Candle light dinner

No this is not a post about a romantic evening. This is about getting your toddlers to eat. Our latest success formula starts with candle light! Read and learn peeps, hopefully this trick can be used on all toddlers 😉

As the days were getting darker due to winter times I decided it was time to light candles more often. I also thought it was a good idea to make the boys a bit more aware of fire and especially the dangers of it, as many people we visit in winter have candles in their houses. So I put two candles on the dinner table and explained our boys about their use and dangers.

They were mesmerised. Not specifically by the pretty flickering light, but mainly by the idea that they could blow it out. Of course I did not want them to do this yet, I had just lit the candles. So I said they could blow out the candles, one each, after they finished their dinner.

This resulted in them eating quicker than I’ve ever seen. Their plates were clean before I had the first bite of my dinner. Wow! Of course I kept my promise and they could blow out a candle each. It was not easy, as they had hardly ever done this, but they managed. Next day the same happened. And the next. And the next.

It  has been weeks now and every day they finish their dinner in order to be allowed to blow out a candle. Nothing makes them happier, they even ask for candles at lunch now haha.They have gotten really good at it too and it only takes a few blows before they succeed. So when they will turn three later this year, they can actually blow out the candles on their birthday cake, another bonus. And they behave very carefully around the candles, are very aware of its danger.

So all in all this was a great win. But the biggest bonus of course is a relatively hassle free dinner with two toddlers.

Parent hacks for the kitchen: my best helpers

Shops sell many gadgets that are supposed to make a mothers ‘life easier. In hindsight many women admit that a lot of those gadgets were not much of a help at all. Some things however, are a life safer and really help out. Like the Roomba I mentioned in an earlier post.

In this post I want to share the kitchen items that have helped me a lot these past years.

    • First item on the list is something you need from day one: a microwave bottle sterilizer. Because boiling teats and pacifiers in hot water is really time consuming. And even when you breastfeed you may have to supplement (especially with twins this can happen) and need a bottle once in a while. Or when you pump your milk, so your partner can bottle feed while you rest. You can also throw in plastic teething toys btw.

    • Second item would be a steamer or a steamer basket for the microwave. Never before have vegetables and potatoes been ready so quickly. Ideal when you start with the first solids, but also 2 years later for quick and healthy family meals. I actually have a microwave oven with steamer function. Very happy with that choice.

    • Air fryer. I admit, I have had this gadget for many years and was already happy with it before the twins arrived. But many years later this still is my favourite kitchen item. No fats, very quick and perfect fries! Or anything else potato related. Even meat can be made in it without the use of extra fat. And another bonus, no smells, so the air fryer is also great if you live in a small apartment or have an open kitchen.

  • Latest addition to my kitchen favourites: a soup maker. I love soup but I find it quite time consuming to make. The soup maker does all the work. Just shop up fresh vegetables, add water and spices and 20 minutes later you have 1,2 litres of fresh soup. The twins love it and so do I. Also ideal for leftover veggies and potatoes. Just throw them in the soup maker and 30 minutes later the kids eat the soup without noticing they’re eating yesterdays dinner after all ;).


What is your favourite kitchen aid? Please share!

Hidden fruit

Hidden fruit..

Autumn brings the best winter fruit: mandarin oranges. The boys love them and quickly learned to peel them themselves. If they don’t want to eat their breakfast in the morning, I know I can get them to eat at least something by giving them their new favourite fruit.

So I was quite surprised when I came home this morning, after dropping them at school, to find two only half eaten mandarin oranges, hidden in their toys.
Cheeky little ones. Had they been fooling me all along? No, that was not possible, I have seen them devour this fruit many times.
They probably got distracted and then forgot, I reasoned. So I grabbed the fruit and put a piece in my mouth. JAIKS. It was the sourest mandarin orange I have ever tasted. No wonder they left it…

The twin shopping trolley

I first heard about twin-shopping-trolleys in a Facebookgroup for twin moms in the Netherlands. More and more moms seem to have asked their local supermarket for one and all over the Netherlands they appeared in the supermarkets. Sadly nothing like this ever happens in the customer-unfriendly supermarkets of Brussels.
So when I visited the Netherlands I was so glad to actually spot a twin trolley and use it before the boys will be too big. I really loved it!

So a big THANK YOU to all the Dutch supermarkets making the life of twin moms easier.

(Our boys liked it a lot but actually prefer walking around the supermarket themselves now…)

The feeding logbook

Our first months with the twins were completely exhausting. Our whole day revolved around feeding them, changing their nappies and sleeping, especially sleeping. Their sleeping I mean, don’t count on getting anything more than three hours in a row yourself.

a page from our logbook

With 7-8 feedings per child, so sixteen in total, the difference between day and night completely disappeared those first months. The only thing that endured was the question: what do they need?
As our sleep deprivation got worse, we quickly realised we needed some way to keep track of what we were doing to whom. I breastfed the twins but we supplemented with expressed milk and formula. I often was so sleepy I had no idea who I had fed when. My husband helped out as much as he could, so we had a lot of half asleep conversations to establish what had and had not happened.
We both realised quickly this was not working, so we started keeping a logbook of things. Just a simple chart.

with the boys’ names, the time they had been fed last and which milk they had had, how much they had had etc.. With one glance at the book we knew if the twin that was awake was already in need of more milk or if it could be something else. This made life a lot easier. No more remembering, just writing things down and looking it up.
When we both realised neither of us could not remember if we had changed any poopy diaper in the last days, we added a nice poopy drawing to our log whenever a baby had done a number 2 to make sure all the milk was going down smoothly.
After about seven months we could quit using the logbook (due to less feedings, not due to more sleep and more memory function sadly…) and I started using it as a log of their activities, accomplishments and behaviour.
When I l read back in the book now and see those first pages I can’t imagine anymore how we did it. I guess you just go with the flow. Sleep is for babies anyway.

© Carien Touwen 2017

Family dinners… usually cold

Since the boys turned one we have always tried to have dinner together. I like the idea that a family has at least one moment each day to sit together, share a meal and tell their stories. In theory this sounds great, the practise with small children means that the parents usually eat a cold dinner. In the beginning we would just feed the boys first and then dish up our own food, while they were babbling and messing around with their yoghurt.
But once they were around 20 months they ate quite well by themselves and we actually could all eat together. This is when the boys discovered additions like mayonnaise and gravy (more sauce mommy please) and salt and pepper (I want to shake it mommy!).
Let’s pretend there were never tantrums (I don’t like it mommy, want to play mommy, meh mommy, meh) and say these were lovely times of blissful warm family dinners.
The age of two/ two-and-a-half brought different times again. Mainly due to potty training and the fact that they sit on trip-trap chairs now and can get on and off by themselves.
Before dinner there is always the battle of washing hands. But now we have added going to the loo to that, so it takes forever to get them to be ready for dinner.
One of our boys is already potty-trained and has discovered he gets to walk away from the table whenever he says he needs to do a pipi. As happy as I am to have him nappy-free, the undesirable side-effect is that my dinner once more is going cold due to countless visits to the bathroom. Our other son is about to discover this as well, we have already had some fights about who gets to sit on which toilet or potty so there are many more cold meals to follow. Maybe I should start making salads more often…

© Carien Touwen 2017

The hospital bag – some advice

After week 30 of your (twin-)pregnancy it is time to get your hospital bag ready. It may sound a bit early, but trust me, it’s better to have it prepared. You never know when you have to go.
Usually hospitals provide you with a list of things to bring and a lot of these items are very logical. First of all: think of your ID-document, to register you in the hospital.
Of course you need to bring your chosen ‘first’ clothes for your baby’s, but also important, little hats, socks and body’s and warmer clothes to bring them home in. In Belgium, hospitals will provide you with the other firsts, like nappies, cream etc. So no need to pack those.
Then of course you need to pack your own stuff like toiletries, clean underwear, breast feeding bra’s and pyjamas.

My advice; please make sure your pyjamas fit this description:
– loose and wide fit, so it will not hurt anywhere it already hurts
– big enough so it will cover everything if you need to wander the hallways
– buttons at the top for easy breast feeding
– pretty enough so you can wear them receiving the first visitors ( if you care about that stuff)
– pretty enough to be seen with in the first pictures (if you care about that stuff)

These are all the necessities that the hospital will mention, but I urge you to add the following to this list:
I am not joking. Hospital food is crap and a natural delivery can take a long time. The hospital will not feed you in the delivery room, instead they hang the scary thought of emergency C-section over your head and in the meanwhile you have absolutely no energy to do what needs to be done. (making that C-section more likely to happen I think…)
So please bring energy bars, chocolate cookies, bread sticks etc. and anything else that fits in your bag. If you don’t need it during the delivery be grateful and it will still come in handy when you realise, in the days after, that hospital food is never sufficient. I am talking from experience here, I had my partner bring me fast-food every evening I spend in the hospital to silence my ever growling tummy.


PS. And for those of you who are pregnant now: please don’t worry about a prolonged hospital stay! If that happens there will be loads of time to get other things you may need there. Your partner can bring it and so can visiting family. So don’t look for troubles that are not there, take it one day at the time and prepare that bag so you don’t have to think about it anymore.

© Carien Touwen 2017