Our precious boys...

Our precious boys...

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

LESSONS IN FRUGALITY

I’m a bargain shopper. I take great pride in finding the best deals and saving money. Recycling and reusing makes me very happy! Waste not, want not. Right? I don’t like to throw things away. Am I a hoarder? No way! Let me explain…

Nick and I are very frugal. We try not to overspend. We use coupons for what we can, wait for sales when possible, and put money away. I am so proud to say that my husband is the research king. I adore this about Nick. He loves spending time researching any item before we buy it. This is from everything as simple as laundry detergent to a bigger investment such as a flat screen tv. As you maybe can guess, Consumer Reports is one of his favorite magazines.

I'm the weirdo you seeing walking around using my calculator on my phone in stores, making sure we buy the item that you get the most of, for the best deal. (And it is so shocking to realize that more often than not, buying the items in bulk is not cheaper than a single item. Society teaches you to just assume that bulk is cheaper, but oftentimes, it is not. It’s important to take the time to do that quick simple math as it can save you lots of money!)

I must also note that of course we don't always buy the cheapest. It's not about buying the thing that costs the least amount of money. We believe it's about the best deal for the best quality. Don't get me wrong - we splurge like every normal human being. And we know that the cheapest item isn't always the best, because it's also about quality over cost. Therefore, just because an item costs the least, doesn't necessarily mean it's the best deal. (For example, if you buy a cheap TV and it breaks in a year as opposed to a little more expensive TV that is better quality and lasts 5 years...well, you get the idea.) Another big factor in buying an item is convenience and location. As sad as that may sound, it is so true, convenience is always nice. Especially when you have two little babes in the picture. And last but not least, we believe spending a little more is often worth it in order to support a local business or a business you believe in!

As you can imagine raising twins costs a lot of money. Heck, raising any child costs a lot of money. But here are a few money saving tips on little ways we've found that add up BIG when dealing with babies!

CLOTHING:
Most of the twins’ clothes are on loan, were purchased at garage sales, or were gifts to us. A handful of friends have given us their boy clothes to borrow. And we received many matching outfits as gifts for the twins. But most of all, I did mega mega garage saleing last summer. And my mom also finds a lot of great deals at thrift shops.

I’ve always loved garage saleing (One man’s junk is another’s treasure!), but I used to be the type of person that didn’t like buying used clothing. This all changed when it was time for a baby, or two! Those baby clothes hardly get used and are in such great shape. And they are so very cheap at garage sales. I found such great deals. At one garage sale, it was stuff a paper grocery bag full of any infant clothes for $5. I about had a heart attack, I was so excited!

You can find many other various baby items that haven’t even been used, yet alone opened. A friend of mine found these awesome deals for us last summer: a brand new boppy and cover for $5 total, a brand new Johnny Jump-Up for $5, a bumbo chair and attachable tray for $5, and an activity gym for $5. All of those together brand new would have cost more than $120 and we got it all for $20!

FORUMLA:
I know, I know. Breastfeeding would have been a lot cheaper, but if you’ve read any of my previous posts, you know this just didn’t work out for many different reasons. So, formula it is. We’ve priced compared and found our formula, Enfamil, is cheapest at Target. (Please note Enfamil is not the cheapest formula, but it's the one we choice to use for the twins.) It’s often on sale, so we buy it then, in the bigger bulk refill packages. We use Target coupons and also Enfamil coupons. They let you “double up” coupons there and use 2 at the same time. Plus we have the Target Card, which we receive 5% off purchases. It’s important to shop around and price compare.

BABY GEAR:
Again garage saleing and borrowing from friends.

DIAPERS:
I feel that a diaper is a diaper. It goes on their butts, so why buy brand name, when any kind will work? Thankfully, the twins haven’t had any allergic reactions to any diapers or wipes. So we can just use generic. We have found that we love the Target brand. They are the cheapest, even cheaper than Walmart, (because of our Target 5% off) and we feel they work great. (I know cloth diapers are a good option too, and I did seriously consider it and do a lot of research. But honestly poop scares me. I don’t think I could handle that, especially with twins. So, disposable diapers it is for us!)

DETERGENT:
People tell you to use the brand name baby detergent, Dreft, when washing your baby clothes. But what makes it a baby safe detergent is basically that it is fragrance free. Instead of buying Dreft, because it is horribly expensive, we just use any regular detergent that is fragrance free.

BABY WIPES:
Okay, this is the best secret ever and I am ready to share it with you! Are you ready? Here you go……..tear the baby wipes in half!!! Just tear the wipes in half and they will last TWICE AS LONG! I felt like the wipes were just too big and that so much total area on it was getting unused. What a waste, I thought! I know you fold it over and use more than one area, but it seemed so clumsy, using the whole big wipe. As a result, I just began tearing them in half and it worked so much better. I’m taking full credit for this since I’ve never seen anyone else do it. I think I may be a genius. Send any donations my way for your thankfulness…

BABY FOOD:
I am planning on making baby food to save money. I will report back soon...

That's all I have time to write right now. When I think of more, I will be sure to post!

Monday, March 28, 2011

VINCELLI WEEKEND IN OKOBOJI

Eli & Will are all ready for the weekend in their "Okoboji" sweatshirts!



This weekend we met up in Okoboji, Iowa with the extended Vincelli family. It was actually our belated Christmas get together. A little late, yes, but better late than never! No gifts, just good ol' family fun. We all stayed together in two suites at Bridges Bay. It was a great time of swimming, eating, and catching up with all 26 of us. It was great seeing all the next generation of kiddos hanging out. Oh my, what a crazy bunch.



The next generation of the Vincelli family!

Friday, March 18, 2011

6 MONTH DOCTOR APPOINTMENT

The twins had their 6 month well baby check today. The poor little guys got 5 immunizations: 4 shots and 1 liquid. This included the flu shot, since they can receive it now that they are 6 months old. (Bad news is we have to go back in one month to get the second shot for the flu shot.) They did great and didn't seem to have any pain later in the day after the initial tears.

Here's a photo of them with their bloody war wounds covered in thick gauze...or actually cute little colorful band-aids. As you can see, they were discussing who was the bigger wuss and cried more after the shots. HA!

Eli says, "You cried more." Will says, "No, you cried more!"

Eli weighed in at 16 pounds 10 ounces. His length is now 27.5 inches and his head circumference is 17.25 in. That puts him in the 31 percentile for weight, 82 percentile for length, and 46 percentile for head size! He's tall and skinny!

Will weighed in at 16 pounds 15 ounces. His length is now 27 inches and his head circumference is 16.5 in. That puts him in the 36 percentile for weight, 65 percentile for length, and 7 percentile for head size. He's half an inch shorter than Eli, but weighs 5 ounces more! And he's got that tiny little head!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

HAPPY 6 MONTHS ELIJAH & WILL! and FIRST FOOD EXPERIENCE!

Today was a big day in the Vincelli house. Elijah and Will are 6 months old! Happy Half Birthday my little men!

We are also celebrating big time because this means that Nick and I have managed to keep two babies alive for six months. AMAZING! "Take that!" I say to those of you out there who doubted me. Oh wait, maybe it was only me doubting myself. Well, I guess this is proof enough that we're succeeding at this whole "parenthood thing." Here's to hoping we keep them alive another 6 months! :)

Here are the boys today after church...


Today was a great and special day for a big FIRST! We fed the twins their first food! They ate oatmeal cereal for the first time. They did awesome! I expected a big mess and total chaos, but it went so well. They took their first bites (Can you even call it a bite without teeth? I don't know because that cereal was so runny! It's more like a swallow.) with their engraved, initialed and dated silver spoons for their baptisms from Grandpa and Grandma Cox.

Will was leaning forward and grabbing at the spoon with his hands in his typical frantic Will fashion. And Eli just sort of went slow and took it all in holding his hands on the bumbo chair in his typical laid back Eli fashion. Overall, they seemed to catch on pretty fast. They are just like their mommy and daddy and love to eat!! :)

Getting ready for their first food!


Will is gobbling it down. "I like this mommy!"


Will says, "Yum...I could get used to this!"


Eli says, "I'm not so sure about this quite yet."


Eli is warming up to it. "This is good stuff daddy!"


Double Feedings!


Friday, March 11, 2011

BOPPY FUN

Here are the boys practicing sitting up in their Boppy's today. They just end up leaning forward. Eli slobbered alot all over Will's face. Sweet brotherly love...

Playing...


Talking...


Kisses...

Thursday, March 10, 2011

LOOK...THERE'S SOME HAIR!

Eli and Will's hair seemed to love California. Because right after we got back, both of their hair seemed to have a growth spurt and started spiking up. Must have been all that sun and fresh air. HA! Here are some close-up photos to prove it. Check out the fuzz!

Here's Eli...


Here's Will...

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

ASH WEDNESDAY

Eli and Will attended their first Lenten service tonight on Ash Wednesday.

Pastor Greg drew the sign of the cross on our foreheads. The babies received a lot of "oohs and awes" from the rest of the congregation with those ashes on their tiny foreheads. It reminds us that yes, even babies are sinful and need forgiveness.

"Remember, you are dust, and to dust you shall return."

This ancient act is a gesture of repentance and a powerful reminder about the meaning of the day. Ashes can symbolize dust-to-dust and remind worshipers of the need for cleansing, scrubbing and purifying. We were marked as ones redeemed by Christ the crucified! We then washed those dirty ashes off our faces. The water becomes a reminder of the water of our baptisms, where our sins were washed away forever. God's grace abounds!



Tuesday, March 8, 2011

BABY SHADES

Our family truly believes in sun protection. Not only sunscreen for your skin, but protection for our eyes from the sun. Okay, this is partly because Nick is an optometrist, but it's important nonetheless.

Protect your little one's precious eyes with infant sunglasses. These sunglasses by Baby Banz have 100% UV protective lenses and the sunhats are also UV protective. UV damage is cumulative and extended exposure can lead to cataracts and other eye conditions later in life. In fact, most of the sun's damage to your eyes occurs in the first 18 years of life. And this is usually the ages where sunglasses are not worn. Therefore, it is extremely important to have your babies and children wear sunglasses.

These shades are comfortable and have a wraparound band so they stay put easily. Not only do they protect your eyes from the sun's harmful UV rays, but are also comfortable, fun to wear and strong enough to last. They come is many different colors and patterns. They are very affordable and the best part of the hats are that they stay on easily and have an adjustable band that lets your baby use that same hat until 5 years of age! It's a great investment.

Here are a few photos of the twins sporting their sunglasses and hats by BabyBanz. They are affordable and fashionable. The boys loved wearing them on our vacation to California!

Thank you Dr. Beth, Dr. Vincelli (daddy!), and all the ladies at Horizon Eye Care for selling these awesome items!

Hanging out by the pool...
(Oh, and their swim shirts are 100% UV protective as well...bought at Target.)


Eli makes pacifiers look cool...


Ready to hike...

Monday, March 7, 2011

MORE CALIFORNIA POOL FUN









HIKING AT PALM CANYON IN PALM SPRING, CA

We went hiking at beautiful Palm Canyon on our vacation. We hiked for over 2 hours through the valley with the beautiful palm trees, across the rivers, and up to the top of the mountains looking down. Nick and I each carried a baby in a Baby Bjorn. They slept most of the time, which was wonderful. What a beautiful and peaceful journey through more of God's amazing nature. (Well, mostly peaceful, until Eli peed through this diaper and outfit onto Nick! HA!)






Sunday, March 6, 2011

FAMILY VACATION

We took our first big vacation as a family of 4 to Palm Springs, California! Nick and I have been there before and wanted to go back. It's a nice area that we know our way around and knew it'd be laid back, which is exactly how we wanted it to be with the babies. Some people thought we were crazy for even thinking of bringing two babies on an airplane. But we knew it was a good time frame, with them being 5 months old, to do this. And especially when they sit on our laps and fly for free. Can’t beat that! The babies did such an amazing job with the flights, time change, etc. Even better than we could have ever imagined. They were so flexible with their schedules, so we were very pleased. What awesome babies we have!

On February 26th, the day we left for vacation, it was exactly one year from when we found out we were having twins. WOW! Who would have thought that exactly one year later to the day we found out that we were having twins, that those twins would be taking their first airplane flight on vacation with us at five months of age!? (I also later realized that this wasn't actually the twins' first flight. They flew when I was just 2 months pregnant with them on Nick and my vacation to Tucson, Arizona in March of 2010! Does that count? HA!)

Papa and Grammy Vincelli came on the trip with us. And Nick's youngest brother, Marc, came along for the trip as well. It was so great to have extra hands to help out! We rented a condo in a beautiful, safe, gated, private area. We have stayed there before and knew it was a nice place to be. And it was definitely the way to go with having the babies there. A hotel just wouldn't have worked. It was nice to have separate rooms,bedrooms and especially a kitchen. We made most of the food there and only ate out a few times, which is a big money saver!

Many of the people there are retired and live there permanently or either are retired snowbirds there for the winter, so we were the youngest people there by many many years! This proved to be wonderful because it was quiet and laid back. Oftentimes, we had the pool all to ourselves. We made a lot of friends with the retired folk because of course the twins were the hit of the place. Eli and Will are so darn popular! When we said our goodbyes at the outdoor pool, a few people made comments hoping that we would return again next year. So sweet!

A lot of exciting firsts happened on the trip for the boys. Will rolled over from his back to his stomach for the first time the night before we left. (Of course when he was at Uncle Barry's and Auntie Jesse's, so we didn't see it in person, but they caught the second roll on video for us!) And he hasn’t stopped rolling since. Then Eli did 5 days later mid-trip. You barely see them on their backs anymore! They love tummy time. Also, Will found his feet and can’t stop grabbing at them to this day! They also had fun on their first airplane flights, their first time in a swimming pool, and their first time on a mountain!

The flights were great. We had layovers on both flights there and back, so we had two long travel days. But Eli and Will did wonderfully. We made sure to give them bottles on the take off and landings. They slept off and on and only had a tiny meltdown on the last flight back to Minneapolis. But turns out they both had small poopy diapers, so that was the culprit! Southwest Airlines gave us certificates with the babies names on them to recognize their first flights. It was so adorable!

Eli and Will were the absolute hits of the flights and airports. And it’s not just because they are twins, it’s because everyone is so shocked how mild mannered and well behaved they are. We received so many comments and smiles. In fact, one woman said, “I’ve been stalking you since the last flight and I have to stay your babies are so well behaved, absolute angels. I can’t even handle my one kid and look at you with two!” I didn’t quite know what to reply to that! Maybe I should have said, “Well thank you. But wait, are you a nice stalker or a creepy stalker?” HA!

I lost count of how many people stopped to talk to us. And how many people said they are a twin or have relatives who are twins. I told Nick that we know what celebrities feel like. We can’t go anywhere without getting stared at or without people stopping to talk to us. I’m still trying to get used to that. At times I just want to be left alone and not be stared at! I guess one good thing about that is that it makes you realize you need to be on your best behavior at all times, because you are being watched like a hawk!

One man chatted with us for awhile telling us about his 7 year old triplets: two boys and one girl. He said they’ve never taken the triplets on an airplane. His daughter has Downs Syndrome. That really hit me hard. Can you imagine how hard it would be to raise triplets and one with special needs on top of that? Those parents must be amazing. I am in awe and am so grateful at Eli and Will’s perfect health, even with being born 4 weeks early. Speaking with this father made me think more about how I know I often take that very fact for granted. It makes me realize the stuff I complain about is so insignificant. Thank you God for healthy, happy children! And please help me to give thanks every day!

The highlights of our trip were:
relaxing
going for walks
napping by the pool
window shopping downtown
VillageFest
swimming
hiking in Palm Canyon
taking the aerial tramway up to Mt. San Jacinto State Park
visiting my aunt and uncle

We are so thankful and blessed to be able to take these great memorable vacations.
Here are some of my favorite photos! Enjoy!


Ready to check in at the airport with Grammy & Papa


Waiting for our flight


Eli and Will's first flight!


We made it to California late at night!


Eli and Will's first time in a pool!








We took the aerial tramway up to Mt. San Jacinto State Park. Here's a view from the top!


Mt. San Jacinto State Park






Eli and Will's first time laying on the grass! (Well, sort of...)




Nick and Eli swimming


Cute Eli


Grammy Carolyn and Will swimming


Meeting up with my Uncle Jim and Aunt Patty who drove over from Yuma, Arizona!


Playing!


Lazy feedings out by the pool!




Lounging...


Nick feeding the boys...


Outside fun!




Hanging in the shade with Grammy by the pool!


Cuddles with Uncle Marc


My boys!


On a walk!


Story time...


The whole gang


The flight to home sweet home - Minnesota!