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May 31, 2011

Public Potty Pros!

Well, I wouldn’t exactly call us “pros”, but I do love me some alliteration.

We took our first day trip on Saturday since the Potty-capades began over a month ago. I am so proud to report that we all came home wearing the same pants we left in!

We made our first stop about an hour after we left the house, at a mall where I had one quick errand. Just across the street from the mall is a Krispy Kreme donut shop…the taste of my childhood. We don’t have one in our town, so it’s a huge treat to see that “Hot Now” sign flashing before my eyes.

We picked up a handful of donuts and some milk, and fed the girls a very sinful snack at the mall’s food court. I took care of my errand, and we were ready to be on our way.

If I let myself, I can assume quite the ostrich mentality, preferring to stick my head in the sand and hope if I don’t see any issues, then none will arise. (Others might use the phrase “ignorance is bliss”, but I any time I can think about having sand between my toes, I like to do so.)

I resisted the temptation of that warm sand, took a deep breath, and asked Baby A if she needed to go potty before we left the mall. Wide eyed, she said, “Yes.”

I left Baby B to hang out with Daddy (no way was I offering a diaper change unnecessarily!), and Baby A and I entered the ladies’ room.

I pulled out of my trusty bag a nifty little travel potty seat, similar to the one we have for our upstairs potty. She sat right down and did her business…viola!

And viola! I whipped out a dozen or so baby wipes and proceeded to sanitize the both of us, as well as any and all affected surfaces, as best I could.

Baby A was so taken with the experience, she asked to go again immediately as soon as we walked out of the bathroom. More baby wipes, please!

She later went at the restaurant where we had lunch (not twice, but THREE times), and she went yesterday (twice) at the ice cream shop where we enjoyed a Memorial Day afternoon treat.

The back-and-forth is well familiar to me, as it is very similar to what we went through those first few days of using the potty at home. I’m taking deep breaths, recognizing that she’s just enjoying the new experience…and in the meantime I’ve stocked up on lots of travel wipes.

All in a day's work!

May 30, 2011

And the Winners Are...

And the winners of my Kick Off Summer Give-Away, who will no doubt be sporting some of the cutest flip-flops of the season...are...

Barb of My Sweet Life with Two Twinkies and a Cupcake!

...and...

Johanna of The Baker Twins!

Thank you so much to everyone who entered...and who shared their favorite things about summer. Especially after this holiday weekend, I am READY! :)

Barb and Johanna, please send me your email addresses so I can let you know next steps in choosing your colors and sizing. Thanks again!

Old Rivers Run Deep

(After a quick Google search, I realized why that idiom didn’t quite sound right…it’s “Still waters run deep,” but that’s my story and I’m sticking to it!)

I got to enjoy some time on Saturday with my best friend Alison.


Alison and I met in business school. She knew me before husband, before job, before cats, and a long, long time before kiddos.

After we graduated, we both went our separate ways. Over the next four years, we lived in three states. She was doing consulting work, travelling all over the country…sometimes staying in one spot for a couple of weeks, sometimes a couple of months.

For the past 11 years, though, no matter how crazy our schedules were, we always managed to stay in close touch.

We’d see each other if she happened to be travelling in my direction, or we’d coordinate trips home together so we could spend some time in Sweet Home Alabama. And we always talk on the phone at least once a week.

Alison was her usual, awesome, supportive self through my pregnancy, also hosting a beautiful baby shower for me at her house…but she was extra incredible after the girls were born.

Even though she wasn’t a mom yet herself, she seemed to know exactly how much I needed her support during those first few crazy months.

We talked frequently on the phone, and she spent a couple of weekends with us – once when the girls were seven weeks old, and then again when they were five months old. Those were fantastic…we didn’t log any spa time, or extravagant dinners, or shopping trips (as our “girl time” often consisted of)…she just fed and burped babies…but it was SO what I needed to be able to share with her!

Alison is very smart, and very compassionate. She truly listens when I talk to her. She’ll offer advice, but not on a whim. Her feedback is always well thought-out, and – even if she doesn’t know “the answer” – she always gives me something to think about.

Since Alison found out she was pregnant when the girls were about seven months old, we’ve seen each other only a precious few times in the past two years.

Once was when I left the girls for the first time – for TEN HOURS! – and drove down to host her baby shower. It was a whirlwind trip…but come hell or high water, I wasn’t going to miss that for the world. Then last fall I took a shorter day trip to meet her for lunch between my place and hers. By any other standard it would have seemed insane to drive so far for a quick lunch, but it was completely worth it.

And Saturday Alison and her hubby were in Nashville for a concert. We made a day trip out of it to meet them for lunch. It was not exactly relaxing…as we were balancing a couple of crazy babes (mine!)…but I didn’t care.

Sadly, I have yet to meet Alison’s sweet baby girl. We exchange war stories and pictures all the time, so I feel like I know her, but that will be a pretty special time, seeing our girls together.

There’s just something about being with Alison – or even talking with her on the phone for 10 minutes – that reminds me who “me” is. And that’s a good thing.


***


There's still time to enter my flip-flop giveaway! Click HERE, and then just post a comment -- easy-peasy! -- through 8pm CDT tonight.

May 28, 2011

Super 6 Saturday

Friday's post was dedicated to ME, so a quick wave of my magic wand turns my usual Fab 5 Friday into a Super 6 list today!

Lots of super [and fabulous] stuff to report...

1) For the second weekend in a row, we visited the farmer’s market on Saturday morning, and then ate a late breakfast (a mid-morning snack for the girls) at Panera. We saw a number of the same people there that we’d seen the week prior, including several children. The girls made the rounds before we left, waving to their “friends” and telling them to have a good day!

2) Saturday night we went to a birthday party for our twin friends who live in our neighborhood. The girls had a great time playing with some of their friends, and it was so nice that they ate like champs! I remember the party from last year…we fed the girls at home before we went. It’s so freeing to be able to walk out the door with nothing in hand but a birthday present.

3) On Sunday, we went to a reception for “Aunt” Karen’s little sis, who just graduated from medical school (go, Sarina!!!). My sweet babies acted like little ladies! Granted, we didn’t stay long – I didn’t want to push my luck! – but we had a great time, and so did they.

4) I’d gotten the girls dressed to go to the birthday party on Saturday, and I wanted to make their picture. I was trying to bribe them to stand next to each other. Unprompted, Baby A lunged at Baby B, gave her a big hug, and said, We’re family!

5) The girls have been playing “birthday party” all week. We have sung countless renditions of the “Happy Birthday song”. They always make a gift to take the birthday girl / dog / bear…usually a Megablock structure of some sort, but occasionally they’ll branch out and offer a specific stack of books. I love that they are understanding the concept of gift-giving…and I’ve been trying to emphasize how special it is to make a gift (even a lopsided block tower).

6) Daddy cut the grass on Friday afternoon. Although we’d had similar exchanges before, it had been a while…unprompted, the girls each told Daddy “The grass is very pretty…thank you,” when he came inside. I think it made his toil and trouble worth it.

And a quick update on the Potty-capades…

…Baby A used the potty away from home for the first time this week! We were at the birthday party (at my friend’s house) on Saturday when she told me she needed to go. No problem…she handled it like a champ!

…I asked Baby B last weekend when she was going to start making tee-tee and stinkies on the potty (as she still just sits several times a day). Very matter-of-factly, she said, “Tuesday.” Several days later I realized I hadn’t asked her to specify which Tuesday…I’ll know better next time. HA!

May 27, 2011

52 Weeks of ME! Challenge

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Today the Dolli family is celebrating Ky and Cadee's first birthday! Dollimama is taking the day off, putting her feet up, and soaking in all those special moments.

(Or, if she's anything like me on our girls' first birthday, she may be running around with cupcake batter on her elbows, powdered sugar icing in her hair, gift wrap tailing from her skirt hem...all the while trying to still feed and clothe a couple or three kiddos...but who's counting?)

In any case, I'm honored to be able to give dollimama the day to focus on her family...and take over hosting my very favorite link-up -- the 52 Weeks of ME! Challenge -- for this week!


As a mom, I think it can be pretty easy for me to lose sight of myself. My kiddos garner 99.7% of my focus...that's my job, right?


Dollimama's challenge is for us to do one "something" for ourselves each week...to recharge our batteries, to indulge our interests. And I think that ultimately makes me a better mom.


There are some weeks I do "big" things...like enjoy a rare date night with my hubby, or steal away for a couple of hours to indulge in a pedicure with a girlfriend. More often than not, though, I have to dig a little deeper to think about doing something for myself.


For me, that's the beauty of this weekly challenge...I don't always have the time or the resources for something "big"...but it's just as much about realizing some of the "little" things during the course of my week that help me remember who "me" is.


It may be a cup of coffee at the bookstore...or a new set of notecards...or letting the laundry sit unfolded while I enjoy a bubble bath and an early bedtime.


Whatever it is, I love stepping back at the end of the week to appreciate that "me" time, even if I don't have freshly painted toenails to prove it.


So what did I do for myself this week???


On a whim, I bought myself a new CD, the latest from Los Lonely Boys. Being waaaay out of mainstream media these days, I didn't even realize they had a new CD, so it was such a pleasant surprise for it to catch my eye when I was walking through Target.


I love their "Texican" style of rock and roll...it always puts me in a great mood...and now just to find the time to listen to it! Maybe that will be next week's indulgence! :)


Now it's YOUR turn!


What did you do this week to get your groove back???










And don't forget to zip over to dollimama's blog to wish Ky and Cadee a HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!

May 25, 2011

It's Their Business

A few weeks ago, in one of my (many) Potty-capades posts, I talked about how Baby A was wearing…me…OUT with her shenanigans. She was playing as much as she was peeing, but I was hesitant to discipline her very much for fear of discouraging her potty training.

Lauren posted a comment that really stuck with me.

Kids play. They don’t have boundaries as to where their play happens.

How many parenting books have I read…how many expert interviews have I considered on any number of given topics…and in some form or fashion, we are reminded of that very point.

A child’s work is her play. It’s how she learns.

And oh, by the way, children are not simply miniature adults. Treating them as such is not particularly effective, and it will probably result in a lot of frustration for the parent and the kid.

From the girls’ infancy, I put some pretty solid boundaries in place. They have a definitive sleep schedule that I adhere to at almost all costs. They follow a healthy diet with a variety of foods, and I feel strongly about not offering numerous alternatives if they don’t like something I’ve served.

In many ways, my girls know what to expect from me and from their environment, and I think this helps keep their behavior in line, and helps them organize their thoughts for learning [another recurring theme in a lot of those parenting books]…

…but how else can I expect my girls to learn about a NEW situation than through experimentation and play?

They test their boundaries. They figure out what flies and what doesn’t. They push and pull and poke and prod to see how something works, what elicits a reaction.

I’m not saying I’m ready to pull the ladder over to let the girls climb clear to the chandelier, so they can swing from it and learn for themselves about the concept of the pendulum.

I still think there’s a time and a place for play, and there’s another time and a place to mind your manners, like at the dinner table.

But I am saying I’ll try to dig a little deeper into the Well of Patience…to step back a little bit and remember WHY Baby A has to mess with the toilet paper roll every.single.time. she goes to the bathroom.

Soon enough she'll figure it out for herself (and then move on to play with something else)...and that's just part of a healthy, playful childhood.

***

If you haven't already done so, please click HERE to check out my very first give-away...awesome flip-flops to help support my friend's adoption fundraising efforts...thanks so much!!!

May 23, 2011

Kick Off Summer with a Give-away for a Great Cause!

Memorial Day is the unofficial beginning of summer, and I, for one, am ready to kick off my shoes and start living in flip-flops for the next few months. (Who am I kidding...I live in flip-flops as long as the temperature is above freezing!)

I am so excited to be hosting my first give-away...and for a cause that is very close to my heart, at that.

I first met my dear friend Jenny in the prenatal classes at the local hospital. Her sweet boy/girl twins were born exactly one week before my girls, and I was so happy to reunite with her a few months later through friends of friends.

Jenny is now my go-to twin mama...she just knows stuff, ya know? She is such a beautiful mother, and her kiddos are pretty awesome, too.


(The Borders family at the girls' birthday party in January)

Jenny and her hubby are working to expand their family through adoption. They are looking forward to welcoming two Congolese babies into their family!

To help raise funds to bring their babies home, Jenny is making the most adorable flip-flops...


...and I am giving away two pairs! (Click HERE to see more of Jenny's flip-flop creations.)

To enter, just leave a comment on this post, telling me your favorite thing about summer...easy-peasy!

And if you'd like to leave Jenny a note in support of her journey, I know she'd appreciate that, too.

And feel free to zip over to her blog. Specifically, you can read more about her adoption journey HERE.

One entry per person, and I'll select two winners at random on Memorial Day, Monday, May 30. The winners can choose the size of their flops (Jenny has both youth sizes 8 and up, as well as adult sizes), and the colors.

Thanks so much for your support! Happy Summer!

A Bit About Me, May Edition

...it's the 23rd of the month again...time for me to open the vault and share a couple of random tidbits!

19) I love cats.

I love dogs, too, having grown up with both, but Hubby and I count as our first-born two wonderfully furry kitty cats. The hubs and I were married almost 10 years before the girls were born, and I am pretty sure that a few members of my friends and family were secretly worried that I would turn into a Crazy Cat Lady…amassing hundreds of felines into my old age and willing them all my worldly possessions. I could almost swear I heard a sigh of relief from certain people when we announced we were expecting non-furry children.

20) I drink coffee every day, but I am far from a connoisseur.

I drink my joe with plenty of milk and sugar, or better yet – flavored creamer. I actually think I am more in love with the “coffee experience” than the actual beverage. I love sitting back with a steaming mug of coffee in the mornings, and one of my favorite “me” times is a trip to the coffee shop. I think it’s cool that some people consider coffee like wine, commenting on the “undertones” and “optimal pairings”…but that’s not me. A good ol’ chocolate chip cookie goes perfectly with anything in my pantry.

Tune in on the 23rd of every month, leading up to my next birthday on February 23rd, for more randomness!

May 21, 2011

Devo, Anyone?

I've become famous (between the girls) for adapting the melodies of songs to whatever activity we're doing.

Over the past week, the girls have wanted to help buckle the belts on their highchairs and car seats. I'll do all but one side of the buckle, and then help them guide the final "click" into place.

"Click it...into place!" I found myself saying, with a futuristic wag of my head (and corresponding tail feathers).

...and then my mind began to wander to the early 80's band Devo...



...and then I began to picture the girls in red "energy domes"...perhaps for Halloween this year?

If Hubby agrees to participate, we'd only need one more person to comprise the full five-piece band.

Devo, anyone???

May 20, 2011

Fab 5 Friday...and ME!!!

A truly fabulous week, if I do say so myself!!!

1) Saturday was one of the most awesome family days on record…after the girls ate breakfast, we went to the farmer’s market. (They were disappointed we didn’t buy a pig, though, a la “To market, to market, to buy a fat pig…”) From there we went to Panera where Daddy and I had breakfast, and the girls enjoyed a mid-morning bagel snack with a glass of milk. And Saturday night we went to dinner (for the first time since the Potty-capades began) at our favorite Mexican restaurant. The girls had a blast, ate like champs…and the best part was that I didn’t have to pack the kitchen sink for each endeavor. My babies are turning into little girls…they can order from the menu, and drink from regular cups...wow…

2) Tuesday, Daddy had a work day at school, without students, and the girls and I went to visit him. His colleagues hadn’t seen the girls since they were about six months old, so we made all the rounds. The girls had fun going up and down the big steps, and they’re still talking about drawing on Daddy’s board.

3) The girls’ sense of humor continues to develop. We’ve had lots of fun this week with songs and nursery rhymes, altering some of the words they know by heart…”Baa, baa black sheep, have you any peanut butter?” The girls can’t get enough of it!

4) We’ve also played a modified game of hide-and-seek quite a lot this week. There are few places to really hide in the den, and the girls don’t really get the full concept of the game just yet…so I’ll pretend to look for one of them under the couch, inside the refrigerator of their play kitchen, peering through the window…all the while they’re trailing my heels. They think it’s hilarious.

5) Favorite quotes of the week…Baby A told me, “I enjoyed my dinner,” on Thursday night. I was oh, so proud! And Baby B was handing books, one by one, to her sister, per her request. After several trips, Baby B said, very matter-of-factly, “These are your options, Sissy.” Bwahahaha!!!

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

On Thursday afternoon Miss Jennifer came to hang out with the girls while I ran a couple of errands. I was able to get everything done and still have time to indulge a bit. I had been C-R-A-V-I-N-G a chocolate chip cookie from my very favorite shabby-chic dive. I got my cookie, a big cup of coffee with extra cream, and set up camp with a magazine for a little while on the patio of the restaurant. At 4:00 in the afternoon, I was the only one there…bliss!

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May 19, 2011

I Admit It.

My name is MandyE, and I have a foot fetish.

A few weeks before the girls were born, one of our neighbors told me, “I just can’t wait to kiss their little feet. I love baby feet!

Hmmm. By that point in my pregnancy, I’d heard all manner of strange things. I just nodded politely and thought, “That’s a little different.

The girls were born, and I marveled over every nook and cranny, including their twenty tiny fingers and twenty tiny toes.

It wasn’t until they were a few weeks old that I remembered what my neighbor had said. Sleep deprived, house bound, and looking for motivation, I decided to give baby foot-kissing a try.

I was hooked.

There was definitely something about those teeny tiny feet…so soft and innocent…and those itty bitty toes… so wiry and new.

I remember inviting my husband to kiss the bottom of the girls’ feet one time. He looked at me like I was crazy…but I know he just didn’t realize what he was missing.

My guess is that most folks with such inclinations probably quit kissing their children’s feet when they’re old enough to walk, and get said feet dirty.

Certainly I have cut back on this activity, but I still indulge with a few little smooches immediately after bathtime.

It occurred to me yesterday that, while the frequency of my foot kisses has diminished considerably, I have found an alternate way to get a little “foot fix”. I was carrying Baby A on my right hip, and I realized I was playing with her dangling toes with my left hand.

The girls’ feet aren’t exactly teeny tiny anymore, but they still have the sweetest little wiry toes. And I can’t resist wrapping my fingers around them when I get the chance.

And then it occurred to me that one day, the girls will be older, and having their mom play with their toes might not be so cool.

Yeah, I’d better get my fill while I can.

I foresee a drastic increase in the number of “This Little Piggy Went to Market” games in my near future! Surely that will be kosher until they’re 12 or so, right?

May 18, 2011

I Miss...

..."sleeping in" being later than 6:30am.

...taking a mid-morning nap, to wake up just in time to go out to lunch.

...going out to lunch.

...my biggest decision of a Saturday afternoon being the choice between shopping or getting my nails done.

...watching a ballgame in live time, in its entirety...


...not making scrambled eggs every.single.morning. of the world.

...eating popcorn for supper if I wanted to.

...watching meaningless stuff on TV in the middle of the day.

...end tables and lamps.

...being impromptu.

...reading my last-minute travel deals email alerts with interest, as opposed to disdain.

...my bathtub being a sanctuary, and not a corral for various plastic turtles and assorted neon cups.

...not having to run the dishwasher every day, lest I run out of assorted neon cups.

...not having to share my ice cream.

But if I still had all these things, that would mean I didn't have this...



...or this...




...or I wouldn't enjoy hearing, "Moooooooommyyyyyyyy!!!" in stereo...



And of course that's worth more than all the naps, manicures, end tables, popcorn, and ice cream in the world, combined.

(But I hope it doesn't make me sound ungrateful if I'm hoping to sneak in a manicure soon...and stop by for some ice cream [alone!] on my way home.)

May 16, 2011

Don't You Know How to Make Your Children Happy???

There are few things more stressful for me than a scheduled photo shoot.

I know, I know…if that tops my list, I should count myself pretty lucky…and I do…

…but having prepaid for my sessions and having so incredibly many things that could go wrong? Cue a night or two spent tossing and turning, and intermittent cold sweats.

What if someone wakes up with a pimple? Or runs into the door frame and gets a big bruise? Or worse yet, what if the girls run into each other and are both black and blue?

What will they wear? I want something that is classic, yet wearable…something that speaks to our day and time and the girls’ age, but that won’t look like the equivalent of M.C. Hammer pants in 20 years.

And what if somebody sneezes and gets a boogie on her perfectly chosen dress? Or sits down against a big ball of dust hidden somewhere at the photography studio (leave it to my girls to find it, of course)?

When should I get the girls’ hair cut in relation to the photo shoot? I don’t want them to have that “sheared sheep” look, but I don’t want sheep dogs, either.

Barring something catastrophic, I have learned to plan around a lot of these things...

...but the biggest gamble is the girls’ demeanor.

I count myself very fortunate that our girls are generally pretty amicable. They’re usually well-behaved, as long as I respect their schedules…and of course I put a lot of thought into the exact time of our photo appointment.

But making them SMILE? That’s another story.

I never think much about what makes the girls smile during the course of an average day. I feel like they giggle and laugh all day long.

But to pinpoint the exact phrase, or expression, or silly song and dance to pull out as the camera clicks? I’m a deer in headlights (and sometimes so are they!).

I usually leave a photo shoot exhausted from all sorts of shenanigans…and I’m often lucky if I’ve been able to make one of the two smile at some point in the exercise.

Upon seeing some recent professional pictures we had made, a family friend remarked, “Wow, your girls look so sophisticated.”

Hmmm...not what I was going for with my 28-month olds.

No, I’d more likely call that their “come hither” look…as in, “Come hither, Mom, and take us home so we can play and really have fun!

***

As part of the celebration of her twin girls' upcoming FIRST birthday, I'm guest posting today for dollimama on some of the more interesting "firsts" our girls have recorded.

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Happy First Birthday Ky and Cadee! (And congrats to you, dollimama!)

May 15, 2011

Bloggy Stuff

…so I’m way behind on some bloggy business…but…better late than never, I hope…here ‘goes!

THANK YOU so much to TWO awesome bloggy friends for the “Blog with Substance” award!

As they say about beauty, I think “substance” may be in the eye of the beholder…but you won’t catch me passing up the compliment.

Thanks to Rebecca, of Unexplained x2. It always puts a little spring in my step when I see a new post pop up from her…and I’m thankful that she posts so often! I feel like I learn a lot from some of her experiences, both as an awesome mom to her two “Crazies”, and as a middle-school teacher on hiatus. And just as importantly this girl Cracks.Me.UP with her rotten (in a good way) sense of humor.

Thanks to Christina, of Our Life with Multiples. Christina is such a sweet, supportive friend. I love seeing her commitment to her precious girlies and the joy she gets from so many of their accomplishments. She inspires me with my girls…and she inspires me in the work-out arena, too. I think this mama is one mean work-out machine! Oh, and I couldn’t fail to mention our shared passion for football!

As part of the award, I’m supposed to share seven things about myself. Since I do a monthly “A Bit About Me” post, I’m going to stay pretty superficial and list some stuff relevant to today (Sunday morning, as I write this).

1) I’m still wearing the t-shirt I slept in…a high school relic from a math competition. Dorky? Yes. But I did love me some equations once upon a time.

2) I’m drinking coffee from my favorite mug. It has cartoon cats on it and a title of “Mug Shots”. Each cat is accused of something, like “playing with cat toys at 3AM”. I’ve had it for about 10 years, and it just cracks me up.

3) I made waffles for breakfast, and in between batches I peeled, diced, and boiled four sweet potatoes for the girls. Nothing like multi-tasking to start the day!

4) I have my Mothers of Multiples meeting today. I love being a part of the group, but it sure does make for a jam-packed day.

5) I assembled eggplant parmesan last night (after the girls were in bed) that I’ll bake for supper tonight. I was thinking the entire time…I don’t remember it taking this long before kiddos! Of course, I haven’t watched a movie since they were born, or a ballgame in its entirety, so I guess it’s all relative…

6) I bought some new bags a couple of months ago. I love the coordination between the diaper bag / restaurant bag / purse…but I’m struggling with switching my wallet back and forth between the bags. I have receipts and coupons in probably three different places, and it is driving me CRAZY!

7) I watched a couple of DVR’d episodes of Extreme Couponing late last night. I don’t watch TV very often, and I like to have a couple of mindless things I can “veg” to from time to time.

My amazing friend Marcia, of 123 Blog, also tagged me in a blog post a few days ago. I really admire Marcia’s passion; it emanates from almost everything she does. And I love getting a peek into how her mind works…she really challenges me to think.

Some of the questions in Marcia’s post were just too good to pass up…

1) Does your spouse read your blog? No, only if I ask him to look at something in particular. I think he enjoys reading it from time to time, but he much prefers to look at soccer analysis or car stats when he’s online.

2) Is it unfair to write people off who don’t speak to me in my love language? I think there’s a season for everything and everyone. My truest friends know what’s important to me, and I to them. But I have other friends that I may just enjoy sharing a laugh with, or watching a ballgame…and I’m OK with that.

3) Why do people not respond to you or call you back when they say they will? This drives me NUTS!!! I try to be respectful of others’ time, and I wish they would do the same for me, but I know different people have different priorities. Some people I think are being quite disrespectful with such action; but with others, I might (reluctantly) just consider that part of who they are, and plan accordingly.

And finally, on the topic of bloggy stuff, my Aussie friend MultipleMum, of And Then There Were Four, is in a competition for the Kidspot Top 50 Bloggers in Australia. She’s a fantastic writer and a great mom to her four kiddos, including boy/girl twins. Check out the awesome post she entered about taking a family drive (and then vote for her!).

May 14, 2011

Outdoor Semantics

Remember the line from the deodorant commercial, "Most women perspire. I sweat!"???

I've always counted myself in the "sweaty" camp...

...but, at least at 28 months old, I'd dare say my girls "glisten". :) :)


But how on earth did my BABIES get big enough to reach for a (low-hanging) tree branch???


I certainly don't know...but I'm enjoying tagging along for the ride. I am so thankful for warm, sunny days and beautiful, healthy girls!!!

May 13, 2011

Fab 5 Friday...and ME!!!

This is Week 3 of the Potty-capades, and I’m thrilled to say we’ve gotten out of the house in some form or fashion every day this week...and that is simply fabulous!

I’m still careful not to be gone for more than an hour and a half, but it’s such an incredible relief to be able to run a quick errand…and the fresh air and change of scenery are so welcome to us all. It’s amazing how well the girls play at home after getting out for a short while.

1) On Tuesday I took the girls to get new sandals at the mall. We made a quick trip of it, so I decided to take advantage of the unseasonably warm weather and pay a visit to Sonic. I parked the girls in their stroller, propped up my feet in a chair, and we shared a small ice cream. I know it’s only May, but that definitely feels like one of the marks of summer…and it felt great!

2) On Wednesday, the girls and I went for a short walk in the neighborhood, and came home to find Daddy home from work already. We decided to let the girls explore the backyard. They ran and ran and ran…it was amazing to see them enjoying themselves, unfettered…and the rosy glow in their faces from exertion was just magical.

3) On Thursday, we [FINALLY!!!] had the girls’ two-year pictures made. We did an outside shoot this time…and I was afraid they’d be too taken by the scenery to sit still…but they did great! We may have even gotten pictures of them BOTH smiling!

4) I gave the girls their first “real” puzzle this week. It has nine pieces and seems to be a bit of a stretch for them right now. Nonetheless, they’ve been working SO hard on it. With a tiny bit of guidance, they can complete it, and they immediately want to do it again. Since all three of us have been working together on such a focused task, it occurred to me to teach them a little cheer. We pile our hands on top of each other, count to three, shout, “TEAMWORK!” and throw our hands in the air. They love it!

5) I’ve heard the girls “arguing” a little bit over the monitor a couple of mornings. One day, one started singing a song, and the other joined in. The first one got mad and said, “No! I singing ‘Baa, Baa Black Sheep’!” Bwahahaha!!!

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

My dear friend Shanda was with me every step on the way on my journey to Motherhood, and was at the hospital at a moment’s notice the night the girls were born. And she’s an amazing mom herself. We’ve been able to steal away for a little time together the past two Mother’s Days, and we made that happen again this year, in the form of a quick pedicure on Saturday afternoon. Of course Mother’s Day is all about my precious girls, but Aunt Shanda is right there in the middle of the mix, too!

Thanks to the Dolli-Mama for hosting the 52 Weeks of ME! Challenge...and reminding me to think about the little things I do for myself.

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May 12, 2011

My Long, Lost Ironing Board

When I moved into my first apartment in college, my dad took me shopping for the household things I would need. Among those things, he bought me my first iron and ironing board.

On average, I’m guessing I ironed once a month or so throughout my college days, a shirt or blouse here, some khaki pants there.

When Hubby and I got married, my ironing graduated to closer to once a week. I would send Hubby off to teach school in freshly pressed shirts and pants, feeling a certain sense of accomplishment at his lightly starched collars…and at the money we weren’t spending at the dry cleaners.

Over the last six or eight years, though, my ironing sessions became fewer and further between.

For myself, having a “real” job and wearing “real” clothes probably four out of five work days, I became quite cozy with the nice folks at the local dry cleaners.

And for Hubby? I discovered the amazing wonders of wrinkle-free fabrics…and I decided that, as a school teacher, the hubs didn’t need to be pressed to the nines every day.

In late 2008, I realized I literally hadn’t ironed in YEARS.

What prompted me to dust off the old ironing board???

The girls, of course.

My reintroduction came in the form of the dust ruffles for their cribs. I had painstakingly searched for just the perfect bedding, and I was anxious to set up their nursery. I meticulously washed everything, only to find the dust ruffles come out quite wrinkled. That wouldn’t do, of course.

Six months pregnant with twins, I dragged out the iron board and reacquainted myself with my iron. I think I had to take a break between dust ruffle #1 and dust ruffle #2, but by the end of the afternoon, I had two beautifully pressed bed skirts.

Over the past two years, I’ve gotten out my ironing board on a number of occasions.

Hubby still wears wrinkle-free pants and lots of knit shirts. And absent my “real” job, I rarely wear “real” clothes. My rare trips to the dry cleaner are mini-reunions with the nice folks I used to see once a week.

For their every-day wear, I’m mostly content to take the girls’ little dresses out of the dryer and lay them nice and flat across the bed…they’re just going to get spinach or salsa on them, anyway.

But every time we have the girls’ pictures taken, I find myself heating up the iron. I can’t have my girlies’ images preserved for all time in anything less but freshly pressed attire…and – at least in comparison to my hubby’s XL dress shirts – their itty bitty outfits are actually fun to iron.

(Did I just say "fun to iron"??? Gulp. Cue sweating as I recall having read "Stepford Wives" once upon a time...)

May 10, 2011

It's Not the Same as Having a Cleaning Service...

…but it’s an inkling of a start!

Ever since the girls became proficient in their mobility, I’ve involved them in cleaning up their play area. At first it was me picking up most all of the toys, and escorting the girls to the toy bin with one or two pieces during the process.

That evolved into me be being able to direct them to pick up one specific piece at a time. I could say, “Pick up the red block and put it in the bin,” and they would usually comply. That didn’t translate directly into them then picking up the blue block, and the yellow one…I would have to call those pieces out by name…often stating my direction over and over, lest they get distracted by the illustrious purple block on their way.

Eventually, I moved to telling Baby A to gather all the books, for example; and Baby B to pick up all the dolls.

Each of these stages took a lot of time, patience, and perseverance on my part, including a gazillion reminders along the way. While there were times it was tempting just to pick things up myself, I always try to allow for time to involve the girls at an age-appropriate level.

Over the past week, I’ve noticed a big change in the girls’ understanding, willingness, and attention span when it comes to cleaning up.

Often after supper they ask to play with their cars. (They still play with these ride-on / push cars that their legs have long-since outgrown…but they love them!) I’ll tell them they can play with their cars when the den is clean (which has always been the rule), and they’ll start scurrying around!

Baby A is our speedster…last night she quickly put all the building blocks into their bin, and then stacked all the books together. In the meantime, Baby B was gathering the dolls and stuffed animals. They did both of those tasks without any suggestions from me…they probably cleaned 60% of the den before I had to remind them to continue. I went over to direct them in putting away all the pieces to their kitchen (which can be a little tedious), and they did an amazing job!

I don’t mean to suggest I think I’m on Easy Street from here on out. If there’s any truth to “paying for your raising”, there will probably be quite a few arguments over the girls cleaning their rooms and doing their chores…

...but I like to think we’re establishing good habits.

And now if I can just work them up to unloading the dishwasher – the bane of my existence, remember? – I’ll have it made.

Bwahahaha!!!

May 7, 2011

It's a Twin Thing...

Even though I'm not juggling two newborns anymore, there are times when the "twin thing" can still be hard...

...potty training...nap schedules...zipping into the post office...

...but much more often I'm reminded how truly special it is to have TWO precious babes going through the same developmental stages together.

A few days ago I was at the sink, when I heard Baby A say, "Here you go, Sissy!" I turned around to find her feeding her sister the last couple of bites of her oatmeal.

I don't normally allow many shenanigans at the breakfast table, but I couldn't resist grabbing my camera.

I love how Baby A is concentrating so hard to feed her sis!


...just another example of how cool that "twin thing" is!!!

May 6, 2011

Fab 5 Friday...and ME!!!

Another fabulous week at A&B Enterprises!

1) The girls’ sense of humor is really starting to shine. I called Baby B out on her (very serious) “thinking face”, and Baby A started trying to make a similar face. Not only was it hilarious how she contorted her mouth, but she knew she was being funny...and milked it for all it was worth!

2) While we were in the car one afternoon this week, Baby A asked to sing “Baa, Baa Black Sheep.” I told them we should sing it together…and everyone chimed in…to an almost-identifiable tune! The girls have known the words to that song for months, as they like to say it in nursery rhyme format, but this was the best “trio” I’ve heard to date!

3) On a related note, the girls have told me a couple of times, I love Mommy to sing.” I don’t think I’ve EVER been complimented on my singing before…but I will take it!!! Although it does make me worry a bit if they’re showing early signs of tone-deafness???

4) This is not exactly mannerly, but when Baby B is really enjoying something she’s eating, she’s started making this “Mmmmm…mmmmm…mmmmm” noise. We’ll probably have to break the habit at some point, but for now I’m just enjoying her enjoyment.

5) Thursday we had The Perfect Afternoon. I needed to run a quick errand downtown. I put the girls in their stroller, we took care of our business, and I promptly headed to the coffee shop. I bought a kiddie scoop of ice cream (which is still huge!), and we headed to the fountain to share it. The weather was perfect…65 degrees, sunny, and no wind. The girls were tickled to see the fountain running after it had been turned off for the winter. We got to see people walking their dogs, and even a guy with a cockatiel (???), which they thought was pretty special. We followed that up with a walk, hand-in-hand, in the neighborhood before supper.

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

I realized Wednesday night that I was down to only a handful of diapers. (I’ve never let that happen before, but I guess my Internal Diaper Sensor is off with the drastic reduction in what we’re using…WOO HOO!!!) I made a quick run to Target, and I decided to treat myself to some new note cards. I promptly pulled into Panera, got a yummy vanilla latte in one of their awesome oversized mugs, and sat down to catch up on a little bit of correspondence. I hadn’t enjoyed any coffee-shop alone time in a while, and it sure was nice.

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May 5, 2011

Mother's Day is Bittersweet

My mom died 12 years ago, when I was 22. Her death followed an illness of several years. While it wasn’t altogether unexpected, losing my mom was still the most difficult thing I’ve ever had to deal with.

Four or five years ago, if you’d asked me if things had gotten easier with the passage of time, I would have said yes. Of course the first few days and weeks were excruciating, and the first year was very difficult...but over time, although I always missed her terribly, my heart began to heal.

When our girls were born, of course I experienced a plethora of emotions, as any new mom surely does. What I didn’t know to expect, though, was how my heart would almost physically ache at times for my own mother.

I hurt for three generations of women…

…my mom, who will never hold her grandchildren, or see her daughter as she once was herself…

…my girls, who will never know their grandmother, will never hear her laugh or sit in her lap and hear stories about their own mom…

…and for me.

Not a day goes by that I don’t wish I could share their silly anecdotes with her, knowing they would be the light of her life…or that I don’t wish I could ask her advice, or know what I did at their age.

And so, for that reason, Mother’s Day is bittersweet.

It’s definitely more sweet than bitter…as I have my precious babies to hold, and through whom I can occasionally glimpse my own mom…but what I wouldn’t give to be able to share it with her here on earth.

***

I write this post not to garner sympathy, but as what I hope will be a tiny reminder to cherish those important in our lives.

And, just as important, I write this as a reminder to take care of ourselves. For the sake of our own sons and daughters, we must put ourselves on the priority list.

I’m eating (mostly) right and exercising (mostly) regularly, and I’m taking time to schedule annual doctor visits…

…as I hope that when my girls are my age, when they will likely have families of their own, that Mother’s Day will be nothing but sweet for them.

May 4, 2011

Say What?!!!

Over the past couple of months, the girls’ communication skills have exploded. They truly keep me in stitches! Here are a few excerpts of conversation from our house this week…

Baby B is starting to talk like a miniature adult. She even has a very serious “thinking face” when she’s trying to recall something, and she nods her head in agreement with herself when she’s being emphatic. And in true Southern fashion, she likes to talk with her hands. Put those things together, and I can hardly keep a straight face most of the time.

She was sitting on the couch by herself, looking at a book with lots of animal illustrations. I heard her say, “Flamingo…that’s a type of bird,” just as pretty as you please.

She regularly says things like, “I’m enjoying my fruit,” and, “That’s very helpful.” How old is this kid, anyway???

And it was too funny when I told the girls the titles of a couple of books I had selected on Tuesday afternoon. B said, “Those are good choices.”

Both girls are very compassionate.

I pointed out a seemingly angry dog in one of our stories. Baby B said, “He’s mad. Somebody needs to give him a hug.” And Baby A added, “Ooooooooooh, tiny little puppy…I loooooove you,” as she lay her face to the page of the book.

And Baby A never fails to crack me up with her observative and often passionate commentary.

On Sunday I put the girls in halter shirts with little sweaters for a quick trip to the bookstore. When we got home, Baby A immediately peeled off her sweater. Referring to the halter straps, she said, “[Baby A] wearing some bra.” HA!

On Monday, the girls were enjoying some graham crackers that they hadn’t had in a couple of weeks. Baby A looked closely at the bunny shape and said, “I love you, bunny!”…right before she gobbled it up. (That was actually a little disturbing!)

And I couldn’t close without a little potty commentary. (C’mon…it’s my life right now!)

Of course Baby A has to inspect all her work. After one particularly productive session, she said, “Looks like an airplane!” And several times, I’ve heard her say, “I love you, stinkies!” (Again…perhaps a little disturbing!)

Disturbing or not, these little girlies sure make me smile!

May 3, 2011

The Potty-Capades: A Silver Lining

It was just over a year ago that it happened…

…I put the girls down for a nap, wearing the cutest little t-shirts, zipped snugly into their comfy blankets…

…when, an hour and a half later, I returned to find Baby A wide awake, smeared in poop.

I vowed never again to put the girls to bed in anything other than a onesie.

Baby A must have discovered the fun of opening the tape tabs on her diapers, as she seemed to take lots of joy in taking them off. The Onesie Rule quickly extended beyond the crib.

For the past year, Baby A has rarely been without a onesie. The girls wore lots of bubble suits last summer. And this winter, even if they were in shirts and pants, they were likely wearing a short-sleeved undershirt with snaps.

Baby A went through a couple of phases where she would wiggle out of her onesies in true Houdini fashion…getting her arms out, and pulling it down to step out of it…without ever unsnapping it. Thankfully, these phases were relatively short-lived.

A couple of weeks ago, Baby A figured out how to unsnap her onesies…and then, of course, she’d take her diaper off…and that ultimately marked the beginning of our potty-training adventures.

As of last Saturday, the girls have worn t-shirts a pants or shorts every day…actually, the easier to get off and on, the better.

It’s been freeing.

It’s so much easier to get the girls dressed, and they look so stinkin’ cute in their big girl outfits!

And, as I was shopping for some knit separates this weekend, it dawned on me that the girls deserve something extra-special to mark this momentous occasion…their first pair of pajamas!

I bought the girls the cutest little pajama sets. And if Spring will ever decide to stick around for a while, I can’t wait to see them dressed for bed.

And yes, for any of you doing the math, I very quickly sunk the next three months’ diaper savings into some new wardrobe items for the girls…but I just couldn’t resist.

This is one silver lining I hadn’t even considered as part of the Potty-Capades, but this is one surprise that this mama is loving!

May 2, 2011

The Potty-Capades: Day 10

[Warning: This is a long post. I’m writing this to document how things have progressed over the past week…knowing it will bring a smile to reflect on this milestone one day…and hoping it might be useful to someone else, too.]

Today is Baby A’s tenth day wearing undies. And while last week was a real exercise in patience and stamina (such that I truly deserved that Dairy Queen Blizzard on Thursday!), I’m very happy to report that we’re doing pretty well!

My Methodology
Baby A has been wearing undies exclusively during the daytime. I’ve put her in a diaper for naptime and at night.

We have a potty chair in the kitchen, just adjacent to the den / playroom. While I was originally anti-potty chair, this solution ultimately made sense for us, as it keeps Baby A’s potty activities close to her sister playing in the den. That has made potty time less about “escaping” the playroom, and allows me to stay much closer to Baby B.

We have a potty ring on the upstairs toilet, which Baby A uses just before nap / bedtime, and immediately when she gets up. She uses both the potty chair and potty ring just fine, and I’m very thankful for her “flexibility”.

The first two or three days, I would ask Baby A at least every hour if she needed to sit on the potty. She rarely answered no (if ever), and each time she would at least do a little something. After a few days, I decided to play things a little more by ear to allow her to adjust to telling me if she needed to go. She has done really well with this arrangement. Now the only time I ask her is if it’s been more than an hour and a half since she last went…particularly if she’s really engaged in playing.

I dug out some lap pads from the girls’ infant days. I put one in each of their high chairs and car seats, and called them “cushions…to make them more comfortable”. We haven’t had any accidents in either place, but I thought that was a good safeguard in case we did.

The Mess
You (may) know me…I’m a germophobe! But I am pleasantly surprised – and so thankful! – to report that the mess has been nominal.

On Day 2, we had two accidents that required spot-cleaning the carpet, but it wasn’t bad at all. We’ve had a few other slip-ups, but nothing outside the confines of the undies / knit pants.

The last few accidents were of the stinky variety, but I hope I have gotten a handle on those. (We’re hoping for Day 3 of no accidents today!) I think Baby A was being impatient, not willing to see things through to the end of a given initiative. I was able to give her some extra encouragement during one of her efforts to get her to finish everything on the potty…and she’s done a great job since then.

The Marathon
I reported last week that Baby A was giving me quite the workout, breaking each potty session into six or eight “deliveries”…each of which (in her mind) warranted a trip from the potty chair to the toilet to empty the little cup.

I tried several approaches…telling her we wouldn’t empty the cup until it was full to a certain point…encouraging her to make “friends” for her stinkies. (Sorry for the visual…I was desperate!) There were a handful of times that I downright refused to empty three drops of urine from the little cup, but otherwise I basically went with it, hoping she’d eventually wear herself out.

She’s not exactly where I’d like her to be, but we’re making progress. I’d say we’re down from six or eight mini-sessions, to sometimes as few as two.

I’ve tried to remain as calm and collected as possible, being very matter-of-fact about the entire deal. I am generally upbeat and encouraging, but I only do jumping jacks for her when she makes a lot at once.

Sleeping
Earlier in the week I also reported that Baby A was waking up in the mornings and from her naps, screaming. That only lasted four or five days. I finally thought to tell her it’s OK if she makes tee-tee or stinkies in her diaper while she sleeps, and this seems to have done the trick. Prior to me giving her that reassurance, I am guessing she may have been upset with herself for waking up wet.

In Hindsight
I did not implement any kind of reward system, and I stand by that. Because Baby B is nowhere near ready to train, I just couldn’t see giving a reward to Baby A – whether it be a marshmallow or a sticker chart – and not give anything to her sister…or to allow her sister to share in the rewards “just because”.

I originally made a huge deal out of getting to flush the potty, positioning that as the “reward”. Of course she wanted to flush after every little tinkle, which was not a good idea (resulting in Hubby having to make a trip home from work one day to un-stop the toilet...oops!).

When I introduced the potty chair, I made a huge deal out of her getting to help Mommy empty the little cup. And I think that led to a lot of our back-and-forth challenges.

As I’ve been in wear-her-down mode, I haven’t thought precisely about what I would have done in hindsight, but I just throw these cautions out…to think through whatever kind of “reward” system you put in place (as if we can climb inside a two-year old’s mind and imagine how crafty she might get…HA!).

The Twin Factor
Honestly, I think the biggest challenge over the past couple of weeks has been juggling the very different needs of the girls. I have no choice but to respond to Baby A’s needs to sit on the potty, and this means Baby B’s wants have been pushed aside a lot.

For the most part, Baby B has been an incredible trooper. She’s played well by herself when her sister is otherwise occupied, and when she’s gotten upset, she’s gotten over it quickly.

The worst has been that she – understandably – wants to be able to see what her sister (and her mommy) are doing at all times. Having the potty chair adjacent to the den solves a big part of the equation…but Baby B has often been caught standing on the back of an armchair in order to glimpse us going down the hall to the bathroom.

It absolutely petrifies me when she does that.

Under other circumstances I would take more direct action (time-out), but I feel like I know why’s she’s doing that…and I don’t want her to somehow think I’m trying to exclude her from the goings-on in the house.

I’ve tried to strike some type of compromise, in that I told her she can sit on the back of the chair, not stand. I don’t like that, either, but it seems to have helped the situation a little bit.

Fast Food (and Usually Cold, Too)
One of the goofier challenges of the past couple of weeks is that I have to be very attune to Baby A’s needs, and be able to respond to them very quickly. While there have been a couple of times she’s had to wait for one reason or another – and she did so very well – when she says she needs to go, I want her to be able to go.

If I’m in the middle of slicing strawberries, I can drop things pretty quickly to be able to assist Baby A. But I’ve taken to preparing the girls’ breakfast ahead of them getting up…as I can’t risk an unplanned interlude while I’m cooking eggs.

It seems like Baby A often needs to potty just before supper, so we’ve all eaten a lot of lukewarm meals.

The Confinement
I’ve long read that when you potty train, you should pick a time in which you know you can stay home for a week…so I was prepared for a period of confinement.

On Tuesday, Day 4 of the Potty-Capades, I chanced a short walk in the neighborhood. I waited until Baby A had used the potty, and I quickly put on socks and ushered us out the door. She did a great job, and that fresh air never smelled so sweet!

On Thursday, Day 6, I again took the girls for a walk. We were about three blocks from home when Baby A told me she needed to sit on the potty. I told her we were heading home, and to wait as best she could. She was the one who kept stopping to look at squirrels and dogs, despite my urging, but she made it home just fine. She was content with me taking her shoes off, and then she made a beeline for the potty! (It was actually pretty cute!)

On Saturday, a full week into our training, we chanced our first trip in the car. Immediately after nap, after Baby A sat on the potty, we loaded up and went for some frozen yogurt. We were gone less than 45 minutes, and again, she did great. She didn’t even need to use the potty for another hour after we got home.

I imagine we’ll try to work in a few short outings over the next couple of weeks. I’m not sure how things will progress from there, but I am looking forward to a field trip to Target at some point!

Stay tuned tomorrow for the exciting conclusion to this post, “The Silver Lining”.
 
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