Archive for July, 2008

I wrote this post long, long ago and have since found new ways to “round up” my twins. They had just started walking and were, what I thought, hard to manage. And, they were, but now poses much more dangerous and scary situations. Please post your own hacks for handling multiple toddlers in the comments. The more the merrier, please!

There are many challenges facing parents who are raising multiples, whether it be two or six. I must admit, many of those challenges have made me cry. But, now that we’re at a pretty fun, interesting age in our house, I look forward to finding new ways to step over and stomp on those challenges.

One of the biggest challenge we face right now is movement. Well, now that I think about it, movement has always been an obstacle. In the early days, I was too overwhelmed and too sleep deprived to be creative. The idea of lugging both infant carriers around was too much. Then they outgrew those and were still too limp to be carried at the same time, which is how we get places now. You should see my biceps.

My twins have been walking now for four months and are great walkers and are even running a bit now, too. Life is a breeze in comparison to the bottles and non-walking days.

But, this doesn’t mean we haven’t had our challenges. But, since they sleep through the night, and I’m pretty refreshed each morning, I have come up with some parent hacks to share with other POMs, should the need arise.

Hack No. 1

Climbing stairs with toddler multiples

This is not a simple feat. Spotting one child, alone, can be daunting. Spotting two who like to stop, turn around, try and grab wallpaper or the railing is enough to make the heart stop, twice. And, usually, in the middle of our Great Daily Climb, one or the other quits for whatever reason. So then I’m left carrying a baby, while spotting another. Save for a few slips, we haven’t encountered a baby avalanche, yet. That could be because early in the game, I discovered that if I threw something to the top of the stairs that they really wanted, they would climb steadfastly to get it. Of course, once at the top, grabbing said item can be tricky, and that’s when I toss it far away from the stairs so they have to get to safety without hesitation.

Hack No. 2

Getting to the car

I’m sure there are plenty of POMs who have garages attached to their home, which would make for a fairly easy trip to their family vehicle. This would not be us. We have a short walk through the yard and into our parking lot. Along the way is rose bushes, gardens filled with mulch, strands of grass, ants, and other great toddler distractions. Just when we think we are reaching the gate, both bolt in two different directions. At least they did, until I realized I had a little more power than I thought, even if they are only 17 months old. So, when we really need to get to the car, we hold hands and march. March, two, three, four. March, two, three, four. They love the motion of us all walking together and they have some control in being able to pick up their little meaty legs and pound them down on the walkway. In just seconds, they forget all about those pesky blades of grass they would have stopped to grab.

Hack No. 3

Getting in and out of vehicle in busy parking lots

This, I have to admit, is a new hack for me. Now that they are increasingly better walkers, they still aren’t old enough to understand to stay put. This is where our very cute teddy bear backpacks/leashes come in handy. While I remove one baby or return her to her car seat, I can keep my foot on the other’s leash. She could try to run away, but this method would stop her before she even takes a step. Granted, two or more babies in busy parking areas is not ideal in any situation, but sometimes putting both into the stroller is just not convenient, like for a quick doctor’s appointment. Besides, they have to learn to walk on their own eventually.

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IMG_2280, originally uploaded by sllydr.


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Many moons ago, I wrote this little piece while in a sleep deprived delirium. I needed to write it, needed an outlet for all of the emotions swirling around inside. Recently, a good friend had a baby, and I sent her a copy of this. I just wanted her to know that despite all of the glowing reports, fun times and cheery blog posts, I was waging an internal battle as I learned to be a mom. I wrote this almost a year ago…18 teeth ago, many illnesses ago, cross-country travel ago, and yet when I read this I remember that time fondly.

This is for all the new MoMs out there!

Musings of a New Mother

by Kristina E.

Numb from the neck down, disoriented and exhausted, the maternity nurses asked if I wanted to hold my babies, while I was on a moving gurney! “No! I can’t hold them yet!” I exclaimed, amazed that they would ask someone who just had major surgery and who was barely aware of her lower half to be responsible for a combined 14 and a half pounds of brand new life! And thus, my journey of motherhood began.

I had an exceptionally good pregnancy, without complications, and carried my babies to my scheduled c-section date of 39 weeks. Jonathan James and Faith Marie were born weighing 7.12 and 6.12, full term and in perfect health.

Being a mother has been a profound experience, as I am sure it has been for every new mother that has gone before me. From the first day I knew life was growing inside of me, my battle against myself began. Pregnancy forced me to become less selfish, and I didn’t like it one little bit! I was comfortable the way I was, but suddenly, everything going into my mouth directly affected the health of my babies. Headaches and body aches became something to endure, as my body no longer belonged to me. Speeding while driving was no longer an option with the realization that I was putting three lives in jeopardy. And then one day it hit me…”This is it…from here on out I will always be someone’s mom.” There was no going back to the way things were when it was just me.

And on May 15th, 2007, the heavy mantle of responsibility came crashing down upon my shoulders. Shoulders, which, I might add, were still numb from the needle that had been in my spine! As soon as the nurses asked me if I was ready to try breastfeeding, I had another moment where I realized it was up to me to keep these creatures alive! “For crying out loud!” I thought to myself. “I just carried these babies for nine months, had major surgery and major blood loss and now they want ME to take care of them? Can’t somebody else take a turn? Someone without an IV in each hand, a catheter, a fresh incision and whose arms aren’t lead weights? Glad to see you little ones, but SERIOUSLY!”

This wonderful thing called “motherhood” was just beginning. My hospital stay contained very little sleep, a lot of pain, and false cheerfulness. Yes, I was ever so thankful to have delivered healthy little ones, but did the resident doctor really need to check on me at 5am? Did I have to be asked to sign my twins up for so many studies? Did the entire hospital have to see my breasts as I attempted to feed my screaming offspring? Was it normal to not feel gushy toward my new little bundles? Was it okay that my son’s cry annoyed me? And that I was secretly dismayed at the shape of my daughter’s head?

We journeyed home, having no idea what to expect. Granted, every onesie was washed and placed in the appropriate drawer. I had three dozen burp clothes ready to go. The nursery was in pristine condition and the car seats were installed. We knew the sleep deprivation would be bad, but there is simply no way to prepare for how hideous it really was. It peeked around three weeks, when I found myself sobbing in the bathtub, praying that my c-section incision would suddenly become infected so that I could go back to the hospital, so that someone would take care of me. I was also struck with a strong case of the “baby blues,” in which I though, “surely I am going crazy. How could I possibly feel resentment toward these miracles?” My husband and I received help for our infertility issues. How could I possibly want a break from being their mother? Other women would kill for the chance to do what I was doing!

Gradually, things began to look up. The tennis-ball sized knot in my shoulder started decreasing in size. I had my first cup of hot tea in a month. I stopped crying. Dark chocolate and vicodin were no longer necessary tools to get through the day, as my incision healed and my stress decreased. The kiddo’s started sleeping better. My milk supply was established, and I quit beating myself up for giving them more expressed milk than nursing.

I have now been a mother for exactly 87 days. It has been a serious crash course in Motherhood 101, but I am loving it! Sure, there are the daily melt downs, the nine loads of laundry a week, the 5am pumping session, the spit-up crusted in my formally clean hair. But I’ve managed to keep these two tiny people alive for three months, and that’s a beautiful thing. And once they started purposefully smiling at me, recognizing me as their mother, they took up ownership of my heart.

For the moment, I am very fortunate to have a bedtime routine that works so well. I am up only once a night with them. I find myself rocking my little ones, long after they are done eating, breathing in their scent, savoring these moments, nuzzling their little necks. Sometimes our quiet time in the middle of the night is my favorite part of the day. Now that I am getting good sleep, I recognize how fleeting time really is. I celebrate each achievement and developmental milestone, but part of me aches just a little, knowing that they will never be as small as they are today, this desiring of my closeness.

Sometimes I think I would like my husband to get up and do a feeding or two, but then again, I don’t. I don’t want to share my night cuddles, as they too will be gone sooner than I like. I spend our time together marveling at their features, praying for their future and rejoicing in the goodness of Our God, who would bless us with these creatures.

Of course, I am not always rejoicing when they both go kamikaze in the store at the same time and both pacifiers have gone AWOL, and everyone is staring!

I am a realist. I know that my job as their mom will change, ebb and flow. Motherhood is fluid. I don’t always have good days. I feel guilty when I give more attention to one than the other. I feel badly that I sometimes long for the simplicity of life before children. It bothers me that when they cry incessantly in the close confines of our van, my brain feels like it is melting, and I contemplate parking the car and getting out and walking. And we haven’t even yet hit teething, our first illness, separation anxiety or tantrums. And that only covers the first year! Yet I am trying desperately to capture and record this time, because I know it won’t happen again.

Honestly, the first few weeks are a blur of exhaustion and pain medication. But now I routinely blog about the kids, which helps. I keep a little video diary, capturing Faith’s feminine little coo’s and Jonathan’s gasp of joy and delight when his mobile is turned on. We take many, many pictures. I write in their baby books. But somehow, it just doesn’t feel like enough. There simply is no way to freeze time, to convey exactly how much my heart has expanded to hold the love I feel for my babies. I hardly think I have enough capacity in my chest.

Today I was wishing that I could take a mold of them so that I could always remember how they felt all warm and snuggly in their footed pajamas, nestled into the curve of my neck. Then I thought about how it is my responsibility to shape these little beings, to mold them into little people, to train them in compassion, integrity and putting others before yourself. And I think this responsibility is molding me in the process.

I drive slower now. I am more tolerant of bratty kids acting up in public. I exchange sympathetic looks with pregnant women. My world has expanded exponentially. I am overwhelmed.

Yes, I loved the babies when they were inside, closer to my heart. I studied their movements, pondered, speculated, and assigned personality traits. And when I first met them I was glad to see them. But motherhood took hold of me slowly, completely. This journey can not be halted or stopped, and it will be through joy and sadness that I guide my little ones through life. And it will be my life’s greatest work, to mother these two well and to be their Mama.

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Maddie and Riley were only nine months old when their dad died.


Up until two days before his death, John was actively involved in caring for the twins. He conserved every ounce of the waning energy he had to spend with them. He’d sleep all day so that he could change Madeleine into her pajamas, give her a bottle, and read both kiddos a story. He’d rouse himself in the morning to sit in the kitchen while Maddie and Riley ate breakfast, and he’d kiss them as we headed out the door to daycare. Being a dad was something that John always wanted, and I don’t think anything about dying so young was harder for him than knowing he would not be around to see the twins grow up.


We have pictures of John up all around the house. There are wedding pictures, photos of John and me together, photos of all four of us, photos of John with the babies, snapshots of John with his parents and siblings. Not a day goes by that we don’t talk about Daddy. I’ll mention that I’m wearing his favorite color, or that we’re eating one of his favorite foods, or that he loved to read stories. I often tell the kids that I miss John, that I wish he were around, and that there are certain things about parenting that he would have done much better than I do. Every night before Maddie and Riley go to bed, I remind them that no one loves them more than Mama and Daddy.


In the weeks after John died, Riley had frequent nightmares, and his sleep has frankly never been great since John’s death. While he can point Daddy out in pictures, he rarely spontaneously brings up John, as opposed to Maddie, who will speak about him completely out of the blue. She’s been known to say, “Maddie miss Daddy,” and “Maddie love Daddy.” Sometimes when I yell at them or am cross or impatient, the kids will say, “Mama miss Daddy. Mama sad.” Yes, it’s true.


I don’t know how much of what they say is coached and learned from me, and I don’t know how much they understand when they say, “I miss Daddy.” They understand that a daddy is a parent, but they have yet to understand that some kids have two parents, some two mamas, some two daddies, some one of each. They certainly haven’t asked where John is, or why he’s not at home.


For now, I choose to believe that they harbor active memories of John, that they can recall spending time with him as babies, that they can still feel him holding them and have a physical sensation of his love. I know that I can still recall what it felt like to hug him and to hold his hand. I want to believe that they can still remember that, too. In fact, I want so much to believe it that I have hesitated to do any research into infant memory less some scientific study prove my romantic belief wrong.


I know that Maddie and Riley won’t have the real memories forever. I can already feel my real memories slipping away. It gets harder and harder to reacall the sound of John’s voice, the feel of his hand. The line is getting blurry between what I actually remember and what I only think I remember as I look at a photograph. And I don’t know anyone who holds real memories from when they were four months, six months, nine months old. So all I can do is keep making memories for the twins. Better created memories than none at all, or so I hope.

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Continuing our discussion of separating twins or keeping them together in grade school, there was an article in the New York Times a few days ago about twins applying to or going to the same college. I can’t say that I have even considered this issue–and, with kids who are just 15 months, why would I have?—but it’s an interesting read. Looking back, I knew two sets of twins in college, both identical. In one set, both twins attended college with me, roomed together, had the same major and moved on to the same medical school. In the other set, one went to college with us and the other went to Dartmouth. They later lived together for a few years after college, but now are simply living in the same city. Interesting things to think about…..

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During my journey of motherhood, I’ve learned I’m a middle of the road mama. I don’t really classify myself into a single style of parenting. I take what I like from each style and leave the rest. I try not to judge what others decide to do because it’s their family. Besides crying it out and working out of the home, I would say the biggest judgement I’ve received is letting my kids watch tv.

I’ve watched enough “Honey We’re Killing the Kids” to know unlimited screen time is not good for anyone. I’m also a big proponent of getting outdoors. But one of the things I hope to teach my children is to enjoy everything in moderation. In my parenting and life philosophy, small amounts of ice cream = necessary. Large bowls of ice cream every day followed by potato chips and soda = taking it too far.

We’ve adapted the same attitude with tv. We let the boys watch one or two shows per day and we always watch together. If we’re not actively watching tv, the tv is off. We record only shows both the parents and children like so we can watch the shows together. We don’t watch commercials. We talk about the shows afterwards. We learn the songs and sing them together. We learned sign language as a family by watching Signing Times. Watching tv is a (semi-)passive activity we do together as a family that balances out the active activities we do such as walking to the park, playing in the backyard, and enjoying time outdoors.

As with anything else in parenting, I believe there is no right or wrong way to parent. I would like to teach my children that you can have a healthy relationship with tv, video games, computers, chocolate… anything. For me, the way I choose to teach that is to teach by example. I’d love to hear other’s thoughts on why they do or do not let their kids watch tv!

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From the North Woods

The kids and I are mid-way through an extended trip visiting various branches of my family in the Midwest.  We flew into Chicago on Wednesday morning, stayed with my dad for a few days.  Friday night, we drove six hours (with three adults, two kids, and a dog with a bladder infection!) to Northern Wisconsin, where I currently sit on my mom’s laptop, stealing the neighbor’s wireless connection.  We’re at my mom’s house on a lake, with my stepdad’s family.  We had 16 people for dinner on Saturday night, 21 on Sunday.  We drive back down to civilization tomorrow, and then go to Central Illinois on Friday for my dad’s family reunion, before flying back to Boston on Sunday night (my kids’ first birthday!).


We’re surviving, and even doing quite well. The key, I think, has been to stick to my kids’ normal schedule and routines as much as possible.  We spend a lot more time outside than we usually do at home, and there’s seemingly a million people who want to hold and play with them.  But naps and meals and bedtimes remain the same, and I think that has helped a lot.  Not 100% smooth sailing, but pretty darn good.

I’ll give a full recap next week when we get back, but I thought I’d check in from our crazy Midwestern adventure.  And, of course, I had to share a few pictures!


Enjoying breakfast at the lake.

Enjoying breakfast at the lake.


Rebecca suddenly enjoys assisted walking

Rebecca suddenly enjoys assisted walking


Daniel looks out the window with his grandma

Daniel looks out the window with his grandma

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As my girls are growing quickly, i’ve realized that it’s time to get them started on art projects(mainly coloring and scribbling). As i studied Elementary Education in College, i found that the earlier you introduce your children to coloring(scribbling) and different forms of art, the better. So with that being said, as soon as my girls were old enough to hold a crayon, i let them scribble away. There are many different items out there for young children, colors, markers, finger paints and more. Crayola has always been my brand of choice, as i know that they make non-toxic products and all but a few are washable.

For younger children i really like the plain ole’ crayola washable finger paints. Using finger paints is not only fun for the child, but helps them with fine and gross motor skills. The best way to use them is to get your child un-dressed out of anything except for a diaper and put them in a high chair and let them go crazy. You can give them a few colors at once…or just one at a time. Of course, you still have to supervise them and make sure they don’t just sit there and eat the paint. I love letting my girls finger paint and they really seem to love the feeling of the paint on and between their fngers. They also enjoy it because it’s nice and messy. BUT i think even more fun, is the bath they get AFTER they finger paint! Here is a link to the finger paints my girls like.


While talking about baths…i have to say we LOVE the crayola tub colors. The only issue i have with these colors is that…why would you put a WHITE crayon in the mix of colors when most bathtubs are WHITE??? I just take that color and throw it away since you can’t see it on the tub. BUT, the girls LOVE these crayons most of all..and they wipe right off your bathtub. Just be careful not to let them have more than one at a time because if they fall in the water they slowly melt away. My girls are really bad at wanting all the crayons to hold on to, in the tub. But after we went through one entire set of crayons in one bath setting i learned my lesson and only give them one color at a time. Here is a link to the crayons. I know you can get them at Target and walmart…i think i’ve even seen them at grocery stores and different pharmacy’s!


Another idea is just a set of big crayons. They are harder to break and the child has more to hold on to when coloring. These are great on working on fine motor skills. Here is a link to the crayons: http://www.crayolastore.com/product_detail.asp?T1=CRA+52%2D008T

Along with the giant crayons, we’ve found the following coloring pages quite nice for small children. They are big and the chances of drawing on anything other than their paper is small. http://www.crayolastore.com/product_detail.asp?T1=CRA+80%2D8302

One last great product made by crayola that we really enjoy, are the color wonder, coloring books and markers. They are nice and clean and mess free. I’m not sure at what age you can use them…but all 3 of my girls love coloring on these coloring books. Here is a link to the color wonder coloring books we use. They are great and so nice and clean.


One product i did not find i liked for smaller children, were the following markers for children 18 months and up:


The reason i don’t recommended these markers, is because they drip color/marker. I had originally planned to use these in the car while we were on our trip to Florida, not to long ago. THANK GOODNESS i didn’t pull those out for the kidos in the car. One day not to long ago i pulled them out to let the girls color with them and they were a mess! I mean color all over the place. To be quite honest, when i tried them myself, they dripped so much color I made a mess, myself!

When i bought the markers, i also bought the crayons that are marked 18 + months. These crayons are ok, but just not all that they are made out to be. I brought them out for my girls and they tried to color, but the round bottoms are so big, its hard for children with small hands to hold on to them. My suggestion is to stick with the old fashoined big crayons and not even bother with the markers or crayons that are made for the 12+ & 18+ children. They cost more and definitely aren’t worth the money.

While checking out the crayola website i found a great book on childrens artwork and celebrating the scribble. I have yet to read it…but i’m going to check and see if they sell it on amazon and check it out myself.


While talking about coloring and different coloring products, i also thought i’d share this cool website. We visit this website on rainy days and normally i let my 4 year old go through and choose a few pics to color. I also let her pick out a few pics for her sisters to color. These pictures are great because they aren’t just “coloring book” pages…they are educational. So, while your children are coloring, you can teach them about the number or letter they are coloring.


If you have any other great art items you can’t live without, please leave a comment so we can all try them.

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