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June 30, 2011

Gorgeous Give-away!

As part of the 52 Weeks of ME! Challenge "Halfway There Giveaway Event", I'm so excited to be giving away a really awesome pair of handmade earrings!


I love to buy local, and I discovered the neatest little bead shop in town, filled with gorgeous baubles and beautiful handmade jewelry.

It's a treat for me to be able to steal away and shop there from time to time...it's not some place I would take the girls just yet, so it feels like a little retail oasis!

These earrings were handmade by the owner of the shop...Swarovski pearls in black, with galvanized silver delica beads on sterling silver leverback posts.

Wouldn't it put a nice bounce in your step to wear these?

If you'd like to win them, just leave a comment, telling me your favorite way to pamper yourself.
Easy-peasy...that's it...one entry per person through July 7. The winner will be announced on July 8.

P.S. I'd love to have you follow my blog if you don't already do so...and/or follow me on Twitter @Twin Triumphs!

[And because I can't stand the thought of alienating my international friends, the giveaway is open to anyone. And because there are a handful of SuperDads who might just have found themselves here...please feel free to enter, too. I won't judge if you decide to keep these for yourself, but I'd bet your wife would really like them.]

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Click HERE to check out all the great giveaways as part of this event...and/or enter your own!

Beauty is Big and Broad

For myself, I honestly don’t think much about “beauty” on a daily basis.

As part of my de-hobo-ization initiative, I make an effort to get dressed in “real” clothes every day…at least a pair of Capri pants or shorts and a decent t-shirt…something I can wear comfortably around the house, and still make a quick run to the grocery store.

I have a pretty simple wash-and-dry hairstyle. If I’m feeling really fancy, I’ll throw on a little makeup.

But after I get dressed in the mornings, I don’t pay much attention to myself as I walk by the mirror. I might give myself a quick glance if I’m heading out somewhere...or I might not.

Kinda like my age, I figure my appearance is what it is. I do the best I can…I’m reasonably well-groomed, and I’m healthy…and I have plenty of other things to occupy my mind.

Still, “beauty” is on my mind with respect to my girls.

We live in a world with a lot of mirrors. I don’t think my “it is what it is”, “outta sight and outta mind” approach will fully equip the girls to see through the inevitable smoke that they’ll encounter.

Of course I think my girls are the most stunning creatures on the planet, and I can’t help but tell them so. I think it’s important that they hear it, but I don’t want to over-emphasize it, either.

For one, I know I tell my girls, “You’re Mommy’s most beautiful baby girl!” at some pretty random times…times that – at least by grown-up culture standards – most folks don’t tend to look very “beautiful”…

…like when they wake up and have crazy bed-head and sleepy eyes…like during supper when they have the remains of baked ziti on their faces, and watermelon juice dripping down their chins…like when they’re hot and sweaty (their cheeks aglow in rosy red)…

And I really try to use the word “beautiful” to describe a lot of different things…

...as in, “What a beautiful plate of vegetables!”…”What a beautiful story!”…”What a beautiful song!

As we try to instill our values in our children, and equip them to face this big, bad, beautiful world of ours, I think the tendency sometimes is not to talk about beauty…to reinforce that it doesn’t matter.

After a lot of thought over the past couple of years, I don’t think that’s the complete answer.

The answer – for me – is to try to show the girls that “beauty” is everywhere. It’s big and broad in its definition. It’s a feeling, an appreciation. And it’s inside me, and inside them.

June 29, 2011

Grocery Store Lessons

The girls go with me to the grocery store about once a week. I usually reserve the “my pantry and crisper drawers are empty”-magnitude trips for when I’m by myself, but for shorter trips, I think it’s a great exercise for the girls.

They see me making my grocery list…checking my recipes…looking at the sale paper…organizing my coupons.

[One of their new pastimes is looking at sale papers! It’s so funny to see them spread out, looking intently at all the items on sale at the drug store for the week!]

At the grocery, we talk about the fruits and veggies, the pictures on the boxes of cereal and crackers, and we usually pay a visit to the little man who works behind the sushi counter.

It’s a fun trip – a great diversion from the confines of the house – and I feel like the girls learn stuff, too.

The girls have been playing “grocery shopping” for quite a while. They’ve long said, “I’m going grocery shopping with my baby,” and they’ll put a purse or a bucket over their arm, grab their baby doll, and march off around the den, collecting things.

Lately, the game has really escalated, and there are actually some good lessons to be learned.

I sometimes help the girls organize all their play food on one side of the den. We separate everything into four categories – fruits, vegetables, breads, and dairy.

Then we return to the girls’ kitchen to make our grocery list. A couple of times recently, I’ve actually gotten out a piece of paper and a pen to write down what the girls said. This is the list they constructed a couple of days ago, all by themselves:

Broccoli
Milk
Eggs
Diapers
Wipes
Chocolate
Chicken
Purple medicine
Pink medicine
Oranges
Strawberries
Cantaloupe
Cheese
Garlic
Napkins
Watermelon
Salsa
Soap
Beach towels
Power towels

Baby A had told me earlier in the morning, at random, as she was playing by herself, “Broccoli is on sale, Mommy!” so that went on the list first. As we were making our list, Baby B said, “Lily [her doll] needs medicine!” I asked her what kind, and she said, “Purple!” Baby A added that her doll also needed medicine, but pink.

The girls watched me write each word, and I spelled aloud as I made the list.

After our list was complete, I talked through which items we had coupons for – the paper and baby items and the cheese – and circled those on the list.

Then we went shopping from the piles we made across the room. I try to keep the girls focused on just picking up what’s on our list…but two-year olds are prone to impulse shopping.

This trip, they picked up both their plastic ice cream cones to add to their bucket. [They may or may not have seen their mama fall prey to such temptations at the actual grocery store...ahem...]

After our list was exhausted, I ask the girls how much they needed to pay. This is always a funny answer…it’s often “forty dollars”, but sometimes it might be as little as “two dollars”, or as random as “two…five…”. I might then count the items – say we have 12 – and tell them each costs $2, so the total bill is $24.

I remind the girls to use their coupons, and then we’re off to cook our goodies.

Lots of good stuff going on here in my book…the classification of items, planning and list-making, the appreciation (or at least awareness) of sales and coupons and numbers and money.

I just wish I could harness some of their energy for all my shopping trips!

June 28, 2011

What Makes You Feel Beautiful?

Over the past several months, I’ve been thinking a lot about “beauty”.

I’ve been reading Julia’s weekly posts on the subject, and I also recently read a book about the “princess” culture in today’s world.

I am raising two little girls. I think that “beauty” is definitely a topic that warrants some contemplation.

Multiples & More asked the question a couple of months ago, “What makes you feel beautiful?

I thought it was a fun prompt, and I started thinking about that for myself. Let’s see…

…I feel beautiful when I have on my smokin’ hot jeans…

…I feel beautiful when I have on a trendy new top or dress, or a power suit…

…I feel beautiful when I wear high heels…

…I feel beautiful when I take the time to dry my hair “just right”…


Whoa.

If those are the things that make me feel “beautiful”, then I must spend a lot of time in the dumps, huh?

Since the girls were born two and a half years ago, I haven’t had regular occasion to don my coolest jeans, or wear a power suit. My high heels are mostly gathering dust in my closet. And I surely don’t have the time to spend on my hair every day.

That realization made me step back a bit and take stock. I don’t walk around feeling “dumpy” all the time…so surely I was missing something, right?

Upon further consideration, I thought about taking away the hand-held mirror and asking that question again…

…I feel beautiful when I’m out for a walk with the girls…even when I’m smeared with sunscreen and all sweaty from the jogging stroller…

…I feel beautiful when I read to the girls, when I encourage them to construct the most elaborate block towers, when I help them organize a huge picnic for their dollies…

…I feel beautiful when I sit down for a meal with my family, and see us all enjoying the same dishes, knowing that I’ve used fresh ingredients that are good for us and taste good…

…I feel beautiful when I drink water…

…I feel beautiful when I steal away for an hour by myself in the coffee shop, book in hand…

…I feel beautiful when I relax on the patio with the hubs and talk about the day…


This exercise made me think about the much larger definition of beauty.

I feel beautiful when I’m confident…when I’m taking care of myself and my family to the best of my ability…when I feel like I’m where I’m “supposed” to be.

And of course, on the rare occasions when I can actually dry my hair, and maybe even wear some high-heeled sandals when I take the girls to the market…well, that’s icing on the cake.

***

I plan to write more on “beauty” later in the week, with respect to my thoughts on raising girls. But for today, I’m linking this post up with Holly at Twins Plus One, Three Times the Fun, and her new meme, “What I Love About Me!

Hope you have a “beautiful” day!

June 25, 2011

In Utero Name Game

It was roughly three years ago when our first sonogram showed not one – but TWO – heartbeats on the screen.

A handful of my closest friends were in on the news, and at some point I gave the babies “code names” so we could talk about them more freely.

Of course at the time we didn’t know the gender of the babies, so I assumed that one was a boy, and one was a girl.

As we were in the middle of the Democratic primary debates, I began calling one baby “Barack” and one baby “Hillary”.

We had all sorts of fun conversations about the elbows being thrown in there. And the best standing joke was, “Which one is on the left?

We had our telling ultrasound at around 18 weeks, when I learned the genders of the babies. I came back to work, beaming at the thought of two healthy babies…and at the fun of telling my friends that we no longer had Barack and Hillary, but rather Hillary and Michelle [Obama].

It wasn’t long after that that Hubby and I decided on the girls’ names. [FYI: Baby A’s name actually starts with “A” and Baby B’s name actually starts with “B”.]

We weren’t keeping the names a secret, so “Hillary and Michelle” were soon replaced with the girls’ actual names.

It’s been a long time since I thought of my little ones so fondly in the context of political debates…but the memory definitely brings a smile (and a chuckle!).

Did your baby/-ies have code names in utero? Did you share their intended names before they were born?

June 24, 2011

Fab 5 Friday...and ME!!!

Another fabulous week of summer!

1) The girls’ pretend play has extended into more personal care this week. They’ve been playing “haircut” with each other, and it’s so cute to see one sitting patiently while the other pretends to cut her hair (with a plastic butter knife from their play kitchen). I have to admit, though, that it does make me a bit nervous…I hope they get this play pattern out of their systems before they have access to real scissors one day!

2) Baby A was playing restaurant, and she said, “I work at Garcia’s!” I asked her what she did there, and she replied, “I organize the workers.” That’s my girl…her eyes on a managerial position already!

3) Over supper one night we were talking about familial relationships, that I am the girls’ mommy, and I am Daddy’s wife. Later they were playing with a couple of Little People figures, and they kept saying, of the girl, “This is my wife, Mandy!” Hahaha!!!

4) On Father’s Day morning, I went into the girls room and asked them, “Do you know what today is?” Baby B’s eyes began to twinkle, and she started to wiggle her little behind. French toast?! she exclaimed. I reminded them it was Father's Day. She looked a little bewildered until I assured her they could have their French toast in celebration of Father’s Day, too.

5) Forever now we’ve been walking past the carousel at the mall, waving to the horses and all the other animals. The girls get so excited just to see the lights and mirrors, and they’ve been talking about what animal they would ride “one day”.

We were at the mall on Tuesday with a little time to spare, and on a whim, we decided to let the girls ride the carousel for the first time. They were BEYOND excited! Baby A chose the kitty cat, and B was content to ride a horse next to her sister (although I think she really had her eye on the ostrich).

When we got on the carousel, the girls got a little spooked at the enormity of it all…and I had to bob up and down alongside the kitty cat to allow Baby A’s death grip during the ride. But they were all smiles when the ride was over, and it’s all they’ve been able to talk about the remainder of the week.

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

On Monday, despite the 400-degree temps, I was craving a piping hot latte. I indulged my craving over naptime, rationalizing that’s what air conditioning is for!

…AND…

On Wednesday Miss Jennifer was here with the girls for a couple of hours, and Hubby and I had planned to go refrigerator shopping. As it was our anniversary, we decided last moment to blow off that plan and enjoy some time downtown. We sat outside and indulged in some appetizers and drinks, and topped it off with ice cream [for him] and another latte [for me] at the coffee shop. The weather that afternoon was really nice – almost cool, even! – so it was just a perfect afternoon all around…and SO much better than ogling over refrigerators!!!


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Thanks so much to dollimama for hosting the 52 Weeks of ME! Challenge...and I hope you'll consider linking up with us NEXT WEEK for LOTS of awesome GIVEAWAYS!

June 23, 2011

A Bit About Me (and Hubby), June Edition

My birthday is on February 23rd, and on the 23rd of each month, I've taken to sharing a couple of random things about me.

As yesterday marked our twelfth wedding anniversary, I’m dedicating this month’s “A Bit About Me” to twelve things about our wedding / marriage to date.

[And yes, that means I was 12 when we got married…no way am I old enough to really have been married TWELVE YEARS!!!]



1) Hubby and I knew each other for four and a half years before we got engaged, and we’d been dating for just over three years.

2) I picked out my engagement ring a couple of months prior to when my hubby proposed. I was fine with that…it ensured I got the ring I wanted…but I told him he had to figure out the proposal on his own.

3) Hubby proposed to me on New Year’s Eve 1998, on the beach, at sunset. I don’t remember anyone else being on the beach, but there was a group of people on a nearby balcony. We didn’t see them until after I said “yes”, and they all clapped for us.

4) Our engagement was just less than six months. We didn’t have a big wedding, so we didn’t need a lot of time to plan, so that length was just perfect in my book.

5) We got married on a Tuesday afternoon, on what would have been my parents’ 25th wedding anniversary.

6) We got married in an old antebellum mansion, just off the University of Alabama campus. For a short period of time, that house had served as the state capital.

7) We had a small wedding…only about 40 close friends and family…and no wedding attendants. I actually loved the idea of standing in front of everyone with only my husband.

8) We had stargazer lilies as part of the decorations at the reception. I love the way they look, but hate the way they smell! Nonetheless, that smell always reminds me (fondly!) of our wedding day.

9) Everything went as planned during our wedding…except that I forgot my bouquet. I didn’t realize it until I was all the way down the aisle. Oops!

10) I wore something old [my mom’s wedding ring], something new [my wedding dress], something borrowed [pearl earrings from my grandmother that my dad had given her], and something blue [an embroidered handkerchief from my aunt]. I love traditions!

11) We went to Cancun on our honeymoon. We vowed we’d go back every five years to celebrate. We made it there for our fifth anniversary…but for our tenth, we were a little busy with a couple of five-month olds! We’re aiming to make up for it on our fifteenth anniversary, when we hope to take the girls with us!

12) In the first four years of our marriage, we lived in four states and owned four houses. Thankfully, the past eight years have been much more settled!

It's not always been easy (nor do I think it's supposed to have been)...but it's mostly been fun...and I can't imagine sharing this journey with anyone else.

June 22, 2011

Childhood Horror Stories...Or Have I Just Gotten Sensitive in My Old Age???

When the girls were infants, I spent endless hours just reading to them. I cycled through every children’s book from their bookshelves [several times!], including a large number of books from when I was a child.

I read several collections of fairytales to the girls. If not from my own childhood, I at least remembered from high school and college literature studies that fairytales often have a pretty violent twist to them…and my recollections were confirmed many times over.

The evil plots, death, and acid-trip scenarios (a la Alice in Wonderland) were enough to give this hormonal post-partum mama nightmares…but I rationalized that the girls were too young to be affected by the content…as long as I didn’t get too theatrical with my “Fee-Fi-Fo-Fums”.

We largely moved away from fairytales before the girls turned a year old, in favor of picture books, and then more simple text.

For the girls’ second birthday, I found what I thought was a great collection “first” fairytales, simplified versions of several classic stories.

It wasn’t long before I shelved that book, too, though. The idea of the poor miller’s daughter promising to give her first-born child to Rumplestiltskin was more than I thought the girls needed to know about the slave trade.

And the prince having to find a “real” princess, one that could detect a pea under twenty blankets and twenty mattresses…what kind of lesson is that?

Although these stories were still fresh in my mind, I made an impulse purchase off the clearance table at the bookstore last week (one that I’ve since returned). I saw “The Three Bill Goats Gruff”, and I couldn’t help but smile at the sweet memory of my parents’ “trip-trop, trip-trop” as the goats crossed that bridge.

When I got home and paged through the book (ahead of reading it to the girls, thank goodness!), I was horrified to read:

Well, come along! I’ve got two spears,
And I’ll poke your eyeballs out at your ears!
I’ve got besides two great, flat stones,
And I’ll crush you to bits, body and bones!


Did my parents read that to me??? Did they edit the text and replace it with something less sinister??? Or did they read it to me in all its guts and glory…and perhaps then sent me to electro-shock therapy sessions to suppress such ugly memories???

No doubt I grew up reading all these classic tales. And – at least in my opinion – I don’t seem to be too scarred. And while I love the notion of sharing things I remember from my childhood with my girlies, I can’t seem to bring myself to read them many of these stories.

Certainly there are many other parts of my childhood – like baking and climbing trees – that I can share with my girls without fearing so much for their psychological wellbeing.

But will my girls be missing an integral part of growing up without reading “The Princess and the Pea”?

Or should I go ahead and read them those stories, while I squirrel away a bit of money each month for future electro-shock therapy sessions???

June 20, 2011

Attitude Mirrors

I saw a post on Facebook a few days ago that I can’t quite shake from my mind…

…a mom remarked how she was watching her two-year old yelling at her dolls. “Is that what I sound like?” And then, the kicker, “LMAO!

I won’t say that I never “yell” at our girls. There are certainly times when I raise my voice. There have been times when I’ve regretted doing that, and there have been times when I thought it was the appropriate response.

By in large, though, I really try to maintain a positive attitude around the girls, praising what they are doing right, rewarding them for trying.

For a long time I’ve enjoyed listening to the girls “talk” to their dolls, and interact with each other. There’s nothing sweeter than hearing, “Nice try, Abby!” [one of the girls’ dolls], or “Great job, Sissy!

Since reading that Facebook status, I’ve become even more aware of how I sound to my girls.

I think I would be doing my girls a disservice if I sheltered them to only see rainbows and butterflies and think that everyone was always smiling. I think it’s healthy for them to see anger, sadness, disappointment…and I hope learn how to handle those emotions in a healthy way.

But by in large, I want them to feel surrounded by positivity. It’s good for them, and it’s good for me, too.

If anything, I worry I’ve begun to create a couple of little monsters. Baby B, in particular, makes me laugh. Out for a walk, she might point out something she sees, “That’s honeysuckle!” If I don’t immediately acknowledge her, she’s prone to “acknowledge” herself…”You’re right, [Baby B]!” she’ll exclaim!

And on a related note, I’m waaay accident prone…always knocking my knee into something, or stubbing my toe…and the presence of high chairs and pack-and-plays and baby gates has given me so many more obstacles on which to hurt myself.

Since the time the girls were tiny, I have become very good at saying, “Grrrrrr!” or “D’oooooh!” when I inevitably knock myself a good one. I had to pat myself on the back a few days ago. Baby A accidentally made a little mess. Her automatic response was “Ruh roh!” [a la Scooby Doo].

It’s no surprise that kiddos are little parrots. I’m sure the day that I do slip up and let a curse word slip, it will become the girls’ new favorite word.

And I’m reminding myself that the girls serve as a pretty good mirror, too.

When they look at me, I want them to predominantly see me smiling at them…even through two-year old trials and stubbed toes.

June 19, 2011

Father's Day Top 10

This year for Father's Day, we're doing a repeat of last year's Father's Day gift.

I just love this idea so much, we may well do it as long as I can coax the girls into making handprints...which I think surely I can do until they're at least 20, right?



On the center card: "The Top 10 Reasons We Think You're the Best Daddy in the World", on which I listed some of the fun things the girls love to do with their daddy...

1. You help us build the best “structures” with our blocks, and the tallest towers.

2. You are an expert tambourine-roller.

3. You never tire of sampling our tea and lemonade, and all our culinary creations.

4. You show us how to be super sweet to our furry sister Sasha.

5. You sing “Found a Peanut” every night, even though we know it’s not your favorite song, and you make up all sorts of silly lyrics to “Baa-Baa Black Sheep” at our requests.

6. Two words…tickle time!!!

7. We love to “do jedan”…and we know you do, too. [count in Serbian]

8. You give us nose kisses the first thing when you come home from work, and you talk to us through the window in the backyard when you cut the grass.

9. You’re an expert snuggler.

10. You’re ours.


I love how this list contrasts to last year's, which included things like "you give the best shoulder rides" and "you know the perfect temperature for our bathwater". And of course I love seeing how the girls' hands have grown in the last 12 months.

Happy Father's Day to my girls' sweet daddy! (And to my sweet dad, the girls' granddaddy, too!)

June 18, 2011

Visiting Australia, Then and Now

…well, not really Australia (as the thought of crossing state lines with the girls can send me into quite a frenzy)…but the Australian wildlife reserve that’s about 30 miles from our house (and I can handle 30 miles)…

We took the girls on our first “field trip” of the summer this week, to a very neat Australian zoopark. We took the girls last year in June, as well. Actually more incredible than being up close and personal with a kangaroo was seeing how much the girls have grown in 12 months’ time!

Last year we left after the girls’ morning nap and lunch, which put us there in the heat of the day. This year we were able to head out first thing in the morning, which meant there was a lot less “glistening” in most of the pictures.

We still chose to push the girls in their stroller. The girls could have walked the park, but there’s quite a hike to get from the parking lot to the wooded park area that they wouldn’t have been able to handle…and I didn’t want to tote a baby and a ginormous bag containing a potty seat.



2010


2011



Last year the girls loved seeing the huge exhibit with all the different types of birds. They did this year, as well, although Baby B seemed pretty alarmed with how LOUD some of the birds were.

Last year, the girls were just as taken with seeing a dog (from the sheep herding exhibit) as they were any of the more exotic animals. This year they still loved the dog, a cow, and the sheep, but the swan – who we saw “taking a bath” (as the girls say) – probably topped their list.

Last year, we held the girls close to the kangaroos, but there was no touching. This year, Baby B would have liked to have hidden in my pocket when we got close to the kangaroos, but Baby A would have ridden one, I think, if she could have! She LOVED petting them, along with an emu.




This year we got to see a new exhibit, Cecil the tortoise. Baby B was terrified (in fairness, he was about their size!), but Baby A was pretty interested. Both girls continue to talk about Cecil…and remark that they saw Cecil the Turtle, NOT Grandpa Cecil (HA!).





But the biggest change this year versus last is that the girls are TALKING!!! Last year, I have pictures of them signing some of the different animals. This year we were having full-fledged conversations…and they’ve recounted much of those conversations over the past couple of days.



2010: Baby A, signing "hat"



2010: Baby B, signing "bird"



2011: The girls were ready to GO!



(One of the cuter exchanges was seeing a dingo exhibit, which looked much like dogs. I was telling the girls about the dingoes, and they immediately started singing “B-I-N-G-O”, one of their favorite songs. I kept trying to stress “Dingo”, but I’m not sure that concept took!)

Before we left, I helped the girls each choose a postcard, and I told them they could start a scrapbook of our field trips. I’ve gotta get on that this weekend, as they’re very excited about it!

And lastly, on the way home, it was dangerously close to lunchtime, and we’d skipped the girls’ mid-morning snack. This park is in the middle of nowhere, so our options were limited, but I had spotted a Pizza Hut on the drive in.

We treated the girls to their first buffet experience. Kids under three eat free, and our girls really got our money’s worth. I lost count of how much pizza they ate – as they were eating it as fast as I could cut it -- but at least it was veggie pizza! :)

In addition to the talking, and the walking, and the petting, it was so neat to see the girls sitting in real chairs, eating pizza, and drinking water from real cups.

In so, SO many ways…what a difference a year makes!!!

June 17, 2011

Fab 5 Friday...and ME!!!

I’m loving this fabulous summer with my girlies!!! We’ve had a couple of “field trips”, some great fun outside, and lots of family time together.

1) My family came up for a short visit on Friday, and it was so great to see the girls having such a blast with them. Friends and neighbors are wonderful, but family is priceless.

2) The girls have started referring to themselves occasionally as Mommy’s baby girls,” as in, “What are Mommy’s baby girls gonna have for supper?” I just can’t get over the cuteness factor!

3) The girls have continued to be very into pretend play this week. A big focus seems to have been taking care of their baby dolls. They’ve always fed them, and taken them to run errands, but this week they’ve been very focused on personal grooming…cutting their babies’ nails (holding a butter knife from their kitchen – yikes!)…giving their babies baths in the kitchen sink…and drying their babies’ hair (with a ring-stacker toy as a hairdryer…even though their babies are bald!).

One day they kept talking about putting their babies’ swimsuits on. I moved a pillow in the midst of their play, and Baby A almost charged at me. “Abby’s swimsuit!!!” she cried. She pretended to grab something from where I’d put the pillow, and went running off to outfit her doll. HA!

4) One evening before bed, I saw the girls snuggled up together, and B was stroking A’s face. “I see your eyebrows,” she said. Then A said, “Beep your nose!” and touched her sister on the nose. It didn’t last long, but it was so sweet!

5) The girls’ language and reasoning continues to amaze me. Baby A saw my coffee one day and said, “I see some steam. That means it’s hot.” And B came downstairs one morning and looked out the window. “It rained overnight,” she said. WOW!

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

I took advantage of having the hubby home and ventured out during the girls’ naptime on Monday. I needed to run to the craft store, and I took my time, milling around. Milling! I looked at things I didn’t even need!

And then I still had time to run by the bead store, which – although I don’t know anything about jewelry design – it always makes me feel crafty just to be there. More milling!

I topped it off by picking up an enormously large Diet Coke on the way home.

I was only gone about an hour, but that “milling” was time well spent!

Thanks - as always! - to the Great dollimama for hosting my favorite link-up of the week! And check out the plans for the first week of July...an awesome link-up GIVEAWAY! It's gonna be lots of fun...you should join us!!!

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June 15, 2011

Things Two-Year Olds Say...

There’s no doubt that the girls crack me up on an hourly basis in some form or fashion.

They clown around, and they play the funniest pretend games. Some of the best times are listening to the “stories” they tell and their oft-altered lyrics to songs.

It’s amazing how just hearing them over the monitor for a few minutes in the mornings tells such a story. I try to write down some of their antics every few weeks, as it’s a great gauge as to how their little minds are growing every single day.

Making headlines (or at least journal entries) this week…

On Sunday morning, the girls were up [a little too] bright and early. I went into their room, and Baby A gave me a huge hug, and Baby B greeted me with the biggest smile. “Daddy’s on vacation!” she exclaimed. “We’re doing to have a fun day!

And then I felt a little guilty for rolling my eyes at the time on the clock downstairs. How sweet that the girls were so excited to start their day.

I tried to get B to recount to Daddy what she’d said to me. “Daddy’s on…” and she correctly filled in “…vacation!” “We’re going to have a…” and she filled in “…family breakfast!” There she was, warming my heart again.

As I was fixing our family breakfast, B was playing and talking to herself. “Daddy’s on vacation! We’re going to have a fun day!” And then she said, “Mommy’s not on vacation.

I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.

***

My aunt and uncle gave the girls some adorable pink-and-white striped overalls last week as a belated birthday gift. I let them try the overalls on and run around the den for a few minutes (while I tried to snap pictures, of course).

The girls both kept saying, “We’re wearing our wedding dresses!

My husband and I got a big kick out of that. I know we’re from the south, and all…but, when the time comes, I think we can probably do a little better than pink overalls!

Another day, another hundred laughs!

June 14, 2011

Early Productions

I blogged yesterday how every single action seemed to be such a production when the girls were first born…

...tandem feeding, baths, even a journey downstairs took some planning!

Per doctor’s orders, the girls didn’t leave the house until they were three months old. And then, once they got the all-clear, it took me a while to muster the courage to get them out-and-about on my own.

Still quite scared of the germ field outside the walls of our abode, I finally concocted what I thought would be a good first outing…a mid-day visit to Starbucks. I reasoned that there would be few people there if I timed it right, and – once I paid for my coffee – I could make a hasty exit if needed.

I psyched myself up for the adventure, working through the logistics of each step in my mind, and I got the girls dressed after their “lunch”.

I’m so thankful I paused to take a picture before we left…it’s one of my all-time favorites!


(And those were the days where I could just “prop” the girls and take a bunch of shots…without having to worry with them running off in different directions, trying to grab my camera to take pictures of each other, or insisting on having their pictures made with all their dollies!)

The girls and I made it safely to Starbucks. By the time we got there, they were asleep in their car seat carriers. I carefully loaded the carriers into their stroller, and strolled in to enjoy a very peaceful cup of coffee.

It was bliss! And I was so proud of myself!


And I can’t help but laugh at remembering the look on my husband’s face when he came home that afternoon and I told him I’d taken the girls to Starbucks. (The look suggested he thought I’d actually given them coffee…HA!)

While each new adventure – still – can seem like a production, the more “mommy milestones” I get under my belt, the more confident I become.

Fast-forward two years from our first girl-time at the coffee shop, and my goal this summer is to take the girls out by myself, for at least a snack, without their stroller.

Cue a bit of anxiety on my part…but I hope they’ll let me take their picture before we go…and I’m sure I’ll be able to look back this time next year and marvel – as always – at how far we’ve all come.

June 12, 2011

Life, Interrupted

When I was pregnant, several people shared some sentiment about “changing your life to fit the baby, versus making the baby fit into your life.” The implication was that – if you managed things correctly – you’d carry right on with the world, your go-with-the-flow baby in tow.

In theory, that made great sense to me. I was very happy with who I was, and I was eager to share that with my children.

But maybe that theory is part of why I was so completely shell-shocked when the girls were born. And I couldn’t help but think that all the people who said that to me never had multiples!

I went from working 60-hour weeks, my off time spent eating out and watching TV and napping and shopping and cooking leisurely…to feeding babies ‘round the clock, my off time spent doing laundry and washing dishes and occasionally trying to sleep.

Of course I knew my life would change drastically when the girls were born, but I couldn’t have anticipated the full magnitude of that change.

And even more, I never would have imagined how much of a “production” it seemed like every action was.

Particularly because I was such a schedule hound, there was very little go-with-the-flow when it came to feedings…and what else do you do with infants?

I was deathly afraid of two things…one, that our girls would somehow become out of sync with each other’s schedules…and two, that our girls would somehow mix up their days and their nights. That fear kept me on the straight and narrow, for sure.

And then, when the girls weren’t being fed, I really had to muster my stamina to do anything else.

The example I always cite is needing to buy some stamps. With one baby, I envision that you’d swing the carrier over your arm and zip into the post office. Sure, it wouldn’t be as quick as if you were alone, but it would still be relatively easy, right?

With two babies, there would most certainly be a stroller involved, and I’d have to be able to negotiate any bumps in the sidewalk and non-automatic doors. It’s still doable…but I probably wouldn’t go to the hassle just for a book of stamps!

Between the near-constant demands and the failed expectation that the babies should just fit into our lives, I started to feel smothered, and far over-burdened.

But then one day, I tried to think of that adage in a larger context.

Sure, I had made major, MAJOR changes to almost every aspect of my life…but I was still “me”, wasn’t I?

When I remembered to try to define my life and myself less by my leisure, and more by what makes me happy, things started to click a little better. In addition to my girls – which are undeniably the center of my world…and I’m OK with that – I found new ways to realize these joys.

And as the girls have gotten older, I’ve been able to file a few more “old world” pleasures in now and again, which I appreciate in their infrequency far more than I ever did when manicures were a dime a dozen.

Couple this with things starting to actually get easier – at least in terms of “schedules” and “major motion picture productions” (think impromptu dinner out last week!) – and I feel like “my” world and “our” world are starting to become one.

My experience over the past two and a half years wouldn’t lead me to completely dismiss the idea of “incorporating” your children into your life, but maybe underscore the idea of “to everything there is a season”.

…linking up with the Parenting Myths Question of the Week at Multiples & More!


June 11, 2011

What I Learned on a Saturday

We had a jam-packed day today, but it sure was a fun one. From sun up to sun down, we were running and going and doing, and I learned at least a little bit at each and every stop.

1) Older folks, in particular, seem to get quite a kick out of the girls’ passion for vegetables.

As in the grocery store, the girls love to point out [loudly] the fruits and veggies they see. At the farmers' market this morning: “Zucchini!!! I LOVE zucchini!” “Potatoes!!! I LOVE potatoes!” “Onion!!! I LOVE onion!” Most folks couldn't help but laugh.

2) My little babies have a real ability to act like big girls when they want to.

We went to Panera when we left the farmers’ market. Daddy and I enjoyed a late breakfast, and the girls had half a bagel and a glass of milk as their mid-morning snack.

I had our highchair covers with us, but we decided to try the girls sitting in regular chairs. They did great!

They waited patiently for me to get our food, and then for me to cut their bagel and pour their milk. And then they ate like champs. As soon as they were finished, Baby A popped up and said, “I’m ready to get down!” but we got a good 20 minutes of calmness out of them!

3) The girls know our habits better than I do sometimes.

We left Panera and decided to run by Sam’s to scout out some more fresh fruit (as the selection was limited at the market). We picked out our produce and started walking towards the front of the store. Baby B began to pull me towards the right, though. I tried to correct her, and she said, “We need milk!

Sure enough, we almost always buy milk when we’re there…and I had forgotten we had space for another gallon in the ‘fridge.

4) Not all kiddos are totally enthralled with the lawn sprinkler.

This afternoon we surprised the girls by setting up the sprinkler in the backyard, for what would be their first such experience. They were so excited to get on their swimsuits and new water shoes, and they were pretty patient while I applied their sunscreen. Finally it was time to let them loose.

They ran, giggling, towards the sprinkler…but when the first drops of water crossed their path, they were done! I tried coaxing them back to that section of the yard, running through myself (which was pretty darn fun!), but they were far more interested in picking clover, chasing bubbles, and kicking the soccer ball.

We’ll try again, though…I hope the girlies will eventually learn to appreciate this rite of childhood passage!

5) Swim diapers really don’t hold any urine. And Baby B may not be as close to potty-training as I’d thought.

I was putting the finishing coat of sunscreen on B’s legs (outside, thank goodness!), when I felt a very warm sensation on my lap. “Are you making tee-tee?” I asked her. “No!” she declared, as my legs became totally soaked. So now I know.

6) Lots of summertime running really builds up a kiddo’s appetite AND wears her out.

Both girls scarfed down their chicken cacciatore over pasta tonight, complete with bread and a big bowl of strawberries and blackberries. We then shared a piece of Grecian orange cake. And THEN they both asked for more supper!

And after supper, it wasn’t long until both girlies were yawning. We went to bed at their usual time (7:15), but I’m pretty sure they haven’t even rolled over from the position I laid them in their cribs!

All in a [great] day’s work!

June 10, 2011

Fab 5 Friday...and ME!!!

Our first full week of Daddy’s summer vacation was fabulous, indeed...such that this is really a Fab 6 list because I couldn't narrow it down any further!

1) The girls have been playing “restaurant” a lot lately. Last week they kept saying, “I’m taking my baby to Garcia’s” [our favorite Mexican restaurant]. Then they would detail what they were going to order…”She’s gonna eat rice…and beans…and cheese…and salsa…and chicken quesadilla!” On Friday night we surprised them with an actual trip to Garcia’s. We waited until late afternoon to tell them where we were going, and they were elated! They clapped and started dancing around. Baby B kept saying (as she was dancing), “I’m excited for my dinner!

2) On Sunday, we attended our MoMs group picnic. The girls had a blast running around and kicking the soccer ball in a big open field, and I was so proud that they played so well with the other kiddos. On perhaps a not so fabulous note, they also ate Doritos for the first time. I think they’re in love.

3) Monday was THE BEST. The girls napped so well (hallelujah…it is possible!!!), and we decided to turn our downtown post office field trip into a family dinner date, as well. We took the girls to one of our favorite restaurants. It’s not what I would call kid-friendly (they seemed to have to search for high chairs!), but the girls did GREAT! They sat like little ladies and enjoyed our appetizer, a good portion of my salad, and then they scarfed down most of my half of our gourmet pizza. It was one of the most pleasant family outings to date!

4) The girls have continued to sing a lot this week. “Buffalo Gals” is one of their faves, along with “John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt”…which I finally deciphered them as saying “John Jacob Jingle-on-the-Fence”! Close, girlies, so close!

5) Both girls have been running around the den this week at times, saying, “I’m imitating Sasha!” They mean they’re running really fast, like our cat does sometimes…which is cute…and just as cute is them saying imitating!

6) Both girls have been doing a great job at asking how our dinner is, and saying what they like about their food. Unprompted, Baby A said, "This squash is very good." It just melts my heart...that she was being so sweet...AND that she loves her veggies so passionately!

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

I L-O-V-E sushi. Before kiddos, the hubs and I ate it once a week, religiously. Since kiddos, it’s a rare treat.

While once upon a time I turned my nose up at the thought of buying sushi at the grocery store (even though they have a little sushi station with a little man in a big hat making it, it’s just not the same as our nice family-owned Japanese restaurant, where we have gone for years)…times have changed. I now treat myself to grocery store sushi about once a week. Whereas I do love me some raw fish, I stick with the veggie rolls…but slather on some wasabi, and whip out my beautiful new bamboo chopsticks I bought for myself, and it’s a fantastic break from my ham sandwiches.

And as a little bonus, I love that my girls can spot sushi from a mile away. They know what chopsticks are. They know what wasabi is, and that it’s hot. And they’re big friends with the little man in the big hat at the grocery store.

Thanks so much to the dollimama for hosting the 52 Weeks of ME! Challenge! I firmly believe that taking the time to think about ourselves each week...even splurging on some $4 sushi now and again...makes us better moms.

The dollimama will be hosting an awesome giveaway link-up the first week of July to celebrate being halfway through the challenge. There will be lots of us linking up with ~$10 giveaways...paying it forward to encourage our fellow mamas to enjoy a little "me" time. The link-up will be open to anyone...check it out for more details!



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June 9, 2011

Summertime...and the Living is Easy...

…well, not necessarily easy (as someone still has to run the dishwasher every day of the world), but at least it will be fun!

Although the girlies aren’t in school, my hubby is a school teacher, so “summer” has real meaning for our family. And at 2 ½, I know this is going to be such a fun summer for us as a foursome.

There’s something about summer that means “family adventure” to me…a time to go and do and experience…and have lots of fun making memories.

Given the girls’ age, and that there are two of them, climbing Mt. Rushmore is obviously not on the list. It’s all relative, but I’m so excited about some of the fun things we hope to do and see and eat!

In no particular order…

• Eat an ice cream cone
• Eat a slice of watermelon
• Go to the zoo
• Do yoga in the park
• Run through the splash pad downtown
• Attend a live music performance
• Go to the aquarium
• Play with sidewalk chalk
• Run through the sprinklers at home
• Swim in the baby pool
• Swim in a big pool
• Learn to ride new tricycles
• Buy a swing set
• Enjoy many, many hours of play on new swing set
• Visit the orchard
• Visit the dairy barn
• Make cookies with Mommy
• Make homemade pizza as a family
• Help Daddy wash the car
• Plant some flowers
• Water the flowers
• Eat on a picnic blanket
• Make S’mores
• Eat out for breakfast
• Go to a children’s museum
• Go to the train museum
• Take a carriage ride
• Go to the ag farm
• Ride a carousel
• Make homemade ice cream

I could go on, but I hope to incorporate a little piece of adventure into most of our days, taking advantage of that extra set of hands I'll have to help keep our adventures in check.

Happy Summer, Y'all!

June 8, 2011

Semantics?

About a year ago, I read a post by reanbean about “positive discipline”, part of which is telling a child what they can / should do instead of what they can’t. Say, “Hands off,” instead of “Don’t touch,” for example.

At the time, our girls were about 16 months old, and I began to try to incorporate some of the principles that reanbean mentioned.

Hands off,” or “One finger,” [meaning you can touch something, but only with one finger] are biggies in our house.

Instead of telling the girls they can’t stand on the sofa, I tell them, “Sit on your bottom.”

Instead of telling the girls they can’t climb on the open door of their play kitchen (oddly, a frequent offense), I say, “Keep your feet on the floor.”

I try to reserve the word “no” for infractions that require immediate attention, if one of the girls is doing something that is dangerous, for example.

Yes, this may fall under “positive discipline”…or some people might dismiss it as semantics…but I think it can also be defined as being literal. Little ones don’t necessarily understand all the ways we can bend words, or the colloquialisms and idioms that color our language.

Saying, “Keep your feet on the floor” is pretty literal, and I don’t want to leave much room for interpretation in certain contexts.

Along a similar line, I had a funny exchange with Baby B a couple of days ago. “Can you help Mommy pick up these books?” I asked.

In the adult world, that of course is a nice way to ask someone to do something.

I had to laugh when Baby B replied, “No, I can’t.”

Ask a silly question, get a silly answer, Mom!

So, to my list of "semantics tricks", I’ve begun rephrasing such “requests” more directly, “B, please help Mommy pick up these books.”

This approach definitely requires some thought at times, but in a way it’s a fun challenge…it definitely makes me stop and think about what I’m saying and how I’m saying it.

June 7, 2011

I Get By with a Little Help from My Friends...

My friend Jenny has said that Motherhood is a great equalizer, and I think that is so incredibly true...

...young or old, rich or poor, with a high school education or a PhD...becoming a mommy -- at least in one very critical aspect -- puts us all on the same playing field.

Spit-up is spit-up, a high fever can be very scary, and our babies' smiles are the light of our lives...no matter who we are or where we came from.

Holly posted "The Mom Pledge" a couple of days ago. It's a reminder to avoid the "mommy wars" mentality, to support each other as mothers, recognizing that we may have differing opinions, but that each mom makes the choices that she believes are right for her family.

I love the ability to surf around the blogosphere, to share in fellow moms' lives...to see what they're up to with their kiddos...how they handle challenges...and what brings them joy.

I certainly don't "agree" with everything I see online, and I'm also certain that not everyone agrees with me. But we still learn from each other, and support each other, and I am so thankful for that.

I'm grateful to be a part of such an awesome network of moms, many of whom I consider wonderful friends. If I have a question, or need advice, or a laugh, or to commiserate...I so appreciate you being there!

...and speaking of great friends, my dear friend Andrea, whose B/G twins are about a year older than A&B, is celebrating her 35th birthday today!!!

Just wanted to take this opportunity to wish her a Happy Birthday filled with many blessings! And from what I hear, Andrea, [ahem] 35 isn't all that bad.

I think poor Andrea may have gotten a little confused in her old age, though (just kidding!)...instead of getting presents, she's giving stuff away in celebration of her birthday!

Hop on over to enter her 2nd birthday give-away, and stay tuned for more throughout the month.

June 4, 2011

My Sunglasses Trick

I never used to wear sunglasses on my head.

For one, I used to wear expensive designer sunglasses, and I didn’t want to stretch the frames.

And two, I thought it was a bit silly. Unless you are literally just coming off the beach, put your sunglasses away in your purse, Lady…you really don’t need to sport them all through dinner…when it’s raining outside.

Over the past couple of years, though, I have found myself singing a different tune.

I no longer wear designer sunglasses. Although a little part of me misses the mystique, I’m perfectly content buying my shades at Kohl’s.

Since both my hands seem always to be full, I’m grateful not to have to worry about my designer sunglass case, too. My $20 peepers get thrown right on top of my bag. And if they get a scratch? That will be camouflaged by all the tiny finger smudges, of course.

And I’ve discovered (or at least led myself to believe) that coolly pushing my sunglasses on top of my head makes me feel more put-together somehow…at times even glamorous!

I vowed at the beginning of spring no longer to dress like a hobo, to get up each morning and put on some Capri’s and a decent t-shirt.

I’m proud to report that, with very few exceptions, I’ve been living the dream the past couple of months.

I bought several new pairs of casual-yet-comfortable pants and picked up some new tees, and I even bought a cute new pair of flip-flops. I think it’s a great sign that the girls no longer ask, “Where we going?” when they see Mommy enter their room in the mornings.

However.

I can’t say that I’ve managed to add the full spectrum of hair and makeup into the mix.

I still only wear makeup a couple of days a week, I’m guessing, on average. And some days just have to be ponytail days, depending on what how many chores I need to get done in the mornings before the girls get up.

Enter my sunglasses trick!

I don’t think a thing about running to the mall all fresh-faced with my hair pulled back. Perhaps I look like I’ve just run in off the beach (a mere 500 miles away), to do a quick errand…

…or perhaps I look like a harried mom who hasn’t taken the time to treat herself to a full hygiene regimen…

…but at least I have on cute Capri’s.

One step at a time, and mind over matter...and I’m running with it!

June 3, 2011

Fab 5 Friday...and ME!!!

The unofficial start of summer took off on a fabulous note, complete with lots of sunshine and the sweetest ice cold watermelon!

1) On Saturday, we took our first day trip since the Potty-capades began. We enjoyed a great lunch with dear friends in downtown Nashville. Hubby and I hadn’t been downtown since the girls were born, so a little taste of the “big city” was a treat, too.

2) On Sunday, we planned a trip to our local orchard. We made the trek "to the country", only to find they were closed! The girls were not particularly happy…but they cheered up right away with the promise of ice cream and a trip to the park. For the first time, the girls fed themselves some DQ soft-serve (my babies are growing up!!!), and Hubby and I may have each enjoyed a Blizzard.

3) We spent some time at one of the local parks on Sunday afternoon. The playground equipment was scalding hot, so we lured the girls into the wide open grassy fields by asking them to find dandelions. It was amazing to see them running so freely, their cheeks all flush, having a blast.


4) On Monday, we enjoyed a mid-afternoon frozen yogurt. I dressed the girls in the cutest coordinating outfits, and I let them wear their sunglasses for the first time. They looked like true movie stars…and also acted like ones, avoiding the paparazzi [my camera] at all costs!

5) And the girls’ quotes of the week just warm my heart...as they brought up family members waaaay out of the blue. Baby A said, at random, “We haven’t seen Grandpa Cecil in a while!” And B was “dancing” on Daddy’s feet, and said, “This like Daddy used to do with his grandma,” as Hubby has told her a few times (but not recently). Wow.

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

Wednesday afternoon, Miss Jennifer was here for a couple of hours to hang out with the girls. I met Hubby after he got out of school for a mid-afternoon snack. I enjoyed a very leisurely cup of coffee, and he, an ice cold lemonade, and I sneaked a couple of bites of his ginormous cinnamon roll. We just hung out and talked and laughed…it was a fantastic mid-week break.

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June 2, 2011

Savoring the "Awww" Factor

Any parent of young multiples knows it’s rare to go out in public without someone – usually a few someones – making a comment.

You’ve got your hands full! Double trouble! Who’s older? Who’s smarter? Which one is your favorite?

And even if folks don’t say anything, I can sometimes feel them checking out my brood. I feel like I should acknowledge their interest with a smile, or at least try to have a pleasant look on my face at all times.

I know those comments can get under our skin a little bit at times, and the performance factor can be exhausting…especially when all you want to do is pay for your bananas and bread and milk and load up the kiddos and get home.

…but I had a little realization last week at the grocery store…

The girls had had a bit of a cold, and it was ugly, cold weather, to boot…but we were desperate for a few groceries. I say that to say, the girls and I were far from being dressed to the nines. I was just happy for us all to be there, fever-free.

A group of college girls walked past us. One glanced at the girls, and said, “Oh, how cute!” and she called out to her friends, “You guys come look! What cute babies!

I’ll always be in awe of my girlies, but the truth is that they probably won’t stop traffic like that forever. When’s the last time you cooed at an eight-year old, after all?

As borderline aggravating as some of the invasion of privacy can seem at times, I’m willing myself to enjoy the “awww” factor as long as I can.
 
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