Flying with Twin Toddlers

IMG_5047_WEB

We have just completed our first plane trip with our 2.5 year old boys, which obviously makes me a top expert in the field of traveling with toddlers! Haha, obviously that’s a joke. However, I was pleasantly surprised at how well the long weekend went overall, and wanted to share some tidbits in case they’re helpful.

I’m going to break it into a few posts: the flying part, the Washington DC visit, and the apps they like to play.

IMG_5070_WEB

This first tip is HUGE DEAL. Since my husband was out of town and our nanny has an injury, my mom was here helping out late last week, and she was planning to drive us to the airport and help us check in. But then while she was here she asked about getting a gate pass. I was like, huh? Turns out that you can get a special ‘ticket’ or pass for someone to help you in the airport, past security. (I called the airline and told them, and then the ticketing agent is the one who can issue it, or not.) Seriously, this was a gamechanger. Being able to have two adults for the entire process made a huge difference.

IMG_5034-1_WEB

We happened upon a kids’ area at the end of the Alaska (C) terminal at PDX, and my mom stayed with them while I went to buy snacks and lunch for the boys, and to the bathroom. Then we switched and she went to get a coffee. All this was done leisurely while the boys played happily!

IMG_5038-2_WEB

The next tip was something that I’d thought made sense but recently saw a blog post confirming it–don’t board early. Why on earth would you want your small children confined to a tiny airplane seat for longer than necessary? I let them keep playing after boarding began, and then we were almost the last ones on the plane. The taxi/takeoff happened really quickly after we got settled. It made the whole experience feel a lot more streamlined and efficient. (Of course, we were on a morning flight from a smaller-city airport, and a nonstop to boot. All those effected efficiency, I’m sure.)

IMG_5055_WEB

The boys were very curious boarding the plane and someone pointed them toward the cockpit, where the pilot brought them in and sat them on the pilot seats! We also got some coloring books and crayons from the flight attendant–can’t hurt to ask on your next flight if they have some too!

IMG_5066_WEB

The three of us had a row all to ourselves, which was excellent. No worrying about bothering other people with our stuff and constant moving around. Plus, since the boys’ feet barely reached to the end of the seats, that meant I had three underseat storage areas: one each for my backpack, ‘their’ backpack, and my feet. πŸ™‚

A random amazing thing is Alaska’s outlets at every seat. (I hear that some Delta flights have them too?) Being able to use devices as much as you want and not worrying about running out of juice? I’ve been on enough cross-country/international flights to know how precious that is! Overall, I was very impressed with Alaska. I hadn’t flown them in over a decade (since they don’t really fly to the east coast and I am/was a diehard Jetblue fan), but I will look forward to flying with them again in the future! Our flight attendant was really sweet and cooed at them, and also sat with one while I went to change the other.

On the flight itself, I was overly prepared with snacks and toys. I brought some silly putty and pullback racer cars, the Melissa & Doug Vehicles Reusable Sticker Pad, a Water Wow vehicles coloring book, plus our two iPads and 2 pairs of tiger headphones with a splitter.


The sticker pad was the first thing I pulled out, and they played with it for almost two hours! I wouldn’t expect them to play with it that long again, but since this was their first time seeing something like that, they really liked it. Mainly they just pointed to the sticker they wanted and then stuck it somewhere on their scene page. (I tore them out so they could each hold one, and I held on to the sticker sheets.)

(I didn’t end up taking out the coloring books or the new board books I had in my bag.)

IMG_5094_WEB

We had lunch and snacks, and then for awhile they listened to “songs.” (Which is what they call the kids music we play for them that they love: 52 Sing-A-Long Silly Songs, Children’s Favorites, Volume 1, and Volume 2) I was sitting in between them and I had them lay down with their heads in my lap, and they just zoned out. (And I watched a bit of a movie on the in-flight entertainment.) It was really sweet.

IMG_5100_WEB

At the end of the flight, they played a couple games on the iPad, and watched part of a Daniel Tiger episode. They did *not* sleep. The flight ended two hours after they would have gone down for their nap. And for the most part they were okay, but at the very end, after the seat-belt sign went on, E was really tired and wanted to lay down on his seat. Of course I tried to wrestle him into his seat sitting up..but gave up after ten minutes of shrieking (him) and a backache (me), and just put him on my lap. He calmed down immediately and looked out the window as we descended and landed. Sigh.

IMG_5108_WEB

On the return flight, my husband was there too, so we were evenly matched. Once again we had a row of three, and then the seat across the aisle. I made my husband sit with the boys and I helped out from across the aisle as much as I could.

IMG_5340_WEB

They fell asleep right after takeoff; it was several hours past their normal naptime. They dozed for an hour and then woke up again.

IMG_5341_WEB

The sticker pad wasn’t as interesting this time around, and the magic coloring pages only lasted a few minutes. Silly putty was a total dud. The racer cars provided some fun and interest! So did snacks. We also walked up and down the aisle a couple times, and the boys charmed the flight attendants. We put on 3 episodes of Daniel Tiger to finish up the flight.

So as you can see, overall our flying experience went quite well. What a huge relief. I think their age had a lot to do with it–a year ago they wouldn’t have been able to understand as much or communicate very well, or do as much, activity-wise.

If you have any great tips or favorite toys/activities for flying with little ones, please share in the comments!!

Before and After Baby Tips

What I’m glad I did before babies were born:

Joined the local twins’ club (the classified section was a huge help; we got to shop early at the club consignment sale; we got to meet other new and expectant twin families in town)

Took photos every week to document my belly growth (see them here!)

Shopped at the big consignment sales (got tons of stuff for a fraction of the price!)

Got a new car (originally we thought we’d wait til about a month after they were born. Thankfully we came to our senses!)

Prenatal chiropractor (I could hardly walk for weeks, with this weird back/hip thing causing me to limp like an elderly person. My OB referred me to a prenatal chiropractor–I had no idea that was a thing! But thank god it is! My chiro was so friendly and she FIXED me!)

DSC_7464-1_WEB

 

What I wish I had done before babies were born:

Taken more time off (I only ended up with one real day off. There wasn’t much to do even when I was working, so I should have just let myself relax more.)

Gone swimming like everyone told me to (I didn’t have a swimsuit and I couldn’t shave anything. Dumb excuses that I should have worked through and figured out.)

Bought and worn more/better clothes (I had one nice pair of maternity jeans, plus maternity leggings, and a handful of maternity tops. But especially toward the end, I was in a maternity tshirt and sweats, and looking back, I looked so sloppy. I wish I’d enjoyed some more ‘real’ clothes a little more often.)

Prenatal massage (because duh.)

Did less stuff (I should have slept in more often.)

Done professional maternity photos (I couldn’t afford to do both maternity and newborn…but maybe I could have gotten a package deal. Above is one of my DIY maternity photos.)

Journaled more (Because I have the world’s worst memory, and blog posts don’t tell the whole story.)

Taken more regular photos (and videos!) of me and us, out and about with the belly (I wish I’d done more of my whole self, of the both of us. I did make sure to take a bunch on our cross-country road trip!)

 

What I’m glad I did after babies were born:

Had our first few days be just us (I didn’t want anyone else around while we got to know our new babies. I wanted us to be a family and focus on the four of us. No extra noise, no extra personalities, just us. Later on we had visitors and that was wonderful–made even better because of our just-family time at the beginning.)

Did professional studio photos of babies (They were so very tiny. We had no idea. I knew in theory they would change and grow a lot, but man, it happened so fast! We have a storyboard (three 8×10 images on one print) up in our room and we just treasure it. The babies themselves even like looking at it.)

Bought a new bra, undies, and jeans (This was probably my favorite thing I did. Two months post-partum, I went to Target and got some new, non-maternity jeans that actually fit properly. Same with a new bra and underwear. I knew that none of these would fit for very long, but I had been haaaaating wearing all the ill-fitting, loose and baggy everything. I seriously felt like a new person with clothes that fit my current body! Truly, it was amazing, and the cost wasn’t very prohibitive.)

Bought new socks (Just because all my socks are years old and I decided to just treat myself to brand new ones. Plain white ankle cut, 6 in a pack, nothing fancy at all. But soft new socks are such an inexpensive delight!)

Went out for groceries and Target by myself (I started doing this after the first month or so–I would go late at night, like 10 or 11pm. It was so nice to get in the car by myself, and be invisible, with nothing/nobody else to carry. It was a little melancholy, but it was such a relief too.)

Took a shower regularly (it felt great to be clean (and be off the couch), plus it was a good place to cry in private)

DSC_1616_WEB

What I wish I had done after babies were born:

Eaten more (It probably would have helped take the edge off a bit–physically and emotionally. I wasn’t actively hungry until about a month post-partum. I knew that I should be eating, but with our ridiculous schedule, I just couldn’t work up the energy enough to care, let alone the energy to find something to eat and the time to eat it. I should have done it, or I should have prepared my husband to make me do it.)

Rested more (after the first week or so, I started moving/lifting more because I felt bad about my husband doing everything. I shouldn’t have, and should have stayed more sedentary when it mattered.)

Had a post-partum doula (It was expensive, my husband had paid paternity leave, my mom visited a few times, and my husband’s parents visited for a week. So I/we had help. But it might have been a little different/better to have a third-party helper come in and help us out too.)

Made a list of chores for visitors to help with (Although really, who cared. I certainly didn’t. I thought that I *should* care if the house was a mess. I’m a terrible grown-up that way.)

Called/emailed people who reached out (I didn’t know how; I didn’t know how to articulate what I was feeling. I couldn’t articulate much. I really appreciated the reaching out and I wish that I had just picked up the phone and done something.)

Had my husband take more photos of me and the babies (I have ONE good photo of me with the babies, when they’re about a week old. [Which I had to ask him to take for me.] None from the hospital. I have lots of phone shots, mostly selfies of low-quality shot in the horrible lighting in our living room. I hate asking people to take pictures of me, because it’s annoying. But I always love to have real-camera shots, and I should have just asked more. I would treasure them. There is no such thing as enough good quality photos of a mama and her baby/babies!)

What about you? What are the best things you did or wished you did before and after you had a baby/babies? Please share in the comments!

My best tips for Packing and Moving

First of all–no, we aren’t moving anytime soon. This is completely out of the blue. I was listening to an old Joy the Baker podcast and they were talking about moving and packing. Yet I think I do have some helpful things to share about the packing/moving process. And today marks two years ago that we landed in Portland after our cross-country move from Brooklyn. It seems way longer than two years!

Now–all of my moving experience has been without pets or small children. That is a whole other beast, one that I have no ideas about.

DSC_5074_WEB

1. My best tip about packing and moving is to remember that it sucks. There’s no way to make it easy and beautiful and stress-less. Unless you are very rich and have an extra house you can live in while you pack up another one.

2. Are you over the age of 25? That means that you are a grown-up and it’s time to hire movers. The time and effort it will save you is SO WORTH THE COST. I hired the same company the three times that I moved while we lived in New York (Manor Movers). They were so fast and efficient. Plus they wrap/protect big items that you can’t fit in boxes. It made moving day so EASY. (Relatively speaking. Remember, moving sucks.)

The extra-grown-up option is to hire movers to actually *pack* for you. I hear that this is an excellent option for those with small children or babies. Leave the house for a few hours and come back to boxes all done up? Yes please!

3. I don’t know about you, but the idea of scavenging around town dumpsters looking for assorted grungy boxes makes me all anxious and shuddery. How long will it take to find them? How many stores do you have to go to? What if it’s the wrong day and the boxes are all gone? What if you don’t find enough boxes? What if they’re all too small for your stuff? What if you run out of boxes? NO THANK YOU. Buy yourself a pack of actual, new moving boxes from a site like this. They arrive at your door super fast, they’re new and sturdy, and you don’t have to go DO anything to find them. They have sets that include different, coordinating sizes, depending on how big a space you’re packing. Again, SO completely worth the cost. You can then flatten them on the other end of your move and store them for the next move. (I do this. While in Brooklyn, I kept flattened moving boxes under the bed, under the futon, and behind our dresser. And probably some in one of the closets too.)

4. Buy more boxes than you think you’ll need. If you’re anything like me, you are way underestimating how much crap you have. Even though I saved the boxes from the previous sets, I always needed another set of them! I just accumulate stuff over the years!

5. During the packing process, cull as much crap as you can. We stuffed my car completely full and actually stopped at Goodwill on the way out of the city, with another three big bags of clothes plus a few random things like my old printer and maybe a lamp. Books are a really easy thing to start with–you can always pick out 3-5 books each time to see the bookshelf, and put them aside for the donate pile. (Our Brooklyn apartment building had a little library shelf in the basement laundry room–so we could just drop our pile there.) Be ruthless with your clothes–as you’re taking them off hangers and out of drawers, ask yourself if you have worn it recently and if you reeeaaallly need it.

6. Organization…I remember reading someone’s smart idea about numbering each box and then keeping a master list of what was in each box. I was totally on board with that and did that….for about a day. Then I got lazy and/or forgot.

My strategy is generally just using a big marker (those box sets include a marker) and noting not just the room, but the contents. So instead of just writing “kitchen” on three boxes, for example, label one “plates and dishes”, another one “coffee maker and blender”, another one “mugs,” etc etc. Being specific is your friend on the other end.

Then there is this smart idea: tape that is labeled with room names! 4 Bedroom Labeling Tape I saw another tip recently about using these labels on the boxes, *and* labeling the appropriate doorways and entrances, so that it’s kind of a matching game as the moving truck is being unloaded. Easy peasy for you and for any movers who are working with you.

It’s helpful to put the boxes in the rooms they belong in; that way you’re not overwhelmed with unpacking your entire house worth of sixty boxes in one place! And if there’s an unpacked room that’s stressing you out–just shut the door. The boxes will wait. πŸ™‚

DSC_2716_WEB

7. The Important Box. This is my favorite packing strategy. You probably already know to keep your suitcase/backpack ready with your toiletries and changes of clothes. But what about small things that you really don’t want to lose in a sea of boxes? Put them all together in one Important Box. That box stays with you, it doesn’t go in the moving truck. I put things like my assorted charger cables, my passport, my main notebooks/planner, a book I’m reading, that kind of thing. So that box is a mess, sure, but I can rest easy knowing that the real stuff I need every day (or that I just need to know where it is), is with me all the time, nice and safe.

8. Take pictures. I learned this the hard way: take pictures of your new place before you unpack or unload your stuff, and take pictures of your old place when you’ve packed it all up. This is evidence of the state of your place before and after, in case you need proof of what you did or didn’t damage.

It’s also a nice idea to take a picture of your street, and your house/building from your street. Just to have as a record, just a picture of where you lived, where you built up lots of experiences and memories. Then of course, take a picture of your new street and the front of your new house. It’s kind of exciting to think about what kinds of experiences and memories you’ll have there.

9. The hardest part of packing up is the last 10%. You’ve got all the books, all your clothes, all the furniture, all the towels. But then…there’s this random assortment of other crap. It doesn’t really have a category, and I never know what to do with it. Half of it ends up tossed in on top of unrelated boxes (the top half of book boxes always end up stuffed with random stuff), and the other half has to get thrown into new boxes and labeled “misc”. The dreaded “misc”! Where does it go? Where do you unpack it? Why do you even have it?!

I don’t have any answers or tips or advice for that. (Other than that I know that if I culled better/more and collected less stuff, I’d have less of these leftovers!) If you do, I’d love to hear it.

10. Other moving options: renting plastic bins instead of buying boxes, driving your own stuff in a rented truck, or using a service like PODS. I think the bins idea is really neat, but you’d have to be moving in or to/from locations that have them. We thought about driving a rental truck for awhile. I looked around online and heard about some U-Haul horror stories and saw lots of recommendations for Penske. So I called Penske and made a reservation just in case, and found their service to be fantastic, and the rates very reasonable. We did decide to use PODS instead and drive my car, though, and it was very simple to cancel the reservation. (I was kind of sad to do it, though!)

PODS was overall a good experience for us. However, apparently there is a special city division that I talked to at one point who gave me a clear window for when to have the POD delivered and picked up the same morning–and then on subsequent calls they had no idea what I was talking about. I was like, DUDE, you can’t drop off a 16 foot storage container on a Brooklyn street for a month! Thankfully it all ended up working out, but just be aware of that if you want to use them in a big city.

We waffled on whether to drive a truck, or drive ourselves (since I had a car) and use the POD. Like I said, we went with the POD. The rental truck was way cheaper, but there were additional costs to consider: would have taken a lot of gas money (moving trucks get TERRIBLE gas mileage, versus my little car that got 30mpg on the highway), it would have been harder to drive/park, and maybe harder to take random side trips on the way. Not to mention: we would have either had to ship the car (which was $1000-1500), or tow the car behind the truck…which would have been possible, but a huge pain in the ass for sure. The total cost difference between the two ended up being only about $1000. Which yes, it’s a lot of money, but reducing the hassle and increasing the adventure was worth it.

11. If you can, make it an adventure!

We got to drive across the country! We visited my husband’s family and some of my cousins, saw a number of beautiful national parks, dipped our toes in the Mississippi, and almost broke down on the side of the road under a blazing western Nebraska sun. Adventuring all over the place. πŸ™‚ It was extra special knowing that our babies were ‘with us’ on the inside, and that it would be a long time before we could do an adventure of this level again, so we tried to soak it up as best we could.

However, as exciting and fun as road trips are….they can be REALLY boring at times. Especially on the Midwest, when the entirety of the directions were “Continue West on I-80.” πŸ™‚DSC_5626_WEB

At some point we’re going to have to move again, so I’d love to know your best moving tips to add to this list, so please leave a comment below!

10 Surprising Things I’ve Learned This Year

DSC_7945
(two weeks old, E on left, M on right)
One of the scariest things about being pregnant was not knowing how it would be to actually have a baby, and not knowing how I would deal with the various challenges. Being new at this, I was pretty worried that everything would terrible and horrible and super crazy hard. And some of it *was* terrible and difficult. But some of it hasn’t been so bad–in fact, there has definitely been some good stuff. And I have learned a lot–some practical, and some philosophical.
1. Turns out I love babies.

I never hated babies, but I was never a baby-fever kind of girl. Some people dream for years of being a mom–that wasn’t me. But now that I do have babies of my own–babies are awesome! I can never get enough of them. They’re so tiny and cuddly and sweet! That’s why I am so excited when I find out someone is pregnant–they get a sweet little baby to snuggle! There is NOTHING better than cuddling a tiny baby.

[I now know that there are “baby people” and “non-baby people”, which makes me even more nervous for the toddler/older kid stages, if the baby stage was my favorite.]

2. I can be a lot more patient than I thought.

In general, I’m not a terribly patient person–I hate slow walkers and slow drivers, and other things that seem to take too long. But as it happens, I’m a lot more patient with babies (most of the time). I think it’s because the babies don’t know any better and they can’t help it. They can only cry, and they have zero tolerance for frustration, because they’re like proto-people still. (I am worried about how I’ll be with bigger kids who DO know better.)

Juggling one or two babies is hard. Especially when it’s the middle of the night, again. Or when both babies are crying at the same time. Talking it out loud helps me get out some of the energy and I always hope that something is reaching the babies–at least my voice if not my arms at that moment. Also, when they were smaller, this is when the baby swing or the sling were lifesavers. (Why can’t they make stationary swings for toddlers??)

When I do get overwhelmed, sometimes my husband is around to help or take over if I need a break. And when he’s not, I just try to take a deep breath and try to get through it, remembering that at some point it will be over. Sometimes I panic and feel really annoyed and frustrated–I’m no saint! Sometimes, honestly, I have to just laugh because it’s so ridiculous and there’s nothing to do. I took a video once, when I was home alone with babies, I was pumping and they were on the couch on either side of me, screaming. And we were all just kind of stuck. I couldn’t do much but roll my eyes and shake my head. And then record it for posterity. πŸ™‚

3. Baby farts and burps are funny.

I’m not one of the tomboy girls who thinks it’s funny when grown-ass dudes burp and fart all over the place. However–that same fart ripped from baby butt is somehow hilarious. I guess that means I’m not as grown-up as I thought. πŸ™‚

4. Babies are noisy in general.

I knew that babies cried, and that they most likely would cry a lot, all the time, for no reason. I didn’t know that when they weren’t crying, they still make a lot of noises. Especially while sleeping, our babies made all kinds of sounds–it was like a barnyard! We heard pigs, horses, hyenas, and sometimes an old movie villain.Β  There were also squeaks and peeps and snorts and grunts. At night, these sounds would startle us awake to go check on the babies–who were often still asleep! It also made it hard for me to nap while they napped nearby–too noisy!

5. I can indeed survive on less sleep.

This was honestly one of the things that scared and intimidated me the most about having babies. I love to sleep in (which was never as often as I wanted) and I also love to stay up late, which meant that I rarely got enough sleep. The prospect of being awake all night every night for months on end was a little (a lot) terrifying. The reality wasn’t much better. You’re thrown in to a new situation–a time when you really need as much as rest as you can possibly get. And then you get hardly any. The first couple weeks, we would ‘go to sleep’ after a feeding at like 2am and set an alarm for 4am and good god, it’s like torture. Inhuman.

Things did get a lot better, eventually! (Partly because my husband and I built ourselves a better schedule.) But god, it’s really hard sometimes. (There’s another sleep regression coming soon….help me!) A lot of times, there’s nothing to be done, you just have to get through it. And that *sucks*.Β  If an opportunity for you to nap comes up, TAKE IT, FOR GOD’S SAKE, TAKE THAT NAP.

As an aside, I tend to believe that sleep is necessary for sanity, so I would encourage parents to do whatever they need to do to get more/some rest.

6. New babies are boring.

I mentioned this months ago–but I didn’t realize that since newborns just sleep and eat…they don’t do anything else. Which means that, in many cases, you can’t do anything else. [C-section recovery plus the logistics of lugging two babies and their stuff meant I didn’t do anything or go anywhere at all for at least four weeks. An easier birth/recovery and a single baby means that you can use a carrier to get out and about easier and faster.]

I always figured that since new babies are so overwhelming, it would mean that you’d be busy. And you are, for some parts of the day. But if the baby is sleeping 16-20 hours a day (which is what newborns do, especially pre-term babies, I think), then you have a lot of time to just sit around. In small chunks. However, you’re way too braindead to *do* anything with that time, since you’re not getting any sleep (naps often made me feel more tired and groggy, so I didn’t try to sleep every time the babies slept). This is why you want a Netflix subscription.

7. I do not have those classic attachment issues.

Some people don’t sleep well in the first few months even when they’re able, because they worry about the baby, or they want to constantly check on the baby. I have never had that problem. If I had the chance to sleep, I slept, and I slept hard, thank you very much. Yes of course, I checked my babies’ breathing every night before I went to bed. But once it was bedtime, goodnight ma’am, I’m out. If there was a trusted visitor here for a chunk of time, see ya, I’m taking a nap. (Again, sleep is precious!)

That’s another thing–some people are anxious about other people caring for their babies. I am not one of those people. As long as it was a trusted family member or friend (or a qualified childcare provider), I knew things would be fine. I wanted to sleep, or to go outside by myself for a bit for some air. Possibly it makes me a bad or selfish mama, but I have not had any issues with putting some of my own priorities at the forefront for a few hours and leaving someone else in charge.

8. I am not quick to accept change.

I like to think I’m adaptable and can easily go-with-the-flow. In some ways I can be, but in a lot of ways, I hate change and new things (especially if they aren’t my idea). I tend to gripe and groan, and I definitely tend to hold on to the past. None of this is actually a surprise, just one of my bad qualities that has played a part in this baby-having adventure.

There are plenty of good changes that we’ve had (sleeping more! adapting schedule!), but the sheer amount of change has been startling. *Everything* is always changing! I’m not ready to give up my little babies yet! Not fair!

Ahem. I’m working on taking in the details every day and enjoying things as they are right now. It’s tough sometimes. πŸ™‚

9. There is no such thing as too many photos.

Okay, anyone who knows me knows that I love taking pictures. And that I take too many pictures. In the last thirteen months, I have taken thousands of pictures of my babies. And I still want more.

Most importantly, I desperately want more quality photos of the early days of *me* and my babies. I have a number of dark, crappy iphone selfies and only a handful of photos from my real camera (with the speedlight flash, because it was December and practically always nighttime). Since I’m the photographer in the family, I had to set up the camera and then ask my husband to take a picture. Who wants to do that every other day?

I also really, really wish I had more photos of me interacting with the babies. Most of the ones I do have together are the posed on the couch type, where I’m smiling at the camera. Over the months, I have captured a lot of adorable moments of my husband and a baby or two playing together, just casual snapshots that captures them having fun and loving one another. I have hardly any of me having fun with the babies, because again, since it’s my camera, I have to set up the thing and ask for it to be captured. My husband is always willing to do it, but there’s something about expending the mental energy to ask, and of course losing the spontaneity of the moment. And really, it’s hard when I can visualize the photo I want, but I can’t magically import that vision into someone else’s mind to take it the way I’m thinking, so there goes more time and effort and shots and babies are done now.

However–see point number 8. I need to remind myself that I *do* have some precious photos of me with my babies this past year. And that I can resolve to do better in the future.

But please, learn from me. Take pictures, and then take more pictures. And videos of noises and movements are so especially priceless! Make sure you AND your partner look to capture fun and beautiful moments of both of you and your new snuggly babies. πŸ™‚ (And then print them out. But that’s another post!)

10. Did I mention how awesome baby snuggles are??

 

*

 

Did you learn anything surprising about yourself or about babies in your first year of parenting? I’d love to hear it! And/or–what interesting things have you parents of toddlers learned about the second year of parenting? I know there is SO MUCH still to learn and experience! [But don’t scare me more than I already am! :D]

Acknowledgements and Apologies

I wanted to take a moment away from all-cute-babies-all-the-time to address a few points.

First and foremost, I hope I haven’t offended or irritated or annoyed anyone by being preachy or braggy or something terrible like that. (If it’s my personality that’s annoyed you, well, you might be out of luck. :/)

This having-twins thing is kind of crazy, and it can be difficult. There are a lot of ways that logistically it’s more difficult than having one baby, and I have been guilty of thinking and saying, “Oh man, one baby would be so easy!”

I came across a link to this blog post–Your hard is hard–and felt humbled, and guilty. I want to apologize–whether to you specifically, or to the ether in general. This baby business is not a competition.Β  I must remind myself constantly not to compare my experience or thoughts with others’. I hate to think I may have offended someone. I am so sorry–I would never do that on purpose.

My uncharitable thoughts or thoughtless remarks are really unfair. A new baby is a huge change and adjustment and lifestyle shock to anyone. We happened to have a slightly different kind of lifestyle adjustment than do people who have singleton babies. But that doesn’t take away the difficulty and the shock and exhaustion that all those singleton-baby parents experience. It’s different, but it’s not better or worse. It’s all difficult because it’s all new, and because each baby is different.

In so many ways, I have been so lucky in my experience, and please, I want to make it clear that when I say that, I’m acknowledging that a) it has nothing to do with me or anything I’ve done; b) I have had a lot of support; c) I am grateful and surprised; and d) a lot of mamas have a much harder time than I do.

There are so many people out there whose babies have colic, or sleeping issues, or allergies/sensitivities, or other difficulties. That is so tough! I would have a really hard time dealing with those issues, and I acknowledge and applaud that so many mamas are dealing with them so gracefully–or at least surviving! (Which is really all we can do sometimes, right?)

Multiple babies seem to elicit responses from people like, “Wow, you must have your hands full!” and “I don’t know how you do it!” When in reality, any baby is going to keep his parents’ hands full in one way or another. It seems like all babies have their ups and downs, good and bad aspects, and each of us has to deal with and work through what our own babies present. We don’t know any better and we certainly don’t have a choice.

So, fellow mamas, I applaud you simply for being mamas. For doing your best for your baby or babies, for getting through every day, good or bad. It’s really hard sometimes, isn’t it?

When I post about things we do or have, or systems that we use, it’s just to share or perhaps inspire ideas. It’s not to preach our way as the end-all be-all. I don’t subscribe to any one theory or philosophy of parenting, and even if I did, I would never ever want to preach/force it on anyone else. All I know–all any of us knows–is our own babies and what works best for them and for us. Sharing ideas in a friendly, helpful manner is one of my favorite things about knowing other mamas. So that’s all I’m doing here. And believe me, I am very aware that I don’t know anything! That’s why I categorize some posts as “Non-Expert Advice”, to acknowledge that I’m coming from an extremely limited scope of experience.

I love hearing from other people and reading what other folks (in comments or on blogs) have to say, and I hope to be a helpful and interesting addition to the giant world of baby blogs. And most of all, I hope to be respectful of everyone who stops by. Because no matter how many babies you have, this parenting thing is hard! We all deserve support and encouragement. So please give yourself a virtual hug from me. πŸ™‚ And give your baby a snuggle and don’t forget to give yourself a break every now and then–you deserve it!

Gear for Babies and Twins, Part 3: For the House

All pregnant ladies want to know: What are the must-haves for babies? When expecting twins, that question is a little more daunting, because two babies are more daunting and more complicated! I’ve put together a list of the things that we use and like. Hope it will be helpful to anyone else expecting, no matter how many. πŸ™‚

Previously:

Pregnancy Must Haves

Part 1: For You

Part 2: For the Babies

And now, the exciting conclusion!

Part 3: For the House

This is where the ‘stuff’ starts accumulating. I said in Part 2 that babies themselves don’t need much, and that’s true. Except somehow there is so much of their stuff around the house! And I don’t even think we’ve been excessive!

Anyway, here are the things that have made our lives easier around the house, day-to-day.

In General

Amazon Prime: We order so much on Amazon it’s ridiculous. We also have Prime (from a family member–thank you!!!). It is completely worth it to get free, fast shipping. We’ve gotten diapers, baby gear, and a bunch of stuff on this list, in fact. πŸ™‚ And Costco for baby stuff–the prices on their brand of diapers, formula and wipes cannot be beat. The cheapest formula option on Amazon is $0.80 per ounce–the Costco brand is something like $0.42 per ounce! And of course their prices on most everything else is fantastic.

Bedroom/Living Room

Arm’s Reach Co-Sleeper: This was our babies’ first bed. We had set up a crib in their room a few weeks before they were born, but while we were in the hospital we realized that we would rather have the babies in our bedroom so we wouldn’t have to go as far when they fussed. So the day before we went home, I sent Andy to go buy a co-sleeper (a used one from someone in the multiples club). We didn’t have enough room on either side of our bed, so we set it up at the foot. Plus that way it was equidistant for both of us.

IMG_7134-180

Rock n’ Play:I’ve mentioned before how these are different from other bouncers and how great these are. We switched our babies to sleeping in these when they were a week old, because they needed to be propped up a little after they ate. The incline angle of the Rock N Plays meant that we didn’t have to physically hold them at an angle for 20 minutes after every feeding. Plus they seemed to sleep a little better snuggled up in these as opposed to flat in the co-sleeper.

DSC_7779-216 DSC_0131-1

One week vs four months. So big now! Sob.

Swing: I got a used one at a consignment sale back in October, but we only started using it about a month ago. It’s a fantastic way to calm a baby who won’t otherwise calm down, or when both babies are crying at the same time and you can’t hold both, one can go in the swing.

DSC_0995-1

Boppy Pillow: (2 or more) Duh. You’ve no doubt already heard of these and probably bought at least one. At first I was only going to get one, for some reason. I thought maybe both babies wouldn’t need to be on it at the same time? I don’t know why I thought that. First of all, our babies sat/slept on these on our couch for their first week, because we had nowhere else to put them when we weren’t in our bedroom. Second of all, we use them at all the feedings–two boppies makes double feeding as easy as possible. Sit in the middle of the couch, with one baby+boppy on each side. Use rolled up blankets to prop, and then adjust and burp back and forth. It’s a pain in the ass for sure, but the boppies make it possible, and make it easier.

IMG_8978-2

Plus you can use two to fashion a seat support!

Changing Table: Instead of just open shelves, this one with drawers and laundry hamper is so much more efficient. Plus the stuff isn’t out and visible.

Bed Risers:If the changing table is too short to be comfortable for your back, raise it up a few inches. So cheap and so very worth it.

White Noise Machine and Projector:

A silent room makes little noises really stand out. And babies make a lot of little noises, let alone big ones. πŸ™‚ Background noise is helpful for the babies–when I first turned on the machine, I swear that the babies sighed–and it’s soothing for us too! We use the ocean setting on this machine, and when the babies are still awake at bedtime, we turn on the projector function.

Diaper Champ:Everyone knows about the Diaper Genie, but when I saw how small the bag part is, I was like, two babies are gonna fill that in half a day! Then I found this awesome contraption at a consignment sale. (Ours looks a little different than the picture.) It doesn’t use special trash bags (so it doesn’t cost any more as time goes on) and it holds a lot. And the two babies still fill it up quite fast. (Even faster now that the diapers themselves are bigger.) The only downside is that, even though no part is open to air, it doesn’t contain the smell.

Waterproof Crib Pads:I had never heard of these, but they are awesome. We got several sets (we registered for them) in different sizes. We put the small square ones under the boppies to protect the couch. We put two medium-small ones side by side in the co-sleeper to protect the mattress. We use the full-size ones as a ‘blanket’ on the grass outside.

DSC_1022-1

Kitchen

Soaking tub, and fragrance-free dishsoap: A couple years ago I realized that the strong scents of dish detergents gave me a headache and sometimes left a residue on our dishes that I could smell and taste. We switched to Seventh Generation Free & Clear dish soap and that made such a difference. Once we came home with lots of baby things to wash, I never worried about the dish soap causing an issue. While we were in the hospital, there was aΒ plastic dish tub for soaking bottle parts, and we were able to take it home with us. Good thing, too, because it is in use most hours of every single day. We do have a dishwasher, and our stuff is dishwasher safe–but we use so much feedingΒ  paraphernalia so often that we don’t even bother trying to use the dishwasher. If you have a lot of bottle stuff and only one baby it would probably be easy enough to put some in the dishwasher.

Fragrance-free laundry detergent: Again, I hate strong smells for myself, and figured that babies don’t need that either. Seventh Generation makes a free and clear detergent, and so does Costco. I know there’s a fancy ‘baby detergent’ but eh, no need for that label markup.

Dr. Brown’s Bottles: Once the babies graduated from the tiny (90ml) Snappies bottles, we moved to the Dr Brown’s 4 oz plastic bottles. They feature a vent that allegedly creates a vacuum and reduces or eliminates air intake, therefore reducing gas. And I do think they got less gassy after we made the switch.

Babies can be really particular about bottles–the type they’ll accept and when they’ll accept them. Ours started using bottles at 2 or 3 days old, thank goodness, and have never had a problem. When I was also attempting to nurse here and there in their first 6 weeks, they didn’t have any problems or confusion.

Dr. Brown’s Formula Mixing Pitcher: I’m not even joking, this thing changed our lives. Even at the beginning, when we were only using formula for one set of bottles a day, it was a pain in the ass to measure scoops into tiny bottle openings and then shake shake shake, trying to see past the foam for an actual level. Mixing in the pitcher is fast, super easy, and no foam. You just pour it right out into the bottles, and you can pre-mix a whole day’s worth if/when you need to. SO FAST AND EASY.

Lawn Drying Rack: This is a cute accessory and all, but it’s become more than that for us. For the first few months we put everything on a dishtowel on the counter to dry. Which meant things constantly toppling over, everything in disarray, ugh. The plastic ‘blades’ of grass of this drying rack keep things upright and it’s so much easier to have everything orderly while also drying/being stored. As you can see I like to build a ‘fortress’ of bottles around the edge to contain the small items in the middle. (We recently added a ‘tree’, which is a plastic branch bit thing, to corral some of the bottle nipples.)

IMG_8537

For Going Out

Car Mirrors: for car seats. Makes such a difference to be able to glance back and see if those little faces are awake, asleep, cranky, etc.

Baby Jogger City Select: Ah, the stroller wars! Our first twin friends recommended this one and I think it would win. I’ve never used any other stroller, and I’ve never felt the need to, and even better, I’ll never need to. This stroller has car seat adaptors while the babies are in infant seats, and then once they’re sitting, there are ‘regular’ seats that snap into place. Those can be configured in many different ways, and you can easily just use one seat to make it into a temporarily single stroller. The initial expense is worth it in my opinion, because a) it’s a quality stroller–really easy to maneuver considering its size; and b) this one will last us for around two years. If you’re having twins, you need this stroller. If you live in the NYC area, they come up on craigslist all the time. I was lucky to get one on craigslist here in Portland–they don’t come up often and everyone pounces!

DSC_1509-1

Double Snap-N-Go: Only get this if you don’t have a car seat adaptable stroller yet or if you don’t know what large stroller you’ll be getting. They’re cheap (only buy them used!) but they’re not sturdy and they’re tough to maneuver/navigate. But they’re a lot better than nothing for the first few months!

And there you have it! Phew! We’ve accumulated a lot of stuff for these babies. And now we’re moving into the toys/play equipment age, so at some point down the road I’m sure I’ll do a roundup of that.

Please share your household/miscellaneous must-haves!

Note: These are Amazon affiliate links. I have only featured products we’ve actually used and loved.

Gear for Babies and Twins, Part 2: For Them

All pregnant ladies want to know: What are the must-haves for babies? When expecting twins, that question is a little more daunting, because two babies are more daunting and more complicated! I’ve put together a list of the things that we use and like. Hope it will be helpful to anyone else expecting, no matter how many. πŸ™‚

My list got really long, so I broke it into three parts. I’ll update this post with links to the others once they’re up.

Previously:

Pregnancy Must Haves

Part 1: For You

On to Part 2: For the Babies. We have kept things pretty basic, I think, more focused on survival and real needs instead of fancy extras.

(When you’re ready: Part 3: For the House)

Burp cloths:
Gerber Folding Diapers are by far the best burp cloths. Very absorbent, big, and cheap. Get A LOT of them. Can’t have too many. So get more than you think you’ll need; you’ll use them. (And be careful, there are different types/names but the packages look the same. Flatfold is a big giant square. Then there’s birdseye, and there’s a third name too. You want the thicker prefold ones–I still don’t know which is which.)

81G76GmFllL._SL1500_

Bibs:

You need a lot of them. No, even more than that. Really, A LOT. Two babies + 6-8 feedings per day + spit up tendencies = the need for a large bib (and burp cloth!) supply and frequent laundry. aden + anais muslin bibs are by far the best bibs we have. Also very absorbent and big, but not cheap. They have three snaps on the neck, so they’ll adjust in size as the babies do, meaning they’ll probably last all year, so they’re worth the price. Get as many as you can afford. We have two sets and just got another set. I just recently learned about their extra large burpy bibs too. I can’t believe I hadn’t seen or heard about them before!

81F1zp6lyCL._SL1500_

Diapers:

We liked Pampers Swaddlers the best (and they wore them in the hospital). We’re now using the Costco diapers and they’re working well. The box of 210 diapers lasts us about two weeks now. When they were much littler and pooing all the time, we went through boxes of 200+ in a week or so.

Carrier/sling/wrap:

I know babywearing is a hallmark of attachment parenting, but I think it’s sensible for everyone, regardless of your philosophy. Having two babies means it’s even more important to be able to hold one baby hands-free. So many ways it’s helpful: carry the one who’s being cranky; alternate holding them so they’re off their heads (flat head has got to be more prevalent with twins, who can’t both be carried at the same time all day); put one in to go to sleep; carry one and put the other in the shopping cart; two of you can carry them on walks without dealing with stroller hassle. We used carriers when we took our four-week-olds to the neighborhood holiday party–it meant we could eat and we also didn’t have to worry about other people trying to touch the babies!

If you’re new parents like us, it can’t hurt to try lots of different carriers to figure out which one you and your babies like best and that works best for you. I’ve mentioned large-scale consignment stores and multiple clubs before–carriers are a perfect thing to look for there. We have two Ergos with infant inserts (both of those came from craigslist), a Baby Bjorn (multiples club sale), a Moby wrap (craigslist), and three slings (multiples club sale and classifieds).

The sling we have is no longer being made new, so there’s no website or anything.Β You might be able to find one on ebay or craigslist though. It’s called Kangaroo Korner, and it’s a pouch. Super easy to put on (tying a Moby is a pain!), super quick to get the baby in, and both babies LOVE it. This is our magic bullet for crying babies. It does hurt my back, though I think it’s worth it!Β  Plus they’re so cute with just their head sticking out. Sweet babies.

IMG_8766

The Baby Bjorn is a good one too, once you know how to buckle the thing on (our nanny had to show me! but it’s super simple and fast once you know how it works). Babies stay awake in there much easier than in the sling, so we use that one during the day now to carry a baby for awhile. Plus, a baby can face forward in this one, which I’ve tried once or twice, and I have a feeling both our babies are going to be really into that very soon.

DSC_0979-1

There are lots more options for carriers and wraps, so read up and visit a store where you can try them on. There are also babywearing groups you can join to learn about the different options and that will loan you a wrap or carrier to try out. Bear in mind that all babies are different, and some are very particular about what they do and don’t like. Our babies seem to be pretty easy going and like everything so far.

Nosefrida

Babies get a lot of crap in their noses. It is SO SATISFYING to get stuff out of their tiny noses, but obviously it’s pretty difficult. I read about this snotsucker device on a blog awhile ago and ordered it to help get the gunk out easier. Sure enough, it works and it’s still very satisfying.

Calendula oil

The babies’ legs started getting super dry a few weeks ago. Our nanny mentioned calendula oil as a good skin moisturizer. I got some of the oil but next time I would probably get some calendula-infused lotion, which might be easier to dispense and would make me less oily when applying it. It hasn’t cured the scaliness (I’m wondering if it’s the baby soap that’s drying them out), but it has definitely helped.

Clothes

Some bodysuits. Zip-up footies and snap footies (zips are easier, but the snaps mean faster diaper changes). Swaddling blankets like SwaddleMe, the Miracle Blanket, and HALO SleepSacks.

In Conclusion

If you are going to have twins, keep the ‘stuff’ to a minimum. Babies themselves don’t need much!

 

Continued!

Part 1: For You

Part 3: For the House

Note: These are Amazon affiliate links. I only feature products that we have used and loved.