Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The Twin Necessities

I've had a few people ask me about the must-have items for twins. Since mine are still only 6 months old, I'm sure there are lots of things I don't know that I need yet (like leashes! Seriously though..) but I thought I'd share my list of things that I've found helpful with twin babies.

Two bassinets/cribs-I know a lot of people put their twins in the same crib, which is great, but I could only do that for the first few weeks. My kids just don't hold still and they wiggle like crazy in their sleep, so two cribs for us was a must. I had them in bassinets for the first 5 weeks and I had two of those as well. 
Bouncer and swing-personally, I did not find it necessary to have two swings and two bouncers. We didn't have the space in our small 1-bedroom apartment for two of each. But I found that having one bouncer and one swing worked out great. I always said if it ended up that oth of them liked the swing, then we'd go buy a second swing later. You don't need to have two of everything.
Two car seats-this one is pretty obvious. Of course you're going to need two car seats. I highly recommend going with infant carriers that you can remove from the car because it's borderline impossible to carry two babies at the same time to and from the car.
Spacious vehicle-you might think you can fit two rear-facing car seats in the back of your little sedan. And maybe you can, but good luck fitting anyone taller than 5' 7" into the front seat. And don't even think about trying to fit a double stroller in the trunk! We opted for a mini van (I know. Get the laughter out now) and it has been fantastic. The convenience of having automatic sliding doors, plenty of storage space, and seats where I don't have to lift the car seats above my head to get them latched in has far outweighed my embarrassment at driving a mini van.
Baby carrier-whether you prefer an ergo baby, mobe wrap, sling, or baby bjorn, gets baby carrier of some sort. There will be times when you will have two sad babies that just want to be held, and it's far easier to do it with one in a baby carrier and one in your arms than hold them both with only one arm each.
Double stroller-we went with a BOB so that I could easily take the kids both out jogging, and I love it. However, if I could do it again, I would also get a stroller that we could clip the car seats into.
Twin nursing pillow and double electric breast pump-if you plan on breast feeding. I have the MyBrest Friend twin size nursing pillow and I LOVE it. I don't think I would have stick with tandem feeding if I didn't have it. And a good double electric breast pump will help a lot with your supply. For the first month I pumped at least 3 times a day to get my supply up. And another positive, my mom, husband  and friends were able to help feed the kids during those difficult early weeks using the milk I had pumped. 
Podee bottles-seriously these things are amazing. Even if you plan to breast feed exclusively, I would suggest having a couple of these bottles on hand. Bottle feeding two babies at once is really tricky business. These bottles allow the baby to hold the nipple in their mouth themselves (like a pacifier) without having to grip and hold up the bottle. The milk come up from the bottle to their nipple in their mouth through a small tube as they suck. Amazing!
Feeding tracking system-especially in the early weeks when the babies are on different eating schedules, it is so helpful to have some way of recording and tracking when they eat. We used the BabyConnect app on our iPad. It allowed us to track eating, wet/dirty diapers, sleep patterns etc. for both babies. 
Diaper bag with backpack type straps-my husband gave me a PPB diaper bag for Christmas and it has been amazing. Before that, I used a bag that just had a single shoulder strap but when you're alone and trying to carry a diaper bag in addition to two kids in car seats, having a bag that can fit on like a backpack is the best thing ever. Also, the straps on my bag have hooks that I use to hang grocery bags on when coming back from the store. I look like a pack mule but I love not having to take multiple trips!
Two high chairs and lots of bibs-when you are feeding two kids at the same time, it just gets messy. We go through bibs like they're going out of style. And having two high chairs is a must.
Changing pad?-we have one and we used it a lot when the babies were newborn, especially when my husband was home to help me. But when I'm alone, I find it's easier to lay a blanket down on the floor, put the babes on it and change their bums down there. So I would says changing pad ca be nice, but not a necessity.
Diaper Genie-to me, this is a necessity. We live in an apartment so it's not practical to run each smelly diaper outside immediately or even to set it out on the porch. The Genie does a great job of containing the smell while the diapers are stuck inside with us.
Storage-baby clothes take up a lot of space, especially when you have double the normal amount. We bought 4 plastic sliding drawer sets from Target that have 3 drawers each. So each baby has 6 drawers. In the top drawers I put the size they are currently wearing, then in the drawers underneath I have the next size ready to go. As they grow out of each size, I rotate them um through the drawers and put the too-small size in clear, labeled plastic totes in the top of the closet.
Lots and lots of diapers-we toyed with the idea of using cloth diapers to save money, but for two babies we decided the amount of laundry I'd need to do would be ridiculous. So we went with disposables. When they were newborn, we went through about 16 diapers/day. Now we are down to about 10/day. Which means that we spend $60-$80/month on diapers. 

Well there you have it, my must-haves for surviving the first 6 months with twin babies! 



Monday, February 24, 2014

From the Mouths of Babes

I have the 4 most darling nieces in the world. The oldest is 5 and the youngest is 3. Two of them just got a new baby brother, but the other two haven't had a lot of exposure to babies. So when we moved here close to them, it was like a whole new world of nursing, spit up, stretch marks, and babies being babies. They have been such good little helpers and love playing "mommy" themselves. Their curiosity about all things baby has led them to say and do some pretty funny things. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did!

After peeking under my nursing cover, "Mom! Aunt Holly is feeding Caroline out of her booties!" (Yes, she calls them booties.)

"Aunt Holly what's wrong with your belly?" "What do you mean?" "Well... It's scrambled!"

"Mom why can't you feed Charlie out if your booties? Because Aunt Holly would get mad?"

My sisters have both observed their little ones pulling up their shirts to feed their babies like me. 

While helping her mom babysit the twins, "Aunt Holly. I'm calling you on my microphone. Caroline spit up her peas. Call me back. Officer out."

After peeking under my cover while I was pumping, "What is that thing?" Me: "it helps get milk out of my body to feed the babies in a bottle." "Oh!" Then, to my grandpa, "Gramps do you hear that pumpy thingy? It's getting the milk out of Aunt Holly's booties!"

Every single time I change a dirty diaper, "Ew! Did he go poop?"

While feeding Charlie, "Aunt Holly what are those things?" "Oh Charlie is eating." "Eating? He's EATING YOU?!" 

I sing a night time song to the babes every time I put them down for a nap. My niece has started singing her version of the song to her doll, "it's beddy time, it's beddy time.."

Love those girls. 



Thursday, February 20, 2014

Little Moments

Every evening as I'm making dinner I put the kids in their swings in the kitchen. They usually play there happily for at least an hour. One time Charlie was feeling really sad as I put him in. He cried for a minute once I sat him down, then he was ok. I was cooking away when out of the blue I hear him giggling. I turned around to find him staring at one of the bars that was holding up the swing, holding out his hand to touch it. And he thought it was hilarious! This was right around the time that he had just started to be able to see things, so in addition to me thinking it was absolutely adorable, it also brought me peace knowing he could see that bar. That tender, sweet little moment made my entire day.

And then there's Caroline. My sweet, beautiful little Caroline. She smiles more than anyone I know. Even when she's in the middle of a crying spell, when I walk into the room to see her she takes a quick break from the tears to give me a heart-melting grin. And then she goes back to the cry. She is also a bit shy. So when she sees new people, or even her own reflection in a mirror, she gives the worlds biggest smile and then promptly turns her face away because she just can't handle it! It's absolutely darling. My sister Ashley always says that she about turns herself inside out smiling at people. And she does. And I love it.

My days are made up of countless little moments like this. They are what keep me going. Every heartache and hardship is forgotten when I get a big smile or when I hear a little giggle. It's the little things in life that count.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Meal time

My kids love food. Like, really love it. So much so that they often get impatient that they only get every other bite. And they eat a ton! Baby food adds up and can get really expensive, so I make my own. It's super easy, plus I've read articles that suggest that kids who are fed with homemade baby food may end up being less picky than others. We'll see if that proves true or not. Either way, I use my rice cooker to steam carrots, squash, sweet potatoes etc then add a little of the steam water and purée them in the magic bullet. Then I put them into ice cube trays and freeze them. Once they're frozen I break them into a ziplock freezer bag to store them until I'm ready to use them. So easy. I've made peas, carrots, green beans, squash, and sweet potatoes. The fruits are generally easier just to make fresh - ie) I'll cut up a fresh pear and add a little water and mix it in the bullet. I sometimes add a handful of frozen blueberries to it before mixing. They love it all! I've also been trying to introduce spices so they can get different flavors. I put cinnamon in their oatmeal/applesauce mixture every morning, and I've added garlic, chili powder, and herbs to their sweet potatoes. It's really fun to experiment with different flavors and see their reactions. My rule is that I never give them anything I wouldn't eat. So when I made the sweet potatoes and tasted them and thought they were too bland, that's when I started adding spices. My goal is to be able to transition them right to eating the same meals that Forrest and I eat, so I don't have to prepare or buy special meals for them.



Lately Caroline has been not liking her high chair. She'll sit in there for the first few bites, but then she cries and fusses until I get her out and put her on my lap instead. Then she's happy as a clam. But that means that I'm trying to keep the bowl of food out of her reaching grasp while I try to feed her (without being able to see her mouth very well) and feed Charlie, who is waiting anxiously with his mouth wide open for another bite. Generally we all end up covered in whatever food they're eating, but it's ok. I find the challenge to stay clean kind of thrilling. When she will stay in her high chair, Caroline makes me work pretty hard to get her to open her mouth. I don't think it's because she doesn't want the food - she loves it and she'll eat 4 cubes of food (which is about the equivalent of two store bought containers) without batting an eye. I think she does it because she likes to see me be silly. So she sits there with her lips pursed tight until I come up with a silly new song or pull a face that is funny enough to make her crack a smile - then I sneak the spoon in and she's thrilled as she chows down. Meanwhile Charlie sits with his mouth wide open, as if saying "Give it to me! I'll take it! Pick me!" 

And Charlie has made a habit of falling asleep in the middle of dinner. I mean literally, in between bites. He starts strong and then after a few bites, his eyes stay closed longer when he blinks. Then he gets to the point where he just leaves his eyes closed and opens his mouth for bites when I touch the spoon to his lips. I know he's finally 100% asleep when he stops opening his mouth at all. He hunkers down with his face still covered in food and takes a little 15 minute cat nap, then wakes up ready to resume his eating. Like nothing ever happened. I think it's the cutest thing ever. 



Don't you agree?



Wednesday, February 12, 2014

There's nothing wrong with being different



I took the twins in for their 6 months checkup a few days ago. Our pediatrician, who I really like, did all the normal stuff, asked all the normal questions and talked about normal development. The he started talking about his concerns with Charlie, making sure we're getting him in to see the appropriate specialists etc. He handed me a card of a woman who works in their office and handles all of the special needs cases. The minute he said that, my heart sank. I'd never thought of my son as being "special needs" before. It took me a few minutes to process that. 

After the appointment I was reflecting, trying to sort through my thoughts and feelings and wondering why I had reacted negatively to those words. Because the truth is, I've spent years working with and associating with special needs individuals. And I've loved every minute of it. My friends and students with special needs are some of the kindest, funniest, most loving people I've ever known. I had just never expected that one of my children would be among them. 

It really made me do some deep pondering. And then I realized why I had been bothered by that terminology. Because society has given "special needs" a negative stigma. As if there's something wrong with having needs beyond your own abilities. Like it's a bad thing. Just because they are different from us. Some people don't know how to act around those who are different. Really, they just want to be treated the same as everybody else. And that's what I want too.

I want Charlie to live as normal a life as possible. And I believe he's capable of doing everything that his sister is, and anything else he wants to do. I cringe when people stare at him at the grocery store. Or give me the questioning look that I assume means "why in the world is your child wearing sunglasses inside?". Or even when the doctor kindly gives him a stick but puts it right in his hand instead of letting him reach for it, like he did with Caroline. Inside I'm screaming "He can see it! He ca grab it in his own. Just give him the chance to try!" And I know most people are very well meaning. Like I said, I really like our pediatrician. He has been so kind and good with Charlie and I know he is very concerned for his well-being.

But people just don't know. Often we don't think before we speak or act, and it ends up hurting others. Having special needs is not a bad thing. It just means that some people need to do things a little differently than others. They might think and communicate differently. They might express their emotions differently than we do. But they're still people. And they still deserve to be treated with love and respect; not ignored, feared, teased or coddled. Wherever possible, they need to be given the same opportunities as those around them.

That's hard to do. It's something I am trying to improve on. It's so easy to just hand Charlie a toy when he's having difficulty finding something to play with. It's awful to watch your child struggle, and as parents it's natural to want to make things as easy as possible for him. But easy is not always best.

I realize that if I want others to treat him the same as they treat others, it starts with me. I'm still learning how do deal with Charlie's special needs. Heck, I'm still coping with the fact that he even has special needs. But now I can say those words and not be sad about it. Because there's nothing wrong with being different! When it comes to race, culture and religion we celebrate our differences. Well today and every day I'm celebrating the fact that Charlie is different. And I wouldn't trade him for anything.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Simplify

When we lived in California, I received some advice from a member of our Bishopric that I will never forget.

This was a few years before we had children. Forrest had just received his masters degree from USC and was about to start working full time at a large accounting firm. I had just accepted my job with special needs students at the high school, and been asked to take over as the head coach for the girls' soccer team. It was an exciting time - we were no longer students, we were finally becoming "real" adults.

And this advice couldn't have come at a better time. It was simply this: "As you build your lives together, don't over schedule yourselves. Leave some time to read books, to breathe in the fresh air, to take walks together and to sit on the ground and play with your kids. Because those are the moments you will look back on and wish there were more of."

It is so easy to let life completely overwhelm you. Especially as a new mom, you feel like you will never be able to do all the laundry or wash that big pile of dishes. You feel like you'll never vacuum or mop again. Or do your hair. Or put on makeup. That has caused me a fair amount of stress over the past 6 months.

But seriously, it is impossible to do everything. And when it comes right down to it, I would rather spend half an hour singing to and tickling Charlie just to get a few giggles out of him. Or making silly animal noises and showing Caroline colorful pictures so I can see her sweet smile over and over again. In the moments where I feel completely overwhelmed by all that I think I need to do, I try to remember those words. "Don't over schedule.." And then I decide it's ok to let some things go.

I try to remember that simpler is better. That it's ok if someone comes to visit and my house isn't spotless. That Forrest will still like me even if my hair is in a ponytail everyday for the next year. That I can survive on cereal and omlets when I haven't been to the grocery store in weeks. That it's ok to not take your kids to see Santa on their first Christmas, they really won't remember it anyway.

Some things just have to fall through the cracks. And I would much rather those things be things like laundry, makeup, hair and dishes than precious time spent with my family. Because those moments, the tender little moments spent with your loved ones, are the ones you will cherish. Because our children learn more about how much we love them when we read them a story than when we have perfect hair and makeup.

So next time you see me, I will possibly be wearing sweats. My hair will undoubtedly be pulled up and may even have some spit up in it. My house likely won't be clean. But it's ok. You probably won't be able to see the smiles and giggles, the little cooing conversations, the love and the joy. But they're there.

Don't get me wrong - I do try. I like to do my hair every once in a while, and I do make an effort to do the housework. Amazing things can happen in this house when the twins are napping. But it's those times when I have to choose one or the other. That's when I choose to let the less important things go, so I can focus on what's most important.

Playing with my kids is far more fun than housework anyway :)

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Common twin questions

Some twin moms get really upset by the questions people ask - and understandably so! Some people are extremely ignorant and the questions they come up with can be quite impertinent. Impolite. And down right rude! Me, I usually just think they're funny. Now sit back, relax, and enjoy some of the funny questions I've been asked.

Upon seeing that I have a boy and a girl.. "Are they identical?"

"My aunt's cousin's daughter just had twins."

"Are they paternal or maternal?"

When I was pregnant- person: do you know the genders? Me: no, not yet. Person: do you know if they are identical? Me: they're not, they're fraternal. Person: oh! So it's a boy and a girl! I thought you didn't know the genders yet? (Then I try unsuccessfully to help her understand that it is quite possible for fraternal twins to be the same gender).

"Were they natural?" (This is the only question that bothers me. Especially if it's a completely random person that doesn't know me. What in the world do you expect me to say? "No actually, we had to go through years of infertility and spend thousands of dollars and give myself hundreds of shots to get them.")

"Oh a boy and a girl! How perfect! So you are done!"

"Can I have one? I'll just take them right off your hands for you."

When I was pregnant- "are you sure there aren't more in there?"

"Do twins run in your family?" (That's the nice way of asking if they are natural)

And last but not least, this one was not said to me, thank goodness.. "Did you have to have sex twice in the same night to get twins?"

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

The Fun Continues..



In last nights continuation of Week of Awesome, we had a workout night. I know, it might sound a little lame, but it was actually really fun! I found a random workout video on YouTube, we got dressed up in our best workout clothes and worked ourselves into the ground! Seriously we were sweating a lot. Afterward, I made up some blueberry recovery smoothies and we watched the finale of the Biggest Loser. Forrest wasn't super thrilled about working out at first, because he was so tired after a long day of work. But he had fun and afterward he admitted that he'd needed it!

And I'm really excited about tonight's activity! I'm calling it "Ledbetter Laboratory." I got the idea from the Dating Divas here. The plan is to perform different experiments (like, the kinds you did in middle school) and have fun laughing about them! The list includes making ivory soap clouds, the infamous diet coke and mentos explosion, writing notes to each other using invisible ink (lemon juice) and making color-changing drinks. Happy Hump Day!!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Board Game Blitz

It's Week of Awesome here in the Ledbetter household!! Forrest was so excited and surprised when he got home from work last night and saw this hanging on the door:


Playing board games is one of our favorite activities, but with little ones around we don't get to play nearly as often as we would like to! So the night was devoted to two of our favorite games, Ticket to Ride and Settlers of Catan.



When I was planning this activity, I was looking for a way to spruce it up a bit so it was more exciting that just playing games. I mean, this is Weeks of Awesome, after all! So I added in a rewards system so that every time we made a play, we were rewarded with something fun! I bought some candy bars and threw them into a bag to create a "prize grab bag" and I had Forrest bring home a pizza so we could use the slices as a prize. I made up the rest of the rewards randomly. It ended up being so much fun! Here is a look at the rewards system we used for Ticket to Ride (and he one for Settlers was very similar). 


Can you tell that by the time I got to green I was running out of ideas? Haha we had a great time playing, talking, eating and laughing. I'm excited for the week to continue with tonight's activity!! More on that tomorrow.