dear mandey: a pep talk to my lazy ass

Hey Mandey. Yeah, you. You need to get your ish together. I know you're tired of moving and I know there's a lot of other things going on in your life at the moment but you need to take care of yourself. Did you know you haven't been to the gym or worked out for over a month? You need to find your gym here and get hooked back up with a trainer. You're paying for this, you know...and not using it currently. Knock it off.

And your diet? What the eff man? Fruit is just as convenient as chips. Stop making lame choices. You're paying for it. You're tired all the time, you have motivation for just about nothing, your face is breaking out like you're doing a rerun of puberty. And let's not even mention how much caffeine you've been relying on lately and how much of a biotch you are when you don't have any.

Just all together knock it off. You know you're better than this. Don't let all of this moving get the better of you. When you feel good you look good. Right now I know you don't feel so hot. I'm not going to tell you to cut anything out, I'm just going to ask that you make better choices. 

And in the name of John Stamos would you utilize the free fitness center you have access to? Just go. You won't' regret it afterward. 

Yourself. Your less lazy and excuse prone self.

a confession: why I dyed my hair

I have a confession to make. A week or so ago I dyed my hair dark. I haven't done dark for awhile but I was feeling self conscious. A couple of weeks ago a stupid guy was at our house there to measure some trees in the back yard and made a comment about the boys and how he thought I was the nanny. I know so many moms of mixed race kids have probably been through this before but it was the first time anyone ever said this to me. 

Generally, people always try to get out of me what color Chikezie is when they're trying to decipher where the boys get all their dark curly hair, or why their skin is darker than mine. "They must get that from their dad." As if I don't have curly hair (I know I straighten it sometimes). You know, because it's important for people to know these life changing facts; what color a stranger babys' parents' skin is and hair texture and thickness on stranger babys' parents.

Well I got self conscious. I laughed it off at first. That idiot. He needed to keep his mouth shut and not worry about the race of my kids or my relation to them. But deep down I kind of wished it was more obvious they were mine. I know to those of you who know us, just looking at our faces makes it obvious. Deep down I felt a little sad that nobody questions Chikezie's parental connection, and that people always assume their big hair or dark eyes or big size in general comes from him and not from me. 

I dyed my hair to look more like my babies. Maybe not forever, but while I was feeling self conscious about it. Maybe it sounds stupid, because they are a perfect combination of Chikezie and I but I can't pretend that sometimes things like this don't bother me. 

we made it.

We made it to San Jose! We had very minimal stops on the 9 1/2 drive down (it's supposed to be 11 but my husband drives like a bat out of hell). The boys did great, we had only one breakdown, barely any naps (crazy for being in the car!) and watched Cars and Rango twice. 

We're now in our super nice and huge temp housing in downtown San Jose. I feel like we're in a hotel it's so nice but there's no room service. Moving isn't so bad when you get this kind of treatment!  The boys are doing well, sleeping on twin bed mattresses we moved to the floor. I'm still trying to figure out how to do this; get them to sleep in these beds without hours of struggle. If you have any ideas of what worked for you, please share!

thoughts on moving {again}

You guys, I'm so tired of moving. Have I said that before? Because I am. I hate the constant state of saying goodbye to people/places I've grown to love. With Portland it's been a little difficult because our love affair was fairly instant, and hard. We love this place hard. 

However, I've learned a lot from moving over the years. I have to keep focused on the positives, and keep looking toward the future. I can't wait until we're in our new house, wherever that may be, and we can begin unpacking things for real this time. I can't wait to explore yet another new city and all that it has to offer. Many people live in the same place their whole lives and I always yearned to never be one of those people. I really do love and thrive off of change. 

I keep deleting and re-writing this post because I have a million things to say about moving and I'm feeling a million more things about this whole thing. And then I keep looking up at that picture of those two little people and it all really boils down to one thing; them. Everything we do now, it's for them. Every change, every move, all the struggles and uncertainty, it's all so they can have a good life. So maybe one day they'll have a it a little better or easier than we did.

I've also learned a little bit from the move up here, that as long as we shower these guys with all the love and kisses we can, they really don't care where we are, as long as mommy and daddy are there.

And that's all I have to say about that.

and now, for an announcement

Well friends, we have some news here at the E household. No, not baby news, although I've been looking at a lot of baby pictures of the boys lately and having some intense bouts of baby fever. (they need to make some kind of antidote for this!)

Due to some exciting opportunities with Chikezie's job....we're moving. We're moving to the San Francisco bay area this weekend. And you know what? Although we're super bummed about leaving all of the new friends we made so quickly here in Portland, we're ready for yet another unpredictable adventure this life has given to us.

Portland, we fell in love with you the day we got here, and we've continued to fall in love over and over every time we're out exploring you. Your people are some of the most friendly, welcoming, and  weird people we've ever met. We're coming back. We promise. 

I'm really not too stoked to be uprooting the boys, once again, and dealing with the clinginess, uncertainty and stress that goes along with moving but I'm hoping this should be a pretty smooth transition. We're basically pros at moving long distance now. And this time there are movers coming to pack and move all of our (only half unpacked) home. 

As much as we love it up here in the PNW, and as much as we loved it in Southern California and Iowa, we've learned one super important truth in all of our moving; home is where your heart is. My heart is my babies and my husband. Wherever they are, we'll make a happy home. 

And San Fran, you have some big, big shoes to fill. You better bring it.

picnic food: wraps recipe

Wraps are kind of the best idea ever. Why I never make them is beyond me. I called my friend Rachel this weekend for some good advice on wrap making (because as far as I'm concerned, she's the queen on these matters). 

I made these wraps for our little park picnic outing this weekend and they went over well. This might seem pretty obvious or simple to all of you out there but for dummies like me who have no idea what goes well with what, this was a lifesaver (Thanks Rachel!)

- wrap, spinach or sun dried tomato
- romaine or spring mix lettuce
- chicken breast
- hummus, red pepper or regular
- yellow mustard
- red peppers
- feta crumbles

Spread the hummus and mustard on the wrap, and then just pile on your other ingredients. I'm sure there are so many other ingredients you can use on these, but this is a good start and has only a few ingredients to keep it simple/keep the cost low.

I wrapped these individually in plastic so they stayed together well on the trip to the park. They were perfect for a picnic and I had lots of leftovers for later meals.

3 years ago today.

It was 3 years ago on this day that my life changed forever. It was 3 years ago, that I was sitting at my desk at work, feeling nauseous and a little concerned as I'm never nauseous. I sent a message to my best friend, telling her I was going to take a pregnancy test over lunch. I was sure I wasn't pregnant, but I just wanted to put my mind at ease.

I drove to the K-Mart behind my shitty studio apartment building in my blue Ford Aerostar, I picked up a First Response promptly to my apartment. I'd been chugging water all morning, paranoid for some reason I wouldn't be able to pee. 

I went immediately to my small bathroom, opened the pregnancy test and sat on the toilet. My life changed forever on that toilet. In that shitty little bathroom with poor light, my life changed forever. I was all alone, my fiance a thousand miles away. 

I picked up the stick, I'd waited the required 2 agonizing minutes before looking at it, even though I knew it would be negative. And then I saw them; those two pink lines. Those two little lines that changed my life forever. I didn't know how to react. In movies the girl always has a reaction and I played through my mind what I was supposed to say. 

"Shit. Shit. Shit." is all I could get out. I just sat there, with my pants at my ankles and two pink lines in my hands, over my lunch break and all alone. 

I called my mom. She told me to take my vitamins and eat something. I called a nurse. Yeah, I was pregnant. I called my fiance, he was quiet.  I was scared but I wasn't really all alone, not any more. Not ever again. 

And then I got back in the Aerostar and went back to work. 

It was 3 years ago, on this day, over my lunch hour, in a shitty little bathroom in my studio apartment that my life changed forever and I wish I could go back and hug that girl and tell her of all of the many adventures to come.

Here's the full version of the story.

glowing magic afros: family photo {take 847)

FINALLY we have a good family photo. Remember our 4th of July attempt?  Thank you so much to our friend Jenn for snapping a couple of pictures of us at Laurelhurst Park on Saturday. Jenn is a Portland area photographer, so if you live up here you need to give her a call. Here's her blog, and photography site. 

This thing is definitely getting printed huge because it's not very often that we're all looking the same direction. And the late afternoon sun setting the magic afros aglow? This picture kicks all previous pictures asses. 

pillowcase revamp: mustache style

Since I was pregnant I've HAD to have a body pillow and usually it just ends up taking up space on the bed and not really having any design function. Yesterday while the boys were napping I got a wild hair and decided to revamp my dark brown, boring body pillow cover.

A couple people asked me on Instagram how I did this, and while I didn't make a tutorial I can give you the general idea so you can do something like this yourself. 

What I used:
- Old sheet (for the pillow case)
- my old brown body pillow case

How I did it:
- Folded the old sheet in half, placed the brown pillow case on top of the old sheet, traced the outline and cut both sides.
- Then I cut apart the brown pillow case and folded one side in half (the wrong side out). I used the wrong side to draw out half of a mustache and cut it out. Folding in half helped so the mustache is exactly the same on both sides.
- I pinned the mustache to one piece of the sheet I cut and sewed it on. 
- Then I sewed the two pieces of sheet together to make the pillow case. 
- To finish the open end, I folded the top down and inch, ironed it and sewed two hems around. I may put some buttons or velcro inside at some point to close the pillow case.

And that's it! Now it's a great centerpiece to our bed and helps jazz up the room a little. I know mustaches are kind of getting overdone this day but if you don't do them ALL over the place, I think they can look really fun.

life with 2 year old twin boys: a video

I post a lot of pictures each day of the boys as they grow, but unless you know us in real life, you never get to see the boys in action. I made a small compilation of short videos to give you a little peek into their world and what it's like to live with 2 year old twin boys. 

Lots of silliness, lots of giggles and lots of doing-everything-togetherness. 

new Mama Mandolin bow ties (and a discount!)

NEW TIES are up in the shop, and a discount for all of you below!

I've been working my little hiney off to get some fresh new bow ties up in the shop, and to build up some inventory of the old ties. Here ya go! Thank you all so much for sticking with us through the moving process, the blog and the shop have been a little slow in the past few months but I really a working my butt off to get new things to y'all! 

And for all of you awesome readers, here's a discount code:

For 15% your total order! 

riding the toddler emotional roller coaster

pissed-off-and-jealous // not-giving-a-shit

fist-bumping-hells-yeah // brotherly-love

frustrated-for-no-reason // easily-humored

Yes, the preceding photos (in order) were taken in about a 5 minute timespan. Living with two toddlers is like being on a constant emotional roller coaster. They're easily happy, sad and everything in between every few seconds. 

Who says your life looses all excitement once you have kids? My days have never consistently been filled with this kind of emotional confusion since I was pregnant! It's all worth it because even though the bads are really, really, put-me-out-of-my-misery bad, the goods make up for it by being really....good.

perfect summer snack: frozen yogurt and graham cracker strawberries

I had too much caffeine a few mornings ago and was feeling ambitious. I looked at my cupboards and in the fridge and decided to try something new. We don't have much since we just moved but I did my best to improvise. Remember how I want to cook more? Baby steps. 

- graham crackers
- greek yogurt 
(I used strawberry because that's all I had but plain would work, too)
- strawberries

Dip cleaned/cut strawberries into greek yogurt, roll it around a little, then dip into the crumbs. Place them on a plate covered in tin foil and put them in the freezer. 

You can play around with your own dipping method. I just used my fingers and got messy. You could also substitute with other fruits, I thought of doing bananas, too. When I took them out to eat, I let them sit for a few minutes to thaw slightly otherwise they were super hard/hurt my sensitive teeth. 

And that's it! It was super easy and a cold, healthy snack that tastes super sweet/sinful but is actually really healthy.

Dear Isaiah

Dear Isaiah,

You are such a perfect blend of mama and daddy and such a complimenting personality to your brother. One thing I'm trying to work harder on is loving and appreciating your individuality, which can be a challenge when you were born with someone else. 

Isaiah, here are some things we're learning about you:

- You are very affectionate and loving. You're eager to pucker those slobbery lips for kisses, you're always ready for a hug and yes, at times, can be a little clingy. 
- Whereas your brother is an observer of his surroundings, you are an observer of people. You copy everything your brother does (good and bad). You follow mama and daddy around mimicking gestures and actions. 
- You don't like being dirty or messy. You don't like sand on your hands or chalk on your fingers. When your diaper is dirty, you're assertive in telling me and lay down easily to be changed.
- Your smile lights up a room. Whereas your brother likes to get a laugh, you love to laugh. Your happiness is contagious.
- You are a cautious boy. When you are unsure, you'll let your brother go first so you know it's ok. 
- You're very concerned about your brother. Today when Julian was crying at the park, you gave him a stick to make him feel better. Later, you gave him a flower to cheer him up. You really look out for him.
- You are SO stubborn. This has been true since birth and can be both good and bad. You know what you want, and how you want it and really won't stop until you get it. 
- You like order and structure. You like your toys lined up in your bed, your blanket perfectly folded over you each night. If you spill something, you enjoy picking it up even without mama telling you to.
- You love music and dancing. Any hint of a tune and we're sure to see you swinging your hips or nodding your head. 

Isaiah you are such a sweet piece of our family. You make everything complete. Sometimes you can be very challenging with your need for mama (yes, you're a mama's boy) but you're making me a stronger and better mother in the process. You've always been such a consistent little soul, since you were kicking in my belly and I can't wait to watch you grow.

I love you to the moon,

Dear Julian

Dear Julian,

You are such an awesome kid. You and your brother are growing so fast, sometimes I get lost in everything and forget to take in all the quirks of your personality that are so different from your brother. I'm really trying my best to get to know you each day. It's one thing mama is really trying to learn about having twins; that I need to use a little extra effort to learn about what a little individual you have become. 

Julian, here are some things I've learned about you lately that may have been true before but are even more apparent now:

- You are fascinated with the world around you. Grass, trees, leaves, cars, trucks, bicycles, are learning what everything is.
- You are very comfortable playing alone. When it's quiet and I can't find you, you're usually in your room with a book or playing cars by yourself. 
- Sometimes you just get completely lost in your own little world and I wonder what you're thinking about.
- You're messy and you don't mind being dirty.
- You are FUNNY. Just the way your body moves is funny. You have some really funny habits and mannerisms that just make all of us laugh.
- You hate being touched and bothered if it's not on your own terms. Diaper changes? You're like trying to put a diaper on a wild hog. Cuddles aren't often, but when they are they are so, so sweet. The same with holding mama or daddy's hand. 
- You push your limits. You like to test your boundaries, aren't afraid to try new foods or new things even if you might be a little scared. 
- You're starting to stand up for yourself when it comes to your brother. You fight back for toys instead of just let him take things from you. It's good for him when you do this.

Julian, you are such an interesting person. You're constantly surprising me with the things you do and are always keeping us on our toes. You have so many great qualities that your daddy has- I think you're going to be very artistic one day. You get your independence from me. 

Sweet boy, you truly dance to the beat of your own little drum. Everything you do is on your own terms, at your own pace and in your own special way. 

I love you so much.

two generations of twins.

Can I just talk about how much I love my husband and brother-in-law? They are by far the most awesome set of twins I've ever known. (besides the boys, duh) They compliment each other in so many ways, are very different in some aspects but are really one half of each other. They both seem more relaxed and at home when they're together. 

There are things that I'll say to my husband that he just won't understand or agree with but his brother can say the same exact thing to him and it's the best advice he's gotten. It's just different with him, and I always wish we lived closer so Chikezie could get a more regular twin-recharge. When my husband has a problem that I know I can't solve, the first thing I find myself saying is, "You need to call your brother."

The boys with one of their younger sisters.

Their relationship gives me a wonderful preview of what I expect the boys' relationship to be like when they're older and it makes my heart so happy. They were born with a built in best friend, and I feel this is particularly true with sets of male twins. Girls can be so catty and bitchy to each other, even as sisters. Boys just tend to not have those issues with each other and from what I've seen, get along better.

I can't wait to watch both sets of twins in my life as they grow and change. I love watching these relationships change as they grow older and the bonds just close tighter. I feel so blessed that we weren't completely unprepared for twins, that my husband is an expert on having a twin brother and can be a example to the boys or someone to talk to when they might have problems with being a twin in the future. (I know how competitive boys can be and I know how competitive multiples can be with each other. )

And seeing photos like this just completely tug at my heart strings. These two little guys really are so blessed.

a trip to the park with two sets of twins.

While our family was here visiting, we made a little trip over to the park 2 blocks from our house. I LOVE living so close to this huge place. It's close enough that I can let the boys walk over there with me instead of pushing them in the stroller. They're learning to hold hands when crossing the street (even though I have to fight them most of the time) and the walk there and back wears them out. 

I feel like having a toddler is similar to having a puppy. You have to walk them or they'll tear apart your house. We wore them out. We also let them try pull ups, and had a world record time on the swings, which would previously hold their attention for all of 30 seconds.

And as you'll see, the big boys had just as much fun as the little ones. Men. *eye roll*

I'm less of a woman because I never cook.

Sometimes I feel like a totally bad wife/mother for not being the ultimate chef in the kitchen. It's not that I can't cook. It's not that I'm a bad cook. I just don't and here are a couple of my main issues:

1) I never have all the ingredients I need.
2) I don't make the time to do it and then by the time I need to, it's too late.
3) There are so many recipes in this world I get overwhelmed and don't know what to chose/where to start.
4) I can't just throw things together. I need directions to follow.

I think good cooking comes with experience and well, I'm just inexperienced. My mom cooked, usually many of the same easy things; goulache, chili, spaghetti, hamburger helper, pancakes for dinner...things that were cheap, quick and that my brothers and sister liked. They'd make huge batches of pancakes and freeze leftovers.   

Things I find myself cooking when I actually DO cook: burgers or chicken (on the Forman), some form of pasta with an easy canned sauce, taco night...that's pretty much it. I can make chocolate chip cookies from memory and can almost do it with banana bread, so you know how much I make those.

It was my goal this year to get more experience cooking. With all this moving business, this goal has been kind of lost in the wind and I we're just eating quick and easy things again. I want to cook dinner, I just don't know where to start. Pinterest is nice and all but so overwhelming.

I need your advice/help. Send me your favorite websites, recipes, cooking knowledge etc. I'm going to start piecing it together, using it and posting it here to show my progress. 

And to those of you who've had questions: No, we don't have a grill. Yes, we have a crockpot. I'm allergic to mushrooms, so non of those. And probably no recipes with seafood because we don't do much of that here. 

HALP guys!

lumberjack photoshoot

Remember when I posted about the boys' photoshoot a couple of weeks ago? Well the pictures turned out beautiful-it was such a fun theme. Here are some photos (including a couple of the dudes) from the Ania Couture lumberjack wedding photoshoot.

All of the following images are from the facebook album, you can go like them here. And all images were shot by Ashley Forrette Photography.