Thursday, March 31, 2011

The paci thief strikes again...

I haven't been great about taking pictures of the twins lately. Part of this is because they seem to always have bibs on, and I'm tired of having pictures of bibs next to their adorable little faces. They're just so much happier after they eat, so it's sort of a necessary evil at this point I'm afraid.

But, earlier this week, I made an effort to get some pictures of them. Cole woke up first from their afternoon nap, so he got to eat all by himself.


He was "talking" in this picture.


And then Ellen got up, so I decided to be brave and try to position them in their bumbos to see how they did. Here's what happened:
















That girl does not give up. She knows what she wants and goes after it. And she always seems to want Cole's paci.

I've also noticed lately that they seem very interested in the toy that the other one has. No matter what I put in each of their hands, they keep an eye on the toy the other has.

They are so much fun these days. It's so much easier to entertain them, and they seem to even entertain each other a little bit.

One of the best parts of the day, though, is when Cole comes home from work. Both babies totally freak out. It's hilarious. They start screaming (or squealing in Ellen's case!), smiling, and talking like crazy. Of course Cole loves the attention and screams back to keep them going. It's one of the highlights of the day for all of us.

Maybe this weekend we'll dress Cole and Ellen up to get "good" pictures of them. We'll see.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

New Stroller Accessory

My friend Laura over at Grizaland has the same stroller we have - the Baby Jogger City Select. However, I don't think you'd ever know it. Her kid is riding in style with all of the latest accessories, while my kids haven't even gotten to sit in the real seats that came with the stroller! Laura seems to always be in the know with the latest greatest gadgets and gizmos for moms.

And, to top it all off she finds these things at amazing prices at her super-secret discount store. Color me jealous.

Last week, though, I took a small step toward her greatness. I finally got the Baby Jogger Parent Console!

My mom and I got to try it out for the first time while walking in the Rumpshaker 5k (more on that later) this weekend, and I really liked it. It was so nice to have somewhere to put all of my stuff. I had previously been putting my phone in the car seat with whoever was sitting closest to me. Not ideal. The two pockets on the right have a velcro closure which is nice for things you don't want to lose - like keys. Overall, the parent console makes the stroller even more amazing than it already is.

So if you're in the market for a single stroller that turns into a double, the City Select is a great choice in my opinion.

And, just for fun -

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Here's a riddle for you...

What do lint, a pen, a hanger, and a screwdriver have in common?

They were all a part of my domestic handy-woman adventure last night.

As you know, if you've been reading lately, I've been trying to do a better job of keeping our house clean. Or at least presentable. Part of my plan for this is doing at least one load of laundry every day. The best time for me to do this is usually at night while everyone is sleeping. I can get it in the washer, move to the dryer, and fold/hang and put away all at one time without getting sidetracked. This works way better for me than to try to do a load throughout the day. I usually end up forgetting it in the washer when I try that method.

So, anyway, last night I was moving clothes around and noticed that there was lint where the lint trap goes. I stuck my hand down in the hole to get it, but I couldn't get all of it. Being the brilliant and resourceful woman that I am, I decided to get a pen to try to reach the rest of it.

Bad idea.

I dropped the pen. It went down into the big space between the trap and the dryer. It was dark.

At first I couldn't see it (and I even considered running the dryer anyway!) and worried that I would have to get a repairman to come find it. I really, really, really wanted to wake Cole up - it was about midnight at this point - to make him fix it ask him sweetly to help me, but I decided that wasn't the best course of action.

I saw a hanger nearby and unwrapped the top so I could try to sorta scoop the pen out. That wasn't working as well or as quickly as I had hoped, so I moved on.

I decided the only way to get the pen out was to take the lint trap thingy off the dryer. This is where my brilliance really came through. I am not handy at all. Seriously. I don't like to tinker with things. I don't like to fix things. That's why I got married. :) (Ok, I loved him too, but the fixing of things was a big plus.)

But, I pulled out that screwdriver like I knew exactly what I was doing. Right tighty, lefty loosy. See...this isn't hard. I got the two screws out that I thought would be the answer to my little predicament. I was wrong. It didn't budge. Ugh. I couldn't find any other screws I thought might help, so I stopped being handy.

I picked up the hanger again to give it another go. This time I stuck with it for a little longer, and I was able to push the pen up high enough to reach it with my other hand. Whew!

I put the lint trap back in and continued on with my life.

Thank goodness my mom is coming to town tomorrow so I won't have to try to clean again for a bit. It's getting dangerous.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Bottles 101

Before the twins were born my number one concern was bottles. Which bottle should I choose? How can you tell the difference? How many will I need? Do I need a bottle warmer? Do I need a basket for my dishwasher? And on and on and on.

I am not a planner at all (the cribs barely had sheets on them when the babies were born!), but bottles weighed heavily on my mind for some strange reason. I think I really believed that this was the issue that would make or break me as a mother.

And you know what I've found out? It doesn't seem to matter at all.

We have used disposable bottles from the hospital, cheapie Gerber bottles, Dr. Brown's, Tommee Tippee, and Playtex.

Right now Cole uses Tommee Tippee, and Ellen uses Playtex. (She still takes rice cereal in her bottle, and all the tops we have - needed to shake up the formula and rice cereal - fit the Playtex ones and not Tommee Tippee.)

I like them both fine, but the Tommee Tippee ones are easier to clean. It's just the bottle, nipple, and ring. Easy Peasy.

The Playtex ones have the bottle, nipple, ring, a bottom piece, and silicone piece that goes over the bottom. The extra parts allegedly help air escape and cut down on air the baby drinks in. I'm not sure I really believe that, but whatever.

The bottom line is, in my opinion, the type of bottle doesn't really matter. I will say, though, that some babies seem to prefer one type over another. If that's the case, then choose whatever your child seems to like best. My children have never shown a preference. They, especially Cole, take whatever is put into their mouths.

How many bottles to have is something else I struggled with. My advice is to start out with only a couple of whatever kind you choose. If you don't like them or your baby doesn't like them, you haven't invested a lot. Once you decide which brand you will be using, you can get as many as you want. There is no magic number. Some people get enough for two days of feeding. Some get a million. It just depends. I have 6 of each type. This gets me through a day and a half of feedings. I like this because it encourages me to wash bottles every night, but I don't absolutely have to if I really can't or really don't want to. I'll still have two to start the next day with.

Oh, and you definitely need a good bottle brush. I have killed several and have decided that my favorite is the First Years Double Scrubber. It has a sponge on the top and the bottom with bristles in between. It also has a little thingy that flips out of the bottom to clean the nipples. It has by far been my best bottle brush.
The First Years Double Scrubber Bottle Brush


So, there's my take on bottles. As with most motherhood things, finding the right bottle is just trial and error. But don't get stressed that there's a "perfect" or "right" bottle out there for your little one.

For all the moms out there, what kind of bottles do you like best? Did your baby have a preference?

Refreshed

I'm sorry for the week long blog break. I have been in desperate need of some down time. And I got it this past weekend.

I spent the weekend at the beach with my mom, older sister, aunt, and cousins. It was so nice just being with the girls. The beautiful weather, yummy gelato, and hours of uninterrupted sleep didn't hurt either.




I read. I prayed. I thought about something other than feeding schedules and laundry. I was a grown up...but without any responsibilities.



And now I feel like a new person. I can be a better mom. And wife. And friend.


Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Tomorrow is a new day

And thank the Lord for that. I need new mercies in the morning. I need a clean slate.

"The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness." Lamentations 3:22-23

I feel like I've just been going and going lately. Cole was at the office pretty much all weekend, so I didn't even realize it was the weekend. On Monday I was sure it was Thursday. That is sad.

And to top it all off, Cole had to leave for business yesterday and won't be back until tomorrow. The twins have been good - as they always are - but I'm worn out. Little Cole has been a touch whiny, and I just can't take it sometimes. I thought about going to sit out in the front yard in the sunshine and leaving him to whine inside. I didn't, but it was tempting.


His cute little face kept me inside though.

The good news is that I made myself do some more cleaning and organizing last night. I can actually see progress today! I'm hoping to finish up a few more projects tonight so Cole won't recognize the house when he comes home tomorrow. (Ok, it may not be that dramatic, but I can tell a huge difference in how the house feels. It just feels...lighter. Less cluttered. More cared for. I think my mom might even be proud of the state of my house now. That's huge.)


Sunday, March 13, 2011

We are 8 months old!

Ellen and Cole are 8 months old today! I really can't believe how fast time is going. Before I know it, they are going to be a year old and Baby Boy will be here. Yikes!

Ellen got up first from her afternoon nap, so she got to help Big Cole do some work. She even played on her own laptop! (She loves her laptop. We can put her on the floor with it, and she'll press the buttons to make music play and will even kick her feet along with it. It's pretty funny to watch.)







Then right before church we went outside to take a few pictures. I think it was still a little too bright outside, so both of them are squinting in some of the pictures. They were so interested in the cars passing by it was hard to get them to look at the camera.







I'm still getting used to my new camera lens, so these pictures are necessarily the best ever, but I did at least capture the moment. Cole had to work this weekend, so it was hard to get out and practice, but I'm determined to get better at it.

And before I end, an update on Cole - we had him weighed on Friday, and he weighed in at a whopping 13 pounds 15 ounces. So he has gained a pound in about 6 weeks. He's still sitting on the same spot on the growth curve, which is good, but we'd like to see him move up the curve (he's about to fall off!). We've upped his intake of solids, so hopefully that will help. Our next appointment is in about a month, so we'll reassess then.

Hope y'all had a great weekend!

Friday, March 11, 2011

It's a...

We got to see New Baby today, and everything looked great. We are measuring right on track, and all fingers and toes were present.

We also found out that New Baby is a BOY!!

I still can't really believe it. It's weird to know what I'm having this time, and it's also weird that we're having a boy. I had been feeling girl this time.

Needless to say, though, we are thrilled and can't wait to meet the little guy!

Cole is excited to have a little brother, and Ellen is glad she will still be queen. I think she'll be a good queen.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

What we're up to

Since we all know that my kids are the smartest, most advanced 7.5-month-olds around, I thought I'd take some time to tell you what they can do and what they're loving these days.

Ellen is always happy when she wakes up. Even if you get her up out of the deepest sleep, she grins so big when she sees you. She LOVES to talk. She talks pretty much all day long and at times likes to practice her screaming. She's not mad when she does it; I think she just likes to see how loud she can be. She still is very much obsessed with her daddy and laughs at pretty much everything he does.

She really likes baths lately. As I mentioned here, she splashes and smiles while I'm bathing her. She also sometimes tries to eat the rag! I'm hoping to try putting them in bath seats (like this) soon to see how they'll do. I'm ready for bath time to fun for both of them simultaneously. (Now, while I bathe one, the other has to wait. Sometimes this isn't a big deal, and sometimes it results in major meltdowns.)

Ellen is adorable, but she's also a little thief. More times than not, she wants whatever Cole has -especially his paci. She seems to instinctively know when his paci is near, and her eyes lock on it and won't let it out of her sight. Her little face when she has a toy or his paci in her possession is hilarious - so focused, intense, and oblivious to everything else around her.

She likes playing on the play mat and has actually torn down the play mat several times. She will hold on to the rings and won't let go while she rolls around. She can move around on the floor. It's definitely not crawling, but maybe you could call it scooting.

Ellen is still a finicky eater but is getting better. We had a bad episode with carrots and sweet peas which both resulted in lots of gagging and some spit up/throw up. Yuck. Apples are definitely her favorite, but it still takes some work to get her to eat them all.



Cole still wakes up first the vast majority of the time. He is sleeping through the night every single night now. For a while he was waking up every night between 11:30 and 12:30, but he finally stopped that. Sometimes he will wake up at the exact same time several days in a row; it's almost like he has an alarm clock in there. This weekend, he decided that 5 am was a great time to get up and visit. Not cool. He hasn't done it the past few mornings, so hopefully that has passed.

He is hilarious in his jumpy-thing (yes, that's the technical term). He will bounce so hard sometimes I really do think it's going to break or he's going to sling shot out of it! He's gotten very good at pulling his paci out and putting in back in. Sometimes he likes to chew on it sideways or he'll put it back in his mouth upside down. So cute. His laugh is infectious. He likes playing on the play mat still and really likes to roll around.

Bath time is so funny with this little guy. He love, love, loves getting undressed. And has for as long as I can remember. He gets nervous when I put him in the water, though, and holds his breath for second while he gets used to it. When I pour water on him, his whole body tenses up and a big smile comes across his face. It's pretty adorable.

Cole loves to eat. He would eat a gallon of formula if I let him. So far, he has liked every baby food we've tried (peaches, apples, carrots, sweet peas, green beans, to name a few), but he had a bad reaction to sweet potatoes. He ate them just fine, but both nights we tried them he slept poorly and spit up sweet potatoes all over his bed. We haven't tried them in a while but may introduce them again later to see what happens.

Even though he loves to eat, he's still a small guy. In fact, I have to take him to the doctor to get weighed this week since he only gained a pound between his 4-month and 6-month check-ups. The pediatrician wasn't really worried, but she didn't want to wait until 9 months to weigh him again.

I still can't believe they are almost 8 months old. That seems impossible. Some days it just hits me that they're getting so big. They can do so much now and it's making life with them that much richer. Cole and I both love watching them interact now. At night we'll talk about the funny things they did during the day and just laugh. I try to send him pictures during the day every now and then so he can feel like he's here with them too.

We can't wait to add New Baby into the mix and see what kind of trouble they will be able to get in!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Spring Clean Sweep Progress

(This turned out to be a really long post without any pictures of the subject, so I decided to put in random pictures of Ellen and Cole I took Saturday. The lighting was very bad, and they're not the best quality, but the babies were cute.)

I have been a cleaning/organizing fool this weekend.

The party started in my closet (since I'm trying to complete Spring Clean Sweep through Making Lemonade). I took before and after pictures, but you really can't tell a difference since I didn't organize my clothes by article of clothing or anything. I went through and collected all of the random hangers. Then I moved my maternity/bigger clothes to the front since that's what I'm wearing these days. I hung all of my dresses together so I can easily find them. I went through the random bags and purses on the floor and arranged them in a more organized fashion.

Cole hanging out on the floor.


Ellen being ridiculous.

The best part of this exercise was that the cleaning extended into the bedroom. I'll admit that I have a huge clothes problem in our bedroom. I frequently (almost everyday) try something on, decide I don't like it, and leave it on the bed. When nighttime rolls around of course I never feel like hanging it up before curling up in bed, so I usually lay it somewhere carefully so it won't wrinkle or get dirty - which really never works, but I continue to convince myself that it will.

The result is piles of random clothes all over the place - the side of the bed (my side is next to the wall), the dresser, the dresser in the bathroom, etc. It's just not a pretty sight. This is why our bedroom door is always closed and why I would be horrified if anyone saw into our room. But this week, I tackled the piles.

I am actually utilizing the hamper that I labelled the "dry cleaning hamper" months ago and then proceeded to pile stuff on top of it. Cole knows that it's the dry cleaning hamper now too, so we just throw everything in there and can easily grab it when we have time to go by the cleaners.

I washed a ton of clothes. In fact, the hamper was so full I couldn't even move it to the washer and dryer. I had to wait for Cole to come home so he could move it. Shameful. And, this is the biggie, after I washed everything I actually hung it up or folded it! It's a miracle! Granted, I haven't actually put it all away yet (that's coming tomorrow...I promise), but I'm making great strides.

Ellen, the great paci thief, keeps her eye on the prize.


"Got it!"


"See, brother?"


Play time turns ugly.

I then started tackling the random stacks of papers, magazines, mail, and such that live all around our house. The main pile that has been bothering me for a while was in the kitchen. I sorted them all and put like things in manila envelopes until I decide where I ultimately what them to be. And now the pile is gone!

I tried to finish backing up my photos. (I'm convinced, for whatever reason, that my computer is going to crash one day and I will lose all the pictures of Ellen and Cole's first months. I'm not sure I would recover.) Unfortunately, my computer decided to punish me for not believing in it and wouldn't burn any CDs for me. Ugh. I seriously almost threw it across the room and marched to the Apple store to buy the biggest and best thing there. I'm sure Cole would have understood. :) I guess my digital organizing will have to wait. Boo.

Getting ready to go to church. We LOVE our feet!


Even though I don't have pretty pictures of organized bliss, I do feel like I'm on the road there. I even bought this at Target tonight to help contain the clutter in the kitchen. I've decided that only bills and things that need to be acted on will go there. Everything else will have to find its permanent home immediately after coming in the door.

And there you have it - Anna getting organized. Let's see how long this lasts. :)

Saturday, March 5, 2011

New Baby Update

New Baby is growing and growing. I've started to feel a lot of movement in the last couple of weeks, which is fun and weird (even though I've felt it before). So far, I can't tell much of a difference between having one in there compared to two - except I'm pretty sure I'm smaller this time around.

I still can't believe that in a few months we'll have a new little munchkin around the house. We're still getting to know Ellen and Cole and are enjoying the routine we've established. I'm pretty sure New Baby will throw a wrench in that...but it will be a welcomed challenge.

As proof that I haven't really processed New Baby's arrival, we have purchased nothing for New Baby. Not. One. Thing. I just realized tonight that New Baby will probably need a bed, a mattress, etc. Yikes.

And I need to figure out my stroller situation. I've considered keeping my Baby Jogger City Select - which I love! - and wearing New Baby until I figure out what to do. But then I think that may be a bad idea. I've thought about getting a triple stroller (side-by-side) because I think I'll need it, but they're so darn expensive. Like $1000 expensive! And it's incredibly difficult to find a used one. Then I saw this stroller - the Valco Baby Tri Mode Twin stroller with a toddler seat. In this scenario, I would put one of the twins in the toddler seat and the other two kids in the stroller. Ugh...too many decisions! In reality, I probably will get lost in indecision land until New Baby shows up and then just go with my gut.

The most common question I've been asked about New Baby is if we're going to find out the gender. It's difficult when people ask me this and expect a short and sweet "yes" or "no," because it's actually a complicated answer.

The short answer is, "I don't know."

The long answer is that Cole is deciding. He loves, loves, loves to torture me, so he won't tell me what he has decided. He swears that he hasn't made up his mind yet and that it will be a "game time decision." (Read: He won't tell me until we're in the ultrasound room and the tech asks if we want to know.)

I seriously doubt that this is true, because Cole is the kings of making quick decisions. He looks at the situation and within seconds determines what he's going to do. He's just making me sweat.

If it were up to me, I would not find out, even though I'm far more curious about the gender of New Baby than I was with the twins. I think it's because we already have a little family started. I keep trying to imagine New Baby in it, but it's hard to do without knowing who New Baby is.

But keeping it a surprise was so much fun last time. One of the best parts of the day Ellen and Cole were born was when I heard everyone scream in the waiting room after Cole told them we had a girl and a boy. You just can't replicate that. (Please note: I completely understand why many, many people choose to find out. I'm just not a planner, so knowing beforehand isn't important to me. But I don't judge those who find out at all. In my opinion, everyone should do what they want. Neither option is better.)

Our next appointment is Thursday, and I think that's when we'll have our anatomy scan. I'll be sure to tell everyone what Cole decides. It should be fun either way. :)

There's New Baby in a nutshell. Now, I've gotta get back to cleaning up Spit Up Fest 2011. We had carrots tonight, which we've had before, and both Ellen and Cole spit up everywhere. And it's orange. I see myself fighting stains tonight...oh joy.

Practicing with my camera

Today I decided to work on my pictures and try to apply what I learned in my first photography class. Ellen and Cole are always willing subjects - mostly because they don't have a choice! - so after they ate, I started clicking away.

I thought I was shooting in aperture priority mode, but I just realized I was actually shooting in shutter speed priority mode (TV for Canon users). Oops! :) I still like the pictures I was able to get.

Based on what I've been reading and what our instructor said, light is a big factor in good pictures. Natural light is best; the pop-up flash on your camera isn't going to cut it. When not shooting in Auto, the flash won't just pop-up, so you don't have to worry about it getting in your way.

I've also been reading about making sure the light is in your subject's eye. So, I positioned myself right under a window so that Cole and Ellen would look toward the window and get the light in their eyes.





I've also learned a little bit about manual AF point selection. Now, I really didn't know exactly what I was doing, but I wanted to just play around to see what would happen. With manual AF selection (as far as my limited knowledge is concerned) there is a small red dot that appears when you push the shutter release (the button used to take the picture) halfway down. I have read that the dot should be focused on the white part of the eye closest to the nose. (So in the picture below, the red dot appeared in Cole's right eye - as you're looking at the picture - to the left of the iris.)


I think most of the time, photographers focus the dot in the eye closest to the camera (which I tried to do below with Ellen).






I think these pictures are much, much better than the ones I've gotten in the past - partly due to my increased knowledge of how my camera works, and partly due to the time I spent thinking about lighting and such.

Even though these pictures could use a little work in Photoshop or Lightroom, I'm pretty proud of what I got. I tried really hard to capture their eyes - because I just LOVE their eyes - and I think I accomplished that.

Hopefully I'll be able to get more pictures this weekend (maybe even some of them without bibs on!), and I'll be sure to share.