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Hello, faithful HDYDI readers!

We’ve been busy rearranging things here at the ol’ blog.  New contributors, fresh voices, new schedule.  And in the spirit of all of this change, we’ve decided to move to our very own domain!

So please, change your links and blogrolls, and come visit us at our new home:

www.HDYDI.com

We’re still unpacking the boxes and getting settled, but new writers have gotten started and we’re excited for our new digs! Can’t wait to see you there!

I picked this post to recycle because, at 26 months, many of these feelings still ring true. Maybe a little less powerfully and a little less frequently, but they are still there. Just this morning, with my mom in town, I took my little girl out running errands by herself. She had a blast. I had a blast. We had some special time together and hit five different places—my work, the post office, the library, CVS and Dunkin Donuts (for a treat for me (caffienated) and her (no caffeine). This is about three errands more than I would ever attempt with the two of them together. She was sweet, easy and charming the entire time. Not, perhaps, how I would always describe her on our trips out as a threesome.

So, I’m going to admit to the un-admitable here for a MOT. Sometimes I have one baby envy. Not that I don’t love my kiddos, because I do. Not that I have a baby picked out that I would choose not to have (at least not since Danny stopped waking up every two hours, ALL NIGHT LONG, to breastfeed. At six months). But, twins were never in my long-range plan. I wasn’t the little girl who thought having twins would be fun. I wasn’t even the newlywed who thought twins would be great. It wasn’t until I had experienced two years of infertility and a failed round of IVF that twins started looking pretty fantastic. That got me through the first nine months or so, saying things like, “I wouldn’t change this for the world!” and “Twins are so much more fun than just one baby!”. And it’s true, I wouldn’t. And they are. But…..lately I’ve been looking around and feeling a bit of one baby envy. A friend tells me about a trip to California site-seeing when their baby was 11 months old. Um, no thanks. I can’t even imagine the stress and lack of sleep that would occur if I tried that with TWO babies. (Props to those of you who might be planning such a trip). I see a couple out to dinner with their six month old. At six months, I was simply trying to survive. Besides, my kids melt down by 6pm—no dinners out for us. Friends start to talk about baby #2. Baby #2? We’ve GOT baby #2. And my husband begins yelling very loudly, “I can’t hear you!” with fingers in ears if the topic of another baby ever comes up. Mommy and me yoga. Baby swimming classes. Running into a store/friend’s house/work with one baby propped on my hip—no stroller or carseats involved. Getting a babysitter. Do you know how many teenagers are NOT into watching two babies? Shocking, really. Babies nine months 002

And then my babies got sick. Not a little cold or an ear infection sick, but two weeks of every symptom imaginable, rotating through our household one by one. Vomiting for 12 hours (which my husband and I had the pleasure of experiencing as well), fevers (104.2 for Abigail), ear infection (Abigail again), probable pneumonia (also Abigail) and for the duration, clingy, sad, needy babies. Times two. Who ONLY wanted…yep, you guessed it…Mommy. Not Daddy, who is usually Abigail’s favorite person ever. Not my mom. Not the sitter. Me. It’s hard to hold two babies, much less comfort and care for two inconsolable little ones. All I wanted to do was let Abigail nap on me for two hours, since it’s the only place she’d sleep. But Danny needed to be held, and changed, and fed. So I would have to disrupt her, put her down, listen to her cry, while I took care of Danny. And then Danny would cry when I picked up Abigail. Fun times, really. So, I’ll admit it. The past few weeks, I’ve been pretty down on the two babies at a time thing. I love my kids. I’m so happy I finally got to have them. But, boy does that one baby only thing look fun sometimes. Especially when I’m juggling two babies in my arms, an iced coffee and a bag of groceries and I drop my keys. (Yeah, I think the neighbors watch out the windows all day just to get to catch amusing incidents like this). So, I’ve been in a pissy mood. And I feel even worse when I feel guilty about my one baby envy (made worse by a fellow MOT who said to me, while I was in the thick of it, twins are so great, I NEVER wish there was only one. Yeah, the mommy guilt really went nuts over that one. ) Of course, then I look at their cute little faces, or at them giggling with each other, and it’s hard to have one baby envy for long. It helps that they are no longer sick. The envy will will return at some point soon, I’m sure…….probably the next time I walk by a mom carrying her (one) baby out of Dunkin’ Donuts, happily sipping on the iced coffee she’s got in her other hand.

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 http://mybabycantalk.com/ 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:  http://www.borders.com/online/store/TitleDetail?sku=1401900410

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!

Edited to add: at 24 months of age, my kids have learned 75 signs plus a few letters in the alphabet. However, the amount of signing they do has been reduced drastically due to their ability to chatter incessantly!

What are your thoughts on baby signing?

This past Sunday my twins turned one. I can hardly believe it. The year absolutely flew by.

I had been planning to write a little post on surviving your first year with twins, but as I started thinking about what I would say, I started to realize something. This year wasn’t just about survival. Sure, in the beginning, it was a seemingly never-ending cycle of feed, burp, nap, diaper change, repeat. And we did it all in a sleep-deprived haze. There were also the sleep issues and many, many ear infections, and bouts of bronchitis, croup, etc. Maybe THOSE parts were about survival.

But this year was so much more. This year absolutely changed my life. As a mother, as a wife, as a daughter, as a person. Here’s how:

  • I no longer procrastinate. In my pre-twin life, I was a master procrasinator. I find that since becoming a Mother of Multiples, I no longer have that luxury. If I have 5 minutes to do laundry, I better do it. If I don’t, it may sit there until next week. Act now or forever miss your opportunity. Things are actually getting accomplished around my house and often in advance of when they need to be done! I’m also more productive in the office because I never know when I’ll need to take an emergancy sick or vacation day to tend to a child.
  • I am learning to be flexible. (I’m still working on this, but getting much better!) In life, things happen. Even with the best of intentions, schedules and routines, there is bound to be a kink in the plans at some point. In the not-so-distant past the unexpected speedbumps in my routine would have thrown me so far off course I couldn’t recover. With twins, the bumps come frequently. I have no choice but to adjust and keep moving forward. We are all happier and more relaxed as a result of Mommy’s new abilities.
  • Immediate family now comes first. Growing up, I saw my immediate family (mother, father, brother and me) as one unit. Our unit was part of a bigger, extended family but I knew that the four of us were our own, standalone group. When I got married and even when I had my singleton, I still saw myself as part of that original core unit. It was only with the arrival of the twins that I’ve realized: we’ve now become our own unit. And I finally feel comfortable scheduling, planning, and standing up for what I think is best for this immediate family.
  • I appreciate the female body (even) more. Pregnancy and childbirth is an amazing experience. But carrying and delivering multiple babies goes beyond words. Then, watching my body provide nourishment for the two babies at the same time…I’m speechless.The female body is an amazing, amazing thing!
  • I am much more patient. I have developed a much higher tolerance for noise, hair pulling, eye poking and monotonous play. I am content to sit on the floor for 45 minutes and let the kids climb on me; I no longer worry about what’s NOT getting done when I sit there and I no longer worry about moving on to the next activity. This one is fun? Let’s stay with it. As a result, I’m more patient with my husband, my dog and my co-workers. I am not any more patient while driving, but I’m working on that.
  • I want to be there for other people. Having been through the high-risk pregnancy and the NICU experience (twice), and ending up with all of these beautiful, healthy children has made me so very thankful for all that I have. As a result, I have been finding joy in helping others – even others I don’t know. My charitable donations are up, I’m donating more time (yes, time!), I’m just generally more involved in the world around me. And I enjoy it.
  • I love my husband (even) more. I’ve made no secret about how involved my husband is. I didn’t think before the twins arrived it was possible to love him more. But watching him step right up and help with them and our daughter and with me…I guess it was entirely possible. Ditto that feeling for my mom and dad.
  • I consider my situation to be my own and don’t compare it to those around me. I no longer compare my life to the lives of those around me. I feel more free as a result. Is my life crazy because I have twins? Yup. Is your life crazy because you have one baby? Or six? Yes. And Yes. Our situations are not the same; we are all different. There is no point in comparing whose life is harder or who has it better. I just make the best of what I have and I don’t worry about what others are doing.
  • I find the humor in things. Two little boys alternately projectile vomiting at a 3-year old’s birthday party? That would have made me cry two years ago. Now, what choice do I have but to laugh?

So, Happy Birthday Aaron and Brady. You have made me a better person. I can’t imagine my life without you little monkeys!

The following post, “Keeping It Real” is shamelessly lifted from my own blog, RaJen Creation. It addresses some of the visible changes our home has experienced as the multiples metamorphose from infants to toddlers. It’s not even archivey, considering it was originally published less than two months ago. But what is that they say: the days are long but the years are short? Yeah, it’s like that.

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I receive messages and emails from readers (thanks, by the way, to those that emerge from lurkdom to comment or email!) asking various questions about what we use or how we did something. A few have mentioned how organized and tidy we keep things. And if that’s what you think, then you want me on your Balderdash team.

We are far from orderly (you should see the piles on our dining room table), a fact I become especially aware of in instances like last Thursday when I went to a family’s home in the neighborhood. Until then, I’ve always been skeptical that anyone could actually have the home pictured in a Pottery Barn catalog. But they made me a believer. Everything Had A Place. And a label. And for those of you who know me, you know very well that I was like Pavlov’s dog in there.

In my reality, however, organization and cleanliness is a work in progress for me now, particularly since our home is in constant transformation, as illustrated in the following photos.

This shot was taken in December, 2007. Our home used to be this tidy. Because I was pregnant, and because I hand-string all those lights, we used our “little” Christmas tree and kept the rest of the decorations to a minimum. Mostly because I was tired. Notice my beloved piano.

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Fast forward seven months to July, 2008. The kids were around three months old and we were around..EXHAUSTED. Both babies had been diagnosed with reflux. Something we kinda figured what with all the projectile vomiting and all. Hence, the towels. Notice the coffee table made of glass and iron. And that the piano is there. But that the orange chair and ottoman are not. The chair is now in the nursery because the second of us needed some back support when feeding babies at bedtime. The ottoman is all jacked up in a closet somewhere.

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Four months later and it was November, 2008. The reflux was gone by now, so there were less towels around. What? No coffee table? That moved to the garage. I always tsk tsked those people who had so much shit in their garages that they couldn’t park the cars in there. And while I’ve yet to succumb entirely, I have a soft spot for those families now. It all makes sense. We had also moved the sofa to the center of the room, something our real estate agent suggested we do, you know, so that a prospective buyer might have the feeling that this could very well be their home. Uh, yeah, doubtful. And yes, those are their halloween costumes splayed across the brown leather chair. In November.

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Moving into March, 2009. With experienced crawlers in the house and with the kids at home with a nanny, we had to chose to make some changes for what we perceive to be their benefit. Yep, no piano – sold in January 2009. Teensy living rooms and baby grands don’t mix with exponentially mobile toddler-approaching-babies. The sofa is now against the wall. The brown leather chair pushed up against the opposite wall to create a barrier between chew-on-everything-ers and the iPod docking station and stereo subwoofer. There’s a black interlocking foam mat at the bottom of the stairs to cushion the inevitable falls near the stairs. We also moved the red bookcase upstairs, strategically placed in front of the fireplace. It sits upon a black workout mat which covers the hard slate and it is cut to accommodate the mantle molding.

Not A Fan Of Baby Einstein

Incidentally, you see Harper’s face? She hated Baby Einstein. I don’t know if was because they’ve been subjected to maybe a combined 4 hours of television in their lives, or if it was that creepy monkey hand puppet. Either way, I won’t force the television on them anymore, particularly since Mateo was disinterested altogether.

I’ll have to take After-Kids photos to provide a stark contrast to the Before-Kids photos of the nursery and play area.

When contemplating which post to recycle during our Archive week, my personal life collided with my bloglife. I have raved over and over about the GoGo Kidz Travelmate. Since I originally wrote this post, I’ve taken many more flights with my twins using the Travelmates. I took a plane trip by myself with the kids! I’ve lent our GoGo Kidz to an untold numbers of friends for traveling and everyone raves about this product. If you’re planning a plane trip with twins, this would be the #1 product I would recommend.

Last week, one of my friends borrowed a Travelmate to travel cross-country alone with her son. One of the wheels came off it at the airport! She contacted GoGo Babyz, which happens to be located in the same city where she is staying. GoGo Babyz asked her to come in, where they upgraded the axle and replaced both wheels for free. With such great customer service, I decided to recycle this post.

My favorite product for traveling with young twins is the GoGo Kidz Travelmate. This attachment straps onto a car seat essentially turning the car seat into a wheelie bag. Instead of lugging a double stroller, two car seats, and two kids through the airport, you can wheel each kid. Prepare to be stopped when you travel with these because people want to know what they are and where you bought it.

Using Travelmates made our trip logistics easier. At the curb, my husband Jon put the Travelmates on the car seats while I entertained the kids in the car. I wheeled the kids into the terminal while Jon parked the car. We each wheeled one child through security. We quickly strapped the kids in before moving away from security.

As for getting on and off the plane, there is no easy way to do this with young twins. If you do not buy seats for your kids, you can gate-check the car seat/Travelmate combo. We bought seats for our boys so it was a little more complicated.

We took the Travelmate off the car seat before getting on the plane. We put each child in a car seat and carried the car seat with a child in it. We asked the flight attendants to stow the Travelmates for us as soon as we got on board. Upon arrival, we carried the boys into the terminal in the car seats before attaching the Travelmate.

(Side note: now that we have two cars, we keep one set of car seats with Travelmates attached in the trunk. And now that my boys don’t ride in their car seats on the plane, we planeside check the Travelmates.)

Without Travelmates, I found the idea of air travel with twin toddlers daunting. With Travelmates, I can’t say air travel with toddlers is easy, but it is certainly much, much easier and means one less thing to worry over. And if you ever need to RUN from one terminal to another terminal at O’Hare Airport because you have only 10 minutes to make a connection and they are not holding the plane for you, you will want to kiss your Travelmates. Trust me on this one.

Read all about the GoGo Kidz Travelmate at their website www.GoGoBabyz.com.

I don’t know what it’s like to have one baby. I’ve never done it. In many ways, I count myself lucky. Because a lot of moms (new or otherwise) looked at me with shock and fear when I said I was having twins. Clearly, they felt that no mere mortal could possibly take care of two babies at the same time. But I didn’t know any different, so I could only get so freaked out. And you know what? It has been fine.

But only knowing what it’s like to have two has warped my perception of all other people. For one thing, a phrase heard frequently in my house goes something like “those people with just one baby, what do they do with all that free time?” I know, it’s obnoxious, but I can’t lie. We think that way. We definitely also have romanticized notions about how much easier this thing or that thing would be if we only had one. I’m sure that I’d think life was plenty tricky if I had a singleton, but because I don’t, I can imagine how delightfully simple it would be. As Rebecca said so well this weekend, I totally get one-baby envy.

I also found myself, from about halfway through my pregnancy, kind of assuming plural whenever I talked about baby-related things. I forgot that most people only had one, that I was the weirdo.  It’s a mindset that’s hard to shake. Oh, you mean you only bought one crib? Where’s your other carseat? You didn’t trade in your Honda Civic for a Toyota Sienna? No? Huh.

When I first mentioned this to my husband (M), he thought I was crazy. Maybe that I was being excessively self-centered or something, locked in my own little world. Oh, how times have changed. My stepbrother’s first child (my first niece!) is due in June, and I was putting together a care package of some of our favorite newborn essentials. I bought three good waffle-knit blankets for swaddling. M looked at me like I was nuts. “Why would you get three?” he asked. “That doesn’t make any sense. Then you only have one extra… Oh wait. Nevermind. They’re only having one. Huh.”

See? It happens to all of us. For as often as people look at you like you’re a freak of nature, or (I’m not kidding) laugh as they walk past you, it’s sometimes easy to forget that not everyone has two babies at once.  For as many times as I’ve wished I could just pop in and out of the store for a “quick” errand, I look at people in the grocery store with the baby in the basket, and wonder who’s taking care of the other one.  So, if I meet you someday and take a minute to mentally adjust that there isn’t another one at home with dad, please forgive me.  I have a slightly warped sense of reality.

Dueling Exersaucers

So, you’re telling me that most new moms don’t have two exersaucers taking up half of their living room? No? Huh.

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