what I hate more than diapering

Can you guess what I hate more than trying to diaper my little Oliver, little squirmy, screaming, thrashing little Oliver?

Allow me to illustrate with a story, a lesson for me and anyone with wee ones.

With about 1 hour until I have guests arriving, as solo parent (this whole week!), I should be:

– finishing my supper, well actually starting my supper

– bathe my boys

– do the dishes

– bake a dessert

– clean off the table

– pick up toys

– PUT A DIAPER ON OLIVER (I just changed a poop, but a little naked freedom seemed in order)

Where am I instead? What is so pressing I am doing none of these things? I am on facebook. Still feeling that I have everything in order with plenty of time to spare, I realize Oliver is surprisingly quiet. Parents, you all know this troublesome lack of sound. I pry myself away from the computer and round the corner to the horror of not putting a diaper on.

The baby who poops about 5 loose poops a day had of course pooped and peed and was stomping and sliding in it, nearly falling over. I grabbed him and called for Elliott. Elliott was quick, getting me cloths. But in these few seconds, Oliver managed to squirm and wriggle more, spreading the mess, getting it up his legs, on my arms (don’t ask how!)…

So I explained to Elliott where not to step and scooped Oliver up. At least I was going to knock the first thing off the list since he now required a bath.

After the bath, I considered yet again a little naked time. And then I put a diaper on a screamy and thrashing little boy. Lesson learned.

And do I tackle what is next on the list? No.

I headed right back to the computer.

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making it better

When so much has been overwhelming and difficult, I am happy to find there is a lot lately that just has made each day a little better.

  • watching my little baby become a little boy, so suddenly

 

  • seeing that same little boy enjoy being 1 so much and partying until he dropped

    

  • the sweet clothing we scored at Goodwill, including two Hawaiian shirts, one for each boy

  • venting at knit night and finding I am not alone in my troubles, plus getting at least three rows knit (a first in over a month)

 

  • my new birthday sewing machines and table ~~ These make me giddy! I realize one will have to be sold, but to get the table, I had to buy both machines at the antique shop. I had to, I’m telling you. 🙂 Plus, the boys were so patient while I inspected each machine, loaded them, and paid for them. I was so proud. It made the whole day just go wonderfully after that.

reflecting on the weekend

Today was the day to upload pictures and videos and reflect on the weekend trip we took to Ohio. A lot of the trip was driving, or stopping while driving, and more driving, which was not captured (phew!). But looking over the highlights, I am feeling good about our trip. We visited with family, took an animal safari (yes, in Ohio!), hunted for fossils, ate great meals, and brought home some free garden-fresh vegetables. The boys played with cousins, aunts, and uncles, read books with grandparents, and had a lot of outdoor playtime.  Plus, we have great new family pictures with everyone in them!

baby Ott love

I was thrilled that I was quick enough to capture this. Baby Ott is a fast nurser! I had to share for the humor and the sweetness. It makes me feel all gushy about my little big boy.

food with the wee one

This post will actually be a two part post. As I was arranging big E’s snacks for the next few days, a new system we will test starting tomorrow, I was thinking over the steps we took to get him to this point. Which brings me back to the beginning, where little O just happens to be.

Little O has been on the mushy, sloppy food and some finger foods diet for about 2 1/2 months now. He knows how to have a bite, can pick up some items with that wonderful pincer grasp, goes after the spoon to do it himself, and is tickled that he can slurp water. With big E, we followed the Montessori method and used a small chair and a weaning table (the white table pictured in this post). It was wonderful for snacks and meals. I found it easy to clean up, easy to keep him seated. And it kept him near the ground so he could crawl/walk to the table when hungry or leave when done (after a hasty clean up by Mama). But with little O, he is just not interested in the weaning table because the first few times he came to the big table in his high chair, he had so much fun watching big brother eat. So now, we exclusively give him solids at the big table and will just reserve the weaning table for crafting and activities as he grows.

There are a few elements that I have found to make meal time more conducive to our children’s sense of independence:

– the table and seat/high chair

– the bowls

– the utensils

– the cup

– the language and attitude

While a weaning table and low chair would be my first choice, it just is not always easy to fit in another piece of furniture or, like the case with our #2 child, baby just does not want to be left out of all the fun! Since we do snacks with big E too, little O is never alone at the table. For a high chair, I chose the Stokke Tripp Trapp high chair because it fit right up to the table we owned. We did not want a tray that forced him to sit farther from the table or a chair that was taller or shorter than the table. We wanted him to be right in there with the rest of us. With the Tripp Trapp, there is a nice baby rail that comes off to allow easy clean up or fully remove when the child is ready. When big E was around 18 months or so, we removed it and gave him a lesson on getting up and down safely. With many reminders, he learned how to be independent getting up and down from the table. (And when he got down, he was down. The meal was over!)

The bowls we use are child-sized, about the size of a small 1-cup storage bowl, similar to these or these. They are clear so little O can see the food he is being served. And they are glass. Contrary to popular belief that you should give a child plastic since they might break glass, Montessori principles encourage the use of glass, porcelain, and metal in the classroom to show a young child they can be trusted, they are worthy of that trust, and they must learn to take care of these items. Plastic feels cheap and is thus treated cheaply – tossed on the floor or beaten on. And if one feels an item is indestructible, one is also less likely to intervene and stop abusive, inappropriate behaviors immediately. I am not suggesting that I let little O have at them and break one though! Through language and gentle actions, I hold the bowls while he investigates them. I stop him from throwing them overboard and demonstrate how to place them on the table. And this is not accomplished in one day, or two days, even in a month. But we reap the rewards later, much later, when a child cares for the dishes – they can help set and clear a table, empty the dishwasher, and serve themself a snack – with an inner satisfaction that they are trusted and a responsible part of the family. And, another perk – we no longer have oodles of cruddy plastic bowls taking up space in the cabinets. (But we do occasionally break this plastic ‘rule’ – for on the go car snacks, we actually opt for plastic dishes or cloth snack bags or *gasp* plastic baggies)

For utensils, I loved the idea of a simple, all metal baby spoon and even own a few. But while my babes have cut teeth, these spoons have not been easy on their gums. For this reason, we did purchase coated spoons. They hold a small manageable bite, they are easy for a baby to take hold of and try to feed him or herself, and they are so simple they do not detract from the learning process of eating.

Since we chose glassware for bowls, we also chose a clear glass for a drinking cup. So many people laugh at the idea of the ‘baby shot glass’ but then after a moment, they realize that a baby can go from breast to cup and totally skip a bottle. Or, if bottle fed, they can be transitioned much earlier to a cup without the sippy cup transition. To some people, this is just shocking news. Not a sippy cup, but a real cup. From the moment we offered solid foods, we offered water in the cup. At first it was only 1/4 of the way full and I offered the water up to his mouth. Eventually little O learned how to hold it with two hands, but not tilt it back to drink (so I took over for that part). Now, he can hold it and tip it (but I have to slow him down if he gets too happy and pours it on himself). To get to this point was 2 months of skill development, and I know there are still more things to learn: controlling the cup to only sip the amount he wants, setting the cup down on the table, asking for more, transitioning to a larger cup (but not an adult juice glass yet!), learning how to drink with control on the go with straw cups, and learning how to drink from different sized cups while out and about. But look at the satisfaction!

If you are venturing to try this approach with a child, you must have patience. I still am frustrated the day carrots get dribbled down my leg, but I try to recognize each day what little O is learning at the table and when he ‘masters’ a step, oh, I feel his happiness at HIS victory! If it is overwhelming, start slow with one new change and observe how it goes over several days. That will be better for your baby too. You cannot totally mix up their routine in one day and expect an easy transition. We also have found sign language to be extremely helpful for meal times and eases a baby’s frustration since they eventually learn to express they want more or that they are full and done. Eventually you could move beyond those two basics and add done, drink, milk, water, even please. It tickled me to no end to see big E at such a young age sign ‘please’ ‘more’. Start early, as soon as you start with solids even. Results may take some time, but communication early on is so helpful and rewarding. And don’t worry: signing does not hinder verbal language development. In fact, it often allows them to speak sooner along with many other benefits.

And since all these skills revolve around food, feed your baby what you grow, shop for good foods at a local farmer’s market, or buy the yummiest foods you can find! What they are fed now sets their eating behavior and tastes as they grow. Let them try new tastes ‘straight up’ – no need to hide veggies in anything! Let them eat what you are eating when possible, grinding it up if needed. We love the Kidco grinder. Meal time is full of valuable life-long lessons in behavior, nutrition, socialization, and care of self and personal belongings. 

Just remember, with wee ones, independence is slowly, s l o w l y, learned. With each new opportunity you offer, there are a lot of restrictions until they can be trusted. Observe them and how they are mastering something before adding more challenge than they can handle. I will be back tomorrow to show what we are now trying with big E to give him more independence.

chatting with the baby

While the second baby is less photographed, less assisted in his play, maybe even less noticed as they develop new skills, the delight over new baby development is still there. Today, after being nearly ignored all day while we held a garage sale, was Oliver’s moment to communicate vocally beyond just babbling sounds over and over to himself. When I mimicked his word back to him, I watched his mouth form the same sound back over and over to me, as if trying to tell me something very important. His face was full of intent. And pleasure – that we for once seemed to know what he was saying. I know other babes get to this point sooner or other parents notice it before I did. But oh my excitement. His ‘tha’ that ended with a big open mouth was ever so cute. And he know how to work it – it got him a few extra minutes to stay up past bedtime!