork I love to ask, "Do YOU like it?" Once they start school they begin comparing their art to other kids, and a piece of the magic gets lost. At the same time five year olds are very free and not afraid to ask questions or give new ideas.

Ten year old mermaids need to feel their uniqueness is honored and valued. Many of them are torn between wanting to establish their own individuality, and yet not feeling brave enough to be themselves. It is a tough pull, so 9 and 10 year old girls need extra encouragement and love in this area. This topic might not be regular dialogue between their peers, so getting them together to talk about these things is powerful and healing. They are so relieved when they discover they are not alone in their feelings.

One more. What drew you to this work?

I had a really hard time as a kid, especially around the age of twelve. So much was happening and I did not have anyone to talk to about it. It makes me sad that i carried all that shame around for all those years, and yet it is my superpower to help others in this special way. In my early twenties, I found an art healing class, and began the long journey back to myself. I kept thinking how great it would have been to have a class like that at twelve. Over time i discovered that my passion was being the person I needed as a child to other girls. It is empowering for everyone. Our pain has great power if used correctly.

Thanks, Mccabe!
Supersisters, leave a comment telling us the thing you love the most about raising girls. We'll send a special mermaid surprise to one lucky commenter.

Patience

Fashion Forward

Posted by Patience on March 24, 2009 at 7:00 AM in PatienceRaising Girls
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lucy fashion

Lucy inherited these very fashionable shoes from her older cousin Madeleine. They were singing karaoke together and Mada very kindly let Lucy try them on. It helps to have the right outfit on when you are rockin' your best song. Lucy was so in love with the shoes that Madeleine decided to let her keep them when she left. It's true love when a your girl gives you the shoes off of her feet.

This fashion forward toddler has worn them every single day since. Did I mention it was winter? We have had many a drama about why high heel flip flops (3 sizes too big) might not be the best choice for pretty much any public outing. But ever since these shoes entered our house, I have felt a little crack in my uptight fashion parenting. They make her so happy. I started to ask myself why I even care so much. Is matching really a must? I'll admit, for me sometimes it is, but today maybe not so much.

This morning she came out in a striped turquoise 12-18 month sized cap sleeve shirt she found in a hand-me-down box (which made for a bare midriff), along with a mini skirt and brown and pink striped tights underneath. The sparkly flower sandals graced her feet. She was delighted and completely proud of her fashion ensemble.
I looked her up and down. "Well Luce, you might want to grab a jacket so you aren't cold." I said. I believe this was a matter of choosing my battles. She squealed with excitement and ran to grab her coat. She walked a little taller all day while I admired all her joy.

I still call the shots on dressing over here with a free day (like the one today) every once in awhile. What are the dressing and fashion standards at your place? Is it I'm-just-glad-you-have-clothes-on kind of vibe or do your kids have coordinating matching outfits? Or do you find yourself somewhere in between? Let us know your family fashion facts in the comments.

photo by jen

Kristen

Sleep, naps and new babies

Posted by Kristen on March 23, 2009 at 6:11 AM in KristenNew Baby
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mason.jpg

My aunt asked how it was going, having this new baby and all. I told her that the incessant fighting over who gets to hold Baby Mason was endearing, yet on my last nerve. I think I forgot to tell her how the manhandling was annoying too. And Dad's brilliant idea to stave off tears by sticking a finger in the baby's mouth? Great because we know Dad's hands are clean, but Nathan's? Not so much. And speaking of Nathan....

It's funny as mothers how we just know things about our children. People look at us like we are crazy, but we just know. Like how I knew that Nathan's manic behavior was probably due to the fact that he wasn't on his schedule. Oh, if you knew how it pained me to say those words. "His Schedule." I mock the schedule mothers. I do. It's not nice, but I do. Those women who have never had lunch out because that is right in the middle of nap time? "Come on" I say.

Then I got my own scheduled child. One that has scheduled himself. He's fine, as long as he sleeps in his own bed and he makes his nap time every day at roughly the same time. This he did for himself, which I am sure makes it even worse. He, as a tender little two-year-old, had to make his own schedule. People looked at me like I was crazy as I attempted to explain away his behavior as needing sleep. I think everyone wanted to blame his craziness on getting pushed out of the loop by another baby. Someone suggested that maybe napping was a thing of the past for this child. I knew better. He knew better.

So in the midst of welcoming Baby #3 to our family, I realized that what my Baby #2 needed from me what right in front of me: the opportunity for a good night's rest. This will apparently allude the rest of us now that we have a hungry and crying baby to love in the middle of the night, but Nate's a whole new boy. Thank heavens for that.

Jen

Supersisters Weekend Roundup

Posted by Jen on March 21, 2009 at 10:00 AM in JenSupersister Weekend Roundup
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jonah crawls

What's on your weekend roster, sisters? Has spring arrived to your part of the world yet? Are your kids in the middle of spring break? Here are some links for you and yours that might be interesting and encouraging in one way or another.

Ben's Bells. Tuscon Mom Jeanette Packard is finding a way to bring hope and light to the world by offering back kindness in honor of her son Ben who died unexpectedly at age three. Click through and I promise you will be inspired not only by the goodness happening here, but also by Jeanette's kindness and courage.

Picture Hope. One of my lifelong dreams has been to travel to faraway places for a deep and hopeful purpose. Check out this video. If all goes well, I'll be off on a hopeful storytelling adventure with one or the other of my children by my side. Can't you see Carter in Nepal? Madeleine in Rwanda?

You can find me here. Here's a lovely reflection on the sweetness of a new baby and a moment in an everyday life. Do you have a new baby at your house? Leave us a link to your stories and how your other children are handling the new addition in the comments below.

Patience

Our Children, Ourselves

Posted by Patience on March 20, 2009 at 7:00 AM in PatienceRaising Girls
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blessingway m lyra kiss

Lucy was in the middle of "it's mine". There had already been about 1,000 statements claiming all that was hers. It was so bad that when a dear friend started to sing The Clean Up song she said, "NO! That's my song. My Mr. Jim (her teacher) sings that, it's MY school song." I shifted uncomfortably yet playfully stated that I was sure neither Lucy nor Mr. Jim owned the rights to that ever popular song. I suggested that maybe every parent and kid in the world shared it.

We all laughed and I tried not to feel embarrassed. I know this is normal and totally developmentally appropriate. I know her power is wonderful and she will possibly one day rule the world.
I know she is her own individual...and yet there are moments when I still cringe. We are such different people, besides the fact that she is 3 and I am 32.

While I am growing and learning as a parent, I still have moments of feeling the social pressure and wishing she were more polite because it is one of my own big personal values. I stack up my performance as a parent and wonder what those around me must be thinking. I view her as an extension of me which can be disastrous for us both.

In this process I'm finding she is teaching me to live a more authentic life. I am teaching her how to use her power in the most effective way. I imagine we are both and forever will be finding our way.

Do you ever have these moments? How do you find your way through?

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