the adventures of ernie bufflo

things magical and mundane


5 Comments

the bufflogals’ new room

We’ve been in our new place a few months now, and it’s finally getting into a state where I’d be willing to show you guys what it looks like. I figured I’d start with the cutest room: Etta’s and Claire’s.

Here’s the before:

The walls and ceilings of every single room in the new house were beige. We had all of them painted!

And here’s the after:

IMG_5886

If you’ve seen the girls’ room in our old house, there’s not a lot different in terms of actual stuff, but with light purple walls, the whole space feels so much lighter and more fun than the dark blue floral wallpaper in our old rental.

IMG_5889

IMG_5892

Here you see a prime example of my half-assed gallery wall methods. Some blogs will give you a tutorial for measuring and laying out a mathematically perfect gallery wall. I am not that girl. I just sort of eyeballed it. I think it turned out OK. The Vonnegut quote canvas is up a little high, but it has to be to keep little hands from grabbing at it when changing babies on the changing table.

IMG_5896

My husband built the toy shelf, and the changing table was a dresser found by the curb in our neighborhood.

IMG_5895

IMG_5905

I made this origami lampshade, and it’s one of my favorite things in the room.


7 Comments

does it get easier?

The title of this post is something I’ve been asked by twin parents a little behind us in the journey. It’s something I asked other twin moms when I was lost in the sleepless fog of new twin babyville.

And oh how I want to hug all new parents, but especially twin parents, and just say, yes, it gets easier. Because sometimes you just desperately need to believe it will.

But really, the thing I keep thinking, about life, about parenthood, is not that it gets easier, but that it gets different. And each time it gets different, you get different too: you learn, and adapt, and find strategies, and just as you master whatever it is, it gets different again. But the thing is, through all the changes, you get stronger, tougher, better, and you’re able to more confidently deal with all the change.

A friend reminded me on Facebook recently of a phase I did not love. It’s that point where your baby figures out how to pull up to stand, but still can’t get down. And baby is SO EXCITED about this new standing skill that she wakes up in the middle of the night just thinking about standing. So she stands in her crib. And then she realizes she is stuck and freaks the freak out. Which means lots of midnight wakeups for dear old mom and dad. And so, for a few weeks, we had to keep lying her back down, patting her back, singing her songs, while she struggled to get up and stand again, over and over, until she finally crashed. It was really frustrating.

But here’s the thing: that never happens anymore. Now we’re just getting middle of the night wakeups because Etta’s too busy cutting teeth and thinking about walking to sleep, and Claire’s been sick, and, well, see what I mean? It got different. It’s still hard.

I think the key, the thing that I can tell new parents, singleton and multiples, though, is that the rewards get greater through all the change and all the hard. In the very beginning, you’re just living for the point when they finally finally just smile at you. And that smile is amazing. It’s like the payout for 2 months of sleeplessness and spit up and practicing all those 5 S’s.

And it only gets more rewarding from there. They, your favorite little humans, just keep becoming more fascinating, more capable, and more interesting, more like actual people. The biggest thing for me as a twin mom is, my kids are becoming actual siblings who talk to each other and play together, and that bond forming is just a joy to behold. Sure, there’s lots of hair pulling and fighting over toys, but that stuff is far outweighed by the heart-melting awesome that is watching my two kids pass food back and forth in their high chairs, babbling to each other. Or when Claire actually asks for Etta by name, and Etta turns to her, and they laugh and laugh.

So maybe it does get better. Still not sold on the easier, though ;)

Teamwork: working together to open the drawer and remove all the diapers inside. Sibling love!

Teamwork: working together to open the drawer and remove all the diapers inside. Sibling love!


5 Comments

bufflogals in toyland

20130712-152806.jpg

The picture of the girls playing that inspired this post. Etta is playing with a Janod pounding toy, and Claire is playing with a Plan Toys shape sorter.

A friend asked on Instagram if I’d consider doing a post about the bufflogals’ toys, and her wish is my command.

She noticed that the gals’ toys are generally wooden and rather atypical from what is generally on the market for babies and toddlers. This is by design. I want our home to be peaceful and happy, stimulating but not overstimulating, full but not cluttered. And if it’s not too much to ask, I want the stuff we bring into it to look good! This extends to the choices we make for our girls’ toys. While I have only begun to educate myself on things like Montessori and Waldorf, my general inclination and instinct is that their toys should be about them using objects to educate and enjoy themselves, not just being entertained by lights and music and bells and whistles. For us, this means nothing that lights up or makes sounds, pretty much nothing battery operated, and very little plastic. Again, this isn’t because of any particular ideology, but just the result of me following what feels right for me and my kids. I’m not in any way saying other sorts of toys are bad, but this is just where we’re at and what we want for our home.

Etta and Claire have two main play spaces, their room and our den. In each space, it was important to me that the toys be arranged where they could get them out themselves (and eventually, put them up themselves), and to have things displayed and accessible rather than buried in a bin under a million other things. Things they can see actually get used, whereas things in a giant pile get forgotten.

20130712-152752.jpg

Here you see the girls’ play space in our den. The shelf and tent are both from Ikea, and my mom found the chairs at a flea market. They have a little white table that goes with them, but it’s being used as a side table until we find an actual side table to go next to the couch. Also pictured is the Little Wheely Bug, which I found for a steal at a local consignment sale. Etta’s just now able to really start to use it at 15 months, and it’s the smaller size. The green-sided walker was a Christmas gift, but I have to say, I’m not as crazy about it as I thought I’d be, as it seems more prone to tipping, though they still sit in front of it and play with it. I REALLY love the walker wagon Claire’s kneeling with, which is a brand called Janod from Oompa.com, which along with Amazon is one of our main toy sources.

20130712-152818.jpg

Here’s a closer view of the toy shelf. You can see the small Plan Toys shape sorter, a Janod puzzle, a couple of Melissa and Doug sorters, some Ikea pots and pans, and our collection of musical instruments. Etta demonstrates one of her favorite activities, taking all the books off the shelf.
20130712-152826.jpg

This is the contents of the musical instrument box. Most are Hape, purchased via Amazon. The shaker eggs aren’t actually toys but legit musical instruments, but the girls love them.

20130712-152853.jpg

I really love these alphabet blocks from Janod.

20130712-152911.jpg

The Janod walker wagon in action. As you can see, it can support Claire’s weight, and even without anything in it, is super stable for kids just starting to walk, not prone to tipping.

20130712-152938.jpg

We’re big fans of this collapsible tunnel, a gift, which folds nicely when we’re not playing with it.

20130712-152959.jpg

Here the girls are playing with our one and only noisy toy, the flowers, which are Lamaze brand. You can see the Hape shape sorter and some Melissa and Doug food. Our Ikea baby gym, now useful as an object to pull up on, is in the background.

20130712-153027.jpg

Little Wheely Bug in action, with a push from sister.

A rare exception to my no-plastic rule: this Little Tykes rocking horse. It's perfect for little toddlers because it's low enough that they can get on and off themselves, and the seat has a back, which keeps them on it. And I think it's not bad looking.

A rare exception to my no-plastic rule: this Little Tykes rocking horse. It’s perfect for little toddlers because it’s low enough that they can get on and off themselves, and the seat has a back, which keeps them on it. And I think it’s not bad looking.

IMG_5596

Here you can see the girls’ very messy room, and the toy shelf their daddy built for them. In the bin on the bottom left are wooden blocks that belonged to me as a child, and in the bottom right are little things we’ve collected along the way, like Ikea stacking cups, a Melissa and Doug pull toy, their Kathe Kruse dolls, and their Taggies toys. You can also see some soft books, a Melissa and Doug bead maze, a Skip Hop stacker pull toy, and an Ikea stacker toy. (Also, please note that Claire has pulled herself into a kneel, a big deal, which is why this picture was snapped in the first place.)

Basically, what I look for in a toy is this:

  • Is it kid powered? If it requires batteries, I don’t want it. (I took the batteries out of these toy keys before I ever gave them to the girls. They still love them.)
  • Is it used BY the kid, or does the kid just watch it go?
  • Does it help hone skills or encourage creativity or imaginative play?
  • Does it make noise? I’m fine with instruments the girls use to generate noise, but I don’t want to hear bad midi files of classical music. I’d rather put on my old iPod, which I’ve loaded up with tunes for the kiddos.
  • Is it possible to find this made of wood or other natural materials?
  • And, generally, is it fairly gender neutral? I’m fine with the girls playing with dolls, etc, as they get older and ask for such things, but in the meantime, I see no reason to push them toward gendered objects.

Some brands we like: Hape, Manhattan Toy, KidKraft, Plan Toys, Janod, Melissa and Doug, Haba.

A few people who have visited our house have asked how we got all the grandparents and other relatives on board with this plan. The truth is, I grew up with these sorts of toys, so my parents were all about it from the start, and everyone else has been pretty happy to shop from the Amazon wish list I keep constantly updated for Christmas and their first birthday.


1 Comment

Claire CRAWLS!

20130703-114050.jpgIf you’re following me on Facebook or Twitter or Instagram, you’ve already seen the bragging, but I have to share this with my blog friends too: Claire crawls now.

She’s been trying for a long time, months, and working on her skills in PT, but all she was really doing was lunging forward, ending up on her belly, scooting backward when she meant to go forward, and barrel rolling. She managed to combine those skills to get pretty much everywhere she wanted to be, but she watches Etta, and she knew crawling was the way to go. (Etta’s not walking yet at 15 months, though she cruises like a champ and could let go and walk right this minute if the thought actually seemed to occur to her.)

Then we got the shunt exactly a week ago, which removed a lot of pressure from her head/spine, and her neurosurgeon told us to fully expect faster progress in the mobility department. Which, I’m not saying correlation equals causation, but it sure seems to have worked. Yesterday was the first day her PT noticed her using her hip flexors, and yesterday she finally got her legs into the crawling equation and took off. She’s got forward motion and is also pulling up to her knees using the furniture.

Yesterday with her braces on and her therapist holding her arms, she also took actual steps, demonstrating she has all the components necessary to walk someday. Which just makes me want to say “HA!” to a certain rehab doctor who, about a year ago, after a VERY short exam, and ignoring our statements that Claire moved her legs intentionally, declared she would never walk. (Meanwhile her orthopedists have long said that she would, so we chose to believe them.)

I’m confident that Claire has had these abilities all along. It just took her a while to make the connections and figure it out, and while she may need a little extra help, she gets there. And she’ll keep getting there.

20130703-114040.jpg

Got it!


4 Comments

Claire is doing great

Just woke up from as good of a sleep as one can hope for in a hospital, cuddling my Claire Bear all night. She came through surgery like a champ, waking up happy after anesthesia, and generally being the most chilled out kid who just had brain surgery anyone has ever seen. Her surgeons say everything went great, and judging by the pressure her cerebral spinal fluid was under, it really was time for us to do this VP shunt. She probably has been having a headache from the pressure lately and we didn’t even know it. Now, her head should stop growing so quickly and the rest of her should catch up.

We’re super grateful for the excellent care we’ve been getting, as well as all the love and support from folks like you. It looks like we will go home this evening.

20130627-065952.jpg

20130627-070013.jpg

20130627-070027.jpg


5 Comments

surgery for Claire tomorrow

I’m back from an amazing weekend in NYC helping my sweet sister Jessica shop for a wedding dress. Now it’s back to reality in a big way because Claire the Bear is having surgery tomorrow. She’s having a shunt placed to help treat her hydrocephalus (the fluid that builds up in her head because of her spina bifida), which has gotten to the point of causing fluid to build up in her spine. This is called a syrinx, and because it could compromise her mobility, we have to finally do the surgery this time, almost exactly a year after we first thought we’d be getting it done.

I’m glad we could wait this long. Since she’s older, the procedure is much less risky than it would have been on a tiny baby, and that’s always good news. We trust our surgeon completely and know she will be in the best hands. All you lovely folks: please be praying for or sending positive thoughts her way, whichever you do. Thank you for always cheering Claire on. She will be in the hospital overnight, but it should be a fairly quick recovery, so let’s hope that’s true!

IMG_4895


4 Comments

the bufflogals’ best baby gear: a one year retrospective

From the top, let me make it clear: no one sponsors me. These are just the things I like after a year of this baby gig. These are all things either we purchased for ourselves or received as gifts at our showers.

Still, I know what it’s like to be hunting blogs looking for REAL information on baby gear, to be Googling “how to register for twins,” totally overthinking the baby gear, so I thought it might be helpful for someone out there to share the stuff that really got us through this past year, as well as the stuff that turned out to be not worth the hype. Let’s start with…

STROLLERS:

The thing I probably obsessed over the most was the double stroller. A double stroller is CRUCIAL for a twin mom, because you basically can’t go anywhere alone without it. I read lots of reviews and lots of message boards before settling on the Baby Jogger City Select. Mostly, I love it. It worked great when the girls were in their infant car seats, because I got the adapters. It was so easy to unfold the stroller, pop on the second adapter, and click the seats into place. I also love how smooth it pushes, how easy it turns thanks to its compact size, the giant basket, and the off-road-able wheels. Dislikes: you have to take off at least one of the seats to fold it, and really both of them to get it to fold down to its smallest size. Also: it takes up almost the entirety of our Pontiac Vibe’s hatchback.

The gals enjoying an early days walk with their car seats snapped into the Baby Jogger.

The gals enjoying an early days walk with their car seats snapped into the Baby Jogger.

Baby Jogger with the seats facing backward and fully reclined.

Baby Jogger with the seats facing backward and fully reclined.

For the last few weeks, the stroller getting the most use is our new one, a MacLaren Twin Triumph the girls got from their Nana and Papa for their birthday. It folds super small, is very light weight, and has worked great for getting the girls into and out of daycare and stores and even on a picnic. It’s definitely a bumpier ride, but the gals actually love that–they like to make little sounds and hear their voices go up and down as they bump along. It’s about a third of the price of a BJCS, and if you had a Double Snap and Go for the infant car seat days, would probably make a great choice as a main stroller, provided you aren’t into a lot of off roading.

Enjoying the botanical gardens in the Twin Triumph.

Enjoying the botanical gardens in the Twin Triumph.

BABY CARRIERS:

If I didn’t have twins, I have a feeling I’d be a babywearing-obsessed hippie mama. It’s just *so much easier* to strap a baby to your body and go about your business than it is to haul a stroller around. I may get a little jealous of singleton moms who can wear their babies all the time. I’ve tried: a Moby Wrap, a linen ring sling (that I made!), a BabyBjorn, a BabyBjorn Air, a mei tai style wrap and tie carrier, and an Ergo. Here’s what I thought of them:

  • Moby Wrap: was excellent when Etta the attachment baby was a tiny, clingy newborn. Once I got the hang of tying it properly, we loved it. She always felt super snug and super secure, even when she was super duper tiny. Still, getting it on and the baby in place felt like a bit of a production, and I almost never wore it outside the house. Also: you’re basically strapping a hot water bottle to your body using yards and yards of fabric. It got hot hot hot in the Arkansas summer after the girls were born, and I can’t imagine wearing it a lot outdoors in the heat.
    IMG_4001
  • Ring sling: Once the girls were able to hold their heads up and sit on a hip, I loved it especially for hip carries, but it was great from the start, even with a front hug hold with a tiny baby. I wore a baby in it on my hip for an entire holiday party (when they were about 9 months old), and I still use it now that they’re one. If forced to choose between the Moby and the ring sling, I just might choose the ring sling, because while I’ve unloaded my Mobys, I’m still using the sling. I ordered my rings online and made my sling using these instructions.IMG_4370
  • The BabyBjorns: I loved these when the girls were about 6 months to 9 months. I may have wondered to myself why this carrier has so many haters, and why anyone would pay all that money for an Ergo. I found it easy to get on and off, and easy to get baby in and out of. Being able to face them in or out was especially nice. But by about 9 months, they had reached a weight that really started to take a toll on my back, and the way the Bjorn put all the weight between my shoulder blades wasn’t helping. I have since unloaded the Bjorns.IMG_8558

    How you fly with baby twins.

    How you fly with baby twins.

  • My mei tai carrier was an Infantino Wrap and Tie I got on super sale. I liked it, but not as much as the Moby or Bjorns, so I gave it to a friend. I can imagine it would have had similar limitations as the Bjorns, being hard on my back as the babies got bigger.IMG_4274
  • The Ergo: like the one ring of baby carriers. If I knew then what I know now, I’d have skipped the Bjorns and the mei tai and just gotten an Ergo. Much like the way a backpacking pack has a waist strap to help you carry the weight on your pelvis instead of your back, the Ergo shifts the weight of baby to a much more natural, comfortable position. I still use this carrier all the time, and I know people still using them well into toddlerhood. Don’t screw around. Just get one. Or, if facing baby outward on your front is really important to you, consider a similarly-designed Beco that offers that option. You can even get an infant insert that allows this to be the only carrier you need from birth through toddlerhood.

    A very bundled Etta in the Ergo on a snowy day.

    A very bundled Etta in the Ergo on a snowy day.

If you are trying to not get ALL THE CARRIERS, here is my recommendation: get a ring sling and an Ergo or Beco Gemini (like an Ergo or Boba with the added option that baby can face out when worn on your front) or Boba. The ring sling will be great for tiny baby days, or when they’re older and you do hip holds, or when you don’t want to haul a big soft-structured carrier around. The Ergo/Beco/Boba will continue to be comfy as baby grows, even into toddlerhood.

OTHER GEAR:

  • Baby Gowns. Everyone told me I just had to have gowns to make middle of the night diaper changes easier. Except to me, gowns were just always a hassle. Feet were always escaping, and worse yet, the gowns kept me from being able to put the girls in the swing and the bouncer, both of which were the keys to us getting any sleep in the early days. And you know, no matter how sleepy I get, I can still snap snaps or zip zippers. 
  • Bibs. People love to gift bibs, but not all bibs are created equally. After a year, I have concluded that you only need three types of bibs. My first bib love was the Aden+Anais dribble bib. It doubles as a burp cloth and is a great thing to have in a diaper bag for on the go feeding. The second type I loved are just plain terrycloth teething bibs. They were GREAT in the spit-up days, and I still put them on the girls on runny-nosed days (they make great nose wipes that are always handy because they’re around baby’s neck) or on particularly drool-y days. The third, and as far as I am concerned, the only bibs worth buying for your solids-eating baby are Bumkins bibs. They’re cute, they’ve got a handy pocket to catch drops and dribbles, and they’re super easy to wash in the sink because they’re super thin and they dry quickly. Also, you can machine wash them without them falling apart, unlike some of the laminated type bibs we tried. Seriously, don’t waste your time on other bibs.
    Aden+Anais bib.

    Aden+Anais bib.

    Terry bib.

    Terry bib.

    Bumkins bib.

    Bumkins bib.

  • Swaddles. It’s true that babies love to be swaddled, but not all swaddles are created equally. I tried the Miracle Blanket, but I’m pretty sure it’s smarter than I am, and I could never get it on right–arms always escaped. Similarly, I loved the Aden+Anais muslin swaddle blankets for just about everything except swaddling– it’s not always easy to get a baby swaddled in them correctly. Ultimately, what worked the best for us were the Halo Sleep Sack Swaddles. I even ended up cutting the swaddle part off of one of the sacks so I could swaddle Etta’s arms and still put her into the bouncer.

    Swaddled and ASLEEP in their Halo Sleep Sack Swaddles.

    Swaddled and ASLEEP in their Halo Sleep Sack Swaddles.

  • The Nosefrida Snot Sucker. Let me be blunt: those bulb syringes you’re supposed to use to clean out a baby nose? They suck. Or rather, they don’t. And when you’ve got an exhausted, germy baby who can’t sleep because she can’t breathe and all you want to do is sleep, you will do anything, even things that seem kinda gross, to get the snot out. The NoseFrida uses the suction you can generate with your mouth to suck that gunk right outta baby’s nose. Couple it with a few squirts of saline before you suck, and you’ve got a magic nose-clearing machine. I promise, there’s a filter and a whole lotta tubing that insures none of that gunk gets anywhere near your mouth, just out of baby’s nose. Baby will breathe easier, and you’ll all be able to sleep. Get one.
  • THE BABY BJORN BABYSITTER BALANCE SEAT. This is my number one most favorite baby thing. Etta, especially, needs to have the heck bounced out of her to calm her when she’s upset and often to help her get to sleep. I can really make the Bjorn seat bounce with my feet– like, head-bobbing bounce. Also, they’re good looking. I know, we’d all put our kiddos in the ugliest thing ever if it meant less screaming and more sleep, but the Bjorn seats are just really good looking. Even better, they fold completely flat, which makes them super handy in a small apartment or house, and even better for toting them around. When the girls were still largely lumps, we’d take the seats with us to friends’ houses so we’d have a place to park babies while eating and hanging out. The covers are also super easy to remove and wash, and the seats have a high weight limit. We’re still using the heck out of them after the first birthday, and I know we’ll be using them for a while yet, but, thanks to a good design, the girls were also secure in the seats even as little tinies. I am not even the least bit exaggerating when I say I’m not sure we’d have survived the first year with twins without these seats. Best baby gear we own.
TINY Claire in the BabySitter.

TINY Claire in the BabySitter.

Slightly older and enjoying some porch time.

Slightly older and enjoying some porch time.

IMG_3150

Just last week. Knocks her out every time.


5 Comments

Claire Bear: an update

IMG_4053It’s been a while since I updated all of Claire Bear’s fans on how she’s doing these days. Most readers know that she has spina bifida, that she had surgery just days after birth, and that we’ve been sort of waiting to see how much her spinal defect will affect her.

The short answer is: she’s doing great. She’s a chilled out, happy girl who is a bit of a ham. She can charm any stranger with her bright eyes, big smile, and penchant for waving, giggling, and clapping. She is also a very observant little person, and seems to constantly be watching and figuring the world out. Even though she’s not into eating solid food yet, she loves to swipe pieces of it off her sister’s high chair tray, and before she got moved into the older room at daycare, would sit on the mat and swipe toys from smaller babies as they crawled by. She even figured out, on her own, from observing Etta, how to get from sitting unsupported down to her belly so she can roll around to wherever she wants to go. Where I used to be able to count on finding her wherever I left her, now she’s known to roll out of her room and down the hall. They even call her “the mechanic” at daycare, because she likes to roll under all the cribs and appears to be inspecting and fixing them.

Medically, she is doing really well also. She had a looooong day at the spina bifida clinic yesterday, and we saw rehab, urology, and orthopedics. Ortho continues to be impressed with how much function and sensation she appears to have in her legs considering the location and severity of her spinal defect, and the good news from urology is that we don’t have to start using catheters or anything at this point (bladder issues are very very commonly associated with spina bifida). Rehab, formerly a sore spot for us since one doc declared “she will never walk” after a very poor examination even after we said that she supports her weight on her legs for short periods, went OK too. We actually got to show the doctor how she can stand with support, and we got our first prescription for some AFOs, essentially her first pair of leg braces, which we hope will support her ankles and knees and help her learn to crawl, stand, and walk.

She’s been going to physical therapy for a couple of weeks now, and we are so happy to finally have that started. The therapist turns out to be the older sister of a friend from high school, and I have to say I just love her. Despite a very teary first session in which Claire *wailed* the entire time (her stranger anxiety has really ramped up lately– she also recently wailed at ZaZa’s, a local pizza joint, when the most grandmotherly, sweet-looking woman in the world dared to approach her), Claire has realized her PT is pretty cool and has neat toys, and now only cries when tired or frustrated with an activity.

Because Claire needs 3 PT sessions per week, 3 OT sessions per week, and now we’re talking about adding in speech therapy to help with her oral issues, we are working on getting her into a developmental preschool where she could receive all these therapies on site. With another one year old to wrangle, coordinate care for, and generally deal with, taking her to and attending that many sessions per week myself would really just be a logistical nightmare, and we’re so thankful this is even an option, that I could drop her off and know she was getting care from folks who don’t have a single issue accommodating her needs. Much as we LOVE LOVE LOVE our current daycare, the fact that she’s the only kid in her room who can’t feed herself or take a sippy cup is a bit of an issue. Even better, the preschool takes siblings, too, so if I get a job in the fall, Etta could join her. And the best news of all? Claire’s Medicaid TEFRA, a benefit she qualifies for because of her disability, for which we pay an income based premium, which covers basically all of her care not covered by the insurance we get through my husband’s work, would completely cover the cost of the preschool for Claire. AMAZING!

So, now I’m on the hunt for cute shoes that fit over AFOs (I’m thinking a sweet pair of mint green Vans might be my choice), and just generally excited that our sweet girl is finally getting the help she needs to make some progress in the mobility department. She’s starting to realize that Etta can do things she can’t, and it has her raring to go!

 


4 Comments

but which one’s older?

IMG_3204Last night I was reading a New York Times profile of Megan Rapinoe, a soccer star I really admire. The piece mentioned that she has a twin sister, and went out of it’s way to let readers know that her sister is “older by 11 minutes.” Cue the sound of a record scratching in my mind.

I have twin daughters. People love to ask us questions in public, and one of their favorites is “Which one is older?”

Let me stop right here. Say you meet someone. Say it comes up that you were both born on March 28. Would you ask that stranger what precise hour and minute he or she was born? Or would you just say, “Wow, we have the same birthday! We’re the same age!”

I think people ask this question because, like most of our first-meeting questions, we’re trying to “place” people and figure them out. Asking about birth order lets us know which one is supposed to be the bossy older sibling, and which one is supposed to be the attention-seeking youngest. People even seem to believe that the “older” twin should also be the bigger one, as if the 6 lb. size difference that currently exists between Etta and Claire could be attributed to a head start gained by a few extra minutes out in the world. These things are stereotypes at best, and they’re simply not useful in the case of twins, and, I believe, can be harmful. It attempts to impose a hierarchy where none exists.

I have heard about “older” twins lording it over younger twins, and about parents who truly treat their twins as if there is some sort of inborn difference that results from what is essentially the luck of the draw. Wherever an egg implants in the uterus, the twin closest to the “exit” is born first. And in the case of a c-section, isn’t it just whom the surgeon grabs first?

In a society that loves to label people and to lump twins together, I want my girls to feel loved and supported for the individuals they are, not shoehorned into some sort of role, be it birth order, or gender, or religion, or whatever. I don’t want strangers deciding that one is “the bossy one” because she’s “older” or something. I’m even thinking I may just keep mum on the whole thing if asked. Because really, from the moment of conception, their cells have been dividing the same. The entire time I was pregnant, they were the same gestational age. They still are. Who was first pulled out into the sterile brightness of the operating room really doesn’t matter much to me.


2 Comments

Feeding Miss Etta

IMG_3650

I’ve posted a little bit about feeding my girls, but after a few comments on Twitter and Instagram about Miss Etta’s eating habits, I thought it might be helpful to go ahead and write a more detailed post about my semi-Baby Led Weaning table-food-eating one year old.

We started introducing solids in the form of purees around 6 months, but from the start, Etta wanted little to do with being spoon fed. She likes to do things by and for herself, and the whole thing was largely a very messy battle with her wanting to control the spoon, and very little food winding up in her mouth. By about 9 months, she was still mostly not eating food, so we decided to try “Baby Led Weaning,” which I had mostly heard of on mama message boards. Basically, Baby Led Weaning is giving kids pieces of food that they can feed themselves. I never read the books on the subject, but there are many, as well as websites, so feel free to seek that stuff out. We just started giving her steamed hunks of sweet potato and carrot, about adult finger sized, and from there eventually wound up graduating to just feeding her foods.

These days, my entire fridge is full of little tupperwares of Etta meal components. Then her meals are basically just multiple choice problems. Breakfast is usually fruit+grain+dairy, and lunch and dinner are protein+veggies+grain, with an occasional dairy item thrown in.

Fruits:

  • No sugar added applesauce (the only ingredients are apples and apple juice, but I may start adding cinnamon to give her some flavor), served in a Yummi Pouch.
  • I buy canned/jarred fruit a lot, and either give it to her to feed herself in chunks, or puree it in my Ninja Blender and serve it to her in a Yummi Pouch, often adding oatmeal baby cereal to it. We like peaches, pears, pineapple, and mixed tropical fruit in juice (not syrup).
  • Fresh fruits like pears, sliced into wedges she can hold and gnaw on. Hunks of banana or mango, sliced berries, and clementine segments have also gone over well. I’ve even bought frozen berries, thawed, and served them to her, though they were a huge mess. In the future, I may restrict berries to purees in the Yummi Pouch so she looks less like an extra from a zombie flick.

IMG_3663

Grains/starches:

  • We are big fans of toast+spreads, both for breakfast and dinner. Toast is usually a halved multigrain English muffin or multigrain bread. Spreads include guacamole, butter, hummus, jam, pumpkin butter, tahini, almond, and peanut butter. I cut the toast into strips of about adult finger size, and she goes to town. 
  • Tortillas, spread with any of the above spreads, or as a cheese quesadilla.
  • Earth’s Best baby crackers or graham crackers
  • Veggie pastas, like the kind with spinach and tomato in it, either plain or tossed in some simple tomato sauce (this is messy). Bowties and Penne seem easy to hold.
  • Spinach and cheese raviolis, cooked and cut into quarters.
  • Rice
  • Mashed potatoes, though this is a messy proposition and usually necessitates a bath as she smears it in her hair.
  • Roasted potatoes.
  • The occasional French fry.

Proteins:

  • BEANS! Etta loves beans. I buy organic canned beans (I admit, I’m not stressing about BPA in canned foods at this point, though I buy BPA free items whenever possible), and she likes kidney, pinto, black, and garbanzo beans. I just rinse them and keep them in a container in the fridge. She gets a handful at a time. Hummus on toast, as mentioned above, also counts as a serving of beans. Warning: you will see the bean peels when you change a poopy diaper. Do not be alarmed!
  • Cooked chicken, shredded or cubed. She usually only gets this if we’re having chicken for dinner.
  • Fish. So far she’s just had salmon when we were having it for dinner, but she was a fan. She loves flavorful stuff.
  • Scrambled tofu. She loved scrambled eggs until we had a pretty strong allergic reaction, and she likes scrambled tofu almost as much, particularly flavored up with chili powder and cheese.

Veggies:

  • Frozen mixed veggies have been a staple. They’re easy to steam in the microwave and store in a tupperware, and she gets to try a large variety. I often add butter or olive oil and some sort of spices or herbs, because I’ve discovered through serving her bits of our meals that she really loves flavor. Peas, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, green beans, zucchini, squash, butternut squash, edamame, and lima beans are all easy to get in the freezer section.
  • Sauteed, steamed, ora roasted fresh veggies are great too– whatever we’re having for dinner, she often gets some. Zucchini seems to be a fave.
  • Halved cherry tomatoes. She loves these. The acidity often irritates the skin on her face and hands though, so I can’t give them to her as often as she’d like. She noms all the goodness out and spits out the peels.
  • Weird stuff, like hearts of palm from a salad we had, are always fun for her to try, and she often ends up loving them.

Dairy:

  • YOGURT. I make homemade yogurt, and she eats it in a Yummi Pouch.
  • Cheese. Cubed cheddar, jack, or mozzarella are easy, as is pre-crumbled goat cheese and feta. She loves them all.

When I have several of the above components, meals just become a simple matter of pulling out the containers and giving her a little of each category. Any time I don’t think she’s eaten a lot of the food, I give her a pouch of yogurt or apple sauce to round out the meal and fill her up. So far, she’s pretty willing to try just about anything, and she’s not very picky. I will be sure to update with a new post once we’re further into toddlerhood!

IMG_3657

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 3,963 other followers