"Oh You Have YOUR Hands Full..."

Ninety-eight percent of the time, this is what people say to me when they see me with twins and a two year old.  I just smile and nod..."yep, they keep me busy."  
 It's been a while since I've written about twin-life, they will be 10 months old in a few days.  Life is immeasurably better than it was 7 months ago, and 10 months ago for that matter.  I keep them on the same schedule for eating, sleeping, and playtime.  We've started to notice differences in their personalities and the "Nature vs. Nurture" issues are quite obvious.  Jadah is content to play by herself and is overall more playful.  She loves being tossed and standing on Simon's hand (like we did with Christian).  Selah is clingy and follows me from room to room whining.  She tenses up and starts to cry when lifted in the air, and refuses to stand on Simon's hand.  So even though we do everything the same with them, they are obviously not the same.  
It amuses us that Jadah loves to crawl on top of Selah.  And Selah hates it.  Maybe they're trying to recreate the womb... Jadah was on top.  Either way, it is cute:

And look what Jadah can do:
I can't believe it!...it seems like yesterday she couldn't sit up, and now she stands there all on her own (not for very long though).  She is also crawling "normal" now... both the girls have been army crawling for a few months.  Jadah has four teeth, Selah is working on her third.  And I keep thinking that I'll stop carrying them two-at-a-time soon, but somehow I just keep doing it.  It is nice now that they can stand in their cribs and reach for me, it makes the picking up process MUCH simpler.  Scoop #1.  Scoop #2.  Down the stairs we go... (unfortunately, the setting down process isn't always as smooth, we've had a few mild flops along the way). 
Sometimes we sit here and wonder how we ended up with two babies at one time.  It is a new adventure raising two at a time instead of one.  We are filled with joy when we look at our three little ones, something you understand perfectly if you have your own children.  It is a blast to watch them grow and learn new things each day, literally. 
One thing I know for sure, we are one happy blessed family!


New Look for the New Year

I know, I know, an expected title.  But something new is always nice.  
Soon I'll share some of the nice things that are new to our home since Christmas!
A Belated Merry Christmas!


Something fun to make for next year...

Just saw this on a blog I read (thingsorganizedneatly.com), and will need to remember it for next year...


Sent to you by Rachel via Google Reader:



Things you can do from here:



Road Trip with Mama

Simon had a week-long trip for work, so instead of staying home with the three little ones, I decided to load them up and take them with me to visit some friends in the vicinity of Lancaster, PA.  It had been a while since I took a trip like this by myself (went a few times to my parent's over the summer), but I needed some time with other adults, especially familiar faces and old friends. 

My trip was delayed when Christian ended up getting a fever the night before we were to leave.  We were up a few times during the night, and he moped around and laid on the couch the next day (SOOO unlike him, I sort of enjoyed it!). 
But I still wanted to leave that day, so that night, after getting all the kids ready for bed and giving the girls their last bottle, I loaded them up and made the 2 hour drive to my cousin Judith's house.  Judith is married to Joel, and they have two daughers, Kaelyn and Janessa.  Get this:  Judith and I are one month apart, and our kids are each one month apart (in case that confused you, Christian and Kaelyn are a month apart, and my girls and Janessa are a month apart). 

Christian still wasn't feeling great that night and greeted Kaelyn with a soft punch in the face.  Yeah.  That pretty much set his tone for the entire trip: how is it that he chooses to be the most defiant and selfish child the week that I'm visiting people?!  Honestly, it was such a challenge with him.  He probably got more whallops on this trip than all his previous ones combined.  But I didn't want to give up and let him have his own way, he will not beat me, I am in charge.  My hosts were all gracious and understanding enough, even through decapitated snowmen, unshared toys, and uneaten food.  Many thanks to each of you.

I stayed at Judith's the whole time, and each day visited a different friend.  I thought they all lived closer to each other, but after getting directions, it turned out that they each lived about an hour from my starting point.  What little troopers my children are... 2 hours each day in the car, for 4 days straight.  Surprisingly though, car-time was when they were the best and I was just hauling three sleeping bodies around Pennsylvania. 

First I got to visit the lovely Rachel (Carr) McGlynn, whom I had not seen since 2007!  How refreshing to catch up!  You also served up some awesome Cheeseburger Soup (which I made a few days ago!).  Unfortunately, I have yet to meet your husband.  Someday...

Second, I visited Melissa (Davis) Koonce, a friend from church during high school, and I got to meet her husband, Mike.  You guys were so sweet to let me barge in on your work (and sleep)(Melissa is a nurse)!  You get the award for creative children's food: cookie cutters to cut Christians sandwich into fun shapes!  [Not even his mom does that].   So good to see you!

Finally, I stopped in Harrisburg on my way home and had a super sweet visit with Annie (Miller) Phillips, also a friend from high school and college.  Her new little dog Flynn must've had enough after five minutes, because he departed to his crate and slept for the remainder of our visit.  I was so glad you had off work and could let us come to see you, you were such a laid back and joyous host!
Judith and I (and our kids) got to spend a lot of fun time together doing the "mom thing."  It's always good to see other mommy tricks and have playmates for your kids.  Christian finally got a little nicer the last day we were there, and wasn't bad the entire time.  I'm glad he had the interaction (he obviously needs to learn more about it!).  In addition to rearranging their sleeping conditions, Judith also made us some yummy meatballs and fed us, well, me in particular, some delicious peppermint cookies and brownies.  Thanks so much for your hospitality!  It was crazy fun!

Oh yeah, and even with all the challenges of traveling with 3 children, one of whom is a 2 year old that is probably making your hair gray, I would totally do it all again.  Don't you want me to come visit YOU?


Reader Opinion: Dish-Washing Hands

I'm happy, my dishes are getting washed every day!  But I'm feeling the repercussions all day long in my hands: they are so dry!  This is the first time in my life that I've had hands this dry  (I thought only my mom and sister dealt with it!...maybe they were busy washing the dishes all the time?). 

So here's my inquiry: what are your best ways to keep your hands soft and moisturized in these blustery winter months?

Thanks for your help!
PS- this post and the one preceding it are dedicated to my Father-in-Law, who proclaimed while seeing me load my dishwasher, "I could have had all the dishes washed in that time."  You got me thinking! Thanks!

Oh the Dishes

I haven't used my dishwasher ever since I read this post about washing dishes by hand.  If you have been contemplating the "dishwasher vs. hand-washing" issue as I had been, then this is a must read. 

 {source unknown}

My game plan consists of washing the dishes each night as soon as the kids are in bed.  It isn't realistic for me to wash them after each meal since I have 3 little ones ready to move on to the next thing.  But once a day is a good place to start.  I had been spending so much time rinsing all the dishes, loading the washer, running the washer, unloading the washer, blah blah blah. 

The hardest part for me was keeping it unloaded.  I would have a whole new loads-worth sitting on my counter, but the washer had yet to be emptied.  I still have to put the dishes away now, but it is so much easier since they are already sitting in the drying rack (no, I do not towel-dry my dishes...I let air work for me on this one).  Sometimes I put a few away throughout the day, or all at once when I get a chance.

Another thing I am loving is that I get to wipe down my counters and table each night.  No more grimy food getting stuck overnight.  This also forces me to put away other clutter that may have gathered on my counters. 

I am not totally anti-dishwasher though... either when guests eat over, or if our family continues to grow, a dishwasher may cut down on the time (and hopefully there would be more people to help load/unload!). 

So for now, I'll be hand-washing our dishes.  But I have one dilemma... check out my next post.


Bulletin Board Makeover

I saw a fun idea over at Budget Wise Home (a great starting point for DIY home crafts/decor) a few weeks ago and decided to get crafty.
My bulletin board was looking a little outdated, so it got spruced up.

And after!...

Much better.  I used some leftover fabric from the diaper bag I made a year ago, and also had the ribbon and spray paint from other projects.  It only took a few minutes spread throughout one morning, Christian even "helped' with the whole thing.  
For the details, go to the instructions here.

Recently, I have been using every spare moment to finish painting in my kitchen.  I can't wait to share the pictures with you!  I tried something new, and it's turning out pretty swell.  
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3 in a Tub

Happy Belated Thanksgiving!
I've been a busy little bee for the last week and a half.  My parents came to visit and I had a to-do list a mile long.  The primary task was to paint my kitchen and dining room... so I was highly focused on that for a few days (yes, days, these things take a while when you can only work while your children sleep).  I still have a little bit to do, but my parents are gone now, no more live-in babysitters, it will take some planning.  Thanks for your help, mom and dad!

We have a new nightly ritual.  Now that the girls can sit up, bath time has become much easier... and I can do 2 at a time.

Oh wait, make that 3:
They seem to really enjoy it and it makes things easier (for now).  Sorry for the naked pictures.
Here's a picture of our house:
And here's one thankful happy mama:
A quick update on Simon's job.  He has passed the Series 7 (yay!), and has another test this week.  He has been busy studying and preparing for the work ahead (going door to door to find clients).  He will be working out of an office in Hagerstown during this time, and will open his own office within a year or two.  He's about to enter the toughest part of the job (building a client base), but we have to remember that it is only for a time and God is in control.  Your prayers for his success and my sanity (being alone a lot with the kids) are always appreciated.  
In closing, Selah discovered the act of clapping this morning.  Once we got to church, she was clapping when the music started.  Totally made my day.  


Prep for the Holidays!

My parents arrive tomorrow from Indiana.  Got me thinking about cleaning up around the house... here is a helpful read from Simple Mom if you plan to have guests this holiday season!

Preparing for Guests

What about you?  Planning on visitors anytime soon?


Look What I Won!

I'm subscribed to almost 50 blogs on Google Reader...keeps me busy for a few evenings of the week.  They are blogs of friends, interior design, sewing, and mom stuff.  Anyway, those "professional" bloggers have pretty good giveaways, and like, a million people comment to win.  But guess what, I finally won a giveaway!!!  I couldn't believe it when I saw my name!  Looky what I won...
 This super wonderful pillow from Alice Lane Home.  And the best part: the price tag.  My jaw literally fell open when I saw it.  I won't tell you how much the $123 tag was for.(!)  I think this pillow just became a family heirloom.  Anyway, hope you get to win a giveaway sometime too!


Reader Opinion: Drinking Glasses

Here's the situation:  I was given these glasses (someone just getting rid of them), and I'm not sure if I should keep them or not.  I definitely don't need them, and don't necessarily know when I would use them, but if you all think they are FABULOUS, then I might rethink that. :)  Let me know what you would do with them!


Reader Opinion: Early Mornings

I've decided to add a new genre of blog posts entitled "Reader Opinion."  I'll use these whenever I want your advice or thoughts on something. 

My first plea: any ideas on how to get kids to sleep in later in the morning?  Before the time change, they all got up at 7, but obviously now that is 6.  Christian wakes up because he has to go to the bathroom and the girls each mess their diapers.  I don't know if there is a way to get those "bodily cycles" to delay?  It seems like they still wake up at the same time even when we put them to bed a little later at night.  Thoughts?


Ordering Online

I just sent an email to someone about ordering items online, and thought I'd share it with you all too!  If you have young kids (or if you have internet), check these out!

These are websites where I've purchased household items and diapers.  I'll try to fill you in on what I've learned, and you can go from there!
But first, just a few general tips:
-I ALWAYS buy the biggest box of diapers available... and I use them all up, even if they start to get small.  You get a better price per diaper this way.  Also, the bigger the diaper, the more you pay per diaper.  So right now, my twins could probably fit in size 4, but I am going to keep buying size 3 as long as possible because I get about 20 more diapers in a box with the smaller size. 
-Always buy wipes in bulk, and use them to refill your plastic containers.
-I like buying big things online, like toilet paper, bulk paper towels, and detergent.  These things take up a lot of room in a cart at the store, so why not have it brought right to your door? :)

The first place I started ordering diapers is diapers.com.   The nice thing here is that if you use this code:  SIMX7667    ... you will save 15% on your first order (and I will get $10 off my next order! yay!).   With this site, you have to spend $49 to get free shipping.  So I'd usually buy 1 or 2 boxes of diapers, or a box of diapers and some wipes or a sippy cup, etc (something random that I might need).   Diapers.com now has a sister site called Soap.com!  I have only ordered from them once, but it works the same way but it has household items.  Nifty!--- you can get everything at one site!

Second, I have used Alice.com for a few things.  They have free shipping as long as you have 6 items in your cart.  Nothing extremely special about their prices, but they do have online coupons for certain items.  I haven't used alice as much recently.  When I do use it, it's usually for toilet paper, paper towels, or kitchen stuff (foil, seran wrap, etc).  Now that there is Soap.com, I don't know if I'll use alice.

Lastly, and most recently, I've been using Amazon.com/diapers.  I don't know if it is still going on, but they had a special deal that if I signed up to have diapers sent automatically (I choose 1 box every 2months), then I got like, 40% off every order of diapers!  Amazing!  So take a look at their site and see if you can find a similar deal.  It is called "Subscribe and Save".   So the box of diapers that normally costs me $37 has been costing me $29.  That's a good deal. :)  It also has free 2 day shipping on diapers.

Well I hope that helps you out!  I love getting these items dropped off at my house.  Especially when I realize I'm going to run out of diapers soon, but I cant' get to the store!--- order on a Wednesday, and you usually get diapers on Friday!


Time In!

I guess once you take a break from blogging, you sort of get out of the habit.  It's been 3 weeks since we loaded the truck in Indiana.  I don't know whether if feels like 2 days or 2 years ago, but either way, time is passing.  The move went very well and we have some terrific people to thank for all their help!  The kids did pretty well on the drive (it made a huge difference since the girls are now old enough to play with toys!). A big thanks to Simon's parents for flying out to help us pack and make the drive!

We really love our new house!  God answered our prayers and provided a place bigger than we had before and for an affordable price.  And He must know I need a creative outlet: we have the same situation with our landlord as we did in our last house: we can update all we want!  My mind has been busy.

Simon started his new "job" 2 days after we moved in.   His "job" for the next 2 months is to study like crazy to pass the certification test to be a financial advisor.  He showed me some of the stuff he is learning: the words appear to be in English, but I gotta tell ya, the words make no sense.  More power to him.

Another blessing was the my parents happened to be coming to PA the same weekend we were moving in.  So my mom stayed for a week and helped me unpack.  God knows she needed that time with me her grandchildren. 
I haven't had much of a social life lately, but I'm hoping to try a MOPS group next week.  The fact that I pretty much have no friends here will probably start to surface soon.  Right now it still feels like a long vacation and I get to see all my "Marion Mommies" again soon.  Bummer...not so soon.  Regardless, I am getting a lot lot lot of time with my three little munchkins, whom I seem to love more all the time.
CHRISTIAN: is pretty much a little grown up now.  Still working on potty-training.  His smile has changed: it is a lovely thing.
GIRLS: they both got their first teeth within 1 day of each other.  Jadah got the bottom left, Selah the bottom right.  They sit up on their own.  They are never in the same spot if I leave the room and come back.  Folks, we have mobile babies here.  We're adjusting to having a house with 2 stories.  At this point, I'm still carrying both of them up and down, but they're probably about 20 pounds each... might have to come up with a new plan soon.  They're eating pretty well and sleeping just fine.

Okay, it is late.  I need to get some sleep.  I posted a lot of pictures on facebook (easier than choosing a few to put here).  But soon I'll add some pictures of our house so that you can picture us in our new abode.



Time Out

A beautiful day for moving!!!

This will be my last post for a little while.  Next time, from Maryland!

Hopefully we start feeling healthy again.  Poor Christian is the worst.  Threw up for the first time in his bed 2 nights ago.  When we went in, he kept saying "I spit."  And then another 2 times after that.  And then in the car on the way to Indy to pick up Simon's parents.  And then diarrhea blowouts too.  Oh fun.  TMI?  Sorry.

The truck is being loaded as I write, and I have a lot to do.  BYE!


The Week Has Arrived

Today was our last morning in our church.  It was the first time the reality of what is about to happen  has sunk in.   I am sad to leave, this place has become our home.  The people, not the place, are what make a place so wonderful.  
Last night we were able to have our dear college friends over.  Our evening, full of laughter (mainly at Christian, such a ham!) and good food, ended with all of them praying for Simon and I as we make this transition to Maryland.  Who could ask for better friends?  We know they will be lifelong.
This afternoon we are headed to our last get-together with our small group from church, another amazing group of friends.  How ever will we make new friends?!  We have been so blessed by the people in our lives.  But in time, I know we will.
Our garage is full of boxes and there is still enough packing and cleaning left to keep me busy for the next 3 days.  Simon's parents are flying here on Wednesday, we load the truck Thursday, drive to Maryland on Friday, and unload on Saturday.  One week from this very moment, I will be in my new home: 500 miles away.



Not hamburgers, silly reader.
Luke and Tracy Burger! They were our only other married friends during college, but upon graduation, they headed to San Diego and have found it to suit them quite well. Their families still live around Indy, so when they came for a visit, we tracked them down and got together.
Lucky for us, they love kids. :) (doesn't the sky look really cool in this picture?)
Watching a soccer game (it was cold... oh, and Christian peed his pants while standing on that bench. eehh):
And they were so sweet to let us come along to their family cookout. (with reeeaaallly good food too)(do you like the way 3 of those words had double "o's"?)
We had a lovely time visiting!

We are now busy packing and preparing to move to Maryland.
Countdown: 12 days. 

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Yummy Veggies

In the last post, I said that Selah was eating better and always finished her bottle first. I think they must've snuck out in the middle of the night and read my post, because the day after writing it, they completely switched roles. Now Jadah has been faster, and is also doing better with a spoon, while Selah just wants to eat her fingers the whole time. Oh girls.
The thing that made the difference for Jadah was starting real food instead of just rice cereal. For convenience, I started with store-bought stuff, but now I am making my own(starting with sweet potatoes, squash, and carrots). Anyway, while eating lunch, I glanced up at my stove, where I had set the containers until use, and saw a lovely little set:
 It was just so pretty and AUTUMN!... seems to be the thing everyone is talking about these days, might as well jump on the bandwagon.

Jadah really is so close to crawling. If you put a toy a few feet away from her, she'll get to it (slowly).
Lastly, every night before bed, Simon carries a little red flashlight and checks on all the kids sleeping (I see them enough during the day, so it's not so important for me to peek at them, even though they are oh-so-cute when sleeping!). He found Selah like this the other night:
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Silver Lake (?)

After spending a week with my parents, it was time to get Christian back. It was amazing how much I got done while he was away, almost got used to it! But not quite. I took the girls and met my parents and grandparents at a lake for a picnic lunch. It was so windy we had to hold our food down, Jadah wouldn't stop crying for who knows why, and Christian peed on the playground but wouldn't go again before it was time to get in the car and go home.
Mom took him in the lake for a bit. He made it his responsibility to clear the water of all leaves and debris. Way to go son.
Footsies in the water...
And then the inevitable happened, Christian face-planted in the water.
And I got pictures:

Is it so wrong that while he's screaming I'm taking a picture? I think he was a little traumatized and was being overdramatic.
I carried him away from the water, and within a few seconds, he was walking merrily to do this:
He had found a little paper, which he called his "ticket" which had to be inserted into the hole to make it work.  Brilliant child.
My grandparents got to see the girls and it was wonderful to see them as well!
Fun day.
(The lack of the exclamation point is due the fact that though it was fun, it was also a bit stressful.  That's just the way things role sometimes).



Before and After Part Living/Dining Room

The main areas of the house are the living and dining rooms.  Not much to tell, they pretty much speak for themselves.

Living Room Before:
New paint, carpet, and trim...
(note to self for next house, this looks cluttery)

Dining Room Before:
New paint, tore up carpet (yay original wood floor!), trim, and mouldings...

And real quick, the final project I did was to tear up the carpet on the front porch and repaint it:

Goodbye, little yellow house!


The Munchkins

I realize I have neglected to mention my sweet-three in the rush of all these creative posts.  They are still alive and well; thriving in fact.  Here's an update:
Talks all the time, is very independent, and is a major ham.  He is an awesome big brother.   He is working on potty training... still has accidents (why can't he tell me he has to pee before it starts coming out?!), but he is staying dry for naps and usually overnight.  Our favorite part is his little tushie without a great big diaper on it!
Still has more hair than Jadah(only slightly), has a mole on her right arm, and is a good eater.  She always finishes her bottle first (I start at the same time), and she is doing great eating with a spoon.  She seems to be the more serious of the two, but will still smile way too easily.  She gets up on all fours, but has yet to crawl.  Weighs 18 lb, 4oz.
Jadah is a silly girl, extremely smiley, and a slow eater.  She has yet to get the hang of the spoon and pushes most bites out with her tongue.  She gets up on all fours and sometimes scoots to reach an object.  Weighs 17 lb. 15oz. (still the smaller one!).
Both girls drool excessively (why did I say I'd never have babies that drooled!?).  They are definitely bigger babies than Christian was!  When buying clothes I was counting on them fitting for at least 3 months after the age on the tag... but instead, they are wearing clothes 3 months ahead of their age.  I still keep them on the same schedule for eating and sleeping.  They are sleeping about 11 hours each night and take 2 long + 1 short nap each day.  I'm about to start giving them vegetables.  Feedings will start taking a while again... but much messier!

Gotta love 'em!


Before and After Part Bedrooms

Before I continue with our before and afters, I want to fill in a bit more information. This house was a rental, one of those things that God worked out so perfectly. The owner came into possession of the house as an inheritance and wasn't quite sure what to do with it. We were able to rent it and do our own renovations. We did all the work, but we were able to take the cost off of our rent. Sweet deal.
Also, I was largely pregnant during a lot of the work! I got most of the house painted before I got too big, but the entire kitchen/dining area were finished just 2-3 weeks before the girls were born. Unfortunately, my camera was broken during that time, or else you'd get to see pictures of my HUGE belly, enormous swollen feet and legs, standing on stools and chairs to get those kitchen cabinets painted. Not fun folks! But I wasn't alone, I have others to thank!...my Mom, Rachel Bowman, Wendy Puffer, and April Barcalow: you were all wonderful help when it came to painting!
Now onto the pictures. This is a 3 bedroom house. We kept it simple, just painting the walls, making the ceilings white, and adding new ceiling fans/lights.  I think the thing that makes the biggest difference is painting the trim white.
Please understand, these rooms are NOT perfection, or even close to it!  They are lived in, unorganized, and unfinished, but we are moving now, so any effort to hang more things on walls or put away clutter just isn't going to happen at this point.
Christian's Room, before(it was a lot more blue than it looks!):

Nursery before:
 (this room was a lot cuter before we had to stuff a second crib in it!)

Master Bedroom, before:

(I really dislike those pillows on the bed... planning on making new covers someday)
Next: living and dining rooms!
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