Silent Language

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Categories Activities, Development, Family, ProductsTags 15 Comments

This week, after waiting out a terrible hail storm in our van, the kids and I were tired, hungry and weary of being cooped up. We made an impromptu stop at a diner style restaurant and ordered whole wheat grilled cheese. Our dinner together was very calm, relaxed and enjoyable. But I started getting funny glaces as I signed: Jonathan, would you like “more” “crackers?” Say “thank you” “Mama.” I wondered if the people in the surrounding booths were thinking that one or both of my kids were hearing impaired, or if they were just amazed, as I am, that my 13 month kiddos can communicate via sign language.

My fascination with baby sign language began when my sister-in-law taught my niece to sign. It was amazing! The only problem was, the rest of us had NO IDEA what she was saying! So without Tonya to interpret, we were clueless about what Natalie was talking about!

 Signing seemed like a good idea, a possible way to cut down on tantrums and communication frustrations.  Plus it was something I thought I could teach the kids for fun, without getting caught up in the whole “baby genius” thing. I am leery of anything that puts unrealistic expectations on babies, but signing seemed like more fun than work. I borrowed my niece’s signing video’s and started trying to watch them with the kids around the age of 9 months. Their attention span was about 30 seconds, so I ended up watching the video by myself. I learned several signs, and practiced them with the kids often.  We tried the video again at 10 months with slightly more success. Faith was entranced for about 5 minutes, and Jonathan could have cared less.  At 10 1/2 months, Faith signed “more” for the first time. Jonathan didn’t start signing until after their first birthday.  At the time, I thought he was never going to sign, that it just wasn’t his thing. And then, one day, he signed “more” like he had always been doing it. “Dog” and “eat” quickly followed suit.

At 13 months of age, we are all on the signing bandwagon. The kids grandparents think it is cool, as do the aunts and uncles. My normally stoic husband cheers when the kids use a new sign. The kids themselves are so proud when they clearly communicate something to us by sign.

The other day, I did have a moment where I regretted teaching the kids sign language… I was quickly trying to get dinner ready, and Jonathan and Faith were standing at the gate, upset. Faith pounded on the gate, and when I turned to look at her, she frantically signed “EAT! EAT! EAT!” I said “Sweetheart, I know you are hungry. Mom is fixing dinner as fast as I can! “EAT! EAT! EAT!” More banging. I don’t think I have ever cooked with that much pressure before!

The key to our signing fun, has been for me and my husband to learn the signs and use them in normal conversation. We don’t have lesson time, but when the neighbor’s dog barks, we all four turn to eachother and sign “Dog.” The words that I have found easy to integrate into normal conversation are: Eat, More, Milk, Drink, All Done, Mama, Daddy, Dog, Cat, Car, Up, Down, Please, Thank You, No, Share, Baby, Sleep, Crackers and Hat.

Another helpful tool has been the flashcard pack Sign Language for Babies by Parents Magazine which you can buy here:

I keep this pack on my coffee table and practice my words while watching Jon and Kate Plus 8! The flashcards are also great for our babysitters to refrence, so they know what the kids are saying.

The last point I would like to make, is about baby signing vs. American Sign Language. The signs we teach our kids are a combo, but if you have a choice, I would go for a tool/book/product that is based on ASL. What we teach ourselves and our kids may come in handy someday! I know the little bit of spanish I learned in 2nd grade has stuck with me, but the three years I took in high school are long gone!

What are your thoughts on baby signing?


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Ahead and behind

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Categories Development, Infants, Mommy Issues8 Comments

It might be taboo, you might swear you don’t do it and shake your head when other people do. But don’t lie. You do it, too. I’m going to come right out and say it. I compare my kids.

Yep. I do. I compare them to each other. I compare them to the babies in my new mom classes, I compare them to my friends’ kids, I compare them to stories of kids on the blogs I read. And I’ve come to a less-than-startling conclusion: they’re just fine.

Comparisons aren’t always the awful thing they’re made out to be. It’s how your mind is made to work. You see two things, your mind comes up with ways in which those two things are similar to and different from one another. Your brain categorizes, compares, and contrasts. Noticing a similarity or difference between your own two kids or between your son and the kid on the playground is not an inherently negative thing to do. The problem is when you go assigning a qualitative judgment to that comparison, when there shouldn’t be one. There’s a difference between saying “huh, that eight-month-old is crawling, my nine-month-old isn’t” and “oh dear god, my kid is so horribly behind on gross motor, there go my dreams of having an Olympic athlete for a son.” [OK, so there are a number of things wrong with that last statement, but that’s for another time.] I even think some comparisons can be useful. It’s good to know what their age-mates are up to, so you can at least have a small amount of reassurance that things are fine, or even some basis for asking your pediatrician if she thinks it’s OK that your kid hasn’t mastered the pincer grasp yet.

I think having twins is a big in-your-face lesson in the “normal range of development.” Here you have two little people, who spent the same amount of time in my belly, who have had as close to the same environment as you can get, and they’re as different as can be on lots of things.

For the first six months, Daniel was “ahead” of his sister, especially in gross motor things. Rebecca would look like she was just about to do something for the longest time, as though she’d finally get the upper hand, and then one day Daniel would just up and do it. He totally leapfrogged her. It was that way with rolling over, especially, and he was the first one to be interested in sitting up unassisted. Rebecca was still refusing to bend in the middle. I’d get worried, this apparent advantage would only reinforce my latent concerns that Rebecca was somehow “more” preemie than Daniel (in truth, she had a terribly important extra 45 seconds in utero, which I’m sure made a huge difference), because she was always so very small.

Yeah, and then she totally leapfrogged him. Once she figured out how to bend in half and start sitting, she was much more steady than Daniel. And she has been crawling faster than a bat out of hell for about two months, while Daniel still mostly “swims” on the floor and is only just starting to figure out that hands plus knees can equal purposeful forward movement. As soon as I wonder if one is doing better than the other on language development, the “behind” one will come up with a whole new set of sounds to make.

I’m not saying I never worry, never watch in a combination of amazement and embarrassment when another kid is crawling at 6.5 months while my 10.5-month-old is just barely figuring it out. But in general, I think this is one of the areas in which having twins has helped me be more laid-back as a first-time-mom than I might have otherwise been. Noticing the difference between the two of them has made me more relaxed about any differences between my kid and someone else’s. Noticing the differences between other people’s twins has made me less paranoid about my own.

My kids are probably a little ahead of the average on some things, a little behind on others. That’s why it’s a range, that’s why the bell curve exists. A late walker doesn’t guarantee a life of awkwardness any more than an early talker guarantees brilliance. Anyways, we all know my kids are going to be brilliant, no matter when they start talking, right?

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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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To test or not to test?

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Categories Development, Fraternal, Infants, Multiple Types10 Comments

I’m a planner by nature, so when we found out at 18 weeks there were two boys in my huge belly, I needed to know the answer to one question – are they fraternal or identical? My boys were in separate sacs with separate placentas, so an ultrasound was inconclusive. In addition to my twin pregnancy reading, I also read articles about the pros and cons of knowing zygosity. I came to the conclusion I wanted to definitely know their zygosity.

When the boys were born, they didn’t look anything alike. At all. We painted Nate’s toenail in the NICU as a precaution but we never re-painted it because no one ever got them confused. By the time the placenta test came back inconclusive, we knew in our hearts they were not identical but I needed scientific proof.  We ordered DNA tests and got to play CSI at home. As expected, the results came back and the boys are fraternal.

Shortly after the boys turned one, a crazy thing happened. Nate’s baby hair fell out and in came blond hair. Alex’s eyes turned from blue to brown. I now have one blond hair blue-eyed boy and one brown hair brown-eyed boy. There is no question on their zygosity. However, I’m still glad we did the DNA test. It just would have been nice to save the $175 in an already expensive year!

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The things you wait for

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Categories Development, Infants5 Comments

When you’re pregnant with twins, you hear all kinds of great stories. The “special connection” your kids will have, how they’ll always be playmates, yadda yadda yadda. We all know the reality is not always so delightful. My newborns didn’t seem to have any acknowledgment of the other, didn’t sleep better next to each other, really seemed to have no recognition that the other was there. There was the occasional grabbed hand, which was certainly adorable, but didn’t seem like real interaction. Just a coincidence, because it was there. I think my kids were a good six months old before they actually seemed to see each other. A few moments here or there when they actually seemed to have a passing interest in the other person. And that was a good start, a spark of something to come. And sure, I know they’ll have their times when they’re constantly fighting and I wish they’d just forget about each other for a few minutes! But for the moment, I love it when they really see each other.

And the other day, while they were eating lunch, I managed to get the video camera out in time for one of my favorite things in the whole world: when Rebecca unwittingly cracks Daniel up. Sometimes, he just thinks his sister is the funniest damn thing he has ever seen.


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Making time-out work for multiples

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Categories Behavior, Development, Toddlers6 Comments

The first time I saw Alex purposefully hit Nate over the head with a toy and laugh, I realized the toddler years were here and we needed a discipline strategy. During the first 18 months, most experts recommend distraction and redirection for undesirable behavior. As with most parenting advice, 18 months is a guideline and needs to be assessed for each child. We found Alex outgrew redirection around 15 months while Nate outgrew it closer to 18 months.

There are many different discipline tactics and we chose to follow the same strategy our day care follows – time outs. A time out is an opportunity for the child to take a break from a situation and redirect their behavior. We’ve found each child’s reaction to discipline to be different. When Alex has to go to time out, he sits there quietly. When it’s Nate’s turn, he protests it and does everything he can to get out of it, including singing, rocking, laying down, wiggling, rolling, and anything else that might get attention.

To me, starting discipline was extremely frustrating. Not only were there two limit-testing, boundary-testing toddlers at the same time, but they would fight for our attention while we tried to discipline the other. There were many moments I felt like giving up! Eventually we fine-tuned our time out process. Here were the important lessons we learned along the way:

* The time out spot has to be clearly marked. I can not stress this one enough! Some people use a pack and play or stairs, but we use a rug. The reason for clearly marking time out space is so one child has to stay IN time out and the other has to stay OUT of time out. I think it took as much time to teach them to stay off the rug as it took to teach them to stay on the rug!

* Consistent and fair rules need to be followed. Following 1-2-3 Magic, we don’t do timeouts for “start behaviors” – behaviors we want the boys to do (brush their teeth, wash their hands). We use timeouts to stop negative behavior and my husband and I always follow the same rules. Hitting someone is always immediate time out. Standing on a chair gets a warning. Each twin is watching the other twin get disciplined, so it’s doubly important to stay consistent.

* Use their name and use short sentences. This seems so obvious! The boys would be fighting over a toy and Nate would shove Alex. I would say, “Go to time out.” and two little boys would walk over to sit down together. Or I would give them a long lecture, but young toddlers have cavemen brains and they stopped listening. Now we use the Supernanny method of holding their shoulders, looking them in the face, and saying firmly and calmly, “Nate, you are in time out for doing xxx.”

* Be flexible. Our strategy has always been to not give the child in time out any attention so that it does not become a game. But some days, I’ve got dinner on the stove, my husband is out of town, Alex is crying from hunger, and Nate refuses to stay in time out. In those instances, I modify the situation. I sit the time out kid on my lap, face the wall, and hold them there for a minute. While not the method we use every day, we have used this in restaurants or in public when one of the kids needs to take a break.

Now that we’ve been using time outs for a significant period of time, it has become less labor-intensive and less frustrating. The boys know their boundaries and while they do not always respect them, they are starting to learn the consequences. Now we just need to stop the boys from putting each other in time out! Share some multiples time out strategies in the comments… I’m still learning and could use more help!

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Celebrate the Similarity

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Categories Behavior, Development, IdenticalTags , , , 4 Comments

When I found out I was pregnant with twins, I was determined to raise them as independent little people. I never referred to them as “the twins” and preferred that other people avoid that as well. When they were born, I tried my hardest to avoid dressing them in matching outfits (which was hard because people REALLY like to give them as gifts…and see them worn!) in an effort to emphasize that they are, in fact, two seperate beings.

As they grow – and appear to be very, very much alike physically – I find myself trying hard to point out their behaviorial differences. Sometimes they are true observations, such as “Aaron is a much faster crawler and Brady goes more slowly, trying to work on technique”. But lately I’ve also found myself guilty of saying things like “Aaron is great at self-soothing, Brady is not as good”. I didn’t think too much of it at first, until I was awake and rocking Brady at 4:30 am in the morning. And I had to wonder: Did I do this to them?

For all my talk about Aaron being better at self-soothing, is it because I have a tendency to pick up Brady first? Have I forced Aaron to be more independent (and wait it out) while encouraging Brady to be more dependent on the cuddle, the rock, the touch of a parent while falling asleep?

I have also heard myself proclaiming “Brady will eat anything, Aaron is more picky.” Is that true? Or, do I subconsciously give up on new foods faster with Aaron because I have labeled him in my mind as the finicky one?

I’m not sure. It’s a bit of a chicken and egg situation I guess. But I am starting to worry about the danger of labeling my children in a desperate attempt to find the differences between them. All this labeling seems to be actually driving and encouraging those behaviours that were perhaps not really there before.

One thing I will have to start working on is accepting that they are, in fact, identical twins. They will look alike. They will behave in a similar fashion. Their personalities will come alive on their own and their differences will shine through.   In the meantime, perhaps, I should start celebrating some of these special similarities instead of trying SO HARD to force them to be different people.

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Baby Space

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Categories Behavior, Development, Products6 Comments

I went through the whole “nesting” thing when I was about 6 months preggo. You know, dreaming of the perfect nursery, making plans, pouring over paint samples, folding blankets, etc. I only thought in “newborn” terms, and rightly so. My husband spent a long time, god bless him, painting their nursery, installing shelves (all at adult height!), hanging curtains and meticulously hanging each picture on the walls. When I think back on it, it was all really lovely. We would stand in their completed room, hands on belly, and imagine what it would be like to see our boys in this space that mom and dad put so much love into. But when our boys approached eight months and became mobile, we knew we needed some major overhauling of our environment. Their room just didn’t work! It was fine for sleeping, but they literally hated being in there to play. And I was also just plain tired of how chaotic and haphazard the main “play area” was that we had designated on the rug in front of our couch. Throw down a blanket and a few baskets of cram-packed toys and “wallah,” a play room!

I think with multiples, you have to be even more dedicated to organizing your space effectively. So we decided to recruit the help of our friend who was a former Montessori teacher and now has her PhD in perinatal psychology (whoa!). She did an evaluation of our house and made some interesting suggestions for how we could make it safer and friendlier for the boys. So we jumped in head first and after a few days of planning, a massive IKEA shopping list, and a weekend full of power drilling and furniture lifting, we made a brilliant shift. Here’s what we did:

1) We swapped the boys’ nursery and the guest room, which gave us a whole three feet of extra usable space . While we were reluctant to do this at first (after all those months of planning, painting and decorating the “perfect” nursery!), we realized that now with the boys being so mobile, they needed as much “room” in their room. This space also boasts three huge floor to ceiling windows where they can stand and point to the giant tree in our front yard (over and over and over again), and also, with mouths agape, watch the garbage trucks make their rounds every Tuesday morning. The colorful curtains have become the boy’ favorite attraction where they hide and play peek-a-boo with each other for longer than it takes me to change both their crib linens (and I know you all know how long that takes). We also created a cool “play station” in their room out of box shelves from IKEA (cheap, all wood, and perfectly functional for many years and growth spurts). We only put out a few toys at a time and swap ’em out every few days for a nice surprise. As a result, their bedroom has become so much more for them. It’s a place to play, explore, and hone their skills, but also a place to rest. It’s also made diaper changes and getting ready for naps effective, fun and (best yet) relatively fuss-free.boys and curtainsboys room

2) We spend most of our time during the day in the living room, so we created “nodes” in different areas of the room for different activities. More IKEA box shelves in an underused area of the room became an organized toy area. Again, we keep a handful of toys out at a time and swap them out ever week or so. This also cuts down on the craziness of toys everywhere to clean up, which I do at least ten times a day. Shelves below our media center hold books and function as a reading nook. And the bottom few shelves of our book case became bead-maze and chunky puzzle central. The boys took to the changes in the most remarkable way. When i put them down, they immediately crawled to their play “stations,” pulled up on them and went to town. And I noticed that instead of going from toy to toy in some sort of manic fashion, because of there being a few choice toys to choose from, they interact with them in a longer and more meaningful way. Now that they are walking maniacs, they run from station to station with glee. But the best development of late is “helping” mom put toys away, which Abel loves to do. He meticulously puts books back on the shelf. Gotta love that!play spot

3) This one was a no-brainer, but we designated a cabinet in the kitchen for them. It holds tupperware, their old bottles and formula cans (huge hit!), and various other kitchen objects they can play with. This is so simple and is such a great way for them to be occupied while I make dinner, clean up and load/unload the dishwasher (another hugely popular “play station”).

4) We baby-proofed the heck out of any area the boys would be hanging out. This was a big deal for us, because we have more of a laid-back philosophy when it comes to baby-proofing. We definitely wanted our home to be safe, but we also wanted to teach the boys that there were areas they shouldn’t explore and objects that they should not touch (i.e. stereo, fireplace, etc). I don’t want to say we went overboard by any stretch, but we learned that the safer things were, as well as the less things for us to say “no” to (because they ARE going to touch those stereo buttons, even if they know they are not supposed to and look at you three times before they go for it), the better our time together would be. That being said, we did not baby proof our fireplace/hearth area and we have yet to have an issue with it. Of course now that I wrote that, the boys will probably be relentless about trying to climb into it tomorrow.

We have been thrilled with all the changes to our home and these spaces continue to be relevant, if not more now that the boys are 14 months. And the shelves have served as interesting measuring sticks as we take note of how much the boys have grown. On the horizon are plans to hang pint-sized hooks for their jackets in the foyer and hooks for their towels in the bathroom. We continue to take stock of our house and how we can design our environment to be as friendly and accessible to the boys as possible. We thank god that IKEA opened up 20 minutes away last year!

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Potty Pride Before a Fall…

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Categories Development, Feeding Older Children, Preschoolers, ToddlersTags , , , , 4 Comments

The early days with my twins admittedly are somewhat blurry, but the days of plural potty training? Not as hazy as I might like! Sometime ago, I composed a diatribe (more of a catharsis really!) on our experience training our twins…the upshot of which, in trying to focus on the upbeat, I declared something along the lines of “our twosome have yet to have an out-of-house accident.” Shortly thereafter, I’d need to retract those words. But as it is with all things twin parenting, keeping your humor makes even the “less pleasant” experiences with twins doubly amusing. Here’s the confessional tale — in the interest of integrity, the epilogue to the Lage family potty training story:As we sat savoring our Chic-Fil-A nuggets in the Food Court, a somewhat harried young mom approached us, “Is your daughter still in diapers?”Judging from her thinly-veiled expresssion of panic, I could tell this wasn’t just a curious inquiry from a mother wondering when to start potty-training her child. A quick glance to her stroller-bound daughter revealed the gleeful countenance of a girl who in all likelihood was joyfully, but precariously. wearing no undergarments.

With sincere regret, but not very subtly-tinged pride I responded, “Oh, I am so sorry! They are both potty-trained.” In efforts to offer the limited assistance I could, considering my twins’ joint triumph over diaper-manufacturing magnates, I directed her to the in-mall, soft playground; where surely, a mother of a similarly-sized child could provide the necessary nappy.

I then returned my attentions to my twosome, “Didn’t that make you feel good to know you don’t need diapers anymore?”

“Yes, Mommy, “ chirped my son, providing the the answer he clearly knew was expected.

The waffle fries had my daughter’s total attention. She emitted a half-hearted, “Mmm-hmm.”

That night, as we tucked everyone in and said our prayers, we (mostly me) voiced our thankfulness for all we’ve learned (namely, how to use the potty) and the example we can set for other kids preparing to tread the same path.


Upon entering the lava-lamp lit nursery, I could see Sarah standing in the very corner of her tented crib. Training panties, Tinkerbell nightgown, sheet and fleecy blanket all drenched in a daughter-described (and dramatically minimized), “Little accident.”

Knowing she is the latter stages of the potty-training process, these late-night, deep-sleep accidents are not totally unexpected, or overly corrected.

As I groggily stripped the bed and restocked it with sleep-inducing supplies, I made a mental note to purchase a new vinyl protective cover the next day, as hers had a mattress jeopardizing rip.

Babies-R-Us (the only location in town that stocks vinyl crib mattress covers) continues to be an entertaining destination, despite the fact our twosome can hardly be considered “babies” anymore. Of course the 50-cent Big Bird jet plane ride at the store’s entrance serves as a great motivator for appropriate in-store behavior.

We hadn’t been shopping ten minutes when Darren erupted with an urgent, “POTTY, MOMMY!!!”

Pushing the in-line double stroller pottyward, with the adrenaline-charged speed of an Olympian luge-launcher, I raced
against the biology of boy parts.

I lost.

Stroller seat? Saturated.

Pants? Puddled.

Mom’s patience? Over-taxed.

Wedging the stroller so that it kept the stall door ajar, allowing me arms-length access and sightline to the strapped-in and highly-amused Sarah, off came Darren’s shoes, socks, pants and wringable Thomas the Tank Engine undies.

Wisely, I continue to carry dry clothes for instances such as these.

Woefully, I neglected to pack a plastic bag in which to place any urine-dripping duds.

Into our thermal waterproof lunchbag they went. Delicious.

Twenty-four hours had yet to elapse since my pride-inflated declaration of the diaper’s demise in our twin-blessed household.

Alas, our journey to plural potty prowess continues….

Suppose the moral of this story is, if you see the three of us out
eating Food Court cuisine, please…no personal questions. Just ask
us how to get to the mall playground.

[Here’s hoping my now-kindergarteners’ pals don’t use Google yet…]

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Where's Mommy!?!

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Categories Behavior, Development, Mommy Issues, Toddlers7 Comments

I think she’s out to lunch, guys. Or maybe she went to check out that new swanky bar downtown for an afternoon cocktail (okay, it was 10am, but close enough)? No? Well, then she went to the mall to update her lame-ass wardrobe of lounge pants, jeans, ratty t-shirts and crocs? Or how about she went for a day at the spa filled with a massage, mani-pedi, facial AND haircut?

Oh, wait…there she is! She’s coming around the corner right now. See! See! She just went to the bathroom for the Guinness Book of World Record’s shortest pee. That’s all, no need to cry.

You’d think I was some crazy, selfish, negligent mother the way my boys act when I leave the room, or god forbid, step foot out of the house without them. Actually, it’s just abie clingingone of them. The other one could care less, but when he sees his brother putting on such an act, he can’t resist joining in. I used to have such content little guys, but ever since they hit one year, the cling factor has ratcheted up to unimaginable proportions. It’s one of the less-than-attractive realities of having twins, really. Two whining, crying babies clamoring to get into your arms, clawing at your pants trying to climb up your legs, digging into your shoulders with their sharp little nails for fear that you’ll, god forbid, put them down ON THE FLOOR!

Don’t they know that it’s physically very difficult for me to carry them around at the same time? That they have mastered walking (and crawling, for cripes sake!) for a reason? Yah, guys, god put those two legs on you so you can get to your highchair on your own. Come on guys! If you’re so upset that I am going into the kitchen to get your milk, just walk on in there with me. I’ll even let you play in the open refrigerator. It doesn’t get much better than that! Oh, you say that you’re so upset that you can’t move? As soon as you see me stand up you have to turn into a limp fish and sob face down on the hardwood floor? …And so it goes…

It’s times like these that I get really frustrated. Frustrated that I have two babies – and not one – to soothe and comfort and distract and pick up and hold and cuddle. Because I realize at one year these guys are still new to this world and that separation anxiety is a very real developmental issue. And I want to be there for them and help them through this time. But it’s hard! Not as hard as when they are both sick as dogs, but still nonetheless hard. I’ve felt myself start to lose it and really get angry in these situations. I’ve even found myself just shutting down and not saying anything to them for fear of what would come out.

So over the past few weeks I decided to make a change…in me. Because that’s the only thing I really can change at this point. And you know what? It actually works! When the boys start to cling, I hug them and kiss them and hold them all the more. And I stay calm and happy and try a quick scenery change – we go outside on the patio or for a walk or into their room or even our bathroom with all the mirrors. Nine times out of ten it does the trick. If it gets really bad and I don’t have the energy, I calmly carry them into their room and put them in one crib with a few books, their blankets and binkies and tell them I need to take a few minutes for myself. Oh, and I’ve resigned myself to just hanging with them for the time being. I used to have the luxury of being on the computer, reading a book, cooking, cleaning, etc. while they happily played. So I’ve decided to really enjoy the time I have to play with them instead of feeling resentment that I can’t cross off the things “on my list,” or do free-time type activities. Because really, what is better than playing, reading and totally romping around with two of your most favorite people in the universe?!

The funny thing is, things have gotten significantly better with my attitude adjustment. They just don’t seem as clingy. And we’re working on, in a very positive, encouraging way, getting them to follow me from room to room (and I’ve resigned myself to allowing them play in the bathroom while I, um, do my business. They love it. Hopefully this pays off in the potty training department). Better yet, this whole situation has made me realize that I need to make me a priority in this relationship. I joined a gym over five months ago that has a fantastic child care center and decided it was time, amidst the cling-factor, for us all to get a little exercise. So last week I brought them there just to hang out and play, with me present, for 15-20 minutes. They dug it in a serious way. So many cool new toys! This week it was time for me to leave them there on their own. Monday I left for 10 minutes. Oz was totally cool with it, of course. Abie not so much. Tuesday I left for 30 minutes. The boys actually did great most of the time, but a staff change at the 25 minute mark was too much for Abie. Yesterday I left them for 45 minutes. Let me say that again. 45 minutes of pure me time! I felt like I was really pushing it, but when I went to get them they were happy as clams. So happy, in fact, that Abie had no interest in leaving. He took one look at me, smiled, waved, and turned away to play with his new friends. Love it!

I was reluctant to even try the child care thing because I thought it would be too traumatic for the guys given the phase that they’re in. But I’m so glad I did. And I’m so glad I eased them (and continue to ease them) in to it. Because it’s a big deal to these little people. I’ve been so fortunate that I can be with them all day, every day. But that also means that being away from me, even when I leave the room, is huge. I can respect that. And they can also learn to respect that in order for mom to be at her best, she needs some time herself.

And so I continue to walk this road one step, one room, and one day at a time. And the great thing about it is that I can, for the time being, always count on there being four little feet treading really, really close by.

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