March 30, 2013

March 28, 2013

FEEDING the Twins

Feeding my little ones is an art.  I wish this was a post about how I just whip out my boobs and tandem feed my twins like a rockstar, but it's not.  You see, the double My Brest Friend isn't getting much action these days.  As I mentioned before, I hoped and planned to breastfeed but {sadly} it just didn't work out physiologically and psychologically for me.  Why do I feel like I'm being judged as I type this?  Yes, the guilt still lingers and yes, I'm still a good mommy {a GREAT one, in fact}.  I'm no less of a mommy because I don't breastfeed and my twins are as healthy as can be.  I'm not any less close to my kiddos and {as a wise friend said} children never grow up and say, "Thank you for breastfeeding me, mommy."

All that to say, if breastfeeding is your forte and you have the luxury of NOT toting bottles and formula everywhere you go...congrats {seriously}!  That's amazing.  And to the twin/triplet mommas out there that are able to breastfeed, you are my hero.  Straight up.

In the beginning, I was going to hold my babies when I fed them {gosh, darn it}!  I once tried feeding Bennett in his nap nanny.  This was followed by crying on my part.  I mean, if I wasn't breastfeeding, I'll be damned if I wasn't holding my babies, one at a time, and gazing into their eyes during feedings.

HA {I now laugh at myself}!  That girl was a crazy, impractical fool.  This new baby thing is all about the mushy-gushy, lovey things but it's also about survival.  And I was NOT surviving hours of feeding screaming babies each day and it probably sucked for them too!!  Something had to give.  I had to figure out how I was going to feed Bennett and Clara at the same time...and fast.  When the twins were around 12 weeks old, we started something new and it was glorious.

Here's our routine:

First, I make sure my "tools" are ready: warmed bottles, bottle props, bibs, blankets {for extra support under the props} and bouncers {propped higher than usual, using the couch as a stabilizer}.  Proper preparation makes for less screaming.  Less screaming makes for happier mommies and babies.  Yes, please.

I start one baby about 5 minutes before the other, so that burping is staggered.  Once we get going, here's what the set-up looks like:

While it may look like you can easily run to the restroom, grab a coffee or watch an uninterrupted episode of Dance Moms, this just happens to be a peaceful moment {pretty sure they were showing off for you guys}.  It's important to stay close-by and monitor.  The bottle props WILL fall and your little ones WILL choke from time to time.  But it's okay, because you're right there to help.  I try to burp each baby twice during and once after feeds.  I also try to squeeze in clipping their nails and other grooming tasks that are difficult when they're being super wiggly.

Feeding them this way cuts my time {and stress} in half.  Most feedings take about 25 minutes and then I'm free to spend quality time with both of them.  Amazing.

March 26, 2013


In May 2012, Scott was diagnosed with thyroid cancer.  You can read more about his story HERE.

His 6-month check-up was in January.  The sonographer performed the ultrasound and then called the doctor in to review.  They found three areas of concern and ordered blood work.

The blood work would tell us Scott's thyroglobulin levels which we needed to come back as undetectable (0.5 or lower since he doesn't have a thyroid anymore).  Days later, we received the news...1.4.

He was given two options: 1) biopsy 2) wait it out until July to see which way things went (because radiation was still working on the tumors).  PLEASE.  For us the choice was obvious.

The biopsy was scheduled for March 12th (which at the time, seemed like an eternity away).  It was here before we knew it.  Unfortunately, from what Scott tells me it was pretty rough.  With ultrasound as a guide, they inserted long needles into Scott's neck and dug around in the lymph nodes to retrieve samples.  They did this over a dozen times.  No nothing.  Poor kiddo.

All that to say, we met with his endocrinologist this morning to talk over the results.  

The samples came from three different areas...two in the lymph nodes from the upper and lower neck and one in the thyroid bed. 

The good news?  The two lymph node areas they checked (for now) came back clean {PTL...if there had been cancer, he would've gone into surgery within the next few weeks}. 

The bad news?  There IS cancer growing in the thyroid bed...a small tumor at this time, but nonetheless, cancer.

What now?  More waiting...more praying.  Scott will be reevaluated in a few months.  They'll check all three areas for growth and will check his thyroglobulin levels again.  There's a chance it might stabilize; however, if there's growth and/or higher levels, they'll go in and remove the tumors and he'll do more radiation.

Our feelings are mixed.  We're relieved for the moment but of course concerned for what's to come.

You'd never know that Scott has cancer.  He doesn't look or act sick and doesn't have a chip on his shoulder.  He just lives day to day being the best husband and daddy he can possibly be.  He knows that ultimately God is in control.  God is BIG...WAY BIGGER than this cancer and because of that knowledge, there's hope and peace for total and complete healing.

We pray that by the time Bennett and Clara know what "sick" means, daddy won't be "sick" anymore.  Please join us in that prayer.

March 20, 2013

The Twins' NURSERY

One of the toughest rooms to plan is a shared room.  I learned this when I found out we were having boy/girl twins.  I wanted to design something gender neutral but colorful, using old and new pieces in different ways without spending a lot of money.  I think I accomplished just that.  It took quite a while (and a lot of helpers) for it to all come together but I'm thrilled with the results.

Way before I found out I was pregnant with the twins, I started looking at nursery ideas (thanks, Pinterest!!)  I found this room and loved the simplicity of it.  Claire's room became my inspiration for Bennett and Clara's nursery.

I didn't want to choose a theme, so I started out by choosing my fabric.  I immediately fell in love with Amy Butler: Cameo: Harriet's Kitchen in Sugar and went from there.

I knew all along that I wanted white Jenny Lind-style cribs and I found a FABULOUS deal on Amazon (LOOOOOVE Amazon)!!  Best of all?  They arrived within a few days with FREE shipping.  Did I mention I love Amazon???!!!  They were super simple to put together (thank you, Scott) and light-weight yet sturdy.  I'd buy them again in a heartbeat.  

One of the areas I really struggled with was the wall above the cribs.  I wasn't sure if I wanted to do names or not and a lot of the art I loved wasn't priced within my budget.  After digging around on Pinterest again, I decided I wanted to use embroidery hoops and left-over fabric.  I first surrounded the names with hoops but then it became too overwhelming.  After patching many nail holes in the wall, I came up with what you see here.  Both walls cost me less than $20!!  Less really was more...

I wanted to add some personal details to bring in a little bit of Scott and myself.  The yellow dress is the dress I came home from the hospital in 31 years ago.  The porcelain shoes are ours with names, DOB, weight and length stats.  It's crazy that we both had these!  We found out that we also had the exact same baby books as well (and they're FABULOUSLY 80's) it!!

I purchased an old window at McKinney Trade Days not knowing where I'd use it.  I wanted a place to display pictures, so I stapled on some lace ribbon, grabbed some clothespins and voila!

These books are special because they are filled with parenting advice from family and friends.  I peek through them often!  Thanks everyone.

I looked and looked for something to put diapers, wipes and other changing table necessities in.  During one of my many pre-children "spend the day browsing Hobby Lobby" trips, I ran across these little gems.  Done and done.

Scott worked tirelessly on this piece for me (and the babies)!  It's a Broyhill dresser I've had since the teenage years that he stripped and stained.  We love how it turned out.

As a kindergarten teacher, I just had to display books somewhere...but in this crowded, shared room I was quickly running out of space.  Scott and I found these picture shelves at IKEA and they were just the right size.  Win!

I'm constantly on Etsy looking for things I don't need.  I had heard about  the shop The Wheatfield by Katie Daisy and wanted to check it out.  The only problem that I ran into was that I wanted EVERYTHING.  I narrowed it down to 2 prints and loved them even more in person! 

Have you noticed the 2 GORGEOUS quilts?  My extremely talented mother-in-law spent countless hours working on them for Bennett and Clara.  They will surely enjoy them for years to come.  Thank you, Nana!

Well, that's the tour.  While I'm sure it's far from finished, I can honestly say that this room was pieced together with love.  I hope you've enjoyed it!!

Paint: Valspar Crystalline 5002-9A
Cribs: DaVinci Jenny Lind Crib
Crib Bedding/Quilts: made with love by Joni Burchett
Zipper Sheets: Clouds and Stars QuickZip
Armoir: from our master bedroom set
Dresser: from childhood, refinished by Scott
Knobs: Anthropologie Dotted Zinnia Knobs
Chair: Treasure Recliner at Buy Buy Baby
Artwork: The Wheatfield by Katie Daisy 
Door Sign: LoveStorey Creations
Book Shelves: IKEA RIBBA White Picture Ledge
Sheer Curtains: IKEA MATILDA Sheer Curtains
Baskets: Smith & Hawken at Target
Lamp Base: Threshold Acrylic Base at Target
Lamp Shade: Threshold Flocked Yellow Lamp Shade at Target
Accent Table: Home Goods
Wooden Drawers: Hobby Lobby
Rocking Horse: consignment find

March 19, 2013

My TOP 20

As I mentioned in my last post, my start to being a first-time momma of twins wasn't the easiest.  I'm certainly not an expert; however, here's a list of some products that have been extremely helpful to me:

My kiddos struggle with reflux, so these angled, snuggly bassinets were the way to go!  There are several different styles to choose from.  I kept 2 by my bed until we moved them into their room at 8 weeks.  We transitioned them to their cribs fairly easily at 12 weeks.  These were life-savers!  

#2 Nap Nanny
These were recalled due to deaths from improper use.  It's a shame really because my twins napped in these for the first 12 weeks.  Again, with reflux, they saved us.  Hopefully, you have a friend or family member that was able to snag one of these gems before they were all gone.  If so, borrow one!!!  Such a fabulous product when used correctly!

So, yeah...this is one of those things I thought I wouldn't need.  For twins, I recommend 2.  These swings help us survive the dreaded witching hour (which for us, is anywhere from 5-7pm).  Bennett loved his swing right away but Clara didn't like hers until about 8 weeks. 

This bouncer is the best!  Just read the reviews online.  My kids are just now starting to enjoy them but we've used the bouncer without the arch the whole time.  There are so many neat, moving parts and the glowing waterfall is mesmerizing.  There's also a less annoying nature setting that is calming for both babies and momma.  For twins, I had to have 2 bouncers; especially when I'm home alone and wish I had 4 arms.  I mostly use them to keep the kids upright for 15-20 minutes after feeds (again, reflux).

AMAZING.  We have 2.  The arch comes out and lays flat on the ground for tummy time and the piano sits upright for when the kids are sitting up on their own.  This was the first toy my kiddos BOTH loved and want to play with independently everyday (for at least 15 minutes at a time)!  Bennett couldn't stand lying on his back until he met his piano.  It was love at first sight.  He wasn't much of a kicker but now he kicks his little heart out!  He's very violent on this's hilarious.  Clara, on the other hand, is a very dainty piano player.  I LOVE seeing the differences in my kiddos!!

We started out with an adorable, traditional Skip Hop gym, but my kiddos never liked it.  There went $75 down the drain!  I tried and I tried (for weeks) but it just wasn't a big hit in our house.

My kiddos are coming up on 4 months and are still swaddled for naps and nighttime.  Bennett especially.  After about 1-1.5 hours of awake time, he starts whining to be swaddled.  It calms him almost instantly.  These swaddles are fast and easy.  I'd get 3 in each size for each kiddo you have.  

NOTE: Be careful what you wash them with.  The velcro sticks to everything. 

Ah yes, pacifiers.  Scott and I didn't want to use them because we didn't want our kiddos to depend on them to soothe themselves.  Ha!  About 2 days after the twins came home, all of that changed.  We love the Wubbanubs and so do Bennett and Clara.  They like to grab onto them and they're easy for us to keep track of.  The others are always getting lost.

We prefer the travel-size Sleep Sheep (or giraffe).  The sounds are calming and help my kiddos fall asleep and stay asleep longer. 

A double-camera monitor was essential for us.  This one is a bit pricey but we've loved it so far.  It's easy to set up and move around the house (if needed).  Many of my friends recommended Motorola after their Summer brand monitors broke.

I'm not going to lie, these bibs are a small fortune...about $10 each...but I LOVE them.  We probably own about 15 at this point.  They're large, super absorbent without being bulky and snap in the back.  They fit closely (but not too close) and help avoid multiple outfit changes throughout the day.  I keep them on my kiddos after every feeding until we swaddle them.

The picture tells all. literally suck the snot out of your baby's nose.  It will FREAK YOU OUT but it works WAAAAAY better than the bulb syringe.  The filter prevents anything from reaching your mouth...promise!  This helps get the hard to reach boogers, is awesome with a little saline for congestion and comes in handy when Clara's spit up comes out of her nose.  We carry this everywhere we go.

People told us not to buy cutesy anything for our kiddos for at least the first 3 months.  We listened, but still bought a few things.  BIG MISTAKE.  Do you know what else is a mistake?  Snaps.  Especially if you're changing 2 babies 8-10 times per day each (and it's even harder in the dark at night!!).  So, if seasonally appropriate, zip-up one-piece PJs are (in my opinion) the only way to go.  I recommend 5 to 7 newborn per child and 5 to 7 3-month per child.  That may sound like not enough but I ended up grabbing the favorites all the time and many complicated, 2 to 3 piece outfits were never even worn.

Breastfeeding was my intention all along but it just didn't work out for me and my babies.  I won't go into the details, let's just say that they would cry, I would cry and supply-wise/mentally I wasn't up for the challenge to continue.  They got mostly pumped breastmilk for 2 months until the demand got too high for me to physically keep up with.

For the first 2 months, we used Tommee Tippee and were pretty happy with the results.  Right at the 2 month mark, Bennett and Clara's reflux peaked and they were projectile vomiting every meal.  We went to the doctor and switched bottles, formula and meds.  We noticed a difference within a week or so and (though they have many parts) have been happy with Dr Brown's.

Our little preemies started on Similac NeoSure and then switched to Gerber Good Start Gentle.  We tried Clara on Similac Alimentum (hypoallergenic and a FORTUNE) but didn't see any changes in her discomfort or reflux issues.  When the projectile vomiting peaked, our doctor wanted us to try Gerber Good Start Soothe.  We don't know if it was the change in bottles, formula or medicine but we did see improvement, so we stuck with it.

My little buddy Bennett (that just happens to be in my arms right now) has eczema.  We're hoping he grows out of it but in the mean-time, these 2 products have helped us control it.  Once or twice a week, I use the hydrocortisone cream (it's the strong stuff) and I use the moisturizing cream daily.  It's a vicious cycle though...just when you think it's gone, it comes back with a vengeance.   We tried a few different products, but these seem to work best for Bennett.  

I swear, I shove a bzillion of these things in our diaper bag each week.  They're so much easier and less messy than squirt bottles.  We love them.

Yes, it's cheap and unattractive compared to many strollers on the market today but it's also light-weight and folds easily with a ton of cargo space below.  If you go this route, make sure you get the latest model so that your car seats fit properly.  Do you see how the seat closest to the handles is higher?  This is the much improved model.  My Chicco KeyFit 30 seats fit perfectly.  Soon my kiddos will be big enough for our "fancy" stroller...the Baby Jogger City Select.  I can't wait to try it out!  

NOTE: The Baby Jogger City Select does have adaptors that make it compatible with car seats but we liked the weight and ease of the Snap 'n' Go to start with.  The Snap 'n' Go is a more indoor-friendly stroller and isn't too great for bumpy terrain...including sidewalks.

I always thought I'd want a fancy $300+ bag but then I fell in love with the Skip Hop Duo and the Skip Hop Double Duo.  They're still cute and functional but easy to clean with bzillions of pockets.  Yes, please.  This is a great size for moms of twins or mommas with more than one kiddo.  It has a shoulder strap and stroller clips and opens wide.  And yes, I've become the mom without a purse that just shoves her wallet in the diaper bag.  Boom.

I was never...I repeat...never...going to prop a bottle.  Why not?  Because the nurse teaching my baby care class told me not to.  Well, here's the deal:  when you have 2 awake, hungry babies that cry to be fed and then cry after feedings because they want to be held and there's just one of you...something has got to give.  Just think...1 hour of crying x 7-8 feedings per day.  You do the math.  After weeks of screaming, I gave in and it's was one of the best decisions I've made.  They now eat in 20-25 minutes (in their bouncers) while I sit in front of them, monitor and alternate burping.  It's quite a juggling act but a genius juggling act.  When I'm not home alone, of course we hold them during feedings but when I am, these are fabulous.  Worth every penny.

#20 Apothic Red Wine
I feel that one of the injustices of pregnancy is that you can't have a drink when you need it the most.  Little did I know that I would need it more once the kiddos arrived.  I use "need" lightly.  Let's just say it's nice to have a glass or 2 once in a while...especially after the kids are down for the night.  I also use "down for the night" lightly.  For us, that means until 4 or 5am.  Hey, we're working on it! 

For all the mommas reading out there, your Top 20 is probably completely different!  These are just a few of the things that help keep me sane with 2 (nearly) 4-month olds in the house. 

Scott researches nearly everything before purchasing and over time, he's rubbed off on me.  Many of these items come highly recommended from other users (especially #20).  I hope you find this information helpful.  If you have any product(s) that you can't live without, please let me know!