Retirement Party Fun

Last weekend we had a retirement party for Mrs. Graves (No, not me. Jacquetta Graves) and Mrs. Johnson. And when I say “we,” I use the word very loosely because Garen and I can’t take credit for much since his sisters and Connie’s daughters did most of the work, along with some talented friends that do catering professionally.   Jacquetta and Connie touched so many lives. It was quite obvious from the wonderful showing at the reception.   The party had a beautiful teacher theme, complete with a display of teaching memories they’ve collected over the years.  Each table had photos of them and notecards for guests to write best wishes, thoughts, and memories to the two ladies. I know they have enjoyed reading these and that they will be cherished.    The color scheme was pink and turquoise, their favorite colors, as were the cakes. 

    I’m pretty sure Will and Anna had at least two pieces of cake and a few cookies each. 

  We got to take some family photos too, which isnt always an easy thing to coordinate. 

 It was wonderful and so special for them to see how much they mean to their community. They are two very special ladies. I know they will be sorely missed but we are excited to get to spend more time with MaMa.  

What to Buy for Twins – Part 2: Infant Gear

I did a lot of research and talking to other mothers of multiples to find out what gear we needed for twins. There are a lot of articles out there but here’s my opinions:

What you Need 2 of:

What is Nice to have 2 of:

  • Cribs (our girls have always slept separately)
  • Bouncer/vibrator chairs (try two get two different types so you can switch; we used these do feed them their bottles in)   
  • Swing/MamaRoo (try two get two different types so you can switch out when they get tired of them; we had one MamaRoo and one swing)
  • Bumbo seat 
  • Baby carriers or sling (baby bjorn or whatever is given to you because chances are you wont use these too much if you’re like me because what do you do about the other baby)
  • Exersaucers (try two get two different types so you can switch out when they get tired of the one they’re in; we have one that’s more of a bouncer and one is an exersaucer)
  • An extra set of car seat/baby carrier bases (we have a see for each vehicle and it makes it a LOT easier than moving them back and forth)

What you only need 1 of:

  • Playmat/gym (we have two because we had one and got another that has an awesome keyboard but you could totally only use one)

 

  • Pac N Play (if you can get the twin one with dividing bassinets it works great for the early days)
  • Diaper bag (we have an extra on hand in case we need to divide and conquer)
  • Baby monitor (unless you’re using video and then you’ll probably only need one monitor but two cameras)
  • Bath chair or bathing equipment (we only bathe them one at a time so this may change but I think you probably only need one to begin with)

Also, check out my post on What to Buy for Twins- Part 1: Furniture for more tips. 

I’d love to hear your comments and recommendations!

Cilantro-Lime Fruit Salad

This salad was supposed to be a mojito fruit salad but Kroger was out of mint. Soooo… I decided to try it with cilantro since I had some from the BBQ Pineapple Ham Sauté that I made.  

 I used fruit that was cut up and left over from my mother-in-law’s fabulous retirement party. 

Ingredients:

  • About 4 cups watermelon, cut into bite size pieces 
  • About 3 cups, sliced strawberries 
  • Lime juice, either 1/2 cup or 6 limes
  • 6 tbsp sugar (powdered sugar can be used for a thicker consistency)
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped

  Instructions:  

Put the cut fruit and chopped cilantro in a large bowl. In a small bowl mix the lime juice and sugar until dissolved. Pour the mixture over the fruit and mix well. Put it in the refrigerator for at least 15 minutes to let the juices soak together. 

  It makes a big bowl. Probably 8 large servings worth. I might freeze some of it to make smoothies….or frozen adult beverages. 

Garen’s review:  “It’s good. Very refreshing. Less watermelon.” Did I mention he doesn’t like watermelon? We needed to use it though. 

Repurposing Food: BBQ Pineapple Ham Sauté 

Garen’s mom is always great about sending a care package home with us when we visit. This week we got ham. Yum! 

 
I looked on Pinterest to try to find recipes of what to do with leftover ham since all of my go-to leftover ham recipes are kind of cold weather food (soups, casseroles, etc.). The closest thing I found to a summer recipe was ham kabobs but ours was sliced ham so that wasn’t optimal. 

  
So I decided to make up my own sauté version. I call it BBQ Pineapple Ham Sauté. Very original, I know. Here it is:

Ingredients:

  • About 6 slices of 1/4 inch ham (sorry I didn’t weigh it- it was leftover and you use what you’ve got)
  • 1 20 oz can pineapple chunks with juice (I used Kroger brand)
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro (or more if you like it a lot)
  • 1/2 cup BBQ sauce

  
Instructions:

Cut up the ham into bite size pieces. Chop up the cilantro. Put the ham and cilantro into the pan. Dump in the pineapple with its juice. Add the BBQ sauce. Stir to cost everything. 

Bring to a simmer.  Simmer for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until the sauce gets thick and the ham and pineapple gets some color. 

It made enough for about 4 people. 

 

As you can see, we ate it with grilled corn on the cob (also thanks to the care package from Jacquetta) and a Cilantro-Lime Fruit Salad (leftover fruit from Jacquetta’s retirement party).

Review from Garen: “Pretty good. Very strong.” Then he said it was “flavorful.” (I think that was one of those moments when he thought he might hurt my feelings. Such as gentleman). He recommended serving it on rice and said he’d order it so I guess it must be decent. 

Mommy Review Monday: Ingenuity Trio 3-in-1 SmartClean High Chair

Our last big baby purchases were two high chairs. I did a little research and found that the Ingenuity Trio 3-in-1 SmartClean High Chair was the one that would work best for our house and budget. 

  
What we like about them:

  • They look good (we think). I think the turquoise and white is simple and not too flashy like some you see. 

  

  • The tray comes on and off easily and adjusts in and out to accommodate growth. 
  • You can stick both layers of the tray in the dishwasher. See below for more about this. 
  • The chair is super easy to wipe down. 

  

  • The harnesses keep the girls in easily and help them to sit up easier since they can’t quite do it completely on their own. 

  

  • It transitions to a toddler seat that you can pull up to the table. It also can be put on a chair. Super handy, although, our babies are still using it as a high chair so I don’t know how well it will work. 

  

  • The price was reasonable. 

What could be improved:

  • The casters don’t roll all that great. This isn’t a deal breaker for us since we don’t have to move them far. 
  • The trays are slightly too big for our dishwasher but any smaller and they might not be big enough to be useful. We will probably do this periodically just to sanitize. 

  

  • It could be sturdier but it doesn’t seem dangerous… obviously since I have chosen to keep and use them. 
  • This is a long-shot but it would be awesome if you could pull the seat off and put it in the dishwasher too. Keep in mind that it already is easy to wipe down so I’m really thinking from a very lazy point of view. 

We had gift cards to Target to use, so we bought them there. Remember to take advantage of price matching if you buy them there. I think the cheapest place I found to buy them was Amazon. 

Twins Tips: Feeling Overwhelmed? Try this.  

With twins, there will be times that you’ll be overwhelmed. Here are the things I find helpful when I get this feeling (some of these apply to any situation, not just twin stress):

  • Walk outside. With or without a baby. Getting some fresh air can make a difference.  
  • Call or text a friend. Talking to an adult can make you feel better, especially if you’ve been by yourself with more than one kid. 
  • Get on Facebook. This may sound terrible but when I get on there I realize that whatever I’m dealing with is usually minimal compared to someone else’s issues. 
  • Cry if you need to. There were moments when I was by myself with two screaming babies that I just broke down. It can be a good release. 
  • On the other side of the spectrum, laugh. In stressful times, laughing is great medicine. Watch a funny show. Or better yet, watch a funny YouTube video of twins. If your babies are old enough, make them laugh. There are few things better than baby laughs and you have double the laughs. 

  

  • Get a hug. A hug from a friend or family member always feels good. 
  • Take a timeout to just look at your babies and what an amazing and crazy thing it is that you that made two at the same time. 
  • Write in a journal. Sometimes you won’t feel like talking about your feelings and that’s ok. Writing can give you the release that you don’t feel like talking about. 
  • Put yourself in your babies’ shoes (if they had shoes). Crying is the only way, as a baby, they have to communicate for a while. Sometimes when you think about it this way, it helps. 
  • If you’re a planner like me, find something to plan. It could be a menu or what you’re going to do on your first vacation away from the kids. If you’re not a planner by nature don’t do this since it will contribute to the overwhelming feeling. 
  • Call in reinforcements, if that’s an option. Even if it is only for 30 minutes, the help might be all you need. 
  • Exercise. If you’re like me, there’s no time to go to the gym. I found that exercising with your baby/ies can be fun for you and them. It could be as simple as loading them into the stroller and walking around the block or push-ups while you give baby kisses. 
  • Take a shower. This is going to sound cheesy, but while you are standing there try to imagine the water washing away your stress.  
  • Listen to your favorite music. Crank it up. Dance around. 

I do want to say that if you feel like you might be depressed, tell your doctor. Don’t ignore it. Postpartum depression is real and there is help out there for you. 

I use a combination of the above things when my stress level starts to increase. Let’s face it, not all of these are possible all the time but hopefully you’ll find something that can help you out.  

Nursing Twins- Part 2: Surviving the Early Days

As I sit here writing about the early days of nursing my two, it does seem rather blurred. I won’t lie – the first few weeks flew by for me in a haze of long days and nights but here I am, 7 months into this journey, so I feel like something went right. 

 With that said, here are the pieces of advice I have for surviving the early days with twins. Some of these things will be the same as what you may have read in articles about breastfeeding singletons. A lot of the same principles apply but I feel they are even more important to consider with two to nurse. 

  

  • Start Soon. Get started as soon as you can but don’t stress about it if you don’t immediately nurse. I had a c-section with the girls and didn’t nurse them first thing like I did with the first two and it was just fine. 
  • Lose the Modesty. (If you haven’t already from the pregnancy and delivery) If you are trying to tandem nurse, it’s hard to hide those things….especially until you figure out a position that works for you and your babies. (It will get less awkward) Again, don’t sweat it. Or, if it does make you uncomfortable for people to see a little skin,  just ask them nicely  for some privacy. You get to choose and they have to respect your wishes. 
  • Give tandem a try. Or not. I went into it knowing that if I couldn’t feed them at the same time, they were just going to be bottle fed. I didn’t want to either be nursing one at a time (which could take an hour or more for two) or nursing one, pumping, and then giving the other a bottle (which I saw as a pain). I tried tandem nursing with the football hold with my twin nursing pillow and it was the only position that worked consistently for me. I’m still tandem nursing with the football hold (7 months in) and I’m pretty sure feeding them at the same time has saved me hundreds of hours. The great thing is, you get to decide what works for you and your babies. There’s no right or wrong.
  • Pump it Up. I knew I was going back to work when they were 3 months old and that I didn’t pump as much with the first two as they wanted from a bottle while I was at work. In preparation for that I decided to start pumping after every feeding, not only to stockpile milk, but also to increase my milk supply. I started in the hospital after the girls lost some weight and needed to get supplemental bottles to help gain. I pumped plenty to avoid having to use formula to supplement in the beginning, as well as when I started back to work. 
  • Eat and drink plenty. You may be ready to lose that extra weight, but your milk supply is dependent upon you getting enough. Try to eat a healthy snack and drink some water at each feeding. If you have trouble getting enough calories, drink a protein drink or shake. 
  • Get advice. While you’re at the hospital, take advantage of the lactation consultants and nursing staff. My nurses were just as helpful as the lactation consultants were and were only a call button away. Don’t hesitate to call the lactation consultant after you go home either if you need help. A lot of hospitals have breastfeeding resource centers that you can schedule a time to come in for a consult with the babies. 
  • Bring your nursing pillow with you to the hospital, if you’re using one, so that you can practice using it with the lactation consultant and nurses’ help.
  • Schedule feedings or at least feed them at the same time. Nursing on demand never worked well for me or my babies- even with my singletons. It left me grouchy, tired, and attached to a baby about 75% of the time. It was not a good thing for my emotional state, which I believe impacts your milk supply and your baby’s demeanor too. We started a 3 hour schedule as soon as possible with the girls and it worked well. When it was time to eat we fed them both, even if we had to wake one.
  • Don’t suffer. Nipple cream and nipple shields saved me. I wouldn’t still be nursing without them. You may read that sore nipples are due to bad latch. I’m not an expert but I think that anytime you have sensitive skin being sucked on for hours a day, it seems natural that you might be sore until your skin gets used to it. Enter nipple cream. If that doesn’t work, consider nipple shields. Lactation experts will tell you not to use them but if it allows you to keep nursing, it might be worth trying. I personally have used them with all 4 kids and it hasn’t been an issue. 
  • Technology is your friend. We purchased the app, Sprout Baby, for keeping up with daily activities. There are a lot of other apps to do a lot of the same things- record feedings, diapers, etc. We chose this one because it lets you put more than one child in there and put the app on more than one device, so it was great for twins.  My husband, mom, and I all used it to keep up with things together since it synced between our phones. In those first sleepless weeks, when you struggle to remember when they ate last and how many wet diapers each baby has had in a day, having an app for it all is a lifesaver.   
  • Dress accordingly. So many companies market nursing clothes now and, while they are convenient, you don’t need a lot. For the hospital, I purchased 2 nursing sleep bras, 2 nursing gowns and a pair of pjs, all of which were super comfy and black. For going home, I brought tights, a black maternity shirt, and comfy cardigan. Easy access to nurse and comfort were my main concerns until my c-section incision healed. 
  • Accept help. This was easy for me because I already had done this before, but with twins (and older kids in my case) it was important that I accept whatever help I could get. Want to hold a baby? Sure. Want to bring dinner? Yes, please. Can we take the older kids to the park? That would be great. Now is not the time to be prideful. Accept any willing hands and remember that there are many families that might not be as fortunate to have the support. 

Last piece of advice: If at any point, breastfeeding becomes too hard or is impacting your wellbeing or your babies’ there is nothing wrong with making a change. Doing what’s best for your wellbeing is doing what is best for your family. 

My nursing experience with twins has been a good one, even if stressful and tiring at times. I realize that not everyone has as much success with this because I had a lot of good support but hopefully some of this is helpful if you’re soon having twins or if you’re a mom to twins fighting the good fight right now. 

Check out Nursing Twins – Part 1: Preparation for tips to get ready for this adventure. 

P.S. I’m not getting paid to talk about any products discussed above. 

Putting in your Resignation without Burning Bridges 

On Tuesday I accepted a new job. It was a hard decision. I LOVE my current job but I was offered a position that I couldn’t turn down. I wanted to leave the door open for future opportunities, if necessary. 

The following are my pointers if you are planning to leave on good terms:

  • Don’t tell anyone before you tell your manager. The last thing you want is for them to find out from someone else. 
  • Understand what your company requires for notice of your resignation. Some companies need a letter but mine requires you to resign online. Tell your boss before you submit anything because it likely is an automated system that will go to your manager and HR before you’ve had a chance to to talk to them. 
  • Check your company policies to see how much notice you are required to give. I was required to give at least 2 weeks to be paid my remaining PTO. I asked my new employer if I could give a month notice since there are so many projects that I’m currently involved in. My director appreciated this and I’ll be able to feel better about leaving. 
  • Tell your boss in person, if possible. If your boss is someone who is hard to find time to meet with, try to schedule a meeting with them as soon as possible. If your boss is located somewhere else, call them rather than sending an email. 
  • Before you meet with your boss, be prepared to talk about your exit strategy and how you foresee current work and/or projects being handled. Offer to help train coworkers, if possible. I’m staying on PRN (part time, as needed) for a few months to help with a few projects. Be prepared for them to ask you if this is a possibility. 
  •  They may ask you why you are leaving and what it would take for them to keep you. This won’t always happen but you should know what it would take for you to stay. 
  • Thank your boss for the opportunities you’ve had and try to give specific examples of how they’ve helped you grow professionally. 
  • Ask your boss not to tell anyone until you’ve had a chance to tell important coworkers and any mentors in person. Tell these individuals in person, if possible, as soon as you can so they don’t hear from someone else. 
  • Be prepared to be required to leave immediately, depending on your position and the situation. I had a friend that accepted a job with a competitor and he was asked to leave within about twenty minutes due to the nature of his position. Don’t take this personally. If you forsee this being the case, make sure you’ve gone through your personal files, etc. 
  • Agree to an exit interview, if asked. Be respectful and give honest, constructive feedback. Do not use this time as an opportunity to vent or complain. 
  • Leave your work area and files neat and clean. Make sure you’ve returned all company property. 
  • Make sure you understand when your benefits end and when your new benefits start so that you don’t have a gap. 
  • Update your personal information with HR to ensure you get your tax statements and any other important information in the future. 

These are the things I think are helpful to keep a good relationship with your soon-to-be former employer. Remember each situation is different, so what worked for me might not be applicable to your situation but at least it might be a helpful starting place. 

What other recommendations do you have for resignation without burning bridges?