Wednesday, November 26, 2014

What I Ate Wednesday - Crockpot Chicken and Stuffing.

Get the full recipe (and more beautiful photos!) here!
It's been a while since I posted about food! I still love food (more than most things in life) but I've realized I just generally suck at photographing food. If I posted the photos of recipes I've made over the last few months, chances are no one would want to try to recreate that. Sometimes my food looks like a hot mess (along with my kitchen) but the food is always good!

When I came across this recipe on Pinterest (insert your best *gasp* and shocked expression here) I may or may not have literally started salivating. This recipe appeared to be super easy and super dooper right up my alley.

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, because food. Yup, because FOOD. Christmas is all fine and dandy, spending time with family and celebrating the holidays and whatnot. But Christmas comes with strings attached - buying presents, wrapping, remembering to bring presents, etc. My birthday is great because it's all about me (and usually includes food from a restaurant of my choice.) BUT THANKSGIVING. It's all about that food, bout that food, food, food.

Now that I realize how easy it is to make this Crockpot knock-off Thanksgiving dinner, I can have my favorite food year round. It's a combination of perfectly cooked, shredded chicken (you could use turkey if you're into authentic turkey-day meals!) perfectly moist and seasoned stuffing and green bean casserole. Make up a batch of instant mashed potatoes or some sweet potatoes and you literally have Turkey Day food in less than 15 minutes.

Swing on over to this site for the full recipe and thank Jennifer from iSave A to Z for this perfect recipe!

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Dollar Store Christmas Crafts

 I've been PINSPIRED.
Follow me on Pinterest for more holiday ideas!

I'm probably one of the least crafty people I know. And one of the most thrifty. Today I'm going to show you the extent of my thrifty-craftiness with two copy-cat Pinterest crafts that I did for the upcoming holidays.

First up is a "wreath" type thing made out of cookie cutters. This is great because a) I need a wreath or SOMETHING to hang on our front door. It's the only outdoor decorating we do. And b) it was inexpensive. $3 to be exact.

Secondly, we have a Christmas cardholder so that my bulletin board and fridge don't get all cluttered (you know how I hate clutter) with cards. This year our first Christmas card came around November 7th. Over-achievers. So from whenever the first Christmas card arrives until after New Years, this cardholder will be hanging in my kitchen to prevent clutter.

What you need: $6.00 and about 10 minutes. And a dollar store near your house.
  • A hanging Christmas-y decoration, something more wide than tall and narrow to give you optimal ribbon hanging room
  • 2 rolls of coordinating ribbon
  • 2 packs of plastic cookie cutters (or about 10 cookie cutters)
  • 1 pack of clothespins
Things you should have at home already:
  • Scissors
  • Hot glue gun
  • Command Strips or something to hang your masterpieces with

Cookie Cutter "Wreath"

Assemble cookie cutters on a counter top into the shape you want (ideally a Christmas tree) but could be any shape you... star, candy cane, etc. Use your hot glue gun to glue cookie cutters together. Let cool for a minute. Tie ribbon around cookie cutters at the places where you glued or randomly as you see fit, whichever you prefer. Tie a large bow at the top. Hang on your front door using a wreath hanger or extra ribbon.

Pinterest version                                              Mine!
Christmas Card Holder

Cut several strips of ribbon that will be evenly spaced along the bottom of the hanging Christmas decoration you have picked out. Use hot glue gun to attach ribbon to the decoration. Let cool for a minute. Hang and use clothespins to attach card to holder. Bonus points if you have/make decorated clothespins.

Get this on Etsy for $35.00.... or DIY at home for $3.00!

What kinds of Christmas crafts and activities have you done? Are you super thrifty when it comes to house decor?

Thursday, November 20, 2014

November is Prematurity Awareness Month

November is Prematurity Awareness Month. Bet you didn't know that, right? Unless you were a NICU preemie parent --- I barely fit into that category. As a mom of babies who were, so thankfully, only in the NICU for a few hours for monitoring, I had no idea until just a few days ago.

I follow the Huffington Post for parents on Facebook and they have been doing a month-long series on Prematurity Awareness. Some of the articles are heartbreaking. Some are inspirational. All of them make me stop and think about how blessed I am that my babies made it SO CLOSE to full term and were healthy.

Here are some of the best articles I have been reading. Put your big girl panties on and grab a few tissues --- fair warning!

--- Meet 51 Babies Who Were Born Too Soon --- These are short stories with pictures of 51 preemies and where they are now. A good number of them were twins. Many of them were premature due to the mother developing preeclampsia (the reason I was induced) and a small number of them actually weighed more than my boys did at birth (amazing!)

--- I Am a Preemie Parent --- One woman's story about what it's like to be told your child is going to die. Every day. For months.

--- The Surprising Thing I Learned from Having a Micro-Preemie --- This baby spent 156 days in the NICU. Mom couldn't hold her baby for the first 30 days, but she has such a wonderful outlook on life!

--- 10 Things Not to Say to a NICU Mom ---  a little bit of a comedic reprieve. But seriously, don't say these things. You might not want to even say them to a mom of a full-term baby.

--- 20 Things Not to Say to a Mom of a Preemie --- in case the last list didn't get through to you, read this one. If you're going to say something, stop. Rethink. Then speak. These moms have enough to deal with as it is.

 --- 10 Incredible Gifts for NICU Families --- Do you know someone with a preemie or a NICU family? Wondering how you can reach out to them? Here are 10 great ideas to show and share some love with the family.

Just minutes old and already had an IV and monitors in place!

Just chillin' in the NICU with "Daaaa"

Were you a NICU family, or do you know a NICU family? I'd love to hear any stories you have as well as any tips for NICU parents!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Product Review - Fisher-Price Laugh and Learn Puppy and Friends Learning Table

Follow Oh.em.gee it's Nikkie on Facebook for more product reviews!

Fisher-Price Laugh and Learn Puppy and Friends Learning Table

We received this toy as a gift right after the babies were born. To be quite honest, it's one of only a handful of toys that we have that requires batteries. Aside from the Exersaucers and one other toy, we have a household full of wooden or non-electronic toys. YAY US! Wooden toys have their place, and I love them as much as the boys do. But they really love this toy. It sings, beeps, lights up, makes all sorts of loud, obnoxious noises and just generally gets these 20 second-long children's songs stuck in your head.

When we first received it, I considered exchanging it for something that was not electronic. Ain't nobody got time for that though, so I begrudgingly gave in and opened it. It's pretty awesome.

For the first 8 or so weeks, it sat in the closet. But as soon as the boys started to develop their neck muscles and could hold their heads up a bit for tummy time, I collapsed it down on 2 legs so that they were able to see and occasionally touch a few buttons.
A few months old and learning Spanish already!
 Around 5-6 months they were able to use it sitting up...


Now, at 8 months, they are just starting to stand and cruise around it to the different areas. Or just stand up and scream at each other because they are so proud of themselves.

Standing is really hard, adult baby work!

  1. ABC's, colors, shapes
  2. Spanish mode
  3. Musical mode - all of these songs are now engraved into my memory
  4. Playtime (computer sounds, piano, just general noises)
A few CONS: 
  1. It's loud. Babies are loud. This toy is louder.
  2. It comes with a little blue phone (not pictured in my photos, but it is in the photo at the top of this post) but it is not attached to the toy so it's ALWAYS MISSING. 
  3. The legs are really hard to take on and off... but you shouldn't have to do that too often. 

This toy would make a great Christmas gift for baby - not necessarily a baby shower gift though as it is not essential and they can't use it for a while. Bonus points if you can find one for cheap at a yard sale on online yard sale!

Need additional Christmas present ideas? Check
out these posts and product reviews!
--- Top 10 Baby Items from a Mom of Twins
--- Munchkin Fresh Food Feeders
---3 Awesome Baby Shower Gift Ideas (or Christmas presents for a new baby!)

Follow Oh.em.gee it's Nikkie on Facebook for more product reviews!

Monday, November 10, 2014

3 Things I Wish I Would Have Done While Pregnant...

First photo together!
 This time last year I was pregnant, knowingly expecting twins, but not yet knowing that they were both boys! Looking back at the past year there are a few things I wish I would have done and/or done better. IF I were to re-do this whole preggy thing again, these will be on the top of my to-do list so I don't miss out on the memories... again!

3 things I wish I would have done while pregnant...

1. Kept a log/scrapbook/journal - anything! Something I could have kept ultrasound photos in with dates and estimated weights of the babies. Something to log dates of when I first felt them move, our anatomy scan or even when and how we announced our pregnancy to our family and friends. Sure, Facebook has done an okay job keeping track of some of that but I actually kept most of my pregnancy off of social media - photos of my baby bump are carefully stashed away, for the most part!

Andy kept a mental log of my complaints and pregnancy symptoms - just to use against me in the future, I'm sure, but a year later I can barely remember some things. I will never forget the acid reflux though. I actually thought I was dying the first time I got it - Christmas Eve to be exact. That will forever be burned into my memory! I would definitely recommend keeping a journal - if only as a reminder of how miserable you were!

Almost 2 weeks old and swimming in newborn clothing!
2. Purchased a handful of preemie outfits. Yeah, this one never even crossed my mind with the twins. I knew the chances were pretty high that they would be at least a little premature but I was convinced that I was going to carry them to term (still convinced that I COULD have if I wouldn't have had to be induced!) and that they would go straight into newborn sized clothing. Well, they were a little early and a little small and looked more than a little ridiculous in newborn sized clothing.

Even if I would have had just an outfit or two for each of them so they could be in well-fitting clothing for photos, that would have been a step up. I had months to prepare and I forgot to get them clothing! First time mommy problems.

6 months pregnant...

3. Taken one final belly picture. I have very few pictures of my pregnant self, by choice. I have maybe 2 or 3 made public to the world, a few from my baby shower and a small stash of other ones hidden away on my husband's computer where no one can find them. Not because I am self-conscious. Not because I hated being pregnant. Just because I'm a fairly private person and I did not want my pregnant self posted all over the internet for everyone to see and judge.

I do wish I would have remembered to take one last picture on the day I was induced, when I was at my largest. Not for Facebook. Just for me.

Do you have anything you really wish you would have done? Anything you're definitely doing for next time (ha... next time!)???

Monday, November 3, 2014

Daily Schedule for Twins at 7 1/2 Months

Follow Oh.em.gee it's Nikkie on Facebook to see what the twins are up to!

These babies are MOBILE! They roll, scoot, crawl, climb and they can ALMOST stand on their own. I have been busy, busy, busy these past few weeks supervising them nearly constantly and teaching them all sorts of new tricks and skills. I have learned over the last few weeks that baby-proofing is not a once-and-done thing. It is constantly evolving and I baby-proof on an almost hourly basis depending on where the boys are and what they can now get into!

Love me some happy morning babies!
Daily schedule for twins at 7 1/2 months:

7 a.m. - Wake up! Play time in their nursery and read a book.

8 a.m. - Breakfast bottle and then head downstairs for playtime. They can go between their Exersaucers and playpen (a.k.a. environmental enrichment area) and I do keep the TV on for background noise. We watch "educational" shows such as The Crocodile Hunter and Doc McStuffins --- that show is adorable!!!

9:30 a.m. - First nap of the day. We are currently transitioning to a 2-nap schedule instead of the 3-nap schedule since they are almost 8 months old.

11 a.m. - Lunch! This consists of 3-4 ounces of fruits, veggies, oatmeal - whatever homemade and delicious baby food I have created. Today's menu is a a gourmet pea puree (Steamed peas, oatmeal, dried thyme, Parmesan cheese, small amount of salt and butter) and they love it! Oliver actually growled at me while he was eating because I wasn't feeding him fast enough.

Can you guess what educational/historical movie is playing?
11:30 a.m.  - Bottle #2 and playtime

1 p.m.  - Nap #2. Our goal is to make this the longest nap of the day... so far it's hit or miss. On the good days this will be the final nap but on the bad days we will need to squeeze in a 3rd nap.

2:30 p.m. - Bottle #3. Then we practice sitting in the high chairs and using sippy cups and eating Cheerios. We've been working on this for about a month now and they can finally get the Cheerios into their mouths ...sometimes! Junior and Bubsy camp out under the highchairs for scraps.

4 p.m. - Nap #3 - no longer than 45 minutes at best. They need to be up by 5 p.m. for when Daaaa gets home from work and so we can eat dinner together.

5 p.m. - Bottle #4 and frozen berries/bananas in the mesh feeders. The boys sit in their high chairs with us and we have a family dinner. Every night that we're all home together. Good habits start early!

6:30 p.m. -  Solids meal #2 followed by "dessert." I'm a big fan of dessert as you know. They get a few spoonfuls of plain Greek yogurt with pumpkin pie spice/cinnamon/fruit puree.

6:45 p.m. - Start bedtime routine. Play upstairs in their room, bath time, clean diapers and clothes, sleeping bags and bottle #5. Everyone is in their cribs and asleep by 7:30! 

Christmas shopping with these adult babies!
Some skills we are working on:
-Waving hello and goodbye
-GO CRAZY (thanks to Grandma Teenie)
-Standing/walking/couch surfing
-Pulling up on everything
-Sippy cups, Cheerios and other finger foods
-Exploring the house
-Opening and closing drawers
-Banging on things, clapping, generally learning to make noise and manipulate their little bodies and toys
-Going out in public in their big boy stroller (not the infant car seats anymore!)
-New adult baby car seats!
-Petting the "kihkitties" nicely!

Things we haven't quite gotten to yet:
-Teeth. Not a single tooth
-No mamamama or dadadada... yet!
-Giving kisses/blowing kisses