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At Home With Ali Alquiza & Millie Moon

Written by Katie Hintz-Zambrano

Photography by Yumi Matsuo

The multi-hyphenate creative and New York-based twin mama talks potty training with Millie Moon and so much more!

Did you always know you wanted to be a mother?

"My life and outlook on motherhood were profoundly shaped by my own family and upbringing. Family was always the heartbeat at the center of our lives, and I am so grateful for how my parents raised us and the childhood we had. I never imagined a life without being a mother. For me, it was never a question of 'if' but rather 'when.'"

"Growing up in Queens, I fell in love with the city quite early, and soon after came the dream of building a thriving and fulfilling career. My husband and I went on our first date a few weeks before my 29th birthday, and we spent our thirties grinding in our respective fields, celebrating and supporting each other's career wins and life milestones, adventuring in our beloved city, and exploring the world."

"I struggled with finding the ‘right time’ to have a child and worried about how it would impact my career. Around 35, I began to feel a shift, contemplating the idea of starting a family. Over the next year or so, we started on our fertility journey. I became pregnant at 37 and welcomed our two beautiful babies at 38. Looking back, the 15 years spent living so fully had allowed me to step into this new chapter with confidence in the timing, and allowed me to embrace motherhood with a very full heart."

When you found out you were going to have twins—what were your first thoughts?

"I was pregnant during the last few months of 2020 and into early 2021, so almost all of my doctor’s appointments were alone due to the pandemic. It was during one of these solo visits that I received the most powerful (and insane) news that we were having twins. Up until that moment, our journey through IVF was a meticulously planned series of steps, and we knew what came next. This rare moment of surprise felt like a precious gift, and it was a shock that took my breath away. Butterflies crept up as soon as I heard the doctor speak. In my astonishment, I could only muster a single word to text my husband: 'Two.' He was in the middle of a Zoom call when he received the message, and he later told me he had to turn the camera off for a moment to process. I could relate!"

"That night, we went to Emmy Squared, a restaurant just across the park from our apartment. We sat outside, watching couples with single strollers navigating the busy NYC sidewalks. I found myself repeatedly picturing our future, saying, 'Ok, but now imagine two! Each parent holding a baby, an even bigger stroller, and not a free hand for so many things.' We alternated between fits of laughter and a bit of silent contemplation, absorbing the enormity of our news."

"Later that year, we bought a house outside the city, moving in just before my due date. I remember sitting in the kitchen or family room, lost in thought envisioning our future with two little ones. I imagined two babies nestled in a bassinet or two toddlers, just tall enough to reach the counters, chasing each other through the rooms, and my mind was just blown, but there was a huge happy smile wiped across my face. I will never forget the feeling of bliss in those moments imagining it all. The initial shock of discovering we were having twins had transformed into a profound excitement, filling us up with anticipation for all the moments to come."

“The initial shock of discovering we were having twins transformed into a profound excitement, filling us up with anticipation for all the moments to come.”

What does it mean to you to be raising both a daughter and son? Has becoming a parent made you think differently about gender?

"It feels tremendous to be raising both a daughter and a son, and I feel such a responsibility to create good humans. I know so much of who they will become is because of how we raise them and shape their personhood, and yet, it is truly awe-inspiring to realize that I have a daughter with a fiery (and very funny) spirit, who would lock eyes with you as a newborn, an old soul wise beyond her years. My son, in contrast, has always been the tender, sensitive one, radiating sweetness from the very beginning."

"Observing these unique characteristics so early on filled me with a deep sense of purpose to nurture these innate qualities. I love the idea that part of my life’s work will be raising a strong, determined, driven girl and an empathetic, compassionate boy. The world could use all of that, and that makes me very proud." 

"When I was pregnant, I didn't care about wanting to experience one gender over the other, or having one of each. The only tiny preference I had was rooted in the beautiful dynamic I have with my own brother. I was absolutely enamored with him (still am!) when he was born five years after me, and loved the nuances of our brother-sister dynamic. So having a boy and a girl reflected the childhood I had growing up and it was perfect. My younger brother is my heart, and I instantly adored him and looked after him. And true to that legacy, Sophie is an older sister by two minutes, and I love that little full circle wink to our story." 

"I would say I don't think of gender differently per se, but now I am acutely aware of how every interaction has the potential to shape them, and I feel so protective of that. I try to be cognizant to not place, even subconsciously, any predetermined expectations or roles on them. This shows up in the little things like when my daughter is playing with nail polish and my son says 'What about me?,' and not batting an eye for him to go next. Or seeing my strong girl leading the drills at karate and carrying dinosaurs and monster trucks in her sweet summer totes. All of their toys are their toys together—the baby dolls, the dinosaurs, the cars and trucks, the tea set, all of it—and it brings me joy to create a life and space for them that encourages uninhibited discovery, wonder, exploration, and expansiveness." 

Your own background is quite multicultural. Is that something you want to honor in raising your children?

“Across the backdrop of Queens and all of its cultural richness, lies the intersection of my own family history. My mother, born in Colombia, arrived in New York in the 1970s and soon met my father, a Greek-American native New Yorker. He had befriended my mom’s siblings, who had all settled in the city before her, and frequented my grandparents’ corner store in Astoria where they worked. Despite my mother not speaking a word of English at the time, they managed to connect on a first date, and the rest became our beautiful history.”

“In the neighborhood where they met, we would have huge family parties with all of my Colombian aunts, uncles, and cousins, and we would be immersed in Greek culture, music, and food all around us. (My father is also part Filipino, a heritage I am deeply proud of).”

“At some point in those early years, I fell in love with my unique mix of cultures (and the many others I had the privilege of experiencing through friends). These cultural dynamics had the ability to create magical memories—and learning, experiencing, and celebrating these facets became part of the fabric of who we were.”

“Long before I knew my future husband and his beautiful family would also be Greek (and from Queens no less!), with deep connections to beautiful villages on the Peloponnesian coast, I felt so driven to ensure my (future) kids would be immersed in the kind of experience I had. I dreamed they would know the languages better than I could ever have, feel the music and dance pulsing natively within them, and carry a deep curiosity and appreciation for others, which has always guided my own journey.”

“I’m grateful for my husband’s deep roots, and how he shares in my commitment to fostering all of this for them. We take yearly trips to our family’s native countries, and plan to explore language programs for both Spanish and Greek. There is so much beauty in this world, and I just want to instill the same awe and appreciation I feel for it all.”

What excites you most about parenthood right now?

"My babies just turned three, and I feel like their growth and development is just exponential right now. Every day they are saying things and doing things that blow my mind and I tell them so! They are so clever and I can see them trying to outwit us, and they are so imaginative, coming up with colorful stories of purple giraffes and blue lions, who are all hungry while they ride the train. This is something their dad has been doing with them for a while, so for them to start dreaming up stories of their own to tell us is just beyond."

"The big adventures and moments from last summer, for instance, have actually made an impact and they are asking to repeat specific things or places we’d been to. I draw inspiration for all the magic making, knowing that it really is getting in there and doing what it's meant to do."   

What makes you most nervous?

"Honestly, a little bit of everything…the world that we live in, the major changes potentially on the horizon, the impacts of social media and navigating what that might look like for them over the next few years. All of that is beyond the daily questioning if we are doing this all right, if we are fostering their creative expression, if we are modeling all the right values."   

What advice would you give to another mama expecting twins?

"The first is the big one for me, and I am still very much navigating it myself: There will be moments when it breaks your heart that you can't split yourself in two. In a heightened moment, it will feel like someone is always longing for you and not getting what they need—a comforting hug, a gentle word, or a diaper change at the exact moment it's needed. If you can, give yourself grace, acknowledging that some moments are simply impossible. Reminding myself that these moments are a natural byproduct of a very specific situation would've saved me so much agony, and truthfully, I still grapple with what to do and where to be and who to tend to in those no-win moments."

"Be mindful of comparisons, whether from you or from others. With two side-by-side, it's natural to compare, but those narratives can stay with them and feel really formative. I’ve even subtly set the tone where they aren't really referred to as 'the twins,' it’s always been ‘the babies,' ‘our munchkins,' Soph + Jamesy, but my hope with that subtle nuance is that it ingrains a small nod to their individuality."

"With a twin dynamic, I’ve noticed how closely they watch our interactions with the other child. They pay attention to how much affection and attention is given, and I’ve seen their reactions stem from those observations. I try to keep things even in both the big and small moments."

"Establishing a rhythm or schedule that keeps them in sync was a lifesaver for us—for things like feedings and naps. This started at the hospital with feedings every three hours. The babies quickly took to it, becoming little clocks when they were hungry, every three hours on the dot. Having that structure was incredibly helpful in those early days, bringing a bit of order to the chaos of twin parent life."

"Above all, one piece of advice I heard in those early days has stuck with me: 'No chapter is forever, good or bad, it will change and renew.' This perspective has helped me navigate the hard moments—whether it's not feeling my absolute best body-wise postpartum, feeling thrown for a loop in career and identity, or helped me to cherish the delicious phases that I know will be fleeting."

Tell us about the early days of your diapering journey with Sophie and James.

"So. Many. Diapers. Ha! And so much trial and error honestly. I went into our diaper journey with the new brands on the block in mind, very moved by their commitments to better-for-you products, conscious materials, no harmful chemicals. These decisions were the things that kept me up at night in the first few months—second guessing what we were doing, thinking about what ingredients were touching their perfect, delicate skin, and Googling for answers (many a 2 a.m. screenshot was sent to said spouse + said friends). Looking back, we tried four to five different diaper brands over the years. When James started to have bouts of dry skin and eczema flare-ups, we switched our wipes and took a closer look at all the detergents, lotions and body washes we were using with them and made changes. So, where we land in each of these categories for them is so intentional."

“The minute I put the Millie Moon Training Pants on Sophie after a bath, she exclaimed ‘ooooo Mama sooo soft.’ James quickly followed with ‘oh, so so cozy.’ And they were absolutely right.”

What excites you about moving into the potty training stage?

"I don't know how I am going to ground myself during bigger life moments when they get much older, because the amount of hype and excitement we’ve brought to the first signs of potty training has been completely over indexed. It’s just our way, and watching them light up with pride is something that excites me about this new skill. I could see the little bouts of confidence coming alongside anything they have done so far with it, and what else could I hope for in this life?"

"I’m a bit anxious about tackling overnight training, going no. 2 in the potty, and perhaps being near a bathroom when they need one while we are out. I’m sure there will be lots of accidents and backseat changes, but we will take it as it comes and embrace the process one step at a time. For now, these are tomorrow’s problems!"

"As for me personally, because of how intentional our diaper choices have had to be, most of our family trips have included almost an entire suitcase of just diapers. With the extra space freed up, I’m excited to be squeezing in a few extra personal things on our next big trip to Greece."  

Do they seem "ready" to start potty training?

"A few months ago we were at a very close friend’s house, and Sophie caught a glimpse of their 5-year-old daughter using the potty, and ever since then she would sporadically and spontaneously walk right into our bathroom and declare she needed to go, pulling the tabs off her own diaper and asking to be hoisted up. This was before we had a little ladder and kid’s seat so she would sit on top of the grown-up seat. We reveled in seeing her do this on her own, so we would do this whole routine upon request and cheer very very loudly each time."

"Sophie has always been the one to kickstart a milestone, and James has always caught wind of it and races to catch up to her. This happened with crawling, then walking, and now potty training. James is now following suit with the same signs of readiness, and now it feels like they are both calling out on their own several times a day when they need to go." 

What potty training resources or advice are you leaning into?

"I had downloaded Dr Becky’s guide to potty training and I was eying another from the women of Big Little Feelings. I was mentally and logistically planning for an upcoming weekend when we would cover up all the floors and have the babies go diaper free, do the whole thing. But these two took their plans into their own hands!"

"What started as small, intermittent signals of readiness quickly sped up to a full week of running to the bathroom almost every time declaring they have to go. And it perfectly coincided with having the Millie Moon Training Pants at home for them. We will keep encouraging this for another week or two before implementing more structure over a weekend. The way they showed up in this journey was such a reminder to give them runway to show us how they operate best, what makes them comfortable, what allows them to thrive." 

Tell us about your experience using Millie Moon Luxury Training Pants.

"I’m pretty obsessed with the Luxury Training Pants to be honest. And as a brand builder and marketer, I definitely don't just throw that around! A few weeks before our shoot, I started to use them to get the kids comfortable in wearing them. The minute I put them on Sophie after a bath, she exclaimed 'ooooo Mama sooo soft.' James quickly followed with 'oh, so so cozy.' And they were absolutely right. They were so soft and so luxurious and that delicateness has been so important in what works for us."

"They are also beautiful and easy to slide on and off, so more often than not, the kids are taking them off themselves and dressing in a fresh pair themselves too. All small steps to building their confidence in the whole routine."

How has Millie Moon made potty training with two babies easier?

"My hack for the longest time was to use overnight diapers day and night to avoid leaks while we were out and about during the day. I was so pleased by how secure and absorbent the Training Pants and the Overnight Diapers have been, and we have not had one leak."

"Also—a move outside of the city, and the birth of twin babies will turn you into a Target Same Day Delivery user very quickly. It saves the day on supplies several times a week, so I absolutely love that Millie Moon is sold exclusively at Target."

Would you suggest Millie Moon for other families?

"Yes absolutely! They are a beautiful blend of conscious consumerism with all the better-for-you benefits, they are highly effective and functional, and they are supremely beautiful and so soft for babies’ skin."

In addition to juggling your toddlers—you have a very busy professional life. When did you know you wanted to take the leap to start your own company?

"I launched my brand marketing consultancy, Over Lunch, at the end of 2019. On paper, it felt like a risk to leave an in-house role to work for myself, but my gut told me it was the right move, filled with potential and all the magic. It's amusing to reflect on this decision and recognize a familiar pattern at every pivotal moment in my career. And every time, it’s right."

What were you doing before Over Lunch?

"During most of my twenties, I worked at a creative agency that I truly loved. It was female-founded, offering me incredible creative control and the opportunity to refine my lens and instinct for brand strategy and hone my ability to effectively pitch my ideas to a room full of clients. This role also took me around the world, providing such a memorable and formative international professional experience."

"When the chance to join LIVELY pre-launch as a founding team member and first full-time hire came up, I felt an undeniable pull. Despite everyone around me labeling it a ‘big risk,’ I knew it was a big yes. Building every organic element and touchpoint of the brand and community from the ground up alongside another phenomenal female founder, with a brand mission to support and impact women, was a dream come true. I fell in love with brand building, community-focused experiential marketing, and brand storytelling through emerging mediums, like podcasting. Our team created hundreds of events, conceptualized and executed pop-ups nationwide, built an ambassador community of over 150,000 women, and opened an experiential retail location in Soho, NY. We also produced The LIVELY Podcast in-house, sparking my passion for podcast production and creative development—passions that would later shape my consultancy and future work."

What was that next step like, going out on your own?

"After a short time at another in-house role, I realized that what filled me up was pouring my heart and energy into purposeful work, people and brands who were walking the walk and operating with integrity and a fresh, innovative POV. For the last three years, and through a pandemic, the consultancy has thrived, and I am so grateful to the authentic community I was able to build for myself and the incredible women I get to co-create alongside."

"I will always focus on brand, but I am able to be selective with a focus on bringing incredible experiences and events to life that truly connect people to brand and to each other. And ultimately, podcast production and creative development has sparked something for me the most, and has been so much of what Over Lunch has shaped into, producing original podcasts for Domino, Saveur, design platform The Expert, Create & Cultivate, and a beautiful collection of motherhood-focused shows from Emily DiDonato, New Modern Mom, and The MOTHER Podcast."

"I’m so grateful for how this work chapter has supported me in every aspect, helping shape and preserve my identity through all of the changes the last few years have brought. And it enables me to continue dreaming up a life where I can nurture and support two delicious kiddos alongside fulfilling work."

Do you have any creative habits or practices to get inspired?

"If you give me an afternoon free of any obligations, I will find myself at some form of flea market, estate sale, thrifting for vintage treasures in some capacity. Home design brings me so much joy (and I’m lucky to have so much of it tangentially connected to my work), but vintage homewares for hosting, setting a beautiful table, styling shelves, and bringing interest and personal style to a space is a personal cup-filler."

Any new projects that you're working on that you're excited about?

"There is so much slated on the event and podcast front, through the summer and into fall, that I am so excited to bring to life. Outside of that, and in the spirit of unabandoned creative expression, I just launched a side project called Gin For Lunch, a love story of vintage, collected treasures for home and hosting, with my dear friend Kelsey. The name is a hybrid of my consultancy @meetoverlunch and her home renovation project @theginposition, and we popped up with our first collection at Margot Market in Brooklyn last month."

"We’ll be making a point to stop into markets during our summer travels to build the next collection and have a few more New York markets underway for the fall. It’s fun to have something in the works that is so open-ended with absolutely zero pressure on it—we are just excited for the opportunities and collaboration to come!"

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