Panera Bread and Holiday Gift Guides (5 on Friday)

This year is almost over?! Say what?!

So that explains why I am in clean-the-house-get-organized-finish-everything-christmas-is-almost-here-keep-moving-hurry-up mode!

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So much to do, so little time. I want to send Christmas cards out already, finish decorating the tree, wrap up the gifts (pun intended), and get the house cleaned and ready for visitors!

BUT!

I am also reminding myself that so long as we have our health and each other (family and friends), we truly have all we need. In reality, the best thing I can do for myself and my family is to do less stuff(Although I really really really want to put away the Christmas décor boxes and not have to address another holiday card!!!)

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Five Things Friday – #1

Happy Friday! If you’re a new reader, welcome! You can read more about me and this blog gig of mine here.

And whether you’re new or not, I have to point out two super cool new features about my blog…

#1) My blog is on Facebook!

I finally created a Facebook page for my blog! Hope you “like” it!

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“Like” sharissespieces on Facebook!

Get it, “like” it? *nudge, nudge, wink wink* Go “like” my page now!

#2) New Blog Look!

My blog also has a new look – I call it my “serious” blog look. Don’t fret. My corny humor and candidness will still shine through, if not continue to be up front and center. I just love the timeless, crisp look of plain black on white. Took me a while to pick a theme and ended up with something called Truly Minimal. Very ironic for someone who can be very NOT-minimal! I’m all about excitement, flare, and sparkles!

Now for something FUN for FRIDAY! Five quick blurbs before I start the weekend…

 

~~~ Five Things Friday ~~~

#1: Sweet September

Fall is near! That means Apple Hill, pumpkins (carving/decorating > eating), boots, and colorful trees.

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#2: Working out

You may have noticed I started working out again – gym + at home. Yeeeeeah, that’s working just (not) fine. At least I’m still playing volleyball!

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#3: Coffee

Who noticed the salted caramel mocha is back at Starbucks? I did! *frantically waves both hands in the air*

Salted caramel mochas and pumpkin spice lattes and peppermint mochas, OH MY!

Salted caramel mochas and pumpkin spice lattes and peppermint mochas, OH MY!

#4: New project

I came up with this grand idea that involves collaboration with other moms. I have no idea how it’ll turn out, but I’m excited to share soon!

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And, the BEST thing about this Friday…

#5: New laptop

I finally got a new laptop! My old one has been out of commission since BEFORE the babies were born. At long last, I don’t have to worry about stealing the hub’s laptop and can write freely. Perfect timing after I stumbled across this writing challenge that I am excited to tackle!

Sitting, laughing, and homemade baby food

Look who’s sitting all on their own!

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Yes, the boys’ outfits are coordinated. I try my best.

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Life with the boys has taken a significant turn with the boys sitting on their own. I mean, this is HUGE! We can sit the boys in front of some toys or in front of each other, or really just anywhere, and they will be happy and content while we take care of another chore or tend to the other baby or even just take minute to eat and relax!

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Can you believe the boys can pretty much drink their milk while Mama drinks hers? That is, her milk with coffee…

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We finally got a recording of the boys laughing at each other! It was too cute. Seriously, your heart just melts at the sound of babies laughing and giggling. Here’s a still shot of the video we captured:

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We may or may not have started a new weekend routine. Mama wakes up at 5 am as if it is just another day of the week and the boys in turn let Mama load them into the van and they take a spin, stopping bythe Starbucks drive thru and cruising around town just until they fall asleep. This is the new view from the rear view mirror – we got mirrors to place in front of the boys so we could see what is going on while we drive!

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Sleeping update: We are so proud of the boys.Thank goodness we sleep trained! The boys are still going to bed around 7/7:30 pm. They are pretty much able to stay either asleep or at least not crying/fussy until 6 am. It’s such a relief not having to fight through the bedtime routine or deal with inconsolable babies before the sun rises. There are still tiny hiccups along the way (Adrian will wake up at 4:30/5 am and babble away until 6 am!) or someone will briefly whine/cry/fuss in the middle of the night, but for the most part, we have no complaints.

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Homemade baby food: I’m so excited to share my new adventures in the kitchen as I have been planning on making baby food myself even before the babies were born. I am just now getting to it eight months down the road, but better late than never. There is an amazing website I learned about, Momtastic’s Wholesome Baby Food, which has nearly EVERYTHING you could possibly need, wonder, and imagine about baby food. What to feed, when to introduce certain foods, how to select/prepare/cook the foods… nutrition facts, organic vs. conventional, and recipes galore! I love how thorough the website is.

Here is my haul from Sprouts Farmers Market. Oh, I was giddy alright.

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The great thing about Sprouts is that it is close to home (for me, at least), it has a wonderful variety of locally grown produce and organic selections, and it is super affordable! The minute I heard it was a “Farmers Market” full of organic and specialty items, I thought: EXPENSIVE. But all of the produce I bought above (one butternut squash, two Hass avocados, one organic bunch of carrots, two sweet potatoes, and five organic Gala apples) cost me $10.78. I haven’t prepared or cooked everything yet, but already I know this route of preparing food for the babies is going to not only be better in terms of nutrition and knowing what is in their food, but in terms of saving money! Those darned prepackaged foods may be convenient, but with twin babies in the house, I knew we’d be better off preparing our own food.

When we first introduced baby food to the boys, we did use those Gerber prepackaged foods. We didn’t start off with rice cereal because from what I gathered through research reading online and talking with other moms, rice cereal doesn’t really have that much of a nutritional value for the babies and is simply a new texture to get them used to eating. Instead, we went straight for the veggies and then eventually introduced fruit. I have super high hopes for guiding the boys’ palates and teaching them to love wholesome food. I know I can only do my best and they will eventually make their own choices, but while we control what goes inside their bellies, I will take full advantage of that!

I chose to bake the squash and steam the apples first. The result of my two hours in the kitchen (parts of those two hours was used for meal-prepping for work lunches and doing dishes!):

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I didn’t fill the ice cube tray because I put a few scoops in tiny reusable containers to bring to daycare the following day. I learned about pureeing the food and freezing them in ice cube trays. After they are frozen, I will pop them out and store in a gallon ziplock bag. I sure did break a sweat and my feet were approaching soreness from all the standing, but I am so happy with my accomplishments and can’t wait to get into a good routine. My goal is to prepare 1-2 foods on the weekend and freeze until I have a good stash going that the boys can rotate through. Once that happens, I want to actually incorporate the meals we eat with what I’m preparing for the boys so that I am being more efficient with grocery shopping and meal planning/preparing. Wish me luck!

We’re rolling over and getting out of the house!

Four-month stats are updated! Their weights were not a surprise, but check out their heights:)

These boys are amazing me every day. Last week, they both rolled onto their backs! I would place them on their bellies for tummy time and literally walked away for a minute only to find them rolled over! Here’s Jer:

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And Adrian:

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They’re also grabbing things a lot more. Mostly by accident, but it’s really cute.  Adrian on the left grabbing his paci and one of the tubes of my pump haha. And then Jer on the right grabbing his bib and waving it around.

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Since we’ve been cooped up in the house so much, I have been itching to brave the challenge I’ve been avoiding and go outside! I scooped up the boys into their carseats and we went for a drive! It took about an hour and a half to get out of the house: fed each boy, made sure they digested, loaded them up, and off we went! Technically, we never left the van. We just went through the Starbucks drive thru:) After I got my drink, I didn’t want to go home just yet, so I went through the McDonald’s drive-thru! I’m not proud of where I went (bleh fast food), but it was simply the point of being up and about with the boys that got me excited. My goal before I return to work in February is to one day take them out in their stroller for a walk… IN PUBLIC! Eek!

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This is how Papa found us one afternoon…

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So he decided he wanted to join, too!

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My morning drink of calamansi. If you’ve never had this fruit before, it’s similar to a lemon. These ones in particular are organic and grown by my very own dad in his backyard! Squeeze two of em into a tall glass, add a bit of sugar (shh), water, and ice and you have a nice refreshing drink packed with vitamin C! I am far, far from where I want to be in my diet of healthy, whole foods, so simple things like this make me happy. Soon I will be back in full swing with getting healthier and cutting out the sugar, fat, salt, and unnecessary ingredients in our lives.

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Can’t wait until our Christmas tree is up… Papa Bear is working on it! Crossing my fingers that my next post will include our Christmas decor:) Who doesn’t say this every year, but… I canNOT believe how fast time has flown! It’s almost Christmas and the end of 2013. Ah, 2013. The most exciting, amazing year yet in our journey together. I am slowly stressing thinking about the gift buying and wrapping, visitors, dealing with the boys’ and their sleep/crib training, but in the end, I can only make time for the most important things. In order to do that, I have to get rid of the excess and focus on family, friends, and making memories.

Getting by with humor and the nursery!

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Humor. Lots and lots of humor.

My new lifeline.

“Forget the fallen sock. I gots me some coffee! Priorities, people!”

 

Don’t worry, this doesn’t happen:

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How can we be sure, you ask? Check out our awesome organization! We’d literally be lost without it.

Type A? No, it's called BEING ORGANIZED!

Type A? No, it’s called BEING ORGANIZED!

A good sense of humor, along with a positive attitude, patience, and faith, has been helping us get through each day, especially tough moments when we are seriously running on empty, both babies are crying, and the chance to nap, eat, or even breathe doesn’t seem close by. But we do get through it. We figure out what the babies need. We finish washing all the bottles and pumping parts. We are able to inhale something close to nutrition (or chocolate cake). We finally approach the light at the end of the tunnel. I feel terrible for always venting and bringing up the hard parts about this new life of ours. Yes, we LOVE LOVE LOVE the boys (never a question) and we cannot explain the joy and happiness they bring us. But it is not without the labor and hardships we must endure in order to care for these little guys. They are helpless and need us entirely. WE are their people! It takes a lot out of us and we are drained. This is what gets us through:

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JT

Ok, quick updates from the past few days! 1, 2, 3… here we GO!

We brought the babies out to their first house party! It was a tough decision (mostly for me). First of all, it was not a real party. Just a small gathering and we knew every single person who would be there. It is so important to be careful of the people around the babies. They haven’t gotten their shots yet, they are still newborns, and they cannot afford to get sick. Luckily, it’s not wintertime yet, but nonetheless, we are constantly aware of who is around our babies and handling them. Anywho, we got out of the house more than two hours later than we had originally planned. We had to haul over a bunch of stuff. But we made it! And the boys got to meet their Ate C.A.! (Ate, pronounced ah-TEH, means older sister in Tagalog.)

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Go Niners!

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The boys and Ate C.A.

Check out this army we’ve got… an army of bottles! We are constantly washing. I feel like we need to just buy more bottles already, but I don’t want to be washing 30 bottles at a time. Keeping it to a minimum forces us to wash frequently and I like keeping the sink empty. Does it happen all the time, no way!

Army of bottles

Army of bottles

Can you spot my Starbucks cup? Keep on the lookout because I plan to try to sneak the cup in the background any chance I get =P If you wanna make me happy right now, please come bearing Sbux or boba 🙂

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Adrian holding my face saying, “It’ll be OK, Mama”

The house is a MESS! Even though it is driving us crazy, check out the nursery! I was so excited to finally get started on it. We weren’t able to touch it during the pregnancy because I was on strict bed rest. We made TONS of progress. My parents bought the boys’ dresser and the hubs’ parents bought the cribs. We are also borrowing the glider from a cousin and it has been so nice to have. Loving the room so far! All that is left is a little decor and we’re done.

20130917181532010_20130917181929423See the lion in the middle of the animals? That is Kingy. He has been with us almost from the start. The hubs won him for me during our first trip to Vegas 🙂 When I find the picture I’m thinking of, I will add it to this post.

I always feel like I have a ton more to say. Until next time…

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Tell me something!

~ How do you get through stressful/hard times? Do you use humor, your patience, or some other thing?

~ Are you the type to keep the sink clean of dishes? Or do you let them pile up?

~ Tell me anything! I am all baby these days, so I’d love to hear about what’s going on with the outside world 🙂

 

 

Week 23 and Mother’s Day!

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Hello hello! Happy Mother’s Day to all of the wonderful mothers, expectant mothers, and mother figures out there. Happy Mother’s Day especially to my own momma, who has always been there for me, supporting me in every way, and showing me the power of a mother’s love. As I grew up, I often heard my mom tell me that I would “understand when I become a mother one day.” She is so right! I am still only an expectant mother and haven’t yet entered parenthood, but already that mother’s love resonates deep within me in ways I never could have imagined. I love my boys so much already it really does hurt.

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We’ve reached yet another week and we couldn’t be more grateful. We’ve been on a roller coaster the past two weeks, but here we are, chugging along! We are proud to report that the boys are estimated to each be about 1.2 lbs each! I’ve been feeling more and more movement from the babies. It’s a lot of fun when they let me know they are awake and active. Even though I already know they are constantly moving and I won’t always feel their every movement this early, it’s so much fun when I do feel them. The hubs felt one of the babies for the first time last week! He was so excited and also surprised at how it felt. It was such a miraculous moment to share with him.

Some other random updates… sleep is getting tougher, especially with waking up 1-2 times a night. I am glad that I am able to fall back asleep, but my body can definitely feel the different a straight 8 hours of sleep makes compared with 8 choppy hours. That REM cycle really is something! I bought a Snoogle a few days ago and I must say it is quite… interesting. I find myself going to sleep using it and then after waking up in the middle of the night, I toss it aside and grab my three pillows and make my own fort instead =P I think it’ll just take some getting used to. Check out all these ways you can use the Snoogle!

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My sister drove me around the other day to get some errands done. Thanks, Sis!!! We went to my check-up appointment, the grocery store, dry cleaners, Panda Express, and Starbucks. Look how happy I was when she brought me to SBUX to redeem my FREE drink! Being a gold card member rocks. I tried the new caramel ribbon crunch frappuccino (decaf!). It was good, but was also a caramel overload. I shouldn’t complain though because SBUX certainly has the BEST CARAMEL EVER!

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Well, that’s all for now, folks. As always, thanks for reading! 🙂

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It’s your turn…

Fellow Starbucks addicts, what’s YOUR all-time favorite drink?

Do you sleep with a ton of pillows? Just one? Are they big, firm, fluffy, or flat?