October 22, 2016

We bought our 4-year old a drum kit. What happened here?

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I’m not going to lie…I have seriously been feeling a little embarrassed to share the news of this recent purchase with my friends (and, honestly, also with you). After all, Gray is only 4-years old. Does he ‘need’ a drum kit? Have we gotten carried away?

This is how we got here…

When Gray was just a little tyke, my girlfriend, Marian, bought him a little toy drum set. He LOVED this thing and often played while singing his ABC’s. He also loved to play while asking mommy to ‘dance’ to his beat.

What?? Nooooooo!! How?? (insert my best pow-wow dance)

There are no photos documenting this. Thank God.  But I do have a cute photo of Gray playing on his old toy drum set!  Let’s think about that instead:

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Eventually, this beloved toy drum kit bit the dust. It was a well-loved toy and always a fan-favourite when friends came over…so it was destined to have a limited life cycle. At the time, I wasn’t ‘that’ sad because, really…only your girlfriend without kids would buy that loud of a toy…but, I was definitely sad for Gray. Of course, he was upset but I hoped he would get over it and move on…and, for a while, it seemed like he did.

…Until last spring.

Last spring he started asking for drums and reminiscing about how much he loved his old toy drum set. Now that he’s four-years old, a little toy drum set like that would likely be too small for him so, I told him that’s a very expensive item he is wanting, and maybe that’s something he should ask Santa for.

He carried on into the summertime, talking about how he wanted drums and he was going to ask Santa for them. That seemed fine…the phase didn’t die off and he accepted that we weren’t just rushing out to buy drums. But, I did realize something. What happens if Santa brings the drums that Gray ‘thinks’ he wants but then loses interest?

So, I suggested to my husband perhaps we should find some little lessons for him in the fall and see how that goes before we…err…Santa…takes the plunge with the drums.

So, I put out a request into Facebook-land to see if any of my friends could recommend a music class or drum instructor…or were drum lessons for a 4-year old even a ‘thing’? It turned out another twin-mama I know recommended someone great who only lives a few blocks away from us – how convenient!

Gray started lessons in September and attends once per week for 30 minutes. The teacher we found is also a mom and does a good job of keeping him on-task but also offers little breaks when he needs it to just play as he wishes…and I like that…it seems age-appropriate to me.

The good news is that Gray seems to be progressing and he hasn’t shown any inkling of losing interest in drumming. By no means is he a ‘gifted musician’ but he really seems to be learning – and in a compound way. He regularly practices how to count (and play) different beats and patterns such as ‘triplets’ and ‘paradiddles’.

He has also worked a little bit on drawing music notes, and he is now learning the names of the different drums in a drum kit. For fun, he gets to watch a ‘Buddy Rich versus Animal-from-the-Muppets’ video – and he quite enjoys that!

Since the lessons seem to be coming along, and Gray seems to be maintaining his interest in drumming, I thought Darren and I could talk about a plan for Christmas.

Me: “What do you think about Santa bringing Gray a used drum set for Christmas? I kind think it’s too expensive of an item for him to get new. If you’re onside, we should probably start keeping our eye on Kijiji soon here.”

Keep in mind that I’m super proud here of my brainchild idea. My husband is…well…tight with money PLUS we are mostly a one-income family supporting four people. Anywhere we can save money is great! So…I’m pretty much thinking here…”I’m so smart!”.

Darren: “You want to give him a used item for Christmas?”

Me: “Well, yeah! Drums are expensive!!!”

Darren: “I don’t know. Would you like it if I gave you a used gift at Christmas?”

Me: “Well…that’s not even the same. He won’t even know – he will still be so excited to get them!”.

Darren: “Does that mean you are okay getting a used gift then?”

Me: (didn’t address the question…Abandon! Abandon!) “Okay, so the other option is we find a used set and chalk it up as a cost of doing an activity – just the same as we bought Miss A her ballet shoes, tap shoes, and dancewear.”

Darren: “Sounds good.”

And that, my friends, it exactly how we got here!

Gray’s drum teacher was kind enough to send us a list of four previously owned drum sets for sale that she thought were appropriate for Gray. She also offered her opinion of what they were actually worth (versus what they were listed for). They were pretty much all selling in the $190-$250 range. She also explained what to look for and what not to worry about (I guess the ‘skins’ are easily and eventually replaced anyhow).

In the end, we picked up a set from some parents whose son had left for university but had had to leave the drums behind. They were asking $190 and we scored a deal of $140 – which was even better than our drum instructor suggested would be a fair price for this particular set (this is where I boast that my brain didn’t turn into complete mush when I had kids and I still have some of my career ‘negotiating skills’ left in me – yay!).

As you can imagine, Gray is absolutely thrilled!!! I’m still a little baffled on how we went from a toy request in spring to a drum kit in his bedroom…but I guess that’s sometimes how it goes.

October 12, 2016

Pregnant with (or have) Twins or More in YYC? Read This!

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Image by J.A.C. Photography (www.jacphotography.ca)

Having twins, triplets or any number of ‘multiples’  is NOT easy. I mean, aside from it being an enormous amount of work (especially in the early days) it is very, VERY expensive and it is also a little scary!

That’s why I really want to tell you about an AMAZING resource I discovered when I was pregnant with my own twins – the Twins, Triplets and More Association of Calgary (or ‘TTMAC’ as many of us in the YYC multiples community call it).  I promise, they are not paying me to post this – I just love the association ‘this’ much! Honestly, it was one the greatest supports I had when preparing for and bringing home our twins!

I can’t remember exactly how I heard about TTMAC anymore, word of mouth perhaps? Regardless, I am so happy that I discovered them while I was still pregnant because I was able to take advantage of some of the membership benefits even at that time (speaking of membership, I should mention that there is a nominal membership fee…but for our family, the cost of membership has more than paid for itself year over year). Currently, the membership fee in 2016 for a new member is $50/year.

Here is a list of TTMAC membership benefits that our family has taken advantage of:

Discounts Galore!!!

Thank the heavens above because having multiples is SO expensive! Most items you will need in double (or maybe more if you’re having triplets…or quads…or…OMG!), so any little penny saved will make a big difference for you in the end.

You might be surprised to know that we actually still are able to take advantage of discounts even though we are long past the stage of buying cribs, which is so nice.

Free Loaner Items

There is quite a long list of items that TTMAC has to loan out and these items aren’t just intended for families in financial need…. they are intended for the general membership. Here are some items our family borrowed:

  1. Twin Baby Buddy nursing pillow I did buy a couple of new covers (covers were available I just preferred something a little different). This thing was a lifesaver and made a big difference when I got really crazy and tried ‘tandem feeding’.In case you’re not sure what tandem feeding is, it’s nursing two babies at the same time. It’s for people who like to multi-task. Not me. Thankfully Gray and Miss A were fairly efficient eaters!
  2. Bumbo Chair That thing was awesome and we got loads of use out of it. I used mine to prop the babes up for feeding in the early days and I also used it as an accessory with my exersaucer (which we only had one of). I would place one baby in the exersaucer and the other in the Bumbo within reach of the exersaucer – it worked like a charm and kept both babies entertained for an extended period of time. I supposed this is why exersaucers are affectionately referred to as ‘circles-of-neglect’.
  3. Resource Books The office has a decent little library of books and I did find two or three books on parenting multiples to bring home and place neatly on my bedside table.So, full disclosure here: I had good intentions of reading all of these books but, really…who has time for that when you’re waking up every three hours to ‘nurse-then-bottle-feed-then-burp’ two tiny humans (or more), change 16 diapers a day (or more), and ‘try’ to shower, sleep, cook, and wash in-between? Seriously, my God, why did I think I would be reading?

Access to the TTMAC Facebook Group (which is closed to the public)

I know this probably sounds silly, but the Facebook page has been an enormous resource to me. I have asked many multiples-related questions here such as:

“I’m moving my twins from a shared crib to sleeping in their own cribs, what should I expect?”

and

“I have diastasis recti from my multiples pregnancy and I’m looking for a recommendation on a good physio clinic.”

Honestly, the TTMAC Facebook page is a really great way to connect to the YYC multiples community.

Access to the TTMAC Facebook Classifieds Group (which is closed to the public)

This page has been so amazing for buying and selling multiples-related products and also coordinating outfits for the kids. Think coordinating/matching clothing, double-strollers, Halloween costumes, etc. Awesome!

Socials & Events

There are a wide variety of socials and events available for members. I have personally attended age-appropriate playgroup socials, evening parent socials, family events (Halloween, Christmas, etc) and my personal favourite – Mom only evenings out and retreats!

Contests

All of my friends know that I love me a good contest and TTMAC has no shortage of these! I have been lucky enough to win some products from their monthly contests and one year for Mother’s Day, our family even won an entire family photo session (including DVD) from the very kind and generous Larissa G Photography!

Early Access to the Infamous TTMAC Semi-Annual Used Clothing, Equipment and Toy Sale

This sale is huge, infamous, and very well organized! On top of that, it is another great place to buy equipment for your multiples since most of the vendors are parents of multiples. It’s also a spot you can buy coordinating (or matching) outfits for your multiples second hand.

Even if you don’t have multiples, you ‘can’ and ‘should’ go to this amazing sale!  It is totally worth it!

Workshops and Sessions

Both my husband and I took a first-aid course through TTMAC for a very nominal fee, which probably paid for our membership that year on its own.

There are other TTMAC Membership Benefits Available as well!

Support

There are quite a few areas that TTMAC offers support with if wanted…breastfeeding, NICU support, Bereavement, Single Parent support, and the list goes on.

There is also a “New to You” inventory of clothing and supply items that have been donated to the office for families who might be in want/need.

Overall…

Overall, I can’t say enough good things about becoming a member of TTMAC. If you are expecting multiples or even if you already have them, I would really encourage you to consider a membership. It has been such a great resource for our family and I honestly have met some of my most favourite people through this group…Gray and A have too!

September 13, 2016

My Twins Started Preschool and I’m Mourning

 

fullsizerenderOkay, I know that using the word ‘mourning’ is probably dramatic – perhaps ‘heart broken’ would be better?

Either way, my heart is aching a little.

I know that I’m not the first parent to send my first born to preschool…but I suppose it is ‘my’ first time sending my first (and last) born to ‘school’.   Is this how it is going to feel every time they reach a new educational milestone? Ugh.

Maybe I’m a little sad because this means my ‘babies’ aren’t babies anymore?

Or maybe it’s because this is a big step that somehow feels like my time as a full-time mommy is changing? Am I ready for that?

Or perhaps it’s because I’m not sure preschool is really the right choice for our family. Should we be allocating this time and money to other activities that the kids have been asking for? After all, they do already have 13 years of school ahead of them. Is preschool even necessary?

I don’t know. But what I do know is that I’m feeling a little down about the whole thing.

Of course Gray and A were excited and happy to start their first day yesterday. After all, our family has been talking about preschool quite a bit over the summer and all of us (including me) have had plenty of time to prepare ourselves.

When I dropped them off, I gave them both a kiss and told them I love them and they started to settle into their new routine right away. Out of the corner of my eye, I could see one of my close friends watching me (he was dropping off his 3rd of 4 children…who is entering his second year of preschool…so this is totally old news to him). He commented to me that he was just realizing that this is my first school drop off and instantly my eyes began to water. Thankfully it ended there and I was able to keep it together, but friends…it wasn’t easy. I could have easily sat down and had a good cry.

For now, I’m going to keep my chin up! I mean really…what else can I do? I’m sure over time I will get over this feeling and I will start to embrace having a few extra hours to have a little break (and by ‘break’ I mean childless grocery shopping before 8pm – OR – a trip to the motor vehicle registry without having to use the words ‘stop’, ‘no’, or ‘don’t’ – over and over and over…).

I do want to share with you something that I tried yesterday that helped me feel a little better: As soon as the kids were done their first class, I took them straight to our local Starbucks so we could enjoy steamed milk together. I put away my phone and I gave them my totally undivided attention while I invited them to share with me the details their big day! Of course, as they shared all of the exciting things they did, I couldn’t help but feel the contagiousness of their joy and excitement!

Hearing them tell it all over again to their dad, during suppertime, helped too!  …and, perhaps, so did the glass of wine that went along with it!

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September 3, 2016

Journaling their Special Moments

 

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I am a very sentimental person and I love preserving memories! I always have.

I photograph often, I keep special items (even if they are in a box in my basement), and I did buy and (mostly) fill out baby books for the twins. I’m just that kind of a person.

But, as the twins moved away from their first year, there were so many moments that brought us joy and I didn’t want to forget them. So, I decided to buy them each journals. I just found some nice, good quality ones that I thought would stand the test of time from our local Chapters/Indigo bookstore. In them, I record anything at all that I don’t want to forget or that I think the kids will enjoy learning about themselves later.

Here are some examples of things that I have recorded for them:

  • The first time the twins gave each other a kiss
  • The funny ways they used to put sentences together and the sweet ways they said certain words (for example, Miss A used to call Gray ‘Gay-Gay’)
  • The day they scored their first soccer goal in Timbits Soccer
  • That time I found Gray plunging his own face with a plunger (Yes, that happened…for real!)
  • The time Miss A put her own self in a time out after doing something naughty

I also staple in small paper memories that don’t take up much room in their journals. Little things like my favourite day home reports that we received or Gray’s gymnastics report card where he was praised for having such good listening and being a role model for classmates. Pretty much anything that makes us smile!

I know being a parent is extremely busy and little things like this can get lost in the shuffle. The one thing that really helps me stay on top of keeping the journals current is simply keeping them on my bedside table, along with a pen, so I can add a few quick notes before bed. I also store little notes in my phone if something comes up while we are away from the house that I want to remember – those get added at bedtime also.

After sharing that I do this with one of my friends, another mom of twins, I could tell she really liked the idea. So, we actually gifted her twins with their own journals on their birthday, so they could have their own collection of memories started. I know that at 5-years old they might have not put that at the top of their ‘favourite gifts’ list, but hopefully down the road they will be happy to have those keepsakes.

I know their mama will anyway!

August 19, 2016

Preschoolers and Pay Per View Don’t Mix

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Our kids have been able (and allowed) to order their own Shaw on Demand programs for a little while now. They just need to ask first. They know they are limited to certain Treehouse and Disney Junior shows and they are able to identify them by the little thumbnail photos that are displayed. Anything else they need permission to select and they are very good about respecting that TV rule.

So, a couple of months ago, they did just that. They asked their dad if they could order the ‘show with the fox and bunny’. He didn’t really know which show they were asking about but certainly a show with a fox and a bunny probably sounded about right for a couple of 4-year olds.

At some point very soon, he realized that they had ordered a movie – Zootopia to be exact. Shoot! It wasn’t free! Well, they did ask after all, how could we be mad?

So, we let them watch it 3 times to celebrate!

Nah, actually…we just wanted to get our $4.99 worth before it expired on the 24-hour mark.

Well played, children.

So, the lesson here, my friends…if your kids can order ‘free’ programs, they can also order pay per view. Maybe get ahead of us and add a password to your pay per view TV. While you’re at it, it might also be time to add a password to some of the channels you might have even just through your basic cable.

August 8, 2016

The Inaugural Blog Post

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Wow! I can’t believe I’m finally here!

This tiny idea of having a personal/lifestyle blog has sort of become a bit of a project, so I am elated to finally be sharing it with you!

(starting a blog seems like it should be simple but, man, there are A LOT of things to consider before actually getting to put your pen to paper! That’s definitely going to have to be a blog post later!)

How it all began…

Over the last couple of years I have had a couple of friends loosely comment in passing that I should write a blog. I think it’s probably because I have been sharing our ‘trials and tribulations’ on facebook and social media with friends and family since the twins (Gray & A) were born. I usually have a pretty honest approach, sharing both the joys, as well as the ‘imperfect’ moments, often. I am a first time mom AND a mom of twins, so my husband and I really just jumped right in with both feet. As you can imagine, it has been beautiful, crazy, joyful and sometimes flat out chaotic.

Only people without children gift chapstick this bright to a 2-year old

I envision Refined Imperfection as a little space that I can share my journey of raising my twins, being a wife, and holding on to a little sliver of still being my own person – here in beautiful YYC.

Thanks for coming by and saying, ‘hello’!

Shampoo pumps work great when you only have 1 hand - also when you have 2-year old hands and a mirror

Shampoo pumps work great when you only have one hand.
They also work great when you are 2-years old and you are left totally unsupervised.