Archive for July, 2008

There was an interesting article in the Boston Globe this morning about the decision around separating or keeping your twins together in school. I’d already been thinking about this issue, due to the interesting post about it this week—and then, there was an article about the same issue on the front page of the Globe this morning. 



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As always, if you have a food related topic you’d like to see discussed here, or a great resource you’d like to share with other moms, post it in the comment section. We love to hear from you!

Here at Foodie Friday, we got the following question from a MOT reader:

“I would love to see recommendations on getting fruits and veggies into toddlers. My two-year-olds loved vegetables of all kinds until they learned to turntheir noses up at them at daycare. Peer pressure starts young! I make a variety of vegetable pancakes, vegetable breads, and veggie nuggets that are successful with one of my girls, but hit and miss with the other.”

Ah, peer pressure at age 2. Life can be tough sometimes, even in daycare! Although, I know that lots of kids get to be picky eaters around 18-24 months. There are several schools of thought on this issue. One school of thought, which you can see reflected in some recent publications, focuses on hiding fruits and veggies in other kinds of food.

Danny LOVES him some chocolate banana smoothie

Danny LOVES him some chocolate banana smoothie

Check out this book or this one for examples of ways to do this. Of course, it doesn’t hurt the popularity of these books that one of these authors is married to a celebrity.

I tend to be more of a fan of veggies that are recognizable (yes, spinach brownies, I’m talking to you!). That’s just my opinion, and I acknowledge that at 15 months my kids have not yet hit the super picky stage. A couple of ways we get veggies in to their diet is mixed in with pasta, with lots of melted cheese on top. Peas, broccoli or spinach are good for this. I often see that the veggies are not eaten as thoroughly as the cheese or pasta, but they do eat some of them.We eat a lot of frozen small mixed veggies that are a mix of lima beans, green beans, carrots & peas. They are easy to prep and the kids seem to be amused by the choices. Oddly, the favorites are lima beans.

We have been experimenting with smoothies lately. Banana, frozen strawberries, vanilla yogurt is great. Or, for a more watery smoothie, use milk. Inspired by my new favorite drink at Starbucks (yes, I may as well direct deposit my paycheck there), we made banana/chocolate smoothies with whole milk, a little sugar, ice and cocoa powder. Those were a HIT! (See photographic evidence.)

Fresh fruit always seems to go over well—fresh raspberries picked off the bush out front were hugely popular, until the raspberry season ended. Fresh strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, melon….what’s not to like? We also do a lot bags of frozen blueberries, defrosting

Notice Danny in the background, still REALLY enjoying that smoothie.

Notice Danny in the background, still REALLY enjoying that smoothie.

the frozen blueberries one at a time. Chunks of veggies in tomato sauce offer tomatos and other veggies. Chili is also popular, and will give them both tomatoes and red pepper.  Maybe fried rice? Make it with some egg and add some veggies?

What do others do? If you have had great success getting fruits and veggies into your two year old, let us know your secrets!

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With one-half of our vacation over, I’m certainly a lot wiser now than I was a week ago. My preparations were handy, but it was clear very early on that what was planned wasn’t all going to work out. 

First of all, leaving the first day was challenging. Even though we had packed mostly everything, we still had a lot of stuff to load into the car. Next time everything really needs to be in the car two days ahead of time so that the last-minute stuff is done the night before.

The tip of going to a place to wear them out first thing is very good and one that we will try and do next time. Timing for this trip is tough because of it being two long, long days and we really just wanted to get to our destination. Plus, they only sleep an hour in the car, tops.

We have to stop every two hours when sleep has not happened and can stretch it to three hours when a lucky hour-long nap has occured.

Here’s what we’ve learned:

Rest stops are not for rest: No, you need to run them, jump them, spin them, toss them in the air, explore with them, and everything else you can think of before getting them back in that car. We ate lunch at our stops, too, in order to avoid big messes and more turning around in the car.

Bring sweets: I have been using lollipops as sanity-savers for awhile now, but this trip they have been worth their weight in gold. When it’s only been an hour and a half and they are starting to get restless, time for a lollipop. Other goodies include fruit roll-ups, or a box of raisins that, yes, will get dumped. But each sweet treat provided another few minutes of peace.

Toys are not toys in the car: The very things I thought would be magic in the car were not at all. Things that were a hit: Pom Poms. These were perhaps the best thing I brought. Also, those toy microphones that Target sells and that Gymboree uses in music classes. Also, wooden beads for banging together, musical instruments like maracas, and natural elements such as sticks, rocks and leaves. Things that didn’t work for this trip, for this age: most art supplies and drawing toys except one white board and dry erase marker. Perhaps on the ride home?

Not all kids are created equal: Like this needs to be said. But, as it turns out, one of my girls could ride all day and not play with anything. She turned her nose at just about everything except the pom poms and tossed EVERYTHING else to the floor within a second. The other one was happy to play with just about anything and kept it all in her lap, too.

Never underestimate organizational materials: We weren’t organized enough and that will be different going home. Toys easily got lost in the back, especially the smaller ones. By the end of the trip, it was pure chaos back there. Toy storage units that could fit on the floor would have been ideal. I never considered it because I thought a couple toys would entertain for at least a few minutes and then get returned to their little bag or box. Instead, those toys were quickly tossed to the side, the floor, or even in the back.

DVD player with two screens is nirvana: No joke; the creators of this should be proud of every cent they make because it means a half hour of quiet. I used these way more than I thought we would, especially on Day 2 when all bets were off, every snack had been used, and every toy presented and turned away.

All in all, the girls have traveled very well, but those 600 miles were very long miles. Some states seemed to drag on forever (Virginia) and others were a breeze.

Amazingly, though, the trip has been easier than I ever expected. I think we’re all just happy to be away and letting go of all rules.

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When I am stressed, I like to chew. Something about the repetitive motion of chomping up and down is calming to me. As a result, I have arthritis in my jaws from consuming many many packs of gum, and slightly bumpy teeth from crunching ice, a habit which has been nearly impossible to break, much to my family’s chagrin.

Last night, I was desperate to chew away some of my stress. I was overwhelmed from back to back bad days with my 14 month olds. My two toddlers turned on me this week, hitting, pushing, falling, crying, head-butting, smacking, pulling hair and screaming. In a restaurant, in the car, in IKEA, with all eyes being magnetically drawn to my twosome. I wasn’t handling the situation well…I could feel myself getting increasingly annoyed, agitated and plain angry with my tiresome duo. I briefly considered trying to sell them at IKEA, but the way they were acting, no one would have bought them!

When my husband got home from work, he found me in a near coma on the couch. I was DONE with those kids….absolutely positively DONE. I had very little left to offer anyone, and when my son hit me hard in the face with a wooden spoon, and my anger boiled over, I knew I was near the edge.

My kind husband put the kids to bed and helped me clean up the house. I contemplated what options I had for making myself feel a little better, and my mind toyed with the idea of consuming large quantities of dark chocolate. Mmmm, chocolate. I stopped eating chocolate 8 months ago when the kids were 6 months old, in an effort to help my weight loss goals. Nary a morsel has crossed my lips, and no, my weight isn’t down thank-you-very-much. But oh, the temptation! I was so incredibly desperate to stop feeling so miserable that I came darn close to stuffing myself with chocolate. But I kept thinking “I have never woken up and though ‘That was such a good idea to eat all that food before bed.'” Instead, I turned to my stash of frozen grapes for my noshing needs.

Today was a much better day. I was able to get a decent nights sleep, and prayed for my day before exiting my covers this morning.  I planned lots of physical activity for my energetic twosome, and mentally prepared myself for the day. I purposefully planned on being around other people most of the day, which is a great coping mechanism for me.

Parenting is stressful. Parenting two strong-willed toddlers is extra-stressful. My husband and I have developed a system to give each other a “night off” at least once every other week. Every other Friday, my husband plays poker after work. And every other Thursday, I leave the house as soon as he is home from work. Sometimes I take a good book to dinner, sometimes I window shop or go to a book store and drink coffee. Other days I meet up with a friend for nourishing conversation. And this past weekend, I slipped out of the house early, before my family was up, for some much needed “me” time. On Saturday, I went to the track, walking, jogging and sweating. On Sunday I went to a local farm and came home with fresh fruit, vegetables and just-baked bread. It was delightful!

Yet some how, I still managed to become a stressball by Tuesday evening! So I am curious, how do you handle the stress of parenting? What has been the most challenging aspect of parenting to date? How do you and your spouse/family give each other a break?

Who US?! Challenging?! What is she talking about?

Who US?! Challenging?! What is she talking about?

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Lately, we have had to approach childproofing like a military special-ops team. We spend a lot of time trying to outsmart the “enemy”. But this is not an enemy we are familiar with.

No, our old foe was one single little girl who was shockingly responsive to the word “no” right from day one. Even during my twin pregnancy when I was on bed rest, I could be alone in the house with her and keep her out of harm’s way. How? I just said “no” and she would simply move on to something else.

Now we are up against something totally new: twin boys. Small, quick, determined, and with their own secret language. When left alone in the house with them, you are out-numbered. And they know that. They see the word “no” as a challenge. An invitation to do the forbidden activity faster and from two different directions.

Our first taste came with the flat-screen TV. Even when it is not on – which most of the time if they are in the room – they were drawn to it like moths to a flame. And it went something like this:
Aaron: [beelines to TV. Stands up]
Me: Aaron, no.
Aaron: [turns to me, SMILES, and turns back to the TV]
Me: Aaron, no, no, no.
Aaron: [hysterical laughter, palm raised to smack the TV]
Me: [sprinting. Scoop up child] No, Aaron. No TV
Meanwhile, Brady: [full speed ahead to TV and is now beating on it like a drum

The kitchen is another battleground. My favorite is the race to the dog bowls. We only put the dog bowls down when the boys are confined (i.e. at dinner time when they are in their highchairs or during naps). Occasionally we forget to scoop the bowls back up once the boys are set free again. The boys seem to have a sixth sense about the presence of the bowls. They will go around the dining room table – in opposite directions – to get to them. Ditto that for the open dishwasher. The snack drawer. The OVEN door.

Is it intuition or is there some twin-talk happening that we don’t understand? How do they just know how to conspire with each other to drive their parents to madness? Surely we couldn’t have taught them this lesson. But yet, they’ve managed to figure it out in their short 12 months on this Earth.

I can’t wait until their new little brother arrives. It will be a battle to see who can recruit him first – will the twins get him to be part of their little troublemaking gang? Or can big sister convince him to play on the “sit quietly and read nicely” team. I’m guessing, he’ll be off doing the twins dirty-work just as soon as he is mobile.

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Babies snoozing in the pack 'n play

Babies snoozing in the pack 'n play

This week’s Ask the Moms is in response to a mom who wrote in with napping questions aboout her 4.5 month old twin boys. Ah, napping. Both wonderful and an endless challenge.

In general, I think four months is a huge transition period, from “Wow, two newborns are crazy hard.” to “Ok, two babies is hard but I’m starting to get the hang of it—-or they’re getting easier”. However, this is a tricky age for napping, because babies are transitioning in their napping abilities from napping anywhere, anytime to being more predictable in their sleep. However, this predictability sometimes needs a little parental guidance to develop. However, it’s worth the work. If I’ve learned anything in the past 15 months that I’ve been a MOT, it’s that regular, predictable naps lead to us all being happier. Knowing when babies nap means we can make plans with other people and having babies that always (ok, mostly) get plenty of sleep means they are happier and more cheerful when they are awake. Plus, I have a predictable time each day when I can rest, relax—and, of course, work.

The sleep philosophy
Know your sleep philosophy. Who wrote your “sleep bible“? Your favorite sleep philosophy will guide you through napping and sleep issues. Myself, I’m a big fan of Weissbluth, so early on I did the 8:30am nap and 1pm nap, plus a brief third afternoon nap, in the idea that more sleep during the day leads to good nighttime sleep and that babies need consistency and schedules for napping. Know your sleep philosophy. Ferber recommends less sleep than Weissbluth does, and different napping times. Others, I’m sure, have entirely different recommendations.

The age

Abigail can sleep anywhere at 6 weeks--here she is in her carseat

Abigail can sleep anywhere at 6 weeks--here she is in her carseat

Regardless of what sleep philosophy guides you, this 4-5 month age marks a napping transition. Babies go from sleeping easily everywhere, whether in the carseat or stroller or in your arms, to developing more of a sleep routine. Earlier, any routine is solely shaped around how long they’ve been up—1.5 to 2.0 hours, then it’s time for more sleep!. You can often see this change in napping patterns begin in the consistency of the morning nap, which usually develops first. We started napping our babies “by the clock” (so at regular nap times) around 4.5 months, but it was no where near as consistent and regular as it became in later months. The morning nap was the most consistent, with a potential second morning nap if the first was super short, followed by a longer afternoon nap at 12:30ish. I picked a morning nap time when they were usually ready to go down and then put them down at that same times every morning. The timing of later naps follows the timing of this first nap. Obviously, if your babies were on the earlier side, add a few weeks before you try scheduling naps and if you went to 39 weeks with them, they may be readier a few weeks sooner. Weissbluth does mention that colicky babies may be more difficult to transition to a regular napping schedule.

The bedtime
Being a Weissbluthian, I’m into the early bedtime. By 7pm in my house, the kiddos are upstairs, tucked into their cribs. At four months, bedtime was more like 6:15pm. We started this early, around 2-3 weeks, when we would put the babies upstairs in the nursery after the 6-7ish feeding. For parentswho didn’t do an early bedtime as soon as we did, four months is a good time to move bedtimes up from 8, 9 or 10pm. Sadly, this often translates to babies not “sleeping through the night” since, if they’re starting sleep by 7pm, they will be up around 3-4am if they normally sleep 8 hours. Some people make this change gradually, in 15 minute increments, while others do it all at once. Moving bedtime up earlier will help decrease the number of naps during the day.

Routine, routine, routine
Four months is a good time to get a bedtime routine, if you don’t already have one. We used bath, then nursing as our bedtime routine at this age. Other people use quiet music, dim the lights, add a story in or rock the baby. A routine will help baby realize it’s time for bed. Most parents do a naptime routine too, although I have to admit that we do not.

The evening crazies
Ah, the evening crazies. Most parents dread this time, when even the most well-behaved, relaxed babies get antsy, crabby and frustrated. And at just the same time when parents are tired from the day and trying to get dinner ready. Some HDYDI moms got our kids out of the house during that period, some clusterfed, some did really early bedtimes and others gave up on doing anything but holding babies. Later on, doing solids at 5:30pm can keep fussy babies busy during this time.

A little experimentation is a good thing
You can set a nap schedule or let your babies set one for you. I looked at my trusty sleep book, and set a reasonable time for the first morning nap. We worked on establishing that nap for a while, then moved on to the afternoon nap. Other moms keep track of the times their babies are normally napping, and realize they have already made a schedule. Play with feeding schedules, sleep schedules, sleep locations (do they sleep an hour longer in a swing?) and the morning routine. Try a few things and see what works for your babies. For us, feeding them right before nap lead to longer napping. It might not have been a full two hours since their last feeding, but it was worth it to me to get longer naps in.

Carseats are always a favorite place to snooze

Carseats are always a favorite place to snooze

Twins are different
With one baby, there is more leeway for a less structured nap schedule. However, with two babies, if they don’t sleep on a schedule, you run the risk of always having one baby up. The shortest road to crazy, at least in my house, is never having a break. The one never-broken rule in my house, from about 2 months on, was “If one baby goes down, the other does too!”. Woe on the husband or babysitter who breaks this rule. This may mean you push one baby to stay awake a bit longer, or put a baby down who probably would be good to be up for another 30 minutes. Sadly, this also sometimes means waking a baby up. If one baby gets up at 5am, the other baby needs to be up by at least 6am, or they will be on different schedules all day. If one baby sleeps longer than 2 hours in the morning, I wake him or her so that they will both go down again at 1pm.

Naps are both a fantastic thing and a place where your day, as a mother of more than one baby, can go dreadfully, dreadfully wrong. You can predict the time in your day when you will get a break from the babies, grab breakfast or a shower—and learn to rely on this, so that when one of them decides not to sleep, it is a frustrating experience.  Even now, at 15 months, I was thrown for a loop yesterday when Abigail refused to nap. This doesn’t happen in my house! Bad napping days are perfect days to call a friend and vent, make a playdate or just get out of the house. Extra crabby babies + mom who didn’t get her downtime = not a fun day. Definitely the time to get out and about!

TIP:  One HDYDI mom recommends using blackout drapes from Pier One to make the bedroom dark for an early bedtime.

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A few months ago I decided to jump into the world of cloth diapering.

(Okay, okay. I will admit that it wasn’t so much of a jump as it was just sticking my big toe in the water to test the temperature and see if it was agreeable to swimming.)

I have been contemplating using cloth diapers since before the triplets were born, but every time I would research them, I would become so doverwhelmed by the abundance of information available that I would freeze up and inevitably chicken out, never ordering a thing. However, after the most recent price hike in diapers and the endless bags of diapers I kept hauling to the curb week after week, I finally got tired of literally throwing money away.  So I took the plunge and placed my first order.  I tend to be an all or nothing type of person, so what I really wanted to do was to buy an entire stash (and all of the accessories) for each baby.  What I did instead, based on the advice of a friend, was visit Simple Wonders and order just a sampling of diapers for each baby instead.  (Part of the draw to that web store in particular was that they offer a multiple discount!)

I had no idea which direction I wanted to go with cloth diapering, but I knew that I wanted the transition to be easy.  Scratch that.  I needed it to be easy, otherwise I knew it would never stick.  There are a wide variety of options available, ranging from diapers that work just like a disposable with everything included in one easy package to a partially disposable diaper to the old-school cloth diapers that you have to fold and fasten with pins (although now it is more common to use a Snappi than a pin).  Prefolds, fitteds, covers, pockets, all-in-ones, one-size, etc…I know, the lingo freaked me out at first too.  But I promise it isn’t nearly as hard to learn about as it seems.  There are a daunting number of sites dedicated to explaining the basics of cloth diapering and how to care for them, two of which I found helpful were Diaper Pin and Pinstripes and Polka Dots.  And if you want a review of products, you can go visit Z-Recs (yes, the BPA people) and read their article on cloth diapers.

I ended up purchasing starter package for each baby that included 3 different brands of one-size diapers: 1 bumGenius 3.0, 1 Wahmie & 1 Happy Heiny.  They are all pocket diapers that you stuff with an insert (to adsorb the wetness) and have adjustable snaps so that they can grow with your child.  The goal being to buy one stash of  diapers that can be used from birth until potty training.  I can honestly say that I like all 3 quite a bit.  Though the bumGenius 3.0 and Happy Heinys are a bit bulkier than the Whamie, which uses a hemp insert; the Whamie’s closure is a bit trickier to get use to than the loop and hook (velcro) the other two use.  All 3 are super-absorbent and we have yet to experience a leak with any of them.  They fit snugly and are so, so soft…and I have to admit that the babies’ fluffy butts are really adorable.

Ultimately what has worked for us so far is to do a combination of cloth and disposable diapers, easing slowly into the transition.  I am not sure if we will ever be able to make the full jump into using only cloth diapers, but for now I am happy to be using cloth for at least 1/2 of our diaper changes each day.  I try to use them whenever we are going to be home, but we still use disposables at night and when we are out.  Trying to figure out what to do with 3 wet and/or dirty diapers while out is a bit overwhelming just yet.  My system for clean-up is fairly simple; as soon as I change a diaper I just drop the solid poop into the toilet (I am hoping to purchase a sprayer, that hooks onto your toilet, very soon that will make that part a bit easier!), pull out the insert and toss it all into the wash machine until the end of the day when I run one load of diapers.

I am quite fond of them so far and they really are so easy and simple to use that I wish I would have started from the beginning (can you imagine how much money I would have saved in the early days when we went through 30 or so diapers a day?!?!).  My husband isn’t quite as convinced…yet.  But, I am hoping to be able to persuade him that they really are just as easy as disposables, and so much cheaper!

If you would like to try cloth diapering, but have no idea where to begin, I highly recommned trying the Changing Diapers, Changing Minds program over at Jillian’s Drawers.  Essentially, you are able to try a very wide varitey of diapers for the cost of $10.

And this post has (by pure chance) coincided quite nicely with Baby Cheapskate’s Cloth Diapering Week.  You can check it out here!

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