Monday, December 28, 2015

Bizarre Happenings (5 yrs 3 mo!)

CET are 63 months old!
Another cute one 
You may have to click on this pic to see it better but don't you just love the psycho kitty Thomas drew for me, haha!
We were at Costco today and we came upon a digital scale in one of the aisles and I was curious to see what the boys weigh because the last couple of months I can't seem to fill those little bellies. If you remember just three months ago at their 5 year check up all three boys weighed exactly the same 33.1 lbs. Assuming the display scale was accurate, Caleb weighs a whopping 37.1 lbs (can you believe he gained 4 lbs in three months!), Thomas is 36.5 lbs (so he gained a lot too, almost 3.5 lbs), and Eli is 34.9 lbs (he gained of almost 2 lbs). This is pretty impressive considering the boys only gained about 2-4 lbs from age 4 to 5 (C&T 2 lbs and E 4 lbs), oh what 3 months can do!

As I mentioned before the boys have been bottomless pits lately (not something I'm used to at all!). So in an effort to curb their hunger I stocked up on yogurt and string cheese. I figured the protein would help keep them full for longer. Well something bizarre happened that has made me change my game plan when it comes to satisfying their hunger. At one point I noticed that Eli's arm pits smelled really bad. It was just as bad as any man's arm pits if he doesn't wear deodorant! It freaked me out a bit as you can imagine so I "googled" it and come to find out this happens a lot to children that consume a lot of dairy! It's because of all the growth hormones that are given to cows to produce more milk than what's normal. These hormones apparently are similar enough to the hormones we produce naturally when we go into puberty, scary right! And in all the cases I read about, the solution was simply switching to organic dairy products. 

I immediately made the boys avoid any dairy for a couple of days and sure enough the smell went right away! The next time I went grocery shopping I did a price check on organic cheese, milk and yogurt. It is quite a bit more expensive and I'm not sure we can switch over to organic dairy completely. I'm not one to believe that children or adults for that matter, "need" to consume dairy. There are many other things that are just as nutritious that we can consume. Dairy is just so convenient because it seems to satisfy their hunger for much longer (not to mention it's delicious, sigh!). So with that in mind I've switched to boys over to organic rice milk which is what I've been drinking for years (organic milk is about $6/gal vs organic rice milk is about $3.67/gal so a big savings, yay!). I will buy them organic yogurt to have a couple times a week and not everyday like they have been eating. As for cheese I think we'll just eat it in moderation like in sandwiches, pizza or an occasional snack. Although I did see some organic cheese at Costco that wasn't terribly expensive so I may switch as soon as our current cheese stock runs out. 

My last few times at the grocery store I've bought nuts, dried fruit, and more than the usual amount of fruits and veggies to help keep these guys full. They have gone over well and it's relieving to know that we don't have to rely so much on dairy. It's crazy to think something like this can happen. You really do have to be careful what you eat these days! It's just too bad going 100% organic isn't a choice everybody can have. If we had unlimited resources we certainly would!

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Shopping Strategy

As you can imagine buying clothes for three boys can get pretty expensive especially when they wear the same size and they can't pass down clothes to each other. Through the years I've developed a shopping strategy that gets us all that we need in the most economical way. The first couple years were rough because I had to quit my job to care for the boys. It was also the height of the recession and we were lucky Phil even had a job at this point. His company down sized by over 70% and gave him two pay cuts! So those years we relied heavily on hand me down's and I don't think I bought much of anything other than a handful of outfits. Even if we had had the money we certainly didn't have the time to be shopping, it was feed, change diapers, hold babies and repeat all day long! And the hand me down's came from every where, we are SO grateful to everyone who gave us clothes and diaper service. God certainly provides when you need it!

When things stabilized for us later on I started having to buy more and more clothes. Thankfully my boys growth is very predictable and I pretty much know what size they'll be in at each season (so far they pretty much wear one size for a full year before we need to go up a size). This means I can buy ahead when there are good sales or better yet CLEARANCE! I buy a good 80% of their wardrobe a full year ahead so right now during all the holiday sales I've been buying up fall and winter clothes in size 5T (they wear size 4 now) for next year.

I almost always buy online because if you've ever had to shop for triplets you know stores rarely have three of the same thing in the same size. Seriously I can almost always find two but never three, it's so frustrating that I pretty much never shop at the actual store unless I somehow know for sure they'll have what I want.

Through experience I've come to value quality over quantity. My personal goal is to buy less but better quality. Good quality clothing doesn't stain, tear or get wash wear as easily and a lot of times will have cuter styles. It's so worth it in my opinion especially now that my kids wear things for much longer. Sometimes my kids get some nasty stuff on their clothes and I think "that might not wash out" but if its a good quality item and I spray a little stain remover on it it'll almost always come out. With cheaper stuff it's hit or miss, you just never know if it'll come out.


The Children's Place is great for specialty items like ties, hats, sandals, sunglasses. I find their boys clothes to be decent quality but their styles are not as cute as other places so I only buy a few things from them every year. However they have cutthroat prices and I can see why so many people like them. Same thing goes for Carters, Gymboree, Crazy 8, and Oshkosh, their clothes are decent to good quality but I'm not crazy about the styles they offer so I buy from them here and there. Only if there is something particularly cute or if it's something they happen to have that we need.

Kohls has some really cute things but they are hard to shop at since you have to spend $75 to get free shipping and I usually can't find that much stuff I want from them at a given time. Also their prices are a little higher than what I'd want to spend for most things. I think if you have a Kohl's card you might be able to get better deals there but I just don't love them enough to get a card.

I used to shop at Old Navy more but I've learned that their clothes just aren't that great of quality even though their styles are super cute. I find their pants are always way thinner than other brands (although their jeans are pretty good). Also their cheaper priced t-shirts are very susceptible to stains. So I'm pickier about what I buy there. I get pj's, hats, button up shirts, vests, jackets, and their higher priced t-shirts (like their "collectibles" series). My biggest gripe with them is that their non-adjustable pants/sweatpants, shorts and underwear are waaaay too wide for slimmer boys (by like two or more inches, seriously what kids fit into those!?).

I love love Gap! Their clothes are generally very good quality and super stylish. I get the "bread and butter" of my boys clothes there. So a good 70% of their clothes are Gap. I have a Gap Visa and it has a great rewards program. I get rewards cash when I use their visa that I can use at Old Navy, Gap, Banana Republic and Athleta. And of course I don't believe in paying credit card interest so we pay our bill in full each month so we are truly getting free cash just for shopping with them. I also get free shipping on any amount since we are Silver status members (which you earn after spending a certain amount within one year). Their retail prices are outrageous but if you are even a little bit familiar with their sales you'll never pay more than 50% off their original prices. My price range for Gap toddler clothes is pants and jeans $8-12/pair, tees $4-8, and sweaters $8-12 (and this is before any rewards cash is used, so they end up being even cheaper). Those are Target prices for Gap clothes! The only con is they have the same over sized waist issues as Old Navy. So we buy our sweatpants and underwear elsewhere : (

Another brand I can't say enough good things about is Hanna Andersson. Their clothes are BOMB proof I tell you! Not to mention all organic. You could dip a piece of their clothing in spaghetti sauce and they'd probably wash perfectly clean! The only bad thing is that their clothes are insanely expensive even with a great sale (retail prices range about $30 for tops, $45 for pants, $50+ for sweaters). Thankfully I live within 15 minutes of an Outlet (there are only a handful of outlets on the west coast, and another handful on the East coast and elsewhere). I visit the outlet frequently and buy whatever is a good price (you can find pieces for $10-20 each), I do pay a little more than I would at Gap or elsewhere but the quality is so worth it and they have unique stuff which is always nice. They also hit the nail on the head with waists for slimmer boys (for example a year ago I bought the boys swim trunks there and the size 3T fit them perfectly, where as I had just gone to Old Navy and the only size that fit their waist was a 12mo pair of swim trunks, crazy right?!).

The last brand I'll mention is Boden, their clothing is not as bomb proof as Hanna Andersson but their styles are so dang cute! They use a lot of colors which I love and have very unique styles. Their sizes are spot on when it comes to slimmer waists (yes!). But they are just as expensive as Hanna so I pretty much only shop their Clearance and every now and then they'll email me $10-20 gift card that allows me to get stuff that's not on clearance.

This was from last winter, the boys tees are Hanna Andersson and these will most likely be remembered as my most favorite EVER! I splurged on these because they were so cute, I think I paid $17 each. They wore them a ton and after we were done with them they looked hardly worn! I believe I sold these for $10 each. 
From last summer, the tops are Boden and are applique tees (patches) another splurge I think I paid $17 each but we'll get two years out of these! Old Navy patchwork shorts paid $8 each. 
Gap thick corduroy shirts paid $10 each, Gap striped v-neck tees paid $7 each, and Gap roll up jeans paid $8 each
Old Navy striped henley tees paid $4 each, Gap puffer vests paid $17 each which we'll get two years out of, Old Navy jeans paid $8 each
Hanna Andersson fleece jackets paid $27 each which we'll get two years out of, Gap wolf tees paid $4 each, Boden corduroy camo pants paid $13 each

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Parenting Video

The parenting video that the boys were in came out a month ago but of course I'm just now getting it on the blog. The boys part makes up one chapter of about a dozen or so chapters (I can't figure out what else to call them). Their chapter is about 5 minutes long but I edited it down to just the scenes that the boys are in (what I call the "good parts," ha!). This video is being shown to parents who have children in Head Start preschools who are Spanish speaking. The producers of the video really loved working with the boys. They said they were so easy to work with considering their age and they followed direction really well! My favorite scene is where "Esteban" is being yelled at and Eli does the best sad face ever. Seriously it's an Oscar worthy performance!

Some pics from filming
It's hard to believe that we were there for a day and a half to film (mostly on standby while they set up the scenes) and it only added up to 2.5 minutes of footage that was used. 

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Bike Tees

I found these really neat bike patches at Portland's Saturday Market last summer. I put them on t-shirts for the boys and they came out pretty cute! The boys were in a pretty silly mood the first time they wore these as you can see...
I just hand stitched them on and it took me a long time but it was a fun project!

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Arboretum (D Town P2)

While in Davis we went to the arboretum (which is on the UCD campus) on two separate occasions. Once to do a little photo shoot but we got there kind of late so the pictures came out a little dark. Then a second time to meet the boys Tia Janet for a bike ride. It's such a pretty place and it was one of the things that hooked me and made me want to go to school there.
I've never cared for the eggheads but I must say,
after all these years they are starting to grow on me, ha!
They've finally discovered rolling down hills!
I tried getting them to do it many times before but they never wanted to, silly boys!
Feeding the egg head
Cousin Karina took this one
Eli (blue) looks so cute in this one : )
silly guys
Riding down hill
I love that Caleb decided to pinch Thomas' cheek : )
The crew minus myself

Friday, December 4, 2015

D Town P1

Last week we drove down to Davis to visit the family. We didn't do anything too exciting which was really nice! We mostly hung out and ate, it was a very relaxing time. Here are some pics of our first few days : )
The view every parent loves to see when on a 9 hr road trip : )
It was still summer in California!
Dinner with the family : )
We toured the Jelly Belly factory in Fairfield.
I was very impressed with how generous they were with the jelly bean samples.
Papi and Caleb
Couldn't leave without a bag full of beans!