Double Dragons- A Reflection on Rockson & Gage’s First Year

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So, you’re a parent of multiples, eh? Why, yes. Yes I am. I can’t believe my Baby Dragons are one year old. They aren’t babies anymore. This past year wrote a whole new chapter in my journey of life, and really was the beginning of discovering a whole new amazing path that our family will walk through. We have gone from a family of just Josh and me to a family of five in less than two years. It’s still unbelievable to me. I don’t know what concept is harder to grasp- simply how fast time flies, or how monumental it is to become a parent.

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This past year was nothing short of amazing. In every way. And before you stressed out parents out there get all guarded and are ready to jump on me because you think I’m going to say how easy it was for me, take a deep breath and calm the eff down (in the nicest way possible, of course). It’s hard. Amazing doesn’t always mean easy. Amazing, in most cases, results from a series of difficult, life-changing events. Amazing is many, many sleepless nights of not one, but two babies crying. Two babies needing to eat, two babies needing diapers changed. Two babies just needing… you! As a parent, you are learning them. You’re learning what their cries mean. You’re learning their temperament. You’re learning what they need. You’re learning to be a parent to newborns all over again. And in the background, you’re searching the internet and reading all the articles you can to stay up to date on everything possible that can keep your children safe, healthy, comfortable, and happy. You’re scouring each ingredient on baby shampoo bottles to make sure they don’t have cancer causing agents. You’re searching for ways to sanitize your entire house using household, natural ingredients. You’re searching webmd.com to see if that little sniffle your little one just had is the start of some serious life-long medical condition. Haha. Yes, really. You are. You’re searching for all the right answers on how to be the perfect parent.

The reality is, there is no “perfect.” We all know that. There’s no point in even hashing out all of that. We just have to dig deep within ourselves to be the best we can be. The best US that we can be. Not how you compare to the mom next door, or the “perfect” mom in an online forum. How you compare to YOU, and pulling out that honesty card that makes you really consider “Am I REALLY doing the best I can?” “What can I do better?” and most importantly “How can I achieve that?”

This past year has taught me so much. I’ve learned that worrying never goes away. I’ve learned that messy floors and dirty hair don’t matter. I’ve had the opportunity to stay home with my kids and really watch them grow. I’ve gotten to see all their firsts. I’ve had the opportunity to be the number one role model/teacher in their learning and development. I am so grateful for that.

I’ve also watched my family grow as a whole. I’ve watched as Josh and my relationship has grown even stronger. I’ve watched Aeriella blossom into such a wonderful little girl and caring and sweet big sister. I’ve watched her try to take on the “teacher” role in showing them things and trying to teach them the way she sees me doing. I’ve watched the boys go from tiny little munchkins to dexterous, active boys. I’ve watched them examine things and play with them as they figure them out. I’ve watched closely to see those “ah-ha!” moments where their face lights up as they figure something out. I’ve watched their personalities become. I’ve watched them as they started to really interact with each other and with Aeriella. I’ve watched them laugh. And smile. And laugh. And smile.

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So, how bad was it? That’s one of the first things expecting parents of multiples ask me. And my response is always “It’s not nearly as hard as everyone told me it would be.” And that’s my honest answer. Sure, it wasn’t easy. Do you really expect it to be? But every step of the way has been nothing short of amazing. I think success in any situation is really derived from your attitude towards the situation. You’re tired, you’re cranky. You haven’t showered in days and your full coffee cup is now cold. You have spit up all over you and now someone is blowing the horn outside and woke up your finally sleeping baby. Of course you’re angry! It’s okay. Take a deep breath, calm yourself down as you walk upstairs to get your baby, and greet your baby with open arms and a warm smile. Cuddle them and make them feel secure. Besides, they don’t know any better. And they won’t always just need you. Embrace it as best as you can. Make the best of the situation. They really do feed off your energy. I truly believe that. In order to control the situation, you must first control yourself. And yes, I learned that from my husband. He is a smart, smart man. 🙂

With one year behind me, I can only look back and honestly say that I wouldn’t change it for the world. Not one thing. Rockson and Gage are such happy, sweet, beautiful and “easy” little boys. They are always smiling and laughing. They’re great eaters and will eat anything you put in front of them. If I would have to pick a favorite food for them, I would say bananas. They love responding to daddy’s “calling” aka his whistle he has for them. When they hear it, they get all excited, sound like they’re panting as they giggle and get to him as fast as they can. It’s the cutest thing, ever!

Rockson is my little “Lover Boy.” He absolutely loves to cuddle and give kisses. He is also a thinker. He examines things for a long time, and sits patiently until he figures out how it works. He used to be my more “needy” boy until he became mobile. That newfound freedom brought along a lot of independence, and he loves to just play on his own or with Gage and Aeriella.

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Gage is my little “Wild Child.” He’s reckless and unpredictable. He’s a go-getter and has no time to sit and examine things. He picks it up and goes right for it. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. He has the most incredible laugh I have ever heard. I just love all the little quirky things he does, like bounce on his knees all through the house. He is also very independent, and loves to explore on his own.

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They LOVE being together. They learned from an early age that two minds work better than one. They are constantly together, trying to figure things out. I love watching their minds work together. I love how Gage will just grab something out of Rockson’s hand and try to “get the job done” quicker. I love how Rockson will sit and wait patiently while Gage rummages through things as fast as he can, and when Gage gets sick of figuring it out, Rockson resumes his “project.” It’s amazing, it truly is.

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Twins. Ah, I still can’t believe they’re mine! I must say, I am so excited for this next year. I love how they are starting to communicate more. I can’t wait until all three are talking and communicating amongst each other. I can’t wait until all three are up in the middle of the night and sneak down on their own to jump in bed with Josh and me. I love these moments. I love being a mom. I love being a mom of multiples.

Oh, and did I mention… What a great year it was to have twins… The Year of the Dragon. Pretty cool. They were born in April, which is also Josh’s birthday month, and the “diamond” birthstone (symbolic to our family & business), and they were born on the 16th, which is Josh’s lucky number. Even without all that superstitious stuff, I’d say we’re pretty lucky, indeed.

Happy First Year, Rockson and Gage! I am so happy and blessed to be your mom!

Adding Color & Fun to Your Kids Noodles

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A fellow twin mom friend of mine added some color to her twins noodles. I figured; why not give it a try! It works with pretty much any noodle, I would imagine. Just add food coloring to your water as you boil and voila. Nothing wrong with adding a little bit of color to make their food more fun!

I tossed the noodles in olive oil and topped with shredded mozzarella cheese. They loved it, as you can see!

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Bekki (the mom who shared this with me) has a great blog that you should definitely check out. Especially if you love getting messy with your kids. She’s got some great ideas, such as edible finger paint, as well as pictures from an amazing first birthday bash she threw for her girls using the Thing 1 & Thing 2 theme.

I love hearing and seeing new ways to make food fun for kids. Please share your ideas!

Tonight, I’m trying a bedtime snack of homemade strawberry/greek yogurt popsicles dipped in chocolate. I’m attempting to make that chocolate “magic shell” paleo, so we’ll see if it works. If not, it will just be a big, sloppy, yummy mess. As long as I’ve got the boys cleaned up and in bed before Aerie’s and my weekly ‘Dance Moms’ date, we’re good. I guess I’ll start snack time early! Stay tuned!

Protein-Packed Pancakes

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These are super easy. Start by adding the following ingredients to your blender:
1 cup dry oats
6 egg whites
2 tsp coconut sugar
1/2 cup cottage cheese
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp cinnamon

Blend it up until smooth. Use coconut oil to grease your pan and start making your pancakes!! Add coconut oil as needed between batches. Keep a close eye on them, especially if you are making smaller pancakes, you will only need to cook a minute or so on each side.

Side note: you may also use 1 cup on cottage cheese and skip the Greek Yogurt all together. I use the Greek yogurt for two reasons; the Greek yogurt has almost double the protein of cottage cheese, and also I can only find 4% milk fat cottage cheese, and I like to use full fat dairy for the kids. Stoneyfield makes a great Organic Plain Greek Yogurt that uses whole milk.
You can also substitute the coconut sugar with regular sugar, raw sugar, or a sugar substitute if you wish.

I topped these with berries for Aerie and bananas for my boys. Put your leftovers in a ziplock, refrigerate, and save for later. I also sometimes freeze them and use them as “teething biscuits” for the boys.

Now start up your blender, get that coconut oil heated, and ENJOY!!

Creativity, Observation, and Discovery- Motor Skills at it’s Finest

It’s been absolutely beautiful outside! I decided to take today’s messy painting exploration outside. The boys had a blast out in the sun, and this activity was so much fun for them. Not your average painting, but adding other aspects to it to really work those motor skills.

What you will need: Washable, nontoxic paint, construction paper, an old, round canister with a lid (I used an old oatmeal can that I’ve had forever and use for a lot of different activities), balls, and something to put the paint in (I used an old muffin tin).

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The idea of this activity is to put the construction paper inside the canister so it sort of “lines” it, dip the balls in paint, and put them in the canister, put the lid on, and shake it up. Before I broke out the paint, I let the boys just play with the canister. They love to take the lid off and try to put it back on. Then, I added the balls and let them just put the balls in and take them out. Then, I added the fun part. PAINT! I showed them how to dip the balls in paint first, then put them in the canister. They picked it up quickly, and of course wanted to eat the paint quite a few times. They loved taking turns putting the balls in, shaking it up, and drumming on the canister. They are little musicians.

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I considered having two canisters for them to each have one, but I really wanted them to work together and learn to share. They are at the age where sometimes they grab each others toys and get upset. I try to encourage them to play together nicely, and I was happy to see them actually doing it with this activity. Plus, I just LOVE to see their teamwork. I think they really do learn things from simply watching each other.

They were so into this activity that I couldn’t even get them to look at me to take a picture. Oh well, it was so much fun. We played outside doing this for about an hour.
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Here’s our finished product! Shelby, a fellow twin mom and friend, shared a picture of how she put some of her little one’s artwork in frames and will switch them out as they make new artwork. I’ve done canvases, but I think I’m going to pick up some frames and do the same. Besides, we need more fun artwork in our house. Thanks for the tip, Shelby!
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Homemade Popsicles- A healthy, warm-weather treat.

It’s that time of year again! The sun is out, the weather is warm, and we spend as much time outside as we can. Aerie and I spent some time shopping together yesterday, and we made a quick trip to the Dollar Store so I could buy some cheap supplies for sensory bins. While we were in there, we found some popsicle molds. I already have some at home, but she was all excited, so I figured why not get some more. Plus, the ones at the Dollar Store were larger sizes than the ones I currently have, and they sit up nicely so I knew Aerie could help me make them with me a little better.

If you’re a mom and you haven’t done homemade popsicles yet, you should totally do it! It’s seriously the healthiest, easiest snack you can make and your kid(s) will surely eat whatever you put in them. That’s right… even GREEN VEGGIES. Ha. You win!

I have a few of my favorite combinations that I will list below, but really… throw whatever you want in the blender, blend it up, pour in the molds and freeze. Voila.

The molds I bought from the Dollar Store are in the picture below. I also have (and love) these molds made by Annabel Karmel. They are perfect for little hands, and the twins love them. They can grip them well and it’s just the right size that they can eat before it melts all over the place. I have used mine so many times that the little pegs that connect all 4 popsicles together have cracked, but they still work just fine. It just makes it harder to sit them up just right in the freezer.

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For today’s popsicles, I let Aerie choose whatever she wanted out of the fridge. She picked kale, strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, and greek yogurt. I washed everything and laid it out, and she put everything into the blender and pushed the button. She loves to help in the kitchen. Then I poured the mix into the molds and she put the “lids” on. It was fun to do together.

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It’s a big misconception that you have to use juice in popsicles. YOU DON’T! Unless you want to, that is. But if you need to “water down” your mix, add milk. Whole milk, coconut milk, almond milk, whatever! If you use fresh fruits/veggies, you most likely won’t even need to thin it out, or if you do, you will just need a little bit. I add the greek yogurt or cottage cheese in the kids popsicles just to add a little bit of protein to it. It’s completely not necessary, and you can skip that all together. Also, as you play around with making them, you will find some things don’t stick together as well when they’re frozen. Banana’s for example. If I make just a banana popsicle, I find that it usually breaks off in the middle when I pull the top off. Not always, but the majority of the time. Berries are great to make solo, and freeze wonderfully. You’ll get the hang of what works and what doesn’t.

Here are some combos that my family loves. I am also working on a “secret” recipe to make something similar to these sprite/gummy bear popsicles that I saw on Pinterest, just because they look fun. Of course, mine will be made with all natural ingredients. No candy, no soda. Duh. I mean, come on. A sprite and gummy bear popsicle looks amazing and is super creative, but can we say tooth decay overload?!! Not to mention all the processed, carb/sugar loaded negative effects on your body. Not saying it’s terrible to have treats here and there, but if you can make a beneficial treat just as amazing, why not get creative with it? If all goes well, I’ll share!

Berries & Cream-
½ cup Fresh Raspberries
½ cup Fresh Blueberries
¼ cup cottage cheese
Almond milk as needed

Peaches and Cream-
4 ripe peaches
1/3 cup full fat greek yogurt (plain)
Almond milk as needed

Tropical Blend (our favorite!)-
1 cup fresh pineapple
1-2 bananas
2 tablespoons shredded unsweetened coconut
Almond milk as needed

Peaches and Banana-
This combination is just amazing.
4 ripe peaches
2 bananas
¼ cup full fat greek yogurt (plain)
Almond milk as needed

Berry Blend-
2 cups Fresh Mixed Berries (any combo of strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries)
Handful of spinach or kale
Almond milk as needed

Just a few more side notes- Adding yogurt or cottage cheese will give your popsicles a thicker, richer taste. If you want a light, sweeter treat, you can skip it. Also, throw those veggies in! Kale and fresh spinach work wonderfully in smoothies. If you are trying to hide the veggies from your kids, the berry smoothies work best with hiding the green color. The pineapple and peach type smoothies will not hide it too well.
Also, you can adjust the above recipes depending on how many popsicles you are making.

You can get as creative as you want. Add layers to make them look prettier. Or just keep it simple. It’s up to you! And if you have leftovers, enjoy yourself a little smoothie. It’s all the same.
Happy Spring. Enjoy the sunshine!

Using Sign Language to Enhance Fine Motor Skill Development

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I have been struggling with programming more lesson plans for Aerie. I was trying to find some age appropriate learning exercises for her that would build on things she already knows. We have been working on number patterning and counting a lot lately, and I found that she was having some difficulty in forming different numbers with her fingers. She sometimes uses her inactive hand to help push her fingers down on the hand she is using. I have to remember that she is only two years old, so I don’t think this is a developmental delay or anything, but of course it got me to thinking how I can help her improve.

To work on improving this area, I’m turning to Sign Language. What better way to work on her fine motor skill development than to start to learn a whole new language. I started looking online for basic signs, and educated myself with the “first 100 words,” then went on to teaching her a few. She is really eager to learn, and she’s really working hard to get the motions down. After working on these for a few days now, I already see an improvement in her using her inactive hand less to help form the words with her active hand. It’s great to see her really trying to get the signs just right. I think this will be great practice with hand formations, and I feel like it’s the perfect fit to also learn something new. Plus, now I have a whole new curriculum to play with for lesson planning instead of being up in the air with what I’m doing.

We started with colors and other basics like family members. I’m really excited to teach her to sign the alphabet, I think she’ll have a lot of fun with that. I just didn’t want to jump into it too quickly with starting with the alphabet. I’m also excited to get into the animals, too.

The internet is a wonderful thing. You can find many free resources. If you’re interested, this is the site I used to learn Basic ASL: First 100 Words. The site is really basic, but they give great explanations on how to move your hands to form the words. American Sign Language also has a great DVD for kids.

Princess Stool

Aerie’s princess stool took its final stand on Friday. She was so upset. She carries that thing around with her everywhere. It’s like her little partner-in-crime, as it gives her a boost to get into almost anything.

Two of the legs and most of the base that holds them in place broke off. She was crying hysterically and we thought she hurt herself pretty bad by falling off it. She was just more worried about the stool, so when I picked her up to make sure she was okay, all she did was sob and say “My Princess Stool….” Poor little girl! Anyway, Josh told her he would take it to the Academy the next morning and fix it.

On Saturday morning, Josh left early to go teach classes. When Aerie woke up, the first thing she said was “Daddy’s at the dojo, he’s fixing my princess stool. I’m so excited for Daddy to get home.” Later that afternoon, I was taking some trash out to the garage and I saw her poor stool in the garbage can. Needless to say, as soon as Josh got home, Aerie comes running and says “Yay, Daddy’s home! Did you fix my princess stool?” Josh promised her we would go shopping after our family afternoon of Easter Egg hunting and farm visiting.

We had a fantastic afternoon out and about, and after we left the farm, all three kids fell asleep in the car on our drive home. Next thing we know, Aerie yells “Daddy, there’s the store. We’re gonna go get a new princess stool.” That girl doesn’t miss a thing. So we hurried off the exit and into Target we went.

Of course they didn’t have a specific Princess stool, but we found a basic pink one and bought foam letters that she painted and put onto her stool.

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In all honesty, it’s best that her other one broke. It was by no means made for her to be standing on. It was wooden and slid all over the place. It was just the seat that went with her art desk. This new one is an actually step-stool. It’s much sturdier on the ground. She even tested it out by doing countless box jumps on it. She is complete with her new best friend and back to getting into everything. Oh, the adventures of a toddler.

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