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!) on a VERY strict budget eating out in my closet and pantry
...saving pennies for over a year (and likely longer) to buy a DSLR 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
...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!!
...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!

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.

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.

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

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

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