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February 28, 2011

It's Not You, It's Me...

I’ve never exactly been the target audience for Marie Claire magazine. I describe it as very “Sex in the City,” and I don’t live in The City, among other things…

Nonetheless, I’ve been a loyal subscriber for close to 10 years.

I’ve never owned a pair of Louboutins, or paid more than $100 for a handbag, but the fashion and the photography is still interesting to me. I have been introduced to several new artists and authors from their “Must Do” lists, including Amos Lee, and that alone justifies the subscription fees I paid over the years. And I always appreciate the focus on women’s issues, particularly around the world.

My subscription is up for renewal, though, and I’ve been dragging my feet in writing the check. I have more magazines coming each month than I can feasibly read, and should this one continue to make the list?

Last Thursday was a cold and dreary day. The rain set in early and continued all day without a break. Hubby wasn’t going to be home in time to eat supper with us, much less give me a break from the daytime routine. I had staged more picnics, constructed more puzzles, sang more songs, and read more books than I could count that day.

I.could.not.do.it.anymore.

Digging deep for inspiration, I wondered if the girls would be interested in leafing through a magazine with me. Marie Claire was on the top of the heap. The three of us snuggled up together in front of the rain soaked window, the girls eager for something new.

I opened the magazine and began pointing out things of interest…

…purse…umbrella…shoes…hairbow…purse…scarf…purse…shoes…puppy doggy (at last! in a preppy ad also featuring a golf cart)…purse…shoes…flowers…purse…um, oops, let’s turn the page…purse…shoes…not sure what that is…hey, another purse!

The girls were very interested in the new material…they, too, were probably enthralled by looking at something other than zoo animals by that point in the day.

But the experience left me a little “empty”.

Three hundred pages, 247 purses, 189 pairs of shoes, a lot of crazy hair and makeup, and one lone puppy doggy.

I know I’ll miss reading about some of the women’s issues…and I’ll definitely miss the feeling of “sophistication” when that artsy cover arrived in my mailbox each month…

…but for this stage in my life, I think magazines like Redbook, Good Housekeeping, and Parents are more suited to me.

So Marie, it’s not you, it’s me. Keep on keepin’ on, though…with your purses and your shoes and your relative lack of puppy dogs.

Maybe I’ll be back one day, to check out the latest handbags – when I’m no longer toting a ginormous diaper bag – and get some recommendations on new music to explore – when I have time to listen to music, that is.

February 27, 2011

These are a Few of Our Favorite Books...

The Question of the Week on Multiples and More is about your children’s favorite books.

I’ve blogged several times about the evolution of our bookshelf…I’ve learned that what holds the girls’ attention definitely changes over time...and sometimes it takes some experimentation to figure out what volumes to dust off next.

When the girls were infants, for example, they sat through at least a couple of John Grisham books – anything to fill the hours of “awake time” every day.

And then at some point I found myself buying time with Cheerios while the girls sat in their highchairs and I read the likes of Alice in Wonderland.

During the girls’ entire first year, and through the first couple of months of their second year, my reading fell on seemingly deaf ears. I persevered, hoping that hearing my animated voice, at least on some level, was beneficial for the girls.

It was such a feeling of joy when I finally discovered the girls loved picture books, when they were 13 or 14 months old. That was about the time that they really started adding to their vocabulary of baby sign language. And although I wouldn’t call it “reading” per se, they loved to look through books and point out different animals and objects.

Over a period of three or four months, it was so amazing when those picture books very gradually turned into short stories. At last, we were really “reading” again…and this time, the girls actually seemed to be following me…without being tied down and bribed with breakfast cereal!

These days, the girls’ attention spans continue to increase (relatively speaking, and if I time it right!). We still scan through some books quickly, looking at pictures, but more and more they’re content to listen to longer story lines. I’m loving it!

Curious George is a huge favorite with the girls right now. We have two big compilations of adventures, each with eight or 10 stories, and they also have several small board books.

The girls also love Mother Goose rhymes. With very little prompting, they can probably recite 10 or 12 already!

We also enjoy our fair share of alphabet books. I know it’s just memorization at this point, but the girls can name at least five words that start with every letter of the alphabet (although sometimes I have to break into my sing-song animated voice to prompt them, “Big O, little o, what begins with O?” …and they sometimes confuse owls with ostriches, but I think they’ll figure it out in due time).

At bedtime, we have a handful of favorites that we cycle through each week…Guess How Much I Love You, Have You Seen My Purr?, Love Is a Handful of Honey, Bunny’s Noisy Book. There are many nights when the girls seem to love the familiar cadence, knowing every word on the page. Other nights, when they’re a bit more restless, I can challenge them to find something new on every page, and we can usually spot a grasshopper or mushroom or something we haven’t discussed before.

I still have all my books from when I was a child. I’ve shared them only sparingly over the past year, though, since the girls can reach out and touch as quick as lightning strikes.

I am looking forward to sharing more of the same stories my mom read me – especially the Raggedy Ann and Andy series, and the many adventures of Uncle Wiggly, which really stand out in my childhood memory bank.

I’m trying to be patient, though, both for the girls’ attention spans to increase, as well as for those roving hands to stay more securely tucked in their laps.

February 26, 2011

What I Love About Blogging

Well, there are a lot of things I love about blogging, but one of best parts is definitely the awesome folks I’ve met from around the country and around the world…and the fantastic sense of community I feel among us.

There’s a blog award that’s been circulating in my little circle of blog friends. Thank you so much to THREE of my favorite bloggers for awarding it to me!

Andrea of The Mays Twins
Mandy of Hoping for Hoberts
Holly Ann of Twins Plus One, Three Times the Fun

I so appreciate these wonderful ladies thinking of me, but equally cool I think is the illustration of the community of ladies we belong to. I love connecting with and learning from new people, and I think that connection is strengthened many times over when we have common friends.

It’s just amazing to me to see people learning from each other, referencing each other’s families and taking joy in each others’ adventures. I truly feel like I’m a better mom, learning from other mothers whom I really respect…and knowing I’m not alone in this awesome challenge called Motherhood.

Here’s to many more shared adventures…and in the meantime, please feel free to talk amongst yourselves. :)

February 25, 2011

Fab 5 Friday...and ME!

By all accounts it’s been a pretty fabulous week at A&B Enterprises…

1) We had a great family dinner out on Saturday night. It’s just so pleasant to be able to share a meal together where everyone enjoys their food and is content in their surroundings. {happy sigh}

2) While we were eating on Saturday night, a man sneezed in another part of the restaurant. Baby B said, “Bless you, somebody!”

3) The girls starting sitting on the potty (“like big girls”) this week…per their request! They haven’t produced any output yet, but they are so proud of themselves nonetheless!

4) First at Hubby’s urging, and then of their own accord throughout the day, the girls wished me “Happy Burfday” over and over on Wednesday. At one point I knelt next to Baby A and told her, “You are Mommy’s sweetest birthday present ever.” Baby B, without missing a beat, piped up, “[Baby B] sweetest birthday present, too!”

5) Just this week the girls have started to use the words “maybe” and “probably”. On Thursday morning I asked Baby A if she was going to make stinkies on the potty like a big girl. She said, matter-of-factly, “Yeah, probably.

And what did I do for ME this week?

My birthday fell on Wednesday this year, so I have a couple of “birthday happies” planned for this weekend.

This past week, I’d have to point to the time I devoted to scrapbooking as my “me” time. I am finally caught up (relatively speaking) on a few other things on my list…AND I’m so proud to say I have organized my scrapbooking materials once and for all…so it’s been such a pleasure to spread out and construct a few pages. The only challenge is that I have to watch the clock…I could get lost in it for hours if I weren’t careful!

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February 24, 2011

Date Night Ideas

The first thing that pops into my head at the mention of “date night” is a baby sitter (or house sitter, in our case, after the girlies are in bed), wearing some grown-up clothes (i.e. changing out of my yoga pants), and a nice dinner out.

Sure, that may be an “ideal” date night, but I discovered within the last year that’s not the only way to have one.

Although we didn’t call them such at the time, Hubby and I started having date nights at home back during football season. Whereas we missed most of Alabama’s games in 2009, when the girls were infants, we were more organized this past season. We recorded the games to watch in their entirety after the girls were sleeping soundly upstairs.

Of course that meant I had to limit my online exposure during the day, lest I accidentally see a comment on Facebook that would clue me in to the outcome of the game. Oh, and if you called our house during the day, I would say, “If you know the score of the Alabama game, please don’t say anything – we’re taping it!”…before I even said “hello”.

Anyhoo, for each of the games we taped, I spent the days ahead preparing our game day feast.

Although I generally have a strong aversion to the mere mention of the word “Velveeta” (or more generically, "processed cheese spread"), I put my heebie-jeebies aside and made traditional Rotel dip, served with chips and homemade hot wings, for the season opener, for example.

One game we did a Mexican theme with 9-layer bean dip, black bean chili, and homemade guacamole. One week we opted for a more "sophisticated” menu, featuring stuffed mushrooms and bleu cheese-bacon dip.

We would dress in our crimson finest and [quietly] cheer on the Tide [albeit on a six-hour delay].

Those were fun nights…while we weren’t tailgating on the Quad and cheering on the Tide with 100,000 of our closest friends, we were still doing something we’d always loved to do. We were enjoying one of our long-favorite pastimes, and we were enjoying each other.

And as much fun as we had on those nights, another big part of the fun was the planning and the anticipation of it in the days leading up to our “date”.

I love reading about Megan’s Date Night Challenges. Taking some inspiration from her and a handful of others, here are some more at-home date night ideas that I compiled for our most recent Mothers of Multiples meeting…

Throwback night…what did you do for fun before kiddos? New Orleans was “our place”…so we might whip up some jambalaya and some bread pudding to a soundtrack of zydeco music, and look through our picture album after dinner

Make S’mores and set up “camp” on the living room floor.

Create a picnic on the back porch, complete with a blanket and basket.

Game night! Up the ante by saying the loser has to give the winner a back massage, or let him/her sleep in the following morning!

Turn off the TV, put on some music, and linger over a candlelit dinner (even if it’s not fancy). Most of us don’t realize how quickly we have to eat most of our meals while we’re juggling the needs of our kiddos!

Enjoy breakfast in bed (for supper). You may not be able to swing B-in-B in the mornings, but eggs and bacon and pancakes (and maybe a mimosa) taste pretty good any time of day!

Rent a movie, pop some buttery popcorn, and indulge in your favorite movie candy.

Set up a super-duper ice cream sundae station (and don’t forget the whipped cream!).

Test out some aphrodisiac foods…whether they “work” or not, you can have fun trying them out!

You can even do these on a budget, too. And don’t let a $10 limit cramp your style…let it inspire you to be creative. For me, the planning (and the anticipation) is half the fun!

February 23, 2011

A Bit About Me, Birthday Edition

So on the 23rd day of each month I’ve been sharing a couple of random tidbits about myself…leading up to my birthday – TODAY! – on February 23rd.

I’ll go ahead and add my birthday tidbits, and then we’ll step back and see what we can surmise from the randomness…

13) My name is Mandy. It’s not short for Amanda, or Miranda…just plain, straight-up Mandy.

Both my parents have names that require some explanation. My mom’s name is unisex, but with a feminine spelling, which people very rarely got right. My dad goes by a derivation of his middle name, which no one would ever guess. They were bound and determined for me not to suffer the same fate, having to explain and correct folks my entire life.

But alas, I’ve always had to convince people that my name isn’t a shortened form of a longer name! Oh, well…at least they tried!

14) I love to skate. Some of my favorite birthday party memories from my childhood are from the skating rink. And last year for my birthday, a few girlfriends surprised me with a late dinner downtown…followed by skating!!!

We had a blast…but I have to admit it was a bit awkward, too. We were the oldest folks there by probably 20 years. And while my friends had dressed in jeans, I had on dress pants, of course having no idea where the night was going!

They were playing heavy rap music at the rink. My friends kept requesting Bon Jovi for the birthday girl. C’mon…what self-respecting skating rink wouldn’t have a little JBJ, right??? Finally the DJ conceded, but he played one of the newer slow songs (“Make a Memory”). The entire floor cleared of all the youngsters, and we had the place to ourselves for five minutes. HA!

It was so much fun, but I definitely felt my age – and my responsibility level – as I kept reminding myself to be careful, knowing I couldn’t risk a broken hip!


So, in looking back over the past few months…

1) I studied Russian language in college.
2) I love measuring spoons.
3) I heart San Francisco.
4) As a child, I wanted to *be* Crystal Gayle.
5) I’ve never been to Disneyworld.
6) I spent my career in consumer packaged goods marketing.
7) I can bake a mean cookie.
8) I’m not a movie person.
9) I am a band nerd at heart.
10) I have no idea if I’m a “morning” person or a “night” person.
11) I can’t stand for my husband’s sock- and underwear drawers to be disorganized.
12) I once drove 350 miles in the middle of the night in a rental car with three complete strangers to make a business meeting the next morning.

I think there are several items that underscore my drive (or OCD, as some might call it...). And there may be a couple that suggest I appreciate the finer things in life, like measuring spoons, and homemade cookies, and the beauty of San Francisco (and admit it – Crystal Gayle’s hair!).

Happy birthday to me! I’m looking forward to spending the day with my girlies and ordering pizza (a very rare treat these days) for supper. I have a few little things to look forward to this weekend, too. Life is good!

February 22, 2011

When You're Older...

It’s no secret that I have the Gift of Gab, and I put that "gift" to full use when I interact with the girls.

When they were infants, I used to narrate to them all the time. I swear I gave daily dissertations on such subjects as folding towels and the variety of canned goods available at our local supermarket.

Since the girls started to become verbal, I’ve tried to back off a bit, at least during parts of the day…I have to remind myself to let them get a word in edgewise!

I’m still pretty famous for affirming what they say and elaborating on it, though. For example, one of the girls might say, “Mommy wear[ing] earrings!

And I might say, “Yes, that’s right! Mommy is wearing earrings! These earrings are gold and silver. Your daddy gave them to me a long time ago, before you were even born! Aren’t they pretty? One day, when you’re older, you can have earrings, too!

I hope that I’m helping the girls work towards the development of more complex communication…but, in truth, for all I know, the girls may have wanted to take that “conversation” in a completely different direction.

Well, I guess they’d just better learn to elaborate themselves, then, huh?

Anyway, I recently realized I must have been saying “when you’re older” quite a bit. The girls picked up on it, and they’ve recounted quite a list of things that they’ll be able to have / do “when older”…

“[Baby A, Baby B] have pretty piggy toes when older!” Yes, you’re right! You can have your toenails painted like Mommy when you’re older.

[Baby A, Baby B] ride bicycle when older!” Yes, you’re right! You will get to ride a bicycle when you’re older. Then Baby A added “Ride bicycle fast!” tonight. I’m not so sure about that one…I probably need to add a caveat about wearing a helmet when they’re older, too.

[Baby A, Baby B] have puppy doggy when older!” Hmmm…I guess I did say that at some point. Note to self: be more careful not to make promises you’re not sure you can keep. These kiddos are listening to what you say!

[Baby A, Baby B] wear bra when older!” Huh???

The girls have developed a fascination with my bra lately. They always remark when I put one on in the mornings. They often ask to see it, or just help themselves to peer down my shirt if they’re in my lap. They are also fond of noting who isn’t wearing a bra, like their daddy, and the cat (seriously!).

I guess I’m pleased that they’re observant and interested in the finer details in life…but I am not prepared to talk to my girls about training bras just yet. I really thought I had at least another ten years!!!

February 20, 2011

My Heart Grows Bigger with Every Year...

We didn't make it out for a family dinner last weekend for Valentine's Day, so we took the girls to a restaurant downtown last night for a belated celebration.

We actually didn't mention anything about Valentine's Day, as I have been working all week to reiterate that "Valentine's Day is over"...but I just had to find an opportunity for the girls to wear the polka-dot dresses I bought them last year on clearance with this specific holiday in mind!

Here's my favorite picture from the evening, as we made a quick stop through Fountain Square on our way to dinner...the girls were on a mission to get to the fountain to see the water!


And, because I CANNOT RESIST a good photo-comparison opportunity (!!!), of course we took pictures before we left the house.

From teeny-tiny babies...
...to bigger babies...
...to little girls!
Gulp! How in the heck did this happen so suddenly?!!!

I'm just hanging on for the ride, loving my sweetest little valentines every day, with all my heart!

February 19, 2011

Cheap is Good, but FREE is Great (and Other Random Pregnancy Advice)

When I was pregnant, I of course got all sorts of random advice from people I knew, and even people I didn’t. Everyone wants to tell you about their favorite blanket, or bib, or bottle…or, in the case of one girl I knew peripherally at work…the best place in town to buy sidewalk chalk.

I remember smiling politely as she stopped me in the hall one day to tell me about a particular dollar store that has “the best selection of sidewalk chalk and stickers…you’ll need lots of those one day,” she said.

Hmmm…as I’m waiting to find out the gender of my babies in my ultrasound next week, trying to figure the optimal placement of two cribs in our tiny nursery, and downing as many peanut butter-banana sandwiches as possible…let me make a note of that!

Actually, I did store that little tidbit of information in the far recesses of my mind somewhere, and I called upon it several months ago when I introduced the girls to stickers. Sure enough, they love them. And sure enough, I need a lot of them. That dollar store does have a nice assortment, and I’ve stocked up there on a couple of occasions.

Knowing the girls enjoy playing “paper-stickers”, my aunt said she had a lot of those free address labels that you so frequently get in the mail. Did I want them for the girls?

At first, I thought that was a little strange, that they wouldn’t want to play with long, skinny stickers with our names and addresses…but I decided to give it a try.

Sure enough, the girls don’t mind at all! Most of the stickers have pictures of animals (as we may have once-upon-a-time made donations to the likes of PETA and the ASPCA). And I discovered a GI-normous stack of labels, just begging to be cleaned out of my junk drawer!

I’m so glad I stumbled upon this little gem! But I am going to resist the temptation to pass this really random knowledge along to the next pregnant lady I spy in the grocery store.

***
One of my favorite recent pictures of the girls is in a just-for-fun photo contest this week on Multiples & More.

Click here to check out the all the cuteness (and cast a vote for Baby A and Baby B, if you're so inclined!). :)

February 18, 2011

Fab 5 Friday...and ME!

In addition to all the fabulous-ness surrounding Valentine’s Day, there was lots more to go ‘round this week…

1) We took the girls out to get frozen yogurt on Sunday afternoon (this is sounding like a delicious broken record, no???...but I love it!!!). They fed themselves from their own bowls, with their own spoons – they’re such big kids!!! Baby A sat in my lap, and I finished my yogurt about the same time she did hers. Baby B sat with Hubby, though, and she finished ahead of him. She promptly said, Want other one,” pointing to his bowl when she was done with hers! Her eye is on the prize, I tell you!

2) The weather here has been so nice, particularly after weeks of snow and ice and few trips into the great outdoors. The girls and I have gone for a walk every single day. It’s incredible how much fresh air does all our bodies good!

3) I’m amazed at how much more “completely” the girls are talking…with articles and conjunctions and everything!!! Baby A pointed to a t-shirt I was wearing and said, “Flower on Mommy’s shirt!

4) Baby B surprised us on Thursday night as she sat on her daddy’s lap. During the summer and fall when he wore shorts, we talked about his legs being “furry like Sasha [the cat]”. We haven’t said that in probably two months, but B noted yesterday, “Daddy furry like Sasha!” Bwahaha!!!

5) Baby B volunteered something on Thursday, surprising me with what she knew. I said, “Wow, you just know everything!” And to that, she said, “Amen!

And what did I do for ME this week??? (I actually have TWO BIG indulgences to report…a mama could get used to this!!!)

On Friday night, the hubs and I went to a nice dinner downtown. We hadn’t done that since before the holidays, so it was wonderful to linger over an appetizer, and bread, and dinner…followed by a little quality time at Starbucks for “dessert”.

And then, on Saturday, I met one of my BFFs for a late lunch (after I put the girls down for a nap). We indulged at our favorite Mexican dive (extra jalapenos for me!), and then we indulged some more with a yummy pedicure. And we even had time for coffee and a cookie before I was due back home. Heaven!!!

And the icing on the cake? When I got home on Saturday afternoon, the girls noticed my pink toe nail polish (in comparison to the red I had been sporting). They declared, “New piggy toes!

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This has seriously been an awesome week...hope yours was, too! :) :)

February 15, 2011

Sweets for My Sweeties

We've never been big "gifters" for Valentine's Day (or really any other occasion, for that matter)...but since the girls were born, I love doing little things to make certain days special.

For the last couple of weeks, we've been reading two Valentine's books that I bought the girls for their first Valentine's Day. (I forgot to bring the books out last year, and it definitely tugged at my heart strings the first time I read them this year...realizing they were just a few weeks old the last time they heard the story of little Bunny Gray!)

The girls practiced saying "Happy Valentine's Day" (and were pretty good with it, too!), and they made several Valentine cards using pink and red crayons and heart stickers. (Mommy then mounted their artwork on Valentine scrapbook paper to polish it off.)

We actually celebrated Valentine's Day over two days...to be able to include Daddy on Sunday...and to spread the girls' sugar intake over a couple of days. :)

On Sunday morning I made my not-quite-world-famous cinnamon bread, sprinkled with a little pink sugar for the occasion.

The girls were so excited to see their breakfast served in new heart-shaped bowls...


...and they quickly decided the bread tasted as good as it looked.


And, perhaps in a bit of a sugar coma afterwards, I captured a little bit of sweet sass in their Valentine's Day tees.


Sunday afternoon we went out for frozen yogurt, and then I made garlic cheddar chicken and homemade macaroni and cheese for supper. (And what says "LOVE" like garlic and cheese???)

Monday we had a pretty typical day, but we did finish off our Valentine's Day celebration with chocolate-covered strawberries. I quartered a strawberry for the girls and dipped just the front side into chocolate. They were in heaven! (And their daddy and I enjoyed ourselves, too!)


We didn't make it out to dinner over the weekend, so the girls haven't worn their white corduroy dresses with the red polka-dots. I hope to rectify that this coming weekend...so maybe our Valentine's Day will be actually be celebrated over the course of a week.

Throw in some more chocolate-covered strawberries, and I think that sounds like a pretty good plan!

Disconnected, Out of Touch, Yet Productive

...that describes the past three days for me sans computer.

Our computer has long been developing a bit of a limp. On Saturday, she stumbled and fell, and I couldn’t pick her back up. It was time to call in the experts.

Of course I wouldn’t let my children limp around for months with just a little Band-Aid here, a kiss of a boo-boo there…but there just never was a good time to commit The Computer for the necessary off-site rehabilitation.

She made the decision for us on Saturday, though, and it was time to have her committed for a little R&R.

I don’t generally consider myself to be so reliant on any one thing (well, except my dishwasher…and Heaven forbid she ever decide to catch cold!!!), but life without my computer was actually a bit challenging.

I wanted to take the girls for a walk on Monday morning, but I didn’t know what the temperature was. I actually had to walk outside to see for myself.

On Monday afternoon, I just assumed the weather was as nice as it had been on Sunday, so we loaded up wearing only shirtsleeves for a trek to the grocery store. When I realized it was a full 10 degrees cooler than I anticipated – and my children were without jackets – I had to walk really fast to get them in the store…past judgmental stares from other mothers, grandmas, and even one high-school girl. Gah!

I wanted to drop Aunt Alison a sweet little “Happy Valentine’s Day” note, just to say I hope she was having a good day. I actually had to pick up the phone and call her, instead. How archaic.

I thought about going to Hobby Lobby, but how would I know what their sales were for the week? And forget making a regular-price purchase without their standard (email-issue) 40% off coupon!

I needed to call Shutterfly to place an order for a photo book using a coupon that was about to expire…but I didn’t have my coupon code, much less Shutterfly’s phone number. Fail!

That side dish I thought about making for supper? Forget about it…recipe contained in my online recipe box.

And I was relegated to looking the Valentine’s Day pictures of my girls, all decked out in their pink heart tees, on the tiny screen on my digital camera. I am SO itching to download them so I can relive the sugar-coated moments!

There was an upside to my disconnection, though…in that I was actually pretty productive!

I got caught up on some handwritten correspondence (yes, with a pen!). [A couple of you will be receiving very belated “Happy Holidays” cards in the mail from me. Note that I am considering the “Holidays” to encompass all celebrations through Mardi Gras.]

AND I got six months’ worth of photographs sorted, filed, and put into albums. Woo hoo!

I’ll try to use this experience as a reminder of balance…maybe I can set up a spreadsheet (on my computer) to track it.

February 12, 2011

SNOW: Making Progress

The girls were born in January, and we had several snows that winter. One of my friends couldn’t believe we didn’t get a picture of the girls’ first snowfall. “Just bundle them up and run them outside for a second to snap a picture,” she suggested.

At that point in the girls’ lives, they rarely left the confines of our bedroom…much less made it downstairs…MUCH LESS to the front porch! NO WAY was I exposing their little lungs to cold air!!!

Last winter, when the girls were a year old, we again had several snowfalls. By then I wanted to bundle the girls and at least take them for a little walk (us holding them, as they didn’t have their first pair of shoes until the following spring!), but Hubby wasn’t having anything of it. He was still extremely cautious of their lungs…and getting them cold…and what if we stumbled…and the snow was bright and might hurt their eyes…and...and...and...

One day, as there was still snow on the ground but the temperatures were in the 40’s, I finally insisted we at least get the girls’ pictures made outside to a backdrop of white. Hubby wasn’t thrilled with the prospect, but he finally relented.

We ran the girls outside, one at a time, for a quick photo op. When I bent down to let one of them touch the snow, I thought Hubby was going to drop the camera and charge, to swoop in and rescue her before she surely got frostbite. The crisis was narrowly averted, though, and I finally got the girls’ first snow pictures.



We’ve had – relative to this part of the world – a lot of snowfall to date this year. We finally agreed to let the girls out to play it in…albeit in a very guarded way…this week.

Daddy cleared the drive on Thursday morning. We were able to let the girls stand on the concrete – mostly keeping their feet out of the snow – and play in the snow on the grass.

Being the southerner I am, I grabbed the girls’ sand buckets and shovels to play…it actually worked like a charm! They had a BLAST shoveling snow!!! And their little hands stayed dry, too!



In fairness, whereas the girls didn’t have shoes this time last year, they are now the proud owners of some woolly suede boots…but they don’t have waterproof mittens, nor do they have snowsuits.

I’m planning to make the investment in actual snowsuits and gloves next year so that we can continue to make progress towards playing in the snow. I figure at this rate, we’ll SO be building a snowman by the time the girls are five!!!

February 11, 2011

Fab 5 Friday...and ME!

Lots of great stuff in this fabulous week!!!

1) On Friday, Miss Jennifer, a college student whose parents live in our neighborhood, came over for a couple of hours to play with the girls. (We’re planning to make it a weekly thing, to give the girls exposure to someone else…and to give this mama a little break – hallelujah!) The girls had a blast. When it was time for her to go, little Baby B’s lip even started to tremble.

2) Among other things, Miss Jennifer introduced them to the “Banana Phone” song. They’ve been holding their plastic banana to their ears and trying to sing it ever since…and I have to admit, it’s addictive!

3) On Saturday night, we took the girls out to eat. For the first time, we took their little forks and let them eat off real plates. They were such big kids!

4) On Wednesday, thanks to yet another snow day (we’re up to 14 this year...gah!), Daddy was home. We took the girls to lunch at our favorite sushi restaurant. We’ve been in the habit of going to dinner about once a week, but going out for lunchonce an every-other-day kinda habit – is now such a rare treat.

5) On Thursday, the girls having turned 25 months old, we finally let them outside to play in the snow a bit. I didn’t know how they’d react, but they couldn’t get enough of digging with their beach shovels, filling their sand pails. And when we’d had enough, they both slurped down a cup of warm milk faster than I think I’ve ever seen…it just made my heart smile.

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

One of my BFFs (Aunt Shanda) is playing Lady Capulet in the public theatre’s production of Romeo and Juliet. I went with another of my BFFs (Aunt Karen) to see her on Friday night, after the girlies were in bed. It was so nice to see an actual big-people production…and to enjoy a refreshment together downtown after the show. I felt like such a big girl, wearing my high-heeled boots and everything!

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P.S. If I haven't said it lately, thanks so much to Dolli-Mama for hosting this awesome weekly challenge. It really makes me think about what I'm going to do for ME each week...and I think that's a good thing!

February 10, 2011

The Trouble with Twins

Once upon a time, I didn’t believe anything could actually be easier with twins…I swore that two babies were way more than just twice the work…it had to be at least triple!

But then, somewhere after the girls graduated from the newborn stage, I actually identified some areas that were likely easier with twins.

For one, there are certain economies of scale. Our girls share a banana in the morning – and if I only had one child, what in the world would I do with a random half a banana sitting around???

And over the past several months, I have definitely appreciated how the girls play together (relatively speaking, at least some of the time). At two years old, they’re certainly not to the point that they’re sitting down and playing a competitive game of chess, but they do “cook” together in their kitchen, cuddle their babies together on their little couch, and occasionally they even cooperate to build a tower of blocks together (until one knocks it down and viola! a new game is born!).

Yes, there are definitely some things that are easier with twins.

But lately I’ve been feeling a couple of areas – aside from the logistical challenges that mostly characterized those newborn days – in which having twins presents quite a challenge.

One is in consequence-based discipline. At our house, if you throw a toy across the gate, for example, you lose the privilege of playing with that toy for the day. It doesn’t usually seem to be a huge deal…if Baby B throws a spoon from their kitchen, there are several other utensils to play with during the day.

But it broke my heart a few days ago when Baby A threw a particular doll across the gate. I picked it up right away and gave it lots of hugs and kisses, reminding the girls that it’s not nice to throw the baby…thank goodness she was OK. I put the doll on the kitchen table, in sight of the girls, but out of their reach.

Poor Baby B had a meltdown. She loves her babies so much, and I couldn’t bear the thought of “punishing” her in not being able to cuddle her baby all day, when she had done nothing wrong. I gave the doll back to Baby B. She was very glad to be reunited with her baby, and by that time, Baby A was on to something else.

Our girls may still be a little young (???) to realize the consequences I'm trying to teach, but this such experience makes me realize I may have to think smarter than x = y when I'm dealing with more than one child.

Ugh…and just when I was beginning to feel some “ease”, too!

February 9, 2011

Step Aside and Hand Over That Camera!!!

Just before I was born, my dad invested in a state-of-the-art 35mm camera. He wanted to be able to document my first smile, my first ice cream cone, every Easter dress, and all the milestones in between.

And sure enough, there are scores of pictures of me from the time I came home from the hospital until I graduated high school.

Sort through those tomes of photographs, though, and there’s something quite noticeable missing…pictures of me with my parents.

What I wouldn’t give to see pictures of my mom making cookies with me in the kitchen, or of my dad and me erecting a tent in the front yard.

Fast forward about 30 years, and I, too, invested in a state-of-the-art camera before the girls were born, also set on documenting every hair on my precious babies' heads.

What I’m trying to do differently, though, is remind myself -- and my hubby -- that it’s equally important to capture some pictures of us with the girls.

It’s not as hard to think about turning on the camera when we’re all dolled up to go somewhere, or when we’re having a true "Kodak moment" – like baking cookies together. But I try to think about turning it on when nothing special is happening, too.

Frankly, when “nothing special is happening”, I often look less than picture-perfect. I may have on my crazy sock monkey pants, my hair may not be looking its best, and I might not even have on makeup (theoretically speaking, of course…). But I try to remind myself that my girls will likely appreciate that “slice of life” one day.

They’ll enjoy seeing us piled up together, reading books, as we do a hundred times a day…they’ll laugh thinking about the picnics we staged for their puppy doggies in front of the fireplace.

They’ll enjoy being reminded of building impossibly high towers with Daddy…and they’ll smile nostalgically as they see pictures of him cuddling their baby dolls.

I’m quite sure they’ll appreciate seeing all those things, even if Mommy’s hair looks a little ratty and Daddy appears not to have shaven in a few days.



So even when you don’t feel like subjecting yourself to the flashbulb, step aside occasionally and hand over that camera for someone else to take a few shots. Your children will thank you for it one day.

February 7, 2011

How Watching Reality TV Made Me a Better Mom...

...check out my guest post today at Mommy Monologues!

And while you're there, check out my friend Kate. She's a fantastic writer and an awesome mom to 20-month old Lboy. She writes about motherhood, yes, and also some pretty inspiring stuff about life's lessons, big and small. And she's funny, to boot. Oh, and I can't forget to mention her pampered pint-sized pooch, Giorgio! :)

February 6, 2011

I Don't Know about Twin ESP...

I am arguably one of the world’s soundest sleepers. It’s nothing for me to sleep through major storms or telephones ringing in the middle of the night.

And when the girls were babies, once they moved out of our room to their nursery, I kept the monitor right beside my head – at full volume. Particularly in my sleep-deprived state, I sometimes still wouldn’t wake to their cries. It would take Hubby punching me, saying, “Don’t you hear? Someone’s crying!

That holds for nighttime, but not for naptime. It’s hard for me to sleep unless the girls are sound asleep, and I never seem to fall into a very deep sleep, either.

Last Monday, I wasn’t feeling great. I needed a nap during the girls’ naptime, and I didn’t need to hear their “chatter” over the monitor. I turned it down to the lowest level, figuring I could hear if something was really wrong, but I could otherwise rest in relative peace.

That night I went to bed and forgot to turn the monitor volume back up.

In the middle of the night, still not feeling well myself, I woke up to the faintest little sound. It was the sound of Baby B’s most pitiful voice. “Mommy coming? Mommy coming?

She wasn’t crying, or yelling, or even calling out for me. She was just asking, ever so quietly, if Mommy was coming to take care of her.

I went to check on her, and the poor baby had gotten sick in the night. She just wanted her mommy to cuddle her and make her feel better.

I have no idea how I heard her calling for me. She wasn’t sick when she went to bed, so I didn’t even know to be listening for her.

I occurred to me later…I don’t know about “Twin ESP”, but that’s evidence of “Mama ESP” enough for me...and that's better than any baby monitor, even at full volume.

February 5, 2011

Following Directions (Kind of...)

For a couple of months now, the girls have gotten a lot of enjoyment from scribbling on paper with washable markers and crayons, and from "playing stickers", as they say.

I would sit with the girls and ask them what color they would like to use, or direct them to put a sticker in a particular part of their paper.

Over the past few days I decided to try to introduce a little more structure into some of their "art" time.

I knew the girls enjoyed seeing me draw...seemingly in awe of my uncanny ability to draw a house (if only it would always be so easy to amaze them with my talents...hahaha!!!).

I stood over each of them and divided their paper into four quadrants. In each a drew a simple shape (circle, square, triangle, heart); and another day, some simple figures.

They squealed as they saw the kitty appear before their eyes. :)

Then I handed them each an orange crayon and asked them to color their sunshine orange. Baby A did great with the first three pictures, scribbling in the right place, but she seemed to lose interest before she got her house colored red.

Baby B was a little more "free form"...I think she enjoyed having the pictures on her paper, but she wanted to exercise her right to "color outside the lines". :)

After we finished our colors, I gave the girls one sticker at a time, and asked them to put it on a specific picture. By the fourth picture, I asked them to put a sticker on the roof of their house. Baby A particularly enjoyed this exercise.

And a little added bonus was that, by using a black marker on white paper, the girls discovered their could turn their paper over and play some more.

We'll still have lots of scribble time, I'm sure, but I'm so excited to see the girls willing to follow directions in a little more structured fashion.

February 4, 2011

Fab 5 Friday...and ME!

Here are just a few examples of why my week was fabulous...

1) I’m trying to find small opportunities for the girls to “practice” being outside their stroller in public. On Friday, I took them to the bank to make a quick transaction. I could have easily gone through the drive-through, but I thought it was a safe environment for practice…the bank isn’t that big, so how far could they run?!! They did great...they held my hands in the parking lot and walking in, and they stood close to me when I needed to sign the withdrawal slip. Of course the stickers that the bank teller gave them helped to occupy their little hands…but I still consider it a great success!

2) On Saturday night we took the girls to one of our favorite dives, a little “shabby-chic” place that makes fantastic sandwiches and homemade pizzas with mostly organic ingredients. It just so happened there was an Indie band (I think you’d call them???) playing. It wasn’t exactly my cup of tea, but the girls were jamming in their high chairs. Between that and the awesome pizza we shared, we had a fantastic evening.

3) We took advantage of the weather on Sunday, with temperatures in the 50’s, and took the girls to the park. It had been such a long time, but they remembered exactly which slide was their favorite. And it was so much fun to see how much easier they run – and kick the soccer ball! – versus our last visit in late fall.

4) Baby B had a little cold the first of the week, and I took her temperature a couple of times. Every time since then when she’s woken up – in the mornings and after naptime – she’s pointed to her bum and emphatically said, “No temperature!” It’s kinda pitiful, but just too cute.

5) Baby A made me laugh on Thursday. She was walking around, asking questions (to herself, I guess), “Where [Baby A’s] purse?” And then she would answer loudly, in a fit of giggles, “I don’t know!!!!!”

And what did I do for ME this week?

I slipped out during naptime on Sunday for some frozen yogurt. (I can’t get enough of that stuff lately!) Temps were in the 50’s, so I put on my flip-flops and my sunglasses, opened the sunroof and turned up the music. I cranked the heat up in the car – which always feels a bit wasteful – but it was so nice to “pretend” it was spring, at least for a few minutes!

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And last, but certainly not least, a big THANK YOU to Julia at Pontifications of a Twin Mom for passing along the Stylish Blogger Award to me!!! (Perhaps she saw me sporting my sunglasses and flip-flops, my hair blowing in the breeze...HA!) Julia's beautiful twin girls just turned one yesterday. Julia is a great writer, and a very inspiring mom, and I am so glad to have "met" her over the past couple of months.

February 3, 2011

A Little Bit of Frostbite Won't Hurt, Right???

RELAX! I’m talking about me, not the girls!

No, before I take the girls outside, I meticulously dress them…

…undershirts, shirts, pants, socks, jackets, and shoes…

…and I hope by the end of it all that no one has pooped their pants, lest we have to rinse and repeat.

Then I load the girls into the waiting car, one at a time, hoping in the meantime that no one has decided to speed-strip, undoing part or all of mommy’s hard work.

And then when we get where we’re going, where we’ll have to actually brave the elements, another couple of layers come on…

…hoods or hats, and in extreme conditions, mittens.

Then it’s time to wrangle my marshmallow-fluffy babies into their stroller, one that surely wasn’t designed for all the extra garb they’re sporting.

And then, when we make it into the grocery store, I take off a couple of outer layers…at least their mittens and hats, and unzip their jackets.

Whew!!!

Yeah, after going through that exercise a time or two, it’s no wonder my winter coats only see a fraction of the action they did before the girlies were born. Part of that, of course, is that I only go outside a fraction of the time I once did (!!!), but an even bigger part is that I just can’t manage it all…

…I just can’t manage to bundle the girls in all their marshmallow-y glory AND juggle my own boots, coat, and scarf.

If you see me out and about with the girls on a cold winter’s day, I am usually sporting a light jacket and slip-on shoes. If it’s really cold I might add a scarf, one that I can leave fashionably (or so I tell myself) tied around my neck while we shop.

I rationalize that I’ll just walk fast so it won’t hurt too much…

…and besides, with all my kiddo-wrangling, I usually end up sweating, anyway!

February 1, 2011

My Own Personal Groundhog Day

I think about Bill Murray and Sonny and Cher every single day. Doesn’t every mom of small children?



In so many ways, every day is painfully the same.

And while the incessant changing of diapers and scrambling of eggs…the countless trips up and down the stairs…the constant loop of kiddy songs doesn’t bother me 98.75% of the time, the unloading of the dishwasher ev.ery.sin.gle.morn.ing. often makes me want to bang my head on the counter. (Of course if I did that, I’d just have to clean up the mess, and then continue about my routine as if nothing happened, so I refrain.)

Yes, it’s easy to get caught in the monotony that is life, especially when you’ve worked so hard to get that life on a predictable schedule. And forget spontaneity! You move heaven and earth to keep from interrupting said schedule.

Although Monday does seem an awful lot like Thursday, which bears a striking resemblance to Saturday, every day holds so many new things, if we only look for them…

...new words and phrases and songs, and ever-evolving pronunciation…

…new knowledge and skills…

…new games of pretend…

…and just yesterday, for example, becoming proficient enough with a fork that Mommy let the girls eat lasagna in “good” shirts!

And there are plenty of things that I never tire of…

…seeing my baby girls’ precious faces the first thing every morning, their sweet smiles and their silly bed-head hair…

…baby laughter…

…seeing my girls enjoying each other…

…hugs and cuddles and snuggles…

...seeing my girls delight at the sight of a new book, or a favorite toy they haven’t seen in a while…

...hearing “Love you, Mommy!

I guess some parts of Groundhog Day aren’t so bad, afterall.

 
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