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Perks of Being a Mom of Multiples

Ask any mom of multiples to describe her life and you’ll get a smattering of responses. One thing is certain though, she is sure to tell you that life with multiples is nothing short of extraordinary. True, life with multiples can be chaotic, messy, and down right tough at times, but as a mom of multiples there’s something wonderfully beautiful about getting to experience it all with double, triple, and sometimes even more the love!
Here, in no particular order, are just some of the countless reasons why being a MoM is one of the greatest gigs:

 

  • Listening to the ever-popular “twin talk” and secret language multiples develop that only they understand is quite entertaining!
  • Watching the bond of friendship among them unfold is magical! And even better, they have a built in playmate!
  • Getting to dress them in matching/coordinating outfits and Halloween costumes is, let’s face it, fun!
  • We know what the word “singleton” means…and we use it!
  • Tackling something like nap time or venturing out with your multiples alone feels like a huge accomplishment!
  • It’s hysterical watching them giggle and make each other laugh!
  • Having an ultra sound done every two weeks, sometimes even more, is a huge perk during pregnancy!
  • The teammate bond with our significant other is sometimes stronger because, let’s be honest, he’s often times a second mom-up for feedings, helping with baths, changing diapers, etc…!
  • Watching each of our multiples grow and develop as individuals is rewarding!
  • We get to experience DOUBLE, TRIPLE, (sometimes more!) of the giggles, snuggles and love!
  • The attention we get out in public is actually gratifying, especially when we make having multiples look like a piece of cake!
  • Learning and discovering your strengths as an individual and feeling like SuperMom after a day’s work!
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Upcoming NICU Dine and Donate Fundraiser!

Moms of Multiples of the Lehigh Valley is organizing a Dine and Donate fundraiser in conjunction with World Prematurity Day to raise money for our local Neonatal Intensive Care Units (NICUs) at LVH and St Luke’s.
On November 17th, the Texas Roadhouse in Trexlertown will donate 10% of pre-tax sales (including take out AND gift cards!) when you mention MMLV. We will also host a raffle with great prizes donated by local businesses and MMLV members from 6-9pm to raise additional funds for the NICUs. 100% of all proceeds will go directly to LVH and St Luke’s!
Spread the word and support a great cause!

 

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Getting Out and About With Your Multiples

playground

The summer my twins were born, I remember that my husband and I tried so hard to get out of the house and give my older son an opportunity to run around and breathe fresh air. Sometimes we set up a pack n’ play in the shade of a tree when I wasn’t walking the babies to sleep in their stroller. Then we graduated to laying on a blanket in the shade and playing with books and toys while the park bustled around us. Suddenly, and seemingly overnight, my twins started to crawl and then walk. And once everyone was mobile, it got really interesting. The challenge is no longer as simple as getting everyone out of the house, but now it’s keeping multiple kids safe and in sight, and managing to rally the troops when it’s time to leave. Sometimes it’s as easy as avoiding the places that you know will be too difficult to take multiples, and sometimes it involves gear, distraction, planning and reinforcements.

My stroller has been my savior, and I swear I will run it into the ground. It has a sturdy canopy, which means that when I grocery shop with the kids I can buy as much as I can stack on top. Certainly double seat grocery carts can get the job done, but finding one while hauling around multiples can take time. In addition, I love that my stroller has a snack and cup tray, which usually means I avoid having food and drinks tossed on the floor. I also use the stroller or a wagon to wrangle my twins when we get out of the car and when it’s time to head home. I don’t think there will ever be a time that I feel safe with them exiting the car in a parking lot, so getting strapped into a stroller helps. At departure time, I can catch one child and then the other. As many parents know, it’s not easy to get one kid to leave an activity, let alone two or more. A stroller or wagon can at least keep them safe and in place while other children and gear are gathered. Other than a stroller, some moms like to use the leashes disguised as cute, fuzzy animal backpacks. This is a good option if you know your child won’t sit happily in a stroller or if you are going somewhere crowded.

I have also fallen into the habit of using the occasional bribe to get my children to cooperate when we are out on an errand or when we have to leave a fun activity. Everyone will have a different opinion on the subject of bribes, so it is really up to the adult to decide if bribes fall within his or her comfort level and parenting philosophy. I try to keep the bribe something small, and it also helps if it is something that I am willing to give or want to give. A snack that occurs around normal snack time might be a great incentive to get the kids to leave the park or remain occupied in the grocery store. The promise of a fun activity later in the day may also work. However, you have to be willing to not give the reward if you don’t get the desired behavior or action. For example, using a playdate that is already on the calendar as a bribe and not being willing to cancel it upon failure of cooperation is not going to work. These are the types of situations that I dread the most, but (in theory!) things get easier if the kids know you mean business. As an alternative to bribery, some moms have suggested bringing a special toy along that the children only get when you are out running errands. If the toy or coloring pad is seen infrequently, it should help to hold the child’s interest.

Planning an outing with multiples means that I need to get all my ducks in a row before I head out the door. I always do an assessment of the best places to go based on my ability to keep the kids safe and in sight. Sometimes I know that I need help, and that’s when I recruit a friend or family member to go along. Going on a small grocery run can be less nerve-wracking if a family member is willing to push a separate cart with a child. If your kids will behave sitting side-by-side in their stroller, then mastering the art of pulling a shopping cart behind you can eliminate the need for another adult. Potty training brings about its own complications, so having a friend or family member who can watch the other children will make the “Mommy, I have to pee!” moments less hectic.

Tricks suggested by other moms include dressing your children in matching clothing or brightly-colored clothing. A neon orange shirt won’t be hard to miss streaking across the playground. Also, giving your children plenty of warning for when it’s time to leave can help avoid a meltdown and encourage cooperation. Let them know when they have 15 minutes, 10 minutes, 5 minutes, etc. Lay out clear guidlelines for the behavior you expect, how long you plan to stay, and the consequences for noncompliance. If you think there is a good chance someone will need a potty break while you are out it might be a good idea to keep a travel potty in your car. You have to know your own comfort level and whether or not you can take all the children into a public restroom at the same time. Basically, it comes down to knowing yourself, your children, and your environment. Going somewhere new can be more challenging, but that is why we have such a great community of Moms of Multiples – ask questions and get answers about other people’s experiences! There is never enough time in the day and things need to get done, so get out there and don’t be afraid to ask for help.

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Summer Fun For the Whole Family!

Beach SummerNow that warmer weather has settled in and schools are out for the summer, busy families are out and about enjoying the sunshine. There are so many places to explore, making the days seem to fly by! Summer brings picnic and pool season, outdoor farmers markets, fairs and festivals. With a little information and imagination, you can make this a memorable summer for your little ones.

For kids in motion, parks all across the Lehigh Valley provide free fun. For something a little different, I like visiting the Bob Rodale Cycling and Fitness park in Trexlertown where my kids can play in a giant sandbox or ride around the tricycle trail. The setup works well for moms who have to keep an eye on multiple children. Family walks are another great way to burn up energy. Hiking trails abound, although I’m a fan of the Lehigh Parkway where a walk, run or bike ride can end with a visit to the Li’l-Le-Hi Trout Nursery to feed the fish. The Lehigh Parkway is also home to the Lehigh Valley Road Runners kids race series, which is free to children ages 3-14.

Swimming is a summer favorite, whether you have your own pool or join a community pool. If managing multiples around water seems tricky, then a day pass may be a better investment than a season pass, and you can bring extra help. Splash pads are a great alternative, especially for moms watching several kids. Bucky Boyle park and Fifth & Allen Street park feature motion-activated spray parks. Moms looking for a caffeine fix can let their kids enjoy the free pop jets at the Promenade Shops, located next to the Starbucks. Personally, I want to check out the splash pad at the Boyertown Community Pool. It’s situated next to a great little playground for kids and an athletic trail.

This year, I signed my older son up for summer camp at his preschool. He loved it so much, I wish there were more dates to choose from. You can usually find a summer camp based on your child’s interests and abilities, from theater to sports to wildlife. The Wildlands Conservancy offers some very hands-on nature camps. The Da Vinci Science Center summer camps will also spark imagination and learning.

Amusement parks offer an experience like no other, especially for those of you with fearless and adventurous children. Some of the favorites within driving distance include Sesame Place, Dutch Wonderland, Dorney Park (featuring Planet Snoopy for the little ones), and Knoebels Amusement Resort. Other than the family vacation, amusement parks may be one of summer’s more expensive outings. Parks like Knoebels can save you money with free parking and admission – you can even bring your own lunch. Also, choosing a Pay-One-Price plan or just paying for each ride individually can help you save.

Sports enthusiasts can enjoy watching their local teams live in outdoor venues this summer. The Reading Fightin Phils and the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs make a fun outing for the whole family. The Valley Preferred Cycling Center not only offers child and adult cycling classes, but on Friday nights throughout the summer you can watch professionals in the World Series of Bicycling (and admission is free for children under 12!).

Summer activities for the kids don’t have to cost a penny! Most local libraries, and even Barnes & Noble, have summer reading programs. Many cities and townships hold free summer concerts, including Allentown, Emmaus and Bethlehem. Some also have a free Movies in the Park series, with kid-friendly events leading up to movie time. The Promenade Shops at Saucon Valley hosts a free summer concert series, and the Carmike Cinemas located there has a summer kids movie series ($4 for a ticket, small popcorn and small drink is nearly free considering regular prices!). You can get creative and have a picnic lunch in a park, hold a scavenger hunt, or camp out in your own backyard. Whatever you plan, give your children lots of fresh air and variety, and you’ll never have to hear that they’re bored.

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Shop our Consignment Event on July 25th!!

MMLV is excited to announce that we are organizing our first consignment event!  The event will be held at Lehigh Valley Sporting Clays (just 5 miles north of Allentown) on Saturday July 25th from 9-11am.  Our sale is open to the public and we hope you will stop by and shop!

We will have Fall and Winter kids clothing (newborn – 6T), baby equipment, toys, maternity clothing, and more!  CASH ONLY

Please plan to bring only an umbrella stroller or baby carrier for any little helpers

If you have any questions, please feel free to send us a message through our website or look us up on Facebook (www.facebook.com/momlv)

Hope to see you there!  As moms of multiples, we will have A LOT of items for sale 🙂
MMLV Consignment Sale_001

 

 

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New! MMLV Coffee and Conversation at Panera

For any MoMs who have wanted to check out MMLV, but have not been able to make it to one of our monthly meetings, please consider joining us at the Panera in Trexlertown on Sunday, June 28th at 11am for our first (of what we hope will be bi-monthly) Coffee & Conversation get-together.  If you need advice, need to vent, or just want to get out of the house for a bit, this is the perfect opportunity to meet other MoMs from our group (and get an extra caffeine boost!).

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Birthday Party Ideas for Multiples

Birthday  BalloonsPlanning a birthday party can be a fun and creative process, or an overwhelming process, when you add multiples to the picture. When the children are younger, it may feel like you are getting away with something to have a two (or three, or four, etc.) for one birthday party. Once the children get older and have different groups of friends from school, they may want to invite even more friends or have separate celebrations. As the parent, you get to set the ground rules for how elaborate and expensive the party gets, but you can’t always control how many friends your children dream of inviting. So work out a plan from the beginning to go large or stay small, and many of your other party decisions will flow from that guest list.

The location of your party will depend on a few factors, such as number of guests, weather, and party budget. It might be possible to hold a large family and friends party at your home in the summer, when you can spread the festivities outdoors, but not during the winter months. If you don’t have the budget to hold a party at another location, then you probably have to limit the number of guests and account for the parents of young children who will stay at the party. Parents who don’t want the craziness and cleanup attached to a large party with lots of children should research local kid-friendly venues. I just had my son’s 5th birthday party at Bounce U because he was so excited to invite all of his classmates, and I thought the process was fairly easy on my end. Many places you can take your children for open tumble also book birthday parties. In my personal opinion, your money is better spent on this kind of option when your children are old enough to run around without constant supervision and can follow directions. You may get out of party cleanup, but you’ll be exhausted if you have to chase around multiple children in a large, crowded setting.

After picking a location and narrowing down (or expanding!) your guest list, you may want to pick a theme for your party. Themes can be simple or they can dictate everything you do for the party, including the food you serve and what your children wear. If you would like to keep things on the simple side, consider just picking a color theme. You can choose one color for each child and get decorations, invitations and a cake to match. The ever popular baby shower theme of peas in a pod can make a comeback for your multiples’ 1st birthday. Perhaps your multiples are really into a TV show or character. Popular twin character themes include Minnie and Mickey and Thing 1 and Thing 2 (or add Thing 3 for triplets!).There are also plenty of boy/girl twin themes that don’t focus on a specific character, such as Ties and Tutus or Princesses and Knights. Amazon and Etsy have an array of supplies, like invitations, onesies, party hats, bibs and decorations, that can supplement what you find in stores.

The cake is always something my children look forward to the most. They love having friends and family sing the birthday song, blowing out the candles, and eating nothing but the frosting. But a cake isn’t the only way to go. Cupcakes, cake pops, or giant cookies are always options. If you go with a traditional cake, you also have to decide on whether to do one large cake for your multiples to share, have smaller cakes decorated for each child, or have a cake for guests and tiny smash cakes for your multiples. Creative cake decorators can find ways to combine more than one theme on a cake. If each of your children likes a totally different cake flavor or frosting, however, then consider ordering a cake or dessert to suit each child’s preference. Keep in mind that if you are hosting a party at another location, you may have to order the cake through that business, which limits your choices.

There is no singular right way to throw a birthday bash for your multiples; every family and circumstance makes the process different. If you are creative and have the resources, then go all out with a themed party. If your budget and space are limited, then your multiples will feel special with a small family celebration. The most important ingredient in a good birthday party is love, and you can provide this for your children no matter how many people attend or what finger foods you serve.

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The Cure for Cabin Fever

Cabin Fever Image

The other day I was preparing to leave the house with my twins when my little guy looked up at me and asked, “McDonalds?”. I replied that we had to pick his older brother up from school.
R: “I love McDonalds.”
Me: “Do you love Mommy?”
R: “No…I love McDonalds.”
I think to myself, “are we in the middle of another winter rut?” How many times had my husband and I bought coffee at McDonalds, or bought the kids a milkshake at Chick-fil-a, so the three kids could run around and get the crazies out? Trust me, if the thermometer hits anything close to 40 degrees, with sunshine and little to no wind, we will find a way to be outside. However, this winter isn’t blessing us with many of those days. Now I’m wondering about other activities I can do with my kids in the Lehigh Valley and surrounding areas, or things we can do at home, to bring some fun (and sanity) to these cold and bleary days.

I started racking my brain, checking the Internet and asking my wonderful group of moms from MMLV for input. We are lucky in this day and age that if we want quick information on what to do and where to go, we can find it with an Internet connection and a few keystrokes. I kept noticing likes on Facebook for Lehigh Valley’s Find & Go Seek. Other mothers have confirmed that they find great information here for activities to do with their kids. Other online sources for kid-friendly activities include Kutztown to Allentown Macaroni Kid and LehighValleyKidsGuide.com. Sometimes coupons are included for activities and events, which is helpful to any mom, especially those with more than one child.

Many parents choose to enroll their children in sports camps or other physical activities burn off energy, learn teamwork and develop skills. We signed my older son up for basketball and floor hockey through Stretch-n-Grow’s All-Star Sports Program last winter, and this year he started karate. If your goal is to get your kids out of the house to run around, minus the structure, other options exist in the Valley. Bounce U offers Preschool Playtime and All-Ages Open Bounce, where kids can jump on and slide down giant inflatables. At East Penn Children’s Fitness Academy, kids can play on a variety of gymnastic and climbing equipment. The large trampoline, ball pit, and ride on toys are very popular. Pre-K and Kindergarten aged children can run around and get wild during Elite Kids Open Gym at the Elite Sports Academy. Then there’s Toddler Open Play at Game Time Field House or Lunch Time Fun Time at Force Sports Academy. Where you go most likely depends on where you live, the ages of your children, and how much you are willing to spend per child. Each location has their own website with a calendar of events and contact information.

I also like the idea of going out to eat and then having an activity to do in the same location. When we are tired of cooking at home, sometimes we pack up the kids and go to Rascal’s Food and Fun. After our meal, we can spend $10 to $15 on a game card and let the kids run around. All the kids love skeeball, although no one has perfected any kind of technique, and sometimes the twins will just sit on the racing games or jump on Dance Dance Revolution as though we actually paid to play. Parents of older kids who can learn to roll a ball straight could try a meal and bowling at Revolutions in Bethlehem. Or the location itself can be the source of entertainment. One mom of twins says that she takes her children to Panera to watch the bakers. With a couple of fresh treats, small toys and coloring books, an hour can easily pass. Some moms combine shopping, eating and entertainment at the Allentown Farmer’s Market or Wegman’s. Children can get a snack or meal and have plenty of people and activity to watch. By planning ahead, you can make or print out papers for scavenger hunts to help the kids stay focused, and you have the added benefit of accomplishing an errand.

If you want to engage your children’s intellectual and curious sides, you can plan a fun day-trip to several local and within driving distance locations. Car and truck enthusiasts can plan a visit to America on Wheels, which has free admission for children 5 and under, or the Mack Truck Museum. The Da Vinci Science Center in Allentown can encourage your little scientists to think, explore and ask questions, while your younger kids have access to a preschool room. At the Crayola Factory in Easton, your kids can create their own markers and personalize their own crayon label. This attraction boasts an 85-foot water table, which is a working lock and canal system. Seeing how crayons are made is just one of the many activities; there are several unique arts and crafts experiences throughout the building. If the weather cooperates, the Lehigh Valley Zoo can be a fun outdoor excursion. Their website claims, and other parents have confirmed, that the animals are more active in the colder weather. If your kids are fairly patient on longer trips, you can venture out to the Adventure Aquarium in Camden, NJ, or the Please Touch Museum in Philadelphia. If you are really lucky, and your children can sit still while not strapped into carseats, then you might enjoy story time at your local library, Barnes & Noble or a bookstore like Let’s Play Books in Emmaus.

For anyone with a little budding artist or builder, the Valley features quite a few options for craft projects. Lowe’s offers Build and Grow Clinics on select Saturdays, and Home Depot has free kids workshops on the first Saturday of the month. You just have to check your local store’s website and call or register online. Every Sunday, the Allentown Art Museum has free ArtVentures, where you can visit their in-gallery art carts for special projects. Michael’s in Whitehall has a Kids Club for ages 3 and older. Kids spend half an hour working on a fun art project for only $2. Any moms who frequent Wegman’s can pick up a flyer at the service desk listing all of the month’s activities, including a kids’ story time and art project.

Due to adverse weather conditions, or any of the other obstacles confronting moms of multiples, we often have trouble making it out of the house during winter. I’m sure that many moms have been through the rounds of Play Doh, Legos and Crayola Color Wonder. My indicator that we are truly good and bored is when the Legos morph into tiny footballs, kicked from one end of the room to the other without anyone building a single thing. I really needed input from other moms who know this situation. Suggestions included finding simple craft ideas on Pinterest, building a fort, and having a glow stick dance party. One mom proposed adding glow sticks to empty water bottles to play glow stick bowling. Another brings skating indoors by wrapping wax paper around her kids shoes and securing it with large rubber bands (careful – this is fun but slippery!). Some kids might be excited to help in the kitchen and make rice crispy treats, cupcakes or cookies. They can assist by measuring, mixing, or adding frosting. Getting to play helper in the kitchen may even encourage them to eat a healthier snack or meal that they got to assist in making.

No matter what, the days spent raising multiples will be challenging and unpredictable. Sometimes our efforts at doing a craft activity or leaving the house will be an epic fail, and sometimes they will provide us with great memories and motivation to go for a round two. Sometimes, through good parenting or small miracles, our children listen and we can effortlessly pack them into the car for an adventure, and sometimes we need another adult along for support and constant, hovering supervision. We just have to make it though another winter with our sanity, and those first days of sunny, 40-ish degree weather will be right around the corner! Right now, however, I’m going to look for wax paper and rubber bands.

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MMLV Featured in Lehigh Valley Health Network Annual Generosity Magazine

Moms of Multiples of the Lehigh Valley has just been featured in the Lehigh Valley Health Network’s annual Generosity Magazine!! We are so proud to give back to the community with our NICU Fundraising efforts! Thanks to Wendy Kowalski, NICU Medical Director at LVH, and Melissa Urland, Jennifer Bretz and the Bretz twins Kylie and Zachary, for representing our group at the donation check presentation!!
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