Friday, December 23, 2011

Merry Christmas! ♥

It's been a busy end of the year!! Christmas is almost here, and I'm ready!! :) We did not travel this year, and it has been soooo nice to enjoy our home for a change.  While we will miss seeing our extended family, it's a load of fun to hang out just the five of us.  And I'm getting lots done with organizing and cleaning so we can have a fresh start to a new year - with more blog posts!! LOL! 
From our family to yours ~ MERRY CHRISTMAS AND HAPPY NEW YEAR!! ♥♥



Friday, October 28, 2011

My {FINISHED} Camera Strap Cover with a Tutorial Review ♥

 After much procrastination, I FINALLY FINISHED MY CAMERA STRAP COVER! Woo Hoo for me!! :) I am super excited! I pinned a bunch of tutorials to my Pinterest boards awhile back, but haven't had a chance to make one.  I ended up using two different tutorials: one from The Cottage Home and the other from Nursery Rhymes and Sweet Times.  
I got my basic measurements and assembly instructions from The Cottage Home's tutorial, and used the one from Nursery Rhymes to make the lens cover pocket.  I did vary a little from the tutorial at The Cottage Home, but only for a couple of things. 
I didn't have fusible fleece on hand, so I used some bamboo quilt batting to pad the back side of the strap and just quilted it down with a basic straight stitch.  I also LOVE the look of the ruched camera straps rather than gathered or ruffled, so I modified that part as well.
Rather than sewing a gathering stitch down the middle as called for in the tutorial, I sewed one down each side hoping it would give me the ruched look I so desperately HAD TO HAVE and IT WORKED!! ♥  I'm always surprised when it works for me!



I chose a black and white damask print for the front (though you can't really tell!) and a black and white diagonal print for the back.

LOVE THIS! Since my strap is neutral, I decided to make my accent rosettes interchangeable!! I'm seeing red, teal, yellow, and pink in the future!! The possibilities are endless!! 

I've seen many versions of the lens cap cover, but decided I wanted the elastic version, and the tutorial for this was super easy!! I like that it is roomy and that it will accommodate an extra SD card as well. ♥

Picture of the pocket without the cap in it... :)

I really do like the way the back of the strap turned out!! Even though I was just "making do," I think I'd probably do it like this in the future as well!! It's nice and comfy too!!


Just a closeup of the detail...

I was also really pleased with how the measurements came out.  Honestly, it was a BEAR to turn this thing right side out and then to slide shove it on my strap, but I prefer that it fits snugly and doesn't slide around as I've seen with a lot of other tutorials.

So, yup, definitely in love with my new camera strap, and I must confess I really am quite proud of myself!! Mostly for FINISHING this project!!

Oh, and lastly... a confession...I had to take these pictures with my point and shoot because I had already put the strap on my camera and was not about to undo ANYTHING!!! :) So, please, excuse the blur...


Linking up at:


Thursday, September 15, 2011

September Purge - 2011 - Gettin' It Done!!!

WOW - I can not believe it has been a month since my last blog post! And I had been doing so much better at keeping up this year! The summer was incredibly busy, but fun.  And honestly, this last month, I've really re-evaluated some priorities, and well, this blog is not high on the list!  The whole reason, though, that I started this blog was to chronicle the happenings of our little family, so I'm going to stick with it.  I do enjoy looking back at my old posts -especially the pictures of the kids- and realizing how truly blessed I am.

Probably the main reason for my online absence is that I've committed the month of September to completely purging every room, piece of storage furniture, and every nook and cranny of my house!!! I'm making great progress and it is soooo stress-relieving!  I made a list for every day of the month and have thrown away at least 10-12 bags of "stuff"!!  Definitely taking a minimalist approach to life these days!! I'm really thinking that once I complete my purge, I can maintain my daily cleaning SOOO much easier and faster! - At least until the next purge in spring...  My personality really doesn't allow me to focus on other things - mainly both of my Etsy shops (especially my DigiDesign shop) - unless my house is in order and everything is caught up.  Which, IMO, is how it should be, but I really need some more time to focus on making some extra income. :)  And even thus far, my less cluttered areas have allowed me more time in the mornings for going outside with the kiddos to blow bubbles, dig for worms, push them around in the dump truck, and take lots of pictures of them - which is VERY HIGH on my priority list! :0

One thing I have been doing A LOT of is making my SIL's recipe for cheese enchiladas!!! She made them on vacation for everyone, and they were THE BEST ever!! And they are so easy to make.  Hoping to get the recipe posted today or tomorrow for you all! YUM!!

And now my time limit is up...so on to the next thing on my list! :)

Titus: "Aww, he's so cute! He likes me!"

  

Monday, August 15, 2011

Tonight's Extreme Couponing Trip

Tonight I went to Wal-mart and Harris Teeter for Super Double coupons. Saved a ton of money and was able to get my new binder, dividers, and card sleeves for free with my overages! :) This is addicting!!
Walmart - Before coupons = $130.00 After Coupons = $6.00

Harris Teeter - Before Coupons = $69.00 After Coupons = $13.00


My Newest Hobby!!

About a month ago, a friend introduced me to the art of EXTREME couponing, and I'm hooked! I've always been frugal with our grocery spending, but this is sooo fun! I'm using the binder method to organize, and I get coupons from the newspaper, mailings, and online resources. I've posted below my most recent trip...but I'm going again tonight, so I'll be sure to update. :)

Total before coupons = $200! Total after coupons = $22!! Woo Hoo!!


I Need A Vacation!!

Yes, I just came back from vacation, and YES! I feel like I need a vacation!! I think that this stage of my life involves taking "trips" rather than vacations.  Vacation to me is a time to relax and do nothing - impossible to do with three kiddos! We were able to take two vacations this year - one with each side of the family! Both were loaded with TONS of fun and lots of memories. However, each vacation was on the tail end of a "trip" that required packing for two locations each time we traveled! Confused?? In June we spent a week in Oak Island with my family, but then traveled from there to Ohio for a 30th anniversary celebration at Tim's parents' church. Then the first of this month, we took a trip to the Majesty MusiCollege in Virginia for 3 days, and left straight from there to travel to Gatlinburg, TN for vacation with Tim's family. I have a TON of pictures to edit and post! :) And hopefully I can get that done sooner than later - still trying to get back into a routine.  Next week I officially start school with Titus.  I got the same curriculum our church's daycare uses so that when I finally send him off for K-5, he'll be prepared. EXCITING!! :) Now to tackle my To Do list...

Taken at the top of Clingman's Dome - that was a hike!!!!! ♥


Wednesday, July 27, 2011

SAHM - what it means to me... ♥

...cloth diapering when I run out of disposables (very dear to my heart today!lol!)
....making my own baby wipes, baby food, etc...
...PB&J everyday for lunch (well, we changed it up today with broccoli and carrots with cheese sauce and fruit cups)
...constantly picking up toys
...being with my kiddos 24/7 (yay for naptime!)
...living on a VERY strict budget
...no eating out
...shopping in my closet and pantry
...saving pennies for over a year (and likely longer) to buy a DSLR
...no cable TV
...owning more "play" clothes than "career" clothes
...feeling isolated at times because zero of my local friends are SAHMs
*****************************************
But really WHO CARES about that stuff - it's all about...
....watching my little girlies toddle around the house in their stubby littly ponytails
..."playing" school with my 3 year old, teaching him his colors, numbers and the alphabet
...storytime
...hearing my girlies giggling when they wake up from their nap
...being with my kiddos 24/7 (LOVE eating their necks, bellies, and toes!)
..."cleaning" house with my 3 year old
...being there to train my kiddos instead of having to discipline them when I get home
...playing outside whenever we want - especially in the kiddie pool or running through water from the hose
...reading my Bible in Titus's room while he plays and then having him ask if he can get his Bible to read
...using my teaching degree to teach the most important (& cutest!) kiddos in the world
...building train tracks that cover the family room floor - it's a science, ya know!!
...fingerpainting
...singing fun and silly songs
...tip-toeing through their bedrooms at nap time to put away their clothes
...slobbery kisses and sticky fingers
...a heart full of precious memories of seeing my babies milestones before anyone else
...checking the mail with Titus - it's a highlight of the day! :)
I could go ON and ON and ON with daily delights that warm my heart!!

I decided before I was married, that if the Lord ever blessed me with children, I would stay home and train them while they were little. I am SOOO thankful for a husband who agrees with that decision and has supported it every step of the way! Of course, it has not always been easy! (Said in response to the lady who told me that my husband must have gotten a huge raise at work if we could afford for me to stay home - Ummm.... no!) But we have chosen to make the necessary adjustments in our standard of living so that I can live with no regrets.  I was sooo made for this job - I'm the CEO you know! :) I wouldn't trade it for the millionaire's salary - some things just can't be bought!  Some have asked if I'll go back to teaching when my children are school age. It's definitely a thought, BUT then there's field trips, class parties, after school snacks to bake, away ball games, soooo who knows??

DISCLAIMER: This post is NOT a debate about the choice to stay home or not. It is simply the thoughts I'm having today as my heart is so full of thankfulness that the Lord has allowed me to live my dream. I have the highest respect for moms who choose not to stay at home for whatever reason they've decided.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Our Favorite Lasagna

Lasagna is my husband's FAVORITE dish in the whole world! Fortunate for me, since it is one of the easiest meals to make. I made a double batch yesterday to share with some friends who are going through a difficult time, and thought I'd add the "recipe" to my blog. But see here's the deal - I'm kind of a "throw in whatever and how much ever I want" kinda gal - usually depending on what I'm craving or what I have on hand. I've always been one to look to recipes for ideas, but I don't know that I've ever followed one exactly! :) Which, as a side note, is why I don't do much baking... well, and also because I don't keep fattening junk food in the house... But I do love to be creative in my cooking. All that to say, this is a VERY LOOSE recipe. I am by no means a chef!!!  My goal is to make scrumptious meals that do not require expensive ingredients or a lot of prep time. SO, please feel free, as will ALL my recipes, to deviate - I'm sure it'll turn out great!

LASAGNA 
Ingredients:
1- 16 oz carton of cottage cheese
1- 8 oz carton of ricotta cheese
1- 16 oz package of mozzarella cheese ,divided
1- 8 oz package of cheddar cheese
1 egg (beaten)
Italian Seasoning (to taste)
1/2 ts nutmeg
dash of salt and pepper
1- package of OVEN READY lasagna noodles
2 - large cans of spaghetti sauce (I DO NOT like Ragu, and usually use Hunt's or Del Monte because they're cheap!)
1 lb. Ground Italian sausage, cooked and drained
***If I have it on hand, I like to throw some Parmesan into the cheese mixture.

Directions:
1. Mix cottage cheese, ricotta cheese, 8 oz of mozzarella cheese, spices, and egg in a large bowl. Reserve enough mozzarella cheese to cover the top when you are finished assembling the layers.  The cheddar goes on top as well. Set aside.
2. Spread a little of the spaghetti sauce on the bottom of a deep dish lasagna pan. I always use my Pampered Chef rectangular baker stoneware.  Then combine the rest of the sauce with the cooked sausage.
3. Start layering in the following order: noodles, cheese mixture, meat sauce.  I usually end up doing three layers of this, so you can judge your amounts accordingly. And be sure to spread out the ingredients evenly. :)
I am pretty persnickety (SHOCK!) about the way I layer the noodles.  I have to break some of mine to fit so that each layer is completely covered with noodle. I also alternate the direction I lay the noodles as it seems to help my lasagna hold up better when serving it.  But that is just our preference.... :)
4. After the last layer of sauce, top with LOADS of mozzarella and cheddar cheese. YUMMO!
5. Bake at 350º for 45 minutes. Let it cool slightly before serving with garlic toast. :

Best part is that this dish tastes even better as leftovers!

Hmmm....guess I should have taken a picture to add here to get your taste buds salivating..... maybe eventually.  I'm doing good to post an update... lol! :)

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Homemade Baby Wipes - My Recipe ♥

In one of my many efforts to save a little extra money, I decided to try making my own baby wipes.  I remember my mom making them when I lived at home, so this is definitely not something I invented! :) I am now on my second batch, and I LOVE them!! The first time, I followed a recipe I found online, but I thought my wipes ended up too sudsy, so this past time I tweaked the recipe a little and think it works better for my tastes.

UPDATE:
I am loving these wipes and have been making them for over a year now.  I love the way they smell and feel that they clean and remove yucky smells so much better than store-bought wipes. (some brands smell horrible IMO!) And these make great gifts for other frugal mommies-to-be!! I include a pre-cut roll of paper towels in a decorated container, the ingredients for making, and a card with the recipe.



Ingredients & Supplies:
Airtight Container
2 1/4 cups water (This depends on the size paper towel roll you use - you may need slightly more or less.)
1.5 Tbs Baby Wash
1 Tbs Baby Oil
1 Roll Bounty Select-a-Size brand paper towels


Directions:
1. Bring water to a boil on stove top and allow to cool to room temperature.  This step is important as it removes the bacteria from the water thereby keeping your wipes from molding.

2. While the water is boiling, use a NON-serrated SHARP knife to cut the roll of paper towels in half.  Place one of the halved paper towel rolls cut side down in the container. You will use 1/2 of the roll for each batch of wipes.  The first time I made these, I took the inner cardboard out at this point - and it was a HUGE pain!! So, my second time around, I added a little extra water (hence the extra 1/4 cup) so the inner cardboard could soak up the water mixture. It was SOOO much easier to take out after it was soggy! :)
My knife is terrible, so my ends are pretty jagged.  But it doesn't seem to make a difference in the end product. Also, the roll shown is VIVA, but I now use Bounty Select-a-Size and like them MUCH better!
3.  Mix water, baby bath, and baby oil.  (As a side note, the original recipe I followed called for 2 Tbs. of wash, but I prefer the wipes not to be as soapy.) I love the smell of the bedtime bath wash, and the Equate brand smells just as good! :)

4.  Pour the liquid mixture over the paper towels and close with the airtight lid.

5. As soon as the liquid is cool enough, you can remove the inner cardboard.  I find it is unnecessary to turn the container upside down as other recipes suggest.



Easy Peasy!! And I now prefer these to store bought wipes.  I purchased all my ingredients at Wal-Mart and figured that these wipes will cost me about 1/4 the price of the Equate brand wipes (which I do NOT like!). I use my wipes for my twins and each roll lasts me almost exactly a week.  And that is considering that I use them for everything, not just diaper changes! They are great for lunch clean-up and wiping runny noses as well! :)

Originally, I wondered how to use these in my travel wipes container for the diaper bag, and found that I could tear of a long strip of wipes and just fold them accordion style inside my container. I did this once and it was no problem at all. However, I found a smaller container (Rubbermaid 6 cup container - not pictured) that holds the roll of wipes very snugly and fits with no problem into my small diaper bag.

Good luck making your wipes!! I'm sure you will want to tweak this recipe to your tastes, but that's half the fun - fully customized wipes!! :0


Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Mothering Twins - {Part 4} - Scheduling 6 to 12 Months

Ok, once again I am just pasting an email I sent to a friend requesting our schedule.  Hope it helps! :)

Here is my 6-12 month schedule. Of course, it is for managing twins and a toddler and even includes some of my daily "to do", but the core of it is basically the same. Basically at 6 months, a shift begins to start solids (though I started cereal at 4 months) and move into a 3 meal-a-day schedule with one additional night feeding before bedtime. At this age, I offer any formula or juice in a soft spout sippy cup. I like the NUK nipples. While I nursed Titus for a little over a year, I stopped nursing the girls at 6 months. That was goal and I accomplished it! 6 months x 2 = 1 year of nursing! :) So here it is - the copy and paste version!:

Daily Schedule
(Titus – 2 years; Kaelyn & Kourtney – 6-12 months)
6:30 – Wake/Devotions/Dressed for the day
7:30 – Kids Wake/Breakfast
• Girls - 6 oz. cup/fruit with cereal
8:00 – Kids Dressed for day
8:15 – Quiet play in crib or Pack n Play
• Morning Routine (Titus helps mommy)
8:45 – Group Play in family room
• Daily To Do List
9:15 – Story time/Song time/Interactive Play/Outside Play
10:00 – Girls’ Morning Nap
• Weekly Tasks
11:00 – School work with Titus
11:30 – Girls Wake and Lunch
• 6 oz. cup/veggies with cereal
12:00 – Titus and Mommy Lunch
12:30 – Titus Nap/Girls – playtime with mommy (15 min. each)
1:00 - Girls – separate play (playpen, floor, activity centers)
1:30 – Girls’ Afternoon Nap
3:30 – Wake/Snack
• Girls – finger food & 3-4 oz diluted juice (only as needed)
5:00 – Girls Dinner
• 6 oz. cup/veggies, fruit, cereal
5:30 – Family Dinner (girls in highchairs at table with optional finger foods)
7:30 – Bedtime Routine
8:30 – Titus to Bed
Girls – 6 oz cup then TO BED! :)

It took a little bit for them to go so long between naps, and they probably actually went down a little earlier and slept a little longer when they were only 6-7 months. My philosophy has always been "whatever works best for me and my family!" Anyhow, hope it helps. 



Pretty Girls!! 6 months


Mothering Twins - {Part 3} - Scheduling the First 6 Months


Well, I promised to post a schedule, and since I've really turned into a "do it the easiest way" kind of person since the twins were born {ok, well, not entirely, but I'm feeling it tonight!}, I've decided to just copy and paste a response I sent to a friend who was asking about how I scheduled my kiddos. Enjoy!


Hmmm...don't know that I'm one to be giving advice!! But I guess I can share what has worked for us. I love Babywise, but I've also implemented ideas from "My First 300 Babies." With my first born Titus, I followed the Babywise schedule pretty rigidly, and he still did not sleep through the night until about 5 months. He did however take great naps and the days were wonderful. 

His schedule looked something like this:
From 2 weeks - 6 months
6:00 - Nurse
*Back to bed
9:00 - Nurse
Waketime - Swing, bouncer, or play area
10:30 - Nap
12:00 - Nurse
Waketime - Sing, Read stories, Interactive Play
1:30 Nap
3:00 - Nurse
Waketime - Tummy Time in Play Pen (So I could fix supper!)
4:30 - Nap
6:00 - Nurse
Waketime- Bath, Time with Daddy, short nap if fussy
10:00 - Nurse
To BED!!! :)

I waited 4 hours before giving the last feeding to make sure he was good and hungry! He would still wake up usually around 2-3 am and I guess I always felt as if I should feed him because he was always on the lower end of the charts with his weight. HOWEVER, around 5 months, I'd had enough and decided to let him cry it out. He had pretty much just developed a habit of waking up. His weight was not effected by dropping the early morning feed. I think the girls slept through the night earlier for several reasons:
*I feed them breast milk in a bottle and they always get a full feeding - no snacking!!
*I put a small amount of powder fine cereal in the last bottle of the night starting when they were 2 months old.
*I moved them to their own room sooner, and I think some nights I just slept through their crying. Sleep deprivation will do that to ya!!
*I've also noticed they sleep better in sleepers with feet! I read somewhere that a common reason for babies waking in the night is that they get cold - especially their feet.

All my babies have slept swaddled TIGHTLY!! Titus slept swaddled until he was about 15 months old!
For naps during the day, he did go through a period when I just had to let him cry and a couple of times he cried until his next feeding. But that only happened a couple of times and he has been a SUPER napper ever since. At 2 1/2 he is still taking a 2-3 hour nap in the afternoon. Tim and I also decided early on that "all unnecessary crying takes place in the crib!" If there is no urgent need - food/diaper/discomfort - the crying baby is placed in his crib and the door is closed. Titus never had a "cry time", but I've noticed that Kourtney gets fussy in the evenings and just needs to expel some energy. That doesn't mean I have to listen though! :)
Mrs. Cowling's books are good too - great philosophies in there!
Also with Titus's nap training time, he would get pretty worked up as well and couldn't calm himself down. I would reswaddle (and check his diaper) and pat his tummy and "shush" him, but I tried not to pick him up. The goal is to never reward unnecessary crying.

 Well, I'm sure you've heard or read all that before because it's not original with me, but maybe you can at least know you are not alone in your journey for sleep!!! Hey, with the twins, Tim and I had to get pretty creative. Their few weeks of eating every 3 hours at night was INSANE!!! I had to nurse them each one at a time, then pass them off to Tim for a bottle because they were weak suckers and couldn't always get enough. Then I had to pump to make sure I maintained my milk supply. The whole process took 1.5 - 2 hours. Then we got an hour or so break/sleep before starting all over again. We got caught up on all our favorite shows though! :) Now they are sleeping 10 -12 hours a night....kinda scared to mention that for fear they'll wake up at 2:00 tomorrow morning!! :) Good Luck! Feel feel to ask any other questions or even just vent! I definitely understand! :)


Soooo little! :) 3 weeks


Thursday, June 30, 2011

Mothering Twins - {Part 2} - Nursing

As promised, I am posting about my experience with nursing twins. :)  I am 100% for nursing when it is at all possible and nursed my first born for a full year. But this post is not about the benefits of nursing - and there are MANY!! We felt that my nursing our children would be the best thing for them, and so I committed myself to doing it.  I must confess that while I am very glad and thankful I did, it was not easy or convenient!!  I do believe it is one of the most unselfish things a mother can do for her child. ♥

My experience with nursing my twins girlies was FAR from glamorous or exciting!! They were both healthy at birth, but both had an extremely weak suck.  And even though I managed fine with my son without the help of a lactation consultant, I did feel it was probably best to have a consult in the hospital after the girls were born. She convinced me that I needed to supplement with a nurser bottle of either formula or expressed milk because the girls were small and needed nourishment right away.  I followed her advice because I felt that was best for my babies, but it did not help my efforts in trying to nurse exclusively!! 

So to make a long story short, I ended up investing in a hands free pump to aid in my efforts.  It was almost impossible to nurse them both and manage to keep my 2 year old out of trouble.  I tried nursing them both at the same time to cut down on the total time involved, but was only successful a few times and mostly just found it to be frustrating! 

During the first few weeks, my routine was to feed them every three hours so.... I had to try to nurse one, then pass her off to finish with a bottle while I tried to nurse the other one and then pass her off for a bottle while I finished by pumping to make sure I could keep up my supply. URGH! :) Since I was feeding them every three hours and it took 1 1/2 hours to complete the feeding cycle, that didn't leave me much time for anything else!! And it was worse when I was by myself during the day with no one to help with the bottles. At this point, I was extremely discouraged with my efforts, but fortunately I've always been too stubborn to let myself quit anything. 

 So after much prayer and talking with my husband, we decided it would be best if I just pumped exclusively and fed the girls the expressed milk in bottles.  Yes, I did miss the bonding time that nursing allows, but, honestly, there wasn't much bonding going on in my previously frustrated state.  And with the arrangement, I could at least insure that the girlies got the best nutrition possible.  The Medela Freestyle pump was AWESOME and let me pump while I did other things - including keeping up with Titus!! It also has a rechargeable battery option that allowed me to pump on-the-go.  

My goal was to nurse (or pump rather) for 6 months and I DID IT!! :)  At the 6 month mark (which is really a year since we're talking double time here!), I decided it was best to begin formula in order to allow me to attend more church services and start back up with all my ministry responsibilities.

So that's my story! I know of others who have successfully nursed twins, but various circumstances in my situation made that almost impossible. Fortunately, pumping worked out and they still got all the benefits of having mommy's milk. :)   

Titus helping Mommy! :) {BTW, ♥ Snappies!!)

I got smart and let him feed one the bottle while I tried to nurse the other one! :)


Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Mothering Twins - {Part 1}

I LOVE having twins!!! And with that being said, I must confess that it keeps me crazy busy and addicted to coffee! :) It has been about a year and half since my husband and I found out we were expecting twin girls, and my life has never been the same. Throw a toddler into the mix (because my son was only 21 months old when the news came), and you've got the potential for major chaos!! I was about 5 months pregnant at the time and immediately began my never ending Google search for "managing twins, twin pregnancies, etc..." I have learned a lot from other mothers of multiples  - both those whom I call friends and those I've never met!  And well, now that my twin girlies are toddlers, I finally feel like I can post about about our lessons learned from their infant days.

I initially titled this series "Managing Twins", but almost immediately thought otherwise. Our journey has not been about "managing" and getting by, but rather embracing this as a wonderful opportunity that is not entrusted to just anyone! HOWEVER, the first 6 - 8 weeks were basically a nightmare - not to scare anyone who might be expecting twins because I survived, but it was definitely SURVIVAL MODE.

 Our family all lives at least 6 hours away, so they were only able to help as their travel schedules and other responsibilities allowed. And since I was put on bed rest at 36 weeks, I had to learn a LOT about letting some things go - you know, the stuff that doesn't really matter to anyone but you. And honestly, I really am mostly just thankful that I had a healthy pregnancy and my girls were born healthy at 38 weeks. Kourtney was 5 lbs. 13 oz. and Kaelyn was 5 lbs. 9 oz. - and YES, that's a lot of baby! So, now for some practical ideas and tips! And these are in no particular order and may actually appear random as I just write what comes to me next - don't have time to make this a big production!! lol!

#1 - DON'T STRESS and let others help!!
Now, some may not have issues in this area like I do, but I am the type who would clean my house spotless before the cleaning lady came.  I had to learn to let others help, even if my house wasn't what I considered "company ready".  And also, I should point out that I learned a LOT about how to help other people through all of this! If someone says to me (as well-meaning folks are so often apt to say), "Let me know if there is anything I can do" - Ummmm, yeah right! Like I'm really just gonna walk right back up to ya when I feel like I need something!! :)  There were a few precious people in our church who made it a point to say, "I want to help you! Tell me what I can do!" and then they waited for me to think of some area in which they could be a blessing. And another would frequently call and say, "I'm going to be out running errands today. Can I stop by your house and watch the kids so you can take a nap?" Umm, YES!!! Another lady asked for a list of things she could pick up for me while she did her own grocery shopping.

#2 - We implemented a very strict schedule.
  I followed advice found in the Babywise books and also in the book My First 300 Babies.  We kept the girls on the same schedule as each other. If one woke up to eat or be changed, we woke the other up as well.  Some may (and have) argued that it is best to listen for baby's cues for when to be fed, changed, etc... And while I agree somewhat, I more strongly believe that it is also important to make sure I am well taken care of, and keeping the girls on a strict schedule took away some of the craziness. Of course, we never let them go hungry and did demand feed for the first week, but we really tried to anticipate their next need rather than always feel like we were one step behind because they were crying for something. I won't delve into scheduling here, but I do plan to post our schedule soon as many of my friends (even those with singletons) have tried it and liked the results.

#3 - LESS is MORE!!
We decided ahead of time to buy double of only a few necessary things.  Because this was not my first pregnancy, I already had one of most things. And fortunately, I did have some experience with babies and knew what I really needed and what I didn't.  Here are the items we felt we needed two of:

• Carseat - obviously! I actually got a complete new travel system with a double stroller. I researched and found the Baby Trend Double Sit N Stand travel system would best meet our needs since we had a toddler (and a budget!) as well.

• Bassinets and Cribs - We wanted them to sleep separately from day one. And, by the way, have not regretted it! They are awesome sleepers! I borrowed the bassinets and found very similar cribs on Craigslist. As a side note here, I also got a changing table even though I did not need one for my first baby. I just felt it would help me stay more organized.

Bumbos - LOVE these!! I got the second one in EUC for less than $10! They take up so little space and are great even for feeding when solid foods are started.  I must say that I probably could have gotten by with one, but I was really glad that I had two!!

• Boppy Pillows - A MUST!!! I used these multiple times every day!!! Feeding, nursing, tummy time... you name it and the Boppy can help!! :) Again, I bought the second one used for less than $10 and just got a new cover for it (on clearance for $3!).

• Pack n Play - Well, I do NOT have two of these because we don't have room in our house and it is a rather pricey item. But for traveling purposes, it is almost a necessity. I am fortunate that my mother and MIL both have one that I can borrow when we are visiting them. If you stay in hotels, most of them have portable cribs available, but you will need to reserve TWO ahead of time! I have never let my girls sleep in the same bed just for safety reasons - especially when they were younger and the risk of suffocation is greater. But even now, they are both very active in their sleep, and I'm sure they would wake each other up if they had to share.

For everything else, we just used a rotation system.  When one was in the bouncer, the other was in the swing. And then we'd move on to the playpen or Around-We-Go, etc...  And since you can only bathe one infant at a time, we only had one infant tub.  However, as with many other things, we quickly ditched the infant tub (after about 8 weeks) so we COULD bathe them both at one time!! lol! I used hand towels on the bottom of the tub so they wouldn't slip and just laid them side by side. Of course, you will need to master picking them both up at the same time first! :0

Well, this is defnitely going to need to be a series as there is SOOO much to know and learn about having twins! :) Next post, I will discuss feeding - bottle vs. nursing.

My girlies at 6 weeks!

Friday, June 17, 2011

30 is the new 20!!

Yesterday was my 30th birthday, and my husband made sure it was a special one!! He proved that one doesn't have to spend a lot of money to make a person feel loved and appreciated! We are on a STRICT budget {even stricter than usual - HA!} in order to save and pay for some things, so neither of us has been spending any money lately.
But anyway, I had a wonderful birthday starting with.....BREAKFAST IN BED! Oh yeah! And he did it up right too - especially with the huge helping of tater tots and ketchup - my FAVORITE! :)


Tim helped Titus make me a card...♥

He then got the kiddos ready {while I took my leisurely time} so that we could do some shopping - with gift cards, of course!! :) I had been saving some gift cards that were given to me at various times for a fun occasion to go shopping on someone else's dime - the best kind of shopping!  When I got in the car {after he had already loaded everyone up}, he had picked some of our newly bloomed hydrangeas - GORGEOUS.  And I love that our bush has TWO different colors in the blooms!


We did our shopping in record time and got home in time to let the kids take a nap while we relaxed and did some catching up on one of our favorite tv shows.  Then we dropped the kiddos off at the sitter's house and went to Chili's for supper - with a giftcard! :)  Our pastor and his wife and one of my dear friends were waiting there as a surprise to me - FUN!  After, we went to the mall and walked around like two lovebirds without a care in the world {and splurged on a small, unneeded but fun gift for me!}.  Of course, the night would not have been complete without a stop at Starbucks!! {to use my giftcard!} YUM!!

Forgive me for not rotating this, but I'm feeling extremely lazy! :)
So, I'm officially another decade older and feeling great!! Life is good... I know who I am and what {and more importantly WHO} makes me happy! My health is great, I have the best husband in the universe, and my kiddos are the cutest and most adorable little stinkers you'll ever meet - God has been SO GOOD to me!!


Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Inspirational Printable - Free Download ♥

I saw this quote on the internet the other day, and LOVED it!! I have to remind myself of this EVERYDAY!! So, to help me remember that I'm really not Super Woman, I designed this cute little printable to frame.  Feel free to download one for yourself - just click the picture. :) It's designed to be printed as a 5x7, so I'm not sure what kind of quality you'll get if you try to go larger.



New Invitation Design

I designed this invitation and cupcake toppers for a friend and thought I'd share them here.  I'm adding a link to my PSE page, but first I have to blog it! :0



Thursday, June 2, 2011

Water Babies ♥

Wow! We had sooo much fun with the girls in the pool! Kaelyn especially LOVED the water and was absolutely fearless! Kourtney was fine until Titus and Kaelyn starting splashing her! :) And I think she was a little tired from not sleeping her whole nap time, so she went inside early.  But I really could not believe how well Kaelyn took to the water - she was crawling around and even standing up in the pool.  Oh, and the baby pool wasn't big enough for two! Though, I may need to let Kourtney have her own space tomorrow.  Anyhow, here are a few fun pictures and a video. :)




Fearless!!

Kourtney did NOT like to be splashed!

Yup, she went under - once! She learned that lesson the hard way! 
video

Yay for Summer! ♥

I have always said that fall is my favorite season with spring being a close second. But now that I have children - especially a 3 yr old - I have fallen in love with summer! I love the more relaxed work schedule my husband has - he even has a day off every week! Which is huge since he gives his weekends to the ministries at our church year round.
Well, this week has been super HOT, so we cleaned up the kiddie pool and filled 'er up. Titus has gone swimming the past three days - he LOVES it! Now I just need to get out the smaller baby pool for the girls - can't wait to let them wear their adorable little swimsuits. I'm curious to see how they take to the water since Titus hated it his first two summers. So pics of them will follow, but for now I've got some super fun pics of Titus for you! :) Enjoy!








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