And the WINNERS are…

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Categories Book Reviews, Infants, Pregnancy1 Comment

Thank you to all who read, commented, liked, and shared our review of Twinspiration, the fabulous new edition by Cheryl Lage!

Twinspiration is a fantastic resource for expecting and new MoMs (and Double Daddies)!

[I can’t type that without saying, WHY didn’t someone put a copy of this book in my hands when I was pregnant with my twins???  I know without a doubt it would have calmed a lot of my fears, made me feel more in control…and made me feel a little less CrAzY a time or two!!!]

Now…without further ado…the WINNERS of the signed copies are…

Amy P.

Brenda H.

Ingrid S.

CONGRATULATIONS!!!  

Cheryl will be in touch with you directly to get your contact information.  And I hope you enjoy this book as much as I did!

And please continue to share the word about Twinspiration!  What a blessing it is for the multiples community!

~MandyE

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Thoughts on Prematurity, 10 Years Later

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Categories Prematurity1 Comment

Preemie. What image does that bring to mind?

To many people, the term “preemie” is meaningless. To some, “preemie” calls up a perfect tiny newborn.

To many people, a premature infant is just one who's a little on the small side. To others, prematurity becomes a lifelong designation.

When I hear it, the word “preemie” makes my stomach sink, just a little.

I know, viscerally and completely, that my 10-year-old daughters are smart, healthy, talented, and vibrant. Any obstacles that their premature birth once presented have been left far behind us. However, there’s a part of me that will always quiver at the reminder of how close we came to losing them. I can’t help but be humbled by the strength of their 4-lb bodies as they fought to breathe, digest, and eat when they should have been serenely safe in my womb.

Today, on Prematurity Awareness Day, I wear my special shirt.
Some people never meet their heroes. I gave birth to mine. #prematurityawareness

Read the stories of the HDYDI preemies from across the years.

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Twinspiration: Book Review and GIVEAWAY!

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Categories Book Reviews, Infants, Parenting, Parenting Twins, Pregnancy, Toddlers9 Comments

When I heard that my friend Cheryl was publishing a new edition of her book Twinspiration, I was giddy at the opportunity to review it.  See, Cheryl is not (yet!) my friend in real life, but she’s become an amazing virtual friend since my twin girls were born almost eight years ago.

She’s Been an Inspiration for Years

I started following Cheryl’s blog when my girls were infants.  At the time, Cheryl’s boy/girl twins were in early elementary school, and I looked up to Cheryl as a twin mama blogger. The mix of advice and antics she wrote about gave me hope that I, too, would get through the dual dirty diapers and not-enough-hands angst that was my life at that time.

My twin girls are long past the diaper phase, and I have come to reckon with not having enough hands.  Still, I so enjoyed reading Twinspiration. Years past the infant and toddler stages, I found myself nodding my head in agreement with Cheryl, alternately chuckling, “Ain’t that the truth!” and “I sure wish I’d known this ahead of time!” and finding myself misty-eyed, remembering some of the trying times and the fleeting stages.

What’s in the Book

I thought so many, many times, “Where was this book when I was expecting my girls???”  I had several books on pregnancy, and one specifically on multiples, but nothing quite seemed to hit the spot that this book does.

Twinspiration provides a wealth of knowledge on what to expect, specific to a twin pregnancy and twin infant- and toddler-hood.  It’s written from the perspective of a MoM who’s been there, of course, but it’s not just an account of Cheryl’s personal experiences.

Certainly Cheryl writes about her dynamic duo, which grounds the book in real-life experience and practical advice.  But it’s more than that.  Cheryl shares different perspectives, too, informing the reader that things don’t always play out by the book.

There are also tidbits interspersed throughout the book from a pediatrician’s perspective.  What I love is that the book doesn’t attempt to present The Singular Answer, but rather it offers a range of possible scenarios.  As a prospective/new parent, I feel like this book would have equipped me with the knowledge to ask the right questions specific to my particular situation.  And what a treasure that would have been!

Dad’s Eye View

And as an added bonus, there are snippets of insight from Cheryl’s husband, affectionately dubbed “The Double Daddy Perspective”.  I know my husband would have appreciated hearing the spouse’s take on some of the twinfant stages.  Even now, eight years later, I had to share some of Double Daddy’s accounts with my hubby…it made for a fun conversation for us both, remembering things from Hubby’s point of view.

In Short, I Loved It

Twinspiration.  It’s engaging…it’s captivating…it’s a plethora of knowledge and experience.  And best?  It’s such a warm read, like sitting down for a cup of coffee and hearing the tales from someone who has been there…really been there…and can smile a big, warm, welcoming smile as she tells her tale.

Get Your Signed Copy

At How Do You Do It, we rarely do giveaways.  But Cheryl is one of our own. She’s such an ardent supporter of the twin community, and she’s generously offered to give away THREE SIGNED COPIES of her new book to How Do You Do It readers!!!

Are you expecting twins (or more)?  Have a friend who would appreciate the support?  Want to add a copy to your MoMs’ group library?  Or just want to reminisce about those mommy milestones?  Enter to win a copy!

To enter, simply leave a comment or a question on this blog post.  (Cheryl would love to hear from you!)  For extra entries, visit Cheryl’s Facebook page, Twinfatuation, or visit How Do You Do It’s Facebook page! If you like what you see, follow us.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

This giveaway will run through November 16, 2016.  Please help us spread the word!

***

MandyE here.  Cheryl provided a copy of Twinspiration for me to read.  And I loved it.  The views I expressed here are my own.  I joyfully recommend Twinspiration to any of my MoM and soon-to-be MoM friends!

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The Better Solution to Labelling Your Twins’ Things [Inchbug Coupon]

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Categories Products, Wouldn't Do Without Wednesday2 Comments

The only item received in exchange for this review was the HDYDI16 discount code for all InchBug products.

Parents have to label everything. Jackets, shoes, bottles, sippy cups. Every item that could come unattached from a child must be labelled. For those of us with identical twins, even the children need to be labelled for the first few days of daycare or school.

It only took a couple of washes for me to realize just how impermanent permanent marker really is on plastic and glass.

Permanent marker

In addition to packing a diaper bag or backpack every day for daycare, I needed to relabel everything for my twin daughters. On the rare occasion that the permanent marker persisted, I was annoyed that the item couldn’t be switched between my children. I’m cantankerous like that.

Enter my friend Sara. A great friend listens to you complain while you bounce three babies on your combined hips. The best of friends goes home, does some research, and gives you an actual solution to your quandary as first birthday gifts for your daughters.

Sara with her baby and Sadia's twins.

Sara gave me packages of personalized InchBug orbit labels. You just put them on cups or bottles like a snug bracelet. They go on and off easily and can stay on in the dishwasher.

Inchbug orbit labels stretch and contract to stay on bottles and cups.

 

I now had 4 labels each with my daughters’ first names on them on high quality plastic that could stretch and contract to fit around any bottle, snack cup, or sippy cup I dared throw at it.

Sadia's twins used Inchbug's Orbit Labels to distinguish their bottles and cups for 10 years.

How do I know it’s high quality? Until we finally lost the last one with its water bottle a few weeks ago at Girl Scout camp, these babies gave us a full 10 years of faithful service, running through the dishwasher surely hundreds of times. A decade, people. Name two other things that your kid can use for 10 years. (Classic books are the first exception. That’s why I asked for two.)

A massive plus for us is the fact that every label comes with embossed print on the front and Braille on the back. We have a friend two doors down who happens to be blind. We’re very aware of how a seemingly small gesture like Brailling labels can open the world up to her.

Imagine my delight when Kayla at InchBug asked if I’d like to offer you all a 15% coupon of everything in the InchBug store. The coupon code is HDYDI16.

Use code HDYDI16 at inchbug.com for orbit labels, MyDrinky juicebox holders, and other goodies.Personally, I can only speak to the exceptional quality and usefulness of the Orbit labels. However, InchBug offers other products, including adhesive labels for clothes, books, backpacks, and the like. They also sell the snazzy looking and practical MyDrinky.

Inchbug MyDrinky makes juiceboxes and packs less messy in little hands.

MyDrinky is a solution to squeezed juice boxes. You know when you’re taking a long car ride, and you stick a straw in a juice box and hand it back to your kid, and you hear “Uh oh” and know that it’s going to be a really long day? Just me? MyDrinky lets your kid drink his drink without risky an inadverent squeeze that doubles your laundry load.

InchBug also sells sippy cups, water bottles, and other stuff, but their real strength, in my opinion, lies in these one-of-a-kind products that have stood the test of time. Again, our InchBug coupon code is HDYDI16, good through November 10. You won’t regret trying them out.

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Lumi Finds Her Light: Free for You Until November 10

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Categories Book Reviews, Books, Giveaway2 Comments

Ever been in a rut?

There are times in my life when I just go through the motions. In graduate school, although my area of study was deeply interesting, I didn’t feel the glow that came with doing what I was put on the earth to do. I was just doing; I wasn’t living.

I felt dim.

Today, I’m living. Working single motherhood in the suburbs, and all that entails, lights me up from my toes to the ends of the hair. Who could have ever guessed that was my purpose?

Don't apologize if motherhood is what lights you up... or if it isn't.

When I present a new idea to my daughters and their peers and see it click, I feel that glow. When I write to you here, reaching out to the multiple birth parent community, I feel that glow. When I catch a bug in the software I test before it can cause trouble for a customer, I feel that glow. I count myself among the lucky women who have found our light.

Last weekend, my daughters and I met Sandy Parker, author of Lumi Finds Her Light. She told me that her inspiration for the book was all the women who feel “a bit dim”, who may have given up on even seeking the thing that makes them light up. It was obvious that inspiring others to find their passions is what lights Sandy up.

She’s so passionate, in fact, that she’s offering the Lumi Finds Her Light app free (iTunes/Google Play). It’s free to everyone, everywhere through November 10. It’s essentially an electronic copy of this sweet book, complete with audible narration. Send a text to 22828 with the word LUMI. That’s all it takes. Get a copy for your kids. Tell your friends.

Get the Lumi Finds Her Light book app for free through November 15, 2016.

 

About the book

Lumi Finds Her Light: The Inspiring Story of Being YOU! is the sweet story of Lumi, a firefly who doesn’t yet glow. She has a supportive mother, but feels incomplete as she watches her peers find their lights. She hates being the last one to mature. Eventually, she finds what it is that makes her light up, just as we all hope for ourselves and our children. The pictures draw kids in, and parents connect to the subtext.

Meeting the author

Sandy’s blogger event at Genuine Joe Coffeehouse was intimate and sweet. There were four moms there, plus the author, and 3 of us had our kids with us for a total of one 2-year-old, two 7-year-olds, and two 10-year-olds. While the book itself was a little babyish for my 5th graders, they immediately caught on to the message and saw its value.

It took about 10 seconds for Sandy to realize that the idea of “mischief” was what made my Twin B light up. In fact, the author managed to drop that word into conversation multiple times just to see Twin B transform into light.

Author Sandy Parker reads her book Lumi Finds Her Light to kids in Austin TX

Sandy wants to start a movement, encouraging all people to seek their light.

I’ll admit that while they enjoyed meeting Sandy, my daughters were far more taken with the glow in the dark experiments hosted by Mad Science Austin. One of my girls left with a recipe for her own phosphorescence experiment. And how adorable are those lightning bug mason jar cookies Crumbs by Jules? They taste as good as they look, too.

 

Sandy was kind enough to give us an autographed copy of her book. I look forward to sharing it with kids–and moms–who could use a boost.

Get a free copy

Now, go and get your copy of Lumi Finds Her Light free.

Get the Lumi Finds Her Light book app for free through November 15, 2016.

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Mommy Vows: Back to School Edition

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Categories Household and Family Management, How Do The Moms Do It, Older Children, Parenting, School, School-Age, Time Management6 Comments

My twin girls are starting second grade this week.  On the eve of the beginning of their third school year, I realized I was giving myself a bit of a pep talk.  Having two years of school under my belt, I am going to TRY to learn from my hardships and do a few things to give myself an easier time of it.

DSC_0012
The first day of first grade!

1. I will carve out time over the weekend to do some food prep for the upcoming week.

While I would love to spend every ounce of the weekends hanging out with the girlies, it makes my life much simpler to put together some make-ahead recipes on Sunday.

2. I will invite the girls to help me in the kitchen when I do food prep.

I have done a pretty good job of this this summer, but it’s easy to get into “get it done” mode during the school year.  I’ll feel better about “taking away” time from the weekend for food prep if I can count it as quality time with the girls.

3. I will make lunches the night before.

I’m bad at this one.  I get so tired by the end of the day, I often wait until the morning to assemble lunches.  I’ll enjoy more of my mornings if I’m not rushing to peel cucumbers at 5:50am.

4. The girls will clean out their own backpacks each day.

We get busy in the afternoons, and I want to spend down-time with the girls as much as possible.  This often leaves the task of cleaning out the backpacks to me.  I already have an adorable in-box in place.  I’m going to try to break this habit!

5. The girls will load their backpacks for the following day (with the exception of their lunchboxes) before bedtime.

See #5.

6. I will have the girls in the car by 7:30am.

That’s actually a tiny bit more time than we need to get to school at 7:45, but that allows me to run back into the house for whatever it is I forgot that day.  (It’s seemingly inevitable, at least once a week…might as well plan for it.)

7. I will fix the coffee pot before I go to bed.

What a great treat it is to get up in the morning with just one button to press between me and that sweet elixir!

8. I will blog at least once a week.

I feel much better when I sit down, relax, and write.  It’s so easy to get out of the routine, but I feel much more like “me” when I stick to it.  I’m hopeful that I’ll have time in the mornings here and there…since I’m saving myself time on lunches and coffee prep, mornings are going to be a breeze, right???

So here’s my game plan…

A. Get Hubby’s buy-in…

…in the food department.  I don’t exactly need (or want!) his help in the kitchen most of the time, but he can help facilitate the Sunday afternoon schedule for me to do that.

…in the management of backpacks.  He’s home with the girls in the afternoon, and I’ll ask him to help reinforce our new outline.

B. Keep the girls on task with a fancy list…

…to remind them of their backpack chores each afternoon.

…to provide a checklist of their morning duties to give us the greatest chance of success for that 7:30 departure.

C. Cut myself some slack, when necessary…

…to allow for the occasional pizza night or PB&J two days in a row.  Even the best-laid plans don’t always pan out.  We will survive!

What am I missing on my list?  Any tips and tricks you Multiple Mamas can share that make your days run a little more smoothly???  

MandyE is mom to 7 1/2-year old fraternal twin girls.  She blogs about their adventures, and her journey through motherhood, at Twin Trials and Triumphs.

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Kids Who Can’t Play at the Playground… By Design

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Categories Special NeedsTags , 1 Comment

My girls and I have been going to local playgrounds since they were newborns. Wood chip ground cover was a nuisance when it came to getting around with my double stroller. I remember wondering how parents in wheelchairs managed.

I used to leave one twin at a time in the stroller while I held the other in my lap. We slid down the slide to the sounds of peals of baby laughter. As soon as they were walking at about 12 months old (10 months corrected), my daughters toddled out onto the wood chips. Twin B was a little suspicious of this stuff under her feet. Twin A dived into it with gusto.

These new walkers are all about the playground! Kids with special needs may not be able to even reach the equipment when wood chips are in the way.

My major frustration with the wood chips that lined nearly all the playgrounds near us was that my daughters liked to chew on them. Other children, though, find wood chips to be an impassable obstacle. It keeps them from being able to access the equipment at all.

Marissa‘s son A has a variety of special needs. He has already overcome every expectation doctors set for him. They didn’t think he’d survive. When he proved them wrong, they didn’t think he’d be mobile. Untiring parents, committed therapists, and A’s will of steel keep showing us that the sky is the limit. A uses a walker to get around.

A uses a walker to get around. Cement isn't an ideal playground surface, but it's more accessible than wood chip mulch.

When it comes to playgrounds, the edge of the wood chip ground cover marks the limits of where A can get around easily. Cement playgrounds aren’t ideal, but they are walker and wheelchair accessible. Wood chips catch on A’s walker, and he recently suffered injuries from a park fall.

A, who uses a walker to get around, was injured in a wood chip covered playground, which is not accessible.

Here in the Austin area, the Play for All Park in Rabb Park is an accessible playground that is designed with kids like A in mind. It has a swing for wheelchair-users and ramps onto the playscape, tactile surfaces for blind kids, and the ground is covered with a firm but yielding foam-like surface. There are a few areas with wood chips, but much of the playground equipment is accessible.

The Play for All Abilities park in Round Rock TX accommodates kids with and without special needs side by side.

Unfortunately, nothing like this is (yet) available where Marissa and A live.

Today, the Americans with Disabilities Act is 26 years old. If you can, please contact your local parks and recreation department and ask them to consider playground accessibility. Even paving part of a park would make it more accessible to kids like A. It’s a quick call for you, but a world of inclusion for A and children like him.

If you have any photos or videos of a friend or family member trying to navigate wood chips, please email them to Marissa at hdydiblog@gmail.com. She will be using them to advocate for accessible playgrounds in Utah.

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Explaining Being Black in America to Children

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Categories Diversity, Parenting, PerspectiveTags Leave a comment

Lester Davis’s 6-year-old twin boys and 4-year-old daughter had a fun opportunity: they could bring water guns to school. What’s better than a good soaking on a hot summer day? They were excited.

However, the Davis family is Black.

Lester had to have a very difficult conversation with his kids about how Black people are perceived, one he describes as a “right of passage” in many minority homes. He told them about the death of 14-year-old Tamir Rice, a child with toy who was perceived as a man with a gun. He eventually let the kids take the water guns, but these little ones are now a little more aware of how the world may some day perceive them.

This is parenting at its best.

On Parenting | Why this dad didn’t want his kids to play with water guns

A father struggles with whether to allow his three black children to take water guns to camp.

I’m not Black. While I am a minority, the worst stereotype I’ve had to deal with is “Indians are all good at math”.

I am good at math, so it doesn’t affect me personally. However, I am aware of Asian kids with dyslexia and other academic challenges whose access to services was delayed because of their teachers’ assumptions of their abilities based on their race. Even positive stereotypes can hurt.

As I was saying, I’m not Black, but my daughters and I have had the same conversation Lester had with his children. Changing attitudes, preventing the shooting of another Black 14-year-old with a toy, that falls on all of us, not just Black parents. Thank you, Lester, for giving us an example to follow.

You can find Lester’s wife, Tanika, blogging at Davis Family Chronicles.

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Should You Go to MommyCon? Yes!

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Categories Community, ProductsTags 1 Comment

What exactly is MommyCon?

MommyCon is an entirely unique event: part trade show, part kid gear market, part mommy meetup, part parenting course. I went in without expectations, and came away thinking, “I have to tell everyone about this!” MommyCon is ideal for expectant parents and those with little kids (infants and toddlers) seeking community and solutions. I found plenty to hold my interest for the full day even though my kids are older. If MommyCon has an event in your area, I strongly recommend that you go.

Expect a large exhibit hall where you can browse products, go shopping, and chat with product representatives. Nearby, find lectures and group discussions on all aspects of parenting and womanhood. I hear that the talk on sex while breastfeeding was a huge hit, although I didn’t attend. I enjoyed chatting with other MommyCon attendees, especially when they were breastfeeding their little ones or taking a snack break. While most of the folks I met were local, some had come to Austin from as far away as Dallas and the exhibitors were from all over the country.

MommyCon is a gathering of mothers, brands and parenting experts designed for babywearers on the lookout for high quality products and parenting insight.

I’d never even heard of MommyCon before Penny over at Foster2Forever mentioned that it was coming to Austin in a local bloggers’ Facebook group. I went ahead and entered Naturepedic’s ticket giveaway and didn’t think much more of it. Lucky me! I won the giveaway. And lucky you! Most of the goodies that I picked up will be coming to HDYDI readers in future giveaways.

If you’re near Washington, D.C., you may even be able to land a pair of free tickets of your own for the July 23, 2016 MommyCon event in town. Naturepedic is giving away tickets! MommyCon also comes to Texas, Florida, and California, with a total of 10 events a year.

Who should go to MommyCon?

MommyCon is definitely targeted at the babywearing, cloth diapering crowd. The products available to try or buy are generally for expectant mothers and those whose kids who are still in diapers. However, there is plenty to do and learn for those of us whose children are older.

The best thing about MommyCon, in my opinion, is how kid-friendly it is.

At @mommycon. So impressed by the @babyganics changing station.

A photo posted by Sadia (@hdydiblog) on

Unlike most other mom events I’ve attended, MommyCon actively accommodates children, providing toys and diapering supplies. Most importantly, every single person there welcomes children into every part of the event. We all understand full well that kids are going to cry, run around, interrupt, and push the occasional button. While the crowd was overwhelmingly female, there were plenty of babywearing dads and expectant fathers, tending to kids, joining in parenting discussions, and shopping.

MommyCon features awesome products and an involved, interested group of parents.

When my twins were infants, I had a baby carrier, but wouldn’t describe myself as a baby-wearer. I used the carrier only when both my babies demanded to be held and I needed a spare arm. I liked the idea of cloth diapers, but my children were in daycare for 11 hours a day. Disposable diapers were the only option, at least on weekdays. I felt completely at home despite being a working mom whose maternity leave ended when my babies were only 11 weeks old… a decade ago. Much as I had wanted to wear my babies back in 2006, I used my single baby Snugli carrier quite rarely.

What kind of products does MommyCon feature?

If it has to do with mom or baby, MommyCon probably has it. I chatted with a local Baby Sign teacher, checked out adorable clothes and toys, looked at all sorts of safety supplies, ate the most delicious yogurt in history, and even tried a better tasting infant iron supplement. MommyCon is a great opportunity for boutique shopping for yourself and baby.

Baby carriers

As far as I’m aware, baby carriers designed for twins weren’t even on the market back in my day. I finally got to try the TwinGo carrier I’ve been drooling over online in MommyCon , where the exhibits include a phenomenal wrap and carrier library where you can try on tens of different baby carriers to find the right one for you and your brood.

The TwinGo carrier lets you wear two babies at once, but can also be separated into two separate carriers, one for each parent.

The TwinGo is genius. It doesn’t just allow you to safely and comfortably wear both your babies at once. It also comes apart into to separate carriers so that you and your co-parent can each wear a baby. If you’re expecting twins, add it to your baby registry now. Really. I can wait.

In addition to the wide array of carriers available to try out in the babywearing area, a number of company representatives manned their own tables. Jess Mann at the Moby Wrap was particularly helpful. Although the company does not promote wearing two babies in a single wrap, Jess did acknowledge that many parents of multiples do so. I really appreciated her taking the time to lament with me the challenges of a top-heavy mother trying to wearing tiny babies.

The founder of Kanaluti carriers was also at MommyCon and made an excellent recommendation: check with your pediatrician before wearing your babies, especially if they’re fragile preemies like mine were. A number of other carrier companies were present, but I didn’t stop at all the booths. My 10-year-olds are a little beyond baby carriers these days.

Car seats

I’m kind of a car seat nerd, so I spent a lot of time chatting with the car seat folks. I stopped by the Britax booth and thanked them for the wonderful information about car seat safety I’d used to educate myself before my daughters were born. I swear to this day that the Britax Marathon gets all the credit for keeping my children entirely safe in the one accident we’ve been in. I was pleased to see that they’re now selling some narrower seats. Despite my loyalty to their brand, I had to switch away to fit three kids in the back seat of my sedan.

I was blown away by the Kiddy brand car seats, which are new to the US market. I’ve been frustrated by boosters sliding around on the seat. The Kiddy seats have a retractable LATCH attachment that allows the seat to push up flush against the back of the car’s seat. They’re also designed to absorb the impact of a crash so that the child’s hips feel less of it.

In addition to safety, Kiddy engineers have thoughtfully designed their seats accommodate children of different sizes. My own girls being in the 1st and 3rd percentiles for height and weight, I’m fully aware of what a challenge it can be when things are designed only with the average person in mind. The Kiddy car seat I looked at expands up, sideways and even forwards to fit longer legs. Some of their seats take kids up to 110 lbs; while I weighed only 2 lbs more than that when I got pregnant, I know that there are kids who because of age or maturity need to be in car seats at that size.

Kiddy is a new brand to the US car seat market. The seats adjust to children of different sizes. The seats even stretch forward to fit long legs.

I’ve been through the expense of car seat expiration before. I asked about their expiration period, and was pleasantly surprised to hear that the Kiddy seats can be good for 8 years. Or was it 7? I should have taken notes!

Strollers

I confess that I didn’t spend much time at all with the strollers. I was, however, deeply impressed by the SCOUT car attachment. This simple smart solution lets you attach bulky (and often filthy) jogging strollers to the back of your car. No more wrestling a jogging stroller into the trunk while your babies scream. No more having to buy a new car because the trunk isn’t big enough.

The SCOUT jogging stroller attachment lets you keep your jogging stroller on the outside of your car!

I had a lovely conversation with SCOUT’s inventor and his wife, and briefly even met one of their sons. This product is lightweight and simple, and it was clear to see how much love and thought had gone into designing a solution to make an outdoorsy family’s life a little easier.

And tons more

The goody bags that they hand out at MommyCon are, of themselves, worth the price of entry. Here’s most of the content of one:

  A photo posted by Sadia (@hdydiblog) on

I’ll tell you more about the eating supplies, cleaning products, body care products, jewelry, and accessories in future posts, since I’ll be giving away most of the stuff in the photo above to readers.

MommyCon Lectures and Discussions

At MommyCon Austin. I went to a great talk on preparing our daughters for their first period by the perfectly named Leah Love. Even though there were no other twin moms present, the entire room weighed in with thoughtful answers when I asked how to handle any awkwardness that might arise if one twin hits this milestone before her more competitive sister. I cried during the Q&A portion of Chasity Boatman‘s talk, where she covered both her experience of post-partum depression and her successful exclusively expressed breastmilk feeding relationship with her son. That talk alone was worth making the choice to go to MommyCon.

Let me just share with you the discussion schedule. These are top notch presentations. I understand that other locations will have some overlap in content, but quite a bit varies from city to city.

Considering whether to go to MommyCon? The talks are well worth it, even without the swag bag and industry experts.

So, yes, you should go to MommyCon

MommyCon is targeted at baby-wearing, cloth diapering moms and moms-to-be. It’s definitely most relevant to parents with little children, infants and toddlers. However, the event has plenty to offer to parents who follow all sorts of parenting philosophies. If you have the chance, go to this entirely unique event! (And then send me a note to let me know how you enjoyed yourself.)

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How to talk to kids about the Orlando shooting: 5 musts

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Categories Anger, Community, Fear, Grief, How Do The Moms Do It, Mental Health, Older Children, Parenting, Talking to KidsLeave a comment

I felt like I was falling. My immediate reaction to learning of Sunday morning’s Orlando tragedy was visceral. I felt my stomach and heart drop before my brain could catch up to put words to my feelings. Grief. Anger. Fear. Above all, confusion. How could someone be so evil? Why would anyone bring a gun to a place of joy?

I quickly confirmed that everyone I knew who had even the most remote possibility of being at the scene of the massacre was safe. They were. My entire focus then turned to my daughters. How was I going to talk to my kids about the Orlando shooting?

Like so many parents, I’ve wrestled over whether to talk to my children about the horrific murders committed by a single deranged man. My daughters are 10. They interact with other children during the day. If they were going to learn about the shooting, I wanted them to learn about it from me, in a way that was honest, age appropriate, and non-sensationalist. I thought long and hard about how I would talk to my kids about the Orlando shooting specifically and mass shooting in general.

The way our morning went Monday, I only got around to talking to one kid. When I picked the kids up from camp, she was the one to encourage me to talk to her sister about the Orlando tragedy.

“Something really bad happened yesterday,” I started.

“49 dead? 53 injured?” she interrupted.

It turns out that she had read about the tragedy in Orlando on the news ticker. There was sports programming playing on TVs at the day’s field trip destination.

I wished I had spoken to her before she’d read those details, but she didn’t seem too traumatized. I got the impression that my willingness to discuss the matter did a lot to counter the children’s fear of this act of terrorism. Their confusion mirrored mine.

My willingness to discuss #Orlando with my kids did a lot to calm their fear. Click To Tweet

My daughters are as goofy and energetic as 10-year-olds come, but they are unusually mature. They, like me, feel empowered by information. You know your children better than anyone. If they are at a stage where they still think that everything that happens is because of or about them, they may be too immature to handle the news. Protect them from the television, radio, newspapers, and unthinking adults. You need to decide for your family, for each individual child, how to talk to them about the Orlando tragedy.

I knew that my daughters needed to talk this horrific event through. I explained that a very wrong man went to a place that is specifically intended to be a safe place for gay people to meet and hang out.

“That’s a great idea,” my daughter interjected. “It’s nice that there’s a place where gay people can know that all the not gay people will be nice to them.”

Obviously, my kids were already familiar with the concept of homosexuality. I told them that boys could marry boys and girls girls when they were toddlers. They’ve since noticed a number of lesbian and gay couples among my friends and met kids with two moms.

“But,” my little girl continued, “that makes the bad man even worse. Because he picked a place that’s nice to be mean.”

She was right, I told her. There were five massive ideas at play in the Orlando shooting, as I saw it. She had already identified two: terrorism and homophobia. She brought up 9/11 and we talked about the parallels between the two events for a bit.

It was then easy to segue into the religion part of the discussion. I told my daughter that a lot of people associate terrorism with Islam. A lot of our Muslim friends and family feared hatred from people who painted all Muslims with a single terrorist brush. I confessed that a small part of my choice to keep my married name after divorce was to avoid a recognizably Muslim name.

“But mostly to match us?” she asked. Yes, I mostly kept my married name to match my kids.

“But Mom,” my daughter realized out loud, “Christian people do bad things sometimes, but I’m not a bad person and I’m Christian.”

She was spot on. “What does it mean to be Christian?” I prompted. “If someone hurts a bunch of people, is that following Jesus’ example?”

“No,” she realized, “and he wasn’t very good at being Muslim either.”

Whenever I can, I let my children draw their own conclusions. I learn far more from them than they do from me.

“That’s three things, mom. You said there were five.”

The other two things were mental health and gun ownership. We have depression in the family, so we’ve talked in the past about chemical imbalances in the brain. I told my daughter that there was probably something very very wrong with the shooter’s brain for hmm to even imagine what he had done, much less follow through.

Next, we briefly touched on gun rights. Her father is a soldier, so she’s familiar with responsible gun ownership. I told her that my personal belief is that guns should be treated like cars, with training, licensing, and insurance required.

It was a great conversation, although one I wish we didn’t have occasion for.

“I understand the five things,” my thoughtful child told me, “but I still didn’t understand.”

I told her the truth. I didn’t understand either. No one would ever understand. There was nothing sensible, logical, or comprehensible about what this man had done. The families who are smaller today will never understand why their loved ones will never come home. The big question – WHY? – would always be out there confusing us all.

My daughter accepted my answer. She was old enough to get that this story wasn’t going to wrap up neatly. She asked me to spend the night in her room, because she was sad. We snuggled up in shared sadness, confusion, and complete love and trust.

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