Toddler Table Manners

IMG_1634“I’d never be able to get her to sit still without buckling her!”

“How do you know he won’t fall out?”

“I wish my kid had table manners like that.”

When our son Joseph (now almost 3) was 18 months old, he already had a grip on basic table manners. Yes, he can be a hooligan while eating just like any other child, and of course he had (and still has) his moments of devil-may-care table antics. . . but he was at 18 months able to:

  • sit still, with good posture
  • use a fork and a spoon (and fingers)
  • drink from a cup
  • and wipe his face and hands with a napkin during and when finished eating.
  • And he can tell us when he is “all done.”

We rarely if ever spoon feed him (only sometimes when he is really really tired) and he also knows to clean up messes that he makes. He loves to wipe the table, even if at this point, he doesn’t get it very clean.

He has these skills because we have been enabling him to learn and use them since he began eating solid foods around 6-7 months. We allowed our child to learn these skills by presenting him with the means to discover his own abilities through a Montessori-inspired presentation and nurture of table skills.

We have thoroughly enjoyed and benefitted as a family from the use of a method that allows real baby-led weaning: the choice to choose foods and eat them at will, in a comfortable and empowering physical environment.

If you would like to read more, please visit my full post on Toddler Table Manners: A Montessori-Inspired
Approach on amywilla.com. The full post has information about introducing a napkin and using utensils, too!

Yes, I nursed two children at once!

This is a question that I get frequently from friends and from mothers when I’m leading La Leche League meetings. Many moms and expectant moms are curious about how (and why) I tandem nursed our two silly bears, Abbey (now 5) and Joe (now nearly 3).

Amywilla.com: Yes, I nursed two children at once!

Amywilla.com: Yes, I nursed two children at once!

Here is a post that I wrote a while back to discuss tandem nursing. It may not be a goof fit for everyone, but for us, with some reflection and adaptation, it worked to our advantage and to our children’s great benefit. Abbey weaned naturally at 4 years and 11 months – and Joe, now nearly 3 years old, comes to my breast an average of twice per day (surrounding sleeping times).

Navigating a Tandem Nursing Experience

When I became pregnant with our second child, Joseph, I was elated. Instantly, I thought forward to tandem nursing Abbey (who would be 2.5 years at Joseph’s due date) and our new baby, and I was really looking forward to enjoying the experience of nursing two children and the bond that it would form!

When the actual tandem nursing experience came to pass, elated wasn’t quite the right word for the feelings that surfaced. At times I found myself feeling like a mommy dog, nursing a litter of pups! But it still was wonderful, and it’s been an interesting and beautiful experience, and a stunning example of how our bodies are made to mother and how our mothering is meant to evolve.

 

Tandem Nursing During the Newborn Period

 

One of the first things that Abbey said about her baby brother was “Mommy, you need to give my brother Mamas. He wants mamas to drink!” and she started to undo my nursing tank and gently nudge Joseph’s head toward my breast. Sharing was not an issue for Abbey. She constantly wanted to “share mamas” with Joseph, and was happy to do so. But she wanted to share with Joseph every time that he ate. . . and as a newborn eats upwards of 12 times per day, I had to tell Abbey that sharing with him every time he nursed was just not feasible nor was it a comfortable thing for me.

 

When planning to tandem nurse, I urge you to do some meditating on the newborn stage, and prepare some appropriate limits and explanations for your older child about why a newborn baby nurses so frequently, and how that is different from the pattern of nursing that they use as an older child. For example: You’re not a baby; you’re my big girl: For Abbey, it was vital that I explain to her that she just could not nurse all day long. . . statements like “Babies drink mamas all the time because they’re growing really really fast. You’re a big girl, and big girls drink mamas sometimes AND eat food to grow tall and strong!”

 

Abbey still enjoys eating her snack and then running around the house showing off her strong muscles and long legs. Feeding Abbey a snack while Joseph nursed in mid-morning or mid-afternoon was also helpful. I’d preface her snack with “Wow, won’t Joseph be excited when he is old enough to have this yogurt like you! What a special snack!” and then when she was settled with her snack, I would settle down to nurse Joseph.

Tandem Nursing an Older Baby and a Preschooler

Simply saying “No thank you” and asking Abbey to respect my words when she would ask me for “mamas” started to happen more and more as Joseph grew into a crawling infant and would need to nurse for reasons other than just sustenance.

When he would [and still] “ask[s]” to nurse by rooting at by breast or signing for milk because his gums were sore from teething pains or if he fell and bumped his body while trying to learn a new gross motor skill, I would scoop him up and nurse him. . . and Abbey wanted me to do the same for her.

At this point, I just had to start saying “No thank you” to her requests to nurse. . . evolving my child-led-weaning ideals to save the happiness of the household, and do best by both of my children.

I was feeling touched-out and challenged by Abbey’s intensity and demanding nature regarding my “mamas”. And mommy off balance is not good for a family.

Teaching Bodily Integrity:

I needed to come back to a place of balance and peace, and setting limits with my nursing preschooler allowed me to reinstate balance and peace in our tandem nursing relationship and in our household.

I had planned on letting Abbey naturally wean and not imposing my feelings on her requests at all. But this type of all or nothing approach just didn’t work out for our family, and so I taught Abbey a respect for my bodily integrity right alongside teaching her about her own.

Committing to and explaining bodily integrity: I told Abbey, “This is my body, and these are my “mamas”. I choose to share them with you because I love you, and I know you need to nurse sometimes. But I can’t nurse you all the time, and I feel so unhappy when you throw a fit over nursing. Ask me calmly about nursing, and then mommy can enjoy nursing you!”

If you find yourself feeling touched-out by tandem nursing, I urge you to contemplate the WHO’s recommendation on breastfeeding past infancy, and meditate on what it means for you.

They recommend breastfeeding to 2 years of age and then after that, as long as is mutually beneficial and desired.

I asked myself, “I know that breastfeeding my older child is normal and healthy for both of us. But I am having a hard time. What would make this nursing relationship desirable once more for me? What can I change to make it beneficial for ME?” So that I could provide a peaceful and comforting nursing relationship for Abbey instead of one filled with strain and struggle.

Finding Peace:

What I needed was peace in our nursing sessions. With some work, establishing and enforcing nursing limits for Abbey, we have once more come to a place of peace in our tandem nursing story. Now, Every day when Abbey comes downstairs from her nap, she asks to nurse on the sofa – she offers her brother one breast or the other, and takes the other “mama” for herself. Switching after a couple minutes, holding hands, playfully tickling and tugging at each other, my little toddler and beautiful child tandem nurse at my breast . . . and I am finally, actually elated about tandem nursing, just like I dreamt I would be.

This post was originally published on www.amywilla.com.

Encouraging Healthy Sleep Habits

amywilla.com: Encouraging Healthy Sleep HabitsIt was a cool, fall night, a couple years ago. The curtains were drawn but I’d left the windows cracked, and I was enjoying the soft night air as I sipped some wine and knit in front of the TV. Joseph and Abbey were snugly tucked in for night-night time, and I was relishing in the peace and quiet.

Until I felt that something was amiss.

I couldn’t concentrate on Emily Deschanel and David Borneaz and the Booth/Brennan love affair on the TV. . . I messed up my knitting three times in a row. So I got up to go check the house and see what was bugging my mommy-senses.

When I got up the stairs, I noticed the glow of Abbey’s flower light. Her door was wide open and her bed was empty. I checked the restroom. No Abbey. I checked our bedroom, quietly, so as not to wake Joseph, sleeping by our bedside. Abs wasn’t in there, either. So, where was she? I started to panic just a little and headed back downstairs. I checked the whole house twice over, looking for my preschooler, and started to panic that she had gone outside without me knowing! Then I heard a thump in the dining room and a little voice that scared me out of my skin.

“I’m just hiding mommy” she peeped.

You should have seen me.

I nearly peed myself, I was so startled.

Abbey had been under the dining table the whole time. Quiet as a mouse, she had ninja-sneaked her way out of her room, down the stairs, through the kitchen, and under the dining room table without me even hearing her. And scared me to death both with the thought that she may have gone outside in the middle of the night and with her startling reappearance.

“In your bed, NOW Abbey. You scared me! Bed. NOW.”

And now, the same scene repeats itself with Joe as my new little escape artist.

Bedtime. . . how should we handle it?

Encouraging Healthy Sleeping Habits

(How to deal with sneaky bedtime escape artists)

amywilla.com: Encouraging Healthy Sleep Habits Sleep is a huge target issue with all parents. It’s how we recharge our batteries – and as adults (and especially as parents) we get so little of it that we find sleeping precious. Ironically, our little ones. . . don’t always share that sentiment. From naptime struggles to endless bedtime negotiations. . . from silliness and slyness to serious and scary nightmares and fears, sleep is an issue that affects every parent and child. Sleep is also a necessary and vital component to a child’s overall health and well being. Toddlers need 12-14 hours of sleep per 24-hour period and preschoolers require 11-13 hours to be at their best 1. It’s important to make sure our children get enough sleep and that they develop healthy sleeping habits to serve them in adolescence and adulthood. But how? With ninja-like sneaking, stall tactics, tantrums, fears, etc. . . our little ones can make naptime and bedtime incredibly tricky. Here’s my list of tips to help resolve naptime and bedtime struggles so you and your Silly Bears can rest well.

  1. Compassion and Authenticity. Let’s be real, parents: coping with a child who is sensitive or troublesome at bedtime is incredibly irritating, no matter how truly frightened they are or incredibly hilarious their antics can be. Naptime and Bedtime are important, and we really don’t like it when bedtime snuggles become bedtime struggles. Be compassionate with yourself and allow yourself to be upset about sleep issues. I find that if I allow myself to be frustrated, it’s easier to be calm and solve the issue. Also important to remember is that you are not alone in having sleep time struggles and issues. Being authentic and compassionate with yourself is a great first step to overcoming the issue at hand and encouraging healthy sleep (and stress) habits for your little one.
  2. Clarity. Don’t let the cat get your tongue when your little one escapes bed, but don’t turn into Tolstoy with your response, either. A simple “It’s bedtime. Let’s go back to your bed.” is good enough.
  3. Calm. Nothing ruins parental authority faster than an emotional meltdown, or an adult temper tantrum. If I need a moment to compose myself after several times of putting a sneaky escape artist back to bed, I take one – and I am always glad that I did. Yelling, threatening, or chastising a toddler or child for sneaking out of bed sometimes feels satisfying, but it is far from successful and definitely not a healthy habit. I find that when I stay calm but firm in my voice and word choice, “It’s bedtime” resonates much more with my children.
  4. Consistency. I cannot stress this enough: Children thrive on consistency. Make a plan for yourself, and get your partner in on the plan as well. Make an effort to respond the same way each and every time that a child gets out of bed or protests going to sleep. Ours goes somewhat in this order:
  • Defining Night Night: “It’s night night time. At night, we get comfy in our beds, close our eyes and go to sleep. It’s your job to rest and I’ll see you in the morning!”
  • Do you need something to help you sleep? (our list goes extra kisses, a bedtime water cup, a small snack, and then and only then, extra cuddles)
  • Mommy and daddy love you, but its bedtime – it’s time to sleep now!

We repeat this as much as we need to, as calmly as possible, for as long as it takes to settle our Silly Bears. Usually, it takes no more than one or two go-throughs. Other nights, it can be a marathon.

5. Candor. Be truthful with your children about their need for rest, and be truthful with yourself about how much energy you can give to entertain your child’s bedtime push-back. Try not to compare your bedtimes to other families routines, but being truthful about how you do bedtime with your parenting peers is helpful for everyone, if it comes up.

How do you handle sneaky bedtime escapes, or toddler tenacity when it comes to night time?

 

Do you find that Consistency, Calm, Clarity, and Compassion help YOU and your family to maintain a healthy bed time routine?

Tell me in the comments!

Friday Focus: Love and Discipline

www.amywilla.com: Busy Mom

These two can keep a mama busy and create some stress! Self-control is so important in parenting with love and respect.

I often get questions from personal friends and from online followers on why (and how) we choose not to punish by spanking. I will be totally honest and say that both my husband and I have failed in this and have laid hurtful hands on the kids in moments of weakness and helpless anger. But mostly, if we feel angry and unable to handle things calmly, we try to take a parent time out util we can deal with the problem and/or behavior with calm and consistency with our house rules.

Modeling and consistency are key.  Discipline is showing a child the way to live. They’re following in our footsteps. So, spanking makes absolutely no sense. It’s telling a child, “I don’t like what you did, and I’m bigger than you, so I can exert my power over you and hit you” it also says “you’re bad!” to the child. So I try not to do it. I don’t want to create more stress in hour house than there already is!

 

Modeling and Consistency

www.amywilla.com: Compassionate Time-Outs

I usually carefully police my OWN behavior in order to make sure that I am showing my babies the kind of person I want them to look up to. I do use time outs, but only when one of the kids really needs a break from the situation at hand – and the time outs are not punishments, they are time to stop and think about the rule that they are disregarding. So, I sit WITH them, we watch the clock, and take deep breaths for one minute (or three minutes, sometimes, for Abbey). Then we recite the rule that the child broke, talk about what happened to lead to the destructive or disrespectful behavior, and think of something we can do differently next time.

Time outs aren’t shame-based when they’re used with compassion. . . and they’re not useless when used with consistency and presence. It helps the child think about what they’re doing and the actions that they’re taking. And lets them know that mommy (or daddy) cares about them. Responding with sensitivity can be so useful in consistently supporting house rules and respectful behavior without shaming.

In Their Shoes

Of course, this example uses breastfeeding as an example for an adult to get “in children’s shoes” . . . the topic is so central in my life as a LLL Leader and student of Public Health. So, here we go: lets get into a situation in which we are upset and someone is trying to change our behavior with words.

Suppose you are a mom (or maybe you are a mom) who tried awfully hard to breastfeed, but ended up weaning from the breast early and using formula. Would you feel empowered to try again if someone said “shame on you for not making it work the first time! You need to be punished for the way you behaved! Babies deserve breastmilk! What’s wrong with you!?” or if someone said instead, “I’m sorry it didn’t work out the first time. That must make you feel sad. I can help you try again. We can talk about this, and next time you try, I know you can succeed!”

I’m pretty sure that in both of the situations above, you would prefer the gentle, supportive, sensitive approach. It’s human to be self-preserving, and being yelled at or shamed is scary. We respond better to positive language and perform tasks (including learning how to calm down when upset) better when positive, supportive language is used.

Obviously, we as adults don’t want to be shamed and ridiculed for our behaviors – It feels awful, even just thinking about it, doesn’t it!? So why would we want to put that same heavy, awful feeling on our little ones?

Do you try to parent with compassion?

What do you think your discipline tactics say to your child?

Making Pizza Together

The other day for lunch, the Silly Bears really wanted to make pizza.

Lucky for them, mommy has all the ingredients on hand to make dough, and though we didn’t have mozzarella cheese, I figured cheddar would do.

We used the Quick No-Rise Pizza Crust from Kitchen Trials to make our dough. I don’t mind allowing dough to rise (obviously, judging by the amount of bread I make!) but the kiddos wanting pizza that very second drove me to google “no rise pizza dough” and this recipe was great!

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Abbey is getting really good at kneading dough.

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Joe is studying her form.

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Peeeeeeeeze can I do it, Abbey? Peeeeeeeze!?

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“Joe. You can open the cheese. You’re really good at that!”

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Mya helped us clean up the extra cheese pieces. . .

about 12 minutes in the oven . . . And then, VIOLA! Pizza!

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I couldn’t get a picture before the kiddos begged be to cut it up and serve it.

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Abbey even helped clean up. Go, Abbey!

What do you like making with your children?

Another First Day of School

Everybody is talking about and posting pictures of their kids’ first days of school. Most of the chatter I hear amongst my friends is pride and relief – that they made it through another busy summer at home and are now ready to greet back to school time! Some of my friends with children Abbey’s age are musing about the feeling of sending off their little kiddos to Kindergarten for the first time.. .

Abbey was slotted to go to Kindergarten in Maine this fall, but our PCS to Alaska changed things. She missed the age cut off in Alaska for Kindergarten, and while at first I was unhappy about it, because she is really academically ready, I’m starting to realize that I would rather have her be one of the oldest in the class and more comfortable with school and emotionally/behaviorally ready before she enters kindergarten. So this works to her advantage.

All ready for school in the knit dress I sewed her - she picked the fabric out of my stash! She's got a good eye for fashion!

All ready for school in the knit dress I sewed her – she picked the fabric out of my stash! She’s got a good eye for fashion!

She’ll be nearly six when she starts kindergarten next year, but boy, will she be ready to learn everything they will have to teach! She started at her new preschool for 4-5 year-olds this week and LOVED it.

With no apprehension, and a calm, quiet energy, she waltzed right in and put her things away, chatting with the teachers about this and that

. . . and then, as if remembering that she forgot. . . she ran up to jump in my arms for a big hug. “See you guys after school, mommy and Jo Jo!”

Joe was NOT happy leaving his sister at school.

Joe was NOT happy leaving his sister at school.

Joseph was already throwing a giant tearful tantrum, and it went on and off for 30 minutes after we dropped her off. “I want Abbey! Where’s Abbey!?” he cried. “I want school with Abbey!”

We played ran an errand to the grocery store, and played mega blocks and animals and read some books in the quiet house. We made and ate lunch, and then I laid down with him to nurse him for his nap. We fell asleep together, and when I woke up, I made some coffee, retreated to my office area, and got some schoolwork and shopping done without Abbey coming to me every 6 seconds in boredom.

It was nice. But by the time it was time to leave to go get her from school, I definitely was ready to have her back. I’m sure the bittersweet lonesome feeling like something’s missing for a few hours out of the day will go away in time. It did last year when she attended the Child Development Center while I worked on my online classes at home with Joe.

But there’s something about the quiet house and the lessened need for mommy while she’s away. It’s both awesome and lonesome at the same time.

“Don’t put me on your back when we go get Abbey.” said Joe in his little toddler voice when he woke up from his nap. I had worn him in the Ergo when we dropped Abbey off to keep him from running into the classrooms to play with toys. . . and to make handling the tantrum (that I knew was coming) a little easier.

“I done crying. I walk on my own. . . we pick up Abbey. . . I a BIG boy. Okay, mommy?”

Okay, little guy. And he was a big boy when we went to go pick her up. It was amazing how he reconciled his emotions and informed me passionately that he was ready to get get her from school, but that he wasn’t sad anymore.

What a big girl she is becoming. And what a big little boy Joe is lately! I look at them and I have to struggle to remember Joe being tiny. . . Abbey – well, I can’t believe she was a ever a baby (but of course, I know she was)! Sweet Abbey, may all your school days be as effortless and joyful as this one was. And Joseph, my little man, may you grow into a little school-bug yourself someday . . . Mommy loves you both!

If you send your children to mainstream school, how do you feel on their first days? Tell me below!

Even if your kids aren’t in school, how do you feel when your child goes off to an enrichment activity, or to play with a friend? Proud? Relieved? A little lonesome? Chat with me in the comments!

Wordless Wednesday

Silly Bears Fall 2013

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Mamatography August 2013

Yep, it’s that time again: When Amy gets so busy that her Mamatography posts go from weekly to monthly.

That happen to any of you other mamas out there? I hope it’s not just me!

Since we finished our BIG PCS from Maine to Kodiak Island Alaska, I have been busy busy busy setting up our home, caring for our kids, meeting new friends, getting used to the island, training a new dog, starting my new semester of Public Health classes, and mapping out my classes left until graduation and cheering with joy that I’ll have a BS in Public Health in 2015! Yippee!

I have also been seeking out and enrolling Abbey in a preschool, enrolling myself in an online lactation conference (to continue my lactation-specific education for the IBCLC requirements), figuring out what toddler experiences there are available for Joe here on the island. . . and consequently remembering that Joe will be 3 this coming Spring. O – M – G. How is that happening.

What else. . .

I’ve also been planning Abbey’s birthday party, trying to wring out of the Silly Bears what they would like to be for Halloween (so that I can order in the required materials and get to planning and sewing) . . . oh, and I’m trying to set up a La Leche League meeting for the area AND re-establish my Silly Bear Handmade shop after the move.

And Hubs has been gone to school in VA for 3 weeks.

*Deep Breath*

But I have been taking pictures!

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I have now finished this knitting project – - – a cotton hoodie from Toddler Hoodie pattern on Etsy for a special family member who turns one in a few weeks!

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And this lovely project is now hanging in my kitchen window – - – used up some scraps on this one (that seems to be a theme with my sewing lately. . . you’ll see later)

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Aha! More scrap busting going on in this photo – - – see if you can spot what this eventually became in one of the other August photos as you scroll down!

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Abbey, who is turning 5 in September, has celebrated quite a few milestones recently: She weaned from the breast at the end of her full-term breastfeeding experience, she moved all the way across the country with us, and she started swimming lessons! I love this girl. So Much.

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Joseph wasn’t such a fan of Abbey getting to swim and him not being able to (gotta be four to take swim classes, buddy! His response: “I AM four!” LOL).

But his new love interest, one of my new Coastie Wife friends, pepped him up with a surprise visit during Abbey’s swim class one day. He was very pleased.

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Our handsome man modeling the fleece-crotched training pants I made him. Like Abbey, he is now having less interest in using the potty, but I’m hoping with gentle reminders, we’ll be out of diapers and potty learned around 3, like she was.
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They’re super cute though – the trainers. I’m loving them. His little knees and cinnamon roll belly button are to die for too, though.

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We’ve been doing lots of baking on rainy days. . . It’s easier to bake in our new kitchen. It’s about the same size as our kitchen in Maine, but not galley-shaped, and not a walk through area (unless you’re coming in the back door) . . . I like the space and Abbey likes being in it with me!

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Blueberry Biscuits. Yummy.

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Super easy (and sooooo delicious french bread)

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And on a sunny day, we have lots of park time and coloring with sidewalk chalk!

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Oh, and hiking.

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And salmonberry picking.

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Thankfully for my husband’s psyche, Abbey hasn’t dressed up Joseph as a girl in quite a few weeks. Glad I snapped this jewel when I did then!

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We love dress up, but we love coloring more.

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And we love our new puppy, Mya.

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Raven stayed behind at Nana and Papas house because we weren’t positive that we wouldn’t harm her physically or emotionally by driving her (or shipping her) all the way to Kodiak. She is enjoying being spoiled rotten by her “grand-people” and though we miss her, we know she is happy and healthy and that is all that matters!

Abbey constantly tells Mya stories about “our other dog Raven”

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I couldn’t help but post this picture of Joseph in a classic toddler moment. The “I refused to take a nap, so then we went on a hike to pass the time, and I fell asleep on the sofa when we got back.” One of many classic toddler moments. IMG_3671

Another knitting project. I can’t ever just do one thing at a time – - – can I?

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Mya again.

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Abbey being a puppy with Mya under my desk in my sewing room/office. Love my work buddies.

Have you seen the completed project yet? If you don’t know what I’m talking about, scroll back up the top. . .

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My human work buddy brought me her rainbow bear to sit in my sofa pin cushion. So sweet.

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Ah, there she is! My work buddy and my little mermaid!

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Joe lined up all the ducks he could steal from the lifeguard’s basket and set them all up looking out the window.

I wonder what he was wishing about while Abbey was having her lesson? LOL

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Oh yeah. . . park time!!!!!!!!!

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And my post wouldn’t be complete without a picture of wild-caught fresh alaskan salmon. One of the perks of being up here on this isolated Alaskan island! Yum!

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That was our August. How was YOURS?

mtbadge2This post is part of the Mamatography 2013 Project with Diary of a First Child and Momma Jorje.

We are taking (at least) a photo a day to keep a record of our year. Join us at any point during the year and start sharing your own daily photos!

Growing Up Together- Sibling Revelry in Our House

Welcome to the August 2013 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Sibling Revelry

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have written about siblings — their own, their hopes for their kids, and more. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

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Five years ago, I was childless. And now, I have two beautiful children that both inspire and mystify me – two little siblings that love and challenge each other as they grow up together. It’s pretty amazing.

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Growing up with a brother ten years my senior, I am thankful that God has blessed us with two little Silly Bears closer in age than my husband and I were to our siblings. My brother and I were (not purposefully) ten years apart in age, and I have a few fond memories of our interaction when I was small, but not much interaction with him, because he was already off at high school and college and in his own young adult world by the time I was really interested in having a playmate. I was just the kid sister, never really a playmate to my brother.

It’s just so much fun for Abbey and Joe to play together, bond over struggles, and practice social situations in pretend play being close in age. Abbey and Joseph are two and a half years apart, and this seems to be a really fun age gap (and one that worked well for us!). I can’t imagine being pregnant now, or adding another sibling to the Willa clan right now, but that is how it was for Abbey and my pregnancy with Joe.

Fast forward two years: Abbey and Joseph both love and challenge one another.

Abbey is showing Joe all the fun things to do, like pretending, doing crafts, and even going potty (yep, Joe thinks it’s super fun – thanks Abbey!)

And Joe is showing Abbey that there are limits to her older-sibling power. He is big enough now to stand up for himself, and report breaches of household rules when Abbey lets her strong will take her off course during sibling play.

Have I told you yet how amazing it is that I can sit down and have a cup of tea or coffee while our Silly Bears scamper off to play “pretend kindergarten” or “Alice and the Mad Hatter”, “Ninja Turtles”, “Princess Ball” or “Sports” in their rooms? It’s an intoxicating glimpse into the future, when I can really enjoy “the sweet spot” that moms of older children get to experience —

- – - “I’ve been so deep in The Blur for so many years. Not sleeping, eating cold mac and cheese off of Winnie the Pooh plates. Every day determined by nap schedules, nursing, diaper changes and preschool pick up. But that has changed over the past year or so, without me even noticing.” writes Juliana Miner, a fellow blogger, in her article “The Sweet Spot”.

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When I hear my sweet silly bears chattering and playing and growing together in their vibrant sibling revelry, I sit back and enjoy the fact that they don’t need me in that moment. They might need me in a few seconds, but for just that small amount of time, the Blur softens, and I can breathe a little.

I’m insanely glad that we were blessed to be able to give Abbey a sibling within the window that we planned. It’s so fun to watch them grow and change, and such a benefit to me to see their relationship adjusting to their growing ages and stages – - – even allowing me a few seconds of down time every now and again.

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Bread Goes in Your Belly

 

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Abbey and Joe Smily Faces WM

How is the sibling relationship in your experience? Have you witnessed or experienced sibling revelry?

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Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

  • The Damage of Comparing Siblings — Comparing siblings can lead to hurt feelings and poor relationships. What Jana Falls has learned and why she hopes for more for her son.
  • Connecting Through Sibling Rivalry — With four children who are spaced so that each child grows up in a pair, Destany at They are All of Me shares her method for minimizing the competition so her children can focus on bonding, rather than besting each other.
  • Sibling Revelry — Lucy at Dreaming Aloud shares the two-week transition that happens every summer as her kids transform from bickering to learning how to play.
  • Baby Brother born from an OceanAbby Jaramillo describes how her toddler connects in a possibly mystical way with her new baby brother and his birth at home, and Abby draws parallels with her own sister’s new baby.
  • Hard, But Worth It — Claire at The Adventures of Lactating Girl discusses how difficult having two children can be, but how it’s definitely worth it.
  • Raising Attached Siblings — At Living Peacefully with Children, Mandy and her husband are making conscious choices about how they raise their children to foster sibling connection and attachment.
  • It’s Complicated — Henrietta at Angel Wings and Herb Tea reflects on how life’s twists and turns have taken her from a childhood with no siblings to a constantly changing family life with five children, including one in spirit.
  • Supportsustainablemum reflects on how the differences between her relationship with her siblings and her husband’s have affected their family and at a time of need.
  • Peas in a Pod — Kellie at Our Mindful Life enjoys the special relationship her oldest two children share.
  • Lessening the competitive enviornment in the homeLisa at The Squishable Baby discusses how downplaying competition in the home has led to cooperation, not competition.
  • The complex and wonderful world of siblings — Lauren at Hobo Mamareflects on her choices to have not too many children, spaced far apart — and how that’s maybe limited how close their sibling relationship can be.
  • 5 Ways to Help Young Siblings Have a Loving Relationship — Charise I Thought I Knew Mama shares the strategies that help her three year old and 14 month old have a somewhat beautiful relationship and aid in keeping peace in their home.
  • 4 Steps to Encourage Sibling Revelry, even in Hot Moments of Rivalry — Sheila Pai of A Living Family share 4 Steps she uses to shift hot moments of sibling rivalry towards connected moments of sibling revelry and human compassion.
  • Twins Are Fun — Mercedes at Project Procrastinot witnesses the development of her twins’ sibling bond.
  • Growing Up Together- Sibling Revelry in Our House — Amy at Me, Mothering, and Making it All Work realizes that there is great utility in raising siblings that are close in age, and is grateful to have been blessed with healthy siblings that both love and challenge one another every day.
  • Top 5 Ways to Reduce Sibling Rivalry — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares ideas that helped her two children be best friends along with Montessori resources for peace education and conflict resolution.
  • Sibling Uncertainty — Alisha at Cinnamon and Sassafras wonders how her children’s relationship will change now that the baby is mobile.
  • Living with the Longing — Rachael at The Variegated Life sees that she can live with her longing for another — without changing her plans.
  • For My One and Only DaughterPlaying for Peace mommy reflects on her choice to not have more children in order to focus on other dreams.
  • Siblings: A Crash Course in Relationship Training — How have your siblings prepared you for later relationships? One of Dionna at Code Name: Mama’s top priorities as mama of siblings is to help them learn how to navigate relationships.
  • The Joys of Siblings: An Inside Joke — Ana at Panda & Ananaso shares the a glimpse into the joys of having siblings through sharing a perplexing yet hilarious inside joke betwixt her and her own.
  • Sibling Support, even in the potty! — Even though Laura at Pug in the Kitchen‘s children didn’t start out best friends, they are joined at the hip these days, including cheering each other on with potty successes!
  • Don’t Seek What Isn’t There – On Sibling Jealousy — Laura from Authentic Parenting analyzes the seeming desire people harbor for seeking out hints of sibling jealousy.
  • Sibling Love / Sibling Hate?Momma Jorje speculates whether her children will have a different sibling experience than her own. Did she make the right choices based on her own history?

Wordless Wednesday- Nursing, nursing. . . Everywhere!

Though I have definitely nursed both of my children in numerous places, including church, on a hike, on airplanes, and whenever needed. . . these are the only photographs that I can scrounge up today for our picture post to raise up all nursing mamas during Breastfeeding Week, 2013. All of them are of Joseph nursing. Abbey recently weaned (I think) naturally at the age of 4 1/2.

BreastfeedingYork, Maine after Joseph’s birth.

Asleep after nursing - dec 2011A milky slumber at a Christmas Party in Kittery, Maine

Nursing Joseph as a toddlerPortsmouth, New Hampshire

Wearing Joe, safe, snuggly, and dry, on a walk during which it started pouring down rain!Nursing in the Ergo, in the rain, on a walk from the library with Abbey and Joe. Kittery, ME

IMG_2892Newington, New Hampshire (at the Fox Run Mall)

IMG_1955Kittery, Maine. Recovering from a tummy bug.

IMG_3333Kodiak, Alaska! Nursing in our new home

IMG_2135Here’s Lookin’ at YOU, nursing mama!

You rock!

Where have YOU nursed your baby or child?