Product Review: Convertible car seats

Convertible car seats are something everyone has to think about, sooner or later.  Some are cheaper and others cost as much as a monthly car payment!  With that being said, i polled our HDYDI writers for some great info on their favorite car seats.

Now before i go through all the important info.  I want to state something that is true to some.  If you can’t afford the BEST car seat out on the market, you buy what you can afford!  Although, i myself, have what the consumer reports say are the best and safest car seats, I have to say, a car seat is a car seat, and even the cheapest car seat is better, than not having one at all.  The reason i am saying this, is because, i know from personal experience, that some people can’t afford an expensive car seat.  I won’t mention names or people, but i have seen a few people in my days, that just can’t afford a nice car seat and have opted to, instead, just plop their little tiny babies in the back seat without a car seat AT ALL.  I can say, i have REALLY seen this happen before.  I felt so horrible, i wanted to go out and buy a few families i know, a car seat, just so the poor baby wasn’t hunched over in the regular car seat.  And, YES it is totally ILLEGAL to not have your child in a car seat.  BUT, if you can’t afford one, what do you do???  If you had a choice between, feeding your child & putting a roof over that child’s head, it’s not just so simple to go drop a few hundred dollars on a car seat.  SO, with all that being said, here is a summary of what our HDYDI writers had to say:

  • Best car seat is Britax(per consumer reports) and everyone else.

-there are many different kinds to choose from and they vary in price and go up to right around three hundred dollars each.  I say, before you purchase one, you should really check around.  Babies R Us gives a twin discount, but you have to ask for it.  ALWAYS ALWAYS ask for those discounts…i ask everywhere i go.  What is the worst that could happen, they say NO?   Also, check on line.  Albeebaby.com is a really great website to buy big ticket items & I’m sure there are MANY MANY other websites out there that do the same.  I personally know albeebaby.com is great.  They didn’t charge shipping either.

I could actually write a novel on car seats, which are the best, which are not so great, which have the safest ratings, and such.  But the problem with that, is that everyone has a different want in a car seat.  SAFETY is always number one.  BUT, size, price, weight, comfort and many other different things also apply to a car seat.

I’m going to do a bit of a summary on each Britax car seat.  I’m also going to go through a few cheaper car seats that work just as well, per consumer reports.

Britax ROUNDABOUT – which is the least expensive of the Britax and is one of the safest car seats on the market.   These car seats are not very hard to install and if you have a later model car, chances are, you may have those cool metal hooks that make hooking the car seat in a breeze.  Then always remember to anchor the car seat down with the other hook going over the back of the seat if you have a suv(not sure about cars).   You can use this seat rear facing for children up to 33lbs(which is actually a higher weight for a rear facing seat).   Front facing, these car seats will hold children up to 40lbs.  SO, if you have larger children..you may want to think about the marathon or Boulevard(which both hold children up to 65lbs).  One reason to buy the roundabout is because they are cheaper AND smaller(which is better for people with compact cars).

The Marathons are the larger version of the roundabout.  I think most of our moms have either this seat or the roundabout.  I, myself, have three of these and love them.  What i can say personally, is that they are pretty easy to get in and out of cars.  These are larger and heavier than the roundabout.  They are patented for the HUGS system, which is a type of harness that helps evenly distribute the weight of the child evenly in a crash.  I have never had any problems with the harness system, personally.  Per consumer reports, they do not do as well rear facing, on the car seat crash test b/c of the anchor.  BUT, forward facing, they are one of the best.   The cover also comes off easily.  The straps are fairly easy to adjust but you have to take the entire seat out of your car.  Also, here’s a lesson i learned on a long trip from TX to MO.  BUY A EXTRA CAR SEAT COVER FOR YOU CAR SEAT!  We went on a long road trip a few years ago and my daughter ended up getting rotavirus on the road and i won’t go into details.  BUT, we ende up in the ER and my hubby had to hose down the nasty car seat.  If we had just had an EXTRA seat cover, we would have been much better off.  Every trip since then, we carry a extra seat cover.  You can order them on line or buy them at different speciality stores.  They are semi-pricy, but definitely worth the money to me.

Britax Decathlon & Boulevard are the best of the best.  The Boulevard has some extra padding along the inside of the car seat for added head protection on side impact.  This foam is head adjustable.  There is also a belly pad, infant liner.  There are a few other bells and whistles on the Boulevard, but the one that really jumped out at me is that it has a new knob for adjusting the height on the straps w/o having to rethread them as your child grows.  This is not a huge deal, but just a small inconvenience for those of us that own the roundabout or marathon.

The Decathlon is mostly the same with the only change being three positions for the crotch belt, so it can be positioned further away or closer to the child.  Otherwise, everything else is the same.

Now, after reading some more info on consumer reports.  I also found that the Evenflo Triumph 5 is just as good as the britax and much cheaper(120).  I won’t go into to many details about this car seat.  But in a nutshell, consumer reports said that this seat rates just as high forward facing, although rear facing it was not as safe as a Britax.  This seat goes up to 40lbs, so like the roundabout, if you have larger children, you may want to opt out of this car seat and choose one of the larger britax that are able to hold a child up to 65lbs.

A New car seat out there is the Sunshine Kids Radian 65.  This car seat has yet to be tested by consumer reports, so they can only go with what parents are saying on different reviews.  These seats are right around two hundred dollars per seat.  This one is for children up to 65lbs and has only been reviewed in the forward facing position.

There is also a Sunshine Kids Radian 80, which holds a child up to 80lbs.  These are a bit more expensive, but if you have a larger child, this may be the way to go.  These seats run about 280 each, give or take a bit.  A few things to know about the Radian seats is: they are fold-able(makes it easier to carry these around and travel with them), they are also narrower and have a steel frame(unlike the plastic frame from Britax).  A few cons would be that they are heavier(b/c of the steel frame), the crotch strap is to restrictive & they both have height limits of 49 inches.  So, even though the radian 80 is for heaver children, their is a chance that they child can outgrow the height limit before they hit the 80lb mark.

Here’s a tid bit of info i found on consumer reports about these car seats:

Sunshine Kids Radian Granite Convertible Car Seat

Price Range: $199 – $200 at 3 stores

Sunshine Kids’ Radian Convertible Car Seat was conceptualized and designed around a set of strict safety and performance parameters. Radian positions the child’s center of gravity as low and as far back as possible on the vehicle seat for optimal restraint performance, especially in oblique-angled crashes, which is how most car accidents occur. The Radian Car Seat’s EPS safety foam around the child’s head, torso and seating area, providing increased safety for impact protection. The Radian Car Seat has 3” more interior shoulder width of any car seat in its class. Its unique design is more than 2” narrower on the outside making it easy to fit 3 seats across. A 3” longer seat bottom and the forward-facing recline option provides increased comfort for longer rides and more leg support for the older child.

With all that being said, i feel that there are different car seats out there, to fit different needs for each individual.  With my situation, we have a big car, so seat size was never a big problem.  Our problem was having to purchase a bench seat so that all three of our children were in the middle seat.  The third row of our car is now non-existent.  Since our first child was so young when our twins were born we had to put her in the middle and the girls on the side.  It was easy when the girls were still in their infant car seats.  We’d load her up in the middle and then plop the car seats in the bases.  After we bought our big car seats and faced them backwards, it became a challenge of how to get our middle one into the car.  She learned to climb underneath the rear facing car seat and hop into her own middle seat.  Then i’d get into the car and turn around to strap her in her seat.  Sometimes i’d get so frustrated, i’d just take her in through the front seat and let her climb from the front seat into the her car seat.  The other problem for us, was the Britax are SOO big and my husband is so tall he’d ram the back of the seat into the back of the rear facing car seat.  The really bad part of this was that we have t.v.s in the head rests of the front seats.  After it was all said and done and we flipped the girls car seats to forward facing, we found out he ended up breaking the drivers side head rest t.v.!  I guess if we had been smart, we would have just poped the t.v. out of the head rest for a few months.  Maybe my story will save someone else some money.  If you too, have t.v’s in your head rests and your babies are still rear facing, simply pop the t.v’s out if your hubby keeps ramming them into the back of the car seat!  :)

Lastly, here are a few tips to remember about car seat safety:

1. Don’t buy used car seats.  You don’t know where they are coming from and if they’ve ever been in a wreck or not.

2.  If you have a wreck, always replace the car seat.  Do NOT reuse it after it’s been in a wreck.  You have no idea what has been done to the seat during the crash.

3. The safest place for a car seat is in the back middle seat.  Obviously for those with more than one, that just isn’t an option.  I would do my best to keep them in the middle seat and not put children in the back seat if you have 3 rows.  Of course if you have more than three children, you don’t have an option on that one either.

4. A five point harness is much better than a regular safety belt.

5. Always keep the receipt when you purchase a car seat.  Just to make sure you know that the seat works in your car.

6. BRU lets you take the car seats out before you buy, go there if you are not sure if the car seat will fit in your car.

7. Always fill out the paperwork that comes with the car seat and send it in.  That way, if there are recalls, etc, you will receive a note in the mail notifying you of the recall.

8. Check reviews on the car seat of your choice.  Actually, i do this with EVERYTHING i buy now.  That way you know what other people think about the item you are planning on purchasing.  Those reviews are awesome.  I can’t tell you how many times i’ve backed out on purchasing something b/c of bad reviews.  Also, if you find something you don’t like about a car seat, etc.  Leave a review and help others out.  I write reviews on items all the time.

Lastly, here is the consumer report website for car seat reviews.

http://www.consumersearch.com/www/family/car-seats/review.html

BTW, if you find a car seat you love or dislike, leave a comment here to help others out.  OR, if i’ve missed something you think is imperative to know about a car seat(purchasing one, etc), please leave a comment.  I did my best to cover as much as possible, but like i said before, i could write a book on car seats(pro and cons of each one).  There are soo many out there and everyone has different wants, so there just isn’t a short way to cover every want of every parent.

Product Review: Crayola Art Products

As my girls are growing quickly, i’ve realized that it’s time to get them started on art projects(mainly coloring and scribbling). As i studied Elementary Education in College, i found that the earlier you introduce your children to coloring(scribbling) and different forms of art, the better. So with that being said, as soon as my girls were old enough to hold a crayon, i let them scribble away. There are many different items out there for young children, colors, markers, finger paints and more. Crayola has always been my brand of choice, as i know that they make non-toxic products and all but a few are washable.

For younger children i really like the plain ole’ crayola washable finger paints. Using finger paints is not only fun for the child, but helps them with fine and gross motor skills. The best way to use them is to get your child un-dressed out of anything except for a diaper and put them in a high chair and let them go crazy. You can give them a few colors at once…or just one at a time. Of course, you still have to supervise them and make sure they don’t just sit there and eat the paint. I love letting my girls finger paint and they really seem to love the feeling of the paint on and between their fngers. They also enjoy it because it’s nice and messy. BUT i think even more fun, is the bath they get AFTER they finger paint! Here is a link to the finger paints my girls like.

http://www.crayolastore.com/product_detail.asp?T1=CRA+55%2D0005

While talking about baths…i have to say we LOVE the crayola tub colors. The only issue i have with these colors is that…why would you put a WHITE crayon in the mix of colors when most bathtubs are WHITE??? I just take that color and throw it away since you can’t see it on the tub. BUT, the girls LOVE these crayons most of all..and they wipe right off your bathtub. Just be careful not to let them have more than one at a time because if they fall in the water they slowly melt away. My girls are really bad at wanting all the crayons to hold on to, in the tub. But after we went through one entire set of crayons in one bath setting i learned my lesson and only give them one color at a time. Here is a link to the crayons. I know you can get them at Target and walmart…i think i’ve even seen them at grocery stores and different pharmacy’s!

http://www.crayolastore.com/product_detail.asp?T1=CRA+023002

Another idea is just a set of big crayons. They are harder to break and the child has more to hold on to when coloring. These are great on working on fine motor skills. Here is a link to the crayons: http://www.crayolastore.com/product_detail.asp?T1=CRA+52%2D008T

Along with the giant crayons, we’ve found the following coloring pages quite nice for small children. They are big and the chances of drawing on anything other than their paper is small. http://www.crayolastore.com/product_detail.asp?T1=CRA+80%2D8302

One last great product made by crayola that we really enjoy, are the color wonder, coloring books and markers. They are nice and clean and mess free. I’m not sure at what age you can use them…but all 3 of my girls love coloring on these coloring books. Here is a link to the color wonder coloring books we use. They are great and so nice and clean.

http://www.crayolastore.com/product_detail.asp?T1=CRA+07%2D2404

One product i did not find i liked for smaller children, were the following markers for children 18 months and up:

http://www.crayolastore.com/product_detail.asp?T1=CRA+80%2D5800&SKW=CRA18MON&menu=&subcat=&hdr=

The reason i don’t recommended these markers, is because they drip color/marker. I had originally planned to use these in the car while we were on our trip to Florida, not to long ago. THANK GOODNESS i didn’t pull those out for the kidos in the car. One day not to long ago i pulled them out to let the girls color with them and they were a mess! I mean color all over the place. To be quite honest, when i tried them myself, they dripped so much color I made a mess, myself!

When i bought the markers, i also bought the crayons that are marked 18 + months. These crayons are ok, but just not all that they are made out to be. I brought them out for my girls and they tried to color, but the round bottoms are so big, its hard for children with small hands to hold on to them. My suggestion is to stick with the old fashoined big crayons and not even bother with the markers or crayons that are made for the 12+ & 18+ children. They cost more and definitely aren’t worth the money.

While checking out the crayola website i found a great book on childrens artwork and celebrating the scribble. I have yet to read it…but i’m going to check and see if they sell it on amazon and check it out myself.

http://www.crayolastore.com/product_detail.asp?T1=CRA+1893622

While talking about coloring and different coloring products, i also thought i’d share this cool website. We visit this website on rainy days and normally i let my 4 year old go through and choose a few pics to color. I also let her pick out a few pics for her sisters to color. These pictures are great because they aren’t just “coloring book” pages…they are educational. So, while your children are coloring, you can teach them about the number or letter they are coloring.

http://www.coloringcastle.com/number_coloring_pages.html

If you have any other great art items you can’t live without, please leave a comment so we can all try them.

Product Review: Sippy Cups-The good v/s The Bad

When i first started working on transitioning my girls to sippy cups, it became a chore to find one that they really liked.  I, like most moms, probably went through way too many cups and way to much money, because there are soo many sippy cups on the market these days.  After the avent bpa bottle recall, i was able to take all of my bottles back and since my girls had just been weaned off of bottles, i had a “bottle/sippy cup” credit for new products at Babies R US(if you haven’t taken your bpa bottles back…do so soon, as the days go by, BRU becomes more strict with what you can and can’t do with these bottles…i wanted a credit and they told me to either pick out sippy cups or wait till you need some and see what the rules are at that time)!  I  went ahead and picked out a ton of sippy cups..and i was ecstatic, because it gave me the advantage of turning in all my bottles, that were used, and in return, get NEW sippy cups!  I had a credit of almost fifty dollars towards sippy cups!  My sippy cup drawer is over-flowing with different kinds of new sippy cups.  My husband was so frustrated, because he thought i should have bought ONE kind, so not to get all the parts confused(typical man).   I did the opposite, i bought one of every kind of sippy cup i had not previously owned, to see if there REALLY IS one sippy cup, that is truly spill and leak proof. 

Not to long ago, I also polled our MOM Writers and asked them, what their favorite and least favorite sippy cup was, and why?  I received a TON of feedback, so, thanks ladies!  So with that, here is a list of our favorite and not so favorite sippy cups.  Keep in mind, as with bottles, every child has a preference for sippy cups.  BUT, i feel that as children get older that can change and you go with what works for YOU.  Your baby will adjust and for me it was way more about what worked, what didn’t leak and what had the smallest amout of parts to wash.

OUR Favorite Sippy Cups:

 Nuby 12 oz flip It - no spill straw cup- these also come in 9 oz for the smaller kidos, Gerber trainer cups-soft spout are great and help transition from bottle nipples to sippy cups, Take n toss are wonderful and do the trick-only problem is the lids crack if you bite down to hard and they also leak-but so cheap how can you go wrong, Munchkin staw cupsBorn Free sippy cups-6 month have soft spout and don’t leak unless you shake them-9oz have hard spout and don’t work as well, Nalgene Grip n’ Gulp (BPA free)-work well without the valve, Nuby (the cheap ones from Walmart with valve-free spout)-are great but have lots of parts and you have to line them up just so…but they don’t leak and won’t explode when thrown, Playtex Sipsters and KEEP the valves in, Gerber and Dr. Browns are really good too.

Our least favorite sippy cups:

Avent Magic Trainer cup-too many pieces to put together, kids didn’t hold the handle correctly, they leak and you have to make sure the spout is pushed in far enough, to top all that off the shape was cumbersome, The First Years character series(Elmo, etc.)-the hole at top wasn’t big enough to let in enough air, so very little liquid came out,  The First Years-Learning Curve wide straw flip cover(princess Charcters)-LEAK LEAK LEAK, Sigg-great concept, but leaked everywhere, FOOGO by Thermos Leak-Proof 7oz sippy with handles-blue-but too heavy and complicated to take apart and reassemble for everyday use/but they are great b/c they will keep liquids cold for long periods

One mom found a awesome website, in which you are able to replace some parts of some sippy cups.  Mostly, more recent sippy cups.  So if you are looking for a certain piece that your child has chewed up or a piece you have lost, check out the following site:   http://www.goodforthekids.com/item.php?item_id=222

Having a almost 4 year old and my 19 month old twins, i’ve been through a ton of sippy cups myself.  SO, here are my own favorite sippy cups: 

Playtex baby einstein(but they have a hard spout, Playtex with flip straw, Gerber soft spout for younger babies(we started out with these at 6 months), Nubys are great but my daughter chews the spouts up pretty quickly and it makes me nervous that she could swallow a piece her and there, the first years hard spout are great and don’t leak, But my all time favorite that have NEVER leaked are, Playtex hard spout 6 & 9 oz with soft plastic valve inside(they make insulated and non insulated ones and we love them all). 

So, now its your turn!  Leave a comment and let us know, what is your favorite sippy cup and why?   

What you need for trip to the ER!

Since i now have first hand knowledge of a trip to the ER, i thought i’d post on the essentials needed for a emergency trip to the ER.   Please know i’m not wishing anyone, ever have to go to the ER, as i have.  But let’s face it, things happen, kids get sick, kids break arms & legs, kids fall down and get little cuts and most of these things end up happening on the weekends, when you can’t just take your child to the doctors office.

My Er trip truly began(although i didn’t know) with a fun trip to the splash pad, on Friday.  I met a few fellow twin mommies and we decided to hang out with our kidos for a few hours.  As i was putting one of my twins back in the car, i noticed she had a bite on the back of her ankle that looked like a mosquito bite.  IF you live in TX, you know all about our Texas size mosquito’s(better known as skeeters to us)!  I got all the kidos loaded up and headed home.  The one twin that had the bite never made a squeak when she was bitten, so i didn’t think much of the whole ordeal.  Fast Foward to Saturday morning, i pulled off her footie pj’s and there is a gigantic bruise like bump on her ankle but not where the actual bite was located.  I called my hubby in to check it out and he also thought it looked pretty bad, considering it had been almost 24 hours since the unknown bug actually bit her.  We decided to keep an eye on it.  I called our local drug store to get the measurements for bendaryl, as i thought maybe that would help pretty quickly.  She has never had an allergic reaction to anything and had been bitten not to long ago, by a sick bee that somehow managed to get into our house and into the girls bedroom.  So, as time went by yesterday, i checked it and it seemed to get bigger and bigger by the hour.  After a bit of conversation with my hubby i decided it was time to call the doctor.  I was able to get a hold of the dr. immediately and was on my way to the ER by myself within 20 minutes of time.  She told me that chances are, it was a staph infection, if the bite didn’t seem to be going down with the benadryl.   Doctors are always a bit anti-Er because of the chance that your child can end up picking up more in the Er than what you were going for, in the first place.  But, this time, my doctor sounded differently.  She sounded more concerned, which in turn really had me worried! 

Rushing through the house i packed as much as i thought we’d need for a few hour trip.  I grabbed the diaper bag, added some snacks, a jacket for the baby, sanitizer wipes, a sippy cup, checked my purse for insurance card, credit card, cash for parking, cell phone and my saving grace was: the dollar book i had just bought the day before at target full of pictures of animals(since my twins are major animal lovers). 

We rushed off to the hospital for our first run at the ER.  I was scared out of my mind.  I have been one time before this and that was when my oldest daughter was 20 months and we were on the way to a wedding in MO.  We had stopped for a day of enjoyment in AR and on our way to the hot springs my big girl began to vomit in the car.  She kept on and on and on.  We sped back to the hotel as fast as we could that day and finally by about 7p we decided the vomiting hadn’t stopped and we needed to go in to the ER in AR.  That was scary, but that day i was with my hubby so it wasn’t soo scary.  On the contrary, this time, i was on my own.  Someone had to stay home with our other two kidos, and I, being the mommy that cares for our children on a day to day basis, we both agreed it’d be better if i took her to the ER.  My twins had NEVER been apart until yesterday.  Luckily, the other twin was sleeping because we were really worried she’d have a break down if she saw her sister leaving and she couldn’t go along with her.  The rest of the trip is not all that important.  Luckily, the ER was actually not packed on a Saturday afternoon and i was able to get checked in, vitals taken and into a room within a good 45 minutes.  The dr. came in almost immediately and we were done with the actual visit in about one hour.  The hard part was waiting afterwards.  The back office people must have had many more important things to do yesterday, because we sat in that room for a good hour to hour and a half after the actual doctor came in, just waiting for the paperwork lady to come in and give me our discharge papers.  UGH…what a waste of time.  That time was when my handy dandy bag o tricks really paid off.  I think my daughter and i went through my entire purse a couple of times.  She probably had ten to twenty conversations on my powered down cell phone, turned into toy phone.  We had water for her to drink, a book we read a good twenty or maybe thirty times and snacks to keep her calm. 

All in all, my Er visit wasn’t as bad as i had thought. 

My few suggestions to every mom out there would be:

1. always have your diaper bag packed(diapers, snacks, toys, diaper wipes, an empty bottle or sippy cup and maybe even a bottle of water & formula if your child is still under one)

2. Always keep your insurance cards, credit cards, and a few dollars in your wallet.  I’m bad at getting out my cc to purchase something on line and forgetting to put the card back in my purse right away.  I’m also really bad at not carrying cash in my wallet. 

3. Be prepared and stay as calm as you can(now make note, if you are calling 911 and it’s a MAJOR emergency you don’t worry about any of these things as they won’t be of a concern if you child is that sick).  I’m writing this for those, who are driving to the emergency room and have a second or two to grab things as you are headed out the door and your taking your baby in the car with YOU.

4. Keep the number to your pedi’s office in your wallet somewhere.  I even keep the “emergency/after hours number” written down on the back of the dr’s card so i don’t have to call the pedi’s office and wait for the darn answering machine to pick up and then have to write down the Emergency number.  Writing the emergency number down ahead of time will save you a few steps. 

5. Also, call your Pedi ahead of time, if you can, so she/he can call the hospital to let them know you are on your way.  My dr. was great and they knew who i was when i walked in the door. 

6. Plan ahead and have someone that can babysit if need be.  Luckily i haven’t had to deal with that yet. But there may be a time when my hubby is at work or out of town and i have no idea what i’d to with my other children.  I still need to work on a backup plan on what to do if i don’t have anyone in home to watch my kids.  Maybe talk to a neighbor or nearby relative or just have some sort of back up sitter, just in case.

7. Always have a hospital in the back of your mind.  It’s kinda like being prepared for labor.  Maybe figure out what hospital you’ll go to and take a quick drive to that hospital and do a dry run.  Yesterday i had NO IDEA where i was going.  I had to do a few circles to find the right parking garage.  Then i didn’t know where to go in and what elevator to take.  Then i had to find the ER.  I guess i could have valet parked in the case of a true emergency, but it’s still good to know where to go and where the actual emergency room is so your not walking around in a daze with a sick child.

I know this is kinda a debbie downer for a post.  But i feel that everyone with children that has not made a trip to the ER, can and maybe will benefit from my first experience to the ER.  We all know that sometimes things happen and you just never know if or when you may need to make a trip to the ER.  Being prepared ahead of time saves a few extra minutes if indeed you ever do(hopefully not) have to make a ER run. 

I have to say, now that i have been once, i’m not SOO scared.  The first time is always very frightening because you don’t know what to do.  Now, i know, if the need every arises again i’ll know where to go, what to do and what to take with me.  Having three kids for me, means i’m three times as likely to end up taking a child to the ER…i made it through my first trip.  Now, hopefully i’ll never have to do it again!

Happy Late 4th of July-Supporting our troops-Product Reviews will commence Next Week!

Instead of a product review for today, i decided to do something a little different for this weekend’s post.

While i was watching the Thursday morning news, there was a small segment on supporting our troops, who are away fighting for our freedom. Since most of us are celebrating our countries independence day(eating yummy hot dogs and hamburgers, playing in our kiddie pools or maybe real big people pools if you are lucky enough to have one, sleeping in comfortable beds at night, popping fireworks, and in all reality living the American life) and some families have loved ones away, fighting for OUR country. I felt a bit guilty and sad that some families aren’t spending their 4th of July with their loved ones, while i was enjoying the first REAL nice, enjoyable 4th of July as a complete family. I also had this feeling that even though my oldest daughter is only 4, i need to start teaching her about giving back, as well as things we shouldn’t, but sometimes take for granted. I have to say, i’m guilty of taking our freedom for granted(and please do NOT take this the wrong way). But sometimes i Do indeed forget that we are all very fortunate and even if we don’t have tons of money, we still have our freedom, living in the good ole USA! Since I was born and raised here…sometimes it takes growing up(and becoming an adult), to realize how important it is that we do have our freedom.

I’m also, embarrassed to say, i have never done anything for our troops. I totally support them, but i only know one soldier personally, that has gone overseas, to fight in the army. I think if i had known more people personally, i would have done things differenly. Anyway, after i saw the segment on the news. i decided i needed to pitch in and help.

The segment on TV was mainly about giving back to our troops. You can give back in many ways, donate items, send money, make a care package and send it to someone you actually know, or go on line and donate. I, myself, chose to go online and donate what is most important to the soldiers…a phone call to your loved ones. This entails sending a phone card to a soldier over seas. If you know someone, you can put in the name and address, otherwise they will give the phone card to a random soldier(which i have NO IDEA how the soldier is chosen). It’s very easy to do and very safe..esp if you already have a paypal account. So with that being said, i went in and donated money to http://www.angelsstore.org. I’m sure there are many other organizations that you can donate to, it was just the first one that popped up when i typed in support our troops into google.

I am, in no way, asking everyone to donate money to a soldier, etc. I’m just really stating that it’s important during this long 4th of July weekend, to not only remember that we have our independence as a country, and eat lots of yummy food…but to also remember those that are fighting for our country and just as important are those that have lost their lives for our country.

I do not want to make this post political, because i’m not the political type. But i think everyone should, in some way, support our country. If you pray, then pray. If you have the money to donate, then donate. If you have the time to go make a care package to send, then that is great too. I’m sure anything is greatly appreciated by anyone and everyone. I also know, at the same time, we all have twins and with twins comes less money, more to buy in diapers and formula and definitely less time. SO, if you don’t have the time to do anything…that is OK! Don’t feel bad, don’t feel like you have to, and please don’t feel like i’m making anyone that hasn’t given, in any way feel guilty. That is not my point in this posting.

With that all being said, i hope everyone had a happy and safe 4th of July!

I’ll be back next week with more product reviews. But this week, i just felt i needed to express how thankful i am to have my freedom & of course, my family.

BTW, why is it that once your child hits 3 or 4, they feel the need to make faces at the camera instead of sit still for the whole 2 seconds it would have taken me to get one good picture! :)

Product Review: Our Favorite choice of bottles!

Very late on the post for today!  Sorry MOMS, but my weekend was C-R-A-Z-Y!  If you were wondering why?  Well, my sister, who is prego with her second child, hasn’t been feeling very well lately.  SO, being the nice sister i am, i volunteered to have HER daughter over for the weekend.  She is 3 months younger than my older daughter, so it was REALLY like having 2 sets of twins.  With that being said, GOD BLESS you ladies who indeed DO have two sets of twins.  The older ones were fun…but it was chaotic.  A semi-organized chaos…but Chaos non the less.  Entertaining four children is A LOT of WORK!  BUT, crazy fun!  We ended our evening with a slumber party for the big girls…and me on the floor in the room going back and forth to the bathroom, since both of the big girls are potty trained! 

Ok, now on to my post! 

I had decided earlier this week to do a post on sippy cups and bottles.  But after polling all our HDYDI MOM writers, I felt i received SOO much info back, that i’m going to do one post on bottle this weekend and another post on sippy cups another weekend.  WHEW, talking about lots of input!  :)

BTW, thanks for all your input, ladies! 

First, let me say that every pedi i’ve met, will say that breast feeding is the best way to feed your child, for the first year of life.  And i totally agree with that!  BUT, along the same line, if you are reading this, then you more than likely have twins or multiples and breast feeding becomes even more difficult and most women I know personally, either ended up pumping and feeding or just using good ole’ formula(which, by the way is JUST as good as breast milk, it just doesn’t include the immunities your baby gets from you when breast feeding).  I, myself, pumped and fed for a while.  But due to exhaustion, frustration and my girls not really liking my milk, i ended up feeding them formula from about 6 weeks on.  I’m embarrassed and sad to say, i had a FREEZER FULL of breast milk, i ended up pouring down the drain, because my girls REALLY didn’t like it, wouldn’t drink it and cried when i tried to feed it to them!  Weird, i know.  BUT, when you are already all stressed out and exhausted, you do what you have to do to keep your head above water.   

Second, let me say, with all the BPA info going around, i don’t want to point anyone in the wrong direction.  AND most importantly, every child is different so you really have to use your own intuition on the bottle dilemma.  I, myself, have gone through too many bottles in the past 4 years and honestly never really found a bottle i REALLY liked enough to really emphasize that much.  I started out with the gerber bottles and similiac nipples with my first daughter.  Those actually worked great.  That is, until i found i couldn’t just go purchase the similiac(disposable) nipples at the store.  I searched and searched and the only way i found them, was by buying them on ebay for a large amount of money.  

With my twins, things were very different.  I decided to try a different kind of bottle because i didn’t want to go searching for those darn nipples AGAIN!  SO, we bought avent bottles and nipples.  They worked, but ALWAYS seemed to leak.  The babies would be drenched from the neck to the belly button in liquids and i just couldn’t seem to ever figure out how to screw those darn lids on right.  I finally asked my sister what i had been doing wrong.  She actually said there is a gasket on the lids(don’t ask me where or how it works), but that if you screw them on too tight(too many times), you can strip the gasket and they will leak forever.  Uh, that’s probably why mine leaked till the end.  I just learned to use a burb towel underneath their chin, every time i fed a baby.  That makes for TONS of laundry and a very unhappy mom! 

As i polled our MOM writers, here is the feedback i received from others, who used bottles. 

Most moms LOVED Dr. Browns(lots of pieces though)

Playtex ventaire wide were good

avent was good(i, myself, didn’t like the leaks and trying to screw them on just right, as i stated above),

medela were good(BPA free, i think)

Gerber/Gerber clear view were good

evenflo/glass evenflo(which i’m pretty sure are BPA free)

Also note: medela rings & caps leaked badly for one mom, so instead she used gerber caps.

Well, i think that sums all that up, quite quickly and appropriately.  As one MOM stated, each baby has his/her own preference.  SO, we could all go on and on about what is good and what is not good all day long. BUT, My best suggestion is(if you have the money and patience), buy a few kinds and try them out.  SEE for yourself, which one works the best, which on your child likes, which ones don’t leak and most importantly which ones are BPA free.  I went on my weekly target excursion the other day and it seemed like the new thing is the born free bottles.  I don’t have any first hand experience with them, so i can’t say either way. If you do have your own suggestions..please feel free to leave comments!  It may help a fellow MOM and/or pregnant MOM, awaiting the big day! 

With all this being said, i’d like to share a pic of ONE of the best days of a twin mommies life: This was the VERY FIRST day Sarah & Samantha held their bottles and my hands were FREE at last!  Ahh..the joys of having two babies at the same time! 

 

Product Review: Wagon V.S. Stroller

I know most of us MOMS, love our strollers…it’s our main form of transportation for at least the first year after our twins were born.   Because lets just face it, trucking around twins or higher order multiples, is not as easy as scooping up one baby out of the car and putting his/her car seat in a grocery basket or carrying one baby around in a baby carrier.

My first stroller for the twins, was the double snap n go, which was great, once i finally figured out how to use it correctly.  There was always a little thought in the back of my mind, that the baby seat would flip over for some reason.  The stroller itself was sturdy, but sometimes i’d struggle to pop the darn thing in right.  Oh how i remember times in the mall parking lot, sweat dripping from my head in the 100 degree temps, struggling to get the darn things popped in just right.  I’d pop one car seat in and then the second one would not pop in right…i’d have to pull it off and try to place it in the darn thing in a different way. Then a few times i’d hit a bump and not actually use the little strap that goes across(because who has time to strap those in when your sweating and have two crying babies and people are walking by staring) the car seat and it would flip forward or backwards(in a rocking motion).  We used the double snap n go until the girls hit 8 months and moved on to the big girl car seats.

Well, after we moved up to the big girl car seats i knew it was time to invest in another stroller.  I had already bought a graco duo glider when the girls were babies, in hopes of taking some nice quiet walks.  That didn’t happen and they HATED the darn stroller from the get go.  On top of that, i was always scared the one in the front was going to somehow slip out and i’d run her over with the stroller.  To me, the Graco duo gliders just aren’t made for small infants, unless you plop the whole car seat in and use it like a snap n go.  Maybe i didn’t have the baby put in right…not real sure.  But i know, the baby in front always cried the whole walk and it would break my heart.  It became so unpleasant to walk, that i gave that one up and decided to try another stroller.

After i bought the duo glider and parked it in the living room, i decided i needed a double jogging stroller(keep in mind, i have never went jogging, a day in my life).  I went to a local MOMS garage sale bright and early one morning and scooped up a nice one, for one hundred dollars!  I thought i had gotten a GREAT deal and was soo excited when i got home with it.  Who doesn’t love a great deal on a nice stroller, right?  We decided to use it for our first March of Dimes walk.  We cleaned it all up and never tried it out, till that day.  WHAT a day it was!  The girls cried and cried the ENTIRE 3 mile walk.  What a nightmare!  After that, that double jogging stroller made it’s way to the little storage shed in the back of our yard and hasn’t seen the light of day since then.

We had a lot of luck with our single maclaren for my first daughter, so we checked into a few of  maclaren double strollers.  We found a nice one on Craigslist for a great price, since it had only been used a few times and was in mint condition, we thought it would be perfect(i think we paid 125). I used it until they were about a year old.  This stroller was nice but didn’t have little snack or drink trays in front of them.  So in all reality, it was only good for short trips to walgreens or brief trips to mall.   Plus, it didn’t have a drink holder up top for mom and the handles were so far apart, it was hard to hook a diaper bag across it.  Later i found out, you can purchase some kind of hook at BRU and i’ sure on line, that hook on to the handles to hook your shopping bags on and i also found after the fact, a little mesh sort of organizer that hooks across both handles and has a cup holder, although the cup holder doesn’t look very stable(maybe more for water than a hot coffee or a can of coke.)  And water is NOT what a new mom of twins should be drinking right?  Well maybe, but it was never on my list of drinks, it’s usually coffee or some sort of caffeinated drink.  Otherwise how would we make it though the day?

The girls next new “ride” they received for their first birthday and Christmas presents combined.  I convinced my mom & dad to buy them a step 2 choo choo wagon and add the third caboose for my other daughter.  It looked nice, and i really thought the girls might enjoy being able to see everything around them.  We took it everywhere with us.  It was a bit of a pain, to load it in and out of my suburban, but the girls really loved the ride.    We have fallen in love with this wagon.  Now, at 18 months i actually take the choo choo wagon everywhere i go.  It’s not heavy and it has replaced my stroller!  Why, you might ask?  Well, because my girls love to look around.  When we had them in a stroller, they couldn’t see all around them, and they fought like cats and dogs on top of getting bored really easily.  I felt like they just didn’t enjoy themselves and i never enjoyed the trip myself.  Fighting and crying are not on the top of my list of exciting and fun journeys out with my girls.  On top of that, it was hard to clean if the girls ate food while sitting in it, and i couldn’t see what they were doing while i was pushing them.

So my point of this blog, is to really put some thought into what you really want when you purchase a stroller or wagon.  Most moms i know love their duo glider and most used the double snap n go, prior to that.   I, on the other hand, have gone through WAY too many different kinds of strollers, only to find out that my girls just aren’t stroller babies.  My girls love being able to see everything around them.  Too bad i didn’t figure this out prior to purchasing my duo glider, maclaren & double jogging stroller.  The double snap n go was perfect and fit our needs perfectly.  But we could have done without the other three strollers.  I finally sold my dou glider for 3/4ths of what i paid for it, since i literally used it twice.  The jogging stroller is still in my backyard shed & the Maclaren is now parked in the parking lot in our formal dining room!  My step 2 choo choo wagon lives in my suburban.  We take it everywhere with us!

Product Review: Some Fun & Some Necessary products to have for those hot summer days!

Living down South makes for some HOT summer months for my family and anyone else that lives anywhere near the Gulf of Mexico!  I love the heat…but the humidity added to the heat really drives you crazy!  It’s not fun to go outside and play by the end of May or Early June(it’s even hard to breathe some days), unless we go out in the morning hours.   BUT, with a house full of children, you do what you can to get them outside, so we don’t all go stir crazy.

These past few hot weeks have been surrounded by bottles of sunscreen, drinking water, bathing suits, OFF-Family for the Texas size mosquito’s and tons of water play! 

Before i begin with the fun stuff…i wanted to do a little rant on, water and sun safety.

Sunscreen is always number one on my list, when playing outside.  Since being at the beach for a week i’ve had plenty of chances to try out different new improved sunscreens for children.  This year there seem to be a plethora of new kinds of sunscreen to buy.  One of my FAVORITE sunscreens was the pampers brand sunscreen that went on clear and sprayed out evenly.  The spf 50 was nice and really kept the girls from any sort of burn, the entire time we were at the beach.  We also tried a few other brands, Coppertone was also good, again sprays on clean and evenly, but only spf 30.  Lastly, we tried Banana Boat, which was NOT all that good.  It sprayed on…but you still had to rub it in and also gave us all an extra greasy feeling.  I don’t think the pampers brand is carried at many stores and to be honest, don’t remember where i bought it.  BUT, i’m pretty sure BRU carries it…andi’d spend the extra dollar or two for the pampers any day, over the Coppertone or banana boat.  Keep in mind, when using these new sprays, watch for wind and eyes.  Today, as i was spraying one of the girls at a local splash pad the wind was blowing pretty badly and the sunscreen ended up in the other babies eyes.  Also, another down fall to using this new clear sunscreen is that you really have no way of knowing for sure if you covered the entire body.  So keep that in mind and spray and re-spray b/c you can never be too safe with the sunscreen! 

Now, since i’m writing about water and safety, i’d like to mention an article about “DRY DROWNING” that i read the other day, that really had me scared.  Here is the article : http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/24982210/from/ET/

I’m pretty good about safety and things like that, it’s almost like an instinct you get the minute you become a mother or father.  Anyway, i had no idea and had never heard of this until a fellow MOM emailed this to our group the other day.  It’s really scary and you have to be aware of the signs.  Luckily, my girls don’t like the big pools(or they didn’t when we were in FL), so we lived at the splash pad where the water is no deeper than a foot and we watched them very closely to make sure they didn’t inhale water…or we did the best job we could considering your not going to keep every drop of water out of their mouth when your playing in this huge pool of water.   So please be careful and take extra precautions to know the signs of dry drowning!

Also, know the signs of sun burn and call a dr. immediately, if you think your child has any sort of burns.  Sun burns can turn into blisters and some can even be as bad as a 1st, 2nd or 3rd degree burn, which can in turn get infected and do major damage to anyone’s body.  We had a fellow mom who’s child ended up with blisters all over his back the other day and had to take him to the dr. immediately, as he wouldn’t allow anyone to touch him or put anything on it.  Red hair, fair skinned children are much more apt to get burned really badly, so those of you with those beautiful red head children, please be extra careful out in the sun as red hair and pale skin are much more of an attraction to the sun and burning.  Although any child can get a sun burn if not properly protected from the sun.

And lastly, but just as important, is to hydrate your children as well as yourself!  Keep those ice chests full of water, Gatorade and whatever else your children like to drink.  Even if they don’t like water…make sure they drink something. 

Now to the fun stuff!  Some great items out there for a wet day in the sun!  Since most of us are on a budget and our wallets are emptying by the minute, as the gas prices reach 4.00 per gallon,  I have found some pretty nice and cheap toys that will entertain any child during the hot summer months.   

One item you need before you even hit the water, are swim diapers.  I’ve found that the little swimmers are great and work really well.  I can’t even imagine what we did before swim diapers were invented.  If you are lazy as i am some days…you can put a swim diaper on…spray the baby with tons of sunscreen and skip the swim suit all together.  We do it all the time…and who doesn’t like the idea of TWO less items to put in the washer?

Along with sunscreen & swim diapers, the one major product everyone with children old enough to sit up needs, is a baby pool.  Target and Walmart have many kinds of pools, which are good for all ages.  I lean towards the plastic 1 foot deep baby pool since we have dogs and our lab, in particular loves to get in with the girls…drink the water and steal the girls toys.  For the smaller children, they have blow up pools with the little shades on them and you can probably put in an inch or two of water and make any baby happy! 

There are also the pools that are for the toddlers, that are a bit more entertaining.  We actually have one of these http://www.walmart.com/catalog/product.do?product_id=9729614 at grandma & grandpa’s in KS and Hannah has had a blast playing in it, every since she was a year old!  These play pools are nice because they are soft and comfy, have different things to play with and most include a slide that is tons of fun for the older children.  There are some that you can connect a hose to and water shoots out of them, just like a sprinkler!   

Of course if you have a pool, don’t forget pool toys.  I’m cheap about the pool toys.  Now a days i load up the bath toys and take them outside and they work out just fine.  I also throw in a bucket or two and maybe a few cups and the girls always have a blast!  Make sure to always empty out the pool as soon as you are finished due to drowning issues.  You just never know if your child could some how slip out the door and end up back in the pool you forgot to drain. 

We also just bought a new sprinkler for the girls at target.  The one we bought resembles a worm and has a ton of hands flapping around spraying water.  The problem with this item, is that the hands get stuck together and the water hits pretty hard.  Needless to say we put the more expensive kiddie sprinkler up in the garage for another year or so and brought out the nice cheap round grass sprinkler.  Kinda sad that we went and spent 10.00 on a kiddie sprinkler and ended up using the regular grass sprinkler after all.  So, my suggestion is use what you have around the house and try those out before you go purchase some nice fancy colorful sprinkler that may not even work as well as the one you already have in the garage! 

Have a wonderful summer!  Most importantly, be safe and have fun!

O yes, and as Krissy said, HAPPY FATHERS DAY TO ALL THE WONDERFUL FATHERS OUT THERE! 

 

 

Product Review: Some "MUST HAVE'S" for a road trip with children…

Since we just got back from our road trip to FL and made it back in one piece, I thought i’d write on some great products that i found helpful when traveling with children. I have to say, my hubby was NOT happy about the amount of money i spent on “STUFF” for the trip….but some things were necessary in my book. SO, i bought them and just didn’t tell them or show them to him till we were loading up to go! HA!

Of course the absolute “must have” for a long road trip is always a dvd player. Whether it be one you put in the middle of the two front seats or just a portable lap dvd player…this was the biggest life saver for our trip. Along with that you must always have tons of DIFFERNT dvd’s to watch. When our first child was born we did many road trips back and forth to KS to see my husbands parents. We had ONE DVD…Barney. We played the same one over and over again. I can still recite it to you word for word! We finally decided to break down and buy some more dvd’s for this trip. We had a total of 9 dvd’s and we made sure that a few were longer than 1 hour. The girls LOVE animals so i made sure to get a couple that included animlas: Milo & Otis and “The Jungle book” were two of their favorites. We also bought 6 dvd’s of different “wiggles” shows! Those were a big hit.

Another must have is a pillow and blanket for each child. In place of an actual pillow, a fellow MOM friend of mine, suggested i purchase those neck pillows for the girls since it would be such a long trip. I bought them and they were really great because they helped the girls keep their heads from drooping when they fell asleep in their car seats. You can buy them at target for about 12.00 – 14.00 each. DO NOT purchase the cute kiddy ones though, i bought the cute little pink piggy ones the first time and ended up taking them back as my hubby pointed out that the nostril of the piggy was sticking out and was going to end up poking them in the head the whole time.

Another product i ended up buying at Babies R Us, was a little table like thing that goes over their laps for snacks, drinks and anything else you may want to put in front of your child(17.00 each). There are many different kinds…some hard plastic, some were flexible plastic & padding underneath that is comfortable on their legs. The girls loved the one i bought for each of them and it was very easy to secure with two little clips(one on each side of the seat). It was also pretty stable and we’d snap it on when it was time for a snack or drink. My almost 4 year old also kept her’s in front of her so she could draw and color some, while watching the movies. These were a great investment and we’ll be able to use them over and over again.

We also broke down and bought one of those plug in ice chests at Walmart for 50.00. This was a great investment for us because we were on the road for 12-13 hours at a time and i wanted to take milk for the girls. Having one of these plug in ice chests guaranteed that their milk would stay cold and we didn’t have to deal with ice or melting ice/water on the trip.

I also bought some fun new things for the girls. I went to target and bought about 10 new books at the dollar section and that way they had “NEW” toys and books to play with on the trip. Some of those water pens that you fill with water but it will only work on one certain kind of paper. That way if you have younger children..they can still play with these because the pen has water in it and drawing all over the car won’t hurt…it’s only water! :)

Most importantly, we bought a really cool “on the go potty” for our, almost 4 year old. This potty was actually a life saver. We had a couple of times where Hannah would have to potty, but we really didn’t want to make a big stop(get kids out, let them run around, etc.), Instead, we’d pull off of the highway, find an empty parking lot and pull out that potty. She’d potty, i’d put her back in her car seat(while the whole time the car is running, my hubby is in the front seat and the movie is still on to distract the other two kidos). Then, once she was done, we just knotted it, and put the potty back in the back and kept moving. This took a total of maybe 3-5 minutes total. The alternate, which is getting out at Mcdonalds or a truck stop, takes much longer…and to be quite honest…i hate germs so the potty is much cleaner for me. No chance she’ll touch a dirty toilet, a dirty germy knob to a bathroom door, or anything else that has to do with germs for that matter. The really neat thing about this potty is that you can use regular trash bags and or bags from the grocery store & you can take paper towels to put in the bottom to absorb the potty. If you are interested in the potty…they have them on Amazon.com for 50.00 each. I actually carry this in my car all the time now…just in case of emergency and i don’t have time to haul all 3 girls into a bathroom…i can pull over somewhere and let her potty in the back of our suburban. Here is a link to the potty: http://www.amazon.com/Fisher-Price-L1496-Potty-On-the-Go/dp/B000K7IF1O/ref=pd_bbs_sr_2?ie=UTF8&s=baby-products&qid=1212715290&sr=8-2

I hope this product review has shed some light on some things you should keep in mind when YOU go on your next family vacation with multiples. ALL IN ALL, going to Florida was a great idea and we all had a BLAST! I’m already dreaming about our next vacation hopefully a bit earlier in May, as going the last week in May makes for some loud partying college and high school kids :) It wasn’t a big deal since i’ve been there…but once you have children you really savor the peace and quiet you don’t get at a hotel when there are tons of kids partying it up and coming in to sleep when your kids are waking up in the morning for breakfast! HA!

Lastly, what would a post be on must have’s for road trips without a couple of cute pics of our first family vacation as a family of FIVE!

Hannah at the splash pad

L-R Sarah & Sam

Check out the view from our balcony…i truly think Panama City Beach, FL is georgous! I think FL will be our yearly vacation spot for the next few years. We really saved a ton of money driving, v/s flying…and who wants to fly with 3 kids, when your out-numbered anyway? O yeah and the luggage…OH the luggage for 3 kids plus to adults is CRAZY!

The Birth Story of Sarah & Samantha – Born 12/26/06

We had a very un-eventful pregnancy from the start. I found out at 8 weeks we were having twins…not only that but i knew at 8 weeks that they were identical twins. We found out at 14 or 15 weeks that we were adding 2 more girls to the mix. My 20 week u/s was fine…i didn’t do any other genetic testing. My original due date was Jan 20th…but my dr. said right away with the being identical we’d probably do a c-section around 37 weeks…maybe 38. Every appt was just fine..i know we were very blessed to have such a great pregnancy…less the puking that seemed to go on forever. I was never put on bed rest…but i put myself on it the day i found out i was having twins! LOL! I was already a SAHM, so i remember most days just laying around most of the day and eating(how else do you fatten up two babies growing inside of your belly?). I do remember that i was very very sad that we had to cancel our SECOND trip out of town with my, then, 21 month old…we had this awesome trip planned to go to Vegas, to stay at my favorite hotel(mandalay bay) with my parents. I kept thinking i’d start feeling better and we could go anyway…that just didn’t happen. I also remember cancelling on our sitter the night of my birthday(june 12th) b/c i was SOO sick and couldn’t quit puking. We didnt’ make it back to that restaurant until just a few months ago! :)

We had a planned c-section the day after Christmas. Knowing how hard it was going to be to raise twins and a 29 month old we looked into au-pairs for some help. Julia came to us, the October before the babies were due. She was able to get settled in, i was able to get some restand Hannah(our older little girl) had a play mate. It worked out well, for a while. The girls were born the day after Christmas via c-section. It was all planned..the girls were 36w4d and weighted in at 5.7 & 5.11. The dr. wanted to take them as early as possible due to them being identical and the risk of TTS(twin to twin transfusion syndrome). Although, he was pretty sure they didn’t have it, he wasn’t 100% sure. They did end up with TTS. It was so weird b/c they were alway within ounces of each other in weight, which is a tell tale sign of TTS. The only sign they had was that Sarah had bloody purple hands & feet and was very very bright red and Samantha was as pale as a sheep. We were very thankful that he took the girls when he did, otherwise the TTS could have progressed quickly and we could have had a bad situation. Since the life of a red blood cell is 120 days…it took about 2-3 months for one baby to lighten up and the other to darken up.

The night before they were born i couldn’t sleep. Not that i could sleep very well the last two months, considering i was sleeping on the couch(it was closer to the ground and i could just roll off), but that last night was BAD. I was told not drink or eat anything after midnight, so i set the alarm clock in the living room for midnight, so i could stuff my face one last time and drink as much water as i could, before i was cut off. Sure enough, got up at midnight(i don’t even think i was sleeping anyway), had some deserts(it was xmas night, so we had tons of food in the fridge), had some food and a ton of water. AHH…much better.

We had to be at the hospital to check in at 8:00a so we got up early, packed Hannah up to go to my sisters house and left. We dropped Hannah off around 730a that morning and took the short drive over to the medical center. That was such a weird feeling…knowing when i got back in the car i’d be a mom of THREE! Oh My, was i really ready for this? We valeted the car and walked up to the 7th floor(labor and delivery). We rang in and they let us in…i got a room right away and got into my gown and the waiting began. We had lots of people coming and going…one for the dreaded IV…the one thing i have always dreaded since my first pregnancy with Hannah. Fortunately, the IV went in just fine. Then they monitered the babies…but only for about 20 minutes and everything looked fine. In between all of this, i was dying of thirst. I was begging and begging for water. I finally convinced the sweet little nurse that i HAD to have some ice chips or i was going to dehydrate soon. She argued with me and said that was what the IV was for…but i still didn’t give up. FINALLY, i sent my hubby out to beg for some ice chips…the lady brought in a cup of ice chips..but said “One at a time”. Well. little did she know that i was going to down them and beg for more. She gave me more but said…don’t blame me when you get sick. I said “i PROMISE i won’t.” LOL! Finally at 10a my dr. comes in and asks if i’m ready. Uh, YES, I’m ready! So, they came in and rolled me down to the OR. It was weird..laying on a bed and being rolled around like i was incapable of walking. Kinda fun..but made me feel helpless in a way.

The OR is weird and smells like bleach to me. It’s SOO bright and COLD! I laid on the bed while my dr. got out his handy dandy little voice machine and dictated a whole bunch of info about me(weight, age, health, date, time, etc). While all this was going on…i was lying there and Paul was getting his scrubs on. For some reason he had to wait out in the hall for a while…then they called him in as they began the procedure. So as they wheel me in to the actual OR they tell me to get off this one bed and on to another bed. WHAT? I had to pretty much roll off of one bed(the whole 200lbs + of me) and climb up the little step and up on to another bed. It was HILARIOUS and i wish it had been recorded…seeing a gigantic woman rolling from one bed to the other. What were they thinking? I crawl back up onto the other bed and the anesthesologist comes in for my epidural. A sweet nurse gets in front of me so i can lean on her(my hubby wasn’t in the room yet) so he could put the epidural in. Few pinches, some cold sensation, and it was IN! Ahh…that epidural can do some wonders. I lay back down and i remember very vividily that there was a nurse in there, really cute, young and SOOO sweet and she was talking to me the whole time. Almost to the point that i was annoyed..but she was just SOO excited…she said that she had twins that were 4 or 5..and that they she hadn’t delivered a set of twin in a while. I think most women that go down to the med center with multiples go to tx. womens b/c they have a level III NICU. The hospital i chose did not…but if there had been problems, they would have just rolled the girls right on over to Texas Childrens(through the tunnells)…so no biggie for me. Anyway, she kept talking and talking and was soo sweet. Finally, i see all these people gathering around me..and they brought my hubby in for the big moment.

First, they kept poking at me to make sure i couldn’t feel anything…they kept asking “can you feel this”…nope, just the pressure. I remember lots of pressure and tugging and i kept asking over and over “are they here yet”. My poor hubby just kept saying no…they are still cutting. Then i started to smell burning…YUCK! I guess as they cut, they carterize your skin so it doesn’t bleed so much. Then i hear the dr. say…”baby A is out”. I hear a loud SCREAM! Samatha was out. Then i feel a ton more pressure…Sarah was breech so it took a bit of pulling and tugging to get her out. Sure enough less that a minute later i hear another scream. Sarah was out! They wisked them off to get weighted and cleaned up..and i remember asking my hubby over and over…”did they look ok, did they have ten fingers and ten toes?” He said, yes they looked fine. I was a bit worried b/c i refused all the genetic testing b/c my dr. all along said that doing genetic testing on the girls could always lead to false positives and in turn lead to doing a amnio…which was not an option for me(i was only 30 & healthy).

After the babies were born they were wisked off to their little isolettes, cleaned off and checked out by the 5-6 people per baby(nurse, neo, etc). They said everything was fine and brought the babies back in while i was being stitched up. I remember this part all too well. I remember my dr. talking to another dr.(i guess there were two dr’s in the room doing the delivery..perhaps b/c of them being twins). The dr.s were talking about fishing and vacations and all sorts of fun stuff. I was thinking to myself the whole time: “are you serisous, are they seriously just chatting away while i’m ripped open, probably bleeding to death.” Ok kinda dramatic…but it was kinda funny. Here you are, laying on a table…just had two babies, there is blood everywhere and your insides are laying on the table and the dr’s are just chatting away about life. FUNNY! Then the nurses brought the babies back in…everything was fine. The nurse hands one to Paul…he brings her over to me to see…AHHH..relief…she is precious! Then she tries to hand the other one to me. WHAT? IS SHE CRAZY…i’m being stitched up and i’m totally out of it. I looked at her and said, “i can’t hold her i’ll drop her!” The sweet anestheologist said, “can i hold her for you?” I said, “Sure, because i can’t hold a baby right now.” So he held her for me and i just looked on…antoher precious baby. TWO babies…still amazes me today!! I just laid on the table and cried…and i have to say, i saw a tear or two in my hubbies eyes too(sorry hunny, i know i’ve just embarassed you b/c men don’t cry)! :)

Then they roll me into recovery. I was shaking and shaking. I was freezing and feeling REALLY bad. Paul went with the girls over to the nursery and then to my room to call everyone, so he wasn’t with me at all. I kept telling them..i NEED more covers. I think they may have put 5 or 6 of those warmed(in a big oven) blankets on me to keep me warm. I was furiously shaking and then it hit me. I was trying and trying to cough. I DID tell the dr. before the surgery that i still had the cough i had had for 2 months before the babies were born. He kept giving me meds..they just didn’t work. Anyway, the nurse in recovery said “you CAN’T cough!” “You will pop your stitches out.” I just nodded as i had to cough soo bad and i kept trying but i was so out of it, nothing would come out. Finally the lady went and told someone and came back with the MIRACLE “stop coughing” drug. I don’t know what they gave me…but i didn’t have to cough at ALL after that shot. AMAZING. Oh, but then came the puking. This is where the ice chips came in…all of a sudden, laying there, i kept trying to talk and tell them i felt something coming up. I was just about to puke all over myself and the nurse came running with a little puke pan and shoved it against my chin, as i puked and puked. Thank goodness for the puke pan…otherwise i would have been covered in puke…thanks to the ice chips i probably shouldn’t have eaten. I have to say, laying in the recovery room was so peaceful. Weird, but peaceful. You get to just lay there and do nothing. People are watching you…but you can nod off…sleep, dream about laying on a beach in a bikini, do whatever you want to do for a whole hour or two. It was weird..but nice and quiet!

I think i finally got up to my room that day at 12noon or a little after. Then almost immediately they rolled the girls into my room. Again, OMG, there’s TWO of them. It hit me again…i was looking at these two precious babies…soo amazing. I had a feeling of being over whelmed. A good feeling….but i was still in disbelief of the whole twin thing…until i saw them both after the drugs had all worn off. They were beautiful..and soo tiny compared to Hannah who weight 7.4 lbs at birth!

Getting out of bed after getting back from recovery was bad. Now, again, i had gained 65lbs this pregnancy so i wasn’t one of those moms that just bounced back and lost the weight. I gained TONS and TONS of water weight from the IV. I have ONE pic of myself in the bed and a few of me holding the babies after the c-section that no one will EVER see till i die! LOL! I looked horrible. So, getting back to getting out of bed. Yeah, that was funny. I was sooo scared to move…and it hurt so bad i was pressing the button every 15 minutes for more meds. I don’t even know if they helped or not b/c the pain was still bad…but it was worth a try. I finally got out of bed that evening and walked like 10 steps and back. Progressively it got easier…but the first few days were really bad. I think they last day i was there(Friday), Paul & I took the babies for a whole lap around the maternity ward…with the babies in tow. THAT was our first day of feeling like a rock star. EVERYONE out in the hallways were talking about us and stopping us to see the babies. THAT was the first day, of the comments that will go on, until my girls are old enough to be individuals and try to not look alike…as i know i will face one day, probably when one child comes home with blue hair and purple nails! LOL It was amazing how many people walking to other peoples rooms looked on as we each pushed a baby down the hall. I was so proud of myself. I did it…i made two precious babies…and i got to keep BOTH of them and take them home with me.

As we were leaving the hospital that same day everyone we passed was staring at me. One poor lady was so nosey she came right up to me and told me her story(i don’t even remember it now), but just stood by me as i waited for the valet to bring our car around and just stood there and stared at my babies…one in each arm! (yes, that is really me…with cankles and so swollen i could hardly fit into my twin pregnancy clothes)!

The girls were able to come home from the hospital with us and while we were in the hospital we were very lucky to have my sister(who has a daughter that is 3 months younger than mine) keep Hannah. The best part was that she actually lived right across the street from the hospital and would drop Hannah off downstairs a few times a day to come see the girls.

Since i have been on both sides of the spectrum with a vaginal delivery with Hannah and c-section with the girls…i’m going to say that their are pros and cons to both. Hannah actually ended up breaking my tail bone b/c she was in my birth canal for soo long. I had to go to a spine dr. who gave me some anit inflamatories and pain pills but would not operate due to infection. It still, till this day, hurts when i sit on something hard. The C-section was awesome…i didn’t feel a lick of pain, but the staples annoyed me afterwards & I think it hurt pretty bad and was very itchy. Of course, i will always have a “battle scar”, but it’s turned out well b/c when Hannah asks how the babies came out i can show her my scar and not go any further into details.

When we came home from the hospital we had a nightmare on our hands. We had been in the process of remodeling our new home(but the bathroom add on was the major mess left) and the contractor had been acting kinda fishy prior to us leaving to the hospital. He wanted extra money and came in and showed us all the great things he was going to do to the semi-added on bathroom. He wanted an extra 5 grand and we finally agreed on 3 grand the day before christmas. WHAT A MESS! We came home to our bedroom opened up to all the elements outside…no nursery, the house was a mess & our contractor wouldn’t answer his phone and disappeared. It was cold outside and the bedroom wasn’t even closed in….the bathroom didn’t have sheet rock…we could see outside from our bedroom. We had to play musical bedrooms…and the whole ordeal was a nightmare! That is definitely a part of my birth story and coming home from the hospital that i really hope to forget one day. I just know karma will come back to bite that bad man in the keister for what he did to us. A mom always dreams about bringing their babies home to a beautiful nursery full of stuff…we brought them home to a pack n play and no cribs in sight as we were in the middle of such a huge mess that had been going on since Sept. The humorous part of this whole ordeal was that we thought as pay back we’d call the bad man everytime we got up to feed the girls in the middle of the night(12,1,2,3,4am). Of course he didn’t answer…but his phone was on b/c it rang. It really makes for some good humor in the middle of the night when your sleep deprived and freezing due to the big hole in the wall in the bedroom next door! :) I can laugh at it now…i guess if it’s the worst part of my birth story…it wasn’t that bad. My babies were healthy and that was always #1 on my list.

We had Julia stay with us through June and after that i was on my own. As much of a pain it was having a foreign person stay in your house, eat your food, party till all hours of the morning and just totally annoy you, Julia was a life saver since i didn’t have family that could come over and help on a daily basis. In all reality, i probably could have done it with just the twins…but Hannah needed a playmate. She needed someone to play with, someone to color with and someone to take her outside to get fresh air. In June, i fired Julia and took over. It was hard for a while…but you do what you have to, to make things work. Paul started taking Hannah back to MDO(mothers day out) and i kept the girls with me on those day. We didn’t get out and do much…but we did do a TON of walking up and down the street with the girls. Looking back…i just did what i could to keep my head above water. We had interviewed a few people after i fired Julia. BUT thinking about it…i decided it was easier for me to just do it on my own and not have anyone invading my space. I still feel like i made the right decision! And after Julia left i just had this feeling of peace come over me. Like i was able to get up and walk around in my pj’s all day…not brush my teeth if i didn’t want to…and not have to worry about another mouth to feed since she coudn’t cook for the life of her.

I can’t say this road has been smooth sailing for us the entire 17 months…we’ve had some bumps along the way, lots of colic and crying babies, sick babies, and sometimes i even felt like i had a touch of PPD…but the extent of my PPD was crying and telling my hubby a couple of times how much i hated my life(as my babies were crying and i was on the floor crying with them b/c i didn’t know what else to do for them). That is definitely all over with now.

Now that my girls are 17 months old…it’s a breeze. I still have some issues taking them all out together but it’s just a learning process. You learn what’s easy and what’s not so easy and you adjust your life.

My girls a few days after delivery, Hannah was 29 months!

My girls at 17 months & Hannah will be 4, August 1st!