What I'm Buying Now

Some people pay a shrink an hourly fee to de-stress, I troll the mall for an hour and get the same relief - usually for much less money. Well it looks like the clearance aisles are full and I'm buying our 12 months and 18 months clothes off season. Here's where the deals that respect the $10 rule are:

Macys
How: Shop the clearance aisle and use the Friends and Family coupon for an additional 25% off. The coupon is printable from Macy's website and good till May 2nd.
Best Buy: Carters single onesies (not the packs of five) can be got for less than $4. Almost the same price as Walmart's Garanimals and much better quality. Also very nice play clothes can be got for less than $10 

Babies R Us / Toys R Us
How: The clearance aisles have been buy one get one free for a while
Best Buy: Party dresses. Nice fleece outfits for coming winter. Christmas outfits (most are gone). Valentine's day onesie. Spring outerwear. Wnter boots. Lots of good deals quite frankly and the buy one get one free deal was made for twin parents everywhere.
Tip: Check Toys R Us as well. They have the same clearance deal and stock similar products

Old Navy
How: There's a current promo for an additional 30% off clearance
Best Buy: I find Old Navy too expensive for the quality of clothes they make. (The only ripped seam we've had till date was with an Old Navy outfit) Still they have some unique pieces and I do love their hooded sleepers

Target
I find Target to be an expensive store all around but if you like green (like I do) get the St Patrick's days accessories for a deal. I got hair bows and socks for 50 cents a piece. I need to check if they have stuff in Easter colors as well.

Baby Bjorn Carrier vs Infantino Review

Need to juggle two babies at the same time? I do and its a job for my baby carrier. This is a moment for the Infantino Union Ergonomic Carrier vs Baby Bjorn carrier. I own both.

The Ergo baby carrier has generated such a buzz in the parenting community that it was only a matter of time before the bigger players reached for a piece of that pie. Infantino's translation of an ergonomic carrier in the style of the Ergo is the Union baby carrier. The Baby Bjorn on the other hand is the perennial favorite with both the masses and the elite. I bought a Baby Bjorn when the girls were much younger and more recently, I got a Union for free from Amazon.com and I love my two carriers for different reasons.

Infantino Union Ergonomic Carrier, Gray   BABYBJĂ–RN Baby Carrier Original, City Black
Out of the box, I was not feeling the Union. It seemed and is cheaper than the Bjorn plus it took forever (forever being three days) for me to figure out how to adjust it for baby. Once I had that figured out, it has been a breeze to use. I actually use this for my daycare pickups and dropoffs over the Bjorn because wearing it is like 30 seconds faster. It does require rubber hands as you have to reach up behind you to fasten the shoulder clips. It also requires a second person to help if the baby is to be worn on the back instead of the front. My main grouse with this carrier is that it's not height adjustable and I wouldn't use it for a small baby.

The Bjorn was perfect for when the girls were smaller. I could adjust it for their heights and it cradled their heads very well.

Deciding the winner of this throwdown has been really hard for me because both carriers are quite good, but this was the clincher. I took my darling Spice (all 16lbs of her) for a brisk 45 minute walk in the Bjorn this weekend. It went well, but at the end my spine was weeping. It's not so much that the Bjorn is uncomfortable, but a 16lb baby IS a 16lb baby no matter how you look at it. The Union on the other hand distributes the baby's weight in a way that prevents stressing any particular body part.

For real small babies, the Baby Bjorn is the winner but for the older ones, I would take the Union over the Bjorn.

Best Baby Monitor for Twins

Once parents take their newborn twins home, the first thing they worry about is how to monitor their little ones when they cannot be with them physical. As a twin mom, I can relate as I have gone through 3 different baby monitors in my twins' first 2 years of life. The things to look out for when purchasing baby monitors are

  • Number of parent units - it's nice if each adult in the home can have a unit
  • Battery life of parent units
  • Night visibility of video units
  • Sound quality of units and interferance
  • Other add-ons - some monitors also show the temperature and humidity levels in the babies' room. Of recent, we also have baby monitors with apps that allow you to use your smart phone as a receiving unit
Here's my review of the best baby monitors currently available for twins, triplets and other multiples.


Motion-Sensing Baby Monitors: These are especially useful for preemie twins. They are installed in the babies' crib and sound an alarm if the baby does not move within a few seconds. For parents who have major concerns about SIDS, these monitors are a best buy. The most popular motion-sensing baby monitors are the Angelcare and Snuza brands. Both brands are very highly rated by parents on the Amazon website.




        



Basic Baby Monitors: These monitors provide sound only. A plug in unit is placed close to the baby and a mobile receiver stays with the care giver. These are the most affordable baby monitors available in the marker. One common complaint with these monitors is interferance from neighbours' electronics. The Avent DECT baby monitor does not have this interferance problem. 


      

Video Monitors: With video monitors, the parent units transmit bot sound and video. The quality of the night videos is the most critical part of choosing one of these monitors. Another plus of using video monitors with twins? You get to see who climbs out of the crib first during naptime. I have a Lorex Video Monitor that works with my home WIFI and it's picture quality is superb.


One other new feature that's becoming more available is baby monitors where a cell phone can be used as a parent unit by downloading and installing an app. For example, the Withings Baby Monitor pictured below can be used with both iPhones and Android phones

        

This post is a summary of the best baby monitors for twins currently available in the market. Click on the pictures above to see the detailed reviews of the baby monitors on Amazon.com

Sugar & Spice Chronicles: Restaurant Edition

Ladies and gentlemen, I have two little diners on my hands. On the one hand is the 16lb baby popularly known as Ms Spice on myTwintopia. She eats like a person who just picked up a triple cheese burger at the drive thru window - hungry and FAST!

On the other hand is Ms Sugar! Fine diner extraordinaire. She takes her time to savour every mouthful with the speed of a turtle-drawn buggy. Sloooowly!!! I'm talking 5 minutes an ounce here. 35 minutes for the current 7 oz bottles du jour. . She sips, she surveys the scenery, sips again, "oh look at that shiny black box", sips again and then smiles ever so sweetly as she gazes right into my eyes... beautiful!


Makes me look forward to the two of us spending quality time exploring the finer culinary delicacies in 20 years time... except baby, it's not 2031 yet, it's 2011 and mommy would really enjoy a few more minutes of zzzs so please, quit the 4AM fine dining. This is not a 24 hour Mickey Ds


Thank you boo!

Organizing Paperwork for Kids

ORGANIZING PAPERWORK WITH TWINS

With twins, right from pregnancy I got a ton of handouts from doctors, hospitals, insurance etc. Once the twins were born, I got another stack of papers. With each doctor's visit, this stack gets a little higher. Not to be left out, our daycare also make their contribution to this stack. Truth be told, with twins it's easy to be overwhelmed with clutter and paperwork. One of the steps to decluttering is organizing the twins' paperwork.

To do this I use two items: a three-ring binder and transparent sheet protectors that fold over at the top. This is where I put all the informational papers - medicine dosage, vaccination information, doctor's contact details, daycare correspondence etc. The transparency of the jackets makes it easy to read the information contained without having to remove the paper itself; this means if the information is stapled together, I separate it and each sheet gets it's own jacket.

This folder stays in the nursery and is easily accessible to anyone taking care of the babies as a reference when required. I bought a pack of 50 sheet protectors and the plan is not to buy more. Limiting myself to 50 of the most important pieces of information will stop me from turning the folder into another junk collection. All supplies were got from Walmart but I'm sure any store with an office supplies aisle will do.

Any paper that is deemed not important enough to be in this file, finds its way to the nearest trash can and voila, twin babies' paperwork is organized.

Here are some lovely binders and sheet protectors from Amazon to get you started

How to Get Baby's Ears Pierced

Let me start by saying that I am 100 percent convinced that getting a baby's ears pierced is not a health or safety issue. In my home country, our ears are pierced at 2 days old and it was never an issue. Infant ear piercing is more of a cultural issue than a health issue. With that being said, I come from a culture where infant girls get their ears pierced, so I got my babies' ears pierced. Here's how
  1. Wait until the babies are 2 months old and have got their first DTaP shot. In the US, no one will pierce your babies' ears until they have got this shot.
  2. Obtain your vaccination records from your pediatrician and take that with you
  3. Decide if you want to use your doctor's office. Most pediatricians are moving away from offering ear piercing services and those that do seem to have a lot of hoops to jump through. My pediatrician did not offer this service so I had to consider my alternatives
  4. Decide on alternative piercing locations. The options available to me were Claire's and Merle Norman. I chose Claire's as they are in almost every mall.
  5. Call the store location and verify that there's someone with infant ear piercing experience to do the job
  6. Choose a weekday morning where there will be fewer people in the mall and the store attendant won't be rushed
  7. Go after a feeding. I find that my babies are less upset about a lot of things when they have a full belly
  8. Choose earrings that are at least 14 carat gold to minimize the chances of an allergic reaction. Also ensure there is sufficient space between the earring back and the stud so that both are not in contact with the ear lobe at the same time
  9. Follow the after-care instructions to the letter. That will include cleaning the ears twice a day with a special solution and rotating the earrings for 8 weeks post-piercing
  10. Keep original earrings on for at least 6 months
That's how I pierced my two girls ears when they were 10 weeks old. They cried minimally during the actual piercing and look totally girly and adorable in their pink flower earrings.


Start building your little girl's jewelery collection with 14 carat gold earrings for kids from Amazon. Click here to start shopping.


Here are some beautiful stud earrings to start you off.


 

Twin Stats - 5 months


Time flies along and newborns are becoming babies and babies are becoming young ladies. Here's our 5 month report card.

SpIce aka Twin A
Weight             15lbs 11oz 
Dress size        3 - 6 months
Diaper size       Size 3 (We're not at the recommended size range for size 3 diapers yet, but size 2s were just a pain in the proverbial diaper area)

Sugah aka Twin B

Weight             14lbs 12oz
Dress size        3 - 6 months
Diaper size       Size 3

Schedule
Daytime schedule is still 4 bottles of 7 - 8oz. Ms  SpIce is sleeping through most nights without a feeding but Sugar still wakes for a 4oz bottle.  We've also tasted a few spoons of oat cereal and sweet potatoes in the evenings and on the weekends
Top Gear - My fave 5 

Bumbo seat - For feeding solids


Baby carrier - for when I need to carry the two babies up and down the stairs. Also, for getting from car to daycare room and vice-versa
Graco nasal aspirator - Because with daycare comes stuffy runny noses

Baby Vicks rub - I use this on them morning and night to soothe their chests and noses and hopefully minimize the discomfort of their congestion

Links - The cheapest and most basic of all toys also offers the most fun

Quilt from mommy's bed - The activity mat is now too small for both babies to be on and they are not mobile enough for a gated play area yet. Solution? I spread a king-sized quilt on the living floor and the girls love it. They roll over front to back, back to front, get stuck mid-roll, scream their little heads off, and generally have a ball.
Development
Rolling over is a more frequent occurrence now but I suspect the girls are still surprised when they do I. Sugar seems to favor motor skills while SpIce favors the more social verbal skills. Two distinct personalities is what I have here.

And the best thing about five months? The babies now recognise and smile at each other. They also "talk" to each other ... even hold hands to sleep. When Sugar cries, SpIce somehow manages to slide close to her and hold her hand. She's such a big sister. Turns mommy's heart into marshmallows every time

April Giveaway

God is good! He has blessed us tremendously and tomorrow, we will be 5 months old or 21.5 weeks for the purpose of this post. To celebrate this, mommy on behalf of the ever adorable Misses Sugar and Spice, will be giving away two CVS giftcards worth $21.50 each. I chose CVS in commemoration of our first daycare sniffles :( To enter as always is easy peasy.


Here's what you need to do in 5 steps:
  1. Drop a comment with your name and email address  
  2. Tell me what your favorite post on this blog so far is
  3. Ask me a follow up question based on that post
  4. Follow @mytwintopia on twitter (Don't worry, I barely manage to tweet twice in a 24 hour period so I promise not to give you a blow by blow account of my attempts at making pot roast)
  5. Have yourself a very very lovely weekend
There it is! 5 months, 5 steps. Looking forward to your questions. This giveaway closes on the 30th of April and I will announce the winners on the 1st of May.

Returning to Work After Having Twins

This is my back to work week, and after much thought, I decided to write a post on my 10 dos and don'ts for returning to work after maternity leave
  1. DO Perception Management. I'm not talking being fake. When I worked as an intern for one of the top 5 global accounting firms, they made it a point to teach all their staff perception management. It is exactly what it sounds like - managing how you are perceived in the workplace. This
    means making sure your appearance matches the professional image you want to portray. Do you want your colleagues to see you and think "my fellow professional" or do you want them to see you and think "got milk?!"
  2. DO Evaluate the fit of your clothes. I'm back to my pre-pregnancy weight but the distribution is not quite the same. The boobies lost some luggage and the tummy found it. This means button-down shirts are now strained and threatening to pop buttons. Some long-sleeves are cutting off my circulation too. I'm still the same size but have had to rethink some of my pre-pregnancy favorites.
  3. DO Get refitted for a bra. Most Victoria's Secret stores will do this for free. Well-fitting underwear is the foundation of any good wardrobe. If breastfeeding and the girls are a little better, support if key. Plus don't forget the breast pads
  4. DO Dress for new body shape. Pre-pregnancy I had what the fashion-experts fondly refer to as a boyish shape. Post-pregnancy I still have the same boyish shape with a few extra inches at the waist. This means form-fitting lycra is out, tops that lightly skim the body are in.
  5. DO Invest in a comfortable pair of heeled shoes. You know what they say about high-heels - the improve posture and automatically add some "hello baby!" to your walk. Clarks are my go-to brand for comfortable, pretty heels 
  6. DON'T Show up for work with unidentifiable wet marks on your clothes. It screams pee or breast milk, even if it's not
  7. DON'T Show up for work smelling like regurgitated breastmilk or formula
  8. DO have a change of clothes in the car... because anything can happen between the doorway and the daycare
  9. DON'T be afraid to negotiate for work conditions that will make your life as a mother easier for example a private room and time to pump breastmilk or flexible hours to drop off and pick up baby.  
  10. DON'T lose sight of the big picture. What's in the big picture? It's whatever you want it to be. 

Book Review - The Wonder Weeks

The Wonder Weeks by Hetty Vanderijt and Frans Plooij.

This is a book that I've had recommended on more than one occasion. After visiting the book's website, my curiosity got the better out of me and I ordered a copy off Amazon. I decided to buy instead of borrow because based on the rave reviews, I was pretty sure that it will be a keeper; and it is.


The concept of wonder weeks is that babies go through certain mental development periods - referred to as wonder weeks - and parents can make transitions easier by understanding what the baby is going through and how to help. In the first one year of life, babies will go through 8 wonder weeks viz
5 - The world of changing sensations 
8 - The world of patterns 
12 - The world of smooth transitions
19 - The world of events 
26 - The world of relationships 
37 - The world of categories 
46 - The world of sequences 
55 - The world of programs

Each Wonder Week signifies a mental transition or leap for the baby and is preceded by a fussy phase and ends with a cheerful phase once full transition has been made. In the chapters dedicated to each Wonder Week, that authors explain the mental developments the baby is experiencing, the fussy signs to expect, how the leap will affect the parents, new skills that will emerge post-leap and what you can do to help your child through the process. The "What you can do to help" sections were a personal favorite

In reading this book, I had a lot of "ah ha!" moments. It was like getting a peek at the world through the eyes of my baby and understanding the overwhelming sensations that cause babies to become fussy and cling to mommy sort of like an anchor. Understanding my role as a stabilizing force in what is a period of great and scary change for my babies gives me a lot more empathy for them. And I tell you what, we're right at the wonder week 19 mark and mommy needs a tall drink from the river of empathy.

If you do not have any real interest in human psychology, this book is not for you. Do I love this book? In case you can't tell, yes I do. It's awesome and strongly recommended for any parent interested in not just the what, but the also the why of their babies' moods and phases.

Writing A Parenting Book

So while looking for the book my daycare provider recommended, I stopped by the local bookstore and browsed the parenting books aisle. I didn't find the book I was looking for but I still had a fun experience just browsing the list of titles and authors. Most unforgettable were:

4 Things I've Learnt From My Daycare Provider

The first day the twins spent in daycare brought me to a realization: my daycare center is not just a service I'm paying for, it's also a resource that can help me become a better parent. It stands to bear that the experience of their staff is a knowledge pot that I can dip into as a first time parent. 

Choosing Our Daycare

After deciding that daycare was the way for us, the next option was to actually choose one. Now if you live in a small town, there may not be much of a choice, but I live in a big city and there's a myriad of options. So here's how I went about finding the best daycare for us:

And The Winners Are...

Thanks to all the lovely ladies that entered my first giveaway. I suspect I had too much fun doing this. And the winners are
I'll be contacting you ladies by email so I can post your prizes to you. I hope you have lots of happy memories to record

Have a blessed weekend and remember, with God, you're always a winner.
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