Twin Adventures

Twin girls now rule the house.

Aquarium Trip

A few weeks ago we went on our first real outing. We met up with Anton’s parents and headed out to the Vancouver Aquarium. I’ve wanted to go for a while, but between work and the lack of motivation to plan something it just hasn’t happened. So I finally checked hours, phoned to see when their least busy time was and called up the in-laws.

The Plan

Going out with twins requires a bit of planning, especially with our routine. We decided that the best plan of action would be to do the first feeding at home (7:00am) and then get everything ready and hit the road. Prep time plus the drive would fill up the chunk between the first two feedings. The drive there would also give the girls ample room for “nap time”. By the time we got to the Aquarium it would be Brunch time (10:30am). That would give us three hours before the next time the girls needed to eat. We figured that would be more than enough time to spend at the Aquarium. Then we would feed them lunch (2pm) and hit the road to go home. And once again, giving the girls their naps. The car ride would be a bit longer than what they would usually nap for; hopefully that would make up for the nap that they’d miss during the visit.

To be prepared, we decided to bring both our Snuglis’ and our stroller. We figured we would mostly carry them around in the Snuglis’ but didn’t want to be caught needing the stroller and not having it. In the end it was nice to have both. Anton’s dad pushed the stroller around (what a man!) and the girls were more than happy to be up with Mommy and Daddy. Near the end of the afternoon, the adults sat down to grab something to eat and that’s where the stroller came in handy. One doesn’t realize how much work it is to eat food while you’ve got another person strapped to your front!

The Execution

You will be amazed to know… everything worked out perfectly! The girls were very co-operative for all of their meals, including the ones we did in the car. We managed to not hit any kind of rush hour traffic or road construction (very common in our Lower Mainland). We didn’t forget anything at home and the girls managed to push through the entire visit in a good mood; even though they missed out on a nap!

The attention span of an eight month old is not very long, so we didn’t spend a lot of time in one place. But, Shula seemed to get a kick out of the Sea Otter swimming laps around his pool and Maretta really enjoyed all the colourful fish going around in circles. We walked through the Amazon, listening to parrots screech and getting wet from all the mist. Coulda sworn Shula had just had a bath judging by how wet her hair had gotten!  Both girls liked watching the Pygmy Marmosets (dwarf monkeys) jump across their trees.

By the end of our afternoon Maretta and Shula were both looking pretty worn out from all the excitement (and lack of nap). They never got cranky though… all smiles and happy the whole time we were out. It’s hard not to brag about it, but our girls are perfect little monsters. I’m not sure if they ever made one unhappy noise! The six of us all really enjoyed ourselves and I think that going to the Aquarium will definitely be a regular thing. It’ll be nice, as the girls get older, to see them get more out of the shows and attractions.

Maybe it’ll become a “tradition” to go the Aquarium with all the grandparents!

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A Busy and Exciting Week

This week has been full of new milestones and experiences. Both girls have really mastered crawling. Shula still with an army crawl and Maretta has a full hands and knees crawl. Very deliberate and perfected. Since they are both mobile, we’ve had to put a lot of thought into baby proofing. We’ve been managing alright so far; mostly by just watching them closely and moving them if they get too far or start touching things we don’t want them to. It’s a little more difficult now because they are actually pretty fast! You look away for one second and they are across the room!

Anton spent one of his days off this week dealing with our entertainment center. It’s not contained or behind closed cabinet doors, so we had a lot of exposed cables. Anton tidied it up so we no longer need to worry about it. We were/are looking into getting some new living room furniture. Our sofa and chair bit the dust a while ago and it’d be great to have some pieces that are a little more kid friendly. Although we’ve been talking about it for a while (the sofa has been a topic since we moved in together, four years ago!) we still aren’t settled on what exactly we want and, with the girls, we can’t really load up the car with new stuff so we need to be selective/smart about our shopping trips.

Okay, back to the babies… Once they got crawling figured out, it seems like they have been doing something new almost every day. After crawling Shula figured out how to pull herself up into a standing position using the furniture for support. Once we saw her do this a couple of times, we realized we’d have to lower her crib. We got to work and got it lowered that evening before bedtime. (Hooray for IKEA and their simplistic furniture!) It was just the next day when we watched Maretta grab the couch and pull herself up as well. So, lowered her crib as well. Unfortunately, this means that we can’t use their cribs as the “changing stations” anymore. The girls grew too big for the real change table a month or two ago. We got a smaller one, from IKEA, that would fit in the nursery better. The downfall being, of course, that it didn’t last them past six or seven months. So now we are changing the girls on the floor in the nursery. I told Anton yesterday, “It’s alright… getting up and down equals more cardio, right?!”
So now that both girls are pulling themselves up and standing, we can look forward to cruising (taking steps while holding onto things). You can tell that both girls really want to do it. They make the most subtle foot movements. Kinda like walking in place. And just this morning I watched Shula climb from the floor into her rocking chair. It’s so great to watch them actually learning. To see them in a tough spot with something and watch them figure it out all on their own is amazing. A good example is when they are sitting in their rocking chairs and they drop a toy. Instead of waiting for mommy or daddy to pick it up, they’ve learned to reach forward and they can pick it up themselves! I cannot wait to see what the next days/week/month bring! Being a parent is sooo exciting!

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Eight Month Old Twins

Ours girls are eight months old! Boy does time fly.

Fortunately, Anton and I are not the type of parents that are too worried about milestones. Whenever we get reading on the subject, it’s usually just to skip to the “If your baby isn’t doing these things you should talk to your doctor” section. As long as they aren’t so lacking that it’s a problem, we aren’t too concerned. Other parents are doing more than enough worrying for all of us. Because honestly.. have you ever met a thirty-year-old that can’t crawl? I don’t think so.

Putting those thoughts aside, I still like to compile a list every month. Mostly so that our out-of-town family (which means pretty much all family) can know how the girls are doing, without me having to come up with different creative ways to get it across. I love going with Baby Center; since they have the milestones all lined up nicely, and it may be doctorish but I like to arrange these milestones with bullet points.

Says “mama” or “dada” to parents (isn’t specific)

Both our girls babble. “baba” “dada” “mama” “gaga” “googoo”. I’m convinced they still have no idea what they are saying, or what/who they are taking about. So.. yes? no? I’ll let ya know when they can say “Mommy” and “Daddy” and “Jimmie”.

Passes objects from hand to hand

Oh yeah. Our babies have got this one down pat. They pass things from hand to hand, they pass things from their hand to our hand, they pass things from their hand to their twins’ hand. Objects are hard to keep track of these days. “Didn’t Shula just have that soother?!” “Yeah. But Maretta’s got it now!”. It’s not always “passing” though. Both girls have a tendency to “take” things.

Stands while holding onto things

For sure. Meta’s been doing it for awhile now. Meta loooves being praised. We’re always sure to praise when good things happen or the girls accomplish something. So, in turn, she loooves standing. Shula stands as well but she is much more interested in crawling

Crawls

Yes. Shula crawls all the over the place these days. It’s actually getting difficult to contain her. Maretta can crawl as well, although she seems happier to just chill in one place, or roll over.

Points at objects

I haven’t noticed any pointing. Well, pointing that has any meaning behind it. They do twist their hands and fingers into all sorts of configurations, but I’m not sure if any of it is pointing.

Searches for hidden objects

Yes, although this isn’t a game they seem particularly fond of. Unless it’s searching for Mommy or Daddy. With Shula’s crawling ability, she’ll come and look for you. And she’s pretty good at it too. Came and found me in the kitchen this evening while I was running a bath. (Yes, we bathe in the sink these days.)

Pulls self to standing/Cruises

Thank god no! That would mean… we’d have to lower their crib mattresses! They’re only just figuring out how to pull themselves up into a sitting position.

Picks things up with thumb-finger pincer grasp

Uh.. Yes? Possibly no… We don’t have a lot of things in the house that would be “pincer” friendly. Mostly they play with wooden blocks and large stuffed animals. Both of which require a full handed grab. We haven’t really introduced any pincer worthy foods either. Just doing Parent-Fed spoon feeding.

Indicates wants with gesture

Well, when they see a bottle they throw their hands up and open their mouth like a fish. And same when they want their pacifier. Does that count? Hm, actually.. I think those may be their only “wants”.

Miscellaneous Milestones

Teeth. Shula’s got four now. Two top, two bottom. Maretta has three, possibly four. Two bottom and definitely one top, possibly another top.

Personalities. They are showing more and more these days. Maretta is very laid back. She likes to watch and absorb the things going on around her. Shula is a bit of a diva. She gets emotional and has to have things her way. There are some things that go back and forth though. One day it feels like Shula is dominating; taking all the toys, being a bully, etc. But the next day it’s like Maretta is seeking her revenge. So, I wouldn’t say one of the girls is always the “bully” or always the “push over”. Definitely goes back and forth.

So, all in all… I think they are fairly on track with where they should be. They may not have everything down pat just yet, but why rush it? I look forward to bragging about my girls when they are walking and talking, but for now… I’ll just brag about the things they have already accomplished. While I was writing this, I happened to look ahead to the nine month milestones. Ugh. Things are about to get interesting!

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Sleeping with Twins

Sleep.

We all need it. It’s the fuel that drives us forward. Sleeping gives our bodies and minds a chance to recharge and reset. You’re screwed if you don’t get enough sleep.

Enter Twins.

We’re all screwed.

Nah, it’s not that bad.

Let’s start from the beginning.

The first two nights of having twins in our lives were horrible. Anton and I did not sleep, at all, for the first night. The second night we both got scattered sleep. It was crazy. After those first couple of nights we managed. Our angels were up throughout the night as you would expect most newborns to be up. Every couple or few hours to have a change and a feed. We knew this was how it was going to be and had already accepted that we were going to new-parent zombies for a while. Keeping these expectations in mind we were pleasantly surprised.

By the time the girls were three months old they were sleeping through the night. Any time that they happened to wake up all it took was a quick pat on the back and replacing a soother and they were good to go. It didn’t take long for Anton and I to get back into the habit of having a full nights sleep (meaning between five and eight hours). It was nice. We quickly learned that a small dose of Orajel and/or Infant Tylenol was a lifesaver for what may or may not have been teething.

It was like this for a good three or four months and then… something changed…

We decided to try the girls on a somewhat different schedule (Broken Schedule). And they started waking up in the night. And couldn’t seem to be calmed or soothed unless they wound up back in our arms which usually ended up back in our big bed. It wasn’t working for us. I love my babies, but co-sleeping is not for me.

So I bought some books:

Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Twins In my opinion… garbage. There wasn’t much that focused on twins. It seemed to be the original version of the book but with a paragraph about twins every once in a while. I found a lot of what was said to be common sense, or something I’d already figured out. Possibly would have been a better read if I had read it while pregnant, before the girls were around.

Bed Timing Meh. Not worth the money I paid for it. Not a horrible read; will probably come in handy as their sleep patterns change throughout growth spurts and different developmental states.

Solve Your Child’s Sleep Problems Haven’t gotten all the way through this one yet, but it seems alright. From my previous bit of research I did while pregnant, I had a feeling I was going to agree with what Dr. Ferber had to say. We use the controlled crying method, which Dr. Ferber stands behind, and it has worked out really well for us.

I was rash. I shouldn’t have bought any books. That’s what a library is for! But, I was fed up with things not working the way I wanted them to (I know, I know…) and I was bound and determined to make things work. And in the process, try to figure out how “baby sleep” works. The great kicker is.. after I bought my books and started reading them, the girls went back to sleeping through the night. I feel a bit like I never even gave the girls a chance to work it out. I dismissed the idea that Anton and I could do it on our own.

Which is ridiculous; because we can. And considering how little I got out of the books, we did. It turns out; the girls weren’t sleeping through the night because we had

A) messed with their schedule. DON’T MESS WITH THE SCHEDULE!

and B) they were both cutting a new tooth.

Why aren’t these things obvious in the heat of the moment? Why is hindsight 20/20?

Mommy’s Tips for a Better Bedtime

  • Small Additions during the Day.

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

  • Small Additions 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.

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