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Archive for the ‘Development’ Category

The following post, “Keeping It Real” is shamelessly lifted from my own blog, RaJen Creation. It addresses some of the visible changes our home has experienced as the multiples metamorphose from infants to toddlers. It’s not even archivey, considering it was originally published less than two months ago. But what is that they say: the days are long but the years are short? Yeah, it’s like that.

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I receive messages and emails from readers (thanks, by the way, to those that emerge from lurkdom to comment or email!) asking various questions about what we use or how we did something. A few have mentioned how organized and tidy we keep things. And if that’s what you think, then you want me on your Balderdash team.

We are far from orderly (you should see the piles on our dining room table), a fact I become especially aware of in instances like last Thursday when I went to a family’s home in the neighborhood. Until then, I’ve always been skeptical that anyone could actually have the home pictured in a Pottery Barn catalog. But they made me a believer. Everything Had A Place. And a label. And for those of you who know me, you know very well that I was like Pavlov’s dog in there.

In my reality, however, organization and cleanliness is a work in progress for me now, particularly since our home is in constant transformation, as illustrated in the following photos.

This shot was taken in December, 2007. Our home used to be this tidy. Because I was pregnant, and because I hand-string all those lights, we used our “little” Christmas tree and kept the rest of the decorations to a minimum. Mostly because I was tired. Notice my beloved piano.

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Fast forward seven months to July, 2008. The kids were around three months old and we were around..EXHAUSTED. Both babies had been diagnosed with reflux. Something we kinda figured what with all the projectile vomiting and all. Hence, the towels. Notice the coffee table made of glass and iron. And that the piano is there. But that the orange chair and ottoman are not. The chair is now in the nursery because the second of us needed some back support when feeding babies at bedtime. The ottoman is all jacked up in a closet somewhere.

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Four months later and it was November, 2008. The reflux was gone by now, so there were less towels around. What? No coffee table? That moved to the garage. I always tsk tsked those people who had so much shit in their garages that they couldn’t park the cars in there. And while I’ve yet to succumb entirely, I have a soft spot for those families now. It all makes sense. We had also moved the sofa to the center of the room, something our real estate agent suggested we do, you know, so that a prospective buyer might have the feeling that this could very well be their home. Uh, yeah, doubtful. And yes, those are their halloween costumes splayed across the brown leather chair. In November.

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Moving into March, 2009. With experienced crawlers in the house and with the kids at home with a nanny, we had to chose to make some changes for what we perceive to be their benefit. Yep, no piano – sold in January 2009. Teensy living rooms and baby grands don’t mix with exponentially mobile toddler-approaching-babies. The sofa is now against the wall. The brown leather chair pushed up against the opposite wall to create a barrier between chew-on-everything-ers and the iPod docking station and stereo subwoofer. There’s a black interlocking foam mat at the bottom of the stairs to cushion the inevitable falls near the stairs. We also moved the red bookcase upstairs, strategically placed in front of the fireplace. It sits upon a black workout mat which covers the hard slate and it is cut to accommodate the mantle molding.

Not A Fan Of Baby Einstein

Incidentally, you see Harper’s face? She hated Baby Einstein. I don’t know if was because they’ve been subjected to maybe a combined 4 hours of television in their lives, or if it was that creepy monkey hand puppet. Either way, I won’t force the television on them anymore, particularly since Mateo was disinterested altogether.

I’ll have to take After-Kids photos to provide a stark contrast to the Before-Kids photos of the nursery and play area.

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Picture this:

Our family of six is out for our nightly post-dinner, pre-bedtime walk.  I am pushing Brett in the single stroller, Brian is pushing Aaron and Brady in their side-by-side, and Alaina is riding next to us on her big girl bike. A&B spontaneously burst out into song. We’re not sure what words they are singing, but the melody sounds a bit like “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star”. Brian and I take a moment to smile at each other and share a “Yup. All of this is ours.” proud moment. And then…

Screaming! Terror! A chorus of Brady’s “NOOOOOOOOO”. Aaron’s silence (because his mouth is otherwise occupied, full of his brother’s arm.). In 1.1 seconds we’ve gone from a Norman Rockwell painting to an audition tape for “Nanny 911”.

Sadly, we have no idea why.

And then, back to singing.

And so it goes. 22-month old brothers who love each other one second and are trying to kill each other the very next. Over nothing. Brady enjoys hitting and hair pulling, Aaron prefers to bite. Neither have ever turned their aggression towards anyone except their other half. And as quickly as they turn it on, they are over it. Leaving their father and I to scratch our heads and stare dumbly at them – and each other – thinking “What the HELL was that?”

We know they love each other. They play, they cuddle, they bring each other their cups and conspire together. We listen to them on the monitor in their room at night talking in their little twin talk we don’t understand. We hear them waking up in the morning and whispering to each other and giggling before they shout out for “DaddEEEEE”. So what is going on? Why are they so hell bent on hurting each other for what seems like no other reason than sport?

Perhaps it is a function of spending too much time together? Perhaps they are just boys being boys? Who knows. But it is frustrating to say the least. And mind-boggling that after 15-seconds of all out WAR, before we can even react, they will go back to just dancing or singing or building a tower together.

Please tell me we’re not alone!

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This weekend, my husband Jon and I  watched our friend’s son Ben along with our twin boys Nate and Alex.  I learned some valuable lessons, most notably that Jon and I are definitely two-kid parents. I also had a super huge light bulb go off in my head. Twins versus singleton: it is very different, from both sides.

In the past, most of my focus has been on the negatives of parenting two the same age. Nate and Alex always have to share. They always have to wait. They never get alone time. In all of this, I never understood what my twins are GAINING from this experience. They are great at sharing. They have patience.  They have each other. It’s all cliche but it is true.

All of this was highlighted over the weekend when we threw Ben into the mix. Nate and Alex are used to waiting their turn to speak, or when they do speak, they often speak to each other. Ben is used to talking to adults, so even when Nate and Alex talked to him, Ben wanted to talk to the adults. Nate and Alex often have to wait for us to help them, so they’ve learned to try to do things themselves if we are busy. Ben often has the help of multiple adults, so he wanted us to do things for him.

This last point was highlighted frequently in physical activities. Jon and I simply can’t do everything physical for two 30+ lb children, so we rely on the boys to do a lot of the physical stuff. They take off their own clothes, climb into their chairs, climb into the tub, wash their own hands, climb into their car seats, etc. We’ve pushed them into more physical independence because it’s easier for us. It was very interesting to be around another child the same age who could not or did not want to do these things.

In no way am I saying either situation is better. What I took away from this weekend is that it will always be hard for twin parents and singleton parents to relate to one another on tackling issues because parenting multiples and parenting one kid are such completely different experiences. But I’ve always looked at it from the twin mom perspective. As a twin mom I’ve had to do things, so many things, to compromise but I could always justify it because I have twins. I now see things from the singleton mom perspective, where your kid relies on you for so much.

I’m so very glad we had this weekend, for me, for Jon, for my boys, for my friends, and for Ben. I feel like everybody won in some way. Our friends got a much-needed vacation. My boys got to take in another boy like a brother. Ben got to live in a house with “siblings”. Jon and I took away a better understanding of the things our boys have gotten from the experience of being a twin, lessons I will never forget. And I feel like I will be a better friend to my singleton mom friends when they talk to me about their trials and tribulations.

Now who wants to take my boys for a weekend so you can experience singleton versus twins?

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I had a lot of rules when picking names for my kids.  I didn’t want their names to rhyme or start with the same letter, I wanted them to be easy to spell and pronounce.  All names beginning with the letter J or H were ruled out, as were many names of crazy relatives.  One thing I did want, however, was the possibility for nicknames.  That’s one of the reasons we went with Rebecca over Sarah.

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And yet… in over a year and a half, I never called her anything but her full name.  We would sometimes say “Dan” for Daniel, but by and large we used their full names all the time.  It felt a little silly, since I had picked these names in part because of their ability to be shortened, yet here I was saying the whole thing every time.

Enter: toddler language development.  Rebecca has always said “Daniel” pretty clearly.  Daniel called her “Nee nee” for a while.  And then, unprompted, he started saying “Becca.”  And now that they’ve started referring to themselves with their own names, she calls herself “Becca.”  The funny thing is that I almost feel like that has given me permission to start calling her that, myself. Weird, huh?

Ice Cream for Dinner

I think it comes down to who you expect to bestow nicknames on kids.  Growing up, I was always the full-on Elizabeth where my family was concerned. But somewhere in late-middle school, my friends started to call me Liz.  Liz has stuck and it’s how almost everyone knows me… yet my mother will never, ever call me anything but Elizabeth.  So, in my mind, I guess I expect peers to pick nicknames.

My aunt, on the other hand, was always a Liz because that was the nickname her mother called her.  My aunt Liz named her son Christopher, and was somewhat distressed when his peers started calling him “Chris,” because she didn’t call him that.  In her mind, nicknames are picked by parents.

So, what about you, dear readers?  Did you pick a longer name for your kids but always knew you’d call them by the short version?  Did you pick a nickname-proof name to avoid the whole thing?  What is your take on nicknames and who “gets” to decide on them?

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Disclaimer: I love my twins. They are fantastic and I have a great family. Most days, I love having twins. Yesterday was not one of them.

Dear moms of singletons (who tell me—incessantly—how great it is that I have twins because they play together),

My son, who is a quiet little guy, spoke his first sentence yesterday a week after his second birthday. In fact, he’d never even said a two word sentence, and we got three—subject, verb and object. Go Danny.  And what did he say?

“Bite! Abby bite. Abby bite. Abby bite Danny!”

Yep, it was a day of firsts in my house. Abigail bit for the first time at 4pm—and the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th before bed at 7pm—and Danny spoke his first sentence. Somehow I should be happier about this developmental gain. Right? Right?

Yep, moms of one. Enjoy your lonely singleton. He may not have anyone to play with, but at least he is not covered in teeth marks.

Rebecca
Mom to Danny & Abigail, age 2

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When the boys were newborns, one of the things I hated to hear from twin moms with older twins was how much things get easier when they start playing together. I would ask when that was and they would say, “Oh, close to 3.” Peoples, if you come upon a mom of newborn twins, NEVER tell them things get so much easier THREE YEARS in the future.

But seriously, they were right. It’s as if some switch has been flipped in our house. Nate and Alex, who turn 3 next month, spend countless hours playing together with minimal interference. They talk and laugh and play. They also fight, but they’re getting better about working it out themselves. And they’re old enough now to know if they choose to solve their problems with physical violence, they go to timeout.

It really hit home this weekend when Nate helped Alex. My husband and I had gone out for a date, and the boys were completely fine with us leaving. When they went to bed, Alex started crying for us. The sitter said she walked upstairs to comfort Alex but by the time she got there, Nate had already comforted Alex and calmed him down just by talking to him.

Lightbulb moment: instead of two kids making each other crazy, I’m starting to see glimpses of two kids being brothers to each other. And they’re not even three.

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I have a potty mouth.  It might not be reflected accurately in my writing, but it is not uncommon to hear some really choice phrases come out of me.  Especially when driving.  Or when I stub my toe really hard.  Or, really, any time I’m worked up about something.

But now that I have a pair of toddlers who take great delight in repeating nearly everything I say, I’m trying to watch it.  Everyone makes their own choices on this issue, of course, but I do not want to be the one with the kids ranting that something “sucks,” or worse.  That’s just not how I was raised.  I remember being somewhat shocked the first time I heard my own mother swear, and I think I’d just as soon my kids held the same illusions about me.

My husband and I have been working on a good replacement word for our four-lettered friends.  Something you can say in your moments of stress without worrying about the kids saying it right back to you.  Our current choice: Awesome.  For instance, when following a typical Massachusetts driver, it might sound something like “Find your awesome turn-signal, jack-awesome!!”  Or, after our delayed flight home from Chicago in December, when we were waiting and waiting at the nearly-abandoned baggage carousel at 2AM, “let’s just get our awesome bags and get the awesome home.”

There was just one side to this whole obscenity thing, though, that I did not anticipate: colorful toddler pronunciations of otherwise harmless words.  Daniel, in particular, has a few favorites that just aren’t quite right.  At the moment, he loves to point out trucks.  Except, for some reason, he prefers an “s” to the “t,” so there’s a lot of shouting “sucks! sucks!” from my back seat.  He also is a big fan of letting you know, with great enthusiasm, if there is a clock nearby.  Except, well, he just drops the “L.”  So that’s… special.  And then there’s one of his very favorites: flag.  He really loves to see flags flying high in the wind, or the several dozen when we pass the cemetary.  With the dropped L and the G sounding more like a K…. Honest to God, it sounds like my son drops the f-bomb every 5 minutes.  I swear… it’s not my fault!  I was being so good around them!

Skeptical

Though, just the same, I guess I should stop listening to the Avenue Q soundtrack while they’re in the playroom.

What about you, dear readers…. what is your choice for curse-word replacement? Have your kids repeated something you wished they wouldn’t?

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