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Archive for March, 2009

This is cross-posted from my personal blog, Laura’s Mommy Journal.

When illnesses went around the boys’ infant day care room, they both seemed to get it at the same time. This is how I became a confirmed “rip the band-aid off” parent. Inevitably they were both going to get sick, so I may as well clean up puke/stay up all night with feverish babies/administer medicine all at once. It also meant the house could be de-germified faster and there was no waiting around for the other kid to get sick.

As they grew into toddlers, they actually… gasp… got immune systems (either that or they caught every possible bug EVER in the first two years of their lives). One kid may get something and the other kid never gets it. 99% of the time, Alex is the one who catches the bug and stays at home sick. This is not surprising to me as he is very tactile, touching everything and then putting it into his mouth.

Nate’s pink eye is the first illness in awhile where he has stayed home alone. While Jon and I make a concentrated effort to get alone time with each boy, it is rarely a full day. After yesterday, Jon and I have an all new appreciation for Alex. Poor Alex, getting bossed around by Nate ALL THE TIME. I love love love Nate but that kid CAN TALK and he will not stop talking until he gets what he wants.

After just one day alone with Nate, I completely understand why Alex has become such a fast runner – he needs to get away from Nate’s talking. I also understand why he’s developed the habit of giving in to Nate’s demands – it might be the only way to shut Nate up. And I also understand why Alex gets so cranky when we give him a lot of commands – yet two more people bossing him around?!

As the boys have gotten older, I’ve started to take for granted how much interaction occurs between the two of them that does not involve us. Having Alex out of the house amplified how much verbal interaction Nate needs and how much of that interaction Alex provides for Nate. It was a good reminder what a special relationship siblings have. And it was a good reminder how twins rule in every way.

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Shopping, Twin-Mom Style

This weekend marked my MOT club’s semi-annual tag sale, and it was a doozy. The tag sale (consignment sale, yard sale, flea market, whatever your region calls it) is yet another reason to join your local MOT club, if you haven’t already.  Most clubs I know of have sales twice a year, and they’re awesome both for selling and for shopping.

It was my second time selling, and for those who have never participated in such an event, I thought I’d tell you all about ours.  First of all, you obviously have to plan ahead and get all of your items ready for sale.  Sort out the clothes by gender, size, and season.  Toss the ones with stains or missing snaps. Purge the toy room, get the high chairs out of the garage. Write out a price tag for each and every piece.  My club puts everyone’s items together (i.e. one large area for clothing, one area for toys, etc.), so your tags also need your name written clearly so you can get financial credit for the sale.

Tag sale setup

The sale takes place on a Saturday morning, so setup begins Friday night at a nearby high school cafeteria.  Racks are assembled for hanging items, tables are arranged everywhere, clotheslines are hung.  When the space is set up, you can start hauling in your items from your car (the parking lot is a sea of minivans).  And at the end of the evening, sellers get a chance to do a little early-bird shopping.  People nearly trampled each other getting to the Kettler tricycles.  I decided I had to have my friend’s Maclaren stroller.  So 15 minutes before seller shopping began, I grabbed my Peg Perego out of the back of my van, cleaned it off, and slapped a price tag on it (the same price for which I was going to buy my friend’s).  It’s easy to get caught up in the madness.  And that’s just Friday night. Don’t stay too late, chit-chatting with your friends and perusing the stacks of clothing.  The fun starts again at 6AM on Saturday.

Toys, games, and booksSaturday morning arrived.  Barely slept at all.  Still dark when we arrived at the high school.  Sellers who couldn’t come the night before arrived with even more stuff to distribute.  The mountain of clothing, especially the 0-12 month stuff, threatened to topple and we grabbed extra tables to further sub-divide the sizes.  The bookshelves collapsed overnight, so we had to reassemble and rearrange all of the books and videos.  Tables full of toys needed to be better categorized, the piles of board games and puzzles needed major straightening.

Sellers got another shot at early shopping once everything was set up and ready.  I was at the front of the line this time, and tried to pretend I had a shred of dignity remaining as I all but ran back to the large equipment area to snag a Radio Flyer double wagon.  Haha, victory is mine!

But we had to get our purchases quickly back to our cars.  All sellers are also working the sale, and people have been assigned to different areas.  Clothing, books, toys, cashier, accounting, large equipment.  This was my second time back in large equipment, which is a section with it’s own procedures, rules, and even storage so you can keep shopping without dragging around your new double stroller or swing.  Before the doors opened, it was packed to the gills with strollers, carseats, swings, high chairs, outdoor toys, and the like.

Large Equipment area

Finally, at 9:30, doors open to fellow twin club members, who get a half-hour jump start on the general public.  The line at 9:29 was well out the door.

Line to get in

Shopping is barely-controlled chaos.  No lie, nearly seven hundred people came. Unreal. The large equipment area was a madhouse.  There were four cashiers just in our part of the sale, probably another six or eight at the main exit.  The whole thing was mobbed, from toddler clothing all the way back to bouncy seats.  It was hot, it was loud, it was crowded. I won’t lie, every time I saw someone buying something of mine, I heard a little “cha-ching!” in my head. But I tried not to do too obvious of a happy dance.

Shopping chaos

It was a particularly busy and successful sale, maybe because it was a nice day out, maybe because of the crappy economy.  But there was still a line to get in at 10:30, and there was still a line to pay at noon.  It was non-stop.  It’s fun, but completely exhausting, to work the sale.  By the time it ends at 1PM, you’ve worked a fairly grueling 7-hour shift.  But hey, you get to hang out with your MOT friends, get rid of all of your stuff, and make a little cash in the meantime.

End of the sale

And yes, that last picture is what the large equipment area looks like at 12:15.  If you want a stroller or a cozy coupe, you’d better get your ass there bright and early.

As a shopper, there are bargains that can’t be beat.  Strollers for less than half their retail price. Nearly-new high chairs for $30.  Books for 50 cents, toddler jeans for three bucks.  You can probably score a whole season’s worth of clothing for under $40.  As a seller, you not only get to unload a truckload of gear and old clothing, but even after the 10% of proceeds that go to the club, you can make a nice bit of money.

When the doors closed at 1PM, I scoured the remnants of the tables for anything of mine that didn’t sell.  All I could find was one toy and a couple of assorted items of clothing (maybe 10 shirts out of the huge tub I had brought in).  I took one cute outfit of Rebecca’s home, and put the rest in the big bags to be donated.  Because I had worked Friday setup, I thankfully didn’t have to stay for the entirety of cleanup.  I got home, took some ibuprofen, and all but collapsed into bed.

It was a good day.

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Car Time

Like most families, we spend a LOT of time in the car. On a daily basis, we average 1-1.5 of driving time. A trip to the park (20 minutes both ways), grocery store (10 minutes), church (20 minutes) or the great-grandparents (25 minutes) means we have to drive everywhere we go. Nothing is within walking distance in our Pittsburgh neighborhood.

Like most moms, the HDYDI mom’s are always looking for new ways to keep the peace in the car. Personally, I am a bit of a pushover in the car. I simply can not drive well or concentrate when there is a lot of screaming going on directly behind my head. That said, I was eager to poll the other moms and pass along our suggestions to the army of mini-van-driving MoMs!

"Keep the snacks coming, and all our eardrums will be okay!"

"Keep the snacks coming, and all our eardrums will be okay!"

LauraC has a little storage bin that fits between her car seats that houses various toys for her boys to play with. What she does not recommend in cars: Stickers, markers, two recorders that you
stupidly bought for an extended car trip and the boys now think should ALWAYS be played in the car!

For music, they really enjoy the Backyardigans CDs. Also, XM Radio plays an assortment of all kinds of kids’ songs. For long trips, all bets are off-whatever keeps them entertained.

"I may look happy now, but just wait 'til I drop my cup!!!"

"I may look happy now, but just wait 'til I drop my cup!!!"

Goddess in Progresshas the Curious George/Jack Johnson CD in her van, along with the Bare Naked Ladies kid cd and the Music Together CD. Also, she uses the auxiliary jack that plugs into her iPod as she has a kiddo playlist on there, too. And while she does have a DVD player in her van, she says “I have yet to use it. I refuse to, unless we find ourselves on a trip longer than an hour or two. Because I know, in the minds of young toddlers, if I do it once…. they’ll want Elmo or whatever on every trip to the grocery store. And I just want to avoid that battle for as long as possible. I also find that sometimes the only way to keep them awake in the car before nap time is to take “requests” for songs (usually Wheels on the Bus), or try to engage them in looking for cars/trucks/buses/dogs/colors, etc.

The magna doodle is a big hit with my kids right now, but I don’t use it in the car much, because mostly they just like me to draw animals for them. And clearly, I don’t want to struggle with drawing an ugly dog while driving. :-)”

Synchronized Sleeping.

Synchronized Sleeping.

My own CD player houses our Bare Naked Ladies “Snacktime” CD, which I think I like better than the kids. Maybe once they learn to count they will understand the humor of “7 8 9.” We also really like Junior’s Bedtime Songs by Veggie Tales. Unlike most Veggie Tales music, which can be rather jarring, this one is very soothing. Our other current favorites are the audio books by Eric Drachman. I think I have listened to “A Frog Thing,” and “Leo the Lightning Bug” 800 times. Yet they are so successful at entertaining our kids, that my husband ordered the other three book (they come with an audio cd read by the author) this week! We are anxiously awaiting their arrival.

On long car rides, we hand out comfort objects like they are candy!

On long car rides, we hand out comfort objects like they are candy!

If anyone has any car-entertainment suggestions or stories, please leave them in the comments section. And for heaven’s sake, if anyone know of a snack cup that would keep millions of bits of cereal from being spilled all over my van, please let me know!

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I’ve been writing my blog for almost 3 1/2 years and reading blogs for longer than that. During that time, I’ve done my fair share of contemplating what to write, what not to share, and what my boundaries are. Long-time readers will note I rarely talk about my job. I also rarely complain about Jon.  I also rarely blog about sleep because I’m too afraid to jinx it when it’s good and too tired to write about it when it’s bad. And while I do talk honestly about the struggles of parenting, I try to do so in a positive manner without complaining about my kids.

One Very Firm Boundary I set for myself was that I was not going to talk about the details of potty training. And I was not going to post a single picture of potty training. My plan was to post vague updates about it until the boys were fully potty trained then mention it casually. Yep… LauraC eating some mighty big blogging words the last two weeks:

 natestanding

What I didn’t understand about potty training is how ALL CONSUMING it is when it starts, particularly when you have two (or more) little ones in the house. First there are the nearly constant trips to the potty. Then there are hits and misses. Hits require minimal clean up and misses require massive clean up from head to toe (and wall and floor and laundry). Trips outside the house have to be carefully planned and executed. There are many loads of laundry. There is so much advice to sort through, weed out, discard, and use. Decisions need to be made. Do we use big potties or little potties? Do we use pullups or underwear only or training underwear? Do we use stickers or M&Ms? Do we train one or both?

The thing is, I am not stressed out about potty training in general. We are taking a very relaxed approach to potty training yet it still consumes 90% of my mental energy when it comes to the kids. This Saturday I am running a half marathon, my longest race since the boys were born. This Sunday I turn 35, which feels like a pretty significant milestone. Yet my brain is still 90% focused on whether or not we will convince Nate to sit on the potty tonight instead of standing. Apparently when you are a mom, potty training > (turning 35  + running 13 miles).

So tell me… where have you eaten your words? On parenting, on blogging, on having multiples?

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You are your own expert

At our last MOT club support meeting, one mom mentioned how she was having major sleep problems with her kids.  So much so that she managed to get an appointment with the one and only Dr. Ferber, who practices here in Boston.  I was intrigued, as I have been a vocal defender of the good doctor ever since we “Ferberized” at 6.5 months.  I know a lot of people object to his CIO method, but I thought it was wonderfully effective.  Then, I heard the advice he gave my friend and thought it was so far off the mark that I actually had a viceral, physical reaction.  I almost felt betrayed.

The specifics of the advice aren’t important, and I’m no pediatrician or sleep expert.  But it was illuminating nonetheless.  It really reminded me how we all have to pick and choose our experts, and what advice we choose to ignore and what we choose to accept.  There’s a million “experts” out there. Could be someone with a published book in paperback and a lot of acronyms after their name.  Could be your mom or a neighbor or even a blogger you read.  I think we all wish it was as easy as picking up a single book or asking a single person for advice, and having all of the answers nice and neat in one place.  But no matter how complete a theory someone claims to have, it never works 100% for every kid.

For instance, while I’m a huge believer in Ferber’s ideas about sleep associations and his CIO methods, I also think his suggestions for bedtimes and naptimes are ridiculous.  Maybe I’m more of a Weissbluth person… I follow his nap schedule almost to a T, and am strongly in favor of early bedtimes.  But I think he ignores sleep associations, and sometimes I think newborns just need to sleep in bouncy seats or swings and it’s not the end of the world.

And that leads me to the second thing I was reminded of: how strongly we sometimes hold to some of our core parenting beliefs. While I don’t think strict rigidity is the ideal, I do think it’s important to have a few things in which you believe strongly, that you prioritize over other things.  For some it might be a commitment to frugality or “going green” or positive discipline.  For me, I think the thing I hold to more strongly than almost anything else is a regular nap schedule and early bedtime.  Any suggestion of infants or toddlers going to bed later than 8PM is likely to give me heart palpitations.  (Mine are in bed by 7, religiously.)

Do I think an early bed time is the “right” thing?  Of course, or I wouldn’t do it.  But it’s not the only idea out there, and there’s people who aren’t going to place the same priority on that as I do.

Anyways, my point is this: you are the expert on your kids.  By all means, read up on the different theories.  See what the “experts” have to say.  See what your mother has to say.  See what your fellow MOT’s have to say.  But know that you’ll probably pick and choose.  You might love half of what someone has to say, but blatantly object to the other half.  Parenting and the millions of theories out there are just a big smorgasbord.  Think it all through, but only take what works for you.

So, readers, who are your favorite experts, and why?  And what bits of their advice have you completely thrown by the wayside?

Mom and two kids

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LauraC is the mother of Alex and Nate, 2.83 year old twins. She has been married for four years, together for nine to her best friend Jon. They live in Raleigh, NC. Laura tele-commutes from home as a software professional. When asked what profession other than her own she would like to attempt, she answered, “My degree is in environmental engineering and I was not happy in that profession. My software career is Plan B and I love it. It suits my personality, my skills, and my interests.” Her blog can be found at: http://JonAndLaura.blogspot.com

36 weeks pregnant with Nate and Alex.

36 weeks pregnant with Nate and Alex.

How did you get into blogging/why did you start a blog/etc…?

My college friend Libby had a pregnancy website I really enjoyed reading. I anxiously awaited each entry and watched in amazement as her belly grew. I started my blog the day I found out I was pregnant as a way to keep my friends and family updated.

Have your reasons for blogging changed?

Absolutely. When I first started writing, I thought I would post once a week and then occasionally upload pictures of the baby once it was born. As I wrote, I realized I had something to say every day about pregnancy. And after a couple of months, I really enjoyed having all those entries to read back on.

When we found out we were having twins, it became a very special place for me. This will be my only pregnancy and I wanted to capture as many moments of it as I could. My blog also became a peaceful place for me during a scary twin pregnancy. Over time, I’ve found blogs I love to read, met some really fascinating people, and forged strong friendships.

Fundamentally, my blog is always for me. But by doing this for myself, I have received so much back in return.

How long have you been blogging?

Can you keep a secret? I’m about to hit 1000 posts! I started blogging in October 2005 and I write Monday through Friday almost every week.

How did you learn about HDYDI? Do you have a favorite post?

I found Goddess’ blog through a Babycenter Multiples board and she asked me to be a part of HDYDI in the beginning. My favorite post I’ve written for HDYDI is my “failure” to breastfeed. (https://howdoyoudoit.wordpress.com/2008/04/08/when-breastfeeding-multiples-fails/)
I needed time to mourn before I was ready to write that post, and HDYDI was the right place to share it. I felt so supported and understood.

My favorite posts written by another HDYDI writer are Goddess’ Ask the Moms series. She does such a great job giving advice in a positive way. She’s the twin mom friend you need to know when you have a question.

Jon, Laura and boys

Jon, Laura and boys

Do you remember your first words when you discovered you had more than one ‘in there’?

This story requires some background information. In 2005, I lost my hearing in my right ear and in July 2005 I had surgery to repair it. I had extreme dizziness and nausea after the structural changes to my inner ear. A month before my surgery, I ran a 10 mile race. After my surgery, it took a week to build up to walking one city block.

As soon as my ENT cleared me for travel, we moved to Raleigh and started trying for kids, not expecting it to happen because I had been previously been diagnosed as infertile. To our surprise, I got pregnant the first weekend. Two weeks later, I was puking every day from horrible morning sickness. I was going to a birthing center so they recommended various natural remedies, none of which worked. It took me about two hours in the morning to move from my bed to the couch before I could think about even one sip of water. Then I would puke and pee my pants at the same time. And then cry and do laundry. In hindsight, I wish I had asked for Zofran because I was so miserable.

Jon and I always wanted two kids, and I would have terrible crying jags where I would tell Jon I didn’t think I was strong enough to do this a second time. Between the ear surgery and morning sickness, it had been six months of nausea.

Because I was going the ultra-hippy route, I didn’t have my first ultrasound until 18 weeks. As soon as they put the wand to my belly, you could clearly see two sacs, two butts, and two penises. The first thought in my head was, “I am one tough cookie to make it through TWIN morning sickness!!!” and I said out loud, “I never have to do this again!” Not my proudest moment.

Jon was literally in such shock that he just sat there with his mouth open, staring at the screen. The entire situation was so shocking that we couldn’t do anything but laugh. We went out to lunch and talked for two hours before we felt together enough to call our family and friends. And then we broke the news this way: “We found out we’re having a boy ……. (huge pause while the person cheers or congratulates)….. and ANOTHER boy! TWIN BOYS!” After our shock, it was so fun to shock all the people we loved.

laurawithhalloweenboys

If you could go back to the newborn days, would you do anything differently?

If you asked me this question when my boys turned a year old, I would have had a laundry list of items. But now my answer is I would not change a thing. I think all those experiences shaped me into the mom I am now, and I finally feel like I am hitting my mothering stride.

The smartest thing we did was have family and friends stay with us for almost two months after the boys were born. I have a history of depression and I believe that help is the reason I did not end up with post-partum depression. I was able to mentally care for myself during a very stressful time, and I constantly had mothers around me to help care for me as well as the babies.

What is one thing you do really well as a mother of twins?

I think I do a really great job living in the moment. My blog and having twins help me in this. My blog helps because it’s a morning meditation on what happened the day before. Having twins helps because I only get one shot at each age, so I better enjoy it. I am always trying to make each day the best it can be.

What is one thing you think you are horrible at?

I am really terrible, and I mean truly horrible, at dealing with loud chaos. I can deal with chaos and I can deal with loudness, but the two together drive me directly to the edge of insanity. And yes, I have almost 3 year old twin boys! I’ve learned as they get older, the chaos just gets more insane and the loudness gets so much louder.

I want the boys to grow up feeling comfortable expressing themselves and learning about their world but sometimes I feel like I am going to lose it with the insanity. Jon lets me hide out in our guest room until I feel emotionally calm. When he’s gone, I turn on the TV for the boys when I’m going to lose it.

I guess you say I’m learning when to put myself in time out!

Did you have a favorite product that you can’t rave about enough?

A white noise CD called For Crying Out Loud. Also the BOB Revolution Duallie. Pricey but so worth it. Jon and I will be doing a 5K race next month with the boys in it.

laurarunning

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?

Jon and I would magically wake up in the private villa in St Lucia where we honeymooned. We would have a leisurely breakfast overlooking the ocean. We would have massages on the deck. We would lay in the sun, go swimming, read books, drink fruity drinks, and then have someone cook us lobsters for dinner. There would certainly need to be something huge and chocolate for dessert. We would stay up very late talking and listening to music. Then at the end of the day, we would magically be transported back to our house so we could peek in on the boys sleeping.

What do you think you would actually end up doing?
Tackling the items on the never-ending chore list that are easier to get done when the kids are not around.

What is the first thing you do after saying goodnight to the kids and closing the bedroom door?

Turn on the monitor and listen carefully. Last week Nate said to Alex, “If you poop on your pillow, you won’t be able to sleep because you will have poop in your hair.” When I went back in their room, I was not surprised to find Alex naked.

Thanks for joining us Laura!
Remember readers, you are free to suggest other commentors/bloggers for the next interview series!

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Flying With Twin Infants

Shortly after you get comfortable going pee with twins, you will decide that you need to get out of the house with the twins. Maybe to a restaurant. Where regular people eat. At regular people hours. And I’m telling you right now after a few successes, you’ll feel bold enough to get out of town with the twins.

For road trips, The Meyers Family wrote an informative post about must-have’s for the car with children. And Shawn wrote some car travel secrets for toddlers.

Snickollet and Goddess In Progress, two REALLY BRAVE moms, have written about flying solo with twin toddlers here and here.

What with all this and more great information on traveling, what could I possibly bring to the table? Well, maybe not much, but at least it’s one more experience to peruse as you plan your trip, specifically, one where you are flying with infant twins. That’s one of the things I’ve learned so far: listen to people’s stories, modify for your own situation.

I’ve linked to the posts originally published on my personal blog, RaJenCreation. And if you have questions or additional tips to offer, by all means, comment!

Part I: Planning and Packing

Part II: The Airport Experience

Part III: Your Final Destination

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