Saturday, December 7, 2013

Bunk Bed Revamp

We were given a set of bunk beds by some very generous friends several months ago. I had my doubts about my very active twin girls sleeping on bunk beds, but the first couple months went just fine. Then, one of the girls got too close to the ceiling fan and cut her eyebrow. One trip the ER and five stitches later, we decided to move the bunk beds (we actually disassembled them for a time) as far away from the fan as possible. 

While the beds were disassembled, I spent a lot more time with the girls in the evenings lying on their beds, reading and talking. I'd hoped to continue this once their bunk beds were set up again, but it just wasn't comfortable and ended up not happening.

Enter home improvement idea number 489,000. I talked to my babydad and told him that we should convert the bunk beds into low, L-shaped loft beds. After a couple of months of hem-hawing around, we decided to take the plunge today. 
Bunk beds before:

My man cut the legs off the top bunk to make the bottom bunk you see below. 

Here's the headboard of the top bunk. JGB is measuring the headboard and getting ready to drill the holes for the hardware to make this the top bunk. 

And, the after pic. These girls are happy to have their new, lower beds. And, I am looking forward to many evenings spending time with my precious girls in their room. 

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Ten Years in Pictures

My babydad and I just celebrated ten years of marriage. 

2003...Our Wedding Day...two clueless kids. 

I don't have a picture from 2004, our first anniversary. We were newly pregnant with our oldest child. 

Below is 2005. We were in Atlanta for a dear friend's wedding a few weeks before our anniversary. 

 Here we are in 2006. I'd worked so hard to get that baby weight off! And, I included the horrible home decor in the background just to keep it real. This was pre-Pinterest, people. :) 

 In this shot taken in 2007, I was 21 weeks pregnant with the twins. Notice the fussy 2 year old (my son!) loving on his Aunnie, my sister. 

Here we are in 2008, for our five year anniversary. We were on a quick getaway during this trip, but I don't remember where we were! The twins were still not sleeping through the night and we were so tired and so happy to be alone. 

Fun family shot in 2009. Look at those babies! So tiny! This was a super fun stage with the twins. This was when we first began the process to become foster/adoptive parents. 

2010...the beginning of twin toddlers. Heaven help me. I was so tired. 

Here we are in 2011, still in the throes of twin toddlers. You know, people are toddlers for a long time. This was just about 2 weeks before we received our first foster son. We were able to love on that little guy for six months before he moved on. It was a time unlike any other for our family. 

Our family in 2012 with our sweet baby boy just days after bringing him home. Have you ever seen such a serious and sad looking baby? We were so happy to have him, but it was a rough adjustment period for the little guy as he was grieving the loss of his foster mama and adjusting to life with us, his forever family. 

And, here we are now. We went out to celebrate our 10 year anniversary, but I didn't get a picture of us all gussied-up. We have a big trip planned in honor of our anniversary several months from now. 

Marriage is not easy, but God's grace is so rich. I had absolutely no idea what a good marriage would look like when we met. I just knew I wanted to marry a faithful, honest man who loved Jesus. That's who the Lord gave me and I am daily thankful for him. Here's to many, many more anniversaries. xoxoxo

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Birchwood Park

One of my girlie-girls has been asking me all week to take her on a date. Today was date day and it was divine. We started at our favorite lunch spot, Terri Lynn's, sis got a BBQ beef sammie and Cheetos and I got a French dip. Sister wanted to take our lunch to Birchwood Park. This park is a hidden gem, truly. If you live in my city, go to Shackleford (kind of near Community Bakery), turn on Birchwood, when you get to Springwood, you should see where you can park just outside the park. We swang, ate our delicious lunch, talked, took a walk, looked at the creek and just generally enjoyed each other. And, we ended our date with a frosty. I love that little girl and I so loved having her all to myself today.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Sunday, September 8, 2013

First Month of School and 13 Month Old Baby Update

We are just about a month into the school year. The first four weeks have been such a learning experience. I really have been shocked at how hard homeschooling three kiddos and corralling an adorably busy toddler has been for me. I wish I could bring you all a post saying that it's going great and I never get impatient and that my kindergarteners are speaking latin fluently, doing long division, reading the Iliad and that my second grader has begun translating the bible for unreached people groups, tutoring high school students in trigonometry and playing Canon in D blindfolded on the baby grand in our dining room. As it is, we do not have a baby grand and my children are normal. I am relatively normal and we are still working out the kinks in our days at home which I assume will continue to be an ongoing process for some time. 

One of our favorite book series are the Amelia Bedelia books. One of the books we read in the series talked about Amelia Bedelia making caramel apples. So, we made caramel apples. They were divine. 

And, my baby. This kid. I don't deserve him! He's so sweet, so stinking cute and so squeezable. He's 13 months old now. Here are his latest moves: 
  • walks, runs all the time and has been for months
  • loves his straw sippy cup
  • has just recently begun drinking and suckling on his bottle in a normal way. He has never been a good eater and has always struggled with his bottles until the last few weeks. 
  • because he is finally really enjoying feeding time, we are continuing to give him 2-3 bottles a day for nourishment of the heart and the body. Sweet, sweet bonding time. 
  • words: Gaaah!, mama, dada, bubba, aaaa oooo (thank you), now I know a couple of those aren't words, but whatever. I know what he means when he says them, which is pretty good. 
  • favorite food: applesauce. also loves grapes, plain yogurt, sweet potatoes, avacado, red beans and rice, chicken and rice, and hates scrambled eggs and cottage cheese. 
  • went to bible study with me this week and went to a group care setting for the first time since he's been in our home. When I waved good bye to him at the door, his eyes widened and filled with this little look of fear. I backed away slowly, thinking he would cry and I would rescue him. Fortunately, he was distracted by the other cute one year olds and did not cry at all. I walked down the hall to my class with tears in my eyes. 
  • loves bath time. Gets so excited and in the bath tub that I bathe him in the sink so that he won't flop all over the place and flood the bathroom with his constant splashing. :) 
  • is so loved. Justin and I cannot get enough of this kid. We both love watching him. Each child is a joy and a blessing. I had no idea that we'd ever have four kids, but I am so glad God had other plans. 

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Easy, Nutritious Donuts. Seriously.

We love donuts. I love baking yummy treats for my kids. I googled "soaked wheat donuts" and found this recipe.

I pretty much followed the recipe, but I soaked my flour in buttermilk. I did not use lemon juice or vinegar and I added a little more buttermilk than the recipe called for because the dough seemed a little thick. I have found that soaking whole wheat baked goods in buttermilk makes a much better flavor than using water and an acid medium such as vinegar or lemon juice. I rolled the donuts to a little less than 1/2" thick. (My version of the recipe below). You can read a bit about why I soak wheat flour here.

My big boy was my photographer. And, yes my shirt is 13 years old. Why do you ask?

The pic above was right before we put them in the oven. The donut holes were a huge hit! The recipe yielded 14 donuts and a dozen or so donut holes. I used a pretty large biscuit cutter for the donuts. The cutter was about the size of an English muffin. And I baked them anywhere from 9-15 minutes on the convection setting.

For the toppings, I made the chocolate sauce in the recipe above, cinnamon and sugar and powdered sugar. For the sugared toppings, I dipped the donuts in melted butter and then the sugas. Divine. Truly.

The donuts were divine, but they were definitely had more of a cake donut type texture. Even my non-wheat loving hubby liked them. I should have gotten a better profile shot of the donuts after they were baked. I assure you, they rose nicely.

And my big kiddos after I was snapping this pic they said, "better than Shipleys!!" Totally unprompted and hilarious. Love these kids!

Recipe with my adaptations (see original recipe here):

Soaked Wheat Donuts

4 1/2 cups whole wheat flour4 tsp. baking soda1/2 tsp. salt1/2 tsp. nutmeg1 tsp. cinnamon3 egg yolks
1 cup organic cane sugar or sucanat5 Tbsp. butter or coconut oil, melted1 to 1-1/2 cups buttermilk 
Combine the flour, sugar, coconut oil and buttermilk. Let the dough rest for 12-24 hours. Add the remaining ingredients and mix well. (I let mine rest overnight, like 8-9 hours and no one died). 
Roll out dough to approximately 1/2″ thickness. Cut out donuts with cutter, ring or shape into desired shapes.
Bake on an ungreased baking sheet  at 425 degrees for 8-10 minutes.  Allow to cool.
Topping Options:
For chocolate:
1 cup chocolate chips 
1/4 cup milk 3 Tbsp. organic all purpose flour (or arrowroot or cornstarch)
Melt chocolate chips slowly on the stove in a pot or a double boiler if you like things fancy. When all of the chocolate is melted slowly stir in the milk and flour.  Mix until smooth.  Remove from heat.
Dip the donuts in the warm chocolate.
Store donuts in an airtight container at room temperature for short term storage.  Store in a freezer for long term storage.
For powdered sugar or cinnamon sugar:
melt about a stick of butter, dip warm donuts in butter and then in desired sugars. Divine. 

Monday, August 12, 2013

First Day of School

I've homeschooled Gramm for the past 2 years...3 years if you count preK, which was basically us reading books all year. It was super fun. This year I am teaching Gramm and my precious, energetic twins. A second grader and two kindergarteners. Today was our first day. We started out with a yummy breakfast (oatmeal bake, maple yogurt with blueberries, milk). I came up with a new tradition this year. On the first day of school, my babydad and I give each child their own cup, plate and bowl. I chose each pattern based on what each kiddo is interested in at this time. The kids all love their new dishes. And, by the time they graduate from high school, they will each have a fun and memorable set of mismatched dishes.

This child. My heart!!!

My dear friend made this really cool board for our crew...I hope to remember to take pics of my kids in front of it every school year. Romy boy missed out this year because he was napping. 

Gramm wanted to hold Vivi for this pic because she'd had a earache all day. 

This boy listening to history on the backporch...Story of the World, ancients. He is loving it. 

My high school bestie and her boys graced us with their presence for the evening. This chunky monkey (on the right) is 3 months younger than Roman.

A few homeschooling details for any of you who are interested: 
  • we have been blessed with the ability to hire a wonderful helper two afternoons a week. Hello, mental health for mommy. 
  • I never, ever, ever thought I would homeschool my kids.
  • I had major anxiety this weekend over the first day of school.
  • The twins loved school and may be the easiest students ever. They asked for more work today and even specifically requested certain subjects. Then again, I may be speaking too soon. 
  • this is our first year to homeschool without a co-op. So far, so good. You know, one day in and all. 
  • when I was in the throes of twin toddlers, I picked out a great private school for them to attend. I was still loosely planning on them going to school until sometime in June. Mamas, don't plan your life based on the crazy hard toddler years. Things change. 
  • I'm tired and going to bed. 

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The Royal Baby

We don't have a TV and I don't read much news because it depresses me. But, even I, in my own little world, cannot escape the news of the royal baby born yesterday. Of course I am always happy to hear about the birth of a baby. But, this news has really struck a chord in me. See, a year and two days ago, my son was born. My husband and I were busy moving all of our worldly goods into our new house. It was hot. We were tired. Our three kiddos were with my mom all day. And, the moment that our son was born passed very uneventfully for us. We didn't even know he was here and he was born in a hospital less than ten minutes from our home. I can barely even think about this...he came into this world and I was not there to snuggle him, swaddle him and celebrate his life...a life graciously given because his birth mother chose LIFE.

Our boy was placed in a loving, nurturing foster home very soon after he was born. Just three months later, he was in my arms and has not left yet. 

So, on Sunday, the day our babe turned one year old, we celebrated him. His favorite food at the moment is watermelon. We stuck a candle in a watermelon, bought a ridiculously priced baby toy, lit sparklers and sang "Happy Birthday" to our son. Our son!! He is ours! I wasn't there the day he was born, but I am here now and I'm. Not. Leaving. And, the celebrations will continue on into the next two weeks to include a joint brother birthday party and a baby shower for us thrown by precious friends. So, here's to life. I have a feeling that the angels celebrated for me the day my son was born even though I was clueless. In my mind's eye, I wonder if God was just rubbing his hands together, smiling, and thinking, "Just wait, Holly and Justin. I have a HUGE surprise for you guys in about three months." He loves to give us good gifts and we are grateful.