How do you do it?!

And by YOU, I mean WE – we mothers (and dads) out there. We teachers, stay at home moms, and all the jobs in between. How does A PERSON manage it all, especially in that first year of a baby’s life?

And my answer is I don’t know. But I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately, and the topic keeps popping up in my day to day life. I guess that means it’s time to write it down. 

I’ve been struggling with this stage in the twins’ lives. Yes, they are 13 months old and therefore we are past the first year, but I’m extending it because this stage comes in second behind the newborn stage as the hardest for us so far.

B is a total walker now, C a complete crawler. They can’t be left alone unless they are in “baby jail” – the play yard made of baby gates – and even if they’re in there, they will bicker and fuss after a few minutes. With B switching to one nap and C still on two, I have babies napping at 9, 12, and 2 and NEVER during my day do I get even a five minute break with both babies sleeping. I’m not complaining, I’m just…whining.

B is still going through a sleep regression with middle of the night wakings and terrible naps. His one nap today was a whopping 40 minutes long. His personality has changed, and he’s become very head-strong, with many a temper tantrum every day. In the same breath, in recent weeks he has learned how to share (still a rare occurrence), he has learned many words he can say on cue (Daddy, Mommy, doggy, ball, spoon, cheese), many signs he can use (more, all done, eat, water, milk) and such random tasks as throwing and kicking a ball, sorting items into baskets, and retrieving anything I ask for (my shoe, the toy pig, etc.) He grins like crazy as he scampers down the hall. He runs full speed into my legs, clinging for dear life as he says “mama, mama”. He has learned how to play “chase” with his sister, a very cute game that sends them both into hysterical giggles. 

And C is no different – she can do all of those same things B does (except walk), with an emphasis on language development – saying the word “more” (“mo”) as she signs it, trying out different words on her tongue such as “purple” and “yellow” that aren’t too far off the mark. She LOVES to sort and will put toys in different baskets for a long period of time. She also loves books and points to each creature with eyes and talks in her little baby language. She’s finally on to the sippy cup instead of the bottle and they both are done with formula. She’s an absolute charmer, batting her eyelashes for people in the grocery store and giving her best toothy grin when the camera comes out.

They’re getting big. They’re just BARELY babies – I’m holding onto that for dear life, but it’s almost over. They’re basically toddlers. And all of that is SO wonderful. And yet, I feel like I can barely keep my head above water!

For one thing, I’m going back to work after 1.5 years of being out of the classroom. One day in April 2013, I told my students I had a doctor’s appointment and would be back in the morning, but I never came back. I was on bedrest from 23 weeks until 35, when the babies were born. When I go back to work in a few weeks, I want to

1) teach our brand new curriculum that I haven’t yet seen, much less planned for,

2) have a classroom that looks decent,

3) NOT bring much school work home, but

4) NOT stay late at school to get it done, as I have a nanny and don’t want to pay overtime.Not only do I want to get home early enough and not do work at night, but I want to

5) have dinner ready in the crock pot 9 times out of 10 because if we don’t, we won’t be eating until midnight and

6) spend quality time with the babies when I get home from work at 4 until they go to bed at 7ish. And of course, after they go to bed, I want to 

7) get my chores done right away (make everyone’s lunches, clean up from dinner, wash sippy cups, walk dogs, straighten the house, etc. – my husband I split these) so that I can make a firm dent in my couch, only to 

8) get to bed at a reasonable hour so I can do it all again the next day.

Now, looking back on this list – it gives me some anxiety. This is CRAZY! But yet, it’s exactly what I want and in a way, expect of myself. Notably missing from my list are 9) QT time with the husband and 10) EXERCISE. Number 9 is important, and number 10 isn’t happening in my near future, so I’m letting that one go right away. 

I just don’t know how to make it all happen. But some moms have this work/parent/dinner thing down to a science, so I want to know – how do they do it?? How do you find the balance, and how do you know what things to just let go?

While being a stay at home mom, the babies have come first. I have had first hand experience in “letting things go” – and the things I chose were exercising, the organization and cleanliness of my house, and our dinners. My nanny has spent a few hours with us, just getting to know the babies and myself. I’ve found myself telling her not to go into the basement yet because it looks like an episode of Hoarders (true story – but not the hoarding). Or opening up the garage to get the stroller and asking her to watch her step over the recycling items pouring out of the bin and onto the floor of the garage. Or the fur balls that C is picking up as she crawls around the floor. Or our lawn that hasn’t been mowed in weeks.  I mean, I’m embarrassed. It’s BAD. I wonder how we don’t manage to find the time on the weekends to deal with these things, but we don’t. And we aren’t taking the babies to the zoo or hanging out watching movies (I haven’t sat and watched a movie since I was on bed rest). I don’t even know what we’re doing, but I can tell you this – it isn’t relaxing. So I let it go.

When does “Don’t worry, you have twins” run its course as an excuse for ANYTHING? Because I’m still applying it, but I think time may be running out.

And if I couldn’t keep my house together and get dinner on the table (or get my husband to get dinner on the table – ha) while being “home all day” – how will I do it when I’m at work?

I’m just struggling here, thinking about how to find the balance. I haven’t found it yet, but I keep assuring myself that when I go back to work, I’ll find it. Likely, the exact opposite is true and I don’t like how that feels. 

 

I read once, and have heard it again since (from my own parents), what I’m finding to be the BEST advice I have heard in regards to what it’s like with a baby(ies). I only wish I heard it sooner and could’ve let it sink in. That piece of advice is this: When a new baby comes into your life, the things you used to do, you won’t do. The things you want to do, you can’t do. You may carve out a little time for a few of your most valued hobbies, but even then, you won’t have the time you used to. Your life will change for the better, absolutely, but you won’t live the same lifestyle that you’ve spent ___ years creating. It’ll be a full year years before you can return to it. You used to be clean, healthy and fit? You prepared elaborate meals while doing your hair and makeup daily? You walked in a patient, slow manner and had time for friends and your expensive hobbies? Well now, that’s over. Really over. But it’s temporary. It’ll all come back, it just may be years down the line. And one day, I’ll have a clean house. But when I do, my babies won’t be babies. They might be entering school for all I know – and they’ll make their beds in the morning and argue over whose turn it is to load the dishwasher, saving me a few chores to do myself. And do I really want to rush to that moment? No, no I don’t. And maybe there’s my balance after all.

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Wonder Week 55, and am I raising picky eaters?

After writing my last post about B’s changed behavior and sleeping patterns, it dawned on me that he seems to be going through an actual 12 month sleep regression. This led me to a google search which told me that in fact, B seems to be going through Wonder Week 55. If you’ve never heard of Wonder Weeks, you can read more about it here. Basically, there are certain periods (“leaps”)  in a baby’s first year of life where they grow and develop at such a rapid pace that they go through major changes in their schedules, which also include eating, sleeping, and behavior. Each Wonder Week comes with some cool new tricks a baby can do after they go through it, and the website/book/app explains it more in detail. Wonder Week 55 is exactly B, down to increased tantrums, waking, crying in the middle of the night, and a decreased appetite for certain foods. I don’t know why I didn’t think of this before, but PHEW. This is just a stage. A fellow mom told me at the library yesterday, after I made mention of this phase B is in – “It’s a stage. Everything’s a stage.” She has a point there – every period in life is in fact, just a stepping stone until the next one. So if B is going through a tough stage right now, it will surely lead to a better stage..and back and forth. I just feel better knowing that this isn’t B’s new personality. He’s a baby. I’m hoping the phase passes soon.

In other news, I’ve got just a few weeks left until I’m back to work and my nanny starts. I haven’t worked since April of 2013. It has been a very long time, and I’m trying to get my ducks in a row to make the transition for us all as smooth as possible. And one of the bumps holding me back right now is food.

I have wanted my twins to eat healthy, balanced meals from the get-go. It’s something that was high on my priority list. Therefore, I introduced many veggies and fruits in the puree stage and the babies did great. They continued to do well when we transitioned to those same foods in finger food form. In addition to fruits and veggies, they like cheese and potatoes. At first, they also ate beans. I did not give them puffs or Cheerios or anything like that because I didn’t have to. I wanted to keep the processed food down to a minimum if I could. If the babies would eat other, non-processed things, then that was fine by me. I also didn’t give them anything fried or sweet, other than a few frosting licks of a cupcake and a few bites of my ice cream. See, I’m a sugar-obsessed person and have been as long as I can remember. I don’t think it’s doing anything for my health and probably contributes to my hives, but yet I can’t stop eating it. I obsessively eat sugar. I do not want my kids following down that path. Of course, they’ll have it eventually and that’s fine, but I’m not in a rush to get there. That’s why they’ve never had a cookie or a piece of candy or their own ice cream. They will. Fruit is their dessert – and C is proving to me that I’ve made the right decision, because the few times she has tasted real sugar, she’s channeled into a crazy baby. She must. have. another. bite. now – fussing, whining, “GIVE IT TO ME” in her eyes. She must be my daughter. Yes, sugar is being limited for them, bigtime.

So there they were, just eating their little finger foods of mostly beans and veggies, with cheese and fruit added…and then they turned one year old. And then we transitioned to whole milk. They’re following the guideline of 16-20 oz of milk a day, and that’s a lot less than the amount of formula they were drinking. Therefore, they’re hungrier. But with this change has also come picky eating. All of a sudden – they won’t eat beans. They won’t touch chicken. B won’t touch avocado anymore. C won’t eat pasta (yes, I started with some whole wheat pasta because B only wants mushy, slippery foods and that’s something he likes – but not C). B won’t touch certain fruits anymore, like grapes or blueberries. They won’t EAT anything! And I’m not preparing 500 options. What they heck do I feed these babies?

I have read to feed the babies “what we eat” – so that I prepare a dinner for all of us to enjoy. And that sounds wonderful, everyone sitting around the table, casually eating a relaxed dinner – but that’s not my life right now. My life is my husband throwing a dinner together with the scraps we have in our house after the babies go to bed at 7:30 so that we’re eating at 8:00, while I start on the nightly chores. We eat on the couch. The food is not cooked while the babies are awake, and we don’t eat it while the babies are awake typically, only because it’s not ready. My babies currently eat their last meal at 5:00. My husband isn’t even home yet. But even if we solved all those problems (I know a crock pot would help) – I don’t really think I want them eating most of what we eat! Nor do I think they would touch it.

We aren’t eating, you know, french fries every night, or ever. So it’s not like we eat THAT bad. But the quality of our dinners isn’t really…good. I don’t know. Tonight we had tacos at 8:00. Some somewhat crappy-quality ground turkey with taco seasoning, corn shells, sour cream, shredded cheese. There’s NO WAY my kids would even touch a piece of ground turkey – the texture, the color, the shape, etc. And the seasoning is full of salt, right? The corn shells…too hard, too crunchy…we wouldn’t give those to them. Sour cream? They won’t eat yogurt or cottage cheese, I think because it’s too tangy. So sour cream is out. Tonight’s meal wouldn’t work for them.

Unless we’re eating meals of  plain carrots, green beans, sweet potato, butternut squash, avocado, string cheese and watermelon – these kids aren’t eating what we eat. I’m wondering if I’ve done this all wrong, being TOO picky about what I give to them. And I’m really at a loss here – because I want to keep up with the healthy eating, really limiting their unhealthy options, but I want to make this process easier for us. I would love for them to get most of their protein from beans and eggs (we are JUST starting eggs so not sure yet if they like them). Oh, and I want them to be willing to try foods that aren’t fruits or veggies – like tacos, for example. And heaven forbid the food can’t be cut into the shape of a square!! I don’t know how to make the jump from finger food to table food while still keeping it healthy in a way that works for us. This is one of my biggest obstacles that I’m attempting to tackle before the nanny starts. Any suggestions or resources to find some answers?

I’ve still got another post in my brain – I want to back up to the stomach bug at the birthday party, setting up the playroom and some other Pinterest fun, but it’ll wait until next time.

Transitions

I have started this blog post now three times. I may, in fact, finish this one.

When C was 4 months old, she changed into a different, extremely challenging baby. She cried screamed for hours. She would only allow me to hold her. Not even my husband could calm her down. If, for some reason, I was unable to be with her while she was so upset, she’d cry for hours and refuse to sleep until I came to hold her (this happened one night when we went out to dinner). She didn’t sleep well into the night. She stopped napping unless I rocked her for the entire duration of her nap. I couldn’t run errands, I couldn’t leave the house. And when that was bad, she stopped napping altogether. Rocking her didn’t work anymore.

At 5 months, the screaming slowed, turned into a whine, and then stopped. She allowed herself to be held by my husband and others. She smiled again. She napped again. And then we sleep trained her at 5.5 months, once she was back to her old self. I didn’t dare sleep train her during that odd period because I knew she wasn’t herself. Something was up. I’ll never know what exactly made her change personalities and become a non-stop screaming machine for a month straight. Maybe a growth spurt, maybe just some big developmental leaps. But she’s never had a month like that since – in fact, she’s only become more pleasant and cheery as she’s gotten older. No more screaming baby, really ever.

Which is good, because B has taken her place. I’ve mentioned his meltdowns a few times in the past few months. His changing personality has been a slow process. He was the easiest, simple baby who never fussed and put himself right to sleep. He never took a pacifier, never sucked his thumb. But he didn’t need to self-soothe; he was never upset. Once he learned to smile, he did so non-stop. A few months ago, he started melting down when he wanted to walk and couldn’t. Being strapped in to a high chair or car seat or stroller was like torture. Those meltdowns were annoying, but I understood them. He wanted to move and I wouldn’t let him, and he couldn’t do it on his own. Now, in Month 12, I’m going to say that this month is C’s Month 4. He isn’t himself. He’s a changed baby.

B has more meltdowns in his day than he has happy times. He cries the moment I walk into the twins’ bedroom – he wants to get out of the crib and I’m not moving fast enough. He cries when I bring him and C into our bedroom to say good morning to Daddy, because I have to sit him on the bed and he doesn’t want to sit. He cries when I change his diaper, when he’s hungry, when I won’t let him step in the dogs’ water bowl. He cries because after the 8th toy he’s yanked right out of C’s hands, I tell him no, and try to redirect. He cries because I won’t let him swing his arms aggressively back and forth in hopes they connect with C’s face. He cries because he wanted to keep walking in one direction, but I need him to turn around so I can keep an eye on C. He cries when he’s in the stroller and it stops, so in a store I have to hold him in my arms while also pushing a double stroller with C inside. Most of all, he cries when I leave the room – to go to the bathroom, to get a drink, to go and get C, to switch with Daddy so I can go do some chores. He’s learned “mama”, so as I quickly dart away while switching places with my husband he throws back his head and yells “mama, mama”. Now, these tears aren’t just tears – they are absolute toddler-style meltdowns. Whether he’s already sitting or if he’s standing, he throws back his head and falls if I’m not there to catch him. He screams and kicks his feet in the air. He rolls around on the ground, back and forth, absolutely beside himself. Today he had the longest meltdown I have witnessed. He had just transitioned from a car nap to the “baby jail”, a baby play yard where the three of us spend a lot of our time. I dropped C in there first, got her going with some toys. Dropped B in there, gave him a toy. I had to go to the bathroom, I had to wash my hands. If I don’t put them in “baby jail”, C will crawl in one direction and B will walk in another. He will fall. It won’t work out. So he started to cry. But by the time I sat in the play yard with them, it turned into a meltdown, and then, even with me sitting right there, he couldn’t get control of himself. He rolled around, like I mentioned, “toddler style” screaming his head off for a solid 10 minutes. I tried leaving him alone, I tried holding him. I tried distraction. He couldn’t be reasoned with. Eventually, I brought out veggies and started feeding them to C, and he stopped.

I can’t remember if, when C was a changed baby, I worried if she would permanently be a needy baby. I suppose I did. I hope I did. Because that’s what I’m fearing now. That this is B – an always difficult child, a violent and aggressive one who is mean to his sister and just generally hates life. Transitioning seems to be one of his biggest issues right now. This behavior isn’t his only change – his naps have gone haywire and he’s waking and screaming in the middle of the night. And he’s become a picky eater – he’s completely against trying new foods unless they match the texture he prefers (the texture of veggies – wet, mushy). Anything dry, stringy, or the like, no chance. He used to eat absolutely everything I gave him.

So like I said, this isn’t him. Or isn’t the old B. I’m hoping this isn’t the new B. So I’ve tried to write blog posts but I’m so tired, so drained. He is sucking the life out of me!

And this is the first time I’ve found myself really thinking about the downfalls of having twins. My twins are the best thing that has ever happened to me, they filled a void I didn’t realize I had that was widening by the day. Being a mom is the most rewarding, fulfilling thing I’ve ever done. But because there are two, one is neglected – the non-needy baby. That’s C. She doesn’t get too much attention these days. Luckily she entertains herself well, and when I say, “Come here, C, look at this toy” – she comes and acts like it’s brand new. But even B – he is also neglected. Because if it were just him, I’d be helping him get more walking practice in. All he wants to do is practice walking all over my house. But he can’t, because I have C as well. So I have to pick him up, turn him around, put him back in the play yard, and that causes meltdowns. Maybe he wouldn’t meltdown and I’d never notice any changes because he’d be getting what he wants – which is to walk, to explore, to be adventurous. There are things that make him happy, but he’s limited in experiencing them because I have another child who needs me. He lights up ear to ear when he carries something in both of his hands as he tentatively walks down the hall. If he didn’t have a sibling, there wouldn’t be another child he’d steal toys from and then hit in the face with. Being a twin mom right now is extra challenging.

But thank goodness for C, because she’s my sanity right now. She poses for pictures, she is copying my words as well as my sign language (she can now say “cheese”). She snuggles, she laughs, she tickles so easily. She’s a kissing fanatic who just wants you to love her.

And yet, there was that time so many months ago where this was B – so easy, so even-keeled, so happy and giddy. C was whiny, fussy, unhappy, and needy. The tables have turned. Perhaps one day they could BOTH be their happy selves at the same time.

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I choose smiling pictures, haha. No one needs to see a meltdown. Like I said, there are things that make him happy. Being adventurous and letting him explore is his favorite.

And I can’t forget the many facial expressions of C.

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I have other posts in my brain about their birthday party (they had the stomach bug), our food rut (I need ideas!), separation anxiety (B is going through that now and our nanny starts in 2 weeks! Ahh!) and transitioning to one nap (the worst)…but it’s just not going to happen here tonight. Hopefully soon!

Happy Birthday!

Warning: Mushy baby post ahead.

I often try to recreate in my head the feeling I felt when I was wheeled into the NICU after my c-section to see my babies for the first time. I still don’t even know what time it was – being that they were born at 10:06 at night, I assume it was the next morning. B and C were in different NICU rooms, and B’s room was first. We came around the corner, me in my wheelchair, and amidst all the other babies, there was mine. He was handed to me, and I cried. A lot. And then we went to see C, and the same thing happened. Then I asked if we could put them together for a quick picture (thank goodness somewhere in my foggy medicated head I thought to ask for this). Being that no one was hooked up to any tubes, they were okay with it. And this happened:

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I imagine that the feeling I felt, and that I try to feel again in just the same way, is the same feeling a mother gets when she gives birth vaginally – when the baby is put on your chest. Same thing. It’s this insane, overwhelming, deep feeling of mine. It’s like the best Christmas gift ever, the one you’ve been waiting your whole life for. Right there for the taking. I used to try and remember that one moment so often when the babies were little and refluxy and life was tough. And as the months have gone by, I’ve thought of it less and less. But I still remember it, especially today. Today’s their birthday.

What’s scary to me is that the moment – not the memory of it but the feeling that went with it – is harder to feel, the more time that goes by. I’m afraid it will go away permanently one day, and then what? Then I reminisce about the babies’ first birthday? I say to my husband, “Remember the day the twins turned five”? Or even crazier still – the day they graduate high school, or get married..or…etc.

I can’t imagine that there will ever be any better memory, or any better feeling, than when my wheelchair came around that corner. And honestly, I really, really don’t want to forget it, because single-handedly, that moment was the best one of my entire life.

Anyway. The past year has been exhausting, mostly. And it’s had its challenging stages, such as the one we’re in right now. But the lows were never low – nothing with these babies can ever be that bad, because they’re here and they’re our kids.

 

So yes, today was their birthday. We didn’t do anything special – their party is this weekend. But of course, today was the day C decided to (for the first time ever) skip her first nap. Okay. She made it until noon, which is when most kids who take just 1 nap go down, so fine. But she only slept an hour and a half. And then she was a BEAR the rest of the day. So today we worked off C’s schedule. With that said, she was extra sensitive and cried when we gave them their little smash cakes (we didn’t even sing!) and when she opened up her present (a doll – apparently with a scary face). It was just one of those days for her.

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The day started fine, with some silly babies who won’t sit still and give me blurry pictures!

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But C just had an off day, as you can see.

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We enticed both babies to touch their little smash cakes by putting peas on them – and it helped, tho neither ever dug into the cakes. Just gentle pokes! So boring!

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B was into staring at his cake, but not much else. He had two nice naps, so he was in a pleasant mood! After C got upset, we revisited the cake in a different, less pressured way.

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The babies opened up their new dolls and B gave his doll a million kisses and lots of hugs, which was adorable. And on the way home as we expected, C napped.

Happy Birthday, sweet babies.

 

 

From “I’ve got this” to “I have no idea what I’m doing”

Thanks to the commenters and readers of my last post. It sounds like this 11/12 month old stage really can be a doozy and yes, I’m in survival mode again.

Piggy-backing on my thoughts last time, I’m just finding it funny how a few months ago, I really thought I had this 24/7 parenting thing down pat. It’s hard to know if my mental toolbox of ideas has run dry because I have twins, because I’m with them all day, every day, or because I’m not good at replenishing it, and that’s just the kind of mother I am.

But I do know that I’ve started reacting in ways to my babies’ meltdowns that I didn’t think I would – with an almost numb quality. And by babies’ meltdowns, I’m talking about B. Right now C is my golden child (and yes, it’s now switched between them about 4 times since they were born). She reads books, she wants to learn about things, she plays with toys quietly and easily. She has dislikes and opinions, but I know what they are and I set her up for success. I try to do the same for B. He’s biting now. With purpose. He was frustrated today and he bit my leg. And then tonight, my shoulder as he came in from a hug (so not sure this one was about anger). But he bites and it really hurts. And C, she just learned where my teeth are, so now she’s shoving her fingers in B’s mouth to find his teeth and getting bit, hard. And not learning her lesson, and doing it again.

B’s meltdowns come mostly going into the car seat, stroller, or high chair. The changing table I can get past if I sing a rousing rendition of “The wheels on the bus” and hand him some random object he shouldn’t have. But those other times… I find myself not knowing what else I can do, besides wait. Should I do a song and dance routine every time he throws back his body? Maybe if he were my only child and I could concentrate just on him. But I can’t – and so I wait a few seconds, hold him in place, and then he gives up the fight and sits down. And after I hand him the toy he’s dropped on the floor of a public place for the 5th time, because if it’s the only thing that keeps him happy,  I wonder how differently I’m doing things now than I did a few months ago. What I’m seeing is that my patience level isn’t as high as I’d like it to be. I don’t want to run out of patience – once in a while, sure, but not every day. Again, I ask myself if I’m running out of patience because I have twins, because B is at a difficult stage right now, or because I’m just not the kind of mother who has a lot of patience, even though I REALLY want to be that mother. Maybe being at home with the babies 24/7 is the culprit – not that I’m taking that one for granted either, because I’m going back to work full time in September and I don’t regret this decision to stay home even for a minute.

I don’t yell or anything like that –  I’m still overly in love with these babies and I don’t take it for granted. But a few months ago, I used to use a sweet sing-song voice, “Oh, I’m sorry you’re sad. Let’s fix it.” And now it’s, “Mommy is tired and ran out of tricks. Sit down.”

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IMG_6836But he’s just so cute! He’s got a devilish grin and his personality is really taking off.

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The “easy” baby at the moment. Still feisty though, she’s learned “no” from who knows where, but instead says, “Nah” – repeatedly.

 

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As they approach their first birthday, I think every day about their birth and how far we have all come. Life is good, I just wish I had a little more patience.

 

Who said “The first year is the hardest”?

Has anyone else been told that before, besides me? I’ve also heard, “It gets easier.”

When? When exactly does it get easier? I’m pretty sure it’s not the 11th month. If the first year is the hardest, does that mean I’ve got 2.5 weeks to go until hard turns to easy? No? I didn’t think so. Liars.

I am SO behind on blogging. And reading people’s blogs. In fact, I’ve got about 49 unread emails of your blogs to go through, and I don’t delete them because I want to remember to go back and read them, and then I don’t, and they build up. I want to blog. I finally pushed other things out of the way tonight to do it, when there are 5,000 things I need to be doing. But it just feels good, especially because the blogging community is so lovely.

In my last post, I believe I wondered whether or not I’d have crawlers and walkers in my next post. And in fact, I do. This is VERY recent – C just crawled for the first time two days ago, and not to be outdone, B took his first steps by himself yesterday, just one day later. B never crawled, scooted, slid, etc. He went right to walking from sitting down. I have videos of both events – I missed C’s crawling and my husband missed B’s walking, but at least the other parent was present to take the video. And we are very excited for our babies taking these independent steps. It means that B is a happy little guy, not nearly as frustrated as he used to be. And less frustration means less screaming. So that’s a win win right there. C – she was content NOT to crawl (probably explaining why she did it so late), and now she’s just content to crawl if necessary. One thing the baby books don’t tell you though – after a baby learns to crawl or walk, they aren’t exactly GOOD at it.

I guess that’s common sense. A lot of people say things like, “Oh, once my baby learned to walk/crawl he just took off! Get those gates out!” Except – no. That’s not what happened, at least for us. C crawled that one time, and she’s sort of done it two or three times since. B – he DOES want to walk, but he can’t, he sucks at it. Really, really sucks. He falls every two seconds and takes about three steps before he gives up and just lets himself crash. Except I’m there to catch him, of course.

And everyone said, “Don’t wish for your babies to crawl/walk. Enjoy them not moving around on their own while you can.” And I thought they said that because they (whoever “they” are) wanted to soak up the little tiny baby stage and would be sad when that went away. And I disagreed, because my babies were upset and crying due to their lack of independence. But now, now I realize it’s because when they learn how to move, that’s all they want to do, but they’re terrible at it and you have to watch them every second of the day. And this – this is a challenge with more than one baby. How do you do it with two?

If I could lay out the hardest, most challenging months of this past year, they would be birth-4 months to start. Nothing is worse than lack of sleep. You become a disoriented hot mess. I swore back in those days nothing would ever be so tough as that stage then with the lack of sleep and around the clock feedings. That is partially true. Then months 5-9 were an absolute BREEZE. The babies were fun, they laughed, they learned to eat solids, they sat by themselves. And sat. And sat. They played with toys, they were content. I took them out, showed them off, and plunked them down for one million pictures. I felt a little supermom-ish, like I had it all figured out. Which I did, for that stage in their lives. But months 10, and now especially 11, wow. Almost as challenging as when they were born! Yes, they sleep through the night. Thankfully. But it’s back to that time again where I eat my lunch in 5 seconds flat, while juggling one baby on my hip who is reaching for things she can’t have and laying down the other on the floor because he is throwing his head back in an all-out temper tantrum. Another thing you don’t read in baby books – babies start to act like TODDLERS before they are toddlers. My twins love each other; there are many kisses that go around. But when they aren’t laughing and giggling at each other, they’re screaming and fighting. B wants any toy or book C has and when he takes it, C starts screaming. If I give it back to her, or if B misses his target, he starts swinging his arms and throwing a tantrum. When C plays with certain toys, she doesn’t want B anywhere near her and shrieks if he comes close. I have to split them up and sit between them when they play! Is this NORMAL?

As you can tell, I’m finding this stage very draining. They are so adorable, they’re learning every minute and you can see the wheels turning as they process new things. But they can’t be left alone for a minute. Even if they’re safe – if I put them both in a large pack n play in the kitchen to play with some toys, they’re safe, but they’re fighting. And biting. When we’re on the floor in the living room, C wants to stand up at the waterless water table and practice her twerking, and B wants to walk. He won’t sit, he won’t lay down, it’s walk or bust. But of course, he can’t do it on his own and I can’t leave C standing up for long. One of them seems to be upset all the time, and it just rotates, who I can please and who I can’t. And of course, I try to please both as often as possible.

A lot of this comes down to “free play” time. We have a lot of toys and books but the babies do get bored after a while. We all need some structure. So we go out every single day, to play groups or to run errands or visit friends. It really helps cut down on the fighting over toys and it gives the babies new experiences. The downside is that I can’t even try to clean the house, prep dinner, or do laundry. Our house is falling apart. I just had to tell a new friend as we were setting up playdates that my house isn’t….playdate material. She was so forgiving and offered her house instead but really, how completely embarrassing. She wouldn’t judge me for it, but I don’t want a new friend and her little baby coming into my crazy house with all the clutter, the small rooms and the hyper dogs who don’t get enough exercise. And the LACK OF CENTRAL AIR.  I want to be more “put together”, and I want my house to do the same. Neither are happening right now. This twin almost-toddler thing is giving me a run for my money.

So that’s where I’ve been the past few weeks. Survival mode, again.

I won’t keep this post too long, but there have been wonderful, amazing things too. The crawling/walking was huge for both of them. But I’m finding the other, non-physical milestones much more fascinating. They are LEARNING. It’s sign-language time, first of all. They both have one sign, “All done”. I mean, after almost 6 months of doing that one, plus “more” and “eat” – it’s about time they got at least one. But they know it, they do it properly and it’s cute. Then, when they started copying me, I realized, this is prime time for learning. So I’ve tried to do what I can to teach them everything they want to know, and repeat it multiple times.

C has 1.5 words – “Duck” was her first (wasn’t that the same for you, Sparrow?) and “cat”, though it’s more like “dat”. I’m impressed with the “t” though. She and B also do the “d” sound appropriately for dogs. C loves books and cries when you stop reading them. She points, looks at you, wants to know. She can identify and find her toes and her hair, which is pretty cool. She can find my teeth as well. She claps her hands, she makes fish lips, both when asked.  B is fascinated with ceiling fans so I had to quickly make up a sign for fan before I had time to look it up, and after just one day, he’s starting to do it.  He waves, but in the wrong direction, so he’s actually saying “come here” instead of “hi”. He shakes his head no when you do. He put his ear to his shoulder when you do. He’s totally copying everything. He finally learned to feed himself his solids, which cut down on the mealtime screaming. They know nursery rhymes. They point. I count and recite the alphabet constantly – they’re a little young, but you never know what they’re taking in. It really is a fun age and it’s amazing to know that NOW is when the learning really takes off. NOW we have such a big impact on them. I wish that I could spend more time teaching them to meet their individual needs. One year is coming up real quick, and though it’s taken a long time, the milestones are really taking off.

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Tis the season

Okay everyone, finally some progress is being made over in this house. But first, let me direct you towards this totally well-written, completely true blog post that I found via Facebook. Has anyone else seen this? Kristen talks about the “season” when babies are small.  The season when you as a parent don’t have time for a social life, and you don’t connect with your friends like you want to, because your children are at a stage where they need you all the time. And it’s depressing sometimes, and you feel lonely. And you wonder if you’ll ever socialize again and connect with adults. She mentions going to Target just to talk with an adult (done that, and then some. Costco, The Dollar Store, the library…anywhere). But then she talks about the things that your babies are doing that fill that void – laughing with you, singing songs, playing games…it’s just so true. And so well written. So if you’re in need of a reminder why you are the mother of your kids, and why that job is so crucial right in this moment, read that post. It’s that good.

I think those who struggle with infertility know this even more than others – to appreciate the little moments. I have known this, and I try to think about it as often as I can. When B is thrashing his legs around like he’s being stung by 50 bees when in fact I’m only changing his diaper – I think about it. Or when (today) I go to check B’s diaper only to accidentally stick my hand in 5 inches of poop, and then having to lay him on the ground one-handed and pick up C off the couch and onto the ground so she doesn’t fall while I go scrub the poop off my hands and they both scream bloody murder because it happened so fast and they don’t know why I’m running out of the room – I think about it. What do I think about? My happy place is B rubbing his nose on my shirt back and forth when he’s getting sleepy, his closed-mouth kisses and how completely delicious he smells (from the waist up, at least). Or C’s huge grin, her giggles, her satisfaction at looking at a picture of herself and her brother right before she goes down for a nap, and curling her fingers around my shoulder as she snuggles in. I don’t know. I definitely have bad hours, bad sections of my day sometimes (that mid-afternoon time slot is a doozy), and those first few months of the babies’ lives were completely insane, but it makes me emotional even thinking about how someday I will miss this and ache to have it again. Will I miss it that much? Maybe, but for the sake of my happiness I sure hope there’s something my kids are doing that can kind of replace it. I don’t always want to miss something, that’s a depressing way for me to live. But just in case, I do try to think and enjoy and snuggle and sniff.

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Anyway. I just really liked that blog post.

Moving on. Coincidentally, I’ve been kind of anxiously waiting for my babies to reach some physical milestones. And generally the reason is because they are 1) large and 2) frustrated with sitting and playing with toys. They want to get up and dance (twerking was invented by babies, apparently) and reach and stretch. So while we’re not totally there yet, major progress is being made. Here’s their almost-11 month old update:

B: B’s physical development has gone from 0-60 in the last week or so. It came out of nowhere. Now, he’s about 27 pounds or so I’m guessing, no longer content to sit at ALL (I knew that day would come, thank goodness I took so many good pictures while he was still cooperating!) and it started when he wanted to hold onto the pole of C’s jumper-thing.

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And then he wanted to stand up at this toy:

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But then he started getting fussy and I realized it was because he was “stuck”. But he didn’t want to sit down. So I got out the water table and set up a little obstacle course in the living room and to make a long story short – in the span of a week he has suddenly learned how to 1) pull up on the furniture from a sitting position, 2) go completely hands-free for a few seconds and 3) cruise the furniture.

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This new freedom of his makes life certainly more interesting. I ran to the bathroom quickly today while he was sitting on the ground. When I came back 2 minutes later not only did he stand up at the water table but he cruised around the whole thing and was at the end of couch by the time I got there. He can turn around, switch hands and balance decently. As far as I know, the next step for him would be walking. But he doesn’t know how to use one of those push toys, and his steps are not smooth at all when he’s holding our hands. So he’s not ready to actually walk. But wow, the progress was huge. He’s a happier baby already. Interestingly enough, he never crawled. He never even came CLOSE to crawling. And not just a regular, pretty crawl. There was no scooting, no army crawl, no butt crawl – no movement whatsoever. But here we are. I don’t know how long it’ll take him to reach that big milestone, so we’ll see what happens.

He’s still very grumpy during meal times, maybe because of his lack of independence there. But he’s not showing any interest in wanting to hold his own sippy cup or feed himself his finger foods. He plays with them, he swings his hands back and forth and pushes ALL the food onto the floor, all while screaming because I’m not putting the pieces in his mouth fast enough. So I’m not sure where to go on that front. I’m hoping he just takes an interest to it one day. I’m happy he easily transitioned off the bottle though. He’s in 18 month clothes now and I’m not buying anything more in that size. He has 7 teeth that all came in between March and May. And just in the last few days he has gotten the hang of “Soooo big” and finally  – a wave! He’s just copying us of course, but it’s a start. There’s some understanding going on in that head of his. Today I noticed he clapped, but not purposely. But now that I know he can clap, I need to start teaching it. He’s a very strong-willed baby. If he wants something, he goes after it as best as he can, even if it’s the dog’s paws or a toy in C’s mouth. He wants what he wants. If I intervene, he’s not happy about it. So it’s constantly redirect, redirect. He laughs hard, often. He grins to show off his teeth, scrunches his nose, he’s fascinated by his own hands – he’s very funny. He’s funny to watch, when he’s in a good mood.

DSC_0388C keeps showing me that she wants to crawl. In the span of a week about 3 weeks ago, she perfected rolling and ALMOST crawling. She gets onto her stomach from a sitting position, she gets on all fours, she rocks back and forth…but that’s it.

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I’m hoping she figures it out soon. She has been watching her brother, though and in the past few days she wants to stand where he’s standing, she wants to hold onto things. She can’t pull up on furniture and her feet are like cemented into the ground – she has no idea how to move them. But there hasn’t been too much crawling practice recently because she wants to stand like B.

IMG_6166One day, about a week ago, she decided to put food into her mouth once, then twice, and by the next day she was ready to feed herself completely, given the right food. For her, that was chopped string cheese. And she hasn’t looked back. She has the pincer grasp down, she eats off the tips of her fingers – if the food is in her hands, she figures out how to eat it. Slippery banana and avocado – no problem. She has favorites for sure (unlike B who just devours everything) and they are currently banana and avocado, cheese and peas. She happily ate squash for breakfast today, but turned her nose up at plain white potato and wasn’t crazy about the chicken I had dunked in pureed apples and cinnamon for lunch. So great – she’s already being picky. C has also mastered the sippy cup (no straw yet), and can tilt it back and everything. Unfortunately, she only wants to drink water out of it and not her milk. I have a feeling that might not change until they are weaned off formula and her solids become the main event, not the formula.

C is fascinated with her world. She has a new love of books, of faces, of babies, puppies, even the smiling sun on her sunscreen bottle. She points now, at eyes, at mouths. She leans in to give all of these faces a kiss, whether in a book or if it’s a real person. She kisses about 150 times a day. It’s constant. I have caught her “flipping’ through a book, only to find the page with the dog, and she kisses the page and laughs. She could sit happily in my lap and read the same book 80 times without stopping. I imagine she just loves when we talk to her, show her things, point things out. That’s her favorite.

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IMG_6071I love the pointing. She’s extremely social, constantly chattering, giggling, etc. She lets you know when she’s bored or needs a change of activity. She’s basically happy when there are people around. It’s human interactions that really make her who she is right now. Luckily, she loves her brother and they have a ball laughing together. That is, before B claws her face off trying to take her toy.

She’s still a ham for the camera, posing for me, making taking pictures of her very easy. She loves new experiences. She loves to feel the grass, a breeze in her face, a dog’s kisses, etc. She’s a very happy baby, contrary to her newborn days of reflux, when she was a crying nightmare all day long. She’s got her two bottom teeth so far and she’s about 24 pounds, in 12 month clothes.

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I feel like I have toddlers. And really, I almost do. Their first birthday is next month. Totally crazy, but also totally awesome.

That was one long update, people. Next time I write one, maybe I’ll have crawlers/walkers. Who knows?

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A Typical Meal

The twins are making some progress, finally! We’re still not quite there, but they are on the cusp of some very exciting milestones – what looks like walking for B and crawling for C, and a much deeper understanding for both of them. I love reading all the other twin blog updates, so I’ll have my own shortly. Tonight though, it’s all about mealtime.

Right now, mealtimes are one of my least favorite parts of the day with the babies. C has figured out how to feed herself (yay!) but B is a NIGHTMARE, both because he’s restrained in straps that he hates and because he’s constantly starving and I can’t feed him fast enough. This is typical B during meals:

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This is how it goes, three times a day:

B screams when I strap him in. If I can’t get his milk heated up fast enough (i.e. any amount of time period) he screams while that’s happening. I do try to heat it up beforehand but it doesn’t always happen. I give him the cup; I have to hold it for him. He drinks the 8 ounces in less than a minute, sometimes in about 30 seconds. He doesn’t stop to breathe and screams when I take it out of his mouth for a second to catch his breath. When the straw has sucked up the last drop, he screams. I one-hand grab his straw cup of water, to hold him over while I’m feeding C with my other hand. He takes a few sips and realizes it isn’t milk. He calms for about 30 seconds.

B starts screaming again, because he wants his solids. Sometimes I manage to give him some, but otherwise I give him a toy. He throws it, and proceeds to scream. Once C is done with her bottle that I have to hold, which takes her 5,000 years to drink, I put their solids on their tray. B will eat anything and everything, as long as it’s edible. And maybe even if it’s not. He doesn’t dislike any food, though he doesn’t show a preference for anything either. Today, and many days, I put peas, cut up string cheese, and black beans on their trays. C happily puts one piece in her mouth at a time and she’s gotten very good at this over the past week. I shove food in B’s screaming mouth. He immediately calms and hums to himself, happy as a little clam.

But then B swallows and I’m not quick enough, and he screams again. I put more pieces in his mouth, off of his tray. He plays with his food, but he shows as much interest in feeding himself the solids as he does his straw cup of milk – none. He screams in between bites, but laughs and giggles while actually eating. When he’s finally full, he calms for a few minutes.

Then, when he realizes he’s still strapped in his chair, he screams again, until I take him out. Sigh.

Who ever said “it gets easier” with twins? And why can’t my babies hold their own bottles/cups?

And I’m seriously hoping that this isn’t B’s true, extremely demanding personality. He was the EASIEST, calmest baby and now he is so challenging. I just hope this has something to do with the milestones he’s near to reaching and not a sign of the next 18 years of our lives.

*C has found a regular sippy cup with handles that she likes and she drinks water from it. She even tilts it back, so that’s great. Problem is, she won’t drink milk out of it, so meals are out of the question. Only water.

After the scream fest, snuggles with his sister:

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More on the good stuff soon!

A Day in Spaghetti

To continue our sensory play this week, I decided to try an activity with cooked spaghetti. Yes, some might think that’s absolutely nuts, but I’m all about using the senses to discover things in our everyday world. To me, cooked spaghetti was along the same line as a rice table, or dried bean activity…except this was cooked.  I did not make this up, either. There are a million blogs dedicated to toys and play for babies and toddlers. Here were a few places I found inspiration using cooked spaghetti: Here and here. I love the brightly colored rainbow pasta, and I can see how awesome this activity would be for toddlers identifying colors and textures and all that. For my 10 month olds, I used this as my basis when making this activity happen.

I didn’t want there to be too much dye in my pasta, as my babies are still in the stage where everything goes in the mouth. I know it’s called “food coloring” for a reason, but I wanted to limit the amount they may digest. I liked how Bean (in the last link) played with pasta that had a hint of raspberries, to engage the taste and smell senses. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the blueberries I might’ve used (which probably saved me a onesie or two), but I did have some already cut watermelon. So I purchased a box of spaghetti from the dollar store, cooked it up and as it cooled, added a little olive oil to keep it from sticking. I used too much oil. Sticking was not an issue. So for anyone that tries this, just a little oil will work . :)

Then I dumped the juice from the cut watermelon and also chopped up a few pieces just in case the babies wanted to taste the chunks (they love watermelon at the moment). It didn’t really make the pasta smell much, so if I did this again, I’d 1) cut back on the oil and 2) skip the fruit. Plain, white pasta would’ve been just fine! I also made this the night before and it was cool when I put it out for them.

It was a beautiful day out so I considered doing the activity outside, but didn’t want to deal with the bugs. Instead, I put down a clean shower liner on the kitchen floor for easy clean-up, plunked the babies down with a bucket of pasta and let them go to town. And this is what happened:

Tentative at first, they each put a hand in and didn’t really explore too much.

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It didn’t take B long at all to try a taste, though for the most part I don’t believe C ever did. (This might have something to do with the fact that they still don’t feed themselves their finger foods…)

 

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And once he tried it, he liked it. Clearly.

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Yes, somewhere in there B had a mini-meltdown over his bib so I decided the shirt would just be destroyed and so be it – thankfully, it’s totally fine!

C continued to just feel it with her hands, while some fell on her leg.

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One of my dogs, Riley, was having a field day with all the food on the ground and even though I tried to contain her tongue, she slipped a few licks and slurps in.

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They were having a grand time, with C concentrating pretty hard and B just going crazy with delight.

 

 

 

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Then he lifted up the bucket and I knew this activity would end soon. Thanks to the handy shower liner, I just let him go for it.

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Nothing is a mess until you have a box of slimy, cooked pasta on your floor. They weren’t even interested in playing around in it. So after a minute I decided it was time to clean up before the shower liner didn’t do its job anymore and I just grabbed the pasta with my hands and put it back in the fridge, in case we do a repeat in the next few days. While I was cleaning up, I gave them two clean buckets, and I think they would’ve been fine with just those to begin with.

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They slid on the floor so well! Maybe from the oil, maybe not..

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They got up close and personal to finish up.

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And then this happened:

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Resulting in C falling backwards, C screaming, causing B to scream, and that was officially the end of the activity.

Clean-up is a hose to the shower liner (or just throw it out), a wash of the buckets, hands and legs, and that’s it. No pasta on the floor, just some dirty buckets.

Would I do it again? Yes…but I might wait a few months until I think the babies will get even more out of it. I mean, if I’m going to give them a messy activity, I want them to get messy. Step in it, feel it between the toes, that sort of thing. C sitting there picking up one strand at a time…very cute, easy clean-up. But next time I’ll take it outside, maybe color it, maybe not, and again, go easy on the oil.

I still do love these sensory activities and am on the hunt for more, especially for babies. Yogurt as finger paint? I’ll think about it.

Almost there!

It feels like the babies are on the brink of some major milestones. I’m reminded why I need to really enjoy the baby phase (like Muppet’s mom discusses) and so I do try to keep that in mind. I have loved the snuggles, the baby smell, the tiny toes. Yet for me, I love how C deliberately puts her head on my chest and wraps her arms around my neck, whereas when she was an infant, she couldn’t do that. And sure baby skin was even softer and smelled even better when my twins were newborns, but now they laugh and when I say, “Where are the doggies?”, they whip their heads around trying to find a dog and grin. That level of understanding, for me, is where it’s at. And so I feel like with this new understanding taking place between myself and them, they’re getting close to making some serious discoveries.

Foods – Recently I recall not yet making that leap to finger foods and wondering how to go about it when the babies loved their purees so much. Well, C suddenly decided she wouldn’t touch another puree and happily went right to finger foods, no “thicker textures” necessary. I was making my own purees, so they were on the thicker side to begin with, but I never put chunks in them. Now she loves mushy finger foods especially, as most babies do I assume. I’m starting to push the envelope by adding new things with different textures little by little. Chicken is the most recent addition. C is finally starting to try feeding herself. She keeps missing her mouth, or her hand will make it to her mouth but the food will fall. But I’m pleased she continues to try. B – not so much, but then, he was content with purees as well. He’s content to be fed by me, period. He’s made the switch to the straw cup, but won’t hold it himself. C is working on a regular sippy cup with handles – she does drink water from it well, by herself. Thank goodness. But when I put the milk in it and have her attempt it at mealtime – no way. She still wants me to feed her the bottle.

I’m at a bit of a loss right now for new foods to give them that don’t involve a spoon. We still have some protein sources to go, some veggies to go, but if it involves a spoon, they’re out for the time being.

As for movement, again, C is making some major leaps right now. She’s still not crawling but she’s really, really close. Finally – one day about a week ago she decided to roll, at 10.5 months. And roll she does. Rolling even onto her stomach to sleep for naps, which for her is unheard of. Flopping all over the living room floor. Wanting to pull up on things. So, she’s getting there. As for B – when I hear people say, “My baby skipped crawling and went right to walking. He/she only scooted around/army crawled.”, I’m confused because to me – any movement in which child gets from point A to point B I consider crawling, even if it doesn’t look exactly right. So my question is, can a baby COMPLETELY skip crawling/scooting/sliding/army crawling and go straight to walking? Because that’s what B wants to do. He is only happy when standing, he is pulling up more and more, and he’s using my hand to turn himself around (while standing) and take steps toward something he wants. We’ll see. Sometime soon, all these changes will take place. And I’m not RUSHING it…but at the same time, I want these things to happen. B is 3 pounds away from maxing out the weight on my changing table – the boy needs to move on his own. This mommy is ready.

Thanks to Pinterest, I’ve come across some fun little activities for babies in the summer months. As usual, my babies get sick of their toys (or is it just me?) and I try to only bust them out once or twice a day. The rest of the day, for my own sanity, needs to be something different. So this week I’m trying out a few new (but yet so uncomplicated) sensory activities to keep them interested and curious and keep myself from falling asleep on the floor.

So with today’s hot and sticky weather, we had some good fun splashing around outside with some dollar store bins and colored ice cubes.

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It started out all nice, with the babies happily splashing while wearing their hats. Until they realized they were wearing hats (hence the tie in C’s mouth). Then there were double meltdowns, and the options for me were to either end the activity or go without hats. So with sunscreen slathered on, the play continued.

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I found it interesting that B was all into the water today, while C quickly took her bin and dumped the water out, turning it into a drum.

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After that became boring, I brought out the colored ice cubes which happily did not stain any clothing (though they wore some PJ extras just in case). This was a fun fine motor activity and B especially loved it.

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I dumped out the bin after a while and got him some fresh water and ice cubes, making the water really cold, but he didn’t seem to mind.

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C decided to use her bin to try and stand, all the while leaning forward to eat kiss her brother. She doesn’t get that her open mouth means nothing to B, except to maybe smack her with his hand.

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Luckily, the twins like water. This wasn’t our first mini-water activity. In fact, a few days ago after breakfast I kept them in their high chairs and poured some warm water on top of their high chairs, threw a towel down on the floor and let them splash away. I also added a drop of food coloring. That day, C was into it but B less so.

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These little activities remind me of teaching, a lost art that I will be returning to in a few months. Planning an activity, getting the supplies, and executing it. And I like that – it makes the day exciting knowing that I have something planned for the twins to do. On the list for the rest of the week: sensory bags, spaghetti play, and a yogurt/food coloring snack/play…thing. I could never come up with some of these things myself. Thanks, Pinterest.