Friday, September 30, 2011

our baby books.

I fell in love with this baby book by Nikki McClure, a Pacific NW artist who does absolutely beautiful woodcuts. Many of my friends have her prints hanging in their homes - and every time I see one, it makes me feel warm and cozy inside. I asked for two books, one for each girl, and one of my friends gifted them both to me. I honestly haven't written in either of them yet, but I keep making mental notes. And, the great thing is, the book is more of a freestyle record keeping - blank pages for pictures or just to jot down little messages. I love that.

Today, the girls are three months old. They are absolutely beautiful, and their personalities continue to emerge, and I love watching their faces as the world registers in their bright little eyes. I don't really know where they are on the "benchmarks" list, because their adjusted age is anywhere from six to eight weeks, since they were born over a month early. But I do know that they are smart, strong, and growing more alert every day. That's enough for me. Oh, and the smiles. Any mama would be proud of these smiles.
You can check out Ms. McClure's artwork and books here, including All in a Day, which I received as gift at my book shower.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

we love our mountain buggy duet!

We are so fortunate as to have been given the brand new Mountain Buggy Duet Stroller
as a shower gift from both our parents(*) This was one of the most exciting gifts we received. It's the narrowest side by side double stroller on the market, and it was backordered through we just got it a few weeks ago! It handles like a dream and as Andy commented on our long Saturday walk, I've got a new pep in my step. Yeah, I'm tasting freedom!

Unfortunately, the girls didn't take to it right away. Our first outing was in Southern Oregon at my parents' house, and Afton screamed as soon as we strapped her in. Ruthie seemed to do OK. We took them out and said we'd try again the next day. The next attempt, we put Afton in and I took off jogging little circles around the driveway, hoping the motion would calm her down like it does when in the car. Mom brought out Ruthie, we stopped to strap her in, and took off down the street. We made it one street and both girls revolted. I took Afton out to comfort her and we walked quickly home.

We did some problem solving and thought that maybe they felt too exposed in the seats, so we went to Target and bought some full-body cushion inserts, and turns out, it worked! So my first critique of the seats, if you aren't going to buy the car seat adapters, is to consider getting some cushy inserts if your babies aren't happy on the rough polyester fabric. The seats also adjust fairly easily, once you figure them out. They are both separate, so one can be fully reclined and one can sit up, which will be great in the future.


At this stage, we also only strap in one of their arms. The five-point harness is so sturdy that we feel they aren't going anywhere. It takes some practice to work the harness seamlessly, but it's that way with all new baby gear. The straps are easily adjustable. The grab bar in front of the seats is detachable, and we have it removed until they get a little older for easy accessibility.

The duet is 25 inches across - the same width as many single buggies -  so it fits through doorways and down aisles - although I wouldn't take it to Trader Joe's. They have the tiniest aisles ever! So far, we've taken it in and out of our home doorways with no problem, cruised sidewalks, rolled it into a very small baby store, and braved a packed Costco. Size-wise, it performed beautifully. The air-filled tires drive so smooth and maneuver extremely well. You can also lock the front wheels so they don't swivel, if need be.

We've had a great time getting familiar with our Mountain Buggy. Now, I'm contemplating purchasing the rain cover, because winter is coming to Portland and the rain begins soon. Although it is $50, it may well be worth it.

I think it's the start of a beautiful friendship.

(Daddy and the girls on our 2 hour Saturday walk)

Boho Mama's duet PROS:

- The air-filled tires drive - no, glide - like a dream! Turns on a dime with rear-wheel suspension...I LOVE driving this stroller and feel like we could take it absolutely fact, we're dreaming up all the places we can take our babies in this baby.

- The individual sun canopies have flip-out mesh screens to add even more protection. I love this feature, as well as the peek-a-boo flaps on the sun canopies. We draped a light muslin blanket over the canopies on our walk, but I could still see their sweet little faces through the peakaboo windows perfectly.

- The five-point harness. If our girls are as adept at getting out of straps as they are at busting out of their swaddles, we'll be so thankful for the MB harness in the future.

- The big and cushy adjustable handle.

- The look and color. Sleek and sporty, and not so huge as the BOB's or the Mountain Buggy Duo. Those are just too much stroller for me. Those are the Hummers of the stroller world, and this is the Land Cruiser.

- You can buy car seat adapters that allow you to clip on the infant carrier seats in a staggered position. We didn't buy these, but it's a nice feature.

- The body folds flat easily and can stand up on the back wheels after being locked with a strap attached near the handlebar. It's not too heavy, either. It does take up the whole trunk floorspace of our Subaru Legacy.

Boho Mama's duet CONS:

- Little to no storage. The underneath gear tray is hard to get to when the seats are reclined, and there isn't much in the way of storage on top - the cupholder is an extra purchase. It does come with a bottle holder, but I'd like to see the cupholder included.

- The polyester fabric is a little rough, which is why I suggested getting cushy inserts for little babies if you're not buying the car seat adapters.

- Like Baby Gizmo noted on their review video, and I completely agree, the tough fabric has to be stuffed back behind the seat when you go from recline to upright sitting. It's not a huge deal, just a little inconvenient.

- If you have bigger kids, this stroller probably isn't the best choice. The seats max out at 11" wide. Our girls are small and big kids don't really run in our family, so I think we'll be fine.

If you're contemplating the duet, hopefully our review helps you make your decision. You can also watch a video on YouTube put out by Baby Gizmo, which I watched and found helpful in getting familiar with the basics.

And now to plan our next adventure!

Interested? Check out the Mountain Buggy Duet Stroller on!

(*and were not paid in any form to write this review, and the link above is an affiliate link.)

Saturday, September 24, 2011

library day.

I have a busy day today! I'm shortly headed over to Andy's cousin's place a few floors up to catch the Timber's game (we live in the same apartment building), and later stopping by a bachelorette party for a former work colleague (yes! Grown-up drink!) but earlier today we strapped the girls in their stroller (which they are getting used to, yeahhh!) and walked up to the NW library branch to pick up some books I had on hold. They should be very interesting reads.

I'm a researcher by nature, so I need to get on top of this vaccine thing before our next pediatrician visit. I've refused all so far. If it warrants it, I'll pass on my reviews in case anyone is interested. If anyone has book or website recommendations to share with me regarding vaccines, I'd greatly appreciate it!

Compromised generation


Happy Saturday!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

cuban stew.


It's all about convenience around these parts. We try to coordinate the girls' evening nap with our dinner time, but I think they have a radar that senses when I'm just about to enjoy a meal - they end up waking up as soon as the fork digs up my first bite! It's OK though, they're just so cute I don't mind.

This is one of our easiest and most favorite go-to meals with affordable ingredients. The base of the recipe comes from Martha Stewart's Everyday Food magazine, and we put our own spin on it. It adapts really well to whatever you have on hand - we've prepared it all sorts of ways and it is always delicious. We added polenta to the recipe to give it a little more oomph. 

Cuban Stew
Adapted from Everyday Food
  • Coconut rice, made with full-fat coconut milk as liquid
  • Polenta, either stovetop or pre-prepared
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium red onion, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 3 cups cooked or 2 cans black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 16 oz. vegetable or chicken stock (preferably fresh! Stock recipe here)
  • 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Garnishes: lime wedges, fresh cilantro, sliced radishes, avocado, etc. 
  1. Prepare coconut rice and polenta, keep warm. 
  2. Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium, add onion and garlic. Cook until onion is softened, 8 to 10 minutes.
  3. Add beans, broth, vinegar, and oregano. Cook, mashing some beans with the back of a spoon, until slightly thickened, 6 to 8 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Fluff rice with a fork. 
  4. Serve beans over desired amount of rice and polenta, and top with your favorite garnishes and salt and pepper.
 Linked w/Your Green Resource @ SortaCrunchy. 

    Friday, September 16, 2011

    fill in the blank friday

    Hey there! I'm visiting family in Jacksonville right now, and the twins are going through a growth spurt, so I'm a bit preoccupied. But not busy enough to slide in for Fill in the Blank Friday, courtesy of Lauren @ the little things we do!


    (Leaving some Oregon love on the Moroccan coast, 2010)

    1.   You should always take time to tell those in your life that you love them, and if in close proximity, give them a big ol' hug or a slobbery kiss.  

    2.  Love and chocolate make(s) the world a happier place to be.

    3.  I can hardly wait for my babies to start sleeping longer at night!! Oh please, please! I'm also excited for our little foursome to get away to the coast soon. We tried to go over Labor Day weekend, but the line of traffic started about 60 miles out and didn't let up. We turned around, and will try again in October. 

    4.  Sunday is family day and  is my favorite day of the week. 

    5.  Something totally dumb and ridiculous that I love is Justin Bieber. He's ridiculously talented though! Have you seen his movie? Even Andy has turned into a Belieber. Not diggin the current hair and glasses combo though, Beebs.

    6.  If I could, I would sleep though the night! Can you tell there is a theme running here? It's 10 weeks and I'm finally hitting a wall.

    7.  I rather like drinking decaf coffee. I never, ever though I would! Oh how things change.

    Wednesday, September 7, 2011

    wordless(ish) wednesday: daddy time.

    We love Daddy time. We can be silly (see Afton's face on the top right), quiet and cuddly (all the rest), or downright irritated and he loves on us anyways. He can't wait to get home to see "his girls." And who else would suction out our snot and file down our nails? Mama is way too chicken to do it!

    Daddy cuddle collage

    Linking up to The Paper Mama, A Little King and I, Supermom, Naptime Momtog, Project Alicia, & and then, she (snapped)

    Tuesday, September 6, 2011

    breastfeeding beginnings.

    I never really intended for this blog to be an outlet for the nitty gritty mama stuff like breastfeeding or its challenges, but in my own experience of searching, searching, searching the web for advice and info about exclusively breastfeeding twins and how to do it, I figured I would put myself out there in case it might help another twin mama along. We need each other.

    Breastfeeding is hard. I do admit, I was pretty uppity about it before I had the babies and would get frustrated when I would hear moms say, "I couldn't breastfeed." Yeah, that's rude, and I know it. But now I get it. It's demanding. It hurts if you aren't doing it right. It can hurt if you are doing it right. It hurts when your milk starts to refill just minutes after finishing a feeding (nobody ever told me that!) And having an oversupply problem can be just as physically frustrating as an undersupply. There are so many moments that I wanted to just throw in the towel and say, "I just can't do it anymore." or even, "I just don't want to do it anymore."

    So now instead of being irritated, I want to be as encouraging as I can to mamas and say, "You CAN do it! It will take all that you have, and a little more, and a little more after that, but please stick with it!" In my extremely, vastly limited experience, I'd say give it a solid 8 weeks to try it out. And in the offchance that you really can not breastfeed at all, or decide it's just not for you, no guilt and no judgement. It is a very personal, and sometimes very spiritual, experience that every woman needs to own for herself.

    And what would I tell moms, twin or not, who are worried or having problems with their supply? Please, PLEASE rent a super nice hospital-grade pump for the first month! It will make all the difference in the world. It did for me. I kiss whoever created the Medela Symphony. Mwah. Seriously. Sometimes insurance will cover the cost. We paid out of pocket, and it was the best under-100 I ever spent. And pick up the book "Mothering Multiples" by Karen Gromada. Explore KellyMom. Also, learn how to manually express milk, because sometimes you'll get more than a pump would. Connect with another twin mama who has the same breastfeeding goals. Get the support you want and need.

    If you do go the pumping route, be forwarned that you will enter into a new and complex relationship outside of the relationship you have with your new baby(ies). A love-hate relationship that will leave you thanking God with tears of joy for the provision but also cursing the monotonous feeling of being milked. Just sayin'.

    Hours after the girls were born, the nurses hooked me up to a brand spanking new pump and told me to get at it, but with little instruction. I would quickly learn that pumping is an art unto itself, after experiencing clogged ducts and vacuum blisters before a Lactation Consultant finally told me I was doing it wrong. Why didn't they tell me that I didn't need to press down hard on the cups (phalanges) to begin with? Or to check the suction power on the older Medela pump that I rented to take home? Ouch!

    Plus, I wasn't really getting anything after pumping. I was completely freaked out that my milk would never come in, so I'd crank up the suction and hope that the sheer force would draw whatever even resembled colostrum out of my body. Not such a great idea, really. I would take a few mL's to the NICU with a despairing feeling, and pray that it would come soon and it would be plenty. When it did come in, I was ecstatic, and even more ecstatic to figure out that I got the most milk when I was close to the girls or right after holding them skin to skin. I set up the pump right in front of their isolettes and didn't leave for 12-16 hours. We left the NICU with a bag full of milk to start my home freezer stash.

    I pumped to mimic the girls' feeding schedule every 2.5 to 3 hours, no matter what, with the Medela at the NICU and the one I brought home, and only sometimes allowing myself a 4 hour break to sleep. If I did that, I'd make up for it with a "cluster pump" session the next day.

    Cluster pumping is something I found out about randomly, and I can't even remember how or where. But it helped me so much when I was trying to build my supply. Set aside an hour, pump for 10 minutes, rest for 10, pump for 10, etc. etc. Don't worry if you aren't getting much or any near the end, it's just the action of the pump that will help signal your body to make more milk. I did it every few days.

    So all that to say now, 8 weeks later, I'm not using the pump anymore. I've barely cracked my freezer stash. Correction - I used it for 10 minutes the other night when we were experimenting with night feedings, and I cursed that pump in my mind the whole time but watched with a nostalgic satisfaction as the ounces started to fill. I got way less than I know the girls eat, but I know that's normal now. As an LC said to me as I voiced my fears in the NICU about supply, "the pump is a machine, not a baby, and you'll never get as much with it as you will with your child. Your body knows!"

    And oh, although I am so, so thankful for the Pump and that I am making enough milk for both, sometimes I just hate it so much, because now I'm dealing with oversupply that we're trying to regulate. But then I love it because it allowed me to completely feed my babies without supplementing a full formula feeding ever, and will allow me to come back to it if I need it. So I love it. But hate it, too. But love it...(it really never ends).

    So please, be encouraged. You CAN do this! It is worth it. And the gift you are giving your child or children is immeasurable. Every week you go past their birth is a triumph. And you are awesome. 

    Update, November 2011: I went back to pumping 1-2x per day after hitting the brick wall that is sleep deprivation. Now, Andy bottle feeds one while I nurse the other at 1 a.m., and then we switch at the second night feeding at 4 a.m. When they start going longer than 3 hours at a stretch, I'll revisit it. It hasn't been so bad, though! Once more, YOU CAN DO IT! STICK WITH IT MAMA! 

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