12 Days of Christmas

One month later and I’m here again. Blogging comes in waves for me. I’m always ready to talk and share about things that are happening in my house and life, but sometimes I don’t feel like I know exactly how to say it in this format. Then, I go through my emails and read all of your blogs and am inspired to play catch up, again. Many of you have children the same age as mine, and many of you also have twins. So it’s nice to see that my house isn’t the only one full of sometimes-controlled chaos.

Last year, the twins were just 5.5 months on Christmas, so they gummed their way around their very few gifts and we called it a day.

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This year was vastly different, and in a very good way. For the first time, I really became aware of how fun it is to watch children experience Christmas. The kids loved opening their presents and ripping the paper. They loved “ooh”ing and “ahh”ing over whatever they found when they got the paper off, and then shrieking until Daddy cut open the box and assembled whatever it was. They liked our tree, our ornaments, their stockings. It was a lot of fun. They started to learn about Santa, and learned that he says “Ho, ho, ho”, but they treated it just like another animal who makes a sound. That’s about the extent of their Christmas knowledge for this year, and I’m okay with that. This year, at 17 months, their Christmas pictures looked more like this:

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On Christmas Day, they crept over to the tree and checked out the packages (the first picture). But then they had breakfast and we hustled over to my mother’s house (the other pictures) for presents to be home before naptime. After nap, they ate lunch and we shuttled over to my in-laws for Christmas dinner. When we got home, it was baths and bed. So on that day, the babies never opened the presents under our tree (my husband and I exchanged our gifts at naptime haha). But that night, as I began the tedious process of sorting old toys with new toys, toys to keep, toys to hide, toys to sell, etc. I realized that the amount of presents and new toys they got that day were certainly enough to last them a while. Why rush the opening process? They wanted to play with each toy they got. Why make them leave a good thing? On the second day of Christmas, B got curious and they opened their stockings and enjoyed some downtime with their gifts.

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And today, the third day after Christmas, they opened the last few from us.

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In fact, there’s still one more; a toddler-sized acoustic guitar to match the one that Grandpa has. And that will be saved for some day sometime soon when it would be fun to open just one more thing. Babies don’t need much – family was more than generous in what they gave to the twins. They can take their time getting around to playing with them.

As I mentioned earlier, my new task is TOY STORAGE. I want to rotate toys but we have no space. So for now I’ve basically taken out most of the toys they were playing with before Christmas and stuffed them in a closet. I’ve filled the space back up with most of their new toys, and even took a few more new toys and hid them as well. What was once squishy blocks and soft mobile animals is now trucks, cars, puzzles, letter and numbers. It was a very nice holiday for all of us!

Just Say “No”

Once, out of boredom, I took one of those silly Facebook quizzes. You know, like “If you were a color, what color would you be?” and “What spirit animal are you?”. I took the “What kind of Mom are you?” quiz. And as I already knew, I’m the “perfectionist Mom”. Since Day 1, I have taken this parenting job so seriously, sometimes too seriously, that I want to be the VERY BEST I can be. Of course mistakes will be made – even on a daily basis (I let C touch a hot potato today without thinking, which was really dumb and I felt awful). But I have always held myself to an overly-high standard. It’s just the way I am. I do my best to know the topics and issues that my twins face in and out. If I don’t know something from my own upbringing or the experiences I have had while taking care of other people’s children, I will research the crap out of it until I can go to sleep knowing how I want to tackle a situation. It doesn’t mean it’ll always go smoothly, but at least I will have a plan. I’ve done this about switching to cloth diapers, sleeping training, sleep regressions, making my own baby food, introducing solids, sensory activities to do at home, hiring a nanny, etc. And now that we’ve really started “parenting” in this house, my husband and I are digging deep into our natural tendencies – how we think we should handle most situations that come up. We’ve been feeling pretty good about it.

Which is why I don’t like not knowing how to do something, when it comes to parenting. I don’t like being unsure. I don’t like being stumped.

See, I’m on the fence about how and when to say “no” to a toddler. A biting, hitting, screaming, reaching-for-everything toddler. Before B turned his toddler-ness up to 10, my gut motherly instinct always told me to use a firm “NO” for the serious things – any danger to himself or others, biting, hitting. But that’s it. When I said the word, I wanted him to be surprised and taken aback because it wasn’t said often. And maybe even cry. So that’s what we did. B started hitting and biting, and I started saying “NO”. I would lay him down on the floor slowly afterwards and ignore him for about 30 seconds while he cried and perhaps tried to hit or bite again. And it was all going smoothly.

But in the past few weeks, I’m finding myself saying “No”….too much. For me, it’s way too much. And I say it to both of them. If C takes a toy right out of B’s hands, I’m finding myself saying, “No, he had it first.”. Or when B darts into the rarely-open bathroom and heads for the toilet, shower, you name it: I’m saying, “No, come play out here.” Or when either of them writhes around on the changing table, threatening to take a dive as I’m holding them down to strap on a diaper, I’m saying, “No, I have to change your diaper.” But the volume of these “no”s are getting louder and louder. I feel like I’m starting to yell. A lot. And it’s just not the kind of Mom I want to be.

I want to be more patient, I want to redirect as I already do, but without the loud “no”. I want to save the “no”s for the serious things. I don’t like how I’m doing this a million times a day and I want to make a change. Because I do believe that children will eventually tune that sort of thing out. Like yelling. I’m not really a yeller. So why am I getting so frustrated? Eventually the twins will tune out my “no”s or my louder volume. It won’t make an impact when it really counts – like when someone is in danger.

To cut myself a little slack, I had heard a few times before that toddlers hear the end of a sentence you say – it makes sense to keep it simple. So if I say to B, “Don’t push your peas on the floor” – B heard “peas” and “floor” – which is where the rest of them will end up. I guess I thought that if I made it simple – with just a “no” – he’d get the message loud and clear without a bunch of extra words that at this age he doesn’t need. And that’s how it came to be that I say this word so often. I don’t like it. I’d prefer to focus my words in a positive light, like “Keep your peas on the tray” – but it’s just not how it’s coming out right now.

I’d like to start making a change, but I’m not sure what the right tactic is. More explanation? They’re too little. But how to keep it simple without using the word?

As a side crappy story – there was one instance today where I had to use the word. And it was terrible. B had been melting down over toys and my attention for about 15 minutes. I had tried to redirect many times and it just wasn’t working. Finally I decided to take them into the other room and read some books and quiet everyone down. Well as I was sitting down, C climbed in my lap. I picked up a book and apparently, B was still angry. As I held C, B clamped down on C’s arm so very hard and he wouldn’t let go. And I lost it. I screamed. I screamed the “no” that would be appropriate here, though not nearly at the volume I used. B screamed and cried hysterically. C screamed and cried hysterically. Mommy screamed and cried hysterically. There’s nothing worse than seeing your child in pain. I want both of my babies to be happy and healthy and it hurts when they hurt. I know B is frustrated by his lack of vocabulary and his sense of adventure. I know what he’s doing is normal. But it hurts even MORE when the pain your child is in is being caused by your other child. Emotions are twisted in so many directions. I wish I hadn’t lost it – but it was so upsetting to see one child hurt another. It was a bad bite. I’ve got a biter. And in that case, I did have to say “no”.

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Only a few hours later (and after a nap), the babies had a ball at a playground and were all smiles. Yes, I have a biter. But on the flip side, he’s also a big-time kisser.

Halloween 2014

One of my favorite things about 1) having twins and 2) being a stay-at-home mom for a year was that I got to use my babies as dolls to dress up and place wherever I chose to take a good picture. The 5-10 month age range was especially great for this, as the babies sat and didn’t go anywhere, smiling on cue. Since the babies started walking and then I went back to work, my photo opportunities have dwindled dramatically.

That said, I still love a good, cheap, easy photo opportunity. The holidays provide many occasions to dress the babies up – Halloween, Thanksgiving, the Christmas Card, Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day. I like to spend a while dreaming up the outfits and setting I want to take the pictures in, and then make it my goal to find the clothes as cheap as possible, usually hitting up the local thrift store in order to get what I want.

The first holiday on the list this fall was Halloween, of course. My husband and I are very aware that there are only a few years in which these babies will wear whatever we put them in, without personal costume requests of their own. And because they are boy/girl twins, we have a lot of options in making them matchy-matchy. Last year, we stuffed them in monkey suits, they cried their eyes out for five minutes, we took a picture, undressed them, and called it a day.

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This year, we narrowed down our options, wanting to avoid an animal outfit with a hot and sweaty headpiece. After much deliberation, we decided on making C a mad scientist and B her Frankenstein. At the time of our decision, B was still walking with his arms out, waddling like a penguin, and C wasn’t walking yet but making her requests known from afar. It seemed to fit.

To make these costumes work (and after consulting the magical Pinterest), we gathered what we could from the thrift store, the party store, and the dollar store. For C’s mad scientist costume, I dressed her in khaki pants and a plaid shirt. I borrowed a white lab coat from a friend’s toddler who used it last year (Thanks, friend 🙂 ), bought a purple bow tie at the party store, and kids’ reading glasses from the dollar store. I popped out the lenses on the glasses as well. For B’s Frankenstein outfit, I bought a black velvet pants and dress jacket set from the thrift store and a green spider shirt for under the jacket. The key for his costume was the hat. It needed to be one that stayed on his head. I took him to the party store with me and bought a $2 plastic hat. My husband cut the rim off of it, super-glued a cardboard container on top of it, and then glued felt fabric over the entire thing. It tied under B’s chin. (In the end, the fabric curled around the inside edge of the hat, making it just small enough that it wouldn’t fit on B’s head. So the hat ended up being a lot taller than originally planned!)

Now, the twins are going through the stage where any piece of clothing or accessory could be a no-go, depending on the day. Hats right now are usually out, so I just hoped B would be distracted enough on Halloween to wear it. And as for C’s glasses, I decided to introduce them to her a week early to see how she would take them – and she absolutely loved them. She wore them for as long as she could and still will if I let her. She loves the glasses.

On the afternoon of Halloween, I waited for my husband to get home from work and we slowly dressed the twins, one piece at a time. I knew there might be meltdowns and sure enough, C cried just from the shirt alone because it was too baggy and she didn’t like how it felt. But we waited 20 minutes between adding new pieces, and distracted with toys. Finally the babies were super fussy, and after trying to get C’s hair up and all crazy with her crying and screaming, I decided to forget the hair and we headed outside to play.

Going outside ended up being exactly what we needed. They were distracted by being outdoors and we were able to completely dress them up. Now granted, this was at 4:30 in the afternoon. By the time it got dark out and the trick-or-treaters were coming around, it was time for the babies to eat dinner, they were fussy, and they had since ripped each piece of clothing/accessory off one at a time, until C was literally shirtless. A 6:00 pm dress up wouldn’t have worked out in the slightest. But 4:30? The perfect time. They didn’t trick-or-treat, they didn’t even leave our yard. But they played, explored the leaves, and I got my photo shoot. Phew. A successful Halloween, I’d say. We’ll see what next year brings.

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Transitioning off the bedtime bottle

I have spent every night this week putting in about two hours of schoolwork, so tonight, with a bag full of papers to correct, I’m ignoring them. This job is crazy! For my sanity, I need a night off.

In the same breath, I’m still trying to blog more, but about specific topics rather than a giant update. As I tell my students, “seed” stories rather than a big “watermelon” book. No one has the time to read a novel!

As I’ve come to learn, parenting is just one giant roller coaster ride of transitions. After everything is finally smooth sailing, something changes. There’s constantly adjustments to schedules, routines, nap times, feeding processes…etc. While we’re on the brink of many transitions, the one I’m focusing on now is the transition off the bedtime bottle.

When we switched to milk at 12 months, we ditched the bottles and gave the twins cups. B took to a straw cup immediately while C stuck to a sippy for a few months but has sinced switched to THIS Munchkin magical straw cup herself. (By the way – have a child who tips back her straw cup and therefore can’t get any liquid out? Buy this cup – worth every penny!)

The kids have since taken their milk in their straw cups with their meals – one at breakfast, one at lunch, and one at dinner. The only bottle we still had was at bedtime. After baths and PJs, my husband and I would each take a kid, hold their bottle of milk (NO, they wouldn’t hold their own bottles – ever) and then put them to bed. They never fell asleep drinking the bottle – we haven’t put the babies to bed while sleeping in memory. But it just was part of the routine, they each snuggled in – it worked. And as the wise saying goes, (and my personal motto for parenting) “Don’t fix what ain’t broke”.But with the recent addition of so many teeth – B has about 12, and C has 9 or 10, I couldn’t stomach the fact that they were “brushing their teeth” in the bath and then drinking milk and letting it sit on their teeth and gums all night. I also didn’t like the fact that they still needed the milk in a bottle when they had no issues with their cups throughout the day. So even though things were going smoothly, I knew we needed to make the transition.

We went about it wrong in the beginning. I couldn’t decide which piece of the transition I wanted to make first – from bottles to cups, from milk to water, or from upstairs in the dark to downstairs in the light. So I started with milk to water, and for anyone considering this transition, that was the WRONG choice. I started mixing one ounce of water in the bottles with one less ounce of milk – and that actually went fine. B did not need 7 ounces of milk after just having 6 ounces at dinner an hour ago. So I did 6 milk, 1 water. Then the next day or two, 5 milk and 2 water. And so on. C only had 4 ounces to begin with, but for her too, I whittled her milk down. I got B down to 1 ounce of milk and 6 ounces of water – and on night one of that he was fine. Drank it all. Night two – major meltdown. Had to pour more milk. I mean, I wouldn’t want to drink that either. I realized..what was I planning to do – give him 7 ounces of warm water? And in his bottle? That wasn’t going to work.

So then we started over. And this time, I gave him about half and half water and milk, as that didn’t phase him whatsoever. (I do recommend adding one ounce of water at a time, but just not as the first part of your transition!) But we gave it to him in his straw cup. Still upstairs in the dark, same routine. But in the cup. He didn’t mind. That piece was easy for him. Now interestingly enough, this is where C’s transition ended. When I presented the milk to her in her straw cup instead of the bottle, she wasn’t interested in drinking it. We did two nights of it with some fussing and I thought – why am I begging her to drink this? They both get their daily allotted amount of milk throughout their three meals – they don’t need this milk. So on the third night, I crossed my fingers and skipped the cup and just – put her to bed. She wasn’t wanting it anyway, and my kids don’t drink milk before naps. Why should bedtime be any different? And it worked out completely fine for her – she never missed it. She’s officially off the bedtime beverage.

B is still a work in progress. I’m blogging before the transition is complete, but I think we’re almost there. He’s a big boy (28 pounds and 31 inches at 15 months), he’s thirsty. He drinks 7 ounces and asks for more. We got it half and half and it’s in a cup. My husband was about ready to start having him drink it downstairs in the light, so that we could brush his teeth after the milk and before heading upstairs. That was the plan. But last night and tonight, B hasn’t wanted his milk. He drank about half last night and only an ounce or two tonight. Again – why force it when he doesn’t need it? So tomorrow we’re making the change. We’re likely to just put him to bed like we do for naps – without any drink. But if he asks for a “ba ba”, then he can sit downstairs on the couch and drink it. The change is here! Thank goodness!

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I’m hoping if B stops drinking this giant cup of liquid, he’ll stop what is my newest head-scratcher – leaking through his nighttime diaper and all over his PJs and sheets! I’ve tried cloth (hemp/bamboo and about one million inserts) and I’ve tried nighttime disposables – two of them – with a cloth diaper cover on it! Still leaking!!!!!

Homemade Playdough – NO Cream of Tartar

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Going back at work after being a stay at home mom for the babies’ first year, one of the things I truly miss is the opportunity to do sensory, crafty activities. I’m all about being thrifty and using items that can be found in my own home (or no further than the dollar store) for the twins’ playtime opportunities. My nanny has picked up where I left off, but still, I miss being a part of it myself. My new goal is to try a new sensory activity every weekend with the twins. It doesn’t have to be complicated. This weekend I suppose we did two: We walked in the woods and explored the autumn leaves, trees, and rocks, and today, we played with playdough.

When I was a child, I loved playdough. I flattened it out into a pancake and stabbed it repeatedly with straws. I pushed it through the spaghetti maker and and balled it back up again. But I was also ten years old. As it turns out, playdough is fun at any age and is fabulous for getting those creative juices flowing.

Because the twins are only 15 months, I was a little concerned about them sneaking a bite of the squishy stuff, so I decided to make my own. Though not a single bite was tried, I’m so glad I made my own because I know exactly what went into it, I got to choose my own colors (it’s the little things), and it took me less than 5 minutes to make. Oh, and it was FREE. I used this blog post as the basis for my recipe.

Now, it should be known that most homemade playdough recipes call for cream of tartar. Apparently it helps make the playdough smooth. But we didn’t have that, and so I googled alternative recipes. I don’t know how much smoother the playdough could get, because mine was perfect. It was the exact soft, squishy consistency I was looking for – no cream of tartar needed. I used:

-1 cup flour

-1/4 cup salt

-1 cup water

-1 tbsp vegetable oil

-3 tsp white vinegar (and no, the playdough didn’t come out smelling like vinegar!)

-(optional) food coloring – I made a lavender and a peach

Mix it all up in a pot, medium heat, stirring constantly. Take it off the heat when it hardens into a solid mass and let it cool. Then knead it for a minute or two and you’re good to go – ready for use! (I must say that for my second batch, I needed some extra flour on my plate as I kneaded the dough to get rid of the leftover stickies.) Here’s the finished product from my two batches.

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Depending on the age of the child, you’d want some materials they could use for play. I knew my twins wouldn’t be able to make their dough into shapes or anything of that sort, so I bought $1 pick-up sticks at Target for poking. I also got out some measuring spoons. You could use anything – from pine cones and sticks to cookie cutters and plastic utensils. It’s a good thing I got the sticks, because they ended up being the real hit.

Now, every kid is different, and as I expected, nothing ever goes as planned. C spent the first five minutes either in a panic over this mushy mass in front of her (“Don’t make me touch it!!”), or completely bored.

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B took off with it, poking it and exploring, though neither of them ever really got their hands into it.

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Then, after a few minutes, B got bored. He actually left the table. But C finally found some way to enjoy the dough sitting in front of her. She absolutely loved poking the dough with the sticks and then removing them. And then throwing them on the floor. And repeat.

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She sat at the table for no less than a half hour, just taking out sticks. It wasn’t exactly what I had in mind, but it was a successful activity. The best part about the playdough is that when stored in an air-tight container (or a ziplock bag), it’ll last for months. If you live in a humid area, you could put it in the fridge, but since we’re entering the beginning of a dry winter, I’m going to leave mine out and see what happens. Today was the first time we had ever used playdough, so I’m excited to see what they’ll do with it next time!

15 month update

After another few weeks’ hiatus and reading all of your blog updates – I have a “free night” that offers me an hour to blog, if I choose to do so. So I am. There are certainly 1,000 other things I could be doing – such as putting the rest of the twins’ 12 month photos that I printed into the album, or picking out clothes for work tomorrow, or taking a shower, or *gasp* going to bed early. Oh well – maybe tomorrow night!

When I was a stay-at-home-mom, I was in no way “relaxed”. I had plenty to do, and even more to worry about. Over the course of time that I stayed home with the babies, from their birth in July until the following August when I went back to work, I’d say 85% of my brain space was dedicated to the topic of baby sleep. I’m sure my old blog posts reflect this – sleep patterns, schedules, getting twins on the same routine, counting wake times, duration of naps, location of naps, transitioning from 4-3, 3-2…..etc. It was all I could think about and research. At times, with two screaming, overtired babies in my arms, I was overwhelmed and stressed. Many times. Which is why being a stay-at-home parent is no walk in the park, ever. However. I was able to ONLY think about the babies and their sleep schedules for months on end. Eventually I also added in the topics of transitioning to solid foods, switching to cloth diapers, and getting the babies out and about in the world to my list of daily, constant thoughts. I wanted to kick that year at home’s butt, doing everything I could possibly do to take control over the lives my babies lived on a daily basis, because I knew that once I went back to work, I would never have that opportunity again.

And that is exactly what’s happened. The difference between being a parent all day at home vs. being a parent all day at work, is that for me, everything I used to think about while being home with the babies still exists (though with much less worry, thank goodness), but I’ve only added to it, times a million. In between trying to figure out my lesson plans and testing we are doing and collecting data, analyzing data, talking about data….etc., I’m thinking about B’s terrible teething diaper rash recently and his new overnight pooping schedule that isn’t helping the matter, and how I hope the babies like their lunch today, and I’m wondering what new words/concepts the babies are learning with our nanny, J. Then it’s back to my students, to my colleagues, to my lessons, and back again to the babies. It’s this constant flow of thoughts that I try to control, sort out, and deal with 24/7. Does this thought need my attention right now? Is there something I should be doing instead? I don’t know. Work is INSANE – crazier than when I left it a year and a half ago. And most of the time, I am managing, but sometimes – it’s just nuts. Being home with the babies was not harder than this. At least I got to focus all of myself on the babies.

With all of that aside, as I was told, being at work does make me appreciate my time with the babies that much more. It is nice to come home to two children that have learned something new that wasn’t taught by me – something that I can now choose to encourage and support, but how cool, something they already know! For example – J taught the babies “stars” and “airplanes”. And now, every single time she hears or sees one, C is pointing up at the sky in wonder, signing for “plane” and crying when the plane goes out of her vision. And in a store yesterday, B pointed to the stars on the wall and said plainly, “Star!” (more like “sar” but close enough).

Having toddlers is totally awesome. Someone in our building who isn’t normally there today mentioned that he has 5 month old twins and I found myself thinking – “good luck with that”. I do not envy him whatsoever. 5 month old twins are fun and cute and all, but 15 month old twins (today!) are so much better. We now parent them. We teach them things. B tonight was introduced to a bug by my husband, and he giggled and crept over to it and poked it and said “buh” after my husband repeatedly told him what it was. Every day, it’s something new. Their language continues to take off (especially C), as she now has mastered her “s” sound and says “pwease” at the appropriate times and can say the sounds of like 8 animals or something like that. Their physical skills grow as well (especially B), as tonight he learned how to “stomp” and loved every second of it. They show affection, they show anger, they let us know what they need and want. They are little people. It’s very cool.

It’s not all sunshine and rainbows obviously. I guess when you have young children, you’re always in the process of some sort of transition. (When does that end, exactly?) Right now, we’re about to start a few transitions – from “before bed milk” to “before bed water”, from “nighttime bottle” to “nighttime sippy”, from finger foods to fork and spoon foods, from 2 naps to 1 nap (still not there yet, but it’s coming…), from 3 to 2 pacifiers (done!), from 2-1 or 1-0 pacifiers…not so much. B doesn’t use them but C does, only for sleeping, but still it sometimes creeps into her day more than I’d like.

You know, it’s this constant learning process for us. We found a magical straw cup that has a weighted bottom and now C drinks from a straw cup, just like that. B loves to practice with his fork and is almost there, stabbing away at his foods while C is nowhere near ready. C is ready to dress herself – she tries to put her own socks on and can do the velcro on her shoes by herself. I’m not even sure B realizes he is wearing socks and shoes. C is feisty and independent, waving her arms back and forth, pursing her lips and saying, “noooo” when I ask for a kiss or if she wants to ________. B is snuggly and affectionate, though with extremely strong opinions, and in between throwing fits or running after toys gives a million kisses and hugs.

By far, my favorite part about having babies this age right now is that we try every weekend to expose them to some new experience that they’ve never had before. With the holidays coming, there’s so much to show them that we think they will love. A few weekends ago, we went to a science museum on a rainy Saturday and let them walk around and see the animals. This past weekend, we brought them to a pumpkin patch and took a walk in the woods. That is the best part.

Here’s some recent pics, first of B and C and then them both. 🙂

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I’m so sleepy……you already know

I realized tonight that I haven’t blogged in a while, and I thought it would be much more fun than correcting a giant stack of papers on a Friday night. I’m sure I won’t be disappointed!

A few weeks ago, I was basically in a tizzy, trying to manage work and home – the full-time teacher and the full-time mom. Even now, it’s still hectic, and I’d say 6 out of 7 nights a week, I go to bed around 11:15/11:30. There’s just so much to do – whether it’s baby-related or school-related. But I do feel I’m starting to adjust to the schedule. Just like a new parent becomes accustomed to sleeping in 2-3 hour shifts around the clock for months, a new-to-work parent becomes accustomed to sleeping from midnight to 6:00 and then heading off to work for a full day of fun. I do find it SO hard to wake up these mornings, and so I set three alarms. But after I finally get out of bed, my energy is raring to go (thank goodness I’m a morning person!) and I’m okay. There’s always a lot on my mind and a lot to do. Our nanny, J, arrives typically at 7:00 – so I want to have a few minutes with the babies before I hand them off to her. We have a nice system going – I shower first and then head upstairs where I take the babies out of their cribs and they play around their room for a few minutes. When my husband has showered and dressed, he comes upstairs too and then everyone goes down for breakfast and new diapers. By the time that’s all happened, it’s 7:00, J shows up to do breakfast and I start making myself presentable. Somehow, this is working for us.

On a positive note, I can’t speak for anyone else but now that I’ve basically managed to be a teacher as well as a mom, I do feel a little more empowered than I did before. I CAN be a pretty good teacher and a good parent at the same time. I may have to sacrifice sleep, TV shows (what’s TV?), and downtime for myself, but I know it’s temporary. In a few years the kids will be in elementary school and will play and talk in their room(s)..and sure I’ll have TV time, but I won’t have baby time.

At lunch today, my colleagues and I were having a conversation about the stages kids go through, and I realized that so far, there’s been no stage in my twins’ lives that I wish we could return to. I mean, I may think differently in the middle of a sleep regression or back when B was a tantruming, hitting nightmare, but when everyone’s back to “normal”, I really love the current stage we’re in. And I’m hoping I’ll love the next one too.

The babies are total toddlers. B is pretty much running. Walking is his main method of transportation now – he rarely crawls, and if he does it’s only for a few seconds. He’s an adventurous little guy – he learns through exploration. He wants to reach down and touch things, even if they make him cringe and make a face like he just licked a lemon (which happened today when he touched a dandelion) and he wants to test his limits. He’s discovered areas we don’t want him in and he cries and throws his legs around when we move him (such as from the bathroom, where he has discovered the toilet and toilet paper). But he also has suddenly taken interest in forks and spoons and is trying to feed himself. He has many words and signs he uses readily and picks up new little tricks quickly, like how to “high five” or make “fish lips”. He takes direction pretty well – though a little stubborn- , but really likes to be engaged with an activity. Today I had them on the front lawn and he started to wander from me so I asked him to bring me a leaf. Once he had done that I asked for another one, and another, and this kept him busy for 5-10 minutes, just gathering leaves in the yard to give to me. Such a strange concept – where once I had two babies, I now have two children who do what I ask them to do. They hear me, understand, and then follow directions. It’s really pretty crazy.

C learns by imitation and observation. She’s a watcher. The neatest thing for her is that it only takes once, maybe twice, for her to get the hang of something. She knows her animal sounds, for example, for the cow, sheep, dog, cat, horse, and duck. But the duck – I taught her that on a whim when I was trying to think of another animal sound to teach her. And after telling her twice in a row, she imitated it back to me and then remembered it the next day. And like B, I can give her a direction that’s multi-step and she can follow it. Tonight, B was heading towards the bath and I said to C, “Do you want to splash in the bath with B?” (Essss!) “Then go into the bathroom to take your bath” – and off she crawled. Or, as we played outside this afternoon, she wanted to go in the swing but B was in it, and I said, “I’m sorry but B is in the swing right now. It’s not your turn.” And out came the tears. She’s also found the word “No” – clear as day. “Do you want more green beans?” She does the “all done” sign with a “noooo” attached. It’s pretty cool. She also has changed her mind about straw cups all of a sudden and took right to them immediately. She was sucking on her finger covered in food and I thought, if she can suck on her finger she can suck on a straw, and that was that. So in the next few days I’ll be transitioning her off a sippy to a straw cup. And finally – she has just started to walk. Only about 7-8 steps so far, but she’s really perfectly able. She just doesn’t prefer to unless she has to at this point.

They are currently going through a food stage where they are up for trying ANYTHING. Thank goodness. Subsequently, I had to just bite the bullet a few weeks back and tell myself that if I wanted them to eat table foods, I had to give them…table foods. With whatever’s in it (for the most part). And because they’re open to trying things right now, we’ve had luck with all kinds of flavors, including soy/ginger, mildly spicy (like in tacos), etc. They’ve got no problem with flavors – textures would be the only issue. So if I’m not sure, if it’s the first time they’re eating a dinner, I might chop it fine and mix it with some quinoa, or puree it and smear it on a whole wheat wrap. But otherwise they eat what we eat – even chicken. So things are totally insane, hectic, and exhausting..but this is my life right now and I’m finding it really rewarding, even if the day to day makes me so sleepy.

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