planning babies - a huggies post

I've been asked by BlogHer and Huggies to take some walks down memory lane and explore some (what I think will be) FUN subjects about babies and having them and getting ready for them and all the fun stuff that goes with THEM! I volunteered for this series for selfish reasons. I think it will be a great way to document some thoughts and feelings that maybe I haven't before but should have. I hope you will enjoy them, too!

When we got pregnant with Aaron it was on purpose. Moses was at a good age, independent enough to do a lot on his own, but still young enough that we felt he would be most adaptable to having a brother around. Part of our reasoning in the age spacing of our kids was that we wanted the boys to grow up as friends, not too far apart in age that they couldn't relate but close enough that there would be a great span of time where they could share, play and get along.

For the most part, it's all going to plan. The boys are usually great friends and have hours where they get lost in each others imaginary worlds. We feel like this connection is a partial result of how we prepared Moses for Aaron's arrival.

Our first preparation, as I've mentioned, was timing. We felt like Moses, almost two when I got pregnant, would be ready for a little brother nine months later. We felt like he was mature enough to talk about what would be happening, what to expect, etc. We also wanted him young enough to feel like his brother has always been part of his life.

Next, we talked about Aaron all through my pregnancy. We called him by name and as I began to show talked to Moses about the baby that was growing inside my tummy. By the end of my pregnancy with Aaron, Moses talked about him on a regular basis.

We took Moses shopping to buy things for the baby, we read books by his favorite characters (ie. the Berenstain bears) about a baby coming into the family, we talked and talked about as much as we thought his little self could handle.

We also made sure that before, during and after Moses got plenty of attention from both Doug and I. We took him on dates with just mom or just dad, we did not run immediately to a crying baby but did our best to let Moses feel like he was still important to us, which he of course was and is.

I think the biggest difference maker was communication. We informed him as much as we could, included him where appropriate and still to this day we don't make them compete for our attention and love. We try to meet both boys where there are and for who they are. It seems to have gone a long way for them forming a life long friendship.

How about you? How did you prepare older siblings for a new baby?
Check out the Huggies Mommy Answers Facebook app and find more posts from bloggers sharing their experiences of motherhood on the Huggies page on

20 minute crafter - chapstick cozy - {five minute edition}

Need to make a bunch of gifts for not much and in a hurry?  This craft costs pennies to make, uses scraps of fabric and takes less than five minutes to make.  Package them cutely and they would make great teacher, neighbor, secret santa gifts and more. :) Wanna make some? 
You need two pieces of heavy weight fabric measuring 2in by 9in each.  If you want to use quilting cotton just strengthen them by adding a layer of heavy weight iron on interfacing OK?  You will also need a d-ring in 2in size (search etsy for "d-ring").  
With the right sides together sew along three sides of your pieces using 1/4in seam.  Clip the corners. 
Turn right side out, push out corners using scissors or chop stick, press with iron, tucking in the un-sewn end by about 1/4in but not sewing closed yet.  
Fold up closed end about 2 1/2in.  Press with an iron. 
Sewing as close to the edge as you can (I think I used about 1/8in) sew along the three sides as shown. 
Fold the open end down an inch.  Press with an iron.  
Slide d-ring into place and using your machine sew along the open edge.  
Add your favorite brand of chapstick and you've got a great little gift in less than five minutes! Keeps your chapstick handy on your keys and keeps you from having to dig around in your purse!  :)

what i made for monday - surpise cookies

I actually made these a couple weeks ago...according to Doug's coworkers these made the top three list of things I've made for them.  So...I'll let that speak for itself.  Make these...they're great! 

Surprise Cookies
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter, room temp
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
12 large marshmallows, cut in half horizontally or three mini marshmallows

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt.

Cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. 
Add egg, milk, and vanilla. 
Add reserved flour mixture; mix on low speed until combined.

Using a tablespoon or 1 3/4-inch ice cream scoop, drop dough onto un-greased baking sheets, about 2 inches apart. Bake until cookies begin to spread and become firm, 10 to 12 minutes.

Remove from oven, and place marshmallows, in the center of each cookie, pressing down. Return to oven, and continue baking until marshmallows begin to melt, 2 to 2 1/2 minutes. Place cookies on cooling rack and allow to cool completely before next step.

Using about a 1 tablespoon of frosting cover each marshmallow.  Once frosting is set, store in a cool place for 3-5 days.

Recipe via Martha!

what I made for Monday - Salted Caramel Cupcakes

Oh my word...the baking world just keeps getting better and better.

I could eat this frosting by the spoonful.  By itself.  Don't judge.

Now it does take a little bit of work.  First you'll have to go make my salted caramel sauce.

Really it's worth it.  So go do that, then come back to this.  The bonus is that you'll have more caramel than you need for this recipe and just think of the things you can do with the it with a spoon, ice cream topping, the spoon thing,  etc...

So once you have the sauce made...make the frosting.  Are you ready?

Salted Caramel Frosting
3/4 cup salted butter (room temp)
1/4 cup salted caramel
3 cups powdered sugar
2-3 tbls whipping cream

Using your mixer whip butter and caramel together, slowly add sugar until combined, add whipping cream one tablespoon at a time until frosting reaches good spreading texture.

Enjoy.  By the spoonful.  Or on a cupcake.  Whatever.

If you're going to put it on cupcakes put it on ones using my favorite recipe.

Moses, the string and the door knob.

Moses woke up this morning with a very loose tooth and the memory that my friend Pam had told him about tying a string to his tooth and then to a door knob... Guess what we did before school this morning? 

Tying a string to a tooth that tiny is tricky business...
I must have said a million times, "Are you really sure you want to do this?".  
Can you tell hoho was more than willing to slam that door? 
And it worked!!! 
Moses dubbed this "The best morning ever!!".  

Now we're all ready to fill out our paperwork for the tooth fairy to come tonight! 

What's the going rate in your house?

my little Gnomie. {how to DIY a gnome costume}

Since my boys were born just about, every year I've asked them if they wanted to be a gnome for trick or treat time and every year I got shot down...until this year.  I asked Aaron what he wanted to be and he said "I don't know, you pick"...yesssss!  I got to work!
The best part is that if you really want could get away with only making the beard...but I bet with some looking you could find one of those if you wanted.  I just knew that I wanted to spend as little as possible.  
The shirt and pants, I found at Target and can be used like normal clothes after trick or treating. 
The flower is a clip on and the belt is just some vinyl and velcro.  You could totally find a belt to use without making it. 

I made the beard with some fur fabric and felt but you could use just felt to make it easy.

For the boots I just spray painted some old rain boots black. 

The hat is just some felt and the stiffest iron on interfacing I could find.  
Simple, easy and most of all inexpensive.  Most everything can be re-used.  Clothes can be worn and the extra items will be added to our dress up bins.

And there you have the cutest gnome on the block! :)

No place like home for the holidays...a huggies post

I've been asked by BlogHer and Huggies to take some walks down memory lane and explore some (what I think will be) FUN subjects about babies and having them and getting ready for them and all the fun stuff that goes with THEM! I volunteered for this series for selfish reasons. I think it will be a great way to document some thoughts and feelings that maybe I haven't before but should have. I hope you will enjoy them, too!

What is it about the combination of having a new baby and it being the holidays that gives everyone in your life permission to suddenly tell you what to do, how to do it and where to be for each and every minute of a holiday? I know that when Moses was born there was great assumption born with him. Certain family members had already planned out where we would be for both Christmas and Thanksgiving, when sleepovers would occur, how we would handle Santa and where we would wake up on Christmas morning.

The truth is, when it comes down to it, if you want to have an enjoyable holiday season you have to learn one thing: how to say no.

I mentioned before that you and your spouse need to discuss NOW before it gets crazy how you, as the nuclear family unit, want to spent the holidays. If you want to spend it at home, great! Know that now so you can inform those who might be expecting you to do otherwise. Want to state hop all over? Great! Let the people you plan to visit know so that they can be better prepared to host a young infant.

The important thing is to keep the important things the important things. It doesn't matter if your mother is happy with you if you husband isn't. The holidays are not the time for you to revert back to middle school and play the baby of the family at your parents' house; now is the time to establish traditions for YOUR baby. By talking out your plans with your spouse it will be easier on you to let others know why you won't be at their home Christmas morning. Your come back can start with "Well, Doug and I have discussed it and decided that..." It let's people know that you have already made a choice.

I'm not saying people will be happy with you going off and making plans with your new baby and all that don't include them. If people are anxious to see your new little one, make alternate plans that don't fall on a day that is important to you and your husband, especially if you have decided together to spend Christmas or Thanksgiving alone. The most important thing is to stick to the plans you and your husband have decided on together and don't back each other into corners based on family members being unhappy with your choices.

Knowing what will make you happiest during the holidays starts with knowing what kind of baby you that will be OK schedule-wise with short day trips, guests coming to you or long out of state journeys. Each baby is different and some don't care where they lay their heads...others only want home. Know the workings of your little one and you can start to plan from there.

Just keep in mind, that while your family may push for your time around the holidays it's your spouse and children who you have to live with year round. You don't want them to build memories over mom and dad working to make everyone happy but themselves. It's OK to put your family first.
Check out the Huggies Mommy Answers Facebook app and find more posts from bloggers sharing their experiences of motherhood on the Huggies page on

Where is God when bad things happen?

Some say that if God is real then bad things shouldn't happen.  I say the existence of bad things proves that God is real.

If we lived in a world where everything was perfect, where there was no war or dishonesty, where no one was ever wronged, babies never died before they were born, where marriages stayed strong forever, no one ever lied, cheated or stole...where you could count on one another to pull their own load and help you when you needed it...then what would be the point of God?  If we could pull off perfect on our own, there would be no need for a savior.  A rescuer.  A helper or an intercessor.   

Problems exist to remind us of why we need God in the first place.  If no one was ever sick, why would we need a healer?  If no one ever got lost, why would we need a shepherd?

God's grace is in every bad situation, whispering to us our need to run to Him.  Nothing in this world can sooth our savage hearts like the one who created it in the first place.

Speaking from my own experiences...which are just as dark and deep as the next persons...I have found no easier place to cling to Jesus than in the dark.  There has been no where else I want to run in times of trouble than straight to the one place I know can bring me peace.

If you are alone in the dark, it's by choice.

Since we have moved home, life has been pretty amazing.  Moving home was a lot like that scene in "The Wizard of Oz" where Dorothy steps out of black and white and into color.  Everything seems bright and happy here.  Minor issues remain minor, we spend excessive time with each other and family, Doug has off for every single holiday, vacation days are allowed and he has nearly every weekend off.

Life is about as good as I could ever imagine it to be.  But even here in this place of technicolor wonder there are challenges.  Ways the Lord nudges us to remind us of our need for him.  Even here bad exists.  Even here we are hurt and struggle at times.  All that to say that even if you are exactly where you belong, doing just what you feel you are supposed to, even there in that perfect place, bad will exist.  You can't escape it you can only choose to use it.

Use it to run to Him.  Use it as a tool for sharpening your faith.  Use it as a longing for Heaven and His presence.  Use it as a way to cling to the only person who can and will one day diminish bad forever.   

Bad is not an absence of His presence but the ultimate reminder of our need for a Savior.

what i made for Monday - pumpkin whoopie pies!

Look at me almost blogging on a regular basis!  You'd never know that I have an order of 175 cupcakes that need to be filled, trying to work on hohos, a huge project that will span all of November, writing jobs, orders, etc.  :) Not to mention that my family wants dinner EVERY night and breakfast EVERY morning.  The nerve!

But I told you I was working on balance, and this blog is an important part of my life.  Since you have to feed the things you love, here I am trying to work on pouring more into here. :)

For now, did you know that you can access all the "What I made for Monday posts" by clicking on the photo over to the right that says WIMFM? :) You can...need some inspiration just click on over!

This week I went with something seasonal and Fallish...pumpkin spice (I could just stop right there right?) whoopie pies.  Delightful and yummy and the cream cheese frosting is to die for!  You could just make that and eat it by the spoonful and I would never judge you for it.

Want to make some?

Pumpkin Pie Whoopie Pies

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup solid pack pumpkin (from the can)
1/2 cup buttermilk

Combine dry ingredients in an appropriate sized bowl.  In a large bowl beat butter and sugar together.  Once blended add eggs one at a time.

Add flour mixture and buttermilk/pumpkin to the sugar mixture by altering between the two you are adding.

Spray a whoopie pan with non-stick spray. (You can get one at Michael's for about $5 with a coupon.  Don't waste your money on the seasonal Fall was a pain in the b u t t to use.)  Fill each cavity about half way and bake in a 350 oven for about 7-9 minutes or until pies bounce back when you touch them (or a clean toothpick comes out).

Fill with this amazing filling when cooled:

Cream cheese whoopie pie filling
8oz cream cheese (room temp)
1/2 cup confectioners sugar
1/2tsp of vanilla

This recipe makes about 15 total pies.

Adapted from the recipe via Wilton.

baby and the holidays - a huggies post

I've been asked by BlogHer and Huggies to take some walks down memory lane and explore some (what I think will be) FUN subjects about babies and having them and getting ready for them and all the fun stuff that goes with THEM! I volunteered for this series for selfish reasons. I think it will be a great way to document some thoughts and feelings that maybe I haven't before but should have. I hope you will enjoy them, too!

Like it or not, the holidays are upon us. For anyone and everyone, that means extra social events, more family visits, more shopping, more crazy and more chaos. It may seem impossible to keep a schedule intact for your baby over the next couple of months, but I'm here to tell you, where there's a will, there's a way.

All babies aside, it's just not healthy for anyone to go all out during the holidays. Who has ever spent a holiday season over committed and come out stress free on the other side? No one I know. Now that you have that little one, it's the perfect reason to slow down this holiday season. This is a season of JOY and that will be hard to come by if you throw out your baby's schedule to attend every party, bake every cookie and sing every carol.

Can you still have a rich and enjoyable holiday experience? Yes!

Step one is to sit and think NOW about what is important to you during the holidays. Is it time at home baking and watching Christmas movies? Is it your family holiday party? Is it making all of your holiday gifts? Christmas eve dinner or your child's Christmas school program? It's important to think of what your favorite things are NOW so you can have a plan in place to make sure you can enjoy them. With an infant in tow you have to keep in mind what kind of baby you have...if he or she is happy to sleep in the car seat then you will have a little more flexibility than if they will only sleep in the crib. Knowing in advance which holiday events are important to you goes a long way with planning your baby's schedule and knowing when and if you will need a sitter or which events you will have to sit out on.

Step two is to come to terms with the fact that you cannot please everyone. It never fails that someone will be disappointed with what you choose to do or not do and that has to be OK with you. In our house, Doug and I put our family (the four of us) first and make our holiday plans around that. For us, it's important to be in our house Christmas morning so we try to make other plans around the holidays to see family at other times. Chances are, with a new baby, everyone will expect you bright and early at their house Christmas morning or Thanksgiving day. Know what you and your spouse want to do with this time and support each other in keeping that commitment. Don't give in to the pressure to please others and be everywhere at once.

Step three...keep in mind that in a couple of weeks, a little disruption to a schedule won't matter at all. Babies are very resilient and if you are good to keep them on schedule, then they are good to bounce back when that schedule must be a little more flexible. I remember more than once stressing over an event and coming out on the other side wondering why I was so stressed out in the first place.

Above all, enjoy this first Christmas season with your new baby! Be sure to take lots of photos, relax and enjoy the little things!

Be sure you read up on all my other Huggies posts HERE! There's some good stuff in there!
Check out the Huggies Mommy Answers Facebook app!
Find more posts from bloggers sharing their experiences of motherhood on the Huggies page on

Moses is six! Virginia Tech party!

Moses is six!  He said that the day of his party was the best day of his life, so I am counting that as a success! :) It's amazing how fast time flies...but if you are a parent, you know this, so I won't rub it in. 
I made cupcakes for him to share with his class...
...super simple to make but a cute and impressive result. 
I also sent along some bagged cookies that went along with our football theme...also super simple to make!

For the cake I used a Wilton football helmet pan...I wasn't sure I loved it at first but in the end the birthday boy was thrilled so that erased any doubt I had.

We kept gifts to the minimum.  Three gifts is our standard number for events and that seems to be just enough. 
We served simple snacks and cake.  He ended up inviting four boys from his class and we just mailed them invites.  We also talked with him about not talking about his party at school and that seemed to work well.  

For the garland I cut tissue paper into 1in by 6-7in strips and bunched and sewed them together...I love the result.  Balloons are just strung together with needle and thread.  
This mix is addicting...pumpkins, bugles, M&M's, peanuts and candy corn.  

We gave out simple favors made up of goodies from the dollar section, minus the lollipops. 

We also enjoyed our new corn hole set...made by yours truly.  
It's sure to get lots of use. 

Moses is such a great kid.  He's happy and sensitive, his teachers love him and trust him with responsibilities.  He is loving and protective with others who are smaller than him (most of the time).  We regularly hear great things about him from others, just enough to encourage us in this crazy trip known as parenthood. We love him and can't wait to see what he does with all of his awesomeness. :)  
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