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April 30, 2011

Sticker Bingo

The girls like to "do artwork" every day. I try to break it up and direct them towards different types of activities...

Some days they practice "impressionism" with a blank piece of paper and crayons.

Some days I draw a few things on a piece of paper for them to color (or scribble across, as the case often is), or basic shapes, or write their names in big letters.

Some days I let them use markers, the biggest lure of which is washing their hands in the sink afterwards.

And occasionally, I'm even brave enough to let them use finger paints.

Whatever our medium, the girls usually ask for stickers at some point.

I try to make playing with stickers a constructive activity, at least every other day or so. If I've drawn different shapes on their paper, I might direct them, "Can you put a sticker on the square?" (...not that they always follow directions exactly...).

One activity we've been playing lately is what I call "Sticker Bingo". I draw a grid on a piece of paper, and ask the girls to put one sticker in each box.



This is a particularly good example (excepting one square with three stickers). They don't always turn out this good, but the girls seem to enjoy the game.

I don't think our girls are quite old enough for "crafts" yet, so I'm always on the lookout for little activities I can engage them in...I'd love to hear other ideas!

April 29, 2011

Fab 5 Friday...and ME!!!

Even amid a bit of crazy, there’s still plenty of fabulous to go ‘round!

1) The girls were (sorta-kinda) singing “The Farmer and the Dell”. I was so proud of them, until I realized that Baby B was saying, “The farmer takes the wipes.” She is her mother’s daughter, as I sure do love my wet wipes!

2) A couple of times over the past several months, when I’d have a little one-on-one time with one of the girls, I’d ask if she wanted to look at a cookbook. We’d pile up in the living room, which is normally off-limits, and look at all the delicious pictures, pointing out fruits and veggies and forks and spoons. Lately cookbooks have been a bit of a fascination with the girls…particularly if they’re upset, they’ve been saying, “Wanna look at cookbook!

3) On Saturday night, to celebrate our first day of potty training, we ordered a pizza. This was only the third time the girls have ever enjoyed this delicacy, yet they ate like seasoned pros. I don’t want to make a habit of it, but it sure was an awesome treat for us all.

4) During Week 1 of the Potty-capades, I’d vowed to stay at home. It’s been pretty easy, as we’ve had days upon days of rain…but on Tuesday afternoon, and again on Thursday, we were blessed with some sunshine. I chanced a 30-minute walk in the neighborhood with the girls, hand-in-hand, and it was WONDERFUL. The fresh air was fantastic, and the only “wet” was from stepping in a puddle!

5) Since it’s gotten a little warmer, I’ve been craving salad. Hubby and I have eaten a green salad with our dinners most nights this week, and I’ve given the girls about ¼ of a diced cucumber. They’ve gobbled it up, saying, “I love my salad!

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

For the past three weeks, I’ve been getting up early on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays to do a step aerobics workout, one that I haven’t done in at least a year. Most of my exercise for the past year has been with the jogging stroller, or an occasional solo jog. It’s been really nice to have a really intense cardio workout, all by my lonesome.

And (perhaps contrary to my working out!) I treated myself to a Dairy Queen Reese’s blizzard on Thursday night, also all by my lonesome. I had been thinking about that specific indulgence for days, and I thought I deserved it! And lemme tell you, it was some kinda good!

[Thanks to Dolli-Mama for hosting the 52 Weeks of ME! Challenge every week!]

April 28, 2011

The Wonder Weeks

Shortly after the girls were born, the book The Wonder Weeks was recommended to me.

It describes eight developmental milestones each baby should reach within her first eighteen months. The theory is that the verge of these milestones is a very vulnerable time for a baby…she knows something is happening to her, but she doesn’t understand what…and this generally leads to a period of fussiness as she organizes her newly-acquired skills into her control.

I didn’t actually get much use from the book. The milestones were outlined – of course – with the gestational age of a baby…and since preemies typically “catch up” between nine and 18 months, I was too overwhelmed at trying to gauge what would likely have been a sliding scale for the girls…times two.

Nonetheless, I appreciated the premise of the book. It makes sense to me in thinking how certain changes could be perceived as pretty overwhelming in the life of a child.

I hadn’t thought about the book in probably more than a year.

My sweet Baby A hasn’t quite been herself lately. She’s fine during the day – in fact she seems to be having a BLAST participating during the Potty-capades. :)

But waking up from naps and in the morning has been another story. My girls have always been content to wake up, chill out, and talk to themselves / each other for a little while. One of my favorite things during the past few months has been to listen to them for a few minutes over the monitor…you never know what you’re going to hear!

Baby A has been waking very abruptly, and crying right away, a very scared cry…nothing close to a “cry it out” cry where I think she’ll likely go back to sleep after a couple of minutes.

When I go in to see about her, she just wants to be cuddled and held.

It dawned on me a few days ago that she’s probably pretty uncertain about the changes her body is experiencing, and her new “responsibilities” in wearing big girl undies.

Potty training is not one of the developmental milestones outlined in the book, but I would gander that that logic still holds.

Like all the many milestones before these, I’ll continue to give Baby A lots of snuggles and reassurances…while I continue to reassure myself, like the fussy periods we’ve survived to date, that this, too, shall pass.

As my blogger friend Sara said a couple of days ago, “Potty on!

(And can I tell you how much that made me smile…once upon a time having been a big Wayne’s World fan…not to date myself, or anything…)

April 27, 2011

It's Cramping My Style...

…this whole potty-training thing…

…and I’m not just talking about my style, as in, “I’d like to venture outside the four walls of our house one day again…

…I’m actually talking about my style of discipline.

It doesn’t always hold for every situation, but when possible, I like to enforce consequences-based discipline. The girls need to understand that their actions breed consequences, and I try to do that in a very matter-of-fact way.

I try to take the emotion out of the situation, and – as much as I can – live by the words, “Never let ‘em see you sweat.” (Of course that’s much easier said than done sometimes!)

Throwing a toy over the baby gate means that toy goes bye-bye. I verbally reprimand the toy-thrower, “No, we do not throw toys,” and I set the toy across the gate, within her sight (so she doesn’t just forget about it).

Playing during mealtime means mealtime is over. I issue a warning, “If you play, it means you’re all done.” If the play continues, I remove the playful partygoer’s plate and allow her to sit in her highchair. I will give the her a second chance after a couple of minutes, but not a third.

I feel like this is really effective for our girls, and it’s something I can manage pretty well, too.

Where I’m getting hung up is with Baby A seeming to turn potty-time into a game.

In hindsight I made a big mistake by playing up the fact that she would get to help Mommy empty the potty chair into the toilet. In turn (I guess) she breaks her potty activity up into as many mini-sessions as possible. She will easily make five or six trips to empty a small amount of waste.

Occasionally I’ll put my foot down and tell her, “That’s not enough to empty,” but I feel like I have to tread so lightly.

My gut instinct is to use a familiar phrase and tell her, “If you play, it means you’re all done,” and put her undies back on and return her to the den…but I certainly don’t want to clean up the ramifications of her going in her pants. (With the handful of accidents she’s had, she hasn’t seemed too upset…so I don’t think the risk of a mess would be a big deterrent for her.)

As it is, I try to make the trip from the potty chair to the toilet as uneventful as possible…”Go directly to the toilet. Do not pass ‘Go’. Do not collect $200.” I am trying to be very matter-of-fact during these many trips, and only praise her when she’s actually finished.

And I’m trying to maintain my cool and “never let ‘em see me sweat”…even when I work up a true sweat from all the exercise.

I am plowing ahead, knowing that this phase, too, shall pass. I know that the novelty of a potty trip will eventually wear off, and Baby A will want to consolidate her business there so she can get back to her work at hand…like reading books, and playing puzzles, and building towers...

...or maybe she’s exhibiting early signs of a career in industrial engineering…the lure of the flushing toilet being far greater than any toy she’s ever seen.

April 26, 2011

Pathetic, I Know...but at Least I Learned Something

It happened gradually.

The girls first tagged along with me to my monthly hair appointment about a year and a half ago for Baby A’s first haircut. Six months later, they joined me again, both needing a trim.

Within the past six months, their hair has started growing so fast. They’re now coming with me for a trim every six weeks. And Hubby tags along to help juggle.

It happened so gradually that I didn’t immediately notice that something was missing from my world. It wasn’t until I found myself really looking forward to my dentist appointment that it dawned on me…

…where did my “me” time go?

Isn’t going to the salon supposed to be relaxing? Isn’t it a mama’s chance to sit back, maybe flip through a magazine, catch up with her hairdresser, and enjoy someone playing with her hair?

I know one day I’ll reclaim my hair appointment as mine. But until then, I guess I’ll have to make the most of my dental visits. The Little People can’t follow me there.

I had my dental cleaning yesterday, and – as much as is possible with someone’s hands in your mouth – I had a riveting conversation with my dentist.

We extolled the virtues of different kinds of floss…waxed versus unwaxed…satin glide…traditional floss versus dental picks.

[I think I might try those dental picks. Particularly during the winter months, I struggle with dry skin on my hands. I’ve gotten quite a few dental floss cuts on my forefingers, and I think those picks would eliminate that risk.]

And I always pick his brain on questions about the girls’ dental health. I thought I’d pass along this tidbit I learned…

He said that most pediatric cavities he sees are in the molars, usually between the teeth…and in the front teeth.

For the molars, it’s important to start flossing as early as possible. For the front teeth, watch how your kiddos are drinking…I’ve read that straws are actually helpful in getting liquids past the front teeth.

So there.

From me to you.

What I learned at the dentist…made possible since I was intent on making the most of the adult conversation time.

It’s a little pathetic, I know…but at least I learned something.

April 25, 2011

Another Case of Nature vs. Nurture...

…where Mother Nature reminds me she’s not to be dismissed!

I have often thought that having multiples highlights the “nature” side of the developmental equation.

If I had only one child, I surely would think that so much of what she did – or didn’t do – was a result of my influence over her...

…she doesn’t like asparagus? Clearly I didn’t eat it frequently enough when I was pregnant.

…she often prefers to hop like a bunny instead of walking in a straight line? I haven’t been playing enough classical music to allow her to properly organize her thoughts.

…she religiously skips the number fourteen every. single. time? Obviously I’m not enunciating when I count aloud.

…she whimpers like a puppy if bathwater gets anywhere near her face? I should have booked those infant swimming lessons after all.

But with twins, there’s a certain reassurance when you see that at least one of your kids can stack up blocks almost as high as her head, while the other can recite countless nursery rhymes.

It’s a reminder that – even with very similar stimulation – every child is different.

Our recent Potty-capades have been a great example of this. If you’d asked me a year ago about potty training, I would have told you that I hoped to have the girls trained by the time they were two. And of course I would do it at the same time.

Over the past year, I’ve continued to experience the ease of certain transitions if I am willing to wait until the girls are “ready”. That in mind, I didn’t even consider trying to train the girls before they turned two. They had shown no signs of readiness, so I certainly wasn’t going to stick my foot out there, sure to have it peed upon!

We were bee-bopping along this spring, when Baby A told me – out of the blue – that she needed to sit on the potty. That was about five weeks ago, and since that time we’ve warmed up to the potty bit by bit. Baby B showed a little [copycat] interest, which I indulged, but Baby A has led this initiative.

On Saturday morning I got the girls up and put a pair of undies on Baby A. She sat on the potty at least 50 times – I swear! – but she didn’t have the first accident! Baby B asked to wear undies over her diaper, and she asked sit on the potty a couple of times, although she didn’t have any successes.

I’ve exposed the girls equally to potty opportunities, but Baby A was just more “ready” than her sister. While I’d love to get this training business over in one fell swoop, I’m not going to try to push Baby B to meet her sister’s timeline.

This is just another example for me of the role of nature and the individual differences in each of my girls.

It’s up to me as their mother to recognize and “nurture” those differences to each of their growth and development.

***

For any of you keeping score, Day 2 didn’t go quite as smoothly as Day 1. Baby A had a total of four accidents, two of which required carpet cleaning. :) My guess is that it was a combination of the girls’ excitement over some of the Easter festivities (although we didn’t leave the house all day), along with my preoccupation with orchestrating said festivities.

Both nights, though, I put on the girls' nighttime diapers. Immediately before bed, Baby A asked to sit on the potty. It seems pretty huge in my mind that she doesn’t want to just go in her diaper.

Throughout the past two days, I've been so proud...

...proud of Baby A for being such a big girl...proud of Baby B for being [relatively] patient while her sister got a lot of attention during all those trips to the potty...and proud of myself for staying [relatively] calm, cool, and collected (and not even having to dip into my Emergency Preparedness Chocolate Stash!). Go, us!!!

April 24, 2011

Our Sweet Little Bunnies

The girls had such a fun time opening their Easter baskets this morning. They each got a board book, a Reese's egg, and a small tea set split between them.


I changed them out of their pretty dresses before I let them sample their chocolate, though!


They each enjoyed 1/4 of a Reese's egg. I think that's enough for the season...the rest is for ME! :)



Wishing you and yours a blessed Easter!

April 23, 2011

A Little About Me, April Edition

17) I’m rather particular about my pens. (And that might just be an understatement.)

Several years ago I landed upon a specific make and model of pens, and the universe suddenly began to align. The Extra Fine point on the Gel Roller [Pilot P-500 Series] glides seamlessly across the page with very little friction. It encourages my very best “book inscription” hand-writing when called for, while it also allows me to scribble a quick note in the blink of an eye. The precision of the Extra Fine point allows me to write very concisely to fill the lines in my calendar. All the while, I never worry about smudges or smears.

I buy these pens in packs of six, but I only take one pen from the pack at a time. I use it until the ink runs out, and only then do allow for replenishment.

Want to see me sweat? Move My Pen under a stack of papers, just when I need to make my grocery list. It’s not pretty. In a pinch I will succumb to using another [inferior] pen, but I feel rather askew until my trusty utensil is safely by my side.

Want to test my admiration for you? Ask me if you can borrow My Pen. I try to breathe deeply when it’s in someone else’s hands…but all the while I’m stealing glances to make sure they’re not applying too much pressure to as to bend the Extra Fine point…or – Heaven forbid! – trying to slip it in their purse when they think I’ve turned my head.

18) I’m so far from a techie.

I don’t have an iPod, or an iPad, or an iPhone. I listen to my music on CDs, and I have a bargain basement cell phone on which I’ve never sent a text message. (I used to have a Blackberry for work, but I dispensed with that two years ago.) I only bought a digital camera a couple of months before the girls were born.

I’m sure I would appreciate some of the technology, but I don’t have the time or want to spend the resources to upgrade my current systems. I know I’ll need to catch up with the world when the girls are a little older…but maybe by then they’ll be able to teach me how to use all the new-fangled equipment!

...and I Could Not Ask for More

We had some pictures taken before the holidays. Due to a series of circumstances, including a maze of two-lane roads and a gaggle of grazing cattle, I just got the disk today.

I think it was worth the wait...


...and I could not ask for more.

April 22, 2011

Fab 5 Friday...and ME!!!

Even amid the Potty-capades, I have to say we had a pretty fabulous week!

1) I never get enough of taking the girls to our favorite Mexican restaurant. They hadn’t been in a month or so, and they ate like they’d really missed it! And the icing on the cake? A man and his wife stopped by our table to comment on what well-behaved children we have. Pinch me now!


2) Several days this week the girls and I have gone for a walk hand-in-hand in the neighborhood. While I am still way too nervous to let go of their hands, even for a second, they’re doing such a great job…and they can walk quite a long way (about a mile!). Oh, and it doesn’t hurt my feelings when random people pull up beside us to tell me how cute the girlies are in their sunhats. :)

3) Looking at the weather forecast on Thursday afternoon, I thought it might be the last day for a while without rain. I decided to take the girls to get yogurt after their nap. We three shared a small cup, and then we went to Sam’s Club for some fresh fruit. We made our rounds there, and came home in time for a walk in the neighborhood. As we rounded the corner for home, Daddy had just pulled into the driveway, so we made the block again with him. Sweet, simple, healthy family fun makes my heart smile.

4) I counted Baby A as saying a nine-word sentence this week! (I didn’t write it down on time, so I can’t remember it exactly, but I do remember NINE words!) And Baby B said something that just struck me as funny. We were looking at a book together, and she said, “I see several chairs,” plain as day and so matter-of-fact. I dare say she has an old soul.

5) Baby A has been doing something the past couple of weeks that always makes me roll…she’ll get really serious and whisper something just barely audible. We were spending some quality time on the potty, me kneeling before her, and she was babbling the chorus to the “Witch Doctor” song. “Ooh, ee, ooh, ahh, ahh…” She paused, leaned in very close to me, and said – in all seriousness – Ting.” [pregnant pause] “ Tang.” I just had to shake my head.

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

The girls and I were grocery shopping, and I happened to notice a display of cut flowers on clearance. I bought the most beautiful bouquet of tulips…just because. I pulled out a gorgeous crystal vase that we got as a wedding present, and I proudly displayed the flowers on the table for the better part of the week. It was such a nice break in the routine...and a reminder of how nice it is to invest in your surroundings.

Photobucket

***I’m soliciting thoughts and prayers as I plan to begin Potty Training 101(a) on Saturday!*** I’m both excited and nervous…but I trust that my trusty supply of chocolate will see me through, one way or the other.

April 20, 2011

Update, a (Tentative) Game Plan, and THANK YOU!!!

…or…

The Potty-capades, Part 2

I introduced the girls to the potty chair on Sunday morning. They were more than excited to sit on it off and on (and off and on and off and on) all day on Sunday, but I don’t think we had any actual output.

On Monday, Baby A had a small performance, which was met with much praise. Since the girls were all about flushing the potty (when we were using the potty ring), I decided their “reward” would be helping Mommy deposit the contents of the bowl into the big potty, still allowing them their beloved flush. That seemed to click, at least with Baby A, and we had a pretty good day.

Tuesday was quite grueling, but Baby A had a lot to show for herself. She had three very successful trips, one in the morning, one after lunch, and one before supper. She still used her diaper a little bit, but I would wager that more than half of her production for the day went into the potty.

So what was grueling about that???

Putting the potty seat in the kitchen, adjacent to the den, has alleviated some of our challenges. I can now have a good handle on both girls – the one on the potty and the one playing solo in the den.

But Baby A seems to have a preternatural gift…the ability to tee or poop a tiny amount at a time…which has added a new element to this adventure.

I am not kidding when I say that each of her three potty times lasted about 30 minutes. She would tee an ounce or two, and then want to empty the cup in the potty. At first I thought she was done, but she was adamant about sitting back down. She did this again and again and again, with pee and then with poop. I’m guessing we made no less than 12 or 15 trips between the potty chair and the bathroom per session. (I guiltlessly considered that my workout for the day.)

I’m hoping some of that will resolve itself as the novelty of the potty chair wears off, and/or I may look to tweak my process a bit.

I am so very appreciative of the advice, words of wisdom, and the encouragement from my post on Monday.

Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!

I am reminded that this is all part of the fun…it won’t last forever…it has been done before and will be done again…and – in the words of Gloria – “I will survive…hey, hey!

So, what’s the game plan?

I feel that Baby A is “ready”…or if she’s not ready, I’m not sure how to stop her from taking off her diaper and making a puddle on the floor (or smearing poop in her crib after nap, which may or may not have happened yesterday). While I reserve the right to change my mind in the next couple of days, my gut is to officially start training her this weekend.

I’m going to give both girls the next couple of days to continue to get accustomed to the potty chair, and maybe to hone the “dump and flush” procedure. I bought a jumbo-sized package of teeny-tiny panties, and Baby A and I are going into the trenches on Saturday morning.

Daddy will be home to lend a second set of hands – I expect to largely keep Baby B at bay, who I don’t think seems “ready” just yet.

I’m planning to stock the pantry with some reward chocolate (for me), and maybe get some of those Skinnygirl margaritas to try (for me, as well). I’m thinking take-out pizza one night, and maybe take-out sushi the next…after the girlies are in bed and I can relax for the day.

I’m setting myself up to go with the flow as best I can (no pun intended). This, too, shall pass! [So many wonderful word plays when it comes to potty speak…so little time!]

Stay tuned for the next exciting installment! :)

April 18, 2011

I Need Help!!!

Folks, I have a Potty 1822 Situation here = Potty 911 times two! I apologize upfront for the long post…but if you can spare some thoughts on this endeavor, I sure would appreciate it!

There have been several instances in which I’ve been reminded that the girls will do things on their own schedule. It’s much easier on them – and much less stressful for ME! – if I can chill out and follow their cues.

Based on this experience to date, I had been planning to “go with the flow” with regards to potty training.

I planned to look for signs the girls were interested in the potty, then make it available to them, and expect that in time they would more or less be trained. I didn’t have any “goals” in mind, like having them trained by the time they were two, or two and a half…I figured they would do it when they were ready.

[One parenting book I read talks about children having control over two aspects of their lives…what goes into their bodies, and what comes out. I feel like we’ve done a great job to date not allowing any “power struggles” over food, and I hope to avoid any power struggles over the potty, too. My goal is for the girls not to have any negative associations with the potty. I don’t want to make it “fun” per se, but – like my approach with food – I hope to be somewhat matter-of-fact.]

Exactly a month ago (when the girls were just shy of 27 months old), Baby A told me one morning she wanted to sit on the potty and make stinkies. I was quite surprised, as I hadn’t been talking much about the potty, or making any kind of suggestions to them.

I complied with her request…and to my delight, she performed beautifully! I praised her, and asked her sister if she wanted to try. Baby B sat on the potty that morning as well, although she didn’t have any successes to report.

From then on, I let the girls sit on the potty whenever they asked. Some days that might have amounted to twice; some days, six or eight times; and some days, not at all. I would remind the girls when they made stinkies in their diapers that I’d like for them to try to tell Mommy before they needed to go, so I could take them to the potty, but I always kept an upbeat, matter-of-fact tone.

I didn’t feel like we were making much progress for about three weeks, but I rationalized that the girls were becoming comfortable with the potty experience, and that they were learning about their bodies. I did not institute any type of reward system. I continued to praise the girls for their efforts, and when they had success they got to flush the potty, which they seemed to think was totally awesome. :)

Over the past week, though, I’ve really begun to struggle...

At times, Baby A in particular will ask to sit on the potty over and over and over again. She might sit for five seconds, tell me she’s done…and ask to repeat the process two minutes later. She seems to be having fewer successes, at least as a percentage of her trips to the bathroom.

I think I need to be careful not to tell her she can’t go potty, but I want to be careful not to turn it into a game (which is certainly how it feels at times).

Many times it feels like Baby A is using the potty as a way to garner one-on-one time with Mommy. I had been using a potty ring on the toilet (vehemently hoping to avoid buying a potty chair). The bathroom is removed from the den / playroom, where the girls spend most of their time, so a trip to the potty means leaving the den…with Mommy…and leaving behind her Sissy.

Baby A has also started to pull her diaper off when she tells me she needs to go potty. Along with the psychological aspects of complying with her request to potty, I don’t want to risk a mess of her running around diaper-less.

I gave in on Saturday and bought a potty chair. I put it in the kitchen, immediately next to the den. That eliminates the “trip” to the bathroom…and I hope will take some of the novelty out of going potty. Of course Sunday was the worst day to date, as both girls were anxious to use the new potty chair every three minutes.

So…to summarize…

- The girls are interested in the potty, and they seem to have an understanding of what to do there. They’ve had numerous successes – albeit sporadic ones – to date.

- I don’t feel like they’re making progress, though, and their potty trips seem to be becoming a game.

I might like to take a break from things and try again in a month or so (what the books say to do if you try to start training without success), but I didn’t really initiate the training in the first place. I am concerned with telling them “no, you can’t go potty”. And within the past few days, they’re stripping down when they want to go.

I don’t feel like “taking a break” is a real option.

My gut is that I need to implement a more stringent training plan...the girls know what the potty is about, and now I have set the rules about using it.

That’s definitely not what I had planned, but I’m losing steam…fast…these gazillion trips to the potty are wearing me out physically and mentally (seemingly with little to show for it).

Thoughts??? Ideas??? Anybody wanna meet me for a drink…or come babysit for a few days???

April 16, 2011

Lightening My Load

No single task makes me feel more like the Greek Sisyphus – working all day to roll my boulder up the hill, only to have it roll back down, forcing me to start over each day – than loading and unloading the dishwasher.

The cycle is never-ending.

I usually run the dishwasher overnight, full to its absolute brim (with the occasional dish or two left in the sink that I just couldn’t manage to engineer to fit). Greeting me each morning is that scorching red light: “Sanitized”.

I dry off the plastic ware, unload the dishes, and put them away, my goal always being to do that before I start dirtying more dishes to take their place (i.e. making breakfast).

I run the dishwasher every.single.day., occasionally twice a day if I do a lot of cooking. From time to time I’ll switch things up on myself, just for fun.

How about if I run the dishwasher during naptime? I’ll unload it before supper, and then that horrid red light won’t greet me in the morning? What a great idea!!!

But I usually don’t get the dishes unloaded before dinner. It’s usually after the girls go to bed that I face the drying-unloading-putting away, followed by the big stack of dirty dishes from supper waiting on me in the sink. Suddenly that didn’t seem like such a good idea after all…

I’ve come to the conclusion that there are no tricks. This is most certainly my fate for eternity.

...but…

Over the last week or so, I’ve noticed a definitive lightening of my load – my dishwasher load, that is.

I can trace this beautiful gift of the dish gods to two factors.

1) The girls have started drinking all but their evening milk (which they have upstairs) from plain cups with disposable drinking straws. Each cup consists of only two pieces – the cup and the lid. There aren’t five itty bitty parts that must be contained in a special little basket that consumes 1/3 of my top dishwasher rack.

2) I’ve stopped heating all but the girls’ evening milk. I know…I know…they’re almost seven years old and I probably should have stopped this a long time ago…but I just never want to mess with a good thing. The girls seem to love ice cold milk, though, and I sure love not having all those extra cups I used to warm their milk in the microwave.

So…

…I am still running the dishwasher every day…loading, unloading, putting away...but it’s much less of an engineering feat to make everything fit.

I dare say there’s sometimes additional room in the dishwasher, such that I could make it a day and a quarter before I ran it…

...but then I wouldn’t be greeted by freshly sanitized dishes every.single.morning…

…and on some level I guess I like having a “clean start” to the day.

April 15, 2011

Fab 5 Friday...and ME!!!

Truly the most fabulous part of this past week was that Baby B was such a trooper during her bout with the stomach virus. Thankfully, it was short-lived, AND Baby A managed to escape its wrath.

In other fabulous news…

1) I was bound and determined to anniversary our trip to the local dairy farm during Hubby’s Spring Break last week. Baby B was finally well enough to go on Sunday afternoon, so the tradition continues. I asked the girls what their favorite part was on our way home. They were both chiming in, "...ice cream…and brownie…and pie…and cows…and puppy doggies…

2) I have had a bag of Mega Bloks waiting for the girls to be old enough to play with them…and for a rainy day when the novelty of a new toy would really be welcome. Monday was that day, and the girls have been enamored with their blocks ever since. We’ve built so many robots, and choo-choo trains, and towers…we’re all having such fun. (I have to remind myself to let the girls play and not get lost in my own creations!)

3) The girls and I went to get our hair trimmed on Monday afternoon. The last several times, they’ve only gotten their bangs cut, but we decided to shape them up all the way around this time. It was almost surreal, seeing them get “real” haircuts…complete with their hair divided into sections with little clips. I can’t believe how big my babies are getting!

4) My sweet friend Jenny invited us to join her and her boy/girl twins – born exactly a week before A&B – to try out a brand-new bouncy station at their church on Tuesday afternoon. The girls had an absolute blast playing with their friends K&S. They ran and ran and ran and jumped and ran…but their favorite part had to be the slide. I love this picture, as it just captures the pure joy on Baby A’s face.



5) New sun hats and walking outside, hand in hand.



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

I met three friends on Saturday afternoon for a pedicure, which was just heavenly…and in perfect time to break out the flip-flops.

What one friend (the girls’ Aunt Karen) didn’t know was that the pedicure party was part of a scheme to keep her occupied for the day…in preparation for her birthday surprise party on Saturday night. I didn’t get to be part of the surprise, but once the girls were in bed, I joined in the “luau”, complete with grass skirts and tiki torches.

It was great spending time with my girlfriends, and of course celebrating Aunt Karen’s birthday!

[Thanks to Dolli-Mama for hosting the 52 Weeks of ME! Challenge...and reminding us to do a little something for ourselves each week. I think we deserve it!!!]

April 14, 2011

I Do Love Me Some Adverbs

When I was in school, English class was pretty easy for me. I was fortunate that my parents used proper grammar at home. Between that and reading lots of books, I didn’t have to memorize too many verb tenses…I could just follow my gut as to what “sounded” right in those eighth grade fill-in-the-blank exercises.

Since the girls were born, I’ve made a concerted effort to speak properly at home. I’ve even worked to curb a couple of my lazy Southern habits…namely, using lie / lay correctly; and saying, “I’m sitting on the floor,” (as opposed to "in” the floor).

Over the past few months, I’ve been so delighted to hear the girls’ communication skills blossom…and to witness some good, old-fashioned grammar in action.

At 27 months, the girls still often refer to themselves in third person, and they don’t always get the subject-verb agreement right, but my heart sings when I hear them using certain adjectives and adverbs.

In the mornings, when the girls come downstairs to find their baby dolls and stuffed dogs and bears, I often hear them saying, “Baby slept well.” And when Baby B was sick last week, she was crying, “I don’t feel well!

Baby B has taken to saying the phrase, “That’s very helpful.” I can’t help but laugh at that grown-up comment from her tiny little self. She also told me last week, “Let’s read this book quickly.” I think she was trying to squeeze in one more tome before naptime.

The girls are incorporating words like “probably” and “actually” into their speech, which is so darn cute. And within the last couple of weeks they’ve pointed out several cars on our walks, saying, “That similar to Daddy’s!

And I can’t help but be proud when I hear them tell their dollies, “Lie down, baby.”

I am beginning to see the fruits of my grammar labor, and I love what I’m hearing.

Now if I can just keep reminding myself not to lapse into my best Forrest Gump impression too often…”I do love me some shrimp!”…then maybe the girls will have an easy time in their English classes one day, too.

April 11, 2011

First Dates and Throw-up

(And no, I’m not talking about an ill-timed onset of the stomach bug, the response to which made me know my hubby was The One…)

We were bee-bopping along this week during Hubby’s Spring Break. The week was flying as we were jamming as many appointments and errands and as much family time into it as we could.

Thursday morning, things changed abruptly, though, as Baby B had the monster of all throw-ups. She seemed to feel fine, and at first I dismissed it as her having eaten too many strawberries that morning.

By lunch, though, she had a fever, followed by more vomiting. I called the pediatrician’s office (as I thankfully have little experience in this department), and the nurse told me they’ve seen a lot of kiddos with a stomach virus in the past couple of weeks. Baby B fit the description.

Baby B definitely wasn’t feeling well. She was crumply and pitiful and just wanted to snuggle.

On Thursday, Baby A was very understanding. I was so proud of her for playing more independently, content to chill out on the couch with a book, or play with her blocks, while I tended to her sister.

By Friday, though, I think Baby A had had enough of the Second Fiddle routine. The scene escalated mid-morning, as Baby B was SCREAMING, “I don’t feel well!” (over and over and over). I was holding her in my lap, and Baby A started SCREAMING (no words) and trying to climb between her sister and me.

When Baby A wasn’t SCREAMING, she was pulling her diaper off and telling me she had to go potty. Once, while I was in the bathroom with A, Baby B threw up. Baby B was asking to go upstairs and nap with Mommy, but of course I couldn’t leave Baby A downstairs by herself.

I called Hubby, who was carrying on the errand list, and told him I needed him to come home. No matter what I did, I couldn’t seem to get the girls settled down again. What they needed was some time apart from each other.

I suggested to Hubby that he take Baby A somewhere so that she could exercise some energy, and so that I could concentrate on Baby B. To my great surprise (and perhaps encouraged by the great deal of SCREAMING and his probably-wild-eyed wife), Hubby agreed.

Hubby has never taken one of the girls somewhere by himself before. As much as I’ve wanted to encourage some one-on-one time with the girls, it’s never happened…outside of one going on a rare doctor appointment with me…which isn’t exactly date-night material.

I was so proud of Hubby for taking Baby A to the park!!! That gave Baby B some time to relax, and when Baby A got home an hour later, all was well with the world (excepting the stomach virus thing).

Later that afternoon, Baby B was feeling better, and Hubby suggested I take her with me for a quick run to the grocery store. Wow!!!

It may have only taken us 27 months and the contraction of a stomach bug, but we finally had our first “dates” with the girls. Even if it is just a quick trip to the grocery, I hope this is something we can begin to do more often, minus the throw-up and SCREAMING, of course.

April 9, 2011

A (Rare) Two-for-One Special

I’m not sure how the cost of having twins versus two singletons would compare across a twenty-two year span (factoring in the present value of money and a compound savings rate, of course)…

…but buying two pack-n-plays, two cribs, double the diapers, double the milk, double the shoes – not spread out over any span of time – sure makes it seem like multiples cost more.

Of course there are those precious economies of scale that never cease to delight me, most often found in the produce aisle. My girls split a banana every morning, and they often share oranges, and apples, and pears.

I’ve often pondered about feeding one child…either Mommy would up her fruit intake considerably, or I guess we’d stick to a lot of collectives (like grapes and berries) or things that save well (like melon and pineapple). [Do such ponderings mean I need a hobby???]

Twins also provide for the optimal utilization of bucket swings at the park, at least up to a certain age. One smaller baby would get so easily lost in one of those swings, I imagine…but back-to-back with her twin sister, our girls are snug as a bug (also resulting in one of my very favorite twin pics!).



This week I was overjoyed to realize another (rare) two-for-one special.

We made our semi-annual trip to buy shoes for the girls. They’ve consistently been a half-size off from each other, but they’ve been growing at least a size every six months.

This go-round, though, they both only grew a half size…SO…we only had to buy one new pair!

Having “fairness” issues like I do, though, I immediately started to feel a little guilty…but even my guilty side loves a bargain.

I bought the same style of new shoes for Baby A as the girls have been wearing, so she and her sister will still match. I’m thinking a pair of new shoelaces for Baby B, and no one will be the wiser.

Cha-ching!!!

April 8, 2011

Fab 5 Friday...and ME!

Hubby has been on Spring Break this week, which is pretty fabulous in itself! We’ve jam-packed the week with numerous appointments and some fabulous family fun…I can’t believe it’s Friday already!

1) The weather has been pretty nice this week. The girls and I have gotten out for walks almost every day…AND Daddy has been waiting for us at home to help unbuckle strollers and take off shoes.

2) We went on a 170-mile round trip shopping adventure on Tuesday, and the girls did GREAT!!! It wasn’t exactly relaxing, but got all our errands accomplished with very minimal fuss, and I dare say we all had a pretty great time!

3) I carried Baby B to the dermatologist on Wednesday, as she’s really been struggling with dry skin. I was SO proud of her…her chin quivered a couple of times, but she didn’t cry even once! (That's a HUGE improvement over any doctor visit she's had in the past year, at least!!!)

4) When we were leaving the dermatologist’s office, I told B that she had been such a big girl that she deserved a lollipop from the basket on the reception counter (her first). She immediately said, “And Sissy!” (I love how the girls always look out for each other.)

When we got to the car, I unwrapped the lollipop, intending to let B have a couple of licks, like an ice cream cone. Instead she popped it right in her mouth, like she knew just what to do. I let her enjoy it for a minute or so before I told her we needed to go (and I ate the rest of it...hee hee).

I forgot about the second lollipop in my bag until we were putting the girls to bed that night. Out of nowhere, B exclaimed, “I had a lollipop!” I couldn’t help but laugh at my blabbermouth…and then I changed the subject quickly before I had to explain why we wouldn’t be sharing the other one before bedtime.

5) During our bedtime routine earlier in the week, Baby A began a little soliloquy. “I love you, Mommy…I love you, Daddy…I love you, Sissy…I love you, Sasha.” And then she finished it off by saying, “I am happy.” Melt.my.heart.

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

As part of my resolution to start dressing more nicely in and around the house, I spent some time…ALONE…shopping this week. I shopped for me, and only me. I can’t remember the last time I went to the mall and didn’t so much as browse through one of the children’s stores!

My shopping trip was rather fruitful. I scored three pairs of casual Capri pants, a couple of new sweaters, and several sundresses. I certainly wasn’t shopping for sundresses, but I couldn’t resist. I don’t expect to be wearing them around the house exactly, but they’ll be great for casual family dinners and jaunts to the yogurt shop this summer.

I think I’m standing up straighter already!

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April 6, 2011

The Art of Subtlety is Lost on Two-Year Olds

Over the past week, the girls have made a couple of observations about their dear ol’ mama that have been less-than-subtle.

Certainly I appreciate their attention to detail, and their interest in my every nook and cranny…but geez, girls, cut your mama a little slack!

I had on my first pair of shorts for this spring. Baby B was checking them out, along with every bump and bruise and freckle on my legs. She made her way to my knees and said, “Mommy knee have crumbs!” I’m pretty sure she was telling me I needed to shave!

A day or so later, Baby A was crawling on top of me on the couch. She reached down my v-neck t-shirt to inspect my bra. “It’s fluffy,” she declared. Why yes, honey, Mommy’s bra is “fluffy”. Thank you for noticing.

Of course I couldn’t help but laugh…although there may have been a tiny little piece of me that wanted to cry, knowing I have years of brutal honesty ahead of me.

Oh, well, the girls’ new phrase, “Mommy cute!” every time they see me in a change of clothes will cure a world of hurt for a long time.

April 4, 2011

A Question I CAN Answer

So I’m not really sure when having children really gets “easier”…but I can definitively say that it just keeps getting more fun!

In the throes of those newborn days, my neighbor – whose daughter is two years older than the girls – told me, “Once they start sleeping through the night, it will get easier…and then it starts to get fun. And the older they get, the more fun it is.

For me the “fun” first started when the girls began to really laugh. There is so much joy in a chubby baby’s laughter, and I had such a fun time figuring out new triggers to fill the house with their raspy chuckles and high-pitched squeals.

And then the girls started to play with toys. Finally, I thought, something to “do” other than read and sing! (Don’t get me wrong…I love to read and sing…but so many days I’d feel like my vocal chords were just going to wilt!) The girls would squirm all around the floor and grasp and teethe on plastic cups and balls. It was such simple fun, and I remember thinking, “Wow, my neighbor wasn’t kidding!

And as the girls got more mobile, they began to play more and more.

And then they started communicating. It was fascinating to me – and so rewarding – to watch them put new baby signs into use. And it was so incredibly fun! This leant us a whole new world…looking out the window and signing bird, squirrel, airplane…going on walks and signing dog, cat, and car…and reading books together, pointing and signing the pictures on the pages.

The girls’ breakthrough in sign language was followed pretty quickly by them beginning to say words, and I thought that was the most awesome stage of all…to pick up when they began to say a new word, and see the joy on their faces when we understood them.

As their communication skills evolved, the girls began to employ their imaginations…and how much FUN is it to pretend to eat their “choc-it chip” cookies, drink their lemonade, and go shopping (in the den) for pineapple??? It’s just amazing to me to watch the evolution of the scenarios they invent and the new uses for toys they create…I never know what they’ll come up with next.

These days, the girls love to read and dance and sing and play. It’s so much fun for us to take them to dinner once a week, or for a frozen yogurt treat on Sunday afternoon…to walk a couple of blocks, hand-in-hand in the neighborhood, or take them to run free on the soccer fields…to build the highest tower of blocks ever known in our den, or to see them “squish” their hands in finger paint.

The girls laugh at us, at themselves, and at each other (which is perhaps the most.precious.thing.EVER.), and we in turn laugh at them.

Every month or so I have found myself thinking, “Yes, THIS is my favorite age.” And I tell my neighbor almost every time I see her how she was so right.

I do chuckle to myself from time to time, though, wondering how long this trend will continue.

In some far corner of my mind, I’m mentally preparing myself for the Law of Diminishing Returns to kick in at some point…as I’ve rarely heard anyone say, “Oh yes, the preteen years are just a blast!” :)

April 3, 2011

When Does It Get Easier???

I don’t think I’ll ever forget slipping away for a quick lunch with one of my best friends when the girls were about six weeks old. Over chips and dip and salsa I just cried to her…I was really struggling with breastfeeding, and bottle-feeding, and formula, and rice cereal…I remember feeling so helpless, like no one could give me an answer to help me navigate my way.

She listened intently, nodding her head and telling me she understood my frustration. But she didn’t have any answers for me. Maybe because I was so hopeful she’d at least have some suggestions, her “I know you’ll figure it out,” frankly felt a bit unsympathetic.

She moved on to describe a challenge she was facing, whether to let her then-nine-year old son give a Valentine’s Day card to a girl that said, “I like you.”

Her story made me laugh, and got my mind off of my woes for a few minutes, but I couldn’t help feeling it was insignificant to something so critical as providing sustenance to my children.

Several months later, I revisited that lunchtime conversation in my mind (and later laughed about it with my girlfriend). It occurred to me that she may have been ultimately saying something I’m coming to realize myself…

“It doesn’t get easier; it just gets different.”

The first couple of months after the girls were born were hands down the hardest months of my life.

I was trying so hard to figure out so many things, things I had no experience with…and times two, at that. At the time I didn’t personally know anyone who had twins, so I found myself feeling doubly alone [no pun intended].

Things started to level out a bit when the girls were about three months old and started sleeping through the night. That’s definitely when “things got easier”. I’ve since said a hundred times, I can do ANYTHING on a full night’s sleep!!!

Twenty-seven months in, I can say that often, when something gets easier, a new something rears its head as a challenge.

The girls began to take sippy cups = YEA! But they started to walk (also YEA!), but that meant I had two babies running in different directions.

The girls learned to feed themselves = YEA! But that meant I lost control of the spoon and found myself with much more mess to clean.


The girls are talking more and more = YEA! But they’re also challenging their mama’s authority from time to time.

While many things have gotten easier, it seems the challenges are often more complex…leaving me to occasionally think those newborn diaper blow-outs weren’t so bad!

Yes, it’s always something…and my guess is I’ll feel that way for the rest of the girls’ lives to some degree…

…but that’s what keeps me gainfully employed as a parent, and that’s just what I signed up for!

April 2, 2011

Anniversary of a Milestone Week

Hubby’s Spring Break starts today. Can I get a HALLELUJAH?!!!!!!!!!!

We don’t have any big plans, but we’re hoping to do a few fun things in and around town.

I was just thinking back to this week last year, when we had the same game plan…no big plans…but I remember that week as being full of so many fun milestones.

We took the girls shopping for their first pair of shoes.



While we were at the mall, we fed the girls lunch in a restaurant for the first time, off the menu. We were so awkward, carrying their high chairs in with us! I also had a bag of food to supplement what we ordered, including two avocados…can you say messy?!!! The girls were still taking bottles, too, so I had to heat those in cups of hot water.

And when we got home with our shoes, of course we had to take the girls for their first walk in the neighborhood, hand in hand. I remember they were a little freaked out over the feel of grass under their feet, but they were otherwise so proud of themselves, and we of them!





That week we also transitioned the girls from their carriers to full-size [rear-facing] car seats. I know that is so much more comfortable for them, but sometimes I STILL miss the convenience of loading up those carriers in the comfort of my kitchen and swinging them over my arm.

Later that week, we took the girls for their very first taste of ice cream at a local dairy barn. It was met with mixed reviews…I think they wanted to like it, but my guess is that the cold was too much for them.




Time is such a funny creature. In some ways these events seem like eons ago (bottles???)…but in other ways, I can remember like yesterday the girls at once wanting and not wanting that ice cream.

This week, we’ll make our bi-annual shopping trip for new shoes. I’m certain we’ll buy something very similar to the girls’ first two pairs – basic lace-up tennis shoes. At 27 months, Baby A still can’t be trusted with Velcro for more than a moment.

While we’re shopping, we’ll have a nice lunch, but the only “supplement” I’ll be packing is some fresh fruit to round out the girls’ meal.

Weather permitting (PLEEEEEEEEASE!!!), we’ll spend some nice time together outdoors. The grass doesn’t intimidate the girls anymore, though. In fact, they love to RUN on it (especially if there’s a soccer ball in sight!).

We’ll load the girls in their still-rear-facing car seats for an anniversary trip to the dairy barn. They’ve decided they’re rather fond of ice cream (!!!), and I’ll bet they’ll be all about seeing the cows this year.

And what other milestones might we cross this week? Well, we’re planning to shop for a swing set for the backyard!

We’re looking forward to a fun, family-focused week. I can’t begin to imagine what Spring Break will hold for us next year…only time will tell!

April 1, 2011

Fab 5 Friday...and ME!

Lots of fabulousness going on at our house this week!

1) I let the girls finger paint on Thursday, even using three different colors of paint. We talked about the “rules” beforehand…your hands touch ONLY your paper, nothing else. I was so proud of the girls for following directions! They had a great time, and I didn't even break a sweat!

2) We were rushing on Thursday night to get the girls’ baths, as they were very tired. Baby B took her bath first, so her hair had a chance to air dry. I was worried that Baby A’s hair would still be wet at bedtime, though. I asked if she wanted to try Mommy’s hairdryer, and she said she did. She giggled when I blew air on her hand, and then she sat so still – for a good five minutes – while I dried her hair a bit. I can’t get over what a big girl she was!

3) I don’t know what the context was, but I heard Baby B say to her sister while they were playing this week, “Bless your heart!” Now that’s my Southern girl!

4) Baby B told me she found a “hair” in the den. I went to take it from her, and realized it was one of the cat’s whiskers. I told the girls what it was, and I let them feel it against their hands. Baby A got a worried look on her face. “Mommy, go put it back!” Put it back where? I asked her. “On Sasha’s face!”

5) There is a mention of jelly beans in one of the girls books. To date they didn’t know what that was. (When I was sneaking some jelly beans from the pantry a couple of weeks ago, one of them asked me what I was eating. “Beans,” I told them without hesitation.) I bought some jelly beans [I am addicted!] at the grocery this week. I decided to let the girls try one. I cut a nice red one in half…and then I decided to cut it again, afraid of a choking hazard. So my girls have each had ¼ of a jelly bean. They ate it very tentatively, but their faces were soon beaming. Baby B got a wistful look on her face and said, “Like a cookie!” Hahaha!!! Hey, don’t get too attached, kiddos…the rest of that bag is for Mommy!

And what did I do for ME this week (
besides indulge in jelly beans!)???

In keeping with my hobos-no-more vow, I finally invested in some nicer bags. To date, I’ve shuffled around a number of different bags…usually a diaper bag and one or two smaller black canvas bags. One canvas bag usually contained a subset of the diaper bag, and one served as our “restaurant” bag, holding our high chair covers and wipes. It was a tawdry assortment.

I am now the proud owner of a larger utility bag with all sorts of great pockets, an insulated medium-sized bag, and a purse…which all match each other AND happen to coordinate with my diaper bag!

The bags are floral- and paisley-type prints, and I somehow feel like that puts me in a different “mom” category…like I’m somehow now – finally – a Stay-at-Home-Mom. But hey, they look great in the back of my mid-size SUV! Hahaha!!!

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