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July 31, 2011

I'll Show You Mine if You Show Me Yours...

I admitted a couple of months ago that I'm really far from a techie.

The subject came up again a couple of weeks ago, when my computer decided to take a little vacation, leaving me and my bargain basement cell phone without an internet connection for almost a week.

Between the two admissions, Marcia and I had some dialogue about who had the lower-budget cell phone. She asked me if I'd be up for a little side-by-side comparison...so here 'goes...



[On the right is one of the girls' play phones, which I think is at least as technologically advanced as my cell phone, on the left.]

Marcia posted her picture yesterday, and I think it's safe to assume I won. (Sure wish this was a real contest, the prize being a new cell phone...HA!)

Actually, my prepaid "drug dealer phone" (as my friends call it) suits my needs just fine. It costs a whopping $15 a month for 300 minutes, which is far more than I ever use.

I know I would enjoy certain bells and whistles of a fancier phone -- namely being able to check in while I'm out and about -- but really, I just don't feel like I need to be any more "connected" than I already am. I think it would be far too big a temptation for me to increase my time on the 'net.

So for now I'll stick to my landline at home, my wireless internet connection for my laptop, and my $15 phone.

...but I will say I'm proud to have moved into the mid-90's recently...we just got caller ID at home! AND while my internet connection was down, I figured out how to send a text message on my phone.

Woo hoo...go me!!!

Wanna weigh in? How do your goods measure up??? Check out Marcia's link-up. (She's one of my faves, by the way...if you don't know her, well, you should!!!)

July 30, 2011

In the Kitchen with A & B

I have long dreamed of cooking with my kiddos in the kitchen.

Due to the logistical challenge to date presented by my two hands vs. the four hands of two, two-year olds [if you follow], it's only happened a handful of times.

As the girls are getting a bit older, and occasionally more predictable [is that an oxymoron?], I'm very slowly getting a little braver.

During our latest endeavor, the girls "helped" me make pimento cheese. I pre-measured all the ingredients, and I let them each (one at a time) dump a couple of different things into the bowl and stir.

For the grand finale, they got to watch me use the mixer...just like Corduroy and Curious George in a couple of our storybook adventures.




Baby steps...for them and for me...but I hope it's the continued start of a long love for creating things in the kitchen.

Pimento Cheese Spread
2 c. shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
1/4 c. mayonnaise
1/4 c. softened butter
4 oz. jar of chopped pimentos, drained
1 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. white sugar
1/2 c. chopped pecans

Combine ingredients in a bowl by hand, then use a hand mixer on low speed to fully incorporate all ingredients together. Refrigerate for at least an hour to allow flavors to meld.

Spread will harden in refrigerator; set out at room temperature for 30 minutes to an hour before serving to allow spread to soften. (To use as a dip, you can microwave what you plan to eat for a few seconds [carefully!] to soften more quickly.)

July 29, 2011

Fab 5 Friday...and ME!!!


The end of Daddy’s summer vacation is upon us -- and so quickly! -- but nonetheless we had a pretty fabulous week!

1) The girls helped me make a batch of pimento cheese last weekend, and they tried it for the first time with one of their new loves, carrot sticks. They’re hooked! It’s been a great addition to our lunches a couple of days this week…and there’s something about seeing my “babies” munching on carrot sticks that just makes me so proud!

2) Granddaddy and Emme came for a short visit this week. We were so happy to see them!

3) As I was putting her to bed one night, Baby A pointed to her hand. “These are my nostrils,” she said. I told her no, those are your knuckles. I’m sorry, knuckles,” she followed, kissing the top of her hand. I think I laughed so hard I snorted.

4) We frequent our local yogurt shop about once a week, almost always with Daddy. On our first day of Daddy being back at work, I decided to be brave…I took the girls by myself…sans stroller. We talked beforehand about them waiting patiently while I fixed their yogurt and paid. I was SO INCREDIBLY PROUD what big girls they were! They sat up straight in their chairs, watching my every move. Whew! Another Mommy Milestone under my belt!

5) I discovered this week that I could braid the girls’ hair into pigtails. It’s so “Little House on the Prairie”…I can hardly stand it!


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

I have been really blessed to – coincidentally – have caught up with each of my in-town girlfriends in some form or fashion. Coffee with one, a visit downtown with another, ice cream with a third, and then Fondue Night with three of my MoMs group friends. It’s made for a bit of a marathon…as I squeezed everything in during naptime / after bedtime…but that “sacrifice” has been well worth it!

[Thanks to dollimama for hosting my favorite link-up each week...and reminding me to appreciate the little things I do for "me"!]

July 28, 2011

A Matter of Perspective

I know it’s common for little kiddos to mix up the order of words in a sentence.

I don’t know if my ear just naturally descrambles what my kiddos say, but I really don’t notice them doing much of this.

There are a couple of exceptions, though. I can’t tell if it’s a word order phenomenon, or if it’s a function of their perspective on life.

Since the girls were tiny, I have made a big deal of “hopping” on and off the sidewalk (an effort to make the huge bumpity-bump-bump-bump in their stroller seem “fun”).

At one point during our usual route, the sidewalk ends. Narrating everything, as always, I say, “Let’s HOP down from the sidewalk…the sidewalk is ending!” [Doesn’t that just ooze fun???]

Occasionally, we’ll walk our route in reverse. The girls have been pointing out that the sidewalk is ending, instead of that it is beginning (coming from the opposite direction).
I’ve corrected them, telling them that the sidewalk is “beginning” from this direction. When we’ve been walking on foot, I’ve even stopped to illustrate the point. They seem to understand…but then start talking about the sidewalk “ending” again immediately thereafter.

Another example is when the phone rings. The girls often simply ask, “Who is it?” But sometimes they’ll say, “Who Mommy called?” I don’t know if they mean “Who called Mommy?” – a simple change to the word order – or if they’re actually a bit confused about whether it was an incoming or outgoing call.

And this last one seems like a classic “Who’s on First” sketch at times…

Baby A might give something to her sister. I’ll remind Baby B, “Tell Sissy ‘thank you’.” But the receiver then often responds with, “You’re welcome, Sissy,” I guess in response to my ‘thank you’. It can go ‘round and ‘round if I’ll let it.
Rinse and repeat.

Baby A and Baby B…Abbott and Costello…maybe it’s just to be expected with two-year old twins that a mama doesn’t know if she’s coming or going...calling or being called...up or down...or in or out.

Almost the only thing that is constant and certain is being in motion…in one direction or another.

July 27, 2011

What I Learned on Vacation

We had a fantastic mini-vacation last week. I’m by no means an expert on travelling with little ones…seeing as how I have worked to avoid it as much as possible over the past two and a half years…but there are a few things I learned, at least relative to our girls’ current age.

Timing.
We drove during the girls’ naptime. Yes, that meant we didn’t get an early start, but it was well worth it to log some miles without a constant chorus of “Baa-Baa Black Sheep” (not that I don’t love that song, mind you).

We adhered to the girls’ schedule while we were on our trip, as well. Sure, I would have loved to have spent a little more time among the fishies at the aquarium, but it would have put us behind the girls’ nap schedule.
And certainly I would have loved to take advantage of a yummy coffee shop next to the yummy pizza place where we ate dinner one night, but I don’t mess with the girls’ bedtime for anything.

A well-rested babe is usually a happy babe.

Itinerary.
It probably goes without saying that I planned our activities around the girls. Sure, I would have loved to have browsed through some of the cute little galleries in town, or have gone sightseeing through some cool neighborhoods…but at 2 ½, the girls wouldn’t have been happy with that for very long. We filled our days with family activities.

I tried to mix up higher-energy adventures – like the children’s museum – with more “reflective” ones – like the aquarium. And I counted the indoor pool at the hotel as an activity with its own time slot, not something I tried to squeeze in after dinner.

Food.
I researched a short list of restaurants before our trip. I knew what was located near each attraction, and I had a basic sense for the menu. Our girls are big veggie and fruit eaters, so I was able to steer us towards places that offered fresh fruit and veggies, at least as side items.

It makes a world of difference in my little world to know what I’m getting into before I walk through the door somewhere.

The Hotel.
It certainly wasn’t the most cost-effective option, but the splurge for a two-bedroom suite was very well worth it in my book. The girls had their own bedroom and bathroom…so when they went to bed at 7:00, Hubby and I weren’t trapped in the bathroom (as a friend of mine recently recounted about having to share a single hotel room with her twinnies!).

Toys.
The most challenging part of the vacation was keeping the girls occupied in the hotel room. We weren’t there for long each day, but when we were…it was a handful to keep two kiddos from literally climbing the [germ-infested] curtains in such a new environment.

Another great investment was two new toys that I gave to the girls while we were on vacation. I bought small Magna Doodles, and that would buy me 10 or 15 minutes to grab a quick shower or make breakfast.

Restraint.
Hubby was less than pleased when I told him we were taking the double stroller. He was so excited about not having to pack the high chairs...he thought he was getting off scott free...but I wasn't quite ready to let him off that easy. :)

As it turns out, we didn’t use the stroller for any of our outings…but I was still thankful we had it. We strolled the girls from the car to the hotel room (while also pushing with a jam-packed luggage cart). [I’m just guessing that was a funny sight, the Hubs and me trying to navigate the (non-automatic) set of double doors the lobby…]

The girls sat in their stroller while we unpacked and got the room ready to release the mob. We were able to be very efficient without two little monkeys “helping” us every step of the way.

The only other time we used the stroller was when I needed to get a couple of things done in the room…I needed to blow up the girls’ floats for the pool, and clean the bathtub ahead of taking them to the pool.

(Yes, I cleaned the bathtub. I can’t trust my babies’ precious bottoms to someone else’s bathroom cleaning. I used dish soap to accomplish the task…and after spending a good 15 minutes trying to rinse the lather from the tub, I felt reasonably sure it was germ-free.)

Anyhoo, during Operation Tub De-Germ, Hubby loaded the girls in their stroller and took them for ice cream. Everybody won…except Mommy…who I realized later not only had to clean a bathtub during her vacation, but also got the shaft in the ice cream department.

Still, the power of plastic restraint did come in handy a couple of times.

***

And, last but not least…I also learned that it apparently is impossible to visit an aquarium without hearing at least one person say, “Where’s my fishin’ pole when I need it?

All in a day’s work!

July 25, 2011

Our Vacation...in Pictures

We took our first mini-vacation as a family of four last week. We went to Chattanooga, Tennessee, which is about a three-hour drive for us.
I spent some time in Chattanooga when I was growing up, and again here and there over the past 15 years or so. It was fun to go back to a place that I knew so long ago, and to see a lot of new things through the eyes of the girls.
Day 1
We arrived in Chattanooga mid-afternoon, the girls having taken about an hour-long nap in the car.
First stop...the children's hands-on museum.
The girls both had a great time "driving" various vehicles...
...and they also enjoyed trying out a lot of musical instruments...
Afterwards, we had our first of several great meals. I ordered the girls a chicken quesadilla appetizer, and then planned for them to share our meals with us. The girls ultimately ate about half of my fish and green beans...but they literally jumped into Daddy's lap when they realized he had jambalaya!
Day 2
We spent the morning at the aquarium. It's really amazing...very well laid-out. The girls LOVED seeing all the fish. To their delight, there were a lot of turtles and frogs, too.
The butterfly sanctuary was also really wonderful. Daddy seemed to have The Touch, as he coaxed a couple of beautiful creatures to alight on his finger...much to Baby B's amazement.
That afternoon, our girls put their newly-aquired fish knowledge into practice with a swim in the hotel's indoor pool.
That night, we had a fantastic dinner at a local pizza joint, some of the yummiest homemade pizza I've ever had. I'm glad we got a large, too...as the girls made sure they got their share!

Day 3
We spent our last morning at the zoo. This was the girls' first trip to a zoo, and it may have been a good thing that they didn't have set expectations. The zoo was incredibly small, and I wasn't very impressed by the habitats. Nonetheless, the girls enjoyed seeing the animals, the gorillas and the cheetah being their favorites.
We drove to the picturesque Bluff View Arts District for our last meal in Chattanooga. We enjoyed a fantastic meal with some amazing fresh-baked bread and handmade pasta, and then we braved the heat on the terrace to enjoy the view of the river for a few minutes.
You can barely glimpse the river behind the girls. By that time, they were pretty tuckered out, and they were more taken with a potted plant than the view.
After one last pit stop for a pastry (or two caramel truffles for me if you wanna get all detailed about it), we hit the road. The girls fell asleep really quickly, and we got to enjoy the precious sounds of two sleeping babes behind us.
I happened to think to snap a picture of their little feet while they slept...perhaps the best view of the entire trip.
We really enjoyed ourselves on this little get-away. The girls are at such an amazing age to really enjoy our adventures. And on top of it, they ate well and slept well...and I couldn't ask for more!

July 23, 2011

A Bit About Me, July Edition

My birthday is February 23rd, so on the 23rd of each month, I’ve taken to sharing a couple of really random things about myself…

21) I haven’t had hair this long since I was 18.
When I was in high school, I had long, straight hair, almost down to my waist. When I graduated, I slowly began having it shortened, until I went for a short layered look right after freshman finals. From there, I kept my hairdressers whittling away over the years, until I got my shortest haircut ever, right before the girls were born. I almost immediately realized the need for a ponytail, though, so I began to let it grow. I don’t have plans to let it get much longer than what it is, but I’m loving my free-flowing locks…and my ponytail option.
The only funny thing is that, when I run into people whom I used to work with, some of them don’t even recognize me “incognito”.

22) When I was in the sixth grade, I had what can now only be described as a mullet.
The haircut started in the fourth grade, the best I can remember, as a cute little Dorothy Hamill bob. When I was 11 or so, I distinctly remember not wanting to sit in the chair at the salon for any longer than I had to, asking my hairdresser if she could just cut the top. It shortened the duration of my haircut by more than half…and to a tender-headed kid, that was a priority.
Let’s just say I won’t be scanning any of those grade school pictures online any time soon…and let’s home none of my hometown friends decide to play any mean tricks!

July 22, 2011

Fab 5 Friday...and ME!!!

I’m really glad to be back to regularly-scheduled programming…and I’m really glad to report that – even without an internet connection – we had a most fabulous week!

1) Last Friday we needed to be out of the house for a couple of hours, so we took a little field trip to a national park about 20 miles north of here. We just walked around for a bit…but it’s just so cool that the girls are actually starting to *enjoy* field trips!

2) On Saturday we hosted my friend Rachel, her husband, and her seven-month old twin girls for dinner. I have so missed entertaining over the past couple of years, and it’s great to finally be able to juggle our girls and enjoy the company of friends. And the girls were so excited about seeing “the babies”…they were pulling out toys all afternoon, saying, “The babies will like to see this!” It actually took the girls a little bit to warm up to the babies, but they’ve talked about “the babies” all week.

3) On Monday I made dinner for a friend who just had a baby girl. The girls saw me making creamed spinach and peach cobbler – two of their favorites – and I explained it wasn’t for them; it was a present for Miss Meridith and her baby. Then they went with me to deliver the goodies to Miss Meridith's husband. The girls have talked all week about Baby Allie and how much she likes creamed spinach, peach cobbler, and chicken. I haven’t even tried to explain that the baby didn’t actually eat the dinner…I think it would trouble them that Baby Allie didn’t get any of the spoils.

4) Last week we went to our local orchard, and the girls played on the big playground there. The “bumpy slide” (as the girls call it) was too wet to play on, though. I told the girls that the sun would evaporate the water later in the day. That phrase has stuck with them. The very first thing I heard B say when she woke up from her nap yesterday was, “The sun will evaporate the water.” And A was quick to validate, “You’re right, [Baby B]!” I can’t say they truly understand what that means, but it’s so funny to hear them repeat their science lessons!!!

5) More to come on this note…but the bestest thing about this week – hands down – was, of course, OUR FIRST FAMILY VACATION!!! The girls ate well, slept well, and enjoyed all our adventures.

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

I went on vacation! Of course being on vacation with the fam is pretty hard work…but I relaxed when and where I could. I ate yummy food, including chocolate every day. I went to bed early at night, propped up on squishy pillows, and read. And I even bargained with Hubby to drive on the way home so I could NAP in the car. (Now if someone would just come do my laundry and restock the refrigerator…anyone???)


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I'm BAAAAAAAACK!!!

Whoa.

I don’t think I’ve ever gone almost a WEEK without a blog post…and while that may sound a bit sad to some, I have to say I’ve missed it…that, and the whole connection-to-the-outside-world that is affectionately called The Internet.

We took our first mini-vacation as a family of four this week. I had planned to take our computer in for some deluxe spa treatment while we were gone, but she got a little ahead of herself and decided to go on vacation [i.e. completely spaz out] before I even had a chance to schedule some blog posts / write an out-of-office message / check the week’s weather / print directions to our hotel / pay bills (!!!).

I’m a bit “2002” in my approach to the online world, so alls I have is this here laptop.

My friends like to tease me that I have a drug dealer phone. Yes, it’s a prepaid little number that looks like the cell phone I had in 1997, but it is one way we cut costs after the girlies were born. It doesn’t have a touch screen, or internet access…but on a positive note, I did learn how to send a text message over the past week.

We got back into town yesterday afternoon, and I was looking forward to installing our new router and re-learning how to type.

But…as luck would have it…we had a big storm which knocked out power for more than two hours! I was beginning to think there was some kind of vast, intergalactic conspiracy to keep me from my Google account.

After the girlies went to bed, I summoned my Computer Science 101 skills from 16 years ago and set out to install our new router.

After 117 trips up and down the steps and some quality time spent with the customer service representative, I finally saw that little flicker in the bottom right-hand corner of my laptop screen…and my heart flickered, too.

I’ve missed you, Blogworld! I’m ready to Tweet, fellow Twitterers! And I’m gonna pay my bill today, AT&T!

July 16, 2011

...On Fried Pies, and Other Points to Ponder

So I had to laugh at all the "fried pie" comments I got on my previous post...I wasn't thinking about that being such a "Southern thang"...but I guess it is!

My mom used to make fried pies occasionally, but I grew up with stories of her grandmother making them all the time...

You roll out some dough into a 6 - 8" circle, put some pie filling in the middle, fold the dough around it (into a half circle) and crimp the dough closed with a fork. Then you fry the pie in hot oil until it's golden brown...and maybe sprinkle it with some sugar if you wanna get all fancy.

Viola! A delectable handheld treat!

On a potentially-related "Southern" note, I used to get some real looks at the office when I was pregnant. Since I wasn't eating lunchmeat, every day of the world I ate a peanut butter and banana sandwich on whole wheat (with two glasses of milk).

I grew up eating that combination, but I don't think most folks this far north had ever heard of it. If you haven't tried it, the banana / peanut butter combo is outstanding!

***

The girls have suddenly decided they like having their teeth flossed. I used to do it (with a little flosser pick) on occasion, whenever I would see something I couldn't get with the toothbrush...but it never went very smoothly.

The last time I needed to use a flosser, I made a big deal of how good it feels to floss your teeth. I turned on some serious Vanna and sold that experience for all it was worth.

Over the last week, the girls can hardly wait to get their pajamas on..."Flosssers!" they cheer. (And I have to laugh just a bit!)

***

I was listening to the radio on the way home from the grocery store last night. I'm not often in the car for very long these days, so I don't hear much of what's on the radio, but I happened on a Pink song that I'd heard a time or two before.

I came home to look up the full lyrics, and -- while I really hate that there's a big expletive right in the middle of the title line / chorus -- I was still really struck by the message...

Pretty, pretty please
Don't you ever, ever feel
Like you're less than ... perfect

Love it.

July 15, 2011

Fab 5 Friday...and ME!!!

1) The girls have been asking, “Where Mommy buy this?” about any- and everything lately. They even asked where I bought them. I at first joked that they came from the orchard, but then I started saying, “I didn’t buy you…you were a gift from God.”

We were buzzing through the grocery store this week, and the girls were at it…”Where Mommy buy this stroller? Where Mommy buy these shoes?” Amid my answers, Baby B all but yelled, Mommy didn’t buy me. I’m a gift from God!

2) As we walked around the mall on Sunday – trying to beat the heat but still clock a bit of exercise – it hit me that the girls had never been on an escalator. I talked to them about the escalator, reminding them of Corduroy’s big adventure in one of their current favorite books. They were giddy with excitement.

Baby B was actually the braver of the two, as Baby A insisted that I hold her going up the first time. The trip down was still a little shaky. By the time we hit the second escalator, though, both girls were raring to go. They would have ridden again and again and again…but we didn’t want to be *those* parents…HA! Still, the girls have continued to talk about riding the escalator, and it’s been the subject of many a pretend scenario this week.

3) I was taking Baby B upstairs for a diaper change. The cat cried as we walked past her. B said, “She said, ‘Meow! I need a hug!’” I love how she was “interpreting” for her furry sister.

4) We woke up to overcast skies on Thursday and slightly lower humidity. My first thought was to go to the park…but then I thought about going to the orchard instead. The girls got to taste their first fried pie, and they had a blast on the playground there. And one of the best parts for me? The ability to take an impromptu trip!

5) The girls have gotten pretty good at a Russian nursery rhyme I’ve been teaching them, at least getting the right number of syllables and some of the sounds. It’s so cute to hear them mumble through the cadence from start to finish.

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

It’s been quite a while since Hubby and I had a date night. We were able to schedule a “monitor sitter” on Thursday night to enjoy an awesome sushi dinner after the girlies were in bed. We feel so at home at that restaurant – one we used to frequent once a week. It was so nice and relaxing, and my taste buds were oh, so happy.


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July 14, 2011

Taking a Potty Break

It’s been a while since I wrote about our Potty-capades, and I know you’ve been on the edge of your potty seats…

Baby A continues to do really well. Probably 95% of the time at home, she’s very matter-of-fact about her potty business. (Meaning, there are precious few shenanigans during her trips to the potty…thank you, great porcelain god!)

And while she would really like to leave her mark in every public potty in the tri-county area, I have thus far been able to gauge when she *really* needs to go away from home (usually at a restaurant). At the grocery store, I’ve been able to tell her, “We’ll be home in 10 minutes. I need you to wait.”

Our portable potty seat is serving us very well. We’ve never used it as a stand-alone potty, but I do use it as a “topper” on public potty seats. Baby A is pretty good at keeping her hands on the handles, and it keeps both of us from having too much contact with the unknown ((shudder)).

Although she’s not always happy about it, I’ve been enforcing the rule that she has to sit on the potty before we leave the house. Usually she has her sights set on wherever we’re going, and she’s ready to jump in the car and go! I hope this will become a little more routine as time passes.

The only challenge continues to be when Baby A is having too much fun at home and doesn’t think about taking a potty break until it’s too late.

We’ve never had any major accidents…nothing more than the seat of her underwear getting a little wet…but it’s still happening a couple of times a week. I’m still keeping some kind of internal potty clock tuned to her habits, and if it’s been more than an hour and a half or so, I’ll ask her if she needs to go. Sometimes she’ll say yes, other times she’ll say no…and then it’s often just a matter of minutes before we have to change undies.

Should I push her to sit on the potty? Or will she eventually learn that changing undies is no fun?

***

Now Baby B is another story…

Since her sister started using the potty, Baby B would ask to sit on the potty, too, usually three or four times a day. I allowed her to do this for a couple of months, but she never had any output.

A couple of weeks ago, I told B that I had had enough of her playing on the potty. (She didn’t even seem like she ever tried to go.) I told her we were taking a break from her potty time. The first time I told her “no”, she fussed for a moment. But since then, she’s been just fine with wearing her diaper.

Baby B will even say, “Sissy wears big girl panties, like Mommy. I wear a diaper.” I will occasionally remind her that she can wear panties, too, when she starts to use the potty. She’ll say, “Yeah!” but she doesn’t seem very motivated one way or the other.

(I have to laugh a bit that for a few months, she’s been able to discern the difference in Pampers and Huggies. I can’t help but think, “If you can enumerate what brand diaper you’re wearing, and what size, you really should be able to make on the potty…”…HA!)

Over the past couple of weeks, Baby B has woken up in the mornings with a dry diaper on several occasions. I asked her if she wanted to sit on the potty…knowing she HAD to go. She was excited for the opportunity, but didn’t seem to try at all. When I pushed her a bit yesterday, she said, “I want a diaper!

I didn’t push the issue much more…I hate the idea of making her sit on the potty until she goes…but at this point I’m thinking I will probably need a different approach with Baby B than I took with Baby A, who basically trained herself.

I’m perfectly fine with giving Baby B some more time. Like Christina said once upon a time, “If potty training is stressful, your kiddo isn’t ready yet.” I think there’s a lot of truth in that.

And selfishly, this mama is VERY okay with just balancing one kiddo on the public potty right now!

July 13, 2011

They Seriously Said What??!!!

Most "Say What?! Wednesday" posts are about cute / funny / incredible things our kiddos have said. I have a ton of those these days...but I'm going to share a couple of the crazier things that have been said to me lately...

My guess is that most parents of multiples experience some pretty random comments on a weekly basis. I personally have gotten a lot of "What did you name them?" questions lately. I can only imagine that folks are sorely disappointed to not hear a Bonnie / Connie-type rhyming duo.

***

I thought I'd heard them all, until we had a gentleman in the house a couple of weeks ago, installing some new shades. He saw the girls in the den and asked if they were twins. Then he followed it up with, "Are they adopted?"

Wha???

I cannot begin to ever imagine asking that of someone! I was stunned!!! And then I had to fumble for an answer..."No, I gave birth to them two and a half years ago," I managed to say. How bizarre!!!

***

I was on the phone yesterday, answering a series of questions, one of which was my occupation. "I stay at home with my children."

"Oh, so you're a housewife," the woman rephrased for me.

Not usually at a loss for words, I was again taken aback. Does that sound a little 1950-esque to anyone else???

[And then I looked around for a hidden camera...perhaps she somehow saw me vacuuming in my pearls and heels...]

"That's a rather outdated term," I told the lady (who surely really cared about my feelings).

What is the going term these days?

***

Ah, well...at least I can count on the comments of random strangers for some random entertainment!

July 12, 2011

Setting a Good Example: In Moderation

So…speaking of ice cream…

…ever see a mom sitting nice and prim and proper at the ice cream shop, maybe sipping a bottle of water or a diet soda… while her kiddos consume gigantic bowls of ice cream the size of their heads?

I don’t want that to be me.

Long before we had children, my husband and I talked on numerous occasions about how we’d handle alcohol in front of our kids. I don’t know why that topic was of such interest to me…

…maybe it was having grown up in a small town in the deep south where many people only drank behind closed doors…maybe it was having had friends who were shocked to have “discovered” a stash of their parents’ liquor…maybe it was seeing some of those same friends experiment with alcohol in a very unhealthy way…

My hubby and I decided many years ago that we want our children to observe us enjoying the occasional glass of wine or beer in a responsible fashion. We want to show them what “moderation” is, and pray that we avoid the “forbidden fruit” syndrome that I think can lead some folks down the wrong path.

I think a similar approach can be applied to sweets.

We don’t eat dessert every night. Sometimes I make a fresh fruit cobbler, or occasionally I might even make a cake or a pie. When I do, I will offer the girls a small bowl, or let them share some of mine.

I don’t hold the dessert over their heads…”If you eat your vegetables, you can have some dessert.” I’m blessed to have good eaters (KNOCK ON WOOD), so I try to take a matter-of-fact approach to dessert. “Mommy made an apple pie. Would you like some?

We go out for ice cream or yogurt about once a week. I will have a small bowl, as will each of the girls. As long as we eat relatively well and exercise somewhat regularly, it’s fine to have a little treat…no big deal.

I hope the girls will see that you can do a lot of fun things if you do them in moderation, and I hope that will lead to a healthy appreciation of lots of good stuff. And I hope they won’t feel like they have to seize a sacred opportunity to eat a half gallon of ice cream in one sitting.

(And I hope it’s a long time before they learn to open the freezer and find my secret stash of fro-yo that I *occasionally* get into after they’re in bed!)

July 10, 2011

I Scream...You Scream...They Finally Scream Now, Too

When the girls were 15 months old, they sampled ice cream for the first time. Having had sweets only a couple of times prior to that…and I don’t think ever having had anything very cold…they weren’t big fans.

It did yield one of my favorite pictures, though. I love how Baby A is wincing, and B is squealing for her turn, certainly not knowing what's ahead.


It actually took a couple of months for the girls to warm up to the idea of sweet + cold. It kinda bothered me for a bit, or at least made me wonder if there hadn’t been some type of mix-up somewhere…Mommy and Daddy are both big ice cream aficionados, and the thought of the girls not following in our sugar-and-cream-laden footsteps just didn’t seem right.

I diligently tried them again with ice cream every week or so until…finally…one day it clicked.

Hey, this stuff is good!

My “hard work” has certainly paid off, as these days, I think the girls would eat ice cream three times a day if I’d let them. We don’t actually eat ice cream more than about once a week, but it’s such a nice, fun family treat.

We have a local dairy barn that makes The Best Ice Cream (and to-die-for chocolate chip cookies…but that’s another post). There’s something picturesque about taking the girls out in the country for “real” ice cream…just steps away from the cows in the pasture.

They also sell ice cream from the dairy barn at a little coffee shop on our downtown square. We sometimes get a scoop there to share on a bench in front of the fountain. The girls are all about that…ice cream + a huge fountain + the likelihood of seeing someone walking a dog…a little girl’s dream, for sure!

We more often frequent a little yogurt shop that opened about a year ago. It’s not quite as picturesque, but it’s locally-owned, and the girls feel right at home there.

Over the past couple of months, I finally got brave enough to let them hold their own cups of yogurt…which means I have both my hands to enjoy my own treat! You can see they take their frozen-dessert-eating pretty seriously!




The next frontier? The girls’ first ice cream cone. And I’m gonna gather up the courage to let them do it.

July is National Ice Cream month. It seems un-American not to honor the “holiday” in some meaningful way, right?

[Linking up with Multiples & More's Question of the Week!]

July 9, 2011

Don't Over-Romanticize the Twinship

My biggest takeaway from Abigail Pogrebin's "One and the Same" book on multiples?

Don't over-romanticize the twinship.

This is something I continue to think about on a regular basis...but as I was looking through the girls' closet recently, I realized I am failing them in one big area. I can't seem to resist those darn "1 of 2" t-shirt sets!

"That One" and "This One"...


"Thing 1" and "Thing 2"...




"Big Sister" and "Little Sister"...


In my defense (?), the first two sets were gifts. And I had been thinking about the big / little combo since the girls were tiny...and I finally found both shirts in the same size this spring.

I swear I won't do this much longer. I figure I've got another year or two, max.

But if the girls want those "Best Friends" lockets one day, each having one piece of a heart, I won't say no.

A mama can dream, right?

July 8, 2011

Fab 5 Friday...and ME!!!

It’s been a pretty cool week…making it woefully hard to narrow down the top five reasons it was so fabulous…but I’ll try…

1) I had such fun crafting in the kitchen with the girls on Sunday…and they had such fun eating the S’mores of their labor. And they now have a real-life reference for the Curious George Goes Camping story they love, in which he gets to roast marshmallows with his friend.

2) On Monday night, at random, I thought to pull up a youtube video of one of the most well-known Russian folk songs, “Kalinka”. I found a version featuring a performance with traditional Russian dance. The girls were mesmerized! There was a whole lotta wiggling going on in the den that night as they tried to kick up their heels…and they’ve asked every day since for “Kawinka”.

3) We celebrated the girls’ ½ birthday on Tuesday. We enjoyed a fantastic lunch (Mexican…their favorite!) with Aunt Karen, and the girls were in little two-and-a-half-year-old heaven eating a strawberry cupcake for dessert.

4) I’m learning that the girls can’t keep a secret for anything…in anticipation of celebrating our cat’s birthday on Friday (along with Daddy's), I took the girls to Target on Wednesday to buy her a new toy. They were giddy at the opportunity. Later that day, I was walking upstairs with B, and Sasha was sitting on the steps. B said to her, in a very deliberate cadence, “We bought you a very special present!

5) I don’t want the girls to think that eating Mommy’s cooking is the way to my heart, but it sure is hard to disguise sometimes. As part of dinner on Thursday, we had one of our favorite salads. I described it to the girls as I set their plates in front of them, “…fresh cucumbers and tomatoes and onion from the farmer’s market.” Baby B was so quick to point out, And dill, Mommy! A few minutes later, I thought Baby A was finished with her salad, as all she had left were pieces of diced onion. I went to move her plate, and she said, “No! I’m still eating!” And she ate every last morsel of that raw onion…HA!

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

A full year ago, a friend of mine recommended the book “The Help”, by Kathryn Stockett. I waited and waited for the book to come out in paperback, and I treated myself to it as soon as I saw it in the bookstore a few weeks ago. However, I told myself I couldn’t start it until I finished the parenting book I was reading. Well…I wasn’t quite finished with the parenting book…but I couldn’t stand it any longer. And wow…halfway through, it has been so worth the wait! It’s a fantastic read, and I’m enjoying every.single.page. There’s nothing like an engaging book…yum!!!

Thanks so much to everyone who entered my giveaway for the gorgeous handmade earrings in celebration of the 52 Weeks of ME! Halfway There Event! And…without further ado…the winner [selected via random.org] is…Marcia of 123 Blog! Congrats, Marcia!

And Marcia’s favorite way to pamper herself??? To lie in bed and read. (I agree…heaven!)

July 7, 2011

Parenting Books

I don’t consider myself a big connoisseur of parenting books. If these kiddos came with a manual, I’d be all about it…but the vast array of books available is pretty overwhelming. Everyone has an opinion. And at the end of the day, I think a parent’s instinct is a pretty good gauge.

Nonetheless, I’ve read three great books over the past year or so. I’m not sure if they would fall into the “parenting book” camp, or if they’d be better classified as human psychology, but they’ve been really insightful as I think about my growing girlies.

“One and the Same” by Abigail Pogrebin. I would recommend this book to any parent of multiples. The book presents a lot of really interesting research on twin relationships. The author offers great perspective as an identical twin herself. And her interviews with numerous sets of twins in various stages of life are really poignant.

My biggest takeaway from this book is not to over-romanticize our girls’ twinship. Certainly it’s magical to think about the twin bond, but I don’t want to set my girls up with unrealistic expectations…that if one doesn’t feel a stabbing pain when the other has a hangnail, they’ve somehow failed each other as sisters.

“Cinderella Ate My Daughter” by Peggy Orenstein. Having spent my career to date in the field of marketing, and now as the mother of young girls, this was such an interesting read. It talks about our culture with respect to a lot of toys and television programming, and even clothing design. I just want my little girls to be little girls as long as they can be…and to know that they can be anything they want to be as they grow up.

This book made me think about how marketing campaigns are targeted to children, and I hope I can eventually help my girls recognize the motivations and sort through what they truly want and need themselves.

“Einstein Never Used Flashcards” by Roberta Golinkoff, et al. This book presents a lot of research about how children learn, from birth through preschool. The authors speak to many of the types of “educational aids” on the market today, some they say have merit, others they discredit. The authors maintain that a mix of structured and free play – along with lots of reading – is the best way to promote children’s healthy emotional and “academic” development.

This book helped me get a sense for how children build skill sets in terms of language acquisition, mathematics, and social skills. It offers some great suggestions for age-appropriate play, and in general makes me feel good about the 10,000 picnics we stage every day in the den.

***

None of these books would I consider “how-to” guides for anything…but I love reading about different perspectives to consider on this great journey through parenthood.

Have you read any “parenting” books you’d recommend?

My GIVEAWAY is open through midnight tonight (July 7)...click HERE if you haven't already entered!

July 6, 2011

1/2 is a Whole Lotta Fun!

Yesterday we celebrated the girls' 1/2 birthday. Yep...two and a half...officially halfway to THREE...but I'm not thinking about that just yet (breathe in, breathe out).

This is not a tradition I grew up with, but one I heard a colleague talk about years ago. I think it's such a neat idea...a way to stop and think about where we are in the context of a year. And particularly during these first few years, six months makes such a HUGE difference in almost every aspect of our world!

Our half birthday celebrations to date have been pretty low-key...usually involving pretty dresses and an excuse for Mommy to make a yummy dessert. (Homemade strawberry cake was the chosen dessert for this year!)

As the girls get a little older, I could foresee having some once-a-year fun...something crazy like eating dessert for supper...or maybe camping overnight in the living room.

There are no presents, just an opportunity to really focus on our little family.

And of course there are lots of pictures! (And of course you know I can't resist some comparison shots!)

Starting with 2009 [when Mommy and Daddy had to eat the girls' 1/2 cakes on their behalf]...


...2010, when the girls got in on the eating action...

...and 2011...


And the comparison pictures in Mommy's lap...



I'm linking up today with Cheryl at Twinfatuation for Way Back When-esday! (Thanks to Cheryl for hosting such a great link-up each week...I love seeing everyone's pictures from their albums!)


AND, if you haven't entered my GIVEAWAY for a beautiful pair of handmade earrings, please click HERE to do so (through July 7).

July 4, 2011

Happy Birthday, America!

When the girls turned two in January, they could sing “Happy Birthday”, but I don’t think they really grasped the concept of a birthday party.

Since we attended our twin friends’ second birthday party in May, though, A and B have developed quite a fixation on birthday celebrations.

They’ve held so many birthday parties for their baby dolls over the past couple of months, those dolls must surely be of retirement age by now.

Sometimes the very first words I hear them utter over the monitor, their little voices still crackly with sleep, are, “It’s Abby’s birthday!” “It’s Lily’s birthday!

We often start our mornings by singing “Happy Birthday” to both of the girls’ dolls. Then I usually hear, “I’m gonna go make her a special birthday breakfast!

Throughout the day, I’ll hear various bits and pieces…”It’s Abby’s birthday! These are her presents!” The girls will have carefully chosen a couple of books or toys that they guard from being separated from their dolls.

Often when we do artwork, the girls will declare, “I’m making this for Lily! It’s her birthday!

And of course, every day there are birthday cupcakes to bake and serve.

(Never mind that the girls have had cupcakes approximately twice in their lives…they associate them directly with birthdays, and apparently think no celebration is complete without a good cupcake!)

The girls are going to have a big week of birthday celebrations, and they’re so excited…

We’ll celebrate the girls’ “Half Birthday” on Tuesday. We don’t do presents, but we just make a special family day out of it…and I am making them strawberry cupcakes.

Then Daddy’s birthday is on Friday, and we celebrate our cat’s birthday on the same day [at Husband’s request].

The girls are super excited about everything going on over the next several days. They’ve already made Sasha numerous cards (and I’m sure they’ll turn their attention to Daddy’s birthday soon).

I may have thrown a bit of a kink in their little minds today, though...

...I tried explaining that we’re celebrating America’s birthday. I can only imagine the concept of our country is a very difficult one to grasp. Nonetheless, the girls have been saying, “Happy birthday, America!” most of the day.

I just know they’re wondering when I'm going to break out the cupcakes! I hope they won't be disappointed to discover we are having watermelon instead.


***
If you haven't already done so, please click HERE (through July 7) to enter my giveaway for some beautiful handmade earrings!

July 3, 2011

An Edible All-American Craft

What's more American than baseball and apple pie???

How 'bout football and S'mores?!!!

I'm from the deep south, where football is King, and -- no offense to my grandmother's famous apple pie -- but I'm guessing that delicacy actually has roots on the European continent.

We don't have any big plans for the Independence Day holiday, so I wanted to do some "All-American" things with the girls, and I decided to introduce them to the fine art of S'mores.

I saw a post* a couple of weeks ago that inspired me to get the girls in the kitchen with me to construct S'mores on a Stick.

I used 14 large marshmallows, 14 pretzel sticks, 2 squares of chocolate bark, melted, and 2 full graham crackers, loosely crushed.

I divided the task into two phases. First, I had the girls put the pretzel sticks in the marshmallows:


Then, while the girls had a little snack with the hubs, I melted the chocolate and set up the second phase. I dipped each marshmallow, one at a time, in chocolate, and then let the girls help me roll it in the graham cracker crumbs.


I put our creations on wax paper to set (maybe 30 minutes or so).


And after supper, the girls got to enjoy a little taste of Americana!



[Note: I have heard horror stories of the choking hazards of marshmallows. I watched the girls VERY closely while they ate. They did a really great job, taking small bites and chewing really well.]

*If you don't know what goes on at Adventures-in-Mommy-Land, I'd encourage you to check out all the amazing crafts and cool recipes she makes with her kiddos. This super savvy mom of six -- including B/G twins -- does a lot of crafts that are book-inspired, too.

July 2, 2011

Super 6 Saturday

What made my week so super, you ask???

1) Last Friday we took the girls to the local orchard. We had the playground to ourselves, and they had a blast running around. I even convinced Hubby to let me take them down the huge half-pipe slide (one at a time, in my lap). They loved it, and have been talking about the “bumpy slide” ever since!

2) On Thursday afternoon, I just needed to get out of the house. I decided to try my hand at sharing a snack with the girls in a restaurant – by myself – without the use of high chairs. They did great!!! They devoured a plate of nachos like perfect little ladies. (Oxymoron, much?)

3) On Friday, we went out for dinner to one of my very favorite restaurants, a shabby-chic café that serves the best homemade pizzas and uses mostly organic ingredients. The girls dove into a hummus appetizer like nobody’s business, ate a really fair share of our pizza, and topped the evening off with a bowl of fresh blueberries while sitting on the patio. I just love seeing my girls enjoying good food.

4) We were walking along a sidewalk by several store fronts. We passed a salon / spa and Baby A called out, “Topiary!” I had pointed out topiaries to the girls several times before…but who knew they were paying attention?!

5) Baby A has been doing the funniest thing when she’s being scolded. She puts her hand over her eyes, I guess trying to “hide”. It’s so darn cute, albeit a little maddening…but I so far have refrained from laughing.

6) Baby B has been cracking me up lately, too. I might say, “Are you silly?” And she’s consistently been responding, almost tearfully at times, “No! I’m [Baby B]!”

It’s always a super week in some form or fashion with my super-sweet baby girls!

If you haven't already done so, please enter my giveaway (open through July 7)!

July 1, 2011

Do a Little Something for Yourself, Why Don't Ya?!

Amid the hustle and bustle of life as a mom, it's so easy for us moms to deprioritize ourselves. Since January of this year, The Great dollimama has encouraged us to devote at least a little bit of time and consideration to ourselves each week as part of her 52 Weeks of ME! Challenge.

Stepping back, I've done a lot for myself...

...from "big" things like pedicures and date nights...

...to "small" things like appreciating driving with the sunroof open, the wind through my hair, and the radio up [sans kiddos, of course].

None of these things was very monumental, nor did it break the bank. But it's been a great weekly challenge, one that I think has made me a better mom.

We're halfway through the year (how did that happen?!), and to celebrate, we're hosting an awesome giveaway link-up!

Wanna play? The more, the merrier!

Just grab the button, link up with me here, with dollimama, or with Andrea at The Mays Twins between now and July 7.

Your giveaway should be in the neighborhood of ~$10...and should be something that another mama could use to pamper herself a bit.

It could be anything...get creative! A gift card...a "pretty" for the house...or even photo editing or a bit of blog design. Check out the full details HERE.

What are you waiting for? Do something for yourself and enter!!! :) :)



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