HDYDI Parenting Link Up is Now Twinkly Tuesday!

We have absolutely loved hosting our Monday How Do You Do It? Parenting Link Up. It’s time to grow!

As of next week (April 28, 2015), we’ll be combining with Twinkly Tuesday, the wonderfully vibrant link party hosted by Lisa of Mummascribbles and Caro from The Twinkle Diaries. Look for us every Tuesday!

How Do You Do It? and Twinkly Tuesday are joining forces for increased exposure for all linkers!

Twitter

Twinkly Tuesday is all over Twitter with the hashtag #twinklytuesday.
I’ll be tweeting @hdydi, and you can find Lisa @mummascribbles and Caro, @twinklediaries there too! Use the hashtag, and we’ll retweet!

Pinterest

We’ll continue to keep our HDYDI Parenting Link Up Pinterest board fresh, but consider following Twinkly Tuesday’s Pinterest board too.

Follow Mummascribbles’s board Twinkly Tuesday on Pinterest.

Facebook

As before, all 3 featured posts from the previous week’s link up will be shared on the HDYDI Facebook page.

Toddler Thursday: Outdoor Photography

I’ve posted before about photography sessions in general with young children here, but this one will be specifically about photography outdoors.

Since the twins have been born, it seems we’ve actually begun taking more professional photographs. We used to take one annual family portrait around Thanksgiving for our  Christmas cards, but it’s gotten to be too difficult for me alone to capture all the kids in the same frame, much less looking in the same direction. And having only the most rudimentary knowledge of photography, I don’t know enough about how to get the right look I want (or get the shot in time to catch the right moment, or to avoid the blur of kids running around, etc etc). Now we do another photo shoot sometime in the spring/summer too.

So it was about time for our semi-annual photography session, and I decided to finally try an outdoor session in natural light. Many friends much prefer this type of photography, and I love the natural light too, but I’ve always been too terrified of my three kids running loose out in an open space. The great thing about studio photos has always been the controlled environment: the contained area, the comfortable room temperature, the choice of backdrops and props.

However, an acquaintance does freelance photography, was charging an affordable price, and had some time available during my spring break. I went for it. It did not end up being the experience I had dreaded; in fact, it was quite nice. Below are some contributing factors:

Logistics are important.

We chose a location very familiar to the kids. We are members at a local arboretum because the kids love it so much; we go almost once a week. It’s only about 15 minutes away. We like to go let the kids stretch their legs, be with nature, and see some peacocks. Turns out all the giant trees and gardens also makes for a great backdrop for photographs!

We made sure to chose a good time for them too, steering clear of their nap. Mornings usually work well for us, so after breakfast and getting ready, we got there at 9am. It was an hour session, so we were done and home well before naps at 11. The hour was nice too, because it gave the kids time to warm up to the photographer and get comfortable with the situation. (This is usually missing in studio shoots that I’ve taken. Those are more in the 30 minute range.)

Spring 2015 (8 of 28)

Preparation is also crucial.

I planned their coordinating outfits weeks in advance. Matching three children is not an easy task, and I always work hard not to spend too much money or pick pieces that could only be worn once. I made the skirts and hair clips this time too, so that required getting the proper materials and time learning on my sewing machine. I also had the kids try everything on and make adjustments to ensure all the outfits work together and everything fit.

I was prepared with snacks and juice for the kids. We usually do snacks around 10:30, but I thought I’d bring stuff just in case they needed a break from the camera. They did, and it worked. We bounced back from our 5 minutes of crackers and captured some more great images afterward.

Spring 2015 (66 of 124)

Luckily, some things just worked out for us.

We had some great cooperative weather. It was a slightly cloudy, brisk morning. Most of our photos were taken in some really beautiful, soft ambient light. The kids were not hot and sweaty running around. Towards the end of the session, the sun was just breaking through.

I gave the kids freedom to go where they wanted. I didn’t want to force them to be unnatural, but I was also worried that without my husband we’d have trouble keeping the kids together. It wasn’t a problem though, because we were able to focus their attention on things along the way. There were some sculptures that they played with, some fountains they all looked at together, and benches that were able to hold their attention for a bit. It took a little coaxing at times, but they did not scatter in three different directions as I feared.

Spring 2015 (43 of 124)

I learned to step back and let the photographer do his thing. He had a very laid back quality about him, never forced any poses on the kids, let them go where they wanted, and was very patient. I did not intervene except to fluff the skirts when they got ruffled and reposition a cap when it got out of place. As a result, no one was stressed (I am usually extremely stressed during photography sessions), and everyone was pretty relaxed and happy.

Spring 2015 (23 of 28)

 

lunchldyd is mom to 2.5yo b/g twins and their almost-5yo sister. She loves taking and looking through photographs of her kids.

Wouldn’t Do Without Wednesday: Our “OK to Wake” Clock

I originally wrote this when my twin girls were three, as a review on our local MoMs’ group blog.  My girls are now six, and my love for this little gadget is still as strong as ever.

***

Since our girls started sleeping through the night, until they were about 18 months old, I could usually count on them waking up around 6:45 in the morning.  And then, when they dropped to one nap during the day, they began sleeping until about 7:30.  Those were the days!

When we began potty training, around 27 months, though, we experienced a drastic change in the girls’ morning routines.  I appreciated that they woke to use the potty…but there were some painfully early starts to our days for quite some time.

I then discovered a wonderful gadget that has made a huge difference in our morning routines, the “OK to Wake!” clock.  [There are several iterations of these in clocks and stuffed toys…just search “OK to wake”.]

OK to Wake

I set the clock to 6:30, at which time it glows green.  (As much as I’d like them to sleep until 9am on the weekends, I wanted to set a “realistic” goal.)  I tell the girls, if you wake up and the clock isn’t green, you can roll over and go back to sleep.

There are times when I hear them stirring shortly after 6:00, but they don’t usually call for me until 6:30…on the dot…and then I hear, Mommy!  The clock is green!  I slept well!

There are times that they wake up early, sometimes needing to sit on the potty.  After they use the bathroom, it’s been great to have an “impartial party” — the clock — to cite.  “The clock isn’t green.  It’s still sleep time,” I’ll tell the girls.  They almost always accept that they need to go back to bed.

I was worried that the clock would somehow wake them up in the mornings.  Its glow isn’t so bright that it disturbs them, though, and a handful of times they’ve slept an extra 15 or 20 minutes.  The green glow lasts for 30 minutes, so they still get to call out to me when they wake up (which they get a big kick out of).

I would love to one day get back to our blessed 7:30 rise and shine…but for now, I’m so thankful to at least have a consistent wake-up time.

***

(This is not a sponsored post.  I am in no way affiliated with the companies that make or sell these awesome gadgets.  It’s just been a lifesaver to us…for close to four years now!…and I wanted to share.)

MandyE is mom to six-year old fraternal twin girls.  She blogs about their adventures, and her journey through motherhood, at Twin Trials and Triumphs.

When that Second Set Arrives: How Hard Can It Be?

Hi. I’m Michelle and I have two sets of twins. Nineteen months apart.

Here is a quick visual of what that looked like:

Twins times two. Tips from a mom who has survived the first years and flourished!

And I think this picture was taken by my parents as they were getting ready to fly home after helping me for a couple of weeks. I’m not sure… but I think I’m crying in this picture.

And, even though my memory is really really sketchy about this time and the two years that followed, I think I can muster up some advice for those moms who are expecting their second set of twins.

Get Help. No, not like help in the head although there are going to be times that you feel like you need it. Hire as much help as you can afford for as many days a week you can afford. Hire babysitting help. Hire someone to clean your house. Find that 6th grader who loves babies who would be willing to hold/feed/play with any of your children. Piece together what you can. And, don’t be afraid of letting the person go who isn’t helping. You need another you! Find that person.

Twins times two. Advice from a mom who has been there!

Get Out. No, not like run away and never come back. More like, get out of the house without babies at least one day a week… you need a break. It is not a sign of weakness or that you don’t love your kids. But you first need to love on yourself a little bit. You are a better mother if you can walk away from being a mother… even if it is for a little while. Listen to yourself and what you need and put those needs first.

Twins time two. Michelle now has flourishing preteens and tells us how she did it!

Photograph the heck out of all of it. First, because you won’t remember any of it. Second, because having two sets of toddlers won’t last even though you feel like this is the worst hell imaginable (e.g.. every outing where one of them said, “I have to poop!” and EVERYONE had to go into the bathroom together). Make sure you get as many “ugly” photos as you do with everyone matching and smiling. Actually, get mostly ugly photos and videos of tantrums and messy house and potty training and the food everywhere and the two or more crying at the same time. You will look back… believe me you will… and want to go back again to hug and love on those babies and to help out that poor mama who is doing the best she can and still feeling like it isn’t even 1% enough.Twins times two. Thoughts from a mom who's been there.

On your best days you will be doing a good job if you are only meeting basic needs: food, changing, loving, and maybe reading a story or two. Forget the glitter painting and stamping and crafty crap that you always imagined you’d do with your kids. DON’T look at Pinterest and see what you could be doing… yeah, if you had one child. Your child is not missing out and glitter is so everywhere.

Make friends with other Mothers-of-Multiples. These will be your sisters-in-arms. You will need them like you need a nightly glass of wine. They are the ones who during an outing won’t bat an eye when YOU have to go to the bathroom and you ask one of them to keep an eye on your kids. They will empathize, sympathize and encourage you… and agree that no one understands.

Twins times two. You can do this.

Find a good parenting class. Mostly you’ll learn that you are doing it right… and you’ll learn not to worry about the small stuff. You’ll learn to let your child fall and not rush over. You’ll learn that listening is the best communication tool that you’ll ever cultivate. You’ll learn that other parents are going through EXACTLY THE SAME STUFF at the SAME TIME. This is called child development. Make friends with the stages… they are necessary for healthy growth. And, sometimes these classes also have FREE CHILDCARE!

Say this Mantra: THIS WON’T LAST. THIS WON’T LAST. Because it won’t and you don’t get a do-over. The potty training, the tantrums, the middle of the night wake-ups. These all go away… as do your babies.  So let toys be everywhere and in every room. Let them ride mini big wheels in the house on a rainy day (heck, on a sunny day so you can get dinner made!). You will remember these crazy times as being your favorite times. You are striving for happy… and peaceful… and loved. Mostly loved.

I remember an older mother of four teens saying that she’d go back to the infant and toddler time in a heartbeat. At the time I thought, I will NEVER wish for that! And, you know what, I’d go back in a nanosecond. You will too. Just wait. You’ll want to go back in time and tell that mama that she is doing a GREAT job… and you might even stay to do a load of laundry… or six.

twins times two and one more. Michelle has managed, and so will you.

Finally, as my husband reads this over my shoulder, he says longingly, “It goes by so fast!” It won’t seem like it at the time, but it does. Do whatever you can to enjoy the time. Find help, get out, take lots of photos, have a mantra that helps you stay sane, learn about child development so you know why some of the most difficult states (in stereo with twins) are the most necessary!

Michelle blogs at www.twinstimestwo.com where she tries to piece together those lost early memories from mothering two sets of twins and where she tries to record the daily joy and chaos of being a mother of multiples.

HDYDI Link Up Party #51

Skip to this week’s links | Skip to featured posts | Skip to linkup rulesParenting Link Up Party


Last week’s featured posts:

Thanks to all who linked up. We’re looking forward to new posts from all of you this week and welcoming new linkers!

Last week‘s most clicked post was from Ashleigh at Simply Wright. She wrote about a very sticky situation with her daughter’s party and having to uninvite a little girl who was extremely cruel. There was no right answer. What would you have done?

What would you do if your child didn't want an unpleasant classmate at her birthday party?

Point any breastfeeding moms you know to Julie’s post on getting insurance to cover the expenses of a breast pump. She blog at Velvet Rose. My personal recommendation is Medela. Julie even found a program to remind her to order replacement parts.

Julie's done the legwork on ordering your breast pump through insurance.

I liked Mosswood Connections‘ piece on soothing the anxious child. I’ve tried some of their recommendations and found them to be very effective, particularly creating a worry meter to help your child verbalize their feelings.

Ideas for helping your anxious child.

If you were featured above 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:

  1. Follow and connect with HDYDI on the social media platforms that you use. Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Google+ | Blog Lovin
  2. Follow the How do you do it? Parenting Link Up Board on Pinterest where we pin every link shared!
  3. 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, since that’s what will show up in the link up.
  4. Check out at least 3 other links! This is a party, so mingle!
  5. Leave an awesome comment for those you visit and tell them you found them at the HDYDI link party! And pin them/share the posts that you really like.
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Foodie Friday: Lunch Bag Hygiene

With rare exception, I pack my daughters’ school lunches. We usually use soft insulated lunch bags and all food inside it is either in a container or wrapped in cling wrap. Still, I worry about how germy the inside of the bag might get. I don’t imagine that my 8-year-olds are particularly cognizant of cross-contamination. I’m certain that they’ve picked at the meat in a sandwich and touched the inside of their lunch bags without thinking about it.

Lunch bag hygiene

I wash the bags as often as I do laundry, usually about every other day. On days that they don’t get a full wash, I still wipe all surfaces of the bag thoroughly with a disinfecting wipe, let it sit for 10 minutes, and then go back over it with a clean wet rag. I also have extra lunch bags for all of us to be sure that there are always enough clean ones available.

I’ve heard that a lot of people don’t wash their shopping bags because they simply don’t think about all the grime that builds up in there. Do folks treat their kids’ (and their own) lunch bags the same way?

Have you ever considered lunch bag hygiene?

Indoor Toddler Games for Rainy Days

It's so hard to keep toddlers occupied when they're cooped up! 10 great ideas for indoor fun. We have all been anxiously awaiting spring and taking every possible chance we get to go outside. That being said there are days, even in the warmer weather, where you can’t or don’t have the energy to tackle the great outdoors, particularly with two or more toddlers as your sidekicks. Here is a list of 10 indoor games and activities (most of which we’ve tried successfully) to enjoy with your toddlers:

  1. Under the table picnic We eat most of our meals at our kitchen table, but sometimes it’s fun to mix it up. Why not make lunch or dinner a little unusual by enjoying some traditional picnic fare (think finger foods) under the table?
  2. Drive-In Movie Park your toy cars in front of a family friendly movie.  Kids can sit in/on their toy cars for the “real” drive in experience.
  3. Take Play Dough to the next level and try making some Cloud Dough for everyone to play with.  I found this recipe for cloud dough online
  4. 1356Play Dress-up and host a tea party in all your favourite old Halloween costumes and silly hats.
  5. Get Cooking or Baking and make something delicious all together!  Toddlers can pour, measure, stir and taste as you go along.
  6. Host an Indoor Car Wash or Animal Hospital to mend and clean toys who have been well-loved This is something that I wrote about a while ago on my personal blog and my kids love this spring cleaning type activity.
  7. Build a fort together using pillows and blankets.
  8. Favourite story marathon.  Have everyone pick out two or three of their favourites and get reading.
  9. Explore a local green house  They are often free to visit (or with nominal donations) and the bright colours will get everyone in a better mood or spend the day planting your own window box.
  10. Get artistic and let them use some of your best art and most cherished craft supplies….even the sparkle stickers, it’ll be worth it!

What are your favourite indoor activities?

House Monkey Update – Donna

In this springtime update, entrepreneur Donna talks about the  constant give and take of raising a family, nurturing a marriage, and running a business.

This morning, it’s cold & raining outside. Clearly, it is still very chilly here in the northeast yet I’m sitting here (symbolically wearing my flip flops) thinking about Spring.

The most basic thing in nature is birth, and Spring is always filled with birth. This time around I don’t have a round belly full of babies, but rather a brain bursting at the seams with a vision and a desire to birth our House Monkey dream. Over the last two weeks, my nights have been filled with sketching out the House Monkey website. What should it look like? What information needs to be on the website now (while we are still developing House Monkey itself)?

The list of thoughts go on and on. I realized I needed to gear up and get that website up and running because our magnets (promised to our backers from KickStarter) have the URL address on it… yet the website isn’t up yet. Nightly STRESS!

My days have been spent bursting at the seams with a scientific-based technical project from our day job. Another “birthing” process, but for one of my favorite clients. The guy is smart and I respect him significantly. It has been a great experience: climbing challenging corporate-manufactured “hills” with him to customize this unique product Mike and I have developed together for his organization.

Every day that I work with this client, it helps me realize that people make all the difference in the world. I believe any experience can be viewed as good or bad. I read in a book not long ago that all experiences are like a train that rides on 2 tracks. The good parts of the experience are the right track and bad are on the left track.

Which track we look at from inside the train is up to us. I do believe in this concept but I’ve noticed over time that if I like and respect someone, it is easier to look at the right track all the time! I’m feeling blessed with our work projects right now, despite the stress. I know we worked hard over the last two years to be here, but I can’t help but feel that it is all a gift.

Currently, the work-life balance seems in check (and that does indeed vary from time to time) but 5pm until bedtime has been running smoothly the last two weeks (draining, but running smoothly).

If you read Mike’s last post, you also know we were forced to call a “family meeting” to address the “spring slide” (slide in grades, slide in chores etc.). Thank goodness it seems to have worked. Perhaps it’s why our last two weeks have been smoother! Maybe the kids had a “re-birth” of their own. Or want their iPads back.

The why doesn’t matter. What does matter is that Mike and I are very consciously sticking to our guns with this discipline. So not easy to do. Do you ever feel like you’re the one being punished when you have to discipline your kids? That’s how we feel. Sometimes it is so much easier to give in and let them watch TV.

On the last day of school before Spring Break, my eldest, who gets home an hour earlier than the others, is pitching in at the office. Before Spring re-birth comes Spring cleaning: make room for the new. He did his two weeks without the iPad and now I told him he’d earned back his electronics 2 days early with his efforts! Is that cheating? Am I not sticking to my guns? Or am I giving him the opportunity to make things right?

More importantly, how do handle 3 other little faces walking thru the door in a few minutes who haven’t had the same opportunity? Someone tell the basement that its floor may reappear in a couple of hours!!!! It just depends on how badly they want their stuff back!

So the work-family life balance is for the most part in check, but the work-life-marriage balance has definitely been rough lately.

Our work and family time constraints are draining our couple time. Folks make me laugh when they say, “You see him all day long”! Nothing could be further from the truth. Mike goes in the man cave basement office to work, while I am in my upstairs office. Sometimes we connect in passing in the kitchen when we go grab some grub, but we usually take lunch back to my office. (We’ve gotta stop doing that!) When we do see each other, it is scheduled meetings to discuss work content. Other employees are usually in attendance OR it’s to discuss the family or child “problem du jour”.

Mike already mentioned our trip planned for our 15 year anniversary. It cracks me up how casually he mentions it.

The last time we went away alone was our 10 year anniversary. My parents took the kids (the twins were only 2 at the time) and we went to Bermuda. What Mike seems to forget is how I panicked. It took a lawyer and new wills just to convince me to leave my babies. Who gets the kids was such a deep question I didn’t want to think about.

Then there was the plane ride. Know that even though I fly all the time for work, I hate it! Many years ago, I stood on 7th avenue in NYC and watched a plane crash into a building and it still bugs me. Add on 4 little kids that mean more than the world to me AND add on both of their parents on the same flight! It was awful for me. You know it’s bad when the flight attendant offers to buy you a drink! But we got there and spent 4 glorious days in the sun.

I remember thinking (very guiltily) I could use one more day. The plane ride home was easier – and those 4 days bought me at least a year of sane parenting and a renewed connection to my husband! So yes, I agreed to a 15 year anniversary trip for my parenting sanity and for the ability to reconnect with Mike. But that doesn’t mean I am not already feeling guilty about a trip that is months away.

How do you make time to connect with your spouse?

1, 2, Buckle my Car Seats for Me Please!

Hello to the HDYDI community! I’m Amy, and I am happy to be here as a new author/contributor. I have been managing my two sets of multiples for almost 7 years now, but I admit that being in the mix with all of you is so intimidating! Thanks for all of this great support!

Ryan and I have been married for almost 12 years, and it took almost 6 of those years to get our kiddos here. We did 3 rounds of IVF before we got our first set. After 3 years, we made the (mostly financial) decision to try Clomid for one more. I was in complete denial that I was pregnant because I just couldn’t believe that would ever work for us. Then when I saw the ultrasound and saw those 2 sacs again… well you can imagine my total shock!

Amy, Ryan and their TWO sets of twins.

My oldest b/g twins are 6 and in first grade. Compared to my now 2-year-old girls, they were a breeze!

I wrangled each of the girls into their carseat buckles this morning. It took two laps around the car, an elbow to each gut and lots of tears and screaming. No amount of “Now where do we sit when we get in the car?” and “No, that’s your sister’s seat” accomplished anything. They usually make a beeline to the back and drain the car battery by flipping on all the lights. Sigh. I left for the gym, late, defeated and feeling like I should know how to discipline them better! After all, I’ve already done this!

An hour and some endorphins later, I walked them out to the car and felt confident. I’ve got this. They are holding my hand. I have my keys on my trusty bracelet chain which is my biggest lifesaver! And I can be patient. Lo and behold, I got one to climb up and in with no problems! Small miracle, but I’ll take it. How do I do it? By knowing that I can!

I’m excited to share more multiples adventures with you. And believe me, if I can do it, then so can you!

Twinfant Tuesday: Transition to Toddlerhood

I was not a person who had a lot of experience with babies before having my own. I actually am fairly certain that the first diaper I ever changed was one of my own babies’ in the hospital. I didn’t know the distinction between newborns and infants, googled the difference between infants and toddlers, and I’m sure someday I’ll be confused by what makes a “tween.”

Our twins are now nearly 21 months old and we still refer to them as “the babies.” A quick Wikipedia search tells me that a child becomes a toddler when they’re between the ages of one and three. Our experience of crossing over into Toddlerville has been a sensory one. Let’s focus on three of those senses today.

Katie takes us from infancy to toddlerhood through the senses.

Sound

I’d love for someone to keep tabs on how many times in one week my husband or I say, “I can’t hear you.” This is stated while one or the other is talking and is inevitably interrupted by one of our kids shouting, grunting or whining to communicate what it is they want. They do have a few words in their arsenal (I use the collective “their,” because they seem to say words for the first time at the same time!) but they seem to first try shouting at us or each other.

Ironically, one of the things we made a point of, pre-children, was making the effort in our house to walk to where the other person was to talk, rather than shouting room to room when we were going about our business in our house. It’s like our kids knew this courtesy that we had for each other, and squashed it in those cute, chubby hands on purpose. Their caveman communication seemed to evolve over time, but in retrospect, is markedly different than the distinctly infant coos.

Sight

Sight can be broken down into two categories. First, what our kids can now observe. Back in those hazy infant days, I could eat a rice krispie treat while my kids ate dinner, with them none the wiser. Nowadays, if they see me do that, the aforementioned shouting/whining begins until each has a rice krispie treat in hand. (My husband makes the BEST treats, and they’re around regularly!) Hence, we’ve noticed modeling appropriate behavior (like, not eating dessert first??) has become more important.

Secondly, what I see in my kids’ behavior. One example coming to mind: getting the bath ready, changing poopy diaper of boy toddler, while I watch my daughter take my kindle, run into the bathroom, and chuck it into the filling bathtub. I could give countless examples of seeing the mischief these two are already getting into. But, it’s also seeing their faces light up as they discover new things, like the birds using the birdhouse on our porch, now that spring is finally returning.

And TOUCH

I looked at a photo the other day from the infant days and noticed I had big picture frames on a low shelf in our house. Doesn’t that sound luxuriously decorative? These toddlers want to touch everything! In fact, I would say that the times I feel most frantic as a mom of twin toddlers is when they’re both into EVERYTHING at the same time-one might be emptying out the contents of the nightstand next to our bed, while the other is pulling toilet paper off the roll. One time I was attempting to put laundry away in the same room as them and my son ran into the room and jumped in front of me, with a tampon in one hand and scissors in the other, so proud of his discoveries. Mind you, drawers that contain these things have child locks on them, which brings us back to sight, and them watching how to undo the locks.

Not quite as simple as Wikipedia’s definition, but a bit more fun to reflect on.

Katie is a working mother of 20-month-old b/g twins, eating too many rice krispie treats and loving introducing them to her kids, even when that bites her in the bum.