Santa Claus is Coming to Town

If you've been following my blog for a while, you'll remember this post from May where I questioned the rationale behind jeans diapers. Well, shortly after that, the Babies R Us brand of jeans diapers were on sale for 15c per diaper (my cutoff) so I indulged in a little irrationality. It had it's cute moments, but I do think it was an overrated experience.

Last week I got an email from Babies R Us with an ad for the latest in diapers. The Santa diapers! I wish I could go on a cynical rant about this but, I LOVE Christmas too much for that. I'm the person that plays Christmas carols all year long. So where is this blog post going?
Isn't this just merry?
I wish to formally inform you that I'll be on the queue to buy some Santa diapers. I can't help myself. I intend to live in and fully enjoy those 5 minutes of insanity when I fork out 36c for each Santa diaper.

What can I say? This mama loves Christmas.

PS: In case you want to join me on my bandwagon, the diapers are currently available in Sam's Club and Babies R Us

10 Must-Have Photos

Thing about kids is they bring out the budding photographer in mama (sometimes NOT but most times they do). It is imperative that they have "good" pictures as a record of their baby life. 12 months is over so fast. Here's my list of ten photos every child should have before their first birthday
  1. The butt-naked, bun-fresh-from-the-oven hospital picture
  2. The face smeared with baby food
  3. The mummy-loves-me: cupping baby's head with open palm while said head is tenderly resting on mummy's head or shoulder (drool-free if you please)
  4. The tutu and pearls - may be shirtless
  5. Taking first steps with arms outstretched
  6. The smile that shows off a mouthful of two teeth
  7. Dressed as Santa - Not really necessary but I love a baby in a Santa suit
  8. The bathtub pose
  9. The cute sleeping baby photo
  10. The first birthday - preferably involving smashed cake clutched in tiny grubby hands
I already missed the bus on a few of these, but I look forward to making up for lost opportunities. I've started building a pinterest board with a collection of photos I want to try sometime. We'll see how that works out.

This post is linked to Amanda's top ten Tuesday

What's yours is mine

"What's yours is mine; what's mine you cannot have" seems to be Sugar's mantra these days. Its all been cute to watch - the little squabbles, the kidnapping of pacis etc. However, cute on a 7 month old is becoming concerning on a 10 month old.

In all these activities, Sugar has usually been the aggressor and apparently she's started doing that with the other babies in daycare. If she wants a toy, she goes for it. Even if it's in the hands of a 22lb baby (please note that said aggressor is currently 25th percentile for weight). I believe that it's time for some intervention.

First step is diversion of interest. Its fairly easy to know when Sugar has decided to go for something. Her gaze gets intense and she barrels towards it with stone-faced determination and laser focus. This is where the adults step in and redirect her attention to something else. It takes 3 or 4 interruptions to distract her and sometimes it ends with her playing happily and sometimes it ends with a tantrum.

Second step is Soon-Certain-Positive/Negative consequences. If she succeeds in getting the object away from Spice, she's asked to give it back. If she does, she gets positive consequence in the form of praise and kisses. If she doesn't, the negative consequence is that the toy is taken away from her and given back to Spice or hidden. Why is this important right now? Because

1. I don't think it's too early for her to learn to be a sharer.
2. Spice is extremely gentle and usually let's Sugar have her way. This means she gets no turn on the fun toys which also happen to be educational. When Spice is alone in the play area, she's a different baby and explores more. I don't want her to be shortchanged by her more-mobile, high-energy playmate/sister.

Let me end with a first time mom's disclaimer - I'm not a child psychologist, this is just my take. Twin mamas out there, tell me how it worked for you please.

The Great Bodysuit Review - Part Deux

Devil's in the Details
So as a follow-up to yesterday's post, here's the special little details that make the brands stand out. I know today's not Wednesday but please bear with me :)  When possible, I tried to buy 2 of each bodysuit, one white and one colored and here's how it worked out

BabyGap
Weight range: 17-22lbs
Age rangeL: 6-12 months
Height range: 27-29 inches
Price range: $6-8 on the clearance aisle
Availability: There's plenty of Gap stores to go around
First impressions: Soft to touch. 
After first wash: The white looked a little shabby but it kept it's shape

Old Navy
Weight range: Not marked
Age rangeL: 6-12 months
Height range: Not marked
Price range: $4-8 on the clearance aisle(I don't see how Old Navy is the cheaper brother to Gap but almost as expensive at a lower quality)
Availability: Old Navy outlets are easier to locate in strip malls.
First impressions: Material felt thin on the packaged bodysuits.
After first wash: Good 

The Children's Place
Weight range: 18-22lbs
Age rangeL: 9-12 months
Height range: Not marked
Price range: Less than $4 on the clearance aisle
Availability: Found in every mall I've been to in Houston 
First impressions: Felt thin and cheap
After first wash: On the fence

Garanimals by Walmart
Weight range: Not marked
Age rangeL: 9-12 months
Height range: Not marked
Price range: Less than $4-6 always
Availability: Like air.
First impressions: Cute details and nice sparky colors. Not the heaviest cotton but not the thinnest either.
After first wash: Good. Kept shape

Circo by Target
Availability: I could not for the life of me find Circo bodysuits in 12M size and after visiting 9 Targets in 4 different cities and 2 states, I concluded that perhaps they do not exist

Carters
Weight range: 20.5-24.5 lbs
Age rangeL: 9-12 months
Height range: 28.5 - 30.5 inches
Price range: Less than $4 but price is very location specific
Availability: Department stores, discount stores like TJ Maxx and their own outlet. Lowest prices for me have always been from their outlets.
First impressions: Great colors, good material.
After first wash: The colored bodysuits get that faint white fading thing 

Osh Kosh BGosh
Weight range: 20.5 - 24.5 lbs
Age rangeL: 9-12 months
Height range: 28.5-30.5 inches
Price range: $4-6 on the clearance aisle(Supposed to be the more expensive and higher quality sister to Carter's but can be got for almost the same price)
Availability: Outlets are few and far between, but also sold in JC Penney.
First impressions: Nice heavy cotton.
After first wash: Good. Kept color and shape

Gymboree
Weight range: 17-22 lbs
Age rangeL: 6-12 months
Height range: 25-29 inches
Price range: $4-6 on the clearance aisle
Availability: Fairly easy to find in most of the big shopping malls.
First impressions: Lovely colors and designs. Very stylish.
After first wash: Good. Kept color and shape

Crazy 8
Weight range: Not marked
Age rangeL: 6-12 months
Height range: Not marked
Price range: $4-6 on the clearance aisle (supposed to be the cheaper sister to Gymboree) 
Availability: Hard to find in shopping malls.
First impressions: Okay.
After first wash: Good. 

Janie and Jack
Weight range: 17-22 lbs
Age rangeL: 6-12 months
Height range: 25-29 inches
Price range: 1c less than $10 on sale (Can we say expensive???)
Availability: Only where the rich and not-so-famous shop.
First impressions: I must say this felt incredibly soft and yummy to touch. Quite stylish too.
After first wash: Good. Kept color and shape


And there you have it. I'll come back to this in a month or two when the bodysuits have had their fair share of food and poop and report on who's left standing.

The Great Baby Bodysuit Review

A while back, I must have alluded to the fact that we'll be moving soon. I've been expecting this all year and figured that by now, we'll have relocated from Houston, Texas to Calgary, Alberta (I'll give you a quick moment to process the weather difference). Moving on... In anticipation of this move, I bought most of the 9-12month clothes for the girls at the end of winter sales earlier on in the year and ended up with a box full of long-sleeve tees, sweaters and even a very cute bunting and puffy jacket. Well guess which family is still in 101degF Houston with 10 month old twin girls? *Points at self sheepishly*

As the girls still wear only bodysuits to daycare due to the Texas heat, I had to rush out and buy a few in 12M size to tide us through till move date. I used that opportunity to once again investigate the different clothing brands. Since we'll be moving from changing clothe sizes every 3 months to every 6 months, I wanted to know which brands will stand up to lots of wash and wear. I also wanted to get an idea of the size generosity of the brands. The results were a bit surprising but not totally unexpected.

Widest cut: Janie and Jack, Oshkosh B'Gosh and Garanimals by Walmart
Narrowest cut: Crazy 8, Carters (this one surprised me)
Shortest length: Children's Place

Putting it all together
Up until the last 2 months when the girls growth rate really slowed, Spice was 75th percentile for weight and 25th percentile for height while Sugar was 50th percentile for both weight and height. I needed to know which brands would accommodate Spice's weight and Sugar's height so I could avoid having them in 2 different sizes. The answer is shaping up

The brands I got were Baby Gap, Children's Place, Old Navy, Carters, Oshkosh B'Gosh, Garanimals, Janie and Jack, Gymboree and Crazy 8. (See how many stores I visited out of love for y'all :) )

So what do you think? Did I miss anyone? Tomorrow I'll delve deeper into the individual brands and how they stacked up.

A Primer on Carters Sleepers

For the last 9 months, the girls have spent their nights in all shades of Carters sleepers and in the process, I've learnt a thing or two.

The sleepers come in 3 materials viz

Knit cotton sleepers - Made from 100% cotton and easily the lightest and most breathable of all the Carters sleepers. Colors fade easily. Shrinks the most. More often than not, it's my primary indication of when to move the not-so-baby-anymore babies to the next dress size. Available in flame-retarding

Microfleece sleepers - These are 100% polyester and also the softest and warmest of the 3 materials. They retain their color quite well and are great holiday clothing (We're already wearing our christmas and snowman sleeper thanks to mommy not realizing that the girls will be 13 months in December and not 12 months). The main negative that these sleepers have is that they seem to retain stains and smells. I just had 4 come out of the dryer smelling like a used overnight diaper. Also available in flame-retarding.

Terry Sleepers - Warmer than the knit cotton and also 100% cotton. This is my favorite because it combines the breathability of the knits with the warmth of the microfleece. So far, I've seen no noticeable shrinkage, strange smells or loss of color. For me, this is the best bet

Somewhere in the midst of this post, I stopped to ask myself why? Because for me, Carters sleepers have been the best bet for us when it comes to sleepwear.

10 Months Old


10 month old babies = 2 month from first birthday  = PANIC!

I still don't have a plan for our birthday. In the interim, here are our stats


SpIce aka Twin A
Weight: 18lbs (Either my scale is broken or this kid is actually losing weight)
Dress size: 9 - 12months but can still fit comfortably into some of the 9m clothes
Diaper size: Size 3 

 
Sugar aka Twin B

Weight: 17lbs 5oz (gained 5oz)
Dress size: 9 - 12 months
Diaper size: Size 3


Schedule
The girls have pushed their early morning bottle to around 6:30am. Breakfast is  still 4oz of solids at 8:30am in the daycare. Lunch is 7oz bottle of formula followed by 3 oz of solids around noon. Afternoon snack is a 7oz bottle at 3:30 PM and dinner is 7oz bottle plus 2 oz solids or finger foods at 6:30pm. Bedtime is 7:30pm

Yogurt has been causing copious amounts of spit-up lately. I don't know if it a milk-sensitivity issue or I just got a bad batch of yogurt. Either way, I can't afford for the girls to be spitting up the few calories they are getting so I'm giving them a break from yogurt and cheese

Top Gear - My fave 5 
Orthodontic pacifiers that glow in the dark 



The playarea

Our favorite toysThey are playing and interacting with their toys a lot more now

Development
Physical: Sugar's crawling faster and standing up with assistance. Spice is speed army crawling but doesn't like to stay on her feet for long. They're also both working on their pincer grip but Spice is ahead on this. She can spot a thin strand on the carpet 20 feet away and race for it, daintily pick it up between her thumb and forefinger and plop it in her mouth. What confuses me is she won't do this for her food. Only for things on the floor.

Verbal and Social: Separation anxiety occasionally rears its head in both babies. Spice can wave goodbye and Sugar can clap and give high-fives. They've both started chattering away during car rides and diaper change time.


Independence: All the books say this is the period where babies start expressing their Independence. This comes out in the form of changing table struggles, swatting mama's hand during feeding times, holding bottle independently and having an opinion on getting into the car seat.


Most interestingly, we've had a couple of baby tantrums already. I guess it's supposed to serve as a preview of things to come. All I can say to the girls is "bring it on!"

Daycare vs Nanny - Part 2

Yesterday, I found myself in the position of revisiting my opinion on the daycare versus nanny issue. When I made the decision to choose daycare over a nanny, some of my considerations were
  • It's safer to leave 2 babies with a group of adults rather than 1 adult
  • I was planning on moving and wasn't in a position to offer anyone a long-term nanny contract
  • The babies were young infants and required more attentive care
In making my decision, I didn't have any insight to how a daycare can affect kids, but now I do. I still love the daycare we use but I now realise that no daycare can offer everyday stability to children. The staff turnover will not allow it.

Even though the head teachers in my babies' room has been with the center for 5 to 13 years, there are still a few temps working in the infant room. This creates an unstable environment; and I'm sad to say that from the babies' mood in the evenings when I pick them up, I can tell if there's been a major change that affected their routine.

The first time I noticed this was when the infant room got two new babies on the same day. The other two times was when there was a new caregiver in the room. In all those occasions, I picked the girls up and their mood was a mix of unhappy, upset and even angry. It made me feel really bad. I didn't realise that even with a few stable people in their lives, babies can still be so sensitive to changes that mean they don't get the care they're used to receiving daily.

If I can get over my paranoia of leaving my kids home alone with a perfect stranger, I think I'll like to go the nanny route and give the girls the environmental stability they so obviously need..

Best Diaper Bag for Twins and Triplets

As a twin parent, shopping for the perfect diaper bag for twins is a requirement to having successful family outings. I have used a few different bags with my twins and believe that I found the best diaper bag to use with my twins and by best, I mean cute AND functional. 

I want to share some recommendations based on my experience. Most of these bags will work for parents of twins and triplets who'll find themselves needing to move around with a lot of stuff.
Diaper bags for twins


Designer Diaper Bags for Twins


Nowadays, (especially with the increase in celebrity twin parents) there are a lot of designer brands making spacious diaper bags for twins including Coach, Ju-Ju-Be and Petunia Pickle Bottom. Initially, I wanted a stylishly cool diaper bag that screamed "I'm not just a mommy" and I narrowed down to this pretty little Oioi number. It's deliciously stylish but a little small for all the junk important stuff you need to carry around with twins. 


http://amzn.to/1KZOwX2
Coach diaper bag

               

Practical Twin Diaper Bags

However, the pricing was $$$ so I decided to check with other twin parents. A lot of parents go for the Skip Hop brand and for good reason. Their quality has been top notch. Among their lineup of diaper bags, the Duo Double Deluxe (pictured below) is specifically marketed towards people with multiple children. It's very big with plenty of pockets to store all the necessities and comes in several designs though the black one is the overwhelming favorite. I liked it, but would have preferred something smaller. Am I beginning to sound like Golidlocks? Too big then too small?!

Black SkipHop Duo Double Deluxe

http://amzn.to/1UxAygJ
Patterned SkipHop Duo Double Deluxe


The ONE

Finally, I settled on the Eddie Bauer Heritage Tote. It's not the prettiest to look at, but I love this bag because it has enough pockets to fulfill my obsessive need to organize stuff and is made of sturdy canvas and doesn't stain easily. It's been my staple bag for the last 2 years of shuttling my twins around and still shows no signs of wear or tear.

Eddie Bauer Tote
The choice of a diaper bag for twins is one of those different strokes for different folks scenario. If there was one final recommendation that I can make, it'll be to browse what's available, read reviews from other users and then make a choice.

Choosing Toys with Help From Kaplan Early Learning

I know it's not obvious from the list of toys that we have, but I actually prefer to buy toys that are not battery-operated. I also do not like toys with a strong plasticky, cheap feel. Since our daycare is a Montessori-based center, they seem to have a similar policy and I like most of the toys they have and so do the girls

Whenever I go to Babies R Us or Toys R Us to shop for toys, I leave the store fuming and having an internal rant with myself. I find there's a scarcity of infant toys on their shelves (Target and Walmart are also guilty of this) and the few toys there are either el cheapo plastic or lights-sounds-and-batteries galore. I do sometime buy them, but I find that the toys that most fit my criteria are easier to find online. 

The one online store that has stood out for me in the educational, non-flashy toy department is Kaplan Early Learning. I find that most of the daycare toys that I want to buy are available in their baby catalog. The catalog can be sorted by age and goes from birth to over 8 years old. 

Of course, since I'm a die-hard Amazon fan, I shop their Amazon Storefront for any toys I like from their catalog.  (That's just because I prefer to limit my online transactions to a few chosen websites.)

Isaac Newton (my nemesis in high school physics) once said "If I have seen a little further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants". I don't know much about early development in childhood but I do know that shopping the catalog  of Kaplan Early Learning helps me in my bid to be a better mother. It works for me and I'm linking this post up with Works for Me Wednesday
 
I was not recruited or paid by Kaplan to write this. I just really like them. However, my amazon link is an affiliate link

Favorite Toys for Twins at Nine Months

Well, actually it's our favorite toys at nine and a half months. Not in any particular order, the top ten faves are

  1. Links - The oldie but goodie
  2. Skwish - so named because it makes a skwish sound I'm guessing. This is my toy of choice for when we're going out and I don't want a battery-powered noisemaker
  3. Spin Ball - This is a daycare toy that's on my to-buy list. Whenever I drop them in the mornings, Sugar makes a beeline for this
  4. Fish - This is Spice's favorite daycare toy. She just sits there and chomps away with her two gorgeous teeth
  5. Mini Orchestra - Another daycare toy that they liked so much, I purchased for home use
  6. Le Tambor - Our bilingual drum. More often than not, it's speaking spanish :). I've actually learnt 1,2,3 in spanish from this drum.
  7. Shaped blocks - They haven't figured out the whole fits-square-block-in-square-hole thing but they love chewing on these and banging them together
  8. Musical Table- I saw this in a picture Megan had on her blog and *lightbulb* I got it. Currently using it without the legs installed
  9. Sunglasses, spectacles, scarves, hats, necklaces, earrings.... anything worn on the upper body of the human carrying them
  10. Hair of the nearest human - another oldie but goodie, never goes out of favor toy.
  11. Mini Orchestra
    Spin ball
    Musical drum aka le tambor
I confess that I alternate between thinking we don't have enough toys for proper mental stimulation and thinking we have too much. Not sure what gives.

Things I Love Thursday - BabyGizmo

On a lot of my google searches, BabyGizmo always showed up but I never clicked. All that changed when my sister told me about "unboxing" videos on youtube. These are videos of people open the box of some stuff for the first time and talking about what's in the box etc

Cue when it was time for me to buy my double stroller. I test drove it in the store and liked it. However, I was very pregnant then and not interested in seeing how it easy or difficult it was to fold. But I needed to know before making a purchase. So I searched youtube for a video review of the stroller and sure enough, a babygizmo video came up. By the end of the video, I was pretty sure I could accommodate the stroller.


BabyGizmo is owned and run by Hollie Schultz and their youtube channel is an invaluable resource. As I do majority of my shopping online, watching the video reviews help me get a good visual on what I'm buying.

I was in no way compensated for this post but I just want you to know that I love BabyGizmo's youtube channel.

Linking up to Things I Love Thursday.
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