Toddler Thursday: Two Year Check Up + Milestones

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Categories Developmental Geekery, Toddler Thursday, ToddlersTags , , 2 Comments

Last week was our 2 year check up.  I am desperately awaiting the once a year days.  We went from every other day when we first brought Jane and Emma home from the hospital 2 years ago, to twice a week, to once a month, to every 3 months, to every 6 months, and here we stand.  Some of the things that we look forward to these days at each check up include:

Weigh-ins.  The girls went from not even being on the growth chart at under 5 lbs each when we brought them home, to quickly gaining weight and staying steady.  At this past visit they weighted in at around 25 lbs., which is in about the 40th percentile for their age.  Tell you what, I’m just happy that they are ON the chart!

girls

Height checks.  Let me start by saying that I am pretty short.  I am only 5’2″, and my 6’3″ husband picks on me constantly for not being able to reach things on the middle shelf.  I am prefacing my daughters’ current measurements this way because they are only in the 10th percentile for their age.  They are peanuts.

Different Developmental Checks.  I had to fill out a very involved developmental survey prior to going to our appointment.  They asked about walking, running, jumping, different reactions in situations, speech, etc.  Turns out that not only are Jane and Emma just fine, but a bit ahead for their age.  They are speaking in simple sentences and following directions (sometimes), and can even “dress” themselves (although the clothes are usually backwards by the time they are finished, IF they haven’t thrown a total s-fit in the process).

janey

Vaccines.  There.  I said it.  The word ‘vaccination’ seems to have become a dirty word in Mommyville, but having our children vaccinated was not even a discussion that Hershey and I had.  We just said “YES” when they asked us in the NICU.  And we’ve followed the recommended schedule closely ever since.  And although we didn’t actually get any vaccines DURING this visit, the girls are scheduled for their 2 year old vaccines next Tuesday and we have to schedule some blood labs for them in the coming summer months.  Never a fun time when Daddy has to hold the unsuspecting ladies down and Mama cries even more than the girls do, but such is life.  They forget about the shots before we walk out the door, and usually only run little TINY fevers a couple of days afterwards, along with the crankiness and weepiness that is typical.

I like to ask every question that I can think of during these visits, knowing that the doctors specifically put aside extra time for wellness check ups.  This time around, I asked about

  1. eating (toddlers are only expected to eat one GOOD meal a day, and if they throw the other 2 meals all over the floor, “it’s ok, and normal”);
  2. milk (switch to lowfat at this stage, as they no longer need the full fat for their brain development and the cholesterol is no good for them);
  3. pacifiers (try to get rid of them, as they are damaging their pallets);
  4. SLEEP (toddlers at this age are expected to get 12 hours of sleep a day, between nighttime sleep AND naps, and getting up at 6:00 every SINGLE morning is “normal” – ACK!!!)
  5. potty training (get a potty seat for the toilet and spend some naked time in the summer, but understand that in America the standard age for potty training is 3 years old, so not to push them or get discouraged if it doesn’t happen now because 2 is considered “early” in our culture); and
  6. dentist visits (yup, it’s time!).

I was happy to hear that Jane and Emma are in the normal range, even a bit ahead, considering they can sing their ABCs from start to finish, count to 14, and are even starting to be able to identify letters.  Another thing that they do now that I think is REALLY cool is that they sit and read by themselves, reciting the words on each page of their favorite books the way I did when I was itty-bitty.  I’m hoping that this means that I have trained little fellow readers, because I am DYING to have someone to talk about books with, as my students are all sick of hearing me talk about how much I love reading!

emma reading

I also had to ask about the CONSTANT fighting, as the girls seem to have some sort of the-first-rule-of-baby-fight-club-is-that-you-don’t-tell-mama-it’s-baby-fight-club-time pact going on.  We were also assured that this is “normal”.  Not so sure about my hair loss due to baby fight club, though.

crash

What are some milestones that your little ones have reached that you are super excited about?  Anything shock you?  Anything worrying you?  I’d love to hear from you!

We are almost done with the school year which means that it’s almost summertiiiiiime, when the living is easyyyyy….

Happy Thursday, friends!

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Toddler Thursday: Parenting After Teaching

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Categories Parenting, Toddlers3 Comments

PARENTING AFTER TEACHING

I think I’ve come to the realization that parenting really isn’t easy. But really, what role is? In my life, I’ve been a mom, a wife, an actress, a 4th grade teacher, a kindergarten teacher, a 2nd grade teacher, a preschool camp counselor, an essential oil educator, a blogger, a lamp shade salesperson, a purse distributor, a camera store and film developer, a paralegal assistant, a daughter/sister/cousin/niece/granddaughter, and countless other “roles.” So I think I can honestly say that all of them have their shares of ups and downs. Yet, I find that I constantly can pull from one to help the next role in my life. So while it seems like I have done vastly different things in my life, I find that the skill and experiences all help each other.

Take teaching and parenting: both involve working with children and educating them. Teaching is supposed to focus on teaching knowledge while parenting is teaching skills and behavior. Yet anyone who knows a teacher, has been a teacher, or has seen a teacher in action knows that there are far more life lessons in a classroom (especially an elementary school classroom) than book knowledge.

Classrooms are filled with with why and how. They have investigations and real-world experience. They allow questions and behavior- and life-lessons in dealing with our best of friends and our worst of enemies. And teachers (at least good ones) help facilitate the child in these experiences.

Parenting, likewise, is also filled with why and how. There are explorations about the world around you (both near and far) and field trips (even if it’s just to the local grocery store). They allow questions and behavior- and life-lessons in dealing with our best of friend and our worst of enemy (sometimes Mom, sometimes Dad, sometimes Sister/Brother, and sometimes even the dog). And parents help facilitate the child in these experiences.

In my classroom, I loved my students. We laughed and cried and celebrated milestones together. They were my children. I had high expectation of them, and because of the love and respect and community that we built in between those 4 walls, they rose to meet them. I’m not saying it was perfect, but I helped my children accomplish great things.

Teaching has certainly been a great precursor to parenting. But I was never prepared for how unconditionally I could love my own little humans so much. How my stern (sometimes called “strict”) teaching/parenting style would go out the window the moment they looked up at me or called me “mama.” How I want to protect them over all other things.

But through teaching, I also have seen many different parenting styles and the way that parenting styles influences children and how they act and learn. I know that I am ok being stern, but loving. Informative, but kind. Allow independence, but supportive. It’s a balancing act, but by parenting in this way, I feel like I can bring out the best in my children.

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Getting Children to Eat

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Categories Feeding, Foodie Fridays, Solid Foods, Toddler Thursday, Toddlers42 Comments

I’m a huge advocate for dinner. I cook it almost every night and there is really no predicting what it might be.

When my husband and I were first married cooking dinner was actually a sour point of our nascent marriage. Scott had been a bachelor for 11 years and for 11 years he had pretty much decided what he’d eat for dinner. Usually it was a salad. . .or some take out. This arrangement worked well for him until the new wife decided that she, armed with the wedding gift, Marc Bittman’s How to Cook Everything, was going to do just that. . .cook everything.

She thought it was an act of love. . .he felt it resembled gastronomical homicide–and it seemed a little threatening to his bachelor ways. It wasn’t that she was a bad cook. . .it just was that he wasn’t used to the cooking. . .and then the inevitable clean-up. Life was so much easier with a salad or ordering take-out.

It probably took us a good part of our first couple of years for Scott to realize that cooking was my way of showing love (oh, he could have thought of a better way. . .). And, even when kids arrived on the scene, cooking was still my norm because. . .well, have you ever taken two newborns and two toddlers out to eat. Don’t. Ever.

I remember Scott coming home from work one day and saying that one of his colleagues couldn’t believe that I cooked dinner every day. I looked at him quizzically and asked, “Well, what would we eat if I didn’t cook dinner?” And, honestly dinner time is the WORST time in a mom’s life. The kids are hungry and needy and cranky and many a dinner was cooked with literally one hand as I was holding someone in one arm while the other child tried to scale up my leg. I’d then put one child down and pick up the other and continue cooking. Rinse. Repeat.

But, on the flip side, and if you are one of those mothers or fathers who try your hardest to get a meal on the table, there is a flip side, my kids are pretty much good eaters. And, they will eat almost everything. . .well, except for Will who has a thing about tomatoes. . .and sautéed fresh spinach. . .and if truth-be-told  would have Honey Bunches of Oats for breakfast EVERY DAY if it was available.

SONY DSC
Dylan Eating Cantaloupe

So, when I read Mark Bittman’s article from the NY Times, Getting Your Kids to Eat (or at Least Try) Everything, I felt somewhat vindicated that for the past 14 years I’ve been cooking my family meals.  (Bittman’s actually been all over the media these days promoting his new book, How to Cook Everything Fast.) He is also an advocate for home cooked meals and his newest book is about how easy it is to get something on the table for you and your family.

So, how do you get your children to try or eat just about everything?

  • Cook real food. Yes they’ll eat heated chicken nuggets until you think they’ll start to cluck. . .but you replace that with a roasted chicken (it is SO EASY) or Korean Beef –another super easy recipe.
  • Offer a broad variety of food and let them decide what they like or don’t like.
  • Serve at least one healthy thing you know they’ll like but if they refuse to eat what you’ve prepared, let older kids make themselves a sandwich. Never make food a power struggle.
  • LIMIT SNACKING and GET RID OF JUNK FOOD. This is a hard one. . .but let me tell you that kids are  finickier when they are only somewhat hungry because they’ve been snacking. Food looks good to someone with an appetite and kids are more prone to try something if they are hungry.
  • Engage children and your partner in the food prep. Teach them how to do things. TALK OUT LOUD about what you are doing and why as you are cooking. Even after you set the meal on the table tell them HOW you made one of the items.
  • When the kids are older than 3: Always honor the meal AND the cook. . .have someone set the table with real placemats, forks and plates. Heck, get some of that china out and set the table with that! Light some candles!
  • Even if children didn’t like something the first time. . .serve it again and maybe again. Babies sometimes take 15 times of trying a new food before they’ll eat it. Their palates are just developing. Countless times I’ve served something that flopped only to serve it again to RAVE reviews.
  • BE UNAPOLOGETIC about cooking for your family. Never say something like, “Oh, because I’m a stay at home parent I have time. . .” or “Well, this part time job allows me to get home. . .” I’ve qualified my meal prep with these words. But the truth is that I’ve made some of these decisions in order to feed my family and I shouldn’t have to feel that my choices were somehow less than someone who chooses to work a 60 hour week. But in the long run. . .oh heck, even in the short run. . .everyone in your family will be better for that meal that you made.

Last, but not least, there is nothing in this world better than when your child walks into the house and says, “Mmmm, what smells so good, Mom!”

(A huge shout out to my mom, Judy, who had a good meal on the table almost every night and who raised a daughter and four boys who are damn good cooks! Thanks mom!)

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Toddler Thursday: Why Kids Ask “Why?”

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Categories Development, Education, Language, Talking to Kids, Toddler Thursday, ToddlersTags 46 Comments

It was 2008. I was cutting 2-year-old M’s nails. (She was 25 months old, if you seek precision.)

M: Mommy cut my nee-uls.
Me: Yes, I’m cutting your nails.
M: Mama cut my toe.
Me: Yep.
M: (pointing to her knee) Mama cut my knee?
Me: No honey. Your knee doesn’t have nails.
M: Why?

When a child between two and four keeps asking “Why?”, it’s definitely not to annoy you. It’s often not even to understand the causes of things, although they are certainly starting to understand the concept of cause and effect.

Your child asks “Why?” to indicate interest in the topic at hand.

The child’s “Why?” translates to your, “Tell me more.“.

M didn’t need me to explain to her narrowly why her knee was without nails. Instead, she was interested in me talking about the distinct purposes of the different parts of her body. I could show her how similarly her knee and elbow bent, allowing her to move around. I could explain why her nails and hair grew and needed trimming while other parts of her did not. I could point out the similarities and differences between her fingers and toes. I could compare her dimpled toddler hand to my lean vein-ridden grownup hand.

By hearing what my daughter was trying to ask, instead of what she did ask, we were able to embark on a wonderful educational discussion. It all started with the simple word “Why”.

Once I realized what “Why” meant, I didn’t hear it repeated any more. The girls were satisfied with my first answer, because I was responding to their request for more information instead of giving a quick cause-and-effect brush-off.

Has your child reached or gone through the “Why?” phase yet?

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Toddler Thursday: Crazy Little Thing Called Sleep

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Categories Parenting, Perspective, Sleep, Toddler Thursday4 Comments

You know that boozy college friend(s) that everyone has? The one that always starts their story with “We were so drunk…”?

I am that friend. But, since I’m a mom, my stories start like, “I was so tired…” and, since I’m a mom of twins, my stories actually go more like, “I hadn’t slept in thirteen days…”

It sounds like an exaggeration, but I can assure you it’s not. Exactly. I can joke about it, but I truly realized how much of my motherhood has been colored by sleep deprivation when my brother-in-law, who is expecting his first child, came to visit. Always the baby-crazy one, I was happy to share whatever memories he was interested in hearing, and I noticed that I prefaced each story with a disclaimer: “at that point, I was so sleep deprived…”

To give you some context: my twins did not sleep through the night until they were just over two years old. They are now two and a half, and I can hardly believe the sleep trials we went through. I first realized how bad it was when I read an article about REM sleep, and how you normally don’t start dreaming until you’ve been asleep for about 70-90 minutes. I’d had the most intense dreams during my naps of 20-30 minutes, because my body would just crash. (For more on the interesting link between sleep-deprivation and vivid dreams, read this article).

For those of you who are still fighting the good fight, know that you are not alone! (But don’t expect me to go back there just to keep you company, because that’s just not gonna happen.) I remember hearing people casually mention that their precious angels slept through the night at six weeks AS IF THAT WAS PERFECTLY NORMAL, and I remember feeling very strongly that we could not be friends.

I refused to believe that such a thing as “STTN” actually existed. I grew resentful because I felt like I had paid my dues–I breastfed on demand, I tried to honor each twin’s individual timing, and I didn’t have unreasonable expectations for sleep (as did the moms of obviously fictitious sleep-through-the-nighters).

But two years?!?

Finally, it happened. It wasn’t an overnight miracle, but a slow process–for the twins, it was sleeping, but for me, it was actually about awakening.

Now that I can reliably get 6 or more hours of sleep each night, I feel like I am actually living again. I feel like life now should have the hashtag #nofilter, as opposed to all those #nosleep memories during infancy. The best thing, for me, about toddlerhood is–unequivocally and necessarily–sleep.

Once I read another twin mom describe the first couple of years as being ‘underwater’ and I do like that metaphor. Not that having your head above water is easy! With two and a half year olds, it now feels like I am treading water. All day long. And I don’t know about you, but treading water makes me tired–very tired!

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Toddler Thursday: Are Twins Easier?

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Categories Parenting Twins, Perspective, Toddler Thursday, ToddlersTags 3 Comments

I wrote this post when my twin daughters, J and M, were 19 months old.

In some ways, having twins is easier than raising an only child.

  • When one twin develops an obsession with an article of clothing, they can easily wear it every day, since you already have two from all their matchy-matchy baby gifts.
  • When you say “naptime”, they hear “time to play with Sissy without Mama around to bother us” and run to the nursery.
  • You realize that most of the cool new things they’re learning are not a typical phase in child development at all, but an embodiment of their individuality. You don’t worry about averages or typical ages to reach developmental milestones, because kids are just all different. Even identical twins. Or perhaps their being monozygotic makes the differences that much more noticeable.
  • You can say, “Sissy picked up the toys she was playing with, so clearly you’re old enough to put yours away.” This does not in fact cause them to pick up their toys, but you feel no guilt in being thoroughly disgruntled.
  • Strangers’ constant comments about how precious they are almost inspire them to keep bows in their hair. Almost.
  • They understand firsthand that being kicked hurts. However, they continue to kick things… and people.
  • They know how silly they look when they throw tantrums. They throw ’em anyway.
  • It’s easier to cook for three than for two. Most dishes I cook with a pound of meat and a couple of vegetables get consumed before they go bad.
  • You essentially do the same amount of work (one bath, one bedtime story, one set of meals) for twice the kisses and hugs.
  • They understand, and live by, the meaning of “Share”.
  • Some amount of competition is good for them. “She’s walking? Maybe I should try it.” “She said ‘please’. That worked pretty well. I think I’ll give it a shot.”

In what ways are twins easier than singletons in your family?

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Toddler Thursday: Getting the diagnosis…. Then (whew!) finding out it is wrong

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Categories Medical, Perspective, Special Needs, Toddler ThursdayTags , , 1 Comment

As a parent you will do anything to make sure your kids are safe and happy. With the first baby especially, you stress and worry and panic and wonder if you are ever going to do anything right. My oldest was an early talker, a very early talker and a late walker. I had always heard that you either talk or walk – that babies focused on one area of development at a time. She talked early and walked at 17 months. Perfectly reasonable and within “normal” ranges, so it is fine.

Fast forward to twins.

Again, I stressed, I worried and I wondered if I would ever get anything right. Don’t get me started on sleep. The twins are now 2 ¾ and we still have sleeping issues…. The boy girl twins, like my older daughter, were early talkers. And late walkers. Sidney walked at 17 months just like big sister. But Spencer did not. He did talk early but at 17 months was not walking. It is ok, he will get there. And at about 18 months he took 5 steps into my arms. And I cried and screamed and attacked him with kisses.

He did not walk again.

He did not even cruise.

At 19 months I emailed the pediatrician and said, “I know you are going to tell me not to worry but at 19 months Spencer is not walking yet”. Her reply was like a dart into my heart. “Maybe we need to get him evaluated.”

I called Birth-to-Three and after a scheduling nightmare I gave up and called the pediatric rehab center on my own. My mother-in-law came with me. Her job was to listen to everything I missed and hold my hand. She did great. Spencer did great. I did not. In my defense, I did not mesh well with the therapist. I am 100% positive she is very qualified and good at her job, but I constantly felt blamed. “If you don’t pick him up he will walk.” That comment had me in tears. And had Spencer in tears. I will never forget his baby arms reaching up for me and his baby screams while this (evil) woman tells me that he is not walking only because I pick him up.

The therapist would hold toys just out of his reach and try to force him to reach for them to build up him muscles. Spencer would give up and move to a different toy. And I don’t blame him. But she did recommend that he wear braces on his ankles.  So I consulted with the pediatrician before making that appointment. She laid Spencer on the exam table and moved/manipulated/rotated his legs. She called them “spaghetti legs”. She could move them in any direction. His muscle tone was low, but she did not think that was a huge cause of worry, he could build up the muscles.

But she saw something else in his legs. “Beth, I want him to see a pediatric neurologist, I think he may have Cerebral Palsy”. And that was all I heard. She did talk me down (ish). She reminded me that if he did have it, it was not the end of the world, it was not a brain tumor (ok, an extreme example but she had a point).

First step, ankle braces. So we made the appointment and Spencer was fitted with baby ankle braces. Everyone told me that these braces were a miracle and that the minute they were on, their baby walked.  Spencer did not. (In his defense they measures the braces wrong and needed to redo them so he wore the wrong ones for a week or so…) Slowly, slowly, he started taking baby steps. But he still preferred crawling or being carried.

And then, one day, with my heart in my throat, I watched my baby boy walk. Those tiny little dinosaur printed ankle braces changed our world. At 21 months, Spencer walked barefoot. He had full control, turned, pushed toys, carried toys. He was there. I tear up now remembering that day.

With my mother-in-law in tow, we took Spencer to the neurologist.

You know when you have those days where every detail sticks perfectly in your brain? That day was one of them. The neurologist pronounced my son (he actually evaluated both kids and pronounced them both) as “perfect”. He said Spencer did have low muscle tone but that he did not even need physical therapy or the braces. I kept him in the braces for a few more months anyway because I bought a new wider pair of shoes to accommodate them. When he sized up in shoes, he left the braces behind.

My gorgeous, amazing, funny, cuddly, little man is perfect. He runs (not well and not fast, but he gets places faster than walking). He might not be a soccer player or football player but that will mean less concussions, so I am good with it. And one day, while waiting for big sister’s school bus, he jumped up in the air. Both feet off the group, jumped into the air. My baby boy. I have never been so proud.

Really, when he plays with his friends you would never know what we went through in the spring of 2014. We still have some work to do though. He does not like stairs and prefers to be carried, especially when he is tired. When we hold hands on the stairs, he turns his foot inward and we want to work on that.   When he moves to preschool, he will need to be able to walk down a long staircase to the playground and that staircase does worry me. But we will take it all day by day, step by step and now jump by jump.

As a mom you would do anything for your kids, and if Spencer did have Cerebral Palsy, we would have researched and become the experts at CP. It was only a few months. And in the grand scheme of things, it was nothing. But it was also everything.

I would check on him at night and put my hand on his back and watch him breathe and stroke his cheek and wonder if he would be able to walk without braces, if his peers would be cruel, how a disability might affect him and our family. We are so blessed that we don’t have to worry about these things. But if I ever do, I know that my support system is strong and I want to publicly tell everyone how fabulous the “how do you do it” group is. Because they got me through the beginning. They were a huge help in getting me from the emotional stage to the logical, research nerd stage. You need the emotional part. You need to cry when you get news like this, but you need to hit that research stage hard as well.

Our lives are “normal” now (or as normal as life with toddler twins can be). When I take the twins down the stairs, I hold hands and lead them down one by one and that is our normal. I help Spencer turn his foot on the stairs and that is normal for us. But when he does not want to come inside, I chase after him and now that is normal too. And even while I am chasing after him, I know how blessed I am to have a baby boy who can run away from me, as long as he never ever runs into the street!

 

Beth is known as mommy by a 6 year old and boy-girl twins who are almost 3.  She blogs about life, kids, and DIY, at Pickles in my Tea and in my Soup.

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Toddler Thursday: Outdoor Photography

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Categories Attitude, Parenting, Preschoolers, Toddler Thursday, Toddlers26 Comments

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.

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

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Categories Overnight, Parenting, Potty Training, Preschoolers, School-Age, Sleep, Wouldn't Do Without WednesdayTags 5 Comments

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.

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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.

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(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.

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Indoor Toddler Games for Rainy Days

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Categories Parenting, Preschoolers, Toddler Thursday, Toddlers7 Comments

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?

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