Featured Blogger Interview: Dianna of The Kennedy Adventures

Today’s Featured Blogger is Dianna, of the Kennedy Adventures! Dianna is a busy mom of 4, including a teenager, 10 month old identical twin boys, and a three year old daughter! When she’s not taking care of kiddos, or working part time as a nurse, Dianna has time to share her thoughts on life, raising kids, frugal living, and she even throws in some cool ER stories on her blog, the Kennedy Adventures!

L: You have mentioned that you try to follow the principles of Attachment Parenting. Can you explain a little about what they are? Does having multiples make AP more difficult?

D: AP (Attachment Parenting) is a parenting lifestyle, that focuses on creating and nurturing strong relationships between parents and children. It stresses principles such as birth preparation, breastfeeding, baby wearing, co-sleeping, and positive discipline.
This comes very easy to me, partially because I have such a supportive husband, and because this way of parenting seems very natural to me. Babies and children have such an intense need for us, as parents, to help meet their needs, and to stay physically close to them.
I had a drug free labor and delivery with Rachel, as well as Adam & Thomas. I nursed Rachel up until 20 months (had to wean due to my pregnancy with the boys). I’m still nursing the boys – they are 20 months old, and show no signs of stopping. With Rachel, we ALL wore her – me, my husband, and my best friend! When the boys came along, I was a little weary of baby wearing, so my husband wore them much more than I did. It’s also no secret that in my house, most nights, you’ll find me, or Brett in the bed with at least 2 of the 3 small children. Of the 8 major AP principles, the one I have the most trouble with is positive discipline. Rachel is very headstrong, and it’s hard to correct her, without squashing her spirit.
Is being an AP mom harder with multiples? Absolutely. My boys have cried much more than I like to admit, for the simple fact that we’re outnumbered and exhausted. I miss being able to just sit and soak in a baby, like I could do with Rachel and Abby. I don’t feel like I know the boys as well as I did my singleton girls, just for the lack of individual time with them. I try to stay positive, and remind myself that not only do they have myself and Brett, but they have each other, as well as big sisters who love them dearly!

L: How does being an ER nurse affect you as a mom? Does having medical knowledge make it a little less stressful, since you know what to do in every situation- or does it complicate things?


D: I’ve been a nurse for over 16 years, and have been working in the Emergency Room about two and a half years. Up until that point, I had ZERO pediatric nursing experience. Taking care of sick children still scares me senseless – there’s been a few occasions I’ve cried on the way home, or in the bathroom at work!

Having medical knowledge is a bit of a Catch 22: I know a lot, and would theoretically know how to respond in an emergency, God forbid, if anything were to happen to any of my children. I’ll be honest and tell you that I know I’d be a basket case, and I’d be just a mom, and not a nurse. I’ve had to take Rachel in twice for wicked stomach bugs. (the first time, I was pregnant – just didn’t know I was carrying the twins!) I tried very hard not to be a know it all nurse momma. We had a ‘near miss’ on Christmas Eve, and almost had to take Adam in for stitches. After consulting with my best friend, who is also an ER nurse, we decided to stay home. Thank goodness!

I tend to wait things out with my children – in other words, I’m not a mother who runs the kids to the doctor at every sniffle. I try to take care of things at home by myself, and head to the pediatrician as a last resort.
L: What are some of your favorite multiple mom blogs to read?

D: I’ve forgotten how I found all these blogs, but I do follow a lot of other moms of multiples.

Kim, at The Mommy Machine: I adore her stories of Alaska, and her stories of her girls.

Helene, at I’m Living Proof God Has a Sense of Humor: She makes me laugh, and I love the fact that she’s not afraid to post pictures of the total chaos her children create in the house. It looks like mine, honey!
Cheryl, at Twinfatuation: She makes me laugh, and cry, and I love reading her Bad Haiku on Friday!
Missy, at Two Little Monkeys: I’m uber jealous of her mad crafty skills, and the fact that her house always looks gorgeous!
Heather, at It’s Twinsanity!: I admire this woman so much, since she is raising a house full of beautiful children, while her husband is deployed overseas. I’ve never seen a post on her blog whining about life (like I do frequently!)L: Having a teenager as well as three small children must be extremely challenging! How are you doing things differently with the younger kids than you did with your first?

D: Sigh. The first comment I usually get about Abby is, “oh, she must be so much help!”. When she wants to help, she does a fabulous job. She’s a typical teenager, and sitting around hanging out with 3 small children really isn’t her idea of a lot of fun! The little ones ADORE her, and they go running to her when they see her. That really warms my heart!

As Rachel is getting older, she and Abby bicker a LOT. (Right, like I need that, on top of refereeing fights between Adam, Thomas, and Rachel!) I try to look at it from Abby’s shoes – she was an only child for 10 years. She was devastated when I got pregnant. I feel badly for her at times, but as the oldest of 5 children, I can’t imagine being an only child.
I carry a lot of ‘mom guilt’ around, as I feel like I’m a better mother now, than I was when Abby was small. I have a wonderful husband, incredibly supportive friendships, and I’m much more confident in my parenting skills. I talk to Abby a lot about when she was younger, and try to explain how different I am now, as compared to then. I work a LOT less now, than I did when Abby was small. Back then, I was a ‘career woman’, and as I’ve gotten older, I realize that my family is my priority. I do a lot more with my children – playgroups, storytimes, field trips; than I did 10 years ago. I credit the Internet for providing me with so many more resources, and improving my parenting skills!
L: Your boys are identical; as their mom, do they look very different to you? Do you dress them alike often?
D: I was scared to death that I would mix the boys up when they were smaller. Initially, due to the breech extraction, Thomas’ lower half (hips down to his feet) were bruised, so he was easy to identify. We kept their hospital ID bracelets on for about a week after we got home. After that, we began writing their initials on the sole of their feet with a Sharpie. After every diaper change or bath, we would check the initial, and mark it again. We had a few ‘close calls’, when a letter was wearing off, or we weren’t sure what we had written in the middle of the night!
Around 6 months, I started being able to distinguish between the two boys, without looking at the bottom of their feet first! Slowly, we started leaving the Sharpie in the drawer. Thomas developed a birthmark, so that helped as well. As they’ve gotten older, I think it’s becoming easier to tell them apart. Physically, Adam’s face is longer, while Thomas’ face is rounder. They are the same height now, but Adam still weighs about a pound more than Thomas. Personality-wise, they are very different. Adam is my funny man – he is always trying to make me laugh. Thomas is a little quieter, and more of a love bug. To be honest, there are still days when I can get them mixed up, at least briefly!
We are very lucky to have older nephews who hand down a lot of clothes to us, so I don’t have to buy a whole lot of clothes. I do dress them in identical outfits, especially for special occasions. It’s just too cute to pass up! If they are not dressed alike, I try to at least do both boys in khakis, or jeans, etc. Brett never dresses them alike, unless I lay out the outfits! It makes him crazy!

L: You have a mother’s helper to give you a hand with the kids a few days per week- can you tell us exactly what a mother’s helper is, and how it works?

D: As everyone here knows, it’s a full time job just to keep up with my small fry, much less my teenager, the house, plus working outside the home part time. My husband is a Realtor, and is able to do a lot of his work from home. Unfortunately, it’s a bit difficult to make sales calls, negotiate contracts, etc, while trying to keep the boys from tearing the house down.
One day, while he was out with the Kennedy Kaboodle, he was approached by a nanny. She referred him to a local child care agency. I never thought I could afford any help, but after I talked with the owner of the company, I was sold. I explained to her what we wanted – someone to come in, help hold one baby while the other baby nursed, keep Rachel occupied, feed/diaper babies, and help keep the toys manageable. The company vets the applicants: background check, criminal record, ensures CPR training, etc. I really liked the folks that we had.
Unfortunately, my boys are SO clingy, I didn’t feel like a mother’s helper was all that much help. (Brett will tell you otherwise) Rachel is easy to keep occupied .. books, Barbies, etc. The boys are very tight with myself, and their father. Short of my best friend, they really aren’t at ease with a lot of folks.
We haven’t been using a mother’s helper as of late, but that may change after the first of the year, since Brett’s business is increasing.
L: Do you have any secrets for how you manage to keep up with a job, a teenager, your marriage and three toddlers? Do you feel like you have found some type of balance?
D: If by balance, you mean a wildly careening see saw, then sure, I’ve got it!
I struggle with this on a daily basis, and I usually do not make any bones about how stressed I feel. I embrace my calling as a wife and mother with all of my heart, but sometimes, I just don’t have any idea what God is trying to show me, or teach me! I don’t want to ‘wish the days away’, and want the children to be a little older, but there are days when I wonder if it would be easier when they are 2, or 3, or older.
Lately. I’ve been trying to tell myself, “I GET to do” what ever it is, instead of “I HAVE to do”. I am so incredibly blessed, beyond my wildest dreams, but it’s so hard
My husband is my rock, and solace, and there’s no way I could make it through this without him. He’s more laid back than I am, doesn’t stress about the messy house, canned pasta for dinner, living out of laundry baskets, tripping over toys, or the fact that I don’t wear Ann Taylor every day anymore. God Bless him!
I only work 2 days/week outside the home, and I won’t pick up any more than that. I’ve pared my friendships down to the ones that matter to me the most, and I’ve learned the fine art of saying, “No” to too many demands on my time. We have a housekeeper that comes twice monthly, Rachel goes to preschool twice a week, and my best friend Laura takes Rachel, as well as Adam and Thomas out of the house frequently.
With all this, my house, and life is still CHAOTIC! I’m just trying, slowly, day by day to focus on the small successes in my life, and pare things down to the most important people in my life: my husband and children.And Dianna’s question for all of you today is:

As the New Year is upon us, I want to get back into a regular exercise routine. (for my sanity, as well as my physical health!) What are your tips for exercising with a large family?

Stop by Dianna’s blog today and say hi!

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9 comments

  1. What a wonderful interview! I've often wondered how moms of identical twins keep track of who's who but as a mom of twins myself, I could see that being annoying because they probably get asked that a lot!

    I found that if I want to successfully keep up with a workout routine, I need to involve the kids somehow. When the weather is nice, we walk to the park or ride bikes. During winter or when it's raining, we'll sometimes play the Wii or do an exercise video. We've been doing the 30-Day Shred and they can keep up with Jillian Michaels way better than I can!

  2. Hi! I enjoyed reading your interview. I have a 3 year old and almost 6 month old twin boys. We have the Rodney Yee family yoga video that we do together sometimes. Also, I'll often do dinner in the crockpot, then as soon as my husband gets home I'll jet out the door for a 30 minute run, and when I get back we're ready for dinner. Likewise, I sometimes run in the morning before he leaves for work. And if all else fails…there's always the dreadmill.

  3. Missy (Two Little Monkeys)

    Thanks Lani & Amanda for featuring Dianna! I love her blog. I love reading her posts and seeing pictures of her beautiful family.

    Thank you Dianna for your kind words – Ha, Girl, if only you could see my house right now!
    And I would love to hear any exercise secrets too! I am desperately trying to get back in shape.

  4. Sorry, no workout tips. Who has the time?!? But I so agree about it being harder to devote as much time to each baby when there's two of them. Other than the lack of sleep, it's the thing that I find the most difficult. I hate it that sometimes one of them has to cry while I take care of her sister.

    Oh, to tell them apart we painted one of the babies' toenails red. I love the sharpie idea.

  5. Mom of the Twinkies and Tot!

    Great interview, as previously said. It's amazing that not only are you raising a teenager right now, but three little ones also! Your family is beautiful!

  6. They sound like a really fun family! How funny about the sharpie. What a great idea.

    As for exercising, I like to do the 30 day shred before I get in the shower for the morning. It takes 25 minutes and boy is it a work out. Sometimes I get to it, sometimes I don't. But I do feel better when I do and I have more energy for the day. Good luck!

  7. So nice to hear your thoughts on practicing AP with multiples. It can be hard, but so rewarding! Its worked for us, too, though we definitely had to do some things differently than with our singleton. I think having multiples has actually made me a lot more accepting and understanding of different parenting styles, which is good!

  8. Who does Dianna think she is? Working in the ER, raising 4 beautiful children, and married to a husband who I notice is not fat and seems to possess all his hair. At least she doesn't look good in a swimsuit. Oh.

    Great interview! Had to laugh about her worry of mixing up the twins . . . we have identical girls, and I nearly had a heart attack when their bracelets first slipped off!

  9. I have a question for Dianna–where did you get that suit? Is it a regular suit or maternity (I ask bc the only tankinis I have found that looked long enough to cover the ol' twin skin were…maternity, fantastic).
    I leave my twins with my husband for about an hour and a half a night and go to the Y! Woohoo! We tried the "child watch" that was offered but my 2.5 YOs were not into it. So, H goes in the morning, I go at night.

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