Raising My Twins

It's what's on my mind.

Darling Rachel Receives Special Award

More for the Potty Training Trials file: Rachel has earned the weirdest place to have an accident award.

Last night, I heard her yelling about poo poo, which makes me move fast. I walked into the girls’ bedroom to see Rachel on hands and knees on her dresser, in a puddle of chunky vileness.

She was smart enough to avoid trying to climb down, as she probably would have slipped and gotten hurt.

Surprisingly I don’t run for the camera in these moments, but I did create this nifty illustration to give you the gist of the situation. Yes, she was wearing shorts.

I omitted the chunks in my illustration.


Potty Training Twins, Part 4 of ?

The girls had a great time visiting family. Here they cuddle up with “Uncle”.

Our annual Thanksgiving trip came in the middle of our potty training. It was supposed to be mostly in the bag (!) by then, but it’s taking my girls a little longer than average, as the previous posts describe.

We were in decent shape with the training before we left for our 500 mile drive to Southern California, even with the um…runny problems. In fact, they had to go so often in the days previous to our trip that they got some really good practice, and seemed to pretty much have the hang of taking themselves to the potty.

But then we had to pack them up in the minivan (with piles of cleaning supplies and baggies and whatnot). We left them pantsless, sheepskins and cloth diapers laid underneath them in the car seats. Apparently this felt too snuggly for them—maybe like a diaper—because there were at least a thousand accidents on the way down, and really gory ones at that. I was cleaning poop and rotating sheepskins nonstop. We put pants on them for our lunch stop and they both stayed clean and dry for the meal (whew!). All told, we only coaxed a couple of successes out of them during the trip…but one was an enormous poop from Rachel! But we showed up in San Diego with a huge bag of revolting laundry (did I mention that Rachel inexplicably threw up her breakfast about 5 miles from home?)

During the week-long visit with family, the girls learned a little bit more about wearing undies and pushing them down to potty. But as expected with this change in the program, they had many accidents. We had one totally accident-free day after Thanksgiving, though. On that day, we successfully reminded/coerced them every hour or so to stop playing and go potty.

The ride home was terrible though. Early in the day, I coaxed each of them to poop on their potties, and was hoping they were done with poops for the day. But for some unknown reason, they had diarrhea again and there were tons of accidents and so much obvious discomfort. Rachel had an especially bad bout and her butt got rashy right away. I ended up putting pull-ups on them for the second half of the 10-hour ride, although I changed them promptly when they pooped in ’em, and once Rachel asked to be put on the potty to go, which was really cool, as it must’ve been hard for her to time right. The pull-ups were handy for this, although in general I’m not planning to use them much.

So we made it home with more gory laundry and an exhausted mama. Today I am trying to get them on track while wearing pants. Audrey’s had four accidents (two in her pants—ew!) but a couple of pees in the potty. Rachel was holding everything until I made her try to poop before nap and she got a little done. I can’t believe they are sick again! I’ve emailed the doc to see if the diarrhea is something they need to be seen for, or if it’s just some strange side effect of potty training.

I’m pretty tired of cleaning poop, I’ll tell ya.


Potty Training Twins, Part 3 of ?

Tandem lock in. Not the easiest thing for Mama to manage.

We are finally getting it (she said, cautiously).

Today, there has been one (gruesome) accident by Rachel, but after a lecture and putting Panda Man on a high shelf “until she made it to the potty successfully,” she had two minor “hits” on the potty. The thing is, she’s got the runs today. Ahem. Fun stuff. But no way was I putting on a diaper after yesterday!

Yesterday I made sure both girls were full up with milk and ready to go before I started a lock-in with them. Audrey, who napped for two hours bare-bottomed and stayed dry (that’s my girl!) before drinking a cup of milk was sure to be bursting at the seams, and Rachel had had roughly 14 oz of milk in the last hour before her sister got up. Ready Freddy! Right?

Lock in commenced. Lots of playing, which I allowed for a few minutes but then got more serious. “Girls, we just have to go potty before we can go outside and play, ok?” Playing, stalling, more playing, reading volumes and not going…

After 45 minutes (didn’t expect that much delay), Audrey got the job done and got to go out and watch Sesame Street until Rachel was done. Rachel resented the departure of her sister but would not let it sway her to cooperation. She dug in her heels and would not go. Keep in mind she did it earlier in the day and also the day before. I sensed it was stubbornness and after a little bit I had an inkling that this one would be a record breaking holdout. Previous record: 1.5 hours.

I remained the very picture of a calm, supportive mama. I mean I was channeling some zen master…nothing but smiles and encouragement and empathy. For three hours. That’s right. Three hours. (Do they make trophies with a potty on them? Maybe a crying toddler on the floor next to it?)

Actually, I was starting to really doubt myself. Especially because she looked like she was really trying to go a couple of times and then couldn’t, bursting into tears. The thing was, she had done it under the same circumstances earlier and the day before. So I didn’t totally believe it was a new performance anxiety, but she had me second guessing myself. (“I read their sphincter can refuse to open if they aren’t feeling safe…but I know I am providing absolute emotional warmth and safety…”)

I really could not give in, especially the longer it took! If I had, the lesson she’d get would be “If i wait long enough, mama will give in. And she’s waited as long as 2.5 hours, so I now know I must wait longer than that. I will do it because I really want/need to get my way and turn this whole ridiculous potty idea she’s got around.” (Yes, I know toddlers do not think this clearly, but they are very, very determined and expert at testing limits, so sans-words, this is what I think would be happening in her head, more or less.)

So my hands were tied unless I wanted a power struggle from hell on my hands every day. Eventually, she caved. It was dinner time when we emerged from the bathroom. We had gone in there after naps. Luckily, Dad came home before Sesame Street ended and watched over Audrey. Even though I couldn’t give in, Rachel had shaken my conviction in my lock-in method, and I decided during this time that the next day I’d have to change something.

This morning I told them both that I expected them to take themselves to the potty and that I didn’t think we’d have to do any lock-ins because I knew they knew what to do. (Ehh…heh.)

It worked! And guess what? Rachel is not afraid of the bathroom in the slightest, nor treating me any differently than before. She’s her lovely self. And she’s complying (mostly) with my requests to sit on the potty and try to go, even with the trots…and that’s a tough thing to have while learning!

Today I’ve had two potty successes with Rachel and two with Audrey. Audrey’s moving right along…taking herself in there now. She’s very happy to be in charge of this. This mama’s bursting with pride, even knowing the rug could be ripped out from under me any second.

Two more days until traveling. Seems soon. But I remain cautiously optimistic.


Potty Training Twins, Part 2 of ?

Potty training with the girls. Rachel (r) is on the potty here and Audrey gives her a kiss.

How did the girls get this old (almost 2.5), given how I feel about potty training, you wonder? For one thing, everybody knows (and logic dictates) you need more than one person for at least a few days to start potty training twins, but I’d never managed to hook that up in spite of trying. So I’ve gritted my teeth and made several ernest attempts to train them on my own, knowing it would be really hard. And I’d end up so frustrated I thought I’d blow a fuse.

Almost every single time, I’d get an opportunity to teach one girl only to be thwarted by the other. Example: I see that Audrey’s peeing…I move her quickly to the potty and start to tell her that she’s doing great, etc., but suddenly Rachel is pushing Audrey off the potty. Mama wrestles Rachel aside and tells her she needs 2 minutes with Audrey. Now Rachel is climbing on my head. Really. All the time it was like that. It made my head want to explode.

One summer morning we were playing in the backyard when I spotted Rachel starting to poop. I raced over there to catch most of it in a potty and sit her down to encourage her. Dad walked out just in time to see Audrey dunking my abandoned iPhone in my coffee. Less than 10 seconds had passed.

But NOW how are we doing? Well, Thanksgiving is approaching fast and I’m trying not to be discouraged. One day we will be done with this, but oh man! it’s hard to contemplate the holidays at various relatives’ homes if our progress continues to be this slow! Although I know Grandma will be happy and excited to help, which makes me feel better.

First off, here is the best advice I’ve found on potty training: This eBook is $15: oh crap. potty training by Jamie Glowacki. It’s no-nonsense, dispel-the-myths advice, and it’s lengthy (for those of us that are potty-obsessed) covering every scenario the author can think of after training hundreds of kids. This book was brought to my attention by a blogger friend at eliminationcommunication.wordpress.com.

I loved the eBook, and read the whole thing. Jamie’s philosophy matches mine very well. She helped me to see that I caused a casual attitude about the potty in my girls, because of my lack of consistency. Sure it makes sense now!

So aaaanyway, as much as I love the book, I have some pretty big stubbornness with which to contend here. After a week or so, I started what I call “lock-ins”. To get them to stop using the potties as reading chairs and know that I mean for them to GET THIS, I have been locking them in the bathroom with me—sometimes together and sometimes alone—and while I remain supportive and positive, I try to maintain an attitude of sort of bored distraction to give them a feeling of psuedo-privacy to help them relax.

When they are together in the bathroom, they play a lot, so it’s pretty hard. I actually stop them from playing with the paper roll and the toilet seat, and I’ve moved most everything else out of their reach. I remind them that they can go back to playing or watching Elmo after they sit and pee, but otherwise I talk little. They really resist, and I’m not surprised anymore, given the fact that in the past I’ve “caved” and put diapers back on them after a few days or weeks (oh yeah). But not this time! I’ve been really consistent, and pretty stubborn myself (is that where Ray got it?) I’ve sat in the bathroom with one of them for as long as an hour and a half (guess who?) and was prepared to stay even longer if needed!

I know they have to go when I put them in there. In that way, I set us up for success whenever I do a lock-in. Usually one or both have been dancing around, or in Rachel’s case even leaking before I attempt a lock-in. Amazing how they can still hold out for so long! Also I only do about 2 of those a day also, so that I’m not pushing them way over the edge of rebellion. I’m still waiting for them to self-initiate.

Today’s lock in was with both girls, and I told them I’d love to watch Mickey Mouse with them, but I’d have to make sure they peed first. Audrey actually didn’t complain today, just played a little bit, then hopped up on the big potty and peed. Only took about 15 minutes! I parked her on the couch with Mickey and went back to Rachel.

Rachel’s always been more stubborn, but she’s also more verbal. She whined and cried, hugging me endlessly, but eventually climbed up on the big potty and peed. She took about 30 minutes, which is less than half her usual. I feel cautiously optimistic.

Late update: About an hour and a half after the lock-in, Audrey went in to the bathroom and was playing with the big toilet. I checked on her a couple times. She had closed the lid to the big toilet, so couldn’t access the little insert seat. Eventually I heard tinkling on the floor. I sped in there and moved her to the little potty, where she finished, then I had her help clean up the mess. I actually think that this was her trying to self-initiate, and I’m pretty excited. I think she wanted to use the big potty but had already closed the lid, and it locks shut. At least she was in the bathroom! Wish me luck.


Potty Training Twins, Part 1 of ?

Beautiful two-year-olds.

The girls are two years and 5 months. Already. I started this twin journey with intentions to potty train (PT) on the early side. In fact, I had been interested in EC’ing until I found out I was having twins, and then I decided I’d go it more traditionally, but I swore I’d tackle it sooner than most of my contemporaries, out of respect for the kids and a strong belief in instilling confidence. I had high hopes that the girls would be PT’d by age 2, which I thought would be ideal, as I believed they’d be more “helpful” and less oppositional before that age. (See this previous post for my early thoughts on the current trends in potty training and EC.)

I’m still in the middle of it, but I believe now that my intuition was right on all counts, but things got hectic, and I actually let go of some of that intuition in favor of some of the modern wives tales, because I wanted them to be true. Examples: “If it’s not going well, take a break for awhile.” “They’ll do it when they’re ready.” (I have no one to blame but myself for adopting this BS. *FLOG* See my own previous blog post! I knew better! *FLOG*)

And now, the excuses. One problem is that I’m a huge over-acheiver as a SAHM (stay-at-home-mom). I used to happily work for myself—which means of course that I was salesperson, designer, production artist, bookkeeper, planner, time and task manager, etc., all at the same time. And I loved the enforced organization it required. I love getting way more done, and done well, than expected. So that’s the type of mama I am too: I keep myself very busy, fitting in the craziest things between childcare and housekeeping. I was sanding and painting the exterior of my home (many times over…don’t ask!) during nap time for half of their entire infanthood and past their second birthday, which was no small intrusion into my plans to potty train! But I did feel it had to be done. (Our house looked haunted when we bought it, and two sides of it are still in less-than-ideal shape. Don’t get me started.)

I have learned over these two years to cook most anything I’ve ever wanted to—Indian favorites, graham crackers, every style of bread—as a sort of homemaker hobby, but mostly because I highly value being able to identify every ingredient and procedure in my family’s food. This of course is quite time consuming.

And then there are the two blogs (this one is for my sanity and enjoyment), the journals I keep for the girls, the research into schooling options and other things kid-related, and some hours each month pitching in with my husband’s business.

As far as packing my schedule, I got to feel very accomplished, but I shot myself in the foot. I kept myself way too busy. Even at times working late into the night and robbing myself of the already-hard-to-grab sleep of a new mama. But somehow—and this is just hubris—I really thought I could still manage the big stuff like potty training at the same time. Even though I was approaching it as a part time gig. Hmm.

Complicating matters—and this is a big one—I have a friend who has one of those magical toddlers (and take my word for it—this is by all accounts extremely rare) who decided to train herself, pretty much. Then her twin sister seemed to go along for the ride because of the stellar example set for her. Easy peasy, right? Yeah, it really is awesome. For that mama. Over here, I was in awe. And witnessing this genius child, I allowed myself to believe in magic (fueled by some bogus current thought trends): “Maybe my kids will just do it themselves when they are ready too. I mean they’ve gotten lots of exposure. It’s gonna click soon!” I had a sneaking suspicion I was fooling myself, but “Oh!  How convenient it would be…and I’ve got so much to DO before their birthday!” You can hardly blame me.

Meanwhile, I was making regular “attempts” at training (or “learning”—whatever floats your boat) but I didn’t realize I was making things worse by approaching it casually and intermittently. The girls would be bare-bottomed at home (with me trying to catch every pee or poo) but when we’d go out for groceries or play dates, I’d slap their diapers on. So now they take the whole thing very casually too, as in, “It must not be super important, because when it is important, mama puts a diaper on us. So if we wait or protest enough, she’ll give up and give us our comfy diaper.”  (Yep. I did.)

The worst thing is that I wasted tons of my own effort. I was putting a huge amount of energy in when I’d have them “training” here, but I really wasn’t doing it consistently enough to get good results. ‘Cuz I kinda thought it would just click for them one day and they’d take over. Silly mama!

I was ignorant of a couple of key points, which now seem like no-brainers.

Here’s one: Don’t put the potty out for them to “get used to” unless you are going to be actively training. My kids think their potties are reading chairs. I started teaching them about the chairs, very gently, when they were 16 months (picture on that previous post). It was cute and they were sweetly compliant with sitting on it. I brought the girls to the bathroom with me and they showed interest, even making the psst psst sound I’d vocalized to act as a cue for them whenever I’d go. Rachel would run to the door and make that noise—she was clearly into learning more. The thought fills me with woe. If only I’d known that my instincts about their nature at that phase were right and that the compliant desire-to-please attitude they exhibited indicated it was a perfect PERFECT time to spend a week or two being firm and consistent with it, I may have nailed it then.

Another: Don’t buy in to the freaky thought (another currently touted theory) that you can’t be negative in any way when dealing with potty training. The new “experts” advise that you’ll turn your kids off to the whole issue if you display any negativity. This is crap. It makes no sense. Now I’m back to being myself—showing my obvious disappointment when they don’t do what I expect, whether it’s with potty training (peeing on the floor) or anything else (throwing blocks, spitting milk). See? Why would you walk on eggshells with just one issue? What are the kids supposed to think about that? Likely your timidity will make them think you’re scared and confused. I was! Why didn’t I go ahead and overthink this stuff too, like I do everything else? Oh, right! I was too dang busy! *FLOG* Silly mama. 🙂

Clearly, I had the right idea in the beginning, I just believed, erroneously, that it would be more effortless. Effortless! What was I thinking? Why would it require no effort from me? That’s just weird. That is, if you disregard all my great excuses.

Much more to come, including ridiculous stories that make it clear why it sucks to train two at once.


Buying American and “Eating Local”

Here’s a great list of reasons to buy American. Most of us have our own pet reasons. Mine are supporting our economy (especially local businesses when I can) and reducing the impact on our environment. I mean, do we really need to eat blueberries in the winter when they come from Chile? Why not eat local citrus instead?  I live in California, so admittedly I have an easier situation than somebody in the Midwest, say.

Hokkaido squash and Padron peppers

This spring and summer I’ve made most of my produce purchases from the farmer’s market, and this has actually spurred me to try fun new vegetables, like this Hokkaido squash and these Padron peppers. I learned Padrons are a popular tapas dish, the best way to prepare them being to blister them in a pan of shimmering hot olive oil and sprinkle them with sea salt. And man, are they delicious. I have bought them every week for a month! I’ve put them in chili and deep-dish pizza with delicious results too.

The Hokkaido (aka “potimarron”) is a nutty-flavored sweet squash that the market vendor tells me sells out quickly each year. I have yet to prepare mine, but I will either make soup for the babies or perhaps I’ll try this potimarron gnocchi recipe, if I have some time.

Toys are another area of interest to me as a parent of young children. I’ve started trying to buy more American made toys, and interestingly, there aren’t that many brands sold through large outlets. When I combine “Made in the USA” with “eco-friendly”, both features by which Yoyo.com allows you to search, I only get products from a wonderful company called Green Toys, which makes all their BPA- and phthalate-free toys from recycled milk jugs. And they are really cute toys.

A search for “made in usa eco-friendly toys” helped me to find Down To Earth Toys that make some adorable bug blocks and other wooden and fabric toys. Magic Cabin has a section called “Made in America” which includes fun beeswax crafts and very attractive child-height wooden planter boxes.

This search also found a very cool looking company called Zoe B Organic. The search specifically found these biodegradable beach toys, but what looks exciting is that they have biodegradable plates, cups and bowls made in the USA too. Great idea!

I recently searched for a US-made tea pot and ended up finding out that there aren’t any (there’s one with German glass but made here—ask if you’re interested and I’ll find it again). This is a sad situation. We should at least have a couple of options in every product category that are made here, don’t you think?

For my part, I’m making this part of my buying decisions, although I’m sure won’t be 100% compliant. The thing is, I really believe that by buying products made here and made responsibly, I am in a sense voting for these factors. Companies make what we buy. If we didn’t just put the lowest price as our top priority, they’d eventually be persuaded to make things the way we want them, such as with quality parts or ingredients and low-toxin processes, made here in the United States.

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The Best Homemade Deodorant

(EDITED 10/3/12—see note at end of entry) I’ve always had a hard time with deodorants and antiperspirants. I used to sweat a fair amount when I was younger and I used antiperspirant exclusively then. All through my twenties I had the experience of using an antiperspirant for a while successfully, only to have it stop working after a couple of months. I was left sweaty and a little stinky and unhappy about it.

In my mid-thirties, I decided that I didn’t want to use pore-clogging formulations to block the sweat, so tried to move to deodorants. I’ve tried over a dozen natural and big-brand deodorants and they were all ineffective at preventing odor and nearly all were too sticky-feeling as well. Ick.

A few years ago I started trying to make my own. I landed on a formulation that worked pretty well for a while. Baking soda and cornstarch, with a little lavender essential oil, applied with a brush. It was good for a few weeks and hubby even used it too, but then we felt it wasn’t working as well and we didn’t like powdering the carpet at each morning’s application.

About four months ago I read a post at Progressive Pioneer which, when you follow another link to get to the recipe, shows the baking soda-cornstarch mixture with one change: the addition of coconut oil. I had my doubts, but tried it anyway. If nothing else, the application would be less messy.

Four months later and I can say definitively that this deodorant works, and it works very well. I had made that first batch in a little ramekin and kept it on my dresser with a spoon in it. (When the weather gets warm it liquifies, so I stir it up.) I am just now getting to the end of that batch and looking back on its performance these past months, I couldn’t be happier.

I no longer have to think about my pits! And that’s what deodorant is supposed to do. I never stink, and it’s even a bit of an antiperspirant because of the drying properties of the cornstarch, I think. Holds up through my regular cardio workouts too. It works for about 24 hours, I’d say. Maybe a bit less.

It’s really nothing short of amazing. And it’s cheap too.

So I’m due for another batch. This time I poured it into two old 2.4 oz deodorant containers (didn’t know it made that much!) and I will store it in the fridge. Here’s the recipe:

  • 4 T. baking soda
  • 4 T. cornstarch or arrowroot powder (I’ve only tried the cornstarch)
  • 6 T. coconut oil

Thank you to Our Daily Legacy, for the original recipe, and to Progressive Pioneer for passing it along.

EDIT (October 3, 2012): I want to report that using a stick-style container for application is not recommended. It deposits WAY more than you need, and as the commenter anticipated, it can leave grease marks. I only spotted marks once, but that is too much oil. There should be no residue.

I am back to using this recipe out of a ramekin that sits on my dresser. I apply a tiny fingertip dab to each armpit—rubbing it in quickly—and the effectiveness is spectacular. We are in a heat wave this week and I am truly not wanting for better protection.

But skip the stick-deodorant container method.


“They Look Just Like the Olsen Twins”—What Do You Think?

We get comments pretty frequently about our girls resembling “The Olsen Twins”. This is a twinset (of fraternals interestingly, just like ours) that look so much alike that they were cast as one child on a cheap-looking but popular TV show in the 90s, called Full House

Here they are, as toddlers:

And here are our girls:


My Rough Weekend (That Kept Giving)

DISCLAIMER: This is an account of our family getting sick, so don’t read it if this will bother you. Remember, this blog is first and foremost for my distant family to keep up with our goings on, so that will hopefully answer your question, “Why would she write about that?!”

The four of us in tent Sunday morning.

The weekend before last we had planned to drive 4 1/2 hours down to Pismo Beach with the twins to visit my husband’s dad, camp on the beach and ride “quads”—4-wheeled motorcycles. It was only to be one overnight because of the difficulty of wrangling twin toddlers.

My husband’s two boys are in town for a month-and-a-half summer vacation—they are staying with Grandma—and it occurred to me that this was just the type of thing the boys would like, so we invited them to come along too.

Friday night, the boys went to dinner with their grandparents at a Hometown Buffet and Brian and I made jokes about food poisoning (we will NOT eat there), which later did not seem so funny. The boys came over to spend the night, and in the morning we learned that the oldest boy had gotten sick overnight.

My first thought was to take them back to the grandparents, so he could be comfortable and not in the car (!) for half a day, but hubby was anxious to leave town and didn’t seem to welcome the detour, so he just asked the kid if he was okay, and the kid—not wanting to miss out—said yes.

Well he was not okay. He ended up vomiting in the back seat in spite of our regular inquiries about his state of queasiness, missing the bag we had equipped him with. We stopped at a quick mart and he helped clean up the backseat with lots of cleaning spray and paper towels.

We got to Pismo and the weather was not ideal—it was incredibly windy, which meant incredibly sandy. The sand was whipping into our faces already. Well we put the girls in their pods in Grandpa’s RV and Brian went for a ride with his dad.

The play tent before I packed it up. See all the sand?

Rachel’s nap did not take, and I ended up setting up a little dome tent on the lee side of the RV and trying to play with her in there. It was rather ridiculous and I found myself chuckling when every swirling gust of wind outside sent a shower of sand through the tent’s air vents. I made Rachel a peanut butter and jam sandwich, and never has the term been so appropriate. She ate some anyway, my little superstar.

When the guys returned, Chris said we should really get out of there. The wind was not expected to die down until late that evening, so he called a local campground and got a spot. We packed quick and got over there.

Opening up our old tent revealed that we had forgotten to set it up for clean up after last summer’s rainy departure from the twins’ club’s camp trip. Major oops. Ugh, moldy tent. Not recoverable. A quick trip into town had us set up with a Coleman Instant Tent (link to a similar model—ours must be an older one) which we had wanted anyway. (Did we sabotage our old, 90-pole tent unconsciously on purpose?) This new tent really does set up in one minute! Love it.

Tent set up, things got a bit easier. Toddlers were allowed to run around in there and play on the air mattress. We had dinner and shortly went to bed.

Middle of the night, other big kid is wretching…in camp. Dad went to help him. He was very sick but was able to crawl back in tent maybe an hour and a half later.

At this point, I started to really be anxious. I had that hot pins and needles sensation around my head that signals physical symptoms from anxiety. I know that fears and negative feelings are much worse at night for me, so I tried to breathe through it, but I couldn’t help feeling that my own little family unit was in danger. I’m talking about the deep-seated sense of “get away from the sick people” that helped humankind live through plagues and epidemics in our history.

Now, I’m well aware that given the modern context this sounds a little irrational, but as I said, anxiety is always worse for me at night and also—it should be said—my 2-year-olds had never had a vomiting virus. I admit I was devising escape plans to remove the girls from the influence of what was clearly a communicable illness.

In the end, I had to accept that there was nothing to do but try our best to stay sanitary and wait it out. I also accepted that the upcoming days were most likely going to be filled with sick babies and probably a sick me and a sick Dad too, and I just hoped fervently that we would at least end up sick with decent spacing so I could care for us.

The next day, Sunday, we had to contain the babies in the tent all morning while we packed up camp because there were toxic sick spots all over camp. This was irritating, but I tried my best to be sympathetic rather than selfish.

Rachel at a fun moment with Dad on her little three-wheeler.

Later on down at the beach, I got to go out for one very fun ride with hubby on the quads, and after that we got out of town.

We stopped for dinner and everyone was able to eat well except me…I wasn’t super hungry and I figured that was probably ominous, but whatever. I just longed for home.

At about 7pm, Rachel had fallen asleep in her car seat as that was her usual bedtime, but woke up with a violent bout of vomiting. This mommy was pretty distraught…I was leaning over the seat (hubby trying to pull over) just wishing I could, like, hold her together. Watching her spew like that kind of felt like watching her come apart. She was crying from pain and confusion—it was her first experience of this sort.

15 minutes later, car seat and baby cleaned up. And back in the damn car for another hour and a half to home. I was stressed and little despairing. I was so sad I couldn’t hold my little girl while she felt rotten. And both my girls were going down for sure now.

Back at home, when Rachel was sick a second time (I watched her turn whitish green this time) the bathroom was occupied. At this point I was not a picture of calm. I verbally, loudly ejected a boy out of bathroom and told him to get his dad, where he reported, “She’s swearing a lot.”

The fun of having twins is illustrated by this story: I’m helping a girl vomit and trying to clean her up, but also trying to stretch and bend my eyes around the corner to see that second girl is not playing in the vomit left behind. Ugh. Fortunately Audrey was quietly playing with a toy across the room and made no moves toward the mess.

Rachel back in bed. Boys picked up by their Auntie and taken back to Grandma’s. Lots of messes cleaned and laundry hot-washed. (See here for cleaning tips for the norovirus). Dad and I afraid to go to sleep because we were waiting for the inevitable next round from Rachel. When it came around 1am we were still up and we both held her and comforted her while she was sick in a lined wastebasket we had brought into her room. Dad was really very comforting…he told her she was okay over and over and encouraged her to “get it all up.” I was warmed to see this for the first time. And Rachel was really calmed by it.

The next day I felt much more calm. I knew the rest of us were still at risk but we were HOME. So much better to deal with sickness at home. I had just put the girls down for a nap at noon when Audrey sat up, crying. This could only be one thing, but it was so imminent I felt I could not move her for fear of making her feel worse, or even feel pain if I touched her tummy. So she was sick in the crib. I got her all cleaned up and scoured the crib while she slept in the pack-n-play. There was another incident—easily contained—in there, and one more later. And that was the worst part for Audrey.

1am. My turn. I’ll spare you those details, but I will say the misery of this illness is profound. Interestingly, I had noticed that each case was almost exactly 17 hours from onset to onset, except mine (11 hours) and that the vomiting only lasted for 6 hours each person. What I could not know until it was my turn is that the next 24 hours are absolutely rough. B had to work and so I was alone with the girls and I had to just rot their little brains with TV all day because I literally could not function. I struggled mightily through diaper changes, and threw crackers and breakfast bars—total junk food!—on the table to feed them. This is utterly unlike me but I really couldn’t do better. Not that day.

And there ends the saga, pretty much. Thankfully, Big B was lucky to escape the bug. Now, what was it? We at first thought—naturally—that it was food poisoning. When second kid got it, we weren’t sure any more. But it was. It’s both food poisoning and contagious stomach bug. It’s the norovirus—the one that infects hundreds of cruise ship passengers at times. Hand sanitizers and Lysol don’t kill viruses, which left us vulnerable in the car. Bleach is the ticket. And when you can’t bleach, such as doing laundry? Lots of baking soda and vinegar in the wash. Here are more tips to sanitize for norovirus if it comes your way.

My house and car are cleaner than they’ve ever been now.


The Problem With Shopping

If I had my druthers, everything edible I buy would be:
• organic
• whole grain
• locally grown/raised
• sustainably grown and responsibly/humanely harvested
• free of artificial colors and flavors (and for that matter, free of natural colors and flavors)
• not loaded with sweeteners of any sort
• packaged responsibly

A frequent “finger food” for the babies when they were smaller was elbow macaroni noodles which I had to buy at Whole Foods because I wanted whole grain, organic macaroni. For whatever reason, in spite of the growing consumer base for organics and the decades-older “trend” (I thought) toward whole grain products, in mainstream stores it is difficult to find the two attributes combined.

And I live in one of the best areas for this stuff. I’m 5 miles from Berkeley, California, where health trends are very broad-reaching and persistent…that is, many people in this area have been at  their various “alternative” food-buying practices for decades. These aren’t “trendsters”, they are the lifestyle sort of vegans, raw food devotees, locavores, wild foragers, etc.

I find it strange and disappointing that my local Raley’s—a store that rides the line between mainstream supermarket and Whole Foods by providing a moderate selection of organics and bulk foods—only stocks two shapes of pasta that meet the criteria of organic and whole wheat: penne and rotelle. And I think it goes without saying that there is only one brand to choose from. This is the same at most local stores I found. Honestly, I don’t really care about the shape of the pastas I eat, but my girls did: they found the elbow macaroni infinitely easier to pick up when they were self-feeding newbies, and macaroni is also sized right for a tiny human. Penne is so much bigger, and babies tend to stuff a whole piece of food—whatever size presents itself—into their faces.

I have to make a lot of choices when shopping. It takes me a longer than it used to, before I collected a long list of must-haves and would-really-likes. I occasionally have to choose either whole grain or organic, and increasingly that choice is organic. But even more often, I just circle through three local stores to get what I need, rather than try to get everything at one place. When I am organized, this does not add time or significant mileage, I just go to a different one of the three each week.

For instance, one week, it’s Raley’s for most things, including all these organic things: fresh fruits/veggies, milk, cheeses, bulk oatmeal, flours and convenience staples like canned beans. They also have fancy cereal for an occasional change of pace, and basic junk treats like Diet Coke. (I’m not a purist.)

Next week, Costco. Now, just about nothing here is going to be locally produced, so as this is the newest druther on my long list, I’ll have to rethink most Costco purchases, but for now: coffee, organic soy milk (convenient cases of 12 quarts that don’t need refrigeration for $15 or so!), organic frozen blueberries (missing from the freezer on my most recent trip…don’t know if I should grieve yet), occasional large blocks of organic cheese, etc.

The next week Trader Joe’s. Same nonlocal problem though. Fresh and frozen organic veggies and fruits, OJ, chocolate, junk food (try their chocolate croissants, found in the freezer section…you have to proof them overnight before baking but they are incredible!)

Of course now it’s summer, and buying locally is incredibly easy—farmers’ markets galore!—unless you keep leaving town and missing them! Aargh. We haven’t been to the market in 4 solid weeks because of trips and recreation. I’m jonesing to grab more big batches of berries and peas before they disappear.

We also started a garden, but found out how woefully underplanted we were as each crop that comes into fruit (and/or veg) is pretty much able to be consumed while standing next to the pot.

Our plum tree is a delight every year, in spite of our inadequacy in staving off tree enemies (trenemies?) like aphids and leaf curl for good. This year looks to be low yield though, due to a late pruning on my part, which had the tree redirecting its energies toward healing its wounds instead of fruiting like crazy. No matter…next year should be a bumper crop!

In any case, I do believe that I am “voting” with what I purchase, so it’s worthwhile to me to find what I really want to purchase instead of compromise. I also plan to learn more with my family about where all our food really comes from, so we have a clear picture of how nature—with us in it—really works.

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