Happy Homesteading

Nap Time Home Improvement: Wall paper removal gone wrong

As I’ve mentioned in previous blogs, we bought a 1970’s ranch home about 18 months ago.  I like to call my home improvement projects, “Nap time home improvement” because I generally only work on the projects during the 2 hour nap times I have to work with.  This summer I’ve been trying to devote nap times to working on things around the house.  Last summer we just couldn’t find the time as we were trying to figure out how to be parents of 6 month old twins.

Ok, I use the twins as an excuse to not get much done on the house last summer… but if I’m being honest the house will probably never be in a “finished” state because that’s just the kind of people we are.

When we first moved in I was nearly 7 months pregnant and was in a wild nesting phase which peetered out quickly after dealing with high blood pressure and bed rest.  While in the wild nesting phase I began ripping down every bit of wallpaper in our home.  However, some of the wallpaper was hung directly on unprimed, unpainted, raw drywall.  What a mess. Chunks of the drywall paper came up and created a serious eyesore…. that I lived with for a year.  For one, we had no idea how to correct the issue and two we were terrified to expose preemie babes to drywall dust.

We resorted to YouTube and I came across this gal:

My husband can watch YouTube “how-tos” all day, but I just don’t have the patience for it. I appreciated this gal’s quick tutorial and her methods proved successful for us. We bought the primer from Amazon.  The wall still hasn’t been painted but it is primed and ready for paint!

My husband was ready to rip the drywall out and replace it… but thankfully we didn’t have to!

Mission Motherhood

Stretching your Grocery Dollars at Aldi

Happy Friday, birdies!

Where has the month of June gone?

We have been so busy this month with trips out of town, home improvement projects, reading potty training “how-tos”, learning to sew, playing outside, and the list goes on…

This month our family has made a commitment to be mindful of our budget.  We’ve studied the ins and outs and have made a plan to be more cost savvy.  We had saving set aside and budgeting for me to be at home with the twins for one year… and here we are 18 months later in desperate need to rework the budget to keep me home.

With budgeting being a priority meal planning has been essential to maintaining our monthly food budget. I say meal planning loosely because what I really do is create a menu.  I’m a pretty obsessive planner in most areas of my life but when it comes to meals I like the flexibility of saying “that doesn’t sound good tonight, let’s have this instead”.  Aldi and I have become best buds… we take our relationship seriously but we only see each other every other week for about an hour.  An hour doesn’t seem like much, but we make the time count.

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Last week I spent an hour at Aldi’s, bought 2 weeks worth of food and spent $185.

Here are my steps for a successful Aldi’s trip with children in tow:

  • Evaluate your pantry, fridge and freezer to get an idea of what food items will carry over into the next menu. It’s important to me to use up items that may go to waste soon.
  • Check out the weekly ads at your local grocery stores. You can often find them online.  I’ve recently discovered an application called Flipp that has been super helpful in tracking down grocery ads.
  • Peruse Pinterest for ideas.  (I have a board for dinners and breakfasts.)
  • Check out Aldi’s website for recipes as well!
  • Consider items that may freeze well if you’re planning for 2 weeks. Many produce items wont be fresh for that length of time. We utilize frozen fruits and veggies as we get into that second week, freeze meats and bread.  (Even things like milk and butter can be frozen, but I haven’t had to resort to that yet)
  • Write down a list of meals that will make the cut (I plan for 14-16 meals).
  • Write down the ingredients that go with each meal.
  • Evaluate your pantry for items you may already have (and look for items that might be good substitutes in your recipes).
  • Re-organize your list of ingredients in the order of how they are organized in the store. I promise this is the key to getting in and out of the store quickly… if you don’t know your store well enough just group like items on your list – dairy, meat, canned goods, etc.
  • Pack reusable grocery bags in the car… and don’t forget the quarter for your cart!

I honestly take about 2 hour prepping all of this. This much prep may seem exhausting, but not nearly as exhausting as roaming around a grocery store aimlessly with 18 month old twins for 2 hours and hoping for some combination of ingredients that will make a meal…. and then having to do it again every week or more.

What are some of your money saving tips when it comes to grocery shopping?

Stay tuned for a sample of our 2 week menu in an upcoming blog.

Mission Motherhood

What is “me time”? And how do you achieve it as a mom?

About a month ago my husband schedule changed from 2pm – midnight to 7:00am-5:00pm. It’s been an adjustment for everyone in our house.

With the change in schedule I continued to sleep in for as long as the kids would sleep. And then our budget started to take a hit. The husband would stop in someplace for a fast food breakfast and then eat lunch out. He was spending $20/day just eating 2 meals (which is a whole different blog in itself).

I committed to getting up with him at 5:45am to make sure he got out the door with breakfast and lunch. As a single income family we can’t afford to spend $20/day on food. He leaves for work shortly after 6am. After he leaves I go to our sunroom. It is a place where you can hear the birds chirping, the roosters crowing, the rain falling, the wind blowing, the neighbor dog barking, the school bus driving by and the owl “hooting”. It’s not a quiet place, but it certainly is a peaceful place.

I have never been a morning person, but it is unbelievable how much better I feel throughout day and how much I am able to get done.  I’m not doing much in the morning other than put breakfast and lunch together for the husband, maybe change some laundry over, but mostly I’m drinking coffee (while it’s warm), trying to focus on reading my Bible and doing a daily devotional to set my tone for the day.  (Right now I’m working on Jesus Always by Sarah Young).

Would I have this morning routine if my children weren’t sleeping through the night? Maybe not.  Would I do this if I were a working mom?  I think so.  I’m able to be more productive through the day and utilize nap times rather than just slug around.  I kid you not, since I’ve been doing this, my house has been cleaner and I’ve been able to get a handful of home improvement projects completed.  I don’t do the cleaning and projects first thing in the morning, I do it during nap times.  I think my kids have greatly benefited too because overall I have a better attitude and I feel motivated to get them out of the house and go to the park or Toddler Story Time at our local libraries.

Do you have a morning routine for yourself that includes “me” time? What gets your day started?

Mission Motherhood

You’re more than a Nurse

Happy Nurse’s Week!

Many people go to work, do their job, complete menial tasks, physically exert themselves, get in their car, go home from work and turn it off.  They walk away from what they do and go about their lives.

You nurses… you do it all.  You have to be sharp and on your toes at all times.  You have to be a detective looking for signs and putting together puzzle pieces.  Your job is physically demanding.  You pour your heart into your patients and you emotionally invest. You work 12+ hour shifts. And then you’re expected to go home after those 12 hours and be physically and emotionally available to your families.  That’s a gift… that’s a super power.

In my 19 days in the labor and delivery ward at North Kansas City Hospital I didn’t meet a bad nurse. And based on my experience there, I’ve come to the realization that you are way more than a nurse.

  • You were my advocate when I didn’t want the doctor to check me.
  • You were my calm when life felt like chaos.
  • You were compassion when I was hurting.
  • You brought me a “long-term” bed that was SO much more comfortable than a labor bed.
  • You put on my freaking compression socks…. which is darn near a cardio workout.
  • You brought me DVDs, snacks and drinks. You even made sandwiches and toast.
  • You encouraged me when I felt like I couldn’t do it.
  • You put a bed pan under me and helped me lift my big ole pregnant body on it when I was on magnesium sulfate and restricted to the bed. (And you moms know how frequently a pregnant lady pees).
  • When I was alone you were my friend. You came in and talked to me about life, about my unborn babies, the best Netflix shows to watch.
  • You brought me a mini-fridge for our Thanksgiving leftovers.
  • You shared your Thanksgiving with my family.
  • You brought me Black Friday ads, even though there was no way I’d be Black Friday shopping.
  • You helped me get out of bed, walk the halls, and walk to the bathroom.
  • When I was getting cabin fever you convinced the doctor to let me take a wheel chair ride down to the cafeteria.
  • When I so badly wanted to sit in a tub of water and feel weightless you made it happen, despite a doctor discouraging it, and despite the Mother and Baby unit that possessed such tub… because “it is only for postnatal mothers”.
  • When I wanted to go outside and sit in the courtyard after being trapped in the same room for 18 days you brought me a wheelchair and warmed blankets.
  • You cried with me.
  • You were going to coordinate a time for my dog to visit me in the hospital because I missed her like crazy.
  • You woke me up in the middle of the night because you had to… but you did it in the kindest way and left all of the lights off. (They can do their job in the dark, people.)
  • On day 19 when the doctor told me he would let me go 14 more days before he’d induce labor, I lost my cool at the idea of being there for 14 more days.  You made me a paper chain with 14 links that each of the night shift people decorated.
  • You got excited for me when I thought my water broke.
  • You held me when my epidural was placed (3 freaking times… and listened to my swear words without taking it personal).
  • You cheered me on during labor.
  • You rejoiced with me on the happiest day of my life.
  • You were my birth photographer.
  • You helped me navigate self care of a postnatal body.
  • You held my babies before they sent us up to the Mother and Baby ward.
  • You came back to Mother and Baby for a visit several times before we left the hospital.
  • You made little shirts for the twins as a gift. (You were my nurse and you gave ME a gift? You’re the one that deserves the gifts)

You do it all.  You are so much more than a nurse. You invest in people. You have a heart to serve and you do it because you have a passion for it. You get your hands dirty and deal with grumpy patients but you still come in with a smile and a snack.

You are my HERO.

Thank you for all you do.

If more people had the heart of a nurse, I think we’d live in a much peaceful world.

(My first trip out of my room and to the cafeteria with my mom)

Mission Motherhood

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.