>Learning to deal with independent twin toddlers. Alternate title: Trying not to lose my sh*t.

>Currently, Maddy and Libby go to preschool 3 mornings a week and they absolutely love it. For the past month, we have been walking to and from the car to the classroom instead of using their stroller. I know this may not sound like a big deal, but when you have two little ones to get out of the car, up the stairs, past the playground, into the church, down the hall, and into the classroom, it can sometimes be a challenge.

Mornings are usually a piece of cake. They will wait on the sidewalk for me, they don’t pay attention to the playground, and they typically walk right to their room. OK, sometimes Maddy wants to push the stroller by the crib room, but typically we are OK.

Afternoons are a whole other world. At first, they were OK. Then, they wanted on the playground, so I started going another way. Then, they wanted to check out other hallways. Then, they wanted to climb into the bye-bye buggies that were in the hallway. Then, they wanted to sit in the little chair outside the school director’s door. Then, they would refuse to walk to the door and I would end up carrying screaming children (often with the help of a teacher, or school director) to the car.

Today, on the last day of school, 3 bye-bye buggies were parked outside of their classroom. I cringed. I brought the stroller today, because I knew we would have extra items to carry (leftover diapers, emergency clothes, etc), so I thought maybe I would be alright.

Of course, they both end up sitting in the buggies and whenever I would tell them that it was time to go, or actually pick them up, I was met with a screeching toddler, yelling “Nooooooo!” I finally just ignored the screaming, told them it was time to go, and had to force them into their stroller. Of course, they splayed their legs and arms out making this difficult so I really felt bad pushing them into their seats. Two other Moms tried to help out, but it was really just a nightmare.

I ended up carrying Libby, while pushing Maddy in the stroller, both were sniffing from crying, and I was hot and flustered from everything.

So, what is the solution? You want them to become independent and it’s hard to tell them not to climb in the buggy when it’s something they do every day. At 2, do they really know the difference? Or do they know the difference, and just know that they have the upper hand? We are usually on a schedule in the afternoons and I have to be back at work, so I don’t have time just to let them play for a few minutes. Should I start looking for books on raising headstrong children, or how not to get pushed around by your toddler, invest in the back pack leashes, or just result to dragging them down the hallway?

We have a month to come up with a good solution since school is out until after Labor Day. So, readers … get to work so I’m not known as “that Mom” at the preschool.

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>grilled cheese

>I made grilled cheese sandwiches for Maddy and Libby tonight and all of a sudden, I was thinking about fall and everything that I love about it.

Grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup for dinners, cool fall days with enough sun to warm your face, pumpkins, fall festivals, glasses of red wine, leaves on the ground, my favorite Japanese maple tree turning fiery red in our backyard, sitting outside on patios during those perfect days where it’s warm, but not too warm to sit outside, bonfires and sharing meals with friends, hayrides, scarves around your neck, the perfect long sleeve white tee shirt, those days where you can still wear shorts, opening the windows and letting fresh air in your home, running on a crisp fall morning, hiking in the mountains, cuddled up and reading a book under a blanket, hot apple cider, the anticipation of Halloween and hearing the laughter of children in the neighborhood, watching college campuses come to life, wearing your favorite boots for the first time, needing a sweatshirt on a cool morning, feeling the warmth of a coffee cup in between your hands.

Then I stepped outside and it was still hot and humid, so I calmly shut the door and went back into the air-conditioning.

Sigh.

I love fall, but as I re-read my list, everything is about food or clothes. Oh well.

>Irony, or my karma is shot.

>We aren’t potty training Maddy and Libby yet, but I did pick up two potties and decided to keep them out in the bathroom. I thought we could ask them before going to bed, before a bath, if they’d like to try to go. Lately, both Maddy and Libby will remove their diapers and bring them to us. Sometimes wet, sometimes dry. I’m not sure if they are doing this because they have new babies whose diapers comes off, or if they just wanted a new one, or just want to drive us crazy.

So on Saturday, it was bath night and we asked them if they wanted to sit on the potty. Maddy sat on it for a few minutes, but nothing happened. We asked Libby and she immediately said “no.” As soon as she stepped in the tub, she did go potty. Hubby and I just laughed. We went ahead and gave them a bath … I figure it was probably mostly water anyway, right?

So, we were nearly through with their bath and all of a sudden, I hear Hubby say “Shit.” Literally. Someone had pooped in the tub.

Who needs a potty when you have a big ol’ bathtub?

>Clean livin’

>We’ve been trying to eat healthier, more local, and a bit cleaner/less processed here at the D. household. By no means are we perfect … Goldfish crackers still invade on a weekly basis and I’m not sure who eats more of them. I love supporting the local farmers at our farmers market, plus the produce is so much better than what we can find at our grocery stores. I really don’t think I can buy eggs at the grocery store ever again, because the quality of the local/farm-fresh is so much better.

I tried to bring this style of eating into my running fuel. I find myself needing a little boost on longer runs and I’ve always used Gu products before. Same with post-run, there’s nothing like an ice-cold cup of Gatorade to quench your thirst.

I was at my local running store and picked up some Stingers. These are organic, made with honey, energy chews. I liked the taste and the texture, but they just didn’t seem to give me the extra “boost” that the Gu Chomps do. I think I was missing the caffeine. I’ll definitely try them again and see if maybe I need to eat more of them than I do with the Chomps.

I think my biggest fail was the natural sports drink I heard about from one of my running buddies. It’s called Recharge and was available to Earth Fare, our “healthy” grocery store. She had actually found it for a $1/bottle at Big Lots so I stopped by to pick up a few. Yuck. Not good and I’m definitely not giving up my sugar laden Gatorade for this. Has anyone else tried it? Do you have any good sports drinks that you would recommend? I know that Gatorade is supposed to be the Kool-Aid of Sports drinks and while (I think) it tastes good, I don’t know if it’s doing anything to replenish me after a long run.

So, as I prepare for 10 miles tomorrow, I’m packing my bag with Gu Chomps and sticking a bottle of G2 Gatorade in the fridge.

>Little Gym and discovering orifices

>I decided to try out Little Gym today with Maddy and Libby. They had a good time even though they didn’t come to the red mat and introduce themselves like all the other kiddies. Mine were too busy playing on all the equipment leaving me to sing “Twinkle Twinkle” by myself. They had a good time and I think they could really get into it after they learned the ropes a bit more. Some of the kids there were totally fearless and you could tell that they had been coming for a while.

It worked out that Hubby could meet us for lunch and we decided to get pizza at Cici’s. Yep, it’s cheap, but I will say that those people are working hard, the store had a 100.5 health code rating, and they are constantly asking if you need anything. Not too shabby even if the pizza is just OK. Maddy and Libby loved the pineapple, pasta, and breadsticks so everyone left happy.

While we were there, we looked over to see Maddy with a finger up her nose. Then, Libby stuck hers in her nose. While Hubby and I tried hard not to laugh, we just couldn’t help it. Of course, they thought this was hilarious and refused to remove their fingers. I almost took a picture, but I decided against as I didn’t want to encourage them anymore. Their interaction and “teamwork” always makes me laugh and scares me a little. I have a feeling I’ll be doing whatever they demand in a few years when they tag-team me.

>A few more questions

>I have a few more questions to answer, but I wanted to take a break to ask if anyone else has seen the amazing looking strawberry layer cake in the current issue of Martha Stewart Living? I can’t find the recipe online, but I may have to post this deliciousness.

If I can really get serious and make this sucker, that would be even better. Too bad Martha didn’t include it in last month’s magazine when our fresh strawberries were really at their best.

They also have a frozen peanut butter/banana/graham cracker recipe that looks wonderful, too.

Can you tell I’m entering higher mileage in my training and all I want to do is eat? I really can’t believe that it’s almost time for my 3rd half marathon of the year in about 7 weeks. How did that happen?

>Answering … high school, college, and how I ended up here

>Emily asked what high school and college were like for me. This is feeling a little bit like therapy, but I guess I’ll write it down anyway.

High School … I had been attending a private school that was K-12 off and on since 1st grade. I attending 1st grade there, then switched to a public school for 3 years, and then went back to the private school in the 5th. I don’t really remember how all of this transpired, or why, but that’s what happened. I think my Mom personally knew my 2nd grade teacher and really wanted me to have her so we made the switch. So, I was in 9th grade and told my parents that I wanted to switch back to public. My thinking was that by attending a school where I had 20 in my class, I was never going to be able to cut it when I went to college and had classes with hundreds of people.

So, they let me switch, but sent me to the “good” high school that wasn’t in our zone. Not that we were in a bad area, but there were plenty of people at my supposedly “good” high school that were doing the same things that everyone at the “not so good” high school were doing.

I had friends, but I was also a bit of an outsider. I was in my punk rocker/bad poetry/hair in my face phase and just didn’t know exactly where I fit in. I enjoyed English and Art, tolerated History, and struggled through Algebra and Chemistry. I ended up being friends with the cheerleaders and the popular girls even though I’m sure I didn’t look like them or listen to the same music that they liked. I always liked school, teachers liked me, I stayed out of trouble even though I do remember forging late notes from my Mom in the parking lot when I was late for school. I did Sub Debs, went through Presentation and all of that. I ended up meeting a guy and having my first real boyfriend when I was a Junior. He went to a different school and was a year younger, so when I graduated he was still finishing up his Senior Year. Yes, I went to Prom as a college freshman. Say it with me, La-0-ser. But, I did have a great dress because I was so much older and wiser than all of those college seniors.

High School seems so far away now, but I have good friends and memories that I still cherish. I remember being nominated for our “Friendliest” superlative, but lost out by a few votes to a girl named Brandi. Sigh.

Onto college. All my friends were going away to to the larger schools in TN or in Kentucky and I was planning to go away to college in KY with one of my good friends, Beth. At decision time, I decided to stay and attend college in my hometown, where my Dad had graduated from. Not to mention, I had the boyfriend.

Freshman year was probably no different than my senior year of high school. I lived at home, dated the boyfriend, worked part time, and that summed up my life. Sophomore year rolled around and I decided to go through Sorority Rush, my friends that went away to college in other cities all came home, I ditched the boyfriend, and moved in with my oldest friend and now sorority sisters.

This was a little more what college should be like. It was still a bit of a mixed experience. I didn’t live at home, but we didn’t live on campus. My friend that I lived with had a condo that her Dad owned (and it was AWESOME). I was a good student, but probably not as serious as I should have been. Looking back, I cringe when I think about some of the grades I made when I could have done better, but sometimes wine and cheese mixers at the Pike house took precedent. I majored in Communications, with a minor in English and really loved my classes and professors. My sorority/women’s fraternity (Chi Omega) was definitely a big part of my life and I served in several leadership capacities, including Chapter President. Some of those ladies are still my closest friends today and I am glad I made the decision to join.

Do I regret not going away to school? Sometimes. Do I regret not doing things like studying abroad? Definitely. I had a good experience, but there are definitely things I would do differently if given the chance.

Laura C. asked how I got to Greensboro.

After college, I attended graduate school in Chattanooga, TN with one of my best friends. We had always said that we wanted to attend college together, but it just wasn’t feasible, so grad school seemed like the next best idea. During our 2nd year, she got married and moved to Alabama. I had taken the first semester off to travel, so I finished out the second semester and started applying for jobs. My thought was that I would get a job and go to school part time. I really felt like I wasn’t ready for grad school since I had no real world work experience. I interviewed for a job in High Point, NC, got the position, and moved to Greensboro in May 2008 sight unseen. My other plan was to go to work in Yellowstone National Park again for the summer and enroll in the Masters of Corporate Communication program at my alma mater. Yellowstone is a whole other part of my life that I should really write down. As cheesy as it sounds, it was pretty life changing for me and was my first time living on my own. I probably grew up more in those two summers than I did all of college.

Greensboro has been a great city for me and for our family and it’s hard to believe that I’ve been here for over 10 years. I left briefly when I was transferred with my first company, but returned after about 6 months. Hubby likes to call it the biggest smallest town you will find. We have plenty to do, Raleigh and Charlotte are nearby if you need a “big” city, plus the beach and mountains a few hours away too. I’m involved in my community, we know our neighbors, we have good friends, it’s a great area for our family, plus I honestly like the area.

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>Answering … must have baby registry items

>Sweet Sarah who is expecting a BOY asked about must have baby registry items.

Well, my experience may be slightly different because I had two, but I’m sure that a lot of the items would translate well for anyone.

Items that I couldn’t have lived without …

Some sort of baby chair/bouncer seat. Not only is this a good spot for napping when they are little, it provides a safe space where they can sit and look at toys around them, and you can use it to sit and feed them when they are starting rice cereal, solid foods, etc, but can’t sit in a high chair. We had a Boppy brand and one that was Fisher Price papasan style that we borrowed from a friend. I liked them both.

Swing. I know that some Pediatrician’s are against the swing, but there were some days that this was the only thing that made my babies happy. We had the Fisher Price papasan style … both a new one and one that we borrowed. Loved, loved, loved them both.

Dr. Brown’s Formula Mixer Pitcher. This rocked. I nursed/pumped for eight months, but we also had to supplement with formula. Since I had two, this pitcher came in handy because I could make up a larger quantity, the mixer really took care of any clumps, and then the formula was in the fridge, ready to go. We used all Dr. Brown’s bottles and had good success with them so I never tried any others.

Medela Breast Pump. It ain’t a pretty sight, but if you need to pump, Medela’s are the best and you can find the hospital grade models easily too.

Halo Sleep Sacks. My daughters still sleep in a sleep sack. Yes, they do go up to an XL that goes up to 36 pounds so I figure that we still have a little more time for these. They liked being swaddled when they were small, but once they got too big for the swaddle blanket, they would never keep a blanket on them and I was always freaked out about suffocation. This way, they stay safe and comfortable at the same time.

BOB stroller. I can’t say enough good things about this stroller. We bought it when Maddy and Libby were 6 months old so I never used it with the car seat adaptor. It’s good in neighborhoods with lots of curbs and for long runs, too.

Snap & Go stroller. I loved this when the girls were little and still in infant car seats. Like the names says, you could just snap them in and go.

Cloth Diapers. While I didn’t do cloth diapers for little bums, we used cloth diapers for burp cloths, to clean up spills, and Maddy and Libby actually sleep with one of their cloth diapers as a blankie each night. I actually prefer the larger, thinner ones over the thick ones. They have adorable lovies, but what they always want is their blankie. You can also tie it around their shoulders and play superbaby, or around their head and play baby with a do’rag!

Sound machine. We didn’t use anything fancy, but actually a clock radio of Hubby’s that has a “wind” setting on it. It definitely helped to mask noises during nap time and night time.

Board books. Books have been a favorite of Maddy and Libby for as long as I can remember. We made reading stories to them part of our nap and nighttime rituals. Board books are great because they will take more abuse (chewing, drool, etc) than the regular books.

If you want to make your own baby food, and as tempting as the Williams-Sonoma model may be, all you need is a stick immersion blender and silicone ice cube trays. Then just visit wholesome baby food and you’ll be all set.

Good car seats. We had Graco’s as infants and now we have Britax. Love the Britax.

Baby Jail. Ok, this may not be politically correct, but once Maddy and Libby were mobile (crawling), this thing saved me. I was working from home at the time and it was the only way that I could keep an eye on them while I tried to do a little work. It’s huge and if you can get over looking at primary colors all day, then it can save your life!

We’ve had a few things that were trial and error. I thought I had to have Baby Bjorns, but I really didn’t use them all that much, but I had friends wore their babies all the time. Also the Bumbo seat was kind of a bust for us. They seemed to be too small/too unsteady at first and then the next thing I knew, they had outgrown it. However, other people that I know loved theirs. Same for the Diaper Genie. We use a Diaper Champ that just uses grocery store bags and it seems to be so much easier than using something that requires a special refill.

Other must haves that I think were vital to our sanity:

A schedule for meals/sleeping and sticking to it. If it was nap time, then I was at home … not out trying to get my babies to sleep in a stroller. Not judging those Mom’s that can do this, but a schedule was sacred at our house.

A non-quiet house. Huh, you ask. I vacuumed when they slept, flushed the toilet, dogs barked, phones rang, music was on and everyone turned out OK. Granted, I didn’t have a party while they slept, but they got used to household noises and now can typically sleep through one another waking up, dogs barking, storms, etc.

Please feel free to leave any more “must have” baby items in the comments and we can all share ideas. I can remember doing our baby registry over several visits because I would just get overwhelmed with all of the stuff. Plus the fluorescent lighting and concrete floors in most of those stores are no fun!

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>Answering … motherhood

>MER asked, “What surprised you most about being a Mom? What’s the hardest part and what’s the most rewarding?”

I think the instantaneous bond that I felt with my children surprised me the most. I had no idea that I could feel the love that I feel for my children. I was never one of those crazy baby people. I’ve always liked babies, but I didn’t grow up around lots of babies, didn’t ogle stranger’s babies in the grocery, but when I first held them, something shifted in me that I still can’t truly describe.

The hardest part … Well, the early stages before they were sleeping through the night was definitely hard. Now, it’s truly a blur and I honestly don’t remember how difficult it was, or how sleep deprived we were. We had a system, we put the babies on a schedule, and we just kind of powered through it. I have some hard days now. Two at two is hard. Heck, I guess one at two would be hard, and I’m sure two at three will also be hard, but there are days when you have tantrums, or screeching, or you’ve just gotten hit with the Elmo phone for the 2nd time, and I want to lose it. I’m not proud to admit that I’ve lost my cool and yelled when it wasn’t necessary, but I’ve done it. I’ve also walked out of the room during screaming and gone back in 5 minutes when I could better handle it. There are days that I’m glad I work, but there are days that I look forward to Friday (when I typically don’t work) and we can have special outings together.

The most rewarding parts for me comes in little snippets throughout the days, weeks, months, and years. Lately, it’s been when I’m walking Maddy down the stairs and she asks, “where sister?” because Libby was already downstairs, but she didn’t know where she was. Or when Libby gives me a kiss when I ask, or when Maddy’s upset and Libby brings her a toy to make her feel better, or when you can hold a freshly bathed, PJ’ed, damp curly haired child in your lap and read a book about meerkats, monkeys, and giraffes and adore the interaction. Or asking them 8 different animals and they get them all right. Or seeing your husband hold/play with your child and see a different kind of love that is so endearing. Those are some of the best moments for me.

>Answering … dogs and babies

>

MER asked “How long have you had your dogs? Is there a special story behind how they became part of the family? How did they adjust to the twins since they were your first babies?”
We have had the dogs, Zeus and Zoe since Hubby and I were dating. Everyone called them the engagement dogs and joked that Hubby bought the dogs instead of a ring. Truth be known, we bought and paid for them separately from the same breeder in Lake Norman, NC, paid our own vet bills, etc. They have always lived together as I couldn’t have a pet at my apartment at the time, but since Hubby (then boyfriend!) had a house with a fenced in yard, it just made sense for them both to live with him.

Zeus and Zoe were on our save the date cards.

Hubby wanted a dog and invited me to go along to see the puppies. I loved dogs and had a weakness for labs, so as soon as we saw 10 little black and chocolate pups, we started throwing around the idea of having two. Gluttons for punishment, don’t you think?!

Zeus and Zoe have always been good around Maddy and Libby. Zeus used to rest his head on my belly when I was pregnant and I always felt like he sensed something was going on. We were so worried at first that they would do something naughty, but they really have been good. Zeus will let the girls pet him, lay on him, pull his ears, and put toys on his back. Zoe is a little more aloof around them and likes to come around during snack/meal time, but doesn’t enjoy play time as much. She typically just goes in another room if they are playing too close to her.

Emily asked “What do you want most for your girls? And how in the heck do you tell them apart? Really? Is there something about each that makes it clear?”

Wow. Where to begin and I’ll start with the “easy” part of this question … how do I tell them apart.

The first and easiest is that Libby has 3 hemangiomas. Two are on her back and the one on her hand is now very light, but that used to be the easiest way to distinguish them.

Libby is slightly taller (about an inch) and weighs more (about 1.5 pounds), but that is hard to see on them unless you can get them to stand still.

Maddy’s face is a bit more round, and Libby’s is more oval. Maddy’s face is also a little more petite. See, can you tell? Maddy is sitting on Libby’s lap in this picture.

Personality. Libby is typically more a “people person.” She wants to be with people, checking things out, seeing what’s going on. Maddy is too, to an extent, but she is also content to do her own thing more than Libby.

What do I want most for Maddy and Libby? Happiness, independence, laughter, to be challenged, love, education, success, good families, good memories of their childhood and families, a good heart, good character, a sense of humor, safety. I could go on and on. I think as a parent you want everything for your children and of course, that is ridiculous, but I really do find myself wanting them to have everything they could want and even more. Not in a selfish, greedy way, but in the “the sky is the limit, just go for it” kind of way. I want them to take risks and learn from mistakes, be genuine, be true to themselves, and always know that they have parents and family that love, support, and are there for them every step of the way.

Let’s give a shout out to Emily who not only took this wonderful photo above, but is scheduled to welcome Baby TT today at 2PM! Cannot wait!