Friday, January 29, 2016

Friday Faves

It's FRIDAY!! Which means time for Ellen's Friday Faves - enjoy! 


I love saving money and I love it even more when I can take that money and immediately purchase Starbucks with it. If you are my Facebook friend you know that I am obsessed with Ibotta. It's a grocery rebate app and allows you to get cash back on stuff you already by. I love it so much they don't even have to pay me to tell you - but they will. If you sign up using this link https://ibotta.com/r/numntwp you will et $10 and I will get $5. Then you can have your friends sign up and get the same awesome bonus! WIN WIN... anyways - it's great, check it out and you're welcome. 


We just booked our trip to Mexico to celebrate me turning 30 and surviving a year raising twins. So that has me thinking about summer and summer time drinks. So I was browsing my reading list and stumbled upon this delicious recipe for cucumber lime cilantro margaritas. I have not made it yet but just looking at I am salivating. 


33 Slow cooker recipes with only 3 ingredients. I have a love, love relationship with my crockpot. It is sometimes the only way I can put dinner on the table. This website is amazing and I fully plan on trying lots of these recipes during our "No spend" February. I also love New Leaf Wellness for the same reason. Check both out - you won't regret it.


I talked about Lucie's list in my registry post but I just received word that... wait for it... they are now allowing you to register as a TWIN MOM!! The lack of registry resources fro twin moms is appalling so I'm super stoked about this. If you or anyone you know is expecting twins pass this info along, like yesterday. 



This sweet post written to twin moms in the first year - oh how I needed to hear some of this this week. Especially this "Friend, you WILL get through this first year. And when you do, you will look back with awe and wonder and realize just how strong it made you. Get ready to light the candles and CELEBRATE. It’ll be here before you know it. Their first birthday won’t only be to celebrate them, but to celebrate YOU. YOU, their momma who loves them more than you ever thought possible. YOU, their momma who gives up your own comfort and conveniences to focus your energy on taking care of them. YOU, their momma who was chosen for them because you ARE strong enough. You can do this. Hang in there. It’s double the work, but I promise, it’s also double the fun."


Thursday, January 28, 2016

Cloth Diapering Update


Since the twins were born, lot of people ask me about how the cloth diapering is going, some of them are choking back laughter and others are genuinely curious. I won't even fault people for thinking I'm crazy for cloth diapering twins, I am. You can read all about our reasoning/decision to cloth diaper here.

I'm not going to lie to you, it's not the easiest or cleanest thing in the world, and in fact I can be quoted the first week as saying "Yeah, this is terrible" BUT I'm 100% honestly glad that we stuck with it. Plus it saves me just enough money to fund my wine and coffee habits which is good enough reason for me to keep going. 

We did not start putting the boys in cloth regularly until they were about 10 weeks old, or as I like to call it "down to one poo per day" - looking back now, I would trade breastmilk poo for solid food poo ANY DAY. I didn't even need the diaper sprayer back then... #thosewerethedays

Very quickly I realized which diapers were for us and which were not. Unfortunately I had purchased about a million and two that we did not like (all the more reason to start out buying used and try a variety). I still have a giant sack of pocket diapers I need to unload... so anyone who needs them, please inquire within - I'll make you a stellar deal. 

Personally I find the microfiber to be a pain in the ass because of compression leaks (when baby sits the diaper squirts the pee out - this happens in disposables too just not as frequently).  That being said I do love the bumgenius freetimes (which are microfiber). My favorite diapers though, are the Bum Genius Flip covers with organic cotton inserts and bamboo/hemp boosters, and Bum Genius Elemental diapers (the cotton version of freetimes). All of these are followed very closely by the G diaper system - because it has a nice slim fit. 

The benefit of all in one is that they are similar to disposable in you take them off and toss them, then put a new one on. I like the flip covers with inserts because the cover is reusable so if you're out and about you don't have to pack a bunch of diapers, just a few inserts and a back up cover which takes up MUCH less space. 

The reason why I prefer the cotton over the microfiber is solely because of absorbency, the cotton does not leak the same way microfiber does. It is only a small perk that cotton also happens to be more "natural", most people like the microfiber because it wicks the moisture from baby and keeps their bums pretty dry. This is perfect for kids who don't like to be wet, but our boys will literally sleep in a puddle of their own pee... so cotton works just fine for us. 

We still use disposable when we are visiting friends/family and sometimes out and about - but I have become more comfortable using cloth around town since poops are much less frequent. We always use disposable at night, mainly because I don't have the patience to figure out what nighttime cloth diapers will work - and it can be a literal mess of trial and error.

Cloth diapering accessories I couldn't live without

2 Wet bags - I love this one by skiphop
This Ikea Drying Rack
Diaper Pail with Giant wet bag

*you don't need this until they start eating solids/purees
**the sprayers are super powerful and without this my bathroom would literally be a shit hole

Perks of Cloth


Less rashes

Less blow outs
An extra $20 or so a week in the budget
Good for the environment

Some of the not so nice things about cloth

Spraying the poo... just ew
The extra laundry (I really only mind the folding/putting away)
Putting them on a wiggle worm (so many snaps)
Some are super bulky and can give baby an odd shape (purely cosmetic here)

So there you have it - an honest update on our cloth journey. I'm not sure how much longer we will continue down the cloth path but I'm hoping it will only get easier as they are needing less frequent changes.



Wednesday, January 27, 2016

To my childless friends

Let me preface this post by saying, this is not going to be what you think. I am not here to tell you what you can or cannot say to me or what you can or cannot do with or around my children. I am also not here to justify all my new behaviors or give excuses on why I have fallen off the face of the Earth. I am simply here to say thank you. To express my unending gratitude to you for your understanding, your kindness and your ability to remind me who I was before I spent my days sporting yoga pants, a messy, unwashed top knot and wiping snot on my sleeve.

There are so many articles floating around the web these days shaming people without children for their “behavior” towards parents. While I completely understand where some of these mamas are coming from, and I do agree that there are certain lines not to be crossed, did we also forget that we used to be childless? Did we forget that we used to enjoy sleeping in on Saturdays and brunch on Sundays? Did we forget how to be human, and kind? Where does this attitude towards non parents come from? Is it something they lace the IV bags with at the hospital?

Instead of whining about our friends who throw dinner parties that aren’t kid friendly how about we thank them for giving us an opportunity to escape for the evening? Or here’s a thought, politely decline the invitation. Why do we think that just because we brought life into this world people ought to now bow to our commands? 

So here is my thank you note to those friends who are sticking around, it might not be short but I hope it is sweet. 


To my childless friends, 

Thank you for throwing parties where my children are not welcome. For giving me an excuse to get dressed up in something that cannot afford to have spit up on it. You have no idea how long I have waited to put on one of my dresses that currently collects dust in the office closet. One of those outfits that is simply not practical when you have to whip your boob out every 45 minutes to appease a screaming infant. Thank you for giving my husband and I time away from the house to enjoy the company of other adults without the background noise of children screaming. Thank you for caring enough to still invite us to things even though 9/10 we have to decline.

Thank you for talking to me about something other than diapers, breastmilk and baby milestones. Those things are not of interest to you, and while I appreciate when you ask about them or how we are doing, I also appreciate when you talk to me about the outside world. I love that I still have someone I can relate to on a personal level without kid talk.  Staying at home with two non verbal humans all day, I crave adult interaction, I want to remember what it's like to have intelligent conversation and discuss something besides the latest trend in child rearing. So thank you, thank you for reminding me that I am a college educated individual who has much more to discuss than diapers. Thank you for talking politics and sending me interesting articles that aren't from scarymommy.com.

Thank you for trying to relate to my newfound exhaustion by comparing my kiddo to your fur baby. Sometimes it IS very similar and when that is all you know I refuse to fault you for it. I know this might be your only way to empathize and for that I am grateful. I am grateful that even though you may not actually know what it’s like to be "new mom tired" you do know what it’s like to take care of something that cannot communicate, and how frustrating it can be. So cheers, let’s drink another glass of wine and commiserate the only way you know how. If you want me to be honest, no it’s not really the same, but I promise not to shame you for comparing your pet to my kid, and one day when you are in the thick of it I will gladly come over and snuggle that baby, and I promise to NEVER say “a little different than fido eh?” because who needs that reminder, No ONE.

Thank you for spoiling my kids. For giving them extra snuggles and buying them trinkets on your many trips to far away places. Thank you for loving on them and giving us a much needed night out every once in awhile. Thank you for buying them the adorable personalized name books that I wanted to get but simply could not justify spending money on. Thank you for being the house on Halloween that gives out the giant candy bars. Thank you for hosting a shower for me before they were even born, and for imploring your ever talented mother to make them beautiful quilts that I will cherish forever. Thank you for coming by on your day off to deliver sweet treats and give hours of cuddles to my babies. I know for you it’s so fun to have kids you can “give back”, but it is equally fun for us and our kids to have “aunts and uncles” on standby to swoop in and love on them whenever we need a break. 

Thank you for reminding me that it is okay to do something for myself. When you have children, for the most part selflessness becomes part of your daily routine. I don’t mean that in a “toot my own horn, I’m so amazingly selfless” kind of way, in fact if I’m being honest it is sometimes more of a daily struggle than routine. What I really mean is when you have children you now have to take care of the tiny humans, and put their needs before your own. I literally forget to do things for myself on a daily basis, sometimes I don’t even remember to use the bathroom until they are down for a nap. So thank you for telling me to take a shower and brush my hair. Thank you for buying me a massage or pedicure for my birthday and forcing me to use them. Bonus points if you show up and hold the little rascals while I take that much needed me-time.

BUT MOST OF ALL, thank you for your patience and understanding. I know I suck at being a friend right now, and I will probably do a million things wrong before one thing right. So thank you for recognizing that my life is different now then when we met, that while I truly enjoy spending time with you and cherish our friendship, other things come first now. Thank you for understanding that while there was a point in time when friends were my numero uno, that time is not now. Thank you for recognizing that prioritizing is hard, especially when you’re working on 2.5 hours of sleep. Thank you for knowing that I cannot do it all and for giving me grace when I don’t remember this and I overcommit myself. Thank you for still being my friend even when I forget something important or inevitably hurt you. Thank you for calling me out when I’m being a bad friend and helping me to realize that I need to be better at communicating. Please also know that whenever I can, I will drop everything to be where I am needed but that it just takes a little more finagling now that I have two little persons dependent on me.

Overall thanks for being you and for loving me and my kids in spite of our flaws. Thanks for sticking around and I promise to return the favor 10 times over if/when you decide to procreate.

Sincerely, 

Your very tired, very overwhelmed, friend 
who loves and appreciates you 
more than you will ever know




Meatball Subs

Soooo HEB has meatballs on sale this week, and I love a good grocery sale, but before stocking up on the pre-made meatballs I decided to try them out first. I have to tell you, they are incredibly delicious and so easy to make! Just pop them in the oven for 20 minutes on a foil wrapped pan and voila! You can do so many fun recipes with these but we opted for the traditional meatball sub. 

Unfortunately I didn't take any pictures of the cooking process because it was a team effort in the midst of getting the boys down for bed (sigh, schedules) but I did manage to snap one photo of my sub before it was inhaled by me. 


You will need: 

1 pkg of pre-made meatballs (4 per sub)
2 sub loafs* 
*I use the ones in the big glass case at HEB I think they are only 50 cents
1-2 pkgs Mozzarella (3 slices per sub)

1 large carton of tomato sauce (no salt added)
1 cup of red wine
1 teaspoon basil
1 teaspoon parsley
pinch of oregano
1/2 teaspoon of salt (more to taste)
2 cloves of garlic minced (I use the pre minced stuff in the jar)


Prepare meatballs according to package (line a baking pan with foil and cook at 375 for 20 minutes) - we tried the spicy italian ones and they were so good! 

While the balls are cookin' prepare your sauce (I'm sure you can use any jar sauce as well but I like to make this simple one that I use for everything, including lasagna...)

Add about half of the tomato sauce, basil, parsley, oregano, salt, garlic and wine to a small/medium saucepan. Bring to a "boil-ish" aka get it pretty hot, then cover and simmer for about 15-20 minutes. Taste the sauce and adjust seasonings as needed... if too salty add more tomato sauce, if not salty enough add more... you get the gist. 

When you are ready to make the subs, use the same pan or a different one it's up to you, just make sure it's a foil lined one. 

Slice your sub buns down the middle and press the bread inside to make an indention for the meatballs. 

Next add your meatballs to the sub (it should fit 3-4). They will probably be hot so I suggest using a fork or spatula for this step. 

Next, spoon some delicious sauce over the meatballs, but not too much or the bread will be soggy.

Use a slice of cheese and tear it to stuff in and around the meatballs -you will not regret this step, not one bit...

Cover the sub with two slices of mozzarella. 

Set your oven to broil and place subs in the oven on a foil wrapped pan. 

MAKE SURE you keep a close eye on these, seriously don't leave the room. They should take about 5 minutes max depending on your oven but you want to pull them out as soon as the cheese begins to brown. If you don't they go from brown to black VERY quickly.

If you're like me and prefer a lot of sauce there should be plenty left over for dipping! 

These subs pair beautifully with any side but I like them with a salad because they are fairly heavy. 

Monday, January 25, 2016

A New Sister and A New Dip

So my little brother, the one who I used to tote around on my hip and was basically my very own live baby doll is getting married. He is so grown up and he found this amazing woman to call his wife, I could not be happier for them - in fact I sometimes cry happy tears thinking about it.

I mean could they be any cuter?


This weekend we spent a few days in Montgomery prepping and hosting a surprise engagement party for those cuties (more on that to come in another post) and we had such a great time celebrating with both family and friends.

 For the party I whipped up a jalapeno popper dip and I just had to share it. This would make the perfect addition to any Superbowl gathering. I have made variations of this dip a few times but this round was by far the best.

You will need:

Cream Cheese (16 oz softened)
Mayonaise (the real stuff about 1/2 cup)
Sour Cream (8 oz)
1 stick of Butter Melted
1 small can diced green chiles
2-3 large jalapenos (seeded and diced)
1 bunch of green onions chopped/diced
3 bags of Real Bacon Pieces (in the salad aisle)
1 sleeve of ritz crackers
2 cups Shredded Cheddar
2 cups Shredded Mexican Blend

A Square Baking Dish
Fork
Spatula
Microwave safe bowl


1. Preheat oven to 350

2. Combine everything but the crackers and butter into a large bowl and mix together (I find a fork does the trick very well)

3. Use a spatula (the silicone kind are great for this) to scrap contents of the bowl into a glass or ceramic baking dish. This amount fills a 8x8 pyrex dish beautifully! I don't normally spray the dish because the grease from the cheese is plenty to keep it from sticking.

4. Melt butter in a microwave safe dish or bowl (about 1 minute should do it) Crush the ritz crackers and add to the butter, stir to coat the crumbs evenly.

5.Top the cheese mixture with crackers and bake at 350 until the top is browned and the cheese bubbles. Usually takes around 25-30 minutes, but I check on it every 15 just to be safe.

I serve the dip with fritos scoops but it really can go with any kind of chip! This dip is best served warm thought so I recommend setting on a hot plate if you are going to have it out for a party.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Friday Faves

I won't lie - I spend a lot of my downtime surfing the web so I figured I would start to organize all my favorite finds here instead of constantly sharing them on Facebook, you're welcome.

Here are a few of my favorite things from the inter webs this week...

This blog... I'm not sure how I stumbled upon Dear Queenan but after reading this post about drinking in front of your kids I'm 100% positive we could be best friends.


The idea behind this "capsule wardrobe" - one day I will find time to go through my clothes and make it happen... maybe if I didn't spend so much time surfing the web... ;)


This super sweet article that I saved awhile back and just rediscovered... what a precious letter to a daughter in law not yet discovered. 

This Making a Murderer theory floating around... if you haven't watched the documentary series on Netflix do yourself a favor and just do it. #bandwagon


Serial: Season Two - a popular podcast from the "This American Life" series. I started listening on my road trip this week and this season is focuses on a soldier that was captured by the Taliban and the more than murky circumstances surrounding his disappearance and reappearance. If you haven't discovered  Serial yet I highly recommend listening to Season One as well AND because the stories are totally unrelated you can listen in whatever order you choose!




Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Chicken Enchilada Soup

This recipe is one that I had for the first time at my Aunt's house. Someone made this for her after my grandfather's funeral and it was as delicious and comforting then as it is now. I have since made a few changes to it and tweaked it to make it perfect. Today I added a new twist that turned out extra delicious. The thing I love about this soup is how versatile and adaptable it is. While it does have a Mexican flair you can serve it so many ways. I've made it with cheesy bread, tortilla chips, over a bed of rice. You can add beans to give it a hearty flavor or keep it simple. 

However you decide to tweak it, if you are looking for a good comfort soup that is easy to throw together this recipe is for you. 

You will need


A crockpot or LARGE soup pot

64 oz Chicken Broth (or 4 chicken bouillon cubes and 64 oz of water)
1 Rotisserie Chicken or about 2-3 lbs of chicken (a whole fryer)
1-2 cans cheddar condensed soup* 
2 pkg McCormicks chicken taco seasoning** 
1 medium onion diced (I didn't use today but normally do)
1/2 block velveeta
corn tortillas
cooking spray

optional: 
shredded mexican blend cheese
sour cream
avacado
pico de gallo

Serves 6-8 people

Steps

If you are going to use a rotisserie chicken, which I highly recommend you will need to de-bone and shred the chicken. This takes about 15 minutes.  I used a mesquite chicken today but HEB makes a jalapeƱo lime one that is AH-mazing in this soup. I prefer to use rotisserie for most recipes that call for shredded chicken because I think the mixture of dark and white meat is delicious and it's already cooked so it saves me cooking time.

If you are using just regular chicken breasts you can throw them into the crockpot whole and uncooked, you will need to shred them about 4-5 hours into the cooking process though. You can also precook the chicken in a pot with the onion.  

To de-bone the chicken I use to forks and pull as much meat away from the bones as possible then toss it into the lid. Then I use my hands to pull the remaining meat off and throw it in the lid as well. I take the same forks and shred the chicken in the lid then dump into the crock pot with the chicken broth (I used water and bullion cubes today), diced onion, taco seasoning, 1 can of cheddar soup and 1/2 block velveeta.

 



Wyatt helped me cook today instead of napping...


After you put everything into the crock pot, give it a good stir, put the lid on and set it on low for about 6 hours - you may need to stir it periodically if you are home - if not don't worry about it. Also if you need to have a longer or shorter cooking time no worries - the longer you cook this soup the more delicious it gets but if you are using pre cooked chicken it can be ready as soon as the cheese melts if needed. 


About 40 minutes before dinner I start prepping the garnishes. I normally like to fry my corn tortilla strips but today I baked them and they turned out just as good without the mess of frying. 


Cut the tortillas into 1/2 inch strips and spread out onto a foil covered baking pan so that they are not touching each other


Coat strips evenly with cooking spray

 

Bake at 425 degrees until crispy (you may need to toss them around a couple times while baking, I set the timer for 10 mintes, toss, 5 minutes toss and then a final 5 minutes to crisp them - the main thing is to keep an eye on them or they will burn)

Once your soup is done - throw it in a bowl top with crispy tortilla strips, sour cream, avocado, more cheese, pico de gallo and whatever else sounds good to you!

*If you like a thicker soup you can add 2 cans of cheddar soup - I usually do one because I prefer the broth texture
**I only had one package of taco seasoning so I substituted a spicy ranch dip packet for one of the taco seasonings and it was deliciously tangy 


A Good Day

As I have mentioned before some days are better than others, yesterday was one of those! Both boys took great morning naps and even though Owen woke up a little early due to some snottage it gave us a little bit of one on one time. As much as I love for them to be on the same or similar schedules sometimes it is nice to have some alone time with each boy. One of my biggest fears when I found I was pregnant with twins was that I would never have time to dote on them the way that is so typical of a first and only baby.  No joke, sometimes I would see my friends post pictures of them and their little one and end up a crying mess. So on the days when they are on opposite schedules and I want to pull my hair out I just try to remind myself that I prayed for time to love them individually and sometimes answered prayers look a little different than what we imagine.

        
Mr. Independent - refuses to be helped and right after this picture he took both hands off and tried to stand on his own. I wish I could just press pause on this stage for a little bit.  

After morning nap we loaded up and headed out to meet Kristi and Jett for a walk. As much as I would love to be fit and enjoy exercise it's just not who I am. I prefer calm walks or yoga as opposed to boot camp and hardcore cardio. You will probably not catch me training for a marathon anytime soon. Walking a few times a week with another mama as we sip our iced coffee is a perfect work out for this season of life. 

Usually we walk a trail that is between our two houses and goes through the middle of town but it is currently under construction so we decided to branch out and try out a nature reserve. I'm so glad we did! For you local folks, if you haven't walked Miller Springs I highly recommend it. It winds through the Leon River Valley and they have a handicap trail that is perfect for pushing a stroller along. 


The view from one of the vantage points along the trail



We stopped to let the boys out for some play time and they were loving pulling up on the bars and holding the plants for leverage.



 


I love everything about the age they are at right now. Constantly exploring and playing. They are so interactive with each other and the world around them. I won't lie, the first six months with these two were pretty tough but now that they are playing together and becoming more independent it is just so much fun. 

After our walk we had planned to go have some more play time at Kristi's parents who live on the lake but both boys melted down at the car signaling it was time for afternoon nap. Of course they fell asleep right as I turned on our road to go home, BUT they both needed diapers and I didn't feel like washing the car seats, so instead of turning around and driving for nap I decided to pull them out and chance it. It only took an hour to get them down once we were inside and that included a slight break from nap to lower Wyatt's crib (Owen's went down last week). While I worked on lowering the crib they had a blast playing in Owen's crib. 


Right before I started filming Owen had Wyatt belly laughing playing peek-a-boo!

Once they were down both boys slept almost 2.5 hours! Like I said a GREAT day. I would love to say that during that time I was incredibly productive and cleaned house etc. but instead I did a few dishes then relaxed and read my book. I try to give myself one nap that is just time for me - because if I don't use at least one of their naps for downtime I will inevitably stay awake after everyone is asleep getting some much needed me time. 

We ended our night testing out some carrots and apples - carrots were met with tightly closed lips and projectile spitting by Wyatt. Apples were received a smidge better by Owen but Wyatt stayed pretty close lipped the entire meal (which is very unusual for him). Both boys are starting to fight a cold so that could be affecting their appetite. We did bottles and then loaded them up with some Hyland's baby cold syrup before bed.

Daddy got to do story time last night and my heart melted. I love the way Wyatt is always looking up at whoever reads. Owen is normally absorbed in the book but I may have distracted him with my photography. 

        

Shortly after laying them down both boys were out. 
Cry it out has worked wonders for Owen but Wyatt is still fighting it pretty hard at night. 

Overall it was a normal day but a good one and I know I will love having these ordinary updates to look back on when they are older.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Packing For the Weekend


Before kids, when we would go away for the weekend, all we had were one maybe two suitcases, a few hanging clothes, and occasionally the dog kennels. After the twins packing the car has become somewhat of a nightmare... so here is my “how to pack for a trip without losing your mind” tutorial. 

First things first, identify which person in your house is the most efficient at packing the car? I love my husband and he was gifted with many abilities but packing a car is not one of them. He also is pretty terrible at tetris, go figure. Once you have decided that, it is time to divide and conquer. The non packer is obviously in charge of keeping the children alive while the other packs the car. If you are packing while the other person is at work or otherwise occupied  which is usually the case for us, I would suggest you invest in something that will immobilize your children - play pen, baby gates, exersaucers... Really those are just a good investment in general - especially if you ever want to shower or cook dinner or you know just need 15 minutes of peace.

I find it makes packing easier when I have a list of what we need to pack, and I usually start my list the the week before and add to it as I think of things. Mom brain has left me pretty foggy some days so if I start the list early the less likely I am to forget something last minute. 

The night before we leave I try to gather all essentials that we won't need the next morning. For example, I get together all the clothes for the weekend, I always bring double what they will actually wear in case you know they decide to blow out a diaper or vomit the entire contents of their stomach onto their shirt. Next I lay out everything we will need for that morning - clothes, diapers, a few toys to entertain them while I load the car. If I’m doing really good and have all of my stuff packed (never) I will start loading the car after they are in bed, but who is really THAT organized?

So the morning of the trip - I will start gathering everything together - I will list below WHAT I pack but for now I’ll focus on the HOW of the packing. As I am gathering things, I will start stacking bags and all of the other for lack of a better word, stuff by the front door. I do this for two reasons, so it is out of the way and so that I can start playing Tetris in my brain and get an idea of how it’s all going to fit in the back of the car. 

Once I have everything together and stacked by the front door I will start loading the car. We have a Tahoe with the third row removed so luckily we have a lot of space to work with. I start by taking the big heavy things out to the car first and the essentials (the things that I can’t leave at home if they don’t fit). Then I start putting everything in. I usually load the heavy and large items first and then stack around them. The buckets of toys and things for the boys I try to put behind our seats or in between their car seats - that way if we need anything out of them during the trip I don't have to unload the back to get to them. I also try to pack with “what will we need as soon as we get there” in mind and put those towards the the front of the pile. 

To give you and idea of time... the time between when I start packing the car and when we pull out of the driveway can take anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour - depending on how much I got done the week leading up to the trip or the day of while Ben is at work. Then again, just getting out of the house on a normal day takes up to 30 minutes sometimes.

So what do we take when we travel? A lot. Some of it we need, some of it we don't but for the most part I try to keep it to essential items only. 

Kid Essentials 

Breast Pump 
MAKE SURE to double check that you have all the parts... you don't want to have to run to the local walmart in search of those little white rubber pieces at midnight... trust me

Kid's Bag 
We have this one from Land’s End and it fits almost everything - inside we put clothes, books, blankets, baby monitor, sound machine, overnight diapers, regular diapers and a few toys in case the bucket doesn’t fit in the car

Food Bag 
I like to pack bottles, baby food, spoons, formula, extra pacifiers, baby meds if needed separate from everything else so they are easily accessible and can be left in the kitchen

Diaper Bag 
We have this JuJuBe and I’m slightly obsessed with it - I keep this packed and in the car most days. I usually only take it out when I need to refill it with a change of clothes or diapers/wipes. I plan on doing a whole post on how I pack my diaper bag for twins but that is for another day.

Pack N’ Play 
Sometimes we bring 2 - if where we are traveling does not have an extra.

Non Essentials

Stroller 
We currently only have a double bob so it takes up A TON of space, I’m currently taking suggestions on a better double stroller for traveling... But for now, unless we are going somewhere for an extended amount of time this usually stays at home. For those of you who use the same stroller, if you didn’t already know the bottom wheels come off the bob making it easier to fit into a trunk.

Bucket of Toys 
We have two of these from target that I keep in our living room and it makes it easy to just throw one into the car whenever we go somewhere - even if we are going for just a couple of days - I try to bring a variety of things to keep the boys entertained but really they just want to play with each other or whoever we are visiting so these aren't totally necessary.

Baby Quilt
 I like to take a quilt wherever we go so that I can lay it down for the boys to play on - now that they are mobile it really just serves as a spot in a common area where I can keep their toys organized, change diapers etc. We have two AMAZING quilts that a dear friend made us and I keep one in the car and one in our living room. I also prefer to bring our own quilt so I don't feel as bad when my kid pees or spits up on it. 

Dog Kennel 
This is obviously essential if we are bringing Daphne, but it can also be folded down to save space in the car and then she can just ride freely in the car - which she loves, I do not…

Twin Z Pillow or Boppy pillows
If we are going to be leaving the boys with someone at our destination I like to bring these to help them with feeding - otherwise I leave them out.

Double Brest Friend
I don't always take this or the twin z pillow because they are so bulky, but if there is room it doesn't hurt to have them. 


To sum things up... 
If it is a convenience to have I pack it last. 
If it is a necessity I pack it first. 
If it is something that can be purchased when we arrive at our destination I will sometimes leave it out to save space (i.e.: formula, diapers, wipes...) this is especially if we are going for more than a few days. 

Friday, January 15, 2016

A day in the life...

A lot of people seem astonished that I can manage two babies at once, and from the outside I'm sure it might look terrifying or like utter chaos but I'm here to tell you, it can be done! So to give you an idea of just "how we do it" here is a peek at a day in our life...

at 5:00am I wake up with Wyatt, nurse him and put him back to sleep - I must note that he miraculously fell back asleep without crying this morning!

around 6:00 am I hear Owen crying and nudge Ben to grab him, teamwork it's how we get things done around here. Unfortunately though, Ben cannot breastfeed so I nurse Owen then hand him back off to be put down until 7:30 wake up. Ben opted to snuggle with him instead.

at 8:00 am we both wake up frantic and realize we overslept (for the record that NEVER happens)

Wake up both boys (curse myself for messing up their "schedule" before they're even awake) and let them play in the living room - Owen decides he is hungry again so I nurse him while Wyatt chases Daphne around.

8:30 am I pull cloth diapers out of the dryer (the laundry cycle never ends) change diapers and give Daddy a smooch before he heads off to work.

Continue play time while I make and eat my breakfast - this involves a lot of climbing and exploring, pulling all the toys out of the bucket, crawling on top of the piano, wrestling - a few Wyatt melt downs because Owen is pinching or sitting on him... I attempt to referee all of this and don't even bother pouring my coffee until after they go down for morning nap.

Around 9:30 both boys start fussing and want to nurse again, break out the double brest friend pillow and tandem nurse before nap.

9:45 new diapers in hopes that nap will last at least 2 hours... #agirlcandream - after diapers I lay both boys down awake with kisses and snuggles before of course.

by 10:00 both boys are out after some expertly timed patting and shushing #thanksferber

During nap I go through a bit of an internal struggle where I try to decide if I'm going to watch tv, read, or do any of the 1 million chores that need to get done. Today I opted for a combination. I poured my coffee and started laundry - which I could conveniently do while watching a couple of episodes of The Americans. I finally hung up all the clothes that have been laying in a pile on the floor of my closet and folded the last load of diapers for the week.

10:45 Wyatt starts screaming... damn that 45 minute sleep cycle... I let him fuss for a few minutes then spend about 10 minutes soothing him back to sleep.

11:00 I warm up my second cup of coffee that is now cold and settle back in for more tv and folding of the clothes that I threw in the washer this morning.

around 11:40 we had some friends stop by to borrow clothes for a wedding and they brought CUPCAKES - just in case you were wondering it's never wrong to show up with food, ever. The boys woke up about 12:00 - they got new diapers and nursed then were ready to play!

Our friends stuck around to entertain the babes until about 2:00 which means I got to eat a hot lunch and then we decided to head down to Austin to see our Yaya and pick up some toys that her neighbors passed down to the boys.

It took about an hour to get all our stuff together, nurse again, finish up the last of the laundry and load into the car. We were on the road by 3.

Both boys slept almost the whole hour in the car (this was their afternoon nap) and were ready to play when we pulled into the driveway.  They nursed sporadically while at my parents (which is pretty typical when we aren't at home) and I fed them a full meal before we left.

Wyatt decided he was going to be shy today, so anytime my mom called his name he would just stare at the ground.  This is not atypical of our younger twin - he may or may not inherit his disdain for "strangers" from his mother. He mastered the look of underachievement by 5 months. Owen on the other hand was showing off all his new skills, pulling up on toys and trying to crawl and climb on everything.

We got to visit with the neighbors and their adorable kiddos and then we headed back home around 6:00. If we were at home during this time is normally when they would be getting in their high chairs and having their "food" for the day - but instead they just got some extra mama milk for the day.

Both boys fell asleep on the way home, but by the time we hit Salado it was a scream fest all the way around. I pulled over to give Wyatt a pacifier and left the overhead light on for Owen - who really just hates being in anything that restrains him, stroller, car seat, you name it he hates it.

We pulled in our driveway about 7:20 and I got both boys out and inside. I bathed Wyatt first while Owen entertained himself in the exersaucer then we swapped. Both boys were in pajamas and playing while I made their bottles but then decided halfway through the process of bottles being made to lose their minds. So instead of playing they laid on the floor screaming. Unfortunately this is pretty typical, they are trained like pavlov's dogs that once those pajamas go on the bottle comes next... When you're flying solo like I was tonight it's almost inevitable that there will be a meltdown.

Both boys had their bottles by 7:40 and finished around 7:50. We read two stories - this is new to our routine and I love it - they fit in my lap perfectly. Wyatt always looks back at me mid story and Owen keep his hand on Wyatt and gives him pats most of the time. I might have teared up at the pure perfection it was to have them snuggled on me. I know these are the moments I will cherish when they are older.

They were in their beds by 8:00 after lots of snuggles and kisses. I was pretty proud of myself for making that happen only 30 minutes later than their "schedule" says they should be in bed. If you can't tell we are new to scheduling and it literally goes against everything in my nature.

After the boys went down I listened for crying but only heard minor fussing until about 8:30 when I checked on them and they were sound asleep... this is definitely not typical but I'm not gonna question it, I only sing praises to the Lord for his grace on this one.

I spent the remainder of my evening listing baby things on Facebook to fund my cloth diaper habit and writing this lovely post for you fine folks to read.

If it were a week night - The hubs would probably be asleep by now and I would be drinking red wine, reading or watching tv but it's FRIDAY so, I will spend the rest of the night hanging out with my sweet husband, scarfing down some late night McDonalds that he picked up on the way home from his soccer game, cleaning the kitchen, packing clothes for our trip to Houston this weekend and probably watching another episode of The Americans (it's so good... seriously you should watch it.)

So there you have it - a day in our life... I would like to say it's a typical day, but there really are no typical days. Life with kids is, as you probably know is unpredictable and predictable all at the same time, but I wouldn't have it any other way. They keep me on my toes and they keep my heart so very full. Here's to winging it and winning, and wine-ing when we don't.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

CIO and a Birthday


Let me just preface this post by saying, I do not need to hear how I am scarring my children for life by allowing them to cry. I do not need to read articles that prove why "cry it out" is bad for babies. So please save your commentary for someone who isn't at her wits end. I have already read them, I already know what the research says, and yet... here we are, doing cry it out. 

There is not enough wine in the world for crying it out with twins. Today, everyone was crying. I literally sat on the couch with the monitor in my hand SOBBING, replaying all the aforementioned articles in my head and wondering if 9:00 am was too early to pour a glass of wine. 

So you might be asking then, Ellen why the heck are you doing cry it out? 

I will start with saying because I am selfish, I need sleep in order to function and I prefer to have that sleep, with my husband, in our very comfortable bed, instead of with our tiny but precious dachshund on the not so comfortable couch while a baby is more or less attached to my boob. More importantly though, we are doing cry it out because my children need sleep, and they need to know how to sleep on their own.

I am a firm believer that when it comes to parenting you have to do what works for you and for your baby, and our babies just happen to not love sleeping with us, we have tried the co-sleeping thing but these boys are restless and they spend most of the night clawing at my shirt. I have learned in my VERY short stint at this motherhood gig, that what inevitably works for one baby might be different for the next and what works for one family might not work for every family. I am also beginning to notice that there will be good days and hard days and great days and awful days, and that when you have two very different babies at the same time, some days will just kick your ass. 

So here we are, we started "cry it out" partially out of desperation and mostly because our doctor said it was time. I use quotations because we are doing a VERY modified version which up until today involved me going in every 5 minutes to soothe and calm the boys, or what we realized was actually happening, me going in every 5 minutes to piss them off by dangling my milk smell in front of them and patting them on the back. We have since wised up and realized that either Ben needs to do the soothing or we have to let them self soothe, which is essentially the point of cry it out is it not? Considering that Ben needs to be able to function at his job, which is not so easy without sleep, we chose the latter, and that brings us to today. 

I decided we would stretch the "soothe" time to 10 minute intervals, mainly because Wyatt seemed to doze off pretty quickly after a couple back pats at the 5 minute mark and Owen usually took between 7-10. Both boys got drowsy, whiny around the same time this morning so I changed them, fed them and put them in their beds. There we were, one fed up mama, two fed up babies and lots and lots of tears. After I was jolted out of my sobbing fit by my 10 minute phone alarm I realized that I was the only one still crying, both boys had crawled into a comfortable position in their cribs, snuggled up with their blankets and fallen fast asleep. I couldn't believe it. I of course ran in to check on them, make sure they hadn't thrown up or choked, and there they were, sleeping peacefully in their cribs.  Then I of course started crying again because can't time just slow down? 

HOWEVER, in the spirit of true transparency Wyatt only slept 45 minutes for his AM nap and our afternoon nap did not quite go as smoothly. Part of that can be attributed to Wyatt falling asleep in the car after lunch and Owen realizing that he can now stand in his crib. Once I finally lowered Owen's crib and allowed them to settle down though, they slept, just not very long. I know we will get there, and I now have faith in our chosen method, I can finally see a light at the end of the tunnel. 

Do I still worry that we might be scarring them for life? Of course I do, but I'm pretty sure I am going to do a lot of things that will scar them. That's what parents do, we mess up and we make mistakes and then we learn how to let go and forgive ourselves. I have already forgiven myself for introducing mangos way too early, and I have a feeling after a few good nights of sleep for everyone all will be forgiven here too.

In other news, the man of the house turned 32 today and we spent the day celebrating him, so of course we have some adorable photos to show off. I could gush for pages about my love for this man, but let's just leave it at this: he is one of the hardest working men I know, he provides for our family in a way that lets me live the dream of loving on our boys all day, he rarely complains, if ever, about the fact that I am a terrible housekeeper, and he loves me in spite of myself.

I love this man, I surely do. 

Just a little birthday lunch with Daddy
(local peeps: if you haven't tried Bosses Pizza, Wings & Burgers in Temple, you are MISSING out)

Big boy sitting up in his high chair - of course all of those crackers ended up on the floor...

High chairs really are so fun 
Owen was not as into the food as Wyatt but he sure loved playing while sitting up at the table


We ended the night playing in the press box with our buddy Colin while Daddy refereed soccer.

The boys are learning how to share but it usually ends with Owen trying to use Wyatt to stand up and Wyatt screaming and throwing himself backwards. 

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

A Life in Transition

Someone once told me the best thing you can do to keep from going crazy staying at home is to do at least one thing out of the house every day. Or maybe I just made that up and I told it to myself as an excuse to go to Starbucks more often... either way we try to get out of the house at least once a day. We do this because one, it helps me feel like a person instead of a dairy cow two, the boys LOVE being anywhere but inside and three, I mean, Starbucks.

Transitioning from the hustle and bustle of a 9-5 okay... sometimes 5-9 job, as a teacher and coach to a 24/7 mama has been difficult in so many ways but not the ways I expected. I expected the spit up and the poop (so much poop y'all) but what I didn't expect was the sheer exhaustion and loneliness that comes with being a mom. There's a certain moment that happens for every parent when you realize this is your job, it never ends, there are no weekends from parenting, there are no holidays - you are now and always will be this tiny human's mama or daddy. My job is the same every hour of every day, it is a job I love but I would be lying if I said it wasn't strange to go from having a scheduled day and routine to having nothing but diaper changes and breastfeeding to clock the hours. I suppose the transition for my husband was an equally hard albeit different one, while he gets to "escape" as I sometimes call it to the office, he still comes home to a second, and even more demanding job - there are no more lazy weekends spent on the lake or the couch. 

Of course I also expected to feel alone, but I guess I just thought, I'll be so busy I won't notice. I noticed and it was bad. Like "stay in the same yoga pants for 4 days because who really notices anyways?" bad. I am a social person, the kind of person who used to wander around on their conference period saying hello to everyone and catching up on the school yard gossip instead of whatever it is productive people do during that time. If I am being 100% honest, and I'm all about that honesty... being at home all day I sort of felt as though I had lost my sense of direction. What I didn't realize was that I had plenty to do and a million directions to go I just didn't have someone telling me what to do or where to go. That's a weird feeling - to go from 85% structured by someone else to 100% structured by you.

So I decided we would go somewhere - out of the house - every day - even if that somewhere is just a  scenic drive while I talk to my best friend on the phone while she does the exact same thing on the other side of the country. Some days we go for walks, long walks with iced coffee and great conversation. Some days we go to the store, some days we just play in the front yard and talk to the neighbors. Not every day is a good day but I can say without a doubt that some of our best days are the days we get out of the house. Those few weeks the boys were sick with the cold from hell - we still managed to play in the front yard - and the days we didn't - I felt claustrophobic. I felt like the walls were caving in.

And before you even ask, yes sometimes it does take longer to get out than the actual outing, but even those days I'm glad I did it because it gave me break from the routine and I got to wander just a little. 

And for those of you who only stop by for the cute pictures, below are some from our outings this week... 


Owen insisted on being in the grass instead of on the blanket


He was really excited about the grass - as you can see


Again with the grass... we might have a future landscaper on our hands


Wyatt LOVES to nap in the stroller - he even hums to himself until he falls asleep

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

A Recap

I cannot believe it has already been 6 months... it's true what they say, time flies when you're having fun... or something like that right?

I won't lie, I have been pretty conflicted lately about wether or not to keep blogging, for the obvious reasons of course; time, privacy, writer's block, but then for every reason there is to stop there is another reason to keep going. I was reminded today by a sweet friend about how neat it will be to look back one day and have these memories recorded. She also reminded me what a nice thing it was to have someone else's story to read when she was just starting out as a mom. So with that being said, I am going to shortly recap the last 6 months today and hope that you will continue to follow along with us. My goal is to write at least a paragraph... okay sentence per day. Some days will inevitably be more exciting than others but hopefully, if our boys are anything like their sentimental pack rat of a mother, they will appreciate having this to read some day, and if they don't, at least I know I will.



What a blur. Seriously, any new mother can tell you those first few weeks at home FLY by. Between both our mothers, countless friends and family members we were never without an extra set of hands. Thank you to everyone who brought food, cleaned our house, washed our cars, raked our leaves, and held us together as we navigated and adjusted to our new normal. This month was full of newborn snuggles, sleepless nights, first smiles, cluster feeding, tummy sleeping and a lot of tears. I will one day write a whole post on what adjusting to parenthood was like for me but let's just say I survived and so did they, which is all that really matters right?




This was a big one... first visit with their cousins on my side, first shots, first road trip, first blow outs, and many more anxious moments for mama. This was also the month that near the end I finally started to realize what that "love" everyone talks about really was. These little creatures that had invaded my body 11 months prior were actually starting to seem human. We traveled to Houston to celebrate our Manna's 80th birthday and we got to spend a week at Yaya & Papa's house with our 7 cousins. It was a hectic week for everyone and my first time to spend the night alone with the boys. I also discovered my first irrational fear, that led to me pulling the car over every 10 minutes to make sure the boys were breathing. Lessons were learned, more tears were shed and everyone got a little bit tougher.




Oh what a fun month. This was our first month flying completely solo as parents, no extended visits to anywhere or from anyone, and we finally started to get into a routine. We found a buddy to hit up the park with and started walking regularly. The boys LOVE to be outside, and have since day one. Anytime they are crying or fussy I found you can take them outside and they will calm immediately. This month they finally started to settle into sleeping a bit longer at night - still not all the way through but I know we will get there one day (at least that's what I tell myself so I won't go crazy).




The boys had their first airplane ride and first extended period of time in their own room! I of course being such a great mom didn't catch a single photo of the boys on the plane, but they were such champs. I will eventually do a whole post on flying with two babies but we were so lucky that both boys behaved really well and slept most of the way. We traveled to Colorado to spend some time with my husband's extended family and introduce the boys to his grandmother. This month marked the transition from newborn to baby in my mind. Both boys really started to respond more to everyone around them and we started getting giggles out of both of them. Ticklish would be putting it mildly. We moved the boys to their room for sleeping, which was not as hard as I thought it would be. Some of their favorite things from month 4 are books, bath time and brother time - they really started watching each other this month and babbling back and forth, I'm crossing my fingers they create their own language. We also visited the pumpkin patch and participated in Halloween festivities.



First Thanksgiving, first Christmas, first cold, first foods and first true test of sanity for mom and dad. We spent Thanksgiving in San Antonio and Christmas in Austin. Both were so much fun and included lots of quality family time. As is very typical of holiday season, this was a long month for everyone, a fun month, but also a very long and busy one. We tried out pears and avocado at Thanksgiving and moved onto carrots and mangos at Christmas. Both boys love the baby purees, and hate the cereal/oatmeal, so we may skip those or revisit them down the road. I plan to start making some of our own food eventually. Owen caught a cold over Thanksgiving and quickly passed it to Wyatt, they then spent they next 4 weeks passing it back and forth until it settled in Owen's ears. We broke in the saline spray and Nose Frida and spent a lot of time researching cold remedies for babies under 6 months, I'll save you the time, there aren't any. For about 3 weeks no one in our house slept more than one hour at a time and Ben and I didn't spend a single night without a baby on our chest. On the bright side we both discovered we have the ability to sleep sitting up, so there's that... After both boys finally received a clean bill of health the teething began. Thanks to the lack of sleep and creation of some pretty terrible habits we will be starting month six with our first round of cry it out... On a positive note this is the month where both boys learned to sit up and really started to take an interest in each other. Watching them play together is the most fun Wyatt really studies everything and Owen enjoys exploring things by banging them together.



We are only half way through and my gosh what a month it has been... We dove head first into baby food this month and are trying to offer it at LEAST once a day. I am still horrible at scheduling, but the boys seem to have a routine down. Still no teeth but we are crawling, sitting, and pulling up pretty regularly. They love their exec-saucers, or as they are called around here the circles of neglect... go ahead and judge but sometimes mama needs to shower, or drink her coffee in peace. You name it they are trying it. Owen has mastered most of the gross motor skills and Wyatt remains our little brainiac. Both boys are little daredevils and love to be thrown in the air, held upside down and tossed around. Peek a Boo is a favorite game around these parts, and it is so much fun to watch them discover new things and try out new skills. The sign language we started with around 4 months is starting to take hold, Wyatt understands the sign for change and will hold still for diapers now, Owen loves to show off the sign for milk. I often find myself just staring at them and observing them as they test their limits. You can see the wheels turning with each new toy discovered. Some of my favorite things are the way Owen studies his hands, moving his thumbs between each of his fingers and how he barrels over everything, climbing pillow mountains and over his toy piano. I love the way Wyatt has started to look for and chase daphne around the room and watching sort through his toys, you can tell he truly is thinking through every action. I wonder if these things will continue to permeate as their personalities develop, will Wyatt always be the pensive one and Owen always be charging ahead?