Tag Archives: twins

Kids in the Kitchen

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Kids in the Kitchen

Several years ago (before twins), my first two children enjoyed helping me cook, and I enjoyed teaching them. I took pictures of them and created a digital scrapbook with some of our favorite recipes at the time. I gave these to all the grandparents and great-grandparents for Christmas that year. We use this as a cookbook frequently in our home.

I had intended to create a new scrapbook each year, but life got busy, and we had more kids, and sometimes it was hard to cook at all. I had my son take this photo so I could look back on it one day and smile. It was so exasperating at the time to have two toddlers crying and clinging to me while I tried to cook dinner, but I knew it wouldn’t always be that way.

Once all four of the little people started asking to help in the kitchen with me, I was quickly overwhelmed. They all started doing different things, and I wasn’t ready! Oh, the messes! I was also stressed about not being able to keep an eye on each one for safety reasons. A wise friend told me she has her boys take turns helping her on different nights of the week. I need to work out a calendar for my children to take turns helping.

This evening, we had breakfast for dinner, and I decided to delegate some tasks to the kids. The twins went to the barn to get more eggs, and then they took turns whisking the eggs. Big brother wanted sausage, egg, and cheese burritos. The twins wanted pancakes, bacon, and scrambled eggs. (Big sister is staying the night with a friend.) Then the girls took turns mixing up the pancake batter and posing for some silly photos.

While the bacon cooked in the oven, I had the girls help cook the eggs in each pan. They swapped pans when the eggs were almost set. Silly girls! Big brother kept an eye on the bacon and removed it from the oven when it was done.

Once the girls had bacon and eggs, I started on the pancakes and let them start eating. It’s a little chaotic having two five year olds help with dinner, but their smiles make it worthwhile. Maybe I’ll start on volume two of our Kids in the Kitchen scrapbook series, but don’t look for it to be completed any time soon. At the rate I’m going, I won’t have enough photos for a cooking scrapbook for a few years! I need to get that cooking schedule for the kids figured out first.

Click here for a pancake recipe. We still use this basic recipe. Unfortunately, the girls prefer white flour and no flax seed in their pancakes, so we just use 1 1/2 cups of all purpose flour in place of the whole wheat flour and ground flax seed.

For the breakfast burritos, we use one pound of pork sausage, crumbled and browned on medium heat. Then we lower the heat and add a dozen scrambled eggs. Once the eggs are set, we add about 1 1/2 cups of freshly shredded cheese and stir until it starts to melt. Don’t cook it too long, or the cheese will melt completely, and you won’t be able to tell it’s in there. My son hates that. Enjoy!

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Family Fun

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Family Fun

My mom and step-father came to visit us today, and they spent some time with the kids in the pool. A couple of the kids wouldn’t cooperate for a group photo, so this was the best I could get. I’m glad they were able to come and spend the day with us.

This boy has had a growth spurt recently. He has grown two full inches since his birthday in January! He is now 5′ 4 1/4″, which means I’m only one inch taller than him, and he will be taller than me in a few months.

Big sister didn’t want her photo taken, but I was able to snag one with her carrying the watermelon ball. My kids love that silly ball, but they don’t play with it like the directions suggest. They like to play solo instead of a group game, which means they usually end up fighting over who gets to play with it.

Little sister was happy to pose for a photo with Grammy in the background. When we first started swimming again this year, the twins told me they needed more swimming lessons. They wore their puddle jumpers the first few times they swam, but they are jumping in and swimming across the pool now. They also love to throw dive rings and torpedos in the pool and dive to get them. Ms. Alisha taught them well the last three summers!

Sissy was too busy swimming and diving to stop for a photo. She kept asking me last week to teach her to swim on top of the water, so I tried helping her swim freestyle, but that’s not what she really wanted. Yesterday, I finally figured out that she wanted to learn to tread water and dog paddle. That was easy for her to learn.

Before we got in the pool, I asked my mom to take a photo of me and the kids. I had to convince big sis to change out of a hot pink shirt so we could all match. This photo shows the dramatic height difference between my oldest two children. They are only 2 1/2 years apart but 12 inches apart in height! Big sis is 4 1/2 years older than the twins but only six to seven inches taller than them. We literally take clothes from her closet and pass them directly to the girls now. I expect all the girls to be in the same size clothing at some point in the near future unless big sis has a sudden growth spurt.

We had fun as a family today. I hope you were able to enjoy some time with your family today too!

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.  

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.