Porch Plants

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So let me just say, I’ve tried container gardening before and lost interest and motivation quickly. Mostly because I just had more stuff going on in my life at the time than I could handle. Plus my tomato plants got destroyed by these awful insidious horned worms?! Anyway… I had literally no plans to ever try it again. Until my friend Jessica at Happiness Beyond Riches visited and pointed out how much sun we get on the back porch. That combined with the fact that I have a lot of expensive pots from the front yard that I’ve removed to landscape, I decided what the hell!

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Growing up my father always had a garden. He’s like the patron saint of plants I swear. He can grow anything, anywhere, and bigger than anyone else has ever seen. It’s ridiculous. Also ridiculously discouraging when you tend to just kill stuff. 😂 BUT I always grew up with the idea that you could grow your own food and I understood inherently how and I think it’s a very important thing to teach our children as we get further and further removed from the earth.

So long story short I let Izzy help me pick out some seeds and some seedlings and we got to work planting them.

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And I am happy to report I’m doing so much better this time! I don’t know if it’s what we picked to plant or where we live but omg. There are only two weeks between pictures of that cherry tomato plant (that I’ve named Enid 😉) and it’s already taller than Izzy! She is so excited to see them growing. Every morning we look through the window and she says “look mom! It’s growing!!” 😁

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Even my seeds are doing really well?! I’ve never successfully grown anything from a seed. But I’ve got basil started there on the right and parsley in the back. I’m seriously beyond excited. The other plants pictured were started from seedlings and are a sweet pepper in front and a spearmint plant behind it (for tea and mojitos. 😛)

Honestly I’m so thrilled with these herbs I am probably going to go make some dollar store containers and plant a bunch more. I know Izzy will just as pumped as me to plant some more. And that makes me even happier than the plants themselves. 😊

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Porch Playland

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Oh my goodness what a day we had yesterday! As I messaged my friend — I created a kid’s heaven and a mother’s hell. 😂 Thankfully I try to keep it in perspective and only give myself the kind of mess I can handle on that particular day and yesterday was a good day where I exuded patience and good humor. 😉

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This water and sand table were gifts from my grandma for the kids for Christmas and the weather has finally been consistently nice enough to set them up. I waited until the babies were napping and had Izzy set them up with me. Sometimes it’s better to let her have first dibs and explore a new toy before letting them all go full throttle on it. Then she gets her inspection out of the way and is excited to show something new to the babies. 😛

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They absolutely had so much fun. It kept them occupied for an hour and a half until I forced them to come in. I also had that slide from Izzy’s second birthday as well as a little table for them to sit at (not that they did much sitting — ha!) Somehow pretty much everything managed to get covered in sand, but it’s cheap and sweeps away easily enough. 😉 They got to knock down sand castles and splash each other and dig and slide — it was pretty much a perfect afternoon. And best of all? I didn’t have to leave the house. 😂

Izzy’s Speech Therapy Evaluation

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As her birthday was last month, Izzy had a four year check up. Alongside some other minor concerns, I brought up the possibility of speech therapy with the doctor because despite me mostly understanding her, it had become increasingly apparent to me the was not the case with everyone, including my own parents. Until now I figured, she was just a late talker, it didn’t matter, but as she’s facing pre-k in the fall I don’t want her to get discouraged or frustrated with learning if teachers struggle to figure out what she’s trying to say. Izzy is naturally very inquisitive and eager to please so I expect she’ll LOVE school — but then she also gets easily embarrassed and has a stubborn streak a mile long… (No thanks to her parents. 😛)

I knew she had a tongue tie but it never seemed to affect her so the pediatrician suggested we get a speech therapy evaluation first. And I’m very glad I did! The speech therapist immediately told me that was not her problem at all — in fact, her tongue is too often outside her teeth. 😂

Izzy was so great for the evaluator — saying everything requested eagerly. I just love her spirit! But the evaluator eventually told me that her speech issues were pervasive, pretty much all the blended sounds were affected (like “CH” and “SH”), and that she pretty much speaks on the level of a two and a half year old. Which, honestly, didn’t really bother me to learn — we were clearly in the right place and I know it’s no mark of intelligence. Heck, Korey has some pervasive speech issues from his childhood still and it’s clearly not affected him negatively even in a professional capacity. But it did prove to me something definitely needed done about it, where I was on the fence as to whether it was really even an issue. 😅

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Because we wanted to be sure insurance would pay for sessions at that location, we went ahead and scheduled an appointment the very next day. It was really cool to be able to sit behind a one-way mirror and watch the appointment (as seen above.) I had actually done this done in college, so I knew what to expect. Super helpful though that I can bring the babies with me and they can play in a separate room and not distract anyone. 😂

Izzy did perfectly at her appointment too! She is very eager to please and loves one on one attention. The therapist had them play games that encouraged the repetition of certain sounds — this time it was all about the “beach” and playing “catch.” Since we’re going to the beach this month and she loves to play catch it is easy for me to work on these concepts at home too. 😊

I can already tell that she’s being more conscientious of how she says the words — the trick is trying not to make her feel too self-conscious. Personally I know that I shut down when I’m embarrassed and she is similar so I try not to call her out on it all the time, especially not in public.

Our next appointment isn’t until the middle of the month but I’m excited to see how her speech slowly starts changing. And to see her not have to repeat herself a thousand times to kids on the playground any more!

Recipes to Remember: Banana Bread

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I’ll admit — I kind of think of banana bread as a southern thing. I know people make it in the north too, but as I’m allergic to tree nuts I pretty much write it off as something I shouldn’t eat, since walnuts often make an appearance. But Korey loves it — sans walnuts — so I learned to make it the way his grandma does.

The recipe is fairly easy and straightforward. It calls for:

– two cups self-rising flour
– one cup sugar
– two eggs
– one stick melted butter
– three ripe bananas (I’ve added more before)
– one teaspoon of vanilla
– a pinch of salt

Mash that all together and bake for about forty minutes at 375°. I always cover mine with tin foil but I don’t think that’s truly necessary.

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Although I have never actually tasted my own banana bread (the horror, I know, what a bad cook!) the kids seem to love it just as much as Korey. Izzy told me last night to make sure daddy didn’t eat it all. I replied that I had made two so there was no way he could eat it all. She replied “next time make three — one for the babies, one for daddy, and one for me!” Ha! The prospect of having to share at all is apparently too much for her. 😉

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But I guess she knows what she’s talking about because between desert yesterday and whatever Korey ate for breakfast and took to work with him, there was only one left this morning! I don’t think I’ll be making three though. Some people just need to learn to portion better. 😛

Izzy turns four!

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Izzy’s fourth birthday was Tuesday and today we had a birthday party for her! I totally have put off having real birthdays since her first because I was pregnant and overwhelmed with the twins and I honestly think they’re kind of dumb. (So I aged another year — woo….) But knowing how much Izzy loves people and parties and being the center of attention right now I felt she deserved a day to celebrate her after how much she put up with over the past two years.

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I wanted to keep it small but given the size of our combined families that way pretty much impossible. 😛 Thankfully I feel good enough now that I totally spent a week cleaning and organizing most of the downstairs. (Since we got a new dining room table it really motivated me. I took down old baby gates and touched up paint and bought long overdue curtains for the living room and everything.)

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Izzy was so excited she counted down the days every day, helped me clean, repeated the list of the all the grandmas and grandpas that were going to be there over and over again, and made sure to tell everyone she could about it. 😉 It totally made it worth it to me even without having had the actual party yet. But the day of was even better!

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Although I don’t have many pictures of her, she was beyond excited, running to the door wherever someone came and announcing to everyone who they were. Her excitement was infectious! I immediately knew all that cleaning and prep work had paid off.

The best moment for me though was after everyone sang happy birthday — which she totally basked in — and she blew out her candle, she ran up to my and gave me a huge hug and said “thank you momma!!” as if I had given her the best day of her life. I nearly cried. I don’t know how I got so lucky with her — she is so affectionate and gentle-hearted and thoughtful. Truly the best child I could’ve ever asked for.

Of course she also got a lot of wonderful gifts that she was thrilled to open, but I definitely think the best part for her was just having everyone over and getting to have a special day all of her own. And I wouldn’t say that about most kids but right from the get go, as soon as I told her about my plan to have a party, the first thing she asked was “and everyone is going to come to my house?” So she got her ultimate wish. 😂

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I cannot even believe it’s been four years. Sometimes, before having kids, I wondered if I was really cut out to be a mom (sometimes afterward too — ha!) But looking at Izzy and what a sweet, happy, wonderful little girl she is makes me feel like maybe I was cut out for her. ❤

Nostalgia

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Today I have been painting our master bedroom in anticipation of our new furniture to be delivered Monday. I’m so excited! I haven’t owned a bedframe in my entire adult life. 😱 I’m taking a bit of a gamble with this paint job though because I didn’t warn Korey before hand. I’m hoping the fact that I only have trim left to do this weekend will make up for the unexpected project… 😂

But as I was painting I was thinking about how when we finally finally got the keys to this house (over five years ago now!) we were so excited to spend the night in “our home” that instead of going back to the townhouse we were renting we brought over an air mattress and set it up in the middle of the master bedroom. It looked so tiny in that huge empty room — hell, honestly most of our lives seemed so tiny for so long in this huge empty house with rooms we never went into and space we never utilized.

Yesterday I was talking to my sister and we were talking about nostalgia and I confessed that I’m not a very nostalgic person. I tend to always be looking to the future, only glancing back to make predictions about what to expect. And I don’t know if it’s because of that conversation or what but I’ve been thinking a lot today about these past five years and how I have put so much of myself into this house piece by little piece.

It’s taken me a long time — so long in fact that Behr totally redid their paint wall at Home Depot and no longer advertises the swatch of paint that is the foundation for my whole palette. 😂But each room that has been completed has had my full attention and care from the very beginning, tailored specifically to its purpose.

So even though it’s taken me an unreasonably long time to complete, I’ll always remember stenciling delicate pink cherry blossoms along Izzy’s wall, feeling her kick as I brought her nursery to life. I’ll always remember the panic we felt as we rushed to finish up the twin’s nursery after my water broke, Korey putting together cribs as I touched up the paint on their wall and hung new blinds. I’ll always remember sitting up with him as we built a thousand Ikea bookshelves after the kids were all asleep to set up their new playroom for them. And even though I’m not an inherently nostalgic person, I also don’t feel like I have to be, because those memories are there with me constantly every time I love through a room. ❤

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Recipes to Remember: Cherry Kuchen Bars

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This one is long over due! These cherry kuchen bars — otherwise known as “cherry cake” by Izzy — are so easy and delicious they instantly became a family hit.

Originally I saw this recipe linked at the bottom of her recipe for fried rice, which I’ve talked about before, and thought dang, that looks wonderful but I bet it’s a pain to make! Well when I clicked on the directions it seemed pretty simple so I gave it a shot and I’m so glad I did.

I brought this to several events over the holidays and it was praised by everyone who tried it. Izzy perhaps gave me the best praise by walking around to everyone announcing “MY mommy made this!” 😊 Definitely knows how to make me feel good. Even the extremely picky Korey enjoyed it! So if you’re looking for a good, easy dessert, especially for a party because it can make so much, I totally recommend this.

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Also, it’s delicious with vanilla ice cream, so you know it can’t be wrong in my book. 😉