Monday, April 28, 2014

Jake's Third Birthday

Sniff, sniff. My baby is turning three. His actual birthday is this week, but we had his birthday this past Sunday. It was just family and a couple of close friends, but that was still almost 25 people. Next year Jake will be in preschool and I know it'll be more of his friends versus ours. 

Since Sheriff Callie is big in our house right now we had a cowboy theme. I ordered invites from Tinyprints and as usual, I was very pleased with them. Easy to use, good prices. 

We ate pizza, played a toss the rubber snake in the bucket game I called "Rattlesnake Roundup," and ate cupcakes. A perfect little party for a sweet little fellow. 

I think I might hang up this sign I made in his room. It's too cute to just toss. 

All three of our boys slept hard last night. Mom and dad did too! 

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Friday Photo Drop

This weekend we'll be celebrating Jake's third birthday. It should be a nice day with family and a few close friends. Pizza and cupcakes all around!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The Smithsonian Natural History Museum

Yikes! The Smithsonian announced a while back that they are renovating the National Fossil Hall at the Museum of Natural History starting April 27th. This means that the dinosaurs are going to be gone for the next five years! We knew we had to take a trip in to DC, and since we'll be celebrating Jake's birthday next weekend, we bit the bullet and went in on Easter Sunday. 

I do think Jake was a wee bit overwhelmed, because the crowds were there in full strength. Navigating a stroller around isn't too much fun either, but I'm so glad we went. He couldn't believe dinosaurs were that big!

They had all types of reptiles and mammals too. He was particularly intrigued by a little horse. It was almost the size of Charlie!

Henry just chilling in the City Mini. 

Me and Ian. I took turns wearing the twins when Jake wanted to ride in the stroller. 

We packed a picnic lunch and ate on the Mall. That might have been Jake's favorite part! Hand that kid a PB and honey sandwich and let him play with rocks and he's in heaven. 

I'm trying to get better about taking pictures of us too. I know we'll want to see us down the line. 

It's such a treasure living so close to Washington DC and as the boys get older I can't wait to really start taking advantage of all of the museums and sporting events.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Easter 2014

I hope you had a great Easter! We celebrated a bit differently this year, doing most of our "Easter" stuff on Saturday and headed into DC for Sunday.

Since the boys are so young, it didn't matter that the bunny came to visit us on Saturday morning. 

The twins' baskets were mainly for show, as Jake was expecting them to get baskets too. One item that was in all three baskets was a little wooden egg I got from Groopdealz from Keepsake Toys that had each of their names burned into it. Such a sweet handmade item that I expect will become a permanent Easter decoration around here. 

Ian staring intently at Jake. Big brother is the main attraction most days. 

Jake and Henry surveying the loot. 

Henry holding an egg and a Mr. Potato Head hand (?).

Our neighborhood throws an egg hunt on the Saturday morning before Easter, so we hustled everyone out the door and let Jake hunt. Since the twins are just starting to crawl, we decided to just wear them in our Ergos. 

Daddy and Henry

Mama and Ian.

We lunched with my parents afterwards and it was a nice relaxing Saturday.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Friday Photo Drop

A little from around these parts and a glimpse of a project we have going on in the garage. Happy Friday!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Easter Eggs 2014

This is not Easter Eggs ala Pinterest. These are simple, Paas dyed, almost-three-year-old helping, oops I broke one while getting them out of the pot Easter Eggs. Just the way we like 'em! 

We started by easily hard-boiling the eggs on the stove. Once those were finished, I gave them a couple of hours to chill in the fridge and we had dinner. 

This is one of my favorite traditions, one we've done with Jake every year since he was born. As you can imagine, the year he was 11 months was a real hoot (ha). This has been the best year so far. He really got into the whole process. 

Of course, we had two other helpers too this year. Henry wasn't too impressed.

Ian was just happy to get to stand on the kitchen island.

We're all ready for Easter now!

Meal Planning With Pepperplate

I have found the most fabulous app when it comes to meal planning. It's called Pepperplate and it has completely changed the way that I plan what we eat.

I'm kind of particular in the way that I meal plan. I prefer to make a full calendar of dinner meal for the month and do a big shopping run. Now, this doesn't mean that I only go to the grocery store once a month, but I probably only go around 3 times total. Going to the store with three little boys in tow isn't exactly painless, so I try to do it as least amount as possible. 

Pepperplate is a great app for keeping everything in one place and allows you to make your shopping list as you go too! The first thing you do is import a bunch of recipes from a whole list of supported sites (Martha and Pioneer Woman are two of my favorite). As an alternative, you can hand enter any family favorites that aren't from those websites. While this is a bit time intensive at first, it saves loads of time down the road. You can even sort all of your recipes by categories. 

When you're finished getting the app set up, the easy part is next. I sit down with our family calendar for the month and plug in all of the meals we already know are taken care of. For instance, we might be meeting friends for dinner one night, so I manually input that in the calendar. Once all of those are are the Pepperplate calendar, I start looking at how the rest of our month looks. If I know we have any other special diet needs (ie: meat-free meals on Fridays during Lent) I plan those meals first. 

As I fill up the calendar with meals, I fill up the shopping list right on the app. I use the drop down Add To feature, put the meal in on a date and then get the ingredients onto my list. Once I have a full calendar for the month, I "shop my pantry" for the items on my Pepperplate shopping list. 

The next step isn't necessary, but is like to do it because a lot of times I have a couple of small boys "helping" me hold my list and I don't like to give them my iPhone or iPad. I write all of the items left on my list out onto paper and add any odds and ends that aren't included in these recipes, such as yogurts for lunch or gesso for breakfast. One of the wonderful things about Pepperplate is that you don't have to do that at all. You can even meal plan on an iPad at home and hubby can open the Pepperplate account on his iPhone and boom! - The list is right there for him to shop from after work. 

When it's time to make the meals, this app makes it a snap. Simply open the calendar to the day and press Cook Now. 

There's even a timer available to set. As a bonus, if you're in Cook Now mode the iPad won't go dark on you while you're cooking. 

There's a bit more to how I meal plan, but this is the way that I've implemented Pepperplate into our meal routine. Bon apetite! 

Mmmmmmm, frittata.

** I am in no way affiliated with Pepperplate, I just enjoy their App. **

Friday, April 11, 2014

Friday Photo Drop

Huzzah! We made it through another week. Thank goodness the weather is getting nicer, because these guys love to play outside!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

The Swings

We are very fortunate to have a few nice playgrounds within walking distance. Most afternoons we head up to one of them to let Jake get some energy out and get some fresh air when it's nice outside. I finally put the little guys in the baby swings yesterday. It was a hit!

Henry dangling from the swing. 

I have a feeling Ian might be our daredevil. He loved the swing and he loves when Daddy throws him "up in the sky."

Of course he found a stick..... Such a dude. 

I'm so very glad the weather seems to be turning toward spring (although in this area, sometimes it feels like we jump right to summer.... I'm eyeballing you, 80 degree weather this weekend). Fresh air makes for great sleep for everyone, especially me!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Tandem Nursing Twins

Henry and Ian are over nine months now, and we're coming to the end of our nursing journey together. I nursed Jake for a year, and I'll do the same for them. I thought I would give the low-down on what it's really like to nurse twins because there is definitely a learning curve involved.

When we found out at my eight week sonogram that we were expecting identical twins one of the first thoughts that ran through my mind was, "how will I nurse them?" Jake had horrible Milk/soy protein intolerance (MSPI) and I knew that these babies could too. I cut all milk and soy from my diet when he was about 5 months old and he became a new baby overnight. It was hard, but the only formula that Jake could handle was Elecare, and wow is that stuff expensive! It kills me to pay for something I can make for free too. Fortunately, the twins have been fine with milk and soy.

First and foremost, one of the best things we have done with both births is to find a pediatrician that has Lactation Consultants on staff. This makes it one stop shopping, so to speak, when you have a million doctors appointments in those early weeks. Plus, it makes it easy-peasy for insurance billing.

Our twins were born at 32 weeks and 4 days. I was lucky to have received steroid shots to help with their lungs and so their NICU time was minimal. Henry was in the NICU for two weeks and Ian was in a couple days more. Both boys had tube feeds through their noses at first. I had quite a bit of blood loss after their delivery, which impeded my milk production.

I will say, nursing twins was easier for me than it would have been for a first-time mom. I already knew how to nurse a baby, so the challenge for me was nursing babies in the NICU and tandem nursing.

Me and Ian in the NICU. 

In the NICU I started by nursing each baby separately. Because of my experience nursing Jake, I was able to help both babies learn to latch. I was very fortunate that they didn't have too much trouble learning the suck-swallow-breathe combination that many preemie babies struggle with. I let each of them nurse as long as they could. We supplemented heavily in the NICU because my milk production was pretty much nothing. Severe blood loss doesn't help in that department.

When at home, I pumped every two hours during the day and once from 10pm until 7am. I tried pumping twice overnight but made the call that healing my own body through sleep was in the best interest of my overall, long-term milk production.

Once both boys were home I worked closely with my pediatrician and LC to help make the transition to only breastfeeding. We slowly stopped supplementing and one day I just decided that it would save me oodles of time if I would learn to tandem nurse. So what did I use to help me with the physical act of tandem nursing? I'm glad you asked. Here is my rundown of helpful tandem nursing items.

In general, there are two different spots in my house that I tandem feed. First is my couch. This is where I use the My Brest Friend Twins Plus Feeding Pillow . I put one boy on either side of me on the couch, put on the pillow and then put the boys on one at a time. I latched my lazier nurser and then latched the stronger nurser. Now they're so big they can do it themselves, but in the beginning they required lots of help.

I used my Boppy Pillow when nursing in the glider in the nursery. I stuck with the same glider I used with our first son, so its a glider of normal width. The biggest challenge with this is how to get both boys in the seat with me. I solved this by putting each boy in a Fisher Price Rock 'n Play right in front of the glider. I put the Boppy over my lap and then transfer them on top to nurse.

The final piece of the puzzle for nursing twins is some sort of stretchy bracelet to keep track of which side the babies last nursed on. Especially in the beginning, it is important to change sides for the twins each time (or pretty close to each time) you nurse. There are two reasons for this: one, so that they don't get a flat spot on the side they're nursing on all of the time, and so that they will continue to nurse on either side.

Nursing twins has been so rewarding for me. It's nice to have this special time with the twins and I'm very thankful that it has worked out so well for us.

*there are affiliate links within this post.