How do you do it? Parenting Link Up #18

Skip to this week’s links | Skip to featured posts | Skip to linkup rules

Welcome to the How Do You Do It? parenting link up party where you have an opportunity to share your posts with other parent bloggers and the followers of How Do You Do It? and What’s up Fagans?.

How do you do it? is a community of mothers of multiples that believes in supporting each other, in sharing our experiences and questions, in friendship, and in encouragement. The link up is open to all of our readers, whether you have multiples or not, where you can share your wisdom, your favorite posts, your insights, with our online community here at HDYDI and What’s up Fagans?.

Each week, we pick some of our favorite posts and feature them the following week on our site! Plus, we pin them on Pinterest, tweet them on Twitter, and share them on Google+ and Facebook! Get some more exposure for your great content, and don’t forget to check out the featured posts from last week’s link up!

Plus, ldskatelyn of What’s up Fagans? is co-hosting our link party on her blog as well. One party on two blogs means double the exposure and community.

Each HDYDI parenting link up party accepts new links from Monday morning through Friday at noon.

So tell us: how do you handle pregnancy, prematurity, birth, and postpartum recovery? How do you handle tantrums, diapering bills, stress, and potty training? How do you handle education and special needs? How do you balance the needs of several children with a marriage? How do you manage being a stay-at-home mom, a working mom, or a single parent? And how do you find time for yourself?

How do you do it?!


This week’s featured posts:

We had so many great posts this last week! It really makes it hard for me to pick just three! Just an FYI, I try to pick posts that I feel are the most helpful to the largest group of people, which also share a great idea. I also try to spread the love and not feature the same bloggers week after week (although it’s hard not to sometimes as they are featured for a reason!). I love all the posts linked up, and I sincerely try to get to everyone and read them. Thank you for all the great stories of births, pregnancies, mishaps, and other life experiences. Keep them coming!

Our most clicked post from last week was from Alison of Thinking of Starting a Blog where she talks about her epic FAIL day out. Thankfully, she can find the humor now, despite the trauma of it at the time!

Turn your toddler's television show into a workoutI loved Jennifer of Hint Mama’s tip for exercising while your kids are watching TV! And to think we all thought we didn’t have time to exercise? Jennifer recommends shows that encourage movement anyway, like Yo Gabba Gabba or Barney. Do you get up and exercise with your kids?mom-essentials-kitBarb from A Life in Balance really does seem to have it in balance, thanks to her Mom Essentials Kit. As an introvert with 5 kids, these tools help her get through life. Plus, there is a link up at the bottom to check out what other Moms have in their essentials kit! Plus, she also shares how (going with the first feature) she has found time to exercise and find time for herself in THIS post from last week as well.Only Child to Full HouseKaty of Chaos and Kiddos shares this great post on how she helped her 10-year old adjust to life as a sister, and as a sister of twins! Given that her oldest was entering the fun preteens years and hormones, it was certainly a hard transition from only child to a full house!

If you were featured above make sure to grab our featured button and sport it on your blog! How Do You Do It? Featured Post


Parenting Link Up Party

Rules for the How Do You Do It? Parenting Link Up Party:

  1. Follow and connect with HDYDI on the social media platforms that you use. Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Google+ | Blog Lovin
  2. Follow and connect with What’s up Fagans? on the social media platforms you use: Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Google+ | Blog Lovin’
  3. Link up to 3 great parenting posts below! Please, no recipes posts! Of course, link directly to a post, not your main page. Also, under “name” put the title of your post.
  4. Check out at least 3 other links! This is a party, so mingle!
  5. Leave an awesome comment for those you visit and tell them you found them at the HDYDI link party! And pin them/share the posts that you really like.
  6. Tweet: Add YOUR #parenting #advice to @hdydi's #linkup! Tell everyone #howdoyoudoit! http://ctt.ec/LRfWz+ #motherhood #momwisdomTweet about the link party, pin our link party badge, share it on Facebook, or otherwise promote this party! The more the party grows, the more exposure your posts will receive, the more fun you’ll have, and the more encouragement and ideas we’ll all receive!
  7. HDYDI Parenting Link Up PartyPut How Do You Do It?‘s Parenting Link Up badge on your site! Put it in your side bar, at the bottom of the post you shared, or on a party page!


Foodie Friday: Getting Dinner on the Table

Getting on the table can be such a challenge! Some tips for getting it simple and healthy

Recently my long-time friends and I were sharing an email thread describing our shortcoming when it comes to getting a healthy dinner on the table during the work week. We are three intelligent ladies living in different areas of the US, each with different daytime duties and schedules and yet we all have one thing in common: we feel like we are failing when it comes to seamlessly feeding our kids at the end of a long day. I’m no expert, but I did come up with a list of ideas that have made my weekdays easier. Maybe some of these ideas will help make your dinners easier too:

  1. Instead of trying to plan out five meals to cook during the week, pick three.  I have found that five is too many to put together and you can usually float two meals between leftovers and schedule changes that come up as the week goes on.
  2. Make (at least) three of the same things every week.  You can switch up little things like the starch and/or the veggie side dishes (and you can change your three meals monthly if you fear you will get board) but making the same basic things during the week will save time and will help you get into a groove.
  3. Don’t make elaborate dishes.  I’m not sure about your kids, but mine really like individual foods.  Chicken legs, broccoli, avocado, rice.  Done.  Hamburgers (no bun because they really don’t eat constructed sandwiches at this age), sweet potatoes fries, veggie.  Done.  Red meat sauce and pasta, side veggie, yogurt.  Done.  Rice, lightly seasoned black beans, avocado, pork, done.  Pizza with whatever topping we have left in the fridge.  No chicken pot pies, no stews, no chili, limited soups.  I love the thought of them, but my children don’t eat them as well as individual foods, and they take too much time and effort for little return on investment.
  4. Prep SOME things on the weekend.  I have been cutting up a batch of onions, sweet potatoes, washing greens and cutting up broccoli on Sundays.  Then I just grab and go from there depending on what meal I am constructing.
  5. Make some grains on the weekends.  Make a batch of rice and cook some noodles or quinoa to have ready to go with any meal.  You can construct a lot of meals under pressure if you have these things cooked and in the fridge ready to use.  Refill your stock of one grain on Wed.
  6. Make ONE of your weekly meals on Sunday (the one that takes the longest to cook).  Roast a chicken, cook a giant package of chicken legs, cook a pork shoulder (I cook my pork shoulder completely plain then season it for other meals later e.g.  pulled pork (add bbq sauce) or tacos (pan cook it with taco spices), burrito bowls (reheat the meat with Mexican spices add it to a bowl of roasted veggies plus rice and avocado, cilantro, fresh tomato).  Cook this beef, chicken, pork, item relatively plain then add spices later to make it work for whatever you are doing.
  7. Anything you make a batch of (e.g. chili, soup, red sauce), freeze half immediately to be used for another meal.  I found that we get board of leftovers and I was consistently throwing some foods away. Having one meal in the freezer from a previous cooking adventure can be more helpful in the future.
  8. Frozen peas can be added to any meal to round it out :)

Those are my helpful tips and how I have managed to keep meal time somewhat sane.  Feel free to add any insights that have helped to get healthy meals onto your table.

Toddler Thursday: Dealing with a Toddler and Bed Rest

One year ago today I got hospitalized for one week because I went into pre-term labor with my twin boys. Things worked out really well and I was fortunate enough to go home for the remainder of my pregnancy, but on strict bed rest.

One of my biggest worries with the sudden change of events was my toddler, who was just a few months shy of 2 at the time. Most of my stress was put at ease by my amazing mother-in-law who was able to put her life on hold for a month so that she could come stay with us and help out, but I still felt badly that I couldn’t take care of my own son.

I felt like I couldn’t do some of the things that I had hoped to do with Cameron before the babies came. I really wanted to make him feel special, because I knew having two new babies in the house would be a radical change for him and I suddenly felt like I couldn’t have that bonding time with him.

Thankfully I was able to move past that idea and I realized there was still a lot that I could do from where I was sitting. I was still able to have that special time with him and you can too if this is something that you’re dealing with in some form or another. Injury, morning sickness, fatigue, or just a down right bad head cold.

Some great ideas for spending time with your toddler while you're on bed rest

Here are just a few suggestions of things you can do with your toddler(s) with very minimal physical effort:

  • Read books. Kind of no-brainer, right? My son loves books. You can make them more interactive by pointing out colors, animals, emotions, etc. Ask them to find things, ask them what sounds the animals in the illustrations make, ask them to imitate scenes, help them fall in love with a series. Books can go a long way.
  • Coloring. Markers, colored pencils, crayons, Do-A-Dot, dry erase markers on white boards or pictures in page protectors, Color Wonder markers if you’re nervous about them getting marker on the couch/bed.
  • Camp out by the bath tub and let them have at it with shaving cream or water colors all over the tub and tile.
  • Cameron loved stickers, so letting him go through his sticker book and putting stickers all over papers was a hit.
  • Let them play trains or cars gently on your tummy. You could put tape on your belly to create lanes.
  • See if they’re interested in interacting with the baby/babies in mom’s tummy. Can they feel them move? Can they hear them? What would they like to say to them?
  • Let them snuggle up to you and watch a movie or video clips on YouTube. I pulled out a lap top and watched some of my sons favorite animal clips all the time.
  • Have your child put on a show for you. They can put on some dress up outfits and you can turn on some music from your phone for them to dance around to.
  • Pretend that your child is a doctor and you are their patient. They can check your vitals while you lay down.
  • They can “write” a letter to Grandma/Grandpa. Have them write alphabet letters on a piece of paper as if their writing words. If they aren’t old enough to actually write alphabet letters, maybe have them type on a lap top or computer keyboard. You can make the font really big so they can see it better and they can just type away.

Life throws us lots of curve balls, so save this list for a rainy day. No need to feel guilty about not being able to invest your normal amount of effort each day when you are under the weather. Your children can still feel your love for them and appreciate spending time with you all the same.

Rest on, Mom.

What Is “Adjusted Age” or “Corrected Age”?

I recently witnessed an extremely heated and sometimes mean-spirited discussion of the term “adjusted age.” One side felt that the term was derogatory to preemies, while the other side felt that their families’ experiences with prematurity were being flippantly dismissed.

Of course, it all boiled down to a misunderstanding of what “adjusted age” (or the synonymous “corrected age”) means. I’d like to set the record straight.

Defining Adjusted Age

A premature baby’s adjusted (or corrected) age is medical shorthand for how old that baby would be if he or she were born at full-term at 40 weeks gestational age. What’s gestational age? The time since mom’s last period. Why since her last period? Because until relatively recently, that was the best indicator we had of when pregnancies began and it’s become a cultural norm.

Why Use Adjusted Age?

When a baby is born full-term, we don’t pay particular attention to the predicted due date. After all, 95% of babies don’t show up on the due date. The full-term birth window is two weeks on either side of that date. There’s nearly a month of wiggle room in there! I’ve seen due dates wonderfully referred to as guess dates.

So why would anyone care about a premature child’s gestational age? It comes down to development.

As any parent knows, every kid is on his or her own schedule. Still, there’s a general order of operations when it comes to human development. We start out as one cell and end up becoming neurotic adults. All that happens in between is pretty well understood by the medical and scientific establishment. Exiting the womb ahead of schedule doesn’t much impact that developmental schedule beyond putting pressure on immature systems to perform maturely.

Human babies develop in a predictable fashion, regardless of when they exit mom's womb.

Take my daughters, J and M, for instance. They were born at 33 weeks gestational age. They were born with spectacular heads of black black hair. They also had furry ears, foreheads and shoulders. The lanugo, or fetal body hair, that babies have in utero had yet to fall out. It didn’t get the memo that they’d been born. It was just doing it’s regular 33-week thing. This is J at 1 day old. Or should I say “-7 weeks adjusted”? She’s adorable, teeny tiny, and rather furry.

J is 1 day old here, born at 33 weeks gestation. She still sported lanugo on her ears and shoulders. Adjusted age: -7 weeks.

And this is her now. Just trust me when I tell you that she’s not furry. (I had to use this photo again. She was so adorably excited to learn how to sew.)

33-week preemie at age 7.

Adjusted age. That’s what we were talking about.

Let’s put prematurity aside for a moment. Imagine a 1-month-old. This baby can grasp something placed in his hand, but forget about him picking something up of his own volition. He’s probably rather bobble-headed, thanks to brand new neck muscles. Now, compare him to a 3-month-old. She’s not quite so bobble-headed, can get her hands in her mouth with ease, and swipes at toys and Mommy’s phone with gusto. Two months makes a huge development difference in that first year.

Now imagine my 33-week preemies. At 3 months old, they’re still as bobble-headed as the 1-month-old, because as far as their physical development goes, they’ve had as much time to develop from that single first cell as a 1-month-old. When it comes to predicting how much they should weigh and what they should be capable of doing, the pediatrician and I strike a balance between their birth age and their developmental (adjusted) age.

The adjusted age for a child born prematurely is measured from conception and takes into account that they’ve had less time than their birth-age peers to get up to speed. That’s all there is to it.

By age 2, there’s really no reason to use adjusted age any more. There’s not much that distinguishes a 24-month-old from a 26-month-old. By age 2, preemies are caught up, developmentally, to their birth-age peers, barring complications.

A premature child's adjusted age is a way to gauge where she is developmentally.

 As with the term “identical” twin, the non-technical meaning of the word “corrected” in “corrected age” (which is the term my kids’ doctors all use) leaves the concept prey to misunderstanding. So let’s all hug and make up.

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.

My Kids’ Peers

My kids have some really great friends. I get to hang out with a bunch of insightful, kind, thoughtful, civic-minded 7- and 8-year-olds every week. There’s the little girl who approached the “bad” kid in her class to tell him that she thought that he was lonely, not bad, and that she was going to be his friend. There’s another girl who spent her entire day between early school release and our Girl Scout meeting raising over $300 for cancer research by selling baked goods and T-shirts. And my own daughters asked friends, when they were turning 5, to bring canned goods for the food pantry to their birthday party instead of gifts.

I encourage these friendships. These girls’ parents and I have made an effort to get to know each other, and were lucky to find great compatibility. We’ve all become good friends. We arrange play dates. We let each other know when there’s a fun kid-friendly activity available in town. We watch each others’ kids and encourage them to develop relationships with the adults as well as the kids. We ask after how these friends, in particular, are doing on a nearly daily basis, since they see each other at school.

Here’s why I think having deep friendships with exemplary children is important for my kids. Ultimately, it’s their peers who will shape how my children turn out. I can do my best to drill my values into my kids, but if these values are completely foreign to the social interactions they have out of my view, out of my control, they won’t stick.

For parents, the idea that peers have a greater influence on how kids turn out is an uncomfortable one. I’ve certainly met people who flat out refuse to entertain the thought. We put so much into our children that we need to believe that what comes out will be proportional to our effort.

I believe, very deeply, that my job as a mother is to give my children the tools they need to not need me any more. I hope that J and M will choose to spend time with me, to confide in me, when they’re adults, but I hope that they don’t need me. I know that adolescence is, by definition, a tearing away of the individual from the parent. This separation has to happen for child to become adult. I want my daughters to have the right peers and mentors around them to turn to when it is developmentally appropriate for them to turn away from me.

I think of the immigrant experience and how seamlessly first generation children blend into their peer groups. Children don’t adopt their parents’ accents if there’s a peer accent to be emulated instead. I’ve rarely seen adults keep their parents’ religion unless there’s some interaction with other children with similar beliefs in childhood. Both my children and I are examples. My parents grew up in Bangladesh, I in the UK and Bangladesh and my children in the US. People who don’t know our biographies just assume we’re American through and through. We learned these things from our peers.

In some ways, I feel that my greatest responsibility to my children, beyond meeting their physical needs, is providing them with the right peer group. I didn’t handpick M and J’s best friends. I did, however, make an effort to get to know their parents, as their parents did with me. I did handpick their school, a public school that would allow my kids to meet a cross-section of our community, an academically strong one that would have high expectations for children’s self-discipline. I advocated for my children to be in the selective dual language program, putting them side-by-side with other children whose parents advocated for Spanish immersion as well as children who speak Spanish at home and require English immersion. I chose the neighbourhood to be a culturally and politically diverse one that has, by necessity, a great tolerance for diversity. I’ve chosen a church where my kids’ peers and mentors will provide for them what I cannot.

Picking Peers for My Kids

Thus far, I haven’t contended with my children picking friends who consistently make choices with which I disagree. I have helped them navigate conflict within their friendships, but I have yet to deal with “bad influences.” I may very well discover that I have a lot less to do with who my children’s elementary school friends are than I think. I know that come middle and high school, I will have completely lost any such control.

I just hope that while I still have a say in the matter, I’ve shown my kids how to choose great friends to spend time with and to emulate. That may be the greatest gift this mother can give her daughters.

What relationship do you have with your children’s friends?

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.

Saving Lives by Walking Away from Your Babies

Twins Playing

My husband, Scott, came home from work and found me on the couch staring out the window and our four month old twins on a blanket on the floor of another room screaming.

“Michelle, the babies are crying!”

“I know,” I started to cry, “I just couldn’t take it any longer trying to soothe two of them at once so I had to leave them and walk away.”

Sleep deprived. Overwhelmed. Hungry. At my limit. Alone. Inadequate. Unshowered. I was feeling all of those things in the 5 minutes or so before I had left the babies in the room.

“They won’t die from crying.”

I just remember hearing that advice somewhere from the pre-pregnancy days when you take all advice with a grain of salt and the attitude of, “Well, that won’t happen to me!” But it does happen, especially if you are alone all day caring for two or more infants and your husband or partner is working long hours.

And, this wouldn’t be the last time I would do something to keep my babies safe while I gained some emotional and physical separation. While I reached a point where I could be the nurturing mom, I needed to step away… breathe… take a break.

One time, and I truly can’t believe I did this (but my husband was working crazy hours at corporate headquarters and we had no family within a 1500 mile radius), I took one of the babies to our next door neighbor and handed the little guy to him. The story gets better. The neighbor, a young father of twins himself, was studying for the bar exam.

At this point I had had the second set of twins so I had two newborns and two under two and while I had help during the day, the witching hour between when the nanny left and when Scott came home was long and tortuous. Everyone was hungry or collicky and there was just no physical way I could do it—but I did. This particular evening, though, must have been doubly worse.

I knocked on Rueben’s door holding one of the newborns. “Here. I need you to take this baby until Scott comes home.” And, amazingly he scooped the baby from me and went inside his house. No questions. No admonitions.

I won’t say that Rueben saved that baby’s life. But, I will say that I am still grateful that he opened the door, saw desperation and reached out—with both hands.

I’ve also handed one or both newborns over the chain linked fence that separated me from our neighbors behind our house. “Please, can you just feed them their bottles while I feed the other two and get them ready for bed?” These dear neighbors would feed them and rock them on the back porch swing and I was able to feel human again.

No matter how good of a mother you are and how much you love your babies, there is a point where all of us reach a tipping point. When you are at yours, walk away. Or take them to a neighbor. Even though you think you look like the weakest person they’ve ever seen… you are actually at your strongest and most protective.

It's okay to ask for help. Parents have limits too.

How do you do it? Parenting Link Up #17

Skip to this week’s links | Skip to featured posts | Skip to linkup rules

Welcome to the How Do You Do It? parenting link up party where you have an opportunity to share your posts with other parent bloggers and the followers of How Do You Do It? and What’s up Fagans?.

How do you do it? is a community of mothers of multiples that believes in supporting each other, in sharing our experiences and questions, in friendship, and in encouragement. The link up is open to all of our readers, whether you have multiples or not, where you can share your wisdom, your favorite posts, your insights, with our online community here at HDYDI and What’s up Fagans?.

Each week, we pick some of our favorite posts and feature them the following week on our site! Plus, we pin them on Pinterest, tweet them on Twitter, and share them on Google+ and Facebook! Get some more exposure for your great content, and don’t forget to check out the featured posts from last week’s link up!

Plus, ldskatelyn of What’s up Fagans? is co-hosting our link party on her blog as well. One party on two blogs means double the exposure and community.

Each HDYDI parenting link up party accepts new links from Monday morning through Friday at noon.

So tell us: how do you handle pregnancy, prematurity, birth, and postpartum recovery? How do you handle tantrums, diapering bills, stress, and potty training? How do you handle education and special needs? How do you balance the needs of several children with a marriage? How do you manage being a stay-at-home mom, a working mom, or a single parent? And how do you find time for yourself?

How do you do it?!


This week’s featured posts:

We had so many great links last week, and several new partiers!

What having a pet teaches your childKaty of Chaos and Kiddos shares how having a pet presents your child with ample teachable moments, most unique to owning an animal. When did you let your child have a pet (and what pet did you give them?)

How to handle the unexpected at birthOur most clicked link from last week was from Trish of Help Moms Tone. She reminds us that when it comes to childbirth, plans are great, but we need to expect something UNexpected. Plus she shares some great ways to prepare for the big day.

StopTemperTantrumsBabySignLanguagePinItClare of The Super Mommy Club (previously Are They Twins?) shares how she’s taught her twins sign language and has been able to help diffuse their tantrums because of it. I, too, used it with my twins and it was a life saver!

If you were featured above make sure to grab our featured button and sport it on your blog! How Do You Do It? Featured Post


Parenting Link Up Party

Rules for the How Do You Do It? Parenting Link Up Party:

  1. Follow and connect with HDYDI on the social media platforms that you use. Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Google+ | Blog Lovin
  2. Follow and connect with What’s up Fagans? on the social media platforms you use: Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Google+ | Blog Lovin’
  3. Link up to 3 great parenting posts below! Please, no recipes posts! Of course, link directly to a post, not your main page. Also, under “name” put the title of your post.
  4. Check out at least 3 other links! This is a party, so mingle!
  5. Leave an awesome comment for those you visit and tell them you found them at the HDYDI link party! And pin them/share the posts that you really like.
  6. Tweet: Add YOUR #parenting #advice to @hdydi's #linkup! Tell everyone #howdoyoudoit! http://ctt.ec/LRfWz+ #motherhood #momwisdomTweet about the link party, pin our link party badge, share it on Facebook, or otherwise promote this party! The more the party grows, the more exposure your posts will receive, the more fun you’ll have, and the more encouragement and ideas we’ll all receive!
  7. HDYDI Parenting Link Up PartyPut How Do You Do It?‘s Parenting Link Up badge on your site! Put it in your side bar, at the bottom of the post you shared, or on a party page!


Talk to Your Children About What You Read

I’ve been reading The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts. I really should be reading the version for dealing with children, since I’m single with no intention of changing that. However, it doesn’t take much to see how the simple premise of the book relates to parenting and sibling relationships.

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.

The five love languages are:

  • Words of affirmation
  • Acts of service
  • Receiving gifts
  • Quality time
  • Physical touch

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..

The basics of applying the 5 love languages to parenting. Recognize what your child needs to feel loved and validated.

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.

A 7-year-old wrote this to her teacher after learning about the 5 love languages. From hdydi.com

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.

Encourage your kids to read, but let them see you read too. Show them how you think critically, and they will copy you.

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.

Foodie Friday: A Healthy Alternative to Thin Mints

I’ve been rather obsessed with making different types of energy bites or energy balls lately for middle-of-the-night nursing snacks.  As much as I like them though, I will be THRILLED when we don’t need nighttime nursing snacks anymore!!! (Please tell me that some day our triplets will sleep through the night!!)  I started making these little balls of goodness a couple months ago after seeing a recipe on Pinterest but have since done a lot of experimenting with various flavor and ingredient combinations.  In general, I am a “just wing it” type of cook who likes to look at recipes for inspiration but then just throws things together.  Measuring is not really something I do, which is why baking isn’t really my strong suit.  The great thing about these little energy balls is that they are “no bake” gems that are very forgiving to imprecise measuring.  I’ve only made one “I bet this would be good in here” batch that flopped and the rest have been pretty tasty. These little energy balls are pretty quick and easy to throw together, which we MoMs know is clutch because “free time” tends to come in short bursts!  I’ve made many a batch of these wearing a baby or two.

Because you now know how much I despise measuring, I hope you will appreciate the effort it took me to actually measure and write down this recipe for you!  I would catch myself about to just toss something in and then remember that I needed to measure it so I could pull this recipe together.  But for those of you out there who are creative cooks like myself, please feel free to add “ish” after all these measurements! I’ve also added notes about substitutions that would work nicely if you don’t have these things on hand.

The raw ingredients!

The raw ingredients!

We love having these for nighttime nursing and since they’re chock full of oats I think they’re good for our milk supply.  They also have a little protein to help them stick with you.  And the best part is that they are delicious!  I’ll grab one from the fridge and it feels like sneaking a bite of cookie dough without the guilt!

The finished product!  They look a lot like meatballs, but trust me, they're delicious!

The finished product! They look a lot like meatballs, but trust me, they’re delicious!

Chocolate Peppermint Energy Balls

  • 1 cup cashew meal (I find this at Trader Joes.  Almond meal also works great)
  • 2 cups oats (I use gluten free oats from Trader Joes, but any will do)
  • 1 cup oatbran (if you don’t have this you could sub oats or more nut meal)
  • 1/2  cup cacao powder (standard cocoa powder works fine too)
  • 1/2 cup finely diced dates (not tightly packed)
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup (can subagave or honey)
  • 1/2 tsp peppermint extract
  • 2 Tbs chia seeds
  • 1/3ish cup hot water
  • 1/4 cup chocolate chips (I like to use mini chips but was out when I made this batch)

Instructions: Mix all dry ingredients together in a large mixing bowl.  Put chia seeds in a measuring cup and then add water up to about the 1/2 cup line and let rest for a few minutes.  When you come back to your chia seeds they should have absorbed the water and be pretty thick and gel-like.  Add maple syrup and peppermint extract to the chia and water mixture and stir that and the dates into the dry ingredients.  It can take a bit of work to fully distribute the dates and wet ingredients.  The “dough” will be pretty dry and crumbly looking.  Mix in chocolate chips.  This is where it gets messy.  Now grab a small handful of “dough” and smush it together.  Some recipes say to “roll” the bals, but in my experience it’s really more of a smushing than rolling to get them to stick together.  This recipe will make approximately two dozen balls about an inch in diameter.  Usually about halfway through making the balls my hands are so sticky that the balls aren’t smushing well.  So I just wash my hands and come back for another round of smushing.  For those of you with older kiddos this would be a great job for your kiddos to help with!

Other flavors I’ve made include chocolate peanut butter, almond joy, chocolate almond, and honey peanut butter banana.  I’ll try to find the time to measure out the ingredients for these recipes and post them on our blog therrientriplethreat.blogspot.com.

 

One Grilled Cheese

A mother makes dinner for 3 on autopilot, instead of just for herself and one of her twins.

This year, my daughters’ after school care provider, the YMCA, began offering free dinner to children who are still in their care at 5:30 pm.

While it take some relinquishing of control on my part, I’ve come to love it. The girls aren’t grumpy from hunger when I pick them up. Waiting to feed myself until after they’re in bed gives us that much more time together. I don’t have to do backbends to ensure that they’re fed before evening activities such as dance lessons and Girl Scouts.

Sadly, as the novelty has worn off, my daughters have discovered meals they don’t like and won’t eat. They’ve always skipped the same meals… until last night.

M overheard her friend Tori’s mom say that there were bad unhealthy things in corn dogs, so she decided to do without. J, on the other hand, gobbled dinner down.

When I learned this, I offered M a couple of dinner options, from which she chose a grilled cheese sandwich. When we got home, I sent the girls off to wash their hands and put their backpacks away while I made M’s sandwich. I began heating up the sandwich press, washed my hands, laid out two slices of bread, topped them with cheddar cheese slices, layered on a second slice of bread.

Once the sandwiches were warm but not crisp, the way my kids like them, I put them each on a plate and assembled a turkey sandwich in the sandwich press for myself.

When I served the sandwiches, J didn’t come to the table, of course, since she’d already eaten. And then I realized what I’d done. From habit, I’d made a sandwich for each child, even while consciously aware that only one would eat.

M ended up taking the extra sandwich, plus an apple, into school today for dinner. And then, after a friend sneezed on her sister’s dinner, she gave her half.

What do you do on autopilot?