Friday Favorites {12.15.17}

As I sit here writing this post, this is what my Santa’s Bag app is showing me.

10 days until Christmas! I have all the gifts purchased and hidden away in our closet but I’ve only wrapped five. FIVE. I think Josh and I are signing up for some Christmas movies and hot chocolate wrapping dates this weekend!

I’m linking up with Erika, Narci and Andrea for Friday Favorites! I’ve got a random bunch of fun favorites this week because that’s what you do 10 days before Christmas. πŸ˜‰

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This has to be the first one this week because there isn’t much I love more than festive Christmas snacks. This Caramel Christmas Treat Mix was a huge favorite in our house. The cinnamon caramel Chex mix is amazing by itself but adding in caramel m&ms and these fun ‘Santa hats’ puts it over the top. It’s perfect for family Christmas movie night, bringing along in the car to look at lights or to bring to your holiday parties! Plus, it’s so simple that my kids made most of it themselves!

Also, if you missed my Twin Tuesday post this week on my tips to make it through your newborn’s NICU stay you can find it here. Those families unexpectedly spending the holidays with their new babies in the hospital are in my prayers this season.

 

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After every single one of my boys were born, our family and friends would always immediately say each of them looked like Josh. Every time. I obviously carry them for nine months, birth them and they come out looking nothing like me. I found a picture of myself once that looked just like Luke and excitedly sent it to my Mom, who then told me it was actually a picture of my sister. Sigh.

BUT. There is hope for me yet. I took this sweet pictures of these two cuties Wednesday night and saw my smile in Luke’s.

My mom sent me a picture of this Christmas ornament of me close to the same age and I absolutely see it. Right? It’s proof my genes are somewhere in there after all.

 

three

Our neighbors have the very best light display show every year. The weather has been so nice lately that we’ve been outside watching the shows constantly. When we aren’t outside, our boys are at the front window watching all the shows and all the people that come to see. I don’t know how you see all those beautiful twinkling lights and not feel the Christmas spirit!

 

four

Josh’s aunt always sends the best creative gifts every year. This year she sent us this sweet welcome mat for our entryway from Personalcreations.com. I’m pretty sure that’s exactly what our four boys look like every meal time! It’s perfect for Christmas time but also all winter long since it’s not holiday themed! It’s a favorite for sure!

 

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Finally, if you are looking for a last minute Christmas gift – don’t go out to the crazy, crowded stores in the cold! Order a digital print from my Etsy shop with code NOTTOOLATE20 for 20% off through Christmas Eve. Also, if you need something quickly add my NEW Christmas Rush option to your cart with your item. For only $3 extra, have your proof sent to you for approval the same day you order (for all orders placed before 9pm CST). Once you receive your print, send it to a local 1-hour photo (like Walgreens) grab a frame and you’re done!

 

Those are my favorites this week! We are spending our weekend making Christmas cookies, seeing lights and preparing for the last few days of school before my kids are on Christmas break! Happy weekend!

 

Caramel Christmas Treat Mix!

Before Thanksgiving, our PTA put on a big ‘Ladies Night Bingo’ event. Tables and tables of moms came with snacks and drinks to play lots of rounds of bingo and win fun prizes. The grand prize for the last game of blackout bingo was $250! I have never won bingo in my life (and that streak still stands!) but I had a great time catching up with other moms at my table in Eli’s preschool class. One of the mamas brought this amazing Caramel Cinnamon Chex mix which really might have been the best part of the night. I had to consciously keep stopping myself from grabbing more.

I begged her for the recipe for the chex mix and decided to make it a little more festive for the this time of year with caramel holiday m&ms and chocolate dipped ‘Santa hats’. This is the perfect treat to bring to holiday get togethers or to make for your family to enjoy with a cozy Christmas movie! I made this for my Advent small group study last week and went home with a completely empty bowl. πŸ˜‰

 

It’s easy enough to make on a weeknight and my kids loved helping mix the Chex mix together and dipping the Santa hats!

Make this soon! It’s seriously yummy.

 

For the Chex mix – adapted from Six Sister’s Stuff

You need:

9 cups of Chex cereal

1 cup of packed brown sugar

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter

1/2 cup light corn syrup (spray the measuring cup with cooking spray before you put in the corn syrup so it doesn’t get stuck!)

1 cup of sugar

3 tsp. of cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Measure cereal into a large bowl.Β  Over medium heat, heat brown sugar, butter and corn syrup until the mixture comes to a boil. Let it boil for one minute while stirring constantly, then remove from heat.Β  Add to the bowl of cereal and gently mix well until the cereal is coated.

Combine sugar and cinnamon. Pour half of it over the cereal and mix well.

Pour the cereal onto a greased cookie sheet and sprinkle the rest of the sugar/cinnamon on top. Bake for 5 mins then flip and bake for another 3.Β  Remove from the oven and let cool. Then break apart and mix with the rest of the ingredients!

 

 

For the Santa Hats

You need:

Bugels

Wilton red candy melts (OR White chocolate + red GEL food coloring)

mini marshmallows

Melt the candy/chocolate. Dip 25-30 bugels with a fork into your chocolate and place on a cookie sheet covered with wax paper or parchment paper. (It would not be a problem if more bugels than this were made. πŸ˜‰ This was everyone’s favorite part of the mix!)

Place bugels in the fridge for 10 mins to let set. Once set, remelt the chocolate if necessary and dip just the tops of the bugels into the chocolate. Place a mini marshmallow on the end.Β  Let dry!

 

Mix together Caramel Cinnamon Chex Mix, a 10 oz bag of holiday caramel m&ms and your Santa hats! Store in an airtight container until ready to serve.

 

You better pull some out for your family because if you take this anywhere, I bet you come home with an empty bowl too!

 

 

 

6 tips to help you through your baby’s time in the NICU – Twin Tuesday

About a month ago, I included my feelings on World Prematurity Day in my November WUW post. Looking at those pictures brought back so many memories of that time in our lives and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it! Today the older boys and I made some Christmas cards to send to families with babies currently in the NICU. I know firsthand how isolating it can feel when life goes on around you but you feel just stuck and helpless. These families and sweet babies are in my prayers this holiday season.

 

 

Thinking so much these past few weeks about our experience after our twins were born gave me today’s Twin Tuesday post. I’m going to share the things we learned while we were there that helped us get through our experience in the NICU. While our babies were only there for a short time in comparison to babies born much earlier, I hope that the things we learned will help other mommas facing a similar situation. Please know that you are NOT alone. This is part of my Twin Tuesday series but whether you have one baby or two or more, this is for you!

 

 

It’s okay to not be okay.

I woke up the morning before our babies were born at 35w4d with no signs of labor, assuming that they were in the same optimal position they had been in to try a vaginal birth. I went to work just like always and around 11:00, I just started feeling weird. I worked at a hospital so I walked over to labor and delivery just in case. Our babies were born via c-section and whisked away from me for emergency medical care accompanied by my husband by 2:25pm. I was so completely unprepared for every moment of that almost 3 1/2 hours.

Now, coming down from post-partum twin hormones is NO joke paired with struggling to come to terms with an unexpected c-section and the fact that my babies were not with me. I spent the first few days in pretty much constant tears. My twins were my third and fourth babies so I knew how to be a mom and I knew what to do after my babies were born. But this situation was so far out of my control, I literally just didn’t know what to do. It was really, really hard.

It wasn’t until weeks later after our babies were home that I was talking to one of my neighbors and she innocently asked how I was doing with everything. I said I was doing “just fine!” through tears. (Lies. ALL lies.) She said “It’s okay to grieve the birth experience you thought you would have. It’s okay.” And I realized then that’s exactly what it was.

I was so sad that the birth my doctor and I had hoped for went out the window with no warning. I was so sad that I wasn’t able to be the first one to hold my babies after they were born. I was so sad that I didn’t get to place them on my chest and look at their tiny fingers. Yes, I was unbelievably grateful for the immediate care they received. Those doctors literally saved their lives. But it was okay to grieve the loss of the birth and the days following that I had hoped for. If you have those feelings too – it’s okay to grieve that loss.

 

Ask questions!

When members of your health care team are in the room, ask your questions! If they say something you don’t understand, ask. If you don’t know what one of the monitors or machines do, ask! It’s incredibly intimidating to walk into a room full of machines helping your baby but understanding what they each did helped me feel better.

I became overwhelmed with all the different stats they would collect and possible problems they would find on a daily basis. We found it so helpful to be in the room when the healthcare team came around for rounds so that we could hear the report and know what questions to ask.Β  I became close with one of the residents on our team and asked her to explain what each thing meant and what that potential problem or success would mean for us. It helped me process what was going on and feel more involved in their care.

Mom as much as you can

For the first few days when I would visit Reid, I mostly sat in a chair and watched him. It was such a weird feeling to have to ask someone else for permission to hold your own child. One of the night nurses asked me if I wanted to change his diaper but I was nervous about all the cords and monitors. She taught me how to move everything properly and how to hold him when I wanted to. She said that as nurses they love when parents get involved and honestly, I didn’t know I could! From then on, I changed his diaper whenever we were there, Josh or I tried to be there for every feeding and I cuddled him every chance I got.

I immediately started feeling like his mother again doing those simple tasks to care for him. It helped us bond and helped my mindset so much. Certainly it depends what level NICU your child is at but ask the nurses what you can do to help. Ask them to teach you!

 

Take care of yourself

I know this one is hard. I sucked at it. Try to remember to take care of yourself too. Drink water. Eat something that isn’t donuts. Take a breath for a few minutes. Rest when you can – especially if you’ve had a c-section. Your healthcare team is there for you. Trust them to take care of your babies when you leave the hospital or try to get some rest. Our hospital had a phone number that we could call to check on our babies or tell them that we would be there for the next feeding. Ask if your hospital has something like that.

You have babies to take care of but you can’t do it running on empty all the time. You’re a better momma and better able to handle this emotional situation when you take care of yourself too.

 

Take advantage of family programs

Our NICU offered a lounge for parents with good snacks, couches and a tv. They had signs for support groups, free meals and they would give you a free pass for the parking garage. We didn’t know about some of these things until Reid was almost discharged so ASK! If your hospital offers some of these things, don’t be afraid to use them. In these difficult situations, every tiny helping hand makes a difference.

 

Allow other people in

Having your brand new baby in the NICU can be all consuming and no one really understands what it is like until faced with that situation. I found it exhausting to explain the details to anyone what was going on so I just didn’t. I thought it would be easier but in the end it was actually incredibly isolating. By not letting anyone in on what was going on, I had to bear the burden and stress alone.

When Luke was released to come home and was having trouble gaining weight, my doctor talked about him being readmitted to the hospital. I reached a total breaking point and called my mom to unload. It helped me so much that I started calling her multiple times a day when we would have updates. It’s not like she could really do anything to make the situation better but just knowing someone else was thinking about us and praying for the specific problem changed everything for me.

Let people in. Lean on your spouse and support system and try to talk about how you are feeling. They can’t completely understand but having people in your corner makes a big difference.

That’s Twin Tuesday for today! There is so many things on my prayer list these days, but those strong NICU mama bears are sure towards the top.

 

For more Twin Tuesday topics, check out:

How to live life with newborn twins

How to include older siblings when you have infant twins

Preparing for your twins

 

Friday Favorites {12.8.17}

Happy Friday! In case you have been lacking in the Christmas spirit department, you’re in the right place! πŸ˜‰

I’m linking up with Erika, Narci and Andrea for a whole post full of fun Christmas Friday favorites this week!

 

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Every year, I wait for this Groupon from Staples to order our Christmas cards. You get 100 double sided Christmas cards (and envelopes) for $25! We’ve ordered from Staples for at least the last 4 years and I have never been disappointed with the quality of the card. They are ready for next-day pick up if ordered by 2pm so you don’t have to wait for them to ship. I’ve been tempted to skip it the last couple of years with the popularity of social media but I’m always so glad I don’t! I love sending and receiving Christmas cards every year and seeing our cards change as our kids grow every year.

* This is in NO way sponsored – just a PSA to take advantage of this great Groupon!

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Another money saving favorite! I made my annual trip to the Dollar Store this week to stock up on all my supplies for wrapping gifts. They have a surprisingly large selection of wrapping paper and the price allows me to buy a bunch of different kinds (because it’s fun! ;)). I bought everything in this picture for $16!

I buy tissue paper, boxes, gift bags for teacher gifts, bows, TAPE etc all at the Dollar Store but I never buy gift tags. I love me some cute gift tags so I always make them myself. This week I posted free printable gift tags AND these gift tags from Santa too! Go and download them or pin them for later when it’s time to wrap!

three

My older boys and I made this quick Advent wreath out of random stuff we had at home last weekend. We’ve never had an Advent wreath at home but now that our kids are getting older, we thought this was the perfect year to start! I went out Saturday to gather up the traditional pink and purple candles but couldn’t find them anywhere because I was such a procrastinator. So Sunday we did our best with what we had! We glued pink and purple ribbon to regular white tapers to make our candles, glued them to flower pot saucers and found a small Christmas wreath to go around them. It’s not perfect but it works for us this year! Next year, I’ll be more on top of the ball. πŸ˜‰

 

four

This week, I linked up with This Inspired Chick for her monthly Confessions post. I posted a holiday Q & A and answered questions about yay or nay on egg nog, real or artificial trees, favorite Christmas memories, movies and other fun stuff. I also talked about the fate of our Christmas tree with two year old twins. (Spoiler alert: we’ve lost more ornaments this year than ever before.)

 

five

One of my very Christmas movies ever is 12 Dates of Christmas. Usually, I have to stalk Freeform’s 25 Days of Christmas for the one or two times it’s on during the season but this year it’s on Netflix! It has Amy Smart and Mark Paul Gosselaar and it’s a ‘Groundhog Day’ type story where she wakes up every day on Christmas Eve. It’s the sweetest little movie and always puts me in the Christmas mood. If you haven’t seen it and are looking for a feel good movie – this one is for you!

 

Those are my favorites for this week! I hope you have a wonderful weekend with some of your favorites!

 

Keep up with us on Instagram here!

 

Confessions – Episode 2

I’m here linking up with Amanda from That Inspired Chick for this month’s Confessions post! (To see my Confessions from November click here.)

Today I thought I’d have a little holiday fun and do a Christmas confessions post. I’m answering a bunch of Christmas questions about me and I hope you will share some of your answers too!

 

Wrapping paper or gift bags?

#Teamwrappingpaper all the way! I love to wrap gifts and I especially love easy ways to make them pretty. Yesterday, I posted a set of free printable gift tags that I will be using on all our gifts this year! There are also some for gifts from Santa!

How do you do Santa with your kids?

Our Santa always brings one ‘large’ gift for each child and the rest are from Josh and me. They know it’s from Santa because they are wrapped in Santa’s special gold paper!

When do you open presents?

We always opened gifts on Christmas morning growing up and so did my husband. We continued that with our kids! I think it kind of builds the anticipation. πŸ˜‰

What special traditions do you have for Christmas morning?

Just last year, we started the tradition of coming downstairs Christmas morning and immediately going into the kitchen (without looking at the gifts or Christmas tree!). We light candles on a birthday cake for Jesus and sing ‘Happy Birthday’ to him before we do anything. I heard this idea from a mom at our mom’s group last year and loved it! It’s so important to us to keep our kids focused on what is really important at Christmas time and celebrating Jesus first helps even our little ones understand. Especially because they ‘get’ the happy birthday song!

Do you like eggnog?

NO! My husband loves it. Like really loves it. He buys a carton every year and I gag.

Real tree or artificial?

Artificial. I know this is a heated topic. πŸ˜‰ Neither of us grew up with a real tree so we’ve never really known anything different. I was actually talking to one of my friends about this the other day. We were saying that the whole idea of going out as a family to find and cut down a real tree sounds like Christmas magic. But cleaning up fallen needles, making sure it’s watered and not bringing in outside creatures is just stressful to me. I’m just not sure I’m a real tree person.

When do you take the Christmas tree down?

Well before we had twins, we would leave it up until after the new year. Last year though I could NOT handle another day with our one year old twins terrorizing it so we took it down the day after Christmas and I was not sorry about it. I hope we can leave it up longer this year but if you follow me on Instagram… you will see that may not be possible.

What is one of your favorite adult Christmas memories?

Obviously I love the magic of Christmas with our young children, but our first married Christmas was one of my very favorites. Josh and I chose to spend Christmas Eve just the two of us. We went to Church and then made lasagna together at home. We had decided not to get each other anything for Christmas that year (we were saving for a new car) but on a whim we went to Target and separately shopped for each other. We set a budget of $50 each and had the best time buying random stuff at Target. Josh rocked that challenge and got me some of my very favorite gifts to date. It was just a quiet, peaceful Christmas Eve together.

Favorite Christmas movie?

I really love The Santa Clause because it’s a classic. I also love 12 Dates of Christmas. It was one of those ABC family original movies a few years ago and it’s adorable. It’s actually on Netflix this year if you haven’t seen it. I seriously recommend it. Mark Paul Gosselaar at his best. #justsaying

 

What is your favorite Christmas gift you remember receiving?

When I was a teenager, I remember it was black corduroy overalls that all my friends had that I was dying to have. It’s fine.. you can laugh. They were seriously super stylish then. Recently though I think it was the necklace that Josh got me for the first Christmas after our twins were born. He completely surprised me and I absolutely cried.

 

What is your favorite Christmas decoration you own?

This plate. I found it at Hobby Lobby maybe 5 years ago and I loved it. I don’t know why it’s on a plate- it was all they had and I couldn’t pass it up. I’ve looked for this image in wall dΓ©cor forever and have never been able to find anything else. I think it’s so powerful and I just love it. If you’ve seen this somewhere (perhaps not on a plate), please let me know!

I’m always keeping my eye out for a good kid friendly nativity too! We have a Little People nativity that our kids love to play with but I wish I had one that was fancier and didn’t look so much like a toy. It has to be pretty hardy though – I live with 5 boys. Haha!

A little fun holiday confessions post for your Thursday. Thanks for stopping by! Comment with some of your answers to these!

I’m looking forward to reading the rest of the posts!

 

Christmas Gift Tags – Free Printable!

Happy Wednesday everyone! We’ve been having some really beautiful warm December weather in Iowa the past week or so which has left my boys with some serious concern about Christmas not coming if there hasn’t been snow. I will admit that I’m usually all about the snow in December! The feeling lasts until mid-January when I am OVER all the snow and ready for spring. My older boys have been super annoyed about having to wear a winter coat in the morning to school and then – and I quote – “roasting like warm marshmallows” in them by recess time. I think this warm weather is about over and I think we are all ready for the weather to feel like Christmas time too.

It was time for my annual trip to the Dollar Store for Christmas wrapping paper last night and made out like a bandit. πŸ˜‰ I love getting all my wrapping supplies there: paper, tissue paper, boxes, ribbon/bows and TAPE. All. The. Tape. Partially because I go through a lot and partially because I always misplace half of it. Tell me I’m not the only one.

I love buying wrapping supplies at the Dollar Store because then I can afford to buy a bunch of different pretty papers plus the character wrapping paper that our kids love without spending very much. Our Santa always wraps his gifts in gold paper (or puts big gold bows on larger items) so I dig through the wrapping paper bins and buy up all the gold too. πŸ˜‰

One thing I never buy there though is gift tags! I love me some cute gift tags and the ones in stores just don’t really do it. I created these gift tags forΒ  our gifts this year and you can download this FREE printable too! Right here! Print them, cut them out, tape on or string them on a ribbon and a super cute gift you have! OR you can buy this label paper and print them on that instead. I love using label paper because you cut them out, peel off the back and they are stickers ready to go!

And don’t forget about those gifts from Santa!

PLUS, I also created these cute Santa gift tags! You can find those to download here.

I considered trying to have all my wrapping done this week so I didn’t have to worry about it but then I realized that wrapping to me isn’t a chore. I love to wrap gifts! Josh and I always settle in with a Christmas movie and hot chocolate while I wrap gifts a little every night the week or so before Christmas and I like it that way. πŸ˜‰

 

Do you dread wrapping gifts or look forward to it like me?

 

Don’t forget to pin for when it’s time to get your wrap on. πŸ˜‰ (Hover over or tap the upper left corner of the images above.) Happy wrapping!

 

If you like these gift tags, check out the Christmas printables in my Etsy shop!

 

 

Friday Favorites {12.1.17}

Happy happy Friday everyone! It’s been quiet around here while our house has been battling our first cold of the season. We started off our week thinking that Caleb had strep again so we are all pretty excited it was just a bad cold – even when it spread to the rest of us.

We had the best long Thanksgiving weekend off together with some beautiful weather! It was so warm we got out to hang up all our Christmas lights immediately after Thanksgiving and hung out outside together all day.

The boys kind of went crazy running around in the fresh air.

Josh and I got to go out for an evening over break to hang out with my friends from high school. It seems crazy after all this time but there is a group of us that has gotten together around Thanksgiving for the past 13 years when we would come home to visit our parents for the holidays. It’s one of my very favorite traditions. I love these people so much!

We hit up a local holiday festival and waited in line for what seemed like ever to see Santa. Eventually everyone completely lost interest and we had moved about 5 feet in line, so we gave up and played some games instead. πŸ˜‰

 

Like every Friday, I’m linking up with Erika, Andrea and Narci for Friday Favorites! This week I thought I’d do a little something different and list all my very favorite Etsy stores and gift ideas for your holiday shopping! I’m all about getting a good deal on Black Friday but I also love to support small businesses especially those owned by fellow moms working to support their families. #Momssupportingmoms Read on and find an amazing gift for someone on your list or a brand new Etsy shop to favorite!

one

These adorable burp cloths from Sew Simply Stork on Etsy are the perfect gift choice for anyone with a brand new baby or with one on the way. The shop owner is one of my real life friends and let me tell you that she makes running a small business and being a full time momma to her littles look easy. #goals

She has a bunch of different burp clothes in adorable patterns plus how cute are these Christmas themed “stocking stuffers’ for baby!

She also has something for a new Daddy too. I love these beer burp cloths!

You can find Sew Simply Stork on Etsy here or on facebook here!

 

two

We got this necklace for my mom and Josh’s mom for Christmas last year from Pockets of Mischief on Etsy. The necklaces turned out great and they both loved them! She has so many things in her shop that are perfect for moms or grandmas!

 

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I am in love with everything from That Inspired Chick on Etsy. Seriously. Every new thing she comes out with, I feel like I need to have. Also, if you don’t follow Amanda’s blog, you should! It’s one of my favorites!

four

I saw this door mat on Pinterest the other day and I couldn’t decide whether to laugh hysterically or buy it right then. This is definitely me around this time of year! Kay Belle Designs on Etsy has a bunch of other cute door mats and more!

 

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I love these holiday pillows from Mother Bliss Creations on Etsy! I love the sweet deer family for the holidays. She has a bunch of beautiful holiday ornaments too! As soon as my twins stop pulling ornaments off our tree and trying to step on them (seriously) I will be first in line for one of those!

 

And if you are looking for a gift for the person on your list who ‘has everything’ check out my Personalized Family Tree Printable in my Etsy Shop!

 

Those are my favorites this week! I hope you have the very best weekend!

 

What’s Up Wednesday {11.22.17}

Happy Thanksgiving Eve everyone! Today I’m linking up with Shay, Sheaffer and Mel for What’s Up Wednesday!

What we’re eating this week

Sunday – Baked ziti and salad

Monday – Barbeque Chicken Tacos

Tuesday – Taco Tuesday!

Wednesday – Sandwich Bar (We just set out a big bunch of deli meats, toppings, cheese and sandwich buns. Everyone chooses what to put on their sandwiches. My boys LOVE to do this.)

Thursday – Thanksgiving Day! I’m making our very favorite cinnamon rolls for breakfast and I’m in charge of pies for our Thanksgiving celebration. I’m making this apple, this pumpkin and this AMAZING pecan pie. (Seriously that is the best pecan pie recipe I have found. I’ve been making it for years.)

Friday – Pizza Quesadillas (We put sausage, pepperoni and mozzerella cheese in a quesadilla and dip them in pizza sauce!)

 

What I’m reminiscing about

Last Friday was World Prematurity Day and I posted on Instagram a little thank you to the doctors and nurses who treated our twins when they were born prematurely at 35w4d. After I posted that, I couldn’t stop thinking about that difficult time in our lives and how far we have all come. At the time, my doctor set a big milestone for us to make it to 35 weeks because of the likelihood that they would be born without complications. No one really expected them to need so much intervention. I was completely unprepared for what I was facing emotionally with my babies literally being taken from me and whisked away for emergency care.

Those NICU nurses were true angels in my life as they supported me when I had two babies receiving care and then eventually 3 children at home and one still in the hospital. I will forever remember those women and all they did for our family.

Two years later and thankfully that time is behind us but forever a part of our story!

 

What I’m loving

I have loved doing our thankful turkey with our family this year! This is the first year that Reid and Luke have been able to really participate in thinking of something they are thankful for every day. Hearing what two year olds are thankful for has been SO sweet (and SO hilarious!). I mean I am also thankful for ketchup so I get it. πŸ˜‰ Also, Daddy was something that one of them was thankful for when asked almost every day. Those two and their Daddy are besties.

I’m also loving this little turkey! I picked him up from preschool yesterday and all the kids were decked out in these sweet turkey hats they made.

 

What we’ve been up to

Every year we go to an amazing holiday parade near us that has huge parade balloons. It’s our version of the Macy’s parade and my kids LOVE it.

Unfortunately when you have a parade in November, you have to expect some less than perfect parade weather. That was kind of an understatement this year! It was freezing cold and raining but we stuck it out and had a really great time together.

Elmo was new this year and we knew that Luke and Reid would freak out. They just stood and screamed “ELMO!” at it over and over.

The people walking with the Cookie Monster balloon passed out cookies right around the time that our two year olds were starting to get impatient. They sat on the curb and ate cookies the rest of the parade. πŸ˜‰ #thankyoucookiepeople

Of course Santa and his awesome car brought up the rear. We went home and had some hot chocolate wrapped in blankets. A great end to a great day!

 

What I’m dreading

I’m dreading that impossible balance between the desire to go experience holiday things and traditions and the desire to keep our calendar open enough to have time to remember the true reason for the season and the time with our family. I get sort of defeated when I see how full our December calendar really is already! I want to make sure we stay in the moment with each other and avoid as much of that holiday stress as we can. How do you find the balance this time of year? Clearly I need some tips.

 

What I’m working on

Yesterday for Twin Tuesday, I posted a Twin Mom Gift Guide that’s full of awesome gift ideas for the twin mama on your list!

Also, I have a bunch of new Christmas designs up in my Etsy shop like this one.

If you are looking for a gift for that hard to buy for person, check out my new family tree personalized printable or a personalized family calendar!

 

What I’m excited about

I mentioned this in my Friday Favorites last week, but I’ve been in need of a serious jump start to my spiritual Christmas preparations so I ordered this Advent Devotional. It’s supposed to be here this week and I’m excited to dive into it.

I also ordered this one for my husband that he has been interested in.

And I’m reading this one with a small prayer group this Advent season!

 

What I’m watching/reading

I’ve definitely been taking in my fair share of Hallmark movies already this season. I’m sort of embarrassingly excited for the Candace Cameron Bure movie to premiere this weekend. (I mean she’s playing twins! I’m pretty impressed in your creativity Hallmark.)

My husband and I always watch all the Friends Thanksgiving episodes the week before Thanksgiving. It’s one of my favorite traditions!

 

What I’m listening to

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday so we always wait until the day after to decorate our house for Christmas, but that rule doesn’t apply to Christmas music. πŸ˜‰ We’ve already busted out their very favorite Mickey Christmas CD that we will listen to 6 billion more times before December is over. I’m honestly not entirely sure my kids know that ‘Deck the Halls’ doesn’t typically include quacking from Donald Duck in it.

 

What I’m doing this weekend

Basically just eating and shopping. Next question.

I’m only sort of kidding. We are celebrating Thanksgiving with my family and I will very probably try to take advantage of a bunch of Black Friday deals. I usually try to have my holiday shopping done before December but this year I’m way behind. There’s a holiday event in our area that we are planning to check out and most of all – enjoying our long holiday weekend together with my favorite people!

 

What I’m looking forward to next month

This is an easy one because of course CHRISTmas! I’m so excited to share this magical time with our children, spend time with family and teach them and experience with them the real meaning of this beautiful season.

 

BONUS QUESTION: What’s your favorite thing to do with your Elf on the Shelf?

Our boys always find it hilarious when our elf Cookie, plays with their toys. In years past he has made snow angels in cereal with their Super Heros and TP’ed (I don’t even know how to spell that?) our bathroom with some of their stuffed animals.

The first day he comes he always brings donuts for breakfast which is kind of my favorite too. πŸ˜‰ Can’t wait to see everyone’s elf ideas!

 

 

Thanks for stopping by for What’s Up Wednesday! Happy Thanksgiving everyone!!

Keep up with us on Instagram here!

 

 

Best Twin Mom Gift Ideas – Gift Guide

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

 

Happy Twin Tuesday! In honor of Black Friday this week, I thought I would put together a Gift Guide for Twin Moms! All of these are perfect for new or experienced twin mamas in the trenches!

 

Enesco Legacy of Love Twins Figurine – My mother-in-law got me a figurine similar to this one the Christmas after my twins were born. It touched me so much and is still one of my very favorite things I own. This is one is so beautiful and a thoughtful gift for any twin mama.

 

Twin Mom Shirt – I love cute funny t-shirts that make you give you that ‘trying but not trying’ type of look. These adorable choices are my picks!

 

Starbucks Coffee Sampler Gift Basket – I have yet to meet a twin mom who doesn’t use coffee as her superpower! This is a perfect fun gift for an exhausted, coffee loving momma!

 

Twin Mom Fuel Travel Coffee Mug – I love this adorable coffee mug from SweetPSisters on Etsy. Cute and full of glitter. I don’t think I need to say more. πŸ˜‰

 

Jesus Calling – Raising twins is one of life’s greatest blessings, but it’s also sometimes difficult and exhausting. I love Jesus Calling as a daily devotional for encouragement and reminders of gratitude in the every day. Twin moms in the trenches don’t have a lot of time that is their own during the day but these daily devotionals are the perfect length for a few stolen moments of quiet.

 

Peas in a Pod Necklace – This necklace from NYMetals on Etsy is a sweet reminder of our two ‘peas in a pod’! I love how this is small enough and totally neutral to wear with anything!

 

Because Twins Wine Glass -I’m not sure this one even needs an explanation. πŸ˜‰ Pair this with a bottle of your favorite wine and you have the perfect gift!

 

Chenille Throw BlanketΒ  – It’s so easy as a mother to forget to find time for self care! This cozy blanket is a perfect gift for a twin mom when she finds a few minutes at the end of the day to curl up with a good book or tv show and finally relax!

 

If you’re shopping for a mom expecting twins, check out my twin tuesday post: 10 Twin Pregnancy Must-Haves!

Find all my Twin Tuesday posts here!

 

 

Friday Favorites {11.17.17}

So there are weeks I bounce into Friday, obviously tired and SO ready for the weekend. But still bouncy. You guys, this week is not like that. I feel like I’m dragging myself inch by inch towards the weekend. Anybody else?

I’ve totally gone radio silent here these last couple weeks while I’ve been working like crazy on on a big publication for our school’s version of the PTA and all leftover moments on new designs for my Etsy shop. It’s been a couple weeks without bedtimes before midnight (or 1:30!) and this little lifeline was helping me through the last half of this week…

until I proceeded to spill it all over the couch. Obviously.

Ross just gets me.

I’m ready for you weekend. Haha! Like always, I’m linking up with Erika, Narci and Andrea for Friday Favorites!

 

one

I have some brand new Christmas designs up in my shop just in time for the season!

As always, all of them are completely customizable with color or wording. Especially this family rules sign! If you have something fun you want to add to it, I’d be happy to do that for you!

I love this countdown to Santa sign. Just print, frame and use a dry erase marker to countdown the days with your kids on the brim of Santa’s hat!

These all work great as gifts for family, friends or teachers. If you are looking for gifts for grandparents or mother-in-laws, this family tree design is perfect.

I also love a family name sign as a gift for friends, grandparents or newlyweds! Just download, send to a local printer, frame and gift!

And of course, any of my dry erase calendars would be perfect gifts for any mom or woman in your life! I don’t even know what I would do without ours to keep all 6 of our schedules, what’s for dinner each night, school events, etc. in my head!

From now through next Sunday, November 26 – use code TISTHESEASON20 for 20% off your order!

So many more in the works! P.S. I also take custom orders! If you have something in mind but don’t see it in my shop, I’d love to create it for you! Contact me through my shop or email me at lovingourmessy@gmail.com

 

two

I saw these at our grocery store this week and had to snag a box. I’m not sure how you can go wrong with chocolate and peanut butter. They were everything I wanted them to be. I’m not a big breakfast person so I had these as a midnight snack this week which actually was the perfect choice. I’m hoping these are in store permanently and not a seasonal product! Is anybody else in love with these?

 

three

We took advantage of an early out at school to get outside and enjoy a beautiful fall day! We love getting outside every chance we can but super cold November weather and it getting dark so early now is giving all of us a bit of cabin fever. Our big beautiful tree in our backyard finally is starting to lose its leaves so I thought we’d go play for awhile and then rake up some leaves while it was warm.

We definitely played. And played. And played.

I started filling up some leaf bags while they ran around but it turns out the leaves inside the bags were way more fun to play with than the millions on the ground. And it’s true. If you cover your ears when I look at you, I can’t see that you have ripped open the leaf bag and pulled a bunch out. Haha!

 

four

When we bought our house last summer, I absolutely loved the space and it was clear that the old owners did a great job taking care of the house. It was also clear though, that we have very different design aesthetics so we are slowly going through and updating everything to our preferences. Our front door and shutters were a dark brown and it drove me kind of crazy because of how dark it made the house look. We repainted the door and shutters and a little paint has made such a HUGE difference!

We were limited in color choices to keep it coordinating with the brick parts of our home but I still love how it came out. It’s not easy to find time for DIY projects with four kids but little by little (slow as sloths) we are crossing things off!

 

five

I’m excited for this new Advent Devotional that I found. I’ve had a hard time finding quiet time lately with how crazy things have been. I absolutely need a jump start into Advent this year! I chose this one because it says it has ideas for family activities and discussions too. Are there any Advent Devotionals that you have tried with your kids and love or ones just for you?

 

Those are my favorites this week! I’m looking forward to reading everyone else’s. I hope you have the very best weekend!