Getting YOU Fed After You’ve had the Babies

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Categories Feeding, Infants, Making Time for Me, Twinfant Tuesday1 Comment

A mother expecting twins recently asked on the San Antonio Mother’s of Multiples FB page how the adults fed themselves after the babies were born. What a great question because we are often, before the babies arrive, more concerned with how they will be fed and we forget that we need to eat, too.

When my first set of twins, Marc and Maddie, were born, we were living far away from our families and we didn’t know our neighbors every well. I think we had two meals brought over by acquaintances from our church. My babies were preemies and because of their small size and the need to work on putting weight on them, I was feeding them (and pumping) every two hours. Put on top of that a recovery from a C-section, and I remember being tired, cranky and hungry.

But, leave it to the mothers of multiples to have some ideas to help new moms and moms-to-be feed themselves AND their families.

Here are five thoughts on getting YOU fed after you’ve had the babies:

  1. If you are nursing and/or pumping you’ll be HUNGRY. I remember making myself a fried egg almost every night sometime after the midnight feed. You’re burning an extra 600 calories (which is great for losing the baby weight) but you’ll get HUNGRY. Don’t try to diet during this time to get into those pre-pregnancy jeans. EAT MAMA EAT. But, eat the right things: lots of protein, whole grains, fruits and veggies.
  2. Make freezer meals. Better yet, when someone wants to give you a shower, suggest a freezer meal shower. When someome asks what they can do to help you, tell them you’d love a couple of freezer meals. Babies don’t need as much stuff as stores want you to think they need but YOU NEED TO EAT! Finding a container of frozen soup or casserole in your freezer after being up all night with babies is often like finding the proverbial gold at the end of a rainbow.
  3. Buy fruit and veggies trays. These have the fruits and veggies already cut up—saving you precious time—and you can munch on them throughout the day/week. Having these items easily accessible means you won’t be as easily tempted to go for the unhealthy items beckoning from the pantry.
  4. When you can find time to cook, make double batches of everything and freeze the extra servings. If you are making spaghetti sauce, stew, soup. . .make double the amount. My advice is to forget painting the babies’ room and start cooking meals to freeze while you are pregnant.
  5. Buy an electric pressure cooker. Meals can go from frozen to DONE in about 30 minutes. Soups take about 15 minutes. Really this is my go-to appliance when I need dinner on the table FAST. (And you can make extras and freeze another meal for later on.) Here’s a recipe for Beef Green Chili Stew that literally went from freezer to table in 12 minutes.

A mom who honors and takes cares of her needs, even to a minimal amount during those first few months, will be a better mom. And, take a lesson from your babies, one of the most important needs (besides sleep) is feeding your body. Like your newborns, you’ll be much happier with a fully tummy!


Making Time for Me - a series on mothers finding time for themselves in the middle of the insanity of parenting and lifeFrom August 31 to September 4, 2015, How Do You Do It? is running a series on “me time” for mothers: why we need it, how we make it, what we do with it. Find the full list of posts on the theme week page.

Have you blogged about mommy time on your own blog before? Are you inspired to do so now? Link your posts at our theme week link up! We’ll do our best to share them on Facebook,Pinterest, and Twitter with the hashtag #metime.

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Wouldn’t Do Without Wednesday: Reusable Baking Cups

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Categories Feeding Older Children, Wouldn't Do Without Wednesday2 Comments

You’ve probably used paper baking cups at some point. They’re available in enormous variety, from the plain white ones to extraordinary feats of artistry.

These paper cupcake liners are so pretty... but the reusable kind are more adaptable
Image by Le Living and Co is licensed under CC 2.0

Adorable as the paper kind can be, my heart belongs to their reusable silicone brethren.

Image by Le Living and Co is license under CC 2.0
Image by bloggyboulga is licensed under CC 2.0

I occasionally use reusable silicone baking cups to bake cupcakes, breakfast muffins, or the dangerously addictive brownie-dipped Oreos that I blame LauraC for adding to my baking repertoire. More often, though, I use them in my daughters’ school lunches. These flexible molds are just perfect for keeping the different elements of their lunch separated.

Reusable baking cups are ideal for keeping lunch components separated.I use reusable baking cups for both hot and cold lunches. The hot lunch above consists of peas, rice, and sausage. The liners fit perfectly inside our small lunch Thermos containers to stack the dishes and keep them separate. My girls do then need to pry them out with the help of a fork, for a nice hot three part meal. For cold lunches, the liners serve to keep carrots or raisins from running into a sandwich or wrap.

I’ve even taking to packaging rice in these liners as soon as it’s cool, so the rice is already sorted into single servings when I go to the fridge.

They’re not all that expensive, either. I find the Ikea liners to be very affordable. I recently received a set from Calphalon that were excellent quality, but rather pricey.

Do you have reusable baking cups? Are they gathering dust in your kitchen? Do you use them for storage?

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Wouldn’t Do Without Wednesday: Shower Ring Breastmilk Storage

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Categories Breastfeeding, How Do The Moms Do It, Infants, Organization, Wouldn't Do Without Wednesday2 Comments

I’ve been expressing breast milk for my babies and freezing the excess. With everything that comes with caring for two newborns, the last thing I wanted to do was to search through dates when it’s time to thaw some milk. I had an epiphany in the shower.

I can punch a hole in the top of each bag and string them in chronological order on a shower hook!

Genius solution for keeping your pumped milk ordered by date!

It’s a cheap and easy way to keep breastmilk in order. A binder ring might work too, although the plastic gets less cold to the touch in the freezer. I just slide the newest bag on one end and slide the oldest one off the other.

What cheap and easy time saving solutions have helped you through the first months with twins?

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Increase Your Breastmilk Supply: Tips from a MoM

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Categories Breastfeeding, How Do The Moms Do It, Twinfant Tuesday6 Comments

Having Twins Isn’t a One Way Ticket to Formula

People are sometimes surprised to realize that it’s even possible for a woman to produce enough milk to breastfeed twins. They just assume that every MoM has to supplement their newborns’ diets with formula.

Twins and more can be exclusively breastfed. I’m living proof.

My babies are 24 days old and were born at 31 weeks, 6 days. I’m currently up to pumping 16 oz each time I pump and sometimes even get 24 oz in one pump session from both breasts. As early as 4 hrs after delivery I hand expressed drops into the little bottles given to me at the hospital and continued to hand express before each pump session. Hand expressing is more stimulating than a pump so I feel these two combinations alone have gotten me to this abundant supply!

I didn’t know we had so much frozen until I pulled it out of the freezer.

Raquel's twins are in the NICU and her ability to produce milk is second to none. She shares her tips for successfully increasing her milk supply.
This is my supply at about 15 days. Of course, it doesn’t include what my babies have been consuming fresh.

NICU staff is in shock at my supply. One nurse said, “It’s like a dairy farm over here.” I will probably donate anything I produce that can’t fit in my freezer. Clearly, I’m in the minority in my ability to produce. It’s a combination of good fortune, hard work, and informed technique. I’m here to share my techniques with you. Maybe you won’t end up filling a cart with your excess supply, but maybe my tips can help you get a few more ounces.

Get Informed

I encourage you to educate yourself about how much milk your babies actually need. “Low Milk Supply 101” by Emma Picket IBCLC is one of the best articles I’ve read about breastfeeding.

It hasn’t been all easy for me, and it may not be for you. I was getting clogged up on the left side and had to massage the engorged breast in order to prevent mastitis. It hurt but we got through it!

My Tips

To all the mommas wanting to breastfeed or pump to be able to provide for their babies, I just want to say: Pump. Hand express. Empty, empty, empty those breasts!

Breastmilk supply tips from a mom who is making more than enough milk for TWINS!

Brush

A coworker’s sister in Denver was encouraged by hospital staff to “brush” her breasts to stimulate milk production. Yes. Grab a comb or brush and brush your breasts as if you’re brushing your hair. I remembered this advice, also a Salvadoran folk remedy, and had my significant other brush lightly as I hand expressed. We did that during the first 4 pump/hand express sessions.

Maximize Skin-to-Skin Contact

Kangaroo care is the gold standard for preemies. Skin-to-skin contact isn’t just good for babies, though. The biological response to your baby’s skin against your own can trigger can be increased milk production. Whether your baby is sick or healthy, premature or full-term, spend some time holding him or her directly against your body, inside your clothes if necessary. After I hold my babies for a couple of hours, I start leaking!

Hand Express

The nurse who originally brought me my hospital grade pump told me that studies have shown that a combination of  hand expression and pumping helps you produce more milk. Just massage your breast to squeeze the milk out of your nipple. Don’t be embarrassed to ask the lactation consultant at your hospital to show you how to do it! I hand express before and after every pumping session.

Get the Right Pump

The Medela Symphony, a hospital grade pump provided by the hospital, has contributed to my incredible supply. I used the insurance provided pump with my other two children and I never expressed this much milk. Between both breasts I think the most I would get after a feeding was about 4 oz from each side and when they were first born.

The hospital told me I could use this pump until babies came home. I am seriously looking to buying one now even if it’s been used. It’s worth the investment.

Don’t Pump for Too Long

I initially let the pump go on its own until it stopped. I started having issues with my swollen left nipple a day or two later. The lactation consultant told me I was pumping for too long. The pump ran for 30 minutes, not the recommended 10-15 minutes.

I was told my milk would level off after about week two. I was exhausted and  unable to wake very often during the night to pump. I slept for about 5 hours straight, then pumped and started getting the 8 oz from each breast.

Keep At It

The first week, I pumped every 2-3 hours around the clock. The second week, I reduced that to about every 3 to 4 hours. The third week is just about same as week two. I’m currently waiting about 4 hrs in between. I’m not getting as engorged as I was in the begining but I really think I was having trouble emptying my breasts enough to catch a break

Empty Your Breasts

If you are still somewhat solid in the breasts after you’ve pumped and think you’ve “emptied”, you could very well have a good amount in there. Since it’s not coming out like it should, your breasts won’t think they have to make more. Once empty, breasts should keep working at production.

I got less out of my left breast when I was pumping for the whole 30 minutes. It still felt hard. I knew that was off and that there might be milk there but just not able to get it out. I had to massage the painful breast. It was excruciating!

I’m not going to lie. There have been moments I wanted to just stop it all. To top it off, my left nipple (which still hurts) swelled up to the size of a smoked sausage while I pumped. It refused to go back down to its normal size! The lactation consultant told me it might be the size of the pumping shield/flange, but I’ve tried different sizes and have better luck with the smaller one. It just seems to expand with the little tunnel and burns towards the end of pumping.

Eat and Drink on Behalf of Your Babies

I drink water like no other. I drink 1-2 gallons of water a day. That’s no exaggeration! I haven’t had to push myself because I find myself more thirsty this time around compared to with my older singletons.

I never skip out on meals and I snack in between. I pack almonds and cheese and ham sandwiches, or peanut butter and PB&J for my daily NICU visits. Did you know that you actually need more calories while breastfeeding than you do during pregnancy? Your babies have to work a lot harder outside your womb than inside.

I had noticed that skipping meals with my firstborn drastically reduced my supply. Stay hydrated and do not run on an empty stomach. I still take my prenatal vitamins and the NICU doctor overseeing the babies told me to take 3 fish oil pills a day and one vitamin D tablet too.

Be Kind to Yourself

I was able to give birth naturally, without an epidural. Your personal medical situation and many other things you cannot control will impact your ability to produce milk. Childbirth is a traumatic experience for your body. A C-section is major surgery. If you can make breastfeeding work, that’s great. If you can’t, that doesn’t make you any less of a mother.

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Twinfant Tuesday: Baby Bottle Care

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Categories Feeding, Formula, Products, Twinfant TuesdayTags 31 Comments

We’ve written quite a bit about our infant feeding experiences here on HDYDI, but I realize that I’ve neglected to discuss my bottle feeding experiences. That realization wasn’t a surprise. As I’ve told you before, much of my identity as a new mother was tied up in breastfeeding. Baby bottles were up there with gavage tubes on the list of things that I’d rather forget.

The fact is that baby bottles are genius.

A baby bottle can allow a father to feed a child. A baby bottle can allow a working mother to provide her child with breastmilk when she can’t be with her baby. A baby bottle can allow the bond of feeding between a mother and child when breastfeeding isn’t an option.

It’s been nearly 8 years since my daughters moved on from bottles, so I’m not the person to tell you about the newest and greatest development in baby bottle technology. What I can tell you is that, like every other aspect of parenting, it’s not just about what you like. You’ll have to take your child’s preferences into account. With twins, that means two sets of children’s preference, and they may like different things.

With M and J, we used Playtex VentAire bottles for formula and Playtex Nursers with Lansinoh storage bags for expressed breastmilk.

Baby bottles are for formula and expressed breast milk alike.

Once I returned to work, J and M went through 6-7 bottles a day, each. Every night, I had 12-14 bottles to wash. During my limited hours home, I had to breastfeed, eat, occasionally shower, complete household chores, and do that thing where you lie down and close your eyes. I’ve heard it rumoured that it’s called “sleep”. That last thing I wanted to spend my time on was scrubbing bottles.

Since all the bottles we used were open at each end, a bottle brush wasn’t a necessity. I didn’t use it much once the babies had outgrown preemie bottles. Instead, I used my dishwasher.

I had three of these handy dishwasher baskets. All the small parts associated with baby bottles and breastpumps fit in the basket for dishwasher cleaning and disinfection. I was a master of placing all the nipples, rings, bottle valves, pump valves, and lids so that each one was fully exposed to water.

This basket holds small bottle parts for dishwasher disinfection.For the first several months, I would take the washed bottles out of the dishwasher and boil them in a pot of water for disinfection, but over time, I grew to trust the High Heat setting on the dishwasher. Before long, the girls’ immune systems had built up to where disinfection was no longer called for. After all, they were getting plenty of immune exercise from their time a group daycare.

For simplicity, I assembled rings, nipples and lips and stored those stacked beside all the bottles. That way, there was no need to spend time unscrewing bottles or pulling through nipples when it was time to feed.

What are your timesaving tricks for life filled with baby bottles?

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Getting Children to Eat

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Categories Feeding, Foodie Fridays, Solid Foods, Toddler Thursday, Toddlers42 Comments

I’m a huge advocate for dinner. I cook it almost every night and there is really no predicting what it might be.

When my husband and I were first married cooking dinner was actually a sour point of our nascent marriage. Scott had been a bachelor for 11 years and for 11 years he had pretty much decided what he’d eat for dinner. Usually it was a salad. . .or some take out. This arrangement worked well for him until the new wife decided that she, armed with the wedding gift, Marc Bittman’s How to Cook Everything, was going to do just that. . .cook everything.

She thought it was an act of love. . .he felt it resembled gastronomical homicide–and it seemed a little threatening to his bachelor ways. It wasn’t that she was a bad cook. . .it just was that he wasn’t used to the cooking. . .and then the inevitable clean-up. Life was so much easier with a salad or ordering take-out.

It probably took us a good part of our first couple of years for Scott to realize that cooking was my way of showing love (oh, he could have thought of a better way. . .). And, even when kids arrived on the scene, cooking was still my norm because. . .well, have you ever taken two newborns and two toddlers out to eat. Don’t. Ever.

I remember Scott coming home from work one day and saying that one of his colleagues couldn’t believe that I cooked dinner every day. I looked at him quizzically and asked, “Well, what would we eat if I didn’t cook dinner?” And, honestly dinner time is the WORST time in a mom’s life. The kids are hungry and needy and cranky and many a dinner was cooked with literally one hand as I was holding someone in one arm while the other child tried to scale up my leg. I’d then put one child down and pick up the other and continue cooking. Rinse. Repeat.

But, on the flip side, and if you are one of those mothers or fathers who try your hardest to get a meal on the table, there is a flip side, my kids are pretty much good eaters. And, they will eat almost everything. . .well, except for Will who has a thing about tomatoes. . .and sautéed fresh spinach. . .and if truth-be-told  would have Honey Bunches of Oats for breakfast EVERY DAY if it was available.

SONY DSC
Dylan Eating Cantaloupe

So, when I read Mark Bittman’s article from the NY Times, Getting Your Kids to Eat (or at Least Try) Everything, I felt somewhat vindicated that for the past 14 years I’ve been cooking my family meals.  (Bittman’s actually been all over the media these days promoting his new book, How to Cook Everything Fast.) He is also an advocate for home cooked meals and his newest book is about how easy it is to get something on the table for you and your family.

So, how do you get your children to try or eat just about everything?

  • Cook real food. Yes they’ll eat heated chicken nuggets until you think they’ll start to cluck. . .but you replace that with a roasted chicken (it is SO EASY) or Korean Beef –another super easy recipe.
  • Offer a broad variety of food and let them decide what they like or don’t like.
  • Serve at least one healthy thing you know they’ll like but if they refuse to eat what you’ve prepared, let older kids make themselves a sandwich. Never make food a power struggle.
  • LIMIT SNACKING and GET RID OF JUNK FOOD. This is a hard one. . .but let me tell you that kids are  finickier when they are only somewhat hungry because they’ve been snacking. Food looks good to someone with an appetite and kids are more prone to try something if they are hungry.
  • Engage children and your partner in the food prep. Teach them how to do things. TALK OUT LOUD about what you are doing and why as you are cooking. Even after you set the meal on the table tell them HOW you made one of the items.
  • When the kids are older than 3: Always honor the meal AND the cook. . .have someone set the table with real placemats, forks and plates. Heck, get some of that china out and set the table with that! Light some candles!
  • Even if children didn’t like something the first time. . .serve it again and maybe again. Babies sometimes take 15 times of trying a new food before they’ll eat it. Their palates are just developing. Countless times I’ve served something that flopped only to serve it again to RAVE reviews.
  • BE UNAPOLOGETIC about cooking for your family. Never say something like, “Oh, because I’m a stay at home parent I have time. . .” or “Well, this part time job allows me to get home. . .” I’ve qualified my meal prep with these words. But the truth is that I’ve made some of these decisions in order to feed my family and I shouldn’t have to feel that my choices were somehow less than someone who chooses to work a 60 hour week. But in the long run. . .oh heck, even in the short run. . .everyone in your family will be better for that meal that you made.

Last, but not least, there is nothing in this world better than when your child walks into the house and says, “Mmmm, what smells so good, Mom!”

(A huge shout out to my mom, Judy, who had a good meal on the table almost every night and who raised a daughter and four boys who are damn good cooks! Thanks mom!)

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Foodie Friday: Lunch Bag Hygiene

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Categories Feeding Older Children, Foodie Fridays, HealthTags 2 Comments

With rare exception, I pack my daughters’ school lunches. We usually use soft insulated lunch bags and all food inside it is either in a container or wrapped in cling wrap. Still, I worry about how germy the inside of the bag might get. I don’t imagine that my 8-year-olds are particularly cognizant of cross-contamination. I’m certain that they’ve picked at the meat in a sandwich and touched the inside of their lunch bags without thinking about it.

Lunch bag hygiene

I wash the bags as often as I do laundry, usually about every other day. On days that they don’t get a full wash, I still wipe all surfaces of the bag thoroughly with a disinfecting wipe, let it sit for 10 minutes, and then go back over it with a clean wet rag. I also have extra lunch bags for all of us to be sure that there are always enough clean ones available.

I’ve heard that a lot of people don’t wash their shopping bags because they simply don’t think about all the grime that builds up in there. Do folks treat their kids’ (and their own) lunch bags the same way?

Have you ever considered lunch bag hygiene?

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Toddler Thursday: Breastfeeding with Teeth

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When I set out with the intention of breastfeeding my twins, I didn’t take their teeth into account. It didn’t even cross my mind, really, even though I knew that my own mother had given up breastfeeding my younger sister after several months of teething and biting.

I’d read Mayim Bialik’s Beyond the Sling, in which she describes exclusively breastfeeding her sons—as in, nothing but breastmilk for one year—and they’d already sprouted several teeth by the time they had their first ‘real food,’ bypassing purées entirely. And as a fledgling attachment parent, I learned that nursing itself was the panacea for any sort of discomfort, physical or otherwise.

What this didn’t address, however, was discomfort for the mother, specifically biting issues.

A friend of mine with a baby similar in age began to have biting issues related to teething when her daughter was only a few months old. She went ‘septic’ and was put on antibiotics. Scary, but amazingly, she went on to breastfeed for over a year.

I had my own share of breastfeeding difficulties, and in the early days, I used a nipple shield to alleviate some of the pain from constant nursing. But thankfully, teething itself was not really a problem for us. My twins didn’t get their first teeth until they were about a year old.

But after their first birthday, we experienced several other challenges. First, I got mastitis. Then, we went on a short vacation and I got food poisoning–not pleasant to be in a tiny hotel room with three other people, two of whom are literally wanting to suck the waning life force out of you. Lastly, my daughter did start biting me.

Mercedes, who successfully breastfed her twins to age 2, talks about how she addressed biting after her babies developed their teeth. Breastfeeding with teeth can work!

The good part about nursing toddlers with teeth who bite you is that I believe it is easier to remedy than just teething pain. There is usually an underlying reason for the bites. I had to cut nursing sessions shorter, and by this time I also reduced the number of feeds a day, which helped with biting out of boredom. Up to that point, I had used breastfeeding as the cure-all I’d come to know—now we were following more of a mother-led schedule. I also had to focus my attention more on my nursling to anticipate the bites.

I breastfed my twins until they were just over two years old, with plenty of teeth between them. I know everyone’s journey will be different but I’m glad ours turned out the way it did.

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Wouldn’t Do Without Wednesday: Baby Bjorn Bibs

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Categories Feeding, Feeding Older Children, Parenting, Preschoolers, Products, Solid Foods, Toddlers, Wouldn't Do Without Wednesday1 Comment

No parent enjoys the mess that is mealtime with young children.

Luckily, I found something to help us with that problem. As babies, all my kids wore cloth bibs during their waking hours, especially during teething, to catch all the drool and milk. We had several dozen cheap thin ones, lined with plastic on the back so they didn’t soak through. We changed these frequently as they got wet/soiled, and tossed them in with the wash. They worked wonderfully well.

However, as they began their rice cereal and then graduated to other messy colorful purees, the thin cloth bibs didn’t cut it anymore. Soft foods usually just slide right down a flat bib, and there is no mechanism on them for catching any solid foods (or food your child decides to spit out).

That’s when I discovered a new kind of bib: ones with a pocket! There are actually many brands out there, but the style is basically the same. It’s a molded plastic bib that catches food in its pocket. There are some made of just a thin piece of plastic with a flat pocket, which doesn’t seem very effective in catching any food at all. And there are some softer varieties that bend and move around with your child, which means the spilled food probably doesn’t stay put.

My favorite is the Baby Bjorn Bib. These are a little bit more rigid than the others, thicker, and sturdier. They attach around the neck via a sort of corded band across the top that you just press into the fastener at the other side, completely adjustable as your child grows or how close you want it to the neck, and much more secure than velcro. They come in all different colors, including gender neutral ones. But they are also somewhat pricey: Amazon currently lists these for about $15 a two-pack, which is a great deal because they sell for about $10 singly. th These best thing about them is not just that they are good at catching food, but they are incredibly easy to clean as well. After each meal we just rinse them off and they’re dry for the next meal. If we’re out, I just run around them with a wipey and go. And they are dishwasher safe! When I start a load of dishes, I just toss them in on top of the sippy cups and they get sanitized too.

Big Sis has for the most part grown out of using bibs. She is almost 5 after all. But sometimes at home when she knows she’s eating something messy, she will put her bib on to keep her clothes clean. But the twins have these bibs everywhere and use them at every meal. Over the years I have accumulated 9 of them: 3 for use at home, 2 at Grandma’s, 2 at in-laws, and 2 clipped to our diaper bag in the car. I wouldn’t be surprised if we get years more use out of these bibs yet!

lunchldyd is mom to 2.5yo b/g twins and their almost-5yo sister. She is also a part-time teacher.

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Foodie Friday: Schlotzsky’s Review and $25 Gift Card Giveaway

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Categories Feeding Older Children, Foodie Fridays, GiveawayTags 22 Comments

$25 Schlotzsky's gift card giveaway at http://hdydi.com My daughters and I don’t make a habit of eating out, so when we do go, it’s a treat. We have a relatively limited list of places we frequent, mostly because M is very particular about what she’ll eat.

When I mentioned to my 8-year-old twins that I’d been invited to a Schlotzsky’s blogger event to sample their new Italian menu items, my daughters cheered, very loudly. Very, very loudly. They both absolutely love the sandwiches there, and it doesn’t hurt any that Schlotzsky’s also serves Cinnabon buns. 8-year-old J is chowing down at Schlotzsky's We’re lucky to live in the Austin suburbs, a reasonable drive to Schlotzsky’s flagship location. Our usual location is across the driveway from the autoshop where I go for oil changes. A Schlotzsky visit is part of our monthly car maintenance routine when eating out is within our budget.

At the promotional event, we got to sample everything new on their menu, the Viva l’Italia line. I have to admit, it was hard to limit myself to just a taster’s bite of each dish. Any one of them would have made a delicious and satisfying meal. With these Italian offerings, including oven-baked pastas, pizzas and more, Schlotzsky’s is going well beyond the local sandwich joint we’ve known and loved. I’d now consider it a bakery café. Even the pickiest of eaters was delighted with the menu! Of course, this being a promotional meal, Schlotzsky’s put their best foot forward, but the food spoke for itself. My daughter M, the picky child, had three servings of the tomato basil canestrelli. She quite literally scraped her plate and told Chef Paul that she’d be coming back to order it again. He’s a member of the team that created these dishes, and his passion for quality was clearly quite as deep as his affection for children. M immediately adored him, although J was too busy chowing down to notice. Schlotzsky's tomato basil canstrelli is part of their oven-baked pasta line. While J joined me in sampling everything, M would try only one of the ciabatta sandwiches. (Oh my, were they good!) The Tuscan had avocado: “Yucky, mommy.” The Caprese had tomatoes: “I only like ketchup of tomatoes.” She consented to eat the Sicilian, but deconstructed, so as to get at the shaved ham, pepperoni and salami, while bypassing the provolone, roasted red bell peppers, balsamic onions, olives, pepperoncini, field greens and tomato. Usually, stock photos from restaurants bear little resemblance to the real thing, but our sandwiches looked just like these. The Tuscan_Ciabatta CapreseCiabattaThe Sicilian_Ciabatta See? Ciabatta sandwich tasting at Schlotzsky's So, M wasn’t sold on the sandwiches, although J and I were. The pasta, though? She loooooved the pasta. (So did I. There was this Andouille sausage and goat cheese pasta that makes me drool to just think about.) I’m tempted to keep going on and on about the pastas and the pizza and the desserts (Austin only), but I know you probably want to get to the gift card, so I’ll hold back.

Note that Schlotzsky’s has locations in 35 of the 50 states, in addition to Russia, Turkey and Azerbaijan. Please make sure that you have a local location before entering.

Use the Rafflecopter widget below to enter the giveaway. You could win a $25 Schlotzsky’s gift card. If you feel like using all the options, go for it. If you just want to put in the simplest possible entry, just leave us a comment on this post telling us about your favourite Italian food. You can follow us on Twitter, Facebook, or Pinterest, tweet about this giveaway, or leave a comment here or on another HDYDI post.

Please don’t forget to let us know in Rafflecopter which you’ve done so that your entries count!! In bocca al lupo e buon appetito. (Hey, two years of Italian in college is finally useful beyond listening to my favourite operas!)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Why not up your chances by entering the #HoorayItaly contest? Schlotzsky’s is offering 10 $100 gift cards for selfies with their Viva l’Italia menu items.

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