Friday, February 28, 2014

3 Hours Outside?

Welcome to my second "Old-Fashioned Friday!"  (Click here for my first Old-Fashioned Friday post.)  My dad might cringe when he reads that today's tidbit came from a book he read in his childhood:  "The Junior Instructor."  I occasionally like looking through antique shops for interesting old books, and bought Book 1 and 2.  When I showed it to my dad, he said he recalled reading these at school.

Cover of The Junior Instructor Book 2

These books began in 1916, but my volumes were published in 1959.  It's like an encyclopedia, or general reference book, for children, with lots of pictures, rhymes, and small paragraphs on anything from birds to the circus.

One of the sections, titled "Healthy Children," includes a "letter," written as though from a child to the mother.  Read it and see if what caught my attention the most, sticks out to you as well:

"Dear Mother,

 I need outdoor exercise to stay healthy.  All small children should play outdoors at least three hours every day, in good weather.  I need the right equipment to help me exercise my large muscles.  The small muscles of my hands and fingers are not yet well developed.  I need a fence or a jungle gym to climb on, and bars to hang on  I like to run and skip and dance.  I need to slide on a slide and swing on a swing and ride a tricycle.  After I am five years old, I will need roller skates and a jump rope."  

Page with Letter to Mother

So, what stood out to you?  For me it was the 3 hours outside every day!  Now that I think about it, that sounds ideal for my active little guys.  Decades ago, children did spend more time outside, and it probably did them good.  But we're lucky if we manage just 1 hour a day.  I let household chores, errands, laziness, and other things get the better of me, rather than making sure we're in the yard or going to a park as often as possible.  And as I wrote in my post on how much time should children spend outside, modern specialists only suggest a little over an hour for kids of about 2 years old.  But, inspired by this little "Letter to Mother" that I found, we've been making more of an effort to get outside.  The other day it was just 30 degrees outside (Fahrenheit), but we bundled up and spent an hour at the park.  It sure paid off at nap time!  

On a warmer day:  Chalk, cardboard boxes, and toy cars... all enjoyable outside, too! 

Time outside does wonders for kids' gross and fine motor skills, as that letter touched upon.  Get outside, if possible, and... 

Happy Friday!

Friday, February 21, 2014

Old-Fashioned Fridays: "Food and Family Living"

I've decided to start a new, little portion of my blog, that isn't necessarily devoted to all things twin.  It's just for my own fun, and maybe yours!  I'll call it "Old Fashioned Fridays," in which I write about baby and child care, vintage-style.

Hughina McKay, my 3x great aunt.

Recently, I learned that my great-great-great aunt became a professor of Home Economics at Ohio State University.  (Oops, sorry sports fans in the Pack Go!)  Hughina McKay (known as Aunt Eny to the family) was born in 1880 in Ontario.  The family ended up moving to the States, she never married, and eventually wrote several textbooks in her field.  One such book is called "Food and Family Living," published in 1942.  Believe it or not, there are 4 left on Amazon!

What kind advice might there be for feeding your kids in 1942?

There's an entire chapter on teaching kids good eating habits.  The advice seems good to me:

"A happy mealtime.  Let the child's associations with food be pleasant.  Do not pay too much attention to his eating.  Children need to learn social customs.  The best way of teaching good manners is by example.  Good conversation in which the child is free to join if he has anything to contribute adds zest to even the plainest food and is a fine tradition to establish for mealtimes."  

"Children enjoy helping themselves at meal time if given the opportunity."

The book also suggested planning one meal for the whole family, and you just adjust how much and what is given to each family member based on age and needs.  I admit I don't always do this, and often feed the twins simple foods, and then my husband and I eat something entirely different.  But getting your child to eat what you eat is a good way to introduce them to new flavors.

"Small servings of the family dinner may be given to the two-year-old."

For babies, unsurprising ideas:
For infants under a year old, "Food and Family Living" suggest breast milk, artificial milk if necessary, well-cooked cereal, and soft, cooked and strained fruits and vegetables for later in a baby's first year.

For babies, surprising/old-fashioned ideas:
1/4 teaspoon of egg yolk to a 5 month old (Raw?  Yikes!), spoonful of orange or tomato juice (for Vitamin C, they say), and cod-liver oil (yum).

For toddlers, the book groups children 18 months to 5 years old into one category called "Preschool Children."  It suggests they basically eat what adults eat, but in smaller portions and omitting things that are too difficult to chew.

They made a point of encouraging liver, which the book says "has been shown to stimulate the appetite."  I wonder...

Happy Friday!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Finger Food Ideas


There are TONS of websites and books out there for baby food recipes.  Two good websites that I liked for both babies and toddlers were Weelicious and Wholesome Baby Food.  But here is a list of things I personally used to slowly introducing finger foods to our babies:
  • Diced tofu
  • Soft cheeses
  • Cereal puffs and yogurt melts (many brands sell variants of these)
  • Cheerios or other o-shaped cereal
  • Well-cooked and soft vegetables, such as carrots or chunks of potatoes or sweet potatoes
  • Diced pears or other soft vegetables


Here's a list of foods that are easy for your kids to eat, not too messy (if you care about that), and for when they're not eating whatever YOU'RE eating that's been cut-up.
  • Cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered
  • Grapes, halved or quartered
  • Cheese cubes
  • Small cubes of cooked chicken
  • Quesadillas with beans, cheese, and anything else, cut into bite-sized pieces with a pizza cutter
  • Quaker Oats Oatmeal Squares cereal
  • Chex cereal
  • Spiral, bowtie, macaroni, or penne pasta (easier to pick up or stab with a fork than spaghetti)
  • Steamed green beans and asparagus (once they learn how to bite off a piece, or you could cut them up)
  • Steamed broccoli florets
  • Steamed carrots, cut into rounds (I guess we steam a lot of things in our house...)
  • Waffles or pancakes (again, teach them how to take bites, or break them into pieces at first)
  •   Pouches of pureed fruits and vegetables (various brands offer these, and can be used once your kids know how to squeeze the pouch.)
  • And you know those packages of mixed veggies in the freezer section?  The pieces are small enough to eat (so small, in fact, that they're a great fine-motor exercise just to pick up and eat!) and sweet.  Here's a video of one of my sons eating them with gusto:  

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Play in the Garage

In the fall, my husband and I took our twin boys to a playdate with a playgroup I was assigned to through my local mother of multiples club (another perk of joining a chapter near you!).  Since it was autumn, they had everything set up for pumpkin their garage.  Brilliant!  There were tarps laid out, held down by mini hay bales (so cute), and paint, paper plates, brushes, stickers, and tons of mini pumpkins.  There were also a few ride-on toys for when attention spans waned.  This was a great example of using your garage for play, especially for projects that might get messy and hard to clean up if you did them elsewhere.

We normally keep our cars in the garage, so there isn't quite as much room, but inspired by my new friend, I pulled the cars out for one morning and parked them in the driveway.  I removed hazards, like our ladder, and stuck them in the laundry room temporarily, and put several ride-on toys and bikes in the garage.  This was in preparation for another set of twin boys who would be visiting us for the morning.  Running around in an enclosed space with trikes seemed perfect for four 2-year-old boys!  Unfortunately, we never even ended up out there because time flew by, but I think it might have worked out well.  

Some of you might not have a garage, and for some of you it may be either too hot or too cold to really let your kids play in it.  I have seen some people set up a gated play area in the garage and open the garage door to keep air circulating on a hot day, and let their children play in the shade of the garage.  For others the garage might be a fun novelty on a rainy day.  (All of this is assuming you can or are willing to move your cars outside.)  In any case, if you do have a useable garage, using it for play can be a great way to extend the "square footage for play" in your home!

Ideas for Garage Play:
  • Use it as a space to ride trikes, bikes, and other ride-on toys.
  • Draw with chalk on the floor and either leave it or let the kids hose it off.
  • Bring out toy cars and/or trains and tracks and have at it!
  • Set up a play "house" with cardboard boxes and duct tape.
  • Kick a soccer or kickball around.
  • For younger toddlers, set up foam tiles and a gate, throw in some toys, and let them play while getting fresh air.
  • Keep a play kitchen in the garage.  (My aunt currently has my old play kitchen in the family lake house garage, and my boys even liked tinkering at it while we played in and around the garage and driveway this summer!)

For some more inspiration, here's a link to my Pinterest board:  Play In The Garage.  

Happy playing!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

"Do The Next Thing"

My parents lived with us for two and a half months after the twins were born. I was spoiled! They did 99% of the laundry, grocery shopping, and cooked a lot of dinners for us. They sometimes fixed me lunch, and generally helped keep our apartment clean. All that, in ADDITION to helping with the boys: giving bottles or helping to bring them in to be nursed in my room, burping, changing, dressing, holding and taking lots of pictures!

Considering my husband and I were still exhausted, I have no clue how people cope with infant twins (or more!) with no outside help.

The day my parents left, my husband drove them to the airport and I was left alone with my children for real, for the first time. I cried. I didn't know how I would do it.

Especially in moments like this, I didn't know how I would do it...

Then I remembered a favorite saying of author and speaker Elisabeth Elliot "Do the next thing."  Elisabeth Elliot had one husband killed during their work as missionaries, she was then widowed and supporting herself and a small daughter, and her second husband died of cancer.  So she knew something about hardship.

Now my life was by no means as hard as hers, but raising more than one baby at a time can be challenging.  For me, in the moment of fear when my parents left, the "next thing" meant rinsing out some bottles, and playing with my babies on a blanket on the floor. Afterwards the "next thing" was nap time and I swaddled them, laid them in their cribs, and went back to the kitchen to continue catching up on dishes.  Eventually I may have caught a few minutes of sleep myself before they woke up for the next feeding and we started the whole cycle over again.  For you the "next thing" might be helping your triplets to clean up their play dough.  Or the next thing might be giving your twins a bath.  Don't worry about the 87 next things after that, just focus on one productive task at a time.  

"Do the next thing" became my own mantra for awhile, and I revisit it in moments when I'm stressed out or overwhelmed.  Here is the poem, author unknown, that inspired Elisabeth to often speak about that particular quote.  

From an old English parsonage, down by the sea
There came in the twilight a message to me;
Its quaint Saxon legend, deeply engraven,
Hath, as it seems to me, teaching from Heaven.
And on through the hours the quiet words ring
Like a low inspiration–”DO THE NEXT THING.”

Many a question, many of fear,
Many a doubt, hath its quieting here.
Moment by moment, let down from Heaven,
Time, opportunity, guidance, are given.
Fear not tomorrows, Child of the King,
Trust them with Jesus, “DO THE NEXT THING.”

Do it immediately; do it with prayer;
Do it reliantly, casting all care;
Do it with reverence, tracing His Hand
Who placed it before thee with earnest command.
Stayed on Omnipotence, safe ‘neath His wing,
Leave all resultings, “DO THE NEXT THING.”

Looking to Jesus, ever serener,
(Working or suffering) be thy demeanor,
In His dear presence, the rest of His calm,
The light of His countenance be thy psalm,
Strong in His faithfulness, praise and sing,
Then, as He beckons thee, “DO THE NEXT THING.”