By: Kacie Bernstein
We took the plunge this past weekend and took our first family vacation (just the four of us) to San Diego. I couldn’t wait to see their eyes light up at their first glimpse of Shamu, excited to see if they would actually feed the sea lions. I was so happy as we entered the park, I actually got teary-eyed. We arrived a little early so only certain areas were open, and we decided to check out Shamu. It was truly spectacular to watch an animal that large at such a close proximity, and of course, it scared my son. A few minutes later we had our first accident of the day. He fell off a bench and hit his head –there was a drop of blood, but we were good.
We proceeded to feed the sea lions and check out the dolphin show, which was fascinating…for me! I gave both kids a bag of cookies during the show, and about halfway through saw one flying a few rows below; needless to say the cookies went away. The Sesame Street water area was a huge success, and luckily we knew to bring a change of clothes. After six hours, a few more bumps, some hugs, kisses, and tears, it was time to go. We headed back to the hotel, which they protested. I agree; there is no place like home. We took them to the baby pool –a huge hit –then off to Old Town for a great dinner. It truly was great, both the food and the children!!
We seemed to be on an upswing and ended the night with hugs and kisses. We woke up around 11:15 that night to my daughter coughing like the sea lions we fed earlier that day, crying and wheezing. After a lot of talking, my husband and I decided to call the doc. Per his instructions, we steamed up the bathroom then took her outside to the cold air, but there was no improvement. At 1:00 in the morning, my daughter and I were off to the ER, where they treated her for croup.
Sunday on our drive home my husband and I recapped the weekend. He had a great time. I was beginning to wonder if we went on the same vacation. He explained that he knew what to expect of our weekend, and, well, my expectations were set too high. My lesson of the weekend: instead of stressing over the flying cookie or screaming child in the restaurant, just enjoy the little moments because you can never get them back.
By: Kacie Bernstein
I finally did it. I took my kids to the park alone! My husband and mom have no issues taking them alone, but for me, well it just gives me way too much anxiety. There is a sweet little park down the street from our house; it is completely gated and my kids can use all of the equipment on their own. I loaded us up with tons of snacks, sand toys, and of course a cell phone in case we needed backup. I felt proud and accomplished; as moms of two or more know, this can be quite challenging.
More kids were entering the play area, but my attention was focused on two boys, probably 5 and 7, who were quite rambunctious. They were just being boys, climbing on top of the monkey bars, in capes, and jumping off. It made me nervous, and I was hoping that my son wouldn’t try to jump on the band wagon. I kept looking around –who was responsible for these boys? I asked if they were here with their mommy and they replied, no their babysitter. I saw a young girl sitting on the outside of the gated park…with her back to the play area. I was in shock, as were the other parents. These boys did not need a playing companion but someone to watch them and make sure they were being safe. I kept debating whether to say something. After all, was it really my place? Should I just mind my own business?
This went on for another 30 minutes. One of the boys left the gated area to go down a little hill that led to the LA River, which was completely out of eyeshot. WE all saw him leave, but the babysitter, not so much. That was it, I had to say something, after all, no one else was! I shouted to the woman that the child had just run down the hill. She replied, “that’s ok.” I shouted back with anger, “‘that’s ok’ to have your back to these children and not be aware of what they are doing?!” Her response: “they are fine.”
I was in disbelief, and my great day at the park with my kids had turned into disgust and anger. I couldn’t take it anymore and decided it was time to leave. I contemplated asking for the parents’ number to let them know about their terrible babysitter, but decided against it. I wished that I hadn’t; that morning haunted me all day!
By: Kacie Bernstein
I won’t lie…it’s been one of those weeks. One toddler is challenging, but two, well it’s enough to make you want to lock yourself in the bathroom…oh wait, I did!
At times this week I have wanted to run away, just for a couple hours of course, or maybe just one night at a great hotel! I have found myself yelling a lot, and turning into a mom that I am not proud of. But, I have also realized that sometimes it is the most challenging and trying of times that actually help to shape you into the person that you want to be. I have also learned to appreciate the little moments and try to not dwell on those times when my kids act like I’m invisible.
There are times when I don’t even want to be around me, and still, their love is so unbelievably unconditional. My daughter will just look at me with her crazy curls, big brown eyes and chubby cheeks and say, “Mommy, I love you.” It makes my heart melt.
My kids and husband were lying in bed together as I was getting ready for a bridal shower I asked my husband how I looked. My son said “Pretty Mommy”! These are the moments that make the tough days a bit more bearable; the hugs and kisses aren’t so shabby either. I always tell friends, kids will change your life forever, especially two at once, but there is truly nothing better.
By: Kacie Bernstein
When our twins were only a few weeks old I was given some very important advice: always be organized. I am the queen of procrastination but it made perfect sense to me, so I decided to put my best foot forward. I soon learned that with twins, this would be the only way to survive.
When they were infants I would line up their bottles for the entire day. They were, of course, on different formulas, one requiring that the formula be in the bottle first and the other, water first. We were stocked with formula, definitely enough for a rainy day or 20! Every night I would prep multiple bottles, diapers, and burp cloths in my room for the dreaded middle of the night wake-up calls, making sure that everything was an arm’s reach away.
At around two-and-a-half-months-old we started taking classes. I figured it was a good way to make friends and hopefully get some much needed pointers along the way. I would actually pack my diaper bag the night before and have it hanging from the stroller. I was the mom in class that others borrowed from -bottles, diapers, formula -you name it, I had it. Back then I wouldn’t dream of leaving the house without two changes of clothes, infant Tylenol, nail clippers, blankets -the list goes on and on. My husband thought I was crazy, but we always needed to be prepared for the “what if” situation.
As they got a little older and started eating solids, I would actually soak their oatmeal overnight; this way it would just need to be heated in the morning and their food would be on the table before I got them out of bed. Looking back, it might have been a tad neurotic, but it worked for me, and so far so good!
Lately I have been prepping a lot less. Maybe it’s because I finally realized that as long my bag has diapers, wipes, water, and food what can go wrong?
By: Kacie Bernstein
We landed in Nice, and besides being utterly exhausted since I was too upset to sleep, I needed to make sure that the kids were okay. We checked in with my father-in-law; he said all was good and so far they didn’t even miss us…which of course was bittersweet.
We checked in to the hotel and started our day of sight-seeing, eating, and drinking. I was fine from that point on and decided it was time to get into vacation mode. Due to the time difference, we would wake up every morning with an update of the kids’ entire day, and that they were doing exceptionally well. We decided to not call or Skype as that might turn everything upset down. Besides my minor meltdown, we had an AMAZING time away. The kids thrived while we were gone and were on their best behavior, that was of course until we got home!
Our week-long getaway was just a faint memory once the kids woke up from their nap, but those were some of the best hugs ever! For one week, they had become independent toddlers and we were able to just live in the moment and be free…and we are already planning our next, adult only, vacation!
By: Kacie Bernstein
“You guys are going to LOVE this place”, was what I kept telling the kids on the way to the Americana in Glendale. I needed an activity to fill the morning, and their play area seemed like a genius solution!
The kids got so excited when they saw the dancing water. I told them that their surprise was even better than the water. Their little eyes lit up when they saw the awesome climbing structure, and my jaw dropped…in complete shock…there was “caution” tape all around it. The very nice security guard walked over and sealed our fate; the play area was broken and closed for repair. How in the world was I supposed to explain this to my two-year-olds? They seemed to take the news pretty well though, and I let them run free on the grassy area, but couldn’t take my eyes off of my son for fear that he would run straight into the dancing water!!
We went to the bookstore and played with the Thomas the Train Table and even bought stickers for their potty chart. (That’s a whole other story!) I promised that we would be back when the “doctor” fixed it, and our morning was officially a success…unlike our morning a few days earlier when I had to almost drag two screaming children out of Playsource during two full-fledged tantrums. It’s amazing how having twins can sometimes make you feel so empowered and in charge, and then other days I truly believe that they are the ones calling the shots. Do they lie in bed at night and decide my fate for the next day? Sometimes they feel sorry for me and decide to throw me a bone, and other days bedtime can’t come soon enough!
By: Kacie Bernstein
Twins provide double the joy, hugs, and kisses, but also double the tantrums and children to entertain at 5:00 in the morning…
My excitement was heightening in the weeks leading up to our overseas adventure. It would be our first real vacation since our kids were born, and a much-needed getaway! I expected to be sad but didn’t realize how intense those feelings would be when saying goodbye to our kids. I was so over the crazy restaurant antics and continual whining, that saying goodbye seemed like a piece of cake. They are only two, so the night before our departure I started to explain what was going to happen. Since they are so young it didn’t really click and then the guilt set in. How could I leave my babies, was it selfish of me to go on vacation? We tucked them in for their nap, knowing that we wouldn’t see them for an entire week. The water works…I was the only one crying though. I hugged and kissed them like crazy and told them how much I loved them and then made a very dramatic exit from the room…think Gone with the Wind!
I couldn’t stop crying on the plane. My husband was very supportive but I am sure that deep down he was concerned that our entire trip was going to be like this. I just hope my in-laws can make it through the week!
By: Kacie Bernstein
As a kid, I was a frequent visitor to the ER. Not only was I an active child, but a clumsy one as well. My mom was a trooper since all my accidents happened while my dad was at work; I always wondered how I would react in a similar situation.
It was a typical Monday night. I was trying to kill some time before we all piled in my bed to watch The Fresh Beat Band and go to sleep. The kids were throwing blankets over their head and playing peek-a-boo, everyone was giggling and smiling…that was until the thud which was followed by a very loud cry. What had just happened?…I was sitting right there! I reluctantly pulled the blanket from my son’s head, and that’s when I saw the blood. He had tripped on a pillow and smacked his forehead against the bed. My daughter was amazing and obeyed everything that flew out of my mouth. She quickly collected pacifiers and her brother’s favorite bear. I tried to control the bleeding which thankfully subsided in only a few minutes, but the bruise was forming and I was able to get a better view of the cut. I scrambled for the phone to call my mom; luckily she only lives a few minutes away. My husband wasn’t surprised since our son is fearless, but was shocked when I mentioned he might need stitches. It was going to take him well over an hour to get home and I figured since the bleeding had stopped we would be fine.
I called the doctor and remembered there was a hospital in Encino –the Pediatric Acute Care Center, which was for after-hours pediatric emergencies. We decided to go there in lieu of the ER. I packed a bag filled with cookies and toys and we were on our way. The doctors were amazing, and were able to glue the wound instead of using stitches. Unfortunately, he did need to be restrained during the five-minute process but I am hoping that it was more traumatizing for me than him. We both pulled through with flying colors, and the only memory of this fateful night should be the scar on his eyebrow.
For those of you in the San Fernando Valley, please keep this number on you at all times: 818-788-5437.
[Photo Credit: bitzcelt]
By: Kacie Bernstein
We had wanted to go to the Kidspace Children’s Museum in Pasadena for a while, and were surprised to find out that it was open on Easter Sunday. We were a little disappointed when it started raining during our drive, but it only lasted a few minutes. The kids were so excited to play on all of the cool new toys and we loved watching their faces light up with such excitement. The day was off to a great start…
My son is extremely adventurous and decided to take part in one of the climbing structures. He made it all the way to the top when his shoe fell off and he proudly looked down and lifted it for us to see. We knew one of us would need to retrieve the shoe, so I graciously volunteered my husband. The climb is definitely not made for adults, but he managed to get our son and the shoe…disaster avoided.
We moved on to a new area and were standing in awe of the very large tarantulas and learning all about different types of bees, and the moment hit: I looked down and realized that my son was missing. I looked at my husband as if we were hiding him and knew where he was. The following three minutes would be the longest of our lives. We immediately went into panic mode and went searching for him. I was not yet screaming at the top of my lungs because I didn’t want to scare my daughter. My heart was racing and I couldn’t help but think the worst. Feeling completely helpless I turned around to see the most amazing sight: my husband holding our son. Our eyes met, sharing our sense of relief. He had wandered off to an area where we had played earlier in the day. I grabbed him and couldn’t stop hugging and kissing him –that was of course in between me explaining that he was never to leave us, ever again. All it took was one second. Life can change in an instant, and I thank my lucky stars that everything turned out okay.
By: Kacie Bernstein
I’ll admit it; I am a worrier and probably inherited it from my parents, even though my mom tries to deny it all the time! It started once I had kids and has only gotten worse over the past two years. In the beginning I would worry about them not sleeping enough, if they were eating enough and…well, just about everything.
My worries escalate every day, but an email that circulated in our area a few weeks ago brought a whole new worry to the table. There was an alleged kidnapping of two elementary school boys at a local park. A man, accompanied by a 12-year-old boy, was said to have approached them and asked if they wanted to see his sleeping dog. The boys said no and safely ran to their parents. After investigation, the police concluded that the boys had made the story up, but that didn’t stop me from making myself sick over it. I couldn’t fall asleep that night thinking about that helpless boy, and all the terrified and lost children present and past.
Even though this story ended well, this is happening every day all over the country. As a mom of twins I am very reluctant to take my kids alone to the park, a mall, or even around the block without the stroller. The park incident made me think about “Stranger Danger” and when is the appropriate time to discuss this with your children. Mine are obviously too young to understand this and the last thing I want to do is scare them, but how do we convey the message to a toddler that not everyone is their friend? How do we define a stranger when we see them every day and teach our children to be polite and smile and say hello. How do we explain that the person we said hi to at Trader Joe’s is actually a stranger and not one of mommy’s friends? I guess this question, and many others, will lead to a few more sleepless nights!