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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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.

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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.

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A Young Einstein?

Shula… hard at work!

 

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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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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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You Are a Unique Snowflake.

Throughout all the reading I did in preparation for the twins, the phrase I came across most frequently was “all children are different.” Mostly I came across it while reading about milestones. Because we all know it’s bound to happen; comparing one kid to another. The logic makes perfect sense… we don’t all learn to walk, talk, and read all at the same time. We all have different learning styles and we all learn at our own speed. But, there was always a part of me that thought.. “yeah, but, I’m sure the girls will be pretty close in terms of when they learn stuff.” So wrong.

One could claim that it’s harder not to compare your kids because they are exactly the same age, and are being raised in exactly the same manner. You’d expect them to learn everything together, at the same times. But, they don’t. And it would seem that neither one of them has a lead on the other. Watching Shula and Maretta hit all their milestones has been interesting. They seem to trade-off learning something new.

Maretta learned how to roll over first.

Shula learned how to crawl first.

Shula learned how to pull herself up to standing position first.

Maretta learned how to stand unassisted first.

Maretta has grasped feeding herself first.

It really just goes to show that two children, raised under the same roof, with the same rules still manage to grow and learn at their own rate. A lot of other moms I know can’t seem to help with the comparisons: “Mine was walking at eight months.” “Mine said Daddy at just four months.” etc, etc. I do my best not to, because it’s just obvious to me that it really doesn’t matter. Other than the charts that Baby Center sets out, I have no idea where my girls stand compared to other babies. Why stress about it? There is only one thing I’m concerned about and it’s the “Be worried if your baby hasn’t done this yet” section.

It is fun to know whether my girls are ahead of the pack and if they’re geniuses but… I usually keep that stuff to myself, because really… what mom wouldn’t claim to have a genius baby or two?

Do you have genius baby? Or do you even pay attention to the “Milestone Chart”?

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Better Weather Means…

As a kind of Part Two from my last post, I thought I would give an update as to how we’ve been spending our time lately. The girls are much more interactive and are more aware of their actions. These two things make for great and funny interactions, and make it more entertaining to do activities with them. It just so happen that we’ve been having some pretty awesome weather lately, so we’ve been heading outside.

Grass. Freshly mowed, poop-free, green green grass. In the middle of our three-building complex, there is a “club house” with a yard surrounding it. It is the perfect amount of space for the four of us to sit and play in. (Jimmie stays tied up on the concrete, so the grass remains poop-free!) The only unfortunate thing is… the girls don’t seem too fond of grass! It took us a good five minutes to convince Maretta to crawl along the grass, and another few minutes to convince Shula. Most of the time they sat with their hands up by their chest.. “Ewwww! What is that stuff?!” It was cute.

A few days later we went out to a park that was less poop-free then we would have liked. We had thought that the girls would warm up to the grass maybe another round of playtime, but it didn’t seem to change their opinion. They continued to sit with their hands up and remain in one place. Mind you, this grass was also a little brown and had some patches missing. Maybe Shula and Maretta are grass snobs? Only the greenest and freshest will do? If we don’t make it out to the grass (most days) we try and put the girls in their play yard on the balcony. Especially with the nice weather, we want to make sure that they are experiencing as much outdoor and indoor. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We’ve been continuing with our evening walk; which is part of our Bedtime Routine. I’ve never appreciated Daylight Savings Time as much as I have this year. Although we’ve been doing our walk from the beginning, the fall and winter months bring a fairly dark evening. Lately when we head outside the sun is just setting behind the mountains, which is perfect because we can still enjoy daylight but don’t have to worry about too much sun in any eyes. I think that these evening walks every day really give the girls a good feel for what the outdoors are. It also gives them a chance to toughen up. We don’t usually bundle them up very much so they get a chance to experience the elements; wind, rain, snow, sun.

These days I am really looking forward to some first steps. I love taking them out in the stroller, but I am really excited to have all four of us walking around together.

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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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