In Search of Work Life Balance

Every working mother is in the unending race to find work life balance and I am not exempt from this. With time,  I've found some tips and strategies that work for me. Over the next month, I'd love to share those tips in the hope that it can be a blessing to some other mother in my situation. An added bonus is that my blogging has been so sporadic, hopefully this will give me the much needed jolt to go back to a more regular posting schedule.

I'll also be sharing here at the nester's annual 31 days of change linkup. I know I swore I would never do this again after I did it in 2011. Still I did it in 2012 and vowed to NEVER try this again; but here I am in 2013 planning to post for 31 days consecutively. What can I say? I'm a sucker for self-punishment.



Click button to read other posts in this series

The 3rd Birthday Gift List

Regardless of how much I freak out in disbelief, I can no longer hide from the fact that I have a third birthday party to plan for my princesses. Yep, third birthday. Do you remember back in the day when they couldn't even crawl?

I've been feeling pretty nostalgic these days but apart from that, I've also been working on a gift list for the girls that will cover their birthdays in November and Christmas in December. I'm very happy to be using my "Body, Mind, Soul and Spirit" gift buying policy as a guide. Thankfully, the list is taking shape. I like to start buying early so I can space out all the purchases leading up to the big day. Here are the options I'm looking at right now based on the girls' interests and my pocket book



Something for the body  
  • Doctor and fireman dress up costumes. So far, the Fisher Price doctor kit is my front contender
  • An indoor trampoline to help us survive the long indoor days of Calgary winters. Not likely because I don't have room for this and it just looks like one of those flaky ideas I occasionally get
  • Non-metallic jewelry for Ms Spice. She's already a little fashionista and loves her bling



Something for the mind (Something that educates)  

  • Jigsaw puzzles with 10-25 pieces. I already got a 3-pack of Dora puzzles from Walmart so this is done
  • Kiddie tablets or electronic readers. These were a very distant option until I got a Leappad2 for review and I liked the potential. So now I have 2 tablets (LeapPad2 and Innotab3) waiting to be wrapped up and presented to my techie princesses come November

Something for the soul: (Simply something that makes them giddily happy)  
  • The live Dora show. This is a maybe-but-not-likely because I find the ticket prices to be on the high side
  • A room makeover. The girls never had a nursery and I'd love to give them a purposefully decorated little girl room
  • Doll accessories for Ms Spice - a twin doll stroller, high chair and maybe even crib
  • Kiddie cameras. I really wanted to get the VTech Kidizooms but the LeapPad2 and Innotab3 already have cameras. Still, they really enjoy taking pictures using my phone and camera so I think this will be for them, the best gift ever
Something for the spirit: (Something that benefits their spiritual life and brings them closer to God)
  • Truth be told, this has been the hardest category to populate. I'm leaning towards getting them episodes of my old favorite - I think it was called Kids Praise and featured a big blue book called Psalty. Still trying to locate that on iTunes  

Bottom line is I'm going to be brave and buy them different presents based on their personal preferences - Spice's love of dolls and fashion vs Sugar's love of electronics and activity. Looking for the perfect gift helps me keep my mind off the fact that they now look like little girls and not babies...

If you've gone through this stage already, what did your kids like doing/playing with as 3 year olds?


Sayonara Summer of 2013

"All good things come to an end" must be a saying that someone came up with in September when the cold started creeping in. Summer is officially over and the temperatures in Calgary are already dropping. This was the first time ever that I would make a summer list and I didn't expect to meet most of my objectives but boy was I wrong. There's something about writing lists that just makes things happen, and happen they did mostly spontenously! Well not everything but some of it - the veggies were an epic fail as was the cycling class. 

Main lesson for Summer activities with 2 year old twins? 
KEEP IT SIMPLE
GO WITH THE FLOW 
LAUGH WHEN YOU GET IT RIGHT & LAUGH HARDER WHEN YOU DON'T
THE NEXT SUMMER IS JUST 250 DAYS AWAY!


    Clockwise from top left, (1) Plain ole fun in the Park, (2) 600ft high at the top of the Calgary tower (3) Just arriving London Heathrow Airport (4) Our outdoor photoshoot (5) All girls' date at Jugo Juice
  • Visit the Calgary zoo: The horrendous flood in June has the Calgary Zoo shut down for quite some time BUT we ended up visiting the London Zoo. Bonus points for going with cousins. 
  • Find ducks to feed in Calgary: Did not find one quacker. Maybe there are no ducks this side of Canada. Is that even possible?
  • Visit Spruce Meadows and look at horses: The flood affected Spruce Meadows as well but we still saw horses at the Calgary Stampede
  • Have weekly after-work/school dates with the girls: Not weekly, but we discovered a lot of little places to go for pastries and ice cream and I loved every minute of it (as did my waistline)
  • Go to Calgary Stampede grounds: YES, we not only went to the grounds and won some new stuffies but we also ended up watching the chuck wagon races with horses involved
  • Visit a water-park type place (anywhere the girls can wear swimsuits and have a splash): Done!
  • Go to the top of the Calgary Tower: Yep, had a lovely trip to this Calgary monument with the girls, my cousin and my godmother
  • Watch a live show with the girls: Nawl. Not braving this till they're at least three and a half I think
  • Have a barbecue on our patio: This was totally unplanned - as in I had 24 hours to put everything together but still came up with a mean suya. WINNING!
  • Go on a family roadtrip and vacation: Vacation yes, roadtrip no 
  • Go for gym or dance class for tots: After the (non)cycling class, I decided to skip organized physical activity for a while.
  • Eat ALL the veggies we get from our CSA: Honestly, I tried my best but... veggies are my arch nemesis. I rediscovered the job of eating fresh carrots, but the kohlrabi and beets just did not win me over.


So here's my thank you and sayonara to the summer of 2013. Did you have a summer list this year or just wing it? How did you do?

The Car Basket

Two years ago, I used to carry a backup diaper bag in my car with food, diapers, wipes, change of clothing and the kitchen sink. With infant twins, it was sorta unavoidable. Now that I have preschoolers *adjusts tie*, the diaper bag has been replaced by a car basket filled with "essentials" for the almost-3 year olds.



This is what it usually looks like, stocked with plenty of snacks that can be neatly eaten, disposable toilet seat covers and wipes. The snacks are a must have for our commutes and when a trip lasts longer than expected. That one time I ran out of food in the car basket.... it was not pretty.

Life with 2 year old twins lesson number 10: A hungry baby is a mightily angry baby.

3Rs and Other Skills for 34 month olds

As the girls approach the age where they are officially preschoolers, I'm also trying to be more intentional with what I'm teaching them at home and preparing them for kindergarten.

READING:

The first part of teaching the girls to read came with having them learn the letters of the alphabet and I shared the most useful tools for this in an earlier post

What comes next after learning all the letters of the alphabet  Learning the sounds they make. I downloaded the LeapFrog Letter Factory "movie" from iTunes and its one of the twins' favorite shows to watch. It's got amazing ratings from parents both on itunes and on Amazon and I can see why. Since they started watching it, they now know the sounds all the letters make and we practice regularly with street signs. Next step will be to start pronouncing actual words

wRITING:

The girls favorite activities is still having me hold their hands to write letters. I'm still trying to figure out alternative ways to teach them their letters. Any tips?

aRITHMETIC:

From the time the girls were able to walk upright on the stairs, we've been teaching them their numbers by counting steps. They learnt to count to 10 first and in the last few months they've gone up to 20. Now I'm teaching them the actual process of counting (as opposed to just reciting the letters). There are a lot of opportunities to do this during the day but one of the best is with their food at dinnertime. We count grapes, blueberries, , snacks in the cupboard, cereal etc. It's still a work in progress but we're getting there

SELF-CARE:

Asides from learning to dress themselves, the girls have also started learning how to sponge themselves in the shower. I got those cute animal sponges you can find in every Walmart and grocery store - the girls got to choose what they wanted so this added to the excitement. Of course they can't reach their backs, but they still love using their cow and piggie sponges

EXTRA:One more thing that the girls are old enough to learn and we've been happy to teach them is their full names (first and last names) as well as ours. This is primarily a safety measure so if we get separated in a public space, they can answer questions in a helpful manner.


Sure my twins are in fulltime daycare and are learning a lot from the time spent there, but I still find that the lessons they learn best are the ones we teach them at home and that's where I need your help. I'm really now looking for teaching guides and techniques to use in the next one year for teaching 3 year olds. 


What tools or activities have worked with your 3 year olds? 
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