World Prematurity Day 2014

In honor of World Prematurity Day 2014, we invite you to check out our past posts. Even those MoMs who carried their babies full term sometimes deal with survivors’ guilt, knowing the odds. We’d love to hear your stories, whether or not prematurity touched your family directly.

We’ve pondered:

  • World Prematurity Day November 17How to navigate the NICU environment
  • The many emotions of prematurity and special needs
  • Dealing with the practicalities of special needs children
  • Honoring our experiences through reunions, volunteering, and fundraising
  • What expectant mothers should be aware of to try to prevent premature delivery
  • How our premature and special needs children have been doing

Overview Posts

Navigating the NICU

Personal Stories

Full Term Birth

Premature Birth and Life in the NICU

Life with Special Needs Children

Parental Emotions Toward Pregnancy and Preterm Birth

Nutrition and Feeding

Giving Back to the Preemie and Medical Communities

Things to Know

Toddler Thursday: More on Gardening

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Our garden has been in the ground for more than a month now, which gives me some fodder for a follow-up and more pretty pictures. Some of my original plants haven’t thrived as well as I’ve hoped, so we’ve made a few updates and generally expanded. As I’ve been working in the dirt and using trial and error to make progress, I’ve had some time to think of more tips that I might want to pass along to others who might like to try gardening with their toddlers or preschoolers. So here are a few.

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Start small. My recent gardening has been largely limited to a flowerbed that has existed since before we even bought our house seven years ago. It had become overgrown the past several years, so I’ve been slowly digging the saplings and weeds out of the bed and expanding my planting space. The goal is not to grow so quickly that I can’t maintain what I’ve done. And allowing my garden to expand as I clear the space gives me some motivation to keep up with the less interesting part of gardening.

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Give your kids a job. Last weekend, we went to the nursery and I assigned my kids to choose four plants each from the annuals table. It allowed them an opportunity to practice their counting and color-identifying skills, and they got to make choices about what we’d add to our garden. Then at home, they each had a trowel, and I had them dig holes for our new plants. Full disclosure: they lost interest long before everything was planted, but that gave me an opportunity to fix plant spacing and group things in ways that I found aesthetically appealing.

A wheelbarrow full of green shiny rocks.

 

Leave room for walking through your garden. Kids never use stepping stones. Ever. So leave them some room to step between plants. And as corollary: Don’t worry too much if things get squished. Most plants will bounce back.

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Use what you have on hand. I’ve got several animal-shaped planters and pieces of yard art. It made a lot of sense to bring them all over to the kids’ garden, where they could add a bit of whimsy.

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Happy Gardening!

Supporting Sadia and Her Girls

Things have been pretty quiet here at How Do You Do It? over the past few weeks.

Sadia has been at the helm of this blog collective for the past couple of years, where she wears many hats.  She juggles the many contributors to HDYDI, encouraging us to write, sparking our thought processes with new topics to explore.  She manages the comments and inquiries this blog receives, and she serves as the voice of the blog in many different forums.  She gives so selflessly to this community.

Sadia is an amazing writer herself.  She has written so many wonderful, honest, thought-provoking pieces.  I can speak for myself (and I imagine I am not alone in this sentiment) in saying that — over the past five years I’ve “known” Sadia — she’s helped shape the mother I am today.  I have deep respect for the incredibly thoughtful way she approaches parenting.  There have been many times I’ve faced a situation and thought to myself, “What would Sadia do here?”

Knowing what an amazing mother Sadia is, I was absolutely shocked to hear a few weeks ago that she is in an unexpected battle to maintain custody of her precious twin girls.

I’ve wished so many times over these few weeks that I was closer to Sadia, that I could somehow do something…anything…to help her through this situation.

I was so grateful to hear that RachelG has set up a fundraising site to help Sadia pay for her mounting legal bills {LINK HERE}.

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Not a day has gone by that I haven’t thought about Sadia.  Absent being able to give her a physical hug, I’m thankful to have a more concrete way to show my support.

We share this situation with you and ask that you please keep Sadia and her girls in your thoughts during this very difficult time.  And if you would like to support her financially, in any amount, she would be very grateful.

Halloween and Fall Traditions

Happy Halloween! Popping in to share one of my favorite Halloween Traditions: Our Annual Pumpkin Patch trip. My boys were born the first week in November, so they were nearly a year old their first Halloween. I went with another twin mom to an Apple Orchard/Pumpkin farm and snapped this picture of them in the field, which became one of my favorite photos ever. It is enlarged and hangs on my wall. Every year since then we have visited a pumpkin farm to snap a photo and watch them grow. Because it is so close to their birthday, these are great milestone photos too. 

This the the only tradition we have kept up for Halloween every year, we have been out of town for the past two years, so my boys are trick or treating tonight for the first time they might actually remember. (we have beeb before but they were 2.)

Go Team Wood Annual Pumpkin Photos

Age: Almost 1

 Go Team Wood Annual Pumpkin Photos

Age: Almost 5

Go Team Wood Annual Pumpkin Photos

Age: Almost 2

Go Team Wood Annual Pumpkin Photos

Age: Almost 3

Go Team Wood Annual Pumpkin Photos

Age: Almost 4

 

Jen lives near Chicago where she is the Mom of these rambunctious, adorable almost-5-year-old twins and a sometimes-blogger at HDYDI.com and her family blog Go Team Wood that is mostly Instagram photos if we’re being honest.

Make-It Monday: Pumpkins at Bath Time

Before I show you anything I first have to say that this was 100% not my own idea. I got it right here from a blog called Growing a Jeweled Rose. If you have never been there, you should go there. It has awesome activities to do with your children. I love it!

We have done this for a couple of years now and it continues to be a hit, so I thought it was worth spreading around. You just cut shapes out of black, green, and orange craft foam sheets. You can get these at Wal Mart, Target, or pretty much any craft store. Once they get wet they stick to the bath walls and each other.

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My kids also love it when I dye the bath water with food coloring for some extra Halloween fun.

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My toddler likes to make faces on the pumpkins. My 18-month-olds like sticking the pieces all over the tub, or just squishing them in the water. In fact, Jack and Ben were going through a very anti-bath phase until I busted these pumpkins back out and now I can’t keep them out.

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Here’s a whole collection ideas from Growing A Jeweled Rose for Halloween themed baths.

Enjoy!

Toddler Thursday: Gardening with Twins

Fall has finally arrived here in Central Texas, though you’d hardly know it by the hot, dry weather we’ve had lately.  Still, I can see the light at the end of the tunnel as we approach the middle of October. My twins turn three this month, and they are very interested in playing outside and being involved in everything I’m doing. It’s put me in the mindset of starting a garden with my kids this fall – a goal I’ve had since before I even had kids. (In the northern climes, most gardening happens in the spring, but here in Texas, where are summers are far more extreme than our winters, the best gardening happens in October and November.)

Gardening is a great activity to do with toddlers as they start to develop their gross motor skills. It allows them to get fresh air and some sunshine, it’s physical, and, with a bit of luck, they can watch their work blossom into fruition! (See what I did there?)

It’s a good idea to consider a plan for your garden before you break ground. First, it might be helpful to choose a theme that appeals to you and your kids. You could choose edible plants, like herbs and veggies, to encourage your kids to try new flavors and eat more plant-based foods. You could decide on a garden full of plants that attract beautiful butterflies or hummingbirds. You could choose all the purple plants you can lay your hands on.  In our case, the garden we’ve been working on is inspired by the sense of touch – plants with interesting textures, herbs that emit lovely smells when the leaves are rubbed, and generally anything that allows kids to get hands-on with the garden.

Globe Amaranth (Gomphrena globosa)

Globe Amaranth (Gomphrena globosa)

You’ll also need to think about the conditions of the area in which you’re planting. We’re working in an existing bed which happens to be located in a shady part of my yard. I’ve done some research to determine which plants with interesting textures would grow well in that environment in my region, and when I went shopping, I took a list with me. Herbs are great for a touch garden, but most herbs require lots of sun, so I had to adjust my list accordingly. Lamb’s ear (Stachys byzantia) is a great choice, and one that I have experience growing. It has thick, velvety leaves and spreads into an attractive ground cover. It even has a pretty purple bloom! I also chose Mexican feather grass (Stipa tenuissima), which blooms feather-soft in the fall,  globe amaranth (Gomphrena globosa), which has a bright papery bloom, and a few mint plants, which give off a lovely smell and flavor when touched. (Note: mint is inclined to go wild under favorable conditions. I planted mine in a pot which I submerged in the ground to reduce those tendencies.) Leave a little room open in the budget for getting new ideas once you get to the nursery, and consider a few inexpensive annuals to fill out your garden with colorful blooms. Your kids can help you pick out some plants that they find interesting, as well – however, you’ll want to be mindful not to buy anything overly toxic. This is often noted on the plant’s information tag.

Mexican feather grass (Nassella tenuissima)

Mexican feather grass (Nassella tenuissima)

Plants grow best in soil that has organic matter mixed in. The easiest way to achieve this is to dig your bed and mix the dirt with compost. Your children can help by using a scoop or a pot to pour compost onto the dirt as you turn it, or by using a trowel or small shovel to turn one corner of the bed. Once your dirt is prepared, you and your kids can dig holes for the new plants, pre-watering the holes, spreading the roots a bit as you pull them out of the pot, and depositing them in their new homes. Watering in the plants is also, not surprisingly, a very popular pastime in my garden.

fairy furniture

Fairies throw parties in our little garden every night after bedtime.

If you have some space and are interested in adding a visual element to your garden, you might consider adding a fairy garden. I found a local nursery that sells inexpensive fairy furniture, but you and your kids can make your own fairy decorations, as well. Consider painting a rock or a pinecone and leaving it as art for your garden’s faeries to enjoy! Place a marble in the ground as a gazing ball. If you have older kids, they might enjoy building and painting small wooden structures (like you might find at a craft store), or even making their own with twigs and bark. You’re limited only by your imagination!

Keep your plan a little flexible. Let your kids have as much control as is feasible over the placement of items in your new garden, even if it doesn’t match your mental image. With my three year olds, their attention span runs low before the work runs out, so I can do a little bit of editing to their work, but this is a shared space for us, and I want the final product to reflect that. Ultimately, if you’re gardening with kids, the final garden is secondary to the process of creating it.

Garden in progress.

Our work in progress.

Halloween Costumes for Multiples

Are you seeking inspiration for Halloween costume ideas? Check out our Pinterest board. If you’re already full of ideas, please share them with other parents in the comments!

Follow How Do You Do It? Blog’s board Halloween Costumes for Multiples on Pinterest.

If you’re all set on the costume front but want to check out holiday crafts and activities, we have a board for those too!

Follow How Do You Do It? Blog’s board Halloween Stuff – non-costume (HDYDI) on Pinterest.

Butterfly Morning

My little Robin, from her earliest days, has been a quiet poet. She would wake up before Hailey, as a baby, be happily lifted from her crib into my arms, and look out the window for a long while at the sun rising over the mountains. As she has grown, she has continued to show me that she is always watching, taking in her surroundings with a keen eye. I see what catches her attention; it is the beautiful things. A flower blowing in the breeze, a colourful earring dangling from someone’s ear, a canopy of trees overhead.

butterfly2I have been making more efforts to go on adventures with the girls one-on-one. This past weekend, I brought Robin out on a rainy morning for a donut at Timmie’s and a tour of the biology department’s greenhouse at Carleton U, which was hosting a tropical butterfly exhibit. It was free, not too busy when we arrived, and fulfilled its advertised promises of colourful butterflies landing all around us. I was so happy that I could bring my little Robin to such a beautiful, engaging activity.

Of all my girls, I knew she would like it the best, so we went just us two. She tried holding an orange quarter with a butterfly perched on top, but she quickly grew nervous and dropped it. She told me she preferred to look and not touch, so that’s what we did.

butterfly5We acted as though we were the only two there. I hoisted her up in my arms to get a better view, and together we watched colourful butterflies flutter and land all around us. I watched her delicate hand extend to point out a butterfly quietly eating flower nectar, and met her gaze when she looked at me with amazement. It was a moment I hope I never forget.

We didn’t talk a lot, and I knew she wouldn’t want to. It wasn’t a morning to quiz her, or encourage her to work on her speech. We observed, we found beauty, we shared looks of wonder. We turned our heads up to see the busy cloud of fluttering wings darting around the ceiling, captivated by the flashes of colour.

butterfly4A butterfly was passed onto my hands, so I squatted down to bring it close to her. She stepped back, hesitant in case is flew anywhere near her face, but stood close enough to see its antennae, its legs, its slowly opening and closing wings. For a moment, I saw the essence of childlike wonder erupt over her face, evidenced by her shy smile.

butterfly10It was only a morning, but without anyone else to detract from our moments together, I felt like I learned so much about my younger twin girl. My hope was that she would feel special, attended to, and worthy of my undivided attention. I think she did, as much as I can gather from her limited speech. What I know for sure is that I have a very deep soul in my Robin, and I am the lucky one for being chosen to mother her beautiful little spirit.

 

Sarah is the mother to four girls, two of whom are identical twins Hailey and Robin. They were born in the Yukon in a very small hospital at 35 weeks, and though they were small, they were mighty. She now lives in Ontario, where her high school sweetheart husband works very hard, and she stays home with the girls, freelance reporting on the side. In her past life, she was a journalist who covered everything from fast-paced federal politics to cats stuck in trees. Her writing has appeared in local newspapers and magazines, and in national publications like the Globe and Mail and ParentsCanada Magazine. She is a yogi, a mediocre cook, an awesome Beyonce dance move imitator, and an avid blogger at Cure for Boredom.

Parenting Link Up #39

Skip to this week’s links | Skip to featured posts | Skip to linkup rules

Parenting Link Up Party

Welcome to the How Do You Do It? parenting link up party. Here, you have an opportunity to share your posts with other parent bloggers and the followers of How Do You Do It? and What’s up Fagans?.

How do you do it? is a community of mothers of multiples. We believe in supporting each other, in sharing our experiences and questions, in lasting friendships, and in encouragement. The link up is open to all of our readers, whether you have multiples or not. Here, we invite you can share your wisdom, your favorite posts, and your insights with our online community here at HDYDI and What’s up Fagans?.

Each week, we pick some of our favorite posts and feature them the following week on our site! Plus, we pin them on Pinterest, tweet them on Twitter, and share them on Google+ and Facebook! Get some more exposure for your great content, and don’t forget to check out the featured posts from last week’s link up!

Plus, ldskatelyn of What’s up Fagans? is co-hosting our link party on her blog as well. One party on two blogs means double the exposure and community.

Each HDYDI parenting link up party accepts new links from Monday morning through Friday at noon.

So tell us: How do you handle conception, pregnancy, prematurity, birth, and postpartum recovery? How do you handle tantrums, diapering bills, stress, and potty training? How do you handle education and special needs? How do you balance the needs of several children with a marriage? How do you manage being a stay-at-home mom, a working mom, or a single parent? And how do you find time for yourself?

How do you do it?!


This week’s featured posts:

Thanks to everyone linking up every week! We love reading your posts and seeing the connections that bloggers make through this linkup

Last month’s most clicked post was from Lisa at Amateur Nester. She interviewed  Stork Parenting‘s Michelle and Chris Miller about their 4 year rollercoaster of unexplained infertility. Now I really want to read Michelle and Chris’s recent book, Where Have All the Storks Gone? A His and Hers Guide to Infertility.

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I loved Michelle’s post on teaching kids to pack their own lunches over on Sunshine and Hurricanes. One of Michelle’s brilliant ideas is to provide her kids with three snack jars. One contains sweet snacks, another salty, and a third granola bars and fruit. Each child is allowed to pack a snack from each of the jars daily. Seriously, brilliant!

Snack ideas

For the blogger moms out there, Crystal’s post on blogging time management on Tidbits of Experience is a must read! The comments are worth reading too, if you’re looking for ways to fit blogging into your life without taking away from living the life you blog about!

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If you were featured above make sure to grab our featured button and display it proudly on your blog!

How Do You Do It? Featured Post

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Rules for the How Do You Do It? Parenting Link Up Party:

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  4. Link up to 3 great parenting posts below! Please, no recipes posts! Of course, link directly to a post, not your main page. Also, under “name” put the title of your post.
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