Guest Post and Book Giveaway: Elise Bruderly

Today, we have a special treat for you: a guest post and book giveaway from twin mom and author Elise Bruderly. If you’d like to win a copy of her book, be sure to enter the giveaway below! Now, hear her story in her own words. – Sadia

Win a copy of Elise Bruderly's book Parenting Twins: The Handbook for Containing Chaos and Preserving Memories in the First Year

 

In May of 2005, I found out I was expecting twins.

As I “recovered” from the shock of this news, I said, “Someday I’m going to write a book about this!” And that day has come. Parenting Twins: The Handbook for Containing Chaos and Preserving Memories in the First Year is the handbook I wish I had, to guide me through the ups and downs and twists and turns of that first year as a parent of twins. The book weaves together actual stories and journal entries from that first year, with practical parenting advice and ideas, as well as a focus on the emotional journey, and growth, required. I hope that this book serves as both an inspiration and a source of reassurance for expectant parents and parents in the midst of that first year.

Please enjoy this excerpt from the book.

from Chapter 6: How Parenting Twins is Different

How to be a Parent of Twins

When you think about how to parent twins and how to be a parent of twins you really must consider two areas of growth.  First is the actual, physical “doing” of life.  These are the “how to clone yourself” questions, like, how to get two babies a bath when you are home alone, how to pick up two crying babies, what to do when the phone rings and your arms are full.  You can learn how to do all of these things- either with advice from other parents of multiples, from books, or by trial and error.  Never be afraid to try a new idea, and never stop trying new ideas.  As your babies grow and develop things will change, sometimes by the hour.  What did not work yesterday might work today and what you wish would work today might very well work in a few days if you stick with it.  Becoming capable with the tasks of parenting twins is both liberating and confidence-building, two essential traits for your continued journey as a parent.  The sooner you make peace with yourself- giving yourself permission to try something new, and not feeling silly if the whole idea fails- the easier you will find the ongoing tasks of parenting twins.

The being a parent of twins is much harder to learn and much more abstract to describe.  I have often felt “out of step” with friends and others raising singleton children the same age as my babies.  Nothing ever felt quite the same to me as it appeared to be for my friends- the lack of sleep, the ability (or not) to get out of the house.  When a parent is already struggling to adapt to their new role, feeling alone in that role can be even more demoralizing.  I will never forget the first time I felt this difference square in the face.

My babies were born in the late summer and came home in the early fall.  It was a long, cold winter where we did not get out very much.  By the time they were around seven months old I was feeling more capable and a more pressing desire to “be normal.”  I started taking them to a baby playgroup that was held at the library.  There was fifteen minutes of songs and stories and then forty five minutes for the babies and parents to interact with toys and each other.  I saw, quite quickly, what two babies meant for me.  While others picked up their child and moved around the floor, checking out different toys and talking to others while swinging their baby in their arms, I sat on the floor with my babies- in one spot while reaching out to grab a toy here or there that made its way over to our area.  I was not mobile in the least, and, as such, I was not social.  It’s not that others were mean to me, it’s just that they were doing what they could do and did not realize my limitations.

We continued attending the playgroup, and talked to those who might be around us.  I watched others make coffee dates for afterwards and thought to myself that I wasn’t sure my “lunar lander” could even maneuver into or around the coffee shop.  I thought that perhaps I was too much work to be friends with, I couldn’t zip around with a little stroller, or walk around with one arm full of baby and the other with my hot drink.  I wished very much to feel less isolated and wondered if I was having fun.

How did I learn to be a parent of twins?  How did I learn to embrace the challenges and enjoy the moments?  It was a journey, to be sure.  It required building confidence in my parenting decisions both big and small.  It required perseverance- attending those playgroups where I felt alone, getting through failed trips to the store, talking myself through the hard days of nursing through growth spurts, and functioning on a severe lack of sleep.  It required reaching-out, feeling awkward and uncomfortable at times, and making new friends who were parents of twins.  It required an ability to laugh at myself, knowing that there is just nothing that can be done when babies decide to explode through their diapers and spit-up all over at the same time.  It requires “digging deep” to find that better self that is there inside of you and accessible only when you want it and need it so badly.  I’ve often heard that things are given only to those who can handle them.  Personally, I believe that handling the challenges makes us that person.

When you are expecting twins, or are learning to be the parent of twins, what you must know and remember is this:  The road will never be quite as smooth as you might wish and you might never master juggling.  But if you remember to love your children and remember that you are doing the very best you can, you will find the energy and strength to get through the day.  Each day is the beginning of a new adventure and each adventure will provide a smile once you learn to recognize the moments.

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Elise Bruderly, MSW, LMSW, lives with her husband and boy/girl twins in Dexter, Michigan where she enjoys the ongoing adventure of parenting twins.  Parenting Twins: The Handbook for Containing Chaos and Preserving Memories in the First Year is available in paperback and on Kindle at Amazon.com.

A Little Bittersweet

My twins turned two years old two weeks ago. With the hustle and bustle of Halloween then Thanksgiving, I hadn’t realized until the other day when I turned their carseats to forward-facing that my babies are really growing up.

Years ago, right before Big Sis turned one, my husband came home one day to find me looking through her photographs and bawling. I couldn’t believe my baby was becoming a toddler. But now my days are so consumed with the constant exhaustion of 3 kids that I rarely have time to reminisce. And if I do get the chance to think about anything, it’s how nice it would be when they’re all older and we wouldn’t have to deal with tantrums or nap schedules anymore. How great would it be to have a family vacation somewhere far-ish?

But once in a while, like when the twins’ rear-facing carseats flanking Big Sis’s center forward-facing seat became just like hers, it dawns on me that we’ve passed yet another stage of their babyhood. Never again will I see those little faces looking at me through the mirrors hanging from the headrests. Never again will my babies happily throw their chubby little feet towards their sister to be tickled. Thinking about that is kind of worth bawling over.

That’s not to say, however, that forward-facing seats are bad. There is more space between the front seats and second row for the also-growing-bigger Big Sis to get to her seat without having to crouch and squeeze. There are fewer crevices in which crumbs and other nasty stuff can get trapped between the carseats and the car. I actually have access to the front seatback pockets without obstruction. The twins can (and sometimes do) climb into their seats by themselves. And they are really enjoying their increased visibility (how exciting it’s been to drive after dark and hear all 3 of them marvel at the Christmas lights passing by)! I’m glad we’ve graduated to forward-facing seats.

And yet… it’s bittersweet. Every milestone is a triumph tinged with sadness.

Parenting Linkup #40

First of all, I’d like to apologize for the unannounced hiatus of this linkup. As MandyE mentioned, I’ve been occupied by some personal challenges of late, but HDYDI‘s weekly Parenting Linkup is here to stay!

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. This is your 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, that is twins, triplets and higher order wombmates. 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 or not you have multiples. 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!

Ldskatelyn of What’s up Fagans? co-hosts this 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! We love reading your posts and enabling the connections that bloggers make through this linkup. We do apologize for the long break between the last linkup and this one.

The last link-up’s most clicked post was from Mandy at Worshipful Living. She talked about finding peace within herself first to be able to bring it into her home and family.

Letting peace and patience control your home and heart

Debbie’s post on what it’s really like to have a large family is a must-read. She blogs at Extreme Parenting. With 18 kids, many with special needs and 13 of whom are adopted, Debbie truly is an expert. This post deals with a number of the assumptions the average person has about parents of extremely large families.

Busting myths about large families

As holiday chaos descends upon us, Organized Chaos‘ Elizabeth’s post on setting up a command center is perfectly timed. Check out these ideas for staying on top of your schedule, housework, and menu-planning. Elizabeth is a teacher and single momma of twins, so she has to stay organized.

Simple frames and colourful paper render this serious household command center cheery and welcoming. 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:

  1. Follow and connect with HDYDI on the social media platforms that you use. Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Google+ | Blog Lovin
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  3. Follow the How do you do it? Parenting Link Up Board on Pinterest where we pin every link shared!
  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.
  5. Check out at least 3 other links! This is a party, so mingle!
  6. 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.
  7. Tweet: Add YOUR #parenting #advice to @hdydi's #linkup! Tell everyone #howdoyoudoit! http://ctt.ec/LRfWz+ #motherhood #momwisdomTweet about the link party, pin our link party badge, share it on Facebook, or otherwise promote this party! The more the party grows, the more exposure your posts will receive, the more fun you’ll have, and the more encouragement and ideas we’ll all receive!
  8. HDYDI Parenting Link Up PartyPut How Do You Do It?‘s Parenting Link Up badge on your site! Put it in your side bar, at the bottom of the post you shared, or on a party page!
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Make-It Monday: Involving Your Children in Holiday Giving

We try to keep holidays sweet and simple at our house, and I’m doing my best to impart the joy of giving of ourselves in my twin girls, who are now almost six.

I love to think of opportunities to involve the girls in the process of making handmade gifts, at least in some small way.  Approaching six years of age, there are lots of things the girls can do, especially when it comes to making holiday goodies with me in the kitchen.  I had to be much more creative when they were smaller…the idea of four little hands in the flour was not one I wanted to tackle with twin toddlers!

Today I’m sharing a some of the things we’ve done over the past few years, going back to when our girlies were approaching two.

Gift tags.  It’s become a tradition that our girls make gift tags to adorn the presents and goodies we give to our friends and families.  (I love that a few family members save the tags and use them as ornaments!)  The first year, I let the girls go to town with green finger paint on white card stock.

Xmas4I used a scallop punch to cut out 2″ ‘wreaths’, and I punched holes to show through to a red paper circle of berries.  I applied glue to the ‘wreaths’ and let the girls put the two pieces together.  Here’s the finished product:

Xmas3Another year I let the girls loose with a ‘present’ stamp, which they then colored.  (I had visions of checkered red and green packages…but they had other ideas, using almost every color in the crayon box.)

Xmas6And my favorite to date the girls did last year.  Xmas8At almost-five, they were able to complete these all by themselves, but these could be done with younger kiddos with some supervision.  We used washable brown ink to make thumb prints, and the tip of their index fingers in washable red ink made the nose.  The girls used markers to draw the eyes and antlers.  I love all the personality these little reindeer have!

Gift bags.  The girls had such fun making these bags when they were near-three.  I let them pick out button eyes, and I assembled the other pieces from card stock, felt, and sequins.  I applied glue to the pieces, and they put them in place.  XMas1

Cards.  I LOVE making cards  with the girls.  XMas2These were some of our earliest holiday creations.  At not-quite-two, I had the girls scribble with green crayons.  I cut out their scribbles in the shape of a tree, and I glued them to a blank card.  I let them decorate the tree with stickers, a favorite pastime at that age.

 

Charitable giving.  The last couple of years, the girls have had so much fun shopping for the food bank…it’s the one time of year I let them drive the miniature shopping carts at the grocery store, and they so look forward to it.  And of course we have to decorate bags to carry our goodies.

Tidings of Cheer.  The girls always go with me to deliver goodies to our neighbors.

Xmas9Since they were tiny, I’ve worked with them on a holiday message.  The first year they were able to participate, just shy of two years old, it was a simple, “Merry Christmas!”  We worked up to them singing, “We wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!” when they were almost three.  The last couple of years, they’ve sung an abridged version of Jingle Bells as we passed out our goodies.  (Reindeer antlers add to the fun!)

Holidays seem infinitely more fun with littles in tow, and I love involving my girlies in all the festivities.  It’s something pretty special to see the light in their eyes when they share their own creations with our friends and families.

How do you involve your kiddos in the holiday season?

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

Asserting Positive Discipline

Disciplining children is tricky, it’s a controversial topic with no one size fits all answers. As parents of multiples, or more than one child you quickly find out that what works for one child doesn’t necessarily work for the other(s).  For the past month it seems that Chris and I have been victims to Jack’s ongoing Karate Kid montage.  He has been hitting and kicking like crazy and despite our best efforts it hasn’t seemed to have let up on its own.  Our focus on Jack and speech therapy continues to help him better express his feelings, but that doesn’t provide much solace when you’ve been hit three times because you’ve insisted that, “No, you can’t have Halloween candy for breakfast today.”  After a recent Pre-School Speech and Language assessment the assessor commented, “I don’t know if he has delays, or if he’s just being stubborn.  This isn’t going to be a very accurate assessment.” This commentary highlights one of our main struggles with Jack as we question, “Is he struggling with language or just being a jerk.”  Truthfully the jerk genetics in my family are super dominant, ask anyone.

One of the items that stands tried and true when it comes to children is the importance of consistency. The big stumbling block that we hit (pun intended) is that Jack’s karate kid moments often happen when we don’t have the time to properly apply positive discipline – which is a problem for all parents, not just parents of multiples. When we are trying to get four people out the door at 7:30 in the morning, we simply don’t have time for lengthy solutions. I am fully aware that you don’t use a band-aid on a gaping wound, but sometimes I need ideas that can help us keep somewhat on schedule until we hit an incident where we have some time for teachable moments. Most of the time I don’t need 20 minute solutions, I need 10 two-minute ones. It took some digging but here’s what I’ve found.

timeoutTime-out at the park

How to Assert Positive Discipline in Two minutes or Less

Consider triggers and time of the day and avoid the trigger as much as you can – AKA Polly Wants a Cracker
This one is easy when it comes to a hungry child. My purse and our car has become a travelling buffet and about half the time we just need to get crackers into the mouth of Jack to calm him down. Bed time can be adjusted if you’re dealing with an over-tired child. The big Everest here is dealing with morning meltdowns.

Stop the Blow, But Don’t Retaliate
Basically block the hit, reinforce (as calmly as you can) that we don’t hit and walk away for a minute or two. In the mornings I generally use this time to get Molly ready because it gives Jack a chance to settle down a bit.

Model Good Behaviour
This one goes against every fibre of my being when I’m trying to get out the door and have just endured an upper cut to the jaw over insisting that my child wear socks. We noticed a while ago that Jack often goes for affection after he’s hit or kicked one of us and clearly he’s struggling with getting positive attention and communicating what he needs. Try saying “Hugs not hits”, give a hug and then walk away.

Redirection & Distraction
Basically avoid eye contact, remove them from the situation and let them calm down. Another option is to offer them something to distract them. “Look at this book while I go get you some apple juice, because you must be thirsty”. Leaving the room to focus on another task for a minute not only works on them, but it will help you chill out too.

Time-Outs
We usually don’t have time for them in the morning (or more than one or two), but they’re still an option. Dr. Sears suggests saying, “If you hit, you must sit.” Since toddlers (especially mine) are big fans of rhymes, this will help them remember.

Don’t Demand an Apology
This is another one that is tough for me. I want him to be sorry and I want an apology, but when you’re both frustrated all that this does is waste even more time. It’s suggested to delay this conversation, “Later you might tell your child, “That really hurts” or “That hurts my feelings. If I have done something to hurt your feelings, I would like to know about it so I can apologize. When you are ready, an apology would help me feel better.” suggests Dr. Jane Nelson.

Tag, You’re It

Sometimes when we really need to get moving it’s best to have the other person tag in – if/when you can. If they’re not “mad at daddy” they’re more likely to let him help them into their coat. This also gives the other caregiver a chance to calm down.

A Cool Drink of Water
When the tantrum is over, offer a drink of water or a face wash. If you’re still heated have one yourself. This will literally give your child a chance to cool down. (resist the urge to throw said water in their face and yell, “Snap out of it”)

Encourage Gentle Play
This is more modelling. If you notice little Billy is beating the crap out of Teddy Ruxpin, suggest he hug him or give him a kiss instead.

Counting Game
Count backwards from ten and remember this too shall pass, and likely be replaced by a different, equally annoying behaviour.

What works best for you to stop unwanted behaviour from your toddler or pre-schooler?

This post also appears on my personal blog Multiple Momstrosity.

I have been nominated for VoiceBoks Blog Influencer of the year. If you have a moment please visit and vote for me and if you’re feeling extra generous share this message:  http://voiceboks.com/multiple-momstrosity/ You can vote daily.

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

Quote

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.

image2

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.

image4

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.

image5

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.

image6

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}.

youcaring

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.