Twin Adventures

Twin girls now rule the house.

Need Some Pointers?

Unsolicited advice. It’s everywhere. And, to the best of my knowledge, everyone loathes it. New parents seem to take it as a personal hit when someone (a stranger, a friend, a family member) gives out a tip. I’m pretty sure that most of these tips are given with good intentions and the hope that the tip will help in someway. But it’s all too common to come across people who’ll blow up at you if you so much as utter “have you tried…”.

I’ve been a new mom for almost two years (what?! where’s that two years gone?!) now and Anton and I have definitely gotten our fair share of advice. However, I do my best to take it in stride. One doesn’t necessarily need to agree with the advice that they’re given, but you don’t have to crazy at someone who’s trying to help! I figure, with two munchkins running around, I can use all the advice I can get! There is definitely some advice out there that’s either outdated; “Sterilize bottles and nipples after each use,” or just sounds crazy; “Don’t do too much cuddling, it’ll spoil the baby,” but… wouldn’t you rather get some of that and get a great piece of advice, rather than miss that one great tip? It’s all just about taking everything with a grain of salt, but still taking it.

It’s interesting to be a mom now; my brain is full of parenting tidbits. I don’t usually share what I know, or what’s worked for us unless people specifically ask for some help. I know that parents want to figure it out for themselves and assume that if you mention something to them, you’re trying to say that you know better or that they’re doing it wrong. This is almost never the case. It’s just a matter of, “Hey, this worked for us… maybe it’ll work for you!” or, “No one ever told me this and I really wished I would’ve known sooner…”.

My oldest sister is expecting her first baby in May and man, it is hard not to flood her with advice and tips on how to get through the first year! After being a mom for even just two years, you do start to feel like a “veteran” of sorts and it seems like everything that my sister mentions, I have a tip or warning to add. Because of a lot of the backlash that I’ve heard of some advice-givers getting, I find myself biting my tongue a lot of the time; even though what I have to share isn’t calling my sister’s parenting skills into question!

In the end, this post has a couple of points.. First, parents out there (new and experienced) should try and take the unsolicited advice in stride. Majority of the time people aren’t calling your parenting skills into question and they’re not trying to give you a hard time. It’s purely the ideal of, “It takes a village to raise a child” and if it worked for them in the past who’s to say it won’t work for you? My second point is… to Cheryl-Anne, my biggest sister; I love you and Maia so much and any advice given is purely well-intended! ❤

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Animal Sounds

We got a great book for the girls’ first birthday. Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? (Slide and Find). We are pretty sure that this is Maretta and Shula’s favourite book. It features all sorts of animals and Anton and I have gotten into the habit of making the noises of the animals as we pass them in the book. This is what happens whenever you mention specific animals…

*a quick note: Even though they didn’t repeat all the sounds back, they know all the ones that I asked. They just wanted to get back to their bedtime bottle!

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Christmas Cards

This is the second Christmas that the girls have been around for. Although we think they are still too young to start traditions that they understand, we’ve already got a few things that we’ll continue for years and years to come. A Christmas photo shoot followed by Christmas cards are the first thing we take care of once the holiday season rolls around.

Pinterest is my enemy and I find many pictures of cute photo shoots that I’d love to do with the girls. They are only 18 months so still a bit young to follow direction, which means that I usually pass up on these cute shoots and instead just try and work on getting a picture with both of them smiling and in focus. If you’ve read my post Photography, you’ll know just how difficult that can be.

Christmas 2011

Last year (6 months old) we wound up doing a couple of different “winter” themed photo shoots. During our first snow (sometime in November) we plunked them down for their first “snow experience”. The other winter photo shoot we did was of the girls in their Christmas Jammies. We put them in their Bumbos in front of the decorated tree and also in front of a “decor” tree in their bedroom. No one was really co-operative for any of the photo shoots, but we ended up going with one of the photos from their Snow Day.


Winter 2011Christmas 2011

This year the girls are actually aware of their surroundings and I managed to get them sitting still, where I wanted them for a few seconds at a time! Those of you with toddlers know how difficult this is.. those of you without toddlers, you are so lucky. I went with something simple: I didn’t want to try and get too creative and have to deal with subduing any temper tantrums that would most certainly show up. I grabbed one of our white quilted duvets and threw it over our sofa chair. I completely arranged our dining room so I could capture the daylight coming in from the largest window in our apartment (actually the sliding glass door that leads to the balcony). But it was worth it! Both Maretta and Shula were in great moods and seemed to agree with their clothing choices. Although I did spend about half my time chasing at least one child around the house, I did get some pictures and a few of them were even usable!

Christmas 2012 Christmas 2012

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Maretta, enjoying herself immensely!                     Shula, pulling her look-how-cute-I-am face.

Christmas 2012

Christmas 2012

The Chosen Picture.                                                           The Final Result!

 

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Happy Shy December!

Wow. Cannot believe it is December already! Christmas is almost here, 2013 is almost here. It just seems like yesterday we were doing the girls’ first Christmas! Well.. no, it feels like it’s been a year. Although it is December now, it still feels a little early to actually be talking Christmas so I think we’ll pass on that for a couple more weeks. Instead I’m going to touch on shyness.

Maretta and Shula are both pretty vocal; always toddling around the apartment shouting gibberish at one another, squealing when they play crawl-tag and quite responsive when we push them to do or say things. This completely changes whenever another person is added to the mix. They both become quite shy and usually just stare at everything, wide-eyed in some kind of shock. It doesn’t really worry me too much; my younger siblings went through phases of being shy and they both turned out to be fairly social. The girls usually warm up to whoever they’re with or the different environment if you give them some time but, other kids seem to just jump right in! Sometimes though, when I hang out with other moms that have kids the same or younger, I wonder if mine are a bit lacking. My girlfriend M has a son that is almost a year old and whenever we get together he squawks and squeals, while my girls just kinda.. stare at him.

When we went to my sister’s wedding back in October I spent most of the time with one of her other sisters, S. She has a little girl that was just over a year old and she was so social! She was running all around before and during the reception having the greatest time! Shula and Maretta were glued to Anton and I. Mind you, this was an event with about 200 people in attendance so I didn’t expect much from them. Eventually they did loosen up, but I think it was more to do with being over tired than actually being social.

Don’t get me wrong… I have no problem with them being shy, now or for the rest of their life. I just find it interesting that I have yet to see a baby or toddler act the same way as my girls do..

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Long Overdue Update!

I’m just going to do my best and skip over the fact that there hasn’t been a post for /gasp four months. My excuse is.. twins!

The girls are now almost seventeen months, and it’s thrilling. Crawling is a thing of the past; both girls are excellent walkers and I’d be surprised if running wasn’t far away now. The girls still don’ t have much going on in the way of talking. They both make lots of noises and seem to have their own words for things, but English is not a learned skill yet. They do know a lot of words though. They give out appropriate responses to almost everything we say. “Where’s a book?” “Who wants a clean diaper?” “Let’s go for a walk!” “It’s bath time!”

Teething itself seems to be over for the time being. Both girls have got all eight front teeth, and four molars (an upper and a lower on each side). I have no doubt that their canines are just around the corner though! Cutting molars was quite the event although Maretta seemed to do a bit better than Shula did! Molars. Are. Awesome. It seemed like only after a few days of having molars the girls were chomping through everything! We went from chopping everything they ate to giving them good solid chunks of food. And gagging/choking on food doesn’t seem to be an issue anymore.

On the food front the girls are really just getting whatever Anton and I are eating. We’ve done most the “alert” foods: peanut butter, shellfish, chocolate. The only thing we haven’t really done yet is honey. I’m not too worried, but definitely going to wait until the suggested two-year mark before we do that. I don’t know if we even have honey anywhere in the house! Anton and I don’t have any food allergies/concerns of our own, so I wasn’t too worried about giving the girls anything, although we did stay on alert! We are still doing the majority of the silverware holding. Since it’s what we’ve done from day one I think it’s shown the girls that mealtimes aren’t for playing. Hopefully that translates well when they do start holding their own forks and spoons.

Now that we’ve got ourselves into a nice routine at work and home I’ll be getting back to blogging once a week or so. I’ve definitely got some stuff to say… it’s amazing how much you learn in such a short period when you’ve got twins running around!

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Smart Little Monkeys

Maretta and Shula show definite signs of being intelligent. One of our biggest indicators of how smart they are is how they grasp our language. Both of them seem to be lacking a little bit in the speaking category. They both vocalize and babble, for sure. They are pretty good at stringing together different sounds and it does seem that they use some of the same sounds for certain things. So, it’s coming. But, they both recognize and know a whole bunch of words.

  • Shake. One of the first words that they understood. When holding something in their hands, if you say shake they’ll shake it up and down. Most fun when whatever they’re holding makes noise.
  • Clap. Another of the firsts. It took them a little while after learning this word to have the proper co-ordination to be able to hit their palms perfectly together.
  • Hungry. We still use this one a lot, even though they’ve known it for a few months. They’ll come crawling/walking from across the house if you ask “Who’s Hungry?!”
  • Splash. This is a more recent word. Before we moved, our tub was a little awkward to use for bathing babies, so we were primarily using our sink. But, now that we’ve moved, the bath tub is closer to the girls’ room. So, we bathe them at the same time and they have a ton more room to play around! Which has raised the question “Can you Splash?”. And yes, they both can.
  • Walk. I’m pretty sure that both the girls have known this one for a while. Another instance where you just have to say the word and they both come over to the where the stroller is parked. The only difference now is that they do their best to climb into the stroller themselves. (Still not quite big enough yet!)
  • Jimmie. Jimmie is our little Miniature Pinscher.  They point and laugh or chase after him whenever we say his name. Maretta is suuuuuper close to saying it. She makes the “J” sound, and if we were feeling generous we would claim that she says “Yim”.
  • Wave. They don’t usually perform when we want them to, but they know Wave, and will usually do a one- or two-handed enthusiastic wave when no one is looking.
  • Bye-Bye. This also produces an enthusiastic wave. And again, Maretta is close to saying this one as well. She’ll accompany her wave with “Bi-Bi”. Same with Jim; if we were in a generous or bragging mood we might give it to her.
  • Kiss(es). Both girls are doing open-mouth kisses. If you ask nicely for them! They’ll even give each other a kiss, although it doesn’t seem to have an end because they both just sit there with their mouths open. And although Anton and I aren’t too happy about, the dog seems to get more kisses than anyone else.
  • Names. They are both learning each others names. They’ve both gotten into the habit of pointing at their sister whenever her name is mentioned. Very cute.
  • Nose. We just found out that they know this one yesterday! We were in the bath and I said “I got your nose!” and Maretta pointed to her nose! And both girls point to Mommy and Daddy’s nose as well as their own.

Without wanting to go on about it, they also know some less exciting things; bottle, soother, remote. I’m sure there are some other everyday objects as well. It’s hard to know when to give them credit for something. They don’t usually ask for things so it’s hard to know exactly what they understand. The bottom line being that they’re getting smart. It’s really amazing to realize that they understand what you’re saying and that you can understand what they are trying to say or point out. Especially when one thinks back to some the earlier months when the thought that crossed your mind every hour was “What do you want?! Tell me what you want?!”

I’m sure I’ll be cursing myself later for saying this but… It’s so nice having Toddlers instead of Babies!

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Keeping Things Fair and Equal

Before I start today’s post, I’d just like apologize; it’s been almost a month since I’ve written a blog post! We sold our old business, moved two hours away, and bought a new business. It’s been a little crazy around here, especially with getting all of our safety measures at work up to code. And of course, unpacking and trying to make our new apartment feel like home. Now that we are settling back into a routine again, I’ll try and make my posts at least weekly!

 

After a couple of months of having twins, Anton and I always found ourselves wondering if we favoured one baby over the other. It felt like I always gravitated towards Shula and Anton towards Maretta. Perhaps we felt a closer connection because Maretta looks a fair bit like Anton, and Shula looks like me. We wanted both our girls to grow up with similar experiences and the same amount of love, attention, and face time from both parents. With this in mind we came up with, what we think is, a creative solution to make sure that neither girl was getting favoured over the other.

Our solution was to have “days”. Maretta Day and Shula Day. We alternate who’s day it is so that things are always even. On their Day, the “It” girl gets to be the favourite. Today, for instance, is Shula Day. She’ll get to wear clothes that are more girly colours (pinks, purples, reds) and her bottles and eating utensils for the day will be pink or purple. We keep this in mind whenever there is a colour choice to make throughout the day. The colour of soother that they get, stuffed animal colours, diaper cover colours, and… I think you get the picture. And, Maretta gets to have more boyish colours. Clothes will be blues, greens, yellows; as well as bowls, bottles, and cutlery. Just with the girly colours, the boyish colours will follow the same pattern throughout the day whenever there is a choice.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shula Day! Pink diaper cover, pink chair,                  Maretta Day! Pink outfit, and front seat  pink soother!                                                                                          of the stroller!

Whenever there is a choice, the It girl gets to go first. This particular part comes in to play a lot if there is only one parent home. Today I am at home by myself while Anton is at work, so Shula will be taken out of her crib first, and get to be changed first. During the day she’ll get a bottle first; as well as being given the first spoonful of food. When there are two of us at home, the It girl always gets Mommy. Today, once Anton is home from work, I’ll change and feed Shula and Anton will change and feed Maretta. It turns into a Shula and Mommy Day as well as a Maretta and Daddy Day.

The It girl gets all the best seating; she gets to sit in the front of the stroller and while in the car she gets to sit behind mommy (not sure why we came up with that one? I’m assuming they both see pretty much the same thing no matter if they’re sitting on the right or left side of the car). Whenever there is a choice of being in the front, or being in a spot with a “better” view, the It girl will get it!

Maretta Day! Shula waiting patiently for her turn…

I asked the other twin parents that I know if anyone else has a system or something like this and no one does. I think a lot of people, including moms of multiples, would be say that we’re overthinking it and being overly analytical with the whole thing. We could be, but Anton and I like to think that by doing things this way we are setting both of our little girls up to be equals. Neither one of us will show favouritism or be easier or tougher on either one. We want to make sure that both of them have the same amount of confidence and humility. We also think that by switching back and forth Shula and Maretta are both learning about sharing and taking turns. After doing the same things for a year, they both seem to understand that they’ll get taken care of, even if it isn’t right away. They may fuss every once in a while if they have to wait, but they know how things work.

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Photography

I’ve found myself slowly turning into my mother… When I was a teenager, it was such an annoyance that my mom always had her camera out and was constantly taking photos. It seemed as though everyone and everything in our world was meant to be photographed. And not only that, but for every one picture that was taken, ten more of the same thing were taken as well. Did she really need to have twenty pictures from the same minute? Apparently she did. And now, so do I.

Everyday Anton and I take at least thirty to fifty pictures. Not that we’ve come across thirty or fifty picture-perfect moments, because we’ve really only pulled out our cameras two or three times throughout the day; we just wind up taking so many at one time. Trying to catch both girls smiling, or catch them looking at you in a certain way. Hoping to snap a shot where the girls are obviously playing with each or are cuddling the dog in just the right position. It’s hard! And, there’s two of them! So, you’re not just trying to get one baby smiling or laughing, but BOTH of them smiling or laughing. And looking in the right direction. And not drooling. Or making an is-your-baby-retarded face.

One baby looking…                … the other baby looking…                      … no baby looking!

Although, if we didn’t take as many pictures as we do, I’m sure that we would have missed out on some unforgettable faces. If we had to work a little harder for them, or keep clicking just in case, that just adds to how great the picture is. In this day and age, it isn’t as though we don’t have several options for keeping and storing thousands of pictures anyway. We’re fond of Picasa Web Albums (part of Google+). Since we run on Android, it’s compatible with our phones so things are uploaded as soon as they are taken and it’s easy to get them from device to device. We do pay Google for the extra storage, but it’s really worth it.

                Distracted…                        … no smiles…                                … and they’re gone. 

It only recently hit me exactly how many pictures we take, because we’ve been cleaning out our online albums and there is so much to sift through! Mostly starting from June of last year (when the girls were born). Each month has between one hundred and four hundred photos. Seriously. Four Hundred. Who needs that many pictures?! So, we’re going through and getting rid of duplicates or almost duplicates, blurry pictures, pictures that have cut someone out, or where a thumb has made it’s way in from the side (who doesn’t have a few of those, right?).

Shula trying to get down…             …Maretta trying to get down…             …and, dancing. 
Sometimes it feels like we’re getting a little crazy and going a little overboard with all the pictures we have, but won’t it be great to have such an extensive photo library to go through in years to come? I love going through my mom’s albums and seeing all of us kids growing up, but I don’t think she was as much of a photo-nut back then, and there are a lot of gaps in the timeline. Looking back through our albums, we’ve managed to take at least one picture every single day for the past year. I’m sure somewhere down the road we’ll pick some favourites and put together an album that you can hold, but until then what’s better than viewing them on a full size tv screen? Uh.. nothing.
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Birthday #1!

Our first birthday party went pretty well! The girls managed to break out of their stranger anxiety shells pretty quickly and were the life of the party. Lots of family made the small trek to come out and be here and those that couldn’t, phoned or texted to send their birthday wishes. The apartment complex we live in has a communal building and I was given the go-ahead to use it for the day. The communal building had everything we needed; lots of space for small children to run around, a kitchenette, and a bathroom. So we didn’t need to worry about making sure our apartment was fit for entertaining (which was awesome, because our house is full of half-empty boxes).

Our birthday theme was Monkeys, with green, pink, and yellow as our colours. We didn’t do anything too extravagant or exciting, but I think what we did do was pretty good. As far as decorations go, I tried to keep it minimal and just went with a few bunches of balloons and some streamers. I put up a photo timeline, one for each girl. Let me tell you.. picking out only twelve pictures for each baby is not very easy! There are so many good ones to choose from!

Food was simple; mostly just frozen appetizers. Sausage rolls, meatballs, mini pizzas, and chicken fries. As well as a fruit tray and a veggie tray. Simple drinks as well; Sprite, Coke, coffee and tea, as well as juice boxes. I had planned on making up some punch concoction and a trail mix bowl but.. turns out there was enough to do!


I had a girlfriend of mine make a cake for the guests, which unfortunately, I didn’t actually get to have a bite of! I heard it was good though. I also made a couple of smash cakes for the girls. Those didn’t turn out anything like I thought they would. I had my suspicions that they wouldn’t eat much of them; as we haven’t introduced them to anything sweeter than applesauce. But, they barely even interacted with them! Shula seemed more interested in the Curious George that was ontop of the cake than the actually cake itself, and Maretta just kept giving the cake the evil-eye, like it was out to get her! These girls that always want to put their hands on and in everything had little interest in making a mess. I suppose that’s a good thing but… I was hoping for some great, messy photos!

Shula enjoying her Curious George.

Maretta glaring at her cake.

In the week or so leading up to Saturday (the party day), I was kinda nervous. I’m not anti-social and I can hold my own in a crowd, but my girls usually clam up pretty good when put into a social situation, even when it’s only a couple of people. So, I wasn’t sure how it was going to go with 25-30 people! The crowd consisted of mostly adults, there were a few tweens, and one toddler (not counting mine), Evony. I’m certain that having Evony there is what helped Shula and Maretta get out of their shell. Evony came right over to the girls and started playing with the rubber balls I had brought down. Maretta and Shula jumped on the chance to play with someone new. (/whew!)

Meemaw’s present. Note the Birth length of each girl.

We were pretty lucky as far as presents go. Without trying to be party poopers or anything, Anton and I had let everyone know that simplistic was better for us. We don’t need a lot of anything, especially a lot of toys. We have a few things that the girls seem to enjoy and we didn’t want our house to suddenly be overloaded with a lot of stuff. We mostly got clothes, which one can never get enough, especially while the girls are growing so much! And they were all in a variety of sizes so that we’ll have some for the next while. A special mention of the present Meemaw (my mom) got; she slaved over a handmade gift for the girls. She made a growth chart for them! It was something that I’d thought about buying a few times, but couldn’t justify getting new stuff, especially right before the move. The girls birthday present from Anton and I was along the same lines; nice and simple. We got them each a pair of “second year” overalls. We got their names and year embroidered on them and bought them in a size too big so they should last all year. I think it’s the first “tradition” that we’ve started. A new pair of overalls every year for their birthday.

In the end, everything turned out really well. I’ll put in a special shout out here to Mom and Dad Strong. If you hadn’t have come up and watched the girls for us, I wouldn’t have been able to put the party together. Also… for getting everyone out at two so we could continue with our schedule. 🙂

Ahh! They’re Toddlers now!

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Emotional Over Turning One

The girls first birthday is just around the corner; 6 days!

I’ve come across something peculiar about parents that have children turning one… They are quite emotional! Most of these parents have reported shedding some tears in the days or weeks leading up to Jr.’s birthday. Always with thoughts of “The time is passing too quickly!”, or “I don’t want them to grow up so fast!”. It seems like an odd reaction to something that is inevitable, and something that shouldn’t be a surprise. I’m pretty sure I’ve also heard of this while coming across other milestones such as crawling, or standing. While met with proud excitement and encouragement, a lot of parents seem unwilling to accept that their little baby is slowly growing up.

Although it seems that I’m in the minority on this one, I can’t wait for them to turn one! There are so many exciting things to come in the next couple of years. It seems to be not the most common way of thinking, but I really see each time frame as a stage. And you’re supposed to move through and past different stages right? The “baby” stage is coming to an end, and we’re moving on to the “toddler” stage. I may be looking at it from the wrong angle, but I just think of all the things we hopefully won’t be dealing with anymore; middle of the night feedings, the constant spit-up, crying that doesn’t have a cure. And, we get to look forward to all the things that can only happen when babies grow up! Walking, talking, social interactions, self-sufficiency. They’ll be more like little people and less like helpless puppies.

 

I don’t feel any less like a parent, or less connected to the girls because I am not emotional, but I wonder if something in my brain hasn’t “clicked” or if I’m missing a deeper meaning to this change. I’m not an emotional person to begin with and I’ve always thought I would be less of a cuddly parent than most. But I must admit I was a little shocked when I heard of how hard this was for some parents to deal with or accept. They aren’t neccesarily wrong in how they are reacting, but it’s something that I can’t seem to really wrap my head around.

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