Monday, May 25, 2015

Life with Twins at 14 Months

Life with twins is finally, dare I say it, easy. Yup, you heard it. It's easy having two babies the same age. The boys are up and moving around on their own and they can communicate their wants and needs (to a certain extent) to me. The days, more often than not, go by quickly - filled with new adventures and fun - and you can practically see the boys learning something new every day. This is a fun age and I love it!

The stresses, questions and concerns about being a first time mom with newborns seem to be so long gone, although it was really only months ago. Now I have to start considering homeschooling programs, extracurricular activities and socialization for these practically already adult kids. (How young is too young for a kid to appreciate a guinea pig???) I might be getting a little ahead of myself, but the last 14 months have gone by so quickly that it may only feel like a couple of days before the boys are 14 years old.

Our Schedule:
7 a.m. - Wake up
7:30 a.m. - Milk sippy cups, fruit loops and watching Jungle Junction on the Disney channel... that show is so cute!
9 a.m. - Breakfast
11 a.m. - Nap #1
1:30 p.m. - Lunch
3:15 p.m. - Nap #2 - this is a cat nap because we are turning into toddlers!
5 p.m. - Dinner
7 p.m. - Bath, pajamas, milk sippy cup and bedtime snack (1/2 a banana)
7:30 - BED!

There's so much flexibility in their schedule now that we're not tied to an every 3 hour rotation. But this is generally how it goes down still. I think toddlers thrive on consistency. And I know I thrive on consistency --- errr, well, I technically thrive on productivity. But it's hard being productive at home with toddlers. So consistency it is. Yes, I thrive on consistency. So it works for all 3 of us.

Where we are now: 
  • We are masters at finding something Mom needs to baby-proof on a daily basis. Our most recent adventures include trying to turn door knobs and locks.
  • We respond to commands such as "Bring me your shoes." Sometimes they match, sometimes they don't. 
  • They are excellent little eaters, most days! Favorite foods currently include: sweet potatoes, blueberries and strawberries.
  • I lost count of the number of teeth... but Oliver has at least one molar in there now!
  • We have most of our consonants figured out, we just haven't put together any words yet. 
Here's what we've been up to: 

We started taking daily nature walks

As well as trips to the park weekly

Oliver looks like he has made a horrible mistake

Emmett will pick ALL THE DANDELIONS

We got our first hair cuts!

So we look just like Mr. Dad

We went to the Baltimore Zoo and saw the giraffes!

First zoo trip and we were perfect angels

We sleep just like Mom!

Mom and Dad took us to Chick-fil-a for the first time...

...we loved it!
We learned to stack things - and we love to play with anything. Bonus points if it's not a baby toy!

We made our first pieces of art work... Mom had to keep us from eating the crayons though.

And we got in the swimmie pool for the first time!
Do they ever stop growing up so fast? They're in 18 month sized clothing and size 6 shoes already. I'm not going to be able to clothe them anymore if they continue to grow at this rate!

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Homemade Pouches: Hidden Veggies

Don't forget to follow Oh.em.gee it's Nikkie on Facebook for the newest posts!

If you don't have one of these Infantino Squeeze Stations to make your own fruit and veggie filled pouches at home, then you should stop reading this now. Go to Amazon. Buy a station and don't forget a 50ct pack of the pouches (you'll want them!) Wait for it to be delivered. Then hit up the grocery store!

These pouches are good for babies who are just starting out on solids because you can make them yourself and know exactly what fruit or veggie you are serving them. Plus, Infantino has these cute little spoon attachments so you can feed baby from a spoon, even on the go.

The boys are 14 months now and we have been experimenting with homemade pouch flavors since I received this as a Christmas present (Thanks T's!) I ALWAYS always always always throw a vegetable into these flavorful combinations... because, why not?

I make a huge batch about once a month or so. And it doesn't take much time. You don't have to cook these fruits or veggies before you puree them. It's no different than making a ton of "green smoothies" ... but they don't all have to be green. I end up using whatever leftover fresh fruits and veggies I have "in stock", along with frozen fruits and veggies, and add milk, yogurt, almond milk, applesauce, oatmeal... Whatever!

 Here's what my pouch making station consists of:
  • all fresh fruits and veggies I want to use up
  • half used bags of frozen fruits and veggies I want to get rid of
  • pouch making station and pouches
  • food processor, puree-er, blender
  • yogurt, milk, applesauce, juice
  • towels to cover surfaces because I'm a mess in the kitchen

In about 20 minutes or so I made a full freezer shelf-full (very accurate measurement, I know) of pouches in about 5 different flavor combinations. Here are a couple of the recipes I made today:
(Each "recipe" makes about 5 pouches worth of puree, so multiply as needed!)
  • Green pouch (think green smoothie)
    •  Frozen spinach, 1 whole banana, almond milk, spoonful of Greek yogurt and a handful of frozen mango, 1/2 cup frozen sliced zucchini
  • Purple pouch (very berry smoothie)
    • 1 cup mixed frozen berries (cherries, raspberries and blueberries), almond milk, 1 whole banana, spoonful of Greek yogurt, 1 cup of frozen sliced zucchini
  • Yellow/orange-y pouch (Pumpkin pie smoothie)
    • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree, 1 whole banana, 1 cup applesauce, almond milk, 1 spoon of Greek yogurt, pumpkin pie spice, 1/2 cup chickpeas
Have you ever tried making your own pouch foods? Do you know how much money you could save versus buying the pre-made pouches?


Friday, May 1, 2015

I'm an introvert. And a mom. And it's hard.

Being an introvert is hard on you. Being a parent is hard on you. Being an introverted parent is exceptionally difficult and exhausting. I've always been an introvert and I've always known it. It's never really been a "problem" for me until I became a mom. If there is one thing I wish people could understand about me, as an introvert, it would be that I am NOT anti-social (although I may tell you otherwise if I am trying to get out of a social/community/volunteer type event). I just despise small talk (or women chatter) and social events make me uncomfortable. All of these introvert tendencies are exacerbated when you have small children and I was not prepared for it.

1. You are touched way more often than you want. I don't know any mom who could possibly say that they cuddle their children too much. But by the end of the day, I feel as though I legitimately have cuddled my children too much. Looking back through my day, there are very few moments where a small person is not sleeping on me, clinging to my leg and whining for Cheerios, or sitting on my lap reading "That's Not My Dinosaur" for the nineteenth time. By the time the boys are in bed, the last thing I want is anyone or anything (I'm looking at you, cats.) trying to get more cuddles out of me. I have been touched-out and need time to recharge. Away. From. Everyone. 

2. You will never ever ever ever be alone again. You're with your kids all day. Or you're at work and come home to your kids. Or you're with your kids and husband on the weekends. The only time I am truly alone anymore is on my drive to and from work. I have been known to volunteer to go grocery shopping at Wal-Mart. On a Saturday morning. Just to be somewhere I can blend into the crowd and not have to talk to anyone for an hour.

3. You will cherish the day your babies are not "new" anymore. When you have a baby, people come out of the woodwork and start appearing on your doorstep requesting to see baby. When you have 2 babies, the number of people who want to visit is overwhelming. Some of these people will bring food or help around the house and then leave after a short visit. A good number of these people will set up camp in your house and require constant entertainment for THE.WHOLE.DAMN.DAY. While hogging your babies. Don't think you can steal away with your babies and take a nap, either. They will still be there when you get up (probably helped themselves to some of your food stash and left dirty dishes in the sink as well) and then it will be round two of small talk and entertaining in your own home, which is supposed to be your haven and safe place! Babies do expire - it seems around the 12-week mark - and become old news (yay!).

4. Your phone rings way too much. Introverts and phone calls go together like peanut butter and green beans. Once I became a parent, I realized my phone was ringing a ton more than it used to. I used to be able to go weeks (not exaggerating) without a phone call and now I get several a week. It doesn't sound like a lot, but when the sound of your phone ringing causes a moment of panic and a rise in blood pressure as you decide whether or not to risk answering it... it's just exhausting. Please, for the love of God, just text me or e-mail me. And even then, don't expect a response from me right away. Or even same day. It's not happening unless you're really special.

I'm an introvert. And a mom. And it's hard. 

What do you think?

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Toddler Meals: Part 2

The twins are eating us out of house and home already - and they're only 1 year old! It seems like I feed them 20 times a day now that they are eating solids (minus one bottle at bedtime) because they snack... all. the. time. We're trying to get out of that habit, though. 

Currently they wake up at 7 a.m. and have a 10 ounce sippy cup of whole milk and a handful of Cheerios. At 9 a.m. we eat a real breakfast - this is their biggest meal of the day... I swear I can't feed them enough in the morning! They eat a snack (Goldfish, Cheerios, share a pouch) at noon and real lunch at 1:30. Sometimes they need a snack while I'm cooking dinner... heck, even I like to snack while I'm cooking dinner. Dinner is at 5 p.m. and their bedtime snack is at 7:30 p.m.

Like I said, it seems like feeding them is an all day long event. I make as much of their food and pouches as I have time to, and keep very few processed foods in the house - mostly snacks like Goldfish and chicken nuggets (because, Andy.) Everything that I make for them or that I make for dinner is doubled and we eat every last bit of the leftovers! Making everything in bulk saves me a lot of time... less cooking, fewer dishes to clean.

Here's a sample of what they've been eating recently!

Leftover penne with meat sauce, sweet potato fried, peaches and pears

Leftover chicken alfredo, sweet potato fries, applesauce with pumpkin pie spice

Fish sticks with ketchup, black beans and peaches

Mac & cheese (boxed) with steamed veggies, hotdog (processed), tater tots (processed) and mixed fruits. Not my best meal!

Leftover penne with meat sauce, string cheese, green beans and peaches

Spinach stuffed grilled cheese sandwich, spinach and cheddar omelette slices and roasted sweet potato
Sweet potatoes are a huge hit in this house! Whether it is pureed in a pouch, mixed with yogurt and pumpkin pie spice, in fry form or baked... they'll eat it! And they'll eat it first!

Ways I like to sneak extra fruits and veggies into food:
  • Pancakes - add pureed banana, carrot, avocado, blueberries, pumpkin, etc
  • Omelettes - add anything! A little bit of cheese with almost any vegetable
  • Sandwiches - grilled cheese with spinach, butternut squash, etc. 
  • Pasta sauce - puree carrot, celery, onion, green or red peppers and add it to your sauce along with all of the tomato-y goodness
  • Oatmeal - toss in any fruit
  • Pouches - I make all of my pouch foods except for the emergency stash I keep in the diaper bag (doesn't have to be refrigerated) and blend yogurt, applesauce, and/or oatmeal with ANY fruit or vegetable. My kids love any of their various colored "smoothies!"

Friday, April 17, 2015

5 Nearly Free Toddler Toys

The boys are 13 months old now. They walk, run, play all day and need constant supervision. [Hence the recent decline in posts.] Luckily, there are two of them and they can play together quite nicely. But that also means twice the clean up, food prep and double the trouble to watch out for. At. All. Times. Seriously, all times. 

While the boys do have a butt-ton (ass-load?) of toys that they received for Christmas and their birthdays, I find myself constantly needing to come up with activities for them. Activities that will keep them occupied for AT LEAST a half hour. So I can have some peace and quiet, eat lunch or, heaven forbid, clean something!

Here are a couple of toys and activities I have come up with over the last few weeks that are free or nearly free, easy to create and provide at least a half hour of entertainment.

1. Old magazines and newspapers. Heck, even a couple of pieces of scrap paper of junk mail. Anything that they can carry around and then shred whenever they fancy works. One old magazine can be shred into thousands of smaller magazines if they really set their minds to it! Once the pieces get too small, they tend to bring them to me as though I have magical powers to put it back together. They used to try to eat the pieces but have since grown out of that stage so this is a great distraction for when I need to focus on cooking or even just run to the restroom. Yay!

2. Balloons. I bought a pack of 25 balloons the last time I was at the dollar store and they have lasted almost 2 months. A couple here, a couple there. The boys love kicking, hitting and throwing them around. The cats also get in on this action which makes it even more exciting for the boys. If I have the balloons out, I stay nearby so I can see or hear if any of them pop so that they don't become choking hazards.

Loving the balloons during their birthday photo shoot with Auntie Kara!

3. Sensory water bags. Put a couple of small trinkets and waterproof items in a quart-sized heavy duty Ziploc bag, fill with water, remove excess air, and seal. These are a hit and are actually quite durable. It probably won't even cost you a penny either considering most households have plastic bags and small junk items within an arm's reach. When/if they spring a leak you can either toss the whole thing in the trash or plop it into a gallon sized bag to extend the life expectancy.

This kept them busy while I wrote this post in its entirety... heck yea!

4. Food. Lemon and lime slices to be specific. If I'm cooking a recipe that calls for lemon and/or lime, I'm sure to save the slices for the boys and let the hilarity ensue. Be sure to video tape or capture some pictures the first time you do this because it is PRICELESS.

Really unsure, but going back for more.

So shocked that his hair stood up! ...just kidding, he has bed head.
5. Bottles with lids. Andy has these over-sized, durable plastic bottles for his Soda Stream. The caps are huge as well so we don't have to worry about choking hazards. The boys love to mix and match and put the lids on the bottles. They haven't figured out how to take the lids off yet, but they will bring them to me. It's a little work on my part but it keeps them busy for a good, long time with minimal effort and attention on my part. This one is a hit while I prepare dinner because they can be in the kitchen and close by to me while they work on this project.

Smart little cookie hard at work!

Also, in case you haven't seen this super cute twins video that went viral over the last few days, here it is. The Best Kept Secret - surprise gender announcement/twins announcement! If only this would have ever crossed my mind before we announced my pregnancy!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Life with twins at 1 year!

My baby boys are ONE YEAR OLD! We have officially moved out of the newborn/infant/baby stage and into the terrifying toddler years. [insert an ominous "oooooh" here]  They walk, they babble, they throw epic temper tantrums already! They learn something new everyday and you can almost see their little minds at work figuring things out, sometimes I swear they sit in their cribs during nap time learning new stuff just to freak me out. They also get this devilish little grin when you tell them "no!" and then continue to do what they were doing. Yup, full blown toddlers already. 

I was so scared to try to wean these guys off of bottles and on to real food completely. It didn't seem like they would be ready for it by the time they were a year old. Or maybe it was me that didn't feel ready for it emotionally.  Around 11 - 11 1/2 months old, they did the weaning for me! They started "declining" afternoon bottles and then fighting me to drink their breakfast bottle the following week. At this point we are offering them one bottle before bed and that's it. And, usually, they don't want it... but they have the option to drink it for the time being.

Until we go to the pediatrician in April and get the okay to be done with bottles.

Our Schedule:
7 a.m. - Wake up, 10 ounce sippy cup of whole milk and a handful of Cheerios
9 a.m. - Breakfast
10 a.m. - Nap #1
12 p.m. - Snack
1:30 p.m. - Lunch
3 p.m. - Nap #2... awake by 4:15 at the latest!
5 p.m. - Dinner
7 p.m. - Start bedtime routine. Bath, pajamas, offer a bottle, read a book
7:30 - 7:45 - Everyone asleep!

There is much more flexibility now that we're not tied to bottles - and I have fewer diaper bag necessities to carry with me at all times. Nap time is also more flexible although they still need 2 naps. No way, no how, would we get through the day without 2 naps. I have to limit their total nap time to 3 hours during the day to preserve their nighttime sleep. Oliver sleeps like a rock so I am always having to wake him.
Babies are a complex balancing act! 

Where we are now: 
  • We walk, we run, we ...climb?! AH!
  • We point, throw things, fetch (oops?)  and figure out how to use our toys
  • We feed ourselves... sometimes with silverware!
  • We have quite a vocabulary of babbles, sounds, screams and grunts
  • We can respond to simple commands such as "give" and "where's the kitty?"
  • We have 7 1/2 teeth each! 4 on top and 3 completely broken through on the bottom with a little canine tooth on its way in
  • We clap, wave bye-bye and can help clean up... if we want to.
Here's what we've been up to!

We are legitimate crazy people!

Like, super crazy!

We sucker Dad into giving up piggy backs!

Learning new skills everyday

They're a huge fan of blocks!

And figuring out this gear-spinny-toy

Watching Mickey Mouse Clubhouse every morning

My sweet Lizzie Kadeepah!

This just in! I caught Emmy putting lids on bottles!

These kids are hilarious (just like me?) and are getting into more trouble and having more adventures each day. I find myself staring at them for a good long time each day just wondering how they got so big and adult-baby-like so quickly. I'm sad that I'll never be getting these days back but I'm soooo excited to see what kind of fun we can have tomorrow.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Tips for Moving with Babies

We recently moved about 25 minutes away. With twin toddlers. Yes, we are crazy and yes, it was a really really really long but well-planned out event. I do not recommend moving with small children if you can at all avoid it, but you know that's not always possible. The boys were 11 months old, walking and eating solid food, with about 4 bottles a day still, so your experience may vary!  Here are a couple of tips I have for you - in case you ever need to go through this.

1. Pack up baby necessities last. We barely touched the boys' nursery until the morning of the move. Unlike adult humans, little humans tend to get grumpy if they don't have their specific crib to sleep in, their specific toy when they want it or enough outfits to last them a week. Adult humans can live out of a suitcase for a week if needed and don't need rails and pacifiers to go to sleep.

2. Set up the baby area first. Make sure their stuff is the first stuff you find and unpack so you're not looking for that one lovey or blankie come bed time, because it will have been a really long day and you will not want to try to find it. Not that your screaming baby will give you time to find it, anyway. Also, set up a baby-proofed safe spot for them first thing so they are not running around sticking fingers in electrical sockets or playing in a toilet. You'll thank me later for this idea, even though it seems like common sense. 

3. Keep their schedule as close to the same as possible. MAKE SURE THEY CAN NAP. We dealt with two overly tired babies because they did not nap well. Bedtime was a disaster. You'll also want to make sure they eat (pre-make a couple of meals that travel well so you're not scrambling trying to come up with food at the last minute!) around the same times they usually do. Don't let them skip a meal because they are too distracted by everything else that's going on.

4. Do as much as you can in one day. Instead of trying to deal with a week of out-of-whack-ness, try to consolidate and do everything you can in one day. Even if that day ends up being 20 hours long. Instead of having overstimulated, exhausted babies fighting bedtime for a week, make it a day or two. You're an adult, you can do it - I believe in you!

5. Enlist help. Like so much help. If you think you have enough help, double it. We called in every favor we could and had about 12 people helping us move in one day. I was in charge of unpacking as the man-folk brought loads of stuff from our old house. I had at least one person assigned to a baby at any given time and then extra people helping wherever and whenever they could. It helps that I have a big family and everyone has a significant other... so... lots of capable hands to do heavy lifting! Now we'll just have to pay back the favors whenever someone else is moving...

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Toddler Meals: Part 1

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We're in the process of weaning the boys off of formula since they are almost a year old already! Let me tell you, it's no walk in the park. Making healthy and kid appropriate foods for two babies for 3 meals a day plus a snack is no easy feat... it's about 10 times harder and more time consuming than mixing a bottle. But cooking is one of my passions and as much as I love to cook, I also love to eat. I want these little guys to be the same - well-rounded, not-picky, healthy little eaters.

Lots of people ask me what I feed them and some people seem a bit thrown off by the foods that I offer them. I strongly believe that I should not have to put together a special meal for the boys - they can eat exactly what Andy and I are eating, with a little bit of tweaking sometimes.

I don't eat breakfast so I have to fix them their own little meals for breakfast. Usually peanut butter toast, banana, cereal, yogurt, various fruits, waffles with fruit spread, banana pancakes... the usual breakfast items.

I sometimes don't eat lunch either, so I make large batches of lunch type items to keep in the fridge and pull out small portions as needed. Turkey dogs (quartered), frittatas (omelettes), various steamed vegetables, leftovers, grilled cheese, wraps. My goal is at least one fruit, vegetable, protein and carbohydrate on the plate at any given time. I let the boys decide what they eat and how much of it they eat - I haven't forced anything on them... yet.

Dinner is a toned-down version of whatever Andy and I are eating, whether it is just cut into baby-sized pieces or if I leave out the excessive seasonings (I'm a huge fan of red pepper flakes...)

Here's a couple of pictures of the pint-sized meals these guys have had this week. Disclaimer: I make things in large batches and use for several meals so you will see repeated foods! 

Chopped cauliflower and broccoli, mandarin oranges and blueberries, leftover Italian sausage pasta

Peanut butter toast fingers, omelette fingers (green beans and swiss cheese inside), blueberries and mandarin oranges

Slices of banana and peaches coated in Rice Krispies, omelette fingers

Leftover sweet potato chicken chili, mandarin oranges, sliced cheese, tater tots and omelette

 Pasta salad and pumpkin pie spiced Greek yogurt, that I let the boys feed themselves...

It was super messy and they had to have a mid-day bath afterward but they had fun learning to eat!

Stay tuned for more toddler meals and finger foods ideas --- you'll never know what they'll be eating next! 

(Their absolute favorite food right now is sweet potato fries... they literally eat them so fast I have yet to get a picture of them!)