Friday Favorites {10.20.17}

Happy happy Friday! It’s been quite a week in our house. I’m thankful that after this weekend, soccer and several other activities we have going on are over for awhile. I’m looking forward to having our evenings and Saturdays back for the holiday season!

As always I’m linking up with Erika, Narci and Andrea for Friday Favorites!

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We officially have two kids on two wheels! I love this sweet boy. He decided one night this week that he wanted to take the training wheels off his bike. I kind of dragged my heels on it because I love the freedom of being able to take all the kids out alone on walks/bike rides during the day. It’s hard to push a double stroller and help a child learn to ride on two wheels at the same time!

He really wanted to learn so we took them off expecting a slow and painful learning process like we experienced with our oldest. (He fell once while learning and then refused to get back on his bike for months.) But in typical Eli, he jumped on and learned in about 6 minutes. He fell a bunch of times but jumped up and hopped right back on. He is just fearless! I probably can learn a little something from him. 😉 Watching him learn so quickly and not get discouraged brought tears to my eyes. I just love his confidence and how proud he is of himself! Favorite thing about this week for sure.

 

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I love cooking with my kiddos and I especially love making fun, themed food with them. One of our very favorite fun, simple breakfasts in the fall are these baked pumpkin donuts. I’ve been making them forever so I can’t even remember where I originally found the ‘recipe’. There’s only two ingredients and they are SO easy!

I have my kids mix a yellow cake mix and a can of pumpkin together. I absolutey love these Wilton donut pans and use the two I have all the time. We put the pumpkin mixture in a baggie or icing bag and squeeze the batter into the donut pans. (Don’t skip this and try to use a spoon or it will take you a few years to finish!) I bake ours at 350 for 15 minutes or until the batter is set. We dump them out of the pans onto cooling racks after they have sat for about 5 minutes and dust some powdered sugar onto the top.

 

I’m a huge donut lover and while these aren’t as good as old school donut places, they are pretty darn tasty for a baked donut made at home. Try them! You will not be disappointed. My boys love to have these for breakfast during the week with some scrambled eggs!

 

We also made these ‘Mummy hotdogs‘ Friday night for dinner. I sliced up the dough but otherwise my older boys completely made these all my themselves. They had fun putting faces on their mummies with ketchup and mustard! A simple, fun Friday night dinner during the Halloween season!

 

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This week, I posted about the holiday traditions we keep with our kids. I loved seeing other people’s comments on what traditions they keep with their families! I loved that I wasn’t the only one who likes to watch all the Friends Thanksgiving episodes to get in the Turkey Day spirit. (I may have found my people. ;)) I was surprised at how many people paint pumpkins with their kids instead of carving them. That’s such a great idea! I think we might be trying that one out this year. Does your family have any fun holiday traditions? I’d love to hear about them in the comments!

 

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As I write this on Thursday, the Cubs are down 3 -1 in the playoffs against the Dodgers. I love baseball and the playoffs but what I really love is watching the playoffs with my husband! I feel like every couple has to have something in common that brings them together and helps them connect. For us, that’s sports! He’s my very favorite person to hang out with and we have had the best time watching our team this year!

Now anyone who knows me, knows that I bleed true Cubbie blue and never give up on my team. That being said, the Dodgers have proved that they are a tough team to beat and we have quite the uphill climb ahead of us! As you read this, it may be over for the Cubs this year – who knows. But either way, I’ve been loving all this extra time with my husband! He’s always my favorite. 😉

 

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Story time at the library is a brand new favorite thing for us! Last winter when my twins were just a year old, we went through phase after phase of teething, colds, sleep regressions, etc. and I barely left the house with them. It was awful and I thought I was going to go insane! I’m hoping and praying that this winter will be different and am already looking for inside activities to keep us busy!

 

They sang and danced to the music, adored their name tags (haha!) and made some new friends. I’m hoping that this winter will be much better than last year and we can get out and have some fun! Any mamas with tips on what to do in the wintertime with young kiddos, please give me some tips!

 

Those are my favorites this week. A lot of fun memories with my crew! I hope you have a wonderful weekend with yours!

 

 

Tuesday Talk – Holiday Traditions

Hi everyone! We made it through Monday!

This week instead of my usual Twin Tuesday, I’m linking up with Erika and Fancy Ashley for Tuesday Talk! I love Tuesday Talk because we can chat about anything and everything.

 

 

In July, we chatted about my favorite shows to binge watch with my husband

In August, I shared some random fun facts about myself.

And today, I’m chatting about holiday traditions. Maybe it’s because I’m the kind of person that likes to plan and hates change but there’s something about family traditions that make me feel all happy and cozy. Josh and I had very different traditions with our families growing up. After Caleb was born, we tried to keep the ones we loved and also create some new ones together. I hope that we can make traditions that create the same feelings for our children as they do for us. My momma heart hopes when they grow up, move away and someday have families of their own they will either continue some of these or come back and celebrate them with us!

Please comment and share with me some of your family traditions! We’d love to find new ones to add!

 

Thanksgiving

 

Thanksgiving is my very favorite holiday and always has been! I love gathering with our family and taking an extra moment to thank God and reflect on all our blessings. Plus, it’s a holiday mainly about food so obviously I’m all about that. 😉

A few years ago, we started a tradition with our 3 year old Caleb and baby Eli. At dinner each night, we write down something that we are each thankful for every day in November until Thanksgiving Day. I cut this silly little turkey out of construction paper that we have used every year and we write one thing for each of us every day on a feather. I hang the turkey in our main hallway so we can all see it and be reminded of it daily.

Here’s our turkey from 2016.

And our turkey from 2015. I know we had one for 2014, but can’t for anything find a picture of it. I love to look back on things we were thankful for in this season of life. (2015 is also known as the year our thankful turkey was slacking – because we had one month old twins.)

 

 

This is a silly tradition just for Josh and I but every year I insist on rewatching all the Friends Thanksgiving episodes during the week leading up to Thanksgiving. Those episodes are some of my very favorites and they just get me in the holiday mood!

Thanksgiving morning, Josh and I wake up pretty early, drink coffee together and I make pies to take to my parents later in the day. When the kids wake up, I usually make homemade cinnamon rolls or breakfast casserole and we hang out all morning watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. I love that time with my little family.

After we get back from my parents, we watch a Christmas movie together and let the kids stay up late. I usually do a little Black Friday shopping with my sister crazy early the next day and then we always put our Christmas tree up that evening. Since I love Thanksgiving so much, it’s a tradition in our family that we ‘respect the turkey’ and not get our Christmas decorations out until Friday. (I’ve caved on Christmas music though every year!) We spend all Friday afternoon and evening decorating and getting into the Christmas Spirit.

 

Christmas Traditions

 

Leading up to Christmas we do pretty typical family fun things. We see Santa, we drive around and look at Christmas lights as a family and try to jam pack in all the holiday family fun we can.

We always go to a local event with hundreds of beautifully decorated trees up for display. They have activities for kids, live music and a great parade with giant balloons. It’s freezing cold but so worth it! Especially because Santa brings up the end of the parade. 😉

We had a brand new tradition last year when we moved to our new house. One of our neighbors puts on a pretty spectacular Christmas lights show every evening that our kids LOVE to watch. We are constantly outside every night watching it. It’s one of our very favorite new traditions.

 

We get together with my family and have a Christmas cookie baking marathon day every year. The littlest child always gets to help make the thumb print cookies and I love seeing how that child has changed in photos over the years. It was my teenage cousin for so long, then Caleb, then Eli and now probably Reid and Luke and my niece.

On Christmas Eve, we go to Church and have lasagna afterward. Growing up my family had my mom’s famous lasagna for Christmas Eve dinner every year that I can remember. The first year that Josh came to Christmas with my family he told us that his family always had lasagna every year on Christmas Eve too! Literally the one tradition we share, so of course we had to continue it. 😉 I tried to use my mom’s recipe one year and it was just not the same. So now we go over to her house for dinner after Church instead. Haha!

When we get home on Christmas Eve, all our kids always spread ‘magic reindeer food’ all over our front walkway and yard. Our ‘magic reindeer food’ is oatmeal mixed with glitter that is a treat for the reindeer and guides them to our house. This is a fun tradition my mother-in-law started with Caleb his first Christmas and we have done it every year since!

 

Finally, we always make sure that all our Christmas celebrations are over by the 26th. We usually can’t celebrate with all of my family and Josh’s family on the 25th but plan to celebrate with them before Christmas instead. We have a Christmas season baby in our house so as of midnight on the 26th, our house turns into birthday zone and Christmas is over. I never, ever want Eli’s birthday to get lumped into our Christmas festivities so we keep this tradition in our house to make sure that doesn’t happen.

That’s it for our traditions. Now I want to hear yours! Comment with any holiday traditions you love to keep with your family!

Thanks for joining me for Tuesday Talk!

 

You can keep up with us on Instagram here!

 

Friday Favorites {10.13.17}

Happy Friday everyone!

We’ve had a great week but a busy one around here. In true Iowa fashion, we started the week off above 80 degrees blasting the air conditioning in the car after school pick up for my first grader who was “SOOO hot Mom”. Now, as I write this on Thursday the high is 60 and all my kids are freezing. I’m refusing to turn the heat on based on principal but I may be caving soon with a low of 54 tonight…

Anyway, it’s Friday and I’m pretty darn happy about it no matter what the temperature outside is. We have a lot of fun planned for this weekend including a Saturday full of rainy, chilly soccer games. I’m down for whatever as long as I’m with this crew of mine.

As always, I’m linking up with Erika, Narci and Andrea for Friday Favorites!

 

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Because I seriously cannot get enough of fall this year, we went to check out a new pumpkin patch last weekend. You know those ones where you pay way too much money just for admission and then all the extra fun stuff and food is added to that. We have generally avoided those because activities for our family of 6 adds up quickly! This year we thought our kids were the perfect age to try it out.

You guys. We really pumpkin patched HARD and had the best time! We stayed the entire day and did every activity at least once.

Now that Reid and Luke are 2, it’s like they are full blown kids. These two just ran around doing just about everything the older boys did.

Corn mazes are always my favorite so we saved it for last. Right as we were getting ready to buy tickets (for a bajillion dollars), someone told us that this corn maze was so big it usually took over an hour to get through. My tired kiddos were NOT having it. 😉  An excuse to go again!

 

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In my favorites post last week, I talked about genius meal planning/grocery tips that I got from other mommas. Taking their advice, I ordered groceries online for pick up on Friday from our local grocery store. It was seriously amazing. I drove home with a car full of kiddos and groceries and no grocery store meltdowns were had or packages of blueberries were thrown (I’m still not over it).

I caught a big sale on Honeycrisp apples which are my absolute FAVORITE this time of year. Look at the size of these apples they gave me! I swear I have a normal person sized hand, it’s the size of the apple that is making it look like a tiny toddler hand! I ordered 10 not knowing how huge they would be and we have been munching on them all week.

 

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Some people had a great high school experience and some not so much but I have been blessed with some of the very best life-long friends that I met in high school. These two girls were in town this weekend and we were able to meet for breakfast. They were two of my best friends in high school, bridesmaids in my wedding and two of the people that know me the best in the world. They are family to me and I just love them! In typical mom life, I had to run out of breakfast early to make it to one of my kiddos soccer games but I was so happy to get to spend some time with my favorites! There aren’t that many people in my life that know me as Amy and not as Amy, Josh’s wife or Caleb, Eli, Luke and Reid’s mom. It was some much needed girl time!

 

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Does anyone else have some serious Paw Patrol fans in their house? Eli used to be a huge fan of Paw Patrol a couple years ago and has now passed all his toys and books on to Reid and Luke who have taken over the obsession even though they have never actually seen the show. Haha! We got them these sweatshirts on a whim for their birthday and they love them! I tried to get a pictures of them with the sweatshirts on but I swear those two never stop moving. They are the cutest! We found Chase here and Rocky here.

 

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It seems like it’s the season of brand new adorable babies everywhere I look! After bringing our twins home, we were in serious survival mode and were so grateful to our friends and neighbors for showering us with meals. I love to repay the favor to new moms!

If you want to bring a meal but just don’t know what to make, check out my post on my favorite meals to bring to new moms! They are all easy to put together and great for even picky eaters. Whenever I bring one of these, I always make double and keep one for us too! 😉

 

I’m excited to read the rest of the favorites this week! I hope you all have the best weekend!

 

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10 Favorite Meals to Bring to New Moms

Inside: Want to bring a meal to a new mom but don’t know what to bring? This post has you covered. Read on to find 10 easy, delicious and satisfying meal ideas that new parents and older siblings will love!

 

Happy Tuesday everyone! We survived Monday so already the week is looking up. 😉

 

 

This week’s Twin Tuesday is a collection of some of my favorite meals to bring to new moms. After our twins were born, we were so grateful to our neighbors and friends who showered us with meals the first couple of weeks we were home from the hospital. I really don’t know what I would have done without them, I was barely holding it together with two newborns just back from the NICU.

Josh and I could have survived on take out and cold cereal but our older boys needed the stability of warm, family dinners when everything else was crazy. (I mentioned this and other tips in my post on how to help your older kids transition to life with two brand new babies.) Knowing how much of a comfort it was to us to not have to worry about dinner, I love to bring meals to friends who have just had babies.

 

 

I’ve put together a list of 10 of my favorite meals to bring to new moms. They are all easy to put together and delicious, so you won’t go wrong with any of these choices!

 

A couple extra tips I learned from being on the other side:

  1. Bring your meal in a disposable foil container. It’s easy to reheat in the same container AND that exhausted new mama does not have to worry about washing and returning your container.
  2. Bring an easy and fresh side to go with the main dish. When we were running back and forth to the NICU and finally when both our babies got home, I truly had not even seen a fruit or vegetable in weeks. It sounds terrible, but our lives were in total chaos so we lived off hospital food and granola bars in true survival mode. A couple of our sweet neighbors brought over meals with bagged salad, carrots and dip and a fruit salad. I swear, those fresh fruits and veggies were a complete lifesaver for us and our older kids.
  3. If your meal needs condiments, bring it with just in case they don’t have it!
  4. Make something that can be easily be stuck in the freezer and reheated if they have a full fridge or dinner plans.
  5. Do NOT try to stay or get in to see those babies (or baby). I was so,so grateful for meals that people brought but I have to say that people that also wanted to come in to see my babies that had just gotten home from the NICU (while I was nursing and trying to hold everything together) was so stressful. Drop off your meal, offer congratulations and mention that you would love to come visit once things have settled down.

 

Click the link or photo below to find each of the delicious recipes!

 

1.) This Easy Taco Casserole from Eating on a Dime is a huge hit in our family. Whenever I make this to take to someone, I always make one for our family too! I usually bring a bag of tortilla chips and a small jar of salsa with this one.

 

2) I’ve made these Chicken Parmesan Sliders from Homemade Interest several times and have always had a great response. Plus, this is seriously the easiest recipe listed here! Assemble in a foil container, bake and deliver!

 

3) Another family favorite of ours, this Lazy Girl’s Ravioli Lasagna from Iowa Girl Eats is easy to put together and looks like you did way more work than you actually did!

 

4) I’ve already raved about this one but this Slow Cooker Mac and Cheese from Brown Eyed Baker is the ultimate comfort food to bring to a new mom. Who doesn’t love a steaming pan of Mac and Cheese? Any older siblings would love this choice too!

 

5) Chicken Spaghetti is one of my go-to meals to make because this delicious recipe from Lauren’s Latest can be made in the crock pot! I usually cook it all day in the crock pot and then right before I leave to deliver it, I add in the cooked pasta and dump it into a foil pan. Easy!

 

 

6) Soup is another great choice! I love bringing soup in the cooler months with a side of rolls. Chili and potato are some of my favorites to bring because they are so filling!

 

 

7) Spaghetti Pie from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe. This one is a bit more work than some of the others, so when I bring this one I always make a double batch so we can have it for dinner too. It’s my oldest son’s favorite!

 

 

8) Barbequed chicken or pork with buns is an easy cook in the crock pot all day meal to bring. There are so many good recipes out there but I’m partial to this one from Mix and Match Mama. It never fails!

 

 

9) I feel like anything with tator tots is ultimate comfort food. This Taco Tater Tot Casserole from Spend With Pennies is a classic favorite and perfect to bring in a 9 x 13 foil pan!

 

 

10) Finally, meatballs and sauce for meatball subs (paired with mozzarella cheese and buns) or a pan of sloppy joe meat (and buns) with a fresh side is a perfect and easy meal to pack up and bring!

 

 

Any of these choices are a delicious and satisfying meal that takes at least one thing off a new moms to-do list in those first weeks of sleep-deprived overwhelm. Don’t forget to pin this post for the next time someone you know has a baby!

 

Friday Favorites {10.6.17}

Hey Friday. I’ve been waiting for you to get here! We had a great week and it seems to be finally feeling like fall around here! All the kids rooms are a giant mess because I got out all the fall clothes (Hello! It’s October!) and then we had to pull all our summer clothes back out. I’m ready to finally pack them all away!

Today I’m linking up with Erika, Narci and Andrea for Friday Favorites!

 

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At my mom’s group meeting this week, the topic was meal planning tips and tricks. Let me tell you. Some of these ladies have it figured out! I’ve always been a meal planner but lately with how crazy things have been, it’s become a chore I dread. I cannot seem to find a time of the week to consistently go to the grocery store and end up there during the weekend when I would much rather be home with my crew. I somehow always am running to several stores most weeks because I try to get everything for the best quality at the best price. I have started to loathe shopping for groceries.

 

A couple other mommas shared that they meal plan for roughly an entire month at a time (I usually only do a week at a time). Once a month, they shop for all the non-perishable items and pantry staples for meals for the entire month at one or two stores. The weeks in between they place smaller orders of fresh produce and perishables for pick-up or delivery at our local store and never have to worry about fitting in when to grocery shop on those weeks. They catch meat sales as they come up, buy a ton for the month, portion it out and freeze it. Oh and the best part is, only once a week (if that) do they have to bring their kids grocery shopping.

Seriously. Life changing advice for me. Today’s only the 6th of October so you better believe I’m going to attempt this for the rest of the month.

 

We all brought go-to recipes to share and this one was mine – Crockpot Enchilada Quinoa from Moms with Crockpots. It’s the perfect dump and go slow cooker meal when we have a busy night ahead. We top ours with cheese,chopped green onions and sour cream. It’s really good!

P.S. Anybody have any tricks for taking two year old twins to the store with me? We had a blueberry catastrophe one day and I am a little traumatized to try again…

 

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This week, I blogged my last post for my Twin Birthday Series- a recap of our train themed second birthday party. My twins are obsessed with trains right now and walked around the party constantly saying “Choo Choo!” We had so much fun! With my older boys, the second birthday party is the last time I got to choose the theme so I definitely took advantage and chose something easy and fun!

In case you missed it, here’s the rest of my Twin Birthday Series.

Week 1: Best Twin Birthday Party Themes

Week 2: How to celebrate birthdays for two!

Week 3: Two year old Gift Guide

Week 4: Two year old Update

Week 5: Train Theme Second Birthday Party!

 

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I’ve always been an Iced Pumpkin Spiced Latte girl in the fall. I’ve tried the Salted Caramel Mocha and it’s not really my thing. BUT this week I tried their new Maple Pecan Latte and I think it’s almost better than the Pumpkin Spice. I don’t even know what possessed me to try it because I’m not a big maple or a big pecan fan but it doesn’t even matter. It’s delicious. If you haven’t tried it, you really should.

 

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Reid and Luke have recently developed a love of Daniel Tiger. They love playing with small toys that they can take places (Church, soccer games, in the car, etc) in their tiny toddler backpacks so got them this set of the Tiger family. They are completely smitten. Luke carries Baby Margaret and Tigey with him everywhere in his pocket. When he goes to bed they sit on his dresser and they are the first thing he grabs in the morning. #Momwin

 

 

We also got them this Daniel Tiger Family book which was the perfect companion.

 

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I shared a little piece of my heart this week when I wrote about parenting my sweet middle child. We all have a child who we butt heads with more than others and I struggled for a long time to try to figure out how to be the mother that all my children needed.

Hardly ever do we get to really see God’s whole plan for us or can even attempt to understand it. He knew what our family needed when we didn’t and I think Eli was the one I most NEEDED. For me to become the mother He knew I could be. Each of my four children need different things from me and I learn different things from each of them. But my beautiful, strong willed, sweet, ‘most difficult’ child? Eli has taught me the most.

If any of you out there have similar struggles, I hope you will read and learn something from my experience that can help you with yours.

 

That wraps up my favorites this week! We have a weekend full of soccer and fall festivities ahead of us. I’m excited to hang out with my favorite people non-stop! 😉

 

Hope you have the very best weekend!

 

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How my strong willed child changed everything I thought I knew about motherhood

I’m sharing a big piece of my heart today that I hope many mommas can relate to.

From the moment we found out we were expecting our sweet second child, Eli has turned what I thought I knew about motherhood completely upside down. We found out I was pregnant with Eli when first baby was just over a year old. Right when things were starting to get a little easier and I felt like I had my life under control again. 😉 While Caleb was born two weeks early, Eli arrived in his own time. Three days after his due date, two days after Christmas. My doctor was so sure that he would be early, that I bought him Christmas outfits that were never worn.  I didn’t know it then, but that initial stubborn streak was our first clue to what our sweet boy had in store for us.

When I worried about loving a second child the way I loved my first, Eli changed that the moment I laid eyes on him. When I worried about balancing a career and two very young children at home, my maternity leave with Eli brought me such immense joy that I knew my career had taken a backseat and for the first time, I was perfectly okay with that. When I worried about how Caleb would feel about another tiny human coming into our family, Eli made it impossible for us all not to completely fall in love with him and forget what life was like before.

 

My sweet go with the flow baby, slowly grew into a very opinionated, affectionate, and strong-willed toddler. Eli showed us (and our pediatrician) that he absolutely could meet milestones at the traditional times, however he wouldn’t until he decided he was ready to.

I attempted to parent my second child the same way that I parented my first. I struggled to find a way to encourage him to do things like I thought he should. I heard so much talk about a ‘strong willed child’ but assured myself that was not what we were dealing with. That term sounded so negative and my sweet boy was anything but. At some point I reached such a level of frustration that I wasn’t getting through to him that I read article after article about how to parent a ‘strong willed child’. I thought about him and worried about him all the time.

 

At a Church picnic one day, I was talking to a fellow mama of four born close together and we were commiserating over our ‘difficult child’. The one we struggle with and stay up late at night worrying about. She said that she thought she and her child butted heads often because they are so much alike. I realized then that I think the reason I struggle sometimes with being the mother Eli needs is because we are so different. Caleb and I are so much the same that I understand his feelings, his disappointments and what he needs from me. Eli thinks and feels differently than I do and I don’t innately know how to relate to him.

He’s stubborn like his Daddy. He is enthusiastic about everything and finds great joy in the tiny things. He loves SO fiercely. He is so independent that he scares me and I think his biggest wish in the world is that he would wake up tomorrow the same age as his older brother. He acts and speaks without thinking and goes a million miles an hour at all times. He’s joyful and loud and leaves a trail of toys and goldfish wherever he goes. He jumps into new things without a second thought or worry about the unknown. In other words, he is NOTHING like me.

 

 

I finally realized (in an Oprah-type lightbulb moment) that it wasn’t him that needed to change – it was me. He’s not only nothing like me, he is nothing like his big brother. He’s uniquely Eli. As it should be! From that moment on, I tried to try to be the mother that Eli needed and I stepped back and let him be who he is. And you know what? I don’t think it changed him but it absolutely changed me.

Eli has taught me to to let go. That’s it’s okay to lose control in every sense of the phrase – from dancing crazy in the kitchen after dinner and letting those dirty dishes sit to not needing to micromanage every piece of our lives. That you need to pick your battles and trust God that you are picking the right ones to let slide and the right ones to fight. That life doesn’t need to be so serious and moments of pure unfiltered joy should be experienced daily. That sometimes you just need to jump and experience and enjoy – and not think so darn much about it all the time.

 

 

It took me awhile to realize that my job as his mother wasn’t to try to change him to fit the mold. Yes there are things I have to put my foot down on. We have to wear pants when we leave the house (we just do!), his feet can in fact walk and not run at times, there are times we can be loud and crazy and there are times we need to slow down and listen, AND one cannot sustain themselves on goldfish and blueberries alone. My job as his mother is to encourage and nurture and accept the parts that don’t fit the mold. And I started to be excited that he doesn’t fit, because that is Eli. The things he will do in his life will be amazing and THAT is something I’m sure of.

I will always love him unconditionally but I’m also learning to love him for who he is right now not who I think he should be. He has the biggest smile that lights up his whole face. He is the first one (and sometimes only one) of my children to notice when I’ve done my hair or put on a real shirt and makes sure to tell me I’m beautiful every. single. time. He is full of such joy that his enthusiasm can break through your hardest day.

 

 

Hardly ever do we get to really see God’s whole plan for us or can even attempt to understand it. He knew what our family needed when we didn’t and I think Eli was the one I most NEEDED. For me to become the mother He knew I could be. Each of my four children need different things from me and I learn different things from each of them. But my beautiful, strong willed, sweet, ‘most difficult’ child? Eli has taught me the most.

What has been the most valuable lesson that your children have taught you?

 

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Train Second Birthday Party- Twin Tuesday

(This post contains some affiliate links. Click here to see my full disclosure.)

 

This Twin Tuesday is the final week of my Twin Birthday Series! (Check out weeks 1, 2, 3, and 4.)

 

Last weekend, we celebrated Reid and Luke turning TWO with a train themed second birthday party.  We had to have their party on a Sunday morning after Church because of the older boy’s sports schedules the rest of the weekend. Josh and I were laughing a little because that’s kind of the story of your life when you are the third and fourth child. You just go with the flow. 😉 They get some awesome big brothers out of the deal though so they are pretty okay with this arrangement.

 

 

The boys have recently become obsessed with all things trains so we thought that would be the perfect theme for their birthday! I designed the party invitation in Photoshop using Kevin and Amanda’s adorable font Teacher’s Pet. I purchased this train graphic set from Vivera Design on Etsy and used it on the invitation and throughout the party.

 

 

I designed a couple signs to hang over the dessert table in Photoshop (but you could do something similar in PicMonkey or another free program). I uploaded them to Walgreens and had them printed side by side on their 2 x 8 banner. I found a real departure sign and copied the aesthetic with basic shapes. And filled in some themed trains/destinations of course. I love how it came out!

 

 

Usually, I focus a lot on the food for my kids parties. I know people take time out of their day (and some travel!) to come and celebrate so I absolutely want them to leave with a full belly. Given that this was on a Sunday morning this time though, I decided to focus my energy more on desserts. The older boys helped me make caramel apples the night before. We drizzled some with white and milk chocolate and left some plain for the caramel apple purists. I bought a bunch of apple cinnamon churros and put them in these popcorn bags (that I cut in half so they were a more manageable portion) from Amazon.

We decided to serve a lunch of Reid and Luke’s favorite things. I made this slow cooker mac and cheese which was perfect and easy for a crowd. We had fruit, a veggie tray and chips and dip. All favorites for our brand new two year olds.

 

 

I made blue and red frosted cupcakes for the guests and these cakes for our birthday boys. A separate cake for each of them of course! I followed this infographic on how to make the numbers from a two 8 inch rounds and an 8 inch square cake. I frosted them completely with white buttercream, laid broken up Hersey bars face down in the shape of a railroad track and piped on the black frosting to finish the track. I added a little bit of grass with green buttercream and my favorite grass icing tip. I found these mini trains on Amazon to set on top which were a huge hit with the birthday boys.

 

 

All the banners from the party I made at home with cardstock from Hobby Lobby. I’ve had some letter stencils that I bought years ago from Hobby Lobby that I continue to use for all their birthday banners. I cut out the cardstock with my paper cutter – I’ve had this one for almost 10 YEARS and absolutely love it. I think I’ve had to replace the blade only once. I used a foam roller with white paint over the stencil, let them dry, punched holes in them with this small rectangle punch and strung them up. (I love using that size punch to string banners. I think it looks cuter than the standard circle hole punch and the string almost completely covers the small holes.) Super easy and quick!

For the train cars, I also punched out one inch circles with this punch to glue on for wheels. The engines were from the Etsy graphic set I mentioned earlier that I blew up and cut out of cardstock.

 

I made these silly little railroad crossing signs out of posterboard, paper plates and a wooden dowel. We didn’t count on the wind that day so they took sort of a beating but they were a fun touch! Josh went to down with some colored duct tape he had for a little train crossing on the front sidewalk. I thought he did such a good job- it was so cute!

These little guys had the best day. I may or may not have had to bribe them with a cupcake to put on their hats and take a picture before guests arrived. I’m pretty sure it was worth it. 😉

I made Reid and Luke’s birthday shirts by designing the graphic in Photoshop, printing on this iron-on paper and ironing onto $3 shirts from Hobby Lobby. Engineer hats are found here from Amazon and bandanas were .99 at Hobby Lobby. (With those prices, I obviously had to get one for everyone.)

 

Our third second birthday party is in the books! I loved the train theme because no characters were involved! What are some of your favorite birthday party themes for your kiddos? Be sure to pin these ideas for your next party!

 

Twin Birthday Series

Week 1: The best twin birthday party themes

Week 2: How to celebrate twin birthdays

Week 3: Two year old gift guide

Week 4: Two year old update

 

 

Friday Favorites {9.22.17}

Hey Friday. It’s about time you got here. Plus, it’s not just any Friday. It’s the first day of fall! Which means there is officially no reason for side-eyes from my husband for having our pumpkins out already.

Today, I’m linking up with Erika, Narci and Andrea for Friday Favorites!

 

 

one

 

 

My new fall candles are absolutely a FAVORITE. I have Autumn Wreath, Apple Spice and Spiced Pumpkin. They are all amazing but Autumn Wreath is my hands down favorite.

 

 

My husband finished our fireplace remodel last weekend just in time for me to fill the new mantle with fall decor. The weather here in Iowa is in the 90’s this week but looking at all our pumpkins makes me feel all sorts of cozy! (This fall print and a bunch of others are available for instant digital download in my Etsy shop!)

For more fall love, check out my Celebrate Fall post.I joined a group of sweet bloggers to bring you the best fall recipes, decor, ideas for family fun and more!

 

two

We spent last Sunday celebrating our sweet boys that turn TWO tomorrow. We had a train themed party fit for two and they had such a great time. My party recap coming next week is the final part in my twin birthday series. This week, I posted a two year old update and shared pictures of our FAVORITE sweet birthday boys.

 

For the rest of my twin birthday series:

Week 3: The Best Gift Guide for Two-Year-Olds

Week 2: How to make birthdays special for twins

Week 1: Twin Birthday Party Themes

 

three

 

 

For our second birthday spectacular last weekend, Josh and I decided to serve Luke and Reid’s favorite things. So we had mac and cheese, hot dogs, grapes and lots of desserts. 😉 I found this recipe for Mac and Cheese in the crock pot by Brown Eyed Baker and it was AMAZING. It tasted like total restaurant quality. I cooked the pasta early in the morning and mixed up everything in two crock pots before we left for Church. When we got back, everything was warm, gooey and ready for guests! It was the easiest party food prep I’ve ever done. (Easy party prep? FAVORITE!)

 

four

 

 

We are so into the fight for post season baseball! As of Thursday when I write this, the Cubs magic number is at 8 (the number of Cubs wins or Brewers losses to get into the postseason). With only 10 games left after today and a big series with the Brewers this weekend, it’s getting down to the wire. So suspenseful and SO exciting to watch! Watching my team fight to play October baseball is always a FAVORITE. (Image via CSN Chicago)

 

five

 

 

Has anyone watched Food Network’s The Great Food Truck Race? Josh and I used to watch it years ago and we just started catching up with the season that is currently airing on the Food Network App. The seasons are short (usually only 5 or 6 episodes) but it is so addicting! A bunch of 3 person teams run different genres of food trucks and travel around the country competing to see who can make the most money. Like a typical reality show, there are random challenges they have to participate in and curve balls thrown along the way. We are loving it! Anything I can cuddle up with at night to watch with my husband that we both enjoy is a FAVORITE in my book.

 

Okay… that’s it for this week! I hope you all have the very best weekend. When I see you again… we will have two TWO year olds!

 

Keep up with us on Instagram here!

 

Twin Tuesday – Two Year Update

Happy Twin Tuesday everyone! It’s week 4 of my twin birthday series (you can check out week 1, week 2 and week 3!) and today I’m sharing a 2 year update of our sweet boys.They turn two in just a few days!

 

 

I can NOT believe it’s their birthday already and yet their 18 month update seems so long ago! Reading it again, I can’t believe how much they have changed.

Just in time for their birthday, Luke gave us a scare last week when he woke up in the middle of the night barely able to breathe. As a mom of four, I’m not easily concerned anymore but this was absolutely terrifying. He woke up screaming and gasping and we could not get him to inhale without shaking him to try. He was completely out of it and really struggling for air. We had to call an ambulance and spent several hours in the ER.

 

 

They diagnosed him with a sudden onset of croup and gave him steroids and a breathing treatment which helped him almost immediately. He had zero symptoms of a virus or cold before he went to sleep so croup did not even occur to me. It was one of the scariest moments of my motherhood and even just talking about it makes me shudder. We thank God for the wonderful paramedics, nurses and doctors who helped him and calmed my worried mama heart.

 

In less scary news, here are a few fun little facts about Luke or Reid or both as they turn TWO!

  • They really are the very best of friends. They play together from morning until night and wake each other up with jumping and smiles in the morning. It’s common for us to hear them playing and talking to each other during nap time or when they are supposed to be sleeping at night. 😉

 

 

  • Up until a month or so ago, they weren’t talking very much but just recently their language has really picked up. They say all sorts of words and try to repeat the things we say. I took them to the Church nursery with me the other day and one of the ladies asked what their names were. They both looked at her and said “Reid!”. It was hysterical.

 

 

  • These two are always on the move. They dance whenever they hear music anywhere, even at Church. I’m not even sure they remember what walking is because they insist on running EVERYWHERE. And let me tell you, these two run (AND dance!) with their entire bodies.

 

 

  • The days of them eating anything I put in front of them are apparently behind us. They have become so picky lately which I hope is just a phase that we will move past. We already have enough healthy food battles with our four year old for a lifetime.

 

 

  • I absolutely love that as they are getting older, we are starting to see their individual personalities more and more. Luke is pretty dramatic, always loud, independent, SO funny and has quite the sweet but fiesty side of him we are just getting to see. 😉 Reid is quiet, thoughtful, oh so very, very sweet, emotional, and loves to hug and cuddle.

 

 

  • Reid wakes up everyday with a smile. I will sneak into his room to wake him up in the morning or after nap and even if his eyes are still closed, he smiles when he hears me talking. I LOVE it. It’s just the sweetest thing.

 

 

  • Luke so desperately want to be just like his big brothers. He wants to play with their toys and do what they are doing all the time. Whenever Caleb and Eli run off to play something new, they always have a “Me! Me!” following right behind them. 😉

 

I always get emotional around my kid’s birthdays because these days are so special to me too! I have been extra emotional with Reid and Luke’s day  because I feel so incredibly blessed that God chose us to have these two beautiful babies. We have double the blessings and I will never let myself forget that.

 

 

Happy Birthday sweet boys. You have taught me so much about being a mother and also helped me find strength, patience and true, unconditional love that I didn’t know I was capable of. You, my loves, are two of the five best things in my life.

 

 

 

Next week, it’s the last week of my twin birthday series. I’m recapping our ‘Chugga Chugga Two Two’ second birthday party. You don’t want to miss it!

 

Twin Birthday Series

Week 1: Twin birthday party theme ideas

Week 2: How to make twins feel special and unique on their shared birthday

Week 3: Two year old gift guide

 

 

 

Let’s Celebrate Fall – Recipes, Decor, Family Fun and More!

 

I don’t care what the calendar says, it’s officially fall in our house! My pumpkin candles are lit, we have already hit up the apple orchard and I’m searching out all the pumpkin spice in the stores. (And I’m excited to see what crazy stuff they’ve come up with this year!)

 

 

Today, I’m joining with some sweet bloggers to bring you a list that’s full of all the fall you’ve been looking for. Read on for some of the best recipes, ideas for fall family fun, decor, fall crafts and more!

 

Fall Recipes

  1. DIY Healthy Pumpkin Spice Coffee Creamer – Amanda Middleton
  2. A Healthier Apple Crisp Recipe – Just A Simple Home
  3. Apple Cinnamon Protein Pancakes  Just A Simple Home
  4. How to Make Caramel Apple Cider – Leggings and Lattes
  5. Pumpkin Pie Recipe – Buckets of Tea
  6. Hot Mulled Apple Cider Sangria in Crock Pot – A Sprinkle of Joy
  7. Quick & Easy Apple Cider Three Ways – Creating A Great Day
  8. Frosted Maple Cookies – Money Savvy Living
  9. Apple Harvest Muffins – Just A Simple Home

 

Fall Family Fun Ideas

 

  1. How to Feed Your Fall Apple Addiction – A Mama Tale
  2. 5 Summer Activities You Should Be Doing in the Fall  – Put the Kettle On
  3. Family Friendly Fun Fall Activities – Fashion Ave Mom
  4. 50 Idea to Make This Your Best Fall Ever – Sharing My Favorites
  5. For Everything There is a Season – Bible Journaling  – Creating a Great Day
  6. How to Have a Fun & Free Fall with Your Family – Lovely Little Lives
  7. How to Plan a Spirited Football party (On a Budget) – Lovely Little Lives

 

Fall Fashion

How to dress in fall fashion while living in warming locations – She Lives Vintage

 

Fall Crafts

  1. DIY: Fall Crafts for Kids –  Our Swiss Experience
  2. Fall Digi-Leaves  – The Imperfect Homeschooler

 

Fall Decor

1. 3 Home Decor Pieces That Bring Fall Into Your Home – Back to the South

2. DIY Preppy Pumpkins – Happy Family Blog

3. DIY Fall Hoop Wreath – Scenes from Cedar Street

 

And of course. All these beautiful fall decor designs (and more!) are available for immediate download in my Etsy shop for only $5!

 

Time to get your fall on everyone!

 

Keep up with us on Instagram here.