Fostering toddler independence, DIY-style

Edited: This post contains affiliate links, which means if you make a purchase using these links, I will receive a percentage of the profits. 

There are some areas in which I feel very confident in letting my twins just do their thing and figuring life out on their own. There are also some areas (ahem, meal time) when I’m slightly obsessed with making sure they take small bites and chew their food 1,000 times before swallowing. I’m working on that.

I can say, though, that I foster independence at home much more successfully when I set up certain areas of my house to be ready for whatever my twins want to do. Then the decision to let them be independent is out of my hands, because my home is already set up for this exact thing. In the past few months, I’ve made a few changes in my house that have really helped the twins make choices and be successful on their own.

First of all, Pinterest is my BFF. I know it’s so stereotypical. My husband likes to tell me that Pinterest is where your wife spends hours on the computer, only to end up serving the dinner salad in a mason jar and calling it a day. It’s kind of true. But I lack creativity. I’m great at following directions. I only save pins that I feel I can and will accomplish. So therefore, all the ideas I’m about to share came from my Pinterest searches.

DIY Toddler Art Station and Art Cart

With our nanny at our house every day, all day, I wanted the twins at age 2 to be able to do arts and crafts on their own. The kids have structured play during the day but also free play. I wanted art supplies to be at the ready for whenever we’re busy and they need to entertain themselves. As is my nature, I also wanted our art station to be as cheap as possible. So I consulted my BFF, Pinterest. Pinterest led me here, and this is what I based our art station and cart off of.

DIY Toddler Art Station

I used a piece of wood I found in our basement and Target’s $1 tin buckets we already had from the twins’ first birthday party. I already had the art supplies as well, though I continue to buy more on sale and switch them out. At the moment, the sticker bucket actually says, “stamps”. I bought the hooks at Target and my husband kindly drilled them in.

DIY Toddler Art Station

We have a small table that the twins eat breakfast and lunch at, and due to lack of space in our tiny cape, I decided that table would also serve as their art area. I found an old TV cart in my basement and I already had the plastic craft trays (affiliate link) from when we started doing Tot Trays. After a little modeling, I taught the twins that when they wanted to color (or use playdoh, stickers, etc.), they needed to grab a tray first, then a piece of paper and carry them to their table. Then they could grab the bucket of supplies they wanted and bring it to their trays.

DIY Toddler Art Station

They love it. These pictures are from the summer but the art station is used daily. At this point, they now know what color tray the other twin prefers and I frequently hear C saying, “Here’s your tray, B!” On the weekends after breakfast, she typically announces, “Let’s do playdoh now!” and runs to gather her materials. It’s been wonderful to allow them to partake in arts and crafts on their own without me needing to run around gathering supplies.

DIY Toddler Picture Schedule

Over the summer, B was struggling with transitions. He was so upset in between everything that happened – from dinner to bathtime, from getting up in the morning to breakfast. It was one meltdown after another. I hated that I was the misdirected cause of his anger. It was me saying, “It’s time to do _____” that got him so upset. Our schedules are pretty solid throughout the week. I wanted him to know what was coming next and even if he got angry, it wouldn’t be at me. So I Pinterested it, obviously. I found many examples but liked this one the best. I used mycutegraphics.com, made my own cards on Microsoft Word and printed them out. Around the same time, I paid $33 for this laminator as well as these laminating pouches (affiliate links). I knew it would get a ton of use over the years. I laminated the cards onto cardstock and slapped some velcro to the backs. I used a foam board (from Walmart – $2 or $3) and now the cards are interchangeable.

DIY Toddler Picture Schedule

I put it at the twins’ height in our hallway. They know to check the board when they aren’t sure what’s coming next but typically, most things stay the same every day.

DIY Toddler Picture Schedule

I have to say, this was helpful for fostering independence. More importantly, it cut down on B’s meltdowns. The bath card is always after the dinner card. He can’t be angry at me for my sudden bathtime announcement – he knew since he woke up in the morning that bath would follow dinner. Our nanny adjusts it as she sees fit. Right now, this is really working for us.

DIY Learning Tower

This one deserves its own post and is months in the making. Almost a year ago, my husband started making the twins’ learning towers. Learning towers are a Montessori staple, but we found it on (….Pinterest…) because we wanted the twins to be able to simply see out the window. We had a lot of scrap wood and my husband said, “I can make that”. And he did. And it took a while, and wasn’t exactly dirt cheap. That said, it was way cheaper to make one than buy one, and I love how I was able to “personalize” them with the twins’ colors, blue and purple. When they were first made (and not even painted yet), the twins were 18 months old. They’re now almost 27 months old, but these towers have already gotten a good amount of kitchen use.

DIY Learning Tower

This was one of the first times we used them. B helped Daddy make afternoon smoothies. He absolutely LOVED being at counter height.

DIY Learning Tower

C loved it too, and though we planned on them helping us cook in the kitchen, I found I could just hand either of them a pot and a spoon and they enjoyed pretending, stirring…

DIY Learning Tower

…and sampling dinner.

DIY Learning Tower

Someday I’ll do a post with the step by step, because my husband did take pictures along the way. I love their quality, and someday perhaps we will sell them. I don’t like how heavy they are. In a big house, they might have a permanent home against a counter but in our house, we have to move them to the mudroom when we aren’t using them.

In case you’re not up to sawing pieces out of wood and would rather invest in a learning tower, you can find a few great ones HERE and HERE! (affiliates!)

So these were a few changes we made that have really encouraged and fostered independence from our toddlers. I am always looking for new ideas, because I truly believe in the concept of independence. The more they can do on their own, the better! Selfishly, I also love that there’s less for me to do – more of it’s on them, saving me time and energy. I did pin many more ideas but haven’t yet tried them – you can find all of them on my Pinterest page!

Yup, our food problems are solved.

 

Recently, we saved our receipts for a whole month (which I recommend doing, by the way) – and we realized we were spending a TON on groceries. Like, to the tune of $800-900. There are two adults and two toddlers in this house. We expected to pay half that a month, so what went wrong?

This post contains affiliate links, which means if you make a purchase using these links, I will receive a percentage of the profits. 

How we climbed out of a food rut and saved money on groceries!

1) Long summer days meant trips to Target and Costco. Costco boasts the double seated cart, which is perfect for my two year olds. Target boasts  – well, everything. You go in for one thing and leave with 20. We went to both of these places too often.

2) Mid-week shopping runs. Making a grocery list every week was taking me a long time. I mean, it would take at least an hour to construct a good list. We ended up getting into the habit of just getting what we could think of quickly, and stopping mid-week once or even twice to pick up more things. Those trips inadvertently cost us, as we would buy even more food while at the store that wouldn’t have made it onto a list in the first place.

A while ago, I stumbled across this post, which got me thinking about how we could cut our grocery bill WAY down. We were already operating with a list, and other than the stores mentioned above, I tended not to shop with my kids in tow. So what else could we do?

Then I found this post. The idea is simple, yet genius. Simply type up what you typically buy on a weekly or monthly basis and print out a bunch of copies. When it comes time to make your grocery list, most of what you need is likely already written down and you may only need to add a few things. No more wasting a Saturday morning writing out a grocery that’s 10 miles long! I decided to try it.

Our Weekly/Monthly Shopping List

That link will take you to my personal list. It’s on google drive, so you’re welcome to print it, edit, copy, share – whatever. It’s what my family might typically eat during the week (from the grocery store) and the items we typically get at Costco and Target once a month.

Now, I’m not scrambling around the kitchen wasting time writing down apples, pears, and bananas when I get those every. single. week. They’re already on my list! I’m just highlighting what I want to buy and adding any extras in. So far, this is saving us some serious money. Example: Our typical grocery bill is between $120-150, and the most recent one since creating this list was $66. Phew.

YES, MY TODDLERS EAT A LOT NOW.

On to the next topic. Yes, C is eating ice cream in the picture. I looked in the archives and struggled to find pictures of her eating anything BESIDES ice cream. She believes it’s a food group. But that just won’t do, you know, health-wise. I’ve written before about how my toddlers got stuck in a food rut. I got stuck in a creativity rut. We were rotating between 3-4 meals for dinner and lunch, and it was frustrating. I wanted my kids to like more foods. We’ve been in this position for a long, long time. But finally, we’re climbing out of it. I’ve got fabulous, SIMPLE recipes, and the twins are eating them up! So what did I do?

First of all, I suck at cooking. Let it be known. Some people love experimenting in the kitchen with various ingredients to create delicious toddler meals. That is not me – I hate everything about cooking.

In addition, I’m lucky that my twins do like a lot of different foods. They like every vegetable and fruit that I throw at them. They love pasta, bread, sweet potatoes and rice. They also love dairy, but B gets constipated very easily, so unfortunately I keep those to a minimum. What they don’t love is meat, and so protein is a little challenging, especially with the lack of dairy.

Here’s how we climbed out of our food rut and found some simple recipes the toddlers love:

1) I found this website. It’s amazing. I learned that I can make my twins’ lunches with separate, simple ingredients – prepared in different ways. Have you ever thought to serve raw carrots using a peeler? Because I haven’t. But I haven’t wanted to give them big chunks of carrots because I’m paranoid about choking. There are tons of simple lunches and dinners, as well as easy recipes to follow. OH, and it’s all allergy-friendly!! I like to keep the kids’ sugar intake pretty low, as I’ve gone sugar free and it’s changed my health. More on that in the future. Anyway, here’s one example, and here’s another one. Healthy muffins for lunch? Absolutely!

2) I found this website, too. Super Healthy Kids flat out blows my mind. I could spend hours on this site, and in fact I did the night I found it and the other, Yummy Toddler Food. Here, there are tons of EASY recipes that don’t take much effort but expose your kid to foods they might not eat (like veggies or protein). Here’s one example and another. Here’s a recipe I’m making this week, as I attempt to get my protein-haters to like beans. And here’s a fabulous chart about toddler constipation, which I suppose is kind of an awkward water-cooler conversation yet is also quite common and problematic.

These websites not only gave me a ton of ideas I had never considered before, but also some simple tips. Here’s one for the sandwich haters (my toddlers only ate one type of sandwich, until recently.) Cookie cutters! In all shapes and sizes! You can get the exact set I bought HERE. I’m telling you, B will eat a sandwich with anything in it if it looks like a truck. So here’s what I did (besides buying cookie cutters).

I made another list. This list hangs on my fridge. It lists all the single ingredients that I could use to throw a lunch or dinner together for the twins. I was only rotating between four veggies every day – how boring! Now they’re munching on fresh snap peas, cherry tomatoes and zucchini sticks covered in parm cheese. But to keep myself from forgetting all that I learned, I had to write it down.

Single Ingredients for Toddler Meals

Here it is! Again, use it, share, copy, edit, print, etc. So far I have found this incredibly helpful when I’m trying to throw together a lunch. It’s obviously tailored to what my kids like and eat, but we were stuck in a rut, and now we’re not. I take a quick glance and think, “Okay, how about edamame, sweet potato, and bread with melted cheddar cheese?” The possibilities are endless here – there are so many combinations to choose from. I also added to the bottom of the document recipes that I am cooking for the kids, hoping to add some regulars to our ever growing list of meals the twins eat. I’m excited to make the honey-cinnamon chickpeas this week for a new protein option!

The fact is, I’m back at work in two weeks. The twins need to eat a larger variety of food so my nanny doesn’t have to struggle with them at mealtime. As a family, we need to cut our grocery bill WAY down because we’re trying to save money and up until this point have been failing miserably. Now, we’re on to something and it feels so good!

Coming soon: My review of the 21-Day Fix, going sugar-free, thinking about preschools and how we made our house nanny-ready!

Check out my Facebook Page for more ways to make life with toddlers cheap and simple! Crafts, recipes, DIY hacks – you name it, it’s there!

Throwing a Rainbow-Themed Party

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The twins turned two last week, and this past weekend we had a small gathering to celebrate their toddlerhood. As we’ve only had two parties since their birth, I have to say – party planning on a theme is a lot of fun. I really enjoy scouring the internet looking for ideas, and once I’ve made a decision, working on all the little details to make that theme come to life. Last year for their first birthday, I threw an old-fashioned ice cream party. It was all based on ice cream, of course, and their baby colors, purple and blue. Apparently the whole color idea stuck with me, because I loved the use of so many different colors in the rainbow party. I very much understand that the years of Mommy deciding what a birthday party is going to look like are numbered and when the day comes where the twins tell me what theme they want…well, I guess I’ll be going with it. For now, I utilized a few key aspects of the party to bring the rainbow theme to life.

I kept decorations pretty simple, but I made sure to have the mason jar centerpieces. I used mason jars from last year’s party, bought fake white daisies and cut them down to size. Then, I added food coloring to the water and got the rainbow look I was going for. The picture doesn’t show it well, but there was a nice purple jar on the end! I got this idea for the centerpiece here.

DSC_0075I have to give a shout-out to the best food coloring I’ve ever used in my life. As a non-cook, all I have ever known is the liquid drops that come in four colors. And it’s never very bright unless you use half the bottle. I have now made good friends with this food coloring, which comes in so many colors and one drop alone gives you the brightest hues. I’m addicted to food coloring now, I think. What else can I dye??

We had a few other small children attend the party, and for their favors I kept it very simple with windmills (in rainbow colors), and stuck them in candy jars of skittles and M+M’s.

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During the party, my original plan was to put rainbow-colored sensory bins all over the yard. Kids could move around to various stations as they pleased. However, it was insanely hot that day and we stayed indoors, so I only made one sensory bin, rainbow rice. Dyeing rice is very simple and I did it (no joke) one hour before the party. Here’s how I did it.

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And I’m so glad I threw it together, because it ended up being a hit with all the kids! Everyone had a blast poking and stirring and pouring the rice.

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Finally – I put a lot of thought into the food for the party. Desserts = my world, so our afternoon gathering was dessert only. (I’m no longer eating sugar or gluten, so I didn’t touch a crumb…but that’s a post for another day!) I could’ve gone on and on with the rainbow-themed desserts, but stuck to only a few. First of all – the cupcakes.

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I got the recipe here, but let me just say – it’s a boxed mix of white cake. That’s it. With my handy new food coloring, I was able to make really vibrant colors. And even though I personally didn’t eat them, it was strangely satisfying to watch someone else eat one and see the middle looking like this:

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Doesn’t that look so satisfying?? Hopefully it tasted as good as it looked. We also had simple rainbow cookies, which I found here. In a nutshell, though, they’re oreos covered in chocolate. Dyed chocolate. That’s it! We made them the night before the party!

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We had a few more desserts as well, and our marshmallows were simply dipped in water and rolled in rainbow sprinkles.

DSC_0083All in all, I enjoyed how it looked and the twins had a good time. I suppose that’s the most important part! B ate his cupcake just fine (surprising me!) and checked out his balloons at the table.

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C ate her frosting off the cupcake and then that was it (more surprising!) but had a great time running and playing with her brother and friends.

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All in all, it was a success. Happy Birthday, twins! I’ll start working on next year’s theme – three year olds don’t have any strong opinions, right?

How We Survived a Road Trip with Toddlers

Thank you all for your super supportive comments on my last post, regarding B’s speech pathologist. Her style doesn’t match mine, and it definitely doesn’t seem to match B’s. And perhaps shopping around for a new speech pathologist is in my future. For now, we only see her once a month and I’ve just decided – I feel like his speech is taking off. This past weekend alone was wonderful. He is continuously speaking in 4 word sentences, even if they are broken. Just at dinner tonight, he said “C…eat…Daddy’s…potatoes. B…eat…Mommy’s…potatoes”, as the kids sampled our dinner. I mean – it’s slow and deliberate, but the speech is there. I’m feeling better about it now.

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As the title suggests, this past weekend we took a road trip; a mini vacation. It’s about a 6 hour drive normally (no traffic), and with one hour long stop, you’re looking at a long day in the car. Last summer, we took the same trip. I find car rides to be challenging with both babies and toddlers. With babies, you don’t know how to keep them entertained, and they cry and can’t tell you what’s wrong. Last year, they fell asleep too soon on the way home and then screamed the rest of the ride after a short nap, when it should’ve been bedtime. With toddlers though, every time we’re in the car, someone drops a toy. Someone wants what the other has. Someone is hungry. Someone is bored. And that’s a hassle too. So for this trip, I wanted travel to go as smoothly as possible. I scoured the internet for some tips, implemented them, and they WORKED. So I’m passing them on to you!

1) The first and BEST tip I can possibly share is this simple one: Stop at a playground. It bears repeating, because it’s so worthwhile – stop at a playground. Instead of a typical rest stop, with a million people inside the building waiting in long lines for food, with antsy toddlers who are overwhelmed by noise and hunger – stop at a playground. Where? Ahead of time, plan out approximately when you’ll need a lunch (or stretch) break. We knew we wanted to stop around noon. We charted the course and figured out where we should be with no traffic, and then googled playgrounds in that town. We found the best playground, a beach spot. Sounded perfect.

Except we hit traffic because it was the Fourth of July weekend. Lots of traffic. As we sat in it, we needed a Plan B. So we quickly looked up playgrounds in our area, in a state we weren’t familiar with. We found one. And it was this beauty of a playground. It even had a splash pad, tennis courts – I mean, if we knew we were stopping here we would’ve stayed all day. Right when the twins were hungry and fussy, we got off the highway and stopped here for lunch. I had already packed them their easy-to-eat lunch, couscous chicken sticks, carrots and peas, and apple sticks. They sat on a bench and leisurely ate lunch. Then, we let them run around on the playground. They went on swings (big kid swings until they both fell off lol), down slides, and we changed diapers on a bench. The weather was perfect. When we climbed back in the car after an hour, they passed out, right in time for their nap. They got their stretch break and we got a nice surprise, a mini day trip all in itself. This rest stop was key for our journey.

2) The second best thing we did to survive this car ride was to put all the home movies I have taken of them since birth (um, 208 and counting…) and burn them together, like for a DVD, and then put them on the ipad. In fact, the ipad couldn’t even hold all the videos I have taken, so it was only about half. And even that was a full length movie – 90 minutes. This movie they watched of themselves for 90 minutes was totally worth the time it took to get them on the ipad. They loved watching themselves as babies, hearing our dogs bark in the background, watching Daddy be silly. For a long car ride – burn home movies.

3) I spent a day looking up how to best show said ipad movie – and there are some great cases you can buy that hook up to seats. Most are for forward facing car seats though, and mine are still rear facing. Plus, with shipping times, we wouldn’t have received any case in time. So my husband was kind enough to take some scrap wood we had and spend a few hours one night to make a mini table. It fits right between the car seats, and even after the road trip, I won’t take it out. It’s perfect for books and toys, and the twins can grab them as they want them. To show the movie, he put up two pieces of foam padding on the sides to make sure the ipad wouldn’t slide off. After they woke up from their car nap, we propped up the ipad and put on the movie. Twice. (More traffic.) Here’s what this looked like:

IMG_24174) The last tip I would give to survive a road trip with toddlers is to provide random activities in little ziplock baggies (the ones with the zippers they can open themselves) and as the kids get fussy, give them something new one by one. And not just normal standard toys – think outside the box. Here are a few of the travel busy bags they had:

-Slinkies

-Q-tips into water bottles

-Crayons and Sticky Notes

-Magnetic letters and small cookie sheets (.88 at Walmart!)

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We had a few others as well, but these plus the ipad movie and the playground stop were enough! The others are saved for the next trip!

We arrived at our lake destination for a relaxing, calm, easy weekend. The twins slept until 8:15 every day (mind-blowing), took good naps, and even ate a bunch of new foods, including bacon, corn on the cob, french toast, and baked beans, otherwise known as “brown peas”. We went on many nature walks and watched the passing boats. We had a great time!

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I cleaned my basement at midnight.

How I organized toddler supplies for less than $10

This was a few nights ago now. And I didn’t clean my whole unfinished basement. Just the part I felt I could control enough to do something about – our toddler supplies.

During the week, I have no spare time. When I say none, I mean I get a half hour prep period during school (today’s was spent on the phone with parents) and a half hour lunch. I leave right after school and relieve the nanny, taking over with the twins until my husband gets home at 5:30. It’s dinner, bath, pjs and bed. Then the chores at 8:00. Anyway. I’m usually done for the day and on my own around 9:00/9:30. That’s when my party gets started and a few nights ago, I celebrated with a Friday night trip to Walmart. I needed a bunch of things, but in addition I left with two storage bins for less than $10. And even at 11:00 pm, I felt motivated. See, my basement was looking like this:

How I organized toddler supplies for less than $10

Just crap everywhere. Holiday decoration bins overflowing and baby gear still hanging around. Here, specifically, was the targeted problem:

How I organized toddler supplies for less than $10

I’m constantly making things and re-purposing containers and purchasing cheap things for sensory bins, crafts and activities. And it all keeps making its way into my basement to be thrown into the pile. While I’m no Pinterest organizer (and I wish I was), this was too much for even my standards. With the two bins from Walmart I suddenly felt like I could manage this and might as well while the motivation was there. I gave myself the goal of being done by midnight and got started.

First, I dumped everything out and surveyed my storage container situation. I had a few bins already plus the two more, so I started to sort. Here’s how I organized 5 bins and a boppy bag.

Bin #1:

How I organized toddler supplies for less than $10

Sensory bin bases. As of now, we pretty much rotate between beans and rice, but I will soon be incorporating epsom salt, pasta, oats, etc. All of these dried bases can be saved and reused (and I wouldn’t have it any other way) but I wasn’t storing them well. They go in gallon bags now, and from there, into this bin. I also have the cheap $4 tablecloths to put underneath the sensory bins.

Bin #2:

How I organized toddler supplies for less than $10

Art supplies. My hot glue gun, pipe cleaners, sharpies, googly eyes, craft sticks, paint, pony beads…etc. You get the idea. There are certain crafts I’ve done where I need these things constantly, so it would be so much easier to just bring up the whole bin!

Bin #3:

How I organized toddler supplies for less than $10Paper, fabric, and felt. This bin’s contents were presenting me with difficulty before I organized it. I have felt coming out my ears right now and so much leftover fabric from my buckle pillows and fabric letters. We use contact paper regularly and the freezer paper is my trick for felt, which I’ll be blogging about soon. I’ve got one side fabric and one side felt, so it now feels much more manageable!

Bin #4:

How I organized toddler supplies for less than $10

The bottom of my storage bin pile – all the extra crap with no home. Specifically, these items tend to be great for sensory play (squeeze and spray bottles, tools) or crafts (egg carton, aprons). I also threw in a few other things I’ve picked up for $1 to save for the future, such as the watering cans and the bug catcher nets.

Bin #5:

How I organized toddler supplies for less than $10This bin sits off to the side, as I don’t use it much but the contents are there for me if necessary! I have a few extra sensory bins and base supplies, such as cotton balls, rice, etc. It’s just nice to have these things off the floor.

How I organized toddler supplies for less than $10

Boppy bag – it zips! We haven’t used a boppy in memory but the bag rocks. In it I have all the objects we’ve put into our sensory bins so far. They are in individual bags as well, so it doubles as a toy bag. I’ve got seasonal objects in there as well as animals, dinosaurs, cars, etc.

When we want to do a sensory bin I’ll know just where to grab the bin, the base ingredient I’m looking for and the objects to go with the base! For example, I might grab black beans and the bugs/snakes bag. Or a green water bin with the plastic dinos. Quick and painless, and everything now has a home.

How I organized toddler supplies for less than $10

Ta-da!! And of course I’ve labeled the bins, because no organization is complete without labels! This was very much on my to-do list and I’m so glad it’s done. And the best part is – I finished at midnight(ish) and only spent $10!

There are some amazing ideas out there for storage of toddler supplies and while this is not my dream way to store things, it works for now. I’ll be keeping an eye out for storage bin sales!

Easy & Cheap Homemade Baby Wipes

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I know this isn’t exactly about toddler crafts and activities, but as I got ready to make a new batch of wipes this past weekend, I thought I’d take a minute to share with you what I do. DIY (with the goal of saving money) is kind of my thing, and making these wipes has been a really good decision for our family.

I started making baby wipes a year ago, when the twins had a lot of diaper rash and the store-brand wipes we bought didn’t seem to be helping. In fact, they were extremely drying on the babies’ skin. I was tempted to run a damp wet cloth over them after using the wipes. In addition to that, with twins, there were so many diaper changes in a day and we were going through wipes like crazy. Then, I found this post from Amber at Four to Adore. She ranted and raved about making her own diaper wipes and I decided to give it a try.

One year later and it was a wonderful, cost-effective move for us. They aren’t reusable wipes obviously (and I do cross the line there…), but one half roll lasts us 3-4 weeks. Not only that, but the diaper rash has greatly improved and these wipes aren’t drying on baby bottoms. Making wipes takes me about five minutes, so it’s easy to do.

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The recipe calls for:

2 cups water

1 tbsp. coconut oil (liquified)

1 tbsp. baby wash (whatever you use is fine)

2-3 drops tea tree oil

Now, with regard to coconut oil – it’s like a super food, honestly. It has more purposes than you could even think of, including for cooking, as chapstick, diaper rash cream, moisturizer…you name it. And we use it for all of those things. With cloth diapers, I can’t use Desitin or other creams, so I slather on coconut oil at most diaper changings to keep irritation at bay. I bought my coconut oil at the grocery store.

As for tea tree oil – I bought in on Amazon. It’s not cheap, but you only use 2-3 drops, once a month or so. That bottle will last us YEARS. It’s strong stuff, too. It’s the same oil that’s found in Melaluca natural cleaning products – and it keeps the wipes from accumulating mold. It basically replaces the bleaching chemicals found in store wipes.

When I get ready to make wipes, I first cut a paper towel roll in half.

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These paper towels are Costco-brand so we save some money there. They are also select-a-size which is perfect, as I don’t need giant wipes. The select-a-size closely resembles the size of store wipes. Cutting it in half leaves me the other half for the next time I make wipes, so I only cut the rolls every other time.

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The container is from the dollar store. As you can see, I’ve written down the recipe on the lid so I don’t have to keep looking it up every time. If you notice, I added a little more water to this batch of wipes (2 cups). Either amount is fine – I just found that I liked the wipes to be a little more moist.

After mixing all the ingredients in the bottom of the empty container, I then push the roll cut side down into the container and let it sit. My part is basically done!

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After anywhere between 20 minutes to a few hours (as the mixture soaks through the roll slowly), I pull up on the brown roll until it’s loose enough to come out. Sometimes I’ll forget and do other things and many hours later it’s soaked and ready to go. This time I was impatient and dragged it out sooner. The key is to mix the liquids in the container before putting in the paper towels, rather than putting the paper towels in first and then pouring the mixture on top of it. Once the roll part is pulled out, you’re good to go. I pull out the end piece that’s in the middle and voila. Wipes.

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This batch, as I said, lasts quite a while and never loses its moisture or gets moldy. It smells fresh from the tea tree oil and really, I’m a huge fan. That said, there are a couple things to keep in mind.

They are paper towels, and therefore they are flimsy. Costco brand does NOT rip, shred, etc. which is amazing. Not tearing whatsoever. However, they’re thin like any paper towel would be. It doesn’t bother me at all, but I suppose it takes a little getting used to.

The other thing is that for me, I tried taking out a bunch and putting them in a reusable container in my diaper bag for when we’re out of the house, and I found the wipes would dry out pretty quickly. Because of that, I do keep a small package of store wipes for when we’re visiting relatives or out at the store. I prefer these wipes, of course, but it was worth the occasional purchase of store wipes.

That’s it! I would absolutely recommend making baby wipes to anyone – even for kids. There’s nothing in it that makes it a “diaper wipe” – it would be safe for cleaning faces and hands too!

If you enjoyed this post, please also check out my DIY buckle pillow toy for toddlers, my DIY zipper board tutorial, and my DIY playdough without cream of tartar posts.

I’m learning new tricks.

Every day is a new adventure for a first time parent. I so often find myself discovering something and thinking aloud, “Well, next time I’ll remember not to do that…” There are constant lessons to be learned. Some of these things I learn are fun, others just practical. I got some of both this week.

For fun, I am playing around with my other hobby (besides blogging), photography, and I have just learned what “catchlight” is. Those who take pictures probably already knew this. I knew what it meant, but didn’t know it had a name. “Catchlight” – when the subject you are taking pictures of “catches” the light in his/her eyes, making them sparkle and look REALLY good. When I take pictures, I’m obsessed with eyes. If a picture is going to be a close-up, it’s really all about the eyes anyway, isn’t it? I don’t know if or when my twins’ eye colors will change, but considering my husband and I both have brown eyes, it’s a good possibility that it’ll happen. So for now, I want to capture the beautiful deep blue of C’s eyes, and the mysterious gray of B’s while I can.

So, I just learned about “catchlight”. For those who don’t know, if you want to see some sparkle in your subject’s eyes, you need to position them so that there is a light source on their face. As a novice, completely unprofessional photographer, I find that I absolutely love natural light. A lightbulb or some fancy props won’t do – you really only need the sun. So, when I’m bored on a Friday and want to practice this new skill, I plunk my twins down near my light source and throw them some toys. In the mornings, it’s on my dining room floor in front of the slider. In the afternoons, it’s upstairs in the extra bedroom. Wherever the light source is, that’s where the best pictures will be. This morning, we tried out the dining room floor. B wasn’t having it – he had no desire to look up at me for any reason. But C played along, as she typically does. I focused on getting the light to land right on her face, turned my camera to “no flash”, zoomed in, and waited. Here are a few of the results:

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You can actually see the reflection of the slider in C’s eyes, which is almost the goal. I find it extremely satisfying to capture catchlight in my twins, and it’s really, really easy to do. I have a nice SLR camera. I don’t know how to use it. I also don’t have any photography props in my house – no screens or anything. I just turn off the flash, and find the sun.  The other little trick that goes with this is to position yourself all around your subject. Get them to look up, look sideways, look out…whatever. You can get some extra eye sparkles that way! You can clearly see the difference when you don’t have catchlight:

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Still a cute picture – but without the “pop” of the eyes.

I’ve also learned that you can take really good “catchlight” photos on a phone as well. A fancy camera isn’t necessary all the time. This picture was taken on my iphone, with sunlight pouring in through the slider:

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So that was the new fun trick I learned this week.

My practical trick is related to getting out of the house. If you’re leaving the house with twins (or one baby, or five) – give yourself an extra amount of time. It’s going to take longer than you think, every. single. time. And if it’s going to take THAT long…you might just want to stay home.

We went to a new playgroup. I really wanted something on Fridays and I found a group a few towns over for babies around my twins’ age, which is perfect. Today’s meeting was at a library. Unfortunately many playgroups start around 10 or 10:30 in the morning, and the babies’ first nap starts between 9:00-9:30. On a day like today, when I knew we’d be traveling, I made sure to have them sleeping at 9:00, which I did. When 10:00 came, we had to go in order to spend any time at this new playgroup, which was running from 10:00-12:00.

I had to wake both babies from the nap at 10:00, which is always a painful thing. It took 40 minutes to get there – we hit EVERY light, I was followed by a police officer for a while, every senior citizen in existence was out driving…etc. We got there. There was no parking. Like, NO parking. What library has no parking? I had to park down the street, down a very busy main road. I got the stroller out. I got the two car seats out. I hooked them into the stroller. We got to the front of the library and couldn’t find a ramp. What library doesn’t have a ramp? Finally found it, went inside. How do you get to the playgroup? You have to take an elevator. First time pushing a double stroller into an elevator – which was pitch black, by the way. What elevator is pitch black inside? Found the playgroup, met 4 moms and their babies. I didn’t realize it was a library-sponsored playgroup for any age child, so there were big kids running around everywhere. We sat in a circle. There were no toys for babies. What library doesn’t have baby toys? The babies sat on the rug and stared around for an hour. I chatted. Both babies pooped. I changed them. Because we arrived at 11:00, 12:00 came quickly. The babies normally drink their bottles at 11:30. Back in the car seat, back in the stroller, down the street, back in the car, and the babies are hungry. They’re STARVING. I didn’t bring their bottles. C screamed her little heart out for at least 25 minutes on the way back. Harder than she’s probably ever cried. What kind of terrible mother starves her children?? Oops.

We got back, C passed out from crying, I heated bottles, they ate an hour late. We were all exhausted. We went on with our day. Worth it?

I’m not sure yet.

There were many lessons to be learned here in this situation, but one of them is possibly that it’s not worth going to a playgroup if it takes 40 minutes to get there. Poor babies, I felt so bad.

Here are a few more pictures from our week:

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B being a silly boy.

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He does want to crawl. He’s actually starting to move….backwards. It’s something I guess.

 

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Rocking the matching hoodies. C’s is a little small, B’s is a little big – but hers is size 6 months, and his is size 18 months.

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Okay, I know this one looks odd. Here’s the story: I was changing B’s diaper on the rug. I was about to change his whole outfit, hence the un-done snaps. C was sitting next to him, and she started to lean toward him. Well, she has just learned how to give kisses, and with no prompting from me (I quick grabbed my phone just in case), she bent over to give her brother kisses. Again and again and again. It was SO sweet. I think B thought she was going to “baby bird” him, so he went along with it. The picture looks kind of weird, and possibly inappropriate, but I assure you, it was the CUTEST thing ever. Affection toward her brother – a first for Lil C.

And that was our week!

Coconut oil is my jam.

Adding fresh to the list of “hippy” mom things I’ve decided to undertake, I now…

Make my own baby wipes.

But before I get into that – let’s just talk about coconut oil for a minute. Who knew such a product would have 5,000 different uses? It’s like a miracle oil.

The forums are all abuzz about coconut oil so I decided to give it a try. We already had it in the house as my husband likes to cook with many different healthy oils. It comes as a solid lump, so I plunked the whole jar in a warm pot of water and waited for it to liquify. After a few minutes, I poured the oil into a small tupperware container that would make it easier to access when it hardened up again.

Then I got to work using it on my cloth diapers. Now, cloth diapers can’t tolerate your typical diaper rash creams. That was unfortunate, since I have 3 bottles of Desitin in my house. But they won’t come clean off a cloth diaper and would eventually create a barrier resulting in leaks. And the only way to solve that one is with dish soap and a toothbrush. No thanks. In an emergency, crazy-bad diaper rash situation (like the one I had last week), I still resort to Desitin since I’m new at this whole “natural” products game. My options were to throw down a liner on top of the diaper (fleece liners – I do that for every diaper anyway) and then wash the liner in normal laundry, throw out the liner, or use a disposable diaper.

Well part of the cause of B’s nasty rash was from sitting in acidic poop all night in a disposable diaper, trapping moisture like woah. So I wanted to use the hemp overnites for a while until it all cleared up. But after a few days of lots of air and Desitin, it wasn’t clearing up too much and I thought – let’s go back to coconut oil. I had been using it as a preventative measure and sort of as a natural replacement for Vaseline (again, can’t touch cloth diapers). Now, a week later, the rash is basically gone, and I’m applying coconut oil for both babies at almost every diaper change. This is GOOD stuff.

I’m also using it for dry skin on C’s legs and hands, chapped lips  – and cooking.

I’m still getting into the craze, but basically, anywhere you would use 1) oil, 2) vaseline, or 3) moisturizer, you can substitute it with coconut oil. For kids or adults. It’s thin and easily spreadable, and no grease stains whatsoever. I use the back of my nail to scrape a little out of the tupperware, and then put the chunk on a q-tip and apply. You know what’s in it, so no guessing there. It’s good for babies and their skin. One jar lasts a long time. I’m impressed!

Back to the wipes – the wipes we were using ran out. I busted out some old wipes we had on hand, and B got a rash from it. Clearly he has sensitive skin. Most wipes have a lot of chemicals in it, which, I’m not concerned about in terms of the long-term health of my kids, but I do think it could have an adverse effect on skin -too drying, allergic reactions, whatever. Plus, it’s a hassle to constantly have to buy more wipes.

I decided to make my own. These are disposable, not reusable. Good for some people, but I just can’t do it. Nasty. I’m using cheap paper towels (from Costco – working fine!); Bounty is generally recommended on the interwebs. I’m also using select-a-size – the perfect wipe size.

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These are my ingredients – tea tree oil was my big expense off Amazon, then the baby shampoo I already had and was using, the coconut oil I was already using (we still had a little left in the jar), paper towels and a container from the dollar store. Voila!

The recipe I’m using comes from Quad Mom Amber, so you can check her out there. I didn’t use any lavender or other oils as I didn’t have them  and don’t mind the smell of the tea tree oil, and instead of baby oil (it irritates the crap out of B’s skin – no surprise there) I’m using coconut oil. Otherwise I followed her recipe exactly. It literally took me less than 5 minutes to make start to finish.

To get the tube out of our paper towels, I poured the liquid on the bottom of the container first, then put the roll in, let it soak for a few minutes and it came right out. However, my over-sized roll from Costco was wider than I think is typical, so instead of the 5-10 minutes it would take for the liquid to completely absorb into the roll, it took more like 3-4 hours. I also had to add another 1/4 cup of water. I had a feeling the roll would dry out and would be a giant fail. Well, at the end of the week, we’ve still got some roll to spare, it’s not even close to dry – in fact the more wipes we use, the wetter they are. They smell clean, no mold or grossness (that’s the tea tree oil), no drippy mess, easy to come apart from the middle, like cleaning wipes – I love it! And CHEAP! That’s the biggest pro as far as I’m concerned.  And now I have wipes.

With B’s sensitive skin, I’m always trying to find products that don’t bother him. So far, I’m finding that scents and chemicals do irritate his skin, and I’ve absolutely NO problems with coconut oil for any use, and now, baby wipes too.

So hooray for simple at-home methods that feed into my laziness and are good for the skin!

Maybe I should make my own cleaning wipes too as we go through a million a week….is that crossing the line?

Time and Money Savers

My blog has a new name! Some days, I feel almost silly blogging, as if it’s a little odd to be projecting information about my children on the internet. At the same time, I thoroughly enjoy reading the blogs of others and I do daily, especially those in a similar position as I am. I look forward to pictures, tips, and developmental leaps my kids will go through in the future. And when I think about that, it makes me want to blog more, so that maybe I can be of help to someone out there with twins.

If you do have twins and you’ve just found me, I want to point you in the direction of a few other blogs I read about twins/multiples. Check them out – it’s well worth it!

Journey to the Finish Line

Tales of a Twin Mombie

I’m Polycystic Inside

Four to Adore

And those are just a few!

So as a new mom of multiple babies, I have been lucky enough to take the entire year off from my job. What that means, though, is that we’re on a tight budget. Tighter than what we have been spending on those nights when we’re exhausted and really – who wants to cook? But now that we’ve kind of taken a big hit to our savings, it’s really time to make some smart money choices. I continue to try and find ways to save money, so I welcome other ideas!

FEEDING –

Costco (Kirkland) brand formula:  B was getting constipated on the type of formula they were given in the NICU, Similac. When he was a newborn he really struggled to poop and he cried…and it was terrible. Anyway, we were given medication to give him for it, but by chance, one day I stopped in Costco and read, ingredient for ingredient, what was in the Kirkland brand vs. Similac. The only difference was the lack of soy in the former. It was also double the amount for the same price. That giant can of 36 ounces is around $17, which is really a steal. It ended up being great in another way, as it completely stopped B’s constipation. The switch was made. I wanted to exclusively breastfeed and I couldn’t – so at least we found a cheap formula that works for our babies. However, our pediatrician throws free cans of Similac our way every time we go there, so I continue to put one scoop in our mixture when I make the meals. Not enough to constipate B, but enough to be using free formula.

As a time saver for making formula, I prepare it in a full-sized Nalgene water bottle I donated to the cause. Where I once used to make one Nalgene bottle full every 36 hours, I now make it twice a day. But I guess that’s to be expected. Anyway, I fill it up with 28 ounces of water and 14 scoops of formula. Once made, I pour it into the day’s bottles and stick them all in the fridge. For warming, I simply put the bottles in solo cups and fill with hot water. They warm in about five minutes. Now, with these big bottles they drink (B’s bedtime bottle is 10 ounces, C’s is 8), I sometimes need to refill the solo cup a second time. A bottle warmer would’ve probably been easier, but this is cheap! As for the Nalgene bottle, I found it a major time saver in those early days, rather than making bottle by bottle for every meal.

DIAPERING –

As you know, I’ve just made the switch to cloth diapers about a month ago and I’m hooked. I understand it’s not for everyone and that’s fine, but I feel that this has been a money saver for sure. I have 24 daytime cloth diapers in rotation, and the twins at almost 7 months go through about 15-16 diapers every day and a half. Somehow, I’m managing just fine to do laundry every 36 hours. I also just switched to a nighttime cloth diaper because C was leaking watery poop every morning all over her pj’s. Yes, this girl poops at night, every night, and I don’t know how to break the cycle. By the 5th night of leaks, I decided it’s time to try a different material than a disposable, which we were using at night to get rid of them. The Pooter hemp diaper with a Blueberry PUL cover was perfect – no leaks last night, a comfy kid in a diaper for 13 hours. I only have 4 of these diapers but in the long run, again, I do think it’s a money saver.

As for a time saving tip – well, when you cloth diaper, it does take a little more time especially in the beginning. Obviously throwing out a disposable is pretty darn quick. But unless I have a poop diaper, it’s just as quick. For those nasty diapers (we use BumGenius Freetimes) – my time saving cloth diaper trick is to use a fleece liner. I save a ton of time cleaning a small liner rather than a big diaper.

My next money saving trick to try is to make my own wipes. I know, it sounds very earthy-crunchy, and when I first read the words “homemade wipes” – I assumed that meant you reused them. And that’s a thing – and good for you, if you can stomach it. But when there’s a gross diaper, I do not want to wash the wipes. I want to throw them away. However, wipes aren’t too cheap either, especially when you use so many a day on multiple bums. That’s why, when my current stash runs out, I’m going to give this a try – making homemade, throw-them-away wipes. Here’s where I found out about this:

http://fourtoadore.com/2013/04/30/diaper-doozies/

FEEDING the adults –

I’m not a chef. I’m about the worst housewife ever. My husband always (jokingly?) tries to convince me to wear heels and a cute apron as I make some delicious meal from scratch  as he walks through the door but let’s face it, I’m in sweatpants on the daily and ready to whip up a mean turkey sandwich. But that has been changing as I’ve decided to embrace my temporary stay-at-home-mom gig. I can’t exactly expect my husband to come home and cook dinner after a full day of work.  When he gets home, we only have about an hour before the babies go to bed, so I’m not going to spend it “cooking”. Instead, I’m doing freeze ahead meals. Holy cow – how did I not do this my entire adult life? It’s my favorite type of cooking – throw ingredients in a bag and freeze for future use! You need a crockpot though – on the day of the meal, dump the contents of the bag (thawed in the fridge first) into the crockpot and you’re good to go. Tonight we had crock pot gluten-free lasagna (which is only gluten-free because of the noodles, and you can’t even tell!) and it was delish. I’m also excited to try the southwest chicken meal I prepared the other day – I literally just dumped corn, salsa, black beans, and chicken into a bag with some salt and pepper. I’ll make some rice with it and stir in some cream cheese to make it creamy. I didn’t make any of this up – here are a few websites I got my recipes from:

http://www.thebusybudgetingmama.com/2013/01/freezer-crock-pot-meals-prep-day.html

http://www.sixsistersstuff.com/2012/09/slow-cooker-freezer-meals-make-8-meals.html

This is a crazy time saver for me. I spent maybe an hour over the weekend “cooking” by throwing ingredients into bags. Now I have the whole week’s worth of dinner – done. SO easy. Because of this, it’s probably a money saver in that we won’t be darting out to Chipotle or Panera’s because we’re too tired to cook.

One of the biggest money savers we’ve been lucky enough to have is to simply borrow and steal (not…literally of course, except for that one time…). I once claimed I wouldn’t have too much “baby plastic” in my house – babies don’t NEED a lot of toys. Ha! No, they don’t NEED them to survive, but at the same time, it’s very helpful and fun for them, and a lifesaver for me. We didn’t have the money to buy all the gadgets the babies use but were lucky enough to either borrow items or be given them used, for free. Out of the two jumpers, two “super seats” (Bumbo’s but with a tray with toys – also a booster seat), two bouncers, two exersaucers, two swings, two floor mats, two boppy’s and two high chairs – (I can’t believe I’m admitting to having all of these things) I only bought one floor mat (the Kick n Play Piano) and one jumper ($15 gently used from Once Upon a Child). Everything else was a gift or a loan.  The fact is, with multiple babies, I can’t hold them all day. And I would absolutely LOVE to do that – carrying around a snuggly baby is one of my favorite things. But they’re heavy. And B kicks while C rubs her face all over my shoulders. It would be almost dangerous to even try. So that means they need to be put down, and if one baby is upset and I need to tend to them, that other baby needs to be content with something other than me. That’s where this plastic comes in.

I used to double bottle feed (breast feed one, make him wait, breast feed the other, bottle feed them both) but now I do not. B usually goes first because he’s faster than C – but that means C is left hungry for a few minutes. I need something to keep her occupied – that’s where the bouncer or exersaucer comes into play. And vice versa. Or I’m changing a gross diaper – yes, one baby is left alone for a minute, in a safe place, while I tend to it. I need the plastic.

When the babies are both happy and living their little baby lives, I run a series of “centers”..not unlike what I do in my job. I try to have both babies doing the same activity at the same time, so I can give my attention to them both as I watch/play with them. So we’ll do the two jumpers for a little bit, then some floor/tummy time together. When I try to make myself lunch, I’ll put them in their chairs on the floor in the kitchen with some toys. Then we’ll have more floor time, some exersaucer time..you get the picture. We rotate “centers” all day. It’s a good time.

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I seem to be able to talk about what’s going well at home, but there are always new baby issues that crop up and I’m searching the web for advice. Today’s issue – how to get more than one baby to nap in the same room without waking the other. At night they sleep fine – if one cries, the other stirs maybe, but goes back to sleep. But during the day – wow. They can’t nap together right now, that’s where we’re at. I’m lucky enough to have space to separate them, and I do, but B is in a swing then, as both cribs are in the same room, and he’s really almost too big for a swing. So I’m going to need to do something about this. And teething – I know nothing about baby teeth. There’s biting, chomping, drooling, munching and some fussing…and no teeth. Not even white under the surface. Do they just – pop out super quick all of  a sudden? Or do they take a while to come in?

I go through these blogging spurts every once in a while, but I really do enjoy doing it, as I equally enjoy reading the blogs of others. Hopefully, I can keep up with it – there are always new baby adventures!

Twins – 30 Weeks

They will be, at least, on Sunday. I don’t blog much anymore – not because I can’t make the time at night but usually because I’m scouring the internet for advice on this or that random baby issue, rather than putting my own information out there. But I have noticed this blog getting a good amount of traffic, and I read many blogs myself of those with kids, so I thought an update might be in order. I did find that the majority of people’s searches that led to finding my blog have to do with infertility, charting, temping, implantation spotting…etc. What I remember about that dark time is the amount of questions I had – what does it mean when there’s spotting? What if there’s not? What if I’m 10 DPO and _____ happened? Oh no, I feel a pain! Oh no, I don’t feel a pain! I remember those questions being so exhausting, taking over my entire self. And so, if that’s where you’re at as you come across the majority of what this blog has been about so far, I feel you. It sucks. It sucks even more when it’s not exciting to pee on a stick anymore. When it’s something you dread, or maybe worse, you become numb to doing it at all. Hang in there.

I do have a baby blog, but I found that I’m connected more through this blog with others out there whose journey’s I’ve followed, which is why I tend to revert back here.

So my babies, Mr. B and Lil C, are changing so rapidly. It seems like it’s every day that something new happens, even small, and the following day was nothing like the day before it. Today’s small event was that the babies reached for a toy while on tummy time. In fact, I positioned them so that they both reached for the same toy, in the middle between them.  Yesterday’s event – Lil C finally figured out spoon-feeding. It means you have to open your mouth.  And now, hmm, she likes it – though she prefers if you give a loud “nom nom” sound as you airplane the spoon towards her. My days are like that. I’m extremely lucky, so lucky, to be staying home with them for as long as I have and as long as I will be. It’s not something I take for granted, and if I ever have more than a minute of “I really wish I could relax and take a baby break” – I remind myself that if I was at work (doing a job I do enjoy, by the way), someone else, someone my babies don’t really know, would be watching them and playing with them. While that day will be coming this summer, if I can avoid it now, I will. And so I seriously cherish every minute, even the moments of crying babies, poop explosions, and the spit-up that went right down my shirt today, all the way down my neck. And I couldn’t shower for another few hours. Just another perfect day.

I don’t know what it’s like having one baby, but with two, it really does get so much easier. I mean in a way it’s actually more exhausting – never sitting down, constantly bending over carrying some heavy weights – it’s like teaching, being on your feet nonstop! But I can put the babies down and go to the bathroom or make a sandwich. Now that they are sleep trained (mostly), I can put them down for a nap and not have to rush up there the first second someone squeaks. It really is easier.

The beginning of my pregnancy through the beginning of my twins’ lives was very much out of my control. Infertility, bedrest, preterm labor, C-section, NICU time, preemies…all out of my control. Not having enough of a supply to breastfeed my babies exclusively..mostly out of my control. I could’ve pumped more, I could’ve drank more tea, I could’ve put those babies on me around the clock and I didn’t. But I didn’t know what I was doing wrong and so in that way…it was out of my control. And those are all things I wish had been in my control. So NOW, now I get to make parenting decisions that are in my control, that make me be the parent I want to be, and that feels awesome. I feel like I’ve waited my whole life for this. Because of that, I’ve fully enjoyed in the last few weeks switching to cloth diapers, starting solids with my twins, and starting up baby sign language. It feels so good to make choices that I think are right for my babies. Being a stay at home mom right now suits me.

Cloth diapering could be an addiction. I don’t have that kind of money but it’s actually…kind of enjoyable. I switched because I was running out of disposables, and I had always wanted to CD, but wanted to use up what I had first. And to be honest, those first few months were such a blur, I felt helpless and I didn’t know what I was doing. I didn’t have the brain power for a cloth diaper. But around 5 months, I felt like I had a good grip on everything. However, I was so used to disposables that I didn’t want some complicated thing you have to fold 8,000 ways and all of that. I wanted easy. So for daytime, I went with the BumGenius Freetime All-In-One. It’s just like a disposable – just snap and go. The snaps are adjustable, fitting babies up to 35 pounds, which for most kids will hold them all the way until potty training (except for Mr. B who is a whopping 21 pounds already). And my kids obviously share the diapers. If I ever have another child (not even going there right now), I will use these same diapers for them, and then I’ll sell them. I do a load of laundry every day and a half, which is just a rinse and then a wash, and I hang dry (but they can go in the dryer). They are dry by morning. It is so much easier than I thought it would be. As for poop clean up, I didn’t want to buy a sprayer, but I didn’t want poop all over my bathroom (which was my vision). I bought at walmart cheap fleece, cut it up into strips and lined each diaper with it. When the babies poop, I take the liner out, and the diaper is wet but not poopy, and I clean the liner in the toilet using rubber gloves. I don’t have to dip a giant diaper in there – just a thin piece of fleece which comes clean quick. No stains, no smells…piece of cake. And the colors of the diapers are addicting. I just purchased a nighttime diaper, the Pooter Hemp Fitted, but they haven’t come yet. So that’s CDing in a nutshell. Major money saver with more than one kid in diapers. My diaper trash can actually smells better than when I had disposables in there, if you can believe that. And by better, I mean you can’t smell anything at all, because it all gets rinsed out in the toilet. And for the most part – no diaper rash since I’ve switched.

Solids – so much fun. I make my own in our food processor because 1) it’s fun, 2) I’m in control of what’s in it, and 3) it’s super easy. So far, we have introduced peas, avocado, sweet potato, carrots, green beans and oatmeal. Butternut squash is on tap for this weekend, followed by the fruits. So far, the babies seem to like avocado, peas and green beans best. I assumed the sweet orange foods would be a hit, but they haven’t been as much. I skipped the rice, knowing Mr. B gets constipated easily, and went to oatmeal instead – and they both really like it. After I make a big batch in the food processor (not the oatmeal), I freeze them in ice cube trays and pop them out as needed. They thaw in a little plastic cup for a bit before eating and voila.

Baby Sign Language is my newest internet search. I’m really, really interested in it, though it seems like this passing fad right now. I love the idea that the babies can communicate with me and each other before they have the words to do so. I also would like to alleviate some of their fussing when they aren’t sure what’s going on. For example, Mr. B has lately burst into tears every time I put him down on the changing table. I don’t know what the deal is, but as soon as he realizes I’m just changing his diaper, he calms down. So, I introduced the sign “diaper”. Obviously, any sign I introduce right now means nothing to them because I’ve just started. But hopefully, if I’m consistent for a few months, not only will they understand what it means, but they might do it back to me. Until they start to get it, I’ve only introduced “diaper”, “eat”, “more” and “all done”. I don’t know who thinks I’m crazy more, the babies or those who come into my house and see my husband and I doing this but maybe someday, they’ll do it back.

And don’t get me wrong – there’s absolutely nothing wrong with making different parenting choices. What I like best isn’t the choices that I’ve made, but the fact that I’m able to make the choices. I get to feed my babies what I want them to eat, and I get to prepare it the way I want to. I get to see what they do all day, and decide what toys they will play with. And I can carry them around the house (though usually not at the same time) with their heads on my shoulders and snuggle. I just REALLY, really like being a mom.  Not to get too sappy, because who needs that, but I knew all along that I wanted and needed to be a mom. Infertility got in the way, I wasn’t my finest self, I felt changed, I was cranky and miserable. But now, that hole that has really always been there, that I’ve tried filling with students, with travel, with..you name it, has been filled and I seriously just feel like a complete person. Totally fulfilled. And I’m SO lucky to be in this position.

Anyway. Mr. B is 21 pounds, as I said. 90% for weight, 50% for height, 97% for head size. Lil C is 17 pounds and certainly much more petite, but also with a big head (90%). But Lil C oddly has newborn sized feet. To me, her legs and feet aren’t really growing, but the rest of her body is. She’s very short, and like I said – those feet fit in newborn size shoes, size 0. But it’s hard to compare sometimes because B is a big boy. I don’t know who is more average. They are completely the stereotype of a boy and a girl, which is weird considering I’m not exactly a stereotype myself. Mr. B is extremely physical – he’s closer to crawling, he rolls more than C does (she really doesn’t yet) – he can’t. stop. moving. His legs need to be straightened, he wants to stand, he wants to fall to the ground, he wants to bounce. He jumps and jumps and jumps. He can do this for a long time, and he zones out, staring off into space. He babbles his consonants and chews on anything cloth but those feet always move. Lil C is the exact opposite. Her body is very calm. She will sit there (the first to sit, because B can’t stay calm long enough), lay there, be held, be carried around, but she needs to be talked to, she needs to see what you’re doing. She wants to watch you explain to her how to make a sandwich, or why the dogs are barking. She doesn’t talk as much, but she feels with her hands – she wants to hold your cup, your food, your shirt…she tries to grab the dogs’ ears. She sticks her hands out so the puppies can lick them, and then giggles hysterically. Whereas B laughs like crazy when the dogs fight, and roll around, and make a lot of noise.  B loves his lovey, and I didn’t realize at such a young age a baby could love an object that wasn’t a person. He doesn’t take a pacifier, doesn’t suck his thumb, so when it’s time for sleep, the lovey is where it’s at. C still takes her wubbanub, but mostly only for falling asleep.

Teeth must be coming soon, because they are both chomping on their hands non-stop, with more drool. I still don’t see any white yet though.

I still dream feed Lil C, as I’m preparing her bottle right now. 99% of the time, she sleeps through the rest of the night. B eats all the food in my house during the day, he doesn’t need any overnight.

So here they are:

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I’m completely in love. This must be what all the new parents talk about, and I’m just so lucky to be experiencing it.