Thursday, January 8, 2015

Breakfast With Santa

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year, especially for little ones sitting on Santa's lap.  Over 30 CCPOM families came to mingle with Santa this year on Saturday December 13.  There was hot cocoa and a variety of baked goods donated by our generous CCPOM members.  In addition to visiting and taking pictures with Santa Claus himself, there was an art project table for the kids which consisted of making candy canes out of beads and pipe cleaners and fun coloring pages.  A huge thank you to the families who donated baked goods and to Emily Getty, Candice Ferris and Jennifer Schofield, for planning and running this event!  
Discussing their Wish List with Santa

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Moms' Holiday Dinner

An Amazing Group of Women.  We hope to see you next year.

Gift Exchange Table
One of the best things about CCPOM is the chance to meet and get reacquainted with other moms, without the kids! Seriously, it's hard to have a conversation when there are multiples around.

Our annual Moms' Holiday Dinner was once again held at Zio Fraedo's Italian Restaurant in Pleasant Hill on December 10th with about 40 of you attending.  CCPOM Moms enjoyed a sit down dinner with appetizers consisting of calamari fritti and fried zucchini, salad, choice of entree (New York Steak, Chicken Toscana, Grilled Salmon or Pasta Primavera) and dessert with coffee or tea.  

We also had our very own cash bar, just for us!  We enjoyed a low-cost gift exchange, which is always fun, especially when you can steal a gift from someone else!  Thank you to Jennifer Scholfield and Emily Getty for hosting this annual event.

Here's an example of a gift from the gift exchange.  Mommy Juice Red Wine with a very cute wine glass with decorative Mom sayings like "Mom's Therapy In Session" and "Do Not Come Closer than Three Feet to Me."  There were lots of bottles of wine, jewelry, and of course Starbucks gift cards.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Bay Area Crisis Nursery (BACN)

In our continuing support for the Bay Area Crisis Nursery, we donated 20 packs of underwear (mostly 3-5 pairs per pack) and 34 packs of socks (2-10 pairs /pack), 6 rolls of wrapping paper and some boxes and 2 tubes of Desitin during our Moms' Holiday Dinner and our Breakfast with Santa.  Thank you CCPOM Members!  As you may know BACN takes in children when their parent(s) are in a crisis and need some time. You can donate directly if you would like. BACN is in need of new Christmas gift wrapping paper, boxes, ribbons, scotch tape, gift boxes, tissue paper, gift bags, etc.  They accept donations 8:00am - 8:00 pm seven days a week.  Please call them if you can help at (925) 685-8052.

Underwear and Socks 

On October 7, CCPOM donated a grand total of $2400 to Bay Area Crisis Nursery. This donation includes money raised from at the 2013 Spring Convention which CCPOM hosted and money raised from our 2014 Spring Bingo Night.  We asked our CCPOM members to vote, and you voted for BACN.  These donations are the result of a huge amount of work from the Convention team, chaired by Heidi Johnson and Karis Coleman-Sink, and last May's Bingo Night hosted by Heather Dupree.  Way to go CCPOM!

"The Bay Area Crisis Nursery, establish 1981 is the only residential crisis nursery in the greater San Francisco Bay Area.  BACN is a PEOPLE helping PEOPLE organization supporting those parents who really want to help themselves.  We believe that seeking help before a child is abused is a positive, proactive parenting skill. Parents learn to recognize situations that lead to loss of control.and place their children in a safe environment while they deal with the crisis.  Our outcomes are whole and healthy families with improved coping and parenting skills, and children free of abuse."  If you are unfamiliar with BACN, we recommend you visit their website.  Their cause will touch your heart!


Allison Buck, Jennifer Martell, Karis Coleman-Sink, Anne Swanson 
(founder Sister Ann Weltz with BACN)
Beth Brown, Lizzy Weiss and Heather Himenes

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Meet our 2014/2015 Co-Presidents

Dawn Bohlmann

Hello! My name is Dawn Bohlmann and I am happy to be serving as your 2014/2015 Co-President.  I feel very fortunate to lead our fabulous club again this year in the role as Co-President with Anne.   In 2012/2013 I was the club’s Northern CA Rep with NCAMOTC, the 2013 Northern California Chapter Convention Committee member, and am currently the club’s NCAMOTC (now Multiples of America) Liaison while also serving as a National Worker in the role of Publicity Coordinator with Multiples of America. 

I took the plunge and joined CCPOM in 2011 right before our twins were born, seeking support and the wealth of knowledge from other parents who had multiples. My son, Sonny and daughter, Campbell, arrived at 35 weeks exactly, weighing in at 6lbs 1oz (Sonny) and 5lbs 1oz (Campbell) on May 17th, 2011Our little family went home in 4 days post-delivery.  They are continually growing into two very energetic, witty, fun-loving  and completely entertaining twins whom I wouldn’t exchange for anything else in the world! 

A little bit about meI am the youngest of 3 children, born into an extensive farming community in Central IL, avid animal lover, outdoor enthusiast and active athlete as soon as I could pick up a ball :)  After a pretty magical childhood and formative years, I ventured onto college, initially majoring in Zoology with a focus in Marine Biology.  However, I ended up graduating with a degree in Recreation, Park and Tourism Administration, loving every minute of my education at Western IL University.  

After graduation, I landed an Internship with Arthur Andersen, which I had hoped would springboard myself into my first real career!  In the end, it was a dead end due to the events of 9/11 and the Enron scandal that ultimately took down Andersen as the top accounting firm interviewing as an entry level employee in a very poor job market, the options were limited.  Luckily, I was able to find a role as a nanny for three lovely ladies under the age of 11 for over a year and a half, spending 4 of those months traveling  to their other homes in Maui and Colorado Springs.  I really enjoyed my time with these girls and their family.  However, I knew that I should dive back into my field of interest and education, so I managed to find a Conference and Events Services Manager position with a conference facility (former railroad magnate's mansion) near my nanny family's house in North Shore, Chicago.  In 2005 I was promoted and transferred to the Bay Area as an opening team member for the Mission Bay Conference Center at the University of California, San Francisco as the Director of Operations.  Within two years, my client (UCSF) valued my expertise and success with the center that I was offered a role directly with the School of Medicine, managing Continuing Medical Education conferences for all walks of health care professionals from around the world.

When I am not working, I enjoy traveling, testing out new restaurants and wines with friends and fellow MOMs, shopping (ha!), serving as the Community Service Relations chair for the Northern California Chapter of Professional Convention Management Association, and socializing my kiddos with their fellow twin friends.

Anne Swanson

Hello Everyone! My name is Anne Swanson and I’m your co-president for 2014-2015. I served as president last year, along with my co-president Dawn Bohlmann, and before that, I served as CCPOM Secretary.  I joined CCPOM when I was pregnant with my twins five years ago.  Prior to that, I had heard about the group through the annual ETC sale, which I went to when I was only a mom of one, never dreaming that I would someday be part of the group.

I was born and raised in Fairfax County, Virginia, which is a suburb of Washington, D.C.  It feels like I spent the majority of my childhood in the pool-- I was a serious competitive swimmer from the age of 7 to 18. I went to college at the University of Virginia, in central Virginia, and studied American history, writing my senior thesis on the Civil Rights Movement in Virginia in the 1950s and 1960s. After graduating, I returned to the Washington DC area. For several years I worked as a research analyst for a large consulting company and later, for US Airways, which was headquartered in Washington DC at that time. Working for an airline gave me two great things, most importantly, it’s where I met my husband, Todd! Secondly, it allowed Todd and me to travel for free, which we did a lot of (this was all well before kids entered the picture!)  Despite all the fun perks of traveling, in 2001 I decided to head back to school, this time to law school at Southern Methodist University (SMU) in Dallas, Texas. Todd and I were married and we lived in Dallas for three years. Upon my graduation, we moved to California, Todd’s home state, in 2004, where I was admitted to the California Bar. 

We settled in Pleasant Hill, and in 2007 welcomed our daughter Caroline.  Almost exactly two years later, we welcomed our twins, Jack and Charlie.  I was lucky enough to carry them to over 38 weeks, and they were born at 7 lbs each in November 2009.  I am currently taking a break from practicing law, and taking some time to be home with our kids. As a family, we enjoy being outside, going to our kids’ sporting events, and trying new things!  In my spare time (what is that?) I enjoy reading, exercising, and binge-watching shows like “Call the Midwife”, “Scandal”, and “Orange is the New Black.” We still travel back to the East Coast quite a bit, but also enjoy our wonderful weather here in California.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

2014-2015 CCPOM Board Members

Contra Costa Parents Parents of Multiples wouldn't be the wonderful family it is without the ongoing support of our volunteers for the following positions.  Thank you to all for your hard work and creative output into these wonderful events!

Board of Directors

Anne Swanson
Dawn Bohlmann

Vice President:
Karis Coleman-Sink

Paige Kremser Stenrud

Jennifer Martell 

Laura Weber

NOMOTC Representative:
Dawn Bohlmann 

NCAMOTC Representative:
Heather K Himenes

Membership Administrator / Club Express Administrator:
Jennifer Schofield

Ways and Means:
Heather Dupree

Philanthropic Committee Chair:
Beth Brown

Social Activities Coordinator:
Emily Getty

Playgroup Coordinator:
Lizzy Weiss

Angel Mom Coordinator:
Allison Buck 

Helping Hands:
Christie Chu

Publicity Coordinator:
Laurie Frieders

ETC Sale General Manager:
Candice Ferris

Blog Editor:
Louise Dyken 

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Multiples at the Pumpkin Patch

This past Saturday, October 4th, was the CCPOM outing to the Clayton Valley Pumpkin Patch.  As usual, thanks to our great members, and especially Emily and Jennifer, it was a GREAT event!  The kids had a wonderful time picking out pumpkins, munching on treats, riding the "choo choo," and playing in the hay mazes and lima bean pools.  Feeding the (huge) piggies and goats was a much talked about treat in our house.  Despite the HOT weather, it was a fabulous way to kick off fall and get ready for Halloween! 

Hello, there!

Hi!  My name is Paige and I am the new blog editor. I am just getting my feet wet, but am hoping the CCPOM blog can be a place to get to know some of our members, post pictures from our many fabulous events, exchange ideas and maybe even have a laugh or two. If you have any ideas for blog posts, wouldn't mind being profiled, would like to write a guest post, have photos or ideas to share, or are bored and want to meet for a play date, please drop me a line at pstenrud@gmail.com, I would love to hear from you!

I'll save my mini bio for when I can't find a victim volunteer for a member profile, but in the meantime, my husband, Chris, I have two year old boy/girl twins, Beckett and Claire, and we live in Pleasant Hill. I tend to be behind the camera rather than in front of it, but here is a picture of us that does not date back to college (although it does predate our moving here):

*(Is still a bit outdated, so Claire has asked that I let you all know that she has hair now and Beckett swears he was "just resting his eyes"!)

Thursday, September 19, 2013

September Pampering Event

Sometimes MoMs just need a night OUT. So tonight we let the husbands/others put the kids to bed and had a great pampering event at Bollinger Nails in Pleasant Hill. Karis made sure we didn’t go hungry (or thirsty) with a nice spread of food and beverages.

photo 1

We all had a relaxing evening getting our mani/pedis!

photo 2

photo 3

Thank you to everyone that joined us!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

iPad Packin' Mama

According to the National Retail Federation, we're spending big on little gadgets for mom this year.  A survey by BIGinsight found that Mother's Day shoppers will spend a record-breaking $2.3 billion on electronics.  Traditional gifts of apparel, jewelry, and sweets are still top sellers, but if your taste is less candy and more candy-colored iPod, this list of cool new gadgets, compiled by CCPOM member Laura Blackwell and her colleague, will make your mouth water.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Mark Your April Calendars!

Spring ETC Sale!
Saturday, April 6th, 7:30 am - 12:30 pm
St. Francis of Assisi Church, 860 Oak Grove Rd., Concord
Admission: $1 per adult

NCA Convention!
Friday, April 26th - Sunday, April 28th
Hilton Hotel in Concord
Our theme is "Mission Twinpossible!" Join us for fun, pampering, and spy games you won't want to miss!  Raffle prizes include tickets to Disneyland, spa packages, restaurant gift certificates, and hundreds more! For additional information, please contact Heidi Johnson (c-hjohnson@sbcglobal.net) or Karis Coleman-Sink (karis.coleman@yahoo.com).

March of Dimes' annual March for Babies!
Saturday, April 27th 
Alameda County Fairgrounds
Please visit out team webpage to learn more and to join the cause!

Member Profile: Get to know Rebecca Alvarez!

How long have you been a member of CCPOM? 
I have been a member since 2007.

What has been your best experience so far? 
Ahh, so many!  All the fun events for the kids, and the amazing friends I have made.

How do you spend your days? 
I wake up, feed and dress 3 kids and one baby, send the oldest three off to preschool/TK, run errands, try to exercise, shower, grocery shop (I feel like I am always buying food!), pick up kids, let them play at the park while I talk to Tami (Zachary).  Then we usually go to a park and meet friends, clean up, cook dinner, eat dinner with the family (hubby is home now), get the kids ready for bed, bath, brush teeth, read stories, put them to bed, finish chores, do some stuff for my jewelry business, watch some TV, relax, then go to bed.

What do you like best about living in the East Bay?  
I love the weather, beautiful parks, lots of things to do, my family local, and lots of progressive people.

What's your favorite East Bay hidden gem? 
Right now, Rankin Park in Martinez.  Also, Clayton Community Park, the Oakland Zoo, or Tilden.

What’s your guiltiest pleasure? 
Jewelry.  My husband doesn’t know it, but I sell Premier mostly because I can get the new jewelry I want and say I need it for my business!

Do you have any hidden talents? 
I think I’m pretty talented when I have a home cooked, healthy meal on the table for the 6 of us, and everyone eats it!

What’s one thing on your bucket list? 
I want to go to Machu Picchu in Peru. It's where the masculine energies meet the feminine energies and it is supposed to be amazing.  I plan to take the family in 5-8 years.

What's the last book you read? 
I read The Corrections.

Who inspires you? 
I am inspired by a lot of moms I know.  Some run marathons, some work full time jobs and still take great care of their kids, some have twins and still manage to give back so much time to this club and to others.  Some are stay at home moms who make home cooked meals and manage to not let the kids watch too much TV.  And finally my mom, who had eight kids and would do anything for us. 

What was your favorite job? 
My favorite job is being a full time mom!  But a paid job… I would say teaching for seven years at Pittsburg High and being a reading consultant.

Tell us about your family.
My husband is Joe, and together we have four children.  Aurora Rachel and Sebastian Gabriel are our twins born on October 16, 2007.  Then a year later, Celeste Marie entered our world on November 1, 2008.  Our final angel, Luke Elias Gilbert, was born just five months ago on November 15, 2012.

Do you have an inspiring birth story? 
Well, I don’t know if it is inspiring or just crazy, but I had the last two au natural with no drugs.  Celeste came on Halloween night, so my sisters and brother came to see us after partying for Halloween, still in full costume.  We had Elvis, the Morton Salt girl, and a peacock waiting for Celeste's birth.

What advice can you give to new moms of twins? 
Now that I have had the pleasure of having just one baby, I would say, just take time to try and cherish the sweet beings that they are.  I think when I had my twins,  and then Celeste so quick, I was a little bit in survival mode.  I know I loved them so much and felt blessed to have them, but I didn’t really get to sit back and marvel at them.  Try to find that time with each one and relish the sweetness that they are, because it does go so fast!  Also, get out of the house!  Make play dates at the park and go see your friends.  I would not have made it if I wasn’t out enjoying fresh air and letting them explore, while I got to chat with my friends.  Don’t be afraid to take them out.  Get a double stroller (or triple- like I had) and get moving, it will do you all good!

What's one thing that makes life easier?
A BOB stroller!

The Alvarez family celebrating Easter!

10 Habits to Strengthen Your Relationship With Your Child

We all crave those close moments with our children that make our hearts melt. That's what makes parenting worth it. Connection is as essential to us as parents as it is to our children. When our relationship is strong, it's also sweet -- so we receive as much as we give.  That connection is also the only reason children willingly follow our rules. Kids who feel strongly connected to their parents WANT to cooperate. They trust us to know what's best for them, to be on their side. I hear regularly from parents that everything changes once they focus on connecting, not just correcting.
But we're only human.  There are days when all we can do is meet our children's most basic needs:  Feed them, bathe them, keep an encouraging tone, hug them, and get them to sleep at a reasonable hour so we can do it all over again tomorrow. Given that parenting is the toughest job on earth -- and we often do it in our spare time, after we work at another job all day -- the only way to keep a strong bond with our children is to build in daily habits of connection. What kinds of habits?

1. 12 hugs a day. Hug your child first thing in the morning, when you say goodbye, when you're re-united, at bedtime, and often in between.  If your tween or teen rebuffs your advances when she first walks in the door, realize that with older kids you have to ease into the connection.  Get her settled with a cool drink, and chat as you give a foot rub. (Seem like going above and beyond?  It's a foolproof way to hear what happened in her life today, which should be high on your priority list.)
2. Connect before transitions. Kids have a hard time transitioning from one thing to another.  If you look her in the eye, use her name, and play a bit to get her giggling, you'll fill her cup and make sure she has the inner resources to manage herself through a transition.  Mornings go much easier when you start with a five minute snuggle upon awakening to help your child transition from sleep into the executive functions of dressing and teeth brushing.
3. Play.  Laughter and rough-housing keep you connected with your child by stimulating endorphins and oxytocin in both of you.  Making playfulness a daily habit also gives your child a chance to work through the anxieties and upsets that otherwise make him feel disconnected -- and more likely to act out. And play helps kids want to cooperate.  Which is likely to work better,  "Little Gorilla, it's time for breakfast, come eat your  bugs and bananas!" and "Don't you think your steam shovel wants to get in the car now so he can see the construction site on the way to the store?" or "Eat your breakfast now!" and "Get in the car!"
4. Turn off technology when you interact with your child.  Really. Your child will remember for the rest of his life that he was important enough to his parents that they turned off phones and music to listen to him.  This is particularly important in the car, because the lack of eye contact in a car takes the pressure off, so kids (and adults) are more likely to open up and share.

5. Special time. Every day, 15 minutes with each child, separately.  Alternate doing what your child wants and doing what you want.  On her days, just pour your love into her and let her direct.  On your days resist the urge to structure the time with activities.  Instead, play  therapeutic "games" to help your child with whatever issues are "up" for her. 
6. Welcome emotion. Sure, it's inconvenient.  But your child needs to express his emotions or they'll drive his behavior.  So accept the meltdowns, don't let the anger trigger you, and welcome the tears and fears that always hide behind the anger. Remember that you're the one he trusts enough to cry with, and breathe your way through it.  Afterwards, he'll feel more relaxed, cooperative, and closer to you.

7. Listen, and Empathize. Connection starts with listening.  Bite your tongue if you need to, except to say "Wow!....I see....Really?...How was that for you?"  The habit of seeing things from your child's perspective will ensure that you treat her with respect and look for win/win solutions.  It will help you see the reasons for behavior that would otherwise drive you crazy. And it will help you regulate your own emotions so when your buttons get pushed and you find yourself in "fight or flight," your child doesn't look so much like the enemy. 
8. Slow down and savor the moment. Share the moment with your child: let him smell the strawberries before you put them in the smoothie.  Put your hands in the running water together and share the cool rush of the water. Smell his hair. Listen to his laughter. Look him in the eyes. Connect in the magnificence of the present moment. Which is really the only way we can connect.
9. Bedtime snuggle and chat. Set your child's bedtime a wee bit earlier with the assumption that you'll spend some time visiting and snuggling in the dark. Those companionable, safe moments of connection invite whatever your child is currently grappling with to the surface, whether it's something that happened at school, the way you snapped at her this morning, or her worries about tomorrow's field trip. Do you have to resolve her problem right then? No. Just listen. Acknowledge feelings. Reassure your child that you hear her concern, and that together you'll solve it, tomorrow. The next day, be sure to follow up. You'll be amazed how your relationship with your child deepens. And don't give this habit up as your child gets older. Late at night is often the only time teens will open up.
10. Show up.  Most of us go through life half-present. But your child has only about 900 weeks of childhood with you before he leaves your home.  He'll be gone before you know it.  Try this as a practice:  When you're engaged with your child, just be right here, right now.  You won't be able to do it all the time.  But if you do it every day for a bit, you'll find yourself doing it more and more. Because you'll find it creates those moments with your child that make your heart melt.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Potty Pre-Party

Recently, while feeling especially exhausted and mentally foggy, I complained to my husband that life would be a lot easier if we could teach our twins to change each other's diapers.  He just laughed.  "Why don't we try potty training instead?"  Oh, right.  That's a much better idea.  A few days later, to my girls' delight, I brought home a little potty in the shape of a frog.  The girls laughed and clapped and took turns sitting (fully clothed) on the froggy, gripping wads of toilet paper in their tiny hands.  My twins are not yet potty "able" but they are open to the concept.  In other words, they're potty ready.

How do you know if your child is potty ready?  If your child is between 18 and 24 months, you may begin to notice these key signs of potty readiness....

1. Your toddler dislikes dirty diapers and looks for opportunities to ditch the dipe (much to your chagrin). 
2. Your toddler can undress for potty time, meaning that your little one can pull down his/her own pants and diaper.
3. Your toddler has a potty mouth -- literally.  Your toddler can communicate verbally (or nonverbally) about going "poop" and "pee," or points to and/or says "diaper" when he/she needs one.
4. Your toddler "pretends potty" with favorite animals and dolls.  How many times have you phantom changed a stuffed animal's diaper?  Yep, your child is interested in the potty process, and is beginning to understand that everyone poops.
5. Speaking of, "Everyone Poops," by Taro Gomi, is a great read for you and your potty curious child.  Your kiddo might also enjoy "Big Girls Use the Potty" or "Big Boys Use the Potty" (DK Publishing), and "A Potty for Me!" (Karen Katz).  

Perhaps it's time to acquire a froggy potty and a book or two for your little ones?!  For more information about potty readiness, check out this terrific (and brief!) article on potty readiness: 


Those of us with siblings can relate to childhood rivalry to varying degrees.  How does competition between twins and triplets differ?  Does the gender combination of multiples impact their rivalry?  Of course, each twin/triplet relationship is as unique as the individuals themselves, but this interesting article offers a few universal tips for dealing with competwintion in your own home.  

Mark Your March Calendars!

March General Meeting
Please join us on Thursday, March 21st at 7 pm for the March general meeting, which will focus on CONVENTION preparation.  The meeting will be held at the Grace Episcopal Church, located at 130 Muir Station Rd. in Martinez.  

Egg Hunt
The much anticipated CCPOM Egg Hunt will be held on Saturday, March 30th, from 9 am until 11 am, at the Walnut Avenue Methodist Church, located at 260 Walnut Avenue in Walnut Creek.  More details to come! 

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Member Profile: Get to know Heidi Johnson!

I'm thrilled to present to you the first of many CCPOM Member Profiles. We're a diverse and interesting group; each member with a special story to tell.  We look forward to reading your stories!  And now, everything* you ever wanted to know about our fun, fearless CCPOM Co-President and NCA Convention Co-Chair, Heidi Johnson.  (*Ok, maybe not EVERYthing.)

How long have you been a member of CCPOM and what made you want to join?
I joined CCPOM in 2005, a few months after I learned I was pregnant with my twins.  I had heard about the CCPOM's awesome ETC sale, and after meeting all the wonderful and supportive ladies at a club meeting, I knew I wanted to be a part of this group and to get more involved. 

What has been your best  experience so far? 
My best experience so far is all the fun I have had getting to know other members by attending NCA conventions and taking a chance on various roommates.  What a blast we have had every time, and it's a great way to vent to people who truly understand.  I have also enjoyed very much being an Angel Mom for several moms of "twins +1 surprise baby. "

How do you spend your days?  
I work as a Legal Nurse Consultant for a law firm in San Fran, I play games with my kids and help them do homework, I love to try to squeeze in a quick work-out or hike in our neighborhood, and then of course that pesky housework takes up way too much time

What do you like best about living in the East Bay?  
I LOVE the weather here!

What’s your guiltiest pleasure?  
Having a martini straight up in lieu of dinner and sitting down to watch Teen Mom by myself.

Do you have any hidden talents?
I can make a decent meal given any left over items in the fridge at the end of the week; it doesn't matter how weird.  And I can get my kids to eat it by saying "tonight we are having SURPRISE dinner!"  I cover their plate with the lid to my wok and place it in front of them, uncover and yell "Surprise!"  They love it.

What’s one thing on your bucket list?  
Taking my own mom to Europe.  I have more fun with her than anyone else I know!

What is your "desert island" book, CD, or movie?  
I could watch Despicable Me a thousand times and still be laughing.

Who inspires you? 
My mom and my dad…I hope my kids feel the same later in life?

What was your first (or favorite) job?  
No joke, my first job was at a barbecue restaurant called "It's The Pits" because they pit-smoked their meats.  They obviously did not consult a marketing adviser before choosing that name.  Alas, the place did not survive, but they started my love of pecan pie!

Tell us about your family...
My husband Chris and I have 7 year old boy/girl twins, Samya & Levi, then we go our little surprise daughter exactly a year later— Kalia, 6.  We also have a pet bunny named Moses, who follows us around like a puppy.

Do you have a funny birth story you'd like to share?
My water broke at home with a gush, and I was so shocked and creeped out by the HUGE mess, that I took a shower and got on my hands & knees with a bucket and scrubbed up the mess before I left for the hospital. Although I don't recommend you feel compelled to do the same if this happens to you, it was a good thing I did, because my floors haven't seen a mop since! 

What advice can you give to new moms of twins?
Just go easy on yourself!  Don't beat yourself up for mistakes.  There will be many, so just ask forgiveness (even if it is your small kids you are asking). Asking forgiveness will make you feel better, even if the kids don't understand.  There is a lot of chaos and turmoil with multiples.  Pile that on top of other life problems, and it can give anyone a panic attack.  Just remember, no matter what anyone tells you, YOU ARE A GREAT MOTHER, and you are doing your best.  I think we should all tell each other "You are a great mother!" every chance we get because many of us do not hear it at home (or at least not enough), and it is the only thing we really want to hear.

"James Lipton Inside the Actors Studio" question: What's your favorite curse word?
I don't really like curse words, but no matter how hard I try, I just can't cut out "Crap!"

A big thanks to Heidi for making time for this interview!  If you have questions for Heidi, you may contact her via email at c-hjohnson@sbcglobal.net. 

Friday, February 1, 2013

Marriage Myths

This article is the result of research carried out by a longtime married couple.  They're not experts; they're people like us who cared about strengthening their relationships and sought out answers from other married couples.  Do you agree or disagree with their conclusions?  Have you busted other traditional marriage myths?  
6 MARRIAGE MYTHS, By Fernanda Moore
Myth 1: Never go to bed angry
It sounds reasonable  -- why risk letting a fight smolder overnight only to flare up again the next day? Better to resolve things, sleep soundly, and start fresh.
What we say: Just agree to disagree until morning  -- especially if it's midnight, there's no resolution in sight, and you're dying on the vine. After all, not every argument comes with a built-in time limit.
When Brooke Kline of Rohnert Park, California, and her husband wave a temporary white flag and hit the sheets, they see the issue more clearly in the morning. "We aren't so caught up in our emotions," says this mom of a 9-month-old.
Alternately, agreeing beforehand to make up can take the edge off a disagreement. Rachel Kincade of Fort Hood, Texas, says when she can't resolve a conflict with her husband, they have to spend the next day saying or doing nice things for the other person. "By the end of the day, you feel so pumped up on compliments that you just can't stay mad!"
Of course, going to sleep angry isn't great. But here's the bright side: "Even if you go to bed mad and sleep in separate rooms once in a while, you'll be okay  -- and so will the relationship," says David Wexler, Ph.D., author of When Good Men Behave Badly (not to mention a dad of two who has been married for 24 years).
Myth 2: Having a baby brings you closer
When my older son was born, my normally reticent husband and I suddenly had a million things to talk about. (Of course, we spent most of our time talking about one subject: the baby! The baby! And did I mention the baby?)
But then my husband went back to work, the traitor. And the baby got colic. And the thrill of nursing all night and staggering around like a zombie all day began to wear thin. Naturally, I couldn't take my frustrations out on my precious tiny bundle... but I had to blame someone. Guess who?
What we say: Having a baby is the ultimate bonding experience. But it also puts enormous strain on your relationship. One solution? Simple acknowledgment  -- couples tend to have problems when they expect everything to go smoothly.
You'll also definitely need help with the unbelievable physical labor babies require. "Delegate. If you're good at the bedtime routine and your spouse loves bathtime, you can divide and conquer the tedious parts of parenting," says Karen Reivich, Ph.D., a research associate at the University of Pennsylvania's Positive Psychology Center, coauthor of The Resilience Factor, and  -- most important  -- a mom of four who's been married for 14 years.
It helps to get away from the baby on a semi-regular basis. If a formal "date night" makes you cringe, or the logistics seem impossible, opt for something more low-key. "We don't leave the house because we can't afford a babysitter, but every Wednesday night, after the kids are in bed, my husband and I have a glass of wine together as far away as possible from their bedrooms," says Reivich.
Myth 3: Spouses should be best friends as well as romantic partners
It sounds wonderful, doesn't it? After all, you and your husband know each other better than anyone else, so why wouldn't he be your best friend, too?
What we say: "Romantic relationships are different from friendships. One person can't be everything to you," says Andrea Smith, a mom of two in Swarthmore, Pennsylvania.
In other words, don't beat yourself up if it sometimes feels like you're closer to the mom next door than to your mate. "It would be great if your husband is someone you have fun with, respect, have great sex with, work well with as a parent, and is your soulmate. But almost no one gets all that in one relationship," says Wexler. And if you and your partner manage some of these things, "you've been blessed," he adds. The trick is to keep your bond going on some level. "Stay involved in your partner's life. When you separate in the morning, make sure you know at least one detail of each other's day  -- and ask about it later," says Wexler.
It helps to be grateful for what you do have. "Rick and I have been together since high school  -- and he's not my best friend," says Deborah Coakley, a mom of three in Ridgewood, New Jersey. "But after everything we've gone through, he's definitely my most constant friend."
Myth 4: Don't worry about your (lack of) sex life
In the first months of babyhood, hormones, exhaustion, and what the baby books call being "touched out"  -- a polite way to describe wanting to scream if one more human being comes within three feet of you  -- all conspire to make sex seem only slightly more appealing than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick.
What we say: At the risk of sounding unenlightened, after you've had a baby (and especially after the second child), sex becomes absolutely critical to your relationship.
When you're busy, stressed, and seeing about one-tenth as much of each other, sex is the quickest and most rewarding way to reconnect with whatever scraps of the unencumbered and madly-in-love people you both used to be.
"My husband and I snap at each other nonstop when we haven't slept together in a while," says Coakley. And, sure, it's easy to put off sex  -- after all, you live with the guy and tomorrow is another day. But don't. As a friend so memorably put it: "There's nothing like an orgasm and an absurdly grateful husband to improve your outlook on life."
You also don't have to fall for the notion that good sex requires an elaborate romantic getaway with your spouse  -- that just sets you up for disappointment. It's better to take advantage of frequent stolen moments. "Embrace the quickie  -- and widen your repertoire of what counts as good sex," says Reivich. Even if you don't go, as they say, all the way, physical contact of any kind is its own thrill.
Myth 5: Don't fight in front of the kids
When moms and dads fight, it's scary. Babies can tell when you're angry (and will probably get upset) and bigger kids will worry that the two of you are on the verge of a divorce.
What we say: It can be valuable for children to see their parents work through a disagreement with goodwill. Kids also need to learn that even people who love each other don't get along perfectly. "It's unrealistic to expect no conflict," says Smith. "If you never have a difference of opinion with your spouse, then you've obviously found someone who agrees with everything you think. How boring!"
In other words, it's fine  -- even healthy  -- for kids to witness your arguments. But there are caveats. (Aren't there always?) "When you argue in front of your kids, it's important to fight fair," says Reivich. "Instead of shouting 'You're a lazy slob!' say 'It really bothers me when you don't take out the trash.' Take issue with the action, not the person, and don't hurl insults." So if the fight is too intense, or there's no resolution in sight, table it until the kids aren't around.
Myth 6: Never take your spouse for granted
This is the secret of happy marriages, right? Because taking someone for granted means you've stopped appreciating that person.
What we say: Taking your beloved for granted in a marital context can actually mean you know you can count on him, depend on him, trust him  -- that you are, without question, absolutely there for each other.
This might mean you've accepted certain roles within your family. "My husband and I definitely take each other for granted," says Jillian Waddell, a mom of one in Princeton, Massachusetts. "Scott works full-time  -- which he never complains about, even though it's sometimes stressful." When you're married with children, feeling secure enough to lean on your spouse without worrying can be immensely liberating.
However, taking your loyal spouse for granted and treating him like dirt aren't the same thing. Simply expressing gratitude goes a long way. "My husband cooks dinner every night," says the incredibly lucky Reivich, "and though I'm used to it, I'm smart enough to know what a deal I've got. So I say, 'Gee, I don't even have to think about cooking dinner anymore, it's so wonderful, thank you,' every once in a while." And that's a piece of advice we all should follow.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

What's new with the flu?

If worrying about the flu has you feeling fluish, I have good news for you.  According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), no unusual disease patterns have emerged among children this flu season. http://www.cidrap.umn.edu/cidrap/content/influenza/general/news/jan1613flu.html  

So if you're a parent who spends most of your waking hours compulsively washing/sanitizing your kids' hands, good job - keep it up!  The CDC has recommended no change in how we prevent and treat the influenza virus, especially in children younger than five.  Kids are especially vulnerable, and flu complications are most common in children under two.  The best way to keep our kiddos healthy is to have them vaccinated, according to the CDC.
What else?... 
  • Demonstrate good hand-washing, cough & sneeze etiquette, and help your kids start good habits, too.
  • Inquire about your kids' school/daycare provider's flu prevention plan.
  • Keep surfaces clean, and encourage your kids to help in the effort.
If you have questions about the flu, prevention, and the vaccine, please contact your pediatrician, and keep the "Flu Guide For Parents" handy: http://www.cdc.gov/flu/pdf/freeresources/updated/a_flu_guide_for_parents.pdf

But what about YOU?  The CDC encourages everyone to take the following actions to fight the flu:
  • Get the flu shot. 
  • If you get sick with flu-like illness, stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone except to get medical care or for other necessities. (Your fever should be gone without the use of a fever-reducing medicine.)
  • Practice proper cough and sneeze etiquette to prevent the spread of germs.
  • Wash your hands regularly.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces at home, work or school, especially when someone is ill.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

MOM to MOM: Indoor Activities

I used to love rainy days.  One year and two toddlers later,  I dread wet weather.  During the winter season I am constantly wondering how to keep my kids entrained indoors.  Perhaps you're wondering, too?  If so, here are a few ideas from other MOMs to help you through those long days indoors.

What's YOUR favorite indoor activity?  Please share!


New Old Toys
I have to credit my husband for this one.  When my girls' toys started to pile up in our living room, he suggested we pack up and hide away half their toys for a while.  When the toys reemerged a couple weeks later, their eyes lit up like Christmas.  Well done, Mr. Mom!

Nothing is more exciting to your little ones than letting them raid your forbidden dresser drawers or closet.  This activity is hugely popular with my girls.  They tap on my closet door with such excitement, you'd think they'd found Narnia on the other side.  Dress-up also promotes imaginative play and makes for great photo opportunities.  

Laundry Helpers
Get out the laundry baskets and clean clothes and ask your toddlers for "help" folding.  You will likely need to REfold after this activity, but it's an entertaining way to keep the kiddos entertained.   

Parachute Party
The parachute (blanket) game is always a big hit.  Just add music and you'll have Gymboree in your own living room. 

Dance Party
You love to dance.  They love to dance.  It's a no-brainer. 

Toddler Bowling
Line up plastic bottles or paper towel rolls and show your toddlers how to roll a ball to knock down the "pins."

Older Kids  

Building a fort is fun for everyone, and especially great for kids of different ages.  Bed sheets, chairs and sofa cushions are all you need to create your kid's hideaway. 

Art Projects
There's an art project for everyone.  Coloring and play-doh are fun activities with less mess.  If you have crafty kids, you might also try a scrapbooking project with photos, glue, and embellishments, or card-making projects for birthdays and upcoming events. 

Cooking & Baking
Let your children help prepare their favorite meal or a special treat!

Obstacle Courses  
Obstacle courses are fun and creative ways to help burn off energy!  Obstacles can be designed for any age using toys, books, furniture, pillows, and other found objects around the house. 

Board Games

Reading Aloud

Play Gyms
For a list of indoor play gyms in your neighborhood, please visit our website: https://ccpom.clubexpress.com/content.aspx?page_id=1&club_id=205610&item_id=5428