Archive for January, 2009

Always tending toward lifechange x 2, my husband and I recently made an involuntary exodus from gainful employment to the land of lost jobs.

In truth, we feel highly optimistic about our prospects (“First one to get a job with benefits wins!”), and appreciate the fact we are being forced to actually walk our aspirational talk.

For years, Scott and I have bemoaned the societal trend of maximum expectation for minimum (if any) effort. [e.g. “I’ve got my degree, I should have a higher-paying gig.” “I exercised for 10 minutes, why are my thighs still big?” “I was on the last place team, and look at my trophy!”]

With frugality now at the fore, I realize how some of my previous parenting practices unknowingly nurtured that instinct for immediate gratification with our twins.

After reading an iVillage piece by renowned parenting expert and educational psychologist Dr. Michele Borba, with tips on talking about the presently challenging economic times with children, here were my thoughts:

Our twins are seven; and while we certainly wish to retain their innocence as long as wisely feasible, we feel they — much like we — have much to learn about fiscal responsibility and the value of indulgences we’ve previously (and embarrassingly) taken for granted.

A three+ year freelance gig for me evaporated in December with the proliferation of corporate bankruptcies; and last Friday, my husband’s nearly 15 years of employment at Circuit City drew to a close.

Never for one minute did we contemplate “not telling” our children the truth.

We won’t be going out to eat so much. We won’t be buying books impromptu with every visit to Barnes & Noble. We will think twice about “unnecessary” expenditures — budget streamlining we could have – and probably should have – done before. As a result, we think we’ll be teaching our children the import of hard work, prioritization skills and the all-too-often overlooked”treat” aspect of so many purchases/outings previously perceived as the norm.

We are not fearful, and have voiced that truth frequently to our children. There ARE jobs to be had, and while they may not pay what we were accustomed to, they will help us make ends meet until the “right” gig(s) comes along.

Perhaps I sound in denial, or worse, delusional, but there are facets of our current situation for which I am extraordinarily grateful. Windows for re-defining entertainment and family time have availed themselves already, and I am confident we’ll have a clearer, healthier perspective for the temporary challenge.

Is your family confronting economic shift? Have tips, ideas or thoughts to share? Please leave a comment!
cross-posted from our family blog, Twinfatuation


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Had I known then what I know now, I would have taken wrestling in junior high physical education class. Or maybe some karate. Because holy crap, changing the diaper of my 9 month old 22 pound boy is a workout. He twists, kicks, flexes his legs against the area that used to be known as my abs, screams, plants his feet into the changing pad and arches backward with a twist, and cries. He is so excited about his ability to get from a lying down to sitting position that he DOES NOT want to be horizontal.

Giving him a diaper doesn’t really work. A toy will last through one or two wipes. And what with the waterworks equipment flailing around (or poop in his drawers), I really don’t want him alligatoring around without a diaper on.

So I started trying to figure out ways to distract him. And I got on Etsy and searched for mobiles and found some really cute ones. With really ugly prices. As any I-Can-Do-That-For-Way-Cheaper person is wont to do, I set out making my own.

I purchased a few photo mobiles from a local store, one for each of the “official” changing stations. I intend to hang origami creatures with ribbon and beads. You know, after I learn how to do origami. Which is sometime after I pay off my school loans. Which is sometime after the kids are in college.

In the meantime, I’m going with simplicity by attaching some finger puppets we got from Ikea before the kids were born and before I realized they’re made for the fingers of infants. I also hung some of those take along chimes – the ones I was about to toss, and those single toys that somehow got disconnected from the activity gyms they outgrew.

So far, it’s working. At least long enough to get his parts covered. The cool thing is that I can change things up with different toys, pictures, and one day, that origami.

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The opinions stated in this post are solely from LauraC and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of other HDYDI authors.

I was very excited to read the book “Emotionally Healthy Twins: A New Philosophy for Parenting Two Unique Children” by Joan Friedman. One of my major twin parenting concerns is how to help my boys feel as if they are not seen as a unit.  In the first chapter, Friedman lays out her philosophy, developed as a psychotherapist specializing in twins. Her philosophy is simple: treat your children as individuals and ensure they each get significant one-on-one time with their parents.

At this point, I could have put the book down. She goes through each phase of a child’s life and gives concrete examples of her two major points. Over and over and over. But the reason I felt I should have put the book down is her dire tone on the disastrous results to your children if you don’t give them enough space from each other. From her viewpoint, they should have separate rooms, separate pre-schools, separate activities, large amounts of one-on-one time with each parent, and their own friends. If you do not do all of this, you are the reason your children may have a tough time adapting to school or social situations.

Let’s get real. In an ideal world, of course we would be able to accomplish all of this. But in the real world, parents have a lot going on. How does a stay-at-home mom fit individual activities into their day, every day? How does a working parent get enough individual time with everyone? The reality is that families are going to spend a lot of time together, twins or no twins. And there are many other considerations when making the decision to have children share a room, share a birthday party, and go to the same pre-school.

In general, I agree with her principles. Jon and I try very hard to treat our fraternal twin boys as individuals, and we reinforce with our family and their teachers that we want them treated that way as well. In that light, I thought the book was good. And reading the book did provoke some thoughts for me on how I can give my boys more individualized attention. But as a whole, I worry that Friedman sets the bar too high for multiple parents. Like many sleep books I’ve read, I felt I was being told how I was screwing up when in reality, I was doing the best I could.

Has anyone else read it and have thoughts to share? (If you would like to read it, I’d be glad to send you my copy.)

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I do a lot of classes with my twin toddlers.  As a stay-at-home mom, I find the very last thing I want to do is actually stay at home.  Especially in the winter, when we can’t spend an hour out in the yard (though sometimes I try), we need quality indoor activities.

I’ve found there are particular things that make a class work, in particular when you have more than one child.  Obviously, a kind, organized, enthusiastic group leader or teacher is key, as is a child-safe space.  But even more than that, I find we do the best in classes that really allow toddlers to be toddlers.  And by that, I mean that sometimes one of my kids will be into circle time, and sometimes one of them will want to wander off and do their own thing.  At nearly 18 months old, this is not a question of poor behavior or budding ADHD.  It’s just toddlers.  And when you have two of them, your ability to keep both in your lap at a particular time is limited.  So I appreciate the classes where the space is safe and confined, and the teacher doesn’t mind if some children decide to do something different, as long as it isn’t disruptive or unsafe.  That’s why I’m in love with Music Together and the Little Gym.  There are fun, structured activities, but no one minds if one day they want to dance, and one day they want to sit quietly.

Which brings me to this morning.  My local moms of twins club organized a playgroup at a nearby Gymboree.  The club was going to cover part of the cost, so it was an hour of indoor activity for $5.  Sounds great!  Sign us up.  There were close to 20 kids, mostly sets of twins (some singleton siblings, too).  So you had roughly one adult for every two kids. And all of the moms (and nannies) in the room were used to that.  You can’t always have a hand on both kids at all times, but we help each other out and keep an eye on our kids.

Start off with the fact that the teacher/leader was late, the door was locked, and we stood out in the cold.  My Rebecca, who had already had a rough morning, was getting pretty upset.  We finally got in, and I’m trying to calm her down while preventing Daniel from running on the mats before I can get his shoes off.  It’s a little nutty, and Rebecca’s having a bit of a meltdown, but I’m trying to get everything under control.  What does the teacher say to me?  “You know, if she’s going to keep crying, you can feel free to leave.”  Um. What?  I thought she was kidding. But no, she continued, “I don’t want them to be crying in my class.”

OK. Step off.  I’ve been inside for approximately 60 seconds.  My kid was cold. My kid is a toddler, for crying out loud. And you’re going to suggest that I might want to leave.  Hoo boy, you can bet I almost did.  But I had friends there, so I decided to stay. (Steam coming out of my ears.)

It didn’t get much better from there.  The teacher was unclear and not well-organized. She got really annoyed when the kids didn’t want to (or didn’t understand how to) do exactly the activity she had in her mind. She made no effort to teach us any of the songs, but seemed put out that we didn’t sing along.  She put out the parachute, but didn’t want the kids to shake it, or really, in any way interact with it until she was ready.  And when my daughter was climbing on one of the play structures and it tipped over (she was fine, just startled), I got lectured about how “that’s why we always tell the parents to stay within ‘hugs reach’.”  I was a few feet from my daughter when it happened, not off in another room eating bon-bons. And she was using the structure in its intended manner, not climbing somewhere she shouldn’t have been. I nearly decked the teacher, but instead scooped up my kids and left.

I know it’s not easy having a room full of toddlers.  I understand she must have been overwhelmed to not have the usual 1:1 adult-to-child ratio. I don’t expect playgroup teachers to be super-human.  But I do expect them to have some fundamental understanding of the nature of the age they’re teaching, which includes flexibility, clarity, and good humor.

And I’m sure there are Gymboree teachers out there who have that gift.  But, I can assure you, my kids and I (and our money) will not be returning.  It was bad from any objective standpoint.  But especially when you have two kids to watch and take care of, I really need a class that is accepting of the nature of toddlers, not one that fights it.


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Feedings toddlers—mine are 21 months—seems to be an evolving challenge. Obviously, there are all the challenges that come with toddlers’ newfound picky eating habits, as I wrote about here a few weeks ago. And that is a whole ‘nother challenge.

But sometimes, we just get stuck in a food rut. It’s that post afternoon nap time and the kids could use a snack. But what to serve them? I try to stay away from most of the processed snack foods when possible, no matter how much I enjoy goldfish crackers or teddy grahams myself. (And if you haven’t tried these pleasures as an adult yet, you should. They are delicious). However, as delicious as they are, my kids often go several meals without eating much as all. If they’re going to eat, I’d like them to eat something of substance, with some nutritional value. However, lately, we have run out of ideas. Here’s a list of our go-to options:

Toddler “trail mix”–cheerios mixed with some sort of dried fruits (craisins/raisins/dried papaya/prunes/apricots)
Cheddar cheese rice cakes
Banana bread/pumpkin bread
Mini-bagel with cream cheese
Yogurt (the mess factor here can be an issue)
Whole wheat pretzels dipped in hummus
Canned black olives

Any other go to (reasonably) healthy snacks people offer their toddlers? I’m fresh out of ideas! Help me out here….

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Welcome to a new feature on HDYDI! We are spotlighting one of our loyal followers as a way to introduce you to some of the great parents who are working tirelessly to raise their twins and triplets.

Mamieis a mother of 21 month old twin boys. She has been married for 5 years, yet together with her hubby for 14. She and her three “boys” live in the very sunny but way too hot southern California. She is a full time mama, part time physical therapist/crafter/home keeper/plant killer, but she is working on the last one! When asked what profession she would like to attempt, she answered that she would like to be an owner of a brick & mortar shop that would feature local craft artisans and support community interaction/education through creating. Her blog, “Mamie Knits,” can be found here. 

How and why did you get into blogging?
My blog was started due to my love of knitting, (hence the name of the blog) but I rarely wrote on it. I actually really started writing after I was put on bed rest in January of 2007. It became an outlet and a connection to other people during the time I was stuck in the house.

Have your reasons for blogging changed? 
My reasons have stayed fairly the same. I try to connect and share about parts of my life, which includes the twins, my craft/photography and sometimes my thoughts on parenting, living and loving.

How long have you been blogging?
I started my blog in May ’06 and I have been fairly consistent since January ’07.

How did you learn about HDYDI? 
HDYDI was the brainchild of my favorite twin Mama bloggers, so I was there at its ‘birth.’  I actually did not connect with other twin Mamas via blogging until the boys were about 4 months old…before that all my reading was other Knitter Mamas but they all had singletons.  I cannot tell you the relief I felt when I found other Mamas like me….with TWO (or more).  It is my go-to when I need to feel supported and understood as a Mama of Multiples.

Do you remember your first words when you discovered you had more than one ‘in there’?
Um, so here’s a funny story. My first ultrasound was at 13 weeks gestation. This was my first visit with our OB as my pregnancy seemed very normal up until then and I was seeing my primary care physician for the first trimester. So, on the table, the ultrasound started and Dr T. said “You owe me a bottle of Tylenol.”

My heart started racing, I turned to see the screen and freaked out as I saw two heads facing each other. I did not say it but my first terrified thought was that I was having a two headed child (and I am not talking about thinking they were conjoined, people, just two headed). He must have seen my panic because he quickly pointed out the two heart beats. Later my husband told me he thought the MD was showing him the baby’s heartbeat and then mine. Dr T. looked at us patiently and said “Twins.” Duh.
If you could go back to the newborn days, would you do anything differently?
I would do so many things differently, but then I forgive myself and realize that it was hard, it was my first time and I was learning. One thing I would definitely do is seek help for my PPD (Post Partum Depression) earlier. I was 7 months out when I finally admitted I needed help. I sought treatment via acupuncture and TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) but if that had not helped, I would have gone with prescribed medication.

And I would have purchased our digital SLR camera before they were born, not when they were ten months old. Still kicking self.
Did you have a favorite product that you can’t rave about enough?
I loved using Playtex drop ins. No BPE concerns, easy to prepare in advance and line up in the fridge, and though they are a little ‘wasteful’, I found they saved my sanity.

What is one thing you are great at as a mother of twins?
I think one thing I do is embrace the moment as it is…the good times with two and the harder times.
What is one thing you think you are horrible at?
Sounds funny, but putting on enough deodorant to prevent public sweating when I take them out for excursions, be it hiking or shopping or play dates. I am always sweating, people!

What is the first thing you do after saying goodnight to the kids and closing the bedroom door?
What do I not do?! I usually pick up a bit with my husband and we talk about our day, then I grab my knitting (if it is not a yoga night) and set up shop with computer, knitting or sewing and sometimes a favorite pod cast or program running. And I ignore the pile of laundry at the foot of the bed. Still am in fact.

If you had an entire day to yourself (money and obligations aside, and no access to kids or the internet), what would you ideally spend that day doing?
I would fly up to Mammoth Mountain, either mountain bike or snowboard for the day (preferably with my husband, but I am easy), soak in their hot tub with a beer and fly back when the sun had gone down. Ahhhhh.

And what do you think you would actually end up doing?
Um, cleaning the house, trying to organize my stash of craft items, making lists, running errands and making dinner. Not very different than a typical day except sans toddler terrors undoing everything I do.

Mamie, it was a pleasure getting to know you!
Thanks for having me Mama’s!

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I’ve been thinking about breastfeeding this week. First, LauraC reposted her thoughts about her decision to stop breastfeeding. And then, a mom posted a question in the comments about how to get regular naps when her babies fall asleep when nursing and take an hour to eat. This got me thinking some more about the whole breastfeeding experience—what helped, what didn’t, what worked and what was awful. I’ve written about this before, here and here,  as have others here and here, but I think it’s such an important topic for new moms it’s worth revisiting. I exclusively breastfed my twins for the first year, and I can look back and see the choices we made which made it work, and potential roadblocks that would have derailed breastfeeding for good. I’m glad we did it, but it certainly was challenging at times.

One comment I hear from new moms of twins a lot (and probably from new moms of singletons too, if all the babies in my life didn’t come in pairs) is that their babies take forever to eat. As in an hour. Or more. And I’m not talking about babies who are a week or two old. I’m talking about babies who are two, three or four months old and still latching on and chowing down for a significant amount of time. With a newborn, you already feel like you spend all of your time nursing—how in the world are you ever going to do anything else? And I’m not talking big projects, like dissertations (shudder–mine is still not complete) or other ambitious projects—I’m talking shower and empty the dishwasher and maybe eat lunch.  By 2 months or so, my kids were eating for maybe 15 minutes a meal. By 4-5 months, it was down to 5 minutes.

So, when people ask me how to get their babies to eat faster, I tend to just pass on the advice I got from the fantastic lactation consultant who ran the breastfeeding group I attended. Obviously, this isn’t a problem for everyone. If you’re content with your kids eating for 45 minutes to an hour, then read no more. It’s not an issue! However, if it’s driving you crazy or making you contemplate stopping breastfeeding, then read on. And, readers, if you have good suggestions that worked for you, please put them in the comments section!

1. The breast is not a place to hang out and get comfy. As soon as you stop hearing swallowing or the baby starts falling asleep, you can pull them off. Babies will tell you (loudly) if they are still hungry.

2. Be comfortable having baby go back for round two. If you cut baby off after 15 minutes and now she won’t go to sleep, it may be that she’s still hungry. Feed again. No problem.

3. You may find your babies need to eat every 2 hours for a long time. Mine certainly did, at least during the day. However, this is much less of an issue if the feedings are pretty quick.

4. Offer a pacifier after feeding if they are still fussy, but not eating much. It may be that they are looking for the comfort of sucking, not the food. However, the benefit of the paci is that Daddy or Grandma can do that, it doesn’t have to be you. Thus, time for you to eat lunch!

These are just my thoughts on this and what worked for me. Obviously, all babies are different and I am certainly not an expert in breastfeeding. However, I found this lactation consultant so instrumental in giving me the tools and information to be able to keep breastfeeding my kids. I’d recommend a lactation consultant to anyone. Other ideas? Please chime in.

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