Monday, February 1, 2010

january, a month of constant vigilence

January has been quite a month! The boys are both now solidly walking, talking up a storm, and signing quite a lot! We endured two rounds of colds, our first case of impetigo, and the emergence of 6 out of our 8 canines (Max still hasn't hatched his bottom two). This has led to extreme sleep disturbances, and an average of 4 hours a night of sleep for me, as I spent my nights shuttling between my unhappy boys. For the first time in a very long time, I actually had to enlist my sister's help during the night on at least two occasions. By the end of the month, it also became clear that it was time to try reducing to one nap a day - we're still in the throes of that transition.

some beautiful weather this month meant a lot of time outside.
shoghi discovers soil for the first time.

the emotional needs of toddlers can be so intense. thank god i'm in the habit of babywearing. i honestly don't know what i would do without my carriers.

This was our third month since our dear Emilia retired from caring for my boys in order to welcome her own sweet baby. To say I've missed her is an extreme under-statement; in short, the household fell into complete disorder, I had to close Bamboo Village Press and completely abandon my other brand new business Good Karma Marketing. If you are one of the many friends or family who has emailed, commented, left voicemail, or sent a message via facebook, you may suspect that I have been ignoring you - in reality, I just haven't had any time. I haven't listened to voicemail for about two weeks, to be honest. I guess I'm a little shut down these days.

This month, I was inspired by several of my mama-of-multiple friends and a visit to All Roads Montessori School to give the boys more opportunities to participate in learning about daily life. Miriam is a mom of triplet girls who sent me a very helpful intro to setting up the house in Montessori-style, following a visit from my friend Jolene who planted the idea that I could use this method at home.

we took these lights down and the boys were both so fascinated, i decided to put them in a basket on the shelf. they carry the basket to the table and i plug them in. we've talked a lot about colors this month, so this activity was a good match.

These inspirations have mostly involved changes in mealtime and cycles of activity. I've deliberately refrained from using the word "help" when we're tidying up or doing other chores - I want them to get a sense that it's just a part of the day, and that they are responsible participants, not helpers. I've capitalized on their obsession with sweeping and vacuuming to make these a part of completing meal times and activities involving messy play (like rice or bean play).

any excuse to sweep
much fighting ensues over whose turn it is with the broom. i hope to get two child-sized brooms this month

Jen described in a recent post how she does meals with her twins. Until that time, I'd been resigning myself to the bowl-hurling, and had convinced myself that they weren't ready for dishes - for the most part, I was putting their food right on the table, which seemed logical after they both graduated from highchairs with trays back in December. Then I started serving them on those plastic plates with little divided sections, and they LOVED it.

At the same time, I realized that this was going to require me to be at the table with them at all times, not preparing each different dinner item as the meal progressed (i.e. as they rejected the last thing). They both really love seeing all their food at once, and generally go for the fruit first, but don't complain when it's done. I did a lot of praising - basically a running commentary of "wow! Max is keeping his plate on the table!" and "Shoghi, I love how you're eating with your spoon!"

All of this work has yielded real fruits: we have very little food throwing, and virtually no plates end up on the floor anymore (wish I could say the same about spoons and forks, but you gotta start somewhere, right?). I do preempt the throwing, though... if I see them gearing up, I say "oh, it looks like you're done. Let's move your plate" or something along those lines. I also tell them that I'm going to help them to remember how to do something, rather than just taking it away.

messy baby/clean baby.
some things never change!

In celebration of this amazing mealtime transformation, and after visiting the Montessori school, I got some small ceramic plates and cups from Goodwill and that's now what we are using at the table. They seem to love their open cups, and like watching me pour their milk (which I give about a tablespoon at a time).

our new place settings

The other major change has been that I basically follow them around now during their active time, and draw their attention back when they're finishing an activity. I tell them that I see they're finished with it, and tell them that we'll put it back on the shelf. I didn't really think they were even hearing me, but last Monday at the doctor's office, I told them we were going to put the toys away before leaving the exam room, and Shoghi actually picked up a toy and put it away! I was so shocked and excited!

In a similar vein, Max has learned to pick up his juice cup or any snacks he has (intentionally) dropped onto the floor from their small table (which I use for snacks) and put them back onthe table. He stands there and applauds for himself, which is totally darling.

This constant attention to what they are doing, and my running narrative of what we are doing and how we are finishing, has definitely contributed to my lack of time to get anything done. By the time the boys are in bed and the kitchen is cleaned up, I have just about done everything I can for the day. I watch an hour or so of TV with my sister and then head off to bed, only to be invariably woken an hour or two later to attend to one of the boys... and so it begins again.

In February, I'm counting on better sleep, unless our 2-year molars decide to show up early (there's been a lot of chewing on fingers this week). I will definitely have to do some kind of modified sleep training for Shoghi, who has reverted back to his persistent, angry wakings of a year ago. Plus, I have got to get rid of his nighttime bottle once and for all... and so the story goes.

we discovered planes this month: "A PLANE!!"

I'm glad to leave the stress of January behind, and look forward to this month which will bring a visit from my parents. Be well, Internet friendlies!


  1. I had one of those moments last week where I realized something I'd been saying for a long time actually got through to Clark. It's such a great feeling. It really helps to have that kind of encouragement.

  2. Wow, you're really establishing some good habits in them during meals and clean-up time. We've just now gotten to the point where E&R understand, "let's put things away" and it is nice. We still have some of the mealtime food flinging and I know I need to be more diligent. You've inspired me.

  3. Celeste, you are a wonder!!! Really.

  4. Great update! Sounds like things are going really well. I love your new place settings. (We have those same forks - we all love them.) I've also heard some folks talking recently about "unbreakable" glass bowls and cups. I don't remember the brands but will be googling them soon.

    Ditto on the baby wearing. I heard 18 months is a "separation anxiety" bout. Veronica likes to ride on my back while I cook. :-)

    I too have grandma visiting in a few days. Something to look forward to for us both (visits from family). :-)