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Archive for March, 2008

Goodbye, Graco

Another day, another milestone in my house! Daniel in SnugRideSaturday, after returning home from our new Sign & Sing class, I removed our trusty Graco SnugRide carseat bases from the minivan. I had been leaving the seats themselves in the car for the last week or so. It has just become too heavy and cumbersome to lug them in and out of the house with the babies in them. While the kids aren’t particularly close to the stated size limits (22lbs and/or 29in), it just felt like time to be done with them. Maybe if I had just one kid I’d hold onto it longer… but not with two.

[As an aside, I can’t imagine purposefully getting one of the seats with even higher size limits… not only are the seats, themselves, even heavier, but lugging a 30-lb baby around in a carrier?! Good lord!]

This also, of course, means saying a fond farewell to our Double Snap N Go. Ah, the Snap N Go. My constant companion. You just can’t beat having a carseat stroller frame. It literally was used almost every day. It has gotten to the point, though, that I have sort of a love-hate relationship with it. Convenient and essential though it was, it also drives like a bus and can be kind of awkward and clunky.

Rebecca in MarathonTaking the place of the old equipment are two Britax Marathons (purchased on sale from Amazon.com last month, at a better price than Babies R Us, even with the twin discount), which are enormous but should last us a good 3+ years. For the stroller, we’ve been using our Peg-Pérego Aria Twin off and on all along, but now it’s the primary go-to set of wheels. The best part about it is that it’s quite lightweight. The downside, as is the case with many standard strollers, is that it can’t handle much more than flat, dry, unobstructed pavement. I’m not much of an outdoorsy-type, but I do like to take nice walks and could see the benefit of a more terrain-friendly stroller. So, I’m stalking Craigslist to see if I can find something (the Mountain Buggy Urban Double, if I’m lucky) for a more reasonable price than the $650+ for a new one.

Daniel & Rebecca are outgrowing (physically and developmentally) a bunch of things recently. The swing hasn’t been used in nearly two months, bouncy seats even longer. And today, we wave goodbye to their main mode of transport for the last eight months. In truth, we’ll use them once more when we fly to Florida in two weeks, but that’s the last of it. I have an email partially composed, ready to send to my MOT club listserv, to unload all of this baby gear on someone else. It has been good to us, and it’s all still in darn good condition, but I’m ready to see it go. There’s plenty of other stuff taking up space in our house right now.

If I sit and think about it, it’s a little bit bittersweet to think that my babies aren’t such little babies anymore. Coming home from the hospitalI think about how tiny they used to be in those carseats they’re now outgrowing. I think about how the Snap N Go was a lifesaver, that I wouldn’t have been able to leave the house without it in those early weeks and months. But then I remember what those first weeks and months were like. And I quickly snap out of it and remember how much happier I am now, with fun and nearly-mobile eight-month-olds, than in the hazy, hellish days of eight-week-olds. Yeah… see you later, newborn stuff!

Cross-posted at Goddess in Progress

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…for the twice-yearly event known as the Twin Club Sale! I’ve been meaning to write up a whole post extolling the virtues of Twin Clubs and particularly, the consignment sales they’re famous for. I’m fairly involved with my twin club, so I always volunteer at the sale. This year, I ran one of the registers at the member’s only sale – the big event that’s open to the public isn’t until tomorrow morning. We’ll have a line of probably a hundred people waiting to get in at 7 in the morning – everyone’s looking for a bargain!

Oh, had I only KNOWN the bargains available at these sales when I was pregnant with my twins. I could have picked up cribs, carseats, a double stroller, Exersaucers, etc. etc. etc. for a FRACTION of what I paid for them new. And it’s all pretty nice stuff, too. What I really look forward to, though, is unloading all of our outgrown clothing and equipment we no longer need. A few weeks after the sale, I get a nice little check from the club. This year, it’s going to pay for our gas money to drive to California so our kids can meet Mickey Mouse.

Here’s our club’s big sale, all ready for the crowd of shoppers:

2008 Spring Sale

If you haven’t checked out these types of sales, you are missing OUT, mama!

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Sharing our love for the great outdoors with our kids was something that B and I looked forward to since the day we found out I was pregnant.  As Alaskans, we live in a winter wonderland from October to May and are then blasted with 20+ hours of daylight from May until August.  It’s very easy to escape into the mountains or cruise on up to the trails because they are, literally, right in our backyard.  Of course, as easy as it is to get your outdoor fix in Alaska, when you have kids, having the right gear is a must! During the winter, we enjoy cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.  And when summer comes around, it’s all about biking and hiking!  With the exception of hiking, the Burley d’lite bike/ski/stroll trailer is a multi-season must-have for toting two kidos around the neighborhood, ski trails and/or bike paths so that the whole family can get their outdoor fix. 

Once our kids hit the 1-year mark this past January, we were very excited to try out the Burley!  Because it was winter, the We! Ski kit was a must.  The Burley d’lite itself is a bike trailer, however, there are several conversion kits that you can purchase depending on what activities you plan to do with your Burley.  We opted for the We! Ski kit and the Stroller kit.  We have a BOB Revolution Duallie that we use for rough terrain and daily walks, so opted not to purchase the Jogger kit.   

For the boys’ first Burley trip, we took them out for a cross-country ski in the fields a few miles from our house.  The Burley folded up very quickly and easily so that we were able to put it in the back of our Subaru Outback.  If you had an SUV or even a slightly larger trunk-area than we have with our Subaru, there would not even be a reason to fold it.  Unfolding the Burley, once at our destination, was simple and involved only a few clicks and we were good to go!   

The roomy interior seats are suspended over the wheel axles and are made of heavy-duty mesh.  Much like our BOB Revolution Duallie, the shoulder harness is a 5-point system (though it’s a bit different than a typical 5-point) and extremely well-padded.  The seats are able to be reclined, though not independently. Depending on the weather, the Burley offers two levels of protection for your tykes.  For mild conditions (or to keep the bugs away), the mesh screen provides adequate protection and allow your babes to feel the wind on their cheeks.  For cold, harsh or windy weather, the plastic wind screen provides additional protection from the elements and keeps the kids warm and cozy.  The dual-zippers make it simple to change the cover from one level of protection to the other, and also allows easy access to your kids.  Being that we live in the Land of the Midnight Sun, we are always concerned about sun protection.  The side-windows and wind-screen cover on the Burley are not only tinted, but also offer UV protection.  Coupled with the adjustable sun-shade (which offers much more coverage than the typical stroller shade), the kids are well protected. 

open
mesh

From a parent’s perspective, the Burley is very well built, yet extremely light for its ruggedness!  The whole kitten caboodle weighs in at 28 lbs, which is much less than our BOB (32 lbs) or our every-day stroller, the Maclaren Twin Traveller side-by-side (32 lbs).  The only bummer is that there aren’t any cup holders, but obviously these would only be needed with the stroller kit.  There is, however, ample storage room in the rear.  We’ve been able to stuff extra clothes, snacks and sippy cups with room to spare. My husband has both cross-country and skate-skied with the We! Ski attachment without having a problem using either technique, thanks to a well-padded and snug-fitting hip harness.  When turning corners, however, I’d recommend taking them slower than you usually would without a trailer attached to you.  Although the Burley is designed to not tip over even if you fall, it’s still best to play it safe…not to mention, your kids will be more likely to keep their lunch down.  When hill climbing, although you will notice the extra weight that you are pulling, it’s surprisingly easier than you’d think because the weight is very evenly distributed across your hips. 

ski

When using the Stroller kit, which we’ve done only a handful of times, it was hard for me to get used to not pushing something with huge wheels at first.  I found that I had to be a bit gentle with curbs and ice/snow patches than I would normally do with our BOB, but this is due to a smaller front wheel attachment.  While I would not recommend buying the Burley strictly for use as a stroller, I do think it is a fine option for dry pavement. 

stroll

Once the snow melts, you can count on another product review of the Burley d’lite in its purest form…as a bike trailer!  But until the temperatures warm up and we know that spring is here to stay in Alaska, all four of us will continue to enjoy the Burley while we ski or stroll!

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My kids are now almost 12 months old. I waited to start solid foods until my babies were six months old. Partially, because that’s what the lactation consultant recommended. And, partially, because when they were four months old, I simply couldn’t face adding more work into my life. Between staying home with the babies full-time, a half-finished dissertation proposal and a class full of second year masters students to teach, I felt like my plate was full. I couldn’t really face it at six months either, but, by that point, I’d waited long enough.  The kids were thrilled—Abigail seemed to look at me and try to say, “Ah, Mom! This is what I’ve been wanting! This is fantastic!”. Danny was less thrilled, but quickly got into it.

 While physically feeding them was okay, the mess that was created was fantastic! Another HDYDI mom asked recently, “How do you deal with the mess?”. Ah, a question I wish I had the answer for. Sweet potato in the hair. Yogurt smeared all over the tray. I double bib (small cloth bib underneath, with a big plastic bib with a pocket on top) but still some food gets through. I push up the sleeves. I try making the food thicker to try to keep it on the spoon. This is only successful when the babies don’t decide to feed themselves (they’re 11 months now, and independence is a big thing for them)….ah, an excited baby with a spoonful of oatmeal. Shake spoon excitedly! Yell loudly! Food goes flying….seriously, it’s airborn. It’ll hit the table behind them, or the floor two feet away, or, if she’s unlucky, the cat as she walks by. (Poor cat has seriously had a decrease in her quality of life since the kiddos arrived. Cat fur is so soft and fun to pull….). And now, the new developmental step is throw something over the side (of the high chair, the crib, the stroller) and then lean way over to watch it. Where did it go? On the floor? How fascinating to see it there! Let’s see what happens if I do it again!

We’ve been working on sign language for months now (with no signs in return…sigh) but Abigail’s new sign for “all done” appears to be sweeping her hands back and forth across the tray, sweeping all leftover food onto the floor. The cat is thrilled if it’s chicken…..useless if it’s bits of orange or apple. (She’ll deign to snack on cheese or tofu only if I’ve forgotten to feed her a snack recently). My floor is covered with small bits of snacks and splotches of purees. I never clean it enough. (The cleaning people have taking to spraying it with cleaner and letting it soak for 20 minutes before even trying to mop. Ew.)

There isn’t really advice in this column. I can’t say I’ve ever dealt particularly well with the mess. I have resorted to dinner in a diaper and socks only (their feet might get cold), which vaguely horrifies my husband (where did their clothes go?) but that I think makes perfect sense. Why get clothing covered with food when you don’t have to? But this isn’t really a practical solution for all meals. What do others do? Should I just bite the bullet and replace my cat (sorry kitty!) with a nice (small) dog who will happily clean my floor for me? Because that’s just what I need, something else to take care of and clean up after.

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Perspective

(I was given this framed poem for my birthday, and thought I would share it.)

 Her Little Shadows

I saw a young mother with eyes full of laughter

And two little shadows come following after

Wherever she moved, they were always right there-

Holding onto her skirts, hanging onto her chair,

Before her, behind her-an adhesive pair.

 

“Don’t you ever get weary as, day after day,

Your two little tagalongs get in your way?”

 

She smiled as she shook her pretty young head,

And I’ll always remember the words that she said:

It’s good to have shadows that run when you run

That laugh when you’re happy and hum when you hum-

For you only have shadows when your life is filled with sun.

~Barbara Burrow

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Do you have a question for the moms of How Do You Do It? Ask away in the comments or through our Features page.

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This week’s question comes from Lyna, who has a 3-year-old and 10-month-old twins. She’s concerned about not spending enough time with her twins. After a long day of work, she comes home emotionally and physically exhausted, and finds it difficult to spend time with her two babies. She worries the twins are not getting enough from mom, and that she might be favoring her firstborn at their expense.

First, Lyna, cut yourself a little bit of a break. Being a mom is great, but it’s also hard, frustrating, tiring, and comes with a lot of internal and external pressures. It’s easy to get caught up in what you think you “should” be doing, especially as it relates to things you don’t think you’re doing “enough.” We all deal with it, whether we have other kids or not, whether we work outside the home or not. You’re far from alone.

Also, words of wisdom from LauraC, via her moms of twins club: “Your babies do not know any differently than what you do with them. They do not know that singletons get held more or got more attention. They only know their own reality. The babies have no expectations of you – you have expectations of yourself.” Your twins do not know that they are having a different experience than their older sister had at their age, and frankly, they don’t care. They have learned from day one that sometimes they have to wait their turn (though they might not be happy about it, of course!), and are not automatically emotionally scarred because they were not held as much as their big sister.

Now, on to strategies. First, as is a common suggestion from the HDYDI moms, have you joined your local moms of twins club? Many of them offer some kind of new mom/mentoring/big sister program, so you may want to try to connect with nearby moms who also have an older child and infant twins, or have already gone through it. It will help to see, first-hand, that your experience is not so unique.

Second, just jump right in there. Don’t let your worries about “not being able” to play with or hold both twins deter you from playing with either of them. Ten months is a great age, as they can play more independently, they can sit and probably crawl, etc. They will love it if you just sit on the floor with them, read a board book (or five), play peekaboo. Heck, they even get a kick out of playing with a basket of laundry that needs folding. Like TraceyS talked about last week, consider changing your outlook. Redefine “quality time” in your own mind. It doesn’t have to look the same as it did with your singleton, and in fact, it’s impossible for it to look the same. It doesn’t have to mean lots of holding and carrying, which can often be quite impractical with two babies. It can mean all of you singing silly songs together, or whatever.

Third, divide and conquer. Cynthia likes to switch off which boy she puts to bed each night, while her husband takes the other. A nice little dose of quiet solo time with each baby to cuddle, read stories, etc. And assuming your 3-year-old goes to bed a bit later than the 10-month-olds, that still leaves special time for her after they’re down for the night. Carrie and others are all about having “dates” with one child at a time on the weekends. Trade off with your husband who has which kid(s), and then have an outing. It doesn’t have to be fancy. Go to the coffee shop, go to the grocery store, just go for a walk. But taking time to focus on each child one at a time, even if it’s only once a week or so, can go a long way.

Some other recommendations include, while your twins are still a bit young for family dinner time, postpone adult dinner until after the kids are in bed. That allows you to use as much of their awake time as you can to focus on them instead of other things. Consider a carrier, such as the Ergo, for carrying one baby hands-free (whoever is fussing more or enjoys the carrier more). That allows you to pick up the other when necessary, or play a game with your toddler, while one baby at a time gets some close contact.

While this particular variety of mommy guilt (I’ve heard it referred to as “second child syndrome”) is amplified with twins, it’s not unique to moms of multiples. Anyone with more than one child, especially if you’ve had a singleton first, has to come to grips with the fact that the younger child(ren) will not have the same “infant experience” as your first. All of us with twins (or more) have worried that maybe we aren’t holding them enough, singing to them enough, or any number of things we feel we’re “supposed” to be doing. We each have more than one child, but there’s still only one mommy. Learning to play independently, or to entertain each other, is a good skill. You don’t have to, nor can you, entertain each of your three children precisely equally at all times.

There you have it, words of “wisdom” from your fellow moms. Cut yourself a break, and redefine in your own mind what constitutes meaningful interactions with your kids. Find ways to play with all three of them at once, encourage them to play with each other (I bet the 10-month-olds get a huge kick out of playing peekaboo with big sister!), and try to set aside time with each of them individually, even if you can only manage it with one child per week. It will pay off for the kids, it will pay off for you, and it will allow you to get to know each of your children as well as you know your first. Good luck!

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Under construction

Dear readers, forgive the How Do You Do It? moms as we mess around with our blog template. We’re trying to make it as reader-friendly as possible, including making clearer the author of each post. So, if things look a little wonky over the next day or so, rest assured that we’re trying to make it pretty again. Thank you for your patience!

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