Archive for April 2014

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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