Twin Adventures

Twin girls now rule the house.

Happy Valentines’ Day!

Another ‘holiday’ another photo shoot! I am by no means a professional, but I do love pulling out my camera and using my small creative side to produce some “Awe, so cute!” responses out of my friends any family. Mind you, half my job is done just by having two toddlers as my models! That being said; toddlers are also a handful at the best of times and then you try and put them into outfits and pose. It can lead to a bit of a disaster! We managed to snap our pictures over the span of a day, taking 10 or 15 shots and then taking a break of an hour to three hours; rinse, repeat, rinse, repeat. I’ll let some of the pictures tell the story…

2013 Valentines'2013 Valentines'

2013 Valentines'2013 Valentines'2013 Valentines'

2013 Valentines'

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Between every two or three pictures there was bribing with stuffed animals and books, lots of funny faces from Daddy, and the occasional promise of treats (don’t judge!). After the first few tries Maretta decided she didn’t like the shirts and whenever I attempted to put on on her she’d immediately start whining. After a bit of editing I came out with this for our final project:

2013 Valentines'

The shirts were a quick and easy DIY. I bought some plain white shirts on clearance from Wal-Mart and found some spare red fleece fabric in my sewing box. I used some light pink thread (to create some cutsie contrast that doesn’t translate in the photos) and hand sewed the fleece onto the shirts (each shirt has a half heart along the inside seam).

Happy Valentines’ Day everyone! Make sure to shout your love from the rooftops!

 

3 Comments »

Friday Fun with Toddlers!

See? It’s a good thing that I came up with this idea… I can’t believe it’s been a week since my last post; where do the days go?! Ohhh right… Toddlers. Which brings me to this Friday Fun post…

Fine Motor Skills: Pipe Cleaners and a Strainer

This is one idea I’d seen many times on Pinterest and a few different blogs, but I had a pretty hard time finding one before we started this activity; even with Google and Pinterest** at my disposal! I finally found one to link back to though, and it was a great simple post. Thanks Toddler Boredom Busters! I get the feeling, with a name like that, I may be back to that blog for more ideas…

  • Find some pipe cleaners! The girls are only 20 months, so we aren’t really at the “crafty” stage. This means that we didn’t actually have any pipe cleaners on hand (thanks to my mom, I was raised thinking that was a household staple!) but I found some at our local Canadian Superstore. I’m sure any dollar or craft store would have them. Or any place with a craft or stationary section.
  • Grab a strainer! I almost went out and bought a new strainer (colander) for this activity because most of the strainers that we have all have TINY holes. Your strainer will need to have good size holes to fit the pipe cleaners through.
  • Let your kid(s) have at it!

I really liked the look of this activity. Shula seems to be very intuitive when it comes to her fine motor skills, so this was right up her alley! I sat both the girls down with the pipe cleaners and one strainer and showed them how to put the pipe cleaners into the strainer. They both got in to it right away (maybe Shula more than Maretta). Shula really enjoyed threading the pipe cleaners in and then pushing them all the way down. They both tried different styles of playing: using the strainer as a container and putting the pipe cleaners inside, wearing the strainer as a hat, and putting the pipe cleaners through the handles instead of the holes. By the end of the activity (this one lasted about 15-20 minutes!), it had turned into a “Let’s-put-everything-we-can-find-into-the-strainer” game!

Pipe Cleaners with Strainer Pipe Cleaners with Strainer Pipe Cleaners with Strainer Pipe Cleaners with Strainer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It didn’t take long for a… “disagreement” to arise about who should hold, and sit in front of the strainer; I think if we were to do this activity again I would try and find another strainer so they could each have their own to play with. Some times they are great with sharing… other times not so much!

Come back next Friday and see what else Maretta and Shula get up to!

**Wanna see what other Toddler stuff I’m looking into? Follow me on Pinterest.

Leave a comment »

[The Beginning of… ] …Friday Fun with Toddlers!

It’s no surprise to anyone who reads that I’m really inconsistent. I aim to blog at least once a week but it doesn’t take long for two, three, four weeks to pass without me even looking at WordPress, let alone write up a post. Mind you, I didn’t start writing so I could feel pressured to keep it up so it doesn’t really bother me that much. But, I do love sharing my girls and what we go through so I do feel a sting of regret here and there when I haven’t written anything for a while. So, on a note of wanting to contribute more to the blogosphere I give you a weekly article: Friday Fun with Toddlers. We can thank another blogger out there [ 2 little rosebuds], for one of her recent posts was my inspiration. Well, one of her comment replies to be specific.

Each week I’ll try out a new Toddler Activity with Shula and Maretta and report back on Friday. I have a feeling that Pinterest will be the main source of these ideas (I definitely wouldn’t be able to think them up on my own) but I’ll also look towards other bloggers for activities. Fortunately, without knowing that I’d be doing this, we already did a not-our-normal activity this week!

No-Mess Finger Painting

Got a link to “The Hippie Housewife” blog from my Mom, for mess free painting.

  • Take a large sealable plastic bag (Ziploc-style) and squirt in some paint (we used acrylic). A small to medium size pile should do the trick. Use as many or as few colours as you’d like; we went with the three primary colours.
  • Reinforce the opening of the bag with some tape (to make sure your munchkins don’t accidentally or purposely open it up!). Put down a blank piece of paper on your work surface and tape the plastic bag on top. I didn’t find it was necessary to tape the blank paper down; the plastic bag seemed to keep it in the right spot.
  • Let ’em have at it! We used wooden pegs and blocks, and little cars, to manipulate the paint in different ways.

The instructions given on the blog were great. Our set up was a bit different because we just used what we had laying around the house. I used packing tape instead of painter’s tape and acrylic paint instead of tempera paint. I also did all three primary colours in each bag so there was no fighting over the different colours. Set-up was a bit challenging because the girls were really interested in what I was doing with big plastic bags and a roll of tape but once it was ready to go the girls sat down and… didn’t really do much with it. We tried using some different toys (wooden peg, cars, hammer) to draw with so the girls could see what they could do with the paint.

No-Mess Finger Painting No-Mess Finger Painting No-Mess Finger Painting

I think by the end of the activity (didn’t last more than 10 minutes) most of the artistic changes that had taken place were at mommy’s hands. At 19 months, Maretta and Shula may be a bit too young for the “no-mess” part; They probably would have enjoyed it a lot more if they’d been able to get it on their hands and face!

The bags are now hanging on our fridge amongst their crayon drawings, and every once in a while they’ll smoosh some of the paint around.

Thanks Mom and The Hippie Housewife for the inspiration this week!

2 Comments »

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!

3 Comments »

Toddler Beds

Just over a week ago we took the side rails off of the girls’ cribs. No real reason behind the change, it seemed like it was time for another “big step” and it was either this or potty training (not looking forward to that one). We didn’t experience either of the girls’ ever climbing out of their cribs or causing injury to themselves while they were sleeping. They have both been sleeping through the night since they were five months old and rarely cause any trouble when going down to sleep. Converting the cribs seemed like a good next step.

IMG_0627IMG_0640IMG_0624IMG_0631


We decided to go with the same technique we used when we originally did sleep training: Controlled Crying. Now, our girls are 18 months old so “crying” isn’t usually the right term to use but it was the same concept. We’d put the girls down after our bedtime routine, tuck them in and leave them be. We’d set a 10 minute timer and until it went off we didn’t go into the bedroom (with the exception of loud bangs or hurt crying). When the timer went off we’d head in and redistribute babies, blankets, soothers, and stuffed animals. Not a lot of attention was given; just a quick kiss and a firm “goodnight”. Even if they just hopped out of their beds before we reached the doorway, this was all that we did. No trying to get them to stay in their cribs, no talking to them. We wanted to make sure they knew that we meant business! Once or twice we tried sitting in the room with them and keeping them in their cribs but, as they do with most everything, they really enjoyed the attention!

Toddler Beds

Last night was our ninth night of no crib sides, and since we started the amount of trips we’ve had to make into Shula and Maretta’s bedroom has decreased every night. Shula seems to stay awake a little longer than Maretta does; each night the last one or two trips have been to put just Shula to bed. The amount of trips listed are any trips we made into the bedroom to restore order. They don’t include the original “tuck in” or when we poked our heads in to see if they were actually sleeping or just being quiet.

1st night: 7 trips

2nd night: 5 trips

3rd & 4th night: 4 trips each

 6th & 7th night: 3 trips each

8th & 9th night: 1 trip each

We definitely had to make some changes to their bedroom in order for this “being loose” to work! Any loose anything needed to be moved out of their room. Extra stuffed animals, loose clothing, shoes, etc. etc. In our house, the girls have the master bedroom so they also have access to an ensuite bathroom. Our creative solution for the time being is to prop their old crib side rails against the closet-style door so they can’t open it. A bit mickey-mouse but it works for now!

I’m really impressed with how Maretta and Shula are doing. I read about a lot of horror stories about parents having to go in upwards of thirty times to put their kids back down, and I thought “How’s it going to be with two of them?!”. And it wasn’t that bad. As with any other thing we’ve “taught” or “trained” them at… it just takes a slightly thought out plan and consistency! Always with consistency!

Extra Tidbit: I would highly recommend getting your little one(s) to sleep through the night before you convert their cribs or move them into toddler beds. Need help? See Sleeping with Twins.

 

Next Big Step? Potty Training…

 

ps. Don’t get excited.. not even thinking about potty training yet.

2 Comments »

Sleeping with Twins Part 2

Following on my original post, Sleeping with Twins, I’ll start out by recapping on my “Mommy’s Tips for a Better Bedtime”. These tips apply for anyone under the age of one that you’re trying to sleep train. I wrote them when our girls were eight months old. A lot of the tips still apply afterwards but with slight changes (ex. running/walking/crawling instead of tummytime).

Mommy’s Tips for a Better Bedtime

  • Small Things during the Day.

No naps after 5pm. Lots of exercise (tummytime) during the day.

  • Small Things at Bedtime.

Baby Einstein Lullaby Classics on repeat (all night). heater up to 19°c during the night. soothers (and stand-by soothers). lowered voices and dimmed/minimal lighting.

  • Bedtime Routine.

Ours is: Short walk (five minutes for the dog to pee), bath time (one baby at a time. daddy with one, mommy with the other), quiet play time-NO LOUD PLAY (rolling around the floor while mommy and daddy finish making bottles and get a couple of glasses of water; no more than five minutes), bottles, cuddle time (5-10min. minimal interaction), down in their cribs (we do separate cribs)

It’s not “Crying It Out”. I would highly recommend it. We do fifteen minute intervals. Because we implemented this type of sleep training, we didn’t need to go in and soothe our babies at all tonight. Or the night before. Make sure your support system is going to help you. It’s hard to go at it alone. It helps to be able to tag out and take a breather.

  • MOST IMPORTANT TIP!

It can be a painful ride, but your little ones need to learn to self-soothe. Try your best to put them down while they’re drowsy; not after they’ve fallen asleep. We cheat sometimes. If they fall asleep in our arms, we don’t wake them up just to put them down. But we do try to put them down before they fall asleep.

This stuff works!! I am pretty happy to say that in the 10 months since I wrote the original post, our girls slept through the night 95% of the time. The 5% they didn’t was usually related to teething (molars suck!). Since our girls sleep through the night most of time, we decided it was time for the next step: removing crib rails.

Reading Instructions

Our cribs are of the convertible variety so there’s no switching to toddler beds, just removing one of the side rails off of the cribs. The girls and I started by reading our instructions, then grabbed our Allan Keys (thanks IKEA!) and got straight to work. They were extremely helpful and no one swallowed any of the small pieces (although I did have a good scare for about ten minutes when I couldn’t find a piece).

We are still within the first 24 hours of having the side rails off and I think we could be doing a lot                IKEA’s so easy, toddlers can do it!        worse! I took the rails off before Shula and Maretta’s afternoon nap. It was as one would expect: horrible. Thanks to the bit of reading I’d done, I was prepared with one of the baby gates at their bedroom door so they couldn’t get but they were all over their room, out of their beds after about 30 seconds. At the end of the designated two-hour nap period the only thing that had been accomplished was the t-shirt bin being spread around their room. Bedtime went a little better, and easier since Anton was home with me. It took an hour and five “replacement” trips to the bedroom before Maretta fell asleep. Shula fell asleep one poop and two trips later. I was expecting A LOT worse; some of the horror stories I’d read online about 20-40 trips back to the bedroom to put them back in their bed.

20121231_102705

This mornings’ nap was.. okay. Shula fell asleep after an hour and four “replacement” trips. I think Maretta was close, but the phone rang and Jimmie went bounding around the house (including the girls’ room) which disturbed Maretta. Shula seemed to be sleeping pretty lightly so I thought “one’s better than neither!” and brought Maretta into the living room with me. We are in the midst of the afternoon nap and it’s mostly quiet except for the occasional peep. I learned pretty long ago that if they’re awake and quiet, you leave them alone!                                    What happens when toddlers don’t nap!

We’ll see how things go. Just like most of the other “training” we’ve done, it takes consistency and time. If things don’t go back to an easy bedtime in a week or two we’ll probably put the rails back on and hold off for a couple of months. There’s no rush, right?

Leave a comment »

Poop Play

The topic of poop had come up a few weeks ago, and with a sigh of relief I said to Anton “I think we’ve managed to pass the poop playing stage!” Turns out I was wrong. It also turns out the girls love me more than they love their daddy and left the poop play for his day off. While I was at work yesterday I kept getting text messages from Anton…

poop_1

                                                                                                                                                            

poop_2

                                                                                                                                                            

poop_3

                                                                                                                                                            

poop_4

                                                                                                                                                            

poop_5

As you were reading through to the big finale, I hope you got the same sitting-on-pins-and-needles anticipation as I did. And it would seem that one never really gets past the poop play stage.

6 Comments »

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!

 

Leave a comment »

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!

2 Comments »

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!

 

2 Comments »