Archive for 2014

Potty Training Twins: Tips and Tricks I Learned Along The Way

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Having two sick little girls is no fun! We even ended up with a trip to the hospital! Luckily, they are finally feeling better and I can get back to writing on my blog again!

The girls have been using the potty for a couple of months now. Yippee!

When I was starting to potty train, I noticed there wasn't a ton of info. out there about potty training twins.  I know a few of my moms of multiples friends have had to do double training since one twin was ready before the other.  But my girls always want to be doing the same thing at the same time.  So training one than the other wasn't an option for us.

Honestly, I was a little overwhelmed at the task of training two at the same time. Where do I even begin?  I thought about when I was teaching and how I would teach a new concept to my students.  Since I feel better armed with a plan, I came up with my own "lesson" plan for potty training...

1.) Pre-Assess- I searched online for potty training readiness cues.  Here are a sample of questions I found on
  • Does your child seem interested in the potty chair or toilet, or in wearing underwear?
  • Can your child understand and follow basic directions?
  • Does your child tell you through words, facial expressions or posture when he or she needs to go?
  • Does your child stay dry for periods of two hours or longer during the day?
  • Does your child complain about wet or dirty diapers?
  • Can your child pull down his or her pants and pull them up again?
  • Can your child sit on and rise from a potty chair?
Since the girls were showing signs for over half of these questions, I decide to move forward by

2.) Building their background knowledge of how to use a potty

  • A few months before the girls turned two, I purchased two potties and left them in the living room so they could explore. We talked constantly about using the potty.  They were eager to watch others model how to go potty on the toilet.  I also started reading potty books.  Some of their favorites were... 

images from

I even checked out a few DVDs from the library for the girls to watch.  Once upon a Potty For Girls and Elmo's Potty Time were both big hits.  As long as I made using the potty look exciting, fun, and easy the girls were ready to give it a try.

3.) Gather Remaining Supplies
Since we have three main living areas in our house, I decided to  purchase enough potties to have one on each floor so I wouldn't have to remember to carry them up and downstairs.  I quickly learned that each girl would need her own potty (there's no holding it to wait for an unoccupied potty), so I ended up purchasing another set to keep on the first floor.  Here are some of our favorite potty training essentials...
From top left-
Bjorn Potty (solid, non skid, easy to clean)
Fisher price Froggy Potty (inexpensive, easy to clean, lightweight, easy to throw in back of car)
Mayfair Nextstep Child/Adult Built in Potty Seat (looks good in powder room, magnetic closure is very tight so won't fall but too tough for my girls to open alone)
Baby Bjorn Toilet Trainer (easy to remove and clean, non slip, good to take on overnight trips)
Potette Plus Portable Potty (full size, folds flat, easy to carry in diaper bag while running errands, non slip, durable)
Britax Seatsaver Waterproof Liner (EZ dry fabric, machine washable, fits most carseats)
Kandoo Flushable Toddler Wipes
Minnie underwear (girls chose their favorite:)

4.)The "I Do" Portion Of This Lesson

  • Once I was sure the girls had a good understanding of HOW to use the potty we started to work on the WHEN.   I was ready to go all in with the Potty Training Bootcamp (also known as 3 Day Potty Training or Potty Training in a Weekend). 
  • We rolled up the throw rugs (I figured the hardwood floors would be easier to clean), let the girls run around without a diaper, and  I sat the girls on the potty every 15 minutes-30 minutes. It was exhausting!  Even with my husband home to help, we couldn't keep up with the accidents, and the running  the girls to the potty when an accident started to happen.   By day two, we were exhausted and the girls were stressed.  Not wanted what I wanted.   I told them how proud I was of their effort. I left everything set up, but we went back to diapers.  The  good thing that came from this attempt was the girls had practice of racing to the potty, peeing on the potty, and the experience of having an accident.  
5.) The "We do" Part
  • About 3 weeks after the botched potty training attempt.  I was running low on diapers.  I started counting down the number of diapers we had left in the house-sharing the amount with the girls- then I would remind them that when the diapers were all gone, they were going to use big girl undies and go pee-pee and poo-poo on the potty.  I was so nervous because I could tell that we were going to run out of diapers on a weekday when I would be home alone with the girls.  I was so worried about having a repeat of last time.  But it was nothing like last time! 
This time I let the girls take the lead, but was right there with them...
  • I put them in tight fitting pants with no undies (easier to absorb any accidents, and quicker to pull up and down)
  • I didn't set any timers and gave very few reminders  
  • We had a good amount of accidents the first day, less the second, and only 2 the third day.  By day 6, we were accident free.  
  • As soon as the girls said "Potty" I would scoop them up and run to the nearest potty (which I strategically would keep with in 5 feet of us at all times, even when playing on the deck or in the back yard)
  • I rewarded successes with cheers, hugs, and a skittle or a pick from the prize box. (I know "they" say rewarding a positive behavior with food is "bad". But really, it's the only time my girls get candy and if one skittle does the trick, I'm OK with that.  Plus, the more they go on the potty, the less they ask for or expect a skittle.  After 3 weeks, I think they may have remembered to ask for a skittle once every 10 times.)
  • When accidents happened, instead of saying, "That's ok" I used "You had an accident, but you will make it next time."  Still positive, but not dismissing the accident.  
  • I kept a roll of paper towels, the Swiffer mop, and Clorox wipes close by to clean up any messes.
  • I've talked about this before, but I'm not big on using reward charts.  No reason to make one feel less than the the other. However, I do use a "Poo Chart".  The girls get to put a stamp on it and on their hand when they do the deed in the potty! Seems to be working. 
  • After that first week, I took the girls to Babies R' Us to pick out a "Big Girl Prize" to celebrate all of their hard work.  They chose Minnie Mouse cups without straws because "it for big girls!" So cute! 
6.) The "You Do" Part- Fostering Independence 
  • We are still working on naptime and nighttime potty training.  For now we use pull ups.  I'm being a bit lazy here, but I was so tired of cleaning up accidents in the beds.  The girls keep a potty in their room, and most of the time they will get up and use it instead of the pull up. Building independence! 
  • Reward dry pull ups with cheers! 
  • My goal is to work on naptime training over the next month, and then nighttime sometime after that. (I'll let you know how it goes).
  • Running errands: I always throw one of the froggy potties in the back of the SUV before we leave the house.  It's nice to have the quick grab if needed. 
  • Public restrooms with twins is HARD and DISGUSTING! There is no easy way around it.  If we are too far from the car to use the froggy potty, I will use the potette plus on the toilet.  I try to use the largest stall in the restroom and have drilled in to their heads when you are waiting for your sister, you don't touch anything! I often give the waiting twin my keys or something to hold to keep them from exploring on their own.  I need to be better at insisting if one goes, then the other one tries. Inevitability, ten minutes after a visit to the restroom for one, the other decides she needs to go.
7.) Final Assessement
We still have accidents every now and then.  I think that's to be expected.  I'm just so happy to be saving a fortune each week by not buying diapers.  

Potty training twins at the same time is HARD! I often clock 30 flights of stairs on my Fitbit from running up and down to empty potties (no bathroom on the 2nd floor).  In the beginning, there will be back to back accidents or pee running down legs while you are racing to get the other one on the potty.  You will do more laundry then you thought possible, and there will be days when even then you still run out of clean Minnie Mouse underwear.  It may even take months until you get to sit down and eat dinner without the, "I have to go" cry interrupting you mid-bite.  But don't despair.  Know that there are others out there just like you and we all survive.  If you go into potty training knowing it will be tough, it will be a lot easier to laugh off the craziness and come out the other side with your sanity still in tact (more or less-I mean you are still a mom of multiples, lol).

Love to hear from you about your potty training experiences. Especially any tips for for nighttime training.

Happy Potty Training!
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Potties in the driveway, a cat on the loose, and a feline Adkins diet?...Just Another Day With The Twins

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

A true story...
The day started out normal enough.  Loaded up the girls and our cat in the car. Dropped off the girls at my parents' house, and took the cat to the vet for her annual check up.  But that's where the normal part ended.

Our cat, Camden, is an eight year old calico and she weighs almost 20 pounds!  She is ridiculously fat! She has been on a "diet" for the past two years, but apparently it's not working. She is a VERY lazy cat. Her ideal day would probably be spent curled up in my lap while I hand fed her cat treats and brushed her fur.  If only I could find some little ankle weights and a mini treadmill then maybe we wouldn't have this problem. So anyway, this morning we saw a new vet at our clinic.  First, she gave me the guilt trip for having a fat cat. Of course I can see she is obese, and no I don't want her to get diabetes. So what can I do?  She suggested we try a feline Adkins style diet. Seriously?  I laughed when she suggested it. I thought is was a joke. Nope!.  The diet consists of weaning her completely off of dry food and feeding her canned cat food that is high in protein and fat. Who knew? 

After we finish up at the vet, I help Camden squeeze back into her cat carrier, (she really is fat).  We go pick up the girls and head back home.

Once home, I begin the process of unloading the four of us and all of our stuff by taking Juliette out from her carseat behind me. She walks into the garage towards the inside door.   I open up the back of our SUV on my way around the car to get Genevieve to remind myself to take out the potties I had brought to my parents'.  The girls are in the throes of potty training.    Just as I set Genevieve down, I see Juliette running back towards the car with a trail of pee following behind her as she's shouting," MAMA!".  I grab a potty from the back, throw it down on the driveway, as she yanks down her pants to finish.  Her pants, shoes, and socks are now soaking wet. All of which I begin to remove.  

Meanwhile Genevieve has run to the inside door and is crying, anxious to get inside.  "Strange she is in such a hurry to get inside", the fleeting thought passes.  Whatever, I'll let her in and then finish cleaning up Juliette.  I let her in only to have her quickly emerge running back outside and shouting, "Potties are missing!"   This can only mean one thing, GET THE OTHER POTTY! I grab it from  the trunk just as she pulls her pants down!

Juliette, still sitting on the potty,  is having a fit that she needs clean pink pants now! God forbid she wait the 15 steps it takes to get in the house.  No, she needs pink pants, here, in the middle of the freakin' driveway! I'm trying to find the extra pants in the bag I packed for Nona's house when I see Genevieve bringing me her potty.  Pee is sloshing over the edge. But she is beaming,. Grinning ear to ear!  "Mama, I tinkled! I so proud!"

That's when I hear a tiny, whiny meow.  I look up through the open rear door and see two yellow eyes staring at me.  The cat has managed to escape from her carrier and is standing on the center console ready to jump. At this point I also realize that I have left the rear passenger side door open and she is about to make an immediate exit. She is an indoor cat and despite her rather obtuse size, she would be completely useless in the wild. Ignoring the screaming child, and the sloshing pee, I hurl myself through the opened rear door, over the top of the back seat, and attempt to trap the cat with my body. Miraculously, I manage to wedge her in-between the seats, the floor, and me.  She is trying to pancake herself to slide out from under me.  Good luck with that, fat cat!  I am literally hanging upside down,  trying to get my left foot unstuck from in-between the back seats and the ceiling.  I grab her by the scruff (luckily there is a lot of excess to grab),  pull her close, and unwedge my foot so we can both safely exit the vehicle.  Fortunately, the crying has ceased because the girls are staring at the spectacle I created.  Although I can't say for certain whether in awe or in fear for me... or the cat.

I get the cat inside, carry Juliette in, sans pants (one point for mama), and Genevieve follows us in.  Luckily, I don't have to worry about the spilled pee or the trail Juliette created earlier, because sweet Genevieve has used her favorite pink blanket to wipe everything up off the driveway and the dirty garage floor! Oh well, I've already got laundry to do today!

I literally let out a sigh of relief when I close the door behind me.

My mind starts to wander for a split second, always moving ahead,  thinking about what I should make for lunch? When I hear, "Mama, pink pants!"  Oops!

What a morning!

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Can You Get Your Body Back After Having Twins?

Thursday, May 15, 2014

I gained about 60 pounds when I was pregnant with the twins.  That's right 6-0! Sentenced to bed rest at the start of my third trimester,  I had to let go of my after dinner walks and pre-natal yoga classes. Nothing was more important to me than keeping those babies cooking for as long as possible!
After graduating college, I really took control of my life by eating healthy and working out most days. I constantly stayed current with exercise and dietary trends.  I worked hard to keep my body healthy!

But after having the girls, the task of getting back in shape when I was mentally, emotionally, and physically exhausted seemed daunting.

How was I going to return to a healthy weight and feel better about my body?

Finally, two years later and back at my pre-pregnancy weight (give or take a few pounds), I wanted to share what's been working for me.

*I have to admit, I was sort of nervous writing this post, I definitely don't have a "perfect" body.  But, I am having  success losing the baby weight.  I thought maybe these tips might be useful in helping others to take back their bodies:) 

In the beginning...

The first few months after the girls were born, I didn't have much time to think, let alone to think about my body. Since I was nursing, I tried to make healthy choices about the food I ate.  I would also take the girls for walks around the neighborhood. I found that a little over half of the weight I gained came off. An added bonus of nursing twins:)

At the one year mark...

I was determined to get back into my pre-pregnancy jeans.  Since I wasn't nursing anymore,  I knew I had to do more than just watch what I ate and take leisurely strolls. So I decided to... 

  • Sneak in exercise Pre-pregnancy I would find myself  at the gym for an hour or two after work.  How was I ever going to find time for that?  No way! Instead, I found ways to sneak in 10-20 minutes of exercise here and there. Pop in a DVD during naptime, do some triceps dips while out at the playground, or load the girls into the jogging stroller and go for a walk/jog.  Some of my favorite quick workout DVDs were exhale core fusion 30 Day sculpt (30 20-Minute workouts day-by-day plan), the 10 Minute Solution Rapid Results Pilates, and Jillian Michael's Ripped in 30 (each workout is about 35 minutes). I also downloaded the RunDouble C25K Pro app on my phone.  I liked having a scheduled planed for me (run 3 times a week for nine weeks), and the verbal reminders of when to walk and when to jog were helpful at motivating me to step up my leisurely strolls.   
  • Schedule workouts By simply writing down my workouts on the calendar, I found that I was more likely to stick with them.  I tried to do something active everyday. I wasn't running all the time or even able to spend a half hour on a DVD every day, but I figured even a 10 minute walk was better than nothing at all! I felt happy if I could squeeze in 2-3 longer workouts a week.  Of course chasing around the twins also helped keep me moving.  
  • My closet As a new stay at home mom, I didn't have the need (or the means) to spend a ton of money on a whole new wardrobe of clothes in larger sizes!  Seeing all of my pretty clothes hanging in the closet just waiting for me to lose weight was very motivating to me.  
  • Track what I eat I downloaded the MyFitnessPal app on both my android phone and iPad (free on both).  I lost weight instantly, just by becoming aware of what I was putting into my mouth.   I was shocked at how much nibbling I was doing.  A leftover bite of the girls' PB sandwich here some cheddar bunnies there, it adds up quickly. The app lets you enter your goal weight and gives you suggestions on how many calories to consume based upon your activity level and desired weekly weight loss goal. You can sync the app between devices so it's easy to enter food at home or on the go.  I love the scanner feature that lets you zap a bar code and instantly enters the food into your daily chart.  You can also enter your workouts, and the more you workout the more calories are added back into your daily goal.  I have been known to squeeze in an extra 10 minutes of activity so I can add on a glass of wine at night:)  I don't track my food on the weekends.  I decided a few weeks ago to stop.  I still try to make good choices, but I don't stress if I want to enjoy a gelato with my girls or a nice dinner out.  
I remember the day I fit back into my pre-pregnancy jeans! I was ecstatic! 

Now at the two year mark...

Even though I am pretty much at my pre-babies weight, my body is definitely not the same! Some parts are larger and some a little jigglier than they used to be.  But, the girls are getting older which means I am sleeping more than ever, and I finally have the energy to really take back my body!
Here are the changes I added...
  • Track my activity I love my fitbit.  I had an original one years ago, but it stopped logging activity correctly. My husband got me the new fitbit one as a mother's day gift, and I am loving it! Just attach it to your pants and it tracks your steps, floors, calories, and activity level throughout the day.  You can also sync it to the MyFitnessPal app so that it automatically inputs your calories burnt. On Monday,  I was so close to the 10,000 step mark I was walking in place after the girls went to bed just to add on steps.  Everything is displayed neatly for you to monitor on your computer, smartphone, or iPad.  You can even track your sleep!
  • Join a gym with childcare One of my struggles was finding time to workout.  The girls weren't too excited to sit in the jogging stroller for a half hour any more.  And I didn't want to lose all of naptime to workout.  So, I found a gym with a great childcare center.  Now I get an hour or two 2-3 times a week to workout alone or take group classes and the girls get to play with all of the "new" toys and teachers.  Win-win! 
  • Workout with friends Some days I don't feel like going to the gym, but knowing that I am meeting up with a friend helps me drag my butt out of the house.  I don't want to let her down by not showing up!   
  • Cut back the coffee creamer I love my coffee sweet.  But, once I started measuring and tracking my calories I realized I was adding close to a 1/4 cup of creamer. Yuck! I slowly weaned myself down one tablespoon at a time until I was using a much healthier amount. Every tablespoon I cut, I saved 35 calories. That was over 490 calories a week! 
  • Remember Slow and Steady wins the race The most important thing I learned during this whole  process was that the weight wasn't going to instantly fall off. I still have to continue to work hard and stay positive.  Building in a few incentives doesn't hurt either.  A pedicure when I've lost the next five pounds or a bubble bath after I worked out three days in a row can be just enough to keep me going! 
 I know I am far from having a perfect body, but I'll take this healthy one! 

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The Kind Of Mama I Want To Be

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

This Sunday I will be celebrating my 3rd Mother's Day!

When I was thinking about what type of Mother's Day post I wanted to write, I started thinking about how I would want my girls to remember me as their mother.  Someday in the future, when they sit back and reflect about their time growing up with me, what will they think and feel?

That line of thinking inspired me to write this post...

I Want To...

Be PRESENT.  Put down the cell phone and the iPad.  Not only show up, but PLAY and really LISTEN.

Be able to FIND HAPPY everyday and SHARE it.  Life is full of challenges and obstacles that make some days hard. But, looking for the little things that make you happy everyday makes even the worst days seem a little more bearable.  Sharing those small joys with my daughters every night before bed makes us smile.

Be SUPPORTIVE. I know I won't always like or agree with my daughters' choices.  However, I want to support their dreams and goals, even if they aren't my own.

Be a SHOULDER to both cry on and lean on.


Find ways to be CALM when I'm fuming inside.

Be PATIENT when I'm in a hurry, and they are not.


Be THANKFUL.  Let go of comparing myself to others and be grateful for everything I have at this very minute on this very day.

I am blessed with two sweet, beautiful daughters and I am so lucky to be their Mama.

Here's to being the Mama you can be!

Happy Mother's Day!
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Springtime Chicks

Thursday, May 1, 2014

The sun is shining and the weather is warm.  Springtime has arrived!

I thought to celebrate we would make springtime chicks:)

In order to make these chicks you will need:
Construction paper (white for body, yellow for wings, orange for beak and legs)
Glue stick
Black marker for eyes (or wiggle eyes would be cute)
Yellow paint
Different textures to use as paintbrushes (we used corks and q-tips)

Instead of using a paintbrush to paint our chicks, I thought it would be fun to try out some different textures. I chose corks and q-tips (mostly because they were the first things I saw when I opened up our craft area) but you could use a paintbrush or get really creative here with a variety of objects.
After painting, we let our chicks dry. Then the girls glued the pieces together and added two eyes using a black marker.

Yay, for Spring!  
Have fun making your own Springtime Chicks!

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Tips For Expecting and New Parents of Twins: Part III- They're here! Now what?

Monday, April 28, 2014

I hope you had a chance to check out
Tips for Expecting and New Parents of Twins:  Part 1 and Part 2.

This is Part 3, and my final installment of the series.

The twins have finally arrived and you are all home.  Maybe enjoying a few blissful moments of quiet.

If you are at all like me, you are using those few moments of peace to search online for solutions or affirmations to your latest problems.  "Why won't she sleep?"  "Is all this crying normal?" "Why can't I nurse?" "Why won't my husband just throw on a load of baby laundry without me having to ask him?"

I've been where you are and trust me when I say, it gets easier!

But for now, I hope my final five tips will provide you with just a bit of reassurance that life with newborn twins may be overwhelming at times, but someday you will sit back and say, "Where did the time go?"

1. Swaddling is amazing:   When I was on bedrest I read so many baby books.  One of my favorites was Dr. Karp’s Happiest Baby on The Block.  I know I've written about him before in previous posts, but I seriously think he is a genius! The book also has a DVD version that I checked out from our local public library.  I’m a visual learner.  My husband and I would practice swaddling a giant teddy bear while watching the DVD.  Boy, was that helpful!  The tighter the swaddle the better for our little bugs.  When my girls were reaching that overtired starting to cry stage, we would tightly wrap them up and soon they would be drifting off to sleep.  
My sister, Melinda, had introduced us to the Halo sleep slack.  Boy were they helpful in keeping the girls swaddled.  In fact, the girls slept in a sleep sack (they make sleeveless ones for older babies) until they were almost 2 years old. 

2. Nursing twins isn't easyI wasn't skilled enough to tandem nurse until the girls were a couple of  months old.  So, as soon as one baby finished nursing I would immediately nurse the second.  My husband would take the little one who had finished eating and burp her.  Most of the times she would fall asleep when eating, so he would lay her in the co-sleeper set up next to our bed while I started feeding her sister. I was able to nurse the girls for 11 months, but it was hard for me.  I wrote a post describing some difficulties I encountered and how I went about fixing them.  See this previous post for more info. on nursing twins

3.  You might feel sad or blue:  I didn't know how hard the baby blues would hit me when  I came home from the hospital.  My hormones, and in turn emotions were running wild! I remember feeling happy one minute and then feeling frustrated and crying the next.  I was a mess.  I'm sure the sleep deprivation didn't help matters.  

I also didn't realize it would take a bit for me to develop a connection with my new babies.  I was expecting instantaneous attachment.  Like you see in the movies.  It took a little while to develop that mother-daughter bond. 

*If you feel that you can't shake your sadness be sure to talk to your doctor. You have two babies! That's hard for anyone! But, Post Partum Depression is real and your doctor can help you feel better:)

4. Communicate with your spouse: For the first time in nine years, I saw my husband struggling emotionally, too.  He was always the rock. The strong and dependable one, there to calm me down when I started to worry and fret.  Seeing him so anxious and stressed was new.  After a rather emotional breakdown-on my part- we shared our stresses and wow what a difference talking it out made for us.  He knew what I needed and I discovered what was bothering him. When you are both sleep deprived, emotional, and now a family of four (or more), forgetting about the two of you is easy to do.  I truly believe that setting aside a few minutes to talk/vent/share every day helped us get through those really tough times.  Even if it was 2:30 am and I was up feeding the girls, he was sitting in bed next to me ready to help. Making me see, I'm not alone! 

5. Join a local multiples club:  I am so thankful to have a large and active moms of multiples club in my area.  The club provided me with meals after the girls were born and a “Big Sister”, a mom of fraternal twins and a neighbor , who I adore.  She would visit me while I was on bed rest and then even after the girls came.  She offered advice and listened to my concerns.  Having a community of moms who know EXACTLY what I am going thorough helped me tremendously.  I volunteer on the board of my club now, and I am thankful I can payback the kindness of others.
Having friends and family of singletons is great, but sometimes you will need a bit more support from someone who's been there.  

Even if you don’t have a club near you, find support online.  There are great forums and bloggers out there to help.  

Of course, I would love to answer questions or help out, don’t be afraid to askJ

And I promise...It gets easier!  Don't forget to laugh and enjoy those babies! They grow so fast!

All you moms of multiples, I'd love to share any additional advice you may have so comment below! 

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At-Home Color Wall/Book: A Simple Way To Teach Colors to One and Two Year Olds

Friday, April 25, 2014

When the girls were about one year old, I started introducing a color of the week.  I would show them a piece of construction paper in the color of the week and then point out a few things through out the days of that week that were in our color.

Pretty soon, the girls were naming colors like pros.

After we cycled through the colors once, I repeated the activity.  This time writing the name of the color on the construction paper.  I would then set out a few objects in various colors and the girls would search through those things to locate the ones that showed the color of the week.  I tried to find small objects like stickers, pipe cleaners, pom poms, etc.. things that would be easy to glue down. I glued those objects onto the paper and then hung the paper on a designated wall in our playroom.  That wall soon became known as the color wall.
This activity was very challenging at first, so I would only set out three objects at a time.  With two of those objects being the same color.  As they got older and more skilled, I was able to set out more objects in different colors.

Once we cycled through all the colors again, I had the girls join in helping me find more objects around the house to add to our papers on the color wall.

The papers hung on the wall for quite some time until I decided to turn them into a book.  I created a cover and then trimmed the papers so they would each fit into a clear sheet protector.  I tied the sheet protectors together with ribbon so they formed a book.

Simple, yet effective!

Have fun learning colors together!

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Tips for Expecting Parents of Twins: Part II: What To Add To The Registry

Monday, April 21, 2014

Trying to figure out what baby gear to buy in double, and what you can get away with only buying one can be overwhelming for expecting parents of twins.

I asked some of my friends, who are also mommies of multiples, to help me generate a list of what you REALLY need to buy in double.  Here is what we came up with:

  • Two bouncy seats or two boppies-  You will need places to set the babies down when you have to run to the bathroom or grab a glass of water. Bouncy seats are great for babies with reflux because they keep them sitting in an upright position. 
  • A pack and play and diaper changing station in our main living area as well as one in our bedroom was very helpful. Prevented me from running up and down the stairs while recovering from the c-section. As they got older, having 2 pack in plays came in handy for traveling. 
  • Fisher Price Rock and Play Sleepers-  We discovered these a few months after the girls were born.  But had I known about these, I would have used them from day one.  See this post for more on the Rock and Play Sleepers. 
  • Diapers, wipes, and diaper cream-We went through appx. 24 diapers a day, in the beginning. One of my friends gave me a huge box of baby wipes for my baby shower.  It probably contained over 1,000 wipes.  I thought it would last us a year. Not even close.  Asking for diapers, wipes, and diaper rash cream for shower gifts is really helpful. 
  • Burp cloths or cloth diapers to use as burp cloths and bibs- our girls had reflux so I know they had more than the average amount of spit-up but having a plethora of cloths and bibs helped decrease the need for frequent laundering. Keep a stash of these cloths in areas where you feed the babies.  
  •  If you plan on nursing, I would suggest using a double nursing pillow.  You may even want two.  One for your bedroom and one for the living room.  When you finally crawl into bed the last thing you want to do is run back downstairs because you forgot your nursing pillow and it's time for the babes to eat again. See this post for more on nursing twins
  •   If you decide to bottle feed plan on needing 16-20 bottles a day.  That also means having a large bottle drying rack/area and dishwasher bottle basket.
  • Two car seats were essential for getting us to those doctor appointments.
  • Baby Board Books- it is never too early to start reading to your kids! You can even read your favorite blog or newspaper article, just let them hear your voice:)  
  • Baby Jingle Toy or Rattles- my girls would stare peacefully when my husband and I would gently shake a toy or rattle. Especially ones with soft jingly sounds, bright colors, and faces.  

What To Get Away With Buying Only One: 

  • Double Tandem Stroller- a double tandem style was great for our first trips out. We used the Countors Double Tandem.  It was so long, I felt like I was chauffering a limo.  But, having the option to use the car seat adapters or seats, made our stroller a long term investment.
    Now, the girls prefer a side-by-side umbrella stroller or the 2-seater wagon for outings.  Some moms recommended the double snap and go.  It's an affordable and light weight stroller that holds infant carseats. 
  • Baby swing-  You may want to take turns between a bouncy seat and a swing.  Helps prevent boredom and saves on floor space
  • Bath tub- until the babies can sit up independently, you will probably only give one baby a bath at a time
  • White noise machine- this was so helpful. We now have two, but early on one was fine. 

What can wait?

  • We had two cribs set up in the nursery, but didn't use them until the girls were about 3-4 months old. 
  • My girls loved their mobiles.  They would sit in their bouncy seats, in their cribs, watching the mobiles while I folded and put away laundry.  But, we didn't use them regularly until they were sleeping in their cribs.  
  • Baby exersaucers are great for when they get a bit older, maybe 4 months or so. 

· I hope this list helps get you started.  

Moms of Multiples...What else am I forgetting?  Would love your comments and suggestions!  

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Review of Preschool and Kindergarten Learning App

Friday, April 18, 2014

*Disclaimer:  Although I received a small compensation for reviewing this product, all opinions are completely by own. I was compensated to review this product, but not to provide a positive review.

Preschool and Kindergarten learning kids games for girls & boys ∙ Learn to read interactive ABC, alphabet tracing, phonics song with educational app based on Montessori match letter quiz & logical math puzzle games for toddler iPad free by Kids Academy

By Kids Academy Company

Now that my girls are getting older, I have created a schedule for them where every day of the week I provide a different activity.   Along with many other parents, I use Tech Tuesday as a way of reinforcing previously taught concepts. 

I know that growing up technology will be a major part of my girls' lives. However, at this age, I like to limit the amount of time spent on the iPad.  I also like to find quality applications that are educational based and provide a safe place to play and learn.  

I was happy to learn about Kids Academy Company's new preschool app.  

  • free educational games
  • incredible colors and graphics 
  • uses baby steps to help kids trace numbers and letters
  • kids are rewarded after tracing numbers by adding fireflies to their jar- cute idea
  • great phonics and spelling with visuals and sound 
  • cute animations with easy to follow voice instructions
  • parent controls allow music and voice to be turned on or off
  • must make in-app purchases to play all games
  • must make in-app purchases to continue playing games
Parts of this app were a bit challenging for my two year olds, and might be more appropriate for slightly older preschoolers and kindergartners. 

Click on the link at the top of this page to download for free on iTunes.
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Tips for Expecting and New Moms of Twins: Part I: The First Week Home

Monday, April 14, 2014

Having newborn twins is hard!  
Ask any parent of multiples and they will tell you the same.  Last week I was at the dentist, he has fraternal girl twins that turn 28 this year.  Yet he can still recall how difficult the beginning was for him and his wife.  He joked that he didn't sleep for an entire year.   

Although a lot of my memories from the girls first six months, like my dentist, are hazy (thank you sleep deprivation) I thought it might be helpful to create a list of things I wish I knew before having twins to help out any soon-to-be or new mamas of multiples. 

As I was writing these tips I realized my post was getting pretty long. If you have new twins, I know you barely have time to read, so I decided to break it down into three parts.

Part I:  Getting Started- That First Week Home

1.  Accept Family Help or Hire a Night Nurse/Doula:  I had no idea how difficult bringing home 2 tiny little babies and recovering from a c-section was going to be for me (and my husband).  With two babies there isn't really an option for taking turns to sleep. The girls weren't born wanting to eat, sleep, wake, cuddle, and soil diapers at the same time every day. 

My husband and I were so exhausted! A 90 minute stretch of sleep was a gift those first two months.  

The first three weeks I had someone with me 24/7, and I was very thankful.  I was fortunate that my mom, mother-in-law, and older sister were each able to spend a week with me and the girls.  Sometimes it can be hard when family members step in to help.  Having a clear plan of what you would like your helpers to do will save you time and hurt feelings.  For me, it was cooking, cleaning (laundry, dishes, etc..), and spending time with the girls in between feedings while I attempted to snooze.  

My mom, sister-in-law, and mother-in-law were able to come by 1 or 2 days a week for the first few months. Having the extra help was essential to my well being! Really I don't know how I would have eaten let alone showered without them.

We also had a housekeeping service come clean bi-weekly. What a blessing! One less thing to worry about. 

If you don't have family or friends able to help out, or even if you do, consider hiring a night nurse or doula. I know my hospital offered a program where you could hire certified doulas.  I had a really sweet, patient doula who had experience with multiples come out to help me a few times that first month.  She was great at offering advice that I just didn't think of in my sleep deprived state.  I think she saw me cry twice, but she just offered me a shoulder to lean on. 

I can't stress enough that asking for help will be better than going at this alone.  

2.  Download an App or Have Some Form of Tracking the Twins’ Schedules:  My husband and I downloaded an app on our phones to help us keep track of feeding, diaper changes, sleep times, etc.  We used Baby Connect. It was nice being able to sync with other phones and devices, so that all involved knew the girls' schedules.   Sleep deprivation makes remembering which baby did what impossible. 

Our girls are identical.  I used to paint one of G's big toes red so that I could tell them apart those first few weeks.  I was so worried that in my sleep deprived fog I would mix them up. 

3.  Consider a Schedule For the Twins Right Away: I read a lot of baby books while on bed rest, The Happiest Baby on the BlockSecrets of a Baby Whisperer, Babywise, and Dr. Weissbluth's Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child to name a few.  All the books differed slightly in method, but they had one thing in common, whether child or parent led-develop routines

For my own sanity, I found that I had to get my girls on the same schedule.  For the first six weeks or so, I let my girls lead.  If one woke hungry, then I would also wake and feed the other one.  Although they may not have both been crying for food at the same time the domineering one always won out.  Sometimes I would need to change diapers to wake up a sleepyhead. But if one ate, both ate. If one had a diaper change, both had diaper changes.

I also put the girls down to sleep at the same time. In the early stages the girls would almost always fall asleep while nursing. If not, I would rock and soothe the non-sleeper(s) to sleep.  But once, they began to sort out their nights and days, I followed Dr. Weissbluth's advice and would gently rock them after about 90 minutes or so of awake time until they were drowsy.   I would then lay the girls down drowsy, but awake.  

4. Chose A Pediatrician Who Supports You:  I wish I had interviewed a few pediatricians in person before giving birth.  I think I would have saved myself some trouble.  I asked around for recommendations, but I never managed to schedule an interview.  
The girls had so much trouble gaining weight those first few weeks.  I had to bring them in to the doctor’s office for daily weigh-ins.  I was constantly feeding them; which meant even less sleep.  The girls’ weight loss also required me to use a J shaped tube syringe that I would hold in their mouths while nursing. The syringe contained a bit of formula.  The pediatrician wanted to get as many calories as we could into my tiny babies. After two weeks at home, the girls stopped losing weight, but were not back up to their birth weights.  Their pediatrician wanted me to stop nursing and switch to formula only.  I was devastated!  Luckily, my sister, who is also a nurse, encouraged me to do what I thought was best.  I decided to continue nursing and supplementing as necessary.  I would never do anything to harm my girls, but I wasn't ready to quit.  She also helped me to realize that the opinion of one doctor wasn't necessary the end all be all.  So with her encouragement, I switched to a differnt pediatrician in the same practice.  He was so supportive of me nursing the girls.  He is a fabulous doctor and I am so glad I made the switch. 

5.  Sleep When You Can!  Everything Else Will Get Done Eventually!:  Seems obvious, right?  Letting go of my cleaning routines were difficult for me.  But no one was expecting me to have a perfect house (or to be showered for that matter).  Our bodies are pretty amazing and there are some serious hormones pumping through us when we become new parents. But, we aren't robots.  Our brains need sleep to function.  

Check back soon for more tips including what to buy in double before the babies arrive.

It will get easier!!!

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Places to Visit: Child Playtime and Swellness Center

Monday, April 7, 2014

Today was a wet and rainy Monday!  Luckily, we had scheduled a play date with some moms from my multiples club at the Child Playtime and Swellness Center in Columbia, MD.

This was our first visit to the center and it ended up being a perfect place for my two year old twins to play!

I wasn't sure what to expect since there weren't any pictures on the company's website. But when I first walked in the center, I felt like I had entered the well decorated, giant playroom of an awesome grandmother.  

The way the center is set-up is inviting and friendly. Once past the reception area there is one large playroom that offered activities like a play kitchen, grocery store, reading area, puzzles, easels, tunnels,  and even a little puppet theater.  There were also little rooms that stemmed off the big play area. My girls favorite was the music room.  They loved the baby sized grand pianos.  But, there was also a transportation room with little cars to ride around, a construction room, an art area, and an infant/crawlers room.

This place would be perfect for those who are crawling to preschool age kids.

There were so many toys to choose from and many toys had multiple copies. So great when you have twins that want to play the same thing at the same time!  You could really return to the center over and over again and play something completely different each time.

The place is very clean and you can tell the owner takes care of the toys.  They were in excellent shape! The restroom was also very clean.

Parking is free and plentiful.  The cost of admission was $18 for my two girls, adults are free.  It's a bit pricey, but it seems to be the going rate for this type of activity center in the Baltimore Metro area.

The owner has plenty of hooks to hang coats and places to store shoes.  Since we are a no shoes house, I really appreciate the "socks only" rule.  The floor just seems so much cleaner to me.

If you are looking for a fun, educational, and safe place to play.  I would definitely recommend this play center. Click here to visit the company's website.

If you have any suggestions of places to take young kids in the Baltimore area, I would love to hear them! I'm always looking for ideas.

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5 Easy to Make Games Using Plastic Easter Eggs for Toddlers and Preschoolers W/Free Printables

Thursday, April 3, 2014

With the Easter season upon us, and those little plastic Easter Eggs being sold in every store, I thought now would be a good time to share some of my favorite learning games that used plastic eggs.

1.  Hidden Numbers: 
To prepare for this activity,  I created spring pictures on picmonkey (click on picture below).
I cut out the ten slips of paper and  hid them inside a plastic egg.
Using an empty egg carton, I wrote the numbers 1-10 with a permanent marker, one in each egg slot.
When the girls opened the egg they counted the number of objects they saw and placed it into the corresponding numeral spot in the egg carton.  This game is a fun one to do together with young kids (my girls needed a lot of help with this one), but great for preschoolers/kindergartners.

2.  The Number Match Egg Hunt:

This is a game to reinforce numeral identification.  Using a permanent marker I printed the numbers 1-12 onto the bottom of 12 plastic eggs. I did the same to each slot in an egg carton.  I hid the eggs around the living room and had the girls find the eggs.  Once found, they placed each egg in its matching slot. ie.. the egg with the number 2 printed on it, went into the number 2 spot.

3.  Hidden Shapes:
For this activity I printed out two copies of the Crayola Basic Shapes 1 printable.  It's free on the Crayola website.
I colored in the shapes on one copy and cut them out.  I hid each shape in a plastic egg.  I had the eggs waiting in a special basket. The girls cracked open the eggs and placed the color shape on top of it's match on the second copy of the printable.   I think this game was Juliette's favorite.

4. Hidden Colors:

For this activity, I collected 12 different pom poms that I had leftover from various projects.  I then painted the inside of each egg slot in an old egg carton using paint colors that matched my dozen poms.  I placed one pom in a plastic egg and then hid the twelve eggs around the house.  The girls found the eggs, cracked them open and placed the pom in the matching painted egg slot. This game was probably Genevieve's favorite.

5.  Hidden Letters:

I hid alphabet letters inside the eggs.  I used plastic ones from our Leapfrog toy.  Having the girls crack open the eggs and id the letters was enough fun for us! However, for an added challenge, use only uppercase letters. Print the lowercase alphabet I created on picmonkey (see below). As you crack open the eggs, place the uppercase letter on the corresponding lowercase letter.

Happy Easter! 

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Temper Tantrums X 2: 6 Tips and Tricks For Ending Them Quick or Avoiding Them Altogether

Monday, March 31, 2014

Sometimes I wonder if my girls have crafted a plan to throw raging temper tantrums at the exact same time. I know you are identical, but really... identical tantrums?

Watching my children scream, kick, yell, and melt down isn't much fun, and we've had some real doozies in the past.

Yes, I was that mom that had to slide her screaming, laying on the floor twins out of the doorway when storytime ended at the library, and they weren't ready to leave.

Yes, I was the mom who continued to stand in line at Target with the screeching and crying twins trying to unbuckle themselves and jump out of the cart because I refused to return later that night to re-shop.

Yes, I was that mom who watched her twins kick and scream while scooting their little bodies around in circles at My Gym because they had to take turns on the trampoline.

And, yes, I was that mom that joined in with the crying one cold, snowy day when I literally couldn't take it anymore!

With my patience wearing thin, I knew I had to do something to help my two-year-olds work through their drama.

So, what did I do?

I read books, articles, and blog posts.  I picked up some great tips and tricks that I've made my own and have helped nip those awful temper tantrums in the bud.

My Top 6 Tips For Squashing Temper Tantrums or Avoiding Them Altogether

1.  As soon as I see a tantrum coming on, I squat down eye level with my little one and use Dr. Harvey Karp's (They guy who wrote The Happiest Baby and Toddler on The Block books) advice of Fast Food Rule and Toddlerese.  It's simple and really effective.

  • Fast Food Rule- repeat what your child is saying or trying to say for a few time until she quiets down
  • Toddlerese- do this using short, simple words and phrases in a slightly dramatic tone to mirror a fraction of your child's tone

Example: G begins crying because I won't give her another cookie.  I squat down to her level and point to the pantry in a slightly upset tone of voice saying, "Cookie! Cookie! G wants cookie!"
This stops all crying about 95% of the time.  No lie!  Dr. Karp says it's because your toddler thinks, "Hey, mama gets me.  She understands me."  I wonder if they are just staring at me thinking I'm crazy. But, if it works, I don't care the reason.
Once she stops crying I will say something like, "Mama says no cookie, it's almost dinner time. Then I try to give her options of something I want her to eat or distract her with something we can play together like  "Look at this, I see Minnie Mouse on this coloring book.  Do you want to use the blue crayon or the pink crayon to color her? Ok. Mama will use the blue crayon."  Sometimes, this means giving up five minutes from whatever I was doing to play, but I'll take that over 5 minutes of screaming any day.
Sometimes she will start crying again, so I go back to the first step of repeating until she has quieted down again.

Sometimes I feel silly when I'm out in public talking in toddlerese, but I'm so happy with the result that I don't care what a passersby might think of me!

2.  The Magical Hand Stamp: I have a non-toxic washable inkpad and stamp on every floor in my house.  My girls love being rewarded with a hand stamp.  Even more so when I let them choose which stamp they would like on their hand.
When I catch the girls behaving kindly or cleaning up I give them a hand stamp.  When I first introduced the hand stamp, I stamped their hand for the littlest things, sharing a toy, putting away a block, getting their shoes on without a fit, etc... Now, when I've asked for something to be done, and I see that little toddler angst rearing its ugly head,  I pull out the stamps and say, "Wow, wouldn't it be great to get a stamp for ...?"  Most of the time that kicks my little ones into high gear and mama's wish is granted.  That's why I call it the Magical Hand Stamp.  Plus, the girls love to share the stamps they've earned with Daddy when he gets home for work.
*the tricky part with stamps and twins is I never want to compare by saying "J did this, why can't you, G?"  That's why I've been against using sticker charts.  We don't need reminders posted on the wall of how someone else is better than us.  Luckily, the hands are a bit more subtle and they wash off, so we can always start anew.

3.  The Power of Choice:  My toddlers don't like to be told what to do all the time.  It's that whole developing a sense of autonomy.  One of my favorite child development experts, Erik Erikson's has a theory of child development that teaches us that toddlers need to develop autonomy to overcome shame and doubt.  As a teacher, I was always providing choices to my students. As a mom, I find myself doing the same.  I can avoid many temper tantrums by simply providing my girls with choices.  The key is to offer only 2 choices at a time, and to make the choices what I want to be done.
Example:  J doesn't want a diaper change.  Instead of fighting her and trying to diaper a crying, thrashing two year old, I let her chose which diaper she would like to wear.  The one with baby Elmo or baby Cookie Monster on it.  If I don't have different diapers, then I might offer a choice of where she wants her diaper changed or if she wants me or daddy to change her diaper.  The key is don't ask open ended questions here.  If you ask, "Where do you want me to change your diaper?"  She will say, "No!"  But, if I give her the choice, "Do you want Mama or Papa to change your diaper".  Then, she will have to pick one. Giving them just a little power and control in their day makes a world of difference.

4.  Be Prepared: I love being a stay at home mom.  But, running errands with twins often makes me think about returning to the workforce.  I don't have a sitter to leave the girls with every time I need too run an errand.  They need to learn how to occupy themselves when they would rather be doing something other than shopping.  How do they learn?  I keep an arsenal of fun things to do in my bag at all times that I change up on a pretty regular basis.  I keep a bookbag in the car filled with easy to grab activities so that I can pick and choose what to bring in with us.  For example, v-tech tablets are fine for the noisy grocery store, not ok at the quiet bakery.  I decided to empty out my bag and take a picture of what I had in there today.

v-tech tablets, fancy pens, baby food container entertainers (see below), sesame street guys, Melissa and Doug re-stickable puffy stickers dress-up scenes, a funny duck and cow from the dentist, fisher price magic writer,  books, crayons, stickers, and coloring books from the target dollar section
I use leftover baby food containers and fill them with little things like stickers, pom poms, wiggle eyes, play dough balls, etc... to pull out for those boring errands
As their attention span grows, they are content playing with one toy for a longer amount of time.  That means I only have to carry around 2 or 3 different toys per child (the power of choice).  My girls are in a I want what she has stage, so it's easier for me to be prepared.

Also, I pack snacks!!  When we are out shopping, my girls seem to get a serious case of the munchies.  I buy portable snacks that I can throw in my purse and pull out as needed (see photo below for some all-time favorites.)
The purple munchkin snack container(top right) is great for holding animal crackers, berries, or leftover breakfast items

5.  Give A Heads Up: I found that by giving my girls a warning prior to leaving a fun activity or having to clean up has helped stop many tantrums. Even though the concept of time is still developing, the girls get that when I say, "10 minutes until we put on our shoes to go home", means we will be leaving soon so I better get my last few minutes of playtime in.  I also try to give a 5 minute and a 2 minute warning. A lot of times by the 2 minute warning one or both of the girls have stopped playing and are ready to go.

6.  When All Else Fails, and/or It's Just One of Those Days:  I remind myself that we all have bad days, even 2 year olds.  As my dad says, "This too shall pass."
I sit down on the ground and count to 10 out loud so that girls can hear me calming myself down. Sometimes I might do this five or six times. Most of the time, they will crawl up on me, crying,  looking for hugs.  I model as I say, "breath in through your nose and out through your mouth" until we are calm.  Sometimes I will sing a soft song and rock back and forth as we hug.  Once everyone is quiet, I use simple sentences to review the problem, how we can make it better, and how we can act differently next time.  I also make sure to say, "I love you".  I believe its important for your kids to know that you still love them no matter how angry or sad they may have gotten.

I've tried separating them in separate rooms, but the other one will follow me back screaming. Although I've heard some moms of twins do this successfully, giving a cool down time for the one twin.  When my girls are at this point, they want hugs, not alone time.

There have been a few occasions when the screaming and crying has REALLY gotten to me.  I know I need a cool down.  I've put the girls in their bedroom, gone into the bathroom and turned on the fan to serve as white noise. It may only be 30 seconds, but that 30 seconds allows me just enough time to regain my composure and start from the beginning.

Sometimes just reminding myself that I'm not perfect and raising twins isn't easy, helps me get through those really tough days.

I hope these tips help you and your little ones regain some peace!

I'd love to hear any tips you might have for stopping temper tantrums, especially for twins.

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