Lilypie Kids Birthday tickers

November 29, 2010

Proud to Be in Such Good Company!

Inspired by a couple of my mommy friends, I started blogging less than a year ago. I knew I would enjoy the opportunity to document the girls’ comings and goings in an online format, and that surely has been the case. What I didn’t know to expect was the awesome community of moms (and a handful of dads) that I’d meet.

In just ten short months, I’ve connected with so many amazing people…people who share ideas and information, support each other, and – at least in my case – help keep each other sane in this sometimes-crazy world of kid-raising.

The Multiples and More blog network just announced the nominations for their second annual Blog Awards. I’ve been smiling all day at having been nominated in the Best Writing category! And I’ve been smiling just as big to be in such fantastic company as the other nominees, several of whom I consider friends, and are on my “Must Read” list…

Sadia, of Double the Fun
Christina, of Our Life with Multiples
Missy, of Two Little Monkeys
Quadmama, of Buried in Laundry
Megan, of Twinsomnia
Helene, of I’m Living Proof that God Has a Sense of Humor

If you don’t know these ladies, I’d encourage you to stop by and check them out…my girls and I give them a collective six thumbs up!

And if you’re so inclined, voting on the Multiples and More site is open until December 5th. Win, lose, or draw, and at the risk of sounding like a sappy Academy Award nominee without a speech writer, it’s truly an honor to have been nominated. :)

Out of Order!

Despite the mess that is my pantry, I am an orderly person. And I like to follow the rules. Give me an algebraic equation, a recipe, or a 20-page instruction manual, and I’m golden.

I discovered early on that kiddos don’t come with instruction manuals, but I try to make up for that when I can...

When the girls first started eating baby food, the pediatrician told me to begin with vegetables. After a couple of months, he told me to also feed them a fruit, but always after they’d eaten their veggies. When I began feeding them meat, I followed the same logic, offering it first, followed by a vegetable, and then a fruit.

Process and procedure. I’m all about it.

At 22 months old, our girls haven’t eaten baby food in many, many months. But out of habit, or fear of messing with a good thing, or even perhaps because my pediatrician hasn’t told me otherwise (kidding! [kind of…]), I continue to follow the same order of operations.

At supper, for example, the girls might eat roasted chicken. Then they might have sweet potatoes. And then they might follow it up with fresh strawberries and blueberries.

Most of the time the girls eat what I give them, give or take a bite or two. When they don’t, though, I try to remain calm. Maybe they’re just not in the mood for sweet potatoes. Maybe they saw so much orange over Halloween and Thanksgiving they are experiencing a mental block.

In such a situation, I silently take a deep breath and casually offer them the strawberries…before they've finished their veggies!...careful not to let on that they’re Messing With My Head!

You know what the crazy thing is, though? It’s not unusual these past few weeks for them to polish off their fruit…and THEN ask for their vegetable!!!

I think maybe they know fruit is at the end of the line – and they LOVE fruit – and they just can’t wait. But then they realize they’re still a bit hungry, and they know sweet potatoes are their option.

Whatever the case, I’m learning to deal with things being “out of order”. By that point I’m [silently] thrilled that they are going to eat some veggies, so I’d almost be willing to let them stand on their heads and eat.

…just please don’t tell the pediatrician that I’m breaking the rules.

November 28, 2010

Fab 10 Sunday

(…like Fab 5 Friday, but a couple of days late…)

This week just flew by! We made the arduous trek to Sweet Home Alabama for the Thanksgiving holiday. Three turkey dinners in three cities in 24 hours was a bit of a marathon, but we made some awesome memories. And of course there were plenty of fabulous moments scattered throughout!

1) I would guess that the girls have an 80% accuracy in identifying their colors. I was so surprised when I asked Baby B what color a particular toy was, expecting she would say “blue”. She more specifically told me it was turkis” (turquoise)! We have a handful of toys that color, which I’ve named for the girls, but I had no idea they were paying that kind of attention!

2) I love listening to the girls’ “stream of consciousness”-type conversations over the monitor when they wake up. And I never know what kind of greeting I’m going to get when I walk in their room. It’s usually some random observation about what I’m wearing, like, “Mommy…purple socks!

3) The girls have learned to say their full names (first and last). They’ll answer correctly for themselves, but when asked about each other, they say, “Sissy [Last Name]”. And I am “Mommy [Last Name]”, of course.

4) I worked with the girls to say, Happy Turkey Day! They were quite happy to extend those wishes to our family this week…so precious in their little baby voices!

5) The girls experienced so many new foods this week. I’m not thrilled that Baby A seems to have struck up a love affair with yeast rolls, but I’ve gotta admit that the girl has good taste!

6) After the many indulgences over the Thanksgiving holiday, I was a little worried that the girls wouldn’t want Mommy’s healthy fruits and veggies when we got back home. I was so thankful to see their little eyes light up when I served them steamed zucchini.

7) When we got home from our road trip, the girls made a beeline for their toys. They both grabbed their baby dolls and smothered them in hugs. Unprompted, Baby A said, Miss you, Baby!

8) Anytime during our trip we got in the car, Baby B would ask, Home to Sasha? Two minutes? It was a little pitiful, but so cute and funny that she seemed so ready to get home to the kitty cat.

9) Saturday was quite chilly, but I was really itching to get the girls out for a stroller ride. I bundled them up tight in fuzzy pink jackets, zipped up their bright pink stroller blankets, and put on pink fleece mittens for the first time this season. I almost tripped several times, as I couldn’t take my eyes off the girls. They were too cute in varying shades of pink…and it was heeee-larious to see them holding their mitten-donned hands in front of their faces like foreign objects.

10) Seeing the girls enjoying my family…and seeing my family enjoying my girls…priceless.

November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving, per A & B

Our girls aren’t quite old enough to make a craft display of things for which they’re thankful…but if they could enumerate, I have a pretty good idea of what they might say…

1) Mommy and Daddy…for endless hugs, kisses, tickles, and cuddles.

2) Sasha the Kitty Cat…for being the sweetest furry sister ever, and for giving us a great example after which to model our “meow!”

3) The telephone…so we can talk to Aunt GG and Granddaddy.

4) Our friends…we talk about “Kate and Spencer” and “Mattie and Ava” all the time!

5) Our comfy blankies…for keeping us warm and signaling when it’s time for bed.

6) Our baby dolls…who wait for us dutifully to give them hugs and kisses, and don’t mind being carried around in our red bucket.

7) Our favorite songs…we love to dance and sing!

8) Books…we love when Mommy reads to us, and we like to “read” to ourselves and each other, too.

9) Our favorite foods…blueberries, pineapple, zucchini, avocado, oatmeal (or “eamoat”, as we call it), and French toast on Sunday mornings…just to name a few.

10) Each other.

We are so blessed!!!

November 24, 2010

Jumping on the Bandwagon

After seeing a few of my blogger friends tout the virtues of the online photo service Shutterfly, I decided to jump on the touting bandwagon.

We are definitely a Shutterfly family, and have been for many years. My friends at Shutterfly have witnessed everything from the addition of our two sweet furry babies to our family in 2000, to the addition of our two sweet non-furry babies (i.e. Baby A and Baby B) in 2009.

Since the girls were born, my relationship with Shutterfly has deepened considerably. Not only do I print all my photos through Shutterfly, but I use several of their services, too.

Admittedly, I’m a bit of a nut when it comes to capturing the girls’ every move…their every outfit…their every adventure.

On average, I probably take 250 or so photos a month. I try to narrow that down to 100 that I print. (You should see the stacks of photo storage boxes I have, and the girls are only 22 months old!) I have most of the prints delivered to me, but I also send prints directly to three family members each month.

Before I found The Wonderful World of Blogging, I started a photo share site through Shutterfly. Although this blog is the best place for real-time updates on A and B, I still update my photo site once a month. It provides a great pictorial history.

I also compile my pictures into photo books. I have one for every three months…and I did a special book to mark the girls’ first birthday and party.

I have ordered a number of greeting cards (birthday cards, Father’s Day, etc.) from Shutterfly. I think that’s much better than your standard card-store greeting…and as Shutterfly will send it directly to the recipient, it has saved this baby-juggling mama a few trips to the post office.

I have ordered several photo gifts, including calendars, magnets, and mouse pads.

And of course I’ve ordered a number of photo cards from Shutterfly. I first sent a Valentine’s Day greeting when the girls were about six weeks old. I followed that up with a Happy Summer card a few months later. (I might just have been looking for reasons to send pictures of our girls to 50 or so of our closest friends!)

I ordered my holiday photo cards from Shutterfly last year, and I intend to do so again this year…as soon as I have our holiday photos made, that is (gulp!). Shutterfly has a great selection of holiday cards to choose from, they produce a high-quality product at a very competitive price, and their customer service is truly first class.

I am writing this blog post for a promotion, through which Shutterfly will give me 50 free holiday cards. To borrow a line from my bloggy friend Reanbean, I swear to you that everything written here is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. I really do think Shutterfly rocks. :)

November 23, 2010

A Bit About Me, November Edition

My birthday is February 23. On the 23rd of each month, I've taken to posting a couple of random bits of information about me. So for the month of November, here 'goes...

7) (In honor of the holiday season that is now upon us…) I can bake a mean cookie. When I was growing up, I worked weekends and summers in a little bakery that was owned by friends of our family. I waitressed during lunch, and I was known far and wide (relative to our tiny town) for my cookie making abilities. The work was hot and the hours were sometimes long, but I learned a lot about the value of a dollar. I also think it helped me learn to respect people from all walks of life. And I learned some basic cake-decorating skills, so I’m gonna be one mean mama when it comes to bake sales in a few years.

8) I’m not a movie person. When I was in high school, and through part of college, I went to the movies a lot…date night! And I would hate to know, in today’s dollars, what I spent on VHS rentals over the course of my growing up. Over the past 10 years, though, I’ve probably watched fewer than 10 movies. I think it’s a commitment issue. I have no problem vegetating in front of the TV to watch a 3 ½-hour ballgame (after the girlies are in bed, of course), but to plan to sit down and be attentive for two hours? Can’t do it. I know I’ll need to figure this one out if my visions of family movie night are to come to fruition in the next couple of years!

To check out past randomness...

November 22, 2010

Feedback Loop

When I graduated college and started by first job, I remember struggling with the lack of formalized feedback. Sure, I’d get the occasional pat on the back from my boss, but gone was the predictability of at least having a midterm exam by which to gauge my performance.

I eventually learned to find satisfaction in knowing I’d done a job well; getting a yearly performance review was just a nice little bonus.

That experience came back to me recently as I thought about my ever-evolving interaction with the girls.

Since we brought the girls home from the hospital, I have been reading to them, sometimes to the point of running my throat sore over the course of a day. We’ve been singing, and dancing, and counting the stairs as we traipsed up and down.

For a very long time, there was little direct feedback. Of course my heart melted with each cuddle and smile. I was so very proud when the girls rolled over, and when they started sleeping through the night, I knew I must be doing something right.

I remember very clearly the first time one of the girls responded to some of my random commentary. Baby A was walking around the den, holding her nightgown. I said, “Put the gown on your head,” and she did! I chuckle now, wishing that first light bulb moment were a little more academic. But I don’t think I’ll ever forget how proud I was when she put that gown on her head and laughed at Mommy’s silly request.

Since then, the feedback loop has become much more continuous. It’s just amazing to sit back and watch and listen at what the girls do and say.

They’re all about pretend play right now, and it’s amazing how resourceful they are in cooking up the wildest scenarios. They’ll sit on top of their little kitchen and say, “Riding bicycle!” And they serve all manner of food and drinks to each other, to us, even to pictures in books.

The girls are also incredibly observant. From their stroller on our walk yesterday morning, one of them exclaimed, “Puppy doggy…sit down…leaves!” Sure enough, there was a dog sitting in a yard, amid a thick carpet of leaves. I hadn’t even noticed him until they said something.

I know that the girls’ vocabulary is growing exponentially right now, and I know that they won’t always have new skills to show at the end of every single day…so for now I’m just enjoying this two-way dialogue.

And in my book, seeing the girls learn new things is much more rewarding than even an A+ report card!

November 20, 2010

Cultivating a Shoe Fettish

Until they were 15 months old, our girls never wore shoes.

I’m from the deep south, and it’s not that I was trying to play into some kind of stereotype. No, I figured that they didn’t need shoes until they were walking…and then, when they started walking (in December / January), they weren’t walking outside since it was still cold.

I felt like my logic was perfectly sound. But I did get the occasional raised eyebrow and question, “Umm, why don’t your girls ever have on shoes in any of their pictures?” from some (well-meaning?) and family members.

I finally bit the bullet in April, when the girls were just over 15 months old. The girls became the proud owners of their first pair of tennis shoes.

I decided the experience wasn’t so terrifying, and I went on to buy the girls a pair of sandals, and later, a pair of water shoes.

I found there was something rather gratifying about them being able to walk outside.

This fall, about six months into their entry into the World of Shoes, I figured it was probably time for a new pair of tennis shoes. We purchased a pair very similar to their first, in a larger size.

Feeling comfortable once again, I bought the girls the.cutest.pair. of moccasins for them to wear on walks (in their stroller).

And then I fell in love with the.cutest.pair. of boots.

And then I decided a couple of days ago that the girls needed some black mary janes to wear with their holiday dress (pictures to come).

It’s only taken two years, but I am finally warming up to this shoe thing.

November 19, 2010

Fab 5 Friday

(KNOCK ON WOOD as I type this…) the girls have napped well, eaten well, and played well this week…and that makes this mama feel so good! I’m very thankful for another fabulous week!

1) The girls are getting pretty accurate with naming their colors. Over the last week, Baby B has started pointing to things, saying, “Color!” which I figured out means she wants to be asked what color something is. (And she only does that when she knows the right answer!)

2) I stepped a few feet away from the girls’ highchairs to fix their cups of milk. Baby B finished her fruit before her sister. I observed Baby A give Baby B a piece of banana, and Baby B said, “Thank you!” of her own accord.

3) Baby A can count to 10! I count aloud all the time…steps, cups, blocks, books, cars. I knew the girls could fill in the blanks when I paused, but Baby A has started reciting her numbers unprompted, seemingly talking to herself. So cool!

4) I introduced the girls to red kidney beans last Friday, and they’re hooked. They have asked for them at least once a day, every day since!

5) The girls have been talking about a number of songs from the children’s CD we’re listening to this week. The funniest is when they volunteer (at some pretty odd times, at least to me), “Found a peanut!

(And on a non-baby-related note, Hubby and I stole away after the girls were in bed on Friday night [safe in the keeping of a trusty “house sitter”] to eat at our favorite sushi restaurant. Due to a number of factors, we hadn’t been out to dinner in about three months. It tasted soooo good!!!)

November 18, 2010

Communication Games

The girls’ first form of higher communication was baby sign language, beginning around 10 months old.

I thought it was simply amazing that they were “telling” me something…and I was able to understand! It seemed like a complex game of charades at times, but we were able to engage in some pretty cool conversations.

And then, along about 15 months, the girls began to say actual words.

They would blurt out things like “Baby!” and “Ball!” sometimes seemingly at random. That felt more like a game of I Spy or Hot and Cold. It might take me a few minutes to figure out if they wanted to play with a ball, if they remembered a ball that Mommy needed to rescue from under the sofa, or if they spied a watermelon (which they at first called a “ball”).

Eventually the girls moved onto two-word phrases, and now they’re stringing several words together.

Just yesterday morning, I sat in the chair where my hubby normally sits. Baby B, slightly alarmed, exclaimed, “Mommy sit down…Daddy chair!” In the absence of most prepositions and conjunctions, I think we may have progressed to playing connect the dots.

I know I’ll blink my eyes and the girls will be speaking in complete sentences, with properly conjugated verbs and everything. And one day I have hopes that we’ll even be able to play Scrabble!

Fast-forwarding a bit to the preteen years, I can’t help but wonder if I’ll have to break out my decoding skills again, though…like when I ask, “How was your day at school?” And I get a curt, “Fine,” in response. I may find myself wishing for some hand signals or something.

November 17, 2010

Prematurity Awareness Day

When I was in graduate school, a friend of mine gave birth to a baby with a minor birth defect. She casually mentioned that her doctor told her that if she'd been taking folic acid when she got pregnant, she probably could have avoided the complication.

I was shocked.

I thought everyone knew that women who were of child-bearing age should be taking folic acid to help prevent birth defects. How could my friend, an intelligent, educated woman, not have known this?

From that time, I've always supported the March of Dimes in "working together for stronger, healthier babies."

November 17 is National Prematurity Awareness Day. In honor of our baby girls, born at 34 1/2 weeks, I'm re-posting a portion of our NICU story, told in light of the NICU reunion we attended in September.

I praise God every day that we have two happy, healthy babies. I pray for the families that are fighting for their babies...for the medical professionals who are caring for them...and for the scientists who research ways to help and prevent issues such as prematurity.

Revisiting the NICU, written September 12, 2010

...and if you'll excuse me, I'm going to give my two sweet girlies an extra big hug.

November 16, 2010

When is it a Milestone?

Particularly in our information-rich culture, I think that most mommies are trained to look for milestones…the first word, the first step, the first poop in the potty.

We know the statistics of when our babies "should" do these things. We’re looking for them. And when they happen, we must document them, and journal about them, and create a new scrapbook page.

Having watched my girls' every move over the past 22 months, I have decided I’m a pretty tough judge. I want to be fair – and accurate! – when I tell you what our girls’ first words were, and precisely when they started walking.

I’ve realized, though, that being a tough judge is actually a pretty tough job.

Was I supposed to count Baby A’s very first unsupported step as “walking”? When I could take a guess at Baby B’s babbles, was I to count that as her first word?

Not this mama.

I didn’t count the girls’ first words until they were recognizable to someone other than me. And the girls were walking at least halfway across the den before I gave them full credit.

I don’t mean to sound like a drill sergeant, but I just don’t want to be one of those moms that proclaims her children can name the constellations when they can say the word “star.”

Of course I think my girls are the most precious, most beautiful, and certainly the smartest in all the land. I’m their mommy, and that’s my job. Maybe I’m just looking to counter-balance those superlatives, lest some itty bitty people start to get a big head.

November 15, 2010

Guest Post: Learning to Dance in the Rain

I first "met" MultipleMum several months ago. Her boy/girl twins were born just two weeks before A and B, and despite the oceans between Kentucky and Australia, we quickly found a lot of common ground.

The mother of four children ages five and under, MultipleMum writes about some pretty poignant "mom" experiences...but I wouldn't necessarily classify hers as a "mommy" blog; she covers a host of topics.

The common thread -- and what keeps her blog on the top of my list of "must reads" -- is her intelligent approach, and her ability to make even whimsical ideas relevant. Oh, and she always has a really cool image kicking off each of her posts. :)

Thanks so much to MultipleMum for sharing her perspective on balancing her blessings, including her recent return to the workforce.

Life is not about waiting out the storms. It is about learning to dance in the rain.

I found out I was expecting twins at the 13 week ultrasound. The sonographer popped the ultrasound machine onto my already swollen tummy and up on the screen were two little people lying side by side. There was no hiding it.

Before the lady could complete her ‘How delightful!’ speech, the tears began to roll down my cheeks, a combination of excessive laughter and shock, and my husband started counting 1,2,3,4 over and over again.

You see, we already had two children at home. Nugget was 3 years and 3 months at that point, and Doo Dah, 17 months old. Four under four. We were genuinely scared.

The thing about life I have found is that no matter how hard it all seems you somehow find the resilience to cope. Having multiples +2 has taught me just how hard life can get, but how rewarding too.

I thought I was done during the pregnancy when I reached gigantic proportions and still had to lift my toddler and pre-schooler up for 'cuddles' on a regular basis. But, no. I survived until 36+5 weeks gestation and created two gorgeous babies (B/G twins).

I thought it was all over after the babies were born when they started on a 3 hourly feed-sleep cycle, day and night. But, no. I survived that too. Even though it was 6 months before I got more than 2 hours sleep in a row, for some reason my older boys behaved like angels during the whole stage.

I thought I would never sit down again when the Minx and Dew Drop started to crawl, then walk, then climb. But, no. I have survived that stage too. With the help of my two ‘big boys’ who helped me ‘herd’ the babies down at the park or in the shopping centre.

But when the end of my maternity leave came and I had to face returning to work, I really thought it was all over for me. How in the world could I wrangle four children and go to work? What in the world could I contribute in the workplace with my ‘baby brain’ and body-fluid stained clothes? I would be discovered as an impostor, wouldn’t I? A Mum trying to cut it in the world of paid employment. But, no. I have once again survived.

Balancing paid work outside the home and child rearing isn’t for the faint-hearted. The demands are great and there really are no winners. The children wish that you could be with them every day; your workplace filters every idea from your brain as you rush out to pick up the kids; and your husband starts sending you emails and text messages as a reminder that he too has needs.

*You* get lost in the rush and chaos of your life.

In the grand scheme of things, I am lucky. I only work 2 days a week (plenty of time at home to complete the 9 loads of washing a week). My husband is very helpful and does a lot of dropping off and picking up children. And my children are adaptable. They tell me they like their days at Long Daycare and After-school care, and I choose to believe them.

I refuse to buy into the whole Mother’s Guilt thing. I mean, we all have it, irrespective of what we do with our time (SAHM, WAHM, WM) or how we manage our children. I am just trying to do the best I can, under the circumstances I have found myself in, and still find the time to smile and enjoy life.

What are your family’s circumstances? Have you waiting out the storm or have you learnt to dance in the rain?

You can check out MultipleMum's blog at And Then There Were Four...I'll see ya there! :)

November 13, 2010

Companion Reader

A few weeks ago, I posted this picture of Baby B:

It literally makes me laugh out loud to see how hard she seems to be concentrating on the likes of Dr. Seuss.

Not to be outdone, I recently captured this shot of Baby A:

Once again, I can't help but cackle at the seriousness with which she seems to approach her introduction to the Disney characters.

"'Duck', huh? That certainly doesn't look like any duck I've ever seen. And why is she sitting beside what is called a 'Mouse'? And
why would such creatures pretend to eat pizza? Very strange...very strange, indeed."

If you could see the extremely poor condition of these books, you'd understand that they've been "loved" a lot in our house over the past few months. While it's still akin to nails across a chalkboard for me seeing a page bent the wrong way, I feel strongly about books being a big part of the girls' environment. I want them to feel like having a book in hand is only natural.

And if I do say so, they're at least posing like experts.

November 11, 2010

Fab 5 Friday

...and following are just a few things that made this week fabulous!

1) The weather has been nothing short of incredible this week...daytime highs in the 70's, with crisp, clear sunshine illuminating the still-brilliant leaves. The girls' playtime in the den has suffered a bit, as we've made every excuse to get out and about. Girls, oh girls, how I love fresh air!

2) Baby B volunteered her first phrase in Serbian this week, in context. "Let's go home!" she exclaimed from her car seat.

3) Baby A has taken a real interest in her dolls' digestive systems. She's spent a large amount of time this week "burping" them. "Burping baby!" she declares. Maybe it's all the "cookies" she's been feeding them...

4) I started singing, "Babe...I Got You, Babe..." (a la Sonny and Cher) to the girls over the weekend. At random from the backseat of the car, Baby B yelled, "I got it, Bay-ba!" Daddy and I laughed, she laughed, and then Baby A laughed. And that just prompted B to say it again and again. Hilarious!

5) I have been singing the same nighttime prayer to the girls since they were a few weeks old. Just this week, Baby A has started adding the sweetest little "Amen!" to the end of the prayer...and my heart melts into an itty bitty puddle every.single.time.

(One might think with all the singing I do that I have a nice singing voice, huh? Well, One would be terribly wrong. But I guess it goes to show that even the ongoing presence of tone-deaf singing can't put a damper on the fabulousness of the World of A & B.)

November 10, 2010

The Evolution of Walking

I remember the very first time I took the girls for a walk. I had been watching the weather forecast like a hawk, so eagerly anticipating temperatures reaching the 70-degree mark. We were under strict orders from the pediatrician not to get the girls out in public until they were three months old. The only exception he cited was a walk around the neighborhood, given that the conditions were "just right."

The girls’ first walk came in mid-March, when they were about 2 ½ months old. Between the warming spring temperatures and the girls reaching the magical three-month mark, we quickly began to incorporate walks into our daily routine.

Early on, the girls slept the majority of the time we walked. I loved gazing at their cherubic faces in the natural light, but I was largely alone with my thoughts.

After several months, they were staying awake more, and I began to narrate.

There were times I’d come home from our three-mile trek, not only "glistening" from the work-out, but near-hoarse from extolling the virtues of mailboxes and mulch.

And sometimes, if the girls were getting a little antsy the last few blocks, I might find myself jiggling the handle of the stroller to the tune of “The Farmer and the Dell”. Better our neighbors enjoy my "lovely" singing voice than the sound of babies crying in stereo.

And then one day, our routine began to evolve to an entirely new level. I pointed out a barking dog, and what to my wondering eyes did appear but the girls patting their thighs, signing, “Dog!

As the girls’ signing vocabulary grew, so did the interactivity of our walks. And before I knew it, they were beginning to call out words they knew…”Dog!”…”Flower!”…”Bicycle!”…”Airplane!”…

My one-mom narration had turned into a three-way game of I Spy.

Their observations have gradually become more descriptive. “Puppy doggy…napping!” “Bird…flying…sky!” “Squirrel…running fast!

And more recently, we’ve begun to layer in colors to our conversations. “What color is that bucket (recycling bin)?” “What color is that car / truck / van?” “I see purple flowers on that porch, do you?

Next up on my list…pointing out numbers on mailboxes.

And then will come types of cars, and flowers, and trees...and one day I can envision us working on basic math skills. “If this mailbox is 741, and that is 745, what is the next one?

The possibilities are definitely endless if we keep on putting one foot in front of the other.

November 8, 2010

One Man's Outtake is Some Mama's Treasure

One piece of advice I give to new moms...especially new moms of to take lots of pictures of their kiddos while they're stationary. Once they can propel themselves, it's so hard to get a good picture!

Thank goodness for digital photography, though, right? I often take 20 or 30 shots, just to get one or two "keepers".

So two keepers out of 20 trusty calculator tells me I should be able to delete approximately 18 shots, right?

Not so easy, at least for this mama.

There is often something sweet, or cute, or funny, or memorable about every single picture. There is something precious to be found even in the blurry shot, the shadowed face, or the frowning baby.

I may not print them all, but I often have an awful hard time actually hitting the "delete" button to erase my babies' outtakes.

Here, for example, is one of my favorites from Halloween. It may look like a botched photo op to most, but I see my theatrical Baby A doing a very heartfelt impression of a kitty cat (because she's wearing a kitty cat shirt, of course). Baby B is giggling at her, knowing Mommy really wants them to quit the animal noises for a minute and pose already!

Here's a very blurry shot of Baby A. I just couldn't bear to erase that huge smile, though, knowing she was scrambling off the couch to run over to me. (The girls can hardly stand for me to be sitting on the floor and them not be on top of me.)

And while this may not be the most flattering shot of Baby B, it just makes me laugh. She was laughing at herself, being silly in her hat. She often laughs so hard she falls over, and this was a split second or two before her laughter-induced crumble.

I guess it's just one of the many things that makes us mamas, loving every square inch of our babies...outtakes and all.

November 6, 2010

Time Out, Twin-Style

So I decided that it was time to implement a formal time-out structure. I set up the pack-and-play in a very boring corner of the dining room, away from the glitz and glam of the den and kitchen where we spend the majority of our waking hours.

And wouldn’t you know that the first time-out worthy infraction came when Baby A started preparing to streak, working her arms out of her onesie?

I scolded her, “[Baby A], you know that you have to keep your clothes on. Taking them off is not nice. You’re going to Time Out.

I picked her up, unceremoniously, and put her in the pack-and-play, out of sight of Baby B and me. I set the timer on the microwave for two minutes.

Baby A didn’t cry. Baby B, left alone in the glamorousness of the den, didn’t cry, either.

When the timer on the microwave sounded, I went to the pack-and-play and knelt down beside Baby A. “[Baby A], you understand we have to keep our clothes on, right? Say, ‘yes, Mommy.’”

Baby A so sweetly repeated, “Yes, Mommy,” as if she actually knew what I was talking about.

I took her back to the den and lifted her across the gate.

It was at that point that Baby B, who I then realized had exhibited remarkable patience in that probably nearly-three minute stretch, began to whimper.

[Baby B] turn!” she cried.

So now we’re working to reinforce that “Time Out is not nice.

Fortunately (?), Baby A has gotten several more opportunities for that to sink in. Baby B still desperately wants a turn in the Time-Out pack-and-play.

I am pretty sure that this is a new little game for Baby A. I know I just need to be consistent with time-outs, and everyone will eventually understand. And I knew this would be the case.

What I didn’t plan for was the “twin dynamic”, though.

Could Baby A be filling Baby B’s head with tales of glitz and glam from the Time-Out pack-and-play? Could Baby A be purposefully doing things (like taking her clothes off and shredding books) to warrant coveted alone time?

I’m beginning to think these girlies are much smarter than I am. I just wonder, is there something I could do to earn some time by myself???

November 5, 2010

Fab 5 Friday

Of course we had a fabulous weekend with our first cookie-making endeavor AND Halloween. The week continued the fabulous trend...

1) On Friday night we took the girls to our favorite Mexican dive for the first time in several weeks. They split a chicken quesadilla with me, and between the two of them they consumed an entire plate of black beans and rice. They also got their first taste of salsa…Baby B loved it; Baby A coughed and sputtered a bit, but then asked for “More!” And I forgot their sippy cups, so they drank water out of regular straw cups. They were such big girls!

2) The girls are remembering their manners more and more. They’re pretty consistently asking for things with “Pees!” and we get the occasional unprompted “Tank-yuw!”…and that just melts my heart.

3) The girls have also incorporated Hep! (help) into their vocabularies. Whereas “More!” used to be their go-to word if they didn’t know how to say something, they now ask for lots of “Hep!” And I seriously can’t resist!

4) The girls have really upped their games of pretend this week. I can’t begin to count how many “choc-it chip” cookies I’ve eaten from their red bucket!

5) It seems like only a few weeks ago that I marveled at the girls’ first three-syllable word, “butterfly”. (It was the same for each of them, but said on different days. And yes, I wrote it down.) This week they both – separately – said “hippopo’mus”. They don’t have it 100%, but they’re really close to getting credit for five syllables! Wow!

Life is good, and life with a couple of sweet baby girls is absolutely fabulous!

November 3, 2010

Streaker Alert!

Yes, there seems to be a streaker on the loose, last seen running through our den.

I don’t know what’s gotten into Baby A, but I am beginning to think I might have to invest in some standard-issue duct tape to keep the kid’s clothes on.

Since she began to appreciate the opposability of her thumbs, Baby A has never been one to keep socks on for very long. And we didn’t make it 50 yards out of the store, having bought the girls’ first pair of (Velcro-closure) shoes before we had to return them for some lace-ups. She had those puppies off in no time!

I have generally been able to keep her clothed by using onesies. She may strip her shoes, socks, and pants, but as long as the snaps are securely fastened, I’ve been able to avoid most incidents.

(Leave her alone – literally for a minute – in pants and a shirt, though, and she’s enjoying the breeze.)

Earlier this week, we had our first onesie breach.

At first I thought Baby A was being so cute, giving a nod to “Flashdance”. She had worked one arm out of her (long-sleeve) onesie. “Silly girl!” I told her, intending to help her put herself back together in a minute. The next thing I knew, she had worked both arms out, and was pulling the onesie down off her legs.

The onesie she was wearing was a little roomy, so I marched upstairs and found one from last season. At least having a more secure fit will make it more difficult for Houdini-Girl to escape.

But gah!!! The girls have a closetful of the most precious fall and winter clothes. I hate to keep Baby A straight-jacketed in last year’s onesies, just to keep her from streaking through the house!

And there’s actually a twin component, too. If left to her own devices, Baby A would undress herself, and then proceed to collect Baby B’s socks and pants, too. (I haven’t seen her go further than that, but I wouldn’t put it past her!)

I really hope this is just a phase, one that she’ll grow out of. They only make onesies so big! And even if I found a custom onesie to fit her when she’s five, she’s eventually bound to learn to unsnap it herself!

November 2, 2010

How We See Ourselves

I don’t often think about my age. In my mind, age is just a number…it’s more about how you feel and how you act, and since having children, I’d probably add “what life stage you’re in” to that list.

I think of myself as an “old soul”, and I’ve felt a lot older than my calendar years for as long as I can remember.

Do I look my age? Well, I don’t really know, and I don’t much care. I take care of myself as best I can, and that’s the extent of my worry.

Several months ago, I found myself in a group of new people, and following meeting everyone, I had an opportunity to learn their ages. I was shocked by so many of them.

For quite a few, I would have pegged them to be older than me, but they were in fact my age or younger. And there were a couple who were several years younger than me whom I thought were surely my age.

This experience did make me question whether I see myself as younger (physically) than I really am. It was an interesting point to ponder, but I didn’t spend too much time thinking on it, much less worrying about it.

This psychological exploratory occurred to me again recently, as I thought about how the girls label almost everything they see…”Puppy dog!”…”Kitty cat!”…”Airplane!”…and their favorite word of all-time, “Baby!

“Baby” was their first word, aside from Mama and Dada, and they now most often say “Tiny baby!” at that.

Although they know the words “boy” and “girl”, I’ve noticed that they call children even their age and a little older “Tiny baby!” quite frequently.

If a kiddo is walking around the store, he might have a chance of being called “Boy!” But a kid in a stroller, or one being carried by Mom? Not a chance.

So maybe it’s innate that we strive to be younger than we really are. Well, except maybe in high school…but that’s another psychological exploratory altogether…

November 1, 2010

Two Cheers for Halloween and a Band-Aid

My dear friend and the girls' "Uncle" Michael gave us The.Most.Adorable. cheerleading outfits as a baby shower gift. And while at the time I could never imagine my tiny little babies ever being big enough to wear them, I've been anxiously anticipating them donning their "Roll Tide gear" and melting my heart just a little more.

The cheerleading outfits fit in perfect time...for the 2010 football season...and for Halloween!

On an unseasonably warm day for October 31, we dressed the girls in their "Bama outfits", as they call them, and began the Halloween festivities.

First, of course, was the family photo on the front steps.

And then the girls got to experience their first taste of trick-or-treating (although not literally...that candy is for ME!).

We made our way around to our immediate neighbors. The girls seemed to enjoy parading around, and they were even up to showing off a few key phrases..."Roll Tide!" (of course)..."Trick-or-treat!" (which, although not said very plainly, was recognizable in context)...and "Thank you!" (said, or at least signed).

The only mishap of the afternoon involved the neighbor's sweet dog, the same dog that we religiously stop and wave to on our morning walks. But I guess waving to a dog from the safety of the street, and the further safety of the jogging stroller, is different from waving to the same dog while dressed in your 'Bama finest, walking up said dog's driveway.

Baby B got a little anxious at her proximity to the dog (which was a good 20 feet away), and in the process, she stumbled.

Yes, we incurred our first scraped knee.

I personally think it's pretty good to have gone almost 22 months with no Band-Aid-requiring bumps, scrapes, or bruises...but Hubby was nonetheless horrified.

Fortunately B doesn't seem too traumatized...but I guess the true test will be on our morning walk.

Despite the application of the girls' first Band-Aid, I'd call Halloween 2010 a success. Let's hope we can say the same for the 2010 football season. ROLL TIDE!!!