Milestones & Sweet Memories of Feeding My Kids

My precious view at dinner. <3

It’s another year of milestones for all three of my children. My twin girls are graduating up to middle school, and my oldest son will be in ninth grade. Can he really be entering high school?

Some days it feels like forever since I was cradling them in my arms or pushing them in a stroller that barely fit through grocery store aisles. The fog from all of the sleepless nights and pure busyness of having three babies under the age of three hovers low over my memories and grows dense. Other days, like today, I look across the table and remember clear.

We sit together enjoying a nice dinner, celebrating accomplishments of the school year, and I can remember them as babies. I remember the mornings so early. They would call out from their cribs like little roosters, waking the house, fuzzy heads peaking through wooden slats, wanting to be fed.

I also remember the quiet afternoons and evenings spent one-on-one holding each of them. Even though they had siblings waiting their turn, I tried to sit in stillness enjoying our time and moment to bond. I’d let their hand curl around my finger, while I smoothed out their hair and hummed the tune “You Are My Sunshine.”

Thinking back, feeding was one of the most intimate experiences I had with my children. At first, I didn’t give much thought to how I’d feed them. My mother nursed me – and all four of my siblings – so I just figured it was a good thing to do.

I started off nursing my first child for about four months. As a working mom, trying to keep up with pumping between conference calls and deadlines was a bit tricky for me. My body was exhausted, my milk was reducing, and I eventually switched my son over to formula. I remember feeling a little sad and even a bit guilty about it all. Had I given up too soon…too easily? But it ended up being the best decision for our family.

When I weaned my son from nursing, I also weaned myself from trying to be supermom. I let myself off the hook and recognized how incredible and capable my husband was (and still is today). I created room for him to step in, feed our son, and bond like no other moment in time. Even though he had been helping warm up bottles of breast milk, the process of mixing and making bottles with formula was different. We were on the same side of making milk. And my husband and I bonded as parents – through feeding our child together.

When our twins came along, my husband and I didn’t specifically talk about how we’d feed them. Initially, we were in too much shock and excitement at the news of twins to think about such details. We were already 20 weeks along when we found out! When we eventually brought the girls home, we were in survival/autopilot mode most of the time.

We did whatever felt natural, and thanks to a little experience from having our son, a few things actually did feel natural. I nursed the girls as soon as I could – and at the same time. I held them on each side, surrounded and supported by pillows. So many pillows. I had a C-section this time, so it was hard to lift the girls. My husband would bring the babies up to my chest and I’d balance and hold them like little footballs under each arm. It was an amazing sight that would bring tears to my eyes each time I fed them. How was my body doing all of this?! I always seemed to have enough milk to satisfy their growing tummies. No matter how tired I was, the milk would be there.

After about three months of nursing the girls, and two episodes of mastitis, I made the decision to switch to formula. It wasn’t an easy choice. It was also fairly expensive – everything times two and all – but it was one that helped me get some physical strength and much-needed rest. I was also reminded of how good it felt to let my husband step in and help us. He bonded more with the girls, while he and I bonded deeper still, through yet another crazy parenting experience.

I think the way my husband and I fed our kids at birth reveals a lot about how we feel about and feed them today. We realize each day holds new chapters and milestones. And we view each moment at the table as chance to bond and a time to savor. No matter what was warmed up in a bottle back then or on a plate today, it was and always will be served with our deepest love.

Many blessings as you nourish your own sweet ones,

Kate

P.S. I was inspired to share our story because of the Honest.com blog and some of these beautiful feeding stories. Enjoy reading them for yourself and thinking back to your own personal stories. Is there something helpful – a tip or new perspective – that you can share?

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Friday Wrap: Happy Moments

Hello, my friends! I was a little quiet on the blog last week because I was busy celebrating with my sweet family. We had graduations, baptisms, birthdays and even a surprise visit from my sister who lives in Nebraska!! My goodness, my heart was bursting with happiness.

So for a more personal entry, here are a few highlights from my short time away. >>

{ONE} All of us – sitting still!

I honestly can’t remember the last picture I took with all three of my kiddos. Maybe last summer when we went to Mount Rushmore?!

I don’t even think we got one on the first day of school this year. Evan had to leave so early, and the girls were still rolling out of bed. Story of our life.

Anyway, this picture took place on Mother’s Day. Everyone was chillin’ on the porch while Brandon was grilling his family-famous chicken. I announced that I wanted one more gift…a picture with my too-grown-up-to-be-called-babies-but-I-still-do, babies!!

They were kind to oblige, and we all snuggled in to capture this moment. (Can you believe my 14yo son is taller than me – even when sitting?)

This lovely scene was followed by this moment below…with our furry toddler, Leo. (Clara’s face still make me laugh. He had just licked her entire left cheek.)

{TWO} Graduations and inductions

Avery & Clara are officially out of elementary school. It really happened. They’re off to middle school next year, and while I’m a little sad about them growing up so fast, there’s some joy mixed in because I can see what lovely girls they’re becoming.

I’m also a tad proud (okay, gushing with pride) as they received a President’s Education Award during their “graduation” ceremony at school. It represents not only their hard work in school, but also their upstanding character. It’s so affirming to have others see the potential in your child, too. While they’re not necessarily straight-A students, they have so much greatness to offer.

Evan had his moment to shine this week, as well. He was inducted into the Junior National Honor Society. And yes, he’s my kid. Haha. I’m super proud of him and all of the effort he puts into school and pretty much anything he’s involved in.

As a typical teen, he didn’t want any pictures with his award or anywhere near his school. When we took him to his favorite restaurant for dessert after the ceremony, I was able to sneak this cute pic with his sisters.

In addition to all of the excitement with my kids, one of my nieces graduated from high school!! Maggie is such a beautiful and extremely creative and talented girl. I can’t wait to see where life takes her. We had a lovely day (filled with lots of family) celebrating her accomplishments.

{THREE} Birthday for Papa

We celebrated another birthday for my darling dad (Papa Joe). His birthday happens around Mother’s Day each year, and he’s so kind to let my mom take center stage. We didn’t totally let him off the hook, though. We showered him with love – and some special “Papa-corn” from Hill City Popcorn. 🙂

I’m bummed I didn’t get a picture of him. We were too busy giving hugs, I guess. Here’s a sweet picture of him from another time, though.

{FOUR} Soccer wins

Evan’s soccer team has been on a roll this year. They either won or tied all of their games, and they competed in the state championships last weekend…and won! This means they advance to regionals in North Carolina toward the end of June. Yay, Comets!!!

This will be the first time Evan has qualified for regionals, so it’s a big deal for him. We’re all so excited – and trying not to embarrass him with the happy tears. #sorrynotsorry

Evan is the first player on the right (next to his coach).

{FIVE} Peonies that lasted, and lasted

Fresh flowers are the path to this mama’s heart and soul, and my family knows me well. They brought home a fresh bouquet (including peonies!!) from my favorite shop on Mother’s Day, and they lasted for nearly two weeks. I literally just tossed them out, y’all. That’s why I’m still talking about them!!

Right when these beauties got home I took a picture (because it lasts longer) and now I can share them with you. Enjoy! Feel free to download it, share it or just soak in the prettiness. 🙂

That’s a wrap. Thanks for letting me share a few family memories. Here’s to a lovely weekend ahead for everyone!

Blessings,

Kate

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My Stash of Summer Books

One of my favorite ways to “waste time” is to hang from the trees in a hammock while traveling through the pages of a good book. And apparently this will help me live longer. I heard that spending 30 minutes a day with a good book may add years to your life. Bonus, right?!

So I’ve been keeping a running list of books I want to read this summer, and I finally took the plunge. {I think the sunny weather nudged me into action.}

All of my books arrived within days of each other, which made going to the mail quite exciting this week. It was like Christmas in May. Anyway, I’m excited to share the titles with you. They’re all over the map in terms of topics and genres, but that’s kinda how I read and roll.

Without another peep, here’s my summer reading list, and why I’m excited to dig into each one! >>

{ONE} Into The Water

Why I’m excited: Let me start by saying I loved the thrill and intrigue of Girl on the Train, so when I heard the same author was coming out with her next novel, I was all in.

This book just released on May 2, so it’s literally hot off the press. The book jacket claims it’s “an addictive new novel of psychological suspense about the slipperiness of truth – and one family drowning in secrets.” Ooooh. Can’t wait to read for myself!

{TWO} The Nest

Why I’m excited: This is one of those books that kept popping up on my radar. Have you had one of those? Any time I shopped on Amazon or skimmed through Facebook, there would be a reference to it. I finally read the description and saw Amy Poehler was listed under “praise for the book.” Well, that sealed the deal. Love her (and her book, Yes, Please.)

Amy called it “an epic family story that unfolds in a deeply personal way.” Others describe it as, “A warm, funny and acutely perceptive debut novel about four adult siblings [in New York] and the fate of the shared inheritance that has shaped their choices and their lives.”

I get the idea this family will entertain us in both humorous and tragic ways. I’ll let you know!!

{THREE} The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane

Why I’m excited: This book was recommended in a recent issue of Real Simple magazine. They usually share pretty good book picks, and this one caught my attention. It was labeled as “great for a book club” and had this short writeup:

“Author Lisa See transports you to the remote mountains of China – where, in 1988, an Akha tribe grows tea. There we meet Li-Yan, a young woman forced to give up the daughter she had out of wedlock. Come for the heartwarming bond between mother and daughter, stay for the insight into the Akha culture and fascinating (really!) history of the tea trade.”

As you know, I love tea – and a good story. I’m intrigued by this one.

{FOUR} One Thousand Gifts

Why I’m excited: A lady in my bible study recommended this book to the group. She said it was a life-changer. It’s called One Thousand Gifts and is written by Ann Voskamp, who captures your attention from the first word of anything she writes. She’s such an eloquent writer, yet she tackles topics in a way that’s raw and honest. I love her voice, and I know I’ll walk away from this one feeling inspired.

The premise of this book is that she started writing a list of one-thousand things she’s thankful for – and how this prayerful practice impacted her life and those around her. I have a feeling I’m going to experience why there have been more than one-million copies sold.

{FIVE} The Magnolia Journal

Why I’m excited: Um, do you see who’s on the cover of this lovely magazine? It’s Jo Jo Gaines herself from the HGTV sensation Fixer Upper, and I believe this is the second edition of her Magnolia Journal.

It’s not technically a book, but it’s one read I can’t wait to soak up. In fact, this might have to cut in line on the reading list. My ever-so-thoughtful husband gave me a subscription for Christmas. He’s still basking in pride over this one, because every time I get one in the mail, I give him some sugar and thank him all over again. Well played, sweet B.

That’s a wrap! Have you read any of these books? If so, give me your reviews – just no spoilers! Haha! And what else is on your list right now? I’d love to hear from you.

For now, I’ll leave us with this quote from Plato. >>

Blessings,

Kate

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Through The Eyes of a Child

I picked up my phone the other day to take pictures for the blog, and I found a slew of shots that I know I hadn’t taken. There were pics of our pets, stuffed animals, and silly faces of my kids. Someone had hijacked my phone, and I’m pretty sure it was one or both of my 11-year-old twin girls. {Maybe because of the selfies?}

Upon inquiry, the girls laughed and fessed up pretty quickly. Of course I didn’t get upset. The pictures were hilarious, and I loved seeing the world through their eyes.

I also loved the idea of turning this playful discovery into a creative exercise.

It’s a fairly simple one, too. >

Have your kids take your phone or camera for a few hours and let them snap away. Once they’re finished, take a moment to observe their choices, angles, and point of view. Then spot your lesson. What can you learn from their curiosity and exploration?

Here are a few lessons my girls taught me as I scrolled through my camera roll:

Don’t take life too seriously. Being silly is just plain fun. Especially when you’re making stink-eye emoji faces.

Trampoline hair don’t care. Jumping for joy is good for your spirit.

It’s good to stop and enjoy the small things in life, like the snuggle of a teddy bear…

Even if you’re a dog.

Some of the sweetest views of life are down low with the bunnies.

And at the end of the day, there’s nothing better than hangin’ with your twinsie.

This exercise kinda reminded me of a scene from Dead Poets Society when Robin Williams, who plays a quirky and lovable English teacher, stands up on his desk. He asks all of the boys in the class to do the same. Then he challenges them to see the world from a different point of view and form their own opinions. It was an iconic scene from the movie, and one that has always stuck with me.

So for today, let’s take the opportunity to see things from a different perspective…through the eyes of a child.

How can we impart this wisdom upon our next creative expression? Paint with the eyes of a child? Design with the simplicity of a grade schooler? Write from a place of innocence and vulnerability? Solve a problem through the basic understanding of fairness and love?

“Seeing the world through the eyes of a child is truly like seeing the magic of everything.”

Blessings,

-Kate

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Mother’s Day Gift List: To the Rescue

Mamas are such special people – at least the ones in my life. Every day should be mother’s day, IMO. But since we formally celebrate next weekend, I’ve been thinking about some gift ideas.

Flowers and candy are always a treat, but what if you want to give your sweet mom, or even your sisters and friends who are great moms, something a little different this year?

Or what if you’re on the receiving end of a gift, and you’re flat out of ideas for what to tell your hubs and kids to get you, because you haven’t had a moment to stop and think about it?!

Here are a few categories to get you started – along with some ideas for each. >>

{ONE} Practically Speaking: Inverted Umbrella

While practical gifts, such as vacuums and dusters, are probably needed around the house, there are some that fall into the category of fun and practical. Take this umbrella for instance. >

{Shop this crazy-awesome umbrella here.}

Everyone could use a good (and cute) umbrella. This one is not only adorable with its navy and white stripes, but also super handy.

It folds in reverse, so when you close it up, you don’t get drenched with water. It’s also much easier to get in and out of a car. I’m simply amazed at its ingenuity and simplicity. Lovely gift.

{TWO} Completely Decadent: A Lovely Infuser with Fancy Tea

On the other end of the spectrum is a gift idea that’s totally something you don’t need, but would enjoy having, none-the-less.

For instance, I love drinking tea. I’m usually cramming a pod into the Keurig as I’m running out of the door for to carpool kids or head to work. So I don’t have many slow, tea-sipping opportunities.

For the occasional moments of chill, though, I would look forward to sitting with a beautiful infuser. It’s nothing I would buy for myself, but I’d cherish it coming from my family. It would feel like an invitation to kick back and relax for a bit. Invitation accepted.

{You can get the infuser here and add some delicious teas from here! The Tuscan Garden loose leaf tea is really nice.}

{THREE} Totally Trendy: Potted Succulents

As an earthy, cool and super trendy alternative to a vase of flowers, a pot of succulents is a charm of a gift.

{Shop this cute planter here. Or make one yourself by painting a terra cotta pot with white paint and decorating with Sharpies – then plant a sweet little succulent inside.}

{FOUR} An Inside Joke: Graphic Tee & Funny Cards

Laughter can be a gift unto itself. And you probably have a few inside jokes with your mom – or your husband and kids. So a gift that hints at your joke or even spells it out on a shirt is always a good idea.

Here’s one I would personally love. >

{I have no idea where I first heard this phrase, but I literally say it every time my kids tell me something amazing or weird. You can get it at this cute shop. More hilarious tees are here…love me some Thug Life. That’s where I got my Mama Bear sweatshirt!}

Sometimes you don’t want to go the route of an overly sweet message on a card, so humor can be the best remedy. >

{Lol!! These cards are actually downloads you can grab here.}

{FIVE} A Heart-Melter: Anything Handmade

The quickest way to melt a mama’s heart is to find a way to push the pause button on time and capture it in a handprint or photo. A gift that archives childhood and the precious memories that go along with it will always be a winner.

There are so many ways to do this, but here’s one in particular that I really love. >

{Get the simple instructions for making this thumbprint charm here.}

That’s a wrap! Have fun shopping – or crafting. And here’s to a great weekend ahead. Hopefully you have nice weather in the forecast so you can enjoy some sunshine and soak up that vitamin D. Lord knows this mama could use some.

Blessings,

Kate

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Making Haikuesday a Thing

Hello, my creative friends. I just realized I haven’t posted a creative tip on Tuesday in quite some time, so here I am. Posting. And I have a fun activity for us to share.

Have you ever written a haiku before? It’s a Japanese poem that has a mere 17 syllables. And they’re written in a pattern…only three lines long with the following breakdown of syllables: 5 – 7 – 5.

Here’s an example that also tells you what to do >>

  • The first line is five
  • The second line is seven
  • Last line, five again

See what I did there? Lol.

Okay, so backing up for a second, I gave myself the personal creative challenge of going for a short walk and paying attention to everything I saw. Not just notice the ducks on the water behind our house, but also listen to how they sound and watch how they push water with their hidden webbed feet below. Slow down time so I can truly appreciate what’s there. Absorb the details.

Love and gratitude comes from noticing the details.

The details of our day…the things we notice and collect…can be used to build a nest. A soft spot for our creativity to crack open all wet, scared and hungry to survive. A thing for us to nurture, to feed, to protect and eventually nudge into the world to fly. To take-in air under its wings and defy the logic of gravity. To surprise and delight others, and ultimately to inspire.

Once I took my walk and jotted down a few details, I noticed there was a rhythm to what I was writing. I could feel it, but couldn’t see the pattern right away.

Curious, I googled “haiku” and discovered that with a few slightly different word choices, I was writing a series of poems. It felt synchronistic, so I kept going. And in walked part two of my creative challenge. The Haiku. >>

  • New life still in shell
  • speckled with dirt, frailty and
  • anticipation.

  • The choir of ducks
  • mistaken for croaking frogs
  • if not for my sight.

  • Sitting in stillness,
  • slowing the pace of my breath,
  • adding weight to time.

These are just a few of my walk-inspired poems from today. I posted the egg on Instagram and tagged it with #haikuesday.

I was a little inspired by Christoph Niemann. He posts original (and highly creative) drawings on Sundays. While I’m not a painter, maybe I can use my writing paired with photos to start something? Maybe this can be a new thing for all of us? Walking slowly, at least once a week, to notice the details and give them the honor of becoming a poem?

I hope you’ll join me. Let’s try our hand at writing a haiku once a week. Comment below if you’re in, and tag me on your posts when you write your poems so I can love all over your beauty. I’m on Instagram and Twitter as Kate, and The Neat Nook has its very own Facebook page @TheNeatNook

Let’s have some fun noticing and creating!

-Kate

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