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 Have you learned that one of the items on our list is out-of-date?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!
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:
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
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.
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.
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.
With 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.
We recently went to Chicago to see the sights, and also to visit some friends and family we haven’t seen in far too long. When we got home, I wanted to have the girls make some type of thank-you gestures for those we saw. I think it’s a great way to help them remember what we did, with whom…and I knew our friends and family would love seeing the girls’ handiwork.
I asked the girls what they most enjoyed about seeing Aunt and Uncle K. They unanimously named Aunt K’s corn on the cob (she fixed it twice for them, seeing how much they loved it), and playing soccer with Uncle K.
I came up with a couple of fun crafts for them to make…
For our ear of corn, I gave the girls yellow paint and showed them how to dab it onto a long oval shape I drew. [This was the first time we’d used Q-tips with paint…it was great! We’ll be coming up with more “dabbings” soon!]
When the paint was dry, the girls added green hand prints for the leaves. (I didn’t take pictures of this part of the craft…even at age 5 1/2, I stay pretty close by when we start getting our hands covered in paint!)
For the soccer ball, I let the girls trace small hexagons (we have these awesome stencils). They cut out the shapes and glued them onto a piece of card stock. Then they traced a larger circle and cut it out. Viola! I am seriously in love with the way this turned out.
Here are the finished products…
The girls wrote little messages and signed their names. I’m going to print a couple of pictures of A&B with Aunt and Uncle K to accompany the crafts. I know they’ll be tickled to get this little surprise in the mail…and I love that my girls are still talking about Aunt K’s corn, and what soccer tricks they want to show Uncle K the next time we see him.
Do you have any tricks for making thank-you notes with pre-writers?
MandyE is mom to 5 1/2-year old twin girls. She blogs about their adventures, and her journey through motherhood, at Twin Trials and Triumphs.
If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably walked through the baby section of the store or seen a handy baby gadget at a friend’s house, and thought, “I wish they made that for multiples. It would just need a [insert brilliant recommendation here].”
And if you’re anything like me, you probably moved right on with your day.
Allow me to introduce you to Karan. She had an idea for a twin improvement, and has actually done something about it!
Karan’s a MoM, just like us. Her mono/mono identical boys, Nolan and Gabriel, turned a year old in May. Karan saw how much her little guys enjoyed their one exersaucer and bought a second one, but wished she could have just one that they could share and interact in.
Karan drew up an idea for a two-baby interactive exersaucer. A Twin Funsaucer, if you will. There’s a spot for one baby in the center, and the other baby has a spot around the outside of the exersaucer, like a snuggly wriggly solar system of joy. You can see a diagram at Quirky, where inventors can submit their ideas, and the best ideas can get turned into reality.
If you want to help get the Twin Funsaucer to market, or just help another MoM out, please visit Karan’s invention on Quirky and give it a nice big thumbs up. You do need to register to vote, but you can connect your Facebook account or create a Quirky-only account with your email address. I did the latter, and it took less than a minute to sign up and vote. I imagine that Facebook is even faster.
I asked Karan how inspiration struck, and here’s what she had to say:
The inspiration for my idea was essentially that our boys always want to play with the same toy at the same time, but with exersaucers and jumperoos, it wasn’t possible.
[Gabriel and Nolan] like interacting, but there also needed to be enough space between them that they couldn’t grab or hit one another. We have exersaucers, and this other Bright Starts toy that has an activity table with a seat attached that allows freedom of movement around the table – like a walker.
I thought, if you could combine those things, then two children could play at once. Then I thought, why couldn’t you sell an another seat for triplets? And for that matter, possibly even create a way to turn the seats into walkers when they are not attached?
I am an ideas person, but I never had something I felt so filled a niche. My mother-in-law helped me come up with a couple of possible design concepts and that was that!
More About Karan
About her sons, Karan says, “They are so smart and funny. We feel incredibly blessed that they have done so well – especially when their umbilical cords were so knotted.” Karan had to return to work only a week after the boys came home from the NICU. Her husband had been laid off from his bank manager job and stayed with them for nearly 8 months. Now that he’s back at work, they consider themselves very lucky to have found a daycare they trust with their sweet boys.
Karan and her husband met later in life. His 11-year-old daughter lives with them during the school year. You can see what a great big sister she is, and how she is adored in the photo below!
Karan started trying to conceive at age 38 and lost a pregnancy. She and her husband tried again a few months later and Gabriel and Nolan joined the family. Karan is a sonographer by day, so she discovered that she was expecting monoamniotic twins on her own! She went into inpatient care at 24 weeks at the University of CT Health Center and delivered via scheduled C-section at 32 weeks. The boys were 4 lbs 1 oz each and spent 40 and 42 days in the NICU/step down unit respectively.
Karan loves everything about motherhood much more than she thought she would. The biggest challenge she faces being a twin mom is not being able to help them both at the same time. The boys are still too little to understand that she only has two arms and doesn’t have the power to make all their hurts go away.
Karan confesses that having twinfants is also stressful on a couple. She calls her husband a patient, forgiving person, admitting that she can be hotheaded. I think a lot of us can relate to that!
You can reach Karen by email… and don’t forget to give her Twin Funsaucer your vote of confidence!
What’s your brilliant idea, just waiting to be produced?
As you have probably gleaned from others discussing this book, the message boils down to this: people usually give and receive affection in one or two of five ways, or “love languages”. Identify your loved one’s primary love languages, seeking to display your love (and accept theirs) in a way that brings them joy, and they will be able to recognize your affection.
Me? I tend to show love and appreciation through quality time and words of affirmation. I am most touched by acts of service and words of affirmation.
My daughter J, my snuggle bunny, needs physical touch and quality time.
M is glutton for words of affirmation and physical touch. Until her dad I divorced, her secondary love language was actually receiving gifts or treats..
I’d heard about this idea before, but it really rang true for me. As I was chatting with my daughters after school, getting that quality time in, I told them about what I’d been reading. J, in particular, was fascinated. We went to the book series website so that they could examine the list of love languages at their leisure.
“That makes sense!” she told me. “I need snuggles more than M. And she is always talking! What’s your love language?”
I told her that spending time with her and M was what really filled my heart, and hearing “I love you” made it overflow. So, quality time and words of affirmation were mine.
Next, she wanted to know what her teacher’s was. I told her I wasn’t sure, but that her teacher and I had a lot of other character traits in common, so we might have love languages in common too. I knew that she volunteered at the local food pantry and was always going the extra mile to help us out, so I suspected acts of service were up there for her.
The conversation eventually wound down to a logical end, and I didn’t think too much more about it.
The next day, J and M’s teacher texted me a photo of a letter she had found on her desk.
J had taken away from our discussion the idea of words of affirmation and put it into practice. Instead of just hugging her teacher or trying to perform her best on schoolwork to show her appreciation, she put it into words.
I was reminded of the bigger lesson. In order to build their literacy, it’s critical to talk to your children about what you read. It’s amazing what they can understand. By letting them know that you are a reader, you’re showing them that reading is a pleasure, not simply something one does because an adult orders them to do so. By discussing what you’ve taken away from your book, you demonstrate basic critical thinking skills, how to identify key points, and self-reflection. It’s also helpful, once they’re reading silently, to develop the habit of discussing what each of you has read to confirm that each child’s reading comprehension is keeping up with their reading fluency.
I may have taken this a little far. I used to hold extended monologues on literature with the girls when they were infants. There wasn’t much I could do while breastfeeding besides reading. They were my very passive and rather greedy book club.
Do you and your children discuss what you (and they) read?
Sadia (rhymes with Nadia) has been coordinating How Do You Do It? since late 2012. She is the divorced mother of 7-year-old monozygotic twins, M and J. She lives with them and their 3 cats in the Austin, TX suburbs and works full time as a business analyst. She retired her personal blog, Double the Fun. She also blogs at Adoption.com and Multicultural Mothering.
I don’t have a hard count, but I’d guess we have upwards of 500 children’s books at our house. I have the majority of books from my childhood, and I cannot resist buying books for the girls. When I think about our vast library, though, there are only a handful of stories that relate in any way to multiples.
When the author of “The Birthday Triplets: Granny Rosie’s Amazing Magical Day” contacted us at How Do You Do It?, I jumped at the opportunity to review the book.
The Birthday Triplets are Candi, Cookie, and Coco, three vivacious little girls who abound with love and joy. Set amid lively, colorful artwork, and fun, rhyming text, I knew my twin girls would be mesmerized with the story.
The story opens with a very lovely, but sad Granny Rosie. Granny Rosie specializes in stirring up adventures in her whimsical adventure factory, but she laments that she hasn’t been able to cook up an adventure to keep her from being alone on her birthday.
At last Granny Rosie happens upon a forgotten adventure recipe, one that invites her to her own birthday party! Granny Rosie begins to measure and stir…until…she is surprised at a huge BLAST! She thinks she’s made a mistake, until she hears giggles. She’s swept away from her factory by three giant balloons, who soon reveal themselves to be The Birthday Triplets!
Candi, Cookie, and Coco arrive just in the nick of time to help Granny Rosie celebrate her birthday! After much joyous dancing and singing, The Birthday Triplets hatch a plan to help Granny Rosie bring birthday adventures to anyone feeling sad or blue.
The girls head home – in a magical cloud, no less! – to Granny Rosie’s cottage. Granny Rosie tucks them into their beds, with visions of new adventures dancing gleefully in their heads.
The story itself is incredibly sweet and fun, underscored by the qualities of kindness, empathy, bravery, and being your best self. The artwork is truly magnificent. I can’t help but be reminded of what the most beautiful candy shop must look like in the eyes of a child, the perfect embodiment of her vivid imagination.
And as a twin mom, my favorite part of the book is when Cookie finds herself afraid at flying home in Granny Rosie’s magical cloud. She is immediately comforted by her sis Candi’s hug and wise words:
“But we’re always together – we’re there for each other forever and ever. Cookie, try to be brave. You’ll see it’s alright. Hold onto my hand as we fly through the night.”
“The Birthday Triplets: Granny Rosie’s Amazing Magical Day” is the first in what will be a series of birthday adventures starring Candi, Cookie, and Coco. The next book is scheduled to release this fall. In the meantime, kids of all ages can connect with The Birthday Triplets via their Facebook page. (Be sure to sign up to receive cards from The Triplets on your kiddos’ birthdays!) And through The Birthday Triplets’ website, kids can also sign up for the The Birthday Triplets Times newspaper.
The hardcover book is available through The Birthday Triplets website, and the softcover is also available through Amazon.
I am thankful for the opportunity to have written this review, and to have added another book with a multiples theme to our library. In exchange for writing this review, I received a copy of The Birthday Triplets book. Well, and I got to engage in a fun email conversation with the author, Kelly Tooman. [I think it’s so cool that she and her mom, Lynn Tooman-Cser, work as a mother-daughter writer-illustrator team. And that, of course, got me thinking about how amazing it would be to team up with my dynamic duo one day…but I digress. ] The views expressed here are my own.
MandyE is mom to five-year old fraternal twin girls. She blogs about their adventures, and her journey through motherhood, at Twin Trials and Triumphs.
“Mom!” said my 7-year-old, M, when I arrived from work to pick up my kids from daycare, “I checked out three chapter books from the library three hours ago and now I’ve read them all. I have nothing to read!“
I checked her backpack to see whether she’d picked out particularly short or easy books, but she had a 90-odd page Bailey School Kids book, a decent length presidential biography and a Katie Kazoo book in there. I asked her to tell me about the books and she regaled me at length with not-quite-summaries of what she’d consumed.
I know. This is a pretty great problem to have. My kids love to read. They’re fast. The challenge it poses, though, is a very real one.
I do what I can to keep my kids supplied with reading materials.
We take regular trips to the public library. Each child is allowed to pick out 7 books. Any more than that, and they lose track of where they are. I reserve a cube of the Ikea Expedit shelves in our living room for library books to keep them in one place.
I haunt bookstores. We visit Half Price Books frequently and keep an eye on their clearance racks both for our home library and their classroom book collection. I invest in books that my girls will want to read again and again.
Their school library is relatively well-stocked, although my daughter J took advantage of a persuasive letter writing assignment at school to ask her principal to invest in harder books.
I donate outgrown books to the girls’ classroom teacher, in part so that she can also snap up more advanced books for her collection when she’s adding to it.
I do a lot of book shopping online. Ebay sometimes pops up pretty fantastic lots of books. I can always donate any duplicates that we have. My girls have tablets, but they just prefer the feel of paper books to reading ebooks on their devices. I limit my Amazon.com shopping to books on specific subjects that I want but can’t find at the library, like foster care or divorce.
Our loved ones know what readers J and M are. They are wonderful about giving them gifts of books.
Paperbackswap.com is a great place to trade in old books for new for just the cost of media mail.
Anyone else have this problem? Any solutions I’ve missed?
Sadia (rhymes with Nadia) has been coordinating How Do You Do It? since late 2012. She is the divorced mother of 7-year-old monozygotic twins, M and J. She lives with them and their 3 cats in the Austin, TX suburbs and works full time as a business analyst. She retired her personal blog, Double the Fun, when the girls entered elementary school. She also blogs at Adoption.com and Multicultural Mothering.