Thursday, December 20, 2012

My Baby Favorites

When we were expecting our first child, I have to admit that I was really excited to register for gifts. I'm sure it's that way with most first-time parents: the perfect stroller, the cute sleepers with matching hats, the blankets that will look cute draped over the new rocking chair, the tiny colored socks for every little outfit, the toys and music that will stimulate little brains to higher IQs.

This time around it's a whole lot different. We have boxes of clothes, sleepers and hats. We got hand-me-downs til the cows come home. This time we are focusing on the practical and not the cute, although, cute does have some weight.

The first thing I did was weed through the toys. We simplified it to a few boxes: rings and rattles, blocks, toddler cars, and balls. They are all plastic so they can be sanitized. Sorry, little fuzzy monkey rattle, you're not welcome here anymore. If I couldn't clean it properly, it went in the trash or the garage sale pile.

Next, I got rid of all the cutsie socks that matched each outfit and got plain ol' white and gray socks that actually stay on their feet. I was tired of finding matches, or not finding matches. And they were always falling off and getting lost.

Then I went through the clothes. Because the babies are hooked up to wires and tubes they can only wear onsies and snap-up front pajamas. That meant all the cute outfits with pants and matching onsies were out. I left them in the box and only pulled out the snappy jammies.

Now onto the new stuff we didn't use the first time around. These things have become our necessities amid the downsizing of all our baby stuff. We use this stuff every day and I am so thankful for them! :)

$269.99 at Target

I had planned on nursing the twins until they were a year old. But I never did get Zeke to nurse and I was only able to get Caleb to latch on a few times and then he didn't really get anything substantial. So I pumped. A. LOT. When I was in the NICU, I used the hospital Medela pump. And when I was at home I used the home Medela Pump in Style. It is totally worth the cost, but if you're in a situation similar to ours, insurance will usually cover the it.

$9.99 for 50 bags at Target

When you're pumping a lot, you get a lot of milk. :) And I filled two deep freezers full of milk. That's right, two freezers. I was pumping every 3 hours for 30+ minutes and would skip the middle-of-the-night pumping. We started off freezing milk in little bottles we got from the NICU. But I was making so much milk that every time I pumped I would fill 3 bottles, that's 360ml or 12oz. And those little bottles took up a lot of space. I had used the Lansinoh Breastmilk Storage Bags with my first son and they proved to work great this time around. It was a lot easier to freeze the bags flat so they stacked nicely in the freezer. The only thing that I don't like about them is when they're frozen, they can get holes in the bottom corners of the bag if you drop them on the floor or they fall out of the freezer. So, just make sure you thaw them inside of a zip-lock bag.

Then you have to feed those babies all that milk. :)

$20.59 for a gift set at Target
I had used Playtex Bottles with our first boys so I thought they would work perfectly for the twins (mostly because I already had all the stuff). :) But these guys like to keep us hoppin'. Zeke had a terrible time eating. I honestly felt like we needed to take him back to the hospital after the first 24 hours of having him home. I just felt like he didn't know how to eat. It was really hard to say the least. I was crying most of the time because he was so sad and hungry but couldn't eat. Then we got a recommendation for Dr. Brown's Bottles. I had never even considered them because of their cost, but they are worth every penny!! They've made a huge difference for Zeke: less fussing, less burping, less crying, less frustration, better flow, better eating, just better. :) They are little more difficult to clean because of the parts and small holes but each set comes with a special cleaning brush.

$12.89 at Target
And we had never needed to clean bottles before. We used to have a dishwasher and with the Playtex Bottles, we just tossed the inserts and bought new (not very frugal of us). We only needed to clean the nipples and we would just put them in a basket and pop them into the dishwasher. Since we have twice the bottles and a lot of bottle parts to clean, we decided to get a special drying rack for the bottles and it's been super handy to have. The First Years Spinning Rack was recommended by some friends and we love it. We also got a great bottle brush by Avent.

Sleepy Time

$59 at WalMart
Our babies are really good sleepers and this is something that we are so grateful for!! God has blessed us and given us a lot of grace and mercy this time around. Zeke was a little more difficult at first because he needed to sleep in an upright position because of his reflux. But we solved that issue with the InGenuity by Bright Starts Portable Swing and a Fisher Price Bouncer (which we already owned). What an amazing invention and the fact that they make portable version is even more awesome!! Zeke spent his first months at home in the bouncer and the swing. And now Caleb takes his afternoon nap in his swing. They're great to help with sleeping issues like reflux but it's also helpful when they have colds and need to keep their noses free from congestion. We do tilt the crib mattress so that helps but letting them take a nap in the bouncer or swing is even better.

$4.99 at Target
And our boys love their Philips Avent Soothie Pacifiers. They started with a super-mini-mini version in the hospital and have now advanced to the regular size. With our older boys we used the MAM Baby Trends Pacifiers cause they were cute and were orthodontic, but I didn't really know what to get. They used those in the hospitals they were born in so that's what we went with. I soon learned that they can get We did boil them regularly but they still seemed to get stuff in the little cracks and crevices. This time around our hospital used the Soothie and after doing some research I found out that this simple pacifiers are great cause they don't have any little crevices for germs and stuff to get stuck. We still boil them regularly but I feel a whole lot better on the germ-side of things. And they even make these cute WubbaNub Pacifiers that have the pacifier attached to a small stuffed animal so it's easier for them to put it back in their mouths when they're a little bigger. And they're cute. :)

$12.99 at BabiesRUs
The other thing that we've really been thankful for is the Summer Infant SwaddleMe wraps. All of our boys have appreciated the comfort that swaddling provides. We used flannel blankets with our first two and they worked well but they would bust out of them so quickly. The SwaddleMe is great!! And I wish I had had time to make a bunch of my own. The key is their Velcro straps. They help keep the baby wrapped tight. Not only did it provide comfort for the twins, but it also helped keep their hands away from their faces. We learned in the NICU that babies put their hands to their faces to comfort themselves. That's all well and good, but not when you're on oxygen. They've pulled the oxygen tubing out of their nose and ripped the stickers off of their faces - OUCH! So the SwaddleMe wraps have been super helpful with sleeping, keeping them oxygenated, and protecting their skin.


$29.99 at Target
I would love to have extra helpers around the house all the time but we have been restricting visitors because of the germ-factor that comes with fall/winter. So, we've used the wonderful Boppy Pillow to act as another pair of arms. :) We use them in the living room on the couch to help with feedings - I hold and feed one baby while the Boppy holds the other one; we use them in their cribs to help sooth one baby while I rock the other one in our glider. We had one from our when our big boys were babies and a friend graciously gave us hers since she was finished using it. There are all kinds of cute slipcovers (which get washed a LOT around here) but I'm sure if you like to sew you can find some ideas on Pinterest and make your own.

$99.99 at Target
I am in love with our stroller!! It is probably my favorite thing we've gotten this time around!! We were gifted by some friends the Baby Trend Universal Double Snap-N-Go Infat Car Seat Carrier. We had a really hard time picking out a double stroller. We had a front-to-back stroller that we used with the big boys but traded it in for a Sit-N-Stand but I knew that wouldn't work for two car seats. We really debated getting a side-by-side jogger (and we probably will get one later) but heard that the side-by-side wasn't the easiest to get around. I knew that we would need a lot of room for their monitors and oxygen tanks so when we saw the Double Snap-N-Go we were pumped! And then when we got it in the mail our high expectations were confirmed with an easy assembly. It is very light-weight, fits almost any brand of car seat, and holds all of our gear. It's a great stroller and we are so blessed to have received it as a gift.

$5 at Bath and Body Works

And one thing we CAN'T forget is the hand sanitizer!! Did you know that Bath and Body Works now makes full-sized hand sanitizers?! We have the pocket-sized sanitizers in almost every bag and pocket we own. There are many different scents and if you're not into scents, they have unscented as well. And they always have some seasonal stuff of which we are currently enjoying. We are never without our sanitizer.

So that's my review of our favorite baby items. As the babies get older I'm sure there will be more fun finds that I'll let you know about. And I already have some things that I'm looking into getting this time around including the Beaba Babycook, the IKEA Antilop Highchair (I heard they stack!), and the Baby Trend Navigator Stroller. If you have any questions or suggestions, please leave a comment. :)

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Bye Bye Food Dye E-Book

Hey everyone! I'm proud to annouce that Brooke at B in Real Life has created an e-book of all the information on living dye-free. You can download it now so you have the information handy if/when you decide to live without food-dyes.

Also, Brooke is starting a new blog

And I will be a regular contributor!! We will be sharing more information, stories, recipes, grocery lists and all sorts of fun that comes with dye-fee livin'. Please make sure to check it out!! Thanks!

Friday, November 23, 2012

Photo Limit Reached

So I've been wanting to update you all on our lives but there's something that's keeping me from getting that done....I have reached my photo limit. :P

I'm not quite sure what route I'll be taking on this dilemma. There are a few options: moving my blog to another host, paying for extra space, removing old posts/photos, blah. I've been wanting to get back into bloggin "full time" but keep hitting snags along the way. I love having pictures on my blog and people probably enjoy that more than the writing. ;)

So, I will be back. :) I have lots to tell you: the story of our sweet babies, why we are a "Pampers" family, little DIY Christmas decorations, what I've been reading, and just things that float around in my brain all day. Thanks for your patience as I figure out my next bloggy steps.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Me Wanna Cookie

Hey friends!

First of all, I finally am crossing something off of my Gettin' It Done in My 30's List!! I am guest posting over at B in Real Life today. She's continuing her week of Sayin' Bye Bye Bye to Food Dyes!! And she's asked me to share our story of why we kicked Cookie Monster frosting to the curb. She's also sharing the signs that your child may be sensitive to food dyes. So make sure you head over to B in Real Life and check it out!!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Death to Food Dyes

My friend, Brooke, over at B in Real Life, is hosting a Dye-Free Week!! I am so excited for her to share her story and how their lives have changed since they've said Bye Bye to Food Dyes. This is near and dear to my heart since we have also started living a dye-free life.

She will also be sharing the stories of others who've made the big change (including ours) and she'll have some helpful tips on choosing dye-free foods and how to know if food dyes are affecting your children in a negative way.

I hope you stop over at B in Real Life to learn more about living without food dyes.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

"How Old Are Your Twins?"


*pause for dramatic effect* a very good question.

The babies were born on May 15th. That makes them about 5 1/2 months old (25 weeks). But since they were born just under 28 weeks gestation, that changes things.

Their due date was August 8th. So their adjusted age is almost 3 months old (13 weeks).

Most of this is irrelevant since we don't really go anywhere beside doctor appointments so we pretty much avoid all the questions and explanations that it requires to tell people how old they are.

When we take the babies out to doctor appointments we usually have them covered to protect them from Black Plague that's lurking in every doctor's office and hospital. That also helps us avoid curious people. And then when an alarm starts beeping because one of the babies is stretching, crying, fussing, or one is trying to get my attention by holding their breath and faking their death, most people avoid us like we have the plague. It works pretty well, I guess. :)

We are told that around the ages of 2 to 3-years old, we won't have to correct their age anymore and we'll be free to tell people their age from birth instead of constantly trying to remember what week they're at in real time...and adjusted time. Honestly, most of the time I can't remember either age, especially in weeks, and to calculate from their birth and their due date is way too hard for this sleep-deprived brain.

So, we have twins. They're both babies. And they're both boys.

"Are they identical?"

Well...yes, they are.

"Really? They don't look identical."

That's a story for another day. :)

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

A Long Hiatus

Welcome back to you and to me! It's been a LONG time since I've written and there are very many reasons for that. I've been contemplating the best way to get back into it since I've been "missing in action" for so long. There have been many times where I've wanted to write about something but thought I first needed to explain why I haven't been writing.

Well, like I said there are numerous reasons but they all correlate to these two:
October 2012

That's right! :) Those are my babies. Twin boys that I carried and had cut out of me delivered on May 15, 2012. And they've caused quite a stir from the time we found out we were expecting to today when they're both asleep on the couch after their tummies were filled with milk.

After losing Elihu at 15 weeks and another baby at 10 weeks in 2010, we wondered if we would be able to have more children. We wondered if our two boys (now 6yrs and 4yrs) would complete our quiver. My husband and I spent a lot of time in prayer and discussion trying to decide if it was worth the possibility of having our hearts broken again if we lost another baby.

That's the main reason that I didn't blog about my pregnancy. Fear. It is a lot easier, albeit painful, to write about my grief after losing our two babies than to write about my fears. My "Type A" personality likes that there are stages of grief. I understand the process of denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. It even makes sense to me how you can bounce around between those stages in a day...or even in an hour. There's a documented process to grief, a "science". But fear/anxiety/worry is something that I've struggled with my whole life in one way or another. And I've never seemed to "master" it.

God calls us to "cast our worries on Him" which is something that is usually easier said than done. But 1 Peter continues "because He cares for you." And that's what I needed to focus on throughout my pregnancy. That God cares for me. During the summer of 2010, I learned to rely on God's sovereignty. I had to know that He was in control. That He had a plan for me. For Elihu. I had to cling to that promise. I couldn't grasp on to His goodness or His love or His mercy. But I could rely on His plan. I had to because there was nothing else.

And while facing my fears over this last year, I've learned that I still need to cling on to His sovereignty, but that I can enjoy His blessings, His goodness, His mercy. I can bask in His love and that through His plan, I can have joy. And joy does not equal happiness. Joy takes work. It takes choosing daily to live joyfully instead of in a state of worry or anxiety. And I am still working.

Over the next few weeks, I want to share with you my story of my newest blessings: Caleb Henry and Ezekiel Thomas. From the time we found out we were expecting, to today as I struggle to survive in this house of boys. :) Thanks for your patience during my absence and I hope you keep reading.