Monthly Archives: June 2013

We are finally moving!

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We have been planning/building a house for what seems like forever, and we are finally moving in this weekend. We are so excited to move out of this rent house and have our own place again. It has been a long 13 months!

As I’m packing what’s left in our kitchen, I wanted to share a couple of moving tips that save me time when unpacking. You may already know these, but maybe there is someone who will find this information useful.

When packing my plates or other flat dishes, I place one styrofoam plate between each plate for cushion. We’ve moved our dishes this way at least three times, and none have been broken so far.

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After I have a good-sized stack, I wrap the entire stack with plastic food wrap. This keeps out any dust or germs, and the dishes can go straight into the cabinets at the new house.

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I am quite the germophobe and feel like everything that has been in a box or wrapped in paper needs to be washed before going in my cabinets or drawers. These two tips save me a lot of time and energy when unpacking.

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Perfectly sweet

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When I look at this sweet face, it’s hard for me to believe that it isn’t perfect. Unfortunately, Little Sister’s head has some mild to moderate asymmetry, so she will be getting a DOC Band (helmet) in the next two weeks to reshape her head. She has torticollis, or wryneck, and having tighter neck muscles on one side has made her only want to turn her head to the left. Torticollis is likely due to her placement in the womb. She was our Baby B, who was breach and always partially–once completely!–hidden behind Baby A. We are now doing some neck exercises to stretch those tight muscles and strengthen the weaker muscles on the other side of her neck. She didn’t like the stretches at first, but I discovered that playfully kissing her neck while stretching keeps her happy.

We noticed just a few weeks after birth that both babies tended to turn their heads to the left while sleeping and taking their bottles. We tried to change their positions and offer tummy time to avoid flat areas on their heads, but this baby girl was more persistent than her twin and now has positional plagiocephaly, a flattening on the back left side of her head. This has caused her left ear and forehead to shift forward a little, which could mean her jaw has shifted forward as well and could result in a cross bite. We also noticed early on that the top of her head near her crown was taller than her twin’s. Our pediatrician told us to do plenty of tummy time, and the shape of her head should resolve on its own, but, alas, it has not. The DOC Band will correct all of this, so we have scheduled to have her fitted ASAP.

She will wear the DOC Band 23 hours a day for 8-10 weeks, so I want to make it cute. I have been researching wraps and accessories for the band, and there is no shortage of either. Wrap Buddies is a non-profit that offers free wraps for helmets, so I filled out an application and hope to hear from them soon. This picture shows some of their designs that can be applied to a helmet.

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There are also plenty of accessories on Etsy like these cute bows from Lola’s Band Accessories. I could probably make some myself, but I doubt I would get around to making them until she was almost finished with the band.

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I couldn’t post Little Sister’s four-month photo without also posting Sissy’s. I just love these baby girls so much! They are so cute and sweet, and they really are happy babies. Now that we have Little Sister’s dairy problem figured out, there is no screaming throughout the store or church, and they really only fuss when they are tired or hungry. Sissy loves tummy time and refuses to stay on her back to sleep. Little Sister isn’t struggling as much with tummy time now and is getting stronger. I’m sure they’ll both be crawling in 2-3 months, and then I’ll be busier than I am now!

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Father’s Day fun

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20130617-061732.jpgPinterest has revolutionized gift giving. Hubby had already bought himself something for Father’s Day, so we weren’t getting him anything big, but I wanted the kids to have something to give him from them. I found these two ideas on Pinterest and let the kids choose which one they wanted and put them together. The tag on the jar of Reese’s Pieces says, “Daddy, we love you to pieces.” The tag on the jar of Peanut M&Ms says, “To our slightly nutty but sweet dad.” Their daddy loves both of these candies, so these gifts were perfect for him.

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First food, funny faces

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I tried to feed the babies some rice cereal this evening, but I’m not sure they really ate any. It was fun to watch their reactions, and I was surprised by which one enjoyed eating and which one fussed. The baby above smiled every time the spoon touched her gums. I had expected her to gag and make faces, but she didn’t seem to mind the new texture. The baby below wouldn’t open her mouth. When I managed to get her to smile and slipped the spoon inside, she made faces and spit the cereal out.

I think I will wait until they are eating well before I try feeding them together again. I had forgotten how the first feedings usually go. About five years ago, I kept two babies who were born a month apart, and I fed them at the same time for several months, but that was after their parents had been feeding them at home for a few weeks. In some ways, that experience prepared me for twins, but obviously there is still much to learn.

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My kitchen

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I honestly enjoy cooking. I like finding new recipes and trying them out. I make things from scratch so I can know what ingredients are going into our food. I love baking and making pretty food. My parents and grandparents taught me the basics and some candy-making, which has become a family tradition around the holidays. I sold Pampered Chef for awhile and honed some cooking skills. I have tried many new recipes over the years and found that I’m a decent cook. In the spring of 2012, I had this great plan to prepare meals and sell them to friends who hate cooking or are too busy or tired to cook dinner. I started preparing meals for two to five families in addition to ours three days a week, and I was enjoying it. I don’t think I made any money, but I was cooking and serving others, which gave me purpose and joy. Then we sold our house and moved about 30 minutes away from all of the friends and neighbors who were ordering meals. I had considered preparing meals for friends in our new town, but I found out I was pregnant a few weeks after we moved, and the smell of chicken nauseated me.

We moved into a rent house on June 1st of last year and have been working on our new house for the last several months. The kitchen in the rent house is only tolerable. Three of the four burners on the stove work consistently. With the help of an oven thermometer, I can bake in the oven without burning things. There are just four narrow drawers for utensils, so I left most of my kitchen things packed away in boxes. (It will feel like Christmas morning when I start unpacking everything that has been boxed up for the past year!) Between the nausea and this kitchen, I have not enjoyed cooking for far too long, but that is about to change. We will be moving into our new house in the next week or two, and I can’t wait to cook in my new kitchen! It’s not quite as spacious as my “dream kitchen”, but it is functional and beautiful. It’s not completely finished, but I saw it yesterday for the first time since they put in the backsplash, and I’m already looking forward to being in my kitchen with its gas stove, accurate double oven, quiet dishwasher, large pantry, multiple wide, deep drawers, and everything I thought I wouldn’t miss and left in storage boxes. Here is a photo I took yesterday. It’s almost finished!

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Jennifer (Book Review)

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Dee Henderson is one of my favorite authors of Christian fiction, and I have read most of her books. When I learned that she had written a new one and that Jennifer was a prequel to the popular O’Malley series that she wrote several years ago, I couldn’t wait to read it. The O’Malley series focuses on the lives of seven adult siblings who had “adopted” each other by legally changing their last names to O’Malley after growing up together in an orphanage. Jennifer is the youngest of the seven and an integral part of the whole series. Jennifer is a love story that leaves off where book one in the series begins. Even though I knew how this book would end, I enjoyed reading this tender love story between Jennifer and Tom and learning how Jennifer developed a relationship with Jesus. This smaller, gift-sized book (154 pages) made for a light and quick read, which is perfect for summertime. The story is touching, moves quickly, and yet touches on difficult questions about faith and dealing with pain.

If you have never read the O’Malley series, this book will leave you hanging at the end. The author’s note at the end informs you that Jennifer’s story continues in the first book of the O’Malley series. While I loved the series and didn’t want it to end because I was so interested in the characters’ lives, I was eager to finish the series to find out how Jennifer’s story played out. If you are looking for a quick, light read but haven’t read the series, this book is probably not for you. I HAVE read the series, and Jennifer still left me wanting to read all of the books again! On the other hand, if you have read the series, you will enjoy this glimpse into the previous lives of two of the characters from the series. If you are looking for some new books to read, I would highly recommend beginning with the prequels Danger in the Shadows and Jennifer, then reading all six of the O’Malley books, and finishing up with Full Disclosure, in which we meet up again with some of the O’Malleys.

Bethany House Publishers sent me this book free upon my request and agreement to post a review (positive or negative) on my blog and on a retailer’s site. This review is my personal opinion and has not been influenced by the publisher.

Summer boredom & other stuff

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How much TV do you allow your children to watch each day? During the last month or two of my pregnancy and then after the babies were born, my older two children watched more TV than I care to admit. We have begun limiting them (again) to about an hour a day, but with the heat of summer approaching, I’m afraid my kids will spend more time in the house and I will gradually begin to allow more and more TV time. My son asked me so many times yesterday morning if he could watch TV that I made a new rule that there will be no TV until after 9:00 am. Your children may not even be up at that time, but mine are usually up before 7:00 am, so they’ve already had breakfast, completed their morning duties, and become bored by 8:00. LOL.

We have just started a new responsibility/allowance system that I read about here. The children have morning responsibilities, reading, cleaning, and practice to complete each day in order to earn their allowance each week. Since we only started a few days ago, I can’t tell you that it will be what we use forever, but the kids have been more responsible and complaining less. They are eager to check off their responsibilities on their chart each day. With this new system, we are currently requiring each child to read for 15 minutes each day and practice something (drawing, extra reading, writing, puzzles, math games, flash cards, etc.) for 15 minutes each day. I plan to increase the amount of time required for reading and practice as they grow accustomed to this new plan. The reason I mention all of this in this post is to share one way we are trying to combat summer boredom. What are some ways you keep your kids busy during the summer?

I LOVE to read, and I want my children to enjoy reading as well. We are learning about Japan, China, and India this week, so I checked out about 25 children’s books from our local library on these countries. Our son, who is an independent reader, has been enjoying some of these books during his reading time, our daughter enjoys looking at the pictures and “reading” to herself, and I have been reading them to the kids as well. Sunday afternoon, we just sat on the couch and read books for about 45 minutes. I think they enjoyed the “mommy time” as much as anything. One infant requires a lot of a mommy’s time and attention. Sadly, two infants don’t leave much of mommy for the older ones. This is something else I need to focus on this summer, which is another reason we are doing our own summer camps. I’m hoping all of this will help with their behavior as well, which has been atrocious.

Please leave me comments about TV time, summer activities, etc. I’m willing to try just about anything.

Book reviews

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Several months ago, I learned about book review programs, where publishers will send you new books to read and review on your blog and another site like Amazon. I love to read, and I love to get free stuff, so I signed up with Bethany House and reviewed a few books on my previous blog. I found a new favorite author (Kristen Heitzmann) through this program and discovered that my children and I enjoy listening to dramatized audio books in the car. If you are interested in becoming a book reviewer for Bethany House, click here. For other publishers, you can simply Google the publisher’s name with the words “book reviewer”. I received a new book in the mail yesterday, so I’ll be posting a review soon. I’m looking forward to telling you about this book!

The struggle

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As I watched one of my sweet girls fuss and struggle during tummy time this morning, I realized we go through similar struggles all our lives. Tummy time is important for this baby. It will strengthen her neck muscles and prepare her for the next stages of rolling and crawling. I stayed beside her and allowed her to fuss for a few minutes while she struggled to lift her head and roll over. I know she can do these things because she has done them many times and as recently as yesterday. For some reason this morning, she just couldn’t seem to get her head up off the bed. She was probably tired and maybe frustrated that I wouldn’t help her roll over or just pick her up, but I know how important tummy time is for her development. Eventually, she was able to lift her head up and look around, and she stopped fussing and smiled.

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Aren’t we like her at times in our lives? God is always with us, but he allows us to go through struggles and even listens when we complain about our struggles. Jesus assured us in John 16:33 that we will have trouble, but we can be sure of our future because he has overcome the world. It’s not a matter of if we will have struggles in this life; it’s just a matter of when, and God has promised that he will be with us through the struggles.

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.
For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior…
Do not be afraid, for I am with you.” (Isaiah 43:2-3a, 5a)

When we are down and struggling to lift our head up, we may wonder if God is really there and why he isn’t doing anything to ease our struggle. He is the all-powerful Creator of the universe after all and could lift us up, ease all our frustrations, and immediately restore us, but He allows us to go through the struggle because he knows it will strengthen us and prepare us for future struggles. If he never allowed us to go through struggles, we wouldn’t mature in our faith. I don’t enjoy the struggles, but hopefully one day I will be able to “consider it pure joy” as James advises us (James 1:2).

Art camp

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Our older two children (7 and 4 1/2 years old) wanted to do every camp they heard about this summer. With us moving this month and having two babies in tow, the thought of carting the older two around and waiting while they do camp did not sound appealing to me. I figured if I did similar activities with the kids at home, we could save some money and create some fun memories as a family. The kids were excited about doing summer “camps” at home, but they did ask if they could invite their friends, and I agreed to one friend for each child each week. My awesome mother-in-law agreed to come over and care for the babies for a couple of hours each day (three days a week) to allow me to do the activities with the older two.

I came across Thriving Family’s 2013 Summer Activity Calendar here. The short devotionals focus on a different continent each week in June and July, and I thought it would be great to have our summer camp activities focus on the same area of the world each of those weeks. This first week of June focused on Oceania. We started with art camp this week and painted similar to the way New Zealanders paint on barkcloth, made beaded jewelry like women in Papua New Guinea, and created mosaics like an artist and her children in Australia. Today we learned about ancient Aboriginal rock art in Kakadu National Park in Australia, and the kids painted on the pretend walls (brown craft paper taped to cardboard boxes) of our pretend cave/shelter (under the kitchen table and bar). It was fun, and we all learned a little more about Australia.

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