Friday, September 14, 2012

Finding Your Community (Come Join Ours!)

It can be hard to find a community when you don't parent the mainstream way. But try finding like minded friends when you have twins and you are out of luck. And twin mama's who are trying to go against the grain need extra support. I have anyway.

Up until now the options have been

The local Mothers Of Multiples group: Maybe there is someone crunchy there but I am skeptical. I don't want to be labeled as the "hippie mom" and I live in the country so to go is a lot of work. And I don't want to pay for friends (It makes me feel like I am joining a sorority). Maybe I need to go anyway so please tell me if I'm wrong.

The Attachment Parenting Multiples group on Yahoo: Which is nice and I'm glad it's there. It's great for questions and trouble shooting but there is so much more to talk about.

and last but not least there is

The Parenting Multiples forum on Its great for a forum but a little slow at times.

But I have exciting news (drum roll please)

Fellow crunchy twin moms Amanda (of Darling Monsters) and Theresa (of High Heel Wearing, Hippie Mommy) and I have joined forces to bring you a new blog and community. We are also working hard to bring you a nationwide (and hopefully soon worldwide) directory of obgyn's and midwives that fully support natural twin birth. We want all twin mama's to have that option.

So come hang out with us on the Crunchy Twin Moms website and hang out in community over in our Facebook Page. We would love to get to know you and support you on this hard but rewarding journey of raising twins. Please tell your twin mama friends (and of course crunchy singleton moms are welcome too)! The more the merrier.

So if things are a little slow around here for a while you know where to find me. My first post is up on the blog today and I am talking about How To Reduce Your Risk Of Cesarean.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

A (Mostly) Stress Free Road Trip With Young Children

If you've been wondering what's happened to me I'm still around! I haven't died from lack of sleep or gotten carpal tunnel from changing 6 poopy diapers before 10 am yet (and yes that does happen). 

A few weeks ago I got a call from my mom that my grandmother (who has stage four breast cancer) wasn't doing very well. So my husband rearranged his work schedule so we could visit while we still had the chance. He worked six, twelve hour days in a row (as did I) so we could go. I packed mine and the kids clothes, loaded the car, baked banana bread to cheer up a friend, and cleaned the whole house the day we left. I drove into town and picked my husband up from work and he was impressed. He wasn't sure I would make it and fully expected to get himself home and leave the next day. I was maybe a little bit proud of myself.

The key to this little road trip's success was planning. It's a twelve hour trip from our house to my mom's house so we decided to stay at a hotel overnight halfway there. My husband gets off work right around their bedtime. I knew they wouldn't be falling asleep until a bit later than normal so I gave them all snacks and when they finished those I sprayed their feet with Rescue Remedy.

Every time we got in the car on this trip it was either bedtime or naptime for my kids. And every time we got into the car I sprayed their feet with Rescue Remedy to promote relaxation and sleep (and to prevent the screaming/ sleep fighting that all parents dread during a road trip). It had about a 95% success rate for us which was pretty great.

We arrived at our hotel around midnight and had another success in transferring all of them into bed. We like to stay at Holiday Inn Express when we travel with our littles. We get the suite with two queen beds and a pull out couch so there is plenty of (affordable) room . All of the ones I have stayed at have been super clean, have comfortable beds, decent breakfast, and a key component to our plan...a pool. (this is my own opinion and not sponsored by Holiday Inn) Be sure to sign up for their reward program if you stay with them.

The next morning we woke up and took our time. We fed the kids breakfast at the hotel and packed up. The plan was to take the littles swimming (to wear them out) and put them into the car right at naptime (which also happened to be check out time). It worked like a charm... they got in the car after swimming, had a snack, got their feet sprayed with Rescue Remedy and were out.

By the time they woke up it was just about time to feed them dinner. This was the first and only meal we stopped for on the way there. Taking five people out to eat can get pretty pricey (especially if your babies are big eaters like mine are).

We look up places where kids eat free and go there. Eat Out With Kids is a great website & app resource for finding a free or very cheap place to feed your kids. And kids always eat free at Sweet Tomatoes / Soup Plantation (kids 2 & under), CiCi's Pizza (3 & under), Snappy Tomato (under 5), Golden Corral (3 & under), and Shoney's (3 & under). Always call before you show up though to make sure they are still honoring these offers.

From dinner on (they fell asleep maybe an hour before our destination) was our longest period of awake time in the car.

While the kids did watch some TV, I try really hard to limit it. My kids are not used to watching movies in the car so they did not expect it. To prevent melt downs over turning it off we would schedule potty breaks at the time the movie would end. That way when we got back into the car we would start something new.

One of the best substitutes for television (and a huge hit with my kids) are audio stories or books on tape. You can rent books on tape from most libraries for free. You can download audio stories from Story Nory for free. You can buy them from The Story Home for about $.99 each (Although they have a free podcast. While I don't appreciate everything that comes out of Focus on the Family they do have an app (iphone and android) with free Adventures in Odyssey audio stories that we do enjoy.  Story Nory & The Story Home also have paid apps for IPhone.

But hey if you use the TV more power to you. You gotta do what you gotta do to keep your kids happy. We are doing this all over again in a few months so I would love to know any of your travel tips for kids. Feel free to leave them in the comments below... and as always no captcha's or hoops to jump through.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Strawberry Freezer Jam (No Sugar!)

We don't really go through jam a lot. I maybe buy one jar a year. But then strawberries were on sale and I made this. I thought the 6, 8oz jars of jam would last us forever. I even gave some away. And then we flew through it and E expressed remorse that we had given any away.

It's a good bit tangier than regular jam which we love. But if  that's not your thing feel free to add some honey or sugar. Taste it before you add the apple juice/ pectin mix because it's not going to get much sweeter from there. Also with store bought jam chunks are not my thing. I love the chunks in this though. You could always throw the strawberries in the food processor or blender before adding the juice/pectin mixture to avoid so many chunks.

3 lbs strawberries
2 tbs no/low sugar pectin
1 & 3/4 cup no sugar added apple juice
6, 8oz freezer jars

Hull and de-stem (is that a word?) your strawberries. Chop them up and throw them in a bowl.

Every time you throw a few hand fulls of strawberries in a bowl mash them with a potato masher.

Once all of your strawberries are mashed to your desired consistency bring the apple juice and pectin to a strong boil. Let it boil for about a minute.

Pour the hot apple juice / pectin mixture into your mashed strawberries and stir like crazy.

Ladle the jam into the freezer jars.

Keeps up to 3 weeks in the refrigerator or a year in the freezer.

Peanut Butter & Jelly Baked Oatmeal may be one of our favorite uses (you can cut the sugar from the original recipe or add a drizzle of molasses to honey or maple syrup to get that "brown sugar flavor"). I have also added it to plain yogurt (perfect for home made yogurt) to flavor it.

Do you have any favorite uses for jam?

Sunday, August 5, 2012

10 Reasons It's Easier To Breastfeed Twins (than formula feed)

Hello Everyone! Happy World Breastfeeding Week! I wrote about breastfeeding twins and how to be successful at that already. But I often hear comments on how breastfeeding twins must be hard (or even crazy) and I wanted to write up a little post addressing that. At the time this was published I have been breastfeeding my twins for 16 months and 2 weeks. I have been breastfeeding a total of 36 months, 2 weeks.
A little disclosure, this post is to motivate and encourage women who want to breastfeed their twins. I know that breastfeeding is not always easy for everyone. I have been through many challenges with it myself including nipple confusion and having to use galactagogues to up my supply. This post is not to make anyone feel guilty or to place moms who formula feed in a negative light. If that is something that you are sensitive to please skip what is written below. 

I want to tell you something that you may not believe. Breastfeeding twins can actually be easier than formula feeding them. In the very beginning you will have a lot of obstacles but once you get past those breastfeeding is going to make your life so much easier.

Breastfeeding is easier because

  1. You don't have to wash bottles all the time!  In the beginning when F had nipple confusion I was pumping a lot. We dirtied a lot of bottles. I hate doing dishes (especially when I could be holding my babies) so I was so thankful when we were done with bottles.
  2.  You don't have to make formula while your babies are crying. The great thing about breast milk is that it's always ready and always the perfect temperature. Unfortunately twins often have to cry more than a singleton baby would. I'm thankful that mine didn't have to wait while I prepared anything.
  3. You don't have so much stuff to carry whenever you go out. When you go out your diaper bag will be so much lighter without bottles and formula. You don't have to worry about the formula staying cold enough in your bag or going bad. You won't have to find anywhere to stop and make the formula. And you won't have to carry dirty bottles home with you. If you are concerned about breastfeeding in public you can carry a cover with you in your purse. Still easier than all the bottles and formula for two.
  4. Studies show that breastfeeding moms get more sleep !!! I know I would have gotten a lot less sleep if I had to get up all night long to fix bottles. You will get the most sleep if you keep your babies in your room and know how to safely share your bed. It can actually be more dangerous to night feed on the couch or in a chair since many moms fall asleep during those feedings. Read more about how breastfeeding moms get more sleep  and about bed sharing can be safe.
  5. Breastfeeding is good for your mental health. Believe me when I tell you that taking care of twins (much less twins and a toddler!) can take a toll emotionally. Breastfeeding can help that. I know I need all the help I can get. Read more about night time breastfeeding & mental health and how breastfeeding fights depression.
  6. Breastfeeding means less worrying about SIDS. My twins were preemies. Preemies have a higher risk for SIDS. Breastfeeding reduces the risk for SIDS 50% (or dare I say, formula feeding increases risk for SIDS by 50%). Reducing your babies risk for SIDS = more sleep and less stress for you. Read about preemies increased risk for SIDS and how breastfeeding reduces risk for SIDS.
  7. Breastfeeding is free! You save a lot of money breastfeeding twins. According to this calculator it costs between $2,277.00 and $2,376.00 a year estimated on the low side. That does not include bottles and accessories. I don't know about you but I'd rather endure a few extra busy months breastfeeding my twins (which is best for them anyway) and then go on a nice vacation!
  8. Breastfeeding will help keep you out of the doctor's office. If you think daily life is hard with twins just wait until they are both sick! Luckily I've gone 16 months without experiencing that (minus one of my twins catching Roseola, but not passing it on to my other twin. thank you antibodies in my breast milk!). Read about how breastfeeding prevents disease.
  9. Breastfeeding can make it easier to get things done. When my babies were little (and my husband worked the night shift...I saw him about 2 hours a day people. It's a miracle I'm still mostly sane!) I was able to nurse them to sleep. I would position myself in the middle of our bed, propped up with pillows. I would put a pillow on either edge of my bed to act as a bumper. On top of the pillow I would place the baby on that side's pasci and blanket. I nursed them (and read books on the kindle app on my iphone) until they both fell asleep. Sometimes they would roll off themselves but when they didn't I used the "Pantley Pull Out" (which is where you remove your nipple from the baby's mouth while swiftly replacing it with a pasci. from "The No Cry Sleep Solution" by Elizabeth Pantley). One of my babies was a much more sound sleeper so that baby would stay laying on my bed while I moved the other baby to his montessori floor bed (or co-sleeper). I also made my daughter's third birthday cake while nursing babies in my Ergo.
  10. Breastfeeding makes bonding easier. As a mom who had a singleton first I had a lot of guilt when my twins were little. I felt like I didn't get as much one-on-one time with them as I would have a singleton. Breastfeeding helps this a lot with hormones and skin to skin contact. Read more about breastfeeding and bonding.

I didn't even touch on all of the health benefits to mother and baby that breastfeeding provides. Here are 101 Reasons To Breastfeed.

world breastfeeding week blog round-up

be sure to click the image above to see all the posts in the link up

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Margarita Carrot Sticks

I came across this recipe two years ago that claimed to be as addictive as french fries and had to try it out. It's become my all time favorite carrot recipe. I've tested it out on some pretty picky kids and have gotten nothing but approval.(My boys are still a bit too young for these but their sister and cousins gobble them up.) These carrot sticks are perfect for pool side munching... I like to bring along some sweet grapes too. It's the perfect sweet & salty raw food combo.

You will need:
4-6 carrots
a lime or two
course salt to taste (kosher or sea salt)

Peel and cut carrots into sticks.
Squeeze lime over carrot sticks.
Sprinkle with salt and toss.


This recipe is originally from Home Ec 101
If you have not been to Heather's site it is a must see! Home Ec 101 is chock full of recipes, cleaning tips, budgeting advice, and nutrition. You are truly missing out if you don't head over there ASAP.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Starting Solids With My Twins

My daughter Em's first food was home made rice cereal. (You can find the recipe I used here). Why did I feed her that? Well because that's what you're supposed to feed babies right? At least that was what I thought at the time. It's a cultural thing here in the states. It's what we do because it's what we have always done. That's why doctor's recommend it. Not because they have had a lot of nutritional training, sadly most have not. The good thing about rice cereal is that your baby isn't likely to have an allergy to it. The bad news about rice cereal is that there isn't a lot of nutrition in it at all. Sure there are some chemically processed vitamins that are thrown in there, iron being the one everyone seems to be worried about.

If iron is something that you are concerned about then I highly recommend reading Kelly Mom's "Is Iron Supplementation Necessary". Remember that while breast milk is lower in iron than formula, the iron in breast milk is more easily absorbed (50-70% of iron in breast milk is absorbed compared to 3-12% in regular cow milk formula). If your baby is not yet born please consider delayed cord clamping as it will help protect your baby's iron reserves and prevent anemia (as well as a list of other benefits).

There are studies now that suggest iron supplementation (when not needed) could actually cause more problems than prevent. See Food Renegade's "Should You Feed Your Baby Iron Fortified Foods".

I was really pleased when our pediatrician this time around suggested nutrient rich foods to be the twins first. His suggestions were bananas, sweet potatoes, and avocados. I started my boys just like I started my daughter on home made pureed baby foods. I have a little hand grinder that I would just carry around with us and grind up (after she had been introduced to a good variety) whatever we were having. There is really no need to buy jars of baby food. Making your own can be just as convenient not to mention healthier, and money saving.

But after I tried a few purees with my boys I started reading about the Baby Led Weaning style of feeding solids. I am so thankful that I did because it has made feeding them so incredibly easy. Because of baby led weaning I actually have time to eat at meal times and sometimes clean up a bit while they are taking care of themselves. My main fear with this style of feeding was choking but I have found that the boys actually have choked less eating this way than Em did on purees. The worst part of BLW? The mess! But it's worth it and my boys eat so well. Everyone is always so impressed.

If you are a twin mama thinking about starting solids I urge you to read in to Baby Led Weaning. I know for me & my family it has been a huge blessing.

Here is the best article I have read on the baby led weaning style of eating in general. And here is a great blog post by a fellow twin mama on the subject.

The last thing I want to bring up in this post is the importance of delaying solids. One thing that The World Health Organization, UNICEF, The American Academy of Pediatrics, The American Academy of Family Physicians, The Australian National Health and Medical Research Council, and Health Canada all agree on is that babies should not start solids until 6 months. Not before. I'm putting this in bold because there are a lot of pediatricians still encouraging moms to start earlier.. commonly 4-6. But there is a good reason behind this.

"From birth until somewhere between four and six months of age, babies possess what is often referred to as an “open gut.” his means that the spaces between the cells of the small intestines will readily allow intact macromolecules, including whole proteins and pathogens, to pass directly into the bloodstream.This is great for your breastfed baby as it allows beneficial antibodies in breastmilk to pass more directly into baby’s bloodstream, but it also means that large proteins from other foods (which may predispose baby to allergies) and disease-causing pathogens can pass right through, too. During baby’s first 4-6 months, while the gut is still “open,” antibodies (sIgA) from breastmilk coat baby’s digestive tract and provide passive immunity, reducing the likelihood of illness and allergic reactions before gut closure occurs. Baby starts producing these antibodies on his own at around 6 months, and gut closure should have occurred by this time also." 
from Kelly Mom

If you haven't started solids yet please take a look at the entire Kelly Mom article entitled "Why Delay Solids?"

Don't forget "Food before one is just for fun!"

Monday, July 16, 2012

Giving Up The Pasci

Em was not always very into using a pacifier. She only used them for sleeping, but then the boys were born. She started using it more and more. She did amazingly well with the twins being born and changing everything but I still think she just needed the extra comfort those pascis' gave her.

About a year ago she had her first trip to the Build A Bear store. There is one in the hospital here and her brother was in that hospital at the time. So she made one for him then. While she did great making one for him and not herself, of course she really wanted one. So that's when I started telling her that she could make one when she was ready to give up her pasci. This is something we have been talking about for a year now.

Well last week we were at the hospital for a doctor's appointment and I took her in Build A Bear. She picked out a rabbit but she said she was not ready to give up her pasci yet. I said that was fine and we didn't talk about it anymore. Then yesterday she was watching PBS and there was a commercial for Build A Bear. She told me she was ready to go. She was ready to give up her pasci. Then she brought it up again this morning. So after a pasci- free naptime we went.

As much as this was a big step for our daughter it was for my husband and myself. Our little girl is not so little anymore. It was one of her last little pieces of babyhood that she has left. She's three and a half now. She's not a baby, she's a little girl. And I am so proud of the beautiful, amazing person she is and is becoming.

She had a little trouble going to sleep tonight. Up until this point she was very excited about her new rabbit and being done with pascis'. But then she got tired and cried, and asked me to go to the store and buy more tomorrow. She's asleep now. I dragged the chair into her room, rocked her to sleep like I did when she was bitty, and soaked up the remnants of babyhood that she has left.

Here are some photos from our bittersweet day.

We put five pasci's in her bunny. One in each hand, one in each foot, and one where the heart would be. We were certainly not the first family to come through doing this. The Build A Bear workers were great about it.

After building her new friend "Pearly" she rode the merry go round for the first time, and we went out for dinner complete with frozen yogurt. On the way home she was tired and started to get sad about not having her pasci. That's when we saw a rainbow. To me rainbows are a reminder that God loves us and that everything is going to be all right. The rainbow kept her happy until we got home.

She had a little trouble falling asleep and a little trouble with her nap today but she is doing really well with it over all. She keeps telling me how much she likes her rabbit.

Special Thanks to Pink & Green Mama for the great idea! I'm not sure if she is who thought it up as I've heard of a lot of people doing it, but her blog is where I first read about it.

linking up with loving out children tuesday