Saturday Shout Out and Thank yous

Today is the last Saturday (and last day) of 2011! I can't end the year without saying thank you to all my bloggy friends. Special mention goes out to the twin mum troops

Melissa aka championmum2000 - The cheerleading mum. Her comments are always so encouraging

Miss Megan - The let's-compare-notes mum. Her girls are just a few weeks older than mine so I use her blog as a preview of things to come

Ginger - The friendly Calgary twin mum.

Brad - The non-mum (He's of the daddy species)

Julia - The graceful mum, hostess to "Mama loves" and Mrs to Brad

Beth - The fashionista mum aka mum I'd love to go shopping with.

Samantha - The in-the-know mum. I consider anyone that knows anything about Justin Bieber and Lady Gaga in-the-know 

Blogging was so much more fun (and therapeutic) because you guys took the time to read and comment. 

To all the lurkers out there, thank you as well. Your presence means something

To my family members that faithfully read the blog and make me feel like I have a Nobel Literature prize in my future; I love you, rose-tinted glasses and all. 

I appreciate y'all and look forward to bigger and better things in 2012. 

Signing out with much love.

Happy New Year!

2011 Year in Review

What's a year end without a year in review post? For me, it's been a year of joy just as I prayed it would be. Here's how the year shaped out.

Survived: ear piercing, sleep training, nighttime feedings, daycare and cradle cap. And that was all before june

Discovered I was not a cloth diapering type mama. Guess we is not very granola

Lived out of a suitcase (or 7) for the last two months of the year

Indulged in a new form of retail therapy - shopping for 2 baby girls. Macys is my white couch baby! 

But most importantly, nothing beat the joy of watching my girls grow daily in strength, health and wisdom.
2011 rocked!

I, Have no material connection with the products or services mentioned
Have affiliate links in the post but my opinions are my own and not paid 
Have received a free sample for review but my opinions are still my own
Have been compensated by a company for this post but my opinions are still my own

Make Christmas Day Special for your Toddler

One year old toddlers don't see the world like we do so it takes a lot of simplification to make the holiday season and especially Christmas day special for them. Here are some tips I plan on implementing:
  • Remove their toy gifts from the packaging before wrapping. I told you about Sugar discovering their bag of toys right? The packaging was tricky and took almost 5 long minutes to unravel. 5 minutes of a baby whining, screaming and trying to push the buttons on the toy while I'm trying to remove screws and tape and Styrofoam.
  • Wrap in shiny wrapping paper that rumples but does not rip easily. Babies/toddlers love shiny wrapping paper and that will sooner or later find its way into their mouth. It's a good idea to have paper that does not dissolve in the acidic saliva of a teething baby.  
  • Go easy on the wrapping tape or skip the tape. That way, the baby can grab and "unwrap" the present without help.
  • Remember them in the menu - dice or puree the foods, dilute the "safe" drinks and give in sippy cups.
Not a whole lot, but it can make a big difference for the little ones. Merry Christmas peeps!

Christmas Gifts for One Year Olds

This is a list of Christmas gifts that Santa got for the babies.

Disclosure: Santa went shopping, came home late and tired and left the bags of toys on the floor. The next morning, Sugar discovered the bags and ... well let's just say Christmas came early.

In no particular order, I'll tell you what we got and why
  1. Playskool Busy Poppin pals. Battery-free and I like that it will teach the girls to operate different types of knobs/buttons.
  2. Playskool Busy Tumble Top. Battery-free fun
  3. LeapFrog telephone. Thanks to Samantha's tip, I trawled Walmart for a battery-free remote control that might perhaps save our phones and tv remote from curious little fingers. I couldn't find anything that looked like a decoy so I settled for these phones. It was the most authentic looking though it is rated for 18 months. I've already given the girls a demonstration and they're enjoying placing it on the ear and babbling. I got 2 of this for the sake of world peace
  4. You are my sunshine by Jimmie Davis - This book is based on the song by the same title. Bought it because I know I can carry that particular tune and I love the song. 
  5. Box of 100 Megabloks. I remember legos with fondness and truth be told, megabloks are everywhere right now. I'm not sure that the girls can  play with this now. Even though it says for 1 year and up, we'll wait a couple of months before trying to play or build anything 

What I wish I got

The Melissa and Doug Jumbo Knob Puzzle was available in stores for the longest time, now I can't find any to buy

Some sort of lounging chair - They've mastered the art of climbing into a chair so it seems like a logical next step. I fancy those Disney foam chairs and again, I procastinated on buying them and they seem to be sold out for Christmas.

The radio flyer wagon would make a great walker, but it's a little pricey and considering the fact that we do have 2 walkers / pushtoys making their way across Canada on a truck, it just doesn't seem worth it.

I, Have affiliate links in the post but my opinions are my own and not paid 
Have received a free sample for review but my opinions are still my own
Have been compensated by a company for this post but my opinions are still my own

For the Love of a Highchair

I love taking part in the "Mama Loves" linkup hosted by Julia of Pontifications of a twin mom. I also love checking what the other moms who participate love and have got a few things off of their advise. If you haven't checked it out, I suggest you do.

Today, I'm loving our Fisher Price Booster Seat. I moved with two of them in a suitcase to have a place to feed the girls for our relocation/transition and it has been so worth it. I think the size and the fact that it's on the floor is a major plus for the girls. They haven't just learnt to sit down on it all by themselves (which requires a lot of body coordination for a one year old I tell you) they're also crawling and standing and pushing and pulling and climbing it. All this helps them gain confidence in their mobility and abilities and I'm lovin' it.

Plus it's super easy to clean.

I, Have affiliate links in the post but my opinions are my own and not paid 
Have received a free sample for review but my opinions are still my own
Have been compensated by a company for this post but my opinions are still my own

13 Joyful Months

I really thought I was done with the monthly updates, but the girls are changing so much and so fast, I just have to document. So I'll still be posting monthly stats, the only difference is I'm focusing more on the developmental stuff and less on the weight and cloth sizes etc.

13 Months of Spicy love: My little honey chums is growing three teeth at the same time and being quite a trooper about it. Likes to nibble at mommy and sister - neither of us really like that much. Now a pro at delivering the cry that induces massive mommy-guilt. She starts by making an O-shape with her lips and sad puppy dog eyes. The "O" gets me every time
She seems to have added one more word to her vocabulary - "gba" which means "take" in my language. Now before she flings unwanted food off her tray, she offers it to me and if I don't take it, then she flings it away.

13 Months of Sweet Sugar: On the 11th of December, I was on the phone with one of the many grandmas asking if the babies had started walking. As if on cue, Sugar pulled herself up and took 3 steps. I was majorly psyched and she was quite proud of herself too! This act has not been repeated so far but she enjoys standing by herself and then applauding herself.
She likes to grab at things during diaper changes so I taught her to say diaper. I believe it comes out as "aka" but it definitely has the intonation of diaper. Now she grabs everything and holds it up to me and says "aka?" and I say "no baby thats a bla bla bla".

This month's firsts
  • Blowing kisses to Sugar when leaving the daycare and having her blow kisses back at me
  • Both babies crawling up to their booster high chairs and sitting all by themselves
  • A lot of hair pulling and counter-hair pulling going on

I'm having fun and loving it all

Disclosure of Material Connection: (Because the government said so)
I, Have no material connection with the products or services mentioned
Have affiliate links in the post but my opinions are my own and not paid 
Have received a free sample for review but my opinions are still my own
Have been compensated by a company for this post but my opinions are still my own

Best Strollers For Twins

One of the first challenges that twin parents-to-be face is choosing the best stroller for their twins. There are two ways that infant twins can ride in a stroller - with or without their infant car seats. 

When choosing a stroller to be used with the infant car seat, you need a stroller that can accommodate the two infant seats. This can either be a frame stroller like the BabyTrend Snap n Go or a full stroller like those highlighted in the table below. When choosing a stroller that will be used without the infant seat, you need one with fully reclining seats as babies cannot support their own heads for the first few months.

Frame stroller for Twins in car seats : These strollers are lighter weight but cannot be used once babies are out of bucket/infant car seats. The most popular one is the Baby Trend Snap and Go. This stroller is compatible with Britax, Chicco and Graco seats as well as Peg Perego, Baby Trend and Evenflo infant car seats.  

Full strollers for Twins in car seats: These stroller are heavier than frame strollers but can be used to toddler-hood (up to 4 years) depending on weight limit.    

Full Reclining strollers for Twins: The full recline means these strollers can be used with infants as the babies will stay in a laying down position. They are heavier than frame strollers and usually more expensive than the full strollers listed above but can be used to toddler-hood (up to 4 years) depending on weight limit.  

Check out the stroller reviews on Amazon for more information about the individual strollers 

Changing Baby's Schedule When Traveling

So in the last two months, our family has relocated twice. The first time was our Houston to Calgary move, and more recently we've moved from Calgary to the east coast of Canada. That's a lot of moving! We've gone back 1 time zone and then forward 3 time zones and I've learnt a bit about managing twin babies' schedule when travelling.

I've learnt that the number of days it'll take to transition a baby's schedule is at least equal to the number of time zones crossed. That's how it's been in my twintopia. When we moved one hour behind, we were able to change the schedule with one day of transition. When we moved three hours ahead, it's taken three transitional days to be back on our schedule.

Changing Feeding Schedule: I've always used feeding times as my primary tool for controlling the girls' schedule and sleep times sorta fall in place. Our current schedule is to eat every three to four hours after waking up. That means breakfast around 7:30am, lunch at 11:30am, snack at 3:30pm and dinner at 6:30pm give or take 30 minutes.

The steps I used to transition the schedule is to keep move the lunch time from 11:30am in the old time zone to 11:30am in the new time an hour at a time. It's best to use lunch time because that is the easiest feeding time to maneuver. Breakfast is tied to wake up time and cannot should not be messed with. Lunch time can be moved 2-4 hours after breakfast and the afternoon nap, snack and dinner will fall in place.

Changing sleep schedule: This is a little trickier because too little sleep can lead to super cranky baby X 2 and too much sleep means waking up at 3:00am to play peekaboo. I go with the sleep theory in Dr Weissbluth's book that babies need a certain number of hours to sleep every day. At this stage, both girls thrive on 14 hours of sleep in a 24 hour period. 1-3 hours of naps and 11-13 hours overnight.

When in the daycare, they take one long nap after lunch. At home with Mommy they take two naps. A one hour nap around 9:30 and a 90minute nap after lunch. In this case, I had to get them to go to bed earlier in the new time zone which means wearing them out in the day time which means allowing them to play through their morning nap time. I also shortened their afternoon naps by picking them up when they stirred instead of letting them settle back for an additional 30 minute snooze.

Here's how it works (OL is old location, NL is new location)
  • Day one: Wake up and have breakfast. It's 7:30am in OL and 10:30am in NL. Play through nap time and have lunch one hour earlier at 10:30am OL/1:30pm NL. Long nap. Snack at 1:30pm OL/4:30pm NL. Dinner at 5:00pm OL/8:00pm NL. Bedtime at 9:00pm
  • Day two: Wake up and have breakfast. It's 6:00am in OL and 9:00am in NL. Observe morning nap time and have lunch one hour earlier than previous day at 9:30am OL/12:00pm NL. Long nap. Snack at 1:00pmOL/4:00pm NL. Dinner at 4:00pm OL/7:00pm NL. Bedtime at 8:00pm
  • Day three: Wake up at usual time of 7:30 am. Activities in NL are now not more than 30 minutes from their normal scheduled time.
  • Day four: Our schedule is successfully transitioned
So that's what worked for us. One thing to note is that the changes make for a lot of baby sleep awakenings in the middle of the night and that is simply unavoidable. If only this worked for mommy. It's 1:00am and I'm plugging away at the laptop because my body thinks it's only 10:00pm. Sigh!
I, Have an affiliate link on the Dr Weissbluth book

Easy Toddler Meal Ideas For One Year Olds

Y'all I have toddlers in the house and feeding my one year olds daily requires some thinking outside the baby food jar. My twins are fully on table foods now and here's my current menu plan. I already disclosed my less than stellar crafty-homeliness, so all these meals are easy and fast

Cereal bars 
Fruit bars
Cereal mixed into yoghurt - Spoon fed by mommy. This is a weekend meal

Lunch & Dinner (Meals are interchangeable)
First of all, there are some foods that should always be in the pantry or fridge to facilitate easy toddler feeding:

Cheese in slices, shredded or sticks
Chicken in ready to eat form. I've had roasted chicken and this chicken breast pack from Costco that's really tasty
Ready to eat carb. That's either white rice or boiled pasta. This can easily be leftovers from the night before

On to the meals. All require less than 15 minutes of prep time. All received with a happy yum. All in a form that the babies can feed themselves
  1. Chicken Stir Fry - Fancy name for steaming a veggie stir fry pack and serving with bits of chicken. The kids also like it with some teriyaki sauce mixed in, hence the name.
  2. Steam veggies - The stir fry pack can be used or a pack of peas and broccolli steamed with diced carrots. Can be served with either chicken or cheese melted on top
  3. Baked beans - with or without rice (if served with rice, spoon feeding the babies is a better idea)
  4. Pasta with spaghetti sauce with or without cheese
  5. Adult cereal dissolved in a little milk and served with yoghurt (major yum)
For any of the meals that do not have a vegetable component, I serve fruits - quatered grapes, pieces of orange or banana
Pasta, Peas & Chicken with parmesan cheese and spaghetti sauce

And that's our menu plan for now. It's not fancy but it works for us.

Linked up with OrgJunkie's Menu Planning Monday

I, Have no material connection with the products or services mentioned
Have affiliate links in the post but my opinions are my own and not paid 
Have received a free sample for review but my opinions are still my own
Have been compensated by a company for this post but my opinions are still my own

Flying with Infant Twins

This will be the last of my out and about with infant twins series. To date, I have had 3 flights - 5 planes, 2 stopovers - with the twins. First flight was in July when they were 8 months old and second flight was when they were 11 months old. Here's what worked for us and what didn't.

Things that went right
  1. Travelling close to bedtime. Once the plane lights were dimmed, the babies settled down and slept off
  2. Changing diapers in the airport just before the plane boards
  3. Mylanta antacid in diaper bag. Spice has always had mild reflux but her pediatrician did not want to add cereal to her bottle because as at that time she was 75th percentile on the weight chart. Well mid-flight, she got airsick and started gagging badly. The Mylanta helped calm her stomach
  4. Lots of tissues and wet wipes in diaper bag
  5. Generous change of clothes, hooded jacket for babies, large mummy scarf that could double as a baby blanket. Layering clothes for all travellers is key
  6. Travelling with a second adult.
  7. Booking a seat for baby when affordable
  8. Pacifiers, backup pacifiers and backup to the backup pacifiers in diaper bag and handbag
  9. Soft, non-squeaky toys. Nothing like splitting a fellow passenger's lip with a flying Mr Weeble.
  10. Ready to feed formula in 8oz bottles, pediasure in 8oz bottles, ziploc of nipples and nipple rings that fit on the bottles.

Things that went wrong aka I'd like to forget these ever happened
  1. Peak daytime travelling. Babies are bored and want to move around and play. Fellow passengers may not be so understanding - not to mention the ear curdling screams that some babies *cough*mine*cough* can deliver
  2. Trying to change diaper on a plane. Some plane bathrooms do not have changing tables so it's really luck of the draw. Plus if they do have, changing a squirmy baby in that tiny space with little hands touching EVERYTHING!! Enough to make a germophobe mama use up bundles of wet wipes (see number 4 in What went right)
  3. Eating new foods 24 hours before travel time, can lead to several occasions of number 2 above
  4. Trying new diaper for trip - it just may leak
  5. Not having enough change of clothes for trip aka landing Canada in onesie and blanket
  6. Having more than one carryon i.e diaper bag, handbag AND laptop bag
  7. Not booking flight early enough to choose seats
  8. Carry-on that won't fit into stroller basket. Visualize pushing a stroller and pulling a suitcase
  9. Not travelling with double stroller. Once again, visualize pushing one stroller ahead and pulling one behind. Or trying to push both. Or something equally awkward enough to earn you the attention of the terminal
  10. Pouch of mango and pear baby food just before flight. 'Nuff said. This escalates numbers 2,3,4 and 5 

Disclosure of Material Connection: (Because the government said so)
I, Have no material connection with the products or services mentioned
Have affiliate links in the post but my opinions are my own and not paid 
Have received a free sample for review but my opinions are still my own
Have been compensated by a company for this post but my opinions are still my own

Grocery Shopping with Baby Twins

When my twins were younger, a lot of the trips outside the house were avoidable just because of the logistics. However, one unavoidable trip was grocery shopping with 2 infants. THAT required some planning and major thinking outside the box. So here are all the possible configurations that I tried
  1. One baby in carseat in cart + one baby in carrier: This works when one baby is asleep and needs to stay sleeping in the carseat. I kept the seat inside the stroller so this limited the size and amount of things I could pick. As the babies grew older and bigger, this configuration also limited the time of the trip to how long I could sustain the whole big baby in carrier business
  2. One baby in single stroller + one baby in carrier: Same as number one except this time I'm limited by the size of the stroller basket. I got a mommy hook (thanks to Melissa's post) and reusable shopping bags which allowed me to hang some bags off the stroller and increase the number of groceries I could get for the trip
  3. Both babies in double stroller: This worked for a trip where I wanted to browse the aisles leisurely and wasn't getting anything bigger than the stroller basket. The mommy hook was also a bonus for this
  4. One baby sitting in shopping cart + one in carseat in shopping cart: This works from when the babies can sit up unassisted but one was asleep when the trip started. Groceries limited by space left in cart. Shopping time limited by attention span of baby sitting in cart
  5. One baby sitting in shopping cart + one in baby carrier: Good for when both babies can sit up and both are awake. The whole shopping cart is available for the groceries but shopping time is limited by the comfort of the baby carrier
  6. Both babies sitting in shopping cart: I loved it when I could finally do this. Felt like I added a little red medal on my Super-Mommy uniform. This works for when both babies can sit up. The only stores I know that can accomodate 2 kids in the cart are Sam's Club and Costco. I hear some new Target carts can do this as well but have not seen them yet.
  7. Both babies at home with daddy:   :)
Buying Tips

  • The carriers, mommy hook and cart covers can be purchased from Amazon
  • Etsy has a wide selection of double cart covers which can be personalized, but I confess to finding them a bit pricy.
  • The cart cover in the picture is an out of stock one from BabeEase which was cheaper at $37. I had to email them to get a warehouse leftover
  • The Baby Bjorn carrier is good for an awake baby as the baby can face out and observe the goings on while the Infantino Ergonomic carrier was better for the sleepy baby as it offered good head and neck support.

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