Hers, His, Theirs

So, I’ve been thinking about Christmas presents.

I know.

But before you think I’m one of those organized, plan-ahead people, let me be clear that the only reason my mind started taking that jog was because a friend of mine, fully aware of my son’s obsession with Thomas The Train and his knockoff brand trains and accessories, sent me a link on Monday to a Thomas & Friends Wooden Railway Roadhouse on Kids.Woot! It was $35.00.

Sidebar: internet, if you don’t know about Kids.Woot! yet, consider yourselves now educated. Once a day, they list something for an insanely low price. And they sell ‘em till they’re gone, so you gotta move fast. Most of the time, those something’s are things that we don’t want or need or aren’t age-appropriate. But sometimes there’s a gem. Like that Railway Roadhouse.

Except that I had already bought one. A Deluxe one. Got suckered into it at a Thomas & Friend’s playdate at the local BRU. And even with a coupon, it was $87.00. I swear, that place is Stockholm Syndrome, but with inanimate objects.

Anywoot. At that price, I went ahead and bought it for my nephew for HIS Christmas present. Which brings me back to where I started: I’ve been thinking about Christmas presents.

All our focus on them being treated as independent individuals, but I can barely count on one hand those items that are exclusively one child’s or the other’s. Those things being as significant, but as unentertaining as their own rooms, his Raffy, and her woobie. Thomas and Gordon are his. Those little bobble-heady cats and dogs from grandma are most definitely hers. But beyond that? Theirs.

You know what? This isn’t even about Christmas gifts. Because as I write this, I’m realizing that we I think about the whole his, hers, theirs thing every time we introduce anything new into the toy or activity mix. And 99% of the time, it’s easier if it’s just theirs. Even when that 99% contributes to a good 50% of the tussles and meltdowns.

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We have the play kitchen and play food and two doll strollers and hand puppets and puzzles and duplos and flash cards and books and art supplies and dinosaurs and cars and trains and stuffed animals and watering cans and two tricycles and one shared barn for the farm animals and two pair of wings. At their birthday, they each opened a couple gifts, but ultimately those gifts ended up being both of theirs. For Christmas, their sibling gift will be a gender-neutral dollhouse, or something to that effect.

And yet, isn’t part of individuation having something you can call your own?

The boy loves trains, so that is his thing. The girl’s interest in the trains or train table extends only to the amount of anxiety she can produce in him after snatching Gordon’s tender or knocking over a bridge and then running away.

Quite by accident, (I was searching the Craigslist posts for a Thomas Halloween costume), we found the boy’s Christmas gift when a family decided to off their entire collection of Thomas stuff. When I saw the listing, I went to the internet to start pricing the retail value of the SIXTY-TWO items included in their post and I had reached their asking price by item number eight. NUMBER EIGHT. It was a gold mine, I tell you. And now we’re covered for Christmas, the next birthday, part of NEXT Christmas, and as many potty training incentives as we might need in between. Unless he decides he doesn’t like trains.

But the girl? I have NO IDEA.

I know, I know. They’re not even two-and-a-half. They won’t remember it. They’ll really have opinions of what they each like and don’t like as they get older, so enjoy this while it lasts. All that.

As of now? I’m just hoping we can come up with some ideas that can she can find in her stocking that will be hers alone.

Any ideas?

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Rachel is the author of the blog Motherhood.Squared where she tells tales of boy/girl twins and their two mommies.

A Pivotal Twenty Sixth Month

So I’ve been writing this series of posts (on my blog) about how we’ve been blurring the lines of our formerly iron-clad (at the demand of the twin’s, not us!) routine. Things like pushing back bedtime, and going to the zoo when they’d typically be going down for a nap, and taking a day trip to the beach, and staying out “way past” bedtime, and traveling during the time that the kids are usually long in bed.

All this in the last six weeks!

It’s like all of a sudden we can finally do things we haven’t been able to do and we actually have fun while doing it and we’re not always scared we won’t ever get to sleep ever never again, and we’re actually able to relax (a little bit) while the kids entertain themselves instead of living our public lives in a sweaty, running in opposite direction mess.

And it only took TWENTY SEVEN MONTHS!

Any breakthroughs, milestones, realizations for you this summer? Anything you long for? (I long for a margarita.)

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Rachel’s family is breaking new ground over at Motherhood.Squared .

My Child, The Starfish

So the twins are almost 27 months now and we’ve been in a phase of NoMommyIDoItMyself for several months now. That, we’ve got down. It’s the new-within-the-last six weeks Starfish Syndrome that is new for us.

Our most independent, most spirited twin has taken to wanting ME to do EVERYTHING when an adult is needed. Except that I work full-time. And well, having another child who wants me sometimes, too.

For ever and ever, my partner and I have alternated children for bedtime routine (they sleep in separate rooms). But now Clingy Clingerton wants me every.single.night. To the extent that Clingy will cry and scream as if being mauled. Culminating with vomit that requires sheet and pajama changes. Smart kid, eh?

My partner’s feelings are hurt.

Clingy’s twin says “it’s my turn now, Mommy”.

It used to be that we could read a book or two, say prayers, kiss Clingy on the forehead goodnight, and walk out. Now, it’s all “I lay by you, Mommy”, through tears if you so much as lift your head off the pillow. And don’t even think about leaving the bed before Clingerton is fast asleep. And so what, right? It’s maybe 10-20 minutes next to a miracle and it feels safe to the kiddo and I’m not in a rush to go cook dinner.

But still.

I’m told that it’s just a phase and to enjoy being “needed” because soon enough they’ll not want me at all. Maybe. But it sure makes getting anything else done difficult. And my other kid sure is missing Mommy time.

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Rachel re-invents the rearing-a-toddler wheel over at Motherhood.Squared .

Summer Snacking, Here We Come!

Well, we’ve had our requisite four days of spring here in South Texas and now the temperatures are in the 90s so out comes the water table in the back yard, the sunscreen, the mosquito spray (yep, we use DEET and our pediatrician said it was best because have you met the mosquitos in Houston??), and warm-weather snacks.

I recently bought some pop molds that I’ll use to make fresh fruit and yogurt popsicles, we do fruit smoothies year round, and I busted out a batch of homemade oatmeal raisin pecan cookies last week (and the two mom’s in the household are guilty of finishing them off), but the easiest shmeziest snack of all has been a combo of yogurt and fresh berries that I’ve been serving up with homemade granola.

Well, the granola was actually meant to be granola BARS, but I’ve yet to perfect the recipe, and they’re more crumbly than intended. But crumbly delicious works!

Homemade Granola

Here’s what we use:

  • Greek (Fage) Yogurt, 1/2c- higher in protein and tastes like ice cream, I am not even kidding!
  • Assorted Fresh Fruit – I’ve taken to a local farmers market and generally speaking, if the skins are to be eaten – like berries – I try to buy organic. If the skins will go to our neighbor’s compost, then regular (cheaper!) fruit we use (bananas, oranges, cantaloupe).
  • Homemade Granola, 2 Tbsp– I have not yet created the perfect on-the-go-doesn’t-crumble-at-the-grab-toddler-and-car-friendly granola (I’ve only made it once!), but I did some significant modifications to Ina Garten’s “Homemade Granola Bars” recipe which I am using as a base.
  • MMMMMMM, dee-lish! And just the kind of snack that the parents can enjoy alongside the kiddos, too!

    Okay, now your turn to dish on a favorite spring/summer snack!

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    Rachel is a work-out-of-the-home mom who is most recently managing the uncertainties in her life by taking control in the kitchen. She also writes about her family at Motherhood.Squared

    My Weapon Of Mass Distraction

    Clothes? Meh. Dining out. Okay. But gadgets? OMG how I love gadgets.

    I used to have a Blackberry for work. But my first one didn’t work anymore and so I got a second one. Mateo, our son, has always loved gadgets, too, so I gave that first one, six years old and beyond repair, to him. It was adorable to see him walk around the house saying “Hello.” And then some garbled language only he and his sister could understand.

    Buy Low, Sell High

    We have an iPod and a docking station that used to live in our bathroom to provide good music while getting ready for work. Now that iPod and docking station belongs to the kids and resides in the kitchen with various playlists of calming instrumental music, and nursery rhymes (blech), and jazz, and hip hop. And Christmas music. They ask for Jingle Bells at breakfast. The Johnny Mathis version.

    My family was quite impressed with my conscious restraint to wait a whole year after the iPhone came out before getting one. And I’ll just say right now: the iPhone has a few times been THE magic fairy dust to calm some pretty stormy toddlery seas, real or perceived. I have a few go-to Apps when the need arises, for example:

    Flickr – for those precarious times in the late afternoon when they’re tired but its not quite dinner time. We’ll look through photos (not surprisingly, one or both kids are in most pictures) and talk about the memory – the rodeo, Christmas, the Easter bunny, swimming. Since we live far from most family, we also flip through Flickr albums in the days leading up to a trip to see relatives so they’re not too stranger-dangery about them.

    Balloonimals – This little app has a Lite version that’s free and only has one balloon animal, but the paid version ($0.99, I think), has five or so animals that you inflate by blowing into the phone and then shaking it to twist the balloon until it’s a full-blown dinosaur/crab/kangaroo/fish. And then when you touch the animal, the animal moves in some way, or blows a bubble, or what have you. Our rock-star pediatrician introduced us to this one, when he pulled out his iPhone to use Balloonimals during an office visit, distracting the kid long enough to check their ears.

    iTunes – I downloaded three half hour episodes, one each of Sesame Street, Dora The Explorer, and Backyardigans (thanks for that suggestion way back when, LauraC) and they are available as needed. Like when we were trying to have brunch with some friends who were in town for a short time and it was a gorgeous morning and we were eating on the patio of the restaurant and the kids wanted down! down! down! and we had barely started our breakfast. Vámanos! Or like when we had to wait an hour for a sick visit on a Saturday morning and we had already run through our song singing, and coloring books, and snacks. Or like when we had to go to the urgent care clinic to seal the boy’s forehead closed – Mateo was so into helping Dora find the Puppy that he never even flinched. We did it!

    So far, those apps have sufficed for us in emergency situations. But I polled a group of parents of toddlers for their favorite apps, too. I’ve yet to check them out, but thought I’d share them here: Zoo Sounds, Hear Ewe, Farm Sounds, Animals Lite, Cat Sounds, iTots Flashcards, Numbers, Lunch Box, Tozzle, and Seuss ABC.

    How about you, if you ride the iPhone bandwagon, what are your favorite kid apps? And whether or not you have an iPhone, tell us about your techy gadget toddler-friendly love. That video player in the car? An iPod to tune everybody else out? A beloved sound machine so you can run the washing machine without waking up the kids? (I have all those, too.) Happy gadgets to you all!

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    Rachel is a work-out-of-the-home mom who justified the iPhone purchase because she couldn’t open work files on the Blackberry. She also writes about her family at Motherhood.Squared

    Good-Enough Traveling

    Some families, by necessity, started off right away traveling with their twins (and then some) – because family lives across the globe, or because work required it, or because they’re just plain crazy. As an example of the latter, a friend drove her three children – 26 month old twins and a 10 week old – to see family for the weekend. Six hours away. Solo.

    Us? We live 400 miles round trip by car to get to family. And because my entire family lives in that one city, we’re the ones that have to do the traveling – about six times a year. And every time we just don’t know what we’re going to get. Sure, I’ve got a spreadsheet packing list with formulas for how many diapers and outfits to take based on how long we’re gone. (This makes it easier for my partner and my nanny to participate in getting us ready to leave town. And yes, I know that is anal.)

    But I will be honest when I say that going out of town with the twins is pretty close to the bottom of favorite things to do. Why?

    They hate sitting in a car. Yes, all this fostering of independence from an early age we’ve promoted, all this learning to walk by us without leashes, has produced toddlers who cannot stand to be stuck in a carseat for three and a half hours. They also hate strollers.

    I’ve tried everything – making sure we have enough snacks, breaking down and buying dual monitor DVDs (it helps!), stickers, coloring books, books, toys, an iPod playlist with favorite music, and iPhone app for white noise, and knowing our one stop for a breath of fresh air and a diaper change. All those things work, but there is inevitable unhappiness, and omigod, the whining!

    We’ve tried leaving first thing in the morning, after breakfast. That didn’t really work because they hadn’t run off some of their energy and we’d end up arriving with overtired kids. We’ve tried leaving just before the morning nap (back when they were still taking two naps). That worked somewhat, but inevitably the boy wouldn’t need as much sleep and would start talking away and then wake up his still-sleepy sister, and then it would be hell. We’ve tried leaving in the late afternoon and that was flat out a disaster of tears. Now that they are down to one nap a day, we’ve tried leaving right after breakfast and also right before the nap. With mixed results. And just this last trip, we tried leaving long after the afternoon nap (so that they’d at least be rested), anticipating a pre-bedtime arrival, thinking the waning daylight would help calm them down. IT DIDN’T.

    We have not tried leaving at bedtime because I am just too risk-averse to jack with night time sleeping, and because my kids are not the kind of kids that stay asleep from carseat to bed. We have not tried driving in the middle of the night because neither drivers are night owls. And we have not tried getting up before dawn because, well, trust me, you do not mess with the girl’s sleep.

    For us, knowing that there is no great time to travel with our kids, we’ve concluded that after breakfast arriving before lunch, is the best of the worst window of opportunity. That gives us time for a snack in the car, some Dora, minimized whining, arrival at Grandma’s just before all hell breaks loose, lunch at Grandma’s, a romp outdoors while we set up their sleeping spaces, and then a nap around noon.

    I cannot even imagine when we’ll ever travel together “for fun” and it not be a family birthday or major holiday. Maybe when they’re six.

    How about you? What’s your best window of opportunity, and why?

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    Rachel blogs about life with twins and a two-mom household over at Motherhood.Squared .

    33 Months On…Still Not Off

    My twins turned 22 months yesterday. Which is also the number of pounds that I’m above my pre-pregnancy weight. And that was ten pounds above my pre-trying-to-conceive weight, thank you nine months of IUIs, a laparoscopic surgery, fertility drugs, and IVF. Do the math and that’s thirty two pounds I haven’t lost. What’s worse is that a month after I had the twins, I weighed twenty pounds less than I do now.

    tweet-fat mom

    Oh, how I wanted to be in the best shape of my life before I got pregnant. I only had ten pounds to lose, really, so I started Weight Watchers in February 2006. I ate better, more frequently, took the time to buy fresh vegetables and meat, measured them out, prepared the food accordingly. I would go to the gym on the way home from work, and I’d go run on the weekends. By May 2006 I had lost the ten pounds but was soooo much leaner, too. I felt great. And, looking back at pictures from my cousin Jai’s wedding that May, I looked pretty good, too (even though at the time I thought I should have been thinner). I have this picture with my sister, my mom, my partner, and my now-sister-in-law at the reception and I miss that person. And those clothes, collecting dust in my closet. I affectionately refer to my physical condition at that time as “Jai’s Wedding”.

    C-Sections are a bitch, but they’re not an excuse. I know plenty of mom’s of multiples that had c-sections and have flat bellies. And their kids are younger than mine. Sure, most of those moms are younger than me (I’m about to be 36), and thus more elastic. Not an excuse. Though I sure have used it!

    Here’s a low point in my warped logic for you: it’s easier for straight women to lose weight. WTF, right? Wait, wait, don’t send hate mail! I mean that as a compliment. You’ve got your man and you want to look good for your man (ok, yeah, and you). Not to mention, it seems for all women, it’s a badge of honor to have given birth, shrink down to pre-pregnancy weight, and a gold star for getting to a dress size smaller than pre-pregnancy. That seems to be a popular gloat on one of the parenting boards that I peruse.

    Here’s the thing though, women are generally more forgiving of one another. And so my partner hasn’t exactly motivated me to get my fat ass off the couch because she’s just so sweet and compassionate and loves me for who I am. It’s all her fault! (Kidding!)

    Oh, do trust that all the comparing to other women is not the underlying reason for all my self-loathing and insanity, but a byproduct of it.

    But you see what kind of madness I’ve had in my head justifying the fact that I can’t fit into 80% of the clothes in my closet?

    And the thing is, I can’t even really say that I’ve struggled with losing the weight, because in all honestly, I haven’t really tried. Where’s that DRIVE I had before TTC? I’ve searched for it, but I keep losing my grasp of it under the piles of laundry or the meals that need to be cooked/frozen, or getting bumped for another work meeting, or my commute, or underneath that hotwing sauce. (See? I really do accept responsibility.) I have to eat lunch out with my co-workers and hell if I’m paying more for a salad than for a burger SO I GET THE FRIGGIN BURGER. AND FRIES.; I have no time to exercise; I have twins.

    I have twin toddlers JUST LIKE HUNDREDS OF FIT MOMS OUT THERE who get it all done.

    So yeah, no excuse.

    I wish I could afford to buy the kinds of healthy foods I was buying back in 2006, carefully measuring out portions and calculating protein content. Sure, I could go to the gym on the way home from work to “take care of me”, but then I wouldn’t get to see my kids before bedtime. And as it is, I only see them 30 minutes each morning and each evening five days per week. So get up early! That’s a failure waiting to happen because I couldn’t sustain a 4:00 a.m. wakeup for long. Run in your neighborhood! Not well lit, urban, nuf said. Work out after the kids go down! But for cooking, cleaning, maintaining my relationship with my significant other, working, (okay, yeah, and blogging), and the fact that all that has to happen between 8:00pm and 11:00p.m. I have so many “excuses” and justifications that if I’d just get rid of them, that’d probably be ten pounds worth right there.

    Here’s the ugly truth: I do not take pictures with my kids because I hate the way I look. Therefore, I have very few pictures of me with the children that were borne of my womb. Forget the photo from Jai’s wedding. I just want to look good enough to have a picture with my kids that I’m not embarrassed that it exists. That’s right, folks. My twins are nearly two and I have less than ten pictures of them with THEIR MOTHER in them.

    It’s not that I don’t know what I need to do – hell, I’ve done it before (albeit with a lot more resources and a ton more time). It’s just that now that I actually give a damn, I am so overwhelmed it’s hard to know where to start. Though it appears Facebook had a suggestion for me:

    tweet-fb hints

    I have hit rock bottom.

    So for the last two mornings, I’ve risen with the first snooze, while my family is still sleeping, and when it’s still way too dark, and have stumbled into the living room for a round of free weights, ab exercises, and push ups. I’m sore this afternoon, so that means something is working, right? RIGHT?

    I am sure there are scores of mom’s out there in their mid 30s who can offer suggestions on how they snapped back into shape six weeks after birth, but hearing from y’all just makes me feel worse about myself. And if you are under 30, don’t you dare comment! (LOL!) Instead, I’m interested to hear from the mom’s out there who ARE or WERE in a situation like mine, where 12+ months after birth, they needed to get their assess kicked by the likes of Jillian Michaels. C’mon. Please let me know I’m not the only one.

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    When she’s not making weight-loss excuses, Rachel and her 40 lbs of extra ass blogs over at Motherhood.Squared .

    I Can Almost Taste It

    Since the kids were born, meals are nary a time for savory socialization. Instead, it’s a strategic placement of cups and food and making sure they don’t climb out of their high chairs, (incidentally, has anyone else noticed that the buckles on those things ARE ALWAYS BROKEN?), or grab my margarita, or scoop up the salsa into their mouths (though I bet they wouldn’t do that twice), or fling food at a neighboring table.

    Related. We’ve become very good tippers.

    With my male co-workers, I used to be the last to finish lunch. I am ashamed to say that I now finish my meal faster than about half of them. No, I am not proud of this. In fact, I am so embarrassed by it that I wish I had a button that said “Shut up, I have twins.”

    I’ve become so conditioned to it that I have had to make it


    a


    conscious


    decision


    to


    slow


    down

    particularly when eating out without our kids, and especially when eating out with people who do not have kids at all. Otherwise, I’ll look like my one co-worker who has completely inhaled his meal before the rest of us have even unrolled our utensils from the napkin.

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    When she’s not re-learning table manners alongside boy/girl 21 month old twins, Rachel blogs over at Motherhood.Squared .