Monday, August 30, 2010

Mouring Experience

My little girl is 7 months old.  She was born prematurely via c-section back in January.  Because of her unexpected delivery and manner of delivery I feel like I missed out.  She's my 3rd so I know what making it to term and labouring to deliver is like.  In fact I consider my 2nd son's birth to be one of the most perfect day of my life.  Now here I am 7 months removed from my daughter's birth and I still have a little bit of mourning going on.  I know project healthy baby is the most important thing (and she really is lovely!) but I still get these twinges.  Her birth happened so quickly and I never thought I would have a C that it seemed like it was over before it was begun.  Just a little wistful today I guess.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Let's Talk About Sex - pre-puberty

Do you know what movies your kids are watching?  How about shows on TV?  What books are they reading?  What are they looking at online?  What music are they listening to?  Do you know the content of all of it?  The answer to these questions is exactly why we need to have an open relationship with our kids.  You may think that 8, 9, 10 years old is too young to know about topics related to sex, but I counter that they already know something.  I'll use the Twilight example.  I know that  9 and 10 year old girls  have read this series (numerous times) and watched the movies.  Have you read them?  I have.  And I would not want my daughter reading them when she gets to that age.  These books have blatant aspects of lust and sex in them.  If your daughters are reading them, have you talked with them about the books? 
When I was a kid, my mom had 'talk time' with each of us at bedtime.  'Talk time' was just that, a time each night that was just her and me (or my brother).  She started when we were very young, part of our bedtime routine.  And we would just talk, about our day, about what was going on in the family, what we were thinking about, what was happening at school.  Little did I know that she was making a way to talk to us about some of the sticky subjects of life.  Talking with your kids about sex can't just be a one time thing.  It has to be a topic that is open anytime.  You need to decide where your ins are.  Sometimes they are tie-ins: songs on the radio, a scene in a movie, a book.  You can use these to get a sense of where your child is at.  Ask what they think about what they heard and saw and then talk about it with them.  Let your own opinions be known, not in a lecturing way, but in a nurturing way.  Other times it is a subject that you just have to bring up.  I was reading how they are finding some girls hitting puberty at a very young age (as early as 7).  7!  I was shocked when I heard that number.  So we need to start preparing our kids young for changes that will be happening to their bodies.  I remember when I was in school we had the 'puberty talk' when we were in grade 5.  I would have been 10.  I also remember when my mom had the same talk with me, it was the year before when I was 9.  I also remember how many of my classmates had only heard about puberty through Judy Blume books and Teen magazine until that point in time. 
Chances are, if you haven't started talking to your kids about sex by this age, they already know something about it.  What is that something?  That depends on your kid.  Usually, girls are a little more mature in this area (for the time being, some boys catch up pretty quick).  Some of them know too much.  I remember a classmate of mine showing me her brother's stash of X-rated magazines when we were about 8 and I was shocked.  I was a lot more innocent than she was to say the least, but that had a lot to do with how my parents raised and protected me. 
I wish I had a good book to recommend to you to help you along with this age group, but I don't.  My kids aren't here yet and the kids I worked with on this topic were older than this age.  I speak as a parent anticipating this topic with my kids and a teacher who has taught this age group.  I did find a great list on Amazon that has the bestselling books on this topic for all ages, so the books range from pre-school age to teen:
The ones that stand out to me are "The Period Book", "How are you changing" and "Almost 12".  But I haven't read any of them myself.  They are ones that I would look into if my kids were at this age.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Let's Talk About Sex - starting young

"Where do babies come from?"
This is the usual first question kids ask that opens up a discussion about bodies and sex.  Another opening may be, "How are girls different from boys?", or the one I got, "Mom, why don't you have a penis?"
Kids are naturally curious about everything.  It is our job as parents to teach them about everything, including matters of the body.  Pre-schoolers will ask questions like these.  It is important that we answer them honestly and in an age-appropriate manner.  Kids this age don't need to know the details of intercourse, Daddy having sperm that meets Mommy's egg is usually a sufficient answer for them.
More importantly our kids need to know that yes there are differences between the way boys and girls are made.  It is good for us to let them know what these differences are and what the proper names for body parts are as well.
I know a lot of you are totally nervous about this.  It is so important for us to look at our own feelings about sex and bodies and think about how our attitude is going to transfer over to our children.  Many people unwittingly pass on feelings of shame to their kids when it comes to discussing bodies.  This can come from our own personal feelings due to our own personal experiences, or even by the refusal to talk about it, glossing over the subject (saying things like "down there" instead of calling a penis a penis).
When I started to talk about bodies with my kids I bought two books to help me along.  One specifically talked about private parts.  The other talked about bodies as a whole, how our bodies work and function.  I wanted them to see their bodies as an entity.

Amazing You! by Dr. Gail Saltz is written with pre-schoolers in mind.  It describes the differences between boy bodies and girl bodies.  The pictures are drawn.  The book is written in a very positive way to introduce kids to this topic.  The back pages have a letter to parents to help them along as they talk to their kids.  I really recommend picking this one up as a conversation starter for you and your kids.  I bought it when my oldest was 4 and asking a lot of questions.  My 3 year old is now asking some of the same questions so I've brought this book out and found that it is helping.

The Busy Body Book is the other book I bought to help me to teach my kids about how their bodies work.  This book focuses on fitness and healthy living.  Again, the pictures are drawn.  This book shows the different systems of the body (skeletal, muscles, brain & nerves, lungs, heart & blood vessels, and the stomach & intestines).  It gives an overview of how the body works together and what we do to maintain a healthy body.
I think it's great to cover the body as a whole system.  The more kids know to be healthy, the better off they will be.

Things I've learned about talking to my kids about their bodies:
1) teach them the correct names for body parts.  It's fine to use the word "pee-pee" for everyday talk, but let them know a penis is a penis.  Teach your girl the difference between a labia, urethra and vagina.
2) let them know early on that parts of their bodies are private, and only for them.  It is perfectly fine for your child to know the meaning of privacy and grant them the opportunity to change in private, pee in private and wash in private (yes, supervise their bath for safety).  We started with privacy when our oldest was 2 and in daycare.  We knew that the daycare workers were changing his diapers.  We taught him the phrase "wipe, wipe, done".  He knew that if people were handling his diaper changing longer than that that he needed to tell us.  Yes, that is how early we started.  We've kept this topic open often.  One way to describe what a private part is is anything that your bathing suit covers is private.  We've also taught our kids the importance of telling us no matter what anyone else tells them.  My kids know that there are some adults who are not nice and who tell lies.  It is more important that mommy and daddy know what adults (or bigger kids) are saying and doing than what those people tell them.  Their bodies are their own.
3) talk to your kids about everything.  My husband was raised in a family where kids were seen and not heard.  He was a kid with lots of questions and didn't get many if any answers.  The more questions you answer about everything with your kids (no matter how tedious), the more open they will be to come to you with questions about their bodies.
4) talk with a straight face.  Practice saying the words, or, reading the book of your choice for them if you have to.  I have an easier time with this than my husband does.  I think it's because of the homes we grew up in.  He wasn't allowed to talk about it.  My mom was an RN and did talk to us from a young age.  She was straightforward with us and that's how I want to be with my kids.
5) think age appropriately.  Kids at this age do not need to know everything.  The details are not yet important.  They need to know the basics.  They need to know what bodies look like.  They need to know that their bodies will change as they get older.  They need to know that a sperm + egg = a baby.  They need to know that babies grow inside of a mommy's uterus (not tummy) before it is born.  When I was pregnant with my 3rd child, my (then) 5 year old really wanted to know exactly what was going on.  I found a beautiful book at the library with color pictures describing the development of a baby.

Lennart Nilsson is a well known Sweedish Photographer who captured babies in utero.  This is exactly the book that my son needed at the time.  I now know that there is another similar book geared to children called "How was I born?" from the same photographer and author.

5. Books are excellent tools to get questions answered and conversations going.  You may find you have an easier time talking with your kids if you are all looking at a book together.
6. Be ready for any question at any time.  They will come when you least expect them.  It is okay to give them a quick answer and say, "You know, that's a great question.  Why don't we talk about it tonight when Mommy has a good amount of time to talk with you about it?"  Then make sure you follow up!

Remember, you want the best for your little ones.  Knowledge is crucial for them.  They trust you most in this world, we need to return the favor be honest and open back.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Let's Talk About Sex

It is one of the most important topics our kids face and I'm bold enough to say, I think we've completely failed our kids on this one.  What???  Oh yes.  As a whole our kids are not well informed when it comes to their bodies and sex.  Before you start arguing with me on this one I want you to first ask yourself, "what have I done in opening the lines of communication on this topic?".  Then think about this, what did your own parents do to talk about sex when you were growing up?  Now you may be thinking, but my kid is only 4, this isn't something I have to worry about yet.  Well, I would counter that opening this topic starts young, in an age appropriate manner of course.  You start with bodies when they are little and the topic grows over the course of time.
Take a look around us.  Our society glorifies sex.  It can demean women.  It can destroy men.  We have not done well with this topic.  The only way we can help our kids deal with sex is to teach them about it.  Over the next few posts, I'm going to talk about how to talk to your kids about sex.  What is real, honest and appropriate.  I'm no expert.  I'm a mom.  I'm also a teacher.  I've also been a youth leader for young women.  It's from conversations with these girls (ages 13-17) that has had me worried the most.   I'd love to hear your thoughts on the topic too.  What have or haven't you done to educate your kids when it comes to matters of sex? 

Friday, August 6, 2010

And the Winner is...

The winner of our Living Stories blog tour giveaway is...

#3 - Sarah who wrote: I'd probably pick the Princess and the Pea! She's kind of like me-we both have a hard time sleeping!

Congratulations Sarah!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

The Chase is On . . .

So, my baby, Emma has started crawling. About a month ago she started moving, and now she is constantly on the go. There are advantages and disadvantages to this stage.

One of my favorite things about it is watching Emma investigate the world. Everything is so exciting and new. She picks up each object she comes across, moves it from hand to hand, puts it in her mouth, bangs it, drops it, looks at it, picks it up, and then either carries it with her or throws it away, and moves on. The she finds two things next to each other, picks them up, bangs them together, rubs them against each other, and then drops them and moves on. I love watching baby's natural curiosity and experimental instinct developing.

I love watching how social our third child is. She loves to crawl into the middle of what ever the boys are playing with and just sit and watch and"socialize". She likes to follow Dad around until he picks her up, or pull up to standing on the edge of his chair to "visit" while he's working on the computer.

On the down side, we are in the throes of the diaper chase. Emma just wants to get up and crawl away when I lie her down to take off her diaper. This means chasing around a wet or, worse, dirty baby trying to get everything wiped off her without it getting spread everywhere else. I remember with Andrew, my first, I was so frustrated by this stage. This time around I have more of a sense of humour. I know its just a matter of time before she starts lying still for diaper changes again, so I just try to keep the mess to a minimum and wipe on the go.

Of course, the other famous down side of this stage is having a human carpet sweeper around. With two boys who love legos and Playmobil, this is a challenge. Emma loves to shove her mouth full of Playmobil hair and helmets, which are just the perfect size to get caught down her throat. It means a lot more vigilance about what is on the floor and in her mouth. I try to look on the positive and remind myself that its helping me keep things tidy and clean -- well, the floor is neat and tidy, anyway.

What do you love / hate about the crawling stage?

By the way, friends, this will be my (Jill's) last post for a few weeks. We are moving cross country, and I will be busy and then offline until close to the end of August. Looking forward to chatting again then.

Amusing myself with kid's TV

These are random thoughts I have when watching a little TV with my kids.

What is the nature of the relationship between Handy Manny and Kelly?
How about Bob the Builder and Wendy?
Where in the world are Max and Ruby's parents?  Should an 8 year old really be in charge of her 3 year old brother?
Why does Nina spend so much time hanging around the Imagination Movers?  Is she leading them all on?
How come Dora and Diego can go pretty much anywhere in the world they want to without any adult supervision?
What's up with the Wiggles?  No one smiles that much. 
Speaking of the Wiggles, here's some of Dylan Moran's brillance on the subject while in Melbourne:

What are your random thoughts on kids TV?  Come on, I know you have them.

*Don't forget to enter our iTunes giveaway!  Contest closes on Friday, the 6th!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

The Incredible Growing Child

Two of my children have gone through growth spurts recently, my oldest and my youngest.  You can literally see them growing.  Clothes that my daughter wore last week are too small for her this week.  She jumped a diaper size too.  You expect that with babies.  It's my son (who just turned 6) that is astounding me.  He's gone up a size too, but it's his appetite that I can't get over.  He used to eat pretty normally for a young boy.  But now I can't seem to fill him up.  For example, we went for subs at Subway last Sunday.  Usually, my boys split a 6 inch pizza sub, a bag of Doritos and a chocolate milk.  Because I knew the oldest was eating more my husband got a foot long sub, thinking we could put any leftovers into the fridge for another day.  Our 3 year old ate his usual bit (1/4 of a foot long).  The incredible growing boy ate the rest.  That's right 3/4 of a foot long, plus a bag of chips and a chocolate milk.  That's more than I eat!  On Tuesday, he 4 slices of pizza!  Usually he eats just one or two.  The phrase we're hearing from him often is, "Can I have seconds please?, you know me, I'm always hungry!".  If he's like this at 6, what is he going to be like when he's a teenager?



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