Multiplicity Winter 2014

Page 1

Winter 2014


say to indoor play how to please

picky eaters 1

cutting the budget

a bond

between brothers parenting resolutions

Make some noise. White noise products not only play similar sounds babies are accustomed to in the womb, they also mimic the instinctual ‘shhhush’-ing sound parents make when trying to calm a crying baby. Your baby’s naps should be no less than 45 minutes. Put your child to bed drowsy, but awake.

Sleep. Be Happy. Be Healthy. Twilight Turtle Tunes with Bluetooth Technology. Mix custom sounds & light to create a magical sleeptime environment. ®

Cloudb_Multiplicity Fall Consumer_FP_T3_Bleed.indd 1

9/17/13 8:16 AM

beating the winter blues: overcoming isolation and haveing icy fun! 6

Cutting the budget

30 Snuggle up, pajama party style!


Baby it’s cold outside! Tips for keeping babies warm!

36 Ouch! How to manage pesky back

10 Table for three, please! Healthy eating for three (or more)

13 Have the winter blues? It may be Seasonal Affective Disorder

17 A bond between brothers: How running builds connection



38 Have kids who say “no” to food? Tips for pleasing picky eaters

42 The Eating/Sleeping Schedule and how it can rock your world!

48 Appy Winter! 50 Mid-year slump: School Tips for

18 Winter Book Review 20 They came too soon! Prematurity & Milestones

22 Feeling more than a little crazy?

Top reasons parents of multiples experience anxiety

24 Product Buzz 26 True Confessions: A journey to becoming a better me

28 Bored indoors? Say “yes” to indoor play!

Fashion Finds for Kids

finishing the year strong!

54 Five Minute Fix: Add Life! 56 Ask Joan: Parenting Resolutions 57 RSV: Signs every parent should know

58 Too much of everything? Introduce a Family Game Night


60 Car Seat Safety: Are you following the rules?

62 Toned after twins --- it is possible!

cover cuties This issue’s cover cuties are little miracle triplets, Lillian, Lucille and Liam. They love books and are obsessed with Baby Einstein ANYthing. They love to go for rides together in the triplet stroller and being outside. They have 2 doggies and love it when they sneak kisses when mom’s not looking. photos courtesy of Ikenroth Images


It is hard to believe, but another year has come and gone. If you’re like me and everyone else, not only do you reflect on the things of this past year, but you also think about changes and resolutions. I actually do not make New Year’s resolutions, especially in the sense of things that aren’t realistic for me. I’ll be the first to admit that I have to “believe it to achieve it”. Trying to go cold turkey on sweets and junk food would only end in disaster, trying to exercise EVERY SINGLE DAY would get pushed aside for the busier things in life... you know, the business and the kids...and trying to plan the whole year out within the first week of the year is just well, impossible. While it wasn’t on my “to-do” list, I ran my first 5K this winter, along side one of my twins with her running program (she actually crossed the finish line WAY before I did!). But you know what? I did it and she did it and I was proud of both of us. Her enthusiasm for the experience and overall sense of accomplishment was enough to encourage me to continue working with her and to include Natalie Diaz founder/publisher

my other daughter if and when she is interested.

Publisher Natalie Diaz

For those who know me well, I am an organizer and planner (it’s the only way I can operate!), but my biggest goal for this year is to live in the moment. You heard me...I want to focus more on the here and now than worrying about what might or might not happen 6 months from now. My kids are all still little, but that won’t last much longer, so I hope to revel in their childhood innocence more than I ever have before. What about you? Any big goals for the coming year? Whatever plans you make or goals you set, just be sure to make them achievable and then believe you can do it. Doubting you’ll pull them off? Surround yourself with others who believe in you, too (that’s what Twiniversity and Multiplicity are all about!). It’s amazing how far we can go, how much we can achieve, and the people we can become when we have a private cheering squad to see us through. Here’s to enjoying this issue and a happy, healthy and successful New Year ahead!

Executive Editor / Creative Director Talitha A. McGuinness

Talitha A. McGuinness executive editor

Photographers Firewife Photography Jane Goodrich Photography Contributing Writers Victoria Philipp Susan Rassette Cara Krenn Kayla Dickens Frankie Howley Farrah Ritter Michelle Leichty Dr. Joan Friedman Traci Zeller Julie Burt Nichols Mike Crider Tamara Duker Freuman Mercedes Donis Lindsay MacDougal Barbara Miller Skye Van Zetten

Social Media Manager Jill Marcum Contact us: 141 Mulberry Street Apt. C-1 New York, NY 10013 917-442-2020

Multiplicity is published as a digital magazine four times per calendar year, with additional supplements as desired. Multiplicity cannot assume responsibility of statements made by advertisers. In addition, though hand-picked and carefully reviewed, Multiplicity cannot guarantee the accuracy of editorial pieces. No portion in whole or in part of this publication may be reproduced without express written consent from the publisher. Questions? Email



the must-have magazine for all moms of multiples


photograph courtesy of a&g photography

speaks to the kid in each of us. Here’s to snowball fights, snuggles & staying warm!


n January 4, 2013, when my twin boys were just 2 months old, my husband called me in the middle of the day to tell me he was on his way home. He was suddenly and unexpectedly laid off from his 16-year career at his company. My mind went into a tailspin and I could feel the walls caving in on me. How could this happen? How could they do this to him? He just got an iPad from them for Christmas! One of my worst nightmares was coming true and I felt totally helpless. The good news was that my maternity leave was ending in one week and I would be going back to my full-time job. This meant we would have my salary, severance pay and unemployment insurance to get us through, plus a hefty income tax refund (thank you, twin dependents!) and other cash I had saved up prior to my maternity leave.

cutting the budget

affording multiples in a financial crisis by julie burt nichols

After crunching the numbers, I realized that we would still be short and our savings would quickly disappear if I didn’t make some major cuts. Thus began my quest to cut every unnecessary expense we could spare. Everyday minor purchases were cut unless they were absolutely necessary. That includes dry cleaning, books, DVDs, music, magazines, and even small things like a latte from Starbucks. I reassessed all of our monthly bills and made major changes to retain as much cash as possible, even if it meant having to pay more interest in the future. Here are the major, immediate actions I took to keep us afloat: • I deferred my student loans. This was very easy to do for my federal loans. I called my loan company and they immediately put the deferment through. I was surprised at how easy it was! I will have to pay the interest that accrues, but overall, I’m saving $290 each month by deferring. • I stopped 401(k) contributions. I was contributing 6% of my income in order to get the full company match. Stopping this contribution put at least $100 back into my monthly cash flow. • I reviewed our income tax exemptions. When is the last time you looked at this? Maybe you are still claiming a “1” with a family of four when you could be claiming



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a “3” or “4”. You could be getting a lot more money in your paycheck by adjusting your federal and state tax exemptions. Talk to a tax professional about what is best for your family’s situation. • I canceled cable. This was a hard one. I love cable. And I mean LOVE cable. But since our lives were turned upside-down by two little cuties, we weren’t watching live TV. When I realized that all our shows were sitting on the DVR, going unwatched for days, it was a no-brainer. I canceled cable and switched to a streaming device (Roku). I also worked with our cable provider to create a new “bundle” including our home security system which saved us more money. We now stream all of our TV shows and movies through our highspeed internet using Netflix, Hulu Plus, and Amazon Instant Video. Our monthly Comcast bill went from $190 to $67. In a few months, our rate will go up a bit, and you better believe I will be calling them to renegotiate that!

Fridays and Saturdays were my treat nights when I didn’t have to cook. This was costing us about $200/month. I sucked it up and promised myself to cut back to only 1 takeout dinner each week, which is really, really hard for a new twin mom who just wants to pass out at the end of the day! I rely heavily on ready-made meals from Trader Joe’s and I only make easy, no fuss meals (no more than 5 ingredients). • Apply for medical cost reduction. Hospital bills related to a multiple birth pregnancy can cripple a family already in financial trouble, but there is aid available if you just ask! Call the hospital billing department and ask about applying for aid. You will have to apply and submit documentation to prove your financial hardship, but even if you get a few hundred bucks taken off your bill, it will be worth it. I also cut back by asking friends and family for hand-me-downs of kid clothes and toys, investing in my Moms of Multiples bi-annual resale, and I

You could be getting a lot more money in your paycheck by adjusting your federal and state tax exemptions. Talk to a tax professional about what is best for your family’s situation. • Switch to generic brands where it makes sense. After realizing we were spending almost $200 per month on premium infant formula, I checked with my pediatrician about switching to a generic formula. She was fine with it and so we made the switch! Going from the name brand to a big box store brand cut our formula costs in half. Of course, this is not a decision to be made lightly. You may not feel comfortable “going generic” even if it saves you money. That is a personal choice. But, if you are really tight on funds and you want to make the switch, do not feel guilty about this decision. My kids loved the new formula and I think they turned out OK! • Cut out the eating out. This was another hard one. I love getting food delivered! multiplicity

sold some of our used baby gear on Craigslist to make back some fast and easy cash. It has been quite a year and we are still not out of the woods, but even when my husband is permanently employed again I will probably keep a lot of these “cost-saving measures” in place. Raising twins is expensive! But with a little creativity, you can get through the tough times and still keep your sanity intact. Julie Burt Nichols is an infertility and IVF survivor and a full-time working mother to toddler twin boys, Desmond and Alec, born on Halloween. She shares the adventure of twin life with her adorable husband, Michael, and her sassy Shepherd mix rescue dog, Willa. Julie is the newest member of the MOM Squad, serving as Content Manager for Twiniversity. the must-have magazine for all moms of multiples


baby, it’s cold outside!

5 keep



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your little ones warm this winter


by mercedes donis

re you bringing home your multiples this winter? You might be concerned about the right way to bundle up your little bundles of joy; the options out there can be overwhelming. Here are 5 tips to protect your littlest loved ones from the blustery winter weather.

all fashion photography courtesy of firewife photography

1. Re-evaluate your daily happenings. We all know that it’s hard to get out with a baby, and even harder with two or more babies. Mix in less than ideal weather conditions, and you might be better off staying at home.


How crucial is it for you to get out of the house? When possible, have people come to you, which is good advice for all new parents, but even more so if you have winter babies. Can you find a grocer that delivers? Shopping online can be done from the warmth of your home and often enrolling in subscription programs has the added benefit of saving you money on frequent purchases, like diapers and formula.

2. Choose the right garments for your situation.

If it is imperative that you get out of the house, think about where you’ll be going and how much time you’ll be spending in---and out of--the car to determine what type of winter gear in which to invest.

It may be tempting to simplify baby’s winter wardrobe with a cozy all-in-one suit, but this can actually be dangerous for your babies to wear while in their car seats, because it can affect the way the straps fit. You don’t want to end up changing your multiples in and out of their suits each time you get out of the car! You’re better off with warm, but thin layers in fabrics like fleece, thermal and flannel. ---contd. pg. 46 the must-have magazine for all moms of multiples


eating for three (or more!) by tamara duker freuman, ms, rd, cdn


had always been led to believe that pregnancy would be a nine month long, all-you-can eat Vegas buffet. “Finally,” I thought to myself, “I’ll be able to loosen the reins of my constant vigilance over calories and portions and have some fun!” When I found out I was carrying twins, my food fantasies doubled. Oh, how disappointingly wrong I was. For starters, I soon realized that nutrient needs increase far more than calorie needs do in pregnancy, meaning that each bite a pregnant woman takes should actually be denser with essential nutrients than normal. Iron needs roughly double, folic acid needs double, and protein needs increased by 25g per day…per baby! In order to achieve all of these dietary feats, you get a modest 300 more calories per day per baby --- or 600 more for a twin pregnancy, and 900 for triplets. (To convert that into ice cream currency, that’s only about 1 cup of Haagen Dazs per day for twin moms-to-be on top of your regular fun!) 10


Complicating matters is that the rules of food safety in pregnancy limit many of the food options available to expectant moms, some of which are the most convenient sources of that all-important protein. Specifically, easy choices like lean cold cuts, smoked salmon, and sushi are all off the table, and higher-mercury staples like tuna must be eaten very sparingly. As you bid adieu to turkey sandwiches, Japanese takeout, and a scoop of tuna on a bagged green salad, you may be wondering: who has the energy to cook an actual meal from scratch?!? And let’s also not forget that many expectant moms experience some pretty strong food aversions in the first trimester --- and often beyond. Common aversions include meat, fish and bitter vegetables, like folate-rich broccoli and leafy greens. On the flip side, pregnancy can cause some pretty powerful cravings, too, particularly of the carby and sweet variety. Moms-to-be who manage to overcome these obstacles and find enough satisfying food choices

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to fill their plates have one more member of the food police to contend with: their obstetrician. OBs tend to keep expectant mothers of multiples on a tight leash when it comes to diet, especially since we’re at higher risk for developing gestational diabetes. So let’s recap: expectant mothers of multiples have lots more nutrients to get with a moderate amount of extra calories to get them with; we need loads more protein, but we’re craving only carbs; the list of foods we can actually eat is shorter than ever due to food aversions and food safety considerations, but our energy to plan and execute appropriate meals is limited. Sigh. So much for that nine month long, all-you-can-eat buffet. So what’s a hungry/nauseous, protein-seeking/ carb craving, nutrition-needing/too tired to cook mom-to-be to do? I recommend stocking the kitchen with simple, nutritious foods that can be combined to make low glycemic meals and snacks, without much cooking. Low glycemic food combos are ones that won’t spike your blood sugar quickly or dramatically, and generally include protein, fiber and/or a little bit of fat. Choosing such foods that are also good sources of important pregnancy nutrients like folate (peanut butter, avocado, beans/lentils); iron (beans/lentils, oats); calcium (yogurt, kefir, cheese) and choline (eggs) is a great exercise in multi-tasking --- a skill you’ll need to master anyway as a mom to multiples.

• Low sugar granola + plain yogurt • Banana-chocolate-peanut butter smoothie made with a plain kefir base for protein • Dry, crunchy snacks high in protein and featuring slow-digesting carbs, like bean chips and salted/roasted nuts • Smashed avocado on whole grain/seed crackers • Lentil chili topped with plain yogurt, crumbled tortilla chips and sliced avocado As for sweet cravings, dark chocolate is (and was!) my pick for pregnancy. Loaded with magnesium and antioxidants, it’s a veritable health food. Some research even suggests that chocolate intake in pregnancy is associated with a reduced risk of pre-eclampsia, possibly due to its beneficial effect on blood vessel function. Dark chocolate is reasonably low in sugar, and can scratch a chocolate itch effectively without requiring excessive quantities. If you do develop gestational diabetes, you can even try making a no-sugar-added hot cocoa to satisfy nighttime chocolate cravings. My trick is to combine 2 teaspoons of high quality unsweetened cocoa powder with lactose-free milk and blending it with a milk-frothing device (I use my husband’s fancy Nespresso one!). Lactose free milk tastes sweeter than regular milk as the result of the pre-digestion of lactose into its component sugars. Using it produces a cocoa with mild natural sweetness without needing to add additional sweeteners.

Even if you’ve got food restrictions beyond those listed above, whether food allergies, Celiac disease or lactose intolerance, there are some easy swaps you can make. Sunflower seed butter is as nutritious as peanut butter for peanut-allergic mamas, and lactose-free yogurts from Green Valley Organics are the most digestively friendly dairy products on the market if you love dairy more than it loves you. There are also terrific gluten-free grains, breads and crunchy snacks for my fellow Celiac carbophiles from companies like Bob’s Red Mill and KIND. Here are some of the easy-assembly, low glycemic mini-meals and snacks that fueled my twin pregnancy --- despite food restrictions and aversions --- all the way to 36 weeks and 6 days, and then straight into lactation land: • Egg and cheese sandwich on whole grain toast (I used gluten-free, you need not) multiplicity

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Eating to fuel a multiple pregnancy can be challenging, but don’t be discouraged if it’s not as easy or enjoyable as you expected it to be. Think of this time as a warm up to the true food fest that lies ahead: breastfeeding your beautiful, hungry babies. For that endurance challenge, you’ll need 500-600 extra calories per baby, per day! Tamara’s Go-to Pregnancy

Grocery List Staples

• Fresh produce: Apples, Avocados, Bananas, Berries, Clementines, Grapes, Mango and Melon • Whole grain bread • A whole grain/seed cracker, like Mary’s Gone Crackers • Organic milk or calcium-fortified dairy-free alternative • Green Valley Organics Lactose Free yogurts and plain kefir • A low sugar granola for aforementioned yogurt, like KIND Healthy Grains • Quick Cooking Oats • Eggs • Peanut Butter • Sliced cheese • The Good Bean Roasted Chickpea snacks • Roasted, salted nuts (almonds, pistachios, cashews…) • A lower sugar snack bar, like KIND Nuts & Spices, Go Macro Macrobar or Health Warrior Chia Bars • High quality unsweetened cocoa powder • High quality dark chocolate Tamara Duker Freuman is a registered dietitian who specializes in medical nutrition therapy for digestive disorders and is an expert in celiac disease. In addition to her clinical work, Tamara blogs for US NEWS & WORLD REPORT’s eat + run health page and hosts a popular blog devoted to healthy eating and gluten-free living. 12


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seasonal affective disorder

does it affect you & your little ones? by farrah ritter

It’s that time of year again… the cloudy gray skies, lack of warm sunlight on the skin, and potential for people from all walks of life to experience SAD. SAD is short for Seasonal Affective Disorder and is defined by the Mayo Clinic as “a type of depression that occurs at the same time every year”. If you’re like most people with seasonal affective disorder, your symptoms start in the fall and may continue into the winter months, sapping your energy and making you feel moody. Less often, seasonal affective disorder causes depression in the spring or early summer. As parents, we don’t have the luxury to stay in bed all day and stay buried in the covers. We have little people to tend to and our mood needs to stay in check. Our health and well-being is just as important as theirs. Remember that analogy about putting the oxygen mask on yourself before you help someone else? This is so very important to remember, even though I know I tend to put the kids first most and neglect

myself. However, we can’t effectively help others if we aren’t taking care of ourselves. I’m from Michigan originally. I lived there until 2006 when my husband and I moved to sunny South Carolina. Sunny is right. I burned out on the sun, as it was too hot, all the time. But we lived there for six years; it’s where we had our babies and familiarized ourselves with the radical change that is parenthood. We’ve now been living in the Netherlands for just over a year. It gets dark here so early, sometimes as early as 4pm, and the mornings are dark until 9am. My twins turned 3 in October, and my oldest is 4. I still feel housebound a little, but mostly because of the rain and not so much due to having babies to feed/change/nap/ rinse and repeat every day. The rain and colder temperatures certainly make life a little more challenging, but the lack of sunlight is something we haven’t dealt with before and it can be hard on all of us. multiplicity

One concern that I’ve had living here is being in a country and region that tends to suffer from SAD the most. According to The Global Burden of Diseases, Injuries, and Risk Factors Study 2010, the Dutch are the most depressed people in Europe. I have tried to keep this in mind and read the articles that I see on popular expatriate websites giving specific tips for us in this region. It probably isn’t much different from the Pacific Northwest, but for us coming from such a southern state, it was quite a shock to the system to rarely see the sun for 6-8 months out of the year! Like many of you, I’m no stranger to the feeling of being trapped inside a house with little kids. Regardless of the season, sometimes us parents of multiples get a little more intense dose of that isolation that comes along with being crippled with more than one baby at once. It’s intense, and it is something that in itself can drive you crazy, not to mention

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throwing poor weather into the mix. Compounded with the very real effects of SAD, it’s important that we take good care of ourselves and be on the lookout for symptoms that might signify a problem. If you know what you’re looking for, you have a jump start on how to prevent it! Symptoms include: * * * * * * * * *

depression hopelessness anxiety loss of energy heavy, “leaden” feeling in the arms or legs social withdrawal oversleeping loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed appetite changes, especially a craving for foods high in carbohydrates * weight gain * difficulty concentrating While I don’t have two infant car seats to carry anymore, I clearly remember those days and how I could easily let them be my excuse for not leaving the house. There have been days here that are filled with rain and ugly skies, but the fact that I am forced to get outside actually helps. There’s no minivan drop off/pick-up line at school; I ride a bike to school and tote the kids around that way. Of course I don’t recommend doing this if you have more than just a few blocks to go in the rain like I do, but just get out there. Do something. Move your body and get some fresh air. It really does help! Take advantage of any day that is even partially sunny. We do occasionally get those, and it’s imperative for us to walk around, feel the sun on our faces, and drink it in. The kids need it as much as we do, and if you can only get them outside for a few minutes each day, it’s better than nothing. A good diet is also something that I try to incorporate, as well as vitamin supplements, and namely, a multivitamin and B6 for myself. However, you should always talk to your doctor before starting any kind of new exercise program or supplement. Of course, there are also photo lamps and sunny vacations, too. A doctor’s prescription for the beach would be nice! Throw in an additional nanny to help wrangle everyone, and I’m in! A special “thank you” goes out to fellow Netherlands expats Olga and Rina Mae for their assistance in compiling this article, no matter where you live. Farrah is mom to twin boys, as well as their 3 year old brother. Recently, they made the move to the Netherlands for the next few years. You can follow their journey on her blog The Three Under, Facebook, and as @Momofthreeunder on Twitter. 14


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fighting SAD Think you might suffer from SAD? First of all, be sure to discuss with your doctor, but here are a few tips to managing SAD at home, based on tips from the US National Library of Medicine and WebMD. * Get enough sleep. * Make healthy food choices. * Take medicines the right way. Ask your health care provider how to manage side effects. * Learn to watch for early signs that your depression is getting worse. Have a plan if it does get worse. * Try to exercise more often. Do activities that make you happy. * Do not use alcohol and illegal drugs. These can make depression worse. They can also affect your judgment about suicide. * Trying light therapy through an actual light box or dawn simulation may help reset your biological clock which controls sleeping and waking. * Taking certain antidepressants are known to effectively treat people suffering from SAD. * Consider counseling individually or with a group to help manage the symptoms.


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photo courtesy of melissa mcfadden photography



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a bond between brothers:

a running tale of alex & jamie schneider by frankie howley

Due to reasons such as limited motor and social skills, participation in physical activity such as running, climbing and anything to do with team sports is often a very real challenge for children with an autism spectrum disorder. Learn how these twins defy probabilities and make a name for themselves outside of their disorder. For Alex and Jamie Schneider, of New York, running cross country races and marathons is a way of life for the 23-yearold twin brothers. With a severe case of Autism leaving the boys unable to speak or communicate, the pair discovered their passion for the sport at age 15. It is this passion that has forever changed the world as they know it. “It gives them a sense of freedom and a way to expel their energy,” says Alex & Jamie’s mother, Robyn Schneider. “Once they started, it was evident that they were natural and gifted runners, and would keep running until their coaches told them to stop.” Stopping was never on the agenda for either Alex or Jamie. Spending the past eight years training and participating in 150 races to date including six marathons, the pair recently

completed the ING NYC Marathon in November. “It was a momentous day for many reasons,” says Robyn. “They both love New York City, so to run in the city where we live, and running in one of the biggest marathons in the world, was a thrill.” Beating his own personal record, Alex was the first American and International Achilles Runner to cross the finish line in 3 hours, 14 minutes, and 36 seconds; while Jamie finished triumphantly, learning to overcome the trauma he experienced during last year’s Boston Marathon. With their next set run, scheduled in Boston 2015, both Alex and Jamie will spend the next few months preparing and running in several different races, while keeping the competitive and social nature of the sport alive. multiplicity

“Alex is considered an elite runner and he is very competitive with other runners at his level. He always tries to beat them, especially when approaching the finish line,” says Robyn. “Jamie runs for the social aspect, especially enjoying running with pretty young girls with ponytails.” Enjoying these two very different aspects of the sport is not unusual for the identical pair. While keeping the same running and training schedule has created a bond between them as brothers, they are in fact very different from one another. It is these differences that set them apart. “Alex will run a race in half the time as Jamie, and that goes for most every activity they do,” says Robyn. “Jamie is very accurate and precise with all he does.” Given the nature of their Autism which prevents them from speaking and often presents challenging behaviors in the boys, Robyn says that keeping a precise schedule is crucial to Alex and Jamie’s success. “They are extremely affectionate, loving and social,” says Robyn. --- contd. pg. 41

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book review by michelle leichty

Reading alphabet and counting books can become a chore, as children want to hear them over and over, and most are not worth reading more than once. However, these alphabet and counting companion books stand out among the crowded shelves, and deserve to be read over, and over, and over, and... well, you get the picture! Many children’s books grow old after reading it for the 150th time, but not Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin, Jr. and John Archambault. Children will enjoy listening to the rhyming chant through the letters of the alphabet as the letters scurry up the coconut tree --- and then the hurts and bruises after they fall. Its companion book, Chicka Chicka 1 2 3 is to numbers what Chicka Chicka Boom Boom is to letters, except the numbers all climb 18


an apple tree. Some children love the wild and dirty side of life; if you count your children among those, then I Stink! and I’m Dirty! are the alphabet and counting books for your family. These books, by Kate and Jim McMullan, are perfect for children who enjoy gross things. I Stink! follows the journey of a garbage truck through the dark streets of New York City --- and through the alphabet. I’m Dirty! follows a back-hoe as he counts the things he clears from a vacant lot. Kate wrote the books, and Jim created the bright, bold illustrations which make her words pop. Delightful, and funny, peas dance across the pages of Keith Baker’s LMNO Peas and 1-2-3 Peas books. In LMNO Peas, the peas participate in all sorts of alphabetically-focused activities like building, climbing, farming, and quilting. Colorful, textured alphabet letters dwarf the peas on each page and the clever contrast between the large, staid letters and the tiny, active peas will capture the attention of children, and adults. In 1-2-3 Peas, the peas embark on counting up to ten, in the midst of many different activities the narrator dictates, like “look” and “row”. Baker includes the numbers, of course, but, unusual for

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counting books, he also spells each number. As an added bonus, the book doesn’t stop at ten. Baker skip counts by tens up to 100, with each two-page spread featuring the exact number of peas singing, building or honking. Each page of both books includes so many details, you will want to take time to study the pictures with the little ones in your life. First published in 1962, Maurice Sendak’s (Where the Wild Things Are) alphabet and counting books are classics deserving space on every nursery shelf. In Alligators All Around, Sendak works his way through the alphabet with a family of alligators and their crazy antics like bursting balloons, juggling jelly beans, and yackety-yacking. One Was Johnny tells the story of Johnny, whose house gets more and more crowded as he counts to 10. Johnny gets so fed up, he tells the animals filling his house, “Here’s what I’ll do - I’ll start counting backwards and when I am through - if this house isn’t empty I’ll eat all of you!” Adults and children alike will enjoy the rhythmic rhyming of this book, as well as the silly story it tells. Generally, I avoid repurposed and repackaged books, not wanting to indulge in the publishing industry’s marketing ploys. I do, however, make an exception for the My First Little House Books from

HarperCollins Publishers. HarperCollins has done a beautiful job staying true to the original stories and illustrations. My Little House A B C and My Little House 1 2 3 both include large print type, which proceeds through the alphabet and numbers, making them a quick readaloud for young children. Each page also includes a line or two from one of the original Little House on the Prairie books and an illustration. Illustrator Renee Graef drew lovely pictures in the style of Garth Williams, the most recent illustrator of the book series. Michelle Leichty has read hundreds of books to her four children in the course of their homeschooling journey. So many people asked her to recommend books that she started blogging about her favorite children’s books at You can find out about her writing business at

*Do you have a favorite story or book? Want to share your thoughts with our readers? For consideration in a future issue, feel free to send your reviews and ideas to talitha@



“The Same but Different presents a stunning, in-depth look at the lives of adult twins as they face the twin challenges of closeness and independence, love and resentment in their evolving relations with each other.” —Nancy L. Segal, PhD, author of Born Together—Reared Apart “Not only is The Same but Different a mustread for adult twins, it is an invaluable resource for the parents of younger twins who want to start their same-age children on the road to a healthy relationship in the future.” —Lauren Apfel, PhD, blogger “Omnimom”

Rocky Pines Press • 192 pages • $15.95 • ISBN: 978-0-9893464-3-6


parenting made easy the middle Have kids that are no longer babies and are yearning for their teenage years? It’s not always easy to find a parenting book that covers the school age years in such an easy to read fashion. This quick, 85 page book will provide you with strategies on dealing with your 6-12 year old kiddos, even in those most difficult moments. Chapters on how to build positive relationships and full discussions on consequences will have you thumbing through it when an argument breaks out at home. For less than you would pay for a grande latte at your local coffee shop, you can grab Dr. Anna Cohen’s book and find out what she believes should be in every parent’s “bag of tricks”. Say so long to tiresome behavioral management strategies that fail, as this book explores simple, easy to use tactics that will create a more peaceable home. With more than 20 years’ experience, Dr. Cohen has simple solutions that work. Purchase at Amazon ($3.99 Kindle, $15.99 Paperback). multiplicity

the must-have magazine for all moms of multiples


prematurity & milestones

how hard work, patience and acceptance help you prepare for life with preemies by victoria philipp


hen I was pregnant with my twin boys, it got complicated at week 24. My cervix was dilated so after getting steroid shots for the boys’ lungs, I woke up to being in labor and not knowing it. Thankfully, the hospital staff were able to stop the contractions and I was sent home on bed rest. I was only allowed to go from the bed to the couch, with one shower a day (not to exceed ten minutes), and to my weekly doctor appointments. I was given weekly goals, but our main goal was ideally to make it to 32 weeks. We took it one week at a time, and I went into labor at 32 weeks. With 2 previous months of issues and all the conditions considered, I elected for a c-section. The boys were delivered (in the same minute), they were both alive, and, for the most part, well --- just early and little weighing in at 3 lbs., 13 oz. and 4 lbs., 11 oz. They spent three weeks in the NICU; it was now time for their bed rest. Looking back, the time in the NICU was not the end of the world, but it felt like a life sentence at the time. My husband and I are medically trained, however, nothing prepares you for prematurity and the NICU. The noises, the families, and the babies...oh, how small they are! You will compare your children to 20

the others in the NICU. It is human nature. You will realize you are not alone and it could have been worse, or you realize that with time, things get better. The nurses will offer help and guidance each step of the way. They will know your children better than you will for a time. Let them guide you, especially if you are a first-time parent. Remember the rules for the NICU and follow them. They limit visitors because your children are considered critical patients; you are in close quarters with other critical patients. Do you want others around your children at such a vulnerable time? The NICU was great in teaching us how to do things. They helped us through bath time and breast feeding, just to name a few. The boys both had an enlarged head as a result of a bacterial infection, which led to many tests and a whole in the heart. However, their condition was manageable and just had to run its course. I made a conscious effort during our time there to get outside, rest, eat, and sleep. I was recovering from a c-section and almost 2 months of bed rest. Physically, a few hours in the NICU made me exhausted at first. Know your limits. I needed to be at my best for them, which meant I spent time away from the NICU, too.

prematurity for leavmilestones ing the nicu

*breathing un ass *good vitals isted pressure, etc (heart rate, bloo .) d *gaining weig successfully fe ht and ed *holding bod ing y temperatu re note: all nicu sa re hoqmueir,emsoenatsks forreredleiaffseinregnt in their when questiopreemies ns arise!

Prematurity is not a terminal illness. It is a term simply used to describe what happened. They came too soon.

Prematurity is not a terminal illness. It is a term simply used to describe what happened. They came too soon. We were concerned about their deployment and worked really hard to make sure they met the goals for their age on time. The NICU reviewed a chart of expected things for babies and an expected timetable. Also, remember that depending on the difference of birth and expected delivery, there can/will be a delay for making goals. We worked hard with the neonatology department and the early intervention program to make sure we were doing what the boys needed at each stage.

The boys were still on NICU time being up every 3 hours and finally started sleeping through the night around 5 months. I made sure they had belly time; I made sure we worked on their legs for strength. It is a task, but it does get easier multiplicity

and will help reaching milestones easier, too. As they grow older and can do things by themselves, you can make sure they spend time on tasks. Make sure they play --- crawling, walking, climbing, and running. Turn up the music and dance around. Take the time to laugh and be silly. Down time with them individually might not be something you can do, but that’s okay; just make your time count. All of this practice really paid off for us, as by age one, the boys were just about completely taken off the adjusted scale for everything. However, I cannot stress enough how there will be differences in when they reach basic goals. Each child will do things at their own pace and you can try as hard as you want, but sometimes you will compare one to the other. If you feel one has a delay, seek advice of your doctor. In the end, we have two wonderful boys and you would never know that one was delayed in walking or that they were born at 32 weeks. This experience is humbling and makes their successes and failures worth it all.

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reasons parents of multiples experience anxiety

by mike crider

You have multiples. Need I say anymore? Ever wondered why you feel more than a little anxious? Here are just a few reasons.

1. You are a moving circus.

Everywhere you go, people want to stop and look at your twins. Heck, some people feel the need to put their hands all over your kids without asking permission. By the way, it’s okay to tell them to keep their distance. You can always tell them at least one of the kids is getting over the stomach bug; that tends to make people put up a fence.

2. You are chasing at least two kids at the same time.

No matter what stage your multiples are in, they continue to always go through things at the same time. I said “at least” because if you have older kids plus your multiples, then you’ve got the huge responsibility of keeping track of which color sippee cup you gave to each child, as well as giving attention 22


to your singleton.

3. Your twins are always sick.

Especially during the first two years of their lives, it seems as though one always has a fever and the other has yet another ear infection. My wife and I missed over thirty days of work between the two of us during the first year of the girls’ lives, That even included help from family members who could watch the girls at other times. An emergency fund may help offset the surprise co-pays you will inevitably have to pay.

4. You want to go someplace?

Right. Venturing out becomes very difficult, especially when you have family members who don’t understand the concept of babyproofing a house. Long drives can take much longer when you factor in the many stops you will make and eating out…it’s just not fun. But if you insist on trying to embark on the adventure, consider eating at restaurants that offer many

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options like buffet-style so kids don’t have to wait, and you can eat fairly quickly to get back on the road. Also, research rest stops along the way that may actually have something for kids to do. You never know; you may actually have fun at a rest stop.

5. You don’t want to compare them, but…it’s hard not to.

After all, they were born to the same parents at the same time and grew up under the same guidelines and policies. They watched the same things on TV and were given the same food to eat. However, you found that they like totally different things, started hitting milestones at different times, and even have different accents (seriously, how does one have a southern accent and the other sounds as Midwestern as Dorothy?). Just remember that your twins need individual attention, because they are individuals, and they will

develop their own personalities throughout their lives.

6. You can’t find time with your significant other.

In the hustle and bustle of raising twins, your partner often times gets overlooked. The first thing to remember is that it’s natural when you become a parent to focus most of your energy on your babies. But, it’s important to take opportunities to be alone so that you can keep that most important relationship going. You have to have moments to remember why you ended up with twins in the first place.

7. You don’t trust anyone else with them. Unfortunately, this is

natural, too, but it causes a lot of stress because you start convincing yourself that other people didn’t have to take care of more than one child at a time. But, if they volunteer and you trust them, they can probably do it. If you are unsure, take an opportunity and let your twins play with the applicant for brief periods of time before handing over the keys. I would also recommend that the person watching your twins come to your place, so the twins are in a familiar setting, particularly if bedtime is near.

8. You don’t have friends anymore.

Sure you do; they are on Facebook posting pictures of their crazy vacation to Madrid. The truth is, while your social life may suffer at the beginning of twindom, you can also take the opportunity to connect with other parents who are going through the same things. You may find that the friends you currently have are not able to adjust to you having children, and perhaps new friends that

understand your plight can be beneficial. I’m not suggesting that you have to get rid of your friends, but true friends stick together through life’s changing circumstances.

9. Your Gucci is now from Carter’s.

daddies get the blues, too!

10. You constantly second guess.

In fact, researchers at Eastern Virginia Medical School now say that the number of dads who experience depression during baby’s first year is as high as 10%.

You may find that twins cost a lot of money, and that your expenses will be much tighter. The pressure is definitely there to buy them the best of everything, and if your extended family wants to do that, let them. Keep in mind that the things they wear they will shortly outgrow, and newborn twins will go through about sixteen diapers a day. When you take those things into consideration, you will buy yourself less and spend more on your children.

Been there, done that. I may have a t-shirt somewhere. But, there are a lot of great resources for parents of multiples that include groups, educational materials, and even magazines like this one. You are dealing with unique situations that few parents have to encounter, and let’s face it; you are special because you have twins. If you can navigate these things, you can alleviate a lot of stress from your life as a parent with twins. Good luck!

Mike is a school administrator and a father of twin girls. He writes about his family’s adventures at his blog Twin Dad Talks. He’s also published an e-book though Amazon called Twin Dad Talks: Help for First Time Fathers Navigating Pregnancy. You can find him on facebook and twitter. multiplicity

That’s a big deal, especially considering less than 5% of all men experience depression in their lifetime. Symptoms are just like that of mom’s, including general sadness, sleeplessness, withdrawal from the family, etc. While mom’s post-partum blues typically occur as a result of hormones, loss of sleep has been the biggest trigger for dads, as they tend to experience depression around the 3-6 month mark. Regardless, watch the signs and know when to step in and help if you see that your significant other is suffering. Research has also shown that while the family as a whole suffers when both parents aren’t a strong unit, children are directly affected by dad’s depression through reduced vocabulary. *research found at

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the buzz

the scoop on things to make life easier! britax pinnacle 90

This booster seat is one of the latest on the market by Britax and is so different than any other. Between using anchors to the base of the seat and across the back, or using an actual lap belt, and also remembering weights required for each, it can be confusing which type of safety measure to use. With Britax’s new ClickTight technology, this seat uses the vehicle’s seatbelt (the seat actually lifts so that the belt is underneath/through and at the base of the child’s back) to secure and anchor it for safety. You can rest assured that your child’s seat is safe and snug each and every time. The seat also has True Side Impact protection in the form of thick side walls and head restraint for better protection in the event of a crash. For patterns and more details, visit ~talitha

clear start from dermalogica

If you have a teen or preteen suffering with acne in your home right now, listen up! Dermalogica has launched an amazing new line just for them. With targeted treatments for younger acne producing skin, this daily cleansing routine sits apart from the rest using medicated ingredients and soothing botanicals. We tried Clear Start in our home and within three days saw a noticeable difference in my daughter’s skin. She’s been prone to blackheads and breakouts due to her oily skin and her glasses (she pushes them up too much). Truth be told, I’ve used the “Overnight Treatment” on my pre-period break outs, and it clears them up by morning. It’s outstanding! If you aren’t sure what products you’ll need, they have a travel kit ($38) with a great selection of the products to use and you can go from there. ~ natalie


If you’re like me, I bet you have a drawer full of shoes for your baby and it will be months before they’re even trying to walk. No? Okay, so I have a problem! Have babies that are starting to get on their knees, rocking or crawling? These little pads are perfect for protecting their knees from hardwood or carpet floors --- like sneakers for their knees! They slide on just like leg warmers, but protect from carpet burns and scrapes while baby moves around exploring his world. Kneeckers are also machine washable and come in several patterns/styles, including Hoppy Frog and Petal Power. ~ talitha 24


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starbucks via ready brew peppermint mocha

As a coffee lover, there is no bad time of day for one cup of Joe. At Christmas time, this coffee lover gets super excited because of specialty flavors like peppermint mocha. Without skipping a beat in my home, I could do laundry, make beds, clean the kitchen, stop for a nice cup of fancy pantsy Starbucks peppermint mocha, and go about my day without skipping a beat. No more trips to the coffee shop for this chick! Peppermint Mocha now comes in Starbucks via ready brew. I just add some skim (or whatever) milk and one single serving packet of Starbucks Pepperment Mocha Ready brew, and I have a pick me up that’s equally as delicious as the in-store Venti that I usually get. Who knew instant coffee could be this good. ~ natalie

hip hop abs and shakeology

Recently, I was looking for a way to get fit and have some fun doing it. I discovered a 30-day challenge group with Toned After Twins on facebook and decided it might just be the accountability I needed to make my workouts without fail. I started Hip Hop Abs and if you like to dance and music easily gets you moving, you’ll love these routines and videos! My favorite part? Each workout is only about 30 minutes and they even have a hard core 5-minute video when you’re really pushed for time. Who can’t make that work?!? The video set came with a 30 day plan, helping you mix things up while strengthening your core, and man, will you feel the burn after day 2 or 3! I also started Shakeology for one meal each day, helping to curb my appetite and get the vitamins and nutrients I needed to keep me going throughout the day. With food suggestions and recipes for trying different ways to enjoy the shakes, it became much easier to eat right. After week 2 in the challenge, I felt more energized and stronger. I felt core muscles that I haven’t felt since at least before my twins were born. While I didn’t lose the weight I had hoped (some was likely due to muscle gain and some was definitely due to my not being able to give up sweets around the holidays!), it interested me enough to keep up the challenge well after 30 days! I highly recommend giving Hip Hop Abs and Shakeology a try! ~ talitha

ilove handles paperback

Ever on your iPhone and wish you had a piece of paper? Well, want no more! Paperback from ilove handles is a new adhesive like notepad for the back of your iPhone. It is perfectly fit to form to your iPhone and even has a little hole for your camera. For when you need to jot things down, keep laundry lists, shopping lists, or just things to do on paper so you don’t have to worry about your battery dying. You can use one at a time or place a small stack to use as many as needed over a period of time. This is a great, unique gift for any iPhone lover. ~ natalie multiplicity

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true confessions: a journey to become a better me

by talitha a. mcguinness


have a confession. I am one of those gals who think they are smaller than they truly are. After baby #4, the number on the tags in my clothing isn’t getting as small as I would like, as easy or as quickly as I would like. I’m not going to lie…I have always compared myself to others (always inwardly, of course) --- my size, my clothing, the way I present myself, what others think of me, and the list could go on and on. This has almost always helped me become a better person, as I love to look at beautiful, caring, successful and powerful women who seem to “have it all”. Many of these women I am lucky enough to call friends and even family (you know who you are!). However, I know that worrying about my size and shape isn’t a healthy way to live, nor is it a healthy representation I want for my girls as they grow up. A lot of this I have outgrown and have come to care less about as I have become more confident in who I am (those middle school and high school years can be hard on a girl!), but now I am ready and willing to deal with my weight and overall health, among a few other areas of my life that I think can use some improvement. Like so many moms, I manage a house, volunteer on a number of levels, take care of my children, run a couple of businesses, and yet still make it a priority to have time with my husband with a smile on my face



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(he is pretty handsome and special to me). So…who takes care of me? I have certainly always tried, but “me” usually gets sloppy seconds. I want to be the happiest, healthiest “me” in order to keep everything else from falling apart, so it’s time to make some changes. One of the things that jumpstarted my exercising was noticing the weight from all of these babies and years of eating whatever I wanted hanging on for dear life. I didn’t make time for activity outside of running errands, running kids and running after kids. Most days, who has time for anything else? Recently, through a group of moms I discoverd on facebook, I signed up for a 30-day challenge to exercise and eat right. Did I succeed? Actually, I exercised with the DVD plan six out of seven days of the week (the seventh was always reserved for light activity), and I really enjoyed the dancing, and the encouragement from the other members in the challenge group. Did I eat the best I could? Well, let’s just say that I could have done better (it was the holidays and things were just too tempting --- don’t judge!). So, in light of wanting to make a few improvements, here are the things I’ll be working on that I feel are realistic and beneficial to me and my whole family. A happy mommy makes for a happy family, right?!? *limit shouting at my kids I say limit because we live in a 3 story house and I just don’t always have time to run down to ask my kids to come up for

this or that. I’ll just work more on the shouting out of frustration. My husband urges me to whisper when I feel the need to shout, and it seems that terrifies my children more than shouting, as it is so unlike my personality to be that quiet! *enjoy the moment Like I’ve mentioned before, I am a planner. Things don’t go missing or forgotten, usually, all t’s are crossed and i’s dotted. However, in spending so much time planning for the things in the near or long-term future, I leave little time to enjoy what’s happening right here and now. In enjoying the moment, I hope to make more time doing and being around the things and people that make me happy. *eat cleaner and healthier This simply aligns with my overall goal of trying to become healthier. I hope to snack smarter, eat more fruits and veggies, and exercise as much as is realistically possible for me. I’ll be spending more time on Hip Hop Abs and Zumba, and even trying to get out and run with my girls when we have the chance. Let’s face it...I may never wear a bikini again, but all of this healthy eating and working out certainly can’t hurt, right? *hug more and hurt less Another thing I’ve noticed that I easily forget is to hug my twin girls who are now eight (going on eighteen) often enough. I spend a lot of time with my younger ones in my arms because they’re still little and are still very much dependent on me for everything. My twins are totally independent and totally argumentative at this point. Something I hope to remember any time I feel an multiplicity

argument coming is a quote I recently discovered...“you don’t have to show up to every argument you’re invited to”. This goes as much for aquaintances and professional peers, but especially family who I care about the most. If I remember to hug my girls a little more, maybe that will curb some of the crazy arguments I feel we have each and every day. *learn it’s okay to say “no” I feel this needs no explanation at all. A girl can only do so much! *get more sleep Again, this is pretty obvious. There will be many days in my future where I will be in bed sooner, meaning more rest and more one-on-one time with that handsome husband I referenced earlier! *be a role model for my girls My girls have watched me run my own business, manage countless volunteer efforts, and be a part of their extracurricular lives, all while growing our family and running the house. While they may one day want the complete opposite of this crazy lifestyle choice I’ve made, I want nothing more than for them to know that they CAN have it all and make it work if that’s what they choose. At the end of the day, it makes me feel like a stronger person and mom in sharing this tiny gift of accomplishment. Just like my own goals, I hope you have a few of your own that you are able to achieve throughtout this new year. Even if we only accomplish a few, we’re off to a great start. Here’s to each of us becoming a better “me”!

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indoor fun & imaginative play by barbara b. miller, asid



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Early childhood educator Vivian Gussin Paley says in her book A Child’s Work: The Importance of Fantasy Play that by trying to control our children’s play and direct it with plans and projects, we actually interrupt their learning. Your child needs the opportunity to be the hero and confront his own fantasy villains and act out his own story. When a child makes his own choices in play without adult interference, his motivation to explore, discover and follow a thread of learning increases dramatically.

invite imagination

How will you balance your child’s time between structured learning like classes and free play? If your child loves art, instruction can stimulate his creativity and expand the types of techniques and materials he uses, but be sure you also leave unscheduled time for him to experiment with non-typical art materials like twigs or twine, or for other interest areas on his own. Non-typical materials can invite imagination in all types of play. Open-ended materials are the opposite of high-priced, single-use toys. Instead, they are natural or everyday objects such as rocks, sticks, pine cones, flower pods, clay, nutshells or seashells, cardboard or plastic tubes, ramps made from old boxes, stuffing ripped from an old pillow, fabric cut from a discarded shirt, blocks, twine, clothes pins, even a flagpole stand and pole. These simple items can be transformed by your child’s imagination. A trunk, a small closet under the stairs, or even an under the bed storage container can become an imaginative treasure trove of wonder. You select the materials that are age appropriate and acceptable in your home, stash them away for a cold, wet day and then watch their imagination take flight. multiplicity

photographs courtesy of Kerri Ann Garfield

ith the cold weather firmly taking hold and the holidays behind us, long months of indoor play can seem daunting to even the most imaginative parent. Yes, indoor playgrounds, sports teams and classes can help us through it, but over-scheduling children does not allow enough time for uninterrupted blocks of play. Just play --- play dates to go to the theater or a “Mommy and Me” class with a scheduled curriculum does not count. Play is simple: it’s time for your child to naturally explore his surroundings at his own pace, make up his own games, and create his own worlds.

An indoor sandbox can be as simple as a plastic container with beach sand. Here natural materials are used to create “fairy houses.”

set the stage

What better way for your child to learn to tell her own story than to perform it in your living room? A stage does not have to be a complicated, extravagant or even permanent addition to your home. A floor lamp with directional lights can be enough of a spotlight on her dramatic efforts to engage imagination. I like to add an old sheet as a backdrop that can be decorated with fabric markers or cut out felt pieces, but if you already have a chalkboard wall or a large white board, then incorporate that. Costumes are important to your young actor. An apron from the kitchen, dad’s old winter coat, and Halloween costume elements from years past can be kept in a suitcase and hauled out to provide all the finery she requires. Be sure you set up your “stage” in an area where it can be left up for a few days and locate it next to some comfortable audience seating because there will be many performances daily! --- contd. pg. 35

Be sure you set up your “stage” in an area where it can be left up for at least a few days...because there will be many performances daily! the must-have magazine for all moms of multiples



finds for kids by talitha a. mcguinness




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all fashion photography courtesy of firewife photography

party pals! 31


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sponsored by...

basic long sleeve swing dress in stone and pond solid drop waist dress in lavender print long sleeve pajama in natural buds print ruffle in farm stripe & knit hat in berry 32


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print long sleeve pajama in pond running labs print long sleeve pajama in stone/river lattice print long sleeve pajama in river stripe print long sleeve pajama in river snow tree 33


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basic long sleeve swing dress in stone and pond solid drop waist dress in lavender 34


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contd. --- indoor fun The main stage photo was created by installing some red velvet drapes across one end of a gabled playroom. The backdrop is an old sheet that is hung up with twine and clothes pins attached to two small hooks on the walls. It is easily removable and the curtains tie back to open the room for other types of play.

shake the blues away

Every child needs to move, and you should certainly encourage it, but in order to preserve your sanity and your sofa springs it is best to design where and how your child can jump, run and tumble. You do not have to have a large playroom to accommodate physical play --you just need a plan. Space to dance is easy to accommodate in almost any room. You could store a folding tumbling mat or punching bag in a closet next to some open space or even in a hallway. Pull one out on those days your child just can’t sit still. Telling her to “go tumble on your mat” sounds so much better to her than “go to your room” or “sit down and be quiet.”

think big

One guaranteed way to invite imagination in older children is to surprise them with really large scale play. I love giving children a set of blank white poster boards, some blue painters tape and setting them loose to create their own life size board game. A giant pair of dice sparked an idea that led to hours of fun as these girls invented play and reconfigured life-size game boards where they are the game pieces. Don’t have giant dice? A cardboard box is even better! Let her create her own. Define an area for your child where they can set up their game. Invite her to use the non-harmful painter’s tape to create the game board on the floor and add any crazy challenge she can imagine on her cards. This is a perfect way to combine physical movement and creativity, but be prepared to play along!

Indoor adventure is only defined by the limits of your imagination. Your kitchen can be a bistro in Paris one day serving “café et patisseries,” your living room could be a jungle the next day or pirates could be attacking the ship in your son’s bedroom. You set the parameters of where and how your child can use your home and your furnishings. By establishing boundaries up front and creating a plan you can all live with, you are able to step back and allow his imagination to bloom. Barbara Miller is an award winning interior designer, a nationally known expert on childcentered design, and the founder and principal designer of YES Spaces, LLC. Through YES Spaces, Barbara creates chic living spaces for real families nationwide. She also provides online design and curated home furnishings. Barbara writes about design, family life and connecting with children with intention. She has been published in national and regional parenting and design magazines and quoted as an expert in many publications including ASID ICON, Sherwin Williams Stir, BobVilla. com, multiple Associated Press articles, NW Kids, The Oregonian, the Portland Tribune and others. Barbara regularly blogs for thousands of parents at her award winning blog YES Spaces.

freetime fun! multiplicity

Barbara produces DIY videos inspired by ideas in her book, Mess to YES: Spaces for Family Living. She created a pilot episode of her series Mess to YES Home Makeovers for the launch of The Design Network and is currently in production on three more. Also, connect with her on facebook and pinterest.

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you better watch your back tips for avoiding and coping with back pain by cara krenn

It’s almost inevitable that most of us will experience back pain at some point in our lives. There are so many causes: sports injuries, accidents, work-related strain…not to mention picking up two (or more!) kids regularly. Unfortunately, busy moms are not immune to injury. However, the good news is that there are certain preventative and coping measures we can all utilize to help avoid and manage the pain. Make exercise a regular part of your week. According to WebMD, “resting” an aching back is actually counterproductive. Gentle, regular exercise (such as swimming, walking, or yoga) is recommended to relieve back pain. Staying in shape is one of the best preventative measures to avoid back-related issues. Raise all back pain concerns with your doctor. Always consult your physician regarding any health concerns and medication option questions. Strengthen your abdominal muscles. At the end of a great cardio workout, it’s easy to forget sit-ups. However, “core” strength is key to supporting your system. A great round of sit-ups only takes a few minutes on the floor, and can even be made into a game with your kids. Use proper technique when picking up children. Remember, bend at your knees, not at your waist



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when picking up your kids (or any heavy object). Use your legs, not your back! Squat down and squeeze your abdominal muscles when lifting. It’s often necessary to carry two babies at once when your twins are infants, but try to limit carrying both children simultaneously as they get older. Additionally, avoid twisting movements while holding a child. Switch sides when holding your children. Most people have a dominant side of the body when it comes to holding a child. Constantly holding a child on one hip can put extra strain on your back. Try continuously switching sides throughout the day when holding your kids. Use ice, then heat, to relieve pain. According to The New York Times “Back Pain Health Guide,” try applying ice to the affected area for the first 2 to 3 days, then use heat afterward. Many patients report relief from use of a heating pad.

relieve pressure on your back, especially during pregnancy. Watch your positioning while breastfeeding. When breastfeeding, especially if tandem-feeding twins, bring your child or children up to your breasts, rather than leaning over to the child. Proper positioning will not only help ease back strain, it will also help increase milk flow. Use extra pillows to prop up your breastfeeding pillow to the appropriate level, if necessary. Maintain a healthy weight. Keeping extra weight off of your frame may help reduce back pain and risk of injury. Look into massage, acupuncture, chiropractic sessions, yoga, or other pain relief or back strengthening options. Lastly, consult your physician regarding your preventative and relief plan. Some options may even be covered by your health insurance.

Don’t take unnecessary risks. Think you can move the couch by yourself to vacuum the carpet? Do you carry that overloaded diaper bag, car seat, and shopping bag all at once? Think twice before moving heavy objects or participating in activities that can cause you unnecessary strain. Ask for help if you need it.

more back pain resources • WebMD Back Pain Health Center • MedicineNet Back Pain (articles, slideshows, and quizzes) • Mayo Clinic • The New York Times Back Pain Health Guide • Consumer Reports Back Pain Relief • Spine Health • Big Back Pain (mobile friendly app) • Amazon Back in Control (book to help explain & manage pain)

Focus on good posture. We all spend too much time slumping over, especially when at a desk in front of a computer. To help, imagine a string lifting your body upward when moving throughout your day. Sleep on your side with a pillow between your legs. This can help multiplicity

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picky eaters by skye van zetten

“He’s such a picky eater!” I often hear this from parents interviewing for a daycare placement. I always smile. I can’t help it. Although I cannot make a child eat anything they don’t want to, I do know how to feed children in a healthy way. My daughter is an adventurous omnivore, the sort of child parents describe as a joy to feed. She was always curious about what my husband and I were eating and eagerly adapted from infant and toddler friendly textures to grown up fare. She loathes macaroni and cheese, and prefers a well-cooked steak and steamed broccoli over chicken nuggets and hotdogs, (although the latter are foods she does enjoy). There is little she doesn’t eat. My son is a food phobic carbivore. More than just a “picky” eater, he survives on 2.25 food groups. He wants nothing to do with anything that could be mistaken for a vegetable or any form of meat. He will not touch macaroni and cheese, hotdogs, or chicken nuggets. His primary source of protein is chocolate milk, and the bulk of his calories come from crackers, bread and cheese pizza. I can count all the different fruit he eats on one hand. There was a time, just two years ago, when I could list 38


everything he would eat on a post-it note. I didn’t feed my twins any differently. I fed them from the same bowl, at the same time, with the same spoon. The only significant difference was the episodes of choking early in my son’s eating career. Otherwise, there is no medical explanation for his extreme food refusal, except what one occupational therapist described as a ‘definitely different’ sense of smell. My husband and I tried every picky eater solution that promised results. All of them insisted we somehow make him eat what is served using rewards, praise, and encouragement. Our good intentions only succeeded in making our son more anxious about eating. At the age of five, and after several attempts to get him to eat healthy foods, his weight dropped from a consistent line along the 25th percentile into the territory of failure to thrive. I learned something really important about the most common solutions for picky eating. These strategies are designed to make the parent feel better about what their child is eating. Think about it. A young child knows little, if anything about the nutritional benefits of vegetables. If the child eats more variety, there are the benefits of

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and wants to see their children eating. Part of the parents’ responsibility of what to eat includes being considerate without catering. “We’re having sushi, would you like spaghetti instead?” That’s catering. It’s not up to the child to decide what food will be served. Including a basket of rolls, a bowl of plain rice, pasta, crackers or some other starchy food the child will accept, however, is being considerate to the eating ability of the child. Kids need to trust that they will get fed before they will venture willingly into the territory of trying new foods. Providing a preferable option beside unfamiliar food is essential to creating an enjoyable eating environment for both parent and child.

photo courtesy of jane goodrich photography

a more nutritious diet, but to whom does this really matter? Encouragement and the ever famous “eat-or-go-hungry” memes only teach children to eat to please others, instead of food they enjoy and for their own needs. Picky eating affects the entire family. It’s not fair to expect a child to shoulder all the responsibility to change. There is a well known feeding model called the Division of Responsibility. The parent is responsible for what food to eat, when to eat, and where the food is served. But wait…there’s a bit more to it than simply deciding the family is feasting on sushi tonight at the kitchen table. There is nothing wrong with introducing the kids to sushi, or any food the parents enjoy

So you served preferred pasta beside the unfamiliar sushi and

all your child ate was plate after plate of pasta, barely giving the sushi a sideways glance. That’s okay. In fact, that is the child’s responsibility --- to decide how much to eat. This is how children develop a healthy relationship with food. Your child may eat several servings of the starchy alternative, or very little, or none at all. He may look at the selection of sushi, but not want it on his plate. He might take a piece, but not eat it. He may put a piece in his mouth and then spit it out. All of this is very normal child eating behavior. The parent has created an environment where children can be successful with eating by providing opportunity for neutral, nopressure exposure to new food. Have patience. Children need several, --- contd. pg. 49

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The creator of the Twiniversity online resource delivers the definitive survival guide for all parents of multiples --- from pregnancy through the first year The rate of twin births has risen by 79% over the last three decades, and continues to grow. Expectant parents are overwhelmed with questions: do I really need two of everything? Can we do this ourselves or do we need help? Will I have to rob a bank to raise these babies without going broke? A twins mom herself and national guru on having two (or more!), Natalie Diaz launched Twiniversity, a supportive website with advice from the trenches. What to Do When You’re Having Two covers: *making a Birth Plan checklist *sticking to one sleep schedule *double-duty breastfeeding *must-have gear *building one-on-one relationships with each child early Brimming with tried-and-true tips --- from the diaper budget to stroller sanity --- this is the must-have survival guide for parents of multiples. Natalie Diaz has been featured in The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, New York Family Magazine, and more. She was named one of the top 100 Social Media Moms on Twitter by Disney and has recently been nominated for a She Knows Parenting Award.

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contd. from --- bond “They are very set on routines, so we set up schedules to help them organize their daily activities and reduce their anxiety.”

the coolest new resource for multiples clubs

Part of these daily activities include attending the Genesis Day Habilitation Program, where Alex and Jamie go out to various work sites and on recreational trips. While the twins both enjoy the highly structured, intense, behavioral program, nothing compares to the feeling they receive when running. “Running has enabled them to reach goals that we never even imagined,” says Robyn. Between Alex’s speed and Jamie’s endurance, both have been given the opportunity to be involved in the mainstream activity of running in races, with all runners, everywhere. Both have excelled in their high school cross country team, and Alex has been awarded more than 100 trophies, medals and plaques to date.

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For Alex and Jamie, the biggest reward of all has been finding an outlet to channel the challenges they face with Autism and crossing that finish line. “Running gives them that release, as well as, the sense of freedom and enjoyment that they love,” says Robyn. “They are able to run in mainstream races with their typically developing peers, and when they cross that finish line, it is a triumph each and every time.” Sidenote: If you would like to know more about the Schneider family and Alex and Jamie’s story, please visit their website at www. multiplicity

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schedule =



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getting your twins on a feeding & sleeping schedule by julie burt nichols


s a twin mom I am constantly asked, “How do you do it?” My answer? “I live and die by the schedule!” Setting a feeding and sleeping schedule for twins is really non-negotiable. YOU need breaks! The only way to get those breaks is to make them happen. Make a plan, gather your tools for success, and with time and (a LOT) of patience you will get those breaks and start to feel like a normal person again. Believe me, I’ve been there! When your twins are so little, you want nothing more in the world but to let them just live by their own internal clock and instincts. The reality is rough. You are caring for two babies at once. You do not have the luxuries that singleton parents do. It is really hard to cope with that idea! You want to be able to let your kid keep sleeping even if they didn’t wake to eat. You want them to be able to feed on-demand, when they are hungry, like all other babies get to do! Sorry, friend. Having twins is an incredible experience…and this is one of the drawbacks. But I survived it and so will you! And to those of you who

raised your twins without a schedule, I bow down to you. Seriously, I am nowhere near as patient as you and I truly don’t know how you did it! However, if you are as exhausted and impatient as I am, here are my expert tips for getting your twins on a feeding and sleeping schedule:

*Write it down. Buy a thick spiral notebook (I’m talking 3-subject!). When a baby wakes, change them, feed them and then write it down. Record their name, the time the feeding started, amount eaten, and if they pooped and/or peed. After a couple of days, you will see a pattern emerge. This will help you establish how often they are eating and what kind of pattern you can set. It’s also easier to remember everything that’s going on when you are in a sleep-deprived haze. This will prove especially helpful if you have others coming in to help and they shoo you away to nap or shower. They can look at the journal and know exactly where you are in the schedule, without having to bother you. Ask your pediatrician how much and how often they should be eating. Your pediatrician will LOVE this “poop journal”, too --- bring it multiplicity

to doctor visits so they can look it over and see how well your babies are eating.

*When one eats, the other eats. If Baby #2 isn’t up by now, go wake them and repeat the same steps. I know, wake up a sleeping child? Isn’t that against the laws of nature? Do it. Keep them on the same routine. You will thank me later! *Wake

them up. If both babies are still sleeping and it’s time to eat, wake them both up. This was our rule for daytime feedings. At night, we let them keep sleeping so we could get some sleep, too. Then, we would start the schedule over again at 7 am.


your props. Professionals need their tools to do their job. Your job is to get these babies to eat and sleep in the same routine and you need to use your own tools to do this! My favorite props were swaddling sleep sacks (with extra-snug Velcro), noise machines, blackout curtains, pacifiers, and humidifiers. These items will make the room nice and dark, create a soothing environment for sleep, and help keep you on that schedule. Set the stage for

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Schedule tip: wake them both up. If both babies are still asleep and it’s time to eat, wake them both up

to feed. success and use your props to get you through!


sleeping arrangements. When the babies are very little, they will probably have an easier time napping in the same room. As they get older, you might need to adjust the sleeping arrangements. When my twins turned 8 months old, they started waking each other up and it prevented them from getting the quality sleep they needed. We were forced to separate them for naps. With only two bedrooms, we kept the lighter sleeper in his own crib and the deeper sleeper was moved to a pack and play in our master bedroom. It worked!

Schedule tip: separate at naptime. 44


While it would be nice for them to nap in the same room, I am in no hurry! Now, they get 2 hours of naps each day and are much more happy and alert when awake. One thing to know is that as your twins grow, the schedule will inevitably change. What worked one week might not work the next. Try to be patient and realize there will be many setbacks, even after your schedule is set. Expect to have to readjust your schedule as your kids go through different phases and as life (in the form of visitors, vacations, Daylight Savings Time, etc.) upsets the balance. Similarly, once your twins are sleeping through the night, expect that nighttime sleep will regress now and then due to illness, teething, growth spurts, or sometimes, for no reason at all! My boys were sleep-trained at 6 months old, but even now at 13 months,

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they often wake up during the night. I thought sleep training would be a magic wand (big eye-opener!). There are so many more nuances to getting a schedule down --- nuances that will be unique to your children and your situation. Be consistent with whatever is working in the moment and follow your instinct --- always! You will get a routine down and when you do, it will all be worth it. Julie Burt Nichols is an infertility and IVF survivor and a fulltime working mother to twin boys, Desmond and Alec, born on Halloween, 2012. She shares the adventure of twin life with her adorable husband, Michael, and her sassy Shepherd mix rescue dog, Willa. Julie is the newest member of the M.O.M. Squad, serving as Content Manager for Twiniversity.

Got great twins? Tell us!

All submissions entered will be considered/reviewed by the Twiniversity Mom Squad. The chosen twinnies will be featured on Twiniversity and will receive a toy from our sponsor, Step2. Send us your submission today!

Thanks to Step2 for partnering with us and congrats to our recent winners!

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contd. from --- keep warm Once baby is buckled in safely, you can then cover him with an extra blanket for added warmth. Keep in mind, though, that you don’t want your tots to overheat if they will be in the car for a while. If you will be walking around with the stroller, you can get away with a bulkier snowsuit or coat, but make sure to remove it before buckling your baby in his car seat. If you use a snap-type stroller/ carseat combo, you might want to try some car seat covers that act like tents and shield the baby from the weather. If your older multiples are in a stroller with seats, you can look for footmuffs or buntings so you don’t have to deal with blankets that might slip away.

3. When possible, wear one or more babies. Baby

wearing is a nice way to get in some extra cuddles, and in my experience is an absolute necessity just to get things done around the house! It also has the added benefit of using your body temperature to keep baby nice and warm. There are a variety of styles of carriers, from slings to pouches to wraps and backpacks. You will probably feel most comfortable wearing only one baby at a time, (unless they are very small!), but baby wearing can be a great tool if one baby is content and the other needs some extra attention. If you’d like to venture out while wearing your baby, make sure to dress appropriately. Babies can overheat quickly, so again, light, but warm layers are the best choice here. Before you head out, do a quick mirror check to make sure any waldrobe malfunctions (yours or baby’s!) aren’t leaving baby uncovered anywhere. For that gap between pant legs and socks, I’ve tried long thigh-high type socks and/or leg warmers! You can also find carrier covers that snap on to the straps of the carrier, covering the baby.

diaper, and hold her to your bare chest, covering yourselves with a blanket. Make sure that baby’s face isn’t covered and that she can breathe! Skinto-skin isn’t just for moms, either. Dad can get in on this action, too! For more benefits of skin-toskin contact, see this infographic.

5. Practice safe sleep. Loose blankets can be a suffocation hazard. Try a swaddle or sleep sack instead. Swaddling babies helps keep them calm and warm, with the added benefit of decreasing SIDS risk. Also, be careful not to put on too many layers before you swaddle your multiples, as they can overheat while swaddled. To check, put your hand on baby’s chest. It shouldn’t feel hot or clammy. Again, if it’s really cold, fleece is a great option for a sleep sack or swaddle. For more on swaddling, check out Baby Care Advice. Mercedes is a stay-at-home mom of 15 month old boy/girl twins. She and her husband brought their twins to live in Scotland when they were just ten weeks old, and it’s been an adventure ever since. Read more about their life in the land of castles, haggis and bagpipes at her blog, Project Procrastinot. You can also find her on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest.

check these out!

There are even baby-wearing garments for adults--fleece vests or pull-overs with extra room and a hole for baby’s head! One note of caution...when baby wearing, always make sure that baby’s face is not covered, and that her chin is not tucked into her chest, which can cause difficulty breathing.

infashield car seat cover

boba wrap

4. Cuddle skin-to-skin. It’s not just good for

encouraging breastfeeding---holding your babies skin-to-skin can help regulate their body temperatures. Strip the baby down to just her



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mam wrap

what you’re talking about... We all know that our lady parts take a beating after pregnancy and childbirth. How do you deal with incontinence?

Talk to your doctor and seek medical help for pelvic floor damage because although it’s common, post-partum incontinence shouldn’t be your new normal. - kmcglynn See your OBGYN to determine if you have uterine prolapse. It could be an issue with your pelvic floor muscles and pilates might help, but it could be another issue altogether. lovebugsmama I know of a person who teaches yoga-centric exercises to help strengthen the pelvic floor and stomach post pregnancy. She has exercises you can do at home. ( - Ninbru multiplicity

Death is as sure as life, and it can be hard when it comes to talking with toddlers about it. How would you share the news?

Tell them, show pictures, share stories, tell them how much he/she loves to watch them from heaven. - Kristen H. When the girls started asking we told them the truth, in a kids way. - Christen H. When asked, I told my daughter my mother died... she is not here...I don’t know where she is, but she is in my heart. - Laurie It’s not too early to tell them in my opinion. I explain that my dad is in heaven. Our dog also died and they talk about our dog in heaven with my dad Debbie L. the must-have magazine for all moms of multiples


appy winter!

fun, educational apps for kids of all ages --and for mom and dad, too!

for mom and dad With so many children faced with life-altering food allergies, this new app, YoDish, is a Godsend for parents. They can simply create a dietary profile for their children by entering any food allergies or sensitivities (i.e. shellfish, tree nuts, soy, etc.), and the app will direct them to reviews of restaurants in their area. Reviewers ( just like you an me!) can rate the restaurant as “Noshed it!”, “Ate it” or “Hated it” and add more detail like how clean their preparation process was, etc. Also, with matches for all dietary constraints (i.e. allergy friendly, gluten free, vegetarian, etc.), this app makes eating out a breeze for families who usually have to cook at home for fear of the unknown at restaurants.

for the preschool and under crowd Team UmiZoomi’s Math Racer fosters early math skills by allowing them to design their own race car and then use number identification, counting and early addition and subtraction at each pit stop. $6.99 through iTunes. Monkey Preschool Lunchbox is one of the most popular preschool apps available right now. It offers a puzzle feature which is great for incorporating visual/spatial awareness while you’re on the go, and also includes sorting, shape recognition, and color recognition. $0.99 through iTunes. for those 5 and up iWriteWords teaches your child how to write numbers, letters and words through tracing exercises. Parents can even play back their child’s own handwriting to monitor progress and share with their little one. Available in Spanish. Lite version is free or $4.99 through iTunes. Motion Math turns fractions into a game where players move them to their places on a number line in order to return a star to its spot in the sky. The app is designed to help children grasp the concept of fractions and estimate fractions in multiple forms. $1.99 through iTunes.

This app is a free, fast and easy way to share your food and dining experiences with others just like you! Stay connected to other foodie news and share your own experiences by joining their facebook page. 48


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contd. from --- picky eaters (sometimes hundreds) of these neutral exposures to become comfortable with the unfamiliar. Very likely, everyone had a lovely meal and left the table with full bellies. What more could a parent ask for? It is the parents’ job to decide what food to serve, not how much or what food a child should eat, and nor should they try. It is not the child’s job to commandeer the menu. There is a mutual respect in the parent-child feeding relationship that is based on trust. Crossing the lines of responsibility undermines that trust and invites pressure to the table, resulting in mealtimes that no one looks forward to. Hearing a parent say “He’s such a picky eater” never concerns me. Government guidelines require daycares to provide meals and snacks that include all four food groups. I can easily provide a buffet of options that includes a variety of healthy foods with options I know the children enjoy. At my table, there are no prizes for trying something new, no encouragement to eat, only reminders to take as much as you

want from what I’ve offered. I expect the appetites of children to vary from meal to meal, but no child ever leaves my table hungry. Routinely, I am asked for recipes by curious parents wondering how I get their child to eat things they won’t touch at home. It’s certainly not because I’m a better cook. My secret ingredient is being considerate with feeding, and respecting the children’s responsibility with eating. As for my almost eight year old son’s post-it note diet? Following the Division of Responsibility literally saved his life. I’m pleased to report that the entirety of what he will now eat requires a much larger piece of paper. Skye Van Zetten is a mother of twins and licensed home daycare operator in Canada. In the absence of clinical direction and professional help for her son’s extreme food refusal, Skye began her own independent research, leading to the creation of the award winning blog to share information related to selective eating. The Mealtime Hostage support group on Facebook currently offers feeding support and guidance to hundreds of parents of selective eating children worldwide. You can also follow her on twitter.

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mid-year slump?

school tips for helping your little ones finish strong!


by susan rassette

ou survived the holiday what? It can be tough to get back into the routine after a long break. The kids get used to sleeping in, staying in their pajamas, and playing instead of working on schoolwork. You get used to not having to wake children up, pack lunches, and the general mad rush of the school morning. Here are some helpful ideas to get the kids back in school mode.

Keep mostly to your routine during the holiday break.

Try to keep the children on generally the same sleep schedule during the school break. Yes, they can fit in some special late nights, but generally, try to keep the same schedule, including when you eat your meals. Children really do thrive on a good schedule. If they do stay awake later, try to let them sleep in to make up for it, but then get back to their regular bedtime the next night.

Sneak some learning fun into the break.

I have second grade twin girls who are very different academically. Their teachers make it easy on me by sending home learning games during school breaks. For the holiday break, they got Bingo-inspired games called Matho, Write, and Reado. My high achiever fully intends to cover each and every square of each of those games before the break is over. Her sister, on the other hand, needs a little more encouragement. So I do offer a little reward to encourage her to participate in the games more than she naturally wants to. If you have not been so lucky as to have 50


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to offer and take it outside. Many communities have great sledding hills. Find a lake, skating pond, or outdoor rink and go skating. Build a snow fort or a snowman. Some children do really well when physical and mental activities are combined. Have your child do jumping jacks while studying. Sometimes that really helps to make it click. So while you are keeping them active, maybe try to sneak in a little learning activity, too.

some activities sent home by the teachers, there are a ton of free online resources, including the following: ABCYA - a free educational wesbite that offers games in areas like math and language arts, and even differentiates by grade level. Spelling City - helps them practice spelling words through games like Hang Mouse and Crossword Puzzles.

Cook with your kids

Fun Brain - offers games based on math and reading, but also offers best-selling, digital, kid books, mad libs and other fun.

Kids love to help out in the kitchen. Maybe you are a gourmet chef or love to bake fancy treats, but really, any cooking activity will do. Mix up a batch of Tollhouse cookies. All you have to do is follow the recipe on the back of the package. Have the kids help. They can learn about measuring, stirring, timing, and all kinds of great lessons. Plus, they get a yummy treat at the end!

Starfall - focuses on teaching reading through the use of phonics. Kids can play with letters and letter sounds, have passages read to them and play games to gauge their learning. National Geographics Kids - a website full of crafts, photos and stories about experiences in other countries, recipes, and lots of science projects and experiments.

Get organized!

I dream of being the ultraorganized mom. I am not there yet, but I do have many helpful things I have done to make it through the busy school year and the many work projects I complete throughout the year. Going back to school with some organization in place will make everything so much easier as you move through the long winter months.

Keep them active

If children do not have some form of physical activity each day, they go a little crazy. You can just tell within five minutes of their arrival home from school that today must have been an indoor recess day! Keep them active during the break, too. Sometimes the weather is not so conducive, but there are so many options today. Peruse the Groupon and LivingSocial sites and pick up deals on indoor trampoline places, skating, and other indoor activities. You could also simply enjoy what winter has

*Keep a file box for each child. Keep important papers inside and place a monthly calendar page on the front to mark important deadlines/ events related to that child and their schedule.

diy organization!


*Keep a family calendar. I use the dry erase variety. I mark all important family events, appointments, activities, days off, school late start days, and everything else that would slip my

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mind if it was not written down and in my face. This calendar is kept right outside our mudroom, where we pass multiple times each day. *Make organization accessible. My favorite thing I did recently (before the start of this current school year) was painting my interior mudroom door with chalkboard paint. The door is magnetic, so I have a locker container of chalk sticking to it as well. We write all of our “do not forget!” information there. This might include which day each child wants hot lunch, stuff we really need at the store (out of dog food anyone?), and other things we absolutely do not want to forget. It can also be accessed by the kids when they need little reminders, too. *Clean out the backpacks, wash them, and get them re-packed and ready to go back to school. They are looking pretty bad about now, aren’t they? Get rid of all the stuff your child collects and get it ready to go back to school. After washing, it will feel like the start of the year with a brand new backpack (okay, maybe not quite, but you get the idea!). Why not also throw in the coats, snow pants, gloves, and hats while you are at it?

Countdown to your next break

Do you have any fun trips planned for the winter or spring break? Get them excited about that. Have them make a calendar where they can mark down the days until trip time and discuss fun things you can do while enjoying your time off.

more ideas to get organized! chalkboard door

filing system

Help out in the classroom

Sometimes it is not so easy to do this if you are a working parent or have younger siblings at home, but if you’ve never volunteered in the classroom and can, give it a try. It is a great way to know all the kids in your child’s class, a great way to help out the teacher, and your children will love your involvement.

the whole sha-bang!

Everyone wants to start the New Year on the right foot. Hopefully, these tips will help your family get more organized, remember that schedule, and make a smooth transition back to school. Susan is the mother of fraternal twin girls, age 7. She lives with her daughters and husband in a suburb of Detroit, Michigan. Susan loves to cook, craft, and many fitness activities. She also works full time from home for a large software company. You can follow her on pinterest, or facebook. 52


index card holders for f lashcards!

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photo courtesy of firewife photography

ask the veterans

twins beyond the twos... Ever notice how kids so easily get wrapped up in tablets and gaming devices these days? Here are a few tips to keep them connected to family! With games, videos, music and the world at our fingertips, it’s no wonder that we as parents and so many kids are tied to electronics. Being in the know and being able to use the technology is important, especially since so many kids use tablets at school and for homework in the evenings. However, as parents, we have to set a good example. One way to do this is to enforce powering off for some dedicated time as a family (mom and dad included!).

Other ideas are to feature family game or movie nights each week, and definitely try to sit down to dinner as much as possible to talk about the day. Our kids will only be little for so long, so the more we can teach the importance of human interaction and making memories in our daily lives, the better they’ll be in the long-run. After all, what kid wants memories of being so addicted to electronics throughout their childhood over family visits to the zoo, beach, and other fun places? multiplicity

Pregnancy is a beautiful part of life and should be full of wonder and love. Being pregnant with multiples doesn’t have to be scary, even if an unheard of diagnosis is involved. Have questions?

We can help! Answers for today. Hope for tomorrow.

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five minute fix: add life!


he easiest way to improve any room is to add “life” to it. Of course, multiples add plenty of life to any house, but that does not completely make up for the lack of a centerpiece. And that’s the rationale behind this “five-minute fix,” my term for easy, inexpensive things that any MOM can do to make her home more beautiful in her limited free time. I absolutely adore fresh flowers on my tables, and if my budget permitted, I would fill my home with new arrangements weekly. Unfortunately, that isn’t practical for my life … and I’m guessing it isn’t practical for yours either! Especially in the middle of winter, when my beloved hydrangea bushes look as though they will never sprout another blossom, I need to look for long-lasting alternatives. Fortunately, there are plenty! Many of us have used the ubiquitous bowl of green apples 54


– and I am just as “guilty” as anyone – but almost any colorful fruit looks fantastic in a glass bowl or compote. Lemons, limes, and oranges are a few fruits that are particularly striking, and inexpensive glass cylinders and apothecary jars are available everywhere from Michael’s to Hobby Lobby. I particularly like the Pampered Chef trifle bowl for its versatility, ease of storage, and added height! To get the most bang for your buck, buy the fruit in bulk at Costco or another warehouse club. Moss balls are another great option, and they will last even longer than the fruit. Many faux moss balls are very realistic, but I prefer preserved moss balls, like these available on Etsy. If you have a green thumb, indoor houseplants are also a wonderful solution. Orchids are readily available, and their blooms typically last for

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by traci zeller

weeks. Fiddle leaf fig trees are a favorite of designers for their large, interesting leaves and their ability to fill an empty corner. Importantly, make sure the houseplants are out of reach or that your children are old enough to know (and do) better. Some houseplants are poisonous if ingested – and no centerpiece is worth that! What’s on your table? I’d love to hear any other suggestions!

Traci Zeller is an interior designer known for her clean, sophisticated mix of classic and modern pieces. As a busy wife and mother to active twin boys, she appreciates the need for spaces that are beautiful and functional. Traci also authors a blog, and her firm, Traci Zeller Designs, provides full service design, textiles, and e-decorating packages.

take the guessing out of registering for your twins! Baby Gear Guide


arriving in may!

chic design with multiples in mind!

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What’s a mom in need to do? Up in the night breastfeeding and have a question? Teething babies driving you to the brinks? Chatting with other moms of multiples around the globe is always at your fingertips. Join Twiniversity’s BigTent group of nearly 5,000 members...FREE! multiplicity

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ask joan

ons i t u l o s e r g parentin

Celebrating the beginning of a new year causes us to pause and contemplate personal issues in a selfreflective manner. We make promises to ourselves about changes we long to make, goals we want to pursue, and dreams we hope will come true. I have taken the liberty of creating my personal list of 2014 resolutions that reflect parenting concerns that I feel are pressing issues in our society. 1. minimize screen time and exposure.

Conventional children’s toys have been replaced by the singular favorite toy of all ages --- the cell phone! I am always looking to see if anyone pushing a stroller is NOT talking on his/her mobile device. Conventional wisdom, as well as scientific research, has validated that face-to-face interaction and communication with our children contribute to optimal development. Use your precious time with your kids to really “be there” for them. 2. consider the reality and

consequences of implanting two embryos.

The latest fertility treatments have improved so dramatically that many specialists are advising their patients to implant one embryo at a time. If you have time on your side, can exercise the option to freeze eggs, and will be able to manage more than one pregnancy, think carefully about having multiples. Couples struggling with infertility have a variety of options these days that were not available years ago. 3. embrace ambivalence as a key emotional concept. When women confide in me that no one really talks about the difficulties inherent in 56


parenting, it makes me a bit crazy. There is no shame in admitting or talking about such feelings. In fact, it is healthy and appropriate to do so. The capacity to integrate both positive and negative facets of mothering leads to improved coping skills, flexibility, and happiness. 4. resurrect resilience as a primary parenting goal. Too much information floods us with promises and strategies about how to be perfect parents. First of all, there is no such thing, and thank goodness for that. In our attempts to provide everything we feel our children need, we cripple them. When youngsters are deprived of opportunities to struggle on their own, they miss out on experiencing the exhilaration of self-mastery and personal success. 5. trust your intuitive self. At the end of the day, no matter how many people you consult or how many books you read, you must rely on your own judgment and sense of ethics. Many of us have difficulty trusting ourselves. However, if we are comfortable in this realm, we find strength and confidence in our convictions and decisions. 6. curb the mommy wars. I cannot think of a more substantial waste of time, talent,

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and energy than the animosity that flares up from time to time between working moms and SAHMS. This torrential outpouring of competitive wrath is a societal reflection of our obsession with perfection and materialism. This vigorous strife weakens women’s potential, unity, and collective strength. For more information and professional advice on parenting twins, consider learning more about Dr. Friedman’s practice and her current book Emotionally Healthy Twins: A New Philosophy for Parenting Two Unique Children.

Dr. Joan A. Friedman is a psychotherapist who has devoted many years of her professional career to educating twins and their families about twins’ emotional needs. Having worked through her own twinship challenges and parented her fraternal twin sons, she is a definitive expert about twin development. She is the author of Emotionally Healthy Twins: A New Philosophy for Parenting Two Unique Children. Her second book The Same but Different addresses the intricacies of adult twin relationships. It will be available in February 2014.

signs of rsv and when to seek help by kayla dickens


t was nearing midnight when I stripped my 5-week-old twin girls down to their diapers and watched their chests rise and fall. Their movements were slow, their cries were weak, and their appetites were low. I thought, “Something is not right.” Every weekend that passed after the girls were born, we were begged to come to church and show off the girls. Because they were born at 37 weeks and 5 days, we were trying to keep them out of the public. But at their 4-week birthday, we decided it was time for the girls to make their debut. A couple of days later, our two-yearold son started battling a runny nose, a crazy sneeze, and a feisty cough. A few days later, the girls started having the same symptoms. My son was feeling better, but since the girls were born early, we decided to call the doctors. We spoke to a nurse and she asked us to see if their chests were pulling in, or retracting, when they took a breath. “A little.” I thought. Off we went to urgent care, a 30-minute drive on a rainy day. The registered nurse looked the girls over, told us to use a humidifier, and said, “If it were me, I wouldn’t wait for the doctor…it could be up to two hours… and they look okay.” My two-year-old was whining and the nurse did not seem concerned, so we headed home.

I raised my hand to my chest and felt how full my breasts were. It had been several hours since the girls had nursed. I spent many nights feeling guilty about my milk and researching ways to produce more, yet there I was, about to pump for the third time that day. I started watching videos of chest retractions with RSV and made up my mind that I was heading back to urgent care. I wish I would have trusted my instincts because my girls were really sick. After being at urgent care for less than 5 minutes, the ambulance was called to admit the girls to the hospital. It turned out that their oxygen levels were dipping into the 80s (should be 100), they both had pneumonia, and they both tested positive for RSV. The hospital staff was amazing. They let my girls share a crib and gave me a real hospital bed to sleep in instead of a cot. It took 8 days of breathing treatments, suction, antibiotics, IVs, and a lot of love before they were released home.


For those unfamiliar with symptoms or with little ones at home, if you see any of these RSV warning signs, call your doctor right away: • Coughing or wheezing that does not stop, • Fast breathing or gasping for breath • Spread-out nostrils and/or caved-in chest when trying to breathe • A bluish color around the mouth or fingernails • A fever (in infants under 3 months of age, a fever greater than 100.4°F rectal is cause for concern) To get more information visit Kayla is a wife to her best friend and a full-time mother. She has a 2 year old Daredevil and her 11 month old twin girls. She loves to share about her adventures in pursuing Christ, her marriage, living simply, parenting, raising chickens, blogging, being a friend, crafting, and more on her blog, Chasing a Daredevil and Twins. Connect with Kayla on facebook or on her blog.

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kids stuck in a rut?

get ‘em in the game! by talitha a. mcguinness

With school, work, and activities, is your family heading in different directions? Are they fighting more and feeling disconnected? Try introducing a family game night! Kids as young as 2 (younger if you help!) can be part of what can become a great family tradition. More points to you if you don’t “schedule” it, but rather spontaneously announce it to add that element of surprise!

for the younger crowd (2+)

uno moo This is a fabulous game based on the original UNO game, but focuses more on learning colors and animals. Little hands have a hard time holding cards, so instead, they can use the paper hay bales to “hide” their animal game pieces (like sheep and cows) while awaiting their turn. Make the animal noises and you’ll all be laughing by the end! hi-ho cherry-o This is a classic counting game. Each player gets to pick cherries from the tree, spinning the dial to find out how many you pick each turn. The first to fill their bucket wins! memory Another classic game, Memory focuses on strengthening short-term memory and recall 58


skills. This is a game that the whole family can play and enjoy. (Bonus points if you tailor it to the littles with characters like Thomas the Train, Mickey Mouse, Hello Kitty, and so many more!)

for the older crowd (6+)

battleship This is a great game when you’d like to force your children to get along. It’s great for strategy building and focus, as the object of winning is to find and sink each of the other player’s ships. Perfect for when you need a little quiet! korner’d Want a puzzle and game in one? Korner’d is a challenging game dealing with creating patterns. However, the rules are simple...just match the colors on the tile to the pattern on the board. apples to apples The game has a judge who reads a description from the card and then each player tries to convince the judge that their card best matches the description. Excellent for encouraging imagination and teaching persuasive communication skills! headbands This game is a fun, entertaining game for kids as they race to guess the object on the card in their headbands. First to guess correctly wins! Up to 6 players can play.

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car seat


tips for keeping your kids safe!

by the mom squad


ith the winter season in full swing, the MOM Squad reached out to a few of our car seat safety experts for advice on how to keep your kids safe in the car when it’s cold out. From Kids in Danger Program Director, Laura Nikolovska With the extra cold weather many parts of the country are experiencing, parents and caregivers are asking how to buckle up their bundled up children safely. Simply put, there is no safe way to have a child in any type of car seat with a coat on. There is just no way a child can be restrained properly with the extra bulk on their body. Don’t believe us? Have your child wear a heavy coat and try and get them into the car seat as tight as possible. Then take the coat off and see how much slack is in the harness. The best practice to follow for kids of all ages is to come out to warm up the car first, then bring kids out with their coats on. Once they are in the warm car, take their coats off and buckle 60


them in. If kids want to keep their coats on while in the car, follow these guidelines for wearing coats safely in the car: Infants: Can have a blanket tucked around their torso and under their arms to prevent them from pulling it up onto their faces (which could pose a suffocation hazard) Older kids: Can put their coats back on backwards once they are buckled. Remember that children often learn safety habits from their parents, so it’s best to model the behavior you want to see from your children. The extra step to be safe might be a life saver. Even with these precautions, a recalled or expired car seat won’t protect your child. Check for recalls at and check the expiration date of the seat. For children’s products outside the car such as strollers, high chairs or cribs, check at CPSC. gov for recalls. You can also sign up for KID’s monthly email alert, which will include all recalls from

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the previous month. Visit the Kids In Danger website for more information. From The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Parents are encouraged to place the child in the restraint first, align the harness straps securely, and then to cover the child with the blanket or coat afterwards. Nothing should go behind the child, nor between him/her and the straps of the restraint device. Bulky clothing can interfere with proper harness fit. Avoid bulky clothing or padding behind child’s head or back or under buttocks. Bulky jackets can be put on backwards (over child’s arms and torso) after harness is secured. Place blankets over and around child after harness is snug. Place blankets around baby after harness is snug and secure. If the car seat manufacturer provides padding for use with their own product, please follow the instructions carefully. Thick padding placed

behind/under the child or under harnesses can compress in a crash and create slack in the harness. And most importantly, children need to be buckled up in the proper restraint for their age and size in the back seat every time they travel in a vehicle. Never allow a child to ride unrestrained. In 2011, there were 274 passenger vehicle occupant fatalities among children age 4 and younger. Of those 274 fatalities, 30% were totally unrestrained. The agency’s analysis of crash data indicates that child safety seats reduce the risk of fatal injury by 71% for infants, and by 54% for toddlers in passenger cars. NHTSA estimates that 245 lives of children 4 years and younger were saved in 2011 by the use of child restraints. Side impacts account for about 25% of fatalities among 0-3 year old children in child restraints in passenger cars. For further details on children in motor vehicle crashes, please refer to NHTSA’s online resources. NHTSA prioritizes the safety of children and is continually working to improve child passenger safety through numerous efforts— including working with our safety partners in the states, providing expertise and support for child seat-fitting stations, regular educational outreach to parents and caregivers, conducting defect investigations and recalls, and ensuring manufacturers comply with federal motor vehicle safety standard (FMVSS) No. 213 (“Child restraint systems”) and conducting research to develop future standards, including side impact crashes. From the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention on Child Passenger Safety Parents and caregivers can: • Use a seat belt on every trip, no matter how short. This sets a good example. • Make sure children are properly buckled in a seat belt, booster or car seat, whichever is appropriate for their age, height and weight.

seat, in the back seat buckled with the seat’s harness, until they reach the upper weight or height limits of their particular seat. Check the seat’s owner’s manual for weight and height limits. • Age 2 up to at least Age 5 – Forward-facing car seat. When children outgrow their rear-facing seats, they should ride in forward-facing car seats, in the back seat buckled with the seat’s harness, until they reach the upper weight or height limit of their particular seat. Check the seat’s owner’s manual for weight and height limits. • Age 5 up to at least Age 9 – Booster seat. Once children outgrow their forward-facing seats, they should ride in belt positioning booster seats. Remember to keep children in the back seat for the best possible protection. • Once Seat Belts Fit Properly – Seat belts. Children should use booster seats until adult seat belts fit them properly. Seat belts fit properly when the lap belt lays across the upper thighs and the shoulder belt fits across the chest. The recommended height for proper seat belt fit is 57 inches tall. For the best possible protection keep children in the back seat and use lap-and-shoulder belts.



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Recognize a Super MOM today! We are partnering with MAM to recognize 12 of the most outstanding moms of multiples around the the world. To nominate a Mom by telling us why she should be one of our Super MoMs. The chosen Super MoM of the month will receive a $50 SpaFinder Gift Card. Even Super Woman needs a day off every now and then!

Thanks to MAM for partnering with us and congrats to our recent winners!

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Know the Stages • Birth up to Age 2 – Rear-facing car seat. For the best possible protection, infants and children should be kept in a rear-facing car multiplicity

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“After having twins, it was easy for me to get discouraged with my body. I was littered in stretch marks and stretched out skin. I was told countless times my body would probably never be “normal” again. I started and stopped many times, but, I pushed through. I still have goals to meet, but I know I’ve come a long way. And more importantly, YOU can, too!”


after twins by lindsay macdougall


aving my girls was the greatest blessing in the world. They have completely changed my life and my world absolutely revolves around them! I became a stay-at-home mom once they were born and genuinely love every moment of it. While waking up to two beautiful faces every day made me feel like the luckiest person in the world, there was one aspect to having twins that wasn’t so lucky. I tried convincing myself that the loose tummy



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and stretch marks were earned, that they were a reminder of the miracles my body produced, and that I should be proud of each mark. But the reality was, I simply wasn’t proud of them and no amount of convincing myself would change that. After such a difficult pregnancy and months in the NICU, my body was not my biggest concern, but I still couldn’t help but to feel depressed when I looked in the mirror. Eventually, the baby weight came off, but I still didn’t see myself in my reflection. I vividly remember someone telling me “well, you had twins. Your body will never look the same”. In that moment, I felt I had two choices: accept that, or prove them wrong. I decided to prove them wrong. The next week, I tried to finally use that gym membership --you know, the one I had been paying for every month, but hadn’t seen the inside of for over a year! It only took me a few weeks to realize it wasn’t going to work! It was nearly impossible to find the time to get to the gym with two babies, no babysitter, and a husband who worked long hours. By the time he got home, I was exhausted! Still, I tried to go at night once the girls were in bed, but by the time I would get home, my husband would be asleep. After a few weeks of rarely seeing each other, the tension in our marriage was becoming thick. As much as I loved going to the gym prebabies, it just wasn’t working for me now. So, it was time for Plan B. One late night, I had finally seen one of those workout infomercials one too many

times and thought “why not”. I purchased a home fitness program and found I was able to get it done while the girls napped, or after they went to bed. It wasn’t always fun, but I stuck with it and soon enough, I saw the changes in my body that I was longing for. I was seeing abs that I never thought I would see again. But more importantly, I felt the changes mentally. Yes, my clothes fit better and the thought of a bathing suit didn’t terrify me anymore, but, I felt happier --- more confident. Because of this renewed self-confidence, I became a better mother, wife, friend, sister, and daughter. I was finally feeling like me again! In today’s world, we are constantly bombarded with images of way-too-thin models and celebrity moms of newborns who look like they never had a baby one week after giving birth. We often feel pressure to get back in shape so quickly. The truth is, this notion isn’t realistic. For most, spending hours at the gym away from your babies is not realistic. Spending hundreds of dollars on a personal trainer is not realistic. However, it is possible to start the journey to becoming healthy without making huge sacrifices. It’s actually more than possible --- it’s necessary. Being healthy is not about being skinny. It’s about having energy to keep up with two toddlers all day; it’s about having the confidence to jump in the pool with your kids; it’s about being a positive role model for the people you care about most. And most importantly, it’s about giving yourself the good health and multiplicity

happiness you deserve. When I bought those DVDs and began my journey, I knew I couldn’t do it alone. I joined a group of other twin moms who had similar goals and we did it together. We chatted online and helped to motivate each other and hold each other accountable. We vented to each other, and celebrated together. I found so much strength in this group, and by the end of it, I knew I had made friends that would last a lifetime. It was then I knew how important these groups were and I created Toned After Twins. Toned After Twins isn’t just about workouts and six-packs. It’s a community focused on health, fitness, mommy life, nutrition the whole family will love, and a genuine support of one another! Through monthly challenge groups, we are able to reach our goals together and create lasting relationships. Join me, and hundreds of other twin moms, in empowering one another and getting on the road to becoming healthy, happy MoMs --- in whatever size or shape that may be for you! Lindsay MacDougall is a SAHM mom to 3 year old twins, Molly and Madelynn. After having her girls, and beginning her own health and fitness journey, she found a passion for helping other twin moms get on the path to health and fitness themselves! She is the creator of the Toned After Twins community, where she now helps others get on the road to being healthy and reaching their goals. Follow her on facebook or email to join her team!

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Mama said there’d be days like this. Join moms of multiples all around the globe in supporting each other on the good AND the not-so-good days.

photography by firewife photography



the must-have magazine for all moms of multiples