May 31, 2015

What We Did Last Week (Week of 5/25/15)

Jules is all better and this week was really great. We had a Memorial Day BBQ at our house and the girls got to hang with a lot of family, play with their cousin and go in the pool. We got to spend lots of time outside, Viv is sleeping better because she's so mobile now and they're full of smiles. While life is definitely getting crazier it's also a lot more fun!


We watched a thunderstorm out the window then went out and felt the rain and looked for a rainbow and they splashed in their first puddle! We also spent a lot of evenings taking walks with Daddy or just hanging out in the yard.


We did hard and soft sensory bins. They really enjoyed dumping them out and I helped them sort them back in while describing the items to them. We banged things together and talked about how the hard toys were loud and the quiet toys were soft.

Music, Movement and Games

This week I was feeling super sappy so we listened to my Parenting Love Songs Playlist on Spotify a lot. I also discovered some children's stories playlists and those were fun to listen to, at least for me.

Viv is full on crawling everywhere and we've moved on to pulling up and scooting so we spend a lot of time doing that. Now we're working on crawling encouragement with Jules. She tries to catch Viv but can't get the mechanics yet.

We brought out the tunnel for the first time this week and Viv loved it! 

Favorite Toys

Medela bottle caps - I don't know what it is about these things but they will happily play with them forever. They chew on them and clap them together, drop them in cups or bowls and shake them. I have like 20 from all the pump parts I got over time and never thought we'd get this much use out of them!

Books - They are starting to look at books! They chew on them more but if I set some out and watch they will pick them up, flip through the pages and actually look at things now.

Crinkly Bear & Fox - These Boppy toys have been in their play area forever and they never really paid attention to them. This week though they both discovered them and now they're in the cribs half the time because they just love to rub and chew on them.

Water bottles - We NEVER have water bottles in the house thanks to our awesome Life Factory glass bottles but we picked up a big pack for our BBQ and ended up having a ton left over. We used them this week and the girls were obsessed with them. I swear they made Viv finally learn to crawl because if I had one, she wanted it.

Favorite Books

They discovered the touchy-feely parts of their Farm Animals book this week so we've been reading that a lot! They also are loving the Peek-a-Boo book with all the pictures of babies! They start giggling and reaching out for them as soon as I open it. 


May 30, 2015

Ten Months!

Well our babies are growing up!

We had a great month full of visits with family and friends, trying tons of new foods and having tons of fun outside.

This month Vivienne learned how to crawl, they both learned how to sit up and get down on their own, they're pulling up on the tables and couch too! Viv learned how to stand in her crib too so we had to lower the mattresses. That was quite the surprise for me when I peaked in to check on them and found her standing tall and smiling proud!
I'm so not ready for this! 

We learned how to clap, Jules is babbling all the time and even saying Mama (although I'm not calling it her first word until she says it and really means it). Viv is following suit finally in the last week but her favorite is babababa!

Sleep has been up and down all month as some nights they sleep through and others they are up several times. Jules has started having nightmares which breaks my heart. Luckily she is able to be calmed with a snuggle and kisses and sometimes nursing but she goes right back to sleep after.

Vivienne now has EIGHT teeth and Jules is right behind her with six!

Jules' favorite foods are peaches, pears, peas, carrots and cheese. Viv's are blueberries, raspberries, chicken, green beans and asparagus. They both love yogurt, turkey, avocado and apple sauce. We tried pickles, hamburger, pasta, meatballs, eggplant, pizza, zucchini, pancakes, sausage, bacon, black beans, pinto beans and chickpeas. They love trying new foods! We are still nursing 5 times a day and at least once at night too.

They each weigh just over 16 lbs. and are about 27 inches tall.

There was one not so fun part of our month when Jules spiked a really high (almost 105) fever overnight one night that resulted in a rush to the ER. Because she has Hydronephrosis any time she has a fever she needs to have a catheter urinalysis to rule out a UTI. So after that and a blood draw we were really hoping it was something else. I never thought I'd hope my child had an ear infection or some other sickness, but in this case I just pray it wasn't another UTI. It wasn't, turns out she had Roseola! She's all better now and was quite wonderful through the whole thing despite not feeling great!

We had our first dinner out with Daddy's family at Wolf's 1-11 and the girls did fantastic! They loved all the attention and had so much fun!

My first Mother's Day was absolutely perfect. Daddy got up with the girls and had a beautiful photo book made for me as well as a gift certificate to a spa!  I spent the day with my own Mom and sister and then came home for lots of snuggle time with the girls that made me a mama.

It was a great month! Now we're on to planning a first birthday party! Still can't believe it!


May 29, 2015

My Best Tips for a Happy and Healthy {Twin} Pregnancy

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links.

The hardest parts about being pregnant with twins (aside from the initial shock and figuring out how you'll afford it) are making sure that you eat and drink enough, stay active and get enough rest. Some days, even in the beginning, the exhaustion and pain were so bad that I could barely sweep the floor after lunch at the daycare without needing to sit down. I was constantly starving and thirsty which led to feeling nauseous even though I didn't really have morning sickness. Growing two babies almost literally took everything I had and it was a full time job just keeping myself as healthy possible and staying sane at the same time.

So, how exactly do you take the best care of yourself and your babies? Read on to find out.

Eat. Eat Everything (good for you) and All The Time:

Everyone knows that pregnant women eat a lot but when you're carrying two it's insane how much and how often you need to eat. My body was giving everything to my babies and no matter how much I ate I still struggled to gain enough weight, at least according to Dr. Luke and the book When You're Expecting Twins, Triplets or Quads. While I love this book there were times where I felt like no matter how much I did I could not keep up with how much I should have been eating. The overwhelming message of this book though is truth - Eat. Eat. Eat! As long as you're eating healthily (read: do not live on soda, chips or other crap, you will feel like crap) majority of the time you cannot eat too much. Do not give one second of thought to the people or even doctors who warn you about gaining too much weight. As Dr. Luke points out - you cannot gain too much with twins - every pound is building stronger, healthier babies!

I needed to eat every two hours or nausea would set in. Once that happened I could only stomach crackers until it passed. I couldn't just eat anything either, I craved protein, dairy and carbs like crazy.

Here's What I Ate:

Every morning I would have oatmeal or eggs, sausage or bacon, a bagel or toast and a banana plus one of my protein packed smoothies (find the recipe here).

Two hours later I would have a "snack" that usually consisted of trail mix, a cheese stick, peppers or carrots and an apple or grapes.

Lunch would be a tuna, egg, pb&j or grilled cheese sandwich or a chicken and veggie quesadilla or burrito with a huge salad, a protein shake and berries or a banana.

Two hours later another snack of a granola bar, yogurt, cheese and crackers or whatever the kids at daycare were having.

Dinner was grown man portions of chicken, fish, pasta or whatever we were having with lots of steamed veggies and always a few pieces of bread and butter.

Two hours later another snack although it was more of a dessert with either ice cream or fruit and yogurt or a bowl of cereal.

You're probably thinking how the hell did she eat that much. I did, and then some. And, despite eating all this I still found myself snacking again around 11pm and waking up starving at 7am. I kept crackers in my nightstand my entire pregnancy for the middle of the night and early morning hunger so the nausea wouldn't hit before I got a chance to eat something real.

When I developed gestational diabetes it was harder to eat as much while watching my carb intake but I just swapped out the cereal, juice, some of the fruit and bread for more yogurt, cheese, veggies and protein. I started eating beans which I had always hated. I limited myself to just one slice of pizza and left the crust but followed it with a salad. My numbers stayed low but I still felt full and satisfied. Contrary to what a lot of women (including myself) think at first, GD is not the end of the world.

The bottom line is to eat, eat, eat. Even when you don't feel like you could or should eat anymore - eat. You are feeding three people and your body is taking everything good from you to give to your babies so give it what it needs!

Drink. Like Water is Going Out of Style:

Years before I was pregnant a friend of mine was hospitalized while pregnant for dehydration. She got really sick and needed to be monitored constantly afterwards. This terrified me as every time I had seen her she had her water bottle with her. I worried so much about remembering to drink enough water but when it came down to it I didn't really have to force it. I was so thirsty all the time and felt like I could never quench it. I drank over 200 oz. of water a day. So much that my LifeFactory Glass Water Bottle became my little side kick and the kids at the daycare would drop everything and rush it over to me if I forgot it somewhere.

I would wake up in the middle of the night to pee and feel so parched I'd down a full 8 oz. knowing full well I would be needing to pee again in an hour. It didn't matter though, I knew that this was one of the most important things I could do . They're not kidding when they say water is one of the most important parts of a healthy pregnancy. According to What To Expect drinking enough water helps your body absorb all the vital nutrients, bulks up the amniotic fluid and keeps the pipes running clean, which is ever so important when you digestive tract slows down and things start to get uncomfortable. Even many of those dreaded pregnancy symptoms - headaches, nausea, overheating and fatigue can be helped by drinking enough water. You don't have to give up your morning coffee and you can have a juice or a soda a day if you really need it but it is absolutely vital that you drink water all day, every day. I swear my constant consumption of H2O is one of the reasons my pregnancy wasn't an absolute nightmare. So drink, drink, drink your weight in water! And when you feel like you can't possibly drink anymore, drink some more. Your baby and your body will thank you, even though your bladder might not!

Move. Stay Active as Often and as Long as You Can:

Ok, this one was tough for me. I am not huge into fitness as it is so when I found out that I should be "working out" at least 3 times a week while pregnant I felt a little anxious. Some days I was too tired to move, how was I supposed to get up and work out? Well, the sad truth is I never really did. But, I did stay as active as I could. I worked in daycare so I was up and down and moving all around right up until I left my job at 6 months. Unless you've done it you can't possibly know how physically demanding it can be caring for 12 munchkins. I was more than active enough to feel like I didn't really need to do scheduled work outs. Same goes if you've got older kids at home!

When I left work I made it a point to do stretches, yoga and walking every day, even if just for 10 minutes. It was a struggle towards the end but I really did feel better when I was moving around. Also, even just a five minute walk around the block helped manage the diabetes and keep my numbers low. I was honest with my Doctors and they understood my limitations but encouraged me to do as much as I could. I downloaded prenatal yoga sessions and would use those to unwind after a long day. I stretched every morning before work which helped with back and muscle aches. When it all became too much I considered walking from the couch to the fridge a work out because carrying around the added 35 lbs. certainly made it feel like one! Do what you can,but don't feel too bad if it's not much!

Rest. Again, as Often and as Much as You Can:

It's a sad truth that enough sleep is tough to attain while pregnant despite the fact that you face many months of sleep deprivation after baby arrives. Even very early on hormonal changes make your body go crazy causing some lovely sleep disruptions like nausea, heartburn, back aches and needing to pee every hour. Add to this the strain of a growing belly in the later months and it can be almost impossible to fall and stay asleep. I invested very early on in a pregnancy pillow that I still consider to be a lifesaver. Sure, you could just use a regular pillow or a body pillow but I swear by the Snoogle Total Body Pillow by Leachco. It was absolutely perfect for me. It cradled my belly, supported my back and head and ensured I woke up well rested all the way through the end.

Night sleep isn't all that matters either. It is vital that you are physically resting your body during the day too. I had the luxury of having a job that not only kept me active enough but also allowed me to rest. Oh, rest time, one of the true joys of working daycare. Every day from 12-3 the babes went to sleep and I was lucky enough to have a boss and assistant who understood how important it was for me to rest so I took a cat-nap while the kiddies slept and they kept watch. The parents all knew, several of them walked in on me snuggling my niece or another child and no one ever complained - they knew I was growing two people!

If you don't have a job where you can really take a nap, talk to your boss about how important it is to rest and see about just laying down on a couch for 15 minutes or going to your car to recharge in the middle of a busy day. Getting enough rest is just as important as eating, drinking and exercising enough, especially towards the end when just walking up a flight of stairs is enough to wipe you out!  Catch a few zzzs whenever and wherever you can and do not ever feel guilty if the most you can do is walk from the bed to the couch, especially in those later months.

Bonus Tip: Take Your Vitamins!

One more thing just for good measure: Take a good prenatal. I found that the ones prescribed by my Doctor made me nauseous and I hated taking them until I discovered the wonder of a food based vitamin called Rainbow Light Prental One Multivitamin. I swear they gave me more energy, helped keep the nausea at bay and kept me feeling good! I still take them as often as I can remember to help get the girls all their essential vitamins and nutrients while we nurse.


Carrying twins can sometimes feel like a never ending uphill battle where your own needs constantly take a back seat to theirs. But if you eat, drink, move and rest enough I promise you that not only will your babies be stronger and healthier, but you too will feel better and hopefully have an easier pregnancy. Well, as easy as carrying two could possibly be!

What are some of your tips for a happy healthy pregnancy?



May 27, 2015

So Much Baby Stuff and We Can't Even Give It Away!

I cannot even walk into my dining room right now it is that full of so much baby gear and stuff. I'm talking 9 months worth of clothes, toys, receptacles, mementos and, well, crap. It's insane. CJ spent last night reorganizing the mess but really he just piled it all up so high that I need to barricade the girls in the living room for fear they will roll on in and get crushed. Thankfully our neighborhood garage sale is coming up and I get to purge and then donate everything because I've tried listing it on Craigslist and Facebook and have no takers. So frustrating!!!

Staring at it today I realized just how ridiculous it all is. Having a baby is kind of like getting married in that there's all this pressure these days to go big or go home. The truth is so many of those brand new and often expensive so-called "baby necessities" are worthless after a few months, if you're lucky, some only get used for a few weeks! And yet people are so hesitant to buy used items for their new baby. We just keep adding to the waste when we have to have the newest and greatest baby gear invention or bust.

We did what we could to save money by taking hand-me-downs, buying at garage sales and asking friends and family to donate their left over gear to us but we still ended up with so much unnecessary junk that is now just taking up precious space in our tiny apartment. Obviously it's moreso for us because we have twins but so much of this stuff is so big I know that singleton parents feel the same way.

Take for example the receptacles.We had at one point two bouncy chairs, two rock and plays, two boppy pillows, two boppy chairs, two playnests, two jumpers/exersaucers and a twin size pack and play. What the what? Was all that really necessary? Well, yeah, I guess so, considering babies grow like freaking weeds and what they fit into last week they can't use the following week. Thank god we didn't buy it all new but what's sad is that the resale value is nowhere near what it could be. And don't even get me started on the clothes. I have probably $500 worth of brand new clothes that fit them for like a second but I can't even get $5 (including shipping!) for the cute matching onesies in a multiples resale group without bumping and flashing it every other day. Yet you know these parents won't hesitate to drop $25 on the exact same set in the store. Just because it's new with tags!?!

I get it, there's something about the newness of a baby that makes you feel like you need to keep everything fresh and clean and, well, new. I felt the same way at first and hesitated on buying so many adorable lots of second hand baby clothes citing this very reason but as we neared the end and I was garage saleing I just could not pass up so many cute finds! The tiny yet beautiful dresses that looked brand new for $3 that retail for $30. I just had to stock up on the pants for .50 each and bought 20 of them! And of course there were the practically new shoes and jackets for $1 a piece. I once came home with a garbage bag full of new-looking dresses, shorts, bodysuits, headbands and socks for $10!!! Just last week my mom and I went to carter's and spent almost $100 on two bathing suits, two pairs of sunglasses and 3 outfits each. Ugh. Did my kids know the difference? Were they judging me when I dressed them in hand-me-downs today? What's worse, if I try to resell any of it I'll get the same (if anything) for the hand-me-downs as I would for the brand new stuff!

There's something wrong here.

I see perfectly good strollers, car seats, cribs, changing tables, monitors, toys, everything, practically brand new, sitting on swap sites at deeply discounted prices for months and then watch as people go and register for these exact same items for hundreds of dollars more in the store. Why do we allow the baby companies to do this to us? Why are we made to feel less than if we can't afford brand new or simply want to save a bit, you know to maybe actually spend on our children rather than their stuff?  Why do we force our relatives and friends to take their hard earned dollars and spend it on new gear when they would be much happier picking up a cute outfit or some toys or books for our little one?  And worse, why are we not helping out a fellow Mama and putting some cash back in her pocket instead of the big box companies???

It's not like there isn't an abundance of barely used baby gear in the world. It's not like people want to throw away hundreds of dollars on something they'll use for 3 months. It's just what society tells us we're supposed to do. And what's even sadder is that when they aren't able to resell it so many people just throw it away, despite the fact that there are tons of people out there in need. Did you know the Salvation Army won't take baby gear? What is that about?! I get sick when I drive around and see perfectly good items out on the street for trash pick-up when they could easily be donated somewhere. We decided that everything that doesn't sell at the garage sale is getting donated to the local church or posted as free on Facebook and I am determined to make sure it all goes to people who need it. I know we'll likely lose a lot of what it's all worth but I can't hold on to it any more hoping someone will come along and pay that much for it. Because people just don't do that.

If I had to I'd say there are only two things that you really have to buy new before baby is born:


That's it! And that's not even true if you're using cloth!

Everything else can be washed, deep cleaned, repaired or repurposed! Yes, even car seats, although I highly recommend only getting these used from someone you know and trust. People lie about accidents and it is not safe to use one after it's been in an accident. But other than that, why are we not regifting and reusing EVERYTHING?

There is absolutely no reason why every single brand new mom needs to have every single brand new baby item. Bottles and pacifiers can be washed and sterilized - ours are 9 months old and I just hand washed and boiled them all and they look brand new. But instead of getting even half of the $100 I spent on them I'll be giving them away because no one wants used bottles.

Crib sheets? Come on! People balk at used crib sheets!? Dude, unless a baby had a poosplosion of epic staining proportions or tore the sheet to bits I see no reason why a hot wash and maybe a dunk in some diluted bleach wouldn't take care of any problems. But no, it's better to go drop $25 for a pack of two at BRU. I could see if they were made of high quality egyptian silk and came with a guarantee that baby would sleep through the night on them or whatever but it's freaking cotton and not even nice cotton at that!

And don't even get me started on the furniture. People can't even GIVE changing tables away. Why would we rather drop $150 on a brand spanking new piece of wood that will literally be used for 8 months before baby learns to alligator death roll off it than just borrow our neighbors? Because we're worried they'll think we're cheap? Because theirs may have some remnants of poo and pee that are invisible to the naked eye? Because baby will silently judge us for daring to change her precious bum where some other baby's bum was (although you could just buy a new pad!)? It's ridiculous!

Two of my close friends are having babies at the end of the summer. Do you know how badly I want to just give them all of my things? Yes, I mean as shower gifts. Don't worry, I KNOW that's taboo. I KNOW I can't do it.  I am too proud to ever do it considering the side-eye I'd apparently be opening myself up to. I mean, I can give them these things, just not as gifts, it has to be a donation - despite the fact that most of the items are practically new.

Boppy pillows? Everyone wants one. I have two. I used them for about 5 months and have washed them - they're like new but I can't give them as gifts and won't get anywhere near the $30 they cost in store for them.

Mobiles? Again, I have two. Used each for about 6 months, they are completely like new and with brand new batteries too. Can't even give 'em away.

One of the four diaper bags I received? It's never even been used, I just took the tags off. Can't give it because it has no tags.

Playnests that we used for 3 months? Can't even tell they were ever even sat in. But I can't give them because, again, there's no box! Tried selling them for less than half of what they cost and got no takers. Insane.

So I have to go out and spend money I don't have on brand new items I know my friends don't even really need when I have a house full of the exact same things. I'm not cheap (actually I am, we're poor) but please don't misunderstand: it's not that I don't want to give my friends' babies nice things (of course I do!) it's just that I already HAVE the nice things that are practically off the shelf, they just don't come with the tags and receipts so I can't give them! It sucks. Just because society thinks that all brand new babies need all brand new stuff. Honestly, this is a big part of what's wrong with the world. We're so wasteful but made to feel like we don't have any other choice.

We did fall prey to it to an extent, but mostly for practical reasons. We bought new cribs because I needed two that would fit side by side in a teeny tiny room and that they could grow into. We bought a new changing table because I couldn't find one that was a dresser too for cheaper than what I found new. Family and friends gifted us new car seats because who the hell has two car seats to just give away?

But - my kids wear used cloth diapers and clothes all the time.

Their crib sheets are all used except for the 2 that family got us.

Almost every toy they have was picked up at a garage sale or was originally my niece's.

I accepted everything anyone gave me without even once thinking, ewwww that's gross. Sure, we have received toys that are nasty, covered in old food or who-knows-what but I just give them a scrub and they're like new. Some diapers and clothes have stains on them - did you know the sun does an excellent job of removing those stains? Just lay them in the yard for a day and you're good to go. Hell, they spent the first four months of their lives sleeping in rock and plays that were used by my niece and boss's son three years ago! No, they're not the fancy brand new ones with the pillow top or the vibration but they're babies for god sake, they don't know the difference and we saved hundreds of dollars!

Ok, I'll get over this eventually, I know. I just wish things could be different. I wish there was a way to stop the madness and get rid of the stigma of used baby stuff. What's funny is that it all goes out the window at some point and it seems like the magic number is about one year old. After that everything is fair game. People who balked at buying used for their infant have no problem seeking out used toys, beds, clothes, shoes, backpacks, coats, etc. for their three year old.  Did we ever think that maybe, just maybe, if we didn't spend so much damn money in the first year that we could save towards these things for the future? I dunno, I'm crazy and I talk too much. And I'm done. Rant over.



May 25, 2015

What We Did Last Week (Week of 5/18/15)

Well last week was a little different than the past few. My poor Juliette cannot catch a break. After dealing with hydronephrosis, surgery, stent removal and a UTI we had a scare last weekend when she spiked a 104.5 fever at 2am on Sunday. We all rushed to the ER where she had blood drawn and a catheter urinalysis and, of course, everything came back clean. Just a virus they said. Piggyback motrin and tylenol they said. Ugh. As if being on antibiotics for the first 9 months of her life wasn't enough.

Well come Tuesday morning the fever had broken but she woke up with a lovely rash of red spots all over her body. Thanks to my researching eczema since she was a newborn I knew exactly what it was - roseola! It's a relatively common viral infection that she likely picked up at the grocery store two weeks ago. It's put a damper on our fun as she's been quite irritable and lethargic. But we still found a way to enjoy ourselves!

Nature/Outside Time

Early in the week it was cold, wet and windy out and with Jules not feeling well we didn't go outside much. So what do you do when you can't go outside and play? You bring the outside in! I took some flower, mushroom and hedgehog decals from their bedroom and added them to our revamped play area above their mirror so they could get a taste of outside.  We sat in my room with the windows wide open listening to the thunder and watching the rain fall outside the window. We watched the trees blow in the wind, whipping the leaves around. We took a bath with the windows open to get some sunshine on our skin. Finally it warmed up by Thursday and we went for a walk to the park. I got them in a swing for the first time and although they were a little unsure at first they loved it!


We played with our ball box a ton this week. We did bowling with lined up puffs containers and rolled the balls into them. We dropped balls into a bucket and listened to the sound. We filled up puffs containers with as many balls as we could, shook them and then dumped them out. We rolled balls into a coffee can and to each other (kind of!). We talked about the balls and used words to describe them like big, small, hard, soft, squishy, round, squeaky, bouncy, etc.  The girls love to pick up two of the small plastic ones and bang them into each other and onto things so we tried that with different objects to explore the different sounds.


Music, Movement and Games

Our favorite playlist this week is the Ultimate Toddler Playlist on Spotify. It's chock full of songs we all can enjoy like the Laurie Berkner Band, Frozen, The Wiggles and Kidz Bop. I also learned that some awesome bands that I love have covered kids songs like the Barenaked Ladies - 7,8,9 and The Verve Pipe - Cereal!

One of our favorite games this week was "What's that?" I put them in the middle of their play area with a few toys scattered around them and wait for them to reach out and grab something. When they did I would say, "What's that you got there?" and wait for a response, usually just a babble. Then I would explain what they had using descriptive words before naming the object: "It has a stick. It makes a sound. It lights up. It's your NogginStick!" or "It's round. It's blue. It's hard. It's a ball!"

I spent a lot of time holding and wearing Juliette this week since she was under the weather so we didn't do a ton of movement games but one of Viv's favorites was pushing things. She pushed her walking toy from one side of the room to the other, pushed her stool from the end of the play area to the wall and pushed my water bottle all the way under the couch (where it sat for 5 hours while I searched everywhere for it!)

Favorite Toys

Things That Go - They've discovered that they can push toys along the floor so they're loving our little firetruck and train. They will actually sit and move it all around themselves before it gets away from them!

Puffs Containers - I recycled our puffs containers and had no idea how much fun they would get out of them. First when I took off the labels and they got their hands on them. 45 minutes of crinkling, chewing and trading a simple piece of plastic (don't worry, everything gets washed and checked for choking hazards). They also love opening and closing the top and banging on it. When I put something inside they will shake it up and giggle at the sound.

Pillows and Books - I created a reading nook/cozy corner for them this week using two of our old pillows and a bookshelf we had. They love crawling/rolling over to the pillows and laying on them, patting them, staring at the patterns on the covers and snuggling down on them. Eventually they discovered the books and now they will sit happily and look at them while laying on the pillows.


Favorite Books

They're finally old enough to sit through longer and more complex books. I have loved these books ever since receiving them when they were just a few weeks old from my ever so thoughtful Auntie Jude. The "Little" Trio as I call it is three stories about Little Pea who doesn't like to eat candy, Little Hoot who doesn't want to stay up late and Little Oink who doesn't like to make messes. They are beautifully illustrated with each page containing fun things to do like counting toys or searching for things. Amy Krouse Rosenthal is a genius!

Jules is finally feeling better and we're looking forward to a great week next week!


May 23, 2015

Creating a Safe Baby Play Area in a Small Space

One of the first things we stressed over when we found out about the twins was where in the hell we were going to put them and all their stuff. Our apartment is itty-bitty. It was perfect for just the two of us but we could not picture how to fit two more people plus all the gear that comes with them. We sold a bunch of stuff, got a storage unit and are constantly rearranging to make things fit.

When they were newborns they obviously didn't require much space so their play area was a corner of the living room with a playmat and some bins of toys. Once they started rolling and getting mobile we needed to expand. We thought about using our dining room but it's right in the middle of the rest of the house, it's dark and it's where we keep all our crap that we can't store away, carefully piled up and out of the way. Don't worry we've got it barricaded most of the time by chairs!

So we cleared out a bookshelf and chair for the living room and  and although it took some time and serious reorganizing of all the junk I've acquired they finally have the perfect baby-friendly, safe, "yes" space that they can grow into for however long we are here (which I pray is only one more year). I've always loved the use of centers to organize playspaces in childcare settings so I definitely wanted to do that at home. I found that when things aren't organized and everything is easily accessible kids can get overwhelmed and actually bored very easily. I kept this in mind while organizing their space and it's really working out well!

Main Play Area:

We picked up a neutral colored rug and used an old bookshelf to define their area and organize their toys. The bottom shelf is for easy access to their favorite toys like stacking cups, soft shape box, wooden rattles, rings, etc. I rotate out two or three of the toys each week but the cups and rings are always there, they love them!

Above that is the less-used toys or things that come out when they're bored of their accessible toys. There is a bin full of all the teethers, rattles, small stuffed animals, rings, etc. we have that we use to rotate with a few toys on the first shelf every week.  I keep their play computers that make music, a box of blocks and a rainbow wheel up there too.

The top shelf is where I keep our loose parts so they're easily accessible for me but not for them. They have two bins of stuffed animals and baby dolls too. They can reach everything that's safe and that they enjoy and I can facilitate other play easily and seamlessly if I want to.

Physical Toys:

Opposite the shelf across the rug is the push walker they love and a chair. We don't have any stairs in our apartment so they use these to practice pulling up on. Sometimes I'll turn the push toy on to keep one busy while I'm changing the other's diaper. I also have a ball drop and a one of those push mowers that I'll rotate out when they are ready. I'd love to add a rocking boat or foam climbing toys someday too.


One of the first things I did after they came home was set up a mirror. Although it was months before they actually noticed it they still have fun playing in front of it, looking at themselves and each other and now they interact with it, "touching" their faces and banging toys on it. I recently decorated above it with decals to add another visible element.

In front of the mirror I keep their ball basket and a small bin of random toys to discover that I rotate out weekly. Lately it's been filled with caps, shakers, squeaky teethers and rings. Eventually I will stand the mirror up and add a dress up box and play kitchen here whenever we get our hands on one.

 Learning Center:

They love to sit at their name stools like little desks and bang and chew on the letters so I've turned this into a sort of learning area, where eventually I will set up invitations to play and learn. Even now at times I will add a puzzle, wooden blocks, play animals, or loose parts on a tray for them to discover and manipulate.

I keep things under the stools for them to discover and rotate them out monthly. This month it's crawling helpers like cars and a rolling thing and the peek-a-boo block shape box that they're loving lately.

Cozy Corner:

I recently created a reading nook/cozy corner opposite their play area, next to the couch. Vivienne kept crawling over here and pulling my books out from under the side table so I moved that and laid down a bookshelf for easy access for them. I put the baby-safe cloth books in the middle where they can reach them and our reading books on top along with the stacking boxes and alphabet and of course the cat. I added some stuffed animals to discover and snuggle and have caught them a few times rolling or crawling over and looking at the books.

So far it's working out great. We're working on the rest of the living room this weekend. So far we have taken out anything that could hurt them and put it up high, bolted our power strips to the wall, are tethering the tv and shelf and adding random books and toys on our tv stand in place of the pictures and dvds that used to be there. They now have one whole room that is a baby safe "yes" space so all I have to do is barricade (working on getting a gate too!) them in there and I don't have to worry about them getting hurt or getting into something they're not supposed to. Plus there's lots for them to explore and discover, things to pull up on and scoot around and the big bonus is they're not confined to a separate playroom so I can clean, fold laundry, do the dishes or even just relax all while they play safely and within eye and ear shot of me.  Turns out this big-family in a small-space living isn't half bad after all!

How did you organize your child's playspace?


May 21, 2015

100 Things About Me for My 100th Post!

What a big week this is for me and my little blog. This is officially my 100th post! I never thought I'd make it this far and I'm so happy I finally found a way to enjoy my love for writing and share my thoughts with the world (or the 20 or so people who stumble upon this in a week).
I also found out that I got approved to be listed on Top Mommy Bloggers! I am so excited! See that badge over on the right side? Click on it every time you visit to help increase my ranking! I'm still trying to figure out all the logistics of this whole blogging thing (including how to customize my page, use affiliate links and get more followers) but for now I'm just happy that someone thought I was good enough to be counted among some of my own favorite bloggers! Shameless plug time! If you like what you see then click the picture <<<<< or the badge to the right and help me out!

And now on to the real reason for this post. In honor of hitting my 100th post and sticking to this for over a year I thought I'd share some more information about me! I could only come up with 50 so far *hangs head in shame but then realizes that my life is insane and I'm lucky to have come up with that many* so without further ado here's Part 1 of My 100 Things!

1. I have super long eyelashes and stick straight hair that are both dark brown.
2. I have a lazy eye. For real. People say they don't notice it but I don't see how that's possible since I see it every time I look in the mirror.
3. I have a phobia of pipes in the ceiling, specifically in basements or bathrooms above me. I will not use a bathroom if the drop ceiling is missing a tile.
4. I believe in astrology. I believe I am a true Gemini and that CJ (Sagittarius) and I, as opposite star signs, are meant to balance each other out.
5. I hated my name until I was 18 and went away to college where I decided to own it. Now I love it.
6. I seem to be capable of only having one best friend that I throw everything in to rather than a bunch of friends.
7. I have a sister without whom I would be lost. We hated each other until about 6 years ago though.
8. I love to play Assassin's Creed on Xbox. My favorite is Revolution.
9. My parents split up when I was 21. It was a better late than never, stay-together-for-the-kids situation.
10. On the last day of my junior year I threw a gym lock at my ex-boyfriend's ex-girlfriend for calling me names in gym. She tried to hit me and I got rescued by a big guy while people cheered for me.
11. I have 20 first cousins. I wish I was closer with more of them.
12. I stopped believing in the Catholic "God" almost instantly after we began attending church.
13. I was a Nanny for three years for a widow and her two young children and it was the best experience of my life until I had kids of my own.
14. I have two cats named Boots and Willow but I miss my yorkie Libby so much all the time.
15. I was dead set on naming my daughter Ella until I got pregnant with twins and instantly hated it.
16. My engagement ring is a family heirloom from 1936 given to CJ's great grandmother Mary Rita Lyter by her beau Bernard Spahn.
17. I love to research family history and have traced parts of our families back all the way to Quebec in the 1750s.
18.  My favorite way to pass time is to drive around blaring loud music, singing along and smoking cigarettes. Unfortunately real life has made it so I haven't been able to do that in years.
19. When I was 17 I thought I had borderline personality disorder. Turns out I just had teen angst and had watched Girl, Interrupted one too many times.
20. Sometimes when I hear a really loud bang outside I will think it is the T-Rex from Jurassic Park and look for water rippling in my glass.
21. I threw a puppy off my back balcony when I was three years old. I distinctly remember wondering what would happen to him, and myself, if I did it and doing it anyway.
22. In third grade I told a Jewish girl who was making fun of me that it was no wonder my people did what they did to her people. I still have no idea what I meant by "my" people and am horrified and sad when I think about it.
23. I used to love to read but ever since getting pregnant a year and a half ago I've only read half of two books.
24. My favorite authors are Jodi Picoult, Jennifer Weiner and Stephen King. I loved the Hunger Games and am going to start the Dark Tower series if I ever get around to reading again.
25. My favorite color has been blue for as long as I can remember.
26. I got my first crush when I was nine and liked the same boy until I was 19 and finally realized we were better off as friends anyway.
27. I have started writing four novels in the last 15 years and have yet to get past chapter one.
28. I used to be such an insane worrier to the point where that I could induce a panic attack over thinking about something that would likely never happen. I got tired of living that way so I stopped and life is better.
29. People always think my sister is the older one because she's always been taller and then she went and had a baby before I did.
30. I was six months pregnant for my 30th birthday.
31. I was obsessed with Hanson. Not BSB. Not NSync. Hanson all the way. Especially Taylor.
32. I stole and "altered" a poem from a girl I was friends with online way back in the Diary-X days and posted it to my own journal. She handed me my ass over it and basically "unfriended" me. I deserved it.
33. My parents "made up" my name when they fell in love with the name Megan but hated the nickname Meg thanks to a girl they worked with at their sub shop. They thought Maigen would guarantee no one would ever call me Meg. Guess what my own sister calls me?
34. I'm horribly two faced and love telling other people's secrets. I've been better for a while but I still get the urge to be a drama llama from time to time.
35. I don't know how to dive into water or swim very well without plugging my nose.
36. I went to Ireland for a week when I was 19 with my first crush (see #26) and one of my oldest childhood friends. I still can't believe my dad let me to to Europe with two guys. It was one of my favorite times ever.
37. I used to worry so much about my mom dying that I wore one of her rings every day to school to be close to her. I lost it one day and thought it was the end of the world. A boy in my class found it outside and I kissed him I was so happy. It was mortifying for both of us.
38. I hate when people don't turn right on red.
39. I have a birthmark on my shoulder that used to be bright red and obvious but has faded to almost nothing. It hurts like a bitch when someone so much as taps it and when I was five I was stung by a bee on it. I thought I would die from the pain and am deathly afraid of bees because of it.
40. I told people I was allergic to anything I didn't want to eat when I was little including bacon, blueberries, orange juice, chicken wings and gatorade.
41. I want to write children's books but have no idea where to start in terms of illustration.
42. I lost my first tooth at Disney World biting into a hot dog. I spit it out thinking it was a rock and didn't realize until my mother asked where the heck my tooth went.
43. I am terrified of the dentist but only since a few years ago when I had my wisdom teeth and two molars pulled by a sadist at Aspen Dental.
44. My boy cat, Boots, sucks his tail every night and has since the day we brought him home/took him from his mother too early.
45. I hate driving in the snow after years of grueling Syracuse NY winters, my nerves are just shot from them.
46. I drink around 150 oz. of water a day. That's down from almost 200 oz. when I was pregnant.
47. My favorite ice cream has always been Peanut Butter Cup from Stewart's but I don't like chocolate ice cream by itself.
48. I haven't slept more than six hours a night since my kids were born nine months ago.
49. I have been in and out of major credit card debt since I was 20.
50. I got a tattoo of a falling star when I was 18 and lied to my parents about it until my dad called me out on it after telling me he had a dream I did it and I couldn't keep myself from smiling.

To Be Continued...


May 19, 2015

FIAO 2.5 - Diapering The Twins - Cutting Through The Crap: How To Really Clean Cloth Diapers

So it's been just about 8 months since we started using cloth diapers. We are still going strong and I love it despite a hefty learning curve, lots of nay-saying from friends and family and a complete stash overhaul early on. We have made it through the traumatic experiences of transitioning from EBF poo to solids poo and one stupid mistake of ours that cost me $75 worth of diapers. By far one of the biggest challenges has been learning how to properly clean my diapers. It's not because it's hard, but because absolutely no one seems to agree on the best way to do it!

Modern cloth diapering itself isn't too difficult, especially with all the improvements to the diapers themselves, the invention of disposable liners and diaper sprayers and, of course, the availability of washing machines. Gone are the days when women used pins and rubber pants to contain messes that were stored in wet pails in their bathtubs and then handwashed after everyone else was long asleep, like my grandmother did with all seven of her children. Even my own mother can't get over how cute and easy to use and launder my diapers are after her days of using prefolds and a diaper service with us. Aside from figuring out how to actually save money because you want to buy ALL the diapers, one of the most important things to do is get a good wash routine down to ensure that you are putting clean cloth on your baby at all times.

One of the biggest obstacles to this is that the internet is chock full of misinformation. Well-meaning friends and family, every forum online, even diaper companies themselves all create problems when they diapers like some alien form of fabric never to be carelessly handled rather than what it is - dirty (ok, really dirty) cloth, just like our clothes. Their recommendations, which often include multiple rinses, too little detergent and use of special "cloth diaper safe" detergents, actually lead to issues with staining, stink, leaking and rashes. This can cause some to give up on cloth prematurely because they think they're doing everything right so the issue must be with the diapers themselves. I am very lucky that I started using cloth right around the time that the glorious resource Fluff Love and CD Science Facebook group was created.

This talented, intelligent group of moms banded together to fight "the misinformation, misconceptions, and dangerous cleaning methods they’ve seen promoted throughout the cloth diaper industry." In short, they did the dirty work (haha) so we don't have to. I learned everything I know about laundering my cloth from this group and their website Fluff Love University and since tweaking my routine I have had no issue with stains, stink, leaking or rashes. The very first thing I say to any mom who asks me about using cloth is that she has to join this group. The information and support is invaluable.

Even one of the biggest names in the Cloth Diaper industry, Jennifer Labit, has come around. Jenn is the founder of Cotton Babies, makers of the oh-so-popular (and, yes, a little pricey) BumGenius and Flip diapering systems as well as the more economical EconoBum brand. This past March after studying and surveying their loyal fan base she announced Cotton Babies was changing their wash routine recommendations.  I love BumGenius because they're really cute, super easy to use and fit well. I have 17 now, including 4 "Limited Edition" diapers. That said, I never even read the tag or washing instructions - I headed straight to FL&CDS to learn how to wash them. Now if only everyone else could come around we'd all be better off. Here's another great post Jenn wrote on the history of washing cloth and why people are ending up with dirty and sometimes dangerous diapers. It's not anyone's fault really but it's time to spread the word and change the way things are done. Say it loud and proud and advocate for clean cloth on all babies' bums!

Our Wash Routine:

(Adapted from FL&CDS. This is pretty much the same thing Cotton Babies recommends now. It is not bullet proof and may not work for everyone but it's a good place to start!)


Step 1:

Load up washing machine with diapers. I put about 20 in (2 days worth) that includes the pockets, inserts, doublers, liners and AIOs, plus cloth wipes and 2 wet bags in a large, old school, top loader machine until it's about 3/4 of the way full. Add the water (see step 2 for settings). Once it's full you want it to look like diaper stew. Too much or too little water and your diapers will not get clean.



 Step 2:


I set my machine to large, cold wash and rinse, add Line 1 (I will add a little more if there were a lot of poop diapers) of the scoop of Tide Ultra Powder and a 1/4 cup of borax. The borax is to combat my hard water although the Tide powder does a pretty good job too. I spend about $17 a month on Tide (which I use for all of our laundry) and an extra $5 on Borax every two months. Tide is my go-to detergent right now although I have tried Gain. This rinse is to get off all the yuck so you're not washing your diapers in dirty water.


Step 3:

I mix up the diapers a little bit after the first wash then add 1 full scoop (not just to the top line, use the full scoop or cup) of Tide and another 1/4-1/2 cup of borax. I set it to large, extra heavy, hot wash with a cold rinse. Your diapers  should come out clean looking AND smelling. Some staining is ok as long as it's not actual mess still left on the diapers.

**Step 4:

 I don't do this but Cotton Babies recommends an extra rinse. I started off doing that but found my diapers didn't need it. You only need to if they're coming out of the wash feeling slimy or with soap visibly still on the diapers. According to FL&CDS extra rinses can actually cause issues, especially if you have hard water.

Step 5:

I hang dry all of my pockets and All-in-Ones using a $15 drying rack I picked up at Wal-Mart. Inserts and wet bags go in the dryer on high for about 45 minutes. When it's hot or humid out I will put an oscillating fan in front of the diapers to help dry them but usually it takes about 6-8 hours for them to all be dry, usually overnight. Sometimes the AIOs are a little stiff after hanging so I'll pop them in the dryer for 15 minutes if I need them right away but usually they soften up by the time we get to wearing them.

Step 6: 

 Stuff and fold your diapers and admire your beautiful stash!

That's it! It's really that easy.

Lessons Learned

Of course after 8 months I've learned some things other than just a proper wash routine. Some I learned the hard way:

Cleaning Poo 

Oh how I miss the days of EBF poo that I could just toss in the machine with pee diapers. Things have gotten crazy with the start of solids and although liners (see below) are great if you don't have a sprayer you will have to get that poo off somehow. It took a bit of time to get it down but here's I do it with little mess:
The mason jar is to add some warm water to my low-water-level toilet.
I wear rubber gloves, dunk the diaper and swish it around. Give it a flush or two to pull off what you can holding carefully to the diaper so it doesn't go down the toilet.
Then I use an old spatula (that NEVER leaves the bathroom) to scrape off what's left.
Wring it out, toss it in the wetbag and zip it up!
I keep a spray bottle of dish soap and one of bleach to clean the toilet, spatula and gloves after.
It's really not that hard or gross, I promise!


A lot of people say you don't need them but most of those people have a diaper sprayer. My house is over 200 years old and the plumbing is about 100 years old. Our toilet does not accomodate for a sprayer and my shower head doesn't reach to the toilet so I use the good old dunk and swish method to clean poo. Now there are times when it will take me five minutes to really clean just one diaper. So I invested in some disposable liners and although they don't catch all the poo they've been life changing. Some of them claim to be flushable - don't flush them. Just ball them up and throw them in the garbage and rinse the rest away. I'll soon be going the reusable route when I get around to picking up some microfleece fabric that I will cut into rectangles and use as liners. Apparently the poo just slides right off with some soaking.

Wet bags

Always, always, always bring a wet bag with you when out and about. I forgot to pack one on Easter and put my two most favorite diapers (BumGenius Limited Edition Martin Freetimes) plus a few of my cheaper pockets in a plastic bag. We were out all day and ran out of cloth so I ended up using disposables later in the day. I specifically put them in separate plastic bags so I could toss one and put the other in the wetbag later. Well I asked CJ to toss the diapers for me when we got home and forgot to tell him that one was cloth. He threw them all away. I didn't even realize it until I went to empty the diaper bag the next morning. Twenty minutes after the garbage men came. And that's how I ended up throwing over $75 in the garbage. I cried, he laughed at me, and then let me to buy two more Martins with his credit card. Always bring a wetbag!!!


Cloth diapers come with two kinds of closures - snaps and velcro/aplix. I originally bought only snaps but CJ was really struggling with using them - he kept making them too loose or missing a row altogether. I picked up about 10 aplix for him to use and I am so glad I did now that Vivienne acts like you're mortally injuring her during diaper changes. Have you ever tried to snap a diaper on a child who will not lay still for more than 4 seconds? Impossible. She's in aplix almost full time now because at least those I can put on when she's upside down and backwards. They aren't the best as the velcro can stick to other items in the wash and they're already pilling quite a bit but they're serving their function and that's all I care about.

So, it's been quite the journey but we finally have everything down, a complete (and CLEAN) stash and not one single regret, despite everyone saying I would never stick with it. As if the cuteness factor wasn't enough we have also saved over $800 on diapers! Although some of that savings goes out the window when BumGenius releases a new print since I have to have two of each... But come on, they're gorgeous!


May 17, 2015

What We Did Last Week (Week of 5/11/15)

I finally got one of these What We Did posts done in time! Yay for planning ahead and using my rest times wisely all week by updating a little bit at a time. Eventually I will get this blogging thing down, maybe even learn how to make money from it! Enjoy our playtime ideas from this past week!

Nature/Outside Time


It cooled off quite a bit this week (yay for SPRING!) so we took a few walks down by the river and spotted lots of ducks and geese. We also enjoyed some walks around the neighborhood and have met quite a few of our neighbors this way. We encountered a mean looking dog who was adorably sweet and an adorable looking dog who was super mean and gruff. Both of their owners were enamored with the girls though! They're doing construction on a building around the corner and the other day they were loading things onto the roof with a huge crane so we stopped there and just watched for a bit. It got very loud at one point and freaked me out but didn't seem to bother the babes! Also, the dandelions in the yard are on their way out so we got to explore blowing them!


I am obsessed with loose parts. Don't know what that means? Boxes, ribbons, wrapping and tissue paper, food containers, straws, toilet paper rolls, wipes and tissue boxes, baby food jars, spice containers, leftover holiday items like jingle bells, plastic easter eggs, beaded necklaces, tops from milk jugs, etc. Basically anything that you would otherwise have tossed away can be a toy! CJ hates it. He thinks I'm crazy for saying NO don't recycle that I can use it to just about everything. My loose parts box exploded after I started staying home and recycling everything I could but he's finally coming around. This week we played with containers! Metal tea boxes, plastic yogurt and cheese containers, felt ring boxes, coffee cans and more. I took the top off some and left it on for others for them to drum on. They had a blast and kept them occupied for almost an hour while I changed up which ones had tops, offered them spoons to hit them with and mixed them up on their trays. So much fun!
Enjoying our tunes outside

Music, Movement and Games


We've been listening to the Vitamin String Quartet playlist on Spotify this week and the local country radio stations too. They are loving banging on their metal buckets and boxes and I swear sometimes they are drumming along with the beat! Sometimes I like to play instrumentals because I tend to sing along too much and I think it takes away from their listening to the music.

For movement games we're still encouraging Viv to crawl with balls, rings and her letters. She's pushing up on all fours and rocking back and forth and getting increasingly frustrated with her lack of ability to go. We are facilitating pulling up by moving the coffee table against the TV stand and just sitting them in front of it. I never stand them up (although a lot of other people do...) just wait for them to reach up and try and support them.

We worked a lot on reaching, pulling and gripping this week with some new games. We pulled their straps, fabric, links, soft balls and scarves out of a tissue box, wipe box, toy basket, laundry basket and buckets. I tried to be all super mom and let them "help" me with laundry by setting a basket upside down and looping burp cloths through the holes. They skipped right over that though and made their way to my laundry basket instead, "helping" me by pulling out my clothes. Whatever! I am working on a diy ribbon pull ala The Imagination Tree using an old oatmeal container that I think they will love! Just need to pick up some different textured ribbon.



Favorite Toys

Lamaze Mortimer Moose Teether - I don't know what it is about these guys but sometimes they just love to hold, shake and chew on them for days. We got them for free from Tomy when I signed up for their multiples program.

Shape Box - This thing was given to us by a friend of my mom's and I had no idea how much they would enjoy it so young! They will dump it, reach in and pull them out and because they're peek-a-boo blocks it adds an extra element of exploring what's inside the block!

V-Tech Sit to Stand Walker/Push Toy - Ever since Viv has started pulling herself up if she spots this thing across the room she's off like a rocket to it. I don't love the toy and prefer to keep it turned off (they still enjoy pulling the strings, turning the wheels and pushing the buttons even with no music or lights) but I love that it's helping her learn to stand! She doesn't even use the handle yet, just pulls herself up the front of it!

Crinkly Books - They have loved these forever but just recently they've started actually looking at them and not just chewing on them! We have several different ones, some with words others with ribbons or taggies to play with. They are starting to flip through the pages but also just shake them and lay on them and listen to the sound it makes in their ear.

Favorite Books

I am in love with these books! The girls received them when they were blessed from their great Aunt Debbie and they love them as much as I do. They're sweet, easy reads and the pictures pop and draw them in. I love the way they take classic nursery rhymes like Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and Star Light Star Bright and add beautiful, loving verses. We read one before each rest time this week.

Another great week in the books!


May 15, 2015

Mental Leaps, Wonder Weeks and Sleep - oh my!

I've talked a bit before about mental leaps and The Wonder Weeks but lately I've been thinking more about the science of all of it and why it isn't a more widely known concept. It makes so much sense and has thus far been so accurate for us that I feel like I need to spread the word!

So, what is this Wonder Weeks thing all about?

Years ago Dr. Hetty van de Rijt and Dr. Frans Plooij wrote this fantastic book about baby development after 35 years of research. The Wonder Weeks is the most clear cut guide to baby behavior that I've found. It helped us understand why our otherwise lovely twins turn into absolute nightmares every six weeks or so. They "forget" how to sleep, they won't let me walk away for even a second, they hate the car and their cribs and my arms and each other, nothing makes them happy except nursing and sometimes walking around. It was during our first week of real hell with new babies and we thought for sure we had broken them that I went searching for answers.

Somehow I discovered the Wonder Weeks App. I think my exact google search was for "Why the hell is my baby insane all of a sudden?" According to this app they were experiencing their first "mental leap" in development and after a few weeks of hell I could expect a whole new baby as they completed the cycle and they would "leap forward." I immediately bought the e-book and signed up for the updates so I could know when to expect the next one. I now knew when my girls would be crazy but also when they would be more cheerful and independent. It promised me that eventually there would be a "delightful" time for all of us. And there was! It got better just like the book said it would! I watched as they made the "one small step back" and then the "giant leap forward." Not only that, the book provided coping mechanisms and tools to make the "fussy periods" easier on all of us and to facilitate development! I remember thinking, "What sorcery is this and where has it been all my life?!"

See, what struck me then was is that I had never heard of anything like this before. I actually have a B.A. in Psychology and although it seems like a million years ago now, once upon a time I was a spry young psych student at a really nice (read: $$$) Jesuit college in Syracuse. It was a liberal arts school so along with the fifty or so psychology courses I was also required to take philosophy, religion and science, history and arts classes. I always knew I wanted to work with kids so I took a few Child Development classes including Learning and Cognition, Therapeutic Methods and Disorders of Childhood. Not once do I recall learning about mental leaps in childhood that influence everything from temperament and behavior to sleep and eating patterns. In fact, despite my degree and working in childcare forever, I never even heard of them until I became a mother myself.

Why the hell is that? Wouldn't you think this information would widely known and accepted. Why aren't we distributing it in every hospital after a baby is born? It's as close as we've got to that parenting manual people are always wishing they had! Pediatricians should make sure every parent leaves those monthly appointments with a clean cut explanation! And yet they're not! Why is that?

I finally realized why. I've actually heard of these leaps all along just described as phases or stages. How many of us heard that as kids or about siblings or cousins growing up? "She's going through a phase, it'll pass." But instead of just chalking it up to this and dealing wouldn't we all be better off if we had some sort of knowledge as to why this phase was happening, what we could expect and how to help it? The Wonder Weeks provides all that insight and more! It's brilliant! But how come more people don't know about them and why do some people still think it's a bunch of bs?

I suspect one reason it's not talked about all that much is that while it is based on well researched and reviewed science it's hard to be exact. The old adage every child is different is very true when attempting to predict baby behavior. I know better than most the influence that even just a few more weeks in utero can have on development. Case in point, as a result of coming just five weeks early my girls didn't experience their first mental leaps, which usually occur at week five until they were closer to 3 months old. Prior to that they didn't do much at all but eat, poop and sleep. After the leap though they started smiling, looking around more and were awake for longer periods but slept better when they did sleep. They really did "leap" forward! It was amazing to watch and helped us figure out early on that they definitely followed their due date rather than their birth date. This helped calm some of my fears as they "missed" developmental milestones for their real age. The best part for us parents is that the Wonder Weeks allows for these differences by advising you to go by the baby's due date rather than birth date. From what I've observed it seems to be right almost all the time if people are aware of this difference - even just a few days can effect baby's developmental timing.

But what about the science of it? I hear people saying that there's got to be something concrete, things that parents can read and think, oh, that explains it. I don't know why people don't trust 35 years of observation on thousands of infants. Or the fact that nearly every parent struggles with one of the issues that always occurs during a leap - rough sleep. Yes, one common thread among the mental leaps is sleep issues. Boy oh boy can we attest to that. Every time they're in a leap these kids sleep like crap.  And it's like clockwork! We can know they're in a leap without the app just by paying attention to their sleep (or lack thereof). That's all the scientific evidence that I need. The authors explain that babies who have trouble sleeping often want to practice their new skills that they've mentally mastered. So a baby figures out she can crawl in her head but can't quite get the mechanics of it. She feels this drive to do it hence fighting sleep and being more irritable. We're watching Viv do this now so it makes sense to me. Knowing this is happening we can help her practice her skills during her wake times and actually help her sleep better! It's a win-win all around!

Given that almost all babies "forget" how to sleep right around a leap there has to be some sort of mind-body connection that we can prove going on here, right? I guess the science gets muddied with the fact that these leaps often coincide or occur around growth spurts and sleep "regressions" (read here why I hate that word) so maybe that's why people aren't keen to accept the idea that it's actually a leap. But it makes so much sense to me: their brains are growing - both physically and metaphorically - as they bridge connections and learn. Hasn't someone figured out how to show this? Are there no images of the brain lighting up to prove the connection or something like that? Forgive me, I took psych but quit pre-med after the first week. I just feel like if we could get some more really good easy to understand infographics into the hands of parents, other than this great book, then we would all be better off. People could stop googling WHY WON'T MY BABY SLEEP or thinking that their child is broken. I think we would all rest a little easier (pun intended) if we were able to really understand our babies brains and why sleep is so hard to come by sometimes. This struggle might be a little easier if we all understood that it's not a problem to be fixed but an exciting time of change for baby and that it will get better!

Discovering this book has eased my mind so much. It's helped me to understand and connect with my babies on a deeper level and truly created more peace in our home. We no longer cry out why why why at 3am when we're on our third wake-up of the night or bash our heads against the wall when they just won't be put down for a second. "It's the leap," we say, or, "I wonder what she's working on now?" We are able to meet their needs and support them because we know what to expect, we have some idea of what is going on both mentally and physically and we are all happier for it!

What do you think about the idea of mental leaps and the wonder weeks? Does it effect your babies obviously like ours or do you think it's a self-fulfilling prophecy?


May 14, 2015

What We Did Last Week (Week Of 5/4/15)

I swear I'll get better at writing these when I'm supposed to. Last week was so hot! We set up our pop up tent outside so the girls and I could enjoy the weather in the shade but some days it still wasn't enough.We spent some more time inside too because it got a little relentless but we had a great week!

Nature/Outside Play

I picked up a small inflatable pool for them and was so excited to get it blown up and use it. I waited for a day when it was really hot, nearly 85 and humid.  In May. In upstate NY. This is crazy! I'm not complaining though, we made it work. I used good old fashioned hose water to fill it up about 3 inches deep at first and let it sit in the sun for a bit to warm it up. Then I just plopped them in. They were so freaked out at first. Viv wouldn't put her hands in it and Jules was lifting her feet up trying to get them out. Eventually they warmed up and were splashing, laying down and rolling around in it. They both went under once by accident and it freaked them (and me) out but I was right there to get them. They liked having the water poured over their heads and didn't want to get out but they were getting so cold! I can't wait to do that again. We also went for walks and just laid in the shade at the park.


Our first activity using the sensory bins with water was pretty successful. I gave them a bunch of cups, funnels (actually breast pump flanges but they don't know the difference), spoons and bowls. They didn't really know what to make of the water and mostly just drank it out of the cups but eventually they started putting their hands in it and splashing a bit. Towards the end they were more curious about the bin itself and ended up tipping the water all over themselves! So fun! We also did a nature box with a bunch of grass, dirt, rocks, flowers and pinecones. My phone was on the fritz that day so I don't have any pictures but suffice to say they're not ready for that yet so it ended up being more of a looking box than a touching one as they were just popping everything into their mouths!

Music, Movement and Games

We practiced crawling all week with Viv who is so close now she just can't get the hang of lifting her hands and not falling forward. I set up toys and things just out of her reach, helped her lay over the snoogle pillow and push up and had the cats show her how it's done. She's getting it and has mastered the army crawl. Jules is going from sitting to on her belly but isn't really interested in moving yet which is fine by me.

We listened to a few great playlists I discovered on Spotify this week. I am loving the Artist's Tributes to their Children. It includes a lot of the songs on my list as well as some I didn't even realize were tributes. I also found an awesome list that no goes on every evening when we start our bedtime routine - Lullabies That Puts Baby To Sleep But Won't Make Me Homicidal. Yes, it is exactly what it sounds like. You have to check it out.

Our favorite game this week was over under. I lay on the floor and fly the girls over me, pop them up and catch them and then I lay them down and I jump or crawl over them all while describing over, under, up, down, etc. They think it's hilarious when I drape my hair over their faces, blow kisses and disappear. We played lots of This Little Piggy since both were cutting a tooth (Jules her 4th and Viv her 7th) and I saw that there are pressure points in the toes that help with the pain, I swear it works!

Our Favorite Toys This Week

Name Stools - They have been loving these for a while but now it's so much more than just playing with the letters - they are using them to push on and pull themselves up now. Oh lordy I am not ready for this.

Stuffed animals - They have started squeezing their toys and sort of lovin' on them so stuffed toys were a hit this week too. I just set some out and they grab them and kiss or hug them!

Straps - Yes, the shoulder straps from their high chairs! We noticed that they loved to chew on them in the chairs, car seats, boppy chairs, etc. so one night when they were fussy we just took them off and handed them over - it's amazing how often that will just chill them out. I'm sure it feels great on their teeth and it's not going to choke them either.

Buckets - They are loving taking things out of and putting things in things - especially if it makes noise when they drop it. These metal buckets from Target plus the silver teethers, links and keys are perfect!

Cats - They are obsessed with the cats now that they can make their way towards them. Nursing has become a nightmare if the cat jumps up, outside the poor cats are constantly running away from one of them on the blanket and god forbid a cat fall asleep on the table near their high chairs. Poor things are going to have bald patches soon, but they're being troupers!

Our Favorite Books This Week

I've been reading fairy tales from an anthology we received from my dear friends Dorothy and Andrea. I change them up though because they're pretty old school (seriously Little Red Riding Hood, you're like 14 how do you not know any better?) and I'd prefer not to teach lessons through fear tactics just yet. But the pictures are pretty and the general stories are the perfect length and lend themselves to lots of different voices and sound effects so they love them.

We spent a ton of time eating and trying new foods so that means more clean up time for me, luckily they have each other to play with (read: steal toys from and crawl over) so I can get it done and they aren't bored.

I am dreading them both crawling but I'm learning how to baby proof each room and tailor specific spaces to them in each one. This is going to be fun! Right???