Sunday, December 26, 2010

Monday, December 20, 2010

Planning for Next Year's Christmas

Every year, I drool over Christmas decorations in decorating magazines, on HGTV, and on Pottery Barn's website. I long to have a cozy house filled with spicy smells, lots of glittery lights and wonderful decorations outside. But, this year--just like every other year--I put up our tree and decorated it with red and silver ornaments. I hung the stockings (five this year instead of three). I curled the simple three strands of lights outside around our door and railing.

This is the last year that I will do that. Probably to the dismay of Tim, I plan to hit it out of the park next year with the Christmas decorations. I will not be my mother who has about 50 angels and Santa Clauses oozing from every nook and cranny in the house. I will be me, but the me who's been looking at decorating magazines for years. Why not this year? Well, the girls are ten months old, they won't care. They enjoyed watching me put up the lights, but they barely even notice the tree.

Next year, they'll be nearly two years old. Starting next year, I get to live Christmas through the eyes of my children. I get to talk about Santa Claus and elves. I get to hide gifts and stuff stockings. I get to truly enjoy putting up the decorations instead of just wishing someone else could do it so I could imagine it.

And just like with nearly every other thing I do in my life, I must begin planning. I'm planning so early because this is the perfect time to buy decorations for next year! I just have to really decide what I want to do.

I'm definitely moving the tree down a floor so it's by our lovely fireplace. I also want the outside to be bigger...with lights along the walkway and in the bushes by the house. I definitely think outdoor ornaments would look nice and be an inexpensive, simple way to dress up the outside (over-sized ornaments always go on sale after Christmas). The rest is still up in the air. Hopefully I still have this blog going next year, and I can show off the new or improved decorations in 2011.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Favorite Picture of the Week

Ten Month Report

I promised myself that one of these reports would actually be written and posted on the 7th...or at least the 8th. Oh well, as is the way of the twin mommy.

The girls had their well visit at the beginning of the month. As if I didn't know already, I have two very healthy growing young ladies. Lillie is 28 5/8" tall and weighs 18 lbs, 14.5 oz. She's in the 40th percentile for weight and 75th for height. Dani is 28 3/4" tall and weighs 17 lbs, 7.5 oz. She's in the 20th percentile for weight and 75th for height.

The girls are now allowed to have any and all kinds of food except for peanuts and peanut products. They won't be having bananas yet, though, because I'm still paranoid. I'll give them bananas after they turn one. We've started working more seriously with sippy cups and a couple ounces of whole milk. They both love the milk. Dani seems to be better with a straw while Lillie likes the traditional sippy better. I can't decide if I should try to get them both to use both or just let them be with a straw and a regular sippy.

Dani has basically mastered standing on her own. She can now stand up from a squatting position. Lillie will take steps while holding your hand, and she's become quite the little cruiser. Dani still thinks crawling is the best way to go, but you can get her to take a step or two while holding your hand before she flops back on the ground and speeds away.

They've both learned to clap, which is far cuter than I thought it would be. Dani claps randomly, but I can usually get Lillie to mimic me after we sing "Peas Porridge Hot."

Lillie has another tooth coming in, bringing her total to seven. Dani has two more coming in, bringing her total to four. They've both become excellent snackers. They love Cheerios, puffs, yogurt melts and these wonderful Wagon Wheels Gerber makes. They do not like hummus, but maybe that's just too strong a flavor right now. Lillie likes spinach and artichoke dip! (She stole some from Nana when we were out to dinner.) They both loved the chopped spinach with zucchini and squash. Yay! They are not like their grandma who hates spinach.

The napping is still a little wacky, but Dr. Triggs said to keep pushing two naps. On Thursday, they both took two naps over an hour each. I was sooooo happy. Plus, they've been sleeping through the night again...which I've probably just jinxed by sharing. Oh well.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Nap, Nap or Nap?

Lillie nor Dani have ever been the best nappers. In the past few months, they've definitely gotten better about it, but they are not at all predictable. Sometimes they will sleep for 30 or 45 minutes. Sometimes they will sleep for 90 minutes or nearly two hours. Rarely do they both do this at the same time. Usually, one will want to sleep a long time while the other has decided on a cat nap. Every time I hear a mom talking about what she does when her children nap, I get jealous. I never try to do much when my girls nap because I never know how long they will stay asleep. I've just recently started showering during their morning nap. Before, I would shower at night after they went to sleep, but I don't like night showers, so I've braved the morning nap to get clean.

Now I've got something new brewing: the possible loss of the second nap. Around seven months, the girls started shirking the third nap, so I began the transition to two naps. Now they are nearly ten months, and it seems they are ready to transition again!


Some days, they won't go down for their morning nap and some days they won't go down for their afternoon nap. It's a rare day lately that I get them to take two solid naps. Usually, I get one good nap and one let's-pretend-it's-a-nap in the car or one good nap and no second nap, making for cranky babies who are ready for bed at 5:30! Then, one of them will wake up in the middle of the night screaming, and it takes me a long time to get her settled again. From all my reading on sleep, I've decided this reverted pattern of nighttime sleep is due to the awkward daytime sleep pattern.

Therefore, I finally have accepted they are probably ready to begin the transition to one nap. I'm not ready for it, but I'm ready for something that will help me get through the entire day with a smile of some sort.

Of course, I will have to slowly push it later and later until I get it to that perfect spot, but I don't even know for what "perfect spot" I am aiming! Bedtime is usually between 6:30 and 7. Is bedtime going to have to move to 6 until I figure this whole thing out? If so, does that mean I have to move the nighttime bottle from 6 to 5:30 or possibly 5:45? Is my brain going to explode because I finally thought I'd figured out a good schedule and now I have to change it again? Didn't some fairy godmother who wrote some fantasy-filled book tell me that this would be easier if I got in a routine?!

Do any seasoned mommies have advice for me? I'm getting as cranky as them by the time 4:30 rolls around. Help!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Favorite Pictures of the Week

These aren't from this week, but I was looking at pictures this week, and these two stood out! Lillie is eight months in the first and Dani is nine months in the second.


 






Saturday, November 20, 2010

Weekly What?

I think I would like to do a regular weekly entry. I just have no idea what it should be, so I'm turning to the masses for help.

Vote in the poll below and let me know what you think. You do not have to have a Blogger account to vote!


Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Seriously, Where Shall We Sit?

Back in August, I began my research of convertible car seats. Now, only a few months away from their first birthday, (as well as their heights nearing the limit on their infant seats) it's time to get serious about new car seats. A few extra contenders have come to play, and a couple of the original contenders have fallen by the wayside.

I should probably explain what I'm looking for in a seat. Every car seat on the market had to pass government standards, so every car seat is safe, but I'm looking for some extra features for extra safety. I want it to be comfortable. There are plenty of economy seats that are perfectly safe, but they have hardly any padding. If I don't want to sit on a cloth-covered piece of plastic, my girls shouldn't have to either. I also want a good headrest. When they fall asleep--and they often do--I don't want little heads bobbing and weaving all over the place. Lastly, something that fits comfortably in our Chevrolet Equinox. When we found out we were having twins, we actually had to buy the Equinox (so long, sweet Saturn L-series) because Tim couldn't drive the car with the car seat behind him. I am in no mood or financial position to buy a Traverse, so let's make sure that seat fits in what we've got.

With that said, here's the new short list:

Graco Nautilus 3-in-1
This is the new front-runner. It's more compact than the other seats. It's got a nice adjustable headrest, and it's side-impact tested with EPS foam throughout. This seat, unlike the rest on the list, is the only seat that cannot be rear-facing. This may prove to be a problem if the girls outgrow their current seats before they turn one. (The law is children must be rear-facing up until one year old AND 20 pounds.)

It works for a child from 20 pounds up to 100. You use the five-point harness for up to 65 pounds. Then it converts to a high back booster for 30-100 pounds or a backless booster for 40-100 pounds. Plus it has a three-position recliner and storage pockets. My girls will be able to use this seat for up to eight years!

If I'm not picky about color, the cheapest I can get it is at Wal-Mart for $138. Even with the twin discount at Babies R Us (an extra 10% off each seat), this is the best deal. Paying around $300 for seats that will get my girls far into grade school doesn't sound too bad to me.

*There's a new Elite version that comes with adjustable headwings. I've only found it at BRU, and it runs about $200.



Safety 1st Complete Air
Honestly, the first reason I started checking out this seat was pure aesthetics. I love, love, love the Flutter pattern available at Babies R Us. In an effort to save money, I would have to stick with the McKenna pattern that comes in at $158.98, also at Babies R Us (plus the twin discount). After I looked past the beauty of the seat, I realized it's very solid, seems comfortable and looks like it will last. Even though this does not become a booster, the girls would still get a good six years of use out of it.

It's a rear-facing seat up until a whopping 40 pounds and forward facing up to 65 pounds. Those cool cushions around the head are filled with air instead of EPS foam. When the seat is involved in a crash, the air cushions your baby's head to lessen impact. It sort of works like an air bag without the inflation. It also has a quick adjust harness that can be adjusted from the front plus a 5-position adjustable headrest.

If you splurge for the LX version, the base comes with recline built-in. It is also the tallest rear-facing seat on the market, so if you have a child with a long torso, this may be the seat for you.


Evenflo Symphony 65

Just like the Graco Nautilus, the 65 has a long, long life. This seat is rated up to 65 pounds with a five-point harness and 100 pounds as a high back booster.

The best deal on the Symphony is a Babies R Us with a price tag of $179.99 for the Circles Pattern.  I'm sure you're wondering why I would put a seat that costs more on the list when my front-runner does the same job for less money. Well, Evenflo seats have some cool ease-of-use features. As a mom of twins, why wouldn't I want something that's easy to use?

The LATCH system is a super simple install that has retractors like your car's seatbelts. All you have to do is attach, push the seat down, and the connectors automatically tighten. Also, the harness requires no rethreading to adjust and the headrest takes one hand to adjust. Simplicity is a nice, nice thing.


Evenflo Titan Elite DLX Convertible
At the low, low price of $89.99 at Target or $99.99 at Babies R Us, it is the best deal I've seen thus far on car seats that meet my criteria.

It boasts a nice cushiony headrest, side impact testing, EPP foam lining for crash protection, and memory foam padding for comfort. Its maximum weight is 50 pounds, so it wouldn't last as long as the other three seats on my list.

You would think this seat would be the one, wouldn't you? How could I pass up such a great deal and still have some nice features? Well, it does have some nice features, but it doesn't have all of the features. Plus, I would have to shell out more money down the road for a booster seat, and if I do some quick math, buying four seats ends up costing me about the same as buying two of the all-in-one seats.


I may have narrowed my search to these four seats, but the real decision will be with Lillie and Dani. We will have to put each girl in the seats to see how they fit. Then we'll have to put each seat in our car to see how it fits. As with diapers and formula and basically everything else related to children, it's an individual decision.

If you want more information on these seats or recommendations from people who've been doing it longer than I have, check out Car-Seat.org and their blog which has a plethora of car seat reviews.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Happy on Mommy's Terms

Let me warn you now. I'm about to pull out my soapbox. I don't do it very often, and I definitely wouldn't usually do it on my mommy blog. But today, that box is coming out.

It's about Happy Meals and San Francisco. If you don't know what I'm talking about, pick an article to read here, then come back and finish reading my rant.

I'm pretty politically moderate. I believe in marriage for all consenting adults. I believe helping those who are sick, but I'm not too sure our government should be the ones in charge of it. I also don't think our government should be in charge of telling me what my children should be eating. Now, I understand that the ban on Happy Meals isn't really a ban on Happy Meals. It's a ban on high calorie, high fat, low nutrition meals with a toy. If the meal has fruit or veggies attached, a toy can be brought into the mix. But again, why the hell does there need to be a law for it?

There are plenty of people in this world who should not raise children. Hell, there are plenty of people in this world who shouldn't raise fish. For the most part, though, their are good parents in these here United States, and they can take care of their own children's well being without a bunch of people who probably don't have children eating at McDonald's messing with a meal that kids have been eating for friggin' decades.

There are certain laws that I find necessary. There are laws that help us, as a people, function relatively harmoniously. I am a fan of the no smoking in restaurants and most buildings law. Smoking is a right that we all have, but your smoke will invade my breathable space. Take it outside please. The person next door to me deciding to give their child chicken nuggets and some french fries does not invade my privacy, my well being, or even figure into my day.

I would like to thank San Francisco's mayor for not agreeing with the ludicrous idea.

Now I'll put my soapbox away.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Nine Month Report

Nine months. It's just three short months until Lillie and Dani are one year old. This has been the most spectacular (in all meanings of the word) three quarters of a year I've ever experienced.

This past month, my little girls have really starting babbling. There are lots of "dadadada" and "babababa." Dani loves "dat dat dat." Lillie seems to lean towards "gagaga" a lot. Maybe I should stop singing "Bad Romance" to them.

Lillie also mastered pulling up all on her own. She no longer needs help from Mommy to get to the window, the ottoman, the gate or the edge of her crib, but she sometimes asks for it anyway. In fact, they've both become master climbers. Dani has no qualms about crawling right over my legs, Tim's legs, her sister. Lillie doesn't like that last one so much.

They're eating finger foods as well: fruit puffs, cheese and veggie puff sticks, a little French toast, yogurt melts, and a couple of green beans. They've also gotten egg yolks and shredded cheese, both of which they seem to enjoy. We also began three meals a day instead of two. It's not exactly routine yet, but anytime the girls get to eat is a good time for them.

Mommy had her own milestone. Tim went on a business trip, and I put the girls to bed by myself for four straight nights. A couple of the nights were not so awesome, but overall, it wasn't so bad. I'm very thankful to have great friends and family nearby to help me out, so it wasn't a week of lonely Faith with the babies.

The girls also went to their first and second (of many) WKU football games. It was the longest they've been in the car at one time as well as the longest they've had to sit since becoming mobile. The Toppers lost both times, but the girls did really well.

Growth spurts are happening too. They both seem to be growing into and out of clothes faster than usual. They are reaching things they couldn't reach before, and they seem much heavier than just a month ago. Wow. Three quarters of a year... Amazing.

Family Photos

My husband has a degree in photojournalism. I have a degree in film. Needless to say, we like cameras. We take tons and tons of pictures. Alas, this picture (taken Halloween weekend) is the first picture of all four of us since the girls were in the hospital. How sad is that?


I don't even know how it happened. We hang out with friends and family a lot. How is it that no one has snapped a picture of the four of us? I have pictures of me with the girls and Tim with the girls. It's quite odd...and, I must say, a little disappointing. I know that all new parents (and veterans alike) want to make sure to have lots of pictures of their children so they can look back and remember when, but aren't we parents just as important. Our kids will probably be just as interested in seeing what we looked like when they were such and such age.

So I'm putting it out there, I must take more family photos. I do hope to have some formal pictures done after the girls' first birthday, but I have to make sure to take candids as well.

What about you? Do you have a healthy amount of family photos?

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Shopping with Twins

Hey, all you stores out there. I have a short list of demands. I know that we, parents of multiples, are in the minority, but there are plenty of parents out there who have two or more young children, and I'm sure they would benefit from this too. Even though I do take the girls to the grocery store or Wal-Mart or Target on a regular basis, it doesn't mean it's particularly a walk in the park to get any shopping done. A few tweaks would make my life a little easier.

1. Have hand-held shopping baskets available. Yeah, I'm talking to you Wal-Mart. The last time I was there alone with the girls, I had to use one of your reusable shopping bags to do my shopping because, in your gargantuan store, you didn't have one hand basket available. That's just plain bad service.

2. While we're at it, all hand baskets should have one handle. SuperTarget is the only store that has nice large hand baskets with one handle that goes across the long side of the basket. This one handle fits quite nicely over the handle on the girls' Snap n' Go stroller. At other stores, I had to carry the stupid basket on my arm (ow!). I finally purchased some handy dandy stroller hooks, but it would still be easier to have the one handle.

3. Have more double carts available. There are plenty of parents with multiple children. Why do most big box stores have carts with room for only one child? Costco and (again) SuperTarget are the only places I've seen an abundance of double-seat carts. Oh, and I promise that if I need a double cart, and I see you--parent of singleton--with it, I will politely ask you to hand it over.

4. Offer to help me. Publix is excellent about this. Not once have I had to request help to the car or help getting items into my cart or onto the counter at checkout. Wal-Mart and Target? Not so much. Oh, and at small stores that don't have automatic doors, if you see a woman pushing a double stroller struggling to get through your front door, how about you come and give her a hand? Thanks, woman working at Once Upon a Child.

5. Ring up my purchases while you're staring at my children. Other parents would know that getting in and getting out of a store as quickly as possible is ideal. Do not hold me up at the end of my shopping experience because you just "have to get a look at those little ones." I'm so happy that you think my girls are adorable and sweet and all that, but can you do it while you work? Don't come around the register when we're done either because you're not only holding me up, you're holding up the people in line behind me. 

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Know Thy Neighbor

I've started taking the girls on walks around the neighborhood in the morning, and it got me thinking... Why don't I know my neighbors? I've seen them all out doing work on their yards, getting the mail, coming or going, but I don't know their names. Why is that?

Growing up I knew my neighbors. Heck, I still know my parents' neighbors. One of my best friends lives a few houses away. My grandparents consider most of their neighbors lifelong friends. What happened? Do people not stay in one place long enough these days? Do we not trust one another? Before, I'm not sure I would have cared so much. But now that I have children, I actually care.

On our walks, we encounter very nice, courteous people. There are plenty of smiles followed "good morning" or "adorable babies" or "how are you today?" I live in a family neighborhood with children of all ages, so shouldn't I know these people? When those boys were in our backyard trying to get themselves hurt on our basketball court, shouldn't I know to what house they belong in case I need to call a parent? I would want my neighbors to know that those are the McQuinn twins out and about so they could let me know if something was awry.

But we don't know our neighbors, and I don't even know how to go about getting to know them. It's not like back in the day when you could just go over and knock on the door. No one has block parties (at least no one I know), and people don't just sit out on their porches and converse. I think knowing who lives nearby can make for a safer neighborhood, a happier playing environment for my kids, and just an all around better living experience. (Well, I guess that's if I have good neighbors!)

So...do you know your neighbors? How did you meet them? Do you hang out? If you don't know them, do you wish you did?

Monday, October 18, 2010

Fun Food

I'm trying to get more creative with what I feed the girls. There's just so many times I want to give them peas and potatoes or green beans and rice or apples with oatmeal. Next month, we're going to start adding meats, but I was thinking about adding some other proteins this month--namely egg yolks and hummus. (Does anyone have a good recipe for hummus?) Also, I was thinking about blending more fruits together for bolder flavors. In my attempt at getting creative, I've come up with a few baby versions of adult food. When it's all mashed together, I'm sure it won't be very visually appetizing, but hopefully it will taste good!

Baby Omelet (this one I picked up at Wholesomebabyfood.com) 
Egg Yolk
Mashed Veggies
Shredded Cheese
Milk or Formula

Whip together yolks and formula. Pour into a pan with a little olive oil. Add mashed veggies and scramble until no longer runny. Add a little cheese (the girls like Cheddar, but I'd like to try Swiss & Parmesan), and mix until melted.


Fried Rice
Egg Yolk
Rice Cereal
Milk or Formula
Peas and Carrots (both mashed or pureed)
Garlic Powder (optional)

Scramble egg yolk or mash a hard boiled egg. Prepare rice cereal with milk or formula. Mix egg, rice cereal and veggies together. Add a sprinkle of garlic powder if your child has had it before.


Fruit Salad
Blueberries
Cherries
Apples
Pears
Peach juice (as needed)

Puree or mash fruits and add peach juice for smoothing if necessary. My girls can't have melons, bananas or citrus, but if your baby/babies can, go ahead and substitute.


Sweet Potato Casserole
Sweet Potato
Apple Sauce
Raisins
Cinnamon

Boil sweet potato and raisins (probably 1/4 cup of raisins per potato) until soft. Puree and mix with apple sauce. Mix in a sprinkle of cinnamon.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Eight-Month Report

Dani, come back!
Crawling, pulling up, trying to cruise--it was the month of mobility! Lillie has really mastered crawling and sitting on her own, but she's still working on getting into a seated position by herself. Dani began pulling up to her knees, then quickly moved to standing. Lillie still has trouble getting up on her own, but once she's there, she's up on her feet too. They're both cruising just a little. In fact, they both took a step (just one!) when I was holding their hands.

This month also marked the 80% completion of the playroom. It has a gate, bean bags and plenty of toys. The only thing left is to finish putting legs on the ottoman, paint the piano, and put some art on the walls.

They are also starting to try some finger foods. We've tried Cheerios as well as yogurt melts. They seem to really, really enjoy the melts. I think they're still making a decision about the Cheerios. Next, I'm going to try steamed carrots and cauliflower. Should be fun!!

Usually, I have some very nice pictures to show off. Last month, there were fits to be had. This month, they just didn't want to be still. It was darn near impossible to get them in the picture together. And the when we did get a picture together, there was not much happiness. Maybe next month will go more smoothly...or this could be the end of the official monthly photo shoots.

And now Dani's in the trash!

Mmm...it seems that Dani is causing all the trouble.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

How to Save a Bundle

First, don't have twins. Haha. But if you do have twins (or more!), you'll definitely appreciate this.

OK. Let's begin with diapers. My girls go through an average of 10 diapers a day. That's 70 diapers a week, 280 diapers a month. Most economy boxes of diapers are around 180 to 200 diapers. That's more than one huge box of diapers a month. If I paid full price for Pampers Swaddlers (which is my diaper of choice), I would pay around $42 for each box. That works out to about $0.23/diaper. That's $504 per year. Ouch.

The best way to save money was to not buy diapers at the store. There is no store--not Wal-Mart, not Costco, not Big Lots--that has diapers cheaper than you can get them online. When they were wearing newborn and size 1, I bought them a Diapers.com. It's my favorite site (if you'd like to get some wonderful stuff there, use my link over there to the right). When they moved to size 2, Amazon's wonderful Subscribe & Save program became my best friend. If you sign up, you get an extra 15% off your purchase. Amazon already sells Pampers for less than retail, so that brought my price of diapers down to $33.50, saving me nearly $100 over the course of a year. Not bad, right? Do you want to know what's even better? The Amazon Mom program. Through this program, you get the normal 15% off from Subscribe and Save, but then you get an additional 15% off, and now I'm paying under $30 for that 184-count box of Pampers Swaddlers, and that means I'm saving over $170 a year. That's better.

For the past few months, I've been overjoyed at my savings. Instead of paying $0.23/diaper, I've been paying $0.15/diaper. YAY! I decided that this wasn't quite enough. I'm not teaching any classes this quarter, so money is a little tight. If I can save even more, I would be a happy camper. When they were small, I tried Target brand (not cheaper than buying them from Amazon). I tried Huggies (which cost more than Pampers all around). I also checked out Luvs (which were too thin and smelled odd to me). I didn't like any very much.

Now that the girls have gone up another size, I decided to give another brand a try: Fisher-Price. Yep, Fisher-Price makes diapers! They're called Happy Days and Happy Nights. I bought a box through Amazon using the Subscribe & Save plus my Mom discount. I paid, wait for it, $13.99 for a box of 96 diapers! That's $0.14/diaper. Pampers Cruisers (their new diaper) are $0.17/diaper. That's an extra $32 saved. If I bought a 160-count box of Cruisers in a store, they would run me about $41 or $0.26/diaper. That means I'm saving $0.12 on each diaper by changing to Fisher-Price. That means I'm saving $436.80 a year.

Next up--formula. I envy all the women who are successfully breastfeeding their babies. Not only because you get to have that awesome bonding time with your kiddos, but also because you don't have to worry about schilling out $200 or so to buy formula. Our girls have been eating Similac Sensitive exclusively since they were about a month old.  Just as with the diapers, we tried different formula.  Enfamil seemed to cause more gas. The Target brand of Similac caused a really bad case of constipation in both of them, so brand name is where we stayed.

But when Similac had their huge recall, we were spending lots more to buy liquid formula and smaller cans of the powder. It just isn't cost-effective, so I looked for a new solution. We were originally purchasing our formula is the huge, huge tubs (by the case) from Costco. A case ran us about $200, that worked out to about $23 per 40 bottles of prepared formula. Since the girls are older, I decided to give the Target brand another try. I haven't researched per unit costs so much, so you'll just have to bear with me and my approximations. Two large canisters of Target brand sensitive formula costs $27. Two cans probably make 50 or so bottles. Without any complicated math, that saves us some serious cash in the long run.

So what's the lesson learned? Buy online. Second lesson? Don't be afraid to check out different brands. If your child gets sick or develops a rash, simply stop using it and return to your tried and true brand...that you're now happily buying online.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Seeing the Outside World

This past week, Dani has become very skilled at sitting up unsupported and crawling quite quickly. Lillie has started soldier crawling and sitting up for seconds at a time unsupported. Yesterday, though, they both did something very interesting.

Dani crawled towards the window. I think she may have seen a bird or leaves blowing in the trees, but she was so fascinated that she did this. She sat there for a good five minutes.


Then Lillie, not wanting to be left out of the fun, pulled her self over to the window to join her sister. (I had to help get her stabilized, but she pulled up mostly on her own.)


Then, when I was about to snap a second picture of the cuteness, Lillie surprised (and scared the crap out of) me, and did this!



I think it might be time to give that window a good cleaning!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Design Dilemma...Again

A while back, I wrote about the girls' playroom. I wanted to put some storage in there for toys and whatnot, but now I've decided that a bookcase probably isn't the best way to go. I'm thinking about soft-sided storage ottomans that can serve multiple purposes--seating for adults, storage for toys, and a soft item for the girls to pull up on when they get to that point (which will probably be very soon the way Dani is crawling up on pillows). I'd either go with a couple of cube ones or a larger trunk-like one.

Here's the room! Fun times, right?
So what do I need in this room to make it truly baby friendly? A gate is priority one. We have one, and it will hopefully be going up this week, as soon as a replacement part is delivered. Number two priority is something to cover the bottom of the piano. Dani has already attempted to lick the pedals, and I just can't have that. It has to be movable since I actually do play it. I'm leaning towards a decorative skirt. If I do the skirt on the piano, I'm thinking the floor pillows over there by the window will be in the same fabric.

Then there are the walls. This room is across from our dining room. Definitely not a formal setting, but it is a nice room, so I don't want the playroom to be so overtly childish that it looks weird across from our dining room. What would you do to decorate this room so that it's fun yet still nice enough to be the first room people see when they come over to your house? Do the soft ottomans sound like a good idea or would you just invest in more floor pillows for seating and just put the toys in a basket? Would you hang artwork on the walls? Or do some sort of removable vinyl sticker mural?

Help!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Planning to Plan

Two of my favorite parent-oriented sites, Ohdeedoh and Project Nursery, constantly have beautiful birthday parties featured. It may be 141 days until the girls' first birthday, and I know that at one year old, they aren't going to remember the party at all, but I find myself always thinking about what kind of party I want them to have.

I know for sure that I don't want it to be too themed. I want something simple yet cute. I keep thinking about borrowing this idea and going for a color theme (maybe red or turquoise or purple). It would be very easy to go to the dollar store or Target and buy solid color plates and napkins and tablecloths. I would also be the birthday nazi and ask everyone to show up in the color theme. I could serve foods in the theme color. Granted, I may have to skip that idea if I choose turquoise.

I also know for sure that I want them both to have their own cake. They share so many things, and will be sharing so many things throughout their lives. I think having their own cakes is a good idea. I've thrown around the idea of each getting a cupcake, but then I think that a mini-cake would be better. And when you think cakes, you start thinking flavors. I started out with the idea of giving them carrot cake because I love carrot cake, and it just seems healthier than regular cake. Then I realized that it's a birthday party, not a health food ad, so forget the carrot cake!

I love, love, love this rainbow cake. It's so playful and fun, but I think that might be reserved for their second or third birthday when they can appreciate the silliness more. Right now, I'm leaning towards a white cake with a fruit filling--strawberries or raspberries if I go with a red theme and blueberries or blackberries if I go purple. It's yummy and simple and pretty when you cut into it...or take pictures of it slathered all over Lillie and Dani's faces.

Then there's outfits. Oh yeah, I've even thought about what they might wear. (This is why I'm thinking about planning this far in advance!) I want them to look like the little princesses I know they're going to think they are, so I'd like them to wear dresses or skirts or something like that, but I also have to think about the fact that they will have cake and icing all over them at some point, so I must also think about washable things (or big huge bibs, whichever).

I'm a huge fan of the pettiskirt. What little girl doesn't want a really ruffly skirt they can twirl around in? Plus, after their birthday, they can use it to play dress up. You're picturing my girls in these skirts right now, aren't you? If you're not, I surely am! (I must say the little flower headband is cute too.)

It might be the one day they're dressed nearly alike. It will be like the day they came home--wearing the same outfit with different accessories.

I've also considered birthday hats or tiaras. They've worn hats before and don't seem to mind them, but I don't know how they'll be in a few months. I guess I'll find out this winter after they've gone through some hat wearing.

No matter what I decide about how I decorate, what they eat, or how they dress, I do know that I want the day to be special. I know that they will not remember it, but I'll remember it, and I want it to be something they can look at later on in pictures and think, "Hey, we had a pretty darn cool first birthday."

Friday, September 17, 2010

Seven Month Report

Dani began scooting forward quite quickly. Lillie started to reach out and pull herself forward. Dani got her first two teeth (the same bottom two as her sister). They both experienced their first colds. That's how the past month went.

They both went into some weird sleeping habits--waking far too early (4 am) and not sleeping much during the day. I'd like to say it was due to being sick, and I'm sticking to that!

The piano room has officially become their playroom (with the piano still in there), and we will soon be installing a gate so they won't escape when Mommy has to run to the bathroom or get something to drink.

I can't believe they're seven months old!! Just four and a half months or so until they (and we) have survived their first year!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Pointless but Cool

There are a lot of products on the market that are supposed to make a parent's life easier. Some of them definitely accomplish this, but some of them seem to be accomplishing this until you realize the real hassle they can become. I've been perusing Amazon lately, and I've come across a few items that seem really cool, but I can either find a cheaper or just-as-easy way to do the same thing with what I already have.


Wipes Warmers
No one wants to make their child uncomfortable; therefore, I completely understand the reasoning behind a wipes warmer, but are you going to lug that around when you take your kiddos out in public? Probably not. So when they're getting their diapers changed in your local mall restroom or at grandma's house, aren't they going to wonder why all of a sudden mommy or daddy is wiping their bums with that icky cold wipe? Why not just use that cold wipe all the time so they don't actually know the difference? Or they could be like my girls, who seem to relish in the feeling of cold air and cold wipes hitting their little behinds.


The Single Bottle Formula Mixer
This mixer is cool because, as any mamma who's made formula knows, formula gets a little foamy when you mix it. This handy dandy hand mixer will get out the lumps without all that pesky foaming. But really, do I need spend $5 on something I can do just by picking up the bottle and rolling it in my hands for a few seconds? Nope.


Special Diaper Pails
The Diaper Genie, the Diaper Champ, the Diaper Dekor...all those fancy diaper pails that lock away the stench of diapers is a wonderful idea, but I've found that a nice sturdy trashcan with a good lid and some biodegradable bags for the stinky diapers works very well. And when the girls get big enough to no longer need diapers, I still have a pretty darn nice trashcan.


The Steam Sterilizer
These things are pretty nifty. You just put all your bottles, pacifiers and whatever else will go in your children's mouths on a regular basis, pop it in the microwave for a few minutes, and everything is nice and sanitary.  I even have one in the cabinet above my microwave. Thankfully, I didn't buy it because I've used it once. A microwavable safe bowl, water, microwave until it's boiling. Plop in your nipples and pacifiers for five minutes. Fill your kitchen sink with hot water; add soap; wash bottles, toys, teethers, and whatnot. There. I just saved you about twenty bucks.


Designer Maternity Wear
Only if you make six figures a year should you even think about paying $150 for a pair of maternity jeans. And take your hands away from that $80 silk top. You will wear them for maybe a year. I do not care how comfortable they are or how into designer clothes you are. You are pregnant. Heidi Klum makes a great line of maternity wear for Motherhood Maternity at reasonable prices. Plus Target, Kohls, and Old Navy carry some great stuff. I know I looked just as cute in my $35 jeans from Old Navy as some hoity toity mom in her way-too-expensive Lucky Jeans.



Designer Baby Wear
This is actually worse than maternity wear. Your children will grow so fast, it's insane to even think about buying them clothes that cost more than yours. They're not going to wear them more than a couple of times. In those couple of times, they could easily spit up, throw up, pee or poop on them as well. I do not care how cute that $130 coat is from Ralph Lauren, your baby does not need it. Heck, I'm having trouble justifying this absolutely adorable $20 coat I saw at Old Navy because I would need to buy two. How long are they actually going to wear those? Don't warm blankets, cute hats, and layers work just as well? I think so.




But that coat is still friggin' adorable.


Got any more? I know there are just tons of things that are cute, useful, and way over-priced that we can add to the list!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Where Shall We Sit?

It's months away, for sure, but just like nearly everything else I've done involving these children, I've begun researching their next car seats.

Their current car seats didn't take much thought. Their cousin had outgrown his infant seat, so we had a free one at our disposal. To make life easier, we just needed to buy one new car seat. Done and done. But now I have to really think about this. To what kind of car seat are the girls going to graduate? There are a few factors to consider, of course: size, weight and height limits, comfort, size, features, and did I mention size?

You notice how I didn't mention safety ratings? Well, contrary to popular belief, infant and toddler car seats do not have safety ratings. The five-star ratings you see advertised are for ease-of-use as rated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. A car seat is on a pass/fail system. If it's in stores, it's safe. If it proves not to be safe, it can no longer be sold. End of story. Some companies, just like with cars, go above and beyond the safety standards to allow for even safer seats, but all seats are crash tested and approved by the NHTSA.

Now, on to the seats...


The front-runner right now is the Combi Coccoro. It comes in an array of nice colors, costs just under $168 on Amazon, and is smaller than the average convertible seat. According to the website, the compact size "[a]llows up to 3 seats across the rear seat of most vehicles." With the width being a slim 14.65 inches, I can believe it (especially since our current seats measure 16.5 inches across). Right now, a very skinny person could sit comfortably in the back seat with the girls. I'm sure an average sized person could fit too, but they wouldn't be comfortable or buckled in properly, so we just say that we don't have room for someone back there. If we all of a sudden had another four inches opened up, I'm sure we could get someone in the back seat.

The downside to these seats is that they are compact, which means they have a lower weight and height limit (front-facing 40lbs and 40in). Since both Lillie and Dani have been hovering around the 50th percentile for both height and weight, I would say that they would get a good bit of use out of these seats, and we probably would just graduate to boosters after they outgrew these. But that's not a guarantee, and we may be buying a third seat if either of them decide to have a growth spurt.


Our next choice is on the opposite side of the spectrum. It's the Graco Nautilus 3-in-1 Seat. It's not compact in the slightest. At 20 inches wide, we can say goodbye to that middle seat in the back. It has tons of features unlike the simple Coccoro. It is also only a forward-facing seat, so it would not be a good choice for us if the girls reach the height limit on their current seats before they hit the weight limit. (I would like to keep them rear-facing as long as possible.) It does, however, come in a nice array of colors.

It's just under $180 on Amazon, so the price difference isn't too bad, especially since it will be the girls' second and last car seat. It works for a child from 20 pounds up to 100. Starting as a regular front-facing seat with "extended 5-point harness for children 20-65 pounds" then it "converts to high-back belt positioning booster for child 30 pounds to 100 pounds." The back can also be removed so it's a simple booster seat. Oh, and check out the cup holders! Plus it has a three-position recliner and storage pockets. It's also been side-impact crash-tested, which is not a requirement for car seats.


Graco also carries the My Ride (TM) 65 Convertible Seat, which is a rear-facing and front-facing convertible seat. It has the same side-impact crash test standards as the Nautilus, plus the girls could stay rear facing an extra five pounds past their current seats.

It has dual cup holders and a removable headrest. It's the same width as the Nautilus, so we still wouldn't get our rear seat back, and it also has a very deep recline, which may make it non-ideal for our car. I mean, we did have to buy a new vehicle so that the car seats and Tim could fit inside at the same time. Alas, it does have one of the lowest price tags at just under $150 on Amazon ($130 for the god-awful purple at Wal-Mart). As with the Coccoro, the girls would probably just graduate to a booster seat when they outgrew this one, but they would be in this seat (height willing) an extra 25 pounds before we would have to move on.



Speaking of price, we've also looked at the Evenflo Titan Elite DLX Convertible. At the low, low price of $94.99 at Sears, it is the best deal I've seen thus far on car seats. (OK, that's not true, but the one I saw for $55 looked like plastic with some cloth thrown over it.) At 18.5 inches, it's slimmer than the Graco set, and it still totes a cup holder!

Its maximum weight is 50 pounds, so it would last longer than the Combi but not longer than either Graco. There are many colors to choose from, but they're all a variation of black, gray and tan. I guess you have to pay extra for those bright colors. I'm sure the other seats have this feature, but this is the first one that says the cover is machine washable, which is a nice, nice feature (and oddly rare on lots of fabric-covered baby items).


I know that not all things can be judged by their price. Sometimes price comes with a name, but sometimes price comes with quality. I've seen the Coccoro and the Nautilus in person. I have yet to see the My Ride or Titan Elite. For pure space reasons, I really like the Coccoro, but if I would like to have a seat that will stay with the girls for a long time, one of the Gracos is probably the better choice.

Please weigh in! If I didn't want your opinion, I wouldn't write this blog.

**UPDATE**
I've now seen all four seats in person, and I believe the Evenflo might be the new front-runner. I still like the idea of regaining another seat in the back by getting the Combi seats, but with the price and the longevity, I might not be able to pass up the Evenflo. I guess we'll see for sure when the time comes.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

And 5, 6, 7, 8

I don't know about moms of singletons, but as a mom of twins, I find myself counting...a lot.

I count the number of tablespoons each girls gets of cereal or fruit or veggies at each meal (two). I count how many bites of cereal each girl gets before it's the other one's turn (10 bites). I count how long one gets to stay in the Jumperoo before they switch (15 minutes at playtime, 10 minutes before dinner). I count how long I rub their backs when they wake up in the middle of the night (2.5 minutes or 180 small circles). I count how many diapers stay in their diaper bag (8 after running out one time when they visited Grandpapa and Nana). I even count how many pictures I take of them each day so I make sure I take an even amount of each girl.

It's an obsession I tell you. Even when I'm not thinking about how long something takes or how much it needs to be, I still find myself counting in my head. It's very weird, and I'm curious if I'll ever stop doing it. Hopefully one day!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Six Month Report

The girls have made it halfway through their first year. They are both in one piece, and Tim and I still have the majority of our sanity. Woo!

Lillie (top): 16lbs, 2.5oz
Dani: 15lbs, 3.5oz

The big milestone of the month--Lillie sprouted her first tooth (and I see hints of second one in there). She's gnawing on everything she can get her hands on. Her pacifier is starting to get little marks on it, so I know she will soon need a new one.

Speaking of new pacis (pacies? pacys?), Dani has moved on to a Playtex Binky. She still prefers her Soothie when sleeping, but she uses the Binky most of the day. I'm so proud of her! Lillie is a little more particular, but I think she'll eventually take to the new one herself.

Both girls are sitting up better. Neither is fully sitting on her own yet, but I don't think we're too far away from that. Actually, I think they're more interested in crawling the sitting, so who knows. I might have crawlers before I have sitters!

The girls have also expanded their palettes to include green beans, peas, carrots, peaches, yellow & butternut squash. All of these were mostly prepared by me, so I'm quite proud of everyone! They are eating extremely well. Both will open their mouths quite wide for food and clean their bowls every single time. At this point, I cannot imagine they will be picky eaters, but I'm sure the day will come.

They're still off and on with the sleeping. Some days they'll sleep until 7 and some days (lately especially) they're up at 4 and need some help getting back to sleep. Dani is pretty much sleeping through the night. We check on her a couple of times. Lillie is waking up more often, but I think it's due to her little teeth.  Who knows. The sleep thing is still the big stress in my life, but I'm getting better at handling it.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Tools for Food

On June 26, I gave Lillie and Dani cereal for the first time. That did not go well. I tried again on July 8 with far more success. About a week later, per our pediatrician's recommendation, I started adding fruits and veggies to their cereal. We started with apples, then pears and carrots--all store-bought baby food. Then, I made sweet potatoes, butternut squash, peas, peaches and green beans for them.

This is what I learned from making my own baby food: you must, must, must have the right tools. Otherwise it seems so simple until you're pulling pea skins out of your daughters' food bowls.

It doesn't take much. You need fresh or frozen food, a solid food processor, storage containers, a potato masher or fork, and a food mill or mesh strainer. Let me stress that last one. You need a food mill or mesh strainer. If you don't want your hand to fall off from pushing food through small holds, get a food mill.

Though I've only been making food for the girls for about two weeks, I've already decided what tools I need to make this all go much smoother.

Some Good Reading
My sister-in-law Pam pointed me to a wonderful website called Wholesome Baby Food. It has some great recipes, tips and menu plans. I'm of lover of most things Internet, so I always have to recommend a website.

I also must recommend two wonderful books. First, Great Expectations: Best Food for Your Baby & Toddler. It has wonderful tips on when and how to start your baby on solids. It gives nutritional information, recipes, menu plans and storage information. It also will take your child through her first five years. I've read half of it and love it already! Second, Blender Baby Foods which has tons of recipes for children ages 4 months to whenever. It's broken up by age, and it gave me some great ideas on how to combine fruits and vegetables once the girls start on their second stage of solids.

Mash and Puree
Next up, a good food processor. I'm still working on finding this, but if my food mill works well, then I'll survive with the mediocre food processor I have now. There are some great processors made just for baby food, but I'm not sure they're really worth the extra cost. While browsing at Target, I did find two that meet the standards I'm looking for.

The Kitchen Aid 7-Cup Processor is small, powerful, and under $100. It doesn't have a gazillion settings like my current food processor. (Do I really need 1-12 speeds for baby puree?) It's got a good sharp blade and a wide opening to add food or liquid. I don't know how loud it is, but it's got to be quieter than my current processor which is much like listening to a jet engine in my kitchen.

For foods with skins and stringy pieces (e.g. sweet potatoes, peas, green beans), you will also need a fine mesh strainer or a food mill. As I said before, I recommend a food mill. I bought a fine mesh strainer for the low, low price of $5, and I would've paid someone twice that to push a cup of green beans through it just to get rid of the skin. Ugh. My food mill is arriving today, and I'm already excited about using it! I went with the RSVP International Veg-3 Rotary Mill. It comes with three steel discs (a lot of baby food mills are plastic) and a long handle. 

For soft foods like potatoes, avocados, bananas and most melons, you'll simply need a potato masher or a fork--depending on your batch size. 


Store Away
As soon as the girls have tried a food and prove to have no allergies, I will be making things in bulk. And when making in bulk, you must have a good storage system. Ice cube trays are a great way to go. (Look for ones that have a lid to keep out freezer smells.) They're about one ounce in size, inexpensive, and freeze baby food in nice convenient cubes. Once the food is frozen, you can transfer it to freezer storage bags. Now, you can go straight from freezer to warmer or microwave and the meal is ready to go. I decided to go a step beyond ice cube trays. Mostly because I hate plastic freezer bags in my freezer. I went with the 2 oz Baby Cubes from Juvenile Solutions. For smaller batches that I plan to serve right away, I just use the smallest storage containers I have. My mom was nice enough to buy me a great set from Rubbermaid with snap locking lids.


The Food
You can't make baby food without the food. Great first foods include peas, carrots*, green beans, peaches, pears, apples, sweet potatoes, bananas and squash. By all means, if you want to buy everything fresh, go right ahead, but I've got two babies to worry about and prepping, cooking, mashing, pureeing and storing all fresh is not exactly my cup of tea, so I choose which to buy fresh and which to buy frozen.

Green beans, squash (especially butternut), peas, and peaches are perfect frozen. There's not cutting, snapping or peeling necessary. Plus, peas are at they're freshest when they're frozen, and butternut squash comes already pureed if you buy the frozen box instead of the bag!  Just make sure to read the ingredients. Baby food has the fruit or veggie, water, and sometimes absorbic acid. Your frozen foods should read the same. So far, I've only run into a problem with peas--most of the frozen ones had added salt.  Avoid canned because of the extra preservatives. I would only but canned pumpkin since I'm in no mood to seed and roast a pumpkin!

So far, I'm really enjoying giving the girls new foods everyday. They haven't had much that hasn't been mixed into their rice cereal yet because I'm mostly looking for allergic reactions right now, but soon I'll be giving them tiny meals in the morning and evening. 

The only difficult part thus far is keeping one occupied while I give the other a few spoonfuls. My girls are definite chow hounds, and they can't stand waiting while the other one gets to munch on the yummy stuff!



*You should use store-bought carrots. The American Pediatrics Association advises against homemade carrots, beets, turnips, spinach and collards due to high levels of nitrates.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

It's What?!

A year ago today, Tim and I found out that we were not having one baby but two.

It was a Tuesday morning, right after the McQuinn family reunion. I'm lying on the exam table. Tim's standing next to me, and Dr. Woodall asks, "Do twins run in your family? I sort of laugh and lose my breath all at the same time. I have no idea what reaction Tim is having because my eyes are glued to monitor showing the two small dots that were my two babies!



My mom went from saying "as long as you're happy" to saying "oh, twins!" with a look of sheer joy on her face. My grandmother claimed she knew all along. Heck, she may have! My friends had various reactions from "seriously?" to "wonderful!" to laughing their asses off (you know who you are).

It took almost a month for me to accept the idea of twins. Who knows if Tim's accepted to this day. :) But now I'm in a state of mind that I can't think of just having one (that is different from sometimes wishing I only had one). Everytime I see a friend's baby registry, I always--even if for only a moment--wonder where the other car seat, high chair, carrier is. I guess when you get used to buying things for two, it's hard to set your mind on one.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Five Month Report

This past month was a big month.  Lillie rolled onto her tummy and learned that sleeping on her tummy is the way to go. Dani learned to roll onto her tummy as well, and now she does it nearly every time we put her on the floor. She recently started sleeping on her tummy as well.

 Mom! Is it really necessary for us to be this close?

We went on our first excursion without a second adult. Granted, we went to visit Rachael and Zanon, but still, I survived a car ride to Spring Hill with them in tow.

They went to their first sit-down restaurant for Day-Before-Father's Day brunch. They were complete princesses.

I survived a week of Tim being out of town plus a week of going solo during the day.

We started cereal. Failed. Then tried again two weeks later to great success. Now they're both eating a couple of tablespoons twice a day. Yesterday, I added apples. Dani likes it, but Lillie can't get enough!

We experimented with a modified cry it out. Failed at that too. Then tried again starting last week with some tweaks. It actually seems to be working. The girls are sleeping more soundly at night, and I think I may be getting nearly seven (yep, that's a number that comes AFTER five) hours of sleep! I even had waffles out on my deck one morning.

The biggest thing of all, though, is that they're really started to interact. When I put them on the floor or in the play yard together, they will turn towards each other holding hands. In fact, a couple of days ago, they played with one of their soft books for nearly 20 minutes while I ate breakfast. That little reprieve brought sweet visions of them keeping each other company when they're a little older. It was a small glimpse of one of the perks to having twins--a built-in playmate!

Finally, if only in small doses, I'm starting to really enjoy being a parent. Up until now, it's really been work, work, work, work. It's still tons of work--I don't think that will ever change--but it is becoming more like work I love.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Month-to-Month

I realized this morning that I should do a monthly report on the girls who actually brought this blog into being. Since I didn't think about it until their fourth month of life, I'll begin with month five. But just for the heck of it, check out their progression in photos.

Birth
Lillie (right): 5 lbs, 7 oz & 18 in.
Dani: 5 lbs, 12 oz & 19 in.

They arrived a little early--35 weeks, 4 days. They were healthy though and never spent any time in the NICU. When Lillie was born, she didn't cry right away, but when she hit the examining table, she let out a nice wail. Dani started the moment the doctor held her up. I got to hold Dani first since Lillie needed a little warming up before she could visit, but it wasn't too long before I got to hold them both. 


One Month
Lillie (left): 8 lbs, 8 oz
Dani: 8 lbs, 7 oz


Two Months
Lillie (left): 9 lbs, 10 oz
Dani: 9 lbs, 14.5 oz

Three Months
Lillie (right): No idea about weights this month.
Dani: I'm sure I wrote it down somewhere!

 Four Months
Lillie (right): 14 lbs, 1 oz & 24 3/4 in.
Dani: 13 lbs, 8 oz & 25 1/8 in.

Rice on a Spoon on a Chin on a Bib

At their four month checkup, Dr. Triggs gave Lillie and Dani the go ahead to try solid foods. Last Saturday, in an effort to "entertain" the girls until bed time, Tim and I decided that it was time to bust out the rice cereal and try it.


Lillie wasn't really having it. She was already a little upset, so I didn't really push it. She definitely ended up with more on her chin than in her mouth. She did tilt her head way back to let some roll into her throat though.

Dani was more than ready to go. As soon as the spoon headed in her direction, she opened her mouth wide. Once the cereal was in though, there was more slurping than swallowing.


Sunday morning, I tried again. Both girls opened their mouths a little bit (after a demonstration from Mommy and a bowl of Kix), but still not much happening. I decided to do a little taste test to see if it was a flavor issue, but they both happily sucked on their pacifiers dipped in soupy cereal, so I just think they may not quite be ready.

We will try again in two weeks or so.

Once they get the hang of cereal for a couple of weeks, we'll move on to fruits and vegetables...of which I plan to do most of the preparing. That's a whole 'nother blog!

No matter what, it was a fun experience. It will definitely be easier once their new high chairs arrive, and when I'm a little more organized with the whole thing.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Squeaky Clean

So...now that we've discussed organization and general tidiness. Let's talk about the actual cleaning. The let's-not-find-last-week's-can-of-soda-behind-the-nightstand kind of clean. (Unfortunately, I didn't just pull that statement out of thin air.)

With what do you clean?


I believe in keeping my kids toxic free. I've always used fragrance and dye free laundry detergent and dryer sheets. But in saying that, there are a few things that just work better because of the chemicals.

These are my cleaning friends:

Method Products
I've become a big fan of Method. They believe in clean cleaning--no harsh chemicals. Everything is plant-derived and people friendly. We use their all-purpose wipes, hand soaps, wood polish, stainless steel cleaner and home fragrances. I also like their wet dryer sheets, but the cost makes them a luxury rather than a staple.


Vinegar
It's a perfect way to clean drains and laminate flooring. In the drain, you pair it with baking soda, and it's a great way to freshen your garbage disposal and clear out small clogs. On the floor, it gets up gunky residue and doesn't leave a film behind. Hey, it also keeps ants at bay!

OxiClean
Formula stains be damned! OxiClean stain-treater works to get those spots out of bibs, baby clothes, and your clothes too. I also add a cup from my big bucket o' powder to the wash to make everything smell better and get cleaner. Oh, and it's great for spot cleaning carpets (but not so much on our red sofa). My biggest complaint is that it clumps on the cold cycle in the wash. The best way to prevent this is to put it in as the water's running, use a towel or burp cloth to swish it around, and then load the washer. I may try the little Max Packets for convenience when I run out of my big bucket.


Bleach
Never ever turn your nose up at bleach. It should be a parents' staple. You can sterilize toys, bottles, sippy cups, high chairs, bath tubs and even fruit and veggies (if it's super diluted). It will make socks and burp cloths and cloth diapers as white as the day you bought them. I pour some in all the toilet bowls, let it sit and then flush. Voila! Clean! To make the experience more pleasant, I buy the splashless Clorox bleach with a fresh scent. Not that I'm going around sniffing my bleach, but the scent does help cut back on the awful bleachy smell.

Scrubbing Bubbles
I'm lazy. Even though I love to see things sparkling and clean, I hate taking a long time to do it. I would rather my cleaning products work well and not require a lot of extra work from me. Ladies and gentlemen, let me present to you Scrubbing Bubbles. All those cute commercials are true. This stuff is a cleaning powerhouse. I spray in in the shower, in the sink or tub, let it sit for a couple of minutes, and wipe and rinse. It's amazing! While I was pregnant, I discovered that they make a natural cleaner. It works well, but not as well as the original. I use the natural spray on the sinks and counter tops while the original still goes to work on the tub and shower. I've even used it on the bathroom floors. I love it!


BabyGanics
I just discovered this company, and I'm already loving their hand sanitizer. It's alcohol-free, so I don't freak out when I use it and then Lille or Dani decides to grab my finger and chew on it. The smell isn't the best in the world, but it's not icky. They also carry laundry detergent, baby wash and shampoos, as well as all kinds of home cleaners. The company's motto is much like Method's--safe for the environment as well as the family. I did smell their laundry detergent, and I would recommend staying away from that unless the scent dissipates in the wash. I plan on trying their other products if the prices are better than Method.

Well, with all this talk of cleaning. I feel as if I should go clean some bottles. Happy cleaning everyone!