Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Somebody's got a case of the Wednesdays

I think I might need to swap the kids' cribs.  They both managed to wake up on the wrong side of them this morning.

Normally at the first sounds of life, I get up, get some sippy cups of milk for them, get a cup of coffee and a Kashi bar for myself, head into the nursery where I'm greeted happily with squeals and silliness, change diapers, and we all hang out drinking our beverages in the living room until Mike comes back from the gym and does breakfast.

This morning the first sounds of life were Michael just plain crying.  I hurried to the kitchen for sippies (skipped my coffee for the moment), grabbed him from his crib (skipped diapers for now), and went back for Sophie.  Once I was settled on the couch with my coffee and Kashi bar, they were after me like adorable zombies demanding nibbles.  Handfuls of Cheerios tided them over temporarily, but we were off to a rocky start, that's for sure.

Even after breakfast they were grumpy, clingy, whiney little buddies.  We played with dump trucks, read BIGFATCATERPILLAR (known as The Very Hungry Caterpillar to the rest of the world), and played Kerplop on Your Pillow (they set their pillows on the floor and sit on them repeatedly--I think you have to be one to appreciate it), but they still just weren't themselves.  Offenses like attempting to take the other's toy normally inspire yells of protest but today led to genuine crying and big wet tears.  Moments between breakdowns were short and unsteady.  Sophie had a fever several days ago, but it's good and gone now.  I took Michael's temp, but it appears that I just have some unhappy toddlers on my hands today.

So I gave in, pulled up Sprout On Demand, and we watched a 15 minute episode of Thomas.  Typically a little break from reality while lounging on the living room floor works wonders.  And it pretty much did.

And yes, I know I sound like an idiot in these videos.  I'm ok with that.

But after the morning nap, the mood was unpleasant again, and we headed outside for some fun in the sun. Ok, we're fair-skinned red-heads here, so fun in the sun means fun in the shade while fully slathered in SPF 50 UVA/UVB zinc oxide sunscreen with hats on.  But that doesn't keep us from putting in some time with a good water table.

I've been putting off breaking out this toy until we have some time as a family to enjoy it, but I was eager to lighten the mood.  Hopefully he-who-put-said-toy-together won't mind.

Clearly, they didn't mind the water table, but there were very few smiles today.

We came in the house and I busied Michael and Sophie with toys in the playroom and snuck out to cut up last night's dinner into toddler-sized chunks for lunch.  But soon they were crying at the kitchen door baby gate, desperate for something.  I assumed it was lunch they were after, but that was dropped by the handful onto the floor within minutes of hitting the high chair trays.

Today has not been the best. 

In fact, I'm filing today's memory away now for some day this fall when I'm fantasizing about being a stay at home mom instead of a working high school teacher mom.  I'll think of this and remember how even a perfectly typical day can get a little ugly.  I'll still long to be with Michael and Sophie, but keeping things in perspective is helpful.

I'm hoping the afternoon nap lasts a loooooooooooong time and that my little buddies wake up happier campers for the next round of summer fun.  I'm thinking we need to get ourselves a swinging fix.

Monday, July 25, 2011

New look for S&D

Until a few days ago I had never seen another blog with the same dandelion seed background as Shared and Doubled, but within a 24 hour timeframe I stumbled on three.  Time for a new look.  Maybe someday I'll go so far as to design my own background, but for now I'm satisfied with this one from Blogger and the few style choices I made in regards to colors and fonts.  I hope it's pleasing to eyes other than my own!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Blankets and pillows? Check!

As I mentioned, I recently bought a vintage chenille bedspread and some fabric that I planned to transform into some blankets and pillows.  Thanks to a heat wave that kept us trapped indoors for nearly a week, I have crossed that project off the to-do list!

I made a 12"X16" pillow for the rocker and a crib-sized blanket and 12"X12" faux-box pillow for both kids. None of this will be used in their cribs, but I wanted these pieces to coordinate with the nursery in case we want to use them when we convert the cribs to toddler beds.

The rug is the inspiration for everything in the room and helped me envision the striped pillows.

Below is Sophie's set...

...and Michael's...

...and a pillow for the chair.

 I made the blankets long enough to just fit over the mattress and wide enough to just cover the front of it.  That way we can easily "make" the toddler beds by laying the blankets out flat.  The pillows are a good size for the kids to carry around and snuggle, which is how all pieces are likely to get most of their use.

The blankets are reversible with the green chenille on one side and fabric that coordinates with the crib skirts (not currently in use) and Clouds and Stars sheets on the other.  While the nursery has become a bit of a pastel paradise, I like that the blankets and the pillow for the chair can all just be displayed with the green side.  How I do love simplicity.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Today's mess was brought to you by...

FROZEN BLUEBERRIES!  When baby's first molars and a heat wave arrive simultaneously, frozen blueberries are in order.

Michael and Sophie had moderate interest in these mesh feeders during the first round of teething, but today as you can see, Sophie was thrilled with her frozen treat.  Those molars have been making her miserable.  Michael didn't get quite as into it but seemed as amused by Sophie as I was.   

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Yep, still decorating the nursery.

I've accepted that this is just how I am.  I don't decorate a room and leave it alone.  I usually start pretty simple and then add and revise and eventually start all over when a new idea comes to me.  Playing with my house is just a creative outlet for me.

Recently I said I was going to make valances for the nursery with a vintage chenille bedspread.  But I changed the plan.  I just don't really like valances.  They're a safe choice with the cribs so close to the windows but are a little too '90's to me, which is why I haven't given in and put some up already.

I decided I would try instead to turn this:

into a couple of toddler blankets and a few pillows.   I found some great sewing tips on Prudent Baby.  Stay tuned to see how it goes!

The goal with the valance idea wasn't so much to decorate the windows (I like them plain) as it was to break up all the white--white trim, white shades, white furniture, white hardware.  White hardware?

Here's the solution I came up with.

The knobs are from The Great Indoors and weren't exactly the most frugal choice.  But Mike and I like them.

I chose bronze to coordinate with the scrapbook page frames and to break up the white with some brown.

We did put up some new white shades, cordless blackout ones that thankfully all but disappear when up.  I don't love how they look down (again, pretty '90's), but their safety and functionality make them worth keeping open when it's not sleepy time.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Meet the new additions to our stroller family

With a turning radius, foldablity, and canopies that set it apart from most others, our Baby Jogger City Mini Double stroller is fantastic.  There are times, however, when one or two simple umbrella strollers might better suit the situation.  So we just bought two of these:
They're the Especially For Baby Lightweight Strollers from Babies R Us and were $30 each  (the wheels looked better to me than the $20 option).  We used them today to navigate the crowds at an art fair and found the canopies to be adequate, the storage bags to be convenient, and the joy of pushing only one child each to be a nice treat.  Michael and Sophie enjoyed being turned to face each other now and then when we stopped.

We also picked up a set of these in case joining the two strollers together ever seems necessary:
They're Munchkin Stroller Links.  We haven't tried them out yet, but they fit easily in one of the stroller storage bags and can live there until the need for them arises.

With the addition of a cup and snack holder to each (already had one), we were in good shape with these strollers.  They certainly don't have the durability or comfort factors of the City Mini, but it's nice to have options.  Maybe someday we'll go on a plane.  Maybe one day I'll go to the mall with just Sophie while Mike takes Michael somewhere equally stereotypical.  It's good to know we're prepared for such adventures. 

Our one complaint is that the umbrella strollers are clearly designed for shorties like me and weren't especially comfortable for Mike to push.  I found a handle extender we could buy and a how-to article about cutting the handles off an old junk stroller and fashioning something similar on your own, but we'll see if it comes to buying another accessory or getting all crafty.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

So far so good!

This morning Sophie and Michael napped in the car on the way to a local art fair.  With a couple of stops on the way during which I ran errands while Mike manned the nap mobile, the drive was about an hour.  Right now, at 6:27 p.m., both toddlers are sound asleep after a smooth bed time. 

It occurred to me that the last two nights that I didn't have to hold Sophie for hours until she conked out were Monday and Tuesday.  On Monday we drove to visit family during the morning nap, and the drive is one hour.  On Tuesday I turned off the sound machine at 10 a.m. knowing Michael and Sophie would wake so I could get them ready for an outdoor kids' concert.  They had gone to sleep at 9 a.m. as usual. 

So I feel confident tonight's success isn't a fluke.  One hour morning naps seem to produce easy bed times.  Please don't prove me wrong tomorrow, buddies!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Time to drop the morning nap?

When I return to my classroom in the fall, Sophie and Michael will return to their child care center.  They will be in the toddler room where there is only one nap, so at some point this summer I plan to drop the morning one.  I've just been waiting for some signs from them that it's time.

Both Michael and Sophie go down great for their two naps.  When one or both of them start getting sleepy at around 9 a.m. and 1 p.m., I turn on their sound machine, change their diapers, put on their sleep sacks, and lay them in their cribs.  They stare up calmly as I leave the room and silently sleep for at least an hour and a half for both the morning and afternoon naps. 

Lately, however, Michael has been waking up in the middle of his afternoon nap, and Sophie has been struggling with going to sleep at night.  I think what's happening is a sort of domino effect.  They typically sleep for two hours in the morning.  I'm thinking this makes Michael wake up early in the afternoon, cuts Sophie's afternoon sleep short as a result, and leads her to be overtired by bedtime (already pretty early at 6 p.m.). 

I'm planning to shorten the morning nap to one hour tomorrow to see if that helps Michael sleep better in the afternoon and Sophie go down at night.  Perhaps this will also get them to sleep later in the morning.  Michael has not gotten the message that we don't have to get up at 5:30 a.m. during the summer.  Wish us luck!

If you're another parent looking for sleep advice, I've found this blog pretty helpful.  It's based on On Becoming Babywise, the book that details the eat-play-sleep approach.  I also like Healthy Sleep Habits Happy Child which puts a lot of emphasis on daytime sleep impacting nighttime sleep and supports letting babies cry at night to encourage self-soothing.  When Michael and Sophie are both healthy and not teething, we've put that philosophy to work with great results.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Our summer uniforms

If you see a mom in this...

...pushing a stroller with a little girl in something like this...

...and a little boy in a romper like this..

...then it's probably us.

When hitting this past spring's mom-to-mom sales, I tried to envision my then crawling Michael and Sophie as walkers, out and about in the summer.  This vision led me to buy two boy and two girl rompers, and that seller confirmed that they were the perfect choice when her twins were this age last summer.  That's the main reason I'm writing this post, for moms who are me one year ago.  It's helpful to know what you'll want down the road so you can scope it out either previously used or at end of season sales ahead of time.

The outfits above are from Old Navy.  I'm actually wearing that dress right now and also have it in blue from earlier in the season.  I'm a big fan of their ribbed tanks, yoga pants, and sweat capris too.  Most of the kids' rompers and Sophie's dresses are from ON as well, but we also have a few from Carter's, most bought second-hand, a few still with the tags.

The key ingredients I've aimed for in our summer wardrobes are jersey fabric and one-piece outfits for easy dressing and washing.  Jersey looks pretty good even after sitting for a few hours (or days) in the dryer, after riding in the car under seatbelts, and right out of the suitcase.  Additionally, the kids' gear is simple for diaper changes, my dresses and tank tops allow me to wear a decent bra, and all are super comfy to keep us from getting too cranky in the heat. 

If that mom with the stroller is me, she probably has a cinnamon, non-fat, iced latte in the stroller's cupholder to help with the heat and potential crankiness as well.  Our local Bigby Coffee drive-through probably recognizes our minivan coming down the road and starts preparing my accessory.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Our first family swim

Because their pediatrician advised us to wait to apply sunscreen or go in a pool with Michael and Sophie until they were six-months-old, and that took us into October of last year, we never took the kids swimming while they were infants.

A goal of mine for our recent vacation was to make use of a hotel pool and cross this milestone off the list.

Luckily Mike's parents were along to assist us, take pictures, and enjoy this first.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Road trippers!

Our trip out east at the end of June included two days on the road there, a day at Mike's family reunion in Massachusetts, breakfast with the family, and two days on the road back.  We looked into flying, especially since Michael and Sophie could fly for free for ten more months, but we decided to drive in order to save a little money (trust me, we really did the math) and bring along plenty of gear. 

As tentative as I was to spend a total of 24 hours in the car keeping two 14-month-olds comfortable and entertained, the thought of a family road trip did appeal to my sense of adventure.  When I discovered that the Niagara area where Mike and I vacationed a couple of years ago was a good half-way point to stop, the journey looked even more enticing.  I found an affordable Hilton Garden Inn right off the expressway and a short drive from downtown Niagara-on-the-Lake, an area we knew my mother-in-law would love with its Victorian charm.   With an another affordable but sophisticated hotel (Holiday Inn Express) to stay at in Massachusetts, the trip came together nicely.

Luckily my father-in-law took plenty of fantastic pictures on the trip including the ones in NOTL below.  As many strangers have pointed out over the last year, I tend to have my hands full!  I created photobooks from his pictures and mine that we'll be sharing with family members, so I'm holding off on posting reunion pictures at least until they've been shared privately.

Our trip went smoothly (we hardly missed a beat getting a tire repaired on the way back) and was enjoyable for all.  We were even able to take the babies to the beach and swimming for the first time in the hotel pool (the next post will have pictures) in NOTL.  Most importantly, we made some great memories with family including Mike's parents who caravanned with us for the whole trip and Mike's brother and sister-in-law who flew to out MA from Minneapolis.  Introducing Michael and Sophie to their extended family, especially their great-grandparents, was also very special.

Here are some tips for travelling on the road with young toddlers that worked well for us:
  • Plan driving around the usual daily sleep and eating schedule, and expect to stop every couple of hours.
  • Pack lots of snacks, sippy cups, and small bowls for serving.
  • Bring portable foods for meals like bananas, jars, pouches, and milk boxes to cut down on unhealthy and expensive meals on the road.
  • Buy Tiny Diner portable placemats if you haven't already.
  • Bring a variety of toys for the car and some bigger ones for the hotel.
  • Don't forget the lullabye CD's, especially the ones that are already familiar.
  • If the kids are in captain's chairs in the middle of a minivan facing the rear, strap a laptop in the very backseat with a seatbelt for an emergency DVD (Baby Einstein's Baby McDonaldwas our pick).  I also sat back there occasionally, and they seemed to appreciate the visits.
  • Pick a hotel on the way that offers entertainment for all to add to the vacation experience.
  • Get the kids used to Pack and Plays at least during naps the week before if they're not already comfortable in them; bring extra sheets just in case.
  • Create a sleep environment similar to home.  For us that meant bringing sleep sacks and the sound machine.
  • Keep the diaper bag stocked with the fundamentals at all times for those many stops.
  • Let your type A tendencies run wild in order to keep it all organized along the way.  I used a bunch of reusable shopping bags and nicknamed them "the kitchen,"the playroom," and "the nursery" to keep everything straight. 
  • Buy a Chysler Town and Country.  It made our trip very comfortable!

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