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I love Christmas and putting up the Christmas tree is one of my favorite things to do around the holidays! I was excited to put up the tree this year, but also a little nervous having twin toddlers see it for the first time and not knowing how they would re-act.
We decided to put the tree and decorations up at night, after the girls went to bed. My reasoning was if they saw us put individual ornaments on, they would know those same ornaments can come off. This reasoning paid off.
Much to my surprise, the tree has been up since Thanksgiving, and the girls are just in awe by it. They have not touched any of the decorations and enjoy looking at the lights! We did play it safe by keeping the bottom half of the tree, toddler friendly, with stuffed animal ornaments that they enjoy pointing out.
Since the girls were not able to participate in the tree decorating this year, I wanted them to have a tree of their own to decorate, so I decided to make them a felt Christmas tree, from an idea I found on Pinterest.
The tree was very easy to make and cost around $5 in materials. I bought a yard of green felt from JoAnn Fabric ($2.99) along with some small rectangle pieces of color felt, which cost .34 cents each.
I cut a big triangle out of the green felt for the tree. For ornaments, I decided to make different shapes since we are working on learning our shapes and colors, but you can make decorative ornaments out of felt too.
The girls are definitely enjoying decorating their own tree!
In addition to the Thankful Tree, we have started another fun, family tradition with the Felt Tree!
Our girls are 17 months old and we have only had professional portraits done once, when they were one month old, so I decided we were long overdue! I was not sure how a photo session would go with two active toddlers, but to my surprise, it went a lot better then expected!
I decided to give JC Penney Portraits a try and scheduled our photo session online. I made sure we got the first appointment in the morning to avoid any unforeseen waiting and scheduled a 9a.m. appointment slot. This was a big key to the success of our session!
The cost was very affordable. In the month of November, sitting fees were waived which saved us $9 per person ($36). We went with the $8 holiday portrait package, which included 1 8×10, 2 5×7, 4 3.5×5, and 16 wallets. After that each additional sheet ordered was only $4!
The photographer was wonderful and worked very fast, which is definitely the only way to go!
Here are some of my favorite portraits from our session:
A big thank you to JC Penney Portraits for making our family portrait day go so smoothly! I look forward to putting some family pictures up on the walls!
It is hard to believe that November is officially here and the holidays are upon us. We sure do have a lot to be thankful for again this year!
I love family traditions, and now that I have my own family, I want to make special traditions that my children will look forward to each year and remember forever.
My friend, Heather and her family create a thankful tree each year, and she is where I got this wonderful idea.
Beginning on November 1st, family members will write on one leaf what they are thankful for and then place the leaf on the tree each day. By the time Thanksgiving comes around, you will have a beautiful tree, full of leaves, sharing so many things you and your family are thankful for!
I made my tree out of construction paper and hung it on the wall near the entry way.
Next, I made the leaves.
And finally, an envelope that holds the leaves, marker, and double-sided tape, to make it easy for family members to stop by and share what they are thankful for!
I am so excited to start this family tradition and look forward to future years when the girls can help create the tree too! I will post a picture of my tree full of thanks at the end of the month!
If you have joined the Pinterest craze, you probably have pinned (with great intentions to follow through) many recipes to try, exercises to do, or crafts to create.
Pinterest has been my go to website for family dinners, but I have also created a board called, “Ideas for the Girls.” When I stumbled across a pin for a do-it-yourself playhouse, I immediately got excited!
Now before, I take any credit for what you are about to see, let me just put this out there. I did my part by “pinning” the link to my board and sharing with my husband. My husband purchased the PVC pipe, and constructed the house (materials cost $37). My mother-in-law sewed the fabric and my husband assembled the house. My job was to keep the girls entertained and out of trouble for this process, so we all worked very hard on this family project!
The pin linked to the Turning Stones Blog, PVC pipe fort/playhouse. My husband used her site as a guide to create our own play house for the girls. Our house is 4 feet high, 4.5 feet deep and 3.5 feet wide.
ADDING THE FABRIC
GIRLS FIND THEIR NEW PLAY HOUSE
The girls LOVE their house, although, they still may be a little rough for it, so we will see! The best part is, if we do need to take it down temporarily, it comes down easily and can be stored in a small space!
I want to say a BIG THANK YOU to my husband, Trent and mother-in-law, Patty, for putting this house together! Without you guys, this would just be another pin on one of my boards. Thank you!
For the past couple of months, I have really wanted to take the babies to the beach for their first visit. I went online and ordered the Ozark Trail Sun Shelter (tent), and two cute little rash guard swim suits for the girls. So with necessities in hand, we were ready, right?
There were definitely some thoughts that passed, which said this may not be as fun as it was in my mind, but I was adamant that the beach was going to be a wonderful idea. My husband, probably a little more hesitant, agreed, so off we went!
First, let me tell you about my “vision” of going to the beach. We arrive at the beach early in the morning, so it is not too hot. We park next to the beach and walk down the sand to the water. The kids hang out in the sun tent, stick their toes in the sand and play with their beach toys. Mom and Dad even get to sit in their beach chairs and enjoy some sun! We walk down to the water to feel the ocean for the first time. It’s a little chilly, but the girls sit in the sand at the edge of the water as the water ripples up against their toes. We all enjoy a little lunch and after a couple hours of fun, we pack up camp and head back to the car as a family.
Now, let me tell you about our actual trip to the beach. We did not get as early of a start as we intended and honestly, we really had no idea which beach was the best beach to visit with babies, so we drove around aimlessly and finally ended up at Huntington Beach.
After paying $15 to park, then parking at the opposite end of the lot, I walked what seemed like a mile to pick up an umbrella rental for another $15. Upon parking, the girls started screaming because they were ready for a nap and hungry, so, we gave them a bottle in the car and crossed our fingers.
The girls were starting to get very antsy and my husband asked me if I wanted to be near the water, naturally I said, “Yes,” not realizing that the water was a half mile walk across the scorching hot sand. Seriously, why don’t I remember the water being so freakishly far away?
Daddy carried the first load down to the water including the beach tent, blanket, beach chairs and our humongous umbrella rental!
I started getting the kids all lubed up with sunscreen and changed them into their swim suits. They did enjoy reading a copy of OC Family while we waited, which kept them entertained for a few minutes, but then they decided it would be more fun to try to run around and climb in the van. I guess that would be pretty fun.
Finally, Daddy gets back to the car after a jog back and burned feet. We are ready for our final trip to the water. We each carried a baby and some gear and started walking down the beach. The sand was about 200 degrees and the walk to the water felt like an eternity, especially carrying more gear and a toddler. I had to put my flip flops back on, so my feet would not melt, and every step I took kicked sand up into my beach bag.
We get to our camp that Daddy has set up, and decide to take the girls down to the water. The waves were monstrous and Katelyn was not so sure she liked them. If we were not holding onto them and picking them up each time the waves came, they would’ve been knocked over. There goes my vision of sitting in the sand on the water’s edge.
After about 15 minutes of hanging out by the water, we decided to let the girls play in the sand. They played for a few minutes, but decided it was more fun to climb on the beach chairs, or run inside the tent and knock it over. I can definitely say Mommy and Daddy did not sit down and enjoy the sun. I never even got my sun dress off, Daddy never got his t-shirt off, and neither of us ever found the time or extra hand to put sunscreen on ourselves. Yes, we got burned.
After a couple hours (one hour of which may have been getting to/from the car), we packed as much as we could carry and took a load and the girls back to the car. I got the girls changed and dressed in the van while Daddy worked on packing up the rest of our stuff and made his way back to the rental place to return the awesome umbrella.
Dying of dehydration, because we were so concerned about making sure the girls stayed hydrated, we forgot to drink anything ourselves. Once in the car, we found our warm Gatorades in the beach bag and started to chug! Warm gatorade never tasted so good! We did not even get to the parking lot exit, and the girls were sound asleep.
Overall, the experience was, well, an experience! I think the girls enjoyed the beach, and it was fun watching them play in the sand. They did not eat as much sand as we expected which is a definite plus! It was definitely a memorable first beach experience!
Will be return to the beach again? Absolutely! I just think we picked the wrong beach for Camp Crazy, and will have to be more strategic in our next beach adventure…so stay tuned!
Eleven months ago, when people told me to cherish every moment, because it would fly by, I really did not understand what they meant. When we were running on no sleep and feeding two babies around the clock, I felt like I could not wait for them to grow.
Here I am, a mother of twin girls, who recently turned one year old, and I sit back and look at the past 12 months. “Cherish every moment,” it finally has sunk in. I cannot even believe how fast time has flown by, how fast they have grown up, and how fast our lives have changed.
Looking back at the days I sat in tears and the days I sat in joy. I remember the challenges we faced, the hurdles that we jumped and the laughter that we shared. We are completely overwhlemed with the joy that our girls bring to us each day.
Today, I look back at the last 12 months, an adventure that I will cherish forever. Here are some of our big acheivements and milestones over the last year!
My beautiful girls arrive on June 24th
Girls have their first bath
Enjoy staring at the ceiling lights
Girls hold up the head and look around the room
Enjoy grabbing your fingers with their toes
Girls started smiling at Mommy and Daddy.
Enjoy laying on their activity mat and are very alert
Girls are now in their own cribs
First Family Road Trip to Fresno, CA
Girls picked up their first toy
Girls began to “coo” and laugh
First time Katelyn rolled over from tummy to back (Oct 22)
Girls put everything in their mouth
First time girls slept through the night
First time Chelsea rolled over from tummy to back (Nov 4)
Tried baby food for first time: Oatmeal
Girls found their feet and love to grab them
With a little support, they can sit up on their own
Went to Disneyland for the first time!
First plane ride – Oregon for Christmas
Girls roll over from back to tummy and now roll to get places
Girls held their own bottle for the first time
Chelsea’s first tooth (Feb 11)
Katelyn’s first tooth (Feb 27)
Girls can sit up all by themselves!
Girls drink water from a sippy cup
Girls begin the military crawl on their forearms
Girls can briefly stand up holding on to the couch
Girls can crawl
Girls can pull themselves up to a standing position
Begin finger foods
Girls drink water from a straw cup
Girls walk along the couch
Girls can climb up stairs
Girls begin to wave
Girls go their first Angels Game!
Stand by themselves in the middle of a room
Girls clap their hands and blow kisses
First time swimming
First family road trip to Phoenix, AZ
Girls take their first steps
Point out objects (ball, shirt, head, teddy bear, dog, airplane)
Girls love to dance
This year has been a whirlwind and I truly understand just how incredibly blessed we are. I could not imagine my family without my girls. I never understood how overwhelming happiness could bring instant tears to my eyes, until they showed up in our lives. We have survived the first year with twins and what an adventure it was! Cherish every moment, it goes by so incredibly fast.
In 21 days, my babies will be 1 year old! I cannot even fathom that concept. I remember the first three months, when everyone used to tell me, enjoy it, time will fly by and all I wanted to do was cry. The first three months were very rough and emotional and a lot of work, and at the time, I could not wait for them to walk.
Here I am, 11 months later, with two girls who have just begun to take their first steps and I know walking is just a few steps away (pun intended). Honestly, I am in awe. These past few months have completely flown by and I realize everyone was right!
Once we hit six months, it seemed like we were hitting milestones left and right and before I knew it, my girls were already taking steps away from me. It surely is bitter sweet.
Katelyn’s First Recorded Steps:
Chelsea’s First Recorded Steps:
As always, I always get comments from everyone and their sister, when it comes to my babies on how I should feel. Some people say, “Don’t let them walk,” or “Once they walk, it’s all over,” or “Looks like you’re in trouble now.” As with all comments, I have learned to take them with a grain of salt, because I could not be more excited that the girls are on their way to walking on their own.
Up until now, going to the park, or Disneyland, or shopping, the girls have always been confined to the stroller. Call me crazy, but I do want them to get out and have the opportunity to explore and play. I could not be more excited.
Today, we are starting to take steps consistently from one spot to another around the house and it’s only a matter of time before we are walking in style. This is one milestone that is highly anticipated by many parents, and for me, it is definitely welcome.
Let’s go for a stroll!
I was watching my girls laughing and interacting on the floor, while I was sitting on the couch with my laptop in front of me and phone in my hand, so it was very fitting when I came across an article that almost brought me to tears.
I have always said that our world is so incredibly driven by technology, that it seems like we are watching our kids lives more through a photo lens, an iPhone, or a computer, than in real life. I have definitely been guilty of allowing my phone or computer take priority over my children, and when I put those words together in a sentence, it really makes me want to throw up. That just sounds horrid.
I have said multiple times to my husband, we need to change, we need to put down the electornics and interact more as a family, and he agrees, but somehow, we both go back to our electronic world, be it the computer, phone, iPad, kindle, or television.
May I add, that we have the two most adorable girls in the world… so how can we possibly be staring at an iPhone when we are sitting on the floor playing with these girls? It just makes me so angry, that I have let myself fall into this pit of electronics.
I would like to share an excerpt from the Hands Free Mama blog; it is a recipe that you may want to take out of your cookbook.
How to Miss a Childhood
*Keep your phone turned on at all times of the day. Allow the rings, beeps, and buzzes to interrupt your child midsentence; always let the caller take priority.
*Carry your phone around so much that when you happen to leave it in one room your child will come running with it proudly in hand treating it more like a much needed breathing apparatus than a communication device.
*Decide the app you’re playing is more important than throwing the ball in the yard with your kids. Even better, yell at them to leave you alone while you play your game.
*Take your children to the zoo and spend so much time on your phone that your child looks longingly at the mother who is engaged with her children and wishes she was with her instead.
*While you wait for the server to bring your food or the movie to start, get out your phone and stare at it despite the fact your child sits inches away longing for you talk to him.
*Go to your child’s sporting event and look up periodically from your phone thinking she wont notice that you are not fully focused on her game.
*Check your phone first thing in the morning … even before you kiss, hug, or greet the people in your family.
*Neglect daily rituals like tucking your child into bed or nightly dinner conversation because you are too busy with your online activity.
*Dont look up from your phone when your child speaks to you or just reply with an uh huh so she thinks you were listening.
*Lose your temper with your child when he “bothers” you while you are interacting with your hand-held electronic device.
*Give an exasperated sigh when your child asks you to push her on the swing. Can’t she see you’re busy?
*Use drive time to call other people regardless of the fact you could be talking to your kids about their day or about their worries, their fears, or their dreams.
*Read email and text messages at stoplights. Then tell yourself that when your kids are old enough to drive they won’t remember you did this all the time.
*Have the phone to your ear when she gets in or out of the car. Convince yourself a loving hello or goodbye is highly overrated.
Follow this recipe and you will have:
*Missed opportunities for human connection
*Fewer chances to create beautiful memories
*Lack of connection to the people most precious to you
*Inability to really know your children and them unable to know you
All I can say is, it is time for a change and I have taken the first step by creating a basket by the door called, “Don’t Miss Your Life.” In the basket, you can drop your iPhone, TV Remote, iPad, Kindles, Computers or any electronics that may take you away from the one thing that we all say is more important then anything, our family!
Sure, we all have to work, and we have to respond to important emails as soon as possible, but when you have to get up to take the phone out of the basket, you are making a conscious decision to do what you have to do with your electronics versus sitting there with the phone in your hand waiting for the beep. Once you’ve done what you needed, return the item to the basket and enjoy your family… not just your kids, these apply to your spouse too!!
My girls are growing so incredibly fast, and there is nothing more important then being together. as a family All I want to say is, Don’t miss your life because your phone beeped, you have a new word to play or drawing to draw, you need to check everyone’s facebook status, respond to an email, or get lost on Pinterest. All of these choices are up to you.
I know I do not want to live with regrets and I definitely do not want to miss out on any more of my life then I already have.
April 22, 2012 – 10 Months