From Play Area To Playroom

When we moved in October last year, the girls were just about to turn 2 and I organized the house into play areas for them. One main advantage of the play area was that they had a place to play on the two levels of the house and could be with us no matter where we were. 

However, as the girls have become more mobile over the last 10 months, so have their toys. The house slowly became a huge toy zone that was a mess faster than I could pick-up. It was time for a change in our toy organization. 


 

Lesson 1: Be flexible. What works for 2 year olds does not necessarily work for 3 year olds. 

Lesson 2: Recognize their changing abilities. The play areas worked for my 2 year olds but as 3 year olds they are stronger and faster. Which means their toys can be carried and spread further around the house

The solution: A PLAYROOM

Do I have a room to convert into a playroom? At first glance, no. But I hate having un-used rooms in my home and the formal dining room was definitely unused but perfectly positioned to be a playroom. It's close enough to the kitchen and living room for us to hear them and for them to play independently while still knowing we are nearby.

The fix: Swap the play area in the living room with the dining area. We moved the dining set to one end of our "very long" living room and converted the formal dining room into a playroom. 

We now have a playroom and toy clutter is now (mostly) confined to that portion of the house. We still have the kitchen table where we have most meals and haven't lost use of dining set either. WIN-WIN

UPDATE: I just realized that these pics are a bit dated. I have since added a rug to protect the hardwood floors as well framed pictures of family members.

Weekend Bloggy Reading

How (not) To Fit Your Toddlers For Shoes

This post may or may not be based on personal experience

HOW NOT TO FIT YOUR TODLERS FOR SHOES
  1. Asking "do your shoes feel tight?" they are babies. they love to say noeven when they don't understand the quetion
  2. Pinch the front to feel for their toes. Just because you can't feel their toes doesn't mean jack
  3. Refuse to get a fitting in a shoe store because last time you went, the associate didn't know how to use the foot measuring thingie and was reading it upside down - really brown shoes?!
  4. Wait for kid's foot to get a blister, gasp, fell a rush of guilt, rush to the guest room closet and bring out their next-size-up shoes
HOW TO FIT YOUR TODDLERS FOR SHOES

Does the shoe have a removable insert? Adidas sneakers do as part of their Adifit. With that, you can simply place the kid's foot on the insole of the shoe and see if it fits or not. The old shoes were the Tsukihoshi brand and they had this removable part as well. 

I'll be looking out for this removable insole in all the kiddie shoes I buy going forward. Here's Ms Spice (the non-blistered baby) showing the comparison between her old and new shoes. See the difference in where are toes sit? That's the very small gap between comfort and blisters when it come to kids' shoes.



We are now officially in size 9 shoes y'all




First Day of School Tips for Twins

Summer's drawing to a close and a lot of kids are heading back to school including those of the twin variety. Add to that the fact that I just switched the girls to a new daycare and I thought I would repost my first day of school article from just over a year ago. 

"Since we're living in our third city in 3 months and also attending our 3rd daycare within the same time span, I just may know a thing or two about easing the daycare transitions. My number one tip for starting the daycare (and eventually school) life right for twins is helping the adults around them see and treat them as individuals.

Any twin parent will tell you that the position comes with some novelty and celebrity status. I've enjoyed that for the most part. However, when it comes to being around their peers, I don't want my daughters to be "the twins!". I want them to be seen as individuals. Here's what I've done every first day in a new childcare environment
  1. Dress them differently even if they're fraternal. A lot of people are stuck on the stereotype of twins looking so alike that it's hard to tell them apart. For the first few days of daycare, I dress them differently and make a note of telling the teacher who's wearing what. By the third day, a good caregiver can comfortably tell them apart
  2. Spell out their name. I have a Nigerian name and so do my kids. In a public place where names are being called, I can always tell when it's my turn. A perfectly literate adult sees my 7-letter name and starts sighing, mumbling and looking flustered. 7 letters people! For me as an adult, it's a good party joke. For kids, it could be the difference between fitting in and being teased and/or bullied. If the teacher can pronounce their names as a matter of fact, the other kids will follow suit. If the teacher makes a fuss about their names being "funny" the other kids will also pick up on that. My solution is to spell out the name. A plus to this is also that you can define what you want the kid to be called versus being at the mercy of a teacher-chosen nickname.
  3. No personality tips. Because Sugar and Spice have such contrasting personalities, it's easy for me to label them and pass the label along to other caregivers. Not a good thing in my opinion. I let the caregivers know the girls' preferences for their physical comfort and that's it. So I don't say for example Spice is a picky eater. I simply say Spice likes to have 6oz of milk in her sippy before her solids.
Here's an example of the note that accompanies each girl on their first day of daycare."
Not much, but it's made a huge difference. What say you?

3 from 3

I was sitting down and thinking the girls will soon be 33 months. Then I got into flustered mode when I realized that meant they are 3 months away from their 3rd birthday. That means we've already survive 75% of the "terrific" twos. This is enough to make a twin mom break the seal on a mid-sized Jack Daniels. But before I make Jack my new best friend, I thought I'd do a 33 month update for the girls

The physical data
Ms Spice weighs 27lbs and is just under 36in tall. That's around 30th percentile for both weight and height. 
Ms Sugar weighs 26lbs and is 36in tall. That's around 17th percentile for weight and 35th for height
Both girls are in 3T clothes and size 8-9 shoes (depending on brand)

Food and nutrition
In the past month, their appetite has practically doubled and we're going through a very good phase in food right now. This mama couldn't be happier. I think part of the reason for this is that I stopped trying to get them to eat a wide variety of foods (including the ones I don't like or have never eaten). It seems they share my taste in foods and respecting that has diminished all the mealtime battles

Potty
Spice is all day and night trained. Sugar is daytrained but is still in diapers for nighttime. Occasionally she can make it through naptime without a diaper

Naptime
Speaking of naptime, it's become synonymous with tear-the-room-up-and-do-everything-but-sleep time

Television
I held out against Dora for as long as I could but the little chica has finally won. The girls love her and to be perfectly honest, I find it's been quite educational for them. I just wish they didn't learn how to say "Oh men!" a la Swipper

Language
Spice is still noticeably ahead when it comes to language and communication skills but Sugar is not so far behind that we're worried. Currently we're increasing the number of polite phrases - excuse me, you're welcome, may I have some etc - in their repertoire. My favourites are "ski me mama, I want some more cereal priss" translation "excuse me mama, I want some more cereal please" - I confess that makes me beam with pride shamelessly. My second most favorite is when one says "thank you" and says "you're wehcome!"

Toys and Play
Love their play food and utensils, playing throw-ball and kick-ball, writing their letter (or rather me holding their hands and writing their letters). They're also learning to count to twenty - unlucky 13 and 14 get skipped more often than not

Fashion
The girls have started asking to wear necklaces. So help me God.



Twin Dynamics
Up until a few months ago, the girls were wombmates, roommates, housemates and even classmates. Now I can definitively see that they are best friends. They like to hold hands. They share favorite foods with each other. When one sister is in time-out, the other is worried and apologizes for her sister. When one sister cries, the other dries her tears and tells her "don't cry". 

Those moments are worth all the weight gain and worries of 10 twin pregnancies

Now I just need to start planning a 3rd birthday party and "blackmailing" the aunties to fly down to Calgary. 

With love to the care providers who love

Last week when I dropped the girls off in daycare, Sugar shooed me out of the room and Spice went off to play immediately.

Today, they both ran excitedly to one of their teachers to show off their pouches of apple sauce. They barely managed to say goodbye to me as they chatted excitedly with the teacher. She told me I could leave them in her class even though she wasn't their regular teacher.

How is a mother supposed to feel?

I felt really good!


See, the girls just started a new daycare and they've had a hard time adjusting. Everyday they begged me to take them to the old daycare and my heart broke just a little. Transitioning to a set of unfamiliar faces is hard. This happened for a month until last week when they ran into the daycare smiling. When the teachers were genuinely happy to see them (even the ones that were not their primary caregivers.) 

As we've attended several daycare centers,  I've seen this happen every single time and it never gets old. It's always heart-warming for me when I see the girls form a bond with their caregivers and when I see their caregivers fall in love with them for their personalities. 

There's no need to search too far into the internet before encountering the mothers who think sending your kids to daycare is almost as evil as having them crawl into a busy highway with no knee-pads. That's not me! Me, I appreciate the blessing of my children receiving love and favor from strangers around them everyday. I'm happy that they love and are loved in return. I have every reason to love and appreciate the daycare and preschool teachers who have the skills and patience to love the hoards of toddlers that pass through their lives. 

I got two two-year olds and I know that can't be easy.

Sunday Shorts - Hidden beauty

When I picked up my CSA vegetables last week, the farmer had included a flower. I mentally rolled my eyes at the humble package of "twigs" wrapped in brown paper.

I got home, rinsed out a bottle in the recycling bin and plunked the flower in it. 2 days later, this started happening

Foto friday

The girls still trying to recover from jetlag took an unplanned nap on the couch. Confession: I joined them after taking this pic. Naps are so awesome, I wish they still believed that!

Keeping Up with the Grandparents

From my last 2 posts, you can deduce that we're just returning from a trip to London. Yes, I got on a plane with 2 year old twins and flew 9 hours so we could hangout with their grandma, aunties and cousins. Why? Well let me share a little about me with you.

I'm Nigerian. I grew up in Lagos, Nigeria surrounded by cousins, aunties, uncles and grandparents. We didn't need an excuse to get together. Every summer, once school was out all the kids called each other and planned how we were going to spend our holidays in all the different homes. It wasn't unusual to sometimes have up to 10 of us kids in a house at a point in time. It was fun and it was taken for granted. Things have changed since then.

For a myriad of economic reasons, a lot of us have left Nigeria (home) for better jobs and lifestyles in the UK, US and Canada. The sacrifice of having to learn to abide in a new cultures pales in the face of watching our kids grow up without that family support structure we took for granted. So we have to do something about it. We have to be more intentional about the choices we make regarding kids and family. 

For our family we have made a few resolutions concerning this. One such resolution is for the kids to have a good relationship with their grandparents. The kicker? The grandparents all live in Nigeria and we are currently living in Calgary, Canada. More than a few miles separate us physically. 

Here's what we're doing to make it happen for us

  1. Make it a family goal: The TwinDad and I actually agreed that our kids having a relationship with our parents was a priority for us
  2. Set S.M.A.R.T objectives: Specific.Measurable.Achievable.Time-bound. Our S.M.A.R.T goal? The twins must see at least one of their grandparents every year. Either they come to us or we go to them
  3. Allocate the funds: Does your family have an annual budget? After taking care of the essentials on our annual family budget, the next priority is allocating the funds to cover the equivalent of a trip to Nigeria for all 4 of us. Sometimes this requires a bit of sacrifice; that's why it's good to set the goal first and make it priority.
  4. Allocate the resources: A means for video calling (I strongly recommend Apple's Facetime for video quality). Good home wifi. Have family members take pictures with the kids so the kids can look back and recognize they've always been the loved members of a family group. Make photo albums with family photos for the kids to look at and ask questions. Hang up photos on the wall so the kids see that extended family is part of their home. 
  5. Allocate the time: Set aside the time at regular intervals (weekly, fortnightly or monthly) for the video calls so the kids can put a face to the name. With the 7 hour time difference between Calgary and Lagos, we've found that weekends work best for us.
Grandma and her girlies

The perks? The joy that the grandparents and grand-kids have in each other's presence. As Visa would say, PRICELESS!
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