Wellness Visit Tips. A Twin Mom Experience!

Navigating Wellness Visits. Identifying Your Twins. Getting Your Questions Answered.

Navigating Wellness Visits. Identifying Your Twins. Getting Your Questions Answered.

Becoming a mommy means getting familiarized with all of the fun that a wellness visit with the pediatrician brings. I clearly say that sarcastically, because in case you missed the title, we’re talking about wellness visits, twin style! Doctor’s appointments can be emotional for any parent. You get to deal with shots, tears, and just general developmental worries. “Is my child gaining enough, Are they eating enough, Are they hitting all of their milestones?” With twins, you also get the added bonus of just making sure that you aren’t losing track of anybody once they realize that you aren’t really making that fun stop at the toy store.

They basically walked around like they owned the place, exploring anything and everything within reach. Their visit from 6 months ago was a little bit different because, we had their big sister and my husband tag along with us, and I’m also completely sure that the twins came riding in their double stroller. This time I figured that since they’re such great walkers now, Ehh why not? Right. Well, I might have been overly optimistic about my plan.

Helpful Check-Up Tips

1. Bring The Stroller/ Babywear
My very first useful tip would be to bring your stroller, or babywear your twins for their doctor’s visits. I didn’t this time, and while it wasn’t a huge deal (2 kids, 2 arms, no problem!) it became super inconvenient when signing them in, filling out papers, or even in between their check-ups when one child or the other was completely like, “I’m out of here mom!” It might have been easier to just strap them in and take them out when needed. Now, I do drive our double stroller like a BOSS, so cutting corners around their pediatrician’s office has never been an issue for me, but if your office has smaller spaces, then maybe baby wearing would be a better option for you.

2. Dress Them Comfy
Another great tip to think about before you even step foot out of your front door is to really take into consideration what you’re dressing your twins in for the day. When our twins were younger, we always chose to bring them in their onesies if it was warm, and sleepers when it was cold. It made things super easy because literally 5 seconds after arriving they’re telling you to undress your babies anyway! If your visits aren’t hectic enough, the last thing you want to be doing is wrestling over dressing and undressing, zippers and buttons, and losing tiny socks.

3. Dress Them With Identifiers
A lot of these tips can also apply to moms of singletons, (There I go using that word again.) but only a mother of multiples understands how important it is to help office staff identify your children! I can’t stress this enough, they will ask you at least 3 times before walking out of there, “Which one is this again?” Something super simple that I’ve learned in the last 2 years is to give the twins identifiers to help with any confusion. When they were still infants, I would dress them in different socks so that after getting them undressed it was still easier to differentiate between Baby A in the blue socks, and Baby B in the gray socks. The doctor has seen our boys plenty of times. Even more than the average number of visits, because they were preemies. Even more than the average number of preemie baby visits, because one of our sons has dealt with a few medical issues in his short life. Their doctor often still can’t tell them apart because well, identical twins, and because they’ve both grown and changed a lot since the last time she saw them. The boys also see the same few nurses when we go, and even though they recognize us when we walk through the door, they still don’t always know which twins is which. Now that they’re older, nothing has changed. I don’t often dress our twins alike anyway, but if I do, it won’t be on a trip to the doctor. I’ll choose to dress them differently, put a different cloth diaper pattern on them both, or I’ll still stick to my simple handy dandy sock trick.

4. Write Down Your Answers
I don’t know how it is for you, but we get asked the same few questions on our trips to the pediatrician. “How are they eating for you? How much? What are they eating? What are they drinking? How much? How often?” As many times as I’ve been asked these questions, I still catch myself stalling for answers. How much are they drinking? I don’t know, a cups worth of milk. But how many ounces are actually in their cups? Then, they use more than one cup throughout the day. But are they about the same size? I find that I tend to question myself sometimes! So, I started making notes in my phone. I don’t always need them as a reference, but it’s nice to have, especially with everything else going on in that moment.

5. Write Down Your Questions
The same way it can be helpful to write down your answers, it’s extremely helpful to write down your questions. When we’re going back and forth between actual check-ups, height and weight, keeping your twins close, out of the cabinets, and whatever else they’re up to, it’s so easy to forget some of your questions or concerns. Our office is always friendly and helpful, so if I ever need to call back with a question it’s no problem, but I feel better asking their doctor in person. A day or so before coming in, I jot down things in my phone so that nothing is going unanswered.

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10 Ways to Cut Your Household Expenses

With our new year already in full swing, everyone is interested in getting their fresh start, decluttering, organizing, and cutting their expenses to better be able to keep themselves on the straight and narrow for the next 12 months. I am definitely one of those people! I try to stay focused on my fabulously frugal goals always, but having that cliché “New year, New me” feeling really kicks that into high gear. I always get a ton of questions about ways to cut back and save less, but most of the time the outlook is only about cutting a monetary number in half, or decreasing the value of a bill.

I’m here to share 10 ways to cut your household expenses, just by making a few simple lifestyle changes, and switching up how you look at your everyday life.

1. Reuse, Repurpose, and Do It Yourself

Every Frugal OG knows the life of reusing, repurposing, and learning to do things yourself! This is a very broad category for frugal living, but it can definitely be applied nearly everywhere. Apply this philosophy to furniture, car maintenance, carryout containers, mason jars, beauty and grooming, simple home renovations, the list goes on. Don’t get me wrong, because I’m not saying that you should be so frugal that you’re electrocuting yourself, or causing a home flood for trying to do it all yourself, but a little research and a Youtube video or two could definitely get you out of a few costly expenses, and it could also have you on the road to learning a new trade, or creating yourself a side hustle.

2. Cut the Cable, Cheaper Phone Plans, Read for Fun

Cut back on electronics! Taking up reading instead of watching is an easy way to cut an expense. The less tv you’re watching, the less you need tv and cable at your disposal. I was one of those people that always said that I couldn’t do it. I would NEVER get rid of my cable. I’m a stay at home mom, and after a long day sometimes a girl just needs a good dose of trashy reality tv! However, I did it. I’ve done it. I invested in a fire stick, and I’ve always been a faithful Netflix and Hulu user, so I’ve been happy with the household expense difference ever since. This expense cut won’t fit everyone, but this is normally a BIG expense that can make a difference if it’s an option for you. There are now so many options to still get access to great shows or the channels that you enjoy. A great way to cut electronic expenses are cheaper phone plans, and no contract phones. I’m still team iPhone, I haven’t had to give up smart phone life (I’m a blogger, so it isss actual conducive to my business) and I’m not trapped into a contract, and I can upgrade whenever I want, and I’m more likely to do so when I actually have the money.

3. Utilize Your Local and Public Resources 

While you’re cutting cable and becoming a reading warrior, you should also learn to use your public resources; like the library. The library has options for books so you can save a few pennies before purchasing your own. It also has movies for rent while you’re learning to live your new cable free life. Also, did you know that a lot of local libraries provide cool (and FREE) events for your littles throughout the month? While you’re looking for kid friendly fun, you can also look for local Rec and Community Centers and invest in an affordable membership. Many places will work with you and base your monthly cost off of your household income.

4. Buy Reusable vs Buying Disposable

I like plastic and paper plates just as much as the next person that occasionally hates washing dishes, BUT it really doesn’t save you any money at all. I remember living in my first apartment with my husband and never buying real baking dishes. I only needed them once in a blue moon, so I always chose to buy disposable instead. Years later .. still never bought a baking dish! The amount of times I ended up using a disposable option, I could have just bought a reusable dish (or two) with all of that money instead. Plates, utensils, water bottles, whatever the case may be, buy them all reusable, and not disposable.

5. Cook at Home, Cook From Scratch, Plant When Possible

My favorite thing to talk about when it comes to saving money on groceries and cooking is to start Meal Planning. I have a great break down for it here on my blog. Planning your meals helps to prevent over spending, cooking those meals from scratch help cut costs on premade and prepackaged items, and learning to be sustainable with your fresh produce by learning to plant your own saves cost (and possibly even your health) on your fresh ingredients.

6. Laundry Times, Laundry Temps, Laundry Frequency

I’ve heard once that doing dishes, laundry, and using your electric essentials between certain hours of the day can actually help to lower your energy costs. It didn’t make sense to me at first, but I became genuinely curious so I started to research it. I even went as far as trying it out for a while and really going over my energy bill at the end of the month and surprisingly I actually saw a difference. I started cautiously doing laundry after 7pm, which was the little energy trick that I picked up. I also washed in only cold water, and tried to decrease our laundry frequency (which is surprisingly hard with a family of 5!) but I tried to make it work.

7. Paying Off Credit Cards to a $0 balance

Don’t let anyone convince you otherwise that massive credit card debt is absolutely necessary for daily living. It’s NOT. I do however believe in them for emergency purposes (Although emergency savings should always come first) and building some sort of credit history, but if you’re looking to decrease your household expenses, a great way to do that is to pay down the unnecessary debt that’s wallowing over your head. Once it’s paid off, stick to the 30% utilization rule, and keep your monthly payments low.

8. Buy Used Cars

I know it seems nearly impossible with all of the fancy and flashy cars on the road, but say it with me, and more importantly start saying it to yourself when it’s time to car shop, “The value of a new car depreciates as soon as you drive it off of the lot.” More importantly, after you’ve paid a car payment between $300 – $400 for a year or two, how’s it feel knowing that it still won’t technically be yours to own until another couple thousand dollars are paid? New cars also mean higher required car insurance, on top of your regular gas and maintenance. Buying used isn’t always a taboo. It shouldn’t be. Any car can break down, any car can throw you curveballs, but a car that’s bought outright makes it yours. Yours to sell with no lien, and yours to junk if need be with no burden of still paying a remaining balance. One of the worst feelings is having something happen to your car and still having your loan creep over your head for something you aren’t even enjoying anymore.

9. Date Nights In

My husband and I are just natural homebodies (A match made in heaven!) so it’s always been pretty easy for us to get creative and just enjoy time together from the comfort of our own home. No lines, no crowds, and no extra spending! If you’re a couple that naturally likes to be out and about, that’s fine too. To cut back on expenses, start incorporating more nights in by renting a movie at home vs seeing one in theaters, or cooking your own romantic dinner together vs sitting down at a restaurant. For the times where you do want to get out of the house, check Groupon for local events in your area, or opt to grab cheaper prices by doing a lunch date vs a dinner date.

10. Kids Day “Out”

This same concept of “Date Night In” can even be applied to fun times for the kids. Let them do movie night in the living room, where you create fun treats, and make them their own movie boxes for snacking. You could also plan a scavenger hunt around your house or backyard, do a paint night for kids where you invite a few other friends over, and if the weather permits, the backyard possibilities could be endless for affordably fun times.

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Little Ocean’s Fluff Cloth Diaper Review

*DISCLAIMER* This is a sponsored post. While I was compensated for this review, all thoughts and opinions are my own. For more information, please refer to my disclosure page.

I had the pleasure of working with Little Ocean’s Fluff to provide you with this post and quick review. In case you’re unfortunately out of the loop, Little Ocean’s Fluff is a small Etsy shop that specializes in affordable cloth diapers. They also sell T-shirts, totes, stickers, and buttons. All to represent a little bit of cloth diaper love. They also work with a few other Work At Home Moms to create and design some of their accessory products, so shopping with them means support for a few hard working Mompreneurs (Which I am ALL for) and helping them to support their families.

It was such a pleasure working with Mala. She’s friendly, she responds to questions quickly, and she definitely delivers. These are all things that I normally look for when I’m shopping small, because I love the feeling of a personable purchase. It’s nice to feel like the owner is really working to provide you with a positive experience and a quality product. Something that can often get lost with larger companies.

 

My Honest Review

The Print

I received their I Pump Love Diaper. They also have a few other prints listed in their shop, but I chose this one specifically, because I exclusively pumped with my twins, and that’s something near and dear to me. I spent the first 2 ½ months away from my preemie babies, so initially nursing wasn’t an option, and eventually latching was a struggle. They were able to get breastmilk for a solid 8 months without nursing, so I’m all for the support of pumping liquid gold for your babies. Much like nursing, pumping is hard work, and some bodies don’t respond as well to a pump as it naturally would to your baby. So yay for pumping, and yay to Little Ocean’s Fluff for selling this print!

The Cut

It’s a one-size pocket diaper with snaps for both the rise and the waist. I cloth diaper 3 little ones, so this is the type of cover that we prefer to stick to for flexibility. It really provides the opportunity for a custom fit for each one of our children. For example, one of my twins has slightly chunkier thighs, and definitely a larger waist than my other son, and my daughter. I’ve used this cover on him, and also on my daughter to test out the fit.

Durability/ Quality

At this point I’ve washed the cover (two times from after use, one initial wash). I unfortunately also got to test out how the cover takes both pee, and poop. Nothing like breaking in a new cloth diaper like doing it with a diaper full of poop, right? I obviously haven’t had a ton of uses out of it, but the cover held up great during the few washes it did endure. There was no staining on the cover, which I always have to jump for joy for when trying out a new cloth diaper brand. Apartment living isn’t always conducive to sunning your diapers, so it’s great that everything came out with a simple wash. I didn’t notice any fading from the cover. In fact, it essentially looks the same as the day that I got it.

The overall quality of the diaper is a 10 in my book. I see no issues with the snaps, or the lining of the cover. I often see more affordable diapers get a bad rep for quality, but affordable DOES NOT mean cheap. Especially when it comes to this diaper.

The Price

Little Oceans Fluff specializes in cloth diapers of a more affordable price point, so this diaper is listed for only $8.50 along with their other prints. That’s a price that I can’t complain about. When I do cloth diaper purchases, that’s the price point that I try to stay in. Diapering of any kind can get pretty expensive when you’re covering 3 booties.

Overall, Little Ocean’s Fluff gets 5 snaps from me. I love supporting family business, shopping small, and finding a new quality diaper to add to my stash is just icing on the cake.

 

Please feel free to use my coupon code CHICDOMESTIC10 for 10% off your purchase with Little Ocean’s Fluff.

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Potty Training a Child With a Speech Delay

I’ve finally reached the dreaded parenting hurdle that is potty training. Now don’t get me wrong, I absolutely want a potty trained toddler. In fact, I can’t wait! The only problem is, I would want it even more if I could blink my eyes and have it happen without my floors taking a hit from the accidents, or that feeling of a mini heart attack when you think its “go time” when in reality, their tiny bladders won’t be ready until exactly 5 seconds after you get them off of the toilet. Fun times, fun times. If potty training isn’t a huge hurdle within itself, I knew that potty training my little one with a speech delay might add an extra bit of complication.

I started doing some research, because I really plan to succeed. My daughter will be three in a few months so, no pressure, and I’m also not expecting a potty trained in 3 days sort of success story. However, what I plan to accomplish is for her to nail the concept that peeing in the potty: good, Peeing on the rug: bad. Even though we haven’t consistently attempted training yet, she does know to sit and stay on the potty. I’m just not so sure she understands why, and I’m absolutely positive that she doesn’t know to ask when it is time to go. All in all, my biggest issue I foresee in the process will be communicating. This will be where I get to be the innovative mommy that I am, and find out just what works for my little one.

She does a little bit better with receptive language, so getting her to understand. “Do you have to use the potty?” or “Do you have to use the bathroom?” and what that really means will be my easier communication task. After all, that’s normally where you start anyway. Constantly asking and playing the guessing game with timing, and then eventually they start to understand and come to you when they need to use the bathroom. The bigger task will be getting her to respond with appropriate answers (or answer me at all) and then eventually using her expressive language to come to me on her own to let me know that she needs to go.

How to Know They’re Ready

A big part of beginning the potty training process is knowing that your child is ready. If they aren’t ready, you won’t be getting far on the success train. You want your child to be willing and open to learning, and not trying to avoid the potty at all costs. No one wants a child with potty trauma, and toilet paper nightmares. If your child will at least sit there for prolonged periods of time, start there. Things will eventually progress from there, just remember to listen to your child and what they’re ready for.

A Few Easy Signs
• Pulling at a wet or dirty diaper
• Being noticeably uncomfortable in a soiled diaper
• Hiding to pee or poop
• Interest in others using the bathroom (Not to be confused with them stalking you in the bathroom)
• Telling you when they have to go, or have already gone to the bathroom
• Asking to be changed

My Potty Training Game Plan

My daughter shows a few clear physical signs that she might be ready to officially start potty training, but again, I’m not looking for a potty trained in 3 day success story. Who knows, she might surprise me! At the very least, I know that she’s more than capable of working towards our end goal. She has no problem sitting on the potty for prolonged periods of time. This is something that we’ve done with her off and on for a few months now, just not consistently. She physically just wasn’t completely ready.

Now that we’ve made it to that point, I want to start to remove her attachment to diapers in the daytime. We have to teach her to slowly become aware of her body’s elimination signals first, and then we will move on to teaching her how to respond appropriately to those elimination signals by either coming to one of us to communicate, or going straight to her potty. If you’ve been tuned in to my blog for a while now, you’ll know that I’m a cloth diaper mama, so we’re opting to try out cloth training pants for this portion of our potty training journey. This also works just fine with throwing on regular underwear, or just cutting down on dirty underwear laundry all together, and just letting them run commando. Unfortunately, we have carpet and we currently rent, sooo no thank you!

*Mom Tip!* If you’re choosing the commando route (and even if you aren’t) keep a bottle of cleaner handy for accidents .. you’ll more than likely need it.

What You Need To Start
• Potty or Potty Seat
• Underwear or Cloth Training Pants
• Step Stool (Optional)
• Potty Visuals
• Positive Reinforcement (The Potty Box of Rewards)

I have both a potty seat for the toilet, and a regular mobile potty for my daughter to use. I prefer the toilet seat, because I find it easier for her to make the recognition that this is where using the bathroom happens for everyone, and she also really likes to flush the big toilet by herself. I’m going to be placing her on the potty between 15 and 20 minute intervals, and I plan to keep my schedule flexible, but as consistent as possible. She’s also in part time preschool so I’ll also be working around her school schedule a bit as far as time of day goes, but our rough time frame schedule will always be first thing in the morning, 10 minutes after eating and drinking, and immediately before and after naptime and bedtime.

I want to start my daughter out using potty visuals. She uses visuals a lot in preschool to communicate with her teacher, so I want to incorporate that into our potty routine. I created a 123 step poster to show Step 1: Got to Go, Step 2: Potty Time, and Step 3: All Done. I will also be incorporating some sign language, so that she can sign things like “Potty” and “All done” to better communicate when she is ready to go on her own.

Last but certainly not least, I plan to create a fun box of rewards for her to utilize positive reinforcement, which she loves. Along with lots of claps and praise for going successfully, I bought some fun items like stickers, and tiny toys from the dollar store, and food is always a great motivation for her, so sometimes I plan to offer her small snacks like gold fish crackers when she uses the potty successfully. Eventually she will realize that using the bathroom in the potty is a good thing, and she will be more compelled to continue to use it when good things happen and she’s rewarded for it.

*Mom Tip!* A good must have if you’re planning on frequent outings, and potty training on the go is a travel potty.

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Simply Things That Can Save You Money, and How to Live a Frugal Life

Some of society’s most asked questions are centered around money. Everyone wants to make more of it, and everyone wants advice on how to spend it when you have it, and how to spend it when you don’t. “What are some simple things that can save me money?” “What can I do to decrease my spending?” “How do I live a more frugal lifestyle without living like I’m broke?” It’s really what we all want, right? We want to find ways to save our coins, and fill our pockets. If saving money were really that easy, we would all be doing it though, right? Saving money takes discipline, time, and dedication that not everyone just has. It’s all a learning process.

Living a more frugal life doesn’t have to be a ton of drab lifestyle changes, in fact, a few small tweaks and you can be on your way to adjusting. Being frugal can very much still be fabulous, and you won’t even have to always feel like you’re giving up the things that you love. I want to share some pretty simple ways to save. Things that don’t take a lot of effort, just a few self-reminders along the way to keep you on track, and before you know it, you’ll realize that frugal can be fabulous too!

• BE CONTENT
A great way to get on the road to saving is learning to be content. Everyone driving an expensive car, and wearing expensive things is NOT secretly rolling in money. The first thing you need to do is learn to be content, and be happy with the things that you already have, instead of keeping up with other people, or always feeling like you “need” more.
Decrease Your Expenses
Another part of being content is decreasing your expenses. When you’re trying to figure out what you can cut back on in your budget, or things that you can get at a cheaper rate, it’s easier to start on your variable expenses first. These will be expenses that vary month to month, your things that may or may not be essential. You have to decide what you’re ready to let go of, and what you really need. I talk more about this in my How to Create a Household Budget.

• Get Out Of Debt
Debt will hold you back for as long as you have it! Having debt means that you have money going out that you could be using to save, or put towards things that you really need. A good way to work towards spending less money, is to free up the money that you’re already spending. Plus, nobody wants to have crazy debt! *Inserts a double thumbs down*

Buy your needs not your wants
Before making purchases, ask yourself if it’s a need or a want. Mind over matter. You need food, water, clothing, shelter. BUT, do you need a meal from a fancy restaurant vs eating at home? Do you need name brand, all the time? Do you need the home with more square feet than you need, and all of the bells and whistles that you really can’t afford at the time? NO, probably not.

• 24 hour Wait Period, No Spend Periods
Start to make conscious decisions with your spending. If you can decide if something is an actual need or a want, give yourself a 24 hour wait period of time before making a purchase. If after 24 hours you still feel like you need it, then you can reconsider. You can also try NO spend periods, where you consciously decide to spend no extra money outside of necessities and household expenses. I attempt to keep up with doing this at least one week out of the month. No eating out, no outside fun and activities that cost money, and absolutely no extra shopping. I find that as time goes on, it gets easier and easier to concur a no spend period. If you’re new at this, first try to get through a weekend without spending, then increase it to a week, then maybe even longer.

• Carry Cash and Save Your Change
I don’t know if this is a frugal tip, or more of a money saving tip. I read all of the time how swiping a card lessens your attachment to your money. I’ve tried it, the whole carrying around only cash thing and let me tell you, it worked for me. I didn’t want to spend 5 dollars, let alone 20 dollars. I couldn’t bear to let precious green friends slip through my fingers! It was terrible. Also while using cash, it was easier for me to keep my change for savings. It’s crazy just how quickly change can add up when you save it and let your savings grow.

• Buy Used Cars
This isn’t always an ideal tip, and sometimes you have to do what you have to do, but if you can, buy used and save and pay for your cars in CASH. It’s no secret that cars lose value as soon as you drive them off of the lot. It sounds nice to have the car with all of the bells and whistles, but not so nice to have all of the debt that comes along with it. I’ve had both a car with a car payment, and a car that we bought used and paid cash for. Surprisingly, guess which one gave me more trouble in a 3 year span? Used does not always mean unreliable, and it doesn’t always mean old and broken down. Learning to love your used car that might be a year or so behind is all a part of my first tip. Be content.

• Learning to Coupon and Stockpile
Couponing isn’t some brand new frugal secret, it’s actually been around for what seems like forever. However, it’s no secret that couponing has recently gotten a face lift and a little bit of revamped popularity. There are resources everywhere to learn and start, FREE resources. You can find information online in blogs, there are Facebook groups that you can join, or you can even ask a coupon savvy friend if you have one. Once you get the hand of it, stockpiling will soon become your new best friend.

• Money = Time, and Time is Money
Being frugal is all about your mindset. Being frugal is about learning to value your money, and living and learning to live on less. Like I said before, everyone wants to make more money, and everyone wants advice on how to spend it when you have it, and how to spend it when you don’t, but nobody ever asks how to value whatever amount that you have. Start to think of your money like this, time is money, and money is time. Before you’re making an impulse purchase, think about just how long and hard you had to work to afford it. Say you’re buying yet another pair of shoes that would end up costing you like $50. If you’re making $20 an hour, then those shoes just cost you 2 ½ hours of your time. Suppose you make even less, at $10 an hour, those shoes just cost you 5 hours of your time.

I hope you found these easy tips helpful to you. Changing your lifestyle will always become a trial and error situation, but the longer you work at it the easier it will become. I wish you nothing but luck on your fabulously frugal journey. It will take time and adjustments, and it won’t always be easy.

Be sure to check out my pinterest boards for fabulous penny pinchers like yourself for tips, tricks, and inspiration here.

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