How to Brush a Toddler's Teeth

How do I get my toddlers to allow me brush their teeth?

That's what I found myself researching last night. Thus far it's been a struggle getting the twins to allow me brush their teeth. I really wasn't interested in making an unpleasant event out of this so I turned to Mr Google and Master YouTube. This is the video I found most helpful


 
After this, I got both girls to stand (almost) still without fighting or complaining for 30 seconds each while I brushed their teeth. This morning we extended that time a bit. Here are a few things that contributed to our successful teeth brushing
  1. I let the girls watch the YouTube video with me. They were fascinated by the concept of a mom brushing her toddler's teeth
  2. Sing a song while brushing. I tried the song the woman in the video was singing but it didn't work. Since the girls already know the words "brush" and "teeth". I just chanted "brush your teeth" to a random tune in my head
  3. Start early - I started giving the girls toothbrushes from their first birthday. They'd nibble on them for a few minutes and that was good enough for me. I was particularly happy with the MAM Learn to Brush Set as they had a small bristle head plus a gum massaging tip at the non-bristle end. When the bristles started coming off, I couldn't find them again to buy in Calgary so I switched to a generic toddler brush.
  4. In the last couple of months, I let them see me brushing. They quickly caught on to the concept of moving the brush around your mouth just like mommy does
Numbers 3 and 4 in the list above created the familiarity that made it easier for numbers 1 and 2 to be successful. Dental hygiene WIN!

Extra Tip: Water is the last thing the girls drink before bedtime. The thinking is that it rinses out food remnants and sugar from their mouth so those don't sit in there overnight and create stanky breath. Toddler mamas, any dental hygiene magic bullets or working tips you'd like to share? Please do! 

Have a great weekend!

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GAP Socks - A Year Later


If there was ever a parade of honor for toddler socks, this will be it.  They are the GAP Cozy Socks and my girls have worn them just about everyday for the last one year. And in my opinion they have held up very, very well. Not a hole in sight. The colors still look good - any discoloration is due more to my laundry practices than the quality of the socks.They are sized for 12-24 months and have become too small for the girls' feet. This post is in honor of their retirement tonight.

The girls started wearing these socks around September last year in Houston and since then, the socks have kept their feet cozy and comfortable - through the wet winter of Newfoundland, to winter, spring and summer in Calgary. They're hard to kick off and come in packs of 2 complimentary colors / designs.  

On the GAP website, a 2-pack is being sold for $6.95 but I bought around 8 packs of these off season at a little under $1 for the 2-pack. If you find yourself searching for socks for a toddler 12-24 months, and these socks are on sale or discounted, my strong recommendation goes to them.

This post was not sponsored by the GAP in any form or fashion and is linked to Works for me Wednesday with Kristen

Sensory Bottles for Twins

This is not a post on how to make sensory bottles. There are a lot of great Internet resources available for that. I will list a couple at the end of this post. This post is about things to consider when making sensory bottles for toddler twins based on my experience in the last couple of weeks.
Sensory bottles are a Montessori play tool that I’ve been interested in for a while but procrastinated on putting some together for the girls until I saw how happy Sugar was playing with one in the daycare. I got some beads and food coloring to make 5 sensory bottles
Lesson 1 - Numeracy: Who makes odd numbered toys for twins? The ruckus becomes who gets the extra bottle
Lesson 2 - Duplication: The 5 bottles I made were all different. Predictably, both girls decided that the bottle with red-colored water was their favorite and they MUST have that one. The ruckus quickly degenerated into an all out cat-fight and there's a proverb in my native language that says "when 2 elephants fight, it's the grass that suffers!" The loser was the poor, defenceless sensory bottle
Lesson 3 – Eco bottles: You know those bottles that use 40% less plastic? Great for the environment. Bad for sensory bottles. They’re so soft that they crumble easily and I’m scared that with all the gnawing and chewing going on, the bottle may be punctured any minute. The contents are edible but still… I plan on making a new set using good ol’ coca cola bottles
Lesson 5 – Size matters: I used tiny water bottles and the tops were hard to tape plus the bottles were a little to easy for the girls to fling. Another reason to use coke bottles next time
Bruised, battered, shaken but not stirred
Mistakes made and lessons learnt. The bottles are enough fun for me to attempt again and hopefully get it right this time.
Now for those online resources, here’s a short list:
I'm linking up with Teresa of Capri + 3 blog for her Multiples Monday party and Deb's Montessori Monday party. Happy Monday to you!

Blog Retune and Refocus

This week has been an exhilarating one in my blogging life: I hosted my first set of guest bloggers - 2 moms with twin girls my age who did something I couldn't do - nurse twins for over 12 months. I'm in awe of Megan and Beth and all the moms who push past the challenges of breastfeeding. I ended my breastfeeding journey the day the twins got their 2 month vaccinations and I know how much more stressful those 2 months were due to the challenges of putting a lot of effort into breastfeeding my twins and getting insignificant results.

The guest posts mean a lot to me because it was in October 2010 when I first mentioned looking for a new direction to take my blog. I've spent the last 10 months trying to figure out what that direction will be by eliminating the things I don't like / can't do viz
  • No crafts
  • No recipes
  • I take pictures but photography is not my strong point either
What do I like doing? Researching. Informing. Giving solicited and sometimes unsolicited advice. I started this blog as an informational resource and I intend to continue doing that while focusing on
  • Skills needed for parenting twins
  • Balancing motherhood and working outside the home
  • Tying it all back to everyday Christ-led living 
Since my expertise is limited to my experiences, I intend to reach out to moms and non-moms to share their wisdom on my blog. It makes for a richer experience for me the blogger and for everyone that graciously follows this blog. So Megan and Beth's posts are the first of many.

And here's my hand reaching out to you - if you're interested in guest posting on this blog to share your experience and expertise, drop me an email and let's talk. You don't have to be a blogger or a twin mom. I truly believe that every person has a gift to share and I'm committed to this blog being a sharing platform.

Breastfeeding Twins - Megan's Story



This is the second guest post on breastfeeding twins in celebration of World Breastfeeding Week. Megan's sharing today and instead of writing a whole gushy intro, I'll just let you know that I discovered Megan's blog while I was pregnant and once I realized our due dates were close, I signed up to be a lifetime stalker. 



The “Art” of breastfeeding twins

Much like an artist who has feverishly painted multiple canvases before getting the final amazing finished product she was hoping for, such too is the art of breastfeeding twins. Not only is there no “right” or “wrong” way to do it, it often takes many different trials on many different “canvases” before you find the style and format that works the best for you.  Here’s my story of the trials and tribulations to find the “art” in breastfeeding my twin girls.  Enjoy.

The first year of my twin’s lives has proven to be the most difficult, yet rewarding, year of my life.

While I was pregnant with my girls I had decided, like many other twin moms, that I was going to give breastfeeding my best shot when the girls were born.  I knew from talking to other twin moms not to have too high of standards, to not feel bad if I only made it a couple of weeks/months, and to not be afraid to supplement the girls with formula if they needed it.  I was very hopeful though – my mom had successfully breastfed all three of her children - and my mother in law had successfully breastfed all three of her children as well. Although…none of those children were twins. Regardless, I had a wonderful support system, so as long as my body cooperated and produced copious amounts of milk, I was willing to rise to the challenge.

If only it were that easy

My girls entered into this world at 36w2d via C-section.  They were 6 lbs 1 oz and 6 lbs 4 oz, and while they appeared healthy to me, they quickly made their way from the Operating Room to the NICU.  Brianna was having breathing issues and required a CPAP and Olivia had low blood sugar.  Within 10 minutes of their birth they had been whisked away from me and down to a different floor on the opposite wing of the hospital.  So much for getting a chance to breastfeed my girls right away and bond with them as I had hoped…
Things only got worse from there.  I had preeclampsia (the reason for the early delivery), and within 12 hours after delivery my blood pressure skyrocketed to very dangerous levels.  The doctors and nurses wouldn’t let me get out of bed.  I couldn’t go and see my babies, and my babies couldn’t leave the NICU floor to come and see me. I couldn’t nurse them.  I was forced to use a pump to try and express milk for them.  As a first time mom to newborn twins in the NICU, the support I was provided for breastfeeding and nursing was definitely inadequate.  Sure, once my blood pressure stabilized and I could go down to the NICU to see and nurse my girls I could work with the lactation consultant, but by the time a lactation consultant was even available it was already Day 4 of my little girls lives and my milk had already come in. 

Thank God for my wonderfully supportive friends and family who encouraged me to keep pumping and nursing, or I definitely would have already given up.  My girls weren’t gaining weight appropriately, and “had” to be supplemented with formula in the NICU. I wasn’t producing enough milk to feed both of them.  One of the nurse practitioners in the NICU actually told me “not to bother” pumping/nursing because it wasn’t worth the effort to get such a small amount of milk.  I was devastated.  I kept nursing, and pumped every single time after I nursed to encourage my body to produce more milk, but I also supplemented the girls with an ounce of formula after each feeding to make sure that they were getting enough nutrition.  I kept telling myself to hold out and not make any decisions regarding breastfeeding until our girls were home with us.

After 8 days the girls left the NICU and came home.  They still weren’t gaining weight well, and in order to be discharged we had to agree to weekly visits from a home health nurse where she would weigh the girls and assess their growth and development.  I hated those visits.  Weight gain was slow, and the entire process was exhausting (nurse baby A, nurse baby B, pump, do it all again an hour later) and painful (literally…my nipples were like raw hamburger at that point!). Eventually we graduated from those awful home visits, and I was given permission from our pediatrician (at about 3 weeks old), to switch from breastfeeding plus supplementation with formula to just breastfeeding and supplementing with pumped breast milk.  I was SO relieved. 

Everything after that point went so much more smoothly.  Sure, I still nursed baby A, nursed baby B, and then pumped each time, but the feedings soon grew further apart, from every two hours, to every 2.5 hours, to every 3 hours.  I was also able to get to the point where I could pump and then feed both girls at the same time with the milk that I had pumped.  This saved a TON of time and made me feel like I had more time to do other things, other than be the resident milk cow (which I most definitely was!). 

I attempted to regularly nurse the girls at the same time using a twin nursing pillow (it has worked for a lot of twin mommas!), but I found that the nursing pillow wasn’t incredibly helpful until the girls had decent neck control (3-4 months), and even then I had one good breast feeder, and one not so good breast feeder who I couldn’t keep latched.  It became common for me to nurse baby B while daddy fed baby A a breast milk bottle that I had pumped.  It worked for us, so that’s what we did.
When I started back to work at 12 weeks my breast pump “Bob” (as my husband and I named him) became my new best friend.  Literally.  I never left home without it.  I pumped every 2-2.5 hours, for 20-30 minutes per pumping session. I had an entire second set of pumping gear at work. I had two pumps - a Medela Pump in Style and a Medela Freestyle. I had battery packs, I had car lighter adapters, I had spare parts galore. I had about a gazillion bottles...so many that the nanny has a hard time making them all fit in the cupboard when she did the dishes (LOL).

To say I was well equipped may have been the understatement of the year.

I was incredibly fortunate.  My body was able to produce enough milk to feed both girls exclusively, and I even had 5-6 oz a day left over that went into my freezer supply. Here’s a sample view of what my refrigerator looked like on any given day:

This is what is popularly known in breastfeeding circles as "The Stash"
I realize how fortunate I am.  This did not come without some serious commitment on my part though.  Here is what my daily schedule looked like when I went back to work, up until the girls turned 1:

5:30 AM get up - nurse Brianna.
5:50 AM Pump.
6:25 AM Shower.
7:15 AM Go to work.
8 AM Pump.
10:45 AM Pump.
12 noon Eat lunch.
1:30 PM Pump.
4:15 PM Pump.
5:30 PM – Go home.
6 PM eat dinner.
6:30 PM– nurse Brianna/Olivia.
7 PM Pump.
8:30 PM Bathtime and Bedtime.
9 PM Pump.
11 PM Pump, then go to bed.

My whole life was built around nursing and pumping! I had no idea it would be such a time commitment when I signed up for this breastfeeding gig =).  By the time the girls hit 12 months old I had spent the equivalent of a full 60 days (24 hour days) nursing and/or pumping. Wow.  WOW!  But you know what?  I wouldn’t change it for anything in the world.  I am SO lucky that I was able to nurse and feed my girls’ breast milk for as long as I did.  I was so very blessed. And the bonding I had with my girls was simply amazing.  I would highly encourage it.

Oh! And if you are going to breastfeed, I highly encourage investing in some nursing tops and tanks. I wear nursing tanks every single day (instead of nursing bras) and I love them! The tanks help to shape your post pregnancy belly a bit too. . .we can all use that, right? =). Nursing tops are perfectly designed to be stretchy and conceal the fact that you are breastfeeding an infant. I found nursing bras to be clunky and uncomfortable and non nursing tops to be a pain since you have to take them off to feed or pump. . .maybe just me. . .=)

So, for the new twin mommas out there, please know that breastfeeding may not be the right decision for everyone, but I do encourage you to at least give it a shot – make your own canvas per se.  It is hard, and no lie, it is painful, especially at first, but the benefits to your baby are astounding (assuming your body cooperates!). Overall though, please remember that you need to do what is best for your family.  If formula is best for you, formula is best! If breastfeeding works for you, absolutely 100% go that route! Dabbling in both breastfeeding and formula is perfectly acceptable too!! And of course if you have any questions or concerns about breastfeeding twins (or otherwise!), I would be happy to answer them for you =). I am currently nursing and pumping for my new son Hudson who is 2 months old, so I can totally relate from a singleton standpoint too=).

So there it is, my breastfeeding twins experience, in a nutshell.  I’d love to hear your experiences too! What helped make you successful?  What pushed you towards failure?  What would you have done differently if you could do it all over again?

Thanks Olusola for allowing me to guest post on your blog!!! =). 


Isn't she sweet? She writes an awesomely informative post for my blog and then thanks me for it! Visit Megan's blog to read heartwarming posts of her life with the twins and the handsome little man Hudson. If you're anything like me, you'll become her lifetime blog stalker too.  

Breastfeeding Twins - Beth's Story

In celebration of World Breastfeeding Week, I thought I'd do a series focused on breastfeeding twins. However, since I was not quite successful in that endeavor, I enlisted the help of a few friends. First up is Beth (popularly known on my sidebar as Nattie and Vera's mom). She's got 20 months and counting of twin breastfeeding experience under her belt. Lot's to share and lots to learn. Hope you enjoy Beth's breastfeeding story as much as I did.

Breast feeding twins is like competing in a marathon...there's the race to get two babies fed, it burns a ton of calories, and there are people on the sidelines cheering or critiquing.

I've been in this nursing marathon for twenty months now and honestly, I've had enough! Sometimes when my babies nurse it feels like they're sucking the life out of me. I call them my 'milk vampires'. With twins, why oh why did I decide to nurse until their second birthday?
Chilling in the mall with the twincesses.
(Vera in purple and Nattie in red)

Well...the decision was instinctual. It's what felt right for the well-being and comfort of my girls. I didn't plan on nursing for long. When I was pregnant I thought I'd breast feed for six months. For no good reason, I thought two years was too long. I thought babies were too old for it once they could walk up to the "boob bar" and "order" a drink. I was one of the people on the sidelines judging mothers for how long they nursed. I guess society's preconceptions rubbed off on me. After a little research, I found that the World Health Organization recommends two or more years breastfeeding. The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests a year or as long as possible. While it feels natural for me to do so, it hasn't always been easy...

I didn't prepare for nursing while I was pregnant. I was scared but reassured that breast feeding comes naturally. While this may be true for some, it wasn't for me. It was more like learning how to ride a bike. The babies had trouble latching on, and I couldn't figure out how to hold the breast the right way. It took three weeks until it clicked and felt like second nature. It really helped to supplement with formula and expressed milk for the first few months.

I began nursing one baby at a time. This was the most comfortable position for me. When necessary, I nursed one and propped up a bottle for the other. Around two months I started tandem nursing with My Breast Friend Pillow. This saved time and kept the babies in-sync. At five months I went back to breastfeeding one at a time. I was able to hold off one baby with a pacifier while I nursed the other. Or one would wake before the other to nurse. We fell into a nice rhythm where they were slightly out-of-sync with naps and nursing. From their first birthday forward, we went back to tandem nursing. As toddlers they have more control and like to hang out at the "boob bar" together.

It's been quite a ride - a bumpy start then smooth, a few "lulls" and extreme at times. Some months like, the sixth or seventh month the babies nursed less. Late teething however, has brought on more nursing and I feel stretched to the limit. My poor breasts feel and may soon look like something out of a Dr. Seuss book!

A few times in the first six months I had plugged ducts. This is when a milk duct becomes clogged and the breast is hard and sore. It can be caused by a few different things like stress or a change in the feeding schedule. It's easily treatable with a hot washcloth and compress.

Another difficult thing is the nurse-to-sleep association that has effected our sleep routine. And lastly, there is the mother's guilt. I will always feel a little guilty for drinking on occasion and not having a more nutritious diet. The quality of my milk is always questionable. Proteins and minerals are being leeched from my body to make breast milk. It's important that I continue to improve my diet and supplement with prenatal vitamins.

Besides these challenges of breast feeding, I am thankful for its health benefits, comforts and convenience. I can't imagine stopping now...it would feel weird since it's such a natural thing for my baby girls. I know they aren't ready to be weaned.

I have no regrets except, for my mediocre diet. I'm not concerned about being judged over how long or when (with infants) I nurse (sorry dude that sat next to me on the airplane!). My babies come first, and it's such a special time while breast or bottle feeding.

I wish I had read a post like this one month into my attempts to breastfeed the girls. Then I would have known that I could wait a few months for my supply to come. I thought the milk was supposed to gush like a river almost immediately. Too late to cry over spilled milk for me; but not for a lot of new moms out there who could do with the light at the end of the tunnel that Beth's story provides. Please be sure to visit Beth's blog; her posts are as real and informative as the one you just read plus Nattie and Vera are gorgeous.

21 Precious Months

21 Ways my princesses have amazed me in the last 1 month
  1. Composure: We went to visit friends and I gave Spice a piece of papaya that she did not want. Without being asked she took it, walked to the kitchen, located the trash can and threw it away
  2. Agility: Climbing out of their cribs. Can't help but wince-smile at that one
  3. Cleanliness: That's the positive spin I'm putting on Spice whipping off her diaper anytime it's wet or soiled
  4. Smartness: While wearing onesies with hearts on them, both girls tap on the hearts and say "I love you"
  5. Observations: I'm amazed at how the girls know the usage of certain things without being shown. They know that ear plugs go in the ear, gloves are for the hands and a flower clip (that we've never used before) goes on the hair.
  6. Imitation is the best form of flattery: We got 2 little bags for the girls (favors from a party) and Sugar likes to put her bag over her arm, say "ok bye bye", blow a kiss and walk to the nearest exit. I guess she's imitating me. I hope I look as graceful as she does doing it.
  7. If the shoe fits: Spice has been wearing my shoes. She can't pass by without putting them on and she walks quite well in them too if I may say so myself
  8. Politeness: The very polite shaking of the head when I offer them food that they don't want is .... well, my positive spin is that I prefer the head shake to the flinging angrily against the wall
  9. Meltdown, tantrum, whachumacallit: I experienced my first toddler tantrum this month and was seriously shocked speechless.
  10. Awareness: Sugar's 2 newest and most important words: "mine" and "why?"
  11. Genetics: Spice's newest and most important word, "sheshe". That means chicken by the way and yes, my baby loves her some fried chicken just like mommy does
  12. Nasal Skills: Both girls knowing to put their hands over their noses and forcefully blow out a boogie, THEN they can play with grab some tissues
  13. Stylin': Got some sunglasses from Gymboree and the girls love to wear them in the car. Till now, they've been ripping sunglasses off their faces so it's a step improvement (and helped them adjust to their car seats being front facing)
  14. Adventure: Being able to go up and down the big kid slide by themselves. Last month they couldn't and I had to hold their hands. Their gross motor skills are increasing in leaps and bounds (pun intended)
  15. Helpful: I'm now learning to assign them little tasks and they love helping out
  16. Restraint: Even though they can climb out of their crib, they haven't repeated the feat yet
  17. Gratitude: Mommy is happy that they are not climbing out of their crib because the air conditioning is broken and it's too hot for sleepsacks
  18. Number skills: Sugar can count up to ten and she can hold up her fingers for 1, 2 and 3.
  19. Cute overload: She does "2" with the index and middle fingers crossed. I think she can't figure out how to uncross them yet
  20. Musical skills: Spice is my little humming bird. She loves to sing and holds a tune very well. I've been able to identify a couple of songs she's humming
  21. Contentment: That's what I feel inside. Content, blessed and highly favored of God
Happy birthday my preciouses! Mommy gets impatient with you sometimes, but she wouldn't change you for the world.

Bumbo Seats Recalled

A recall has been issued for bumbo seats. They are to be refitted with seat belts due to babies twisting and falling out of chairs. Read more here.

The free repair kits can be ordered here for US residents 
or
here for residents of Canada

Picture: side view and top view of Bumbo seat with restraint belt repair

10 Tips for Family Photo Book Projects

I've mentioned in a couple of posts that I am doing a Photo Project 52 this year. Since the twins' first birthday, I've been taking weekly photos that will be part of their 2nd year photobook. It's been so much fun to look at the photos and literally watch the girls growing up. I'm already planning my photobook project for next year. This year's project has had some hits and a few misses and I would love to share them here. My learnings and tips on family photo book projects.
  1. Frequency: How frequently will the photos be taken? Daily, weekly or monthly? Weekly has really worked for me. I suggest starting with a goal of frequency in mind because sometimes life can be hectic and photography takes a backstage
  2. Reminder: Because the girls were born on Tuesday, I choose Tuesday as the week starter. After missing some weeks, I now have a reminder on my phone for Monday mornings. If I haven't taken a picture all week, then I know I have the rest of the day to get something done
  3. Backup: For the weeks I missed, I've been able to find some photos in TwinDad's phone. Thank goodness for that backup
  4. Camera Tricks: I have a very simple point and shoot camera but it still has a few tricks up its sleeves. The experts advocate reading your camera manual - I have a bad habit of not reading manuals unless I've broken something. I suggest pushing all the buttons on the camera to see what each one does. That's how I found out my camera has a special setting for taking photos of kids and pets
  5. Resolution and Image Size: This deserves a line by itself. To get more photos onto the SD card of my camera, I set the photo size to small and ended up with low resolution photos that look good on a computer screen but not so great in a photobook. It's definitely better to have huge photo files and resize them later on. This is a big mistake I made and it affected the quality of last year's photo book
  6. Software Editing Tricks: A mediocre picture can become nice with a little software manipulation - cropping, adjusting colors, contrast, even changing to black and white. No fancy skills needed. And there's no need to spend money on the software. I already have Microsoft Picture Manager on my laptop and use it for all my photo editing. Google's Picasa is also free to download and gives editing options.
  7. Phone apps: One word: Instagram. Glam up some of those phone photos with an Instagram filter. Even if the pictures are not shared, Instagram still saves them on the phone's photo gallery and they can be imported onto the computer later
  8. Words for life: I was half-way through when I realised I would like to have some words to go with the pictures. Too late for this year but I'll try it next year. Some ideas I have are including a monthly letter with each month's photos or writing a short note on each photo like Jennifer did in her 365 love letters project (please click that link and see the daily photos she took of her baby for a whole year, she was AWESOME and actually inspired me to start my own project 52)
  9. Theme: If not words, how about themes? Maybe a monthly theme. This will be good for older kids that have more structured routines and weekly photos can quickly get boring with the same background. I may incorporate this into next year's project as well; monthly themes like adventure for the summer months, love for February, thanksgiving for November, joy for December etc
  10. Photo Book Publisher: I STRONGLY recommend this post for evaluating all the photo book publishers. Last year I used myPublisher; rated Excellent to Superb in terms of photobook quality. This year, I plan on using either myPublisher of Photobook Canada. Since they both got the highest rating in that post, my choice will be decided by ease of use and cost
It's never too late to start a photo project. And one extra tip that I got from my friend Samantha, you can't  have too many photos. Those books and memories are for a lifetime. I was really stingy with the first photobook because I didn't want to exceed 27 pages and have to pay more. Yes, I tried to squeeze my first year with twin girls into 27 pages of maybe 50 photos. With benefit of hindsight, that was such a dumb mom decision!

Natural Alternatives to Vaseline for Babies

I started looking for natural alternatives to Vaseline (petroleum jelly) because over the last couple of months, Spice developed this horrid rash of dry skin. It started on her belly and quickly spread to her back and hands. I couldn't determine if it was just extreme dry skin, heat rash or something more that needed the attention of a dermatologist.

I decided to treat at home for a week and if no improvement was seen then a visit to the dermatologist may be required. A few online moms recommended using a dual layer of lotion and petroleum jelly. Sounded like a good idea so I've been buttering her up with Aveeno Eczema Lotion and non-petroleum jelly twice a day. It's been a month now and we finally have considerable visible improvement in the condition of her skin. 

Vaseline was a cure-all when I was growing up and there's no documentation of it being hazardous. However, it is still based on petro-hydrocarbons and I really would prefer something more natural for my babies. So I looked into natural alternatives to Vaseline and came up with a short list that looked like this:
  1. Live Clean non-petroleum jelly: Made in Canada and available in Shoppers Drug Mart and Walmart Canada. US folks can buy this online at Walgreens. This is first on the list because it's the one I bought and it worked well. I especially love the consistency because it isn't as sticky as vaseline. Main ingredient is castor oil. Retails for $7
  2. Alba Botanica Un-Petroleum jelly: Available in the "green" section of the cosmetic aisles. I used to have a tube of this it was okay but in the Texas heat, it stayed liquid and I would have preferred a solid jelly. Main ingredients are castor oil, coconut oil and beeswax. Retails for $4-6
  3. Waxelene Petroleum Jelly Alternative: Available in Whole Foods and Amazon online, the main ingredient in this is beeswax and soy bean oil. Sells for $7. Never tried this
Other notes:
Practically all the natural petroleum jelly alternatives have made up of castor oil and/or beeswax as the main ingredient. This means that it's easy to make at home and customize with other oils for the scent and texture desired. A quick google search on "home made natural petroleum jelly" turns up some good links for tutorials 

Resource:
The Environmental Working Group's cosmetic database is a good resource for checking the safety rating of personal care products being used at home.

Chatty Sunday

Hey peeps, today I'm over on Leigh's blog as part of her "Chat with Twin Moms" series. She's had this series going on for 3 weeks now and I've enjoyed reading the little nuggets other twin moms have to share.

If you're visiting from Leigh's blog, thank you for stopping by. I started this blog with one mission statement "to share and help". I hope you'll look around and find something new and helpful.

Have a blessed Sunday!

Preparing for Move To Our New Home

Today marks the start of a 30 day countdown to taking possession of our new home. If I stop to think about it, I end up in a state of feverish anticipation that never produces anything good so instead, I plan. And organize. And dream. And declutter. On my to-do list of things to do before moving?
  1. Do a closet-audit: I got around to starting this last weekend. Clothes that don't fit right, clothes that haven't been worn in over a year, clothes that have been worn a too much are all set aside. They are either donated to Goodwill or the trash depending on their condition. Last weekend, I dropped off the first bag of donated clothes. Right now we have a walk-in closet and the new house only has a wardrobe. I have it when all my clothes do not fit into their assigned spot so I think I have 2 more audits before the move date.
  2. Organize the twins' old clothes: I got an additional set of storage boxes from Costco last week and I'm organizing the girl's old clothes according to seasons. What to do with the old clothes? I'm sorting them into clothes for fall garage sale, clothes for spring garage sale, clothes to junk and clothes to keep.
  3. Get rid of junk fixings and furnishings: We have a few pieces of junk that we should have left in Houston when we moved but didn't. They are fixings and furnishings that are outdated, damaged, incomplete or just unloved. They also get the trash or donate treatment depending on usability. This includes things like the broken table that can never be put together, the unloved lamp that's missing it's shade, shampoos and cosmetics I do not plan on using, pillows that used to be white, DVDs gathering dust etc.
  4. Nix excess baby paraphenelia: Sippy cups? Reduced to bare minimum needed. Baby toys? Store or donate.
  5. Organize household trinkets: Right now, I'm buying little organizing widgets and putting things in the right place for a clean look. You could say I'm practicing for the new home. Learing new habits like how to keep food items in the pantry instead of on top of the fridge and keep my countertop free of gadgets.
My vision for our home is one of peace and there's something about clutter that just nixes peace in the bud. So I'm really hoping that by not moving into the new home with old junk, we're laying a good foundation for peaceful living.

The bags under my eyes?

Calgary's having a great summer.
The house was 85 degF yesterday.
Air conditioner is broken.
Babies sleep is big bed.
Think this graphic but with 2 babies instead of 1.
Spice was particularly fond of being a neck scarf.
Sugar preferred to be a snow angel with jazz hands.
Mummy might be a little extra-sleep-deprived today

Picture Credit

Toddler Meltdown in 12 Steps

Toddler meltdowns! I'd heard of them but always thought the reports were exaggerated and it could never happen to me. Until it did. Here's my first toddler meltdown experience in 12 steps

Step 1, the trigger: I thought it would be nice for the girls' bedtime milk to be a bit warmer (warm milk makes you feel all good inside right?!) so I put an extra 5 seconds while warming in the microwave. One baby did not mind. The other took a sip and blew a gasket.
Step 2, health check: The milk was not hot. It was just warmer than lukewarm. When she sipped and screamed, I thought there had to be something wrong with her mouth or throat and she was in excruciating pain. I looked in her mouth and saw her gums were swollen.
Step3, panic: I tried to give her an ice cube to relieve "the pain" and she screamed louder. She saw the advil on the spoon and gave me the evil eye. I called TwinDad and told him to come home ASAP as our baby needed to go to the ER. He hopped into the nearest taxi
Step 4, reality sets in: A little voice in my head said "this baby isn't sick. She's throwing a tantrum". There are no signs of illness and teething pain does not cause this much sudden screaming
Step 5, disbelief: I could not believe that the toddler who scratched, pinched and tried to bite me while screaming and thrashing on the floor for over 20 minutes non-stop was birthed by me. 
Step 6, safetify: That's not a word except in twintopia. It means if toddler is thrashing around on the floor, move her away from the staircase; move all pieces of furniture away from her radius and if all that isn't working, put toddler in crib
Step 7, deTwinify: With my twins, one can ignore the other crying for 7 minutes but not 20. By now twin 2 was also crying and dinner was totally ruined. I put twin 2 in the crib as well and that made it worse because she started crying harder. Took twin 2 out of the crib. At this point, twin 1's cries were getting less as she was starting to get hoarse. Twin 2 was happy to be carried by mommy and so shocked by her sister's behaviour, she gave me a pass for the evening and stopped crying
Step 8, pacify: By this I mean bring out the big pacifying guns. All my previous attempts - cuddling, kissing, tickling, grapes, my phone, the pacifier - had failed. The last line of defence was a "COLD" cup of pediasure with the advil from step 3. She tasted. She sipped. She liked. She stopped screaming to start drinking. They love their pediasure, that's for sure
Step 9, distract: While she drank I quickly picked her up, took her back to the living room and put on the "Cat in the hat DVD". This is no time for "Signing times" or "Your Baby Can Read". I confess my hands shook as I tried to play the DVD. I was petrified that she would finish her drink before the DVD came on and all hell would break lose again
Step 10, recover: TwinDad came home and the "little angels" laughingly ran to meet him like the last 45 minutes did not just happen. I couldn't look my baby in the eye as I was still on Step 5 disbelief. Recovery involved a glass of wine or some.
Step 11, breathe: Deeply! Welcome to the new milestone. I'm officially a mother to toddlers
Step 12, repent: I will NEVER warm their milk for 50 seconds again. EVER! 

Play Kitchen for Toddler Twins

This summer, I've been introduced to the wonderful new world of pretend play and big kid toys; starting with our play kitchen. I confess that I bought the play kitchen just because it was listed on Kijiji at the right price and looked well-kept. We've had our kitchen for over a month now and I love it so I though I'd share what to consider when buying a play kitchen for twins. In case any twin parent is considering getting one for their sweeties *cough*Ms M*cough*
    Kidcraft Corner Play Kitchen
  1. Standing / Playing Area: The play kitchen needs to have enough standing room for two toddlers to play side-by-side or it will be hell. It can be a corner kitchen, a very wide kitchen or one with 2 play sides. If buying used, dimensions can still be checked on Amazon. If buying new, words like "family" or "deluxe" in the play kitchen's name normally signify that it's a bigger size meant for 2 or more toddlers. (or lookout for a photo that shows 2 kids playing side by side in the kitchen. A lot of parents submit personal photos of their kids playing on Amazon so that's easy too). Of course the area available in the house to spot the kitchen is also an issue to be considered. Generally, the corner units take up less space than the wide ones.
  2. 
    Play kitchen with dishwasher, fridge and sink? I'm drooling
    
  3. Doors and cupboards: Sugar and Spice now have this default habit of splitting things into yours and mine. With the play kitchen, one person takes the cupboard section and the other person takes the microwave section. Plus just the presence of things to open and close makes them happy
  4. Utensils and extras: At 20 months, the girls need just a couple of pots and spoons. As they grow older, I'll throw more things in. One tip: the girls prefer the utensils that are more like the real deal e.g metal pots and larger cooking spoons
  5. Budget: New or used? A simple online search and I see kitchens ranging from $40 to over $300. One advantage of buying used is that most sellers will also be selling the accessories and utensils - that may be a disadvantage if you don't need them though. I have over 50 pieces of play kitchen accessories that I may not use thanks to the generosity of the lady who sold to me
  6. Green play kitchen options: Some parents would prefer a wood kitchen over plastic. Ikea sells a very nice wood play kitchen (that's just had it's price reduced by $20) and here's a great list of eco play kitchens and utensilsDUKTIG Mini-kitchen IKEA Encourages role play; children develop social skills by imitating grown-ups and inventing their own roles.
  7. DIY? I found a pinterest board with DIY play kitchens. Some of those look doable for the craft-inclined. Not I, can't sew a hem to save my life!
And in conclusion, here are the little chefs doing their thing. Happy shopping!
GASP! is that a metal pot in the microwave? ;)
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