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!) 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 
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
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

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! 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 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.