Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Making the Most of Your CSA or Co-op

In the last few months we finally joined a co-op. It's been something I've wanted to do for a while but it was difficult to find one that we could pick up on my husband's day off (we only have one car). But anyway it's finally happened. I can not tell you how fabulous it is having a refrigerator full of extremely fresh organic veggies. Every other week when we pick up it's almost a little like Christmas. Our menu is scheduled entirely around what we receive. We've been eating a lot healthier and I've been learning to cook things I otherwise wouldn't have learned.

I thought I would share a few things that I have been doing to make our order go just a bit further. 

I already use vinegar to clean with. In my recycled veggie wash spray bottle, I combine 1 part vinegar to 1 part water with a tiny squirt of dish-washing liquid (which is completely optional). 

Now I fill a jar with all of our citrus peels, cover in white vinegar, and set it in the cabinet until I need to make a new batch. My cleaning solution has a nice citrus smell thanks to our co-op left overs. Last time I made a mixture of grapefruit and orange. But any citrus will work. I only recommend doing this if the fruit you are using is organic. Because who wants to clean with pesticides? Not me. Otherwise I wouldn't bother making this scented in the first place.

Next time we get some citrus in our box I would like to try The SimpleSolution Mom's Homemade Essential Oils.

Another thing I do is make my own veggie broth. I throw all of my well washed scraps and peels into a gallon sized zip lock bag in the freezer. It's so simple really. Just save them up until you have enough to make a batch. Then you can either can or freeze it until you are ready to use.

The recipe is very simple: Throw in a big pot, cover with water, cook for a long time (5-9 hrs), strain, and store. (you can easily freeze broth but since my husband got into canning that is what we've been doing with it.) You can add any seasonings you like.

I also try to remember to make a list of the fresh veggies I have in my cozi app. (Although anywhere will do.) That way I don't forget what's in the fridge ,because if I forget it might rot. I use this list to plan our meals too. I don't always remember to do it but when I do it helps a lot.

You can also regrow some of the veg you get. A few years ago I saw on Food Network that you could regrow green onions and have been doing it off and on since then. Just put a few rocks in the bottom of a glass, water just covering the rocks, and your green onions. Set it in your kitchen window and you will have new green onions in a week or less. If it's cold out your onions may freeze. You will know this because the onions will get a clear gel in the middle. If that happens just chuck them out and start over.

Other veggies that you can regrow are garlic, onions, potatoes, and celery just to name a few.

You can find a CSA or Co-op (and local dairy & eggs) near you at Local Harvest

And you can read about how to store your veg plastic free  here

(picking up our milk...we get our eggs from my mother in law's chickens)

I'm linking up to the Hearth & Soul Blog Hop over at Penniless Parenting this week

Monday, June 11, 2012

Breastfeeding Twins

I have to be honest with you. When I read that this week's Monday Mother's of Multiples topic was "Feeding & Schedules" I was underwhelmed. I don't believe in schedules...routines, yes, but schedules no. As a breastfeeding mom scheduling feeds can really screw up your supply and with twins that may already be a concern. It also ignores growth spurts and developmental leaps. So if you are planning on breastfeeding your twins steer clear of the scheduling booby trap! Trade that mindset out for a more laid back routine .

That being said my twins did spend time in the NICU and the NICU did have them on a schedule. They came home programmed to eat every three hours, which I did stick with for the first few weeks. When we were finally all home from the hospital F had nipple confusion. So with the "feed F with a bottle, nurse D, then pump for F's next bottle" routine I had going on, every three hours even felt like pushing it. Once I was finally able to get F breastfeeding well, and gaining, it was much easier to get off schedule into more of an on demand lifestyle (which is what is best for building & maintaining milk supply).

But let's start at the beginning. Forget schedules, let's talk about breastfeeding twins. It's possible! It may be a lot of work at the beginning but defiitely worth it. I could write an entire blog post about how
"worth it" it is to breastfeed twins  but for today lets just stick to the how....

It all starts before your baby is born. It's a fight you choose to fight. It's not easy and there will be booby-traps. (I didn't make that up...they do call it that...I'm not that cheesy.)

and Part 2

The first thing that I recommend that you do is get a book on breastfeeding and read it cover to cover. I read The La Leche League's Womanly Art Of Breastfeeding . Study up as much as you possibly can...this will give you the best possible chance at a successful breastfeeding relationship. Then find a LLL group near you and go to a meeting... or if you are not that mobile, connect with the leader...either through email or phone, so she knows who you are and can help you if it comes to that.

Be sure to have all of your supplies together and ready to go. I recommend a nursing pillow, nipple cream (mother love makes the best!), some nursing tanks, nursing pads (I never needed these but a lot of women do...better to have a few ready just in case), fenugreek, and mother's milk tea. Also a breastpump can be handy but not always a necessity. If you don't plan on buying one at least have one picked out and set aside some money for it just in case.

The best thing that you can do is to nurse your babies within the first hour that they are born. Unfortunately I was not allowed to nurse or hold my babies until the next day even though there were no real problems. So I pumped like crazy and started taking my fenugreek and drinking my mother's milk tea to get started. I was very lucky that my NICU had donor breastmilk so we used that until my milk came in. (Colostrum is actually the best thing for newborn babies to have but our NICU would not allow just that.)

I actually had a horrible time with our NICU. I ended up bottle feeding them both (pumped breastmilk) just so we could get out of there. I was terrified of nipple confusion from the bottles and it did happen. But I decided that I would rather deal with nipple confusion at home than convincing the nurses that I could breastfeed them both in the NICU. Also my lactation consultant was very unhelpful... so don't go into the hospital thinking that you can rely totally on their LLC's. Some may be great but many are sub par.

As for tandem nursing it took us a while to get to that. F had nipple confusion so he took extra effort to get to nurse. But even when tandem worked for us sometimes I would choose to take turns nursing just because I liked doing it that way better. So just know that you don't have to tandem nurse...you do what you like best and what is best for you.

The last thing that I am going to touch on is percentiles and pediatricians. All of my babies (even my singleton) have been small and grow more slowly. This worries pediatricians (especially one's using outdated or formula fed percentile charts) and they may pressure you to supplement. Supplementing can be really detrimental so use your best judgement. (Our ped asked us to supplement, I took the samples & left, and never did it. I don't tell our ped everything. Most of them have very little training when it comes to nutrition. When we came back for our next appointment he was pleased with their weights. He probably thought I supplemented.)

Anyway here are some articles to help you through that situation if it ever becomes a problem:

La Leche League Healthy and Petite

I wanted to leave you guys with some good resources to do your breastfeeding research. Supprisingly there are a lot of video's on YouTube that show tandem nursing. Here is one of them but look around because there are more. I wish I had known about this before my boys were born.


Here are some articles on how sleep schedules (especially Baby Wise) are  linked to dehydration, failure to thrive, and premature weaning.

General Breastfeeding Twins Info

and a whole website dedicated to it


and this fabulous post on breastfeeding in general
Timeline of a Breastfed Baby

Good Luck and please let me know if there is anything I can help you with or questions you would like answered. I have been successfully breastfeeding my twins for almost 15 months now. If I can do it so can you!

I almost forgot! Linking up with the for MOMs by MOMs on feeding & schedules

Monday, June 4, 2012

Bringing Siblings into the Family

I remember when Em was born, and we brought her home. I think bringing your first born home (or if you are lucky, birthing them in your home) is so different from your second, or second and third. You know more what you are doing and what to expect. My biggest concern with the twins being born was how it was going to effect Em and how we were going to make it work. So I made a lot of preparations for blending the twins into our family and that's what I really want to talk about. (Em was 27 mos when the boys were born.)

Throughout my pregnancy Em and I talked a lot. We talked about having brothers, and what babies need, and talked about things that would happen when the babies arrived. I read the books  "Beyond Sibling Rivalry" by Peter Goldenthal and "Siblings Without Rivalry" by Adele Fabler and I feel like they helped me to prepare. I also always referred to them as her brothers. Even still she calls them "her babies".

I also bought a gift for the boys to give her when they were born. It was just a little wooden dollhouse that I found on clearance at Walmart but it was a really big deal to her. It also gave her something new and exciting to do since the boys required so much of my time...time that she was used to getting. She still, 14 months later, thanks her brothers for her doll house. It's really sweet.

When the boys came home from the hospital all they did was pretty much eat and sleep...as new babies do.

Sleep can be tricky when you have three little ones. When you have a new baby you can nap when baby is napping but with three that's not always the case. The most helpful thing for getting everyone sleeping and napping around the same time has been swaddling. The twins napped off and on throughout the day but at night, and when Em napped I would swaddle them. (I love the miracle blanket) That is what got them used to our little schedule. Of course everyone is individuals and everyone gets tired at different times, or sleeps different amounts of times but this at least gets you set up with everyone sleeping CLOSE to the same times.

Another important tip regarding sleep would be to make a big deal out of when your babies are sleeping and your toddler is not. It's hard at first because toddlers don't always quite understand about not waking babies. They may even want to wake the babies to act out because they are having a hard time learning to share you. This was incredibly frustrating at first. But for a long time whenever I would finally get both boys down I would exclaim "It's Mommy & Em time!" and make sure I did something with me and her. Sometimes that meant we read books or played with her toys together and other times that meant that I would snuggle up with her on the couch, turn on PBS, and drift in and out of consciousnesses. I'm certainly not telling you this because I am proud of it! Just being real.  And I always made sure to tell her that we had to be careful not to wake the babies or we would have to stop whatever fun thing we were doing.

Getting everyone and yourself sleeping is tricky but getting everyone fed is a lot of work too.

When we first came home from the hospital after my twins had a few weeks stay in the NICU, F had a lot of issues with nipple confusion. This meant that I was constantly concerned with feeding. I felt like all I did was give F his bottle, then breastfeed D, then pump for F's next bottle, then start all over again. It took up ALL MY TIME until I was finally able to get F off of bottles around 6 weeks.

If you know me, you know I'm not big on filling my house full of toys. But that being said I highly highly recommend making some busy bags or quiet time bins to be pulled out during nursing to entertain your toddler. Switch them out often so there is always something new and exciting to do. You can also keep a small basket of books in each room so that you can always read to your toddler during nursing sessions too. And then there is my secret weapon & last resort (Barnes and Noble's Online Story Time). Thank you Eric Carle for reading to my toddler when I just cant muster it!

And last but not least if you can, prepare yourself  emotionally. For me the first year has been a time of extreme sacrifice. I think that it can be with just one new baby but with two new babies and a toddler it gets pretty crazy.

I know I've had unique circumstances. My husband was working 12 hour night shifts and then coming home and sleeping (I was only seeing him for 2 hours a day for a large portion of the first year...not including weekends thankfully.) And then we live so far away from my family and friends and his family, although close by can not be much help.

Even with a lot of help I know it has to be hard. So prepare yourself for not a lot of sleep, a messy house, not enough time to really cook, not enough me time, and at the same time an amazing- life changing experience. It goes by crazy fast... the days will creep by sometimes but the months will fly. Things change a lot after that first hard year and it does it easier!

I'm linking up with Mother's of Multiples Mondays