Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Happy Birthday Luke & Logan

I know I already posted about the Luke & Logan turning 2, but thought I would send a huge thank you to all the family that helped to celebrate at their party. We don't have a ton of space to house our big families, so it was immediate family there to celebrate the two littles. We went with a school bus theme as they are obsessed with buses (and really anything with wheels) right now. They were very excited about the balloons and all the bus stuff :) I had some fun finding ideas on Pinterest, and my sister did a great job designing their banner. It's nice to have a party because it forces you to actually clean up your house, but I'm kinda glad we get to do their party together, one party is a lot easier than planning two separate ones!

They really enjoyed blowing out their birthday candles (I think we let them do it 3 times!). Luke was very shy at first and wouldn't do anything, but finally, when Logan blew Luke's candle out, he gained a little courage and decided to join in the fun. It always takes a little egging on from one twin to the other to get them convinced :)  After candles we dished out the cake an ice cream - the boys liked the icing the best. Since the party was in the afternoon, they started to get a little cranky so we moved on to opening their gifts. Since they are just two, they don't completely understand the idea of being gracious and thankful for gifts yet, so there was a lot of favoritism and throwing things around, but I think they had a good time opening gifts. This was good preparation for Christmas which is just around the corner. All the kids loved playing in the firetruck ball pit and let all the adults relax a bit after all the food, cake and ice cream. There was a lot of yummy food but wanted to share a quick recipe for the fruit dip that I made for the party. You can modify this dip however you want, but it's super yummy and a healthier version than the caramel dip! Also have some pictures below of all the decorations and fun!

Fluffy Peanut Butter Dip
original recipe
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter (natural if possible)
1 cup vanilla yogurt (you can use plain and add a little honey and vanilla if you want to limit the sugar)
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 container whipped topping (thawed)

Directions:In a mixing bowl, mix peanut butter, yogurt and cinnamon.  Fold or mix in whipped topping.  You can mix/blend it up if you want it to be creamy, or you can just lightly fold it in if you if you want it more airy and fluffy. Keep refrigerated in covered container. Serve with apples, grapes, strawberries and pineapple, or whichever fruit you enjoy!

Bus Party Decor!

Blowing out our candles!
Presents, so spoiled!

Love our family!

Friday, November 1, 2013

My babies are 2!

Well we have had a VERY busy October, sorry for no blogging, hopefully back to normal here in November...I mean there will be no more daylight so I should have plenty of time right? Except my children act like they are nocturnal. And while it irks me they have so much energy in the evening and go to bed so late, when they sleep in until 8 or 9 most mornings I remember it's not so bad :) So, I'll start out my November posts with info. about my now TWO-year old two little boys. I have lots to catch you up on with everything that went on, but here are some starters with what they little devils are up to now:

  • Luke Stats: 33 1/2" tall and 22 lbs 14 oz. (grew 3" and 2 pounds since 18 month check-up)
  • Logan Stats: 33 1/2" tall and 24 lbs 8 oz. (grew 3" and 2 pounds since 18 month check-up)
  • Learning & Activities: Such active little boys, always full of energy, running around all over, rarely take breaks; they love to use Tim's tools and try to use them correctly - mostly screw drivers and hammers; love to stack blocks, canned goods, whatever they can find; they still like to push things around like a mower and grocery cart. They also like to ride the little trikes we got them for their birthdays. They can't quite reach the pedals, but can walk around with their feet on them. They love the stone pile behind our barn, climbing it and throwing stones.They can say how old they are (two, while holding up 1 finger on each hand). Absolutely LOVE playing with trucks, tractors, trains, anything with wheels. Also like to hook up trains and haul things. 
  • Sleep patterns: Wake up between 8 and 9am, one afternoon nap about 2 hours after lunch and to bed in the evening between 9 and 10pm
  • Potty Training: Luke is doing great, very few accidents, wears big boy underpants all the time, except for during naps and at night
  • Teeth: They are working on getting their eye teeth, and it's been about a month now (they have been late teethers the whole way, and always take forever to come in) and have no signs of their two year molars, will likely be a few months until those come in
  • Language: LOTS of improvements in this area! They are finally starting to mimic us and have added to their vocabulary a ton! Their favorite word is still "Uh-Oh" and I hear this one a million times a day. But, they also are getting very good at Please and Thank you (nice little manners...sometimes), and say words like kitty, pumpkin, bye bye, bubbles, truck, tractor, cheese, and no no no no no. They also make cute noises - roaring like a tiger, semi-truck noise - honk honk, lots of giggles.
  • Good Behavior: as mentioned above, they are starting to say please and thank you. They kiss and hug and love on us. They also give kisses when they want something. They will hug each other and Luke especially tries to comfort Logan when he's said or upset
  • Bad Behavior: The biting has been better, they usually only bit if their teeth are really bothering them. Now, it's on to throwing. As soon as they don't get their way or they are frustrated, they pick up whatever is closest (fridge magnets, trucks, tractors, a potty chair, a grocery cart) and throw it. Their aim has gotten better lately too....
  • Twin Behavior: They can be so cute sometimes. They will try to sit on a chair together and play around with each other, hugging, chattering, talking in each other's faces; they hug occasionally, and just like to be in each other's company. They also get tired of each other sometimes are can be very competitive. If Luke wants something, Logan wants that same thing. The rare time that we do separate them and hang out with them individually, they are usually looking for the other one by the time it's Some days and hours I want to pull my hair out and runaway, but many times they just melt my heart...I don't remember what life was like before I had them, but I do know I wouldn't want it any other way :)

    Here are some pictures of my little guys from 2 years ago and a few over the last year:


Monday, September 23, 2013

Potty Training x2

Over the last month or so my children have given me some subtle and not so subtle queues that they might be ready for potty-training. They are fascinated with the potty and love to flush it...and they have also been reaching into their diapers and pull out some poop to show me that they did indeed poop. Nice. So any who, I decided it was time to give it a go, but knew I wanted to make a serious attempt. So I loaded up on following items:
  • training underpants (1.99 clearance sale at JC Penny's :), 
  • two green froggy potty chairs - and yes before you ask, of course we had to get two potty chairs, they will definitely want to go potty at the same time, and I don't have time or the energy to try to do it separately
  • a stool 
  • potty seat for the regular toilet
  • flushable wipes
  • lots of **treats** (aka M&M's and fruit snacks)
  • as much patience and understanding as I could muster
  • Several bottles of wine, or booze of choice

So, with all of that now in stock I was reach. Kind of. I was actually really not looking forward to it, but had blocked my schedule for at least a week in order to really give it a good effort. I figured if they were going to understand what we were doing I would be the one getting trained....to remind them to go to the potty, sit on the potty, etc etc, a million times a day. So we went cold turkey on a Wednesday morning, and took the diapers off when they got up in the morning and only wore underwear the rest of the day. Diapers were only allowed during nap time and bedtime/overnight. The first few days went about as I thought they would, lots and lots of accidents, running around naked, missing the potty my a few seconds (and peeing on the floor), etc, etc, BUT I was pleasantly surprised that we did have several successes the first few days where both boys peed and pooped in the potty a few times. I considered this a huge victory. I also journaled the first few days so I could hopefully see patterns and progress. By the end of Day 3 I do think I was doing less laundry, but overall they still weren't 100% getting it. I was so tired of asking them if they needed to go potty, giving them an M&M and then trying to grab them as they run away naked  and laughing, but this momma was determined to keep at it. All the hard work was not going to be in vain. Then Saturday night happened and I snapped and gave in....temporarily (not at the boys....just went back to diapers for a bit go regain sanity). We took a quick trip to my mom and dad's because I needed a break, after 4 full days of being trapped with mostly naked children and lots of clean-up I needed a little break. While there, we were eating some dinner and watching a Buckeyes pre-game while the boys played on the floor slightly out of sight on the other side of the kitchen island. After a while we hear the dreaded "Uh-oh". So, Tim walked over to see what this was about, and he roared, very loudly "WHAT?!?!?!" I believe both children jumped about 4 inches off the floor. Apparently one of them had pooped and they thought they should try to clean it up themselves with the doggy treat containers, plastic hammers and the play dustbuster. Good try...not. It was so so so so gross. We had to to do massive clean-up, baths, throw away a plastic container that had poop in all the hinges, etc and disinfect. After that, we quickly left to go back to our home. So, apparently the boys were not quite ready to leave the nest yet in undies. 

Sunday was a break day, and they had diapers on the entire 2nd half of the day and this momma took a break! But, alas, Monday came all too soon and it was back to the training. I had the rest of the week to see what could happen and that's all I was really giving it. Mercy was granted to me on Wednesday when Luke went 24 hours without an accident. It was AH-MAY-ZING!! And I finally started seeing the light that at least one of my children may be getting the hang of this thing. Party sounds were going off in my head and I was almost dizzy. My other minion has decided he's not super interested in the potty, and only will use it (and he uses it correctly and will go pee or poo in it) when he wants a treat - primarily chocolate...I think he's his mother's son :) So, Logan is in diapers, but occasionally using the potty and Luke is in underpants all the time and really doing great! He's starting to let us know sometimes when he has to go (we don't ALWAYS have to remind him!) and that is also an awesome step in the right direction. So, here are my lessons learned: 
  • The 3-day potty training method, may be slightly inaccurate on the # of days it actually takes to potty train a 22 month old child
  • I 100% recommend going cold turkey at first and only using training underpants or nothing at all, whatever your preference is. Less confusion and more re-enforcement for the child that this is the new norm
  • Trying to potty train twins is challenging, especially when it's your first time around and they can be little crazy boys that have a mind of their own
  • Due to the lack of clothing and nakedness during potty training, my children now want to play naked all the time....always new problems to deal with! 
  • Perseverance and structure is KEY! Don't give up, never give up! It took us at least a week to get to a place where they started getting the hang of it, but it has been worth it to actually see progress and know there is a light at the end of a very long tunnel
  • When you start potty training you have to train yourself to be a constant reminder for your child, it can get old and annoying to have to constantly ask them and poke/prod them to get on the potty, but completely necessary if you want to drill it into their brains
  • Never take your eyes off of them...this is impossible, but the poop episode has made me wary
  • Celebrating with the happy potty dance after we have a successful potty is A LOT of fun for everyone
and next steps:
  • Keep working on Luke to get him fully potty-trained and telling us each time he has to go potty
  • Work on teaching them how to successfully take their pants and underpants off every time by themselves
  • Start weaning them off the treats (already doing this, if they don't ask for them or seem to miss them, then I don't always give a treat)
  • Work on action plan of how to work on PTing when we leave our house and/or out in public
  • Work with Logan to get him more interested and back in undies rather than diapers
So overall this will be an on-going process but I am very happy with the results so far. I will check back in after a few weeks to let you know how things are going!

Here are a few fun potty pics I have from our time together....warning some are a little graphic ;)

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Our First Home

So, I have posted several times about the land we bought, the house plans, etc, but I haven't talked much lately about what has been going on with our house in Columbus. That is because I didn't want to jinx it! We took our good old time getting it ready for sale and finally decided to list with a realtor in August so we could hopefully (fingers crossed!) quickly get rid of it and get our equity back to put into our new home. So, we listed it, and then two days later I get a call from the realtor and he says that we have an offer! Already?!?! Well, they came in pretty low, so I wasn't too hopeful, but we ended up getting close to what we were asking and moved into contract. So we have been going through all the motions, appraisals, FHA loans, inspections, repairs, etc, and finally we were just waiting for the closing date on October 4th. I was nervous, as you never know what might happen between now and then.

I got a call from our realtor on Tuesday asking if we could move the closing up to Wednesday....of this week! Whoa...that was quick and unexpected! So we rearranged our schedules and left early Wednesday morning for Columbus so we could make sure there wasn't anything else we had left at the house before we it was finally sold. It was a little sad to know that is the last time we will get to walk through our first home together. We bought that house and it was our own little adventure. Tim was moving to Columbus (a huge step for him!) and it was where we started our lives together. It's also where we remodeled the spare room into a nursery and brought our brand new baby boys home to. They grew up for the first year and half of their life there and we really made so many memories together there as a family!! So, needless to say, even though I'm super excited for our new house and all the land we have, I still felt sentimental about leaving our first home. So, here are a few flashback pics of our house and a few pictures from the day of our closing, the last day we were there! Good news, all went smoothly and we officially sold our home as of noon today, and I just checked (11:30pm on 9/19) and the money is in the bank, so to speak! So, onto bigger and better things, but I will always remember that home with many very happy memories!!
Last photo in front of our first home

Logan's Monkey

Luke's Monkeys

Pending...and SOLD!

Front view of our home

Note to the seller...we were definitely attached to our house and want the next owners to love it as much as we did!

One thing we did not like about the house, all the GEESE!

Back view

Village of Minerva Park - where we called home for 5+ years

Locking up the last time!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Some of our favorite Asian dishes

Here at the Clouse house, we love Asian inspired meals! Tim could probably eat at an Asian buffet several times a week if it was his choice. While I am not the biggest fan of buffets (not usually very healthy and too many preservatives!), we have incorporated several really yummy Asian meals into our dinner and lunch rotations at home. I try to make them somewhat healthy by adding veggies, making my own sauces and using brown rice or brown rice noodles, or even spaghetti squash! I have also found our that the boys really really like these meals too (especially the ones with peanut butter on the sauce), which is an added bonus!

Asian Peanut Noodles
Original recipe

For the Peanut Sauce:
14.5 oz fat free chicken broth
5 tbsp peanut butter or PB2 (mix with water as directed on packaging)
1 tbsp Sriracha chili sauce
2 tbsp honey
2 tbsp soy sauce (use Tamari for gluten free)
1 tbsp freshly grated ginger, - (I don't like a strong ginger taste, so I use minimal ginger in the sauce)
2 cloves garlic, minced
For the Chicken:
16 oz chicken breast, cut into thin strips
salt and pepper (to taste)
1 tbsp Sriracha chili sauce (more or less to taste)
juice of 1/2 lime
5 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tbsp fresh ginger, grated
1 tbsp soy sauce (use Tamari for gluten free)
Veggies & Noodles:
1/2 tbsp sesame oil
8 oz rice noodles
3/4 cup green onion, chopped
1 1/4 cups shredded carrots
1 1/4 cups cup shredded broccoli slaw 
2 tbsp chopped peanuts 
1 lime, sliced
cilantro chopped

For the peanut sauce: Combine and whisk 1 cup chicken broth, peanut butter, sriracha, honey, 2 tbsp soy sauce, ginger, and 2-3 cloves crushed garlic in a small saucepan and simmer over medium-low heat stirring occasionally until sauce becomes smooth and well blended, about 5-10 minutes. Cook it until it is the desired consistency, I like it a little thicker, but if it gets too thick you can add more broth to thin it out. Set aside.
For Noodles: Boil water for the noodles cook pasta according to package instructions. Drain and set aside. They may stick together or be sticky, but will loosen up once peanut sauce is added below. 
For Chicken: Season chicken with salt and pepper, sriracha, lime, garlic, ginger and soy sauce; marinate the chicken for a 30 minutes to a few hours prior to cooking. Heat a large skillet or wok until hot. Add seasme oil and sauté chicken on high heat until cooked through, about 2-3 minutes; remove from heat and set aside.
For Veggies: Add 2 cloves crushed garlic, scallions, carrots, broccoli slaw, chopped cilantro and chopped peanuts and salt, sauté until tender crisp, about 3 to 5 minutes. (I turn the heat up kinda high to get a little char on a few of the veggies)

Pull it all together: Toss noodles with peanut sauce and additional chicken broth if needed to loosen the sauce. When chicken is cooked, toss with noodles. Divide noodles and chicken between 6 bowls, top with sauteed vegetables, bean sprouts, chopped peanuts (or you can toss everything together to hide the vegetables so your family members don't push them aside!) and garnish with additional cilantro and peantus.

Veggie/Chicken Fried Rice


  • 1 cup instant brown rice
  • 1 cup vegetable or chicken broth
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil/canola oil
  • Chopped veggies, can include any or all of the following: 
  •      onion, diced
  •      asparagus spears, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces (about 1/2 bunch)
  •      red and/or green bell pepper, thinly sliced into 1-inch pieces
  •      celery chopped into small pieces
  •      carrots sliced thinly or grated
  •      4 scallions, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
  • 4 teaspoons reduced-sodium soy sauce or Bragg Liquid Aminos 
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • Hot red pepper sauce (sriracha), to taste

    1. Combine rice and broth in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat. Cover, reduce heat and simmer until the liquid is absorbed, 12 to 14 minutes. Spread the rice out on a large plate and let stand for 5 minutes. You can also cook the rice the day before or earlier in the day, the recipe turns out better if the rice is a little dry, not soggy

  • 2. While the rice is cooling, coat a large nonstick wok or skillet with cooking spray and place over medium heat. Pour in eggs and cook, stirring gently, until just set, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Transfer to a small bowl.
  • 3. Heat canola oil or sesame oil in the pan over medium-high; add  onions, carrots, celery, asparagus, bell pepper, and cook for a few minutes to start to soften, but not all the way cooked; then add in the scallions, garlic and ginger; cook, stirring, until the vegetables are just tender, about another 2 minutes. Add the cooked rice, soy sauce and vinegar to the pan; cook until the liquid is absorbed, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Fold in the cooked eggs. Remove from the heat; stir in sesame oil and hot sauce. 
**Note - you can add in more protein by cooking some chicken or shrimp and adding in at the end as well.

Spaghetti Squash Noodle Bowl + Lime Peanut Sance
Original recipeSquash ingredients:
1 large spaghetti squash, cut in half lengthwise + seeds scooped out
4-5 kale stalks (7-8 if you’re using lacinato), stems removed
1 shallot, peeled (onion can be substituted)
1/2 cup chopped toasted nuts of your preference (I used peanuts)
3 tbsp sesame seeds (toasted, raw, etc)
chopped leafy herb if you feel it (cilantro, mint, thai basil etc - I love cilantro in my asian dishes)
1 cup of broccoli slaw (or broccoli florets if you prefer)
grated carrots (optional)
salt + pepper
Lime peanut sauce ingredients:
1/2 inch fresh ginger, peeled + rough chopped - you can also substitute the ginger dried spice)
2 cloves of garlic, peeled + rough chopped
1-2 tsp sriracha (or other hot sauce you like)
2 tbsp peanut butter
1 lime, juiced
1 tbsp rice vinegar 
2 tsp agave or honey 
1.5 tbsp low sodium soy sauce or Braggs Liquid Amino
little scoop of extra virgin coconut oil (optional)
tiny splash of toasted sesame oil
1/2 cup grapeseed oil or canola, whatever on-hand that is light
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Line a baking sheet with parchment and place the squash halves, cut side down, onto a piece of parchment paper on the sheet. Bake for about an hour or until the flesh pulls away in easy strands. 
While the squash is baking, slice the kale leaves into 1/3 inch-ish ribbons and place in a large bowl. Cut the shallot in half lengthwise, slice the halves into thin half-moons and set aside. Chop up the herbs and toasted nuts as well, set them aside with the shallows. If you're using broccoli, you can steam it, or if using broccoli slaw place the slaw, carrots, kale, herbs, peanuts and shallots into a skillet and stir-fry for several minutes until they are cooked to desired softness - I like mine a little seared and softer. 
For the sauce, place all of the sauce ingredients in a blender and bend until fully incorporated. Taste for seasoning and set aside.
When squash is cool enough to handle, scrape the spaghetti strands out with a fork into the large bowl. Separate the squash into bowls and top each portion of squash with the veggie mixture, sauce and sesame seeds. Enjoy!!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Settling In.....

So, we are now moved and settled into our new place! It's kind of crazy but it's been over a month and half already! Things have been busy as usual, coupled with the vacations we have been on and trying to wrap up a few work projects, not much time to organize. So that's my next goal :) But, I have included a few pictures from our move in late June and some updated pictures of some of the projects Tim has been working on at the house! He has been SO busy getting our interim lodging in good shape and trying to get things ready to build our new house. I am so excited for the new house, but not excited for all the work it's going to be. And, I'm not even the one that will be doing most of the manual labor. I know that Tim will be really busy and under stress with work, and the house during the next 6 to 9 months, so I will do my best to keep the peace with the little guys so he can keep moving along. So, I'm excited, but just ready to have it done already....or started at least :)

Actually, we are making good progress right now with getting the building site ready. We had a total of 7 buildings on the property when we moved here, and our intention is to only have two left evenutally. So, Tim has already taken down two buildings, a neighbor took one across the field (see pics below, it was crazy!) and is waiting on a few people to pick up two more. We have had so much rain, that it has been difficult to get the buildings moved. With the constant rain we have had lately, some of this has been postponed several weeks. Who knew July and August would seem like April and May? Hopefully that means we'll have a dry fall which would be perfect for building! There is one building still scheduled to go this weekend, and then the last little building to be moved is small and out of the way, so that one is not a huge rush. There have been a few bonfires and lots of help from Tim's Dad and brother (and a few others have stopped by to pitch in along the way) to get things moving here. Once the buildings are moved Tim can work on putting the driveway in. We are also finalizing the house plans so once that is complete, then the next step would be to dig the basement. We are hoping to have that project underway soon! I've included a few demolotion pictures below as well to show some of the progress!