My New Grocery List, Part II

Okay, here's the third way I plan on making grocery shopping easier: a family meal planner.

It's not my idea. I got it from another girl's blog, Brown Paper Packages. (Doesn't that make you start to sing the "My Favorite Things" song from the Sound of Music?) Kierste has five kids including two sets of twins, which alone proves this is an idea worth entertaining! Here is the exact link for this project.


Here's what she did. She listed all of the ingredients for all of her favorite go-to recipes on a small sheet of cardstock. Then, she takes this planner with her to the grocery store for when she's not able to create a menu ahead of time. Voila! No more forgotten ingredients!

Isn't that clever?

Isn't this great? I haven't made one for our family yet (the boys teething has gotten in the way of a lot of new projects around here lately,) but I hope to very soon. Mine won't be as nearly as cute as Kierste's, but I do love the idea. This, as well as my grocery list and my vow to actually sit down and create a menu for the week have me very optimistic about meal times again!


My New Grocery List

It is very difficult for me to get out the house to go grocery shopping. So, when I do, I need to be quick and focused. But what I'm finding lately is that I'm just not forgetting one or two things, I'm forgetting a BUNCH of things. Consistently. So I either have to wait until I'm able to go back a week later, or ask my husband to pick it up at Dash's on his way home (which usually means we pay almost twice what we would at the grocery store!) I'm just not good at thinking on my feet, scrambling in my mind for menu options and then grabbing every ingredient I can think of. But this is what I've been doing since the boys have arrived... and I've been failing miserably.

So, I've devised a plan with three separate steps. The first step is to actually sit down and write a menu for the week!!!!! I don't even know why I put that one off like I do. But I'm going to describe my second step here. I'll share my third one tomorrow.

This is actually an old idea I resurrected from when Andy and I were first married: I made my own grocery list skeleton and then wrote specific groceries under each section. Here's what I mean...

I printed out a sheet of paper with the sections of the grocery store listed in three separate columns. I did it on the computer so I can just print it out each week. My list says: Prescriptions/Photo, Baby, Dairy, Drinks, Snacks, Cleaning Products, Paper products, Juice, Cereal, Meat, Baking, Pasta/Rice, Breads, Frozen Foods, Fruit, Vegetables, Deli and Other. I list them in the same order I would make my rounds in the grocery store, especially since I generally follow the same path. Then, I post this paper on my refrigerator. Every time I think of something I need, I write it under that column (i.e. if I need Swiss cheese, then I write that under "Dairy." Cheerios goes under "Cereal." Diapers under "Baby.") Then, when it came time to plan my menu for the week, I would write the ingredients I needed under each particular section of the grocery list. If I have a coupon for something, I write a *star* next to that item and paperclip any coupons to the list. My menu is written on the back. Fold the list in threes and then in half to easily put in my purse.

When I do get to the grocery store, I don't need to scramble through every aisle, making sure I have everything on my list and consequently, over buying or forgetting half of the things you had hoped to get. This has made menu planning and grocery shopping a LOT easier.

This is working for me. I hope it makes sense! I'll share my other idea with you tomorrow!


They're Naturals

Jack and Ben, playing my old piano at Nana's house.

Notice how Ben isn't actually playing the piano; he's trying to pull down the cover over the keys. Leave it to my babies to find that their first time on the bench!


A Love Story

In honor of my husband's birthday today, I am telling the story of how we met almost five years ago!

I was setting up my classroom, waiting for my sixth graders to arrive. It was my third year teaching, so I was a lot more comfortable in my own skin, but still had the beginning-of-the-year butterflies in my stomach. I knew it was going to be a good year. For the first time, I had my own classroom, was half-way through my Master's and lost some weight that summer. I felt thin, tan, and confident. I just heard the first bell and knew the eleven year olds would start piling into the halls with the scared looks that I have grown to love.

I heard someone at my door. Definitely an adult's voice. A manly, yet polite voice. "Excuse me," he said. I turned around. I have a feeling I smiled, pleasantly pleased by the masculine and handsome figure that stood leaning in my doorway. "My name is Andy Sauer," he said and extended his hand. I immediately walked over and shook it. His broad smile and sparkling eyes had my attention. Honest eyes, I thought.

"Hi, I'm Mindy Albrecht." Parents were roaming the halls, ushering their nervous children to their lockers. My first guess was that he was a father - a very young father - looking for something.

"I'm new here," he continued. "A teacher's aide. Do you know where the library is?" I laughed and gave him the (curiously easy) directions to the library. He thanked me, gave me a "Thanks, nice to meet you," and then went on his way.

I turned away from the door and stood there a moment, trying to remember what I was working on. I felt as though a fresh breeze just came through my room, the kind you see in a movie when you know the girl just met the man of her dreams and doesn't know it yet. I know it's corny, but I really did.

Every few days, I would see this Andy Sauer passing my classroom on his way to third period. That was when I was MOST diligent with hall duty, when I knew he'd walk by and say "Good morning," or "Hello." That was my favorite part of the day. I'd check my hair in the mirror and apply lip gloss before going out to wait for my new friend to walk by.

But gosh, what are the chances that he'd know the Lord? I mean, how likely is it that I would find my perfect mate walking the halls of the middle school? Still, I enjoyed his friendly smile and looked forward to his pleasant hellos without trying to expect anything more.

A few days later, he stopped at my classroom door on his way by. I thought my knees were going to give out. "Do you go to Eastern Hills Wesleyan?" he asked.

My heart stopped. "Yeah! Do you?" I couldn't believe it. Our church is so large that even after years of attending, we never knew eachother! I realized that I knew his brother and his family, but never knew of Andy. How neat is that? My first cousin, Chantel, who he currently had as a student, must have liked him and started asking him questions, including where we went to church.

"Eastern Hills?" she asked him. "I think my cousin goes there."

"Who's your cousin?" he asked.

"Miss Albrecht." Then he remembered that he had MET Miss Albrecht a few days earlier! We chatted for a little bit about the church and his brother's family before we realized the bell had rung for the next class.

He went on his way and I felt sick to my stomach. But a GOOD kind of sick to my stomach. I just knew this was it! This was the man of my dreams! Thank God, I had a free period next so I picked up the phone and called my mom. I had told her the week before about this guy I had met, but how crazy it was to assume we'd be compatible. I described what he looked like and she said, "You know, Min, I could see you with someone like that." That was last week. How funny to have such a crazy turn of events!

I invited him to my Bible study, so he'd help me in my classroom after school until we drove over together, talked, and enjoyed eachother's company. (My 15-year-old brother even came to 'check him out' and he passed with flying colors!) Our first 'date' was October 10, 2005. He proposed a year later on that same day and we were married in May 2007.

We would tell our story throughout our engagement. I asked him if he really needed to know where the library was that day. He just smiled (the same charming smile that I see in my boys!) "Well, I had to think fast! How else would I have gotten you to talk to me?" And that, my friends, is one of the many reasons I love this man so bad.

I have LOVED being married to my best friend. Here's to many more years of bliss! Happy Birthday, Andy!


Doing it All

Have you seen the commercial with Kelly Ripa for Electrolux appliances?

Kelly praises her washer and steam dryer for allowing her to be "even more amazing." She comes home from work to beautiful and happy children, puts the laundry away by just throwing it in the air, feeds the dog, dresses the children as she walks by, does the laundry, makes cookies and her kids then catch the freshly-made chocolate chip cookies as she falls into the couch. This is all done in a matter of 30 seconds, with perfectly saloned hair, cute outfit and a great body. Did I mention her high heels and the "I Dream of Genie" music in the background? This commercial has her grocery shopping, preparing to entertain a houseful of guests, and then ending the night by looking for monsters under the bed.

The perfect woman.

Work full-time, have a beautiful and happy family, amazing house, great dinners, a nice social life, all while maintaining control and sanity. Perhaps this is true in Hollywood, but it's rarely true in the Real World.

Don't get sucked into how the media defines success. Being a hero in your house doesn't mean juggling two dozen activities while wearing Stilletos and a pearl necklace (no offense, Kelly Ripa and Mrs. Cleaver.) It doesn't mean you make a three-course meal every night and keep your house immaculate. It probably doesn't involve you finding a cure for cancer or stopping world hunger. I have a feeling that it has more to do with being the one to nurse a scraped knee, hug a crying child, or praising your child's newest Lego creation. The one to remember your birthday, ask about your day and put a note in your lunch.

It's not any ONE thing, but a million little things.

After all, you are a mother. You couldn't be any more amazing.

"Taste of Home" for $3.75

Best Deal Magazines is offering Weight Watchers Magazine, Taste of Home and Parents Magazine for $3.75 each. This deal is only good through the end of this week. Just use code WKLYSPEC to get this price on these magazines.

Taste of Home is my all-time favorite go-to cooking magazine! The cheapest I've ever seen it was for $10/year, but $3.75 is a steal! I love how they have recipes from cooks all over the United States, using most ingredients I have in my house and with pictures of every single recipe. And unlike other cooking magazines I've tried, all of these recipes taste great! I highly recommend it. Your husbands will love when that little magazine arrives in the mail almost as much as you will.


Oooh, the Activity

Here's a "picture book" of the activity that's been going on at our house, now that the boys have finally rid themselves of their horrible colds!

These highlight Benjamin tonight, only because Jonathan had his mind on chasing after me and my camera whenever he saw the opportunity! Here, Ben uses the diaper container to prop himself up his feet, standing on his own (without holding onto ANYthing for about seven seconds!) and climbing over it. Geez. How did my babies grow up so fast?

Our newest game and entertainment for hours on end (well, more like twenty minutes, which is like an hour for 9 month olds!) is when the boys pull the blanket over their head and wait for mommy to say, "Wheeere's Benjamin?" or "Wheeere's Jonathan?" Then, when he's ready to reveal himself - which can be up to ten seconds at times - he pulls the blanket off to hear me say, "There he is!" Repeat. Repeat. Over and over. Most times, two babies at the same time.

If I fail to acknowledge a hiding baby, they'll squeal or scream to get my attention, wait for the magic words, then excitedly pull the blanket off. I love it! (Though I do have to admit the difficulty of occupying two babies this way, not wanting to spoil the 'surprise' on the other brother ;)

People always say how fast it goes. They're right. It's amazing. But it's also amazing how slow things seem to go at times, too. Namely, when things are difficult. Believe me, I was in a MUCH different mindset five days ago and I have no idea what tomorrow will bring. One day at a time. I'm doing my best and honestly, that's the best I can do. That's the best any of us can do.


Free Busy Mom's Bible

Register here for your free copy of the Busy Mom's Bible, available to the first 5,000 that sign up. The front of the Bible says, "Daily inspiration - even if you only have one minute." Sounds like MY kinda devotional! Thanks for passing this along, Kelly!


Nearing My Goal

Do you know how the last few steps are the hardest?

It doesn't matter how many flights of stairs you're climbing, how many more steps to the top of the mountain, how many more loads of laundry you still have to fold. The last few are undoubtedly the hardest.

Life has been difficult for this mommy lately. My boys are teething, have colds, are extremely clingy and ONLY want mommy. I suppose that's cute... at first. But when you have four little hands grabbing at you all day, demanding your attention and not allowing you to leave the room for fear that you might not return, it's tiring. Add to that the fact that I have a cold, too, and you have a recipe for pure exhaustion.

Since the boys were born, we decided that the best way for me to feed them was to pump breastmilk. I just couldn't get the breastfeeding thing down with two and we struggled knowing how much they were actually getting. They were losing weight fast and the doctor said they would have to be hospitalized if they didn't start gaining weight. So, pumping became our best option (for us and our checkbooks) and I haven't looked back. They're getting the majority of The Good Stuff and then two bottles of formula a day. And they're gaining weight like champions!

Every day, 5-6 times a day (more when they were waking up through the night,) I pump. It's a commitment. I don't necessarily enjoy doing it, but I feel like I'm doing something good for them. My goal was to do this for a year. When they turned 9 months, I celebrated... yeah, only 3 more months to go! As much as I love my boys getting The Good Stuff, this was a less-than-enjoyable process for mommy. I was tired. Exhausted. Pooped.

So when the pediatrician said we could start introducing whole milk into their bottles at 10.5 months, I saw a light at the end of the tunnel. Wow. Are you serious? Am I that much closer? I wondered if I had to travel the last leg of my journey. Perhaps I could quit now and just supplement with more formula.

Then the boys' colds flared up, sleeping was interrupted and teething threatened my sanity. I looked ahead at the last few flights of stairs I had left. Three months. I had already come 3/4 of the way. That's good enough, right? I mean, how much more good could breastmilk actually do? If I wasn't pumping, then I could take Sudafed which would otherwise dry up my milk supply. Gosh, how I've missed Sudafed. And NyQuil. Advil. I could wear a real bra, be comfortable when I lay down and not need to attach myself to this darn pump an hour and a half of my life everyday. I could get more sleep. Oh, how I've missed sleep.

I talked to my husband about quitting. He knows that he walks a very fine line when it comes to me pumping. On one hand, if he says I should keep on going, I'll be mad that he's pushing me to do something I don't want to. On the other hand, if he says I should stop, I'll be mad that he was excusing all of the work I had done in the past nine months. Why do I even do this to him? But thank God, my husband knew me better than I knew myself.

"Mindy," he started sympathetically, "I'll support you either way." Hmm, good answer, Babe. "The boys have already flourished because of everything you've sacrificed for them. We need to take care of you first. If you'd like to stop, I would support you one hundred percent." 

He let that sink in a bit. That was a good answer, huh? This is where he shows just how much he knows me. "At the same time, I know how much you like to achieve your goals." Yeah, he's right about that. I won't start any project I can't finish. "Would you be disappointed with yourself later for not making it to a year like you had planned?" Yup. I would. And he knew it.

Nothing's really changed since that conversation. Except my perspective. It's a renewed perspective. I dusted myself off, tightened my shoelaces and took notice of the finish line ahead of me. I've decided that I'm not going to put more pressure on myself than I should. I'll do what I can, when I can. If I need to pump, but my boys are clingy and require mommy time, then it'll have to wait a bit. This might be a naturally transition into quitting, but I'm not looking for that. I'll do what I can, when I can.

Because that's the absolute best I can do.

Here's hoping their teeth come in quickly and pain-free! (Yeah, right. But a girl can dream, can't she?)


Love Is In the Details

My mom has always been an excellent homemaker. Growing up, she always enjoyed making our home a place we all loved to be. It was in the small things, too. Putting candy in dishes, setting out the breakfast bowls the night before... and making little flower bouquets.

Whenever she received flowers (or bought her own at Aldi's for $3.99 a bouquet) she would cut the stems short, place them in small glasses and then put them on display throughout the home. The kitchen, bathrooms and the backhall entrance way were some of her favorite places.

Now that I have my own home, I do the same thing. This was a bouquet that I received from Andy this weekend that I cut up and put in the kitchen and the bathroom. Pretty, huh? The glasses are shot glasses I bought at Walmart for $4 a few years ago for just this purpose. Now, I can enjoy my flowers all throughout the house - when I'm washing the dishes, rinsing my hands, cooking at the stove - rather than just in one place.

Love is definitely in the details.

Thanks, Mom.


Being Proactive

Are you reactive or proactive?

Do you simply react to things that go on around you? Or do you try and anticipate problems and head them off with a possible solution?

In my house, the answer to those questions could be the difference of a good or bad day. With twins, successes and problems are not just doubled; they're multiplied!

Now, I realize that there are some things you just can't plan for. As a first-time parent, I've had to learn a lot of things the hard way. Sometimes, I was simply reacting to what was going on. But the good is that many of those things have made me think about things ahead of time to be proactive.

Your baby throws up in the car and you have nothing to wipe it up. Hmm, I should keep an extra diaper bag with wipes and cloth diapers in the car.

You lose one of the nipples and only have one to feed your two babies. Hmm, I think I'll keep an extra nipple in my diaper bag, just in case. I better keep an extra nasal aspirator and nail clippers, too.

Your babies are grabbing at everything on the table at the restaurant. Hmm, I think they need their own toys and little pieces of food to keep them occupied.

But most things I've learned about being proactive, I've observed from my mom.

For the rare occasion that my mom had to take us to the grocery store, she would outline her expectations while on the way there. "Now, when we're shopping," she'd say, "I need you to be on your best behavior. If you're good, then you can each pick out a piece of candy when we leave." No problem! We knew what she was expecting and reeeally wanted that candy. So, we were good! Problem averted!

When we were going to a family function, my parents knew that we weren't always thrilled. Visiting with loud Italians and hearing, "Aye aye, look how beautiful" and "Aye aye, how you'd get so tall?" a gazzilion times while giving kisses to people we only see once a year wasn't necessarily our idea of fun. But family has always been important. Really important. On our way to the function, my parents would give us the run through of who'd be there, what we'd be doing and how long we'd be staying. And for those crazy annoying family members, my parents always seemed to know exactly what heart-wrenching story to tell us about their situation to make us empathesize with them so we'd be more gracious. They were proactive. Therefore, we responded accordingly.

Instead of yelling at us for what we were doing wrong, my parents praised us for what we did right. If we didn't get inside all of the lines on our coloring page, my mom'd say, "Wow, I love the colors you chose!" If we put clothes on that my dad didn't like, he'd say, "You know what I really love when you wear? That blue blazer." So I changed my outfit. As it turns out, my dad's approval was much more important to me than my peers... because he took the time to notice and praise. Yes, I'd wear a blue blazer to church. And a skirt. Because I knew my dad liked it. (I still fit in that blazer, by the way. It must have been huge on me then! My sisters would laugh that I looked like a flight attendant. I didn't mind that one bit.)

When going anywhere in the car, my mom kept snacks and little activities for us in a bag. When we were hungry or whining that we were bored, Mom always seemed to pull out more than what would satisfy. She didn't wait until we found ourselves stranded in a place with food that was too expensive or didn't suit our tastes. Mom knew and she planned accordingly. (She still does that... you should see her car!)

Now, I'm still learning. There's a lot I don't know. But I've also learned that if I'm going to teach my boys to be gentlemen, to be respectful, well-behaved and gracious, I need to plan ahead. I can't just leave it up to chance that things will be provided for us as we go along.

I remember hearing that "If you fail to plan, you plan to fail." As a mom, we carry the weight of the world on our shoulders when it comes to providing everything for our families. We'll mess up sometimes. Gosh, we can't do it ALL! But when we do what we can, when we can, it makes things a whole lot easier.

On everyone!


My Blessings

Jonathan and Benjamin, 9 months old

My pride.

My joy.

My boys.


For Dinner Tonight

This is one of Andy's favorite recipes. The inspiration came from a favorite restaurant of ours, a mile from our house called Gar'Angelo's. We'd walk down to get their amazing Gorgonzola bread and colorful antipasta to celebrate the big and small milestones. When we decided on our bridal party, closed on our new house... ahh, the memories. But they closed a year ago, leaving us to find another favorite. Thankfully, though, I had worked to perfect Andy's favorite dish to recreate it any time, in our own home and for much cheaper!

Don't let it fool you. It is extremely easy, taking all of 10 minutes to prepare. I usually cook the sausage earlier in the day and have it all cut up before dinner time. That way, I just throw the rest of the ingredients together and cook the pasta when Andy gets home. You can make it as spicy as you'd like (and you don't have to add the Vodka if you'd prefer not to.) But it is delicious. Also, please do not tell my Italian grandmother that I use jarred tomato sauce. I may be only half Italian, but still, that's blasphemy to a true-blood :)


Penne with Spicy Vodka Tomato Cream Sauce

1 # uncooked penne pasta
¼ c. extra virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
½ tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
1 jar of tomato sauce
¾ tsp. salt
2 T. Vodka
½ c. heavy whipping cream
¼ c. chopped fresh parsley
2-3.5 oz. links sweet Italian sausage

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook for 8-10 minutes or until al dente; drain. In large skillet, heat oil over moderate heat. Cook sausage, then cut into smaller pieces. Add garlic and red pepper and cook, stirring until garlic is golden brown. Add tomato sauce and salt; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes. Add Vodka and cream and bring to boil. Reduce heat to low and add pasta, toss for 1 minute. Stir in fresh parsley and serve. Yield: 4 servings.

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Another Afternoon of Bliss

As I was putting the boys down for a nap, I was dreaming about taking a shower. A long, hot, luxurious shower to wipe away all of the germs and feel fresh again. I always take them at night (a ritual that began only when I had kids,) but both boys threw up last night and we didn't get them down until late. I gave up my shower for a few minutes of extra sleep. (I always regret that, by the way.)

This afternoon, the boys were fed and fading fast. They were exhausted, too. My dream of a warm shower almost turned into a reality.


As I was putting Benjamin down, I heard Jonathan cough. Like a deep cough. Uh oh. I bet he has to burp. So I quickly put Ben down next to me, still asleep, and picked up his brother. Jack nestled his head against my chest and let 'er rip. The poor baby threw up all over both of us.

It was one of those things that always happens in slow motion. I'm watching it, knowing it's coming, but it's like I'm paralyzed to do anything about it (though I'm not sure what I could do within two seconds, no matter how slow time seems to pass in those moments!) I looked around for what I could grab to wipe his face while still consoling him. Thankfully, there was a clean blanket I had left on the couch last night. My jacket and pants were soaked and so was he, right down to his shoes.

I spent a few moments just sitting there, wondering what I should do. One's sleeping, the other's filthy. I'm dirty. How am I going to do this? It's not the first time something like this happened, but you would have thought from my reaction that it was.

I put him down, took off my clothes, then put Ben in his crib. I stripped Jonathan bare, put clean clothes on him and then sat him in my room so I could put some clean ones on, too. Thankfully, my pants and jacket he had gotten sick on last night were now dry, so I put those on and went back to the couch, staying away from the spot that was still dirty.

I was grateful that he seemed well enough to eat more, so he drank some more milk and then I put him in his crib ten minutes later, fast asleep.

A half hour later, the dirty clothes are in the laundry, the Resolve is working its magic on the couch and I still have to handwash Jack's crib shoes. I just needed a moment to vent... err, I mean... blog about my experience before going back to reality.

I'm still dreaming of that shower, but I don't think it's going to happen. At least not until daddy gets home. But that's okay. That's life.

It's not very glamorious and at times, it's extremely dirty. But it's the only one I've got.


Two hours later: Ben just threw up on me. My clothes aren't even out of the dryer yet from Jack's episode! Thankfully, daddy will be home in less than a half hour... I'm gonna need that shower! :)


Renewed Perspective

My boys woke up from their naps yesterday with runny noses. Ugh.

So I did the only thing I knew to do: get myself prepared. If we can't control the sickness, we can at least help curb the symptoms, right?

We set up the humidifers with Vick's VapoSteam, put rub on their feet, gave them warm baths, put water in their bottles, cleaned their noses with saline and raised their mattresses. We put out the toys that can be cleaned easily so we can wash them after sickness has left them. We're about as prepared as we can be.

And with the exception of the fact that they do not like when I wipe their noses after they sneeze, they're in pretty good spirits.

They must not be too bad if they continue pulling themselves up on everything:

Jack and Ben pull themselves up to their Exersaucers, looking as though they've been doing it their whole lives!

Sometimes, I think I need these days to remind me just how good I have it.

Our kids are healthy. They are well fed, warm, and have plenty of toys to keep them occupied. We are not in need of anything.

In a few days, we'll emerge from this sickness feeling stronger and more prepared for the next one. It's only temporary. We have so many more good days than bad ones.

Thank you, God, for the good days. And the bad ones. In every one, You are there.


What School Couldn't Prepare You For

I was talking to another mom in church yesterday. Her daughter, 22, is finishing her Master's in secondary English and is beginning to student teach in the classroom. Having babysat for her a few times, I was interested to hear how she was doing. "She's doing great! She doesn't feel very prepared, though," her eyes looked concerned. "She feels like she missed some of the more important classes towards the beginning. I don't know. She just feels like there's a lot more she doesn't know than what she does."

Geez, I thought. Welcome to the club!

I reassured my friend that her daughter is doing exactly what she should. She's joining the ranks of oh so many other teachers who never feel like they know enough or are good enough for the task ahead. I know. I was there. That no matter how much you read, how many classes you attend, or papers you write, there is nothing that can prepare you more for what you're going to do than just doing it.

Isn't that just like motherhood?

Oh, yeah. We've read books, we've talked to other mothers, we've even attended birthing classes. I mean, how hard could it be? We've watched our moms do it. We've babysat. We've volunteered in the church nursery. Piece o' cake! But no matter what we do, the best education is found in reality. Living it. Day. By. Day.

Here's the good news. The more we do something, the better we get. Riding a bike, driving, cooking... all of those things take time.

We'll make mistakes. Plan on it. In fact, my first year teaching in sixth grade, the other teachers in my hall would all close their doors because my students were so loud. They'd pull me aside to try and give me ideas on how to run my classroom. Not only that, but the aide in my room told the other teachers on my team that I had no control! Aye. Talk about humiliating! But it did get better. Not until I ate of few pieces of humble pie, though.

Think of the teachers you've had in the past who you respected. Chances are you didn't like them for what they taught, but who they were.

To be the best mom you can be, just be who are.

No one else could do it better.



Rub-A-Dub-Dub, two boys in a tub

I got this idea from a blog I check up on; it's another first-time mom who has twin boys just a month younger than mine! It's fun to see how other mommies of multiples do things. I just wish I had seen this sooner.

We've never been able to give them a tandum bath because we didn't think we could watch two at the same time. (I say "we," but it's my husband who does the baths! Daddy does the cleaning; mommy does the pampering.) Putting a laundry basket inside allowed all four of us to experience the fun of bathtime together and not worry about any little boys hitting their head against the porcelin! Hooray!

Jonathan Andrew, 9 months old

Benjamin David, 9 months old

Here's a bonus. Because we let them play in there so long (20 versus their normal 10 minute bath,) they slept an extra hour last night. That's right... 11 hours, baby! So it looks like longer baths will be a staple in the Sauer household!

I only wish they'd fit in that little laundry basket for more than a few months!


Valentine's Day

Last week during dinner, I mentioned what I was hoping to do for Valentine's Day. (Click here for my post on how we appreciate having clear expectations about these holidays.) His response?

"Oh, yeah. When is that again?"

"Uh, February 14th. Like it always is?" Okay, I didn't actually say it like that. But that was definitely what I was thinking.

Just another example of why I love this man. :)

Our plans are for me to make him a nice dinner that night and then he'll take me out for dinner some other time when we can have my parents watch the boys. Love it. We don't get into the whole roses and chocolates thing, especially when everything is so overpriced. (I can't enjoy flowers when I keep obsessing over how much money he spent on them!) But I do like a good excuse for a nice meal and quality time together!

If you're looking for some fun ideas, I encourage you to visit this blog: Love, Actually.

In it, there are TONS of ideas for what you could do for a date night, special holidays and occasions, in the bedroom, if you're feeling adventurous, to decorate your home, and for your marriage. The author's goal is to create opportunities for romance on a budget. This is what she says about her blog:
"In March 2009, Love, Actually Blog was created to help inspire others to spice up their relationships. Love is often seen as something that perpetually runs itself...without effort. In reality, love actually takes work…and, in my experience, romance takes even more work..and it's not always cheap! But it’s much too wonderful to skip out on! My goal is to make all of it just a little bit easier…and a little bit cheaper!" Love, Actually
It's a great site for everyday fun things to spice things up between you and your sweetie, but it seemed especially appropriate for Valentine's Day. Enjoy!


Giving Myself Permission

The last few days were tough. But today is a new day!

Armed with more ideas on how to be proactive in assisting my boys through the teething process, I'm feeling a lot better. I have teethers and apple slices freezing, Biter Biscuits for lunch, washclothes ready to be douced in cold water and Hurricane Gel at an arm's length. Bring. It. On.

Jack and Ben soothe their gums with their ice cold teethers

This morning, though, I felt guilty for how easily I let the circumstances "get to me" yesterday. Granted, it was rough, but I consider myself to be a patient person. How could I let things boil over so quickly?

The Lord brought my mind to this verse:

"In your anger, do not sin."
Psalm 4:4

That made me realize: it's okay to be angry. It's okay to be frustrated, annoyed and bothered. Even Jesus got angry! (If you don't believe me, see Matthew 21 of the Bible!) It's one of the things that makes us human. But being angry is not where we get into trouble. It's what we do with that anger.

The verse said for us not to sin in our anger.

Motherhood is a lot of work. It is, without a doubt, the hardest thing I've ever done... and that's coming from a public school teacher of five years with a Master's Degree! But at the same time, it is also, by FAR, the most rewarding thing I could do.

I'm trying not to be so hard on myself for being human. I'm going to give myself permission get frustrated sometimes. It's going to happen. There will be success; there will be failure. When I do fail, I will ask for forgiveness and move on. I'll allow myself the flexibilty to be who God made me to be. I'll remind myself that it's okay to be angry, but I am also going to be vigilant to see that I don't react to those feelings in a way that I will regret later on.

After all, my kids are counting on me.


Calling in Back Up

It was a long day. Actually, it's been a long few days. My boys aren't sleeping like they usually do, are more irritable and seem to be grabbing at eachother a lot more than usual.
And then I learned why. Ben cut his first tooth.
I have a few more suggestions from friends of what to try tomorrow, but today, it just felt like nothing was working. Especially the second part of the day. Jack wouldn't nap and when he did, Ben's cries for attention woke him up again. They wouldn't let me leave their sides and when I did, they screeeamed. It's just not like them.
Andy was working late, so when he came home, I almost burst into tears. "Can you watch them so I can have a minute?" I didn't ask about his day, how work was or how he was doing. I just handed over the boys and laid down to collect my thoughts. My milk won't come in when I'm stressed and that means less food in my babies' mouths! Thankfully, I emerged from my cacoon a few minutes later feeling a little better and able to think more clearly.
And I thought, gosh, I am so thankful I have someone to back me up.
How do single mothers do it? Or mothers of triplets, for that matter. I know that I can go to my Heavenly Father any time when I need support. And believe me, we talked a lot today. But on a day like today, I needed my husband.
When my friend had twins a few months ago, I asked my husband what advice he'd give them as we had been parents to twins for about six months at that time. His response? "Remember, you're on the same team." The same team. The same goal, the same team. I have back-up. And his name is Andy.
As I was taking a hot shower a few minutes ago, this passage came to mind...
9  Two are better than one,
      because they have a good return for their work:

10  If one falls down,
      his friend can help him up.
    But pity the man who falls
      and has no one to help him up!

11  Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.
      But how can one keep warm alone?

12  Though one may be overpowered,
      two can defend themselves.
    A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.
Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

Thank God I have such a great friend in Andy.

My husband. My partner. My friend.


Helping Dad

Jonathan, helping his daddy open the mail. Can you see any resemblance at all?


Building Independence

I would like to know where you can buy padding.

For my entire house.

Jack and Ben are very mobile now, moving quickly across the floor and exploring new areas of the house. And believe me, I was ready for it. My house (albeit it's only three rooms) is baby-proofed now, so I can be comfortable knowing they're safe while encouraging their curiosity.

One thing, though. How can I protect them from getting hurt when they fall?

I can hear all of you veteran moms laughing at me right now.

Jack, pulling himself up onto the Exersaucer while Ben plays in the background

They constantly try to pull themselves up onto their knees and more recently, onto their feet. They'll use anything. The dining room chairs, the couch, the Exersaucers or eachother's backs. They use every ounce of muscle they have to get themselves vertical and then... plop. They fall on their backside or worse, their head. It is so difficult for a new mom to watch.

I want my boys to be tough. I want them to be strong. But can we just skip this whole learning phase where they constantly bump their heads? It's almost too much! The hardest part is knowing they are watching my reaction to see how they are going to react. Stay calm, mom, I try and tell myself. Smile. Give hugs, then let them go.

I don't want to be overprotective. I don't want to shelter my boys so much tht they can't even recognize the real world when they see it. But gosh, I hate having to watch my babies learn all of these things for themselves.

I'll still soften what I can and keep my arms withun six inches of their body when they're attempting to pull themselves up the couch for the twenty millionth time. But Lord, I'm going to need your grace.

A lot of it.