Cheers, 2016!

It’s crazy that a brand new year is almost here. This has truly been the wildest year of my life. The most beautiful, mentally exhausting, physically demanding, emotionally draining year…but also, hands down the happiest year of my life.

Funny how that works. A year of challenges unlike any others you’ve faced…all to bring you to a place of happiness you’ve never known before.

I’ve re-learned how to trust, how much my mind and body are capable of, how unbelievably powerful faith is, how to remain patient, and how much good there is in the world.

I couldn’t be happier to celebrate 2016 and welcome 2017 at home with my hubby, our sleeping babies, a glass (or more…) of wine, chinese takeout, t.v. movies, and text updates from my family and my besties.

And yes…Sean is absolutely wearing Henry’s tuxedo bib in this picture. You’re welcome. 😉

To our sweet Henry & Emily who are sleeping away upstairs: we only hope that we make you as happy every day as you make us.

2017 – you’re up 😉

Big hugs,

Katherine

Easy Shepard’s Pie

I was having one of those evenings where the babies were see-sawing between mildly entertained and fussy, but I also really wanted to cook something yummy. I had ground beef and carrots in the fridge, onions and seasonings in the pantry. I didn’t feel like pasta, especially because my homemade Alfredo sauce the night before was an epic fail. But suddenly, I looked in one of my cabinets and spotted this handsome devil to the right.

Now, before you get all judgy, I’ll have you know that instant mashed potatoes are freakin delicious. They give you that whipped texture without all the added work. For a mom of twins who doesn’t have very much free time for cooking – that’s everything.

I took a glance at a few recipe combinations before making it my own. I knew that Shepard’s Pie with ground beef would be pretty straight forward, but the gravy-like mixture needed to be good. Rachel Ray has a great base for this (Rachel Ray’s Shepard’s Pie), but I made lots of changes and ultimately created…THIS:

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Ingredients

  • 1 pound (ish) – Ground Beef
  • 1 – medium/large Yellow Onion, coarsely chopped
  • 3 – medium Carrots, diced
  • 1 cup – Frozen Peas
  • ½ teaspoon – Red Pepper Flakes
  • 3 cloves – Garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons – Butter
  • “a pinch” – Celery Salt
  • “to taste” – Regular Salt
  • 2 tablespoons – All Purpose Flour
  • 1 cup – Beef Broth
  • 2 ½ teaspoons – Worcestershire Sauce

…and for the Mashed Potatoes :

  • one 8 oz “Family Size” package – Instant Mashed Potatoes (quick & easy for the win! I ADORE the garlic kind)
    • OR two of the normal sized 4 oz packages will do just fine
  • 4 cups of water

Step 1

Brown the ground beef in a pan. Drain the excess fat, then return it to the pan.

Step 2

Add in your chopped onions, diced carrots, peas, red pepper flakes, pinch of celery salt, regular salt (to taste) and minced garlic to the cooked ground beef and stir together. Cover and let it all heat together at medium heat for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Step 3

Meanwhile…gotta get yo gravy goin’! In a separate pan, whisk together the beef broth, flour,Worcestershire sauce and butter over medium high heat. Bring just to a boil while stirring continuously, then remove it from the heat and add the gravy to your ground beef mixture. Let this sit without heat while you jump into step 4. Also – now’s a good time to turn on your oven’s broiler to low heat.

Step 4

Bring 4 cups of water to a boil, then remove it from the heat. Add the 8 oz package (or the two 4 oz packages) of powdered mashed potatoes and quickly stir it all together until it’s smooth. Within seconds you have gorgeous delicious garlicky mashed potatoes. Sooooooo easyyyy!

Step 5

In a casserole dish, layer the ground beef mixture first, then top it off with the mashed potatoes. Be sure to cover the ground beef completely with the mashed potatoes so that the ground beef mixture won’t bubble over and ruin the pristine potatoey topping. Pop that dish in the oven and broil it on low until it’s juuuust golden brown on the top. Let it cool a bit before serving, garnish with a little parsley on top, then serve it up!

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This dish is a total hit since the first night I made it. Some nights I made it without carrots, sometimes without peas. It’s super adjustable depending on what you have in stock. Hope y’all enjoy a slice, or 3, on an upcoming cold winter night! Be sure to comment/share if you give it a try. I’d love to see pics of your “pie”!

Big hugs,

Katherine

 

 

Henry & Emily: 5 months

Oh my gosh. How did they do it? How did they turn 5 months in the blink of an eye?! Sean and I are so in love with these two angels and thank God every day for them.

henryemily-5-months

Henry Update

Henry is an eternally happy little man. I forget, often, that he’s a baby because he really does look like a little man! He has this joyful, wide open, toothless smile that reminds us of all the good in the world.

He is very strong and is in the 90th percentile for his height! We’re convinced he would take off and run if he just knew how. This boy adores standing (with our help of course), gets a kick out of kicking for long periods of time, and has one heck of a grasp. Even when he is getting into mischief (e.g. pulling the mesh bumper off in his crib), he flashes me a smile so wide, and so proud, that my heart nearly explodes. Love that little man.

Emily Update

Emily is our sweet natured little doll face. At just 5 months old, she has this way of letting us know that she loves us right back. She is very observant. She adores books, especially “Brown Bear, Brown Bear” and barely blinks when she is read to; sweet girl just soaks it all in!

As she grows, so does her ability to learn new vocal ranges and squeals. She often loves to look at her brother and strike up conversation. When we hold her she is very still; simply grateful for the snuggle. Love our little princess.

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Both Henry and Emily are now sleeping 9-12 hour stretches at night, so you can imagine how happy the entire Mason household is these days ;). We’ve started them both on solids which they adore! Along with their bottles, they enjoy a bit of oatmeal cereal in the morning, and this week they’re on pureed green beans before bedtime.

They’re champs. Best friends. We’re eternally grateful to be their parents.

Happy 5 months to Henry & Emily!

Big hugs,

Katherine

New Mama Life

Well helloooo! Sean and I have made it through the first 8 weeks of parenthood…with a twist. If you’re just “tuning in,” we have newborn fraternal twins! You can check out my blog announcement from the day they were born: Henry & Emily, or read all about what my twin pregnancy was like: Pregnancy.

So…twins. Oh my goodness, where to begin…

We’re over the moon that this little boy & little girl are ours. We’ve fallen head over heels for them! I’ve got a post coming soon, once they reach 2 months, on how they’re growing and what’s new with their development. But for now, I want to share what it’s really like for us these first few months, how I’m doing, and how my day to day life has changed.

Honestly, much of those first few weeks are a TOTAL blur. I’ve never been that sleep deprived in my life yet as all of our friends who are parents told us – you somehow just do it. You have to! You manage to stay painfully awake, snuggle with them through the tears (yes, both yours and theirs!), drink coffee, chug water, and sleep whenever/if you can. It ALL gets better. Trust me. There are good mornings and bad ones, easy afternoons and stressful ones, short nights and never-ending ones. Coming off those first few weeks I felt like Will Ferrell at the end of this scene in Old School where he finishes a killer response then says “What happened…I blacked out.” 

Yup. I totally felt like that midway through our first month. What just happened? Did these 2 little people really grow in my belly for nearly 9 months? Did I really just give birth to them!? Did we actually survive those first weeks as new parents with newborn twins!? WHAT! We really can do this.

In order to keep my sanity (so far) I’ve been reminding myself of three important things:

1) Make it a priority to take care of myself.

2) Embrace all of this as my “new normal.”

3) Remember to stay grateful.

Together, those things have made all the difference in my attitude through the sleepless nights, the projectile spit up in my hair, the 4320483294 diaper changes, those first few weeks of crazy postpartum hormoooones!, the breastfeeding vs. formula feeding dilemmas, the attempts to get both babies on the same feeding and sleeping routine, the ear-piercing cries at bath-time, or the isolation of staying at home every day.

At first, I found myself fighting the reality of exhaustion in attempts to sneak in a baking session, a blog post, a cleaning spree, or other projects that I had time for in my pre-mama life. So many of those attempts continued to fail and I ended up exhausting myself even more. I finally listened to my gut (and prior advice) by rewarding those rare pockets of time when the twins are sleeping with my basic needs (sleep/rest & mental health).

As far as gratefulness goes – I’ve prayed for these little ones (so many of you have!) for years, and now they’re finally here! That alone is enough to give me the kick in the butt that I needed to stay positive and remain grateful. Honestly though, it’s really not that hard to be grateful and to stay positive when you’re so in love with your babies and you have the love and support from friends and family! Sean and I feel so very lucky.

My “me-time” is different now. It’s no longer sitting at a coffee shop to blog about recipes, or to go for a long run followed by a long shower and then taking my sweet time to get ready for a night out, or sipping wine with some tunes in the background all while cooking…uninterrupted, or hoping in the car with hubby for a day trip somewhere in Oklahoma. I can still do those things, technically, but it takes some serious strategic planning and back up care to make it happen.

My “me-time” is now in a million different little things. And sometimes, what’s even better than “me-time” are those small victories throughout the day that remind me how I’m doing just fine. Here are some examples. Shout out to all you fellow mamas & papas out there who can relate:

  • Getting the twins to nap during the day at the same time. Hallelujah!!! It means I can nap too, or shower, or tidy up, or eat…ya know…those luxuries 😉 . They sleep during the night every 2.5 – 3 hours, but during the day one baby will often be sleepy while the other is wide awake, then they often flip flop. Simultaneous day-sleep means this mama gets a break!
  • Leaving the house with them in under 30 minutes. If that actually happens – it’s a dream come true. It’ll buy me time for a drive-through trip to Starbucks!!! This is usually what goes through my mind before leaving the house with them:

Is the diaper bag ready? How many back up diapers are in there? Burp cloths? Extra onesies? I should bring two extra bottles. Holy heat index…I need to start my car early and get the AC running. Now to make sure they’re fed, changed, and burped before I even think about putting them in their car seats. Is the “snap & go” stroller in the trunk? Omg I’m starving…have I eaten? There’s spit up on my shirt….awesome…do I really need to change? Whatever. What time is it.

  • Post bath preciousnessWhen it’s bath time and neither twin screams. That’s one for the win! At first Henry & Emily HATED bath time. Now – they’re starting to really like it! Then once they’re dried off, clothed and swaddled, there’s that sweet baby-after-bath smell! Ohhhhh my heart! It’s the definition of precious! They both are two tightly swaddled, beautifully smelling, precious little ones!
  • Waking up from a 1 or 2 hour nap while Sean, or a family member Blended Iced Coffee Heavenvisiting, has been looking after them. When you’re so tired that your body literally hurts, a nap like that is EVERYTHING for your sanity. You might as well have just won the lottery.
  • Getting that much needed first sip of coffee in the morning as the sweetest reward for another long night of feedings, diaper changes, burps, swaddles, and lullabies.
  • Getting out for a solo drive to run errands for a couple of hours on the weekend while hubby takes over. Watch out, world! Happy mama on the loose! Blended iced coffee bliss. Grocery shopping fun. TARGET. Windows down, country music blaring, singing along, driving slow. Win win win!Family movie time
  • Watching a movie at home with hubby, wine, popcorn, and only needing to pause the movie once to feed/change/snuggle with the twins before they go back to sleep.
  • Date night. MAJOR WIN! Our family has blessed us with a couple of date nights out as they came to visit and we couldn’t be more grateful! I feel like getting out for multiple date nights in those first 2-3 months is almost unheard of, especially for parents of multiples. We are so lucky to have such support! Sean even watched the twins one night and gave me & my sister a night out in Tulsa!
  • Walk + Run with my girl!Going for a run/walk on my own. This is huge. My first song of choice? “Can’t stop the feeling” by JT. When no one’s looking…errr…when I think no one’s looking…I bust out some dance moves mid-walk. It’s the best feeling in the world!
  • Walking the twins AND Stella on my own. If you ever want instant cool-points from strangers – walk two babies and a Dog + Twins + Walk = Windog at once. I usually end the walk feeling like I’ve just climbed Everest after I’ve managed to keep Stella (our lab) mildly tame on the leash while also steering the twins in the stroller.

Date nights, exercise, getting ready, leaving the house, etc. are things that were apart of my normal life pre-motherhood that I totally took for granted. Now, I treasure them. There are so many more small victories that I could describe; moments that make me light up with joy and feel re-charged again. For now though, hopefully those are some that give you a glimpse into what it’s like so far.

I couldn’t ask for a better “new normal.” Though it may seem like a stressful time, it’s also the happiest I’ve ever been. Sean too. We are more in love with these two little love bugs than we ever could have dreamed of. I’m getting teary just writing this part! Seriously y’all…these two are such a gift to us! Their new smiles, heartfelt snuggles, “coo’s,” beautiful faces, and wide-eyed astonishment at the world are things that overtake exhaustion any day.

To parents out there (especially parents of multiples): I get it now 🙂

Love,

New Mama Kath 🙂