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

I originally wrote this when my twin girls were three, as a review on our local MoMs’ group blog.  My girls are now six, and my love for this little gadget is still as strong as ever.

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Since our girls started sleeping through the night, until they were about 18 months old, I could usually count on them waking up around 6:45 in the morning.  And then, when they dropped to one nap during the day, they began sleeping until about 7:30.  Those were the days!

When we began potty training, around 27 months, though, we experienced a drastic change in the girls’ morning routines.  I appreciated that they woke to use the potty…but there were some painfully early starts to our days for quite some time.

I then discovered a wonderful gadget that has made a huge difference in our morning routines, the “OK to Wake!” clock.  [There are several iterations of these in clocks and stuffed toys…just search “OK to wake”.]

OK to Wake

I set the clock to 6:30, at which time it glows green.  (As much as I’d like them to sleep until 9am on the weekends, I wanted to set a “realistic” goal.)  I tell the girls, if you wake up and the clock isn’t green, you can roll over and go back to sleep.

There are times when I hear them stirring shortly after 6:00, but they don’t usually call for me until 6:30…on the dot…and then I hear, Mommy!  The clock is green!  I slept well!

There are times that they wake up early, sometimes needing to sit on the potty.  After they use the bathroom, it’s been great to have an “impartial party” — the clock — to cite.  “The clock isn’t green.  It’s still sleep time,” I’ll tell the girls.  They almost always accept that they need to go back to bed.

I was worried that the clock would somehow wake them up in the mornings.  Its glow isn’t so bright that it disturbs them, though, and a handful of times they’ve slept an extra 15 or 20 minutes.  The green glow lasts for 30 minutes, so they still get to call out to me when they wake up (which they get a big kick out of).

I would love to one day get back to our blessed 7:30 rise and shine…but for now, I’m so thankful to at least have a consistent wake-up time.

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(This is not a sponsored post.  I am in no way affiliated with the companies that make or sell these awesome gadgets.  It’s just been a lifesaver to us…for close to four years now!…and I wanted to share.)

MandyE is mom to six-year old fraternal twin girls.  She blogs about their adventures, and her journey through motherhood, at Twin Trials and Triumphs.

Wouldn’t Do Without Wednesday: Baby Bjorn Bibs

No parent enjoys the mess that is mealtime with young children.

Luckily, I found something to help us with that problem. As babies, all my kids wore cloth bibs during their waking hours, especially during teething, to catch all the drool and milk. We had several dozen cheap thin ones, lined with plastic on the back so they didn’t soak through. We changed these frequently as they got wet/soiled, and tossed them in with the wash. They worked wonderfully well.

However, as they began their rice cereal and then graduated to other messy colorful purees, the thin cloth bibs didn’t cut it anymore. Soft foods usually just slide right down a flat bib, and there is no mechanism on them for catching any solid foods (or food your child decides to spit out).

That’s when I discovered a new kind of bib: ones with a pocket! There are actually many brands out there, but the style is basically the same. It’s a molded plastic bib that catches food in its pocket. There are some made of just a thin piece of plastic with a flat pocket, which doesn’t seem very effective in catching any food at all. And there are some softer varieties that bend and move around with your child, which means the spilled food probably doesn’t stay put.

My favorite is the Baby Bjorn Bib. These are a little bit more rigid than the others, thicker, and sturdier. They attach around the neck via a sort of corded band across the top that you just press into the fastener at the other side, completely adjustable as your child grows or how close you want it to the neck, and much more secure than velcro. They come in all different colors, including gender neutral ones. But they are also somewhat pricey: Amazon currently lists these for about $15 a two-pack, which is a great deal because they sell for about $10 singly. th These best thing about them is not just that they are good at catching food, but they are incredibly easy to clean as well. After each meal we just rinse them off and they’re dry for the next meal. If we’re out, I just run around them with a wipey and go. And they are dishwasher safe! When I start a load of dishes, I just toss them in on top of the sippy cups and they get sanitized too.

Big Sis has for the most part grown out of using bibs. She is almost 5 after all. But sometimes at home when she knows she’s eating something messy, she will put her bib on to keep her clothes clean. But the twins have these bibs everywhere and use them at every meal. Over the years I have accumulated 9 of them: 3 for use at home, 2 at Grandma’s, 2 at in-laws, and 2 clipped to our diaper bag in the car. I wouldn’t be surprised if we get years more use out of these bibs yet!

lunchldyd is mom to 2.5yo b/g twins and their almost-5yo sister. She is also a part-time teacher.

Wouldn’t Do Without Wednesday: “Crayola My Color is” Packs

Do you color code your multiples? Or do you have a kid who only likes one color? In our house we haven’t been very strict about color coding, but over time, one twin adopted blue and one green. The Blue Lover ONLY loves blue. He only wants to color in blue, drink from the blue cup, eat off the blue plate. So when I saw these at Target, I knew they had to show up in the Easter basket. I mean, Crayola gets the mentality of a toddler. How brilliant are these?

Crayola My Color Is packs

I am not sure if these are a new product or a limited time thing. I tried to find info on Crayola.com and it turned up nothing. These were in the art section at my local Target, there were lots of different color packs. I know two little boys who will be getting the blue and the green packs on Sunday. These would also be great for schools or sports teams as well as picky kids.

This post is just to share and was not sponsored in any way by Crayola, who only maybe knows who I am because they “liked” my photo when I shared it on Instagram. They certainly didn’t pay me or send me free blue coloring implements.

Wouldn't Do Without Wednesday at hdydi.com: This week, the Crayola's My Color Is single color packs.

Jen Wood is the stay at home mom to twin 5-year-old boys who are newly registered to start kindergarten in the fall. They live in the Chicago area where it recently hit 40 degrees so they have packed away coats in optimistic folly.

Foodie Friday: Schlotzsky’s Review and $25 Gift Card Giveaway

$25 Schlotzsky's gift card giveaway at http://hdydi.com My daughters and I don’t make a habit of eating out, so when we do go, it’s a treat. We have a relatively limited list of places we frequent, mostly because M is very particular about what she’ll eat.

When I mentioned to my 8-year-old twins that I’d been invited to a Schlotzsky’s blogger event to sample their new Italian menu items, my daughters cheered, very loudly. Very, very loudly. They both absolutely love the sandwiches there, and it doesn’t hurt any that Schlotzsky’s also serves Cinnabon buns. 8-year-old J is chowing down at Schlotzsky's We’re lucky to live in the Austin suburbs, a reasonable drive to Schlotzsky’s flagship location. Our usual location is across the driveway from the autoshop where I go for oil changes. A Schlotzsky visit is part of our monthly car maintenance routine when eating out is within our budget.

At the promotional event, we got to sample everything new on their menu, the Viva l’Italia line. I have to admit, it was hard to limit myself to just a taster’s bite of each dish. Any one of them would have made a delicious and satisfying meal. With these Italian offerings, including oven-baked pastas, pizzas and more, Schlotzsky’s is going well beyond the local sandwich joint we’ve known and loved. I’d now consider it a bakery café. Even the pickiest of eaters was delighted with the menu! Of course, this being a promotional meal, Schlotzsky’s put their best foot forward, but the food spoke for itself. My daughter M, the picky child, had three servings of the tomato basil canestrelli. She quite literally scraped her plate and told Chef Paul that she’d be coming back to order it again. He’s a member of the team that created these dishes, and his passion for quality was clearly quite as deep as his affection for children. M immediately adored him, although J was too busy chowing down to notice. Schlotzsky's tomato basil canstrelli is part of their oven-baked pasta line. While J joined me in sampling everything, M would try only one of the ciabatta sandwiches. (Oh my, were they good!) The Tuscan had avocado: “Yucky, mommy.” The Caprese had tomatoes: “I only like ketchup of tomatoes.” She consented to eat the Sicilian, but deconstructed, so as to get at the shaved ham, pepperoni and salami, while bypassing the provolone, roasted red bell peppers, balsamic onions, olives, pepperoncini, field greens and tomato. Usually, stock photos from restaurants bear little resemblance to the real thing, but our sandwiches looked just like these. The Tuscan_Ciabatta CapreseCiabattaThe Sicilian_Ciabatta See? Ciabatta sandwich tasting at Schlotzsky's So, M wasn’t sold on the sandwiches, although J and I were. The pasta, though? She loooooved the pasta. (So did I. There was this Andouille sausage and goat cheese pasta that makes me drool to just think about.) I’m tempted to keep going on and on about the pastas and the pizza and the desserts (Austin only), but I know you probably want to get to the gift card, so I’ll hold back.

Note that Schlotzsky’s has locations in 35 of the 50 states, in addition to Russia, Turkey and Azerbaijan. Please make sure that you have a local location before entering.

Use the Rafflecopter widget below to enter the giveaway. You could win a $25 Schlotzsky’s gift card. If you feel like using all the options, go for it. If you just want to put in the simplest possible entry, just leave us a comment on this post telling us about your favourite Italian food. You can follow us on Twitter, Facebook, or Pinterest, tweet about this giveaway, or leave a comment here or on another HDYDI post.

Please don’t forget to let us know in Rafflecopter which you’ve done so that your entries count!! In bocca al lupo e buon appetito. (Hey, two years of Italian in college is finally useful beyond listening to my favourite operas!)

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Why not up your chances by entering the #HoorayItaly contest? Schlotzsky’s is offering 10 $100 gift cards for selfies with their Viva l’Italia menu items.

Wouldn’t Do Without Wednesday: gogo Kidz Travelmate

Today marks the beginning of a new occasional series, brainchild of our own MandyE. We’re calling it Wouldn’t Do Without Wednesday. (Insert your groan here, over my abominable abuse of alliteration.) In short, the HDYDI MoMs will share with you various products, services and tricks that have made our lives easier.

Wouldn't Do Without Wednesday at hdydi.com: This week, the gogo Kidz Travelmate.We will not accept advertising pitches. The stuff featured in Wouldn’t Do Without Wednesday consists of things we genuinely use, that we feel moved to share. We think you may not have heard of these items, or perhaps we’ve found secondary uses for household things that you might like to try.

gogo Kidz Travelmate

My pick for this week is the gogo Kidz Travelmate. Forgive the goofy spelling and capitalization. This contraption attaches to your convertible or toddler car seat, and its wheels essentially turn your car seat into a temporary stroller. In my opinion, if you’re flying with multiple toddlers, you have to invest in a few of these.

With my children asleep in their car seats, I was able to get from airplane door to my car without waking the twins. The only help I needed was that of the flight attendant who sat with one child while I carried the other out, carseat and all. It took a little creative positioning to drag a seat and suitcase behind me in each hand, but it worked.

gogo Kidz Travelmate in use. This is the easiest way to get a car seat through the airport.I wouldn’t recommend the Travelmate for everyday use. You probably still want a stroller. For getting through the airport, though, I have yet to see anything better than the Travelmate. I’m a big proponent of having non-lap baby smaller children fly in their car seats over being loose in the airplane seat. At least for my kiddos, being in the familiar confines of the car seat was a sign of the behaviour expected of them, and there was no risk of them sliding out. Plus, our car seats weren’t going to be crushed or mishandled in transit

Here’s how I used mine:

  1. When the Travelmates arrived in the mail, I grabbed my screwdriver and attached the bottom to the handle.
  2. The kids rode to the airport as usual.
  3. When we got out of the car, quickly attach the Travelmate to the back of the car seat.
  4. We rolled through the airport, stopping at least 10 times to answer questions about where you got this miracle
  5. Security was the biggest pain, which should come as no suprise. I had to take the pieces apart because our Britax Marathons wouldn’t go through X-ray otherwise, but it took only seconds to put it back together. Of course, the kids had to get out of the seats to go through security.
  6. I wheeled the car seats quite literally to out seats, one pushed in front of my and one dragged behind down the plane aisle.
  7. I popped off the wheels, stuck them in my carry-on and installed the car seats using the airplane seat belts.
  8. I then did everything backwards at the other end of the flight.

gogo Kidz Travelmate

 

Have you ever used the Travelmate? Did you find it as useful as I did?

Discount Programs for Multiples

We’re trying something new. We’d like to elicit your help in developing the definitive list of discount programs for multiples. Know about a company that offers discounts or freebies for families of multiples? Add it below yourself! Have you learned that one of the items on our list is out-of-date? Please leave a comment on the item and we’ll retire it.

Above all, though, take advantage of these offers. Most of the gifts and coupons are most helpful in the first year, so don’t wait. Have a friend expecting multiples? Perhaps you could offer to handle getting them signed up for these offers as (part of?) your baby shower gift. You will probably have to wait until the babies are born, but I certainly could have used the help as a new mom of twins!

National Reading Day: Books About Twins

Books About Twins As a past elementary school teacher (having taught kindergarten, 2nd, and 4th), it’s no surprise that I love books. I prided myself on having one of the largest (and most organized) classroom libraries in our school. When I left teaching to be a mom to Audrey and David, I brought all of those books home with me! One thing that was missing, however, was books about twins! In the past year, I’ve been on the hunt for books about multiples for our children. As a way to celebrate National Reading Day today, here is what I found:

In my searching, I also found some books for adults:

Do you have any favorite twin books? Share with us in the comments!

Guest Post and Book Giveaway: Elise Bruderly

Today, we have a special treat for you: a guest post and book giveaway from twin mom and author Elise Bruderly. If you’d like to win a copy of her book, be sure to enter the giveaway below! Now, hear her story in her own words. – Sadia

Win a copy of Elise Bruderly's book Parenting Twins: The Handbook for Containing Chaos and Preserving Memories in the First Year

 

In May of 2005, I found out I was expecting twins.

As I “recovered” from the shock of this news, I said, “Someday I’m going to write a book about this!” And that day has come. Parenting Twins: The Handbook for Containing Chaos and Preserving Memories in the First Year is the handbook I wish I had, to guide me through the ups and downs and twists and turns of that first year as a parent of twins. The book weaves together actual stories and journal entries from that first year, with practical parenting advice and ideas, as well as a focus on the emotional journey, and growth, required. I hope that this book serves as both an inspiration and a source of reassurance for expectant parents and parents in the midst of that first year.

Please enjoy this excerpt from the book.

from Chapter 6: How Parenting Twins is Different

How to be a Parent of Twins

When you think about how to parent twins and how to be a parent of twins you really must consider two areas of growth.  First is the actual, physical “doing” of life.  These are the “how to clone yourself” questions, like, how to get two babies a bath when you are home alone, how to pick up two crying babies, what to do when the phone rings and your arms are full.  You can learn how to do all of these things- either with advice from other parents of multiples, from books, or by trial and error.  Never be afraid to try a new idea, and never stop trying new ideas.  As your babies grow and develop things will change, sometimes by the hour.  What did not work yesterday might work today and what you wish would work today might very well work in a few days if you stick with it.  Becoming capable with the tasks of parenting twins is both liberating and confidence-building, two essential traits for your continued journey as a parent.  The sooner you make peace with yourself- giving yourself permission to try something new, and not feeling silly if the whole idea fails- the easier you will find the ongoing tasks of parenting twins.

The being a parent of twins is much harder to learn and much more abstract to describe.  I have often felt “out of step” with friends and others raising singleton children the same age as my babies.  Nothing ever felt quite the same to me as it appeared to be for my friends- the lack of sleep, the ability (or not) to get out of the house.  When a parent is already struggling to adapt to their new role, feeling alone in that role can be even more demoralizing.  I will never forget the first time I felt this difference square in the face.

My babies were born in the late summer and came home in the early fall.  It was a long, cold winter where we did not get out very much.  By the time they were around seven months old I was feeling more capable and a more pressing desire to “be normal.”  I started taking them to a baby playgroup that was held at the library.  There was fifteen minutes of songs and stories and then forty five minutes for the babies and parents to interact with toys and each other.  I saw, quite quickly, what two babies meant for me.  While others picked up their child and moved around the floor, checking out different toys and talking to others while swinging their baby in their arms, I sat on the floor with my babies- in one spot while reaching out to grab a toy here or there that made its way over to our area.  I was not mobile in the least, and, as such, I was not social.  It’s not that others were mean to me, it’s just that they were doing what they could do and did not realize my limitations.

We continued attending the playgroup, and talked to those who might be around us.  I watched others make coffee dates for afterwards and thought to myself that I wasn’t sure my “lunar lander” could even maneuver into or around the coffee shop.  I thought that perhaps I was too much work to be friends with, I couldn’t zip around with a little stroller, or walk around with one arm full of baby and the other with my hot drink.  I wished very much to feel less isolated and wondered if I was having fun.

How did I learn to be a parent of twins?  How did I learn to embrace the challenges and enjoy the moments?  It was a journey, to be sure.  It required building confidence in my parenting decisions both big and small.  It required perseverance- attending those playgroups where I felt alone, getting through failed trips to the store, talking myself through the hard days of nursing through growth spurts, and functioning on a severe lack of sleep.  It required reaching-out, feeling awkward and uncomfortable at times, and making new friends who were parents of twins.  It required an ability to laugh at myself, knowing that there is just nothing that can be done when babies decide to explode through their diapers and spit-up all over at the same time.  It requires “digging deep” to find that better self that is there inside of you and accessible only when you want it and need it so badly.  I’ve often heard that things are given only to those who can handle them.  Personally, I believe that handling the challenges makes us that person.

When you are expecting twins, or are learning to be the parent of twins, what you must know and remember is this:  The road will never be quite as smooth as you might wish and you might never master juggling.  But if you remember to love your children and remember that you are doing the very best you can, you will find the energy and strength to get through the day.  Each day is the beginning of a new adventure and each adventure will provide a smile once you learn to recognize the moments.

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Elise Bruderly, MSW, LMSW, lives with her husband and boy/girl twins in Dexter, Michigan where she enjoys the ongoing adventure of parenting twins.  Parenting Twins: The Handbook for Containing Chaos and Preserving Memories in the First Year is available in paperback and on Kindle at Amazon.com.

Toddler Thursday: Easing Fears at the Pediatrician

The holiday just before my girls were three, they got a toy doctor kit.  Immediately, it was a huge hit.  They checked out all their babies, and each of their stuffed animals took a visit to the vet clinic.

Dr kitWith their three-year check-up soon approaching, I decided to get in on the pretend action, admittedly with a bit of an agenda.

I made a big deal, talking about each of the different instruments, what they were used for…and how they were just like the ones Dr. F, our pediatrician, uses.  We took turns being the doctor, the nurse, and the patient, and I made a point to work into the scenario that someone was scared.

“I understand you feel scared, Mr. Bear, but you know Dr. A.  She’s been taking excellent care of you since you were a tiny cub.  First, she’s going to listen to your heart.  What a cool stethoscope!  Ooh…is it cold?  Does it tickle?  I know it does hurt.”

“Now she’s going to take a little peek in your ears.  It’s OK…there’s no need to be scared!  She’s just checking to make sure you didn’t lose any bananas in there.”

“This little band measures your blood pressure, how fast your blood is dancing around inside your body.  Is your arm ready for a hug???”

The girls got very accustomed to the routine, and soon they were repeating it to all their babies.  They were very encouraging, even to the most scared bear cub.

The real key (advice I got from a friend) was the positioning of the shot.  There’s truly nothing to be afraid of as far as the exam goes, right?  But shots hurt…no way around it.  And that’s the approach I took with the girls.

Mr. Bear, it’s time for a shot.  It will hurt, but ONLY for a second!  Then you’ll be ALL DONE and then we’ll go do something fun / get a sticker / have an ice cream [insert reward of choice]!”

My girls are now almost six, and they haven’t cried at the pediatrician — even for shots — since before they were three.  Empowering them with information and perspective has made visits to the pediatrician nothing to sweat.

(And, as a side note, my girls still play with their doctor kit almost daily.  “Vet” is a huge theme at our house.  That’s what both girlies say they want to be when they grow up, and they make sure to get lots of practice.)

MandyE is mom to 5 1/2-year old twin girls, A and B.  She blogs about their adventures, and her journey through motherhood, at Twin Trials and Triumphs.