Thursday, November 20, 2014

Our Favorite Things

Sometimes I feel like I get in a major rut when it comes to entertaining and feeding my children. Like we do the same things over and over. So I've been trying to switch it up a bit! The twins' preferences change just about as often as mine do (which is a lot), but for now, here are a few of our favorite things!

Toys: 

 
I wish I could remember what website I got this idea from, but I can't. I went to my dad's work and picked up two cardboard tubes of different sizes, and then taped them to diaper boxes stacked on top of each other. In the bottom of the bottom box there are a bunch of books so it will stay in place. Charlie and Caroline LOVE this toy! And it was free. They stand there for 10 minutes at a time (which is a really long time for a 15 month old!) and drop toys down the different tubes and get quite a thrill out of watching them come out the other end. Originally I only had the bottom box/tube combo, but now that they are a little older I added the top one and they think it's great looking at different toys to try and determine which tube they will fit down (the top tube is about half the size of the bottom one). It's been a great toy/learning station for my littles, and I think it will be especially great heading into the winter months!


Anything with wheels! Caroline is obsessed with sitting/riding on things with wheels, and Charlie is fascinated by flipping the item over and playing with the wheels himself. I am sad about winter coming for this one reason alone! There are so many bikes and scooters etc out in the courtyard that they love to play with! 


This toybox (I got it at Ikea for under $10 I think) has been the source of lots and lots of enjoyment! They love climbing inside, tipping it over, throwing the toys in and out etc. 

Activities:


Helping me "fold" laundry is a favorite of theirs! Charlie loves to sit in the laundry basket while I pull the warm clothes out of the dryer, and they love to help me sort the colored socks from the white socks. 


Charlie and Caroline love doing "chores." Their favorite is throwing the diapers away, but they also are responsible for putting their clothes in the laundry basket, cleaning up their tubby toys at the end of the bath, and wiping off their high chair trays after a meal. 


This basket in the living room used to be filled with baby blankets, but we recently made a switch to something a little more practical and fun: balls! We have a ton of them (mostly small soccer balls) and they love them all. A favorite activity is dumping all the balls out and then throwing them back in one at a time. We are still at the point where the basket is right next to them when they "throw" the balls in, but we're trying to move it farther away a little bit at a time. 


We can't forget climbing! That's quite possibly their favorite activity. Every once in a while we take the cushions off the couch and line them up to make a "balance beam". The littles think it's hilarious to try and walk on it because it's so squishy and wobbly so they always fall right off. Other times we drag the chair into the middle of the floor so they can climb all over it and won't hit anything when they fall off (if there was only one of them climbing on it, falling probably wouldn't be an issue.. but with 2 it definitely is!). Sometimes we pull out all the pillows, cushions, crib mattresses etc and make a climbing obstacle course in the living room. They think it's pretty fun, and considering how much of a mess they usually make when they play, it's not too bad of a clean up.

And I don't have a picture, but another favorite activity is reading. They've always liked being read to, but especially in the last few weeks they really LOVE picking out a book, sitting down on our laps and looking at pictures over and over and over. Caroline isn't shy about it - she picks out a book, throws it at one of us, turns around and backs up and plops her little bum right down on a lap and wiggles herself back until she's wedged in tight. Charlie is a little more hesitant. He picks out a book and shows it to me but won't come sit on my lap unless I pick him up and put him there. But once he's there, he grabbes my hand and sticks the book right in it to read. I love it :)

Food:

I don't make separate meals for the littles. They just eat whatever I eat, chopped up small enough that they can eat it. They'll eat most anything, but these are a few of their favorites:

-steamed squash
-kidney beans
-toast
-frozen blueberries
-raisins
-tilapia
-apples and peanut butter
-shredded wheat
-oatmeal
-yogurt
-string cheese
-mandarin oranges
-olives

I could keep going for a long time but I won't bore you with every single thing they eat. I hear most kids go through a pick stage when they get closer to age 2, so I'm trying to enjoy them being fantastic eaters while they can, and crossing my fingers that we won't go through that picky stage!

MY favorite things:

And now a short list of my favorites.

-during the twins' afternoon nap, I really enjoy cooking and prepping dinner, baking, cleaning the kitchen etc. (I'm being serious, I really do enjoy it!). I take the iPad and turn on Netflix and cook away. Then I can enjoy watching TV but don't feel guilty about sitting on the couch all afternoon wasting time. 
-reading. Right now I'm in the middle of Outliers and It is fascinating! I don't get much time to read, so I've been reading this book for months.. but even if it takes me forever to get through it, I still love it!
-yoga. I didn't get to work out at all while I was pregnant with the twins so this is new for me. Earlier in my pregnancy I did a lot more cardio work, but it's become much more difficult for me to do that now. But yoga is the perfect balance of exercise and relaxation. I LOVE IT! And I do it at home in my living room while the twins are napping, so I don't have to pay for a gym membership or worry about finding someone to watch the twins.

These are a few of our favorite things. What are some of yours?





Friday, November 14, 2014

Just How Much?

With a third little munchkin on the way to join our family, I've been thinking a lot lately about our use of diapers, wipes, baby food etc. and how much we use of everything now. And then I think about how much more of it we're going to use very very soon!

When the twins were newborn, we went through approximately 24 diapers a day. Yes, that's right, 24. Per day. Which means that we spent roughly $150/month on diapers alone. Now it's a little better than that. Ok, it's A LOT better! On a typical day we use about 8 diapers. Which means that our diaper spending has gone down to $50/month. Much better! Not for long though, soon will have a cuddly new little poop machine to keep covered up. But newborn diapers are so much easier to change!!

Ok enough with diapers and poop. Let's talk about food. Charlie and Caroline are eaters. Big, big eaters. They always have been. When they were 5 months old, they started eating a ton. Seriously, A TON! I would buy 1 lb bags of frozen veggies, heat them up and puree them, and then they would eat the entire bag in one sitting. We don't have to make special baby food for them anymore, thank goodness. They just eat whatever we eat! And between the two of them, they eat about as much as I do. And remember I'm pregnant, so I eat a pretty good amount! If I make myself a bowl of oatmeal, I make an extra for the twins. I eat a sandwich, they eat a sandwich. I eat a yogurt, they eat three yogurts. Though it is really wonderful to not have to make purees anymore, there has definitely been an increase in our grocery budget lately! But I am super grateful the littles eat so well.

Other things add up as well. Up to this point, they have just shared everything we have. And now they want their own of everything. My logical half says they can just learn to share. And then my irrational half says to just go ahead and get them each their own of everything so they will stop fighting over every toy and sippy cup we own. I'm still on the "learn to share" bandwagon, but it is tempting at times! 

Clothes are another issue. Thankfully up until now, nearly all of their clothes have been given or loaned to us. But now we're having to start buying clothing and let me just say, D.I. is the best thing ever for baby clothes. I got Caroline's winter coat there for $5 a few weeks ago, and it looks brand new! Thank goodness for that, because buying double the clothes is super super expensive! 

I know our lives are about to get WAY crazier. There will be way more poop, a whole new hungry mouth to food, another tiny body to keep clothed (oh, the laundry!), and a third set of nap schedules to work around. But most importantly, there will be one more cuddly baby to hold and to love. More giggles and smiles and a whole new set of firsts. And for that, I absolutely cannot wait! 


Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Just a Boy and a Girl

When I found out I was expecting boy/girl twins, I was super excited! There are a lot of things to love about that. Most people say "you can just be done now!" Clearly that's not the case. But having one of each is perfect, in my opinion, and I was super excited to get to see the differences in their personalities and devolepment, side by side. 

So far I have not been disappointed. They are so, so different. And obviously they have both had the same parenting, at the same time. They share all the same toys, are given all the same foods to eat, and are exposed to (almost) all the same experiences. And yet they are different. It amazes me.


Charlie is 100% boy. He is not the least bit interested in stuffed animals, clothes, dolls etc. He LOVES things with wheels. Cars, strollers, walking toys etc. He plays with them constantly. Sometimes he pushes them around the room, but many times he purposely tips them over so that he can just spin the wheels around and around. And then he examines every little part of whatever he's playing with to try and figure out how it all works. He loves pulling things apart and putting them back together. He loves hinges and is thoroughly entertained by opening and closing doors, books, and anything else that operates on a hinge. And he loves climbing anything and everything in sight.


Caroline, on the other hand, could not be more girl. She is obsessed with dolls, stuffed animals, and her blanket. She hugs them tight to her and rubs her face against the softness. She loves combing her hair, blowing her nose, cleaning the floor with wipes, putting on my blush, having bows in her hair (even though she prompty pulls them out, she begs me over and over to put them in for her), and dressing and undressing herself. She loves shoes and wants them on her feet all the time. She loves wearing my necklaces, and constantly brings me lotion to put on her hands and chapstick to put on her lips. She loves carrying around purses and stuffing random items in them. Like I said, all girl.

Charlie is a little bit reckless. He has no fear and he climbs everywhere and then head dives back down (even though he knows how to get down safely). He falls AT LEAST 10 times more each day than Caroline and is constantly covered in bumps and bruises. Caroline is a bit more careful. Her balance is much better than her brother's and she rarely falls. Charlie is pretty easy going and Caroline is a little high strung. Caroline crawled, walked, pick up food etc. quite a bit sooner than Charlie did, but Charlie's vocabulary was bigger at an earlier age. And by vocabulary I mean that he could make a number of animal sounds and car noises pretty early on :). 

They are simply the best. I love them so so much, and I love the special bond that they have. When Charlie cries, Caroline goes and squats down next to him and jabbers some nonsense in his direction, then pats his head and gives him a hug. When Caroline cries, Charlie cries too. Or occasionally he laughs. They can make eachother laugh more than anyone else can, and they love tackling eachother to give hugs and kisses. They think they are hilarious when they stand on either side of a door and swing it back and forth to eachother, or when they hide on either side of a chair and play peek-a-boo. I am so grateful that they always have their best friend to play with. And frankly, I'm a little bit jealous that I didn't grow up with a twin!

We Worked Hard for This!


When Charlie and Caroline were 8 weeks old, they started sleeping 8 hours at night (together - at the same time - without eating). And it was wonderful! Within the following month they moved up to sleeping between 10-12 hours/night, and since then they have been fairly consistent at sleeping 12 hours. Occasionally some teething, sickness, and other sleep disruptions occur, but generally speaking, my children are fantastic sleepers. Hallelujia! 

I often get people who ask about their sleep habits (especially when they were younger) and when I tell them how well they sleep, I get comments like, "You are so lucky to have such good babies!" and "Wow, count yourselves lucky!". And I do. We have been extremely blessed to have such wonderful children and fantastic little sleepers.

But when I respond with the usual, "Yes, we sure are," a part of me also wants to tell them that it's not all luck. Actually I am more of the opinion that it has very little to do with luck at all. I've mentioned before how difficult the first 5-6 weeks with newborn twins were. Partly it was just really hard getting things figured out - learning how to breastfeed two tiny infants, trying to discipher their different cries, and all the other things that come with being a first-time parent. But also I think it was extra hard because we (Forrest and I) made it that way. We were determined to do the hard things then, in the early weeks, so that we could have peace and quiet later on. By that I mean that instead of enjoying the ease and convenience of only feeding one baby when they woke in the night, we chose to wake the other baby too and deal with the commotion of trying to tandem feed in the pitch black at 2 AM, 4 AM, and so on.. I also mean that we sleep trained the littles when they were only 5 weeks old. (Side note: I get that there are arguments for and against cry-it-out. It's not for everyone, and that's fine. I'm only sharing what worked for us.) It took about 3 days of letting them cry in their cribs for what sometimes seemed like hours (in reality it was probably 45 minutes at the very most) until they learned the valuable skill of putting themselves to sleep. And since then, except for the rare circumstances when we are away from anywhere with a crib/pack'n'play, I have never had to rock a baby to sleep. 

Not that I didn't ever want to. The few times that one of the babes has fallen asleep in my arms are times that I treasure and remember with a smile (a sad one, because they are getting so big!). But the minute Forrest went back to work I knew it was impractical for me to rock each of my babies to sleep for naps ALONE. Sleep training was so worth it for us.

And now that the littles are not so little anymore, it is so wonderful (for me and for them) to have the predictability of our routine. I sometimes get easily overwhelmed when it's first thing in the morning and the house is already a mess with breakfast dishes and toys spread everywhere. It's a lifesaver for me to know that regardless of what happens during those couple of hours, at 10 AM the munchkins will be snoozing away and I can deal with the dishes and the toys then. 

Charlie and Caroline thrive on their routine. Caroline a little more-so than Charlie, now-a-days. When I say the word "naptime" she actually runs into the room, grabs her blankie and her panda/dolly/bear (whatever is her favorite at the moment) and tries to climb into her crib. I'm not kidding. Charlie usually makes a break for it in the other direction. Their little personalities crack me up! 

Anyway, my point is, parents have a lot of control over what kind of sleepers their littles ones turn out to be. Not complete control, but a good amount of it. So find something that works for you! Happy sleeping everyone :)