Meet a How Do You Do It? author

SarahP

Sarah is a stay-at-home mom to 3-year-old Cameron, and fraternal twin boys, Jackson and Benson, who are 1.5. She graduated from Brigham Young University with a BA in Dance and teaches ballet lessons part time. Her husband is in his third year of medical school and part of the United States Air Force. When free time pops up she enjoys digital scrap booking, reading, bubble baths, and dates with her husband. She hopes that she can provide a realistic, but very up beat voice about life with twins, and ultimately motherhood in general.

Make-It Monday: Pumpkins at Bath Time

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Before I show you anything I first have to say that this was 100% not my own idea. I got it right here from a blog called Growing a Jeweled Rose. If you have never been there, you should go there. It has awesome activities to do with your children. I love it!

We have done this for a couple of years now and it continues to be a hit, so I thought it was worth spreading around. You just cut shapes out of black, green, and orange craft foam sheets. You can get these at Wal Mart, Target, or pretty much any craft store. Once they get wet they stick to the bath walls and each other.

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My kids also love it when I dye the bath water with food coloring for some extra Halloween fun.

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My toddler likes to make faces on the pumpkins. My 18-month-olds like sticking the pieces all over the tub, or just squishing them in the water. In fact, Jack and Ben were going through a very anti-bath phase until I busted these pumpkins back out and now I can’t keep them out.

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Here’s a whole collection ideas from Growing A Jeweled Rose for Halloween themed baths.

Enjoy!

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Make-It-Monday: Paper Wheel Decoration

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I was looking for something to add color to my boy’s room, but didn’t want to put too many holes in the wall to do it. Plus, my husband and I don’t like hanging anything that has some weight to it above cribs and in a room with two cribs and a toddler bed, that leaves zero wall space for most decorations! So, I wanted something cute, colorful, and extremely light weight. I found these paper wheels on Pinterest a while ago and thought they would be great!

Here’s the tutorial I used: http://catchmyparty.com/blog/diy-how-to-make-a-backdrop-out-of-paper-rosettes

I first used them for Jack and Ben’s 1 year photos:

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But I had to make more and add some things to put them up on the wall in their room like this:

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After you have all of your wheels, this is what you’ll need:

  • A few straws, how many depends on how many wheels you have.
  • Small rectangles of construction paper, cut about 1 inch tall and 2.5 inches wide. They don’t have to be perfect because they won’t be seen.
  • Hooks to screw into the wall.
  • String/yarn/twine/ribbon to put the wheels on.

Here’s what to do:

  1. Hot glue the rectangular piece of construction paper to the back of the wheels. I laid mine out on the counter top to make sure I was spacing them evenly on the fans. If one is an inch lower than another, the fans won’t hang at the same length. IMG_5087
  2. Then I cut up a few straws into 1.5-2 inch pieces and hot glued those to the construction paper.
  3. Get some hooks/screws/nails to put into the wall for hanging. I used these Screw Eyes from Wal Mart. I like that they had a hole I could tie the string through and they were really easy to use. You just hand screw them into the wall.

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4. Lastly, just string the wheels onto some string (or whatever you are using) and tie them to the screws.

 

 

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Foodie Friday: Re-Usable Squeeze Pouches

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I’ve had two things on my mind lately that I’ve been wanting to do something about.

1. My three little boys eat SO MUCH FOOD. It’s great that they have hearty appetites, but “snacks” have been costing us a lot of money.

2. Try as I may, my boys are extremely selective about eating vegetables. My twins did great when they were infants eating whatever baby food I made for them, but now that they are almost 18 months, they are putting up much more of a stink. They just won’t eat them.

So, I’ve been trying to find a happy medium between quick snacks and healthy snacks. I found that my kids were eating mostly fruits and processed carbs, so I’ve been really wanting to find a way to get vegetables back into their diets.

I have always loved how simple and healthy all of the fruit and vegetable squeeze packs are; like the Go-Go Squeeze packs if that helps you put a picture to my description. However, they are on the more expensive side and it always kind of bugged me that each pack only gave me one use.

I ended up buying my own re-usable pouches that I can put my own fruit/vegetable concoctions in. They can hold more than some of the other disposable ones on the market, and you get to choose what kinds of fruits and vegetables go in them. Plus, it’s cheaper.

True, you have to put in the time to fill them and make the stuff, but it has been a good fit for our family.

I got these ones, but there are loads of options out there. Just look them up on Amazon and use the reviews to see which brand you want.

IMG_5137 I’m not gonna lie, it was a little annoying getting the sauces into the pouches. I just used a spoon so it got kind of messy, but I think I’m going to try to find a wide funnel next time. Or maybe the top of a 2L soda bottle? I’m sure there are easier ways.

I made a recipe that I used to make when they were just starting solids with broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, and milk, but it was far too strong for them at this stage. So, I had to tone it down by mixing it with applesauce, which they gobbled up.IMG_5138

Here is the finished product. Lots of yummy pouches.

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I went ahead and included a picture of my favorite baby food recipe book, Baby Love: Healthy, Easy, Delicious Meals for Your Baby and Toddler by Sarah O’Donnell and Geoff Tracy. I’ve used it for three kids now and I just love it. It has great recipes and tips in it if you’re looking for something like that.

Happy snacking, Mom!

Please share your tips and tricks with me for getting your toddlers to eat vegetables!

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Twinfant Tuesday: Car Eating

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This post could very easily be a no-brainer for most of you parents out there, but I just thought I’d share the tip anyway! We had a big move in July and this turned out to be a successful way to keep the little munchkins happily snacking during the trip. I think it’s great for car trips both long and short. Again, many of you may find yourselves rolling you eyes thinking, “Come on, give me something new here lady!” but for me it was a stroke of genius.

I went out and got some of those Munchkin Snack Catcher cups and attached them to a bunch of baby rings which I then connected to the seat back of the driver and passenger seats. That way if they dropped the cup I could just feel for the rings and pull it up and hand it to them. No turning around to find something that has fallen, no grabbing for snacks in the seat next to me all the time. For the most part, they ate out of these cups.IMG_4926 IMG_4927

You could also attach a bunch of toys that way. When infants are rear-facing you can attach things like this to the adjustable handle bar of the carrier too. I’ve also had success attaching toys and snacks to my strollers this way for long outings. They are at a stage when throwing stuff around is the cool thing to do, so putting stuff on rings makes things easier for mom and dad.

Hope that helps! Any other easily over-looked tricks out there?

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Make-It Monday: Photo Birthday Cards for Relatives

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Between my side of the family and my husband’s side of the family, we are heading right into big time birthday season. August thru December are birthday after birthday after birthday within our extended family.

I made a goal to be better about remembering birthdays, so this is what I came up with to help me keep on top of it.

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The top and bottom got a little bit cropped off in the printing process, but I just went with it! Having three wee babes has demolished what little bit of perfectionism I had.

Here’s how:

1. Take pictures of your smooshy, gooshy, pinchable cherubs that would look like they were holding something. I had to dangle leaves over my 15-month-olds heads to get them to reach and look up.

2. Crop the pictures and put them side by side and save them as a jpeg image. I was just going to put them together in Word, but then I decided to get a little fancier and use photoshop. If you don’t have photoshop, put them in word and crop them how you want them. You can then probably just print them at home on some photo paper.

3. Make the things you want them to hold. I thought it would be cute to do little hearts made out of their thumb prints. This worked well for my three-year-old, but my twins were done after the first thumb print, so we had to speedily get as many thumb prints onto their papers as we could and hope for the best!

I was going to use paint, but at the last minute I had the brilliant idea to just color their thumbs with marker and get their prints that way. Way less stressful than having to contain the paint!

They each had their own paper so that I wouldn’t mix up thumb prints.

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4. Next is assembling the card. I first used a pin to poke the holes that I needed by their fists, so that I could get the toothpicks in easier.

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Then I put the toothpicks in. I had to snap off the bottom end because they were too long, but it was pretty easy. I then trimmed off any splintery edges and taped the thumb prints onto the toothpicks.

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Ta-da!!

They do bow a bit, so if you can think of something thinner than toothpicks that would probably work slightly better. They still lay flat in the envelopes though, so it’s not a big deal.

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5. My oldest had fun decorating envelopes for us to use too.

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We decided to be really classy and use Wal Mart stickers. We have a plethora of these now because a merciful WM cashier took pity on me when the boys were acting up in the check-out line and cut off a big old chunk of them for the boys.

One of the best parts was sitting at the counter with Cameron and talking. He practiced his cutting on scraps of paper from the thumb prints while I put the cards together. It was worth letting him stay up passed bed time.

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Now we have 10 cards ready to go and it won’t be a huge hassle to make more when we need them. Before I was always scrambling the week of to throw something together and pulling my hair out trying to force the kids to paint on this, or scribble on that. This was nice and easy and we are set for the first couple of months of birthday chaos.

Plus, you can do this type of thing for so many other occasions like Father’s/Mother’s Day, Grandparent’s Day, Valentine’s, get well cards, thank you notes. You can change it up by having them “hold” different things like lollipops, “lightsabers”, chocolates on sticks, flags, whatever works for the occasion.

Happy I’m-all-set-and-ready-for-family-birthday’s, Mom!

 How do you acknowledge the birthdays of your kid’s aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents?

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6 Activities for the Last Month of Summer

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Just in case you are running out of ideas for your last month of summer, here are some things that have been a success at our house.

1. Walks. So simple and so easy. Great for when you just need to get out of the house and breath fresh air. You determine how long you’re out there and the pace. You can let the kids get out to explore along the route, or you can just let them observe from the stroller.IMG_45272. Bubbles. My older son got a bubble machine for his third birthday and it has been a hit. I’m glad that we have it, because I kept getting light headed after bubble sessions. Now the machine does all the work and I can just sit and enjoy the fun.IMG_4579 IMG_4589

 

3. Plasma Cars. These are new to me, but the people we are renting from now left them here for us to use and the kids have really enjoyed them. They are ideal for toddlers and kids, but my 15 month old twins really like riding them with us. I like that they are low to the ground and don’t move too fast for safety reasons.

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4. Parades and other community activities. If you haven’t looked into what your community has to offer you as far as summer festivals, rodeos, parades, or markets go, I highly recommend googling it and seeing if there is anything left for August. We have really enjoyed participating in what the community has to offer. Plus, most of these things are free or take little money.

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5. Treasure hunts. My in-laws have done several treasure hunts on the hiking trails by their house, and they are normally pretty fun for the kids. Someone just walks ahead of the group and plants some clues and some sort of “treasure” at the end.IMG_4894

6. Water play. This was an item I needed to check off of my list that ended up being a really entertaining activity for the kids. I wanted to wash off all of our magnetic letters that had been on the refrigerator before we moved. It just so happened that it was a day when my kids were not in the best of moods. I put a couple of buckets on the porch with a little soap and water in them and then dumped the letters in. I handed out wash cloths and just let them have at it and they loved it. It took up a good amount of time, it accomplished a small chore, and they had a lot of fun with it.

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Summer on, Mom!

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Twinfant Tuesday: Moving with Twins

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Moving with a baby is tough. Moving with twins can be down right torture. Depending on their age, there is a pretty good chance they will be unpacking faster than you can pack.

We just got settled in after moving to another state and it has been a whirlwind. A “I think Mommy’s lost her marbles” whirlwind.

If you must face the feat, here are some of the things I did/learned in the process.

WHEN TO PACK: I think it’s really hard to balance packing enough in advance that you’re not a complete wreck the night before you move, while not packing so early that you find yourself needing a hundred things that you “just packed” for a month. This is especially true with all of the baby toys, clothes, and other items that you tend to need right up until the move.

I packed a few boxes here and there during nap times the month before our move, but really we saved the packing for the week of. This was stressful, but it was more preferable for our situation. We were in a two bedroom apartment and we don’t have an extraordinary amount of stuff. We really didn’t want the stress of the move to plague us for the 1-2 months preceding the move by being half in and half out of our place. Obviously moving from a larger home might necessitate a different plan.

I did pack the kid’s toys in phases and this worked out really well. I saved their favorite toys for last, hoping that they would be the ones that occupied their attention the longest. The really nice bonus was that once we got to our new home, unpacking the toys that were packed first was like Christmas and they were entertained for quite a while during the unpacking process.

BABYSITTERS: This is a big plug for babysitters. I wish I tried harder to arrange for someone to watch the boys for a while the week of our move.

We took breaks with the kids by taking them out to do fun things outside so that they could have our full focus, but they were still begging for our attention at home while we were trying to pack. As you probably well know, trying to accomplish something while your kids are competing for your attention can result in extremely high levels of frustration amazingly fast.

This is why I would highly recommend getting someone to watch your wee babes for at least a few hours so you can hammer out some major packing. It’s really hard when you are on a tight budget, but maybe you can work out some kind of trade with someone if you need to. It’s so worth it. They will have a happier few hours and you will be able to turn up the jams and pack like a boss.

I also highly recommend getting someone to watch the kids while you clean. If you have to choose between getting a sitter for cleaning or getting a sitter for packing, I would definitely recommend cleaning. I did not plan out the cleaning well. I thought I did, but the morning of the move 50 things I hadn’t thought of popped up singing, “clean me! clean me! clean me!” until my brain went numb.

I was stressed out, my husband was stressed out, and the kids were going crazy. Amidst the chaos, one of the twins managed to spill a puddle of liquid laundry detergent on the carpet. How do you clean up something that won’t stop bubbling and sudsing all over the carpet?

Lucky for me, a good friend saved me from losing my mind. She came over and helped with cleaning the kitchen and then after seeing the desperate situation I had created for myself she rescheduled her day so that she could take her kids and my kids to the park. She was Heaven sent that day. I was so grateful for that tender mercy since I obviously hadn’t planned well for that stressful morning. Learn from my mistake!

We still ended up leaving a few hours later than we were planning on, but we got it all done and here’s hoping we’ll get most of our deposit back!

Packing and moving are stressful. There’s really no way to completely avoid that, but you can at least heavily lighten the load. Hope these tips help.

Pack on, Mom.

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Toddler Thursday: Dealing with a Toddler and Bed Rest

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One year ago today I got hospitalized for one week because I went into pre-term labor with my twin boys. Things worked out really well and I was fortunate enough to go home for the remainder of my pregnancy, but on strict bed rest.

One of my biggest worries with the sudden change of events was my toddler, who was just a few months shy of 2 at the time. Most of my stress was put at ease by my amazing mother-in-law who was able to put her life on hold for a month so that she could come stay with us and help out, but I still felt badly that I couldn’t take care of my own son.

I felt like I couldn’t do some of the things that I had hoped to do with Cameron before the babies came. I really wanted to make him feel special, because I knew having two new babies in the house would be a radical change for him and I suddenly felt like I couldn’t have that bonding time with him.

Thankfully I was able to move past that idea and I realized there was still a lot that I could do from where I was sitting. I was still able to have that special time with him and you can too if this is something that you’re dealing with in some form or another. Injury, morning sickness, fatigue, or just a down right bad head cold.

Some great ideas for spending time with your toddler while you're on bed rest

Here are just a few suggestions of things you can do with your toddler(s) with very minimal physical effort:

  • Read books. Kind of no-brainer, right? My son loves books. You can make them more interactive by pointing out colors, animals, emotions, etc. Ask them to find things, ask them what sounds the animals in the illustrations make, ask them to imitate scenes, help them fall in love with a series. Books can go a long way.
  • Coloring. Markers, colored pencils, crayons, Do-A-Dot, dry erase markers on white boards or pictures in page protectors, Color Wonder markers if you’re nervous about them getting marker on the couch/bed.
  • Camp out by the bath tub and let them have at it with shaving cream or water colors all over the tub and tile.
  • Cameron loved stickers, so letting him go through his sticker book and putting stickers all over papers was a hit.
  • Let them play trains or cars gently on your tummy. You could put tape on your belly to create lanes.
  • See if they’re interested in interacting with the baby/babies in mom’s tummy. Can they feel them move? Can they hear them? What would they like to say to them?
  • Let them snuggle up to you and watch a movie or video clips on YouTube. I pulled out a lap top and watched some of my sons favorite animal clips all the time.
  • Have your child put on a show for you. They can put on some dress up outfits and you can turn on some music from your phone for them to dance around to.
  • Pretend that your child is a doctor and you are their patient. They can check your vitals while you lay down.
  • They can “write” a letter to Grandma/Grandpa. Have them write alphabet letters on a piece of paper as if their writing words. If they aren’t old enough to actually write alphabet letters, maybe have them type on a lap top or computer keyboard. You can make the font really big so they can see it better and they can just type away.

Life throws us lots of curve balls, so save this list for a rainy day. No need to feel guilty about not being able to invest your normal amount of effort each day when you are under the weather. Your children can still feel your love for them and appreciate spending time with you all the same.

Rest on, Mom.

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Twinfant Tuesday: Bath Time

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Bath time can be kind of tricky with multiples. To me, it felt like less work to kind of do a marathon of baths than to do each kid at completely separate times.

The first several months we used a normal little baby tub and did them one right after the other. I’d just roll up my pants and squat down in the bath tub to save my back from leaning over the edge of the tub.

At first I would only do it when my husband was home to help, but then I got comfortable going through the process by myself too. That happens a lot when you have twins. Sink or swim, right?

When they were about 6 months old we started putting them in the bath tub together in Bumbos. Use caution because the more water you put into the tub, the less stable the Bumbos become. Again, at first I would only do this when my husband was around in case I needed back up, but now I’m fine to do it safely by myself.

They LOVED bath time this way. They could splash, play with toys, etc. It has been a really fun and convenient way for us to do bath time.

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Splash on, Mom.

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Twinfant Tuesday: Taking Time for Mom

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Hey fellow new M.O.M.’s. Today I just wanted to put in a plug for you to relax.

Babies are awesome. Motherhood is awesome. Let’s be honest though, sometimes it downright stinks.

Fact: Motherhood is extremely hard. There is endless material discussing the hardships of motherhood so I’m not going to go on about what you already know. You’re living it.

What I hope you will ask yourself right now is, are you taking time out for you? For me, the hardest part of mentally coping with the idea of taking time out for me is that I always feel like there is something else my family needs of me. I need to update the budget, I need to clean, I need to do laundry, I need to become a master of nutrition so my family is healthy, I need to update the baby books so these memories are documented, I need to plan all sorts of learning activities, I must figure out the secret of other Super Mom’s, blah blah blah. I could go on for quite a while with my personal list of time fillers.

I know that there is research out there that will back me up in this, but I don’t have any to reference for you right now. My personal experience tells me that none of the things on my list are more important than keeping my stress levels in check. I have to take time to de-stress and so do you. So does everybody on the planet who wants a healthy life style.

Mom TimeOne of my professors in college used to say, “When mom ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.” I think about it every once in a while and remind myself that there is nothing selfish about doing what you need to do for yourself to keep you happy. It is more beneficial for your family that you are happy than that the house is spotless.

Need some ideas? Since having your multiples, has the idea of taking time for yourself become so foreign to you that you wouldn’t even know where to begin with de-stressing? Here are some ideas, Mama.

Go take a nap. So simple, right? Sometimes I’m a amazed at how much one good nap can do. Nap when they’re napping, call in a favor from a friend so that someone can watch the kids while you nap.

One of my all time favorites is a bubble bath with a book or a movie. It’s a special treat at the end of a hard day, right after you go through the marathon of putting all the kids down for bed.

Indulge in a little bit of comfort food. One time my husband came home unexpectedly from school (he’s  a med student) and just walked in and said, “Why don’t you just get out of the house for an hour and go grab yourself an ocean water?” Ever had an ocean water from Sonic? Heaven on Earth. It was blissful to peruse apps on my phone and sip my ocean water in a random parking lot for 45 minutes.

Dates. I could do a whole post on date ideas. It may be rare, but it is so nice to be able to get out with my husband and do something fun together. We both come back more energized for day-to-day life.

Work out, join a book club, go on a walk to get fresh air, go sit and people watch on a park bench, watch a favorite movie, have a girl’s night, journal, whatever it is that will recharge you and help you be a happier parent. Let yourself de-stress and don’t feel a lick of guilt about it! Life will be better.

Take time for yourself, Mom.

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