Thursday, February 28, 2013

Adventures in Feeding Twins Real Food

I've been a terrible blogger. I've been largely uninspired and in some kind of slump. I'm not sure what the deal is, but I hope I get over this... How long can I blame my crummy moods on hormones? Do we get a pass on this for at least a year? 

I think Ella is teething. That or she is developing colic at 5.5 months of age. She has periods in the afternoon when she will just cry and scream. She is inconsolable. It's awful. Nothing wears on me more than a crying baby (especially when the other baby needs attention/needs to eat at the same time). Tylenol calms her down within 15 minutes, but it's just awful. I've had a few rough days....

Thanks for all your responses on my last post. If that damn manual shows up I will be sure to make and distribute copies! I love the support I have found via blogging. You ladies are awesome! I promise I will catch up on your blogs soon!!

I wrote this, but then thought 'I sound all high and mighty about my choice of food.' This is not my intent. If you are using jars for food you go right ahead! We have a bunch of jars in a cabinet because I don't have time to make food sometimes. This is just what I have chosen to do. Making food for the babies is enjoyable for me and it's what I'm doing. It's good for us. You do whatever is good for you!

The time has come. We have moved on to food. AHHHH! At our 4 month appointment our pediatrician said we could start whenever we felt the babies were ready. I did a lot (I mean A LOT) of research online. For some reason, I felt like I was getting a lot of mixed messages regarding feeding the twins food. Some sources say to wait until 6 months before feeding anything. Others say to follow your babies lead and feed when they are ready. As a follow the rules kinda gal, I found this confusing. Feed them too early and they will be obese adults. Feed them too late and they won't have developed a taste for food and will be picky. What the hell is a mom supposed to do? It didn't help that my husband was on board with whatever I wanted to do. I'm not good at making decisions...

One day we just went for it. That fancy blender we got as a wedding gift 6.5 years ago came out of the basement and we started making food! (Who knew blenders were good for more than just making up a batch of margaritas?! Up until this point, that's all we used the blender for-summer fun!) The babies had gone from taking in about 26-25 oz per day each to pounding down over 40 a few days. We both thought they were eating more, watching us eat and they were ready. At around 4.5 weeks we attempted feeding. We started with rice cereal (not with successful results). I found the Wholesome Baby Food Guide online to be a source I liked so I ordered their book off of Amazon as well. I wanted to make our babies food if possible and they had a no fuss laid back approach to why you should feed your babies certain foods at certain times as well as how to make food and a variety of recipes. I like the information the book provided in terms of feeding (why certain foods are important, how to add spices to their foods, when to try foods etc.)

We ordered high chairs from Target (we went with the Graco DuoDiner 3 in 1-and love it!). I wish we would have ordered the chairs sooner. They love to sit in them (they recline) and play with toys. It's a great way for me to get cooking done. They love to sit in the chairs with toys with music on while I sing and dance around the kitchen making dinner or baby food. They smile (and sometimes laugh) at my dancing-what this says about my dance moves you can figure out for yourself... When the book arrived we jumped on to the feeding train and haven't looked back.

Ella took to eating instantly. She was grabbing for the spoon, opening wide and making little 'mmm' sounds on every bite. Evan was a little more reluctant. He would just take a few bites initially and did not find it to be useful; he found playing with his new meal time bib to be much more entertaining. After about a week, Evan started realizing the stuff we were putting near his mouth was useful and he started to enjoy it as well. They both eat very well and I have yet to find something they have not liked. Evan is always skeptical on the first bite. He slowly swallows and furrows his brows in deep concentration while Ella 'mmm's' and is ready for more! These two could not be more different...

They initially started out only eating about 1-2 tbsp once a day. I fed them after their morning nap. Over a few weeks they have moved on to about 1/2 cup. They are still taking it about 30 oz of formula a day. Since they have gotten the hang of it, we started feeding them in the evening as well. I try to have dinner cooked/nearly ready when my husband gets home and we all sit down to eat. I LOVE it! We bought a new 8 chair dining room table in Dec and I absolutely love sitting down in the dining room to have a family dinner. I have dreamed about this...

Since we started feeding food at dinner, they have had large improvements in sleeping through the night. We now have a great routine down-we sit down to eat around 6-6:30. One of us cleans up while the other unloads the babies onto a blanket in the living room. We have play time for a while then change into PJ's and feed around 7. By 7:30ish they are in bed and sleep until 5-6 (7 if we are lucky). Someone will typically need a paci around 4, but other than that they are sleeeeeping. One Sunday I woke up on my own at 7:48 am. WOKE UP ON MY OWN! WOKE UP without a baby crying! WHOA! Of course I thought they were dead or someone stole them. Anyway, I honestly think the food has helped keep them full and satisfied overnight.

I'm feeding them a fruit or veggie in the morning (usually by 9:30) and they get a grain (barley/oatmeal/brown rice) with a fruit or veggie mixed in during the evening. So far they have had green beans, avocado, squash, sweet potatoes, bananas, pears, applesauce, barley, oatmeal and brown rice as well as combos of them (green veggie monster-avocado, green beans & apple sauce).  I just started adding cinnamon to a few dishes. The book has spices you can add to help develop your babies palate-I love this concept! All of the foods I have made and they didn't take much time (less than 30 minutes for blending, clean up etc). I read during my research that babies who are fed food over jars will be less picky in the long run (we'll see!). It's really not a lot of work to cook a few sweet potatoes, throw them in the blender and freeze them in ice cube trays. The food defrosts quickly and there is a big difference in taste and texture between the jar food and food I make (we've tried a few jars along with way). We're moving on to the next section in the book for foods recommended for 6-8 months and I can't wait to try out new recipes.

I really love feeding the babies. I love cooking myself, so being able to cook for them and watch them eat and enjoy the food is great! It's one of my favorite things so far!

Now I need to get inspired to make it out of this slump. I want to finish the week strong. Was there a meltdown Monday? Yup, sure was.... I'm having a hard time feeling inadequate and feeling like I'm not doing a good enough job. It's impossible to get it all done. Maybe I can figure out how to add more hours into the day. In the meantime there is coffee....

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Newest Napping Nuisance

I should have known that once I typed the story of Evan's boot camp napping story that things would change... 
We conquered this napping stuff. He was snoozing with the best of them. But then he decided to change it up. I have a feeling our family CEO will always be keeping me on our toes...

Here's the deal. Once last week he was eating silly and I knew it was because he was tired so I put him down to nap. Well, he didn't want to nap. After screaming for a while I thought to myself 'he didn't eat much. I bet he's still hungry.' Idiot. (I'm referring to myself as the idtiot just to be clear.) He did in fact eat, but somehow this started some kind of habit. You would have thought I put crack in the bottle or something (promise I didn't) because for the next several days he was hooked. He could pound down 7 ounces and go down for a nap 5 minutes later and he would SCREAM bloody murder until I fed him more. AHHHHH!!!!

I had a meltdown on Monday. Monday around here has been dubbed 'Meltdown Monday' by my significant other. Not good. That man is a saint to put up with me. I need to get it together. For Good. I gave in and kept feeding him. I just wanted him to stop crying and be quite. It was an addiction. I thought 'hey last time he screamed and wouldn't nap he wanted more to eat.' Idiot. I shouldn't have done it.

Well, we had several days of craptastic naps and extra feedings. You may think, who cares if the kid wants to eat a few more ounces before napping? When you have another baby who needs attention and/or needs to eat I don't have time to do double feedings.

I had to suck it up the last few days and let that baby cry. Wow, can he cry. He went for 30 minutes yesterday!! I checked on him with my nap boot camp routine. Today he only cried for 10. I hope we are back on track... It is so hard to watch tears run down his face and I feel awful, but I have to do it. It's for his good. Right? I keep telling myself that so I can stay strong.

I hope this is the last kink and he becomes a decent napper. Yup, I would settle for decent at this point. Just go to sleep man!!! 

Anyone else have a similar experience? Do I have the worst napper in the world? Am I doing the right thing? WHY WON'T HIS MANUAL SHOW UP IN THE MAIL ALREADY!!!

I know why God made that baby extra I could put up with all of his little quirks.

Happy Valentine's Day!

I might be obsessed with taking pictures of these two and editing them on various apps...I may need photo rehab. I may have 1,700+ pics on my iPhone. I just can't help it!!
Here are some of their Valentine's Day pics. My friend, Heidi, made the adorable initial onsies for the babies. My mom bought them the cute outfits. To celebrate, we made cupcakes and a card with their hand prints for their dad. The babies ate green beans. Evan asked where the lobster was. Well, maybe he just gave me a look that said, 'green beans?! You can do better than this!' 
The holidays (any holiday) is extra special because of these two! Happy Valentine's Day to all of you!! I hope it's filled with love!!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Adventures in Cloth Diapering Twins

When I tell most people we have chosen to cloth diaper the twins their reaction is one of disbelief and shock. I get asked 'why' a lot. Is is that odd of a choice? I don't think so. Cloth diapering is one of the things in parenting that is all the rage these days. I posted a status on FB looking for advice and was bombarded with advice on cloth diapering.

So, why have we decided to cloth diaper? I have to justify our choice to most people so I may as well start there. We all know cloth diapering is better for the environment (I'm a bit of a tree hugger and honestly felt a twinge of guilt when I saw how many disposable diapers we tossed into the trash), costs less, keeps your baby away from chemicals that are on disposables (less rash, less blowouts etc), and supposedly babies are easier to potty train when in cloth (we'll test that one eventually). With twins you go through a lot, I mean A LOT of diapers. No matter how many large boxes we'd buy, it felt like we were always running to the store to pick up more and dropping $50-75 a pop to stock up on disposables was not ideal.

Now that you have our reasoning, on the fun stuff. That is, if you consider cloth diapering fun... One of our shower gifts from my parents and grandparents was a stash of bum.genius 4.0 diapers. We had previously planned on using g.diapers and had done zero research on bum.genius at this point. My family had asked my sister in law what she used for her son and she used these diapers so that's why they bought us those. She tried out several different types of diapers before settling on one. A lot of people go this route, but if you have twins, you really do not have time to sample all the types... My husband had off two weeks at the end of the year and we were kind of getting the hang of things so we decided to bust out the cloth diapers we got at the shower. I figured with two of us home it would be a good opportunity to try it out. We tried it and never turned back! I was prepared to not like the bum.genius diapers because when I had time to research I really liked the g.diaper system. I'm sure the g.diapers are great, but on our trial run of the bum's they worked really well and we just stuck with them. We purchased 2-4 every week or so to build up our stash and slowly phased on the disposable diapers. Right now we are using 2-4 disposables per day. We use disposable overnight because I'm not sure how the cloth would hold up to 10+ hours of pee. 

Here's our system: We use the diapers throughout the day. Wet diapers go in a tote bin upstairs in a storage area. Diapers with poo need to be cleaned out. I either grab an extra wet wipe or two and peel if off and throw the wet wipe in the small garbage can we have on the garage steps (we use it for disposables as well) or take it in the bathroom and use toilet paper to grab it and flush it away. It all depends on the consistency. It then goes upstairs into the tote.

At the end of the day when we change the babies and put them in a disposable to go to sleep, one of us throws all the diapers from the day in the wash. We run them through on a cold water cycle (no detergent). After the babies are in bed and we're heading to bed, one of us throws in a bit of detergent (you don't use much at all) and runs the diapers through on a hot cycle. In the morning when we get up, we put them in the dryer. The outside shell is supposed to be air dried, but we don't have enough to get by waiting for them to air dry at the moment so I dry them on low. Within about 30 minutes they are dry and ready to go! One of us will get them out and stuff them and we're set to go for the day!

What I don't like: taking out the inserts at the end of the day is kind of gross (they are soaked with pee), when Evan is very active (jumping around in his activity chair) he sometimes wets out, removing poo from a diaper is just not on the top of my list of fun things to do (especially now that we are moving on to solid foods), they are bulky under clothes and not convenient for going out (we do disposables if we are going to be out).

What I like: the bum.genius diapers fit them from 8-35 pounds (the g.diapers came in different sizes so we would have had to buy new shells as they grew), it doesn't take as much effort as I thought (once we got used to them the cloth routine was just part of the day), it's incredibly fantastic to NOT have to go to the store to buy diapers and spend $ every week on them, they are incredibly cute (check out the Einstein diaper we recently picked up! Equations all over and it says I'm a genius, they are more natural and I don't have to worry about diaper rash or blow outs (haven't had either) and we're doing our part to help reduce our carbon foot print.

If you are thinking about cloth diapering, I highly recommend waiting for a few weeks/months before starting it. If we would have started it right away when we brought the babies home, I know we would have gotten overwhelmed and would have quit. It surprisingly is not a lot of work; much less than we both had anticipated.

That's my take on cloth diapering. We kept it simple and it's working. I LOVE it and highly recommend it!

Monday, February 4, 2013

The Boy Who Wouldn't Nap

Our little Evan is a hellish napper....he has been since he grew out of the newborn sleep anywhere phase. He sleeps well at night- he's been going down with little to no problem around 8 and wakes up around 2 and then 6 to eat. Since Ella sleeps through from 8-6, it's has just been him waking up to eat. So overnight no big deal. Day time is a pain in the ass.

We've been having both babies sleep in a quiet area downstairs in their rock n plays. Evan needed to be swaddled, rocked, have a paci and be placed just so on his side to fall asleep. It typically would take 2-4 tries to get him down and I could easily drain 30-40 min attempting to get him to nap. In between attempts he would scream. Once he was down, he'd sleep from 1-3 hours no problem. It was just getting him to go to sleep that was the issue.

His screaming started to wake Ella from her naps so I transitioned her into her crib for naps. It took a few tries and a few trips up and down the stairs, but she goes down without a problem. I notice she is tired and I run her up to her crib, rock her for a minute, give her a paci and her taggie and put her down. The girl is nuts about her taggie blanket. She goes to sleep much faster when she has it and she insists on covering her face with it. It makes me nervous, so I'll go in and move it off of her face only to see it back in 5 minutes. Here is a pic of my crazy napping girl. We don't practice safe napping at our house.

Once she was transitioned (one thing at a time!), I decided it was time to start working on Evan the Terrible Napper. Of course, the first few attempts were utterly futile. He'd be screaming the second I bent to put him in the crib. I caved and would just put him down in the rock n play. Cue the frustration, because it was still taking over 30 minutes to get him settled down for a nap. Ridiculous. However, I didn't know what to do...

I reached my breaking point two weeks ago. I was trying to get him down in the crib in the morning and he kept crying. I snapped and started whining to Collin about how he was the worst napper ever, how I didn't know what the hell to do, how frustrated I was etc. It wasn't good. I hate when I get whiney like that... I hopped in the shower, sulking, and Collin continued to get ready for work. When I got out of the shower, he had scrambled eggs, toast and coffee waiting for me to help pull me out of my bitter mood. It worked. I also decided it was time to come up with some kind of plan for this boy's napping issues.

You see, I like plans. I don't like living in chaos. I like to be organized. This napping business has been chaos. I know there isn't a clear cut answer for what to do to get the kid to nap. His instruction manual never showed up in the mail...I decided it was time to embark on Nap Boot Camp.

So here is how we turned our Evan the Terrible Napper into Evan the Excellent Napper. Nap Boot Camp Week One: I paid close attention to awake times; from what I read online babies this age should be awake for a max of 2 hrs. Evan tends to get fussy around the 1.5 hour mark. Once I noticed he was tired, I instantly took him upstairs, closed the curtains to make the room dark and turned on his sound machine. I then proceeded to swaddle him and rock/sing to him for a few minutes (I need some new lullabies because I am getting sick of the same three I sing!). I then put him down in his crib. If he started crying at this point I shushed him and gave him a paci. I did this a few minutes. No matter if he was still fussing or not, after a few minutes I left the room. I gave him 5 minutes to try to sooth himself. If he was still fussing, I returned to the room and again gave him his paci, rubbed his head and talked to him for another couple of minutes. No matter what he was doing at this point, I left the room again and gave him 10 minutes to try to sooth himself. After 10 minutes I would return and do the same. I didn't have to go beyond the 10 minute mark, but if I did my plan was to return in 15 minutes.  You get the picture.

Boot Camp Week One Results: Evan would fuss the minute I put him in his crib, but I stuck with my above plan and he'd put himself to sleep in 10 minutes by the end of the week. The first few days were rough. He napped for very short periods of time (20-30 min) and was exhausted by the end of the day (which also made one exhausted mama). However, I stuck with it and things greatly improved by the end of the week. He was taking 45 min-1 hour naps and putting himself to sleep with minimal fussing. A small victory for me!

Boot Camp Week Two: Collin mentioned working on unswaddling him for naps. He said he'd work on it over the weekend with Evan to give me a break from the nap boot camp. He's gotten too strong for swaddling and frequently busts out of the swaddle thus waking himself up and ending the nap. It was time to unswaddle. Who knew teaching a 4 month old baby to nap could be so exhausting? I was feeling like I could conquer the world after the positive results I saw from our first week of napping boot camp so I decided I'd give the unswaddling a whirl. I laid him down in his crib (without being swaddled) after rocking/singing, gave him his paci and taggie blanket and followed the plan I used during the first week.

Boot Camp Week Two Results: The first three days were a disaster. Evan would lay in his crib and flat out refuse to nap for 1-2 of his naps (they typically nap three times a day). He'd lay in his crib babbling and crying on and off, but I left him in there for 45 minutes. The naps he did take didn't last long (about 30 min), but I was strong and didn't give in. I kept up my napping plan despite the crying and crabby baby I had on my hands. By the third day, there was minimal fussing and he starting putting himself to sleep within 5-10 minutes! He still skipped a nap here and there, but he didn't cry during his skipped naps. He babbled to himself and played with his taggie so I left him in his crib for 45 min. By the end of the week...wait for it...he was NAPPING!!! YES! I'd only have to go in 1 time to sooth him and he was napping about an hour at a time. He also STARTED SLEEPING THROUGH THE NIGHT!!! 

Yup, that's right! He is completely easy to put down for a nap now. I don't even watch him constantly to whisk him away at his first sign of tiredness. I know when he's tired and I put him in his crib and he easily goes down for a nap. 1-2 min of rocking, a paci and a taggie. BAM! That boy is asleep. Gone are the days of begging him to nap while I futilely rocked him, swaddled him and became anxious over our 30-40 min nap routines and end up in tears at some point in the day.

I can't tell you how much relief this has brought into my day! I can put both babies to sleep with ease for their naps. They are also on the same nap schedule and this means I get a break from doing everything baby all the time. I am cleaning, doing laundry and cooking meals these days! I remember when we first brought the twins home, I didn't think I could ever be a functioning human being again. We've come a long way!

We've been putting the babies to bed around 7-8 pm and they have been sleeping until 5-6 am. It's a beautiful thing. We have a schedule during the week that is predictable and we're having fun! I can't believe how fast they are growing up! Evan sprouted a bunch of blonde hair overnight. He went from bald to fuzzy blonde!

We got high chairs last week and have moved on to starting solids! Ahh!! More to come on that later.

Friday, February 1, 2013

The Help

My grandmother came down to spend a week with us when we were in the midst of our craziest time with the twins. She saved my sanity!! But, upon her leaving, she highly suggested we hire some kind of help. She is the only one of our family that spent time with us when things were at their busiest so I often feel like she is the only one who REALLY gets it.

After she left we talked about hiring someone to come in for a few hours to help with the babies. I quickly poo pooed this idea because I'm a bit stubborn and for whatever reason had a strong desire to do this on my own. Depending on the day/week we came back and revisited this topic a few times. There were times I thought it would be a good idea to have someone come in a few hours a week just to give me a break. But, Evan has been such a high maintenance baby, I really did not ever feel comfortable leaving him with one person. I feared they would run away screaming. Hell, I'm his mom and wanted to run away screaming on many occasions. Yeah, I did leave him twice with a friend, but she is the ONLY one I felt comfortable leaving him alone with...she's a Respiratory Therapist in a NICU so I figured if nothing else she could at least keep the kid breathing (he's been known to cry so hard he holds his breath).

Another topic we discussed several times was hiring a cleaning person. My husband was pushing for this option. Again, being the stubborn independent chick that I am, also passed on this one. For some reason I thought people would view me as lazy if I hired someone to clean plus I want to clean. Plus I like cleaning. While I was running around cleaning today (we have friends coming over tonight) I kicked myself for not checking into a cleaning service. It could be nearly 3000 sq ft of house is a huge undertaking. The house is never spotless. But, I am a bit of a clean freak and I know that whatever a cleaning service would do it would not be good enough. I usually don't even like my husband to clean. Sure, I like his help, but I like to clean my way. Is this crazy? Yes, the answer is yes. I'm blaming my parents for making me like this-they were/are extremely clean people. Not the worst quality I could have inherited I suppose.

Of the two options, cleaning and nanny, I'd much rather go with nanny. I want to do my own cleaning. Now that Evan is turning into a less high maintenance baby, I'm starting to feel more comfortable about the thought of leaving him with someone. Once again, the thought of a part time nanny has entered my head. How do you find a nanny you can trust? We paid well over $20k to bring these babies here and walked through hell in the process, so there is no way I'd just pick some lady willy nilly and leave them with her. Is this normal behavior? Am I just a new mom and worrying too much? I'm thinking maybe by the spring it would be nice to hire someone. I don't know. Maybe I'll change my mind again...

For those of you who have done this in the past, how did you hire someone trustworthy? Any advice you can offer would be appreciated!