Top 10 Best Books for Children

This post contains affiliate links. Click here to see my full disclosure statement.

 

One of my favorite things growing up was going to the library every week with my Mom during our summer breaks. I absolutely loved to read when I was younger (and still do- if I could just find the time to do more of it!). Some of my favorite memories are even tied to books I was reading at the time. My older kiddos love to read together and I hope to foster that love of reading with them like I had.

 

 

My mom is a teacher and firmly believes that gifts for birthdays or Christmas should be accompanied by a book. We have quite the collection going in our house and I thought I would share some of our very favorites. I love a book that starts a conversation or teaches them something in a way I wouldn’t think to do. Almost all these books do just that. This list is perfect for children that are preschool and kindergarten aged (3-6+).

 

I Know a Wee Piggy

The story is about a mischievous pig making a serious mess running through different colored things at a fair. The illustrations in this one are wonderful! It’s written in a very catchy repeating rhyme that my kids love to join in saying. This book has been a favorite of ours for years and it’s perfect for this age range. It’s funny because they have loved it for different reasons at different times. When they were three or four, they loved to shout out the color in the rhyme that the pig would run through. Now that our oldest is 6 he likes to jump in and read all the words he can.

 

 

How to Babysit a Grandpa

One of our boys favorite things in the world is their Grandpa so this book was a obvious gift for them. It was wonderful for us because it tells a really funny story of a boy’s day spent ‘taking care’ of his Grandpa while his parents are away. However, it also subtly addresses the child’s fears about being away from his parents. They do fun things together and eat awesome snacks (ice cream topped with cookies and cookies topped with ice cream- my kind of snacks!). Then the worst part happens- his parents return and he has to say goodbye. My grandpa was also one of my very favorite people and this book reminds me of the grandpa-only fun we had together! If you like this one, check out How to Babysit a Grandma. That one is a favorite of ours too!

 

 

Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons

We are big Pete the Cat fans but this particular book especially. Poor Pete keeps losing buttons on his coat until he doesn’t have anything left but his belly button! I love this book because every time he loses a button they say “Does Pete cry? Goodness no! Buttons come and buttons go!” Our Eli is famous for making a huge sobbing deal out of something pretty small. This book has been perfect for us to try to encourage him not to fall apart every time something small goes wrong. We say “Do we cry? Goodness no!” πŸ˜‰ Plus, there are videos on Youtube to go along with Pete the Cat books that we love too!

 

 

Billy Bully

This book has been wonderful for us to continue talking about kindness towards others. Poor Billy starts the story with 10 friends, but cuts in line, hogs toys and pushes people to slowly count down to zero friends! He realizes the error of his ways and begins to share and think of others until he can count all his friends back. It has sparked many conversations about kind behavior to friends at school and how our actions affect others. Plus, our boys love to count friends on each page!

 

 

My No, No, No Day

This one is about a little girl pretty much having her worst day ever. Her peas are “TOO HOT!” and her bath is “TOO COLD!”. Even her toothpaste is “TOO MINTY!” As a parent I find this book hysterical because we have all been there with our kids. Seeing the behavior from a different perspective has been great for our boys. We all have bad days, this book won’t change that but it gives us an opportunity to talk about how to handle our emotions when we are super upset. The book ends with her mom telling her that everyone has bad days like that and tomorrow will be better. Love this!

 

 

Dragons Love Tacos

This one is just total fun. There’s no lesson in this book (except maybe that dragons shouldn’t eat super spicy salsa) but it’s a favorite of ours nonetheless. The pictures are great and for some reason my boys just think it is incredibly hysterical that those dragons love tacos so much. It’s a bestseller so clearly, that must be a popular opinion. Whenever we get out the salsa for taco night, Caleb has taken to ask us “is that super spicy jalapeno salsa that dragons don’t like?”

 

 

Mr. Duck Means Business

Our kids love this one for the beautiful pictures of the animals and the silly words but I love it for the lessons. Mr. Duck loves being alone in his pond all day to do his own thing how he likes it. When his pond is invaded by other animals, he freaks out and makes them all leave after throwing a giant fit. Later in the story, Mr. Duck realizes that life is more fun with friends and compromises his quiet pond for a fun hangout two hours of every day. This book has helped us talk more about compromise, sharing and not losing our cool like Mr. Duck when someone suggests another way to play with something! Obviously that never happens in a house full of boys. Haha!

 

 

The Day the Crayons Quit

This is my favorite pick to read aloud to them because the story is hilarious. Each crayon that belongs to the little boy in the story, writes him a letter with their grievances. One is exhausted for being used too much, one is sad they are only used for outlines, one is embarrassed that his wrapping was torn off and he’s naked and a couple crayons are fighting over which one is the true color of the sun. I would imagine that our kids are still too young to catch all the jokes but they still think this book is hilarious. I can’t promise this one has a lot of life lessons but it sure has the laughs to make up for it. πŸ˜‰Β  And if you like this one, definitely check out The Day the Crayons Came Home. That one is a favorite too!

 

 

The Kissing Hand

I’m sure you have heard of this one because it’s crazy popular but I still had to put it on here as one of our very favorites. This book has helped us through the nerves of starting different school years and a new school. The sweet story of a momma racoon and her baby explains how a kiss from mom on a child’s palm will stay with them wherever they go throughout the day. It doesn’t go away until they are back together again (and a kiss from child to momma too!). It was a sweet tradition we did every morning last year and I’m hoping that my first grader isn’t going to be ‘too old’ for it this year! This one is a bestseller for a reason! Love it!

 

 

Families

I could talk about this book forever. It is made up of pictures of real life families of all different kinds with colorful words that talk about how amazing and wonderful having a family is. They show big families, small families, families whose children look like their parents and those who look different, families with grandparents, single parent families, adoptive families and everything in between. We first found this one at the library and my boys asked so many amazing questions that I had never thought of. I just loved this book so much!

 

That’s our top ten favorites. I hope you love them as much as we do. What great children’s books are we missing? Are any of these a favorite in your family too?

Happy reading!

 

For my favorite children’s books about twins, click here!

Find me on instagram here.

 

 

Tuesday Talk – Now You Really Know Me

 

Today I’m linking up with Erika and Ashley for Tuesday Talk! I love Tuesday Talk because anything and everything goes. Last month, I talked about my favorite shows to binge watch as a couple and this month I decided to have a little bit of fun. I have some new readers lately so I thought I would share some random facts about me. Join me in the comments and share something random about yourself! These kind of posts are always some of my favorites to read!

  • I have never, never (not ever) met a donut I didn’t like. I’m not really a fan of coconut things or nuts but when you put them on a donut, I’m totally down for that. πŸ˜‰ When I was in grade school and we were allowed to bring a birthday treat to school for the class, I always brought donuts. Every year. We have an old fashioned donut place in our city that makes the very, very best and that’s all I ever want for my birthday/Mother’s Day.

 

 

  • I’m a terrible public speaker because it gives me such crazy anxiety that I shake like a leaf. My high school speech class was one of the most stressful experiences in my life and I tried everything to get out of taking it in college even though it was required of all freshmen. I love the fact that THAT class was where I met my husband. We were partnered together by the professor on a group speaking project and I found myself drawn to him partially because he is kind and amazing and partially because he can speak confidently in front of anyone and rocked our project for the both of us.

 

  • I am a crazy huge Friends fan and speak in show quotes whenever I can. I became friends with someone who would later become my life-long bestie and maid of honor because of our mutual love of the show. Our freshmen year of college we stayed past finals in our dorm rooms so we could watch the series finale together and eat pizza. One of my favorite memories to date.

 

 

  • Speaking of Friends, (fellow fans will understand this) I have this terrible habit of ‘Chandlering’ (as we have come call it) when I am in social situations that make me uncomfortable. It’s this horrible compulsion to make repeated bad jokes to ease the awkwardness for myself. “Hi. I’m Chandler and I make jokes when I’m uncomfortable.” Totally me.

 

  • I have a degree in Biochemistry and worked in that field for 9 years before I quit my job to stay home after my twins were born.

 

  • You know that we have twins. But my husband is a twin and his twin brother also just had twins. That part is weird and cool but the really weird part is that all three sets of twins are fraternal not identical. Identical twins can run in families on the either side but fraternal twins run in families only on the female side (because hyperovulation can be an inherited trait you receive from your mother). How this all even happened fascinates the science side of me.

 

 

  • If you asked me when I was 7 what my dream job was I would have said a cheerleader. πŸ˜‰ If you asked me at 19 I would have said a doctor. At 27 I would have said a stay at home mom and now I would probably say an author.

 

  • Ever since I was little, my leg would hurt before it rained or snowed. My grandma used to have the same thing happen in her thigh and my dad in his knee.

 

  • I had four jobs at one time in college. I worked in admissions at a hospital, at a nursing home as a nurse assistant, a lifeguard and at a summer camp.

 

  • I worked at Subway in high school but now hate to eat there because no one knows how to make my sandwiches as good as I did.

 

  • Before I met my husband, I hated avocados, beans and steak and he has somehow gotten me to like them all. (Only black beans though.. I can’t even think about the others.)

 

Join me! Comment with a random fun fact about yourself!

Hope you have a happy Tuesday!

 

Follow me on Instagram here.

 

Friday Favorites – {8.11.17}

Happy, happy Friday!!! What. A. Week. As of today, we have less than two weeks until school starts and I’m trying to get pumped up. I’m seriously considering quietly whispering “pumpkins… football… pumpkin spice lattes… scarves” on repeat to myself as I’m navigating the school supply aisle this weekend to get our last list of stuff. Totally normal.

 

 

Linking up with Erika, Narci and Andrea today for Friday Favorites!

 

one

 

 

On this week’s Workin’ It Wednesday post I shared some back to school tips that work for our family. My FAVORITE of course is our dry erase family calendar we have hanging in our kitchen. It’s the only thing that helps me keep it together especially during the school year. I sell them as digital files in my brand new Etsy shop and if you use code OPENING20 you get 20% off your order until this Sunday. PLUS, Walgreens is having a printing sale until tomorrow giving 40% off poster sized prints.

 

This shop has been a goal of mine for awhile but as any mommas of littles know, it takes awhile to find time to do something for yourself! So if you feel so inclined, visit my shop and favorite it to show me a little love.

 

two

 

 

This is a huge FAVORITE. So, so proud of this one. On advice from Caleb’s eye doctor, he wore an eye patch over one of his eyes every minute he was awake for the first month of summer and part-time every day after that (and this was after wearing it for 4 hours a day since December). Apparently poor vision can be improved until 8 years of age and one of his eyes doesn’t see as good as the other. They said that by patching his ‘good eye’, we can strengthen his ‘bad eye’ and improve his vision enough that he may not need glasses anymore.

 

 

It SUCKED but he was such a trooper. He wore his patch in the pool, on bike rides and while it has been sweaty hot with hardly any complaining. (I was probably complaining more than he did.) At his appointment this week, they said his vision is completely restored and NO MORE PATCH. We have been celebrating!!

 

three

 

 

This may be a controversial one. πŸ˜‰ When I was working, I used to buy the popular ‘life planner’ every year and I loved it. However, *spoiler alert* when I quit my job to stay home with my four our budget was obviously tighter. It pained me to admit but I just couldn’t justify the price anymore. Four kids are expensive! Last year I bought a planner I was unimpressed with and relied on a pile of post-it notes stuck to it. I heard about the new Recollections planners at Michaels a while ago, got fed up with my post-it pile this week with back to school on the horizon and went to check them out. I bought one and I LOVE it. They are the closest I have seen to the popular brand and the price is awesome. They sell for $29.99 – I used a 40% off and walked out of there with a great planner for $19.25. Score.

 

 

They are similar in that they are spiral bound, have plenty of notes and daily space, have stickers, a folder and a zippered pocket. I miss the personalization and some of the other cutesy features BUT these are an amazing price-conscious choice. Love it! I took a few pictures of mine in case you also have a desire for an adorable budget friendly planner!

 

 

 

FOUR

 

 

We spent our weekend visiting my in-laws and had the best time! We mini-golfed, enjoyed dinner outside in the beautiful weather, and spent our Sunday at a family picnic for Josh’s dad’s work.

 

 

Our boys got to sit in construction vehicles, race cars, climb on a mass amount of inflatables and slept the entire way home and until 8:30 the next morning. We had a great weekend but that last part may have been my favorite. πŸ˜‰

 

 

FIVE

 

We started our first garden this spring and planted cucumbers, zucchini, tomatoes, cauliflower and peppers. We’ve definitely learned A LOT for next year but most importantly we have learned to scale back our cucumber plants. We planted four this year and they took off like crazy so we’ve been trying every recipe we can find to use them!

Our hands down FAVORITE has been this amazing cucumber tzatziki sauce that we put on a chicken wrap. It makes it taste like a gyro (minus the lamb obviously) and we’ve been having it every week since we tried it.

 

 

I cut up the chicken into fajita style pieces (long and thin), seasoned with salt and pepper and cooked it in a couple tablespoons of EVOO. Make sure not to overcrowd your skillet because we found it was the best when I cooked the chicken in two batches and the chicken got a nice crust on it. We put it on flour tortilla wraps with sliced red onion, cucumber, cherry tomatoes, feta cheese and the cucumber tzatziki. SO yummy. (P.S. We found that this recipe made a ton so you may want to half the recipe or use the leftovers as a veggie dip. It was great for that too!)

 

There are my favorites on this beautiful Friday. I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend soaking in the end of summer.

 

I’d love to connect with you! Follow me on Instagram here

Follow me on Bloglovin here.

Workin’ It Wednesday- {8.9.17}

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

This post contains affiliate links. Click here to read my full disclosure policy.

Happy Wednesday! Today I’m linking up with Shay and Erika for Workin’ It Wednesday- Back to School style. I’m going to share the stuff that works for our family to get us back in the school groove. (I’m kind of shuddering even typing that. Where did summer go?)

 

 

FAMILY CALENDAR

It always seems like once the first day of school hits, our calendar BLOWS up. We have soccer practice x 2, swim lessons, homework and school stuff, PTA meetings, etc, etc. as I know we all do. What keeps it all straight for us is our giant dry erase calendar that we have hanging in our kitchen. I have these colored dry erase markers and use a different color for each of us. I write everything (including our dinner menu!) on it and look at it throughout the day. Even our older kiddos know to find their color on the calendar and ask what is going on that day.

 

 

I design and sell these calendars in my brand new Etsy shop and am running a shop opening sale this week. You will get 20% off your order with coupon code OPENING20 until Sunday, August 13th. Check out my shop and if you don’t see a calendar in a style or color you like, contact me here or on Etsy and I would love to design something for you.

 

 

PLUS- Walgreens is having a 40% off their in-store poster printing this week. SO (I’ll do the math) with both coupon codes, you will have a custom family calendar ready to go for back to school for under $20. Grab any glass frame of your choice (this is my pick) and dry erase markers and keep everyone on the same page! It was truly life changing for us.

 

SCHOOL CLOTHES

 

Our kiddos wear uniforms to school and we have not found better prices or quality than Old Navy. Last year we ordered several different brands and at the end of the year, only Old Navy shirts/pants held up for us. Their prices right now are awesome and stocking up on the next size in school uniforms is on my list for this week. (This is not sponsored in any way.)

 

LUNCHES

 

 

My first grader prefers to bring lunch from home everyday which is fine by me. Last year I made this list of food choices and I usually choose a couple from each category per week to alternate. No matter what is on the list, school lunch choices get old quickly so if anyone has any suggestions to add please comment! I’ll list what we pack below in case it sparks ideas for anyone else. (We are a peanut free school.)

‘Main Dishes’ – bagels with cream cheese, turkey or ham and cheese wraps, meatballs, pigs in a blanket, crackers/sausage/cheese

Fruits/veggies – Cucumber, carrots, cherry tomatoes, cauliflower, apples, grapes, strawberries, blueberries, applesauce, watermelon, oranges

Sides – string cheese, yogurt, cottage cheese, pretzels, hard boiled egg, goldfish, raisins, nutrigrain bars, muffins, green pea sticks

We use Yumbox and these ice packs and have never had issues keeping his lunch cold.

 

SCHOOL PAPERS

Last year when my oldest was in kindergarten, I was grossly underprepared for the mass amount of paper and projects that came home in his folder everyday. We created this Art Wall for our kiddos projects and it’s really worked for us.

 

Each of our older boys have 7 clips to hang something on and choose what they want to hang every day. When the clips are full, they choose what to take down to put something new up. Sometimes they really love something and leave it up for a long time and other times things only stay up for a couple days. When we take something down, we take a picture of the things we really liked, keep the really, really important things for their memory boxes and recycle the rest. It keeps stuff from overtaking our refrigerator and saves us from drowning in paper clutter. See my post here for what we used to make it.

 

Okay. That’s what works for us for back to school. I still have supplies to buy which is so unlike me. When we went to buy supplies last week (at a super random time of day), the aisles were still packed with carts and crabby parents. And I felt like I was going to get hives. Why do school supply lists make everyone so crabby? God speed to all you fellow parents and your school supply lists.

 

Find me on instagram here– I would love to connect with you!

 

Etsy store opening plus free printable!

I’m going to take a break from my regularly scheduled programming of Twin Tuesday, to share the opening of my new Etsy store! I’ve loved to design prints for our home and family for years and decided to open a shop that allows me to share that with other people. Plus, it gives this momma of all boys a creative outlet that I need. πŸ˜‰

My shop is called Loving Our Prints and right now – just in time for back to school!- I have personalized calendars for dry erase frames. We’ve used one for over 3 years and I live by it. I have ours printed 20 x 24 and it hangs in the kitchen where we all can see it. I have this set of dry erase markers and everybody gets a color on the calendar. We write appointments, school specials, field trips, sports practices, weekend activities, dinner plans and anything else you can think of on it so everyone is on the same page. Even our older boys know to look for their color on the current day on the calendar and ask what they have that day.

 

 

In honor of the store opening, I’m giving all blog readers 20% when you use coupon code OPENING20 when you place your order until this Sunday, August 13. (AND Walgreens is having a 40% off poster sale right now, so you can get a deal on printing too!)

 

 

Plus, if you don’t see a color or style in the shop that you are looking for just contact me here or through etsy. I’d be happy to make you something in a color or style to fit your aesthetic (and you just might see it in the shop in the future!). The design default is 16 x 20 but if you want yours 20 x 24 like ours is or any other size, just specify that in seller notes.

 

 

To celebrate the opening, I have a free printable that you can download here. It’s great for the entry way or living area in your home and can be printed 8 x 10 or 16 x 20.

 

 

Any questions – contact me! I’ll be posting new inventory every week so make sure you check back, follow me on instagram, or favorite my shop on Etsy for updates and sales.

 

Friday Favorites {8.4.17}

This post contains affiliate links. Click here to read my full disclosure statement.

 

Happy Friday (or as our boys have taken to exclusively calling it – FriYAY)! Hope everyone has had a good week. It’s hard to believe it is August already. This has been the fastest summer I can remember!

 

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

one

I have a confession. I realize this is unpopular but until this week, I was not a fan at ALL of dry shampoo. I just couldn’t get on board with the heavy feeling of it in my hair with all the ones I have tried. At my hair appointment this week, my stylist used a new line of products on my hair she thought I would like and clearly she knows me very well. I am in love. The whole Amika line smells amazing (seriously amazing) and I have now found the first dry shampoo I have ever liked. It’s not heavy and doesn’t feel like powder on my hair. I jokingly said that she has changed my life… but I’m not entirely sure I was exaggerating. πŸ˜‰

 

two

 

I’ve talked before about our boys obsession with animals lately thanks in large part to Wild Kratts on PBS. They love to check out animal books at the library and one of their very favorite places to go is the zoo. A few months ago Caleb’s animal book of choice for the week was about tigers and he started talking about how his ‘biggest dream in life was to see a tiger in real life’. We took a day trip at the beginning of the summer to a zoo with a tiger but of course on the day we were there, the tiger wasn’t out in his habitat. We went to a different zoo last weekend and they saw TWO tigers. Sweet boy’s summer was made.

They entertained us the rest of the day with random animal facts they have learned from Wild Kratts (like ‘Did you know that rhinos have poor eyesight Mom?’). We had the best day… until Reid threw up all over me and we had to drive two hours home smelling like it. The rest of it was good though. Haha! #someoneisalwayspukingwhenyouhavefourkids

 

three

 

This week’s Twin Tuesday post was all about how to include your older kids when you bring home a newborn (or two!). I wrote this from the perspective of twins joining our family but all these tips also apply to families preparing to bring one baby home too. Bringing home a new baby is an adjustment for everyone, especially younger kiddos who really had no idea of what to expect or knew what a new baby (or two!) joining the family really means. We dealt with some growing pains for sure when we brought our babies home and hopefully anyone with children who are preparing for a new baby can learn from some of our mistakes and work out your kinks faster than we did!

 

four

 

We are to the point of the summer where everyone is tired of our toys, tired of the same bike ride path and I’m all out of new ideas of things to do all day. Randomly, last week Luke was playing with our Magformers over near the front door and figured out that the magnets would stick to the steel door. He started building with them on the door and everyone’s minds were blown. I don’t know why it never occurred to us before that they can stick to more than just each other!Β  They have made giant towers sticking out from the door and crazy designs that they tear down and remake a million times. Magformers have always been a favorite toy but now they are completely resurrected and they have played with them for over an hour every day this week. An end of summer win.

 

 

five

 

Finally, we plan to finish up our summer bucket list this weekend (you can tell we took turns writing on it). We have done everything except go on a train and make popsicles. We were informed when the list was made that a zoo train doesn’t count so I guess we are off to find a real one this weekend. I can’t even believe that we only have a couple more weeks left of summer and Eli just joined his brothers and figured out the joy of sleeping in…

 

Those are my favorites this week! Hope you have a wonderful weekend!

To keep up with us on Instagram, click here.

 

School Year Summary Sheets – Free Printable!

A couple weeks ago, I talked a little bit about how we try to control our school year paper clutter by letting our kiddos choose what they want to hang on our DIY Art Display Wall. We enjoy their art for as long as they want it to hang and then recycle it. It’s worked great for us to cut down on refrigerator and paper clutter. I didn’t mention though what we do with the really special stuff that we want to hang on to for them to look back on when they are grown. Until this year, I was keeping some things in a tub in their closet that we wanted to keep and kept putting off taking the time to organize it. This past school year for the first time, we had two kiddos bringing home projects and I knew I needed to figure out a better way before we didn’t even know what belonged to which child anymore.

 

 

I created this printable (which is here free for you to download!) to put with each year’s folder of things to keep. It has a short end of the year survey, a place to put a 3 x 5 school picture from that year and (my favorite) a place for them to sign their name. I love the idea of being able to look back on how their ‘signature’ changed each year. **The font on this printable is the adorable Pea Alesa from Kevin and Amanda. I love, love their fonts!**

 

 

 

I glued the completed sheets to the front of a file folder, labeled it with the school year and put all their items to keep in it or behind it. For each kiddo, I kept report cards and notes from their teachers, their class picture, the yearbook and some of our very favorite work they did. Eli had some adorable projects with his hand print on them that I couldn’t resist keeping and Caleb had a few books they had put together in kindergarten (a daily journal, a birthday book with pictures from all his friends, and a scrapbook of their class trip to ‘China’) plus some amazing art projects that I know we will love to look back on. It’s not a lot of things but enough for us to remember this school year and the progress they made.

 

 

For now, their papers are in a printer paper box that I covered in leftover fabric from other projects but eventually as they grow, I will probably buy plastic tubs like these to store their things in. My goal is to hang on to a small folder of things from each year of school that they will take with them someday when they are on their own.

 

 

If you still have stuff from last school year you want to keep or you want to be ready for this coming year, download my free printable or pin it for later!

Hope you all have a wonderful day!

 

Twin Tuesday – How to include older siblings when you have infant twins

This post contains affiliate links. Click here to read my full disclosure policy.

 

Happy Twin Tuesday to you! Today, I’m offering my tips on how to include older siblings when you have infant twins!

 

 

Bringing home twins is an adjustment for everyone, especially younger kiddos who really had no idea of what to expect or knew what bringing home a new baby (or two!) really means. We dealt with some growing pains for sure when we brought our babies home, especially when one of our twins was able to come home from the NICU a full week before the other and we were running back and forth all the time. Our 2 1/2 year old dealt with his changing position in the family by running around the house screaming at all hours, refusing to nap and forgetting what a toliet was used for. It was a pleasant time that I look back on fondly.

It was a crazy few weeks while we worked out our kinks but we eventually figured out ways to include our older children and encourage them to embrace the new changes in our family . I hope some of these tips will help you from the beginning so your growing pains will be smaller and shorter than they were for our family!

  • Before the twin arrive, buy your older child a special gift that you give them when the babies get home from the hospital. We made a really big deal about this ‘big brother’ gift and about how the gift was just for big kids not for babies. We put together big brother shirts, a few books, and some toys we knew they had been wanting that would keep them busy. When I was nursing the babies or we were getting them ready for a nap or bed and needed them to play quietly, we would encourage Caleb and Eli to get out their ‘big brother presents’.

 

  • Involve older siblings as much as you can and encourage them to be ‘big helpers’!. Right away when the babies come home, this can be more challenging because they aren’t old enough to really interact yet. We encouraged our older boys to help by bringing us things like diapers or wipes during diaper changes, reading them books or showing them toys when they were in a bouncer and even singing to them or rocking them gently in their rock n’ plays when they were fussy. As they got older and were able to interact more, Caleb and Eli loved to play with the babies without any prompting and worked for their smiles every chance they got.

 

  • While you work on your new normal, don’t be afraid to do what works for you. We were very lucky that Josh was able to take two weeks off work when the babies came. By the time Reid came home from the hospital, we only had a few days left with him before he had to go back and I was alone with four kids all day and recovering from a c-section. It didn’t take me long before I realized that the only way I was going to survive was to relax our screen time and snack time parameters for awhile until I got into a routine on my own. We were absolutely in survival mode and it was okay if watching a show and having a snack would allow me a moment to tandem nurse our twins and breathe for a moment. Once we got in a better routine, we scaled back to normal again.

 

 

  • Our pediatrician gave me some invaluable advice right after our twins were born. She said that if more than one child needs you at the same time (assuming no one is hurt or in dire need for some other reason) it is better to attend to the needs of your toddler/child first and let the babies fuss for a moment while everyone is getting adjusted. She said that in this state of change, your child needs to know that the babies do not threaten or change the relationship between the two of you and their needs are not pushed aside. The babies will never know or remember that they waited an extra moment to have your attention but your child will. I tried to remember this when I felt overwhelmed when everyone was crying at the same time!

 

  • I think this tip is one of the most important that we didn’t realize. Try your best to keep life and routines as normal as possible for your older children. After our twins were born, in our minds we were just trying to survive the first few weeks and start to learn life with 4 kids. We looked forward to a time where it felt like things were settled down and we could be normal again. We were dealing with tantrums and attitudes we had never dealt with before from our 4 and 2 year olds and I was so overwhelmed and didn’t know what to do. One day when our 4 year-old had a massive meltdown because I picked him up after pre-k, he said ‘Daddy used to pick me up and we don’t do anything we used to do anymore!’ and I realized how true that actually was. I didn’t realize how many little things we had changed because we were trying to survive and what an impact those small things had on our kids. From that moment on we did our best to do the old normal as best we could. Josh went back to picking Caleb up from school, we started going on evening walks as a family again, had Friday night movie nights and I read bedtime stories like we used to (instead of Josh). The change in attitude and joy in our kids was immediate and amazing.

 

 

  • Take your older kids for one-on-one time whenever you can. After the tip about keeping routines up, this is the other one that we weren’t doing from the beginning that made the most difference for us. Eli had some struggles adjusting to not being the baby anymore, but taking him to run errands and get groceries with me so I could have some one-on-one time with my big boy was a game changer. We still do it now and it’s a special time we can talk and share a secret Starbucks treat for just him and I.

 

  • Be patient with them past the point that you would normally be in all areas. Their whole world has flipped upside down and while you know there will be a time very soon that things will settle down, they don’t have enough perspective to know that. Cut them some slack while everyone is getting adjusted.

 

  • Encourage them to bond with their siblings and talk to them about how special having a sibling is. We found that reading books about being an older sibling really helped them understand and love the idea of being big brothers. Some of our favorites were:

 

God Gave Us Two – by Lisa Tawn Bergren

 

Big Brother Daniel – Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood

 

I’m a Big Brother – by Joanna Cole

(For more books about twins, see last week’s Twin Tuesday post here.)

 

I hope these tips help you adjust to your new family dynamic! And remember. This craziness will get back to ‘normal’ soon. It doesn’t feel easy because it’s not easy! You were chosen to be a twin mom for a reason.

 

Find all my Twin Tuesday Posts here.

Follow me on Instagram here!

 

Friday Favorites! {7.28.17}

This post contains affiliate links. Click here to see my full disclosure statement.

Happy Friday! This week has seemed to fly for us. Josh took a vacation day in the middle of the week and we spent the day at a really cool park with some friends and the evening at swim lessons and grilling burgers. Just the refresher I needed mid-week to make it through!

I’m linking up with Erika, Andrea and Narci for Friday Favorites! Per the usual, I have a wide array of things on my favorites list this week!

 

one

 

On Saturday night when the heat index was up over 100 degrees, we made homemade ice cream with our crew old school style by rolling a coffee can up and down our driveway. Our boys LOVED it and shockingly the ice cream was actually really good. We used to do this all the time growing up with my mom but this time I switched out some of the ingredients with what we had in the house. (The recipe we used as kids called for half and half – we used 2% milk this time- and rock salt but I used just regular table salt and it worked perfectly.)

 

 

We mixed 1 cup of milk, 1/2 tsp of vanilla and 2 tbs of sugar in a quart size baggie that we sealed after removing as much air as we could. We put 3 cups of ice and 1/3 cup of salt in a gallon size baggie and mixed it up a bit. Then we put the quart size baggie inside the freezer size bag, sealed it and put it in a coffee can so we could roll it. You could absolutely just shake up the baggie but it was more fun for our kids to roll the can instead of shaking a bag.

 

 

We rolled the can for about 10 minutes for the first batch and the ice cream had gotten so cold/frozen that it was more like dip n’ dots consistency. When Josh and I made another batch for us to try, we rolled it for about 5 minutes which was a ‘just barely frozen’ consistency which is how I prefer my ice cream anyway. Both ways were delicious.Our kiddos topped it with chocolate syrup. They were so into it and have been asking to do it again since! Easy family fun is always a FAVORITE around here.

 

two

The time we prefer to go to Church on Sunday does not have a nursery for the littles so we all sit together every week. It has been getting harder and harder to keep our twins quiet (and contained!) as they get older and more adventurous! I’m pretty sure we keep everyone behind us very entertained with all the activity. I saw these Melissa and Doug Pop Blocs and got a set for Luke and Reid because they were so cute. All the animals are made of two pieces that come apart and can be switched with other animal pieces to make a cow-pig or a horse-sheep,etc.They are hands down their new favorite toy PLUS they are quiet toys and perfect for Church! I keep a few of the animals in our Church bag so they are excited by them every week and our pew is quiet…. for a little while at least. πŸ˜‰

 

three

As much as I’m trying to live in denial, it is Back to School shopping time. If you are looking for a bento style lunch box for your kiddo, we love Yumbox Panino. I bought one for Caleb last year to take to kindergarten and I plan on ordering another one this year so we have two. I love this brand because their largest part is big enough to fit a sandwich. Some of the other ones I found only had room for small items and while I don’t pack it often, sometimes a sandwich is his lunch choice. I put it in his lunch box with a thin ice pack and his leftovers were always still cold when we got home in the afternoon. They are top rack dishwasher safe which I love too. (Heads up- if your child is not super good at remembering to empty their lunch when they get home every day and perhaps everyone forgets about it over the weekend, the silicone will smell like the food that is in it. That happened to us one time and I had to soak it in vinegar for awhile to get the smell out. After that, we made sure to be more on top of emptying his lunch box and didn’t have a problem with smell again.)

 

four

I mentioned last week that Eli was having trouble all of a sudden at swim lessons. Earlier in the summer he had passed level 1 easily and with no issues at all- all smiles! When level 2 started, he suddenly developed this intense fear of drowning and it got to the point where he was too afraid to even do the things he was doing fine the week before. I could tell he was trying but he just couldn’t get past the fear and was getting so upset about even being in the water. The instructors at lessons were so sweet to him and took turns talking to him and reassuring him (and so did we of course) but he was just really struggling with the fear that no one would save him if he went under.

We talked about it, I prayed about it, we even pretended we were floating in the water on our living room floor! After a week of struggling we decided it would be best to pull him out and try again another time. Wouldn’t you know though… Eli woke up on Monday morning with a brand new determination and wanted to go to lessons. Sweet boy got to swim lessons on Monday, jumped in the water, floated on his back with a huge smile and never looked back. Last night was the last day of summer session, he passed his level and I am SO PROUD of him. Such a FAVORITE this week.

 

five

I stumbled across this post by The Humbled Homemaker written by her husband about having all girls and the comments strangers (and even acquaintances) make when you are a parent of children of all the same gender. You know how sometimes things just speak to you as if they had read all the thoughts in your mind? This one did for me.

People ask us all the time if we are going to have another to ‘try for a girl’ – seriously all. the. time. Or they say “Don’t worry. My sister/aunt/friend had four boys and then a girl!”Β  That’s great…. but why am I worried? I love my boys! I know God knew what he was doing when he blessed me with four boys.

I just loved it. If you have all girls or all boys or get unsolicited comments from strangers about your beautiful family…read this one. FAVORITE!

 

Hope you all have the very best weekend. Bring it on August!

 

I’d love to connect on social media – Follow me on Instagram here. Comment on this post with your insta and I’ll follow you back!

 

If you missed my other posts from this week, find Twin Tuesday: The Best Children’s Books About Twins here and my What’s Up Wednesday link-up here!

What’s Up Wednesday

Happy Wednesday everyone! I can’t believe it’s already the last Wednesday in July. I’m linking up with Shay, Sheaffer and Mel to chat about everything we’ve been up to lately.

 

What We’re Eating This Week….

We have quite the busy week this week with the end of summer swim lessons and a special zoo members night in the evening. We haven’t been getting home until after 6:30 so quick and easy is the name of our game this week!

Sunday- Chicken gyros with homemade cucumber tzatziki

Monday – Blue Cheese Burgers and Wedge Salads

Tuesday – Sloppy Joes and steamed broccoli

Wednesday – Paninis with cold veggies/dip

Thursday – Grilled barbeque chicken with pasta salad

Friday- Pizza night!! (#andallthemamassaidamen)

 

What I’m Reminiscing About…..

 

We took the boys to a Truck Jamboree a couple weekends ago and they still haven’t stopped talking about all the giant trucks and race cars they saw. They’ve apparently been reinspired to get their Hot Wheels tracks out and have their own Truck Jamborees every day since.

The snow cones were also a big hit with everyone except for Eli who being Mr. Picky insisted on a vanilla flavored snow cone instead of the Spiderman flavor everyone else got. And he hated it. Who is surprised.

 

What I’m Loving….

This age with our twins! We’re finally having more success getting them to use their words instead of pointing at the air and whining all day long. They are way more into playing together and reading books with us then ever before and I’m loving it! We’ve found some seriously adorable twin books that they are pretty obsessed with and will even sit and flip the pages together and look at the cute pictures.

 

For my picks of the best children’s books for twins check out this week’s Twin Tuesday post! Twin books are perfect gifts for those who have or are expecting twins and their siblings!

 

 

What We’ve Been Up To….

A lot of swim lessons.

A lot of bike rides.

 

Except when the bike path looks like this…

Soaking up the last of our summer days before life gets crazy again.

 

What I’m Dreading….

I feel like dreading is kind of a harsh word for my feelings but I’m sort of not looking forward to all the preparation for the start of school this next month brings. We have 5 doctors appointments scheduled in the next few weeks, school registration, and of course the back to school prep!

 

What I’m Working On….

After the kiddos go to bed every night, we’ve been working on giving our family room a facelift . So far we’ve painted everything, replaced all trim, added a toy closet for storage and are currently working on remodeling the fire place. I never liked the color of it but now it sticks out even more so now that everything else in the room is lighter and brighter. The black mortar just really gets me… so it has to go! I also believe we are single-handedly keeping Home Depot in business right now.

I think we’ve made some serious progress though so far… stay tuned!

 

What I’m excited about….

I’m excited that this is the last month of the year without football. And it’s almost over! We are counting down the days until Iowa Hawkeye Football is back and of course Bears preseason games.

And we can’t forget the most wonderful time of the year. The hunt for October in baseball, the start of the football regular season, my birthday AND Luke and Reid turn 2. πŸ˜‰

 

What I’m watching/reading….

I’m in the middle of two books in two very different genres. Lauren Graham’s Someday, Someday Maybe and The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel. Β Loving them both!

As for what we’ve been watching, check out myΒ favorite shows we’ve been watching as a couple!

 

What I’m listening to….

I’m clearly not in charge of my own car radio anymore so we always have this year’s Vacation Bible School CD playing. Last year’s CD was pretty awesome and this year’s came pretty close to being as good. We’re big fans.

 

What I’m doing this weekend….

We have a few more things left on our Summer Bucket List including finding a new zoo to visit, riding a train and going to a waterpark. So I think we will knock one of those things off the list!

And I’m going to paint the new shutters and front door that I have been putting off for weeks. Hold me to that. Ok?

 

What I’m looking forward to next month….

I’m not looking forward to the back to school prep but I am excited about getting back into our routine!Β  I’m excited for the beginning of pumpkin and apple everything season.

 

Bonus question: What’s your favorite thing about summer?

I feel like everything and everyone just kind of hit ‘pause’ during summer and I love it. We have a break from sports, from school meetings, from homework, from a rigid schedule and it gives me a chance to breathe. I love that I get my older kiddos back from the world for a bit.

 

 

Hope you have a wonderful Wednesday!!

I’d love to connect on social media – Follow me on Instagram here. Comment here with your insta and I’ll follow you back!