Tag: daddy

A Big Week!

It is Friday afternoon and we are closing out a really busy week for our family! First off, it was Keith’s first week home after a long month in the field, and it’s been wonderful. I can’t believe it’s only been a week because it feels like he was never even gone.

The boys are really loving having Daddy home. As soon as he gets home from work, I no longer exist and they start climbing all over him like little monkeys. They just seem happier. I am thrilled to have Keith back too, off course!

This week, I also started a new work-at-home gig! I am now a senior editor for babygizmo.com. Baby Gizmo is a parenting resource site featuring in-depth reviews of baby and kid products, a baby product price compare engine, travel reviews, kid-friendly recipes, and parenting news and advice. In my new role, I will be writing two to three blog posts a week about a variety of parenting topics. I’ll also be reviewing products and sharing some family recipes. Look for my posts at blog.babygizmo.com!

Don’t worry, I’ll also still be writing about my own family here at doubledutywins.com. I do have some big changes in store for this site, though. I’ll be creating a section on which I will add links to all of my Baby Gizmo posts, as well as to the stories I write for Scholastic News Online, care.com, and more. Who knows—Double Duty may even get a complete makeover. Stay tuned!

Another big thing for us this week? On Thursday, the boys had their first dentist appointments! A couple of months ago, the twins’ pediatrician suggested we take Matt to a pediatric dentist because his incisors hadn’t grown in yet. So, we figured we’d bring both boys in for a checkup. But by the time the appointment came, Matt’s incisors had grown in, and the dentist said both boys have great teeth. Yay!

I wish the actual appointment had been a happier one. The twins were not happy to be at the dentist and to have people poking around in their mouths. I wasn’t surprised that Matt didn’t do well, because he doesn’t even like to have his teeth brushed. But I really thought Nate would do better because he loves when we brush his teeth. Unfortunately, both boys fussed and cried and caused a scene until the appointment was over.

Matt's first dentist visit
Matt didn’t mind brushing the stuffed dog’s teeth, but he refused to let the hygienist brush his teeth!

One thing Keith and I were surprised about? All of the patients were seen in one big, open room. The boys had chairs next to each other, and only a few feet in front of them was a teenager getting his teeth cleaned. Next to them was a little girl waiting to be seen, and there were two other boys getting procedures done across the room.

We’re wondering: Is this how all pediatric dentist offices are? Is it a new trend? Is there some kind of research that shows that kids are less afraid when they can see other kids being worked on, too? Because I think Matt and Nate were actually freaked out by all the people in the room. Their incessant wailing could not have made the other kids feel too good, either.

In any case, I am glad that traumatic experience is over. Matt and Nate got over it quickly, and we have a three-day weekend with Keith to look forward to. I am excited for all of the great stuff we have coming up in the next few months—the new work I’ll be doing, our upcoming move to California, the boys turning two. We’ll be super busy, but we’ll be having a great time! I’m glad to have you all along for the ride!

Nate happy
Dentist appointment over + full belly = happy Nate!

A New Twist on Timeouts

Now that the twins are getting older, they’re starting to voice their opinions and assert their independence more and more. Unfortunately, they don’t always do these things in a proper manner.

Nate, especially, can be quite feisty when he doesn’t get his way. His methods of communicating his displeasure have included throwing food, screaming, and hitting. And he will challenge us. If he doesn’t want to eat his dinner, he won’t simply throw it on the floor. Rather, he will dangle the food over the side of the high chair, “talk” to us to get our attention until we look over at him, then open his hand and let the food drop, all while giving us the “what are you gonna do about it?” look.

We used to simply scold him and take the food away, but that didn’t seem to change his behavior. So, a couple of weeks ago, we decided to begin timeouts. We dusted off the boys’ playpen and put it in the dining room, separate from where we hang out. And poor Nate has already made several trips to the playpen. Luckily, the timeouts have seemed to improve his behavior a bit.

The other day, I heard Keith issue the timeout in an interesting way. After Nate had thrown his food for the third time and proceeded to have a tantrum, Keith said, “That’s it, Nate! Daddy’s going to have to bench you.”

He brought Nate over to the playpen and said, “You need to spend some time in the dugout.”

Once Nate calmed down, Keith went to retrieve him and said, “Are you ready to come out of the dugout? I want you in the lineup.”

I just laughed and laughed when I heard this. But the more I thought about it, the more I understood Keith’s logic. For a baseball player, nothing is worse than being benched. Dubbing a timeout spot the “dugout” might motivate a young baseball fan to behave better to avoid spending time there.

Obviously Nate and Matt don’t understand the concept of being benched yet, but doing timeouts in this way now will prepare them for when they are older and do understand baseball. (And God help me if they don’t want to play baseball. I don’t think Keith would be able to handle it!)

I really do think it’s a clever way to handle timeouts for any kid who likes sports. You just have to tailor it to his or her sport. If a kid likes hockey, the timeout spot can be the “penalty box.” If he or she likes basketball, it can be the “bench.” And when the timeout is over, the child can once again “get in the game.”

Does anyone else have any clever discipline methods? If so, I’d love to hear about them!

Christmas with Kids

I have always loved Christmas, and now that I have children, my holiday cheer has skyrocketed. Keith and I can’t wait to share all of the wonderful things about the holiday season with our boys.

In fact, Christmas is already in full swing in our house. We are already playing holiday tunes—the twins especially love “Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer” and “Frosty the Snowman”—and I’m nearly finished with my Christmas shopping. Last weekend, Keith took advantage of his four-day weekend and hung the lights on our house. (Don’t worry, they’re not lit yet.) And we just can’t wait to pick out and decorate our Christmas tree, put up our indoor decorations, watch all of our favorite holiday cartoons with Matt and Nate, and have all sorts of other holiday fun.

As we are planning all of that, though, we’re realizing just how challenging the holidays can be when you have little ones. For one, we are worried about the fate of our soon-to-be-purchased Christmas tree. Keith and I always get a real tree (you can’t beat that smell) and load it up with ornaments we’ve amassed together through the years—several of them rather delicate. And we plop it right in the middle of our living room.

But, like all kids their age, Matt and Nate are quite curious little fellows. Even with their 9 million toys in every corner of the house, they want to touch what they’re not allowed to touch. They open every drawer and door they’re not supposed to. If I leave my purse within arm’s reach, they dig my wallet out and dump its contents on the floor.

So, what exactly will they do when there’s a big tree full of shiny, sparkling ornaments right in the middle of their house? (I am having flashbacks to when my brother and I were little and we’d manage to knock over our Christmas tree at least twice every holiday season.)

Telling them not to touch the tree will only make them want to touch it more. I suppose we can hang all the non-breakable ornaments on the lowest branches. But even then, the thought of constantly having to re-hang them is exhausting. We are considering putting the tree in a corner of the living room where it would be blocked by the sofa and love seat. But that would cover half the tree and make us unable to put presents under it, which would take away a good deal of the fun.

In an attempt to preempt some of the problems, I bought the boys this toy Christmas tree. It has 24 ornaments they can take on and off and reposition to their hearts’ content. It even has two different tree toppers and a tree skirt. I plan to leave this tree right on our coffee table ottoman in the hopes that it might deter them from touching the real tree.

Another challenge is the fact that we spend Christmas in New York. Traveling with two feisty toddlers in tow is quite a hassle, to say the least, and never a fun thing for us or our fellow passengers. But what we’re even more worried about is how we will handle the whole Santa Claus thing on future Christmases. Right now, the boys are still too young to really know what’s going on. So, we’re having Christmas morning at our house before we leave for New York, and then they’ll open Grandma and Grandpa’s presents on the real Christmas morning at my parents’ house.

But starting next year, when the boys understand the concept of Santa Claus, how will we handle Christmas morning? Christmas mornings are something they will remember forever, like I do. Growing up, nothing beat the excitement of waking up in my own bed on Christmas morning, rushing to wake up my parents, and running downstairs to find all of my presents under the tree. So I would like the boys to sometimes experience Christmas morning in their own home. That’s a challenge as a military family, though, when you typically live far from loved ones and the place you grew up in. Once we get to DC in the summer of 2014, we’re hoping some of our relatives will spend some Christmases at our house.

But what about the years we do travel to New York? Will we just tell the boys that Santa Claus knows they’ll be at Grandma and Grandpa’s and will bring their presents there? If so, how will we then get their presents home? (This year, for instance, Santa is bringing them a train table—not exactly something you can check on a plane or stash in the car.) Or, should we tell them that Santa Claus comes early to visit the kids he knows will be away on Christmas Day? That seems like it will really take away the anticipation and excitement leading up to Christmas morning.

I know these are somewhat frivolous things to worry about when there are so many far worse things happening in the world. However, some of my most cherished memories are the holiday traditions my family has created for me since I was little. They are so important to me. I want Matt and Nate to grow up with their own traditions to pass down to their kids. I want them to one day feel the same warmth I feel when they think about their own childhood Christmases.

I know that many of my military friends with older kids travel for the holidays, so I’d love to hear from you: How do you handle being away from home on Christmas morning? Where and when does Santa Claus leave presents for your children? And to all my mommy and daddy friends: How do you keep your little ones from destroying your Christmas tree?

To get you all in the holiday spirit, here are a couple of outtakes from the boys’ Christmas photo shoot. The photos were taken by Julie Pearson of Julie Pearson Photography. She is wonderful, and we highly recommend her. Enjoy!

Nate, didn’t I teach you any manners???
Matt’s ready to go sledding!
Finally, a decent family shot!

Leaving on a Jet Plane

On Friday, I’m skipping town for four days … sans twins. My cousin Kim and I are heading to Orlando to check out the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando. We’ll also get in some Disney time while we are there—and I’m sure some drinking time, too. We are super excited for this trip, which we had booked for last October but had to cancel because Keith ended up getting shot the weekend before.

Ironically, the only other time I’ve been away from the boys overnight is that same weekend last October when Kim and I were supposed to be in Florida. Instead, I spent two nights with Keith at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. I had taken the boys to see him the week earlier, so this was the first time we’d had any alone time since he’d deployed nearly four months earlier. We ordered in Italian food and ate it at his bedside with tubes coming out of his leg. And it actually felt like we were on a date! We missed the boys, of course, who were back in Brooklyn with my parents and Aunt Terry. But it was different then. Matt and Nate were only four months old, and I’m sure they barely noticed I was gone.

This time is going to be a bit tougher. The boys will definitely feel my absence, and I’m sure they will wonder where the heck Mommy is and when she is coming home. They will be in good hands, though. Their wonderful babysitter, Traci, is going to be with them all day on Friday and Monday while Keith is at work. And, our good friend Chi (Uncle Chi to the boys) is flying out for the weekend to help Keith on Saturday and Sunday. They have plans to take the boys to Gymboree and for a long hike. I told Keith that photos of these shenanigans are absolutely necessary.

So, I’m not worried about the boys’ safety or well-being. I just don’t want them to be freaked out about my absence and afraid that I am not coming home. And, let’s be honest—I am going to miss them something fierce. They are literally like appendages these days, following me around and climbing up my leg and giving me hugs. Being away from them will feel like a part of me is missing.

But this trip will allow me to bring back the other part of me that rarely makes an appearance these days—the carefree, laid-back Jen who can eat a meal without having to stop every two seconds to cut up food, shower without having two little faces plastered to the shower door, and have conversations about something other than the size of someone’s poop or the color of someone’s snot. It will be a much-needed break from all the chaos. And, I am so looking forward to the girl time with Kim. It’s been over a year since she and I have spent time together without the babies to chat about work and boys and life.

Heck, I am even excited for the solo plane ride. Traveling with one carry-on bag will be a breeze when I’m used to toting three large suitcases, two car seats, a double stroller, a diaper bag, and another bag stuffed with toys and board books. On the plane, I can actually listen to my iPod (John Legend and Lady Gaga, not Raffi), read magazines (rather than the boys’ favorite book, I Know My Grandma Loves Me, 8 million times), or SLEEP. (Now there’s a novel concept.) Maybe I’ll even order a glass of wine. The possibilities are endless!

This trip will be good for the Keith and the boys, too. Matt and Nate need to spend some time away from Mom, and the quality guys’ time they get with Daddy and Uncle Chi will be priceless. And when the boys are in bed, Keith and Chi can watch baseball and drink beer all night long guilt-free. It’s a win-win for everyone! I’ll be sure to check back in after my trip!

For comparison’s sake, here is a photo of us in front of Sleeping Beauty’s castle at Disneyland on July 5. I will post a similar photo of me and Kim in front of Cinderella’s castle during this upcoming trip. I suspect I’ll look a bit less tired!

The Home Stretch

Ever since our scare a few weeks ago, both of my doctors have been monitoring the twins closely. I now go for a weekly fetal non stress test (NST), which measures the babies’ movements and heart rates for about 20 minutes using three monitors strapped to my belly. The pressure on my abdomen seems to bug Matt and Nate, because they start moving like crazy as soon the monitors are strapped on, thus knocking them all over the place and making the test unnecessarily difficult. But it sure is fun to watch!

I also go for a weekly biophysical profile (BPP), which involves a lengthy ultrasound that measures the babies’ breathing, movement, muscle tone, and heart rate, as well as my amniotic fluid. My latest BPP was on Monday, May 23. I was 32 weeks and 1 day into the pregnancy.

Matt, our little guy, now weighs 3 pounds, 8 ounces! It seems he is more eager to enter the world than his brother. His head is so far down in my pelvis that the ultrasound technician could not get an accurate measurement. She had to call in the perinatologist, who proceeded to manhandle my belly and slowly guide the baby up higher so she could do her thing. (Pregnant women, don’t try this at home—you can rupture your amniotic sac if you don’t do it properly!) We also could not get a good picture of Matt’s face, since he is facing backward.

Nate, our big boy, is tipping the scales at 4 pounds, 3 ounces! He has settled in behind and above his brother, and not quite head down—which means he will definitely be born second. It also means I will almost certainly get a C-section, since Matt won’t be able to make enough room for him to make his entrance. But, we were able to get a 3D scan of his face. The only problem was, he decided to play Peek-A-Boo and hide behind his little hand. I guess he doesn’t want to reveal himself until he makes his grand entrance.

Peek-A-Boo!

The doctor said that both boys have been growing well and their biophysicals look good. He is not as concerned about Matt’s smaller stomach because it has grown substantially over the past few weeks.

However, Matt’s breathing rate is slightly fast. While the doctor is not too concerned yet, he does want to check it again in two weeks. The appointment will be on June 8. If the breathing rate is still high enough to cause alarm, I will be hospitalized and given steroid injections to stimulate growth of the boys’ lungs … and then the twins will be delivered! If the breathing is slower, they will likely wait another two weeks before delivering the babies.

So, in two weeks’ time, Keith and I may be a mommy and daddy! While that would mean he’ll deploy a bit sooner than we’d hoped, it is overshadowed by the sheer joy and excitement we feel about welcoming our little boys into the world. We are beyond excited to meet them and to become a family … so excited, in fact, that in the two days since the BPP we got the car seats inspected (and learned that Keith installed them like a champ), threw the last few necessities into our hospital bags, and put the final touches on the nursery. Stay tuned for photos!

Add Some Music to Your Day

According to What to Expect When You’re Expecting, our twins can now hear and respond to noises and music. Experts say it’s good to play music for babies in utero because it helps them to develop their musical sensibilities. So if you want your baby to appreciate Beethoven and Bach when he grows up, play it for him while he’s in your belly.

Well, Keith and I have a different idea of the music we want our twins to love. So yesterday, we bought huge headphones, waited until the boys seemed calm, then placed the headphones up to my belly and hit “play” on Keith’s iPod. Naturally, this is the album we played for the boys:

Cue feel-good, beachy, genius California music! By the second song, Matt and Nate were making their daddy proud. We started feeling light kicks on both sides of my tummy, and before we knew it, there were full-on acrobatics taking place. It’s as if they were saying, “Yeah, Dad, play us more of that!” Keith didn’t even need to put his hand on my belly because we could see the babies flipping around in there. It was amazing!

As the album—one of our all-time favorites—played, Keith and I realized just how kid-friendly Brian Wilson and Beach Boys songs are. And we decided, who needs kids’ music when there are so many catchy, upbeat grown-up albums that little ones can also enjoy? Tonight, we are going to play the boys Brian’s latest masterpiece, Brian Wilson Reimagines Gershwin. We’re hoping the boys will love it enough that we won’t need to play gag-inducing Barney tunes—or whatever it is the kids listen to these days—on car rides. Instead, we can pop in some Brian when we need them to calm down, and we can all sing along and enjoy it. I also plan to play a lot of Brian Wilson—Keith’s favorite artist—for the twins while he is deployed so that they can feel closer to their daddy.

Parents: Did you play music for your babies while pregnant? And, did they seem to enjoy that same music after they were born?

Musically-inclined friends: Can you recommend any other kid-friendly adult albums we can play for the boys?