Welcome to the many adventures of the Cartwright family.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Twin Gear- Essentials on a Budget

Two for the price of one!

You hear that a lot when people find out you are pregnant with twins.  To this I think most twin moms will say, "Ha!"  There is no buy one get one for having two babies, and you still need two of several baby items.  Fortunately you don't need two of everything, but you do need two of most of the basics.  So what do you actually need two of?  What can you skip?  What can you wait to buy?  I'm going to break it down for you.  First up will be what gear I actually used in the first few months with my girls.  For the second part I decided to do a little digital shopping to see how much this would all cost to buy new.  We were blessed with a lot of hand me downs and my husband's amazing garage sale shopping abilities, so we got some real deals.  But not everyone has the time or resources to do that kind of work.    I wanted to keep the initial investment as low as possible while sticking to products we have actually used as much as possible, and aimed for a $1000 budget.  That's $500 a baby, which I think is reasonable.  Let's do this.





First up is the list of the gear you will need in the first couple of months.

You need two:

Bassinets: AAP safety guidelines recommend a separate sleeping area for each baby.  The bassinet is only used for a short time, but it is handy to have something a little smaller that can be in your room.  I like the bassinets that top pack and plays.  That way when you are done with the top you still have a pack and play to use.

Cribs: Once your babies are in their own room they will need their own beds.  Most cribs these days convert into toddler beds, so despite having to buy two you will use it for a few years.

Crib mattresses: Two cribs, two mattresses.  It makes sense.

Car seats: If you want to drive anywhere, you need two car seats.  There is no way to get around this one.

Bouncer/swing/baby seat: I know this sounds mean, but sometimes you have to put the babies down.  You do need a place to put each baby.  Yes they need floor time, but the floor isn't always the best place, especially if you have older children running around.  I like the bouncer because they are easier to move to different parts of your house.  They are also very helpful for soothing two babies at once.  I think the bouncer is easier to customize the motion to the level of fuss.

There isn't really that much that you need literally two of them.  Unfortunately these are most of the big ticket items, making it more expensive.

There are only two twin specific items I could think of that we used this year.

Twin Specific:

Twin nursing pillow: I didn't use a pillow with my singleton, but with twins it made all the difference.

Double stroller: If you want to leave the house you need a way to get those babies around.  There are twin wraps for babywearing, but I prefer to use a stroller.  One person can push both babies with a double stroller.


Everything Else:

Other things (diapers, wipes, burp cloths, swaddles, outfits, blankets, toys, bottles if you are using them, pacifiers, etc) you need more of, but not necessarily a certain number.  If you are willing to do more laundry you can get by with fewer of these items.  I would buy some to start, but wait to get more until you see a real need.

Items the baby doesn't really interact with or things you know you will use one at a time you only need one of.  These are things like a monitor, a sound machine (although if your twins have different rooms you may need two), baby bath, and pump.

Items to skip:

There are two big items I would skip.  This is personal preference, but I actually had these items available when the girls were newborns and didn't use them.

Changing table: I changed my girls on a table once.  Now, I used it all the time with just one baby.  But with two it is way easier to  just camp out on the floor.  I know, it doesn't sound fancy, but it is way faster.

Glider or rocker:
I used a rocker when nursing one baby.  Two babies mean you need way more room.  We didn't want to spend the money on another furniture item so we skipped this and it worked out just fine.  I could nurse on the couch.  As the girls got older they started to be impatient if they finished first.  Nursing on the floor meant the early finisher could gently roll off the pillow and get back to playing without disturbing her sister.

How much will it cost?

How much can you expect to spend on all your twin gear?  Well as little as possible would be the goal.  I decided to see what I could find on Amazon, everyone's favorite online store, to get everything I need as cheaply as possible.  (These prices were as I found them as of the original publication date of this post, 2/24/17.  They may have changed with time.) These are all either the products we actually used, or as close as I could find.



Twin Bassinet. I like using the pack and play with the bassinet top.  This way we can use the pack and play long after you no longer need the top.  Sadly the twin one is more expensive.  You could go ahead and get two of the regular bassinet  for about the same price.  We didn't have room for that in our room, so the double it was for us.  Pack and play with twin bassinet top: $129.59.

Crib. This is one of the most basic model cribs I could find.  I really feel like cribs have gone a little nuts these days.  You can get giant cribs with all sorts of bells and whistles.  Yes, a lot of them are beautiful.  But you know what I have learned?  Kids like to chew on cribs.  Kids like to use their cribs to climb on and mess around.  And where do you leave your children without direct supervision the most?  Their cribs.  This leaves them open to all sorts of issues.  Add to that with twins you could be putting two cribs in one room.  That takes up a lot of space!  I wanted the safest, most simple crib I could get for the cheapest price.  This one still has three mattress height levels for safety.  It can still be converted into a toddler bed.  There is some cost variance with different finishes.  But for having to buy two I went with the cheapest.  Crib: $99.99.  For two: $199.98.

Crib Mattress. This is an item I wouldn't necessarily go on just price for.  I mean, your baby is going to spend a lot of time sleeping on this mattress.  And I know I've mentioned a time or two how much I don't like messing with sleep.  Plus a quality mattress can help lower some SIDS risk.  Worth the extra money in my mind.  This mattress still has a waterproof cover.  This is a huge bonus when (not if, when) your little one has a diaper blowout all over the bed.  Splurge on a little more expensive mattress and save elsewhere.  Safety and sleep matter.  Mattress: $58.99. For two: $117.98.

Crib Sheets. It is super fun to get the cute themed out ones, but really babies don't care.  Grab a two pack to start.  When our babies were newborns they were swaddled and we put burp clothes under them to sleep, so they didn't really touch the sheets for a few months.  You can buy more as you need them.  Crib sheet two pack: $11.96

Car Seat. We have used Graco Snugride 30 car seats with all three of our kids.  I really like them.  We were actually in a multi-car collision when my oldest was a baby.  He was in this car seat and was completely fine.  So sadly I have tested this one out.  They are decently lightweight, easy to snap baby into, and easy to load into the base.  With twins I really enjoy having the bucket style car seat that can be taken in and out of the car.  It is way easier to load the girls up inside and carry them both out to the car instead of bringing one to the car and strapping her in, then going to get the other.  It might sound strange but when you are out and about it is nice to sometimes have a place to put your baby down.  The car seat is already with you, making it perfect for this.  This car seat is rear facing only, but babies should stay rear facing for as long as possible.  It is good for babies as small as four pounds, which is good because twins are often on the smaller side.  This seat comes with the base, which is awesome for easy loading.  It can also be used without the base, good to know if you are going out of town with it.  Car seat: $71.99.  For two: $143.98.

Stroller. This snap and go stroller is awesome.  It is just the frame of a double stroller, but most bucket car seats snap into it.  (The Graco Snugride does, another bonus of getting that style car seat.)  Since this is just a frame, it takes up way less space when folded up and fits easily into the trunk of a car.  It is way cheaper than most twin strollers you will find.  It is easy to use and easy to fold up.  We use ours almost every day.  I was able to find mine used, which is awesome.  They are very twin specific item though, so it can be a challenge to track one down.  If you have one they are easy to resell.  I have literally had a car pull over and ask to buy mine out from under my girls while we were out on a walk.  If you have a toddler you might be thinking about how you will use a stroller with all three kids.  My eldest was two and a half when the girls were born and he has walked everywhere since then.  As much as I want to say twins don't hold you back, babies in general can limit some of the places you go and the amount of time you are out.  It has never been an issue for us to have our son walk. We do still have an umbrella stroller.  My thinking is if we are going somewhere major enough to be concerned a toddler can't walk the whole time, I will probably have another adult with me to push the extra stroller.  This snap and go is long, and honestly a bit of a boat to push around.  But it is easier to maneuver than some side by side ones, in my opinion.  The front to back method makes it easier to get through doorways, a huge plus.  We use this stroller pretty much every day, making it a worthwhile investment.  Stroller: $67.99.

Nursing Pillow. I should really work for this company I have plugged this pillow so much.  But seriously, I love it.  It is worth every penny.  Speaking of, I did the math and for the number of times I used it during the year it comes out to about four cents a use.  Since it is a twin pillow, that is actually two cents per baby a feed.  That is a good deal.  This pillow really helped me position the girls when they were newborns, and it still helps me hold both girls to feed them thirteen months later.  This is my top product for any twin mom.  Nursing Pillow: $49.97.

Bigger Bouncer or Smaller Bouncer. Okay, I have two choices here.  The first one is the bouncer we had with Ben.  We had another smaller one much like the smaller bouncer listed here at the office.  I started off using the smaller bouncer with the girls.  The drawback to that one is that I didn't feel like newborns are as well supported in it.  The girls would slip and tilt to the side, even when strapped in.  We had a small house with a two year old running around, so the bigger bouncer gave me a better sense of safety for the girls while they were in it.  This sort of purchase can a bit of a gamble.  My son loved his bouncers.  He adored being in them and was so happy to be bounced.  He used them until he was too big.  The girls lost interest a little earlier, around 7 months when they got mobile.  After that point they still came in handy for soothing the girls.  Both types of bouncers vibrate and have a removable toy bar to look at.  Let me tell you, my babies all adored the birds on the big bouncer.  Crazy loved them.  I think this is one you really have to consider the size of your home, your planned use, and if you have other little kids running around (or pets).  I actually like the foot bouncing as opposed to automatic ones.  You can give the level of bounce your baby wants, then taper off if they fall asleep.  This limits dependence on bouncing to sleep in my mind.  Big bouncer: $45.21. For two: $90.42.  Smaller bouncer: $19.50. For two: $39.00.  This is a decent difference, but if you can swing the bigger bouncer I would recommend it.

Alright, that is all the big items you will need to purchase.  The total? $811.87. Not too bad!  Only $760.45 if you go with the smaller bouncers.  After the big things you can make more choices based on price and preferences.

Bathtub. Simple, works in a sink and later sitting in a tub (uses less water and helpful to contain baby)  The plastic is very easy to clean, even the cushion for baby to sit on.  The newborn sling helps keep your little ones out of the water while you get them all clean.  $17.98

Sound Machine. This one has six sounds to choose from.  It also has the option to play continuously or set a time limit.  It can be plugged in or use battery power.  It is small and sturdy, making it great to travel with. $19.97.

Monitor. Video monitors are fun, but they are also more expensive.  And no, you don't need one.  The sound ones work just fine.  This one has a parent unit that can be battery operated to carry around with you.  I have a small enough home that I rarely used a monitor with the girls.  (First time mom me used it with my son all the time.  My girls have always been, well, loud.)  If you have such a large home that you might not be able to hear the babies, well, then you can probably afford the fancier monitors.  $17.98

Swaddles. We got by with three swaddles.  One per girl and a backup in case of emergency.  They always had jammies on underneath, so they weren't directly touching the swaddle and didn't mess them up often.   These are my all time favorite.  They are easy to use and really keep babies snug.  $19.94

Small Blankets. These small blankets can work in several ways.  We put them on the bouncers for easier cleaning.  We put them on the floor for the babies to lay on.  They can work as burp cloths.  They can be tiny blankets for when baby is napping by you.  They are a little harder to swaddle with, but it can be done in a pinch.  We put these cloths on every surface the babies were on.  It is way easier to do a load of laundry than clean spit up off of some things.  Some babies are big spitters.  We had burp cloths everywhere with my son.  My girls weren't really, so we didn't need as many.  I would start with two packs for twins and then reassess what you need based on your baby.  $21.98 (for two packs of 4)

Clothing.  You will need some clothing for your babies.  I would get a couple of newborn sleepers and onesies to start with.  Babies grow so fast and vary in size so much it can be hard to know what to get.  My son fit into newborn clothes for like a week.  The girls lasted much longer.  If your twins come early you may need preemie clothes.  I would get a couple of staples then wait and order what you need as you go.  There are a lot of variables to clothes- climate, time of year, and personal taste really play in to this, hence no personal recommendation.  I'd set aside about $50 for this.  (And not to depend on others, but people love to buy twins clothes, so hold off on spending too much.)

Diapers, diaper cream, wipes.  Costco has cheap ones.  We love Target brand and find it very affordable.  I don't like to recommend certain brands for these because different babies can have such different reactions to creams and diapers.  Get some newborn diapers, but if in doubt stock up on size one.  You can always get more newborn if you find you need them.  Approximate cost: Diapers: $22 per pack (around 176 diapers). Cream: $3.50. Wipes: $15 for a pack of 8.

Soap and lotion: We got by on the hospital samples for some time.  Same as with the diapers, you might have to try a few types to see what works with your baby's skin.  Approximate cost: $7.59 for Johnson and Johnson double pack.

Pump. Insurance should cover this now, so free!

Bottles. We nursed, so I don't know a lot about bottles.  I do know with my firstborn I was able to get sample bottles from formula companies for free.  Try that first and see what your baby likes before investing a ton into bottles.  If you go this route you might be able to skip the nursing pillow and use that money for formula and bottle needs.

Add it all up!

Alright, that was a lot!  Let's add in the extras to get an approximate cost before the babies even show up.  That is around $195.94 for the extras.  If you go for the smaller bouncers we are at $956.39.  If you splurge on the bigger bouncer you are at $1007.81!   Yes, it is over our goal of $1000, but we are pretty darn close.  Shopping sales, waiting on things you might not need right away (like monitors if your babies are sleeping in your room.) This list is just a jumping off point.  You will need more as your babies grow and you get to know what works best for your family.  But this shows that it is possible to get set up for your twins for a reasonable price!

One last bonus of twins- some places do actually give you a discount if you buy two of the same bit items.  Baby's R Us gives 10% off two identical items over $100, for example.  Some of these need to be bought in store, but hey it can save money!  Check out the following sites for twin discounts.
Twinniversity- multiple birth discounts
Very Well- Discounts and freebies for twins and multiples
Twin Pregnancy-discounts for twins
The Twin Coach-discounts and deals

There are more if you google twin discounts.  And if you have a product you really love email them, you just might get some coupons.

Having twins is big, especially financially.  But it doesn't have to break the bank.  You can do this.

-Kim

These are just some suggestions.  I would love to hear what other deals or advice twin moms have!  Comment and let me know where you found a deal or what you found you did/didn't need with twins.



Thursday, February 23, 2017

Communication and Grace: Two keys to building up your marriage in times of stress

The seven year itch.  Having twins.  Having three kids.   Should we add in a cross country move?  Sounds like a lot, doesn't it.  That describes the past year of our lives.  On their own each of these events could cause some marital stress.  We decided to knock them all out in less than a year.  You know what?  I really think our marriage came out stronger as a result.  There are two main things that you need to get through these tough times of transition and life with small children, especially when you are outnumbered by said children- Communication and grace.




Yes, the message is as simple as that.  First, tell each other what you need and how you feel.  Don’t assume your partner knows what you want them to do, and don’t assume you know what your partner is thinking.  It is easier said than done, but do your best.  Unvoiced needs are usually unmet needs.  It would be awesome if we could take care of everything our spouse needed without them having to say a word.  Let me tell you in stressful times is that very unlikely to happen.  So speak up! Setting aside even just ten minutes a day to do a rundown of the days events can help.  And be direct.  Having twins and three kids total taught me to be very specific about what I needed.  There was no point in sitting around and hoping someone would see that I needed help.  This is a point I think moms especially need to hear.  I have found my husband often wants to help out, but doesn’t know what to do.  I didn’t want to order him around, so I just wouldn’t say anything and instead just hoped he would somehow read my mind and know what needed to happen.  I bet you can imagine how that worked out.  You can be direct and clear with your needs while still being kind to your partner.  We both ended up happier when I spoke up.

The second part takes care of the rest, give each other grace.  What does that mean?  It means forgive each other.  Even if you are the wronged party, forgive.  It means no one is at their best at 3 am when you have been pacing with babies for over an hour and you both just want to sleep for a few blessed minutes.  Forgive the curt words.  Give your spouse the benefit of the doubt when something goes wrong.  Chances are they were not trying to hurt you or make your life harder.  Giving grace means using kindness, even when it is hard.  We teach our children that being hurt doesn't give us the right to lash out at someone else.  This applies to us as adults too!  Be kind to your spouse.  Sometimes when your partner is the hardest to deal with they need your love and kindness the most, just like our little ones.  Giving grace means take a moment to understand where your spouse is coming from and to truly look for ways they are helping the marriage.  You might be surprised what you can overlook sometimes.

These things are easy to say, but do take some active effort to do.  The thing I think we sometimes forget is that having a good marriage takes active effort.  How do you stay married in tough, stressful times?  You choose to.  Turn to each other and not against each other.  That means you make a choice every day to be married and work with your partner.  On your wedding day you stood up and took vows out loud.  You told the world I choose this person. So do it.  Choose them every day.  Tell yourself every morning I choose this person and I choose this family. Marriage is a choice, each and every day.  The goal is for it to be easy.  You don’t even think of the decision because it is so automatic.  But when you are in the trenches of life you have to wake up and actively choose to be in your marriage.  It can be hard.  But think of your long term goals.  Think of your children.  Think of that love you had back when you were young and you could live on love alone.  Now think of the alternative- divorce.  Think of holidays split up.  Think of court battles.  Think of financial struggles.  Think of what your children will go through.  Now make a choice.  Which one do you want?  I bet it is marriage.  Now that the decision is made grab the two best tools in your toolbox- communication and grace-and get to work.

-Kim

 Today is a Babywise Friendly Blog Network pinterest day!  Check out all the ladies of the BFBN as they post on all things marriage



Chronicles of a Babywise Mom: How to divide responsibilities in a marriage
The Journey of Parenthood: 5 ways to get out of a marriage valley
Mama's Organized Chaos: What I want my daughter to notice about our marriage
Twinning Babywise:  Date night babysitting sway how to
Wiley Adventures: One quick trick to a happier and health marriage

Monday, February 20, 2017

The hardest part of having twins



One comment I hear a lot that I didn't mention in my previous question post is I always wanted twins!  I usually just smile and nod at this.  I don't want to open up a whole can of worms on someone that it isn't always that great.  I don't want to scare people off if they are expecting twins.  And overall I don't like to focus on the hard parts of life.  I want to be positive.  I mean, what is the point of focusing on the tough stuff?  I love having my girls.  It is a wonderful experience to be right here in the front row to watch two tiny babies who look so alike grow into their own distinct people.  But there are parts that are hard.  Sometimes when I hear I always wanted twins, I really want to tell them No, you don't.  

There are a lot of hard parts to just physically having twins.  Higher pregnancy complications and risks.  Increased chance of preterm birth.  Increased chance of NICU time.  Increased costs (two for the price of one is a big ole lie) of more children than you planned for.

There are increased worries when you have twins.  Am I treating them as too much of a unit instead of individuals?  What if I can't tell them apart?  Is my singleton going to get jealous because he isn't a twin?

There is the increase in just actual care you have to do with two babies.  Changing two diapers, nursing two babies, helping two babies learn to sleep through the night, getting out of the house with two little ones.

These things are all hard, but you get used to it.  You get past the pregnancy and birth.  You plan and budget for two of everything.  You find people with whom to talk about your worries.  You learn the personalities of your little ones and grow more confident you can tell them apart.  You realize your kids, singleton and twins, will never know life as being different and they will be fine.

The hardest thing is that I can't hold both my babies at the same time.  Oh, you can physically hold them at the same time.  When they are little you can scoop them both up to move them around.  Now that they are bigger they can crawl into my lap together.  When I nurse them they are both on the pillow with me.  But you can't hold them the way babies need to be held at the same time.

When you have one baby, you can hold that baby in your arms and focus your entire self on that little creature.  You can feel their heartbeat against yours and know that even if they are crying, you are doing just the right thing for them.  You are holding them and giving them your all.  When you have two babies your attention is always split.  When I am holding both of them I am constantly making sure they are physically supported enough.  I am thinking through what to do if one of them suddenly wiggles or flings herself.  When they were newborns I was making sure I could put them down safely.  Now that they are bigger I am making sure they aren't trying to grab each other's faces or stealing each other's toy.  I'm rarely just in the moment enjoying being together, there are too many other factors to be thinking about.

One of the biggest things babies need in the early months and through the first year of life is to be held.  Studies have shown that babies thrive with hugs.  They are calmed by being held by their mothers.  When they are teething, or tired, or just overwhelmed by all the new around them, their mothers arms keep them feeling safe, reassured, and happy.  I try to give each girl that much needed time.  But when I hold one baby I am still thinking about her sister.  I feel torn, holding and loving one girl but at the same time trying to look at and smile at her sister so she knows I see her too.  When I am trying to soothe one girl through teething pains, there is another who needs her mother too.  When one girl is giggly and wants her mother to love on her and look at her, her sister is there wanting the same thing.  Your attention is constantly divided.  Yes, their father is around to take care of them.  Sometimes we have people staying with us who can help hold one of the girls.  It isn't the same as mother holding her baby.

I know as the girls get bigger this will get easier.  Babies grow into toddlers who just want to run and play.  Then they grow into preschoolers who are working to gain independence.  They still need their mothers hugs, but not as frequently and not as often at the same moment.  As they get older it will be more like every other family with three kids.  But when they are little babies they need your physical body.  There is a magical moment when you pick up your baby and they sigh and just relax into you.  All is right with the world, they are with Mommy.  With twins that moment is shadowed by the reminder that there is another little girl who needs you just as much, and she have to wait.   At an age when it should be all about them, when their needs should come first, twins have to learn to wait for their mother's arms.

I wouldn't change having my girls for anything.  Any twin mom can tell you it is the double blessing most people think it is.  But it isn't easy, and it isn't something I would tell people they should totally try to do.  I may have twice the cuteness, twice the belly laughs, and twice the smiles.  But my girls only have half the full-on undivided attention, half the special one on one time getting loved on by mommy.  They won't ever know the difference.  It's just their life.  But I know the difference.  That is the hardest part of having twins.

-Kim

Friday, February 17, 2017

One year of twin schedules

Here it is! The recap of all the schedules we have used for Ali and Sammy in their first year of life.  This is the bare bones basics, mainly eating and sleeping.  Check out the twin schedules page to get more detail on the specific months.  Sometimes transitioning from schedule to schedule can take place over a few weeks.  With this list it is easy to compare months and figure out where to make adjustments for your little ones.
-Kim



Newborn
No schedule.  Nurse on demand and sleep when they want.  

1 Month
Still no big schedule.  A routine of nursing every 2 to 2.5 hours, sleep when they want.
8 am: Daily wake time (DWT) and nurse
Into bassinet at night: 10pm when I went to bed

2 Months
8am: DWT and nurse
9am: Nap
10:45am: Up and nurse
12pm: Nap
1:15pm: Up and nurse
2:15pm: Nap
4pm: Up and Nurse
6:15pm: Nurse
7:15-9pm: Nap and cluster feed as needed
9pm: Upstairs to nurse and into bed
Middle of the night: Nurse as needed, usually 2-3 times

3 Months
7:45am: DWT and nurse
8:45am: Nap
10:30am: Up and nurse
11:30am: Nap
12:45pm: Up
1:30pm: Nurse
2pm: Nap
4:30pm: Up and nurse
5:30-6pm: Nap off and on in bouncer
6:30pm: Nurse then to bed
9pm: Dream feed
Middle of the night: Nurse once, usually between 4am and 5am
(Around 15 weeks was when we switched from cluster feeds as needed to the dream feed.)

4 Months
7:30am: DWT and nurse
9am: Nap
11am: Up and nurse
11am-1:30pm: Activities and catnap on the go
2pm: Nurse
2:30pm: Nap
4:30pm: Up and nurse
6:45pm: Nurse and bedtime
9:30pm: Dream feed (dropped at 19 weeks)

5 Months
7:30am: DWT and nurse
9am: Nap
11am: Up and nurse
12-1pm: catnap as needed
1:45pm: Nurse
2pm: nap
4:30pm: Up and nurse
6:45pm: Nurse and bedtime

6 Months
7:30am: DWT and nurse
9am: Nap
11am: Up and nurse
1:45pm: Nurse
2pm: Nap
4:30pm: Up and nurse
6:45pm: Nurse and bedtime
Note: Solids sporadic and just for learning and fun.

7 Months
7:30am: DWT and nurse
9am: Nap
11am: Up and nurse
1:45pm: Nurse
2pm: Nap
4:30pm: Up and nurse
6:45pm: Nurse 
7pm: Bedtime
Note: Solids starting with family meal times, but not a big part of their nutrition yet.

8 Months
7:15am: DWT
7:30am: Nurse
8am: Solids breakfast
9am: Nap
11am: Up and nurse
11:45am: Solids lunch
1:45pm: Nurse
2pm: Nap
4:30pm: Up and nurse
5:30pm: Solids dinner
6:45pm: Nurse
7pm: Bedtime

9 Months
7:15am: DWT
7:30am: Nurse
8am: Solids breakfast
9am: Nap
11am: Up and nurse
12pm: Solids lunch
1:45pm: Nurse
2pm: Nap
4:30pm: Up and nurse
5:30pm: Solids dinner
6:45pm: Nurse
7pn: Bedtime

10 Months
7:15am: DWT
7:30am: Nurse
7:50am: Solids breakfast
9am: Nap
11am: Up and nurse
11:45am: Solids lunch
2pm: Nap
4:30pm: Up and nurse
5:30pm: Solids dinner
6:45pm: Nurse
7pm: Bedtime

11 Months
7:15am: DWT
7:30pm: Nurse
7:50am: Solids breakfast
9am: Nap
11am: Up and nurse
11:45am: Solids lunch
1:50pm: Nurse
2pm: Nap
4:15pm: Up
4:30pm: Nurse
5:30pm: Solids dinner
6:45pm: Nurse
7pm: Bedtime

12 Months
7:15am: DWT
7:30am: Nurse
7:45am: Solids breakfast
9am: Nap
11am: Up and nurse
12pm: Solids lunch
1:45pm: Nurse
2pm: Nap
4:15pm: Up
5:30pm: Solids dinner
6:45pm: Nurse
7pm: Bedtime

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

First Birthday Party!

We had a great birthday party for Ali and Sammy's first birthday.  We kept it small.  I mean, Ali and Sammy didn't really know what was going on.  The celebration is for them, but it is also for Pat and me as the parents.  We made it to a year!  Woot!
We did a simple party here at home.  We grilled up hot dogs, had some family over, and of course played hard.  The big kids got to run around outside.  Sammy and Ali got some very nice gifts.  Oh, and there was cake!  Isn't that the best part of every party?  I made the girls smash cakes.  Just a simple banana cake with cream cheese frosting and banana slices.  Like Ben, the girls weren't super into them.  In part because they had just eaten lunch.  I think one downside of doing BLW (and there are very few downsides) is that my babies haven't been in to their smash cake.  They have been feeding themselves for months now, it isn't a new adventure to get to touch the food.  They know how to eat, and know they can not eat if they don't want to.  Basically they taste the cake, think it's too sweet, and stop eating.  Probably for the best, that much sugar can't be good for them.

Getting ready to party!
Ben was rocking his big brother shirt for the occasion.  Happy one year anniversary of being a big brother!
Ali, Aunt Gail, Meo, and Sammy!  Party time!
Benson playing cars under the table, Sammy playing cars under the table.  Good times with cousins.
Hugs!  These two love to play!
Sammy and Ali adore being wherever their big cousin Peyton is.
The play zone- pre total destruction. :P
Presents!  Thank you everyone
Ben helped with some of the unwrapping.  It's a big brother's job.
Loving Uncle Evan and Aunt Jessee!  
These girls were loving all the attention
I didn't go big with decorations.  With our little house and five kids running around there was enough going on.  I couldn't resist decorating Sammy and Ali's chairs for their cakes though!  The girls found the decorations to be pretty interesting themselves.  Almost more interesting then the cakes.
Cake for the birthday girls!  (Ali L, Sam R)
They really just poked around at the cake and ate the bananas.  Much like Ben when he was one.
Ben picked out the cake.  He was so proud of getting his sisters Minnie Mouse!
I love putting up the month pictures from the year and seeing how much my babies have grown!

Thank you to the family that was able to make it to the party!  We loved having you there to celebrate with us.  And we totally know that not everyone can drop everything and travel for a kid's birthday party, so thank you to the far away family who sent lots of love to our girls.  It was a fun little party, and a great way to celebrate our sweet girls.

-Kim


I loved the party dresses I found for the girls.  A drawback to twins is if you find a cute outfit you need to buy two!  Their one pink party dresses were inexpensive and perfect for the party!  (affiliate link)

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Shoot, you forgot Valentine's Day! A 4 step guide to faking it through the day.

Oh no.  It's Valentine's Day.  Somehow it snuck up on you.  If you are in the season of babies and toddlers this is completely possible.  (Heck, any busy season can make it possible!) I know, I know.  The ads were everywhere, the stores had sales, there were all the jewelry commercials.  But you still thought you had more time.  Hey, it happens.  You can still salvage this, Mama.



Here is your game plan:

1)Breakfast:  Don't worry about making a fancy heart shaped quiche or even heart pancakes.  No one has time for that.  Take some cheerios, raisins, or baby puffs and make a heart shape around whatever you normally serve your little one for breakfast.  Use some little nibble to make a heart.  Next, check out your baking supplies.  You don't need much.  Do you have any mini marshmallows?  Any chocolate chips?  Animal crackers?  Any little treat you save for special occasions and is not something you serve frequently?  Pull it out.  Put it next to the heart on the breakfast plate.  If you have a little one it doesn't matter what the treat is, they will just be thrilled to have a special treat at breakfast.  If you want to go the extra mile and have some red food coloring, go ahead and add a drop to the milk.  

Have older kids and, oh yeah, that husband?  Grab the ads from the newspaper.  Cut out a heart.  All you have to do is fold the page in half to make it symmetrical.  Use the heart as a placemat.  Bonus- it will be easy to clean up.  You know what, give them a little treat too.  Everyone likes to start the day with an unexpected surprise.

2)Daytime:  Do you stay home with your kids?  It's time for arts and crafts!  Grab anything you have and make Valentine's for the whole family.  Bonus- you can quick make your husband one now too.  Add a list of three reasons you love him and you are good to go.  

At work?  Kids at school?  Or busy for other reasons?  Send an ecard to your older kids.  Fold a piece of paper in half, google Valentine's Day puns, and make a basic card for the little kids.  They will love it because it came from you.  Want to do something fun for your husband?  Send him an evite for some one on one time with you.  Be as risque as you two like.  Bonus to this one- you can plan it for a future day and take some pressure off that night.  (Especially helpful when Valentine's Day is on a weeknight.)

3)Dinner:  You might feel the pressure to have come up with an awesome themed out dinner.  Don't.  Lots of pizza places offer heart shaped pizzas on Valentine's Day.  Kids love pizza, so they will be happy.  You are happy because you don't have to cook.  Take that time normally spent cooking and cut out some more heart shaped placemats from construction paper or newspaper.  Grab a notepad and write out something you love about each member of your family on separate pages to put by their plates.  Want to get the family more involved?  Have them add to each others' lists.  Anything at all you love about each other.  Read them out loud over dinner.

No need for a fancy dessert after dinner.  For little ones a repeat of the breakfast treat will suffice.  Have chocolate syrup?  Make some chocolate milk.  Want to put in some extra effort?  Run out and grab ice cream for everyone.  (Give yourself a Valentine by offering to pick it up and getting some alone time in the car.) 

4)After the kids are in bed:  Almost done, just one last person to romance.  Pull out an old picture of you and your partner, preferably one from before you had kids.  Talk about your dating days, reminisce about your wedding, or discuss your dream vacation plans for some day in the future.  The exact topic isn't important, just talk about the two of you as a couple.  Life is busy.  The key is just connecting with that person you are sharing this crazy life with.


You did it, you made it through Valentine's Day!  No, it was not pinterest perfect.  That's okay.  Did you tell everyone in your family you loved them today?  Did you try to connect with your partner for a few minutes?  Then you did a great job.  Now go leave yourself a note to buy chocolate on sale tomorrow.  That's too important to forget.

-Kim

Monday, February 13, 2017

"Well put one back!" Our twin story.

"We have two."
"Well put one back!"
"It, it doesn't work that way..."

Sadly, these are some of the first words I spoke when I found out we were having twins.  If my daughters ever read this- I'm sorry.  You were loved and wanted, but you were not expected.  Let me back up and start a little sooner than that doctor's appointment.



In the spring of 2015, Pat and I got to thinking it was time to think about having a second child.  We adored Ben, and knew that we wanted him to have a sibling.   Ben was an easy baby and a delightful young toddler, so we were eager to have another baby.  We had decided to wait a little longer to make sure we were in a good spot financially to have a second baby.  Eventually though, we got tired of waiting.  When is it ever the perfect time to have a baby?  We weren't getting any younger, and we did want our kids relatively close in age.  Totally tmi, but we decided to just go with don't try/don't prevent and see what happened.

Since we weren't trying per se, I wasn't really expecting to be on the lookout for pregnancy signs.  Plus with work, tutoring, and running around after a toddler I wasn't thinking too hard about it  Because of all this I really didn't think I was pregnant.  Then I had the moment when I thought hmmmm....

Well sure enough, we were expecting.  We were very excited.  I wanted to tell our parents pretty early.  When were expecting Ben we were actually still living with my parents, and were traveling to see Pat's parents for the holidays.  We didn't know if morning sickness or any other symptoms would hit, so we decided to tell my parents pretty early.  Our first doctor's appointment was scheduled for a week after we got back from visiting Pat's family.  We couldn't imagine calling them a week after we had seen them in person to tell them big news we kept from them the whole time.  That just seemed rude.  We ended up telling our parents and siblings at just five weeks.  It made Pat more nervous than me, but as I said it made sense to do it that way.  This time around Pat thought we should wait, and I am very glad we followed his hunch.

I scheduled my first doctors appointment, excited that Pat could be there for it.  I didn't know what to expect with the first pregnancy, and thought they would just do a blood test, take a history, and send me on my way.  I didn't know they could hear the heart beat and see the flicker that early.  Pat was sick for the first appointment with Ben and I told him to stay home.  We were both a little disappointed he missed the excitement of seeing the flicker of the heart beat.  This time I made sure he could be at the appointment.  We decided to bring Ben with us too.  Ben wasn't talking much then.  I wasn't worried he would spill the beans.  I thought it would help him understand a new baby was coming if he was there every step of the way.

We were pretty relaxed about the appointment.  I mean, we had done this once before.  I didn't have any problems with the last pregnancy.  In fact I am one of those annoying women who feels pretty good during pregnancy.  I adore it and we were so happy to be having another kid.  Ben had been a delight as a baby, and we were still completely enamored with him.  Having another kid was going to be amazing.  We even joked with the nurses that we wanted another baby just like Ben, just a newer model year.  Pat had said, "We don't care the gender, as long as there is just one in there."  You see when your sister in law has twins, you make jokes like this.  Pat also has twin cousins.  We had seen people have twins and knew it could be tough.  But really, we weren't going to have twins ourselves.  I mean, the twins in Pat's family were all fraternal.  This means in order for it to be hereditary it would have to pass along the maternal line.  Obviously I don't share a genetic line with Pat's sisters or cousins.  I couldn't think of any twins in my family to give us reason to think we were having them.  And come on, Pat's sister had twins!  What are the odds another set would come into the same family?

Alright, we were all relaxed, having fun and congratulating Ben on becoming a big brother.  The doctor came in and I laid back on the table to do the initial ultrasound.  The image had just popped up on the screen when the doctor said,  "We have two in there."  My mouth dropped open and I replied, "Well put one back!"  My doctor looked surprised, "It, it doesn't work that way..."

The mood in the room had quickly shifted to one of disbelief.  Honestly it kind of blurs for a bit here.  Pat and I asked the doctor to explain again what she just said.  My doctor pointed out the two different flickers, and then let us hear two different heartbeats.  I couldn't stop staring at that screen.  There were definitely two little blobs in there.  They were very close to each other, but they were there.  Twins.

Looking back there were a few signs that maybe we should have expected something different.  I did test positive early, which makes sense because twins means more hCG.  My stomach also started sticking out what felt like right away.  I know at the beginning that is mainly bloat.  But still, I remember distinctly thinking that they weren't kidding when they say you start showing sooner with the second kid.  I feel a little better knowing I had two babies in there.  ;)  Of course hindsight is always 20/20, so I didn't even consider that we were having twins.  But we were.

We had a bunch of questions to start out with.  My first, after of course asking if the doctor was sure, was what kind they were.  I try to remember this when people ask me questions about what kind of twins I have now.  I mean, I knew the main differences between fraternal and identical but I didn't know you can't always tell right away.  There is a lot you learn when you are the ones actually having twins.  My doctor told us probably fraternal actually, as those are the most common.  There are some factors that can up your chances of having fraternal twins.  I was over thirty, but not yet old enough for that to really be an issue.  And as I said we didn't have fraternal twins in my maternal line.  Later we would find out that they are identical.  This means we were part of the lucky 3 out of 1000 to have their little zygote split into two babies.

We left that appointment shocked to say the least.  I was in such a daze by it all I forgot to stop and get my blood work done before I left.  My doctor told us at that early stage you really just treat it as a singleton pregnancy.  That was good, I knew what to do with that, and it would give me time to process what was happening.  The whole thing didn't feel real.  It was like someone was going to jump out and say, "Just kidding!"  My doctor did come up to me as I was making my next appointment, and I almost wondered if she was going to tell me she made a mistake.  Nope, it was to let the receptionist know I needed the twin sheet to start setting appointments.  It just became that much more real.

I had to leave to go back to the office after this appointment.  The office where I worked with Meo and Omi.  All I could think was don't google yet, don't google yet, don't say a word yet.  There was plenty of time to google later.  And I wasn't ready to share the news with anyone yet.  I thought I was keeping it nonchalant, but apparently I wasn't.  Meo and Omi were pretty certain Pat and I had a huge fight or something.  This was not the case, and they found out the reason for my strange behavior soon enough.

Having a baby is amazing.  When you really sit and think about all that goes in to creating a whole new life, you can't help but be in awe of it.  We have the extra special gift of getting to see two new lives created.  Somewhere between days four and seven, my little one decided she had two much awesome to be one person, and split into two to become my Ali and Sammy.  I can't imagine life without my two sweet girls.  We are so blessed to be their parents.

-Kim

Check out another twin story from Cole at Twinning Babywise!  You can also read her twin birth story and Ali and Sammy's birth story