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Thursday, August 6, 2015

Quick and Easy Block Quilt

I made this quick and easy block quilt when my twins were 3 months old. Looking back I don't know how I found the time, but I had promised myself I would make a quilt for all my nieces and nephews on their 10th birthdays and my nephew Trey was turning 10.  

Here is the quilt I made for his brother on his 10th birthday.  



The pattern I used I based off of a pattern I pinned. I added his name in contrasting colors.  
The pieces I cut were as followed:

6" Squares-
Red- 24 squares
Blue- 12 squares
Yellow- 24 squares

12" Squares-
Jayhawk Fabric- 12 squares

The thing I liked about making this quilt was that it really was easy because there were only 2 sizes of blocks to cut and the larger pieced blocks were all the same, I just sewed them together different directions when I pieced the whole quilt.

I feel like this would be an easy pattern to use if you find a fabric that you absolutely love the print of it and you can make it the bulk of the quilt by using it as the larger block.


I am hoping to start on some more quilts soon- maybe a quilted tree skirt too!

I will be linking up to Parties!

Thanks for reading,
Zoe

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Breastfeeding Twins- It is Possible and Enjoyable (My Breastfeeding Story)


When I decided to start blogging again I knew I wanted to share my experiences as a twin mom in order to help others and sharing my breastfeeding story was at the top of my list.  This is a long one, but if it can help another twin mommy (or mom of a singleton) I want to get it out ther!  So here it is- my twin breastfeeding story.

A Little About My Background

I am a Registered Dietitian and starting in 2009 I worked for the WIC program which provides nutritional and breastfeeding education to Women, Infants and Children.  When I started this job I didn't know a lot about breastfeeding (other than my Mom had nursed me and my siblings and my sister nursed all of her children).  I learned so much about breastfeeding during that job and became a Certified Breastfeeding Educator.  I also learned that a lot of women struggle with nursing and there is a lot of misinformation out there. I truly believe all women who want to nurse should be provided with support and resources to make it happen!

Reasons I Chose to Nurse my Twins

The first reason I chose to nurse my twins is because there are numerous studies showing that breast milk is the most nutritious food for babies. I won't site all of these but there is a pretty comprehensive list at Kelly Mom.

Second reason was financial. My main goal was to stay home with my twins for as long as possible. Making the decision to nurse (especially with twins) is a huge money saver.

Other reasons were I didn't want to have to deal with washing and making bottles for twins and breastfeeding is a lot better for the environment than other alternatives.

How I Prepared

I read a lot. The best resources I found were other twin blogs of moms that had successfully breastfed twins. Kelly Mom is the best resources I have found. La Leche League is also very helpful, although I have found it difficult to make it to our local meetings with both babies!

I also prepared mentally by acknowledging to myself that it wasn't going to be easy at first, but I was going to do it and that it would be worth it in the end (it was definitely worth it for me).

I arranged to have as much help as possible. Without my mother and mother in law staying with us the first two weeks I don't know if I could have got my milk supply established!

From Birth to Home

My twins were born via C-Section only slightly early at 36 weeks and 3 days. During delivery I did not get to do skin to skin on my face but they did bring the babies to my face right after measuring/weighing them. I was in recovery for a little while and then they brought Sissy to me (probably within an hour) and I was able to do skin to skin and nurse. Bubby had to stay in the nursery due to low blood sugars and my husband informed me that they had to give him a bottle of formula or they would have to start an IV with sugar water.  This was upsetting to me as I had hoped to exclusively breastfeed and not have to give them formula.

During our hospital stay I got to nurse Sissy a few more times and try to nurse Bubby, but after a day or two the Dr. no longer wanted me to nurse because they were losing too much weight and not keeping their blood sugars up. So I met with the lactation consultant, let her know that I wanted to nurse no matter what and she had me start pumping every 3 hours. It was exhausting- pumping and then going to the special care nursery to feed the babies bottles of formula and expressed colostrum.  Finally they turned the corner and started gaining weight.  They still didn't want me to nurse, but said I could start trying once I got home.  When leaving the hospital my milk hadn't come in yet and I was worried and scared that they wouldn't be able to latch once we got home. On top of that I hadn't slept more than 2 hours at a time in the past 5 days. And then we started our adventure at home.

 My twins passed out after nursing


Nursing at Home, Pumping and Weight Struggles

After we arrived home I started attempting to let the babies latch one feeding at a time. I would follow it up with a bottle of expressed milk- then a formula bottle- then I would go pump.  We were on a 3 hour feeding schedule (all day and night) so it seemed by the time I got done pumping I would have about 20 minutes until it was time to nurse again.  Both had trouble latching at first and I used nipple shields to help them latch better.  My milk came in around 10 days pp and by the two week mark I was no longer having to give formula bottles. 

I remember having to do a lot of motivation for myself in the early days- I used the metaphor of a marathon to keep me going. "It's a marathon, not a sprint. It doesn't matter how slow you go, just keep moving." And that motivated me to keep pumping, keep trying to latch, keep rocking them to sleep, etc.

Because we were doing the nursing and bottles there were only a few times they didn't gain as expected- one of those times being when I was trying to transition to just nursing.  Due to pumping so much I had developed an oversupply of milk and when I tried to switch to exclusive nursing Bubby was only getting the fore milk (high in sugars and low in fat) and not enough hind milk to help him gain weight. At 6 weeks postpartum I stopped pumping on a regular basis and it took a few days for my supply to even out, but it did and they both started to gain good amounts of weight. This was a real turning point for me in my breastfeeding journey- they were nursing exclusively and I was done having to pump milk, feed bottles and do all the dishes associated with that. About 2 months out I weaned them off the nipple shields which simplified things as well.


Tandem Nursing and Nursing Away From Home

As I worked on getting the babies to latch I also worked on getting them to tandem nurse. I knew it would make my life a lot simpler once I could feed them both at the same time.  I would get the one who was hungrier latched and then work on getting the other one latched without knocking the first one off. We mostly did football hold in the early days.  I also used the MyBreastFriend Twins Plus nursing pillow which was a life saver.  

When they were small I would nurse them individually any time we had to nurse away from home- usually trying to make sure I fed them before they were both hungry at the same time!  As they got older and were able to support themselves a little it became easier to nurse without the nursing pillow- I would hold one in a cradle hold and the other in a football hold using the first twins' legs as a head support.


Growing Babies

As they grew they went through all of the common nursing phases- distractibility, growth spurts and biting. Having them tandem nurse did add a little degree of difficulty to these phases, but I feel like once we got the tandem feeding down it really wasn't a lot more difficult than nursing a singleton.  But I will say the 3 month growth spurt was difficult for me physically. I remember drinking glass after glass of water and still feeling thirsty and eating snack after snack and still being hungry. And being exhausted... but like all things it passed.

Looking Back

Sissy and Bubby are 17 months now. I nursed them until 15 months and I can't say that I have any regrets about how long I nursed them.  I know that I gave them a great start nutritionally, we had tons of amazing bonding time (with all three of us together and me individually with each of them), and I saved a lot of money in the process.  

Nursing my one year olds!

Whew, that was a lot for one post. I am sure I forgot some important details and if any expecting twin moms (or other moms) have any questions I would love to be able to answer them for you! I do plan on making a post about my top tips for nursing twins and I will link it up when it is done.

Thanks for Reading,
Zoe

Monday, August 3, 2015

Menu Monday

In an effort to save money and eat healthier I have got back to my basics- meal planning!!


Planned Menu for the past week:

Monday- Taco Salad

Wednesday- Grilled Chicken and Garden Veggies

Thursday- BLT's

Friday- Homemade Pizza (on the grill)

Weekend- Tuna Patties

And here is what actually happened- because, you know, life happens....

Monday- Taco Salad went as planned

Tuesday- Little Man was diagnosed with hand foot and mouth- spent the whole day taking him to the Dr. and comforting him.... so used the leftover beans, onions and peppers to make Quesadillas

Wednesday- Chicken Fried Rice

Thursday- Grilled Chicken, Black Bean Dip and Baked Potatoes

Friday- BLT's

Weekend- Tuna Rice Patties (I made a new recipe!), Smoked Pork Loin

Reflections

I am pretty pleased with how the week went with our meals. I only ate one meal out over the past week, which is a huge money saver. I saved enough money from my eating out budget to get tons of clothes for my little ones at garage sales on Saturday morning!

On to the next week of menu planning!

Thanks for Reading,
Zoe


Thursday, July 30, 2015

Fresh Quinoa Salad

I love this salad so much. It is delicious, nutritious and refreshing. I have made several variations of this over the years but today I am going to share my favorite variation. Even my husband (who is not a fan of quinoa) will eat this one. I am still working on the kids eating all of it- they will currently pick out the corn and the beans.... which is good I guess for 17 month olds!

Now that I have been trying to cook more from scratch this is going to be added to my monthly menus!!


Quinoa Salad

3 Cups cooked quinoa
1 diced red onion
1 can black beans (drained and rinsed)
1 can sweet corn (drained)
1/4 cup diced fresh cilantro
1/4 cup olive oil
2 Tbsp Red Wine Vinegar
1 tsp salt
1 drop lemon essential oil or 1 tsp lemon juice (If using oil make sure it is of food grade quality)
1 drop lime essential oil or 1 tsp lime juice (If using oil make sure it is of food grade quality)

Mix all ingredients together and let set for at least 4 hours (overnight is better) to get the flavors mixed in.

I hope you enjoy this salad as much as I do. It is perfect for taking to potlucks as well as for a side dish with a summery dinner!

Thanks for reading,
Zoe


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