And then they were…FOUR?!

I blinked and my babies became toddlers who became small children. Weren’t they just born? Didn’t I just celebrate their first birthday? Didn’t I just write an open letter to them after their first year? WHAT IS HAPPENING.

Mommies and Daddies: Hold on to every single second. Cherish every moment. Document less. Just be. Soak in every moment. Hold their hands, kiss their boo-boos, snuggle with them every day. You blink and they’ve moved on to the next age.

Here are some fun facts about my boys:

micah:

1. He Is such a dreamer and has such a powerful imagination.

I love to quietly observe him. My Micah gets completely lost in his world of superheroes and toys. He goes on wild adventures, his imagination is seriously astounding. You can give him a box and he’ll turn it into an imaginary castle for all of his toys. He will envision a world. The TV stand becomes a cliff for the Justice League to jump off to save the day. He inspires me to imagine and dream on a daily basis. He is such a kid in the best way.

2. He takes an eternity to like anyone.

Micah is the kind of kid who won’t hand out his love for free. If you want him to be in your corner you have to earn his affection. He doesn’t smile for strangers or talk to them. If you want an in when it comes to his heart you better get to know him and be entertaining. Otherwise, expect stares and scowls. The best part is that once he DOES like you, you’re in for good. He’ll give out his million dollar smirks like they’re free candy. It just might take you a year to earn it.

3. He lives for the tease and likes to prank people.

I know I probably shouldn’t love this, but it’s actually funny sometimes. He likes to play jokes on people and trick them. I see it as someone who’s creative and clever. He does it to Josiah the most and Josiah HATES it the majority of the time, but he gets a kick out of driving people nuts at times and mostly Josiah.

JOSIAH

1. HE’S OBSESSED WITH MUSIC LIKE HIS PARENTS. AND HE’S REALLY GOOD AT IT.

Josiah loves the drums and is actually quite good at playing them for a toddler. He has his own kid set upstairs and will play hours on end and when he doesn’t want to go upstairs, he will play on the couch. My favorite Josiah moments are when I hear him humming loudly the songs that we’ve sung in church. On Sundays, he says, “Mommy are you singing today? I like when you sing” and my heart pretty much melts right into the floor.

2. HE WAKES UP HAPPY.

I’m not a morning person at all. Early bird catches the worm? Forget the worm. I don’t care about it if it means I can sleep for a few extra hours. That being said, Josiah wakes up with a grin whether it’s in the morning or it’s after his nap. He’s one of those kids that wakes up with a bounce in his step. He’s ALWAYS been a happy little guy even when he was a baby! It’s funny how they say that you can see the personalities of kids as babies because for my boys it was mostly true!

3. HE IS A MOMMA’S BOY AND LIVES FOR THE SNUGGLE.

My Josiah is a shameless snuggler. He will snuggle with me all day long without any apologies or cares. If he’s watching a TV show, he loves it when I sit close to him and hold him. He’s a momma’s boy through and through and I love it so much! Whereas Micah needs his space, Josiah is usually good with me being in his space and welcomes it. He also has a harder time when I go anywhere: “Mommy, don’t go to work! Stay with me!”

Guys, I LOVE THIS AGE SO MUCH. I don’t care what anyone says, for me, each age gets better and better. This stage is probably my absolute favorite. 

Here’s a glimpse of three through the year!

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First day of preschool was approached with mixed feelings by the boys.

They started to find their place in Sunday School and grew to love it! They love going to church and learning about Jesus.

 

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My babies started off as little shorties with their pants rolled up. By the end of the year, the same pants were high waters.

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One of their favorite activities is to play at the park together!

 

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Micah the model. I like this picture because he’s starting to look like a little boy instead of a baby. God help me!

 

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Dress up for school!

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For a school assignment, they had to dress up like old men! Another day in the books for preschool.

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New tradition – tree cutting for Christmas!

 

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This year they became more cuddly with each other. They’re super protective of one another and yell at anyone who goes against a brother. They have each other’s backs.

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Just another hard day in the life of a toddler.

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Micah became quite the little photo lover this year. This is his favorite facial expressions for taking pictures.

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Oh boy – you can read more about Christmas pictures gone wrong [spot the jelly beans?] in one of my previous posts!

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Snuggle king Josiah doing what he does.

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Most kids like their cider in a cup…not my kid.

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Love this picture that captures the dynamic of their relationship so well!

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By the spring, they were preschool pros and came to love school SO MUCH!

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A mommy surrounded by her handsome sons! My babes!

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Birthday party fun for one of our faves!

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They like to unwind with a cup of “coffee” and night time chats.

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Their first pair of Jordans courtesy of our dear friend Sabrina! They felt so cool and love their ‘basketball shoes for basketball!’ they remind me.

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Zoo hangs are our favorite!

fraternal twins Easter outfit

Probably my favorite Easter outfit they’ve ever worn!

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Good Friday they had to look sharp too of course!

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Long park walks and explorations became a really fun way to hang out for us!

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Probably one of my favorite pictures ever – Micah’s face says it all when it comes down to how much he loves his brother.

Prep's Pizza Ocean City, NJ

Pizza and glasses at our favorite pizza place.

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ZOO FUN!

 

Ocean City, NJ

Favorite family spot and the home of our vacation – Ocean City, NJ. This was after school when we all decided we needed some time at the boardwalk!

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Most happy by the sea.

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You’ve got a friend in me.

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I love how tan my boys get every summer! They are my little cookies!

 

Ocean City, NJ

Beach Vacation 2017.

Smithville, NJ

Riding through life together one mile at a time.

 

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The best I can get with toddlers. After all, they’re only…four!

 

Marriage Mondays: Don’t Get Married for the Wrong Reasons

As you probably know about me at this point, I think marriage is awesome. You can check out past Marriage Monday posts and see that I find great value in marriage [to the right person]. That being said, so many people get married for the wrong reasons. They think that marriage is a magical fix-it band-aid that will make everything better.

Newsflash.

That is not what marriage is.

Marriage is a commitment to love someone until your dying day and demonstrate that love by standing by them through the ups and downs of life. Staying with them when you’re swimming in money. Staying with them when you don’t have two nickels to rub together. Being with someone during sickness, health, and everything in-between. Marriage is REAL y’all! It’s supposed to be for forever.

That being said, so many people get married for the wrong reasons. If you’re single, in a relationship, engaged, or whatever the case may be, check your heart and make sure you’re not about to get married for the wrong reason.

5 wrong reasons to get married to someone:

  1. You want a fancy wedding.

Maybe you’re reading that and scoffing at it. Yeah right, who would get married for a nice wedding?  We all know that girl who has been planning their wedding day since they could talk and walk. Some people even have Pinterest boards that have their whole dream wedding documented and they’re not in a relationship yet – I’m not throwing shade, I promise – but some people get so caught up in a beautiful wedding they forget that after the wedding there is an actual marriage to tend to. I think that if people put the effort, time, and energy into their marriages that they put into their actual wedding day, you would see an abundance of relationships thrive. The point I’m making is this: your wedding day is one single day. Your marriage is supposed to be the rest of your life. Invest!

2. Your boyfriend/girlfriend sucks, but if you marry them all of their suckiness will go away.

NOT TRUE! NOT TRUE! NOT TRUE! Can you tell I’m screaming this virtually from my use of caps? The number one mistake I see is that a person marries someone thinking that they can change them. IF YOU WON’T MARRY THEM EXACTLY AS THEY, ARE DON’T MARRY THEM. If they are a terrible person beforehand, don’t think that solely because you have put a ring on their finger they will suddenly be magical. Marriage doesn’t magically make a terrible person a better one. Don’t marry someone for this reason.

3. You hate being alone.

Marrying someone because you hate being alone is just not enough of a good reason to marry someone. Do you hate being alone? Join a book club. Find a church. Go to a paint party. Yes, companionship is wonderful and marriage is beautiful in that you have a friend and a partner to walk through life with. However, marrying someone on the basis of not being alone is just not enough. Know yourself. Spend time alone. Learn to be content independently. I firmly believe you’ll be a better spouse!

4. It’s part of your 5 year, 10 year, ___ year life plan.

Perhaps you are one of those life planner people. For example, it goes like this: By 25 I want to be in a serious committed relationship on the way to engagement. By 26, I want to be engaged. By 27,  I want to be married. By 28 I want to have my first kid because I CAN’T HAVE KIDS IN MY 30S OMG WHAT WILL HAPPEN IF I HAVE A CHILD IN MY 30S.  Calm down. There’s nothing wrong with having a plan! But here’s what I’ve learned: life plans are funny. Most of the time we plan away and there are certain things you can’t control. Don’t settle for someone who isn’t the right person for you so you can check it off your life plan.  A lifetime is too long to be with someone just because it fell into your five-year plan.

5. you’re tired of dating. 

I once heard someone say, “This is the last relationship I plan on being in because I’m tired of dating and just want to get married.” They didn’t mention being in love, whether the person they were dating had the qualities they wanted or anything along those lines.  All I could think to myself was, “Well, that’s some love story to tell one day.” They just wanted to be done with what they felt like was the grueling process of dating. From what I can see from the outside looking in [people not wanting to be committed and living in more of a hook-up type of generation] I can only imagine how exhausting the whole dating process must be now.  Especially when so many people play games. However, it’s not a good reason to settle. Forever is too long. If you’re tired of dating, take a break from it for awhile. Don’t settle for some Joe Schmo who you don’t really care about. It’s a waste for you and that person and will cost you both in the end.

All of this to say, marriage is awesome and if you are going to get married to someone, don’t do it for the wrong reasons. Xo!

 

Our Ocean City, NJ Vacation and Why You Should Visit

Ocean City, NJ Vacation

This year for vacation we went to a local spot and one of my favorite places: Ocean City, NJ. This is my absolute favorite beach! We stayed here once before when the boys were around one and it was a fun experience! When I was thinking of places to vacation I wanted to stay local and have a stress free vacation. Ocean City, NJ for us was a no-brainer. We are only about 45 minutes away and yet it feels like a world away. We rented the same beach house we stayed at before and it was AWESOME.

What’s the point of vacation, after all? For my family, it’s pure relaxation. We are the kind of family that likes to breathe and not run from one place to another. You know how some people like to hit every attraction? Yeah, not us. We are lazy vacationers at best, but I’d have it no other way and this year was no exception.

From the time I was a preteen, Ocean City, NJ has held a really special place in my heart! I used to vacation here with my best friend and her family during my preteen into teen years. I have so many warm fuzzy memories. Long walks around Ocean City, the bay area, beautiful neighborhoods with a Vanilla Pepsi in hand talking about our hopes, dreams, and crushes. When I think back to my teen years, my OC vacations with my best friend and her family are a clear highlight. We always said we wanted our children to love the beach and Ocean City as much as we did and we succeeded.

See, when your life feels like it’s going about a million miles a minute regularly it’s so beautiful to take a week where all of that is on pause. My husband and I literally said we aren’t going to talk work, business, church…anything. We aren’t going to stress or worry. We are going to relax. That’s pretty much what we did as much as possible, except for hubs doing some real estate work (which I have found is practically unavoidable – since he’s become a realtor we’ve never had a trip where he didn’t have to work a little). It was fantastic and we are likely going to do at least one beach vacay a year we are thinking.

If you’re not from the South Jersey Area and aren’t familiar with Ocean City, I’m going to give you some reasons why you should consider an Ocean City, NJ vacation.

Reasons you should consider an ocean city, nj vacation:

  1. It’s family friendly.

    Ocean City - Gillian's Pier

Where we vacationed, the people below us were parents of triplet girls. If you go to the boardwalk or to the beach, you’ll see families galore. There are tons of things to do including Gillians Wonderland Pier, mini golfing, bike riding on the boardwalk, and more. Also, Ocean City is a dry town and smoking is prohibited on the boardwalk.  It’s just so family oriented and you feel it!

2. It’s a Close walk to the beach.

Ocean City, NJ Boardwalk

Ocean City has a fantastic boardwalk that’s really close to its beach. You can walk right off the boardwalk and the next thing you know, you’re on the beach and don’t have to go far to find yourself in the water.  I don’t want to feel like I’m trekking across the great unknown to have my feet touch the water. I love the fact that everything is in close proximity. Let’s face it, the boardwalk food is 95% of the reason I even go to the beach, who am I kidding?

3. It has an Awesome boardwalk with tons to do.


Mini-Golf, Escape Rooms, Rides, Bumper Carts and all of your essential boardwalk activities are available. I never get tired of walking the boardwalk because there’s always something new to do or something new to see. During the summer on Thursday nights, they have ‘Family Night’ where there is tons of live music and a lively atmosphere. My favorite nights of the summer!

4. it’s Budget Friendly.


Some people might scoff at that, but an Ocean City vacation can be quite affordable actually. Here are a few tips: go in with another family or another person on a beach house. When you do that, you can split the cost. So if a beach house will cost you $1250 for the week, divide that by two and you get the idea. What we did was we ate breakfast at the house, usually grabbed lunch on the boardwalk, ate dinner at the beach house and went to the boardwalk for desserts or any snacks we wanted. If you hit the grocery stores and cook half of your meals, you’ll save a fortune. When it comes to the rides, Gillians Wonderland  Pier offers different specials throughout the week. If you hit the rides during the three ticket ride days/hours, you will get more bang for your book. This helped me as a mom of multiples! We bought one book of 150 tickets for $100 and that was enough to last us throughout the entire week with a few tickets left over.

5. fantastic places to eat.

My absolute favorite part of the boardwalk is the food. I don’t care what anyone tells me, it’s the best part of the boardwalk! I’ve had friends try to convince me to go to other beaches and the first question I have is: are there good places to eat? If the answer is no, I’m not interested. I’m not talking about high-end places if you want that go to Atlantic City. I’m talking about simple food that just tastes good in my belly. I have favorites and you can check them out below.

 My Favorite Places to Eat In Ocean City:

  1. Brown’s Donuts. [Expect a line but it’s worth it!]Brown's Donuts - Ocean City, NJ
  2. Prep’s Pizza. [Just as good as Manco and Manco’s but with better seating and they give the kids dough to play with.]Prep's Pizza in Ocean City, NJ
  3. Piccini’s Wood Fire Pizza. [Fab Italian food!]
  4. The Hula Grill. [Probably my favorite! Hawaiin food – yum!]The Hula Grill in Ocean City, NJ
  5. OC Surf Cafe [New spot for me, great for breakfast or brunch!]

My Favorite Boardwalk Food:

  1. Polish Water Ice.
  2. Shriver’s Gelato – THE CREPES ARE LIFE CHANGING.
  3. Monkey Bread.
  4. George’s Ice Cream.
  5. Johnson’s Popcorn.

6. Insanely relaxing.


Have you ever been on a vacation that was so jam packed you needed a vacation after it to decompress? I feel like beach vacations are so relaxing and a vacation in Ocean City, NJ  is no exception. As mentioned for us, we would wake up, head to the beach for a bit, come back to the beach house for a nap, and then head to the boardwalk for the evening if we felt like it. We also incorporated date nights, courtesy of having my mom with us, movie nights, and mini golf nights. No pressure, no time constraints, and a go at your own pace vibe. The epitome of relaxation.

Overall, an Ocean City, NJ vacation was the perfect vacation for us! We had an amazing time, as evidenced by the smiles!

What are your favorite family friendly vacation spots? Share below! We are always looking for new places to visit! 

My Top 10 Places in and Around South Jersey to Check Out if You have a Toddler

Top 10 Places to Visit with Toddlers in South Jersey

I’m the momma to two very active three-year-olds who will be four this summer. As a teacher, summer is EVERYTHING! I try to make the most of my time with my boys and since they’ve been born, I’ve gathered some of my favorite things to do with them and my favorite places to go.  Majority of these places work fine in the spring, summer, fall, and even winter. This list is compiled with things that we’ve personally enjoyed in the past and recently. This is not an all inclusive list though, so share what you love to do with your little people! Most places, except for two, are located in South Jersey! All located in the TriState Area. Please comment and let me know what places you enjoy and what activities you like to do over the summer!

My Top 10 South Jersey Places to Visit if you Have toddlers

1. Ocean City, NJ – the shore.

By far, my absolute favorite place to go in the summer is Ocean City. Maybe it’s because as a teenager I vacationed here with my best friend and her family or maybe it’s just the amazing food – Ocean City is a win and when you have kids, it’s a double win. First off, the beach is reasonable and if you buy beach tags for the summer, you’re good to go. Second off, Ocean City is super family friendly and there is a lot out there for toddlers including rides, strolling the boardwalk, surrey rides, parks, and more. We spend out time on the boardwalk and beach and it’s our favorite!

Toddler Fun in Ocean City, NJ

2. The Cape May Zoo.

It’s FREE. FREE. FREE. You can make a donation of your choice if you choose. Cape May is a fantastic zoo for toddlers. It’s very walkable because it’s not insanely big. It’s perfect. On top of that, it has an awesome park for the kiddos! There are plenty of pavilions so you can pack a lunch or you can buy lunch there. It’s not far from the Cape May beach area either, so you can do a combo day where you spend half the day at the zoo and half the day at the shore. Score!

Toddler Fun at the Cape May County Zoo Toddler Fun at the Cape May County Zoo Toddler Fun at the Cape May County Zoo Toddler Fun at the Cape May County Zoo

3. The Philadelphia Zoo.

We are pass holders here because by the time you add the price of the tickets together, it makes sense to buy a season pass and reap the benefits: free parking, 10% off your food purchases and gift shop purchases, and free parking. This zoo was the FIRST real zoo in the US. It’s spacious, has tons of animals and sites to see, and is really easy to walk – though because it’s so big we bring the stroller just in case! You can spend a good portion of your day here!

Toddler Fun at the Philadelphia Zoo

4. The Garden State Discovery Museum or Please Touch Museum.

I LOVE the Please Touch Museum. It’s a bit pricey at $19 per person (unless your child is 1 and under). HOWEVER, they offer $2 admission on the first Wednesday of each month from 4 pm to 7 pm. My husband and I like to arrive as soon as it opens. By the time we’ve gone through the whole museum and are ready to leave, that’s when it’s starting to get busy. The $2 fee on the first Wednesday of each month from 4 pm to 7 pm is unbeatable at that price, so if you’re on a budget that would be a good time to check this place out. The Garden State Discovery Museum is cheaper and discounts on Groupon are frequently offered. If you don’t feel like dealing with Philly traffic or driving into the city, The Garden State Discovery Museum is a fun spot too!

 

Toddler Fun at The Garden State Discovery Museum

5. Storybook Land.

This place is essentially designed for toddlers and for small kiddos. It’s a load of fun, lines were short when we went in the summer, and it’s not hard to access/park. Tickets are around $23 if you buy them online and are a bit more at the door! I would choose Storybook Land over a place like Six Flags any day of the week. It’s not as packed and my boys could pretty much get on anything. Also, it’s themed after different classic children’s stories. FUN!

Storybook Land in Mayslanding, NJStorybook Land in Mayslanding, NJ

6. Sesame Place.

In my opinion, if you’re going to go, summer is definitely the time to go! They have awesome an awesome water park! We took the boys here for the majority of the day and we were pooped! Check out my post about Sesame Place for more detailed information about our experience here!

7. Parvin’s State Park.

Located only fifteen minutes away from where we live, we love going to Parvin’s State Park. There are plenty of nature trails that we explore as a family and so many outlets where the kids can skip stones, dip their feet into the lake, and even bicycle. One of my favorite places to go and best of all it’s FREE. I think they charge in the summer to swim/go in the beach area, but I wouldn’t know because we never go to that part.

8. Sahara Sam’s or Diggerland.

We have done Sahara Sam’s in the past but haven’t checked out Diggerland yet, though according to my friend’s, it’s a must. In fact, Diggerland has made it into Redbrook and some other magazines as a destination to check out on this side of the coast! I can speak for Sahara Sam’s and say that we had a fun experience here over the summer. It is an indoor and outdoor waterpark. It’s best to get here early because it gets really packed with different groups and camps coming through. I felt like there was enough for my boys to do at their age and the pool was fun because we could swim with them.

9. Smithville

Smithville is a really cute little historic town located in Atlantic County. When we go here with the boys, we spend maybe about two to three hours here tops. It’s not geared towards toddlers but we still have fun here! It’s quaint, cute, decorative, and a good place to hang for a few hours and do breakfast/lunch/dinner. My kids get a kick out of the ducks that walk around. There’s also a carousel and train rides. They also have different activities and events, so check out their calendar. Price wise: free. Can’t beat that.

10. Adventure Aquarium in Camden, NJ

This is a new one for us! We literally have JUST had the chance to check this place out. You can spend a good portion of your day here and your little ones will have a blast. This aquarium has plenty for the boys to see and do and they absolutely loved it. Price wise, it’s pricey! $28 per adult and $21 per child. As a teacher, we get discounts through ticketsatwork.com which saved us $30 from the total bill. Definitely worth a visit!

Toddler Fun at Adventure Aquarium Toddler Fun at Adventure Aquarium Toddler Fun at Adventure Aquarium

This summer I’m looking forward to creating new memories with my family and also discovering new places and things to do while revisiting some of the things we’ve done in the past! What about you? What’s your favorite summer activity or place to visit? We love to travel and I’m always looking for new places to check out!

7 Ways to Make Date Night Happen – No Excuses

Some of my favorite nights ever are the date nights that I have with my husband. As insane as life gets, whether the budget is fantastic or terrible, whether we “have the time” or not, Jose and I try to make it a priority to go on a date and have that time together without the kiddos. I wanted to share 7 ways to make date night happen regardless of your budget or busyness. For my husband and I, it’s really important!

Why?

Because before there were kids, there was US.

When the kids go to college, it will be US.

I’ve watched so many people have children and literally put their love lives completely on pause. Not for seconds or minutes or even days or weeks, but for YEARS. Then the kids go to college and there are two adults who barely know each other. I strongly believe that if mom and dad are happy and the marriage is healthy, the kiddos will feel the ripple effects of that. I know many who idolize their children to the point where their children consume every aspect of their lives above all things and anything else (even God). There is no room for anything or anyone else. Friendships dissolve and more. I don’t want to be that way! So I’ve decided I won’t.

I’ve faced judgment and even criticism sometimes, because God forbid if you are having fun without your kids, what kind of person even are you? Um, a human being who likes to have fun without her kids at times so she can pee in peace and have dinner without sharing.

Plus, it’ s SO FUN to continue to go on dates and do things together one on one. It keeps the romance alive and reminds me of our early years all over again. Stolen kisses, inside jokes, laughing together at something when we’re supposed to be serious. This is the stuff that my kind of love is made of!

How do you make this possible, especially if you have kids?

  1. Put it on the calendar. Once it’s on the calendar, it’s a priority! Make it one.

Put it in your calendar like you would put an actual appointment. Treat it like you would treat an appointment with a client – except your spouse is even more important! Time with your husband or wife is a worthy investment in your marriage and should be prioritized.2.

2. Have a group of reliable sitters at the ready.

Vary your sitters so you have options. We don’t like to put all of our eggs in one basket. That being said, we don’t just let anyone watch our boys. Typically it’s my mom, my mother-in-law and two reliable college age girls from church who work in the Sunday School program at our church. My boys love their sitters and are familiar with them. In the same way,

3. Don’t use your budget as an excuse.

It’s really easy to write off date night because it’s not in the budget. Trust me, been there before! However, date night can still be fun and free. There are a ton of resources and ideas available on Pinterest. Some of my favorite things to do:

  • Watch a movie: rent one through iTunes, watch for free on Netflix, TV. I have even borrowed movies from friends – talk about budget friendly!
  • During warm weather, lay a blanket in the backyard, put on the firepit: talk, listen to music, stargaze, ask silly questions.
  • Read together: call us dorks, we love to read books together. We pick out a book we both want to read and go through it chapter by chapter.
  • Game night: we don’t do this as often, but back in the day we would play board games and get really competitive. Scrabble and Bananagrams were favorites.
  • Park: Going to a park, walking the trails or riding bikes while having a conversation is relaxing and easy to do.
  • Free Events: Look up what’s free in your area and you would be surprised!

4. If you can’t go out, date night in.

I’ve already listed a few ideas/suggestions that have worked for us. Feel free to borrow one or suggest one in the comment section!

5. Swap babysitting services with another couple for date nights.

We are in a bracket where a lot of our friends have babies/toddlers the same age. This is something we haven’t done but would be willing to do! I think it’s a pretty easy way to score a date night and to add a couple to your babysitting catalog.

6. Push guilt aside.

I know a lot of parents suffer from this! I think mom’s especially feel this type of guilt. Parents who feel awful for doing something without their children. I am NOT that parent, but if you happen to be, then realize this: it’s okay to have a night of fun without your kiddos. It doesn’t make you a bad person. A relaxed, happy, set of parents are better parents for their children.

7. Make FUN the priority.

Don’t get worked up over what doesn’t go right: keep in mind the primary goal of date night with your spouse is to have fun and enjoy each other’s company. I remember the days of dating during high school and the college years. I could literally be sitting next to Jose doing nothing, but the fact that we were together was just so NICE. As adults, life has only gotten more hectic as each year passes. It’s a beautiful thing to have fun and be reminded of where it all began.

My husband planned this one. After an obsession with Heartland, he took me horseback riding because I fell in love with horses.

Sunday afternoon date.

This date night we planned in advance. We bought concert tickets as our Christmas gift in December but the actual concert wasn’t until April 1st.

Couples date night out. This was something planned about a month in advance which gave us an opportunity to plan a sitter and budget accordingly.

A day at the beach is fun, cheap, and my favorite!

Even though the pictures you see are pictures of us actually going out – there are plenty of times we stay in! I guess I just don’t take too many pictures of those times! Ha!

These are some of my suggestions but I would love to hear some of yours! What do you and your spouse do for date nights? How often do you try to make date nights happen? Comment below!

 

 

 

POTTY TRAINING UPDATE. Progress! Finally!

pottytrainingprogress

If you’ve been following my blog you’ve read this post and this post, where I bemoaned the difficulties of potty training and how I failed because I basically didn’t really try. Well, over the summer, my awesome neighbor offered to help me train them on her days off, which happened to be the week before they were going to start preschool. Since she works at a preschool and has experience, she had amazing tips and pointers and came over to help me train them. So we went to work.

The strategy was:

  1. Put their potties in a separate part of the house, away from the TV.
  2. Time them every five minutes and have them sit on the potty.
  3. While they are sitting on the potty, read them a book. Make the time that they’re sitting on it “fun” and something they can look forward to.
  4. Time them sitting on the potty for five minutes. Five minutes on, five minutes off. You can increase to ten minutes, fifteen minutes, half hour, etc. as you see they are getting the hang of it.
  5. Rewarded them with something they don’t typically get to eat – jelly beans.
  6. Let them run around the house naked in the meantime.
  7. Be consistent, don’t give up, be prepared for accidents.
  8. It’s okay if they don’t poop in the toilet right away, it takes time.

I give all credit to my neighbor and her encouragement and willingness to help! It really is awesome having another set of hands and just someone to encourage you when you feel like giving up. She was great.

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We are a long way from where we started in the best way. I would say one is pretty much totally potty trained and the other is 85% there!  THIS MAKES ME FEEL LIKE WE ARE GROWING IN LEAPS AND BOUNDS. And I’m so proud, thrilled, emotional because they’re just not babies anymore. One wears pull-ups but stays dry the majority of the time, going on the potty while the other is in his underwear now all of the time. Hooray!

The thing with having twins is that they encouraged each other! This helped and I think going to pre-school and watching all of the other kids do it pushed them forward in a big way.

This whole potty-training thing is a journey! It is imperfect, messy, crazy…but we are well on our way!

My encouragement to you:

  1. Don’t give up like I did right away.
  2. Don’t be discouraged.
  3. Be persistent, steady, consistent.
  4. Dedicate several days, or a week to this completely.
  5. Realize, they will go eventually. Don’t be hard on yourself.

These are the things I wish I told myself! But I’m really thankful that I had someone to tell me these things! But we have progressed, and for that I am proud!

 

 

National Infertility Awareness Week!

Start ASking

Hi beautiful people! I have decided to share my blog with my friends, family, and people I know. For years I have blogged without sharing it with too many people that I knew in real life. This blog started in 2012 as a place I could write about my thoughts and share things I was scared to really say out loud when it came to our struggles with infertility. When I found out we had fertility issues, I didn’t feel like I could talk to a lot of people about it for different reasons. Plus, it’s not exactly easy dinner conversation: “Pass me the bread, oh yeah I’m having trouble having a baby…” What I DID feel like I could do was write about it. So that’s what I did. In blogging I found a really amazing community of people who were in the same shoes. A great deal who had made it to the other side and had given me hope. Some, who to this day, are still struggling to conceive. Ultimately, it ended up being an amazing outlet to share and to listen.

I want to share my blog because when I look back at where we were in 2012 and what we went through to have a family, all I can do is be filled with gratitude and awe at where we are today. And guess what? I take literally ZERO credit for it. It’s all God. Without Him, we wouldn’t be where we are today. Yes, we didn’t go through the typical process people go through to have a baby. I’m thankful for how far we have come in the medical world and through science. I’m grateful that God uses doctors, nurses, scientists, and all kinds of awesome people to make things happen. That’s just how good He is. So today what I want to offer others is this:

HOPE.

I share my blog because I believe there is hope for anyone who is dealing with infertility. Anyone who is walking this journey. It can be lonely, murky, unfamiliar, and altogether terrifying. I can tell you this – everything we went through shaped us and molded us in such a unique way. I learned to face fear head on. I learned not to be consumed with anxiety and worry. I learned that I had a choice, I could choose sorrow and depression OR I could choose hope and joy, even when it was seemingly impossible to do so. I thought it would be really cool to share my blog during National Infertility Awareness week.

This week is National Infertility Awareness week.

The definition of infertility is:

 …the inability to conceive after one year of unprotected intercourse (six months if the woman is over age 35) or the inability to carry a pregnancy to live birth. 

1 in 8 couples struggles with infertility. There is an excellent chance that someone around you is struggling with it or knows someone who is. It’s much more common than people realize.

The theme for National Infertility Awareness Week is #StartAsking. The foundation wants people to #StartAsking:

  • Employers for insurance coverage.
  • Your lawmakers and legislators to support issues important to the infertility community.
  • Friends and family to support you.
  • The media to cover infertility and the real challenges we all face.
  • Those who have resolved their infertility to stay involved.
  • OB/GYN or healthcare provider to talk about YOUR reproductive health.
  • For affordable care for treatment of a disease (all taken directly from resolve.org – edited).

I am going to encourage you to #StartPraying in addition to asking. Pray for your friends and family members who are walking through this. Encourage them. Let them know you are there for them. Pray for the wisdom to be there for them in a way that is helpful, encouraging, and uplifting.

And most importantly, hold on to hope.

 

Potty Training Fail.

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*To the tune of ‘Fresh-Prince of Bel-Air’*

“And this is the story all about how

I tried to potty train my twins but failed, Oh Wow…*

Okay, so I’ll stick to not trying to rap. This week I was on my spring break from school. Can I even count the ways it was glorious? I go back to work tomorrow but so enjoyed hanging out with my babies! Summer, come please. Thanks.

That being said, I made a decision that I was going to potty train my boys during spring break. I had a week to do it and I kept telling myself and my friends. I was kind of determined. A few days passed into spring break and I forgot about it. Tuesday came around and I thought to myself, “Crap. I need to potty train these guys!” So I did what I do best. I went to Target with my husband and filled up the cart with loads of essentials.

Potty training pants? Check.

Cute “Cars” underwear? Check.

Other nonessential pointless items that make their way into my cart EVERY SINGLE TIME? Check.

Sheer determination to potty train no matter what? I think I left that at Starbucks when I was ordering my Frappucino.

This is how it went:

I woke up the next morning and “prepped” by looking up things on Pinterest and what not. Most moms research and read up on this for awhile. This mom talked to friends and other people, looked up a few articles, skimmed read them, and got ready. My husband was working so I was on my own. I was psyched about how much I was going to accomplish and how this was going to be the beginning of our potty training journey. So I woke up, took them from their cribs (you can read about my fear of toddler beds here) and sat them on the potty.

Me: Okay, now pee!

Them: Cars! Put on Cars Movie!

Me: Okay, but sit and pee while you watch (no pressure right?)

I then proceeded to stare at them and wait. They grew bored sitting on the toilet and tried to wander off. I grew bored watching and decided to use the bathroom. When I came back, one had grabbed their potty and was walking around with it. But wait, there was something inside! I excitedly texted my husband about the success we were reaching and bragging about my amazing potty training abilities. I tried to show my excitement by trying to engage the boys in high-fives but they weren’t too interested. Three hours later and several pee puddles on the floor later, I texted him a new message:

“This is hard. I quit. I think it would be easier with you here. I’ll try again in the summer.”

And THAT my friends, is how NOT to potty train. 🙂

We will revisit you soon potty. This won’t be the last of us.

I know I didn’t really give potty training a true try and I’m okay with that. We had a family emergency this week that took a toll on us in every way. We are still recovering from that even now. I also think one twin is ready and the other is not. So I may try to do one for now and wait a bit for my other little guy. Who knows?! Either way, it’ll happen before preschool in September. I hope! Ha!

 

 

 

Saturday fun with my boys on a budget.

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We are currently on Day 5 of our spending freeze.

I was nervous about going into the weekend, because it’s REALLY easy to spend money on the weekend. Fries from Chick-Fil-A for the boys, Starbucks for mommy and daddy, a pretzel at the mall, a stop here, a stop there. It all adds up. However, spending is not in the budget his week.

But fun can STILL be had on the weekend without spending a penny. And I have the proof.

I wanted to do something that was outside of our normal Saturday routine and the thought popped into my head – why not the library? Our local library has an amazing children’s section and is very toddler-friendly. We went over the summer sometimes for the library reading time which we abandoned because it became toddler chaos time. I knew that Micah would do better with this trip because he can stay quiet and is pretty relaxed. Josiah is quite the opposite so my husband and I decided to do our own things with each boy for the time being. Off to the library I went with Micah. WE HAD A BLAST! Micah loved exploring the library, reading books with me, and was amazing even when I took super long browsing in the adults section. He plopped himself down next to me and just hung out. When he was bored, he started to race up and down the aisle. I let him! He was quiet, having fun, and wasn’t bothering anyone. On top of that, it was “Bring Your Child to the Library Day” so we ended up with a free book to keep! After over an hour, we left the library and headed home in time for naptime. It was an awesome morning!

Josiah woke up from his nap first and since he didn’t come up with us (he went upstairs to the place we keep our instruments and was able to jam out!) I read him the books we picked out for him and Micah!

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When Micah woke up, we decided to take the boys to the park! It’s not far from our house and despite the fact that it was cold today, we thought it would be good to get them out of the house. We had such a good time, even if it was cold.

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So while I am, in fact, quite the opposite of an expert in anything, these are the things we like to do when we don’t want to spend money and it’s cold.

1. We visit the local library. 

Just going to the library today reminded me of how much of a treasure it is and it’s FREE. You can rent movies, take out books, go to the library and read books without taking them out at all (if you just don’t want to), sign your toddlers up for reading programs or activities, and even put them on computers. Each library is different, so find out what your local library offers. Our library offers online renewal, so this means if I want to keep the books we borrowed longer I can do it easily.

2. We go to our local park.

I know for the majority of us it’s pretty cold! Yet, most toddlers need that outside time every day or at least a few times a week. I know my boys are absolutely no exception to that. They love it and they are able to release their energy. In addition, it’s an excellent sensory experience as well. We only stayed out for thirty to forty minutes, but we felt as refreshed as our boys did. Don’t be afraid of messiness either. Once the boys discovered the mud and puddles, they jumped in them and came home a wreck. We just threw them in the bath and called it a day.

3. We paint or do arts and crafts.

My little guys love arts and crafts. They love to finger paint the most. We strip them down to their skivvies, lay out a tarp or an old sheet, and let them have at it. They love it so much and it’s soooo messy. We block off the living room with the gate and literally let them go for it. By the end, they have paint everywhere. We put them in the bath and again, call it a day.

4. We arrange a play date with someone close by.

My aunt’s house is every child’s heaven. She’s a proud grandmother and has transformed her home into a very child-friendly environment. You know when you go to someone’s house whose home is completely child-friendly and you feel relief? You feel comforted in the chaos that surrounds you, thinking, ‘Well, my children can’t make it any worse…’ if you are that person – I love you. These are the kinds of homes I like to be in when I’m with my boys. There are Saturdays we head over and join the happy chaos. For free.

5. We take a field trip. To somewhere that’s restricted in the house.

There are some spots in the house that the boys don’t get to go to very often. That being said, when I have absolutely nothing else to do with them and we are all about to go bonkers, I break down the gates and let them go for it. A going upstairs to our music area and playing with all of the instruments or just running around.

6. We go on a mall walk.

We go to the mall without strollers, hold their hands, and walk them around the mall. We point out things, talk to them, create conversation about what’s going on around us, and so forth. They actually love this one. We let them climb on the mall rides or ride them. Most malls have toddler play areas. My advice is if you’re going to do this one, don’t go at a busy time. Our favorite time is right when the mall opens, or during a night of the week that’s completely dead.

These are the lame simple things we do when we are being cheapskates frugal. They’re not profound in the least. But they put a smile on the faces of my two favorite people in the universe.

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And they’re free.

What do you do with your little ones when you’re on a budget but want to have some fun? Particularly when it’s cold outside?