Twin Adventures

Twin girls now rule the house.

First Hair Cuts!

At 22-months, Shula and Maretta are still lacking a little in the hair department. Don’t get me wrong; they both have a lot more hair then they did a year ago, but they could both be mistaken for little boys if you were to base your decision on their heads.

Anton and I decided that it was time to give them a bit of a trim. I had debated whether to take them into a salon/barbershop or just take care of it ourselves. The latter won out in the end. I didn’t see much point in plunking down money for a five minute job, not to mention some of the horror stories I’d heard about kids throwing tantrums while having someone wielding scissors around their ears.

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It was so easy. We double-teamed it; one of us holding a head still and measuring out the hair, while the other one snipped and caught the hair. I think it took less than a Dora episode to get both heads trimmed to a reasonable amount. And it looks soo much better!

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Moms Tips for a Good Hair Cut

  • Distractions.

TV Show, a favourite book or toy, items they don’t usually get to play with (phones, keys, etc.)

  • Bibs/Smocks.

We used some full-coverage bibs while we were cutting their hair to limit the amount of hair that got down shirts and into laps.

  • Be Fast!

They move fast, so you gotta be faster! Decide what you’re going to cut and then move in! If you hesitate for a second longer than you should, you’ll lose your spot.

  • Partner-up.

Doing the hair cuts together with Anton worked really well. One of us held heads still if needed, as well as holding the hair in place and the other snipped away.

While we were cutting, I put all the hair into a bowl so we could throw it into a plastic bag to keep. I wish that I had kept the girls hair separated so they could each have their own bags but oh well, not the end of the world.

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Bedtime Routine at 20 Months

Our bedtime routine has been pretty much the same since we had Maretta and Shula. The timing for things has changed slightly over the last year and a half, but it’s always been: evening walk, bath time, bottle of milk, snuggles/book, and then down to sleep. It’s worked really well for us and I think the girls really thrive on the routine. When “walk time” rolls around the girls are bringing us shoes, jackets, and leashes even before we say anything! I think it shows that they enjoy knowing what’s going to happen next. I give you… 

Our Nightly Routine

Our Evening Walk

Our Evening Walk

Bath Time!

Bath Time!

"Can I get fed yet please?"

“Can I get fed yet please?”

Brush, Brush, Brush!

Brush, Brush, Brush!

Small bottle of milk and a soother.

Small bottle of milk and a soother.

Storytime!

Storytime!

"Ooohh! Lemme pose for the camera!"

“Ooohh! Lemme pose for the camera!”

"Do I *have* to get under the blankets?!"

“Do I *have* to get under the blankets?!”

We start with our evening walk at 6pm and they are in their beds before 7pm. On good days they’re asleep within a half hour. On bad days… it can take anywhere from an hour to an hour and half for them to settle down. The fact that we’ve been doing virtually the same routine for a year and a half shows just how well it works though!

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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!

 

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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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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.

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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?

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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!

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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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Smart Little Monkeys

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

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

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

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

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Keeping Things Fair and Equal

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

 

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

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

Maretta Day! Shula waiting patiently for her turn…

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

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Photography

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Shula enjoying her Curious George.

Maretta glaring at her cake.

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

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

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

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

Ahh! They’re Toddlers now!

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