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Finger painting with pudding

by Juliemara
12.27.12

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Toddlers are busy little people, they move from activity to activity in a blink of an eye and then back again. They get bored and fussy quickly so having a pocket full of activities to do on a moments notice is a must.

There are great go to activities like stacking blocks or the shape sorter that hold their interest for a few minutes, but to keep them occupied for a little longer try a yummy and fun new activity like finger painting with chocolate pudding.
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This activity was introduced to me by my good friend who also has a one year old little girl.

I like to have the girls do really messy activities like this one in their highchair a, it helps to keep the mess contained.
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Mix the pudding according to the package directions. Remove all clothing from your baby or toddler or clothe them in stuff that can get dirty. This is a very messy project. Tape a large piece of construction paper to the highchair tray.
!

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Demonstrate with a small amount of pudding, how to use your finger to color the paper. Don’t lick your finger! Let them figure tht out on their own.

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Happy painting

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Teething Necklaces, some may say…

by Juliemara
12.24.12

Some may say that teething necklaces don’t work, that it is a myth, a placebo effect. Some may say that they are dangerous.

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I am not one of them. I was, but not anymore. After about six months of watching my sweet babies suffer from teething pain and after being kept up into the late hours of the night trying to comfort a baby who is suffering from pain she has never known before I broke down and ordered two. I did some research and spoke to some friends who had been using them about what type to get. I found mine on Etsy, a seller in Lithuania. The necklaces are made from amber, amber comes from the Baltic sea, near Lithuania, so this made sense. They took what felt like months to get to us.

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Teething pain comes and goes, bothering babies for a few days here and there, maybe lasting as long as a week, but for those few days life is hard for the little ones and for mom and dad.  As soon as I received the package I put the necklaces straight on the girls. Teething pain had started again a few days before. That night they slept, without interruption. Maybe it was coincidence, I don’t know and I don’t care. We haven’t seen either baby experiencing the level of discomfort they did prior to wearing the necklaces, so as far as I am concerned they work. I wish I had ordered them sooner. If I could do it over my girls would have been wearing them from when they were five months old.teething-necklaceteething-necklaceteething-necklaceteething-necklace

Amber has been used throughout the world to relive pain, it has succinic acid in the resin that when worn warms on the skin and releases some of this natural anti inflammatory into the skin and thus into the blood stream. The most pure Baltic amber will contain about 8% of the succinic acid.

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My girls wear the necklaces all the time. I only remove them for bath because warm water and soap can, over time, reduce the effectiveness of the amber. My girls sleep in their necklaces. They are made in such a way that they are as safe as possible. First, the necklace is knotted between each bead, so that in the event that the strand does break, only one bead will fall off. Second,  the necklaces are too short for the girls to pull them up into their mouths, so they can’t and are not meant to be chewed on. I tuck the necklaces into whatever shirt or pjs they are wearing and they girls hardly notice that they are even there.

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And as a bonus, they are supper cute and surfer baby looking.  One more thing I would have done differently was to order two slightly different necklaces so that our family and friends could use the necklaces as a way to tell them apart. I ordered this necklace in particular because I originally read conflicting beliefs as to weather the light or dark beads were more effective. Since ordering the necklaces I have read more times than not that the darker the bead the more succinic acid it contains.

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Dinner Time!

by Juliemara
12.20.12

This is one of those posts that has been in my drafts folder for several months.  In an attempt to not let the writing go to waste I have decided to use the story of feeding our babies food as the start of a new series for my blog. Each week (hopefully) I will post a toddler meal and a people meal, sometimes they will be the same, sometimes they will be different.

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We are a family that loves food, it is a major part of our lives. Not just eating it, but preparing it, planning it, finding new kinds of it, and discussing it after we eat it. Everyday involves some sort of food planning, weather it’s that days food or the next days or the up coming weekend. No meal is easy and thrown together. We don’t eat, we dine, as my sister likes to say. It’s one of the things about my husband that drew me to him. He grew up with every meal being an event, breakfast, lunch and dinner each consisted of courses and freshly prepared foods. He loves to introduce me to new foods and food combinations. In my home we ate dinner as a family every night, but lunches and especially breakfasts were basically on the go. Between the two of us we strike a nice balance of eating well and trying to do more in a day than cook and clean up.
We decided when I was pregnant that we would be making all our own baby food for the girls and aside from the occasional jar or pouch to go, we have. We puréed everything we could think of apples, pears, peaches, sweet potatoes, broccoli, cauliflower and a bunch more. feeding-baby-food
The process is really very painless. We cooked for ourselves most nights so chopping something and throwing it in the steamer wasn’t any more work, it was an easy process. We used a basic rice cooker with the steamer try set into the top of it, I think it was about $15. This one is very similar

It’s the simplest kitchen appliance ever, fill the pot with water, chop the food you want to steam into large chunks and place in the steamer tray, press the one button all the way down. Check it after 15 minutes, if a fork goes in and out easily, it’s done. We would then use the Ninja to puree, but any blender or even a hand masher will work fine. The baby food makers are also really great they do both steps, steaming and pureeing, in one machine, but we already had the other two machines on hand so we didn’t need to add anything new to our kitchen counters. We would make a big batch, portion it into ice cube trays and freeze it for later use. There are ice cube trays with covers just for this. When it was time for them to eat we we could choose what combination to feed them, chicken, broccoli & sweet potato or beans, apples and squash. Take one or two cubes of each out of the freezer and pop it into the microwave either together or separately. Having so many choices ready to go was really convenient. The thing is, babies eating purees only lasts about three months, before we knew it, around eight months, with a freezer full of homemade baby food, our girls were ready to start chewing!  So instead of pureeing we started giving them the tiniest slivers of table food, banana, chicken, pieces of pasta, quinoa, cauliflower and broccoli.  We had to freeze their food a little differently now. First we would steam, mash or cut, but not purée, the foods, then portion it into the ice cube trays just the same so that we can still feed them healthy quick meals as soon as we arrive from work. We did this with most of the same foods that we previously pureed. But now we could add tiny bites of whole grain breads and tiny pieces of fresh fruit. When I say tiny pieces, I mean tiny and soft, about the size of a baby’s finger nail and soft enough to mash between your thumb and index finger.

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Around this time we tried to make meals easier for us too, we would prepare as much as possible the night before so that all the prep is done and all we had to do is cook when we got home or even better use our crock pot! If you have any great healthy crock pot recipes please send them my way! We are still trying to get the hang of this planning ahead. We currently make sure on Sunday that we have enough food in the house to make a meal for each night of the coming week, but don’t necessarily know which night we will eat what. We also have a few take away options that we use as fall backs and our amazing nanny cooks dinner for the girls a night or two a week and always makes enough for us to have for dinner or take for lunch the next day. She is also a really great cook!
To kick off my regular posting of easy and healthy meals for the whole family I’d like to share one of my absolute favorite dishes to make. This one requires a good bit of prep, but the actual cooking goes really quick and the outcome is well worth it. And the girls love it too!

Turkey Lettuce Wraps

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1tbs sesame oil
4 garlic cloves minced
2 tbs olive oil
3 shallots minced
1 pkg lean ground turkey
Minced ginger root
2 med Shredded carrots
2 tbs rice vinegar
1 tbs soy sauce
2 tbs fish sauce
1/4 cup chicken stock
1/4 copped cilantro
1 tsp chili sauce or red pepper flakes
3 green onions chopped
Bib lettuce for serving
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In a large skillet heat sesame oil over med high heat
Saute garlic in sesame oil (do not burn)
Add shallots and olive oil, cook till limp.
Add turkey, Brown
Turn heat to med/low
Add carrots, ginger, rice vinegar, soy sauce, fish sauce, chicken stock,  chili sauce and green onion while continuing to stir
Turn off the heat and add cilantro
Serve hot with bib lettuce warps

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In My Opinion – Sippy Cups

by Juliemara
11.8.12

We made the switch to sippy cups around the 10 month mark. The girls were already holding their bottles without help so it was just a matter of getting them use to the different mouth piece and faster flow of the sippy cups. I got a good bit of advise from a fellow mom of twins. She told me if I want to teach them something new i.e. drinking from a cup, make them do it every time and after three days they will get it. This technique really works and not just for sippy cups for pretty much any thing you want your kids to learn. You can read more about my friend Cari and her cute twins Summer and Austin on her blow Twinkadinks.

At first we rotated sippy cups without much rhyme or reason, but after a few weeks of spills or unfinished cups we realized not all sippy cups are made the same and we figured out real quick which ones we prefer.
We were given several sippy cups as gifts and some were purchased on sale, they all work, but here is the rundown of cups we like and the ones we don’t of the styles we have tried.

We have chosen The First Years Take & Toss cups as our, hands down, first choice.

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They don’t spill, they are easy to clean they have two parts a top and a bottom which makes assembly very east and they are very inexpensive about $0.57 each, plus each pack comes with a cap for traveling with a full cup, but it stays attached to the rim of the cup so it won’t get lost. They are the big winner in our house.

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Now for the rest of the pack. Please note we still have all of these in our sippy cup drawer and frequently use many of them just based on the fact that we have them and twins and the dishwasher doesn’t always get run when it’s full so it’s nice to have more than enough sippy cups on hand. These just require a little more brain power to deal with.
The below sippy cups are ranked in order of our second most favorite to least favorite…
These two sippy cups are pretty good. They each have three parts. The Purple and yellow cup by Playtex

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(I think it’s funny that the same company that makes bras also makes sippy cups)has the top, bottom and a valve to prevent spilling. The handles are helpful but our girls don’t need them. They learn to hold a bottle without handles so they never needed the handles to hold a cup. They do use them if they are there. My biggest beef with this one is the colors, it looks dated and old, even though it’s brand new. The other issue I have with it is that the spot is hard, but after a while you can see little bite marks in the plastic, which is just gross. The Purple and pink cup is a Nuby product.

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I like this one, especially because it doesn’t spill, the problem is that the figure 8 shaped nipple is really hard to get back into the plastic ring after washing and I don’t have time to be fighting with sippy cups.
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Next up are the pink Nuby cups.

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These cups are just difficult to assemble. The handles are removable, but for some reason we always put them back on after washing even though the girls don’t need them. Probably because I know that the minute we stop using them they will be lost forever and what if I need them later, so it’s just easier to keep the whole cup together.

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But the real assembly issue comes from these notches that have to be lined up on the nipple and ring as well as on the separate handle piece.

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If the three parts get twisted on even the slightest bit crooked the cup leaks everywhere. It’s mainly a time issue for me. If it takes more than one try for me to do it right, it just won’t work in our lives. So these too stay on the drying rack or in the sippy cup drawer until all the Take and Toss cups are dirty for the day.

It really disappoints me that these OXO cups
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have the issues that they do, because I LOVE the design. They are very mod. But the fact of the matter is that as cute as they are the valve to prevent spilling does not catch as easy as it should so it falls out resulting in milk spilled all over freshly bathed babies and living room pillows, NOT GOOD.
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And even if the valve gets put in correctly the top is a bit tricky to screw on but the error can’t really be seen until there is milk everywhere. So much for good design.
Now I get into the cups that I really actually dislike and would throw away if I was a person who threw away things that still served a purpose, but I’m not so we keep them. I’m hopping some friends will come over and tell me how much they love these cups, then I can give them away and feel good about it.
Also by Nuby the water bottle looking cups have all the issues.
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While trying the get the nipple part back into the plastic ring while matching up the notches at the same time it pops though and I ave to start all over again, this will happen two or three times before I can get it in correctly.
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And without fail every time I screw the top on this one I do it wrong and it leaks and leaks. I usually end up hand washing a Take & Toss cup at this point because I’m too frustrated to invest any more time in the cup that should be run over by the minivan. On the off chance that the top gets put on correctly the first time and I give the girls these cups, after a few minutes I realize that the air release hole is too small so it makes getting anything out of the cup really difficult. Again, I give up on these.
Then there are these blue and red cups also by Nuby.

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These cups have the same assembly as the taller Nuby cup previously mentioned and although still a pain to match up the notches on the two part lid, the larger size and softer spout part seems to make it slightly easier to get done correctly. I would go to these first is all my other first choices needed to be washed.

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These next cups are by MAM a Swiss company and are popular all over the world. I saw them in the grocery store in Israel when we were there over the summer.

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They are super cute and modern looking and have the oz measurements on the side which is very helpful if you are using to mix formula. But they should come with assembly instructions and are like a puzzle to put together.

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Also the cap is extremely difficult to get off and when you have a hungry screaming baby a stuck cap can pretty much ruin your day. But the biggest issue with these cups is that in order for the baby to draw out the liquid they have to press their lips together on the spout really firmly, so this is difficult for a small baby to do. The cups are recommended for six months and up but there was no way my six months old had the strength to do this. By the time they were strong enough to get the liquid out the spout the flow was too slow and they would get frustrated with the cups and give up. SO we just retired these completely.

This next group are the Straw cups we have tried. Sometimes the girls seem to have no issues with the straw cups as far as getting the water (we only give them water in straw cups) out of the cup and other times they just can’t do it. I’m sure as they get older these will get more use.
These two cups are fine. The pink and green one is a Nuby and the blue and green is a Playtex.
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The tops screw on easy, they don’t spill, they just have a lot of parts and the straws take some time to thread back though after disassembling for washing.
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I would buy these again if we ever have the need for more straw cups.
And lastly, more cups that should be run over or stuffed down the garbage disposal. These Nuby Straw cups have all the same issues as their counterparts mentioned above.
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The rubber straw part is difficult to get in place without it popping through and the top is tricky to screw on properly. They don’t spill once everything is assembled correctly, but they are really just more effort than they are worth, and they don’t even have a little turtle shell for the straw like the above two styles.
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Don’t buy this kind.
So there you have it, my take on the sippy cup options. There are certainly other options out there that we could have tried but with most baby products there are endless possibilities and you just have to stop somewhere. Children are very adaptable and will make due with what they have. I on the other hand must have the product that will save me the most time and energy so that I can spend more time and energy just enjoying Talia and Jordan.
Every morning and every night when I lay them down in the living room to drink their milk I always kiss their heads and ell them how much I love them.
Side note: there is a cup that I have seen several of my friend using by Nuk that comes highly recommended.
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Bits & Pieces

by Juliemara
10.26.12

My favorite blogger James Kicinski-Mccoy did a bits and pieces post today, check it out, she takes beautiful photos of her four children. She asked her readers to share their bits & pieces. So here is a quickie post of our bath and bed time bits and pieces

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1/talia bushes her teeth after bath, 2/jordan does pull up on the shower curtain rod, 3/ abba on diaper duty

4/us trying to wrangle two toddlers for lotion and pajamas, 5/brushing crazy hair

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12 month well baby visit

by Juliemara
10.26.12

I really like our pediatrician. He is so nice, really calm and personable, he knows the answers to all of our questions and he makes me believe that he truly thinks I have the cutest babies ever (which of course I believe wholeheartedly, but recognize that other may not feel quite the same, and I’m ok with it).
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Wednesday the girls had their 12 month well baby visit. Talia and Jordan are both in excellent health, right on for their development pace and perfect for their body mass. Yeah!

Here are the actual stats:

Talia – Baby A
Height 28.75″ 25-50%
Weight 19lbs 25-50%

Jordan -Baby B
Height 28.15″ 15-25%
Weight 19.1 lbs 25-50%

They were being so funny in the office, running in circles around the tiny room, Jordan learned to turn the light on and off, which both thrilled her and I think scared her a little too. Talia kept pointing at the Nemo poster on the wall and saying “bubble” or what sounds like it.

The girls had to get three shots, they were not happy while it was happening but recovered really quickly.

I took the day off work since the appointment was mid day, super fun for me!

After the girls took their afternoon nap we took hem for a special treat of frozen yogurt. Talia enjoyed it 20121025-141225.jpg
but Jordan just couldn’t get it together. 20121025-160248.jpgShe finally snapped out of it afterward when we visited baby gap to see what was new.

And the doctor said that if we ever want to sleep through the night, LET THEM CRY! More on that tomorow and in weeks to come.

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Always learning something new

by Juliemara
10.1.12

We are lucky enough to have a nanny who loves them and takes amazing care of them while we are at work. She is always creating fun activities for the girls and showing them new things. The other day she brought the girls special markers! Special magic markers for one year olds.

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And they colored their very first pictures! These are pictures of Sukkahs, a hut Jewish people build in their yards to celebrate the fall harvest! The holiday started last night and goes for eight days. Happy Sukkah!

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Early Birthday Party!

by Juliemara
09.20.12

We went to North Carolina this past weekend to spend the Jewish New Year with my family. It’s always fun to go to my parents house and hangout for a few days. We also got to see lots of extended family and friends. Since it will be a while before we are with so many cousins at once my mom wanted to throw a little early birthday party for the girls. So we had party hats, plates and bran muffins with whip cream and chocolate sprinkles. The girls mastered the cake smash the first time. I’m so proud of them. They also seam to really like bran muffin an they really liked the whip cream. They licked it all off the top before starting on the muffin.

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Good little eaters

by Juliemara
09.18.12

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We have really good eaters. Yes, it takes some coaxing when a new food is presented but with a little time and patience these two little buggers will eat pretty much anything.

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We still stay mostly away from foods that require those chomped teeth in the back to really break down, but even when we do feed them these tougher foods we either cut them tiny enough to swallow whole, about a quarter inch square or they just spit out what they can’t break down.

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We always give them a sippy cup of water with each meal or snack. It’s easy to forget that babies need to drink their water too. They are still too young to ask for it.

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We have learned that the babies eat fine when we feed them by themselves but they eat and sit so nicely when we eat with them and even more so when there are other children at the table. They are mesmerized by other kids, it really fun to watch.

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Sometimes what seams important one day is ridiculous the next…

by Juliemara
09.13.12

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Two and half years ago when we got married I registered for 16 place settings of beautiful fine china. It was Micheal Aram for Waterford.

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I got most of it, about twelve place setting and all the serving pieces. I loved unpacking each of the boxes and carefully organizing the plates by size into the special china bags to store them in. Then before I had the babies I went to bed bath and beyond and ordered the remaining sets I had registered for. I knew that if I didn’t do it before the girls were born I never would. I still have yet to unpack those last four sets and 10 bowls. And part of me wishes I had all melamine dishes like those beautiful colorful ones in the photo above from an adorable little store in Jaffa called Sofie. You can find their adorable products on line here.
Se la vie. You live and you learn.

I’ll let you know when I get around I using the fine china I loved so much.

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