2012 in numbers

11 - Number of surprise valentine's day packs each girl received
10 - Total number of pounds the girls have gained (Thank God for Dapper Snappers)

9 -  Number of grey hairs this ER visit added to my head
8 -  Pairs of shoes each girl owned / owns (Mayhaps mama has a shoe problem?!)
7 - Number of suitcases we lived in for the first few months of the year
6 - Number of fruits I used in the twins' birthday fruit tray (double that for the number of mini cupcakes I ate to compensate)
5 - Number of homes we lived in the last 12 months
4 - Number of weeks spent trying to re-sleep train my girl Spice
3 - Number of photo sessions we had with professionals - So worth it (includes school pictures)
2 - super blessings living in my house
1 - super blessed mama to have seen it all this last 12 months! Hopeful for an even better 2013


Howdwedo with 2012 Goals

Why list annual goals? I believe that a vision must be written as one of the steps towards being actualized. Since I was a teenager, I've always started the new year with a list of my goals and 2012 was no exception. I had a list of parenting goals that I wanted to work towards. The year is now drawing to a close and I'm taking a look at my report card. My last update was in July and then I sorta forgot all about it until this week. 

Goal 1: Introduce the girls to at least one new vegetable every month and share the winning recipe. I definitely broadened the food repertoire of this family thanks to the girls. Not sure we got one new vegetable every month but with this I learnt that they love pieces of cucumber and tomatoes (someone musta corrupted my DNA) and are not fans of popcorn
Goal 2: Continue with regular monthly development posts with less focus on the physical data. I did this in conjunction with a project 52 (at least a picture for every week of their second year). Just received the photobook I created for all the photos and I'm glad I did this project. Those angels grew so fast!

Goal 3: Potty train the girls before their second birthday. ROFL at the naivete of the mom I was 12 months ago

Goal 4: Learn to sew. More reason to ROFL - that's roll on the floor laughing for the non-acronym inclined.

Goal 5:  Learn the basics of early childhood education and the Montessori system so that I can create a mind-nurturing home for my babies. Got rid of majority of the annoying passive-play toys and my toy-buying is now guided by the Montessori theory of play. I also toured a Montessori elementary school and decided that's not the educational route I want to take with the girls

Goal 6: Start weekly excursions to paid-for-by-my-tax-dollars places like free museums, libraries, farms etc Easily done in the summer. Not so peachy when the white stuff hits the pavement

Goal 7: Implement the divide and conquer weekends - Daddy takes one baby, mommy takes the other and we have one on one time. Nah. Didn't happen

Goal 8: Teach the girls manners. Pleases and thank yous are well-known and used

Goal 9: Incorporate Christian and biblical teachings into our daily life. The girls now recognize which book is their "bible" and that we come together and read for bedtime. I've slacked off this month but need to get back on that wagon. I was struggling with having a standard prayer that the girls will eventually commit to heart because they hear it every night. My aunt just gave the girls a very beautiful toddler prayer book for Christmas so I think we'll do better with our bedtime routine next year

Goal 10: Get the girls familiar with Yoruba language and Nigerian culture. The girls love Nigerian foods and have learnt to say good morning in Benin and Yoruba (our Nigerian languages). Outside of that, I'm not sure if they understand the other phrases I try to use. This may just be a bust.

Not too bad I dare say. Did you have goals for the year? How did it all work out? And if you have older kids, what would you say is the biggest challenge for the age 2-3? I need to start working on next year's goals. 

Sayonara peeps

Merry Christmas Peeps!

Merry Christmas to you and yours from me and mine. 

It's been such a dynamic year in parenting my two lil lovelies and I wouldn't change it for the world. There's been a shift in my relationship with this blog and I think I've reached reached the conclusion of what I set out to achieve - to pass on the lessons I learnt on parenting twins in the first two years.

Happy new year too. I'm looking forward to the promise of 2013 because of His promise.

For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 21:11

Happy 2nd Birthday To Our Friends

There's a special group of bloggers that I stalk follow - it's the blogs with twins born in the Winter of 2010 one month before or after my girls. They're all turning 2 just like us, so here's a special "Happy Birthday" to the twins of the class of 2028
It's not just twins in this group though. Also a special shout out to
And the other blogs about multiples born between October and December 2010 that I've found along the way?
Happy birthday to y'alls!

PS: Do you know any other blogs for multiples born between October and December 2010 that I missed? Please share in the comments

Extra PS: I follow a lot of super-awesome blogs asides from these ones.

99 Items to Pack When Travelling With Twin Toddlers

Okay that header is a bit of a stretch. Even though it felt like I packed 99 things plus the kitchen sink for my trip alone with the twins, it was probably a lot less. I spent weeks plotting and planning what items needed to be on my carryon for the 4+ hour flight and here's what I came up with
  1. A good bag with plenty of compartments that is either a backpack or has a very long strap - the plan is that it allows you to be "handsfree". My Eddie Bauer diaper bag meets this criteria beautifully without being too bulky.
  2. Feeding Necessities
    • Milk alternative that does not need to be refrigerated. I always travel with Pediasure but I've seen other milk substitutes in the grocery stores. TIP: Feed the kids the new milk a few days before travelling to confirm that they have no adverse reaction to it
    • Sippy cups (First Years Take and Toss is my favorite). TIP: If the kids are still using a bottle nipple, the standard ones will fit the Pediasure bottles. When the girls were younger, I bought the cheapo bottles from Walmart and carried all the nipples and rings in a plastic bag to fit over the Pediasure bottles
    • A variety of snacks - a different one for each hour. Start the trip with the least favorite and keep the favorites for later. I had to remove the snacks from their original packaging to take up less space. I've never had a positive experience with airport food so I tend to avoid it TIP: Count the full door-to-door travel time when planning the feeding and snacks. The "hungry man angry man" rules apply to little girls too
  3. Cleaning Necessities
    • All the necessary wipes: diaper wipes, boogie wipes, pacifier wipes, alcohol wipes bla bla bla
    • Double the number of diapers you would normally use if you were on land (because babies are full of surprises sometimes)
    • Change of clothes (I actually skipped this and it worked out fine going, not so fine coming back)
    • Portable or disposable changing pad. The disposables take up less space
  4. Entertainment and Comfort Necessities
    • Pacifier
    • Backup pacifier - because pacifiers like to get lost between airplane seats
    • Pacifier clip (Check that the clip is attached to string. I didn't. And didn't discover that factoid until we were mid-air)
    • Toddler ear phones: These are earphones that protect kids' hearing by not going above a certain volume level regardless of input. I ended up not using these but they were in my bag in case I needed them for watching movies or playing games on the phone. TIP: They're not the easiest to find but are stocked by Amazon US site and Chapters Indigo in Canada.
    • Favorite stuffed toy
    • Activity gear that the kids will play with independently - crayons and paper fit into this category. TIP: Test the activities at home to ensure the kids enjoy them and stay engrossed for long enough
    • 2 phones loaded with the same movies and apps that kids already know and love. This should be brought out only as a last resort because no 2 year old is going to relinquish a phone in the middle of an elmo song just because the pilot wants to land the plane. This option takes up less space and is lighter weight than DVDs and books. Didn't have to use this either; both girls were engrossed with the in-flight TV
  5. Health necessities
    • First aid essentials
    • Medicine spoons in ziplock bag
    • Medications that MAY be required. For me, that list was fever reducers, antacid and allergy medicine
  6. Mummy necessities
    • A handbag small enough to fit into the diaper bag but large enough to hold travel documents and money. 
    • Travel documents - including notarized letter from absent parent saying that the trip is approved
    • Lip balm and other beauty products that make you feel fly while you fly (you can tell the post is getting too long when I start getting cheesy)
    • Camera because what mom travels without a camera these days?!
That's not 99 items, but its a lot of stuff.
Was I over-prepared? Absolutely!
Did I use up to half of what I packed? Certainly not!
Did that make me over-confident on the return trip? Of course it did!
And how did that work out?

Well, I ran out of diapers, clean clothes and the girls' must-have breakfast bar. My heart was in my mouth the entire trip for fear of a meltdown with no solution in sight. Being over-prepared is way better. Trust me on that one.

10 Tips for Flying with Toddlers

The twins and I just had a very wonderful thanksgiving vacation with my family in CT. We're back home now and I've added "flying alone with toddler twins" to my list of twin parenting laurels. I confess that I was dreading the experience and was prepared for the worst. It actually went a lot better than I expected (I need to trust my girls more!).

Interestingly, it was a year ago that I wrote my post on flying with infant twins. Well, I can tell you that flying with toddler twins is a different ball game. Here are the lessons I learnt
  1. Choose gear that will allow you to navigate the airport "hands-free". This will depend on the age of the kids and if they need a double stroller, leash, car seats etc.  My girls had just turned 2 the day before we flew so they both had their own seats on the plane and needed carseats for the flight. My solution was to hook our two cosco scenera carseats to a double umbrella stroller, leaving my hands free. I chose to travel with the cosco scenera seats because they are lightweight and have a slim profile compared to the Britax Marathons we use on a daily basis. Tip: If using a car seat, ensure its FAA/CAA approved, will fit into the plane seats and that you know how to do a seat belt install. I didn't but luckily the stewardess did.
  2. Flight booking: When booking the flight, check the seat configuration of the plane to determine what seats will work best for your situation. Our plane has 2 seats on each side of the aisle so I went with keeping all 3 of us on the same row so that the girls could always see me. With older twins, it's worth considering seating them behind each other so instead of having 2 kids kicking the seats of random strangers, you have just 1. Tip: Airlines have a safety policy to ensure that car seats are not positioned between any passenger and the aisle. That means that on a full flight, all kids in car seats have to be seated by the window. First time I flew with the girls, the cabin crew did not enforce this rule, but they have on every other flight since then.
  3. Speaking of kicking, to make the impact less on the helpless passengers seated in front of the girls, I took off their shoes once we boarded.
  4. Speaking of clothing, dress kids in layers and their favorite clothes if possible - just another thing to keep them cheerful. Sugar and Spice currently have a thing for pockets so I dressed them up in sweat-shirts with 2 pockets. They were happy to be able to keep their hands in their pockets
  5. Airline rules on travelling with children - every airline has them. Check on the website before travelling to save yourself the heartache of being kicked off the flight. Some interesting Air Canada rules I discovered were (1) car seats are not allowed in first class (2) There is a size limit on the strollers that can be gate-checked. Most full-size double strollers cannot meet the criteria set out; only umbrella strollers can (3) For infants under 2, the child to adult ratio must be 1:1. That means even if you buy seats for twins but are travelling alone with them, you can be bounced off the flight. This rule almost tripped me up
  6. Pack a diaper bag with the sole intention of keeping the kids happy for the duration of the flight. This is a separate post for tomorrow
  7. Pack as light as possible. If the destination is within North America; plan on buying things like diapers and food at the destination. I was able to travel with just one suitcase for the 3 of us by doing this
  8. Rent your vehicle from the rental company closest to the terminal. This could save you from trying to navigate the shuttle bus with babies, suitcases and carseats. This information is usually available on the airport's webpage
  9. Don't be ashamed to milk the "twin mystique" cow. Dress them alike and cutely (may not work for BG twins. LOL!). Then hopefully random strangers can be bowled over by your cute twins and help you with your luggage (or they can glare at you for what they anticipate will be a horrible flight with 2 screaming children).
  10. Be prepared for anything. Expect the worst and hope for the best. I had security put me on the fast lane on one leg of the trip and give me a full body search on the other end. I had strangers ignore me as I struggled to move with the twins, stroller and suitcase; and I had a random stranger help carry my suitcase from the rental car station all the way to the check in desk.
Twins Rock! That was the best lesson of this trip. 

The service manager on our flight back to Calgary was a twin. As we prepared to board the plane and she observed me struggling with the carseats and double stroller, she stretched out her hands to Spice and became our angel. She spent over 10 minutes playing with Spice to keep her calm mid-flight, she got the crew to help carry our double stroller up the stairs because there were no elevators nearby, she helped carry our luggage all the way to immigration. Not because it was part of her job, but because she's a twin and I guess twinses are one big happy family. She was like a big sister-angel and her actions warmed my heart and made travelling alone with twins a sweet, poignant experience for me. I hope and pray that my girls will always find the favor of an angel to help them through situations that can otherwise be challenging.

Other Travel Essentials Worth Having

  1. CARES Child Airplane Travel Harness to turn the airplane seatbelts into 5-point harness for kids
  2. Gate Check Bag for Car Seats
  3. Stroller Travel Bag for gate-checked strollers

Gift Giving Alternative To Want, Need, Wear, Read

It was a couple of years back that I first came across the "Want, need, wear, read" gift giving mantra for parents. The idea is a way of simplifying the buying of gifts for kids and it suggests buying them
  • Something they want
  • Something they need
  • Something to wear
  • Something to read
I like this concept because for me it's a much needed guideline. I tend to celebrate special occasions with a range of gifts. I buy something then find something that will be so much better and before you know it, I have a pile of gifts. Limiting myself to a smaller number with a purpose is exactly what I need.

However, I did some thinking and decided to modify the "want, need, wear, read"  to better suit my gift-giving style. So I came up with my own little gift buying formula - Body, Mind, Soul and Spirit -  which I practiced for the first time this birthday for the girls. Here's how it worked
  • Something for the body: Similar to something to wear, but for future it can also be experiential gifts like a dance class. The twins got Cat in the Hat t-shirts and loved them
  • Something for the mind: Something that educates. I got them alphabet flashcards on a keyring - hopefully less messy than individual flash cards. They're doing very well with their numbers so its time to tackle our ABCs. The jury's still out on this one
  • Something for the soul: That's similar to something they want. The idea is simply something that comforts their soul and/or makes them giddily happy. They got replacement Sock Monkeys by Schylling (the ones I got from Walmart are already falling apart) and stuffies made by Jellycat. (I'm emphasizing the manufacturers because apparently quality matters when it comes to stuffed toys)
  • Something for the spirit: Something that benefits their spiritual life and brings them closer to God. We've started reading our baby bibles at bedtime but I wanted something with more words so I got the Jesus Storybook Bible
The girls immediately fell in love with their Jellycat stuffies. I presented the stuffed animal to each baby separately and sang happy birthday. Spice got hers first. As I turned to start singing to Sugar, she hugged her giraffe really tight, smiled at me and said "thank you mummy". My heart melted. That moment was worth a thousand giraffes.

Wise Inspired Tuesday

Ever so often, I "meet" a blog that inspires me; one of those is Krissy's B-Inspired Mama and today I have the priviledge of guest posting over there.
Do check it out. I especially enjoy her "Mama Knows Best" series which showcases wise nuggets from experienced parents. 

Since I have kids in twos, I have wisdom-sharing moments in twos as well. Samantha from Cherry Pie Twins asked me to contrubute to her "Twin Moms Wisdom" post. It's a must read if you got twins and enjoy the idea of staying sane. Pop on over and have a good read!

PS: I just survived a 4 hour flight alone with 2 year old twins! I got lots to share over the next one week.

Birthday Fruit Tray For Toddlers

Taking cupcakes to the daycare was a big part of my 2nd birthday party plan for the twins. Unfortunately, the daycare informed me that some parents had complained about their kids being given cake so birthdays had to be celebrated with fruit. Bummer! Time to change plans. I considered Edible Arrangements but their products would be better appreciated by adults. Next option? Fruits by mommy. Ha! After some consultation with google and Pinterest, I decided to make 2 fruit trays - one for each birthday girl.

Equipment needed:
Cookie cutters (from Micheal's. Buy those with sharp edges to cut fruit comfortably)
Paring knife
Cookie tray or suitable presentation container (Also bought at Micheal's)

Fruit used:
Seedless watermelon, honey dew melon, red grapes, green grapes, mini oranges, pineapple

Main tip for toddler fruit tray arrangements:
Sizing is the most important thing when making a fruit tray for toddlers. The pieces of fruit need to be either bite-sized or real big that they have to be held with 2 hands. Avoid medium sizes especially when dealing with 2 year olds - if they're anything like my girls, they'll try and stuff the medium sized pieces in their mouths, succeed and create a choking hazard for themselves

You know how the contestants on Top Chef name their dishes when presenting to the judges? Well, allow me to present:
Toddler Fruit Tray Idea
"2". The tray is named "2" because it was a "2" written in red and green grapes and surrounded by segments of mini-oranges.

Second tray is named "it's-midnight-and-I'm-sick-and-tired-of-cutting-and-eating-fruit-and-I-can't-believe-that-darn-seedless-watermelon-is-full-of-seeds". I know that's quite a mouthful so we'll just call it "fruit tray" for short. It's honeydew melon rings plus star-shaped watermelon pieces and pineapple pieces. If you squint while looking at it, it sorta looks like a smiling face.

I don't think my 2 year old diners noticed all the fancy I put on the tray but I do feel good that I "made" my girls' second birthday cake. If you'd like some more complex recipes, check out Menu-Planning Monday's linky and Sweet Sharing Monday Linky

Oh How They've Grown!

And so the countdown begins! In less than 24 hours, I'll be mom to 2 year old twins. Be generous with the tissues and the stress balls if you please

My heart is too full and all my words feel too empty for me to write a halfway decent post.

The Highs and Lows of My Second Year As a Twin Mom

In a few days, my princesses will be 2 years old. I’m all sorts of nostalgic and overwhelmed. Where did the time go? Where did my babies go? And who are these very opinionated young women living in my house rent-free?
As their birthday looms closer, I’ve been reflecting on the good, the bad and the ugly parts of my second year as a twin mom; or rather the highlights, the lowlights and the WT??? Permit me to share

The Highlights
My Project 52: To take a photo of the girls every week of their second year and put a photobook together. Looking through those photos brings so many poignant memories like the first visit to the park when they were terrified of going up the slide, the second visit to the park where my confident daredevils insisted on going on the big kid slides (and messing with mommy’s blood pressure). I"m missing photos from 4 out of the 52 weeks so I feel quite good about this.
Follow up: For this third year, I plan on doing a project 52 but this time it’ll be 52 experiences. I hope to introduce the girls to a new experience each week. I got the idea from the "52 brand new experiences" blog authored by Danielle. It would be great to add some words to next years photobook
Shopping our closets: I started reaping the dividends of buying the girls clothes a year or two ahead on clearance and off season. Whenever their wardrobe was starting to look old, I just indulged in some retail therapy via the totes full of new clothes.
Follow up: I’ve restricted myself to not buying more than 2 years ahead so after Friday (their 2nd birthday); I’ll be shopping size 4T clothes to my heart’s content. The 3T tote is already a decent collection of summer and winter basics
Teaching the girls their numbers and new words and saying "Amen" after bedtime prayers and saying "please" and "thank you" and "all done"
The Lowlights
Discipline: I haven’t fared well with having an effective discipline tactic yet. In fact, my failure fills my ears almost everyday… you see, a few months back Spice wouldn’t stop cry-whining. She went on and on and on and finally I got on my hunches, looked her in the face and said STOOOOOOOOOOOOOP! It didn’t make an impression on her but it did on Sugar. The next day, I was listening to the girls waking up in the morning. Spice started crying for me and her milk and from across the room I heard Sugar yell STOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOP! I was instantly mortified and ashamed. Of all the things she should pick up from me so fast, it had to be that. She’s been doing it ever since – yelling STOP if there’s something going on that she doesn’t like. I do appreciate having a daughter who knows to yell “STOP”; it’s a good skill to have in my opinion. I just wished she had learnt it from my good example not my bad.
Follow up: Read the 1-2-3 magic book that I’ve had for over a month now and be more intentional with discipline issues
Separating twins in school: I asked the daycare to do this when the girls moved to toddler groups in August. Well, a month into it, I noticed that the baby who was previously lagging behind in verbal skills had caught up and was thriving. The other baby seemed to have regressed and also become moody. I didn’t know whether to attribute that to
·          a reaction to not spending the day with her twin sister
·         our focusing attention on helping her sister communicate better and in the process neglecting(?) her
·         her not liking or connecting with her new caregivers/teachers
·         just happened to be going through a “wonder week?”
I didn’t have the answers and I don’t think I ever will. Regardless, I requested the daycare to put them back in the same class and we’ve already seen improvements. I still think separate classes are a positive to helping twins develop their individuality but I do not think I will try this again until they are in kindergarten
The WT..? Moments
Stranger mouth diarrhea: This moment was in the running to top this list until last week when I had another moment. Random stranger walks up to me and said “when I was a little girl I wanted to be black so I could have my hair in rows like that”. Said while pointing to the girls’ braided hair. I didn’t know how to break it to her that braided hair was not exclusive to any race (Bo Derek in 10 anyone?)
Tantrums, a month long battle with toddler diarrhea, several crib escapes… all in a year’s work!

Organizing Our Twin Toddlers' Toys

Clothes, paper and toys! The 3 banes of any home with young twins.
I’ve already sorta developed systems for taking care of excess clothes and organizing paperwork. The toys were the last (very daunting) frontier to be conquered. Our last month’s home move was my opportunity to finally organize the twin’s toys.
Here’s my 10 step program on toy organization for toddler twins
1.       STOP BUYING: At least temporarily. I had developed the habit of regularly coming home with some new toy that was guaranteed to make the girls smarter, stronger, happier etc. I had to tell myself that I am in no way compromising their future SAT scores if I occasionally visit Walmart without checking out the toy aisles
2.       TOY POLICY AND VISION: Once I stopped buying and gave myself a breather, it was time to define my toy policy. This will be my guideline for all future toy acquisitions and definitely is not a one-size fits all. For us, the toy vision I have is avoid battery-operated toys with all the obnoxious lights and sounds when possible. I want toys that encourage the girls to do more than just push a button.
3.       The second part of our toy policy is LESS IS MORE. I’ve read on a few blogs and also seen this play out with the girls – the fewer toy options they have, the better the quality of their play. They are able to focus on one activity and enjoy it for stretches of time. When I have a lot of toys laid out, they flit from one toy to the next and are crankier too
4.       DEFINE PLAY AREA: This is a function of the family’s day to day lifestyle. Where do you want the kids to spend most of their play time? A separate playroom, the family room or their bedroom? What currently works for us is 2 play areas. The first is a corner of the living room close to the kitchen so that I can keep an eye on the girls while I do kitchen-y stuff. The main play area is on the second level. We converted our fourth bedroom into a sort of playroom with a TV. This is where we spend majority of our evenings and weekends
5.       DESTASH: Once there’s a policy and vision on hand, it’s time to organise the toys currently owned.  We pruned the toys to the necessary quantity and quality viz
   a.       TRASH the toys that are irreparably broken   
   b.      STORE for future citizens of twintopia, the toys that the girls really enjoyed playing with but have outgrown
   c.       DISOWN the toys that are age appropriate but either the girls do not like or I don’t like. This is where a lot of the big lights-sounds-and battery stores went. Other toys in this pile include the Weebles which are deadly to walls and hardwood when my girls hurl them. These toys can be sold, donated or gifted but they have to go
   d.      SHELF the toys that the girls do not seem to have grown into. The Megabloks fall into this category. We’ve owned them for almost a year now and the girls have shown little interest in them. They are on a top shelf hidden away for now and I will bring them out again in a couple of months. If the girls still show no interest, they will be moved to the DISOWN pile and I’ll call it a day.

6.       ARRANGE the toys in the respective play areas. The living room toys are all toys that won’t prove to be a nuisance should we be entertaining guests while the girls are playing in the corner. Play kitchen, cleaning set, drum, xylophone and bead maze are the living room toys. All the other toys are upstairs in the family play room.
This is a work in progress but at least now that there’s a plan in place I can lift the buying ban in step 1 and start “intentional” toy acquisition.

For those interested, the list of items that I use in organizing the toys (affiliate links) includes
Extra Thick 36 Piece Foam Mat
Toy organizers in the play room for the little toys
Children's Bookshelf in the girls' bedroom
Disclosure: The living room corner looks all pretty like that because I just set it up. That tidiness is so 30 days ago :).

Green Toys Build-A-Bouquet Review

According to the parenting experts, stacking blocks is a developmental milestone for children between the ages of 1 and 2. So like any parent who spends far too much time on Babycenter and parenting blogs, I bought my twins a set of nesting/stacking blocks just after their first birthday. They chewed on them, kicked them but would not stack ‘em so when it was time to move in February, I conveniently forgot to pack the blocks.
2 months later, I repented and bought another set of blocks and these ones had a “Cat in the hat” theme. Surely NOW the girls would stack ‘em like smart babies are supposed to do? No! They threw them, stood on them (and fell off them) but would not stack them. I was not impressed and decided that stacking was just one skill my girls were not interested in developing so when I got a chance to review a free Green Toys Build-a-Bouquet, I wasn’t expecting much.

  Straight out of the box, the girls couldn’t figure out how to stack the pieces so I had to give them a demonstration. Quite a bit of fine motor skills is involved in putting the pieces into each other and initially the girls struggled with this and there were some tears of frustration. 15 minutes later, we had our first flower bed built and I showed the girls how to take the flowers apart and store them in the box. Game over for the day?! No. Spice went back and spent the next 20 minutes building her own flower tower. I was so impressed that I pushed back bedtime just to watch her play.
It’s been a couple of months now since the Build-a-Bouquet playset became a staple in our playroom and it has jumped to number 1 on my list of best toys for 2 year olds. It’s the one toy that the girls ALWAYS head for and play with for at least 10 minutes at a time. Like I said, I had little expectations from this eco-plastic garden but my expectations have been exceeded – whoever designed this toy got it right and all the 5 star ratings on Amazon give testament to that. I plan on reviewing the Green Toys’ catalogue to pick out Christmas gifts for the girls
Disclosure: I got a free Build-a-Bouquet playset for review. This mama loves her freebies, but they do not influence the content of my posts.  

Tantrum In Progress

 Letter To The Mom I Was in August 2012; with 21 Month old Twins

You survived the meltdown of the century.
Not trying to scare you or anything,
but there's plenty more where that came from.

 This is the letter number 30 in my "31 letters to a twin mom" series.

This Time Will Be Different

 Letter To The Mom I Was in March 2010; One Month Pregnant with Twins

You're pregnant! 
The home test kit said so. 
The doctor confirmed it. 
You should be happy. 

I wish you would be happy; but I know you're scared. 
It's been a long five years; 
and you've learnt that a positive pregnancy test does not lead to a baby. 
Nor does a doubling beta HCG. 
Nor does making it to the end of the first trimester. 

I know it's hard to be ecstatic when only a year ago you watched helplessly as your little boy grew angel wings
I wish you could hear me now; I would tell you to trust.
Trust God that He's got it all under control 
Trust your body that it can successfully nourish this pregnancy. 
Trust your babies that they are as eager to be with you as you are them. 
This time will be different!

Do you remember the first month of your pregnancy? If you could go back in time, what would you tell yourself? 

31 Letters to a Twin Mom

Like I did last year, I'm going to spend the month of October participating in 31 days of change being hosted by the Nester blog. My topic for this October? 31 letters to the twin mom I have been over the last 31 months. It's a reflection of the good, the bad and the "what the...?" 

So for the 31 days of October, I'll have:

  1. One month pregnant with twins - This time will be different
  2. Two months pregnant with twins - Courage and stupidty
  3. Three months pregnant with twins - Pregnancy style 101
  4. Four months pregnant with twins - Twin pregnancy is scary business
  5. Five months pregnant with twins - A blog is cheaper than a shrink
  6. Six months pregnant with twins - Murphy was a woman pregnant with twins
  7. Seven months pregnant with twins - Read the return policy
  8. Eight months pregnant with twins - Let 'em bake
  9. Brand new mom of twins - The day my life changed
  10. Mom of 1 month old twins - Post-partum hormones are dangerous
  11. Mom of 2 month old twins - Breastfeeding twins is hard AND possible
  12. Mom of 3 month old twins - Just the three of us
  13. Mom of 4 month old twins - Sleeptraining is not for wimps
  14. Mom of 5 month old twins - Twin mom vs Octopus
  15. Mom of 6 month old twins - Babies are mini-bites of God's love
  16. Mom of 7 month old twins - Don't think too hard mama
  17. Mom of 8 month old twins - Shakespeare said it best
  18. Mom of 9 month old twins - Honoring 2 cultures
  19. Mom of 10 month old twins - Mom, Imma let you finish
  20. Mom of 11 month old twins - Everything you need's in the suitcase
  21. Mom of 12 month old twins - Home is where the heart is
  22. Mom of 13 month old twins - Babies will eat anything
  23. Mom of 14 month old twins - Enjoy both the little things and the big things
  24. Mom of 15 month old twins - Keep calm eh?!
  25. Mom of 16 month old twins
  26. Mom of 17 month old twins - Dear stranger
  27. Mom of 18 month old twins - Are you smarter?
  28. Mom of 19 month old twins - First summer in Calgary
  29. Mom of 20 month old twins
  30. Mom of 21 month old twins
  31. Mom of 22 month old twins 
The numbers actually work out perfectly! The girls will be 23 months in October and 2 years old in November. I think I am transitioning into a new parenting era and this series will give me an opportunity to reflect on the era ending. 

Hope you stick around to enjoy; I'm having fun writing it!


6 Discipline Tips That Work For Twin Toddlers

These two smiling faces are the ones that come to my mind when I think of where I want to take my girls behaviour-wise in a year's time. Their mommy in my opinion is a great example of the balance I am trying to achieve with Sugar and Spice when it comes to discipline. Her style is firm but not stiffling. Her girls are lively AND well-behaved. I was tickled pink when MandyE agreed to share her discipline tips in this guest post. Read, enjoy and be blessed!

When Olusola asked me to write on the topic of discipline, I was at once honored and scared.  While I think our 3 ½-year old twin girls are generally well-behaved, I feel like a pretty far cry from an expert on the art of discipline.

I’m here to share a few of the overarching tenets of what has worked for us over the past couple of years.  I don’t know that there are any “answers” here, but I hope it might spur some dialogue.  The only thing I’m certain of is that there’s no one right answer, and we can all learn at least a little something from each other.

1.  Use positive phrases

I read this somewhere when our girls were much smaller, that children respond better to a phrase such as, “Hands off!” versus “Don’t touch!”  It sometimes requires some thinking in how to phrase something more positively, but I think it makes sense.

I’m telling my girls what they can / should do, instead of what they can’t do.

It certainly makes for a more positive atmosphere at our house, and I think that’s good for all our psyches. 

Further, I try to reserve saying “NO!” for situations in which it really matters, like when someone is in danger.  I like to think that, since the girls don’t often hear that command, it makes much more of an immediate impression.

2.  Give choices

In keeping with the positive lexicon, I try to give my girls choices when I can…choices that all result in my desired outcome, of course.  My favorite example is, instead of saying, “Don’t stand on the sofa,” I tell the girls, “Get your bottom on the seat or your feet on the carpet.”  Either is a win.

3.  Position your children to succeed

Since our girls were infants, we’ve adhered to a daily schedule for meals, naps, and bedtime.  Given that, I can project when our girls will be more attentive, and when they’re more likely to fidget and not follow directions.

It’s not always convenient with what I want to do, but I don’t take my girls out when they’re hungry or tired.  If naptime is approaching, it’s not fair of me to expect them to behave as they would mid-morning, when they’ve just had a reenergizing snack.

Likewise, I’m not going to take my girls browsing for fine china by myself.  There are too many temptations, and a small misstep (which is going to happen occasionally!) could have huge ramifications.

Finally, I go back to the idea of options.  For example, I don’t think it’s realistic to expect a child to go into a store and literally not touch one single thing.  I tell the girls that they can touch things with one finger.  “One finger, please!” I’ll remind them as they start to reach for something bright and shiny.  That gives them a little bit of autonomy…but – excepting a china shop – touching most things at Target or the grocery store with one finger is generally pretty harmless.

4.  Pick a method of punishment that has meaning relative to your child’s age

When the girls were small, I spent a lot of time distracting them from undesirable behavior.  I can’t remember the exact moment in time, but at some point – maybe 18 months or so? – consequences-based discipline began to make sense.  If our girls threw a toy, that toy was put into “time out” for a period of time.  If our girls took their shoes off in the back of the car, they had to be carried into the restaurant instead of being allowed to walk.

I first tried using time-outs when our girls were about two, but it seemed like a huge game to them.  They were much closer to three when they started to dislike time out…and I silently threw a little party!

After consulting with a handful of more experiences mamas, I decided to employ the “1-2-3 Magic” approach, by which a child get two reminders for minor infractions before she’s put into time out.

A big tenet of this methodology is that the adult is to maintain her cool, counting infractions without emotion.  I repeat to myself so often, “Never let ‘em see you sweat.”  This is meant to reinforce to the child that it’s her actions that are resulting in the consequences.  And I think it helps avoid children seeking attention – especially negative attention.

5.  Respond to positive behavior, and do not respond to negative behavior

I praise my girls when they are behaving nicely.  I try not to go overboard…I don’t want to have them constantly seeking affirmation…but when they use nice manners, for example, I’ll acknowledge it by saying, “Thank you for asking so nicely.”

On the other end of the spectrum, I saw a quote from a friend a few months ago, oddly very related to parenting.  “I do not respond to terrorism.” 

If our girls try to demand more milk, their words will be met with a certain raised eyebrow, or perhaps a blank stare.  They are quickly (and silently) reminded to reword their request.

If our girls whine, I’ll calmly remind them, “I need you to use your big-girl words.  Mommy can’t understand whining.”

And…especially thinking about those tantrums that can be indicative of the two’s and three’s (and beyond???)…the crying doesn’t phase me.  Of course it does sometimes phase me, at which point you’ll find me repeating, “Never let ‘em see you sweat…I do not respond to terrorism…this, too, shall pass…bedtime will be here in three more hours.”  J  I’m mostly kidding, though.  At least to date, when our girls see that they won’t get their way with tears, they snap out of it pretty quickly.

6.  Be realistic

Kids are kids.  I sometimes have to remind myself that my three-year old may be able to recite the Pledge of Allegiance, but she’s still only three...still largely motivated by what she wants, when she wants it.  It’s my job to help her shape her actions, but it’s all relative. 

Wow…I didn’t plan to write a book of my own here!  If you’re still with me, thank you for reading. 

At the end of the day, we are all finding our way through raising our children.  Every child is different, and we often have to work to figure out what works with each of our kiddos.  I’d love to hear your thoughts on these topline points.  What’s worked at your house?
Mandy's Thing 1 and Thing 2
Now THOSE are what I consider simple and achievable tips that can actually set a parent of twins (and singleton) toddlers up for success. Do me a favor please, stop  by Mandy's blog and tell her "Thank You" for me

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