Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Quick & Easy Father's Day Gift

In the U.S., Father's Day is always the third Sunday in June.  As I write this, it's Wednesday night, so you still have a couple days before Sunday if you haven't already bought or made something for one or more of those special dads you may have in your life.  (And dads of multiples have really earned their stripes!  I know my husband was changing diapers, feeding, and caring for the twins for an entire weekend by the time they were 3 months old.)  Maybe try making bag-a-lopes!  Yep, bag-a-lopes, envelopes turned into gift bags.  My twin boys and I whipped these up this afternoon.  Earlier in the day (after a dentist appointment, ironically), we bought candy that would both fit in the bags and that we thought Daddy would like.  (At Target, where, for the first time, I allowed them to walk next to me throughout the store, rather than riding in the double cart...but that's another story.)

This craft involves things that you may already have on hand at home:

  • Envelopes, any size or color
  • Stamps and ink pads (or crayons, markers, etc. for your kids to draw on the envelope if you don't have stamps.)
  • Scissors
  • Glue dots, tape, or any other kind of adhesive  
That's it!  You can also add a handle, ribbon, or gift tag if you like.  I got the idea from my cousin who is a Stampin' Up demonstrator.  It looked like something the boys could do, or at least help with, I had everything on hand, and besides, it was fun for the boys to say "bag-a-lope" many times over. And if a 4-year-old can make these (with help!), you can too!

Here's a link to my cousin's video in which she shows step-by-step how to make these envelope-gift bags:  Ink It Up with Jessica TV Episode #30: Bag-a-lopes   

Once you make these, you can fill them with anything you want, candy, gift cards, rolled up pictures that your children draw, Chapstick and travel sized toiletries if he's on the road for work a lot, or anything else you can think of.  We added a greeting card in which I wrote a message and the boys signed their names and drew pictures.  These, along with gifts they made in preschool, are all currently hiding in the laundry room cupboard...    

Happy Father's Day!  

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Groceries Without Leaving Your Car! (And Limited Time Discount Code.)

2015: It's been quite a year!  I realize it's been 10 months since I last wrote on this blog.  Since then we went on an Alaskan cruise with my husband's family, visited my family in Wisconsin for a few weeks, my husband got a promotion that came with much more work and responsibility, we potty-trained our twin boys (daytime, not nighttime yet), the boys started their second year at a Mandarin-English preschool, and we celebrated their 4th birthday.

So, just like all of you, we've been busy!  And busy parents could use some help when it comes to obtaining groceries.  Disclaimer:  I have NOT been paid to write this; all opinions are my own. Just seemed too good not to share!   That said, let's talk about how Walmart will do your aisle-walking for you, bring the groceries out to your car, put them in your trunk, and all you have to do is sit there!  And pay.  You do have to pay.  (See below for info on a limited time discount code.)  I just found out about this service from friends in my MOPS group.  Here's how you do it:

  • Go to the Walmart Grocery website, and register.
  • If it's available in your area, you pick the store where you'd like to get the food, and pick the date and time (a two hour window) for pickup.   
  • Shop online for your items.  
  • Pay with a credit or debit card online.  
  • Check your email for a confirmation, and a map of where by the store you'll need to park.
  • The store will call you when the order is assembled.  You can pick it up then, or wait until the time slot you chose (they are just finished early sometimes.)
  • Call the store 10 minutes before you'll arrive, and then you'll need to call again once you park in the designated pickup spots.  
  • Sign for your groceries through the window of your driver's seat. 
  • Open the trunk.  They load.  
  • You go home!
I tried it for the first time today, with my kids in the backseat.  They got to listen to Christmas music and look at library books, and I got to have my trunk loaded with groceries.  I made the order the night before, while watching TV with my husband, something I was going to be sitting on the couch for, anyway!  

We don't always shop at Walmart, since they don't have everything I want, but I will say for some basics it was great.  They have also expanded their organic offerings, which you can read about in this article.  For organic dairy and packaged items, it's pretty good, though I will say I'd like to see them offer more organic produce.  The pickings for fruit and vegetables is slim.  But since Walmart is so affordable, I got the whole trunk, most of which were organic items, for just $66.  Partly that's because of a code my friend shared with me to get $20 off.  

Here are details about the code:  Expires January 15, 2016.  The code is GIFTED20 and they will take $20 off an order over $80!  

Do you know of any other stores that offer similar services?  Share in the comments below!  

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

What Do Your Kids Eat For Breakfast?

Recently, I was fascinated by this New York Times article depicting breakfasts children eat around the world.  Inspired by the article, I started taking photos of what my twin three-year-old sons eat for breakfast.  I don't do anything fancy, and rely heavily on frozen foods to simplify the morning routine (though I try to use healthy, organic options as much as possible).  I usually only make pancakes or French toast from scratch if we have nowhere to be in a hurry.  My pattern for the meal tends to be: 1.) Grain-based item, 2.) Fruit, and 3.) Protein.  This isn't based on any extensive nutritional research, just the mode we've fallen into that satisfies the boys and keeps them full until morning snack. 

While I've photographed a few of their meals in their entirety, I often serve the fruit first, to make sure they eat it, with promises of the next "course," or item, if they finish ;)  

Blueberries, cheddar cheese, Earth's Best French Toast Sticks sprinkled with cinnamon. 

Apple slices and a cha siu bao (a Cantonese barbecued-pork-filled steamed bun).

Strawberries, Applegate Naturals Chicken and Maple sausage, and Trader Joe's Organic Silver Dollar Pancakes.

Pear slices, Applegate Natural's Turkey and Sage sausage, and Earth's Best Organic Mini Waffles with strawberry jam.

When the boys wake up I give them juice as well.  Usually it's organic apple juice, just a few ounces, that I pour into sippy cups along with 1 teaspoon of elderberry syrup and topped up with water.  We eat breakfast about an hour after they wake up, so then they usually have milk with the meal.

A few other things we tend to have at breakfast that didn't get photographed:
  • Trader Joe's Multi-Grain Toaster Waffles
  • De Wafelbakkers Sweet Potato Cinnamon Whole Grain Spelt Pancakes (Freezer section of some grocery stores.)
  • Raspberries
  • Bananas
  • Applesauce
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Any other flavor of Applegate Naturals breakfast sausages and patties (Freezer section of some grocery stores, including Target.)
  • Any other type of cheese
  • Yogurt
They love bacon but we rarely have it, and sadly, they don't seem to like eggs :(  

What do your kids eat for breakfast?  I'd love to hear your ideas!

Monday, December 29, 2014

Use Up Those Christmas Cards!

This post may contain affiliate links.  Thanks for your support!  

Every year I struggle to find a way to display the Christmas cards we receive.  We used to use magnets to put them on the refrigerator.  When we ran out of magnets, we used tape.  Then we had kids and anything put on the fridge wouldn't stay, of course!  Then we moved and the fridge in our new home wasn't magnetic, so we put cards on the mantel...again, running out of room in that spot.  So, this year, I took to Pinterest and set up the cards this way:

I wrapped long lengths of ribbon partly around some doors that lead into our kitchen, securing in the back with masking tape (which ended up not being strong enough, so I used duct tape over it).  Then I stapled the cards to the ribbons as they arrived, placing ones with pictures of people we know really well more near the eye-level of my three-year-old twin sons.

Near the top of the door I tied ribbons in contrasting color for a present effect.   It worked out well enough, and I saved the ribbons in case we do it again next year.

But what to do with all the Christmas cards?

Many months ago, I made "prayer sticks" for my sons to use at bedtime.  Our prayer routine had gotten a little stale, so, once again inspired by ideas on Pinterest, I cut out pictures of friends and family, and glued them to jumbo-sized craft sticks.


I just used Elmer's Glue, but I'm considering going over the photo portions with Modge Podge or shellac later on to make them last longer.  I wrote the names with a Sharpie.  When our sons pray for someone at night, they can hold the stick, look at the picture, and it generally makes the experience more tangible and less abstract for them.  

We bunch all the sticks into an unused plastic cup, and at bedtime each boy gets to pick one stick, and they pray for that person (with our help).  You actually end up going through sticks quite quickly this way, so we were in need of more.  Enter Christmas cards!  While the boys had their allotted "TV time" this morning, I dismantled the card display, and in the afternoon while they took a quick nap, I cut up the cards, glued and labeled.  Cards without pictures, with pictures that don't fit, or for people the boys don't really know, were recycled.  (Though I did keep a few that had encouraging, hand-written sentiments for myself.) 

Another idea for your Christmas cards is to put them in photo albums for your babies, young toddlers, and even preschoolers to look at.  Even older children and adults might enjoy perusing through old cards in album form!  See an older post of mine on Photo Books for Babies and Toddlers.

What do you do with your old Christmas cards? 

Friday, November 21, 2014

What I Believe

For those who are curious, I'd like to share my own personal, spiritual beliefs.  I hope that no matter what I believe and what you believe, that you can still find useful information and encouragement in the pages of this blog.  But I'm sharing so that others may find hope, if they need it, and because my beliefs do, so often, affect my parenting decisions, and are my source of strength on those days when I want to just lay down in the middle of the Duplos.  (Though I have been known to do that.) 

On a primary level...

I believe God exists, He created the world we live in, He created us, loves us, and is involved in our lives.
I believe humans are flawed.  No one is perfect.  But God is perfect.  Since He loves us, He provided a way for us to be together, a bridge between the flawed and perfection.
I believe that bridge is Jesus Christ.  Fully God, fully man, Jesus lived a perfect life. 
I believe Christ's death on the cross offered up that perfect life as a sacrifice for all of humanity's sins, so that we need not suffer permanent consequences for those sins.
I believe that three days after his death, Jesus Christ rose from the dead and is alive now.
I believe that Christ's resurrection means that sin does not win, death does not win, and God is all-powerful.

"For God so loved the world, that he sent his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life."  John 3:16

On a secondary level...

I believe parenting is hard.
I believe parenting multiples can be harder, easier, worse, and better than parenting any other grouping of children one might have.  Depends on the day. 
I believe we are all doing the best we can.
I believe we should share what we know and encourage one another in this hard, and worthy, work.

"All who would win joy, must share it; happiness was born a twin."  -Lord Byron

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

A Brief Bio

I grew up in Wisconsin.  It's a beautiful place...

I  moved to Texas to attend the University of Texas at Austin.  After college I met my husband at church.  While dating, he took a job in California, and after we married I moved out to our first apartment together in Pasadena.

I taught kindergarten in Austin for 3 years, and in Los Angeles for 3 years.  Another job change for my husband took us back to Texas, and after a year in Houston, we settled down again in the Dallas area.  It’s in my DNA to have low energy, and I’m definitely not a morning person.  Then I had twins.  

It was a total shock.  And it’s been shocking ever since.  This blog is my attempt to help other parents of twins, or even parents of singletons, with advice and encouragement.  We all need it!

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Twin Z Nursing Pillow

Immediate disclaimer:  I've never used the Twin Z Pillow!  Also, I don't benefit monetarily from suggesting this particular product.  However, I know how important a good nursing pillow can be, so I've done some research on the Twin Z (and mentioned it previously in my post More Tips For Feeding Two Babies.)  I do know some other twin mommas who've used it.  If you're trying to figure out what, if any, nursing pillow to use with your babies, maybe the information I've found can help you make your decision.  (I had the My Brest Friend double nursing pillow, and did have some issues with it, though I know other women who loved it.)   

Image courtesy of Twin Z Company

According to the company that sells them, the Twin Z Pillow has 6 uses:
  1. Breastfeeding and bottle feeding
  2. Tummy time
  3. Support for mom or babies
  4. Propping infants with reflux
  5. Pregnancy pillow
  6. Toddler pillow 
Twin Z Pillow has provided the following pictures to demonstrate how the pillow can be used.  As you can see, nursing and bottle feeding can be done for both babies at once while still supporting your back, and without having to juggle a separate pillow behind you.  This is really important, after a C-section, and for long term back health.  The pillow is roughly shaped like the number 3, so you would pull up on the middle section to create your back support.  Later on, the pillow can be used as a tummy time prop, and as a prop while babies learn to sit on their own.  Also, infants with reflux can lay on it while still being slightly elevated.

Image courtesy of Twin Z Company

Image courtesy of Twin Z Company

Below is a link to a video showing how to use this pillow, courtesy of Twin Z Company:

The Twin Z pillow can also be used during pregnancy.  As you can see in the first picture below, the element I wish I had had in a pillow while expecting is the middle portion: even though my belly got quite large, it grow outward, and when I laid on my side I felt the uncomfortable pressure as the baby bump was pulled down by gravity.  I always had to use a small, flatter pillow to slightly prop up the bump even when side-lying.  And in the second photo you can see how comfy and handy the pillow would be during bed rest, or any other time!

Image courtesy of Twin Z Company

Image courtesy of Twin Z Company

A friend of mine who used the pillow from day one, and loved it, was kind enough to share pictures of her twin daughters using it.  Look at these Valentine's Day cuties!  With or without a blanket draped over it, the pillow can be used as a comfy spot to lay the babies even when not feeding.  In the second photo, the girls are a little older, and then the pillow becomes a handy tummy time device.  Now they are 10 months old, and their mother says they still use it every day to lay on, eat on, or climb on!    

Please leave a comment if you've used this product!