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Fuss free bedtime: twin edition

I was scrolling through Instagram and came across a profile that I follow: Twinsandmoretwins. This user has two sets of twins about a year apart and she compares sleep patterns for her older set vs her younger set of twins. I totally relate to her methods with her youngest set of twins who learned to self soothe at an early age without cry-it-out methods.

1. Maintain a solid bedtime and nap time routine

We are blessed with mild tempered twins who are pretty easy sleepers. They are currently 17 months old and we’ve had a pretty solid bedtime routine for the last 6-7 months. We have dinner at 6:00pm, bath immediately after dinner every other night, sippy cup of milk at 7:00pm, jammies at 7:30pm, teeth brushed and in their cribs by 8:00pm. They are typically asleep within 5 minutes and generally sleep until 7:30-8:00am.

2. Allow them to fall asleep without needing snuggles

I think what really helped us was leaving them to fall asleep on their own as newborns. Before our twins were born my husband and I decided that we needed to be strategic with our snuggles. The idea of either one of us being alone with them and not being able to get them to sleep was stressful. If we used snuggles to get the babies to sleep they would be reliant on being held in order to fall asleep. This was our strategy as newborns: We’d feed then diaper and while they were still milk drowsy we’d lay them down in their bassinet or pack n play.

We still snuggled our babies… the good Lord knows I love my baby snuggles (and daddy is just as guilty of loving his snuggles). We just didn’t snuggle them to sleep. When they looked like they might be getting close to falling asleep we’d lay them down. They started sleeping 6-7 hour stretches around 10 weeks but the 4 month sleep regression ended that. They were 10 months old before they were consistently sleeping through the night again. But when they were getting up in the night, they got what they needed (binky, gas drops, water, Tylenol) and laid back down.

3. Avoid getting to the overtired stage by watching for signs of tiredness

I think since they’ve put themselves to sleep for such a long time it has helped them to recognize when they are tired and ready to rest. I will ask if they are ready to lay down, take a nap, or go to bed and they run towards their bedroom. I try to avoid getting to the point where they are overtired so I check in with them and ask if they want to lay down when they start showing signs of tiredness.

These are the signs I watch for in our toddlers:

  • Yawns
  • Eye rubbing
  • Irritability towards each other
  • Desire for snuggles
  • Climbing up on the couch just to sit
  • Laying on the floor
  • Standing at the baby gate closest to their room
  • Getting slap happy and giggly
  • Asking for binkies (because they only have them in bed – until I ditch my fear of bedtime without binkies)
  • Finding a quiet spot to read books

4. Learn the cues of your children and follow their lead

I keep thinking they will eventually stop wanting to take two naps a day, but for now they still very much ask for two naps. They have one at 11am and one at 3:30pm and sleep about 1-1.5 each nap.

Every child is different… their personalities, their communication. The twins are drastically different and they’ve never been away from each other. Just because these methods have worked for our family, doesn’t mean they’ll work for everyone. I think the biggest advice I could give is to listen to your child. Use their body language or changes in behavior as a form of communication. If you can recognize these changes it is so much easier to anticipate their needs before things escalate to utter frustration on behalf of your child who doesn’t know how to express their needs and frustration on behalf of parents who don’t know what the child needs.

What methods and bedtime routines have worked for you? What signs and signals do you watch for?

Happy Homesteading

Easter Brunch: Sweet Blueberry Cream Cheese Biscuits

This year we are celebrating Easter with my family by getting together for brunch.  And we’re spending Easter dinner with my husbands family.  I’m tasked with making a couple items for each meal so I’ve come up with my very own recipe for our first Easter Brunch.

Who doesn’t LOVE brunch? Breakfast food is my favorite.  I literally have a Pinterest Board called – “Breakfast is my favorite“.  I had some frozen blueberries in my freezer that I wanted to do something with so I was exploring some ideas on Pinterest.  Yum… I had never considered making sweet biscuits… so I decided to give it a try.  This recipe was my inspiration: Quick Blueberry Biscuits.  I always have Bisquick on hand and I’ve made a dozen batches or more of cream cheese biscuits.  Cream cheese biscuits essentially use Bisquick and cut about 4 oz of cream cheese into 2 cups of Bisquick. You add just enough milk to stick the dough together. They are super moist and savory. I decided to merge the two recipes and this is the final result:

Sweet Blueberry Cream Cheese Biscuits

Biscuits

  • 2 1/4 cup Bisquick
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 4 oz cream cheese (softened)
  • 1 cup frozen blueberries
  • 1/3 cup milk

Glaze

  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tbsp milk

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F
  2. Stir together Bisquick and sugar
  3. Cut in cream cheese using fork or pastry blender
  4. Mix in milk. A soft sticky dough will form.
  5. Gently fold in berries.
  6. Use large cookie scoop to drop dough onto ungreased cookie sheet.
  7. Bake for 10-13 min (or until slightly golden).
  8. Mix glaze and pour glaze over warm biscuits.

*makes about 12 biscuits

Fearless Faith

And through the brokenness, God had a plan for us…

Today is a day of emotion and heartache. I hate that it’s been a month since I last posted… but today I am desperate for the writing therapy and I’m jumping right in.

Two years ago today I lost my dad in a car accident. He was 57 years old. He was leaving our house and headed home after a Friday evening spent with family.  I will forever remember him leaving our house that night. “Remind me tomorrow when you’re out to get the Kreg Jig out for you. Love you. See you tomorrow.”

For months I cried myself to sleep…. cried out to Jesus… buried myself in my bible. I cried in the shower when I felt guilty about making my husband pick up my broken pieces. I cried in the bathroom stall at work as silently as I could.  I cried every time I was in the car driving by myself.  I even remember crying while walking out of a grocery store because the clerk asked me “how are you today?” and it took everything I had in me to put a grin on my face and say “fine”.  It’s a crazy limbo of wanting everyone to know that you are absent because you’ve lost a piece of you and not wanting to talk to anyone because it hurts to talk about it.  I have never been so broken.  I prayed daily… throughout the day… in meetings… while driving… while laying in bed awake all night. I have never been so reliant on God to heal me… to take away the pain… to make me whole again.  Could that ever happen? Would I ever feel normal?

And through the brokenness God had a plan for us…

After the loss of my dad we truly recognized how little time we have on Earth and we were committed to making the best of all the time we had left.  We stopped pushing off goals and decided to make them happen.  We decided there was no reason to wait to have a baby… our lives are too short… let’s just do this.

I was pregnant 3 weeks after our decision to try for a baby.  Wow! Not what we expected.  My doctor said to expect at least 6 months.  Then 8 weeks later I went to my first doctor’s appointment.  My doctor excitedly announced “Oh! There’s two in there”.  That’s right, TWINS.

Our world changed… our prayers changed. And I realized what God was doing for us.

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In all of my pain and brokenness I turned to Jesus.  I remained hopeful that life would someday be good again.  And even though it was easy to ask “why?” it was never easy for me to blame God for the tragedy that turned our lives upside-down.  He took our heartache and blessed us with two… He helped us mend our broken hearts by filling them with more love.

The twins were born 6 days after my dad’s first birthday in heaven. Everyday, I look at our twins and praise God for the love and fullness it has brought to my life.  And while I desperately want my children to have their Pawpaw in their lives, something tells me they’ve already met.

Grief is a strange thing.  It comes in waves.  Sometimes they are little gentle waves that brush upon your toes.  And other times, they are unbearable waves that knock you down and swirl you around in the undertow.  Grief is never something that is “healed”… it is something you bear… sometimes easy… sometimes debilitating. The truth is, I’ve never gone back to feeling “normal” in the way that normal felt at the time of his passing. There’s a new normal… and honestly I carry guilt with me all the time when the new normal feels okay.

But as a stay-at-home mom to Pawpaw’s favorite little twins, I have never felt so fulfilled… so alive in Christ… so grateful for the blessings we have.

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I know this one was heavy. But thanks for being my therapy on an emotional roller coaster day.

Mom Must-Haves

Life hack: Non-Slip Toddler Booties

My 13 month old toddlers will NOT keep socks on. They pull them off by the toes of the socks and just giggle. It’s been so cold here and I hate them having bare toes, especially on our tiled kitchen floor. 


I bought some booties off of Amazon…. because I buy everything on Amazon. At the time that I purchased them the description said they had a non-slip sole. But the striped version that I bought didn’t have the non-slip bottoms. I complained in a review and they’ve since changed the description. I considered sending them back but they’re just too stinking cute. I came across a “life hack” option to use fabric paint on the bottom of toddler socks to add a non-slip texture. A lightbulb went off… the adorable booties can be saved!!! 

I had some 3D fabric paint on hand that I used for our Christmas stockings, so I thought I’d give it a whirl. The fabric paint cake from Hobby Lobby and I paid $1.29 for 1 fl. oz.  

Happy Homesteading

Winter Egg Hunting

Just before it started to get cold, a friend gave me 6 hens.  Her mother was moving out of state and couldn’t take her beloved chickens with her so I agreed to take them.  Weeks passed and I was convinced that they were duds… old hens that were too old to lay, too old to sell, and too old to eat.  I was disappointed because I had approximately 57 egg cartons I was so eager to fill with eggs…. and twins that will go through 4 eggs a day if I let them.  In 3 months, my 6 old birds had yielded 3 eggs total.


A few months later, I got 5 more hens and 2 roosters.  They were 6 weeks old when I got them. We made arrangements to keep them separate from the old birds but still in the same barn. 


Within 2 weeks of having our new chickens, our old birds began laying.  I’ve been getting 3-4 eggs per day… and the best part is I get to go hunting for them each day because I have one or two hens that lay in the most peculiar places – between wall studs, behind boards, and behind feed barrels.  


Here’s what I think made a difference in their egg productivity:

  • Roosters: even though they are young fellas, I think the old gals were inspired by the handsome youngins.
  • Heat Lamps: In the corner of the barn I’ve mounted a heat lamp. They can definitely avoid it, but they’ve made a pile of hay near the heat lamp and have created a cozy place for egg laying.
  • Oyster shell: I was offering oyster shell to my hens from the beginning, but I recently started putting the oyster shell into their crumble food. I don’t mix much in.  I think the recommended ratio is 1 lb oyster shell to 20 lbs of crumble.
  • Scraps: But I really think this is more about me than it is about the food.  They are much more comfortable with me coming in and out of their space when I bring them snacks.  Some of their favorites include veggies or noodles that the kids don’t finish, apples, leftover biscuits and dinner rolls.
  • Space to roam: I used to lock up my birds at night and let them have free range during the day.  Now that the youngins are locked up full time until they get a little bigger, my old birds are free ranging all the time.  The kinda like having the freedom to roost anywhere they want… in fact one of my gals enjoys the barn rafters.

I’m still new at this but based on my flock, happy chickens with the prospect of young love, warm nesting spaces, calcium supplements, tasty snacks, open spaces and high ceilings produce the most eggs.  This spring we hope to put build a chicken coop for them so they can have their own private space and get them out of the horse barn.  But hopefully we can keep them just as happy.  We should have 5 more egg layers by April 1 and we can’t wait to fill up all of our egg cartons!

I can’t wait to share some of my favorites egg recipes with you soon so stay tuned!

Happy Homesteading

Favorite Holiday Recipes

My friend and I have an annual holiday cookie/candy making get together. Sometimes we make the same recipes and often times we try some new things. My friend has a 5 year old and we’ve been doing it for 4 years so we’ve always done kid friendly recipes like chocolate covered pretzels and peanut clusters. 


Here’s what we made this year:

Chocolate covered pretzels – melt almond bark according to instructions on package. Dip pretzels and lay them out on wax paper. Sprinkle with Christmas sprinkles. 

Peanut clusters – melt chocolate flavored almond bark according to instructions on the package. Pour dry roasted peanuts into the almond bark. Use cookie dropper to drop onto wax paper. 

Sugar cookies – these are probably the best I’ve made. I was in a pinch for time and was looking for a recipe that didn’t require the dough to chill. 

Sugar cookie icing – I usually just make my own with a stick of butter, about 2 cups of powdered sugar, a 1/2 tsp of vanilla, and a splash of milk until the texture is right. Usually no more than a couple tablespoons of milk. 

Chocolate chip cookies – we use the standard toll house recipe at our house. 

Peanut butter fudge -this is a deliciously silky fudge and super easy. I’ve made it so many times and never had a failed batch. 

Here’s what is on my list in the near future:

I’m looking forward to having 4 extra hands next December…. although wrangling two year old twins in the kitchen might be more fun than I can take on. Dad has a whole year to build my kitchen helper stands

Happy Homesteading

Chocolate chip peanut butter cookies 

Well, happy New Year! It has only taken me 8 days to publish my first blog of 2018. And while many of you may have resolutions to eat healthier… I’m still stuck on the delicious cookies I made 2 weeks ago. So for those of you who are avoiding cookies, check out the recipe below for protein balls and save this blog post to your Pinterest recipe board and come back to the cookie recipe in a few months! Haha!

For those of you that aren’t in the Kansas City area, HyVee is a grocery store chain. We had some HyVee brand mini-chocolate chips. They were originally intended for no-bake oatmeal protein balls – but the cookies won. We had a Christmas party to go to and I was assigned to bring a sweet treat. I ended up following the recipe on the bag of mini-chips and OMG they were so delicious. And they just happen to be the most beautiful and uniform cookies I’ve ever made! They were worthy of a share.


Here’s the recipe:

Ingredients

1 c.  unsalted butter, softened

¾ c. granulated sugar

¾ c. packed light brown sugar

½ c. creamy peanut butter

2  large eggs

1 tsp. vanilla

2 ¼ c. flour

½ tsp. salt

1 tsp. baking soda

1 (12 oz) pkg mini semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 c. honey roasted peanuts
Directions

Step1

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Step2

Cream butter, granulated sugar and brown sugar with a electric mixer.

Step3

Add peanut butter and mix well.

Step4

Beat in eggs and vanilla.

Step5

Combine flour, salt and baking soda. Gradually stir into sugar mixture.

Step6

Stir in chocolate chips and peanuts.

Step7

Drop by tablespoons onto greased baking sheet.

Step8

Bake for 11 to 12 minutes.

Step9

Let cookies stand on baking sheet 2 to 3 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool.
Since I rarely follow a recipe, I thought I’d list the changes I made. I didn’t use the honey roasted peanuts, I didn’t grease our cookie sheets and I added a bit more flour than the recipe called for… I probably used 2 1/2 cups of flour.