Mom Ninja

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Categories Ask the Readers, How Do The Moms Do It4 Comments

We’ve got two babies (at least) and two arms (if you have information on how to grow a third, please post here immediately!). If we ever want to eat or pee again, we must develop a special set of skills to get basic things done. We must become…Mom Ninjas.

Super Skills of the Mom Ninjas

Level 1: Holding two babies at once. Let’s face it, even though we MoMs usually take this for granted, holding two babies, seated or standing, is a skill.

Level 2: Feeding one baby while rocking/feeding/changing/soothing another. AKA your life for the first 6 months (give or take a couple years).

Level 3: Leaving the house by yourself and all your infants. And coming back in one piece.

Level 4: Changing a poopy diaper in the middle of the night without waking the sleeping non-pooper. Keeping your cool when the non-pooper poops too, even though this is the first thing they have managed to do on the same schedule all @#$% day. And we’re breathing…

Level 5: The ol’ Switcheroo – trading babies with your partner by handing them over simultaneously.

Level 6: Picking up a dropped toy/keys/diaper with your foot while holding both babies.

Level 7: Listening to and retaining information from the bank/insurance company/doctor’s office while wrangling two busy little bodies determined to a) roll across the room and eat cat food, and/or b) deafen the neighborhood with screaming for no apparent reason.

Level 8: Picking up a baby up from a car seat/putting a baby into the car seat while holding another (possibly both are crying hysterically. Actually they definitely are. Otherwise no one would attempt this insane move. Please don’t tell CPS.).

Level 9: Knowing, in the midst of a Double Meltdown, whom to go to first and the subsequent order of problem-solving to get back to relative peace.

Level 10: Walking down the street, pushing that awful Double Snap n’ Go that your kids refuse to ride in because we woke up, mommy, so you’re carrying one in the Ergo and the other on your hip and maybe even talking on the phone (it’s the sleep consultant, guys) when some kind, misguided soul whispers “Oh my god, quadruplets,” as you pass. Actually, if I had quadruplets, I’m pretty sure I would leave the house in a better state than this. If I left at all. Which I wouldn’t.

Level 11: Standing up with two sleeping babies on the double nursing pillow, possibly still attached to the boob, walking to the bathroom, peeing, pulling up your pants, and returning to the couch – without anyone waking up.

Level 12: See Level 11, add jeans.

Level 13: Doing it all again tomorrow, without much sleep in between.

You know you’ve done all this and more (MoMs-to-be, don’t worry, you will too). So tell us, ladies – What are your ultimate Mom Ninja moves?

RebeccaD is a SAHM in San Francisco. She is currently in ninja training with her 6-month-old fraternal twin boys, who are ruthless taskmasters but big on hugs and kisses for a job well done.

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Do What I Say, Not What I Do

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Categories Ask the Readers, Balance, Behavior, Discipline, Household and Family Management, Mommy Issues, Organization, School-AgeTags , , , , , , , , 3 Comments

I’m a big believer in teaching by example.

If I’m going to talk the talk, I need to walk the walk. If I want my children to make healthy food choices, I need to make healthy food choices myself. If I want them to treat others with compassion, I need to do that in my own life. If I want them to be honest and open with me, I need to be honest and open with them. Whether or not my children are watching me, I try to model the things I want them to learn.

The problem is that I am messy. Really, really messy. I am good at many things, but tidying is not one of them. I am so bad at putting things away that two of my friends came over to help me move in and save me from myself. While the husband took all our kids to the nearest park to play, the wife walked me through my home, telling me where to put my things.

I’m great at cleaning, but lousy at tidying. In an hour, I can leave a bathroom sparkling and germ-free. My dirty laundry doesn’t pile up. Dirty dishes in the sink? Forget it! However, my bathroom counter is cluttered. When it comes to folding clean clothes and putting them away, I’m an abject failure. My kitchen counters are covered with mail, kitchen appliances, and spice containers. My dining table has a pile of books on it. My buffet is covered with paper. I moved into my house in August, and half unpacked boxes take up half my garage. The last time my daughters had a friend sleep over, she told me that I should really clean my room.

How can I realistically expect my children to clean their room when I leave the rest of the house, inlcuding my own room, a mess?

The one area of tidiness where I am consistently successful is the containment of dirty laundry. My dirty clothes always make it into the hamper. Therefore, I feel that this is an area in which I can insist the children follow suit. They don’t, though. Their bedroom floor is littered with worn clothes.

A month ago, I laid down the law. My daughters are 6 years old and dress themselves. I think this means that they can take ownership of discarding worn clothes appropriately. I would no longer wash clothes that didn’t make it into the girls’ laundry basket. Over the last several weeks, I have pushed their dirty clothes scattered on the carpet to the side of the room instead of helping them into the basket. I’ve only washed what the girls toss in their basket.

The first thing they ran out of was pajamas. These girls LOVE their pajamas, so imagine their dismay at having to sleep in daytime clothes. (I used to make them sleep in school clothes. I’ll tell you about that another day.) Next, they ran out of sweatpants and tights. They live in sweater dresses and tights or sweatpants and T-shirts during Texas winters, so this was The End of the World.

It worked. Last Thursday, M told me that she had picked up part of the growing pile of worn clothes and moved it to the laundry basket. By the time she woke on Friday, I’d washed and folded every last item she’d taken ownership of. I placed them in the bin from which they are supposed to put their clothes away, and she dressed herself in sweatpants in deep gratitude.

My girls aren’t going to do what I say, unless I do it myself.

Now tell me: How do I teach myself to be neat so I can teach my kids?

Sadia fails to keep house in the suburbs of Austin, TX. She is a single mom of 6-year-old twin girls, and works in higher education IT. Her desk at work is disarmingly clutter-free, and her electronic folders well-organized. Her desk at home is another story.

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Stroller Insanity

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Categories Ask the Readers, Mommy Issues, ProductsTags , , , , , 16 Comments

Lately I’ve been kind of obsessed about strollers. As the twins are now 3 months old, and I HATE the double Snap-n-Go that we currently use, I’m ready to get a nice double stroller. I feel so insane scouring the internet for stroller reviews and watching YouTube comparisons for hours. It’s not a small purchase, but if I could just make a decision already I’d be able to spend more time playing with my kids or sleeping!

With our first I bought a travel system. I looked for a 3 wheeled one (called a jogger, I now know), because I think I once saw one at the mall and was intrigued that it looked different from the traditional 4-wheeled ones. I must have been more frugal then, because I looked for the cheapest one I could find and didn’t consider the others at all. I don’t think I even test drove any at the store. We ended up with a Baby Trend Expedition, which cost all of $199, including the carseat! But I soon learned that it was pretty bulky and heavy. Recovering from a c-section in the first few weeks, I opted to use the Bjorn when going out with baby. It didn’t get much use as a travel system either, since I ditched the carseat at 6 months, but it’s still a pretty good stroller. Nice big wheels, very comfortable to push and sit in.

When baby was about a year old, we decided it was time for a family trip somewhere out of town. We picked a place not too far, San Diego, and planned some kid-friendly activities like going to the zoo. Suddenly, I realized that our stroller wouldn’t work. It would fit in my car, but with a pack-n-play and all our luggage for the trip, that was a lot to move around. Plus what if we took a tram at the zoo, or used any other sort of public transportation? So, at the last minute, the night before we planned on leaving, I searched Craigslist for another stroller. I happened to find a Maclaren Quest that was a couple years old, made the deal for $100 early in the morning, and picked it up as we were leaving town. I didn’t even know how to open/close it, so we just figured it out as we used it. I think it weighs something like 12 lbs. I liked it so much that after the trip I considered buying myself a new one, but at $100 and in good condition, there really wasn’t any need. It’s serviced us well.

Both those strollers are now collecting dust in the garage. Toddler doesn’t need to be pushed in a stroller anymore as she likes to run around, and though we think of “jogging” in our jogger now and then, laziness always overtakes us.

It’s time for a new stroller. This time a double. This time more pricey. This time more well-researched. This time, weighing somewhere between the last two. Loving our Maclaren, I was all set on getting the twin version. It’s been sitting in my Amazon cart for months. Grandpa has already given us money to pay for it. But the more I thought about it, the more I read about strollers, the more I was doubting my choice. I’ve come to the conclusion that a double just doesn’t work as an umbrella stroller. Too much to fold up and bulky anyway. Plus it weighs almost 24 lbs, which puts it in the range of non-umbrella doubles.

So, I’ve been looking into other types of double strollers. Turns out there are sooooo many! Tandems, side-by-sides, stacked, re-positionable, carseat adaptable, forever-air tires, one-hand fold, independent recline… one can get sucked into the madness that is stroller comparison. The problem is, since twins are not as prevalent as singles, double strollers are not usually out on sales floors, and for the same reason, you wouldn’t have a “friend’s” to see/test. And the reviews are never-ending, sometimes contradictory, and always refer to yet another previously unresearched stroller for comparison. UGH!

I am leaning towards the Baby Jogger City Mini Double. At under 30″ wide and less than 27 lbs, it’s not too big to stroll around nor too heavy to discourage use.

So the shopping begins. Currently the newest model is the 2012 version. It retails for $450 and I haven’t seen it on sale for much less. The 2011 model is being clearanced, and I have found an orange one for $300. What a steal, right? But I can’t decide if I want to the better seat padding, easier access to the underbasket, and the auto close clip in the newer version. Plus buying the older version would be like buying last year’s car model. A little anti-climatic. Still haven’t decided…

What are you all pushing around?

lunchldyd is mom to a toddler girl and 3 month old b/g twins. She is also a high school teacher. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband, 3 children under 3, and two neglected dogs who would probably enjoy a walk outside with a new stroller.

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No Birth Plan for You!!

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Categories Ask the Readers, Birth Stories, Pregnancy25 Comments

I’ve seen a midwife for my gynecological care for the last 12 years or so. I have preferred their approach of treating the health of the woman, over the potential sickness. The different women I’ve seen have always taken their time to answer my questions, never rushing out of the room and have made me feel comfortable. When I envisioned myself someday giving birth, I pictured a hospital, but having a midwife coach me through. This vision was thoroughly reinforced after seeing “The Business of Being Born” and having several friends deliver healthy babies, in uneventful births with midwives by their sides.

When we found out we were having twins, we went to see a midwife I’d seen a handful of times and who had helped me through my miscarriage. Her recommendation was to see both the OBs in the office, as well as the midwives throughout my pregnancy and that I’d be “shared” by them, most likely resulting in a birth attended (in the OR for certain) by both a CNM and OB. Last week I saw one of the OBs, and while I did feel comfortable, the difference between a midwife and OB approach is notable. I was thrown for a loop when this OB was strongly recommending that I see only the OBs in their practice. Her rationalization was that most likely, I’d end up with one of them delivering my babies, anyways, so why not start with them. She explained that a variety of scenarios are likely to arise that would require them to step in: if I had a vaginal birth and the second baby was breech, if I needed a planned or emergency c-section, or need to use forceps to avoid a c-section. Essentially, she was saying that things would have to be picture perfect for a midwife to deliver both twins start to finish.

On the one hand, I’m trying to let go of the visions I’ve had in the past of a particular kind of pregnancy, labor and child-rearing. In a way, I feel silly to not just work with the doctor who has delivered FAR more sets of twins than my midwife, and feel that I should work toward accepting the doctors will do whatever is safest for my babies and me on D-day. The other, more stubborn, feminist part of me gets upset at the idea of having a pregnancy that could be pathologized from this point forward: labeled as “high-risk” and having the OB drive the train that she desires. I’m terrified of ending up with a c-section because I went with an OB who wanted to get things over with (which, admittedly, may be an unfair judgment of all OBs), when I could have had a vaginal birth if I went with a midwife.

I’m curious to hear from others who may have been faced with this dilemma. How did you decide whether to see a midwife or an OB? Did you end up just scheduling a c-section, to avoid all the potential ups and downs of a vaginal twin delivery? Did you try for a vaginal birth with your multiples, but end up with a c-section anyways, after complications got in the way? I’d love to hear any thoughts, advice or perspectives I’m missing.

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Where My Twins’ IQ Test Results Throw Me Into a Tizzy

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Categories Ask the Readers, Classroom Placement, Difference, Education, Identical, Relationships, School-Age, Speech TherapyTags , , , , , , , 13 Comments

Our identical (we think?) twin boys are in 1st grade now. While their speech issues hinder their spelling, they’re still performing above grade level in language arts. But math is where they really excel. This fall, G’s standardized test scores for math were the highest in the class, well above the 99th percentile threshold. Right now a parent volunteer is running a pull-out group for some of the kids who can do more challenging work, but next year that might not be an option. We wondered if the boys might be able to jump a grade for math. This isn’t something our district does readily, so we knew we’d have to push. We requested that our boys be tested for the district’s gifted program — if they qualified, we’d have the leverage we need to push for differentiation.

We were surprised by our results. G did not qualify for the gifted program, missing the cut-off by 4 IQ points. P did qualify.

Initially, I was upset with myself for even requesting the test. I hadn’t thought about the possibility of one qualifying and the other not.  Now we had this bona fide test result, on paper, saying G was less capable than his brother. And G has always struggled with self-confidence.

We had a conundrum, too. While we agreed it would be devastating to G for us to place P in the gifted program, we didn’t feel good about withholding enrichment opportunities from P just because his brother didn’t qualify. This is similar to the situation HDYDI blogger Sadia faced this year, except she was faced with moving one of her twins to first grade while the other remained in kindergarten. In researching what to do for our boys, I found this study of different twin types and their reactions to having one twin placed in a gifted program, while the co-twin was not. It definitely affirmed our gut feeling that our boys wouldn’t do well in that situation.

The more I’ve thought about it, the less I trust the IQ test results. I consulted with the director of the university speech clinic the boys attend, and she felt his speech issues could have thrown off the results. G is very aware of his articulation errors, and speaks very slowly to strangers so they can understand him. P does not make any effort to slow his speech for the benefit of others. The speech clinic director said G is likely to choose his words based on what will be easy for him to pronounce and for others to understand, rather than choosing the words that best convey his meaning. G is a kid who asks for math work on his days off of school, because he says he feels anxious on days when he doesn’t get to do math. He picked up his sister’s 4th grade math workbook and started completing the pages for fun. My other two kids who do qualify for the gifted program don’t do anything like this.

We will probably have him retested at some point, so we know what all of our options are. Our oldest child attends a charter school for academically gifted students, and our public schools have various levels of differentiation available. For now we won’t retest — G said he didn’t like the test and it was boring, so I hate to put him through the same thing with the same test administrator this school year. In the meantime we’ve decided to home school next year — we can let them work at their own pace, and provide as much enrichment as either of them needs.

What would you do? Have you run into a similar situation? How would your multiples handle one being placed in a gifted program, while the other remained in the regular classroom?


Jen is a work-from-home mom of 7-year-old twin boys, and two girls ages 5 and 9. She also blogs at Minivan MacGyver. Once in a while.

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Prematurity and School

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Categories Ask the Readers, Development, Prematurity, Preschoolers, School-AgeTags , , , , 4 Comments

When my babies and I returned to Chengdu from Hong Kong after their birth at 31 weeks of gestation, they were almost 6 months old. Many of our friends came over to visit; to meet the tiny babies.

One of those friends was a school principal. Since we’ve been considering schools, and when to start them – I’ve heard from friends that children start anywhere from 2 to 6 years old depending on where they come from and what their parents can manage and prefer to do – I remembered something she said to me.

For every week of prematurity, hold back the child from starting school by a month.

When we visited a school a few months ago, that principal also suggested that we hold them back rather than push them into school early.

This all worked well with my thoughts on not sending my children in too early, on not pushing them.

Then more recently, yet another principal talked to us about some of her experiences in the past, with premature children having difficulties in music classes, for example.

I’ve felt that my children are in the average of their age group. I can’t say that on any scientific basis, but I’m not too bothered with what they can or can’t do, of course that is keeping in mind that they are highly energetic children with no major, obvious issues. They talk. A lot. They play and laugh.

Last month I sent my 2 year 3 month olds to school. They were the youngest in their class, by a few months. At this stage of extremely quick growth and change, I’d say they were the youngest by far. So after a week of battling with myself, after having done the exact opposite of what I believed in, and what I was advised – I pulled them out of school.

In terms of separation from me, interaction and focus in class, they did very well, but I wasn’t convinced that it was the best thing for them at that time. My son was crying in his sleep, and unusually quiet and forlorn. My daughter became even more clingy than usual. I saw obvious changes. Of course there will be an adaptation phase whenever they start school, but we didn’t have to have it at that time. I have the luxury of being a SAHM, and all the plans that I made of what I would with my free-time, can wait a few more months!

But mainly I am hoping that the extra six months at home with us, will give them more confidence and security, other than more words, the ability to better express their emotions, they’ll be potty trained. After speaking to a number of close mum friends, I realized that almost all had waited until their children were 2.5 or 3 before sending them to school, and even then, they only went 3 half days every week.

Now, we are doing many activities that include music, dance, and just simple play – and we are all happy with our decision. I’m sure that the 6 months I hold them back will give them time for growth, and confidence.

My question to parents, both of premature children and not, to teachers, educators, paediatricians, and anyone who has an opinion on this: When did your children start school? Is there much change in a child between the ages of 2 and 3?

Have you read or heard of studies about prematurity and education, prematurity and its relation to holding back children from starting school?

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Natasha lives in Chengdu, China with her husband Maher. She is mum of twins Leila and Rahul, and was an Ashtanga Yoga teacher until her little yogis became the teachers. You can find more of her thoughts and stories at Our Little Yogis. http://natashadevalia.com

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MoM Elevator Pitch

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Categories Ask the Readers, Pregnancy, PrematurityTags , , , , , 3 Comments

Today, I went into the local Army medical center in an attempt to untangle a sitcom-worthy set of mixups of appointments, referrals and prescriptions. While I was waiting, I got to talking to the visibly pregnant lady next to me. She was 25 weeks pregnant with twins, and wasn’t looking forward to her appointment. Since one of her babies was low on amniotic fluid, she was anticipating being checked into the hospital, something she really didn’t want to have to do quite yet. We happened to leave the clinic around the same time, and she gave me an update. Although she wasn’t being hospitalized, she was being put on bed rest. She lamented not being able to be more available to one of her soldiers whose wife is also expecting twins.

In the few minutes I had, I told her that I also had twins, and that I’d delivered them 7 weeks early. Although it was scary at the time, they spent less than 3 weeks in the NICU, and are now flourishing. If bed rest was what her babies needed, maybe holding on to the thought that she’s doing it for them would help the time pass faster. I told her that I’d be thinking of her, and that I hoped that her babies stayed healthy and in her womb as long as they could.

If you had just 2 or 3 minutes to comfort a scared mother-of-multiples-to-be, what would you say to her?

Sadia is an army wife and working mom of 5-year-old identical twin girls. She and her family live in El Paso, TX, where her husband is stationed at Ft Bliss.

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Ask the Readers: Speaking Up

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Categories Ask the Readers, Relationships, SafetyTags , 3 Comments

What do you do when you observe an uninformed parent putting her child in danger?

No one likes unsolicited advice, especially when it comes to parenting. Strict routines work for some families, and not for others. Breastfeeding works for some mother-child pairs, and not for others. Discipline comes in as many flavours as there are children in the world.

However, there are times that it’s difficult, perhaps even immoral, to stay quiet.

My husband and I recently observed a young mother picking her child up by the head. Her thumbs under the baby’s ears, her pinkies at the base of his neck, she lifted his entire body to kiss him gently on the forehead. His body swung from the neck. To us, this screamed of possible cumulative spinal injury. We communicated our concerns to the mother. Her response was, “I don’t see the problem. I do this all the time.” We found some documents on spinal injuries in babies and gave them to her, although nowhere were we able to find a clear directive forbidding this sort of lift.

We may have very well destroyed our relationship with this mom, whose son we adore, but we couldn’t have lived with ourselves if we didn’t say something.

What would you have done?

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from hospital ankle bracelets to sports jersey numbers

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Categories Activities, Ask the Readers, Identical, Multiple Types, Other people, Parenting Twins, Relationships, School-AgeTags , , , , , , , , 4 Comments

I’ve written a little before about my efforts to help the boys’ teachers and friends tell them apart. I’m happy to report that their teacher, by mid-October, had found some tiny freckle on one boy’s face that he can use to tell them apart. Their friends still have no idea and arbitrarily call them by one name or the other.

But now, let’s talk about sports!

like the scarlet letter, but white

My boys played tee ball last spring, and their coaches learned which boy wore which pair of shoes so they could call them by name. Yes, their coaches were that awesome, because both sets of shoes are mostly grey and black, and just have tiny bits that are green or red.

They played flag football this summer, and that was trickier. For one thing, black cleats were pretty standard. For another, it’s not like tee ball where the kids are mostly coached one by one, or assigned a spot. The boys had big numbers on the backs of their jerseys, but from the front it was anyone’s guess.

To help the coaches (and everyone), I took to putting an X in surgical tape on one boy’s shirt. I felt so weird about this — first because I was afraid he wouldn’t like it, but he didn’t mind. But I still felt like I was branding him in some odd way. I also felt like maybe I was making a bigger deal out of this than it needed to be.

It turned out to be a good thing. Their coaches were great about remembering which boy got the X (the one who has an X in his name, which made it easier) and my boys benefited from being called by name. And I have to admit, I relied on that X to keep track of who was where from the sidelines. It saved me from a lot of, “YAY! GREAT JOB– (who was that?) — GREAT JOB, um, SON!”

When your look-alike multiples are in uniforms, what strategies do you use to help other people tell them apart?
Jen is a work-from-home mom of 7-year-old twin boys, and two girls ages 5 and 9. She also blogs at Minivan MacGyver, where she freaks out about every single thing that happens at school.

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Ask the Readers: Happy Halloween

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Categories Ask the Readers, CelebrationsTags , , 4 Comments

My cousin Cynthia posed a question: What is the real meaning of Halloween?

She lives in Bangladesh, where we don’t celebrate Halloween at all. I was tempted to point her to the old Celtic festivals that seem to have birthed Halloween, but who really thinks about that as they’re handing out candy to miniature goblins and witches?

So, here’s a question for the readers:

What does Halloween mean to you?

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