the adventures of ernie bufflo

things magical and mundane


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toddler beds and going with my gut

Here’s the big secret no one tells you about parenting: we’re all winging it. But the bigger secret is: that seems to work beautifully most of the time. Before I had kids, I was worried about my maternal instincts. I wasn’t sure I had what it takes, wasn’t sure things would kick in like they should. Now, I’m not so sure I believe in maternal instinct so much as this: I spend more time with my children than I have ever spent with anyone except myself, thus, I know them almost as well as I know myself. I sense things about them. It sometimes seems like outright ESP, but the reality is, I pick up on even their tiniest signals, because I am with them all. the. time. And when you know someone that well, you do more than just finish each other’s sentences– you anticipate each other’s moods, needs, etc.

This was proven again recently when, upon hearing my girls one morning, just woken up across the hall from us, babbling and giggling to each other across the room in their cribs, I thought, “These kids are ready for toddler beds. I bet they’d like to get up and play and cuddle and chat with each other in the mornings, instead of being trapped in their cribs.” So, that day, my husband and I took a side off of each crib and put up the toddler rail, and just like that, our babies (aged 19 months) had toddler beds.

It has been amazing. They LOVE their big girl beds, and I am so glad I trusted my gut. Etta, who was bounced to sleep in her Baby Bjorn bouncer for every nap and night of her 19 months, gave up the bouncer and now goes awake into her bed and falls asleep there. Claire, who has been held and cuddled to sleep for every night of her 19 months…well, she would still prefer to be held, but she goes drowsy but awake into her bed without too much protest most of the time. (Except the last couple nights, in which she has been a bear whether held or placed in bed. I’m blaming teeth.) And in the mornings and after naps? Most of the time this crazy thing happens where they wake up and either wind up hanging out together in one bed, or they get up and play for anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour. As I write this post, Etta has been down for a nap, and though she woke up an hour ago, I’ve been listening to her talk, sing, and play for an entire hour. (Though, for the sake of honesty, this morning they woke up and immediately began a full on brawl over the same blue stuffed monkey.)

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After I heard them giggling and chatting, I went in and found them both hanging out in Claire’s bed.

Like any baby milestone, part of me is a little wistful and sad, because no more cribs is just another step out of babyhood. But, as with most things, the new step has been so positive, has been such an opportunity to see them growing and becoming themselves, that I feel excited and happy that I get to be here witnessing it. They were ready, so we did it. I am so very glad.

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What their room looks like now with big girl beds.


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doing disney with toddlers (and only one small backpack)

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I mentioned that we recently went on vacation. I did not mention that it was to the Happiest Place on Earth: Walt Disney World.  When my husband had a paper accepted at the biggest national conference in pediatrics, and when I found out the conference was in Orlando, we decided to make a family vacation of it and try taking the girls to Disney since kids under 3 get in free.

I grew up in Disney World. This is not hyperbole. My parents have an Orlando timeshare, and we went at least once, usually twice a year, from when I was 8 years old. For me, going back to Disney is almost as nostalgic as going to grandmother’s house. It’s a place full of happy memories that I know very very well. Because we went so often (it and the Gulf Coast were the only places we ever vacationed), my family did Disney a little differently than families who only ever go once. For us, the pressure was off to see and do EVERYTHING since we knew we’d be back, and because we had a season pass, my parents didn’t hesitate to get us out of there when it was time to go back to the condo and nap.

These two lessons formed the basis of my approach to this trip, and should serve as a warning to anyone attempting to take very small people to Disney:

  1. Do not expect to see and do EVERYTHING.
  2. Do not plan to spend a whole day at Disney World with toddlers.

By keeping those things in mind, we were able to truly enjoy our time in the parks with our tiny people. We had a 5 day non-park-hopping pass, which worked out fine. We were generally able to spend about half a day in the parks, and then the girls were done with stimuli, crowds, and the stroller and we had to leave and take naps at the condo. We probably could have come back in the evenings for a couple of hours, but by that point, we were tired too, so we stuck to quiet dinners and early bedtimes (our girls basically stayed on Central Time), and putting our feet up. We did two days at Magic Kingdom, and one day each at Epcot, Hollywood Studios (which will always be MGM to me!), and Animal Kingdom.

One major note: we went in October. The weather was lovely, but warm. We still got sweaty. I would NO WAY, NO HOW take toddlers to a Florida theme park in the summer. It would just be miserable, like pushing a stroller through the most crowded circle of hell. I do not think my sanity could take it. October is better. Nice weather, less crowded, and everything was decorated for Halloween. Also, we took advantage of off-season rates, and used Groupon to secure a two-bedroom condo with kitchen for $400 for the week. Also, the Magic Kingdom on Halloween itself is amazing– everyone we saw was wearing costumes, and some were quite elaborate! I think my favorite was a large family in which grandma was Snow White and every other family member was a dwarf.

Speaking of pushing strollers through hell: this is what it would be like if you rented a Disney stroller, no matter what time of year. Those things are terrible, made of hard plastic which can’t be comfy for little bodies, don’t recline, and I saw more than a few tip over backwards in our time at the parks. On top of that, renting a double stroller at Disney is $31 per day. Insanity. Because we were driving there, and because our resort had cribs and high chairs, we had room in our car for our beloved Baby Jogger City Select double stroller. If you are flying, I highly recommend looking into stroller rental in Orlando. I scoped out the names of several of the companies I saw on the Baby Jogger City Mini Doubles being pushed through the park, and it seems $95/week, delivered straight to your hotel, is a standard rate for a high quality double stroller that won’t make you hate yourself as you push it through one of the most crowded places on earth.

Our beloved Baby Jogger City Select in nap-mode at EPCOT.

Our beloved Baby Jogger City Select in nap-mode at EPCOT.

Another thing about strollers: unless you pack an umbrella (which I don’t recommend, because you’re going to want a sun canopy, basket, and reclining seats), plan on doing a smidge of extra walking. Disney parking lots are vast expanses of blacktop ruled over by attendants in yellow stripey uniforms, often on segways. You will park where they say to park. You will walk to the front of the cars. You will stand behind the yellow line. You will wait for the tram. You will disassemble your stroller and all the stuff you planned to stash in the basket to flatten it all and fit it into the tram while somehow holding on to your two small children. You will say “screw the tram” and leave your kids in their stroller with all their stuff stowed below as you elect to walk yourself to the Transportation and Ticket Center, which really isn’t as far as it seems.

Related: when going to the Magic Kingdom, Thou Shalt Ride the Monorail rather than be packed like an Ellis Island Immigrant onto the slow-moving cruise across Bay Lake on the Ferry Boat. Thou shalt arrive in half the time.

Admittedly, it had been a long time since I went to Disney with/as a small child, and I really wasn’t sure how much my kids would get out of it. A lot, it turns out. There’s plenty of stuff for little kids to ride (my kids are 18 months), and if you know what they can handle, the day will go quite smoothly. I know my kids well enough to know they can’t sit through any stage shows, stunt shows, fireworks shows, or parades. They also have no idea who most of the characters are, and will not get enough out of meeting any of them to justify standing in line for a photo op and autograph, so we skipped all the character meet and greets. They do however, love rides. In the Magic Kingdom alone, they rode and loved: Aladdin’s Magic Carpets, The Jungle Cruise, Pirates of the Caribbean, The Carousel, It’s a Small World (their fave), Winnie the Pooh, Voyage of the Little Mermaid, Dumbo, the Teacups, and absolutely could have ridden Peter Pan’s Flight, the Haunted Mansion (little kids don’t know it’s supposed to be scary), and the People Mover and the spaceships in Tomorrowland had we not run out of time. We were selective about which of the no-toddlers-allowed rides we chose to ride ourselves, utilizing Fastpasses or rider swap to get our turns on attractions the girls couldn’t enjoy, though for the most part, we focused on things that we could all do together.

The whole family on The Jungle Cruise.

The whole family on The Jungle Cruise.

Animal Kingdom was probably the second most fun park for the girls, Epcot third, and we really could have skipped Hollywood Studios entirely. Epcot was super fun for the adults, though, because it was the food and wine festival, and we enjoyed eating our way around the world via reasonably-priced small bites and little glasses of wine. Another good reason to visit in the fall.

Finally, here’s my biggest lesson from this Disney trip with toddlers: you reallllly do not need to be schlepping a week’s worth of luggage through the parks like I saw so many families (often with only one kid) doing. I was determined that we would only need a small backpack to carry all our gear, and I made it happen. Key: I did not pack much in the way of food, and I didn’t pack first aid items that could be obtained at the in-park First Aid or Baby Care centers. What I did pack:

  • A change of clothes for each kid
  • Two straw cups for sharing drinks at restaurants (my toddlers can’t quite handle the average lidded kids cup yet, and need something leak proof with a screw-on lid)
  • Two snack traps full of cereal (these they held in the stroller and did not put in the bag)
  • Two bibs
  • Two toddler forks
  • 4 baby food pouches
  • Diapers
  • Wipes
  • Changing pad
  • 2 catheter kits for my child with spina bifida
  • Sunscreen
  • Hand sanitizer
  • A sippy full of milk per child (which I refilled with milk purchased at restaurants, going insulated with these cups is a good idea to avoid having to bring a cooler)
  • The Nosefrida, because at least one kid always seemed to have a stuffy/runny nose, and this is the only thing that works

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If I were going in the warm weather, I might have included a swim diaper for each kid (there are some splash fountains at the parks I know they would like). Other than that, we shared food off our plates at lunch, were never in the parks at dinner, and never once needed anything or wished we had brought something else.

Beyond the contents of the backpack, our other crucial items were an Ergo carrier for each child. What we would do was, navigate the stroller to an area of the park, park the stroller in a designated area, put each kid into an Ergo, and go through lines that way, doing everything in that area before putting them back in the stroller and moving on to the next area of the park. By wearing our kiddos, who are very used to being worn and love it, we weren’t fighting with kids struggling to get down to the ground as we moved through lines, and we weren’t wearing ourselves out holding them. For some rides like It’s A Small World, I even left the kid in the Ergo for the duration of the ride. I cannot stress enough the importance of bringing a carrier that is comfortable for you both if you bring toddlers to Disney. These carriers were stashed under the stroller and easy to get on and off. They were also wearable WITH the backpack full of stuff, so we never had to leave the backpack behind, and because the backpack was small, we could always take it with us, even on the rides.

So, there you have it, my guide to Disney with toddlers. Have you ever taken a very small child on such a vacation? Have any tips or questions?

MouskeMama

MouskeMama

 


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toddlers are terrific

Before I had kids, I admit I didn’t know much about toddlers. I’d heard a lot about the terrible twos and threes (and debate about exactly which is more terrible), but I hadn’t spent a lot of time around toddlers.

Can I just say that so far, I greatly prefer toddlers to infants? I know we’re only like 6 months into this toddler thing, and that my kids were a little late on the actual toddling, but this seems to be a really cool phase. They’re learning and growing and just exploding with personality. They’re curious and funny and yes, opinionated, quick to flop on the floor and wail, but also quick to giggle and squeal with delight.

20130917-100927.jpgClaire has really started walking. She uses a little push wagon as a walker, but when she’s all strapped into her braces, shoes, and de-rotation straps, she can book it. And she’s SO PROUD. She knows she has worked very hard in therapy to get to this point, and she is thrilled that she can finally do it. Watching her go just fills me with joy. When she was born with a more severe spinal defect than we had hoped, a myelomeningocele from L2 or 3 down into her sacrum, we were worried about what her mobility would be like. And here she goes, chugging away, totally besting our expectations. Now she’s decided she can do whatever her sister can do, and has taken to trying to climb the furniture. I’ve had to let her take a couple tumbles, because she refuses to believe me that gravity exists, and will literally take my hands off her body if I try to guide her. I guess gravity itself will be the best teacher when it comes to crawling off the edge of the couch.

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This morning, we walked into the girls’ room to get them up, and they were BOTH standing up, holding onto the crib rails. The first time Claire has done that, and she wasn’t even wearing her braces. She was just grinning. Love that girl.

20130917-100905.jpgEtta’s bursting with new skills and interests too. The one that does my English major heart the proudest is her discovery of books. Everyone says to read to your babies, and we have, but up until recently, they haven’t seemed to really enjoy it or be interested in it. Not so now. Etta will go to the shelf, pick out a book (her current faves are “How to be a Grouch by Oscar the Grouch,” an Ikea book called “Heroes of the Vegetable Patch,” and “Brown Bear, Brown Bear”), bring it over to wherever I am, hand it to me, crawl into my lap, and wait for me to start reading. She turns the pages most of the time, too. I read those three books hundreds of times a day, it feels like, but I don’t mind a bit.

Another fun Etta trait is asking “What’s dat?” and pointing her little finger. She’s interested in everything, and wants to know what words they’re called. It’s become a bit of a game we play in their room, which has lots of animal pictures on the wall, and she points to different ones almost like she’s giving me a pop quiz. She really enjoys hearing me say the word “jellyfish.” She loves to whisper the word “shoes,” and both girls are obsessed with the word “cat,” or, as Etta says it, “TAT!”

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Etta “fishing” on a recent outing to the Wonder Place.

Mealtime is also fun because they’ve started to figure out how to use a fork and spoon. They often eat what we eat, and I really enjoy all of us sitting down to dinner together. Claire has worked very hard in feeding therapy and is able to eat more and more foods and even occasionally drink from a sippy cup.

Overall, while there have certainly been some terrible toddler moments, I’m really soaking up the awesome ones.

 

 


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two years ago, there were TWO

On this day in history, Jon and I went to my first prenatal appointment. 8 weeks pregnant, and so excited to hear our baby’s heartbeat and get the official confirmation that we were indeed having a baby.

Because the doctor was a friend, she gave us a quick ultrasound so we could peek at the baby. She jiggled the wand a bit and showed us a little blob inside a bigger blob on the screen. “There’s your baby,” she said. We heard the thump thump thump of the heartbeat. We watched the blob for a bit, tears in our eyes, and then she jiggled the wand again and said the words that I will never forget:

“And now we’re going to take a look over here at baby number two.”

I said: “SAY WHAT?”

And sure enough, there was another little blob inside a bigger blob, thump thump thumping away.

My sweet husband, who had suspected he saw another blob before the doctor showed me, well, his first words on the subject were, “You’re going to get soooooo big,” squeezing my hand.

I just kept saying “WHAT?!”

Twins had not even been on my radar. It never even occurred to me to think or fear the possibility. On the way out of the doc’s office, we started calling friends and family, and to a person, they all thought we were joking. I kinda felt like the universe was joking.

To anyone newly pregnant with twins out there, let me tell you, the shock is normal. I think we just kept saying “Holy shit,” to each other for a couple of months. And let me also say, it’s normal, I’ve learned, to have many complicated feelings about the whole twins thing. I really think I had to mourn the loss of a normal pregnancy, of the images I had in my mind of one newborn and a lot of snuggling and gazing into each other’s eyes. I only ever typed or thought of the word as “TWINS?!” for months. And some days I still can’t believe that I have two babies.

Mostly, though, I can’t imagine not having twins. There has never been one without the other, from the minute I saw them on that ultrasound screen. There is no Claire without Etta and no Etta without Claire. While I can honestly say that there is much of the exhausting early days I barely remember because of the mind-numbing sleepless HARD of it all, this twin gig keeps getting better. They ask for each other. They wake up talking to each other in the mornings. They tickle each other and hug each other and kiss each other, and yes, bop each other on the heads and steal each other’s toys and pull each other’s hair.

It’s been a crazy ride from blobs to baby buddies, but it’s also been a beautiful one. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

twins ultrasound 8 weeks

 

 

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cinderetta

“Just ask Cinderella; the right pair of shoes can change your life!”

I once gave my fashionista sister a card that said that, but I think my Etta baby would agree. Girl is shoe OBSESSED.

While many parents battle toddlers to get shoes on and kept on, mine is constantly bringing me shoes, holding up her tiny foot, and demanding I put it on. Sometimes her shoes, sometimes mine. Today, she took the silver patent leather Birkenstocks right off my feet. And she’s not too concerned with matching shoes, either– one shoe, two different shoes, these are valid options.

I’m not kidding about the tiny feet, either. She’s 17 months old, and she wears size 2 shoes, or a 6-12 month size. We’ve hung out with other kids her age, and their feet are no joke, twice the size of hers. This means occasionally, shoes fall right off her feet. Just the other day, I had to go back out to some steps, where little Cinderetta had lost a silver slipper.

Wearing one red sparkle shoe, wielding a toothbrush, fleeing a very giggly speed-crawling Claire. Just a typical afternoon in the Bufflo home.

Wearing one red sparkle shoe, wielding a toothbrush, fleeing a very giggly speed-crawling Claire. Just a typical afternoon in the Bufflo home.


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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!


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An Etta Update

20130706-163932.jpgYou know, Etta’s never had an update of her own, though Claire’s had many. So here’s the scoop on our littlest lady.

She’s the littlest big kid I’ve ever seen.

She’s like one of those super concentrated detergent packages, a big punch of personality in a tiny body. She’s in the 10th percentile for both height and weight, and I often find myself calling her things like “Peanut,” “Little Britches,” “Itty Bitty Etta Baby,” and “the Tiny One.” And yet, despite her small stature, there’s no denying that there’s very little “baby” left in this toddler. She’s on the go go go, climbing furniture yet lacking the confidence to let go and walk without holding onto something. In fact, this is a pattern with her, fierce independence paired with strong attachment, which is really how attachment is supposed to work, as I understand it, with a strong attachment giving her the trust to strike out on her own. She likes to play near but not with us, but returns frequently for a hug or to lay her head down on me and have me stroke her hair. She loves trying new things as long as we’re nearby, and she loved a recent trip to the splash park, laughing with almost maniacal glee as her daddy walked with her through sprays of water that kind of freaked her sister out.

Splashing happily at the splash pad.

Splashing happily at the splash pad.

I left the room for a split second and she ended up here.

I left the room for a split second and she ended up here.

She’s also a total ham. She’s mastered the wave and the blown kiss, and she pairs both with an adorably squeaked “heyyyyyy” or “haiiiiiii” or “byyyyyye,” for maximum effect. Recently we were at a party standing with a group of people. I asked Etta if she wanted to go outside, and she waved to the group and said “byyyyyye!” They all “awwwwed.”

This big personality means very big feelings too. When she is happy, she is very very happy, and when she is sad, she is very very sad. Often, her sadness is related to my thwarting of her plans for mischief and mayhem: why won’t I let her sit on the end tables? Why won’t I let her fling herself off the couch? Why won’t I let her chew on iPhones and remotes? Why won’t I let her turn the Xbox on and of and on and off and on and off? Because I’m the worst.

My tiny tot often has disheveled hair, dirty knees, grubby hands, and a mischievous gleam in her eye. I’m so glad she’s mine.

Coming back for snuggles, with a bottle stolen from sister.

Coming back for snuggles, with a bottle stolen from sister.


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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.
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  • 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.

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Just last week. Knocks her out every time.


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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.


Etta and Claire’s First Fiesta

Well, it’s official. My baby girls are now leaving the baby stage behind and headed toward toddlerhood, as they are ONE! I’d be sad about how quickly time has passed, and continues to pass, but they are mostly so much fun right now that who can be sad about that? They’re exploring and learning and growing and really coming into themselves personality wise. They interact with each other more than ever, and their relationship is so cool to watch. Etta will be walking any day now, and we hope Claire will be catching up soon, as she’s getting started with PT and OT (I promise a complete Claire update soon). Basically: having one year old twins is just crazy and busy and cool, and I don’t have time to be too wistful.

We celebrated the first year of their lives, and the fact that we survived it, with a fiesta full of people we love and who love us. My fashionista sister not only came all the way from Nashville with her new FIANCE and two pugs in tow, but she also took lots of pictures with her big fancy camera. So, now you get to share in what was a truly lovely day, despite gray, drizzly skies that forced what was supposed to be a back yard party indoors. Not that location matters much when you have a margarita machine, you know?

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