Reflections On Twin Parenting

Thursday, 26 March 2015

Before I had twins, I only had one friend with twins. Since having my twins, I have amassed a large group of twin mom friends in real life and online. And recently, I heard from two different friends -- each of whom already with an older son -- now expecting twins as well. Twins are taking over!!! It got me thinking of what I should say to someone expecting twins now that I have made it nearly five years from when I was first pregnant with my twins. I have never been anything other than happy and grateful for having had twins. There were/are challenges yes, but it has been a beautiful, special experience. While I can't speak to having twins after having an older child, here are my reflections on twin parenting.

(This post is especially for you J -- having twins is amazing and I promise you will love it!)


#1 It's different

Having two babies is not the same as having one. Life with twins will be easier if you just accept and embrace that fact. And don't make comparison to other moms and babies, even your own prior experience with your first child. If you're anything like me, you will probably have to slow down during your twin pregnancy. Other mothers run marathons while pregnant. Well, not me or most twin moms. I could barely move near the end (click here for an amazing gallery of twin bumps - I'm in the 37 weekers). However you feel while pregnant or after your babies are born, it is okay. Don't get too caught up in how singleton moms are doing/feeling (or how it was with your first baby). Embrace twin pregnancy and parenting, and find other moms of twins when you have those twin specific questions like "how do I feed two babies" and "should my twins be in the same or different classrooms".

#2 It's not easy to get around

I barely left the house for the first 4 months. And after that I only left the house when I had Matt or my mom to help (for, like, the first 18 months). My girls were born in winter, so there really weren't many places to go. That said, it was just hard to get out with the demanding feeding schedule not to mention all of the baby gear involved in having two babies (click here to see how I used to travel). I remember being envious of other new mothers who were at brunch or yoga with newborns. I just could not do those things. But in time, I started to get out more and life started to get back to normal. Getting out with twins will attract a lot of attention but that's a whole other story.

#3 Get help

Accept as much help as is offered to you, and if you find yourself needing more help then don't feel bad about it. I had so much help from Matt, my mom and the rest of our family members. If I ever needed a break, they made sure that I got one. There were difficult days, surely but I never felt overwhelmed or isolated.

The one person who was also very helpful to me was a lactation consultant. She was very supportive and never made me feel badly about my lack of milk supply. She did everything she could to support me in giving my girls as much breast milk as possible. She set up a very functional schedule, which I still credit with establishing excellent sleeping patterns for my girls. Find people like this -- whether they are family members, night nurses, nannies, etc -- and keep them around as much as needed.

#4 Set boundaries

For your own sanity, it is okay to set boundaries. If it's too stressful to go out, don't feel pressured by other people to do so. I got all kinds of weird/rude/unnecessary comments about when I did or did not go out or why I kept my babies on a strict schedule and on and on. The truth was those boundaries were there for my own sanity (and were also in the best interests of my babies). I got through that initial crazy newborn phase because I was very committed to a schedule. No matter how much I would have wanted to feed on demand, my babies ate on a strict schedule. The same with sleep. The schedule worked for me and my babies, so I paid no attention to what other people had to say about it. It was sometimes hard to say no when there were outside pressures or even things that I wanted to do but didn't feel ready for or capable of. In the end, I trusted my own instincts and only did things that we could handle.

#5 Do what works for you

The theme recurring in all of my reflections is that twins are different and you should do what works for YOU. What worked for your friends may not work for your twins. What worked for your first baby may not work for your twins. Even what worked for other twins may not work for your twins. All babies are different and twin babies only magnify that fact. For me, being very scheduled made my job as a twin mom more manageable. I firmly subscribed to the 1 up, 2 up and 1 eats, 2 eat philosophy of twin parenting and I kept a diary of everything. My girls were sleeping 12 hours a night by 6 months old and were generally easygoing babies. That's what worked for us. It may not work for you. My advice is to find what works for you, and be unapologetic about it. It's not easy to be easygoing when you have two babies (plus an older child)!

***

I hope those reflections are helpful to anyone out there expecting twins. They're not really the most practical pieces of advice. I could give you those too; however, back to point #5 -- different things work for different families. I'm trying to convey that the twin experience is unique and should be celebrated rather than treated as a problem to solve. The fact is I terribly miss having two infants and would give anything to go back to those days of changing diapers. Not to say I don't love this stage. I do and as a matter of fact, I think 4 might just be the best age ever. They are sweet, smart and self-sufficient. And while all the logistics of having twins are much easier now, the more challenging issues are arising at this age. They are starting to pay more attention to each other and competition/comparison is arising. I think we are at a stage where we have to be very mindful of treating them like two unique individuals and making sure the rest of the world does the same thing.

My girls love each other fiercely! I couldn't imagine anything more beautiful than the bond they share. I can only hope that the bond will last into adulthood. It's a privilege to be their mommy and I wear the twin mom badge proudly.


We've come along way, baby babies


***

Here are some other posts related to twin parenting:

If you're a regular reader, then you may remember when I shared my mom's pasta sauce recipe - click here to revisit it. I'm lucky because my mom regularly makes her amazing sauce for us which means I don't really ever have to make it myself. Sometimes she even gives us more than we can use, which is how this meal came to be since it would be a shame to waste any of her sauce.

We got this particular batch of sauce on a Saturday, I made pasta and meatballs with it on Sunday and by Tuesday I wanted to use the remaining sauce to make something other than pasta. And so I made chicken parmesan with the sauce but without any breading.



This is what I did… I took four chicken breasts and used a knife to butterfly them. I seasoned the chicken with salt and pepper. Then I filled the centres with freshly grated mozzarella cheese, chopped basil and chopped garlic as well as a generous spoonful of the sauce. I wrapped each breast in aluminum foil and them placed them in a 350 degree oven for 20 minutes. Then I checked them added some more cheese on top and let them cook another 20 minutes. I topped it off with more of my mom's (reheated) pasta sauce, paired it with salad and that was our simple yet delicious dinner.

My girls also ate this except I did not include any garlic or basil in their chicken. I also chopped the chicken breast into manageable pieces before serving it since sometimes they won't eat something if they perceive it to be too big. In total they each had about 8 bite sized pieces on their plate with some extra sauce for dipping. It was a winning family dinner! 

If you ever have extra tomato sauce on hand, I highly recommend this for a quick-ish weeknight dinner. And if you don't have an amazing mom to make your sauce, Palma Pasta is a great place to pick up great tasting tomato sauce. It's pretty much the only place I will buy sauce and other pre-made pasta dishes. They have locations all over the GTA. I like to pick-up a fresh lasagna from there every now and again myself.

Speaking of my mom, it's her birthday this weekend! HAPPY BIRTHDAY MOM! I got to thinking when my mom was my age (I'm 36), I was 16 years old. My parents were so young when they got married and had kids. This pic is from my high school graduation when I was 17 and my mom was 38. Look how young and hot she was!!! By the time my girls are graduating from high school, I will be 50 gah!

My high school grad ceremony in 1996

Me at 16 years old - the year my mom was my age now



Boom Boom Boom!

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Do you remember the song Alice the Camel? She has 5 humps. Go Alice go! Boom boom boom! My girls must have learned the song at school recently. I mention it because -- not only is it one of those things that they have learned which brings me back to my own childhood -- but because it's the central part to a funny story. This is one of those stories that may not be fun for outsiders to read, I just want to document and remember it (so bear with me).

It goes back to the change to Eastern Daylight Time which occurred on March 8th. Time changes are notoriously problematic with young children. My girls have generally been okay with transitions but I have always dreaded the time changes. This year, the first day of the time change went well and I thought we maybe managed to escape any of the madness time changes can cause young children (rookie mistake). The Monday following the time change comes and the girls are sound asleep at 7am. Usually they are up by 630am at the latest, with boundless energy. I let them sleep until about 710am which is the latest we can go without making them late for school. They got up, were groggy and dragged their little feet as we went about our morning routine. When I picked them up from school later that same day, they seemed like they were holding up okay. We did our normal after school Monday routine which included snacks, changing into ballet gear and driving over the ballet school. Everything was still on track.

After ballet, that's when things started to unravel. Time change related over-tiredness kicked in and I don't know how to describe the girls except to say they were cuckoo. And this is when Alice comes in. They proceeded to have an argument about whether Alice has "humps" or "bumps". And it wasn't just any ol' argument. There were tears and hysterics all over Alice the Camel. "It's BUMPS!!!" followed by "no, it's HUMPS!!!!".  I wish I had captured the incident on video but I was too busy trying to calm, console and wipe tears.

They went to bed early that night.



They're back at school now after a very full March break with everything from a maple syrup festival to Frozen On Ice to princess fairytale art workshops. Four is a great age for these kinds of activities, and we had a blast.

Hipster Style For Little Girls

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

When I booked Mia and Alexa for a mini photo session over March break next week, I immediately thought HIPSTER. When I think hipster style, I think effortless cool, vintage shops and large plastic frame glasses. It's not something normally associated with little girls LOL, which is what makes it all the more adorable (to me, at least). With two little girls, we have no shortage of photos with frills, ruffles, glitter, dresses, lace and tutus. This time, I wanted something laid back and cool with none of the trappings of the traditional little girl photoshoot. This is what I have planned so far...

Hipster style photos


There were certain "must have" hipster elements for the photos:

The Statement Tee

Soft -- preferably organic --- cotton T-shirts in grey or white with quirky or ironic statements are a hipster staple. Think American Apparel...

These tees from Hip Little Tribe are especially perfect because not only do they have a twin-specific message but they also have arrows, and arrows are another popular element of hipster style.


Hip Little Tribe


Arrows, Stripes + Stars

Certain symbols are representative of hipster style. I already covered arrows with the tees. To keep the laid back style going, I picked star and stripe ribbed leggings from Zara. And again, I went with the relaxed grey colouring and very soft, relaxed cottons.

Zara

Zara

Triangles and tribal prints are also very hipster patterns.

Head Wraps + Top Knots

Hipster hair also has to be effortlessly stylish and nothing is more effortlessly stylish than a top knot. Paired with a tribal wrap head wrap, this hairstyle couldn't be anymore hipster. The head wrap in my photo is old but I found something similar below.

Aeropostale


Fringe

Fringe has been a must-have hipster accessory for a while, and now it's hitting the mainstream too (everything for Spring this year is fringe so maybe the hipsters are about to abandon it, if they haven't already?). This fringe purse from Zara is perfection.

Zara

Moccasins

Moccasins are a beacon of hipster style. They are relaxed and effortless, and the kind of thing that nobody was wearing until everybody was wearing them (again, maybe they're not so hipster anymore, who knows?!). These Minnetonka moccasins the girls have been wearing since last summer also have the added bonus of two rows of fringe.


Minnetonka



I have also debated using Chucks for the footwear but I don't think the girls have the right pair to compliment these outfits. That said, I have yet to have Mia and Alexa try on the complete outfits and so who knows what the final look will be. I may also look for a pair of plastic glasses (not real, of course). We had a pair kicking around but now I can't find them. Also in my mind is to layer some kind of open fronted printed poncho or kimono over the tees. I'm having trouble finding this, unfortunately. Zara has two different style of girl ponchos except I'm not sold on either.

Zara
Zara

Or Mia and Alexa already have these faded jean jackets, also from Zara. I love these jackets!!! My only concern in using them is that by mixing the jacket and the mocs will end up resembling too closely the vintage looking photos we did on the farm last year.

Zara

I'm probably definitely over thinking it -- I just can't help myself, I love selecting outfits for my girls and the perfectionist in me likes to think of every last detail. Luckily, Mia and Alexa are mostly happy to wear whatever I pick them. On a daily basis, I let them choose between a few different outfits which I think are appropriate (giving them the illusion of choice). They complain about wearing jeans and one time I bought Alexa the cutest jumpsuit and she hated that. It was the one thing I just could not convince her to wear. Otherwise, they are usually happy with their wardrobe. They do have strong opinions about how their hair is styled and what hair accessories they're wearing, and mostly I just go with what they want in that department.

I can't wait to see how these photos turn out. A few of my friends are participating in the mini photo sessions too, it's always so much fun to see the kids and how they've grown from photo to photo.

The Struggle Is Real

Sunday, 8 March 2015

Hello, my name is Samantha and I'm addicted to Coke Zero. Or at least I was addicted. 

I recently quit drinking all Coke products, and quitting was difficult complete with withdrawal symptoms like headaches, shaking limbs and more. The truth is I have been a Coke drinker my whole life. I can't remember a day going by where I didn't drink at least one can of Coke. Once I got older and became more calorie conscious, I switched from Coke to Coke Zero. I still loved regular Coke and would drink it on occasion but my day-to-day life always involved Coke Zero. I would drink two to three cans a day (and sometimes more). Nothing could beat popping the can and hearing the fizz then tasting the first sip of my aspartame-filled elixir. It went well with my favourite foods like pasta, pizza, Mexican food and sushi. I sometime even drank it with breakfast. No meal was complete without it. I craved it. I would want it when I was sick, tired, happy or sad. I would buy it in bulk at Costco or use my price matching skills to find the cheapest price and stock up. There was always a shelf in the fridge stocked full with my Coke Zero. People would warn me against the dangers of drinking so much aspartame but I didn't care. I rarely drink alcohol, I don't smoke and I don't do drugs. I'm not even a regular coffee drinker. Why then couldn't I drink ridiculous amounts of Coke Zero? There are worse things I could do than drink Coke Zero. 

And then I decided to quit. There's no real reason behind it. I just realized I was drinking a lot of it. I always wondered about the effects of ingesting so many chemicals and artificial sweeteners, and also about how the carbonation effects my digestion. Knowing that I would have trouble with gradually weaning myself from Coke or taking an "only for special occasions" approach, I went with full Coke and Coke Zero detox. The first two days were very difficult with many side effects. The headache was the worst part (also not the best idea to supervise a field trip with 30 kindergarteners while having Coke Zero withdrawal related headaches). After those first two days, I started to physically feel normal again even though the cravings were still strong. I have now made it a week without any Coke products and yet, I don't know if I've truly kicked the addiction for good. I miss it and I think about Coke Zero with every meal. And right now, right now I'm thinking about drinking a Coke Zero.

I've been drinking water, Perrier and herbal tea in place of Coke Zero. I've also had the occasional coffee or Vitamin Water (full calorie version) when I was really craving something sweet. On Friday night, I went to dinner and the movies with a girlfriend, and then we met our husband's at a bar. It was a real test of my willpower. Since I was driving, I couldn't even drink! Prosecco would have been a happy substitute for me in a bar. But no, I was driving. I ordered a Sprite. It was lousy. The next night we went to Lauren's to celebrate her birthday. We had tortilla chips and pizza. And again, I didn't give in to the cravings even though I desperately wanted to. I drank water and then herbal tea. On both nights, the cravings were really strong. I enjoyed some of my favourite foods and activities, and something felt missing without Coke Zero. 

Coke Zero was not only something I enjoyed with my meals, it was part of my lifestyle. Change is good, though. And I'm willing to at least try to change. I will always have this souvenir Coke with my name to remember the good times by.





More Florida

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

As you may have gleaned, we spent most of February visiting family down in sunny Florida. This was our fourth year in a row making this trip. The weather was mixed (as is usually the case), the food was amazing (also, usually the case) and the shopping was disappointing (this was a first for me, sadly). It was a great time and we made so many memories. Sunshine and family time are good for the soul!

Each year traveling with kids gets so much easier -- this year, the flights were a breeze (click here for some of my thoughts on flying with younger twins). We flew home on a flight with the Toronto FC (the Major League Soccer team). As we waited at the baggage carousel, I asked the players for a photo with my girls and they so graciously said yes. I didn't realize someone from the team also took a photo and then posted it to the team's social media accounts.



As we did last year (click here for a refresher), we spent a few days at Disney. It's nice to return to Disney as a "seasoned" traveler. This time around we spent more time on rides and attractions rather than just character meetings/meals. I found that at 3 years old the girls were just blown away by the spectacle of it all and were happy going from character to character. This year at age 4, they were much more vocal in what they wanted to do and they were eager to try it all. They still met plenty of characters (Anna and Elsa being the obvious highlight). They absolutely loved riding the Barn Stormer and Seven Dwarf Mine Train rides. Another first was enjoying the pools at Art of Animation, which were super fun. This was our second year staying at Art of Animation and if/when we return, I think I would like to try a new hotel. The only other thing I would change would be to stick with the deluxe dining plan. It's best we just acknowledge that we like to stuff our faces while on vacation... this time around we did the quick service dining plan and I found us paying out of pocket for a lot of extras whereas last year with the deluxe plan we had more than enough food.



50

Saturday, 28 February 2015

It occurred to me that today is Mia and Alexa's 50 month birthday! 


I remember counting in days then weeks then months... And now we are on our way to 5 years. 

What an adventure it has been! 

��5⃣0⃣��


It's Personal

Saturday, 21 February 2015

Through social media, I have discovered so many amazing independent online retailers. I'm especially loving the twin-specific and personalized options. The other day I shared my favourite #twinmom sweatshirt. Today, I'm sharing some great new items which I recently purchased for my girls: love yoga pants, twin tees and personalized leggings. We are planning on doing a mini photo session next month and I'd like to use some or all of these.




In my 4+ years of parenting, the availability of personalized baby and kid items has exploded. Personalized swaddles, head wraps and outfits just didn't exist then like they do now (I remember feeling like a superstar for ordering stick-on baby month labels from Picky Sticky back then and now there's an entire industry for such things). I splurged on the personalized name leggings for my girls because I feel like they are already on the cusp of being too old for something too cutesy like this and I didn't want to miss our chance entirely. 

The yoga pants and leggings are from Kennedy's Collection. The tees are from Hip Little Tribe. The knit sweaters are from Target.... because this mommy loves independent and mass market retailers alike ;)

#twinmom

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Last Fall, I ordered a #twinmom sweatshirt from Multiplicitees. I've never loved a sweatshirt more! 


Organics Delivery

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

We recently started to use an organic produce subscription/delivery service.... The produce is great and I love the convenience. We are getting one box of organic fruits and vegetables every other week. It's been going so well that I'm already considering upping to a once a week delivery. 

Very first Organics Live delivery

I get an email before delivery which lets me know the available produce for the week and then I can personalize my box online. All of the produce is certified organic and locally sourced where possible. I find the price of the box to be reasonable especially when you factor in the cost of organic produce at retail stores plus the added convenience of the delivery service.



Fresh + colourful

Also, I like the variety and quality of the produce. There are so many options to choose from -- staples like bananas and celery as well as being able to try new things like rainbow carrots. The quality of all of the produce has been great and with some things -- like the oranges -- I think the quality is better than what we often end up with when we buy at the grocery store. 




Roasted rainbow carrots and broccoli


Spinach, red coral seedlings and cremini mushrooms in this chopped salad



Blueberries, blackberries and apples with
French toast (made with our fave cinnamon toast from Cobs)


If you live in the GTA, the service I use is Organics Live. I have not been compensated in any way for this post. I'm just a regular customer and they don't know anything about this blog; I simply wanted to share. 

Do you use a produce delivery service where you live? Do you get any other subscription services? I've always been curious about Stitch Fix but they don't ship to Canada.