Food Fight

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Categories Behavior, Development, Family, Feeding, Mommy Issues, Solid Foods, ToddlersTags , , 10 Comments

Our kids were glorious eaters. They would try anything. Sag paneer? Loved it. BBQ brisket? Couldn’t get enough. Ozzy could hold his own, but it was Abel who was the real superstar. We even nicknamed him Mikey. The kid would try anything and moan for more. We would hear parents complaining about their finicky kids and we would just shake our heads and count our blessings.

And then our boys turned one.

It’s been a steady downhill spiral since that day. Actually, it was more like a face plant you didn’t see coming. One day they were chowing down and the next day they wouldn’t touch a thing. My husband and I stood there scratching our heads, trying to reason this out. Surely it’s because they’ve been sick with colds. Oh wait, their molars! Yes, it’s because those pesky molars are coming in. But when the phase lasted one month, then two months – now going on four months – I realized something more was at work here. Our wonderful eaters had gone picky. Or a more accurate way of putting it, our babies had become toddlers. It’s as simple as that.

Since my frustration at meal times had also taken a downward spiral, I decided I needed to educate myself on ways to get my boys to eat. They are clearly not malnourished, and still have voracious appetites for all fruit, cheese, frozen waffles, tortillas and veggie sausage. But I felt like their diets were clearly lacking protein and veggies and I was determined to add these things back into their repertoire. Taking the advice of LauraC right here on HDYDI, I set off for my local Barnes and Noble in search of the magic bullet.

I ended up buying Child of Mine and gobbling it up in one sitting. It’s always so affirming to read your experiences, your every day, in black in white. I learned that my kids were, indeed, typical toddlers and I was a typical parent doing the typical things to get my kids to eat. Or rather to not eat. I learned that my bullishness and obsession with getting them to digest meat and vegetables were, more than likely, contributing and/or enhancing the problem. We were locked in a power struggle and I was going to lose. Every. Single. Time. Oh, and to my dismay, there is no magic bullet. And there is absolutely no way of “getting” your child to eat anything. It’s more about letting go and trusting that your child will eat what she needs to eat. And exposing them to good food so they can trust and learn to eat the wonderful things the world has to offer.

So I immediately set out to change my ways. Here’s the jist. It’s my responsibility to provide the what (a healthy variety of foods that we all eat), the when (three structured meals and two planned snacks) and the where (at the table in the form of family meals). It’s their responsibility to decide how much they want to eat and whether they want to eat at all. That’s the formula, plain and simple. After that you just need to take a step back, enjoy your meal, and allow your kids to do what they will with their food. No catering to them. No short-order cooking. No applause for touching a vegetable. No begging or pleading or putting a fork full of tender pot roast in front of their mouths.

So it’s been a week and I’m proud to say that we’ve had family dinner every single night. It’s been no small feat getting a homemade, complete dinner on the table by 5:30 pm. The first two nights I have to admit I was scared. I cooked like a whirling dervish, the kitchen was a wreck, and the food tasted so-so. But then I started figuring out good 30 minute meals that were yummy, accessible to 16 month olds, and satisfying to us. But my biggest fear was leaving the boys to their own devices for this long. To my delight, they are perfectly capable of entertaining themselves, with limited supervision, for upwards of 45 minutes! I put on The Backyardigans (or Sesame Street), which usually holds their attention for about 3 minutes. And then they just run around the house, coming in and out of the kitchen, swiffering, mowing our hardwood floors with their lawnmower, playing with their pint-sized pots and pans, etc. I think they seriously dig doing their own thing while I do mine. They enjoy being just as busy and productive as I do.

To my surprise, dinner time is actually…fun! They get the same things on their plates that we do, plus we always have a fruit salad and some form of bread and butter (since, if worse comes to worse, they will almost always eat this). Some nights they won’t even look at the “new” food. Some days they venture a finger in the chicken stir fry. There have even been a few bites – not that we were paying attention! There have also been a few meals that Oskar hasn’t eaten a thing. And we just have to respect that decision (with gritted teeth!). It’s certainly been a transition, but one that I hope sticks. Because I see progress already, but more than that, we are starting a solid ritual of breaking bread together at least once a day. What better way for the boys to learn good manners, respect, delicious food, conversation, exercising their own judgement and quality family time? Solid things, indeed.

The most important thing in all of this is letting go of my own expectations. It’s an important lesson, especially for a parent of toddlers, or a parent of any aged child for that matter. To have confidence in what you have provided – the offerings, the lessons, the foundation. And then to let go and trust that your child/ren will make the best decision for themselves. Because when it comes down to it, isn’t that what parenting is all about?

Leaving you with my favorite, no hassle dinner from this past week:

Lamb Kafta

1 lb ground lamb

2 minced green onions

A handful of chopped fresh parsley (or a few good shakes of the dried kind)

1 Tbsp paprika

1 Tbsp ground cinnamon

1 Tbsp ground cumin

1-2 Tsp Salt/pepper (depending on how seasoned you like your meat)

1 Tbsp water (makes the meat juicy and moist)

Mix all ingredients together, form into patties or balls, and broil for 7 minutes on each side. You can even line a baking dish with foil for a no-mess clean up. Serve with warm pita, plain yogurt and a salad of tomatoes, cucumber, onion and feta. Yum!

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Pinching Pennies and Tightening Our Belts…It’s All About Saving More and Spending Less

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Categories Family, Mommy IssuesTags , , 6 Comments

Anyone out there remember learning about Victory Gardens? According to Wikipedia,

Victory gardens, also called war gardens or food gardens for defense, were vegetable, fruit and herb gardens planted at private residences in the United States, Canada, and United Kingdom during World War I and World War II to reduce the pressure on the public food supply brought on by the war effort. In addition to indirectly aiding the war effort these gardens were also considered a civil “morale booster” — in that gardeners could feel empowered by their contribution of labor and rewarded by the produce grown. Making victory gardens became a part of daily life on the home front.

I have been thinking about those gardens lately…little plots of dirt and seed that united our nation. The reason why I was thinking about those gardens was because we as a nation seem to be facing a new challenge together: finding ways to stretch our dollars. There is no getting around it, the price of EVERYTHING is increasing, and people are changing the way they live their lives, much as the gardeners did. I truly believe that saving money and being thrifty and conscientious of our dollars and cents is going to be the new “in” thing. You can quote me on that the first time a celebrity announces they are clipping coupons!

I wanted to address several issues in this post, and if our readers are interested in reading more, I will address some of the more specific ways we MoM’s can save money in future posts.

Let’s start with this: Conflict over money is the number one cause of conflict and divorce. Yep, number 1! And with gas prices rapidly rising, grocery prices skyrocketing, and all of the child-related expenses (times 2 or more!) we face every day, living life is pricey.

As a stay at home MoM, or a paycheck collecting MoM, now is the time to keep your eyes wide open. It is not time to shy away from the truth of your family finances. Regardless of who pays the bills in your household, I believe it best for both husband and wife to be aware of the money coming in, and going out. Simple budgetting and regular discussions about your financial needs and wants will go a long way toward making your marriage with your financial partner strong.

Regardless of your current earning status, we as MoM’s are stewards of our family finances. More often than not, we are the main shoppers for our family. We have tremendous “buying power.” How we choose to spend our money makes us the most powerful consumers in America! (okay, maybe I made that up, but I bet it is close to true!)

Another lesson that I have been learning lately is to practice contentment. It is so easy to get caught up in the idea that things=happiness. According to the huge pile of “things” in my basement, awaiting their time to shine at my upcoming yard sale, “things” DO NOT=happiness. Nope, they actually=more dusting! I think I may have to stop watching HGTV, as that channel does not help me to be content!

What are your current money worries? Do finances play a large role in your daily life? Would you like to read more about this topic? What money saving topic would you like to see addressed?

 

 

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Getting out without the kids

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Categories Family, Mommy Issues, RelationshipsTags 5 Comments

Recently I was my dear friend’s Matron of Honor. Her wedding – while an event I was over-the-moon excited about – presented a new challenge for us. We had to leave our 10-month old twins (and their big sister) in the care of someone else for an entire weekend. 

Thankfully I had reserved my parents for this weekend coverage months in advance. At the time that they were asked I explained it shouldn’t be “too much work” because the boys should be sleeping through the night at that point. HA! As the time approached for the big day, I started to panic because on any given night at least one of them is up and needing attention.  My parents assured me that it was all right and they could deal with the middle of the night wake-up calls. After all, for them, it was just temporary.

For me, the build up to this weekend had me nauseous. I was so nervous that the children were going to freak out that both of their parents were gone at the same time. To further complicate things, all three ended up being sick and I was wracked with guilt for leaving them. How could they survive? (and by “they” I mean the kids AND my parents!)

But you know what? Everyone did.

Besides the awesome time of watching my friend get married, the true bonus of the weekend for me was getting a chance to reconnect with my husband. When we are at home, our lives and conversations revolve around our children. Especially since the twins have been born, we are both always “on duty” and sometimes at the end of the day, it’s hard to turn that off. But once the children were removed from the situation for a period of time, we were able to talk about things that had nothing to do with being parents. I love my kids, but sometimes, it’s nice to remember that couple we were before they came along too.

We were both able to return home refreshed (what a difference sleeping for two nights in a row can make!) and back on the same “team”, as it were.

The weekend was just another learning experience. Add it to my previous lessons learned to take time for myself and to get out of the house WITH the kids. Now that I know everyone can survive it, I will be making a more concerted effort to re-connect with my husband outside of our roles as “parents” when possible.

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Ask the Moms, part 14 – help for the new mom

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Categories Ask the Moms, Family, Infants5 Comments

In the spirit of Birth Story Week, I thought we’d tackle a question we’ve all gotten from time to time: “what kind of help did you have when the babies came home?” This was one people seemed to ask me constantly when I was pregnant, and again when the kids were newborns. When I was pregnant, it really annoyed me: this assumption that no mere mortal could possibly care for twins on her own. The reality is that you do need help, but not necessarily in taking care of babies. It’s all of the other stuff! (Though help taking care of babies isn’t a bad thing…) Newborns are time-consuming and exhausting, who can be bothered to go to the grocery store? Following is a roundup from the HDYDI moms on helpful people and things when the babies come home.

Help, the paid variety

One thing we cannot recommend highly enough is, if at all possible, to hire a cleaning lady. Many of us have someone come every other week. A luxury? Sure. But with two babies to take care of, I found it worth every single penny to know that my bathroom wasn’t going to get gross, my kitchen would be cleaned, and the rugs vacuumed. If you can pinch together the $50 or $75 every other week, you’ll be beyond happy that you did. I was not a great housekeeper before my kids were born, so there was no reason to think I’d get any better at it with two newborns to take care of. With the cleaning lady, at least I know I’ll get fresh sheets on my bed and no dust bunnies that my kids can practice their pincer grasp on.

On the childcare front, there are a number of options out there. Some people hire a nanny or babysitter, especially if there is an older child in the family who will need some attention, or if you’re going to go back to work and will have this person take over when you go. Especially in urban areas, I’ve heard of “newborn nurses,” who will come and help teach you some newborn care, or actually come and move in with you for two weeks or a month (this is what my mom was suggesting for me… it didn’t happen). Alternately, there are postpartum doulas, who can serve as sort of mom-support, newborn care, lactation consultant, and all-around wonderful person. There are also night nanny services, where someone shows up at about 9pm and stays until 6am, so you and your husband/partner can sleep. Not surprisingly, that isn’t cheap (about $300/night here in the Boston area), but the people who do it really swear by it. There’s really nothing like a good night’s rest to make you feel like a new person.

And if the “professionals” aren’t in the budget, get creative! Hire a dog walker a few times a week so your beloved pooch isn’t so neglected (and is therefore less likely to poop in the dining room). Pay the 13-year-old next door a few dollars to play in the yard with your older child, mow your lawn, or even watch the babies for 20 minutes so you can go take a shower.

Help, the unpaid variety

Family, friends, church folks, and even your trusty twin club can provide a good source of volunteer help. The trick with that, along the lines of “you get what you pay for,” is making sure it’s actually helpful. With visitors, especially family and friends, I’m a big fan of setting up expectations ahead of time. Make a rule: you can’t hold a baby until you’ve done something helpful like fold laundry or bring dinner. The last thing you need is guests to entertain, so don’t be shy about putting people to work. A trick that I got from fellow HDYDI mom Rebecca (that she got from another twin mom, and that we’ve passed along to everyone we know) is to post a list of chores in your house. It can be a running to-do list, a daily list, or whatever works for you. Put everything on it: walking the dog, taking out the recycling, making lunch, or emptying the dishwasher. The list is great, because people really do want to be helpful, but sometimes you feel awkward asking your brother-in-law to wash dishes. This way, when someone asks “what can I do to help?”, you can just point to the list! This also lets people pick their own chore. OK, so maybe no one will pick “clean the litter box,” but at least it’s a start. Oh, and put checkboxes on the list. People love checkboxes.

Another important tip, when getting help from family and friends, is to be specific in your requests. If someone kindly asks if you need groceries, don’t just say yes, give them a list. Lest your well-meaning bachelor friend arrive with nothing other than chips and beer. When someone offers to bring dinner (hallelujah!), try to have it occur on a day when you don’t already have your mom cooking for you.

Try to spread out your visiting help as much as possible. I know there’s a website that helps schedule family and friends, but for the life of me I can’t find it. In my case, all of the newly-minted grandparents live a minimum of 1000 miles away. While none of them wanted to wait an extra moment to meet the babies, we did try to spread things out as much as possible. Having too many people at once can be a sort of inverse relationship to helpfulness. When there’s a bunch of people, suddenly you have guests instead of helpers. Not cool.

On the issue of having people stay with you, that’s an entirely personal choice. It depends on the type of relationship you have with the visitors (i.e. your sister or your mother-in-law), the available space in your home, and your overall nature with regard to having other people in your space. Lots of people have their mom camp out in a guest room for the first week or month. The rule in our house was that, if it was just one person visiting (i.e. my mom, or M’s mom), they were welcome to stay in our guest room. Any more than that, and we asked that people find a hotel or stay with someone else. But that’s me, I don’t really love having a lot of people in my space. Again, early expectations were key. We set up that “rule” many months before the babies arrived, so there were no emotional debates when the time came.

One more incredibly important bit of “help” that I nearly forgot to mention: if your husband/partner/baby-daddy has any kind of leave or vacation that (s)he can take off from work, DO IT. Dads (or second mommies, for that matter) need to learn early on how to be comfortable and take care of their kids, and the earlier that can start, the better. I think it’s easy, for a variety of reasons, for dads to be pushed aside. They let any feelings of inexperience or insecurity keep them from getting in there and getting their hands dirty. If you want dad to be involved, competent, capable, and engaged as a parent, it starts from the get-go. Don’t let your mother box her son-in-law out.

Too much of a good thing?

I’m going to raise a somewhat controversial/debatable point: I do think there’s such a thing as too much help. It’s not an absolute quantitative measurement, but I think it exists. While I probably had a low-to-moderate amount of help, the benefit of going solo when they were just over 3 weeks old was that I rapidly developed my confidence and independence. And while it might have been nice to have more help, I have also met people who had a constant “staff” of family at the house for 2-3 months, and who still feel unable to take their kids outside on their own, or whose husbands don’t feel capable of being at home alone with the kids for a few hours. And that, I think, is too bad. The only way to figure out how to make it work is to give it a try. Do I sometimes wish my mom lived nearby so I could have extra hands? Absolutely. But I’ve made it work for the last nine months, and so can you. Nannies and night nurses and doulas and lactation consultants and mothers are all wonderful resources, and you should use whatever is going to work best for your family, emotionally and financially. But don’t give into the hype that you “can’t possibly do it on your own.” Help is great, and necessary. Just don’t let it turn into a crutch that leaves you fearful of standing on your own two feet.

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Eating Out

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Categories Family, FeedingTags 7 Comments

I have always loved to eat out. At the ripe old age of six, my favorite restaurant was Long John Silver’s (for the hush puppies.) When I got to middle school, my brother, sister and I would read stacks of books to earn our “Book It” pin and a free personal pan pizza at Pizza Hut. In high school, my brother and I would hang out at Taco Bell, literally paying for our meals with quarters, as we were cheap, and their food was cheaper!

When Jay and I began dating, we ate out all the time. I was a poor college student, he was an attorney  who rarely cooked (we are 5 years apart), and since we lived an hour apart, eating out became a natural way for us to see each other. We ate all kinds of wonderful food, and some basic comfort foods.  We ate at swanky places requiring a coat and tie, and we ate at Mom and Pop dives. It was a fun (but fattening) time.

Now that I am a mom, I have noticed something about restraunts. A lot of restaurants, even ones that cater to families, are really not happy to see you tromping into their place, children in tow. Before going to college, I waitressed. It was HARD work. And while some families with small children would stiff me on the tip, others were quite kind and generous. And I tried my best not to get annoyed at all of the food on the floor, as I was going to sweep the floor anyways.

This morning, the kids and I drove Jay into work and dropped him off at his building downtown. The traffic has been crummy due to construction, so we hopped in the carpool lane and made good time. The only way we were able to get out of the house so early, was to skip breakfast. So I decided to take the kids to Eat ‘N Park (similar to Bob Evans, and is a 24/7 diner) for breakfast!

The hostess was sweet, seating us and showing me where I could store my stroller. I got the kids in the highchairs, coats off, bibs on, sippy cups out and place mats pushed out of the way. I sit down, cut up the strawberries I had brought, and let the kids start munching away. I decide to go with the breakfast buffet, knowing that my kids are NOT great at waiting for food. I knew that one child could eat with me for free, and that I could pay extra for the other. But this way, the food is immediately available, and at the rate Faith was inhaling her strawberries, I had better find food STAT.

I place my order and ask for a cup of decaf coffee. I grab some food off of the bar, and start feeding the kids. It was then that I started to notice that our waitress kinda disappeared. I really needed more napkins, and a glass of water, but no biggie. I begin inhaling the scraps of food that the children left me, as they are voracious eaters in restaurants. I can feel lots of eyeballs watching us, trying to figure it out…finally, an older lady wanders over and says “I just have to ask…they’re not twins are they?!”

I reply that yes, they are, and she walks away with a big smile on her face. I listen to the senior set talk politics, and an obnoxious crew of 4 whine about their construction jobs.  And I see their waitress visiting them over and over to refill coffee cups, wipe up spills and shuffle away the dirty dishes. When my waitress makes her appearance, she is abrupt, though not unkind. She wasn’t a bad waitress, she just didn’t seem to want to wait on us. And that is the feeling I get EVERY time I take my kids out somewhere…like we are an inconvenience.

Granted, the kids make a huge mess. However, I am armed with baby wipes and a small bottle of Clorox Anywhere spray, and I ALWAYS clean up the tables, highchairs and floors before we leave. I also have increased my tip percentile, to 20-25%, knowing that we are harder to serve than a family with older children. Why then, do I feel like an undesirable? When don’t people want to wait on us?

Has anyone else had this experience? What am I missing? Does bad food service come with the territory of having children?

Share your thoughts in the comments section! :)

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Ask the Moms, part 12 – more kids after multiples

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Categories Ask the Moms, Family, Relationships, Singletons9 Comments

Random person: “Oh my goodness, are they twins?”
Me: “Yes, yes they are.”
RP: “A boy and a girl?”
Me: “Yep.”
RP: “Are these your first?”
Me: “Yep.” (wait for it…)
RP: “Oh, how great! Then you’re all done!”
Me: (half-smile, non-committal mumble, keep walking…)

We all get the question: are you going to have any more? The random strangers on the street who simply must talk to us… if you have two boys, you’re asked if you’ll try for a girl. Two girls, if you’ll try for a boy. And boy/girl, apparently that satisfies the universe and it’s assumed you’re all done.

And don’t even get us started on the dads… as much as it annoys me when people make the assumption that I’m all done after my first-time-out boy/girl twins, my husband goes and volunteers the idea to random passers-by. “Yep, and we’re done! Done, done, done!” Nice, honey. One of the HDYDI husbands (Hi, S.M.!) even responded to the idea of this post in haiku form:

Children after twins:
Maybe when they’re older, then
We’ll have time for sex.

In all seriousness, I think everyone has confronted the idea of whether or not to have more kids after multiples. There’s a million different factors to that decision. For one, I think we all have in our heads the “ideal” number of children we always wanted to have. Some people want big families, the more the merrier. Some could barely be talked into having one. And then, the reality of being a parent sets in, and sometimes that “ideal” number changes. Maybe you discover being a mom is the greatest thing, ever, and you just want more. Or maybe you come to the crashing realization of how hard it is, and maybe just these two will be plenty.

Having a set of multiples adds several new dimensions to the discussion, and not just in the “more than you bargained for” sense. First, there’s the issue of pregnancy. Many of us do not have fond memories of our swollen feet, ankles and legs, of bedrest and high blood pressure, of the aches and pains and stress that go along with a multiple pregnancy. For those who had “spontaneous” twins, there’s the fear: what if it’s twins again? (Um, hi Laura N.) Even the ones with identical twins, who have no higher likelihood of having a second set… still, we wonder. Will lightning strike twice? For those who had to deal with infertility, there’s the question: do I want to go through all of that again? The hormones, the shots, the stress… Maybe, just maybe, we’ll be one of those couples who has a surprise pregnancy post-IVF. Wouldn’t that be nice? And finally, many of us feel as though, if there are any more kids on the horizon, maybe we’ll wait longer than we might have if our first were a singleton.

Many of us, for whom our twins are our first kids, have dreams of experiencing a different kind of parenthood. We’d like to see life through they eyes of a singleton parent. Wouldn’t it be so much easier? Oh, the cute single strollers we’d have! (Sadly, I think we’d be disappointed to learn that even singleton newborns are challenging, but whatever…) There’s also the idea of being a more experienced mom, and the things we imagine we’d do better/differently if we “knew then what we know now.” Again, it probably wouldn’t all go so well as we imagine, but it’s a nice dream.

There’s a million reasons people have for wanting more kids, or for being d-o-n-e DONE. But as with many things, it’s important for you and your husband/partner to be on the same page about whatever decision you make. Certainly, we don’t always agree! Remember that moms can have some crazy, instinctual, hormonal stuff that causes you to block out how much you hated being pregnant, and eventually make you want to do it again. Evolution is smart, that way. Your husband does not necessarily have the same selective memory, and remembers quite clearly how much you swore at him when he was trying to help you roll your enormous ass off the couch. One way or another, if there’s disagreement on how many kids to have, you need to sit down and talk about it. You need to figure out not only why your husband, for example, does not want any more kids, but also why you do. Self-examination is a good thing. Forcing or tricking a spouse into something is not. After all, you’re going to need him around to help with all of those extra kids…

And hey, sometimes surprises happen. Sometimes the passage of time softens the edges of your memory, and you think having more kids wouldn’t be so bad. Sometimes, even dads change their minds. As M and I were discussing this issue (for the record, his vote is usually NO NO NO, and mine is “ask me when they’re older”), and talking about the fact that there’s a halfway decent (I’ve heard 8-12%) chance we’d have another set of twins, we shuddered a little. And then he said, only mostly joking…

But, having them one at a time… doesn’t that seem a little… inefficient?

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Set Point

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Categories Family, Mommy Issues, RelationshipsTags 8 Comments

I’ve always been a big proponent of the treating-twins-as-unique-individuals philosophy. I never dress the boys in matching outfits. I never call them “the twins.” I try to always respect their individual (and very different) ways of approaching life. I think I’ve taken it so far as to think of them more in terms of brothers and not twins. And then life, in typical fashion, teaches me a thing or two about my boys and my perspective on their relationship.

A few nights ago, my husband and I spied on the boys as they slept. When they were younger, we’d spy every night before going to sleep. But in recent months, our voyeurism has tapered off enough that I had – I guess – forgotten how they slept. It blew me away to find them sleeping in perfect mirror image to one another. Perfect mirror image!

This one experience made me pause about my aforementioned philosophy. I remembered being pregnant and reading about all the amazing connections, characteristics and dynamics that twins have and thinking how lucky we are that we’ll get to experience it. Secret languages (in our house, known as baby Chinese), knowing looks and laughs (that I’m not privy to), touching each other’s faces and hands with the curtain in between (remembering in utero experiences?), the crazy empathy they have for one another. These are all incredible things; and for the most part, only grace relationships of multiples.

And so there I found myself, standing over their cribs, staring at their perfectly joined configuration and holding back my tears of love, joy and total adoration for my twins. Because for better and for worse, my boys are not just brothers. As unique and individual as they are separately, they form an incredibly special set. They have a bond I will never be able to fully comprehend, molded at the most primal level. And I suddenly realized that I should not only respect this, but also celebrate it.

I will, without a doubt, continue to emphasize their unique attributes and their sense of individual self. It won’t be hard, after all, Abel and Oskar are night and day from one another. But I think a new chapter has opened up for me in terms of not just loving my two boys for who they are, but also loving my “twins” for who they are together. Striking that balance between the sum and the parts. Which also shouldn’t be hard to do, because if what they say is true, and the sum is greater than the parts, then my heart just might explode from all the love.

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Resisting Temptation

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Categories Family, Infants, Mommy IssuesTags , , 6 Comments

This post was inspired during an exchange between my husband and myself at approximately 3:45 am. The scene was something like this:

Aaron wakes up with a wet diaper, crying. I pick him up, change him and just about calm him down when Brady starts whimpering.
Daddy: “let’s get him up and give him a bottle, that way he’ll sleep in in the morning.”
Mommy: “No.”
Daddy (dripping with sarcasm): “Right, because that would just be too easy.”

Exactly my point. It would be too easy. Tonight. But what about tomorrow night? And the night after?

When you have children, often there is some discussion amongst the parents about how to handle various situations: crying in the middle of the night, feeding issues, discipline, etc. Plans are made and a consensus is (hopefully) reached. You vow to be consistent and stand your ground.

However, into every parent’s life, a lack of sleep will creep, or impatience, or a bad day, or even just plain laziness. It is in these times that is more important than ever to stick by each other and keep the one who is tempted to take the “easy” road on track.

With a singleton child, you can recover from these lapses a little easier. Two of you to one of them – the parental suffering can be minimized slightly. But with multiples, not only are the parents (often) equally exhausted, but there are more “trouble” times to go around. And let’s not forget, when you are dealing with multiples, you are not only setting the tone for one child, your actions/reactions to situations are actually setting the tone for both.

Would I like to occasionally give in at 3:45 and give the attention-starved, crying baby a bottle? Yes, I would. Especially on a work night. But then what happens when he wakes up the next night? And his brother too.

And then what happens when they get a bit older and they decide they “can’t like” what I’ve made them for dinner (a phase we are just exiting with our 3-year old). If we are tired of hearing this and finally cave to one and give him something else, doesn’t that encourage them BOTH to pull the same stunt the next night? 

How long can the “easy” route actually be considered “easy”?

I guess my point is that with multiples, Mommy and Daddy really need to work together to help each other through these moments of parenting weakness. Sticking to your guns is hard enough with one.  Double (or triple) that and you need reinforcements. Always remember that you are a team. 

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Ask the Moms, part 11 – schedules and visitors

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Categories Ask the Moms, Family, Sleep2 Comments

A quick post today for Ashley, who asked a related question to last week’s post on scheduling.  Once you’ve decided to be the schedule nut, how do you get family and friends on board? Especially when guests are visiting from out of town, or when you’re a guest in someone else’s home. A question near and dear to my heart, with my mom visiting us this week (hence the short post)!

Whether you’re the visitor or the visited, family and friends who aren’t as lucky as you are to spend every waking moment with your children are desperate to get their hands on them.  Hold them, pass them around, sing silly songs, and make ridiculous comments. Sleeping just gets in the way of play time! As the mom who knows her kids best, it can sometimes be a struggle to decide where to draw the lines.

I think the first thing you need to ask is how sensitive to schedule changes are your kids, and how do they deal with new situations.  If you have kids who are really cranky if their morning nap is less than 90 minutes long, or who get easily overwhelmed with a lot of new faces, then it’s probably worth it to step in and be a somewhat forceful regulator.  If you know that your overstimulated child is going to completely lose it if she doesn’t get a break, then insist on what needs to be done, much to the dismay of your visiting aunts.  If, on the other hand, your kids are a little more go-with-the-flow and seem to be having a good time, then maybe let go of the fact that you usually limit a certain activity to 15 minutes and let grandma have a good time.

The other thing you need to consider is your own family dynamics.  Is an overtired toddler easier to deal with than your petulant sister-in-law? Maybe you just decide it’s more worth it to keep a little bit of peace with the extended family and let your kid sleep in the car on the way home.  On the other hand, are you just finding it a little difficult to step out of the role of “daughter” and stand up to your mom when she’s in town? Time to step into your mama bear shoes and be assertive, even if it means giving orders instructions to your own mother, and insisting they be followed.

Another tip that can help is to set up expectations before the visit.  If your kids have a particular schedule that you think needs to be adhered to, start mentioning it (don’t overdo it, but bring it up) well in advance.  That way you aren’t suddenly snatching your child away for an unexpected nap, right when everyone was having a good time.  Talk about activities you’ll be doing together, and work on planning it around the naps.  Better to deal with any of this ahead of time, instead of arguing about dinner time when you arrive.

Really, we all have to find a balance between two competing needs.  The first is to pick your battles.  If you’re on vacation, sometimes schedules get messed up.  It happens.  If your kids go to bed an hour later every now and then, sure, maybe there will be some adjusting that needs to be done when you get back home, but everyone will be just fine.  While predictability is important, so is flexibility.  On the other hand, remember that, you’re the mommy and you say so.  If you’ve had trouble standing up for yourself in the past, it’s time to put that behind you.  Be firm on what your kids need, and if it’s something that cannot be compromised, then don’t compromise.

Alright, my mom is back from her coffee run and the kids are ready to get up from their nap.  Good luck, out there!

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Lessons Learned from Jon and Kate Plus 8

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Categories Family, Famous Twins, Higher-Order Multiples, Multiples in the News7 Comments

In addition to the “How do you do it?” and “You must have your hands full!” I am now daily getting asked “Do you watch that show with the people with the twins and sextuplets?”

My answer, “Absolutely!”

I, along with a lot of other people, am totally charmed by the TLC/Discovery Health program “Jon and Kate Plus 8.”  In our area (Pittsburgh), Jon and Kate airs on Monday evenings. And you better believe that I will be plunked down on my couch with a bowl of popcorn and about 5 loads of laundry to fold, every Monday night. 

In case you haven’t watched this fascinating reality show, Jon and Kate Gosselin met and married and conceived their twin girls, Mady and Cara, via IUI (Intrauterine Insemination) and ovulation induction medication  (ie Clomid).  And as the story is told, they decided to try for “just one more,” and ended up with 6! Kate was originally pregnant with 7, but one sac failed to mature.

Last year, the tag line was “We have two 6 year olds, and six 2 year olds.” The older girls, are fraternal twins Cara and Mady. The sextuplets are split, three girls, three boys. They are Hannah, Leah, Alexis, Joel, Collin and Aaden. The kids are now seven and three.

The Gosselins live in central Pennsylvania, and Kate quit her job as a nurse to stays at home with her houseful of children. Recent episodes have been about their travels as a family (Disney, Utah, the Pittsburgh Zoo) and a day dedicated to each of the kids individually. The episodes dedicated to the kids, were calm and enjoyable to watch. The trip episodes were loud, chaotic and constantly interspersed with a child crying or Jon and Kate snapping at each other. With 8 kids, I can only imagine the stress level they must be under at all times.  Another quote from the show: “While the stress of raising multiples doesn’t always bring out the best in us, we’re a family, and this is our life.”

Can I get an Amen?! For sure, the stress of raising multiples does not always bring out the best in me! And although I am not an angry person, I can only imagine how I would be portrayed if cameras were in my home day in and day out!

My fascination with this family runs deep…I don’t think I have missed an episode yet! For $13.95, you can purchase a copy of their book, Multiple Blessings:Surviving to Thriving With Twins and Sextuplets.

And now I leave you with “Tips For a Smooth Household” by Kate Gosselin, the multiples expert herself, taken from the Discovery Health Channel website.

Tip #1 Organize
As a mother of sextuplets and twins, one of the best methods for keeping a family organized is lists! No one has the memory of an elephant! Keep a constant running list of “To Dos” and then cross things off as they are completed! My to-do lists consists of meals for the week, which loads of laundry need to be done, and which parts of the house needs attention. Lists will keep you and your family organized.

Tip #2 Shop on a Budget
Shopping for a family of 10 means planning ahead and staying on a budget. The good news is that you can have healthy, home cooked delicious (even organic!) meals for a large family. Look for sales! Watch the sale papers and take advantage of store promotions, coupons and rainchecks. Keep a constant running list of things that are on sale and that you need at the store from week to week. This will avoid buying things that you don’t need. It’s also good to stock up on items that you use a lot of and that are on sale!

Tip #3 Prepare for Outings
Plan ahead! If outings are well thought out in advance, it will allow for a better time for all! Always take plenty of drinks, snacks, clothing and supplies. Make a mental plan of how the day will unfold and then adjust it as necessary!

Tip #4 Count Your Blessings
On days that your role as mom seems mundane and pointless and repetitive(we all have those), remember to count your blessings! Take a moment, see all that is positive in your life and the life of your children and it will give you that boost that you need!

Tip #5 Promote Safety
Talk about different scenarios and what is safe and acceptable and what is not safe and what they should not do in different situations! Remind them to come to YOU as a parent if they hear something that they don’t understand, think that is bad or don’t know what it means. You want to position yourself as their resource person to keep conversation lines open. This needs to start at a very young age.

Tip #6 Provide Order
A schedule will help everyone in the family. It removes the guesswork and a lot of frustration. It allows the things that need to get done to get done because life becomes somewhat predictable.

Tip #7 Reward Your Children
Reward them for their helpfulness and kindness—if only with your words, this will mean a lot to them. They want your approval!

Tip #8 Make Housework a Family Affair
Especially in a large family, involving all of the kids in the housework, chores, cooking, cleaning etc. This helps to provide family unity, and a sense of belonging. It also teaches kids to develop a strong work ethic. And encourage Dad to get involved—in our situation, much of what a successful mom is able to accomplish, is due to a very present and helpful dad!

Additional information on “Jon and Kate Plus 8” can be found at:

http://health.discovery.com/convergence/gosselins/gosselins.html

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