Twin Adventures

Twin girls now rule the house.

Happy 2nd Birthday!

Happy 2nd Birthday to my little girls. It’s amazing how fast time goes, even though I spend a good portion of my time rolling my eyes at people who say that to me. One of the best parts about having children is getting to throw a party every year (I’m sure my attitude will change on this subject as they get older).

This year, we went with a “The Last  Year” theme with a bit of “Farm” thrown in. The girls adore animals (although Planes and Helicopters are in their top three favourites) and I had the cutest idea for a cake; so I ran with it as a theme.

The cakes were made by the girls Aunt Geralyn, who does cake decorating as a hobby. She is damn good at it. Blasts my ideas right out of the park.

 

Farm Twin Birthday Cake

The cake on the right was Chocolate and the one on the left was Red Velvet. All the animals were made out of gum paste, so we’ll be able to keep them pretty much forever. The barn was made out of rice-treats. And they’re both covered in fondant. Thank you so much Aunt Geralyn! These cakes really brought everything together!

We also had a Photo “Timeline” for the second year running.

Birthday Time-Line

I “spiced” things up a bit from last year; adding in some ribbons and more fancy numbers. We did our best to pick out photos that showed off new skills (check out “kicking” and “building” for month 24) or holidays (February was 20 months). I’m not sure if we’ll be able to continue with age by months for next year though (30 months, really?).

Farm Birthday Favors

Our (children-only) party favours were bath-toy Farm Animals and stickers. I purchased them from a local kids’ boutique and used “take-out” style favour boxes (from Micheal’s) to put them in.

Last year for the girls’ 1st Birthday, my mom made a measuring board to mark down heights. We decided to mark down the girls’ heights every year for their birthdays.

Height Measuring Board

 

Birth height was a star each (cause, Stars were born!), 1st Birthday had monkeys (due to the Monkey theme), and this year we tied it in with the Farm theme with a Sheep and a Pig (they also got the matching bath toys). While we do use the board frequently to measure how much they’ve grown, Anton and I both like the idea of just marking down each year on the board.

Cake “Smash”. No interest in last year’s cake, and they manage to be the tidiest little eaters for this year!

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What a great day! The party went off with great success, and it was great to get family and friends rounded up for a nice afternoon. Can’t wait until next years’ party!!

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Toddlers are Hard. x2

Just a short post today; our household is a bit exhausted lately.

Both Maretta and Shula are on the cusp of being able to really communicate, but they aren’t quite there yet. And it’s really frustrating. Not only for them but for Anton and I as well. They get frustrated because they don’t know or can’t say what they want. We get frustrated because we WANT to get them what the need but it’s so hard to guess sometimes.

It can be interesting to watch the frustration though; they each have a different way of dealing with this frustration. Maretta gets angry. She kicks and screams. If you were to look up “tantrum” in the dictionary, you’d see a picture of Maretta. Shula just gets really upset. Her face screws up into the most heartbreaking thing you have ever seen. She runs to the nearest corner or doorjam and turns her back towards the room. Both reactions are equally hard to watch and you feel nothing but sympathy because they’re only acting out due to a lack of communication.

Toddlers are Hard

Toddlers are Hard

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I am really looking forward to their language improving!

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Winterfest: The Beginning

During the past month my brain has been turning with Christmas and the holidays (which would make sense). Something that seems to constantly come up is holiday traditions. What old traditions to keep? What new ones to make our own? Maretta and Shula aren’t really old enough to understand Christmas, they’re just excited to have new things. Anton and I figure that next year (they’ll be about two and a half) we’ll be able to explain some of the things that happen during December. Which means that we have lots of time to decide what we want December and the holidays to mean for our family.

One of our own traditions that we’d like to start is calling the month of December “Winterfest”. We’re not Christian so we don’t celebrate Christmas for the typical reason; we celebrate it for the whimsy of Santa and the excuse to decorate and spend time with family. We’d love to incorporate the other holidays that are celebrated during the winter season as well; Winter Solstice, Kwanzaa, Hanukkah. Just to name a few examples. Anton and I both love the idea of having the girls know about how religions and cultures each have something special to celebrate. Limiting ourselves to celebrating Christmas feels like limiting the knowledge that’s all around us this time of year.

Four Christmas Gifts

Being fairly simple people, I also like the idea of just four gifts. I hate the idea of filling the house with new stuff just for the sake of holidays. While it’s usually quite pretty, I can’t help but shake my head whenever I see a picture of someones’ Christmas Tree and the gifts that take up the entire living room floor! As a child I remember our tree/living room looked like that, but there were seven of us!

We’ll definitely have some of the traditions that I had when I was growing up. My most memorable tradition has always been New Pyjamas. Christmas Eve we all got to open one present and it was always a new pair of Pjs. I think at the time we may have been a bit disappointed, but looking back now it was such a great way to start the night, and we were all ready for pictures during the next mornings festivities! So far we’ve stuck to this one (two years and counting; yay!)…

Winterfest 2011

New PJs 2011

Winterfest 2012

New PJs 2012

 

 

 

 

 

 

     

                                                                      Another tradition that I’d like to continue is driving around to see all the decorated houses! This is something the girls were able to enjoy this year, and fortunately the weekly drive to Grandma and Grandpa’s house is full of beautifully lit houses. One hopes that next year they’ll be a little bigger and we won’t have to worry so much about whether they can see out of the car or not. We did catch their eyes following the lights as we passed so we’ll just move on with the assumption that they got to enjoy the lights!

And of course we’ll continue to do a yearly Winterfest Photo Shoot! I know our family and friends love to see the girls in the yearly Christmas Cards and I don’t plan on stopping that tradition!

We’re starting small but as 2013 continues on I’ll keep updating my Pinterest board with anything that spikes my interest and as the girls’ ages progress, we’ll add on what seems appropriate!

Happy Winterfest 2012!

 

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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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Road Tripping with 16-Month-Old Twins

At the end of October, my biggest sister got married. I’m guessing mostly due to the cuteness of toddlers in formal wear, the four of us were asked to attend. There are few people that I would go out of my way to please and my sister (Cheryl) is one of them, so we RSVP’d and started planning our first road trip with the girls! And not only was it a road trip, but it was a 16-hour drive road trip down to San Jose, California. Anton and I are planners; whenever we’ve done a road trip in the past (we’ve done two or three down to San Jose) it’s been planned out almost to the hour. This trip was no different. If anything, it was an indicator that both of us have a strong type-A personality inside, fighting to get out.

Our first decision was: Plane or Car. I think most people would opt for the plane ride. It’s faster right? Less travel time, more relax time. This is not what I thought at all when I started going over the pros and cons. First off, the airplane is ridiculously expensive! If we were going to fly, we were all going to have our own seats. The airlines that I looked at do not offer a discounted price for children (even those under the age of two) if you are getting seats for them. Most do offer an “on lap” policy: you only purchase seats for the adults and the children spend the flight on your lap (I’m skeptical about trying to keep a toddler on my lap for two hours). Secondly, we’d have to manoeuvre around two different airports while towing two toddlers, their car seats, their luggage, and our luggage. In addition, we would have to rent a car once we got down there (again, expensive and I was terrified of the extra charges we’d get if the girls happened to get car sick!).

So we decided on our trusty Toyota Rav4 to bring us down and back again. We figured the girls would be a little more comfortable in an environ-ment that they were in on a daily basis and if there were any meltdowns to be had… they were private meltdowns that only annoyed Mommy and Daddy! Being in the car also allowed us to stow away treats and toys into organized bins that were just an arms reach away. And we also had access to the things that we already had stowed in the car on a regular basis (Hello towels and spare roll of toilet paper!). On the money side of things we found (with the help of our researching and our Excel spreadsheets) it was more cost effective to fill up the car three or four times then to buy plane tickets and rent a car.

Now that one of the biggest decisions was out of the way, scheduling was next up. Maretta and Shula run on a good, firm schedule. We’re flexible of course, but for the most part the girls wake up, eat, and take their naps at the same times every day. We wanted to maintain that schedule even though we’d be in the car for a total of sixteen hours and staying a different hotel almost every night. We managed to do just that. We made sure to schedule our stops for roughly every two hours, at cities/towns that would have the right kind of amenities for us (read: food and a good place for the girls to stretch their legs). Some breaks were half hour stops that included having something to eat, and other breaks were just 10 or 15 minutes for the girls to run around. The PlayPlaces at McDonalds were an excellent pit stop. Nice and contained, it allowed the girls to run around without Mommy and Daddy having to follow right behind them.

Every night we stopped between 5pm-7pm and did the Bedtime Routine just like we would anywhere else. Walk-Bath-Bottle-Story. The biggest difference for them, I think, was sleeping together. The girls each sleep in their own crib and have since they were about a month and a half old. They are both movers and seem to enjoy having their own space. To keep things as home-like as possible, we had decided to bring two play yards, but the car was full enough with just one so we decided to leave the borrowed play yard at home. This didn’t turn out to be a problem. Although it took them a little longer to get to sleep, Maretta and Shula did an excellent job sleeping together. I was really surprised; this was probably the one thing I was most worried about.

The trip went really well. No meltdowns, no unforeseen problems, we didn’t forget anything, and other than at the actual wedding (200 strangers are not their idea of a good time!)… I think the girls enjoyed themselves! Oh, Anton and I did too.. surprisingly fun and a nice, short get away. It probably depends on the attitudes that you and your spouse possess but I would recommend driving over flying, especially if you plan it out properly and make sure to set your expectations low… that way you can be surprised when it turns out really well!

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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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Hallowe’en 2012

Like the last, this years Hallowe’en was pretty low key. The girls are only 16 months and I don’t think they’d really enjoy walking/riding around doing the whole Trick-or-Treating thing. But we did go to the in-laws’ house for a small get together.

While Maretta and Shula are still under our complete control, we intend to dress them up exactly how we want them. Sci-Fi movie references? Yes. Showing our Geek through them? Yes. Awesome pictures for their teenage years? Most certainly. With that in mind, this year we went for Star Wars. We had some difficulty choosing just whatStar Wars referencing we’d be doing. Han Solo, Princess Leia, a pair of Ewoks, or a family of Storm Troopers. The Ewoks won out in the end, mostly due to the girls having an issue with things on their heads (we had doubts that Storm Trooper helmets would go over easily). I bought the Ewok and Princess Leia costumes from Party City and a Yoda costume for Jimmie from Well.ca.

Anton’s Han Solo costume was completely DIY (even the Deluxe costume you could buy was pretty… unimpressive). The cargo pants, long sleeve shirt and shoes were already owned and we found the his vest and accessories (toy gun and holster, as well as boot covers) at Value Village. The Princess Leia costume was pretty simple: long white dress, belt, and the Hair. The costume package did come with a wig, but I found it low quality with an uneven part. And, I already have a fair amount of hair so trying to fit a wig on top without a cap of any kind was.. frustrating. I ended up cutting the wig up into pieces and just using it more like extensions than an actual wig.

Star Wars Costume

Shula and Maretta’s costume were mostly just straight out of the package. We did add a few things here and there to make them a little more realistic Ewoks. The “leg warmers” they are wearing are from a stuffed dog we bought from IKEA, strictly for the purpose of cutting its’ legs off! (I ended up sewing his leg holes up because Shula had shown such an attachment to it before I maimed it. We now refer to it as a seal.) I also made our own spears for the girls to tote around with them. Nothing too fancy, some wooden sticks painted brown with silver-painted paper arrowheads attached at the top. It wasn’t long before the arrowheads came apart from the sticks, but they lasted long enough for photos!

Ewoks in the Wild

Happy Hallowe’en everyone! I can’t wait until next year to do something else!

ps. Thanks to Anton’s Mom and Dad for the “natural” and “wild” setting in the background!

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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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