Always, Katie: March 2016

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! 



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