September 27, 2015

Ten Tips for Surviving Teething Twins!

We had our first Dentist appointment a few weeks ago! After a quick cleaning and fluoride application the girls were all smiles and their teeth checked out great. The hygienist was shocked at how many teeth they have - at the time they had 11 and 9. Now our total is 12 and 10 at just 14 months old!

They're not awful when they're teething, they're just not themselves for the most part. But some days and nights have been really bad. Like when Viv was getting ALL FOUR of her molars at the same time. Thankfully Jules' teeth tend to come in one at a time spaced by weeks! After trying every trick in the book we've discovered what works for them and now run down the list when we things get rough. Here's some of our favorite teething remedies and soothers:

Amber Necklaces


When I say they're not awful when they're teething it's likely because they've been wearing these since before they even started. I don't know how bad they'd be without them and I don't want to know! The science behind amber necklaces might be lacking but after reading so many personal testimonials I had to try them. Maybe it's a self-fulfilling prophecy but I swear they work.

We have never had a drool issue (I mean it - they just don't drool) and while I can still tell when they are teething  (it's amber, not a miracle worker) it is so much worse when I don't put their necklaces on. They don't always need them and I sometimes forget to put them on but as soon as I start to notice the mood change, red face and clinginess I pop them on and they're happier in minutes. They definitely work for us!

Teething Necklace for Mom

It's not just babies that get fancy new jewelry once those buggers start popping - us Moms can get some too! Fashionable and functional teething necklaces are one of the latest crazes in the mom world and we totally get it in this house. I own two and love them. The girls are usually pretty independent but right around the time a tooth pops they love their snuggles and don't like to be put down. These necklaces give them something extra to ease the ache when they're on top of me. They are also great for keeping their hands busy while nursing which cuts down on scratches for me.

I started with a knotted fabric necklace that is adorable and they love to chew on it and play with it. My only issue was the length. No matter how long I made it I felt like it wasn't long enough for them to both play with while nursing, which is one of the main benefits for us. They're not usually made for two babies though so all in all it is a great necklace and definitely helps with the teething pain.

I recently had the opportunity to try a necklace from Little Teether and we love it! The silicone beads are soft but have enough give to massage their gums plus they're BPA free and food grade safe. I love the length - it easily fits over your head and keeps their little hands (nails) far away from your chest so less scratches when nursing! It's especially perfect for twins since both of the girls can play with it while tandem nursing and not choke me out! 

It also has a breakaway clasp rather than a tie so I'm not getting whiplash every time they yank on it. Not to mention it just looks cute. I don't tend to accessorize (I'm boring) but I love that the light purple color goes my clothes and the hearts add a cute little touch. The best part is that cleaning is a breeze. I just  wash with a little soap and rinse really well and we're good to go!

Sterling Silver Teething Rings


These things are gold. Well, I mean, they're silver, but they work SO well. There's something about the feel of the silver on their gums that helps with the pain and they love them. They have a little rattle to them and make a cool sound when you shake them so they make a great toy too. They're pricey but my generous Aunt Jude gifted them to us after remembering how her babies loved to chew on her Tiffany bracelets. 

High chair straps

We noticed they always chewed on straps, especially when teething. When they started eating real food the shoulder straps on their highchairs got disgusting in a few days so we just took them off. A few days later they were miserable, teething messes. They both had their top teeth coming in and nothing was working. That's when I remembered the straps in the clean laundry. Worked like a charm. They gnaw on them forever. They even wrap the strap around their hands and bite down as hard as they can and suck on them too. Super easy and free with purchase of a high chair!

Water Filled Frozen Pacifier

Long after they gave up their pacifiers at 6 months old they still take these to help with the pain. Fill the nipple of a pacifier with water and freeze them for about 45 minutes. I do four at a time and refill them as they melt. It's got the benefit of the softness of the nipple and the cold to ease the pain. 

Cool Foods

Luckily most babies don't start really getting teeth until after they turn 6 months old which is great because there are a ton of foods to help ease the pain! Our go-to before they had teeth were raw cold carrot sticks since they couldn't break off chunks with just their gums. They also like cucumber sticks, yogurt, applesauce, frozen waffles, apple slices, avocado and cheese sticks which all provide cooling relief without hurting their swollen gums to chew.


Breastmilk Popsicles

I didn't have any actual pospicle makers so I just took some expressed milk, poured it in a clean ice cube tray and dipped their pacifiers in. They work so well! They could hold them and suck on them and they got the added benefit of nutritious milk rather than plain water.  If you're worried about the mess you could wrap a washcloth around it but my girls preferred them this way.

Teething Toys



If I had to buy stock in one baby item it would definitely be anything with the word teether attached to it. Parents will spend a small fortune trying to ease baby's pain with a vast array of products promising to soothe and I think we have at least one of every single type. This is good because depending on what type of pain they're feeling they may prefer something hard, something squeaky or something squishy. Here are some of their favorites (affiliate links):

1. Sophie The Giraffe and her knock-off friends Coco the Monkey and Kiki the Elephant
2. Bright Starts Ring
3. Bright Starts Gel Keys
4. Bright Starts First Bites Frog Teether and Nuby Silicone Teether with Bristles
5. Sassy Terry Teethers
6. Lots o Links
7. Genius Babies Soft Stacker Parts

Hyland's Teething Tablets

Don't let their bad press a few years ago scare you off. After a voluntary recall due to fears of belladonna causing seizures back in 2010 they worked with the FDA and reformulated the product. Read more here. We give them two or three if they wake up in pain and they seriously help take the edge off. I took a few myself and you can feel how they work and melt right in your mouth.

Pain reliever

When all else fails we dose 'em up. I kid, but not really. Sometimes they're so uncomfortable they're not able to sleep or eat. And they bite. Oh how they bite me when they're teething. Everything else above takes the edge off but there comes a point where they just need a break from the ache. We've given acetaminophen and ibuprofen and find the best results with infant Motrin. Call your pediatrician for accurate dosages based on weight and pay attention to the time if you need to give more than one dose so you don't overdose.

Teething is no picnic no matter how many babies you have so I hope you're able to find some relief with some of our tips!

What works best for your little loves? 


September 24, 2015

What We've Been Up To!

Jules isn't miserable, she smiled just before and after this pic I swear.

I did monthly posts for their entire first year but now I'll settle down and do semi-annual (maybe tri-annual?) updates on my little ladies who are getting so big! It's been a whirlwind few weeks and if it weren't for my camera I don't know if I'd even remember half of what we've been doing. The girls are doing so many things, communicating more, playing and growing up a little more each day.

Jules took her first steps tonight! Viv took hers last week but hasn't since so we don't have walkers yet, thankfully, but we're so close! I don't know what I'll do then!  I always tell people I'm not encouraging it, but what I mean is I'm not rushing it since my life will be that march harder. But it's not like I'm discouraging them - I'm just letting them figure it out. And they are!

After weeks of cruising on everything, crawling faster than I can run and climbing more and more they finally started standing up on their own for like 25 seconds but would never move a muscle! It was so fun watching them figure out that whole balance thing we all take for granted! I've never really walked them and they've never used a walker so I was interested to see how it would happen. Jules had a stuffed animal in each hand and was just standing there like always when I reached out to her. She started to fall forward but instead took a step, then another one and then dropped the animals and knelt to the floor. That was it, but it was awesome!

I could really see the logic in her eyes - figuring out that she couldn't just fall as her hands were full. It was like her body took over from there because and she's been practicing that movement with climbing and cruising she knew what to do without holding on for the first time.

They are climbing and standing on everything (SO grateful for the climber so I can redirect them to a safe place to do it) but the couch standing is killing me. They now try to climb up the back of the couch by standing on their rocking chairs. They're gonna be the death of me.

Best. Gift. Ever.
They conquered their fear of the grass and are now everywhere. Thank goodness for the playyard so I get a break when I'm so done chasing them around but don't want to go inside. They love to explore the yard, watch the shadows of the trees on the grass and chase balls. They discovered tonight that they could climb up the cellar door so now I have to block that off somehow since it's like 90 years old and gross. Jules hates the feeling of the concrete on her knees so she crawls on her feet and Viv loves getting dirty and scratching at the ground.

Having R here has been great for the girls as they now to have someone to watch and interact with other than each other. They're talking all the time although they only really say a or sign a few words, it's mostly just a lot of sounds and noises. Jules discovered how to flip her lip with her finger and Viv's favorite thing to do is blow raspberries so that's fun! They both say Daddy, Mama, ca (for cat), ba for ball and, super randomly, teeth. They sign more, milk, eat and all done. They've recently started pointing at objects and things when I say the words. They know the meaning of no but mostly they just note the change in my tone of voice. I only say no when they do something I really don't want them to do, like stand on their chairs or push each other.

Willow Pillow (coined by Jillian) and Jules - BFFs

 One of my favorite parts of having a big kid here is that I'm coming up with lots more play ideas that I can modify for them. They are playing SO much now and unless they're tired or hungry will play independently for nearly an hour without any intervention from me. Our new play space definitely contributes to this, as well as the fact that they have a huge yes space spanning the living room and play area so they are free to roam and explore without me needing to be right on top of them. They have just started really playing "together" as much as 1 year olds do - it's mostly side-by-side play but they are interacting (even if it's just exchanging a toy back and forth) and make each other laugh all the time. Today I heard them them giggling and looked out from the kitchen and they're in the tent, both laying on their bellies banging blocks together just laughing at the sound. This is by far the best thing about having twins - built in best friend and a play date that never ends. Sure in a few months they'll be driving each other nuts but right now it's awesome.

They are still nursing 4-5 times a day along with eating 3 meals and a snack after their afternoon nap. We've officially hit the picky toddler stage and they are testing their tastes, declining certain foods and refusing to try new foods. Luckily their favorite foods are super healthy broccoli, peas, cauliflower, avocado and almost all fruit. They have put their feet down about no carrots, squash or zucchini but are finally eating chicken and meat, but only if I put spaghetti sauce on it. Like their mom they would survive on cheese and crackers if I let them but I'll take what I can get right now and just keep offering them everything!

We now have our PM snack on the living room floor 'cuz why not? Just don't tell Daddy!
Viv has 12 teeth and Jules has 11. No cuspids (fangs) yet and I'm not looking forward to those coming in as I hear they're even worse than molars. I'm working on a post about my favorite teething remedies so look for that next week! They both hit 30 inches last month so it was time to trade in our infant seats and upgrade (post coming about that too!) and they weigh just about 19 lbs. each.

Like always time is flying by and I can't believe they're already almost 14 months old. What's even crazier is my sister was born when I was their age and I have SO much admiration for my own mother right now as I can't imagine having a newborn right now! We will be having a new addition in a few months though as I'll be taking in my nephew, Zack who is due in February, when my sister goes back to work. I can't wait to see how the girls do as big cousins!


September 20, 2015

Parenting: The Most Epic Mind Game You'll Ever Play

Yes, this is a stock photo. I apparently don't take pictures of my kids messing with my head. For good reason, I'm sure.

I wrote before about The Five Most Common Parenting Fails.  This week I realized that aside from being terrifying and dangerous, parenting is actually just one big mind game that you will never ever figure out. Starting from the second you see those two pink lines and you run the gamut of emotions: you're excited, but terrified, so happy, but also a little sad and all of a sudden you're sure this was a mistake - how can you be a parent!? Whether you've been trying forever or got yourself a real live oops baby does not matter. Embrace this, as it is about to become your new normal. I'm starting to wonder why any of us actually choose to do this to ourselves!? Here's how it goes:

Big Fat Positive Test:

You think, "If I'm just just educated and informed then it will all be easier! I will read and learn and be the best mom ever!"

I hate to break this to you. But all those carefully chosen plans you're making? They go out the window like the second you go into labor.

Good on you if you do your research and learn all you can about that dolphin assisted ocean delivery, plan to breastfeed until they're 5, set healthy sleep habits from the beginning or try to raise a doctor or a lawyer. I did the same thing! But the idea that you can somehow control for things like that is just that - a great idea. The reality being that from here on out shit doesn't always almost never goes to plan.

You're better off just going with the flow and learning as you go. Otherwise you risk losing your mind with the massive amounts of disappointment and stress that come from having your dreams and desires crushed by the will of one (or two) tiny creature(s). Why do we do this again?


Why does everyone keep saying "You will just know what is best! They're your babies!"? I know nothing!!!

You will hear this a lot probably. And yet you will so rarely feel like you know anything. In fact, you will never second guess anything so much as every single parenting decision you make forever from the second they are conceived.

Then there are the times you feel like you know even less than nothing as you've definitely lost some brain cells due to sleep deprivation

The best part is, what you do know and all those plans you made before don't work with your kid anyway. You will constantly wonder if you're doing it right or if you're just the worst parent in the world. You're not, you're probably great at it. But no matter how many times you hear it you so rarely feel that way. What is this sorcery?

At 2 weeks old: 

You believe that it has to be possible to "sleep when the baby sleeps" since that's what EVERYONE TELLS YOU TO DO.

Don't you just love that little tidbit of advice? You can try, but I'm warning you - as soon as you get a chance to lay down, whether for a quick nap or bedtime, that baby will probably wake up, no matter how long it's been since she went down. It's like they have a sensor that goes off as soon as you get comfortable. Whyyyy?

Worse yet, once your baby finally starts sleeping well you will still end up not sleeping, since you know that as soon as you start to drift she'll be up. So of course, she sleeps all night. You don't at all. Because parenting.

At 12 weeks old:

You need to get away and be yourself again, no kids, no milk, no more needs. Or you're gonna lose it. 

The crying, the poop and the lack of sleep are destroying your soul.

You are dying for some time alone, even if you lie about wanting it on facebook or IRL. But when you get it, you can't believe how weird it feels. You feel out of sorts, like a piece of you is missing or something. Probably because it is. Yes, you will hopefully enjoy your pedicure, while texting your SO every five minutes to check in about milk or poops.

You might even have a whopping two drinks while out with friends, but you bet your ass you'll be kicking yourself for missing precious time with them and start randomly poking them when you get home to wake them up and play.*

*Don't do that. It never ends well for anyone.

At 6 months old: 

You're feeling a little better but your marriage is in a rut so maybe a date night, away from the kids, will help. You set a rule: NO KID TALK.

Maybe you can do this. But more likely, when you finally get a night to yourselves all you can talk about is the kids. You don't want to - but you can't help yourselves. And after a while you don't even try to act like it's bothering you. You actually enjoy scrolling through photos of your kids while sharing a cheese plate.

Even worse is the fact that having a baby is a great way to make sure you hardly ever get to "practice" making another one. I hear that can be hard on even the best of marriages.  Because that makes sense - kids don't really need two happy parents after all, right? Did we really choose to do this to ourselves?

At 1 year old:

What the hell just happened?! Where did my baby go?! Damn it, they were right all along.

Remember all those moments that you wished they would just grow up and be "easier"? How about when you were SO sick of people saying "enjoy it while it lasts" or "you'll miss these days!"

Ugh, today you realized just how right they were. Not that it matters in the hard moments but maybe it should. Because one of the most awesome parts of this game is that you tend to miss more of it than you think you are. Because you're too busy being a person too.

And of course, in the blink of an eye they are that "easy" age and shit still ain't easy. So now you feel awful because it really did happen way too fast and you rushed it and you just want your little baby back for a second. Isn't that awesome? Just another part of the gig.

At 5 years old:

You shove away the memory of all the times you said, "Uggggh, I can't stand my mom! I'll never do that to my kids!"

Because you will do that and more.

In fact, you'll probably more of a pain than your mother because you know how hard you were on her. Often, even with the best intentions to "do better/different", you will forget everything you always hated that your parents did and turn right around and do them to your own kids.

I'm not really there yet but I already know how it will go. I will make them eat their veggies, clean up after themselves and go to bed early. All those terrible things that my parents did to me. We get it now. Not that we can do anything about it, but we finally understand why.

Because, all their lives, we just want them to grow up and be happy, healthy, wonderful people. Even if doing so means someday they will leave us.

This is the worst part of this parenting game.

You spend their whole lives protecting, praying for and worrying about them because you feel this unquantifiable love that you can't control. It's insane, heartbreaking and awesome all at the same time. And they just don't understand it. That is until they feel it themselves - only it won't be for you, but for their own children.

The truth is that with all the people we will ever meet, this is the only relationship we that we pour our hearts and souls into all while knowing, hoping even, that this person who we love more than anything will eventually leave us for someone else. 

And the cycle will start all over again.

Like I said, it's just an epic mind game! But so far I think it's worth it.


September 14, 2015

It's been too long so here's an update!

I'm back! Well, at the very least, I'm writing something new tonight so we'll see how it goes! I wanted to do a few updates on us!

I wrote last May about how I left my beloved job at the daycare with no plans of going back due to the twins. I have missed working but loved being home with the girls and I really could not afford to go back anyways as I would have paid almost as much as I made, just to watch my own kids.

The idea of working somewhere else and putting them in daycare killed me but I was willing to do it until I started calling around for openings for them. No one I would have sent them to had any infant spots and I was told by one place that they never have two infant spots open and if they did it would be months before the waiting list got to me. Another place had a job opening and spots for the girls but would only offer a 10% discount on one child after 6 months. I would have taken home around $300 a month and, to me, that was not worth the hassle of getting the three of us up and out the door by 8am every day, not to mention missing out on that time with my girls while focusing on my work.

So last summer I finally started looking in to taking in kids. In NYS I can legally watch two children who are not related to me without a license. I put ads on all the local mom swap groups and was contacted by no less than 5 infant parents. I gave serious thought to this but I had to turn them all down - I don't think I could handle the girls and a baby, even one close to their age. I honestly don't know how some of my twin mom friends with newborns are doing it right now - they're amazing! I decided to start with one  child over a year old and see how it goes.

Luckily a wonderful family found my ad and I started watching their 3 year old son R last week. He's awesome. Like, really cool, funny and so sweet. He reminds me a ton of the boy I nannied years ago. He's got a lot of energy but also likes to just relax and play too, as long as you're willing to answer his questions! He makes me laugh and the girls just love him. After only a day or two I could tell he was adjusting to them and has quickly learned what might make them cry (a sound we all share a dislike for) and he's learning the best ways to handle things like them taking a toy or being in his way.

Marble painting over a tape resist letter R -one of my all time faves!
I am loving having someone to plan activities for and to really play with - not to mention talk to! My bff Liz was over a few weeks ago and commented on how much I talk all day - but to myself. I narrate everything, ask questions, sing songs, yadda yadda - all day long and up until a few weeks ago they couldn't have cared less! They were all blank stares and straight up cold shoulder. I was not nearly as interesting as that cup over there. Now I actually have someone to have conversations with! And they're way better with a 3 year old than with some co-worker I might not even like. Of course I miss my daycare peeps, although talking with a some of them was like talking with a 3 year old sometimes (are you reading this one Bri?!)

Our nature walk haul from this morning!

I didn't realize how much I missed just going on nature walks, painting, coloring, using playdough and using real sensory bins - it's like little bits of therapy or meditation throughout the day for me! Sure, I can do some stuff with the girls but R really gets into it and I don't feel like I'm just avoiding doing chores anymore! The house may be messier and more cluttered but I'm "working!" CJ is catching on though so my days of using this excuse are numbered.

Yogurt painting with two one year olds - not the same.

I was so incredibly anxious about starting this but I'm really glad I did. It's helpful that he's 3 and the girls are generally easier (though you might want to ask me again in a few weeks when they're walking). We go for walks or do free play then he and I do activities while they sleep, which I then modify for them to use while he rests in the afternoon. It's really been a great experience so far and even CJ says he likes having another little dude around to chat with in the morning!

I do want to update our journeys with sleep, how we're growing and what we're doing, what we've been playing lately and some new recipes I've tried so those posts are in the works!  I hope you enjoyed the end of your summer and are as excited about Fall as we are!