August 31, 2015

Taking A Break

Hopefully this is only temporary but I'll be taking a break from writing any new posts for about a week or two. I have two almost ready to post so they'll go up soon but other than that I won't be writing for a bit.

I feel like a kid getting ready to go back to school. The boy I'll be babysitting starts next Tuesday and while I know it will be great I am somewhat mourning my time with just me and the girls. So I am taking this week to enjoy all the time I can with them. I am not stepping away from the computer entirely, I am also working on repairing my ailing family tree. I messed it up royally last year doing a merge and sync and it's a nightmare right now. I haven't felt good about that in a while but I've obviously had other things on my plate. I am taking the next few weeks to finish reorganizing it so I'll hopefully be able to get back to researching again once the winter starts, in whatever off time I happen to have outside of blogging.

Be back soon! Not that anyone is really reading! :)


August 26, 2015

What It Means To Be A M.o.M.

No, I'm not 13. I don't think it's cool to add random capital letters to a word. I am a Mom, but I am also a MoM, otherwise known as Mom of Multiples. A few weeks ago I realized this means I have something in common with Kate Gosselin, of all people. That is so strange to me. 

Anyway, it also means a few other things. Like the fact that my body once had three heads, hearts and brains. It also had six arms and six legs. At one point, I not only ate and drank enough, but my heart was strong enough to sustain the lives of three people. That's what it really means to be a MoM. I'm proud of it. I don't think I'm better than you if you had one child at a time. But I am proud of myself.

There's a word we use often in the MoM world - singleton, or a child that was born by itself, not with a twin or more. Lots and lots of people have more than one singleton. Some really close in age. Some of these people think that means they understand what it is to be a MoM. They don't.

Every MoM has heard the stories: At the doctors once a woman said to me, "Oh, my girls are 14 months apart, I know how hard it is to have twins!" My mom, whose kids are also 14 months apart, laughed and told her she had no idea. A friend told me she was at a store and someone told her, "My cousin has twins and I have two under 3, it's not really that different. In fact I think mine are harder."

Maybe they are. But not that different? Try again.

I swear I'm not trying to be a bitch or a sanctimommy. Again, I absolutely do not think I'm better than you.  But having two or more children, one at a time, even just months apart, is not the same thing as having two at once. It's easy to see why they people think that way - two kids are hard no matter what their ages!  But I don't think parents who compare the two really understand what they're saying.

I won't ever say one is harder than the other but there are undeniable differences that make it hard to compare the two. Even if you have seventeen other children you do not understand what it's like to have two babies at once until you've done it.

Here's why:

MoMs know the gut wrenching feeling of finally getting a baby to sleep after hours only to have the other baby wake up as soon as you do it.

It's like a law of freaking nature that one baby will fight sleep and require all sorts of extra intervention while the other snoozes peacefully. And then just as you get the fighter to pass out her sister starts wailing. Every. freaking. time. This dance will easily take up half of your life for the first year. Single baby? Do the dance and you're done, at least for a little while.

MoMs know that no matter what anyone says one baby will absolutely wake the other.

Assuming your kids don't all share a room you can walk out of the nursery, carefully shut the door and know, that if all is well, the baby will sleep for at least a few minutes. You can control for noise. We don't have that option. I can't tell you how many times I've rushed into the room when I hear the first tiny sound just to prevent one baby from waking the other. I then spend 25 minutes getting her back to sleep just to have her sister cry out five seconds later and wake her back up. And now they're both up. Oh. my. god. I just want to sleeeep.

MoMs know that everything takes twice as long.

Unless you've done it you really don't know just how long it can take to prepare and feed two bottles or nurse two hangry babies (don't even get me started on cluster feeding with two). Then the time it takes to burp, change, get to sleep, get back to sleep, get ready to go anywhere or calm two unhappy babies. Especially by yourself. It is unreal how everything takes an extra half hour of your already precious time. In the beginning it took us over 1.5 hours just to leave the house and that was assuming no one needed yet another diaper change just as we walked out the door. Oh and let's not forget the added time of strangers stopping to chat and ask questions every single time you go out. Because every mom has time for a 3 hour trip to the store just for bread, right?

MoMs know there's also twice as much of all the crappy parts of parenting

Two times the spit-up, poopy diapers, teething, shots, sicknesses, potty training and accidents, play, meal and bathtime messes, tooth brushing and bedtime battles, boo-boos, getting into everything, death defying antics and so on. And if you're lucky enough like me and your first kids are twins then you get the added benefit of having to learn how to do it all with two without losing your mind.


MoMs know the fear and reality of paying for multiples: two times the baby gear, diapers, doctors appointments, daycare costs, school and activity supplies, college tuition, weddings, whatever. 

It is most definitely not two for the price of one. Obviously any parent who has two or more children knows what it's like to worry about this. The difference is that an MoM thinks about it from day one. Not after a year or five. We worry from that very first ultrasound how in the hell we're going to afford to feed, clothe and support two little people for the next 20 or so years. And since you can't really plan for twins it is almost always a shock. It's terrifying.

MoMs know the sheer agony of having to listen to two babies crying at the same time. 

Or worse, listening to one baby scream while you change, feed or console the other one knowing there isn't much you can do about it right now and they will just have to wait a second. It's like a less awful version of Sophie's Choice every damn day. Think about the ear piercing volumes that one baby can get to. Now take that sound and multiply it by two. Put it on to repeat every hour for about two years while you rush around doing everything in your power to just make it stop. Come back and tell me how it's the same thing as having a walking, talking, sleeping-through-the-night toddler and a newborn.

No, I'll never say either one is harder. They both have their challenges and, thankfully, their rewards But you can't deny that being a MoM is a totally unique experience. One that you really have to go through to understand.

I think most singleton parents know that. Majority of them are not trying to be rude, they're just looking for a way to connect. I'm thankful for that too, it's nice to make parent friends. But if you you really believe that because you have two kids we've been in the same trenches, please just keep it to yourself. Unless you want to switch lives with a MoM for a weekend and we can see if you still feel the same way after. I can almost guarantee you won't.

What do you think?


August 24, 2015

What We Did Last Week (Week of 8/16/15)

It was a weird week. We started it with a get together with my family at the girls' Great Nana's house. We're cleaning it out getting ready for her to move and it was crazy and sad for me so I sent them home with CJ early but not before getting this great pic of them at her house.

We also said goodbye to a very dear friend of mine. His name was Kuhma and he was a 15 year old husky who was my bff when I worked at the daycare. We had a dinner in his honor at John and Heather's and said our goodbyes to him. I was glad the girls got to meet him last year when I went back for a week. Even though it's been a long time since I was able to see him every day I will still miss him terribly.

On a happier note we also had our first Dentist appointment! They have 10 and 12 teeth now (each have gotten 1 more since the appointment) and their teeth look great!

The one good thing about my Nana moving is that she passed on some really great things to us that I'm excited about. We got our hands on some small wooden bowls and a tray, a ton of old animal toys that I used to play with when I was a kid, scarves and handkerchiefs, Christmas decorations, nesting dolls (although they have Santa on them) some books, puzzles and games. Great Nana also gave the girls some special bunnies and teddy bears that I will make sure they cherish.

Nature and Outside Time

We enjoyed hanging out under the tree at Nana's, went for a few walks and ventured down to the nature trail behind the park to stay in the shade. It was so hot so we brought out the baby pool and tried to stay cool. They are still afraid of it so this week I tried getting in with them and they got right in. We did coloring outside with Auntie Liz and finally got the confidence to venture into the grass on our own. Mommy's in trouble now.

Sensory and Exploration

We tried a few more ideas from CanDo Kiddo including trying flashlight play and playing with cups on the coffee table some more. We did the carrot peel sensory bin again but this time I added apple peel too. This time they discovered it was much more fun to dump the bin and spread the peels all over the kitchen floor. I had to sweep anyway so I let them! We tried the beaded necklace bin again but added tissue paper, baskets and bells this time.

We colored more, this time with paper inside cake pans. They loved banging the crayons on the pan and the sound it made while they were making marks. 

I made them a sensory bottle with an old spice container, some puff balls, a beaded necklace and beads. They were fighting over it all week and I was annoyed I couldn't find any other containers to make another one with!

We also did some ball exploration. I gave them a muffin tin full of different balls and set out our discovery box, the wooden bowls and a basket. They sat for over an hour tossing, rolling, dropping and chasing the balls. Jules even organized a few of them back in the muffin tin!

Music, Movement and Games

I was feeling some type of way this week (a mixture of anxiety, insomnia, sadness over my Nana's house, Kuhma and my babies getting big, etc.) and I was craving country music to sing out my sorrows with. For the first time in a long time I had the radio on most of the time. I don't know if they like it or hate it but we listen to plenty of their music most of the time and mama needed a break from it!

Our cups on the coffee table game was a big hit for movement with all that cruising practice but one of the biggest things this week was they've finally figured out how to push their push walker! We only have one and now they're fighting over it all the time! Luckily they're smart little girls who know how to improvise - they are pushing anything that is not bolted down at this point. Boxes, their stools, lare bowls, books, etc.


Our favorite movement activity this week was also our favorite game. Climbing up and getting down! Up and down off the couch, the slide, the chairs, everything. We've been practicing getting safely off the couch and beds forever and just this week they've discovered the confidence to do it all the time. The good thing (for me) and bad thing (for them) is that they can't get back up yet. So they sit on the floor and cry for me to put them up so they can get down. I'm waiting for them to connect the dots and figure out they can do both with the slide - which they figured out how to climb this week too!

Favorite Books

They are obsessed with their One Love book this week. They will flip through the pages and stare at them forever.

Favorite Toys

This week was all about scarves, bottle caps, cups and bowls. They're getting so great at manipulating things and you can really see their sense of accomplishment when they figure something out - like how to flip over a bowl to dump them out, how to reach something they've dropped or how to play peek-a-boo with the scarf.

The push walker was a big hit too, as well as the slide for the climber and they also discovered they can look out the window so they spent a lot of time there this week.

New Foods

Real cheese ravioli (we tried the baby kind on vacation and they hated it) and that's about it. Again, I was in a weird mood and didn't feel like experimenting much.

We have our trial day with our new friend here at home on Wednesday and have made some plans for a fun family day on Monday since Daddy finally has a day off! Have a great week!


August 22, 2015

Don't Grow Up On Me Too Fast

Dear Babies,

I see you over there. Testing your boundaries, pulling up and letting go, trying new things. Learning, moving, climbing and chattering.

Look at you sitting there, looking like kids. At the Dentist! Stop that.
Growing up right before my very eyes.

You try to hide it. You get shy when I watch, feign needing help, pretending you can't when you can.

But you know I know. You want to be my babies but you desperately want to explore and be yourselves too. I see it. I understand.

All of a sudden you’re one going on sixteen. It’s terrifying. For all of us.

I do what I can to help you. To challenge you and give you the tools to learn how to think. I want you to figure it out. To be confident in your decisions and to learn your own lessons.

But I won’t push you. I won’t help you grow up any faster than you are on your own. You will grow up of course, but, for now, I won’t rush it.

If nothing changes, you could be our only children. The only babies I will nurse, rock, snuggle and raise. I want to hold on to this for as long as I can. I need to.

Standing there and climbing on shelves like you own the place. Not yet!

I waited so long to have you and was so incredibly blessed to be granted the gift of not just one but two incredible, beautiful little beings.

But if you could help me with this one thing...

I need you to stay little. Just for a little while longer. I know you’re practically toddlers, but please, just stay babies for a bit?

Maybe I’m a little selfish but I don’t believe you’ll be hurt by it. I trust you to figure things out. You'll get there. And I’m here to help you.

Trust me.

I will teach you what you want to learn. When you’re ready. But not yet. You may be one but you’re still my babies. And I need this to last.

This being that raw, biological and unconditional love, of which you have no real understanding. That which you were born doing.

You love me like you can’t live without me and aren’t afraid to show it. You don’t really get mad at me. I am your world. Just give me a little longer with that. Before you figure it all out and then you’re off.

I need you to just be little for a while.

So I won’t make you walk. I love watching you figure out your coordination and how to do it. It's a beautiful mess of movement that reminds me of a dance.

I won’t make you use a fork. I love your chubby little fingers grasping for food and your messy faces.

I won’t make you talk to me or perform. But I will listen when you babble and respond when you need me to.

I won’t potty train you. Until you’re interested. And ready. Or five.

I will nurse you. Or bottle feed you. Whatever. Until you’re done. Or because you finally figured out how to drink from a cup. Because you love it.

I will help you learn how to sleep and eat real food and have fun. All the good things in life, I will make sure you know.

I will respond to your needs as they change, to your reactions as they get bigger and I will help you deal with and conquer your frustrations.

Above all I will help you learn how to do things at your own pace. Not by what doctors or relatives or other people think you should be doing.

But I will not rush you through this.

And I regret trying to force things in the past.

Life might be easier if you became toddlers. If you ate neatly, started picking up after yourselves and using the toilet. If you really listened to me. But I don’t want that. And you don’t need that. Not just yet.

You’re my only babies and right now, I know we all want this to last. So, for as long as you are willing, please keep loving me this much and needing me in this way.

Because way too soon it’s going to change and my heart is already aching at the thought.

Do know though, that when and while it all changes, I will be there for you, as you learn who you are.

As you have your own hopes and dreams and desires. Just like I am now, I promise, I will be there.

Even though you may not always want me. Because as much as I love this part, I can hardly wait for what comes next.

But please, just for a little while, let's all just be.



August 20, 2015

Our Favorite Activities for Easy Baby Play!

*Disclaimer* This post contains affiliate links.

As someone who has spent the bulk of my adult life playing with kids it's hard to admit that it was tough to come up with easy and fun ways to play with the babies, especially when they were brand new. I believe play should unfold naturally with appropriate choices and the ability to explore the world in which children are living. But how exactly do you do this with non-mobile babies or into-everything infants and toddlers?

One of my favorite resources since early on has been Rachel Coley over at CanDo Kiddo. As a pediatric Occupational Therapist, Coley knows first hand how important early experiences are for development. As she says on her blog, "What babies do, shapes how they grow." Even the youngest of babies can benefit from the right kinds of tactile, visual and auditory experiences. And the best part is that you don't have to do much to help your baby play every day! It's all about encouraging babies to use their bodies and senses to learn about the world around them.

Coley has written two wonderful books full of great ideas to get your baby moving, exploring and learning. Begin With A Blanket: Creative Play for Infants, is full of easy and fun ideas for even the tiniest of humans - starting at just 1 week old!  Plus, Coley walks you through each activity and explains how they work and the benefits for baby.

As the girls are getting older and more mobile Coley's book Simple Play: Easy Fun For Babies, has been such a great tool. I refer to it all the time, especially when I need something quick and easy to offer them to explore. It is full of opportunities for play babies from birth to 2 years and is even categorized by ability (sitting, standing, crawling, walking) so you can be sure what you're doing is developmentally appropriate. It also includes ways to facilitate and develop skills without forcing them. I promise after reading these books you will feel like an expert in child's play!

I have loved watching the girls grow and learn through simple, self directed play activities that are so easy to set-up at any time, often requiring nothing more than things I already have! Not to mention many of these ideas helped me stay sane in the last year! Here are some of our favorites!

Mirror Play

Who knew a $5 mirror from Wal-Mart would be one of the best purchases I ever made in terms of baby play! Everyone knows tummy time is great for the development of those little muscles and helping to prevent problems like plagiocephaly (flattening of the head). Using a mirror adds a whole new dimension (literally!) and keeps it more interesting. We had a mirror set up from day one and my girls loved to stare at themselves and the world around them. As they got older I watched them reach out for their reflections, notice each other and start to roll towards the mirror. And it's not just great for tummy time, we still use it every day!

Bonus Tummy Time tip for twin moms: put babies on pillows facing each other! So much fun!

Hanging Toys


We did a lot of tummy time but I always followed their lead and they spent plenty of time on their backs as well. I tried to encourage them to look around and reach for things from a young age by introducing a new object or two at a time for them to check out. One of the biggest hits was around 3 months when I hung a few jingle bells and beaded necklaces over or near their heads. They also liked looking at hanging mirrors, ribbon, streamers and glow-in-the-dark bracelets. Soon enough they were swatting, grasping and pulling.

Naked Tummy Time

When they were about 2 months old I saw an excerpt from an old baby book from the 1940s that someone posted on Facebook. The mom wrote that she "permitted baby to lay in the nude" every morning on her bed (presumably while she got ready?). We hadn't let them go naked yet (they peed every single time we took the diaper off - we were scared!) but we started a new routine that included naked tummy time in their cribs during diaper changes. I still always put a few prefold cloth diapers under them because they would still always pee! But they loved it! I sang to them and put a stuffed animal or toy for them to look at and reach for.

Tissue Paper Kicking and Tissue Paper Wiggle


I saw this on CanDo Kiddo's Facebook page and had to try it right away. Just tape some tissue paper under the couch cushion and lay baby in front of it. It was perfect because we had so much tissue paper in the house during Christmas and I knew there was some way to use it! They loved the sound and feeling of it on their feet. I would also ball it up and let them pull it apart, lay it down and put them on their tummies to look at and touch it and I now use it in their discovery boxes until they start to eat it.

Side to Side Rolling

We did this every day as part of our "exercises" (we also did gentle pulling up, limb stretches and tummy time). They loved it and I even got one of their first giggles when rolling them like this. I even sang a song I made up while we did it (to the tune of Frere Jacques):

"Roly poly, roly poly (slowly roll side to side)
{Jules} can roll, {Viv} can roll,
Rolling to the left (roll all the way to the left side)
Rolling to the right (roll all the way to the right side)
all the way over (gently roll on to belly)
all the way over (gently roll on to back)"

While play time gets crazier and more active as they're getting older, it doesn't have to be harder to set up or enjoy! Now I'm able to set up invitations to explore and play for them to revisit throughout the day. Here are some of our favorites:

Ball Play

We have a variety of balls - small plastic ones, bouncy ones, textured ones and soft ones too. One of our favorite exploration bins is just filling them up with a bunch of different ones and some nesting cups and rings and they go to town! Now that they're older we roll them down the slide, roll them to each other and they're really getting into tossing them all over the place! I leave a few out all day every day and have a big basket of them ready to go on a shelf in the playroom.

Water Play

I love love love water tables and have one waiting to be opened that we're not quite ready for. But just because they can't stand and play at one yet doesn't mean they have to miss out on the fun. We use our sensory bins or baby pool, fill them up halfway with sink water and head out to the backyard for some splash time! I give them cups, spoons, straws, different objects that will sink or float and whatever else I can find to throw in. They love it all!

Tunnel Play

So much fun and so easy to do. Now that they crawl through it I can just open it up and let have at it!  We have the Giga Hide and Seek TunnelSimple Play has so many fantastic ideas to get you outside the box of just going through the tunnel too! We love using it as a ramp to drop things down and playing peek-a-boo with it!

Pillow Crawl

Can't get much easier than this - just take some pillows and toss them on the floor! The girls will not only crawl over them but sit on them and practice getting "down", pick them up and hold them, touch and lay on them and just last week they started stacking them on top of each other. I got even more creative and used my Snoogle pillow and nursing pillow to both climb over and crawl under like a bridge! We also love to combine pillow crawling with the tunnel and create an awesome obstacle course!

Anything Sensory

Coley talks about a few different sensory activities in her books. We call them exploration bins here and I love just filling a box with random items and letting them have at it. We are just starting out but we have loved using balls, fake flowers, letter blocks, bowls, glow in the dark stars, carrot peels and beaded necklaces. As they get older I can't wait to create real sensory bins with rice, beans, pasta, snow and more. I also created a discovery box with a hole in the top for them to reach in, touch and pull things out of. Super easy and super fun!

Loose Parts

One of the keys to good, engaging and yet simple baby play is having the right tools. This is where my love for loose parts and inability to throw anything away comes in! It's definitely paid off! The theory of loose parts is the idea that you use simple objects that can be moved, manipulated, carried and combined with no set way to play. Anything can be a loose part. Unlike a baby toy that has buttons to push or makes noise, loose parts allow the child to use their imagination, to create whatever experience they want.

I have a variety of baby friendly loose parts that get the most use in our house:

clean containers and their lids - yogurt and cottage cheese cups, wipes boxes, water bottles, egg cartons, puffs containers, cardboard boxes, plastic coffee containers, etc.
cups or bowls - especially if they're "nesting"
spoons - wooden, metal, measuring, etc.
large bottle caps and tops
family pictures in albums, on the walls, behind puzzle openings
large refrigerator magnets
blankets, towels, washcloths, bibs
baskets, buckets and small bins
scarves, hats, purses, handkerchiefs, gloves, etc.

I also have a huge stash of things they're not ready for yet including almost every paper towel roll we've used in the last year, cookie cutters, pipe cleaners, straws, yarn, small bells, stones, marbles, beads and more. The best part about this theory is that everything can be a toy! And it's so much fun too! I love browsing everywhere for new baby "toys"! The only issue I've run into is where to store them in between uses! More on my love for loose parts coming soon!

It's amazing how even the littlest of ones can learn so much about themselves and the world around them when you offer just a few easy to put together options for play and exploration. While we do have plenty of "baby toys" we do our best to create opportunities that are open-ended and child directed. Our mantra here is: Keep it simple and fun and watch the magic happen!

Make sure you check out CanDo Kiddo and pick up her books Begin With a Blanket and Simple Play on Amazon for more fantastic ideas. You can get both right now for just $35.95!

What are your favorite things to do with your little ones?


August 17, 2015

What We Did Last Week (Week of 8/10/15)

I feel like all I ever write lately are recaps of what we're doing. I've got a bit of summer induced writer's block with several posts half finished. I guess I'm also trying to just enjoy as much time as I can with the girls before I start taking in other kids. CJ has been working all of his days off too so we only have  a few hours together at night and I'm trying not to spend that time writing. So unless I want to wake up at 6am before the girls... well, that's not happening! Right now I'm limited to rest time (2-3 hours a day to get everything done!) and that will disappear once new kids start here so I'm working on a schedule that will help me organize my time better. All that said, we had a really great week full of fun! I finally got to the dollar store and picked up some things that I've been wanting for a while. We had a great time exploring all our new stuff and learning while we play!

Nature and Outside Time


We spent so much time outside this week. It was gorgeous out, low humidity for the most part and perfect weather for just hanging out. We had a picnic in the backyard, went for walks over to the park and got a chance to check out The Crossings, an awesome park with a playground, duck pond and walking trails.

Sensory and Exploration

We started the week with our first time coloring with crayons! It doesn't look like much but these "most important marks" are the precursor to writing, just as babbling is to talking. They are practicing hand-eye coordination, working on their grasp and fine motor skills and learning about color and creative expression.

I finally found a great square box to make a discovery box out of! I cut a hole in the top and dropped in some miscellaneous items like scarves, the shower rings, balls and a rattle. They loved reaching in and pulling out a surprise. Jules figured out how to dump it and get everything out at once but Viv sat and pulled things out one by one!

We tried out some new sensory activities this week. I picked up some beaded necklaces and shower rings at the dollar store, tossed them in a bin with balls, bottle tops, buckets and cups. They had so much fun with it!

I finally got my hands on some hula hoops! They thought they were the craziest things and kept trapping each other inside them!

Music, Movement and Games

Our favorite playlist this week was Sugar and Spice and Everything Nice on Spotify. It's full of adorable songs for them to bop along to that I love singing as well.

We practiced climbing quite a bit this week. I got a new printer and the box makes for a perfect step for them to climb up and down from. They've pretty much mastered the movements of getting up, turning around and getting back down, although Jules likes to pretend she can't do it and waits for me to rescue her.

We invented a new game to get them to explore the grass a bit more. Since they love chasing balls and tossing them, when we were at the park I started tossing them just a bit off the blanket and having them go after them. Each time I tossed them a little further and before they knew it they were totally off the blanket. They even forgot all about the balls and set out to explore the grass beneath their feet!

Favorite Toys

Climber - My dad got them this awesome climber for their birthday and we finally got it all set up. Yes, it's inside. I'm thinking ahead to winter time when I will likely have two walking toddlers with boundless energy. So far they only use the ball part but they looove it - they will stand there forever tossing balls out, rolling them down the slide and crawling under it to get them.

Animal Skittles - I scored this awesome find at Marshall's this week. These cute little wooden animals are the perfect size for their hands, they love banging them together, dropping them in boxes and buckets and knocking them down when I set them up.

My dollar store finds - hula hoops, beaded necklaces, shower curtain rings, hand held mirrors, cars, fireman hats, wooden spoons, palm size rocks, etc.

Favorite Books

I read somewhere that by the time your baby is a year old you likely have at least 3 books memorized. I've always tried to keep a good variety of books since we read so often but ever since receiving it for their birthday Llama Llama Red Pajama has dominated most of our reading time. So much so that I've pretty much got it down in less than 3 weeks.

Thankfully they love anything new so when I picked up our first Halloween book this week (I know, I'm early, I couldn't help myself) I was happy they got so into it. I couldn't believe I found it at Marshall's but it's the Cheerio Halloween Playbook! They're not old enough yet to actually use it but they like looking at it and putting their fingers on the Os!

New Foods

Spinach and Banana muffins, mini english muffin pizzas, almond butter and jam sandwiches, "salad" (deconstructed with romaine, carrots, cucumber and chickpeas)

Like I said I have several posts waiting to be edited, finished and photos added, eventually I'll get to them. Until then, I hope you're enjoying reading up on how we spend our time and getting ideas for your own babies!


August 12, 2015

FIAO 5:11 - Feeding The Twins - New Recipes!

We're six months into our Baby Led Weaning journey (although I'm pretty sure after a year we can just call it eating) and these girls are beasts! They eat pretty much everything I offer them and love trying new foods. I started running out of ideas of things to try a few weeks ago when we had covered pretty much every whole fruit, vegetable and grain out there. Once they started napping better and were able to play by themselves for a bit I started experimenting with new recipes for them. Some of them have been big hits, others not so much and sometimes my cooking skills (or lack thereof) leave something to be desired, but so far it's been fun.

Here are some of the recipes I've tried, where I found them and how they went!

Spinach Banana Mini Muffins

From Tribe Magazine - Spinach + Banana Healthy Breakfast Muffins

I just made these (about 8 hours after I posted this blog) and they are THAT good that I rushed to the computer to update and add this recipe. If you have ripe bananas and spinach you need to go to your kitchen and make them right now. Apparently they freeze well but I'm not sure we'll find out since the girls gobbled up two each and CJ and I both ate two as well. They are bomb.

  • 3 small ripe bananas
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups fresh baby spinach
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 cups unbleached white flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons plain whole milk yogurt
  1. Preheat oven to 350 and grease muffin pans (I did 24 mini and 6 regular size)
  2. Add the first seven ingredients to a blender (banana, applesauce, vanilla, spinach, syrup, coconut oil, egg) and blend well
  3. Mix the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt) in a large mixing bowl
  4. Pour blender mixture into dry ingredients and mix slowly until thoroughly moistened
  5. It will be very thick like pancake batter. I added 2 tablespoons of yogurt to loosen it up a bit.
  6. Spoon into muffin pan until half full
  7. Bake at 350 for 12 minutes (mini) and 17 minutes (regular)
  8. Enjoy!

Cottage Cheese Banana Pancakes

From My Little Gourmet - Mini Oatmeal Cottage Cheese Banana Pancakes

These were a huge hit! They love cottage cheese anyway and I love that they get the added protein from it. The banana and vanilla added a nice sweetness so no syrup is needed even for us adults.

  • 1 cup old-fashioned or quick cooking oats
  • 1 banana
  • 1 cup cottage cheese
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • coconut oil for cooking
  1. Add all the ingredients to the blender and blend well
  2. Heat a griddle over medium heat, add coconut oil
  3. Pour batter into pan in any size cakes you want. I did a few different sizes - big ones for us adults and smaller ones for the littles. I ended up with about 16 mini and 8 large.
  4. Enjoy!

    Broccoli-Cauliflower-Sweet Potato-Cheddar Tuna Cakes

    Adapted from Little Grazers - Broccoli and Cheddar Patties

    They LOVED these. They were relatively easy to make but took a while longer than I would have liked because I had to steam all the veggies separately. I altered the original recipe by adding tuna and cauliflower for some extra nutrients and omega-3s. Even better, they freeze so well! The recipe made about 8 large and 10 smaller cakes. I just take them out of the freezer and toss them in the toaster oven for a few minutes.

    • 3 sweet potatoes, cubed
    • 2 cups of frozen broccoli 
    • 1 cup of frozen cauliflower
    • 1 cup of strong cheddar 
    • 1 can chunk light tuna, drained
    • black pepper
    • 1 egg, beaten
    • vegetable oil for baking
    1. Steam the sweet potato, broccoli and cauliflower. 
    2. While those steam, shred the cheese and drain the tuna
    3. Give the veggies a rough chop then mix with cheese and tuna, add pepper and let cool
    4. Preheat oven to 400 and grease a baking sheet with oil
    5. Add the egg and mix well
    6. Form into cakes. I did a few different sizes. I ended up with about 30 overall.
    7. Place on greased baking dish and brush tops with oil
    8. Bake at 400 for 30 minutes, flipping halfway through 
    9. Enjoy!



    Turkey-Apple-Spinach-Carrot Meatballs

    Adapted from From Momma Always Knows - Turkey Meatballs With Veggies
    and From Sweet Tooth, Sweet Life - Mini Turkey Apple Meatballs

    Jules loves these, Viv wasn't so sure but she's getting there, trying a little more every time I offer them. I omitted the egg as we only had two left and they came out fantastic!

    • 1 lb. ground turkey
    • 1 apple, grated
    • 1 carrot, grated
    • 1 cup spinach, chopped
    • 2 tbs. milk
    • 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
    1.  Preheat oven to 350 and grease baking sheet with coconut oil
    2. Add all ingredients to large bowl and use your hands to mix will
    3.  Form 1 1/4 inch balls. This makes about 36.
    4. Bake for about 12 minutes
    5. Enjoy!

    Easy Homemade Chicken Fingers

    From Planning With Kids - Homemade Chicken Nuggets

    Don't be fooled by the smile!
    Ugh. These girls do not like chicken. I go out of my way to get the best I can find - local, free range, organic if possible (read: expensive!) and they just look at me like I'm crazy no matter how I try. The only times they've eaten it is when I've added it to quesadillas or when it's crock pot shredded chicken.I thought for sure this recipe would be a hit but they each took a few bites and tossed them aside. No matter, Mama is a former chicken finger addict so I gobbled them up myself!

    • 2 chicken breasts
    • 1 cup organic whole milk plain yogurt (we always have Stonyfield on hand)
    • 2 tbs coconut oil, plus extra for cooking
    • 1 cup Italian seasoned Panko bread crumbs
    1. Pound out chicken and cut into thin strips. I made 12 decent sized chicken fingers with 2 breasts.
    2. Preheat oven to 375
    3. Mix coconut oil into yogurt
    4. Dredge chicken in yogurt
    5. Dredge chicken in breadcrumbs
    6. Grease baking sheet with coconut oil and drizzle oil on top of chicken
    7. Bake for 30 minutes turning over halfway through 
    8. Enjoy!


    Zucchini Carrot Fritters

    From Just a Taste - 5 Ingredient Zucchini Fritters

    Not a hit. Not at all. I'm not sure why, they resembled the veggie patties that they loved but they didn't have cheese. They must have sensed this because they didn't even touch them the first three times I offered them. The fourth time I gave them a choice between rice and beans (another thing they don't love) and the fritters and they begrudgingly chose the fritters. Once again, Mom and Dad loved them though!

    • 2 medium zucchini
    • 2 carrots
    • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
    • 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
    • Coconut oil for frying
    1. Shred the zucchini into a large bowl and sprinkle with salt. Let stand for 10 minutes.
    2. Shred the carrots into a separate bowl
    3. Squeeze out as much liquid from the zucchini as you can. I just held handfuls over the sink and squeezed.
    4. Add the flour, eggs and carrots to the zucchini
    5. Coat a frying pan with coconut oil and heat over medium-high
    6. Using a spoon or your hands form a ball and drop into pan, pressing lightly to make a patty. I ended up with about 12 large patties but they were hard to flip so next time I'd try for 15-18 smaller ones.
    7. Cook for 2-3 minutes and carefully flip and cook for an additional 2 minutes until golden brown
    8. Transfer to plate lined with paper towels and continue with the rest of the mixture
    9. Enjoy!

    Banana Avocado Muffins

    From Savvy Saving Couple - Better Avocado Banana Muffins

    They loved these! I was a little leery as they came out a bit more dense than I would have thought they would be (but I am terrible at baking too) but they were delicious and the girls were able to eat big chunks of them around 10.5 months. They get better every time I make them too. The last time I added chocolate chips to half the batch for me and CJ.

    • 1 large ripe banana
    • 1 large avocado
    • 2 cups flour
    • 3/4 cup sugar (I omitted this and added vanilla)
    • 1 teaspoon baking soda
    • 1 pinch of salt
    • 1/2 cup reduced fat milk (I used almond milk)
    • 2 eggs
    • 2 tsp vanilla
    1. Preheat oven to 375
    2. Mix flour, sugar, baking soda and salt in a small bowl
    3. Mash avocado and banana in a large bowl
    4. Add milk, eggs and vanilla and  mix well 
    5. Pour in flour mixture and form a batter
    6. Pour into greased muffin pan filling half full - this recipe made 12 muffins
    7. Bake for 15-20 minutes
    8. Enjoy!

    Blueberry Spelt Pancakes

    from The Whole Grains Council

    These things were a pain the butt to make as I've never worked with spelt flour but once I figured out how to let the batter rest and not stir it they plumped up a bit. The second time around I did a lot better and we all love them. Compared to wheat flour, spelt is higher in both fiber and protein and full of nutrients like niacin, iron and zinc.


    •  2 cups (7 ounces) whole spelt flour
    • 2 tablespoons (7/8 ounce) sugar
    • 1 tablespoon baking powder
    • 3/4 teaspoon salt
    • 1 3/4 cups (14 ounces) milk
    • 2 tablespoons (1 ounce) unsalted butter, melted
    • 2 teaspoons vanilla (optional)
    • blueberries

    1. Mix flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl
    2. Mix melted butter, milk and vanilla
    3. Add wet ingredients to dry and mix well
    4. Let mixture stand for 15 minutes to thicken
    5. Heat a lightly oiled or non-stick pan over medium heat
    6. Pour batter into pan by 1/4 cupfuls. I ended up with about 16 medium sized pancakes.
    7. Drop in blueberries 
    8. Cook for about 2-3 minutes and flip carefully, cook for one more minute
    9. Enjoy!

    Black Bean Spinach Quesadillas

    This is the one recipe I created myself. If there's one thing I've mastered over years of picky eating it's quesadillas. I actually used to make them to trick myself into eating veggies with added peppers, broccoli, spinach and beans. I knew they would love it and sure enough it quickly became one of their favorites, once I felt confident enough to give them tortillas! I'm not sure why I was so worried about it, for some reason I thought they would struggle with biting and chewing them, but they got it down quick and devour them. I mash up the beans so they can't see them (otherwise they wouldn't eat them) and dice up the spinach and cover them with cheese.

    • 2 Whole Wheat tortillas
    • 1/2 cup cheddar cheese
    • 1/2 cup black beans
    • 1/2 cup fresh baby spinach leaves
    • coconut oil for frying 
    1. Heat a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat and add a dab of coconut oil
    2. Shred the cheddar cheese
    3. Mash the black beans
    4. Chop the spinach
    5. Spoon the black beans onto half of a tortilla and spread to cover
    6. Top with shredded cheese and chopped spinach
    7. Fold tortillas in half and fry for 3-4 minutes a side
    8. Cut into triangles and serve with salsa or sour cream

    Crockpot Applesauce

    From Cooking ala Mel - Slow Cooker Applesauce (No Sugar Added)

    I had no idea how easy it was to make applesauce until I tried it! They gobbled it up!  I can't wait for fall to get local apples and make huge batches to freeze!

    • 10 medium apples (I used Fuji)
    • 1 cup water
    • dash of cinnamon
    1. Peel and chop apples into chunks
    2. Add to crockpot and mix in water
    3. Add a dash of cinnamon
    4. Cook on low for 4-5 hours
    5. Blend with immersion blender and serve! 

    I've never been much of a cook, only in the last few years have I expanded my reach beyond pasta and sandwiches but having two litttle ones to cook for makes it so worth it and I am loving trying out all these recipes I've pinned on Pinterest over the years!

    What's your favorite recipe that I should try next?


    August 10, 2015

    What We Did Last Week (Week of 8/2/15)

    These little chicas are into everything these days! We have babyproofed a bit but mostly just created a huge baby safe space full of exploration baskets (in cabinets), drawers . With getting our dining room cleared out we opened it up and moved all their toys in there then converted their old play space into a reading/learning area. They love having the freedom to move and explore.

    We had our 1 year developmental pediatrics appointment and I'm so happy to say the girls exceeded expectations in almost every area! I was so worried about Viv's lack of babbling but she showed off and started doing it after coloring on paper for the first time! Jules was a pro with the mini blocks - not only did she stack three of them but she then picked them up one in each hand and dropped them all back in the cup. They were delightful most of the time and even showed off their BLW skills by eating blueberries and peas while we waited for the doctor.

    Nature and Outside Play

    The construction down the road is wrapping up soon so we walked over and watched them bringing in a bunch of things on huge forklifts and saw a cement truck pouring the parking lot too. I don't like taking pictures down there, I think the guys would think it was weird but the girls just stare at it all. They're fascinated by the big trucks and machines!

    We finally explored the grass more! They're crawling on it, but not too much yet, and they stick close to the blanket just in case! We also did more water play!

    We celebrated Aunt Kate's 30th Birthday at Nova's and they loved playing outside and looking at all the people. They're getting to be so social and will sit with most people now and just enjoy taking it all in! 

    Sensory and Exploration

    Now that they're mobile we're exploring new places a ton. This week it was Doctor's office waiting and exam rooms. Who knew that paper they put on exam tables could keep two 1 year olds entertained during the 45 minute wait for the doctor!? We crinkled it like crazy, played peek-a-boo, then tore it up and turned it into balls to toss and catch. And they even played like big kids at the developmental office - climbing right up to the train table and giving one little boy a run for his money! What happened to my babies?!

    I'm working on a post about one of my favorite bloggers, CanDo Kiddo, and all of her fantastic ideas. You can find them in her wonderful e-books Simple Play for Babies and Begin With a Blanket! (affiliate links) We got the chance to check them out and tried so many great new activities! This week we tried the carrot peel sensory activity, made a magnet board and tried out the cups on the coffee table activity. That one we even turned into a different game (see below).

    The carrot peel sensory activity was a huge hit - Viv played with them for almost an hour, Jules moved on to books after about 20 minutes but kept coming back to check in. The magnet board was fun for a few minutes until they realized they could take them all off and chew on them instead of unsticking and resticking. We'll keep trying though! Next week I'm hoping to try out some baby friendly play dough and once our new puzzles arrive that we ordered with their birthday money I'll be adding photos to those for them to discover. Make sure you check out Rachel over at CanDo Kiddo and get your hands on her ebooks on Amazon!

    Music, Movement and Games

    We listened to Disney songs this week and they are dancing along to so many of my favorites! They love The Lion King music, especially "I Just Can't Wait to Be King"! It's hilarious to see them shaking and bouncing up and down while trying to do something like stand or catch a ball.

    I also found a great Yoga playlist for when we're doing quieter or sensory activities. They focus more when there is less distracting sound.

    We're working on standing independently still and although neither has mastered it they're getting quite confident and trying it more and more. Sometimes they catch themselves off guard when they're leaning on something and use two hands to grab an object. It's funny to see how their bodies shift and balance out and they're not even aware of it.

    Their favorite game is chase and hide and seek with Daddy in the tent. Every night now when he comes home they both race to the tent and hide and giggle until he finds them. And back and forth they go forever! It is so cute!

    After trying out the Cups on the Coffee Table activity I discovered I could hold their attention a little longer if I switched the cups from over/on the coffee table to under the coffee table. They will stand and kneel down to look below and work on balance while they reach them with one hand. Then they practice dropping down and crawling under to grab them and tossing them back onto the table for me to do it all again. We tried it with balls, rags and bottle tops too. It was a great game!

    Favorite Toys

    Balls - This week they were really into their plastic balls. Jules loves throwing them, Viv loves mouthing them and banging them together and she's trying so hard to toss them.  We roll them down the tunnel, into baskets and pop them up in the air!

    Anything new to explore -  They are loving anything new and unusual. Sensory activities are working really well but anything novel catches their attention. The car seats before I got them back out to the car, a big box that got delivered (it made an awesome step for climbing while it was out here), the stroller, my water bottle pop top (which they now know how to open, awesome!), and as always the scrapbooks and picture books we have.

    Favorite Books

    I picked up some more dollar spot books at target last week and they're loving the pop up books although the stories themselves leave a bit to be desired - they're weird. They will open and close them over and over to see them pop out. They're getting better at looking at paper books and not trying to tear the pages out the whole time too!

    New Foods 

    I made a few new recipes this week and I'm working on a post to share them all. We tried homemade chicken fingers, baked eggplant, cottage cheese pancakes and turkey meatballs.

    We hope you have a great week!


    August 6, 2015

    12 Months!!!

    Well I'm a week late in posting this but I finally got it done! 

    Happy 12 Months to my girls!

    Birth: 4 lbs. 9 oz., 19 in. long
    Now: 16 lbs. 9 oz., 28 in. long
    I have 7 teeth
    I can: feed myself, crawl, babble, pull up, clap, wave, blow kisses, play peek-a-boo
    I love: mama milk, being outside, chasing the cats, throwing things
    Favorite foods: broccoli, sweet potato, blueberries, cheese 
    Favorite toys: stacking cups, plastic bottle caps, books, pictures, tent
    Favorite games: peek-a-boo, chase, tossing a ball
    Favorite books: Peek-a-Boo Babies, photo album

    Birth: 4 lbs. 2 oz., 17 in. long
    Now: 17 lbs. 8 oz., 28.75 in. long
    I have 8 teeth 
    I can: feed myself, crawl, cruise, duck, clap, wave, give kisses and hugs and babble (finally!)
    I love: eating, sleeping, going for car rides, climbing over my sister, escaping from anywhere
    Favorite foods: peas, avocado, raspberries, yogurt
    Favorite toys: rattles and shakers, guitar, blankets, blocks, tunnel
    Favorite games: hide and seek, chase, going upside down
    Favorite books: Peek-a-Boo Babies, Touch and Feel Animals


    Their 12th month was amazing and full of firsts. We had our first road trip and first visit to a lake, first vacation that included their first swim in a pool and trip to the zoo and their first tastes of cake for their birthday. They both mastered pulling up and Viv has cruising down. She's pretty close to walking (lord help me). Jules got cleared by her Urologist to go a whole year before her next ultrasound and her hydronephrosis is well on it's way to being healed.

    Our lives and home are getting back in order. The baby gear, bottles and clothes are in bins in storage ready to be donated back to my sister. Our kitchen and living room are no longer cluttered with baby necessities like bibs, burp cloths and diaper changing stations. I packed away my pumps and supplies because although we're still nursing there's no need to pump anymore. We finally rearranged our bedroom so that it actually resembles a bedroom again and not a storage container with a bed in it. We cleaned out the dining room to open up their playspace and I'm finally taking in kids at the end of the month. We have a fantastic schedule and routine down, they're sleeping well pretty much all the time (finally) and the drama and stress of the last year has finally died down a bit. It's amazing when I think back on where we were a year ago and how much has changed. Our baby girls are growing up.

    The bottom line: we survived the first year of twins. Not only that, but we thrived. It was one hell of a ride and one that I'm actually sad to put behind us. That said, I am so ready for the next adventure - this is where the real fun begins!

    Happy Happy Birthday to my beautiful baby girls! Love you!


    August 3, 2015

    What We Did In July!

    Well it's been quite some time since I've written one of our weekly recaps. What can I say, July was a very busy month with road trips, vacation, family get togethers, birthday party planning and their first birthday. That said we still made time for lots of fun and exploration!

    Nature and Outside Time

    We've been spending a lot of time just hanging out in the backyard in the morning before it gets too hot outside. With temps in the high 80s and high humidity none of us really enjoy it after a few minutes but I try to get out for at least a walk or bring a blanket to the park for a picnic and get under a nice shady tree at least once a day.  We blew bubbles, did water play, laid on the blanket and looked at the clouds, spotted quite a few butterflies and moths, watched a worm crawling on the ground and we're practicing touching (and not eating) the grass more - they hate the feeling of it and won't even try to crawl off the blanket. I'm not complaining, it sure makes my life easier, but I don't want them to be afraid of it forever!

    Sensory and Exploration

    Most of our sensory and exploration play these past few weeks has developed out of a need to redirect behavior. They have a huuuge yes space but they're still into everything and just figuring it all out. Most of my day is spent explaining, "I won't let you do this, you may do this instead..." For example: Playing in the cat's water dish >> outside water play. Climbing on mommy >> climbing on their little chairs. Pulling clean laundry out of the basket while mom folds >> pulling rags and towels out of their own basket. Smacking and banging on each other >> smacking and banging on the table, drums and the floor. Trying to crawl under the gate and over the cats >> obstacle course with pillows, tunnel and tent. Trying to eat grass >> having green beans for lunch.

    They are spending a lot of time pulling things out and down, like a few weeks ago with the laundry basket. Nothing is safe anymore so our house is pretty much a kid's space with bins and bowls set up all over the place with things for them to pull out and dump. We've also emptied the coffee table drawers and filled them with cloth and teethers. I know people will think we're enabling them and I should just tell them to stop but I want them to feel like they are welcome to explore and with such a tiny space it's impossible to avoid. We're getting lots of practice with cleaning up too!

    One of our favorite activities these past few weeks has been water play. It's been so hot and they're still leery of the pool so this works just fine. Although I think they drink more water than they play with, they are getting the hang of pouring and love splashing! They last about 45 minutes before they lose interest and dump the buckets all over themselves.

     We've discovered that our girl cat Willow is extremely patient and will let the girls pet her, pull her hair and lay on her with no issue. She's a petting fiend so we're happy to let them take over this duty of ours! We've spent a lot of time practicing gentle touches and modeling how to pet her without hurting her. The next obstacle is to help them differentiate between Willow and our bristly old boy cat Boots who is absolutely not as accommodating. We love him but he's a grumpus and I'm terrified he'll get them one of these days.

    Music, Movement and Games

    In honor of them nearly becoming toddlers we listened to Spotify's Ultimate Toddler Playlist a lot. I also played our birthday playlist which is full of my parenting love songs and a few of our other favorites.

    We did a bunch of obstacle courses, dancing and practicing standing unassisted. This consists of me letting them pull up on me while they let go for a few seconds over and over and over.  Once we set them out it only took them about 2 days to master climbing in and out of their new rocking chairs so we do a lot of that these days too!

    Jules is really into throwing things lately so she and Dad have been playing catch a lot with everything she can toss. Viv is into playing hide and seek and will wedge herself behind the gate, get into the tent and duck under the table and wait for you to find her then giggle like mad when you do.

    They're starting to get the hang of "If You're Happy and You Know It" and now clap when I start to sing it!

    Favorite Toys

    Their Boppy Chairs - They will spend forever just climbing in and out of them, sitting and playing with the buckles, pushing them across the floor and flipping them over to beat on them. It's so funny when you peak over and they're just chillin' in them chatting to each other.

    Blocks - They got a huge batch of wood blocks for their birthday and they love dumping out the bucket, banging on them, mouthing every single one and knocking over every tower we make!

    Pictures - Maybe they caught on to my nostalgic mood this week with them turning one but lately they have just loved sitting and flipping through their photo album, our family scrap book and photo books and their baby books. They recognize many people now and Jules will flip to a picture of someone if I ask her to. I love that they love this!

    Pillows - Every morning I toss our couch pillows on the floor and leave them there. They love going over and crawling over them, laying on them and rolling them up to roll off of. Simple play, it really is the best thing ever!

    Favorite Books

    We got lots of great new books for our birthday. One of our favorites is Llama Llama Red Pajama by Anna Dewdney, part of one of my all time faves, the Llama Llama series.  It's become our new favorite bedtime story!

    We also love the Big Book of Happy by Natalie Marshall and the fantastic Baby Touch and Feel box set.

    New Foods

    We've tried a ton of new foods lately: kiwi, apricots, grapes, honeydew melon, zucchini, red and yellow peppers, quesadillas, ice cream cake, romaine lettuce, tomatoes and summer squash.

    I am still in the process of writing our 12 Month/1 Year update. It's taking me a while because I've been busy wrangling my crazy 1 year olds, updating their baby books and working on our yearbook photo book. I still can't believe it's been a year!

    Hopefully I'll get back into my weekly updates soon!