Tag Archives: twins

If You Can’t Beat Them, Join Them

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If You Can’t Beat Them, Join Them

I get so frustrated when I wake up early to work out and my little girls get up before I can finish or, sometimes, even start working out.  Today was one of those mornings.  I woke up at 6:00 am and got ready to work out.  I remembered that I needed to post an answer key for my students’ weekend homework, and while I was doing that, I heard a little voice yelling for me.  She woke her sister, and neither one of them would go back to sleep because they were hungry.  I don’t understand how they can be hungry before the sun rises after eating dinner at 9:00 pm the night before, but I gave them each a bowl of cereal, thinking I could still work out while they were eating.  They saw their “thumbs up” coloring sheets (from gymnastics) on the table and asked for crayons so they could color them.  After last week’s crayon catastrophe (see photos below), I wasn’t about to leave them alone with crayons.  

Little Sister said she was trying to draw circles on the floor.


I made her pose with her “artwork”.

She said she drew a butterfly on this wall.

It took her a long time, but she was able to remove most of the crayon off the floors and baseboards by herself. The walls had to be repainted, and my husband spent awhile working on the grout in the kitchen.

So I stayed in the kitchen and put away dishes, started working on our September menu, and ate breakfast.  Then, the girls wanted to go outside, and after a few minutes, they asked if we could go for a walk, which means they ride their bicycles while I jog along beside them and then push them up hills and over all bumpy, rocky, and uneven areas.  I get a good workout doing this, so we went for a “walk” for about 30 minutes.  

They took their babies along for the ride.


We need to work on losing the training wheels, so I don’t have to stop and push them every time they get stuck. Big Brother rode without training wheels at 4 years and 3 months. Big Sister rode without them at 4 years and 11 months. Three years and six months might be a little early, but I may try it when it gets a little cooler.  

After our “walk”, I was not as grumpy as I was earlier this morning.  I felt that if I made the effort to get up early, I should have been able to work out.  I need to remember when I can’t beat them in the mornings, I should just let them join me in exercising.  It’s definitely better than not exercising at all.  

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Daily Checklists to Teach Children to Manage Money

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Daily Checklists to Teach Children to Manage Money

When our older two kids were younger, I struggled with the idea of simply giving children an allowance (for doing nothing) or paying them to do certain chores (I don’t struggle with that anymore). I believe our children should contribute to the care of their home because they are a part of our family, but they are also entitled to a small portion of our income because they are a part of our family.  I wasn’t sure how to manage the children’s chores and allowance until I found an interesting blog through Pinterest. 

I love searching Pinterest for anything having to do with crafts, school, health, and food.  I sometimes use Pinterest instead of Google because I know I will be more likely to find the desired information.  One such search directed me to 71 Toes and their weekly checklists for children.  The concept is fairly simple.  Each child has a checklist of tasks to complete each weekday.  If they complete all of their tasks for the week, they will receive their age in dollars on Saturday or Sunday.  If they fail to complete one or two tasks, they will receive half of their age in dollars.  They will receive no money for not completing three or more. They are allowed to memorize a scripture verse or passage (parent’s choice) to make up for one task.


The four areas of tasks are as follows. 

  • Morning work:  make bed, pick up bedroom floor, brush teeth, eat breakfast, get ready to go (if necessary)
  • Reading:  read for a minimum of 15 minutes each day
  • Practice:  practice something for at least 15 minutes each day (examples below)
  • Zone:  clean one area of the house (see below)

Practice can be as simple as writing a letter to a friend or loved one, playing a game (Scrabble, Quirkle, Monopoly, Dominoes, Yahtzee, Uno, etc.), playing an educational game on a computer or iPad, practicing flash cards, or practicing spelling words.  Big Brother plays baseball and practices hitting with a pitching machine.  Big Sister used to practice her cartwheels at home for gymnastics.  The little girls practiced painting (fine motor skills) with Grandmother yesterday.  My kids usually check with me first to make sure something will count for their practice before they start.  As long as I can see some developmental or educational value in their activity, I usually approve–unless they want to do something extremely messy or that will require me to be involved for an extended period of time. 

We have only recently developed the zone into something that works well for our family.  At first, I only had the two older children completing checklists, so we only had two zones, which were usually 1) pick up the living room and 2) pick up the game room.  Those were the days when the twins were babies/toddlers and the floors were their playground.  When the twins were a little over three, we tried the checklists, but they were a little young to understand the concept.  They would complete a zone together, usually with my help.  I came up with five different chores that need to be completed more than once a week and put them on a wheel that I rotate on weekdays to give each child a new zone.  Today, the twins decided they each want a separate zone to complete on their own, so I have to create a new wheel.  


I started out with each child (the older two at the time) having a checklist on a half-sheet of paper like the mom at 71 Toes, but I didn’t want to tape or tack the sheets to our brand new (at the time) walls.  I created a family command center around this time and used a magnetic clip to display their sheets on one sheet of paper.  Once the twins wanted a checklist, I found a way to fit all four on one sheet.  They are small, but it’s easy to see who has empty boxes at a glance. 


 The purpose of the checklists is to teach children how to manage their money.  Big Brother can earn up to $10 a week.  He must save 10% and give 10% to our church, so he has a check register where we record his savings each week, and we keep that cash for him.  Big Sister can earn up to $8 each week.  She loves Starbursts and bubble gum, but she must buy those things with her own money, so she has to budget, save, and figure out tax on her purchase.  The little girls quickly learn that $3 doesn’t buy much, so they are learning the value of a dollar.  The family from 71 Toes requires their children to pay for half of all their clothing (except underwear, socks, and Sunday dress clothes) once they reach the age of twelve.  We haven’t reached that point yet, so I’ll update when we figure out if that will work for our family.  

I’m sure I have forgotten something to explain about this system, but you can ask me questions in a comment or go to 71 Toes to read her explanation and see what they do differently.  This is a wonderful system that works well as long as you (the parent) remember to have cash (plenty of ones) every weekend. Otherwise, your kids feel like they aren’t being rewarded for their checklists and quit completing their tasks.  (I know this from personal experience.) 

A Minor Setback

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I’m thankful for my new support system and accountability that had me up by 6:00 this morning and on the elliptical before the kids were awake.  Sissy told me she didn’t feel well around 8:00 am, and Little Sister followed suit a few minutes later.  I was able to get them to the doctor this morning, and they both have strep yet again.  Sissy seems worse this time because she is vomiting and doesn’t usually have that symptom.  


So I’m reading a book while the girls watch a Thomas DVD we got at the library earlier this week.  It’s a good thing I worked out before I found out they were sick.  I should still be able to meet my step goal for the day, and I completed my 30 Days challenges, so I can just hold my babies until they feel better.  

Please say a prayer for them.  They have had strep several times in the past year and probably should have their tonsils removed, but I’m hesitant to do so.  Let me know if you have been in this situation and found a way to avoid surgery and prevent recurring strep infections.  Thank you! 

A Weighty Matter

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A Weighty Matter

I have been debating whether or not to share this with everyone, but I need some accountability, and I think being honest with you about my weight will push me to finally lose the extra pounds I have put on over the last five years.


I have never before in my life weighed this much unless I was pregnant or postpartum, but I have been stuck at this weight for a few months now, and the twins are three years old.  I used to run or work out on our elliptical several days a week and got down to my lowest adult weight of 122 pounds in late 2010, but I let the weight sneak back on until I weighed 135 pounds in 2012.  Then I found out I was expecting twins, and I had to stop all exercise except walking.  I grew lazy, and then having twins changed everything.  I am a stress eater, and having four kids is stressful.  A trip to the store with all of them warrants a treat, right?  I’m trying to work out and lose weight, but I don’t have the motivation to get out of bed at 5:00 am or the self-control to eat less.   I need a challenge, competition, and/or accountability, so here I am laying it all out there.  Someone, please challenge me or hold me accountable.  My goal is to lose five pounds a month in August, September, October, and November.  Would any of you like to join me?

My fitness plan:

  • work out on our elliptical at least three days a week
  • use my 30 Days app to challenge myself to complete crunches, push-ups, leg raises, and planks
  • wear my Fitbit and take at least 10,000 steps a day

My nutrition plan:

  • eat less than 1800 calories a day
  • track food eaten throughout the day
  • drink at least 72 ounces of water a day


I had my oldest daughter take photos of me this morning in tighter clothing than I feel comfortable in, but I’m hoping they will show the changes in my body as I lose weight and get in shape.  My main complaint is my belly, but I need to slim down everywhere and tone my muscles.  I will post photos to show my progress as I change my lifestyle to become healthier.   
If you would like to join me on this journey, please comment and let me know.  It will help me stay motivated if I know I’m not alone.

My Starting Weight ~ July 26, 2016

Once upon a time…

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Once upon a time…

Big Sister was the little sister, and she had these two pair of pajamas that she loved to wear because they were comfortable and cute.  

She was two years old, and we weren’t planning to have any more children, so we gave away the pajamas and never thought about them again.  
Then, one day last week, my sister was at a garage sale and found some little girl clothes and sent them to our house with my mom who came for a visit last weekend.  The little girls were trying the “new” clothes on with Grammy, and they came into the kitchen to show me.  I couldn’t believe they had the same pajamas on as their big sister had worn five years earlier!  Sweet memories.

I couldn’t get the girls to pose for a photo together except to do this:  

They are so silly!

A Work in Progress

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A Work in Progress

We moved into our house almost three years ago.  Our twins were just four months old at the time, and I spent every nap time unpacking and finding places for all of our things.  We hung artwork and arranged furniture and other decor.  I have since purchased a few more things for the walls, so that I feel like the main living areas are almost complete.  However, the twins’ room was a nursery for more than a year and had a completely different look than it does now.  We slowly transitioned to big girl beds and away from the nursery decor.  I have been working on the furniture for the girls’ room, but now it’s time to focus on the decor.  
I made several pillows today for their room.  I bought a remnant of this gorgeous pink rosette fabric at a great price probably two years ago.  It is so soft and luxurious.  My girls love it.  I made two small rectangular pillows that have the pink rosette on one side and a floral print on the reverse.  The triangular pillows were sewn at Sissy’s request. 

 I have purchased most of the materials I need to make their new curtains, and I will work on those this week and post photos when they are hung.  The pillow with the printed fabric coordinates with the fabric we chose for their curtains.  Who would have thought three-year-olds would have a strong opinion about their curtains?!?   

 Next on my list, is rearranging the wall hangings.  I moved one of them over the chest of drawers I finished last weekend, so now the others need new homes.

 This little one has nothing on the huge wall above her bed, so I will move some of the wall decor over to this wall, but I will need more.  I have an idea for some very unique and personal artwork for their room.  We will see how it turns out.  

This little corner area is also on my to do list, and I can’t wait to reveal what I have planned for this little nook.  It will be fabulous!

Bassinet Makeover

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Bassinet Makeover

Almost forty years ago, my parents took a trip with my maternal grandparents to Madeira, which is an island located southwest of Portugal.  My grandpa had earned a trip for two through his company, and my parents were able to purchase the same trip for a great price from another man who earned but couldn’t take the trip.  While in Madeira, they went with a tour group to visit a wicker factory up in the mountains, and my mom was hoping to find a bassinet for her future children.  The bassinet they found was too big to take back with them, so my parents got back on the bus without one.  When my dad saw how disappointed my mom was, he took her back to the factory and bought it.  They were somehow able to get it on the bus and the airplane.  My mom says it’s a good thing wicker is lightweight because everyone in their group had bought so much that they all breathed a sigh of relief when their plane managed to lift off the short runway.

 Nearly four decades later, this wicker bassinet is still in good condition even though it spent several years in the attic when I was a kid.  When I was in high school, my mom remarried and we moved to another house.  The bassinet ended up in my bedroom, where I stored blankets, stuffed animals, and dolls.  Years later, my mom made a new mattress, fitted sheets, bumper pad, and skirt for the bassinet, and my firstborn slept in it many times.  

 We used the bassinet again when we had the twins because you can never have enough safe places to lay a baby down when you have two on your hands.  I remember in the early days when I was trying to nurse one baby and bottle-feed the other, I placed Sissy in the bassinet, propped her up with blankets, and positioned the bottle, so she could eat while I nursed her sister.  

  
Now, all my babies are getting big, and we haven’t needed the bassinet in a few years.  In fact, I had forgotten about it until I saw it in the attic a few weeks ago when I was up there looking for a flower pot.  I had been trying to figure out what to put in the girls’ room to keep all their stuffed animals off the floor, and I knew this bassinet would be perfect.  Fortunately, my husband had wrapped it in plastic bags, so it was fairly clean.  I wiped it off and placed it in the girls’ room to see how it looked.   

I felt the color didn’t look well in their room, so I consulted my friend from Blue Happy Living to see what she would use to paint wicker.  She recommended Valspar spray paint, so I went to Lowe’s and bought their Project Perfect paint in white.  The first Lowe’s I went to only had this paint in flat, and I was afraid I had made a terrible decision in painting this after one coat.   

Fortunately, my mother-in-law found this paint in satin finish at a different Lowe’s, and after a few more coats, I was quite pleased with the results.   

I think the light color looks better in the girls’ room, and they love having this piece of furniture in their room.   They can put their baby dolls to bed in the bassinet, and it’s just the right height for them to play mommy.  

At the end of the day, I can throw all of their stuffed animals in the bassinet to quickly pick up their room.  This piece of furniture is serving two purposes and now looks great in their room.  This was my first furniture project, and it took more time and paint (4 cans!) than I thought it would, but it was worth the effort.  I am currently working on another project for the girls’ room and should finish by this weekend.  I’ll share those photos next week.   

  

Nap Mat Success!

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Nap Mat Success!

  I finished both nap mats by 2:00 pm today.  I’m so thankful to have them finished and ready for the girls to take to school next week, and I was able to complete them using things I had already.  A no-spend month forces you to be creative!

 They turned out well, and the girls love them.  I’m glad to use up some of the bulky supplies I’ve been storing for years:  1-inch thick foam (3 years), fleece (9 years), fabric (2-6 years), fiber fill (1 year). 

 I changed a couple of things from the original nap mat tutorial.  I had some brown canvas webbing left from another project, so I used that instead of making the tubes and using elastic, which saved me some time.    

 I also had the fleece leftover from when I used it for a newborn backdrop for taking photos of my son, so I used that instead of minky fabric.  Minky is so hard to sew, and the fleece was thicker, so I didn’t double it like I would have with the minky, which saved me time and money.  The mat on the left was made using fabric left from when I made drapes for Big Sister’s room several years ago, and that is what Sissy picked.  The mat on the right was made using fabric my husband bought for me on his last mission trip to Ghana, and that is what Little Sister wanted to use.

 After making a dozen of these, I have learned a few tricks too, like pressing the 1/2-inch seam allowance on the open edge before sewing the other three sides together. 

 I also had to make some modifications due to this sweet girl tearing up the foam yesterday, so her mat is a few inches shorter, but it is still long enough for her.

 

No-Spend Month: Day 2

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No-Spend Month: Day 2

Wonderful fall weather has finally come to our area, and we are enjoying it!  Playing at the park is free, so we stopped by on our way home from school this afternoon. 

 

  • Hubby had a breakfast meeting, which means he ate a big breakfast and wasn’t hungry for lunch, so there was no money out of our pocket.  Yea!
  • Big Brother ate a hot lunch at school that we paid for last week.  Big Sister packed her own lunch.  The little girls and I ate leftovers and fresh fruit and veggies.  I’m hoping our garden continues producing tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, and cantaloupe through the end of the month. 
  • We are having chicken fajitas, chips and salsa, and cantaloupe for dinner.  I need to share my October dinner menu.  Maybe it will help someone. 
  • I have always hated any kind of shopping, and it has only become more loathsome with children, so I am enjoying staying home and not going to any stores.  Keeps me from being tempted to buy unnecessary items too. Win-win. 
  • I almost forgot to mention that I sold something else for $2, so we netted $2 today.  So far this month, we are making money.

This doesn’t have much to do with our no-spend month, except that I was craving bread this morning, and we didn’t have any in the house.  I created a new bread recipe based on this French bread recipe that I have made so often in the last six months that I have it memorized.  The original recipe is so versatile, and I have made it with all white flour, with half white and half whole wheat, and once I even added a few oats.  I have formed the dough into one large French loaf, two smaller loaves, dinner rolls, garlic knots, and cinnamon rolls.  This morning, I wanted to try making a multigrain bread, and it turned out wonderfully delicious.  The little ones loved it too! 

  

 The girls had flattened their bread by the time I was able to get this picture of Little Sister.  All the other photos were blurry because they were too busy eating to let me take a photo. 

Honey Multigrain Bread

1/3 cup honey

1 1/2 TBSP yeast or one packet

1 1/2 cups warm water (100-110 degrees)

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour

1 cup old-fashioned oats

1/2 cup ground flaxseed

1/2 tsp salt

Combine honey, yeast, and water; stir and let rest for ten minutes.  Add remaining ingredients and mix with a stand mixer or by hand several minutes until dough is no longer sticky and pulls away from the bowl.  You may need to add a little more white flour if your dough is sticky.  Turn dough onto a floured surface and lightly dust dough and hands with flour.  Form dough into whatever shape you choose (I made rolls) and place on a lightly greased baking sheet or dish.  Place baking sheet in a warm location and preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Let dough rise about 15 minutes; then bake for 10-15 minutes, depending on size of rolls/loaves.  Melt a tablespoon of butter and brush over tops after removing from oven.  Enjoy! 

   

No-Spend Month: Day 1

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So not much happened financially today, which is a good thing. 

  • I gave my husband $5 out of what I had saved because he had plans to eat lunch at one of the fire stations.  
  • Today was a homeschool day for our older two, so I didn’t go anywhere and had no temptation to spend money.
  • My son ran an errand with his grandmother and tried to talk her into taking him to McDonald’s to buy two apple pies, but she texted me and asked if he could do that.  He had his own money, BUT this was a nonessential purchase, AND he had chosen to go run an errand WHILE I was preparing lunch for all of us, so I said no.
  • I sold two more items on Facebook and banked another $20, so we netted $15 for day one.  Good start!
  • We had beef tater tot casserole, broccoli, shells and cheese (for the kids), mandarin oranges, and blackberries for dinner.  I fed nine people tonight (lol) and still had two servings of the casserole leftover for lunch tomorrow or this weekend. 

I guess I should explain why there were nine of us at dinner.  A few months ago, I started paying a teenager down the road to babysit the twins at our house for two hours a week while I was home so I could do things (like cook dinner) without having to run after them everywhere.  My mother-in-law offered to keep the girls for free every afternoon while I cook dinner, so I offered to feed her and my father-in-law dinner every night.  This arrangement has worked out very well for all of us because I enjoy cooking for others and having a full house.  So we normally have eight at our table most evenings, but Big Brother had a friend over this afternoon who stayed for dinner, so that made nine tonight. 

Here is a photo of the little ones holding hands as we were making our way into Walmart last Friday.  (Don’t let their cuteness fool you. They are double trouble!)

I was thinking this was our last shopping trip before October, but I think I went back to Walmart Monday and to Costco on Tuesday.  Goodness!  This is why we need to do a no-spend month.