Parents of Multiples group forms

Ever feel like all the baby-care hacks are geared toward one baby at a time?

You’re not alone and to help families with multiples (i.e. twins, triplets) a new group has formed.

Missoula Parents of Multiples was formed by Emma Hunter and Cerisse Allen – both parents of twins and certified lactation consultants.

The group meets the first Thursday of each month from 2 to 4 p.m. at the Missoula Public Library. (Although Hunter said they are open to meeting at a different time if it will be easier for families to attend.) The gathering is a judgement-free zone for families to share experiences and support each other, Hunter said.

“I feel like you don’t realize until you have more than one baby what a large part of all of our available parenting advice is specifically geared toward one mom and one baby,” she said.

“It’s nice to be able to chat with people who have made it through the first year of two or what have you to be able to bounce ideas off of,” she said.

Especially when children are younger, it can be reassuring to see other moms and families handling the demands of multiples and still managing to enjoy them, she said, adding she and Allen became friends after bumping into each other when walking their children and then again through mutual friends.

Basic needs are the same for all babies, Hunter said.

“It’s just more relentless,” she said about caring for multiples.

“It’s just keeping up without really getting much of a break very often,” she added.

Being pregnant with and giving birth to multiples also presents challenges and moms can’t legally have a home or birth center birth experience. Cesarean sections also are more common and it’s not unusual to spend active labor in the operating room just in case, Hunter said.

Sometimes, moms have a vaginal delivery for the first baby and a c-section for the second, which means they recover from both types of delivery after, she said.

Neonatal intensive care unit stays also are more prevalent for multiples, she said.

“It seems like something most of the moms don’t really get an opportunity to talk about much but then given the opportunity they were eager to,” Hunter said about the first group meeting earlier this month.

“It seems like the desire to be kind of proactive and provide support in turn to someone going through a similar difficult situation is definitely there,” she added.

For more information, or to make suggestions about what meeting time would be best, find Missoula Parents of Multiples on Facebook.

 

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Mountain Home Montana celebrates 15 years

Since Mountain Home Montana began helping young mothers get off the streets and learn parenting and life skills, the organization has grown to include apartments and mental health services. Each year 45 families are helped through the program, and there’s a much longer waiting list.

Here’s more about the organization from their webpage:

We are a nonprofit in Missoula where young mothers between the ages 16-24 who are pregnant and/or parenting may access housing, supportive services, and mental health services.  We help these vulnerable young families with their basic needs, including safety, shelter, food, educational and employment opportunities, and access to mental health therapy and medical care.  Our organization utilizes best practices to provide individualized support and case management that teach our moms the parenting and life skills necessary for independent living!

Mountain Home Montana’s mission is to provide a safe, loving home where young mothers can discover their strengths and their children can experience the joys of childhood.

Community members have been invited to help Mountain Home celebrate their successes today from noon to 6:30 p.m. at 2606 South Ave. W. If you haven’t seen how the program has grown since it began as a three bedroom residence, now’s a good time.

If you can’t make it to the open house, you can learn more about what they do to help young families by attending a screening of “Gimme Shelter” at the Crystal Theater later this month.

The film screening is a fundraiser and will be followed by a panel discussion featuring Mountain Home workers and former clients. More here.

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Parenting fails

What are these? Jared asked this morning as he picked up a pile of flashcards.

I had pulled them out for a little light reading with Baby Girl and left them on the chair.

Jared, being a teacher and all, used some of the parent prompts on the back of the cards, which included how to say the object’s name in five languages.

Buh – nah – nuh, Jared sounded out.

Oh, that’s the English, he said, setting off peels of laughter from both of us.

Lately I’ve been feeling a little too serious about parenting and worrying that we’re not doing enough to promote Baby Girl’s development. This morning was a good reminder that we’re all just doing the best we can and sometimes it’s OK for our best to be flawed.

Laugh. Move on. Repeat.

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Have your ice cream for breakfast and Super Bowl too

The Children’s Museum Missoula is hosting its fifth annual Ice Cream for Breakfast this Sunday, Feb. 1., and don’t worry, there’s plenty of time to eat ice cream AND catch the Super Bowl kick-off. If you’re into that sort of thing.

Ice cream will be served from 9 a.m. t0 11 a.m. at the Wilma Theatre downtown. There will be a complete ice cream buffet, including waffles and bacon. There will also be Mismo Gymnastics on hand to offer tumbling and Childbloom Guitar music provided. For quieter morning types, a family-friendly movie will be playing in the small theater.

While the children’s museum is always happy to accept donations, this event is 100 percent free and open to all families, thanks to the sponsorship of these fine local businesses: The Wilma Theatre, ZillaState, Mismo Gymnastics, Childbloom Guitar, Zoo City Apparel, Black Coffee Roasting Company, Scotty’s Table, Posh Chocolat and Big Dipper Ice Cream.

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Balancing act

Babbling baby has become the soundtrack of my sanity these past few weeks (and no, I’m not a glutten for punishment).

Deciding to come back to work was agonizing. Thankfully I have a supportive boss and have been able to work out a schedule that allows me to be both a reporter and a mom. A chunk of my day is spent in the office and then I can fill in with extra hours making calls or writing from my kitchen table.

I worried I would feel like I wasn’t doing either job well and that I would be constantly distracted by the one while doing the other.

But having Baby Girl spend at least half of her day with me instead of at daycare means I don’t feel like I’m abandoning her.

The downside is that sometimes she gets vocal when I’m trying to have a conversation with someone on the phone – like yesterday when she sang away during two separate interviews.

I gave her a card and that entertained her for awhile as she tried to stretch it and eat it and had a lengthy conversation with it (I imagine she said things like: “Get in my mouth” and “Boy, you taste good”).

babycard

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But the novelty quickly disappeared and she became frustrated (the card must have said “No, I will not get in your mouth”). Her cooing turned into the sounds that signal an impending major crying fit, which would have drowned out the voice of the person I was trying to interview.

Balancing her in my lap while I used my shoulder to hold my phone to my ear and typed notes wasn’t the most graceful thing I’ve ever done, but it got the job(s) finished. Neither person on the other end of the line minded Baby Girl’s noise either, or at least they said they didn’t. And I’m feeling accomplished for writing two stories and having time to read to Baby Girl in between interviews.

The other downside is that she likes to eat things, and by things I mean everything, including notes and my laptop screen. At least I know I have a smile built into my day ‘cause she sure is cute when she does it.

babycomputer

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Changing tables … and laps and tailgates

This. Is. Beautiful.

IMG_3140

 

Baby Girl wasn’t with me on this particular outing, but she’s been with me many times when there was not such a nice option.

Sometimes, even if a changing table is available, it’s so dirty or rickety that we opt not to use it anyway. Often, Jared’s or my legs are the changing table and she’s had her diaper changed in a middle school hallway, on a ski lodge table, on toilets, on gym bleachers, in dressing rooms, in between sinks on wide counters, on top of a cooler, on the car hood, on the tailgate, and on old faithful — the back of the car.

So when I saw this I did a happy dance.

I may or may not have poked my nose in the men’s room, but suffice it to say that they have a similar version.

Other public places take note: men’s restrooms should have changing tables too. Let’s reward them for being involved by making it a little easier on them!

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Heartbreaking work

 

Welcome back to work! How are you doing? my coworkers asked.

I tried to put on a brave face, but I still cried.

Brokenhearted is how I had described how I felt about going back to work to Jared.

While working as a reporter fulfills me, motherhood is me.

But if I stay home, I give up an enjoyable career I spent years building, and once Baby Girl goes to school I won’t be content at home. In the meantime I won’t be contributing to the household income. I already took four-and-a-half months off for maternity leave.

But am I being selfish by not taking the chance that I would find a similar job later? Am I shortchanging Baby Girl at a time when she needs me most?

Just as much as I want to be with her, though, I want to show her how she can do anything and the value of meaningful work. I want her to shape the world and not be hindered by guilt for having priorities in addition to having a family.

I won’t lie to her, though. Having priorities in addition to the priority of family is gut wrenching.

I’m filled with grief for the once-in-a-lifetime moments I likely won’t experience and I’m jealous that Baby Girl will look to someone else to soothe her discomforts and for guidance.

My heart seizes in my chest every time I leave for work and I blink away tears caused by uncertainty about my decision and just plain missing her.

I’ll try to focus on the positives, like a supportive husband, a flexible workplace, coworkers who also are friends, a job about which I am passionate, and knowing that my sister-in-law loves Baby Girl and is happy to spend the day with her.

And I’ll hope fervently that those are enough to stop my heart from breaking anymore.

 

 

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16 MT communities to share $10M in preschool grants

It seems like only yesterday I was driving around Missoula with a printout in my hand of preschool providers accepting new children. My daughter’s daycare provider had experienced a sudden health emergency that left her unable to care for children anymore. I was looking for the best preschool in Missoula I could afford, and pronto.

The printout came from Child Care Resources, and helped whittle down my search to less than a handful of possibilities. In some communities, however, there are only a handful of preschool providers – or fewer.

So parents and providers in these places are sure to rejoice at this news, relayed by email this week:

Montana Awarded $10 Million to Expand Access

to High-Quality Early Childhood Education

in High Needs Communities

HELENA – Today, Governor Steve Bullock and Superintendent Denise Juneau announced that Montana has been awarded a $10 million-a-year federal Preschool Development grant from the U.S. Department of Education to increase capacity and expand access to high-quality early childhood education in sixteen high needs communities throughout the state. The grant provides support for school districts in these communities to improve professional and program development, including scholarships for early childhood educators, building Montana’s early childhood workforce to ensure they’re able to meet the accreditation and licensure standards recently approved by the Montana Board of Public Education. Additionally, grant funds will be used to expand access to publicly funded, high-quality early childhood educational programs in these communities. This competitive grant can be renewed for up to four years, for a maximum of $40 million awarded. More than 6,000 four-year-olds are expected to be served over a four-year period. A total of 18 states received preschool development grants.

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Thankful for free rides on the carousel

Earlier this week Theresa Cox, executive director of A Carousel for Missoula, sent out this short, sweet note:
Thanks for helping us let others know they can ride the Carousel for free on Thanksgiving. (Cooks will be especially grateful if we get all their guests out of the house while they work!)

A Carousel for Missoula is again offering FREE RIDES for all on Thanksgiving, from 11am to 3pm, thanks to our volunteer operators. What a great way to celebrate the day while dinner is cooking!

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MT hands out $55K for school breakfasts

Here’s today’s new news from the Governor of Montana’s office:

Governor, First Lady Announce $55,000 in Grants for School Breakfast Programs

HELENA – Today, as a part of their Montana Breakfast After the Bell initiative, Governor Steve Bullock and First Lady Lisa Bullock awarded $55,000 in grants to schools implementing new school breakfast programs or transitioning to models that increase participation. The grants were made possible with support from Share Our Strength, Blue Cross Blue Shield, and Neptune Aviation.

“Childhood hunger is an important, but solvable issue in Montana,” Governor Bullock said. “Through these grants we’re removing an obstacle that many schools face to providing nutritious breakfast to their students. Montanans can be proud to know that progress is being made to ensure children don’t face the school day with an empty stomach.”

The Bullocks launched the Montana Breakfast after the Bell initiative to increase participation in school breakfast and make it a part of the school day by serving it after the school day begins. The initiative aims to ensure that all kids can have a healthy start to the day by helping schools adopt proven breakfast models that increase participation, such as breakfast in the classroom and grab n’ go breakfasts. One of the most effective ways to significantly boost school breakfast participation is to make it part of the school day.

On average, school breakfast participation rises to more than 70 percent when schools implement a Breakfast after the Bell model versus 30 percent with a traditional model that serves breakfast in the cafeteria before school starts.

Kids who start their school day with breakfast score higher on math tests, attend more days of school, and are more likely to graduate high school.

The schools that received grants in the first grant cycle are:

  • Lockwood Middle & Intermediate Schools – $5,360
  • Hardin School District – $11,814
  • Fairview School – $4,200
  • Power School – $1,500
  • Rocky Boy School – $5,000
  • W F Morrison School – $3,000
  • Sunburst High School  – $1,500
  • Superior School – $5,000
  • Loy Elementary – $5,000
  • Lincoln Elementary – $5,000
  • Arlee Elementary School – $750
  • Arlee Junior High School – $750
  • Arlee High School – $750
  • Park City School $3,900
  • Valley View Elementary – $1150

“Montana students deserve every opportunity to succeed and reach their full potential. Unfortunately, hunger and poor nutrition are providing additional challenges to many students in the state,” First Lady Lisa Bullock said. “Students in these schools will now have access to a nutritious breakfast that will prepare them to excel throughout the school day.”

Of the 859 schools across Montana, there are 51 districts and 87 schools serving breakfast after the bell.  Thirty-two of these schools started or plan to start serving a breakfast after the bell model this school year.

Research continues to show that children who eat a balanced breakfast are more likely to develop healthy eating habits, visit the school nurse less frequently, and maintain a healthy weight.  Despite the many benefits of breakfast, many students come to school too hungry to learn. In a recent survey of educators, three out of four teachers and principals say they see kids who regularly come to school hungry.

Schools interested in starting a new breakfast program and/or making breakfast part of the school day can contact the Montana No Kid Hungry School Breakfast Coordinator, Rosie Cody at RCody@mt.gov or by phone at 444-3925.

Montana No Kid Hungry continues to accept grant applications on a rolling basis with hopes of announcing the second round of grants in March 2015.  Schools can apply by visiting this link: grants.nokidhungry.org and the access code is MTBREAKFAST2014 (case-sensitive).

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