Saturday, July 28, 2012

Settling, sacrificing and cereal

I was watching an ad for Special K tonight, and it got me thinking about sacrifice. As Catholics, we talk a lot about sacrifice. After all, Jesus' sacrifice on the cross is what brought us salvation, and we recall this during Mass in the Eucharistic Celebration. For this reason, we are also called to personal sacrifice in the name of our faith. That can mean different things to different people. For example, a Lenten sacrifice might be as simple as forgoing chocolate for 40 days, and recalling Jesus' sacrifice when faced with a desire for chocolate; or as complex as not driving for 40 days and recalling Jesus' sacrifice while walking, biking or taking public transit. At the other end of the spectrum, the sacrifice of the martyrs was death. We aren't just called to sacrifice during Lent, either. We can offer up our suffering as a sacrifice, abstain from certain behaviors as a sacrifice, and, certainly, deny ourself something we're craving to sacrifice.

I can sense your confusion. Yes, Catholicism has everything to do with sacrifice (and the sun rises in the east and the sky is blue). But what's the connection with Special K? Well, in order for something to be a sacrifice, we have to miss it when it's gone, feel that something is truly lacking. If you eat chocolate every single day and really love it, giving it up for Lent would be reasonable because you would feel something was lacking. However, if you only eat chocolate every once in a while, it wouldn't be much of a sacrifice.

Here's the connection. The commercial for Special K suggests a substitution. The woman depicted in the ad is sitting on the couch, while the narrator describes her craving for chocolate. She smiles as she gets up and pours herself a bowl of chocolate-flavored Special K, because now she's fulfilled her need for chocolate. Settle for the cereal, the commercial continues, and you can even lose weight! I've eaten Special K before, and it's fine as a cereal. Tastes pretty good, actually. It's not chocolate, though. Now, I realize that most people are not eating chocolate-flavored cereal on a regular basis as a substitute for the real thing. Diet foods, however, are often touted as "indulgences" that can stand in for what you're craving. To follow this logic, you could have a peanut butter-chocolate granola bar and skip the peanut butter-chocolate ice cream. The beauty of this approach, the diet companies rave, is not having to sacrifice the tastes you crave. But is this really such a good thing? Is sacrifice inherently bad?

Sacrifice, in and of itself, is a wonderful thing. Note: I did not say it is fun, or comfortable, or easy. Jesus died for us, for our sins, though, so the least we can do is to offer up our own sacrifice in His name. Our culture is so full of ways to keep from sacrificing that it's easy to get the wrong perspective. We'll settle for bland, tasteless, artificial-everything "foods" to try to convince ourselves that we're eating rich, indulgent fare. We're willing to settle for innumerable side effects and even risk cancer (from hormonal contraceptives) to avoid having to sacrifice sex. We settle for quick Facebook wall posts to avoid sacrificing too much of our time catching up with an old friend by letter or phone. We're so focused on avoiding sacrifice, we fail to see it for what it really is: a truly beautiful way to recall what Jesus did for us. So the next time you're sitting on the couch, craving chocolate, either have a piece or don't. If you're always settling, you'll never really be able to sacrifice - and that would be a shame indeed.

"And so, I beg you, brothers, by the mercy of God, that you offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God, with the subservience of your mind.2 And do not choose to be conformed to this age, but instead choose to be reformed in the newness of your mind, so that you may demonstrate what is the will of God: what is good, and what is well-pleasing, and what is perfect." Romans 12:1-2

Friday, July 27, 2012

7 Quick Takes: Volume 10: One Month Plus

Thanks to Jen for hosting! This is my second attempt at Volume 10 of my Quick Takes. I have to admit, I started writing them on Tuesday last week, much earlier than normal, and . . . I still didn't get past #5. We were busy. And that's just fine. As a new mom with twins, blogging even once a week is a big accomplishment in my mind. I'll definitely keep trying, because I enjoy writing and I want to have these memories recorded for us later on and for our family and friends now, but sometimes it won't

--- 1 ---
Emily and Erin are one month old now! This meant that I got to flip ahead another chapter in What to Expect: The First Year. It's funny how I don't always notice things that they're doing as big achievements until I find them as "new skills" in there. For example, I'd noticed both of the girls were making an "eh, eh" sound when they were hungry, prior to crying and wailing to let us know they wanted food. I was relieved to figure out this meant they were hungry, but I assumed I'd just missed them doing this before. When I read the summary of new skills for a one-month-old, saying "ah" or "ooh" was on the list. It took me a few hours to make the connection (we'll blame sleep deprivation here) but I was so excited when I figured it out! Both girls are getting stronger, and getting better at lifting their heads. Neither one of them is too excited about tummy time (okay, they cry straight through), so we don't do it every day yet, but they do work on lifting their heads when we hold them upright to our shoulders.
Erin, investigating our TV cabinet

Emily, curled up for a nap in her Boppy pillow

--- 2 ---
Inspired by some posts I'd seen on other mommies' blogs, I wrote a summer bucket list for our family. In my new sleep-deprived fog, I love the idea of having all of these ideas and goals in one place where I can remember them. Dan wasn't home, so I wasn't able to get his input, but I'm sure he'll agree with most of them. So far, we have gone to the coast as a family, I've made something (two things, actually!) from Pinterest, and I finished a 7-day Bible study on parenting on my phone (using this Bible app, which I highly recommend! Did I mention it's free?). What's on your summer bucket list?
--- 3 ---
I finished a Pinterest project! I got this idea from Caitlin's blog, and I absolutely loved it. It is a picture frame, with the glass left on, which makes it function as a dry erase board. How awesome is that? I made it for Dan as a gift for our 4th anniversary. He really liked it, and we're planning to hang it either in our bedroom or somewhere else in our apartment so we can write notes to each other. Caitlin mentions making similar frames for their children, and I think it's a great idea!

--- 4 ---
I said above that I made two things from Pinterest, and the second one was DIY jewelry cleaner. I tried it first on my wedding ring, and I have to say, based on the reviews, I was a little disappointed. My ring definitely looked cleaner, but not nearly as nice as when I take it to the jewelry store and they clean it. I should say, I'd finally pried my ring off after about 5 months of it being stuck firmly on my swollen finger, so it probably was excessively dirty. I think I will need to take it in and get it professionally cleaned - they're always happy to clean it for me, I just need to a) actually get out to the mall and b) be able to slide my ring off when I'm there. Perhaps I should add that one to the bucket list . . .
Back to the jewelry cleaner. I gave it another chance, this time on my diamond stud earrings that Dan got me a few years ago. Now I can see what the reviews meant! My earrings sparkled like never before. I'll definitely make this again! (I should have taken before and after pictures . . . I just didn't think of it. Sorry.)
--- 5 ---
Since Erin and Emily were born, I've been wondering exactly when I'd feel more like a grownup. You can read my post on that here. Based on the comments I've gotten on this, both on here and on Facebook, I'm not the only one who feels this way. What do you think?
This sums up my conundrum pretty well :)

--- 6 ---
Sleep deprivation is really starting to catch up with me. I notice this more when I'm out and about, doing things I used to do on a full night's sleep (like carry on a conversation with another adult). Sometimes I can't even string together a coherent sentence. And yet, when I'm at home with Emily and Erin during the day, it just feels normal - I've always been tired! I am still so grateful for my morning burst of energy. I thank God every day for giving me this day with my daughters, and I really do feel lucky. No matter how tired I am, I look forward to drinking a cup of coffee and doing my best to take care of them for another day.
--- 7 ---
I'm starting to think about dressing for my new role as a mommy, particularly at church. Obviously, clothes have nothing to do with why we're attending Mass, but I do think it's important to dress respectfully. That being said . . . I don't do a very good job. Yes, I do wear nicer clothes than other days, but I generally wear jeans and sometimes even a sweatshirt. Our neck of the woods is pretty casual, so you can get away with this (as I've mentioned before) but I want to set a better example for Emily and Erin. I also think we'll be a little less invisible when we're out with them (okay, a LOT less invisible) so I want to make sure we make a good impression as a family. In order to do this, I think I need to get some new church clothes. I need your help, dear readers. Where can I find knee-length or just above the knee-length skirts in small sizes? I'd like to find something patterned, so I can get two tops to make different outfits without spending a lot of money. Anyone have any ideas? I think I need to follow some fashion-on-a-budget blogs, though I can't say I care for a lot of styles at the moment, particularly the tucked-in shirt with high-waisted miniskirt look. I think a shirt that comes past your natural waist over your skirt and a longer skirt are much more flattering. Ladies, I'm open to  your input: what do you wear to church? Any suggestions for places to find good deals on church-appropriate clothes?
Thanks for reading! 
For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

In which I don't feel very much like a grownup . . .

I don't really feel very much like a grownup. There. I said it. Notice I didn't say adult; that title is conferred upon anyone who passes their 18th birthday. I guess I'm not really sure what a grownup is supposed to feel like. I always imagined I'd feel different. I thought I'd look different, too; grownup clothes and all that. I certainly knew I'd act differently. After all, a grownup is responsible. You make your own doctor's appointments, you buy your own toothpaste. You spend your own money, and when you run out that's it. You pick out your own clothes, for better or for worse. If you want to walk out the door looking "like no nice girl in my day would have" you're free to do that, provided you're covered within the confines of the law, of course. You carry a purse (if you're a girl) instead of a backpack, because you're not a student anymore. You drink coffee to stay awake, and most of the time you even drink it black. The pinnacle of true grownupness, in my young mind, was that cup of black coffee. I couldn't figure out how anybody could drink the stuff. The rich, brown odor was deceiving. It tasted nothing like it smelled. And yet my parents, and most other grown-ups, drank cup after cup of the stuff, the stronger the better. I tested this theory every time I made coffee for them (somewhere around 5 scoops is the point of diminishing marginal utility, apparently). Periodically, I tasted my handiwork plain and unadorned, but I just couldn't drink it. I had my coffee either heavily laced with cream or swirled through the steaming, milky foam of a latte. I began to think perhaps I'd never be a grown-up.

Perhaps I should explain how I came to ponder this subject. It started this past weekend, on a trip over to the coast for the day. We'd decided that the hour's drive was doable with Emily and Erin, now that we were comfortable enough with our routine to take the show on the road. As we were driving over, I asked Dan if he'd ever imagined what he'd look like as a grownup. I added that I had somehow always imagined that one day, I'd suddenly start dressing and acting like.  . . like other grownups. The moms, the ones who went out with their little ones looking polished and chic, effortlessly pulled together in slim, fashion-forward jeans and sweaters or trendy jackets, always wearing svelte heeled boots or trim little ballet flats, never tennis shoes. Their hair was always presentable, if not impeccably styled. I pictured myself falling into this style as effortlessly as these moms seemed to have created it, but somehow it never happened.

I'm not exactly what you'd call frumpy, but I'm not a trendy dresser either. I tend towards the more casual, comfortable clothing I've worn since the end of high school, updated periodically as I find new things I like. I'm good at looking cute, but I've never gotten the hang of looking "polished" or "chic" on a regular basis. I have to work at it. Which brings me back to the original conversation. Headed over to the coast, I was wearing a black cotton t-shirt with a deep v-neck over a white lace-trimmed tank top; well-worn jeans, and black Converse tennis shoes. I'd brought along a hooded pullover sweatshirt, emblazoned with the logo of the cross-country team I helped coach last fall. If you didn't know me, catch a glimpse of my wedding ring, or see the twins, it'd be hard to tell coach from runner. I am young (26), and I look even younger. But I digress. I've tried to dress my age, but I just can't do it. It doesn't fit my lifestyle. I own several pairs of cute ballet flats, and I wear them on occasion, but I get blisters and sore feet from making them everyday shoes. I have graduated from wearing running shoes on a regular basis, which is an improvement. I just still dress . . . well, like I did in college. Which is a step up from how I dressed in high school. And I don't know if that will change anytime soon. Right now, I feel like I'm doing pretty well if I get out of the house with a clean shirt on ;)

So perhaps there's more to this grownup thing. Back in high school, there were certainly people who routinely looked more pulled-together and polished than I could if I tried. And I know other grownups who don't drink black coffee - some who don't drink coffee at all, in fact. Starbucks wouldn't be in business if everyone preferred their coffee black! I do other things that grownups do; I make my own doctor's appointments (heck, I make the whole family's doctor's appointments!) and I buy our toothpaste. As for the grown-up feeling? Well, maybe it's there and I just don't recognize it for what it is. After all, I've been working full-time since I was 20. I got my bachelor's degree while working full-time and going to school full-time. I'm a Mrs. and a mommy, both trademarks of the female grownup set. I even got a phone call yesterday, from the pharmacy at Target, asking if I was Erin's mom. I was so startled I almost didn't know how to respond! Being identified only as your child's mother - now that is one of the ways you know you are a parent!

I suppose that even without that grown-up feeling I expected, somewhere along the way, I did indeed become a grownup. I don't think that polished, chic look will ever come naturally to me, and my life feels pretty complete without it. I don't want to stop trying - after all, I want my daughters to know their mama is confident in her looks and dresses to show that confidence, as they should too - but I'm going to stop waiting for it to happen on its own. I don't know if I look the part, but I can certainly play the role. And as if God somehow knew I was looking for proof this past weekend, it showed up right before my eyes. On a white saucer, to be exact, in a matching white mug. It was steaming hot and richly fragrant, and flanked by two tiny plastic tubs of cream. Ordinarily, I'd peel back the lids, pour in the cream, and stir while my coffee slowly turned the color of my summer tan. But that evening, I had only one hand free; the other was busy holding a bottle for Erin, who was sitting next to me in her carseat. Without a second thought, I picked up the cup and sipped. It tasted . . . just like it smelled. Rich, warm, and satisfying. The most grownup drink (sorry, alcohol) I've ever had. I'm still pondering the true state of "grownup-hood," if you will, but something changed when I finished the last sip of that coffee. Maybe grownups do wear American Eagle jeans and Converse tennis shoes. This one certainly does.

GFC Blog Hop!

It's Tuesday, so head on over to Melissa's blog and check out the GFC Blog Hop! This is always fun and a great way to make some new friends. As I've said before, it's fun to check out all the links even if you don't have a blog, but these ladies (and a few gentlemen too!) are so creative you might just be inspired to start blogging yourself :)

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Summer Bucket List

So I've seen this idea, floating around the bloggy world, of a summer bucket list. Can I just say I love it? Summer goes so fast, especially here, that it's easy to wake up one morning, see the school bus collecting kids on the corner, and realize you haven't done half the summer things you'd wanted to in June. What better way to make sure this doesn't happen than with a summer bucket list? Normally, summer is a hectic time for us, since my husband and I both have jobs that get much busier this time of year. I can't really say that this year has been any less hectic, but since I'm out on maternity leave until September, we have more flexibility than normal in our combined schedules. Plus, we have the added excitement of going from being a couple to a family of four! I know Emily and Erin won't remember this summer, but it doesn't mean I'm not eager to make it memorable. I'll make sure there are plenty of pictures to show them when they get older! Without further ado, then, here is my list so far:

  • Become a twin mommy! I know, I know. No fair starting a list with something I've already done! But as you might remember from this post, putting "breathe" on your to-do list means there will always be something you can check off - and somehow, that makes it easier to cross something else off. 
  • Read a book. To be more specific, a novel. I've read plenty of non-fiction this year (parenting books, twin parenting books, books on pregnancy, and a collection of Depression-era essays on regional cuisine in America) but I haven't read any fiction in quite a while. Any suggestions?
  • Go on a picnic. Dan and I usually do this quite a bit in the summer, and since he proposed to me on a picnic, they hold a special place in my heart. Emily and Erin seem to like being outside, for short periods of time at least, so I plan to greet Dan after work some evening soon with a packed-up dinner (let's be realistic, it'll probably be PBJ, juice, apples, carrots and cookies) and head over to a park as a family to eat our dinner and enjoy the outdoors. 
  • Take our new jogging stroller for a run. Okay, this one might not happen before Labor Day, but I'm hoping it will be possible fairly soon after I'm cleared to try exercising. The stroller isn't very heavy, and it maneuvers well, so I think I could handle at least a mile or so pushing it. I'm excited - my arms have never gotten a workout while I was running before! 
  • Make something from Pinterest. I'm not as addicted to Pinterest as some of my friends, mainly because I really don't have time! I've seen some great, time-saving ideas on there, though, and I really want to try some of them before the summer ends. One last night that really caught my eye was Refrigerator Oatmeal. It uses steel-cut oats and yogurt, and you put them together with milk and fruit overnight. Normally, steel-cut oats take a really long time to cook, but they soak up enough liquid overnight to soften and be edible by morning this way! They are really good for you, so I think I can justify trying this. Plus, oatmeal is supposed to increase your milk supply when nursing, so doubly justified! 
  • Start (and maybe finish?!) a Bible study. I have an app on my phone that not only lets me read the Bible, it links up to a whole bunch of Bible studies with different themes. Some of them are only 7 days, which is great! I like the idea of being able to focus intently on one aspect of Scripture without feeling like I've taken on something insurmountable. I'm three days into a study on Parenting right now - how appropriate! The app is by You Version and can be used on a computer or on your phone (I'm using my phone). It is free and there aren't any ads, which is very nice and so rare these days! 
  • Go to the coast. Normally, we go several times over the course of the summer, but I think one or maybe two trips over will be all we do this year. I'm really excited to take the girls and walk on the beach with them in their baby carriers! They are little enough that I think it would be easy to include them, even though I think it will be more fun for them next year. 
  • Get organized. Yes, I know this isn't a good goal. I paid attention in business school - a good goal should be S.M.A.R.T. (specific, measurable, attainable, reasonable, and timely). But as a new mom of twins, organization is a daily goal! I am always trying to figure out a better system for something so I can make it take just a little bit less time. One project that I have percolating in the background is a menu board that will help us to keep track of what's for dinner each day. This isn't something I found on Pinterest, but I pinned it so it's there now! While I was waiting at Target for a prescription yesterday, I picked up a frame and some clothespins so I can make the board someday soon. If I've got this in working order and I'm keeping track of everything else in my planner by the end of the summer, I will call myself organized! (There, you see? Now I have a SMART goal!)
  • Clean out our closet. This one really should be closer to the top, but I guess I know it's going to happen so that's why it's not. We'll be moving out of our apartment in September, so of course our clothes are going with us! Before we go, though, since our new house has a smaller closet, I really want to reduce our clothes to what we actually wear. I know for a fact that I wear about three-quarters of what resides in my closet on a regular basis, so I can probably find some things that could either be stored elsewhere or that I could get rid of completely. When I do get around to this one, I'll make sure to post some before and after pictures!
  • Get in a routine of making dinner. Making dinner isn't hard, and it promotes family bonding and saves lots of money, all while keeping your family healthier! Once I go back to work in the fall, I'll need to be well-practiced at getting it done while caring for the girls, however. Dan gained some good experience while I was on bed rest, so the two evenings where I won't be home to make dinner, I know he will be able to pull it off. Plus, since I'll be home in the mornings, I can easily make sure everything is there for him to cook or even leave something in the Crock-Pot! 
  • Get in the water. I know swimming probably won't happen, but I really want to get in the water at least once! I don't mean that we have to be paddling around for hours, just that we'll either roll up our pants or be wearing shorts and get our feet and legs wet. This might combine nicely with the trip to the coast, if it's warm enough, or it might combine with a picnic. 
What's on your summer bucket list? What items have you checked off?

I linked this post at Jenna's blog for her Spicy Link-Up!

GFC Blog Hop!

Hey everybody! Happy Tuesday! If you haven't checked it out, you should head over to Melissa's blog and join the GFC Blog Hop! This is a great way to meet new bloggers and find some new blogs to follow. It's fun even if you don't have a blog - you might even be inspired to start your own after checking out some of the links! She hosts it every Tuesday, so make sure to stop by every week!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

7 Quick Takes: Volume 9: Three Weeks Old

Thanks to Jen for hosting!

--- 1 ---

Emily and Erin are three weeks old now, and they learn something new every day. I'm amazed at how much more alert they are when awake. Both of them are starting to hold their head up when I hold them upright; they will deliberately tip their head back to look at my face. My heart melts every time. They seem a little more interested when we talk to them, too, although when they're crying they don't seem to hear anything but their own noise. If I'm holding them, though, they will look towards my face if I'm talking (and they're not sleeping!)

--- 2 ---

Dan and I celebrated our fourth wedding anniversary last night. Four years - hard to believe! It seems like it was just last summer we were standing in front of the altar. We were able to go out to dinner as a gift from his parents - they even baby-sat Emily and Erin for a few hours so we could go! I'm very thankful, because with the whooping cough outbreak here, I wouldn't have been comfortable taking them inside a restaurant, and it's too warm for them to sit outside. We went to Red Lobster, which in our town means waiting at least 45 minutes for a table. Is this the case everywhere? Red Lobster has only been open for a few months here, so I think it might be the novelty of it. We both had yummy dinners, and I ordered the first beer (well, part of a beer) I'd drunk in ten months. I'd become very accustomed to never pulling out my ID at the dinner table. It was nice to celebrate with something I had gone without for so long, but it's certainly not something I miss much.

--- 3 ---

And speaking of marriage, my little brother got married yesterday evening! His new wife's name is Sarah also, so now my parents have two daughters named Sarah. How awesome is that?! I wish that we'd been able to attend their wedding, but it was too far to travel so soon after giving birth, and definitely out of the question for the girls to travel or to be left home while we traveled. We are looking forward to seeing the happy couple soon, though, and are excited for Erin and Emily to meet their new aunt!

--- 4 ---

I loved this article about dressing nicely out of gratitude and respect for the situation. Jen Fulwiler is right; too often we don't take into account how lucky we are to be able to do something. Dressing up doesn't have to mean "Sunday best"; just wearing something nice enough to demonstrate your respect for the situation. This had been percolating in the back of my mind for a few months, but after reading this article, I decided to make an effort to put together some nice, coordinated outfits for church, going out to dinner, etc, to help make sure that Emily and Erin grow up with this idea of dressing respectfully. Especially where we live, I think it can be easy to dress casually and still fit in (a West Coast thing, I suppose), so I'd like to work on this myself to be a good example.

--- 5 ---

I've gained a newfound appreciation for coffee in the last two weeks. I actually almost cried when we ran out yesterday. I thought I was addicted to caffeine before I was pregnant, but this takes it to a whole new level. My first goal every morning when I get up is to make sure I get at least one cup of coffee - without it, I can barely remember my own name!

--- 6 ---

I've been asked a lot lately if I feel like things are "back to normal" now that the twins are here, we're all home, and I'm not pregnant or on bed rest anymore. I posted on this, and I had so much to say that there will definitely be a couple more posts on "the new normal".

--- 7 ---

I'm starting to realize how much I took driving for granted. In April, when I was placed on bed rest, my doctor's office said they preferred I did not drive because of the stress it could place on my body and the contractions that could cause. When I got closer to full term and contractions weren't as much of a concern, I drove a few blocks to Starbucks a couple of times. Our car is an automatic, but we'd had it less than a month when I was placed on bed rest. Prior to that, I'd driven a stick shift for almost 4 years. My left foot was looking for a clutch and my hand wanted the shifter to go sideways, not just up and down. I decided if my muscle memory wasn't driving the same car I happened to be sitting in, maybe driving really wasn't a good idea. And then I had the C-section. I still haven't been cleared to drive. Not that I think I could leave the house with both girls by myself and drive somewhere, but it's the principle of the matter. I miss the freedom of driving, but all in good time, I suppose. I certainly don't feel healed yet; although my outer incision is well healed, my insides ache. I'm beginning to see why they say I'll be out of commission for the better part of 6 weeks. And to think, before my induction all I was worried about was when I could run again!

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

The New Normal: Life as Mommy, Part 1

I'm starting to settle into a routine this week, what I like to call our "new normal." People keep asking me if, after pregnancy and the 9.5 weeks of bed rest, I'm starting to feel like everything's back to normal. The answer is no - but I didn't expect life as it was. For the moment, everything revolves around Emily and Erin's every need, and that is as it should be. Dan went back to work this week, which means that taking care of them has fallen largely on me. After a few days, I can truthfully say that I love it. Being at home with them every day this summer is going to be wonderful.
There are some aspects of this that do feel more like life as I remember it 9 months ago, such as doing laundry, making the bed without help, cooking simple dinners, and being able to bend forward all the way. Little everyday tasks are (mostly) within my reach again, as long as they don't involve lifting anything over 10 pounds or driving. The biggest difference is that everything proceeds at a markedly slower pace. For example, as I was telling one of my friends yesterday, I set goals for myself in the morning. The first goal is to pour a cup of coffee. The second goal is to actually drink the coffee (makes for a much more functional mommy!) Breaking it down like this makes me feel like I've achieved something for the day, kind of like putting "remember to breathe" on your to-do list. (Haven't done this? Try it! You'll always get to check at least one thing off for the day.) Third goal is to take a shower, fourth goal is to dry my hair. You get the idea. After a couple of days of this, I realized that this list of goals is none other than my former morning routine, which I used to blaze through in half an hour (or less!) starting at 4:50 every morning. In comparison, the "new normal" morning routine can take upwards of 3 hours. Once again, this is as it should be. I am learning new tricks every day, though, such as:
1. Never underestimate the calming factor of the blow dryer. It's a well-known fact that babies are used to constant loud noise in utero, but I'd never tested this out until yesterday. Comfortably swaddled on the middle of our bed, fed, freshly diapered, but still fussing loudly, both girls' eyes glazed over the minute I flipped the switch. (As soon as I turned it off, they woke up and remembered they weren't happy for some reason. Oh well. They were calmer than before, so it's worth trying. And it's multi-tasking!)
2. Coffee is just as effective when drunk quickly as when slowly sipped.
3. It may take an extra moment to grab a bib before mealtime, but this moment (30 seconds in reality) saves two minutes of trying to clean up a milky baby and coax her into a clean shirt.
4. Any form of multi-tasking is worth trying. It may take a little forethought, but making lunch to eat while pumping milk saves a whole fifteen minutes. I can make them lunch while eating my own lunch - and I get to sit down while doing both!
5. Leaving the TV on makes it harder to doze off when sitting on the couch with the babies in the middle of the night. It also makes me more motivated to stay up and pump milk as often as recommended during the night. I have seen (or rather, heard) Chopped so many times in the last two weeks. Somehow, though, I've seen the same episodes three or four times each. This must be geared to help insomniacs fall asleep or something. Note to Food Network: not everyone who turns on the TV in the middle of the night is trying to fall asleep.
There are others, I'm sure. I'll post them as I discover/remember them.
As we settle into more of a routine during the day, I'm starting to see patterns emerge. This involved some intense record-keeping, but I realized when I got up at 1:45 this morning that I'd gotten up at 1:45 on Wednesday morning as well. Sure enough, we were up until almost 4 again. (Well, Emily and Erin were asleep by 3:30. I stayed up to pump so they'd have something to eat the next time.) And just as on Wednesday, no sooner had I finished pumping, put the milk in a jar, and crawled back under the covers, they were awake again. Thankfully, today Dan offered to feed both girls so I could go back to sleep for a little bit. Having an idea of when they'd like to eat does make the nights feel more doable. And no matter what, as soon as the sun comes up, I feel a surge of energy. I don't want to know why this is so, because knowing why might make it quit working. I just know I love it!

I linked this post at Jenna's blog for her Spicy Link-Up!

Friday, July 6, 2012

7 Quick Takes: Volume 8: Two Weeks Old

Well, it's still Friday here in our neck of the woods, so here goes! Thanks to Jen for hosting!

--- 1 ---

First off, the important stuff. We had three doctor's appointments this week: a two-week followup visit for me, a two-week checkup for the girls, and another visit to the lactation consultant. I'm healing well, and my doctor is pleased with my progress. She is also not alarmed by my weight loss, which is a relief. It's challenging to find time to eat enough to feed three people once all three are breathing air! The girls are gaining weight like crazy, especially Erin. At birth, Emily weighed 7 lbs 2 oz and Erin weighed 6 lbs 2 oz. Both of them lost a few ounces right after birth, but when we went in yesterday, Emily was up to 7 lbs 3 oz and Erin weighed 6 lbs 11 oz! She's catching up fast! Both girls did well on the tandem feeding pillow for the lactation consultant, although recreating this at home is difficult to say the least. It might be a while before this is my preferred method of feeding - pumping may be time-consuming, but bottles of milk are easier to coordinate for sure!

--- 2 ---

We're getting used to being at home now, after two weeks. We've ventured out a bit more this week, and even took the girls to the grocery store (with the pediatrician's permission)! Let me say that grocery shopping is a lot harder than I remembered (it's been probably 10 weeks), especially the cart pushing part.

--- 3 ---

Everything we've read and heard about twins says that your life will be easier if you make them eat at the same time, but so far this is easier said than done. If they aren't hungry, they just eat a little and wake up again when they are more hungry. This is fine during the day, but a little frustrating at night.

--- 4 ---

I've had a chance to bond more with each girl individually since we've been home, which is so wonderful. I love cuddling with them on my chest or snuggling side by side, and they seem to love it too. One downfall of the C-section and my extended recovery in the hospital was not being able to do this right away. I have to keep reminding myself that they don't know the difference.

--- 5 ---

We're getting to know each girl's personality better as the days go by. Emily is certainly the most vocal, while Erin tends to be quieter but keeps up a constant chatter of sorts. Emily seems to think it's her job to do all the crying for both of them, and if it's been a few minutes and she hasn't been successful in getting what she wants, Erin will chime in but much more quietly. Erin is what our pediatrician calls "a noisy baby", however, since she hums and murmurs constantly. It will be interesting to see how this develops as they get older.

--- 6 ---

As of right now, neither one seems very aware that she has a twin. We put them in their Boppy together today and both of them flailed around and hit each other (gently) a few times until we took Erin out. They do seem aware of us, and both girls will follow my voice if I'm around but someone else is holding them. I'm excited to see how they react once they are more aware of each other.

--- 7 ---

Every time I cuddle up with both of them, I can't help but be amazed that they were both in my belly just a little over two weeks ago!

Every day brings something new, and even though I'm not posting very regularly right now, I'm so excited to share it with you all! Thanks for reading - check back soon for another update!

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!