Make-It Monday: Halloween Decorations with the Littles

Since I graduated from elementary school, I haven’t been much of a fan of Halloween.  Having kiddos, though, made me appreciate the holiday in an entirely different light.  (Really, I appreciate every holiday in much more depth…an opportunity for themed crafts?  Sign me up!)

I just decorated our mantle and shelves for Halloween, and I still love the little wreath the girls and I made about three years ago, when they were a little more than 2 1/2.Halloween1  I bought a package of foam pumpkin shapes from the dollar bin at Target. I asked the girls what kind of expressions they would like…a smile or a frown…and I cut some shapes from black felt.  I let the girls sort through my button collection to find three sets of two buttons.  And I cut a green leaf from some scrap foam.  The girls were able to glue the findings in place, and I attached them to a small grapevine wreath I found at the craft store.  I added a little bit of polka-dot ribbon to finish the look, and this little creation has been adorning our den each Halloween since.  I love the different expressions on the pumpkins’ faces!

Even more than our wreath, I love our collection of Halloween family pictures.  I didn’t set out for this to become a tradition…the girls’ first Halloween I just happened to take advantage of a neighbor walking by and I asked her to make a picture of the four of us.  Now, I make special arrangements to have someone take our picture.  I love adding a new photo each year!

I had the idea a couple of years ago to paint wooden frames to display our family pictures.  I bought these unfinished frames at the craft store for $1 each (usually less a 40% off coupon!).  The girls have helped me paint the solid grounds, but the finishing touches I leave for me to enjoy.  I love coming up with a new frame theme each year.


I guess you can say I’ve gotten into the Halloween spirit over the past five years.  As long as the girls are content to wear adorably cute (not-so-scary) costumes, this might even become one of my favorite holidays.

Do you decorate for Halloween?

MandyE is mom to 5 1/2-year old fraternal twin girls.  She blogs about their adventures, and her journey through motherhood, at Twin Trials and Triumphs.

Make-it Monday: Cookie Costumes

Last year was my twins’ first Halloween. Big Sis was 3.5, and her brother and sister were 11 months old. It was my first chance to come up with coordinating costumes for my kiddos, and I ran with it! They were dressed as Cat in the Hat and Thing 1 and Thing 2– top hat, white gloves, blue wigs, and all. We went to Picture People for photos, and I now have irrefutable evidence of how cute they were. (To give you an idea, one picture poses Big Sis in an armchair reading The Cat in the Hat to her brother and sister seated on a bench.)

Obviously, I hope to continue these coordinating costumes for as many years as I possibly can.

This year, now that my eldest is almost 4.5, with many ideas of her own, I included her in choosing their Halloween costumes. I gave her some ideas, but ultimately we decided together. I suggested she be a chef, she changed that to baker. She wanted her siblings to be cupcakes, I changed that to chocolate chip cookies.

Baker’s costume was easy. I found a chef jacket and baker’s poofy white hat and ordered them on Amazon. But after scouring etsy and pinterest, I decided to make the chocolate chip cookies myself.

Materials for two cookie costumes:

1 yd light brown felt

2 pcs dark brown felt

1 yd batting

1 spool dark brown thread

2 yd dark brown thin ribbon

1 yd dark brown thick ribbon

I first found a template to use for my circle cutouts. After looking around the house, I found this SuperSeat base that had the diameter I was looking for, about 16.5 in. I traced it with a Sharpie and cut out 4 disks at a time from a 1/2 yard of felt that was folded over twice. I did it again with the other 1/2 1

Then I freehanded the chocolate chips to the dark brown felt. These came in 9×12 sheets. I pinned them together and cut them out 2

Next I randomly pinned the chocolate chips to four of the round circles. I could have attached them with a hot glue gun or even spray adhesive, but I chose to actually sew these on. It was time consuming, but felt much more 3

In the middle of the other 4 round pieces I sewed on a 1/2 yd length of the thin ribbon, just attached at the center about 6 inches. These are the straps to tie on the sides. On top I sewed in the shoulder straps, about 9 inches of the thick ribbon each. (I heat sealed all the ribbon ends so they don’t fray.)image

Then I pinned the chocolate chip side to the strap side, wrong sides facing out, making sure the side ties line up. I decided to sew all the way around instead of leaving a side open for stuffing. That’s because I’m horrible at hand-sewing, and I knew that with my skill the cookie would turn out lopsided.image_1

Instead, I chose to cut a slit under the strap, and pulled the cookie inside out through it. I did end up hand-sewing these closed, but there would have been no problem leaving them open.image_3

I stuffed it using the batting I cut from the same SuperSeat template, after trimming it about an inch around for seam allowance. I did this four times. My guess is that they took about 4 hours over three separate nights.image_2

The completed cookies consist of four cookie pads, one for the front and back of each twin, attached at the top with ribbon, and tied on the sides with ribbon. Here’s Baby Boy sporting his new Halloween costume. Baby Girl decided not to cooperate. photo 4

How cute are they? I’m just giddy thinking about Big Sis in her baker’s costume, holding the hands of her chocolate chip cookie brother and sister! Next step, booking a photography session.

lunchldyd has her fingers crossed that all her kids cooperate for another set of adorable pictures. She is grateful that her current part-time teaching schedule is allowing her to think creatively and enjoy time for her crafty pursuits.

Toddler Thursday: Easing Fears at the Pediatrician

The holiday just before my girls were three, they got a toy doctor kit.  Immediately, it was a huge hit.  They checked out all their babies, and each of their stuffed animals took a visit to the vet clinic.

Dr kitWith their three-year check-up soon approaching, I decided to get in on the pretend action, admittedly with a bit of an agenda.

I made a big deal, talking about each of the different instruments, what they were used for…and how they were just like the ones Dr. F, our pediatrician, uses.  We took turns being the doctor, the nurse, and the patient, and I made a point to work into the scenario that someone was scared.

“I understand you feel scared, Mr. Bear, but you know Dr. A.  She’s been taking excellent care of you since you were a tiny cub.  First, she’s going to listen to your heart.  What a cool stethoscope!  Ooh…is it cold?  Does it tickle?  I know it does hurt.”

“Now she’s going to take a little peek in your ears.  It’s OK…there’s no need to be scared!  She’s just checking to make sure you didn’t lose any bananas in there.”

“This little band measures your blood pressure, how fast your blood is dancing around inside your body.  Is your arm ready for a hug???”

The girls got very accustomed to the routine, and soon they were repeating it to all their babies.  They were very encouraging, even to the most scared bear cub.

The real key (advice I got from a friend) was the positioning of the shot.  There’s truly nothing to be afraid of as far as the exam goes, right?  But shots hurt…no way around it.  And that’s the approach I took with the girls.

Mr. Bear, it’s time for a shot.  It will hurt, but ONLY for a second!  Then you’ll be ALL DONE and then we’ll go do something fun / get a sticker / have an ice cream [insert reward of choice]!”

My girls are now almost six, and they haven’t cried at the pediatrician — even for shots — since before they were three.  Empowering them with information and perspective has made visits to the pediatrician nothing to sweat.

(And, as a side note, my girls still play with their doctor kit almost daily.  “Vet” is a huge theme at our house.  That’s what both girlies say they want to be when they grow up, and they make sure to get lots of practice.)

MandyE is mom to 5 1/2-year old twin girls, A and B.  She blogs about their adventures, and her journey through motherhood, at Twin Trials and Triumphs.

Make-It-Monday: Taking Control of my Life

Or rather, TRYING to take control of my life.  Our oldest daughter just started Kindergarten, the twins are 2, my husband has a 2 hour commute to his work, and when I am not staring in the role of “mom”, I have a job too.  Life was getting (getting?) out of control.  And I an a big fan of control.  Control is good.  Very good.  Oh, and to cap off the madness, we just moved.  So not only are things not quite as under control as I would like, but I can’t find anything!

The kitchen in our new house is great.  I think it is supposed to be a kitchen and family room all in one, but we use another room as a family room, so the kitchen just has a big empty space.  And with 2 year old twins, that is all I need.  The kitchen also has our kindergartener’s desk.  And since the laundry room is right off it and the stairs come into it, this room is truly the heart of the house.  So it is the perfect place for me to set up a command center.

This wall started as a hodge podge – I put up a calendar, took it down, a message board, took it down, until i finally got this.  And I love it!  It is bright and colorful and kid friendly. It has something for everyone, and it can grow up with us.

It was key to me to have something for the twins in the command center.

This is a simple frame from Michael’s Crafts with the gloss popped out. I put in a piece of sheet metal that I covered with some fun scrapbook paper. And voila! We finally have a magnetic surface in the new house! The twins spend a lot of time playing with this magnetic animal thing. When it gets boring, we will swap it out for magnetic letters or something…

I also made a “grown up” version of the same magnetic board, also with no glass, sheet metal and pretty paper. This one is higher up and perfect for notes I need to keep, like birthday party invitations, and messages from school.

Below the grown up magnetic board is a ribbon board I found at a tag sale a few years ago.

This is perfect for storing papers that the kids can have access to. The little guys like seeing their pictures in there too. And that lottery ticket is a winner! We need to turn that in, it has been there a LONG time!  Do lottery tickets expire?

I purposely hung the clock really low. Emily is working on telling time and we use that clock often (little hand on the 7, big hand on the 12, let’s get read to take the kids to day care!) And next to that is my picture frame calendar.  This is one of my favorite projects.  I made it a few years ago.  That is a simple 8 slot picture frame.  Here I left the glass in, but instead of pictures, I put in scrapbook paper with days of the week stickers.  Grass works just like a dry erase board!  So this is our weekly calendar.

And in the small space to the left of the calendar, I have my trains – Emily, Spencer and Sidney Thomas trains!

it is a great little fun happy space for us, and we love it! AND, it is keeping us (me) organized. I know what days Emily has gym (and has to wear sneakers in stead of her beloved high heels), I can keep play dates organized, and I have a place to keep those little things you need and would lose if they were anywhere else! So far, we have taken command of life!

This command center has definitely helped me get and stay more organized.  I am not sure it is makes me more organized or just gives off that illusion, but I love it, the kids love it, and we use it!


Beth is known as mommy by a 5 year old kindergartener and boy-girl 2 year old twins.  She blogs about life, kids, and DIY, at Pickles in my Tea and in my Soup.

Foodie Friday: Oven Pancake

Hot out of the oven

Puffy oven pancake

This has become a staple breakfast in our house over the past month or two!  I love this recipe because it is easy to make, has a decent amount of protein, isn’t overly sweet, and is flexible in that you can use whatever fruit you have on hand. Our almost one year old triplets gobble it up every time!  We’ve made it with peaches, peaches & plums, and bananas.  Here’s the banana version I made today:

Put these ingredients in the blender & blend until smooth:

4 eggs

3/4c milk (we usually use almond)

3/4 flour (works just fine with gluten free flour mixes too!)

1tsp vanilla

dash of salt

1-2tbs of sugar (we usually use coconut sugar or maple syrup)

2tbs melted butter or oil (I typically use coconut oil)

Melt 1-2 T butter in a cast iron skillet and add 2T sugar (this carmelizes the sugar) and add a layer of thinly sliced fruit covering most of the bottom of the pan.

Pour the blender contents over the fruit and bake at 425 for 20-25 min.

I love to serve it with a big scoop of yogurt, a drizzle of maple syrup, and a dash of cinnamon.  It is also good with a sprinkling of powdered sugar.

pancake with yogurt, maple syrup & cinnamon

My favorite way to eat it!

Twinfant Tuesday: Moms Need Food, too!


A mother expecting twins recently asked on the San Antonio Mother’s of Multiples FB page how the moms fed themselves after the babies were born. What a great question because we are often more concerned with how they will be fed and we forget that we need to eat, too. But, a mom (and dad) can get very run-down if he or she is not sleeping AND not eating well. Sure, we can make do for a while, but being the best parent you can be (even in those crazy first weeks and months) means taking care of your needs, too

Feeding the MomWhen my twins Marc and Maddie were born, we were living far away from our families and we didn’t know our neighbors every well. I think we had two meals brought over by acquaintances from our church. I remember being hungry, tired and cranky a lot of the time. I was trying to lose the baby weight, but I would go for what was quick and available rather than what was the best choice nutritiously.

We were blessed that my mom and my mother-in-law stayed four weeks each, but honestly, I don’t remember them cooking too much because we were all consumed with our premie babies ( I was pumping and everyone else was taking turns feeding them). I do remember that mom made me some excellent salmon patties and individually froze them so that I could take one out of the freezer for lunch after she left. I also remember my 12 year old “mothers helper” learning how to put together lasagna while I shouted out instructions while walking a cranky baby. (Don’t ask me why I decided that I would make lasagna with newborn twins!)

But, leave it to the mother’s of multiples to have some ideas to help new moms and moms-to-be feed themselves AND their families, especially during those weeks (months!) of sleep deprivation and crazy schedules.

Here are five ideas to get YOU fed after you’ve had the babies:

  1. If you are nursing and/or pumping you’ll be HUNGRY. I remember making myself a fried egg almost every night sometime after the midnight feed. You’re burning an extra 600 calories (which is great for losing the baby weight) but you’ll get HUNGRY. Don’t try to diet during this time to get into those pre-pregnancy jeans. EAT MAMA EAT. But, eat the right things: lots of protein, fruits and veggies.
  2. Make freezer meals or better yet, when someone wants to give you a shower suggest a freezer meal shower. Babies don’t need as much stuff as advertisers want you to think they need. BUT you need to EAT! When someone wants to know what you need, don’t be embarrassed to say, FOOD!
  3. Buy fruit and veggies trays. These are already cut up—saving you precious time—and you can munch on them throughout the day/week. This way you aren’t tempted to go for the unhealthy items beckoning from the pantry–especially when you are hungry but you are trying to soothe two (or more) upset babies.
  4. Make double batches of everything and freeze the extra servings. If you are making spaghetti sauce, stew, soup. . .whatever, make double the amount. Start doing this now while you are pregnant.
  5. Buy an electric pressure cooker. Meals can go from frozen to DONE in about 30 minutes. Soups take about 15 minutes. Really this is my go-to appliance when I need dinner on the table FAST. (And you can make extras and freeze another meal for later on.) Here’s a recipe for Beef Green Chili Stew that literally went from freezer to table in 12 minutes.



Foodie Friday: Five Days of Kindergarten School Lunches

Every parent of school-aged kids has the same dilemma – how to pack healthy lunches their kids will eat.

Everyone in our house has been waiting all summer for September to come. Our three year old twins started full day Junior Kindergarten this year. They are really excited about going on the school bus. We are excited to no longer pay for daycare times two!

Of course, time is money because now Mister and Missy need to take their own lunches to school. We (I) agonized in over what to pack in their lunches, how to pack it, how heavy it would be for their backpacks, how to keep their food warm or cool, and so on. Lucky for us, our kids like to eat and get excited with simple foods.

We decided to go with bento box-style containers called Lunchblox by Rubbermaid™. They are amazing and affordable! Aside from having to label and wash the individual pieces, it gives you the flexibility to pack lunches with different configurations. For days we want to pack them a hot (cold) lunch, we got the Funtainer by Thermos™. Finally, for juices, a litterless Rubbermaid™ reuseable juice container. All these items are available at Walmart or our local supermarket, Loblaws.

We (I) had grand plans to make a monthly menu just like the kids’ daycare to take the guesswork out of making lunches and help with weekly groceries. Instead we are winging it and somehow things have been working out well, despite a few late nights spent making their lunches. First was a big shopping trip to Costco to stock up on those essential nut-free snacks until I heard that schools in our area are recommending healthy, nutritious and litter-free snacks. So those Costco purchases (granola bars, applesauce cups, animal cracker pouches, juice boxes) are now a treat once or twice a week.

We have tons of ideas for snacks, but find it difficult to come up with options for the main lunch. Generally, we have been sending them whole wheat bread and cheese, one fruit or vegetable, a small yoghurt or applesauce, and alternating the packaged treats with some homemade baked goods.

I believe the following factors help to makes these lunches disappear into their tummies and not just nibbled on by our little munchkins:

1. Asking M&M what they want in their lunches. Surprisingly, I have been getting some very detailed specs, especially from Mister.

2. Packing the lunch the night before. To keep things dry, I toast the sandwich bread and place the cut fruit/veggie in a paper towel before placing in the lunch container before placing it in the fridge.

3. After breakfast every morning, we take a moment to do the lunchbox “reveal” where they get to see what’s for morning snack, lunch, and dessert. This gets them excited about eating! If there’s something objectionable in their lunch box, now is their chance to tell us.

4. Giving some kind of dip on the side, whether it’s jam for muffins or ranch dressing for veggies, to make the food go down easier.

5. Keeping the portions small, but giving them variety without letting it get overwhelming. For example, we’ll give them half an apple because we know they will eat it, but only 2-3 small pieces of a vegetable. They are more likely to eat a piece or two of the vegetable this way and something is better than nothing!

Here is the menu, more or less, of the first few days of junior kindergarten for our little ones:

Day 1: applesauce, yoghurts, apple slices, seedless red grapes, buttered toast, cheese cubes, water

Day 2: oatmeal-carrot muffin, strawberry applesauce, ½ egg salad sandwich, ½ boiled egg, yoghurt, water, homemade popcorn, 11 goldfish crackers

Day 3 hot lunch: yellow split-pea lentil (daal) and indian flatbread (roti), ½ oatmeal-carrot muffin, raisins, dried blueberries, shreddies, ½ banana, watered down juice

Day 3: Cream cheese pinwheel sandwich (wrapped in the roti), lemon poppy seed loaf, yoghurt, granola bar

Day 4: swiss cheese stuffed in pita pockets, homemade hummus, zucchini sticks and carrots, fortune cookie. Notice the pink and blue compartments are mixed up. This caused a fight at the lunch table which had the kindergarten teachers in stitches. Our Boy/Girl twins are very territorial about their colours!

Cheese pita pockets, hummus and veggies

Cheese pita pockets, hummus and veggies

The aftermath

The aftermath

Day 5: whole wheat croissant stuffed with cheese, applesauce, yoghurt, red bell peppers, pear, cheese cubes, 15 mini cheddar crackers and watered down pineapple juice. We used the Pillsbury bake-your-own croissant dough and placed cubes of pizza mozzarella cheese inside. Yum!

Cheese-filled croissant with sides

Cheese-filled croissant with sides

Missy generally has been eating almost all that we give her while Mister has a more discerning taste.

What our picky eater doesn’t like (and why): homemade baked goods (too dry), homemade hummus (too much garlic), zucchini sticks, red bell pepper (not crunchy)

What has been a crowd pleaser so far: homemade popcorn, bread and cheese, Grandma’s daal, shreddies and crackers, anything that comes in a package.

Tomorrow we will try roast beef sandwich squares, red grapes, and their favourite – daal and rice.

What are some of your go-to school lunch options for your kids? Do you find it gets easier or harder to make school lunches as they get older?

What were YOU THINKING? New Parenting with your Partner

parenting with your partner

Your Partner Isn’t Against You. When you have newborn multiples it may feel otherwise, especially in the first few weeks or months of sleep deprivation.

One of the major differences between having a singleton and multiples is the amount of chaos. You are feeding and changing and nurturing these babies simultaneously. If you have premies those demands can seem even greater.

The best scenario would be to have a partner who is in the game with you.

Since my husband and I had decided that I would stay-at-home with our children, I was the main care-giver. But, I was lucky that he never claimed that he couldn’t get up for night feedings because he had to work the next morning. We both agreed that BOTH of us were working the next morning. . .we just had different jobs and different offices.

Having twins meant that as the primary care giver couldn’t do everything on my own (I bow down to single moms or military wives!) and  it was in the best interest of our new family if Scott and I parented as a team.

But, I also had to come to (the slower and sometimes painful) realization that we parented differently. Ok, to be honest, this realization doesn’t come as a lightening bolt—although that would have been helpful—but maybe if someone had given me this one piece of advice when the babies were young I would have

Agree from the beginning that each of you is doing the best that you can in the best interest of the children.

Ignore the fact that he dressed the babies in plaids and polka dots for church. . .that he is embarking on a walk with the babies when they’ll need to be fed in ½ hour and will be screaming banchees. . .that he is literally gagging when changing a poopy diaper. . .that he is trying to watch the Master’s Golf tournament and isn’t catch watching the crawlers make their way to the dog’s bowl for a quick snack.


This works in the reverse as your partner returns home and babies are screaming, you haven’t showered and dishes are still out from breakfast.

No “I told you so’s.” No accusations of “Why didn’t you?” or “What were you thinking?” Or, my personal favorite, “Were you thinking?”

Second most important piece of advice: Leave your partner alone with the babies.

 This was hard for me and I still remember the first time I did it when the babies were a couple months old—actually one month old adjusted. My next door neighbor, Sarah, came over one evening after Scott had come home from work and said, “You’re going to Target with me.” I stared at her in disbelief. No, I thought, I couldn’t leave these babies with Scott–ALONE.

I needed to be able to leave. . .and Scott needed to experience juggling the babies and a feeding and changing session on his own. How else was he going to get good at this if he never did it. Everyone lived.

Date nights may or may not happen; tempers will be short as you are both exhausted; hygiene might not be up to par; the house will probably look like a thift store sale. . .but believing (and living) the piece of advice that both of you are doing the best that you can will help your relationship transition through this very challenging time.




Make-It-Monday: Paper Wheel Decoration

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:

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


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


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.


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



Foodie Friday: Re-Usable Squeeze Pouches

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.


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!