Crafty Holiday Traditions

The holidays always make me feel a little craftier, and now that the girls are three, I’m having a lot of fun starting family traditions!

On November 1st, I created our third annual family thankful tree. Everyone was assigned a colored leaf and each day, we all put one leaf on the tree, to share what we were thankful for. On Thanksgiving, we had a beautiful tree, full of thanks.

Thanksgiving Thankful Tree

As usual in our household, our Christmas tree went up the weekend before Thanksgiving. Typically, we put it up early, so we can enjoy it longer, since we usually travel up to two weeks over the holidays.

Christmas Tree

I found a wonderful advent calendar from Target, that would keep my creativity flowing throughout the holidays. Each day, the girls flip over an ornament on the advent tree, and we do whatever is on the back.

Advent Tree

Just one week into December and we have already created a paper garland, decorated a Christmas tree, put up our felt Christmas tree, made ornaments for the tree, looked at Christmas lights, taken a picture with Santa, and created gingerbread houses and Christmas cookies!

We also have had fun with Elfie, our Elf on the Shelf. Every morning, Elfie flies to a new spot and the girls have a lot of fun trying to find her!

Over the past two years, the Christmas felt tree has been a hit in our household. The girls love to decorate and re-decorate the tree, again and again.Felt Tree

This year, I was excited to find a felt nativity scene, to put on the wall, and even more thrilled to watch the girls take turns, telling each other the true meaning of Christmas.

Felt Nativity Scene

Every day, offers a little something exciting in the countdown for Christmas. Each day, we find Elfie, take a paper ring off of the Christmas garland, and flip over an ornament on our advent calendar, to see what special event we get to do that day!

We love the holidays and look forward to these new traditions and finding even more, for years to come!

Happy Holidays! Get crafty!

Growing Too Fast and Into Bunk Beds

Ever since the girls were born, I frequently found myself excited for the next big step. When they were babies, I couldn’t wait 309878_10101484435615941_1700505688_nfor them to sit up and crawl. Then, I couldn’t wait for them to walk, and at 11 months, they took their first steps. I was so excited for them to talk and interact, that I couldn’t wait for them to get bigger, so we could play a game of Candyland or toss a ball.

You always hear the phrase, “Cherish every moment,” or “They grow up too fast,” but living hundreds or thousands of miles away from family, I rarely had any help, so I always thought, if they get older, it must get easier, or at least I hoped.

Now that they are almost 3.5, I finally look back at the days where they were babies, and I miss the sweet stages of those cute little diapered butts. 552314_10102538224848871_1083126962_nThe times when you could set them on the couch and know, they were not moving anywhere. The times that naps were still present and no one screamed back or tried to be defiant. No one fought or pulled any hair. There were no tantrums on aisle 3 and crying was typically silenced with a bottle, binky, or diaper change.

Raising twins is hard, especially with no family close by. My hat goes off to all of the amazing women who do it every day. I have never had more struggles or challenges, or been pushed to my limits, more than I have since becoming a mom. On the flip side, I have also never experienced more joy, more love, or more fulfillment, then I have as a mother to those girls.

Today, my “next big thing” was bunk beds. Was it too early? Probably. But, the toddler beds seemed to be getting smaller and bunk beds seemed to be a logical solution for two girls who shared a small bedroom. So, today, while the girls were at preschool, the magic happened.

We said goodbye to the toddler beds.IMG_3870

Daddy built the bunk beds while the girls were at preschool.IMG_3881

They were pretty excited to find the beds when they came home!IMG_3902

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Daddy gave them the safety talk.IMG_3887

….And the new beds were awesome!

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Story-time before bed was extra special.IMG_3917

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Night one is almost in the books for our transition to bunk beds. Once they finally settled down from the excitement, they were fast asleep. As of right now, Chelsea took the top bunk and Katelyn was content with the bottom. I’m sure this will change down the road, but I’m happy that there was no fighting about who was going to sleep on the top bunk.

It’s bitter-sweet to see the girls in bunk beds, because they still look so little, and of course in my eyes, they are always going to be my babies, but they love it!

For now, I need to remember to stop rushing them to grow up and enjoy the moment. As hard as some moments may be, I know, I will miss these days, just as much I miss them being little babies.

Cherish every moment. They grow up too fast. It’s finally starting to hit home.

Giveaway: Christmas Classics and Pump It Up Passes

In case you missed my first blog post on Pump It Up, The Ultimate Preschooler Birthday Party, you may know that my family is a big fan of the place, where imagination comes to play.

Naturally, when I found out that Pump It Up was hosting a Classic Christmas Favorites sweepstakes, I was excited to share the news and host a special giveaway, right here on OC Family!

Most families think of Pump It Up as the place to burn some energy on giant inflatables, but it’s more than just a place to jump around.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, “Uninterrupted free play helps kids in creative development, self-regulation, and can impact how they behave in social settings.”

Studies have shown that the amount of time children engage in imaginative play is decreasing, up to 8 hours per week!

As a mother of twins, I’m always looking for safe places, to bring my extremely active girls, who are always running in opposite directions. We love the pre-k story time jump, a time that is set aside, specifically for children under the age of six.

Okay… on to the giveaway! Pump It Up is hosting a Christmas Classics Favorites sweepstakes on the Pump It Up Facebook page.

They are giving away a 50″ LED Smart HDTV and the Christmas Classics Favorites DVD set, to one lucky winner. Fifteen runners up, will also receive their own copy of the Christmas Classics Favorite DVD set!

I love the Christmas classics movies and I even remember taping them on our VCR when I was little. Be kind. Please rewind.

I can’t wait to share these timeless movies with my girls!

The set includes:

  • ·         Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas!
  • ·         The Leprechauns’ Christmas Gold
  • ·         Pinocchio’s Christmas
  • ·         The Stingiest Man In Town
  • ·         The Year Without a Santa Claus Deluxe Edition
  • ·         Rudolph’s Shiny New Year
  • ·         Nestor, The Long-Eared Christmas Donkey
  • ·         Frosty’s Winter Wonderland
  • ·         ’Twas The Night Before Christmas
  • ·         Rudolph And Frosty’s Christmas In July

To enter the Pump It Up Facebook sweepstakes, simply visit the Pump It Up Facebook page, like their page, and fill out the sweepstakes form. One entry per family is allowed. The Facebook contest will be open through November 30, and the winners will be announced on December 1st!

That’s not all! Pump It Up will also give one OC Family reader, an opportunity to win their own Christmas Classics Favorites DVD set and four open jump passes!

All you have to do to enter, is leave a comment on this blog post. Let me know if you entered the Pump It Up Facebook sweepstakes OR tell me what your favorite thing to do at Pump It Up is. That’s it!

You will be automatically entered to win your own Christmas Classics Favorites DVD set and four Pump It Up open jump passes! Winner will be randomly selected on Friday, November 21, 2014. The winner will be announced on this page and emailed directly.

Happy Jumping!

 

One-Year RUNiversary

Today is a special day for me. It is my one-year RUNiversary!

Twelve months ago, I was not a runner, not even close! In fact, I hated thinking about running. I loved to sprint, fast, but for 100, 200 yards, maybe. I loved to run around the bases in a softball game or do sprints for a warm-up. Anything beyond that, was just not for me.

One year ago, today, I completed my first “official” run, by joining an 8-week run club. That night, I ran 1 mile around the track. Little did I know, that mile, would be the start to an amazing, positive, change in my life.

I never thought I would ever complete a half marathon. I had no endurance and honestly, no desire to even try. I had myself convinced, that I was a sprinter, therefore, I could not run long distance, but last October, my mentality changed.

I set a New Year’s resolution, for 2013, that I was going to be Fit for 30. It was the year, I turned the big 3-0, and I worked hard, to get in the best shape of my life. I felt that I completed my goal when my 30th birthday arrived last October, but something was still missing. I got in shape, but I still couldn’t run. I was finally ready to stop saying, “I can’t,” and start believing in myself.

It was never easy. I made mistakes. I learned from them. I sustained injuries. I set my alarm for 5 a.m. runs. I had runs that were good and runs that brought me to tears. Most importantly, no matter what, I never quit.

I’ve learned a lot of things about myself since I started running (13.1 Milestone: Lessons Learned), but I think one of the most important ones is to have a positive attitude, not just in running, but in life. I had convinced myself that I was not good enough to run long distance and that I would never have the endurance to run a half marathon. The reality was, I just never had the desire or the patience to prove myself wrong.

I learned how powerful your mind really is and how much control your mind and your attitude have over your body. If I hit the road with a negative attitude, my run is horrible, every time.

I learned that 90% of your race, is your mental state that day. Of course, training is important, and your body needs to be properly trained, fueled, and hydrated to go the distance, but it’s just as important to train your mind, along with your body. When your body runs out of steam, your mind needs to tell your legs to keep moving.

If you told me one year ago, I would run a half marathon, I would have laughed out loud and told you, you were crazy, because I can’t run.

In the past 12 months, I have completed 2 5K’s, 4 10K’s, 1 sprint triathlon, and 2 half marathons, and I will be running my 3rd half marathon on October 26th.

5K
11/9/13 – Big A 5K 24:56 / 8:02
2/9/14 – iTRTathlon 5K 24:57 / 8:03

10K
11/28/13 – Plymouth Rock N Run 10K – 54:49 / 8:50
12/14/13 – Troutman Sanders Santa Run 10K – 53:54 / 8:42
3/2/14 – Coaster Run 10K – 49:23 / 7:58
3/30/14 – PCRF Reaching For the Cure 10K 49:20 / 7:58

Sprint Triathlon
2/22/14 – Race on the Base – 5K 24:40 / 7:57, Bike 13.1 mi 48:17, Swim 5:41

Half Marathon
5/26/14 – Laguna Hills Memorial Day Half Marathon – 2:03:23 / 9:25
8/31/14 – Disneyland Half Marathon – 1:56:37 / 8:54

It is almost overwhelming to look back at the last year and see, not just the accomplishments, but to see how much running has changed me as a person. I really believe it has given me a new outlook on life.

Running was something that once scared me, because I was so intimidated by it, but now running is a part of who I am. 

I started my own Facebook page, Mission TwinPossible: The Twin Mama’s Journey, and I have learned that anything is possible with the right attitude, hard work, and dedication. 

My First Disneyland Half Marathon

I’m kind of embarrassed to admit that six weeks have passed and I have not written anything about the Disneyland Half Marathon!

2014-Disneyland-Half-Marathon-Logo

It was kind of a big deal, because, one, it was on my bucket list, two it was a New Year’s resolution, and three, I PR’d, taking 7 minutes off my first half marathon time.  

flat h

alarmI woke up bright and early on the morning of the big race. Flat Hollie was laid out, and ready to go!

I got to the parking garage around 4:15 a.m. and was in my corral (super early), anxiously awaiting the 5:30 a.m. start! My adrenaline was pumping and I could feel the Disney magic all around me! So many runners were dressed in their Disney best and it was fun to see everyone’s race costumes.

The gun went off and my corral was headed out! There truly is something magical about running through the Happiest Place on Earth! It would’ve been even better if you could run through the park for the entire 13 miles, but unfortunately, the park is not that big. I loved running through Disney’s California Adventure and Disneyland Park, even if it was only for a couple miles. There were multiple photo opportunities, inside the park, for those who wanted to snap some selfies, or get a picture with their favorite Disney character. I just kept on running.

disney halfs

Even though there were 11 miles outside of the parks, the entertainment never failed. There were live bands, cheerleaders, spectators, singers, and even a classic car show along the route. We ran around the Honda Center, and, perhaps my favorite part of the race, was running around the field, at Angels Stadium, with cheering spectators inside!

I started to hit a wall at mile 12, which is where my pace really took a hit. I started to feel dizzy and light-headed, and started running with my head down, possibly even with my eyes closed, for a few feet here and there.  The spectators, and even the runners, offered amazing words of encouragement during that final mile, to keep my body moving forward to finish the race.medal

The overwhelming feeling of joy I felt after crossing the finish line, is almost indescribable. It is the runner’s high. The reason, runners will sign up for another race (also for the bling).

One year ago, 13.1 miles seemed impossible and unreachable, but on August 31, I completed my second half marathon in three months. It didn’t even seem real at that point.

Another amazing feeling after the race, is finding the person you love, who’s been cheering you on, waiting for you with open arms, and even accepts your sweaty hug when you re-unite!

I was so happy to see my husband after my run. I have been so incredibly blessed to have such an amazing support person by my side, not just for this race, but also for every early morning training run, (and recovery-on-the-couch days) that got me to that day!

Side note: Unfortunately, unless your spectators pay extra money to be part of the ChEAR Squad, your family will not be able to see you cross the finish line, so make sure you have an agreed-upon meeting place, after the race.

Disney Half
If you want to participate the 2015 Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend (Sept 4-6), there are a couple things you should know. Registration sells out fast! You can sign up at Run Disney, to receive an email reminder of the day, registration opens. Registration for the 2015 Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend, opens on February 10, 2015.

It’s not the cheapest race out there. The half marathon, alone, was $195. A lot of people ask me, if it was worth the cost? I can’t say I would spend that much money on a race again (insert husband’s happy dance here), but it was an amazing experience, a very organized race, and of course big bling is always a plus! The biggest downside for me (aside from the expense) was that my husband was not able to see me cross the finish line, but I guess when you have that many runners, it would be hard for everyone to flock to one spot. Overall, the race was a lot of fun! Thank you Run Disney!

Lil’ Strikers Bumper Bowling League

A big part of me has wanted to take the girls bowling. The other part of me thought I was crazy, and so did my husband. However, I found the perfect opportunity to give the sport a chance, in an environment that welcomed my two, high-energy, preschoolers.

My husband is on vacation this week, and so are the girls, so I figured with man-to-man coverage, we would head to an alley. I started searching for bowling alleys nearby, and I stumbled across Saddleback Lanes in Mission Viejo. As I clicked on their website, one banner quickly caught my eye:

bowling banner
bowlingWait. A bowling league, that welcomes three-year olds, and is twin friendly?  This is phenomenal.  I immediately called Saddleback Lanes  to find out more information!

The Lil’ Strikers Bumper League is a 10 week league, but you can join anytime. The league meets on Mondays at 4 p.m. and the cost is $8 per person, which includes shoe rentals and two games of bowling! Since you are technically in a league, you also receive discounts when you return to the alley throughout the week. At the end of the league, the kids enjoy a pizza party and receive a trophy! We went on Monday, Aug 25, which was week 9 of the current league. The next league is expected to start in mid-September.

Every team in the league has 3 bowlers. Your team consists of 1 parent and 1 child or 1 parent and 2 children.  If you are only bowling with one child, then you will have a ghost bowler on your team. When the child bowls, the bumpers automatically come out. When the parent bowls, the bumpers go away. Bowling ramps are provided for the little ones, who can’t throw the ball down the alley yet and the kids bowl with six pound bowling balls.

bowling2We chose to make a 3-person team. My husband bowled with the girls and I was the safety monitor to make sure they were sitting down when everyone else was bowling, not getting over excited and running into the wrong lane after they knocked their pins down, and not pressing all of the buttons on the computers.

StrikeThe only problem we encountered was when Chelsea bowled a strike. She was on the verge of tears because she did not understand why she did not get to throw her second ball. Catastrophe.

By the end of our second game, Katelyn wanted to hurl her balls down the alley like daddy, so it was probably a great time to go.

For their first time bowling, the girls did great! Kate bowled a 74 and 82 and Chelsea bowled a 71 and 88. (Oh, and Daddy bowled a 225 in his second game. There. Now, it’s on record.)

Everyone had a blast and I am so glad we found this opportunity to introduce bowling to the girls. I have a feeling we will be laying some more pins down in the near future!

For more information on the Lil Strikers Bumper Bowling League, contact:

Saddleback Lanes
25402 Marguerite Parkway
Mission Viejo, CA 92692
949-586-5300

Recipe: Bacon Burger with Caramelized Onions and Gorgonzola

I will be the first to admit, cooking is not my forte, and we often eat the same meals, a little too often, but I do enjoy finding the time (rarity) to cook something new! I was excited when I was challenged to create a gourmet burger.

I decided to create a Bacon Burger with Caramelized Onions and Gorgonzola!

First, to get some ingredients! Shopping with twin three-year olds is not always the easiest task, so I was happy to find that Winder Farms delivered almost everything I needed, straight to my front door, first thing in the morning!

Winder Farms is known as the ‘farmers market on wheels,” and has been delivering fresh products to families since 1880! This service is great for moms who value providing their families with healthy options, but don’t necessarily have time to make a trip to the local farmers market or specialty grocery stores.

Winder Farms delivers over 300 fresh products, straight from the farm, to families in Utah, Nevada, and California! Milk is delivered within 48 hours, baked goods are baked fresh daily, and the produce is always freshly picked. Everything they deliver also comes with a freshness and 100% satisfaction guarantee! To top it off, not having to drag the kids through the grocery store, is one less thing to stress about.

To prepare my gourmet burgers, I had my ground beef, applewood smoked bacon, yellow onions, organic baby spinach, and gluten-free hamburger buns, delivered directly to my doorstep!

Bacon Burger with Caramelized Onions and Gorgonzola

Ingredients:

  • Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
  • 8 slices of Applewood Smoked Bacon, chopped
  • Large Yellow Onion (thinly sliced)
  • Splash of White Wine
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 4 Hamburger Buns, toasted
  • 2 oz Crumbled Gorgonzola Cheese
  • Baby Spinach

 

  • Heat large skillet over medium-high heat. Drizzle extra-virgin olive oil and cook bacon. Transfer bacon to a plate and let cool.

  • Leave bacon drippings in pan and add onions. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. When the onions have finished cooking, deglaze the pan, by adding a splash of white wine. Transfer onions to a bowl and cover to keep them warm.

  • While the onions are cooking, combine beef and cooled, chopped bacon. Form them into four separate patties. Coat slightly, with extra-virgin olive oil.

  • Cook burgers on skillet on medium-high for about 4 minutes per side for medium-rare.

  • Place burger on toasted buns and top with caramelized onions, gorgonzola crumbles, and baby spinach.
Now, grab a tasty beverage. Sit down. Enjoy your creation!
Disclaimer: I received complimentary grocery delivery service from Winder Farms for this contest.

How My Daughters Got Their Zzzz’s Back!

Every mom knows it’s coming, but they can only hope it doesn’t happen too soon…the END of naps. My girls just turned 3, and we have been struggling with nap times for the last 7 months. I was ready to face the fact that naps were a thing of the past.

Having no naps was definitely starting to weigh on me and my husband. Bedtime was still a mess and the lack of sleep was turning my cute girls, into total grumps, from early afternoon, all the way through bedtime. If it was a miraculous day, and they did have a nap, bedtime was much later, much harder, and much more exasperating. It was a game that had a no-win outcome.

When my day ends in utter frustration, it snowballs into a frustrating evening for my husband too. He comes home from a long day, only to see the grumpy, overtired, meltdowns. I finally realized, we must be missing something. Kids need sleep.

If only our kids came with a sleep manual, right? Well, I may have just found one. Last Wednesday, I attended the general meeting for my Saddleback Mothers of Multiples Club.  The guest speaker was Michelle Donaghy, a pediatric sleep coach.

With a combination of things I learned in the meeting from the speaker, ideas from other moms, and some ideas of my own, I think I am finally starting to understand why naps were not working for us in the past. It’s been one week since, my light bulb was dusted off and turned on, and we can celebrate a victory; the girls have napped 6 of the past 7 days.

When it comes to sleep, the key hormones to remember are melatonin and cortisol. The levels of these hormones in your body change throughout the day, which is why it is easier to fall asleep at certain times. Melatonin, increases in the absence of light, and gets us ready to drift off to sleep. Cortisone is a hormone that keeps us awake and alert.

We’ve all said, our kids got their “second wind,” but did you ever wonder why that happens?

Melatonin, a hormone produced naturally in your brain, that tells your body to go to sleep, plays a role in the regulation of our body’s natural clock or circadian rhythms. Healthy adults and children get a hormone of melatonin about 30 minutes before they get sleepy.

Research showed that kids who were put to bed about 30 minutes after their melatonin surge, fell asleep faster.  Kids whose bedtimes were not in sync with their melatonin surge had bedtime resistance. Furthermore, our bodies like to compensate, so if we miss the “sleepy window,” our body knows we need more energy, and gives us a shot of cortisol, or the “second wind” as we mommy’s call it! Once this cortisol kicks in, your task of getting your child to sleep, just became a thousand times harder.

Sleep is important, for everyone, so it’s important to understand your child’s window of wakefulness, or the length of time you can expect your child to stay awake without having a meltdown. So, approximately, when does this melatonin kick in?

For a 3-year old, the magic number seems to be 6. So, if your child wakes up at 7 a.m., then their nap should be six hours later, at 1 p.m. The other day my daughters woke up at 6:30 a.m. and we went in their room just after noon, to dim the lights, begin quiet time, read books, and amazingly, they were asleep at 12:30 p.m.

The sleep schedule is not perfect and I can not say it’s easy, but there is improvement. Let me address some of the sleep problems and solutions we have encountered.

Problem: With no naps, my daughters were not getting enough sleep during the day, resulting in overtired, grumpy, irritable children.
Solution: A 3-5 year old needs about 12 hours of sleep. If they sleep 11 hours at night, a 1 hour nap during the day would be ideal! When they take a nap, they usually wake up refreshed and happy!

Problem: Naps were not working. I finally gave up.
Solution: Remember your child’s magic numbers! For a 3-5 year old, the awake window is 6 hours, so begin your nap routine at about 5.5 hours. The next magic number is 4-5 (for my kids it’s about 5). Once they wake up from nap, they have 4-5 more awake hours before bedtime. If your child wakes up from nap at 3  p.m., then bedtime should be between 7-8 p.m.

Problem: My kids were waking up way too early.
Solution: According to the sleep coach, at this age, your child should not be awake in the morning before 6 a.m. and should not go to bed at night, past 8 p.m. To keep my girls in bed in the morning, we use the Onaroo  OK to Wake! Alarm Clock, or “Buggy,” as we call him. He turns green at 6:45 a.m. which tells the girls that it is okay to get out of bed.

ProblemOur house is loud. You can hear every noise that is made upstairs, when you are in their bedroom.
Solution
: Thankfully, the girls have shared a room for long enough, that they have had to endure sleeping through another screaming kid. We also keep a fan in their room, turned on high, for background noise. The fan is turned on during quiet time, at nap and bed time, and stays on until they wake up.

ProblemGetting the girls to nap or even go to bed between 7 and 8 pm in the summer, when the sun is still up, is near impossible.
Solution: Keep the room dark. Your body releases melatonin (sleepy hormone) and that hormone increases in the absence of light. We use black out curtains to keep the room nice and dark and begin reading in the room 20 minutes before naps or bed time.

Problem: When they did nap, bedtime was awful!
Solution: Never wake a sleeping baby, no longer applies here. If my kids slept 11 hours last night, then I am not going to let them sleep more than 1 hour for nap time. Also, I won’t let them sleep later then 3 p.m or longer then 90 minutes. At this age, they may not nap every day, and that’s okay. In the past 7 days, they took a nap for 6 of them. Bedtime was a little rougher than normal on the day they did not nap, but, overall, we are getting … well.. somewhere.

Problem: Once the girls are in bed, it’s “I need a drink of water,” or “I have to use the potty.”
Solution: The first one is easy, I always bring their water bottles to their bedroom. The second one was driving me nuts! Once one has to potty, the other one has to potty and if I’m tucking them in alone, if I leave the room to take one, the other one would be behind me, or worse, jumping on the bed, turning on the light, or running upstairs. Bedtime just became a huge mess all over again! I try to get them to use the potty before bed, sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t, but now I bring in the training potty that we used when we were potty training. If they have to go once they are in bed, they sit on this little potty, in the dark room, no distractions and no more leaving their bedroom. The majority of the time, they sit on the potty but don’t go. They were just looking for an excuse to leave the room.

Problem: Some nights, keeping two small kids in their beds is nearly impossible. While they run around in the dark, laughing because it’s hysterical, I grab one child, put her back in bed, and the other one jumps out.
Solution: Lock the bedroom door. Seriously. While I am putting one back in bed, the other will bolt for the door and bee-line it upstairs, laughing and screaming. I’m sure you know, kids love rewards and stickers. So, I made a cupcake chart to reward their positive bedtime manners. If you can stay in bed and be quiet during rest time and bed time, you get a sticker. Once you get 10 (it was going to be 20 but thet may take months) you get a cupcake! They both have blankets and dolls that they LOVE to sleep with. If they get out of bed and scream, they get a warning. Next, they lose their cupcake sticker, then a blanket or a doll or something they want to keep in their bed. So far, all of these tactics combined have helped with the bedtime manners.

Problem: I have to stay in their room until they are almost asleep, and the storm is calm, or there will be chaos.
Solution: Unfortunately, I’m still in this stage. I do stay in their room, on the floor, to make sure they stay in bed, are not screaming and not tackling each other. I do leave when they are not completely asleep, but very drowsy. I give them both a kiss, tell them good night, say I love you, and leave the room. I’m hoping with consistency and A LOT of patience, I will be able to leave the room after tucking them in once, but for now, we are hanging in there.

Naps were such a struggle over the past 7 months, that really, we just gave up. We have had a miraculous break though in the past week, where they have napped 6 out of the 7 days. I know they are not going to nap every day, and that’s okay. As long as we are consistent with quiet time, follow the awake hours, and carry on with as much patience as I can muster up at the end of the day, I know things will (hopefully) get easier.

Victory: My girls finally got some Zzzzz’s back!

Cal Elite Kids: The One Stop Shop

I’ve been excited for the girls to turn three because I have wanted to sign them up for gymnastics or dance class. They are old enough to be in a class with just the teacher, and not a mommy and me class, and they are old enough to tell me what they do and do not like, which they happen to be great at!

The mommy and me classes do not always work for a mommy of twins. I could never do the parent and me swim, because I was outnumbered. We tried a parent and me soccer class, but when they knew I was there, one would get clingy and one would get crazy. The mommy and me gymnastics was hard, because while I was helping one, the other one was probably jumping off the highest balance beam she could find. Mommy and me classes typically equaled stress for Mommy.

Finally, they could be in a class, that they picked themselves, and I had the opportunity to sit back, relax, and enjoy watching them do something they love.

We stumbled upon a wonderful facility, Cal Elite Kids, in Rancho Santa Margarita, that offers a variety of programs including dance, gymnastics, swimming, tumbling, preschool and so much more! They also allow you to try your first class for free, which was magnificent!

First we tried gymnastics. My girls are balls of energy, so I was certain this would be the class they would choose. They were in the Tumblebees program, which is a 45-minute class designed for 2.5 to 4 year olds. It was absolutely adorable and I was pretty sure the deal was sealed when they saw the long trampoline they got to run across! But of course, I wanted to give them the opportunity to try the dance class before we made a decision.

So we did a trial class of preschool dance. They were in the Twirly Bees class, another 45-minute class designed for 2.5-4 year olds. The dance class started off with ballet. It was super cute, but I was still sure the trampoline from gymnastics would win their vote. Then, they got to put on tap shoes. Contest over. Dance wins. Shoes, that make music, on the floor? They were over the moon excited. All they want to do is wear their tap shoes now.

We also did a trial class of preschool swimming. The Waterbugs class is a 30-minute class designed for 2.5 to 4 year olds. There is a 4:1 student / teacher ratio in the class. They are introduced to age appropriate skills, that will progressively teach them how to swim.

Cal Elite Kids is fabulous and the prices are definitely competitive which is super important when you’re paying for two! It’s your one stop shop for classes, open gym, and yes, even parent’s night out!

Every Saturday night, parent’s night out is offered for children ages 3 and up, who are fully potty trained. You can drop them off from 5:30 – 9:30 p.m. for $22 per child or 5:30 – 11:30 p.m. for $32 per child! If you haven’t had a night out in a while, here’s your opportunity, and you know your kids will be having a ball while you are gone!

We are so glad we found Cal Elite Kids and look forward to watching our girls faces light up with excitement, every time we walk in their front door!

Cal Elite Kids
22982 Avenida Empresa
Rancho Santa Margarita, CA. 92688
Ph. (949) 589-1512
http://calelite.com

 

The Ultimate Preschooler Birthday Party

First of all…how is it even possible, that the girls just turned 3? I am completely baffled by that number. It seems like just yesterday I was holding two 5 pound babies in my arms!

Moving on…I think I may have found the ultimate, preschool-aged, birthday party venue!

This past weekend, the girls celebrated their 3rd birthday, with 14 of their friends, at Pump It Up in Lake Forest. The party was private, so the kids had the entire place to themselves for two hours!

What could be better than throwing a fabulous birthday party, at a super fun place to play, where jumping is allowed, screams and giggles are welcome, pictures can be taken for you, it was completely stress-free and best of all, you get to leave the mess behind!

There are several different packages to choose from when booking your party, which can be done online, over the phone, or in person. 

We went with the deluxe package for 15 kids, which included access to the exclusive, Pump It Up invitation system (making evites a breeze), 80 minutes of private play (40-minutes in each arena), 2 slices of pizza per child, bottled water for each child (you also have the option of soda or juice), set-up, clean-up, paper goods, party photos, and amazing hosts! All we needed to bring was the cake!

40 minutes in Arena 1:

40 Minutes in Arena 2

40 Minutes in the Party Room

There are several other options you could add to your package if you choose, including additional party food (or you can bring your own approved food and beverages), party experiences (Go Glow!, Pirate Quest, Super Hero Training Quest, Boppin Balloon Bash), goodie bags and more!

Some important things to consider before booking your party, for safety reasons, children under 34″ are not permitted on the inflatables. Everyone who plays on the inflatables, must wear socks. Adults can play too!! In fact, I have had so many parents make the comment, “I’m not sure who had more fun, the kids or adults!” and I couldn’t agree more!

We had such a fun time celebrating the girls’ birthday, that I would highly recommend checking out your nearest Pump It Up, to celebrate your little one’s next birthday bash! 

Pump It Up Irvine 16871 Noyes Ave, Irvine
(949)261-7867
Pump It Up
Lake Forest
26242 Dimension Drive, Suite 100, Lake Forest
(949)951-9663
Pump It Up
Huntington Beach
16351 Gothard St Suite C, Huntington Beach
(714)847-9663
Pump It Up Anaheim Hills 5397 E. Hunter Ave, Anaheim Hills
(714)693-9663