Angela Amman

Chatting about Multiples Illuminated

anthologiesWhen I was pregnant with Dylan, I distinctly remember thinking about how I’d sync his nap schedule with Abbey’s. Her nap schedule basically consisted of working very hard for over an hour to get her to sleep for approximately 30 minutes, but I still clung to the idea of 30 minutes of child-free time a day.

She dropped her nap completely just about a month before he was born.

Children don’t care all that much about their parents’ plans for child-free time and — in my experience — it got even more hit-or-miss when we added our second child to the mix. Some parents, though, add kids to the mix more than one at a time, and I remain a little in awe of parents of multiples. Twins, triplets, or more, welcoming more than one baby into your home at one time can’t be an easy task.

Multiples Illuminated: A Collection of Stories and Advice From Parents of Twins, Triplets and More is a compelling collection of stories from writers and parents of multiples, as well as expert advice that is a must-have for all parents and grandparents of multiples. It dives deep into the world of raising multiples with beautiful stories and helpful advice. In it, you will find essays on infertility help and hope; finding out and coping with a multiples pregnancy; stories of labor and delivery; stories from the NICU; breastfeeding best practices for multiples; and surviving the infant and toddler stages.

I asked the editors of Multiples Illuminated a few questions, both about the anthology and about the joys and challenges of parenting multiples.

1. Why did you decide to put together the Multiples Illuminated anthology?

Megan: I have seen many beautiful anthologies published the past few years and have been fortunate to be a part of a few of them as an essayist. One day while I was out shopping with my husband I had an AHA moment: there should  be an anthology for multiple parents from multiple parents and I need to make it happen. When I was pregnant with triplets I scoured the Amazon virtual shelves in search of books to help me through the unique process of carrying, delivering and raising triplets. I only found a few books to help me. I would’ve really appreciated a book like Multiples Illuminated when I was pregnant, and I love that we have it now. Creating this book with Alison has truly been a dream fulfilled.

2. How does Multiples Illuminated differ from other parenting books, particularly other books about raising multiples?

Multiples Illuminated is not a “how-to” book although we do have an advice section for each of the chapters covering infertility and trying to conceive, pregnancy, labor and delivery, NICU and the first years. The advice we give is based on our personal experiences, sharing what worked for us. The stories are honest and although personal to each writer. They are universal in the experiences they share, and lessons they learned. It’s more of a “Come take a peek into real life with multiples” rather than “Here’s how you do it.”

3. What’s one thing about raising multiples that you’ve experienced that you never would have expected?

Alison: How much people LOVE twins! Everywhere we go, the twins get attention – of the good kind. People are genuinely interested in and fascinated by multiples.

Megan: How much I would enjoy watching the close bond my triplets have. It is truly a beautiful relationship. I agree with Alison- people love multiples! It’s pretty fun.

4. What’s one benefit to having two newborns at one time? One drawback?

Alison: Watching them together. Just marveling at the fact that there are TWO. When my twins were little, they always found their way to each other when they were sleeping. Sitting side by side, they’d reach out for each other’s hands. Now that they are toddlers, watching talk to each other and play (and fight!) together, it’s a joy. The drawback of having more than one newborn is that there is only one of you. Spouses and family members are great to fall back on but ultimately, there is only one YOU.

Megan: The benefit is harder to realize when they are newborns – more obvious as they become toddlers and beyond when they can play together. The drawback to having three newborns at once is – do I even need to say it (LOL)? Up for hours in the middle of the night. Feeding three babies. Blasting through 15 diapers a day. Trying to soothe three babies at once. Newborn triplets is a challenge to say the least.

5. What’s one misconception about twins or triplets you haven’t found to be true with your little ones?

We don’t know if there are misconceptions about multiples. If people think having twins, triplets or more to be difficult – it’s true, yes, it is. Every stage is challenging. If people think having multiples must be fun – it’s true. It is fun. It’s amazing. It’s joyful. It’s a blessing. If people think having more than one child at a time to be noisy – YES, YES IT IS.

6. What advice would you give to families just starting their journey of parenting multiples?

Be prepared! Do your research: read (a book like Multiples Illuminated!), connect with other multiples families online (join our Facebook community) and offline. Talk to your healthcare provider about any concerns regarding your pregnancy, birth plan and the early days.

Ask for help and gladly accept offers to help. Having meals stocked in your fridge or laundry done is a great relief. Allowing grandparents, aunts and uncles cuddle time with the babies mean you can take a breather (or a shower). Lean on your partner. Night feeds with multiples is no joke!

Whether you’re the parent of multiples, have a friend with multiples, or simply enjoy reading parenting stories, you won’t want to miss this collection of essays!

Amazon (paperback and Kindle)

Barnes & Noble (Nook)

iBooks

Kobo

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The Science of Parenthood — and holiday shopping advice

I’m thrilled to bring you a little sneak peek of what you’ll find in Science of Parenthood: Thoroughly Unscientific Explanations for Utterly Baffling Parenting Situations, the hilariously honest book from Norine Dworkin-McDaniel & Jessica Ziegler.

Norine is offering a little insight into what becomes of the holiday-shopping angst we all succumb to — eventually — at this time of year.

Parenting books to make you laugh

The Story Behind Newton’s Third Law of (E)motion
by Norine of Science of Parenthood

This one Christmas a few years back, I really thought I’d nailed it gift-wise, that I’d found the gift to end all gifts. The home run of gift-giving.

My son had just been turned onto Beyblades — those metal-plastic spinning tops with ripcords and an anime TV show on Cartoon Network in which they battle in amphitheaters. There was a constant chorus of “Beyblade! Beyblade! Let ‘em rip!” coming from the TV.

Whatever. I’d been spending bazoodles on Pokemon cards for months when my son declared he was “over” Pokemon and was now “into” Beyblades. Which meant more over-priced plastic crap I’d be begged to buy every time we went to Target. (By the way, if you’re in the market for 1,000 Pokemon cards, DM me. I can totally hook you up.)

But then it was Christmastime, and when I spotted a Beyblade Metal Fury Destroyer Dome on sale at Target, I thought Bingo! I will SO be the hero of Christmas with this. It came with two beyblades to battle inside the plastic dome. Done and done!

Christmas morning, I could barely contain my excitement. I couldn’t wait to see his face light up when he realized he had beyblades of his own. I pictured him, enraptured, spending the rest of the morning, doing battle after battle in the dome.

We always save the REALLY BIG gift for last, and finally, there was just one box left. I handed it to my boy, then watched eagerly as he ripped through the wrapping paper. His eyes widened as he realized there were BEYBLADES! IN THE BOX!!

He turned the box over, and then his face … fell.

“Mom! These aren’t the right beyblades! I wanted …” and he rattled off a slew of names I’d never heard of.

My Christmas joy deflated like a sad balloon. Turns out that smartypants Isaac Newton was right. For every action (buying beyblades with enthusiasm, for instance), there is an equal and opposite reaction (complete and utter disappointment).

From then on, the kiddo got socks. At least that way I’d know he’d be disappointed.

Science of Parenthood

Norine Dworkin-McDaniel is co-author with illustrator Jessica Ziegler of Science of Parenthood: Thoroughly Unscientific Explanations for Utterly Baffling Parenting Situations, published in November by She Writes Press. Find it on Amazon and wherever books are sold. Follow Science of Parenthood on the blog, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Is Science of Parenthood coming to your town? Check out our tour schedule. Want Science of Parenthood to come to your town? Message us!

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Hands Free Life – A review

I’m struggling to write my Hands Free Life review — not because I didn’t love it or don’t think you should read it. I knew I’d adore it before I even cracked the cover, and I believe Rachel Macy Stafford’s words will resonate, in some way, for anyone who reads them.

Hands Free Life

I unequivocally recommend Hands Free Life. Rachel Macy Stafford offers so many tips and suggestions about how to cut through the chaos of our lives and find calmer, kinder, more loving relationships with the people who matter the most to us. She does it with frank conversations about the places she’s misstepped herself and changes she’s implemented, and she does it with a gentle, conversational tone that makes me feel like I’m chatting with a friend.

I’m struggling because I feel guilty it’s taken me so long to write it.

I received my copy this summer, and I read through Hands Free Life quickly, dog-earring pages — one of the things I love so much about owning physical copies of books — and making note of the things on which I wanted to touch during my review. I should have written my review immediately; I know that now.

The release date of HFM coincided with our first day of school this year, and I wanted to wait to write my review until then. I imagined an authentic, real-time look at the intersection of summer and school for our family, the way our looser days would shape into a routine, and how we could work to embrace the routine as a foundation and not look at it as shackles against spontaneity.

Of course, the days leading up to the first day, and the first day itself, and the days following took on a life of their own, breathing and pulsing with lunch requests and figuring out a new drop off and pick up routine with two kids entering the same school through different doors.

I took on three projects at the exact time school started. I desperately wanted each of them, and I’m enjoying the work I’m doing immensely.

Yet as the days fly by, and I hadn’t yet written the review I’d planned, it weighed on my shoulders. Each day that passed added an expectation — set by me — that the review be even stronger, more compelling, more worthy of missing the deadline I’d set for myself.

Then I opened my Notes app, where I’d saved a comment I made on a friend’s Facebook wall.

Hands Free Life review

My shoulders relaxed a little, “… look forward to doing better instead of just feeling bad about what I’ve done in the past.”

For me, that is the essence and the beauty of Hands Free Life.

I make millions of mistakes, bad choices and impatient moments I wish I could change. Reading Hands Free Mama in 2013 provided some guidance about making more deliberate choices in the way I live, and in the way I approach the multitude of things that need to be done. Hands Free Life takes some of the same ideas and expounds on them further, while introducing new ideas about what it means to live and model a Hands Free life for our children.

Living this way isn’t necessarily about eschewing technology or turning off phones or ignoring emails. Stafford’s book offers guidance and reflection practices that recognize the time crunch so many of us face each day. One of the things I appreciate the most is the understanding that small snippets of time can make a huge difference in our own days and the days of the people we love. The “best 10 minutes” and the “six-second challenge” are both things I attempt to incorporate every day to try to give a little more, undivided and undistracted attention to the kids, to Ryan, and to myself.

Hands Free Life review

The framed print sent with my copy of Hands Free Life lives in my kitchen. The book, like Hands Free Mama, is in my office. I reference it often, but I look to the print daily, sometimes to read the actual words and other times as a quick check to myself to notice and live our lives, not just go about the motions of our days.

Today, and many days, these words speak to me: “In our house there is room for mistakes and room to breathe.”

Find a copy of Hands Free Life today. Make room in your life for the good things, and you’ll be thrilled at how many more of them you’ll find. 

Disclosure: I received a copy of Hands Free Mama for consideration for review. All opinions are my own. 

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Finding the right tools

tools for betterYesterday I hung a bulletin board in the playroom. Abbey’s done her homework in various places the last two years: the kitchen table, the island, sprawled across the living room floor. This year, especially since both kids will have homework each week, we’re working on creating a dedicated space for them to devote to schoolwork, studying, and reading.

A few tweaks of furniture we already had — a decently sized table, a couple of shelves, and a couple of chairs — turned one side of the playroom into a homework and reading area. Instead of sitting the kids side by side, like we did when we used the table for crafts, they’re facing each other. Each of them claimed a shelving unit, and they populated their shelves with books, pencil boxes, their magazine holders — and in Dylan’s case a single slipper I’m pretty sure he didn’t want to take back upstairs.

The wall stretched above their desk, empty, and I reluctantly climbed the stairs to my still-a-mess office to grab the bulletin board I’d planned on painting and using as a vision board. Unwrapping the plastic, I checked the hanging instructions to see what I’d need.

After a quick — and unanswered — text to Ryan, I dug through the tool area to find a drill, a level, a tape measure, some tape, and a hammer. Dylan expressed doubt about my ability to use the drill, which was a little infuriating since I’ve put together the majority of our IKEA furniture, if not much else in terms of construction.

With the tools I needed spread out on the desk, I checked measurements, marked the wall, drilled a few times — I always start with too small of a bit, no matter what the instructions say — and ended up with a perfectly level board centered above their table.

I wouldn’t have had the same result with Dylan’s toy hammer and a few thumbtacks.

When it comes to projects around the house, we take the time to collect the proper tools to do the job at hand. We have various screwdrivers, hammers, power saws and hand saws, tape measures and countless sizes of nails.

We should give ourselves the same advantages when we’re working on our lives.

Goal setting is easy for me. I love the rush of adrenaline accompanying a new project, the unblemished possibilities of a blank page, looking at a calendar and calculating how much I can do within a certain time frame.

self-coaching

Yet my follow-through isn’t always as perfectly framed as my initial surge of productivity. Kerstin Auer and her Tools for Better offers tools for individuals to use to coach themselves into life changes they want to make.

Coaching yourself doesn’t have to be intimidating, and Auer’s conversational tone makes it easy to get started making progress toward your goals. Unsure about your goals or about which ones you want to prioritize this fall? Subscribe to Auer’s newsletter and download the Goals Workbook — for free.

I’m working in the Perspective Workbook right now, which is available at Auer’s shop. One of the main takeaways from this Tools for Better is to pause and evaluate why something is frustrating me or making me feel helpless, angry, or defensive. I appreciate the way Auer connects the emotional aspects of changing something in our lives to the steps we need to take to make those changes.

Tools for Better doesn’t promise to change your life, but the workbooks do offer guidance and exercises about how to keep moving forward when the initial shimmer of a new goal has faded.

How do you keep yourself on track when you’re working toward your goals? Do you give yourself time to reflect and reevaluate? 

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