8 Interesting Things for the Family Photobook

It's that time of the year again where I start putting together the family photobook. I started the family photo book tradition after the twins were born and it's always a joy to go through the books and revisit the memories.

But, (and this is a little but) I find some of the earlier photobooks I put together a little boring. E.g, with the first photobook, I didn't even know that I could caption the photos or crop them. I've come a long way since then and THIS photobook is going to be the best yet because now I have actual ideas of things to include in the book to make it less boring. 

Our lives have in no way been boring in 2014 and our photobook should reflect this. In no particular order, here are some fun things that this year's family photobook will include:

Adult vs Kiddie Electronics for Kids

October is here!

It's that time of the year where I start waxing philosophically about how time flies, my girls have grown and yes, what to buy them for their upcoming November birthdays. 

Do you remember last year's birthday list? (The post is right here). I ended up buying the girls cameras and tablets after all and this year, I've had a revelation. 

I'll pause this blog post to say "Johanna, you were right!"

Dealing with kids' artwork

Schools in and the artwork is rolling in. To be honest, the girls create more art than I know what to do with and I have a strong anti-clutter gene. To deal with their artwork, I sort every piece that comes into the house into 3 categories:

  • Keep: This is the art that I want to keep for years. There has to be something very special about it. I organize this art similar to how I organize the girls' paperwork. Each girl has a 4 inch binder with 50 plastic sheet protectors in it. By my calculations, that's 2-4 special art pieces per school year. So far they each have 3 pieces in there including a foot-print art (so they can look back and see how tiny their feet used to be) and first drawing of the whole family. 

    First family portrait showing daddy, mommy, the twins and some random kids I don't know!
  • Display: This is the nice art that gets to be displayed for a while before it's "retired". It includes mother's day gifts displayed on the TV stand and the art I display on the kitchen wall. I remove them when I have another nice piece to replace them with. The kitchen wall display is space limited to maximum 4 pieces per kid. The girls love seeing their art displayed in this form. I must confess that all the Mothers' Day crafts I get from the girls fall into this category and none have been taken down yet because I'm emotionally attached to those and I may end up having a mommy memory box for these when they become too many to display!
    The current kitchen wall display

    My Mother's day flowers
  • Retire: This is the art work that gets retired into the recycling box that's euphemism for trashed! A lot of pieces go into immediate retirement.
What's your approach to kids' artwork. Do you attach a sentimental value to them and keep everything or do you keep some and lose some?

Family Hotel Sleeping Arrangements

When it comes to vacations, hotel accommodation is always a big ticket item if not staying with family. When you have 2 or more kids to consider, things become extra tricky. 

My objective has always been to find a comfortable sleeping arrangement for our family of 4 without breaking the bank. I've tried a few options in the past and during our recent vacation, I experimented with a few additional sleeping arrangements.

Here's a list of the pros and cons for each arrangement based on my experience of 2 adults and twins.

Bed Sharing. We've tried this a couple of times with mixed results
Best for: Non-mobile infants or kids who are used to sleeping in big beds without tumbling all over the place
Pro: Even the standard hotel room with 2 full beds can work for this. Much more comfortable in rooms with king-sized beds though
Con: Talk about passion-killer!

Peapods or similar travel beds. Did this while relocating and on a couple of vacations
Best for: Crawling to toddler stage. (8 months to 2 years). We stopped using these when the girls were able to flip themselves upside-down while in the peapod for the sheer fun of it.
Pro: Very small footprint so if floor space is tight, this works very well. Plus the pods are mobile and can be setup anywhere meaning any location - beach, porch, living room - can become a nap area
Con: The flipping upside down mentioned earlier means kids outgrow this fast

Pack and plays.  Did this while relocating and on our San Antonio vacation
Best for: all ages up to the height and weight limit of the pack and play
Pro: Most hotels will provide these if you call ahead so it's one less item to pack
Con: Older, vocal kids will not appreciate this. I haven't tried this with my kids once they were over 2 years old. Hotel room needs to be very big, preferably a suite with 2 separate living areas. Depending on hotel, the pack and play you actually get may look a little dingy. I suggest traveling with your own sheets

Sleeping Bags on the floor. Tried this for the first time last week
Best for: Older kids who are used to sleeping in big beds without tumbling all over the place. When we used these, I spent half the nights fishing the girls from random corners of the room to tuck them back into their sleeping bags. It was harrowing for me but they slept right through it
Pro: It easy to fit 2 sleeping bags on the floor of most hotel rooms
Con: Watch your step! 

Sofa beds. Tried this for the first time last week
Best for: Older kids who are used to sleeping in big beds without tumbling all over the place. The sofa arm rests act as mini-bed rails for the peaceful sleepers. Acrobatic sleepers will probably need their positions adjusted several times during the nights
Pro: No additional equipment required from your end
Con: Not all hotels have rooms with sofa beds available. When available, they're usually part of a more expensive room package

A PSA on ebates and online shopping rebates

So I was chatting with my sister a couple of weeks back about some online purchases she made and I commented that "You must have saved quite a bit with your ebates account". To which she replied "What's ebates?"

And this Public Service Announcement post was born.

What is ebates?: Ebates is a website that gives you cashback for shopping certain websites online. 

How does it work?: You open an account (there's a USA ebates and a Canadian ebates and I have accounts in both). Once your account is opened, you click the website you want to shop on from the ebates website and once your transaction is complete, your cashback is posted into your account. The cashback amount is paid out every quarter through various forms. In the past, I've had a check mailed to my home, got an Amazon.com credit and got my Paypal account credited. 

My favorite option is to have my Paypal account credited as that's how I pay for the girls' netflix subscription. I love online shopping so this really works for me. To date, I've got over $200 back for buying the same things I would buy anyway. 

In the past, I used ebates to get cashback from 

  • buying clothes online at Gap, BananaRepublic, LeChateau and Hudson's Bay, 
  • buying a vacuum cleaner from shop.ca and an air conditioner from Amazon
  • booking hotels for our vacations. For our upcoming road-trip, I'm getting 8% back on our hotel bookings

Bonus: They always have a double cashback promotion for current events so right now the double cashback category is full of stores that sell school supplies and vacation themed online retailers. 

Look out for: Black Friday double cashback event. It's super! I've seen stores give up to 20% cash back.

How much did ebates pay me for this enthusiastic post?: Nada! I'm just another happy customer who wants to share BUT if you sign up using the links in this post, I get a Tell-A-Friend bonus paid into my account....you know, for the Netflix ;). 

PS: There are a few other websites that do the rebate thing for shoppers in US and/or Canada but ebates is the only one I've tried. Certainly if the retailer you want to shop is not on ebates, you can check the other cashback people

Ebates Coupons and Cash Back

At least TV isn't melting their brains!

Before I had kids aka the time when I was the smartest mom ever, my best friend used to fondly refer to the TV as "electronic babysitter". And I would barely restrain myself from giving her a speech on spending quality time with your kids and doing away with electronics and bla bla bla.                                                                                                                                                                                           
Fast-forward to 5 years later. I have procreated 2 little beings. They love me and demand my utter devotion and attention. Devotion, I can give them in bucket-loads. The attention part? Well I try but let's be honest there have been times when the TV has saved me. 

That Saturday when I desperately needed to sleep  in for at least an additional hour? TV to the rescue
Those critical 20 minutes I need to make dinner and get it on the table before hunger meltdowns strike? TV to the rescue

TV and some guilt. I always question if the girls are watching too much TV and if it's doing them any good because I grew up watching Sesame Street and I can't for the life of me think of anything of import that I learnt from Sesame Street.

Act 1 Scene 1
I had just bought the girls some magnetic letters and numbers for their easel. 2 minutes into putting the numbers up, Spice came to complain to me that the "question" is not staying put. I was a little incredulous so I went to see and sure enough, there was a question mark magnet that wouldn't stick. I looked at her in wonder and asked "who told you that's called a question mark?" She replied rather arrogantly I might add "Super Why"

Act 1 Scene 2
Rolling down the highway and Sugar starts to count 1 - 10; IN SPANISH! And then Spice does the same thing. I was excited. The school is obviously making my girls bilingual. So I asked them 
Me: Did Ms J teach you to count your numbers in Spanish
Sugar: No. 
Me: So how did you learn uno, dos, tres?
Sugar: Dora!
As in Dora the Explorer

Well, I consider myself stunned speechless and feeling a little less guilty. Whatever else the TV is doing, at least it's not melting their brains. 

Disowning The Inheritance of Fear

  1. 1.
    an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat.

I don't think I'm a fearful person but 
  • I'm nervous about heights and close my eyes in glass elevators
  • I panic in 4 feet of water even though I'm 5 feet 6 because I can't swim
  • I hate cats because my dad hates cats
  • I don't say the word "snake" because my dad does not like snakes at all. Even typing the word creeps me out a little
  • To be honest, I'm nervous being around any animal period
Truth is some of my fears are natural to me and some of my fears are "inherited". Try as I might, I can't get myself to like cats (sorry cat-lovers reading this!) and I know that is not based on anything more rational than the fact that my dad is leery of cats. Not so my girls. They love cats and dogs and snakes and glass elevators and climbing really high on the jungle gym. 
and when they ask to go look at the cats in the pet store, I oblige them
when they ask for a ride in the glass elevators, I unclench my stomach, relax my muscles, fix my eyes on a spot and ride with them
when they ask to go into a petting zoo, I take a deep breath, fake a smile and stand right there with them
In a den of animals pretending I'm not scared of being pecked by that wild duck!
Twin Parenting Lesson 6: Because I can't afford to let them assimilate my fears. I'm brave because they are so much braver.

What about you? What rational or irrational fears do you hide bravely?

Hair Matters 3.5

This will be the third hair care post on mytwintopia. The first time was when the girls were under a year old and the next time was when they were 15 months old. Now, they're almost 4 years old and a lot of things have changed about our hair care routine. Here are the highlights of some of those changes and what I've learned along the way:

Set Goals: If there's one attribute that makes me standout, it's my hair. I'm always cutting, styling and dyeing it and sometimes that is not a good thing. So now I'm learning to set hair goals not just for myself but also for the girls. My goal for their hair is length and health - healthy shoulder-length before they go into kindergarten September 2015.

Why? Because lets be honest, hair is one of the image struggles black females have and kindergarten is just about the time when little girls of African descent start noticing the differences between their hair and Caucasian hair. I know at that age, all I wanted to do was "whip my hair" and my girls are beginning to have the same feelings and requesting for their hair to "shake". If I can take care of their hair so they have good length, then the pressure to get a perm is removed.

Collaborate: My babies have started having opinions about everything including their clothes, accessories and hair styles. Before I could slap a style on their head and call it good. Now it's a collaborative process with them telling me what they want and me finding the easiest way to get it done. Current request is "Mickey Mouse Hair". I did this and Sugar complained that it looked like a bunny and not Mickey Mouse. Will try again

Accessorize: For the first couple of years, I didn't use any bows, beads etc on the girls' hair to prevent breakage due to strain. Now we have a plethora of accessories which I keep in a craft box purchased from Michaels

The beads and clips collection
Personalize: The twins' hair texture is as different as their personalities and I choose hair products and styles based on their hair texture and their personality. For example:
Spice has a full head of hair with 4a texture in front and 4b texture at the back. Her scalp is also very sensitive and she can't sit for long styling periods. I use heavier products for her hair and stick to simple single braid styles because cornrows on her take forever. Her hair hates protein products
Sugar has fine, low density 4b hair that breaks easily. She can sit for longer complicated styles so I usually cornrow her hair to keep the weight off individual strands and also use lightweight products. Her hair loves and needs protein products
Style Regimen: Styling for 2 kids (plus myself) is a whole weekend thing but I break it into shorter length sessions to avoid mummy-burnout and kiddie-tantrums. So I can take out a style on Friday evenings, wash on Saturday and style on Sunday
I change the styles every 1-2 weeks depending on neatness. 
Shampoos are every other week. I wish I could buy a shampoo bowl but there's no where to store it when not in use. One change I'm also implementing is shampooing with the style in to prevent major tangling issues. 
I try to stick to simple styles and leave the intricate ones for special occassions. 
I learnt a lot from blogs and youtube and my skills are definitely better today than 2 years ago. I was able to buy a kid's styling chair on kijiji so I can stand upright while making their hair. My back sent me a thank you note the other day! All styling is done in front of the TV. 

Products: Here's a list of our hair products and styling aids and where we get them
  • Herbal essence hello hydration shampoo and conditioner from Grocery store
  • Selsun blue antidandruff shampoo from Grocery store
  • Kinky-Curly Knot Today Leave In Conditioner/Detangler - 8 oz for Spice (I stock up on US trips to Target)
  • Mane 'n Tail Detangler for Sugar (and mummy) from Walmart
  • Denman tangle tamer for brushing the stands after detangling with afro comb from Amazon
  • Tangle Teezer for the "kitchen" area from Amazon or Sally's
  • Afro comb from comb section of various stores
  • Sulphur 8 extra strength cream for their scalps from Walmart
  • Giovanni Vitapro Fusion Leave-In Hair Treatment for Sugar's hair from Winners or Real Canadian Superstore
  • Giovanni Direct Leave-In Conditioner for moisturizing with styles in from Winners or Real Canadian Superstore
  • Castor oil alone or mixed with jojoba oil for seal moisture with styles in from the pharmacy, health food stores, Amazon or ethnic hair store
  • Cutting comb from Nigeria
  • Boar bristle brush that's not too stiff from comb section of various stores
  • A collection of hand towels that are reserved for hair only.
  • Sleep caps (which are not always used) and satin pillowcases from Sally's or Amazon (the Betty Dain brand. It feels very stiff when new but softens up after washing)
When I recall that on their first birthday the girls had teeny-weeny afros, I appreciate how far we've come and really love the hair journey we're sharing as a family.
Hair at their first birthday photo shoot

PS: In case you're wondering about MY hairstyle, I've gone from dreadlocks to afro to texturized afro to red afro to mohawk to very short afro to very short afro with red highlights THIS year alone! Yes, I need that vision board. 

 I blame my hair shenanigans on midlife crisis. What's the most adventurous thing you've done with your hair lately?

The Nail-Biting Finale

This is my optimistic post on the nail-biting finale at our house. And by nails I mean fingernails and toenails!

It was over a year ago when I noticed that Sugar almost took out my eyeball with an itsy-bitsy fingernail. I quickly trimmed her nail and turned round to do Spice's. I was pleasantly relieved to see that her nails were still short and thought nothing of it. That is until I walked into her room one night and found her chomping furiously on her nails. Ah ha! So that's where all the fingernails went. 

I bought one of those nasty tasting polish things and applied to her nails, hoping to nip the habit in the bud. She kept chomping but now was also gagging on the taste of the polish. I panicked about her choking and never used the polish again. 

Until last month! Spice told me she had an "owie" on her foot and when I bent down to take a look I was appalled by the fact that she had almost no more toenails. Her fingernails were bitten to the cuticles and the toenails were not faring any better. To make matters worse, Sugar was ALSO now biting her fingernails. It was time for action.

What didn't work
I bought some chewelry (chewable jewelry) last year for the Spice to distract her from chewing on her nails. She liked to wear it, but never chewed on it.

What I did wrong
I showed Spice my fingernails and told her they were pretty and hers were ugly because she was biting on them. She cried and I felt really bad at my choice of words. So much for saying I want to foster positive body image in my girls and then turning round and telling them a body part was ugly. I really messed up on that one.

What worked
Thank God for the multiple opportunities for do-overs in parenting. Instead of emphasizing a negative, I tried to put a positive spin on the situation. I got a pedicure just before our trip to Nigeria and Spice was really entranced with my painted toes. I made her a promise that if she stopped biting her nails, I'd paint them pink. She bought it! They both did. 

What Helped
Since most of the nail biting happened when they were in bed, I had them sleep with socks on their hands for a couple of weeks to help break the habit as well. No access to nails = no biting
This is the longest her nails have been in 2 years!

What was needed
Imagination and perseverance because multiple times a day, both girls would assure me that they were no longer biting their nails and could they have the pink nails now. I'd say no, their nails need to be longer. After a week, to make sure they still kept their eye on the ball, I painted their thumbs and big toes pink. They were ecstatic. A couple of weeks later, their nails were indeed longer and I painted a rainbow of colors on their nails. Looks like the nail biting episode is over

If you had asked me 5 years ago, I'd have told you my kids' nails would not see polish until they were done with high school. I was such a confident mother before I actually had kids!

Twin Parenting Lesson 4: It's ok to appeal to your kids' vanity sometimes

The 5 Love Languages of Children

The 5 Love Languages of Children is a book I've had in my Kindle library for almost 2 years now but I did not finish reading it until May this year. Not because it's not an interesting read, but because it's best applied to older kids. 

The original The Five Love Languages book was a huge bestseller for Gary Chapman and this version of the book delves into the application of the 5 love languages to the parent child-relationship. The 5 love languages concept says  that most people have a primary preference for how they give and perceive love. It would be one of:

  • Physical touch
  • Words of affirmation
  • Quality time
  • Gifts
  • Acts of service

The book expands on those 5 languages in chapters 2 to 6 before going into the  application of the theory of love languages in the realm of parenting. 

My Review: Here's a few of the many ah-ha moments I had while reading this book
  • My love language is gifts. People with this love language love to give and receive THOUGHTFUL gifts. Emphasis on "thoughtful". The flip side of that is that when a loved one gives a gift that's not well thought out, I could run that gamut of emotions from sad to extremely pissed off. Ah-ha moment #1: I learnt what makes me tick (and sometimes tock and explode)
  • Spice's preferred love language of choice is physical touch. She quick to give hugs and knows how to milk them out of even the sternest caregivers. After reading the chapter on physical touch as a love language, I got a better understanding of why she always asks me to "scratch her back" when she's tired and always asks for a hug after I scold or discipline her. Ah-ha moment #2: Scratch my back is code for "love me mummy" 
  • Sugar's preferred language is quality time: Of late she BEGS to help me in the kitchen and with the laundry and gets really upset when she can't. Occassionally, she would look up from what she's doing and ask me to come play with her. Sometimes I'm busy and tell her "later". After observing and realizing that these were her way of asking for love in her dominant love language, I never brush aside her request for extra time and attention. Ah-ha moment #3: When this little girls asks for attention, she's really saying "do you love me". My yes is giving her my full attention
The author emphasizes the importance of nurturing all the 5 love languages in kids and not putting them in a box or labeling. That's good advice and important because love languages can and do change with age and stage for children and they grow up to be more emotionally stable as adults when they learn to give and receive love using all 5 languages. 

Since reading this book, I've been able to apply the concepts not just to my parenting but also other aspects of my life. I know without a shadow of a doubt that I will be referencing this book at regular intervals forever.

There's a reason why The Five Love Languages has been on the New York times bestseller list for 62 weeks. It's because it works and can be life-changing. 

If you're read this or any of the other adaptations, what did you think of it?

More information and some free resources available on the 5 love languages website

"Do We Have To Share Everything?"

"Do we have to share everything?"

That was the question Spice asked me Thursday night as I was sorting their laundry. I was in the process of hanging a shirt that the twins' grandma gifted them from Nigeria. The shirt was originally meant for my niece so grandma had just one shirt made. Both girls saw the shirt and asked simultaneously "who's shirt is that?".

I replied that it was for both of them and they would have to share. That's when Spice asked that very impactful question above. I was a little taken aback and thankful that reading Emotionally Healthy Twins had made me alert to the girls' requests for more individuality. I asked Spice "Don't you like to share your clothes with your sister?" and she replied "No".

Twenty minutes later, after the girls had finished with their bath, I asked Spice the same question again and she still replied no. I needed to be sure so I asked her the following (Friday) night and she once more replied "No". She definitely wanted HER own clothes. 

Luckily for us, when we redesigned the closet in the girls' room, we did it with the expectation that sooner or later they would want to have individual sides. So I got all their play clothes out of the closet and two by two, we sorted them into Sugar's side and Spice's side. The girls were very proud to do the hanging all by themselves and this morning, they got to go to their side of the closet and pick out what they wanted to wear.

Even though I still manage to forget to not buy them the same outfits, (don't y'all love a nicely complicated almost double negative?!) the girls are rarely dressed alike because they always choose different outfits daily and even bargain and trade clothes with each other. If they continue this way, that's one less battle I won't have to mediate when the teen years come.
The sorting and hanging process
Sugar's side <---  ---> Spice's Side

Yay for independence and individuality!

Twin Parenting Lesson 3: They don't have to share everything!

Life's Little Moments #1

Being three and a half, my twins are at that age when they start saying cute / memorable stuff and what kind of a semi-mom-blogger would I be if I didn't come here and share some of those cutiesms with you.

Scene 1: I'm sitting with my head on my knees just trying to gather some energy for the bedtime ritual
Spice: Mama are you ok?
Me: Yes, just a little tired
Spice: Do you want me to scratch your back? 
Me: yes
She proceeds to scratch my back for a bit
Spice: Do you feel better now?
Me: Yes thank you so much

Now I know why she's always asking me to scratch her back. My baby loves back rubs I guess

Scene 2: Driving home from work
Spice: Mama, put both hands on the wheel!

Yeah! the 3 year old backseat driver is telling me how to drive. She's lucky I didn't stop the car and make her walk home ;)

Scene 3Both girls are sitting at the dining table arguing about being best friends (or not)
Spice: Be nice to me "Sugar", I'm your favorite twin 

Now THAT was this weekend and had me howling in laughter for the next few minutes

Insanity is not the reason I travel with twins

Our recent flights from Calgary to Lagos and back were the twins 13th and 14th flights respectively. Let that sink in for a bit! I've willingly got on airplanes with twin babies/toddlers/preschoolers 14 times in the last 3 years. I'm not crazy, I was motivated by 2 moms who had gone before me.

First one was my oldest friend O. We had lost touch for a few years and out of the blue she called me while I was still living in Houston and before I had the twins. We spent over an hour yakking on the phone and catching up on life. I found out that she

  • lives in the UK
  • got married a couple of years back
  • had a baby the previous month
  • was visiting friends and relatives in the US
  • was leaving for Lagos and Abuja within the next week 
WITH AN INFANT IN TOW! I may have actually yelled this when I asked her "What the?!"

She simply brushed my shock aside and said the baby's got to get used to life with the mother he has. Very matter-of-factly. No drama, just fact.

Cue a few months later. A couple who were colleagues and used the same Fertility Clinic as we did had a baby and later mentioned to me that they were driving down to the beach in Alabama. With a 2 month old baby.... after much fertility treatment. I always assumed that in their shoes I would wrap my kid in cotton wool and only leave the house for emergencies. Definitely not drive to the beach with all that heat and light and sun and people and germs. Remember people, I practice active paranoia

I believe I raised an eyebrow and asked why? The husband shrugged and said "Hey, he's got to get with the Smith* lifestyle"

Those two sets of parents probably don't know it but they inspired me to not change my life in a restrictive way because I had young kids who happened to be twins. Instead I try to involve them in the things that I love doing so that we can all enjoy the same activities as a family. And I like to travel so travelling just has to be something they are used to doing.

14 flights and no regrets. The girls are becoming travelling champs and I'm a happy mama

Twin Parenting Lesson 3: Enjoy your passions with your kids, instead of restricting yourself because you have kids

*Smith is of course not their real name

Red eyes and globe trotting

In the last couple of months, I've been on 4 flights with the twins that tested the extremes of travelling with kids:

  • First was a red-eye return trip from Calgary to Ottawa to process our Nigerian travel documents
  • Second was a globe-trotting 19 hour return trip from Calgary to Lagos, Nigeria with a connection in Houston
Phew. I'm glad for all the previous practice sessions I had because they came in useful and the flights were really uneventful. Apart from all the things I'd learnt from previous flights, here are some additional tricks I incorporated since the girls were now older
  1. Tell the kids what's going to happen (but not too early or they'll drive you crazy with questions). At almost three and a half years old, the girls could understand the concepts of airports and planes. Telling them what's going to happen and treating it all as an adventure meant they were excited instead of apprehensive and cranky. If possible, watch a few shows on planes and flying before you leave so the kids can relate. (We watched the Gup, Gup and Away! episode of Bubble Guppies on repeat for a few days prior to the Ottawa trip)
  2. Individual carryons for everyone travelling. I let the kids have their own carryons and it lightened my load considerably. I got both girls the Skip Hop Little Kid Backpacks and we've used them on our last 3 flights. I managed to squeeze in their travel pillows, crayons, coloring books, headphones, drawing board, jigsaw puzzles, cameras and a few snacks. Those bags look small but are quite roomy.
  3. Call ahead of time: For the red-eye flight, we got into Ottawa after midnight. I had called the hotel the day before to inform them of our arrival time so the front desk was waiting for us and actually had little goodie bags for the kids as well. 
  4. Don't count on the plane having individual TV screens: I was banking on the plane entertainment system to keep the girls engrossed. Imagine my shock when I got on board and saw this!! Hey United airline, the 80s called; they want their planes back!
  5. Get health necessities: Call travel clinic at least 6 weeks before and make an appointment to get the necessary shots. If you have local knowledge of your destination, use that in making the decision concerning shots. BE INFORMED. The travel clinic recommended 6 shots for going to Nigeria but with my local knowledge and consulting with friends and family who had recently traveled to Nigeria with their kids, I opted for just 2 of the 6 shots. 
  6. Everything on this list adapted for current age. Yep, even the notarized letter which I've never needed until this last trip when the border officer actually asked for it. Let just say it was one of the few moments in my life when I said "thank you" to my over-planning gene
  7. Beg, Bribe, Threaten, Enlist Help: I tried one or more of those methods and had my younger sister on the same flight with us for the Houston-Lagos flights. The girls loved knowing that aunty "Mutan" was just a row away and I definitely enjoyed the extra pair of hands to hold the girls while I attended to other airport matters. Thanks boo!
We traveled happy, made good memories and are back home safely. I'm glad to add one more continent to the twins' travel map. Happy Monday peeps!  

Twin Parenting Lesson 2: Ditch The Labels

Hello, my name is Yetunde and I label my kids

I really hope it's not too obvious in this space, but in my mind where it really matters, I do. I have one pegged as the athletic one and the other as the fashionista. When I plan my wardrobe for the 2032 Olympics, I usually envision sitting in the stands with Spice while Sugar wins a couple of gold medals which she will of course lovingly dedicate to mama...

Anyway, back to the topic at hand, I've been labeling and got smacked in the face with it earlier this week. 

The weather in Calgary has been so beautiful that we've been hitting the parks after school. I even brought out the bicycles for the first time this year and that's when my opera of surprises started.

While Sugar struggled with the uphill ride and trying to steer her bike, Spice tore off with no problem leaving me a little slack-jawed. She then hit the playground thingies with just as much passion: climbing higher, running faster, jumping higher than I've ever seen her and out-playing Sugar. I loved it and felt guilty at the same time. I'd mentally been planning separate activities for the girls and was going to have Spice do the artsy stuff and Sugar the sporty stuff. Not any more. 

Universe, I got the memo! Don't pigeon-hole your kids. They have a lifetime to like and unlike stuff. Give them ALL possible opportunities ALL the time because yesterday's weakness can be today's strength.

Twin Parenting lesson 2: Ditch the labels. 

PS: I've been missing for a while because I took a trip to the fatherland. Glad to be back with plenty of blog posts swirling in my head.

Twin Parenting Lesson 1: Learning Styles Edition

"The market has more than one entry"

That's my literal translation of a yoruba proverb (ono kan o w'oja) which just means there's more than one way of achieving a goal or getting somewhere. It's one of those sayings that's had moments in my life when it was my mantra. Yesterday, I had THAT moment again when it came to my twins, how they learn and their approach to tasks.

It actually started a few months back when I was trying to teach them to count objects on the pages of a counting book. Sugar quickly grasped the concept and could count along the line of objects but Spice struggled. She would skip objects and jump lines and I knew a moment of hyperventilating-panic. Girl's got a 4 of engineers and a maths teacher in her direct genealogy and she can't count a line of 6 fish???  This mama had to work hard not to panic. I reminded myself that she's still young and there's plenty of time to learn to count and that was it. 

The next day as we drove by a construction site, she yelled "look mama, there's three diggers". I absentmindedly nodded in agreement before I felt a jolt of awareness. MY BABY CAN COUNT! She just is not interested in counting stuff on the pages of books but she can count just fine. Mama learnt her lesson and that was a good thing because whenever it was time to practice writing letters in our "homeschool", Sugar quickly learnt most of her letters and enjoys writing whenever she can get her hand on pencil and paper, chalk and board, crayon and walls... you get it. But Spice would pick up a pencil, look me dead in the eye and declare "I'm tired. I can't do it", and that was that She refused to write her letters and I didn't force the issue.

That brings me to yesterday. We got home and both girls asked for TV time. I suggested we write some letters before TV and handed them their books and pencils while I cooked dinner. When I turned around, Spice and turned to the last page of the book and done this!

Ladies and gentle people, MY BABY CAN WRITE HER LETTERS! She's just not interested in writing them unless there's an important reason like watching Diego and Dora perpetuate world peace.

Twin Parenting Lesson 1: The market has more than one entry and kids have more than one learning style.

Dare to be Different

Dare to be different! 

No matter where we decide to plant the roots of our family - Lagos, Houston or Calgary - you'll always stand out because of who you are, your background and your personal story.

Standing out is not a bad thing. Don't try to blend in to be more accepted. Dare to standout and be different; because you already are.

This April, I'm participating in 2 blog challenges and want to use that as motivation to write not about my twins but for my twins. They have a unique heritage of being born in the US to Nigerian parents and then growing up in Canada. There's at least 3 major cultures that they have to straddle and this is number 4 of the 26 things I have to tell my twin girls about who they are and their heritage.

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