Archive for September, 2008

Last week, I wore a nice sleeveless sweater from Ann Taylor, open toed heels from the same store, brown dress pants fresh from the dry cleaner, and matching, dangly earrings. My hair and makeup even looked decent considering I did both in the dark, without power due to Hurricane Ike (mind you, ELEVEN DAYS AFTER landfall). I actually felt put-together.

Until mid-morning. When I went to the ladies room and caught the reflection of a visible bra strap. I was horrified. Not because my bra was showing. But because the bra strap was tinted BLUE (what did I wash it with last?) and FRAYED. Frays that probably started their unraveling some years ago.

I am embarrassed to say that I could not remember the last time (not including the token pregnancy bras) that I had actually purchased a bra. Oh, sure, it was when I was in graduate school, but OOPS, that was TEN YEARS AGO.

I have a mortgage. I have a will. A life insurance policy. Twins. And even with my nomadic career tendencies, I’ve worked for the same company for, damn, six years. So it seems that the next Adult Thing I needed to do was to buy some decent, comfortable, well-fitting bras. And for this, I needed consultation.

With a tad of reluctance, the kind of reluctance with which you eat that second brownie anyway, I posted a question to my neighborhood kids’ group and my local area mother’s of multiples group: “Anyone know of a good place for a bra fitting that has good selections, as well? And I’m talking about someone who really knows what they are doing, because I apparently have no idea what to do with my post-pregnancy tatas.”

I went on to ask about places where one could go to learn to apply makeup. I know they have those folks at the counters at the mall, if you can make it to them, having to dodge past those ladies encroaching your personal space with their bottles of perfume. (I always put my cell phone up to my ear and pretend to be having a conversation. Or I tell them I’m highly allergic and will go into anaphylactic shock.) As a point of reference, I have been buying my makeup at CVS or Kroger. For years. I even have some sparkly stuff (was that the early 2000’s?) from, I am not even kidding, MARY KATE AND FRIGGIN’ ASHLEY line!

And let me just tell you, I must have struck a cord because responses came bubbling up like a shaken bottle of soda. And so, in the interest of mini-makeovers, I offer up a sampling of the commentary I received. I won’t post the local (Houston) makeup artists or lingerie stores mentioned since this site has readers from all ovah da’ place, but if you’re interested, put your email in the comments section and I can send them to you.

  • “The ladies at Nordstrom are very good at bra fitting.”
  • “Nordstrom’s for the bras, hands down.”
  • “I was amazed at how well they nailed my size and how what they brought to try on was just what I wanted. The have a wide range of styles and prices, so you can be as wild or conservative as you want.”
  • “For makeup, I went to Neiman’s and asked the counter that was mostly likely to help me get a natural look. I was introduced to 2 lines: Trish Mcevoy and Laura Mercier. The sales people were knowledgeable and will help you get an application routine down. You buy what you want and there is no charge for the instruction. I actually did my own makeup for my bridal portrait and wedding. If they can teach me, they can teach anyone.”
  • “OMG, I could have written this message myself. Help us, please.”
  • “As for makeup, I am pretty natural and I like Origins products and their people are always really nice and helpful.”
  • “Sephora is a fun place to shop, but they do seem to market hard to the young and trendy, and I’m neither anymore. From a geek standpoint, several years ago I purchased the ‘Don’t Go To The Cosmetics Counter Without Me’ book. You probably won’t agree with all of it, but it does a good job of overviewing the product lines, explaining various ingredients, formulations, and suggesting what’s worth spending more on and what isn’t.”
  • “As for post-pregnancy boobs, I’m just going to save up and get surgical help. I don’t care if I’m 93 and everything is dragging at my knees. The girls won’t be.”
  • “I went to Macy’s and asked for a fitting for something all cotton to keep cooler. The fitter was not only helpful, but what I got was on sale, too.”
  • “I have given up on make-up, hair, nail polish, and yes, shaving. I use my husband’s clippers on my legs ever some many months.”
  • “For makeup, MAC offers lessons that are prepaid. The good thing is that the day of the lesson, you use that money to buy products, so the lesson ends up being free.”
  • “I went to MAC and had a really good experience. They were very helpful and I got a whole new face out of the deal (this post inspired me!), and they spent time helping me figure out what was right for me. I got a natural look that is age appropriate and learned how to recreate the look on myself.”
  • “My personal favorites: Loreal voluminous mascara – for n ice thick lashes; eye lash curler, eye brow brush, Laura Mercier Eyebrow Shadow, Bare Minerals Kit – for foundation and blush for a matte finish, although you have to finger blend after you apply if you have big pores like mine; MAC HyperReal for more moist skin look which if you are older than 20, makes your skin look younger and doesn’t highlight wrinkles; MAC eyeshadow, Laura Mercier eyeliner; Vaseline is must for the lips; get a good eyebrow shaping; a good skin exfoliant with Salicylic Acid (I love MD SkinCare peels but you can find cheaper products at Target), or just use Oil of Olay Regenerist Daily Regenerating Serum – that stuff is the best.”

If you have additional suggestions / experiences / tips, by all means, SHARE!

Rachel’s personal blog can be found at RaJenCreation.


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When my boys were 16 months old, Nate started climbing out of his crib. We thought he would grow out of this phase but every time we put him in the crib, he tried to climb out. The cribs we bought did not have the option to use crib tents, so we made the decision to transition both boys to toddler beds.

If I could do it all over again, I would have bought different cribs that could accommodate crib tents. We have spent the last year trying to get naptime to work in our house on weekends. Until this weekend, our naptime routine was that we put the boys to bed, then I or my husband Jon watch the video monitor and intervene where necessary.

The boys generally play for 30 minutes to an hour, but sometimes they play for 90 minutes. They fight, they sing, they shout, and they generally go crazy in there – fun time with no supervision! It is anything but naptime as they egg each other on. Each naptime is filled with time outs, warnings, and frustration on our end.

We had numerous naptime ups and downs. We had days where we gave up and drove them around in the car until they slept.  I emailed every twin mom friend and every twin group to which I have access. I scoured the internet for solutions. And every person told me not to separate them at naptime if we wanted them to sleep together for bedtime.

This weekend, Jon and I decided to break all conventional wisdom. We were tired of spending our weekends as referees for an unknown amount of time. By the time the boys fell asleep, we barely had time to eat lunch before the boys were back up. We decided to split the boys into different rooms at naptime. AND IT WORKED.

We explained to them what we were going to do. We put them down in different rooms and they were both asleep within 10 minutes. Alex was a little sad and wanted me to sleep in Nate’s bed, but I rubbed his back and told him he would be ok by himself. They slept for two hours, their longest nap since the bed transition. At bedtime, they asked if they were going to be in different rooms and when we told them they were sleeping together, they happily talked for 10 minutes then went to sleep.

During this entire year, we thought we were doing the right thing by keeping them together. We kept thinking it was a phase they would outgrow. We were wrong. They simply nap better when they are apart. This experience taught me that there is no one “right” answer for parenting dilemmas and that even the collective wisdom of all the twin moms out there sometimes doesn’t have the right answer for your situation.

What about you? What advice have you gotten that doesn’t work for you?

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“There is no such thing as a moral book or an immoral book. Books are well written or badly written. That is all.”
— Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray, 1891

The last week of September is banned books week, marked by booksellers and libraries across the United States. As I’ve been looking into information on this week, I’ve found a dizzying number of lists of banned books. Harry Potter tops many recent lists, and so does my recent sob novel Bridge to Terebithia. Gone With the Wind, The Great Gatsby, Of Mice and Men – many of the greatest books of the 20th century have been challenged and banned from schools and libraries.

Those books don’t surprise you? How about The Lorax? Challenged for “criminalizing the foresting industry.” Or Where’s Waldo? Removed from a school library for “nudity” (a tiny picture of a woman lying on a beach wearing a bikini bottom but no top). A Light in the Attic, Little House on the Prairie, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe – all these wonderful books have faced attempts to ban them from libraries and curriculums. [source here]

As parents, we are gatekeepers to our children’s minds and morals. If you don’t want your child to read a book, don’t have it in the house. If it’s on a required curriculum, ask that your child read an alternate title. Just please don’t try to impose your morality on others.

This week is a great time to talk to your children about banned books. A list of local libraries and merchants with displays can be found here. I’ve talked about this with my children as we’ve looked at the banned books displayed at our library. Reading is a freedom. But along with that freedom comes a responsibility to choose wisely and listen to guidance from parents. I don’t want Drama Girl to read the Gossip Girl books right now, but I’m reading Twilight with her, and heaven knows she’s read an enormous number of the books on the lists. My son has read and enjoyed Phillip Pullman’s books, but he knows the difference between what that author espouses and what we teach at home and in our Church.

This week I think we’ll act like outlaws and read James and the Giant Peach together.

“The fact is that censorship always defeats its own purpose, for it creates, in the end, the kind of society that is incapable of exercising real discretion…”
— Henry Steel Commager

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My kids are trying to talk.  Well, in truth, they’re talking up a storm.  Just not in any language that I know.  They use lots of different consonants, vowels, intonations, and volumes.  They mimic sounds that I make, and seem to understand some of the things I say (especially if they involve food).  But when I look at the books that say they should have “a few words besides mama and dada”…  um…. Shoot.  I’m not even sure they have mama and dada.  Oh sure, they can say mama and dada.  But do they mean me and M when they say it?  Questionable.

Of all the things we moms worry about, language development might be the most common one I hear amongst my MOT friends.  There’s certainly literature out there about twins often being a bit delayed in that area.  Maybe we’re more sensitive to the issue because it’s already “out there,” or maybe it’s just that noticeable in our own kids.

Plus, I think that what I heard about “first words” made it seem as though suddenly, out of the blue, these clear words would just ring out from my kids’ mouths.  Needless to say, that has not been the case.  I’m pretty sure my daughter’s first word was “cracker,” but I’ll be damned if I can get her to say it again.  Now, I’m amazed at how many words in her world start with “d.”  Everything is a variation of da-da.  Dog: “gah-dah.”  Daddy: “dah-dah” (maybe).  Daniel: “dah-doh” (sort of).  Her version of “dog” is probably the most consistent thing she says.  But it so much less clear-cut than I imagined it would be.  I really thought I’d easily be able to say “aha!  That’s a word!  She’s saying ‘dog’!”  But no.  The lines are a lot fuzzier.  You catch things that sound an awful lot like a particular word, but it’s fleeting and you have no idea if that’s what she meant, or if it was just a coincidence of sound.

I don’t necessarily think my kids are significantly delayed.  I think they’re experimenting with lots of sounds and they’ll get there.  I’ll ask the pediatrician when we see her in November.  But, as in all things parenting, nothing is nearly as clear as we’d like it to be.

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The New York Times had an interesting article last week which identified six food “mistakes” that parents commonly make. If you didn’t get a chance to see it, check it out! I always enjoy gathering more information about the tricky topic of feeding and kids—-even if (or maybe especially if?) the information just confirms what I already know.

And, to see some ideas on cooking with kids, check out this older Foodie Friday post. Since writing that, we have started letting our 17 month old twins “help” cook—it’s too funny how excited they get to dump the flour in the bowl.

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My Nightly Ritual

My eyes are burning, stinging as I sit here typing. They are strained from pouring over a book; a good, soul-stretching one that is causing me to lose sleep. That is the way of a really good book. You fall into it, head first, and emerge with blood shot eyes and a deeper understanding of your own heart.

The book I am reading is about a little girl in need of a heart transplant. I do not yet know if she lives or dies. I find myself turning the pages eagerly, yet gingerly. I want to know what happens, yet my stomach is clenched, and I can’t help but to think of the two slumbering babes a dozen feet away.  Motherhood has changed me in innumerable ways, and one way is that I can no longer read or watch some of the things I did pre-kids. Law and Order SVU is out, as are really scary movies. I hide from the news of bad things happening to children, and shun violent television.  In my heart of hearts, I do not think these terrible and inhumane things are going to happen to my children. Yet, I know that even fictional characters have fictional mothers, and I can not separate my heart and mind. 

I guess I am softer than I used to be. I never want to be a “worrier,” but I find I am more easily alarmed than I used to be. It is as if all of my instincts are more sensitive.  I have studied and learned my children’s cries, their whimpers, their expressions, breathing patterns and normal temperatures. I alone know them better than anyone else in the world.

And yet, even when I am sure beyond a shadow of a doubt that they are okay when I lay them down to sleep, I can not stop myself from returning to their room, every single night. I creep in, often using the illumination from my cell phone as a guide. First I check on Jonathan, place my hand on his back to feel the rise and fall of his chest, or if he is restless, I crouch down and just listen for his little boy breathing.

When I am satisfied that all is well with my firstborn, I walk over to my little girl’s crib.  Faith likes to sleep bear-hugging her blankets. As she softly snores, I tug one of the blankets free, drape it over her cold feet, and whisper a prayer before leaving the room.  My children are close to 500 days old, and except for a few nights when we were away from each other, I don’t think I have missed a night.

I have tried to skip this evening ritual. I told myself that they were fine, that I didn’t need to bother them with the slivers of light from opening the door.  Invariable, I made it as far as my husband’s office, and had to turn around. There is something magnetic about a sleeping child. I simply can not help myself.

Ah, well, my eyes are even more tired now, and I am headed to bed. But not before creeping in to my little ones room, and making sure that all is well.

Good Night!

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Potty Training, x2

Last week, Maddie (age 2.25) got up from her nap and announced that she was going to “make wee-wee on the big girl potty.” Which she did. And with the exception of naps and nightttime, she’s been wearing underwear and using the potty ever since. One accident. That’s it. Part of me is waiting for the other shoe to drop. It can’t be that easy, can it?

No, it can’t. The joy of having twins is that Maddie is only the first (and clearly the easiest) part of the potty training battle. Riley awaits. Throughout their whole short lives, Maddie and Riley have been extremely close on developmental milestones. They sat up, crawled, and walked within days of each other. Their verbal ability is nearly identical. If Riley climbs something new at the park, Maddie is right behind him. Even physically, they’ve always been within a pound of each other in weight and 1/4 in. of each other in height. What one does, the other does, too.

Potty training seems to be the end of their like-minded behavior. I have never seen Riley less interested in something in his whole life. The Baby Bjorn potty has taken up permanent residence in our playroom; Riley has yet to sit on it. There is a stepstool next to the toilet so that Maddie can climb up and sit on the potty ring if she chooses; Riley hasn’t tried that, either. My mom was visiting over the weekend and she brought underwear for both of them; “I wear PANTIES like MAMA!” crowed Maddie.* Riley took one look and walked the other way.

To be honest, I don’t care. One potty trained is better than none, and I don’t want to push Riley if he’s not ready. At least not yet. He’s barely two! So I don’t mean to sound like I’m complaining. It’s more that I’m fascinated by this first instance of Riley’s total lack of interest in Maddie doing something that he is not. It’s like he hasn’t even noticed! Normally she can’t even walk into the other room without him scampering off after her.

So I’m curious: for other readers with multiples, have your twins hit developmental milestones at the same time? Do you feel like they push each other to learn and try new things, or do they seem to follow separate paths?

*Maddie has become fascinated by undergarments of all kinds recently. I was getting dressed the other morning and she said as I put on my bra, “This mama’s boobie thingie. I want a boobie thingie!” I told her that there was no rush on that.

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