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Giving Up the Pacifier? Pray for Strength!

I had to laugh when I realized what the topic at JuiceBox Jungle was this week — giving up the pacifier.

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It was almost exactly a year ago that we went through this very battle in our own household and wrote a post on our private family site. I honestly didn’t think we were going to get through this part of childhood, so for your amusement, I’m sharing my angst-ridden post of a year ago to our family:

Pray for us all. Last night we threw away every last pacifier we could find (“foo-foo” in JavaGirl-speak). It’s going to be a hard week. The devil-voice already came out of our sweet girl, demanding, “I WANT FOO-FOO NOW!” while we were at the 4H Fair. It was not a pretty sight. Heads turned as people looked for the growly voice and couldn’t believe it came from the cute pony-tailed girl dressed in pink.

After trying the “only for naps and bedtime” technique and the “snip a little bit off the end each day” technique it became apparent that our daughter is a foo-foo addict. And despite the fact I have straight teeth even thought I was a hard-core thumbsucker, our little girl is not so genetically lucky. So the foo-foos have to go. It’s a hard parenting decision to make. Last night I had a nightmare that we came home from a friend’s house only to find our daughter had stolen all of their younger daughter’s pacifiers. Are we sentencing our daughter to a life of pacifier crime in the name of straight teeth? I’m half afraid that in a few days she’ll start snatching them out of the mouths of poor, unsuspecting infants when we go out in public, like some crazed detoxing drug addict looking for a fix.

And there’s the toe-sucking thing to worry about. JavaGirl is still capable of sticking her big toe in her mouth. Not something to brag about on the playground, let me tell you. Just a couple of weeks ago I found her sitting on the family room sofa, just sucking on her big toe. Oy. Please tell me this is not what she’ll start doing with no foo-foos around.

I’m wracked with parenting guilt. It’s worse than the usual parenting guilt b/c it was such a big thing GETTING her to suck on her pacifier b/c of her suck/swallow and failure to thrive issue — it was actually part of her feeding therapy. So whereas JavaBoy wasn’t really overly dependent on his pacifier and just sort of dropped it on his own so easily that I’m not exactly sure when he did it — I just know he did it somewhere between ages 9 months and 10 months b/c that’s when they disappeared in photos, it was a HUGE thing when JavaGirl could manage to keep hers in her mouth and it provided her great relief from her acid reflux and still provides her a lot of sensory relief so I feel like a horrible mother taking it from her, but then when I look at her gappy smile, I feel like a horrible mother not taking it from her.

I may have to become a thumb-sucker again until this whole pacifier weaning thing is over. I can’t take the stress.

A year later, I can assure you that JavaGirl neither sucks on a foo-foo nor her big toe and she does not lead a life of crime. Her dentist is thrilled with her teeth and I have found many other reasons for feeling like a horrible mother, but do not regret throwing out her pacifiers last year. It was so worth it. The week was hard, yes, but I had forgotten about it until JBJ reminded me! So if you are going through this now, all I can say is — pray for strength! You can — and will — get through it!

Grandparents – An Essential Ingredient In Any Family Mix

Myself (baby), my mother, grandmother and great-grandmother.

Myself (baby), my mother, grandmother and great-grandmother.

They may be called any combination of names — Grams, Gamoo, Nana, Granny, Grandma, Grandmother, Pop-Pop, Grandpa, Granddaddy, Grandfather — the list is endless — but grandparents play a special role in children’s lives.  Sometimes that role can be a bit challenging to the parents, as you can see in the latest video by Juice Box Jungle — which now shows in the ad space in my sidebar on the right — please check it out!

I don’t face the challenges a lot of parents do because my children’s grandparents live far away, so we don’t have a lot of friction about breaking rules, etc.  We’re so thrilled when the grandparents come to visit, that we’re able to deal with some rule-bending.  Our kids are lucky enough to have great-grandmothers in addition to grandparents — something I treasure because I grew up knowing two great-grandmothers and a great-grandfather.

The utter delight my children derive from their relationships with their grandparents thrills me.  Even though my kids are still quite young (5 and 3), they really enjoy talking on the phone (using speaker phone) with them, using Skype, and receiving cards in the mail from them.  Sometimes they will even receive photos in email from them, and they enjoy that.  I’ll tell the kids we are taking pictures to put up on our family blog to show the grandparents, and then they will ham it up for them.  It’s amazing how much easier it is for kids and grandparents to maintain a relationship over a long distance via technology than when I was a kid.

Growing up, my grandparents were another source of information, another viewpoint on the world.  They taught me all kinds of things — ranging from fishing and making stained glass to photography and crocheting to different perspectives on people and the world.  They also gave me a different prism through which to see my own parents — by telling me stories about them as small children and flipping through old photo albums.  It is my hope that my children’s grandparents will be able to be the same for them.   (Although there are some stories they could forget to mention…)

While putting JavaBoy to bed one night, we got into a silly conversation one night, and I can’t even remember how it got started, but basically I said something along the lines of, “And when you have kids, I’ll be their grandma!  And I’ll take them to the circus!”  To which he replied, “Well, only if the parents say you can.”  And I said, “Yep, I’m going to take them to the circus and give them popcorn, and cotton candy, and lemonade and all the candy they want!”  And he looked at me with big eyes and said, “No!  That’s not good for them.  You won’t be a very good grandma if you do that!”  I nearly busted out laughing!  You see, on my very toughest parenting days, I keep telling myself, “I’m doing this so I can have grandchildren.”  I very much look forward to being a grandparent and doing all the fun stuff and worrying less about the hardest parts of parenting — doing all the GRAND stuff without having to also be responsible for all the day-to-day upbringing.  But for now, I’m glad my kids have a wonderful mixture of so many grandparents and great-grandparents in their life — ones who truly treasure them because I’ve heard so many horror stories of grandparents who don’t and I just can’t understand it.  Because just as grandkids need grandparents, I think grandparents need grandkids, to help them remember what makes this world so exciting and wonderful — there’s nothing like looking at the world again through a child’s eyes.

Yep, one day, I’m gonna have grandkids and I’m gonna give them cotton candy and lemonade and drop them back off and let JavaBoy and JavaGirl get those kids to go to sleep!  One day…

Mommy Competition – Proud Mom or Brag Hag?

Leave it to the ladies at JuiceBoxJungle to hit on a secret fear of mine…

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… am I just another proud parent, or have I become <shudder> a “brag hag”?

Motherhood is not for wimps — and not just because of all of the bodily functions and yelling involved.  There are a lot of women out there who have mistaken it for some sort of reality show with a battle to the death for some imaginary Mother of the Year Award and somehow think that there is only one way to parent.

My personal philosophy is that each child is different, each mother is different, and that we’re all in this together — 18 years from birth we all hope to reach the “finish line” of having raised a generation of decent human beings who are well-educated, hard-working, moral, good-natured, productive members of society.  And that the parents are still reasonably sane.  If we’ve managed to have achieved that as a collective group, we’ve all succeeded.  At times we’re going to have to help each other out — it takes a village.  So I don’t see little Johnny’s successes as in any way taking away from JavaBoy’s successes or JavaGirl’s successes and vice versa.  But that’s not the way all parents see it.  Some believe that there is only room at the top for one family — theirs.

So should mothers be fitted with a no-bragging muzzle at the maternity ward?  No, certainly not!  Hearing about other children’s achievements is helpful — I’ve learned so much over the past 5 years by hearing what other children are able to do.  It’s been a developmental yardstick by which I can gauge my parenting and my children’s progress, with the huge caveat that I don’t let it overrule my own mommy instinct.  Sometimes hearing about what another family is doing helps me think, “wow, I never would have thought about trying that yet, maybe we can!”  If I hadn’t belonged to a new mothers group right after JavaBoy was born, I suspect I wouldn’t have taken him on nearly as many field trips so young, had him in a pool before his first birthday or taken him out to lunch (where he learned how to behave in public so well) so frequently.  I don’t feel the need to keep up with the Joneses, but anytime someone “brags” it does make me pause and think about what they’ve said — and I can decide whether it sounds true, whether it sounds achievable, and whether it sounds appropriate for my family or not.   I’m a much more confident mother as a result of learning from other mothers.  Sometimes I need a little prodding to know when my kid is ready to go to the next level on something, i.e. start riding a bike (I didn’t learn until 5th grade!), so when I hear that my son’s peers are doing it now, I say, “oh, okay, now is the time to start working on that!”

As for the need to brag itself, I try to see where it is coming from — if it is coming from true joy and pride in the child, I smile to myself.  Moms have a rough time while children are young, they are called “bragging rights” for a reason!  If the brag is meant as a put down or a way to one-up, then I find it tiresome.  If it is because the mother needs to brag as some form of validation or way to get attention, I count my blessings that I have my own achievements to fulfill those needs.

But every time I catch myself saying something about my kids, I cringe a little on the inside because I AM just so darned proud of them, how can it not sound like bragging?  Those in my closest circle know I also complain about them on those rougher days, but I try to keep that to a minimum.  And really, would it be such a bad place if all children felt like their parents were proud of them?

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Losing Your Cool Can Be a Positive Parenting Experience

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Three-quarters of the Java Family are quite passionate when expressing their opinions and emotions — and those happen to be the three who are together most of the day. So there are many opportunities for tempers to flare, usually between the siblings, but sometimes the inevitable bickering or poutiness causes me to lose my good humor as well.

Although I try to keep things in perspective and remember who the adult is around here (ME! Right? Just checking…), sometimes, even I am prone to my own temper tantrum. It may be a quick one-sentence of yelling. Or it may be an all-out grumpy day. I’m not proud of it, but I’ll own up to it.

But here is the key thing: all does not have to be lost. It is what you do AFTER you yell that really makes a difference.

My parents grew up in the generation when parents were the Supreme Rulers of the Earth and the concept of apologizing to a child was non-existent. They meant well, and they did lots of other things wonderfully well, but apologizing was not something they did. It wasn’t until I read Stephen Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Families
that I realized just how important it is for parents to apologize to children.

First, it demonstrates that we are human — this is important not only to reveal our imperfections, but so that children will eventually realize that we also have feelings — in other words, as long as we keep ourselves up on a pedestal we can’t also blame our children for not treating us like humans. Second, it models good behavior for them in all their relationships — that when one makes a mistake, one should apologize. And finally, it re-establishes the relationship — it’s a touch point to say, “I still love you.”

I actually apologized to my son before he could even speak, but the first time I remember apologizing to my son when he could respond, I remember him saying how it hurt his feelings when he yelled. And I explained how it upset me when he acted a certain way, and that while yelling wasn’t the right way for me to respond, that his actions upset me. And then I explained that no matter what, I loved him, and that seemed to make him feel relieved because he let out a huge sigh and hugged me tightly. When we’re having a rough day and he’s not listening and I’m tired of repeating myself, all I have to do is say, “Please don’t make me turn into a yelling mommy” and he’ll straighten right up. He is able to see how our actions impact each other.

I have found this method of apologizing works with my daughter as well. She gets particularly upset when I show any displeasure with her, so she needs lots of reassuring, and knowing that Mommy is sorry helps.

Of course, the best thing is to avoid getting so worked up in the first place.

We use the 1-2-3 Magic: Effective Discipline for Children 2-12 (123 Magic)
technique in our house and that has definitely cut down on tantrums (from the kids) in our household. Finding the right way to communicate about your expectations and the consequences about those expectations — whatever that method is — is key. Then employing some of the same techniques you teach your children for dealing with their frustrations — count it out, walk away from the situation, take a deep breath and talk it through — it may be a different technique for each situation. I remember putting MYSELF on a time-out because I knew I was getting too crabby — I just put the TV on PBS, got the kids settled, and went into another room for a few minutes so I could pull myself together and get into a better frame of mind.

And when I’ve had one of those days where I’ve really just blown it, I do exactly what they said in the video — I settle down to watch an episode of Supernanny or Nanny 911 and then I feel much, much better. Of course I’m not sure what THOSE parents do to feel better…

JuiceBoxJungle — the New 300-Pound Gorilla?

Is JuiceBoxJungle.com social media’s new “It Girl”?

BlogHer’s Elana Centor is making waves with her article, “Can Juicebox Jungle Succeed Where Twitter and Facebook Have Failed? Monetizing Social Media.” (Read the article.)

In the same week, Entertainment Weekly referred to JuiceBoxJungle as where “the Carrie Bradshaws of the world go when they start breeding.” (Read article.)

The site debuted its first video February 11 and is already raising eyebrows — both for its business model — and on Yahoo’s Shine, for it’s counter-to-other-media stance on parenting topics such as TV time for kids (read blog posting).

How It Works

JuiceBoxJungle (JBJ) produces weekly online video clips about parenting topics, and then invites bloggers to write about these topics and embed the clips into their posts. These posts are then brought back to the JBJ site, where JBJ visitors can read them and rank them. The relationship between JBJ and the blogger is win-win:

  • JBJ provides “starter topic” content
  • Bloggers then provide follow-up content to flesh out the topic and keep the conversation going
  • JBJ provides a way to drive more traffic to the blog sites by publishing the blog posts — JBJ visitors discover new bloggers they may become loyal to
  • The blogs also drive traffic to the JBJ site
  • The media player the JBJ video plays in can be coded to include the Amazon affiliate code — which either uses the JBJ Amazon code or the individual blogger’s code — for example, in my post last week, it uses the caffeineandaprayer.com code — should anyone choose to shop at Amazon.com for parenting books directly from the player, this site would get a tiny percentage
  • What I Like About It

    I tried JBJ out for the first time last week.  Having been in the television news business, I found the idea intriguing, and wanted to see how this push-pull model would work.  From just one post, I did indeed receive some additional traffic to my site.  Am I “monetizing” (the hot buzzword in the blogging world!) my site yet?  No, not really, not yet.  But this may be a step in the right direction.

    Just as there have always been content providers for drop-in articles for newsletters or radio shows, content providers for web sites are a smart idea.  This is an even smarter idea — a way to get a conversation going, and then to help drive traffic, and even to help make use of “monetizing” programs you may already have.  I’ve had my Amazon affiliate status for a while and haven’t even put up anything because I frankly didn’t know what to do with it — last week was my first experiment with it because it gave me my first relevant opportunity to do something with the code.

    As to Elana Centor’s original question — I would say that Facebook, Twitter, and sites like JBJ each have their place and are different tools used in different ways.  At the moment, Facebook is one of my top referral sites for this blog — not a surprise since I “share” each posting with my network on Facebook.   I don’t tweet much (although I have finally given my JavaMom persona her own Twitter account – caffandaprayer), but one of the fascinating uses of Twitter in business is how companies are using it for customer support.  (See Network World’s Tweet to Compete.)  I have signed up to be a JBJ VIP and you will probably see more JBJ videos on this site.  I like what I have seen of their videos so far — smartly produced, humorous, and down-to-earth, and I think you will, too.  I think we can start some interesting discussions based off some of the topics.  

    Social media, social networking, Web 2.0 — whatever you call it — it’s going through some interesting changes and I, for one, and thrilled to be a part of it!  While working in Silicon Valley in the ’90s, I saw many giants rise and fall, so I expect the same this time around as well.  I won’t even dare to predict who will come out to be the next champion — but I will say that JuiceBoxJungle is one to watch!