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photo every hour | road trip

I had a last minute client meeting scheduled yesterday morning in houston, so on monday afternoon while the twins stayed with their bb and papa, Jordan and Baker tagged along as we made our way south for a quick road trip... and by quick I mean like twenty-four hours:) 

(good night!)


we eat | one pot sausage + meatball ziti

second week in a row for pasta.  we haven't eaten this much pasta since before I got pregnant with Baker baby.  a few weeks back the bestie sent me a link for a delicious one-pot pasta meal she made in a snap.  in a snap??  um, yes.  I legit had one pan to clean at the end of this meal.  thats what I'm talking about!  now that Baker is eating food- the addition of a highchair to hose down in the evenings just adds to the post-dinner chaos and clean up.. so having the least amount of dishes to clean when its all said and done is optimal.   
this meal did not disappoint!  I ate it for breakfast the next day. 
yes.  yes I did.
 one-pot sausage + meatball ziti
1 pound ground Italian sausage (I used just one roll)
12 ounce package fully cooked chicken meatballs 
1 (15 ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 (15 ounce) can fire roasted diced tomatoes
1 (15 ounce) can tomato sauce
2 tsp olive oil
6 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves (add it at the end)
1/2 tsp dried oregano
3 cups water
16 ounces ziti
1cup half and half or heavy cream
1 cup fresh Parmesan cheese
ground black pepper + salt to taste as needed
Add olive oil to a deep, 12-inch or larger skillet over medium heat. Add sausage cook until browned, about 3-5 minutes. Add the garlic and crushed red pepper flakes to the pan and cook for 1-2 minutes. Add the meatballs, diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, basil and oregano. Stir well. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 5-10 minutes.
Add the water and dry pasta. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat to a low boil and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10-15 minutes or until noodles are tender.
Stir in the half and half, and parmesan cheese and season with salt and pepper to taste.
Serve with additional parmesan sprinkles over top. 
 the original recipe called for the ziti to be sprinkled with mozzarella cheese and then baked for a handful of minutes to melt, but by the time we have everyone wrangled to the dinner table- I skipped that additional step and served it straight off the stove.  
one tip I might add is to use really good parmesan cheese.  I used to watch barefoot contessa with Ina Garten on the food network and couldn't stand it when she would talk about 'good olive oil' or 'really good parmesan cheese'. well, what is the difference, Ina? 
as I've become more seasoned in the kitchen- it does make a huge difference.  I caught myself saying this to a girlfriend the other day and realized that I can relate to you, Ina.  no more eye rolling from me when you talk about those good essential ingredients.
so.  that being said.. skip the $1.50 bag of parmesan hanging next to the velveeta and peruse the fancy cheese selection in your store for good parmesan cheese.  a favorite in my local grocery store is six bucks.  
worth every penny and I use in in everything!

most likely you have a lot (or all) of these ingredients already in your pantry- 
so.. whats for dinner tonight? 
you don't even have to ask!


the end of an era + a day with four kids

37 and 1/2 years.  papa retired from the fire department on Saturday and boy was he loved, respected, honored, and totally considered a man to look up to.  when a guy retires from the fire department- there is a ceremony.  there is the flag presentation.. and there are lots of people to send off the retiree into the best years of his life:)  we got to witness all this over the weekend and we couldnt be more proud of our papa.  
I have decided that the effort it takes to get a family photo of six adults and five babes under three to even look in the general direction is far less than realistic.
and thats okay. 
 these guys.  I've introduced them in a few past blog posts, but there are no greater family bonds than that of sharing blood AND the brotherhood.
aldon (nephew) + brian (nephew) + papa roy (patriarch) + jordan (son) + josh (nephew)
they all wore their 'dress blues' per the request of Roy for his retirement party- and they look sharp!
the final lowering and the presentation of the flag.  Roy asked if Jordan could be the one to present the flag to him- and you could have heard a pin drop.  the station hosting this party was actually Jordan's station- on one of the busiest streets of the city.. and you couldnt be bothered with a single car driving by.  It was awesomely honorable to be able to witness such a thing.  the babes werent totally sure what was going on at the moment and Jo ran out to stand next to her daddy while the flag was lowered and folded by the IFD honor guard. 

the other part of our day.. G Man!  His mama was busy hosting a shower for her little brother who is set to get married over Easter weekend- so we were on baby duty while she was on her A game.  although he was outnumbered, he was the perfect little tagalong!  
 Baker was happy as a clam to be with her boyfrann.  
ya'll.  this is a thing.  
so get ready for years of #bakerlovesgrayson.
 the big girls ran around like crazy kiddos- they love love love the fire station and everything about it and have spent plenty of time there and know the ropes.  the first thing they asked for when we walked in was "can I have some of dada's cookies?'
cookies at the fire station are like a no brainer.
but, they both quickly realized that the very best part about any retirement celebration..
the cake.  
 Baker was a doll baby.  passed around by all the firemen and their wives that always make me beet red in the face when they tell me that they LOVE to follow us on Facebook.  
..including this guy right here.. Jordan's captain.  the twins love Wade and now Baker is a big fan, too! 
 after the fire station celebration we headed out for dinner with all the close family and friends to keep the party going.  I snapped a quick pic to document the baby explosion in our reasonably sized car that all of the sudden felt incredibly tiny.  
 after a long day, the babes were zonked.  we came home and put the big girls right to bed and then tackled the bed time routines of a couple of teeny 6 month olds together before Auntie came to pick up Grayson after her party had ended.
way too much cute right there.
 s u n d a y
after such a busy satruday, sunday morning was slow moving.  we played hooky from church and made pancakes instead. 
Baker was a fan!
we attempted for an early afternoon nap, but it was a no-go.. so we loaded up and made a sam's run for the essentials like fruity pebbles + diaper genie refills in bulk.  the babes enjoyed the snacks.  I was delivered with an entire sample of greek yogurt on my boots and my half drank caffeine free diet coke Jolie slurped down when I wasn't looking.
these kids.
 on our way home we made a pit stop at the park to let them run off some steam..
 and the sweetest little bunny to play her baby heart out.  she loves being outside- and everything is hilarious right she chuckled (literally) for two hours.
 then it was home for a hearty sunday dinner!
sunday dinner is like the best meal of the week.  I cant wait to share this one with you.. its made in its entirety in that one single pan.

 I need a weekend for my weekend.  and an ice pack for my right bicep because it is SO SORE from carrying around a baby (or two) for hours. 
happy monday to you!! 


hey hey friday

I've never been so excited to see the weekend.  but this week was pretty good!  
Here's a little recap of my favorite moments from the last few days..
Monday I worked from home and took a break mid-day to get the babes out the house for a bit at the park.  It was c o l d outside and I didn't even realize it before we got there, but in the sun it was actually really nice.  me and B sat on a blanket while parker and jolie played with some of the other kiddos there.  being outside is definitely among her favorite places to be!
also.. we have recently fallen in love with these pacis - and my child that didn't care a single thing about them before really loves them these days.
also.. my sweatshirt is another FAV and I haven't taken it off since it arrived on my doorstep.  I ordered up from my usual size and its still pretty fitted.
you can also find baker's bow here and onesie here- btw.. its the most amazing onesies you'll every buy.
 wednesday I had work meetings including a lunch with one of my clients.  I snapped a quick selfie in the fancy bathroom because I needed to document my first wear of the most amazing jacket I own.  its the perfect layer for when its not freezing but too chilly for just a single layer.  its a pretty great transitional piece into spring.
also- this dress via groopdealz (it has pockets!!)  and those suede wedge boots have quickly become a staple in my winter wardrobe.   
 one word: avocado.
BLW is going pretty well.  Somedays she can house a banana or a handful of sweet potato cubes- and on this night she ate every bit of 1/4 of an avocado, and others she's not super interested.  
Taking it one day at a time:)
 we've had more sink baths in the last two weeks than ever in my three years of parenting.
this girl and her snuggles.  especially after bathtime when she is most delicious! 
 dad made our first fire of the season- and the twins wouldn't stop talking about 'the fire truck!!'
I also had my first failed attempt at using the crimper iron.  I ordered it earlier this week after we have been having fun with braiding the girls' hair and letting them sleep on it wet.  lets just say- and its terribly clear by the picture.. mama needs more practice.
 I've had dinner on the table almost every single night this week! 
steak + pasta + taco bowls ... that hasn't happened in a long time.  I was about to start on dinner last night and jordan mentioned pizza.
that was all she wrote.
so!  thats our week! we have a crazy busy weekend ahead and I cant wait to recap on monday!
happy friday:)


pearly whites | our first dentist visit

your child's first trip to the dentist should be between 1-2 years of age.
..actually- by the time they get their first tooth. make the appointment.  
NO LATER than their first birthday..
3 years old.  do not take them to the dentist until they are three years old.

yea.. this won't be that kind of post.  really I have no idea when I should have made the appointment.  their pediatrician started asking about their visits to the dentist at their one year check up.. and again at two years and again at three years.
listen.  life is busy! but we finally made it to the dentist!
let me tell you something abut my girls.  they couldnt be more different.  its funny because I often get  from strangers "are they twins?? but one is taller."  "oh, one of them is more shy..are they twins?"
why yes.  and you know what else?  they are two different kiddos that happened to share a womb:)
that being said- Parker is a little more outgoing/outspoken and more inclined to make the first move to try something new.  Jolie is more reserved.  so often she sits back and observes things going on around her before she makes the decision to participate/cooperate.  
Parker is impulsive and processes her reaction to a situation during or after the fact while Jo thinks it all through beforehand. 
I'm explaining all this because Jolie happened to be first in the appointment slot and it was HUGE for her to hop right up on the chair to get her teeth the once over.  I knew my sweet Jo Grace was SO nervous and a bit timid, but she did such a great job!    
 the entire time Jolie was getting her teeth cleaned Parker was bouncing off the walls and ready to get up in the chair.  I finally made her sit down and watch what was happening.. she kept saying- 
"good job, jowee!"  
Jolie on the other hand was stone still.  but with a little coaching from her sister and me, she started to feel a little more comfortable with the entire situation.

"MY TURN!"  
Parker was stoked.  I mean- way way wayyyy excited.  after watching Jolie going through all this, she knew the drill like she had done it one hundred times before.
 hands on your tummy, Parker!
open wide!
put your tongue back in your mouth..
Parker.  stop with the tongue.
once again- impulsing in the moment of excitement.  that Parker Jane is the spunky light of this world.
after getting their teeth cleaned and polished, the dentist came in to give them the once over.  everything looked great!  she was so impressed with how well they cooperated and sat still with no tears, no fits, and no complaints!
SO- while I don't have all the answers for how everyone should handle their child's first visit to the dentist, but I do know what worked well for us leading up to and during the visit.
A few tips for success..
choosing a dentist.  I REALLY love our dentist. this has been a long time coming for me to say this- I've had some serious dental work done over the last couple years and have found it hard to not be filled with anxiety about even going in for a cleaning.  she has always been so personable and fun- even before the twins ever met her.  always takes time to remember my girls' names, my profession, and asks how things are going in life.  whats even better is that she isn’t over-booked, so she's available and willing to sit down and talk to me about all of our different options, and what’s best for me and now my kids. one thing I will mention is that she is not a specialized pediatric dentist. her office love kiddos and do an awesome job from start to finish. there is even a kids play area while we wait, so while she isn't pediatric specific - she's got a great set up!
talk about it.  we talked about the dentist for about a week leading up to the appointment.  my girls love peppa pig and their happened to be a peppa pig goes to the dentist episode and we watched that a couple times and talked about it during and after.  I let the girls take turns being the dentist and being the patient on each other and then on mama.  they got a kick out of it!  whatever it takes to make them comfortable.
giving them praise.  Parker took the cake when it came to praising Jolie for her 'great job!' at the dentist.  I constantly cheered them on, coached them through it and gave them the biggest hug and 'great job' whisper in their ear to show them how proud I was of them.  
good hygiene at home. practicing good hygiene at home makes going to the dentist so much easier.  I talked it up that the doctor was going to brush their teeth - this was easy for them to understand because its something we do twice everyday!  healthy teeth and gums makes for an easy and quick appointment.

our first dental visit was a success! Parker was so disappointed she didnt get a shot (she asks for a shot every time we go to the doctor) and Jolie carried around her brand new purple toothbrush and matching spool of floss all day long. 


six month favorites

I still cant believe I have a six month old.  Half a year already gone?? I have a hankering feeling that this next six months will go by even quicker.  So much has changed since the last time I had a couple of 6 month olds.  I still love my go-to items when it comes to the littlest sister, but there are some fun new things we have enjoyed in this sixth month of her hyper speed life - and even Parker and Jolie are having fun with her 'new toys' in the house- even if they do far surpass the age appropriate 3 year old toddlers.  They are OBSESSED with the frozen teethers.  I'm not totally sure what thats all about, but it is kind of hilarious.

infantino discovery gem activity ball
We have a little basket in the corner of the living room that we keep all of Baker's toys in when we aren't playing with them.  During playtime, the twins love to bring their little sister a variety of things to keep busy with and they always reach for this toy.  It is really colorful, makes noise and just has a lot going on with it.  So- it easily has become Baker's favorite toy.  We also got this activity ball from Auntie for Christmas and love it, too!
ice gel teether
the name of these offer enough of a description.  These are great not only because they stay cold longer than the typical liquid filled teethers, but they have a removable cover so that little miss can hold it just out of the freezer or fridge without getting her hands cold.  The rubber cover maintains room temperature, so the frozen gel doesn't transfer.  Plus- they are so cute, right??
leapfrog my pal violet
Baker also got this from Auntie for Christmas, and it has quickly become her favorite toy!  I will say that since Baker has been sitting up more regularly and with more balance on her own this toy has become more fun to play with. She sits in front of it and can reach the places to touch and activates the dog to make noise easily.  When she was still on her belly she couldn't reach it or interact with it as well.
pond pet frog activity squeaker
this is the most random toy, but Baker LOVES it.  I got this little frog guy in my monthly bluum box and when I opened it up I thought.. now what am I supposed to do with this??  Finally I just decided to hang it from her activity jumperoo center and omg.  She fell in love!!  She will sit there and ignore all other light, sound, and music to play with this hanging frog.  She chews, bats, shakes, and admires herself in his mirror.  Kind of the best of all worlds in her baby mind.
dexbaby safe lift universal crib wedge
I had a lot of questions about the wedge we decided to put into Baker's crib at the beginning of this last month.  There was no research done or really even a second thought about what one we would buy- there was just one brand of wedge hanging out on the bottom of the shelf at Babies R Us- so there you go.  But truthfully, we have seen a difference in how soundly she sleeps at night since putting the wedge in her crib.  Poor girl has dealt with gas since she we teeny tiny and the wedge helps to relieve some of that pressure while sleeping on her tummy as well as keeps her elevated when on her back.  She has had a chronic cough for the last couple months and she definitely coughs less since being up on the wedge.  So many positives with this one.. we love it.
little remedies gas drops
speaking of gas.. we thought that Baker suffered from reflux because she would spit up for hours after eating- but never cried, fussed, or seemed it to bother her.  None of us were totally convinced she had reflux and were hesitant to start medication.  We had just about tried everything when I thought that maybe gas bubbles in her tummy were the culprit behind all this and causing her to spit up even up to two hours after eating.  Since starting the gas drops she rarely to never spits up at all.  
overnight diapers
we've been wearing the honest brand diapers since Baker was about 4 weeks old.  She had a terrible allergic reaction to Pampers and per the recommendation of our pediatrician we looked into changing diapers- and after borrowing a few diapers from a friend to try, her terribly raw rash looked so much better within just 24 hours. ANYway- honest just came out with their overnight diapers and this was a game changer!  my one complaint about the honest diapers was that Baker would wake up wet or damp in the regular diapers if she slept through the night- until now! We were literally about to start trying out other brands- sort of like a trial and error to see if Baker could tolerate another diaper option because of this reason alone.  I logged in and added a package of overnight diapers to my next shipment the moment the email announcing them hit my inbox and it has made a 100% difference.  
baby dha
since Baker is exclusively breast-fed we have been giving her a DHA supplement with 400IU of vitamin D.  She gets one little dropper a day, and ya'll- it is so gross!  But no matter the brand its all gross.  Once Baker starts consistently eating more nutrient rich foods outside of breastmilk we might be about to cut back on the supplements, but for now this one works just right.

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