This is going to be a very random post. Just all the odds and ends of things that don't really warrant a full post in and of themselves, so I'm collecting them here for one really disjointed post.
Ok, we really suck at this. Every day it's a question of what are we going to have for dinner and I don't think we ever resolve this to our satisfaction. So we're trying to do things to make it easier on ourselves.
Audit your fridge. Look at what's going to expire, then start with the proteins and plan out a few days of dinners in advance. Make a list of what you might need to complete the meal like if you're out of ketchup but need it to make meatloaf. We have a calendar white board that we're now using for this. Once you've got a few proteins figured out, figure out side dishes based on what produce is going to die the earliest.
Schedule in a few leftover meals so your leftovers don't grow their own city in the back of the fridge.
Package leftovers in single servings so you're more likely to grab them for lunches. Huge things like lasagna, freeze one or two portions because if you try to eat all of those leftovers this week, well you're probably not going to.
Keep a frozen cheese pizza as a staple or find a nearby Little Caesars that has a hot pizza ready for $5. A lot of leftovers work great as toppings on pizza like pulled pork, curried chicken, stir fry, etc.
We now keep a ceasar salad kit and precooked chicken pieces in the fridge as staples. A chicken caesar salad will work as a meal in a pinch and it takes only a minute to toss all the ingredients together.
I give up on whole produce. We're just not having time to cut and prep anything so it's dying in our fridge. We're now spending the extra money on pre-cut veggie bags. They now sell it in bags you can toss in the microwave and steam it right in the bag. So that gives us ready made steamed veggies as a side dish, use it in a stir fry, or just grab some ranch and go dipping.
Pre-prep a bunch of crock pot kits. Put all the non-perishable ingredients in a bag, write on the bag what else goes in it (pork roast, chicken breasts), and what time of day you would need to toss that in the crock pot for it to be ready for dinner.
Keeping Track of Things
Baby ESP. If you have twins, this app is a lifesaver. It's totally worth the $5 per device that it takes to have it on every phone within the household. When you've got fussy babies, and you've been trying to soothe them for who knows how long, time gets away from you. If you look on the app, you'll see that 3 hours have gone by since you last fed a baby even though your brain tells you the baby JUST ate. I use the stats and charts to keep track of how much I'm pumping so I can see for sure that going from 3 hours between pumps to 4 hours between pumps has not diminished my supply at all. I also set reminders so I don't have to think about when my next pump is, or if Tina is due for her reflux medication. I've even set up a profile for our pets because we keep forgetting to give the cat her insulin shot.
I'm a big fan of white boards. If things aren't in my face, it won't occur to me to go and look for the little reminder sticky notes I left somewhere. If it's on a whiteboard, I see the reminder constantly.
It's very important to me that bills get paid on time. When they arrive in the mail, I write the due date on the outside of the envelope and put them in a pocket on my wall in order of the due date. At a glance, I can see when the next bill is due so nothing gets forgotten.
Baby Pictures and Video
Keep cameras everywhere. Cell phones, old cell phones, regular cameras, whatever. A picture taken on a crappy camera that was within reach is better than the picture on a great camera you never took.
Set things up so that people have access to your pictures without shoving them in their faces. I have our phones set up to back up all pictures to my google+ account. Every few days, I toss those pictures from the instant upload folder into the current months folder/. At the beginning of the month, I'm sending the link to the new album to all the grandparents. They can look at every picture I take, download what they want, and I don't feel like I'm being that pushy mom who thinks everyone wants to see all of the pictures of the kids. I hate those moms. This has stopped the constant request for me to send new pictures. I also like that I have a back up of all of my shots and as the years go by and I've got millions of pictures, I'm keeping them somewhat sorted all along. And it's easy to upload pictures from other cameras to the same albums so everything is in one place.
I've downloaded an app called "media shortcut" to my phone. With this, I can toss a shortcut to individual pictures on the home screen of my cell phone. I keep a handful of my favorites shortcutted so that when I run into people and they want to see a picture of my kids, it's right there rather than having to dig through my gallery to find a good one.
I talked about this in a previous post, but especially for newborns, look at how to use the burst feature on your camera or download a fast burst app for your cell phone. Those smiles are fleeting and if you're taking a series of really fast snapped pictures, you'll catch it. If you use a regular camera that takes a moment to focus or flash, you're gonna miss it.
Take a million pictures. Eventually throw out 999,999 of them (or archive them out of sight). The great picture you take out of a million is better than the great picture you take out of 10.
Cell phone lights and flashes create horrible red eye. I haven't figured out quite what to do about that yet other than edit the picture later. But it's really horrible when you're doing video on your cell phone, you set the phone light to on so there's light on the babies face, and you end up with a video of demon baby. Better to turn on other lights in the room if you can.
When taking video, mute the TV. 20 years from now, do you really want to listen to a MASH rerun you were watching when your baby took their first steps? Sounds such as music or dialogue makes editing little moments together later a real pain in the ass. So mute. Let the baby noise be the soundtrack.
For a newborn, you really don't need to carry much. The first several times I went out with the babies, we didn't touch a thing in the bag because they just slept the whole time.
You need plastic bags such as those sold in pet stores for dog poo. At doctors offices, you aren't allowed to throw diapers away so you'll have to take your dirty diapers with you.
Keep an emergency diaper bag in every car. My husband took a baby to the doctor and texted me "I left the diaper bag on the counter!" It happens to the best of us. Just a diaper, washrag for wiping, a bottle, a bottle of water, some formula, and a spare outfit. My girls are on breastmilk, but I have formula in the diaper bags anyway because I'd rather feed them formula once than have them starve should my hubby get stranded with the girls somewhere. My car has the battery operated breast pump that I got as a hand-me-down (do I have an awesome family or what?).
Odds and Ends
Accept everything people offer you. I have the baby stuff of about 5 households. The benefit of being the youngest of my generation and having babies late in life, every brother, cousin, and friend of my parents has funneled all of their baby stuff into my house. Even if you think you'll never use it, take it anyway. Before the girls got here, I was certain I was going to be a moby person. I've only put it on a handful of times and Tina is currently sleeping on my chest in an Ergo. We also have 2 bjorns, a ring sling, and some other carrier I don't know the brand of. We ended up with 4 pack and plays, one of which will eventually move to my parents house for when they babysit when the girls are older. You never know what widget is going to work for your kid in the real world no matter how much research and trying things out you did before the baby got here. If time goes by and you truly don't have use for something, take it to a consignment shop and earn a few bucks towards stuff you do want.
Don't throw it out until your kid has completely outgrown it. We were using the regular Dr. Browns bottles for Tina at first but she leaks from the side of her mouth a lot. So we tried her on the wide neck Dr. Browns and for a while, those solved the problem. Then, for some unknown reason, she started having trouble latching onto those so we tried the old Dr. Browns again and she did better. I was just about to consign those out but I'm glad I still had them on hand.
Save your old clothing that you would otherwise throw out because it's basically free fabric for crafts. I have some stuff that I might use to extend baby clothes in the future. For right now, I'm practicing my sewing skills (I have none) on making extra burp clothes from old tshirts.
Make extra space by taping boxes to walls. I have a bunch of little boxes taped to the side of the fridge to hold bottles and it clears up some kitchen counter space.
Patting the tushy calms the baby. I don't know why but I saw someone else doing it and it seems to work.
Keep outdated electronics. K's cell phone developed black spots on the screen shortly after the warranty expired. While he's waiting for his upgrade discount in a couple of months, he's using my old phone. The black spot phone is being used as another device to update Baby ESP (I'm paranoid about the water from warming the bottles spilling on our current electronics and I don't care if this phone gets wet) and it's another camera around the house. I'm also assuming that in a couple of years, the girls will want to play with my phone and I'd much rather give them one from several years ago that they can play with and destroy if they are inclined to do so.
I never used to be obsessed with my phone but now it's permanently attached to me. Besides Baby ESP, I've also downloaded the Wonder Weeks app, use it for facebook, baby center forums, Audible (for listening to books during endless baby rocking sessions), pictures, email, google reader for blogs, it even allows me to access the files on my computer if my computer is turned on. I rarely have time to sit in front of my keyboard anymore so my phone is my lifeline.