Mommy-Daughter Date, Single Mom Style

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My birthday is 6 days after that of my twin daughters. Both usually fall in the same week as American Mothers’ Day. In the widest conceivable stretch, all three events occur within a 9-day period. We’re nothing if not efficient.

This year, Mothers’ Day fell on M and J’s birthday. My birthday was the following Saturday, the day before yesterday.

Sadia and her daughters do a lot of celebrating in May.

On Thursday evening, M informed me that she wanted to take me out for a birthday/Mothers’ Day treat. Her grandparents had given her a Starbucks gift card for her birthday and she wanted to spend it on me. This is probably not what they had in mind, but I have the world’s sweetest kids.

Here’s what J presented to me. She’d made me birthday breakfast in bed:

Birthday breakfast for mom from a 9-year-old. Nutella on toast.

Toast, cut into shapes, spread with Nutella, with “Love Mom” and “Best Mom” inscribed in royal icing. Seriously, sweetest kids ever.

M was insistent that our Starbucks celebration be exclusively ours. Her sister was not invited. I told her that I’d arrange a solo playdate for J so that she and I could have our mommy-daughter date.

We happened to be leaving an after-school school-sponsored event when we had this conversation, so I decided to see whether I could locate my girls’ best friend’s family, whom we’d just seen. They were still there. I asked whether they’d be willing to have J over. They said that they could make it happen the very next day.

They would pick J up from school with their daughter while M went to after-school care. I could pick M up at the regular time. It would be nice for their daughter S to get to play with J, since Mom and Dad have been quite occupied welcoming their one-month-old into the world. (Aren’t they wonderful friends? I wouldn’t dream of asking anyone else with a newborn to watch my kid!)

A 9-year-old's preferences for a mommy-daughter date.

M and I had a lovely time. I took her out for dinner at Mimi’s Café and then we headed to Starbucks for dessert on her dime. She got a chocolate milk and brownie. I got a decaf soy java Frappucino and cookie. We talked the entire time, about her friends, what she’s been reading, the state of the dwarf planet Pluto, what I’ve been doing at work, and the importance of feathers in art.

Age nine feels like a watershed between little girlhood and tweendom.

I was not allowed her to kiss her in public, but M did want to sit in my lap. I was not allowed to take photos, but she took my arm everywhere we went. She told both the waitress and the barrista all that we were celebrating. She didn’t mention her sister to either of them, which was a first.

I loved this one-on-one time, in no small part because I knew that J was having an equally good time. It also helped that there wasn’t any time pressure on us to retrieve her. Both my daughters (and their friend) would get tired around the same time, so we would very naturally ending up picking J up in time for bed.

We’re planning a mommy-daughter date for me and J in the near future. M will head off for a playdate with a different friend.

Making quality one-on-one time is a challenge for any parent with more than one child, but it’s all the more challenging for a single parent of multiples. If you’ve ever wondered how you can help the single parent in your life, how about offering to watch one or both children? Don’t be offended if he or she doesn’t take you up on it right away, or ever. It really is the thought that counts.

I’d never been one to think of my birthday as anything but another day of the year, but this year, my girls made it truly special.

A Mother’s Heart

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Yesterday, a package arrived in the mail for my daughters from their father. It contained, among other things, the stuffed toys M had left at Daddy’s house. She had been waiting for their arrival since January, so you can imagine how excited she was.

She introduced her North Carolinian “children” to their Texan siblings.

“I’m so glad you’re all together, just in time for Mothers’ Day, which is also my birthday!”

In my 9-year-old’s mind, today as Mothers’ Day was as great a celebration of her as it is as her birthday. She has a mother’s heart.

Celebrate everyone who loves with a mother's heart this Mothers' Day. From http://hdydi.com

Happy Mothers’ Day to everyone who loves with a mother’s heart.

… to you who ever carried a child in your womb.

… to stepmothers, grandmothers, and aunts.

… to you who welcomed a child into your family through adoption.

… to you who opened your home to foster a child.

… to you who took a moment to show someone that they mattered.

… to you who have dreamed of a child who will some day be yours.

… to you whose child has left us too soon.

… to teachers who have touched the lives of students.

… to nurses who have been there in those most frightening of hours and celebrated every victory.

… to mentors who have nurtured the spirit, intellect, and hopes of a new generation.

… to therapists who have seen each child’s potential.

… to you who have crossed paths with a child and hoped you made a difference.

Happy Mothers’ Day to each of you.

 

 

This Mothers’ Day, Acknowledge Infertility

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For American Mothers’ Day 2006, I received the most wonderful gift: two 3-day-old daughters, doing better than anyone imagined they could, having been born at 33 weeks gestation.

Sadia with her newborns in the NICU. You'd never guess 9 years later that they had a rough start at 33 weeks gestation.

A week from today, on Mothers’ Day 2015, those tiny babies turn 9 years old. Halfway to college.

J and M in their dance attire. You'd never guess they were 7 weeks premature.

Motherhood has been more than I could have ever imagined. More joyous. More fulfilling. Surprisingly, easier than I expected.

There are many others out there, men and women alike, who have planned to have children, only to encounter the monster that is infertility. They would love to be celebrating Mothers’ Day with a child, but have faced obstacle after obstacle in making that child a reality.

Last year, we ran a series called (In)Fertility Tales. I encourage you to read these stories to understand the variety of challenges would-be parents face and how you can help. Hear from the blogger who explains why she remains anonymous when addressing the topic and the news anchor who had her whole community watching as she carried triplets, only to lose two of them.

I echo Angela‘s challenge to you from her post Honoring Moms Who Aren’t: Remembering the Bereaved or Infertile. This Mothers’ Day, don’t just honour those mothers whose children are with us. Remember too those who lost their children or are still waiting for them.

My tiny step to this end was to ask the church pastor’s wife to see whether “mothers at heart” could be given roses this coming Sunday, not just those who the outside world perceives as mothers. Let the roses be a balm and not a thorn, adding to the pain of infertile would-be mothers and loss moms.

Celebrate all mothers on Mothers' Day - even those who children have not yet arrived or have already left them.

Make-It Monday: Valentine’s Countdown Treasure Box

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(Yes, today is Sunday, not Monday.  Sorry to give any sleep-deprived mamas out there another reason to doubt their sanity.  [Been there!]  I would like to say that I was *ahead* of the game…but that’s just not the case.  I wish I’d done my crafting a week ago…but I didn’t.  So I’m posting this hot off the press…on Sunday, not Monday.)

For the last several years, my girlies have had SO much fun with their Advent calendars, counting down to Christmas.  I had visions of doing something fun for Valentine’s Day…but with my girls’ birthday immediately following Christmas (the first week of January), I just didn’t have it in me for another big project.

Vday1I happened upon some Pinterest inspiration, and I decided I was up for a week of counting down.  And I can’t wait to see my girls’ faces when they see this little surprise!

I bought a $1 pill box for each of them (check the dollar store or Walmart).  I am glad I found an extra-large one…it will be easier to fit tiny treasures.

I cut paper to cover each of the days, stamped out a little message, and Viola! this Valentine’s Day countdown was born.

I put in a Hershey’s Kiss for today.

Vday2

The balance of the week I plan to fill with some tiny treats (conversation hearts, M&Ms).  I also plan to put in a couple of activities…I’ll write something like “Make Valentine’s Chex Mix“…to mix things up a bit.

I love sharing holidays with my girlies!  What fun things do you have planned this week?  We’d love to see your ideas!

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.

Make-It Monday: Involving Your Children in Holiday Giving

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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.

Halloween and Fall Traditions

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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.

Halloween Costumes for Multiples

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Are you seeking inspiration for Halloween costume ideas? Check out our Pinterest board. If you’re already full of ideas, please share them with other parents in the comments!

Follow How Do You Do It? Blog’s board Halloween Costumes for Multiples on Pinterest.

If you’re all set on the costume front but want to check out holiday crafts and activities, we have a board for those too!

Follow How Do You Do It? Blog’s board Halloween Stuff – non-costume (HDYDI) on Pinterest.

Make-it Monday: Cookie Costumes

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Last year was my twins’ first Halloween. Big Sis was 3.5, and her brother and sister were 11 months old. It was my first chance to come up with coordinating costumes for my kiddos, and I ran with it! They were dressed as Cat in the Hat and Thing 1 and Thing 2– top hat, white gloves, blue wigs, and all. We went to Picture People for photos, and I now have irrefutable evidence of how cute they were. (To give you an idea, one picture poses Big Sis in an armchair reading The Cat in the Hat to her brother and sister seated on a bench.)

Obviously, I hope to continue these coordinating costumes for as many years as I possibly can.

This year, now that my eldest is almost 4.5, with many ideas of her own, I included her in choosing their Halloween costumes. I gave her some ideas, but ultimately we decided together. I suggested she be a chef, she changed that to baker. She wanted her siblings to be cupcakes, I changed that to chocolate chip cookies.

Baker’s costume was easy. I found a chef jacket and baker’s poofy white hat and ordered them on Amazon. But after scouring etsy and pinterest, I decided to make the chocolate chip cookies myself.

Materials for two cookie costumes:

1 yd light brown felt

2 pcs dark brown felt

1 yd batting

1 spool dark brown thread

2 yd dark brown thin ribbon

1 yd dark brown thick ribbon

I first found a template to use for my circle cutouts. After looking around the house, I found this SuperSeat base that had the diameter I was looking for, about 16.5 in. I traced it with a Sharpie and cut out 4 disks at a time from a 1/2 yard of felt that was folded over twice. I did it again with the other 1/2 yd.photo 1

Then I freehanded the chocolate chips to the dark brown felt. These came in 9×12 sheets. I pinned them together and cut them out 2-ply.photo 2

Next I randomly pinned the chocolate chips to four of the round circles. I could have attached them with a hot glue gun or even spray adhesive, but I chose to actually sew these on. It was time consuming, but felt much more solid.photo 3

In the middle of the other 4 round pieces I sewed on a 1/2 yd length of the thin ribbon, just attached at the center about 6 inches. These are the straps to tie on the sides. On top I sewed in the shoulder straps, about 9 inches of the thick ribbon each. (I heat sealed all the ribbon ends so they don’t fray.)image

Then I pinned the chocolate chip side to the strap side, wrong sides facing out, making sure the side ties line up. I decided to sew all the way around instead of leaving a side open for stuffing. That’s because I’m horrible at hand-sewing, and I knew that with my skill the cookie would turn out lopsided.image_1

Instead, I chose to cut a slit under the strap, and pulled the cookie inside out through it. I did end up hand-sewing these closed, but there would have been no problem leaving them open.image_3

I stuffed it using the batting I cut from the same SuperSeat template, after trimming it about an inch around for seam allowance. I did this four times. My guess is that they took about 4 hours over three separate nights.image_2

The completed cookies consist of four cookie pads, one for the front and back of each twin, attached at the top with ribbon, and tied on the sides with ribbon. Here’s Baby Boy sporting his new Halloween costume. Baby Girl decided not to cooperate. photo 4

How cute are they? I’m just giddy thinking about Big Sis in her baker’s costume, holding the hands of her chocolate chip cookie brother and sister! Next step, booking a photography session.

lunchldyd has her fingers crossed that all her kids cooperate for another set of adorable pictures. She is grateful that her current part-time teaching schedule is allowing her to think creatively and enjoy time for her crafty pursuits.

Relaxation Does Not Cause Pregnancy

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I’ve heard my share of silly comments about being a mother of twins. You know what no one has ever said to me? “You must have been really relaxed to conceive two at once!”

So why do people feel the need to tell infertile women, “Just relax and it’ll happen!”?

Relaxation does not cause pregnancy. If it did, we’d have fertility spas and massage parlours, not clinics.

Just don't tell an infertile woman that the secret to getting pregnant is relaxing!Still, there seems to be this undeniable urge to respond to an infertile woman’s concerns about her inability to conceive with, “Relax and it will happen.”

I think it stems from our cultural discomfort with the idea of infertility. If the infertile woman stops talking to us about her infertility, we, her listeners, are the ones who get to relax. As long as we don’t hear about it, we don’t have to feel her anguish. After all, if she’s not talking about it, we don’t have to know about it. Infertility is silent as long as the infertile are silent.

“Relax and it will happen” silences those who try to speak out.

My challenge to you is to refuse to relax. Refuse to be silent. Own your infertility. Own your fertility. Fight for the motherhood you want. Mothers don’t relax when it comes to protecting their children. And mothers-at-heart don’t relax when it comes to making those children a reality.

Forget “Relax and it will happen”. Fight to make it happen.


Infertility TalesThis post is part of Infertility Tales 2014, How Do You Do It?‘s series to raise awareness about infertility and its impact on families. Please take a moment to read through some of the personal stories of loss, pain, fertility treatments, and success.

Motherhood is a Romance

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Motherhood is a romance: This single mom sees Valentine's Day as a celebration of love: her love for her children. I was having lunch the other day with a dear friend. He recently came out of a 5 year relationship and was talking about the awkwardness of being back on the dating scene.

“There’s thing whole thing,” he said, “about what to on Valentine’s Day. Or even whether I’m supposed to be wondering what to do on Valentine’s Day.”

I realized that I hadn’t thought about Valentine’s Day in those terms at all. At this point in my journey of single motherhood, a romantic relationship is not on my radar. I’ve been amped up about Valentine’s Day. I’ve been having a grand time plotting with my girls to help them make or buy a gift for Sister with her twin knowing what it is. I’ve been staying up far too late at night making heart shaped sweet treats for my daughters’ Girl Scout troop and classmates.

wpid-Photo-Feb-12-2014-710-AM.jpg

The love I celebrate on Valentine’s Day and every other day is my love for my children, their love for me, their love for each other.

I’m not saying that my friend doesn’t feel as strongly about his sons as I do about my daughters. He was a single dad for many years, and not the I’ll-call-my-kids-once-in-a-while kind of single dad either. He was the custodial parent, the one getting phone calls from the school, the one coaching soccer games and kissing boo-boos. But his boys are older now and likely uninterested in spending Valentine’s Day with their father.

I felt a little odd thinking these thoughts, that this day devoted to romance is to me another Mothers’ Day. I felt like perhaps I was disrespectful of those of you who have rich romantic lives with your partners.

Then Liggy posted this amazing gift on my Facebook wall and I felt like it was okay… Well, first I cried. At my desk at work. Once I was done crying, I felt like it was okay for my daughters to be the loves of my life.

Because motherhood is a romance.