Always, Katie: 2016


Saturday, December 31, 2016

My 2017 Word of the Year - Confident

Several bloggers I follow have, for the past few years, chosen a "word of the year." I love this idea, and decided this year that I wanted to join in. 

It gave me the opportunity and motivation to really think about who I want to be and what I want to embody this coming year, and I feel oddly prepared for 2017. 

The word of the year that I've chosen is "confident." After a strange couple of years of feeling a little "off" with all of the changes in my life, I have resolved to tackle the coming year with confidence. A couple of close runners-up were "balanced," "powerful," and "secure," which I decided all feed into this idea of confidence.



I am choosing to focus on finding a balance between my housewife and stay-at-home-mom duties and my need to be creative. I'm choosing to project power as part of this confidence - I am capable in many different fields, and I am choosing to keep that at the forefront of my mind and my attitude as I approach this coming year's challenges. And I am choosing to lean on and stay rooted in the security that comes from having a happy and supportive family life, and the security in knowing who I am as a daughter of God.

This year, I will be confident. 

Have you chosen a word of the year? What will you be?


Friday, December 23, 2016

Merry Christmas from the Hodge Family

We took some fun Christmas-y pictures at our beautiful cabin in Gatlingburg this autumn, thinking we may end up using them on Christmas cards. We did end up hiring a duo of professional photographers (with good lighting, ha!) for Christmas card pics, but these pictures are too cute to not share anywhere! 

Merry Christmas, friends! Ethan, Abbie, Sam, and I hope that your Christmas season is full of peace, joy, and fun, and that 2017 brings abundant blessings.

"Today in the town of David, a Savior has been born to you. He is the Messiah, the Lord. (Luke 2:11)"





Monday, December 12, 2016

7 People on Your Shopping List Who Would Love a CARE Donation for Christmas

This post is sponsored by CARE but the content and opinions expressed here are all mine, as always. :-)

One of my favorite things to give as a gift is a donation in that person's honor, especially when I find a charity that I believe in and that I think the recipient would love as well. :-) So often around the holidays, trinkets and knick-knacks feel like they're taking over, and materialism threatens to overtake the warmth and love that the Christmas season should really be about. 

But donations are awesome, no-clutter gifts to give so many people in our lives! For example...

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Tea. Earl Grey. Soap. (With Bergamot Essential Oil by New York Biology)



One of the items I’ve crossed off my 30 by 30 list is “make soap,” and it has been such a fun little hobby! A fun little hobby that has resulted in our household having way more soap than we’ll ever be able to use ;-)

My first batch was super-basic, just trying to learn the process itself, but for my next three batches, I’ve played around with additives like scent and exfoliants.  The second batch, I added peppermint and lavender essential oils, and ground oatmeal, and the third batch was a fun, seasonal apple cider soap.

The most recent batch that’s finished curing in my morning room is one I’m especially excited about – a soap made with earl grey tea and extra Bergamot essential oil… the Star Trek nerd in me has decided to call it “Tea. Earl Grey. Soap.”

Monday, November 7, 2016

Traveling with Toddler Twins: Pt 1: Planning Ahead




We recently returned home from our first vacation with our twins (Gatlinburg, TN!), and we had an amazing time! I have several posts planned about different aspects of our trip over the next few weeks, and today I’d like to start by sharing some of the ways you can plan ahead to have a successful, relaxed trip… it’s totally doable, even with year-and-a-half-year-old twins! 

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Life Lessons from the Photos I Didn't Take


Last night, on my way to my twin mom board meeting, I had just gotten on the interstate when I caught a glimpse of the sunset out my passenger side window. It was one of those amazing, orange and pink, sky is on fire, makes you wanna pull over and gawk sunsets. Simply stunning.

And then blogger mode kicked in and I wanted a picture of that sunset SO BADLY! But I was driving, didn't have a passenger I could delegate the picture-taking to, and wasn't about to attempt it myself at almost 70mph. I knew by the time I reached my destination, the sun would've finished setting and the colors wouldn't be nearly as knock-your-socks-off, and I was frustrated. May have thrown a tiny tantrum in my head.

Friday, October 14, 2016

8 Things You May Not Have Known Twin (or more) Parents Think About


This morning we went to get flu shots (the grown-ups, the kids had already gotten theirs at their pediatrician's office), and when I got home, I breezed through what has become a pretty familiar routine, but one that I was nervous about a couple months ago.

I parked in our driveway (our driveway and garage were built weirdly, to the point that our van doesn't have enough room to turn and maneuver into the garage. It has to live outside, poor thing.), opened both automatic side doors, unbuckled Sam, carried him into the garage, snapped him into the waiting stroller. Then I went around to the other side of the van, unbuckled Abbie, grabbed my diaper bag and my purse, pulled my key out of the purse, got my drink from Panera out of the cupholder, shut all the van doors, locked the van, hauled all of that (including Abbie) into the garage, and closed the garage door behind me. I carried her into the playroom, dropping bags and such where they needed to go on my way, and set her down in the nice, secure, child-proof room. Then I went back out and fetched Sam from the garage where he was (thankfully, patiently) waiting in the stroller.

Why the elaborately choreographed kid schlepping? Well, I don't want to leave anybody outside and out of my sight line. We don't use pumpkin seats anymore. And my kids aren't walking yet. 

It's one of those things about having twins that I would never have thought of before I had mine... how to get everyone safely into the van when they can't walk yet. For parents with kids of different ages, if one child has to be carried, usually the others can at least walk to the vehicle with their parents under their own power. :-) I was thinking about this sort of unexpected little challenge in twin parenting the other day, and I reached out to some of my twin parent friends to see if they could help me come up with a few more examples, and I think we came up with a fun and eye-opening list. Some of them haven't come up with my kids yet, so I had my eyes opened a bit, too :-)

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Preparing a (Spoiled) Pup for a Human Sibling (or a couple of them)

[This post includes an affiliate link - if you click through and make a purchase, it won't cost you any extra, but I'll make a couple cents. Thanks for supporting this blog!]



I've mentioned here many times how much we adore our dog, Charley. He was our first "baby" and taught us a lot about parenting, and when we were preparing to welcome his little siblings, he had one more parenting lesson for us: how to prepare and introduce an older sibling to a baby (or more).

We wanted to be sure to prepare him as much as possible before the birth and have a plan for helping him cope after his tiny fluffy world had been rocked.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

What's Up Wednesday: September

Here's a fun link up I've wanted to join but always remember too late ;-) Yay for being reminded early in the day when I still have some blogging time left. :-) I used to participate in a style link up that Shay, Sheaffer, and Mel hosted, so I've followed all these ladies for a while... you should pop over and visit. Sheaffer's Bachelor/ette recaps are way more entertaining to me than the show ever was ;-) 

Annnnyyyyway... here's what's up with me!


Monday, September 26, 2016

TTC in the Rearview Mirror: Reflections on Infertility After 15 Months of Parenting


During the five years we tried to get pregnant, I had a lot of time to wonder what life "after" infertility would look like. I suspected that I would still feel infertile, that finally having children wouldn't be able to heal all of the pain or rewrite the part of my brain that identifies as infertile.

Now, as we celebrate the two year anniversary of our successful embryo transfer (September 25!), I have a little bit of distance on our childless time and felt like doing a little introspection on what has changed and what hasn't over the past two years since transfer and over the past 15 months since delivering our miracle twins. 

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Stuffing a Stocking with Groupon Goods

[[This blog has been compensated by Groupon.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.]]


We had to run into a store last night to make a quick return, and while Ethan handled that, Momma and babies ran off in search of a bathroom. On our way there, I noticed that they were starting to put up their Christmas section.  It wasn't even a craft store (where supplies for Christmas crafts go up in July because festival season starts in October and professional crafters need to have their inventories ready), but like... a normal store. 

OMG you guys, Christmas is coming up SO SOON!  I'm brainstorming Halloween costumes now, then once I'm done with those, it's Thanksgiving dinner time, then the whirlwind of Christmas gatherings and tasks starts. Whew.  I always feel like the last third of the year just WHOOSHES right by me.

I like to start on Christmas shopping as early as possible. We budget for the season with a separate account that we pay into from every pay check, so we can start making purchases as we see things we think our loved ones will enjoy. But, despite these plans... I inevitably end up scrambling to finish things right at the deadlines.  One of these things that I always always always have trouble finishing is filling Ethan's stocking. (Santa fills kid stockings, parents fill each other's.  Of course.)

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Sick Day Rehydrating Gelatin


There has been an icky, unwelcome guest hanging out at the Hodge house lately, bringing with him the need for ER visits, lots of drugs, a liquid diet, and conscious effort to stay well-hydrated.  Ugh.

I have had precious little energy left for blogging, but I wanted to pop in real quickly today with a handy little tip for sick days like these.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Book Review: December Caravan by Rebecca VanDeMark

One of my new favorite things to do as a blogger is participate in book launches.  I love reading, and I admire anyone who is willing to pour so much of their time and hearts into writing a book.  Writing my own book is on my 30 by 30 list, and while that's one of the more far-fetched items on my list, I hope to accomplish it someday. It's an honor to support and encourage those brave souls who've made the formidable leap from "someday" to published. :-)

Never has it been more an honor, though, than this most recent book I've helped to launch, December Caravan, written by my dear friend and personal hero, Rebecca VanDeMark.  

Thursday, August 25, 2016

10 Awesome Tote Bags for Moms, by Moms

My secret mom weapon of organization is tote bags :-)  I love having designated totes for all of my roles... my current diaper bag is a tote bag, and I have another bag containing things we need for taking the babies out to eat, one for taking to meetings or work days for my twin mom club's newsletter, one I can carry my blogging necessities in, and a bunch more for organizing travel (entertainment, road food, quick changes of clothes).

I also love supporting small businesses, so I've rounded up some of my favorite totes from online small businesses! Funny, clever, beautiful... and of course, super-practical!

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Protect Your Identity (and I'm NOT talking about finances)

[Trigger warning: suicidal ideation]

What do you know about yourself? 

I'll bet most of you can tell me a few positive things that you are, things that you like about yourself. You're a hard worker, you're pretty, you're loyal or passionate or funny or you can really cut a rug. When you're having a rough day, or starting to lose sight of some of the nuances of who you are, you can count on these details to be true and good.  

I'm smart.  

This is the one good thing I've known about myself since I was very young.  Even when I also believed I was bad, lazy, messy, ugly, boring, nerdy, overly-emotional, not worth being friends with or dating... I knew I was smart. It was a good quality of mine I could cling to, and I built the bulk of my identity around that.   

But what do you do when that identity is called into question?

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Altered Travel Journal: Beautiful, Unique Gift for Travelers

Hey y'all!  I'm popping in with a vlog review today! My lovely friend Rebecca at Caravan Sonnet sells these Altered Travel Journals in her Etsy shop, December Caravan.  :-)  And there may be a fun little announcement at the end of this video...


Monday, July 18, 2016

Revisiting My 30 by 30 List - I've Made Some Progress!

Do you guys remember when I shared a list of 30 things I wanted to accomplish in the 18 months or so that were left until I turned 30?  Right around six months have passed since I made that list, so I wanted to revisit it and share some of my progress with y'all!

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

6 Things My Dog Taught Me About Being a Mom



We had our wonderful dog, Charley, for six years before Abbie and Sam showed up, and like many families headed by infertile couples, he became like a child to us.  A lot of "fertiles" shook their heads at me when I would say things like that, telling me it's not the same and I would understand if I ever got to be a mother to a human child.  While I acknowledge that it's not the EXACT same, as a now mother of two human children, I can attest that there most certainly ARE a lot of similarities.  In fact, being Charley's momma prepared me in a lot of ways to be a good momma to Abbie and Sam. :-)

Monday, April 18, 2016

BarBABYdos: Where to Stay (Comparing Rosebank and Courtyard by Marriott)

When people email me to ask me questions about our experience with Barbados Fertility Centre and our time on the island, booking accommodations is almost always one of the topics they ask about.  So I figure, if so many people are asking about it, it must be blog post time :-)


BFC offers packages in which they will book your airfare and accommodations for you, even further reducing your potential stress level.  Of course, there is a reasonable upcharge for the convenience, and if the financial savings is one of the main reasons you are considering pursuing your fertility treatment in Barbados, you may want to avoid that extra money and book your own flights and hotel.  This is the route we took, and truthfully, it didn't add too much stress.  There are relatively few options for flights (only three airlines currently fly from the US to Barbados), and the Centre has a curated list of hotels in the area that they are happy to provide for you.  

While we obviously don't have experience with all of the hotels on the list, I can tell you about our experiences at two different properties - Rosebank and the Courtyard by Marriott - and give you some pros and cons of each to keep in mind as you make your decision. 

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

8 Magic Moves Mommas Master


When you're pregnant - or even thinking about getting pregnant - people are quick to tell you what a magic-filled time of your life pregnancy and parenting will be.  And they're completely correct!  In both super sincere and slightly sarcastic ways, mothers become magicians.  I thought about my daily repertoire of magic, then consulted some of my favorite fellow magicians - the fabulous parents in my twin mom club - and here are just a few of our many tricks:

The Abdominal Amplification  

Let's start at the very beginning... (a very good place to start.  Sorry, I'll stop with the lyrics now.) Our bellies get kind of ginormous.  Especially twin bellies.  As you're watching yours expand almost so quickly you can see it, you can't help but marvel at this super-cool magic trick you didn't even know you could do!


The Sedative Song 

You may have the world's second-worst singing voice (mine's the worst), but something about it still calms your baby.  Their reaction is almost trance-like, and I always picture that scene in The Little Mermaid when Ariel's voice is out of her body, swirling around toward Ursula's seashell necklace... except my voice seems to wrap around those tiny angry people and make their eyes glaze over and get very... very... heavy....


The Gibberish Decoder

When I hear a noise from the nursery, I can always tell you which baby it is, and 99% of the time, I can tell you what they want.  Their voices and needs have changed, but since they were a few days old, I've been able to translate like they are my second and third languages.  I'm much more fluent in Abbie and in Sam than I ever got in French... with eight years of study. And there's no textbook, dictionary, or tutor for these languages. Tell me THAT isn't magic! ;-)


The Medication Obscuration

Only by magic can we convince babies that the syringe of sickly sweet syrup they do NOT want to swallow is really an airplane they should open their mouths to let into the hangar.


The Auxiliary Appendage Acquisition

We can hold a squirming baby (or more), mix bottles, and (for many of us) keep an older child or even a pet from getting into trouble, all at the same time.  Each of those tasks require at least two arms... put a few of them together... magic!


The Perplexing Plaything Prestidigitation

In this trick, a toy that two kids are fighting over (or fighting with) suddenly disappears without a trace. It may or may not reappear at a later date ;-)


The Silent Slink

This is the ability to slip in and out of your sleeping babies' nursery to retrieve the cell phone charger you left there during their morning bottles.


The Tenacity Optimization

After a long day of being pooped on (figuratively and literally), of questioning and striving and loving and advocating... we go to bed exhausted, then wake up (usually too soon) and do it all again. Because we are magical creatures, and we love those little people so stinkin' much <3

What magic tricks did I miss? :-)  If you leave one in a comment, make sure I have a link to your blog if you have one... it may show up in a follow-up post down the road!

Friday, April 1, 2016

My Simple Spring Mom-iform (and a coupon code!)

Have I mentioned how I'm loving all of the spring colors and flowers in our back yard? :-)  The weather in Ohio is a little temperamental right now, so it's not necessarily feeling like spring every day, but it sure LOOKS like spring time! I'm gonna let you in on a little secret that could probably get my blogger cred revoked... I feel about the coming of spring pretty much the way everybody else feels about autumn ;-) It's fresh and soft and optimistic... and I can go barefoot more easily.

White and Gold Polka Dot Shirt: Kohl's (still see on clearance sometimes!)
Dark Peach Shorts: Kohl's (softest. shorts. ever!)
Shoes: circa 2004ish? And I can't even read the brand anymore.
Necklace: c/o The Vintage Honey Shop (Spring Daisy Ring)

This is my spring "mom-iform"... I keep it very simple.  I have a handful of skirts and pairs of shorts and several solid-colored or neutral tees.  I'd say all of my tops go with 3/4 of my bottoms, and all of my bottoms go with 3/4 of my tops.  I almost have to try to mismatch, haha! :-)  But neutrals and basics don't have to be boring!  Believe it or not, these fun peach shorts are really versatile - they look great with my white (or this white with polka dots), black, light blue, navy, and tan shirts! And I'd wear it with yellow if I had one... hm.  Maybe I need a yellow shirt. ;-)  I wear my favorite old (we're talking high school here, y'all), broken-in flats, and a Vintage Honey Shop necklace, and my mom-iform is complete :-)  

Each piece is deliberate but relaxed. Everything is interchangeable so when I get spit up on, I can change the dirty piece instead of the whole outfit.  All of my clothing is either loose or comfortably stretchy, allowing me to roll around on the floor, pick up Abbie and Sam, and bend and twist all day long. And my choice of jewelry entertains restless babies and soothes their poor teething gums :-)


Speaking of my Vintage Honey Shop teething necklaces, I have just been accepted as a brand rep and affiliate for their shop!  I've talked before about how much I love these necklaces, and I'm so excited that I get to offer my readers a coupon code for 10% off their orders!  And in addition to you saving 10%, I earn a little bit of money too... which will probably go back toward buying another necklace for myself ;-) So I SUPER appreciate you entering this code at checkout! :-) The code is:


alwayskatie

Tell me about your "uniform!"  Do you have a closet full of super-basic basics like I do?  Or do you like to mix it up a little more?  And which Vintage Honey Shop necklace do you neeeed in your life? :-)

Happy April, friends! 


Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Abbie and Sam at Nine Months

We got Abbie's and Sam's nine months pictures back this weekend, and I promptly melted in a puddle of momma :-)  We had soooo many great pictures that it was really tough to narrow it down to our favorites for Facebook, and then further for the blog :-)  



They turned nine months old on March 3, so they're almost 10 months old now.  


Right now, Abbie has two teeth and Sam still has none... Abbie's are SHARP!!  She was chewing on my finger today, bit a little too hard, and broke the skin.  



We JUST separated them into separate cribs at night, because Abbie has started to climb on Sam every chance she gets.



Sam is crawling quickly and lots of distance.  Abbie "army crawls," but doesn't crawl with her belly up in public.  We HAVE seen her doing it perfectly over the video monitor at night... it's like she's practicing before she shows off the new skill.  Little stinker ;-)


Sam goes from his belly to sitting by himself now... this milestone is a crazy one to me.  Just glance over and he's sitting tall and straight, and I didn't put him there!  So grown up!



They had their first chocolate this weekend... we decided that would be a fun little first for their Easter.  Each one had a tiny bit of a warm homemade chocolate chip cookie.  




Monday, March 14, 2016

Building a Legacy (#MotherhoodMonday, Motherhood Motivation)


When we were trying to have children, I used to daydream about the little things, the daily miracles and joys.  I was motivated by the desire to make a silly face and watch a gummy smile bloom, to explore how paint colors mix with a toddler, to braid a daughter's hair.  But I was also motivated by the idea of my legacy.

I alluded to this a little bit when I talked about the pressure of picking the perfect names for our twins... the idea that these names (but mostly these people) are forever.  I pray that Abbie and Sam will each find the great love of their life and have babies (hopefully more easily than we did), and that some of those babies will have babies and that our descendants are good people who do great things.  

Leaving a legacy is important. As a grad student, I was drawn to Erikson's stages of psychosocial development.  The seventh stage - middle adulthood - is all about making a difference and leaving a legacy, and for a person to successfully move on from that stage, they must feel they have accomplished this.  A legacy doesn't have to be through parenting... far from it.  I believe that Ethan's legacy is more far-reaching than my own, as he has directly influenced over a thousand students as a teacher and a professor... but for me, I have always imagined that my major legacy in following generations would be through my work as a mother.

So my motivation in mothering is to set in motion a cascade of good, loving, influential people who make differences in their own ways.  Sort of like the premise of the movie "Pay It Forward"... I can raise two good people who each will have their own legacy reaching multiple others, who will have their own legacies... I hope these legacies will be of compassion, strength, and dedication.  

Every day, I will try to model these characteristics for Abbie and Sam.  I will try to meet their changing needs, to help them become confident, whole, well-rounded adults who are excited about their own legacies, whatever those may be.  

PS: Please stop in and visit with the other #MotherhoodMonday blogger moms who have posted today!

Friday, March 11, 2016

Five Friday Favorites (March 11, 2016)

I enjoy reading what other bloggers have been loving, so I hope you'll enjoy my five favorite posts from the past week or so!

  1. Elena at Beautiful Hope invited several other married bloggers and me to serve on a panel to answer questions submitted by engaged women.  The engaged ladies asked some really great questions, and I've been enjoying reading the wisdom of other married women!  The first question was about how NOT to be a "bridezilla," the second was about nurturing your relationship with your fiance while you're preoccupied with planning, and the third was about budgeting
  2. Mattie's Makings featured me in last week's Mattie's Makings Instagram challenge! Super-honored! And using her hashtag has introduced me to a few lovely instagrammers and bloggers, which makes the blog world feel a little smaller and warmer :-) 
  3. Chrystie at Living for Naptime shared a guest post by Jenny of Princess Turned Mom about the time she cried at Trader Joe's.  Can't say as I've experienced the exact scenario she describes... can't even say I've actually been to Trader Joe's (lol!)... but boy, did this post hit home.  The way she summed it up has really stuck with me: "This mommy business is literally the hardest job in the world and some days are good and some are really quite miserable. But just as a sick baby cries out for their mommy in the middle of the night so are we to cry out to our heavenly father for help. And that is what I did that day as I cried at Trader Joe’s.  'As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you.” -Isaiah 66:13'"  Thanks, Chrystie and Jenny, for encouraging this tired momma's heart this week!
  4. My wonderful husband sent me this article about the conversation around C-sections by Jenni Naselli at Desiring God.  I love it!  I'm so tired of feeling judged for our birth story... I gave a vaginal birth a valiant effort, and don't appreciate hearing that if I'd done this, or tried that, or ignored the advice of my doctor, we could have had a "better" experience.  My kids and I are alive.  Pretty satisfied with my experience! 
  5. And finally, my friend Brittany at Grace, Love, Life wrote a great post in modern terms about becoming the Proverbs 31 wife.  So many of  us know this passage, but the ideas don't feel particularly relevant to our modern life (I don't weave, and I think God is okay with that)... so what does the wife of noble character look like in 2016?  Very thought provoking post!


Thank you ladies for such great reading this week! 

What was the best thing you read this week? Paste links in the comments - I love reading and following other bloggers! :-)  Have a lovely weekend, y'all!


Thursday, March 10, 2016

A Day in the Life of This SAHM Blogger

Sorry for my delayed post this week!  It's been a good-but-busy several days, and I didn't have the foresight to pre-schedule posts :-)

This past weekend was my twin mom club's semi-annual consignment sale, so I was busy shopping, then rearranging the house to fit all of my awesome finds in!  I got a bunch of clothes (in sizes I don't wanna talk about) and a couple of bigger toys for the twins' first birthday (AGAIN, I don't wanna talk about it)... good as new, for 1/4 or less of retail?  Score!!  If you have these sales in your area and have never been, I HIGHLY recommend them!  Especially buying two of everything, baby stuff gets expensive. :-) I'm picky about the quality of what I'll buy, and I still get incredible deals!


I haven't really updated on the twins much here (if you want a bit more of a play-by-play, follow my Instagram... I'm a lot better about posting life updates there.), so I thought I'd share a sample day-in-the-life post with some updates so you can get a taste of what's up in our world. :-)  There are about four different kinds of days around here: blog days, normal days, errand days, Sundays.  

On a day that I've decided to work on the blog... 

  • 8am - Ethan leaves for work.  I snuggle under the covers and catch up on social media.  I have no idea how I manage to miss so much over night!  

  • 8:30ish - I drag myself out of bed and hop in the shower, get dressed, etc.

  • 9:30 - I come downstairs, let Charley out, then check to make sure that the day's post has auto-posted correctly and is formatted right.  If it needs tweaked (and it almost always does), I fix it and start on my promotion rounds... I am in a couple of Facebook groups for bloggers where we can share posts with each other. If I share a link, I'm encouraged to visit five or so other links and leave comments on other posts, which is a lot of fun and lets me get to know other bloggers I may not have met before.  By the time I'm done with these groups, I usually need to leave 10-15 comments for other bloggers.  I make careful note of where I've left links and the specific reciprocity requirements for each place, with lots of little checkboxes.

  • 10:00 - Continuing the promotion rounds, I pin my post to the Pinterest board where I keep all of the posts from my blog (or sometimes another board instead).  I also "stumble" the post on stumbleupon, tweet the post, and share a related picture on my Instagram with a teaser to send people to read the post.  Also around this time, Abbie and Sam are starting to chatter in their crib.  Sometimes they go back to sleep, sometimes they just visit for a while.

  • 10:30 - I work on developing some of the post ideas in my notebook into actual posts.  If it happens to be a sunny day, it's also the perfect time to take "stock" or other blog photos.  I'm trying to build a library of go-to images that I own all rights to, so sometimes I take pictures that I have no idea when or why I'll use them.  I'm keeping an eye on the video monitor to see what kind of mood the twins are in so I can judge about when I'll need to make bottles and go get them up. 

  • 11:15 - I share the day's post on my blog's Facebook page, then usually share it to my own timeline as well.  If anyone has commented on the blog, I try to reply to those comments.  Then it's time to put the blog aside for a while and go get my babies.

  • 11:30 or noonish - I make two bottles, grab some clean baby clothes, and head up to the nursery.  I change Sam's diaper and usually his outfit (both babies tend to soak diapers until they leak) while he wriggles and giggles and sometimes scolds me for taking too long, then we snuggle into the recliner for breakfast.  He still loves to cuddle at bottle time, which is perfectly fine with his Momma!  When he's fed and happy, I put him in the "spare" crib (we keep blankies and toys in that one, never in the "sleeping" crib) while I repeat the process with his less-snuggly sister.  


  • 12;30 - When both kidlets are fed, I carry Abbie downstairs and put her on the floor in their playroom.  We have it gated off and totally childproofed, so she can't get into any trouble.  I run back up the stairs and grab Sam (who has usually noticed and begun voicing his displeasure that I've taken his playmate away) and carry him back down.  I plop him in the playroom and make myself some brunch... usually reheated leftovers or some snacky things... and settle into my comfy playroom chair to eat.


  • 1:00 - From then, I'm watching them play, clapping and cheering as Sam crawls across the room, rolling around on the floor, or playing Abbie's favorite game - Abbie Airplane. Airplaning a 20+ pound princess over my head gets quite the burn going in my arms!  Sometimes someone needs a fresh diaper in the middle of playing, but not that often. We talk a lot... both babies make a lot of sounds, and occasionally a deliberate MOMMA or (much more often) Dadadadada.  Charley sits in my chair or very nearby and supervises every move everyone makes.

  • 3:30 - It's time for the second bottle of the day, so I whip up some yummy formula and scoop up whichever twin is closer or noisier.  Usually Sam ;-) I also change them after every bottle.

  • 4:00-4:30ish - Ethan usually gets home not too long after the second bottles are done, and we carry the babies in to the family room and put them in the pack-n-play.  They usually play for a little while, and sleep for maybe 20 minutes while Ethan is settling in and I start working on supper. On blog days, it's always a simple, quick dinner. 

  • 5:00 - We feed the grown-ups, talk about our days, flirt a little ;-)  

  • 5:30 - We play with the babies and they show Daddy any new tricks they've learned :-)

  • A photo posted by Katie Hodge (@always_katie) on

  • 6:30-7ish - We give the babies their third bottles of the day and change their diapers.  By this time, they're usually pretty sleepy, especially if they didn't take that 20 minute nap in the pack-n-play.

  • 7:30-8ish - Bed time!  We each carry a baby up the stairs and change them one last time before tucking them in.  One of us will change the sheets (usually Ethan, since I'm barely hanging on by a thread at this point), then we make sure that both parents get to kiss and snuggle both babies, and we plop them in the same crib.  They still sleep together... shh each other back to sleep on the rare occasion one wake over night, and entertain each other when they wake up in the morning.  I think it's awesome for their twin bonding... and for our sleep!  

  • 8:15 - We come back down the stairs, high-five that we survived another day, then I sit down and grab my lap top.  I reply to any comments left on my blog, then make the rounds and fulfill my obligations to the promo groups I mentioned earlier, leaving 10-15 comments (and making new friends!) on other people's blogs.  This takes a good long while, since I read each post carefully, try to leave thoughtful comments that contribute to the conversation, and make note of whose blogs I'm commenting on.  We usually watch something on Netflix and chat/catch up while I'm doing this, too, so my focus is on several things at once. :-)  

  • 11:00-midnightish - We drag two very tired adults and one goofy dog up the stairs to bed. :-)

Blog days are busy, tiring days, but I love them :-)  This is why I only aim for posting twice a week though... much more and I think it would be difficult to take care of my house and family the way I want to. I know there are SAHM bloggers (or bloggers who work 40+ hours outside the home!) who post every day... but those people are magical unicorns to me!  I don't know how they do it, but mad props! :-) I'm thankful for a schedule that lets me be present with the kids AND make fun connections with online friends at the same time... it keeps me semi-sane and helps with the isolation that I sometimes felt before getting back into blogging after having the babies.  Thanks for being part of that community!!


Friday, March 4, 2016

Easy Cheesy Chicken Enchiladas

This is a sponsored post in collaboration with Influenster and Hormel.  I was given a sample of a product in exchange for my honest review.  All opinions are my own.

If there is one thing you need to know about my cooking style, it's that I LOVE convenience cooking! Love it.  A lot.  The easier, the better! So when Influenster sent me a coupon for their heat-and-eat taco meats, I was so excited!  Not that making your own taco meat is all that difficult... I did it from scratch for a while, and only started using packets when the babies came.  But even then, it takes a little while and I'm always glad to save a little time in the kitchen. :-)

When I was pregnant, I got intense cravings for chicken enchiladas in cheese sauce, and for some reason, those cravings are still.hanging.around.  Nine months postpartum.  Our closest Mexican restaurant is 15 minutes away, and it's a little bit of a production to go out to eat with the babies. Plus, I've been trying to cook more at home to save a little money now that I feel like I have my head above water now. :-)

So instead of getting the taco beef and making tacos or my favorite taco bake from GOODEness Gracious, I decided to buy Hormel's taco chicken and try to make some enchiladas that would satisfy my craving.  

And by George... I did it :-)

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Grapevine Wreaths, Revisited (For every day and Easter)

We've been slowly but surely adding cozy little touches to our home, and one that I am ESPECIALLY excited about is this storage bench for our foyer.  We had been looking for one for that spot off-and-on since we bought the house.  I wanted a little bit of hidden storage and a place to plop to put on or take off shoes - mine and the kids' - and I think a place to sit and be comfy right inside the door is a welcoming touch. 

So once we had this beauty on the way, we picked up a couple of rugs at Home Goods, and I started trying to decide what to put on the wall over it to really finish the look off.  I decided to go with a grapevine wreath that pulled the blue from the front door rug and the throw pillows across the room and up the wall, and tied it in with the creamy rug under the bench.  


But then, because I can't leave well enough alone, I decided to make an Easter wreath, too, and I'll make more wreaths as more holidays approach.


I love making these wreaths - they're easy, inexpensive, and so customizable.  You may remember I shared a tutorial for them when I made the one for over the tub in our master bathroom, so you can check that out if you want your own fabulous wreath... or wreaths... for your own home!

Happy March!  I hope you have a wonderful day! 

Always,

Katie

Thursday, February 25, 2016

E-Coupon Organizer (FREE Printable!)


Who else LOVES e-coupons?  I mean, coupons in general are awesome, but the kind you don't have to cut out and carry with you, worry about losing before you get to the register?  Brilliant!  

My problem with them, though, is that I have a hard time going back and forth between my grocery list on my phone, the store's ad on my phone, and the list of the coupons... also on my phone.  

I can't TELL you how many times I've missed using an e-coupon I'd loaded onto my loyalty card by buying TWO boxes of Hamburger Helpers instead of THREE ;-)  Blaaarrgh!

How much easier would it be to have an organized physical list of these e-coupons to reference while building your grocery list? I couldn't really find any online, so I whipped one up to use.  I thought I'd go ahead and share with all of you, in case you've had those aggravating experiences like I have :-) 

Go ahead and save the above jpg file, or click here to download a pdf version!

Have a wonderful day!  Happy couponing! :-) 


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