Just Survive...

I get asked a lot, "How do you do it?" My answer is always the same: "Just survive..."

As you may (or may not) know, Hershey and I work together at the high school that I graduated from. Hershey teaches history and I teach English. Our workloads are not exactly light, with all of the writing that our kids do in the subject areas we teach, and we can't just put on a video and wing it all day. So we put a lot of energy daily into planning and grading. We work our butts off all day long at work, through our lunches, and preps, and duties. There is just no other way.

Jane and Emma are also in "school" again this year, at the same Early Learning Center that they were in last year. They are there 3 full days, and then one day they go to my mom's house and the other day they go to my mother-in-law's house. It's a great set up, because they get the mental stimulation of learning and socializing at school, and they get personal time to bond with their grandmas. Plus that lightens up our purses a little bit in terms of child care costs.

Our daily schedule during the school year right now goes like this:

5:35 Hershey and I wake up

(Emma has also been getting up with us or earlier lately, so we purchased the girls these Teach Me Time clocks, which we can set to turn green at a prescribed time. So far, they have been working out! We told them that Sunny Sally brought them and that she wants them to stay in bed until the light turns green.)

6:45-7:00 Out the door. On days that the girls go to school, we need to be out by 6:45. Grandma Squad days are 7:00. Either way, the moments leading up to our departure are always a whirlwind of screaming and tears and me wrestling the girls to get dressed and do their hair while Hershey drags 97 bags of crap out to the car.

7:45 Get to to work. Our work day goes from 7:45-3:30/4:00 depending on the day. When Hershey coaches basketball during the winter months, he usually doesn't get home until 8:00 p.m. No matter what, we usually don't get home until...

5:00 Arrive back at home. Unload the 97 bags of crap and put all of the dishes from the day into the dishwasher. Prep dinner. Jane and Emma either settle in on the couch with their Kindle Fires, or watch an episode or two of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. Either way, they are decompressing and zoning out for about an hour, which they usually really need after their day on-the-go.

Side note about the Kindle Fire:
My mother-in-law bought these for our kids at Christmas, because they LOVED playing with everyone's cell phones and iPads. The Kindle Fire kids edition comes with a foam outer box, which is awesome because I promise you that my kids have dropped theirs down the stairs like 400 times at least and they still work great.

It also comes fully loaded with educational videos, books, and apps for them to choose from. The kids quickly learn how to navigate all of these options, and it gives them freedom and independence to choose what they want to watch or play with.  Additionally, you can program the Kindle to spend a certain amount of time on each app (more time for books, less time for videos) and to turn on and off at specified times.

Also, in terms of security, the kids can't purchase ANYTHING without switching profiles on the Kindle, and in order to switch to a parent account they need to know and be able to type in the password. So far I have ZERO complaints about these little gems, as Emma has even started getting hers off of her charger when she gets up before the green light in the morning and then lays in bed watching Daniel Tiger or Blue's Clues and we can get a few extra zzz's.  It's a win-win.

6:00-6:30 Eat dinner. We sit down to eat dinner together each and every night, except some Fridays when Hershey and I have HAD ENOUGH of the girls' screaming and throwing food around at dinner time, so we order in after they go to bed.  On the nights that we decide NOT to eat with Jane and Emma, I set them up in front of the TV and they hang and watch a movie and eat together.

7:00-7:30 Bath Time. We've been using all kinds of calming bath additions lately, since Jane and Emma tend to be totally wound up at night.  Their favorites are this Babyganics chamomile bubble bath and this Everyday Shea lavender bath. We then finish up with Babo Botanicals lavender lotion.

7:30-8:45 Bed time for Jane and Emma.  By this point, their clock night light has come on and they know that it's night-night time. Depending on whether they took a nap or not, they go to bed any time in this hour time frame.

9:00 Hershey and I crash into bed. This doesn't leave Hershey and I much time for ourselves or each other, but we definitely make up for that on the weekend, taking the girls out on excursions and spending time together and with friends and family.

It's also worthwhile to note that:
1:00-3:00 Jane and Emma "nap" wherever they are. This means different things in different places. At home, they usually will lay down and nap until around 2:30, at school they have started laying down and napping for the full 2 hours, they sleep about an hour at my mom's house, and they take no nap for my mother-in-law, so they usually just sleep in the car ride from her house to our school (about 20 minutes). Their napping is totally erratic and inconsistent, so we've started adjusting their bedtimes according to what they did with their naps during the day.

I'm hoping that with summer coming and more outdoor time, Jane and Emma will settle into a better sleeping pattern and we will get some extra time to do the things we love, things that don't revolve around the girls. As much as we love our kids and want to spend time with them, doing things for ourselves is important, too, and while we struggle to find time during the school year to even BREATHE, the warmer months bring with them some time to slow down and spend time relaxing and rejuvenating.

So when someone says to me, "How are you doing it?" my answer will always be, "We are just surviving." Because most days, that's exactly how it feels.

I hope that you have a great Easter weekend! We are prepping to dye some eggs and put together an EPIC Easter egg hunt over here. Wish me luck that we don't end up covered in egg dye!

(Affiliate links are included in this post. If you like any of the items I've mentioned, please click on the links to purchase, as I will receive a small commission from the website, which will help with the upkeep of this blog. And if you have any questions, please leave them in the comments! Thank you for your time!)

Terror-tastic Twos

Every year I make the same resolutions about this blog. Write more. Link to good stuff. Make some money.  Bah! It never sticks.

So now I am vowing to do what I love: Write.  I'm going to write like no one is looking. Because, let's face it, that's the only way that I can paint a clear picture of what a working-mom-of-twin-toddler's life is like.

Terrible Two's have kicked in full-force over here at #groffnation. This year has been so difficult in terms of teaching lessons and having patience and finding time. Jane and Emma are UBER-independent/stubborn. And if I hear one more person say to me, "Yeah but that's GOOD! It will serve them so well when they grow up!" fists are gonna fly. Hell hath no fury like a woman toddler scorned...

The fact of the matter is, they are adorable angels when other people are around.  The Grandma Squad -- FORGET IT. It's like we are having two different conversations in different rooms about different people when we try to talk to our moms about our kids. 

But when Hershey and I are home alone with them, the GLOVES COME OFF.  


It's frightening.

Emma is Miss Independent.  She can go upstairs to her room and play by herself very nicely for 45 minutes straight without us hearing a peep out of her.  Not a crash, not a whine, not a yelp for help. But if you go in there and do ONE THING that she doesn't want you to do, all hell breaks loose. The other night I made the mistake of putting lotion on her arms. Let me repeat that, I PUT LOTION ON HER ARMS.  She screamed and kicked and cried hysterically on the floor for about 5 straight minutes before Hershey could even get near her to pick her up, at which point she dissolved into a sniffling, red-faced mess on his shoulder.

In the meantime, Jane is a Princess. She refuses to do anything for herself, and if we even DARE suggest that she try it before I go ahead and do it for her, she acts like you just ran over her favorite baby doll with a tractor and throws herself on the floor and then refuses to do anything that you ask of her for at least 20 minutes. 

"Janey want some chocolate milk?" 
<Zuul from Ghostbusters voice> "NOOOOOOOOOOO....."

And then, in the blink of an eye, she is climbing into my lap saying, "I love you Mommy you so pretty and I love Daddy, it's so nice to have you at home Daddy! Can I have a lollipop?"  It's freaky, folks.

So for now, we are just riding out the waves and seeing what works. They are incredibly curious, and talkative, and sometimes infuriatingly sweet. They are beautiful, and kind, and they are quick learners. They are polite, and they love their friends, and they LOVE their cats. They are also hellions about very specific things that Hershey and I have not been able to figure out yet. In a 5 minute span this weekend, Jane peed her pants and then threw a deck of cards all over the living room, Emma ate a yellow crayon and then kicked the ottoman right out from under her sister, and Jane punched Emma in the face with a science flask to which Emma responded by back-handing Jane in the face. And people wonder why I love grocery shopping (without my kids).

Oh, and they are both, pretty much, POTTY TRAINED. We still have one or two accidents a week and wear a pull-up for nap and bedtime, but otherwise, we're finally there people. After 3 long years of double diaper duty, I can finally say we are at the end of the road.

Besides time-outs and threatening to run away from home, what's working with your terrible two-ers? Please tell me you feel my pain! I read some mommy-blogs that talk about enchanting leprechaun breakfasts and leisurely strolls and baking chocolate chip cookies with their kiddos and I want to run to their houses, ring their doorbells, and drop my kids off there for a week just so that they can get a glimpse of "the real world".  Who's with me?!?

Have a great week, everyone!

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Dear Shop Rite

Dear ShopRite,

I have a bone to pick with you.

Before becoming a mother, I loved shopping at ShopRite.  The prices were right, the quality was good, and it was easy.

Now that I have 2 children, you have made my life so much more difficult.  So I have a couple of suggestions.

First off, those carts with the little cars on the front for toddlers were sent from Hell.  As in, I'm pretty sure that Satan himself designed them and shipped them out to you with a sign that said, "Works great for moms".  The horns are always broken with jagged plastic edges sticking out, I can never find one cart that has 2 seat belts that are not broken, and when I do, they are so stretched out and twisted that my kids can Houdini their way out of them in a hot second while I'm looking at the soup selection (and don't even get me started on how out of order the soup selection is, I didn't know that cutting the top off of a box and shoving it onto the shelf was considered "stocking").  They are also ALWAYS filthy.  Like I-wanna-shower-my-kids-in-scalding-water-when-we-get-home dirty.  Target got it right with the 2-seater shopping carts and Stop 'N Shop has invested in them, too.  Get with the program.

ShopRite Shopping Cart
Target Shopping Cart

Moving on...

There really needs to be a designated time for these ShopRite from Home representatives to be out and about.  It's difficult enough navigating the crammed aisles at 10 a.m. during a Can-Can sale without taking out a granny or two, but then you add these "private shoppers".  And I get it.  I, too, have ShoppedRite from Home (and so do some of my best friends).  But these shoppers come out like a million little worker bees with their guns beeping away and there is barely enough room to squeeze by in my over-sized, over-crammed "toddler friendly" shopping cart without possibly losing a child's hand in the process.  I suggest you either designate a couple of times a day, perhaps during the store's quiet hours or even overnight (job growth opp!!!) when the shoppers can come out and do their thing without making the rest of our lives a living Hell.  Just sayin.

And while we are on the subject of the overcrowded store, let's talk about your displays.  If you are going to put up displays, can we PLEASE keep them out of the aisles and off of cardboard display cases? While I am wheeling my thousand pound cart down the aisle, I can't actually SEE my children in their little "car" since my cart is piled so high with boxes of Cheerios, and therefore I dodge down aisles at the speed of light grabbing at whatever off of the shelves before a little hand darts out of the cart and turns a display full of gravy packets upside down. And since my "toddler friendly" cart is about 65 feet long, when I round the end of an aisle, I cannot see the end cap full of glass bottles before I hit the corner of it...I suggest using better signage on the shelves or maybe even making a "shop at your own risk" aisle where you put all of the sale items on displays.  Then you can set up a camera and maybe even make a little bit of money back off of broadcasting the videos of people toppling over under a mountain of toilet paper that spells out "2016".

Finally, let's talk about this whole "candy in the checkout aisle" thing. If someone is coming to the store FOR CANDY, then they know where to find it. You have a WHOLE AISLE dedicated to candy and cookies and junk. Why do we have to have a case FILLED with candy from the floor to 6 feet high in a 3 foot wide space?  Little hands grab that shit so quick, I have to unload as much as I can from my cart to the conveyor belt from the very back of the belt, and then RUN them past the candy display as fast as I can cram that 2 ton cart through the aisle, with my heart in my throat for the 12 seconds that it takes me to wedge the cart through (because you KNOW it's too wide to fit) for fear of one of my little ones losing a hand or an arm or her head on the way through.

Let's not even go there with the parking situation and the fact that I have to leave my kids IN THE CAR to go hunt down a "toddler friendly" cart somewhere because they are never in a designated spot...I am sweating just thinking about it.

Please ShopRite, I am begging you. Your best customers are families.  We shop the most often and buy the most stuff because we are feeding the most bellies.  Please take a moment to think of those of us who can't afford to pay the $10.95 personal shopper fee plus the tip for the poor souls loading our cars for ShopRite from Home. Think of those of us who are lugging our little ones with us to get them out of the house for the morning to keep them from killing each other. Only you can make this right.

Your loyal customer and Mom-of-Twins-so-I-need-a-two-seater,
Jessica Groff

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Potty Training Twin Girls

Now, I know that I am treading on very thin ice by writing this post, but I feel like I need to really document what I'm going through, because if I hear one more person say, "HOW OLD ARE THEY? And they're not potty trained yet?!" or "My daughter was potty trained in 3 days, it really works!" or any variation of the two, I may have to carve my eardrums out with a spoon. And I know that there HAVE to be other people out there who feel the same...Right???
Because we have been potty training since July.  JULY.  Almost SIX MONTHS of my 35th year of life have revolved around sitting on the floor of our bathroom, cleaning up pee/poop/combopeepoop off of the floor, talking about potty training, thinking about potty training, wishing for potty training, praying for potty training...You get the point.

And for as many articles I as read about making this a "magical experience" for my toddlers, something that should NOT bring them any stress or strife, I, myself, am SO. FREAKIN. STRESSED. OUT. about potty training that I can't see straight sometimes.

Now, today and Sunday, we had two small number 2 victories with our two 2 year olds. On Sunday, Emma, through tears and pushing and screaming and crying, pooped on the big girl potty.  And Jane followed suit today.  In the words of a fellow beloved MoM, "Ah, the things we get excited about."
But, for reals.  If I have to wipe one more adult poop that has been smeared across a little tiny adorable heiney by a diaper, I may lose my marbles.
The reality of the situation is, when you have multiple children of the same age in one household, your diaper budget is astronomical. I use Amazon Mom & Prime and Subscribe & Save, and I still spend over $100 a month on diapering needs.  I mean, once my kids are potty trained, Hershey and I may be able to GO OUT TO EAT once a month.  On a DATE! Woahhhh, guys.
So here's how our journey has gone. Last summer, at the urging of my mother, who had me potty trained at 1 year old, we bought the girls potty seats.  However, we didn't have much luck with them at ALL. So our goal for this year, and this summer to be more specific, was to get the girls potty trained before returning to school in September. I had it all planned out. We were going to do the three day method before leaving for our annual vacation in Avalon. Everyone said it worked. I was prepped for victory. We had the potty chairs, 7 pairs of undies per girl, rugs picked up, and no where to go. 
Well, the first day, everyone screamed and cried, including me. One girl would pee all over the floor, and as I was running her up to the potty, Hershey would stay downstairs and clean up the mess, as the other peed on the floor right next to him. And then there were the poopy UNDIES.  Nothing more disgusting, people. I'm not kidding. Or exaggerating.
I quickly gave up on the 3 day method.
We went the rest of the summer with trial and error. Some days, they would be excited to pee on the potty, and would wear their undies for most of the day without incident. Other days was a free-for-all. We tried bribery with candy. We tried sticker charts. We got the potty books. We got a new potty seat with a matching stool. We literally tried.it.all.
By the end of the summer, Hershey and I had been defeated by the wills of our daughters. They went back to school in their Pull Ups (which was the ONLY successful transition we were able to make).
Last week, at our 2.5 year check up, our doctor advised that we go at their pace. Right now they are pretty good at wearing their undies all day at home, and we can even go out for an hour or two at a time with them in their undies without any accidents. But when it comes to day care and the Grandma Squad houses, they are not havin' it. 
So this week, we decided to use some begging and bargaining tactics. The girls have been asking Santa for a pink and purple puppy for WEEKS, so when Hershey and I sat down on Black Friday weekend and ordered a set of pink and purple puppies for the girls' stockings for Christmas, I immediately began using them as leverage. Not one of my proudest moments, BUT, on Sunday, it worked.  
"Emma, if you go poopy on the potty, I will give you a purple puppy..."
"Don't you want that purple puppy? I could give it to you right now, if you go poopy on the potty..."
*Pushing, grunting, straining*
I cried.  And called everyone I knew. And sent text messages to the rest.
Because this was the beginning of no more poopy diapers for me. No more garbage cans that smell like shit (literally). 
Today, I am sick as a dog and home with the girls, but Janey gave me the best Xmas present of all...
She got her pink puppy today.
(Don't judge her outfit, she picked it out herself.)

My best advice for potty training?  THERE IS NO GOOD ADVICE FOR POTTY TRAINING. Be prepared to go at their pace, and to understand that you will NEVER WIN. And the more you push them, the less they want to go. And the harder it will be to get them to go. 
I did stumble upon a GREAT podcast this week called Twin Talks that talks about Twinning, and there are at least 2 podcasts on their channel that speak directly to gear and training, and it was helpful to hear other women who have struggled with this same issue. I found these great toilet seats that I've asked my mom to get us for Christmas (I know, exciting, right?!) through listening to this podcast, so I would definitely recommend it for those of you getting ready to embark on this WILD ride.
Today, I have probably spent a total of at least 2 hours just sitting on the floor of the bathroom. I definitely lost 2-3 pounds running up and down the stairs for false alarms, and I'm EXHAUSTED. But both girls pooped on the potty today, and we only had one accident (and she was standing in FRONT of the potty, getting ready to go when she couldn't hold it anymore, so I count that as a WIN).
Now on to the next stage: Venturing out for the day in undies.  
Cross your fingers for us.
Happy Hump Day, peeps!
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If you like what you just read please click to send a quick vote for me on Top Mommy Blogs- The best mommy blog directory featuring top mom bloggers
(Affiliate links are included in this post. If you like any of the items I've mentioned, please click on the links to purchase, as I will receive a small commission from the website, which will help with the upkeep of this blog. And if you have any questions, please leave them in the comments! Thank you for your time!)

We're BAAAAAA-aaaaaack!

As you can probably tell by now, we are in the process of moving back to Blogger. A LOT has changed since I last wrote, and I've been trying to move everything back to Blogger from WordPress over the last couple of weekends, with very little success.  So if anyone has some quick and easy advice on how to do that without totally destroying the integrity of the original posts, I would really appreciate it.

In other news, I've been doing some soul-searching with this whole blogging thing. I remember a way long time ago when a few someones told me that I should become a writer, and I poo-pooed the idea because, well, I've never been very good at being told what to do. I always knew that if I HAD to write for SOMEONE that I would come to resent it, what with the nature of writing-as-profession. And in an attempt to join the Mommy-Bloggersphere, I lost myself somewhere.  I lost my purpose, and became a salesperson (something I've never ever been much good at, just ask any of my former retail bosses).

With that being said, I want to get back to basics. I'm doing this for me, and for the plethora of Mommies out there trying to find their ways. We are all in this together, and if I can create a window of hope for any other mommies (mommies with twins, singletons, higher-order multiples, a few kiddos of different ages, only children, etc.), that's what I originally set out to do.

2 Year Updates

Wow it is hard to believe that almost a month has passed since my last post!  Time really does fly when you have twin toddlers, a household, a yard, and work to take care of!  I have to admit that I have missed checking in on this space, so here is my first post to try to get out of my summer vacation rut and back into blogging world.
Hello World?
First, I have really been struggling with the identity of this blog.  Am I here to document our crazy daily lives so that we can look back one day and say ‘Holy hell how did we survive that?!”?  Or to chronicle the lives of our little ones so that when they ask us one day, we have a place to go for answers, considering what a whirlwind their babyhood has been so far?  Or am I here to help other MoMs, to hold hands and try to lend some reassurance to those who are walking in the shoes that we have already been in?  I really have no idea where to go from here, so I’m going to continue sharing stories and items that are helping us get by, and hopefully someone will stumble upon this little slice of Internet that I have claimed and find it helpful one day.
That all being said, I was hopeful in January that with the girls turning 2 that I would be able to turn this little Blog into a side business of sorts.  My hubby and I invested in it, and truth be told, between teaching high school and raising twins, I just don’t have the time or energy to update it as much as I would need to in order to make back the money that I am spending on my domain name.  In January, when I am due for a renewal, I’m thinking that we will head back over to Blogger with our new content, so that we can save some much-needed $$ for next summer.  It makes me sad, but having a free space to share my thoughts feels a lot more liberating and a lot less high-stakes.
This summer has flown by. We spent a few days and then a full week at the beach house, a few days with our friends lakeside, more than a few days on home improvement projects (all of which involved a new coat of paint), a few days potty training, and a bunch of days lounging around the house, waiting for the heat to break. I also spent a lot of time messing around in my flower beds, and I’m hopeful that I’ve laid the groundwork for prettier beds next year.
Emma and Jane had a lot of ups and downs this summer. Toddlerhood has not exactly been easy for them so far. Last summer I worked on words with them, learning how to identify objects by name and how to speak in simple sentences, and how to walk and play together. This summer I’ve been working on how to voice frustrations, listen to directions, and ask for help.  I’ve cleaned up what feels like a million scraped knees and iced a trillion head bonks.  We also had to teach them how to sleep late, as getting up at 6:15 every morning while on vacation wasn’t looking too good to me.  It’s been a rough ride, but we are getting there.
I am proud to say that Emma is almost daytime potty trained.  She gets through most naps almost dry, and can wear big girl panties the rest of the day with very few accidents!  Jane is almost ready to START.  She sees her sister going potty and she wants to go, too, which I guess is what it’s all about.  More on potty training in a later post, as I feel like it deserves is own post.
For the rest of the summer, well, we have about 2 weeks left, and I plan to spend it enjoying my daughters, my friends, and my home.  Once the school year starts we tend to move in fast forward, and although I NEVER feel like I get everything that I wanted out of my summer, I feel like this was a pretty good summer.  From a night or two sitting around our fire pit to swimming in our friends’ pools, to birthday parties galore, we have tried to squeeze every last moment that we could out of this summer, and I think it’s been pretty good to us.
I’m hopeful (again) that I will be able to update this space more frequently in the upcoming months.  I have some pretty good posts planned,  and although this school year is looking like it may be challenging with a new classroom, new classes, and SGOs, Jane and Emma are not going BACKWARDS in age, so I’m hoping I’ll be able to slow down a little bit to spend some time breathing with my hubby and my kids.  It really is true what they say — once you have kids, time starts rushing by.
Hope you are having a great summer, friends!
The End.
The End
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