We don’t mess around with spending a lot of money on our kids. When we buy them a present, we do our research to make sure we’re getting something that will last, is the best available price, and that they will actually use. Last year for their birthday we got the twins a version of Amazon’s Kindle Fire for kids. It’s just like a regular Kindle Fire tablet, but it’s the kids edition. We’ve spent 9 months using their tablets and have found so many cool little things that I had no idea were even available!
5 Reasons why we Love the Kindle Fire Kids Edition
The practically bulletproof case
Ok, this one we knew about before buying the Kindles because the “kid-proof” case was the #1 selling point for us. My kids drop/break/accidentally maim and harangue everything. Yesterday Johnny put my camera’s SD card in a glass of water! Just plopped it in there like he was doing me a favor. Obviously, we have to be on them, 24/7 or they’d tear the house apart. The Kindle Fire Kids Edition comes with a 2-year worry-free guarantee. 9 months after we got them, and the tablets are still in one piece. I guess they’re stronger than my kids’ appetite for destruction!
My 4-year-old girls love the apps that come with the Kindle Fire Kids Edition. The PBS kids app lets them watch their favorite PBS shows. There are lots of other apps with all their favorite characters: Disney, Barbie, Dora, Hello Kitty, Bubble Guppies, and Strawberry Shortcake just to name a few. The Toca Boca apps are always in their top 5. One of Emily’s favorites is Pet Doctor, a game where you give bandaids and snacks to pets with “owies”.
The stories that read to your child
Finding out about these made me do a happy dance, because for the longest time I didn’t think the books read to your child. There plenty of books available for free on the Kindle Fire Kids Edition, but it would be nice if the girls could enjoy a story on their own every now and then.
We do try and limit screen time with our kids, and thankfully the makers of the Kindle Fire Kids Edition get that. You can set time limits for how long your kids use their tablet and customize the bedtime curfew so they’re not sneaking out of bed at crazy hours to check on their Toca Life: City (like Sim City but way cooler and kid-friendly!). The parent dashboard tells you what your child played and read during their time on the tablet. You can even set “learn first” controls so that your child must do some reading before he/she can start playing games.
We got our tablets with one payment, but I noticed that now you can choose to pay in 5 payments of $26.00. That’s so do-able! The tablets come with one year of FreeTime Unlimited, which gives you access to all the books, apps, and videos. After that it’s as low as $2.99/month for Prime members.
While I’m not a huge fan of having my kids on electronic devices, technology is an inevitable part of the future for their generation. I appreciate that Amazon understands what’s important to kids and parents when it comes to a tablet. Our kids have enjoyed their tablets for almost a year, and I’m so glad to say that they are a purchase I don’t regret.
Do you have a tablet in your home? What do you look for in a tablet/e-reader?
People always ask us if our twins are identical. To tell the truth, I can’t say for sure that they are. I guess people get their twins tested, so they can legitimately say that their kids are scientifically 100% the same. Well, ours aren’t the same. Madeline has a faint birthmark on the back of her hand, and she’s always been a fraction of an inch taller than Emily.
But when people want to know if they’re identical, we always say yes. It’s a much simpler answer than having to explain that they’ve never been tested, or that there are slight differences between them. I mean, my own parents can’t tell them apart so that’s got to hold some value, right?
They had their eyes dilated, and had to spend the rest of the day in these sunglasses. The twins thought they were pretty awesome!
This week we got some news that should make it easier for friends and family to tell them apart. Because very soon, Emily will start wearing glasses.
It all started when the girls had their eyes checked during a free screening at the preschool. They both didn’t pass the eye exam, but I just figured they were playing during the test and not taking the proctor seriously (they’re very giggly girls when they’re in a silly mood). We had to get a more intense eye exam done, which told us that both girls have astigmatism. Emily’s condition is more pronounced in one eye than the other, so she was prescribed glasses.
They Won’t Look Identical Anymore
It’s dumb, but I’m wrestling with this more than I should be. My two perfectly matching girls won’t match anymore. From now on Emily’s going to stand out as “the one with the glasses”. She’ll be noticeably different from her twin sister for the first time ever. They love each other so much, I just don’t want this to be something that breaks their attachment to one another.
Emily picked out a very cute pair of pink frames, kind of like these, and once they’re ready I’ll be sure to share a pic of her on my Instagram or Facebook.
I’m sure I’m just being overly emotional. I’m sure this is no big deal. Lately I’ve been crying over every stage of development, so I know this is a bigger problem for me than it needs to be. Have you ever been there? Tell me I’m not the only crazy, crying, “Stop growing up so fast” Mama out there.
When I was expecting twins I had this irrational, borderline-obsessive fear that I wouldn’t be able to tell them apart. I took note of every tip and trick used by parents of multiples: painting toenails different colors, making a mark on their foot, colored teething necklaces… By the time they arrived I was fully prepared to be a clueless mother who couldn’t even tell her own twins apart.
Those first few days in the hospital, my husband and I relied 100% on the girls’ medical bracelets. We didn’t know then well enough to recognize which baby was Madeline and which was Emily. But once we were all home from the hospital we realized we didn’t need those bracelets anymore. We knew Emily by the shape of her mouth and by her little round face. We could see Madeline’s unique eye shape. We even noticed the unique sound of their newborn baby cries.
They may look similar, but they are as different as black-and-white.
When You’re Their Mom, You Just Know
People always ask me how I tell them apart. To be honest, when they are standing at a distance and wearing the same clothes, I sometimes don’t know which is which. They usually have different shoes on or a different colored hair clip, so that’s what I tell people I look for. For the most part though, I just know.
Madeline is outgoing and has a strong competitive streak but she is the more affectionate of the two. Emily loves stuffed animals and singing songs. They are both so different in so many ways on the inside.
Being able to tell the twins apart was such a big deal to me before they were born. But now? It’s pretty much the easiest thing about being a parent of twins – much easier than keeping track of their toys or whose turn it is to do something. With all children, it is so fun to see them grow into their own little person. It’s possibly more exciting to watch twins’ personalities evolve from two such similar-looking people. When I was expecting twins, I never would have imagined they’d be so unique!
Madeline and Emily are deeply devoted to each other. I can’t imagine the type of bond that forms when you’ve spent nine months in the womb with your sister. But I can see how it’s playing out in the lives of my twins.
4 years ago my twins were born, healthy and full-term. Of course, I knew at the time how lucky I was. Since then I’ve met many other women who had difficult twin pregnancy experiences. Now it’s clear that, while not uncommon, my easy pregnancy was a tremendous blessing!
My Twin Pregnancy Timeline
As soon as I had a missed period, I took a home pregnancy test and was elated to discover out that I was pregnant! We went to the doctor, who did an ultrasound and completely blew our minds by showing us two itty bitty babies on the screen. Finding out we were expecting twins was exciting news, but I was confident that a multiple pregnancy wouldn’t have an affect on my lifestyle. My husband and I were training for a half marathon in July even though we were trying for a baby. I had met other women who had run during their pregnancy so I wasn’t worried about it. I set my mind to the idea that I was going to maintain my regular activity level throughout the pregnancy (HA! We’ll see how well that worked out for me).
I was exhausted. Pretty quickly into the first trimester I had major fatigue and nausea. My belly was growing more rapidly than it had with my first baby. I had food aversions to everything except strawberries, jello, and anything lemon-flavored. I continued to hit the gym at least once a week, but I was also prone to napping on the weekends and calling it a night by 6pm! I wanted to keep my pregnancy a secret for the first 12 weeks, but by about week 10 it was getting hard to conceal. I remember a lady coworker giving me almost an elevator look one day, as if trying to figure out what looked different about me. What a relief when I could finally come clean to everyone! Although, by that time, I wasn’t fooling anyone. They all could tell I was pregnant. The real fun was in telling them it was with twins!
Can you say “tests”?! I was poked and prodded and had my fluids checked on a regular basis. I was assigned to a doctor who specialized in high-risk pregnancies. Still, I maintained that this was going to be just a regular pregnancy… Except with an enormous belly in front. I was unable to sleep on my stomach sometime in the first trimester, and by now my doctor was also advising against sleeping on my back because my weight could disrupt blood flow to the babies. A good night’s sleep required plenty of pillows and tossing and turning.
I felt weird about being so humongously pregnant at the gym that my weekly visits tapered off to nothing. As the summer neared, my exercise routine was mostly swimming at the beach and walking. I skated through my twin pregnancy without any gestational diabetes and moved on to trimester three with hardly a hiccup!
I was beginning to feel like a blimp. For a while now, people on the streets had been declaring that I was “due any day!”. Having to constantly reply that I still had months to go didn’t help the feeling that this was the world’s longest pregnancy. Some of the major life disruptions were:
Trying to fit in the narrow doorways of public bathrooms.
Not being able to sit upright because of my huge belly. I had to drive slouched down like a chola, eat in a reclined position, and my legs were always untastefully spread apart.
Eating was an exhausting chore. I had trouble taking deep breaths, I was starving but didn’t have very much room for food, and I am one of the 30% of women who get nasal congestion for their entire pregnancy. My nose was stuffy 24/7, which meant I had to hold my breath to chew my food.
I had to use the bathroom once an hour.
Between getting up every hour or so to pee and being only able to sleep on my side, a good night’s sleep was a distant memory.
I had outgrown maternity clothes a long time ago because they just wouldn’t stretch over my big belly. The shirts rode up in front, and the pants that did fit over me were usually not very good at staying on. I lived in dresses, so it’s a good thing it’s always hot in San Diego!
I was still determined to treat this pregnancy like any other moment in life, and planned to work until my due date. HA! My doctor vetoed that plan pretty quickly. She let me work until 35 weeks, and said if the babies hadn’t come by week 38 I would have to be induced. She had my and the babies’ best interest in mind so I took her advice and went on maternity leave at 35 weeks.
They were born at 37 weeks and 3 days, which saved me the trouble of being induced.
I know how fortunate I was to have a safe and easy pregnancy. There were uncomfortable times, but they were temporary. In the end, my husband and I welcomed our two beautiful girls into the world.
I always tell people that carrying them was the easy part. It’s raising twins that is the real challenge!
It was 8 a.m. as I stood in the dusty parking lot, the hot summer sun already beating down on my sunscreened arms. I scanned the faces of each hiker as she passed, hoping to recognize any of them as members of my local women’s fitness group. Instead of our regular indoor exercise class, we had planned to meet at the trailhead of a 4-mile mountain hike just outside of town.
But no one else showed up.
The clock was ticking and the sun was rising higher in the sky. I figured the hike just wasn’t meant to happen today. I mean, by the time I got to the top I’d be melting in the heat. Plus, there was so much at home that needed to get done. My kids and husband were good sports about me going out for some exercise but I felt a little guilty about taking off on an adventure by myself. Anyway, I’d never hiked that trail before and it was probably too strenuous for someone as out of shape as myself.
Somewhere in the midst of self-doubt and mom-guilt, a tiny voice inside me began making an argument in favor of the adventure.
So I Stopped Being Mom and went on an Adventure
I took a deep breath and charged onward and upward. There was no knowing if the path ahead was going to be steep or rocky (it was both), or if I was going to be strong enough to make it to the top. But I sure as heck wasn’t going to let this turn into a missed opportunity.
I set a slow, steady pace and stuck with it, hoping to not burn out before reaching the summit.
Without anyone else to talk with, I had two hours alone with my own thoughts. As I plodded up that mountain I evaluated my progress in meeting life goals, how I can pursue my passions, and where I see myself in 5 years. These are things that I believe are important aspects of my identity, yet I never really put much thought into them.
What had started out as a fun fitness outing was also quickly turning into a test of perseverance. I was beginning to feel like Super Woman on a mission. If I could just finish this hike, was there anything I couldn’t do? I know it’s only 4 miles. But for a mom who has really been neglecting her workouts, (and did I mention it was HOT?), this was a big deal.