The Allure of the Forbidden

You all know what I'm talking about. "Don't touch this... don't don't there... don't do that." It doesn't matter what it is. Look at Adam and Eve! That apple was taken from the ONE tree they weren't supposed to touch! Here's the truth: if you were told NOT to do it, that is, without doubt, the one thing you want to do.

This fact is enhanced with children.

I've read that parents should create one room in the house where your kids are free to play without hearing the word "no" at every turn. Sounds reasonable, right? But with a two-bedroom apartment, we only have so much room to give up! So I've designated my dining and living rooms for this purpose.  There are two gates to separate the dining room from the kitchen as well as their bedroom. I only let them into the baby-proofed kitchen when I feel like cleaning up all of the Tupperware they so happily through about the room. They have free reign in their space and seem more than happy to play within its limits. Most of the time, anyway.

Our couch is at the end of the living room and my boys love climbing up, jumping on and sliding off of our couch. I had to adjust my strategy when they started getting so confident. "Alright, I can't keep this from them forever," I thought. "If they're going to climb on this, I better teach them how to get down." Finally, they learned. I don't even rush over when I see them making their way down anymore. They've got it.

Then, they started going toward the arms of the couch. Oi vey. This made me a lot more nervous because it's a long way to fall and they almost always wanted to go down head-first. Definitely not. So I've been trying to reinforce how to go down these high arms feet-first. Admittedly, this has been a lot harder than just going down off the seat of the couch. And they know it.

Whenever I see them headed toward the arms (usually to play with the light switch,) I rush over to help guide them down. Now, they expect it. They've learned that the fastest way to get mommy's attention (as well as her presence) is to head toward the "forbidden," which will undoubtedly, send her running. And.it's.driving.me.nuts.

Yesterday, I came in from the kitchen to see Jonathan on the couch, running from side to side. No big deal. I've matted blankets and foam mats on the floor beneath him in case he fell. But when he saw me, he smiled that mischievious little smile and immediately ran to the arm of the couch. That little stinker.

Now, I'm normally a pretty relaxed mom. I let my boys fall because I want them to know how to do it correctly. I'd rather have them do it when I'm around than experiment with greater heights when I'm not. I do all I can to make our surrounding a safe one, so when my boys fall, I know they won't get more than a bump or a scratch. Plus, there's no way I can humanly be in two places at once. If my boys are going to be adventurous, they're just going to have to learn how to get back up and keep going.

Jonathan knew that I would rush over to his aid and assist him in his maneauver toward the ground. But this time, I resisted. I didn't want him to expect me to be there. He teased me with a smile for a few moments as he suspended himself in the air (feet-first, I might add) with his feet dangling toward the ground. I just smiled back, casually flipping through a picture book. He waited another moment, disappointed that his trick didn't yield any fruit. So he let go. His feet hit the floor and then he fell back, hitting his head on the foam mat.

I knew he was fine. All moms know the difference between the smack-WAAAAAAAH cry and the bump-waaaaaa cry. This was definitely the latter. He whimpered a little and walked over to me with his head in his hand. I held him and hugged him, then set him back on his feet. He watched Ben play and then ran over to join him.

Aha, I did it!

By ignoring his cry for attention, the allure had vanished. Somehow, the forbidden had become not as much fun. This was yesterday. He's tested me two more times today, but I did the same thing and eventually, he lost interest. Yesssssss.

Now, I'm not saying that we should ignore our babies' cries for help and I am NOT saying we should always let them fall just so they know how it feels. But there is something to be said for ignoring those times when we know we are being tested. When we are being watched. Our kids want to know the boundaries. They need to know the limits. But sometimes, I think a more natural consequence is appropriate than any consequence we could create.

Especially when you have two very curious, mischievious little minds like I do :)


Life on the Plateau

I am amazed at how much my life has changed in the past few months.

  • 22 months ago... we learned I was pregnant. We were ECSTATIC!

  • 20 months ago... we learned there were TWO! We just about fell on the floor.

  • 15 months ago... I wasn't sure how much bigger I could get! I slept most of the day away, growing my babies and getting excited about their arrival!

  • 14 months ago... my babies arrived on our 2nd wedding anniversary! Sleeping, cooking, cleaning and shopping were all things of the past.

  • 13 months ago... I wondered how on earth I could ever do this by myself. I didn't feel like I had enough arms.

  • 11 months ago... they started sleeping through the night. So did I; it was even better than I remembered. I stopped going to my mom's every weekday and learned how I'd manage on my own. It was a lot of work, but I was feeling good.

  • 6 months ago... they got their first cold and we started rocking them to sleep with a bottle. We knew it was going to be a hard habit to break, but in that moment, it was all we could do to stay sane.

  • 5 months ago... they started crawling. I rearranged my house to keep two busy little guys out of danger.

  • 4 months ago... they started standing. And climbing. I moved the furniture again. And again.

  • 2 months ago... I found a whole new life outside of pumping. The boys started walking and I gained confidence in leaving the house.

  • 1 month ago... we started a new bedtime routine where the boys fall asleep on their own, rather than having me and Andy rock them to sleep and then carefully lay them in their cribs. This has brought so much more peace to our home and a longer night's rest for all of us!
Life is good. I'm able to do stuff around the house during the day and can plan for quiet activities (or sleep) when the boys are taking their nap! The boys are beginning to keep eachother occupied a few moments of the day and they enjoy sitting in my lap to read a book. I venture out a few times a week and organize playdates. I take pictures of my friends' kids and go to the zoo. My body is feeling normal and I'm starting to cook nice dinners again - or at least not grilled cheese ever night - after a loooong absence! I'm organizing our apartment and giving loads of stuff to Good Will. I'm organizing papers and throwing away junk. It feels good. Real good.

I feel like we've reached a plateau. We're coasting right now. Enjoying the flatland and storing up energy. But I can't help but think that this may be the calm before the storm.

I went to the park with some friends from my MOPS group today and was talking with Mandy about her 2.5 year old son, Nathan. "Your boys are so good," she commented, "I miss that stage." She went on about how independent her son wants to be now and how he refuses to take naps anymore. He's super active and potty-training has been a headache. "I'd give anything to be back where you are right now," she said, laughing.

Hmm. Point taken.

So I'm enjoying this plateau right now. I'm doing everything I can, resting whenever possible, knowing that my feet will be busy on the way down the hill. This period of rest will not last forever, but it is getting me ready for the next part of our adventure. I don't know how long it will last, but I will enjoy it while I can :)


An Adventurous Summer

It's been an excellent summer so far! I have really enjoyed being with the boys and adventuring outside of the house a few days a week. Here are just some of the things we've been up to:

We've gone to at least four different elementary school playgrounds for playdates with our MOPS group

We've eaten some Anderson's ice cream cones and made a HUGE mess of ourselves (but it was oh, so worth it!)

We went blueberry picking

(Although we found it much easier to just eat the blueberries out of Mom's container)

We've been playing peek-a-boo

We've been finding new things to climb

We've spent a lot of time enjoying our front porch and awning, including once where we watched the kids skinnydip in their kiddie pool. In. Their. Front. Yard.

We enjoyed corn on the cob, all by ourselves!

We've been sharing creamsicles on these hot, humid days

We enjoyed some time with Dad in our inflatable pool in the backyard

We've gone to the zoo at least four times

We've been finding new ways to make new messes. This one's compliments of a (sealed?) bag of Kix cereal.

Here's a recent visit to the zoo where we dug for dinosaur bones

We got together with some of my college friends and their daughters

We spent time with their grandpa and cousins

We enjoyed my sister's new house and her two sons

In addition to the activities these photos illustrate, we've gone to friend's houses for playdates, gone grocery shopping together, had dinner with family, enjoyed fewer naps and a longer bedtime and even did a photoshoot for a good friend and her 11-month-old son! Life has been good.

Mindy, why so adventurous? What's the reason for all of these outings?

Simple answer.

I'm not pumping anymore!!


Eighteen Years Later

Andy and I took the boys to our favorite restaurant the other night. We are very blessed that Jack and Ben do really well in public... at least so far. Armed with a few McDonalds toys, a cup and a straw and plenty of food, they allow us to enjoy a night out while not having to organize a babysitter!

We sat in a table against the wall and quickly began unloading our goodies. The family next to us was just beginning to leave when they noticed our little guys. The oldest lady in the group said, "Oh, my word! Twins!" You could hear the excitement in her voice. Wherever there are multiples, there's an instant bond. "My grandsons are twins, too! See?" She turned around and pointed at her two eighteen-year-old grandsons with their hands in their pockets. They had been celebrating their high school graduation. The boys smiled politely and awkwardly shifted their weight; this was not the first time they had been pushed into the spotlight.

"Aren't they such a blessing?" the mom asked me. "Oh, yeah. Such a blessing," I admitted, "but a lot of work, too!" I added that last phrase at the last second, expecting to get an I-know-exactly-what-you-mean response. Instead, she said, "No, I never saw it as work. It was always a lot of fun."

It's not work, huh?
Gee, that's funny.
I always felt like these guys kept me on my toes.
Most days, I feel like I'd have an easier time working full-time.
But I must be wrong.

Obviously, caring for two busy toddlers is a cake walk!
Either I'm doing something terribly wrong or that mom has some serious memory issues!