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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Good Friday Wrap

{This beautiful print was found here.}

Every year on Good Friday, I try to pause for a moment of deep gratitude. If you’re Christian, like I am, we sit in amazement of the greatest gift given to humanity. It’s ours to have and hold in praise…knowing that Sunday is coming.

So in a moment of quiet, I started by looking back on this past week. While it wasn’t perfect, there were plenty of events and things to be thankful for. Here are a few that rose to the top. >

{ONE} Evan’s big day

My sweet Evan not only turned 14 this week (what?!), but also won a regional tournament with his soccer team. I’m so incredibly proud of him and his loving spirit. Most days, that is. Haha.

He’s a teen after all, and we’re not exempt from the roller coaster of emotions from those changing hormones. Since he’s my oldest, we’re learning through this together. He promised to always talk, and I promised to always listen. I love him to pieces – and love being his mama.

{TWO} Kittens on the porch

While April the giraffe is still pregnant and taking center stage in the media, we had a little birth story of our own. And right on our back porch.

We woke early one morning to find a mama and her FIVE kittens on our outdoor couch! Thank heavens my dog (and my niece’s dog, Frito, whom we were watching at the time) didn’t snatch them up before I made the discovery.

The mama cat got scared and scampered away leaving her babies behind. After securing the dogs inside, I put the kittens in a box with old blankets and moved them out of harms way to the side of the house.

Throughout the day the mama came back to get each one. She took quite a bit of time between each rescue, which worried me for a bit. In fact, one of them was left in the box when we went to bed, but she was rescued by the morning.

While I felt unsure about how things would turn out, I was thankful for the experience of meeting those kittens and caring for them in that short time.

{THREE} Seeds for the bees

I have been super excited to receive this free little gift in the mail. While I could have easily picked up a packet of wildflower seeds from the garden store, I like being part of the official #bringbackthebees effort that Veseys and Cheerios are supporting.

Bees are incredibly important to our food supply. NBC News reported that last year, the U.S. lost a mind-boggling 44 percent of its honeybee colonies. Crazy.

It’s also good to know we can help. Planting bee-friendly flowers, reducing or eliminating our use of pesticides and supporting local beekeepers with buying their honey are three super easy things we can do right now. So happy planting – and eating!!

{FOUR} Puppy faux-hawks

We had one day this week where all three of my kiddos were home sick. Some crazy virus was going around. Anyway, as we were homebound, drinking lots of water and resting, there came a time when we needed some comic relief.

Enter Leo.

Our mini goldendoodle is good for all kinds of laughter in our house. His playful tricks and constant kisses keep us smiling. And this week my daughter, Avery, found a new hilarious activity…puppy updos.

As Leo snuggled next to her on the couch, she would give him a new “do” and then take a picture. (We thought the faux-hawk was his best look.) He didn’t seem to mind. In fact, I think he liked having his hair played with. He’s such a good little puppy.

{FIVE} Easter centerpiece

Anything that involves flowers makes my heart happy. So as you can imagine, making this Easter table centerpiece was pure joy for me. I decided to go with garden plants this year instead of flowers. That way I can plant them directly into my garden after Easter.

This project was so easy, too. It literally took me five minutes to assemble. I’ll have the full DIY with pics tomorrow, so be sure to come back.

I hope your Friday is good and blessed,

Kate

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Friday Wrap: Birthday Party Edition!!

Sorry I’ve been MIA lately. I’ve been down-for-the-count with a terrible cold – topped off with allergies. Lovely, I know. The good news is that I’m so much better now and finally able to share some pics from my twin girls’ 11th birthday!!

We had a little shindig at our house to celebrate, and the theme ended up being a mermaid-unicorn-fairy-rainbow-pizza party. (When in doubt, just mash it up.)

And did you see the shirts I found at Thug Life?! They couldn’t have been more perfect. As seen below.

{My sweet birthday girls. We made a photo frame out of black matte board and hot-glued tissue paper flowers to the corners to glam it up a bit. I can’t wait to get into more details…}

It’s safe to say all of the girls had a mythical, magical time. And I wanted to share a few of the highlights.

Maybe this will spark some ideas for your next birthday bash?

{ONE} Rainbow Flowers & Heart Droplets

We gotta start with the decorations. I had so much fun playing around with inexpensive craft stuff, such as paint chips and tissue paper, to create a darling party atmosphere.

I used rainbow colors, because what mermaid-fairy-unicorn doesn’t love rainbows?!

I made tissue paper flowers for the table and giant tissue “clouds” for the ceiling. Then I made it rain up in here with strands of ribbon and hearts dangling from the lights.

Here’s a closer look at the rainbow heart droplets.

Directions: I tied several strands of thin ribbon to the base of our chandelier. Then I glued rainbow-colored hearts (back-to-back) directly onto the ribbon. Super easy.

Want to see the secret to those perfectly shaped hearts? >>

Voila! I used my heart-shaped paper punch.

And all of those beautiful colors were compliments (literally) of Lowes. I got a large stack of paint chips in a variety of pastel colors.

Here’s a closeup of the pinks. I love the ombre look you get from using paint chips, too.

PS. Punching out all of these hearts was the perfect activity for my girls. They were definitely involved in all of this magic making.

We had so many hearts, we even sprinkled some on the table – like rainbow confetti!

{TWO} Rainbow Cupcakes & Candies

Of course we had some rainbow-themed goodies!

I was obsessed with these cupcakes. Avery found the idea on Pinterest, so we had some inspiration. Then she and her sister made these all. by. themselves. No joke. All of those hours watching Cupcake Wars is paying off.

Directions: After baking up some vanilla cupcakes, they added a few drops of blue food coloring to their buttercream frosting. We found some Airhead Xtremes Rainbow Belts at Walmart, so they cut them in small strips and formed them like rainbows over each cake. And the clouds, as you probably guessed, are mini marshmallows. <3

Here’s a view from above. The girls did such a lovely job plating these sweet treats, too.

Here’s a wide angle of the table, so you can see the confetti hearts, tissue paper flowers and cupcakes all hanging out just waiting for the mermaids, unicorns and fairies to arrive.

Oh, and we also made a candy station using rainbow suckers, fruity Twizzlers, and tropical Skittles so their friends could “taste the rainbow.”

The girls thought it was funny to call the Skittles “unicorn poop.” I totally agreed.

And just so everyone wasn’t completely bouncing off the walls, I offered a more natural rainbow selection of fruit when it was time for pizza. #momapproved

{THREE} Fun Photo Frame

Back to the photo frame for a hot minute. As soon as all of the girls arrived, we went to the backyard to take fun pics inside the frame – photo booth style.

I made sure to take a pic with each guest and the birthday girls. Here are a few snaps >>

After the party, we printed out each of the pictures and tucked them inside personalized thank yous!!

{FOUR} Mermaids in Action

We decided to officially kick off the party like mermaids – and went swimming at a nearby indoor pool.

They were the cutest, sweetest mermaids I had ever seen.

I loved this action shot. All of this splish-splashin’ fun was followed by snacks of goldfish and Roarin’ Waters – a mermaid’s favorite snack. They nibbled all the way back to the house where we had more fun activities planned.

{FIVE} Fairy Gardens

The girls put on their best fairy faces and painted mini bird houses for their gardens.

This was Clara’s creation. >>

I bought plastic liners from the garden store, filled them with soil, then offered up an assortment of rocks, seashells from previous vacations, gems, beads and anything else I had in my craft area that felt right for a fairy garden.

The girls had a blast decorating and chatting. This is what Avery pulled together. >>

Once they were finished, we sprinkled grass seed all over the soil. Grass is pretty inexpensive and germinates in less than a week, so the girls had something to look forward to when they left!

Here’s a pic of Avery’s garden today. She has already mowed several times with scissors! >>

That’s a wrap!

After a few planned activities, I just let the girls do their thing…create Music.lys, eat pizza, snack on candy and eventually watch a movie in sleeping bags upstairs. They woke up to pancakes and more rainbow fruit before heading off into the sunrise.

It was a total, successful, drama-free party – thanks to such sweet friends.

And the girls and I want to thank you for reading along and letting us share their birthday fun.

We’d also like to give a shout out to their big brother, Evan, who was incredibly cool about having a house full of girls on a Saturday night. I’m sure he was thinking, “Thank goodness for video games.” But really, he was such a good sport.

And so was our daddy bear. Brandon is always a super-trooper and helps me every step of the way. I love my people so much!

1 + 1 = 11 😉

I hope you have a wonderful weekend, and I’ll see you next week (pinkie promise) with some more fun ideas to share.

XoXoXo,

Kate

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A Bearthday Celebration!

front door sign

Me-oh-my! We had quite the bonanza of parties this weekend. My favorite, though, was celebrating our first double-digit birthday for my girls. They’re officially “tweenagers.”

They’re still at that sweet age, though, where they listen to their teachers (and parents) and play with a few toys. In fact…

My girls adore their stuffed animal bears, so we hosted 10 of their friends at our house for a special 10th bearthday party.

On the surface, this seemed like an easy-peasy kind of theme. It was a bit tricker than I had thought, but thanks to a few ideas on Pinterest and my crafty sidekick-twins, we pulled off one of our favorite parties to date. And that’s saying something, because we thought last year’s 9th Neon Birthday would be pretty hard to top.

I took lots of pictures in case you try this out for yourself. (I totally recommend it.) Now let’s get on with the show-and-tell.

{A Warm Welcome} We made a welcome sign out of chalkboard and drew bear prints up the sidewalk for a grand entrance. We went with teal and a burlap-brown as our overall color palate.

front sidewalk

{Bear Signs} We had fun posting bear signs in the yard and around the house. Didn’t the girls do a great job with these?!

bear sign

bears in bucket

{Rustic Decorations} We carried the party colors and rustic theme into the house and used acorns, pine cones and other woodland accents to decorate the table. (I’m totally planning to squirrel some of this away for the fall.)

party set up

table decorations

Most of this came from Hobby Lobby, btw!

{Bear Paw Cupcakes} The original idea on the cupcakes was to use brown M&Ms to help make “paws.” Well, you can’t just buy just brown M&Ms – unless you go to a specialty store. I found Hershey’s chocolate drops, which are a bit bigger than M&Ms, and they actually worked perfectly!

You can also see how I displayed the cupcakes on two slices of wood with a glass candlestick in the center. This really helped with the woodland look on the table.

rustic cupcake stand

{More Fun Food} While we’re on the topic of food, the menu for the party included grilled hot dogs, carrot sticks, fresh berries and assorted candies. Remember those Hershey’s drops? The girls thought it would be funny to call it bear poop. Yes, we did.

berry patch

bear poop

{Backyard Bear Cave} My husband got into the theme, as well. He’s such a good daddy – and was absolutely adorable to watch as he mapped out a bear cave in our backyard.

He pitched a large tent and attached a cardboard box to the front (as the entrance to the cave) and covered it all with a brown tarp. The girls added signs and we had ourselves a super cute bear hangout.

The girls ended up watching the movie Brave (because of the bears) in the tent toward the end of the party. It was a great place to hang while the parents picked up. I’ll give a full rundown of activities here in a sec.

bear cave

{Campfire Fun} One other area we set up was right next to the tent. We created a campfire setting where we could make s’mores and create funny mad libs together. We made sure there was a seat and blanket for each girl so they were comfortable as it got chilly.

campfire

{A Beary Happy Time} Each of the girls brought a special stuffed animal, and we played fun games the entire time! We chose not to have an overnight party, so our compromise was to have an extra long party. (It was four hours.)

girls with bears

Look at those sweet girls!! <3

{Entertainment) Here’s how we kept everyone busy and having a blast:

  1. Bearaoke (your basic karaoke – sung with stuffed animals)
  2. Pin the bowtie on the bear
  3. Bear bingo (using Teddy Grahams as bingo chips)
  4. Dinner, cupcakes and opening gifts
  5. Bobbing for apples (because bears love apples)
  6. Busting open a piñata (because bears love anything sweet)
  7. Dress-the-bear relay (each team had to run back and forth to dress/undress a Build-a-Bear)
  8. Nature scavenger hunt
  9. Campfire time with s’mores and mad libs
  10. Watching the movie Brave (while eating piñata candy)
eating dinner

One of their friends used the bottom of the piñata as a hat. She wore it the rest of the night. Cracked me up!!

playing games

This was taken during bear bingo. Most of the night-time pics didn’t turn out because it was too dark.

{Parting Gifts} As each of the girls left, we made sure they took home a little treat bag filled with Teddy Grahams and mini marshmallows!

goody bags

{The End} That’s a wrap for this party post. It really was a great time. Let me know if you try this theme for yourself and what other details you add.

relaxing by the fire

This last picture shows Evan, Leo and I taking a rest by the fire while the girls watched their movie.

Here’s to being happily partied out!!

-Kate

 

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