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September 30, 2011

Fab 5 Friday...and ME!!!

After a fantastic family day on Saturday at the International Festival…including surviving our first port-a-potty experience [not as bad as I would have imagined!]…there’s been lots more fabulous to be thankful for this week!

1) I’ve let the girls “help” me cook twice this week! I’ve kept it very contained…one at a time, I let them pour pre-measured ingredients into a bowl to make a marinade, or hand me crackers to line my pudding dessert…but they love it! And they’re so proud to tell Daddy what they made as part of our dinner.

2) [PLEASE DON’T LET THIS JINX ME!!!] The girls have napped every day this week but one! It makes such a huge difference in their pre-bedtime behavior (and my sanity!).

3) I’ve heard some of the sweetest exchanges between the girls lately. One of my favorites…Baby A said something about eating pears at dinner one night. Baby B corrected her so gently, “No baby, these are apples.” Hahaha!!!

4) Both girls have begun having much more complex pretend phone conversations. Baby A said yesterday, “Excuse me, ma’am. My name is [A], and I need to make an appointment.” How old is this child??? HA!

5) Once a CD-player staple, I hadn’t played any big band music for the girls in a long time. I cranked some up earlier in the week, and all three of us had such a great time dancing to the groove. I then pulled up a video of the Glen Miller Orchestra playing “In the Mood” to show the girls some of the instruments. Later that day, the girls were pretending with their babies. I asked them what they were doing, and they said, “Our babies are playing the trombone!” And they’ve requested “We want band music!” several times again this week. Good stuff!!!

And what did I do for ME this week???

While Miss Jennifer was here with the girls on Tuesday afternoon, I slipped out and met Hubby after school for coffee and a pastry. We scored prime seats at Panera – right in front of the fireplace! We hadn’t done that in so long, and it was so, so nice. And then I even had time for a quick Target run (alone!) afterwards!

I’ve also done quite a bit of scrapbooking this week, after the girls are in bed, and that’s just such great “therapy” for me.

[Continued thanks to the Great Dollimama for reminding me to think about "me" every week!]

September 29, 2011

The Value of Money

It’s rare that I have cash in my wallet. For so many years now, my hubby and I have charged all our daily expenses, paying our balance in full at the end of the month. In addition to earning credit card rewards, it’s just so convenient.

Enter the girls, and convenience is more important than ever. Outside of the farmer’s market – where hubby handles the transactions, while I handle the girls – I can’t remember the last time I paid cash for something.

[And if I’m being completely honest, the thought of money is pretty gross to me, too. I know my credit card is far from clean, but cash and coins can be downright grimy!]

The girls and I talk about money on a regular basis. We look through the sale papers together, noting which fruits and veggies are on sale. They see me clipping coupons, and sing the little jingle I made up, “Clip some coupons…save some money!” with great fervor. As we do our grocery shopping, I comment (often ad nauseam) about what is a good price, and explaining why we’re not buying asparagus this week because it’s not a good price.

The girls were playing with some wooden puzzle pieces a week or so ago. They each put a big handful in their purses, declared it was “money”, and said they were going shopping.

[Under very strict supervision] I let them play with a tub of buttons yesterday. They were content to look at the colors and textures for a few minutes, but they were most excited about transferring the buttons from a pile on the floor to a bucket…and then they wanted to run off with their bucket full of “money”. [That was the end of my tolerance for playing with such tiny pieces…the buttons were promptly put away.]

Maybe I’m reading too much into it, but those two exchanges actually amaze me. I don’t know where they picked it up, but the girls seem to have a sense for the physicality of money. And, although I know it’s a much larger concept, I think this presents an opportunity to continue to explore the value of money.

So…maybe it’s worth me putting away the plastic occasionally for the girls to see me paying with paper money and nickels and dimes.

Maybe they should have a piggy bank that’s more than just ornamental.

And maybe we’ll just invest in more wet wipes to bathe our hands after any such exchanges.

September 28, 2011

It's a GIRL!...and Another GIRL!!!

It was just about three years ago when we had our ~18-week ultrasound. We were so thankful it showed two healthy babies...and we were so excited to know those babies were both girls!

(We didn't care one way or the other about the genders, but it was nice to begin to visualize proverbial "pink" or "blue".)

I hadn't bought many baby things up to that point. It's like I was afraid to jinx anything with my thought process. I didn't want to allow myself to believe it was really true...we were having babies! Two of them!!!

But a couple of days after that incredible ultrasound, I had to travel for business. I had a little bit of extra time, and there just happened to be a nice outlet mall nearby. I tentatively went into the Carter's outlet. I looked around, and around, and around, amazed at the selection.

I finally allowed myself to buy the first two articles of little girl clothing...the softest velour dresses in coordinating pink / blue and brown...

When I got home from my trip, I hung the dresses in my bathroom so I could look at them every morning and every evening...a precious reminder that my dreams were really coming true.

I'm linking up with the sweet Cheryl at Twinfatuation for Way Back Whenesday. This picture was taken when the girls were about 7 weeks old, Baby A on the left, and B on the right.

September 27, 2011

Mama Loves: Puzzles!

I bought the girls their first puzzle for their first birthday – a big, chunky one with three pieces, each an inviting zoo animal.

The girls could complete the puzzle with A LOT of help, but it was much closer to 18 months that they really became interested in it.

Around that time I bought them several additional puzzles, still very basic ones where you match the picture to the cut-out. Those types of puzzles held the girls’ attention for the next few months.

The girls got a gift card for the second birthday, and I wanted to invest in some more puzzles. I found a couple of great ones that the girls have really enjoyed…

One has each upper-case letter of the alphabet, and the other has numbers 0 through 9. The level of difficulty was much greater than what they were accustomed to, as there is no “picture” to match, but I was so amazed – and so proud! – when they mastered the puzzle pretty quickly.

The puzzles provide such a fun, interactive way to play with numbers and letters. Once the girls could complete the puzzle, I started introducing new ways for them to play with it, asking them to put the letters into the puzzle in order, or asking them to put all the orange letters in.

In addition to the many alphabet books we regularly read, I give a lot of credit to these puzzles for helping reinforce letter recognition with the girls.

A few months ago, I found another set of letter puzzles that the girls have really enjoyed, as well.

Now I don’t mean to suggest that my 2 ½-year olds are spelling at this stage, but they can recognize their letters and fit them into the right slots. Sure looks impressive, huh? :) Of course all that really matters is that the girls are having fun.

I’m linking up again this week with my friend Julia at Pontifications of a Twin Mom for her Mama Loves series. This mama loves alphabet puzzles, and so do her girlies!

(These are "Classic Wood" puzzles from Walmart. I can only find a couple available online, but there are a number of different puzzles to choose from in stores.)

September 26, 2011

Finally Considering a Reward System

So Baby A has been wearing undies just more than five months now. Save those first couple of days, she’s not had one major accident.

But…she continues to have little “leaks”…just enough to wet the seat of her undies, not usually even seeping through to her pants…but…ugh. Some days she might not have any, and then some days, it might happen three or four times.

My gut is that she’s too busy playing to want to bother with going to the potty until it’s almost too late. And several friends have said this is perfectly normal, given her young age. But…ugh.

Yesterday morning, I decided to take a new approach. I never implemented any type of reward system during the potty-training process (other than making a very big deal of getting to flush the potty). I thought maybe it was time.

I told A if she kept her panties nice and clean and dry ALL DAY, she’d get a very special treat at the end of the day.

What’s the treat? you ask. Um, yeah, I don’t know.

The first thing that came to mind was a marshmallow, or some M&Ms…what seem like common rewards for using the potty. And please know that I don’t mean to judge those many families who take such an approach (!!!), but that just didn’t feel right to me. I struggle with the idea of using food as a reward.

Unfortunately [or fortunately, since it bought me a little more time!], I didn’t get to test my system yesterday, as Baby A had an indiscretion mid-afternoon.

My plan is to get some super-duper-extra-shiny-and-cool stickers – sometime before the end of the day – and set up a sticker chart. I just hope that A is as excited about it as I need her to be!

Meanwhile…Baby B heard all the hullabaloo about a very special treat that Sissy was to receive. Although it hurt my heart a little bit, I stuck to my conviction that the very special treat was only for Big Girls With Clean Panties at the End of the Day. I took the opportunity to remind B of the very special celebration we’re going to have when she goes on the potty.

So what did B do? She took off her diaper and asked to wear panties. OK, Sister! Here ya go!

I was hopeful that Baby B would magically train herself, much as her sister had, five months ago. My hopefulness was dashed about three minutes later, though.

B had two major accidents yesterday (messy carpet, messy hardwoods, wringing wet clothes, and not a drop of tee-tee in the potty). I just matter-of-factly put her back in diapers and told her we’d try again another time.

We’ll see what happens tonight when Baby A [HOPEFULLY] gets her super-duper-extra-shiny-and-cool sticker, about which I hope she’ll be super-duper excited.

This mommy gig is hard, y’all.

September 25, 2011

International Flair

I love our town. We moved here eight years ago with my job, having no other ties, but it sure does feel like "home". A big part of the draw for me is that it's a small town -- just over 60,000 people -- yet we have quite a bit of diversity.

Our town is small enough that it's easy to get to know your neighbors, the shop owners, and the nice lady who stocks produce at the grocery store. I think that creates an awesome sense of community, particularly for the girls.

But in those 60,000 people, over 10% of them are recent immigrants. We have a Hispanic population and a large number of people from former Yugoslavia and some of the former Soviet republics. Over the past couple of years, we've started to see more people from Southeast Asia -- namely Burma -- and from several African countries.

Every September our town holds an International Festival, and we always go. It's so much fun to see so many different countries represented, many people wearing native dress. There are many different foods to try, and music permeates downtown.

Teaching ESL, it's always nice for my husband to see a lot of his students and their families, too.

The girls had such a great time at the festival this year. Our first stop was Greek belly dancing. You can't quite tell it from the picture, but the girls were definitely feeling the spirit and moving right along to the sounds of the music!
We then tested out the bongos...

And after a lunch of gyros, punctuated by baklava (and some grapes I brought from home), we ran into a couple of Daddy's students, from Cuba, who tried to teach the girls some new moves.

As we were closing out our time at the festival, I was can take the girls out of Kentucky, but you can't take the Kentucky out of the girls. Here they are, checking out the fallen leaves. :)

After a well-deserved nap, we had plans to hang out with Aunt Shanda for a bit. I figured we'd hit the bookstore, or maybe walk around the mall...but spur of the moment, and in keeping with the international theme of the day, we headed back downtown and decided to share some appetizers at the Thai restaurant.

The girls got their first taste of tofu. And they were so excited to have a fresh spring roll, which they kept calling "sushi".

We've known Miss Sonny for several years. She used to be the sushi chef at our favorite Japanese restaurant, and she now owns the Thai restaurant. We ran into her at the festival earlier in the day, where she wanted a picture of the girls. She came out to see us off, and I asked if she'd pose for a picture with my camera.

Certainly there's no place like home...but I love that it's so easy to "travel" right here in our own backyard.

September 24, 2011

A Bit About Me, September Edition

My birthday is February 23rd. On the 23rd (or 24th!) of each month, I’ve taken to sharing a couple of random bits about me. So, for the month of September (and in honor of football season and the start of fall)…

25) I was a Bama Belle when I was in college, an athletic hostess for the football team.

For home games I would meet a football recruit and his family, show them around campus, accompany them to the game, and then to a post-game barbeque with the players and coaches. I loved it! Although I never handled any of the “big” recruits, I loved sharing my passion for The University of Alabama. For many of the guys, this was their first trip to campus, and it could be downright magical to see their awe upon entering the stadium and hearing the crowd.

26) I love S’mores.

I can eat them any time of the year, but there’s something about fall that evokes a certain “toasted marshmallow” kind of mood for me. I’m not particular about how my S’mores are constructed, either. Of course I’d love to be around a bonfire with some of my besties (holding a stainless steel skewer – I do draw the line at using sticks!), but a properly microwaved marshmallow will do in a pinch. And the upside of a microwaved-marshmallow S’more? The likelihood of a cold glass of milk being just steps away in the refrigerator. Yum!!!

That's me! More randomness to come in next month's installment!

Until then, ROLL TIDE, and Happy Fall, Y'all!

September 23, 2011

Fab 5 Friday...and ME!!!

Starting with an awesome family trip to the orchard on Saturday, fabulousness abounded this first week of fall!

1) On Monday, we met one of my former colleagues, whom we hadn’t seen in about a year, for lunch. The girls warmed up to her right away and they behaved really well. And it was so neat to see her in “grandma mode”, enjoying the time just as much as we did.

2) A friend of mine had given us a gift box of brownie mix for Christmas. Her intent was for the girls and me to make it together. I finally got brave on Tuesday! I pulled two chairs up to the counter, perched A on one and B on the other, and relinquished [some] control of the hand mixer. The girls had so much fun, and they were SO PROUD of their creation!

3) I took the girls for their flu shots on Thursday. I told them ahead of time what we were doing, and why, and I explained that it would hurt a little bit, but just for a second. (And I may have reminded them they’d get a sticker from the nurse afterwards.) I was SO PROUD of my girlies…they marched right in like big girls, and didn’t shed one tear!

4) I had to go to the downtown post office on Thursday afternoon. Afterwards I took the girls to the square to look at the fountain. They asked to sit on a bench, which we did, and I was shocked that they sat there for close to FIVE MINUTES! (That’s about four-and-a-half minutes longer than I expected!) They were pretty content to watch the cars going by and look at the squirrels running around, at least for a little bit. I’ll take it!

5) And the quote of the week? Baby A told me after dinner one night, “I will grow tall…and I will reach the ceiling…so I can change all the light bulbs!” I couldn’t help but laugh at her thought process…and I was so proud of her (silly) logic!

And what did I do for ME this week???

On Friday night, I met Aunt Karen for a late dinner. We'd seen each other several times, but it had been close to six weeks since we'd been able to sit back and relax and catch one of my favorite downtown restaurants, to boot!

Aunt Shanda and I had been working all day on Monday to try to coordinate a shared Pumpkin Spice Latte. After my girlies were in bed, she made a Starbucks run, delivered said beverages to my house, and we sat on the patio and sipped contentedly.

On Tuesday night, I enjoyed a scrapbooking session with a few fellow twin mamas from my MoMs group.

And on an organizational note, thanks to an awesome coupon with a very short window of opportunity, I am caught up on picture editing and ordering through the week…which is pretty well unheard of…but I like it!!!

What made your week fabulous? And what did you do for you???


September 22, 2011

Getting Easier (and Harder)

I gave the girls a bath yesterday morning. By myself. And I didn’t think anything about it.

Earlier this year, I would have just waited for Daddy to come home. And even a few months ago, I would have had to pat myself on the back with a boastful Facebook status for having accomplished such a feat.

But these days I can handle lathering two girlies, juggling four toy turtles, and blow-drying everyone’s hair, all in the course of a weekday morning routine.

I’m taking the girls for their flu shots today. By myself. And I haven’t been psyching myself up for days. In fact, I’d almost forgotten about the appointment until I glanced at the calendar yesterday afternoon.

Would it be easier if I had someone to go with me? Of course. But I can do it by myself, and it will be fine.

As evidenced by baths and doctor’s visits and going to get frozen yogurt, I feel like things are “getting easier”. I still use the stroller quite a bit, when I really need both my hands for an extended period of time, but – for short periods of time and in measured contexts – our girls are pretty good at walking and holding hands and behaving like big girls.

And that’s a good feeling.

So is this the turning point where things are truly “easier”? Hmmm…I can’t say we’re “there” yet.

Naptime can be a struggle at our house. I sometimes long for the days where I could lay the girls down at a certain time, and have confidence that they would sleep.

These days, I probably spend too much time analyzing our morning activities…I want to stimulate the girls such that they need a nap…but not too much such that they can’t settle down. At least that’s the way I think about it. Some days we have a brilliant rest, and some days it’s nothing short of painful.

And I will say, as much as I appreciate only changing one child’s diaper these days, those diaper days were actually pretty convenient!

Now the availability / cleanliness of public bathrooms factors into my psyche, as well as how long we’ll be away from home and how much the girls have had to drink prior to an outing. (Wonder if there’s an app for that?!)

Stepping back, though, big picture, things are easier.

Two-and-a-half is The Most Awesome Age, and going and doing is easier and more enjoyable than ever before.

And as for the challenges? I’ll just continue to remind myself of “ages and stages”. Nothing lasts forever…so roll with it, enjoy it for what you can…and know that tomorrow is a new – and different! – day.

September 21, 2011

Talking Nonsense

On some level, I had secretly hoped to witness “twin speak”, that phenomenon that you always hear about between twins…the language they develop that only they can understand.

I wouldn’t say that our girls started speaking early, but when their speech really took off – around 19 or 20 months – it was plain ol’ English.

Over the past six months, our girls’ language has blossomed. I am truly amazed every day at what they say, and how they say it.

And over the past couple of months, my husband and I have been making more of a concerted effort to speak Russian (which I studied in school) and Serbian (Hubby’s native language) with the girls.

I wish I could say we were truly raising them in a multilingual household, but that’s not really the case. They can count to 10 in Serbian and say a few basic phrases. They can sing a song in Russian and recite a nursery rhyme, and I read several Russian-themed books to them (in English).

I know this level of attention from Hubby and me won’t lead them to be fluent in another language. But I at least hope that these interactions will give them a basic sense for Slavic languages, and give them an appreciation that other people around the world speak in a different way than we do.

Over the past month or so, amid singing a popular Russian folk song and identifying 15 or so states on a map, the girls have started to speak what I can only describe as “nonsense”, clearly Something Other Than English.

I’m a padja, and my friend madja, went to the badja.
Mommy, can you say ‘boobadoobamuya’?” [followed by a fit of giggles]

Excuse me???

Some of what they say, like the “padja-madja-badja” stuff, seems like it might have some Slavic influence. Are they pretending to “speak Russian”?

Or, as part of the process of language acquisition, I’ve heard about other kids making up strings of rhyming words. Is that what they’re doing?

I can’t imagine this is “twin speak”. While they laugh at each other for some of the things they say, they don’t seem to be communicating on a deeper (?) level.

In any case, I have to admit this talking nonsense is driving me a bit CrAzY! I don’t mean to squelch their creativity (?), but I can’t resist saying, “Speak English, please!

I’m labeling this post as part of Say What?! Wednesday…hoping some mama, somewhere, might have a clue as to what my babies are actually saying! :)

September 18, 2011

Hitting Our Stride

We had another Great Family Saturday yesterday.

It just seems like we're hitting our stride...the girls are old enough to really enjoy our adventures, and it's just amazing to see everything through their eyes. Sometimes I just step back and think, this is what I always life at its finest.

Yesterday was Symphony at the Orchard. Before we made our way to the music, we had to check out the pumpkins...just our size!

And then we enjoyed a mid-morning snack...a fried apple pie. Yummy in our tummies!

(I took a picture to show everyone, since there were so many questions after our "fried peach pie" mention a few weeks ago!)

Then we enjoyed some tunes, courtesy of the local symphony orchestra. My girls love to dance!

There was a great hands-on exhibit, and the girls got to "feel" the music for themselves!

We checked out the pond...

...and then made our way to the petting zoo. We didn't actually pet the alpacas, but we did a lot of waving.

No trip to the orchard would be complete without a visit to the playground. The girls were beyond tickled to get to go down the "bumpy slide", as they call it. And Daddy even agreed to take some pictures of our decent...whee!!!!

The girls had a blast...and this mama did, too.

September 17, 2011

Here Comes the Sun...

...little darlins' comes the sun...
...and I's all right...

This is how I greet the girls every morning, and have for most of the past two and a half years.

We have a dimmer switch on the light in their room. I turn it on as dimly as possible, and slowly make it brighter while I sing this little diddy.

I finally thought to dial up the original Beatles song for the girls to hear a couple of weeks ago. By the second or third chorus, I got the girls to sing along, and that just made my heart sing, too.

I think music inspires such a powerful sense of memory. And I hope, many years from now, the girls will be transported back to their cozy little room in their cozy little pj's, their adoring mama singing to them [even off key], whenever they happen upon this Beatles classic.

I'm linking up with Ginger at (Not) Just Another Mom of Twins for her Songs That Make Us Sing Saturday. (I always love bouncing over to see what tunes she's bopping along to!)

September 16, 2011

Fab 5 Friday...and ME!!!

So thankful for another fabulous week!

1) We had an awesome family day on Saturday. We kicked off the day with a mid-morning snack at a new tea shop downtown (seriously, the perfect cup of tea!). Then we meandered around the square, where there was a small street festival. The girls enjoyed a puffet [puppet] show, and they danced for literally an hour to a little band playing 60’s and 70’s rock and roll. We hadn’t intended to stay so long…but the girls were having a blast. We ate an impromptu lunch downtown before coming home for a great nap. Win-win-win!

2) On Sunday we attended the annual NICU reunion at the hospital where the girls were born. It’s so wonderful every year to reconnect with the nurses that took such good care of our sweet babies. We are forever grateful.

3) Baby B has been trying to work the word “unfortunately” into conversation. She’s usually unsuccessful. For example, she said, “Unfortunately, this breakfast is very good.” HA! Maybe she gets an “A” for effort?

4) The girls both asked for focaccia bread by name one night for supper. I love it!

5) For whatever reason, I always say, “Num-num-num,” when I scratch our kitty under her chin. A few times this week, Baby A has come up to me, tickled under my chin, and said, “Num-num-num,” in the most loving way. Kinda crazy…but so sweet.

And what did I do for ME this week???

I can’t cite any real indulgences, but it’s still been a really good week...

• I baked pumpkin spice muffins one night, a new recipe I’d been wanting to try. I love to bake…it just makes me feel like “me”.

• I cleaned out my files (I have a ton of stuff for Hubby to shred [he volunteered!]), which also feels great.

• And I organized all my materials from our MoMs group from the past two years. It had been residing in a briefcase bag, and it feels much better to have it in a binder (with tabs!).

• Oh, and one small “indulgence”…although it’s probably better classified as a SCORE…I happened upon a pair of Capri pants at Target…on clearance…the perfect fit…for $5.48! Woo hoo!


Happy Friday! Hope you have a fabulous weekend!

September 15, 2011

Cut Your Grass in Half the Time!

Woo hoo! More economies of scale, courtesy of Wonder Twin Power! I love it!

September 14, 2011

It's Things Like This That Make Me Want to Homeschool My Children

I’m a big believer in the public education system, and there’s no doubt that’s the route I will choose for our girls. But sometimes I read things that just make me want to wrap my little sweeties in a protective bubble and not let them out of the house for about 16 years.

A very sweet friend of mine from high school has a very sweet daughter who just started kindergarten. Nicole is amazing…full of arts and crafts, bento box lunch creations, and neighborhood event organizing. Although I’ve never met her little ones, her three girls seem to be all kinds of awesome, too…smart and spunky and sweet and polite.

Nicole’s little girl came home this week and asked her mom not to put any more plums in her lunch box. “Why?” her mom asked. “Plums are your favorite.” She told her mom that the other kids had never seen a plum, and they made fun of her for eating it.

So many issues here…

It first breaks my heart that some kid made fun of that sweet little girl. Absent something nice to say, some kid chose to say something to hurt another kid’s feelings. And from the sound of it, other kids jumped on board.

And on a “housekeeping” note, it makes me shudder to think about something as benign as a plum being a point to pick.

It makes me giddy that our girls love good food. They often eat the crust from around a sandwich first (they have no idea that some kids refuse to eat crust altogether!). They ask for broccoli and Brussel sprouts by name, and have been known to beg for more roasted onion.

For so many reasons, I dread the day when some kid wrinkles her nose at my girls’ lunches, declaring that wheat bread isn’t cool, or suggesting they’re “gross” for eating spinach.

One of my reasons for supporting public education is that I think it’s indicative of the real world…we need to learn to work with all sorts of people, whose backgrounds and beliefs may be very different from ours. That’s what we must ultimately learn to do (or should learn to do) as adults, so let’s start understanding that from an early age.

And I know my job as a mom is to teach my girls to be secure in their beliefs, and to try to understand and respect others’ points of view.

But, wow…that’s a big concept and a daunting task…

Makes that plastic bubble sound pretty good, doesn’t it?

September 13, 2011

Pep Talks and Happy Places

I’m a big believer in the power of visualization.

Need to have a good meeting? Take a deep breath and picture yourself walking in and taking control of the room.

Need to relax? Close your eyes and transport yourself to your happy place. (Mine just happens to involve sun and sand and a nice cool breeze…ahhh!)

On what I’ve realized may be a related note, I have found myself giving “pep talks” to the girls during the day.

I know you love your panties. You’re going to keep them nice and clean and dry all day, right?

We’re going to have a great day today! We’re going to be gentle with each other, and gentle with our toys.

We’re going to have a fun dinner together [at a restaurant]! You’re going to sit nice and tall and straight in your chairs while they prepare our food, and then you’re going to wait patiently for it to cool off. It’s going to be so good!

I can’t say this always works, of course…but I like the idea of getting buy-in from the girls about what we’re going to do and how we’re going to do it. I can then remind them later in the day, “Remember we talked this morning about being gentle?

Call it a pep talk…call it setting expectations…call it Mommy visualizing the kind of day she wants to have so she doesn’t have to transport to her happy place too often…it helps me get my head wrapped around the day and approach new situations.

And I hope, in the process, I’m showing our girls that we set the tone for our own world…and that makes a happy place for us all.

September 12, 2011

The Art of Saying Thank You

I grew up in the days before email and flat-rate calling. When I was a little girl, I used to write letters to my aunt and my grandmother, and they’d write letters back to me.

Even in college, after I got my first email account, I still liked writing letters…and getting them, of course.

There’s just something about a hand-written note – particularly in today’s world of constant connection – that is really special.

I don’t drop as many “hi, how’ya doin’” notes in the mail these days as I’d like, but I try really hard to at least keep up with birthday cards and thank-you notes. (If I’m being truly fair, I’d say I have an 80% accuracy over the past couple of years…not super-great…but I try…)

Since the girls started doing “artwork” on a regular basis, about a year ago, I’ve incorporated a lot of their scribbles and paint smears in my cards.

At some point in the last six or eight months, they started to understand we were making a card for Aunt GG for her birthday, or a thank-you card to send to Grandma Linda.

Still, their scribbles were very “abstract”, and I’m not sure how much of a correlation they were making between a new toy and what they were “drawing”.

As I’ve been working up my nerve to let the girls use glue, I thought of a very simple project to make thank-you notes for two books that Aunt Alison gave the girls during our Labor Day visit.

I helped the girls choose a color for the background of their cards – turquoise for the ocean, and bright green for the grass. I then cut simple shapes from construction paper and let the girls glue them to their papers (under close supervision, and with Mommy taking many deep, cleansing breaths!).

The girls definitely “got” what we were doing…they’re still talking about the cards we made. They got to slip the cards into the envelope, one applied the stamp, and one put on the return address label. And the icing on the cake? A walk to the mailbox, of course.

And one day, when the girls can actually write their own thank-you notes, maybe I’ll have more time for those “hi, how’ya doin’” notes again.

September 11, 2011

I Hadn't Planned to Post about 9/11 Today.

I hadn't planned to post about 9/11 today.

I’d planned a post with a picture of my girls’ artwork…my sweet, innocent girls, to whom all the world is a wonder.

But how can I not step back and hug my family a little tighter today?

Our girls are far too young to have any understanding of what happened here 10 years ago. But one day, years from now, I’ll do my best to explain to them what it was like that day…

One day, even more years from now, I want to take them to the 9/11 Memorial. I want to take them to the Holocaust Museum. I want to take them to the D-Day Museum. And I know there are many more…

May we learn from our history…may we grow and prosper and strive…may we all move forward…but may we never forget.

September 10, 2011

2011 Goals, Revisited

So…I had thought maybe once a quarter I’d check in on the yearly goals I outlined for myself in January…but here it is September, and – to be 100% truthful – I just looked at my goals for the first time since said January. Gulp!

Having waited far too long, I’ll tell you I was scared to see how I was tracking. But inspired by Marcia – whose inspired personality makes goal-setting actually sound fun! – I finally worked up the nerve to see how things are tracking.

What’s funny is that I’m actually doing OK! That tells me that either I have a strong internal compass for what’s “right”…or my goals weren’t very lofty after all! In any case, here ‘goes…


• Potty training.

One down, one to go! I’m very happy with where I am on this front, as I’ve allowed myself to follow the girls’ lead. As of now, Baby B still isn’t quite ready. I realize if she hasn’t announced her “readiness” in another few months, I might have to re-evaluate, but for now, I feel good about where we are.

• Baby-proof the kitchen and allow the girls out of the “holding cell” in the den.

I haven’t moved on this one yet, and I’m OK with that, too. I would like to be baby gate-free by the time the girls turn three…which I think is realistic…but I’m trying to find the right balance to continue to give the girls their freedom (which they currently have in the den), and not drive myself CrAzY looking after them every single moment. Since I’ve waited this long, I’m hoping our baby-proofing can be minimal.

• Stair masters.

Check! The girls are doing great negotiating the stairs…I still walk with them for my peace of mind, but they’re pretty agile!

• Let the girls out of their stroller.

While I still make a lot of use of the stroller for bigger shopping trips, I’m comfortable running small errands (a bank deposit, a loaf of bread, a quick gift) with them by my side. They do fantastic walking in the neighborhood hand-in-hand, and I am so proud to have taken them numerous times to a restaurant for snacks by myself. It’s still so far from relaxing…but I’m hoping with enough practice, we’ll be out for a girls’ lunch soon.

• Sitter.

Check! Since the first of the year, Miss Jennifer has been coming once a week to play with the girls for a couple of hours. Most of the time I leave to run errands or just have a little “me” time…and that’s so good for all of us!

• Utensils.

Check! The girls are actually pretty mannerly, and relatively neat!

• Go on a family trip (other than to see family).

Check! We took our first mini-vacation this summer, and we’re even considering another mini-trip this fall!

• In general…CHILL OUT!!! I know it will be good for us if I occasionally throw caution (along with fear and dread) to the wind and Jump in puddles, play in the dirt, go down the slide…do more art projects, make an introduction to Play-Doh, decorate some cookies…let the girls be KIDS.

We have yet to jump in any puddles, but we haven’t had much rain until this week (a likely excuse, huh?). We’ve played in the dirt (or at least the backyard), we’ve played with sidewalk chalk, and we’ve gone down lots of slides – even unassisted! We’re ramping up our art projects, and I have my sights set on Play-Doh. And we’ve had several kitchen projects, and I hope to do lots more with the approaching holidays.

Overall, I’m relaxing a bit as the girls are getting older. I’m learning that they won’t melt in the rain, and that finger paint does (eventually) wash off. Baby step by baby step, I’m getting there…even if the girls are sometimes dragging me by the shirtsleeves.


• My email box is OUT.OF.CONTROL!!! D.

A couple of times this year, I cleaned out a lot of old files, but I still don’t have a system in place. ((sigh))

• Clutter / filing. B-.

I’ve cut down on clutter, but I still don’t keep up with filing with the frequency I’d like to.

• Pictures / scrapbooking. A-.

I am FINALLY up-to-date on all my picture stuff. I haven’t scrapbooked as much as I’d like to, but I do have all my supplies organized, and I do delve into it from time to time. It’s a great creative outlet, and I would like to do it with more frequency.

• Camera / Photoshop. F.

Haven’t touched a thing. ((sigh))

• Do a better job of staying in touch with out-of-town friends. C.

I finally met Alison’s baby over Labor Day weekend (and I can’t say enough just how awesome that was!!!). I haven’t met any other friends…yet…but given how well the girls have done on our last couple of trips, I’m at least feeling more optimistic about the opportunities over the next few months.

• Sugar addiction. B-.

I do fine as long as I don’t buy / make the stuff. If I do, I must have an outlet (share with friends / give to neighbors)…or just eat a bit and toss the rest. I still have no willpower.

So…for the balance of the year…

I need to continue to challenge myself to get out of my comfort zone with the girls. I’d like to be baby-gate free by the end of the year, and I would like for B to be potty-trained (or at least well on her way).

As for “me” stuff, I want to conquer the paper in the house, and get a system in place to deal with it on a regular basis. I also need a system to deal with my email. I am considering just dumping the contents of my current inbox into a folder and starting fresh. Otherwise I seem to get caught up in dealing with my current mess, unable to focus on moving forward.

I honestly don't see me taking time for the camera / Photoshop goals I outlined. They're not off the list, but I'm trying to be realistic.

We still have 112 days in 2011. I can do this!

September 9, 2011

Fab 5 Friday...and ME!!!

What made this week so fabulous, you ask?

1) We had a great trip to Sweet Home Alabama this weekend. This is the third year we’ve made the journey for Labor Day, so – in more ways than one – it just feels like “home”.

2) Thanks to the cooler weather this week, the girls and I have enjoyed several walks in the neighborhood. We’ve feasted on some fall-weather fare (a big pot of white bean and ham chowder, to be exact). And I’ve gotten to dress up my dollies in some new long-sleeve duds. There’s something so refreshing about the start of a new season!

3) Both girls have been saying, “I love you,” much more often, unprompted, lately. A couple of days ago, Baby A said to me as I was buckling her in her highchair, I LOVE you! And you KNOW it! Yes, I do, Baby Girl.

4) The girls have been having more two-way phone conversations, in reality, and in pretend. On her play phone, B said, “My name is [Baby B]. I have an appointment. I don’t have cause for many appointments, so I can’t imagine how recently she heard me say that, but she sounded so GROWN!

5) And the quote of the week…Hubby was in the kitchen and burped audibly. From the den, Baby B said, “Excuse me, Daddy. Daddy dutifully excused himself. B quickly followed, “Excuse YOU! I guess she told him!

And what did I do for ME this week???

Tuesday was Pumpkin Spice Latte Day, the much-anticipated reintroduction of my beloved drink at Starbucks. I couldn’t make it happen in the morning hours, but I was able to steal away after the girls were in bed. I picked up two – for me and one of my besties – and dropped by her house to toast the arrival of the Pumpkin Spice Latte Season. Ahhhhhhhh!!!


September 7, 2011

What's Yours is Mine: A Twin Question

When I was pregnant, I remember talking to a gentleman on a plane who had four-year old twin boys. “Buy two of everything,” he advised. His rationale was that his boys had to share so much already, he may as well indulge them with two Buzz Lightyears.

In looking at our assortment of toys, we have our share of duplication, but we have a lot of complementary toys as well…a piano and a tambourine, a camera and a phone.

Sometimes the girls will both play with their purses (duplicate toys); other times they’ll be running in opposite directions, one playing with blocks and the other looking at books. I rarely see skirmishes over toys.

Someone asked me the other day if our girls had their “own” things.

Sure, the camera was given to one of them, and the phone to the other. Some books are inscribed to Baby A, and others to B. But at least at this age, the girls haven’t laid claim to any particular toys.

There are only two exceptions, one being the girls’ baby dolls.

Abby, in the pink outfit, belongs to Baby A; and Lily, in blue, belongs to Baby B. I have no idea how they decided this, but they are 100% clear on it, 100% of the time.

That’s not to say that B never tends to Abby, for example. I guess the girls may switch up babysitting for a little bit now and again. But the girls will now even say, “Abby is my baby. Lily belongs to Sissy.” It’s some kind of unspoken (at least to me) agreement.

The other exception is two little shopping baskets that came with some of the girls’ play food. One is red, which Baby A has claimed, while Baby B’s is green. There again, I don’t know how this was decided, but the girls are very consistent about it. B never picks up the red basket, and A leaves the green one alone, too.

I’m guessing that this idea of possession may become more important as the girls get older…that they may want their own things, to have control of their own belongings.

For now I’m just following the girls’ lead, and being thankful that toys – duplicate or not – aren’t a bigger source of contention.

How do things work in your house? Do your kiddos share most of their things? Is there a case in which you would encourage the idea of possession?

September 6, 2011

Sweet Home Alabama

We made our annual Labor Day trip to Sweet Home, Alabama...where the skies are so blue...

Well, at least the skies were blue for the first couple of days until Tropical Storm Lee decided to tag along on our adventures!

It was no matter, though...we still had such a great time...spending time with family and friends, and packing in some adventures along the way, too!

We got to Alabama on Saturday afternoon and headed immediately to Noccalula Falls State Park. The girls had a blast with Granddaddy and Emme in tow!

Exploring the animal exhibits and petting zoo...

B marveled at her hands having gotten dirty (gasp!) after feeding the goats!
The girls loved the cut-outs...
...from both sides!
One of their favorite parts was the little train that circles the park!
After a good night's rest, we headed to the River Walk on Sunday morning.
Looking at the water, the girls kept saying, "We're moving!"
Sunday night, Granddaddy and Emme hosted an awesome barbeque. The girls were surrounded by lots of snuggles...
...and lots of hugs, too!
Monday morning, it was time to pack up and begin our journey home. We were so excited to meet "Aunt" Alison and her wee one for a mid-morning snack.
The girls were so sweet, playing fingers with their little "cousin", who is 16 months old.
We finished our trip with a visit to Aunt GG's house. Sadly, I didn't get any little boogers were running pretty fast, and this mama was slowing down considerably by that point in the trip (!!!)...but we had such a fun time with Great-Great Aunt GG, Great Uncle Tommy and Aunt Janet.

The girls put on quite a show in GG's den, singing and dancing. They were a little too wound up to fully enjoy the amazing dinner GG cooked for us, but they sat perfectly still to eat her famous Grecian Orange cake.

Since I began this post with a song lyric, I'll end with another, from Bon Jovi...who says you can't go home? :)

September 3, 2011

It's HERE!!!

...the day we've been waiting for since January...

The kick-off of college football season in the Great State of Alabama!!!

Pictured here, the girls at 7 months...

[This just happens to be the first picture I have of them BOTH smiling. A coincidence? I think not!]

And pictured here, the girls at 20 months...

And this year? I couldn't stand it any longer...I bought the girls bonafide football jerseys, the number "1", of course! A picture (or 75) to come.

In the meantime, here's to another great season! ROOOOOOOLL TIDE!!!

September 2, 2011

Fab 5 Friday...and ME!!!

Although it’s FLOWN BY, this week has been pretty fabulous!

1) A couple of nights this week, we’ve had family jam sessions after supper. Hubby and I take turns picking out a song from youtube, and we listen and dance…and we’ve even let the girls watch a couple of videos. They’re quite the groove masters, and I even got them to wave their arms in the air to “We Are the World”. Truly great family fun!

2) I had the girls do some “artwork” to make into a card for their Great-Great Aunt Lee’s birthday this week. They’ve only seen Aunt Lee once, when they were about seven months old, so I know they can’t remember her. Nonetheless, Baby B immediately volunteered, “She made the pig!” referring to a ceramic piggy bank Aunt Lee made for me when I was a little girl, that’s now in the girls’ room. Although we don’t see our family as often as we’d like, I love that the girls are developing a larger sense of family, and an appreciation for what’s been given to them.

3) Miss Jennifer brought the girls each a little bag of seashells she collected when she was at the beach a few weeks ago. I bought two small vases to display them. We looked at each shell, talked about the colors and texture, and then put it in the vase. Then we found a picture of the beach in one of our books, and we attempted [together] to draw it. I don’t know how much the girls got out of the “lesson”, but they had a blast, and they’re SO proud of their seashell vases.

4) I don’t mean to suggest this is always the case, but I’ve observed the girls really cooperating more this week. They’ve been singing together (the same song!), and their conversations are definitely evolving. They’ve been pretty good about asking for a particular toy, not just grabbing it from their sister. It’s certainly a work in progress…but it suddenly feels like progress this week!

5) And the quote of the week? I told the girls, “Let’s learn to spell our last name.” I spelled it out, and Baby B immediately added “Dot-com!” Hahaha!!! I guess she’s heard me quote our email address over the phone…but that’s definitely a sign of the times!

And what did I do for ME this week???

I’ve been blessed to have quite a bit of girlfriend time…a late sushi dinner on Saturday night, a mid-afternoon pedicure on Sunday, and a Candy-Corn Tasting on Wednesday. I’m behind on my laundry now, but it sure has been fun!


September 1, 2011

Welcome Fall, Y'all!

I know fall doesn’t officially start for another three weeks, and it’s still hot as all get-out (as we say in the South), but I’m definitely getting in the spirit of the season already.

I am looking forward to trying the girls with apple picking at the orchard, and I can’t wait for our third annual trip to the pumpkin patch.

I have a few fall craft ideas in mind, too.

I’m working up my nerve for a couple of paint projects. I want to use some leaf cut-outs and give the girls red and yellow finger paint. I hope it will be a lesson in red + yellow = orange, as well as the changing colors of the leaves. And I’m hoping it might make a cute garland for the kitchen.

[Did I just say “garland”??? I may have officially entered Soccer Mom status now…]

I would love to do some apple stamps, too. (Thanks to reanbean for the great link!)

And I may even try our hands at making what I would call “pumpkin snowmen” (stacking a couple of pumpkins and dressing them up)…we’ll see how industrious I am, huh?

In the meantime, I’m trying to will fall here, at least with my taste buds.

I just discovered The Most Amazing Advancement in Candy Corn…the addition of Candy Apple and Caramel Corn flavors! I’m still partial to the tried-and-true original candy corn, alternately eaten with a few dry-roasted peanuts, but the new flavors are definitely worth a try.

In fact, I may have hosted an intimate candy corn tasting party for a couple of girlfriends last night. I may have served a “flight” of candy corn…along with crisp Granny Smith apples and homemade caramel dip…and extra sharp cheddar cheese to cleanse our pallets in between bites of sweetness. Of course that’s just a hypothetical...

And speaking of hypothetical, if this easy and YUMMY caramel dip doesn’t get you in the fall spirit, I don’t know what will…

Use a mixer to combine an 8oz. block of reduced-fat cream cheese, softened, with ½ teaspoon vanilla and ½ cup brown sugar. Melt 20 caramels with ¼ cup water in the microwave, stirring until completely smooth. Fold caramels into the cream cheese mixture by hand. Serve immediately, or refrigerate (it stays pretty smooth and spreadable in the refrigerator).

Welcome Fall, y'all! Oh, and ROLL TIDE...we'll be christening the girls' new football jerseys for the start of the season on Saturday!

It's just so cool that the girls are old enough to partake in a lot more festivities this season...and I intend to make the most of it!