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Saturday, October 30, 2010

Snapshots of Cute Stuff 10/30/2010

While I still don't have a photo of Linus taking steps, I did manage to take one of them both standing almost independently.



Ta da! Our very first Halloween costumes! Veda is a bunny, and Linus is a lion... Lionus, if you will.





My costume is... it's a black shirt. That's my costume this year.


With my mom in town, we went to a Halloween celebration today. It was all a bit much, so here's Linus passed out in the carrier with Nana.


The end.

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Thursday, October 28, 2010

A Typical Day

Here's a "typical" day for us at nine months. Of course, every mom knows that this day doesn't exist, but it's the plan for where we're going and what we're doing when we wake up. When the punches come, we roll with 'em,

7:00 - Wake, breastfeed

After we eat, the babies play on the floor and then in the jumperoos while I eat breakfast and do a little laundry or maybe load a few dishes in the dishwasher. When I've got the laundry going, we read a couple of books, play pat-a-cake, and maybe sing Itsy Bitsy a few times. Stuff like that.

9:00 - Breakfast for the babies, then down for the morning nap

Once they're down, I scramble to get as much housework done as possible. I have a cleaning schedule that I follow, which I'll post later. I find that if I don't have a schedule, I focus too much on a few areas and neglect others.

11:00 - Awake by now, breastfeed

We either repeat the playing on the floor routine or if I wasn't able to shower the night before, I do so at this point with them in bouncies and me playing peekaboo with them to buy some time. There's more reading of books, some verses of the ABC song. You get the idea. Also, I scarf down lunch somewhere in here.

1:00 - Baby lunch and down for afternoon nap

Again, the housework scramble. If I get finished, which is rare, I start on the day's blog post.

3:00 - Awake by now, breastfeed

After we do all of diaper business and get packed up, we head out to either the park or on errands. By this point in the day we're all bored with the playing in the floor business, so getting outside is fantastic. We swing, we crawl around on the grass, we people watch.

5:30 - We've made it back to the house by this point, and I make dinner for the babies. After they eat, I get them set up with a DVD - usually Signing Time. While they're enthralled with the friendly lady who moves her hands (and she even has colorful tape on her fingers!) and sings songs, I make dinner. Ray comes home, and we throw some food down while trying to tame fussiness and pulling Linus away from the fireplace. Little pyro, that boy.

7:00 - By this time, both babies are in some stage of a meltdown. This probably means that they'd like to have an earlier bedtime, but that would mean not seeing Daddy, and that's not an option. I take the fussiest baby up for a bath while Ray has some one-on-one time with the other baby. Then we trade, give babies supplements, and brush their teeth. With twins, bathtime MUST be an exercise in teamwork. There's no other option. By now it's between 7:30-7:45, and I nurse them down for the night. Linus stays down. Veda doesn't (see She Who Does Not Sleep).

And even after being with them every moment of the day, I miss them at night. It's love, true love.
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Wednesday, October 27, 2010

10 Free or Almost-Free Things To Do Outside Your House With a Baby

1. Take Baby to the park and take pictures.
2. Take Baby to the park and put Baby in a swing. But not a super tiny baby.

3. Take Baby to the park, put out a blanket, sprinkle some toys around, and let Baby do whatever he or she is developmentally capable of at the time. Babies love being outside.
4. Take Baby on a walking trail. If your stroller is as beastly as mine, look for a paved one.
5. Take Baby for a stroll around the mall. While it’s best to do this on a day when you have strong financial resolve, an impatient baby can help motivate you to move it along. Babies don’t like waiting in lines.
6. Take Baby somewhere with a patio or a big window. Ice cream or warm beverage-type establishments are ideal. You get a treat, and baby gets to people watch. Lucky for Baby, no one finds his or her staring weird or intrusive.
7. Take Baby to the library for story time. Babies are never too young to enjoy a book or a song.
8. Take Baby to the library and have your own story time. While you’re there, check out some books to read at home and maybe even a little something for yourself. I do recommend using the online catalog to check availability BEFORE you go. Not only do babies hate waiting, but the library is also the perfect place to forget about every book that’s ever sounded interesting.
9. Take Baby to visit a family member or friend.
10. Join the local chapter of MOMS. I happened upon MOMS when we made our cross-country move, and it’s been the key to helping me keep my sanity while we’re away from everyone I’ve ever known. Even if you’re surrounded by friends and family, though, MOMS is still a wonderful organization. Check it out. Shout out to my MOMS gals!

http://www.momsclub.org/
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Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Mr. Linus Gets a Haircut

When I was a kid, one of my aunts was an accountant for a hair salon chain, which put her in the position of being able to give me one of the greatest gifts a kid could ever get but would never think to ask for: practice heads. By practice heads I mean the dummy heads that hair stylists practice on. Deferring to the labels at the bottom of the heads, which also bore the creepy classification of 100% Human Hair, the heads were dubbed the Lindas. The one great shortfall of the Lindas was that their hair couldn’t grow back in. For this reason, cutting the Lindas’ hair was an event. Well, that, and that there was all sorts of set up and clean up involved with cutting hair in a carpeted house.

Because of the great joy I got out of cutting the Lindas’ hair, because I had gained some mild confidence from previous minor trims, and because I can’t fathom what a barbershop visit for a nine-month-old would be like, I decided to cut my own child’s hair. Wanting to do this right, I took to Sally’s to arm myself with a proper pair of scissors and a wee little cape. I also happened upon a $1 tablecloth at Target. Why did I need a tablecloth to cut hair? Why, to keep the clean up simple, silly.

The lesson to be learned here is that one’s hair-cutting confidence is at its highest point prior to the actual snipping. Being the mommarazzo that I am, I decided it would be fun to take some before and after shots.

Before:



Note the length around the ears and at the neck. Yes, this was bothering me.

What I don't have pictures of is the squirming on the kitchen floor, the relocation to Daddy's lap in the living room, the bouncing on Daddy's lap, me giving the scissors to Ray so that he could get to a certain part, me trying to hold him still, him discovering a piece of block on the floor that the dog had chewed up, artfully sneaking it into his mouth, gagging on it, and throwing up. 

Here's the after:


It was a subtle cut.

Next time I'm putting cartoons on the tv and plopping him on the $1 tablecloth in the living room floor... Linda style.




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Monday, October 25, 2010

Weekly Dinner Schedule

I like organization. I like schedules. For the professional mom, schedules are especially important, as they help provide a sense of routine and order to what could be a chaotic sort of lifestyle. It was this desire, along with my enthusiasm for saving money on groceries, that led me to create this handy dandy weekly dinner schedule. How does a dinner schedule save money on groceries? Why, because I've built in a few days that help slash the grocery bill. How does that work? Read on...

Here's the schedule:

Monday: Meatless Monday
Tuesday:
Wednesday: Leftovers Day
Thursday: Salad Day
Friday: Fishy Friday
Saturday:
Sunday: Soupy Sunday

Meatless Monday: You might have guessed that on Meatless Monday, we don't eat meat. We do this for three reasons:
  1. Eating less meat is good for you. Unless you live in a cave, you know that a diet full of saturated fat leads to all kinds of health problems.
  2. Eating less meat is good for the environment. As certain population centers become more affluent, (take China, for example) they will increase the worldwide demand for meat. It simply isn't sustainable for all of us to eat meat at every meal.
  3. Eating less meat is less expensive.
What do we eat if we don't eat meat? We do a lot of pasta and pizza. If my husband didn't hate beans so much, we'd eat lots of beans. Perhaps you've heard that they're good for your heart. Shhh... don't tell him, but I've been thinking of sneaking some lentils in...

Leftover Day: In order to make Leftover Day work, you've got to make sure that you made enough food to have leftovers on Soupy Sunday, Meatless Monday, and/or Tuesday. Leftover Day will significantly slash your grocery bill, and as an added bonus, your fridge stays less cluttered.

Salad Day: Given my obvious fanaticism for alliteration, I'd like Salad Day to be on Saturday. Alas, the lettuce tends to get a little too wilty by then, so Thursday it is. Salad Day is a good opportunity to get in several of those vegetable servings that we Americans are so infamous for not getting enough of. It's also an easier/quicker/cheaper meal if you play your cards right. It's nice to get creative with salad day... keeps it fresh.

Fishy Friday: Not only does this day make me dizzy with alliteration delight, it also fits in with the tradition of fish on Fridays. You know you should eat more fish. Fishy Friday reminds you to do it.

Soupy Sunday: Every frugalista foodie knows that soup is a grocery budget's best friend. It fills you up, and often is chock-full of vegetables. If you make your own stock, it's even cheaper. Also, it's super easy to just make a giant pot that can go on to be lunches, fare for Leftover Day, or treasure for your freezer.

What about Tuesday and Saturday? What do I make on those days? Whatever I want. On at least one of those days, I make something to keep in the freezer. On the other day I might thaw something from the freezer.

Being the easy-going sort of lady that I am, this schedule isn't set in concrete. If I'm short on time one day, I might switch out a more time-consuming meal for a faster one that was dedicated to a different day. It saves a lot of time when I'm planning out the meals for the next week and writing the grocery list. And EVERY mom knows that's important.
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Sunday, October 24, 2010

This Week's Meal Plan 10/23/2010

**Note: The title originally contained a typo: "Mean Plan". Love it.

Age: 9 Months



Day

Wake

Breakfast

Snack

Lunch

Snack

Dinner

Bed

Monday

BF

Cereal w/ pumpkin puree, breast milk, and cinnamon

BF

Cheesy Mushroom and Tomato Sauce with Pasta Stars*, stewed plums

BF

Chicken Bites*, mango chunks, butternut squash/sweet potato puree

BF

Tuesday

BF

Cereal w/ pumpkin puree, breast milk, and cinnamon

BF

Baby Bolognese*, zucchini puree

BF

Yogurt, peach puree, puffs

BF

Wednesday

BF

Cereal w/ pumpkin puree, breast milk, and cinnamon

BF

Cream cheese sandwich, peas

BF

Chicken Bites*, stewed plums, zucchini puree

BF

Thursday

BF

Scrambled egg yolk, toast fingers, apple puree

BF

Cheesy Mushroom and Tomato Sauce with Pasta Stars*, peach puree

BF

Yogurt, Mum-Mum, butternut squash puree

BF

Friday

BF

Cereal w/ pumpkin puree, breast milk, and cinnamon

BF

Salmon sticks, apple puree, cheese bites

BF

Yogurt, Mum-Mum, green bean puree

BF

Saturday

BF

Scrambled egg yolk, toast fingers, plum puree

BF

Yogurt, Mum-Mum, pea puree

BF

Chicken bites*, butternut squash puree, puffs

BF

Sunday

BF

Cereal w/ pumpkin puree, breast milk, and cinnamon

BF

Yogurt, Mum-Mum, zucchini puree, puffs

BF

Salmon sticks, butternut squash puree, peach puree

BF
 
BF - Breastfeed
* - Recipe from Superfoods for Babies and Children by Annabel Karmel

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Saturday, October 23, 2010

Snapshots of Cute Stuff 10/23/2010

It’s hard to believe all of the progress the babies have made this week. It’s like their development has been in fast-forward.

Last week’s proficiency in standing led to two developments this week. Veda can now stand almost completely independently. All she needs is a little propping from the back to keep from tipping backwards. Linus is now taking steps when we help him stand. No good picture of these activities yet. Eh, it's just one of many reasons to tune in next week.

We also got our first care package this week. My uncle and aunt sent the babies Halloween outfits. Naturally, we posed with the tiny pumpkins.

Veda clearly understands that she's supposed to smile for the camera. Linus is too distracted by the tiny pumpkins.

Veda: "Seriously, Linus. What is up with you and that pumpkin?



We also have a new word. A co-worker from Ray’s home worksite was in town, so she stopped by our apartment to have dinner one night this week. When she was leaving, she told the babies “bye, bye”. To our surprise, Veda repeated it back to her. Before I had finished asking Ray if he had heard it too, Linus, not to be outdone, said it as well!

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Friday, October 22, 2010

Shlumpadinka

Shlumpadinka- The word Oprah Winfrey made up a long time ago to describe slumpy housewives, the types that are wearing the same sweats they wore yesterday and the day before. They usually have more than one child and are running around non stop and have been totally worn out and given up on how they look.

Source: http://www.urbandictionary.com/

For professional moms (a.k.a. stay-at-home-moms), especially mothers of infants or toddlers, the daily sweats/no-shower state can become a life-sucking rut that robs you of any self-esteem you might have had left after ten months of expanding in public - not just in the cute baby belly, but also in the butt, face, and cankles. Whether it’s because the shower you were planning was hijacked by a nap gone wrong or because you’ve just given up since nothing fits anyway, the result is the same… you become a *gasp* shlumpadinka.

By no means have I ever been a high-maintenance lady. This is partially due to my lack of hair skills and partially due to my refusal to spend any more than 30 minutes I could be sleeping on primping. So at least I didn’t have far to fall.

When you’re a shlumpadinka, you know it. It feels grimy, weary, and lonely. I had my moments of clarity about it. A distant look of epiphany about me, I’d mutter, “I’ve become a shlumpadinka” to my husband. He’d say, “What does that mean?… You look pretty?”.

Our cross-country move helped me emerge from my shlumpadinka rut. Packing up my closet that had become overcrowded with excess baby blankets made me remember that I do, in fact, own lots and lots of shoes - not just the one pair of sandals I’d been wearing all summer. I recalled my love of the cardigan and started wearing the many belts that had been buried under winter scarves. I bought appropriate hair product and started wearing makeup again.

I remember being about fifteen years old and hearing my little brother ask my mother why I bothered putting makeup on when I looked the same without it. My mother told him that I was doing it for me. Exactly. On one level, we groom ourselves because we want to appear acceptable in society. But on a more profound level, isn’t it really about demonstrating that you value yourself?

That’s why it’s important to make it out of the shlumpadinka phase. Becoming a mother is probably the biggest transition that can be made in life, and it’s normal to lose yourself a bit when undergoing such a big change. Ultimately, though, you’ve got to remember that there’s a person in there with goals and interests who deserves to take fifteen or twenty minutes to go through the rituals of self honor. No, you’re not your hair or your khaki pants, but it’s about an outward confirmation of valuing yourself.
 
 
 
 

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Thursday, October 21, 2010

8 Nutritious Breakfast Ideas for People Who Don’t Have Time for Breakfast

1. Toasted English muffin (whole wheat!) with peanut butter and sliced bananas
2. Toasted English muffin with peanut butter and fruit preserves
3. Cup of yogurt (no artificial sweeteners!) and an apple
4. Cup of yogurt and toast with fruit preserves
5. Bagel (whole wheat!) with cream cheese and smoked salmon (wild caught!)
6. Bagel with deli turkey (nitrate free!) and cheese - microwave for 15 seconds
7. Smoothie of apple juice, ice, half of a frozen banana, and frozen strawberries (organic!)
8. Chocolate milk and an apple

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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Nine Months Appointment

The Stats:

Linus
 


MeasurementPercentile
Length28.5”50%
Weight18# 5 oz15%
Head Circumference45.5 cm50%


 
Veda


MeasurementPercentile
Length27”25%
Weight14# 11 oz<5%
Head Circumference42 cm5%


 
 
Both babies have made huge progress in length since their last check-up. I’d been suspecting that their height was in a greater percentile than their weight since they both tend to outgrow clothes tall-wise before they do fat-wise. Considering where we started out on the growth charts (as in not on them), we’ve come a long way. Note that Linus's giant head is now allegedly of average size. Ha! The hats I just bought for him were 18-24 months.

According to the alternative vaccine schedule we’re following, the babies were in for the polio and flu vaccines today. Polio went well - whimpering from Linus and minimal crying from Veda. I decided not to do the flu vaccine today since the practice doesn’t usually offer the thimerosal-free version for babies. (Thimerosal is the mercury preservative in most flu vaccines.) They’re going to order doses for Linus and Veda. Did I mention that I am LIKING this practice?

I’m so, so grateful that my babies are healthy and perfect. Only three more months until our next weigh-in fix!

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Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Our First Halloween

Today Veda and Linus’s Halloween costumes arrived in the mail courtesy of Nana. This is a big deal.

Christmas has to be everyone’s favorite holiday, but my personal close second is Halloween. Playing dress-up, all the candy you can eat, spooky stuff, and carving pumpkins… what’s not to like? But after a certain point in your life, Halloween, a holiday that like most others is centered around children, becomes a bit hollow and difficult to celebrate if there are no little ones around. For this reason, Halloween, which had previously been one of my favorite days of the year, became sort of… depressing. I could dress up, but go where? Do what? I had to go to work the next day, and I didn‘t associate with people who threw adult-type parties anymore. A couple of years ago I decided to take Halloween by the reins and put Mimi in a doggie Tinkerbell costume so we could participate in the costume parade in the little town we lived in. When we got there, we were the only human-dog pair. Everyone else in attendance was, of course, either a parent or a child. It was humiliating. We left before it actually started, because it would have been more pitiful to have actually participated.

But here I am, back in the business of my almost favorite holiday. We’re too little for trick-or-treating, and I’m afraid that’s a tradition that’s on its way out anyway. (What’s up with that?!) This year we’ll dress up, go to a kiddie party, maybe go to a fundraiser in our costumes, and probably stroll around the neighborhood. The babies will never remember it, but there will be plenty of pictures. It feels good to be eligible to play in the game.

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Monday, October 18, 2010

She Who Does Not Sleep

Observe one of the only existing images of the rare Sleeping Veda.
 

Simply put, Veda doesn’t sleep. On the bright side, that’s how I’m able to write this blog. After her brother has gone to sleep, Veda and I sit in the living room. I do all of my computer business and bounce her, usually until I go to sleep myself. She spends her time fussing/staring into space/babbling/drifting off. And, yes, I did say bounce - not rock. When they were both little night owls, I couldn’t rock them at the same time, so we came to rely on the bouncy seats. Consequently, one of the things about the singleton experience I feel I’ve missed out on the most is rocking my babies to sleep. Maybe I’ve idealized it a bit, but the idea of cradling my little one in a still, dark room, slowly rocking him or her off to sleep sounds absolutely heavenly. But we got used to the bouncies, so that’s what we do.

Since she sleeps less than Linus at night, you might expect that Veda would be a champion napper. No. No, no, no, no. She almost always goes down for her naps later and wakes up sooner. Don’t even get me started about the days when they take staggered naps. Those days. Are. EXHAUSTING.

When it’s time to turn in, Ray will take over for a bit so I can brush my teeth, take out my contacts, do all of those bedtime chores that seem so dreadful when you‘re drowsy. And then I’ll carry Veda up to bed with me and nestle her next to me. Linus is content to sleep alone - prefers it even. But for this time in her life, my little girl wants me close, needs me to help her feel safe enough, buttoned up in love enough to drift off. There are plenty of “experts” who would tell me to let her cry it out. In fact, a pediatrician did. We didn’t see her again. In just a few years my little pearl of great price will marvel to her friends at my behind-the-times ways and think I’m rather foolish. I know these things; I did teach high school. But I’ve had enough time to myself and did crazy things to my body in order to not have the rest of my life to have too much time to myself. She will have plenty of opportunities to cry it out: when her heart is broken, when she finds out that wanting something isn't enough, when she learns that everything ends. For tonight it’s me and my girl, and I know how to fix it...
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Sunday, October 17, 2010

This Week's Meal Plan 10/18/2010

Age: 9 months



Day

Wake

Breakfast

SNAck

Lunch

snack

dinner

bed

Monday

BF

Cereal w/ pumpkin puree, breast milk, and cinnamon

BF

Cream cheese sandwiches, apple and blueberry puree, zucchini puree

BF

Baby Bolognese*, peach puree

BF

Tuesday

BF

Scrambled egg yolk, toast fingers, apple puree

BF

Yogurt, mango chunks, green beans puree

BF

Chicken Bites*, puffs, butternut squash puree

BF

Wednesday

BF

Scrambled egg yolk, toast fingers, apple puree

BF

Cheesy Mushroom and Tomato Sauce with Pasta Stars*, peach puree

BF

Baby Bolognese*, butternut squash puree

BF

Thursday

BF

Cereal w/ pumpkin puree, breast milk, and cinnamon

BF

Mango chunks, cheese bites, zucchini puree, puffs

BF

Salmon sticks, sweet potato puree, plum puree

BF

Friday

BF

Cereal w/ peaches, breastmilk

BF

Cheesy Mushroom and Tomato Sauce with Pasta Stars*, apple and blueberry puree

BF

Salmon sticks, yogurt, butternut squash puree

BF

Saturday

BF

Scrambled egg yolk, toast fingers, apple puree

BF

Yogurt, zucchini puree, puffs

BF

Chicken bites*, sweet potato puree, mango chunks

BF

Sunday

BF

Cereal w/ pumpkin puree, breast milk, and cinnamon

BF

Cream cheese sandwiches,
Apple and blueberry puree

BF

Chicken bites*, yogurt, green bean puree

BF

 
BF - Breastfeed
Superfoods for Babies and Children by Annabel Karmel

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Saturday, October 16, 2010

Snapshots of Cute Stuff 10/16/2010

We recently went to a pumpkin patch with the MOMS club. We're still too little to enjoy corn mazes or horse rides, but we did partake of the corn pit - pacis in to avoid ingesting the corn.


I've been super impressed with their finger food efforts this week. Cream cheese sandwiches, string cheese, mango, kiwi, chicken meatballs... they'll try anything. Here's Veda going after some string cheese:



Another food first this week was Bolognese. Or you can call it spaghetti. The first time through it was a little rough, and by rough I mean that the texture was freaking them out and I thought I'd spent all that time making a huge batch of something they would refuse to eat. Nah. The next time they loved it. But for your viewing pleasure, the first time they ate spaghetti:



We've also gotten VERY good at standing up. Mr. Linus has *almost* pushed himself up to standing a few times now. See the giant cloth diaper butts? All of that extra padding is coming in pretty handy these days.


When it comes to standing endurance, though, Veda is the champion. This pleases her.


In accordance with the season, Linus is slightly obsessed with his tiny pumpkin. Thanks to the tiny pumpkin and its rolly ways, Linus's (army) crawling speed is now up to Keep Your Eyes On This Kid At All Times.

  

This has been Snapshots of Cute Stuff.



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Friday, October 15, 2010

10 Painless Ways to Cut Your Family’s Spending

1. Dump cable

You won’t even miss it. Why?

a) In the modern world cable is practically obsolete. So much content is available online now through sites like Hulu, Youtube, or even through the network’s website. If you’re patient enough to wait for a show to come out on DVD, there’s Netflix, one of our family’s favorite benefits of living in the 21st century.
b) Think about it. Almost everything worth watching is on the major networks FOR FREE. Our family’s exception is Dexter. We have to have Dexter, so when a new season comes available to download on Amazon, by golly, we download it that instant. That isn’t free, but it’s chump change compared to what we would pay for cable.
c) What’s on cable? Junky reality shows. I’ve never kept up with the Kardashians (although sadly that hasn’t protected me from knowing who they are), and I’m pretty sure my IQ is at least a couple of points higher for it.
d) If you have children, you have precious little time for television. In fact, why don’t you go check on them? I think I heard something.

2. Pare services down to the basics

If you have a cell phone, do you have a really good reason for keeping a land line? If not, chuck it.
Decide why you have a cell phone. The budget answer is “for making necessary calls”. The rest of it - the web browsing, the text messaging, the ring tones, the apps, etc. - are all unnecessary. The $5 a month (plus tax) that I used to spend on a rudimentary texting package was one of the first things to go when I quit my job. I can think of far better ways to spend the $60 a year that it was costing to avoid having to speak to people on the phone. If you’ve ever made a budget, you know that $5 here and there adds up.

3. Grocery shop smarter

Before you make your grocery list (you do make a list, don’t you?) shop your pantry, refrigerator, and freezer first. If you’ve got half a package of bacon, put BLTs on the menu. If you’ve got some leftover stock or vegetables in the refrigerator, roll it over into a soup.

Learn how to work your store’s deals. Before our move, we were Earthfare shoppers, and I knew how to work that store like nobody’s business. Four times a year, Earthfare puts out a little booklet of coupons. One such coupon was for $1.50 off a tray of chicken. Of course, they’re counting on people buying boneless skinless, chicken breasts. But we bought legs, priced at a whopping $3-ish, so our final price for a meal’s worth of chicken was about $1.50. Doesn’t that just make you giddy?!

4. Use cloth diapers

When the babies were born they were so tiny that we had no choice but to put them in preemie disposables, and from that little run, we estimated that it would cost approximately $300 a month to keep them in disposables. That’s a significant sum of money. Over the course of a year, that’s $3,600. If they both stayed in diapers until the age of three, it would be $10,800. Compare that to the $500-600 we have invested in cloth diapers. With the exception of the diaper detergent we buy to accommodate Linus’s skin issues and wipey solution wafers, that’s a one time expense. I’ll not pretend that there aren’t times when I’d rather just not have to deal with the extra laundry, but if we’re saving about $9,000, I can deal with it. Cloth doesn’t have to be an all or nothing thing. We carry a stash of disposables in the diaper bag for running around on the weekends, and Mr. Heavy Wetter wears a Huggies Overnight diaper for nighttime.

Curious about how much you’d save if you switched to cloth? Here’s a calculator:

http://cutietooties.com/calc.php


5. Make your own baby food

Not only do you get more peace of mind from making your baby’s food, but it also costs much, much less to do so.

6. Eat in

Unless you’re eating from a dollar menu somewhere, eating out is expensive. And if you are eating from a dollar menu, I think you’ll find it to be extremely expensive in the long run. A break from cooking and having to do the dishes is wonderful every now and then, but does the pleasure eating out gives you justify the gross difference in cost from making your meals at home? Since we’ve cut back drastically on our eating out, I find that I appreciate and enjoy it more when we do go out. If I regret anything from our pre-parenthood days, it’s the amount of money we spent eating mediocre food at restaurants. Oh, how I wish we had saved that money instead.

7. Do your own beauty services

Do your own pedicures and manicures. Yes, the foot rub feels good for the five minutes it lasts, but it’s not worth $40. I will say, though, that sometimes a professional may need to be called in when the feet become too hooven.

Pluck your eyebrows instead of having them waxed. I had mine waxed for many years, so the shape is already there. All I have to do is pluck the errant hairs as they come in. That’s an easy $15 a month saved.

8. Use hand-me-downs

When people offer, accept.

9. Use the library

With the availability of catalogues that can search an entire system, it’s much easier to use the library than it used to be. Our family uses an estimated $600 worth of materials every month. Calculate how much you could save here:



10. Never go into a store without a list

And never buy something that isn’t on the list. What percentage of your purchases are impulse purchases? Take out your grocery store and Target/Walmart receipts from the last month and highlight the items you decided you needed when you got to the store. Add them up. It’s more than you thought it would be, right?
 
http://www.friendsforthelibrary.org/value.html
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Thursday, October 14, 2010

I Hate Elmo

I also hate Dora, Pooh, Spongebob, Thomas, Bob, and especially the Disney princesses. I hate them for appearing on junky toys and sugary cereals that my children will beg for in the not-too-distant future. I hate them for brainwashing my babies with brand loyalty before they’re capable of critical thinking. Dang those clever, self-serving marketers!

It’s not that I’m opposed to the babies having toys that they love or reading about or watching characters who capture their imaginations. On the contrary! It’s just that I think the joy should come from the good times that playing with the toy provides or from the bliss of a good story - NOT because of the familiar face on the package.


My hatred of the princesses is compounded by another issue (which is a whole other blog post), but aside from those two-dimensional anti-role models, perhaps I most hate the characters who claim to love our children. Elmo doesn’t love you. Elmo wants the contents of your wallet $19.99 at a time. Your Nana loves you. Put her face on a t-shirt and wear it.

So far we’ve avoided any licensed character apparel, toys, or television, but I know that it’s inevitable. The licensed character tidal wave is coming, and I’m going to have to decide whether it’s a war worth fighting. Making unpopular choices is exhausting. So much avoidance and so much explaining… And will it be a barrier to making friends for my little ones? I’m pretty sure mutual favorite cartoon characters can qualify as a friendship requirement for preschoolers.

In the end, I think we’ll just avoid the onslaught as long as possible. The television will remain turned off, and the grocery shopping will be done in places that don’t sell character cereal or character apple slices (which is just a low blow on the part of that industry, don’t you think?). It’s only a matter of time, though, until they watch cartoons at a friend’s house or spot an action figure from a beloved childhood movie when we’re out for toothpaste and dishwasher powder. Perhaps you will see me one day at a big box retailer trying to reason with a child seduced by the siren call of “Collect Them All!”. I do hope, however, that you will not see me in a drive-thru awaiting a side of fast food with my toy. In that event, please stop me and remind me of all that I once loved before the whining began.

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Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Veda and Linus FAQ's


1. Are they identical?

No. One is a boy, which means he has XY chromosomes, and one is a girl, so she has XX chromosomes. This means they DO NOT have identical DNA.

You’d be surprised how often people ask this.

2. Do twins run in your family?

No. Linus and Veda are miracles of science. It took a team of doctors, embryologists, and lab technicians in two different cities to help us create them with IVF and Assisted Hatching. I don’t mind telling anyone this, because it’s proof of how much they were wanted and loved before they even existed.

3. Do they have different personalities?

Well, yeah. They’re different people. Being a twin will always be a part of their respective identities, but they are individuals, and we make efforts to promote their individuality.

4. Are they crawling?

Linus does an army crawl with increasing efficiency. Veda is content to watch. We’re pretty sure that she’s going to skip crawling and go straight to walking.

5. Who was born first?

Most people think it must be Linus since he’s bigger, but, nope, it was little Veda. She was Baby A all along, which just means that she was closer to the birth canal. Even though they were born by Caesarian, she still managed to make it out one minute before her brother. You’d be eager to get out of there too if you’d been stuffed in there with a brother who was still turning flips at 37 weeks.

6. Were they premature?

No. We made it to one day short of 38 weeks before our planned C-section.

7. How much did they weigh?

Veda was 4 lbs 14 oz, and Linus was 5 lbs 10 oz. Veda was diagnosed with IUGR (Intrauterine Growth Restriction) towards the end of my pregnancy. I’ve had pediatric nurses ask me if I’m sure that she wasn’t premature. Uh, yeah. I was there. Pretty sure.

8. Do they play together?

At this point toy stealing makes up the majority of their playtime interactions. Occasionally they do make an even trade of toys, which they seem to have some sort of mutual understanding about. I love, love, love it when they look at each other and grin and coo or babble to one another. It melts my mommy heart and reminds me all over again why all of those shots in my hip with the world’s biggest needle were worth it.

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Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Freezer: Mom’s Best Friend

My misgivings about processed foods and commercial baby foods leave me with one option: do it myself. At this point, that means cooking two different meals: one for the adults and one for the babies (and the dog, who enjoys eating everything they drop). If you’ve ever been around a baby before, you’re probably wondering how I manage that. The answer, gentle reader, lies in my freezer - literally.

First, the baby food. Homemade baby food really couldn’t be any easier to pull off. For example, here’s the recipe for pureed peaches: Buy a few bags of frozen organic peaches (you might as well do this is bulk) and steam until they’re nice and mushy. Transfer to the food processor and add a little of the cooking liquid from the pot you steamed the peaches in (nutrient conservation!). Puree until it’s, well, a puree, and then spoon into the little compartments of an ice cube tray (this helps with monitoring portion size). Cover with plastic wrap and stick in the freezer. When it’s frozen, pop the little peach cubes out and put in a freezer bag. Voila! That’s it!

Freezer meals for adults take even less effort. Not too long ago, I discovered the Don’t Panic! Dinner’s In the Freezer books. The freezer-friendly recipes are YUMMY, and the vast majority are made with whole foods - very few can of cream of’s in these books. The concept is that when you’re making dinner, it’s just about as much work to double the recipe, so chop up a few more veggies or whatever, and put what you’re not going to eat tonight in a freezer bag for later. For example, I’ve got a bag of beef stroganoff in my freezer right now. The next time we’re up for stroganoff, I just thaw it out, reheat it, and boil some noodles.

The same principle applies to some of the meals I’m making for the babies now that they’re moving onto more adult-type foods. Since I was already making Bolagnese and chicken bites for them this week, I doubled the recipes and now have many more meals in reserve in my trusty freezer. Ahhhhh… that feels good.

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Monday, October 11, 2010

Our Family Food Policy

Our family abides by a few unofficial food rules (which I’m making official by listing).

1. Beef - When it comes to beef, we eat only the organic, grass-fed variety for a few reasons.

A. Cattle who aren’t grass-fed are fed a diet of corn, which isn’t what they evolved to eat, at least for a long period of time. Being fed a diet of something they aren’t designed to eat leads to some nasty infections, hence the enormous amounts of antibiotics they’re given. These antibiotics get passed on through the food chain, and are largely responsible for antibiotic resistance in humans.The hormones given to cattle to make them bigger, stronger, faster also get passed along the food chain, and is a contributing factor to the earlier onset of puberty in humans. Getting steady doses of hormones through our food can lead to other bad “stuff”. In my own family, my mother is a survivor of estrogen-receptive breast cancer, which means that estrogen encourages this particular type of cancer to grow. Knowing that I’m at risk for a similar kind of cancer makes me want to avoid pumping any more hormones into my system that could encourage cancer growth.

B. How would you rather live? Grazing on grass, having room to lie down when you get tired, and generally living out the life cycle that nature intended? Or maybe being crowded in tight quarters, knee-deep in feces, being fed a diet that is literally killing you save for being sustained by a steady dose of antibiotics? I’m not a vegetarian (although it is a good idea to eat less meat than the average American does), but it’s important to me to know that the life I’m taking in order to sustain my own was treated humanely and had a happy life. Well, as happy as a cow can feel.

C. Remember that knee-deep in feces imagery? That’s not made-up, and that’s why you have to be so afraid of beef tainted by E. Coli. Cattle who lived in pastures as opposed to feed lots are far, far less likely to be contaminated with dangerous pathogens like E. Coli. Isn’t it appetizing to think that the cow that gave its life for your fast food hamburger was once covered in poop? Mmmmm, boy.

2. Dairy - We buy only organic milk and buy organic cheese and other dairy products whenever possible for the same reasons we buy organic beef.

3. Chicken and Eggs - We buy organic, free-range chicken when possible for many of the same reasons we
buy organic, grass-fed beef. These are chickens who weren’t pumped up with hormones or antibiotics and were allowed to live out a life of chickenness (like that word?). In a pinch, we’ll go with cage-free. Cage-free sounds great, but these chickens often start out in cages (they only have to be “finished” in a cage-free setting in order to be classified as cage-free. Also the “cage-free” environment may be a nasty area without any vegetation.) These chicken terms… they’re tricky. Like all-natural… as opposed to what? Synthetic chicken?

4. Processed Foods - When we shop the middle of the grocery store, we try to stick with foods made of ingredients we can pronounce. Most of those ingredients you can’t pronounce come from corn… very, very processed corn, but corn could be a whole other post. Maybe it will one day. For now, just know that you have no business eating that much corn that’s been reduced to a very un-corny substance. One ingredient that I can pronounce that we avoid is high fructose corn syrup. There’s more and more evidence all the time that high fructose corn syrup (aka HFC) is at least in part responsible for America’s obesity problem. And despite that industry’s ad campaign about how harmless it is (Methinks they do protest too much), there’s also evidence that it DOES lead to more weight gain than eating sugar.

5. Food Origin - We like buying local when possible. Sometimes the local guy can’t or doesn’t pay to get
certified organic, but that’s okay. He’s the local guy, so I can ask him about his practices to find out if it’s compatible with our food philosophy. Furthermore, I trust the local guy who looks me in the eye when I buy his products far more than I trust a distant, faceless corporation.

Do we follow our rules perfectly? Nah. When I had the babies, I really blew it during the hospital stay. Between getting practically no sleep, trying to recover from major surgery, and learning to breastfeed not one but two little people, I just didn’t have the energy to deal with it. I just ate whatever slop came to my room, and I said thank you.

More later on how this matches up with feeding babies...

Further Reading/Viewing:
The Omnivore’s Dilemma, Food Rules (for a condensed version), In Defense of Food - all by Michael Pollan
Fast Food Nation (the book - not the movie, which was horrible)
Supersize Me
Food Matters: A Guide to Conscous Eating by Mark Bittman

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Sunday, October 10, 2010

Dog Sister

This is Mimi.




From the beginning, Mimi has been looking out for the babies. After Linus and Veda (at that time known as Sticky and Underdog) were transferred, Mimi knew something was up. She kept the cat shooed away from my lap and made noticeable efforts to avoid any clumsy moves around my tummy.

When Birth Day finally arrived, Mimi passed our four day hospital stay at Ray’s parents’ house. Having never been away from us for so long, Mimi was thrilled to see us when she joined us at home. Just like in a dog food commercial, she charged at me, I picked her up, and she joyously licked my face. Then smelling that something in her domain had changed, she trotted into the newly occupied nursery and stood up on her hind legs to sniff out the new little people dozing in the crib.

Sweet as she is, we’ve tried to avoid any situations that could lead to trouble. The baby-dog relationship has been strictly monitored. In fact, we’ve probably erred on the side of being overly cautious. Yet, in spite of our best efforts, the inevitable ear pulling and tail grabbing has occurred. So far she’s been a little doggie saint, only looking up at me as if to ask for help.

There have been a couple of slip-ups - a chewed pacifier dropped on the floor and one chewed spoon, but considering how many brightly-colored objects that resemble dog toys get strewn about the floor, that’s practically doggie behavior perfection.
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Saturday, October 9, 2010

This Week's Meal Plan

Feeding solids can feel perplexing. Here's our plan for this coming week:

Age: 9 months



Day of Week

Wake

Breakfast

Snack

Lunch

Snack

Dinner

Bed

Monday

BF

Cereal w/ pumpkin puree, breast milk, and cinnamon

BF

Baby’s Bolognese*, apple puree

BF

Zucchini puree, kiwi chunks, cheese bites, puffs

BF

Tuesday

BF

Scrambled egg yolk, toast fingers, apple puree

BF

Yogurt, green beans and mashed potato puree, banana chunks

BF

Pureed peas, cheese bites, Mum-Mum, Kiwi chunks

BF

Wednesday

BF

Cereal w/ pumpkin puree, breast milk, and cinnamon

BF

Cheese bites, puffs, sweet potato puree, kiwi chunks

BF

Baby Bolognese*, pureed plums

BF

Thursday

BF

Scrambled egg yolk, toast fingers, yogurt

BF

Butternut squash puree, puffs, avocado chunks

BF

Chicken Bites*, green bean puree, Mum-Mum

BF

Friday

BF

Cereal w/ peaches, breastmilk

BF

Chicken Bites*, avocado chunks, puffs

BF

Yogurt, banana chunks, pureed peas

BF

Saturday

BF

Scrambled egg yolk, toast fingers, apple puree

BF

Yogurt, butternut squash, puffs

BF

Cheese bites, avocado chunks, pureed plums

BF

Sunday

BF

Cereal w/ pumpkin puree, breast milk, and cinnamon

BF

Yogurt, green beans and mashed potato puree, kiwi chunks

BF

Chicken Bites*, avocado chunks, puffs

BF

 
BF= Breastfeed
*= Recipe from the book Superfoods for Babies and Children

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